Posts Tagged With: Religion

Witchcraft 101: Integrity… Making that choice! (part 4)

Witchcraft 101: Integrity… Making that choice! (part 4)

Author: Wren 

Since its inception, the Witches’ Voice, has been barraged with email asking the simple question… “How do I become a Witch”? Although, it has never been the mission of the Witches’ Voice to actually teach Witchcraft we find ourselves constantly shocked at the aweful responses the Teenage Witch or new seeker receives from many that “claim” themselves “elders” of the craft. For this we apologize. We will never preach or claim to “have the answer”.There are indeed many paths and many ways, it is our goal to give you the tools to get started and what to look out for.

Part #4…

Integrity: Making a Commitment

What? Are YOU Still Here?

You have probably noticed -astute students that you are!- that I have made little mention of the Gods and Goddesses in this series. In fact, early on I cautioned you to NOT make a commitment to the Old Ones just yet. There is a real reason for this and it is now time to discuss it.

There has been a small but insistent clamor lately from those who wonder why no one is teaching the “deeper” things of the Craft. The first reason is that these are difficult issues to write about. The second reason is that they are even more difficult to actually work through. And the third reason? (I’m Celtic-I think in threes!) These are the issues that will determine if Witchcraft is really the religion for you.

You may think that you are sure already. “Of course, Witchcraft is for me! Why would I have been studying this for a year and a day if I didn’t think this was my Path?”, you may exclaim. Well, hold off on that impassioned vow. A few more moments will not make a difference…or will it?

What you have been DOING so far is studying and practicing. What you have been LEARNING is what all this study and practice means to YOU. You have been forming your own sense of…

INTEGRITY:

What is “Integrity”? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “integrity” means “The condition of having no part or element taken away or wanting; undivided or unbroken state; material wholeness; completeness; entirety.” Or better still, “The condition of not being marred or violated; unimpaired or uncorrupted; a condition of soundness.”

That is what you have been learning to do in the previous lessons. You have been doing exercises that have helped you to form your own ‘faculty of judgment’, your own ‘condition of soundness’. You have been working on building your personal integrity. You have to know what it is that you believe before you can make a decision on what is right or wrong for you.

Many problems that now exist in the Pagan community would probably never have come about if more people had taken the time and made the honest effort to find out if Witchcraft really was for them BEFORE they made a commitment to it. Instead they find themselves in situations where they are forced to either, 1. admit that they made a wrong choice, or 2. try to change the religion to fit them. Instead of Witchcraft transforming them, some attempt to transform Witchcraft to suit their particular needs and desires. They are ‘continually re-inventing’ Witchcraft and Wicca to suit themselves!

A PROMISE IS A PROMISE“…

If you have decided that Wicca is your religion of choice, you have committed yourself to following its basic principles. One of these principles is, of course, the Rede. If you are promising to abide by the precepts of “And It Harm None..”, have you worked out what you would do if someone attacked you? Attacked your child? Does “harm none” mean you should become a vegetarian? Do you think that it is even possible to “harm none?” Well, that is what you are promising to do, isn’t it?

Traditional Witchcraft may not have a “Rede” of its own, but Witches were known as the “Wise Ones” for a good reason. They were respected. They were fair. They were healers. They helped the community. They changed things. They made good decisions. They didn’t promise what they could not deliver and they delivered what they promised. It is still the same today.

Too often folks make a promise in haste and then spend countless hours justifying why they had to break that promise “just this once” because of “conditions beyond their control.” They have their reasons-lots and lots of reasons. Truth is, they just didn’t give enough thought to their commitment BEFORE they made it. If you haven’t given serious thought and reflection to both the results and obligations contained within a promise, do not make one! And most certainly not to the Gods…

“If someone turned your body over to just any person who happened to meet you, you would be angry. But are you not ashamed that you turn over your own FACULTY OF JUDGMENT to whoever happens along…’-Epictetus

INTEGRITY REQUIRES THREE THINGS:

1. The ability to discern what is right and what is wrong.

This requires reflection, time and effort. It is a difficult process but one which cannot be avoided by anyone who truly wants to be a spiritual person. How much easier it is to find someone else to tell us what to do, what to read, what to think and how to act! But then, who would actually be living your life? Who would be in control? Who is pulling the strings? If you don’t think that you would enjoy being a puppet, then you simply must find out where your limits are, what you believe to be correct behavior and what you yourself are willing-and unwilling- to do.

Whether there is an “absolute” right or wrong is something that theologians and philosophers have been wrangling with for centuries. In fact the very thought that they could be wrong keeps many people from being willing to take a stand on anything at all!

The possibility that you may be wrong is lessened by careful study, investigation and thought. Of course, you may be honest about a belief. Later you may find out that you were honestly wrong! However, approaching each subject with an open mind; examining all the possibilities, answering all the ‘what ifs” will help you sort this out. Make no mistake about it, this is the most difficult process that you will ever undertake.

Most people and societies do agree that some things are just “more” right than others. (See “Teachers and Magickal Ethics” You need to find out the measure of your own “rightness quotient”. You need to do the work of creating your personal code of behavior and ethics. Then you can hold that as a standard for decisions on what religion, what group or what Path is correct for you. And you thought that just finding a coven was hard! Finding the right coven, the right place, the right religion can change your life for the better. The wrong choice can be devastating.

If you have not done this work, then you are basically leaving yourself open to follow anything or anyone -and to do anything that they tell you. Witchcraft and Wicca are religions of personal power and responsibility. If you are not willing to do the work of discernment and introspection-to formulate a set of integrated values for yourself-then Witchcraft and Wicca are probably not for you.

INTEGRITY MEANS DOING THE RIGHT THING:

2. Acting on what you have discerned even at personal cost.

Suppose the teacher that you have been studying with begins to introduce issues or behaviors that you just don’t feel are “right’. Suppose that you now find that having sexual relations are a part of this group’s workings? What if suddenly this loving coven wants you to do a death spell against someone who has given another covenmate a hard time? What about that “harm none’ thing? What if you do not want to participate in this activity? But what if, by refusing to participate, you can no longer be part of this group? What will you do?

You may have put a lot of time and effort into a group. You may have even been initiated or attained a degree. These people are your friends-maybe you even think of them as your ‘family.” Now you face losing all this and starting over. The group may say bad things about you if you leave. You may lose your friends and their support. You have to decide- do you stay and compromise your own code of right and wrong? Do you leave? Where is your soundness, your faculty of judgment, your integrity now?

The truth is that most of us cannot say whether we really possess integrity until we are tested on it. Doing what we believe to be right-determined by the hard work of reflective discernment-even when it becomes personally painful tells us if we indeed have it or not. Didn’t I tell you that there is ALWAYS a test? This is one. There will be others. Get used to it. Witchcraft and Wicca are religions that require that we as Witches and Wiccans are equal to the challenges that life brings our way. If you can easily compromise your ethical principles or can turn your back to what you know to be right action, then Witchcraft and Wicca are not for you.

INTEGRITY MEANS KEEPING YOUR COMMITMENTS:

3. You openly declare where you stand.

Now we finally get to the Gods and the Goddesses! Do you still think that you are prepared to stand before Them and pledge your life, your heart and your hands to Their service? For that is what the religion of Witchcraft and Wicca are all about-SERVICE.

  • It is not about gaining power-although that will certainly be a part of your magickal life! It is about enabling others to learn ways to empower themselves.
  • It is not about “getting more” for you-although you will benefit in untold ways. It is about “giving more” to others in Their Name.
  • It is not about changing others to suit or cater to you-although others will find you nice to be around! It is about changing yourself, so that you are better equipped to do the work of the Old Ones on this Earth.
  • It is not about fame-although others will seek you out. It is about being available to help those in need.
  • It is not about pulling others down-although what is not working will fall before you. It is about building others up and creating new and healthy systems.
  • It is not about financial wealth-although you will always feel “rich!” It is about sharing what you have with the rest of the community.
  • It is about keeping promises, going the extra mile, doing what is correct and for the good of all. It is about uprightness, honor, truth, healing, giving and service.

    It is above all holding high the Names of the Old Ones, keeping to their Ways, honoring all Their children, caring for the Earth and being committed to carrying out whatever tasks that They have set upon you to do. It is about Integrity-Theirs, yours, ours.

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Living Your Religion Every Day

Living Your Religion Every Day

Author:   James Bulls 

This story is neither about high ceremony nor exotic sorcery; it is not about the alchemical secret to eternal life but the simple secret to everyday life. To preface this simple secret, consider the words of Johann von Goethe who said, “Out of moderation a pure happiness springs.” There are some who would disagree with that statement, but consider its merits on a day-to-day basis. For contrast, consider James Dean’s statement, “Dream as if you’ll live forever; live as if you’ll die today.” You may certainly choose to live each day under the dictates of extremity, but such a lifestyle relies on black-and-white dichotomies quite incompatible with a harmonious lifestyle and a society that requires those members who wish to live successfully the ability to distinguish subtleties, nuance, and shades of grey.

To return to Goethe’s statement that moderation brings happiness, one must look at each day not as a singular opportunity to figuratively explode like James Dean but to burn a low, steady flame. Extremists who make dramatic resolutions toward religious expression attract much attention, but after the noise is finished what remains is a spiritual model incompatible with modern life. As it concerns living your religion everyday, the loud dramatists advocate set rules and habits for life: meditate for an hour every day; read cards every day; exercise every day; never eat this; never drink that; always perform the quarter, cross-quarter, full-Moon, and dark-Moon rituals; and so on. And so the misguided accept one absolute after another into their spiritual devotions until all their time and energy is devoted to planning for the next event.

The trouble with living your religion in terms of absolutes is that each of us is fallible and will fail to satisfy an artificial schedule and arbitrary definition of “spiritual perfection.” Absolutes invite failure, failure invites discouragement, discouragement invites dissatisfaction, and dissatisfaction invites mediocrity. This “mediocrity” of which I speak is the ball-and-chain, which prohibits daily expression of one’s religion – it is the intangible obstacle that stands between the spiritually dead and the sublime angels!

Living moderately provides room for failure and permits one to find as much satisfaction in the loving preparation of afternoon tea as another might find in an elaborate Spring Equinox celebration. Moderation permits one to say “I forgive myself for my weaknesses, ” and “This is enough for today.” Living your religion on a daily basis is determined in neither quantity nor quality, but in the process and your ability to find satisfaction in it.

Much of the spiritual insight commonly taught in the New Thought, New Age, Wiccan, and Occult communities is imported from the East, but there is much of value in the West that gets overlooked. With respect to living one’s religion every day and the importance of moderation I set out at the beginning, consider the Religious Society of Friends, also called the Quakers. The Friends believe in moderation, modesty, and (not unlike the Zen Buddhists) a direct experience of God outside of material limitations. The Friends live their faith every day not necessarily through dictated prayer times and worship services, but through quiet appreciation for the Divine and making common-sense choices to live modestly which not only prevent egoic obstacles to spiritual growth but also provide more time for to focus on their friends and family members, community, and simple acts of devotion.

Living moderately (and dare I say modestly) is not a sexy adventure for bold heroes but the source of pure happiness. Living one’s religion every day isn’t a matter of selecting specific rituals, adopting absolute views in the name of simplicity, or making loud declarations for the sake of consistency – it is in fact a broad, consistent expression of your core values. For example, consider Pantheism, a path whose travellers see the very world in which they live as the body of the Divine and who value the environment, wildlife, and the needs of their kin and neighbours. Pantheists may have specific rituals they practice for spiritual edification such as cartomancy, theurgy, and folk medicine (Qi gong, Reiki, etc.) , but it is putting the carriage before the horse to say that the rituals are the religion – a religion is the sum of the core values and ultimate goals!

To live their religion every day, Pantheists may choose activities or make simple changes which support their beliefs such as: turning off a light when they leave the room; taking the time and effort to recycle paper, glass, and plastic; collect litter in their neighbourhood or at the local park; volunteer once or twice a month at the animal shelter; donate their time to Habitat for Humanity; making a meal for a friend or inviting a friend to a meal; walking or riding a bike when a vehicle isn’t needed; using cloth shopping bags; turning off the TV or computer to spend more time with your spouse and children; or even just smiling and saying hello to strangers on the street. None of these actions are as sexy and exciting as high ceremony or deep meditation, but they are all easily adopted into one’s everyday life and each of them supports the religious expression of the Pantheist.

Moderation is the simple secret to daily expression of one’s religion; you will not find happiness in strict adherence to daily religious ritual but in the small, simple activities and choices, which are the mundane foundation of your religious philosophy. If you worship the Earth, make choices, which protect the environment. If you revere the sacred feminine, make choices that would lead others to respect femininity. If you believe that your spiritual purpose is to serve your fellows, be friendly and willing to help. But if you want to live your religion every day, don’t obligate yourself to an arbitrary schedule of worship or you’ll only become a slave to your faith. Remember you values and you’ll immediately change from an event-based religion to a day-to-day expression of faith.

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A Little Secret That Only Witches Can Know About. Can I Trust You?

Every secret organization or religion has a secret or two. Of course, you won’t never hear about them because they are secrets. Makes senses. Most of these organizations and religions have secrets to keep the public out and in the dark, to exclude them. On the other hand, our religion is not like that we have had to keep it secret just to keep it alive. If it was for our ancestors keeping our entire religion secret, we wouldn’t have a religion.

The secret I am getting ready to share with you is not that big of deal. It was used in the Burning Times to determine if the person you were meeting was a witch. You can see during this period of time why it was very important to know who you were meeting.

Here is the ritual. Enjoy!

This is a magic witches hand shake spell. This spell is cast to find out if someone you know may or may not be a witch. After casting this magic spell, you will then shake the hand of the person you are inquiring about, and your answer will be revealed in the handshake. It can also be used to slightly put a thought or idea inside the mind of a person without coming right out and suggesting it. We offer many more free magic spells here for you to use and to try.

Extend your right index finger and lightly touch the wrist of the person exactly where the pulse is felt. By touching the pulse it throws the acquaintance completely off his balance for just an instant , but in that instant plant an initial
thought, ( example : I am the one you want for the job) this
really works and is cool, try it.

*You can also determine if the other person is a witch by the way they grasp your hand. If their right index finger is extended and touching your pulse area, more than likely they are a with.*

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Let’s Talk Witch – Karmic Consequences

Witchy Cat Graphics & Comments
Let’s Talk Witch – Karmic Consequences

Karma is a Hindu concept that has been adopted by many Westerners, especially those in the New Age and Pagan communities. While many people talk about karma, not everyone fully understands it. Its effects over several lifetimes are also often misunderstood.

What Is Karma?

Karma is the Hindu law of cause and effect. For every action you take, there is a reaction, although it’s not equal and opposite. When you take beneficial action, you receive a beneficial effect. When you take baneful action, that will come back to you, too.

Your karma is a part of your soul, and it determines, in part, how your life will play out. If you live a just life, you will receive more just benefits. If something negative befalls you, look to your history and see what might have caused it.

Leftover Karma from Past Lives

The karmic backlash or reward for your actions is not always immediate. Sometimes it takes years to feel the full karmic effects of any action. The span of time between an action and its karmic effect can actually stretch over more than one lifetime. The actions you took in your past lives affect your current life to some degree. They might decide your role in this life, or how your life is lived. You can rest assured that really evil people will receive appropriate punishments in their future lives. Hopefully, you weren’t a terrible person in your past life, but if you can’t see any reason why so many things in your life seem to be going wrong, you might be dealing with retribution for mistakes you made in a previous life.

The Hindu concept of time is not strictly linear, so there can also be a karmic influence for an action you’ve not yet taken. Living the best life you can in order to balance out the negative weight on your karma is the best solution for dealing with karmic effects you had no role in creating in this life. A Hindu’s goal in life is to carry out his dharma (duty). If you attempt to serve your life purpose, it will benefit your karma and counterbalance the mistakes of the past or future

Source:
Author: Selene Silverwind
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Let’s Talk Witch – How to Explain Your Beliefs

Let’s Talk Witch - How to Explain Your Beliefs

When describing your beliefs to someone, it’s not always necessary to explain everything. It’s best to start with your personal beliefs, and then to segue into a longer explanation. It also helps to make connections between Neo-Pagan practices and the practices of other religions. Finally, you should be prepared to allay fears people have about magic and those wild Pagan orgies.

Share the Basics

When first explaining your beliefs, stick to a skeleton of your basic belief system. For a coworker, it’s enough to say something like, “I follow a nature religion.” You can answer further questions if you want to, but try to steer clear of talk about working skyclad. With friends, you can explain your beliefs a little more deeply. It’s okay to mention the deities you follow, your holiday celebrations, or anything else that seems appropriate. Your friend may or may not ask questions. If she does, then explain further. For example, if you’re asked if you believe in God, you can answer that you believe in a god and goddess. If you are asked if you worship Satan, you can explain that Satan is a Christian construct and that you don’t worship anything that could be construed as evil.

Answer the Questions

Family members and people you have a romantic connection to will ask the most questions. Work slowly, starting from the basics. Allow the person time to digest your answers and then think of new questions. You might want to invite them to attend a ritual with you, or send them a copy of a ritual so they can see what it’s like.

You will most likely be asked if you still celebrate the holidays of your original faith. Many Pagans choose to celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday and share the day with family and friends, just as they did before, but without the trip to church. Most Jewish Pagans find that their traditions work very well with Neo-Paganism and are able to honor both the Jewish and Pagan holidays. You can also explain that you honor the cycles of the sun and earth, or adhere to a holiday calendar that predates Christianity. You can point out that many of these celebrations continue in the regions where they originated.

Some Christians don’t know that Christ’s actual birth date is unknown. Christmas was first moved to December 25 in the fourth century, and was later set by Pope Gregory. The new date coincided with Pagan celebrations of Saturnalia, the winter solstice, and the birth of the sun god Mithras.

If you are asked specifically what you do, then give a very basic rundown of an average ritual. You will most likely be asked if you use magic. If you do use magic, you can explain that you don’t practice black magic or sacrifice animals during your rituals (unless you’re Santerían). Magic can be likened to prayer because both are tools for asking the gods for help.

The tools, especially ritual knives, usually arouse the most curiosity. Explain as much of it as you feel comfortable with. For example, you could explain that your athame is a symbol of the element of fire because steel is forged from fire. You don’t need to get into its relation to male energy and the symbolic Great Rite unless you already explained Beltane.

Make Connections Between Religions

When explaining your faith, it also helps to make connections to more familiar religions and holidays. For example, you can liken the goddess to Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, whom many Pagans honor as a goddess. When asked about Yule, explain that you celebrate the return of the light in the form of the sun god, spelled Sun. You can point out that the Christmas tree, holiday wreaths, and decorations are all pre-Christian practices.

If you use other practices, such as shamanic journeying or meditation, compare your practices to those of Native Americans or Buddhists. Other practices, like wearing a Celtic Cross pendant or hanging a Witch Ball in your window for protection, can be related to the folk traditions of Europe and the British Isles.

Allay Fears

When people hear the words heathen, Pagan, and Witch, all sorts of scary images are conjured up. Your family members may worry that you’ve joined a cult or gone off the deep end. You should clarify that you are not a sorcerer or the Wicked Witch of the West. You should explain that Pagans have no single leader, you’re not required to give all your money to anyone, and there is no strict dogma, so it would be difficult for you to be a member of a Pagan cult.

 

If a friend or family member insists on trying to “save” you, gently but firmly explain that you believe differently, but you appreciate the concern. You might want to give him a copy of a beginner’s book on your chosen path or direct him to an explanatory Web site.

Once you’ve explained your personal beliefs, your friends and family members may be less worried but might still have a few concerns. You may be asked if you have orgies in the forest. Even if you do, that might not be the right thing to tell your mom. You might be asked if you hex people. Again answer with a simple “no,” unless you want to get into a long conversation about magical ethics.

The most common fear is that you’ll become a different person. Reassure them that you are the same person you always were, and you just have a different religion. Chances are you had Pagan leanings before you made the conversion, and once they recognize that, they will be better able to accept your religious choices.

 

Source:

“The Everything Paganism Book
How to Explain Your Beliefs
by Selene Silverwind
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Thank The Goddess It Is Thursday, Terrific, Fabulous Thursday!


Good Morning my dear brothers & sisters of The Craft! How is each and everyone of you doing? I hope super. Since I am getting an early start today, I have two things I want to discuss with you. One is happy and the other pisses me to the bone.

First the happy one, I got the poll results about wanting a raffle for a shopping spree in the store. Guess What? It was a yes. You want a chance at a $50.00 shopping spree in our little store, fabulous. I will make up the golden ticket tonight and tomorrow the raffle will start. The golden ticket is symbolic that you won. Don’t worry if you lose it, we will have your name and keep up with the amount you have left to spend. I should add there will be no tax added to this $50.00 so it all goes toward merchandise. All there is left to say is “Good Luck!”

Now for the thing that pisses me to the bottom…….If you will remember yesterday, the Deity of the Day was Ishtar. Her description was exactly this:

Deity of the Day – Ishtar

Ishtar

Dual-aspected Assyro-Babylonian Goddess. She is a warrior Goddess but also the Goddess of Love. She is the patroness and protector of prostitutes (sacred prostitution formed part of her worship) and when she descended to the earthly plane, she was almost always in the company of “courtesans, harlots and strumpets”. If a working girl or exotic dancer is in trouble, she can call on Ishtar for protection and Ishtar will provide it in her warrior Goddess form. As Goddess of Love and voluptuousness, Ishtar can help you if you wish to attract a lover or increase your sexual attractiveness. Beware though, she does have an irritable, violently passionate side to Her Nature.

This was reblogged on another site with this comment made about this Deity….

“Sounds like a Goddess that could REALLY benefit a “Seductress” Eh?  HA!  Geesh”

I guess this clown thought it was funny but I don’t. All of our Goddesses, Gods, and Deities are very sacred to us. To make fun or even a slight remark like this is blasphemy as far as I am concerned. There is one thing I can say about our Gods, Goddesses and Deities, they overlook no one. Whether you are a common prostitute or a drug dealer, they see your potential for good. And they are there to pull you out of your slump and give you new hope and guidance for a better life.

I know my Goddesses, Gods and Deities are real. I feel them constantly, they are everywhere. I have a very high respect and regards for them. I would never, ever say anything even in jest against them. And I pity the person that would. It only shows their ignorance and the lack of respect for other religions.

I have never bashed another Religion on this site and I never will. I keep hoping for a better day when we can all respect each other, their lifestyles and their Religions. But it seems that day is still a long way off.

I know it is only one Deity so why make a big deal about it. Simple, it starts with one then leads to two, then three and so on. After a while it is our entire Religion, do you want that? I know I don’t. We have worked to hard to allow this to happen. Whether it is one Deity or our entire Religion in question, we must stand up against those who are so ignorant as to make fun or ridicule us in anyway.

We must always stand up for ourselves and our Religion, if we don’t no one will. Remember that. Remember how far we have came and remember we will let no one put us down again, EVER!

*As far as this site goes that made the remark about Ishtar, I will be contacting WordPress today in regards to Religious Bashing. All of the sites that have been accused of religious bashing has been closed down and no longer exist on WordPress.*

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Religious Tolerance in Wicca

Religious Tolerance in Wicca

Author:   Aphrodisios   

For the most part and in my experience, Wiccans seem to be religiously tolerant. Wicca is one of those things that will call to you if it is your path. I have been to open circles though and after the ritual, one often will hear one or two witches ‘Christian bashing’. In some ways, I can understand the sentiment because there are fanatics of other religions who likewise judge us. On the other hand, this only causes more intolerance and misunderstanding of our religion.

If we want to be recognized as a positive religion, I believe we must show what Wicca is about through our actions and words.* Not something I normally throw out there but, as an example, I know a doctor who is a Christian clergyman. By being respectful, and over time explaining our belief, he thinks it is positive for some people. When we disrespect other religions, it only makes others frown upon our beliefs.

There are so many things you can do to show the positive sides of Wicca. Do something for the community or to help others…something as simple as sending a happy holiday card around times the times we have holidays. Basic positive actions and friendliness can go a long way, even helping people via some simple magicks if you know they won’t be offended. I have programmed appropriate gemstones before to help people I know who are afraid of witchcraft and after respectfully explaining their history and meaning, the people were in fact happy to receive those gifts.

If someone becomes open to it and understands, then invite him/her to observe a ritual, solitary or not. They don’t need to be in the circle but if they have an understanding, curiosity, and respect, there should be no concerns about letting people see what Wicca is about. I do not think in any way we should push our religion, but if we want others to be more accepting, we should explain and show them what we are about.

Once I went to an eclectic open training circle; I noticed that when the ‘religion bashing’ started the high priestess got quiet and then simply walked away. I don’t think most people noticed it, but in my opinion, she took the higher road, so to speak.

Many Abrahamic religions associate Wicca with evil and dark magicks because they do not understand us. If they were to see us out in nature casting our circles, calling upon the elements and Gods or Goddesses it would scare them. Many people fear what they do not understand. This goes both ways, because I’m sure many Wiccans have encountered Christians they do not understand.

I know many that say they just blow off or ignore the people that come to their door to talk religion. Whenever a Mormon, Christian, etc. has come to my door, I invite them in and am polite. They tell me about what their religion has done for them and tell me about their beliefs. I always explain I follow a pagan path and talk shortly about religion with them. I imagine in some cases you may find a fanatic, but being respectful I have not once been insulted by a person I invited into my home to talk about his/her religion.

There are so many misunderstandings and symbols that scare people and I think we need to be aware of that. Someone who has not been exposed to Wicca and notices a pentagram on you may think you’re worshipping Satan. This can be somewhat blamed on movies and that is how it is introduced to most people in today’s society… as an evil symbol. Most people don’t know the inverted pentagram was adopted as satanic symbol. Now, I may be wrong but if I remember correctly, I believe the inverted pentagram is sometimes used in Wicca as well depending on tradition or coven at a certain degree, the reason being for the individual to understand and accept the darker aspect of self but not let it take control. That may even cause more confusion for someone only vaguely familiar with Wicca. (Please feel free correct me if I’m wrong about why the inverted pentagram is sometimes used, as I’m not well educated on when or how it is used in Wicca) .

Disrespect will get us nowhere, when someone says, “God bless you”, “you will be in my prayers” or maybe even offers you a paper to attend their church, there is no reason to be rude. Also, tactfulness is something I believe we should always keep in mind as witches or pagans. When dealing with people who don’t understand us and want to tell us about their religion, we should think of a way to politely tell them that we are not interested.

You will run into your religious nuts but just keep a low tone and be a better person. Making off color comments or insulting them only makes their negative attitude towards other religions stronger. For that matter, when it comes to the fanatics, I sometimes find it useful to use their own book against them (politely, of course!) One of my favorite quotes, if being judged is: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”. (Matthew 7:2; New International Version 1984, ©1984)

I know some Wiccans or pagans say they never touched a Bible, but sometimes reminding a person of his/her own religious text can be your best weapon. Using that as tool, tactfully, can put them at a loss for words.

Respect is earned, and if we want to receive it we must do so through positive actions. While I do think many of us try to respect other religions, we need to keep in mind religious tolerance means respecting all religions.

Namaste,
Aphrodisios

___________________________________

Footnotes:
* I would like to say I did start this as a topic on another site just a few moments ago but it was ¼ the length of this article. I wanted to expand on it though but just felt it appropriate to say this was partially posted elsewhere. For reference I posted the short version on
http://online.fireflyacademy.org/

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The State of Paganism: A Perspective From an Old Witch

The State of Paganism: A Perspective From an Old Witch

Author:   Crick  

As Paganism slowly but surely emerges out of the grip of suppression brought on by what is now commonly referred to as organized religions. We may want to be aware of several pitfalls and realities as we once again step into the light of day.

First of all, the top three organized religions are themselves fairly new in the grand scheme of history. Prior to their appearance on the world stage, basically everyone in the world followed some type of pagan belief, which was for the most part an individual spiritual belief and not an organized religion per se. Such beliefs were influenced by ones personal environment and the immediate world around them. There was an interpersonal awareness that helped to shape one’s values and thus their corresponding beliefs. In today’s artificial world we no longer have such a mainstay or influence to guide us.

The current “accepted” beliefs being touted by the main three organized religions and the suppression of former popular beliefs did not occur as a natural effect of events in human history.

It was and continues to be a planned and concerted action, which began in one instance with the advent of the apologists and has continued on through the ages by acts of repression, fear and some very clever propaganda. These deliberate actions have been supplemented by the tactics of politicians who are overtly biased in favor of the institutions of organized religion.

After all, power begets power.

As such we should be aware that the basic tenet of these man made religious organizations is to hold onto such power at all costs. We as a community would like to think that we are accepting of all religious beliefs and spiritual paths, as we should be.

But we should not be so naïve as to think that just because we are so accepting that organized religions will welcome us back with open arms from the isolation of an exile that they themselves imposed upon those of pagan beliefs.

In all reality they (organized religions) would very much like to see paganism fade away as just another passing fad. An example of this is the gathering in Rome in the summer of 2007 of the Roman Catholic Church of which the primary topic was “how to draw folks away from Devil worship (allegedly paganism) and back into the grasp of the one true church”.

Granted there are some individuals within organized religion who are realistic and enlightened enough to accept the fact that not everyone is going to believe as they do. And thus are willing to work with members of alternate beliefs such as paganism.

However the harsh reality is that these folks generally belong to one of the very aggressive religious organizations whose leaders do not endorse such openness. And as such we are being accepted only in isolated situations and only at the very grass roots of these religious institutions.

Acceptance of the fact that the oldest religious/spiritual beliefs in the world were not obliterated and are making a re-emergence is going to take some considerable time, effort and patience.

We will re-emerge into the light of day one enlightened heart and soul at a time. To believe otherwise is in my personal opinion, both foolish and self-defeating.

Another pitfall we should be wary of is manipulation by the organized religions. They have by virtue of their position in the world today, proven to be very adept at such tactics.

And quite obviously (to some of us anyway) they are employing these tried and proven techniques to the very community that they would like to once again vanquish back into the throes of exile.

What is this manipulation you may ask?

Over the recent years, a crumb will fall off of the table of organized religion and a pagan will be ‘allowed” to sit at the same table as these folks. Each time it has been a Wiccan who is chosen to take such a seat and in each case the chosen Wiccan will proclaim themselves as representative of the whole pagan community. And then folks in the pagan community will swoon like young schoolgirls and say, “oh what a great thing this is for the community”.

In my personal opinion, such proclamations fall right into the hands of those of the organized religions who are sponsoring such meetings.

I have serious reservations about such an approach and reaction for several down to earth reasons.

First of all, realistically we as a community are dealing with folks who are well schooled in such manipulation. It is quite apparent that if you can’t outright obliterate what you object to then you find a way to control it.

For example Brighid the Goddess did not become a Christian saint by happenstance. It was an act of sage manipulation by an organized religion. Hence we have the old adage of, “keeping your friends close but your enemies even closer”.

And so with all due respect to those of the Wicca, I personally have to wonder why organized religion seems to only choose members of Wicca, which is by all accounts barely a generation old and thus but a babe in the world of paganism as the ones who are proffered a seat with these folks.

Please don’t misinterpret what I am saying here, I think that it is great that a pagan of any path gets the crumb that is offered, to a certain extent.

But then this brings me to my next concern.

One of the primary tenets of paganism is diversity. And if we are to avoid the pitfalls of hypocrisy then perhaps those Wicca who are chosen to be seated with organized religions should state responsibly, that in fact they represent but a small portion of the pagan community.

Again, with all due respect to those of the path of Wicca, not only would this be a realistic statement but it would also leave the door open to those of other pagan beliefs. And as such would be a confirmation of the pagan community’s stated belief in the tenet of diversity.

Paganism is after all an acronym or umbrella for many “diverse” beliefs. And no one path can honestly state that they alone represent the many different beliefs that align themselves under the banner of paganism.

In all reality, and yet once again with all due respect, as an Irish witch who also engages the path of shamanism, Wicca does not remotely represent my personal path. Nor does it accurately reflect the beliefs of those who are Asatru, Voudon, Santerian, Odinist, Yoruba, Shamanic, witch and so forth.

If we as a community are going to endorse diversity as one of our founding tenets then we need to surpass the temptations of ego and thus avoid the snare that is being put into place by those religious organizations that have shown such skill in manipulation.

Those who are tapped should show some responsibility and use their opportunities to ensure that organized religion is aware that we are in fact a diverse community and do not fit into one spiritual/religious shoe fits all.

By the same token, we as a community need to overcome our petty ego driven differences and be willing to proffer folks from various pagan beliefs as representatives of our community. Granted this will take a measure of maturity that has for the most part been lacking in our community.

But I personally believe that if we are true to ourselves and our community that we can indeed find the inner strength to exhibit such maturity as a community to express ourselves in such a manner.

The final concern that I would like to express in this treatise is this.
Why do we buy into the perception that organized religion has of us?

Realistically, it is “their” perception and should not be the view that we as pagans hold of ourselves.

Why do we as a community get all flustered and swoon whenever organized religion allows us a seat?

They are in all reality the newcomers to the world stage of religious/spiritual beliefs.

Paganism is in fact the oldest such beliefs in existence, period!
When one of us is invited to their table it should be with the approach that they (organized religions) should be honored to have a member of such an ancient belief seated at their table.

We need to stop playing into their blatant manipulation and express ourselves with aplomb and dignity and not as eager children grateful for a brief moment of attention.

I personally believe that this is why they (organized religions) only invite the Wicca (who are the babes of pagan society) into their midst. In this manner they can point and say “but they have only been around since 1952” and so the manipulation continues and unadulterated attempts at control continues.

In closing I would like to make it clear that I am not casting about disparaging thoughts against those of the Wicca or any other members of organized religions and/or other pagan paths.

My words are simply a reflection of the realities that we as pagans did not create but which we have to live with. How cognizant we are and how we approach such issues as a community in regards to organized religions will determine whether we remain in the daylight or whether we once again resume our existence in the darkness of religious/spiritual exile.

If you don’t want to think of these issues in regards to yourself then maybe you should consider the religious/spiritual freedoms (true freedoms) of your children and your children’s children.

For in all reality, such manipulation and control did not occur over one generation nor is it likely to ebb within just one generation. Freedom of religious/spiritual beliefs is an ongoing struggle against those who would have it otherwise.

I think the last 2000 years or so has made that quite clear…

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