Merry meet and Blessed Samhain!
This week has just gotten on top of me and I forgot to type up a blog. The plan was to record a personal Samhain ritual for you folks, but sewing my costume and prepping my author newsletter took more time than I expected. So, to make up for it, I’ve gathered a couple of questions from a friend and I thought I’d answer them here for you. I tried to avoid the type of questions you might see on your typical “Ask a Wiccan” style blogs, because there are only so many ways to say “no, we don’t worship Satan.” That said, let’s move on to our first question.
Why do you think certain secular religions assume we worship the devil?
As I alluded to earlier, a common question that Wiccans get is whether or not we worship Satan or the devil. The answer has always been and will always be, NO, but we still get that question time and time again. According to the beliefs of Wicca, there is no such thing as “the devil.” There may be darkness in the world, but we generally don’t believe it all comes from demons nor does it come from a fallen angel. Why, then, do so many outside of our religion assume that we worship a being we don’t even think exists?
I think the best way to approach this question is to look within the religion of those who make such assumptions. Most often, when I speak of other religions and their relationship with Wicca, I’m usually referring to Christianity. That’s the only religion I’m as familiar with as I am with Wicca. Christianity is the religion I was raised to follow, and it’s the first religion I and many of my peers had ever been exposed to. In addition to that, I live in a country where Christianity is the dominant religion. Where I grew up, it was assumed that if you weren’t a God-fearing Christian, you were a bad person.
As an adult, I’ve done my research on the religion. While the underlying message can be seen as one of peace, it is still very clear what that religion thinks of anyone who is not a Christian. One of the books in the Bible states that anyone who worships a different god should be killed. Obviously, that sentiment is no longer widely held, but any witch will tell you about the many times our spiritual ancestors were hunted—how many innocent lives were lost—all in service to a twisted ideal.
Most Christians I know are peaceful, loving people. My mother is the absolute essence of love, and she is a devoted Christian. She works to understand people and be compassionate every day. She listens and accepts my beliefs. So even if she might worry a little about my soul, I think she understands that I am just as loved by God as she is. I am blessed and protected and, in truth, I am Wiccan because of the love my mother’s shown me.
Unfortunately, not every person is as understanding as my mom. Their religion says that we are evil. It says we should be killed, shunned, converted. According to those people, we worship the devil because we don’t worship their image of God. Our oldest gods had horns, and so they painted their devil with horns. We saw the strength and power of fire, and so they made that the symbol of Hell.
The relationships between various Pagan practices and Christianity are characterized by strife and conversion. Many traditions that are now common in Christian practice have Pagan origins. Some things, like our Yule, become beacons of joy and goodness. Others, like our Samhain, are demonized. These conversions occurred centuries ago, so I couldn’t say exactly why. But there are people who still believe we worship a being their religion invented.
So, what can we do about it? Or…
How do we support and promote the healthy education of non-Pagans about our beliefs?
If you’re reading this blog, then you’re probably already on the Pagan path. Most of my Maiden’s Circle related work is geared towards Pagans. The Covenpath course was created to guide individuals who have decided this is the path they wish to take. Still, I often find myself answering questions about Wicca for non-practitioners on a fairly regular basis.
As I mentioned, much of my life has been spent around non-Pagans. Since I love to share the things I’m passionate about with those I love, I’m always happy to engage in a fruitful chat about my beliefs. Now, of course, there will be those who only want to antagonize and have no interest in a friendly and educational conversation. We’ve got to be aware and know how to disengage, as those talks won’t lead to anything productive.
More often, though, the person asking is genuinely curious. I believe, as someone whose goal is to establish an educational facility for Wiccan families, it’s my responsibility to try to answer them as clearly and honestly, and with as much background knowledge, as possible.
One of the methods I used when sharing with my mother was to buy the short book When Someone You Love Is Wiccan by Carl McColman. I read it through to check for accuracy. Anything I thought was incorrect or unclear, based on my personal Wiccan practice, I added notes to. Anything I thought was particularly important, I highlighted. In essence, I provided a mini-manual of my practice that wasn’t overwhelming and was written specifically to help non-Wiccans understand us.
It isn’t always possible to give someone an entire book, and in some cases, that could be seen as lazy. Most of the time, when someone asks about Wicca, the answer has to come in the moment. The best method I have is to simply talk to people. What you know and love will come to you. Many Pagans are passionate people, so we do have to be careful not to alienate a person who is just looking for answers. We have to keep our tempers in check when someone asks a question that we might think is annoying, like “Do you worship the devil?” Most people just want to understand.
Times have changed from when witches had to hide in the shadows. The secrets we hid in the night are ready for the sun. People are inherently afraid of what they don’t understand, and now is the time to help assuage those fears. Talk to people when they ask genuine questions. Don’t engage in un-winnable arguments. Be open and share your truth. That’s the best way, I believe, to educate others and support the growth, respect, and understanding of Wicca.
How do you talk to your non-Pagan friends and family about your beliefs? How do you think they feel about your practice? How do you feel about their opinions and how do you deal with them?
Thank you and with all the love in my heart,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
Today’s post was late because I made this awesome cloak over the last two days without a sewing machine. Because I’m a masochist. And also, I was putting the latest newsletter together, which you can see tomorrow if you subscribe now!