On Passing

posted in: Uncategorized | 3



Let’s talk about a fun topic. Let’s talk about passing. Historically, it has meant that if you looked white and could pass as white, you would take that power and hide your actual racial background.

In this political climate and in this modern age, passing can mean a lot more. It can mean not wearing jewelry that indicates you’re of a minority religion. It can mean not choosing to date a same sex partner if you are pansexual/bisexual or to be closeted about it. It could mean not being as open poly or kinky. It can mean stfu’ing about feminist issues such as abortion access. (A side note, since the election I feel like all I do is yell, WITCHCRAFT AND ALSO ABORTIONS)

It’s. So. Easy. To. Pass. When you are married to a man and you’re a white girl in New Jersey who was raised Catholic. I could take down my altars so no one (not friends, not acquaintances, not repair people) knew I was ever a Witch. I could just go to Mass. I could shut up about how abortion access is important for women who don’t believe in abortion because that’s what allows them to have a d & c for a miscarriage because their bodies are not cooperating and it’s what releases their daughters from having to go through with a pregnancy because they were raped in college at a frat party (or hell, let’s get crazy, because their daughters got knocked up and weren’t ready).  I could not kiss my girlfriend in public.  I could not hold my husband’s and my boyfriend’s hands publicly.

It’s so easy to pass because people want to just see what’s right in front of them. The wedding ring. The whiteness. The American accent.

Knowing I could continue to just rely on the safety that my privilege affords me, knowing I could be completely safe if I stopped going places associated with “undesirable” groups, if I just stopped blogging and writing and social media’ing and interviewing , I would be completely safe makes it incredibly hard to keep doing it. Because no one could tell. I could just pass. I could be safe.

I need to pause here to remind you that I don’t believe in having to be out about whatever. I believe in surviving. I believe in changing the system from within. I really believe in keeping your precious self safe. If you can’t be out about whatever and be safe, don’t let yourself be pressured.

But I live in one of our precious few blue states and because I could just pass . . . I can’t. I won’t. Not passing is my protest. It’s my quiet Effie Trinket revolt. Every day it gets harder not to. Every day it gets harder to keep writing #OneSmallStep and Distraction Games on Facebook, but I promised myself I would do it for at least a month. Every day it gets harder to put on my jewelry that signifies me as a Witch. Every day it gets harder to keep speaking out publicly. It gets harder to keep my focus for my causes and show up when I just get tired and don’t want to.

But I keep doing it. Because it’s all I can do. I wake up every morning and take a deep breath and feel the knot in my stomach and how I want to be led by my fear and just pass and remind myself that I won’t pass.

But oh some days. I wish I could.

Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  


3 Responses

  1. Richard Facey

    Hey, Deb, i love you and you are righteous like 99 percent of the time but reading this made me cringe so hard… please, don’t compare being pagan and poly today to being a person of color passing even a generation ago. I would recommend you take this post down because I don’t think it’s coming across the way you think it is. And you’re a fantastic writer! I’m a huge fann but this is not…

    • Richard, I respect your opinion but it will be staying up if for no other reason than the horse has long since left the barn well over a month ago and most people who were going to read it have read it.

  2. I think this makes sense, especially for anyone with exposure to the GLBTQA+ and/or pagan and/or poly/bdsm/goth/entertainment/etc. communities. A lot of us grew up white (yes, in NJ) with whatever expectations on us and for and against us, and sure, it is NOT the same as being a person of colour, but it IS the same as not wanting to get yer ass kicked because you’re different: no one wants that. I look very vanilla, and maybe I’m not. The election made people look at ME funny at the local supermarket, as if just by me being white I might be one of the creeps, and that was strange too. I think life is hard enough these days, and people do their best with it all. Thanks and best wishes, Donnalee

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