Stepping Out of the Broom Closet and Gliding Across Boundaries

by Dava Greely

He was waddling by on his way into the sculpture museum when he spotted me sitting to the side, almost hidden away from the traffic of people that constantly passed by. Somehow, I caught his attention, and he diverted from his route to approach me. Apparently, I was so engrossed in my book that he felt compelled to come over and ask just what had drawn me in that deep. I barely heard him when he spoke.

“What are you reading there?,” he said, with a curious enthusiasm.

I snapped my head up, shaking myself out of the light trance I was in.

“I’m sorry?”

“I said, ‘What are you reading?’”

I had but a millisecond to absorb this man standing in front of me, demanding answers. The soft lines that trailed along various parts of his face seemed to converge and lead to his delving blue eyes. Yes, a curious man indeed. My equally invested eyes took him in further. The black suit. The white collar. The huge silver crucifix… My heart thumped and my thoughts began to flip. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I really didn’t feel like engaging him in a debate.

“It’s a book my friend let me borrow. It’s called The Inner Temple of Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak.”

His eyes, which I had previously registered as a comforting blue, were now decidedly bugged out. I braced myself for the impact of what he had to say next.

“OH! That’s a BAD book!”

I rolled my eyes. Mentally, of course. Then I piped up and smiled politely.

“I quite like it! It’s full of interesting topics.”

He shook his head and shuffled away in a hurry. Good riddance. I shook off the short lived encounter and considered it a job well done. I had kept it simple and managed to not get huffy, but then the guilt set in, and an inner dialogue full of questions was suddenly upon me.

Why had I lied about the book belonging to a friend? Why did I feel exasperated by his curiosity in the first place? Is it because he was white? Old? Clearly religious? I let the questions marinate for some time, and I discovered that he was never the problem, nor would anyone else have been. The issue started and ended with me.

I love being pagan. Witchcraft has opened up a whole new world for me, and I don’t know who or where I’d be without the perception and wisdom The Way has given me. But… I realize that I’ve still only really got like…a pinky toe out of the broom closet. I talk openly among others on a similar path, but when it comes to someone who I perceive as “other” in that regard, I can get a bit testy, at least on the inside. I try my best to remain positive and respectful, because though I may still be shaky in my approach, I do proudly represent the community. I suppose I’m just all too aware of how some people react when they come into contact with a person like myself. In considering what had just happened, I remembered the Universal Law of Vibration, that I was a student and future adept of alchemy, and that whatever energies I was putting out would be reflected back to me. My heart slowed and my breathing calmed as I realized that the man had come to teach me and, as shown in the following conclusion of our encounter, to be a student himself.

About a half hour after the initial run in, he passed back through the hall where I was sitting. I watched him out of the corner of my eye, and I knew he was peeping me too. He was headed for the door, but he hesitated for a second, turned right, and came my way.

“Are you still reading that book…?”

I had put it away by then.

“I finished the section I was reading. I’m done for now.”

“Good. You should find another book to read. A GOOD book!”

I smiled. “I really do like that one. I can’t wait to get back to it!”

“Oh…Well…are you into that kind of thing…witchcraft?”

His eyebrow arched in expectation. I felt something in my chest. A warmth, a pride. I looked him right in his eye when I said it too.

“Yes! Yes, I am.”

No fire, no brimstone, no threats to burn me at the stake. Only more questions.

“What do you think about it? Is it good or bad?”

What am I, on trial here? I thought for a moment, and responded with the best answer I could think of.

“I think…it’s what people make of it…”

“Wrong answer!”

HA! We chatted back and forth for a little while after that, about spirituality, religion, the bible, and shared our thoughts respectfully. I said that I read the bible often and that I find great wisdom in it. That pleased him. Then he really and truly surprised me. He confessed, though he lowered his voice and looked around before he said it, that he was great friends with some “white witches” and that they were kind people. He also mentioned that not all people like him (religious) believe that people like me (pagan) are going to burn in hell. He didn’t at least. He earned some cool points there.

He had to move along with his day and I had to get back to my shift at the museum. We said our goodbyes, smiled, and waved each other away, as if we had summoned each other in the first place. I learned a lot during those few minutes, not including his name, or any personal information, really. It was a learning opportunity for both of us. What could an elderly, white, christian man and a young, black, pagan woman possibly have in common? Apparently, nothing. Except maybe, the desire to connect and share with others, regardless of what appears to separate us on the outside.


Dava Greely is a twenty six year old mother, entrepreneur, and Eclectic Pagan, currently residing in Philadelphia PA. She is a skilled and practicing psychic reader, specializing in Oracle, Tarot, and Runes.

Magical Beginnings Begin Again
Meditation: The Path to Spiritual Activism or Escapism
PantheaCon 2015; Pain, Healing Work, Allyship in Action and Coalition Building
My Top Ten Pagans Working As Change Agents for Social Justice in 2014
  • Vision_From_Afar

    I think this is a prime example of how the shift in culture will occur. There will not be a “Big One” that shatters the continental Patriarchal Christian mindset, but tremors, whispers, and vibrations just like this that will drift across the land, proving there really is room for everyone on this Earth.

  • Etheena Hill

    I find myself still doing this too!!! Especially around other black people (mainly the older ones). A part of me does it b/c I don’t want to debate with them about going to hell.

  • + Yvonne Aburrow

    I found it really interesting how first of all, he went with the knee-jerk reaction of “that’s a bad book” and then presumably went away and considered, and came back with something more nuanced. Like he felt he had a duty to say it was bad, but that’s not what he really wanted to do.

    Your reaction was brilliant. You examined your own response to him, and stood up for being Pagan, and remained open to the possibility of dialogue, rather than assuming that he was just a bigot. It’s very easy, when someone comes out with something bigoted, to assume that they are a bigot through-and-through. They might not be. I had a conversation with a Christian woman about same-sex marriage, which also left open the possibility of dialogue, with some surprising results.

  • Celestine Angel

    This is a lovely story. Thank you for sharing.

  • Mike Rodgers

    Being an old Heathen myself, who “came out of the broom closet” sometime back in 1983, I found your reaction both well thought out and encouraging.

    However I found your use of “religious” to mean Christian to be equilly interesting.

    Do you not think of your path as a religion?

    Do you not think of yourself as religious?

    As encourging as your post is, I hope to someday see the day that Pagans, Neo-Pagans, and Heathens don’t automatically think of Christianity, but their own religions when they hear the word “religious”..

    Where did this soapbox come from??