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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 20,025,112  

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Question of the Week: 8 - 9/25/2000

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. Reverse Sort 

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.

I Have Been An Initiated And Practicing Gardnerian For Over 15 Years... Sep 26th. at 10:48:11 pm EDT

Sine (western New York State, New York US) Age: 44 - Email

I have been an initiated and practicing Gardnerian for over 15 years, and I was a seeking pagan before that. I have never been a Christian, or followed any other religion. When I was first initiated, I did not feel comfortable announcing this to my family, since my grandparents were still alive and would have been horrified. They were all members of different sects of Christianity, and didn't much like each other, either, but I was NOT getting into that with them! So I tried to come up with a way to "testify" for Wicca and paganism without "outing" myself. The answer was to be an example. Be a good person; follow your own path's ethical structure: I'm Wiccan, so I follow the Rede and the Law of Return.

If someone asks me what the pendant is, I tell them it's a pentacle. If they keep asking, they get more details. If someone asks me if I'm a witch, I say yes. If they keep asking, I keep answering. The rest of the time I live by the Rede. When everyone in the office wanted me to cast a spell to get rid of one co-worker who was making us all miserable, I did: I worked to get him a better job, in a different department, where he would find more friendships, the hours would be better, and he would make more money. It worked, and I didn't risk thwarting the Law of Returns.

Now all the kinfolks who would have been hurt are gone to Summerland , so I can be more open about it. I am internal consultant on minority religions to our local county dept of social services and am also available to our local police. I am an elder in my coven, and, I hope, something of an example of how to be a Wiccan in the US. Never lose your temper; never attribute to malice what can be easily explained by ignorance. We are all priestesses or priests of the Old Ones; we must all be teachers, as well. Be patient...neither Rome nor Newgrange was built in a day!

The Common Misconceptions That I See Are That We Are Satanic, Fly... Sep 27th. at 12:37:13 am EDT

Sevens (Norfolk, Virginia US) Age: 23 - Email

The common misconceptions that I see are that we are Satanic, fly on brooms, are just completely bad people, that we are totally flaky, that we are in a cult. I also can't stand how we have been depicted in movies and t.v., because that just lends itself to more people thinking we can do things like move objects with our minds or turn people into animals or inanimate objects or something. Whenever I encounter this kind of thing, I make it clear to people who are in the situation with me (watching the movie or the t.v., or asking me about my pentacle, which I wear openly)what Wicca really is and isn't and in most cases, if they don't listen, I will leave the room if they don't change the channel or pop the movie out of the VCR or stop making really stupid comments about Wicca. Which gets kind of annoying, because my best friend loves to watch movies like The Craft (the Crap!) or Charming or Sabrina the Teen Witch or something. Which is funny, because she completely accepts me and my religion, but still loves to watch this junk. But, there is no changing people. I know she doesn't do it specifically to annoy me.

No, these misconceptions have not changed over the years. I can quote a specific situation that happened recently. I was working with this wonderful Wiccan, smart, funny, a good friend, and good at her job. Her and I were the only pagans we knew of in a company of 1000+. We worked in the same department. When she had a yearly evaluation in March with her supervisor, he proceeded to tell her that she was in a cult, that I was in a cult (mind you, this person is not my supervisor)that I was the leader of this cult, made comments about her clothes (which were entirely appropriate for a business setting) and my clothes (yes, yes, I admit to wearing black alot, but that is entirely due to the fact that I am not a morning person and when you are in a groggy state in the morning, black matches with everything). Then after this diatribe, he asked her what her religion was. Now as we all know, THIS IS COMPLETELY ILLEGAL, due to employment laws of not discriminating on a person's race, sex, RELIGION, disability status, etc., hence, they are not allowed to ask. She finally told me 3 weeks after the situation, and when I asked why it took her so long to tell me, she said she knew I would upset about the situation and would probably say something about it. In her words, she said she knew that her supervisor would never voice this stuff to me because I have been there longer than him, I do have a bit of power in my position at work (where the heck would they be if I quit because of him?), and I am known to make a great stink to people if something really pisses me off. Anyhow, to make a long story short, ever since he did that, in my opinion, he was trying to get her out the door before she could alert Human Resources and get him in the proper trouble that he or anybody else deserves for making illegal comments like that. He enforced things with her that he would not enforce on the rest of his staff and especially his favorites, the young, sexy Christians. Anything he did was all a cover to get her out of there, because he thought she was Satanic or something and because he fears what he does not understand. She no longer works with us, which makes my heart sad, because now I feel like I am, no, strike that, I know I am the only Witch in this company. But, she did end up telling Human Resources about him. And she seems happier now than she has been in a long time, having opportunities and doing things that make her happy. I can't really say anything at work, simply because anything I heard from her is technically hearsay and he hasn't had the balls to come to me with this sort of crap (besides my supervisor would protect me and have his head on a stick, in a human resources sort of sense). I can only hope that the Law of Three will work on him and all his negative energy will come back to him, as it should. I can't help talking about this, because it really irritated me. She is a wonderful person who never deserved any of this.

So all in all, I say, no matter if you talk yourself blue in the face, there is just no changing some people. But we still should concentrate on education and someday soon, our time will come when we will no longer have to put with this junk that people spew about us and discriminating against us. Thanks for listening.

Story Offered Without Opinion -- Maybe.) At My School I Have Been "out... Sep 27th. at 12:58:45 pm EDT

LittleWolf (springfield,, Missouri US) Age: 13 - Email

(Story offered without opinion -- maybe.)

At my school I have been "out" for a year, and I often get asked by teachers to talk to classes about Wicca and Witchcraft, like how real Witches are unlike the Witches in Harry Potter and other like books, how mathmatics is part of Numerology and Astrology, how astrology and astronomy are related and like that.

When George, a guy who is a high member of one of our six religion study clubs at school asked me to give them a talk about Holloween I thought this would be a good opportunity to open some minds. (It takes six to start a club, there are only two WIccans that are out and three that are in the broom closet, so we have no Wicca Studies club.) I really wasn't prepared, this was on Thursday and I was supposed to give my talk after school Monday, but with the help of some of the guys at my covensted, I put togather a nice half hour about how many of the current Holloween traditions spring from Pagan rites and customs.

What I was prepared for was not what happened. I was introduced and when I got up to speek the guy that invited me suddenly shouted, "Why do you witches eat babies!?" I tried to answer that we Wiccans didn't do things like that. then he shouted things about animal sacrifices and other bovine manure like that.

After taking that for too long I finally shouted: "Would you like me to demonstrate the powers of witchcraft by turning George into a toad?" That quited George and everyone else in the room, then I said, "Don't worry George, I charge good money for personal improvements; besides I can't turn anyone into a toad and no witch I know has that power." Now that I had everyone's attention I explaned how George had misrepresented himself and that I was willing to give a talk on Holloween and Samhaim if they liked, and if not I would leave.

For the next at least couple of hours, the janitor kicked us out for staying too long, I talked about the Holloween stuff I planned to talk about, answered questions about Wicca in general and talked about the Wiccan Rede, the rule of three, and the Charge Of The Goddess and other witchie things. All this time George sat in the corner looking at me like I killed him, ground him into hamburger and sold him to McDonalds.

End of story, no comment.

Blessed be,

Misconceptions About Witches.....hmmm... It Seems To Me Nearly Every "minority Group... Sep 27th. at 3:39:12 pm EDT

Anna (Charles Town, West Virginia US) Age: 31 - Email

Misconceptions about Witches.....hmmm...
It seems to me nearly every "minority group" has to fight stereotyping, discrimination and ignorance. (African Americans, Asians, Gays & Lesbians, Jews, Muslims, etc.). Ignorance is our worst enemy, regardless of our affiliation (race, sex, religion or orientation).

This century has seen the most change - technologically, socially, economically - we are changing everything. Even countries' names seem to change, almost monthly!

With change comes uncertainty and some are frightened by this. We are not facing anything that the Christian's didn't when their religion was new and Rome decided better to feed them to the lions than let their society be "ruined" by their influence.

Our world is shrinking and it's not so easy to pretend the world is made of people just like you. Your grocer has a dancing elephant in the back store room, your librarian wears a pentacle, your systems admin wears a funny little hat and your human resources manager has a "same sex partner" named Denis he brings to the company picnic.

I think we (as Americans) are some of the most intolerant, xenophobic and inhibited people on this planet. I also think the few voices still crying "baby eaters" are losing credibility - fast.

I say continue with education, try, if you can to be more open and remember to lead by example. If you are a decent human being, people will accept you - and then when it comes up that you are pagan, they'll have your character to consider. It's hard to think of the lady who makes cookies for everyone at Yule as an evil person.

The funniest thing I hear is people assume I am "such a good christian person" My mother assumed her neighbors were good christian people (though they light bonfires every month in the yard).

We'll beat the misconceptions by education and that seems to work best one on one. Those whose minds are open will understand, those who can't, well.... just don't give them any matches. LOL

My rambling...

Merry Meet, I Have Been A Wiccan For Just Over Two Years... Sep 28th. at 1:57:57 pm EDT

GaiasForestChild (Ivybridge, England UK) Age: 16 - Email

Merry Meet,
I have been a wiccan for just over two years now and am 'out of the broom closet' to everybody except my Grandparents because I honestly think the disappointment would be too much for them too handle (especially since my mother i.e. their daughter died '97...).
The best way to battle misconceptions is education, besides, what other methods do we have open to us?
I have given a few talks about wicca and paganism at my school and, if nothing else, that has changed a few TEACHERS' minds! Mind you, I get my fair share of odd looks from the kids lol.

My experience is that people don't discriminate against you because they actually believe the misconceptions, but because ignorance is bliss and discriminating against others is more fun. I've tried many things to deal with these people but the only thing that works is forget it and go back when they've grown up (like in 50 years or so).
I have a pentacle on my bag and sometimes kids who are walking behind me kindly point out (er thats one way of putting it...) that I am wearing the sign of the devil and that I therefore must be a satanist or words to that effect. Whenever that happens, after a few minutes of an impromptu lecture, you will find a bunch of wide-eyed kids standing in the corridor; an expression of wonder and disbelief on their faces. They never bother me again : )
Oh my Goddess, there are so many misconceptions about Paganism and Wicca. The one that I most commonly encounter is 'Do you have a broomstick and can you fly with it'. Sad, but true.

So I start explaining how Wicca is a nature religion so it wouldn't make sense to break the laws of nature etc. and 8 out of 10 will ask 'But do you fly?'

Some people are really hopeless. But the good side is, that two people have understood that I don't fly, that I am not evil, that I don't do blood sacrficies, and that I am not so different from them.

Those two people make all my efforts worthwhile and I will always continue to educate people about what Wicca REALLY is.

*Other fun questions*
- do you have a black cat?
- could you please change my eye colour for me (you see, I'm going on a date with this really cute guy...)?
- if you're a witch, then how come you aren't wearing black?
- oh wow, you're a witch, tell me will this guy go out with me next friday?
- can I have a love spell?
- I'm not really a witch but I've seen 'The Craft' and I've done some spells for example my eyes used to be blue but I made them turn brown, honest! What would be the best way to get blood from the person I am doing this love spell on?
- don't you think it's unfair to use magick to get good grades (note: *Never have, never will* but I happen to be a straight A student)
- but if you're a witch, then why do you wear the sign of the devil (that question usually comes AFTER I've been explaining about the pentagram)
- why do you do blood sacrifice?
- want to have sex with me? I mean, you being a witch and all, that's what they do isn't it? I'll even pretend to be Satan if you like!
- is it like umm witches' law that you have to be naked when there's a full moon?
- aren't all witches goths?
- I saw you walking past my house yesterday and now my dog is ill, why did you do that to me, what have I ever done to you?
- in reincarnation right, doesn't it like hurt the soul that's already in the body when the new soul tries to get in, and is that like a posession?
- (this is my fav but it only makes sense when written) Can you really exercise Satin? Answer: Er well, I didn't really know satin had to be fit, but boy, my cotton is sure looking fat!

This Viewpoint Is From Someone That Was "brough Out Of The Closet... Sep 28th. at 3:12:57 pm EDT

Justin Travis (SirTravers) (Munford, Tennessee US) Age: 27 - Email

This viewpoint is from someone that was "brough out of the closet" before he was ready. I'm a father of two kids with one on the way. I've always known that I was different from the rest of the family, but only realized I was pagan within the last two years. I'd been visiting a pagan chat room for a while when I found out that one of my younger cousins was also there. Well she was 16 at the time and couldn't restrain the urge to let the whole family know that she wasn't the only pagan in the family. Consequently the last four months of my life have been filled with dirty looks, emails, letters, and cold shoulders by my so called "loving, christian family"

Suddenly 27 years of appearing normal, nice, and a good father are out the window. They all think that because I'm a pagan that I'm evil, out to get their kids, and living in a fantasy world. I guess that educating your family wouldn't be so hard if you were ready for it, but getting caught off guard has been tough. It doesn't help that any resources I point out get ignored either.

I just want to thanks everyone here at the VOX and the kind folks at Summerland Grove in Memphis for being so supportive.

Thanks again,
from Deep in the bible belt

What I've Found Is That Many People Who Have The Misconceptions Still... Sep 28th. at 7:49:33 pm EDT

Roy Brooks (Bath, North Carolina US) Age: 24 - Email

What i've found is that many people who have the misconceptions still see witches as worshiping a devil :( despite the many times in which i have told them that we don't even acknowledge such a being. That plus many see witches as evil simply because we are witches. but fortunalty a good number of my friends no longer think that because i've spoken to them about who i am as a witch and at least they have accepted me.

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