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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Misconceptions About Witches, Wiccans and Pagans
The Misconceptions About Witches, Wiccans and Pagans still exist despite decades of educational and outreach work. What are the common misconceptions that you still encounter in books, on the net or in the media about Witches, Wiccans and Pagans? Have they changed over the years? What can we do about those religious zealots who out-and-out lie about our practices and beliefs? How do YOU respond to some of the ridiculous 'myths' that you might see or hear about modern Witchcraft and/or Pagan beliefs?
| Reponses: There are 63 responses posted to this question.
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| Holy Cow... Reading All These Responses Has Made Me Realize How Lucky... ||Sep 26th. at 12:05:33 am EDT|
|Amanda (Providence, Rhode Island US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
Reading all these responses has made me realize how lucky I am. Since I am a fairly open witch, I thought that when I became a Resident Assistant (RA) at my college I'd have the intolerance heaped on me by at least the parents, maybe the students. Well I've had this job for three years and the most popular response to my pentacle has been "Are you Jewish?" I sometimes get questions about my beliefs, which I answer openly and honestly as best I can. On big family days like opening and closing of the building, I've never had a parent even *comment* on my necklace. Maybe they didn't know what it was. Maybe they did... My friend Ira down the hall is a "son of a preacher man" ::smiles:: Both he and his father are the nicest people you'll ever meet, very comfortable in thier own faiths, and very accepting of others.
I think my residents spend more time worrying about Amanda the RA than Amanda the witch. RA Amanda has the power of "write up", something Amanda the witch can't match. I don't make a big deal of my religon, and I don't flaunt it in anyone's faces. People here know me, and they know I'm a witch, and that's ok. Either way, I'm not looking foward to the day that I do experience trouble. I'm not optimistic enough to think it will never come, but I hope I'm prepared when it does and can deal with it appropriatly.
| I Think In Some Places There Is More Curiousity. But Still The... ||Sep 26th. at 12:29:21 am EDT|
|Rainy (Hubbard, Ohio US) ||Age: 38 - Email |
I think in some places there is more curiousity. But still the old satan link continues. I run into alot of questions like well then why aren't you rich, can you turn my boyfriend into a frog, tell me what my room looks like (on line) and many too silly to list.
When I lived in Ashtabula I took on the local ministers in press about their mishandling of who and what we are. I always try to stay calm and fight stupidity with knowledge. But it gets really tiresome. Year 2000 and people still believe that we are the bad guys sometimes and do some outrageous stuff over feeling threatened by our being.
I fully realize you cannot alway change minds...but a little more tolerance would be nice. Has anyone else noticed christianity and various organized religions becoming like the AT&T guy trying to get you to change your long distance carriers.
It is kind of weird. I canno decide which is more irritating...the telemarketers for at&t or god's telemarketers.
| I Suppose That The Most Common Misconception I Hear Is That Pagan... ||Sep 26th. at 1:23:52 am EDT|
|Sylver Hawke (Worcester, New York US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I suppose that the most common misconception I hear is that Pagan/Wiccan equals Satanist. I encounter that a lot. If you are a Pagan, you are a heathen and a Satanist. I have even heard that we are pure evil (lower than most people I suppose). I think a lot of people are better informed now than there were 10, 15, 20 years ago. Yet, there are still those "religious zealots" who's minds will never be changed. Regardless of how much you try to explain, their ideas are set in stone. I just try to ignore people like that. I realized about a year ago, there is NO changing their minds. I was wasting my time, energy, and breath trying to explain to people who keep their minds closed. I will try to correct misconceptions, but I don't go much further than that anymore. I try to remember that they have just as much right to think I am evil as I have to practice what they deem so.
| It's Pretty Well Obvious, Isn't It? The Most Common Misconception Which We... ||Sep 26th. at 3:15:47 am EDT|
|Gwydion Canu Bleidd (Memphis, Tennessee US) ||Age: 32 - Email |
It's pretty well obvious, isn't it? The most common misconception which we, as Pagans, Wiccans, and the like have to deal with is that we are evil/Satanic/possessed by demons. (Take your pick, they're all up for grabs one way or t'other.) Shortly after I became a seeker on this path, declaring myself Pagan though not really having any affiliation at that point to any specific belief or group, I found myself having to explain to my parents that I was not practicing Satanism or devil-worship in any way, shape or form. I've had people I thought were friends and/or reasonably open-minded either become befuddled by my declaration of my beliefs, or be outright hostile. (Needless to say, I've learned in rather short order whom I could trust, and whom I could count as true friends, and I'm here to tell you, sports fans, it ain't a whole lot of people!)
It doesn't help, of course, that I live in Memphis, TN, the very Buckle of the Bible Belt--there are, after all, well over 1000 churches in this city alone, gospel music is one of the four types of American music that can claim the Bluff City as their birthplace, and it's the cradle of the Church of God in Christ, and they hold their annual conventions here every November (not coincidentally, I believe, a week or so after Samhain). Also, we are across the river from where the infamous murders took place in 1993, the ones for which Damien Echols, Jesse Miskelley and Jason Baldwin are now spending the rest of their lives in the Arkansas State Pen, with Echols on death row. Not long after I arrived here six years ago, I was informed of this by my mother, who advised me not to make an issue of being a Pagan because of this terrible and tragic incident. I find it impossible to remain closeted, and so I wear my T-shirts and my pentacles openly, quietly daring anyone to say anything. I have Pagan bumper stickers on my car, too, and I sometimes wonder if I will find my car vandalized because of this. To date, it has not happened; perhaps the Goddess looks after her bolder (and more foolish?) followers.
I have also been accused of changing my religious beliefs to suit my moods "this week", and I'm happy to say that's not a bit true. I have stuck to this path for 10 years, folks, and I'm not looking back. I don't eat babies, I don't sacrifice cats (and how can they say such a stupid thing about us, when you see how many Pagans and Wiccans have cats as family members? Get real, people), and I like to think I'm a perfectly sane and well-adjusted individual. And I don't do love spells or money spells, nor would I advise anyone else to do them. And I'm a real being of flesh and blood. (I've been told that "witches aren't real"--if that's the case, then how do you explain us?) Oh, it's truly amazing what some will believe...
| I Would Say Stick To Healing And Truth, Along With Following The... ||Sep 26th. at 5:46:11 am EDT|
|Laurie Crooker (Addison, New York US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
I would say stick to healing and truth, along with following the idea of do no harm to others, animals, and our planet. Eventually a new consciousness will continue to evolve. Laurie Crooker
| I Know It Is Not Peaceful Folks Like You Who Abuse Animals... ||Sep 26th. at 8:29:34 am EDT|
|Patricia (Asheville, North Carolina US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
I know it is not peaceful folks like you who abuse animals, but I worry about my beloved cats on Halloween- they are our fur-children. If you have any suggestions on protecting them, please respond. For years I have heard of evil people who do this cruelty to defenseless loving creatures, and have lost two black cats years ago in Florida around Halloween-never to be seen again. We have 2 blackies, 2 sylvesters and one "white tiger, " all darlings(usually!)
| I've Been A Witch For Eight Years And Have Seen And Been... ||Sep 26th. at 10:39:13 am EDT|
|Michele (randomfactor) (this space intentionally left blank) (fnord) (memphis, Tennessee US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
I've been a Witch for eight years and have seen and been through a lot of misconceptions. I've been more or less disassociated from a good part of my family because of my boldness with who and what I am. Now, in Memphis, TN, where I live, I find myself being bold enough to wear the pentacle out, and reply quietly and thoughtfully when asked on it. This I do for myself, however, and nobody else. Minds are not going to change overnight. Some die-hard believer isn't just going to throw up his hands and say, "Oh! Witches must be good because Michele says so!" Words don't change minds - actions do.
No. That's why I am a firm believer in Teddy Roosevelt's "Walking softly and carrying a big stick." Rather, I'd say, "walk softly and carry a big heart." The vast majority of the time, the light others see you in will be tinted by your behaviour, not your preaching. If you flaunt your "witchiness" and have no morality, intelligence, or common sense to back it up, you'll be viewed as a flake at best... at worst... well.. I'm certain the Malleus Maleficarum does still have significance.
The best way to dispel the myths? Present yourself as the reflection of God/Goddess that you are, walk with pride and humility, speak softly and listen loudly. Command and entreat respect. Then, if someone notices that pentacle, they'll be much more willing to respect your path..
| Well, Since I Go To A Public School Nobody Really Cares What... ||Sep 26th. at 11:14:28 am EDT|
|Artemis Moonshadow (Kfar Saba - Israel, Israel) ||Age: 15 - Email |
Well, since I go to a public school nobody really cares what religion you are, a few people have asked me if I was part of a cult becasue of my pentacle, I just raised my eye brows at them until they got uncomfortable.
But I've had one girl in my class come up to me, I'm pretty much an outed Witch even though I've hardly practiced but I'm an outed Pagan. Any way this girl came up to me and asked me to do a cseance with her.
I was a bit surprised to be asked this, she wants to contact the ghost of her dead father, I'm trying to figure out a way to turn her down.
I have practically no experience in spell casting, so I don't want to do anything.
Where I live, only the extremly world knowing, know what Witchcraft really is, the others generaly think it's something that dies in the 17th century
| Hi I Am Having Trouble Understanding Whats What. I Know Some People... ||Sep 26th. at 12:57:25 pm EDT|
|Sandra Kirkland (Cumming, Georgia US) ||Age: 38 - Email |
I am having trouble understanding whats what. I know some people who claim to be witches. I've known them for twenty years. When I first met them , they told me that I was the fourth in their cicle. I was only 18yrs old then. I got caught up in it, and I believed. Now I am having second thoughts. They are talking about curses and spells, and I just don't feel comfortable with this. I have never tried to enhance my gifts, they just seem to mature with me. I feel ok with myself , but I don't feel right with what they are exspecting of me .Do you have any advice you can give me ? I'm not into the evil side , I am a very good person. Sometimes I see things that really scare me.
| I Recently Went To See The Movie "bless The Child". In It... ||Sep 26th. at 2:32:16 pm EDT|
|Lizzy (Springfield, Virginia US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
I recently went to see the movie "Bless the Child". In it, the detective trying to solve the murder of several young children had occult "reference" books on his desk. One of the books was "The Witches Bible" by Stuart and Janet Farrar. The camera closed in on the phrase "do what you will" and tied that in directly with the title of the book written by the murderer in the story. I seethed with frustration that the rede was taken so completely out of context. I actually spent some time after the movie explaining to some of the other patrons what that phrase was from and what it really means.
I think the key is always patience and education. If we, as pagans, become just as discriminatory of other religions as they are of us, then we are no better. Most people I work with know I'm a witch, and they have no problem with it. I am lucky enough to be able to wear my pentacle openly at work with no discrimination. The nice thing about wearing it is that people who don't know what it means ask..and it gives me a great opportunity to educate them on the true meaning of the symbol, and what it means to me. They are almost always amazed at what I tell them...and they feel much better about paganism and witchcraft afterwards.
Just my 2 cents!
| I Think One Of The Most Encountered Misconceptions About Pagans And Wiccans... ||Sep 26th. at 7:06:49 pm EDT|
|Jessica (Denver, Colorado US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I think one of the most encountered misconceptions about Pagans and Wiccans is that we are a bunch of loonies. Belief in forces like faeries and magick are very strange to most people, who think of children's stories. Often our beliefs aren't taken seriously, even by people who try to be well informed.
| Interestingly Enough, This Just Came Up On A Forum I'm On. Several... ||Sep 26th. at 9:03:10 pm EDT|
|Shayla (Phoenix, Arizona US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
Interestingly enough, this just came up on a forum I'm on. Several of the people (mostly Christian) were discussing a heated religious debate on a different forum, and one jokingly said she wanted to post that she was a "baby-eating pagan-nazi who practiced witchcraft." Of course, she meant it as a joke to emphasize the absurdity of the debate, but I took the opportunity to enlighten her on a few things. (Came out of the broom closet, if you will.)
I gave the standard spiel--Pagans/Witches, etc., are not satan worshippers, the Rede, the rule of three, the philosophical similarities and differences between pagan and Christian religions.
I was pleased to find that, despite some misgivings, the people on the forum read my post and appreciated my candor. A lot of them said they had never met a pagan/witch before, and had no idea of what it meant to practice that faith. They thanked me for taking some of the mystery out of it, and giving them a greater understanding. Only one person was negative, but she emphasized that she was simply uncomfortable with the subject, not me personally.
What I normally try to do is educate people, and give them an understanding of the pagan way. I don't try to convert them, and I certainly don't try to put them on the defensive. I try very hard to point out our similarities, rather than our differences. I'm happy to say that I've usually had very good success with this approach.
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