I am one of the few lucky ones. I was raised by two open-minded parents. My dad came from a small mountain town in Michoacan, Mexico & was fairly superstitious. My mom was into Edgar Cayce, reincarnation, tarot & mediums. Dinner conversation often visited the topics of angels, ghosts, & whether or not extraterrestrials & Bigfoot are real.
Most aren’t so fortunate.
What do you do when your family just doesn’t understand? Worse, what do you do if certain family members decide to belittle or shun you? Believing in the paranormal or practicing Wicca or some other “new age” brand of spirituality can be self-ostracizing enough because the majority of society looks down its nose at such things. Most people deal with that by being quiet about their beliefs when out in mixed company. However, when that mixed company consists of members of your own family, what do you do?
Speaking from personal experience, I was very blessed to never run into this problem until I got married. Up until then my parents were fine with it & when I began to practice Wicca at the age of 18 after having been raised Catholic my parents looked at my books (Mom even ordered her own copies of the first two I read: Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, and Silver RavenWolf’s To Ride a Silver Broomstick) & said there was nothing evil or negative in them so to just be careful what I read & to not forget the morals & ethics with which I had been raised. My friends thought it was “cool” to have a “witch” as a friend so all was good.
Then I got married & things changed.
My husband comes from a very politically & spiritually conservative family here in Texas. He was raised born again Southern Baptist, which is as fundamental as you can get without actually being a Christian Fundamentalist. Now, when we began to seriously date I showed him my books on Wicca & Tarot. His response was simple, but to the point. I will never forget what he said:
“As long as you’re a good person & you don’t use this knowledge to hurt anyone, I don’t care.”
Why can’t everyone be like my husband? Here he is having been raised in a VERY conservative home, yet he was willing to see past all the stereotypes and really see ME THE PERSON, not the labels of “witch,” “card reader,” “Tarot reader,” “new age nut,” and so on down the list. Why is it others can’t be accepting of beliefs & spiritual practices foreign to them as long as they’re not being used to hurt or harm anyone? WHY?
I guess it mainly comes from fear. Fear of the unknown or fear of what people do not understand. Movies and TV sure haven’t helped. You don’t have to look far to find a lot of movies that have negative portrayals of witches, card readers, and so on. Religious society paints us all as being of the devil & love quoting that Biblical passage from the Book of Exodus (22:18 is where you’ll find the exact passage) “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” The original translation was either “poisoner” (which was a real problem in Biblical times) or, it can mean someone who whispers spells, but in order to do harm (see link for further info). King James lived in the midst of the witch scare that is now known as the Burning Times. He and his panel of scholars revised the Bible (hence the King James version we have today) & inserted the word “witch” into this verse. Yet today, churches really go to town harping on this & claiming we are all evil. I won’t lie. Some are, but most of us aren’t, myself included. I have never performed any dark magic, nor will I ever. What I tell my clients is this: no matter how evil or how negative something is that was done or sent to you, it can ALWAYS be undone by POSITIVE magic, and that’s what I do.
So how do you get past all this crap with your own family? Well, I can only tell you what I did & share information based on my own experience. The issue was with my husband’s family, none of my blood relatives were ever a problem, I guess because I’m Mexican-American. The majority of Mexicans are raised Catholic, and people can say what they want about the Catholic Church (I’ve said plenty myself as I am not happy with them), however, you won’t find another more spiritually open religion than Catholicism. They venerate the Mother of Christ as the Mother of God, and the veneration of Mary is what lead me to Wicca in the first place.
My inlaws are both college-educated & my father-in-law is a former school district superintendent. They have a fine standing in their community. They are also very conservative and used to doing things a certain way, their way. So when I came along I realized immediately that I should not discuss my spirituality around them unless I wanted to end up in huge arguments that would only cause stress between myself and my fiance who then became my husband.
Over the years, however, it became increasingly apparent to them that my outlook on religion and spirituality is very different from their own. I married in 1994 and began working at a new age shop in 1996, then left there in 1998 & began my internet business, Magickal-Musings. When I began my business they were naturally curious since I wasn’t holding a regular 9-to-5 job. They also felt it was wrong of me from an economic standpoint to put all the financial stress on my husband, but if he was okay with it, I sure wasn’t going to argue with him since I am so NOT the type of person who can work 9-5 for someone else. I’ve
always been a free spirit in that regard.
As time passed & they checked out my site, they could see there was nothing negative there, yet they didn’t approve. I could see it in their eyes plain as day, but I have been blessed in that they have been very kind about it. They never blasted me, never told me I must change in order to fit their mold of what a good Christian should be (and I do consider myself a Christian, I love Jesus Christ, view him as GOD INCARNATE, & view Mary as the Goddess Herself Incarnate & I attend church fairly regularly), but once in a while they will joke at my expense, especially my father-in-law, who really does have an awesome sense of humor, but I don’t appreciate it when it’s directed at my beliefs.
My in-laws’ main concern was how would we raise our children? Would they be raised Christians? Wiccans? What? This really bothered my mother-in-law who would often ask me, especially after our daughter was born. I told her I was raising her in the most important way I knew how: TO BE A GOOD PERSON & TO BE A CONTRIBUTING MEMBER OF SOCIETY. I told her that was my primary concern as a parent & that religion didn’t factor into it at that point.
Now, as she got a bit older and could begin to understand what I was doing with all my candle lighting, spiritually cleansing our house, & talking to beings she could not see (years later she told me she would often see Archangel Michael with me as I spoke to him so I have stood corrected on my assumption of all those years ago that she could not see them!), I became concerned. A child raised with certain practices in their home considers that normal, however, I knew the rest of society at large did (and still does) not consider what I do to be anywhere close to the “norm” and it may never do so. I began to worry that as she got older how would she express her spirituality? Should I teach her myself? Start taking her to church?
My husband and I met in a Christian non-denominational church as members of a Singles Bible Study group (more than half the group members ended up marrying each other within a 3-month time span of our weddings so I’d say that group was VERY successful!!). I was not adverse to taking my child to church and I also realized she should probably have some sort of standard Christian religion to fall back on just in case years later religion became an issue at work or with her marriage. So when she was 8 years old we began attending regularly with both of us compromising and becoming members of a Lutheran church so it wasn’t too Catholic for me or for my husband, who still considered himself Southern Baptist. I did this so my daughter could have a firm foundation in an organized religion, while also pointing out to her where her mama and the church differed on certain points.
She is now 15 & this is her freshman year in high school. At the age of 13 she taught herself to read tarot cards. When I was pregnant with her for the first 4 1/2 MONTHS I was unaware (yes, really!) & was studying for my Reiki master-teacher attunement. My own Reiki master told me to practice passing attunements by placing the symbols in my abdomen with the intentions of Reiki 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree. I was doing so repeatedly throughout the day not knowing my daughter was incubating in my womb, so my daughter is a Reiki 1st degree probably 50 times over, a Reiki 2nd degree around 20 times over, & a Reiki Master about 15 – 20 times over. When she thinks “reiki” and lays her hands on you, they can almost burn you because they get so hot. At the age of 7 she began giving her friends at school Reiki when they would fall on the playground and get hurt. Many of those kids over the years who have come to our house either to play or for Halloween have told me about my daughter’s “hot hands” and how much she has helped them.
As a mother I couldn’t be more proud. As a Reiki master-teacher who has not taught my daughter much directly about Reiki, I am stunned at how strong she is. Yet, she also knows about Wicca to a certain extent (I have not been actively teaching her, but will probably next year when she turns 16), is an excellent tarot reader (and now Lenormand!) herself, a Christian who loves Jesus, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, my daughter is a truly GOOD PERSON.
Being a good person should be everyone’s Number 1 concern. As long as your family sees you do good your religion, spiritual practices & beliefs should NEVER MATTER. If it does matter to your family members and has caused problems in the past, my advice is this:
Try to simply enjoy family gatherings and do not bring up your spirituality unless someone unjustly attacks you because of it, then by all means stand up for YOURSELF, but do not waste your time defending your spirituality to those who do not believe because until their own eyes are opened by a Power greater than you, they simply will never understand.
When your spirituality does come under attack, I know this is VERY difficult, but try not to take it PERSONALLY. Most of the time, these people are not attacking YOU, they are attacking what you believe & practice.
Know in your heart as long as you are not using your religion, spiritual beliefs or practices to harm or manipulate anyone, then you are DOING NOTHING WRONG. Pray for those who do not believe that they open their eyes and can at least become more civil towards you or even – in time – somewhat accepting.
Also, please realize that although your parents raised you & you spent a good part of your life with your siblings, the people who should matter the most to you as an adult are your children, grand-children and your spouse/significant other. I pray they are tolerant toward your beliefs, because in the end they are who really matters.
Mainly, please realize you are a person of worth, just like any staunch Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Hindu is. Stand firm in your beliefs, but also do not impose them on others although others most likely will certainly attempt to impose their beliefs on you. Walk your path with grace, harmony, and most of all LOVE so that you serve as a good example to others regardless of your spirituality or theirs.
Wishing you all many blessings,
Nefer Khepri, PhD., R.M-T.