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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: 9,822,423  

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Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 74

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Question of the Week: 11 - 10/16/2000

Hollywood Hype

Hollywood Hype through movies such as "The Craft" and now the "Blair Witch" movies, and television shows such as "Charmed", "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer". "Freakylinks" and "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch," have all contributed to the rise of public interest in the Pagan paths and especially Witchcraft. If someone came to YOU after seeing "The Craft", "Charmed" or "Blair Witch," etc., what do YOU want them to know about real Witchcraft and Paganism? What would YOU-or do YOU- tell these folks?

 Reponses:   There are 74 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 


Better Than It Being Hidden, As Far As I'm Concerned. Telling Them... Oct 19th. at 6:59:18 pm UTC

Andi (Fairfax, Virginia US) Age: 24


Better than it being hidden, as far as I'm concerned. Telling them nothing is more damaging than anything you could tell them, because then they think you're hiding something sinister and go off and tell their friends that Witches are evil. They've gotta be, after all. What else would they have to hide? The answer is that we don't have anything to hide. So don't shy from the question.

My one reservation with movies/TV of this type is that cinematics and the needs of a presentation often distort the reality of the situation. (Okay, so it just about always does.) I find that the really damaging shows are ones that claim to be "true stories" and then get mauled by those who wish to demean Pagans and Paganism in the name of whatever deity (be it God, Allah, money) they care to worship. The most important thing to remember is that a lot of what goes on IS cinematics.

There are two important points to make clear to an individual who asks this question:

1) While many of the things portrayed are certainly possible and in many case do even happen, this doesn't mean that they should think that's all we do or all we believe. I once had someone ask me on an IRC channel if I could make pencils fly. Someone else in the channel came up with a witty but pointed answer: "Sure, but then I'd have to get up and go get it." Yes, the human mind is capable of such things. This doesn't mean that all or even most Pagans do this sort of thing.

2) The other important thing to make people understand is that we are human beings just like everyone else. We come from all walks of life. We go to work every day. We cook dinner. We raise families. We trip on our own doorsteps. I simply happen to do it in harmony with the Great Wheel and the rise and fall of the seasons, and I pay homage to my gods and goddesses instead of a single God.

Once the collective understands that Witches are people just like anyone else (I hesitate to use the term normal), I think we will be well on our way to getting the message out and correctiong misinformation and stopping further misinformation and nonsense from spreading.


I Would Explain Generally About Everything And Leave It At That. If... Oct 19th. at 7:09:19 pm UTC

Nancy Spungen (Toronto, Ontario CA) Age: 18 - Email


I would explain generally about everything and leave it at that. If someone I know is really interested and is looking up stuff and researching then (depending on the person) I'd go into further detail...



Personally, I See B:tvs As Probably The Most Positive Portrayals Of... Oct 20th. at 1:45:13 am UTC

Lem (Delta, British Columbia CA) Age: 15 - Email


Personally, I see B:tVS as probably the most positive portrayals of wicca around today. Joss Whedon (the director of the show) and Alyson Hannigan (actress who plays Willow) both do a very good job at showing that wicca is a very positive thing and that witches are just ordinary people in tune with the magickal emanations of the universe. It's not perfect, but nothing's perfect.

Overall, if someone came to me asking about wicca after seeing one of the multitude of shows or movies portraying it (which is unlikely cause I'm only half-out of that dusty ol' broom-closet), I'd ask them if they were interested in wicca as a religion and not just as a fad or power trip. Then if they wanted to research it as a religion, I;d explain the basics, and if they're interested, I'd just lend em Cunningham's Guide for a Solitary Practitioner. Pretty simple.

But whatever... just bored outta my skull.... thought I'd write some stuff...


I Think The First Thing I Would Do Is Dash Everything I... Oct 20th. at 2:57:27 pm UTC

Ace Draevin (Beaver Dam, Wisconsin US) Age: 21 - Email


I think the first thing I would do is dash everything I know to be false to start them over on a clean slate. If they are still interested, I would begin to show them the truth about witchcraft, answering any questions they might have, and also pointing out as many sources of reference that I can think of.


Hollywood Is Making ÒwitchcraftÓ A Household Word. It Is Making The Unspeakable... Oct 20th. at 3:34:55 pm UTC

Ardriana Cahill (Las Vegas, Nevada US) Age: 50 - Email


Hollywood is making ÒwitchcraftÓ a household word. It is making the unspeakable, speakable. We abolish ignorance through understanding. Dialog works for racism, sexism, homophobia, and a hoard of other social ignorance. Why shouldnÕt Hollywood provoke it for us, even if it fails sometimes? When someone asks me if a witchcraft movie/TV program is true, the first thing I say is that Hollywood is a business. Our community includes are the most eclectic, diverse group of believers and practitioners on the planet. Hollywood getting it right? It that your ÒWiccan rightÓ or my ÒPagan rightÓ? When asked, I reinforce the movieÕs philosophical points that it mostly got right:

 Witches of Eastwich: Look what they can to, these are human beings.
 The Craft: Power is lost to the unethical. There is no white or black magick.
 Practical Magic: There is no devil in the Craft. One can not dabble.

My questioners come in two flavors: those who want to know about Òthe powerÓ of witchcraft and those who want to know Òthe beliefs.Ó To the first I say, those who seek power will never have it. To the second, I give a brief FAQ response. If they ask for more, I answer more.

With respect to all (myself included) who are sometimes offended at the disrespect Hollywood gives our religion (as one who has taken my share of prejudice for my beliefs), I quote my mother:

ÒItÕs still increasing awareness. The more we are asked to explain our beliefs, the more likely we will not have a cross burned on our front lawns.Ó circa 1962

She did in fact, have a cross burned on her front lawn when she was 9 years old because her mother was a witch.
I practice my family tradition and have studied comparative religions, philosophy and literature for over 36years. One of the things I have learned is that the call of the spirit comes from many directions. Some can still hear a clear quiet call through all the commercial and misleading Hollywood BS. Past the want of a love spell. Past the need to be a fantasy role player. Past witchcraft as the fad de jour. One may begin oneÕs path away from ignorance and fear of us with a small question about whether there is such a thing as a warlock.

Ours is a romantic religion. ItÕs seductive, joyous and intriguing on the surface. (Disciplined, ethical and a life long learning commitment at its depths.) If all one sees is the seductive and fear of it, if all one sees is the romantic and not the hard work, if all one seeks (or fears) is the heat without the light, they will get it wrong. WeÕve had 2, 000 years of bad press. By comparison, Hollywood could do much worse! And for those people who find their truths only in movie theaters, without witchcraft movies, they would probably find their ignorance somewhere else.


First Thing I Tell Them Is That If They Want Glamorous Special... Oct 20th. at 3:39:14 pm UTC

athenaprime (Cincinnati, Ohio US) Age: 27 - Email


First thing I tell them is that if they want glamorous special effects that the University Film School is ten miles down the road and easily findable once you reach campus! :) If they stick around after that, I tell them that real Witchcraft and Paganism are a lot quieter than Hollyweird makes them out to be, and that at the core they are mystery and experiential faiths of extensive individual self-examination. The path begins inside and isn't something you do at parties, to impress people, or to rebel against your parents.

I would tell them that Hollywood misses the mark by a wide stretch when it comes to the religious aspects of Witchcraft and Paganism, and that they must understand that being a Witch or Pagan is centered in and defined by their beliefs. I would send them off with a list of books and websites as long as their arm, and from areas as diverse as history and anthropology, to psychology and geology, along with the instructions to walk barefoot in dewy grass, stand outside on a freezing midnight to watch the full moon, smell the tinge of cold on an autumn afternoon, and listen to the crickets on a hot, humid summer night. Look for a smile in a strangers eyes. That's magick.


It Is A Blessing That More And More People Are Becoming Familiar... Oct 20th. at 11:29:03 pm UTC

starr (Anytown, New Jersey US) Age: 24 - Email


It is a blessing that more and more people are becoming familiar with the craft. Introduction is the first step, educating yourself is the next. Those with an open mind can see through the exaggeration of the media.
Emulating these shows, however, will not make you a witch.

The knowledge that can be acquired is limitless. Each day you will discover a new part of yourself, a new understanding of the world around you, like seeing for the first time. With this knowledge you will help others see that it is a sacred gift that will balance and heal.


Well As A Long Time Solitary Eclectic Pagan, I Find These Films... Oct 21st. at 4:48:32 am UTC

Thomas Jaskovich (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US) Age: 32 - Email


Well as a long time Solitary Eclectic Pagan, I find these films and tv-shows to be far more problematic then they are worth. Often new comers seek the "powers" they have seen on these media hyped shows. Especially the younger crowd which seems determined to find a quick success scheme in everything they do. So when I am approached by someone interested in Paganism based on a movie or tv-show, I ask if they have read any books on the subject. Usually they haven't so I refer them to a few good books, telling them once they have read one or more to contact me with any questions. But before letting them go on their way, I do my best to inform them that Paganism is not like it is portrayed by Hollywood. If they actually do any reading and contact me back, then to me it means they are truly interested, and so I try to teach or guide them. But very few seem to contact me back.


To Begin, I Would Try Not To Overwhelm Them With Information. An... Oct 21st. at 2:04:12 pm UTC

Kathy Brisley (Cobleskill, New York US) Age: 46 - Email


To begin, I would try not to overwhelm them with information. An important consideration is: how much does this person want to know? Start slowly, beginning with the point that movies are entertainment and in many movies, things happen that we realize don't *really* happen. Explain that Witches believe in a supreme deity, that we don't worship or believe in "Satan, " and ask if they have any specific questions. The last thing I want to do is come off like a televangelist!

To continue, I try very hard to live my life by the Rede: I don't meddle, I don't hurt the feelings of others, I don't consciously prejudge anyone. I don't have wild parties, or attend them. I am responsible in my home and work life. In short, I try to show by my actions that being a Witch is not a negative thing, but very positive; and try to stress that I have found a path that gives me the spiritual fulfillment I need.


The First Thiing I Would Tell A Person Like This Is-"you... Oct 21st. at 5:59:41 pm UTC

horse (Missoula, Montana US) Age: 26 - Email


The first thiing I would tell a person like this is-"you are to be comended for your courage" How many of us have lived in fear? Most American pagans did not spring from the womb robed and with athame in hand. Most of us heard of organized paganism through some other source than divine inspiration. Don't get me wrong- many of us felt compelled and drawn to nature religions our whole life. Does it matter where one heard of it in the first place? I don't think so. In fact, I say, the more people who are drawn to paganism, the better, no matter what their inspiration. In fact, I notice more and more veiled references in popular media. Whirlpool has commercials with what appear to be a veritable olympus of domestic goddesses. Car companies tell us "don't disappoint the road gods" (are they referring to my own special friend- the asphalt goddess?) I feel that the old ways are seeping back into our shiny new world, just with new and different masks. Good? Bad? Commercialized? Who knows-it simply Is.


First Of All, Let Me State That I Dissaprove Of "pagan... Inspired... Oct 21st. at 6:05:09 pm UTC

Isis Macnamara (Greenville, South Carolina US) Age: 22 - Email


First of all, let me state that I dissaprove of "Pagan...

inspired" shows and movies such as Charmed, Sabrina and what not. Charmed and The Craft use/d many of the right words, symbols and tools in the wrong contexts. This to me is even more dangerous than using outright falacies. Many people will now here these words in the right context and make the wrong mental associations due to what they "learned" from the tv show/movie. I have had many people (young people often, but not always) come up to me after having seen pagan oriented hype asking if I can do all sorts of ridiculous things or berating me when I tell them I can't change my hair color at will (what money I would save on hair dye!) or stop time or things like that. I generally just try to explain calmly and rationally that things don't work like that, that what I practice, to me, is first and formost a religion and that I in fact practice very little magick at all. I tend to direct the genuinely curious to Scott Cunningham's "The Truth About Witchcraft Today" ( a really excellent book for dispelling myths and hype)I like it because it is not precisly Wicca oriented and gives an idea of the wide range of practices and beliefs out there.
To end on, for all my dissaproval of these types of shows and movies, I have to make an exception for "Practical Magic" which I went to see expecting to hate and ended up won over by it to the point that I could forgive that little flying off the roof thing at the end. In other words, I was far more 'charmed' than I expected to be


My First Response Would Be "tell Me What You Think Witchcraft Is... Oct 21st. at 7:39:04 pm UTC

Eireannestar (Oil City, Pennsylvania US) Age: 28 - Email


My first response would be "tell me what you think witchcraft is, " which is taken from Silver Ravenwolf. You can't dispel a myth or fallacy if you don't know what it is. Our coven works every day to break down the basics and inform everyone we can. We work in a bookstore, so we see all the young (mostly) girls coming in for love spells, etc. We always impart the three fold law, and try to help them understand just what they are getting into.

I'm mixed on the Hollywood version of witchcraft. It's definately gotten better, no hags with warts and stringy hair. But at the same time I agree with a lot of the other responses that using the right words, phrases, tools, names, etc. in the wrong way is just a lack on the writer's part for not doing proper research, and does nothing for our concerns.

I truly did enjoy "Practical Magic" and was repelled by "The Craft". What is most important, and something to remember, is that at least Hollywood and others are starting to recognize the sheer immensity of the Pagan/Wiccan population now. We aren't a whisper on the wind anymore. We are a viable part of society, and to have anyone acknowledge that, to me, is a giant step in the right direction.

Maybe someone will decide that, "hey, what if I do a little research and actually make a movie, or a show that has some validity, some resemblance to the truth?" We can only hope that soon someone will be struck by the moon's rays and given a bright idea.

Blessed be,
Eireannestar


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