I’ve been hearing some noise about people shaming anyone who enjoys reading Silver Ravenwolf. It isn’t uncommon to witness source shaming in the pagan community because a lot of clout is put on what and who we read. There are many avenues by which people come to witchcraft, though. Many of them “fluffy” by today’s standards but we should still honor them. I first heard the word “Wicca” on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” back in the late 90s and my first Wicca book was Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham. I followed it up with Solitary Witch: The Ultimate Book of Shadows by Silver Ravenwolf and Wicca: the Complete Craft by D.J. Conway.
My introductions to Wicca were, by some people’s standards, “fluffy.” Not only was I a pre-teen/teenager when I read those titles but I’m also completely unashamed that I did. Since my humble beginnings, I’ve read a much wider range of authors. I’ve also expanded my palate to include other forms of witchcraft beyond Wicca. My bookshelf reflects how my interests have changed over the years and I’m not embarrassed as a result. If you are then why? And, if you’re not then why do you feel like others should be? And if neither of these apply to you then we’re just peachy.
Discernment & Evolution of Practice
Those books still got me to where I am today. Has my witchcraft practice and beliefs changed since then? Yes, and thank goodness. And not “thank goodness” because I’m ashamed of where I started but “thank goodness” my practice continues to evolve over time. I consume all sorts of information on paganism and witchcraft, some of which I use and some I don’t. That’s called “using discernment.” It’s a skill all of us have, some better than others. It can be beefed up, though!
As a librarian, I come across people reading dubious crap all the time. But is it my job to tell them that it’s dubious or to present my opinion on what information they’re consuming? Nope! My job is simply to connect them to the information they are looking for, even if it doesn’t align with my own beliefs and values. If I do my job really well then I’ll have opened the door to a wide swath of information that presents all sides of an issue. From there, it’s up to the user to form their own opinion from the information they’ve consumed.
The other point is that people need to learn how to practice discernment on their own. The best way to get better at discernment is through constant exposure to things that challenge it. Because people are social creatures, we are very likely to rely on the testimony of our friends and family, as well as people we look up to. So, when we hear someone we trust say that they think Silver Ravenwolf is fluffy then we’ll likely avoid her writing and any other author that resembles it. In my opinion, we’re losing out on being exposed to something that isn’t an echo of every other author we’ve read. Expand your horizons, grasshopper.
Information Has Value
If you’re someone who needs permission to pick up Mama Silver’s books then here it is. Just because you read something doesn’t mean you have to like it or agree with every aspect of it or any aspect of it. What I charge you with is being open-minded and trying something new. I’ve talked about using the CRAAP Test to discern useful information from disinformation, so start there. Instead of parroting the same rote “reasons” that other people have created to not read a book, read the book for yourself and form your own damn reasons to either like or dislike it.
It’s no one’s job to be the Source Force, dictating which info sources are better than others. Just because you wouldn’t read something doesn’t mean it isn’t good or useful or worth being read. And just because your favorite Pagan Celebrity wouldn’t read something doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. It’s okay to have your own opinion of something as long as you’re not forcing it on other people. Information has value, even if it’s not of value to you.
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