I have to give Andrew Bowen credit for being well-meaning. I do think he means well, but Project Conversion just makes me a little nauseous. Maybe I should feel better knowing he’s given the same shallow treatment to other faiths before he hopped onto mine, but I don’t. I think it’s just as insulting to try to be a Jew for a month.
I think we need a Pagan version of Godwin’s Law, perhaps I shall dub it Foster’s Law: when any person attempts to give a shallow overview of any Pagan tradition they will inevitably proclaim we don’t worship Satan, don’t drink blood or don’t sacrifice babies. Because Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists all start off talking about their faith with this disclaimer, right?
Andrew has found himself a mentor, acquired his bling (because we all know bling is essential) and already called up some shit that scared the bejeesus out of him. But that’s ok, because he’s practicing a very laid-back, go-with-the-flow sort of Wicca. An anything goes Wicca, because we make it all up, right?
My Mentor stressed the importance of Wicca’s exploratory nature, that the faith is literally what you make of it. That isn’t to say that you should simply invent what you believe, but only that the foundation of your practice is founded upon your experience. What works, keep. What doesn’t work, toss out. Live. Laugh. Learn. And don’t worry too much about the particulars.
Yup, don’t worry about the particulars. We’re not a real religion, you know. You just make up what feels right. Over 60 odd years of innovation, tradition, theology, training and laws don’t mean squat. You take ‘er easy this month, buddy. A month of being Wiccan will be a piece of cake compared to that whole long month you spent as Jew.
Oh, and don’t worry about the Book of Shadows. Those of us who’ve spent a year or more hand-copying lore and liturgy are not at all offended when you state:
There really is no written tradition as far as the faith is concerned and therefore most of the lore and learning is passed down orally.
The entire grimoire tradition that Wicca is a part of apparently doesn’t exist, but hey when you’re just taking a month to try on someone’s religion, I’m sure you try not to deal with anything too heavy.
And the worst part of this sadly shallow experiment? “I can tell you right now that I fully intend on crushing as many stereotypes as I can this month about Wicca because it’s the only faith thus far that I’ve actually received negative comments about.”
I seriously don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
You know Andrew, I hope you derive some wisdom and benefit from your brief stint as a Wiccan. I’m probably being too hard on you. I realize you mean well and are just taking a reality-tv-esque journey through the practices and ethics of various religions without, you know, getting caught up in icky religious stuff. I shouldn’t let this bother me, but it really does.
You see, I’ve been a Wiccanate Pagan for over a decade, actually went through a conversion process for years, and devoted the last few years to seriously grounding myself in the Wiccan religion. After over a year of study and service in a tradition, I’m about to be initiated this weekend. It’s an ordeal process involving fasting, seclusion and then facing the unknown. Once I’m initiated, I will always be a Witch. There is no un-initiation ceremony. No backsies. I know people who have been Wiccan for decades, people who were raised Wiccan and people who are genuine seekers who will not be well served by your “build an altar and make shit up” approach.
Will your wife leave you because you’re Wiccan?
Will you lose custody of children?
Will your child be reprimanded or discriminated against for being Wiccan?
Will you suddenly find you’ve been dismissed from your job the first day you wear a pentagram to work?
When you go to the grocery store, will it be “pents in” or “pents out”?
Will you sit down with your parents and tell them you’re a Witch?
Will you be threatened with violence, have your property vandalized or have the cops called out because someone falsely reported you were sacrificing children in your backyard?
Nope, you’re only doing this for a month. This is a vacation compared to wearing a turban for you. You’re just regurgitating bad 101 info on Wicca, because we totally lack that on the internet. This is just a bit of Halloween season fluff before you tackle… what, Scientology? Shinto? Maybe even *gasp* Catholicism?
Besides, you’ve already moved on from Wicca to shamanism, which you read about in a book. Not that it makes any difference to you.
So don’t take my being offended too seriously. Don’t think that maybe you’re missing growth opportunities if the “so-called Wiccan Rede” doesn’t work for you, or if the whole concept of the God and Goddess unnerves you. I mean, if it doesn’t work or feel right on first try, you abandon it right? ‘Cause you just do what works for you, what feels right? After all, there’s already another religion around the corner…
P.S. And kudos for finding a Wiccan tradition that’s virtually unknown. Because if you were studying a known Witchcraft tradition, i.e. Dianic, Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Mohsian, Central Valley, Unicorn, Reclaiming, Feri, Ravenwood, Corellian, 1734, Roebuck, Georgian or Blue Star Wicca, or training with Aquarian Tabernacle Church, Church of All Worlds, Circle Sanctuary, N.E.C.T.W., NROOGD, or even Witch School, people might be able to call you on your crap. You might actually be representing a known Wiccan path and have some accountability.