How To Deal With People Who Want To Pray For Your Witchy Soul

How To Deal With People Who Want To Pray For Your Witchy Soul April 29, 2019

One of the many reasons I am so very thankful for the Pagan Pride Project is the chance to be with like-minded others. When I first found Paganism, I was already considered “a little weird,” by classmates, co-workers, etc. I sort of knew that wearing a pentacle and coming out as a public Witch would intensify that, but at the time I didn’t care. Now, nearly twenty years later, I’ve written three books, been interviewed by national press, and speak on topics related to Witchcraft and Paganism around the country. I work for an interfaith Seminary where I’m encouraged to share my faith.

Still, here are a few things I’ve heard over the years…and still regularly do:

“I like you, but I don’t agree with what you do.”

“I love you, but what you do is evil.” 

“I’m not supposed to be friends with someone like you.”

“No one wants to be around you because you do that stuff. They may not say it, but they’re thinking it.” 

“You’re a sweet girl. But I know what the Bible says and you need help.” 

“(looks at pentacle) Ew…freaky.”

“I’ll pray for you.”

I’ll add that many of the people who said those things above turned around and asked me for a Tarot reading…sometimes in the same breath.

I’m so far from perfect…I can’t fully explain how far from perfect I am.

It’s kind of like truly imagining the distance between our home planet and the nearest star from our sun–it’s far, too far to imagine. That’s how far I am from perfect. I lose my temper. I talk smack about people I don’t like. I order take-out when I don’t want to cook and I fly a lot for work, even though I know it’s bad for the environment. (And that list is from just this morning.) But I belong to a faith system and spiritual path that encourages kindness and respect for others and the planet. I might be a jerk sometimes, but my religion is not evil.

Hearing the comments above sucks. It hurts. Those who are reading this have probably heard similar, or worse. It doesn’t matter if I mention how many articles of new clothing my Coven would collect for the homeless at our Sabbat, or if a young man walked from New Jersey to one of my workshops to ask for help (help which I gave by praying the Rosary with him, as my Spirits told me he needed prayers from his childhood faith), or if I was simply a nice person that day–helping out an elder or doing something nice for a friend. It doesn’t matter what I actually did. The assumptions and prejudices of others, especially from those I love, assume the worst.

Why don’t I walk away from these people? 

If I walked away from everyone who has ever said something unkind about my faith, I’d spend most of my time and holidays alone. Well-meaning, if uncomfortable, comments about my spirituality are not justification for throwing away  otherwise healthy, loving relationships.

Religion divides enough of this world. I won’t let it divide mine.

Now, in the very few instances when the relationship has devolved to only negative comments about my faith, I’ve pulled the plug. Fortunately, that’s been rare and I enjoy the loving people in my life, even if many of them are misguided about my faith.

Here are a few things to remember:

Remember that the hurtful things are most often said through fear or love.
Whether it’s fear that we’ll be cast into some kind of hell or fear that our affiliation with Witchcraft will prevent us from getting a job or a stable relationship, the person is worried for us. We know their worries are unfounded. It’s possible that if they didn’t love us, they wouldn’t care enough to say it. Their well-wishes may be condescending, but again, it’s their way of showing love us.

Take a deep breath. Remember they’re only trying to be helpful (even if it’s infuriating).

Be open to questions (even if the question makes you cringe).
Refusing to talk about your practices will breed more fear. Encourage your loved ones to talk to you if they read or hear something that concerns them. There is a lot of false information about contemporary Witchcraft on the Internet. Someone may be whispering outrageous stories to them in Church. Let them know it’s okay to approach you with what they hear and make a personal commitment to not being offended if you’re asked something particularly ignorant.

Answer questions honestly and without snide remarks e.g., “Well, we ONLY sacrifice if it’s a bad harvest…” Even as a joke, it undermines your truth and makes it harder for people to talk with you about it.

Be open about your practices as much as your Tradition or lifestyle allows
Even before I worked at the seminary, I wore my pentacle openly, but I was living in NYC where people generally don’t care what religion you practice so long as it doesn’t interfere with them getting to work or home. Unfortunately, this is not feasible for everyone. Butif you live and work in a place where you can wear your pentacle or other jewelry openly without fear of losing your job or subjecting yourself to violence do it. You’ll show people that you’re not the scary thing Hollywood dreams are made of. That can trickle to their friends and relatives back in the areas where Witches can’t be open. We’re all connected, Kittenz!

Understand that no one owes your their acceptance or approval
I talked about this in my last blog, too. This is a tough one to swallow, but it’s freeing, too. No one is required to be happy that you’re a Witch. No one has to approve of anything you do. You probably don’t approve of many things your Witch-phobic loved ones do. Agree to disagree and move on. When you stop hoping for or demanding acceptance that will never come, it’s easier to address fear and misunderstandings.

Do NOT tolerate abuse
If the “I’m just worried….” rhetoric turns into “EVERYONE HATES YOU!”,  you have the obligation to yourself to walk away from the conversation. Consider saying to the person, “I’ll speak with you when you’re ready for an honest and mature dialogue.”

If that becomes all  you ever  hear from that person, you may need to end future interactions all together.

Take your pain to those who understand
I’ll often take my hurt feelings to my longtime Witch friends–people who have been through what I’ve been through and can validate my experience plus remind me of the good work I’m doing. We can laugh or cry together. This helps me respond to future  painful interactions with maturity and kindness.

Don’t retaliate by using hateful words or posting ugly things online
I realize a lot of this post is in reaction to Christian folks. There are many supportive Christians out there and many folks of religions other than Christianity who can be equally as unkind. My experiences and many of those of my community happen to come from Christians, but other paths are certainly not exempt! It may be tempting to post a snarky meme as a way to deflect your feelings, but don’t. Reacting to vitriol with venom only makes a soul sicker.

Don’t get into a Bible-verse war
Yes, it’s true that the Bible tells women they can’t wear pants or speak in Church and that eating shellfish on your cheeseburger will send you to Hell…but if you bring this (quite valid) point up to a Bible-quoter, they’re probably only going to come at you with more quotes. It’s not worth it. If they know those previous items are in the Bible, they’ve already chosen to ignore them. If they were unaware, they won’t be about to let you teach them. I know I shared a link in a previous blog about responding with Bible verses and there are times when that will work, but in general, it’s just going to be annoying.

When it gets really bad, start being louder and prouder with your good work.
When you’re just fed up with defending, explaining, or trying to prove that you’re a good, kind person, stop talking and start acting. Organize a food or clothing drive with your Coven or local Witch friends. Volunteer at an organization or run/walk a charity marathon and collect cash in the name of your faith and an organization that makes the world a better place. Let people know you’re doing it. It’s hard to criticize a person for being evil when they’re going out of their way to do good.

Here are a few ways I’ve responded to the above comments:

“I like you, but I don’t agree with what you do.”
” You don’t agree with practices of healing, love, and living in harmony with the Earth? What do you agree with?”

“I love you, but what you do is evil.”
“Please illuminate for me exactly what you think that I do is evil. I suspect you know very little of what I do.”

“My religion says I’m not supposed to be friends with someone like you.”
“That’s a shame. My religion doesn’t tell me who to be friends with–that’s for me to decide.”

“No one wants to be around you because you do that stuff. They may not say it, but they’re thinking it.” 
“It’s amazing that you’re able to read the thoughts of everyone in the world! YOU MUST BE A WITCH!!!”

“I pray for you because the Bible says you will be cast out of Heaven. I love you. You’re a sweet person. But I know what the Bible says and you need help.” 
“I appreciate your concern, but there are a lot of starving and suffering people out there who the Bible probably thinks needs your prayers more than I do.”

(looks at pentacle) “Ew…freaky.”
“First of all, that was rude. Second of all, if that’s what you think, you need to stop asking me for Tarot readings and dream interpretation.”

“Your Goddess is really the Devil just pretending to be good. Messing around with that Goddess is dangerous. I’ll pray for you.”
“I’ll pray for you too, because your God has you all convinced that everything that isn’t Him is dangerous and out to destroy you. That’s a pretty toxic relationship. You should question who really is doing harm and good.

Witches in South Carolina! I’m coming to Myrtle Beach to talk about Brigid, The Morrigan, and Tarot!

Three classes in May. Join me! 

About Courtney Weber
Courtney Weber is a Witch, author, Tarot adviser, and activist. She is the author of Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess and Tarot for One: The Art of Reading for Yourself, and the forthcoming The Morrigan: Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might. She is a co-host of That Witch Life podcast. Courtney produced and designed Tarot of the Boroughs, a modern tarot deck set in New York City. She has been featured in the New York Times, Maxim, Playboy, Huffington Post, Vice, and the Thom Hartmann Show. Visit her online at www.courtneyaweber.com You can read more about the author here.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • My Italian friends tell me that seafood and cheese together is a major no-no. I will pray for your taste buds, my friend!

  • Dana Corby

    “your God has you all convinced that everything that isn’t Him is dangerous and out to destroy you.”

    It’s not their God who has them brainwashed — it’s the people who make their living claiming to speak for him who’ve done it. Because the more people they can keep in fear of eternal pain and torment, the richer they get.

    And a suggestion when they say they’ll pray for you? Say “I wish you wouldn’t. You’ll be praying that your god, or saint, or whatever will violate my free will and make me believe something that I not only don’t, but can’t. And in my religion we believe violating people’s free will is evil.”

    They have no comeback for that.

  • Patrick Fitzpatrick

    Great blog! After just coming home from a funeral (in which I wrote and said the eulogy for a great many WASPs in their own style) in the Bible Belt, I had a lot of questions to answer… mostly, “don’t you worship the devil?”. I kept my cool and explained our ways as if to a child, and it helped*, however I still couldn’t reach them with their belief in “white” Witches and all the rest being “black magick” Witches…
    Oh well, I wore all black with a pentagram shirt and my pentacle medallion out on my flight home. No one asked me anything

  • Axelth

    As a Christian, my prayers aren’t directed to any other than myself and my actions towards the external world. I think that is way past my jurisdiction unless a person asks for it or I am certain that it won’t negatively affect that person in any way. Anything that could create conflict (e.g. praying for a Satanist) is beyond my power and I actually consider it dangerous. Of course I would love to have communion with the greatest number of people, but I’m not one to delude myself, people choose their own paths.
    Thanks for your thoughtful input about “brainwashing”. To gently correct you, a lot of evil is embedded in Church and it is not supposed to be looked upon as a righteous beacon of light, the only One that saves is Jesus Christ, our only path to our Holy Father. Besides, reading this post saddened me to read examples of people engaging in discussions they don’t necessarily offer the knowledge to get into, or simply push their beliefs ignoring each one’s free will.

    Best regards.

  • Dana Corby

    You did not so much “gently correct” me as agree with my statement that it is not the Christians’ god who misleads them as “it’s the people who make their living claiming to speak for him…”
    Most church-goers do think of their churches and their pastors as a “beacon of light” — a way to gain the knowledge and learn the practices that lead one closer to God. There really is no other justification for their existence.

    Since you say you don’t pray for anyone unless you’re certain they will welcome it, my comments were obviously not about you. There was no need for you to comment, yet you took the opportunity to “witness” to us in general and me in particular. To, as you put it, “push your beliefs.”

  • Axelth

    I did not take it personal in any moment (yes, I do say a lot about my own ways of perceiving things, expecting a safe place to share it), hence my unconcerned opinion on the subject, yet when I’m told I’m not supposed to take part in a simple exchange of ideas in a public domain because “there was no need”, that is where I can define the type of person I’m talking to and/or the place I am. In any case, you just “pushed your beliefs” but with a different tone, it’s about perspective. There is no escape of it, we protect our convictions because it holds our reality.
    The key for a healthy discussion about anything is to not get offended by others’ beliefs. For instance, why project your judgement to determine things that never crossed my mind? I think we could both agree that most projections are based on fear.
    There was never such need for any commentary except for the fact that it is a natural thing for people to exchange ideas. What you take home is a matter of your own reach.

    Best regards.

  • Patrick Fitzpatrick

    What’s with the pointless comment? Strange to make one about your specific* Christian beliefs, even though the entire article made it clear we aren’t interested.

  • kyuss

    That’s easy – laugh at them and move on – just like I do to people who claim that “magic” is real.