Articles/Essays From Pagans
March 9th. 2014 ...
Healing the Witch Within
Discovering Wicca as a Young Child
March Pisces Energy: Pre-natal Memories and Standing Upright
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
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Chains Around The Mind
Article ID: 13309
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,648
Times Read: 2,659
RSS Views: 16,641
Posted: September 6th. 2009
Times Viewed: 2,659
I got a number of emails from people after Witchvox published an essay I wrote some time back with a message of tolerance. In fact the same theme was repeated over and over again with the private messages. Basically it went along the lines of “why are people so determined to put everything spiritual in a box?”
Are we? I mean seriously, in many of the essays I’ve seen on Witchvox, it seems that people are frequently unconsciously expecting conformity and deriding anyone who steps outside of narrowly defined boundaries. So are our habits of mind actually to blame? Are people making assumptions about modern Paganism (Wicca, Druidism, etc…) that are part of the problem? This essay is about the notions and attitudes that color how we shape our beliefs, and the way we look at others whose beliefs don’t always match our assumptions.
Lets take a look at this notion that assumptions are a problem shall we? Now I’m not trying to practice “Politically Correct” thinking, but rather go into how we tend to let assumptions and lazy thinking cause problems. I don’t have the answers, but like that Greek guy Socrates, I sure have a lot of questions and misgivings about fancy word games I’ve seen being used in place of sound thinking. So I’m not trying to tell people to be correct in their thinking, but I am going to point out where this takes people. A few people are undoubtedly going to find some of the things I say offensive, but I feel impelled to shake a few branches and drop the fruit that has hung there too long. Want a bite?
First off, what are “habits of mind”? In the field of education according to the theory of teaching called Dimensions of Learning™, this is the highest form of instructional goal. Case to make my point: teaching scientific thinking and thought processes. For what its worth, I am borrowing the vocabulary here, not necessarily the educational theory. So when I refer to “habits of mind” I am talking about notions and habits of thought that are acquired from life and lessons through studies and interactions with others.
As you will see however, I consider these to not being carefully thought out since they are unquestioningly accepted. Or worse, these are being treated as given truths, such as religious catechisms are.
So how does this translate about in other areas of thinking? How about religion for instance? First lets use a real life example from my own past: I was in church on Ash Wednesday with my family (my mom twisted my arm to come since my nephew was being christened) . After the service, the priest began his weekly message to the congregation. His daily sermon was full of what the Pope said that Catholics must do to be among the faithful. (My dad and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes…LOL) . It did get me to think.
Every week, if you are a churchgoer, you go to church and are told what to think. Even if 95% of what is said each week rolls right past you, how much still becomes a part of your unconscious thinking? Ever wonder at the sheer knee jerk reaction of many mainstream Judao-Christians at the term “Witch”? Think about it. For the practicing church or synagogue going members, they have heard nothing but dark prejudice at every worship service…for how long? Mental programming can be very strong, and very destructive if it is the negatively labeling someone, some group, or even just a word.
How language affects our notions of ourselves:
So now lets take the very terms Pagan, Heathen and Wiccan. What do they mean? I personally hate all three labels. 'Pagan', to me, comes from the Latin term for what was considered essentially an uneducated rustic. Heathen means a complete nonbeliever (or equally bad, a person with false beliefs) and Wicca is a hot button term that seems to mean whatever people want it to mean. I wish there was a term that I could use comfortably, but there isn’t. Guess I’m stuck. Anybody else feel the same? I mean, in some ways being called a Witch or Satanist is better, at least there you don’t have the ambiguity of meaning.
Secondly, people throw around labels too easily as a way of defining what they aren’t, or what they find wrong with others. It isn’t hurting people physically (yet) , but it does lead down some rather disturbing paths if you follow the reasoning behind them. So, what buttons do you push when you use these labels? People being people, we almost always want to categorize our thinking to try to avoid blanket stereotypical labels. So what do we do?
We make more labels: neoWiccan, New Age, or terms like Dianic Wicca, Celtic Wicca, etc… Okay, I could go on, but you should have gotten the drift by now. Labels do have their place at times, no question. We need to sort and organize our world and it is impossible if people don’t try to find where things fit in the whole wide world. However what happens when you start trying to use labels as a way to make judgments?
Try this example: “Oh, I’m a traditional Wiccan, I belong to an Alexandrian Coven”. Are the alarm bells going off in your mind yet? What if the person said the same thing in a slightly different way? “I’m a religious fundamentalist”.
Isn’t implicit in either statement a judgment? “I’m doing it right, everyone else is doing it wrong”? Over and over again I see this kind of sloppy thinking and writing. I’m not trying to attack any person or their faith (I picked on the Alexandrians merely because I’d read the bio of the founder of this branch of Wicca) with my aforementioned example, but I am really down on the sloppy thinking and sloppier writing that has people saying these kinds of things, especially if they don’t intend to.
So folks, watch your words. Think about what you mean. If you actually need to invent a new word or phrase to correctly express what you mean, maybe it is about time! I’ve seen some folks (and other essayists) blame all of this on the duality of the Judao-Christian tradition. Let’s start making some progress right off the start by dropping the blame game!
People are the root of all religious movements. The divine is perhaps too big for mere humans to completely comprehend, so we humanize our interactions with these things. People sort, organize and categorize as a matter of course. So when did this natural tendency become a foil to hide prejudice and bigotry behind?
If the problem is rooted in people’s tendency to simply be people, recognize that and stop blaming it on the differences in belief systems. After all, most followers of mainstream religions can honestly point out contradictory parts of their own belief systems.
So are we better, the same or worse? It is up to each pagan to demonstrate their enlightenment by practicing the virtues that is claimed to be one of the traits of the movement.
Onto the next area where assumptions can cloud things is politics:
Politics? What do you mean? Aren’t all Pagans, Heathens, whatever, of one mind?
What do you think? Somehow there seems to be an assumption with many in our community that you are automatically a follower of Starhawk or Isaac Bonewits’ political agenda. Are we all expected in our community to be “greens” or “vegans”, or “pacifists”? Can’t a person’s personal political belief system and social agenda be separate from their religion? Can a person hold political values that aren’t all characterized as being Left, Democrat or Green?
Perhaps folks need to remember that the United States founding fathers wisely decided to keep one’s personal religion out of much of the discussion of political beliefs. For too long the mainstream media (There, I placed some blame!) have fostered an idea that all politics needs to be polarized between left and right, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican. The media may like to characterize the extremes out there as a way of improving their ratings, but this is a façade that only binds a person if they unquestioningly believe this kind of falsehood. Life, and people are much more than a religious belief system or political label.
One’s religious belief system is not an automatic rubber stamp of approval for attitudes more rooted in 1960s era counter culture. There has been a recognition that we need to move on beyond such simplistic ideas in pagan religion, and so it is also with political issues. Maybe we modern pagans need to do the same. Our strength as a part of the society we live in lies in our very diversity.
Pagans are a part of our society after all, and our culture will find its place where it belongs without an assumption that all of its members need to march, lock step on political issues. Certain groups out there also practice this mindset. One of the labels they used was “moral majority, although they were neither. Do you want to be lumped into that group’s mindset yourself?
Did I need to say that? You be the judge.
If a person wants to have a basis of interacting with the world based on open minded principles, perhaps more folks need to read what Liberalism really means by going back to its source: On Liberty by John Stuart Mill and first published in 1859. Mill’s view of liberalism is closer to the notion of what it means in “harm thee none” than any other I’ve seen. Perhaps if more people read what he says instead of wrestling with what other authors (even some of those who are authorities in the pagan spiritual movement) want to interpret it to mean, we’d have less angst about other aspects of the faith that bear upon it. Don’t want to spend the time to find and read Mill’s works? Search his name and read the summary with all its direct quotes in Wikipedia.
So, I’m sorry if this essay isn’t a rubber stamp on all things Pagan/Wiccan/New Age. I am a very spiritual person though I don’t have a great ritual to share, and I’m not going to gush about my personal version of Deity (I do have one, but its more or less a private thing) . I gladly read the essays posted from across the spectrum each week on Witchvox, even if I don’t always share some of the points of view expressed.
I do have something to say however because I feel that this spiritual movement needs to show more of its potential intellectually. Most of us joined this movement as a way of breaking away from the dead weight of the past, and wanted something better. However as the modern Pagan movement becomes more mature, more aligned with the mainstream in our society; the greater is the need for its members to demonstrate they are an improvement.
So I say this to anyone who is willing to listen, don’t go looking for self-proclaimed leaders to tell you what to think, or how to practice your beliefs. That is part of the paradigm that reflects what you said you wanted to leave behind. It is up to each to study with an open mind, and learn all they can with a critical mind.
For goodness sakes however, don’t think whatever you are in your professed beliefs gives you a right to look down on anyone else merely over differences of belief. To be a Pagan means you want to be free. Light a candle or however you go about doing it and meditate about this: How are you trapped in old habits of thinking, old patterns of behavior and unconsciously continuing those ways?
Break those chains around your mind. Now, unlock the magik that your freedom brings and change the world. It all starts with you.
Mill, John Stuart., On Liberty, (1859) and available in a variety of reprints, some unabridged, others with works by related authors or with additional writings by John Stuart Mill.
Copyright: Andrew Mychalus
c. 2009 original writing
Location: New Park, Pennsylvania
Author's Profile: To learn more about Sorbus - Click HERE
Other Articles: Sorbus has posted 12 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Sorbus... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
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).