If someone asked you what a Wiccan looked like, what image would first come to mind?
A rebellious, black-clothed teen?
A middle aged, overtly Feminist woman?
A young girl who wants to feel more in tune with nature?
A “refugee” from the Woodstock era?
Or maybe someone who enjoys worshipping “the devil” and wants to mock the god of the monotheistic religions?
Except for the last one, all of these stereotypes do, I admit, describe some Wiccans…or at least people who claim to be. But the majority of us don’t look or act any different than your average person. Unless someone is wearing a pentacle or specifically says they are Wiccan, you probably couldn’t tell.
Of course, that doesn’t stop people from making assumptions like the ones below…
All Wiccans are teens who want to shock people, or upset their parents.
While this does, unfortunately, account for some who claim to be Wiccan, it is certainly not all. The angry teen who refuses to go to church and starts bragging to everyone that “I’m a witch!” is not doing themselves or the religion any favors. (Not to mention getting Wicca and witchcraft mixed up!) They are most likely still believers in their original faith, and really just want to embrace the shock factor.
There are some teens who like certain aspects of Wicca because of its emphasis on the environment. It is a good idea to be more conscientious of our planet and the impact we have on it…but you don’t have to be Wiccan to be ecologically friendly. You can be environmentally aware as a Christian, Muslim, or Hindu too. And no, you don’t have to be a hippie, either.
All Wiccans are feminists.
I hear this one a lot, and it is true that some feminists embrace the Pagan paths due to the presence of the Goddess or Goddesses. (Though I have met some who just insist that the Judeo-Christian god is a woman, and replace “Him” with “Her” when they write.) I will admit that learning about the Goddess was one of the happiest shocks for me when I first learned about Wicca. I did not have good relationships with my father OR stepfather growing up…to be told to pray to “Our Father” all the time always left a bad taste in my mouth and a hole in my spirit. Even though I knew the Christian god wasn’t really male…being a spirit and all…the mythos constantly said so. It was wonderful to find a faith that said that my sex was worth just as much as the other!
Despite what some say, there are Gods in the Pagan religions, and Wicca gives voice to the male in the Horned God. It truly is a path based on equality, not female superiority. My altar has a representation for the Goddess and the God alike. When I pray, I pray to both of Them. Keeping balance and recognizing the dual aspects of the spiritual and physical world is important.
Wiccans just want to do whatever they want.
This is a big one. Many people believe that without a holy book to tell one what to do, the average person will simply lose all sense of ethics and morality. Obviously this is untrue…just ask the nice people at the Atheist Experience. Now, we do have a rede, which says “An ye harm none, do as thou will.” The entire thing is much longer, but nearly everyone knows this part. I’ve had discussions with Christians who take great offense to this quote. For some reason, they think this is a way for Wiccans to engage in drug use, alcoholism, unprotected/spontaneous sex, and irresponsibility. To which I must say “No!”
First, inappropriate drug and alcohol use as well as unprotected/casual sex can be a very harmful activity…not only to one’s own body, but to others as well. Drunk driving, second hand smoke, unplanned pregnancy, STD spreading, inebriated and intoxicated behaviors, or even just the chemically induced inability to rationalize and make clear decisions, are all harmful to varying degrees. I have never smoked or used any drug for a non-medical purpose, and I have never even gotten tipsy, much less drunk. Heck, I don’t even drink soda because I dislike how caffeine makes me feel. So no…most Wiccans don’t use their religion as an excuse to get high and have sex all the time, just the same as a Christian doesn’t use their religion to get free wine on Sunday.
Wiccans all worship Satan
See, the problem with this accusation is that we find it quite difficult to worship someone/something we don’t even believe in. The devil/Lucifer/Satan is a Judeo-Christian concept borrowed from Zoroastrian beliefs. It is not something that any Wiccan believes in…humankind has proven itself more than capable of inhumanity without the presence of a evil demigod that deliberately seeks to lead individuals astray.
The way I see it, being able to say “the devil made me do it” is a cop out for personal responsibility for one’s actions. If I do something that is immoral, that is my fault. I’m the one who had a lapse of judgment, and it is up to me to correct the situation as best I can. Fixing what I’ve done is paramount, not begging off by saying I was “mislead”. Honestly, I just find it easier to do the right thing in the first place.
As someone who has identified as a Solitary Wiccan since age 13, who gave up eating any/all meat to live closer to the ideal of “harming none”, who thinks that the Lady and Lord are both worthy of praise, I acknowledge that my religion is new and different. I heard these false claims about my faith everyday when I was younger. Now it’s only a few times a month, but they still get under my skin. I love it when people preach tolerance for their beliefs, but refuse to tolerate anyone else’s…
Whether it’s a customer insinuating I know where to get weed, a lady staring at my pentacle necklace in the grocery store before pushing her kids behind her, or Christians literally screaming at me for saying “Happy Yule” in response to their “Merry Christmas”…my experiences with being openly Wiccan are very different than when I was openly Christian. It is a difficult path at times, but it makes me complete.
I hope that whatever you, my dear readers, believe makes you just as happy and fulfilled as Wicca makes me. As always, comments are appreciated and allowed so long as they are civil. And of course, questions are welcome too!