Wiccans?

Open discussion for all registered members.

Wiccans?

Postby BahRayMew » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:13 pm

I need to get this off my chest or it will drive me slightly mad.

Lately, I've been running into a trend where people quickly leap to the defense of "Wicca" as being misunderstood or something.

In a internet chat which I can longer clearly recall, somebody decided to get horribly offended when I chose to mock his attitude that Wicca was some sort of religion of the persecuted minority.

You see, my impression was that people made up a bunch of stuff about "The Old Ways" and probably sanitized a lot of it for their modern sensibilities.

And bluntly, it's something I consider a laugh because "Pagan" that could be used to describe anything that isn't Christian. Which means that Buddhism could be considered a "Pagan" religion. Yet it seems that people have very specific ideas about extinct religions which worshiped nature or practiced druidism, magic or somesuch.

And of course, if you plan on rolling your eyes at Wicca, then you will apparently encounter the attitude that they are being persecuted by bigots and need defending. I find it frustrating to deal with honestly.
BahRayMew
 
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:40 am

Postby BahRayMew » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:42 pm

I should also mention that this article also has me slightly miffed:
http://www.pantheon.org/areas/featured/witchcraft/chapter-1.html

It's presumably supposed to be a website about cataloging world mythologies, not presumptuous editorials about Wiccan ideas of witchcraft.
BahRayMew
 
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:40 am

Postby Mythman » Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:27 pm

What struck me about the article was that when it talks about persecution, it's pretty weak. Kind of sucky, but nothing I would characterize as persecution. I mean, hell, at least they're not in Africa.

As for Wiccans themselves, I suppose they probably are largely misunderstood. I mean, there are people who think atheists worship Satan, so why would they be any better informed about any other religion?

That's not to say that their actual beliefs aren't just as kooky, though. If you're criticizing actual Wiccan beliefs and practices and someone jumps in with "they're just misunderstood," then cite your sources or ask to be corrected about what those beliefs and practices actually are, and then explain that they're just as dumb anyway. Being misunderstood is beside the point.

Personally, I respect their love of nature, but the stupid magic crap and the almost embarrassed secrecy is completely unappealing. I'm always willing to learn what someone else believes, but I'm also willing to criticize it. To the extent that they believe in the supernatural, they're on the same footing as the monotheists, and being misunderstood or marginalized doesn't change that.
Mythman
 
Posts: 211
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2008 11:04 pm
Location: Virginia

Postby ZenMondo » Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:33 am

"Pagan" is a tricky term. A common definition is any religion that is not Judaism, Christianity or Islam, which paints with such a broad brush it includes Hindus and Buddhists as "Pagan" religions.

In 2001 I took a stab at defining the word in seen in this entry of the Hitchhiker's Guide A Practical Definition of Pagan

Also on the Guide was this entry that has the sentiment of the OP here.
Wicca - a Legacy of Persecution I started the discussion thread there "Wicca is not ancient" which I re-read every 3 years or so. (Reading again tonight). The posts referenced here are long before my realization of atheism, and I have to admit some of this stuff seems pretty silly 9 years on. But hey, I'd like to see the kind of stuff you guys were posting when the Millennium was new. [/url]
Certainty is the point where the margin of error is at its smallest but no further. A margin of error is always there. I am certain of this.
ZenMondo
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 9:11 pm
Location: Casper, WY

Postby BahRayMew » Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:25 am

Well, here's another specific example.

There is a blog written to review the medical accuracy of House MD, a TV show that airs on Fox.

Since I've been enjoying House lately, I've also taken to reading the reviews on medical accuracy. You may not watch the show, but I'm getting to my point.

Here is the blog:
http://www.politedissent.com/house_pd.html
It's written by one of those general practitioners who seem to enjoy House, but obviously has to point out the medical inaccuracies and misconceptions.

Anyway, here's our pertinent review:
http://www.politedissent.com/archives/5131

If you aren't familiar with how House MD works, well, it's a show about a misanthropic diagnostician named House. He's brilliant, eccentric, erratic and antisocial. Incidentally, he's also an atheist. He's basically a medical Sherlock Holmes.

So no episode of House would be complete if he didn't have his underlings break into peoples' homes to see if there are any environmental causes to whatever puzzling disease besets our victim in today's episode. Often, this acts fuel for the drama since it airs out all sorts of dirty secrets that the patient was deliberately concealing. (In House's immortal words: "Everybody lies.")

In this specific case:
Our patient is one of those Ren-fair types who roleplays a knight full-time but secretly practices "witchcraft." So he dabbles in alchemy; which has all sorts of potential for lead poisoning.

The reviewer, to quote:
"What was up with that whole occult/witchcraft angle? That came out of nowhere and added nothing to the episode, other than proving once again that TV writers can’t separate the wiccans, pagans, and occultists."

I'm agreed on the former point. But it's sort of the latter point and following commentary that also added to my bafflement over the whole Wiccan thing. Maybe it's horribly cavalier of me, but I don't see a terribly significant difference between "wiccans, pagans and occultists."

It seems to me that Wiccans are usually going to be occultists who pretend towards some kind of ancient lineage and genuine historicity. At the end of the day, it just looks like the usual "No True Scotsman" accusation being thrown about. And as pointed out, we could also say that Wiccans are pagans but not all pagans are Wiccans. The irony is staggering.

In short, it's just a stupid and arbitrary word.

So when I see a doctor, a supposed man of science, feeling like he has to speak up for religious tolerance in the most inanely politically correct way possible, I go a little crazy.

It's like the Emperor's New Clothes or something. Somebody. Please. Point out the obvious.
BahRayMew
 
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:40 am

Postby ZenMondo » Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:58 am

I will take the three in reverse order.

Occultists admit their mystery traditions date to the 19th century, though they use kabbalah elements and can trace some of their practice to actual medieval and renaissance era grimories. Scholarship is usually well researched and they admit what is taken from old sources and what is invented or reconstructed.

Wiccans are a 20th century invention but claim a lineage going back beyond the medieval into antiquity with no scholarship or archeology at all to back up such claims.

Pagans well are a catch-all term for any religion or belief system that falls outside of a culture's majority.
Certainty is the point where the margin of error is at its smallest but no further. A margin of error is always there. I am certain of this.
ZenMondo
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 9:11 pm
Location: Casper, WY

Postby BahRayMew » Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:51 am

Well the thing is that occult is commonly used to refer to the study of arcane or paranormal knowledge. Whatever that's supposed to mean.

As far as I can tell, Wiccans become Wiccans just by labeling themselves such. And since there is no process that hands down pronouncements about who or what is Wiccan, this just means they can dabble in mystical-sounding ideas on a whim without any pressure to conform to some arbitrary mainline.

Hell, even conventional religions like to believe they have some esoteric knowledge. Some sects of Christianity has somewhat democratic notions about who can get the holy secrets. But just because you get special revelation doesn't mean that you don't have people studying this supposed knowledge out of their scripture and so on.

Not to be overly pedantic about it, but neither Wikipedia or the dictionary seems to credit any specific lineage to occultism. And my understanding is that it pretty much refers to people who like dabbling in stuff that "science cannot explain."
BahRayMew
 
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:40 am

Postby ZenMondo » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:54 am

Well I was using the term occultist to refer to those who practice in such initiatory rites such as can be found in Golden Dawn and its antecedents.
Certainty is the point where the margin of error is at its smallest but no further. A margin of error is always there. I am certain of this.
ZenMondo
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 9:11 pm
Location: Casper, WY


Return to General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: joiingds and 1 guest

cron