A Witch by any other name

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SPOT Jersey Pride SD 10

Out of the Broom Closet:

Here we are. Spring is upon us and many of us haven’t a coherent identity to wear. Yes, we all contain multitudes, and there’s generally a difference between public and private life (though years of reality television have certainly skewed that relationship). That being said, fascinating creatures that we are, we often find ourselves in social situations where a need arises to give some testimony, some succinct accounting of some scintillating facet of the wonder that is you.

It is here, gentle reader, where the subjects of etiquette and the fine art of conversation intrude, not as an imposition of some quaint and archaic mode of existence upon modern times, but as a way to spit it out, loudly and proudly, without scaring off your audience (or boring them into scanning the party for imaginary friends to rescue them from you). A common mistake when speaking to a potential new acquaintance is not understanding they are merely initiating a conversation, rather than conducting an interview. Your answer is not that important; except to move the conversation along. So, the correct answer to the question, “How are you?” is “Fine, thank you,” unless speaking with your doctor. Sharing with a stranger the minutiae of your most recent bout with amoebas will generally turn aside any follow-up questions.

Now, there was a time when any discussion of sexual preference would have the exact same effect (as well as incarceration or worse, depending on location). Thanks to the brave individuals and groups who have, and still do, battle for our full measure of human dignity, that is no longer the case. Admittedly, saying that you are LGBTIQ will stop a conversation short, but it’s fairly easy to parse out the initial that applies to you, and all conversation will not cease. The love that once dared not speak its name now has plenty.
The same is not true when pursuing a “non-traditional” spiritual path. Those of us who do not subscribe to one of the Big Three monotheistic religions or some aspect of Hindu, Buddhist or Taoist principles are often at a loss in social settings giving a succinct response as to the nature of our faith, when asked. While we collectively had come “Out of the Broomcloset” within the same timeframe as the Pride movement, we have generally lagged behind in effectively utilizing identity politics to achieve a commonly recognizable identity, at least as a public face. Our independent paths have led to invisibility in the religious culture war, making it impossible for our perspectives to be heard and have a positive effect, except as individuals. When was the last time you heard about the Church of All Worlds in the media, or the Covenant of the Goddess, to name two umbrella groups?

On the bright side, the media has, in the main, moved past trotting out the Witches every Halloween to cover the same few basic facts over and over (we don’t worship the devil, Earth-based spirituality, God and Goddess, the Rule of Three, etc., etc., etc.). They actually don’t trot us out that often at all.

Which brings us back to those hypothetical conversations mentioned above. I respectively suggest that we all proudly take back the word Witch this year, as Queer has been in the recent past, and wear it proudly as a badge of honor and a simple way to engage in the conversation, big or small in which we should be engaged (even if you are, in fact, a Celtic Reconstructionist or Holistic Celt Buddhi Shaman or an Eclectic Dark Pagan). Trust me, the word Witch has a way of focusing the other person’s attention perfectly, and will allow for whatever clarifications are necessary as the conversation continues. 

Leon CalifioreColumnist Leon Calafiore, a lifelong Wiccan and teacher of occult arts, is Past Master of a New York Masonic Lodge known for the perfection of its ritual. Leon also conducts occult research.

 

Out of the Broom Closet:

Here we are. Spring is upon us and many of us haven’t a coherent identity to wear. Yes, we all contain multitudes, and there’s generally a difference between public and private life (though years of reality television have certainly skewed that relationship). That being said, fascinating creatures that we are, we often find ourselves in social situations where a need arises to give some testimony, some succinct accounting of some scintillating facet of the wonder that is you.