Brooms, Closets, and Canyons: A Coming Out of Sorts
Life is startling in the amount of change that one encounters in the decades spent wandering across the surface of this little planet. Some change comes slowly. Some comes rapidly. Some change happens without even realizing what is taking place, until one stares into the mirror one morning, utterly transformed. This story has elements of all three.
I will say it outright, rather than meandering along, as I’m so apt to do: I am pagan. I am stepping out of the metaphorical broom closet into the light of day. I am not Wiccan, as the broom closet metaphor might imply. I am simply a generic pagan. I’m of no particular tradition nor do I have an associated group of people with whom I share these experiences. It’s just me, peeking through the door sheepishly, all on my own.
I have been standing at the edge of an emotional and spiritual cliff, staring over its edge for a while now. It would seem that it is time to find a path downward, down toward the verdant canyon floor below, where the specter of my other self wanders, a partially formed apparition now becoming visible in daylight. It is a relief to finally accept this destination, to stop wandering along the parched and cracked dirt of an abyss of shifting identity.
Until recent years, I had identified as an atheist. I rejected Christianity in my teens, having found its treatment of queer people to be frighteningly awful—at least in the 70s and 80s, the decades of my childhood and adolescence. I became an atheist in college, well over twenty years ago. I transitioned to agnosticism a couple years ago, finding atheism to be too absolute, too binding, and in general, a drag upon my experience of spirituality. The fact that internet atheism has the feeling of a boy’s locker room, mired in toxic masculinity, obnoxious verbal competitiveness, emotional constipation, transphobia, and misogyny helped accelerate the process considerably. It’s much easier to leave a community and a set of beliefs behind when you grow tired of the people you find in those environs embracing those perspectives. Ironically, I can also say the same of Christianity.
And so here I am, embracing the mushy-minded “woo” some atheists call out as a root of evil in the world. I have become monstrous, mentally defiled, and weak-minded, or so some might claim… and I shall encourage the worst in humanity, or at least, so some would fear. Thankfully, I’m used to embracing the monstrous for I am also a trans woman. I’ve always been dangerous. I’ve always been a threat. I have always been an abomination. In the end, I usually do whatever I want, regardless of what my peers think, whoever those peers might be in the moment. I have a habit of wandering to the edges of whatever group I’m a part of. I have done this my entire life. This is normal… for me.
But, I want to end this first essay positively. I’m excited about this transition. I’ve experienced tension between my spirituality and my atheism for so long, now. There had been some pain prior to this change but mostly there was a lot of confusion, a feeling of being emotionally imprisoned, and an accompanying sense of listlessness. It feels liberating to finally shed one form and move on to the next. It’s exciting to feel a sense of being more “whole”, of finding myself again, of meeting that apparition walking along the canyon floor, and staring into her eyes, eyes which I have secretly known in my heart for some time now, eyes I can now look into directly, in the light of day, and whisper questions I’ve longed to ask…
What land lies ahead, my love? What land lies ahead?