This is a FAQ of a kind, in that there are going to be statements gleaned from many sources and paraphrased, and answers to them. The difference is that these statements were found on mailing lists and forums. They generally make the experienced practitioners cringe. As such, I claim no responsibility for the content, lack of grammar, or inability of the person making the statement to spell in statements that are used verbatim.
In interest of saving various Elders, Teachers, High Priests and Priestesses, Forum Moderators and general long-standing Pagans from gray hairs and broken teeth (from grinding them), I’m assembling the most common set of statements and have replied to them.
Statement: “Our religion’s ethics are easy, we just ‘Harm None’.”
Rebuttal: Let me ask you a question: How easy is it to not breathe? How about not drink water? Too obscure? Okay, what about eating? ALL those actions are harm to something someplace. Breathing brings in viruses and bacteria by the millions, and when you exhale, more flow out. This means that you are a walking germ factory. Now, your body automatically kills them by the millions, and thus you don’t get sick. That is called immunity. It explains why going somewhere new can make you sick, you don’t have immunity to the local bugs and the locals don’t have immunity to yours. You are constantly killing bacteria and microbes, harming them. It’s the same thing with drinking water.
Eating poses a whole world of quandaries. To paraphrase, “To eat or not to eat, that is the question.” There is literally NO way to harm none and still eat. If you eat beef, you are a cow-killer. If you eat plants, you are a plant killer. If you refuse to eat meat, you are contributing harm the rancher whose livelihood depends on the income from their cattle. If you eat only plants, you harm the soil and animals that exist on those plants. By not slaughtering animals raised for that purpose of becoming food, it increases the population of those animals. Therefore there are more animals eating a continually dwindling supply of vegetable food, eventually, you have a situation much like India. Cattle are not to be harmed or eaten by the religious beliefs of the Hindu majority. These animals are in direct competition with the local populace, consuming crops like lettuce, carrots, beats, wheat, corn, potatoes, peanuts, soy, rice and more, and reducing the food supply for everyone. Cause and effect.
Additionally, the vegetation was holding the soil in place, and now stripped bare by the increasing demand for all kinds of greens by every herbivore, whether two or four legged and accelerated soil erosion becomes a valid concern. If enough factors come together just right, and enough people suddenly give up meat, it could lead to another Dust Bowl.
Yes, this is overblown. No, there is not too much chance of this actually happening unless EVERYONE in the nation stopped eating meat. The point is that all choice carries consequences.
Guess what? “Harm None” applies to yourself too, so not eating is harming yourself, and specifically forbidden by the Rede.
Want to eat vegetables and eschew meat completely? Go for it, but understand the chain of events you are causing to happen by that decision.
I could go on, but I’m certain that you see the quandaries here. That’s also just THREE minor examples. Ever walk down the street? How many ants did you avoid? How about driving? Ever squish a bug on your car grill? What about that leather baseball glove in your closet? Have you flushed a toilet today? Did you enjoy that electricity that was pumped into your house to allow you to see this message? Did you think of the coal miners who have Black Lung that mined the coal out of the ground to supply the fuel to burn in your power plant? How about the pollution that comes from a nuclear plant that supplies “clean” electricity? What about the hydroelectric plant that starves a section of the country for water while supplying you with lights?
Each of these actions has harm for SOMEONE or SOMETHING, and almost always it’s either an animal group or plant group harmed OR a human provider of those services/goods harmed when that service is refused. In some cases, bacteria and microbes are the target, but it can start a chain of events that cause harm to others as well. For example, the cleansing pill you put in the tank of your toilet to make the water blue and clean your toilet, when it gets to the septic tank or sewer, eventually gets to the water table and ocean. That particular dye is poisonous to microbes in the ocean, which is what the plankton live off of. The plankton starts to die, and eventually the shrimp and fish dependant on the plankton die as well. Eventually, moving up the food chain, the sharks and whales who depend on those fish to live start dying as well, and the fishermen who live and die by how much of a catch they bring in and sell can’t make a living anymore, since there is no seafood. Thus DIRECTLY harming humans, even if you don’t consider fish, animals, microbes, plankton and whales as falling under the “harm none” injunction.
There is absolutely no way to live on this planet and not harm anyone by your actions. No chance. We are interdependent and have always lived on “spaceship Earth”. It is simply a matter of realizing it. A century and a half ago, if SARS had broken out in China, it may have spread fairly quickly to Russia, Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. By the time the west was infected, a year or two or even three later, the origin would have been untraceable. A century and a half ago, medicine would have had no ready response available, and we could conceivably had a pandemic on our hands with no antibiotics available to combat secondary infection. It is possible millions would have died. Just like happened during World War I and the global outbreak of Spanish Influenza which killed over 20 million people when the final death toll was calculated.
In these days of global travel, if there is an outbreak in Saipan, two days later, you have potential outbreaks at EVERY major city in the world, and the mechanism to quickly identify and prevent pandemics. Why is the rapid spread of contagion possible? Travel and tourism. Our actions here can and WILL affect people in other countries.
Now, modify that statement to read, “Our ethics state that we must harm as few people as we possibly can” and you have a more accurate statement. The Rede is not meant to be an absolute rule (and it’s not supposed to go from 26 lines to 2 words either, but that’s another rant), it was intended, as far as I know, to be a guideline. It was meant to be empowering, it was meant to be a reminder to THINK before taking an action, because someone somewhere will be affected by your action.
“Harm None” is a hard ideal to live up to, it takes a lot of discipline and commitment to that ideal, as well as much thought as to your own personally chosen definition of harm you are willing or unwilling to commit. It is a clarion call to a moral though filled life. There is absolutely nothing easy about it, nor should there be. So, you should probably say “Our ethics seem easy, but aren’t. We try to harm the least possible. That makes us think.” And I think most Elders would agree with you.
Statement: “I would never interfere with someone’s free will by cursing them. Instead, I bind them.”
Rebuttal: <cringe> Just how do you think this is different from cursing them? You are taking away their free will either way. In creating a curse you cast a magickal ritual on them designed to make them act in certain ways by harming them, like a cattle prod. In binding, you are making them act in a certain way by removing choices from them, as if you were putting a fence around them. In either case you are taking away their ability to choose.
You know what? That’s your choice too. Just don’t hide behind the “I’m doing it for their own good” statement. Who are you to decide what is best for someone else? No one appointed you the moral majority or the guardian of ethics. By the logic of this statement, your parents know what is best for you, and they should bind YOU when they feel you are acting counter to your own best interest.
Do a binding because you feel it’s necessary. Do a curse because you feel it’s worth it and you are willing to pay the price that will be demanded of you. Don’t get sanctimonious about it and don’t try to rationalize it. When you have the consequences come home to you and kick you in the teeth (people hate you because you bound them, you get bound by someone else, you loose your friendship because events move them away due to your binding, you can’t break it and they are stuck like that, etc.), take it like a mature person, unflinching. Don’t whine and try to weasel out of it, or cry good intentions. As the Church across the road says “The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions”.
Remember the Rede from the first statement? Try living it and thinking about what could happen for once. Would you walk up to a shopkeeper who has a gun behind the counter for protection of himself and his family and handcuff his hands behind his back as well as put leg-irons on him? No? Why not? There is no difference between binding someone metaphysically or magically and doing it in real life with real restraints. NO difference.
Statement: “Kali/Hekate/[insert dark Deity here] is really a loving Mother Goddess; there’s nothing disturbing or scary about Her. You just don’t understand Her like I do.”
Rebuttal: I’m so glad that the “dark” goddess of your choice came to you and told you that she’s really nice. But you know what? Centuries of precedent are here telling you that you are wrong.
Let me take the Morrigan as an example. First, which of the three faces of the goddess are you talking about? Surprised by this? If you had done some reading and checked into who She is, you wouldn’t be.
From the Encyclopedia Mythica: “The Morrigan is a goddess of battle, strife, and fertility.” The article on Her goes on to say that she is seen as both a triple goddess and a single goddess. She is linked with the Valkyrie, the choosers of the slain, and the “Battle Raven” who also chooses the slain warriors. She is “The Washer at the Ford”, washing the clothing of those warriors who are about to die in battle. She even states in one passage of her mythology that she will “go and destroy Indech son of De Domnann and ‘deprive him of the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valor’, and she gave two handfuls of that blood to the hosts. When Indech later appeared in the battle, he was already doomed.”
While she CAN be seen in some very narrow aspects as a loving goddess, it’s along the lines of “You are going to die now, and I will hold you and stay with you until you do.” One of the triple aspects is Badb, the “Battle Raven” which exulted in conflict and would use her magic to cause confusion.
These kinds of themes run throughout the mythology. Every Deity has a darker aspect, and all the darker deities have a light aspect too. Artemis caused a man to change into a stag for the sin of seeing her nude; she then hunted him down and slew him with her bow. Loki caused all the Norse Gods to gain all their most powerful objects in apology for cutting off Sif’s hair. Zeus used to (in effect) rape anyone who he thought would be a good lay, and that caused his wife, Hera, to absolutely hate Hercules and try to kill him on multiple occasions. Arianhrod, called upon as a loving mother figure in some Wiccan rites I know of, refused to acknowledge her son after she had birthed him, refused to give him a name or arms until she was tricked into doing so, and then STILL laid a curse on Llew Llaw Gyffes that he would have no wife of a race living on the Earth. This is a “loving mother”? Cerridwen, in Her aspect as the White Sow, eats her own children.
What’s the point of this? Do some research and know exactly who it is you are choosing to worship. In this one section, I tried to use Kali as my example multiple times, but couldn’t due to my lack of concrete knowledge of that Goddess at my fingertips and not having the time to research Her fully.
I personally don’t want to present a Deity as something They are not, since that would be dishonoring Them. I’m not saying that you can’t worship a Deity, who has more “negative” aspects to their nature than positive ones, but worship the WHOLE Deity, and acknowledge that whole Deity, rather than just a few little parts of Them. You might want to explore why you are drawn to that particular Deity as well, but that is another rant.
Refusing to see a part of a being you honor and love is disrespectful of them, and putting that being on a pedestal. Eventually they get tired of being on that pedestal, and climb down from it so they can be whom they are. Normally when this happens, the person who put them on that pedestal in the first place is devastated. Don’t let this be you.
The person who made this statement expected to be large and in charge at a pagan gathering.
Statement: “I’m 17 and have been studying The Craft for one and a half years and am an initiated fifteenth-degree High Priestess and Elder of my coven.”
Rebuttal: My goodness! You must be a genius! Every degree I have ever heard of in any tradition takes a bare minimum of six months of supremely concentrated effort, to have crammed more than seven and a half years of training into one and a half years is truly amazing! And you went to school during this time and had a private life as well? You also possibly participated in extra curricular school activities? Even though each degree gets harder and takes longer to accomplish? And you think I am gullible enough to believe it? As the old saying goes, “I was born at night, but not last night!”
There are many things wrong with this child’s statement, and all of them come from a lack of maturity. First thing is the assumption that you claiming this title gives you any rights outside the structure of your coven. I can claim to be a 50th degree druid, the initiate of the 33rd degree of Masonry, but unless others of my tradition can verify my achievements it means absolutely nothing. The title that is self-bestowed is about as worthless as the breath it took to pronounce it.
So, you may have just graduated from High School or not, don’t have your own house, haven’t had a career or a baby yet (at least I hope not), haven’t found out what sacrifice REALLY is, but you are going to presume to be in charge of a whole bunch of other Wiccans and dictate to those who have been practicing this path since before you were even a conception in your parent’s mind what they should do? Let me stand over here while your coven melts down and your ears get pinned back.
It doesn’t matter that your “coven” consists of your 14-16 year old friends who have watched “The Craft” with you twice and are fans of Buffy and Charmed. You have no right to start condescendingly talking to adults that are as old as your parents at that pagan gathering you are attending.
Additionally, it means nothing to people who are not of that tradition. OTHERS bestow legitimacy and accolades on a person; they cannot be taken on by oneself. I can claim anything, tell you anything, but it doesn’t mean squat if I don’t have the knowledge to back it up, and if you really are as powerful as you claim to be, you should have the wisdom to know that.
The second problem is that you cannot be a High Priestess (or High Priest) unless you have been passed that title by a lineaged, initiate Gardnerian (or Alexandrian) High Priest or High Priestess who has the authority to do so. It is not something you can do on your own. The title, and the responsibilities that go with it, will only be earned after many years of study and practice within a lineaged coven. It is an apprenticeship system, and unless you have served your apprenticeship and learned your craft, and grown through the experience of the Mysteries that usually come with that knowledge, you cannot call yourself a High Priestess. It is a lot of hard work, life experience, heartbreak, and joy, and not something easily earned.
But you are not Gardnerian you say? EVERY TRADITION OF WICCA COMES FROM GARDNERISM. All of them. If you use the Charge of the Goddess, if you use any of the ritual structure, any of the elemental invocations, any of what Wicca teaches, then you come from Gardnerian tradition. It may be that your tradition allows you to call yourself a High Priestess after you have acted as priestess for 6 months or so, but if it’s that easy to earn the title, do you REALLY want it?
Oh, and an “Elder” is automatically someone older and more experienced than most. Just because you did the most reading, doesn’t mean you have the most experience or knowledge of the group.
Third thing: Lack of life experiences. A Maiden is the helper to the High Priestess. She is usually a virginal girl (although the virgin status can and has been ignored in most modern manifestations of this) and she’s the High Priestess’ hand picked successor. When the High Priestess or Priestess retires (as she is supposed to do) the Maiden takes over as the new Priestess. It’s a rare thing for the Maiden to be younger than about 25 when she takes over for the Priestess, as it takes several years of experience to learn everything.
Most people would feel uncomfortable relating to a Priestess who is younger than they are, which means that you could not do your job effectively.
Fourth thing: You never stop learning. Almost EVERY leader who is worth anything will be the first to admit they have more to learn, even in areas they know a lot.
Fifth thing: Assumption that you know everything. Along with the fourth point above, just because you have a title does not mean you know everything there is to know about a given subject. There are people who have been practicing for YEARS on this path, who don’t know everything about a subject. An example you say? Okay, Raymond Buckland doesn’t know everything about ceremonial magick, Silver Ravenwolf doesn’t know everything about Gypsy magick and folk charms, Cunningham didn’t know everything about mythology of the deities, and Robert Graves didn’t know everything about Wicca or Witchcraft. Just because someone publishes a book does not mean they know anything on a given subject either. There is always an opportunity to learn more, even in your area of expertise, and when you DO learn everything there is to know about one narrow area of expertise, there are still other areas to branch out into and learn from.
Know how you learn? By listening to those who have been studying for quite some time, learning, sharing, and exploring ideas. By researching, and possibly participating in archeological digs. By learning to translate runes, hieroglyphics, Ogham, Old English, Flemish, or what ever else the roots of your interest may lead you to. Coming into a list and flashing your credentials like the above example only gets you ignored later.
If you actually do deserve the title of “High Priest/ess” or whatever, that does not give you the right or obligation to counsel everyone you come into contact with. Counseling is a specific skill set that requires classes to be taken in order to have the tools you must have to do it right. Sticking you nose into other’s business without that class, and without them asking, makes you nosy or a busybody. No one likes that. If someone acts on the advice you have given in your guise as High Priestess, * unless you are a certified physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, cleric of a recognized religion you can be successfully sued. * In other words, you could lose your parents their house and all they have worked for.
It has come to my attention that there are some Priestesses who actually are only 15-19 and have earned the title of Priestess. This is well and good and fine, but they have been studying this path since they could talk. They have been studying with a parent or guardian who has been teaching them the things they need to know in this case, and they have actually EARNED the title. They also didn’t bestow this title on themselves. They also understand that they STILL don’t know everything.
Statement: “OMFG wiccan is so gawth and teh goddes is really kewl thats why i am going to be wicca and cast spells and follow the wiccan reed because i am darkness inside!!!!!1111111!!”
Rebuttal: Let’s see: Bad spelling, bad grammar, bad word usage, lack of copyediting before sending, lack of knowledge in what you are commenting on. Fluffy points: probably about 10.0 on the Fluff-o-meter.
Listen up: You want to be taken seriously? Start acting like it. Look at this essay. Really go through it and look at the words I wrote and how they are spelled. It’s possible in this that I misspelled a word or two, but for the most part, it’s correct. This looks professional, and implies that you have attention to detail. That is in over 12,300 words, while your little 32 words you have 5 misspellings. Possibly 3 or 4 misspellings in 12,300 words in my essay, 5 misspellings in 32 words for your statement; which looks more professional and respectful? What you wrote implies laziness and a basic lack of respect for the reader.
I see a post like the one above and I hit “delete” and ignore the poster. Why? They are not worth my time and energy. I will spend more time trying to decipher what is said and what is meant that I can better spend on writing my own articles, answering other posts, eating my dinner, playing with my daughter or making love to my wife. My time is precious and so is everyone else’s time. If you want respect from them, start by giving respect to them by use of correct punctuation, correct spelling, correct grammar, correct use of capitals and correct usage of general facts.
Jumping in and saying “I’m Wiccan now because I’m dark and I saw ____ and it was sooooo cool” only says to me that you have not done ANY research on something you want to get involved in. ANY website on the Internet will give you BASIC information on Wicca and/or witchcraft. Even bad sources are good to start with, and will be of more use to you than not doing anything. Getting in a list and saying something like what is above is telling me that you are SOOOO serious that you would spend more time researching where to buy the newest hottest latest fashions or shoes than you would put into something that is supposed to be a WAY OF LIFE. Ergo, you are not worth my time or the energy it would take to teach you unless or until you grow up, a lot.
Statement: “Spells only work if you use them for the forces of the Light. Otherwise they will fail and then the Law of Three punishes you.”
Rebuttal: I wish I knew where “facts” like this come from, so I can kick the backside of the author for spreading misinformation like this. Spells are a process, like a recipe. You do this and you get that effect. A spell is like a prayer, a meditation, path work and many other means of changing things. Even life-plans based on hard work are a kind of spell. Know what? Every one of them can be used for “darkness” or (more accurately) selfish purposes. Ever pray your parents would die when you were little? Ever save up money for a special thing you wanted? Ever make a wish on your birthday cake and blow out the candles? Guess what… those are selfish spells.
A spell is a tool. Just like a hammer, a nail, a drill press, a shovel, a screwdriver, a card scanner, a computer and many other things I could name. It’s a tool, just as surely as a crossbow is a tool, and a sword is a tool. Whether or not it is good or evil depends on two things; who is holding it and who it’s pointed at. If you use your spells to kill the Pope, then you are using it for evil and you will suffer consequences. If you use it to cure cancer, then you are using it for good and guess what? There will STILL be consequences.
Surprise! There are ALWAYS consequences, good, bad and indifferent. You will get consequences if you use that scalpel lying on the table to slit your sibling’s throat, just as surely as there would be consequences if you use it to do an emergency appendectomy. There is absolutely no difference. Good/evil, spells/tools, Light/dark are only labels. Everything depends on your attitude and your decisions and if you can handle the consequences in your life.
Now, let’s start talking about the “Law of Three”. Ask Wiccans and they will tell you, yes, the Law of Three exists. But I want you to ask them when the last time they got a raise of $30,000 for saving their company $10,000 by doing their job. It’s not cost effective. More likely, the company will give the employee a raise of about $1,000 for saving that money, and normally it will be MUCH less than that. But by the Law of Three, they should get the $30,000 raise. They saved the company, that’s a good action, and therefore they should get three times that as a reward. Oh, it will come later? Like when you find a $20 on the street? Hmmmm, do you realize how many times that would have to happen to make up $30,000? On the flip side, how many times have you seen someone who is Pagan/Wiccan completely screw a fellow Wiccan/Pagan costing them a lot of money either at their job or out of their pocketbook? How often did they suffer severe consequences, consequences three times as bad as what they have done later?
In short, Threefold Law is unsupportable by simple observation. A more reasonable expression of this principal would be “the law of return” in which what you put out comes back, possibly diminished, very rarely at the same strength. This law of motion also expresses it: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” and this law of thermodynamics does as well “Entropy does not decrease in a closed system” also expressed as “entropy always increases”. This means that energy is lost to entropy (chaos or pure randomness) the longer something goes on. The longer it takes for the consequences to return to someone, the less severe they are.
Trust me, you don’t need to have the “Threefold Law”. If the Gods want to punish you because you are messing up, they will. One line I heard at one point says, “It is not wise to dispute the decisions of the Powers. They have more ways of enforcement than you have of escape.” If They want to drive a lesson home to you, They will.
Statement: “Last week at work, someone in the break room overheard me talking about my Tibetan singing bowl ritual where I invoke Bast, Obatala and White Buffalo Calf Woman into our astral circle every Imbolc, and she gave me a dirty look. WAAAAHHHHH! When will they stop persecuting us?!?!?!?!?”
Rebuttal: Oh my goddess… This statement is wrong on so many levels.
Let me take them in order.
One: Why the heck are you talking about a ritual you did in the break room of your work? If the person you are talking to is a member of your group, then this discussion should be in the coven, a private home, on the phone, anywhere away from work. The workplace is for working; the covenstead is for speaking of coven matters.
Two: The Tibetan Singing Bowl has absolutely no connection to Wicca. It’s a part of Tibetan Buddhism. It’s used the same way one would use a chime or a bell to induce a meditative state. I challenge you to find ONE Wiccan ritual (other than one you wrote) that calls for a singing bowl.
Three through Five: Invoking Bast, Obatala and White Buffalo Calf Woman in the same ritual? Do these spirits get along? One is not a deity at all, but a spirit of nature. Each of them are part and parcel of separate religions and spiritual ways, and have (again) nothing to do with Wicca. Bast is an Egyptian Goddess of Cats. White Buffalo Calf Woman is the woman who brought the Sacred Pipe to the Sioux, and her coming heralded a deep and rich spirituality for them. Obatala is the King of the Orishas, first sculptor and invented pottery, King of the Cloth and invented cloth, the creator and shaper of human beings and one of the most important Gods of the Yoruba people of Africa. NONE of these deities should be mentioned in the same breath, much less called in the same rite, as they have NOTHING to do with each other, certainly not their jobs, spheres of influence or responsibilities to their followers. In addition, some of the God/esses DON’T like sharing and I can think of none that like to be called on inappropriately, as one of them said, “I am a jealous God.” I wouldn’t want to be around you when they decide to teach you a lesson.
Six: Astral circles? Do you have any concept of what this is? It is a circle created ONLY on the Astral Plane, with each practitioner astrally projecting into it to participate in a ritual that exists ONLY on that plane. Now, why invoke these spirits into this Circle when they live there?
Seven: You DO know that Imbolc is a Sabbat, one of the holy days of Wicca and several other pagan religions? It’s like Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, Cinco de Mayo. It’s a time to celebrate and have fun, with some specific rites attached to it as it deals with helping the Lord find his way in the Dark time of the year. It’s also called the Festival of Lights. Once again, what the heck does these spirits have to do with this ritual?
Eight: Did you ever stop to consider that you were talking to loudly for the environment? Or that it was a subject inappropriate for work? Or that she simply glanced in your direction while having a bad day? Or did you consider that at that exact instant she happened to have a cramp from PMS? Why is it ALWAYS about you? Are you that invested in being a martyr? Are you so desperate for attention that you MUST misinterpret something so simple as a glance as persecution?
In short, you are speaking out of your anal orifice, and you need to be quiet before you embarrass yourself even further.
Statement: “It’s an opinion. Opinions can’t be wrong.”
Rebuttal: Have you ever heard the saying “Opinions are like assholes; everyone has one and most smell like shit?” In brief, if you believe that everyone who has an opinion is right, then that means that the Pro-Lifers who hold the opinion that it’s okay to kill abortion doctors are right, as well as those who hold the opinion that everyone should have the ability to have an abortion for any reason, are right too. All of these are right.
Know what? Good for you, but not in the way you are thinking. Opinions are only right for the person stating the opinion. I have no right to force my opinion of something on you than you have to force your opinion on me. But let’s back up for a moment.
An opinion is “a belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof” according to Dictionary.com. In other words, an opinion has nothing to back it up factually.
If you state, “The universe is a friendly place” that is your opinion and you have no proof to back it up, and you are correct. If I say, “the universe is a hostile place” that’s my opinion and I can’t really prove it either. Both of us can hold the opposite opinion and be correct because no proof can be obtained to support or refute either of us.
However, stating that Wicca was practiced by Paleolithic wo/man is NOT an opinion, it is a pseudo-fact. There is no evidence to support it and a great deal of evidence to disprove it. There have been reams of information written on this subject. It is no longer an opinion; it is a statement of discredited fact. Therefore if you continue to repeat this particular rubric, you are spreading a lie.
If you want to cling to the belief that Wicca is ancient, fine, I feel saddened that you are living in a fantasy world. But going around and teaching that as a factual statement is wrong. It is an incorrect statement, a lie. For you personally to hold that is one thing, but when you are speaking in the capacity of a teacher, and telling others what is and is not, you need to concern your self with the facts, not fantasy. If you want to share this belief of yours with others, go for it, but make sure that you state this belief is yours and that there is no evidence to back it up. This is called being responsible.
If your schoolteacher went around teaching that the world and everything in and on it was created in 6 days and that god rested on the seventh day as the answer to how the universe was created, they would be fired for teaching a religious belief, an opinion, not fact.
Statement: “How long have YOU been practicing. I’ve been practicing this all my life so I have to be right!”
Statement: “What are you credentials? I’m an Elder, a HP, etc”
Statement: “How can you do _______ and have the nerve to call yourself Pagan/Wiccan?”
Rebuttal: I’m taking these statements together because they relate to a trend in the communities that is very disturbing. The trend is “High Priestess Syndrome” in which because someone decided that you were worthy of being the High Priestess, you are automatically infallible. This is simply not so. Even the Pope is not always infallible.
Let me repeat this statement for those who missed it: YOU ARE ONLY RIGHT FOR YOURSELF. Your beliefs are correct and right for you, no one else. Your best friend, whom you have been teaching for years, who believes exactly as you do still has their own beliefs, modified and changed by their experiences. There is absolutely no way for your beliefs to completely mirror someone else’s beliefs.
There is nothing wrong with this. Your religious beliefs are yours and yours alone. But when you start citing those beliefs as absolute truths to others, demanding that they believe the same way you do or they are wrong, then you are in the wrong.
Need an example of this? Here’s one: “Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates!” This is off the Church of Satan website at http://www.churchofsatan.com/home.html. This is the belief of those who follow the Church of Satan, but stated the way it is, it is a blanket statement for everyone to obey, including you. If you think that your statement of the numbers of people who died in the Burning Times, your statement of the kindness of Kali, etc, are the way things are and that everyone must acknowledge it and obey that, then you have to acknowledge this statement of what Satan is and obey that too. If you don’t, then you are a hypocrite, plain and simple.
Factual statements are not opinions, and facts are facts and should be taught as facts. Opinions and beliefs such as these are opinions and beliefs, only correct for the person stating them, and should not be taught as facts. To the fundamental Christian, Satan represents the ultimate evil in the universe, the eternal adversary of God, not kindness to those who deserve it.
Do you see the difference now?
As for the “I have _______ years practice and of course I’m right…” statement, just because you have had your head up your backside for 15 years does not mean that is the best way to walking around that way nor is it the correct way of doing things. Babies crawl but that’s not the way humans move. By your logic, we should do nothing but crawl around. Also the scientific community has declared for YEARS that all sickness was caused by an imbalance in the humors (or fluids, one of 5 in the body) and by reducing the volume of those fluids the disease can be cured. So does that mean we go to leaches when sick to get bled, or do we walk into a doctor’s office?
Just because something has been done that way for umpty-thousand years does not mean it’s right. Or to put it another way, “The Ancient Ways are not necessarily right, just old.”
The third statement is becoming more and more prevalent in the groups as more and more fundamentapagans crop up. Most often it’s coupled with a statement about sacrifice, eating meat, cursing, using spells to harm another and so on. It is the projection of their beliefs on others, and an attempt to force others to live in accordance with their personal moral standards. It seems common for vegetarians to believe that all pagans are vegetarians since they are vegetarians. This is another position that cannot be supported in any way. This syndrome is well known in psychology.
What another who calls him/herself Pagan does or does not do is NONE of your business. You have no right to try to force anyone live the way you live. YOUR OPINIONS ARE ONLY TRUE FOR YOU AND NO OTHER. Decrying another’s abilities, their knowledge, calling them false (whatever)s because they don’t live by the same standards you do only makes you look like an idiot and a hysterical child.
If you want to be a vegetarian, fine. If you are a homophobe and can’t stand gay people, I feel sorry for you but, fine. If you think sacrificing time and energy to the gods in the service of others is wrong, okay. DON’T YOU DARE TRY TO PUT DOWN OTHERS BECAUSE THEY DON’T FEEL THE WAY YOU DO. I guarantee that for every example of “real pagans don’t ______” I can find examples of “real pagans” that actually DO do that.
Statement: “You can’t criticize me. You don’t practice what we preach. Either become (my version of) Wiccan or keep your mouth shut”
Rebuttal: So this means that you can’t say a damned thing about the Christian Church, the Satanic Church, the Asatru, the Druids, or any other religion since you don’t practice what they preach. If you are an American Caucasian heterosexual male of 20 years old, you also can’t criticize the 50-somethings, the government, African Americans, women or homosexuals either since you don’t practice what they stand for and practice. You also can’t criticize other nations or tell them what they do is wrong, since you are not a member of that nation.
Let me point something out: One of the most enduring human traits is talking out one’s backside. Critics come from every walk of life and everyone is a critic. Everyone has opinions on what the people they are criticizing are doing wrong, and all of them have a right to that opinion. Each and every one of them may be talking without all the facts and may be completely mistaken in their declarations, but it’s their right to be. They don’t have to be a member of whatever little group they are criticizing in order to be critics, it only means that IF they are, they have more facts available to them to use to be critical with.
So, hypocrite, if you want to make your critics become Wiccan to criticize you, I suggest you shut up about the Christian Church and how EVIL they are, and shut up about the Satanists too. Or go join them and learn for a while before criticizing. To use your own words “Either become ______ or keep your mouth shut.”
Statement: “Witchcraft is the oldest religion….even older than time!”
Rebuttal: Let me state this very clearly: ELEMENTS of Wicca and Witchcraft may well go back multiple centuries, and you may be able to trace them back to homo erectus and before. Certainly it’s logical to assume that primitive wo/man worshiped the rain because they didn’t know what it was, but to call Witchcraft ancient because parts of it are old is to call a steel I-beam in the TransAmerica building ancient since the material it came from is ancient (iron which was made when the Earth was formed) or the computer that you sit at ancient since the gold circuit boards come from gold which is ancient….
I could go on, but I hope you can see the point. Just because part of something is ancient does not make the whole thing ancient. That would make Judaism and Christianity ancient since they both contain elements that come from Sumerian and Macedonian mythology (the tale of Noah and the Flood).
Face it, Witchcraft as it is currently practiced may be able to be traced back 200 years or so, Wicca can only be traced to about the 1950’s and many Neo-Pagan religions can only be traced back to (at the earliest) the beginning of the 1700’s. This does not make them ancient, nor does it invalidate that path. Mormonism can only be traced to 1850 or so and it’s not ancient, but that does not make it any less true for those who practice it.
Just practice your religion, practice your craft of the witch, use your skills, and don’t worry about trying to be “more witchy than thou” with claims of ancient unbroken lines. The need to validate is a symbol of your insecurities, nothing more. All those statements do is make you look like an uneducated fanatic which will cause you to be avoided by the very people you want to impress and/or learn from.
Statement: “I have done so much to show others that our religion is life-affirming and positive and then you show up and when people hear you or read you I lost credibility about what I taught these people. You “proved” to them that “we” are EVIL!”
Rebuttal: (In addition to see above about “we-ism”.) You have worked to show these “people” (whomever they are) that YOUR religion is life affirming and positive. There are many who hold beliefs totally opposite of what you believe, and that’s all right. But I want to point something out. No one voted you spokesperson for the entire spectrum of Neo-pagan beliefs. I certainly didn’t give you permission to speak for me. Just when did I join your group?
You can say it till you are blue in your face, but saying it does not make it so. Christians in the Middle Ages declared that they were peaceful and kind people, as shown by their God, but they still went out and murdered others on the Crusades for no other reason than the people they were killing weren’t Catholic. Christianity in multiple flavors came to the American Continent, started telling the natives that they were peaceful and loving, and then gave them blankets full of smallpox. I could go on.
So given that, your statement that “we” are peaceful and life affirming is not going to do anything to “show” anyone that * you * are peaceful and life affirming. The only thing that will show them that is your actions.
I personally think you messed up when you started attacking others who you consider “unworthy” of your blanket statements. Peaceful means “not inclined to attack” but you attacked. You wished death (or harm) on those who are disagreeing with you, but you claim to be “life affirming”? How very hypocritical of you.
It’s easy to be peaceful when there is no conflict. Work in the can banks and the soup lines. That shows you have a warm heart and that you care. But I have more respect for those peaceful, life-affirming students in Tiananmen Square than I do for your actions, since they were willing to loose their lives so that others could live. They were willing to be so peaceful that they wouldn’t take up arms against a state that was slaughtering them and were willing to stand in front of moving tanks to prevent them from getting to the areas they should be in. That student, the one standing in front of the tank in that famous picture, probably died that day. Yeah, that’s peaceful and life affirming. Show me that you have the same dedication and willingness to sacrifice, and I’ll believe you are personally peaceful. Until then, it’s all just talk and it never, ever gives you the right to state directly or by implication that “all” Neo-Pagans are just like you.
Originally posted 2009-10-26 17:40:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter