Lately, as I have been wading through newspaper stories about calls to book burning, Hell Houses, crusades against Harry Potter and trick or treating (which is apparently the devil’s work), I find myself wondering how anyone can take the ravings of the Religious Reich seriously. By now, any halfway educated person knows that Witches aren’t out to steal the souls of innocent little Christian children, right? Sometimes I wonder …
And as I am wondering if part of the world really IS stuck in the Satanic Cult Conspiracy of the early 80’s, I find people in the Pagan Community who seem to have a goal in common with the rightwing fundamentalists: the death of the fad that is modern Witchcraft. Online, I surf webpage after webpage of rants against everything from the Halloween witch stereotype to Fiona Horne’s character flaws.
My first exposure to Witchcraft as something other than a Halloween fairytale, was from a television documentary on Wicca in the early 1990’s. Since then, media coverage and the public’s understanding of Witches as real people has grown by leaps and bounds.
Wicca and Religious Witchcraft are among the fastest growing religions in North America.* This seems to be, in part, thanks to the media helping to make our practices more acceptable to mainstream society. No longer are Witches portrayed as the evil, misshapen brides of Satan, but as powerful, independent, modern women.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t problems that come with being ‘cool’. Aside from the influx of spell-begging, clueless newbies that comes every October, there is a definite trend of young seekers feeling that when it comes to Religious Witchcraft, it’s Wicca or nothing. Many feel that if the beliefs and rituals of traditional Wicca don’t sit well, they must somehow force themselves into a Wiccanesque-mold, or step away from Paganism entirely.
What can be done to help these young Pagans is being done, but change takes time. Storming back into the shadows and denouncing what recognition the media chooses to grant us, is taking a giant step backwards. They sensationalize us as they sensationalize everything … I imagine it would be just as boring to watch a standard full moon ritual as it would be to watch a standard Sunday church service. Special effects and fireworks let people see the magic they cannot feel through a television set.
I believe that it is only through cooperation with reporters and filmmakers that we will finally put to rest the ridiculous Satanic Conspiracy myths that seem to just refuse to die. True seekers of the Craft will ask questions, study, and learn that the life of a witch doesn’t mirror ‘Charmed’ anymore than the life of a Catholic mirrors movies like ‘The Order’ or ‘Stigmata’.
*Statistics from Religioustolerance.org