Merry Meet Once Again Family and Friends!
Declaring one's self a Wiccan or Witch doesn't grant carte blanche in terms of acceptance in today's society. And there's a reason for that...
The Wicked Witch of the West! No, not really. The portrayal of the "Wicked Witch" goes as far back as the Bible, but she's a benchmark example of what many of us grew up believing a Witch was supposed to look like and how they were believed to behave. But it doesn't stop there...
Yes, Witches/Wiccans have a fairly substantial stereotype to overcome in order to gain the same acceptance offered freely to other religions.
Mrs. Patrick Stewart fought 10 years simply to have the right to display the pentacle, the symbol of our beliefs, on her husband, Sgt. Patrick Stewart's headstone. Sgt. Stewart was killed in Afganistan. Love your Freedom, Thank a Vet? Mrs. Stewart didn't want thanks. She simply wanted her husband to be honored in the same manner as those who fought and died along side him.
How many of you who practice Wicca or who consider yourselves Witches are actually "open" about your beliefs? Many of us are, but there are far more who aren't. We can't afford to be. And it's not merely a matter of societal pressures, but often, a battle for acceptance that is being fought within our own families as well.
Why? Why does a religion whose basic tenet is, "harm none, do as ye will", have to struggle so hard to gain acceptance? Fear...well, actually fear based on misperceptions. And let's face it, take a good look at some of these images. Why would anyone go out of their way to learn more about what being a modern day Witch actually means, when they have had these images ingrained in their psyches since childhood? Even the most open-minded among us, upon hearing the word, "Witch", conjure up these images, rather than this...
However, if you are a tourist, visiting Salem, Massachusetts, the perception of what a Witch is supposed to look like is exactly what you might expect to see. In Salem, the "Halloween Capital of the World" being a Witch is business. You may not see someone dressed as the stereotypical Witch, but I suspect you'd be disappointed if there weren't those playing the part. In Salem, a city rich in Witchcraft's history, being a Witch is perfectly acceptable. That is not to suggest that there are no actual Witches in Salem.
I absolutely love Salem and all those that work so hard to make it the lovely and magickal place it is!
However, many of us, dare I say, most of us, are not in the business of Witchcraft. Being a Wiccan/Witch is an expression of our spirituality. It's a religious and/or magickal path, not a career path. It's the way in which we connect with and honor our Gods, not pay our mortgages. We reside in average communities, living "mundane" lives, for as much as any Witch can consider their lives "mundane" in the traditional sense of the word. Unlike Salem, for most of us, being a Witch is not a means of promoting tourism or stimulating the economy.
Personally speaking, I don't know if I will ever gain acceptance living in a place where prejudices arise based what side of town you live on or how long you've been a resident. And, I certainly don't expect to see businesses sprouting up because Ridgewood has it's own "UnOfficial Witch"...and I wouldn't want them too.
Wife, Mother, Surgical Coordinator, Reiki Practitioner...Witch! Tourist Attraction...not so much!
In Darkness, Light!