Being a Gay Witch

The author of 'Gay Witchcraft' shares his experiences of an empowering spiritual practice that celebrates alternative sexuality.

BY: An interview with Christopher Penczak

 
Christopher Penczak Christopher Penczak is the author of 'City Magick,' 'Spirit Allies,' and 'The Inner Temple of Witchcraft.' He lives in New Hampshire with his husband Steve. He spoke with Beliefnet producer Lisa Schneider via email.

How did sexual orientation become the focal point of your spiritual practice? What does it mean to be a gay witch?

I wouldn't say that sexual orientation is the focal point of my spiritual practice. I think the experience of being human is. Being gay is just an aspect of this life, this earthwalk. I think reconciling the fact that I am gay and a spiritual person -- coming from a time, place and culture that often sees those two as mutually exclusive -- forced me to really examine being a gay man in a different way.

Whatever spiritual practice I looked at in my studies, I would always seek to know what the religion thought about and how they treated women and homosexuals. That was a big yardstick for me, since both groups have been traditionally persecuted by more mainstream religions.

Being a gay witch is reclaiming the spirit of traditions that predate more dominant religions and reaffirm the sacredness in the balance between genders, by honoring those with different mixes of male and female energy, such as those from the gay/ lesbian/ bisexual/ transgendered community.

You write in your book "the coming out experience in modern society is akin to a magickal or shamanic initiation." Can you talk about the parallels, in your own experience, between coming out as a homosexual to your friends and family and coming "out of the broom closet"?

I became a witch before I came out as being gay. All my friends and family were aware of me being a witch, and the magical experiences gave me the strength and courage to face what I thought was more difficult, coming out of the closet. Without the broom closet, I don't know if I would have had the strength to come out.

When you come out of the closet [as a homosexual], you are changed. First you come out to yourself, and really consciously acknowledge the fact that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. Once you wrap your own mind around it, you are different. Then you tell your family and friends, you can't go back in. You let the genie out, and can't put it back into the bottle.

The way you relate to the world changes completely. Your range of possibilities changes completely. You can envision things for your life that you never could truly see or feel when in the closet. Even if you dream of a healthy, happy, open relationship, when in the closet, it doesn't seem real. When you are out, a light shines and lets you be closer to your true self.

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