My grandmother thinks I go to a non-denominational church. I know. The Princesses are very supportive of coming out of the closet, and typically I am very much out in the open. My friends know, if it organically comes up in conversation with strangers I’ll talk about it, and I’ve never tried to hide what I am at work or in social situations. For all intents and purposes I’m out.
Except with my grandmother. And my aunt. And my in-laws. And two of these are at the request of somebody else. With my in-laws, my husband just asked if I wouldn’t bring it up; if / when they find out / figure it out on their own is fine – he doesn’t want me to feel the need for some covert operation or whatever – he just didn’t want me to make a big announcement to them. I’m okay with this. I rarely feel the need to make announcements to anybody. As I said before, I only bring it up when it comes up organically in conversation, and religion doesn’t come up a ton with my in-laws because they’re Catholic and I’ve never been, so we’re already different species as far as they’re concerned. (Getting married to a Catholic when you’re not is a different post entirely, so I’ll leave it at that.)
As far as my aunt is concerned, I personally don’t care if she knows. I love her very dearly, but she’s set in her ways as a conservative Episcopalian (or Anglican? She’s on the Tory side of the Episcopal split – in fact, she’s in the Ft. Worth Diocese which was a major player on the “return to Biblical values” side). And while she is a loving, vibrant, wonderful woman, she sometimes says crazy things, and I just want to get a stick and poke at her balloon of ludicrousness until it pops. Like the time she said visiting Salem gave her the creeps because, “Oh, Jenny,” (she calls me Jenny, as do several members of my family on that side), “they have signs on the windows of shops saying we aren’t allowed to make fun. Like we’re supposed to take them seriously. And witches all make pilgrimages there. It’s their Mecca.” (Huh???*) And I didn’t hop across the table and scratch her eyes out. I was really proud of me. I think my mom sitting there wide-eyed, silently pleading with me to keep my trap shut might be the only reason I managed to stay in my seat.
See, Mom is the reason I don’t tell my aunt. When I came out to my mother, she was unhappy, and asked me to promise I wouldn’t tell her mother or sister. I promised regarding my aunt out of respect for her. I know my aunt would have a fit if I told her, but personally I’m okay with that. She could get past it if she wanted to, and hey, what’s one more person praying for my soul, right? But if it gives my mother peace, that’s fine. I love my mom and don’t want to cause her stress with the family.
But Ma is different. Even though I have not told her, she doesn’t make me feel restrained or like I have to lie, and I wouldn’t have told her even if my mother hadn’t asked. Ma was raised in a Catholic boarding school, and, excluding Mormon, she’s been every Christian denomination known to man at one time or another. She’s now Missouri Synod Lutheran, one of the more conservative branches, but oddly enough, other than the forms of faith (virgin birth, transubstantiation, literal resurrection, Thor, that sort of thing), we agree on faith and morality far more than we disagree; she is far more open-minded than the people she surrounds herself with. She has a worldview she is comfortable with, attends the same church she attended with my grandfather (he passed away nine years ago), but she doesn’t attack other people with it or spout crazy s**t like Salem is the witch’s Mecca. I do know it would bother her to learn I’m pagan, that she would worry about me, and she might even question her own faith if she found out. Ma is 82 and a widow. I don’t see what good would come of outing myself to her at this point, and so I glide over religious details and stay honest about things that really matter, like keeping an open mind and coming to faith with joy.
Most pagans are still “in” for parts of their life. What do you think, readers? Is it okay to keep a couple toes in the closet?
* Okay, so it’s been pointed out to me that she’s not completely loco in her idea of pilgrimages to Salem, i.e. Witch City. (le sigh) It’s not MY Mecca.
+ Featured image: “The Witch No. 1” by Joseph E. Baker, 1892