Saturday, January 15, 2011

Witch...are you?

Merry Meet Family and Friends!

There are few things I find quite as distasteful, not to mention embarrassing to the Wiccan/Pagan community, than the use of the word, "Witch" for the sole purpose of its shock value. I'm not referring to the overzealous, adolescent Harry Potter or Charmed fan or even the neophyte, who is filled with passion for their new found path. No, I'm referring to those self-proclaimed "serious" practitioners who toss around the title for no other reason than the anticipated reaction.

More amusing, but no less adolescent, is that these same individuals will often allude to their magickal prowess, offering veiled suggestions as to what they may be capable of, should by word or deed, you happen to bruise their delicate egos.

If this at all sounds too familiar (no pun intended) may I suggest finding a more suitable place to put your broom until you have a better understanding of and more respect for, the Craft....and just to be clear, I'm not referring to the movie.

I'm a Wiccan, specifically British Tradition Gardnerian, who practices Witchcraft...with a little rootwork thrown in for good measure. I consider myself a Witch. However, this is NOT what one learns about me upon first we meet. When discussing my beliefs with anyone whom is not Pagan, but whom I perceive to be open-minded, I prefer to use the term, "Wiccan". It's not that I'm opposed to referring to myself as a "Witch". I've used the word often with great fondness. Unfortunately, at times there is nothing that slams an open mind shut quicker than hearing the word spoken aloud.

I believe that if we are ever going to change the way we are perceived, we first need the opportunity to educate. If someone recoils in fear (or laughter) when you say, "I'm a Witch", chances are they are going to hear very little of what you say afterwards.

Many Wiccans have chosen to drop the word "Witch" when describing themselves simply because of the stigma associated with it. Personally, I see no need to change the way I define myself in order to make others feel more at ease, nor do I feel the need to wield the word like a sword to convince myself of my own abilities. Those who can, do....without unnecessary pretention.

Despite the degree of acceptance the Wiccan religion has attained, there are still people in third World countries being beheaded for the practice of Witchcraft. That's not to suggest that this might actually happen here any time soon, but there's a nut born every minute whose intentions are a lot scarier than anything I might conjure up! Case in point, the Westboro Baptist Church...nuff' said.

The Pagan community has struggled for years to be taken seriously. Every time an article is written, a documentary or horror flick is filmed, whenever someone claiming to be Wiccan or a Witch portrays themselves in an unfavorable light, it reflects on the entire community as a whole.

A truly knowledgeable and proficient occultist doesn't need to play the "Witch" card as a means of control over a bad relationship, to rebel against one's parents or to intimidate their coworkers. This might also include boasting about whom might be on the receiving end of your next Full Moon's spellcasting. In fact, if you've been wielding a "Witch's Blade" anywhere outside a properly cast Circle, I would suggest you find an alternate use for your other magickal tools as well. I hear a cauldron makes a lovely planter.

In Darkness, Light!



Diandra said...

That's something I've mainly found in younger and unhappy people... taking the title of witch as a defense against the world. Most of them grow out of that, fortunately... and the others? Mostly scary people with a loose grip on reality, if you ask me...

I don't keep it secret that I am a witch (not Wicca), but I don't go around advertising, either. Therefore usually by the time people learn that I am a witch, they know I don't slaughter little children or cats. It's the same as with writing novels... showing is better than telling. ^^

Tracy ~ The UnOfficial Witch of Ridgewood said...

Blessings Diandra!

I couldn't agree with you more! If I may add, I believe that some people may feel that insecure in other areas of their lives. Rather than face their issues head on, they play the "Witch" card in order to keep a distance between themselves and those people and issues they perceive as threats.

There had been people in my life, whom I'd known for years, that never knew I was a Witch. I worried, as I'm sure most people do, about their reaction. Thankfully, no one seemed very surprised! :)

IvyandtheGreenEyedCat said...

As you said, Tracy, when people found out you are a Witch, they were seldom surprised. Same here. People who know tend to look at me like, "Yep, makes total sense now...". Lol:) There are others, however benevolent they believe their religious practice is, who you just know will judge you (really harshly) if the magic "W" word is uttered.

Sadly enough, I have had more semi-theological discussions with those types than with more open-minded jewels. To the former, I simply tell them that I believe in practicing the Golden Rule, "treating others as you would have been treated". This usually ends the uncomfortable exchange promptly.

Still, no matter how far we have come as Witches, Wiccans, Pagans, etc, there are still so many closed minds out there just poisoning the collective consciousness.

Tracy ~ The UnOfficial Witch of Ridgewood said...

Merry Morning, Ivy :)

I kind of feel like the Wiccan/Pagan community has reclaimed the word in a positive way. I believe most who see the Craft as just a normal part of their lives, really don't want to see us setback another 400 years!

As I've said, we've come a long way, but it's still not a Path for the faint of heart.

witchesbrew said...

Love this post. I for one don't use the word "witch" around anyone but my husband, as he understands it, and it's meaning. Others do not.

There is a stereo type associated with the word to "non-pagans/wiccans" that just won't go away. Most are stuck on the image of what they think or what comes to mind what a witch is, thanks to mainstream media.LOL

I just don't have the energy to explain myself, and frankly sometimes dont want to. Everyone that knows me, knows that I am an avid herbalist, nature lover etc. And thats god enough for me!

A well written post....Thank you Tracy.


Tracy ~ The UnOfficial Witch of Ridgewood said...

Merry Meet and thank you, Jo!

I have to say that I used to refer to myself as a Witch far more often than I do now. Explaining what that actually means to the general population tends to be a little tedious and at the very least frustrating.

I remember a patient coming into our office. She took one look at my pentacle and said with disgust, "You're Wiccan!?" When I replied that I was, she said, "So you're a Witch?". To which I replied jokingly, "Well, my husband would say so". When she left the office, we happened to be on the elevator together. She was visably frightened. It was obvious that nothing I could have said would have changed her opinion.

If someone asks me, with sincere interest, I will happily discuss the same with them. I don't see any reason however, to make it a point of telling someone just to make them feel uncomfortable or to make an impression.

White Wolf said...

but there's a nut born every minute whose intentions are a lot scarie ... Well you have Sarah Pailin. She may even be elected one day. :-(
I also don't have patience to explain myself. At work people know that I'm an esoteric type that sometimes gives healing herbs to someone who's sick and they usually get better.
As I'm a sales person, I have to be quite discrete about my beliefs.
Otherwise nobody will use the services I'm selling.
Imbolc Blessings.
May the fire of Brigit be in our hearts.

Tracy ~ The UnOfficial Witch of Ridgewood said...

Blessings to you too,Arie!

Recently I considered changing jobs. I've been at this position for 8 years. I realized then that there are benefits to people being aware of my beliefs. I also realized how little acceptance for those whose beliefs are not in the mainstream.

That said, when people toss around their beliefs in an effort to impress or intimidate, it does absolutely nothing to further that acceptance.