How public are you about your beliefs and practices? How has it (or not) impacted your work life, your familial and friendly ties? What advice would you give to uncertain Kemetics about how to approach either telling or not telling others about their beliefs?
For this round of KRT we’re discussing how open we are with our religious practices and what kind of effect that has had on our lives and relationships. Honestly, despite how open I am about my practice on the internet, I don’t really talk about my practice at all in my day to day life. If you are lucky, you will know that I am not Christian, you may even know that I’m Kemetic, and that that deals with ancient Egypt, but I pretty much don’t talk about anything in real life.
This is because I am fearful of the potential consequences that I may have if I were to be open about my practice. Most of my life and my lifestyle are hidden because I don’t want to experience more societal pressure for my choices and way of life. As I mentioned in my God’s Mouths post, my life is almost entirely centered around religious work and astral work, and it is made obvious when trying to have an in real life conversation with people who know absolutely nothing about Paganism that I pretty much have next to nothing that I can talk about with “normal” people. Usually, if someone asks about my religion and I’m required to answer, I get blank stares in return, or I get lectured about my choice in religion.
My family also knows very little about my religious practices as well. My closest family (read: parents and one grand parent) know that I am not Christian, but that is where the knowledge ends. They don’t make a habit of asking about my religious affiliations or practices, and I don’t make a habit of talking about it. I personally have found this to be ironic because my family does have a bit of “woo” to them. It’s said that other members of my family can see spirits and the like, and most of my family has at least some passing interest in energy work and manipulation, channeling and other spirit work. However, they never think to ask me or include me in their discussions, so no one knows anything about how that stuff factors into my own life.
So the short answer to the first question is this: I don’t tell anyone about my practice. I have difficulty speaking about it in real life, and I typically keep it very hidden, which results in a lot of odd mental quirks and odd discussions sometimes. It also leaves me feeling pretty alienated regularly.
My advice to anyone who is starting out on a non-“normal” religious path is this: Use discretion.
A lot of people seem to think that its a-okay to be an open Pagan in the modern day and age and that you’ll experience no repercussions for it, but its honestly not. Being open about your religious beliefs in the wrong place can get your harassment from coworkers, friends and family, or can result in you losing your job (despite the laws in place that are meant to protect you from such things). Be careful what you divulge and how quickly you divulge it. Much like my boiling frogs post, I would recommend that you start slow. If you mention that you’re not Christian, and no one freaks out, then maybe you can talk about your specific religious path, and then maybe more about your world view, practices, etc. Ease yourself into the conversation, and try to make it easy for you to back out if it goes in the wrong direction too quickly.
I would also advise to be careful on the internet as well. Many employers do check candidates out online, and its very possible that finding a bunch of online stuff regarding your religious practices can become a factor in their decisions to hire you. It’s also possible that people can use online interactions against you for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways (I’ve seen this done in divorces and custody cases, for example). If its possible to write under a pseudonym, I recommend considering it. Because of this, I also always recommend being professional, courteous and respectful online as well- because that can also play a factor if someone finds out who you are online and in real life.
I understand the desire to want to be open about your practice and that it’s not really fair that you have to live (to some extent) in hiding, but I’ve found over the years that being completely open about my way of life tends to result in drama and stress. So for myself personally, I’d rather keep that stuff hush-hush because I don’t want or need the extra stress. As you get further along your path, you’ll find the best mix of open and secret that works for you, but to start out, I always recommend being rather reserved with your religious workings. It’s always easier to reveal a secret later than to try and cover your secret back up once it’s out of the bag!
To read other responses to this question, please check out the Master List!