Sadly, this is an old truth that became a myth, but some people are trying to make it true again. Pagans went from hiding to being in the open, and now there are those who are trying to stick Paganism back into the shadows.
For a very large part of history, those following the Old Ways, especially those who incorporated magick into their belief system, had to do so in secrecy. Followers of monotheistic religions had it in for the Pagans of old, and it was dangerous to have anyone know your beliefs, for fear of torture or death. Pagans practiced behind closed doors, alone or in secret groups, trying to maintain their faith and stay safe as well.
Eventually, things started to change and Pagans came into the light, stepping out of the “broom closet” and out into the world. To this day it’s still dangerous to be Pagan in some areas, but They’ve put a lot of work into being able to be who they are openly and without fear, like followers of other religions can do. While they may keep the details of their practices to themselves or their covens, they have worked very hard to have their religion as a whole accepted, so they can live openly in safety.
There have always been some who resisted coming into the open, but generally Pagans were all moving in the same direction. At some point not too long ago though, a minority of Pagans started pushing the idea that they needed to go back into that broom closet, and that “real” Pagans kept their beliefs secret. They hold that by being open, they dilute their beliefs and allow “unworthy” followers in, who are not part of the coven or bloodline. It’s not a popular movement, but it does exist.
Generally, Pagans want to be accepted in society for who they are. They want it to be as safe to say “I’m Pagan” as it is to say “I’m Jewish.” They do value privacy and keeping some parts of their path quiet, only to be shared with other followers, but most of them would never want to go back to a time when they had to live in shadow and secrecy, hiding themselves and their beliefs from the world.
*Disclaimer: I no longer practice Paganism, but I’ve left these Pagan Myths articles active because I believe they’re still valuable in helping people to understand Paganism and reduce negative stereotypes.*