As many of you readers know from “How I Became a Pagan Witch“, the very vast majority of my family doesn’t know that I’m Pagan. As much as I would love to share this fact with them, I’m totally well aware they won’t be pleased. They’re fairly Christian and most likely won’t understand why I have left Christianity and gone to join what they may perceive as “Satan’s religion”. I just doubt I would be met with open ears, much like others I know. I’ve heard that “family is supposed to love you regardless” but that can turn to rubble when it comes to unintentionally challenging their core beliefs.

I have many Pagan friends and acquaintances who have been met with something less like understanding and more like despair by their own families. There are many stories of vicious fights, disownment, destruction of property regardless of whether or not it is related to their “unusual” part, having to hide or lie to family members – basically treated like pariah, regardless the age. Even if the discovery or admittance doesn’t go over like a bombshell, their religious identity may be used by their families as a scapegoat for even the slightest transgressions – they don’t have a good job because they’re Pagan, the little cousin is sick because they’re Pagan, the bill collector won’t stop calling because they’re Pagan, the whole world is on its last legs because they are Pagan. In my experience, a loving family isn’t what pops out the woodwork but usually an angered, confused, and disappointed family. (If that isn’t your family, then consider yourself very lucky.) The family, mainly the parents, always tries to think of where they went “wrong”, how to “reverse the illness”. I put those in quotes because not only are these the phrases I hear the most frequently, there is absolutely nothing wrong with anyone who chooses to believe in something outside of the Judeo-Christian Islamic faiths. There is nothing wrong or sick with seeing god as a woman and nature as a metaphysical being they are part of. The only sick person in the situation is the religious bigot (and total hypocrite) for they will turn even against their own blood for something that I believe is very pithy in comparison to familial bond. Blood is supposed to be thicker than water but apparently belief is stronger than blood. Yes, that’s a fairly strong accusation but there’s a difference between being taken by surprise and wanting to understand the person now that they have mentioned something new versus going on a complete and total rampage, no questions asked.

I find this to be very problematic indeed because in finding a new path, support is very important, especially if that new Pagan is a teenager or younger. It’s a big world out there and without proper guidance, who knows what troubles may lay ahead. Now with the invent of the internet, it is very easy to find others who believe the same that they do but still dangers arise even in cyberspace. There are still people who lurk out there, waiting to prey on someone unsuspecting. I can’t count how many times I have been contacted through WitchVox, an online connecting place for Pagans and Witches alike, when I was a teen by creepy older guys who thought I could be easily beguiled with their big claims of “holding otherworldly knowledge” that they didn’t have. Now, WitchVox isn’t a bad place but just like anywhere else, you can run into the wrong people and without the proper support or discipline, things can turn out very poorly. I’ll talk about the predators at another time but please keep in mind that they do exist. I will also post at another time the different sites where Pagans can socialize and connect with other Pagans, especially Black Pagans. (And if you know some yourself, shout them out!) Remember, just because there are some bad people out there, don’t let that spoil your fun, just be careful.

If you are Pagan and thinking of coming out of the broom closet, please think carefully of the reaction you may receive. The best way to gauge is how well does your family (or friends) generally consider subjects like metaphysics, witchcraft and Paganism? Do they think it’s all the devil’s work or are a couple of them fairly curious if not at least open to different faiths? Do you live with your parents or do you live alone? If they did find out, how do you think they would react? There are a lot of questions to ponder and they’re mainly for your safety. There is nothing more important in the world than your wellbeing, even if that means creating a façade for your family (and maybe friends but you shouldn’t have to do that. Family you can’t pick, friends you can). I usually do not condone lying to one’s family but sometimes a situation such as this does call for that. Paganism values family strongly but should that family turn your world upside down, that can become very dangerous quickly. And come out on your own time, do not let anyone push or prod you into it. They’re not going to give you a secure place to live and they’re not in your shoes so please think for yourself and decide for yourself. It is your life this will ultimately affect, not theirs.

If you are someone who just recently discovered that your loved one is Pagan or into Witchcraft, I’m so happy you’re reading my column – feel free to ask me questions! I’m also going to need you to keep your head if you can. Your loved one hasn’t gone crazy and this is not a gateway to sinister habits such as drugs and self-mutilation. Your loved one is merely following his or her heart and so long as they are not doing anything morally reprehensible such as harming animals or threatening others, they and their soul are doing perfectly fine. If they are committing terrible acts, I assure you that these are not the tenets of Paganism they are practicing for this is a religion that believes in harming none and that there is quite possibly a deeper issue at hand. Please try to get them help if possible should this be the case. If they are not doing anything morally reprehensible (and they shouldn’t, not even under the excuse of religion), then try not to fear about their soul or if they are never going to find salvation. Instead please, please, please listen to your loved one and to what they are saying. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions like why they’re going to a new religion and what was it about the old one that made them leave but don’t get defensive about it. Keep an open heart and an open mind and please be there for them, the road will not be easy and they will need any loving they can get.

Would I ever open up to my family? I don’t really know. It’s something I’ve been keeping on the hush for almost ten years now. A couple are aware but I just hope they won’t use that as leverage against me. As for everyone else, if I do plan to open up it is definitely when I am firmly independent and sure of myself. I don’t want to cause any heart attacks and early funerals and I don’t think I’m ready for the storm coming out the broom closet to the rest of my family would cause. For now, I just do what I have been doing for nearly a decade, just have two personas and play by ear. I don’t enjoy the balancing act but it either that or my life possibly becoming very topsy turvy.

Does this entry seem short to you? If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I do find my previous columns fairly lengthy. I would like to remedy that if at all possible so I am trying to keep my newer entries to between two to three pages at best, tipping four at the worst. This is mainly so you all, my readers, don’t have a mini-tome to scroll through. Some entries may break the new rule such as up-coming series like “Fandom and the Fan” and “Commin’ Straight Outta Your Monolith” or the installment posts (The Arts, Ask a Witch) but I will try to stick with this rule as much as possible for your reading pleasures. This does mean that I may keep some entries very hyper localized but I’ll try to keep as much confusion out as possible,  mostly with introducing new categories such as “Coming Out of the Broom Closet”.

As always, you can find me on Twitter under @thisblackwitch being completely foolish and ask me questions using the “Ask a Witch” form! Remember I will be doing six this month so send them in! Usually I do three but I want to make up for last month where I did only one so put ‘em in my inbox now!