I should first start this post by explaining that I grew up in California. This is a very liberal, progressive, live and let live place...at least that is how I remember it. I have not been there in about fifteen years or so but I can't imagine it has changed in that regard.
When I realized I was one of those witchy people I was more than proud to wear my pentacle in public. I was never afraid of saying the words "I'm a witch." It never occurred to me that I should be afraid to say it. Even when I was in a christian private school for sixth, seventh and eighth grade, I wasn't afraid to say it.
Fast forward many years later and I wound up moving to Oklahoma with my husband and son. A nice enough place, but full of fundamentalists and I had the lovely misfortune of meeting a few of them early on. Funny enough, what some of them had a problem with was the miraculous medal of the virgin Mary. To some fundamentalist's here, the Pope is the antichrist and all Catholics are going to hell. My husband is catholic and the medal was a form of protection that he put on our sons stroller. I had placed an Ogham inscription on the stroller as my form of protection for him. I was still kind of in the closet back then and when I found out we were moving to Oklahoma I was even more in the closet. Yes I was afraid.
I had heard stories of churches making up lies about pagan parents to get the children taken away. I had heard stories of parents divorcing and the pagan parent losing any sort of custody at all presumably because the parent was pagan. I was not at all sure if any of these things were true, but I sure did not want to risk finding out the hard way!
Fast forward again to my practicing rituals and magick with my kids, and me telling them not to tell anyone that I was a witch or that we did rituals. I never forced my kids to do rituals, I asked them and sometimes they wanted to, sometimes they didn't. I left it up to them. Over time my son began telling his friends that he was a witch. He came to me and told me one of his friends told him he had to stop being a witch or he would go to hell. So then he asked the painful question:
"Mommy are we doing bad things?"
I wanted to die.
I took my son up in my arms and said that we were absolutely not doing bad things. I tried my best to explain how some people didn't understand some forms of spirituality, but that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with them. I asked him if he thought what I did was wrong or that the rituals we did were bad and he said,
"No, but why can't we tell anyone if there is nothing wrong with it?"
I wanted to hide under a rock. I think at the time I came up with some comforting bit of motherly stuff about how he didn't have to worry, about why he didn't have to worry. I showed him pagan groups online that had children at rituals and things like that to show him that we are really everywhere and not doing evil, unpleasant things. That seemed to make him feel better. But, I still told him he should keep these things to himself. As I did, my heart broke into a million pieces.
It took a lot of soul searching, a lot of looking online for other pagan parents in fundamentalist areas who were out of the broom closet, so I could see how they did it and how it was working out for them. Eventually I just could not bear it anymore and I came out of the proverbial broom closet. Why? Because I had done something very wrong as a mother. I had instilled fear into my children, and it needed to end, YESTERDAY.
I told my kids that they could tell anyone they wanted about our witchy ways. I told them that if anyone had questions they could tell them to talk to their mommy. I started wearing my pentacle in public again. I was still scared but I felt so much better as a mother! Thankfully, gratefully, nothing bad has happened because of this!
I will admit I had let my imagination get away from me and much of this fear was part of a cacophony of "what if" scenarios (that never actually happened) playing over and over in my head. It was fear brought on by being in a place I was unfamiliar with. It was fear of confrontation. It was fear based on my reaction to stories that caused me to fear losing my kids because of my religious choices. Fear is an awful thing and I needed to keep it away from my children, not hand it to them on a silver platter.
I am happy to say that I have not met with anymore unpleasantness because of this. We don't shout these things from the rooftop but we don't purposefully try to hide them either. My kids have taken to asking me all kinds of questions about magick and I have happily passed down some of my books to them. My ten year old son likes to refer to himself as a wizard and my seven year old daughter has aptly taken on the label of 'princess' (I guess that makes me Queen? ha ha) All of that is totally fine as they find their own ways in life.
So that's it. I am Laurie Patricia O'Neal O'Driscoll and I am a Witch. I may have been a Witch first but I am a Mother most of all. My kids may decide to follow me on this starlit path... or they may not. The choice is theirs to make and no ones business but their own. More importantly none of this is anything to be afraid of.
Living fearlessly is one of the greatest lessons I can teach them. Thank goodness I realized it when I did!