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Guest Helen Lea

How Did Your Partners/family Deal With Paganism?

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Guest Helen Lea

Hi, i borrowed a book on crystal healing from the library. My husband flipped when he saw it, saying that his ex went into all this "weird stuff" when she was having an affair on him. He said she started doing spells against him to make him leave etc. I hadn't even mentioned anything about looking into paganism, but he said she went to see a friend who was a witch and he found it all freaky and weird. So now I feel completely knocked off course with my journey. I won't ever be able to show paganism if I decide to follow it and feel that I'm going to have to hide it. How did your family's and partners deal with it?

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Amanda George

Steve's (the hubby) reaction/conversation went something like this after I'd informed him that I'd "found the missing part of me"

 

Steve: "yeah, right, whatever Amanda"

Me: "I mean it... as of an hour ago I've found a religion that was almost written for me"

S: "I didn't think you believed in God"

M: "I don't. That's why this religion is written for me... I can believe in one God or lots of Gods or none at all. It's not a sexist religion either, there are Goddesses too!"

S: "Hmmm"

M: "I'm serious, Steven, I won't try and convert you as long as you respect my beliefs"

S: "I just don't want you to be conned out of all your money or anything"

M: "I won't be... Paganism is a religion, not a pack of con artists! Paganism was around before Christianity!"

S: "Tree hugger!" said with a wink and broad grin

M: "Nah, crystal, nature and animal loving Pagan" said with a wink and my tongue sticking out.

 

et voila!

 

My mum was pretty much the same, but quietly and subtly asking questions to find out more instead of voicing them as they came to her like Steve.

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Pearlbrook

My parents were initially horrified. The reaction was one of "but isn't Paganism dangerous/silly/crazy/nonsense/created a bunch of loonies?" Now they seem ok with it, I assume because I haven't turned into a demon, burned the house down, gone broke because of it, or shaved off all my hair and staged protests in the meat aisle of supermarkets (they have a thing against vegetarians/vegans for some unknown reason).

 

Otherwise, it's mostly been cautious interest from friends and others who've found out.

 

I think the key things that can make it easier for people to digest are: talking about what you're actually interested in and basically trying to allay any obvious fears about it that you feel you can honestly address; and giving them time to adjust to the extra parts of your life. The fact that your husband's reaction centers around an ex suggests that it has more to do with his issues than your religion - maybe he is afraid of losing you? Maybe he blames Paganism for the ending of his last relationship and thinks the same will happen with you? Maybe he thinks it was a cover story for the affair? Who knows how people's brains work sometimes! But proving that you're still *you* and still with him and still normal (insomuch as anyone is normal :P) over time without trying to hide your interests is probably what will make a difference.

 

I hope everything goes ok. Give him time. Hopefully he will surprise you :)

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Veggie dancer

Well it still remains to be seen what my family think of it !!!

But my partner basically knows.. Though I don't think he really knows quite how 'into' it I am.. (He doesn't know about the Valley) though I do chat with him about my thoughts about the universe, gods, magic and this or that I've come across on the Internet but I don't really label it 'paganism' and if I decided to go to a moot or join a grove/covern or something, I think he would be pretty surprised and I'm not sure what he would think exactly.. To be honest he is a very open minded person and is also pretty unconventional in his beliefs (thinks we are decended from aliens and sees ghosts) so he would be cool with it I'm sure.. I'm the paranoid one, I think because growing up my family were practicing Catholics I never felt able to share my religious thoughts/disagreements so talking about that kind of thing in general makes me nervous.

 

Anyway.. It does sound like most of his worries are based on what his ex was like and what she did. Maybe you can try having conversations just sharing with each other what your beliefs are, what beliefs you were brought up with, 'something you read online about some theory or other' without labelling anything unnecessarily. Perhaps you will find common ground or even if you don't you will hopefully get to understand one another better because of it :) that tactic seems to be working out quite well for me anyway ;)

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Maeve

My parents have both passed over but were evangelical christians - they never knew and I would never have told them. The rest of my family is OK - mildly curious and slightly interested but that is all. My husband is probably the most pagan person I have ever known having grown up in the wilds of rural North Norfolk, running wild to such an extent that he and his sister nowadays would have been taken into care for lack of junior schooling, if they were doing what they did then :) - so no problem there - in fact we met through the Pagan Federation, over 21 years ago!

 

I am careful whom I tell at all times!

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Isrith

Speaking only from my own experience here. I am not saying that any of the following is inevitable.

 

For the most part I have found people raised within a mainly Christian culture/society have no real frame of reference for paganism or witchcraft and, when it comes to alternative belief structures, they have learned to be afraid of what they don't understand. Many will only have encountered paganism or witchcraft via the media - newspapers, tv shows, movies - all of which are based on making profit and the more shocking or sensational something is, the greater that profit.

 

Therefore attempting to "educate" someone about paganism or witchcraft - especially if in order to try and keep a harmonious relationship - can become incredibly frustrating and sometimes frighteningly surprising.

 

Even if a person doesn't attend church or ever mention [the christian] God in their daily life, it doesn't necessarily follow that they will be willing to dismiss the common notion that paganism equals "The Devil". Thereby linking all pagans with [the christian] devil, his worship, and various other dark and nefarious deeds. The whole idea of paganism and witchcraft frightens and threatens some folk to an unreal degree and sometimes brings out. . . well, I'll just say, potentially harmful behaviour.

 

Again, I remind you that I am speaking only from my own experience.

 

Before entering into open conversation with someone on the topic of paganism and/or witchcraft - let alone admitting to pagan beliefs - we should probably remember that this is a door many have never wanted to open for want of some unrealistic fear of what may lie behind it. Forcing them to look often results in the most unforseen and unexpected reactions - not all of which are negative, but it is a gamble you take at that point.

 

 

Edited by Isrith
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Guest Ladybird2015

I came from a Catholic background on my mothers side... i was always told 'we love no matter what, you can always talk to us'.

Well i did inform my family gently dropping hints over time, and then when asked if i was a Witch, i answered that i was a practising Pagan still finding my Path.

They're reaction was that i was put through an' intervention'..a room full of 20 or so concerned Fellow Christians who tried to 'Correct' my decision. It was made clear i could not Leave till they were satisfied with me...

It was even discussed (in front of me) to be taken to a Priest to see if i needed to be Exorcised?!

I am aware this doesn't happen often..but it can...it's not pleasant and it won't kill you, but it will leave marks on the inside and can destroy relationships.

Pagans are Not fully Understood i agree..but part of me feels that deep down Our Christian friends are too Dogmatic to really have any long term tolerance for us.

But this is just My experience...not the Norm i think. Thank goodness.

I agree with Isrith on this one... i would tread carefully, once this door is 'Opened' it can never be shut.

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Freydis

My husband describes himself as atheist and has no problems with pagans. He has problems with some Christians and Muslims (basically anybody who tells him he should be believe) but not pagans. I was a pagan before I met him so it was always part of the package so as to say.

 

My father started life as a Lutheran Christian, but over the years that morphed into CofE, and by the end of his life he described himself as a pantheist who enjoyed the Cof E services. He was very pagan-friendly - verging on the pagan himself in some respects.

 

I have a difficult relationship with my mother. but that's nothing to do with my being pagan. She's CofE, but not very fervently so. I suspect that for her it's a matter of a social community as much as anything else. To be fair to her (which I find difficult, I admit) any interest she's expressed in my beliefs has always come from quite a positive direction and I think that she's broadly sympathetic to paganism. It probably helps that her local vicar is very into inter-faith dialogue and actively seeks to include pagans in that.

 

I guess I'm lucky in that I've never really experienced any antagonism or prejudice from family and friends. I don't proclaim my paganism to the world - I never have done - but I don't keep it secret. Most of the people I work with probably have no idea that I'm pagan, but then, I couldn't tell you what their religious beliefs are either. If it comes up in conversation I might mention it, but I find that most of the time it doesn't.

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Veggie dancer

I agree with Isrith on this one... i would tread carefully, once this door is 'Opened' it can never be shut.

 

Hmmm, this is probably true, and as ladybird and Isrith said when it comes to sharing your paganism with family not every outcome will be a positive one.

But I think in the case of a partner (you can't choose your parents).. Well for me anyway.. I wouldn't want to face the rest of my life with someone who I had to COMPLETELY hide my beliefs from. Either you give up on practicing your paganism in any way apart from in your mind Or you manage to do it anyway and hide things, but what if somehow they find out about pagan people you have met with/ pagan events you gave been to, books or websites you have looked at? If you are with someone who you think would react violently or aggressively to discovering your paganism would you not just live in fear?

 

I think it's important for you to figure out where he really stands on beliefs in general, his own, his views on people who think differently from him (not necessarily by actually 'coming out of the broom closet' or anything) so you can decide for yourself if and how you see a future together working.

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Pomona

I completely agree with Veggie Dancer. Knowing what your partner's beliefs and thoughts are on a whole load of key areas are fundamental to having an equal loving partnership. If you have to hide something that's important to you because it upsets him, that's his problem but it doesn't make for a fun relationship. Might be worth pointing out that you are not his ex and your spirituality is something you intend to keep exploring...

 

My husband calls himself Pagan but doesn't do any ritual or Gods or magick or anything like that. It's just how he sees the world. He wasn't when I first met him, but he gained a deeper understanding of what Paganism is, and through that a deeper understanding of himself, through our relationship.

 

My parents didn't react well - no, let me rephrase that - my mother didn't take the news well - she went into full drama queen mode about how I'd be damned for eternity, I was a godless heathen, what would people say, and how I've just proved that I don't love her. Now, she's calmed down. My being Pagan is ignored completely, and we don't discuss at all. Any reference to, say, doing something for Yule, her mouth pinches and she changes the subject. She still thinks I'll convert to Christianity - has said it's her dearest, dearest wish, which just irritates me more than I can say. But then she has a very fixed world view and anything outwith that she finds distressing and challenging - and an assault on how her world should be - and she reacts accordingly.

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Nomis

My wife is a 'bit' pagan but I'm definitely more hardcore. Generally I am very cautious about who I talk to about my beliefs and like Veggie Dancer I too am paranoid. I understand all the comments from ex.Catholics/Christians.

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Moonhunter

My ex was a largely marxist atheist who took immense pleasure in claiming to be 'pagan' on any form that asked him for his religion. He was very unimpressed when i became one in reality. He felt I'd robbed him of his joke. But then, his sense of humour was limited. My current partner is a pagan himself, though, like Pomona's, not one who takes part any longer in rituals etc.

 

My father has little interest in the world outside his own concerns. As my paganism doesn't threaten those, he doesn't care. If my mother were still alive, she'd be horrified and would probably refer to it at every chance, wheedling to make me change my mind. She was the same with anything she didn't approve of. So we would have conversations along the lines of:

"You won't drive in the dark, will you? Promise me you won't."

"But I have to get to work. In the winter it's dark most of the time."

"But not when you drive?"

"Yes. I work a full day. It's dark when i got to work and dark when i go home. Do you want me to stop working?"

"No, of course not! But promise me you won't drive in the dark. I don't like to think of you driving in the dark; it upsets me."

So you can imagine what the conversations about paganism might have been like. :P

 

I was always careful with my staff never to refer to magic or witchcraft. I only ever referred to Heathenry. They thought me odd, but harmless. I have never had cause to discuss it at work during the half a dozen years.

 

Basically, I'm no good at hiding anything asbout myself, and don't see the point in doing so. on the other hand, I won't shout about it, either. So it then becomes a matter of working through the issues, if someone has a problem. A wee bit trying if the other person is one's partner, but not impossible. Two people, however much in love, can't think the same about everything. There are always disagreements to be worked through. And surely the freedom to believe what one wishes is important?

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NorseNephilim

My parents know I am into some stuff that confuses them, but that ultimately they are not too bothered about. I've never explained to them that I am pagan, though it might have cropped up in passing. Mainly because I don't want to have to explain the whole thing to them (and then over again to aunts and uncles, etc). I know they accept me for who I am (mostly - Mum wishes I'd cut my hair and shave - but everything else is okay with her).

 

My partner really embraced paganism when she met me and now she is probably more heathen than I am - though we don't really do too much by way of rituals and such.

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Fortuna

Well I more or less grew up with my wife and she has always been with me whilst I make my spiritual journey. She is not a Pagan, but it has never been an issue. She takes the piss out me occasionally referring to my voodoo or running around naked, but she is simply taking the piss and I like it.

 

I don't hide what I am into and any Facebook friend can easily work out what I am. I've never discussed it with my parents, but it's not a problem. In fact I feel I have got a lot of my approach to nature from my Dad who seems to me to be one of the most Pagan people I know (he just doesn't know it). None of my non pagan FB friends have ever mentioned it (although some have wished me a happy Yule which says something doesn't it).

 

I think I used to take this state of affairs for granted, but hearing the experiences of others over the years I have come to realise just how lucky I am really. I cannot imagine ever feeling the need to hide what I am and have no interest in people who would judge me for my beliefs.

 

Mike

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Earthdragon

I don't feel the need to hide my practice and all my friends know about my Druidism.

 

My partner practices Buddhism and started to also share in the Druid ways last year. I feel lucky to have a partner that I can bounce ideas off and share elements of my practice with.

 

Maybe you will be able to talk about your beliefs in the long run - especially when he sees that you haven't become "freaky and weird".

 

Good luck.

 

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ShadowWalker

Hi, i borrowed a book on crystal healing from the library. My husband flipped when he saw it, saying that his ex went into all this "weird stuff" when she was having an affair on him. He said she started doing spells against him to make him leave etc. I hadn't even mentioned anything about looking into paganism, but he said she went to see a friend who was a witch and he found it all freaky and weird. So now I feel completely knocked off course with my journey. I won't ever be able to show paganism if I decide to follow it and feel that I'm going to have to hide it. How did your family's and partners deal with it?

 

It's all about acceptance - if someone loves you enough they will accept you for who you are regardless of your imperfections or oddities - as long as they aren't murderous in nature I suppose. RE paganism - it's not freaky or weird, and if you have a partner that thinks that it is then maybe you should try to just sit down and have a civilised chat with them. Failing that, smash them over the head with something heavy? Nah don't do that, just kidding. Just try to talk to your partner, maybe they're just paranoid due to past transgressions committed by this evil ex! Most of us have one!

 

Me... my family don't know but that is because I'm not at home very much. My girlfriend knows and she is very open minded about it. I know for a fact my sister wouldn't mind, but I don't know about the parents. They'd have to accept it though, I'm not going to change for them or anyone else!

 

I hope you resolve things soon Helen :) Waes Hael!

 

SW

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peapod

My ex was a Christian and knew about my beliefs as we met through a mutual pagan friend, but although my ex claimed to accept my path it emerged a few years later that my ex was lying and hated it. As the in laws were fundamentalist I was discreet and they assumed I was a hippy. Never discussed my path with my family directly but have had many conversations with them about pagan related stuff so I reckon they know but are too polite to ask. My friends and work colleagues that know my beliefs have either guessed or asked and the usual response from them is "I thought so..." and they are usually too pleased with themselves to be worried! I've had a couple of people say they will pray for my salvation, and I usually respond by asking them to pray for someone in poverty, or caught up in war instead of wasting their prayer on me which usually stops them from going on about it. To be honest I've never had a really negative response which is as it should be.

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ShadowWalker

My ex was a Christian and knew about my beliefs as we met through a mutual pagan friend, but although my ex claimed to accept my path it emerged a few years later that my ex was lying and hated it. As the in laws were fundamentalist I was discreet and they assumed I was a hippy. Never discussed my path with my family directly but have had many conversations with them about pagan related stuff so I reckon they know but are too polite to ask. My friends and work colleagues that know my beliefs have either guessed or asked and the usual response from them is "I thought so..." and they are usually too pleased with themselves to be worried! I've had a couple of people say they will pray for my salvation, and I usually respond by asking them to pray for someone in poverty, or caught up in war instead of wasting their prayer on me which usually stops them from going on about it. To be honest I've never had a really negative response which is as it should be.

 

I've had some more varied responses. I don't tend to tell people but if they figure it out then I do tell them. But not many people have figured it out so it remains to be seen! My worst response however, is this. I was accosted by a street preacher over Yule while walking from work. Safe to say that he wasn't very nice when he saw my amulet round my neck. He got rather aggressive, telling me that I would burn in hell for being an evil man who practises evil things. (I am being very polite here just so you know). I very nearly rounded on him but thought better of it lol!

 

I walked on but it got me rather annoyed and upset so it stayed with me for a few days afterwards. I make even more of an effort to avoid street preachers now.

 

WH

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Maeve

 

I very nearly rounded on him but thought better of it lol!

 

I walked on but it got me rather annoyed and upset so it stayed with me for a few days afterwards. I make even more of an effort to avoid street preachers now.

 

WH

 

I would have said, as calmly as possible: "I pass back to you your ill-feeling and aggressive words - may they hurt you as much as you intended them to hurt me ..." and then walk on :)

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Amanda George

Can I steal that for use with my sister-in-law please Naomi... she's not a nice person to me and I get blamed for everything so usually do my best to avoid her but having something to say to her would stop her in her tracks hopefully! :)

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ShadowWalker

 

I very nearly rounded on him but thought better of it lol!

 

I walked on but it got me rather annoyed and upset so it stayed with me for a few days afterwards. I make even more of an effort to avoid street preachers now.

 

WH

 

I would have said, as calmly as possible: "I pass back to you your ill-feeling and aggressive words - may they hurt you as much as you intended them to hurt me ..." and then walk on :)

 

I could have you're right, in hindsight I could have said some brilliant things but at the time I didnt think of them which is a shame!

 

Waes Hael

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Maeve

I very nearly rounded on him but thought better of it lol!

 

I walked on but it got me rather annoyed and upset so it stayed with me for a few days afterwards. I make even more of an effort to avoid street preachers now.

 

WH

 

I would have said, as calmly as possible: "I pass back to you your ill-feeling and aggressive words - may they hurt you as much as you intended them to hurt me ..." and then walk on :)

 

I could have you're right, in hindsight I could have said some brilliant things but at the time I didnt think of them which is a shame!

 

Waes Hael

 

Aha - and isn't it often the case that we think of the clever... witty .. pertinent retort long after the event ? :lol:

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Wolfwind

My partner knew that I was a Pagan when we first met. She has been joined me in the celebration a number of times but her heart was not realy in it. She is a christian and likes the church stuff. The celebrating the turning of the wheel has become difficult. But there you go, its just me now. My folks well whatever I tell them does not sink in,and never has done, so I just leave it alone now.

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Ellinas

Regarding my wife - I'll let you all know once she knows (or at least admits to knowing).

 

Regarding my green-eyed mother who saw my deceased father approximately 48 hours after his death (apparently he walked into their bedroom and waved goodbye), she is elderly and wedded to a non-doctrinaire form of Christianity. I won't lay this one on her. She can find out when she joins my Dad...

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Maeve

She can find out when she joins my Dad...

 

... whichis what happened to me! My Dad returned briefly to me in a dream, not long after he died, giving every indication that he knows and understands - my Mum joined him some 12 years later and I know that she too will understand although she already had an inkling before she died! Both parents were evangelical christians and there was no way they could have accepted that I am a witch in their lifetimes on earth and so I never did explain.

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Veggie dancer

well... I shall soon have to have some sort of discussion with my parents about the reasons I shall not be getting married in Church... will be seeing them possibly this weekend!! or the next one :o !!! wish me luck!!! aaaggggh!

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Amanda George

Veggie - could you just say that you're not Christian so getting married in Church just feels wrong to you? That's what I did :-)

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Isrith
well... I shall soon have to have some sort of discussion with my parents about the reasons I shall not be getting married in Church... will be seeing them possibly this weekend!! or the next one :o !!! wish me luck!!! aaaggggh!

 

I hope it goes much more smoothly for you than anticipated! x :)

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Ellinas

Veggie - "good luck!"

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Ellinas

She can find out when she joins my Dad...

 

... whichis what happened to me! My Dad returned briefly to me in a dream, not long after he died, giving every indication that he knows and understands - my Mum joined him some 12 years later and I know that she too will understand although she already had an inkling before she died! Both parents were evangelical christians and there was no way they could have accepted that I am a witch in their lifetimes on earth and so I never did explain.

 

Interesting. She maintained it was not a dream. My own experience of dreams concerning my father are not quite so positive - primarily I think because he tended to be - albeit benevolently - a quite controlling character, and the dreams, at least initially, involved my telling him in no uncertain terms to lay off.

 

Then again, sometimes dreams are just dreams, I suppose...

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