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Week of: April 7th. 2013 ...

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Wicca: Why All The Negativity?

Author: Victoria Gourlay
Posted: April 7th. 2013
Times Viewed: 3,670

My mother always told me, "Treat others how you would like to be treated". I have tried to abide by this philosophy to the best of my ability throughout my life (but no one is perfect!) My pet hate is when someone judges me, or listens to gossip. I try not to judge people and I try to make my own opinions of people. So, this leads to my question: when it comes down to a religion, why are the circumstances different?

As a 15-year-old Wicca, brought up in an atheist community in rural Wales, UK, finding my Wiccan footsteps was a challenge that I was ready to face. I had always been "in touch" with my spiritual side, and while other children would be playing on GameBoys and Nintendos, I would be nose deep in fairy drawings, or books about spirit worlds. This was one of my known attributes and my friends would never be surprised if I came into school with a book about mystical lands. I would blabber on and on and on about it.

So when I read an article on the Internet about paganism, I was instantly intrigued. It seems that all my beliefs blended into one religion! I had always loved crystals, and I always believed that they had some kind of mystical, mysterious power, and my connection to nature had always been prevalent ever since I was a little girl. I researched for days and days and it was all that was on my mind. My mind was made up. But being the binding force in a friendship group full of atheists, I knew this news wouldn't be taken lightly, no matter how open minded I thought my friends to be.

It was difficult to bring it into conversation, so I started talking about what I had read in this article on the Internet, and how it had really intrigued me. I told them that after a lot of thought, I had decided to start to study the religion of Wicca. Big mistake. An eruption of "So, they don't have a God, because they believe nature is God?" "Aren't pagans Satan worshippers?" followed my disclosure.

"Do you have to sacrifice people?" "Does that mean you have to join a cult?" These questions are ones that I think every Pagan must come across at least once in a lifetime, and I was prepared for questions about it, but this? I tried to think about how I would react if the tables were turned, and being brutally honest, I know that I wouldn't presume things and would probably go and research it myself. Trying to sum up the correct answers to the bewildering questions was difficult. I had only just decided to start studying it, so I didn't really know how to construct an answer that wouldn't sound idiotic, arrogant or naive.

After hearing various lectures from my friends, proclaiming that I was "too young to get involved with religion" and that "I didn't know what I was getting myself into", they finally started to accept it. After a few occasional flippant remarks regarding Halloween, and various mentions of Paganism in Shakespeare, my friends can now tell someone the definition of my religion, and they will firmly stand up for me if someone is patronizing or discriminating.

Before finding Wicca, I went through a very rough patch, and was diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) . It was a terrible time, and looking back, I think my friends were worried that Wicca was going to make me go back into that state of mind, and that I was going to start self-harming by body again. But, Wicca has given me the wings to reach higher self-esteem, and a higher self-concept. I understand now that if I don't want others to hurt me, that I cannot hurt myself, and that if I want to heal others, I must first heal myself. I have found my release in Wicca, and my parents have been moderately accepting of it. Everyone has seen such a huge change in me, and people are now interested in knowing what various celebrations are, and certain traditions and rituals. A few months ago, I performed a dedication ritual with my boyfriend, and I honestly have never felt happier.

So, if Wicca gives so many people strength, and relates to so many people who have been through a hard time in their life, why isn't it accepted? I know it's only baby-steps, but I hope that soon, these rumours about us being "Satan-worshippers" and "sacrificing children" will be renounced.

My advice for beginner Pagans would be to make sure you know the answers to everything. For example, if someone asks you if you worship the Devil, you simply reply that we do not recognise the existence of the Christian Satan, so it technically is impossible for us to worship it.

Another answer that is always useful to any derogatory questions about The Craft is recognising that there are bad people in every religion across the world. Religion should be a topic that brings people together, who share the same beliefs and who want to worship together in a safe and secure environment. There are bad people everywhere, and people who abuse the structure and laws of religion. But, these people are in the very extreme minority, and people must understand this. It is sad to think that opinions are formed based on the behaviors of a tiny percentage of people who abuse the Wiccan Rede, but these people are the ones who have created the stereotype that Wiccans now have to clear up.

I believe that the reason for people's fear is that people are scared of change. There are actually many people out there who share certain beliefs and don't even realise that they are Pagan beliefs! So, why all the negativity?

Copyright: Copyright to Victoria Gourlay 2013


Victoria Gourlay

Location: Swansea, Wales


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