More than likely, you have come across more than one person who hasn’t really understood your “alternative religion” (as some people refer to it as) or dismiss your beliefs as merely a fad, a phase, or even ignorance. So how do you talk to these people to convince them that your beliefs are as valid as anyone else’s and do you even try to talk to them at all?
For many years, I was afraid to tell people that I was a witch because I was afraid that they would simply assume that I had watched “The Craft” one too many times or that I was going through a Gothic phase that lasted past my teenager years. I found myself constantly trying to justify my religion and my beliefs and it was very discouraging. From there, I went through a stage in which I didn’t engage in a conversation with anyone about my beliefs for fear that they would think I was strange. While we might be past the whole burning at the stake thing, it was still an uncomfortable topic.
These days, I pick and choose who I talk to and what I say to those that I do. There are some people that still want to turn up their noses at me, think that it’s a phase that I will eventually grow out of (not likely at my age!) and even tune me out when I start talking with a dismissive wave. However, I have also discovered that just as many people, if not more, actually have valid questions and are interested in what I do and believe in. These are the people that I love to talk to.
Sometimes, I feel like a walking information station not only for Wicca but all things Pagan. I find myself trying to explain the subtle differences, talking about rituals and spells, and dispelling a lot of common misconceptions. No, I do not ride a broomstick or worship the devil. Yes, I do use candle magic, perform rituals, and speak to the Goddess. I don’t just have to be well-informed for my own benefit, but for the education of others.
I try to answer questions as openly and honestly as I can, but I also try to be a little guarded myself. I am not ashamed of whom I am, but I am also human and nobody wants to be made fun of.
Oddly enough, or maybe not so oddly, is the fact that children seem to be more open-minded about Wicca and Paganism in general. Although I try to keep my language and explanations simple in nature depending on their age, I have found that children are usually less likely to judge and ridicule.
It constantly surprises me, though, at how well some people will accept Native American or even some African religions quite readily and yet shun Wiccans and Pagans even though we share a lot with these shamanistic beliefs.
When I am talking to someone about my beliefs, I always try to keep my audience in mind. I have some very staunch Pentecostal relatives and no matter how I try to explain things, and even point out some of the similarities of our beliefs, they still want to save my soul and invite me to Revival. I try to keep these conversations to a minimum.
On the other hand, I am also friends with some Christian ministers and I have found that either due to their education or their overall personalities they seem to be very open-minded and easy to talk to when we have theological discussions-even though they might not agree with me.
I don’t like to discuss religion with friends because I don’t want to start any kind of argument, although I am always there to answer questions if they have them.
In short, I don’t hide from what I am, but I also don’t walk around with a T-shirt that proclaims “Witch!” in big letters. (Except for maybe on Halloween.)
I try to abide by the Golden Rule, too. Even though I try to be respectful of all religions, there are some that I just don’t understand. There are others that have aspects that I don’t agree with or understand. When I’m in a conversation with people who practice these things, I do my best to remain calm and respectful. I know how I feel when I feel as though someone is attacking me and therefore I don’t want to do the same to them.
Lastly, I almost always tell whomever I am speaking to about my experience with other religions. I have been to a Buddhist retreat, a Jewish temple, a Methodist/Baptist/Presbyterian/Church or England service as well as a Catholic service, and I have even been to a Mosque. Some people assume that I am a witch because I don’t know anything about other religions. I try to explain that I chose this path because it calls to me, the same way that the religion that the person that I am having a conversation with called to them.
I hope that you find yourself surrounded with people who have unconditional love and support for you.
Your Warm and Caring “Resident Witch In Charge”