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Posts Tagged ‘broom closet’

It’s an expression I don’t really like, as it’s a bit twee for my tastes, and I don’t want to co-opt the QUILTBAG community’s term for living in secret (because I think that’s kind of shitty).

But it’s also the best term I have for the life I’m living as a Druid and a Neopagan, and there are definitely some similarities (in some places in the US) to being openly Neopagan, especially if you work with children.

My family is extremely Christian. My inlaws are extremely Christian. My mother-in-law is on record as saying that not being Christian is valid grounds for divorce, and though I have repeatedly explained that I can not and will not return to church, every time they visit, they go church shopping for us, and invite us to go. (I decline, but my husband usually goes).

My workplace, while fairly openminded and diverse, is probably not ready to have a Neopagan Druid in their midst (even if there are Hindu and Muslim people in the office in large numbers). I’d like to think I could explain it well enough now that I could have an intelligent discussion or three with various people, but I know my extremely Catholic coworker would be weirded out, and that I’d be a topic of inter-office gossip, at least among the other people in my position.

I live in Texas. I went to a Southern Baptist university, and have spent the majority of my life bouncing between dominations – from American Baptist to United Methodist to “converting” to Catholicism in college. I never settled in anywhere, and my break with the Catholic church was ugly, to state things mildly. I can talk the talk though – I’ve taken theology and Christian history classes, attended chapel my whole university career, and seriously studied the Bible for years.

I use that knowledge to “pass” as vaguely Christian, or at least “historically” Christian. I send out Christmas cards (that never actually say Christmas on them, and that are always nature related, and where I never mention Jesus). I go to church with my family on Easter when I can’t get out of it, because I can grit my teeth for an hour to make my mother happy.

I’m fairly conflicted about it, really. I don’t like lying, and my spirituality is becoming a bigger and bigger force in my life. It’s fairly easy to hide in a bedroom for now, but the book collection from ADF studies is growing steadily. I’m leading a study group where I’ll be meeting other Pagans, and taking on that responsibility inevitably means meeting other people. I don’t have a pagan name, which is typical for ADF, but sometimes I wish I used one for things like this. (Also, someone else outed me on the blog with my real name in the comments, which I was trying to avoid. Apparently not everyone gives two shits about people’s privacy online.)

So my general way of answering questions is to deflect. If you ask me straight up “Are you a Christian”, I will say no. But most other questions can be deflected. I can talk about ethics and values, can talk about Christian theology and history, I can talk about world religions and meditation and general spirituality. As a theist (although a polytheist), I can talk about the nature of Gods and the like. I have a World Tree and a Globe on my desk at work, and a calendar of nature and meditative sayings, plus an Old Farmer’s Almanac daily calendar. I surround myself with clues that someone who knows what to look for will see, but I don’t choose to actually talk about what any of it means.

Eventually, this will be problematic. If my husband and I have children, I suspect I will approach going to the Unitarian Universalist church for that, since it makes a lot of sense for children in my area to have a church they go to. But my family will want to know if I’m raising them Christian (or more specifically, from my inlaws, why I’m not raising them United Methodist), and will want to teach them all about Jesus. My grandfather will want to dedicate the child to Christ. My husband is fairly agnostic, but I don’t know if he would be okay with me raising Neopagan children.

Also, the farther I go in ADF, the more likely it is that my real name will become associated with the organization, either through publication or through working towards clergy certification. ADF is very clear that they are looking to create a *public* tradition of Neopagan Druidry, and a lot of members don’t have a lot of patience (or thought) for people trying to remain under the radar.

In short, this is a subject that fills me with a lot of mental indecision. There are benefits to just being open about things (though there are a lot of places where it’s none of anyone’s business, like work), but I face the possibility of real rejection from my family over it. As the oldest child, I’m expected to lead by example (something I’ve not done very well on this front, as my little brother and his wife are 3x a week churchgoers and host Bible study and Life Group at their house). I don’t face rejection well, and I still struggle a lot with “disappointing” my family. I’ve dropped hints on things like facebook that I no longer buy into a mainstream monotheist mindset, and gotten a lot of “oh well Jesus is okay with that” responses, because they’re not willing to see the change.

So for now, I stay in the “Broom Closet” (If you’re a Druid, is it a “Tree closet”?). I’ll cross those other bridges when I come to them.

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Thanksgiving is one of the biggest meals I prepare every year, and this year is no exception. Members of my family and my husband’s family will be joining us during the week and over the weekend, and we’ll all be pitching in to create a holiday meal. Since this takes place in my kitchen, I do a lot of the work, and most of the prep, for feeding that many people.

At this point I should mention that both my family and my husband’s family are very devoutly Christian. I’m the only truly non-Christian in the bunch, though my husband is mostly non-religious at this point. I’m not open about my Paganism to my family, and I don’t intend to change that.

I also usually don’t get asked to say grace, both because I’ve been resistant to publicly praying aloud since I was about 8 and because I am usually the one who cooked, so it’s weird to thank myself for my hard work.

This usually means standing by and listening to a very explicitly Christian prayer before the meal, delivered usually by one of the dads, while I say my own prayer in my head. This arrangement isn’t too bad, as I’m not hostile to my family, and I know how much their faith means to them. Still, I sometimes wonder if I couldn’t put together a grace that made both them AND me happy.

I did some digging around on the internet and found a number of resources, but most of the non-Christian prayers were pretty explicitly non-Christian, which isn’t going to work in this case. I did, however, find a few things that I think could work.

First, there are a whole list of possible, short prayers in this post by the Offbeat Mama. For an everyday blessing before a meal in a family of blended religions, there are a lot of good options here (especially check out the comments!)

Second, and my favorite for a formal Thanksgiving prayer, are these from Secular Seasons. I think I’d make a few changes, but this is what I have so far, based on the humanist grace from Secular Seasons:

For this meal we are about to eat, let us be truly thankful
for the blessings of sun and wind and rain, that grow the fruits of the Earth

Let us be truly thankful
for those who planted the crops
for those who cultivated the fields
for those who gathered the harvest

Let us be truly thankful
for those who prepared this food and those who served it.

In this time of plenty let us remember too
those who have no festivity
those who cannot share this plenty
those whose lives are more troubled than our own
and all those who are hungry, sick or cold

As we share in this meal, let us be truly thankful
for all the good things we have
for warm hospitality, loving family, and good company.

Our thoughts go out to family and friends who are not here with us;
We hope that they are safe and well.

May this bountiful meal strengthen our bodies, our minds, and our ties to each other. Amen.

It’s far from perfect, but I think it could work in a pinch. I added in some things to make it fit the kinds of things that usually get said around our Thanksgiving table, as well as adding in a bit about thanking the Earth. If I could say any grace I wanted, I’d say a much more polytheistic grace, but I’d rather avoid having a confrontation with my family at Thanksgiving. I could still get questions about not including Jesus in my prayer, but I think this will be poetic and pretty enough to not prompt too many comments.

I’m going to keep tinkering with it and print off a copy for me to keep in my pocket, in case I get asked to say grace. Always better to be prepared!

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So I’m an in-the-broom-closet pagan, and I don’t think that’s going to change. My family is loving and kind, but extremely Christian, I don’t want to end up as an abassador for neo-pagandom, and I don’t feel like discussing my religion at work.

However, if I’m going to be a Druid, I wouldn’t really be in the broom closet.

Instead, I shall be a Secret Agent Druid.

I shall practice rogue acts of secretive and subversive Druidry.

Like leaving offerings in a local park, or meditating next to the bayou (and hoping I don’t find an alligator). Or picking up some trash. Or doing the Two Powers meditation when I’m feeling low on energy at work. My work also has a “Green Team”, which I will join as soon as I figure out how. Secret Agent Druid in the Office!

I’ve already stepped up my offerings to the land spirits in my yard – they got some of the homemade venison chili I made last night. I don’t know if land spirits like chili, but it was gone this morning, so I figure they didn’t reject it! I also have an altar in my house, but it looks like a collection of pretty candles and bowls, with an incense burner, so it’s not really that suspicious unless you know what you’re looking for.

I suppose I could call it “Random Acts of Druidry”, but Secret Agent Druid sounds cooler, so I’m going to stick with that.

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