Tuesday, August 27, 2013

R is for Righteousness

The more I watch Wicca change over the years, the more I have to chuckle.  What started as a practice which was all about freedom and breaking with restrictive social norms is slowly becoming a practice of new (albeit warped) conservatism.  What do I mean?

Well, here are some "thou shalt nots" which I have come across while speaking to younger Wiccans (mostly eclectic):

Thou shalt not:

-- Suggest that what others are doing is hogwash.  You have no right to question another's right to believe that they are a fuzzy pink unicorn, and if I want to teach Wicca on the Internet and charge $300 per degree, it is my prerogative. 

-- State that sex and drugs were ever a part of witch practices.  To do so is surely an affront to the Goddess, and no those don't fall under acts of love and pleasure, they checked.

-- Define your own communities.  Anyone who claims to be Wiccan must be recognized as such, got it?  I can abduct Mayan gods for my circle if I want to.

This new conservatism is not just marked by what we cannot do, it also is marked by what we must do or be.  If we don't, or we are not, then we are not really Wiccan:

Thou shalt:

-- Be out and loud about your practices.  How can we be the world's next uber religion if we don't shout it from the rooftops? It's all a numbers game, man.

-- Be a vegetarian, but being a vegan is best.  Screw The Lord of the Hunt, he's just the Goddess's boy toy anyway. Oh, and those beeswax candles, you know how many bees dies for those? You should use LED faux candles to avoid petroleum based products too.

-- Politicize the Craft.  If you aren't screaming that the environment, women's rights, religious freedom etc. are in danger, and using Wicca as a platform to do it, you are not doing it right.

-- Be obsessed with organics foods, GMOs, gluten, homesteading, composting or some other similar pursuit you are just not Wiccan enough, or even Pagan enough for that matter.

These are just a few of the expected behaviors of the new regime.  I am not downing the importance of environmentalism, political action, or inclusiveness. I am simply saying that before Wicca came to the US, and before it became a self initiating free for all, it was a practice of Witchcraft.  That is how many traditionalists still practice it.  That is, between our charity work, our jobs, raising our families, and our political activism we focus on the practice of magic and the worship of the Old Gods.  We just choose to approach these other important things as John and Jane Q. Public instead of representatives of Wicca. The Christian Right wants to meddle in our government, and I don't think that lobbying congress as Wiccans is much different.  I like my church and state separate, thank you very much.  I like my food locally grown because I like to help my neighbor, not because I am fighting Monsanto for the Goddess.  I eat meat because its delicious and because it places me in the cycle of life, death and rebirth in a way that has meaning for me as a male in relation to the God.  I have no desire for Wiccan Churches; no desire to unseat the Christians as the largest world religion. I respect and honor Pagan activists like Selena Fox for her tireless work preserving and protecting the rights of those who need help, but I respectfully rebel against the demands of the New Wicca as detailed above.  After all, witchcraft begins with rebellion.   

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Q is for Quarters


Wow, Q doesn't leave much to choose from.  So, without launching into a blog which could become a book, I will make just some passing statements about some of the associations I find pertinent to my Craft.  If they strike a chord with you, that's great.  If not, well...  

Several books have been written about the quarters and their associations. If we stick with one set of directional and elemental associations, we will get much further.  As we all know, there are various versions the quartered circle.  The Eastern traditions use additional elements to the four more commonly known in the Western Esoteric traditions.   Some traditions use different colors to represent these elements and may place them in different quarters.  Therefore, for the sake of clarity I will state that I am talking about Air in the East, Fire in the South, Water in the West and Earth in the North.  I will also state that I am in the athame/east/air camp with the wand in the South associated with fire.  My reasons for this are numerous, and I think that placing the athame in the south with fire is plausible due to its association with the Will, but I don't feel that it holds up once we start trying to place the wand in the east with air.  That is, however,  a subject which may become a blog in and of itself so I won't go into it too much here.

So, some interesting quarter associations.... Well, how about this:  east is for joy, south is for lust, west is for terror and north is for sorrow?   Or, east is for ignorance, south is for anger, west is for wisdom and north is for silence?  We might want to place some value judgements on the correspondences  which we feel are "negative" such as anger, ignorance, or terror, but should we?  One of the reasons that we make all these associations is so that we can ritually speak with a nonverbal language through our actions for the purpose of ritual or spell work. In order for this language to be complete, we must include the whole of life's experiences.  The circle and its quarters represent all of creation, and not every thing in our world (or between ours and others) is pleasant or "good."  

Therefore I challenge anyone who might read this to take the most difficult aspects of your personality, or the most unpleasant of your life's experiences and try to place them on the quartered circle.  I think you will learn a great deal about yourself, and maybe even learn what you may have unknowingly learned from these unpleasant experiences.  I know that I have.

Remember: fire consumes air, air feeds fire, water shapes earth, and earth absorbs water.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

P - is for Pagan Meetups

I have started attending more Pagan community events in an attempt to put a face out there for traditional Wicca in an area which, despite its size, has very few trad Wiccans. In the past I have purposely avoided such gatherings for a number of reasons.  First reason being that they are often poorly organized, loud and offer no opportunity to carry on any conversations which might bring about true understanding between Pagans (at least in my area this is the case).  The second reason I had avoided these was because they were often populated by the myriad of crazies and con artists which typified my area's Pagan scene when I was seeking.  Truly, my city seemed to be the landing spot for every sexual predator, every Fraudnerian, and every money seeking charlatan who had been drummed out of every other Pagan scene in the country. A third reason would be that, as a coven leader, I had a lot to do just assisting my HPS in running my own coven, training potential initiates and attending to traditional matters in my own back yard.  Upon attending my first event, I was not shocked to see much of what I had in the past, but as I sought out different meetings around the city, I discovered that there were Meetups which had mostly sane people.  These Pagans carried on conversations where one person talked, and the others listened and then responded with mostly coherent words and concepts! Progress!  I was very relieved that I was able to discover such hopeful news.  

In the group which I have attended, on three occasions now, there seems to be a demand and focus on mutual respect.  This supports the growth of relationships and fosters positive communication and interactions between folks from different walks of Pagan life.  There is, I think, still a pervading sentiment that one still must assert one's right to believe a certain way.  It's as if there is an Uber-PC sentiment which must allow and support all notions because if we don't we cannot hope to have acceptance ourselves.  This is conveyed by prefacing or following each statement with things like "as long as you don't tell me what to believe, then we are all good" or, "as long as you don't tell others they are wrong, then we are all good".  

I agree that people should have the right to believe and practice to their heart's content, but is a call for total permissiveness appropriate?  Are we never wrong? Do we not discover at times that the assumptions we had or the information we were presented with was false?  There are forbidden topics at this Meetup because they are considered argumentative.  These are: chaos magic, blood magic and "anything else that will start a fight".  Ok, good.  We don't want to purposely be a troll and start a fight. I am puzzled by these two specific topics as being the two singled out as examples, but I suppose that there must be a precedent for this. Further, there are many practices in which animal sacrifice is still common and appropriate within the confines of those traditions.  Santeria would be an example.  I use blood meal in my garden as a form of magic and offering to the land spirits.  I dare not tell though, as it would be blood magic.  It might cause a fight. (??)

Communities grow and change with time.  I reentered my local Pagan community with little expectation of progress and found that some had been made.  At least there is dialog happening, even if it is more superficial, and an attempt is being made for real community. There is a lot of work to do, and I hope to make a positive impact as time goes by.