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 Suite101.com on 03 July 2006. (Unfortunately.)
The second of a two part series on Eris, Greek goddess of chaos and disorder. Here we explore Her divine nature as portrayed in Discordianism.
Discordianism is a rather new religion, begun in the late 1950s, which can best be described as a religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion disguised as a joke…ad nauseum. Its founding text is the Principia Discordia, a mad collection of both typed and handwritten text, cut and paste quotes, images, drawings, rubber stamps, and genuine insight, the authors of which are Malaclypse the Younger and Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst. Omar Ravenhurst was an alias of Kerry Thornley, but while Malaclypse’s identity remains under speculation, he is widely believed to be Greg Hill.
Its matron goddess is Eris, goddess of chaos and disorder. She’s portrayed rather malevolently in some Greco-Roman myths, but Discordians see Her in a softer light, while still revelling in the mischief and disharmony She brings.
Discordianism’s underlying doctrines resemble Catholicism turned on its head, with a healthy dose of Paganism infused with an absurd amount of drugs. To quote Kerry Thornley in his introduction to the fifth edition: “If organized religion is the opium of the masses, then disorganized religion is the marijuana of the lunatic fringe.”
There are a few core concepts in Discordianism, such as the existence of Discordian Popes. The Principia gives a template for Pope Cards, which explain that “Every man, woman and child on this Earth is a genuine and authorized Pope”, and recommend the bearer be treated right.
POEE, the Paratheo-Anametamystikhood of Eris Esoteric, is a non-prophet irreligious disorganization described as “a tribe of philosophers, theologians, magicians, scientists, artists, clowns, and similar maniacs who are intrigued by Eris, goddess of confusion, and her doings”.
The Sacred Chao one of the more popular symbols of Discordianism resembling the yin and yang symbol of Taoism, but as the Principia explains, “The Sacred Chao is not the Yin-Yang of the Taoists. It is the HODGE-PODGE of the Erisians.” It further elucidates “…instead of a Podge spot on the Hodge side, it has a PENTAGON which symbolizes the ANERISTIC PRINCIPLE, and instead of a Hodge spot on the Podge side, it depicts the GOLDEN APPLE OF DISCORDIA to symbolize the ERISTIC PRINCIPLE. The Sacred Chao symbolizes absolutely everything anyone need ever know about absolutely anything, and more! It even symbolizes everything not worth knowing, depicted by the empty space surrounding the Hodge-Podge.”
The Law of Fives states that “ALL THINGS HAPPEN IN FIVES, OR ARE DIVISIBLE BY OR ARE MULTIPLES OF FIVE, OR ARE SOMEHOW DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY APPROPRIATE TO 5.” Five being a number of chaos, the disruption of four, traditionally seen as a stable number representing order. This, coupled with William Burroughs’ obsession with the number twenty-three, which many Discordians discover through the works of Robert Anton Wilson, a well known Discordian author, has given rise to Discordia Day, on the twenty-third of May, the fifth month. Discordia Day is recognized as a day to celebrate Eris and Discordianism, getting into mischief and having a laugh.
Eris is worked with in a lighthearted manner, Her penchant for disrupting the norm is celebrated with mischievous glee, and all works of chaos are Her works.
Rejoice in the sight of a messy room, laugh in a traffic jam, and celebrate divine disruption with joy. Hail Eris!
- Malaclypse the Younger and Ravenhurst, Omar Khayyam. Principia Discordia. IllumiNet Press: Lilburn, 1991.
For more, you can check out the entire Principia Discordia online at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~tilt/principia/. Also recommended: The Illuminatus! Trilogy, a novel by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.
First published on Suite101.com on 29 May 2006. (Unfortunately.)
How do Pagans in the southern hemisphere accommodate the differences in their seasons when most of the Pagan literature is focused on more northern climates?
As Wicca’s spiritual roots are found in pre-Christian European mythology and culture, consequently its festival dates tend to follow the seasonal cycles of the northern climate.
In fact, previously, most books on Paganism and Wiccan focused almost exclusively on the northern hemisphere, but more and more Pagan writers are getting the idea that this there are Pagans practicing in other parts of the world, with entirely different seasonal cycles.
We’ll explore more on this in future articles with book reviews and interviews featuring Pagans from varying traditions from all over the globe.
As a nature-based religion, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to be celebrating the slumber of the Earth and the Sun-God’s rebirth in December, where in Australia, for instance, they’re throwing shrimp on the barbie and the sun’s in the full blast of summer.
Typically southern hemisphere Pagans shift the traditional designated dates on the Wheel of the Year by 180 degrees, so you have the following designations:
Samhain – 30 April
Yule – 21 June
Imbolg – 31 July
Ostara – 23 September
Beltane – 31 October
Midsummer – 22 December
Lughnassadh – 2 February
Mabon – 21 March
In each of the Sabbat articles I’ve written thusfar, I’ve included both the northern and southern dates for the festivals, and I will continue to do so.
If you’re a Pagan down under, let us know how you celebrate. What you do differently, what you do that’s similar. You can begin or contribute to discussions by clicking on the link at the bottom of this article.
First published on Suite101.com on 25 June 2006. (Unfortunately.)