Checking in from the Broom Closet

It's roomier than it looks.

Just in case you don't follow my Twitter or Facebook, you may have been wondering why the Riot has been so quiet this week. My parents, the lovely folks that they are, have come in for the week from Texas.  It has been wonderful having mom and dad here, as I don't get to see them very often - what with living 1300 miles away and working retail. (They don't exactly like you going home for Christmas or Thanksgiving.)

But, there have been a lot of things that I have noticed this week. I noticed how it felt to box up my altar and witchy books. I noticed how everything about what my life has become is skewed when viewed through southern eyes. I noticed how even things like the fact that I am big on recycling and have changed my diet to include a large amount of organic produce and fruit is viewed as a bit odd. The eschewing of expensive things...and the whole thing.

Episode 56 will be recorded this weekend. (Either Friday or Saturday) I was hoping to get your feedback in time for the show on what it's like to be in the broom closet. See, the interesting thing about my life is that everyone, including Partner's family, knows that I am pagan. Just...not my family. The reasons why will be discussed in the Spirituality portion of Episode 56. But, I am wanting to get the perspective of the Rioters.

Who in your life is kept out of your broom closet? What are your reasons for doing so? What do you feel are the pro's and con's of keeping a tidy little space for yourself in the broom closet? Is there an age/job field/life era in which being in the broom closet is kind of a requirement?

Let me know your stories by sending an email to

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte


  1. The only time I am really "in the broom closet" is when I am at my kids school... there are alot of parents that are very judgemental - the teachers, however, have been wonderful when finding out our faith. One even asked my daughter if the portrayal of witches in fairytales upset her and then said if it did, she would find new studies for the class!

  2. Years ago when I first started exploring the occult the pressure I felt to hide these things from my family made me feel like I was going to suffocate. The pressure was coming from this feeling that I had to make a declaration, or - like when several years before that I became a member of the LDS Church - have a formal announcement of my new interests. As it happened, I never made an announcement or declared my interests - I just started doing them in the open and let people figure it out on their own. Nobody in the family thought it was strange that I was suddenly reading Tarot cards in the living room, talking about meditation, or reading books on the occult. Well, maybe they did, but they didn't say anything - it was just me living my life and they adjusted.

  3. It became too hard to stay in the broom closet. I felt like I was suffocating and denying who I was felt like a cardinal sin to use Catholic terminology. Every time I had to pack things away I felt a part of me crumble to dust. So I stopped.

  4. I don't really know what it means to in the broom closet. I don't go around screaming to the rooftops" look at me, I am witch" but I don't hide it either. If someone asks me if I'm a witch, I say yes and then wait to see how they react. But I do know who would be okay with it and who would have a hard time accepting it.
    For example I knew which members of my family would be accepting and who would have problems. What really surprised me though was my parents reaction. They are very Southern Baptist and I thought the moment they found out there would be a lot of screaming, crying, and yelling but turns out they are fine with it.

  5. The weirdest thing about being out of the broom closet for me was how my parents reacted. For my Mom and Stepdad, it was sort of an unspoken: "Do whatever, but don't let the neighbors find out!" Indeed, they seemed determined for a few years to put me back in the broom closet when company was around. I had relatives from my mom's side of the family coming to visit, and Mom wanted to show off the newly painted/decorated rooms. I walked into my room to find that all of my Pagan-related books - which had been tucked away in a small bookshelf on the far side of my bed - had been moved to the shelf in my closet with the spines turned inward. By my mother's logic, a having my "witchy" books in a small non-descript bookcase would draw more attention then seeing a whole row of books turned the *wrong way* in the eye-level shelf of an open closet. She was rather embarassed when I pointed that part out.

    In another instance, I had an openly Pagan friend over for the night to watch movies around Halloween. My stepdad yelled at me the next morning because we kept going outside during the night. I'm sure he was convinced we'd been dancing naked in front of the neighbors...until I pointed out the pile of cigarette butts. She'd been going outside to smoke, and I to keep her company. It calmed down after I moved out post-college, and now its just the issue that everyone knows and we don't discuss.

    Conversely my Dad, had the completely opposite and unexpected reaction. I kept it from him for years longer, convinced his reaction would be worse. Eventually, he was confronted with both Paganism AND bisexuality in one fell swoop. He's also a Republican and a Catholic (though admittedly a progressive one), and his reaction was: "Yeah. So, what? Is that all? With all the build up I though you we're gonna admit to manslaughter or something." Didn't bat an eyelash.

    You just never know how people will react. Even the one's you've known all your life.

  6. I will probably be in the broom closet for a very long time. But mostly because I am still trying to figure out what I believe. Truth be told, I'm not entirely sure that I AM pagan or a witch - though I love Paganism and magic (just like how I know that I love Buddhism, but I am not a Buddhist). I'm still finding my path and I think opening myself up to my friends and family and their preconceptions will undoubtedly alter the natural course of my beliefs. This is because I know myself well enough to see that I can be purposefully contrary ("oh, you don't understand what this is at all so let me do the exact opposite just to prove you wrong"). Putting myself on the defense and trying to explain things I have not yet discovered or decided for myself will only harm my spirituality.

    I do also come from a very Christian family (my step-dad is even a pastor), and I never wanted to bring any of this up while my grandparents were still alive - knowing how important my grandma's faith was to her, I didn't want to hurt or worry her. But I do take comfort in knowing that my brother has been having religious debates with my family for years, and while he spouts about things unrelated to paganism, he may be opening their minds to alternative thinking in general for when I am ready to let them know that these are the things I am exploring.

    All that being said, however, I like to think that though I am in the broom closet, I have left the door wide open, and anyone who peers in from the right angle will see me sitting in there waving at them, just waiting for the right person to invite in so I can have a chat. I long to discuss some of these things in real life, and have subtle clues that the right person might pick up on, but the uninitiated might pass of as something else. My witchy reference books: also for an epic fantasy I want to write. My new necklace, a green stone cut in the shape of a star - a pentacle to the right person. etc.

    I do have to be careful, though, because my real life career (that I hope will get going one day) relies heavily on public opinion, and I have to be careful what I connect to my real name, or it could really bite me.

  7. I've got a Johnny Dangerously situation too - everyone knows except my parents and my brother. The last group of people I came out to was my in-laws. Not because I feared they would think I was a devil worshiper, but because I figured they'd think I was meshugana (Yiddish for crazy - my hubby is Jewish and I had images of being grilled by the various medical professionals in the family)

    There came a point where I decided the hell with it. We were already oddballs of sorts in that family tree. I wasn't going to go around praising Goddess but I wasn't going to hide my wee butterfly pentagram or any of my reading material either. My brother in law, the lawyer, was the first to pick up I was no longer Catholic (made a couple of off-hand comments I responded to) though initially he referred to me as a "witchin" (rhymes with "bitchin'"). My sisters-in-law and nieces came in quick succession. One of my nieces assumes I'm some sort of goth, which is funny as I'd describe my style as more frazzled suburban house frau (jeans and t-shirts) than goth. The various aunts, uncles and cousins whose company I enjoy I just told them matter of factly as part of a conversation.

    The last ones to know were my husband's parents who are very devout Jews (one aunt warned me never to tell dad-in-law as he still hasn't quite gotten over the grief of his only son marrying a shiksa). My mom-in-law picked up on the fact I had stopped saying Shabbat prayers with the family (I raise my glass and eat the challah but just didn't say the words; I hadn't made a big deal of it or even told anyone I was doing it so I was surprised anyone noticed). My husband explained it was because of my new (OK not that new) religious convictions. My mother in law didn't care, she was just happy I wasn't mad at the family or anything like that.

    With my father in law, I finally told him during that whole rapture debacle when he joked during dinner that this was the last Shabbat I'd be seeing him because I'd be raptured soon. I told him I wasn't going to be raptured because it didn't apply to me. He said of course it did since I was Christian. I said, no I actually wasn't anymore so of course he asked "Well what are you then?" The lawyer brother in law took a break from eating his ear of corn to shout "Wiccan". I replied, "Well more Pagan actually." My father in law said "Whatever" and we went back to eating corn. That was the last we spoke about it.

    So I'm guessing that whether I'm Christian or Pagan a shiksa is still a shiksa

  8. I figure, it's mu house, and I will have whatever I please out in the open. I dont feel the need to hide my stuff anymore. I dont go around annoucing it, but if they ask, I am more than happy to answer.

    Granted I dont go into detail, because I dont have that kind of energy to waste, but I do explain, if they want to know.

    However I dont wear my pentagram around my neck out in public, but that crap is going to stop as well. Everyone else is pround to wear their crosses and whatnot around their necks, why should I be any different. I for one can not stand it anymore, being shoved into the stuffy ole' broom closet, for fear of offending someones delicate nature.

    My parents dont ask, and if they do ask, such as the giant broom I have hanging on my wall with my wheel of the year, they usually poke fun, like my family does. Such as, is that your back up ride? LOL no harm no foul. It's all good.

    as for anyone else coming into my home, if it offends them, then I guess they werent true freinds to begin with, were they?


  9. I am definitely out of the broom closet to everyone except with my mom I am more one foot in, one foot out. She knows I am a Pagan--though she gets confused sometimes about what that means--apparently having told her friends I think trees and rocks ARE God. She doesn't know though that I practice the witchly arts. Mainly I haven't broached the subject with her because, as I said, I am still trying to get her to understand what Paganism means and I don't want to confuse things by adding in magic and spell-craft.

  10. Most of my family doesnt know. The ones that do dont seem to understand that there are different kinds of pagans. I started exploring different religions as a child as my immeadiate family didnt have an "official" family religion. My grandmother supplied me with a great deal of information about ancient mythology and ancient cultures. However when my father found out that the books I had were not christian oriented he got very angry and burned them. Even though it wasnt anything harmful. Now, living with the family again. I dont feel like I can openly talk about my religion or have an altar space. The broom closet is a pretty apt description except it feels like Ive been pushed inside and told to stay.

  11. I'm in the broom closet, but the door is open, per se. As soon as I started researching different religions, and soon found Wicca, I began deleting my internet search history because I knew that religion was a very personal thing and I wanted to keep it to myself until I knew what I believed. That was quite a while back and I decided at the beginning of this year anyone asked about my religion was going to get an honest answer out of me. I was going to stop deleting my search history. I've been buying candles and incense around my family and friends, who think I'm a pyromaniac in the making. I've tacked up pictures of nature, of yin and yang, of pagan-y and hippy stuff on my walls. My shrine is not covered up, and my books aren't exactly in the open, but if anyone thought something was up and decided to look through my room they'd find them in a heart beat.
    Still, no one knows because they don't ask. I don't mind. They'll find out soon enough, but for now, my family and friends are in the dark. Blessed Be )O(


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