In sharing one’s Wiccan or Pagan 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 and propaganda 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. (Check our review of Bryan Lankford’s Wicca Demystified. It’s a great resource.)
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.
In Wicca Demystified Lankford 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.
Image credit: Bob Jagendorf
First published on Suite101.com on 10 July 2006.