It has been nearly twenty years since Satanic Ritual Abuse Conspiracies first hit a mad fervor in the media. Outrageous claims made by preachers playing on the public’s ignorance about Witchcraft and Satanism threatened to explode into modern day Witch Hunts. Luckily for us there were those inside various churches and mainstream organizations who helped to expose many of the ‘victims’ of SRA as the charlatans they are.*
Between then and now there have been hundreds of books, movies, interviews and documentaries attempting to educate people on what Paganism and Witchcraft really are. And yet there are times I wonder if any good has been done at all.
You may be thinking, ‘Oh, it wasn’t that bad’. But I ask you – do you remember having to have your Halloween candy x-rayed at the emergency room to check for needles, razors and poisons when you were young – I do. I also know people who had their heavy metal music and fantasy novels burned for fear of Satanic influence. My own mother believed that fantasy role playing games caused kids to commit suicide.
It is now 2004 and still every Halloween we are inundated with campaigns condemning trick or treaters and Harry Potter as tools of the devil. One of the more familiar ministries that continues to spread this garbage is exWitch.
In my own experience, people who continue to believe and spread these conspiracy theories are not only ignorant of the basic tenants of Wicca and other Pagan religions (even though many of them claim knowledge and experience with the craft), but they are also usually completely ignorant of the beliefs of modern Satanism. So how do you warn someone against something of which you know nothing but discredited 20 year old rumors? Why, make it up, of course!
It isn’t difficult to find stories of the damage done by Harry Potter and conveniently unnamed ‘Witches’ if you look for it. Some of the more common tales involve domestic pet mutilation, the invoking of demons, and levying nearly fatal curses on ‘innocent, God-fearing Christians’ for no other reason than the fact that they are Christian. This is the kind of anecdotal ‘evidence’ that gives them not only the right, but the ‘duty’ to slam all Pagans in the media.
But, let it never be said that I lay all of the blame for this mess on the shoulders of Born Again Christians. For whenever there is an outcry against Witchcraft, there come an equally vocal (and often times equally ignorant) response from self-professed Witches attempting to shift the blame to the shoulders of ‘those evil Satanists’. Never a dispute over the so-called ‘facts’, just scream that their is no Satan in Wicca loud enough , and they’ll get the message. Uh, yeah … right.
These are the same people who claim to be tolerant of ALL RELIGIONS (except for Satanists, of course). All the while, neither side of the annual Halloween screaming match knows what they are talking about as both sides fear that some kind of taint will come from reading up on this subject.
Curiosity is what got me when I was young and still new to the craft. I found myself quite surprised at what I learned when I finally set out to learn about Satanism. The Church of Satan website describes their beliefs simply – ‘We Satanists are our own Gods, and we are the explorers of the Left-Hand Path.’ A church whose highest pursuit is selfishness doesn’t strike me as the type to attempt a global take over.
While it may seem at times like a fight that can never be won, I have come to realize that accurate information is the only way to end the ignorance. There will always be those who refuse to hear the truth, and prefer to live in their dark world of demonic conspiracies where everyone and everything outside of their church is out to get them. Actively seeking out and fighting these people usually does nothing more than make you look bad (unless you REALLY know your stuff and are trained in apologetics). I find that the best way is the just keep an eye on both sides (it is better not to be surprised by their antics), and keep your knowledge for those who actually want to hear you.
One thought on “Blast From the Past – Circa 2004 – Satanists and Paganism”
I’ve been working to neutralize the Satanic panic misinformation for about three years now, but I realize and accept that for every rumour or ridiculous story you debunk, there will be five more in its place. It dismays me to see the same garbage spewed by “ex-Satanists” and anti-occult “experts” of the ’70s and ’80s making a comeback on YouTube and Google Video. It’s tedious and usually unrewarding to debunk this stuff, but I feel it’s important to offer factual information to those seeking it. If you go to the most hardcore, deluded anti-occultist and try to change his/her mind, of course you’re not gonna do it – but hopefully, by offering sound information that actually has something more than moral panic behind it – you can prevent a few people from falling for his/her line. That’s the most I can hope for, and I’m OK with that.