Recently someone online referred to me as “Wiccan Trash.” It’s not something that should bother me, but two weeks after it happened I’m still thinking about it, so obviously it did. I realize it was just one person, but it was just such a nasty sounding thing to say that its stuck with me. I don’t know if the comment was just about me personally, or about my entire tradition, either way I think it reflects poorly on individuals who think in such a way.
Are we all ever going to completely agree on everything? Of course not. Are we all going to get along one day? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean we have to be silly and ignorant about certain things.
WE DON’T HAVE TO LIKE OTHER TRADITIONS, BUT WHAT GOOD DOES IT DO TO MOCK THEM?
I often joke that I don’t like Druid ritual, and some of my Druid friends often like to tell me why they left Wicca, but we aren’t antagonistic towards each others traditions. There’s a place for discussions about why some of us like certain things, and some of us don’t. But just because I don’t like Druid ritual doesn’t mean I don’t like Druids, or Druidry, or certain Druid orders. It just doesn’t work for me for whatever reason, and Wicca as I practice it doesn’t work for certain people either, but who gives a shit?
The only reasons I can see for calling a legitimate traditions like Wicca, Re-constructionism, Druidry, and Thelema trash is that the one doing the name calling is insecure about their own tradition. Perhaps the only energy or power they can generate is from mocking the beliefs of others. It might also be the only way they get any attention, I don’t know. All I do know is that it doesn’t make anything better, doesn’t convey any sort of real idea or thought, and makes the individuals who say such things look like bratty children.
WE’VE ALL BENEFITTED FROM OTHER TRADITIONS
One of the things that amuses me to no end about the people who love to say things like “Wiccan Trash” is just how influential Wicca has been on the Pagan Community as a whole. Wicca was the first long-lasting Modern Paganism, and as a result it opened a lot of other doors. I think it’s safe to say that there are a lot of Pagan traditions that wouldn’t exist today (or would exist in a much different form) without Wiccan-Witchcraft. I’ve had some good laughs over the years due to some Wicca-haters who actively use ideas from Wicca.
But I’m not here just to write about my tradition, because the Wicca I practice has been shaped in great and grand ways by other Modern Paganisms. Re-constructionists and Devotional Polytheists and all of their attention to detail have brought me closer than ever before to many of the deities I honor in my practice. I’m not a Traditional Witch, but I’ve danced the Witches Mill and have been influenced by the writings and ideas of people like Gemma Gary, Robert Cochrane, and Michael Howard. I’m not a Druid, but there are some fine scholars out there in Druid land that have contributed to what I know about magick and spirituality.
I get it when people tell me how terrible Wicca is because they went to an open public ritual and it was subpar. Public ritual is hard to do, and it’s a skill-set I think we are still learning as a community. However, I’ve never believed that Wicca was designed for rituals of 60 people. It can be done, and it can be done well, but it’s not really representative of how most people practice. I’m guessing that most people practice with small groups, and many more practice completely alone, and that those rituals are powerful and work for the people involved.
There are a lot of really great magicians in the OTO, and I know I’ve never seen their best work. I’m not in the OTO and I’m not an initiate of the OTO. I’ve been to some public OTO rituals and I realize those only scratch the surface of what the order is capable of presenting. I wish more people got that about Wicca.
And how many Wiccan covens and traditions are there? Throwing all of Wicca under the bus just feels lazy. Again, no one has to like it, do it, practice it, or whatever, but to dismiss every Wiccan and all that goes along with it is childish.
THERE ARE REASONS TO DISMISS SOME TRADITIONS, NO ONE I KNOW PRACTICES ANY OF THOSE
Not every tradition shits rainbows, and we shouldn’t blindly accept everything that tries to gather under the Pagan umbrella, but most Pagans I know (and their traditions) are full of good ideas, intentions, and people. That doesn’t mean every person or every idea is perfect or even good, but one bad egg is not enough for me to dismiss an entire tradition.
I feel blessed that no one I know is a part of a trash tradition (though there are people I personally dislike in some traditions-that’s a different thing!), but there are bad traditions out there. In fact I think it’s safe to say a tradition is trash if . . .
-It promotes racism, homophobia, or transphobia, and does not value human life.
And I realize there are some groups who try to gather under the Pagan umbrella who do such things, luckily the rest of us tend to push them out.
LET’S HAVE PRODUCTIVE CONVERSATIONS
Have a problem with a tradition or a person? Let’s have a productive conversation about it instead of the alternative. We aren’t all always going to agree, and that’s fine. But disagreements don’t have to be personal, and they don’t have to be accompanied by venom or malice.
If someone truly believes that Wicca is trash I’d be interested in hearing why, though starting a conversation with “your tradition is trash” may not be a good starting point. There’s a lot of animosity between certain Traditional Witches and many Wiccan-Witches, but some of my absolute favorite people are Traditional Witches and we have productive conversations about the things that are contentious. We don’t have to practice the same way, but we all should try and be decent to one another.