5 Misconceptions about Wicca for Pagans

I feel like I have to make this blog because there is just so much misinformation/disinofrmation that still pervades the Wiccan and pagan community, as a whole. I have absolutely no problem with people who use some of these as a personal practice or beliefs. (Also, this blog will be a list because yay! Lists are fun!)

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The Wiccan Goddess in one of her many guises

Most of the time I see a lot of these words, oft repeat, ad naseum, by Neo-Wiccans. It’s usually not by Trad witches. (Thanks, Llewellyn.) These misconceptions are outdated and intolerant. Especially, to the greater occult communities. At this point, I don’t think we have to aim to please Christians, anymore, for the most part. (Long post ahead)

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The History & Controversy of Wicca

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Tools of the Trade

 Wicca and controversy

As with the previous entry, which was made for those starting out and those who are not Wiccan, I am trying to debunk and clarify some things about Wicca that even some Wiccans get wrong. There are a lot of misconceptions about it, such as “Wicca is anything you want it to be!” or “Wicca is the oldest religion in the world!”. These are not exactly true. There really is no one size fit all Wicca and Wicca isn’t for everyone, especially in coven format, which was originally made for small groups of people. There is likewise, an attack on both Christianity and Satanism by many Wiccans and I find this to be outdated. For one thing, witches can have something to do with the devil or God whether Wiccan or not. For another, a lot of Wicca’s history is wrapped in controversy and at times, outright denial. This is fine.

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Brahman is not the Abrahamic concept of “God”!

While this has been discussed before, I am not the only one who has pointed this out. Many use ‘brahman’ to show Hinduism as “monotheistic”. (A part of me thinks this is done to ease Westerner’s fears of Hinduism.) Hinduism is not monotheistic, inherently! There is definitely monotheistic sects, but they’re nothing like this!

The story of brahman and what it is, needs to be affirmed here as much misinformation is present in Western regions about Hinduism. Most paint it as something similar to the Abrahamic concept of God. I believe this to be inaccurate and only sold to be easily digestible to Westerners. In my opinion, especially in brahamn’s nirguna aspect, it is far more likened to primordial chaos; a concept that is not far from Indo-European religions. (I.e. Greek and Nordic, and in such myths as chaoskempf.)

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Knowledge & the Superiority complex

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I write this, it is not such a pagany topic because it is something that effects all humans of every race, religion, and creed. Even people with no religion, have trouble not looking down on peeps sometimes. I just wanted to make this topic because when it’s discussed, it is usually not backed in data all the way. But I also want to point out why it’s extremely flawed logic.

First, I am going to lay down the Dunning-Kruger effect right here, for y’all. It’s best known as illusory Superiority. Where one doesn’t just think they’re better than other people,  but that they also fail to recognize skills in others. For our topic, we’re going to specifically concentrate on the people who believe they are more intelligent than other people, which the effect has a lot to say about.

These people can be atheists, but I have seen this permeate through pagan reconstructionist movements, first hand, as backlash against the mainstream paganism that is far less history oriented and academically based. It doesn’t stop there, it really can be anyone who gains some knowledge that begets their foolish notions of superiority. They can have a religion or none at all. (Trust me, there is plenty of condescending Christians out there!) It matters naught. All that matters is there is some sort of condescending attitude that really, fails, to recognize your fellow human beings as equals.

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This is the Maasai tribe, and they’re pretty rad so I included them.

So, now, let’s talk about tribal people. Many civilized people love to think they’re superior to tribal people. They’re an easy target, I mean, why are they so lacking in technological developments?! They’re superstitious, generally, and just all around backwards compared to us civilized folk, right? They may be violent or have weird rituals even! Obviously, we are more intelligent than them.

Well, er, not exactly. You see, people are not uncivilized for the reasons that others usually think of. Lemme start from the beginning… Homo sapiens are the only human species left on the earth. Nobody on this vast planet of ours, has been isolated long enough, to evolve into another species of human yet. Evolution takes millions of years. It’s slow. What does this mean? They have the same intelligence we do.

Another way of looking at it, is that even though we live in a modern world of tech convenience, not everyone individually knows how all the tech we utilize works. All the intrinsic details. We’re essentially going off other peoples’ ideas and works, in the innovations that allowed us to advance faster via civilization. Sure, people have specialties and may know how one or more areas work, but not everything.

Tribes don’t always exist on this level, since their lives are generally less complex in the tool spheres than ours. But they do know how to survive in dastardly and hostile environmental conditions without modern technology; a skill many civilized people have since lost. This means, that the reasons that they never developed civilization has nothing to do with intelligence, in the first place.

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The death of my fave philosopher; Socrates

Basically put, if you have all your resources met on a continuous basis, enough to make a permanent settlement, you are not spending your time surviving the wilds, you can develop the art, civilization, philosophy, and later science! Geographic location plays a humongous role in this, and explains why places, such as remote Amazon jungles, do not have civilization. If you look at this in the modern civilized stance, this explains why poor people have so many educational problems. It’s hard to take care of your education when you’re struggling to live.

For example, let’s look at the cradle of civilization; Mesopotamia and the Middle East. Climate change, the end of the Ice Age, played a role in food production. Local environments in that region began to become rich in resources. Foragers were able sedentism, or sedentary (settled) life in villages. Eventually, mankind was able to domesticate animals and plants, after inventing agriculture. More food production, especially a steady amount, meant more population.

It was a very gradual change from foraging to food production. These happened globally and some independently of each other. You will also note that many took place near rivers or large bodies of fresh water; Yangtze River for Ancient China, Tigris Euphrates for Mesopotamia, and Lake Texcoco for the Aztecs.

Sum it up:

  1. Intelligence has nothing to do with race, culture, gender, tribe or civilization. In on a smaller scale, this could include religion or not.
  2. People are still tribal in certain areas of the world, this is largely due to resources and geography.
  3. You have been born in a life of privilege reading this on tech. If you were born in a tribe, you would be the same as them.
  4. Homo sapiens have not been isolated enough to evolve into another species of humans.
  5. People have a variety of skills and knowledge, you don’t have, even if they only have a tribal background.
  6. The brain is a muscle, this muscle can be exercised.
  7. Being more civilized or less religious does not equate intelligence.

Now, for the fun part. Some great quotes by super, famous sciencey people about knowledge and superiority!

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A random pic. Stare at it in wonder.

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”

Charles Darwin

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

-Bertrand Russel

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”

-Confucius, probably

Other references:

Anthropology: Appreciating Human Diversity by Kottak (4th edition)

Documentary on Kali puja in Trinidad/Tobago

This is very interesting. One of the best parts is a black woman at the 14:00 mark who speaks of worshiping Kali. It’s not interesting because she is not Indian, it’s interesting because she goes onto say she is a practicing Roman Catholic and a practicing Hindu. Nobody sees anything wrong with this and I think that is great.

Hinduism within me

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Kali maa, the devi of time

Been doing a lot of contemplating and learning about myself. Something I believe I missed doing in my early 20’s due to religion. I definitely consider myself an Indo-Pagan and I have been looking into Wicca again. I am more of eclectic witch though, always have been.

Before I did Aztec reconstructionism, in my early 20’s, I was drawn to Hinduism. (I had read Mahayana Buddhist texts and Buddhism came from there.) I started worshiping Kali maa on the side. I did this for about a decade. Even as an Aztec person.

Over time, my views, quite independently, based on my experiences became more and more inline with Hinduism. I always revered Kali even not active in puja, she always had a shrine in my house, and she was always dear to me. I was always speaking good of her. I love her dearly. I also always believed in reincarnation and thinks of the nature of Hinduism without always knowing it.

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Kali ma with a third eye open

I spent seven years in the Aztec religion. Seven long years, that I feel robbed me of myself and my life by that religion. My experiences with many, *not all*, of those teteo (Aztec word for “gods”. Singular “teotl”.) was definitely terrible. One of the biggest problems I had, wasn’t just the lack of support from the community and problems with the attitudes they had which scarred me for life when I was a kid, but also as time went by, me and the Aztec gods didn’t just grow apart, my whole ideology clashed with theirs!

I just couldn’t be that mean, prude, and sacrificial. I could no longer support the slavery system the religion called for. I could no longer be that anti-human. I hated the ideas of cultural purity imposed (Though some Aztec gods don’t really give a f*** from what I seen on that issue.) and I hated how not-very-progressive the religion was.  And I really dislike their prude attitudes towards sex. (Yeah, that’s a thing in that religion. Even down to stoning people for adultery!)

Increasingly, because of my indulgence in Japanese pop-culture, (Shintoism has something to do with Hinduism in history) I could not let go of the Hindu cosmology. It is still used in much Japanese fiction and lore. And it totally fit my UPG! Everything I experienced. Yet the teteo would not have it, would not see it my way. I was a liar and delusional. I did not feel these gods were ever on my side and a lot of them just seemed to insult me. (They seemed to take other peoples’ side in debates, and then later, years later, apologized. It was too little, too late by then.) I feel like they contributed to my mental illness, in so many ways. But I want to make it clear, not every teotl made me feel this way. However, enough of them did to make me leave the religion permanently. (Also, due to scholarship, which other Aztec recons figured out eventually too, the religion never actually died. It merged with Christianity. I am not a Christian, I was raised one, and I don’t want *that* back.)

I was distressed in that religion. People were not as nice to me as they are now. I stopped believing in love. I believed in harsh things and hostility, because the world seemed hostile to me and I was hostile back. I was really losing it. Eventually I left Houston, after destroying my altar and I left the entire Aztec thing behind me.

I asked what religion made me the happiest, I thought it was Wicca and I have been seeking it, too. (The proper initiated way.) However, despite my eclectic witch leanings in my magickal practice, I believe I am thoroughly Hindu. (I still consider myself a pagan because of my magickal experiences and practices.) Specifically, Shakti Hindu and Tantra, which almost fits my exact beliefs I developed almost entirely outside of Hinduism. I cannot go back. (I don’t think Shiva will let me be Wiccan, too. But we’ll see what happens.)  Especially after the Aztec religion caused me to lose family and friends.

I tried a few religions, this is all I tried; Buddhism, Hinduism, Neo-Wicca/eclectic paganism, and the Aztec one–that’s it. (Note: This is over a period of years. Aztec religion was my longest “pagan” religion. I am not a religious butterfly either, contrary to the sentiments other recons say about this. Trying out religions =/= a bad thing. Find yourself and your place!) Nothing else. I can’t say I “tried” Christianity per se, because I was heavily brought up into it with family almost to the point of total indoctrination. Buddhism and Hinduism are not really that far apart, in many respects. Some Hindus even consider Buddhists merely an off shoot.

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Wicca lasted a few years until I got mad at all the bad history, this was my teenage years. (A lot of pagans start out as Neo-Wiccans.) Buddhist philosophy always influenced me during that time. Hinduism was exactly where I was heading until the Aztec gods bombarded me just because I like to study religion. I thought that was what was right for me, but it ended up being worse than Christianity for me. Kali maa was always there though, she never left me and I still have her statue from a decade ago when I was confused about my direction in life before the Aztec thing.

I sincerely apologize to anyone I ever offended or was unnecessarily mean to in my Aztec days. I was completely wrong. You didn’t deserve it. I was having issues with the religion, home, finances, school, and family. I do not ever want to be that condescending and rude again. (Except to my enemies and those who deserve it!!! Haha.)

Beware of any religion that says it’s the only way, but also beware of any religion that does not practice peace! Buddha was right on that one! And if a religion distresses you more than makes you happy, leave it. Don’t waste years of your life, like I did.