Author’s note: This was not an easy blog to write.

One of the many reasons I am so very thankful for the Pagan Pride Project is the chance to be with like-minded others. When I first found Paganism, I was already considered “a little weird,” by classmates, co-workers, etc. I sort of knew that wearing a pentacle and coming out as a public Witch would intensify that, but at the time I didn’t care. Now, nearly fourteen years later, I’ve written two books, been interviewed by national press, speak on topics related to Witchcraft and Paganism around the country, and lead one of the largest Witchcraft communities in the Eastern United States. I work for an interfaith Seminary where I’m encouraged to share what I know is happening in the Pagan community and keep an eye on leaders whom we could support. I frequently pray alongside Sikh, Muslim, Christian, Catholic, and more leaders for a more just society. My work encourages healing and strength–both systemic and individual.

Still, here are a few things I’ve heard over the years…and still regularly do:

“I like you, but I don’t agree with what you do.”

“I love you, but what you do is evil.” 

“I’m not supposed to be friends with someone like you.”

“No one wants to be around you because you do that stuff. They may not say it, but they’re thinking it.” 

“I pray for you because the Bible says you will be cast out of Heaven. I love you. You’re a sweet girl. But I know what the Bible says and you need help.” 

“(looks at pentacle) Ew…freaky.”

“Your Goddess is really the Devil just pretending to be good. Messing around with that Goddess is dangerous. I’ll pray for you.”

I’ll add that many of the people who said those things above turned around and asked me for a Tarot reading…sometimes in the same breath. Nice.

I’m so far from perfect…I can’t fully explain how far from perfect I am. It’s kind of like truly imagining the distance between our home planet and the nearest star from our sun–it’s far, too far to imagine. That’s how far I am from perfect. I lose my temper. I sometimes talk smack about people I don’t like. I order take-out when I don’t want to cook, even though I know and talk about how dangerous that behavior is to the environment. (And that’s just this morning.) But I belong to a faith system and spiritual path that encourages kindness and respect for others and the planet. I might be a jerk sometimes, but my religion is not evil.

Hearing the comments above sucks. It hurts. Those who are reading this have probably heard similar, or worse. It doesn’t matter if I mention how many articles of new clothing my Coven collected for the homeless at the last Sabbat, or if I were asked to attend an important convening of faith leaders, or if a young man walked from New Jersey to one of my workshops to ask for help (help which I gave by praying the Rosary with him, as my Spirits told me he needed prayers from his childhood faith), or if I took part in a healing spell which the recipient said worked, or if I was simply a nice person that day–helping out an elder or doing something nice for a friend. It doesn’t matter what I actually did. The assumptions and prejudices of others, especially from those I love, assume the worst.

What do the kids say today? “The struggle is real?”


Why don’t I walk away from these people? If I walked away from everyone who has ever said something unkind about my faith, I’d be spending most of my time and holidays alone. Periodic comments about my religion are not justification for throwing away what are otherwise healthy, loving relationships. Religion divides enough of this world. I won’t let it divide mine. Now, in the very few instances when the relationship has devolved to only negative comments about my faith, I’ve pulled the plug. Fortunately, that’s been rare and I enjoy the loving people in my life, even if many of them are misguided about my faith.

Do you ever go through this?

If so, here are a few things that might help:

Remember that the hurtful things are most often said through fear or love.
Whether it’s fear that we’ll be cast into some kind of hell or fear that our affiliation with Witchcraft will prevent us from getting a job or a stable relationship, the person saying that is worried for us. Their worries are unfounded, we know. It’s possible that if they didn’t love us, they wouldn’t care enough to say it. Someone saying they’ll pray for us may be condescending, but again, it’s their way of showing they love us and want us to be well. Take a deep breath and know they’re only trying to be helpful….even if it’s infuriating for you.

Be open to questions.
Refusing to talk about your practices will breed more fear (even if the question makes you cringe). Encourage your loved ones to talk to you if they read or hear something that concerns them. There is a lot of false information about contemporary Witchcraft on the Internet, and they’ve likely read it. Someone may be whispering outrageous stories to them in Church or at work. Let them know it’s okay to approach you with what they hear and make a pact to yourself that you won’t be offended if you’re asked something particularly ignorant. Answer the questions honestly and without snide remarks e.g., “Well, we ONLY sacrifice if it’s a bad harvest…KIDDING! WE DON’T DO THAT!” Even as a joke, it undermines your truth and makes it harder for people to talk with you about it.

Be open about your practices as much as your Tradition or lifestyle allows
Even before I worked at the seminary, I wore my pentacle openly. I also work and live in NYC where people generally don’t care what religion you practice so long as your religion doesn’t interfere with them getting to work or getting home. Unfortunately, this is not feasible for many people but if you live and work in a place where you can wear your pentacle or other jewelry openly without fear of losing your job or subjecting yourself to violence do it. You’ll show people that you’re not the scary thing Hollywood dreams are made of. That can trickle to their friends and relatives back in the areas where Witches can’t be open. We’re all connected, Kittenz!

Understand that no one owes your their acceptance or approval
This is a tough one to swallow, but it’s freeing, too. No one is required to be happy that you’re a Witch. No one has to approve of anything you do. You probably don’t approve of many things your Witch-phobic loved ones do. You don’t have to approve or accept them, either. Agree to disagree and move on. When you stop hoping for or demanding acceptance that will never come, it’s easier to address fear and misunderstandings.

Do NOT tolerate abuse
If the “I’m just worried….” rhetoric turns into “YOU ARE EMBRACING EVIL AND EVERYONE HATES YOU!” then you have the right and obligation to yourself to walk away from the conversation. You do not deserve to be berated for your spiritual path. Consider saying to the person, “I’ll speak with you when you’re ready for an honest and mature dialogue.” If that becomes all  you ever  hear from that person, you may need to consider ending future interactions all together. You also have the right to block people from your social media portals if they start harassing you or other friends/family in the Craft.

Take your pain to those who understand
I’ll often take my hurt feelings to my Coven–a group of folks who have been through what I’ve been through and can validate my experience plus remind me of the good work I’m doing. We can laugh about particularly ignorant things or strange comments together. Going to them to safely and privately express my sadness and frustration helps me respond to the painful interactions with maturity and groundedness. Overall, it sweetens a bitter experience.

Don’t retaliate by using hateful words or posting ugly things online
I realize a lot of this post is in reaction to Christian folks. There are many supportive Christians out there and many folks of religions other than Christianity who can be equally as unkind. My experiences and many of those of my community happen to come from Christians, but other paths are certainly not exempt! (My next post might be, “How to respond when an Atheist suggests you need an MRI for your ‘delusional brain’.”) It may be tempting to post a snarky meme as a way to deflect your feelings, but don’t. Reacting to vitriol with venom only makes a soul sicker.

wonka meme

Don’t get into a Bible-verse war
Yes, it’s true that the Bible tells women they can’t wear pants or speak in Church and that eating shellfish on your cheeseburger will send you to Hell…but if you bring this (quite valid) point up to a Bible-quoter, they’re probably only going to come at you with more quotes. It’s not worth it. If they know those previous items are in the Bible, they’ve already chosen to ignore them. If they were unaware, they won’t be about to let you teach them. I know I shared a link in a previous blog about responding with Bible verses and there are times when that will work, but in general, it’s just going to be annoying.

When it gets really bad, start being louder and prouder with your good work.
When you’re just fed up with defending, explaining, or trying to prove that you’re a good, kind person, stop talking and start acting. Organize a food or clothing drive with your Coven or local Witch friends. Volunteer at an organization or run/walk a charity marathon and collect cash in the name of your faith and an organization that makes the world a better place. Let people know you’re doing it. It’s hard to criticize a person for being evil when they’re going out of their way to do good.

And, if it helps, here are a few ways I’ve responded to the above comments:

“I like you, but I don’t agree with what you do.”
” You don’t agree with practices of healing, love, and living in harmony with the Earth? What do you agree with?”

“I love you, but what you do is evil.”
“Please illuminate for me exactly what you think that I do is evil. I suspect you know very little of what I do.”

“My religion says I’m not supposed to be friends with someone like you.”
“That’s a shame. My religion doesn’t tell me who to be friends with–that’s for me to decide.”

“No one wants to be around you because you do that stuff. They may not say it, but they’re thinking it.” 
“It’s amazing that you’re able to read the thoughts of everyone in the world! Can you teach me how???”

“I pray for you because the Bible says you will be cast out of Heaven. I love you. You’re a sweet person. But I know what the Bible says and you need help.” 
“I appreciate your concern, but there are a lot of starving and suffering people out there who the Bible probably thinks needs more help than I do.”

“(looks at pentacle) Ew…freaky.”
“First of all, that was rude. Second of all, if that’s what you think, you need to stop asking me for Tarot readings and dream interpretation.”

“Your Goddess is really the Devil just pretending to be good. Messing around with that Goddess is dangerous. I’ll pray for you.”
“I’ll pray for you too, because your God has you all convinced that everything that isn’t Him is dangerous and out to destroy you. That’s a pretty toxic relationship. You should question who really is doing harm and good.

Lastly….oh, hey! Look who ended up in Vice this week! 


Me at NYC Pagan Pride 2015!!!