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Project Conversion

Today should be interesting.

We have some family friends–we’ll call them the Smiths–who have looked forward to this month for a long time. You see, Mr. Smith has a sister who’s getting married in December…to a self-proclaimed Wiccan!

Scary stuff, I know. The interesting part is that once the Smiths found out what I was doing and that I would practice Wicca in October, that maybe–just maybe–they’d get a chance to understand what this faith is really all about.

You see, the Smiths are Christians, ones who happen to be involved in the leadership of their church. They don’t have the luxury of seeking out a Mentor or attracting an online community of nearly 100 Pagans to help them navigate the details and side streets of the faith. For them to independently learn about Wicca is like asking someone to start a journey without giving them point A or B. All they have to go on is a fragmented mosaic of information off the Internet, and we all know where that can get us sometimes.

The Smiths are genuinely worried, because they acknowledge that all they know are the stereotypes. Trouble is, how do you distinguish between truth and cultural hype?

Here’s what they’ve told me about the brother-in-law to be:

    1. He dresses in all black, all the time (yes, yes, trench coat included).
    2. Appearantly, he brags about using animal sacrifice.
    3. The Smith’s kids are terrified of this dude.

That’s what I’m working with and this is where Project Conversion becomes really important. All of a sudden, I just became a liaison between two faith systems. The Smiths don’t want to be judgemental Christians who jump to unsubstantiated conclusions (though they have a genuine concern), and at the same time, I want to make sure they have the best information possible so that regardless of what they come away with, at least it wasn’t based on cultural fluff.

Now I’ll tell you what I told them from my limited experience with Wicca. Your job today is two-fold. 1) To edit any information I have already told them before we meet tonight to talk it out in more detail. 2) Provide any additional information/resources the Smiths could use.

First, wearing all black with the trench coat. As far as I know, the color black is a powerful symbol in Wicca and other faiths based on spell work because of its energy absorption properties. This notion isn’t foreign to science because we know that black attracts and absorbs solar energy while white or lighter colored material reflects light. Thus, we often have black cloaks in ceremonies, a black-handled athame, and other such tools.

Seems pretty inocuous, right? I mean, there is a great deal of utility there. My impression? The guy wants to look strange. I don’t think he’s wearing all black to attract the energies of the universe…I think he’s wearing all black to attract the attention of bystanders and family members. He’s a post-pubescent goth kid. Just my take.

Animal sacrifice. Here’s where the basics of Wicca comes in. The Wiccan Rede states at the end, “An ye harm none, do as ye will.” Now I know that “harm” is very subjective, however a faith that is built around the divinity of nature conflicts with any notion of killing animals for sacrificial use. I was told on several occasions that anything on my altar or used for practice this month that was found outdoors could not be taken, but found. That means I don’t saw off tree branches, I picked them up off the ground. I don’t shoot a bird for the feathers, I find them on the ground as well. Want to use bones for a ritual? Get them from an animal corpse–but clean them first for Goddess sake!

The point is that animal sacrifice–killing an innocent creature of the Goddess’s creation–for one’s selfish, malicious use, is sick and just wrong. Period.

So what’s my take on this guy given the information I have? He’s showing off. He’s doing his own thing for shock value and in the process he’s propagating age-old stereotypes and misinformation Wiccans and Pagans have worked against for years. Sans any inaccuracies on my part, I will inform the Smiths as such. They follow this blog, so I hope that the information they glean here (it’s only the tip of the iceberg!) is enough to set them straight about the Pagan and Wiccan paths. As Margot Alder said, “We’re just like you.”

What do you think of this so-called Wiccan? Is this a common behavior? As a Wiccan or Pagan, how do you react to such portrayals? If there is any additional information you could provide or any edits to what I’ve told the Smiths so far, please let me know in the comments section. Blessed be!

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