Posted by: Sabrina | January 14, 2009

Anxiety Down, Happiness Up

When I met with L. a couple weeks ago, I told her I feared I might lose my job if anyone I work with found out that I have become a pagan.  At first, the likelihood of this was not very great—I was quite comfortable as a solitary practitioner for awhile.  But more recently, I have developed a desire to get out and meet other pagans and hopefully find a teacher or group with whom I can gain more practical ritual/worship experience.  The more I wanted this, the more anxious I became about my job—word of who-saw-whom-where-doing-what gets around in the most unlikely ways in circles I move and live in.

 

But my need to move forward outweighed my anxiety about my job, so I started taking some baby steps out of the closet a few months ago, and then last week, I attended my first full-fledged, call-it-what-it-is pagan event.  And I’m happy to report I’m still employed and the sky hasn’t fallen. J

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Responses

  1. Good for you.

  2. Naufragiobella-
    Thanks for stopping by and for your support. Now to keep the momentum going . . .
    -Sabrina

  3. Congratulations–I hope it was a rewarding experience!

    Depending on the region where you live, of course, being “outed” as Pagan can be more or less controversial. And it’s true that I live in a fairly liberal part of the country.

    Still, I would say that the risks of being found out to be a Pagan are actually not terribly great. Notice I said, “found out”–as in, when the first thing people notice about you is about a pound and a half of black eye makeup and a pentacle the size of a hood ornament around your chest, or when most conversations with your peers at work contain references to rituals or spells… well, that tends to go over poorly!

    But when we are known as ourselves first, and our religious affiliations become known gradually and naturally, it’s much less of an issue. At least, in my experience. In fact, I think the ideal “coming out” as a Pagan happens when someone asks a question about it in front of coworkers, and (in a tone of suitable nonchalance), I’m able to say something like, “Oh, yes, yes. I am. So, did you see Bush’s speech on television last night?”

    (That said, if you’d like to read the account of how, since I became a teacher five years ago, I have found it a bit harder and been a little less graceful, you might be interested to read my post from a couple years’ back, The W Word at my own blog.)

    Blessings. :-)

  4. Cat-
    Thanks for your heartening comments. I am indeed trying to share the “new me” gradually with my co-workers, and I don’t envision there will ever come a time when I make a public pronouncement at work that I am now practicing paganism. But, since I teach in a Catholic school, the subjects of spirituality and religious practice do come up quite frequently, so I am trying to figure out how, if a question arises, to convey that my spirituality is no longer Catholic, but I’m still the same fine upstanding person they all know me to be.

    Thanks for pointing me to your post, “The W Word.” It was fascinating to read!

  5. Hm, that’s a toughie when you are employed at a Catholic School. I know that in the UK often teachers at Catholic schools HAVE to be practising Catholics, and so if you are any other faith you would be fired.

    What is the policy at your school?

    I think it sounds more tricky in your case than say if you just worked in an office.

    I fully understand the need to be honest with those around you as your commitment grows to your path. I found the same thing.

    I came out to my mother last year – she is Catholic and an oblate to boot. She probably thinks I’m heading for hell, but she has been accepting/tolerant of my path and just keeps telling me to “be careful”.

    Have you come out to friends and family?

  6. Hi Seshat–
    I was hired there so many years ago that I really can’t recall whether the subject of my faith ever came up in an interview, although I think it was obvious from my references and work history that I was a practicing Catholic at that time. The wording of my contract is somewhat vague–something about being a model of Catholic living. Now, in my mind, I can do that in the same way I can model scientific thinking as a science teacher, use of proper grammar as an English teacher, or understanding of my rights and responsibilities as U.S. citizen according to the Constitution as a teacher of social studies. (And were I to teach at one of the local non-Catholic religious schools, I feel I could uphold the teachings there just as well.) The question is, would my employer see it the same way? If I just ventured into another branch of Christianity, I don’t think there would be a huge problem, but paganism is a bit of a leap, don’t you think?

    I’m not one, as Cat Chapin-Bishop amusingly described in another comment here, to wear large amounts of dark eye makeup and obvious ornamentation that screams “I’m a witch!” At the same time, I’m not sure that even wearing something subtle (“tasteful” earrings or a pendant that might invite a comment) is safe for me right now if I want to keep pulling down a paycheck.

    But really, I’m not complaining. I understand that I am responsible for my own actions or even inactions, and in the end I’m answerable to nobody but myself. So I’m doing what works for me and blogging about it so that if there are other people out there in the same set of circumstances as I am, they will be able to read about my experiences and feel at the very least that they are not alone.

    BTW, I did read your post last year about coming out to your mother–I absolutely loved it! Funny thing is, I felt almost as if I had one foot in each of your shoes–I am not out to all of my family, just a few who I believed would be supportive, so I still think about how to break it to the rest of them. I go back and re-read your post occasionally to sort of fortify myself for the eventuallity. :-) At the same time, I am the mother of three grown children I love a lot and worry about as most mothers do, so I can understand your mother’s reaction to your revelation. I do appreciate your sharing your experience!

  7. Oh, I never got the sense that you were complaining at all – and I think it is important for pagans to talk about everyday trials and tribulations alongside the esoteric so people see that we are ordinary people doing ordinary jobs. Unfortunately a lot of people think of pagans as drop-outs without a decent job or the ability to live constructively amongst “normal” [ahem!] people.

    I doubt that your school would see it from your point of view, that you could uphold the tenets of Catholic living without being Catholic – unless they are very liberal Catholics…

    I am still circumspect around the monks and nuns I know from my childhood – more because I know it would hurt them to know. I don’t need to rub my faith in other people’s faces when it won’t facilitate communication and connection; but some people you want to tell and you have to take the risk.

    I’m not exactly Lady Goth-Witch, but people are always surprised when I say that I am a technical translator… “Oh, I thought you’d be a crystal healer or something.” Right. Hm. LOL

  8. Hiya,

    I’m in the same position as you too, apart from that one lady lunchtime supervisor that I spoke about in my post. Unless others have noticed my necklace, nobody else knows. And I’m in no rush to tell them! But I do think that Cat Chapin-Bishop has the right idea – just let it drop in naturally at some point, and hopefully people would’ve realised what a nice person you are before they label you as anything.

    Do keep us posted as to how it goes! x

  9. Seshat-
    You’re absolutely right that communication and connection are the keys. Although no longer Catholic, I can still find wisdom in the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi–the line that says, in effect, that understanding others is just as important as making myself understood, so I’m not about to mess up the many wonderful relationships I have with my co-workers by rushing the revelation of my evolving spirituality.

    One of the things I find most refreshing about paganism is that evangelizing/proselytizing is more or less taboo, so I’ve no need to “share the good news” in an overt way. Anyone who’s really interested and open-minded will eventually figure out on their own where I’m headed spiritually, and I have no desire to, as you say, hurt the ones who would be saddened by it, so discretion seems to me to be the better part of valor with those who would be burdened by worry over what they perceive would be the eventual disposition of my soul.

  10. Hi Haley–
    Yes, it does seem that labels are usually where the trouble lies. As one who has, in the past, taught religion classes in a Catholic school, I am somewhat chagrined to admit that I presented pagans in a rather negative light to my students–nothing inflammatory, mind you, but just along the lines of what is so much a part of the mainstream–that pagans were simplistic and cultish, whereas Chritianity is somehow more civilized. Now, having the shoe on the other foot, I like to think I am more careful to be respectful of a wide range of spiritual beliefs and practices, as long as the practice helps the practitioner to be a well-adjusted, functional human being.

    Good to hear from you Haley–I’ll be adding you to my blogroll, if that’s okay!

  11. I would be most honoured if you did =D. You’re already on mine anyway, lol.


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