I had an interesting experience today.
I was at the gym with a friend, and The Question came up.
“What do you believe?” asked my friend.
A bit of backstory. I’ve known my friend (platonic relationship) for about a year now. He’s terrific, and I trust him absolutely when it comes to…friend-type stuff.
He’s a really great guy, don’t get me wrong. And he’s “into” what a lot of people would call “nutty stuff”. We’ve been having conversations about aliens and crop circles and so on, and I think he’s more inclined to believe in all that sort of stuff than I am (I’m dubious).
So I know he’s open-minded. And he’s a cool person. And I like him. And I trust him.
And I’ve got a pretty strong impression he knows I’m Pagan anyway. Just various things that have been said along the way, over the course of a year. Plus I’m pretty easy to find on the net if you look me up and add “pagan” or “witch” to my name.
BUT…that’s a whole lot different to me actually answering The Question outright.
So I sort of answered something along the lines of “You’d think I’m even loopier than you do now if I told you!” And the conversation took a different turn: he didn’t push it.
Coming out of the broom closet…
And now I’m wondering why I didn’t answer The Question.
The truth is, I’m pretty much in the closet these days. Ever since a Major Stalking Episode a few years back where I had death threats against me. It freaked me out, and made me less inclined to trust people. Just a bit.
These days, people who have known me for years know who and what I am. And I still get old students (from Coven and classes I’ve run at various points) who call me by my Craft name when we meet. But I don’t tell general, newer friends and acquaintances that I’m Pagan. It’s a “Need To Know” basis only. I don’t exactly hide it, but I don’t wear a pentacle any more.
But it isn’t just that.
The Question puts you on the spot. Yes, you might be totally willing to talk about Paganism in some contexts (like the pub, with a beer in your hand). But in other contexts (like in-between sets of leg extensions), you’re not really in your spiritual comfort zone.
And The Question is actually one of the BIG Questions in life – it is part of all the most complex and spiritual and sacred aspects of who I am.
Opening the Broom Closet door…
It’s all kind of silly really.
I mean, like I said, I’m pretty sure he can guess what I am. But guessing and knowing are two entirely different things.
I get the strong vibe that he’s dead curious. Who wouldn’t be? If you’re an open-minded kind of person, Paganism sure makes a change from meat-and-three-veg Anglicans that swarm around the streets. I sense he’s not just curious, but desperate to learn. He’s waiting for a teacher.
I just don’t know whether he’ll freak out, and I won’t have a friend any more. I mean, Paganism WTF? Running around naked WTF? Knives and swords and ritual sex WTF? And this whole immanence and God and Goddess thing WTF?
Of course, it all makes sense when you’re in it and work the magic and see it happening and feel your power grow. And everyone starts at the bottom – casting circles and lighting cauldrons.
But to an outsider – yep, it’d be weird. Weirder than aliens and crop circles all right.
In the end, I guess we’ve got to open the door to let the muggles in. The friendly, curious muggles. Because that’s what we all are at first. I remember my muggle days. And I’m glad there were people willing to open doors for me. I thank them for that.
They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. And the other way around? I’m just not sure I’m ready to be a teacher again yet.
But the students are appearing, over and over again now. I’m getting lots of requests, lots of people asking.
Maybe I’ve been on leave for long enough, and it’s time to get back to work. To pass on what I’ve learned, to teach again face to face.
Maybe my friend is teaching me more than I realised.