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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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| 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.
| 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
| 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 |
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.
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.
| The Oddest Misconception I Continuously Get (even More Than The Fear In... ||Sep 29th. at 12:51:03 am EDT|
|Fishgoat (Winnipeg, Manitoba CA) ||Age: 36 - Email |
The oddest misconception I continuously get (even more than the fear in the eyes and plastic smile thing) is when people see my pentacle they ask me, "Are you Jewish?"
I don't get it. Can't people count to six anymore????? *sigh*
Eduaction is the only way to go. And live your life so well that when the accusations are lobbed at you, no one will believe it.
No one said this was an easy path to walk.
| Let's See... (the Following Are Statements That I Have Heard Expressed) Pagans... ||Sep 29th. at 11:11:57 am EDT|
|Sophandros (Irving, Texas US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
Let's see... (the following are statements that I have heard expressed)
Pagans have no morals and are hedonists.
Pagans chose their path in order to rebel.
Pagans hate Jesus and Christianity.
All Witches are radical feminists, lesbians, or "loose women." A male isn't a witch , he's a "warlock", right?
Magick comes from the Devil.
Pagans are all hippies or freaks.
Paganism is a "make it up as you go along" religion.
Paganism and Atheism are the same.
The Dictionary has a definition for you, so that's what you are.
The Bible has a definition for you, so that's what you are.
I'm sure that we've heard all of these and more, and have our own ways to rebut tthem. I think that we can all agree that education and civility is the best route. I also think that we have all experienced situations where it is difficult to be civil with those who have no respect or tolerance for us. I've been told by some people that religious tolerance will never happen. Of course it won't as long as others violate one of their commandments and continue to bear false witness against their neighbours. While it's important for us to fight the misinformation out there, it is more important that our Christian friends who know that what is being diseminated is incorrect stand up and remind their brethren that their behaviour is not to be accepted. An example of this happened during Labor Day. We need more help from the tolerant Christians--the Christ-like Christians--in our struggle against the Paulians.
Of course, this is only my opinion, and I could be wrong.
| I Think That The Public View Of Witches Has Changed Over The... ||Sep 29th. at 12:28:03 pm EDT|
|Kaicielia BlueDragon (Madison, Wisconsin US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
I think that the public view of witches has changed over the years. Thank the Gods it has gotten better, in some ways at least. Me and a friend once rented an old documentary film, that was labeled as something that had been lost for years and recently recovered. It was about witches and what was supposedly true about them. Of course, there were a bunch of old, dirty hags hiding in someone's basement, doing gross and immoral stuff. It was really quite disturbing, I'm glad my children didn't watch it. At the end there was some "expert" saying that, in truth, these people were all crazy, and needed to be put into an assylum instead of persecuted as they were.
At least now, with paganism being more out in the open and people fighting for what we believe, we have something to fight with. The only new negative thing I have seen is the arguement that, since we are so open now, we are out to get people. Trying to turn children to our side, doing whatever we can to make ourselves stronger. "They are everywhere, and cannot be trusted." Many of the old views are still around, but this new one has turned up recently.
| Story Without An Opinion -- Maybe.) Update I Was Told This Morning By... ||Sep 29th. at 1:55:43 pm EDT|
|LittleWolf (Springfield, Missouri US) ||Age: 13 - Email |
(Story without an opinion -- maybe.) UPDATE
I was told this morning by my principal and home room teacher that "George" has been suspended from school for the next four weeks for "intimidating another student, (two weeks;) defamation of another student's religion, (one week) and intollerent actions tword another student." (One week - all consecutively)
These actions are their own comment. I thank my school administration for their quick action about this, and
| I Believe There Has Been Some Positive Change Mabee Not As Quick... ||Sep 29th. at 11:07:44 pm EDT|
|David Crocker (Dawsonville, Georgia US) ||Age: 42 - Email |
I believe there has been some positive change mabee not as quick as we might like , but at least it`s moving in the right direction there is still a large number of folks that don`t even know of our existence that witches are all make believe but this too is changing as our numbers grow and we connect with each other and learn how to (dare I say it)organise ourselves and to work together as a team we accomplish more I believe we need to get more in the public eye there are some fantanstic web casted shows and programs out there , we need to have more on regular broadcast media as well, As for the liars I have found calm logical quizzing them on their information quite useful , the old saying of "give`em enough rope and the`ll hang themselves with it " comes to mind but if they are of the , Don`t bother confusing me with the facts , my minds made up , mindset I just don`t bother, or I sometimes Thank them and say the more I hear you talk the more I convinced to be pagan, this usally takes the wind out of them for awhile at least. well moving right along...OOh another idea I had for helping the get the message accross about who we are and what we are about is by yusing the field of aport mabee have a pagan softball, soccer(pick a sport) league/team this could be a great avenue to do some good PR work well that`s my thoughts ...well some of them at least Bright Blessings to all
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