Project Conversion

Project Conversion


Helping People Calm Down About Wiccans

posted by abowen

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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Mdawn

posted November 25, 2011 at 2:58 am


This sounds like a classic ‘dabbler’ to me (someone who does things for the shock and awe and is not into for the religion and for the right reasons) though I do agree with helen/hawk, I have been known to throw a joke out there about a stereotype, to diffuse tension, but that was just the wrong one to throw out.



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Nicholas Farrell

posted November 2, 2011 at 5:50 am


Speak for yourself, Debby. I’ve known some Wiccans to do blood magick and sacrifice. Keep in mind that blood sacrifice does not always involve killing the animal or person whose blood you are using. Some even use their own blood or bodily fluids to work magick. As to this guy, he sounds like he’s doing it more for shock value than anything else. I agree that he sounds like a creep though.



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DB

posted October 26, 2011 at 2:20 pm


Another book recommendation, Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions by River and Joyce Higginbotham.



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abowen

posted October 26, 2011 at 1:40 pm


aka Cookie,

Where did I lose you?



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aka Cookie

posted October 26, 2011 at 5:41 am


Well you’ve lost me this month…see you in November…Aloha



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abowen

posted October 25, 2011 at 11:39 am


Emily,

Your point about giving thanks to the divine and thereafter eating the meat as sacrifice is eye-opening. I think many folks who offering a “blessing” before meals often oversee this aspect of their practice. Thanks for the reminder!



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abowen

posted October 25, 2011 at 11:21 am


Helen/Hawk,

Good point. I found out later that this dude is 45 and still lives with his mother. Oh well…



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Helen/Hawk

posted October 24, 2011 at 4:57 am


It’s occured to me that his animal sacrifice may well have been humor. Throwing a negative stereotype out in defense. Depending on how the original conversation went….if it felt like an inquisition, sarcasm may well have been the response, kwim?

The part about the kids being scared of him may well be all about Their ideas of what witches are. I mean when you’re 1st introduced to witches by Hansel & Gretal, kinda hard to have an open mind, ya know?



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Debby

posted October 24, 2011 at 2:22 am


This fellow is in no way what would be agreed upon as a Wiccan. He may be some sort of Pagan, but few Neo-pagans that I know of practice any sort of blood sacrifice, and a Wiccan most definitely would NOT. He sounds like a creep; I’d advise the girl to run as far and as fast away from this guy as she can! It sounds like he is using the label Wiccan to justify animal cruelty and bullying. As an initiate of a Traditional Wiccan coven, and a survivor of an abusive relationship, I think I know what I’m talking about.



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