Last week, I was outed as a pagan in front of complete strangers. What made it worse was that the person used the words ‘blessed be’ to greet me. I was taken aback and confused, to say the least.
We were in a busy restaurant with about ten people at a big, round table. I wasn’t out as a pagan or witch with most of these people, and I wasn’t wearing any pagan jewelry.
“And this is Astrea,” my friend said, introducing me.
I smiled and nodded.
“Blessed be!” said a stranger wearing a cross. (My friend confirmed they were Christian, and not one of those pagan Christians, either.)
I was stunned into shocked silence. Their eyes grazed my chest repeatedly as they waited for me to answer.
The stranger continued. “I heard you were a pagan, so I looked it up online. That’s a greeting you use, right?”
With those words and my inability to react to them, I was thrust from my cozy little broom closet and into the bright lights of the strangers, front and center. I know, I have a public pagan blog, and I go to a lot of pagan festivals, but I’m a pagan in a red state with a very public job. At pagan gatherings, I’m all out, all the time; but in mixed company, I like to talk with people and make a good impression. I prefer to feel out whether there’s good chemistry before I lay my broom on the table.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to bring up interest in someone’s personal life, specifically their spirituality. An example of the wrong way would be the instance above. It shouldn’t be an outing, or amongst strangers, or with lewd behavior. It also probably shouldn’t be the first words out of someone’s mouth.
It comes down to the non-pagan’s intent and respect for the other person. People should be made to feel safe and respected, so that anything they want to share would be taken well. Give them the chance to open up, or ask questions around the topic. Talk about other things to show them you’re not crazy.
This situation would be totally different if this person was a baby witch or newbie pagan. It might be different if it wasn’t a public place, too. If they were wearing a pentacle, I would welcome such a greeting from them. I love talking about spirituality and strange experiences. But this person wasn’t like any of those things. I felt as if they took pleasure in bringing it up.
It was compounded by the fact that I wanted to correct all their assumptions, but I held back. We don’t owe anyone anything — not an explanation or a correction. In the past, I would have talked about it for a long time, and then felt terrible for oversharing. But I didn’t take the bait.
I shrugged, and the conversation continued onto something else.
I know I won’t have a broom closet forever, and that’s a good thing. But for now, in my conservative area, and with my public job, it’s pretty important. It’s not the end of the world to be outed, and I’m proud of the way I reacted. I hope this article helped you make sense of what you’ll do if you’re ever outed. Goddess forbid, but that which does not kill us…
~ Starlight Witch ~
Note: this article has been edited to more accurately get the right point across: that it’s wrong to out someone, no matter what words were used to do it, or the intent behind them.