Granted there are a lot of fluffy writings published by writers trying to cash in on the rapid growth in numbers of people interested in Wicca. But have you ever stopped to look at some of the so-called druidic writings out there? (21 lessons of Merlin and books of that ilk, anyone? There are some more recent offending books, but I will leave those off for that supposed future time when I do book reviews, if I get around to it.) I have read a lot of spurious history, fanciful accounts of imaginary Celts, and gross mis-readings of surviving native Celtic cultural evidence, and a misunderstanding of the professional institutions that the Celts once included in the druidic rubric. How come only Celtic scholars and members of the native cultures ever seem to have anything to say about the fluffiness of many Neo-Pagan druids?
Wicca itself is not responsible for the rise of fluff bunnies and despite the fact that many self-identified Wiccans exhibit fluffy traits does not mean that Wicca itself is fluffy. Many of you seem to have forgotten this salient fact and it’s high time you all divorce yourself from your prejudices for at least enough time to look at what it is you criticize.
Many of you Pagans don’t like much of Wiccan ideas, practices, theologies, and other things. And that is fine. Neo-Paganism has a wide variation of traditions, religions, and forms. Wide enough to accommodate just about everyone who finds themselves Pagan in this modern world. Just because you don’t like Wicca, doesn’t mean all of it has nothing of value nor does it mean that it is fluffy, no matter how many spurious books or even people you meet that are calling themselves Wiccan. (Hell, there are a lot of spurious Christian writings and people as well. I don’t hear any of you ranting and trying to claim that Christianity is fluffy.)
Also, calm down a little bit. I too am disturbed that most of the recent Wiccan published material seems geared towards either fluffies or new-comers. The new-comer basic-101 material is there simply because of Wicca’s rapid growth. A lot of us Neo-Pagans, Wiccan or otherwise, have been around for a while and so we see much of that material as useless to us, but many of the new-comers who are just starting out can gain much from some of the recent material. And I venture to say that most of the new-comers will do as many of us have done and be able to determine what is golden and useful and what is spurious fluffy crap. Remember when you were just starting out and you were simply happy to connect with any material that was remotely Pagan or Wiccan? Don’t try to lie and say you were always the experienced Pagan.
Some of you think that the proliferation of beginner-Wicca materials and the fluffy material is due to the fact that writers are trying to cash in (materially or mentally) off the trend. However, despite the fact that some writers may have that as a motive, think about it for a minute. Writers write to have others read their work. Writers would like to be rewarded for their work. And frankly, writing Pagan books isn’t very financially rewarding. (Who besides Starhawk has actually been able to earn enough money from writing to live on?) And even if one writer becomes a name that most Pagans will know, what does that mean in the broader society? Not much. Many good and experienced Pagans, Wiccan and otherwise, who teach and who may be wonderful writers could never devote themselves full time to such a task because of the patent lack of community support for such activities. Herein lies one reason why you may not see many advanced or good quality materials being published. Besides all that, I venture to say that most of what can be called Neo-Pagan religions is about living the life, not reading texts.
Some of you rant about the ethic of “Harm none” and think that this means all sorts of spurious light-headed all-is-love approaches to life. No, you say. Life has hardness and fierceness too. You would be surprised to know that that was driven home to me by my own Wiccan practice and learning, as prejudiced as you are towards Wicca. You can keep attacking the Harm None ethic and list all sorts of reasons why this idea is not possible in the “real” world. But your straw man attack says nothing about the real ethic. (Which is really “If it harms no one, do as you will. If it harms someone, do as you must.”) What is wrong with taking responsibility for your own actions and realizing that a lot of bullshit in this world is caused by human beings directly causing other beings to suffer? Nothing is wrong with not wanting to cause undue harm to others. If you think it is impossible, than you may want to question why you continue to choose to live in a society with ethics, laws, and respect for others (at least as ideals). And you who rail against the rede should really think about the “do as you must” part. The lifestyle of being a sentient being necessarily includes respect for the life around you. Thus, harm is not done by us Wiccans so flippantly as some of you think makes up such an irreversible part of your lives. If you think that ethics based on non-harming are so impossible to live out, why do you then expect others to respect or cherish you yourself?
In my own culture and in my own life I have seen firsthand that what goes around comes around. It’s pretty funny that some of you don’t see it and I’d question the lack of merit in your character if you were so inclined as to tell me that a life without intentional harm is impossible. I understand if you don’t like Wiccan expressions of ethics, but pony up to the bar and confess it. Don’t go off using some straw man tangent about how impossible you feel Wicca’s ethics are. It makes you look like a fool to most of us.
Another thing: Stop going on and on about how recent or made up Wicca’s theology of its Maiden, Mother, and Crone is. Stop yacking in the same way about the dual aspect Horned God. It really won’t change a thing for the hundreds of thousands of us who live within that framework and have profound life altering experiences with our Ladies and Lords. There is nothing wrong with innovations in conceptions and approaches to divinity. I am sure that conceptions and approaches to divinity recorded in the surviving written evidence from ancient Pagan times were not the ways in which those ancient Pagans’ distant ancestors saw divinity. So come off your assumed “one-true-way-correct-accurate-historical” Paganism already. The Discordians have a saying: The ancient Greeks were not influenced by the ancient Greeks. This is something to reflect on.
I imagine that if the gods were offended, they would surely say so. It’s not up to you to guard against any innovations toward divinity. And besides all this, Wicca’s theology is the first Neo-Pagan theology upon which all other Neo-Pagan theologies have either built upon or reacted against. I’d rather stick with the innovation and creativity in Wicca’s approach to divinity and spirituality than try to recreate some dry intellectual exercise based off of the way ancient Pagans did things. Now, I of course know and admit this. Some of you may have problems with those sorts of people who may believe that Wicca is ancient Paganism distilled. In your criticisms of those sorts, I will support you. But even those sorts of people are not Wicca’s fault. (Even Gerald Gardner didn’t write from a position where he was saying that any earlier version of Paganism was like the Witchcraft he was inventing or “reviving.”)
I understand that many of you who blame Wicca for fluffiness, are against the rise of uncritical thinking skills. I have yet to see any of you apply these same skills to yourselves and your own lives. The lack of critical thinking is not Wicca’s fault. It is the fault of this consumerist society which seems to not even have any semblance of education being widely promoted. (Understandable in a society that trains us up to be dutiful workers and consumers.) It is not Wicca’s job to solve this problem for you if you can’t stand people being stupid. The job and the problem is yours. (An analogy: A physician who made a diagnosis and had the ability to effect a cure or therapy and yet refrained from acting is considered negligible and is liable under the law.)
It is high time to start sharing the burden. You find yourself having a problem with the rise of fluff bunnies in the Neo-Pagan community? Do something about it besides trying to prove how smart you are by railing against whatever your chosen target is. You ever thought about teaching some people? You ever thought about coming home to your own life and situation and ringing true with your practice of whatever Paganism you are involved in? You ever thought about sharing any profound experiences or learning you have with anyone else? You don’t have to be a teacher or a writer to do any of this. You simply need to remember yourself and the contributions that others made to your life, knowingly or not.
I am getting sick of having to explain Wicca to certain Pagans who feel that Wicca is the source of all that is fluffy. Sometimes I wonder if the anti-Wicca prejudice that says that Wicca is fluffy is simply the expression of those jealous both of its present rapid growth and of it being the most popular and visible Neo-Pagan religion. Some of you would probably attack Discordianism if it ever became so popular. (And that would be your undoing, most likely, since Discordians would simply make you the source of endless ritual parodies and the target of Erisian ceremonies.) It seems that the rest of you have confused what some fluffy bunnies do and say with Wicca and Wiccans as a whole and it is about time you let go of your prejudices. The world is changing. Neo-Pagan religions are growing rapidly in numbers and in community strength with Wicca being a major part of these changes. It is time to start owning up to the fact that there are differences among us which have nothing to do with the fluffy “problem.” And it seems to me now (despite my earlier rabidly anti-fluffy statements once upon-a-time) that we would be better off building up our strengths and cherishing our differences than attacking one another as the source of those damned fluffy bunnies. Fluffiness is a problem that belongs to all of us Neo-Pagans and we must all do something that will ensure that those trapped in fluffiness can grow out of it. They are members of our broader Neo-Pagan community after all. It is time we start looking after our own and stop blaming Wicca solely for the problem.
Constructive replies are appreciated and will be read and considered.
November 21st, 2005 / 21ú Samhain 2005
-Irreverend Hugh, KSC;
PMM Co-Episkopos, Pan-Goddess Diddling Witch of the Coven of Macha, Arch-Deacon and Rabbi of the International Great Discordian Jihad, long time Wiccan, spokesperson of slack, irreverent dharmachari [Buddhist], scourge of Chaos Magicians, and covert cohort of the Church of Eris. (And a whole lot of other amusing titles, labels and credentials which may or may not have any relevance, depending on who you are and what you want. Because it’s not about getting to know me as a person first, right?)
“Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.”
(Old saying of the Irish Nationalist community)
Copyright ©2006. All Rights Reserved by Author.
Permission is necessary before reposting or publishing. Otherwise this document may be shared freely so long as the text is unchanged and this notice is included. Permission secured by Daven’s Journal to reproduce these articles here.