A few months ago The Wild Hunt shared an interview with a Pagan from Turkey, whose name obviously had to be changed for his or her own safety. While most of us Pagans in the US won’t have to face that level of fear, we still are not the norm or default in our society, and in many places have no-where near the acceptance that more “mainstream” religions have. When someone asks if I am“religious”, it’s often easier to respond with a lie than the truth, if only because it is less time-consuming than having to explain what Paganism is! I have a personal policy of never lying about my religion, which I recognize is a privilege of living in America. But I have bent the truth, many, many times. Each time I felt shame afterwards, and debated within myself whether it was truly necessary, or if I just did it because it was easier. My personal situation is complicated by the fact that I have an anxiety disorder, and so my lizard brain can sometimes perceive danger when in fact there is none.
Once, I was reading a Bibliotheca Alexandria devotional at the laundry mat. Someone asked me what I was reading, and I said it was a book about Greek mythology. Not a lie, it was sort of true. But clearly, not the whole truth at all. I considered being a little more forthright and engaging this person in a discussion about Paganism and opening her world a little, but decided against it. Not 10 minutes before, she had been talking to someone about a local gay man who had been jumped and beaten. He was not hurt severely, but I knew him, at least peripherally, and the incident had of course upset me to a great degree. The other people she had been talking to had said he probably deserved it for “running his mouth”, whatever the hell that means. And she had laughed. She had agreed! How could I have honestly engaged with this person? I had heard the hateful crap she had been been saying about gay people just a few moments before. What were the chances she’d be more open-minded about Pagans? Lately, I think about this incident a lot when I have to make a decision that outs me, or not. Its a balancing act between wanting to educate and be proud of my Gods and my path, and wanting to live a life of peace and safety. Admittedly my safety is usually not in danger, but peace can be. Things are getting better, but this is still the Bible Belt. I play my cards close to the vest for a while