Wednesday 7 September 2011

Guestblog by Ben Reeder

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? 

Witches: The new sparkly vampires.
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.
I’ll take that trade any day of the week.


  1. Great post! I have been studying Wicca for years as research for my books, but now, well, I just love so much about it. It really draws me in. Great, very informative post!

  2. Wicca has a lot of similarities to my "personalised" spiritualism, and I've always been drawn to it myself. Really is fascinating!

  3. Wow, informative blog. I have to wonder how one stumbles upon a Wiccan path. I am curious about the spells. Perhaps the blogger could write a description of how to do one next time?

  4. He's a guestblogger, but I could always ask for him to return and do another in the coming weeks, if you're interested. Thanks for the comment :)

  5. I've been in contact with Ben, and he's said he's more than happy to do that. Keep your eyes peeled, same day in the next week or two, he shall return!

  6. Wicca is excillent, it's quite easy to perform simple spells, some are a bit difficult and always remember when doing spells you always get it back 3 fold when doing.

  7. Oh most definitely. Don't put out there what you don't want back!

  8. Do you practice that Phoenix? Have you ever put a hex on anyone?

  9. I don't practice it myself, no. I'm interested in starting to, though, but, like Ben, I believe that what you put out there you get back, so I wouldn't put a hex on anything. Besides, it's just not a nice thing to do.

  10. Hex's aren't a smart way of practicing Wicca because they are classed as Black magic which is not the wiccan way, Wiccan's believe in peace and balance Not hexing someone to get back at them for something.

  11. Anonymous poster: Interesting that you first ask Phoenix if she practices then leap immediately to a very negative aspect of witchcraft. I will reiterate one of the lines near the end of the blog, because it appears you missed it. We put out the kind of energy we want to get back.

    This applies in life as well as magick. Lies, infidelity, dishonesty, pettiness, all of these are things wiccans avoid because it just brings more of the same energy, and draws the kind of people who feed off of that kind of energy. And people like that don't need hexes. They screw their lives up handily on their own. So not only do wiccans not cast hexes, they don't really NEED to. The kind of people who would engender that kind of reaction do a good job of hexing themselves with their own behavior!

  12. Well said, Ben. I also believe that, of those that Ben mentioned, people who genuinely want to move on from mistakes make it happen and will ignore all adversities until it's clear to the Universe that some mistakes aren't the real person. When people don't let go of old habits, they can't ever be truly happy. We've all made mistakes to some degree, all that we can do is move on. I know I have left all my mistakes in the past.