Assumptions about Wicca

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!

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35 thoughts on “Assumptions about Wicca

  1. LOL Do you ever wear a pointy black hat just for fun? πŸ™‚

    Unfortunately the vast majority of people like to put others in a box based on their own miss-perceptions. Because of the political positions I take liberals falsely label me as a conservative and conservatives label me as a liberal. While neither group seem to be capable of realizing that there are some individuals like you and I who choose to remain independently minded and go our own way.

    LOL That said if you snap your fingers and turn me into a toad I’ll have to pull out my lightsaber. πŸ™‚

    May the Schwartz be with you as Mel Brooks would say!

  2. Ha, I *love* Mel Brooks. Spaceballs was great, but I think Blazing Saddles is still my favorite.

    Yes, misconceptions are everywhere. I decided long ago to be a free thinker. Having the support of a group is nice…until you do/say something that “outs” you as being different from the cookie cutter mold. That’s why I can’t be a liberal OR conservative, and why I can’t be a feminist OR an MRA. My ideals and thoughts don’t take to labeling very well.

    Actually, no. I have never dressed up that way. Usually for Samhain/Halloween I wear various Renaissance Faire outfits I’ve bought over the years. So, usually I look like either a colorful peasant…or a bar wench. πŸ™‚

    Of course, when I’m doing my Remembrance Ritual, I wear a simple gray dress. But that’s later in the evening when the frivolity is over and it’s time for seriousness. I usually do that part alone and outside.

  3. Your sense of humor and reasonableness never fail to amaze me simply because it is so rare and therefore refreshing. πŸ™‚

  4. This was a great post Tarnished. I am a firm believer in the fact that in order for people to be tolerant of others they have to spend a lot of time unlearning the many assumptions and false mind-sets they have come into contact with long before they encounter the very thing.

    Religion has always fascinated me and in my younger days I traveled and searched and really finding answers was the most important thing I could do and or dedicate myself to. Anyway I look forward to reading more about your thoughts and experiences of this

  5. Thank you. I wish I could say I’ve traveled a lot…but no. Since I work long hours, I find it easier to take online theology courses or simply read. Hope to travel one day…perhaps in about 2 years when I’m debt free. πŸ™‚

  6. Can I ask you something about the tiniest thing you said? About not eating animals because of “harm none.” I mean this as tactfully as possible! Aren’t you harming whatever you eat, be it plant or animal?

    Sorry, thanks!

  7. Hi there, bzzfft. Nice to hear from you.
    Ha, I do get this question a lot…even had a waiter at a restaurant get super offended by it because I asked for no pancetta in my pasta dish.

    The only thing I can say is this: most plants actually have evolved to be eaten. Sounds odd, but it’s true. They have seeds so that (theoretically) they get eaten and “deposited” somewhere else by whatever ate them. There are also many plants (like beans, fruit trees, plantains, nut trees, tomatoes, etc) that have evolved the ability to remain as a stationary, living plant that “gives up” it’s seeds so the core plant can still grow/live.

    Even if this was not the case, plants do not have brainstems or nerves. They cannot feel pain, though they can probably “feel” when something happens to their roots or core plant. While they are alive, I have seen no evidence to show they are “aware”. Part of “harm none” includes yourself, and I do need to eat. Thus, I prefer to eat things that aren’t sentient.

    A lobster will scream and attempt to break free of the pot while being boiled to death. A pig will cry out when it is hung upside down and it’s throat slit. A chicken will break it’s own legs trying to escape from it’s restraints. Plants do not suffer from factory farming in the same way that our sentient animal cousins do, if at all.

    That’s not to say that I think everyone should be a vegetarian. I know many people who have dietary disorders that essentially need animal protein or cannot eat fruits/vegetables. I know others that simply cannot fathom going through life without eating their favorite foods. I do not begrudge them, or shame them, or think they are “evil” or “callous murderers”. What I *do* hate is factory farming, and all the unnecessary pain and suffering it causes…so much so that I spend 3x as much on milk and eggs by only buying them from certified-humane/cage-free farms in my local area.

    I hope this wasn’t too long of a response. I feel very strongly about this topic, and tend to go on about it at length. What you may find as I write more is that I don’t just care about other humans…I care about everybody. If I need to further clarify anything, please let me know! πŸ™‚

  8. Thanks for your comment! First off I hope you are having a great Memorial Day and are eating BBQ , but as you do/did honeycombs . I did that once with bbq and it burned……

    I think sometimes that the physical journey with out the mental journey is very limited. Travel often time can be a great catalyst for change. I think I have read excessively and it is really amazing what the mind can do with information, with stories and how your vision can be stretch and augmented

    I’m working to get out of debt myself. Man when that happens I’m going to travel a bit. Anyways Tarnished your all kinds of cool

    Be well
    Dave

  9. That was actually very informative! About plants. It also reminded me of stuff we learned at school, the Muslim way of killing livestock.

    I suppose it’s pretty widely known that for meat to be Halal, you have to cut through the big neck vein with something sharp enough to instantly kill the animal, but what people (probably) don’t know is that you’re also not allowed to have the animal see the knife, or for the other animals to see the slaughtering. Most Humane Murder award?

    I don’t know, I just thought I would share that with you.

  10. Yes, I remember that from school also. While it is still killing, I would greatly prefer that meat be obtained the Halal way than the way it is done on a typical farm. I understand that most people are omnivores…what I can’t understand is why there needs to be prolonged suffering.

    Thank you for sharing the specifics of Halal, bzzfft. Knowledge is always a good thing here.

  11. Hi friend I have been following your blog and enjoy reading your post, so I have nominated you for the “Shine On” Award, please visit my blog to accept it and the award, great blog and lotsa luv…Terry πŸ™‚

  12. Wow, you are Wiccan? Sick, I identify myself as a Pagan, because Wicca has some beliefs I don’t, but when the club is this small, we all have to be friends, welcome aboard!

  13. Hello Terry, I’m so happy to see you here. Lots of love to you too!

    Wow, I haven’t even been blogging for 3 months and already I’m doing guest posts and getting awards? I honestly feel privileged to know so many great bloggers who have such great ideas and personalities.

    I thank you for this award, Terry. It means a lot. I will visit and accept it as soon as I have access to a desktop instead of just my phone. πŸ™‚

  14. That is really awesome, EK. It’s nice to see another Pagan round these parts. Not that it matters, but I’m curious; when did YOU become Pagan? Was it a belief system you always had, or did you flit for a while, too?

  15. Wiccans are new age crap, why dont you guys go back to real old age druidery & practise the real science & alchemy & astrology of understanding nature …

    At least with druidery you get to bang hot hobbits …

  16. Hello rmaxGenactivePUA.

    I’m afraid that most of your points are wrong. While Wicca is a relatively new religion (having been founded in the 1940s), its practitioners do not necessarily have to believe in “new age crap”. A few do…many do not, at least if they are serious about it.

    Druidism is one of the many paths in the Pagan family. Just as Baptists, Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, Lutherans and Episcopals are under the umbrella of Christianity, so too are Wiccans, Druids, Dianics, Asatru, Reconstructionists and Shamans all various types of Pagans.

    All of us do try to understand nature and the “old ways” though obviously there is no unbroken line of ancient knowledge to learn from. The Pagans of today are not the Pagans of 3,000 years ago…and certainly not like the ones from 5,000+ years ago.

    As for the “real sciences” of astrology and alchemy…those were the precursors to the modern day fields of chemistry and astronomy. They had their place while we were first beginning to truly attempt an understanding of our planet, but are no longer necessary in current times.

    As for Hobbits? You know as well as I that they are an imaginary race from Tolkien’s very creative mind. If my sister and brother Pagans are going to be “banging” anyone, it will certainly not be Hobbits.

  17. I explored many different religions, and eventually came to realize ‘Unaffiliated’ (like my political party registration!) was basically a lot like Paganism.
    I use the term to pick up chicks πŸ˜‰

  18. Lol, I suppose it could be considered that way. After all, Paganism isn’t one of the “Big 5” religions that everyone knows about.

    So, what *do* you believe in, and how has it helped you get the ladies?

  19. Gandalf was a druid … he probably banged alot of hot hobbits …

    Not surprised you didnt get the joke … lol

    I doubt hobbits would ever bang a wiccan anyway, druids like gandalf, shoot impressive fireballs

    Wiccans sing kumbya holding hands around firecamps …

    Wiccans are too removed from real paganism, which is why its more like new ageism

    Also druids built stonehenge, they represent the lost arts, wiccans will never come close to a druid like gandalf … even if he is fictional, he represents the power real paganism has

  20. I did, in fact, get your joke. I simply did not find it humorous.

    Gandalf was not actually a druid, or even a human, for that matter. He was one of the Maiar, or lesser Valar, who were divine in origin. They were closer to beings like angels than anything else, wielding great powers but told to not interfere in mortal affairs unless absolutely necessary. As such, no…he would not have relations with hobbits.

    While most Wiccans I know do tend to be very peaceful people, we do not simply sit around campfires. Ours is a religion like any other, albeit a newer one. It involves so much more than what you hear about in typical media. Also, druids *are* still very much a part of Paganism, their path is just different than that of a Wiccan.

    As such, all druids (both modern and ancient) are simply human. Fireballs, vortexes, verbally communicating with nonhuman animals, flying…all of these are fictitious. I cannot do any of this, nor could a druid. There is no “one true path” in NeoPaganism, so people who are modern day druids are no more or less valid/wise/powerful than any other Pagan, Wiccans included.

    Hope this clears up some of your religious misconceptions about Pagans.

  21. Awesome and informative post! I’ve never generalized about Wicca like in your examples having grown up in a pretty open minded region of the north coast of New South Wales in Australia, but I definitely learned more about the religion from your post.

    And I love this: β€œAn ye harm none, do as thou will.”

    Very very cool, as an advocate of “live and let live” I can definitely agree with that!

    Thanks for sharing, all the best πŸ™‚

    Rohan.

  22. Druidry & other forms of paganism does in fact allow you manipulate the elements

    Theyre just different parts of paganism

    I’m pretty sure gandalf would’ve tapped some hot hobbit ass, ie the nephilim

    Even the act of you eating food & thinking it keeps you alive is a form of witch craft

    Our world relies heavily on druids & other entities using everything from fireballs to dimensional traits to maintain an existential state

    A world of reality, is the ultimate form of witch craft, its the ultimate spell

  23. I am afraid you are no longer being coherent or sensible.

    Following the Pagan religions does not allow a practitioner to control the elments. This is reality, not the X-Men.

    You are confusing the Hobbits of Tolkien’s world with the Nephilim of Christian mythology…which is odd, because the Nephilim were portrayed as giants.

    Eating food to continue living is not part of witchcraft (which is not Wiccan *or* Druidic anyway). It is a natural biological process, and has no supernatural explanation at all.

    The last part of your comment is unintelligible and meandering. Please try to keep to an actual topic, not flights of fantasy. This will be the last comment of yours I allow to go through until then.

  24. Years ago our local newspaper announced that there were “witches” living nearby. That scared me until I read the article and learned the things you discuss here.

    And then I started teaching women studies and how feminists deal with religion, with an attraction to Wicca being one among many options.

    I do find the pagan tradition appealing in the female-positive, goddess focus. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Thanks for sharing, BroadBlogs.

    I’ve always been kinda curious about why people are afraid when they find out that Pagans live in their area. To this day, I haven’t been afraid of Christians/Jews (well, individual ones…yes), so I am unsure why others are scared of less well known religions? At any rate, I’m very glad that your newspaper gave accurate details!

  26. I believe in…something simple but very complicated. Basically we are on the simplest dimension of existence, and ‘gods’ are higher dimensional beings.
    It definitely would help get the ladies, but I dont talk about it much. There arent many girls I actually would bother with. I went through my pump and dump phase…it left me hollow and empty.

  27. Tarn:

    “my experiences with being openly Wiccan are very different than when I was openly Christian”

    In your past did you truly believe in Christianity, or was it more of a stated belief for the sake of your family of origin?

    None of my business, but I am curious about you.

  28. It’s cool. I’m open about most things.

    I was Christian til age 13. Though I had friends of Hindu, Christian, and Jewish faith growing up, I attended a private school from kindergarten thru 5th and was very devout. Not in a “all other religions are wrong/bad” way, no…just a confidence that my beliefs and my friends were equally valid but different ways of praying to the same God(s). We never had issues with other beliefs and we even had Jehovah Witnesses over for lunch rather than shooing them away. Then I found Wicca, and felt like I’d come home.

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