Monday, September 13, 2010

The changing face of Paganism

I would like for you all to come with me on a little journey as I start this blog post today. A journey back to the year 1986 when a 17 year old kid (that would be me) First herd the word Wicca and discovered what it was, what it meant, and how to become a Witch. I don't actually remember the name of the book I was reading when I first discovered Wicca all those years ago, but I remember wanting to know more than the little bit I had just read about. Through a little research I found Margot Adler's book Drawing Down the Moon, and Starhawk's book The Spiral Dance, and was hooked from that point on. Those books led me to the works of Gardner and Buckland, which of course led me to other books all without ever knowing anyone that followed this path called Wicca. Then one day by sure blind luck I meet a group of Witch's that practice within a particular Tradition. Imagine my surprise when I found them. They were very gracious to me and took me under their wing and taught me many things that the books I had read could not, and I developed friendships with them that to this day still exist.

Now think about this with me, back in the late 80's and early 90's the internet as we know it did not exist. There were no sites like Witchvox you could log on to and find your local practicing Wiccan coven. There was no Amazon.com that you could get your Pagan books from and few if any shops that catered to your metaphysical needs. There was no books by Silver Ravenswolf aimed at teens, or many books on Paganism or Wicca at all really. There were a couple of Neo-Pagan publications Like Green Egg or Circle Network News if you knew how to find them, but nothing like what you can find in main stream bookstores or on the internet today. You had to really search for information or a group that was already established and practicing and trust me when I tell you that was not an easy search.

I like to call folks that have been around and practicing Witchcraft, or Paganism, or Wicca, or Neo-Paganism if you like for the same amount of time as myself, the second generation of American Witch's. There was some information out there for us but you had to look damned hard to find it. If you were lucky and found others they were most often part of what I like to think of as the first gen. of American Witch's practicing what  had come to them after Wicca made the move to America in the 60's and 70's from the British Isle's. The point is, that many of those that taught my generation of Pagan's were very much still in touch with the modern day origins of the Craft. We learned who the founders of the movement like Gardner, and Sanders, and Sybil Leek, and the Farrar's were, and often were taught to practice our Craft in much the same way as they did.

Fast forward to today now. In this day and age information about Wicca, and Paganism is readily available to anyone who logs on to the internet. The old classics are being forgotten in lieu of newer writers with ideas like Wicca is anything you want it be. (Which for the record it is not.) And the larger publishing groups like Llewellyn are cashing in with many of their new release taking advantage of the popularity of television shows like Charmed and Buffy with the teenage to twenty something crowd. These books and many of the internet sites out their pay little to no attention to facts and the history of the Wiccan Religion. This leads to many of the young people within our community having no concept of where this path came from and claiming it for their own. I along with several other people that I know have personally worked to try to give young people good and accurate information. Sometimes this works out well and we are able to get some folks head back grounded in reality, and sometimes it works out like an encounter that a friend of mine had on-line. She had a younger person say to her (and this is a direct quote) If this Gardner guy is so important why isn't he writing books for Llewellyn?

So in the hopes of educating some of the young folks that stumble on to my blog I am going to start a new feature here. I am going to call it Merry Meet Mondays. Starting next week on Monday I will profile every week an important elder or historical figure within the Wiccan community, with some of their accomplishments and links to good and accurate information about them. I am mostly likely going to start with Gerald Gardner on go from there. If there is anyone you would like to see profiled just let me know and I will do my best to get them induced if I am not already planing on doing so. Until next time everyone BB

5 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Afeenast! I suppose that I would be one of those second generation-ers. :) I learned about Wicca from Internet resources, and for a few years in the beginning read Silver RW and a horrendous amount of Llewelyn books (I know better now, I promise!). In the last year, though, I've been really digging into the history of Wicca and the people behind it.

    If possible, I would love to know about Doreen Valiente. I've read a bit about her, but I'd like to know more regarding her Craft contributions since breaking off from Gardner's coven. It would also be interesting to know how her poems came to be so popular (and really, almost official religious text) in the Wiccan community.

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  2. Dum dee dum... I just scrolled down the page. :P

    Okay, let's go with Margaret Murray. Beyond knowing she wrote the "The Witch Cult of Western Europe", and believed in a surviving witchcraft religion, I've got bubkis.

    ...Bubkis...Bupkiss?... What is that anyway?

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  3. @Blue Faerie, Thanks Murray is on the list of folks to profile just not as high as some others. I am guessing that you found Mo's guest post on Doreen, but she is still on the list as well.

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  4. Shamanic Witch and Priestess Cerridwen Fallingstar, author of the past-life novel 'The Heart of the Fire' about Witchcraft in 16th century Scotland, has just published two new past-life novels set in 12th century Japan:' White as Bone, Red as Blood: The Fox Sorceress' and 'White as Bone, Red as Blood: The Storm God'. Check them out on Amazon!

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