Addressing Misconceptions About Gothic Wiccans
Article ID: 10736
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Posted: June 25th. 2006
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I am an avid reader of news digest FARK.com and read the following two headlines the other day:
1) "By belonging to the goth subculture, young people are gaining valuable social and emotional support from their peers" (NewScientist link)
2) Some genius has figured out goth teens are more likely to hurt themselves (ivanhoe.com link)
Both articles cover how teenagers are more likely to have mutilated themselves before becoming Goth, but the second one just smells of b/s to me for the single fact that they focus solely on mutilation.
Have they asked a single Goth adult? No, because Goth adults tend to be more confrontational and articulate than the teens, whether they’re actual Goths or just Manson-listening “spooky kids” (Note: The original name for Marilyn Manson’s band was “Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids).
The common misconception about Gothic Wiccans is that we’re a bunch of Marilyn Manson- and Korn-listening playgans. BS. As I’ve covered in my essay “Gothic Wiccans: Fact or Fiction?”, half of the Goth clubs around the world won’t even let you in if you’re below the drinking age of the country you’re in, and a fair number of the rest won’t let you in unless you’re of the age of majority. In fact, most of the Goths I know hold down jobs that range from business owner to criminal psychologist to trucker. I’m going to cover the stereotypes of Wiccans who subscribe to the Goth scene in this convenient little list.
1) Goths are too morbid to believe in the positive religion of Wicca. Wait...Wicca is, in and of itself, a polytheistic religion which could be construed, to use Isaac Bonewits’ terms, as either MesoPagan or NeoPagan. In other words, you could have a coven of Wiccans dedicate a ritual to Set, Aries, Loki, or a number of other rather negative Gods. For the Wiccans who believe in the Earth Mother, you have to remember that She can be destructive as well as creative.
2) Gothic Wiccans are just teenagers who will probably ditch the religion when they get out of high school. What did I just type? Most Goths I know are adults! We just have a tendency to view what’s wrong with the world.
3) Goths come from broken homes and have alcoholic parents. Wow, I do? That must be news to my parents, who have been married for over 32 years...and have yet to even get the slightest bit tipsy. Goths come from all walks of life, from the “broken home” stereotype to indulgent parents.
4) Those gothics over there are really playing at Satan worship. Yeah, that must be why a few friends and I offered a Samhain prayer to Gaia while we were at the weekly Manhattan Goth event Albion.
5) Goths are predisposed to violence! Actually, a Goth club is probably the safest place on Earth for you to be if you’re in all black. If you’re talking about all those school shootings, I suggest reading up on the Columbine shooting again. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were Neo-Nazis and disturbed boys, according to people involved with that case. If you’re talking about the Pamela Vitale murder, Scott Dyleski was a Satanist (sorry, Anton LaVey didn’t invent the term) who was going to use her house to ship marijuana to. I suggest anyone who thinks Goths are a violent lot read credible news sources.
6) Don’t Goths dye their hair weird colors? No, there are quite a number of Goths throughout the scene who have blond hair.
I really don’t want to say this, but there are some Wiccans out there who will believe the above stereotypes about Gothic Wiccans. The same stereotypes stated by the same mass-media and fundamentalist Christians who claim Wiccans are evil devil-worshippers who will steal your babies if you don’t convert them!
So I’m going to pose the same question that I asked in my previous essay: What attracts Goths to Wicca and vice versa? Goths tend to lean more towards intellectual and aesthetic pursuits. A number of Goths have books by Mary Shelly, Bram Stoker, Richard Matheson, and a collection of poems by Edgar Allen Poe and John Keats. Wicca, of course, doesn’t offer any specific guidelines, so the rather intellectual Goth might be drawn to the Wiccan path in hopes of finding his or her own way through life.
Which brings up another interesting point: Memento mori: Remember, you too will die. The generic form of Wicca believes that people will go to the Summerlands when they die to await the next incarnation. Since a good number of people in the US are scared to remember that they’ll die one day themselves, the imagery of death surrounding the Goth can be extremely disquieting. Skulls and other skeletal pieces can be seen on a number of Gothic jewelry pieces, and the classical image of the vampire invokes the very image of living death.
Don’t just take my word for it, though; there are a number of websites that deal with a darker shade of Wicca. For example, John J. Coughlin (a.k.a. DarkWyccan) runs the waningmoon.com website and also wrote Out of the Shadows: An Exploration of Dark Paganism and Magick. In it, he writes “When religions such as Wicca were young, they were more balanced, recognizing the important role that both darkness and light played in the spiral dance called life. It is only recently, when Paganism became popular, if not trendy, that people began misinterpreting this polarity and separating them.” I really can’t agree more with this statement.
For further reading, I suggest The Goth Bible by Nancy Kilpatrick, What is Goth? by Voltaire, and the aforementioned book by Mr. Coughlin. The first two books, in my opinion, constitute a sort of “Goth 101", while the third book shows magick and Paganism from a Goth’s point of view. Wikipedia also has an excellent entry on Goth (which I didn’t reference here) that I recommend looking at. There are a number of great sites on Paganism and how to fuse it with Goth aesthetics. And if nothing else, go to the nearest Goth club to you and ask someone there who happens to be wearing a pentacle how they reconcile Paganism with Goth. I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.
http://www.fark.com Archives from April 13, 2006 and April 15, 2006
The Goth Bible by Nancy Kilpatrick, for the information regarding the Columbine shooting
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Bio: Black Knight is a practicing Wiccan since 1997 and a Goth since 1999. He lives in New York City with his wife and two cats.
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