Mormon Inquiry

Mormon Inquiry

Trendy Wiccans

No one gets too worked up about witches anymore. They’ve gone mainstream, even in the fairly conservative world of Mormonism. Check out this FMH post and its comments, for example, or this weblog. US Army chaplains now apparently get training in basic Wicca beliefs. Beliefnet even added A Pagan’s Blog to its wide-ranging blog lineup. So … is this a good thing or a bad thing? Progress or decadence?

On the one hand, this looks like a triumph of tolerance over sectarianism. As a Mormon, I’m all for tolerance: If people are less likely to burn witches, they are also less likely to shoot Mormons. It’s not like Wiccans were ever really a danger to society — they didn’t rob banks, start wars, or lynch Christians. Historical studies on the Salem episode have shown that those most likely to be accused of witchcraft were generally outspoken women, often single and often owning property or a business of their own. This certainly raises suspicions about the motives of the accusers.


On the other hand, one of the reasons few people now have a problem with witches (or Neopagans or worshippers of the Divine Feminine, etc.) is that this is a secular age when fewer people take religion seriously. Many people who don’t take Wicca seriously also don’t take hell or Satan or God seriously. [It’s not quite clear whether such people have a philosophical basis for taking anything seriously, but that’s for another post.] Others take God seriously but have edited hell and Satan and stereotypical witches from their personal theology.

So I’m fairly certain the recent mainstreaming of Wicca means something. I’m just not sure what that is.

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posted February 23, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Wicca’s just one more way to approach the divine. Live and let live, be and let be. Don’t worry about it.

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Annapurna Moffatt

posted February 23, 2009 at 5:20 pm

YAY! Hello religious tolerance!

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posted February 23, 2009 at 7:24 pm

I don’t really see why Wiccans wouldn’t want anyone to see that video. Also, it is no more ‘dumb’ than other religous services. I’m not sure if ‘trendy’ is the right word to descibe Wicca at this point, though it may very well be accurate. Time will tell.
Blessed Be,

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posted February 23, 2009 at 7:33 pm

That video was made by the Correlian Nativist Church for the specific purpose of posting onto youtube. I’m not sure how this is supposed to be a “secret” video?

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posted February 23, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Being raised with a Mormon stepdad, I was allowed to read the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and others. It became clear to me that Mormonism is based on ceremonial magic and it is still practiced in the temples. So a treehugging, witch with too many cats like me shouldnt cause anyone concern. I can dance with the moon, converse with the wind, call up the rain, and rejoice in the sunrise. Life and love is what its about. Blessings to you for your inquiring open mind.

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posted February 23, 2009 at 11:15 pm

I left the RLDS Church about 1994 and am now Wiccan. The idea of a feminine deity isn’t too far fetched in Mormon Theology (Salt Lake Mormonism, to differentiate from the other “Mormon” groups which share a common history), as the belief of a God and his wives and the procreation of spirit children to populate a world, etc., so it is there but not really something dealt with in Mormon beliefs as it is the male, “Heavenly Father”, who gets the worship and attention. There was a time when some of the Mormon women, in the 80,s or 90,s, tried worshiping “Heavenly Mother” but this was, lets say, discouraged by the leadership of the LDS Church.
In early Christianity, the Godhead was also seen as having a feminine side as well. Her name was referred to as Sophia, however during time and evolution, all reference to the feminine was dropped for the more “traditional” male God.
Even in early development of the Hebrew religion, there was also the Feminine in the Hebrew Pantheon. That also changed in time with the change of the Hebrew faith.
During the time of the ancient Hebrew peoples, the surrounding religions had both male and female Gods.
Dave, you commented:
“Many people who don’t take Wicca seriously also don’t take hell or Satan or God seriously. [It’s not quite clear whether such people have a philosophical basis for taking anything seriously, but that’s for another post.]”
May I suggest that some do not take it seriously as there is information showing that what is perceived, as “always being so” was never written in stone. History shows the growth, change and evolution that the Christian religion has gone through. As people learn and study the histories, I think it becomes clear that everything isn’t as black and white as some would like to think it is. The Concept of the Christian Satan and Hell has evolved over time, to what most people think of it today but it was not as thought of in the same light at the inception of early Christianity. It, like many things and beliefs, evolved and changed to suit and fit political and religious needs.
Speaking for myself, having become Wiccan has been the most freeing, spiritually, physically, and mentally. Granted, Wicca or Paganism isn’t for everyone. Those of us of the Wiccan/Pagan religion realize this and have no problem of others who look into the religion and discover that it isn’t for them. We can only wish them the best in finding their spiritual path.

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Floyd the Wonderdog

posted February 24, 2009 at 7:01 am

I wished my employee a happy Samhan at Halloween. This freaked her out because she thought that no one at work knew that she was Wiccan. She later approached me and asked if Mormons believed in a Heavenly Mother. When I said we did, she was stunned. She could join the church except for that whole lesbian thing.

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Your Name

posted February 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I think that the addition of a Pagan blog to Beliefnet is a good thing in that it brings another religious voice to the roundtable in the public square. There is even a more positive form of dialogue taking place between some Christians and Pagans with the recent book by Philip Johnson and Gus diZerega (the Pagan blogger at BeliefNet) in Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and Christian in Dialogue (Lion, 2008), where I was privileged to serve as editor.
Beyond this, of course the boundaries between religions have always been fuzzy at times and there is an interesting phenomenon involving Mormons who also practice Wicca, Paganism, or esotericism. Doe Daughtrey is pursuing her PhD on this at Arizona State University and she has written and published on this. She can be found here:

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posted February 24, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Greetings Dave,
For the last 50 years or so there has been a growing tendency for the spiritually hungry to take a look at a faith, say “The God I believe in wouldn’t want to be like that.”, and move on. People are coming to their own conclusions about the Divine nature and all the other really big questions. Rather than looking to a priest for answers they want a toolbox for finding their own. This is why Neo-Paganism and some of the Eastern spiritual paths have become more and more popular. The internet has accelerated this process by making information about many systems available to the curious.
I believe that ultimately this process will lead to a period of new theological thought and creativity in all faiths as people begin to re-examine the basic questions.

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Your Name

posted February 25, 2009 at 12:42 am

It is such a blessing to see someone approach the growing interest in (Neo-)Paganism with such an unbiased point of view. Can you believe that I’ve actually had holy water splashed in my face and been called the devil’s whore? Where I come from, the norm is a tie between religious zealotry or complete apathy towards religion. There are only a handful of us in the middle. This article just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Bright blessings!

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posted February 25, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I would love to live in an area where few people concerned themselves with Pagans/Wiccans. But, I don’t- I live in the South, where, if I want my children to be left alone(even in school),and a want to keep a place to live, I have to keep my beliefs to myself. It IS wonderful that Beliefnet now has a Pagan blog,though. The only way we’re ever going to get to a point where we will be accepted, or at least tolerated, is to have some open dialog out there. I just hope some of the southerners I have to deal with start reading it soon.

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posted March 4, 2009 at 8:21 pm

We’re not ‘trendy’. Wicca isn’t a fad.

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