I’ve been Wiccan for 14 years now, and writing about it for about 11 years – over that time I’ve had to rethink a few things since part of this religion is accepting that what you believe can and will change over time. While I still identify – and get identified – as Wiccan – there are certainly some old tropes that come with Wicca-as-culture that I’ve taken a much closer look at. Some I’ve assumed, many I’ve rejected.
1. Spoon-feeding in magical texts is a myth. I’ve read some pretty fluffy books over time, with historical inaccuracies, outright plagiarism and less-than-novel approaches. Not one of them – not even the ones that give you a step-by-step on magical practice – can possibly give you a complete how to. I’ve met a lot of people who concoct some grand schemes to keep a magically identified person from doing anything magical that might somehow change their immediate reality, and some of them go so far as to make claims about books making it “too easy.” Notably those who complain the loudest haven’t actually read the books in question – and if they did find a book that does “make it easy” that person would not try anything anyway.
2. Astrology might actually have some merit. I’m not opposed to astrology but it’s definitely not the first place I go when making life plans or decisions. I blame my resistance to astrology on the way it’s usually packaged: if it’s something a Cosmo reader can carry on about, I generally want to avoid it. And while I don’t think it’s applicable in a “cross science way” since it’s absolutely not a science but a complex form of mathematical arts, I do think that its use as a forecast of my odds for getting hit by an asteroid at any given moment in time are pretty good.
3. Thoughtful, down-to-earth neopagan types are much less superstitious than their mainstream counterparts. Please note the qualifiers. Those who come grounded in reality and are in the religion because it fits – rather than because they’re looking to escape something – tend to not fear things like tarot cards, cemeteries, buildings at night. Because so many of us are so willing to believe the improbable, we’re comfortable enough not to give it much thought when the improbable doesn’t happen.
4. The neopagan types who are superstitious try a little to hard. Sometimes a building or person just isn’t haunted. Sometimes it wasn’t a psychic experience, it was just indigestion.
5. There’s nothing wrong with making money and living comfortably. Having enough money to feed your family, keep a roof over your head and buy a non-premium cable package will not corrupt your spirit unless your spirit is already corrupt. In fact, caring for yourself and your family should be the first tier of personal resonsibility. Martyrdom doesn’t come with any prizes.
6. Interfaith dialogue has its limits. There are some people where you just can’t get anywhere, and most mainstream religion is agenda-driven while most neopaganism isn’t. We typically don’t have membership goals or church building funds to worry about, making it easier to leave conversion off the table.
7. Neopagans can be religious bigots in their own right. One poorly behaved church does not an experience with the whole of Christianity or any other religion make.
8. Clergy should be paid for their basic services. There are personal sacrifices made as part of priesthood. As we get more pagan seminaries like Cherry Hill and more individuals who are properly trained, we should treat the services received and the people who deliver those services with the respect and support that they deserve, particularly since most people never go beyond a sort of dabbing-with-witchcraft interest in the religion but are quick to call upon the more experienced. This will also put in place much needed go-to points for weddings, funerals and family mediations.