Page name: Setting the Myths Straight [Logged in view]
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This is a short complication of myths (two to be precise, I'm working on a STMS2) that surround modern (and old) paganism, but mostly modern, cause well Wicca
Due to the availability of websites these days, and Llewellyn's complete lack of quality with regards to who they publish (heelloooo book deal.) everyone and anyone is able to publish their opinions and beliefs about modern paganism (hi) most of it wrong (well not me obviously/tongue in cheek here). You see it starts with one person saying it, and then another person copies. And then it spreads, like a virus, a plague upon the Internet, with the young and terminally stupid at most risk. Well hello nurse, here's the quick run down cure.
The biggest misconception I have encountered so far about Wicca.: "Wicca is the oldest religion!"
*epic sigh* I get the feeling that no matter how many times I say it, there is always going to be someone who jumps up to disagree with this fact. Wicca, is by no means, the oldest religion in the world. It's not even a toddler yet in terms of age when one is discussing religion. Wicca is still in that age somewhere between teething and potty training. (If you read that as "It screams a lot and shits all over the place" I wont try to correct you.)
One more (ahaha) time after three. One...two...three, say it with me children: Wicca is not the oldest religion in the world. It was created in the 40's by Gerald Gardner who started to sell books in the 50's after the British act of Witchcraft was changed to "unlawful mediumship".
Amazingly enough, no one had heard about this "ancient" religion until Gardner and Valiente came along and started selling books on it. Funny that.
If you read them academically and not from a converts point of view, you'll note the subject matter is more like fiction, a piece written to describe the romantic nature of man's (or more specifically woman's) connection with Mother Earth. Very much like Margaret Murray's Witch Cult in Western Europe, published several years earlier.
(Historians find Murray's "facts" not only dubious, but outright dishonest.)
Gardner's description of Wicca soon turned away from intellectual, masonic-type rituals (oh, by the way, he had previously been a member of the Golden Dawn-just, throwing that out there) to a simpler version which sounded more suited to ordinary plebeians like you and me. Well, more like you than me. Just as Christianity appealed to the peasants living in the time of the Roman oppression.
Gardner's info on this "ultra-secret cult" supposedly came from his membership in a mysterious coven run by "Old Dorothy," who has conveniently vanished into the mists of time. So, at most, we can believe on Gardner's word that there was once pre-Gardnerian "Wiccan" covens. There is absolutely no evidence of earlier "Wiccan" traditions Although there's plenty of records of other secret occult groups, such as the Knights Templar, par example.
When Gardner started his own public coven, the first and purest form of the religion of "Wicca" was born. But just as the Christians are made up of several different sects (the Protestants breaking away from the Catholics, the Mormons breaking away from the Protestants, etc.) Wicca has evolved into several different traditions in the past 50 years. The most well-known branches are Alexandrian, Dianic, and Seax Wicca... which are you?
What, you don't know? Isn't that like a Christian having no idea which church he attends?
And while we're at it, "Faery Wicca" is not a tradition. It's the name of a book. The "tradition" extends far, far back to the time of the author's publishing date. Same goes for "Celtic Wicca," "White Wicca," "Healing Wicca," and so on. Having a religion involves more than liking any certain author.
As with most "Wiccan Traditions."
Another epic line of vastly wrong proportions:
"The Christians stole all our beliefs and then burned our people at the stake. Never again the Burning Times!"
To begin with...but oh boy where do we begin...there were no Wiccans burned alive at the stake. It was everybody and anybody unfortunate enough to be called a heretic, and it just so happens that being a witch is a form of heresy. But their definition of a witch is entirely different from your definition of a witch, so really, none of your "people" (because Paganism is a Race now too apparently) were burned alive.
And for the record, the majority of heretics were hung first, or died in their prison cells from torture. Very few people actually went to the fire alive. Unless of course you happened to be a Protestant in the time of "Bloody Mary" the Tudor Queen...in which case it was "light a Protestant day" every day.
In the likes of America very few people were condemned compared to over here in Europe (you know, where Wicca came from) and although I can't say for every single murder, I can probably tell you that they were more than likely already dead before the flames even touched them. They only burned you to make sure you were really really dead and that there was no chance of you ever rising up from the dead come resurrection day.
Granted that there must have been a few people who followed the old gods who were prosecuted and met a very unpleasant end. But honestly the number or real pagans burned alive would be significantly small compared to the number of people who were not pagan and who were just victims of gossip and evil rumours spread about by hateful neighbours.
I'm also going to say this again because really, Christianity, not the enemy here.
I can hear the gasps of horror coming from the Playgans- how dare I say they are not all evil and wicked people for the atrocities they acted against our people!
If I'm going to be accurate (and I always try to be) it was the Catholic Church under the instruction of the Spanish Inquisition who at that time that were obsessed with the idea or eradicating anyone who was not of their faith.
They called these people witches, and accused them of being in leauge with the Devil- which by the way is an entirely Christian theory about a dark evil being that is the opposite of God.
These people were then tortured with every form of abuse under the skies, until they admitted to absurd crimes of devilery and black magic(k).
It must also be noted that the crime of Witchcraft was not the only crime of which one could be accused during the Inquisition. By questioning any part of Catholic belief, one could be branded a heretic. Scientists were branded heretics by virtue of repudiating certain tenets of Christian belief (most notably Galileo, whose theories on the nature of planets and gravitational fields was initially branded heretical).
Writers who challenged the Church were arrested for heresy (sometimes formerly accepted writers whose works had become unpopular). Anyone who questioned the validity of any part of Catholic belief did so at their own risk. The Malleus Maleficarum played an important role in bringing such Canonical law into being, as often the charge of heresy carried along with it suspicions of witchcraft.
Oh buy the way The Malleus Maleficarum or "The Witch Hammer" was first published in 1486-7 and it was written by the Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, two Inquisitors of the Catholic Church. It was their guide book as it were for finding and then how to deal with of accused witches. It contained a lot of lies and fear generating ideas that still haunts the Church today
At the time of the writing of The Malleus Maleficarum, there were many voices within the Christian community (scholars and theologians) who doubted the existence of witches and largely regarded such belief as mere superstition. The authors of the Malleus addressed those voices in no uncertain terms, stating: “Whether the Belief that there are such Beings as Witches is so Essential a Part of the Catholic Faith that Obstinacy to maintain the Opposite Opinion manifestly savours of Heresy.”
The immediate, and lasting, popularity of the Malleus essentially silenced those voices. It made very real the threat of one being branded a heretic, simply by virtue of one's questioning of the existence of witches and, thus, the validity of the Inquisition. It set into the general Christian consciousness, for all time, a belief in the existence of witches as a real and valid threat to the Christian world
They reckon that perhaps the death toll added up to atleast 600,000, maybe even up to 9,000,000 (although I suspect these numbers to be inaccurate. It could be more for all I know) people that died in the masacre that lasted over 250 years. I know why so many people cry out "Never Again" at the mention of "The Burning Times". I had the banner on my own website for a long time. But I dont have it up for the "Wiccans" or even the "real" pagans that died.
I had it up for all the people that were murdered.
I have it because Never Again, should there be such a time of utter slaughter, but I know it's human nature to be divided over God, and that plastering the words "Never Again" on a website do nothing.
And as for your beliefs having been stolen? Children, please. It's religion. From the very first moment man looked up at the sun and thought "firey giant that brings light and warmth = God!" we've been ripping each other off.
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