Something sinister is brewing under the waters of the Pagan community.
It is an adversary most powerful--an enemy which spreads falsity like disease, sugar-coats like a first grade Sunday school and worst of all, is burning through modern paganism like a wild-fire.
This enemy, of course, is political correctness.
However, this isn't just any political correctness. It isn't merely a means of being polite, or making an effort to not offend--this is a force gone to far.
This political correctness is actively changing what it means to be a Pagan of any sort--it is morphing once beautiful and meaningful religions from worldviews addressing the mysteries of nature into something pretty, plastic and downright silly.
A while ago, I was tossed out of a group on Facebook for teenage Pagans.
The group purported to accept all different paths, but after a brief discussion with the other members I quickly found out that their 'acceptance' was shallow and ultimately false. Acceptance, for them, was merely a word that they thought looked nice and did not comprehend.
The moment I mentioned that which could potentially be construed as 'dark'--negative magic, demonology, death for that matter--their reaction was of such disgust and fear that I was urged to leave the group and start my own 'for that kind of thing'. They were completely ignorant that the topics I mentioned have been part of paganism and occultism(which was discussed frequently) for thousands of years.
Let's take a brief look at the paganism of the past.
Gods of war? Check.
Gods of the underworld? Check.
Human and animal sacrifice? Check.
Direct address of human mysteries like birth, sexuality and death? Check.
So what happened?
Truth be told, I don't know. It's a complex subject. If I had to guess, I'd say that today's Pagans are so bent on being seen as acceptable by the Christian majority--and let's be honest here, folks, no matter how nice and pretty and sparkly you are, there are those who are always going to think you sacrifice infants to Satan in the woods at night--that they've taken to neglecting and often completely removing all the nitty gritty parts that make Paganism, well...Pagan.
Even worse, this is causing a simply horrifying amount of misinformation, ranging everywhere from basic historical knowledge to definition of terms to actual theology.
Even more disheartening is the the persecution, hatred and even denied existence of other groups within the community--most often the groups who actually stick to historical pagan concepts.
The following is a list of grievances against the Pagan community, not only addressing political correctness but also other areas where our community is lacking, misinformation first and foremost.
Here goes nothing.
1. Wicca is not an ancient religion. This is one I see repeated in all kinds of unfortunate places, namely websites aimed at seekers. Let me make something clear: It is possible that Gerald Gardner was initiated into a pre-existing coven. Witchcraft itself has been around for thousands of years, and it's perfectly plausible that he stumbled upon an underground group of practitioners. However, Gardner's Wicca is initiatory and oath-bound: the only people who know exactly what they're doing is them. Neo-Wicca, which is by the far the most popular, is based on however little information leaked from the original cult. Since the exact practices and theology of initiatory Wicca is unknown, one cannot claim neo-Wicca is an ancient religion--they've had to fill in far too many blanks, often with completely unrelated material. It may indeed incorporate some very old ideas and practices, but an incorporation of old elements does not equate to something old entirely.
2. Nature is cruel. I don't know why this is so difficult for people to understand. I rarely if ever see the darker aspects of the natural world mentioned by modern pagans, let alone emphasized. Worse yet, those who dare bring these elements into conversation are shunned as evil, or accused of attention-seeking and "special snowflake" behavior. Almost always are they accused of slandering the community's reputation. I honestly don't fucking understand this. If you're going to worship Nature, worship all of it, not just the nice parts.
Note: Not all pagans consider themselves nature-worshipers; this point is addressed only at those who do.
3. The words 'Wiccan' and 'Witch' are not interchangeable. Wicca is a religion. A witch is a person who practices witchcraft. You can be a Wiccan witch, but you do not have to be. Being a Pagan also does not make you a witch. Same rule applies. A person of any religion that allows witchcraft can be a witch, or of no religion at all.
I will not discuss Christian witches. That's a discussion for another day.
4. Witchcraft is not necessarily a religion. My views regarding this have somewhat changed since I initially wrote this article. On one hand, Witchcraft does not have to be religious; it can be practiced from a completely secular worldview. That said, many witches I respect see their craft as inseparable from their religion, if not a religion in itself. That said, I think Witchcraft can be successfully divided into two primary forms: Religious and Non-religious. Religious witchcraft, of course, refers to no single religion, but is an umbrella term under which many religions flourish. Either way, it is not synonymous with Wicca.
I conceived the idea to classify non-religious witchcraft merely as Witchcraft, and religious witchcraft as Witchery. The latter not only gets rid of the problematic '-craft' suffix, which exclusively denotes a practice, but is also more phonetically similar to the names of other religious groups(i.e. Christianity).
5. The 'rule of three' and 'karma' are not universal. It really should be common sense that not all people within such a large group would believe in the same concepts, but unfortunately common sense is increasingly rare, nowadays. I've speculated that the reason why so many people cling desperately to the Rule of Three as a literal, psuedo-Karmic law is because most pagans are Christian converts. Consequently, many are unable accept that good deeds go unrewarded and evil goes unpunished. They also seem to be inherently passive, unwilling to take matters into their own hands and produce change for the better(even those who have magic at their disposal), another common Christian attitude. This also plays into number two: converts are unable to escape the strict, light-versus-darkness worldview present in Christianity, and are hence unable to cope with any perceived evil.
I've noticed more and more leakage between Christian and Pagan thought as the latter attracts more converts. It seems Paganism is only absorbing the very worst of Christian behavior; namely proselytizing, passiveness and fear of the dark.
6. Like it or not, black magic still counts as witchcraft. Actually, if you want to get really old-school, witchcraft is entirely black magic. That's how it's anthropologically categorized: malefic folk-magic which utilizes grotesque ingredients and obscene behavior to produce change in the environment. "White Witchcraft" wasn't even a concept until the Church tried to demonize the Cunning Folk sometime during the Renaissance--that's right, demonize. Witchcraft had never been considered benevolent until recent times. The church's logic behind the label 'white witchcraft' was that even though the magic seemed helpful, the practitioners were secretly tricking their clients into diabolic pacts. Historically, witchcraft was neutral at the very best. While white witchcraft has become a concept unto itself by now, trying to exclude malefica from the definition entirely is ridiculous.
Or, at my inner Wicked Witch of the West is saying, "It was our word first. You can borrow it, sure, but if you don't own it. Go ahead and pretend you do, if you think you're brave--I've been itchin' for a reason to throw a curse all day!"
7. The 'connected God and Goddess' idea is not universal. This idea just fucking bugs me, especially when they take it a step further and say the God and Goddess are only two aspects of "The One"--and it becomes monotheism all over again. Everyone's got a right to believe what they will, of course--but, understandably, polytheists like myself often get irked by people invoking Lilith, Odin, Dionysus and The Morrigan in the same breath, especially when it's assumed that everyone will be fine with it. I find this strain of thought breeds massive cultural and theological respect issues. If all gods are the same god, why not invoke all of them at once, regardless of the beliefs of the people whom historically worshiped them? Who cares of Thor and Loki don't get along in mythology? They're secretly the same person, so calling on both of them will be just fine! While we're at it, Artemis is a virgin goddess untouched by any man, but she's also the sex-fiend Freya, so let me ask her help in this love spell!
Ahem. My main problem with this belief is that people whom subscribe to it often ignore the individual personalities of each god, as well as religions and cultures of the people whom historically worshiped them. As long as one actually learns about the deities they are messing with and honor their individual traits, I don't care what they believe. If they choose not to learn about and respect the individual gods, they should stick to the generic terms 'God' and 'Goddess'.
I can just imagine someone walking up to Thor and calling him Cupid. That shit would be fucking hilarious.
8. 'Embracing human nature' does not only mean the positive aspects. I don't know if you guys noticed this, but humans rape, butcher, maim, pillage, burn, disfigure, mutilate and murder on a daily basis. Take that into account next time you say "Our path embraces human nature as a whole!" Otherwise, your words are empty and useless.
9. Stop white-washing history. I can't even say how much I hate this. Most Pagans are under the impression that before that big mean bully Christianity took over, the world was some kind of paradise. I call bullshit in the highest degree. There was almost never gender equality. The gods were often jealous and vindictive, if not murderous and cruel. Famine, drought and war were frequent. Hell, do yourselves a favor and look up Roman torture techniques. That'll show you how fucking Utopian pagan society was.
In conclusion, quit being a bunch of goddamn pansies and read a motherfucking book.
Sincerely, Gel Childs.