“The Evil Pagan Influx”

     While watching a special on Halloween last night, there was an interview with a “Christian” minister who was ranting about this holiday and the “evil pagan influx into this country.” Over the course of the next few minutes, he proceeded to blame paganism for every ill and moral sin currently rampant in this country, and called for Christians everywhere to spend this Devil’s Night educating themselves and others on this horrid, devil worshipping cult of pagans who are ruining the youth of this country. I stared in absolute shock at the television for about ninety seconds, actually appalled that someone in the year 2010 would actually believe and preach this utter nonsense! Has nothing changed since the 1600’s? Are witches still women riding on brooms and blighting crops? I don’t expect acceptance, but I did expect tolerance and knowledge. Heres a few of my favorite quotes before I head off into the land of education:

“We are not evil. We don’t harm or seduce people. We are not dangerous. We are ordinary people like you. We have families, jobs, hopes, and dreams. We are not a cult. This religion is not a joke. We are not what you think we are from looking at T.V. We are real. We laugh, we cry. We are serious. We have a sense of humor. You don’t have to be afraid of us. We don’t want to convert you. And please don’t try to convert us. Just give us the same right we give you–to live in peace. We are much more similar to you than you think.” Margot Adler

“If you take [a copy of] the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible IS the wind and the rain.” Herbalist Carol McGrath

“When one defines oneself as Pagan, it means she or he follows an earth or nature religion, one that sees the divine manifest in all creation. The cycles of nature are our holy days, the earth is our temple, its plants and creatures our partners and teachers. We worship a deity that is both male and female, a mother Goddess and father God, who together created all that is, was, or will be. We respect life, cherish the free will of sentient beings, and accept the sacredness of all creation.” Edain McCoy

     So..some basic FAQ’s? Wicca, sometimes called “The Craft” or “The Craft of the Wise” is one of many earth-based religions. The religion which is closest to Wicca in America is probably Native American spirituality. Traditional Wicca was founded by Gerald Gardner (Gardenian Wicca), a British civil servant, who wrote a series of books on the religion in the 1940’s. It has references to Celtic deities, symbols, seasonal days of celebration, etc. Added to this were components of ceremonial magic and practices of the Masonic Order. A more recent form is eclectic Wicca which involves a combination of Wiccan beliefs and practices, combined with other Pagan and non-Pagan elements. The various traditions of Wicca are part of the Pagan or Neopagan group of earth-based religions. Wicca and Satanism are not at all similar religions. However, the Christian church did link them in the past — particularly during the Witch burning times of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance (by the way…not one “witch” was ever burned at the stake!). They regarded Witches as Satan worshipers. Some Christian denominations have not been particularly thorough in correcting mistakes of the past. So, Wicca and Satanism continue to be linked in many people’s minds. This problem is rapidly fading as more Wiccans come out of the closet and become public with their faith.

     Wiccans do not recognize an all-evil deity or quasi-deity like Satan. Christianity and Islam are the main religions that teach of Satan’s existence, either as an evil principle or as an all-evil fallen angel with supernatural powers. Common to almost all Wiccans is the recognition of the existence of the Goddess, and her consort the horned God. These may be viewed as real living personal entities, or as symbols. Wiccans follow the Wiccan Rede “An it harm none, do what thou will.” This means that as long as it harms no one, including yourself, one is free to do what they wish. A Wiccan carefully reviews the implications of each action or non-action in her/his life. Domination, manipulation and control are particularly prohibited by the Rede. Wiccans typically go through a dedication ritual at the start of their training, where they declare their intent to study Wicca. If they choose, they experience an initiation ritual when they complete their first study of the religion — often a period of a year and a day. Wiccans engage in rituals, either alone or within a coven of other Wiccans. They are committed to personal spiritual growth.

      How does Wicca differ from Christianity? In many ways, the two are similar. For example, the have similar ethics of reciprocity. The Wiccan Rede and Christianity’s Golden Rule both emphasize kindness to and consideration of others. But there are many differences: On sexual and gender matters: Wicca has generally accepted the equality of men and women. Christianity has historically reserved positions of power in the church, the rest of society and the family for men. Wicca regards responsible sexual behavior as a gift of the Goddess. Some committed Wiccan couples engage in private sexual rituals. Christianity has tended to have a negative and restrictive view of sexual behavior. Wicca generally accepts all sexual orientations as normal and natural: heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual. Wicca is largely an oral tradition, and has no holy text that corresponds to the Christian Bible. Wiccans stress the cycles of life and look upon time largely as cyclical. Christians mainly view time as linear. Most Wiccans reject the concept of Heaven and Hell, and embrace reincarnation. The concept that a person must believe certain things or behave in a certain way to achieve salvation and avoid being tortured in Hell for all eternity is foreign to Wicca. Wiccans feel close to nature and are highly concerned about its preservation. Wiccans do not proselytize. In particular, they do not usually dedicate, teach, or initiate potential converts unless they are 18 years or older. Where possible, and where it is safe to do so, Wiccans prefer to perform their rituals out-of-doors.

Hey………if you have questions……ask?

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