Coming out of the Closet and Getting Started

So, I wanted to take a break from the history posts I was writing, because honestly, the burning times kinda hurt to go through. I hated it the first time and the second, and just about every time I decide to delve back into its depths. I just keep remembering some of the stories we read in class from the diaries of those who went through it. Articles that anthropologist have pondered and shared. Suffice it to say it was rough.

Which got me thinking. You know what else is rough? Coming out as a pagan and starting your path.  With the day I’ve had, I’d much rather delve into this topic than into the burning times right this instant.

As I wrote this I stared by focusing on what I went through coming out, but I realized that it was just as painful for m parents, so I’ve taken some of the things they’ve told me about the experience to write this as well. Just in case someone from either side of the tracks finds this article.

To Parents Learning Their Child Is Pagan

1. Try to remember what it was like being a kid.  Try to remember how scary it can be finding yourself. It’s particularly hard for a child to come out to their parents about this religion. Especially when they fear rejection, something that nearly all teens face. Your child may being doing this to rebel against you or they may honestly think that this is a better path for them in the long run. Only time will tell. So, if you’re open minded give them some time to figure out if its a phase or a lifestyle for them.  Pushing that decision will only hurt them and could possibly hurt your relationship with them.

To The Seeker

It’s not my job to tell you how to make your parents happy. This decision is about you. Not to mention that trying to push anyone down a path other than the one they are meant for is pointless and silly. All I want to do is give you some insight into what you may face. What I faced coming into this religion. Particularly when talking to your parents for the first time.

1. This is a religion about respect. Respect for yourself and others. Respect for nature and the world around us. You won’t last long if you can’t respect others, both in this religion and in the real world.  So when you talk to your parents please don’t disrespect them. It doesn’t make it go any better. If you want them to respect your new found views you also have to respect theirs, no matter how they react.  Just remember that what you put out, you get back.

2. Remember that your parents do care about you no matter what they say in the heat of the moment. It’s great to be honest with them, but be considerate of why they might have concerns about this new path. My parents did and all it took was open and honest discussion to pass through the worry and into understanding. A lot of this comes down to understanding and providing correct knowledge.

3. That leads to knowing and being able to explain this new faith before you try to explain it to your parents. If you have to, find a friend or mentor who you can practice with. They can act as a sounding board to let you know what questions you may face in a best or worse case scenario.  Do your research and read, read, read.

4. I would also read up on other religions. If you are exploring paths, you might find one more suitable. Or you might discover something about what path you’d like to take in witchcraft. I know a large part of my discovery process was research on a multitude of religions. I just happened to land here when the dust cleared.

5. Keep a diary as you learn about yourself, your faith, and as you figure things out. Trust me, it helps to be able to go back and reflect on what you learn. It doesn’t have to be a written diary. I know people who have done this through magazine collages, artwork, video diaries, and even audio journals.  Find a medium that is calming and fun for you.

How to Talk to Your Parents

1. Only you know how to best approach your parents. Use your best instinct and tread cautiously.  Remember that whole respect thing.  Think about the words you use before you use them.  Starting off with witch and spells might set off your parents. When you do your research look for other terms. I’m not telling you to lie. I’m telling you that in some cases, you might want to soften the blow with philosophical terms first.

2. Be open and honest.

3. Try not to get defensive. Basic psych 101. That will cause them to become defensive. So calm the tude, dude and remember that you’re just starting out. You don’t know everything and you may have to tell them that.

4. Choose your moment wisely.  Some find it easier to talk to one parent at a time. I know it was easier to talk to dad when he confronted me about it, then it was when I talked to mom.

5. Be willing to listen to their worries and concerns. If you don’t have the answers tell them you will read more to determine those answers. Remember that their beliefs are valid as well.

6. You can ask them what they think God is and use that as a basis to start a dialogue. The same can be done with beliefs on death.

7. Hopefully, by the time you are to this point in the conversation you can get to trickier topics like magick and explaining what it really is vs the misconception.  From there hopefully, the conversation gets easier.

8. Know that some parents may never accept your new beliefs. It’s a risk, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is hard to hide that part of you. I did the best that I could for years and it was hard. Sometimes it hurt to lie to my parents. I felt like I was betraying this cherished relationship that I had with them. I know not everyone has that, but regardless, lying to your parents can hurt.

What’s Next?

Once you’re out of the broom closet there are two paths. First, you can continue to research and read, developing your own solitary practice. Second, you can find a mentor or a group that makes you comfortable.

I took both paths at some point. The first was harder for me than the second in the long run.  I needed the social aspect, people to act as a sounding board. Which is how I started looking for pagan groups in Louisville and found the grove/classes I attended for two years.

I can give you some basics on group though:

1. Research a group before you visit. Ask around.

2. Realize that depending on where you live, it may be hard to find a group close to you, if one exists at all. I had that problem in the small town I grew up in.

3. If there is a group near you, it still may not work out. You have to feel comfortable for it to work long term.  If something feels wrong, get out early.

4. If you are underage, you will need parental permission to join any credible group. They won’t teach you without this.  If someone offers you classes without asking for parental permission, they are probably creepers and you want to avoid them.

5. A good teacher should be able to tell you how and where they learned. If this is missing, they could be trouble.

6. If a groups website doesn’t provide information about their research and source materials, it’s probably shady.

7. If a teacher says they will teach you anything that sounds like it could harm someone, they’re trouble. Same thing goes for binding and hexing. Real witches only protect themselves, they don’t harm others.

8. Please don’t start a coven until you’ve learned A LOT about the craft. And by a lot, I mean have studied it for years. I’ve been doing this for 14 years now and I still don’t feel comfortable starting my own coven.  It’s one thing to start a study or support system group, but a coven needs a leader and leader in the craft recognizes that it takes years to be wise enough to lead a coven.

9. Think carefully before you do any spells. All things in life have consequences. It’s one thing to pray to the Gods and Goddesses for help. A spell should only be used when you have exhausted other resources such as communication, negotiation, prayer, ect. AKA….use your words and common sense first.

10. No matter which direction you go research the concepts of the religion. To note, you won’t find this in many of the books. This was one of the problems I had until I found my former grove. The best book I’ve found for this is Teaching Witchcraft.  Other books I recommend are True Magick: A beginners guide by Amber K and for the more seasoned learner Advanced Witchcraft. Other books on metaphysics are also a great place to start as they will have most of the fundamentals that many of the newer books don’t cover.

11. I know its tempted to jump straight to magick, but trust me, its well worth your time to take these other steps first. You wouldn’t give a kid, who’s never ridden a bike, a bike without training wheels. This is a similar thing. I can’t stress how much trauma I put myself through jumping straight to the fun stuff without understanding the rest first. Just as you wouldn’t sky dive without a lesson first, jumping straight into spells can lead you astray. Especially, if you don’t understand the fundamentals of what pagans or witches believe.

I hope this helps you figure out how to approach your parents. I also hope that you really take delving into a new religion seriously. It isn’t a decision to be made lightly and definitely not one to be made without research. Growing up is hard enough without taking some time to learn from the mistakes of others before you accidentally harm yourself. I wish you the best of luck.

Blessed Be.

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