Over the years, I have found that many a person has this strange idea when it comes to the Pagan faiths. It as if, you know as soon as one converts, they [the pagan] are thrown back to the middles ages. People have this rather quirky notion that pots and pans turn into wands and broomsticks, that tables and chair turning to sacrificial altars and stone circles. At best, many people think that once one devotes themselves to the God and Goddess, reality bleeds away is magically replaced with Hogwarts schools and Weasly like houses. At worse, they believe that our God and Goddess are just whores, or the Christian devil. With this miniblog series, it is my hope to not only document my time growing as a Pagan, but to address these and many more misunderstood concepts so that we will be see as people. We are not the demons some people try to make us out to be.
When I somehow manage to get myself out of bed, which usually involves screaming and cursing the day for not giving me one more frigging hour to sleep, I liked to start my day out with a little ritual. I enjoy some lemon aid, more toast than anyone should eat, and a nice helping of thinkprogress for my news. While every news program, website and blog has a agenda and bias of some sort, I find that thinkprogress at least makes it tolerable for a bit. While I was scanning the numerous stories of how Mitt Rommy managed to screw yet another thing up, and even more numerous comments on it, I found a random link to "10 Cliches Christian's should never use". Written and later expanded upon by Christian Piatt, it gave some interesting insight to how some "religious" saying can just be mean, or down right insulting. From the first paragraph I knew it was going to be good;
"We Christians have a remarkable talent for sticking our feet in our mouths. When searching the words most commonly associated with “Christian,” the list ain’t pretty. I think part of this can be attributed to a handful of phrases that, if stricken from our vocabulary, might make us a little more tolerable. Yes, these things may mean something to you, but trust me, non-Christians don’t share your love for these tried-and-true cliches."If you are interested here is part one and part two.
After reading and very much enjoying both posts, I began to see the further merits of his rambling. Despite the comments calling Christian a "anti-Christ" and "false prophet", every religion that has even been or shall ever be could have this applied to it. Because it's true. Let's face it, now matter how great we think we are, or how much of the moral high ground we may have, we still have our idiots. The loud mouth git who just wants to cause drama in the name of [x] religion, the one who holds up what ever holy symbol and shoves it in peoples faces, or even the "convert to [x] religion or burn!" people. We all got them. In my previous rambling I spoke about how it was growing up as Pagan in a community that was mostly "you are the devil" wasn't easy. I wrote about how it wasn't rainbows and sunshine (like with most minority religions), but in time it got better, almost to the point where I can laugh about many such incidents now. Now I think it is only fitting that I write about the frustrations I had with my own community, and by that, I mean the idiots that give us all a bad name.
"Well because of The burning times I suffer...."
Let's begin with one of the two cliches I have heard and the one that really just make me want to stab them in the eye with a really hot and greasy french fry. It is a constant source of migraines to know some idiots have turned a historically tragic event into a "I'm more persecuted than you" or "Wahhhh pity me" fodder. Seriously we are not kids, we shouldn't act like this.
The term "Burning times" refers to one of the many dark time in our history (1692-ish) when men but mostly women, where burned at the stake, sunk to the bottom of a river, or worse because they where accused of being witches. During the trials, witnesses would recount said persons flying on brooms, casting spells to harm a neighbor or having sexy time with the devil. Apparently watching some one having sex wasn't a crime... but having sex was. While people burn at the stake, and witch trials are historical true, some of us have gone a bit to far with their interpretation of events. According to the theory, nasty evil Christian witch-hunters who's single minded purpose was to root out practitioners of older pagan religions roamed the lands unchecked and unchallenged. Que typical horrir theme here. Stories of Satanic worship, strange sex orgies and stranger things still where just made up in order to sway the masses into believing Wicca was a major problem.*1 In addition to this, and as if to add provability to said theory, because women where often the most targeted during this various trials and executions, it was believed that every woman was put down was indeed a witch. Why? Because women were generally considered the caretakers of magical and divine knowledge. And people say women don't do anything, ha! During this time, over nine million pagan lives were wrongly taken simply because they where Wiccan. Wikipedia tells me;
"This number was first calculated by an 18th century German who used a single location over a short span of time as his sample and then multiplied it to cover the entire period of the trials across the entire continent."
Yea, so a couple points here:
- While events like the Salem witch trials and various "witch burns" are historically true, it was not because so and so was a wiccan, pagan or something of that nature (is that a pun?). Wicca is the modern day reconstruction of the old pagan beliefs that was founded in the 1950's... way AFTER the witch burnings. Also the majority of the people accused of being a witch and burned where in fact not witches at all. Anyone who was not Christian (this includes Jews), where Christan but may have acted funny, looked funny, had over sized breast, were to sexy, healed with herbs, or was not well liked in the community was subject to "witch burnings". Think of it as a giant popularity contest gone wrong. This was shown repeatedly when the so called witness from the trails later admitted what they said was a lie and wanted the other person to suffer for [x] reason.
- Historians, and ones who actually know their stuff, put the actual number between 40,000 and 100,000 wrongful deaths. This is based upon trial records and taking into consideration that not all records have survived or were even taken in the first place. Honestly nine million people would most deferentially been better recorded and held in the same fear as the black death or even later the holocaust.
- Making the claim the "nine million of us where murdered in cold blood" is not only very vane but also very untrue. When people of this mind make the claim, they also make the claim they are worse of than the Christians who where lion feed and even more worse off than the Jews during the holocaust. This alone gives them permission to approach the rest of the world with "you owe me something" attitude... and working in retail that really pisses me off. Honestly now, it wasn't nine million poor innocent Wiccan's that died, hell it even wasn't us" for that matter. Randomly picking out events from history then getting all whinny about it isn't a excuse to bad mouth others who happen to share a religion (Christianity) with the witch-hunters of four hundred years ago. My mom is Christian and raised me very well, does that me she should be punished for some idiots actions 400 years ago?
Not only is the myth of the "Burning Times false" (or in some cases misunderstood), it's also disrespectful to the real victims of the witch-persecutions. If you really want to claim the moral high ground, then skip trying out for "the Most Persecuted Group in History" award. So then person who can freely wear a pentacle in public, you are not suffering because of the burning times, and there are no evil witch hunters out to get you. "But what about that Christian that's bothering and hating on me!" They would have done it anyway, like many idiots, they are only using religion as a excuse for things they would have done anyway.
Doing no harm also means not bashing other faiths for the actions of the idiot population.
"This pentacle means I'm a real pagan"
And now we come to the second thing the really burns me up. Every time I hear someone say this, at least from the type of people we are talking about today, I want to load up Civ5 and watch the world burn. The pentacle is a holy sign for people who believe (meaning and mileage may vary), and is rather useless for people who know nothing about it. Shockingly, buying some cheap ass necklace from hot topic does not automatically make you anything... save for a few dollars poorer. While many of the pagan faiths have adopted a "feel good and accept yourself" and "find your own way to the divine" attitude and way of life, there is a lot more to it. Like you know the God and Goddess for one... Wearing certain types of clothing, jewelery or using certain buzz words does not a Pagan make. The meaning, the heart and the will must be there.. else it's all useless and offensive fluff.
This isn't MTV sweaty, and Wicca/Paganism isn't a reality tv show with glitter and bling. Please keep that crap out of our faith.
"I'm Wiccan, I can do and believe what ever I want"
Wicca is a wonderful religion, one that I am proud to openly practice and support. It is because of how open we are, how accepting we are, on how we see that all faces of the God/desses (regardless of faith) are of the Divine. We see all paths (that are born of love and trust) as the correct path, as the right path. It is because of this openness that many unfortunately believe that they can call themselves Wiccans and just make it up as they go along. I'm sorry to say this kido, but one can not go out and shoot someone, then claim "I'm Wiccan so it's ok!" Moral standards, like "ye harm none, do what ye will", are not something you can change because it's to hard to follow. It's like a Christian saying the follow a all loving god, then praying (or even worse doing) for the world to burn, then laughing about it. *2 See how stupid that is? When joining a faith, even one that is open, there are still rules to follow. If this is ever so harsh to you, then perhaps the Pagan faiths are not for you...
"Hey look at me! I'm a seventh generation/incarnation Wicca from [insert powerful family/mythical being here]"
Awesome, now what's your point? In a previous time when life was simpler and we lived (mostly) with the land, I was a healer who used herbs and various potions to help the sick and dieing. Does that mean I know anything about healing now? No, of course not. The closest I come to it, is being a acceptable healer in a video game. While it may be cool to be part of a generalization family of pagans, this is something that should be shared and honored by the family, not thrown in peoples faces for popularity. Just like in Harry Potter (please pardon the reference) being part of a "long time magical family" does not make you any better or worse than anyone else.
Remember Wiccan and the various Pagan faiths are religions, not popularity contests.
That's it for today my fellow brothers and sisters! Join me next time when I respond to comments and hopefully work on the second part of this (assuming I don't get to much hate mail.) Blessings to all, and to all a good night !
*1 Hmmm making stuff up to confusing the masses, sound like our currently political climate doesn't it?
*2 Yea that's a stab at the idiots from the Westboro Baptist Cult.