Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Cleaning...

I was going through my electronic documents, trying to clean things up a bit, when I stumbled upon a copy of a letter from 2005.  A business friend, who had been interested in "The New Age", found Jesus.  Knowing I was Wiccan, she asked if she could send me a book which could "open my eyes"  to the spiritual pitfalls of my Faith.  I agreed to read and comment.  The following letter was the result. I thought it might 1) help Wiccans when discussing our religion with non-Wiccans, and 2) help those outside our beliefs see things from our perspective.  It's a bit long, but I think worthwhile. (It doesn't matter the title of the tome I was sent.  Most of them cover the same arguments and warnings.) I added graphics because ...well, to break up the space.

Thank you for the book. As promised, I have read it and am willing to comment. I want to stay as open-minded as possible, and hope you will be the same. There are barriers to this, however, based on my experiences with others. Please bear in mind, as you read this letter, that I am not holding you responsible for the behavior of other Christians I will mention here, nor am I assuming you share all their views. I can make an educated guess and say that you share some, but each individual walks their own Path and has their own emotions and views.

      We talked about “sacred scripture” on the phone. I can not speak for all Wiccans. We have no central authority figure or absolute doctrine, so I can only represent myself and those other Wiccans with whom I associate. I can say that Wiccans, in general, accept the Bible as inspired, but not as the absolute “Word of God”. This creates a problem when discussing our Religion with Christians. I can try and help you see it from our vantage point by giving an example to which you might relate:

If I were a radical Muslim, and believed in the Koran as the word of Allah, I might come up to you in your business suit and say, “You are a woman. Allah demands modesty of women, yet your hair is uncovered, I can see your face, you wear make-up and clothes that show your body shape and your legs. You are a tempter of men when you dress like this. You are committing a sin against Allah and should be punished. Yours will not be the realm of paradise!”

What would your reaction be? Possibly you might explain to that person that you are a Christian. You do not believe that the Koran is the sacred word of God, and you might walk away without the slightest thought that “Gee, maybe I should cover up more; maybe I am offending God.” You are confident in your Faith, and the beliefs of Islam don’t apply to you. As a Wiccan, I have read the Bible cover to cover, but it is not my authority – any more than the Koran is yours. I have read the Koran as well, not to mention the Book of Mormon, the Upanishads, the Near Eastern texts and several Buddhists tomes. I’m not bragging. I felt it was my obligation to do so. I live in a world where mine is definitely the minority Faith. I want to understand where the beliefs of my fellow humans derive. I am also confident in my Faith and am not afraid of exposure to the thoughts and beliefs of others, which (to me) is the real definition of Faith.

The Christian world does not seem to see it that way, which sets up another Barrier. I know the Mormons do not want their members reading non-faith producing materials. I know other Christians feel that reading materials on Wicca, or even allowing Wiccans to converse on their beliefs, is opening themselves to evil influences. What if I actually make a valid point? What if something I believe or think or say makes you question something within yourself? That’s usually the point when we are accused of tempting Christian away from Jesus. What results is a wealth of information only half true, which we can’t correct because we are then accused of doing PR on our own behalf or trying to sway the “faithful”. Can you imagine how difficult that can be? How frustrating? The book you sent me does that is several places, even stating that we spend a lot of time trying to point out where “Christians have it wrong”. Wiccans aren’t trying to challenge anyone’s Faith. We aren’t out to win you over, we don’t want your children to convert, we aren’t saying your Faith is wrong. We’re trying to say many of you have it wrong about US.

So, from the start, let’s be clear that I am not challenging your Faith in Jesus or the Bible. I’m interested in enlightened discussion, not debate over who’s right or who’s wrong. I’m not sure that is possible. The reason I’m not sure: Christians have already determined that we are 1) Satanists or 2) deluded by Satan. We have fallen prey to the Great Evil and so our arguments or discussion points are tainted by that Evil, and dangerous for you to hear. (The “you” is generic, of course).

I’ve been here before, and it has been an education of the negative kind. I always thought that if you had Faith, nothing could rob you of that. You have the strength to hear anything and still not compromise what’s in your heart. I feel that way about me, and I hope you feel that way about you. You found a Faith that gives you comfort and peace and answers. I applaud that and I want you to cling on to that. But I have the same support from my beliefs. We both knocked on the door and got different answers. Your coreligionists believe I have knocked on the door of Hell. Hard to get a positive dialogue going at that point.

I have read the Bible, as I mentioned, and I have studied it with both clerical and secular teachers, and I have researched the history of its various translations. There are interesting things I could share with you about what I found. Mind you, I’m not trying to disprove the Bible as sacred for you. It would only be by way of explaining what influenced me. It wouldn’t matter, however. It doesn’t matter if I find a discrepancy in the verbiage or contradiction in the text, or even if I use the Bible to demonstrate points of Wiccan belief. Know what I hear if I do? “Even the Devil can quote Scripture”.
  That shuts down another avenue of discussion. I could even say: “Look, I won’t launch off into what I found. If you really want to know, ask me”. . and then I’m accused of tempting you, luring you. So, I will only point out one very important thing, and only because this line was mentioned several times in the book:

“Thou shall not suffer a witch to live”.

First of all, if the Bible is the absolute word of God and should be obeyed, doesn’t this give you the right to kill me? And if so, you’d be in direct violation of a commandment. King James employed a variety of court appointed clerics to translate the Bible. The good King also had a lot of influence on these folks. At the time, he was under politics siege by the common people of northern England, as well as Scotland. Particularly aggressive and working towards his downfall were the people near Berwick-Upon-Tweed. These folks had long been viewed as practitioners of the old ways and versed in magic. The king was convinced that they were bringing every influence to bear to de-throne him, even conjuring forces to remove him. What does that have to do with the translation of the Bible? Simple. Suddenly, thou shalt not suffer a “witch” to live. The actual word in Hebraic is ‘poisoner”. Not the same thing, but now the good king had divine justification to go rid himself of political opponents.

The Book: Well, since I haven’t read Harry Potter, only saw 1 movie (under duress) and don’t particularly care for the whole thing, most of the book was lost on me. I can comment on things in general, however. Does H. P. make children interested in magic? I would think so. Is the author Wiccan? Not as far as I know.

There is no such thing as White witchcraft and Black witchcraft (and I found it SO annoying when the author kept saying “wicca witchcarft” ugh!). One of my problems with this book is that it seems to say Wicca is all about magic. No. Wicca is a religion first and foremost and magic is not what makes it so. There is a complete belief system. Are there people who are Wiccans that do evil things? Yes. I also know some evil Methodists, but that doesn’t mean that evil is part of the religion. Using Harry Potter to explain Wicca is like using Elmer Gantry to explain Christianity.

Some of what the author quoted is direct from Wiccan writers. There are some leaps made based on those sources, however. Yes, Wiccans believe in a God and Goddess.
 That is how most of us express divinity. Male and female appears to be the most basic dichotomy in Nature and Creation. Does God encompass male and female? I think that’s evident. We are all a part of creation, along with this planet, the life upon it, and the Universe as a whole. As male and female exist, they must be a part of the Creator. Now, do I believe personally that there is a male god and a female goddess standing at the gates of Summerland or anywhere else waiting for me? No. Do Christians really believe there is a man sitting on a throne waiting for them?
Well, some do and some don’t. Like your folks, some Wiccans need a touchstone to understand the Divine, so they anthropomorphize God, depict him or her or them as human. God is more than we can comprehend. When I think of Divinity I relate to an aware intelligence, a creating force. God and Goddess are the symbols by which I express that Divine spirit.

Yes, Wiccans believe that that spark of the Divine exists in Nature, throughout the Universe and within us. The nuns, in my youth, called it a “soul”. Don’t Christians believe that we are the sons and daughters of the Divine? Aren’t our gifts and abilities and capacities our gifts from God that we should use in service to others? I’ve often heard church members talk about seeing the light of God in all people; that is why all people are worthy of respect. Part of the spirit of God flows through each of us. So why did the author jump to the conclusion that Wiccans think we are God? Or that we think Nature should be worshipped? That’s a weird leap that seemed to exist only to equal our believe (that the spirit of life is the spirit of God indwelling in us) to the hubris of Lucifer. Taking the Bible at face value, Lucifer wanted to be as God, usurping the throne of the Lord. That’s not a Wiccan belief. If anything, we seek reunification with the loving Spirit that invokes us into being. Divinity is vastly more than mere gender markers. Divinity is greater than our own being. We are a part of God, but we are not the Creator.

As for Nature, I haven’t prayed to too many oaks in my life. I have nurtured plants and used herbs, I have respected the forest and the fields, and I have seen the hand of God in the changing of fall leaves and the formation of ice flows on a cliff. We believe that we are not owners of the Earth but its caretakers. By understanding the Earth and its ways, we are better able to appreciate and respectfully utilize the world we are given. Wiccans use herbs and stones to heal and to focus energy. We often call that Magic, but then we get misunderstood by non-Wiccans folks. If it is evil to use the herbs and stones of the Earth to heal and improve ourselves, then pharmacies are evil as well. Vicks becomes the work of Satan, and I should throw away my blood pressure medication etc. When science uses the Earth, it’s medicine. When I do it, it’s forbidden magic.

Using the gifts God gives you is encouraged in Wicca. Christians don’t believe psychic gifts etc come from God. OK. We disagree. The Bible is full of prophets, magi, and old men who shall “dream dreams”, but when we do it, we’re evil because we don’t do it through the power of Jesus Christ. . I understand that. It sounds a bit like “our magicians are better than your magicians” (Moses threw down his staff and it turned into a snake that ate the staff/snakes of the Egyptian magicians.) but I understand Christians are worried about the source of the power. We believe it is from God/Goddess and…. We’re back to being “deluded” in the Christian mind. (Sigh). But Wicca isn’t all about Magic. Some Wiccans don’t do anything magical beyond sending energy to others. If you feel more comfortable substituting “prayer” for sending energy, do so. And hopefully you realize we aren’t praying to Lucifer.

I have to point out quickly that Wiccans are not the ones broadcasting, appearing in, or scripting “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. “Charmed” (what drivel!), or dreadful movies like “The Craft” (shutter). These are examples of non-Wiccan folks making a buck out of twisting our beliefs to fit an hour TV drama format. They aren’t worshipping anything but the Almighty Buck. Why aren’t Christians going after them? Instead, folks like the author seem to accept that these programs truly represent our ways and then holds us accountable for them. There’s more frustration!

Unfortunately, the other component is that anyone can call himself or herself a Wiccan, write a book and focus merely on sensational externals. I don’t want a coven of teenyboppers, interested in casting spells on their teachers or doing love spells on the hunk from the football team. That’s not what we’re about, but the Internet generation is all into fast thrills and instant mystical knowledge (just add salt water!) It’s a shame. And when we responsible adults try to separate fact from fiction we’re accused of proselytizing.

Wow. There is so much more that could be discussed, but I don’t want to overload the issue. I will say, before closing, that it was nice to see someone actually say we should be treated with respect when spoken to. I’ve been accused of raising the dead (? WHY would I if I could?) sacrificing animals (disgusting) and a world of other charges. So much for the commandment about bearing false witness.
Be well, . And thanks for caring.


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