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Thread: Broom Closet Advice?

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    Member Alice's Avatar
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    Broom Closet Advice?

    I know there's a thread about coming out of the broom closet stories. I am still in the "broom closet" and I will be for a little while longer, but I'd like some advice from people who are already out. How do I get out of the closet more painlessly, especially to staunch religious family members or friends? I'd appreciate it very much.
    To give more perspective to my situation, I still live with my religious parents. They noticed I was researching different pagan topics and became very angry and concerned, and made it clear they didn't want any of it going on in their house. I have respected their wishes. Judging from that episode they seem to believe that paganism is something demonic.
    Whats the best way to go about this respectfully? I'll probably wait until I am out of the house.

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    Member Dust's Avatar
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    Re: Broom Closet Advice?

    Years ago I made the assumption that my family would never accept the fact that I had begun to label myself pagan so I kept it to myself. One day I was talking to my mother about various metaphysical theories when Paganism came up and I mentioned I had been interested in it. Her reply, "Hey, there's something to be said for religions that have been around for that long." I was shocked. Just the other day I brought home a book on shamanism and was too embarrassed to tell her what was in the bag I brought in. When I finally cracked her reply is, "It's always fun to learn about different practices and you'll never have a good perspective if you don't explore everything." My once staunch Christian father's reaction, "Huh, that's pretty cool." Again, I was shocked in a good way

    On the other hand I have grandparents who are so very religious they have temporarily disowned family members for going against the grain. When my grandmother asked me what I believed in I brought up my theories about Christ, gods, the cosmos, the mind and how they all relate to spirituality without bringing in the word "pagan" or the names of any gods. She wasn't particularly thrilled with me no longer considering myself Mormon or Christian, but she wasn't angry with me either and seemed quite interested during the conversation. She made no attempt to change my mind either... though my mother did get a phone call soon after :b

    I guess my point is sometimes the way we think people may react is wrong. If your parents believe Paganism is demonic, simply explain what you believe when the situation arises. The acceptance may take some time but if they love you, and it becomes obvious you're not summoning Satan in your bedroom, it will happen sooner or later. ;b Often it is better to wait until you're out of the house to start setting up altars or performing full on rituals but there is nothing stopping you from continuing your search while under their roof.

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    Re: Broom Closet Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alice View Post
    I know there's a thread about coming out of the broom closet stories. I am still in the "broom closet" and I will be for a little while longer, but I'd like some advice from people who are already out. How do I get out of the closet more painlessly, especially to staunch religious family members or friends? I'd appreciate it very much.

    To give more perspective to my situation, I still live with my religious parents. They noticed I was researching different pagan topics and became very angry and concerned, and made it clear they didn't want any of it going on in their house. I have respected their wishes. Judging from that episode they seem to believe that paganism is something demonic.

    Whats the best way to go about this respectfully? I'll probably wait until I am out of the house.
    It might be a good idea to wait until you're on your own before springing this on your folks. At the very least you'll be under your own roof and power.

    What might help is to find out what they find "demonic" about paganism. Knowing what they find most objectionable might help you carve out a way to have a productive conversation with them.

    For example, my own mother was adamantly against paganism--or "Wicker" [Wicca] as she called it. In other words, my mother conflated paganism with Wicca. A common mistake, but being that I wasn't interested in Wicca, that gave me room to talk about what I was interested in: Kemeticism. She wasn't exactly thrilled with my choice, but so long as I kept everything related to Kemeticism in my room, she had no problem with it.

    Of course, I'm making it sound like this happened overnight. It didn't. It was about 6 - 12 months of carefully broaching the subject, seeing which topics caused upset, understanding mother's POV, etc.

    What also probably helped was the fact that I didn't hide what I was doing. I didn't shove anything in my mother's face, but I made no effort to hide it, either. On top of that, I'd already proven myself fairly responsible/reliable (ie: I did my chores, paid a bill or two every month, kept up good grades in school, didn't suddenly change demeanor or way of dressing, etc). If you already have a bad rap with your parents--whether that rap is fair or not--, you'll have more difficulties.

    If you can't approach the topic at all, you can learn about related things like mythology, ancient history, meditation, etc. for now. Nobody can stop you from praying to any deities you might believe in, either.

    Remember that sometimes you can't come out to some people. For example, my grandma would probably have a heart attack if I told her I was pagan (she looked ready to cry when I said I hinted that I didn't believe in the Christian God). Grandpa would freak out, too, and my cousins can't be counted on to be discreet. So I'm in the closet with these people, and probably will be for a long time, if not forever.

    Anyway, good luck. It's not easy, I know.

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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Broom Closet Advice?

    I've told my story on here somewhere...but I can do it again!

    I "came out" of the broom closet over several YEARS (from 7th grade to my freshman year of college)...and I came from one helluva openminded and liberally religious family (the United Church of Christ). I started with "examining and evaluating other Christianities" (not a big deal, and actually a requirement in my church's confirmation process--so was attending services at a mosque, etc), and then "looking at religion and the history of religion"...in a very general, academic sense. I'd bring home books from the library and leave them laying about on everything from Buddhism to a history of the mideval Catholic Church to the writings of St Augustine to the Popol Vuh....I'd watch documentaries on Ancient Greece and Rome and Egypt...I started quoting the Founding Father's writings on freedom of religion.

    Over time, I started to steer the idea from "general academic interest" to personal interest...first that I was personally interested in "other expressions of religious belief" (I think that was the terminology my mother said she was quite amused by my use of), and then that I was questioning my own beliefs, and then that I was "settling" on something outside of the realm of their understanding. Then again, by then, they knew almost as much as I did about all this stuff, because we are that "dinner table discussion" sort of family...so it wasn't a big shocker. Basically, year 1--questioning Christian, year 2--nominally Christian and religion is insteresting, year 3--religion is interesting but I don't think any of them have it right, year 4--religious experimentation, year 5--I'm interested in more nature-based and ancient recreations of religious expression, year 6--hey mom and dad, I'm Pagan!

    And I KNEW my parents were "cool"...but I also expected that there was difference between this being something someone else was into, and something THEIR CHILD was doing, you know? If your parents are even more conservative in their religious views (like my mother in law), the best you might be able to do is tell them you are Unitarian Universalist (which is fine, lots of Pagas are also UU) or that you "aren't religious" and/or "have your own personal spiritual beliefs".
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

  5. #5
    Sr. Member Vigdisdotter's Avatar
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    Re: Broom Closet Advice?

    My advice is to realize that there is no closet. Talk of a closet sets up a false dichotomy of being either in or out. The reality is that different people have different levels of involvement in your life. And what you do or don't tell them about your life reflects this. As the saying goes, discretion is the better part of valour.

    Now I should be clear on something, I do no advocating lying to people. And I wouldn't do something so disrespectful as to practice in someone else's home (unless I was pissed at them, but then I'm probably doing a working against them anyhow). However, pagan paths are less about wand waving and more how you relate to the world around you.
    "The doer alone learneth." -- Friedrich Nietzsche


  6. #6
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Broom Closet Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vigdisdotter View Post
    And I wouldn't do something so disrespectful as to practice in someone else's home (unless I was pissed at them, but then I'm probably doing a working against them anyhow).
    I think this really depends on your home and your family dichotomy. I openly had and used an oujia board and tarot cards (my mom bought them for me and borrowed them from time to time), and really...my mom considered her room to be her sanctum and my room to be my sanctum, the rule was that as long as you weren't doing anything illegal, what you did in your room (or to your room), was your business, as long as the other people in our home wouldn't be embarrassed to have the door open when company was over. The idea of informing my parents that I was having a solo ritual in my room, whether or not they had explicitly known I was Pagan, wouldn't have crossed my mind, any more than informing them that I was going to take a shower or get myself a snack. But...I had a great deal of autonomy and was encouraged to do so. In my home, my concern was more the idea that my parents would be hurt by my choice that enraged by it.

    I might add (for the OP) that my parents, once they were used to the idea, were pretty cool about it...my mother even hosted a Yule/Christmas party for the family and friends when we were home for the holidays a couple of years ago.
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

  7. #7
    Sr. Member Vigdisdotter's Avatar
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    Re: Broom Closet Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    I think this really depends on your home and your family dichotomy.
    Very true. But I was going by the OPs description of her parents reaction to her researching pagan topics. I'd hate to think what the reaction would be to walking in on ritual.
    "The doer alone learneth." -- Friedrich Nietzsche


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    Silver Member anubisa's Avatar
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    Re: Broom Closet Advice?

    It was hard for me to come out to my parents, who are both Catholics. However, thankfully, they are accepting of my religious choice. It's not easy coming out, but when you do, let them know that this is your path. I hope I helped.

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    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: Broom Closet Advice?

    I personally think you have to keep in mind that Christianity is a revealed religion. Most pagan pathways are mystical pathways. The significant point being that revealed religions typically have books or sacred documents telling you how to believe, what to believe and who to believe and how to practice and display that practice. Mystical pathways usually have little to no visible defining paradyns as it has to be experienced and viewed from within.

    The visible trappings of prayer, statuary, tools, etc are not required to be pagan or practice a pagan religion yet are typically very much required of revealed religions. The need for such revealed symbology IMHO is a hold over from being part of a revealed religion and a need to display proper symbology to convey ones participation in the religion.

    So it becomes an issue of do you hold your beliefs and connection within or without? If within then one is never in the closet so to speak for it is not open to public scrutiny as it is mystical. If you try to make it a revealed belief then one has to ask are you practicing a mystical belief or a revealed influence of need to display it? From a discussion point of perspective one can speak on or to any religious practice and not have to address a God, god or goddess as your discussion will normally pertain to revealed material influenced by ones mystical or feelings revealed through practice.

    Of course this is all my own opinion so it may differ from others, so take what works and disregard that which does not is all I can offer.

  10. #10
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Broom Closet Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vigdisdotter View Post
    Very true. But I was going by the OPs description of her parents reaction to her researching pagan topics. I'd hate to think what the reaction would be to walking in on ritual.
    Lol! I totally agree there...I was just thinking from a more general standpoint...
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

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