Pagan Blog Project: B Is For the Broom Closet.

Whenever someone thinks about the broom closet, you kind of get this image of a place Photobucket where you store all of the cleaning supplies in your household. This can also be a home for linens and other miscellaneous items that don’t belong anywhere else in your home. The broom closet, however, in this context is merely used as a euphemism for those of us pagans who lives our pagan lives quietly, unobserved, and below the radar. This is the terminology utilized when someone who is a pagan has not “come out” to their friends and family members. It was an act of silence that begat this religious path from what I’ve read and taken in by others who have been practicing longer than me: it kept them safe. This is why, often, you’ll find most pagans with a pagan-derived name, Silver Ravenwolf or Starhawk. It aids in the hiding.

For the longest time, I lived in the broom closet. It seemed far more practical, to me, to keep a general lid on my religious affiliations. Considering the negative feedback I got from MEH in regards to my pagan-leaning exploration and the snorts of derision from his family members, it seemed prudent to not discuss religion at all, much less a belief in gods, spirits, divination, and all of the other “new age” items that they considered to be “works of the Devil.” The only people who were remotely positive in my exploration was The Sister, my mother (who was grateful that I was developing a belief in something), and MEH’s little brother who was both gay and suffering from severe Asperger’s with ADHD. (He was just looking for a religion that would accept him since Christianity was not a big fan of any of his issues, or so he felt.) I was repeatedly made to feel negatively because I was interested in a faith that did not hold with what MEH and his predominantly Christian beliefs stated.

It has been since I escaped his autocratic beliefs that I have begun to seriously debate the merits of living within the broom closet.

In silence and in safety, we can multiply. We can go about our days without fear of Photobucket being looked at negatively or to be the butt of others’ jokes. However, it is also in this arena that we must remain quiet and calm in the face of others bashing our religion. It is in this atmosphere of inner conflict that those of us who live in the broom closet will invariably find ourselves. It is one thing to remain at a distance and unwilling to partake in religious discussions, but it is still another to sit idly by while those who have not stayed in the safety of the broom closet come under fire from an increasingly, and paradoxically, hostile yet tolerant environment. So it is at this point that you wonder just how much silence you can withstand before you must speak out, if not to many, then to at least one…

It is only now as I begin to truly explore who I am as a pagan that I begin to wonder if living in the quiet place that is the broom closet is really all that it’s cracked up to be. I have a predominantly Catholic family who would, no doubt, be fit to be tied should they ever learn of my religious leanings. However, it is with the positive feedback from TH’s family that I find myself more willing to discuss it. I drop little hints here and there for them, to give them a generalized idea of what it is that I practice, and it is only with positivity, curiosity, and support that I constantly find myself. It is this reaction that I find myself seduced by. It is this reaction that I can only hope will continue as I explore this path.

However, I know that this is not always the case.

The broom closet, however, is a dark and quiet-filled placed. It is an area that is small and dank. No matter how often you try to smudge it, you still find it hard to see in such a small, dark, and tight space. And I have always been claustrophobic…

18 thoughts on “Pagan Blog Project: B Is For the Broom Closet.

  1. I’m mostly “in the broomcloset” online. These days prospective employers search the web for any dirt they can find, and it’s just too easy to have your resume slip into the shredder for anything unusual.

    • I very much understand the fear of employers finding out about pagan leanings. I always had issues in my previous job whenever religious matters came up.

      I worked in a fairly lax environments, though, so religious discussions did happen amid myself and other coworkers. I tended to find more acceptance of my “alternate” (my words to them) beliefs from Spanish coworkers than I did from anyone else. This actually startled me. However, as time went by and I moved up the Corporate ladder, I became more and more fearful that my employers would find out and use it as a reason to fire me. I began to hush out religious conversations going on in the store because I was worried things would get back to Corporate. Working in a fear-laden environment is hard enough, never mind being a pagan in a fear-laden environment!

      As a quick aside, I should mention that I had begun moving into a more obvious space in my “New Age” leanings (crystals, specifically) just prior to my firing. I don’t think it had anything to do with my firing, but it would have made a nice little in road to a lawsuit, if I had decided to do that!

  2. I came out of the broom closet a few years and so far I haven’t had to experience much negativity. Most people I know totally except me for me no matter my beliefs, thank goodness. Great post :)

  3. Your post is just what I needed to read. Your comment, “The broom closet, however, is a dark and quiet-filled placed. It is an area that is small and dank. No matter how often you try to smudge it, you still find it hard to see in such a small, dark, and tight space. And I have always been claustrophobic…” , is exactly how I have been feeling of late. I am going to enjoy and be encouraged by hearing more about your journey. Thank you.

    • Thank you!

      After having been treated as less than human for my practices by my ex-husband and his relations, I figure anyone else will only pale in comparison.

      May your journey out of the broom closet be bright and cheer-filled.

  4. I spent many years at least 40% in the broom closet. I hid what I believed from my parents, grandmother & siblings. I was afraid, but I’m not sure of what, to this day. It was comfortable & I felt safe in there; my friends, husband & children all knew the truth, who else mattered? Over the past year, that little closet has become more & more stifling & I’m clawing my out, a little at a time. I’m 100% out online, which includes family members on my FB, and I’m at the point where I don’t care if my folks’ know, I just have no burning need to tell them.

    • I think it’s the fear of the unknown that keeps a lot of us in the broom closet. We have generalized feelings of being made fun of or of being mentally or emotionally abused for our choices. I know I’ve read quite a few news articles about the negative reactions of people towards other pagans (the mom who spoke out against the Bibles being handed out in NC received death threats either Thursday or Friday: prime example). I think it is this—the thought that it might happen to us—that keeps us hidden in our little closets.

      However, as I said, I’m claustrophobic so staying in there… not much of an option anymore!

      Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience(s)!

  5. Excellent post! I wrote something similar on my blog a few months back so maybe I’ll share it for next week’s “B” post in the PBP. Very insightful. Thanks!

  6. I am in the broom closet online (Facebook and places I use my real name), with my family, but feel much better when I can be more open like a the local UU fellowship and the couple of pagan groups I associate myself with. I think that sometimes the broom closet will be a fairly permanent place for a large part of my family, but I think one day I will certainly be more open. I can feel it already being in these groups I associate with and the UU place, it is better in numbers to feel more comfortable with oneself. A great post, thank you for sharing.

  7. Thanks for your honest and insightful post. Whilst I was brought up Catholic, I had liberal parents who encouraged me to find my own path and everyone has been completely accepting of that from the very beginning. I also find it can be an advantage to list ‘pagan’ as your religion here, because most places have diversity targets to hit. And so for me the broom closet is a mysterious place I’ve never been in, and your post has really helped me to understand better. Thank you.

  8. Pingback: Out Of the Broom Closet « Pagan Musings

  9. Pingback: Out of the Broom Closet – IPCOD. « Mystical Bewilderment on The Spiritual Turnpike

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