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Top 10 Problems of Being A Small Town Pagan

This post was written by Elysia
on March 26, 2010 | Comments (84)

As an added bonus to our interview with author Bronwen Forbes, I asked her to make up a list of the top ten difficulties of living in a small town as a Pagan. She commented, “I swear I am not making any of these up in full — all are based on actual comments or my own experiences!” Here then, are her Top 10 Problems of Being a Small Town Pagan:

10. Wondering whether or not you should ask your 5th grade teacher (who is also the town seamstress) to make your ritual robes.

 9. Being visited by the Gnome Liberation Front because your front yard is overpopulated with the little ceramic buggers.

8. Having to drive 150 miles one way for incense charcoal — and then realizing you also need the incense to go with it when you’re halfway home.

7. Trying to explain to a horse’s owner just what you’re going to do with her horse’s used shoes — and she’s been your best friend since kindergarten and knows darn well you don’t like to play horseshoes.

6. The funny looks from your neighbors because you have the most decorated house on the block for Halloween and you barely manage to put a wreath on your door for Christmas.

5. For newcomers — getting lost a lot because everyone tells you how to get somewhere by actually using the four directions and you’ve only ever used the four directions in ritual.

4. Realizing you’re allergic to the wheat stalks you’ve brought inside to decorate your house for Lammas.

3. Forgetting to change out of ritual garb after attending a Pagan festival and having to explain to your busybody old neighbor that you really have been camping for the weekend when you get out of the car in robes (forgetting to put on clothes after the same festival is worse!).

2. Dating. Enough said.

1. When your town library shares space with the local tanning salon and the term “sun-worshipper” takes on a whole new meaning for a bookworm like you.

What about you? What are your pet peeves or your trials and tribulations of living in a small town? Share with us!

Reader Comments

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#1 
Written By Diane
on March 2nd, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

I cannot find friends with my same beliefs,I would like guidence, and information from an elder, but where do you go looking? certainly not in the yellow pages. Also being teased that I worship the devil, and that coexsist bumper sticker where is the pentagram? All what I believe in can be seen. The earth is right below my feet, and all that lives plants animals ect can be seen so as the stars moon sun and sky…also my grip is no enough shops around to walk into when you need something, got to order it online. I get all excited when I see someone wearing a pentagram, and wanna get to talking but it is in a business, where there is a line to wait in, so no time for chatting.Just feel alone in my faith

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#2 
Written By Jen
on March 30th, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

I live in a small town off of the West Branch of the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania. I have been living here for 11 years now, practicing for 14. The closest store recently relocated, and another store is claimed “Christain” but an herbal/metaphysical store. I loved the list, find it true, and very funny. For me and my family the hardest part about living here and going to school is all of the comments made to each of us when we are out shopping for groceries. I wear my pentacle proudly, along with gemstone jewlery that I have had (and worn) for much longer. My mother is a Christain Witch, and recieves many (either nice, or quite nasty) comments about who I hang out with, what I do in my spare time, and why I am not more involved with the community. Which all leads back to the mass number of churches in our area. I love my family, who I am, and what I do. I just wish people would be more tolerant, and think before they speak.

Blessed Be,

Jen

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#3 
Written By Wendy
on April 6th, 2011 @ 8:41 am

I live in Parry Sound, Ontario Canada. Population-6000 (approx). Just in the last year one of our ‘downtown’ stores, Somewhere in Time, opened a section of ‘new age’ products. 🙂 She is doing a great job providing products I used to have to drive an hour or so to find.

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#4 
Written By earth angel
on April 16th, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

I guess I am lucky. I never hide. I have worn my huge pentagram necklace to court (I was there for WORK) and no one had a problem with that.

I have moved to a small town but have not interacted with too many of the locals. Just a few for Sacred Circle Dance but I don’t know if they are pagans or not. This is a small group.

Now the larger group in the dance/arts center, they are pagans. At least some of them.

On dating, do what I did, go out with a Native American. You will have something in common: love for Nature, respect for Mother Earth, and celebrate in ritual/ceremony.

On discrimination, my accent (I was not born here but hold citizenship) brings more of it than wearing my star.

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#5 
Written By earth angel
on April 16th, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

Just read some more articles and need to comment. I grew up in a country where people beat their drums on Friday and went to Mass on Sunday.

A very Catholic country, but my family is from Italy, and I am fourth generation Strega. Magic was always part of my life.

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#6 
Written By Zach
on May 1st, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

Ok as an electice pagan I run into the problem of who I should talk to in my small town a prist has tried to convert me but I getallong fine I just want to meat others like myself I must say though paganism I on a start in Eldorado springs MO but still no one to share whith what you belive

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#7 
Written By GaiaLover
on May 18th, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

I find it encouraging to read all the voices here.. all of us OUT THERE, being OURSELVES, in the midst of all of the people who would have us silenced, or at least, put back in “line” with whatever they think we SHOULD be! It makes me feel warm inside to know that you are all out there, candles in the night.. or better yet, lightening bugs.. lighting up your little corner of the world with Pagan one-ness with All That Is. And thanks be to Goddess we can connect through the Internet. I do wish there was a group that I could connect to in person, but I will just continue on my solitary way and maybe one day, that will happen.

Stay True to Yourself.

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#8 
Written By Melanie
on August 6th, 2011 @ 9:33 am

There are both pros and cons to living in a small community. I have been shunned by people I thought I knew. It is difficult to find needed supplies. If you do find other pagans in your community, it is frustrating when you find that for some reason you are not socially or magically compatible. I do find it lonely. It is also difficult to keep my young kids quiet about our beliefs. I do fear that they will be mistreated for being different. The interesting thing is that it is the adults in our community that I fear, not the children.

On a positive note, you find that you need to rely on yourself more than others and that makes one very resourceful. Since you can’t go out and buy things you need, you tend to learn much about your own ecological spaces and how to work with your own correspondences and flora. Also, I feel very blessed to be surrounded in the bounty of nature. We are surrounded in forests, lakes, rivers, and even a small mountain. Our kids are growing up observing nature all around them rather than learning strictly from books and using things found on shelves.

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#9 
Written By Lisha
on August 22nd, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

The Dating comment…so perfect! We have so many redneck wanna be cowboys here that I feel fortunate I find those qualities thoroughly unattractive because the right wing values that accompany them are far too intolerant to be safe around. I couldn’t imagine having a couple dates then one of these men sitting down in my living room and seeing my bookcases… And THEN having to explain what I believe… What a mess that would be. A good non redneck man is hard enough to find in Arizona, let alone adding alternative religion to the mix.
I am far from in the broom closet, but I am also cautious about what I say and to whom. I haven’t had the issues or been through the horror stories of many of my pagan/witchy friends although I am not sure why not… But I am glad to have avoided it all because I have heard of some truely scary horrid mean things happening to some of us in Flagstaff!

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#10 
Written By Chanel
on August 23rd, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

My Get Out of Hell Free card.

My favorite conversation in my small town went like this:

Friend: go to church with us.
Me: I withdrew from the god lottery I didn’t like the odds. I don’t do church anymore.
Friend: Were you ever saved?
Me: I think so a couple of times, although not sure what I was saved from.
Friend: well there you go, once saved always saved.

I feel so lucky to have an out… (insert a big azz eye roll).

New Pentacle on a quarter moon with stars, ink’d on my bicep. Friends ask “Is that there a Mason sign?”, I reply “I am female, I can’t be a Mason according to ya’ll.”

I will stop here. LOL!

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#11 
Written By Lavendarose
on September 1st, 2011 @ 7:25 am

The list is a good start but doesn’t even begin to cover it all. My biggest problem is that my kids have few friends at school because they don’t go to church which is the social engine here. The other social event is watching people destroy the environment in their trucks. (Mudding) No thank you! It’s lonely being a peace-loving, tree-hugging bleeding-heart pagan liberal in a small southern town!

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#12 
Written By Heddy Johannesen
on September 22nd, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

Once I wore a beautiful Baroness gown to a Witches Ball that took place a week after Samhain. I wore a beautiful gold crown and a black wool cloak that I was gifted with to be warm. At the party, the regulars at the bar made fun of the pagan partyers and my heart went out to them. I think the party should have been held at the time of Samhain but that’s my opinion. While I was waiting for the cab, a man saw me and called me the grim reaper. I had wrapped my cloak around me to be warm. It’s a shame people don’t look deeper to see who you really are.
Blessings!

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#13 
Written By JW Hammontree
on October 17th, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

Being a Christian ceremonial magickian is even worse than being Pagan. We get anti-Christian sentiment from the Pagans yet are constantly reminded by main-stream Christians that we’ll be at the stake with the Pagans for our heresies. I’ve never understood how someone who suffers from the common ignorance of the masses can turn around and do the exact same thing to other beliefs. Have some respect. You don’t have to agree with it, but please don’t mock and don’t condemn others for what they believe.

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#14 
Written By Stephanie Junca
on October 23rd, 2011 @ 10:30 am

I grew up knowing that I had a special gift and I felt a deep connection to the earth. I remember always saying that my favourite colors were green and brown because they were earthy. Of course my sister who makes fun of everything different said I liked boogers and poop but what can you expect from. 10 year old?
I lived half my life in a suburb outside of Memphis, TN where we went to Catholic mass every Sunday. At the age of 8, I began openly questioning the Catholic church. My main qualm with their teachings was if god was everywhere then why did we have to go to church to talk to him or see him and be surrounded by people just trying to make face. Parents didn’t listen.
I later moved to a small planned community south of Atlanta, GA where I had to continue going to mass every Sunday. I was made to do the sacraments including confirmation where I had to go on a retreat to learn the ways of the lord. Luckily on that retreat I met two girls who felt the same way I did about the church. One in particular had a christopagan parents. She introduced me to tarot and the old ways. At 15 I began to do my own research and bought books on the subject. My mom one day got a hold of them and threw them away without my consent. I told her she owed me money but then she pointed out that she gave me the money that I bought those books with so I figured we were even there. But still it bothered me that she couldn’t even talk to me about it instead she would go behind my back to do that.
Luckily though when it comes to friends I haven’t had many issues. I wear my pentacle charm necklace every day and people always comment on how beautiful it is. I have a tattoo on my shoulder symbolising my faith and people always say it looks cool. Though I just figure these comments are made because they don’t really know what those things mean they just find them interesting and pretty. My last boyfriend was very supportive of my beliefs even though he is Christian. He liked going through my craft drawer to look at everything and ask me questions about it. He would read my books too and asked me to do certain rituals with him. I feel that I’ve been pretty blessed in that regard. Unfortunately though my family is t as supportive but they’re starting to finally realize that what I do is not in any way related to the devil because to me he doesn’t exist. Im happy to say that my mom has definitely become more open to my beliefs but she still on random occasions tries to make me pray with her or go to church with her.
I think a lot of times what affects the way people react to your faith is the way you portray it through your own personal actions. It would be nice if everyone was open minded to all religions but unfortunately I know that will never be the case. And that’s why Llewellyn and all the other new age book publishers are here to help people be more educated about other religions and belief systems.

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#15 
Written By Sharon Gibbs
on November 2nd, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

I’ve found growing up in a very small town that soo many people that closed-minded and only until I got older and worked for a Fed. agency did people find it odd but came to me for readings or help with “wierd stuff” like dreams and ghosts or if i could bind someone..go figure..never hid what i am and if anyone was misimformed in what I BELIEVED clarified very quickly but kindly..not everyone will accept you for what you are or believe but just be you FOR YOU and BE HAPPY!!!!
Merry Meet and Merry Part and Merry Meet Again
Sharon :o)

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#16 
Written By Trish
on December 6th, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

List is too Funny. I can really relate to most of them. I come from a very christian/catholic family. I have been asked about if I could be reincarnated as a pet gold fish by one aunt and my other aunt won’t let her kids around me, since I might steal their souls.

I also used to get into trouble a lot when the librarian would call my parents about the reading materials I would try to check out from the public library. I was finally band from the public library at age 12 for reading to many books on Witchcraft and Paganism.

I usually walk away at their prejudice and ignorance.

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#17 
Written By Mamatoad
on January 7th, 2012 @ 12:09 am

My 11 year old son who has Aspbergers is Openly Pagan in 5th grade ~ and has taught his special-ed group of roudy guys how to ground and center when they are over stimulated or stressed ~ he goes to middle school next year ~ the teacher said she will miss him !

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#18 
Written By Dar
on January 7th, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

To Joe the Christian, thanks for posting- so glad there are Christians like you out there, wish they were all like you! It definitely helps to remember they’re not all bad.
To Mamatoad, the story about your son is so nice! Sounds like he was able to help his buddies.

Ok, small town pagan story… grew up in a town of about 5,000, nothing but churches and you’re lucky if you can find the well-hidden synagogue by the river. In high school, the school goth came to me to learn about “other religions” (that was pretty cool actually! Kind of an honor), and the town Bible thumper came up to me while I was sitting on a bench with an ice cream, she grabbed my arm, pulled me around a corner and told me not to wear Satan’s necklace… I was wearing a Qabalistic tree of life necklace, she clearly didn’t know what she was talking about!

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#19 
Written By Tony
on February 28th, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

Whenever you’re in the minority, you’ll always have pressure from the majority to conform. This is life. The degree to which you face discrimination depends on just how cohesive that majority is and how much you are perceived to be a threat. Everybody is harassed by Jehovah’s Witnesses, comes with the territory.

Some of us Christians are very intolerant, some are very tolerant, because we’re people and people sin (gotta remind my Christian friends of this all the time). I’m Catholic, but Italian Catholic and the old country ways contain a lot of mysticism (read Raven Grimassi’s book on Italian Witchcraft for reference).

No one should have to be subjected to the type of discrimination that some posters here have encountered. But, it isn’t going to end. Just hold your head up high and stick to your beliefs. Be careful out there and give as much respect to the supernatural that you give to nature. It realy isn’t to be treated cavalierly. That’s what scares most Christians about it. Doorways are opened and you can’t ever be absolutely sure what may come through.

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#20 
Written By Stephen in Austin
on February 29th, 2012 @ 11:59 am

#22 Sulla There is nothing “radical” about gay people wanting rights, including the right to live openly. Open your mind. Blessed be.

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#21 
Written By Laura
on March 10th, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

Blessed be to all! Although I have my own beliefs which may be completely different than yours, I believe that kindness, compassion, and above all…empathy are traits that some may be born with, and others need to learn. I also believe that where we left off in our previous life when it comes to knowledge and a certain degree of wisdom-we have returned again to re-learn and learn new lessons in this life. Hopefully I can attain some of the goals that I came to learn this time around. Of course, this entails wisdom above all. I have had trials and tribulations living in a small town, mostly because in order to meet people you need to go to one of two places (church or the bar!) So I try to remember to be kind and understanding, and remember that we are where we are in our learning and in our development. Some are ahead of others in having developed wisdom. I ‘hope’ that I am one of them! I have plans on writing a book. Much of it is based on fact–but I have to bring it down to the level of fantasy. Who? after all, would believe that these crazy ideas could be real? Too funny, isn’t it Stephen King?
Thanks for letting me share, and blessed be!
Laura

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#22 
Written By Kayla
on April 3rd, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

Well growing up a pagan in Loveland Colorado was difficult to say the least. This was a town that has more churches than probably any other town in Colorado, they are almost literally on every corner. Being out of the broom closet there was hard so I really didn’t mention my beliefs to too many people. There was one tiny little new age shop run by the most adorable and sweet lady, but she didn’t get much business and was forced to move buildings three times in as many years. I was at least blessed enough to find other pagans in the area, one being a very good friend from school. I also was lucky enough to have neighbors who didn’t question us dancing in the yard under the full moon.
I think the hardest thing was trying to explain my beliefs when confronted and having to explain that no, I don’t worship the devil, no I don’t sacrifice fluffy animals, and no, I will NOT make you a love spell. I found it really upsetting that my spirituality was always met with either suspicion and fear, or sarcastic jokes and dismissed as nothing more than a phase or non-religion.

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#23 
Written By RuthE
on April 22nd, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

I more or less got run out of a town of 2000 after opening a shop that sold hand-crafted items. Things went okay until I expanded my offerings to include magickal supplies and put a small pentacle in the window. The buzzing started, I was shunned like I was Amish, the ladies at the bank no longer smiled, and one irate Christian elder came into my shop and took notes! (While totally ignoring me.)

No one asked me about my beliefs; they all assumed the worst. Finally, my landlord evicted me because he “needed the space for a clothing depot for his church”. I moved an hour away and now share my belief system with only my closest friends. My family deals with it by never mentioning it.

I’m in my 50s and have been pagan for 32 years. I am well used to practicing as a solitary. I know live in another small town and keep my mouth shut.

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#24 
Written By mist42nz
on May 30th, 2012 @ 2:30 am

My #1: Local people trashing on your friends, just because they know they’re your friends. (in the bigger towns, who knows who isn’t so well tracked. in small towns that’s the front page gossip)

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#25 
Written By Tammy Beach
on June 4th, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

I also live in a small town and my top 10 problems are:
1. finding herbs and/or supplies!
2. Having to always explain when we decline to attend a friend or relatives church.
3. The constant assumption that being pagan means we worship the devil.
4. limited access to others with our beliefs, hard to build emotional support system with persons who don’t share your beliefs.
5. having to explain to others why we have different holidays
6. The way we are often left out of events that are important to our friends & families, (Christenings, funerals, even weddings).
7. Having to correct things that have been told to the children in my life. ie: witches eat children, witches put bad spells on people, we do animal sacrifices, etc…
8. being made to feel like I need to lie to be able to live in peace.
9. Being judged in the workplace because of my beliefs
10. people assuming I do drugs because I’m pagan.

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#26 
Written By Julie Cleverly
on June 5th, 2012 @ 3:47 am

Hi, it’s been very entertaining reading about all your experiences and the list is hilarious and can relate to alot of your experiences. I live in England where Druids and Pagans have the right to take their own religious holidays off work, and Druidism is a recognised religion. We have moots in every town, a huge range of social gatherings and events and pagans are very active in trying to reach out and educate other religions. Most religions are quite happy to listen and we are invited to come along and give talks and answer questions on our beliefs and spiritual practises. Most that is except for the Christians.

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#27 
Written By Cyleste
on July 5th, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

trying to explain that your wedding in the mountains isn’t a satanic ritual just because it’s up in the mountains.

hiding your visits to the chiropractor, or “witch doctor” as many of them call her.

having fun showing people that the medicine cards you’re using for divination are just pictures of animals, and watching them soften a little.

~just a few of my personal experiences from Globe, AZ

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#28 
Written By Morgen
on January 17th, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

I moved into a very small town consisting of many Baptist,drug addicts and other needy people. Once,while U WAS BUSY TYPING A COLLEGE PAPER IN MY OWN LIVING ROOM,A LITTLE KNOCK WAS ON THE KITCHEN DOOR. tHERE STOOD A GIRL OF ABOUT 11.’hello’ I said. You must be here to see my kids? Come in and I will call them down from upstairs.You’ll have to excuse the house,I have been doing college work and haven’t gotten to it yet.”‘oh,I already know all about your house”she said matter of factly.’They are holding a meeting right now down at the pasters house to see what to do about you. I just came down to play with the kids.” This same Babtist group spread rumors that I had crystal balls all over the lawn..these,I suppose were the Fairies with the globes lawn ornaments that I do not even own and yet always wanted.Also,for the conversion tricks they use they con people into coming to their church by some seasonl thing involving food oftentimes. I have always said no that my children can’t attend.Once I gave in because they wanted a super huge banana split. I warned them it probably would be a ploy and sadly it was. When the kids got there the some ill-behaved boy started teasing the my girls and announcing to everyone that their mom buries crystals in the dirt and lures little kids in and puts salt all over them. This later was de-evolved into worse gossip..that I capture children’s souls into the crystals.When I asked the kids if the pastor put a stop to it they said he stood their apparently fully aware and did not. It was funny when a couple of years later his tent blew into another pagan friends yard who without realizing it delivered to me as he thought we could use a tent.At first we didn’t know whose it was and after opening it and finding inside the happy romping that he and his wife had tenting in there we laughed. Ah..Baptist can unwind,after all! Of course, I didn’t mention the items in the tent,but just that it was here and he might like it back to come get it. ,,message sent via my kids to his who talk casually in school. He refuses to come get his tent apparently. God and Goddess do have such a sense of humor.I am supposedly the wild pagan,but I don’t have all my private business blowing all around town…just the made up business,I suppose LoL. i was able to bring an important lesson home to my kids while discussing the latest events of the pastor announcing his sudden and unexpected moving to another state…none of my doing,by the way. When they started mocking him and his family a bit,I reminded them and myself that we should send their family blessings of a safe home and prosperous endeavors and evolved thinking.

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#29 
Written By Jay
on July 1st, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

I live a few miles south of Nashville and there’s only one new age shop in Nashville that I’m aware of (which I like, so it’s okay).
[2] I grew up in two relatively small towns, where everyone knew everyone, especially in school. When I found Wicca in HS, everyone knew about it because I came out of the broom closet immediately because I felt that there was no reason to hide who I was. When I was goth in middle school, I was the only one and one of the only ones in HS.
[3] Because my parents were also from small towns (my father from Franklin & my mother also from Franklin/a small town in MI) and raised Baptist so they were less than accepting of my spiritual decision. Kept me from doing rituals so I am just now (at 24 and out of the house for six years now!) getting comfortable doing spell work!

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#30 
Written By Anna
on August 27th, 2013 @ 7:01 am

No witch shops
No covens
Your school having a huge bible club, but no Pagan club.

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#31 
Written By Alam Mercer
on November 1st, 2013 @ 11:15 am

I loved the article and it made me laugh,as I was reading, but did bring back memories, mine was finding out that my metaphysical shop was of the devil and I was sending all those who entered to Hell. I was even threatened that I needed to watch my back. I was not excepted here in this small town. I found that people avoided me as if I had the pledge. Kids trashing my house, vandals. for the most part I have went back underground and have sense closed my shop. BB

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#32 
Written By Tricia
on September 25th, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

Funny list. Practicing Wiccan but solitary. I avoid covens and pagans for socializing, and most people for that part.

I have found it is largely better not to share too much. We could do a lot of good but the populace would rather act like the fools they are. It seems that the bad behavior in history simply repeats itself due to foundationally weak characters. Sharing our power by word, blessing or curse gives them too much information for my taste.

However, I live every day in witchcraft and would never go back to any typical religion because they never suited me, anyway. Of course, now, I realize why nothing they said/taught ever resonated with me in the first place.

Not sure about you all, but even before realizing what I was, I was flinging my hands as a child and many other feats of witchcraft – it was just not called that back then.

It has also allowed every red-blooded fool who mistakes power and has no self-restraint to rush into wishful witchery, with the incorrect assumption that they can do whatever they like. With the consequences that follow…while I continue walking down the avenue fully aware of where they took the wrong turn.

Awareness and truth are lonely paths but they all lead to a higher place of peace. You just need to leave the mortals behind where they belong. In strife.

Blessed Be.

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#33 
Written By brunhilda
on September 26th, 2015 @ 2:16 pm

I live in London round the corner from London’s Santaria shop.I can walk to the bookshop where modern witchcraft started or the hill where modern druidism started or the world headquarters of the freemasons(not actually pagan)and many other great places,but here it isn’t easy to do solitary work out of doors. It is easy to get books and paraphenalia but I’m too self conscious to do rituals in the middle of the city- camera crews come to film the druids on Primrose Hill while tourists wander about- horrible.

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#34 
Written By kp
on February 21st, 2016 @ 7:31 pm

My problem, having lived in several several small towns over these past 30 or so years of being Pagan is that it’s kinda lonely. You might find a good group ooooorrr not. And when it’s not, it’s REALLY not. So I keep it solitary and not in-your-face. I don’t like in-your-face people of other faiths, so I do them the same favor. And we all have gotten along just fine.

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