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Author Topic: Keeping your spirituality out of sight  (Read 2272 times)

EclecticWheel

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Keeping your spirituality out of sight
« on: April 01, 2020, 04:34:05 pm »
Some are practicing spiritualities that we may for various reasons wish to keep private.  This has been true of me for about 12 years, at least in regard to private practice, as I'm living in the Bible belt.

One side of my family I've kept in the dark about even the most conventional elements of my spiritual journey because they are particularly intolerant of anything outside of their religion which I have long left behind.  I keep lots of things from them, actually.

I have a religious landlord who I would not wish to disclose some of my spiritual practices to.

I keep obviously religious items in my home to a minimum or out of sight, or only display more generally accepted items like a crucifix or prayer book, though even those things I've had to hide from an entire branch of my family due to hatred of anything Catholic or reminiscent thereof.

Some items only come out during use and then I store them away, at least if I'm expecting visitors.

Since many of us probably practice spirituality in the home, I'm curious how others have gone about concealing their practices, or whether you have at all.  Perhaps some come from families or have homes in which that is not a priority.

I can imagine that keeping one's spirituality private while carrying on a robust practice could be quite a creative endeavor, so I would love to hear more about it.
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Re: Keeping your spirituality out of sight
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2020, 11:33:41 am »
I can imagine that keeping one's spirituality private while carrying on a robust practice could be quite a creative endeavor, so I would love to hear more about it.

When I first started practicing, I was living at home (high school), and everything was pretty much hidden.  I had a folding chessboard, an old wooden one, that was intended to hold all the pieces inside, and that became my altar space and stored my things.  When I wanted to do something, I'd pull it out, and when I was done, everything went back in and it stayed on a shelf where it wasn't obvious. 

I was actually fairly out in college at the dorms, but sometimes I would want to carry my kit to places without drawing attention, so I kept everything in a plastic toolbox.  It had a lift out tray, with a larger bottom section, and I could store all the things I needed to cast a full circle and host ritual inside it (from salt, to water, to tools...everything).  It was actually pretty handy for when we would go to the beach or what not and do a ritual.

Fast-forward a handful of years and I got married, had a son and we moved to a tiny town in the bible belt.  For a few years everything kind of shut down for me.  We had no internet, no phone, no friends...I pretty much did the mom thing for a bit, so everything was put away where it couldn't be seen (plus I wasn't using it).

Then we moved to a new place, though still same town, and because our landlord could be coming into our house with little warning, I had most of my things tucked away again.  I have this glass-fronted bookshelf that I kept most of my Pagan books in, so I put some pictures I had drawn over the glass so you couldn't see inside.  The top was my altar space, but I kept the more witchy stuff off of it, so it was like a cloth, a candle and maybe a flower or something..very benign.  Also, with my son now entering school and being able to talk, I didn't want to put him in a situation where he talked about stuff he saw at home and got bullied or harassed by adults, so my practice went underground, I did stuff when he was asleep, everything got cleaned up and put away.

I think the biggest thing that worked for me was having prepared explanations for anything that might be seen as remotely witchy.  Yes, I'm wearing a star (pentacle) necklace...because I love stars (feigning ignorance often works wonders).  Oh, that dagger (athame), I collect knives (which is also true lol).  I found that statue at a thrift store, I thought it was nifty looking.  People are often quite willing to believe innocent explanations, if you don't stumble over them.
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PerditaPickle

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Re: Keeping your spirituality out of sight
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2020, 10:18:39 am »
Some are practicing spiritualities that we may for various reasons wish to keep private.

I did go through a period of keeping my spirituality out of sight and private; some of it early on was not precisely intentional or conscious, though later it was definitely deliberate.  And now I've sort of stopped, mostly.

I didn't start really exploring my spirituality fully until after marriage.

Growing up I made pretty good use of the 'New Age' section of the library, and I don't remember specifically hiding those books, but they'd have been stored in my bedroom for the three weeks until return to the library and I'd have read them in my room too, rather than the living room or garden or anything.

At uni I joined the New Age society & started collecting crystals, oil burners for essential oils etc and at that time I made no great secret of anything either, but being short of money I didn't have a vast collection of anything, so just a handful of items on one or two shelves of a small bookshelf.

After leaving uni I still had my collection of 'New Age' items and continued to purchase & use things like essential oils.  But having entered the world of work I was much more consumed with mundane day-to-day considerations and had a bit of a 'hiatus' from spiritual exploration, so there wasn't a great deal to have to keep hidden.

When I became inspired to revisit my spirituality properly, I started collecting odd bits of additional paraphernalia, which I did purposefully keep hidden away (not from my husband, but in anticipation of my folks visiting, and the odd landlady/landlord visit).

I created for myself a not-exactly-altar (I don't know what terminology to use for it, as I don't pray at it) and I deliberately made it portable in order that I could put it out of sight when someone was at our place who might not understand.  But then I never actually got around to putting it away!  It was kind of innocuous looking to start with, it just had a selection of candles, my most treasured quartz crystal, some bits of jewellery and one or two other bits meant to represent things like the elements (things like nuts, and a single half soapnut shell).  Actually, that sounds pretty obvious now I come to type it out!  I don't know.  And anyway, it's grown & been added to, so it's definitely more overt now.  And it's in the corner of the room right next to the door to our bathroom, so I'd say that visitors to our place will walk right past it on something like 50% of occasions.

I had a private Amazon wishlist with all my desired spiritual books on it, and had a moment of panic when I thought my husband had accidentally shared it with my family, and inadvertently outed me!

I purposefully refrained from joining pagan groups on Facebook, or even sharing too overtly Pagan memes.  I refrained from publicly joining or checking in on Facebook at the Pagan Pride South event which I look forward to every summer.

I think the reason for a lot of this, although I'm a fully grown adult, is that my folks would likely be fearful that I was at risk of joining a cult - my brother once spotted me reading Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard, and assumed I must be being groomed to become a Scientologist!

Oddly enough, this coronavirus pandemic has actually made me relax about certain things, one of them being that I'm no longer worried if my family become aware that I'm pagan.  (I spent several days being absolutely convinced this was the end of civilisation, and the lead up to the apocalypse!  So what does it matter if a little thing like one's alternative spirituality comes out into the daylight?)  My husband shared to my Facebook timeline that PaganFest South West was cancelled, and I didn't get all uptight about it (though I did ask him if he was okay with outing me when he said he was going to share it, and he was like "yeah").

I sometimes wonder whether my mom has an idea, anyway, as she's always bought me candle holders and oil burners with star and moon symbols on them & the such as gifts over the years.

I still don't really want my colleagues to know particularly, but as I said I'm less worried if my family & even neighbours know.  (But then I'm lucky enough to live in a part of the world that's not, well … it's not bible belt!)
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Anon100

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Re: Keeping your spirituality out of sight
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2020, 02:09:53 pm »

Since many of us probably practice spirituality in the home, I'm curious how others have gone about concealing their practices, or whether you have at all.  Perhaps some come from families or have homes in which that is not a priority.

I can imagine that keeping one's spirituality private while carrying on a robust practice could be quite a creative endeavor, so I would love to hear more about it.

I'm reasonably low key anyway.
I've always kept an ecclectic library so books on subjects don't raise eyebrows. My main ritual area in progress is my garden ( area for disposal of offerings, area to connect to deity, welcome area for the other of the world as well as nature and the world at large [ with rules in the welcome ] ). My indoor spaces look like ornamental cubby holes in my shelving. Mostly I go on a principle of "If I connect in certain spaces then they're no doubt there outside of those spaces", the cubby holes just make a place to focus and help me.
All told the only thing that would notice is food/drink offerings and I only get occassional visitors so I can time things so they aren't there or don't notice

Nymree

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Re: Keeping your spirituality out of sight
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2020, 06:18:13 am »

Since many of us probably practice spirituality in the home, I'm curious how others have gone about concealing their practices, or whether you have at all.  Perhaps some come from families or have homes in which that is not a priority.

I can imagine that keeping one's spirituality private while carrying on a robust practice could be quite a creative endeavor, so I would love to hear more about it.

For me, I'm very lucky to live in a tolerant/ignorant area - ignorant in the sense that no one raises an eyebrow if I say 'I'm pagan', because most people have never heard of us anyway. Likewise, my family are supportive of me, and my mum has offered to help in a ritual before because I mentioned I was feeling lonely without my circle.

That being said, I am careful of who knows about my spirituality. I keep jewelry off and my room (where the main altar is) off limits when a specific Christian aunt comes over, mostly so I don't upset her or drive her away (she's quite lonely, and I think depends on family contact in her later years). I also don't wear my pentacle to certain meetings, like a doctor's appointment or meeting new friends/colleagues - mainly because it's either need-to-know and they don't, or I just can't predict how that group might react. I was living with two other students this year (I'm a uni student in the UK), and neither of them gave me very good vibes, so I kept it quiet around them and never invited them into my room. When at uni, I also all but stop practicing inside the home, don't do chants or play any intruments (quite important parts of practice for me) and save as much as I can up for the half-terms at home or my group practices elsewhere.

When I do get to know someone, though, I usually tell them quite early on if I can. Because negative reactions are in the vast minority for me, I can quite easily find out who is going to respond like that based off of these early 'coming-outs', and either avoid them or talk it out with them. More often than not, the most intolerant people seem to help themselves to the door. The only times I don't do this is if, like above, I get a bad feeling from them, if I can't avoid them out of necessity (like a flatmate), or if it just doesnt seem necessary (doctors). Because my social groups are very segmented and separate, I do seem to have a lot of control over information flow, so this has worked so far.

« Last Edit: April 25, 2020, 06:21:35 am by Nymree »

Aster Breo

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Re: Keeping your spirituality out of sight
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2020, 01:48:52 am »

Since many of us probably practice spirituality in the home, I'm curious how others have gone about concealing their practices, or whether you have at all. 

I'm an adult with a supportive spouse, so I haven't had to hide me spirituality from my immediate family. But from my wider family? Yes. My 90-year-old mother lives with us, and she's VERY Methodist. My brother and sister-in-law are both retired Methodist ministers. So, I've been careful about where in the house I keep things and what I wear when.

When I first joined TC, back in 2003 or 2004 (?), I was very careful to keep my screen identity separate from my "real" identity. I still have 2 Facebook accounts - one in my legal name and one under Aster Breo. I didn't want anyone from one "life" to figure out the other.

Up until fairly recently, I've worked in child advocacy and in theater (part time in each), and I was very concerned about keeping my "Aster life" separate from my work life. I was also concerned about how certain members of my family would react to me being pagan.

At this point, though, I don't think I care any more. People will either accept it or not, and that's their problem, not mine.

But I doubt that I'll integrate my 2 accounts / identities, because I don't know how to do that without causing a lot of confusion.

I totally get it if people feel they need to keep their spiritual lives private for any reason. It's nobody's business but their own.

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« Last Edit: May 04, 2020, 10:37:53 am by SunflowerP »
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Re: Keeping your spirituality out of sight
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2020, 09:58:37 am »
I totally get it if people feel they need to keep their spiritual lives private for any reason. It's nobody's business but their own.

I get it, yes. I just don't do it. Now I'm not in everyone's face about my exact beliefs and expectations; need to know, of course. And the whole story sounds like bragging (but doesn't that go with the territory here in Texas?  ;)). But I figured that the pastor of my church needs to know exactly where and how I don't "fit in," and I haven't tried to hide it from my family...with the net result that my mother is convinced that her Poor Dear Boy Is Sick but that if he just takes his medicine then Everything Will Be All Right. Sigh.

I suppose that my stand in this area goes back to 1984, when I had a Commodore 64 and a VICmodem and I was just getting started with CompuServe. It seemed like everyone else had these creative "handles" and I wondered if I should do the same. But I decided back then that no, I would not conceal my true identity on line...and I never have, with the exception of a few sites which require in their Terms of Service that you not use your real name or identity...mostly CruiseCritic. (But, then, I've only taken two cruises—well, as a paying passenger!—in my life!) I do clearly understand that there are very real risks to this decision; I accept those risks. And, so far, I've had no great occasion to regret my decision. (I know, I know...just wait!)

But of course I'm not saying that everyone else, or for that matter anyone else, should follow suit. This is a personal choice, and it means that anyone who really wants to—for good or ill—can find me. I am in the book. I'm content with that.
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