Search This Blog

Monday, February 18, 2013

Teaching the masses about the reality of Paganism & Wicca

I wasn't going to respond to the segment on Fox News regarding Paganism and Wicca this morning, because I hadn't even seen it. But all of the websites I follow and Facebook pages I work with were buzzing about it, so I located the clip online and watched it a few times, so I could really be sure of what I had seen and heard. Yes, Fox News gave inaccurate information about the Pagan and Wiccan holidays, indicated that all Pagans and Wiccans practice witchcraft, and scoffed at the fact that the University of Missouri had made it part of their schedule to allow days off for Sabbats. It was unprofessional of them not to do their research and give accurate facts. However, I urge you to think about a few things. Paganism and Wicca have come a long way in terms of being publicly and federally recognized as "real" religions in the past 20 years. The public is becoming more curious and it is our duty to educate them on what being a Pagan or Wiccan really means, so that they don't continue to believe (and teach others) the old stereotypes. We do not sacrifice children or animals. We do not ALL dance naked in the pale moonlight, though some do enjoy doing so. (My neighbors would not appreciate it, I'm sure!) Not all Pagans & Wiccans practice witchcraft, and not all who claim to be witches are Pagan or Wiccan. Some people will freak out at the following statement, but I will say it anyway: There are MANY Christian witches. MANY. Now here's why you may not believe that: the common misconception about witchcraft is that it is practiced by putting hexes and curses on people and forcing people to fall in love, etc. The fact is, the majority of witchcraft consists of meditation, focusing energy, and asking the gods/goddesses to assist in directing things to go as we wish, as long as it will harm no one in the process. Other religions, including Christianity, use prayer to do the same exact thing. Christians ask Jesus or God to help them with what they want to accomplish, to direct them on their correct path in their daily life, and to heal the sick. It's important that we make this comparison known! It's the same thing, just done in a different way. This concept is exactly what I used to build the communication and conversation between myself and my own family and friends when I "came out of the broom closet" about 10 years ago. I had already been practicing in secret for 5 years, and knew that I had to tell everyone eventually, and that it may not be easy. My parents had raised my siblings and I in a Christian-based but non church-going household. We were not forced to believe anything, but both parents were raised in divisions of Christianity and so of course there was an influence of Christ in our upbringing. We were always encouraged to find our own paths in life as well as religion, and all three of us kids experiemented with several divisions of Christian churches while growing up, trying to find the right balance. I am the oldest of the three. I had "imaginary" friends as a child - I would tell people about these people in detail, including what they looked like, what kinds of cars and pets they had, and what they did for work. At the time, my parents dismissed this as most parents do, deciding it was all part of the common "imaginary friends" phase that most children go through. As I got older, the churches I would attend on my own, as well as teachers and friends would tell me that seeing people that others could not see was "wrong" and "fantasy" rather than reality. So I did my best to ignore the people I continued to see and sense around me. By the time I started high school, I started to realize that the people I was seeing were not going to go away, because they were in fact, real people. I did my best to shut myself off from seeing them, because as every teenager does, I just wanted to fit in and be "normal". After attending several churches (Lutheran, Baptist, Non-Denominational, Catholic, etc) I was left feeling confused and questioning whether or not there was something mentally wrong with me. I could not find anyone who would accept that I had some kind of ability to see and communicate with spirits, and I was tired of being told that if I didn't stop talking like that, I would be condemned to hell. That just wasn't going to work for me. I wound up at the public library, studying all forms of religion, including Buddhism, Hinduism, VooDoo, etc. All I wanted to do was find something that explained what I was going through. I read several books about mediums and white magick, and then one day in the library, a book literally fell off the shelf into my hands. I wish I could remember the title, but I know it had something to do with "A Journey Through Paganism" - I read three pages right there in the aisle, and I knew I was "home". When I finally took the plunge, years later, and told my parents about it, they had a lot of questions. I explained to them that I still beleived everything I did before, but that I had a different way of practicing that, and that I "prayed" a different way. I explained that I still believed in God, but that where there is one, there must also be a balance, so I also believed in a Goddess. After many more conversations, where we clarified and debunked those old stereotypes, my parents were supportive and encouraging to what I believe. If you are a Wiccan or a Pagan, you have undoubtably read the old rede, which includes that you should be silent of your path - meaning you should not tell anyone about your faith, so that you cannot be judged or have it held against you. I will never follow that rede again. The only way to make it known to the masses that we are real people with a real religion, and we are not a joke to be poked at or made fun of, is to be LOUD! Talk about your faith. Don't ever try to force it on anyone, and be respectful of those who decline to hear about it. We all know how it feels to have Christianity shoved down our throats at inopportune times, so be careful not to take that route. People ask me all the time, why I decided to write a book about my life (Simple! I need to help others understand that I am every bit as "normal" as they are, despite being a Pagan, a witch, and a medium!) why I make public videos answering questions about my faith, (so that people can learn the TRUTH and not rely on stereotypes!) and why I choose to run a metaphysical business in a mosty Christian town. (So that others who are still living silently can know that they are not alone out here and that it's okay to speak up - as well as because it's hard to find supplies for rituals (church-like celebrations) and spellwork (like consentrated prayer) at reasonable costs. It's unfortunate that there are so many people out there trying to take advantage of the Pagan & Wiccan community by selling supplies at outrageous costs, just to make a buck. America was founded on the principle of helping your fellow man. That's why my prices are so low. Getting the general public to understand and accept who we are and what we believe is not an easy battle, but trust me when I tell you that people WANT to know. I do a lot of craft fairs and events where I have a booth set up, with my business name proudly displayed and my products right out in the open. The response from the public is overwhelmingly good. They have so many questions, and are happy to purchase things to experiment with, and take my business card to tell a friend about me. The curiousity is there. Feed it! When I was in high school, it was still scoffed at for Jewish people to be out of school for their holidays, since the rest of us had to be there. And that wasn't very long ago! We are making progress in America to accept the beliefs of religions that are not our own, but we can't stop where we are. Be accepting and ask questions to educate yourself on faiths that you do not understand. Don't put down anyone else's beliefs just because they are not your own, and don't repeat or encourage stereotypes. If you are a parent and your child tells you that they are experimenting with alternative religions, encourage them! Learn TOGTHER! You don't have to convert, but it won't hurt you to learn what OTHERS believe! All parents want their children to be happy. If your child is happy being a Pagan or Wiccan rather than a Christian, there's nothing wrong with that. They love you, regardless of what you beleive, and you should do the same for them. The ONLY way to stop more of the nonsense that Fox News exhibited in their segment this morning from occuring is to educate others of the real facts. So no more hiding! Come out and be proud of who you are. Use your common sense on how flamboyant you should or should not be in certain circumstances. Something that has worked for me for the past 10 years of being openly Pagan, was wearing my pentacle necklace out in public. Because the pentacle and pentagram are so often assumed to be part of devil worship (which Pagans & Wiccans do not believe in, by the way!), I got asked about it quite often. I explained that it is a symbol of protection and love in the Pagan faith. This opened a dialogue of Q&A between not only friends and family, but also complete strangers. You'd be surprised how often I am complimented on it's beauty before I am asked what it means. I won't like to you and tell you that I don't still sometimes wonder if putting my "witchy" things out of sight would be smart in certain situations. A year ago, the property management company that I rent my home from sent me a letter telling me that it was time for my routine home inspection. I had a week to make sure the house was ready for them to inspect and make sure that there weren't pipes leaking under the house or any other kind of water, fire or smoke damage not visible from the outside. I had my altar set up in my formal living room - just a smal table with candles, my cauldron, and some small religious pieces. I walked by it every day that week and thought maybe I should put everything in a closet until the inspection was over. I went to my favorite Pagan community website (www.facebook.com/thepaganmama) and asked for thoughts and advice from my fellow Pagans all over the world. The majority response was that if Christians wouldn't feel the need to put away thier crosses, crucifixes, and altars, I shouldn't either. So I left it. The inspector didn't even look twice when he walked through. This year, when he came back, I had finally decorated the house fully - and believe me, there is every indication, in almost every room, that is is the home of a witch. The inspector walked through again, complimented a few of my pieces, grinned at my book collection in the hallway bookcase, and wished me well until next time. I truely believe that my being open with it, and proud of it, is what made it "no big deal" to the inspector. So trust me when I say, that the world is constantly changing, and we'll continue to become more public, more prevolent, and more understood with time. I'll leave you with that thought today, and I encourage you to ask questions, comment and discuss this post. I'll do my best to respond. To keep in touch with my daily works, you can become a fan of my facebook page here: www.facebook.com/readingsbymamaem Follow me on twitter here: @MagickByMamaEm View my webstore here: www.mamaemsworld.com and watch my videos here: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0RiNRgad4PjHOjOuXHvApg Until next time, XOXO Mama Em