Next week, Car, Ode and I will be heading to Detroit to attend the 2019 Michigan Pagan Festival. We are excited about the trip for several reasons. For one thing, we will get to spend time with friends who do not live nearby, and is one of the great reasons for attending this event.
MPF has the feeling of being a very large family reunion.
Another reason we are looking forward to attending are the many classes and rituals in which we will be able to participate. We look forward to learning from Phyllis Curott, Baba Teddy and Lady Kate Jauw, M. Macha Nightmare, Witchdoctor Utu, Lady Dame, Priestess Miriam Chamani, not to mention the many local presenters. There are a wide array of topics being covered with something for everyone.
And let’s not forget about the SHOPPING!
Our podcast will be streaming live throughout the event (June 20-23) on the 3 Pagans and a Cat YouTube Channel! So if you’re interested in following our shenanigans next weekend, make sure to SUBSCRIBE and then click the little bell beside that word to receive notifications of live broadcasting and video updates.
In addition, we will be leading a Q & A panel of the seven presenters leading rituals at MPF and we will be teaching three classes. Each class will cover content from these popular podcast episodes (and in one case – a series of episodes): Building Your Book – The Ultra High Speed Edition, Speaking with Symbols, and Monikers & Metaphorical Spaces.
We are going to be very busy.
All three classes are fun to teach but Monikers & Metaphorical Spaces is one which is also very important to me. In this class, we talk about magickal names with consideration to such questions as “Do you have to have a magickal or Pagan name?”, “How do you get a magickal or Pagan name if you want one?” and “Is the name assigned or do you make it up?”.
Everyone has their own opinion about magickal names, I’m sure, and the reasons to have (or not have) one. Here are a few things to think about when considering taking (or not) a magickal or Pagan name:
- Do you belong to, or want to join, a traditional coven which prefers to keep its membership secret, thereby using magickal, rather than mundane, names within the coven?
- Do you wish to keep your personal, spiritual, and public lives separate?
- Is your spiritual path closeted because of relationships, work, the region in which you live, etc.?
- Has a deity given you a name and do you wish to use it to honor that God or Goddess? For instance, Brighid is my patroness and has been for a long time. She is the one who named me both times I’ve taken one. My current name, Gwynneth iníon Brighid, is meant to express “Gwynneth, a daughter of Brighid” but if my spiritual path takes a turn in the future, I am free to take a new magickal name to reflect the new or altered path.
- Does having a magickal or Pagan name help you better connect to the spiritual part of yourself, to a deity you honor, or some other part of your spiritual path?
- Are you out of the broom closet and wish to define everything about yourself through a magickal or Pagan name?
There are no right or wrong answers (except maybe if number one comes into play, then you go with what your coven requests) when it comes to taking a magickal name or deciding to stick with your own. Most of the time it is a matter of personal preference. You can read more about my perspective on magickal names in my previous post, “What’s In a Name?”
For the past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the “broom closet” part of our class too. Car and I live as a Witch and Druid, openly. Our home is in a small, rural community with churches everywhere you look, but so far I can walk into the discount grocery store owned by a Christian family (and they make no bones about it with their musical choices playing at loud volume on the stereo) with no one batting an eye or speaking a word other than greeting when I come in wearing my pentacles, pendulum necklaces, a hag stone with a skull, etc.
Someday I’ll wear my “Hex the Patriarchy” shirt and see what happens.
I know that our friends, Pat and Paul of Artes and Craft, have to deal with the occasional “evangelist” dropping by with a hell-fire speech or people yelling unkind things as they drive past the store. Overall, the situation isn’t too bad for the Witchcraft and Pagan community in our little corner of Michigan.
This is not, however, the case for many of our listeners, especially those living in the Bible belt.
Wicca and other marginalized religions may have the benefit of religious freedom, but that doesn’t always play out in experience. Many people have to worry about the extreme conservatism of their town, family, and people within their sphere of influence.
There are still those who are demoted from their positions, lose jobs, customers, custody of their children in a divorce, friendships, family contact, etc., because they choose to live as a Witch, Wiccan, Druid, Heathen or Pagan. Living your truth, when it is different from what is considered “normal” or is outside the accepted mainstream religious or spiritual worldview, often has consequences.
Therefore, I must say that if a person does not want to come out of the broom closet or is hesitant to do so, they should never be pressured or pushed into revealing their path. Neither should they be made to feel guilty or that they lack courage because they feel the need to practice in secrecy. A person’s reasons for how they chose to live are their own.
Likewise, a closeted person should never be “outed” without their knowledge or permission.
Car chooses to remain in the “broom closet” on Facebook by using certain privacy features because he does not wish to reveal his religious beliefs to a particular individual at this time. I use the same features out of respect for Car because I do not wish to out him by accident. In fact, the reason we started the podcast using our magickal/Pagan names was to honor my husband’s desire for privacy in regard to this person. Although, we all agree that “Car, Gwyn, and Ode” have become a better expression of our true selves.
When a person has had to hide a part of themselves from others, be it family, friends, co-workers or neighbors, for any length of time it can be quite scary to come out in public with such a deeply held secret, even on Facebook.
Putting one’s true Self out there for the world to see, and comment upon, is a risk and it does require a fair amount of chutzpah to make it happen. In one of the private witchcraft groups I frequent, a person reported they had “come out of the broom closet” on their social media profile with what seemed to be equal amounts of surprise, pleasure and terror in a Macaulay Culkin “Home Alone”, hands slapped on the face screaming “Ahhhhh”, moment.
I can relate because that’s how I felt the first time wearing my pentacle to Meijer (a much bigger store than our little Christian food outlet) or posting about my witchy doings on Facebook. But I have found putting myself out there gets a little easier every time I take that step.
If you are a person who needs to, or must, stay “broom closeted” then do so without fear of judgement or recrimination. Your spiritual/personal comfort and safety are what is important. Nothing else matters.
If you are a person who wants to make the leap and tell family, friends, co-workers, etc., about your spiritual or religious path then here are some tips gleaned from a great article from Learn Religions by Patti Wigington :
- Make sure you can answer questions about your path, why you chose it, and what you believe. Focus on sharing what your belief system is (try not to lead with such things as “It’s not devil-worship…). These conversations can be hard, especially if you come from a family of strong beliefs or non-beliefs. Emotions may run high so do what is necessary to enhance and maintain your calm.
- Parents and families have weird fears about alternate religions and spiritualities. Let your family see you the positive ways in which you have benefited from your spiritual practice.
- If you are not comfortable initiating the conversation yet, take a step out of the closet by wearing a symbol which represents your belief.
Living as a Witch, Wiccan, Druid, Pagan, Heathen, Satanist or whatever you may be, is a choice one has to make for themselves with the understanding that doing so comes with some costs. All of these spiritual paths and religions should be entered into with intention, study, respect, and an understanding that it’s not at all like what you see in the movies or television.
Alternative religions or spiritual, magickal paths are both rewarding and challenging. The decision of whether to walk the path of the Wise, in full view of the Gods and everybody, is up to the individual who treads upon it.