So I'm hosting my first guestblog. I'm not sure exactly how to introduce it, so I'll keep it simple. The subject: Witches and Wicca. The blogger: Ben Reeder, author of The Demon's Apprentice, which I recently reviewed. You'll also find an interview with Ben on my blog regarding his writing.
Well, enough from me,let us get to this guestblog, shall we?
So, one of my granddaughters came over the other day and told me about “The Secret Circle”, a new show about witches on TV. A little research shows it is based on a novel series…no, wait, let me clarify: a young adult fantasy romance series, of the same name. Wow, that’s a lot of genres to fit into one book. According to the ads, the main character is an ancestral witch. So, my granddaughter had questions, because, well, Pawpaw Ben has been a witch since before she was born.
Now, she’s a smart girl, and she knows the difference between fantasy & reality. Her questions weren’t “Why don’t you have cool powers like they do on the show?” No, she was asking “Do you have to be related to a witch to be a witch?” This, of course, got me to thinking about the price of mainstream acceptance for my religion.
When I first started walking the path of a wiccan, in 1987, wicca was only just beginning to emerge from the shadows. There were only a handful of books about the Craft and even fewer places where you could buy them. I spent a year and a day learning to visualize and meditate, learning about the power of symbols, the four elements, the wheel of the year and their meanings. When an older SCA friend found one of my pentacles, I remember being so embarrassed because she was so disappointed in me. I even had to answer questions about my religious/political leanings from the Air Force at the time. Of course, given what I did, that was routine, and it only took a little bit to clear up the misunderstandings. Still, I’ve been told by people that I had no right to be wearing my pentacle, and that freedom of religion didn’t extend to cults or Satanism.
Now, I can go into Barnes & Noble and find literally twenty yards of books on the subject. A multitude of books, films and TV shows about the witchy side of my religion have come out over the past two decades, some more entertaining than accurate, some less so on both counts. One of them is mine. Like all things that are now accepted in the mainstream, there is a lot of information that is either missing or completely inaccurate. So, I still have to field some interesting questions sometimes.
To be clear on some common misconceptions:
No, we don’t worship the Devil. We don’t even believe in him, because he’s part of the Christian pantheon.
No, we don’t sacrifice animals. We revere life in all its forms. It doesn’t mean we’re all vegetarians or vegans, but it does mean we don’t kill helpless critters as part of our worship.
You don’t have to be an ancestral or hereditary witch to be a Wiccan. It doesn’t make you any stronger or more powerful any more than having a grandfather who was a carpenter makes you a better carpenter. It just makes some people think that it does.
Yes, we DO cast spells, but the ones in the movies look way cooler. Our magick tends to be more subtle, and it requires that we do some of the work ourselves. Personally, I prefer the mystery anyway.
No, we do NOT cast love spells, nor do we curse or hex anyone. Love spells are, in my opinion, an attempt at emotional rape, and every person who has asked me to do a love spell was not willing to let me make them fall in love with the person of MY choosing. No idea why. Those kinds of spells are against the code of ethics we practice, which comes down to harm none. Doing bad stuff also brings more crap into your life, which sort of negates any short term profit you might get from it. Karma is like a boomerang, it always comes back, only karma brings friends along for the ride. So whatever you throw out there, you get more of the same back.
We don’t proselytize. For a pagan, finding this path feels like coming home. There are no converts here, only people who went seeking and found what they were looking for.
Here is what we do, in a nutshell:
We believe that the Divine is both male and female, so we revere the Goddess as much, as the God.
We celebrate the Wheel of the Year, the seasons of life.
We try to put out the kind of energy we want to get back.
We laugh at movies that make us out to be more than what we are, and we don’t like movies that make us out to be worse than we truly are. And we seldom agree completely on which are which, because like anyone else, we’re all unique, and see things differently.
So, there are pros and cons to being a wiccan today. While it is more accepted, there are just as many misconceptions about who we are, what we do and what we are capable of. Fortunately, those questions have changed. Where once a Wiccan had to defend their faith, now we spend more time educating people about it.