Wrong Things I Sometimes Read About Wicca

There are a lot of people out there with some seriously strange ideas about Wiccan Witchcraft, and by extension what Wiccans think, believe, and practice. I came across a few of them last night and they were just so over the top that I had to share them here.

I’m sure the individual who made the following statements (more like accusations) had his heart in the right place, who knows, he might have even experienced some of these things, but to think all Wiccans believe the following things . . . . . Wicca is also a really diverse term these days, with initiatory traditions, eclectic covens, solitary practitioners, and a lot of everything else. Making blanket judgements of the entire Wiccan community is like saying “all Christians hate us.” (They don’t by the way.)

Statue at the Chalice Well in Glastonbury England.
Statue at the Chalice Well in Glastonbury England.

You claim to be of ancient Celtic origin yet your movement only goes back to a questionable character named Gerald Gardner from the 1950’s.

Who is making that claim today? I’ll admit that up until the 1990’s most “scholarship” directed at Pagan audiences was pretty bad, but that was twenty years ago and things have changed considerably since then. Yes, many decades ago there were some people who believed that Wicca was in some way related to Celtic faiths of the past, almost nobody believes that today. At one point a majority of people thought the Earth was flat too, things change.

In 1999 a little book came out called Triumph of the Moon, and it shed light on Wicca’s origins, and people nodded and began to go “oh, perhaps we had it wrong.” And let me add, that no one was intentionally trying to mislead anyone twenty-five years ago. People legitimately thought Wicca was old, because that’s what they had read and that’s what they’d been taught. I think I read once that it takes about 30 years for scholarly information to get picked up on, in the Pagan Community we’ve been much faster than that, though it still takes a little while.

And Gerald Gardner is a questionable character? He was undoubtedly a real guy, there’s no questioning his existence as an historical personage. Oh, you don’t like Gerald? You don’t have to, but whatever you think of Gerald you have to give him credit for working tirelessly the last 15 years of his life to promote Witchcraft (and by extension, Modern Paganism). He revealed or created (and it doesn’t really matter either way) a spiritual-magickal system that has worked for thousands, perhaps millions of people over the last seventy years. There’s no questioning that.

Gerald display at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle England.
Gerald display at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle England.

2. You claim everyone’s deities are merely faces of your singular deity, this makes you monotheists and certainly breaks with the beliefs of our pagan forbearers.

We do? I don’t know any Wiccans who go around and define other people’s deities for them, not a one. And when it comes to belief in deity, Wiccans are all over the board. I know some who are committed polytheists, and others who might be considered duotheists, and some who are animists, and a lot of them who are soft polytheists.

And I love how people think they know exactly how all the ancient pagans worshipped and believed in deity. Just like Pagans today, our ancient ancestors had a variety of beliefs, all you’ve got to read is a few passages from the Golden Ass (from the last second centure CE) and that becomes clear:

“I am she that is the naturall mother of all things, mistresse and governesse of all the Elements, the initiall progeny of worlds, chiefe of powers divine, Queene of heaven! the principall of the Gods celestiall, the light of the goddesses: at my will the planets of the ayre, the wholesome winds of the Seas, and the silences of hell be diposed; my name, my divinity is adored throughout all the world in divers manners, in variable customes and in many names, for the Phrygians call me the mother of the Gods: the Athenians, Minerva: the Cyprians, Venus: the Candians, Diana: the Sicilians Proserpina: the Eleusians, Ceres: some Juno, other Bellona, other Hecate: and principally the Aethiopians which dwell in the Orient, and the Aegyptians which are excellent in all kind of ancient doctrine, and by their proper ceremonies accustome to worship mee, doe call mee Queene Isis.”
-From The Golden Ass by Lucius Apuleius, translated by William Adlington in 1566, hence the wonky spelling.

As for me I’m a pretty committed soft polytheist, who recognizes deities as distinct entities, though I also think they could be related in some way. They are gods, I’m a mortal, I don’t think I’m supposed to know they work. I’ve written about this pretty extensively in the past.

More from that Museum in Boscastle, I'll also admit that this is how I sometimes see Rachel Patterson who writes the wonderful blog, Beneath the Moon.  (Though I picture Rachel much younger.)
More from that Museum in Boscastle, I’ll also admit that this is how I sometimes see Rachel Patterson who writes the wonderful blog, Beneath the Moon. (Though I picture Rachel much younger.)

3. You also claim your singular goddess is simply a symbol of nature, thus making you atheists and causing a further divide between yourselves and traditional religious beliefs.

I do? Perhaps you’ve met someone who has these thoughts, but it’s best not to paint with such broad strokes, because I don’t think they are typical. Are there some Atheist Wiccans? Absolutely, and I’m sure they look at the idea of the Goddess as a symbol of nature, but that’s not all of them. One of Wicca’s central ceremonies is called drawing down the moon, and it’s about having a goddess inside the body of a mortal person. (Sorry, for the bold lettering, but don’t tell me what I believe when you don’t seem to know anything about Wicca.) Does that sounds like atheism to you? Does it sound like simply a symbol of nature?

Wicca has always probably been best defined by its ritual and not its theology, and I get that some people aren’t comfortable with that. Sometimes we want quick answers or a concrete explanations, but that’s not how Wicca works for lots fo people. Wicca is an experiential spirituality, and each individual is going to experience the divine differently. As a High Priest my job is to create a container that lends its self to experiencing the mysteries. I don’t define those mysteries, and I don’t know any other Wiccans who do either. All I know is how I experienced them, other experiences will vary of course.

4. You are insistent that you possess magical powers and abilities similar to Harry Potter and other fictional characters yet you decline to demonstrate these abilities. Big claims must by nature require big proof…

Declarations spouted in absolutes also require a bit of proof. Yes, I, or perhaps all Wiccans, believe that we’ve attended Hogwarts. Rubbish. I was a Witch long before Harry Potter, and I’ve never read a book suggesting that the magick utlized in Wiccan-Witchcraft promises such fanciful ideas.

Are there people who probably claim such things? I’m sure, lots of people make all sorts of strange claims, but I’ve never met any sort of experienced practitioner who claimed to be able to shoot a protronos (did I get that right?) from their wand. In fact every book I read as Witchling suggested the exact opposite.

As for me, I know that my magick works. My wife and I have a pretty awesome life. It’s not always perfect, but it’s damn good.

Are there bad Wiccans out there who say stupid things? Absolutely. Are there bad books out there suggesting things that can’t be proven, or even worse, are completely ridiculous? Sure, but there are less of them each year. I realize that bashing Wicca is popular in a lot of Pagan circles these days, but most Wiccans are pretty good folks, just trying to do the best they can.

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