Maybe you’ve been out of the broom closet for years, or maybe you just stepped out. When I first started being open about my Witchcraft, it was liberating. A few years later, I started feeling a bit nostalgic about the closet days. Sometimes it feels like Witches are expected to explain themselves, “prove” their Magick, be a spiritual catch-all for the non-religious-but-seeking demographic and more. I became tired of feeling like I had to explain myself wherever I went–whether to new dates or someone on the subway wanting more information about who I was and what I believed.
Over time, I realized something!
I don’t owe everyone an explanation.
As time went on, the list of what I didn’t owe continued to grow. If you’re feeling the pinch of Witchpectation (meaning, being expected to explain yourself, make everyone comfortable with your Witchy-ness, and always be up for a good Witch joke), the following list may help you breathe a bit easier.
Things You, as a Witch Don’t Owe Everyone:
Proof of abilities
I’m sure a Christian has occasionally met someone who asks them to “prove that prayer works”…on the spot, but probably not as often as a Witch gets “You’re a Witch? Here’s a broom. Fly.” Yeah, no. You owe no one “proof” that you have Magickal ability. Plus, trying to to prove these things borders on breaking the Keeping Silent axiom which will undermine your Magick. You know what you believe. You’ve seen Magick happen. You don’t need to prove that your experiences were real.
Others’ comfort with Witchcraft
A co-worker has too much wine at the company party, not enough cheese and no crackers at all and they confess they’ve been scared of you since your first day. They confess they were lying when they said they were gluten-free to avoid so eating the doughnuts you’ve so kindly brought in on Fridays: What if you did some EVIL SHIT to them??? You realize you’re supposed to tell them you’re all love and light and would NEVER use your Craft for evil.
Erhm. No. Their discomfort is their problem, not yours. If you’ve been respectful and kind and all that, you don’t have to go around being EXTRA nice and lovely just to make everyone comfortable. (Unless you did trick the doughnuts, which you probably did, considering you want that raise and the better schedule. Go ahead and make them comfortable and keep getting away with all of your evil shit.)
A Phone Call Or Cup Of Coffee With Every Would-be Witch
Okay, this is a tougher one. We were all that Witch once (or at least I was): seeking out the pentacle-wearers and asking for guidance. I want to be that beacon of direction, but with working two jobs and trying to write another book, I don’t have time to meet with all of the newbie-Witches. It’s not that I don’t care–it’s that I have to preserve a shred of self-care (as do you!!!).
It’s perfectly fine to suggest the newbie email you instead of setting up a coffee date. It’s helpful to have a short-list of resources (books, local groups, Pagan Pride) which a newbie might appreciate. But you don’t have to drive across town and answer questions for an hour. You definitely don’t have to take on every new person as a student! Help who you can, in whatever form you are help to help. Doing more than you’re able will burn you out and you’ll help fewer people in the long run.
(You also don’t owe phone calls or long-winded answers to everyone who has had a psychic moment or phenomena. There are books and blogs for those, too.)
An Explanation of the Pentacle
If you wear a pentacle, someone is going to ask you about it. More than that, they may even say, “Care to explain that?” Sure, it’s a good opportunity to educate someone. But that question might come at a really crappy time–like when you’re at the gynecologist and the doctors would like to hear all about the tenets of Wicca while she’s examining your cervix (Which happened. To me.).
IT’S OKAY TO SAY “I’M NOT UP TO DISCUSSING MY SPIRITUALITY AT THE MOMENT THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR INTEREST.” Yes, you wore the pentacle. Yes, it will attract questions. And yes, it’s okay to say, “Ask me some other time” or to say, “Google it. I’ve got shit to do, today.”
Please say you already know this. Please don’t let me find out you’re casting spells for every damn person who asks. Many people have no interest in doing any work on themselves–they want you to fix everything for them! You will run into these people in your journey, if you haven’t already, and just because you cast spells, it doesn’t mean you have to cast spells for everyone. I have a policy that if I cast a spell for someone else, they have to be more invested in their personal success than I am…and they have to be actively working on the changes you wish to see.
A Response to a Monty Python Quote
I love Monty Python. I happily dressed as Patsy when my husband was King Arthur at his costumed 40th birthday party. I’m GREAT at replying with the next Monty Python line. Once, though, when I was tired, cranky, recently heartbroken, and just wanted to sit outside the bar and stare at traffic, a drunk acquaintance slammed himself down beside me and shouted in my ear, “BURRRRNNNN ‘ER! BURRRRRRNNNN ‘ER!” Instead of being a Good Witch and responding with, “It’s a fair cop,” I stood up and walked away.
Later, I wondered if I’d been rude. Couldn’t I have just said the stupid line like a good sport?
Nope. I wasn’t in the mood. I don’t owe everyone a Monty Python line and neither do you!
Listening To People Explain Why Witchcraft Isn’t Real
Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion. A well-meaning Atheist might encourage you to get an MRI to see why you’re getting those visions. Or they may tell you leaving offerings is a terrible waste of beer. If you’re interested in the conversation, stick it out. But if you’re tired of hearing that someone else thinks you’re wasting your time, you don’t owe them any more of it.
At the same time….
No one owes your their acceptance or approval
We may get tired of people having expectations of us….let’s make sure we’re not putting the same expectations on them, too.
This can be another tough truth, but it’s freeing, too. No one is required to be happy that you’re a Witch. No one has to approve of anything you do. You probably don’t approve of many things your Witch-phobic loved ones do. You don’t have to approve or accept them, either.