Who should you tell about your spiritual beliefs?

Photo by- Marcus Ranum www.ranum.com

Photo by- Marcus Ranum
www.ranum.com

It’s been a journey for me to be more and more ‘out’ about being a witch and a priestess.  Often I see people struggle with this question, “Who do I tell, and when?”

It makes sense why you might be reluctant to be open about your beliefs, especially if you identify as being ‘pagan’ a ‘witch’ in any way ‘woo-woo’.  We live in a culture where these beliefs are still considered evil, or devil worship by some, and just merely backwards or silly by others.  So I always feel like it is a personal choice how much you want to reveal, and your reasons for staying hidden about your beliefs are totally valid.

I want to share my experience however, in hopes that it will help some of you make the decision.

As a disclaimer I will tell you that I live in Portland, a town very welcoming and open to alternative beliefs and lifestyles.  We have our own TV show dedicated to our quirkiness (Thanks Carrie Brownstien and Fred Armisan).   I’m also a small business owner, and thus, I’m my own boss. I realize these things put me in a unique position to have the luxury to be a little more public about things than some of you.

However, time and time again, I am astounded at how much opportunity and goodness comes my way when I risk being open and honest about what I believe.  The more and more I do it in my business life the more I’m rewarded by getting to work with people who are attracted to my viewpoint, and share similar aspirations as me.  The more I do it in my personal life, the more rewarded I am by the openness and connection it creates in my community and family.  One of my favorite moments was getting to talk to my mom about animal allies after publishing this article.

So how do you make the decision?  I would answer these questions as honestly and openly as you can:

How much could you lose by being ‘out’?  For some of you the answer might be your job, your family members, community status.  These are serious considerations.  But for others of you it might just be some annoying friendships with people you would rather lose anyway.  Think about what you would be willing to let go of, if others react unfavorably, and also keep in mind, often other’s reactions are much more welcoming than we’d fear.

How much community support and buffer do you have?  I have a strong community of like-minded people, a family that is open, and a loving partner, who supports my spiritual practice.  All of this helps make any backlash I might get for my beliefs a mere annoyance rather than a devastating loss.  Who is around you that already knows about and supports your beliefs?  How much do they already help you stay strong in the face of adversity?  Are any of them harboring fears about you coming out that may make them less than supportive?

How willing are you to talk about something that is deeply personal and sometimes hard to articulate?  Like it or not, when we go public about our spiritual life, we open ourselves up to questions.  Some of them can be in an attempt to discredit us, but most are just out of honest curiosity and a desire to know more.  How comfortable are you talking about what you belive?  Do you have a language that is comfortable for you?  Are you ready to be questioned?

What are your reasons for being public?  This is perhaps the most important question for anyone to answer.  For me it was a matter of trying to be as authentic as possible in my daily life.  I also am guilty of being a recovering cynic, so it was important for me to fess up to my beliefs as a way to make peace with my past self.  I also feel that the more open and honest we can be about our belief, the less they will be stigmatized or misunderstood.  Your answers may not be the same as mine, and I really encourage you to think long and hard about this one, because sometimes it can make everything worth it, even if the answers to some of the above questions aren’t so favorable.

I hope made it clear that I don’t belive there is one right answer to the ultimate question of whether you do or don’t go public with your beliefs. Whatever your choice, I hope it ends up being as posative and life affirming as mine has been.

Have you grappled with this question? Leave a comment below and let us know what your decision was and why.

 

Allison Carr LAc believes that healing yourself makes the world a better place.  Learn more about her work and classes at http://allisoncarr.net/

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Leave a Comment

  • b July 11, 2013, 7:47 AM

    I am struggling with this now, in a way. trying to choose a new path and pick between theoretically sensible, and true but less likely to work easily. the second option would include some coming out, in a major way, in my small community, in the middle of a messy break up.
    and either option seems right and clearly better at different times.
    so, is life magic and amazing, or do I have to play the game? because it’s all on the line

    Reply
    • Allison Carr July 11, 2013, 10:39 AM

      B, you know I’m always going to come down on the side of life being magical and amazing, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t survived my share of ass-kickings from the universe. Sometimes even when we do the “right” thing shit is still hard for a while. Sounds like you know what it’s like to be in the broom closet already, so let me ask you this, can you tolerate it? What do you sacrifice to stay in, and how does it compare to what you’d lose by coming out? When say everything is on the line do you mean your whole community, your job, your safety, if so, I would think about it seriously, because you absolutely get to feel safe and secure and make a livelihood, that is your birthright. But if, on the other hand, the pain of staying where you are at is bigger than the pain of moving forward, you have your answer. I wish I could just tell you that everything will get better, and I have no doubt that eventually it will, but you also get to pick and choose your battles. Sending you lots of love and the wisdoms to make the decision that is best for you.

      Reply
  • Louise July 12, 2013, 3:21 PM

    Allison…this is such a great topic for discussion.
    I have followed the Craft for over 40 years, & never have quite fully come ‘out of the broom closet’. When I was 19, I told a very close friend’s mother about my beliefs-she responded that they used to burn witches & should bring back the practice. After that, she would never speak to me-something quite painful as she had been like a mother to me. I also witnessed friends who were open about their beliefs lose custody of children in divorce settlements & others lose jobs simply because they honestly & openly embraced their spiritual practices. All this taught me early in life to keep my spiritual practices private.
    Some members of the coven I once belonged to could never understand my reluctance to “come out” openly in the community. My response was that which you considered sacred should be honored by silence-protecting it from ridicule or defamation by the ignorant-akin to ‘Be Silent’ of the Witch’s Pyramid.
    You make some very valid points in your discussion, Allison. At this point in my life, the only loss I foresee by being open about my beliefs would be that of a few folks who lack tolerance for someone who walks a different path, which is not a loss at all, but a blessing…

    Reply
    • Allison Carr July 13, 2013, 9:46 AM

      Thanks Louise for sharing your perspective and story. You really illustrate how this is not a decision to be taken lightly. You also bring up a very important point which is that the cloak of secrecy and anonymity has always been a powerful tool of the craft, for very good reason, and yes, there are definitely times that I choose to stay silent, especially when what I hold sacred is at risk of “ridicule by the ignorant”. Coming out is a deeply personal decision, and one I would never presume to dictate for another person. I also recognize that I’ve been lucky and blessed to live in the place that I do, during this time. Thanks as always, Louise, for sharing here, you always bring such insight and value to the discussion!

      Reply