Can you pick a Pagan by looking at them?

You might see a twenty-something woman walking along the street. She’s wearing long, flowing robes, and her hair is dyed black. She has thick eyeliner on, and lots of silver jewelry.

“Awww,” you think. “She’s GOT to be Pagan!”

There’s a stereotype of how Pagans – and Witches in particular – dress and behave. People expect most pagans to be young, and to be female. And the whole long, flowing dresses and skirts thing is a real dead give-away in the stereotype stakes.

But, from my experience, although you’ll certainly find a lot of pagans do like to dress this way, a lot don’t. Some of – perhaps even the majority of – the most powerful pagans cannot be picked one bit by what they wear or how they dress. They’re aware that dressing to a stereotype is akin to keeping all your valuables in your front window, and that sometimes that’s not the wisest thing to do.

When I first found my Pagan path, as a young teenager, sure I dressed like that. I couldn’t get my hands on enough cheap velvet and bodice tops with long flowing sleeves!

I wanted everyone to know what I was, and my clothes were an easy way for me to display my new-found identity. At a time when I still felt uncertain about who I was and what I was doing, a strong clothing and dress stereotype – thick black eyeliner and all – made me feel powerful and secure.

Now I’m in my early forties. I’ve been treading this path a long time, and taught and guided many others to tread it alongside me. I’m not a newbie any more. I feel secure about who I am. And as my security and comfort in the Craft has grown, my need to dress according to someone else’s idea of what a Pagan should be has decreased.

These days, you’d never pick me as a Pagan, or a Witch, or as anything out of the ordinary. I keep my pagan self well hidden. Sure, I might wear more black than the average, but that’s pretty common and nobody looks twice at me for it.

The thing is, clothing can give you strength. It can make you feel like you belong. So wearing “witchy” clothes and dressing to a pattern can help you feel like you fit in. And Pagans who dress this way can be picked by looking at them, because they match the stereotype.

But if you think you can pick any pagan by looking at them, well, no you can’t. None of the long-time Pagans that I work with, or have worked with, would ever stand out in a crowd as being anything other than completely average. Yet some of them are incredibly powerful, talented practitioners. Our eyes can deceive us.

Due to the nature of our faith being considered “alternative”, we’ve grown really good at blending in. You’d never suspect most of us of being pagan. Yet we are.

Concealment is a powerful and valuable magickal art. We can choose to be visible, or we can choose to hide in the crowd. What I am suggesting here is that there is value in being able to do both.

Clothes have power. Be aware of the image they project, and the results that image produces. Do you want to be visible to everyone, having every fool on the street aware of what you are? Or do you value the art of subterfuge and cunning, hiding in the shadows, and blending with the herd, a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

As powerful pagans, we can choose to do either. Or both.

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3 thoughts on “Can you pick a Pagan by looking at them?

  1. i sorta go with the wolf in sheeps clothing, i must admit that i hide my pentagram at college. i worry i will get bad grades from the professors. at the same time i get somewhat upset that the pentagram can’t be out in the open the same as the christian cross can.very interesting post!

    1. It sucks that we can’t be as open as Christians can, but we’re not alone. And at least we can hide our pentacles easily. Imagine how hard it must be for Muslims at the moment – so many people equate Islam with terrorism, they must cop a LOT of abuse. Sikhs are the same. In many ways, I think we have it easy.

      Things are changing, slowly. Just not fast enough! But in the meanwhile, if you think you’re going to be discriminated against, I think it makes sense to hide it, and be the “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

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