Coming Out of the Broom Closet

Witch's broom leaning against the wall

Coming out to the world as a Pagan or a Witch is often the most anxiety-inducing part about having an alternative path in life. Never fear, it’s not mandatory to come out and if you prefer to keep your practice to yourself, that is most certainly your choice. Never let anyone tell you that there are mandatory requirements in your practice, because what works for you, is for you, and you alone to decide.

One part of running several witchcraft communities, is the unique issues that our members have with keeping their practice a secret. So, let’s make this a friendly and easily consumable list of worries and obstacles you might face.

My family is (insert strict religious practice here) and …

A lot of times the main concern is what your family, or those who are close to you will think of you being vocal about who you are and what your path is in life. This is a very real fear, as there is not always wide acceptance of what we practice. It is not, however, the end of the world if someone close to you decides that they no longer want to associate with you because you practice witchcraft–that’s probably the least harmful reaction you can encounter. Sometimes, when you become vocal, it turns into something worse–family members quoting bible verses, telling you you’re going to hell, or saying that you’re a devil worshiper. Let’s get this straight, you would have to believe in the bible, hell, or Satan in order for any of those things to be even remotely true and even if you do believe in those things (see our post on Christian Witchcraft and Satanism) that does not mean that they know what they are talking about. They are truly just speaking out of fear, they may or may not know that what they are really doing is proselytizing and forcing their own belief system on you. To be fair, neither you nor they owe any explanation to each other for what you believe to be true. The absolute worse case scenario when telling your family, other than them trying to send you to an asylum (remember, you’re not crazy), or a religion-oriented scared-straight program, is acts of violence–if this is a legitimate concern of yours, perhaps you shouldn’t come out, at least not to your family–at least not right now.

What if people ask me questions I’m not prepared to answer?

If you’re going to remember anything, make sure it’s what I said above–you own no explanation of your practice to anyone. Sure, there may be people who are interested in more than just converting you to their way of thinking–just keep in mind, their religion may preach to the effect of helping people to find their one true god, but that doesn’t mean you owe them any explanation. If they’re truly interested and you find yourself without the words to explain what you do or why you do it, or even if you are too exhausted to explain your belief system, it’s entirely appropriate to tell them that you would rather not speak about it. If you choose toe speak about what you do, remain confident in your knowledge, don’t let the opinions of others way you from what you feel is true for you and absolutely do not allow them the power to make you feel ashamed or crazy for what you believe. You do not–let me repeat that–you do not owe them any explanation of what you do or why you do it. Just remember, that they do not owe you any explanation of what they believe either, so try to keep yourself from becoming the aggressor if they decide to begin preaching their religion to you and maintain that you are not interested in learning about their belief system.

Can I be “out of the broom closet” and choose not to let certain people know?

This one is difficult–because when you say you’re out of the broom closet, everyone automatically assumes that you’re all the way out, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes you’re only out to your friends–maybe you know they’re the only ones who you can trust to accept you as a witch. Being out is a complicated thing, but don’t feel bad for choosing not to tell everyone, even if you consider yourself “out”–I consider myself all the way out, I wear symbols of my practice and have tattoos of galdrastafir and runes, but that doesn’t mean I shout that I’m a witch from the roof-tops. If someone asks me about a specific tattoo or necklace I’ll gladly have a conversation with them about it–“Oh, are those runes on your neck?” “They sure are!” “Cool! What does it say?” (funnily enough, if I wanted the majority of people to know, I would have just had it done in English…), I generally tell them that it’s the Nine Noble Virtues. Some people get it, some people don’t–I imagine if they care that much, they can google it. So, yes, you can be out of the broom closet and still choose not to let certain people know. Especially if those people would make your life more difficult–choosing not to overwhelm yourself with busybodies is not a bad thing, we have the freedom to not invite toxic opinions in our lives.

Some parting thoughts…

It is important to recognize the environment in which you live–you may not be afforded the luxury of choosing whether or not to be out of the broom closet. If you live in a very religious region, or one in which alternative religions are not safe to announce, it may be best for your own safety to stay in as long as you need/desire to. Eventually–hopefully–it will be a safe world for every witch or person of any religion to be open about who they are, unfortunately that is not always the case.

Don’t just take my word for it on all of this though–there are many other educated witches that advocate for us all to be able to be out if that’s what we choose! Take a look around on the web, you’ll be surprised how many of us there are.

From The Purple Caravan Blog
This content was originally created for The Purple Caravan, a blog that I started and realized too soon after that I was spreading myself too thin with my already compounding list of responsibilities and writing obligations. So after a lot of thought, I decided to move it all to my main blog and simply categorize these within the context of my own research and interests. I will occasionally be adding more content to this category in the spirit of continuing to educate people on the practices that I hold dear to my heart.
– The Unhinged Alaskan

Let me know what you think!