Articles/Essays From Pagans
March 2nd. 2014 ...
Lessons of Ostara: Six Ways to Move Forward
The Wiccan Priest - The Misunderstood Role
Which is Which? Am I a Warlock or a Witch?
The Secret Teaching: Selected Aspects
February 23rd. 2014 ...
Wicca or Traditional Witchcraft: Some Differences
Everything is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless
The Wonders and Gifts of Paganism and Community
What Makes Us What We Are
February 16th. 2014 ...
Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing
The Stones of Fear: Anxiety Relief
Spiritual Traveler: Form To Essence
Alternative Medicine – What Is It?
February 9th. 2014 ...
Words of Power!
The Allure of Glamour in the Apocolypse
Lunar Insight Planetary Preponderances: Year of the Horse, Imbolc and Mercury Grazings
February 2nd. 2014 ...
The Magick of Jewelry and Metals
Building a Magick Mirror
The Golden Bough: a Study Guide (Part 2)
January 26th. 2014 ...
Love of Self: The Hardest Thing To Do
The Golden Bough as a Seminal Work in the Neo Pagan Movement (Part 1)
13 Keys: The Mercy of Chesed
Lightworking In The Screen Age: Staying Connected
January 19th. 2014 ...
Open Letter to the Goddess
A Southern Girl's Guide to Hospitality
Social Conventions and the Pagan World
January 12th. 2014 ...
Never Once Was There a An Athame Near My Chalice: My Very Sheltered Occultist Upbringing
One Wiccan's Journey Through Depression
January 5th. 2014 ...
Religion vs Practice: Defining Witchcraft in a Modern Age
Traditional Apprenticeships: Training in the Modern Pagan Abbey
2014's Magickal Magnificent Manifestations!
Lunar Insight Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances: Wise and Wild
December 29th. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 3)
13 Keys: The Might of Geburah
Beyond The Season of Greed
December 22nd. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 2)
December 15th. 2013 ...
The Hex Murder of 1928
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)
Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots
December 8th. 2013 ...
Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey
Using Your Wand in Reverse
Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward
The Cry of the Soul
December 1st. 2013 ...
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
The Celtic Tree Calendar
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Wiccans Seek Justice: AU Wins Lawsuit for Wiccans
Article ID: 11946
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,379
Times Read: 4,569
RSS Views: 39,746
Author: Aradia Beatnik Betty
Posted: September 2nd. 2007
Times Viewed: 4,569
Many people have found refuge from religious persecution within our nation's borders. History tells us of the many persecuted who fled from Europe to America where they were promised refuge, no matter what their religion. Religious freedom is a blessing, but many of the estimated 400, 000 Wiccans and Pagans who call this country home still fear being publicly recognized as such because of prejudices and misunderstandings. Even in recent years, government officials have made disparaging remarks about Wiccans and Pagans, including comments made by James Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, in November 2003 when he suggested that "fringe" religious groups such as Pagans won't get funding through the Bush administration's "faith-based" initiative.
Just a year earlier in December 2002, Cynthia Simpson was discriminated against by the Chesterfield County, Virginia Board of Supervisors when they refused to add her to the list of volunteer clergy to offer prayer invocations, and was told that because her beliefs are not consistent with Judeo-Christian traditions, she would not be added to the list of clergy.
The discrimination that exists toward Pagans is rooted in unfortunate ignorance and bias, and it is an issue that will continue to be addressed for the sake of religious liberty for all.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State's lawsuit against the VA for refusing to approve the Pentacle on the list of symbols for deceased soldiers responded to the bias which threatened the religious freedoms of Wiccan and Pagan soldiers.
The Pentacle, a five-pointed encircled star, is a sacred symbol to many Wiccans and Pagans because of its representation of the five elements; earth, air, fire, water, and spirit, joined in the circle of life. Although many other symbols hold sacred meaning for Pagans, (e.g., a triple-crescent moon, a spiral, etc) the Pentacle has become a controversial one because of its false association with Satan, or the Devil. It is also reversed in some of these cases to create the shape of a “horned goat-head” from the legs of the star. This is another distortion of the reality of the Pentacle, and an unfair portrayal of those who know it as a positive symbol of the Wiccan faith.
In the darkness of 15th, 16th, and 17th century medieval Europe, those who did not profess Christianity were labeled “Pagan, ” a derogatory term meant to exclude and insult. Today, some have reclaimed this word and proudly call themselves “Pagan” or “Neo-Pagan.” Still, others refuse the term because of its negative historical stigma. The same is true about the word “Witch.” To some it is an ancient word meaning “wise one, ” but to others is insulting. We can blame this false stigma perhaps on the media and Hollywood, who some think have turned the shaman-like “witch” or healer, into an evil, warty old woman, cackling and flying on a broomstick.
When you remove the misconceptions and falsehoods, all of these words, -- Witch, Wicca, Pagan, Druid, etc, -- indicate an indigenous and nature-oriented spirituality with varying pantheons, traditions, folklore and teachings. The traditions hail from many parts of the world, though all sharing common core practices and teachings. Numerous labels are used and are highly debated within those communities and networks. Although Wiccans, Pagans, Druids, and others on similar paths will not often adopt a single label, the fundamental right for them to worship freely and have equal recognition is not diminished.
As mentioned in part 1 of this Wiccans Seek Justice series, Wiccans or Pagans really have no central religious leader to represent us. This truth was used as an excuse by the VA for 10 years to deny Wiccan veterans their proper headstones. We are a collection of voices, each our own individuals. And if we choose to practice our faith with others, we choose circles, sanctuaries, covens and study groups that are right for us. Just as there are different denominations of Christianity, such as Baptist, Pentecostal, and Catholic, it is generally understood that “Pagan” is an umbrella term much like “Christianity” is, carrying a loose description that allows a multitude of teachings and traditions to be connected. Druid, Witch, Wiccan, Neo-Pagan, Shaman, Healer, and Priestess are just a few of the terms or “labels” individuals use now to describe their spiritual paths.
In contrast to the bogus ideas about the practice of Witchcraft, much in the Wiccan faith shares common rituals and symbols with those found in Christian holidays. In general, the Solstices, Equinoxes, and harvesting times are revered in Pagan traditions.
Spring Equinox is often called Ostara or Eostre, which sounds very much like the Christian observance of the holiday Easter. With further investigation, one will find that these holidays originated from the “common” agricultural people of the fields and farms who were connected to the earth. Traditionally, as the seasons changed and the crops were tended to, the times of the year marked celebrations to honor the earth.
There are times to plant seeds, and times to harvest. Nature spirits are called upon, and bonfires are lit to sing, dance and worship by. The cycles of the moon also hold great importance, further integrating cycles of nature into daily life.
No, we don’t fly on broomsticks, but some of us do use them as ritual tools to “sweep out” negativity in our space. We don’t brew evil potions, nor summon evil spirits, nor cast harmful spells. Our roles as healers and priestesses have been replaced by distorted images. Our true ways have been disregarded. Because of this terrible truth, Wiccans have faced a multitude of challenges throughout the years to be understood, respected, and treated equally by the mainstream of society.
It is this same bias against Wiccans that compelled the VA to hold out on granting this very basic freedom to the Wiccan soldiers who put their lives on the line for this country.
Roberta Stewart, Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, and others have spoken up about this, and have not been quieted by the excuses and delays. Americans United’s legal team was able to litigate on behalf of Pagans and Wiccans everywhere, and on Monday, April 23, announced that the VA has settled and agreed to recognize the Pentacle on the list of symbols.
More than 200 Wiccans and Pagans gathered in front of the White House in Lafayette Square Park on July 4, 2007, to celebrate the Pentacle Quest victory, and to look ahead at the challenges that are still yet to be faced, such as the need for a Wiccan or Pagan chaplain in the military. Rev. Barry Lynn, Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which is the organization that helped to litigate the Pentacle victory, began the event with a powerful speech recounting the importance of religious liberty and church-state separation.
Many Pagan leaders such as Rev. Selena Fox, Caroline Kenner, and Diana Paxson shared words and prayers to the crowd, honored Wiccan and Pagan military veterans, as well as active duty soldiers. The crowd also held a public ritual in the park in which Lady Liberty and America's Founding Fathers were invoked to help protect religious freedom for people of all faiths. Caroline Kenner published an article on Witches’ Voice detailing the outcome and energy of the day.
See: 4th of July Pagan Religious Rights Rally
Thomas Jefferson would be proudly amazed at the Pagan community’s endurance in this struggle to preserve and demand religious freedom in America, for people of all faiths, including Wiccans, Pagans, and other minority faiths.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Copyright: Bethany Moore
Aradia Beatnik Betty
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Author's Profile: To learn more about Aradia Beatnik Betty - Click HERE
Other Articles: Aradia Beatnik Betty has posted 2 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Aradia Beatnik Betty... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2014 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).