Whether one is a public Witch in the workplace, in school, or just in the neighbourhood, it is important to keep in mind that one's actions and manner will have a strong impression in the minds of others. Often, one is the sole Witch the neighbours or co-workers may know, so this impression will carry over to others with whom they make acquaintance. Therefore, do not leave others with a negative impression.
The public perception of Pagans
Don't be that Pagan who needs to wear a flowing black cloak everywhere.
Good grooming for Pagans
One's manner of dress is a major contributing factor to these impressions. If one insists on wearing skull jewelry or hanging six-inch pentagrams from one's neck, one does not create a favourable impression. Particularly in the workplace, it is important to be neat and well-groomed. A simple suit can be personalized with small, tasteful jewelry and yet retain an elegance suitable for the job environment. Remember that the company does not have the legal right to disallow one's pentagram or ankh or whatever if they allow members of other religions to wear their symbols (the same going for public schools, of course). It is advisable, however, to leave the facial (or other) piercings at home. Make certain that one's hair is neatly combed and not sticking up strangely before leaving the house, and be moderate when applying make-up.
Conducting an interview
Particularly in October, newspapers and television stations often want to interview a Witch for a feature article. Before agreeing, ascertain that your views will be fairly considered and taken seriously. Find out what kind of article or interview they need. Is it a 'news of the weird' feature? An in-depth look at a religion? A special-effects Halloween broadcast? Obtain the name of the reporter's editor, telephoning later with the same questions; this is important because in the event of a difference of opinions, the editor's view will prevail. Consider also how the reporter has treated other similar stories. If you will not be taken seriously, refuse the interview -- there's no reason to look silly in public. You also have the right to refuse an interview if the reporter will not respect your opinion on important issues (such as those below).
Say no to spooky Pagan makeup
- Tell the reporter that you do not want to be referred to as a 'self-proclaimed Witch.' The media often does this to avoid a lawsuit, so reassure them that you willingly call yourself this. Also, if the feature will be in print, mention that 'Witch' and 'Witchcraft' should be capitalized, the same as for any other religion.
- If the interview will be videotaped or include photographs, pay attention to your appearance. If you are preparing for a ritual, wear a neatly pressed robe. Otherwise, dress neatly and respectably. If others from your group will be part of the picture (particularly during a ritual), make certain that the photographer has legal permission from each person to publish the photographs since not everyone is out of the broom closet. Try to avoid close-up photographs of people waving a knife around the altar -- the public always gets the wrong idea.
- Answer questions clearly and concisely. Don't meander around the subject. If you do not know something, say so. Also, refrain from taking offense at jokes about turning someone into a toad. Try to keep all emotions under control.
- Provide a fact sheet or pamphlet to the person conducting the interview at least a week before the interview is scheduled. This will give the person time to read it over and formulate questions. If possible, ask to see the results of the interview before the broadcast or publication. It's easier to make suggestions beforehand than deal with controversy afterward.