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General Blog Description: Exploring Southern Hemisphere neo-pagan practice and culture from the point of view of a progressive witch living south of Perth, Western Australia.

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Stage fright, writer's fear, and the broom closet

If I could write for an empty room, a totally empty audience, I would be incredibly prolific. 


I guess it's stage fright. I want to write, I really do! I love writing. And the topic I love to write about the most is witchcraft.


I am very verbose, and this is a little similar in real life. If you give me an opening I can talk for hours, unless I consciously moderate myself so that my long-ass spiels only last for a few minutes or at least until I sense the mind of my audience begin to wander. 


When I first started up my blog over at The Chaos Witch, I wrote a great deal. I found it so easy to speak of my craft, as I was fairly sure no one would read my writing, and indeed, in the beginning, no one was. Even still today a few years later, I have a very small audience for my blog, but it is large enough now that I get regular comments and I have some friends who read regularly and share my posts when they are good. So I've become hesitant. Every time I write there is a tiny spotlight on me, one that wasn't there before, and it stops me from really letting loose at times. I fear the ping backs when they arrive. Who will take me to task on what I have written, what if I accidentally tap into some drama? What if someone calls me out for being politically incorrect, or just plain wrong? What if someone just chooses to be snarky for no reason at all, which is incredibly rude but seems to happen more and more often? I write long posts in my draft inbox and then promptly delete them. I write very little for my blog here at PaganSquare, even though I am so incredibly honoured to contribute to this space considering whom I share it with, but I seem to hold back, wary of the large audience that PaganSquare potentially has, worried someone will notice me, and something will go terribly wrong. So the posts become less controversial. I write about elements and gardening and parts of my practice that would bore me to tears if I was reading about it on someone else's blog. I don't write about my controversial ideas, I scale down my political leanings, I don't post about spells or rituals details very often if at all, and I don't comment at all on community drama if I can help it. This is quite different to how I used to write. But now not only do I fear what strangers think of my work, but I worry about my views and practices, and the method in which I share them, jarring those I know and that knowledge changing our relationship. I've put 'To Keep Silent" in front of "To Dare", the cart before the horse. Perhaps people will respect me more if I am moderate and correct and secretive. Ugh. I'm not getting much out of that equation, and neither is anyone else. 


This is amplified by a little shake of the broom closet concept. I don't have a craft name or a pen name so I am who I am. I still flinch slightly when I discover someone in my life who I have not previously shared my spirituality with reads my work, or saw a particularly witchy artwork, or saw a post of one of my altars on Instagram. I tested the waters of having two profiles on Facebook only to deactivate the second profile as I was being to see double and I was tired of the subterfuge. I recently posted a video on Youtube, and I deliberately disengaged synchronisation to my social media so the ping wouldn't hit a larger audience found on Facebook and Twitter. A real life friend stumbling on a video of me talking about witchcraft is a little too freaky an idea for me. So I still uploaded it, but I reduced the chances of people seeing it. I want to interact with people, I want to share my stories and my ideas, I want to reach out - but not too much. I give a little, then shrink back... give, then shrink back. I don't want to be known for the 'weird witchy stuff' that I do amongst my 'muggle' friends and family but at the same time I really want to share with my community. I don't want to hide who I am, but I also don't want to spread myself all about the place in the name of fame or infamy. I worry about the implications if it became well known in my workplace that I considered myself a witch and I did spells and had rituals with a coven. It's just not the sort of thing that fits in with day to day conversation around the work room. I've seen examples of how it has gone awry for friends who refused to set up walls, masks and boundaries in their life. I know people who have lost their jobs and been thrown into agonising battles with co-workers and in-laws. I want to let it all spill over, but I don't want it to be a big deal either. And the only thing to make it less of a big deal is to just do it and set an example, be the change, and bear the brunt of 'the worst' which might not be so bad any way.


But do I really want to normalise what I do? Witchcraft is strange, it is different. It's exciting and borderline and scary and fun. Perhaps it is delusion or some might see it as madness. But I'm not going to stop. It's part of the core of who I am. Moderating it is nothing less than moderating my very self. To downplay the word 'witch' is a futile attempt - we've all seen that. We are the radicals, the misfits, the dreamers and the believers. We just don't fit in. So why try?


So, yeah. That's why it might seem like I don't post enough or I post very little. I heavily self-moderate. An odd sort of writers block, or stage fright. My inclination is to let it all hang loose just a bit more and throw caution to the wind. I would love to hear if other writers or creators feel the same if they separate their personas - are you concerned at all by your friends, family, acquaintances or work colleagues finding out about your 'other' life? How have you learned to deal with it? 


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Lee is an artist and witch hailing from Western Australia. Her practice is one woven from both an intiatory eclectic Wiccan circle and a rigorous solitary practice that is heavily coloured with chaos magic and probably too many unicorns. Sarcasm, dry wit and Happy Squirrels are par for the course.


  • Rick
    Rick Tuesday, 24 March 2015

    1. Be politically incorrect. It is fun. Just being a witch is politically incorrect.
    2. How will you know you are wrong if you don't have friends who will point it out to you?

    Living two lives is a pain in the ass. There is no cross-over between my religious life and my business life - two completely different sets of friends. There was little cross-over between my business life and my political life. I gave up my political life (which included three elective positions and two appointed ones) over a decade ago because frankly, politics is like war except you can't kill your enemies. But you can discredit them, and being a witch would kill any political career in most areas of my country (and I suspect yours too!)

    So at this point ion my life, I just refuse to try again for political office - it is one of the things I knew I would have to give up when I put the first foot out of the closet. Unfortunately, this probably also applies to taking leadership roles in political causes outside of the Pagan bubble. You may end up hurting your cause more than helping it. And remember, not all pagans are on the same side of the political spectrum as you are. Here, the Pagans on the East side of the state are very Libertarian while the west side are very Fiscally Progressive Democrat. We don't make good political bedfellows.

    Religion and business is also fraught with danger. For me, I keep a lower profile than I want to because I rely on investors and they tend to be quite the conservative bunch. Yet, I use my craft in a way that makes them money - they just don't know that it is spell work. So I use my real name for work and a craft name for my public postings. It would not be hard for someone to make the connection if they looked for it. Facebook is the biggest risk, as you can't use a pseudonym unless Facebook thinks it is a real name. How stupid. Anyway, my Facebook page contains a mixture of both. But then, because we are herbalists of a sort, that is easily explained. I also limit what can be seen and by whom there.

    How you might be viewed in your career/job/whatever, I wouldn't know because I don't know what you do. Whoever you are already out of the closet with both feet. You have used your own name, your own image and have been very open about your practice. It is probably too late for you to keep your practice separate from your work life. Eventually your walls (which are really just thin veils are going to be breached (mine will be too) and then you need to be prepared. There is no sense trying to close the barn door when the horse has already escaped.

  • Lee Pike
    Lee Pike Sunday, 29 March 2015

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment Rick. You make some very good points. The horse has indeed bolted on this one and now that I am in my 30s I crave living as authentically as possible, with a foot, in a realistic way, in both worlds.

    My job is in principle very accepting of different beliefs but as it is a customer service focused role there is the potential for uncomfortable conversations with a more conservative older generation that I feel are best avoided for ease of everyone involved (so for example, I avoid wearing a pentagram in public or reveal my religion when it comes up in conversation - which is surprisingly does quite often). As for my friends and family, I might as well be more up front, as I have made tentative steps to do so. Here goes!

  • Rick
    Rick Sunday, 29 March 2015

    Instead of a pentagram, maybe you could find something that identifies you to others like us - if you want.

    You could wear a moonstone pendant or a triquetra (which you could say represents the three phases of a woman's life to someone not in the craft). I wear a ring with triquetras on it. Anyone asks, I say it is an Irish love knot.

    We have this tidbit in our Seeker Book:

    What if you decide to go public? First, you need to consider the consequences. Start with your family; it is only fair that they hear it from you. Sometimes this takes a little finesse. The scenario of a teenage girl confessing to her Southern Baptist Minister father that she is a Witch usually won’t end well! Buckland has the following advice: “the best way is through education.”
    Start by laying the groundwork. Wait for the right moment and then lead the conversation into the topic generally. Find out what they know, what their perceptions are. Once you have a good idea what they know, take the opportunity to explain what you think Paganism really is. The key is to not come across too authoritative, and definitely when they ask why you know so much, do not reply “Because I am a Witch!” Tell them you have been curious and have started looking at the topic. You might say “I read this book. I’d like you to read it and tell me what you think.”
    You will of course, have to be prepared to explain why traditional religions don’t work for you. Try to do it in a way that doesn’t bash other people’s belief systems. Maybe say something like: “I want to know more about my own spirituality, and I don’t think I can get there by that route.”
    If the other person’s mind is closed, it is closed. If they won’t even investigate your interests to see them for what they really are, there is not much more to be said. But if they do, continue to discuss the matter. Then pick the right moment to reveal that you are indeed, a Pagan. It takes some tact, but you should never put yourself in the position of defending your views. Be like Socrates, always ask the questions.

  • Carla
    Carla Thursday, 30 July 2015

    Thanks Lee and Rick for your very insightful observations. My beliefs are not a problem in my workplace or for my family, although it is a challenge in my relationship with my life-partner, a Christian. He met me when I was completely "out" as a Pagan, boldly wearing my Pentagram, etc. but has never come to the point of accepting that I believe a bunch of things he feels I'll be sent straight to hell for... So it's the elephant in the room we never talk about as it's the only divisive thing in our relationship, albeit a very fundamental one for both of us.... Fortunately I'm a light Dark and he's a dark Light (enjoys heavy metal, gothic stuff, etc. so not a very stereotypical Christian). But regardless of the fact that he doesn't go to church and I don't practice, this is an issue that bubbles under the surface and one I'd very much like to get beyond so that neither of us feels threatened or divided by each other's beliefs. Any thoughts?

  • Rick
    Rick Friday, 31 July 2015

    Okay, so he knows, but doesn't accept. Is he one of "the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ" types, or will he accept that there are other paths? Does he equate your beliefs with worshiping the devil? I would start by examining his assumptions, the devising a strategy to educate him.

  • Carla
    Carla Friday, 31 July 2015

    Yup, the "salvation is only through Christ" kind. He does accept that other people have other paths but is of the opinion they're the "wrong" paths. He does equate what I believe with devil-worship and feels that even "experimenting" with things like tarot, mediumship etc. opens one to demonic oppression/possession, etc.
    Fortunately I am able to understand his standpoint as I come from a Christian background myself and I'm not unfamiliar with their views and the basis for their perspectives on certain things. Thanks so much for responding and for your insights - I think we'll get there in the end :-)

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