Lately I’ve been thinking about my public identity, and how “out” I am as a pagan. I initially wrote under a pseudonym because I wasn’t too open with my paganism. When that changed, I kept the pseudonym because my chosen career path benefited from me not being known as a guy who write pagan and magic themes essays and blogs and stuff. I’ve recently begun considering a creative move that would expose me more publicly, which has many considerations, not the least of which might involve plastering my visage across the internets. (I’ve done a tarot spread on it, and now doesn’t look like a good time. Maybe in a month or two.)
Since I’ve started writing on metaphysics (Seven years ago? Where does the time go? Into the hypersphere, I guess.) I have lived in three different cities. The Kansas City area actually has a pretty good pagan community, and while there are some fairly conservative areas, it is large enough that there is just enough diversity that it isn’t too bad. Lawrence is a great town, and very cosmopolitan(because of the University, as well as the snooty hipster townies that hate the University whilst feeding off the culture it fosters), and being pagan wasn’t an issue there. My time in Manhattan was relatively short and isolated: the small pagan community was very welcoming, and I didn’t really have to deal with the rest of the town much. In short, I was pretty safe being out as pagan because 1) I was pretty sheltered in terms of who I interacted with, and 2) I’m open with my religion, but I’m not pushy about it. (Did that sound snotty? What I mean is that I won’t hide the fact that I’m pagan but I don’t advertise it, and I’m not a person who does Pagan Pride or activist stuff. So if it doesn’t come up, then people assume I’m Christian, and I don’t care enough to correct them.)
So really I have been sheltering myself, but I’m pondering changing that. I’m becoming more involved in the local community, and I’m contemplating a video career. I may be known. I may be recognized.
Jason at the Wild Hunt has more on this. This is several days old now, so there may be some new updates, but the way it goes is that a pagan author of pagan children’s books has received threatening phone calls, and some asshole shot at her house.
It is important to note that she has stated she does not regret her decision to be out as pagan.
Now I don’t know the history here. I don’t know what the community she lives in is like, or who may have a dispute with her for whatever reason. This may be a case of crazy person hates witches, but it is at least a more complicated case of crazy person hates witches than I know about. And I also want to be clear that I am not making an argument for staying in the pagan closet, nor am I holding this up as a shining example for bravely stepping out of said closet. Am I’m not worried that someone will come by my house and shoot at it if I put my face to a video.
What I am pointing out is that real persecution does exist for modern pagans in the US (duh), and that while I have faced few instances of it to date, by becoming more open and public with my identity, my experience of that will increase. This is real and dangerous persecution, not the plight of the witcheypoo who got teased in high school for wearing a nine inch pentacle. I’ve read the hateful crap YouTube commenters leave, and I’ve heard stories of political bloggers getting death threats and losing their jobs from harassment (Google “swatting”). It’s not too common, but common enough that I’m not sure how much I want to deal with it.
But then again, this is who I am. I am outspoken, opinionated, tenacious, stubborn, arrogant, and argumentative (Shorter: I’m a Scorpio). And I happen to be pagan and a writer.
This does not bode well. Time to buff the defensive servitor.
Oh, and be sure to offer Kyjra Withers wishes of wellness and words of support and encouragement. Buy some of her books if you can. While we still may not be sure what “pagan” means, we almost always agree that when someone who claims the label needs help, we will rally.