About Devil Worship, Flying Besoms and Such. Or Not?
Ever since I took my first steps on the pagan path I have been open about it. I’ve never really been in the broom closet. I don’t walk around brandishing it to everyone, but I don’t hide it. Being pagan is an integrated part of me; you can’t separate the witch from the woman, they’re one. I’ve never felt like hiding it, why should I? Of course I’ve had mixed reactions, but most of it was positive or neutral. People don’t have to like it, as long as they respect it. Nowadays people know more about modern witchcraft, thanks to the internet and media. They don’t always give the best explanation about it, but at least it’s known to more people. Years ago, before the internet started to become what it is today, I encountered much more prejudice. Not always meant in a malicious way, but often from simple ignorance.
So how do you explain paganism and witchcraft to non-pagans who don’t know anything about the lifestyle, the religion, the path? The misconceptions are a good starter point. I explain that witches don’t even believe in the devil, and how the pagan god became the christian devil. Or I start with the broom or besom and explain what that is really used for. Then it’s only a small step to what I do believe in. It depends on the person how I proceed. Are they really interested or just making conversation? The last one isn’t interested in an extensive explanation, the first might be. What is their background? If I know something about their religion for example, I try to build bridges, find comparisons. If I don’t know anything about them, I simply ask what they know or think about paganism. It’s never my goal to convince anyone, I just try to explain. I don’t proselytize, no need to convert anyone. If someone is interested and wants to learn, that’s fine of course. If the initiative is on their side I’m happy to help any way I can.
As I said before I’m open about my path. In real life and online. I’ve written about it on my blog and on social media. Sometimes informative (to explain a sabbat, or tools I use, etc. ) but often just sharing what I do. I share pics and stories about pagan meetings, about rituals, festivals, books I’ve read and the like. I show people the way I live and how paganism is part of that. That resulted in most people simply accepting it as it is. She is a witch, okay, move on. And that’s okay. If you’re not interested in that part of my life, no problem. If you have questions, please ask! Stupid questions don’t exist and I’m happy to explain what you want t know.
Of course I’ve encountered less positive reactions too. People that don’t understand it, or better yet don’t want to understand. People who judge and accuse without even knowing how it all works, based on falsehood and deception. People making fun of it, ridiculing. My reaction depends on who they are to me and how I feel at that particular moment. Some people aren’t even worth it to me to give a reaction. When it’s someone close to me, it hurts and I’ll try to explain what it means to me. Making fun of it depends on the way it is done. I sometimes make jokes about it too! If people respect my path in general, it’s okay to make a joke as they don’t mean to hurt me. Joking around is fun! Sometimes it’s done from sheer ignorance to save their face: “you’re a witch? Are you going to change me in a frog?” or something similar. I just smile and look the other way. I have a thick skin and if they need to ridicule me and my path it’s all about them and not so much about me…
Last year a dear friend asked my help in understanding the witches’ ways for a very different cause. She was writing a book in which the protagonists are witches. She wanted to know about things in general and ask some practical questions. Of course I was happy to oblige! Her name is Claudia Hall Christian and she has written several successful books. I got to know Claudia when I started blogging, before the social media era. We read each other’s blogs and I helped her before in promoting her books. This time I could do more to help her. I answered her questions and showed her the best sources about wicca, witchcraft and paganism in general. She also read stuff on my blog and my columns here in Pagan Pages. Of course I was not the only one she consulted. As always, her research was extensive and thorough.
The book is called ‘Suffer A Witch’ and will be launched on September 22nd. When you read this column, it will be available! Here’s a short synopsis:
“They call her “Em.” Em for Martha. Em for “Emogene Peres” the name she received in Boston less than a day after she’d been hanged in Salem Village in September 1692. Em and most of those hanged as Salem Witches were transformed into immortal witches only a few hours after they were deemed Salem Witches. Three hundred and twenty-two years later, they live, work, and love in modern day Boston, Massachusetts where Em runs a spiritual store called the Mystic Divine, just off the Boston Commons.
On the anniversary of the first hanging, June 10, 2014, Em learns that a young man and a team of ghost hunters have dedicated themselves to finding the crevice where the Salem Twenty’s bodies were stuffed after hanging. The problem is that Em and the rest of the Salem Twenty are making full use of those skeletons. What starts with a young man with big ideas brings the Salem Witches face to face with their demons.”
Claudia will also write a guest post on my blog. I’ll add the link at the end. She was kind enough to offer a copy of the book for a blog contest. So come on over and take your chance to win ‘Suffer A Witch’. We’ll also give you links to order the paperback or e-book. When you’ve read the book, Claudia and I would love to hear your feedback.
Sources & further reading:
• http://storiesbyclaudia.com/ – stories by Claudia Hall Christian
• http://tinkerbell-nl.blogspot.nl/2015/09/suffer-witch-by-claudia-hall-christian.html – Claudia’s guest post with contest on my blog