Cyber Pagans: In the Closet or Out
Many of us in the Pagan community are now Internet connected. For me it has meant that I can keep in touch with a greater number of people with less effort. Communication is fast and direct, with no answering machines to contend with, and no worries about what someone else's schedule is like.
Recently, I shared a very inspirational story that was e-mailed to me. I sent it out to a number of my friends, Pagan and Non-Pagan alike. At the head of the message I put a little blurb and attached a smiley face. (in an effort to be "politically correct" the blurb held an apology to my Pagan friends because the story included a reference to God - using "HE").
A few days later, I received a very angry e-mail from a Pagan friend declaring that I had "outed" them to others, by including their name on a long list of addresses at the beginning of the e-mail! This friend proceeded to send an e-mail to everyone on that list telling them that I had violated a sacred trust by "outing" everyone on that list!!
What just happened here?
I "outed" no one - they "outed" themself by declaring their outrage at my perceived "mistake"!
The whole sordid episode got me to thinking about today's climate in Paganism and where I perceive my place in it.
I was initiated into an order that has roots with Lady Sheba and took the vow of secrecy just like everyone else. In the intervening years, my feelings about that have been ambivalent to say the least.
Secrecy was something that was quite necessary during the "burning times" and perhaps 20 years ago. But today, we are a recognized religion with rights and privileges just like any other. Granted, there is some discrimination that still goes on, but we now have legal counsel for that sort of thing!! (I can already HEAR the arguments from this one!)
Also, over the last 20 years, MOST of our rites and rituals have been published, for the general public to read. Even Lady Sheba's Book of Shadows is now back in print!
So what's so secret?
Many years ago, when I first entered the Craft, my beloved sister, Jane, asked me to describe one of our rituals so that she could be assured that it wasn't anything "weird". I replied that I could not divulge our secrets to an "outsider". She responded by saying "how will anyone ever KNOW that you are harmless if you don't tell us what's up?" She had a point.
If Paganism/Wicca is to become a respected form of Religion, we HAVE to become more open about what's up!
The days of the "secret society" are over folks! (Beside the fact that this smacks of "elitism") Too much secrecy breeds suspicion, which produces AND perpetuates discrimination.
What is needed now (and is rapidly coming to pass) is an effort at presenting a united front to the rest of the world that says "we are here and we are proud of it"!!
So, let's stop whispering in the dark and stand proudly in the sunshine to proclaim ourselves PAGAN!!
Grace Morgan's BIO:
I have been in the Twin Cities(Minnesota) Pagan Community for 12 years. I began my journey into Paganism with Coven Elysium in Minneapolis. My teachers were Bertrand and Aura. Coven Elysium is very close to being the longest standing coven in the Midwest(over 30 years!), and is primarily a "teaching coven".
I have had articles published in the MN Pagan Press regularly for the past year, and poetry in several other publications in the Pagan community.
Currently, I am High Priestess of my own coven, Coven Trillium. We are now 7 strong and growing all the time. We are quite active in the Community and very committed to bringing Paganism/Wicca out into the open. We believe that openness is the only way to foster better understanding in the Community at large.
My coven does not claim any "lineage" (except for my association with a Lady Sheba offshoot). We follow the Wiccan Rede, but borrow our "traditions" from Native American, Celtic, Shamanistic practices, and Asatru (Norse Spirituality). We are Neo-Pagans of a very eclectic bent! Soon, we will be joining the "Adopt A Highway" program. We may possibly be one of the first Coven's to do so!