I have over years been referred to anything on the gamut from "flaming Pagan" to "in the broom closet behind the vacuum cleaner." Really, I fall somewhere in between. I’ve outgrown the belief that immediately announcing "I’m pagan!" contributes anything to the world. I think my current attitude was inspired by some dear friends who are gay, who chose to come out to me after I knew them as people – so my context for these individuals is "This is this person, who is like this, and has these values, and who is also gay." It’s worked well for me as a Pagan who lives in the mainstream, too – and in one work situation years ago, it saved my ass. Another woman training for the same job decided to be "out" as a witch in the most obnoxious way possible, even following one coworker to the library and announcing to him she was reading up on witchcraft (This was the guy who wore the "Lutheran for Life" T-shirt. So oh yeah, it was her harassing him for his beliefs with her beliefs, no question.) I was called in as one of the sane and stable in our work group, and when they brought up the witchcraft thing I was there to say, "I believe that too, and you know me and know my values." Because it was me – and my coworkers knew me – they decided to leave the religion out of their complaints, and it worked just as well because then the badly behaved coworker was removed and I didn’t necessarily need to be in or out of the broom closet. I was Diana, who was really smart and fast on the phones. Oh, yeah, I don’t think she’ll do the church group thing, but she’s good to work on Sunday.
It worked out well for me in that respect.
I also don’t go in for a lot of American Pagan stereotypes, or I’ve outgrown them. So here’s a loose list of things common to neopagans that I happen to not share:
1. I hate, hate HATE J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s bad, laborious writing and it bores the living hell out of me.
2. I think corporate life and thinking has some good things in it worth saving, although corporate culture does need a serious realignment – and corporate personhood needs to die, NOW.
3. I try to avoid wearing black t-shirts or broomstick/peasant skirts. It’s too much of a stereotype, and is actually a subvert reference to body image issues.
4. I hate camping. I mean HATE it. I even tried it again, like I do beets every few years, and I will take a hotel any day, thank you.
5. I believe – and prefer the idea – that Wicca is a modern religion, not a stone age cult. I think that the stone age cult stuff smacks of chicanery, stupidity and low self-confidence.
6. I enjoy science fiction, but I hate Star Trek with a burning passion. Making Star Trek references results in me finding excuses to leave, usually leaving a dust cloud behind me.
7. I believe in being personally organized, and I believe the "herding Pagans is like herding cats" is the statement of those who have not bothered to learn basic organizational skills.
8. I have no fantasies whatsoever about the past being better than the present. It’s all a work in progress, emphasis on progress.