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 for you to tell the world about your beliefs and practices. If you prefer to keep your practice to yourself, that is most certainly your choice! No one is going to look down on you for keeping your own secrets—and if they do, they’re not worth your time. Remember the one great thing about this path is that there is no one set way to practice. There are no requirements or strict rules for you to follow, because you should be doing what works for you—your path should be based on your own decisions.
I’ve been running witchcraft communities for the last three years and you’d be surprised (or maybe not) how many times I’ve come across the concept of keeping the practice secret, a witch’s practice being discovered before they were ready to talk about it, or someone wanting to know how to transition to being open about their beliefs and practices.
So, I’ve tried to make this a friendly and easily consumable list of obstacles you might face by coming out to your friends and family.
01. My family is (insert strict religious practice here) and…
The main concern I see (hence why I’ve decided to address it first) is what your family or friends will think of you when you tell them about your beliefs or practices. This is, of course, a very real fear because not a lot of acceptance for what we practice. It’s not the end of the world though! If someone close to you decides that they no longer want to associate with you because of your beliefs or practices, then maybe it wasn’t a very healthy relationship in the first place. Someone leaving your life due to this is possibly the least harmful, albeit negative reaction, that you will encounter.
02. What if they call me a devil worshiper or tell me I’m going to hell?
Well, first of all, know that it is coming from a place of fear and misinformation. If your family starts quoting bible verses—my favorite is when they quote Leviticus 20—telling you that you’re going to hell, or call you a devil worshiper, you have to remember that those are their beliefs. If, like most witches, you don’t believe in the devil or hell, then you really have nothing to worry about.
They are basing their fear and misinformation on blind faith in their own religion and most often these people don’t realize that we are all free to believe what we want. Also, even if you do believe in hell or the devil, they don’t understand the intricacies of Christian Witchcraft. Even theologies where the devil is the main entity, in most instances it is an atheistic path where the devil is a symbol of passion, pride, liberty, and heroic rebellion. So to be clear, Satanists do not actually believe in Satan (we’ll talk about that more in later articles).
These people may not understand that what they are doing is considered proselytizing—something that is become less and less acceptable as we become more and more vocal—and trying to force their own belief systems on you. Let’s be perfectly clear, what they are doing can be considered a form of mental and emotional abuse, it’s toxic behavior and you DO NOT have to stand by and take it. You do not owe them an explanation for what you believe and practice, just like they don’t owe you an explanation for their belief system.
If you live in the United States and are legally an adult, the constitution offers you protection in the workplace and at home. So if someone threatens to send you to a scared-straight program, the loony-bin, or threatens you with violence, remember that you have rights. If you’re a minor and you believe this may be a legitimate reaction from whoever you want to come out to, perhaps it would be better to wait until you’re an adult.
03. Can I be “out” and still choose to not let certain people know?
Yes. Although, when you state that you’re out of the broom closet, a lot of witches assume that you unabashedly walk around with a pentacle around your neck, or symbolic tattoos dedicated to your belief system. That’s not necessarily the case, you can be all the way out and still choose to not broach the subject with your angry fundamentalist aunt Brenda who you know will just try to be toxic and dramatic.
Sometimes you’re only out to your friends, or relatives that you trust to accept you for who you are and what you believe and that is perfectly fine! Heck, I haven’t told every single person who knows me, but I consider myself to be out; after all, I’m a writer and I put my face on my personal business, I share these articles on my business page if anyone in my family decided to read through my Facebook page or my website, they wouldn’t have to look too far to see any witchcraft related content.
Being out can be a complicated thing, so don’t feel bad if you decide to only tell certain people. Some people get it and some people don’t.
04. What if I’m not prepared to answer their questions?
If you’re going to remember anything, remember this: you do not owe anyone an explanation for your beliefs or practices. If you’re not comfortable answering their questions, you should be very upfront about that. There are definitely people who are more interested in learning about your beliefs than in converting you to their way of thinking.
If they are truly interested in learning and not in simply judging, but you can’t find the right words or are too exhausted to explain your belief system, it is perfectly acceptable for you to tell them that you would rather not discuss it or that you are still learning and would be happy to answer their questions once you are better prepared. If you choose to answer their questions you must remember to remain confident in your knowledge.
Worst case scenario, you can give them things, terms, or practices to look up. They’re just as capable of googling as you are.
05. What if they ask me to show them magic?
Personally, I ask them what they think magic is—if their answer relates anything to Harry Potter or bippity-boppity-boo, then I know they have little to no understanding of real-life witchcraft. In that case, it might be helpful to review the difference between magic and fantasy. It’s important to help them understand it isn’t a parlor trick and this isn’t a movie.
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 people of every belief, practice, and religion to be open about who they are.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to ask them here, I can update this article with new questions as they come up.
Mary has been a writer and artist for over a decade. Her passions lie somewhere between the beautiful and the macabre, but she enjoys every aspect of life. She explores the mysteries of the Last Frontier and the written word but dabbles in her love of artwork through the digital medium.