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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

For as long as I can remember, Witches and Pagans have talked about whether or not they are in the “broom closet,” meaning whether or not they’re out about their religion publicly. Whether to be in or out and who to come out to (if anyone) are huge decisions for many Wiccans and Pagans, or at least they have been historically. Last month something happened to me that made me think long and hard about the broom closet, so I'm abandoning my usual question-and-answer format in this post to ramble a bit about my experience. 

The Broom Closet in the 1980s

When I first started getting into Wicca in the 1980s, we heard stories about people losing their jobs when their employers found out they were Wiccan, Wiccans being disowned by their families because of their religion, and Wiccans losing their children in custody battles against a parent who wasn’t Wiccan. It was considered unwise by many Wiccans to be out of the closet to anyone but close friends and family, and the general notion was even those people had to be chosen carefully.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Linette
    Linette says #
    Was married to an academic for 25 years, they look down on everyone for everything. I think it's the reason that they only talk ab
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Since you are now "out of the closet" (albeit unwillingly) this book might help you with your Christian relatives: http://www.amaz
  • Amber Manuel
    Amber Manuel says #
    I agree that no one should out another or pressure them to come out. I am very new to Wicca and was outed recently by a family mem
  • Thea Sabin
    Thea Sabin says #
    I'm so sorry someone outed you. That's just plain wrong. Have you heard Dar Williams' song "The Christians and the Pagans"? It's t
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    I prefer to call myself a "Goddess feminist" in terms of my spirituality. I don't always offer either of those terms in everyday c
PaganNewsBeagle Fiery Tuesday Nov 11

It's Fiery Tuesday at the PaganNewsBeagle, and today we have stories that reflect on the recent elections; the gap between knowledge and opinion; recent court cases involving religious rights; and a new reaction to climate change news.

Overlooked in the recent Republican gains in last week's election is two opposing issues that won big: voters supported raises in the minimum wage and the legalization of marijuana.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_14_Religions.jpgI only know one person who is an open atheist and I don’t tend to have any opinion when I hear discussions about the existence of god. I’ll confess that I feel somewhat sorry for atheists. I think its kind of sad that they don’t get enough joy and satisfaction out of a religion to justify a bit of faith when needed. Most humans practice religion of some kind. It has been fashionable in the twentieth century to bash religion and declare it one of the major causes of human suffering. My father-in-law was one such. Culturally Jewish, his father fled the Czar when he was found to be a Communist. Harry believed firmly in an afterlife, but he had bad things to say about religion. All while participating in his Jewish community. This might seem a paradox, but it really isn’t. Judaism does not dictate belief, only behavior, and by all means debate away!

I didn’t agree with Harry, although I did agree that there had been religious wars and persecution. Religions must be part of our biology and thus serve us in a survival capacity, otherwise we wouldn’t make so many of them! It comes down to a few simple ideas. Our brains want to create stories about what happens to us. We have a biological need for meaning. (For more on this I recommend the works of Eugene D’Aquili and Andrew Newberg.) What survival need does this serve? It creates hope. Hope allows one to continue in the face of fear, anguish, and physical or emotional pain. Without hope, we are more likely to give up. For our ancestors, giving up would have, more often than not, meant death.

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  • Linette
    Linette says #
    I enjoy this article. Lately I've been musing over similar things. I know that two things I especially value and appreciate in my

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Thunderstruck in Reykjavik

The way I heard it, back in 1972 the heathens of Iceland petitioned the Althing—Parliament—for federal recognition. The official state church in Iceland is the Lutheran church, and everyone pays tax dollars to help support it, but there are a few other recognized religious organizations that you can designate to receive your money instead. The heathens, very reasonably, asked to be included on the list.

Parliament thought it was a joke. (Hey, it was 1972.) “Odin? Thor? Come on, this can't be serious. Recognition denied. Jeez.”

That night (almost I want to add: of course) the Parliament building is struck by lightning. Lights go out all over Reykjavik. (I should add that thunderstorms are rare in Iceland.)

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Resting in the Dark

We humans have a deep, innate fear of the dark. We tend to feel more comfortable in the bright light of day that transparently reveals that which is around us, allowing us to assess and respond to people, situations, and things. There is something about the dark which adds the element of the ominous or disturbing. A screen door banging open repeatedly in daylight is a bother, needing to be closed tight lest the bugs get into the house. A screen door banging open repeatedly in the dead of night can leave us with our hearts banging out the same rhythm in our throats, tentatively tiptoeing towards it and taking deep, relieved breaths once it is safely closed and locked.

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  • kimberlie turnage
    kimberlie turnage says #
    Yes,I totally agree.Blessed Be.
  • Tiffany Lazic
    Tiffany Lazic says #
    Hi, Kimberlie ~ Yes, we have come a long way from the 'guilt and fear' tactics of generations gone by. They were operating from th
  • kimberlie turnage
    kimberlie turnage says #
    I stopped being afraid of the dark when I was eight.My grandmother used to tell my brother&I"If you curse,the boogerman will get y
  • kimberlie turnage
    kimberlie turnage says #
    I love Samhsain and I love this time of year.I love all changes of seasons but am Autumn Fall&Winter Soltace are my favorite.Bless

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Samhain on the Island

I always start my New Year’s celebration the same way: dressing up in costume to go trick-or-treating with my kids. Samhain has long been, for me, the end of the old year and the beginning of a new, fresh year ahead. And where I live on rural and wind-swept Martha’s Vineyard Island, it’s a wild and wonderful celebration complete with costumes, children, candy, and lights. But even more than the conventional trick-or-treat evening, it’s a magical time when the small village of Vineyard Haven becomes a sanctuary where the inner child can play, explore, and celebrate.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_800px-Oysters_p1040747.jpgI’ve written a bit about land based Permaculture, a food production system that works with Nature instead of against her, and produces a great deal more food per acre than industrial farming. Powerful as this system is, it can only take advantage of part of our planet. Now it seems there are those who are innovating similar techniques in the oceans.

Brenn Smith runs Thimble Island Oyster Company. This is not industrial aquaculture with its unhealthy and badly fed fish. Brenn grows seaweed, scallops and mussels, oysters, and clams using a system he calls 3D ocean farming. The seaweed, mussels and scallops he grows on lines strung under water, while below on the sea bed are oysters and clams. Such farming creates a thriving ecosystems as native species are attracted to the farm because the farm acts as an artificial reef and storm surge barrier. Smith reports more than 150 different species in what was once a barren sea bottom. And it is highly productive. He produces more food on 20 acres of ocean using this system than he used to get from 100 acres.

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  • Soli
    Soli says #
    He's local to me! I've heard about their "CSA" and if I felt safe shucking oysters I'd sign up in a minute.

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