Out of the Broom Closet
Arin Murphy-Hiscock (editor)
Provenance Press, 2009
One of the things that you learn as a practicing Witch is that everyone comes to the path differently. Some of us come from very repressive religious households and found our way to the Craft from studying books at our school or local library. Others have met friends who were Wiccan and were drawn to it that way. Still others found there way to the Craft through a metaphysical group or activity, like tarot reading.
This book contains fifty stories of “Witches who found and embraced the craft”, and you can learn something from every one of them. I found them interesting and inspiring overall. They detail the struggles of faith and religion that each person faced on their way to being an openly practicing Wiccan.
Every Witch has the story of how they came “out of the broom closet”—a term used for admitting our spiritual path as Wiccans to others. This process is not unlike homosexuals disclosing their sexual preference, which is why the phrase was chosen; it is a very personal thing, but sometimes people have to be told. It’s hard living life to others as something you’re not.
Like sexuality, spirituality is a very loaded topic. Many of the stories in this book involve the author “coming out” to friends or family members, while others focus more on how the author came to the path. Because the Craft is fraught with misunderstanding among the general public—especially by those in other religious communities who purport to teach “tolerance”, by the way—many Wicca practitioners keep their religion a secret from all but a few. People think it’s something they’ve seen in Hollywood—think of The Craft or Practical Magic, or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer—or they feel that’s unnatural or Satanic.
It would be easy for someone to read the first few pages of these stories and say, “WOW. It’s much easier to be a Witch in the closet when people do and say these horrible things!” But you need to keep reading. One of the common themes is that of rising above pettiness, close-mindedness, or adversity to worship as you choose. Very few Wiccans were raised in Wiccan households or had an extremely supportive family or social group. When humans don’t know what they’re dealing with they generally shun it, and those who do it.
Wiccans may have the same human frailties as everyone else, but one other great lesson is that as a group, even though we may worship differently, we can succeed with help from other practitioners. Several people discussed the positive impact that other individual Witches, groups, or Wiccan clergy members helped them to overcome their personal challenges. And that’s the best part: These are success stories, not nightmares, and they really made me proud to be an out of the broom closet Witch.
I think every Witch should read this book, mainly to appreciate the struggles of others, as well as their own, and value the lessons learned. As the Head High Priest of a Wiccan community, I think that every spiritual leader in the Craft should read this book as well so they can better help their clients through these trials, which, sadly, are very common.