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Pagan Coming Out Day

It has been 2 years since I came out of the “broom closet” on International Pagan Coming Out Day.

Many things have remained the same- I’m still a stay/work at home mom.  I’m still married to my husband of now 12 years.  I still have love and support from family and friends.

So what’s different?  I’ve been elected as a co-leader of Pagans in Touch.  I’ve also stepped up and become one of the local coordinators of Central Illinois Pagan Pride Day.  I’ve written & lead a few public rituals now.  I’ve organized a few events.  My relationship with my deities has evolved.  I’m more confident in myself and more likely to speak up for myself.  I’m less likely to take any bullshit.

Do I ever see discrimination or persecution because of my faith?  Nothing that is out-right horrible or dangerous.  I’ve received an email asking from a private business that we not put flyers in a public area for our events, because it was in an area that their customers walked through, even though they allowed flyers for other events.  I’ve been completely ignored when discussing something I’m proud of that just happens to be Pagan-related by a friend or two.   But that’s nothing compared to others I know.  Pagans that have had shots fired at their house because of their religion.  Pagans that have been fired from their job, simply for having a different faith than their boss.  No, it’s not legal- that doesn’t stop it from happening.

I hear stories of parents that can’t accept their adult child’s faith- stating “their still finding themselves.”  Stories of people feeling the need to hide a deity statue or create secret altars from spouses.  People that have to create alternate identities, just so they can talk to others openly about their faith without fearing judgment from their loved ones.  I’ve considered doing the same at one point.

Why do people feel threatened by others, just because they worship a deity different from them?  Why do people feel the need to force their deity or their beliefs on others?  We’re not asking for the world here, just to have the same rights as everyone else.  To be able to talk about our last full moon ritual, just the same as someone might discuss going to church last Sunday at the water cooler.  “Wow- you had a really moving service on Sunday?  That’s great, I felt the same way during my last Esbat!”

People should not have to fear for their safety, or their job stability just because of their religion.  Yes, there are laws on the books to prevent this from happening, but to actually prove that this is the cause is incredibly difficult.  It has to start on a more personal level – showing the people around you that Pagans aren’t scary people, which is why Pagan Coming Out Day is important.  It requires community outreach and education, which is why Pagan Pride Days are so important.  If you can come out safely or help out at Pride Days, please do so.  Every little bit makes a difference.

xo Amanda

PS.  Would you like to read my original coming out post?  You can find it HERE.

Imbolc Beginnings

It seems fitting that first entry to Hedgehog Squeaks should be just before Imbolc, as Pagans in Touch was founded just prior to Imbolc more than 10 years ago.  As odd as this sounds many of us solitaries, while solitaries for good reason, do a bit better when we can periodically discuss, practice and worship with others.  But only periodically.  Pagans in Touch arose from this very idea.  That we are solitaries and we love being solitaries.  That we have found our magic in ourselves.  That our magical education is in no one’s hand but our own.  But we do have questions.  We have ethical questions that we think we know the answers to, but that we want to talk about, to ask about, to get another point of view on.  We have skills that we have developed on our own, but sometimes need someone else to practice with or against.  We know the experience of holding a ritual all by ourselves, that singular connection that comes only when you are completely centered with no distractions and no other voice in your head, or your ears.  We know the feel of our magic as a singular entity unblended with anyone else.  The power of the words “so mote it be” when there is no other will but your own being done.  It is experiencing these things with others that we, at times, wish to know, to understand, to experience.  Most solitaries believe in the strength of their own magic, but know that by being in a group that magic can amplify and grow.  That the magic of several blended together with one common goal can move mountains.  That sometimes celebration is a lot more fun when there are other people to celebrate with.
It can be hard for solitaries.  Not all covens or groups are welcoming to solitaries.  Many are uncomfortable with inviting someone outside of their path to a ritual or event.  There are mysteries that are unique to specific groups that they cannot share with those outside of that group/coven.  Or that they are just unwilling to share.  There are several groups that do not recognize solitaries as being “real” Pagans.  Initiation into the magical arts is critical to some groups, and most solitaries never experience that initiation.  Because of this many solitaries feel left out by the broader community.  There are events that solitaries can attend that help, the Pagan Pride days that happen across the county, Pagan Spirit Gathering, Pan Pagan Festival or Chrysalis Moon.  These events are amazing and amazingly welcoming to solitaries.  But most happen yearly, or you’ve gotta camp and almost always be willing to travel.  The advent of the internet has been amazingly helpful!  It’s easier to reach across miles to people with more experience to answer questions.  But attending a ritual with others is still a bit more difficult.
Pagans in Touch

Pagans in Touch

Pagans in Touch was created on the idea that it could be a go between for solitaries and groups.  It could be a place where solitaries could talk and discuss different aspects of paganism, it could offer rituals to those who wanted the experience, and be a place for people to learn about paths outside of their own.  It could also be a place where covens and groups could leave information if they were willing to allow solitaries to visit and experience their groups.  Where they could share information about their path with those who are looking to learn and who might be willing/wanting to join a group.  A starting point for some, a place to grow for others, a home for many.   Pagans in Touch has homes in Illinois and Maryland, it’s a growing community based on the idea that each solitary pagan has a place, that every community can grow and that we should all be there to help each other out with that growth.
It was a very cold Yule just before we came up with the idea for Pagans In Touch.  A group of us solitaries sitting around talking about how awesome it would to have a community of solitaries who could come and go as they pleased, who could share their journeys with each other and know that they weren’t alone, a whole group who could offer ritual to each other to attend as we pleased with no pressure to be anything other than exactly the solitaries we were.  By Imbolc we had a Meet-up group created, and our first meeting scheduled.
For me as a solitary, and a daughter of Brigid, I saw the creation of the Pagans In Touch at Imbolc no less, as a chance to pass on the Pagan torch I carried, to help light a new hearth fire for someone else, to keep a light bright in the darkness.  I hope that each of you who attends a Pagans in Touch meeting feels the same way.  That you come away from each meeting with a better understanding of all of the unique members of your community.  That you walk away with a little more understanding than you did before getting there.  Most importantly that you leave having had a little bit of fun, a lot of laughs and a big old smile.

Pagan Coming Out Day

Amanda’s Pagan Coming Out post, originally posted 5/2/13 on Rose and Lin (no longer online).

Today, May 2nd is Pagan Coming Out Day.  You may be wondering- so?  Who cares?  Well, , I care obviously, since I’m writing about it, and I care because…

I am a Pagan.

So, at this point you probably have one of four reactions:

  1. So? Who cares!
  2. WHAT!?! How could you!
  3. Huh? What’s a Pagan?
  4. Woot! Me too!

And really, any of those reactions is fine.  I’m not going to be changing based on your reaction.  To be honest, I haven’t changed who I am.  I’ve been Pagan for a long time.  Actually, I’ve been Pagan for over 17 years now, so there are probably some of you out there who think this is old news.  But since then, I’ve tried to not be Pagan, and I’ve tried going to church, because I hated (yes it is a strong word, and yes, I mean hated) myself for not being “normal.”  But, here’s the thing: you can’t be something you’re not.  And all that time I was trying to not be Pagan, deep down, I was longing for it, and holding tightly to my beliefs.  About two-three years ago, I told Mr. Rose & Lin that I was going to start doing my Pagan thing again.  I was so scared to tell him, which, looking back was just silly.  He has been wonderfully, amazingly supportive, even attending events with me.  He’s so freaking awesome.  My children, whom I told after a while, have not treated me any different, I’m still just mom.  They’re amazingly awesome too!  Actually, all this had a great side-effect.  The more open I’ve been, the happier I’ve been.  But, I have been yearning to be completely out and open, which is why I’m coming out.  So, overall, I’m really not any different.  The only thing that has changed is that this year I am actively trying to be more direct, more honest, more open and more myself.  I am tired of being the shy, meek person that’s afraid of everyone and everything.  Also, I’ve been getting involved with some Pagan organizations, including our local Pagan Pride Day.  While I have no desire to turn this into a Pagan blog, I want to be able to share openly about what’s going on in my life without wondering “who knows?  will this offend someone?  Oh no, I can’t say that!” and so on.  Continue reading if you want.  Stop if you want.  If you’re shocked or confused I’ll explain a few things and go into more depth.  And if you’re a pagan too, then: Hi!  Merry meet!  Love ya!

Before I go on, I want you to know that I’m not trying to convert a single person here.  I believe that who you worship and what you believe is your own personal business.  As long as you’re not hurting anyone or breaking any laws, it’s not my business.

So, lets get into the details here. A little background for anyone that’s confused.  Paganism is an umbrella term for a variety of traditions that tend to organize themselves and operate without a centralized religious body or a standardized dogma.  Pagan traditions are generally earth or nature-centered religions.  Some of the traditions that fall under the Pagan umbrella include Wicca, Witchcraft, Druidism, Heathen, Shamanism, Asatru, Voudon, and many more.  I consider myself to be an eclectic, meaning that I use bits and pieces from traditions that I find meaningful.  You can call me Pagan, or Witch, and both of those terms are ok for me, although I tend to use Pagan more.

I honor both gods and goddesses, and the ones I choose to honor depend on what I am in need of in my life at the time or the occasion.  I celebrate holidays that are based on the wheel of the year.  I honor the four “sun” or quarter holidays which are the winter solstice (Yule or Midwinter), vernal equinox (Ostara), summer solstice (Litha or Midsummer), and the autumnal equinox (Mabon).  Pretty self-explanatory there.  I also celebrate “cross-quarter” holidays.  These might be a little more confusing, but still follow the wheel of the year:

Imbolc, also know as Groundhogs day, Candlemas, or the Feast of Brigid.  This is a holiday to celebrate the return of the sun.

Beltane, aka May Day, is a celebration of fertility.  And while I no longer celebrate my own fertility (no more children, please!!), I do celebrate the fertility of our earth, and my garden, and are striving for fertile finances! 😉

Lughnassadh (pronounced “loo-na-sah”) occurs around August 1st.  This is the first of three harvest holidays and is also known as the Witch’s Thanksgiving.  My hubby particularly likes this holiday as it’s food centered.  😉

Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) is also known as Halloween.  While I enjoy the donning of costumes and trick-or-treating, that’s not what I celebrate for Samhain.  It is a very reverent time of honoring ones ancestors and preparing for going into the dark days of winter.  It is also the last of the harvest holidays.

I also honor the Goddess at the full moon and occasionally the new moon.  The moon is essential to life on Earth, without it, we would not have the tides that give life to our oceans, and the oceans were the origin of life on our planet.

I do not believe in a supreme evil figure, such as the devil or Satan, and do not worship any such entity.  Most Pagans don’t believe in Satan at all.  We are not evil.

I do believe in magick (the “k” at the end is used to differentiate from stage magic- you know, the pulling the rabbit out of a hat kind) and I do cast spells.  Spells are similar to prayer, except that instead of merely requesting aid from a deity, there is an energy that is raised and directed towards a specific goal.  If you’ve read the book “The Secret” you would see similarities to the spell-work that I do.  It’s not a pagan book, but “The Secret” works very similarly to magick.  I don’t use magick for evil or bad purposes, and I don’t do hexes or curses.  Most Pagans believe in some kind of karma system and there is no benefit to that kind of magick.

Those are the very basics to what I, as a Pagan, believe and do.  I really don’t want to bore you.  Just a few random thoughts that don’t really fit in anywhere:  We are an inter-faith family and my children celebrate both Christian and Pagan holidays, whatever they are interested in.  I have no problem with Christians wishing me a Merry Christmas (or Happy Easter), and will often reply back with a Merry Christmas.  I’m a member of a local group called Pagans in Touch, who’s focus is networking and discussion.  I’m also a member of the planning committee for the Central Illinois Pagan Pride Day.  There are many Pagan Pride Day events that go on around the country and if you’re interested in learning more about Paganism, or want to see what a ritual is like, I’d encourage you to go observe!    It’s pretty cool, and people are super friendly.  Want to see some pictures of Pagans in ritual?  There are some beautiful pictures of a Beltane celebration at St. Michael’s Tower in Glastonbury -may-day-photos-will-make-you-delighted-its-spring”>here</a>.

I’m hoping that through writing this, I can educate others and help normalize Paganism.  I hope that others can see through my actions that Pagans are not evil, devil-worshipping people.  I hope that I can give other Pagans strength through showing them that they are a not alone, and there are others out there that are like them.  And lastly, I hope that you’ve kept your heart and mind open and that you can still like or love me because I’m still the person I’ve always been.

I’d love to answer any questions you might have.  If I don’t get to you right away, it’s because I’ll be attending our Beltane camping trip this weekend, where I’m teaching a Garden May-Pole workshop!   Also, please know, I will not tolerate bashing of any kind, and your comment here (or on the Facebook page) will be treated as spam.  All comments are moderated, and I personally see every single comment before it is posted on the blog.  If you’re comment doesn’t show up immediately, that may be the cause.

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