I thought for a long time of how to phrase all of this. I figured it should be done and also that it may even be the first link chosen by many who view my blog. That being the case, how do I want to present myself to you on this topic? I want to get across that I’m not hostile. I’m not belligerent. I’m not a know-it-all. I’m not lost. I’m not misled. I’m not simply in denial. I’m not maladjusted or discontent. So, even now as I write this paragraph and decide whether or not to post it, I feel drawn to put up a poem that I wrote several years ago.
This is my original work.
It is copyrighted so please don’t steal it.
This explains a lot of how I feel in this area.
Just to be understood.
Why must there be hate and fear
When all that is needed is “Why?”
You claim to see me,
Claim that I am lost, misguided,
False, misled, wrong.
You who are treading a different path
To the same goal.
My path is not dark,
But lit by a million burning torches;
One for each life taken by those who said:
“You dwell in darkness!”
Was enough light given?
Or do you see darkness only because
Your eyes are closed?
As you read through this blog, I am sure that you will not agree with much of what is said here. I don’t expect you to. I expect that for whatever reasons you have chosen Christianity as your belief you are just as firmly committed to it as I am to mine. I’m not writing this blog to convert anyone. Wiccans (or Pagans in general) do not have the call to witness to others and convert people to our religion that Christians do. The opposite is the case to be honest with you. Many Witches are skeptical of those seeking to study our ways.
The seekers are questioned, tested, and evaluated before the more experienced Witch will say, “Alright, you seem true enough.” In most Traditional Craft training, a minimum of a year’s study is required before the seeker can even consider or be considered for initiation — after which the real lessons, practice, and work begins.
There is no real instantaneous conversion to Wicca that seems to be common among Christians with the, “Just say you believe Christ died for your sins and rose again. Ask him to forgive you of your sins and you’ll be saved. Mean it in your heart and you’ll be one of his followers.”
For Christians it seems that the conversion comes first and then the study. For Witches it’s the opposite. So for us, our beliefs are deeply ingrained and clung to because we’ve really come to understand why we believe this way before we commit to the path.
For the most part, Witches were not raised Wiccan. Most of us have come from Judeo-Christian backgrounds. If not actively practiced, then just the overall culture of being Christian that seems to exist by living in this country. However, Witches seek out understanding and come to this path on their own terms. Sometimes they read about it, ask questions, and may even participate in a gathering or two before moving on and testing the waters of the ‘spiritual pond’ elsewhere. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, they get their feet wet and decide that they want to go deeper, explore further, and make a full commitment to the Craft. There’s nothing wrong with that either but there usually is not another Wiccan around to guide them or mentor them and most don’t find someone else to talk to about this until they’ve been on the path for a while. The old adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” is unbelievably accurate in Witchcraft.
Sometimes children and teenagers become curious about magic and want to explore things that seem hidden, forbidden, and mysterious. Christian friends or family members are concerned by this and that’s understandable. It’s the natural desire to want to protect the other person from what they consider to be dangerous or harmful. However, dealing with a ‘dabbler’ is different than dealing with a committed, serious, full-time Witch or Pagan. If you’re going to share your faith, then it helps to know which type of person you are talking to. Committed Pagans have heard the concerns before and have come to a different conclusion. We know where you’re coming from, and if you are respectful about sharing your thoughts and concerns, then we’ll most likely hear you out for what seems to be the millionth time.
It helps if you’re willing to listen and learn as well though.
Tolerance and understanding are required just to exist peacefully with other people. Tolerance does not mean that you have to agree with the beliefs, it just means that you accept that others have the right to believe as they wish, without harassment or threats or violence.
Christians are compelled and commanded by the tenets of their faith to share it and try to convert or ‘save’ as many people as possible. This is understood. The problem is that Christians, when doing this, most often:
1. Do not ask questions of the person they are trying to convert
2. Do not listen to or understand what answers are given.
Christians do not have to accept the tenets of Witchcraft, but if you want to share your faith, it is important that you at least see Witches how we see ourselves.
- We are not evil.
- We do not worship Satan.
- We do not believe in the concept of Heaven or Hell.
- We do not believe in sin.
- We do not believe that divine forgiveness is necessary for salvation.
- We do not believe the bible to be the one true word of God.
- And NOTHING shuts down effective communication faster than telling the other person what it is they believe.
Christians who only have their own belief on what Witchcraft or Paganism is, and aren’t open to the Witch’s point of view CANNOT express this side to Pagans or Witches and expect it to hold any value to the listener. Why would a Wiccan care what another religion teaches about his or her faith? Would you as a Christian accept a follower of another faith, such as Islam, telling you that Christianity is wrong because it doesn’t follow the teachings of Muhammad?
There is also the fact that history tells different stories and this goes the same way for both sides. Think of it this way, how would you feel as Christians or how do you feel as Christians to hear others say that Christianity is evil? That God doesn’t exist? That the church is just a power-mongering group of money-grubbers who have wanted to control people since the Dark Ages? That they don’t care for women? That they believe in murdering the innocent? They are ignorant of science and what is going on in the real world? Christians have their own dark side to deal with in terms of their religion’s history — ancient and modern. Believe me, in the context of seeking to convert others, this will be brought up. Denying the atrocious actions of the Church and church leaders of the past and present, saying “Well, they weren’t really Christian,” isn’t going to get you very far. All religions have good and bad sides to their histories. Accept that such is true for yours and then move on to what is really important about it.
We are not evil:
Witches generally believe that negative action is not conducive or helpful to living a good, healthy life. Our beliefs do not tell us to maliciously seek to harm other people. Many Witches believe in a kind of Karmic Law. This law states that what you send out will return to you. In modern Witchcraft and Wicca, what is sent is commonly believed to come back three times as powerfully as it was sent out or affecting the initiator on three levels of his/her being: mind, body, spirit. With a belief like this guiding our actions and motivations, there simply isn’t the desire to foolishly inflict harm on others. Who would really want to foolishly or offhandedly harm someone else when they know that they will be responsible and have to accept the full penalty for their actions? This is why we believe that you pay for your wrongs here, in this life, not after you are dead.
We do not worship Satan:
Paganism and Witchcraft grew out of observance of the natural world. Animism – the belief that everything has a spirit within it, is the oldest known form of spiritual understanding. From this, grew the belief that there were powerful supernatural forces shaping and creating our world. These forces were seen as gods and goddesses to ancient man. Religions and cults (a formal religious veneration or system of religious beliefs and ritual — not a psycho-led group of people bent on world domination or mass suicide) grew out of belief in these deities.
Temples were built and rituals were practiced. Different societies saw different elements at work. They gave different names to these forces, but all were very similar in some ways. In the Middle East, what is known among scholars as the ‘Cradle of Civilization’, there were many religions practiced and many gods honored.
Slowly, the belief in multiple gods and goddesses began to give way towards the thought of an all-powerful single deity. Zoroaster (Zarathustra), prophet and founder of the religion Zoroastrianism taught the belief in an all-powerful God — Ahura Mazda and conversely, to balance this, an all-evil Satan figure — Ahriman. Mithraism focused on a singular god-sacrifice figure named Mithra. From these beliefs and practices sweeping across the lands here and carried by the peoples of the ancient world, grew the concepts and beliefs seen later in Judaism and Christianity. Mithras, considered by some to be derivative of Zoroastrianism was popular with Roman soldiers and through them, became popular around the Roman Empire. Also taught was the belief that Mithras spilled the blood of a bull in sacrifice or was himself slain for the cleansing of sin. Later Christians adopted by calling Christ a lamb whose blood sacrifice was performed as a means to be cleansed from sin.
These beliefs developed separately from what Pagans practice today. We have no single all-powerful good god and therefore, have no single powerful all evil being. Pagans do not worship Satan because we don’t believe in Satan. He is a monotheistic concept (a religion that believes only in one god), not a polytheistic one (a religion that believes in multiple gods).
As a side note, the founder of the American Church of Satan didn’t really worship Satan as a ‘god’ being either.
Anton Szandor LaVey, the author of the Satanic Bible, chose instead to focus on what he saw as the inherent carnality present in humankind. The base, animalistic side of people that other sanctified religions chose to deny and suppress, he instead chose to elevate and focus upon. Satan was chosen as a symbol for this thought-form because of what Satan represented. Satan was selfish and sought to elevate himself to be equal with God. LaVey believed likewise, but his past experience with carnivals and musical performances while he grew up, as well as a devotion to things dark and macabre gave him a flair for theatrics. He knew how to grab attention and fed on it.
Are there people out there who do worship or celebrate Satan? Without a doubt. Do they participate in rituals and magic? Quite likely. Are they the same thing as Pagan Witches or Wiccans? No, they are not.
We do not believe in the concept of Heaven or Hell:
The idea of God living in a far-off paradisaical world is not singular to the monotheistic beliefs. To ancient man, who didn’t have the skills to fly or see high into the sky, the distant realm of the heavens seemed like a believable place for deities to dwell. To the Greeks, there was Mount Olympus. To the Norse, Asgard. Likewise, there was an Underworld or Otherworld where the deceased go when they finished their life on earth. There are the Elysian Fields and Tartarus from Greco-Roman history. There are Valhalla and Niflheim to the Vikings, and Tir na n’Og for the Celts.
These are lands where the spirits of those departed may go to their ancestors and either celebrate or dwell in sorrow. So, with Paganism, we have no need of the Christian version of Heaven and Hell. We have a rich, diverse, and complete set of beliefs of our own to draw from when discussing the afterlife.
We do not believe in Sin/We do not believe that divine forgiveness is necessary for salvation:
The concept of sin is evil or actions that separate man from being one with God. Witches do not believe that our actions separate us from a connection with the Divine. Doing wrong in this lifetime means you will receive like action back to you in this lifetime. If you commit a wrong to someone, it is for you to seek their forgiveness, not the forgiveness of a god who had nothing to do with it. Whether or not you get the person’s forgiveness for what you did is up to you and them. Either way, there is no avoiding the consequences that will come.
We don’t believe in a spiritual band-aid that if you ask God to forgive you, all will be well, no matter what you did. There is a strong belief instead in self-discipline and self-perseverance. Whatever you do, good or bad, will come back to you. If you believe that an action is justified and you perform it, be prepared to accept the full consequences for your actions. Period.
There is no concept of Salvation or being saved from sin in the Wiccan mindset. What are you going to be saved from? Your own faults? Your own wrongs? Your mistakes? Why not just step up and say, “I did it. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I accept the consequences for my actions.”? That part is too often left out of the concept of repentance.
To many Witches, the idea of divine forgiveness of sins is laughable. It’s a cop-out. It’s a way of saying that it’s alright for you to do whatever you want because God will forgive you if you ask him and then, your conscience will be clear and your place in a blissful afterlife will be reassured. Personally I don’t agree with this because I find much fault with this ideology. Where is the self-responsibility in this? Where are you held accountable? If it is only fear that if you do wrong, you’ll die before you get the chance to ask forgiveness that exists keeping you on the ‘straight-and-narrow’, that’s not a belief system… it’s an excuse.
Witches do not accept the idea of someone else dying for our wrongs. We suffer or are rewarded according to our own actions.
We do not believe the bible to be the one true “word of God”:
Our religion didn’t come about because someone was inspired and began teaching it. Sure, Gerald Gardner came out and shared a structured system for Wicca, but the beliefs that he held were existent long before he helped put a name on them.
In ancient times, Pagans were for the most part illiterate. They were simple folk. The term Pagan originally meant “from the country” and is derived from the Latin word paganus,which meant civilian or country dweller.
When Constantine converted the Roman Empire to Christianity, most of the educated, religious, Christian folk dwelt in the cities. Calling someone a Pagan meant about the same thing as calling someone a ‘hick’ or ‘hillbilly’. Heathen is the same way. It is Germanic/Old English in origin and means someone who came from the heaths, the fields, the countryside.
Pagans see our ‘Word of God’ in the air, the fields, the streams, the rocks, the clouds. We take our teachings from the natural world through what is evidenced by experience and divine interaction in our everyday lives. We do not take the teachings of a singular male god to be the true path to the divine. It is one of many. The bible is seen as a history book, a book of religious teachings, and a guideline for those who follow its religion.
Basically quoting the bible to a Pagan to convince them that it is true has about the same validity as quoting the Koran to Christians as the word of God.
Really try to think about and understand this: do you accept that another book or teaching is right because the followers of that religion tell you it is?
Do you agree that they are correct, and that you are practicing a false or incorrect path of life because they told you that their book says you should believe this way?
Of course you say it’s the Word of God. If you didn’t, if you said, “Well, this is just a suggestion. This isn’t really the Word of God or his instructions.” would you believe it? Outside of the Judeo-Christian faith, the bible is just another religious book. It should be respected as such, and most Pagans do. But it isn’t our religious book.
Overall, I can see how this would be very frustrating to Christians who I believe in their hearts, really want to see people achieve happiness and salvation. But belief can’t be forced. Conversion can’t be shoved onto someone and unless the person comes to it on their own terms and in their own mind and soul, it just isn’t real.
Pagans don’t accept the bible as the infallible ‘word of god’. Pagans don’t accept that Christ was a god-man who died for the forgiveness of sin. Pagans don’t accept that it is only through belief in that particular path that happiness and salvation from eternal torture after death can be reached.
What we do accept is that it is what YOU believe and we wish you all the best, with no ill will, with no deep-seated need to tell you that you are wrong, and with the hope that your religion/faith/belief helps you to become a happy, fulfilled, worthwhile person for following it.
Just as our chosen beliefs do for us.
May you walk in light, in love, and with an abundance of blessings.