Don’t Worry, Wicca Isn’t A Real Religion (A Rant)

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.

This is not the "written tradition" you are looking for... *Jedi hand wave* Foto: Midnightblueowl

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.

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    Normally I would never use scatological language, but it felt right here. My apologies.

    “Profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.” – Mark Twain, a Biography

    • Technoshaman

      Hey, if it’s crap, call it crap.  And I think you just did call him on his crap, good for you!  

      I learned the hard way that people don’t like it when you call them on their crap.  Especially when it has to do with their religion.  But dammit, somebody has to!  I wish you all success in continuing to do so.

      • http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/ Freeman

        There are better ways to do it, though. My years playing Fluffyfinder General all over the ‘Net taught me that discussions of what a Fascist Meanie Poopoo-Head I am eventually get quite old.

        But, if you enjoy the ride, then buy the T-shirt (http://www.cafepress.com/fmph/) and argue on.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Normally I would never use scatological language, but it felt right here. My apologies.

    “Profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.” – Mark Twain, a Biography

    • Technoshaman

      Hey, if it’s crap, call it crap.  And I think you just did call him on his crap, good for you!  

      I learned the hard way that people don’t like it when you call them on their crap.  Especially when it has to do with their religion.  But dammit, somebody has to!  I wish you all success in continuing to do so.

      • http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/ Freeman

        There are better ways to do it, though. My years playing Fluffyfinder General all over the ‘Net taught me that discussions of what a Fascist Meanie Poopoo-Head I am eventually get quite old.

        But, if you enjoy the ride, then buy the T-shirt (http://www.cafepress.com/fmph/) and argue on.

  • Crystal Blanton

    Thanks for your voice in this. I think we have enough already out there that works to invalidate our path and we don’t need more. I wonder sometimes how we will be able to validate the many paths of Wicca in mainstream but especially internally in our community. There is such a divide between traditional Wiccan traditions and those that are newer reads or more eclectic.

    So while I am in agreement with so much, it is also hard to think that some traditions would have made it better because theyigjt be better known or more traditional. I think this is one of the reasons our religion is so hard to define.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      That’s a problem a lot of religions have. We know Christianity by it’s defined and organized traditions, not by folks who just believe Jesus loves them in their heart but don’t attend church or take all the bible stuff seriously.

      • Amanda

        WHY does it need to be validated? and who says something is validated? if it is in your mind isn’t that what really counts?

        • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

          Hallucinations are also in your mind. Experience does sometimes require external validation. If you really really think you can fly and you leap off a cliff, the ground will still be there when you hit, regardless of what’s in your mind.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kagilleland Kristi A Gilleland

            Maybe your mind doesn’t necessarily hit.  Or maybe it’s awareness of the ground that keeps you from flying.

    • Bookhousegal

      I do think part of the issue here is that the more serious/traditional the trad, the less likely they are to feel that one can ‘do it for a month’  and actually get the point.  

      There’s some talk of the ‘Stick with what works’ way of learning, and that of course,  requires accumulating a lot of *experience* before really thinking one understands and can try to  represent. 

      I actually think popular Wiccan-type Paganism is not a bad choice to try and represent a lot of contemporary Pagans, precisely because it does influence and be influenced by so many of our other diverse trads:  the problem is of course that line between ‘eclectic’  and ‘fluffy’  that even in the community isn’t always well-agreed on. 

      Star’s obviously been working hard for a long time toward a tradition and initiation,  and one can understand being irked at someone just coming along and very publicly if hopefully well-intentionedly messing-around.  Especially during the media-circus season, when we’re not exactly short on shallow treatments of one of our most sacred times, when of course, the ‘spooky’  factor’s played up enough.  I think I’d have nominated one of the earlier harvest festivals for this project: much more representative, I think,  of what we’re about year round. 
      Part of the difficulty of associating us with Samhain is that one can’t really see much past those popular associations about others’ views of ‘death’  …if one doesn’t spend time with how we view *life,* so to speak.   That’s part of why it takes at least a year, traditionally, or by experience.   And why we speak of paths, not ‘creeds.’ 

  • Crystal Blanton

    Thanks for your voice in this. I think we have enough already out there that works to invalidate our path and we don’t need more. I wonder sometimes how we will be able to validate the many paths of Wicca in mainstream but especially internally in our community. There is such a divide between traditional Wiccan traditions and those that are newer reads or more eclectic.

    So while I am in agreement with so much, it is also hard to think that some traditions would have made it better because theyigjt be better known or more traditional. I think this is one of the reasons our religion is so hard to define.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      That’s a problem a lot of religions have. We know Christianity by it’s defined and organized traditions, not by folks who just believe Jesus loves them in their heart but don’t attend church or take all the bible stuff seriously.

      • Amanda

        WHY does it need to be validated? and who says something is validated? if it is in your mind isn’t that what really counts?

        • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

          Hallucinations are also in your mind. Experience does sometimes require external validation. If you really really think you can fly and you leap off a cliff, the ground will still be there when you hit, regardless of what’s in your mind.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kagilleland Kristi A Gilleland

            Maybe your mind doesn’t necessarily hit.  Or maybe it’s awareness of the ground that keeps you from flying.

    • Bookhousegal

      I do think part of the issue here is that the more serious/traditional the trad, the less likely they are to feel that one can ‘do it for a month’  and actually get the point.  

      There’s some talk of the ‘Stick with what works’ way of learning, and that of course,  requires accumulating a lot of *experience* before really thinking one understands and can try to  represent. 

      I actually think popular Wiccan-type Paganism is not a bad choice to try and represent a lot of contemporary Pagans, precisely because it does influence and be influenced by so many of our other diverse trads:  the problem is of course that line between ‘eclectic’  and ‘fluffy’  that even in the community isn’t always well-agreed on. 

      Star’s obviously been working hard for a long time toward a tradition and initiation,  and one can understand being irked at someone just coming along and very publicly if hopefully well-intentionedly messing-around.  Especially during the media-circus season, when we’re not exactly short on shallow treatments of one of our most sacred times, when of course, the ‘spooky’  factor’s played up enough.  I think I’d have nominated one of the earlier harvest festivals for this project: much more representative, I think,  of what we’re about year round. 
      Part of the difficulty of associating us with Samhain is that one can’t really see much past those popular associations about others’ views of ‘death’  …if one doesn’t spend time with how we view *life,* so to speak.   That’s part of why it takes at least a year, traditionally, or by experience.   And why we speak of paths, not ‘creeds.’ 

  • Kourtney Leaf

    I must say, I wasn’t impressed with his first entry and was a little astonished that he chose the Fey Tradition… because as you pointed out, there are better known traditions to choose from if he really wanted to learn and/or make a difference in perception.  but I decided to follow anyway, as I hope others will, to correct him on his wrongs, bring a new light to some of things he thinks he’s finding, and maybe educate his ‘congregation’ further. Congregation… that totally made me giggle… as if he were that important… Anyway… I guess I’m taking the wait and see approach… But you made excellent points and I think I may have to revisit his posting… 

    Blessings,
    Kourtney

  • Guest

    I must say, I wasn’t impressed with his first entry and was a little astonished that he chose the Fey Tradition… because as you pointed out, there are better known traditions to choose from if he really wanted to learn and/or make a difference in perception.  but I decided to follow anyway, as I hope others will, to correct him on his wrongs, bring a new light to some of things he thinks he’s finding, and maybe educate his ‘congregation’ further. Congregation… that totally made me giggle… as if he were that important… Anyway… I guess I’m taking the wait and see approach… But you made excellent points and I think I may have to revisit his posting… 

    Blessings,

  • Deorling

    Not to be the devil’s advocate, but regarding part of what he said:

    “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.”

    I see it too often from people starting to explore the Wiccan faith. Usually they are not initiated and sometimes claim to be solitary eclectics. They use the internet as a form of banding together (see TumblrCoven) and this is the advice that they give out to those that seek them. I am not Wiccan, but I think those that believe you must be initiated in order to be Wiccan want to clearly avoid.

    But clearly, one’s misunderstanding from one source should never be the end all (which is sad due to his honest research on all paths) but I think the mentor might be to blame on this one for not being so clear?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1660295318 Carol King Monahan

      Hi; I’d just like to say that I am a practitioner of solitary eclectic witchcraft for 30 plus years. I do not use the internet as a form of banding together. I’ve never heard of TumblrCoven. I am self initiated which is just as valid as the traditions mentioned by Star. Anyway when I started practicing way back when I practiced Witchcraft not Wicca, but that’s OK. We are all sisters & brothers. I still do practice witchcraft. And Star’s rant was wonderful. Blessed Be

  • Deorling

    Not to be the devil’s advocate, but regarding part of what he said:

    “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.”

    I see it too often from people starting to explore the Wiccan faith. Usually they are not initiated and sometimes claim to be solitary eclectics. They use the internet as a form of banding together (see TumblrCoven) and this is the advice that they give out to those that seek them. I am not Wiccan, but I think those that believe you must be initiated in order to be Wiccan want to clearly avoid.

    But clearly, one’s misunderstanding from one source should never be the end all (which is sad due to his honest research on all paths) but I think the mentor might be to blame on this one for not being so clear?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1660295318 Carol King Monahan

      Hi; I’d just like to say that I am a practitioner of solitary eclectic witchcraft for 30 plus years. I do not use the internet as a form of banding together. I’ve never heard of TumblrCoven. I am self initiated which is just as valid as the traditions mentioned by Star. Anyway when I started practicing way back when I practiced Witchcraft not Wicca, but that’s OK. We are all sisters & brothers. I still do practice witchcraft. And Star’s rant was wonderful. Blessed Be

  • Stephani_penningto

    Star
    Wow love it! One month of Wicca is probably about as stupid as saying I took one course in college let me represent u in a trial for murder or something.
    Steph

  • Stephani_penningto

    Star
    Wow love it! One month of Wicca is probably about as stupid as saying I took one course in college let me represent u in a trial for murder or something.
    Steph

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mandy-Wells/1434862170 Mandy Wells

    Sadly, one of the pitfalls of the internet, is that anyone can claim to be anything.  I’m very tired of the uniformed putting themselves out there as experts and claiming to speak for the majority of Pagans (a thing I don’t think exists).

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      The pope certainly doesn’t accurately represent the views of all Catholics.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FCM62LRWJYSJZAWCXGUA62L7B4 nothing

        Unfortunately the Pope is the end all be all and if you are Catholic and disagree with the Pope you are excommunicated, which makes you no longer a Catholic. I asked my brother who is a RC Priest for clarification to make sure I had it right…. (for example if you are pro choice and your priest knows you are pro choice he is supposed to keep you from receiving communion or any other sacrament.) One of the reasons I became Wiccan….personally I’d like to have a say in what I believe or not believe, not have it dictated to me. Blessings on your Initiation. 

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          One has to do a bit more than disagree with the Pope to get excommunicated.  (If that wasn’t true, there wouldn’t be many Roman Catholics left.)  One has to commit an actual sin.  Unfortunately you are right in that some bishops and priests do consider being pro-choice to qualify for denial of the sacraments.

          And you never become no longer a Catholic, because the assumption in excommunication is that one will repent and be brought back into full communion.  After all, individuals who are excommunicate are *encouraged* to attend Mass (but not receive communion) in hopes that they will be (literally) inspired to repent.

      • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

        Technically, no, but as one who grew up Catholic, by Catholic tenants, the Pope represents what all Catholics should believe, and believing things that the Pope is explicitly against will give reason for the church to call one’s Catholicism into question.  While also true that many priests, especially in North Amerika and Europe outside The Vatican are actually pretty lax about denial of communion and excommunication these days, technically they would be right to do so.

        So yes, the Pope, literally “God’s mouthpiece on Earth” as described in Catholicism, accurately represents the beliefs of all Good Catholics, as outlined by the tenants of Catholicism.  This is not a fallacy, this is the belief one literally signs up for when entering or converting to Catholicism.  In fact, so integral is this standard of Catholicism that people who were proudly Catholic during the time of John Paul II have found themselves leaving Catholicism for Anglican/Episcopal churches; most famous example that comes immediately to mind would be writer PZ Brite.  The Pope is Catholicism’s Gold Standard, and while you can toss a pebble and hit a Catholic who doesn’t meet those standards, that doesn’t mean that the Catholic church doesn’t expect hi/r to try harder to meet them.

        Your simplified analogy to the Pope’s relationship with Catholicism ultimately fails here.  It would be more accurate to say that Tony Blair doesn’t accurately represent the beliefs of all Catholics.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          So Catholics don’t use birth control? Because it’s my understanding that most Catholics don’t agree with the church’s prohibition of birth control. Ergo, the pope doesn’t accurately reflect the views of all Catholics.

          • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

            What individual Catholics do and what the Vatican says Good Catholics Are Supposed To Do aren’t necessarily one in the same — and considering the town I went to high school in was about 50% Catholic and maybe a third of all girls in any given graduating class drop out or stay back a year due to pregnancy, I’d hardly say “most Catholics” disagree with their religion’s official stance on contraception.  You can bring up anecdotal cases of individual Catholics all you want, but see, the thing is, Roman Catholicism is an organised religion with a governing body that has the Pope as its head, not its figurehead as you seem hell-bent on portraying him as.  Hell, technically about 3/4 of the people in Venezuela’s syncretic cult of Maria Lionza consider themselves Catholic, but those who are known by local priests and bishops to be a part of the Maria Lionza religion are denied communion because Maria Lionza is not an approved part of Catholicism and it’s considered a heresy by Catholicism to be a part of that religion alongside Catholicism.  Sure, they may consider themselves “Catholic”, but “Catholic” as defined by its governing body of Catholicism means not just confirmed as Catholic, but able to receive communion — kinda like how traditional Wicca considers Popular/Eclectic Wicca either “Wiccanate paganism” or simply “not Wicca” because it’s clearly lacking some key elements of traditional Wicca paths.  Sure, I guess I can consider myself a delicious bowl of fruit salad if I want to, even splash on some pineapple juice and put a cherry on top, but that doesn’t really make me any less made of meat, not fruit.

            Like I said, you can throw a pebble in any direction and hit a Catholic who does or says or believes things that are out of line with the official decrees of what a proper Catholic should say or do or believe.  Technically, a lot of those transgressions would probably be grounds for excommunication if so many priests in North Amerika weren’t more interested in PR than the fundamentals of their religion.  The bottom line is that Catholicism is a religion with a lot of hard-and-fast rules, and that within the very tenants of Catholicism, those rules are not things that you can cherry-pick and still expect to be considered a “good Catholic” by its governing body; just because it’s possible that most Catholics are not Good Catholics doesn’t mean that there ceases to be a definition of Good Catholic.  It’s not like most pagan religions, where there are few, if any, hard-and-fast rules of morality but instead loosely defined ethics.

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          I think you are confusing the role of the pope and the magisterium in the Roman Catholic Church.

          from Wikipedia:
          According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.”[2]

          Many people–including many Roman Catholics–have the mistaken impression that everything that the pope says is considered to be infallible.  However the doctrine of papal infallibility “was defined at the First Vatican Council in 1870, although belief in this doctrine long pre-dated this council.[3]”  The only explicit instances of papal infallibility have been the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Assumption of Mary, both of which were believed by many Catholics before they were officially defined by popes.What’s more, Roman Catholic theologians are expected to explore multiple theological positions with no particular concern for the pope’s personal opinion on the subject. As for the birth control issue, the magisterium–including the pope–have issued multiple specific statements that birth control is sinful.  So those Catholics who use birth control could appropriately be denied the sacraments.As a side note, the Roman Church, like all religions, has tenets, not tenants.

          • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

            As a side note, the Roman Church, like all religions, has tenets, not tenants.

            Good call — but for the record, the Collingwood Art Center in Toledo, Ohio, was a convent until the nuns fell back on their rent, so clearly there are Catholic tenants. ;-)

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            No one, including Star, is claiming that Catholicism is not a hierarchical tradition.  You were criticizing Star for misrepresenting the role of the pope in the Roman Church, but were also misrepresenting it–in the opposite direction. 

          • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

            I’m really not.  There’s a reason there will never be an Amerikan Pope, and it’s got a lot to do with the fact that Amerikans routinely downplay and ignore the importance of the papacy.  But hey, if the Vatican enforced excommunication of all Amerikan self-identified “Catholics”, then the Vatican would be out of a MAJOR source of income.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mandy-Wells/1434862170 Mandy Wells

    Sadly, one of the pitfalls of the internet, is that anyone can claim to be anything.  I’m very tired of the uniformed putting themselves out there as experts and claiming to speak for the majority of Pagans (a thing I don’t think exists).

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      The pope certainly doesn’t accurately represent the views of all Catholics.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FCM62LRWJYSJZAWCXGUA62L7B4 nothing

        Unfortunately the Pope is the end all be all and if you are Catholic and disagree with the Pope you are excommunicated, which makes you no longer a Catholic. I asked my brother who is a RC Priest for clarification to make sure I had it right…. (for example if you are pro choice and your priest knows you are pro choice he is supposed to keep you from receiving communion or any other sacrament.) One of the reasons I became Wiccan….personally I’d like to have a say in what I believe or not believe, not have it dictated to me. Blessings on your Initiation. 

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          One has to do a bit more than disagree with the Pope to get excommunicated.  (If that wasn’t true, there wouldn’t be many Roman Catholics left.)  One has to commit an actual sin.  Unfortunately you are right in that some bishops and priests do consider being pro-choice to qualify for denial of the sacraments.

          And you never become no longer a Catholic, because the assumption in excommunication is that one will repent and be brought back into full communion.  After all, individuals who are excommunicate are *encouraged* to attend Mass (but not receive communion) in hopes that they will be (literally) inspired to repent.

      • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

        Technically, no, but as one who grew up Catholic, by Catholic tenants, the Pope represents what all Catholics should believe, and believing things that the Pope is explicitly against will give reason for the church to call one’s Catholicism into question.  While also true that many priests, especially in North Amerika and Europe outside The Vatican are actually pretty lax about denial of communion and excommunication these days, technically they would be right to do so.

        So yes, the Pope, literally “God’s mouthpiece on Earth” as described in Catholicism, accurately represents the beliefs of all Good Catholics, as outlined by the tenants of Catholicism.  This is not a fallacy, this is the belief one literally signs up for when entering or converting to Catholicism.  In fact, so integral is this standard of Catholicism that people who were proudly Catholic during the time of John Paul II have found themselves leaving Catholicism for Anglican/Episcopal churches; most famous example that comes immediately to mind would be writer PZ Brite.  The Pope is Catholicism’s Gold Standard, and while you can toss a pebble and hit a Catholic who doesn’t meet those standards, that doesn’t mean that the Catholic church doesn’t expect hi/r to try harder to meet them.

        Your simplified analogy to the Pope’s relationship with Catholicism ultimately fails here.  It would be more accurate to say that Tony Blair doesn’t accurately represent the beliefs of all Catholics.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          So Catholics don’t use birth control? Because it’s my understanding that most Catholics don’t agree with the church’s prohibition of birth control. Ergo, the pope doesn’t accurately reflect the views of all Catholics.

          • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            What individual Catholics do and what the Vatican says Good Catholics Are Supposed To Do aren’t necessarily one in the same — and considering the town I went to high school in was about 50% Catholic and maybe a third of all girls in any given graduating class drop out or stay back a year due to pregnancy, I’d hardly say “most Catholics” disagree with their religion’s official stance on contraception.  You can bring up anecdotal cases of individual Catholics all you want, but see, the thing is, Roman Catholicism is an organised religion with a governing body that has the Pope as its head, not its figurehead as you seem hell-bent on portraying him as.  Hell, technically about 3/4 of the people in Venezuela’s syncretic cult of Maria Lionza consider themselves Catholic, but those who are known by local priests and bishops to be a part of the Maria Lionza religion are denied communion because Maria Lionza is not an approved part of Catholicism and it’s considered a heresy by Catholicism to be a part of that religion alongside Catholicism.  Sure, they may consider themselves “Catholic”, but “Catholic” as defined by its governing body of Catholicism means not just confirmed as Catholic, but able to receive communion — kinda like how traditional Wicca considers Popular/Eclectic Wicca either “Wiccanate paganism” or simply “not Wicca” because it’s clearly lacking some key elements of traditional Wicca paths.  Sure, I guess I can consider myself a delicious bowl of fruit salad if I want to, even splash on some pineapple juice and put a cherry on top, but that doesn’t really make me any less made of meat, not fruit.

            Like I said, you can throw a pebble in any direction and hit a Catholic who does or says or believes things that are out of line with the official decrees of what a proper Catholic should say or do or believe.  Technically, a lot of those transgressions would probably be grounds for excommunication if so many priests in North Amerika weren’t more interested in PR than the fundamentals of their religion.  The bottom line is that Catholicism is a religion with a lot of hard-and-fast rules, and that within the very tenants of Catholicism, those rules are not things that you can cherry-pick and still expect to be considered a “good Catholic” by its governing body; just because it’s possible that most Catholics are not Good Catholics doesn’t mean that there ceases to be a definition of Good Catholic.  It’s not like most pagan religions, where there are few, if any, hard-and-fast rules of morality but instead loosely defined ethics.

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          I think you are confusing the role of the pope and the magisterium in the Roman Catholic Church.

          from Wikipedia:
          According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.”[2]

          Many people–including many Roman Catholics–have the mistaken impression that everything that the pope says is considered to be infallible.  However the doctrine of papal infallibility “was defined at the First Vatican Council in 1870, although belief in this doctrine long pre-dated this council.[3]”  The only explicit instances of papal infallibility have been the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Assumption of Mary, both of which were believed by many Catholics before they were officially defined by popes.What’s more, Roman Catholic theologians are expected to explore multiple theological positions with no particular concern for the pope’s personal opinion on the subject. As for the birth control issue, the magisterium–including the pope–have issued multiple specific statements that birth control is sinful.  So those Catholics who use birth control could appropriately be denied the sacraments.As a side note, the Roman Church, like all religions, has tenets, not tenants.

          • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            As a side note, the Roman Church, like all religions, has tenets, not tenants.

            Good call — but for the record, the Collingwood Art Center in Toledo, Ohio, was a convent until the nuns fell back on their rent, so clearly there are Catholic tenants. ;-)

            As for the birth control issue, the magisterium–including the pope–have issued multiple specific statements that birth control is sinful. So those Catholics who use birth control could appropriately be denied the sacraments.

            Still my basic point on this: Sure, a Catholic can disagree with the Vatican on contraception — and risk being excommunicate until they step back in line. It’s one of the more minor defining points of Catholicism, sure, but it’s one that many “good Catholics”, including the papacy, will still twist up their knickers over. As a highly organised religion, the magisterium has every right to tell those self-identifying as “Catholic” what Catholics should and should not say, do, or believe. No Catholic that wants to be in good with the church will blatantly disregard these tenets, no matter how minor.

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            No one, including Star, is claiming that Catholicism is not a hierarchical tradition.  You were criticizing Star for misrepresenting the role of the pope in the Roman Church, but were also misrepresenting it–in the opposite direction. 

          • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            I’m really not.  There’s a reason there will never be an Amerikan Pope, and it’s got a lot to do with the fact that Amerikans routinely downplay and ignore the importance of the papacy.  But hey, if the Vatican enforced excommunication of all Amerikan self-identified “Catholics”, then the Vatican would be out of a MAJOR source of income.

  • Anonymous

    Andrew Bowen might ‘mean well’, but his entire project reads straight out of the ‘bored, educated, entitled white-boy’ playbook. I was actually more offended to see him play dress-up as a Sikh. He has no idea what Sikhs really have to go through… nor their amazing history.

  • sindarintech

    Andrew Bowen might ‘mean well’, but his entire project reads straight out of the ‘bored, educated, entitled white-boy’ playbook. I was actually more offended to see him play dress-up as a Sikh. He has no idea what Sikhs really have to go through… nor their amazing history.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

    Hey there Star!

    Blessed be. I really appreciate you taking the time to read through my posts. I have to give you credit for your intentions, however I think you’ve taking your analysis a bit too far.

    If you review the “About” page, you’ll discover my intentions. This month at a time gig isn’t an attempt to explain an entire faith and all its nuances in 30 days. No one is that, as Stephani_penningto said, “stupid.” What Project Conversion does is simply introduce the broad scope of a faith to folks who have little or no exposure to it. I give them just enough to topple their pre-concieved notions and actually look into said faith itself.

    I’ve done this now since January with 9 other faiths and so far, it’s changed lives–mine included. Through this, people who once hated one faith have now reached out and made peace with their former enemies. Through this, folks have gotten closer to their native faith, through this, people have sought info on their own and converted.

    Ironic that you would take the time to slander this project when you come from a faith that has been downtrodden by slander for centuries. That is exactly why I selected this month: To change hearts and minds who once judged Pagans due to misinformation. Over 80 Pagans have joined the facebook group since Oct. 1, and this is where much of the learning happens. Here, ideas and issues are vetted. Here, people of all faiths learn about one another. If you don’t like something I’ve posted, tell me and I’ll edit it (if the correction is warrented). All those struggles you talked about that Pagans go through? No, I won’t suffer all of or maybe even any of them, but these struggles come out in Week 3 of every month so that outsiders understand what folks of each faith go through. Perhaps a less shallow look into what I’m doing would have revealed that…

    You’ve frankly oversimplified my statements and taken much of them out of context. I didn’t choose this faith for any illusion of ease, but because it was hard. I’ve received many emails from people telling me I’m going to Hell simply for taking on this month, and now I’m getting “friendly fire” from the very folks I’m trying to learn from? Why not join the effort, help me set the record straight, instead of slandering me on a post from far away?

    I recommend that everyone reading this post and “taking it as gospel” give the site a visit. After all, the whole project is about looking into things for themselves, not relying on 3rd party sources. 

    Just a thought.

    Peace,

    Andrew Bowen

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      That’s the reason I included links, so people could judge it for themselves.

      Has Wicca been downtrodden for centuries? Do you have a source to back that up?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000451145781 MrsBs Confessions

      Though I don’t have quite as strong of feelings towards this project as Star does (not being a Wiccan probably helps on that front), I think you might have just proved some of her points by saying that Wicca as a faith has been “downtrodden by slander for centuries”, considering that Wicca was founded in the 1940′s.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      I have to ask you, Andrew… why October?

      If you’re doing this to dispel myths, preconceived notions, misconceptions and the like… why did you pick October for this?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

        Dr. Loomis finds this conversation deeply upsetting.

      • deerwoman

        I think he chose October because Samhain occurs at the end of the month. From what I understand, he was trying to align his time as a convert to significant holidays in each tradition.

        It seems that a lot of his own misconceptions and lack of nuanced information about Wicca is at least partially due to his mentor.  I’m not sure if he specifically contacted this individual to be his mentor or if he basically put the word out that he was looking for a guide for his “month as a Wiccan” and waited for volunteers, but I’m thinking it may be the latter.

        That doesn’t excuse a lack of research on his part, but unfortunately even if you do a search on Wicca on the internet or even at a local library or chain bookstore, most of what you will find is the fluffy 101 material. It would have been great had he stumbled upon some more British Traditional Wicca material (or even, as Star states, a more established Eclectic Wiccan tradition like Reclaiming, etc.), but that does not seem to be the case. Cara mentions below that there’s no way you could appreciate Traditional Wicca in a month which I think is definitely true, and due to its secretive nature, I don’t think you could find even a mentor from one of those traditions willing to take someone on for such a temporary basis.

        I’m saddened by the shallow representation of Wicca I’ve seen presented so far, but not really surprised by it.

        • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

          There are other significant holidays to Wicca in months aside from October.  And technically, Samhain is the first of November.

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          Reclaiming is not an “Eclectic Wiccan tradition,”  as its initiatory lineage and core teachings derive from Feri, not Wicca.

    • Cara

      Thanks for commenting on this.  I’m Pagan, not Wiccan so I’m taking a more laid back look at all of this. 

      You seem sincere – I’m willing to cut you some slack.  30 days isn’t long, but it’s at least a taste of a religion and culture.  I can understand why you’re going the eclectic route – there is no way you could even begin to get a hint of what Traditional Wicca is all about in a month.

      I think it is unfortunate that you picked to experience Wicca at Samhain, though.  Out of all the festivals of the wheel, it is the most complex, deep, and difficult to understand in a meaningful way.  The other 7 are mystery religion experiences, yes – but not to the degree that Samhain is.  Not that I celebrate Samhain, Hellenic Polytheists don’t, but I’ve been around Wiccans for enough years that I’ve learned a thing or two.

      Good luck on you your project – and don’t make us look like fluffy-bunny asshats, please.

    • Anonymous

      Oh, for pete’s sake – do some *real research* Then write your treatise:  (example: http://www.worldcat.org/title/dancing-the-wheel-a-study-in-wicca-and-a-psychological-interpretation-of-an-alternative-religious-practice/oclc/34481232?referer=list_view)  Don’t self justify or try telling us what you *think*, there is far too much of that going on.  This community is far too well educated not to call you on this one. Expect it to happen, because in 2011, there is too much real information out there (and easily obtained) written by respectable, well known, and approachable members of the Wiccan community for anyone to have any more excuses for publishing misinformation. (oh, and BTW, check your mentor’s credentials while you are at it.)

      • Anonymous

        BTW_ Star says it’s not her job to do your research – it is, however, all of our jobs to do *peer review*. It has happened, go back and to it again because the research presented is not good enough to pass muster.  Frankly, it is now impossible to read the essays on anyone’s religion through this project without serious doubts as to the veracity of the the sources cited or the depth of the research done. Really too bad, it was a good idea.

    • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

      Ironic that you would take the time to slander this project when you
      come from a faith that has been downtrodden by slander for centuries.

      Wicca hasn’t existed for “centuries” — some of its framework has, but not really all that much.  Now, the whole of Pagan and Polytheist religions have been around for centuries, but Wicca itself?  barely three-quarters of a century old.  Your “mentor” really should have covered this with you already.

      Furthermore, sindarintech’s summary of your approach as “privileged white boy” really does fit:  When you feel the urge to proclaim that Wicca isn’t “satan worship, baby sacrifice, etc…”, you might as well be stating that not all Black men are rapists and not all Latinos in the United $tates are illegal immigrants.  You might as well be saying not all First Nation people are alcoholics and that you’ve never personally been to an Asian restaurant that served you stray cat meat.  You might as well point out that not all lesbians hate men and not all trans women are prostitutes.If you don’t like something I’ve posted, tell me and I’ll edit it (if the correction is warrented).

      WOW!  Way to parade your privilege!  Sure!  Star, an actual Wiccan, can suggest an edit, but you, the non-Wiccan get to decide if that edit is truly warranted.  Bully for you, privileged white boy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

    Hey there Star!

    Blessed be. I really appreciate you taking the time to read through my posts. I have to give you credit for your intentions, however I think you’ve taking your analysis a bit too far.

    If you review the “About” page, you’ll discover my intentions. This month at a time gig isn’t an attempt to explain an entire faith and all its nuances in 30 days. No one is that, as Stephani_penningto said, “stupid.” What Project Conversion does is simply introduce the broad scope of a faith to folks who have little or no exposure to it. I give them just enough to topple their pre-concieved notions and actually look into said faith itself.

    I’ve done this now since January with 9 other faiths and so far, it’s changed lives–mine included. Through this, people who once hated one faith have now reached out and made peace with their former enemies. Through this, folks have gotten closer to their native faith, through this, people have sought info on their own and converted.

    Ironic that you would take the time to slander this project when you come from a faith that has been downtrodden by slander for centuries. That is exactly why I selected this month: To change hearts and minds who once judged Pagans due to misinformation. Over 80 Pagans have joined the facebook group since Oct. 1, and this is where much of the learning happens. Here, ideas and issues are vetted. Here, people of all faiths learn about one another. If you don’t like something I’ve posted, tell me and I’ll edit it (if the correction is warrented). All those struggles you talked about that Pagans go through? No, I won’t suffer all of or maybe even any of them, but these struggles come out in Week 3 of every month so that outsiders understand what folks of each faith go through. Perhaps a less shallow look into what I’m doing would have revealed that…

    You’ve frankly oversimplified my statements and taken much of them out of context. I didn’t choose this faith for any illusion of ease, but because it was hard. I’ve received many emails from people telling me I’m going to Hell simply for taking on this month, and now I’m getting “friendly fire” from the very folks I’m trying to learn from? Why not join the effort, help me set the record straight, instead of slandering me on a post from far away?

    I recommend that everyone reading this post and “taking it as gospel” give the site a visit. After all, the whole project is about looking into things for themselves, not relying on 3rd party sources. 

    Just a thought.

    Peace,

    Andrew Bowen

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      That’s the reason I included links, so people could judge it for themselves.

      Has Wicca been downtrodden for centuries? Do you have a source to back that up?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000451145781 MrsBs Confessions

      Though I don’t have quite as strong of feelings towards this project as Star does (not being a Wiccan probably helps on that front), I think you might have just proved some of her points by saying that Wicca as a faith has been “downtrodden by slander for centuries”, considering that Wicca was founded in the 1940′s.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      I have to ask you, Andrew… why October?

      If you’re doing this to dispel myths, preconceived notions, misconceptions and the like… why did you pick October for this?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

        Dr. Loomis finds this conversation deeply upsetting.

      • deerwoman

        I think he chose October because Samhain occurs at the end of the month. From what I understand, he was trying to align his time as a convert to significant holidays in each tradition.

        It seems that a lot of his own misconceptions and lack of nuanced information about Wicca is at least partially due to his mentor.  I’m not sure if he specifically contacted this individual to be his mentor or if he basically put the word out that he was looking for a guide for his “month as a Wiccan” and waited for volunteers, but I’m thinking it may be the latter.

        That doesn’t excuse a lack of research on his part, but unfortunately even if you do a search on Wicca on the internet or even at a local library or chain bookstore, most of what you will find is the fluffy 101 material. It would have been great had he stumbled upon some more British Traditional Wicca material (or even, as Star states, a more established Eclectic Wiccan tradition like Reclaiming, etc.), but that does not seem to be the case. Cara mentions below that there’s no way you could appreciate Traditional Wicca in a month which I think is definitely true, and due to its secretive nature, I don’t think you could find even a mentor from one of those traditions willing to take someone on for such a temporary basis.

        I’m saddened by the shallow representation of Wicca I’ve seen presented so far, but not really surprised by it.

        • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

          There are other significant holidays to Wicca in months aside from October.  And technically, Samhain is the first of November.

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          Reclaiming is not an “Eclectic Wiccan tradition,”  as its initiatory lineage and core teachings derive from Feri, not Wicca.

    • Cara

      Thanks for commenting on this.  I’m Pagan, not Wiccan so I’m taking a more laid back look at all of this. 

      You seem sincere – I’m willing to cut you some slack.  30 days isn’t long, but it’s at least a taste of a religion and culture.  I can understand why you’re going the eclectic route – there is no way you could even begin to get a hint of what Traditional Wicca is all about in a month.

      I think it is unfortunate that you picked to experience Wicca at Samhain, though.  Out of all the festivals of the wheel, it is the most complex, deep, and difficult to understand in a meaningful way.  The other 7 are mystery religion experiences, yes – but not to the degree that Samhain is.  Not that I celebrate Samhain, Hellenic Polytheists don’t, but I’ve been around Wiccans for enough years that I’ve learned a thing or two.

      Good luck on you your project – and don’t make us look like fluffy-bunny asshats, please.

    • LezlieKinyon

      Oh, for pete’s sake – do some *real research* Then write your treatise:  (example: http://www.worldcat.org/title/dancing-the-wheel-a-study-in-wicca-and-a-psychological-interpretation-of-an-alternative-religious-practice/oclc/34481232?referer=list_view)  Don’t self justify or try telling us what you *think*, there is far too much of that going on.  This community is far too well educated not to call you on this one. Expect it to happen, because in 2011, there is too much real information out there (and easily obtained) written by respectable, well known, and approachable members of the Wiccan community for anyone to have any more excuses for publishing misinformation. (oh, and BTW, check your mentor’s credentials while you are at it.) I read your blog entry & did due diligence in the analysis. You are either a) misrepresenting your mentor or b) your mentor is not (for whatever reason) giving you a good picture of the religion. As for Facebook, wikipedia (or other social networking sites) it is not a citeable source because it is not verifiable. Perhaps you should re-do this essay as a surface look at religion though social-networking sites rather than presenting it as an essay using an ethnographic method.

      • LezlieKinyon

        BTW_ Star says it’s not her job to do your research – it is, however, all of our jobs to do *peer review*. Results: It has happened, go back and do it again. The research presented is not good enough to pass muster.  Frankly, it is now impossible to read the essays presented through this project on anyone’s religion without serious doubts as to the veracity of the sources cited or the depth of the research done. Really too bad, it was a good idea.

    • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

      Ironic that you would take the time to slander this project when you
      come from a faith that has been downtrodden by slander for centuries.

      Wicca hasn’t existed for “centuries” — some of its framework has, but not really all that much.  Now, the whole of Pagan and Polytheist religions have been around for centuries, but Wicca itself?  barely three-quarters of a century old.  Your “mentor” really should have covered this with you already.

      Furthermore, sindarintech’s summary of your approach as “privileged white boy” really does fit:  When you feel the urge to proclaim that Wicca isn’t “satan worship, baby sacrifice, etc…”, you might as well be stating that not all Black men are rapists and not all Latinos in the United $tates are illegal immigrants.  You might as well be saying not all First Nation people are alcoholics and that you’ve never personally been to an Asian restaurant that served you stray cat meat.  You might as well point out that not all lesbians hate men and not all trans women are prostitutes.

      If you don’t like something I’ve posted, tell me and I’ll edit it (if the correction is warrented).

      WOW!  Way to parade your privilege!  Sure!  Star, an actual Wiccan, can suggest an edit, but you, the non-Wiccan get to decide if that edit is truly warranted.  Bully for you, privileged white boy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

    I said “faith”, not Wiccan. Am I not correct that Pagans have been the brunt of violence, isolation, etc. for centuries?

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      You’re not being “Pagan” for a month. You specifically said you’re being “Wiccan” for a month. Wicca is a Pagan religion. There are many Pagan religions. I suggest you read Kaat MacMorgan’s “All One Wicca” to get the basics.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

        Yes, Fey Wicca is my specified path because that is what my Mentor is. That being said, I think it’s only fair to give the wider community a shout-out during the month since this discriminatory issues tend to follow all paths beneath the Pagan umbrella.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          So you need to learn the language and use it appropriately, especially as you’ve chosen to represent a minority tradition, within a minority religion within a minority group of faiths.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

            Star,

            That’s what the whole process is about Star, learning. What would have happened had I not stumbled on your blog? All these objections you bring up, with all its fizzle and attitude…why not be part of the journey, help me understand by contacting me? I never promise to get everything right, but I do promise to submit myself to the lessons and teachings. I’m okay with being wrong, because learning is how we grow.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            It is NOT MY JOB to do your work for you. If you cannot be bothered to do the research, then why write at all?

          • Cigfran

            Andrew, if you’re going to pretend that this is a ‘learning’ experience then you need to at least put up a reasonable facade of listening.

            You have just been told that you are misusing important language. Rather than acknowledge that, you have continued to blather defensively.

            Take the lesson from someone living the life.

          • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

            You asked: “why not be part of the journey, help me understand by contacting me?”

            I would direct you to the following website, where you might learn a few things about dealing with minorities. What you’ve asked here is a classic derailing technique. It’s your responsibility to work on learning about this stuff. A lot of us are willing to talk to sincere seekers, but somebody joyriding for a month? Not so much.

            http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Thank you, Erynn.  Thank you, thank you.  <3

          • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

            No, you submit yourself to teachings and the potential that you’re wrong so long as you get to approve what is warranted.  That’s really not the words of some-one who is GENUINELY interested in learning, it’s the words of some-one who’s interested in being right.

        • Anonymous

          wtf is ‘Fey Wicca’ anyway? Sheesh, couldn’t you have at least put effort behind something serious, like Gardnerian Wicca?

          • Deorling

            If you saw his comment below it’s dependant on finding a mentir willing to help him and the only person that did was from that tradition. So now we beat the guy when no one came out?

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            Considering Gus Di Zerega writes for the same site and there are plenty of Pagans who’d be willing to participate in a BeliefNet project, I find this hard to believe. I think a little effort would have turned up a couple of well-respected teachers.

          • Deorling

            Looking at his facebook and his past explorations I’m going to assume (and I hate doing so) that by looking for a mentor he meant one that he can meet in person in order to better experience the faith. Depending on his area perhaps Melissa was the only one willing to give someone a try for 30 days. Perhaps like you, they thought someone doing a “project” wasn’t doing it seriously.

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Andrew, where did you post looking for mentors?

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Andrew, where did you post looking for mentors?

          • LizMc

            Project Conversion didn’t start out as a “BeliefNet project.”  It moved over to Bnet a few months ago, when they invited him to come over. 

          • http://profiles.google.com/annebasso Anne Basso

            I’m not a Few Wiccan, nor do I know anything about it, but to dismiss another tradition or path as less serious than another seems wrong to me.  One of the things I’ve always loved as a Wiccan Pagan is the room for diversity.

        • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

          So you hope to unite “all pagans” by representing the eclectic take on the most popular of the pagan religions, even though most other pagan religions look almost nothing like Wicca?

          Oh, and word to the wise:  There is HEAP BIG RESENTMENT of this conflation amongst non-Wiccan pagans and polytheists because Popular/”I Bought a Book” Wicca simply cannot represent all other pagan and polytheist religions.  As a Hellenistos, I share no holidays with Wiccanate pagans, nor do I share their point of view on Deity.  Hell, PopWiccan can’t even represent Traditional Wiccan paths — that’s how different it all is.  This is serious “101″-type information, here that you either didn’t take note of or never received; if the former, that speaks volumes about your intent to “dispel misinformation”, if the latter, it speaks volumes about the qualifications of your “mentor”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

    I said “faith”, not Wiccan. Am I not correct that Pagans have been the brunt of violence, isolation, etc. for centuries?

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      You’re not being “Pagan” for a month. You specifically said you’re being “Wiccan” for a month. Wicca is a Pagan religion. There are many Pagan religions. I suggest you read Kaat MacMorgan’s “All One Wicca” to get the basics.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

        Yes, Fey Wicca is my specified path because that is what my Mentor is. That being said, I think it’s only fair to give the wider community a shout-out during the month since this discriminatory issues tend to follow all paths beneath the Pagan umbrella.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          So you need to learn the language and use it appropriately, especially as you’ve chosen to represent a minority tradition, within a minority religion within a minority group of faiths.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

            Star,

            That’s what the whole process is about Star, learning. What would have happened had I not stumbled on your blog? All these objections you bring up, with all its fizzle and attitude…why not be part of the journey, help me understand by contacting me? I never promise to get everything right, but I do promise to submit myself to the lessons and teachings. I’m okay with being wrong, because learning is how we grow.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            It is NOT MY JOB to do your work for you. If you cannot be bothered to do the research, then why write at all?

          • Cigfran

            Andrew, if you’re going to pretend that this is a ‘learning’ experience then you need to at least put up a reasonable facade of listening.

            You have just been told that you are misusing important language. Rather than acknowledge that, you have continued to blather defensively.

            Take the lesson from someone living the life.

          • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

            You asked: “why not be part of the journey, help me understand by contacting me?”

            I would direct you to the following website, where you might learn a few things about dealing with minorities. What you’ve asked here is a classic derailing technique. It’s your responsibility to work on learning about this stuff. A lot of us are willing to talk to sincere seekers, but somebody joyriding for a month? Not so much.

            http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Thank you, Erynn.  Thank you, thank you.  <3

          • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            No, you submit yourself to teachings and the potential that you’re wrong so long as you get to approve what is warranted.  That’s really not the words of some-one who is GENUINELY interested in learning, it’s the words of some-one who’s interested in being right.

        • sindarintech

          wtf is ‘Fey Wicca’ anyway? Sheesh, couldn’t you have at least put effort behind something serious, like Gardnerian Wicca?

          • Deorling

            If you saw his comment below it’s dependant on finding a mentir willing to help him and the only person that did was from that tradition. So now we beat the guy when no one came out?

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            Considering Gus Di Zerega writes for the same site and there are plenty of Pagans who’d be willing to participate in a BeliefNet project, I find this hard to believe. I think a little effort would have turned up a couple of well-respected teachers.

          • Deorling

            Looking at his facebook and his past explorations I’m going to assume (and I hate doing so) that by looking for a mentor he meant one that he can meet in person in order to better experience the faith. Depending on his area perhaps Melissa was the only one willing to give someone a try for 30 days. Perhaps like you, they thought someone doing a “project” wasn’t doing it seriously.

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Andrew, where did you post looking for mentors?

          • LizMc

            Project Conversion didn’t start out as a “BeliefNet project.”  It moved over to Bnet a few months ago, when they invited him to come over. 

          • http://profiles.google.com/annebasso Anne Basso

            I’m not a Few Wiccan, nor do I know anything about it, but to dismiss another tradition or path as less serious than another seems wrong to me.  One of the things I’ve always loved as a Wiccan Pagan is the room for diversity.

        • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

          So you hope to unite “all pagans” by representing the eclectic take on the most popular of the pagan religions, even though most other pagan religions look almost nothing like Wicca?

          Oh, and word to the wise:  There is HEAP BIG RESENTMENT of this conflation amongst non-Wiccan pagans and polytheists because Popular/”I Bought a Book” Wicca simply cannot represent all other pagan and polytheist religions.  As a Hellenistos, I share no holidays with Wiccanate pagans, nor do I share their point of view on Deity.  Hell, PopWiccan can’t even represent Traditional Wiccan paths — that’s how different it all is.  This is serious “101″-type information, here that you either didn’t take note of or never received; if the former, that speaks volumes about your intent to “dispel misinformation”, if the latter, it speaks volumes about the qualifications of your “mentor”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

    Aine,

    When I planned Project Conversion back in October of 2010, I tried to line everything up by major holidays. My understanding at the time was the Samhain was around the end of October, so I chose according to that.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

      Samhain rocks and was a great transition between the Misfits and Danzig.

    • Anonymous

      Afterall, we do worship the ancient blood god Sam Hain on the last day of October.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      So, why not Yule?  Or Bealtaine?  Heck, Midsummer’s an awesome choice.  

      Why focus on the same month of the year that everyone else chooses when trying to step out of their privilege and introduce those weird, whacky Pagans like some sort of zoo tour or museum exhibit?

    • Robert

      I’m afraid you didn’t do yourself any favors by picking Samhain (known secularly as Halloween through much of the US) to orient your excursion into Wicca.  We are exposed to many different articles around this time of year, most of whom attempt to capitalize on the season by writing articles of the “Look Ma! Real Witches at Halloween!” style.  Typically of very little substance, and what substance does exist in these articles is often rehashed content that we saw last year.  After several years of this, it begins to feel like we’re being trivialized for page views…

      So to rephrase the question a bit: given that there are 8 Sabbats in the year, and all of them are held as holy by it’s practitioners, why did you not pick a Sabbat that is less stereotypical to explore Wicca? 

    • Robert

      I’m afraid you didn’t do yourself any favors by picking Samhain (known secularly as Halloween through much of the US) to orient your excursion into Wicca.  We are exposed to many different articles around this time of year, most of whom attempt to capitalize on the season by writing articles of the “Look Ma! Real Witches at Halloween!” style.  Typically of very little substance, and what substance does exist in these articles is often rehashed content that we saw last year.  After several years of this, it begins to feel like we’re being trivialized for page views…

      So to rephrase the question a bit: given that there are 8 Sabbats in the year, and all of them are held as holy by it’s practitioners, why did you not pick a Sabbat that is less stereotypical to explore Wicca? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

    Aine,

    When I planned Project Conversion back in October of 2010, I tried to line everything up by major holidays. My understanding at the time was the Samhain was around the end of October, so I chose according to that.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

      Samhain rocks and was a great transition between the Misfits and Danzig.

    • sindarintech

      Afterall, we do worship the ancient blood god Sam Hain on the last day of October.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      So, why not Yule?  Or Bealtaine?  Heck, Midsummer’s an awesome choice.  

      Why focus on the same month of the year that everyone else chooses when trying to step out of their privilege and introduce those weird, whacky Pagans like some sort of zoo tour or museum exhibit?

    • Robert

      I’m afraid you didn’t do yourself any favors by picking Samhain (known secularly as Halloween through much of the US) to orient your excursion into Wicca.  We are exposed to many different articles around this time of year, most of whom attempt to capitalize on the season by writing articles of the “Look Ma! Real Witches at Halloween!” style.  Typically of very little substance, and what substance does exist in these articles is often rehashed content that we saw last year.  After several years of this, it begins to feel like we’re being trivialized for page views…

      So to rephrase the question a bit: given that there are 8 Sabbats in the year, and all of them are held as holy by it’s practitioners, why did you not pick a Sabbat that is less stereotypical to explore Wicca? 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

    I think any attempt to try a religion for 30 days in a Morgan Spurlock-style experiment will seem superficial or shallow to many practitioners of whatever particular faith is being explored. The best it can do is yield some new experiences or illuminate a few things that are worth discussing, and in the end it seems that’s all Andrew Bowen is trying to do. Maybe he could have chosen a more well-defined Wiccan tradition, but no matter what he chose I’m sure someone would have felt he made the wrong decision.

    That being said, I do understand being upset at what may seem like a flippant approach to traditional and ritual. I know many people who refuse to regard Wicca as a “real” religion, because it’s supposedly made up (as if all religions aren’t made up to some degree). While I’m not Wiccan, I know it’s a struggle to have your professed faith taken seriously when it falls outside of the mainstream. On the other hand, the few Wiccans I’ve known in person just sort of did whatever they wanted and did not adhere to any particular structured system—something which may be a frequent perception among people looking at Wicca from a distance—so perhaps it’s not surprising that the tone of Mr. Bowen’s article reflected this.

    In the end, I don’t think he was consciously trying to be dismissive of structure or tradition, it’s just that the reality TV-style format of his articles probably can’t allow for the in-depth examination or level of insight one might like to see.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

      Charles,

      Thanks for giving me an honest read. What folks have to keep in mind too is that I search high and low for willing Mentors. The one I found was the only one who raised her hand. She’s experienced and takes her instruction very seriously.

      What get’s me is the manner in which this article was written. While I have one Mentor each month, dozens of folks from each faith serve as a teacher. As I said, much of what is posted is vetted on the facebook page and I make edits everyday. Star decided to post a sarcastic, unconstructive critique in isolation and therefore did not provide a chance for me to correct or address her concerns.

      I’m not the enemy here. Check out Niki’s post below. She’s a tough follower of Project Conversion but I respect her as a teacher because in the end, I’m fighting for religious peace through understanding. We can slander one another (divided, we are conquered) or work together. Choice is yours.

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        Aren’t you here addressing my concerns? Isn’t this an opportunity to do that? I think you have this whole idea wrong. It’s your job to write accurately about the religious traditions you represent and your job to do the research. Not your readers. You can’t expect to do poor research and then act all hurt when someone is upset that you represented their religion.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

          Star, I’m not trying to stir the pot when I ask this as I know you’re passionate about this topic, but did Andrew make any bona fide objective errors in discussing the basics of Wicca?

          Because beyond that, so far he’s simply discussing what he’s learning from the tradition he chose to study. I understand that he may not provide a successful overview of Wicca (I’m personally not interested in following his project, but this discussion is very interesting), and obviously there’s no way a one-month glimpse into Wicca is going to offer the same kind of experience that a lifelong devotion to a religion would bring. But it seems that he’s being chastised partially because he won’t have that experience.

          I totally get the frustration and I’m not even saying it’s unwarranted; I’m just wondering how grievous his misrepresentation is, because to me (as a non-Wiccan) his article seemed somewhat superficial but not inflammatory.

          • Danacorby

            Not Star, here, but for one thing he didn’t know the difference between a pentagram and a pentacle, and put a ‘gram of interlaced twigs on his altar… And his mentor evidently didn’t know the difference either, or she’d surely have corrected him. Had she explained the long-standing significance and use of the pentacle on the Wiccan altar, he could not possibly have made that mistake.

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            Problem here:  Not all of the Craft makes the same distinctions between those two words.

          • Danacorby

            I don’t even know how to respond to that without being perceived as insulting. But they are wrong. The altar pentacle is more than just a symbol; it has uses that require it to be a solid disk.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            From a totally different trad on the opposite coast, I have to agree with that. It has to be substantial enough to “do the work.”

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            Two responses:

            In Doreen Valiente’s Witchcraft for Tomorrow an altar photo has a rectangle with an encircled pentagram on it as the altar pentacle, displayed upright rather than flat on the altar.  And the Liber Umbrarum in the book of the book doesn’t include any actual use of the pentacle.  Apparently, for Valiente, the pentacle was “just a symbol”.  Does anyone really want to make the claim that they are more authoritative a source on practicing the Craft than Valiente?

            When working ContraryWise Craft, it’s important to me that it be a solid object I can place items on for consecration or magical operation, rather than it have any glyph or design on it.  On the other hand, my American Welsh-descended coven has removed the pentacle and wand from the altar, as we made a collective decision that “tools” that we don’t actually use have no place on our altar.  I’m living proof that there is more than one right way to practice the Craft.  (Which is not to say that there aren’t wrong answers.)

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            Interesting. In my trad it actually is a tool that is used each ritual and needs to be substantial to do the work. Strange how we are all so alike and still so different.

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            Ain’t that the truth!

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

            Danacorby,

            Thanks for the example!

          • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

            Star, I’m not trying to stir the pot when I ask this as I know you’re
            passionate about this topic, but did Andrew make any bona fide objective
            errors in discussing the basics of Wicca?

            According to Star’s article — YES, apparently he did.  I shall now assume that you did not even read her article and thus only came here to White Knight for your buddy.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

            This response will probably go unread since it’s been several days, but here goes anyway.
             
            First of all, yes I read Star’s article. Secondly, I’m not here to “white knight” for Andrew. I don’t know him, don’t know much about him, and made it very clear that I have little to no interest in following the Conversion Project.
             
            I never said that Star has “no right” to feel the way she does. All I did was ask what exactly about Andrew’s post involved a blatant and grievous mischaracterization of Wicca, because as a non-Wiccan I had trouble discerning where he was dismissive. Personally I found his discussion to be very surface level and basic, and I could not take it seriously beyond that, so I was curious to know more about Star’s perspective. I never said her frustration was unwarranted; I just didn’t pretend to share that frustration. Yes, I found some of the reaction here to Andrew’s post to be unduly harsh, but people will react however they will react. I have no interest in policing someone’s thoughts or feelings. I don’t want to change anyone’s mind, and I did not make any attempt to engage in heated debate. All I did was ask a question.
             
            You seem to have come to certain conclusions about me, and felt the need to insult me based on those assumptions. And I’m not sure why it was necessary to compare me asking a question to being dismissive of things like racism and homophobia. But on the other hand, the internet is the last thing we should ever depend upon for constructive conversation.

          • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

            Did you read Mr. Bowen’s article in its original form?  He’s since edited and has failed to make it clear that he has.  If you have not read the original article that offended Star and others, do you still feel that you have a right to defend it?

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

            I read Andrew’s article very shortly after Star made this post. I am aware that it has since been edited by him, and he probably should have made it clear that he had done so. I haven’t looked at it further, so I can’t speak as to what changes he’s made since then, but I can only comment on his article as it was when I read it.
             
            And I have the “right” to defend whatever I want. That being said, I don’t feel that I was defending Andrew. I don’t care enough about what he’s doing to defend him, but I have nothing against him either. I was just trying to get a sense of why his article provoked such a harsh reaction, and offer my two cents. If I came across as dismissive of Star’s POV, that was not my intention, as I enjoy her articles and they are what brought me to this site in the first place. But I’m also not going to feign outrage just to fit in on a blog comment board.

          • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

            Nobody’s asking you to feign anything, but there’s an old saying that goes “if you aren’t outraged, then you aren’t paying attention”.  I wouldn’t necessarily go quite that far in every instance, but I firmly believe that the entire project is distasteful and that Mr Bowen is not only trivialising certain aspect of paganism, but his journalism displays questionable ethics and his whole demeanour to this project is undignified.

            As to Ms Foster’s response, the fact of the matter is, when one is a part of an oft-trivialised minority, being polite can only get one so far.  If she were a woman accused of sleeping her way to her new promotion, it would do her nothing to just meekly explain to her accusors that they are wrong and it was her launbdry list of qualifications that got her there.  Nay, what would actually earn her the respect of at least some of her accusors would be a short and assertive response peppered with just the right amount of aggression to command their respect in such circumstances — it wouldn’t change everybody’s minds, but it would display an attitude worthy of her position.  Ergo, I see no problem with her reated response to Mr Bowen’s blatant display of privilege and lacking dignity required of such play-acting at his age.  Just because I wouldn’t have put it exactly the way she has doesn’t mean I find it any less suiting.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

            You are very well-spoken (or well-typed, I guess!), and I hope I’ve articulated my points successfully as well. But this has become a rather fruitless back and forth, at least for me.
             
            I agree that Andrew Bowen’s take is trivial, and I can’t seem to stress enough that his project does not interest me (though I think he means well). But I am not personally going to equate his superficial attempt to discuss a religion in a format that is half-experiment and half-publicity stunt, with the persecution of a minority. I wanted to understand Star’s position better, and to gauge if she was upset because Andrew had misinterpreted and misrepresented the basic established tenets of the Wiccan religion, or if Star and others were perhaps angry because Andrew’s rather shallow study of Wicca did not conform to their own specific traditions, experiences and beliefs regarding their respective paths.
             
            That is a valid line of questioning, I think, and one many others here have asked as well. Star posted a highly emotional rant, after all, not an intellectual treatise. I had trouble fully following her position and wanted to understand it better. I take no issue with Star’s right to be assertive; I am neither for nor against her response to Andrew, and I enjoy her articles and opinions whether or not I agree with or share them.
             
            You seem to think that, because you perceive me an outsider, I have no right to express my opinion here and should either shut up or feel the outrage. You also have implied that I do not know what it’s like to be insulted and dismissed, when you did the same to me right out of the gate. You accused me of being a troll for Andrew, and indicated that my question to Star was on the same level as justifying racism and homophobia, and finally questioned my right to respond to this topic. So I hope you can understand that it’s difficult for me to take your responses completely seriously, especially when I made no attempt to insult you.
             
            You and anyone else are free to hate on Andrew Bowen for being a privileged white boy damaging the credibility of the pagan community be wielding his demonic scepter of ignorance. I’ve grown tired of talking about him. I came here hoping to have a constructive conversation and to better know other pagans; it’s a disappointment that my first experience posting has been such a negative one. But I think there is one thing we can all agree on: Demonic Scepter of Ignorance is a great band name.

          • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

            You seem to think that, because you perceive me an outsider, I have no
            right to express my opinion here and should either shut up or feel the
            outrage. …
             
            You and anyone else are free to hate on Andrew
            Bowen for being a privileged white boy damaging the credibility of the
            pagan community be wielding his demonic scepter of ignorance.

            Where have you seen such accusations from myself or any-one else?

            Source it or STFU.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

          I think we do have a duty to educate the public, Star.  Andrew had his site posted for months, and it received a lot of attention, before it came round to to October and “Wicca” month.  “Someone” should have contacted him and offered to be a source in advance.  Frankly Star, given your investment in this issue, I’m surprised you didn’t.

          Also, I think you’re overlooking the fact your frustration is born out of much broader problem, the ambiguity over what “Wicca” is.  Is it eclectic Neo-Wicca or is it traditional, initiatory Wicca?  In fact, given the percentages, I suspect that Andrew’s experience with eclectic non-initiatory Wicca is actually more representative.  I understand that can be frustrating to the traditionalist minority.

          I also agree with Andrew that the tone of your “rant” was counterproductive.  I applaud Andrew and his Project.  He does not claim to be representing any faith in its completeness.  He is only trying to *start* a conversation about other faiths.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            Sure thing. I’ll dedicate what little free time I have to tracking down people who might be planning to write about Wicca to educate them. Thanks for reminding me I’m not doing enough.

      • http://twitter.com/Turtle_Dawn CDWilliams

        I believe you are missing the point. Star Foster is a highly respected member of the Pagan community. She didn’t get that respect over night. She earned it from being highly knowledgable about Paganism and her in depth discussions about international issues that effect the Pagan community. If she says you are wrong about something you better go back and check your sources because Star Foster knows what she is talking about.

        If you truly want to learn then you must be open to criticism from the experts in order to obtain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Though Star may say she is by no means an expert, she has years of experience, and for someone who is only days into studying I’d say that ought to be good enough for you.

        Just my 2 cents.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          Wow, I think you think more of my capability than I do, but I really appreciate the compliment. Thank you! Made my day!

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000451145781 MrsBs Confessions

          I wish I could “like” CDWilliams comment more than once.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

          I agree about Star’s work in general.  However, this post/rant was entirely lacking in the thoughtfulness that we have all come to expect from Star. 

          • Rua Lupa

            She did call it a “rant” though. So it was really just “vent time” from how I interpreted it, and therefore not intended to be constructive. Just to get whats nagging at the back of your head to come out, even if it is not coherent.

            This is surprisingly something that I like to see now and then because it shows what someone with a certain background thinks and feels about certain things in honesty, even if they are wrong in any way.

            In this case, I see it as a vent that shouldn’t be taken entirely to heart, but strictly to thought. This is one person’s personal take on the matter, and it takes a fair amount of courage to be willing to put yourself out there in that way.

            Should you take offense? I don’t think so. Just take it with a nod and consider possible valid points brought up. There really shouldn’t be any criticism for someone being honest with how they feel. Its like a healing circle, people need to vent and that helps them get past the hurts and clear the mind to see more clearly afterwards. The people listening are there to listen and not judge or comment even. Having such personal vents on such a public format is bound to have responses every which way, so Star should expect no less. But everyone else should also realize that this is true, honest feelings someone is sharing and it should be respected for that honesty. Even if it offends, as everyone offends and is offended sometime or another. If you are offended by a personal vent, first ask yourself why before considering responding. If you receive a response to your personal vent, it is easy to feel attacked regardless of the content in the response, because it was very personal to you.

            Such a public setting for a vent will get dirty because it is not in a healing circle, that is the nature of the beast. Both the venter and listener should then be conscious of their exchanges.

            As such, I expect a more constructive post from Star on a later date on this subject as this Conversion Project continues, because any striking news will get hackles up and this was obviously striking to her. And Star usually has updates on these things as non-rants and are very informative. A quick look through her blog history will express this well.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

            I see she already has!

          • http://twitter.com/Turtle_Dawn CDWilliams

            I think it is an excellent and personal piece. When something is extremely personal like this, it is easy for emotion to carry you off. I don’t think she let it do that, though, you can see that is what fueled the fire so to speak.

      • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

        So a read is only “honest” if he’s apparently brown-nosing you?

  • http://www.myownashram.wordpress.com Niki Whiting

    Hey Star, I see that Andrew
    has already defended himself on the post itself, but I want to add my
    two cents. I’ve been following him this year and I’ve been nothing but
    impressed and inspired. He’s not writing about different religions as if
    he’s writing undergrad reports, but he’s attempting to practice the
    traditions and meet the communities where they’re at, in his own area if
    possible. He has loads of privilege and plenty of people call him out
    when necessary. But overall, I think he’s doing a great job promoting
    religious diversity and freedom, encouraging others to open their minds.
    I’m highly skeptical and critical of his foray into Wicca, but then I
    know more about this tradition than I do about say, Zoroastrianism. If
    others learn as much about Wicca as I did during his time as a
    Zoroastrian (and I’ve got multiple degrees in religious studies) then
    however ‘cheesy’ his practice, it will be worth it. Give his month a
    chance. (cross posted to FB)

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Glad you’re getting some benefit from his project.

  • http://www.myownashram.wordpress.com Niki Whiting

    Hey Star, I see that Andrew
    has already defended himself on the post itself, but I want to add my
    two cents. I’ve been following him this year and I’ve been nothing but
    impressed and inspired. He’s not writing about different religions as if
    he’s writing undergrad reports, but he’s attempting to practice the
    traditions and meet the communities where they’re at, in his own area if
    possible. He has loads of privilege and plenty of people call him out
    when necessary. But overall, I think he’s doing a great job promoting
    religious diversity and freedom, encouraging others to open their minds.
    I’m highly skeptical and critical of his foray into Wicca, but then I
    know more about this tradition than I do about say, Zoroastrianism. If
    others learn as much about Wicca as I did during his time as a
    Zoroastrian (and I’ve got multiple degrees in religious studies) then
    however ‘cheesy’ his practice, it will be worth it. Give his month a
    chance. (cross posted to FB)

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Glad you’re getting some benefit from his project.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

    I think any attempt to try a religion for 30 days in a Morgan Spurlock-style experiment will seem superficial or shallow to many practitioners of whatever particular faith is being explored. The best it can do is yield some new experiences or illuminate a few things that are worth discussing, and in the end it seems that’s all Andrew Bowen is trying to do. Maybe he could have chosen a more well-defined Wiccan tradition, but no matter what he chose I’m sure someone would have felt he made the wrong decision.

    That being said, I do understand being upset at what may seem like a flippant approach to traditional and ritual. I know many people who refuse to regard Wicca as a “real” religion, because it’s supposedly made up (as if all religions aren’t made up to some degree). While I’m not Wiccan, I know it’s a struggle to have your professed faith taken seriously when it falls outside of the mainstream. On the other hand, the few Wiccans I’ve known in person just sort of did whatever they wanted and did not adhere to any particular structured system—something which may be a frequent perception among people looking at Wicca from a distance—so perhaps it’s not surprising that the tone of Mr. Bowen’s article reflected this.

    In the end, I don’t think he was consciously trying to be dismissive of structure or tradition, it’s just that the reality TV-style format of his articles probably can’t allow for the in-depth examination or level of insight one might like to see.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

      Charles,

      Thanks for giving me an honest read. What folks have to keep in mind too is that I search high and low for willing Mentors. The one I found was the only one who raised her hand. She’s experienced and takes her instruction very seriously.

      What get’s me is the manner in which this article was written. While I have one Mentor each month, dozens of folks from each faith serve as a teacher. As I said, much of what is posted is vetted on the facebook page and I make edits everyday. Star decided to post a sarcastic, unconstructive critique in isolation and therefore did not provide a chance for me to correct or address her concerns.

      I’m not the enemy here. Check out Niki’s post below. She’s a tough follower of Project Conversion but I respect her as a teacher because in the end, I’m fighting for religious peace through understanding. We can slander one another (divided, we are conquered) or work together. Choice is yours.

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

        Aren’t you here addressing my concerns? Isn’t this an opportunity to do that? I think you have this whole idea wrong. It’s your job to write accurately about the religious traditions you represent and your job to do the research. Not your readers. You can’t expect to do poor research and then act all hurt when someone is upset that you represented their religion.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

          Star, I’m not trying to stir the pot when I ask this as I know you’re passionate about this topic, but did Andrew make any bona fide objective errors in discussing the basics of Wicca?

          Because beyond that, so far he’s simply discussing what he’s learning from the tradition he chose to study. I understand that he may not provide a successful overview of Wicca (I’m personally not interested in following his project, but this discussion is very interesting), and obviously there’s no way a one-month glimpse into Wicca is going to offer the same kind of experience that a lifelong devotion to a religion would bring. But it seems that he’s being chastised partially because he won’t have that experience.

          I totally get the frustration and I’m not even saying it’s unwarranted; I’m just wondering how grievous his misrepresentation is, because to me (as a non-Wiccan) his article seemed somewhat superficial but not inflammatory.

          • Danacorby

            Not Star, here, but for one thing he didn’t know the difference between a pentagram and a pentacle, and put a ‘gram of interlaced twigs on his altar… And his mentor evidently didn’t know the difference either, or she’d surely have corrected him. Had she explained the long-standing significance and use of the pentacle on the Wiccan altar, he could not possibly have made that mistake.

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            Problem here:  Not all of the Craft makes the same distinctions between those two words.

          • Danacorby

            I don’t even know how to respond to that without being perceived as insulting. But they are wrong. The altar pentacle is more than just a symbol; it has uses that require it to be a solid disk.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            From a totally different trad on the opposite coast, I have to agree with that. It has to be substantial enough to “do the work.”

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            Two responses:

            In Doreen Valiente’s Witchcraft for Tomorrow an altar photo has a rectangle with an encircled pentagram on it as the altar pentacle, displayed upright rather than flat on the altar.  And the Liber Umbrarum in the book of the book doesn’t include any actual use of the pentacle.  Apparently, for Valiente, the pentacle was “just a symbol”.  Does anyone really want to make the claim that they are more authoritative a source on practicing the Craft than Valiente?

            When working ContraryWise Craft, it’s important to me that it be a solid object I can place items on for consecration or magical operation, rather than it have any glyph or design on it.  On the other hand, my American Welsh-descended coven has removed the pentacle and wand from the altar, as we made a collective decision that “tools” that we don’t actually use have no place on our altar.  I’m living proof that there is more than one right way to practice the Craft.  (Which is not to say that there aren’t wrong answers.)

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            Interesting. In my trad it actually is a tool that is used each ritual and needs to be substantial to do the work. Strange how we are all so alike and still so different.

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            Ain’t that the truth!

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

            Danacorby,

            Thanks for the example!

          • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Star, I’m not trying to stir the pot when I ask this as I know you’re
            passionate about this topic, but did Andrew make any bona fide objective
            errors in discussing the basics of Wicca?

            According to Star’s article — YES, apparently he did.  I shall now assume that you did not even read her article and thus only came here to White Knight for your buddy.

            I’m just wondering how grievous his misrepresentation is, because to me (as a non-Wiccan) his article seemed somewhat superficial but not inflammatory.

            That’s cos, as you say, you’re reading it with non-Wiccan eyes. Would you dare to tell GBLT person or non-white that certain words are “not inflamitory” when their lived experience is that they are? I’m not even a Wiccan, but I’m not about to tell Star that in spite of being Wiccan herself, she has no right to say something is inflamitory when, according to her lived experiences, it sure as hell looks and feels like it.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

            This response will probably go unread since it’s been several days, but here goes anyway.
             
            First of all, yes I read Star’s article. Secondly, I’m not here to “white knight” for Andrew. I don’t know him, don’t know much about him, and made it very clear that I have little to no interest in following the Conversion Project.
             
            I never said that Star has “no right” to feel the way she does. All I did was ask what exactly about Andrew’s post involved a blatant and grievous mischaracterization of Wicca, because as a non-Wiccan I had trouble discerning where he was dismissive. Personally I found his discussion to be very surface level and basic, and I could not take it seriously beyond that, so I was curious to know more about Star’s perspective. I never said her frustration was unwarranted; I just didn’t pretend to share that frustration. Yes, I found some of the reaction here to Andrew’s post to be unduly harsh, but people will react however they will react. I have no interest in policing someone’s thoughts or feelings. I don’t want to change anyone’s mind, and I did not make any attempt to engage in heated debate. All I did was ask a question.
             
            You seem to have come to certain conclusions about me, and felt the need to insult me based on those assumptions. And I’m not sure why it was necessary to compare me asking a question to being dismissive of things like racism and homophobia. But on the other hand, the internet is the last thing we should ever depend upon for constructive conversation.

          • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Did you read Mr. Bowen’s article in its original form?  He’s since edited and has failed to make it clear that he has.  If you have not read the original article that offended Star and others, do you still feel that you have a right to defend it?

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

            I read Andrew’s article very shortly after Star made this post. I am aware that it has since been edited by him, and he probably should have made it clear that he had done so. I haven’t looked at it further, so I can’t speak as to what changes he’s made since then, but I can only comment on his article as it was when I read it.
             
            And I have the “right” to defend whatever I want. That being said, I don’t feel that I was defending Andrew. I don’t care enough about what he’s doing to defend him, but I have nothing against him either. I was just trying to get a sense of why his article provoked such a harsh reaction, and offer my two cents. If I came across as dismissive of Star’s POV, that was not my intention, as I enjoy her articles and they are what brought me to this site in the first place. But I’m also not going to feign outrage just to fit in on a blog comment board.

          • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Nobody’s asking you to feign anything, but there’s an old saying that goes “if you aren’t outraged, then you aren’t paying attention”.  I wouldn’t necessarily go quite that far in every instance, but I firmly believe that the entire project is distasteful and that Mr Bowen is not only trivialising certain aspect of paganism, but his journalism displays questionable ethics and his whole demeanour to this project is undignified.

            As to Ms Foster’s response, the fact of the matter is, when one is a part of an oft-trivialised minority, being polite can only get one so far.  If she were a woman accused of sleeping her way to her new promotion, it would do her nothing to just meekly explain to her accusors that they are wrong and it was her launbdry list of qualifications that got her there.  Nay, what would actually earn her the respect of at least some of her accusors would be a short and assertive response peppered with just the right amount of aggression to command their respect in such circumstances — it wouldn’t change everybody’s minds, but it would display an attitude worthy of her position.  Ergo, I see no problem with her reated response to Mr Bowen’s blatant display of privilege and lacking dignity required of such play-acting at his age.  Just because I wouldn’t have put it exactly the way she has doesn’t mean I find it any less suiting.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

            You are very well-spoken (or well-typed, I guess!), and I hope I’ve articulated my points successfully as well. But this has become a rather fruitless back and forth, at least for me.
             
            I agree that Andrew Bowen’s take is trivial, and I can’t seem to stress enough that his project does not interest me (though I think he means well). But I am not personally going to equate his superficial attempt to discuss a religion in a format that is half-experiment and half-publicity stunt, with the persecution of a minority. I wanted to understand Star’s position better, and to gauge if she was upset because Andrew had misinterpreted and misrepresented the basic established tenets of the Wiccan religion, or if Star and others were perhaps angry because Andrew’s rather shallow study of Wicca did not conform to their own specific traditions, experiences and beliefs regarding their respective paths.
             
            That is a valid line of questioning, I think, and one many others here have asked as well. Star posted a highly emotional rant, after all, not an intellectual treatise. I had trouble fully following her position and wanted to understand it better. I take no issue with Star’s right to be assertive; I am neither for nor against her response to Andrew, and I enjoy her articles and opinions whether or not I agree with or share them.
             
            You seem to think that, because you perceive me an outsider, I have no right to express my opinion here and should either shut up or feel the outrage. You also have implied that I do not know what it’s like to be insulted and dismissed, when you did the same to me right out of the gate. You accused me of being a troll for Andrew, and indicated that my question to Star was on the same level as justifying racism and homophobia, and finally questioned my right to respond to this topic. So I hope you can understand that it’s difficult for me to take your responses completely seriously, especially when I made no attempt to insult you.
             
            You and anyone else are free to hate on Andrew Bowen for being a privileged white boy damaging the credibility of the pagan community be wielding his demonic scepter of ignorance. I’ve grown tired of talking about him. I came here hoping to have a constructive conversation and to better know other pagans; it’s a disappointment that my first experience posting has been such a negative one. But I think there is one thing we can all agree on: Demonic Scepter of Ignorance is a great band name.

          • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            You seem to think that, because you perceive me an outsider, I have no
            right to express my opinion here and should either shut up or feel the
            outrage. …
             
            You and anyone else are free to hate on Andrew
            Bowen for being a privileged white boy damaging the credibility of the
            pagan community be wielding his demonic scepter of ignorance.

            Where have you seen such accusations from myself or any-one else?

            Source it or STFU.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

          I think we do have a duty to educate the public, Star.  Andrew had his site posted for months, and it received a lot of attention, before it came round to to October and “Wicca” month.  “Someone” should have contacted him and offered to be a source in advance.  Frankly Star, given your investment in this issue, I’m surprised you didn’t.

          Also, I think you’re overlooking the fact your frustration is born out of much broader problem, the ambiguity over what “Wicca” is.  Is it eclectic Neo-Wicca or is it traditional, initiatory Wicca?  In fact, given the percentages, I suspect that Andrew’s experience with eclectic non-initiatory Wicca is actually more representative.  I understand that can be frustrating to the traditionalist minority.

          I also agree with Andrew that the tone of your “rant” was counterproductive.  I applaud Andrew and his Project.  He does not claim to be representing any faith in its completeness.  He is only trying to *start* a conversation about other faiths.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            Sure thing. I’ll dedicate what little free time I have to tracking down people who might be planning to write about Wicca to educate them. Thanks for reminding me I’m not doing enough.

      • Cigfran

        > What get’s me is the manner in which this article was written

        Tone argument? Really?

        Why does every sociocultural minority have to put up with exactly the same kind of bullshit from allegedly ‘well-meaning’ allies?

        Instruction doesn’t come the way you order it, bub. 

      • http://twitter.com/Turtle_Dawn Crystal Dawn

        I believe you are missing the point. Star Foster is a highly respected member of the Pagan community. She didn’t get that respect over night. She earned it from being highly knowledgable about Paganism and her in depth discussions about international issues that effect the Pagan community. If she says you are wrong about something you better go back and check your sources because Star Foster knows what she is talking about.

        If you truly want to learn then you must be open to criticism from the experts in order to obtain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Though Star may say she is by no means an expert, she has years of experience, and for someone who is only days into studying I’d say that ought to be good enough for you.

        Just my 2 cents.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          Wow, I think you think more of my capability than I do, but I really appreciate the compliment. Thank you! Made my day!

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000451145781 MrsBs Confessions

          I wish I could “like” CDWilliams comment more than once.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

          I agree about Star’s work in general.  However, this post/rant was entirely lacking in the thoughtfulness that we have all come to expect from Star. 

          • Rua Lupa

            She did call it a “rant” though. So it was really just “vent time” from how I interpreted it, and therefore not intended to be constructive. Just to get whats nagging at the back of your head to come out, even if it is not coherent.

            This is surprisingly something that I like to see now and then because it shows what someone with a certain background thinks and feels about certain things in honesty, even if they are wrong in any way.

            In this case, I see it as a vent that shouldn’t be taken entirely to heart, but strictly to thought. This is one person’s personal take on the matter, and it takes a fair amount of courage to be willing to put yourself out there in that way.

            Should you take offense? I don’t think so. Just take it with a nod and consider possible valid points brought up. There really shouldn’t be any criticism for someone being honest with how they feel. Its like a healing circle, people need to vent and that helps them get past the hurts and clear the mind to see more clearly afterwards. The people listening are there to listen and not judge or comment even. Having such personal vents on such a public format is bound to have responses every which way, so Star should expect no less. But everyone else should also realize that this is true, honest feelings someone is sharing and it should be respected for that honesty. Even if it offends, as everyone offends and is offended sometime or another. If you are offended by a personal vent, first ask yourself why before considering responding. If you receive a response to your personal vent, it is easy to feel attacked regardless of the content in the response, because it was very personal to you.

            Such a public setting for a vent will get dirty because it is not in a healing circle, that is the nature of the beast. Both the venter and listener should then be conscious of their exchanges.

            As such, I expect a more constructive post from Star on a later date on this subject as this Conversion Project continues, because any striking news will get hackles up and this was obviously striking to her. And Star usually has updates on these things as non-rants and are very informative. A quick look through her blog history will express this well.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

            I see she already has!

          • http://twitter.com/Turtle_Dawn Crystal Dawn

            I think it is an excellent and personal piece. When something is extremely personal like this, it is easy for emotion to carry you off. I don’t think she let it do that, though, you can see that is what fueled the fire so to speak.

      • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

        So a read is only “honest” if he’s apparently brown-nosing you? Also, you have several people telling you that your mentor’s “experience” is not as much as you and her apparently want to think it is. You don’t get to tell experienced Wiccans and other pagans what an “experienced mentor” looks like.

  • Amanda

    Woah there! Live and let live girlie. I am honestly impressed by his tenacity. How many people could completely submerge themselves in a culture for 30 days and then change? it seems to me like it would be pretty difficult. And slander? what slander? everything he said or wrote, is exactly what we have been teaching and taught since the beginning of our paths. “what works for you use…” Slow down on the judgement Star, it’s excactly what you are fighting against. 

    • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

      “Girlie”? Wow, way to dismiss somebody.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

      I agree.  Star you may well be alienating a good percentage of your audience.  You may have recently made the conversion to trad-craft, but you must recognize you are in the minority, and I believe most of us adopt the “do what works for you” mindset to one degree one or another.

  • Amanda

    Woah there! Live and let live girlie. I am honestly impressed by his tenacity. How many people could completely submerge themselves in a culture for 30 days and then change? it seems to me like it would be pretty difficult. And slander? what slander? everything he said or wrote, is exactly what we have been teaching and taught since the beginning of our paths. “what works for you use…” Slow down on the judgement Star, it’s excactly what you are fighting against. 

    • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

      “Girlie”? Wow, way to dismiss somebody.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

      I agree.  Star you may well be alienating a good percentage of your audience.  You may have recently made the conversion to trad-craft, but you must recognize you are in the minority, and I believe most of us adopt the “do what works for you” mindset to one degree one or another.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

    Listen folks, I’ve presented my case. I can’t spend all day here because I have so precious little time with each faith each month and so much to learn. Conflicts like this is distracting from the process of healing and learning. I’m glad Star brought your attention to Project Conversion (even if it was a little harsh) because now you are privy to my honest attempt to understand at least a portion of the Pagan world. I invite you to join the journey, become my teachers, and help set the record straight in order to destroy the destructive ignorance that plagues so many religions. Here is a link to the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Conversion/168033533223699

    I hope you’ll all come along and help me see things from your point of view!

    Blessed be,

    Andrew Bowen

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I hope you do the research into each faith, which is your job, not your readers.

      • Deorling

        Honestly, I think you’re taking this way too harshly. When I listened to the podcast “The Pagan Hooligans” everyone seemed to cheer them on and help them along with their path of discovery and their errors, but by your logic, they should’ve been doing more research before attempting to talk about it because people unfamiliar with the path would get the wrong impression listening to their episodes.

        Honestly everyone in every path in the beginning will make mistakes, especially if they’re new. Even when people go to college with all the information available around them, a student still make mistakes. That’s the reason they are there. It’s the reason we form communities, forums, blogs. We do our research and then go to others to expand and to correct. To Learn.

        I can’t wait to see the harsh criticisms he’s going to receive when in his quest for knowledge he uses the wrong books for research. How often have I heard others scoff/put down beginner pagans/wiccans for using the wrong freaking book? The wrong source materials?

        I’m not Wiccan; I tend to follow more Recon paths but this attitude for someone who is immersing himself withing a community with this much honesty and enthusiasm seems a bit misplaced.

        • Cigfran

          If Andrew were on ‘a path’ some of this might be relevant.
          But he’s not.

          • Deorling

            Honestly now I’m curious if he got this much flak form Buddhists, Zoroastrians and the LDS church. I’m new to his project but I wouldn’t begrudge the guy for immersing himself into something as someone else’s faith.

          • Cigfran

            1 month dalliance before moving to the next unrelated thing is “immersion”?

          • Deorling

            Considering he does more than most people do in regards to a slight interest in other religions, I’d say yes. He does what the religion requires him to do, whether it be dress appropriately, prayer, rituals, meditations and reading of any material alongside being an active part of that community. By those standards when I considered myself a Buddhist in some part of my life I wasn’t. Same as when I discovered Asatru.  I might just be an online psuedo-pagan because I am not a part of a real community, nor do I do all required rituals and barely meditate,do prayers that the Hellenic groups/calendar holds. I’ve also never gone to a PPD in the past 10 years as a pagan.

            The BBC did a great special called Around the World in 80 Faiths, and I find this to be a variation of that.

          • Cigfran

            Ritual is not faith. Community is not faith. Faith is what’s in your heart. It’s how you view things, and how you choose to model that view. It is not a suite of clothes. It is skin.

            His ‘seeking’ comes across as affectation. Yours doesn’t.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

            Harsh!  So he shouldn’t even try?  Do you find no merit to what Andrew is doing?  Reading Andrew’s blog, I do not feel his project is “affectation”.  You may think he is misguided, but his intent seems pure.

            And how about some credit for just including “Wicca” among 12 other faiths worth investigating.  How often does Paganism or Wicca get left out of these projects entirely?

          • Rua Lupa

            I had a highly respected medicine man in the Anishinabek community tell us that, “intent is the most important thing.” So no matter what you are doing, so long as your intent is sincere, you are on the right track. If you do something that is different that the traditional way, that is okay, so long as you have good intentions. It is one of the most important lessons he has ever shared and you see mention of this lesson come up very often when ritual and ceremony is being done by others in the community. Yet, there are always friendly pointers along the way from those who know more, and they are always friendly and kind pointers because they acknowledge that person’s sincere intent in their practice.

          • Anonymous

            Good intentions? That’s incredibly naive.

          • Rua Lupa

            True. Good Intentions alone certainly would be naive. Being able to think critically should not be absent in this regard.

          • Cigfran

            John, nowhere did I say – nor, I believe, imply – that Bowen “shouldn’t even try.” He is of course free to sample whatever experience he likes, and write about it as he chooses. Similarly, I am free to assess what I can of his efforts based on those writings. My assessment is that his effort has little merit.

            Over the years I have seen many such ‘experiments’ where a person dallies for some time in one kind of exotic subculture or another. It’s a kind of mental safari, and I generally find it distasteful. I recommend to anyone who has any interest in Paganism to actually explore it, rather than hang on the reports from the wild of someone just passing through.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          So here’s the deal: he’s writing for a major religion site and he hasn’t bothered to do his due diligence. He may be getting paid for the posts he’s writing but I obviously don’t know the details of his contract with Bnet. The Pagan Hooligans are actual seekers. Andrew is “playing Wiccan” for a month, and he’s doing so with the endorsement of one of the largest religious sites around today. One that, I should add, hasn’t shown a great deal of concern for any stripe of Pagan in the past.

          • Rua Lupa

            “…he’s doing so with the endorsement of one of the largest religious
            sites around today. One that, I should add, hasn’t shown a great deal of
            concern for any stripe of Pagan in the past.”

            Then isn’t his insistence on learning about a Pagan path a good thing?

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I hope you do the research into each faith, which is your job, not your readers.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      Andrew, what will you be doing with the items that you handcrafted for your altar once you’ve ended this month and moved on to your next faith?

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      Cross-posting from FB:

      Hi, Andrew!I don’t generally read BeliefNet, due to their historical treatment of Pagan authors, and in fact only came across your project because of Star’s post.I have a few questions for you, if you don’t mind?You state in your “about” page for Project Conversion that you’re engaging in “12 months of spiritual promiscuity” in order to “enlighten and entertain” your audience about faiths other than their own.Do you find that calling it “spiritual promiscuity” starts the conversation off on the wrong foot?Where is it that you advertised looking for mentors?When you have concluded your month with Wicca, what are you planning to do with your handcrafted tools and decorations for your altar?Why are you including Shamanism in your exploration of Wicca?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Bowen/100000542373726 Andrew Bowen

    Listen folks, I’ve presented my case. I can’t spend all day here because I have so precious little time with each faith each month and so much to learn. Conflicts like this is distracting from the process of healing and learning. I’m glad Star brought your attention to Project Conversion (even if it was a little harsh) because now you are privy to my honest attempt to understand at least a portion of the Pagan world. I invite you to join the journey, become my teachers, and help set the record straight in order to destroy the destructive ignorance that plagues so many religions. Here is a link to the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Conversion/168033533223699

    I hope you’ll all come along and help me see things from your point of view!

    Blessed be,

    Andrew Bowen

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I hope you do the research into each faith, which is your job, not your readers.

      • Deorling

        Honestly, I think you’re taking this way too harshly. When I listened to the podcast “The Pagan Hooligans” everyone seemed to cheer them on and help them along with their path of discovery and their errors, but by your logic, they should’ve been doing more research before attempting to talk about it because people unfamiliar with the path would get the wrong impression listening to their episodes.

        Honestly everyone in every path in the beginning will make mistakes, especially if they’re new. Even when people go to college with all the information available around them, a student still make mistakes. That’s the reason they are there. It’s the reason we form communities, forums, blogs. We do our research and then go to others to expand and to correct. To Learn.

        I can’t wait to see the harsh criticisms he’s going to receive when in his quest for knowledge he uses the wrong books for research. How often have I heard others scoff/put down beginner pagans/wiccans for using the wrong freaking book? The wrong source materials?

        I’m not Wiccan; I tend to follow more Recon paths but this attitude for someone who is immersing himself withing a community with this much honesty and enthusiasm seems a bit misplaced.

        • Cigfran

          If Andrew were on ‘a path’ some of this might be relevant.
          But he’s not.

          • Deorling

            Honestly now I’m curious if he got this much flak form Buddhists, Zoroastrians and the LDS church. I’m new to his project but I wouldn’t begrudge the guy for immersing himself into something as someone else’s faith.

          • Cigfran

            1 month dalliance before moving to the next unrelated thing is “immersion”?

          • Deorling

            Considering he does more than most people do in regards to a slight interest in other religions, I’d say yes. He does what the religion requires him to do, whether it be dress appropriately, prayer, rituals, meditations and reading of any material alongside being an active part of that community. By those standards when I considered myself a Buddhist in some part of my life I wasn’t. Same as when I discovered Asatru.  I might just be an online psuedo-pagan because I am not a part of a real community, nor do I do all required rituals and barely meditate,do prayers that the Hellenic groups/calendar holds. I’ve also never gone to a PPD in the past 10 years as a pagan.

            The BBC did a great special called Around the World in 80 Faiths, and I find this to be a variation of that.

          • Cigfran

            Ritual is not faith. Community is not faith. Faith is what’s in your heart. It’s how you view things, and how you choose to model that view. It is not a suite of clothes. It is skin.

            His ‘seeking’ comes across as affectation. Yours doesn’t.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

            Harsh!  So he shouldn’t even try?  Do you find no merit to what Andrew is doing?  Reading Andrew’s blog, I do not feel his project is “affectation”.  You may think he is misguided, but his intent seems pure.

            And how about some credit for just including “Wicca” among 12 other faiths worth investigating.  How often does Paganism or Wicca get left out of these projects entirely?

          • Rua Lupa

            I had a highly respected medicine man in the Anishinabek community tell us that, “intent is the most important thing.” So no matter what you are doing, so long as your intent is sincere, you are on the right track. If you do something that is different that the traditional way, that is okay, so long as you have good intentions. It is one of the most important lessons he has ever shared and you see mention of this lesson come up very often when ritual and ceremony is being done by others in the community. Yet, there are always friendly pointers along the way from those who know more, and they are always friendly and kind pointers because they acknowledge that person’s sincere intent in their practice.

          • sindarintech

            Good intentions? That’s incredibly naive.

          • Rua Lupa

            True. Good Intentions alone certainly would be naive. Being able to think critically should not be absent in this regard.

          • Cigfran

            John, nowhere did I say – nor, I believe, imply – that Bowen “shouldn’t even try.” He is of course free to sample whatever experience he likes, and write about it as he chooses. Similarly, I am free to assess what I can of his efforts based on those writings. My assessment is that his effort has little merit.

            Over the years I have seen many such ‘experiments’ where a person dallies for some time in one kind of exotic subculture or another. It’s a kind of mental safari, and I generally find it distasteful. I recommend to anyone who has any interest in Paganism to actually explore it, rather than hang on the reports from the wild of someone just passing through.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          So here’s the deal: he’s writing for a major religion site and he hasn’t bothered to do his due diligence. He may be getting paid for the posts he’s writing but I obviously don’t know the details of his contract with Bnet. The Pagan Hooligans are actual seekers. Andrew is “playing Wiccan” for a month, and he’s doing so with the endorsement of one of the largest religious sites around today. One that, I should add, hasn’t shown a great deal of concern for any stripe of Pagan in the past.

          • Rua Lupa

            “…he’s doing so with the endorsement of one of the largest religious
            sites around today. One that, I should add, hasn’t shown a great deal of
            concern for any stripe of Pagan in the past.”

            Then isn’t his insistence on learning about a Pagan path a good thing?

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      Andrew, what will you be doing with the items that you handcrafted for your altar once you’ve ended this month and moved on to your next faith?

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      Cross-posting from FB:

      Hi, Andrew!I don’t generally read BeliefNet, due to their historical treatment of Pagan authors, and in fact only came across your project because of Star’s post.

      I have a few questions for you, if you don’t mind?

      You state in your “about” page for Project Conversion that you’re engaging in “12 months of spiritual promiscuity” in order to “enlighten and entertain” your audience about faiths other than their own.

      Do you find that calling it “spiritual promiscuity” starts the conversation off on the wrong foot?

      Where is it that you advertised looking for mentors?

      When you have concluded your month with Wicca, what are you planning to do with your handcrafted tools and decorations for your altar?

      Why are you including Shamanism in your exploration of Wicca?

      (edited to correct white space issues.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/danjjensen Dan Jensen

    Yeow! So much anger! Is this the kind of mindframe that Wicca nurtures? Is this how one ought to guide the misinformed?

    • Cigfran

      Yes, Wicca – and other pagan expressions – does nurture critical thinking and honest assessment.

    • Justathought

      I absolutely agree with you Dan. From someone who knows very little about Wicca and was looking forward to learning more this month, I’m now not so sure that I want to learn about a faith in which its followers are so harsh and unwilling to teach outsiders.

      • http://twitter.com/DKsan Divyesh Mistry

        Wicca is generally a closed faith. Why would they want to teach outsiders if the outsiders are only going to dip in for a month?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000451145781 MrsBs Confessions

        Many Wiccans (and Pagans in general) are very willing to teach people who come to them with questions.  What we are unwilling to do is keep our opinions to ourselves when someone “plays” a path of Wicca based on who they can find closest by that is willing to take them on for a month.

        The fact that Andrew is “playing” shaman at the same time as he’s being introduced to the Fey path goes to show that he’s not taking it very seriously.  

        • Rua Lupa

          What if he finds himself more interested after this experience and then takes it on more seriously because of it? With that potential, shouldn’t there be more support for someone who at least shows interest? They could of not even considered this path in their journey, but consider it they did and they want to experience what it is. Don’t you want others to experience the amazing and fulfilling things in your path?

          • Danacorby

            Good question, Rua, but as a traditional Wiccan, my answer is “Not particularly.” If someone is genuinely called of the Gods to seek Them via Wicca, I welcome them. But I — and I daresay most Wiccans — am thoroughly tired of ‘tourists.’ I agree with Star that had Andrew done any research, rather than just putting up a ‘help wanted’ sign, his month in Wicca might have been a bit more meaningful. And I agree with the other posters who find it more than a little distasteful that he chose the stereotypical October for his romp through Wicca.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

        I agree.  What we need from spokespersons like Star is a more measured and thoughtful response.  This rant does not reflect well on the Pagan community.

        • Anonymous

          John, you seem to have a lot to say. Might I suggest that you take on the role of ‘spokesperson’ so that you can ensure it’s ‘done right’?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

            If Pathos (“Balanced Views of Religion and Spirituality with Faith”) were ever to pick up my blog, then I would consider my role quite differently.  Star is not just any Pagan.  She is a spokesperson, and the consequences of personal rants should be weighed.

          • Anonymous

            Then perhaps we have differing opinions about what we read on the internet. I’ve never considered Star’s blog to have greater import than anyone elses. They’re *her* opinions… and sometimes I find them insightful, sometimes not so much… just like anyone elses. The same can be said about Jason on the Wild Hunt. They’re opinions.

            I think you *choose* to consider her to be a spokesperson because it’s easier for you to attack her opinions. That’s often a strategy used to control (and dismiss objections of) the target.

            Get a life.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

            It is naive to suggest that people like Star and Jason, who have drawn the limelight so to speak, do not have certain responsibilities to the Pagan community generally. 

            Star’s rant against someone else who is attempting (artfully or not) to lessen discrimination against minority religions is unhelpful and irresponsible.  As I have said above, I think her anger is the misplaced frustration of a trad-craft for eclectics.  I know she has denied this accusation, but her rant sounds exactly like so many similar rants we have heard from traditionalists against eclectics. 

            If you read Andrew’s post that Star complains about, you’ll see he actually does a good job of making the points that Wicca is extremely diverse and that he is only talking about one version of it.  What more do we expect?

  • http://www.facebook.com/danjjensen Dan Jensen

    Yeow! So much anger! Is this the kind of mindframe that Wicca nurtures? Is this how one ought to guide the misinformed?

    • Cigfran

      Yes, Wicca – and other pagan expressions – does nurture critical thinking and honest assessment.

    • Justathought

      I absolutely agree with you Dan. From someone who knows very little about Wicca and was looking forward to learning more this month, I’m now not so sure that I want to learn about a faith in which its followers are so harsh and unwilling to teach outsiders.

      • http://twitter.com/DKsan Divyesh Mistry

        Wicca is generally a closed faith. Why would they want to teach outsiders if the outsiders are only going to dip in for a month?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000451145781 MrsBs Confessions

        Many Wiccans (and Pagans in general) are very willing to teach people who come to them with questions.  What we are unwilling to do is keep our opinions to ourselves when someone “plays” a path of Wicca based on who they can find closest by that is willing to take them on for a month.

        The fact that Andrew is “playing” shaman at the same time as he’s being introduced to the Fey path goes to show that he’s not taking it very seriously.  

        • Rua Lupa

          What if he finds himself more interested after this experience and then takes it on more seriously because of it? With that potential, shouldn’t there be more support for someone who at least shows interest? They could of not even considered this path in their journey, but consider it they did and they want to experience what it is. Don’t you want others to experience the amazing and fulfilling things in your path?

          • Danacorby

            Good question, Rua, but as a traditional Wiccan, my answer is “Not particularly.” If someone is genuinely called of the Gods to seek Them via Wicca, I welcome them. But I — and I daresay most Wiccans — am thoroughly tired of ‘tourists.’ I agree with Star that had Andrew done any research, rather than just putting up a ‘help wanted’ sign, his month in Wicca might have been a bit more meaningful. And I agree with the other posters who find it more than a little distasteful that he chose the stereotypical October for his romp through Wicca.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

        I agree.  What we need from spokespersons like Star is a more measured and thoughtful response.  This rant does not reflect well on the Pagan community.

        • sindarintech

          John, you seem to have a lot to say. Might I suggest that you take on the role of ‘spokesperson’ so that you can ensure it’s ‘done right’?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

            If Pathos (“Balanced Views of Religion and Spirituality with Faith”) were ever to pick up my blog, then I would consider my role quite differently.  Star is not just any Pagan.  She is a spokesperson, and the consequences of personal rants should be weighed.

          • sindarintech

            Then perhaps we have differing opinions about what we read on the internet. I’ve never considered Star’s blog to have greater import than anyone elses. They’re *her* opinions… and sometimes I find them insightful, sometimes not so much… just like anyone elses. The same can be said about Jason on the Wild Hunt. They’re opinions.

            I think you *choose* to consider her to be a spokesperson because it’s easier for you to attack her opinions. That’s often a strategy used to control (and dismiss objections of) the target.

            Get a life.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

            It is naive to suggest that people like Star and Jason, who have drawn the limelight so to speak, do not have certain responsibilities to the Pagan community generally. 

            Star’s rant against someone else who is attempting (artfully or not) to lessen discrimination against minority religions is unhelpful and irresponsible.  As I have said above, I think her anger is the misplaced frustration of a trad-craft for eclectics.  I know she has denied this accusation, but her rant sounds exactly like so many similar rants we have heard from traditionalists against eclectics. 

            If you read Andrew’s post that Star complains about, you’ll see he actually does a good job of making the points that Wicca is extremely diverse and that he is only talking about one version of it.  What more do we expect?

  • Teachermldz

    Lighten up, Star! Geez – the man has done a great service to those of us who are not familiar with the myriad of faiths the world has to offer!  IF you had been following him from the beginning like many of us have, you would see that his intent is not to be the be all, end all researcher of each faith in it’s entirety, but to actually “walk a mile” in someone else’s traditions and share it with us to give us new perspective and appreciation in a way most of us cannot take the time to do.  We know going in that it isn’t a complete and in depth study, it’s an introduction, an invitation to conversation and a way to meet many, many other people who are of like curious mind.
    I am one of the “followers” who is quite ambivalent about this month because I don’t know enough about paganism to not be leery of the stereotypes. Andrew really has done a great service and his intention is pure – to educate, do unify and to dialogue – which is exactly what he has done. Why don’t you join us and help us understand your point of view instead of vilifying a perfectly wonderful young seeker who is sharing his experience and curiosity????
    Pax

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I will totally lighten up and drink the Koolaid. Thanks for the offer.

      • Shula Burns

        Is the snark really necessary? It’s unbecoming, and comes off as defensive rather than clever.

    • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

      When did the onus to educate oneself about the world shift from an individual endeavor to following some guy on the internet. You know a very simple way of learning about other religions? How about talking with people who are members of those religions?

      Mr. Bowen has at least gone to the effort of doing this much; maybe you’d be better informed if you followed his lead and struck up a conversation?

  • Teachermldz

    Lighten up, Star! Geez – the man has done a great service to those of us who are not familiar with the myriad of faiths the world has to offer!  IF you had been following him from the beginning like many of us have, you would see that his intent is not to be the be all, end all researcher of each faith in it’s entirety, but to actually “walk a mile” in someone else’s traditions and share it with us to give us new perspective and appreciation in a way most of us cannot take the time to do.  We know going in that it isn’t a complete and in depth study, it’s an introduction, an invitation to conversation and a way to meet many, many other people who are of like curious mind.
    I am one of the “followers” who is quite ambivalent about this month because I don’t know enough about paganism to not be leery of the stereotypes. Andrew really has done a great service and his intention is pure – to educate, do unify and to dialogue – which is exactly what he has done. Why don’t you join us and help us understand your point of view instead of vilifying a perfectly wonderful young seeker who is sharing his experience and curiosity????
    Pax

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I will totally lighten up and drink the Koolaid. Thanks for the offer.

      • Shula Burns

        Is the snark really necessary? It’s unbecoming, and comes off as defensive rather than clever.

    • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

      When did the onus to educate oneself about the world shift from an individual endeavor to following some guy on the internet. You know a very simple way of learning about other religions? How about talking with people who are members of those religions?

      Mr. Bowen has at least gone to the effort of doing this much; maybe you’d be better informed if you followed his lead and struck up a conversation?

  • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

    Ouch! Since I read both Star and Andrew this one hurts.

    Project Conversion is a fun interfaith project. Accusations of superficiality sort of miss the point. Of course it’s not going to have the depth of a lifelong commitment. Of course. But it is getting a bunch of people to consider traditions other than their own, and learn a little about them. Case in point, last month when Andrew was a Sikh, I learned so much I never would have learned otherwise.

    It’s very interesting to me that of all the traditions on Andrew’s schedule, Wicca is the one for which he’s gotten the most stridently negative comments. That speaks volumes about the stereotypes and assumptions out there. I’m confident from what I’ve seen thus far that Andrew will do far more good than harm thru his efforts.

    Of course he will make some missteps. By all means bring your criticisms, but why not frame those constructively? If you can invest a little time in the community that’s grown around this project you’ll also find a great opportunity for sharing your perspectives with others who know little or nothing about contemporary paganism.

    I would encourage all who identify as Wiccan or Pagan to welcome Andrew with the hospitality you’d offer a true seeker. It may be “play” in some sense but at a deeper level I think this is a sincere exploration of spirituality, religion and humanity.

    • Cigfran

      Know many Sikh jokes? See a lot of crappy stereotypes about Sikhs promoted by bad television and infantile memes?

      Yeah, neither do I.

      Paganism in general – and certainly Wicca in particular, as well many other expressions – already has to deal with the perception of ‘superficiality’ on the part of non-practitioners. The idea that you can perform the woo-woo and ‘be’ a pagan educates no one.

      If he were a ‘true seeker’ – if it weren’t already evident that in the next month he’ll slough off the trappings of Wicca and move on to his next playground – he might be offered some sincere hospitality.

      But why does he need it? He’s already made it clear that he’s only open to a very limited range of input. 

      • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

        Sikhs may not have to endure as much bad TV, but there is plenty of persecution to go around. Remember Balbir Singh Sodi?

        • Cigfran

          I wasn’t talking about persecution. Don’t feed into the ‘persecution complex’ stereotype. I was talking about common cultural representation and perception.

          Try again?

          • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

            Oops, you’re right. My bad. I see the distinction now.

            You may also be right that Wicca is exceptional in this regard. Clearly I don’t see it that way, but then I’m not Wiccan. I’ve admired and studied Wicca from the outside for some time now, but I’m not a practitioner. So I acknowledge that I could be wrong about this. But I hope that I am not.

          • http://twitter.com/ashareem HR Mitchell

            Let me give you another perspective. 

            Remember the television programs ‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys’ and ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’? Remember their treatment of the Gods of antiquity? Remember the Hindu community outrage over the treatment of their Gods as fictional beings? 

            Many Wiccans (and other Pagans) have similar feelings about the depiction of their beliefs as part of the entertainment industry.

            Dipping one’s toes into the waters of any faith for a limited time does nothing to really dispel any ignorance, however well-intended the dip may be.

          • Pbrarian

            “Persecution complex”? Good one.

            Balbir Singh Sodhi had a “get murdered complex”.

      • Pbrarian

        Sikh jokes? Sure, for one, look up ‘Sardar ji’ jokes – a whole genre of jokes designed to belittle Sikhs or play up stereotypes.

        While you’re at it, ask any identifiable Sikh student about the Taliban jokes he has to hear in school. Funny stuff.

        • Cigfran

          You have misunderstood me. Deliberately, I suspect.

          In the first instance, I was referring to the tendency to view pagans as carriers of a persecution complex, and to focus on that to the exclusion of other cultural contexts. Editor B understood the reference… why you didn’t is beyond me. In any case the comment had nothing whatever to do with the murders of Sikhs or Pagans and in fact was meant to specifically indicate that, partly to get past the whole ‘oppression olympics’ thing.

          In the second instance, the general point of my comments (and those of many others in this thread) is that Paganism in general – and Wicca specifically, insofar as it conflated with ‘witches’ – is commonly viewed as *absurd*. There is no relation at all between this view and the lamentable fact that Sikhs are mistaken for militant Muslims and painted as potential terrorists by the fearful and ignorant.

          In short, your responses, while significant in their own context, had absolutely nothing to do with the context in which they were made.

          • Pbrarian

            I took your comments at face-value, as I read them, and have no interest in deliberately misconstruing what you wrote. Editor B’s comments did not inform my comments; however, after reading them, I would have come to the same conclusion I did in my initial posts.

            That said, I have had very little exposure to Wicca, Wiccan philosophy, history, organizational structures, lifestyle(s), stereotypes etc. This, perhaps, is one reason I didn’t catch the drift of your comments.

          • Cigfran

            Fair enough.
            Shake?

        • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

          There is a difference between “faith is what you make of it” and “make it up as you go along.” The latter were Star’s words, not his.

    • Anonymous

      CORRECTION: Andrew was NOT a Sikh. He was going through the motions required to pretend to be a Sikh. In other words, he was playing dress-up and having tea with his favorite stufffed animals.

      Any real Sikh would have told him to remove his turban or get his head lopped off for insulting the Sikh religion.

      • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

        Fair enough. I think I get what you (and Star) are saying about “playing” Sikh or “playing” Wiccan. I think that’s the fundamental disconnect on which I’d like to plead for your reconsideration. I just don’t see this sort of play as bad. The world needs more play. If we all took a month or even a day to play at being someone else we would have more understanding, which seems a good thing to me.

        • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

          I think the problem is, though, that part of what people believe about us is that our religion *is* play.  

          • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

            Hm, I see what you mean. No one ever accuses Lutherans of just playing at religion. Most of the Pagans I have met have a very playful attitude which is part of what has drawn me to paganism. But I do understand what you’re saying.

          • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

            A playful attitude is very different than playacting at being a part of a spiritual path or practice.

          • Syna

            I was thinking of bringing up this point to Andrew myself. No other religion he’s studied, with the possible exception of LDS, is ever accused of not being “really real.” He is probably not aware of this, perhaps not being aware of the nuances surrounding the cultural context of Wicca.

          • Rua Lupa

            Would not being aware of all the negative accusations be something that is a good start to understanding the real aspects of a belief and therefore sharing a more accurate view?

        • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

          I think the problem is, though, that part of what people believe about us is that our religion *is* play.  

        • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

          Fair enough. I think I get what you (and Star) are saying about
          “playing” Sikh or “playing” Wiccan. I think that’s the fundamental
          disconnect on which I’d like to plead for your reconsideration. I just
          don’t see this sort of play as bad. The world needs more play.

          The problem isn’t “play” in and of itself, it’s that the average outsider to pagan religions is of the opinion and impression that pagan religions are nothing more than play:  Reconstructionists are like Renn Faire employees, only for an earlier time, who “believe” in what’s basically fairy tales; Wiccans are like the kids so immersed in make-believe they believe they have super-powers like on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed; other pagans are just making it up as they go along as an extension of kinkysex or polyamoury or furry fandom or whatever.  Star’s very rant should be evidence enough that the average person believes that Wicca is nothing but “playing” and not actually a religious path valid of the same respect of any other.  As a nonner, you don’t experience that, so you think any publicity is “good publicity”, even and especially if it’s given at the time of the year when people are most-inclined to believe that pagan religions, and especially Wicca, are nothing but teenagers and young adults stuck in a mode of childhood make-believe — and because you don’t experience that, you don’t get to say which “play” is OK in regard to learning about pagan religions; you don’t even get to have an opinion on it, cos you’re simply not directly affected by it.

          • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

            Not to complicate matters, but I never said I wasn’t pagan. I wanted to be open about the fact that I’m not Wiccan. I think I do indeed get to have an opinion with regard to “learning about pagan religions” generally, because that is what I’ve been doing for the past few years. At the same time, I respect the those who are committed to specific established traditions may see this very differently, for the reasons you describe. However, I wonder how far this goes. Since Andrew is practicing Fey Wicca this month, does anyone outside that very specific tradition “get to have an opinion”? Why should a Gardnerian (for example) sit in judgment over Fey?

          • Danacorby

            No one is ‘sitting in Judgment over Fey’ beyond the true statement that it is not representative of the practices and beliefs of most other Wicca Trads.

          • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

            Since Andrew is practicing Fey Wicca this month, does anyone outside
            that very specific tradition “get to have an opinion”? Why should a
            Gardnerian (for example) sit in judgment over Fey?

            I’m sure there are people who will contest that his half-ditched play-acting is even “practising”, but considering that even in this very thread, he’s used language that conflates Wicca with all pagan religions, that he’s worded things so vaguely in describing “Fey Wicca” practises that is sure as hell looks like he’s attempting to speak for all Wicca, then yes, clearly people outside “Fey Wicca” get to have a say, especially considering that two of the Top 10 websites in a Google search for “Fey Wicca” are Project Conversion pages and Star Foster’s post here, it’s pretty clear that “Fey Wicca” is enough of an unknown path that it’s hardly representitive — yet this is his goal, to give something simple yet fairly representitive.  It’s pretty obvious they he didn’t really do any research, yet still puts on pretentions that he can speak fairly for Wicca and other pagan religions.

      • Justathought

        What about the gurudwara he was ASKED to speak in?? Are those not “real” Sikhs? A “real” sikh gave him a turban and taught him to tie it. That same “real” Sikh invited taught him and invited him to attend service at the gurudwara numerous times last month. Get your facts straight before making comments like this.

      • Syna

        He interacted extensively with real Sikhs, who told him no such thing, and were grateful he was attempting to try to to understand them as intimately as possible. But I may be biased: like certain Hindu traditions, and Shakespeare, I think that “play-acting” is deeply sacred.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      I think that part of the problem Andrew may be having in reception from some parts of the Wiccan community, in particular, may be stemming from his choice of October for his month with Wicca.  Every October, Wiccans get to look forward to the media rehashing “Meet the Witches”, with the same tired tropes, the same apologetics, the same denials of Satanism and so on.  To see someone claiming that they’re going to become Wiccan for a month and explore it from the inside… in October… well, it’s going to result in some folks feeling belittled and that their faith, for which they have literally shed blood, sweat and tears for, is being treated as a lark.  Especially when it starts out with 80% or more of the usual Wicca 99 that we see in such “meet the Witches!” treatments in the media.  (No, it’s not even Wicca 101.  It’s remedial Wicca.  ;)  )

      On top of that, there are a number of us who have been engaging in prolonged battles of social and legal activism in attempting to achieve equal rights and recognition.  There are many of us who have lost jobs because of our faith.  Lost marriages.  Lost children in a divorce.  Who have fought to keep from losing their homes and temples.  Who struggled to get our fallen soldiers the right to have the symbol of their faith depicted on their memorial stones, rather than the symbol of the faith of the majority.  Andrew’s *specific* choice of Wiccan path, tied to the prominence (to non-Wiccans, specifically) of his post may be causing some people to feel that he is belittling that struggle — and their faith.  Further, that his series may confirm for those of his readers who belong to the religious majority that Wiccans don’t take their faith seriously, that we’re not a “real religion” and like we all just make it all up as we go along.

      That would be what a lot of folk might deem … less than helpful.

      • Teachermldz

        Well, Aine, I sort of see your point. But one of the things I’ve appreciated about Andrew is that he has chosen months with major holidays in them (if possible) for each faith. He has already explained above that he chose October because of Samhain.  Sadly, I think no matter what month he had chosen paganism, he would have caught flack because people are just that narrow minded about it – especially Wicca.  But I also think it’s valuable to do it this month because it will help break many of the stereotypes when more people are paying attention. I hope that people will participate and contribute constructively this month.  I have new appreciation for all the faiths he has profiled and would like to leave October with a good feeling about this one too.

        • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

          I’m glad that you’re getting so much out of the exercise.

          What a lot of us would like you to understand is the fact that many of us would rather that, if non-Wiccans wanted to understand Wicca, they come ask an actual Wiccan.  Not some dude on the intarwebz that found some random person calling themselves Wiccan who was willing to participate in what essentially boils down to playing “let’s pretend” and then makes a big show of how we should all be so grateful that he’s teaching others about our faith.

          The amount of privilege he’s displaying — and the amount that the lot of you barreling over here to defend what he’s doing are displaying is one of the reasons the welcome you’re all receiving is as cold as it is.

          If you want to read his posts wherein he dresses up like a Witch and reassure yourself that you understand what Wiccans believe, it’s no skin off my nose — until you’re a hospital chaplain denying me access to minister to a sick member of my church, or a judge taking my children away in a divorce because what *I* practice isn’t the Wicca Andrew told you about, or a prison chaplain trying to insist that Wiccan prisoners don’t need access to certain tools because, after all, Andrew didn’t say Wiccans used cauldrons, or wands, or herbs or whatever else he might leave out.  

          It’s not as if we’re hard to find on the internet.  Heck, I’ve had three students of comparative religion and one sociology grad student get in touch with my co-priest and me to come observe one of our rituals and ask questions just in the last year.  And we’re in backwoods rural Michigan.

          • Rua Lupa

            What of the pagan teachings of hospitality toward people of any background, regardless of their circumstance of entering?

          • David Kees

            A distinction could be made between hospitality and education, but you have a point…

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            The rules of hospitality are for both the guest and the host.  When the guest is disrespectful, discourteous or a burden on the host, the host has no obligation to continue granting hospitality.  

            In an effort to be more hospitable to Andrew, I bimbled over to FB and engaged him in conversation.  I asked him some questions, and tried to help him understand where some of the vitriol he’s being met with might be coming from.

            Unfortunately, his responses fair oozed with privilege and made it abundantly clear that, unless we applaud his every word and thank him for including our faith in his project, he’s going to feel like we’re back-biting, hostile and viperous.

            I really don’t see much point to carrying on conversation at that point, do you?

          • Rua Lupa

            I read the dialogue and didn’t like what I saw. Not on his side, but yours. Everything that he wrote in response to you were answers given in goodwill. There was no assistance on your end, just accusations of wrong doing on his end. You seemed to have read too much into his words and felt a personal attack when one wasn’t there.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

        I think we need to ask whether Andrew’s work is likely to make it more or less difficult to be Wiccan/Pagan.  Will our children and our jobs be more or less safe from persecution?  It seems to me that Andrews work is helping our cause in that regard.  It is the nature of his Project that he will not get into the profundities of the practice.  That is true of his treatment of all the faiths he has covered.  I disagree that his treatment of Wicca calls into question whether it is a “real” religion.  I think you may, like Star, may be projecting your own judgments of eclectic Wicca.  Is eclectic Wicca not a “real religion” in your mind?  I would not be surprised if you had similar condemnation of 99% of eclectics.

        • Matricharia

          As I’ve been reading this post the thing that I’m curious about is this. I wonder if Andrew took into consideration the struggle that Wiccans have to have their religion recognized when he made that statement about it not being a real religion. I do understand the negative response that Wiccans are having just because of that statement.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

            Whoa! Andrew did NOT say Wicca is not a real religion.  *Star* interpreted the quotes from Andrews teacher (taken out of context) as describing a practice which *in Star’s opinion* is not a real religion.  Go check out what Andrew really said.  http://blog.beliefnet.com/projectconversion/2011/10/andrew-bowen-wiccan-edition.html  You may find the contrast with Star’s post interesting. 

    • kenneth

      It’s a damn delicate business trying to engage a religion in a lighthearted manner without being flip about it. That’s especially true when you’re coming at it as an outsider. I think he has the right idea in trying to keep a light topical treatment of the subject because there’s no way to do it justice in a month and even very nuanced and scholarly folks stir up a storm when they propose to define “what Wicca is” even with tons of disclaimers. 

      There IS an element of truth to his characterization. Wicca, and more generally pagan paths in general, ARE, in large part, a self-directed path of discovery and experiential rather than highly dogmatic and liturgical faiths.

       On the other hand, implying that we have no structure or form whatever is a very touchy thing. One of the biggest headaches we have with popular culture, apart from the Satanism thing, is the accusation that we are all just goth kids playing dress-up in the woods and making it all up as we go along. Being written off that way is really more insulting than being called evil. Compounding the problem is an industry of authors and publishers who have pandered to that stereotype of “Wicca is anything you want it to be.”  That in turn draws a lot of immature and irresponsible people into our ranks and touched off fairly destructive in-fighting about who is a “real” Wiccan vs a “fluffy bunny.” It’s an un-winnable debate, but one that is rooted in some real concerns.

       Star has some valid points for sure, but also bear in mind where she’s coming from. She’s part of an initiatory traditional coven, and those folks are sort of the Hasidim of Wicca. They’re serious folk who aren’t quite comfortable with 90% of practicing Wiccans calling themselves such, let alone some dude trying to do it as performance art or as a sort of theological restaurant review. 

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        She’s part of an initiatory traditional coven, and those folks are sort
        of the Hasidim of Wicca. They’re serious folk who aren’t quite
        comfortable with 90% of practicing Wiccans calling themselves such

        Can you document that the majority of members of initiatory traditional covens “aren’t quite
        comfortable with 90% of practicing Wiccans calling themselves such”?  That has not been my experience at all.

        • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

          Based on some of the statements from people on LiveJournal and similar social sites with a prominent and easy-to-find population of Traditional Wiccans, it’s an easy enough thought to infer from the evidence available.

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            I asked for evidence of a *majority*, not merely instantiation.  I know that there are initiates of trad covens that argue this position.  But I think that they are the outspoken minority, not representative of the majority. 

            Please note, I’m one of the people who speaks out frequently to encourage people to use other terms than “Wicca” for non-initiatory Craft, but I’m convinced that I’m in the minority.  Certainly, the majority of my coven-mates don’t agree with me, and neither does the Alexandrian 3* in town.  And my primary motive is not because I think Wicca is so special, but because I believe that so long as people use “Wicca” as the generic term, everything will be judged against the Gardnerian yardstick.

            Disclaimer:  My primary Craft, ContraryWise is distinctly non-Wiccan and came into being when I–a book-learned Witch–started training some other people so I’d have someone to circle with.  I had no intention of founding a lineage or a distinct approach to the Craft.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

      I agree.  If Star had put half the time into her response that Andrew is putting into his work, we would be having a much more constructive conversation.  I think a huge part of the problem here is that Star is in the middle of her own transition to a very specific, and very exclusive form of Wicca, and Andrew is studying a more open form of Wicca that Star has personal misgivings about.  Nothing Andrew wrote suggests that Wicca is not a “real religion.”  On the other hand, Stars comments seem to imply that *she* believes that eclectic Wicca is not a real religion.  Her criticisms of Andrew are a condemnation of the real, practicing, eclectic Wiccan who is teaching Andrew and the many, many others who are like her.  This is just part and parcel of the old “what is a real witch/wiccan” versus “fluffy bunny” debate.  Star had a real opportunity to advance this conversation and I am disappointed she has dropped the ball.  The 100+ comments to this post/rant are unfortunately not a substitute to a genuine discussion of the issues.

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        I don’t recall suggesting eclectic Wicca wasn’t “real Wicca” but I do recall saying Wicca isn’t a label to apply to whatever you invent for your personal religion. You seem to find it easier to paint me as an elitist snob than actually consider what I’m saying.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

          Star you *are* becoming part of a very “elite” part of Paganism — elitism goes with the territory.  I just think you need to be more aware that your own views may not be representative of Wicca generally, which is mostly eclectic, non-initiated solitaries.  Is it not possible that many Wiccans *will* resonate with what Andrew is describing?  And if so, are those Wiccans not Wiccan enough for you?

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            No one’s views are representative of Wicca generally. No one’s views are representative of Paganism generally. However, the majority of Wiccans, eclectic self-dedicated solitaries included, do not just make things up and call them Wicca. I think you do solitaries a disservice by implying they are as ignorant as Andrew.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

            “My Mentor stressed the importance of
            Wicca’s exploratory nature in general, 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.”Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/projectconversion/2011/10/andrew-bowen-wiccan-edition.html#ixzz1Zw1KiLcB

            Do you really think he is saying Wicca is all made up?

          • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

            It’s very easy to infer that’s what he meant.

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            I think it’s worth taking note that Star was an eclectic, non-initiated solitary for about a decade.  I don’t think she will suddenly have all memory of her previous experiences wiped from her mind at her initiation.  I certainly didn’t.  I still identify the Craft style that I and some other book-learned Witches developed as my primary Craft, even though I have been an initiate in a lineaged coven for over a decade. 

            I think both Star and I will always be straddling the fence anytime anyone tries to divide all Craft neatly into “traditional” vs. “eclectic”.  And the bigger the chasm people try to make between them, the more uncomfortable I get.  After all, my legs only stretch so far and I don’t want to fall into the dark chasm.  That always goes badly in movies.

            If there is an elite in modern paganism (and I think there is), it is those who are experienced, erudite, and reflexive.  And members of that elite show up all over paganism, including in both eclectic Craft and trad Craft.

          • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

            Star you *are* becoming part of a very “elite” part of Paganism — elitism goes with the territory.

            I think you’re projecting much.  There’s a pretty significant difference between being part of an elite group and being an elitist.  Being part of an elite group is joining MENSA or Triple Nine Society because you have an IQ score that qualifies.  Being an elistist is assuming that because your IQ score is that high, then everybody whose IQ isn’t is therefore mentally handicapped, even those whose own scores are still significantly above average, just a point or two too low to join a high-IQ society.  I’ve never once seen Star claim that Popular Wicca, being different enough from Traditional Wicca schools, is therefore Not Wicca.  In fact, I’ve seen her use the two terms when speaking of Wicca and other pagan religions in general.

        • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

          I didn’t get the implication that “Popular/Eclectic Wicca ≠ Real Wicca” from your post at all; in fact, I can easily recall instances where you refer to “Popular Wicca” and “Traditional Wicca”, as if the two main branches are somewhat related, but inherently different.  It’s like when people were making a stink five years ago or whatever, when Pluto was re-classified as a Dwarf Planet in the Juiper Belt; the language alone suggests that Pluto is still, technically, a plentary object, just not one significant enough in size or relative distance to the rest of the primary objects in the Helios solar system.  Ergo, Popular Wica is enough like Traditional Wicca to be called such in general terms, but there are enough significant differences between Popular/Eclectic and Traditional schools for the slight but telling differences in language; the Traditional schools, which each different from each-other, are also sharing more similarities with each-other than with the Wicca as practised by Popular or Eclectic schools.

          …at least this is the understanding I’ve come to as an outsider.

      • Cara

        So are you claiming to be a mind-reader or a psychologist?  Either way, you’re not very good at it.

  • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

    Ouch! Since I read both Star and Andrew this one hurts.

    Project Conversion is a fun interfaith project. Accusations of superficiality sort of miss the point. Of course it’s not going to have the depth of a lifelong commitment. Of course. But it is getting a bunch of people to consider traditions other than their own, and learn a little about them. Case in point, last month when Andrew was a Sikh, I learned so much I never would have learned otherwise.

    It’s very interesting to me that of all the traditions on Andrew’s schedule, Wicca is the one for which he’s gotten the most stridently negative comments. That speaks volumes about the stereotypes and assumptions out there. I’m confident from what I’ve seen thus far that Andrew will do far more good than harm thru his efforts.

    Of course he will make some missteps. By all means bring your criticisms, but why not frame those constructively? If you can invest a little time in the community that’s grown around this project you’ll also find a great opportunity for sharing your perspectives with others who know little or nothing about contemporary paganism.

    I would encourage all who identify as Wiccan or Pagan to welcome Andrew with the hospitality you’d offer a true seeker. It may be “play” in some sense but at a deeper level I think this is a sincere exploration of spirituality, religion and humanity.

    • Cigfran

      Know many Sikh jokes? See a lot of crappy stereotypes about Sikhs promoted by bad television and infantile memes?

      Yeah, neither do I.

      Paganism in general – and certainly Wicca in particular, as well many other expressions – already has to deal with the perception of ‘superficiality’ on the part of non-practitioners. The idea that you can perform the woo-woo and ‘be’ a pagan educates no one.

      If he were a ‘true seeker’ – if it weren’t already evident that in the next month he’ll slough off the trappings of Wicca and move on to his next playground – he might be offered some sincere hospitality.

      But why does he need it? He’s already made it clear that he’s only open to a very limited range of input. 

      • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

        Sikhs may not have to endure as much bad TV, but there is plenty of persecution to go around. Remember Balbir Singh Sodi?

        • Cigfran

          I wasn’t talking about persecution. Don’t feed into the ‘persecution complex’ stereotype. I was talking about common cultural representation and perception.

          Try again?

          • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

            Oops, you’re right. My bad. I see the distinction now.

            You may also be right that Wicca is exceptional in this regard. Clearly I don’t see it that way, but then I’m not Wiccan. I’ve admired and studied Wicca from the outside for some time now, but I’m not a practitioner. So I acknowledge that I could be wrong about this. But I hope that I am not.

          • http://twitter.com/ashareem HRM

            Let me give you another perspective. 

            Remember the television programs ‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys’ and ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’? Remember their treatment of the Gods of antiquity? Remember the Hindu community outrage over the treatment of their Gods as fictional beings? 

            Many Wiccans (and other Pagans) have similar feelings about the depiction of their beliefs as part of the entertainment industry.

            Dipping one’s toes into the waters of any faith for a limited time does nothing to really dispel any ignorance, however well-intended the dip may be.

          • Pbrarian

            “Persecution complex”? Good one.

            Balbir Singh Sodhi had a “get murdered complex”.

      • Pbrarian

        Sikh jokes? Sure, for one, look up ‘Sardar ji’ jokes – a whole genre of jokes designed to belittle Sikhs or play up stereotypes.

        While you’re at it, ask any identifiable Sikh student about the Taliban jokes he has to hear in school. Funny stuff.

        • Cigfran

          You have misunderstood me. Deliberately, I suspect.

          In the first instance, I was referring to the tendency to view pagans as carriers of a persecution complex, and to focus on that to the exclusion of other cultural contexts. Editor B understood the reference… why you didn’t is beyond me. In any case the comment had nothing whatever to do with the murders of Sikhs or Pagans and in fact was meant to specifically indicate that, partly to get past the whole ‘oppression olympics’ thing.

          In the second instance, the general point of my comments (and those of many others in this thread) is that Paganism in general – and Wicca specifically, insofar as it conflated with ‘witches’ – is commonly viewed as *absurd*. There is no relation at all between this view and the lamentable fact that Sikhs are mistaken for militant Muslims and painted as potential terrorists by the fearful and ignorant.

          In short, your responses, while significant in their own context, had absolutely nothing to do with the context in which they were made.

          • Pbrarian

            I took your comments at face-value, as I read them, and have no interest in deliberately misconstruing what you wrote. Editor B’s comments did not inform my comments; however, after reading them, I would have come to the same conclusion I did in my initial posts.

            That said, I have had very little exposure to Wicca, Wiccan philosophy, history, organizational structures, lifestyle(s), stereotypes etc. This, perhaps, is one reason I didn’t catch the drift of your comments.

          • Cigfran

            Fair enough.
            Shake?

        • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

          There is a difference between “faith is what you make of it” and “make it up as you go along.” The latter were Star’s words, not his.

    • sindarintech

      CORRECTION: Andrew was NOT a Sikh. He was going through the motions required to pretend to be a Sikh. In other words, he was playing dress-up and having tea with his favorite stufffed animals.

      Any real Sikh would have told him to remove his turban or get his head lopped off for insulting the Sikh religion.

      • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

        Fair enough. I think I get what you (and Star) are saying about “playing” Sikh or “playing” Wiccan. I think that’s the fundamental disconnect on which I’d like to plead for your reconsideration. I just don’t see this sort of play as bad. The world needs more play. If we all took a month or even a day to play at being someone else we would have more understanding, which seems a good thing to me.

        • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

          I think the problem is, though, that part of what people believe about us is that our religion *is* play.  

          • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

            Hm, I see what you mean. No one ever accuses Lutherans of just playing at religion. Most of the Pagans I have met have a very playful attitude which is part of what has drawn me to paganism. But I do understand what you’re saying.

          • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

            A playful attitude is very different than playacting at being a part of a spiritual path or practice.

          • Syna

            I was thinking of bringing up this point to Andrew myself. No other religion he’s studied, with the possible exception of LDS, is ever accused of not being “really real.” He is probably not aware of this, perhaps not being aware of the nuances surrounding the cultural context of Wicca.

          • Rua Lupa

            Would not being aware of all the negative accusations be something that is a good start to understanding the real aspects of a belief and therefore sharing a more accurate view?

        • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

          Fair enough. I think I get what you (and Star) are saying about
          “playing” Sikh or “playing” Wiccan. I think that’s the fundamental
          disconnect on which I’d like to plead for your reconsideration. I just
          don’t see this sort of play as bad. The world needs more play.

          The problem isn’t “play” in and of itself, it’s that the average outsider to pagan religions is of the opinion and impression that pagan religions are nothing more than play:  Reconstructionists are like Renn Faire employees, only for an earlier time, who “believe” in what’s basically fairy tales; Wiccans are like the kids so immersed in make-believe they believe they have super-powers like on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed; other pagans are just making it up as they go along as an extension of kinkysex or polyamoury or furry fandom or whatever.  Star’s very rant should be evidence enough that the average person believes that Wicca is nothing but “playing” and not actually a religious path valid of the same respect of any other.  As a nonner, you don’t experience that, so you think any publicity is “good publicity”, even and especially if it’s given at the time of the year when people are most-inclined to believe that pagan religions, and especially Wicca, are nothing but teenagers and young adults stuck in a mode of childhood make-believe — and because you don’t experience that, you don’t get to say which “play” is OK in regard to learning about pagan religions; you don’t even get to have an opinion on it, cos you’re simply not directly affected by it.

          • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

            Not to complicate matters, but I never said I wasn’t pagan. I wanted to be open about the fact that I’m not Wiccan. I think I do indeed get to have an opinion with regard to “learning about pagan religions” generally, because that is what I’ve been doing for the past few years. At the same time, I respect the those who are committed to specific established traditions may see this very differently, for the reasons you describe. However, I wonder how far this goes. Since Andrew is practicing Fey Wicca this month, does anyone outside that very specific tradition “get to have an opinion”? Why should a Gardnerian (for example) sit in judgment over Fey?

          • Danacorby

            No one is ‘sitting in Judgment over Fey’ beyond the true statement that it is not representative of the practices and beliefs of most other Wicca Trads.

          • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Since Andrew is practicing Fey Wicca this month, does anyone outside
            that very specific tradition “get to have an opinion”? Why should a
            Gardnerian (for example) sit in judgment over Fey?

            I’m sure there are people who will contest that his half-ditched play-acting is even “practising”, but considering that even in this very thread, he’s used language that conflates Wicca with all pagan religions, that he’s worded things so vaguely in describing “Fey Wicca” practises that is sure as hell looks like he’s attempting to speak for all Wicca, then yes, clearly people outside “Fey Wicca” get to have a say, especially considering that two of the Top 10 websites in a Google search for “Fey Wicca” are Project Conversion pages and Star Foster’s post here, it’s pretty clear that “Fey Wicca” is enough of an unknown path that it’s hardly representitive — yet this is his goal, to give something simple yet fairly representitive.  It’s pretty obvious they he didn’t really do any research, yet still puts on pretentions that he can speak fairly for Wicca and other pagan religions.

      • Justathought

        What about the gurudwara he was ASKED to speak in?? Are those not “real” Sikhs? A “real” sikh gave him a turban and taught him to tie it. That same “real” Sikh invited taught him and invited him to attend service at the gurudwara numerous times last month. Get your facts straight before making comments like this.

      • Syna

        He interacted extensively with real Sikhs, who told him no such thing, and were grateful he was attempting to try to to understand them as intimately as possible. But I may be biased: like certain Hindu traditions, and Shakespeare, I think that “play-acting” is deeply sacred.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      I think that part of the problem Andrew may be having in reception from some parts of the Wiccan community, in particular, may be stemming from his choice of October for his month with Wicca.  Every October, Wiccans get to look forward to the media rehashing “Meet the Witches”, with the same tired tropes, the same apologetics, the same denials of Satanism and so on.  To see someone claiming that they’re going to become Wiccan for a month and explore it from the inside… in October… well, it’s going to result in some folks feeling belittled and that their faith, for which they have literally shed blood, sweat and tears for, is being treated as a lark.  Especially when it starts out with 80% or more of the usual Wicca 99 that we see in such “meet the Witches!” treatments in the media.  (No, it’s not even Wicca 101.  It’s remedial Wicca.  ;)  )

      On top of that, there are a number of us who have been engaging in prolonged battles of social and legal activism in attempting to achieve equal rights and recognition.  There are many of us who have lost jobs because of our faith.  Lost marriages.  Lost children in a divorce.  Who have fought to keep from losing their homes and temples.  Who struggled to get our fallen soldiers the right to have the symbol of their faith depicted on their memorial stones, rather than the symbol of the faith of the majority.  Andrew’s *specific* choice of Wiccan path, tied to the prominence (to non-Wiccans, specifically) of his post may be causing some people to feel that he is belittling that struggle — and their faith.  Further, that his series may confirm for those of his readers who belong to the religious majority that Wiccans don’t take their faith seriously, that we’re not a “real religion” and like we all just make it all up as we go along.

      That would be what a lot of folk might deem … less than helpful.

      • Teachermldz

        Well, Aine, I sort of see your point. But one of the things I’ve appreciated about Andrew is that he has chosen months with major holidays in them (if possible) for each faith. He has already explained above that he chose October because of Samhain.  Sadly, I think no matter what month he had chosen paganism, he would have caught flack because people are just that narrow minded about it – especially Wicca.  But I also think it’s valuable to do it this month because it will help break many of the stereotypes when more people are paying attention. I hope that people will participate and contribute constructively this month.  I have new appreciation for all the faiths he has profiled and would like to leave October with a good feeling about this one too.

        • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

          I’m glad that you’re getting so much out of the exercise.

          What a lot of us would like you to understand is the fact that many of us would rather that, if non-Wiccans wanted to understand Wicca, they come ask an actual Wiccan.  Not some dude on the intarwebz that found some random person calling themselves Wiccan who was willing to participate in what essentially boils down to playing “let’s pretend” and then makes a big show of how we should all be so grateful that he’s teaching others about our faith.

          The amount of privilege he’s displaying — and the amount that the lot of you barreling over here to defend what he’s doing are displaying is one of the reasons the welcome you’re all receiving is as cold as it is.

          If you want to read his posts wherein he dresses up like a Witch and reassure yourself that you understand what Wiccans believe, it’s no skin off my nose — until you’re a hospital chaplain denying me access to minister to a sick member of my church, or a judge taking my children away in a divorce because what *I* practice isn’t the Wicca Andrew told you about, or a prison chaplain trying to insist that Wiccan prisoners don’t need access to certain tools because, after all, Andrew didn’t say Wiccans used cauldrons, or wands, or herbs or whatever else he might leave out.  

          It’s not as if we’re hard to find on the internet.  Heck, I’ve had three students of comparative religion and one sociology grad student get in touch with my co-priest and me to come observe one of our rituals and ask questions just in the last year.  And we’re in backwoods rural Michigan.

          • Rua Lupa

            What of the pagan teachings of hospitality toward people of any background, regardless of their circumstance of entering?

          • David Kees

            A distinction could be made between hospitality and education, but you have a point…

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            The rules of hospitality are for both the guest and the host.  When the guest is disrespectful, discourteous or a burden on the host, the host has no obligation to continue granting hospitality.  

            In an effort to be more hospitable to Andrew, I bimbled over to FB and engaged him in conversation.  I asked him some questions, and tried to help him understand where some of the vitriol he’s being met with might be coming from.

            Unfortunately, his responses fair oozed with privilege and made it abundantly clear that, unless we applaud his every word and thank him for including our faith in his project, he’s going to feel like we’re back-biting, hostile and viperous.

            I really don’t see much point to carrying on conversation at that point, do you?

          • Rua Lupa

            I read the dialogue and didn’t like what I saw. Not on his side, but yours. Everything that he wrote in response to you were answers given in goodwill. There was no assistance on your end, just accusations of wrong doing on his end. You seemed to have read too much into his words and felt a personal attack when one wasn’t there.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

        I think we need to ask whether Andrew’s work is likely to make it more or less difficult to be Wiccan/Pagan.  Will our children and our jobs be more or less safe from persecution?  It seems to me that Andrews work is helping our cause in that regard.  It is the nature of his Project that he will not get into the profundities of the practice.  That is true of his treatment of all the faiths he has covered.  I disagree that his treatment of Wicca calls into question whether it is a “real” religion.  I think you may, like Star, may be projecting your own judgments of eclectic Wicca.  Is eclectic Wicca not a “real religion” in your mind?  I would not be surprised if you had similar condemnation of 99% of eclectics.

        • Matricharia

          As I’ve been reading this post the thing that I’m curious about is this. I wonder if Andrew took into consideration the struggle that Wiccans have to have their religion recognized when he made that statement about it not being a real religion. I do understand the negative response that Wiccans are having just because of that statement.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

            Whoa! Andrew did NOT say Wicca is not a real religion.  *Star* interpreted the quotes from Andrews teacher (taken out of context) as describing a practice which *in Star’s opinion* is not a real religion.  Go check out what Andrew really said.  http://blog.beliefnet.com/projectconversion/2011/10/andrew-bowen-wiccan-edition.html  You may find the contrast with Star’s post interesting. 

    • kenneth

      It’s a damn delicate business trying to engage a religion in a lighthearted manner without being flip about it. That’s especially true when you’re coming at it as an outsider. I think he has the right idea in trying to keep a light topical treatment of the subject because there’s no way to do it justice in a month and even very nuanced and scholarly folks stir up a storm when they propose to define “what Wicca is” even with tons of disclaimers. 

      There IS an element of truth to his characterization. Wicca, and more generally pagan paths in general, ARE, in large part, a self-directed path of discovery and experiential rather than highly dogmatic and liturgical faiths.

       On the other hand, implying that we have no structure or form whatever is a very touchy thing. One of the biggest headaches we have with popular culture, apart from the Satanism thing, is the accusation that we are all just goth kids playing dress-up in the woods and making it all up as we go along. Being written off that way is really more insulting than being called evil. Compounding the problem is an industry of authors and publishers who have pandered to that stereotype of “Wicca is anything you want it to be.”  That in turn draws a lot of immature and irresponsible people into our ranks and touched off fairly destructive in-fighting about who is a “real” Wiccan vs a “fluffy bunny.” It’s an un-winnable debate, but one that is rooted in some real concerns.

       Star has some valid points for sure, but also bear in mind where she’s coming from. She’s part of an initiatory traditional coven, and those folks are sort of the Hasidim of Wicca. They’re serious folk who aren’t quite comfortable with 90% of practicing Wiccans calling themselves such, let alone some dude trying to do it as performance art or as a sort of theological restaurant review. 

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        She’s part of an initiatory traditional coven, and those folks are sort
        of the Hasidim of Wicca. They’re serious folk who aren’t quite
        comfortable with 90% of practicing Wiccans calling themselves such

        Can you document that the majority of members of initiatory traditional covens “aren’t quite
        comfortable with 90% of practicing Wiccans calling themselves such”?  That has not been my experience at all.

        • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

          Based on some of the statements from people on LiveJournal and similar social sites with a prominent and easy-to-find population of Traditional Wiccans, it’s an easy enough thought to infer from the evidence available.

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            I asked for evidence of a *majority*, not merely instantiation.  I know that there are initiates of trad covens that argue this position.  But I think that they are the outspoken minority, not representative of the majority. 

            Please note, I’m one of the people who speaks out frequently to encourage people to use other terms than “Wicca” for non-initiatory Craft, but I’m convinced that I’m in the minority.  Certainly, the majority of my coven-mates don’t agree with me, and neither does the Alexandrian 3* in town.  And my primary motive is not because I think Wicca is so special, but because I believe that so long as people use “Wicca” as the generic term, everything will be judged against the Gardnerian yardstick.

            Disclaimer:  My primary Craft, ContraryWise is distinctly non-Wiccan and came into being when I–a book-learned Witch–started training some other people so I’d have someone to circle with.  I had no intention of founding a lineage or a distinct approach to the Craft.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

      I agree.  If Star had put half the time into her response that Andrew is putting into his work, we would be having a much more constructive conversation.  I think a huge part of the problem here is that Star is in the middle of her own transition to a very specific, and very exclusive form of Wicca, and Andrew is studying a more open form of Wicca that Star has personal misgivings about.  Nothing Andrew wrote suggests that Wicca is not a “real religion.”  On the other hand, Stars comments seem to imply that *she* believes that eclectic Wicca is not a real religion.  Her criticisms of Andrew are a condemnation of the real, practicing, eclectic Wiccan who is teaching Andrew and the many, many others who are like her.  This is just part and parcel of the old “what is a real witch/wiccan” versus “fluffy bunny” debate.  Star had a real opportunity to advance this conversation and I am disappointed she has dropped the ball.  The 100+ comments to this post/rant are unfortunately not a substitute to a genuine discussion of the issues.

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

        I don’t recall suggesting eclectic Wicca wasn’t “real Wicca” but I do recall saying Wicca isn’t a label to apply to whatever you invent for your personal religion. You seem to find it easier to paint me as an elitist snob than actually consider what I’m saying.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

          Star you *are* becoming part of a very “elite” part of Paganism — elitism goes with the territory.  I just think you need to be more aware that your own views may not be representative of Wicca generally, which is mostly eclectic, non-initiated solitaries.  Is it not possible that many Wiccans *will* resonate with what Andrew is describing?  And if so, are those Wiccans not Wiccan enough for you?

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            No one’s views are representative of Wicca generally. No one’s views are representative of Paganism generally. However, the majority of Wiccans, eclectic self-dedicated solitaries included, do not just make things up and call them Wicca. I think you do solitaries a disservice by implying they are as ignorant as Andrew.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

            “My Mentor stressed the importance of
            Wicca’s exploratory nature in general, 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.”Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/projectconversion/2011/10/andrew-bowen-wiccan-edition.html#ixzz1Zw1KiLcB

            Do you really think he is saying Wicca is all made up?

          • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            It’s very easy to infer that’s what he meant.

          • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

            I think it’s worth taking note that Star was an eclectic, non-initiated solitary for about a decade.  I don’t think she will suddenly have all memory of her previous experiences wiped from her mind at her initiation.  I certainly didn’t.  I still identify the Craft style that I and some other book-learned Witches developed as my primary Craft, even though I have been an initiate in a lineaged coven for over a decade. 

            I think both Star and I will always be straddling the fence anytime anyone tries to divide all Craft neatly into “traditional” vs. “eclectic”.  And the bigger the chasm people try to make between them, the more uncomfortable I get.  After all, my legs only stretch so far and I don’t want to fall into the dark chasm.  That always goes badly in movies.

            If there is an elite in modern paganism (and I think there is), it is those who are experienced, erudite, and reflexive.  And members of that elite show up all over paganism, including in both eclectic Craft and trad Craft.

          • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Star you *are* becoming part of a very “elite” part of Paganism — elitism goes with the territory.

            I think you’re projecting much.  There’s a pretty significant difference between being part of an elite group and being an elitist.  Being part of an elite group is joining MENSA or Triple Nine Society because you have an IQ score that qualifies.  Being an elistist is assuming that because your IQ score is that high, then everybody whose IQ isn’t is therefore mentally handicapped, even those whose own scores are still significantly above average, just a point or two too low to join a high-IQ society.  I’ve never once seen Star claim that Popular Wicca, being different enough from Traditional Wicca schools, is therefore Not Wicca.  In fact, I’ve seen her use the two terms when speaking of Wicca and other pagan religions in general.

        • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

          I didn’t get the implication that “Popular/Eclectic Wicca ≠ Real Wicca” from your post at all; in fact, I can easily recall instances where you refer to “Popular Wicca” and “Traditional Wicca”, as if the two main branches are somewhat related, but inherently different.  It’s like when people were making a stink five years ago or whatever, when Pluto was re-classified as a Dwarf Planet in the Kuiper Belt; the language alone suggests that Pluto is still, technically, a plentary object, just not one significant enough in size or relative distance to the rest of the primary objects in the Helios solar system.  Ergo, Popular Wica is enough like Traditional Wicca to be called such in general terms, but there are enough significant differences between Popular/Eclectic and Traditional schools for the slight but telling differences in language; the Traditional schools, which each different from each-other, are also sharing more similarities with each-other than with the Wicca as practised by Popular or Eclectic schools.

          …at least this is the understanding I’ve come to as an outsider.

      • Cara

        So are you claiming to be a mind-reader or a psychologist?  Either way, you’re not very good at it.

  • Language Fanatic

    Wow, people.  You know, Wicca was the only religion I had a negative impression of before this month, even though I know next to nothing about it.  I confess it bothered me when I would read about how fast it is growing.  

    Conversion Project is the only reason I realized that I had a negative view of the religion with nothing to base that on.  Andrew Bowen’s efforts are the only reason I’m now willing to take Wicca seriously as a religion and learn about what it really is.  When I read most of the posts on this page, I started to wonder if I wasn’t right to begin with, but I know a little better than that and I am going to watch and learn for the next month.  I may learn about other strands of Wicca along the way, but I don’t expect to return to this page. 

    Really, people!  Taking offense where none is intended is not a wise way of living life.  Surely there’s something in Wicca that relates to that.

    • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

      If the only reason you were cured of your ignorance was because some guy on the internet provided a shallow summary of one tradition of Wicca, you must not have been trying very hard to educate yourself in the first place. Not much of a loss.

      • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

        Do you not see the benefit of what Andrew is doing then? Someone, because of him, was “cured of ignorance” about a pagan religion. Yet other forms of ignorance apparently still pervade our own community. A religion that does not draw and intrigue people is doomed to die. The process is made faster when members of that path discourage those outside of it from learning about it and even joining it (even if the discouragement is in the form of a comment). What first interested me in this path was itself a brief summary of what one particular person believed. Before that, I had no intention of looking anything up even remotely related to general paganism, let alone wicca itself. To Language Fanatic, I personally encourage you to learn to your heart’s content. Please do not be put off by the voices of anger and discontent such as Star and Gorm here.

        • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

          So, quantity over quality is your argument? You’d rather have folks coming to understand a religious perspective, not through their individual efforts, but because they were drawn to it by a shallow, topical introduction? Isn’t this precisely why the problem of “fluffiness” persists?

          You do mistake anger for legitimate criticism of intellectual laziness.

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            Reread my post. Being drawn in by a brief introduction does not mean you come to a complete understanding of a religious belief, but it can spark you to learn more on your own and with a mentor. Having a mentor does not mean you get to be lazy. In fact, sometimes having a mentor is more work than doing it yourself. And you’re right. I do mistake anger to be legitimate criticism, as has been clarified by Star’s further commenting.

          • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

            I think my reply below, addresses this issue (mentor v. some guy who has his own mentor), but to elaborate on your reply: The initial experience, first impressions and all that, can have a lasting effect on how people perceive whatever it is they are being introduced to. If someone’s first experience of Wicca is, for example, “you get to make it up as you go along”, well not only is that a misrepresentation of Wicca, but creates a precedent (in the mind of the learner) that can have a profound influence on how that individual understands “what Wicca is”.

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            There is a difference between “faith is what you make of it” and “make it up as you go along.” The latter were Star’s words, not his.

          • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

            I think one could infer such a sentiment from that, but you are correct in that “make it up as you go along” was Star’s turn of phrase.

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            The former implies that there is already some structure to the faith, tenets, etc, but it’s what you make of that structure that means something personal to you. Very different from making it all up, which, let’s be honest isn’t that far from the truth, considering Gardner has very little backing for his history. But that’s an entirely different issue.

          • Danacorby

            I repeat: everyone has to start somewhere. A ‘shallow, topical introduction’ is just that: an introduction. Those who’re drawn to the topic by that will continue their researches. Those who’re just mildly curious will at least have their curiosity satisfied and will amble peaceably away.

            Ignorance about Wicca when one has just begun studying is not ‘fluffiness.’ It takes time and effort to achieve depth. It is when considerable time has passed, no depths have been reached or even attempted and one considers oneself an ‘expert’ anyway that the label ‘fluffy’ legitimately applies. And in my experience, these are usually the most dogmatic among us.

          • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

            It comes down to who do you go to for information on Wicca, or any religion for that matter? Do you seek out a Wiccan and get information from them, or do you seek out a guy who is playing Wiccan for a month?

            The least anyone who was earnest in their desire to educate themselves, could do is talk to an actual member of that religion.

          • Danacorby

            “The least anyone who was earnest in their desire to educate themselves
            could do, is talk to an actual member of that religion. ”

            Well, yeah, that would be ideal. But we’re not easy to find. It’s not like we’re standing on every street corner handing out tracts or buying ads in the religion section of the Yellow Pages! And most of the web sites that purport to exist to inform seekers are full of hooey. So where does someone with no prior knowledge but whose mind is beginning to open go? — To the most accessible informant around, one who doesn’t intimidate them. I have found that for the not-even-101-level student, the best teacher is not the expert but the one who’s just a few steps ahead, as they take less for granted about what’s ‘common knowledge.’

          • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

             It’s incredibly easy to find a Wiccan willing to discuss their religion online; B-net itself has several Pagan and Wiccan discussion forums, to say nothing of the myriad other interfaith or Pagan specific discussion forums. This is of course anecdotal, but over a decade ago when I was first developing an interest in polytheism, I managed to find a bevy of folks who were more than willing to discuss their perspectives with me. Interfaith forums have expanded quite a bit since then.

            So having said that, I do believe that anyone who was earnest in their desire to educate themselves, the information is little more than a Goolge search away.

          • Danacorby

            I repeat: everyone has to start somewhere. A ‘shallow, topical introduction’ is just that: an introduction. Those who’re drawn to the topic by that will continue their researches. Those who’re just mildly curious will at least have their curiosity satisfied and will amble peaceably away.

            Ignorance about Wicca when one has just begun studying is not ‘fluffiness.’ It takes time and effort to achieve depth. It is when considerable time has passed, no depths have been reached or even attempted and one considers oneself an ‘expert’ anyway that the label ‘fluffy’ legitimately applies. And in my experience, these are usually the most dogmatic among us.

        • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

          A religion that does not draw and intrigue people is doomed to die.

          Yet apparently Project Conversion reports how fast-growing Wicca (and presumably other pagan religions) seem to be long prior to his experiment.  Clearly, pagan religions, including but not limited to Wicca, aren’t especially in need of the “help” Project Conversion can potentially provide in the growing of ranks, so your “concern” is not only unnecessary, it has this distinct odour of “sleeps under the bridge”.

          The process is made faster when members of that path discourage those
          outside of it from learning about it and even joining it (even if the
          discouragement is in the form of a comment).

          No pagan in this thread have discouraged outsiders from learning.  In fact, quite the opposite.  All that has been discouraged is the methods of Project Conversion.

      • Danacorby

        Er — that’s rather harsh. Everyone has to start at the beginning, their own beginning, of their path. If L.F. has respect for Andrew and thereby was willing to suspend some previously-held opinions, I say good on both of them. And no matter what Trad Andrew’d chosen for his immersion month, it would still have been just one tradition.

        The pity (and a lot of the concern) is that none of the rest of us ever heard of the Trad he’s training in, and it’s rapidly becoming evident that its teachings are not necessarily shared by the majority of Wiccans, Trad OR Eclectic. Then there’s the great faux pas of his timing — October, please! — and the unfortunate fact that many of us would just as soon he hadn’t done it.

        Speaking just for myself, I believe that the fight for our religious rights is not going to be won by trying to explain away the cowans’ mistrust. This is a political struggle, not a spiritual one. We must stand on our rights as Americans to peaceably assemble, to worship as our consciences dictate, and to be unmolested in doing so. Nobody needs to know a d@^^n thing about us to do that.

        • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

          I mentioned elsewhere in the comments, that at the very least Mr. Bowen is actually going out and educating himself. My issue here, is that people can do their own research, and educate themselves. It really isn’t that hard; that is if you’re willing to put in just a modicum of effort. Instead of learning from a guy who’s playing at being a Fey Wiccan for a month, why not talk to an actual Fey Wiccan (or other Wiccan at that? Is that so unreasonable?

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          Speaking just for myself, I believe that the fight for our religious
          rights is not going to be won by trying to explain away the cowans’
          mistrust. This is a political struggle, not a spiritual one. We must
          stand on our rights as Americans to peaceably assemble, to worship as
          our consciences dictate, and to be unmolested in doing so. Nobody needs
          to know a d@^^n thing about us to do that.

          The queer experience is exactly opposite to what you said here.  Queer rights have advanced in our society specifically because people got to know real live queer people, and found out enough about our lives to realize that we are valuable people.  Yes, we need to stand up for our rights, but we also need to be willing to be out and open.  (Which does not mean either that I have an obligation to educate every random person who comes along or that others don’t have a right to keep oathbound material secret.)

          • Danacorby

            Technically, NO GROUP should have to prove it’s worthy of full citizenship. And there are certainly a lot of parallels between the queer struggle and the Pagan struggle. But the queer struggle was never as dependent on theology, as too many try to make the Pagan struggle. It was always a political struggle, first to overthrow unjust laws and then to overcome social prejudice. I believe that the minute we as Pagans start trying to explain our Gods and our world-view to those who would deny us our citizenship, we have gotten off track. We have to keep returning it to the one all-important issue, that we are law-abiding American citizens entitled to the same religious freedoms as every other law-abiding spiritual group in the country.

    • Matthaios

      You’re seeing people debate within their own community. I’m not sure what you expected, but I think it’s pretty normal for people to have opinions on things and debate/discuss those opinions.

      “Taking offense where none is intended is not a wise way of living life.  Surely there’s something in Wicca that relates to that.”

      No. There is nothing that says, “Thou shalt not take offense when none was intended.” No offense may have been intended, but that doesn’t mean there was nothing offensive.

    • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy
  • Language Fanatic

    Wow, people.  You know, Wicca was the only religion I had a negative impression of before this month, even though I know next to nothing about it.  I confess it bothered me when I would read about how fast it is growing.  

    Conversion Project is the only reason I realized that I had a negative view of the religion with nothing to base that on.  Andrew Bowen’s efforts are the only reason I’m now willing to take Wicca seriously as a religion and learn about what it really is.  When I read most of the posts on this page, I started to wonder if I wasn’t right to begin with, but I know a little better than that and I am going to watch and learn for the next month.  I may learn about other strands of Wicca along the way, but I don’t expect to return to this page. 

    Really, people!  Taking offense where none is intended is not a wise way of living life.  Surely there’s something in Wicca that relates to that.

    • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

      If the only reason you were cured of your ignorance was because some guy on the internet provided a shallow summary of one tradition of Wicca, you must not have been trying very hard to educate yourself in the first place. Not much of a loss.

      • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

        Do you not see the benefit of what Andrew is doing then? Someone, because of him, was “cured of ignorance” about a pagan religion. Yet other forms of ignorance apparently still pervade our own community. A religion that does not draw and intrigue people is doomed to die. The process is made faster when members of that path discourage those outside of it from learning about it and even joining it (even if the discouragement is in the form of a comment). What first interested me in this path was itself a brief summary of what one particular person believed. Before that, I had no intention of looking anything up even remotely related to general paganism, let alone wicca itself. To Language Fanatic, I personally encourage you to learn to your heart’s content. Please do not be put off by the voices of anger and discontent such as Star and Gorm here.

        • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

          So, quantity over quality is your argument? You’d rather have folks coming to understand a religious perspective, not through their individual efforts, but because they were drawn to it by a shallow, topical introduction? Isn’t this precisely why the problem of “fluffiness” persists?

          You do mistake anger for legitimate criticism of intellectual laziness.

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            Reread my post. Being drawn in by a brief introduction does not mean you come to a complete understanding of a religious belief, but it can spark you to learn more on your own and with a mentor. Having a mentor does not mean you get to be lazy. In fact, sometimes having a mentor is more work than doing it yourself. And you’re right. I do mistake anger to be legitimate criticism, as has been clarified by Star’s further commenting.

          • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

            I think my reply below, addresses this issue (mentor v. some guy who has his own mentor), but to elaborate on your reply: The initial experience, first impressions and all that, can have a lasting effect on how people perceive whatever it is they are being introduced to. If someone’s first experience of Wicca is, for example, “you get to make it up as you go along”, well not only is that a misrepresentation of Wicca, but creates a precedent (in the mind of the learner) that can have a profound influence on how that individual understands “what Wicca is”.

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            There is a difference between “faith is what you make of it” and “make it up as you go along.” The latter were Star’s words, not his.

          • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

            I think one could infer such a sentiment from that, but you are correct in that “make it up as you go along” was Star’s turn of phrase.

          • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

            The former implies that there is already some structure to the faith, tenets, etc, but it’s what you make of that structure that means something personal to you. Very different from making it all up, which, let’s be honest isn’t that far from the truth, considering Gardner has very little backing for his history. But that’s an entirely different issue.

          • Danacorby

            I repeat: everyone has to start somewhere. A ‘shallow, topical introduction’ is just that: an introduction. Those who’re drawn to the topic by that will continue their researches. Those who’re just mildly curious will at least have their curiosity satisfied and will amble peaceably away.

            Ignorance about Wicca when one has just begun studying is not ‘fluffiness.’ It takes time and effort to achieve depth. It is when considerable time has passed, no depths have been reached or even attempted and one considers oneself an ‘expert’ anyway that the label ‘fluffy’ legitimately applies. And in my experience, these are usually the most dogmatic among us.

          • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

            It comes down to who do you go to for information on Wicca, or any religion for that matter? Do you seek out a Wiccan and get information from them, or do you seek out a guy who is playing Wiccan for a month?

            The least anyone who was earnest in their desire to educate themselves, could do is talk to an actual member of that religion.

          • Danacorby

            “The least anyone who was earnest in their desire to educate themselves
            could do, is talk to an actual member of that religion. ”

            Well, yeah, that would be ideal. But we’re not easy to find. It’s not like we’re standing on every street corner handing out tracts or buying ads in the religion section of the Yellow Pages! And most of the web sites that purport to exist to inform seekers are full of hooey. So where does someone with no prior knowledge but whose mind is beginning to open go? — To the most accessible informant around, one who doesn’t intimidate them. I have found that for the not-even-101-level student, the best teacher is not the expert but the one who’s just a few steps ahead, as they take less for granted about what’s ‘common knowledge.’

          • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

             It’s incredibly easy to find a Wiccan willing to discuss their religion online; B-net itself has several Pagan and Wiccan discussion forums, to say nothing of the myriad other interfaith or Pagan specific discussion forums. This is of course anecdotal, but over a decade ago when I was first developing an interest in polytheism, I managed to find a bevy of folks who were more than willing to discuss their perspectives with me. Interfaith forums have expanded quite a bit since then.

            So having said that, I do believe that anyone who was earnest in their desire to educate themselves, the information is little more than a Goolge search away.

        • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

          A religion that does not draw and intrigue people is doomed to die.

          Yet apparently Project Conversion reports how fast-growing Wicca (and presumably other pagan religions) seem to be long prior to his experiment.  Clearly, pagan religions, including but not limited to Wicca, aren’t especially in need of the “help” Project Conversion can potentially provide in the growing of ranks, so your “concern” is not only unnecessary, it has this distinct odour of “sleeps under the bridge”.

          The process is made faster when members of that path discourage those
          outside of it from learning about it and even joining it (even if the
          discouragement is in the form of a comment).

          No pagan in this thread have discouraged outsiders from learning.  In fact, quite the opposite.  All that has been discouraged is the methods of Project Conversion.

      • Danacorby

        Er — that’s rather harsh. Everyone has to start at the beginning, their own beginning, of their path. If L.F. has respect for Andrew and thereby was willing to suspend some previously-held opinions, I say good on both of them. And no matter what Trad Andrew’d chosen for his immersion month, it would still have been just one tradition.

        The pity (and a lot of the concern) is that none of the rest of us ever heard of the Trad he’s training in, and it’s rapidly becoming evident that its teachings are not necessarily shared by the majority of Wiccans, Trad OR Eclectic. Then there’s the great faux pas of his timing — October, please! — and the unfortunate fact that many of us would just as soon he hadn’t done it.

        Speaking just for myself, I believe that the fight for our religious rights is not going to be won by trying to explain away the cowans’ mistrust. This is a political struggle, not a spiritual one. We must stand on our rights as Americans to peaceably assemble, to worship as our consciences dictate, and to be unmolested in doing so. Nobody needs to know a d@^^n thing about us to do that.

        • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

          I mentioned elsewhere in the comments, that at the very least Mr. Bowen is actually going out and educating himself. My issue here, is that people can do their own research, and educate themselves. It really isn’t that hard; that is if you’re willing to put in just a modicum of effort. Instead of learning from a guy who’s playing at being a Fey Wiccan for a month, why not talk to an actual Fey Wiccan (or other Wiccan at that? Is that so unreasonable?

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          Speaking just for myself, I believe that the fight for our religious
          rights is not going to be won by trying to explain away the cowans’
          mistrust. This is a political struggle, not a spiritual one. We must
          stand on our rights as Americans to peaceably assemble, to worship as
          our consciences dictate, and to be unmolested in doing so. Nobody needs
          to know a d@^^n thing about us to do that.

          The queer experience is exactly opposite to what you said here.  Queer rights have advanced in our society specifically because people got to know real live queer people, and found out enough about our lives to realize that we are valuable people.  Yes, we need to stand up for our rights, but we also need to be willing to be out and open.  (Which does not mean either that I have an obligation to educate every random person who comes along or that others don’t have a right to keep oathbound material secret.)

          • Danacorby

            Technically, NO GROUP should have to prove it’s worthy of full citizenship. And there are certainly a lot of parallels between the queer struggle and the Pagan struggle. But the queer struggle was never as dependent on theology, as too many try to make the Pagan struggle. It was always a political struggle, first to overthrow unjust laws and then to overcome social prejudice. I believe that the minute we as Pagans start trying to explain our Gods and our world-view to those who would deny us our citizenship, we have gotten off track. We have to keep returning it to the one all-important issue, that we are law-abiding American citizens entitled to the same religious freedoms as every other law-abiding spiritual group in the country.

    • Matthaios

      You’re seeing people debate within their own community. I’m not sure what you expected, but I think it’s pretty normal for people to have opinions on things and debate/discuss those opinions.

      “Taking offense where none is intended is not a wise way of living life.  Surely there’s something in Wicca that relates to that.”

      No. There is nothing that says, “Thou shalt not take offense when none was intended.” No offense may have been intended, but that doesn’t mean there was nothing offensive.

    • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy
  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5T4SY3GICQPLRFMAKTB2JONROM Mimi

    Lemme guess, you’re an uninitiated “Wiccan”. The fact is that all
    religions are essentially made up so the argument for that is failing
    since no one can prove their god exists.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5T4SY3GICQPLRFMAKTB2JONROM Mimi

    Lemme guess, you’re an uninitiated “Wiccan”. The fact is that all
    religions are essentially made up so the argument for that is failing
    since no one can prove their god exists.

  • Sara A

    oh man these comments are harsh. I mean, I can understand why Star and others feel the way they do.
    The criticisms are legit, but… well I’m looking at it a little bit
    differently. So this dude is taking a month to do in depth research into
    different faiths. I personally wouldn’t call what he’s doing a ‘monthly
    conversion’, more like jumping head into exploring different
    ideas/faiths/traditions/whatever by doing some research and going full
    bore like a bull in a china shop. Does he have some info wrong, of
    course he does. There’s lots of bad books and bad websites with bad bad
    bad info. The odds he is going to get and grock what he’s researching
    100% right is not very good (and will probably be argued with anyway,
    because when have pagans ever agreed on anything).

    I think we all can agree that one month is not even close to long enough
    get through all the info to become a dedicant, let alone someone who
    would know and understand Wicca, or any other Pagan (or Pagan related)
    path. But he is looking at it, and he is trying… as a non-pagan trying
    to see what it’s like to be pagan he is trying. His blog is pretty much
    what I’d expect it to be really. He reminds me of when I was in my
    early 20′s learning about Wicca, all excited and learning about stuff
    and not really knowing my ass from a hole in the ground. We all gotta
    start somewhere. We can’t expect this dude to speak about Wicca or
    Paganism like he’s a 3rd degree grand-poobah who has been to all kinds
    of festivals and knows about the social and political struggles some go
    through. How could he know about that? To the average person on the
    street who doesn’t know about Paganism or Wicca that kind of stuff
    doesn’t even blip on their radar.  We don’t know who is mentor is
    either, all I can see is she (he?) is the only one that stepped up,
    maybe that person isn’t extremely experienced either, but hey at least
    they’re stepping up… and by the way I have known in my day some
    eclectic Wiccans that ‘make stuff up’, or take creative liberties. Right
    or wrong, it’s been known to happen.

    I see it like this, we’re all teachers & ambassadors, especially
    when we blog and respond to blogs like this. We may not like how Andrew is
    reporting on dipping his toe into our subculture, but he seems open to take a walk for a minute in our shoes. He is kinda-sorta bridging a gap for folks who have no understanding of what
    Wicca and to a degree, Paganism is. Andrew is doing some of the legwork for them, and he’s
    easy for them to understand because he is kinda like them, not
    Pagan/Wiccan but curious enough to dig a little and those folks can live
    vicariously through them. As long as he doesn’t call himself an expert,
    I personally am fine with it. If it gets people curious enough to learn
    about Wicca or Paganism in general, then yay on that.

    As for the month thing. OF COURSE he’s going to do it in October, this
    is when people get curious about dem dere Witches. So what. If people
    don’t want Wicca to be associated with Halloween then stop calling
    yourselves something that is so associated with Halloween (although
    personally I think you should own it, have fun with it, and rock it
    out if you call yourself a Witch).

    Besides, if he didn’t delve into Wicca or another Pagan tradition people would probably cry discrimination about that. Andrew doesn’t strike me as someone who’s trying to spread false info on purpose, just as someone who just… doesn’t have all the info.

    • http://twitter.com/ashareem HR Mitchell

      “Besides, if he didn’t delve into Wicca or another Pagan tradition people would probably cry discrimination about that.”

      Maybe, maybe not. I know I certainly would not have cared had he just ignored us.

  • Sara A

    oh man these comments are harsh. I mean, I can understand why Star and others feel the way they do.
    The criticisms are legit, but… well I’m looking at it a little bit
    differently. So this dude is taking a month to do in depth research into
    different faiths. I personally wouldn’t call what he’s doing a ‘monthly
    conversion’, more like jumping head into exploring different
    ideas/faiths/traditions/whatever by doing some research and going full
    bore like a bull in a china shop. Does he have some info wrong, of
    course he does. There’s lots of bad books and bad websites with bad bad
    bad info. The odds he is going to get and grock what he’s researching
    100% right is not very good (and will probably be argued with anyway,
    because when have pagans ever agreed on anything).

    I think we all can agree that one month is not even close to long enough
    get through all the info to become a dedicant, let alone someone who
    would know and understand Wicca, or any other Pagan (or Pagan related)
    path. But he is looking at it, and he is trying… as a non-pagan trying
    to see what it’s like to be pagan he is trying. His blog is pretty much
    what I’d expect it to be really. He reminds me of when I was in my
    early 20′s learning about Wicca, all excited and learning about stuff
    and not really knowing my ass from a hole in the ground. We all gotta
    start somewhere. We can’t expect this dude to speak about Wicca or
    Paganism like he’s a 3rd degree grand-poobah who has been to all kinds
    of festivals and knows about the social and political struggles some go
    through. How could he know about that? To the average person on the
    street who doesn’t know about Paganism or Wicca that kind of stuff
    doesn’t even blip on their radar.  We don’t know who is mentor is
    either, all I can see is she (he?) is the only one that stepped up,
    maybe that person isn’t extremely experienced either, but hey at least
    they’re stepping up… and by the way I have known in my day some
    eclectic Wiccans that ‘make stuff up’, or take creative liberties. Right
    or wrong, it’s been known to happen.

    I see it like this, we’re all teachers & ambassadors, especially
    when we blog and respond to blogs like this. We may not like how Andrew is
    reporting on dipping his toe into our subculture, but he seems open to take a walk for a minute in our shoes. He is kinda-sorta bridging a gap for folks who have no understanding of what
    Wicca and to a degree, Paganism is. Andrew is doing some of the legwork for them, and he’s
    easy for them to understand because he is kinda like them, not
    Pagan/Wiccan but curious enough to dig a little and those folks can live
    vicariously through them. As long as he doesn’t call himself an expert,
    I personally am fine with it. If it gets people curious enough to learn
    about Wicca or Paganism in general, then yay on that.

    As for the month thing. OF COURSE he’s going to do it in October, this
    is when people get curious about dem dere Witches. So what. If people
    don’t want Wicca to be associated with Halloween then stop calling
    yourselves something that is so associated with Halloween (although
    personally I think you should own it, have fun with it, and rock it
    out if you call yourself a Witch).

    Besides, if he didn’t delve into Wicca or another Pagan tradition people would probably cry discrimination about that. Andrew doesn’t strike me as someone who’s trying to spread false info on purpose, just as someone who just… doesn’t have all the info.

    • http://twitter.com/ashareem HRM

      “Besides, if he didn’t delve into Wicca or another Pagan tradition people would probably cry discrimination about that.”

      Maybe, maybe not. I know I certainly would not have cared had he just ignored us.

  • Iris

    I am grateful that Andrew has at least given us credit and defended us at all.  He could have stuck to something more mainstream that the good people of America could understand.. Juedo-Christian faith has taught that all outside should be shunned.  Now, you disgrace him and others of minority paths (Fey, Dragon, Unicorn) by stating he should have picked something ‘mainstream’.  

    I am of the thinking of if it does not work, toss it.  This is an exploratory path and is individual, dictation of what is right and wrong within his path with his mentor smacks of the vatican telling the Lutheran what they should be doing..  

    We, as Wiccans, are usually a tolerant and open people.  This is not a welcome or a way to enlighten those of other paths about how we see community, how we teach each other or how we treat each other.

    • Anonymous

      (Fey, Dragon, Unicorn)… 
      And this is exactly why Wiccans aren’t taken seriously by the mainstream public. These ‘trads’ sound like someone has been playing ‘My Little Pony’ a bit too much.

      Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca have been around for a relatively long time now and would be good jumping off points because they’ve had time to mature. And they have *respected* elders. This is less the case with ‘trads’ that have no roots in established traditions.

      The “if it doesn’t work, toss it” mentality is exactly what is wrong with popularized witchcraft today. If it doesn’t work, work with it until it does… particularly if your teacher is taking the time to teach it to you.

      • Iris

        But even though it may sound like playtime, traditions like Dragon (where I am currently being taught for my 2nd) do have basis in tradition, mostly oral and will take time to ‘mature’.  Most, as I understand it, have essentially Gardnerian and Alexandrian roots but have introduced the otherworldly aspects into the tradition.

        Elder is a honorary term, given by the community, what may garner respect in one tradition may not be respected in another, therefore to say that one elder is better than another based on their tradition is comparing apples to oranges. 

        Saying, for example, being a member of the Dragon tradition is much easier than saying “Tradition that sees embodiments of cardinal points of the compass as ancient reptiles that are in spirit form as an aid to corporeal beings”.  And less to type.. 

        Sometimes it becomes an issue of what is available or what is needed for focus within rit.  Some may use a besom at first and then as they become adept at the Craft may not utilize it later because of their increased ability to focus.  So, because one person ‘tosses’ the use of a besom does not make them wrong.  

        What works for one person does not always work for another.  I personally have a lot of ceremonial work within my rits because it works for me, others find there is too much to remember and does not work for them.. who is right?

      • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

        I prefer the common sense approach of “If it won’t work the way you want it to, don’t force it to. Find another way that DOES work.” If something won’t work and you try to force it, more than likely something will break.

  • Iris

    I am grateful that Andrew has at least given us credit and defended us at all.  He could have stuck to something more mainstream that the good people of America could understand.. Juedo-Christian faith has taught that all outside should be shunned.  Now, you disgrace him and others of minority paths (Fey, Dragon, Unicorn) by stating he should have picked something ‘mainstream’.  

    I am of the thinking of if it does not work, toss it.  This is an exploratory path and is individual, dictation of what is right and wrong within his path with his mentor smacks of the vatican telling the Lutheran what they should be doing..  

    We, as Wiccans, are usually a tolerant and open people.  This is not a welcome or a way to enlighten those of other paths about how we see community, how we teach each other or how we treat each other.

    • sindarintech

      (Fey, Dragon, Unicorn)… 
      And this is exactly why Wiccans aren’t taken seriously by the mainstream public. These ‘trads’ sound like someone has been playing ‘My Little Pony’ a bit too much.

      Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca have been around for a relatively long time now and would be good jumping off points because they’ve had time to mature. And they have *respected* elders. This is less the case with ‘trads’ that have no roots in established traditions.

      The “if it doesn’t work, toss it” mentality is exactly what is wrong with popularized witchcraft today. If it doesn’t work, work with it until it does… particularly if your teacher is taking the time to teach it to you.

      • Iris

        But even though it may sound like playtime, traditions like Dragon (where I am currently being taught for my 2nd) do have basis in tradition, mostly oral and will take time to ‘mature’.  Most, as I understand it, have essentially Gardnerian and Alexandrian roots but have introduced the otherworldly aspects into the tradition.

        Elder is a honorary term, given by the community, what may garner respect in one tradition may not be respected in another, therefore to say that one elder is better than another based on their tradition is comparing apples to oranges. 

        Saying, for example, being a member of the Dragon tradition is much easier than saying “Tradition that sees embodiments of cardinal points of the compass as ancient reptiles that are in spirit form as an aid to corporeal beings”.  And less to type.. 

        Sometimes it becomes an issue of what is available or what is needed for focus within rit.  Some may use a besom at first and then as they become adept at the Craft may not utilize it later because of their increased ability to focus.  So, because one person ‘tosses’ the use of a besom does not make them wrong.  

        What works for one person does not always work for another.  I personally have a lot of ceremonial work within my rits because it works for me, others find there is too much to remember and does not work for them.. who is right?

      • http://thesatyrsthicket.blogspot.com Nicholas Farrell

        I prefer the common sense approach of “If it won’t work the way you want it to, don’t force it to. Find another way that DOES work.” If something won’t work and you try to force it, more than likely something will break.

  • Pbrarian

    I am a ‘real’ Sikh. I wear a turban, have a flowing beard, wear the 5 K’s, including the kirpan. I’ve trained with the Nihangs, studied scripture for years, and followed a code of conduct and discipline since I was a child. I’ve faced racist bullies and fought battles because of my identity since the time I started kindergarten all the way through high school and university; good thing for me, I’m not a pacifist and have a killer straight right.

    I have no problem with Andrew’s foray into the Sikh life and think he did a good job with his posts and captured many thoughts, experiences, concerns shared by fellow Sikhs. He seems to have had a good mentor since he was also on point re basic Sikh philosophy and history.

    Moreover, I’m not alone in my assessment of his posts and his adventures as a Sikh. Many of my colleagues are practicing Sikhs, thoroughly versed in Sikhi, and they had no issue with his posts. If you go to the website sikhchic.com, you’ll find that many appreciated his posts. Sikhchic.com is moderated, in part, by Professor I.J. Singh, a very respected and knowledgeable Sikh academic.

  • Pbrarian

    I am a ‘real’ Sikh. I wear a turban, have a flowing beard, wear the 5 K’s, including the kirpan. I’ve trained with the Nihangs, studied scripture for years, and followed a code of conduct and discipline since I was a child. I’ve faced racist bullies and fought battles because of my identity since the time I started kindergarten all the way through high school and university; good thing for me, I’m not a pacifist and have a killer straight right.

    I have no problem with Andrew’s foray into the Sikh life and think he did a good job with his posts and captured many thoughts, experiences, concerns shared by fellow Sikhs. He seems to have had a good mentor since he was also on point re basic Sikh philosophy and history.

    Moreover, I’m not alone in my assessment of his posts and his adventures as a Sikh. Many of my colleagues are practicing Sikhs, thoroughly versed in Sikhi, and they had no issue with his posts. If you go to the website sikhchic.com, you’ll find that many appreciated his posts. Sikhchic.com is moderated, in part, by Professor I.J. Singh, a very respected and knowledgeable Sikh academic.

  • http://www.myownashram.wordpress.com Niki Whiting

    I don’t care whether you (Star, other commenters, pagans, non-pagans, whoever you might be reader) approve of Andrew Bowen’s mission and/or writing style. However, I am disgusted with the level of discourse here. Most people sound like just because they were alone in the wilderness of their spiritual journey and had to spend years reading through every book before even finding a trad or a teacher that other people need to suffer the hard, lonely world of being a pagan too. Is a person’s paganism less ‘authentic’, less ‘worthy’ if they aren’t persecuted? If they are openly practicing and looking to a greater community for guidance? Isn’t Andrew reading enough? It sounds like he’s not doing it the way YOU did it. Wouldn’t you have wanted some one to guide you? Offer you advice? Suggestions? “Go out and do the research yourself.” Sounds like he’s doing that. While working on my PhD I am expected to go out and do the research – and then I write it up and my peers and my adviser tell me what’s up. Andrew is no doctoral student, but it seems like he’s doing something similar: researching, looking to his peers, and asking an adviser.

    The other thing that worries me is that paganism and persecution seem to go hand in hand. Star asks:
    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?

    I fully realize that for many people these things are fearsome realities. But none of them apply to me. I am a white, middle class, person from a liberal/secular background, with the privilege of a heteronormative familiy life and a big education: no one is going to take my kids from me, etc. But is my paganism less valid because I am not now, nor ever have been, nor expect to be harassed or persecuted because of my religion?

    If that’s the requirement for making some one’s efforts and journey in paganism ‘authentic’ then I guess I’m not part of the clan.

    • Danacorby

      Niki, you said “I fully realize that for many people these things are fearsome
      realities. But none of them apply to me. I am a white, middle class,
      person from a liberal/secular background, with the privilege of a
      heteronormative familiy life and a big education: no one is going to
      take my kids from me, etc.” I have news for you: none of that is why you have not (yet) been harassed for your religion. You’ve been lucky, is all. I could say all the same things and I have experienced most of the forms of discrimination in the list. Most of my friends, most of whom share all the same traits, have also experienced discrimination and injustice. And no, we don’t live in Alabama, but in a fairly liberal part of the country.

      • http://www.myownashram.wordpress.com Niki Whiting

        Sadly, discrimination and injustice are all too common. I’m not saying it can’t happen; I’m saying it’s unlikely right now in my life, as far as my religious beliefs go. I have faced more problems just by being female. My point was: is my pagan experience still valid if I haven’t been persecuted? Star’s post made it sound like without persecution a person’s experience of paganism is incomplete.

        • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

          I didn’t get that at all, and whatever discrimination I’ve faced as a polytheist have been pretty low-level — but then, I’m disabled and don’t work, don’t have kids, and tend not to date non-pagans/polytheists, so I’m going to be that much further cut off from the experiences of pagans still invested in “mainstream” culture, to some extent.  I don’t think a pagan lacking any feelings of being discriminated against in hi/r life has an incomplete experience, at least assuming they’re aware that it does happen to others and may happen to them in the future, but I guess that’s less “complete” than it is “informed”.

          It’s also true that the more “out” pagans and polytheists are about their religion, the more likely they are to face discrimination.  Some paths are initiatory and many of those seem to frown upon unnecessary “advertisement” that one is part of that path.  A disproportionate number of religious reconstructionists (when compared to more modern-minded pagan religions) are fairly conservative in both politics and aesthetics, and sometimes that balances out any potential for discrimination because clearly they’re “one of the good ones” who at least has the apparent “decency” to “act Abrahamic in public”.  Some small towns are really open-minded and friendly, others are super-conservative and mistrusting of anything outside the ordinary; larger cities tend to be pretty relaxed about the religion of co-workers, but some metropolis neighbourhoods are really no better than the most closed-minded small towns.  The pagan experience is really a mixed bag, based on a number of circumstances and factors, just like any other minority experience.

  • http://www.myownashram.wordpress.com Niki Whiting

    I don’t care whether you (Star, other commenters, pagans, non-pagans, whoever you might be reader) approve of Andrew Bowen’s mission and/or writing style. However, I am disgusted with the level of discourse here. Most people sound like just because they were alone in the wilderness of their spiritual journey and had to spend years reading through every book before even finding a trad or a teacher that other people need to suffer the hard, lonely world of being a pagan too. Is a person’s paganism less ‘authentic’, less ‘worthy’ if they aren’t persecuted? If they are openly practicing and looking to a greater community for guidance? Isn’t Andrew reading enough? It sounds like he’s not doing it the way YOU did it. Wouldn’t you have wanted some one to guide you? Offer you advice? Suggestions? “Go out and do the research yourself.” Sounds like he’s doing that. While working on my PhD I am expected to go out and do the research – and then I write it up and my peers and my adviser tell me what’s up. Andrew is no doctoral student, but it seems like he’s doing something similar: researching, looking to his peers, and asking an adviser.

    The other thing that worries me is that paganism and persecution seem to go hand in hand. Star asks:
    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?

    I fully realize that for many people these things are fearsome realities. But none of them apply to me. I am a white, middle class, person from a liberal/secular background, with the privilege of a heteronormative familiy life and a big education: no one is going to take my kids from me, etc. But is my paganism less valid because I am not now, nor ever have been, nor expect to be harassed or persecuted because of my religion?

    If that’s the requirement for making some one’s efforts and journey in paganism ‘authentic’ then I guess I’m not part of the clan.

    • Danacorby

      Niki, you said “I fully realize that for many people these things are fearsome
      realities. But none of them apply to me. I am a white, middle class,
      person from a liberal/secular background, with the privilege of a
      heteronormative familiy life and a big education: no one is going to
      take my kids from me, etc.” I have news for you: none of that is why you have not (yet) been harassed for your religion. You’ve been lucky, is all. I could say all the same things and I have experienced most of the forms of discrimination in the list. Most of my friends, most of whom share all the same traits, have also experienced discrimination and injustice. And no, we don’t live in Alabama, but in a fairly liberal part of the country.

      • http://www.myownashram.wordpress.com Niki Whiting

        Sadly, discrimination and injustice are all too common. I’m not saying it can’t happen; I’m saying it’s unlikely right now in my life, as far as my religious beliefs go. I have faced more problems just by being female. My point was: is my pagan experience still valid if I haven’t been persecuted? Star’s post made it sound like without persecution a person’s experience of paganism is incomplete.

        • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

          I didn’t get that at all, and whatever discrimination I’ve faced as a polytheist have been pretty low-level — but then, I’m disabled and don’t work, don’t have kids, and tend not to date non-pagans/polytheists, so I’m going to be that much further cut off from the experiences of pagans still invested in “mainstream” culture, to some extent.  I don’t think a pagan lacking any feelings of being discriminated against in hi/r life has an incomplete experience, at least assuming they’re aware that it does happen to others and may happen to them in the future, but I guess that’s less “complete” than it is “informed”.

          It’s also true that the more “out” pagans and polytheists are about their religion, the more likely they are to face discrimination.  Some paths are initiatory and many of those seem to frown upon unnecessary “advertisement” that one is part of that path.  A disproportionate number of religious reconstructionists (when compared to more modern-minded pagan religions) are fairly conservative in both politics and aesthetics, and sometimes that balances out any potential for discrimination because clearly they’re “one of the good ones” who at least has the apparent “decency” to “act Abrahamic in public”.  Some small towns are really open-minded and friendly, others are super-conservative and mistrusting of anything outside the ordinary; larger cities tend to be pretty relaxed about the religion of co-workers, but some metropolis neighbourhoods are really no better than the most closed-minded small towns.  The pagan experience is really a mixed bag, based on a number of circumstances and factors, just like any other minority experience.

  • Anonymous

    you forgot Kingstone, American Eclectic (yeah, it is a real one); Old Feri, New Faery, and etc… etc… We are out there, and you are courageous to be doing this blog.  (Even when I don’t agree with you.)  There is also this: in the “Hallowed Halls” when “outed” from the broom closet, it is not uncommon for Wiccan scholars to  …suddenly … find that his or her research is no longer “serious” in that process of academic shunning so devastating to one’s career. 

  • LezlieKinyon

    you forgot Kingstone, American Eclectic (yeah, it is a real one); Old Feri, New Faery, and etc… etc… We are out there, and you are courageous to be doing this blog.  (Even when I don’t agree with you.)  There is also this: in the “Hallowed Halls” when “outed” from the broom closet, it is not uncommon for Wiccan scholars to  …suddenly … find that his or her research is no longer “serious” in that process of academic shunning so devastating to one’s career. 

  • Anonymous

    Star- just read over Andrew’s blog- friends like this we don’t need: “… although Satanism sometimes falls under the wider Pagan umbrella which includes the various Wiccan traditions.” His “mentor” seems to be a bit… well…. uninformed.  The best description of modern Wicca I’ve encountered  in a research setting is  a dissertation by Dr. Roxana Wales While she went on to better things, she did some good research, mostly around No. California.  (A bit old now and needs to be updated, but here it is:)   http://www.worldcat.org/title/dancing-the-wheel-a-study-in-wicca-and-a-psychological-interpretation-of-an-alternative-religious-practice/oclc/34481232?referer=list_view

    In the broader Pagan community, an alum of my graduate school, Dr. Dennis Carpenter (of Circle Farm) did a pretty good dissertation as well. Andrew Bowen (bless ‘im) needs must do his research at greater depth.

    • http://twitter.com/SkyeWindsong Skye Windsong

      I’m not sure I understand the problem with that particular quoted statement.  Some Satanists do consider themselves Pagan, and doesn’t the “Pagan Umbrella” include Wicca?  Over on PaganSpace.net there is an ongoing discussion/argument between Satanists, other Pagans, and eve non-Pagans about whether Satanists are or are not Pagan.

      • Anonymous

        I will not enter this argument -  it’s been debunked for over three decades.  I refer you to any number of Pagan journals and the long-missed Green Egg Forum.  I agree with Elder and co-founder of CAW, Morning Glory Zell (from memory, this may not be an exact quotation): “Satanism is a form of Christianity. We are not Christians.” ’nuff said. 

        • http://twitter.com/SkyeWindsong Skye Windsong

          I wasn’t inviting you to argue.  I’m not a Satanist, so it doesn’t personally concern me whether or not they are to be included under the umbrella.  I was simply stating that many actual Satanists consider themselves Pagan and I don’t think it’s up to me or anyone else to define someone else’s religion/spirituality as I would not enjoy having someone define MINE for me.

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          “Satanism is a form of Christianity. We are not Christians.”

          That is a common statement made by ignorant people.  Modern Satanism includes a great deal that is not inverted Christianity.  Look into the Temple of Set.

          Disclaimer:  I am not any kind of Satanist, and I can’t imagine why any sane person would choose that label, but some do.  It’s not my place to tell them what to call their tradition.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

        Agreed. Since some Satanists (LaVeyan or otherwise) do consider themselves to be pagan–and also considering that certain practices related to the magical or ritual side of Satanism are heavily connected to rituals practiced by many who identify as pagan–casually mentioning that Satanism sometimes falls under the diverse umbrella of paganism doesn’t seem far-fetched to me. Sure, some Satanists have been heavily vocal in their criticism of other traditions such as Wicca, neo-paganism, Thelema/OTO, Chaos magick, etc., but in-fighting among any diverse group of people is bound to happen (as this article and subsequent discussion can absolutely attest).

        • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

          Technically, LaVeyan Satanism, as explained in The Satanic Bible is open to re-interpretation based on the dominant religion.  LaVey himself stated that if Christians had lost the Holy War, then there would still likely be a stand-in for “Satanism” with similar traits.  He also was of the opinion that in India, where Hindu paths dominate, that it’s the sects that revere Kali and similar deities that are the stand-in-Satanists, and if Greco-Roman polytheism had won Rome, it would be the Dionysian ecstatics, as opposed to the Orphics, who are Dionysian ascetics, and similar paths who would be the Satanic-stand-ins.

          Honestly, as an ex-LaVeyan, I am personally of the opinion that TSB is basically kinda like a mystified Neitzche for Dummies with some of the neo-Fascism of Rand and that LaVey was clearly smart enough to write his work as being vague enough to appeal to a certain mindset independent of one’s previous religion of origin.  Yeah, he seemed to be of the false assumption that all mainstream polytheists of ancient Europe and modern Asia are somehow essentially all of ascetic schools, but he also seemed to have a low opinion of people in general, so it also seems entirely plausible that he knew that wasn’t the case, but assumed most people who’d send in their $100 wouldn’t check his facts.  Considering most of the Satanists I’ve known, that’s probably not too far off from the truth.

  • LezlieKinyon

    Star- just read over Andrew’s blog- friends like this we don’t need: “… although Satanism sometimes falls under the wider Pagan umbrella which includes the various Wiccan traditions.” His “mentor” seems to be a bit… well…. uninformed.  The best description of modern Wicca I’ve encountered  in a research setting is  a dissertation by Dr. Roxana Wales While she went on to better things, she did some good research, mostly around No. California.  (A bit old now and needs to be updated, but here it is:)   http://www.worldcat.org/title/dancing-the-wheel-a-study-in-wicca-and-a-psychological-interpretation-of-an-alternative-religious-practice/oclc/34481232?referer=list_view

    In the broader Pagan community, an alum of my graduate school, Dr. Dennis Carpenter (of Circle Farm) did a pretty good dissertation as well. Andrew Bowen (bless ‘im) needs must do his research at greater depth.

    • http://twitter.com/SkyeWindsong Skye Windsong

      I’m not sure I understand the problem with that particular quoted statement.  Some Satanists do consider themselves Pagan, and doesn’t the “Pagan Umbrella” include Wicca?  Over on PaganSpace.net there is an ongoing discussion/argument between Satanists, other Pagans, and eve non-Pagans about whether Satanists are or are not Pagan.

      • LezlieKinyon

        I will not enter this argument -  it’s been debunked for over three decades.  I refer you to any number of Pagan journals and the long-missed Green Egg Forum.  I agree with Elder and co-founder of CAW, Morning Glory Zell (from memory, this may not be an exact quotation): “Satanism is a form of Christianity. We are not Christians.” ’nuff said. 

        • http://twitter.com/SkyeWindsong Skye Windsong

          I wasn’t inviting you to argue.  I’m not a Satanist, so it doesn’t personally concern me whether or not they are to be included under the umbrella.  I was simply stating that many actual Satanists consider themselves Pagan and I don’t think it’s up to me or anyone else to define someone else’s religion/spirituality as I would not enjoy having someone define MINE for me.

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          “Satanism is a form of Christianity. We are not Christians.”

          That is a common statement made by ignorant people.  Modern Satanism includes a great deal that is not inverted Christianity.  Look into the Temple of Set.

          Disclaimer:  I am not any kind of Satanist, and I can’t imagine why any sane person would choose that label, but some do.  It’s not my place to tell them what to call their tradition.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4HJ3QXXZXABVM5KJ7MO2CK2UNA Charles

        Agreed. Since some Satanists (LaVeyan or otherwise) do consider themselves to be pagan–and also considering that certain practices related to the magical or ritual side of Satanism are heavily connected to rituals practiced by many who identify as pagan–casually mentioning that Satanism sometimes falls under the diverse umbrella of paganism doesn’t seem far-fetched to me. Sure, some Satanists have been heavily vocal in their criticism of other traditions such as Wicca, neo-paganism, Thelema/OTO, Chaos magick, etc., but in-fighting among any diverse group of people is bound to happen (as this article and subsequent discussion can absolutely attest).

        • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

          Technically, LaVeyan Satanism, as explained in The Satanic Bible is open to re-interpretation based on the dominant religion.  LaVey himself stated that if Christians had lost the Holy War, then there would still likely be a stand-in for “Satanism” with similar traits.  He also was of the opinion that in India, where Hindu paths dominate, that it’s the sects that revere Kali and similar deities that are the stand-in-Satanists, and if Greco-Roman polytheism had won Rome, it would be the Dionysian ecstatics, as opposed to the Orphics, who are Dionysian ascetics, and similar paths who would be the Satanic-stand-ins.

          Honestly, as an ex-LaVeyan, I am personally of the opinion that TSB is basically kinda like a mystified Neitzche for Dummies with some of the neo-Fascism of Rand and that LaVey was clearly smart enough to write his work as being vague enough to appeal to a certain mindset independent of one’s previous religion of origin.  Yeah, he seemed to be of the false assumption that all mainstream polytheists of ancient Europe and modern Asia are somehow essentially all of ascetic schools, but he also seemed to have a low opinion of people in general, so it also seems entirely plausible that he knew that wasn’t the case, but assumed most people who’d send in their $100 wouldn’t check his facts.  Considering most of the Satanists I’ve known, that’s probably not too far off from the truth.

  • Chris

    I read your blog before I read his…. and your rant led me to believe that his writings were much more offensive than they actually were.  After reading through his post, I can see some of your points, but the aggressiveness and your tone in not justified.  It seems your anger is more about eclecticism and the validity of TRADITIONAL Witchcraft rather than his postings.  Yes he got some things wrong.  I don’t agree with some of the things he posted.  However, as an eclectic witch with over three decades of experience I find your reply to be extremely biased.

  • Chris

    I read your blog before I read his…. and your rant led me to believe that his writings were much more offensive than they actually were.  After reading through his post, I can see some of your points, but the aggressiveness and your tone in not justified.  It seems your anger is more about eclecticism and the validity of TRADITIONAL Witchcraft rather than his postings.  Yes he got some things wrong.  I don’t agree with some of the things he posted.  However, as an eclectic witch with over three decades of experience I find your reply to be extremely biased.

  • http://forestdoor.wordpress.com/ Dver

    I think the blame for most of these problems lies not with this guy himself, but with the popular version of Wicca that has been promoted, often by its own members. Everything you take exception to is something you will see touted in a dozen Llwellyn books or 101 websites – how can we expect that someone outside the traditions will be able to discern what is real and what is fluff? 

  • http://forestdoor.wordpress.com/ Dver

    I think the blame for most of these problems lies not with this guy himself, but with the popular version of Wicca that has been promoted, often by its own members. Everything you take exception to is something you will see touted in a dozen Llwellyn books or 101 websites – how can we expect that someone outside the traditions will be able to discern what is real and what is fluff? 

  • http://godsrbored.blogspot.com anne johnson

    If Andrew Bowen went into a Pentecostal revival tent and told the people he was just going to hang out with them for a month to see what their religion was like, they would absolutely not question his motives, but instead shower him with attention, love, good will, and casseroles — with the hope that they could win him permanently. Why don’t we start with that?

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Totally. I often pretend to be friends with people just to make them Pagan. Because the heathen with the most souls wins.

      • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

        Good thing I don’t take beverages up to my room anymore — or I’d bill you for the keyboard. ;-)

    • Cigfran

      > shower him with attention, love, good will, and casseroles — with the hope that they could win him permanently.

      And that’s what makes them creepy.

      • Rua Lupa

        I agree to the creepiness factor because of the reasons behind it. Much how Star below describes. Yet I personally wouldn’t mind someone coming by and being genuinely interested in learning what I do and taking part in it, as I love sharing the things I enjoy with others, and perhaps enjoying it together. I don’t see any harm in that.

  • http://godsrbored.blogspot.com anne johnson

    If Andrew Bowen went into a Pentecostal revival tent and told the people he was just going to hang out with them for a month to see what their religion was like, they would absolutely not question his motives, but instead shower him with attention, love, good will, and casseroles — with the hope that they could win him permanently. Why don’t we start with that?

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Totally. I often pretend to be friends with people just to make them Pagan. Because the heathen with the most souls wins.

      • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

        Good thing I don’t take beverages up to my room anymore — or I’d bill you for the keyboard. ;-)

    • Cigfran

      > shower him with attention, love, good will, and casseroles — with the hope that they could win him permanently.

      And that’s what makes them creepy.

      • Rua Lupa

        I agree to the creepiness factor because of the reasons behind it. Much how Star below describes. Yet I personally wouldn’t mind someone coming by and being genuinely interested in learning what I do and taking part in it, as I love sharing the things I enjoy with others, and perhaps enjoying it together. I don’t see any harm in that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

    It is naive to suggest that people like Star and Jason, who have drawn the limelight so to speak, do not have certain responsibilities to the Pagan community generally. 

    Star’s rant against someone else who is attempting (artfully or not) to lessen discrimination against minority religions is unhelpful and irresponsible.  As I have said above, I think her anger is the misplaced frustration of a trad-craft for eclectics.  I know she has denied this accusation, but her rant sounds exactly like so many similar rants we have heard from traditionalists against eclectics. 

    If you read Andrew’s post that Star complains about, you’ll see he actually does a good job of making the points that Wicca is extremely diverse and that he is only talking about one version of it.  What more do we expect?

    • Stephanie

      I agree completely.  It seems her anger is more about what is “true” Wicca (according to Traditionalists) than it is about his post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

    It is naive to suggest that people like Star and Jason, who have drawn the limelight so to speak, do not have certain responsibilities to the Pagan community generally. 

    Star’s rant against someone else who is attempting (artfully or not) to lessen discrimination against minority religions is unhelpful and irresponsible.  As I have said above, I think her anger is the misplaced frustration of a trad-craft for eclectics.  I know she has denied this accusation, but her rant sounds exactly like so many similar rants we have heard from traditionalists against eclectics. 

    If you read Andrew’s post that Star complains about, you’ll see he actually does a good job of making the points that Wicca is extremely diverse and that he is only talking about one version of it.  What more do we expect?

    • Stephanie

      I agree completely.  It seems her anger is more about what is “true” Wicca (according to Traditionalists) than it is about his post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

    It doesn’t take a mind reader or a psychologist to think that someone who reads this …

    “My Mentor stressed the importance of Wicca’s exploratory nature in
    general, 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.” …

     

    but hears this …

     

    “Wicca isn’t a real religion” …

     

    has got issues with eclectic Wicca.

     

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

      Sorry for the duplicate posts.  Technical difficulties.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

    It doesn’t take a mind reader or a psychologist to think that someone who reads this …

    “My Mentor stressed the importance of Wicca’s exploratory nature in
    general, 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.” …

     

    but hears this …

     

    “Wicca isn’t a real religion” …

     

    has got issues with eclectic Wicca.

     

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

      Sorry for the duplicate posts.  Technical difficulties.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

    It doesn’t take a mind reader or a psychologist to think that someone who reads this …

    “My Mentor stressed the importance of Wicca’s exploratory nature in general, 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.” …

    but hears this …

    “Wicca isn’t a real religion” …

    has got issues with eclectic Wicca.

     

    • http://twitter.com/whitestagforest Aine Llewellyn

      I’m not speaking for Star, but -I- read it that when he wrote, “What works, keep. What doesn’t work, toss out. Live. Laugh. Learn. And don’t worry too much about the particulars” I saw something that went beyond eclecticism.  You can be an eclectic Wiccan, not formally initiated into any tradition, but you can’t just toss out anything you don’t like.  There are foundations and basics that make Wicca -Wicca-, not just eclectic Paganism.  Star already wrote about this, ‘Why I Love Wicca’, and that describes best how I approach Wicca as well.

      • Rua Lupa

        That is the first time I heard in this comment board a specific, understandable reason for the raised backs to the “What works, keep. What doesn’t work, toss out. Live. Laugh. Learn. And don’t worry too much about the particulars” line. That is what should be pointed out as being wrong in his statement. I was confused until now because I had assumed that he wouldn’t remove those aspects of Wicca (which I think he wouldn’t of anyway), but that is still something that could be misunderstood on his part. Thank you for pointing that out.

        • http://twitter.com/whitestagforest Aine Llewellyn

          Thank you for your kind response! 

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      “It doesn’t take a mind reader or a psychologist to think that someone who” reads Star’s posts on a regular basis but writes that

      “elitism goes with the territory.” …

      has got issues with traditional Wicca.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

    This was supposed to be posted under Cara’s reply.

    • Cara

      Well…posts get lost when you’re busy spamming the comment section.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

        Sorry for monopolizing the conversation.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

        Sorry for monopolizing the conversation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

    This was supposed to be posted under Cara’s reply.

    • Cara

      Well…posts get lost when you’re busy spamming the comment section.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

        Sorry for monopolizing the conversation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-H-Halstead/1170545330 John H Halstead

    It doesn’t take a mind reader or a psychologist to think that someone who reads this …

    “My Mentor stressed the importance of Wicca’s exploratory nature in general, 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.” …

    but hears this …

    “Wicca isn’t a real religion” …

    has got issues with eclectic Wicca.

     

    • http://twitter.com/whitestagforest Aine Llewellyn

      I’m not speaking for Star, but -I- read it that when he wrote, “What works, keep. What doesn’t work, toss out. Live. Laugh. Learn. And don’t worry too much about the particulars” I saw something that went beyond eclecticism.  You can be an eclectic Wiccan, not formally initiated into any tradition, but you can’t just toss out anything you don’t like.  There are foundations and basics that make Wicca -Wicca-, not just eclectic Paganism.  Star already wrote about this, ‘Why I Love Wicca’, and that describes best how I approach Wicca as well.

      • Rua Lupa

        That is the first time I heard in this comment board a specific, understandable reason for the raised backs to the “What works, keep. What doesn’t work, toss out. Live. Laugh. Learn. And don’t worry too much about the particulars” line. That is what should be pointed out as being wrong in his statement. I was confused until now because I had assumed that he wouldn’t remove those aspects of Wicca (which I think he wouldn’t of anyway), but that is still something that could be misunderstood on his part. Thank you for pointing that out.

        • http://twitter.com/whitestagforest Aine Llewellyn

          Thank you for your kind response! 

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      “It doesn’t take a mind reader or a psychologist to think that someone who” reads Star’s posts on a regular basis but writes that

      “elitism goes with the territory.” …

      has got issues with traditional Wicca.

  • Jess

    You’re a very good writer who often makes some brilliant points. But you’re got quite the chip on your shoulder, and when your anger combines with your persecution complex it does not serve you well.

    And for the record, Feri, 1937, and Roebuck are not Wiccan traditions.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Which is why I prefaced that list by stating they were Witchcraft traditions.

  • Jess

    You’re a very good writer who often makes some brilliant points. But you’re got quite the chip on your shoulder, and when your anger combines with your persecution complex it does not serve you well.

    And for the record, Feri, 1937, and Roebuck are not Wiccan traditions.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Which is why I prefaced that list by stating they were Witchcraft traditions.

  • http://lifencompass.com Scott K Smith

    Huzzah for you “awe SNAP!”

    /applause

  • http://lifencompass.com Scott @ Lifencompass

    Huzzah for you “awe SNAP!”

    /applause

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marilyn-Kaye-Muma-Reid/1088571988 Marilyn Kaye Muma-Reid

    I think it is great that someone takes the time to learn of other religions and their traditions.  Just because they may not have all the facts right, shouldn’t discount the fact that they are open minded enough to look into other ways of thinking.  Thank you to Andrew for writing the article and thank you to Star who wrote this article and everyone who has posted here for your opinions.  Years ago instead of others disagreeing with your opinions and the way you see things…..you could have been at the end of a hangman’s rope.  What a blessing how far we have come!!!   

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marilyn-Kaye-Muma-Reid/1088571988 Marilyn Kaye Muma-Reid

    I think it is great that someone takes the time to learn of other religions and their traditions.  Just because they may not have all the facts right, shouldn’t discount the fact that they are open minded enough to look into other ways of thinking.  Thank you to Andrew for writing the article and thank you to Star who wrote this article and everyone who has posted here for your opinions.  Years ago instead of others disagreeing with your opinions and the way you see things…..you could have been at the end of a hangman’s rope.  What a blessing how far we have come!!!   

  • sal

    As a British coven trained traditional can I just say I am ashamed at the anger, hatred and vitriol that I have read here. 

    Most wiccans, witches or pagans would complain that the world doesnt understand their faith and then when someone tries to all you can do is cry and complain that he doesnt get the deeper meanings and has made insignificant mistakes.  of course he wouldnt, no body can get it all in a month.

    seriously to everyone who is ranting over this get over yourself. the goddess doesnt care so why the hell do you?

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      If the Goddess doesn’t care, why do we bother? I’ll leave out a PB&J sandwich for her and skip the full moon ritual since she doesn’t care.

  • sal

    As a British coven trained traditional can I just say I am ashamed at the anger, hatred and vitriol that I have read here. 

    Most wiccans, witches or pagans would complain that the world doesnt understand their faith and then when someone tries to all you can do is cry and complain that he doesnt get the deeper meanings and has made insignificant mistakes.  of course he wouldnt, no body can get it all in a month.

    seriously to everyone who is ranting over this get over yourself. the goddess doesnt care so why the hell do you?

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      If the Goddess doesn’t care, why do we bother? I’ll leave out a PB&J sandwich for her and skip the full moon ritual since she doesn’t care.

  • http://twitter.com/skeletonejack Mike K

    Wow Star. I’ve been looking over the comments here periodically over the past day now, and am a bit shocked with a lot of the reactions. I finally decided to look at Andrew’s blog today and something caught my eye. While I feel that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, that feeling goes right out the window when I see somebody being criticized for something that was misquoted (which is quite hard to do using copy/paste).

    From Project Conversion: “There really is no written tradition (SUCH AS A UNIVERSAL HOLY BOOK) as far as the FEY WICCA  is concerned and therefore most of the lore and learning is passed down orally.”

    I’m not intending to get into a discussion about how well or misinformed Andrew is, nor am I wanting to discuss the merits of what he has shared. I simply think it is a low blow to take someone’s words out of context for the sole purpose of shooting them down.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      That has been altered since I wrote this and apparently he didn’t have the good grace to note he’d made significant changes since first publishing.

      • http://twitter.com/skeletonejack Mike K

        In that case, I retract my statement. I had looked to see if there was a “last edited at” timestamp on his post, but there were no traces.

  • http://twitter.com/skeletonejack Mike K

    Wow Star. I’ve been looking over the comments here periodically over the past day now, and am a bit shocked with a lot of the reactions. I finally decided to look at Andrew’s blog today and something caught my eye. While I feel that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, that feeling goes right out the window when I see somebody being criticized for something that was misquoted (which is quite hard to do using copy/paste).

    From Project Conversion: “There really is no written tradition (SUCH AS A UNIVERSAL HOLY BOOK) as far as the FEY WICCA  is concerned and therefore most of the lore and learning is passed down orally.”

    I’m not intending to get into a discussion about how well or misinformed Andrew is, nor am I wanting to discuss the merits of what he has shared. I simply think it is a low blow to take someone’s words out of context for the sole purpose of shooting them down.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      That has been altered since I wrote this and apparently he didn’t have the good grace to note he’d made significant changes since first publishing.

      • http://twitter.com/skeletonejack Mike K

        In that case, I retract my statement. I had looked to see if there was a “last edited at” timestamp on his post, but there were no traces. It is good to see that he is actively making corrections/changes as he finds new information and receives input though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joy-Roberts/1741629159 Joy Roberts

    I realize I’m a little late in the game here. Nor have I read every single post here. But I have read the article, read some responses, and I’ve been pondering this for a couple of days now. Star, I have read some of your other articles, and my personal journey is similar to yours. I love Wicca every bit as much as you do, for most of the same reasons. I have a high respect for you – truly, I do. However, I still feel this particular article (note that I am not attacking you – that is absolutely not my intention) is way off base… even on the verge of being upsetting and offensive to me. Why? Because Andrew does not profess to be an initiated (emphasis on that) Wiccan or Pagan of any path, he is learning about it with true interest – a neophyte, if you will. Does that mean he will get more than just basics? Absolutely not. Not any more than anyone in any city that goes to a public open circle would. BUT…. most people won’t even do that much. Most other faiths teach that you don’t even study or learn about any branch of Paganism because to them it’s “evil” and you don’t even want to mess around with it (from their perspective). He is instead choosing, in a very public manner (okay, so maybe there’s a LITTLE bit of showmanship there, but why not? – Get over it) to take the hand of other faiths – most of them Christian, or at least monotheistic-based – and lead them along on a journey with him, and hopefully take our hand as well, so we can maybe dispel SOME of the negativity and hatred so that we CAN go to the grocery stores with our pentacle proudly showing, and all of those other things you mention in your article. By instead slapping his face, while calling yourself a fellow Wiccan, and representing MY faith. Well…. frankly, it’s offensive to me. Way to represent us as a whole.
    Do I think he’ll magically be able to dispel all the myths by himself and everything will be happiness and light and tulip skipping? Of course not. C’mon. But what he’s doing is a step in the right direction. This article, on the other hand, is a step in the wrong one.
    I still say this with all due respect, Star. I honestly do. Please do not take what I say personally. But as a fellow Wiccan leader, and one who agrees with you most of the time, I have to say I respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree with you on this.

    • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

      As Star has noted in other comments, Andrew Bowen has since edited his posts and failed to mark them as edited.  If you’ve read Mr Bowen’s posts any time after the time Ms Foster posted her rant on 4 Octover 2011, then you have likely read an edited and unmarked-as-edited version.  The only reasons Mr Bowen could have possibly had to edit his posts without making to future readers that these posts were not in their original form are either, a) Mr Bowen is a sloppy journalist, b) Mr Bowen is an unethical journalist, or c) Mr Bowen is making a calculated attempt to make Ms Foster look bad, in spite of usually being a generally ethical journalist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joy-Roberts/1741629159 Joy Roberts

    I realize I’m a little late in the game here. Nor have I read every single post here. But I have read the article, read some responses, and I’ve been pondering this for a couple of days now. Star, I have read some of your other articles, and my personal journey is similar to yours. I love Wicca every bit as much as you do, for most of the same reasons. I have a high respect for you – truly, I do. However, I still feel this particular article (note that I am not attacking you – that is absolutely not my intention) is way off base… even on the verge of being upsetting and offensive to me. Why? Because Andrew does not profess to be an initiated (emphasis on that) Wiccan or Pagan of any path, he is learning about it with true interest – a neophyte, if you will. Does that mean he will get more than just basics? Absolutely not. Not any more than anyone in any city that goes to a public open circle would. BUT…. most people won’t even do that much. Most other faiths teach that you don’t even study or learn about any branch of Paganism because to them it’s “evil” and you don’t even want to mess around with it (from their perspective). He is instead choosing, in a very public manner (okay, so maybe there’s a LITTLE bit of showmanship there, but why not? – Get over it) to take the hand of other faiths – most of them Christian, or at least monotheistic-based – and lead them along on a journey with him, and hopefully take our hand as well, so we can maybe dispel SOME of the negativity and hatred so that we CAN go to the grocery stores with our pentacle proudly showing, and all of those other things you mention in your article. By instead slapping his face, while calling yourself a fellow Wiccan, and representing MY faith. Well…. frankly, it’s offensive to me. Way to represent us as a whole.
    Do I think he’ll magically be able to dispel all the myths by himself and everything will be happiness and light and tulip skipping? Of course not. C’mon. But what he’s doing is a step in the right direction. This article, on the other hand, is a step in the wrong one.
    I still say this with all due respect, Star. I honestly do. Please do not take what I say personally. But as a fellow Wiccan leader, and one who agrees with you most of the time, I have to say I respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree with you on this.

    • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

      As Star has noted in other comments, Andrew Bowen has since edited his posts and failed to mark them as edited.  If you’ve read Mr Bowen’s posts any time after the time Ms Foster posted her rant on 4 Octover 2011, then you have likely read an edited and unmarked-as-edited version.  The only reasons Mr Bowen could have possibly had to edit his posts without making it clear to future readers that these posts were not in their original form are either, a) Mr Bowen is a sloppy journalist, b) Mr Bowen is an unethical journalist, or c) Mr Bowen is making a calculated attempt to make Ms Foster look bad, in spite of usually being a generally ethical journalist.

  • Mara Clemente

    Bummer…
    Guess i was right then…
    http://www.xomba.com/maybe-pagans-are-evil-after-all

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I don’t have the time to correct all the errors in your post, but men were killed for Witchcraft in Salem as well. Google “Giles Corey” for more info.

  • Mara Clemente

    Bummer…
    Guess i was right then…
    http://www.xomba.com/maybe-pagans-are-evil-after-all

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I don’t have the time to correct all the errors in your post, but men were killed for Witchcraft in Salem as well. Google “Giles Corey” for more info.

  • Guest

    “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.”Ah, yes, because these are all inherent and essential to the practice of Wicca as a religion.

  • Guest

    “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.”Ah, yes, because these are all inherent and essential to the practice of Wicca as a religion.


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