I’m in a weird rut right now. I haven’t had any contact with the high priestess I was working with for several months now…it’s a long story, involving graduate school and I don’t know what else. My studies with CTOD have come to a halt, mostly because I can’t seem to get any response out of anyone there when I send email. I’m still following the study program, but I’m pretty much on my own. My email list has really taken off and has been a source of a lot of growth, but the main problem I’m having right now is that I just don’t have time to do it justice. What’s strange is that despite the lack of the structured learning I was thriving on earlier, I’ve been doing a lot of growing anyway. I’ve had lots of time to simply contemplate lately and have learned a lot about myself and my philosophy. I’m basically getting to the point where I’m just starting to realize how much I don’t know and how much still lies ahead.
At any rate, things are in a state of flux. We’re moving to a new place somewhere else in the Valley but are hoping to leave the area in the next year or so. We’re looking at Northern California for several reasons, one of which is that the pagan community, indeed the community in general, is more suited to me and my philosophies.
I’ve recently had an interesting interaction with a Christian who came across my site…one that sort of kicked me in the butt and got me back on track. Excerpts of the conversation follow:
Curious Christian: I saw on your web page about how you became a “witch” and your progression of thinking on it over the past couple years. I am curious about how Wicca answered questions for you that Christianity couldn’t. Can you tell me some of those questions? I am a Christian, and I must admit I’ve never viewed Wicca very … very positively. I’ve seen too many videos on Satanism for that. You say there’s a difference, and you’re probably right. What is it? I’ve always associated “Occult” with “worship of Satan” directly, while you seem to be more in the “worship nature/Nature” category. Am I right, or am I being stereotypical? … Like I said, I’m just curious, especially about the Christianity vs. Wicca issue.
My Response: First of all, thanks for being open-minded enough to ask these questions instead of assuming. It’s nice to know people like you are out there.
You asked how Wicca answered questions that Christianity couldn’t…and I thought maybe I might not have made myself clear on my site. It’s not so much that Christianity didn’t have answers as it is that the answers don’t work for me. I don’t agree with many things in the Bible (while reserving the right to say that I also agree with many things there), I don’t agree with the “One True Way” philosophy (I think there are many paths to Divinity), I don’t agree with the Christian view on nature (humans rule over all, everything is here to serve humans and that we should multiply ourselves into extinction, hoping for divine intervention when our population exceeds resource capacity), I don’t agree with the way women are treated in many denominations, I don’t agree that I need a middle man (a cleric) to help me connect with the Divine, I don’t agree that I shouldn’t trust my inner sense of right and wrong (as opposed to something from the Bible or what a clergy member says)…I could go on. There are things I agree with too, I think Christ’s ideas are worthy of implementation into any lifestyle (love and acceptance) …but for the most part the answers I wanted weren’t there.
I’m sorry to hear you’ve never viewed Wicca positively. I think by and large that’s a function of media sensationalism and an unfortunate Christian tendency to link most things that are not Christian with Satanism. Personally, I feel Satanism is too tied in to Christianity for my comfort. Most of the things Satanists are perceived as doing (and I’m no expert since I’m not a Satanist and don’t really know any) are in reaction to Christianity. I try not to operate that way. My path co-exists with many, including Christianity. In my view, there are many paths (religions) that lead to the same summit (Divinity). You ask what separates my path from Satanism. I can answer that question only based on assumptions about Satanism, since as I mentioned before, I’m not real up on my Satanic studies. The main difference, as I see it, is that Satanism is totally self-involved. It’s all about looking out for number one…self-gratification, hedonism and so on, without much thought or care for the consequences. Most Wiccans believe that there is a consequence for every action and that you will have to deal with that in the here and now. If you send out negative energy, you get it back, usually amplified, and the same is true of positive energy. Naturally, being ruled by this tenant (which is not unlike “Do unto others as you would have done to you”), it only makes sense to minimize as much as possible any negative energy you might be putting out (by being inconsiderate, selfish or whatever) so as to minimize the return. Wicca tends to view the environment as Divine,
which is *not* to say we worship trees. It’s more that we worship the Divine spark contained within those trees…the spark of creation. We embody our Divinity with male and female forms, a Goddess and a God and then further divide it into different deities and pantheons. To the best of my knowledge, Satanism is a monotheistic religion. Ours is not. I could go on forever, but have I answered your question about the difference between the two? If not, please ask more questions.
Occult, by the way, simply means “hidden” or “esoteric”. It doesn’t mean “evil”, “bad” or “Satanic” (and I’m not sure I even think that Satanism is evil or bad, simply because I don’t know enough about it to make a judgment). Occult sciences, then, are those that are the hidden traditions. Generally, this is referring to anything that falls out of the realm of the mainstream religious experience, but it can also include the mystic traditions within accepted religions, such as the relationship between the Kabballah and Judaism.
So…I haven’t heard back from him again, but I hope I do. And to any Christians out there who might be reading this, please consider this: I seek not to “convert” you (or anyone) but to educate so as to prevent ignorance and discrimination. My path is not for everyone, and I don’t think any one path is. All I ask is that my right to my beliefs is respected. I sincerely hope you write me and that we can have a dialog, pagan to Christian, because I find it stimulating to be challenged to articulate my beliefs (and hope you do as well). On the other hand, please don’t seek to change my mind…a debate or discussion is more than welcomed, but a sermon is not…and I’m not saying that you would do that, it’s just a friendly warning I include to any Christian who emails me with questions because unfortunately, some start out seeming reasonable and quickly switch to preaching hellfire and brimstone. I can’t tolerate intolerance. =) And lest you think I might not “practice what I preach,” consider this email I wrote to my discussion group recently:
I think that it’s dangerous to make any mass assumptions about Christians. Yes, we’ve all heard the “witnessing” and proselytizing, and yes, we’ve all (or most of us) had bad experiences with Christianity in general. It didn’t meet our needs. And yes, some Christians substitute religion for some other crutch in their lives…Jesus becomes their drug. On the other hand, I know people, have friends even, who are what I call true Christians…they really do try to practice Christ’s teachings. They don’t feel the need to tell me all about how I’m going to Hell if I don’t think like they do…they don’t feel the need to convert me. These are the people who are generally knowledgeable about all the Christianity has done…and they’re not proud of all of it. They acknowledge the atrocities, apologize for them to the extent that they can, and then look to the heart of what Christianity is supposed to be about…love and acceptance. I’d like to think that at least half of those folks out there who take the title of Christian on at least know a little of what they’re claiming. Unfortunately, the other half are vocally obnoxious…the media likes to exploit their zealotry and…the squeaky wheel gets the grease, as my Grandmother is fond of saying. These folks are, for the most part, ignorant and not just ignorant of other religions, but ignorant of their own. And here’s the really blasphemous thing…we pagans have people like this in our community as well…so my point? There are blind followers in every crowd — ours included. And just as we can think that some members of the Church are evil and controlling, others can see some of our leaders, our clergy, as being the same.
You know, I never thought I’d be defending Christianity…and there are many things about it I don’t like…the list is too long and space too short. I can’t, however, see the wisdom in condemning them across the board. Just as we are people so are they…and as living beings they are worthy of our respect for their lives and their choices, so long as they aren’t causing bodily harm. And aside from that, I think it’s a bad idea to lump anyone together based on one aspect of their existence…it leads to stereotyping…and oppression and hatred, none of which are healthy things. I don’t find any comfort in a society led only by pagans where Christians are ostracized and burned at the stake. Revenge is not the issue…hatred is not the issue…equality and respect are….respect not just for each other but for life in all its forms. We can see that there are some faults in their beliefs…or we think we can. Anyway, we are not without faults of our own…and let she who is cast the first stone…to coin a phase.
This post was well-received for the most part, but then I have a list of select members. =) I can’t condemn an entire group for the actions of a few…and I’ve had bad Christian experiences and bad men/sexual experiences. If we seek respect, acceptance and tolerance from a group we have to demonstrate it first, despite the challenge of that group’s ignorance.