A discussion on a facebook page prompted me down this line of thought. Another author mentioned not being at all public about their paganism, wanting to hold that as private self. Fair enough, thinks I. I felt, perhaps just being paranoid, that there was a critique in it though, as though being overtly pagan was not perhaps the best way to go. Now, as someone who writes books very specifically about paganism, that would be career suicide, for a start.
I knew I was pagan by the time I reached my teens – my parents were trending that way, so it was no big deal. Back then, it wasn’t as safe being out and discrimination was legal, and there was a lot of fear, but I was young, optimistic and that’s probably as well. I made the decision to be openly, and visibly ‘out’.
I’ve never been in the habit of going round announcing my paganism (okay, the books on the table are a giveaway). If asked, I’ll say, and I will wear indicative things. I’ll also comment if I see a symbol around someone else’s neck. That resulted in a lovely chat with a girl at a Steampunk thing, who was wearing an ogham symbol given to her by a friend, and didn’t know what it was, but she felt drawn to Druidry, it turned out, and I was able to ply her with useful information.
There have been times when mentioning what I am seemed like a way of adding to the glamour. Anyone who has met me in person will know that I am not glamorous by any measure. I’m a scruffy, chaotic woman, too large, too solid, to much a creature of earth to be appealing in that way. But, if you’re writing a press release, pagan still seems a bit glamorous, and people latch on and pay attention. It doesn’t matter how good the message is if no one hears it, and I’ll use what I’ve got. Pagans are still a bit of a novelty, still curiosities, and when you’re media whoring (yes, I do that a bit), every little helps. Not that I would dress up to appeal to tabloid expectations or do anything out of character, that’s self defeating, all other issues aside.
I’m conscious that I do rather like the idea of people thinking maybe I have some secret, magical life, access to wisdom, marvellous insights. Really, I’d like those things, but I won’t fake their existence. My inner child still likes to pretend and imagine, and if people are too lazy to ask, is it so awful to have them think better of me than I deserve? (This is a rhetorical question, spare me the answers, its been a tiring weekend J ) The desire to seem interesting to other humans does not seem like a dreadful one to me, especially if you can back the surface up with some kind of substance.
I wear my druidry on my arm. Really. There’s an awen tattoo, although I don’t bare it very often. I feel more comfortable being out. I have no interest in converting anyone, but it means anyone who wants to come to me, to question, explore, challenge, argue, can do so. The odd thing is, I’ve had very little negative feedback for doing that, and some fabulous discussions with people from other faiths. I like that a lot.
To anyone who is happier being private, I would say, good for you, do what works, do that which is comfortable, productive and makes your life viable.
I’m not afraid of being judged for who I am, all things considered, I’d rather be judged for who I am than who people imagine me to be, but I do not have much control over that one.