In my time on the Internet and dealing with various email groups, I have found that there is a ton of information being disseminated. Looked at objectively, some of it is good, some is bad, but a lot of it seems to be coming from a paltry 20 total sources. Cunningham, Silver Ravenwolf, Buckland, The Witches’ Voice, and Mike Nichols seem to be the most prominent sources, although some information can be traced all the way back to AOL’s Pagan files and Athos’ Pagan Files, the latter which is now sadly gone from the web.
One of the top sources currently appears to be “Witchcraft, The Facts“. The Rev. Norm Vogel seems to feel that his work should be the primary source for what Witchcraft is and that his interpretation is the only interpretation. This despite the fact that this alleged seminal document is a scant one page that he wrote almost 5 years ago, judging by the copyright. Apparently there are many visitors who go to his site and praise him for his work, giving him ego strokes that he apparently must have. It only feeds his incorrect belief that he is correct and speaks for everyone.
Should anyone with any knowledge come to the site and try to offer a view that in any way contradicts the site, they are immediately attacked as idiots who don’t have Rev. Vogel’s alleged years of experience and therefore can’t possibly know anything. He will pull in groups of people who support him and keep attacking with aspersions and insults, as well as gross and disgusting suggestions. I have been a subject of these tactics.
This article will verify the facts and demonstrate the undeniable fallacies inherent in Rev. Vogel’s article. Anyone can come and read them if they choose to, so they can see for themselves that Wicca, Witchcraft and Paganism are not just what he espouses.
(Please note, this text is taken verbatim from the site Witchcraft the Facts. I also have the author’s permission to reprint it here.)
1. Witchcraft means “Craft of the Wise Ones” and is also known as the “Old Religion”. Its practices can be traced to Neolithic (“Stone Age”) cave paintings. In early times, the Witch was the local lawyer, psychiatrist, and doctor. The field of modern medicine can trace its origins to the herbal medicines of the Witch.
Witchcraft is a nature religion, not unlike the shamanism of the Native Americans. As the concepts of male and female exist through-out life — indeed, are necessary to create it — most Witches perceive Deity as male and female: the Goddess and the God. Like the concept of the Trinity, these aren’t “many” Gods; they are aspects of the ONE Creator.
The Goddess is seen as Mother Earth and Mother Nature, and is represented by the Moon. She is seen in the fertility of the plant, animal, and human kingdoms. Her power is at a peak in the “fertile half” of the year, from May until October.
The God is seen in the woodlands, the Sun, grain, & the hunt. Because most of the animals that prehistoric humans hunted had horns, He is usually depicted as the “Horned One”. His power is at a peak in the “dark half” of the year, from October to May.
Witchcraft has been called the Craft of the Wise, well only if you have never bothered to check with a dictionary at any rate. I quote from the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (unabridged) copyright 1993:
Witchcraft 1 a: an act or instance of employing sorcery esp. with malevolent intent: a magical rite or technique b: the exercise of supernatural powers: alleged intercourse with the devil or with a familiar 2: an irresistible influence or fascination; CHARM, ENCHANTMENT syn. see MAGIC
Please note, no place in the above dictionary quote does it mention “Craft” or “Wise Ones” or anything about a deity. The trend of equating modern Neopagan witchcraft with the poor and scattered remnants archeologists have been able to piece together started with Gerald Gardner. Since then there has been a popular movement to reclaim the word “witch” from those who have been charged with defilement of the word, i.e., the Christians and the Inquisition.
The tracing of Witchcraft to Neolithic times was a myth started by Dr. Margaret Murray, and perpetuated in current times by Raymond Buckland in his book “Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft“, Scott Cunningham and also Silver Ravenwolf. That Dr. Murray’s theories have been discredited by time and better archeology seems to be immaterial to many trying to reclaim “Witchcraft” from the current dictionary and encyclopedia definitions. Her thesis has been refuted by, among others, Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (New York 1971) 514-16, Norman Cohn, Europe’s Inner Demons (London 1975) 107- 25, and most recently by Robin Briggs, Witches and Neighbors: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft (New York 1996) 37f.
From the little we know, Gardner appears to have been trying to align his fledgling tradition into the definition of Witchcraft as it stood at the time he created Wicca. He intended for it to be acknowledged and seen as a magickal tradition, one that could possibly be seen as malevolent and dark.
I can only speculate regarding the motives behind Gardner’s act, but it would appear that he was trying to give Wicca a patina of legitimacy by linking it to ancient times. There was probably little chance that his newly created magickal tradition would be given serious consideration by the then current crop of magickal practitioners without this connection. So, one can assume (and several scholars, among them Isaac Bonewits, have) that this is what prompted the connection to the past, as well as his connection to Margaret Murray’s essay.
What does this have to do with Norm’s first point? Only that Witchcraft and Wicca are used interchangeably, applying statements that only apply to Wicca to all witchcraft, and vice-versa.
There are legitimate witchcraft practices. African Diaspora religions like Voodoo and Strega just to name a couple. There are also many magickal practices that have nothing to do with witchcraft, like OTO, The Golden Dawn, Alchemy and High Magick (out of the Key of Solomon). There are also heathen practices that are not witchcraft, and pagan practices as well, as seen in Druidism, Asatru, Theodic, Kemeticism, and Hellenism. Additionally, there are native practices that could be called Witchcraft, but which violently disassociate themselves with witchcraft as they see these practices as being evil and malevolent, i.e., Aboriginal Australian practices and Native American Medicine practices.
Yet the first statement would make one think that ALL these practices including such groups as Hindus, Buddhists and Shinto are parts of Witchcraft. It makes sweeping statements to include these practices, whether or not they actually fit specific religions.
Modern Witchcraft, which seems to be the point of this website’s so-called facts, as described in this document, is a purely modern construction and part of the Neo-Pagan pathways. This does not denigrate or deny its legitimacy, nor does it invalidate the practice. Far from it, I can honor and support those who only identify as a Witch, at least as long as they are not trying to make all-inclusive and sweeping statements equating witchcraft with all non-Abrahamic descended religions.
Witchcraft, first and foremost, is a craft. It is a set of skills that can be described as a magickal tradition. It does have some of its roots in the past, since herbalism and other “primitive” practices are incorporated into the body of work known as Witchcraft. That’s well and good, but that does not mean that Witchcraft is centuries old because it includes elements that are ancient. If that were so, the Empire State building, in fact any modern skyscraper, in New York City or any other city is ancient since its made up of the element Fe (iron) that was part of the ground for millennia and actually predates life on this planet.
The argument that flows out of attempting to disprove the ancientness of the Empire State building is the same argument that can be applied to disproving the ancientness of Witchcraft and Wicca. Namely when one alters something so much that it becomes an entirely new thing it can no longer be called by an ancient name. Iron is iron and steel, though it is made of iron, is steel. If either are used in a building, the building is still a modern construct.
Most of the legitimate witchcraft traditions that I mentioned earlier are not nature worshiping, per se, or Goddess and God worshiping religions. Voodoo worships spirits or Loa. Strega honors the Goddess Diana and the God Lucifer (here meant as the Son of the Morning), not some amorphous deity that is simply a compilation of all deities into one amorphous blob.
There are strong indications that Witchcraft is not connected to a religion, or even a set of religions at all. It is a skill set, as has been stated many times, many of which are incorporated into other aspects of life as well. Yes, Witchcraft has herbalism incorporated into the practice of Witchcraft. Part of the information discovered by herbalists over time was included in modern medicine, but more than that, Alchemy, The Age of Enlightenment and other scientific processes and discoveries were the actual precursors to modern medicine. It is possible to argue that surgery was part of the herb-wife’s knowledge (the ones who could have been accused as witches in the past) but the discovery of different blood types, how to do transfusions, eye surgery, mapping out the internal structure of the body, discovering tools to help like the X-ray and so on were done by scientists. They used painstaking trial and error and occasionally out and out guesses to base their search for knowledge on. People died to advance their knowledge.
If one reads and studies the journals of the medical profession at the turn of the 20th century, one begins to realize that while herb knowledge may have played a part in their work, it was a very small part. Those who used plants to cure illness were seen as idiots and mavericks and despised and reviled by their peers. The fever-reducing properties of Willow bark were known for centuries by herb-wives, but when a patient had a fever, the doctor usually bled them or gave them doses of opiates, not willow bark.
Truthfully it has only been in recent years that herbal remedies have been looked at as more than just pleasant granny tales.
“Lawyers and Judges”? This statement can be traced to Raymond Buckland, and possibly further back. There is NO credible evidence to either support or refute the idea that the local midwife, herb-witch or Goodwife was responsible for the direction of a community.
While this can be seen to exist in individual places around the world, normally in primitive aboriginal hunter and gatherer cultures in modern times, we cannot assume that this is the correct model for the far distant past. In a primitive society, where wisdom is revered and knowledge of the Gods is seen as a life path rather than held in contempt, a wise leader may consult with those who have memories of other times and other situations. But with the concept of laws and lawyers, most of this respect goes out the window in favor of writing judgments down and following legal precedents to the letter.
A quick look at modern American society will show the fallacy of this argument very quickly. Abigail Adams wrote strongly worded arguments to her husband that women should be given voting rights, for they bore the children and took care of most of the household (meaning they sewed, made herbal remedies and simples, fed livestock and so on) and were intelligent enough to make decisions on who should and should not speak for them in the various forms of government. John Adams rejected this argument completely and helped enact measures to make sure that only property owning white men had the right to vote. Going even further back into history, Lady Godiva (if legends are to be believed) had to humiliate herself to reduce the taxes her husband had levied on the city he was mayor of, and many other examples, some from as far back as the Sumerians and Macedonians. These women and wise people were not consulted in decisions of the rulers, the leaders. It cannot even be argued that Celtic society did this, as the King and Druid (Brehon) were the ones responsible for the laws and judgments.
It is only when one gets back to a tribal society that it can be shown to have happened, and even then it is only progressive and forward looking tribes that this consultation may have happened. Where women are seen as less than men, consultation with these “wise people” cannot occur. One confers with equals and superiors, not inferiors.
If we actually look at a religion that is matrilineal (meaning that inheritance and religious identity come from the female) we still don’t see this. Judaism has a matrilineal line, and the woman of the house is responsible for the household’s spiritual identity as well as the proper prayers and rites of the household. It could strongly be argued that in Judaism that the wife is the “wise woman” that we are referring to in the above passage, holder of the household, mother, priestess (in some lights), judge and lawyer, doctor and financial advisor. But in some traditions of Judaism, a rabbi who is touched by a woman who is not his wife is considered ritually unclean. Women are not allowed to study the Caballah, and are not allowed into the main part of the synagogues but must be confined behind screens, watching but not actively participating in the rites and rituals of their own religion.
I will grant that on a case-by-case basis, all that has been stated by Norm could happen, but the argument is back to the Empire State building again. One small component in a structure that cannot reasonably support it does not make the entire structure that thing.
In short, the first statement, if looked at with provable scientifically validated research on one’s side, does not stand up under its own weight. Witchcraft is NOT nature oriented, since many witches from the past could have cared less about the environment. Witchcraft is NOT centered around the Light-half and Dark-half of the year and is NOT centered on the worship of the God and Goddess. I will grant that WICCA contains all of these elements. Had Vogel said that, I would have few arguments with him and his site.
2. Witches don’t do evil. They believe in the Wiccan Rede, which is “If It Harms None, Do What You Will”. (In other words, “Do whatever you want; just as long as it doesn’t harm anyone — including yourself “). But, Witches DO believe that it is moral to defend yourself against evil or physical (or psychic) attack.
Most Witches also believe in the “Three-Fold Law”, which states that whatever you do — be it good or evil — comes back to you three times over, so (obviously) there is no incentive to do evil.
Here is where the blurring of the line between Witchcraft and Wicca is most evident. The Rede is a statement of WICCA. Not even all Wiccans subscribe to it. The Rede has been traced to one tradition of Wicca and didn’t appear until published in a print journal in the mid 1970’s ( The Wiccan Rede Project ) Gardner did not have it in his book of shadows (as seen in Aidan Kelly’s publication of it at http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/gbos/index.htm ).
In point of fact, there are witches that do evil. Remember, witchcraft is defined as being malevolent. Many who identify as witches use magick to gain things for themselves, without regard for whom may get hurt, retribution or anything else; for example, Satanic Witches do this very thing and believe they are fully justified by their religion in doing so.
Please notice that Mr. Vogel does not consider Satanic worshipers to be included as “witches”. Satanic witches consider themselves witches, there is even a whole book written by Anton LaVey about the Satanic Witch.
Please also note that in “Aradia, Gospel of the Witches” by Charles Leland, one of the seminal works of modern NeoPaganism, there is no mention of the concept of the Rede or Retribution or any other structure such as is pointed to in this “fact”.
In fact, “Aradia, Gospel of the Witches” specifically states that you must harm those who have harmed you. To quote:
And when a priest shall do you injury
By his benedictions, ye shall do to him
Double the harm, and do it in the name
Of me, Diana, Queen of witches all!
To me, that says it all right there, Witches harm, and have a mandate from the Goddess to do so.
3. Witches do NOT believe in or worship Satan, and do not perform any sort of human or animal sacrifices. Satan is a relatively new concept that originated with Christianity & Zoroastrianism. Witches put the responsibility for our own actions squarely on whom it belongs: ourselves. Witchcraft teaches us to be responsible people who take responsibility for our own actions.
When the Christian Church decided to obliterate religions that were a threat to its power (including Witchcraft), they decided that their “Satan” had horns and that Witches were actually worshipping the Devil. This became the death warrant for millions of innocent people.
While parts of the above statement are factual, it once again discounts segments of the very witchcraft groups he alleges he is including! In point of fact, some Satanists worship Satan. Satanists are witches by their own declaration and association, and they worship Satan. I mean, one can’t get clearer than that.
Rev. Vogel has stated that Satanists are not witches. It does not seem to matter to him that the people who practice this religion profess to be witches. However, I suspect that if a Roman Catholic Cardinal proposed a definition of Wicca and/or Witchcraft that did not include the “Reverend’s” personal beliefs, he would be highly indignant. In fact I suspect further that he would attempt to raise a howl heard round the world. Were he to modify his declaration that Satanists are not Witches to mean that they are not Wiccan, he would be correct. However, if Norm were to unbend enough to use the standard definition of witches as it appears in the dictionary and in history and practice, he would see that witches, do, in fact, worship Satan and his world would be in danger of ending.
I will grant you that Wiccans do not worship Satan (although if there are “Christian Wiccans” then there can certainly be “Satanic Wiccans” as well), and many Pagan paths also do not worship Satan.
As to the “relatively new concept” clause, I decided to check this statement out online. Taking it as fact, I checked on Zoroastrianism for their concept of good and evil. I referenced this page ( Tenets of Zoroastrianism ) and read that this concept dates from between 8000 and 1500 BCE. I have a serious problem calling a concept that has been around from 3500 to 10,000 years “recent”. That means that the “witchcraft” he is talking about is not older than this, but actually just being born, since it only is about 100 years or so old (dating back to Charles Leland).
I’ll agree that the modern, Western concept of Satan as his own entity may have been created within the last 700 years, which would make that aspect of a 10,000 year old concept “relatively new”. However, to be accurate with Norm’s belief, that would presuppose that Witchcraft is older than Christianity. Otherwise, how could a “relatively modern” religion like Christianity steal the God figure of the Witches to identify it as Satan? Now, while some references to witches DO appear in Roman documents and Greek documents, predating Christianity, once again we are back to The Empire State Building argument. Just because a word is ancient does not mean that anything that identifies with that word is ancient as well.
The second part of this “fact” is problematic. Modern research has revealed that “millions of innocent people” didn’t die in the “Burning Times”. That number was a guess by a scholar in the mid 1800’s and has since been debunked. While the true death toll is not known and probably can never be known, the current estimates range from 1500 to 150,000 over a 900-year period. This is gleaned from trial records, hysteria, journals, and city records over the period spanning from the 1100’s to present day. This number also includes victims like Tempest Smith who committed suicide because of persecution as a Wiccan at her school.
The critical thing to note about the persecution that many Wiccans and Witches point to as proof of their membership in a persecuted minority, is the fact the Inquisition, while horrendous, was not targeting witches. It was targeting heresy in the Roman Catholic Church. The charge of Witchcraft was a convenient blanket charge to begin the process of investigation. Those that pled guilty to the charge of Witchcraft within some Ecclesiastical courts were spared. The Protestants, particularly in Germany, were not as lenient.
Spain was the originator of the Inquisition and this needs to be put into a historical perspective. Ferdinand and Isabella had just reconquered Spain from the Moors. They, and more particularly Isabella, were deeply religious and felt the need to cleanse their country of the influence of the religiously tolerant “infidels”. From there, the hunt spread to Jews, Homosexuals, those with unconventional political beliefs, those who would not agree with the system (like many scientists), and others outside the norms of society. The Inquisition in Rome in 1600 burned Giordano Bruno, the scientific philosopher, to death for his apostasy and heretical views. These are the same targets of Hitler’s pogrom, of the Communists, in fact, the same minorities of humanity that have been stalked by those in power since the world started. Liberals, free thinkers, and humanitarians were specifically targeted for being the beatniks and hippies of their times. Although the charge of witchcraft may have been levied against them that did not make them witches.
It also fails to take into account the Christian belief that if you do not worship the Christian God, then you automatically worship Satan. To see this dogma in action, look at Jack Chick’s publications. In those little pamphlets everyone who is not Mr. (and I use the term lightly) Chick’s brand of Christian identified as Satan worshipers. Chick’s dogma says that anyone who worships strange gods, meaning any ancient deities, YHVH, Allah, Buddha and anyone following other teachers, has been deceived by Satan into falling away from God, and MUST be rescued. Many liberal ministers will agree that other religions have a lot to offer, but when it comes right down to brass tacks, they state that if you don’t worship God, Satan has deceived you. As a result, any non-Christian by definition must be a worshiper of Satan. Some, like Bill Schnoebelen, even go so far as to attempt to prove that ALL religions other than their narrow view of religion are created by Satan to make the elect fall away.
Sorry, Norm, but those who practice African Diaspora religions like Voodoo and several other versions of Pagan religions do have blood sacrifice, and in some cases, animal sacrifice. I hardly think they can be identified as off shoots of Christianity. The rites of animal sacrifice are rigidly defined. They have been handed down for generations in many cases and are designed to insure that the animal is honored, praised for its sacrifice, celebrated, and instead of the remains being disposed of like used toilet paper, it is consumed and celebrated during the consumption.
The comment about human sacrifice is specious and misleading. No modern religion I am aware of has been shown to practice any form of human sacrifice other than self-sacrifice through suicide. Certainly the Buddhists of the past, the Branch Dividians and the “Heaven’s Gate” cult practiced this form of human sacrifice through suicide. His statement tries to imply there is a group somewhere practicing “Ritual Satanic Human Sacrifice” on a regular basis, which has been repeatedly proven to be false. It is a straw man set up for the sole purpose of demonstrating to the credulous how evil “they” are, without ever stating who “they” are. For a good set of resources in debunking the straw man of “Ritual Satanic Abuse”, please see Diane Vera’s excellent website and the Satanic Ritual Abuse page.
Surprisingly, Norm does have a point regarding the responsibility clause. Wiccans, Witches and Pagans profess taking responsibility for our own actions, and don’t believe in a scapegoat/redeemer who will rescue us from the consequences of our actions. (As my wife is fond of saying, “You made the mess, you clean it up.”) We also don’t hold that we will get all our rewards after we die, we expect to have good things happen to us during this lifetime, as consequences of our actions. Well done there Norm.
4. The Pentagram (a five-pointed star in an upright, one-point-up position) is the symbol of our religion. The top point symbolizes Spirit (the Creator) being ‘above’, or ruling, the Four Elements of Life — Air, Fire, Water, & Earth — which are the four lower points.
The Circle, being without beginning or end, symbolizes the Deity. It is completely encompassing the Star within it (which represents the out-stretched human body, reaching out in search of its connection with Spirit). Together, they represent the Creator’s Protection & Wisdom.
Inverting the Pentagram, as is done by Satanists, symbolizes that the Elements (the “material world”) are superior to the Creator. Unfortunately, through misunderstandings that have been repeated by the media, the Pentagram — in whatever position — has become wrongly equated with Satanism. (Please note, though, that in England, there are several traditions that use the inverted pentagram as a symbol for a second degree — which obviously has nothing to do with Satanism).
Okay, while this is confusing, obfuscating and misleading, parts of it are accurate. But the question remains, which religion is he talking about when he states “our”? Witchcraft is a skill set, like being a carpenter. It is not a religion. I could claim that the cross is the religion of carpenters, but it would be inaccurate since carpentry is a skill, not a religion. (I know there was one carpenter that became closely associated with crosses, but that is not an automatic assumption that all carpenters worship crosses.)
It is the same situation here. Wicca’s symbol is the Pentagram. The symbology of that is also accurately described. But the inverted pentagram is the symbol of the Church of Satan, the Triskel the symbol of druidism and the hammer the symbol of Asatru. All of these religions (and yes, they are all religions) have different symbols as well as having witches in their ranks.
5. A male Witch is not a “Warlock”. This is a Scottish term, meaning “traitor”, or “oathbreaker”. (A male Witch is a “Witch”).
The actual etymology of “Warlock” is still the subject of heated debate. But the proper term for a male witch is “witch”, just as a female judge is “Judge”. But, and I say this to be totally accurate, there are those who identify themselves with witchcraft who prefer to be called warlocks. I know it seems like an uphill battle, one that is going to go nowhere fast, but that is what these people choose to be called. It is akin to Wiccans trying to rescue the term “witch”. The term witch has had specific meanings for hundreds of years, and so has Warlock. Attempting to sweep centuries of belief aside because a small group is trying to redefine it is silly. It is like trying to redefine the term “chartreuse” to mean “thick headed”. People are still going to mean the color when they say chartreuse. All the polite corrections in the world are not going to change anything nor will it do anything more than irritate people. Pick your battles and ask yourself this, “Do I need to be persecuted to make myself feel special?”
6. Witchcraft is a legal religion protected under the First and Fourteenth amendments. (See the US Army “Chaplain’s Guide to Ministering to Wiccans”. There are 2 references to this guide; please click on each number: 1 , 2 ) .
We are non-proselytizing; we don’t seek to convert anyone . We feel that all religions are equally valid, and that you should be free to choose the one with which you are most comfortable. No religion has the monopoly of God (despite what some may claim).
In our opinion, far too many religions place too much emphasis on the actual religion (or it’s leader), and seem to be worshipping that, instead of God. This, in our opinion, is wrong thinking.
As long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others, we all have a right to our own method of worshipping the Deity.
As much as it pains me to say this, President George W. Bush was actually right when he said, “Witchcraft is not a religion”. I know, I know, I fought against that so long myself, screaming about how he was wrong and so on. Forgive me. Witchcraft is NOT a religion; it is not protected by anything. WICCA is a religion, and THAT RELIGION is protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. And Wicca DOES NOT EQUAL Witchcraft.
Much of the rest of this is accurate, and I will get to my problems with this passage shortly. Wicca incorporates witchcraft into its structure, but Wicca is not Witchcraft. Wicca is a religion; Witchcraft is the skill of magick within Wicca. There are Wiccans who are not Witches, and there are many witches who are not Wiccan.
Ultimately, Norm has simply taken the “history” lesson out of Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, added a few details he thought of on his own, and threw this essay up on the Internet. Given the state of research and knowledge 25 years ago when The Complete Book was first written, this was fine. We have now moved into a new millennium. New facts are being discovered constantly and things are changing. It is critical that anyone claiming leadership stay current with the latest facts and update their information accordingly. Our total body of knowledge has expanded, and neither Buckland nor Norm has changed to fit that new knowledge.
I would point out that this is exactly what the Catholic Church and many fundamental religious groups are infamous for doing. Their stone-set dogma insures their ears are ossified and incapable of learning anything that negates or conflicts with it.
Here is my problem with the passage, to refresh your memory Norm says, “In our opinion, far too many religions place too much emphasis on the actual religion.” My first problem is this; why is Norm speaking with the Royal “we”? I feel this is just a tad bit arrogant. And aren’t religions supposed to emphasize religion? If they don’t aren’t they just Rotary Clubs in disguise?
Seriously, I think I understand what he might have been trying to say here (that he objects to religions that place too much emphasis on the trappings of religion or the corporation of religion) but I am not sure he understands that what he said is not what he meant.
There is one basic flaw in this document that drove me to write this article. The continual confusion of Wicca for Witchcraft is wrong. Believe it or not, if Norm would replace every instance of Witchcraft with Wicca, then the majority of my objections with this document would disappear. There are still a few minor historical inaccuracies, but they are minor in comparison to the rest of the article. The continual Wicca/Witchcraft confusion turns what could have been a decent factual document that I could support into a statement of inaccuracy and irrelevance. In either case he needs an editor to clean it up.
Norm has been frequently charged with being “fluffy” in the past. I ask you the reader this, having read the original Norm and refutation in this article, can you doubt it?
A personal cause for my distaste is the specific manner in which the good Rev. handles those who have visited his site and offered corrections to his alleged facts.
My personal feeling is that a leader leads with passionate reason. A true leader does not throw a howling temper tantrum like an ill-bred two year old venting his spleen at being told he is wrong. Rev. Vogel attempts to use the tactics of an outraged water buffalo to humiliate and intimidate his critics into silence with slanderous personal attacks in his guest book. Not satisfied with this he insists on attacking their sites and their forums or guest books, going so far as to publish the source of his ire’s email address on various lists where his supporters lurk. This results in multiple emails from people who have been urged to spam the “heretic” who has displeased their leader. I wonder if his supporters realize they can be reported to their ISP’s for harassment and lose their service.
This kind of behavior simply leads to retaliation from the attacked and their supporters, a normal and very human behavior. I have never had a problem admitting when I have incorrect facts, in fact I ask that people with more knowledge provide me with background information so that my articles, essays and even rants are as accurate as possible. “Attack facts, not people” does not appear to be a lesson our subject has learned. If you wish to see proof of his behavior, please look at http://davensjournal.com/Norm.txt. I would suggest a quick look through his guest book but he has deleted all the inflammatory posts. Unfortunately for him, I saved all the relevant copies.
I’ll admit that there are a lot of reasons to despise Norm Vogel, but ultimately it is not worth it.
One last thing before I close this essay out, at the bottom of his page, Norm has put these statements:
IMPORTANT: Please note that info on the “Fact” & “FAQ” pages does NOT reflect the opinions of ALL Witches; however, it DOES reflect the vast majority. (So, please don’t send me any “bullshit letters” complaining that I’m “wrong” about anything! You are entitled to your perceptions of the Craft, as am I!). I respect YOURS; please respect MINE.
And, if you have a ‘bitch’ about my definitions of “Pagan”, “Witch”, “Wiccan”, I invite you to come up with one that EVERYONE will agree on — If you do, I WILL use it! This subject has been fought over for YEARS, and no one has (or, CAN, imho) come up with one!
Now, I’m going to respond to these statements.
His first paragraph is inaccurate. His page is titled “Witchcraft the Facts” which would seem to purport he is presenting actual facts that can be documented and pointed to by scholars from multiple disciplines. Oh, let me clarify, I mean scientific disciplines like archeology, linguistics, anthropology, ethnography, sociology, statistical analysis and theology, not just anyone’s current favorite Llewellyn author. Being able to bullshit with authority is still lying.
If the majority of witches are holders of the same opinion, then why do so many witches go to his site and try to correct his “facts”?
If these are truly the facts of Witchcraft, how can he then state that all this is the opinion of the majority of Witches. Well, which is it? Fact or opinion? Facts are facts, opinions are opinions and everyone has an opinion. There is only one set of facts. The fact states that what has been put up is not fact at all, but Norm’s personally held beliefs. If that’s the case, fine, well and good, more power to him. But presenting it as fact is just plain wrong.
He goes on to state that his opinion is his opinion and that he respects the opinions of others. His behavior shows otherwise however, and by making blanket statements as he as done, he does not respect the beliefs and opinions of other religions either. If he did then he would not dismiss Satanists as Witches so quickly.
In his second paragraph he challenges others to come up with definitions of Pagan, Witch and Wiccan. In the past, better, more accurate definitions have been presented to him. To date, he has not used any of those definitions.
Why? He demands that the definition be one that “everyone can agree on….”. This gives him the ability to say “I don’t believe that” and now “everyone” does not agree with the definitions. As a point of logic, there is absolutely no way to come up with a definition that EVERYBODY in the universe will agree to, the best that can be done is to come up with a definition that most will agree on. With 2,000 years, the Christians haven’t managed to define what is Christian either, cold consolation though that may be.
Here follows an agreed upon new definition of the words. One can hope that the good Rev. will find them acceptable.
Witch (Neopagan definition): A witch is one who practices one of a variety of form of magic derived from the folk practices of previous times. Most often this is denoted by herbalism, midwifery and divination with various tools, but can also include those who cast spells using the natural forces of nature. This differentiates them from Ceremonial Magicians.
Pagan (Neopagan definition): A person who is a member of any of several modern religions that are loosely based on some form of ancient religious practices or based on modern fictional works most often denoted by a polytheistic or duotheistic godhood, research into past practices and a lack of a “holy scripture” in the dogmatic sense. It can also be characterized by most often having been created within the last 100 years. It cannot be classed as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism or Hinduism or other mainstream religions.
Wiccan (Neopagan definition): A member of the religion of Wicca, as created by Gerald Gardner or any of its many subsequent spin-offs. Characterized by having a duotheistic deity structure, adherence to “The Wiccan Rede” and belief in “The Law of Returns” or a similar statement. Please note, Witches can be Wiccan, but not all Witches ARE Wiccan.