I will start this blog off by saying that my pagan path began the year I turned 13 with a solid foundation in the Celtic brand of Wicca. This doesn’t give me bonus points for having been at things longer than other people, but I feel like I’ve put a lot of thought into some of the basic tenants and ideas that most Wiccans claim to ascribe to. I’ve thought about the theology and the implied moral aspects. Celtic Wicca is a bit different from regular Wicca in one key way, as demonstrated by the difference in the Celtic Wiccan Rede from the generally known Wiccan Rede.
The SHORT Celtic Wiccan Rede:
Bide the Wiccan Law ye must,
In perfect love and perfect trust,
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:
An ye harm none, do what ye will.
Lest in thy self defense it be,
Ever mind the rule of three.
Follow this with Mind and Heart.
Merry ye meet and merry ye part.
Of course, variations on the Rede abound, but as far as I am aware only the CELTIC Wiccan Rede has the disclaimer held within it that someone who is actively trying to harm you should not be treated with kid gloves. I feel that as far as Wicca goes, Celtic Wicca is less full of “Let’s All HUG”, mainly because it is based on the mythology of a warlike society and a bit more reconstructionist than generic Wicca. Personally, I can be downright crunchy granola, and I enjoy and endorse helping the community and others as much as possible, but there is something to be said for the idea that everyone is entitled to self-preservation. Wicca, even more so than Christianity, I believe is rife for the plucking for a strong cult of personality. I’ve heard countless stories of abuse-of all kinds-from every religion imaginable, but Wicca especially teaches its followers that they should not be negative and they should be open minded to almost all things. In and of itself there is nothing wrong with these sentiments, but Wicca also teaches respect for elders. Elders are more experienced. Elders know more. YOU WILL NEVER KNOW AS MUCH AS THE ELDERS, until you are an elder and then there is no certainty that you will know everything your elders know. This is especially true because many people come to paganism and Wicca from another religion and feel cast adrift while they are trying to acclimate to this new world full of potentially scary mysticism. One thing Wicca doesn’t excel at currently is making people realize that personal power, personal growth, and personal accountability are what lie at the heart of all religious interaction and divine experiences. People come to Wicca for various reasons, but it isn’t immediately clear from the outset that the entire religion, even the magickal aspects, is all a tool to an end. That end being personal growth. For some also it would mean connection with the divine or the Gods, but certainly, this isn’t every person’s goal.
It may sound ridiculous that I don’t believe that Wicca teaches personal accountability well because “Harm None” is basically synonymous with Wicca. Wicca does do a good job of coaching the New Baby Witches not to cast spells that could be construed as affecting someone else’s free will and not to summon all manner of dark forces against your neighbor that blasts Taylor Swift at 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, but it doesn’t do a good job of teaching people in positions of authority to use those positions well. Perhaps this is part of the general disorganization of Wicca and paganism, but I’m not sure. I’ve never been a member of a large group of hierarchically organized witches, personally, and perhaps they run more smoothly than I’ve been led to believe and I’ve observed from the organizations I have existed on the fringes of.
Today, I am feeling frustrated that fluffy bunny, fru fru, Wicca is the socially acceptable, sweet face of paganism and how it exists on social media and the internet in general. There is definitely nothing wrong with being a loving, caring, person who respects others and their own body; however, Wicca circa 2013 seems to be fostering a doormat syndrome. This syndrome conspires to crush critical thinking in the public forum as many people voicing a different opinion are roundly chastised for “causing problems”. I’ve seen time and time again manipulative power hoarders who enjoy the prestige of being “wise” and looked up to use the “you should all be doormats in the pursuit of peace” line to downgrade anyone critical of any of their thoughts or behavior. I don’t know if these problems are a function of social media and the fact that many of these people can hide behind anonymity if they so desire or if these are problems from a young religion struggling to organize on a level that may not be beneficial for the adherents. Thoughts for another day when I am less upset, perhaps?