Out of The Broom Closet - or - What It Means to be A Witch in Modern America
by Pat Carbonell
Welcome to yet another new FTTW weekly column. Our new author, Pat Carbonell, is an arist, a mom to our very own Jo, a former(?) hippie and a witch.
Okay, let's get the first hurdle over with: yes, I'm a Witch. I'm not a High Priestess-this or Fifth Level-that... I'm your old-fashioned Middle-European village witch (in search of a village). I don't dance naked under the full moon (first, it would get me arrested as I live in a city, and second, I'm 51 and fat - it would scare the neighbors). I don't belong to a coven (been there, tried that, agree with the inestimable Terry Pratchett that a group of witches is not a coven, it's an argument).
So what makes me a witch? I was born one. When you enter the world at 2 minutes after midnight in the middle of Scorpio, what else are you going to be? I had the good fortune to be kid #3, so when I started hearing the cats talking, nobody was paying enough attention to convince me I was wrong. By the time my mother figured out that I was talking back to them in "cat" and threatened me with a shrink, I was old enough and mature enough to just be more discreet - made her feel better.
I started out on this journey by discovering that I'm a telepath and an empath. For those of you who don't know what that means, it means I can project my thoughts to someone I know (been checked out to a range of 1200 miles), and I can pick up the emotional state of the people around me (very helpful for survival in the workplace). I can also project emotional states, but only do that to calm people down or help little ones go to sleep. There's a whole ethical issue involved with that; basically boils down to don't fuck with other people's heads without their permission.
From there I discovered that I could sense and affect the electro-magnetic matrix of stones, and that led to a lifetime of learning about being an earth-witch. Turned out that I can also sense and affect the human bioelectric field, which has led to learning to be an energetic healer - I generally combine it with massage work, which is somewhat sneaky, but it gets the job done.
Now, you may have noticed that I haven't mentioned the Goddess or the God, haven't talked about getting "called", haven't said anything about my religious beliefs. There's a reason for that. A witch is something you ARE, not something you believe. There are witches who follow every religion and godhead in the world. Yes, a lot of modern Western witches are pagans, but it isn't a requirement... so we'll talk about my religious beliefs another time.
Most of my life I stayed safely in the "broom closet" - close friends and some of my family knew I was a witch, but I didn't go around wearing occult jewelry and advertising the fact. When my daughter was young, I didn't really need to have someone call the state's child protective services division and try to have her taken away and "saved". As she got older, I wanted to hang onto my jobs - yeesh, I used to work for a Catholic college! Can you see the exorcism in the computer lab?
Then a couple of years ago this friend of mine asked me to facilitate a Wiccan discussion group for his New Age shop. I told him I wasn't a Wiccan. He told me I was the only Witch he knew, and he trusted me. I finally caved in after telling him he had to give me (a) three months to get ready and (b) free rein to go through the books in his shop. He agreed, and I wound up "out" of my safe little closet. My car is now a rolling billboard. My favorite is "Get a taste of religion, Lick a Witch".
Next installment: what happens when the world finds out you're a witch.
Pat talks to cats Rutland, Vermont