Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hold On To Your Broomsticks...

Blessed Equniox Family and Friends!

What I am about to tell you may shock you. Then again, for those of you who actually know me...probably not.

In light of the recent "Dabble-Gate" scandal caused by Delaware Senate Candidate Christine O'Donnell's confession that she had once practiced...well, something (she claims it was Witchcraft...but, some of us would beg to differ), I felt compelled to share a few of my thoughts of my own about acceptance.

Many Wiccans have come forward to to defend the reputation of our religion. What has offended so many is not that Christine O'Donnell claimed to practice Witchcraft. That in and of itself would nary cause a stir amongst our community. No, what I believe really has many Witches/Wiccans flying off the broom handle, so to speak, is that during her brief stint as a Witch, Ms. O'Donnell claims she inadvertently picnicked on a blood tainted Satanic altar, thus linking Witchcraft to Satanism.

For years, Wiccans have been trying to distance themselves from any association with the practice of Satanism. The notion that Witchcraft and Satanism go hand in hand is a misconception shared by many. You will most likely hear what Wicca is not, long before you hear what it actually is. "Wicca is not Satanism". "Wiccans do not believe in the existence of Satan". "Satan is a Christian construct." And my personal favorite, "to give evil a name lends it power". And I know, I've assured many concerned folks of these very things myself.

With all due respect however, aren't we being just a tad hypocritical. Is it just me or doesn't this smack of the same intolerance that we've been striving to overcome for these years? It seems to me that what we are in effect doing, is making it glaringly obvious that we are intolerant of someone else's beliefs, to the point that we are going through hell (pun intended) and high water to clarify that WE are not THEM!

No, we're not Satanists. But we're also not Buddhists. I mean, think about it. Do you hear us so vehemently defending our comparison to any other religion? Many of us have found our way to Wicca after being raised in a more mainstream religious background, yet if someone were to suggest that we were practicing Christianity or Judaism, it would hardly be worth mentioning. Yet, compare a Wiccan to a Satanist and all hell breaks lose...literally!

Now, I would be the last person you would hear say, "Oh, those poor misunderstood Satanists" or that Satanism has just gotten a bad rap. Satanism has gotten it's reputation because many people are repelled by their principals, practices and ya know, the whole association with Satan thing. The fact that Satanists don't actually worship Satan makes little difference. Satanists recognize themselves as Deity and hold only their own life perspectives as holy. It is a religion based solely on the "Self". They believe in fully living out and indulging in, their innermost lusts and desires.

"Satanism respects and exalts life. Children and animals are the purest expressions of that life force, and as such are held sacred and precious..." ~ religioustolerance.org.

Surprised? I was. I was taught to believe that Satanists sacrificed children and small animals to Satan. Not so much.

Back in the day, when first I began practicing Wicca, I participated in an online Pagan-Christian discussion forum. I remember one of my very first conversations was with a woman who belonged to the the Church of Satan. I recall asking her, with my uppity neophyte attitude, why anyone would want to practice Satanism. I was surprised when, rather than telling me where to put my broomstick, she calmly and politely shared her reasons and suggested a website or two, should I want to a better my understanding of her beliefs. After participating for a while, and being bashed by many of the more experienced Pagan practitioners on the Board, it became readily apparent that not only was she one of the more intelligent posters, but also one of the more respectful as well.

I have to admit, I was actually nervous to visit the sites she suggested, but curiosity got the better of me and eventually I did. Can you imagine how surprised I was to learn that I actually agreed with 9 1/2 of the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth! Shocked yet? See how many you agree with...

http://www.churchofsatan.com/Pages/Eleven.html

There are many religions whose beliefs and practices I can't embrace. I don't enjoy the fact that some of the African Diasporic religions engage in animal sacrifice. I don't agree with the Jehovah's Witness who refuses a life saving blood transfusion for their child because it's against their beliefs. And the Scientologists? What more can I say?

Yet, I don't need to agree with what anyone else chooses to believe. I am secure enough in who I am and in the Path I follow so that I don't feel I have to hold up for comparison the differences between us. All I need to do is accept that the path they've chosen is much different my own.

All this having been said, I've met a few Satanists in my time. Not many, but those I've met, I've actually liked! No, I can't say I agree with with their beliefs and you definitely wouldn't find me attending one of their....umm, picnics, yet I don't feel an overwhelming need to cringe when I hear my religion spoken in the same sentence as theirs.

The Scientologists? Well, I'm still a work in progress...

In Darkness, Light!



Tracy

10 comments:

Diandra said...

Saying, "Witchcraft is not Satanism" is like saying, "Blue is not yellow" - both statements may be correct, but they are far from actually describing the thing you are talking about. (^v^)

(I usually go, "I'm a witch. I'm crazy." No further questions asked.)

Tracy ~ The UnOfficial Witch of Ridgewood said...

You're absolutely right, Diandra!

And ya know what, you might have a degree in physics or be a neuroscientist and if you tell someone you're a Witch, they'll still say your crazy!

White Wolf said...

Hi Tracy,

Nice to read your posts once in a while. It seems that facebook is taking up more time than usual. :-)

Blessings )O(
Arie

Linnea Duff said...

Tracy, I read a little piece in the NYT's on Tuesday about Christine O'Dpnnell's debut television commercial. She says "I am not a witch".

Just thought you'd feel relieved (as if there was ever any doubt).

Tracy ~ The UnOfficial Witch of Ridgewood said...

Blessings, Linnea!

Yes, I'm so happy she cleared that up!

I was actually asked to give my opinion on how thrilled I was to learn the news:

http://www.philly.com/dailynews/features/20101006_Jenice_Armstrong__O_Donnell_ad_irks_witches.html

Balewa said...

LaVeyan Satanists and mainstream Wiccans are usually content to say "we have absolutely nothing to with each other" and walk away, but there are actually more connecting points between Satanism and Wicca than one might think.

To start things off, the Church of Satan cannot speak for "Satanism" as a whole any more than Gardner, Sanders, or Cochrane can hold exclusive definition of "Witchcraft". There are many Satanists who do not fit neatly into these categories, and many of them cannot simply be dismissed as "reverse Christians".

The entire notion of a pan-European "witch cult" upon which Wicca was based was derived from medieval accounts of Satanism and witch-sabbats. People like Margaret Murray and Gerald Gardner thought that they could recover an accurate account of "Witchcraft Religion" from these accounts by expurgating the explicitly diabolical bits and filling in the gaps with elements of ritual magic influenced by the Golden Dawn, the OTO, and rennaisance-era grimoires.

In fact, Christians were the first people to actually consider witchcraft a "religion." Before that there was simply a disparate amalgamation of folk religious practices, grimoire magic, and cunning-craft, which had no organization or overreaching ideology. The idea that practitioners of witchcraft were organized into a common cultus was started by witch-hunters to explain how all sorcerers and heretics were ruled by Satan.

Wicca has matured greatly since the sketchy scholarship that inspired it, now having the benefit of modern research, but certain traces still remain. The "fivefold kiss" was a fanciful reinterpretation of the "osculum infame". And the term "sabbat" is still used by Wiccans, even though the word is a corruption of the Jewish "sabbath" used to refer to the Black Mass.

The influence goes both ways. Many modern theistic/spiritual Satanists, in lieu of having an established tradition to draw from, will use Wicca as a template for their own practices. Many Satanists will also call themselves "witches", including the atheistic LaVeyan types. (see the book entitled "The Satanic Witch")

It deserves mention that the morality and ideologies are completely different, but they both draw from the same bucket of myths and rituals, so to speak. And when some Satanists and Wiccans both use "athames" to "cast circles" on "sabbats" to invoke a "horned spirit", the whole "blue is not yellow" argument kind falls apart. A more accurate statement might be "blue is not teal".

I know my whole rant isn't exactly helping simple-minded people who so often get the two confused, but I think the comparison is more nuanced than "Satanism has absolutely nothing to do with Witchcraft whatsoever and that's final".

However, I think we can both agree that O'Donnell's comments were moronic attention-hungry hogwash from a person who thinks that wearing black and listening to hard rock counts as "dabbling in witchcraft".

Balewa said...

LaVeyan Satanists and mainstream Wiccans are usually content to say "we have absolutely nothing to with each other" and walk away, but there are actually more connecting points between Satanism and Wicca than one might think.

To start things off, the Church of Satan cannot speak for "Satanism" as a whole any more than Gardner, Sanders, or Cochrane can hold exclusive definition of "Witchcraft". There are many Satanists who do not fit neatly into these categories, and many of them cannot simply be dismissed as "reverse Christians".

The entire notion of a pan-European "witch cult" upon which Wicca was based was derived from medieval accounts of Satanism and witch-sabbats. People like Margaret Murray and Gerald Gardner thought that they could recover an accurate account of "Witchcraft Religion" from these accounts by expurgating the explicitly diabolical bits and filling in the gaps with elements of ritual magic influenced by the Golden Dawn, the OTO, and rennaisance-era grimoires.

In fact, Christians were the first people to actually consider witchcraft a "religion." Before that there was simply a disparate amalgamation of folk religious practices, grimoire magic, and cunning-craft, which had no organization or overreaching ideology. The idea that practitioners of witchcraft were organized into a common cultus was started by witch-hunters to explain how all sorcerers and heretics were ruled by Satan.

Wicca has matured greatly since the sketchy scholarship that inspired it, now having the benefit of modern research, but certain traces still remain. The "fivefold kiss" was a fanciful reinterpretation of the "osculum infame". And the term "sabbat" is still used by Wiccans, even though the word is a corruption of the Jewish "sabbath" used to refer to the Black Mass.

The influence goes both ways. Many modern theistic/spiritual Satanists, in lieu of having an established tradition to draw from, will use Wicca as a template for their own practices. Many Satanists will also call themselves "witches", including the atheistic LaVeyan types. (see the book entitled "The Satanic Witch")

It deserves mention that the morality and ideologies are completely different, but they both draw from the same bucket of myths and rituals, so to speak. And when some Satanists and Wiccans both use "athames" to "cast circles" on "sabbats" to invoke a "horned spirit", the whole "blue is not yellow" argument kind falls apart. A more accurate statement might be "blue is not teal".

I know my whole rant isn't exactly helping simple-minded people who so often get the two confused, but I think the comparison is more nuanced than "Satanism has absolutely nothing to do with Witchcraft whatsoever and that's final".

However, I think we can both agree that O'Donnell's comments were moronic attention-hungry hogwash from a person who thinks that wearing black and listening to hard rock counts as "dabbling in witchcraft".

Linnea Duff said...

Tracy, thanks for the link. I'm so very glad yours were the last words.

Grey Glamer said...

Hey, I read your article on Witchvox and subsequently wandered over here to the corresponding blog post. I'll have to take a look through some of your other entries, but I thought I might first say Merry Meet! As a Witch who merrily dances along the Left Hand Path - And I certainly don't believe those two things are mutually exclusive! - I very much appreciate the sentiment expressed here. I have friends who are Satanists, and I find them to be amiable people who have my back. That we in the Neopagan community prove so quick to demonize the other, especially after all we've suffered from being ourselves demonized, constitutes one of the great tragedies of Neopaganism today, IMHO. Articles like yours shed some much needed light upon the problem. Bright Blessings!

Tracy ~ The UnOfficial Witch of Ridgewood said...

Well Met, Grey!

Thanks so much!

After hearing so much of the "We're not THEM", commentary, I began thinking about the people I actually know and have met who are Satanists. I felt that, just as I wouldn't want my Path judged based on misconceptions, I felt surely they must feel the same.