Every Monday and Friday in January we will be asking people questions about Wicca. Want to weigh in? Find the next question at the bottom of this post!
Wiccans are known as “Her Hidden Children”, but should Wicca be more public?
Naya Aerodiode (Silver Spiral coven) responds:
I don’t feel that Wicca needs to be any more public. At this point, there is sufficient information available to dispel any unsavory myths about Wicca. If someone wants to continue believing that I eat babies while kissing the devil’s butt, they’re going to and no amount of reason, facts or data is going to change their mind. The knowledge is out there. It’s not for me to lead someone to water and force him to drink, though. It’s there for you to take if you want. Be educated, or be ignorant. It’s your choice. I don’t waste my time with the willfully ignorant, though.
I am only public with my Craft among other pagans and occultists. I am not going to rattle on about my Great Work with people who don’t know or care. I almost never wear any visible signs of my practice in the general public. I am an entrepreneur and I don’t need or want my clients to know what I do; In my business dealings, I set aside all politics, religion, and anything else that could potentially cost me business. My parents and siblings do not know much about what I do, nor do they care, so I don’t make what I did in circle last week a topic of discussion. Among my non-magical friends, I don’t bring it up. It’s not any of their business. I don’t go telling most of my friends about my sex life, my family affairs, or other personal details either. “None of your business,” is always my reply when someone asks me my religion. A witch knows when it is wise to speak and when it is wise to stay silent.
I keep a blog and communicate with other like minds on various online venues. I do so in order to learn, exchange information, and explore new ideas. I welcome the insights and advice from others who are knowledgeable in their own Craft. I hope that my writing inspires someone, perchance, but I write primarily because it opens channels to communicate with others. That’s about as public as I like to get.
I’m not political about my Craft. I don’t have agendas to push or rights I need to declare. I don’t feel the need to make a statement. What others think of my Craft is simply not my concern. I am concerned with bettering my skills as a witch and passing the Craft along to others. If unnecessary problems such as thoughts from those who aren’t involved in my practice get in the way, I simply put them where they belong: on the sidelines. By doing so, it allows me to place my focus on my own magical development and the development of those who look to me for guidance. I place less focus on the external so I can put more focus on the internal.
Lady Moonshadow Xian (House of RavenStone) responds:
The Wise Ones have always been hidden in plain sight. They did not advertise in general but people always know who to come to when they need something specific. They ask around and eventually the person they need is recommended to them.
Throughout most of the last four thousand years it could be fatal to be known as a Witch. Even today it comes with a price to be at all public with your beliefs. If you are lucky you find a situation in which you do not have to hide your beliefs and lie about who you are. To be public can cost you your job, prevent your getting promotions, be shunned by family and neighbors and many other small ways. Even people who are generally accepting in their opinions will behave entirely differently when they have to deal with a specific person or group. “I’m not prejudice but I can’t be seen with a Witch, Black, White, Hispanic, Japanese, Chinese, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jew, Ba’Hi……..” Name your phobia or chosen group.
I am lucky that I have a situation where my immediate family know and do not care. I am open with my beliefs at work because I work for a Jew born in 1938 who has very specific and passionate opinions about freedom of religion. With this support I am able to be open and do public speaking and presentations. I do think that you have to be willing to claim your true beliefs. However, you have to be aware that there are always consequences for your choices.
In the past I worked in home healthcare and visited elderly people in their homes. I did not advertise in any way that might bring up the question of my religious beliefs. Many times I would receive a hug from one of my patients and be told, “You are a fine Christian woman.” I would smile and say, “Thank you.” Because under my beliefs it would cause harm to scare the old folks by telling them that the person they have been letting into their house for months or even years was a “Witch”. It was sincerely meant as a compliment. What they meant is that I have taken good care of them and they appreciate what I had done for their benefit. Why frighten them for the sake of my pride?
As Wicca becomes more widely known and accepted it will be easier for us to be more open and visible. It is not necessarily a topic that you bring up as soon as you meet someone. It is better to allow people to get to know you as a person first and if the topic comes up then address it as the situation mandates. I think going around saying , “I’m Wiccan” to everyone you meet would be just as phony as the people who go around saying, “I’m a good Christian” to everyone they meet.
Become know by your deeds and the way you live everyday. If someone asks directly what your beliefs are you should consider you answer carefully how you chose to frame your answer and what the impact might be. Every situation will be different. If someone asks me if I am a Christian, I will usually simply answer “No.” This usually gets a blank look or a condescending “I’ll pray for you.” If I am asked directly and specifically what my beliefs are I usually will tell them I am “Wiccan” and usually get a blank look with that response too. Some people are interested enough to press for further details and I try to explain in terms that they can understand.
I have chosen to be open and public. It is the only way to combat the misinformation and prejudice out in the world. If you stay hidden, if you do not let people know what your true beliefs are, then they will believe the people who have filled the world with misinformation or simply make something up.
It is better that people who follow the path speak for themselves. Actions speak louder than words.
As for me? I suppose I don’t even need to answer this question. I write about Paganism and Wicca under my legal name and I’m about as far out of the closet as you can get. People will judge us by what they see and experience of us. I’m not for doing away with Mysteries and oathbound traditions, but the world just keeps on moving regardless.
In The Last Battle, as Narnia is falling a group of dwarves “die” and go to “heaven”. They insist they are in a filthy stable though and won’t be dissuaded. Eventually the others give up on trying to convince the dwarves they are safe and sound in a beautiful place. They follow Aslan into paradise, leaving the dwarves behind. Sometimes I feel like this is what is happening in Wicca today. Some Wiccans are being left behind as others push forward into the future. What this means for the future of these two different modes of thought I don’t know. Will both views be able to maintain, to sustain and thrive? Will one or the other dissipate over time? Only time will tell.
What I do know is that public Witches have always fueled our growth and innovation, from Gerald Gardner to Chris Penczak. I find inspiration among that vanguard pushing forward, being open while maintaining integrity. It’s a fabulous tension to see balanced, a polarity of hidden and public Wicca, where expanding without also expands within.
I worship the Goddess in the dark shroud of night, hidden beneath the starry sky, clothed in black and seeking that which is not visible in the harsh light of day. That’s hidden enough for me.
In such an experiential religion, is there such a thing as a book on “Advanced Wicca”?
If you’d like to weigh in just e-mail me your short response (250-500 words) before Jan 28th. It’s sfoster at patheos.com.