Whenever someone thinks about the broom closet, you kind of get this image of a place 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 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…