Paganism and heathenry galore.

God, Goddess, and Other: Fertility faiths and queer identities

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Monticello Gardens and Pavilion, photo by Mr Tin DCI was Wiccan for several years. It was my first exposure to Paganism, as it is for many people. I enjoyed feeling connected with nature, I was happy to find a faith that didn’t shame me for having a vagina, and of course, like most geeky 11-year-old girls would, I relished the feeling of empowerment that knowledge of magick brought.

It wasn’t long before something in me I couldn’t quite identify began to butt heads with what I was reading and practicing. There are many aspects of the Horned God I felt (and still feel) a connection to, such as his associations with wild nature, magick, and the death and rebirth cycle, but I felt discouraged from exploring these ideas because they were deemed “masculine.” Instead, I tried to explore the mysteries of the Goddess as I felt I was “supposed” to. Despite being young, I felt unable to relate to the Maiden, and I felt stifled by the seeming inevitability of becoming a Mother, then a Crone — neither of which particularly appealed to me. It was also around this time that I began to realize I was gay, which only served to intensify my feelings of alienation. How could a spiritually necessary “union of opposites” occur when I didn’t even find my so-called “opposite” attractive? Continue reading

Robert Graves’ fabrication of the Celtic tree calendar

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Tree, photo by Romain ValletFor many people, their first introduction to the Song of Amergin came through Robert Graves’ The White Goddess.  Graves states that, “English poetic education should, really, begin not with Canterbury Tales, not with the Odyssey, not even with Genesis, but with the Song of Amergin.”

However, despite this apparently reverential beginning; Graves does not actually put forward the Song of Amergin as we have it; rather he begins by utterly changing this ancient poem to better fit his own pet theory, connecting the lines from this poem to the Ogham alphabet and the “months” of the year.  This creates a vague pattern, unprecedented in either nature or the Gaelic source culture he purports to respect.

Graves provides neither the original Irish poem, nor anyone else’s English translation. Instead he just sets off on his own imaginative journey. Continue reading

Salutation to the Heroes: November 11th or 12th

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The Feast of the Einheriar or the Festival of the Einherjar is also known by other names including the Festival of Odhinn, the Feast of Fallen Warriors, Heroes’ Day, the Salutation to the Heroes and Old November Day. Marking the day of the full onset of winter, this festival was Christianized and transformed into St. Martin’s Day (Martinmas), a catholic saint who was given many of Odhinn’s original attributes. Originally this day was sacred to both Odhinn and Cernunnos (who has many similarities to the Wanderer Odhinn). Continue reading

Stepping Out of the Broom Closet: ‘Coming out’ as Wiccan or Pagan to Friends and Family

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In sharing one’s Wiccan faith with another, one takes the very real risk that the other person will react to the negative stereotypes surrounding witchcraft.

Deciding to share one’s ideas of spirituality with another, especially an alternative religion, can be a difficult decision to make, and should be well thought out. In sharing one’s Wiccan faith with another, one takes the very real risk that the other person will react to the negative propaganda and stereotypes which has surrounded witchcraft for centuries.

The unfortunate truth is that those in minority religions, such as Wicca, are often discriminated against for various reasons, the most common being lack of information, misinformation or propaganda and surrounding the tenants and practices of the religion.

When you’re close to someone, it’s natural to want to share the things that are important, and when one’s religion is kept a secret, it effectively severs a part of yourself from them, and that can seem very lonely with someone you’re otherwise quite open with.

If you do come to the decision that being open about your faith is right for you, consider first opening up to someone whom you trust and who is unlikely to ridicule or criticize.

Try to think ahead to some of the questions the person is likely to ask, and prepare responses, either mentally or on paper. Consider bringing a few reference books, if you have them (see next week’s review of Bryan Lankford’s Wicca Demystified as one possibility.)

Wicca is not evangelical, and attempts to recruit others are ill-advised. Be honest and open, and choose a time and a place that is appropriate, where there will be few distractions, and where you are on equal terms.

You may decide to try a more passive approach, but outward religious symbols can be misinterpreted, standing alone. I’ve had several people surprised to discover I was Jewish. I was surprised too, until I realized they’d caught sight of my pentagram and confused it with the Star of David.

Others have confused it with a Satanic pentagram, or Anton LaVey’s Satanic symbol for Baphomet, which is easy enough to do at a distance, as the second degree symbol in some Wiccan traditions also feature inverted pentagrams.

While religious symbols can be misread, they can provide great conversation starters for those wanting to know more, or for spotting other Pagans more easily.

Lankford, in Wicca Demystified, states that “[w]hen minorities no longer fear discrimination and people with different views are perceived as individuals rather than dangerous, when people no longer have to fear for their life, livelihood, or happiness because their view of Deity is different, then all people can share their religions openly.” It’s a nice ideal to try and live up to.

Best of luck!


  • Lankford, Bryan. Wicca Demystified. New York: Marlow & Company, 2005.

First published on on 10 July 2006. (Unfortunately.)

The Broom Closet: In or Out?

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Should you “stay in the broom closet”; or share your newfound spirituality of Wicca or Paganism with others?

Sometimes deciding what to tell others about one’s religion can be a difficult thing. Unfortunately not all societies are equally open minded regarding matters of faith.

To “come out of the closet” is to acknowledge one’s homosexuality openly, and similarly, the phrase “in the broom closet” refers to Pagans who not only keep their spirituality to themselves, but actively avoid mentioning it or acknowledging their spirituality publicly, often even one’s family and close friends are unaware.

Religious and spiritual belief is a very personal subject, it can be very private. Yet, at the same time, often our beliefs permeate the whole of who we are, how we express ourselves, from what foods we buy for our families to what we do on Saturdays to who we pray to on December 25th (Mithras? Jesus?). It can even dictate how we interact with others, whether we turn the other cheek, practice ahimsa, or harm none.

Unfortunately, religious persecution still exists, and it can be a difficult decision for some people to decide whether or not to tell their friends, or even their families about the path they have chosen.

I’m of the belief that it is always best to be honest and upfront with family and close friends, for those are the people are supposed to know you best, though not everyone may have the same relationships with their loved ones. However, not everyone may have the same support options available to them.

Religious discussion is rarely appropriate on the job, but if you have co-workers you are close to, and the subject arises, what you say and how you present it may affect work relations: not everyone may understand what it means to have a witch in the office. ‘Witch’ is still commonly used as a derogatory term, and even when it’s not, it’s often misunderstood in terms of storybook hags or Hollywood lightshows, and lengthy explanations of religious and spiritual beliefs are not often office cooler talk.

If you do decide to be open about your spirituality, you may want to consider who you want to “come out of the closet” to, and what their response may be. Some questions to mull over may include:

  • Who do I want to tell?
  • Why haven’t I told … previously?
  • What will …’s reaction be?
  • Am I prepared to accommodate possible changes in our relationship, at least at first?
  • Is it appropriate for … to understand my spirituality?

Next week we’ll explore methods of opening up to friends and family.

First published on on 03 July 2006. (Unfortunately.)

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