Wicca is a popular witchcraft-based religion, which was founded by an English charlatan named Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. It began to become popular in some parts of the U. S. in the 1970s and by the 1990s, it was a fad in high schools and on college campuses. It has never really gone away, instead this mass commercialized fraud continues to morph and evolve, which continues to create some problems for actual witches, especially when we try to have a conversation about witchcraft or the occult.
Traditional witches (genuine, historically-based witches) are constantly having to explain and re-explain ourselves because the language surrounding witchcraft has been co-opted, as well, and assigned entirely new meanings by Wiccans. This happens because Wiccans, especially the neo-Wiccans (and the minor differences between these two factions, the neo-Wiccans and the British Traditionals will be discussed in an upcoming post) are so public, so prolific and basically just represent one big huge mass of misinformation being passed back and forth as if it were fact.
Wiccans deal with a great deal of discrimination – as do traditional witches, atheists and Satanic types, especially in certain parts of the U.S in which there are de facto theocracies. A very big difference between Wiccans and the rest of us is that the Wiccans tend to put themselves out in public more often, whereas genuine witches and occultists tend to remain… well, occult – hidden and private.
Because Wicca is a religion, it has managed to gain more acceptance because in the U.S., religious people are afforded special rights over everyone else. If you claim to be religious, regardless of what the religion is, then other religious people will give you a little room to exist, fearing that if your religious rights are denied, then theirs might be, also. The problem with Wicca, however, is that they are often in the spotlight claiming to speak for all witches and falsely claiming authority on the subject of witchcraft – which is often accepted without question by the mainstream media and pretty much everyone else.
While it is a witchcraft-based (and, specifically, ceremonial magic-based) religion, in practice, it is a warped form of Christianity and it has become increasingly Christianized as Wiccans have striven for social acceptance. Wicca is a highly ceremonial, initiatory religion that is centered around “the goddess” and “the god.” The main thing to understand is that it is primarily a religion, which was founded by a man, Gerald Gardner, who claimed to be an initiate of a British witchcraft order, although there is no evidence for this assertion. In fact, the historical basis for Wicca, in general, is pretty flimsy. Neo-Wicca is the very contemporary, very Americanized and very commercial spin-off of the original Gardnerian Wicca of Britain. Most of my criticism is of this latter class of Wiccan – the Neo-Wiccans, who are the majority. I have other criticisms of original Gardnerian Wicca and its immediate offshoots that include misogyny, sexual perversity and prohibitions on black magic.
Wicca possesses all of the entrapments of other religions. They see themselves as a “community” of people, especially when the neo-pagans are added into the mix. Most of them embrace a moral code of some kind and there is a general prohibition on the practice of black magic.
Wicca differs very greatly from genuine witchcraft and this is why sometimes traditional witches become frustrated with the Wiccans. The first problem with Wiccans is that they presume to speak for all witches and they make claims that are simply not true. They don’t do it because they’re evil; but because they are misinformed and to our frustration often refuse to rectify this problem by educating themselves. Sometimes, I find the claims that Wiccans make about witchcraft are helpful because they create a public image of witches and witchcraft that is much nicer than reality and that may be beneficial. But, sometimes all of their public misrepresentations really become bothersome and interfere with our ability to have genuine conversations about witchcraft and the occult.
The bottom line and the source of my occasional frustrations with Wiccan and neo-paganism, in general, is this: We are very different, although Wicans and neo-pagans confuse themselves with witches. Traditional (genuine) witchcraft can be highly beneficial to people in terms of healing (doing things that appear miraculous to some people) and in terms of gaining some control over the environment. For example, I don’t deal with a lot of nuisance people in my life because if they bother me enough, they find themselves in unpleasant circumstances – this is what knowledge and mastery of genuine witchcraft can do.
On the other hand, Wicca denies many of the most important aspects of witchcraft and in doing so denies the reality of the world around us, which Christianity and its related religions and state establishments have endeavored to obscure for centuries. The Wiccans are unwitting participants in this endeavor. Wicca is an extension of Christianity in many ways and while it’s pretty bizarre compared to some more mainstream religions, at its center, it is very much a proponent of the current social, scientific, medical and governmental establishment.
The following is a list of my criticisms about Wicca:
The Pagan Community: This is basically a social construct of theirs. They are very social. They, also, roll all over each other like a bunch of puppies, for example, one of their latest trends is calling each other “fluffy bunnies.” Another name for “fluffy bunny,” is “white lighter.” See Love and White Light Brigade below for more information.
Path: They usually have what they call a path of interest, that revolves around the mythology of some nation or other. Another word for path is “tradition.” But, what they mean when they say traditional and what we mean are two completely different things.
Nature worship: They tend to be into some kind of earth-centered worship. In fact, this was part of the original Llewellyn creed that was established in the late 1970s in Minnesota. A lot of them are literal tree huggers. They celebrate the seasons and nature in ritual. This has no real point beyond the social.
Karma: Neo-pagans have adopted and adapted a belief in karma – or, at least, their version of this concept, which they talk about frequently in conversation. For example, if someone does something they don’t like they say, “Karma will get you.” This is not classical Eastern karma, but their own version, which they liken to the Xian concept of whatever you cast up on the waters will come back to you times 3, 9, etc. depending on who you talk to.
Moralizing: This is one of the most annoying aspects of Wicca, especially Neo-Wiicca. Wiccans can be as moralizing as any fundamentalist Christian.
Judgmental: They are very judgmental of traditional witches and Satanists – sometimes even denying our existence.
Lack of scholarship: This is perhaps the biggest single complaint about Wiccans and many other neo-pagans. They seem to have an aversion to genuine scholarship. When they do look at historical texts related to witchcraft, they manage to do some mental gymnastics to make what they read fit their Wiccan paradigm. Most of them have no idea what they’re talking about, although, they claim to have some kind of degree or level of mastery bestowed upon them. When they do embark on any research, Wiccans take what they like from historical witchcraft and throw away the rest, often denying its existence
Know-it-alls: They frequently claim to know things they don’t know and make up things as they go along. This goes hand in hand with their reluctance toward research.
Fanciful claims: Many Wiccans and other neo-pagans claim to be shaman or some sort of degreed initiate or master of something or other. They are impossible to talk to and you can actually see their eyes sort of glaze over when they retreat into fantasy land.
Pop culture: Adaptation of whatever is blowing in the wind in terms of pop culture. If it’s trendy, they incorporate it.. everything from lines from movies and television shows to popular trends like “The Secret” and “Law of Attraction” (you attract certain people or situations or affect the environment by your thoughts).
Religion: One of the biggest problems with Wicca is that it is a religion and an increasingly dogmatic one. Religion involves giving your mind away to someone else. Once you do this, you lose the power to reason and think logically. Unlike Christian denominations, most of Wicca is a cult in the looser sense of this term. There are a few organizations, but most Wiccans take cues from the latest Llewellyn publication, movie, television show or New Agey trend.
The Love and White Light Brigade: This is my term for Wiccans and many neo-pagans, in general. They are militantly into the “white light.” This is what earned them the name “fluffy bunny.” Strangely, many of them think it is some sort of backhanded compliment. It isn’t. Members of the Love and White Light Brigade are usually very fearful and highly critical of most anything to do with traditional witchcraft, preferring their sanitized, Disney-esque, fictionalized version of what witchcraft is and what witches do.
Allopathy: Wiccans tend to love allopathy. A surprising number of them are in the nursing or some other aspect of the medical field. This is a strange thing for witches since we have long been and are still very much at odds with the medical establishment and the persecution of past centuries continues under a different name. (So called “alternative” health is completely under siege by government agencies in the U.S. and actual witches with knowledge of medicine that surpasses that of the allopaths are legallly prevented from doing what we do. By contrast, lots of Wiccans seem to have health problems and are on all kinds of allopathic medications. They’re very into the mainstream medical establishment and refuse to take responsibility for their own health. One look at a gathering of them and you will likely notice that many are morbidly obese.
Cultural Misappropriation of American Indian practices: It was trendy about 20 years ago for Wiccans to adapt Native American Indian practices into their religion. This isn’t as hot a trend now, but some remnants remain. Lots of them have “totem animal” or “shadow animals” and are into wolves and such. The American Indians too pleased by this, either. Another example of this is the recent addition of Santa Muerte because they believe she is an ancient Mexican Indian goddess (this goes to their lack of scholarship and reluctance to research), not understanding the co-existence of witchcraft and Catholicism, they discard this to mold her to fit their own religious paradigm.
Cultural misappropriation, in general: Wiccans, especially the neo-Wiccan variety, will latch onto anything they perceive as a goddess or god and goddess pairing and call it their own, essentially Wiccanizing it.
Pets are called familiars: This has got to be one of the weirdest aspects I’ve seen lately. They refer to their pet cats and dogs as familiars. I’ve even heard them say, “This is my familiar, Fluffy.”
Misunderstanding of witchcraft: They lack a basic understanding of witchcraft either in theory or practice and completely lack any historical background. What’s worse, they claim authority to such knowledge and pass misinformation around, making a lot of trouble for anyone who wants to discuss actual, historical or traditional witchcraft.
Denial of the Existence of Evil: They attribute all happenings to nature, which they say is neither good nor evil. While there’s not much evidence for good in the world, it seems to me that there is plenty of evidence for evil. Yet, Wiccans and many neo-pagans deny its existence. They ridicule other witches who work with dark forces because in their “belief system” these things do not exist.
Disrespect of traditional witchcraft: They commonly defend themselves against charges of black magic and Satanism by disrespecting actual witches. Often they claim that such witchcraft does not exist. Alternatively, they are hostile to to traditional witches and Satanists. It’s kind of like when Christians do exactly the same thing. These are my major criticisms – the jewels in the crown being their religiosity, moralizing and white lighting (or “fluffiness”). The main thing most people agree we’d like to see Wiccans do is truly educate themselves about Wicca, itself. Most of them don’t have a clue about their own religion. The more educated Wiccans become about Wicca and witchcraft, the less-Wiccan and more like normal witches or, at least, normal people they become.
Now, there are a few good things about them. The main thing I can think of is that they have made some progress in gaining social acceptance for themselves, at least, in some parts of the country. (Although, these gains have been reversed somewhat in recent years.) But, they have done this by claiming that witchcraft is a religion (it isn’t) and that witches have a moral code (which we don’t). This is all a deception because while Wicca is a religion with a moral code, it has next to nothing to do with actual witchcraft.
I find this bothersome because knowledge of genuine witchcraft has very great benefits to humanity, but this will never be realized as long as silly people run around in robes defending their religious beliefs and passing on misinformation. The fact that they have done this makes any attempt to dialogue with someone about traditional (historically-based) witchcraft very difficult. And, it is really frustrating to run across people who claim to be witches only to discover very quickly that they are only play actors.
The young lady (apparently a Wiccan, but an intelligent one) in the video below does a good job sorting out this Wiccan-familiars are pets thing. In the first part of the video, she describes what a familiar is, then she explains what Wiccans think it is and tries to explain why:
In this vid, the same lady does a good job summing up the commercialism and trendiness of the New Age, in general, including Wicca:
Articles Critical of Wicca from Around the World-wide Web:
The Problem with Silver Ravenwolf by Smiling Panther, Oct. 15th 2001: http://community.fortunecity.ws/roswell/vanthal/608/id57.htm
Hecate Does Harvard Notes on Academic Criticism of Wiccan Practice by P. Aaron Potter (65 pages) http://uni.edu/coe/jrae/New_Folder/Potter.pdf/jrae/New_Folder/Potter.pdf
In the video below, an outraged, moralizing fluff bunny condemns the use of the term, “fluffy bunny” and those of us who use it – “judgement is going to be passed,” she says, on us because we are passing judgement on others – because, as you know, judgement and moralizing is what witchcraft is all about [*sarcasm*]:
A Critique of Wiccan and Other Neo-Pagan Disclaimers About Satanism by Diane Vera, 1994. Wiccans, also, have a habit of dissing Satanists and “dark witches,” ie. “the dark side” (clearly a Star Wars reference, I would think). They are especially disrespectful of traditional witches and Satanists. Typically, they are either dismissive, in denial about our existence or terrified of us. In this way, they’re not much different from Christians. Here is an article outlining this problem very well: http://www.angelfire.com/ny5/dvera/pagan/CritiqueDisclaimers.html
Some of the remains of the old web site “Why Wiccans Suck” are preserved at the Book of T blog: http://thebookoft.wordpress.com/knowledge/why-wiccans-suck/ “Why Wiccans Suck” is credited by Wikipedia for popularizing the term, “Fluffy Bunny,” which was taken from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The term has been in usage since 2001 and in my experience it was not used to describe newbies (as is asserted in a bunch of YT videos besides the above one), but rather Wiccans, in general, and those in the so-called “pagan community” who treated the actual witches among them with disdain, excluding them from events and trying to break up their marriages. They were called “fluff bunnies” – I think pretty kindly, considering how horrible they are – because of their moralizing and judgmental behavior. In my experience, may of them had a hidden agenda, as well. Now, it appears that Wiccans have taken to calling each other “fluffy bunnies,” which reminds me of the days in which heavy metal poseurs would call each other “poseur.” Here is an archived version of the original ”
Why Wiccans Suck,” which may or may not be easier to read:
Commercialization of Native American Spirituality by Lisa Aldred, “The American Indian Quarterly, “Volume 24, Number 3, Summer 2000 pp. 329-352 | 10.1353/aiq.2000.0001. Retrieved 6/27/2013. http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/american_indian_quarterly/v024/24.3aldred.html
The following link goes to a page that is old and has quite a few broken links, but some still work and there are articles there written by American and Canadian Indians who are not happy that Wiccans, neo-pagans and other New Agers are co-opting their culture. In every case, it is popular culture, mostly television and Hollywood movies that drive pop-cultural pseudo-witches to adapt whatever is the latest fad of the moment. Wicca changes so much based on the latest T.V. show, movie or Llewellyn book that I can’t keep up with with them.
A few years ago there was a huge trend in Wiccans wanting to be Indian shaman and you’ll see some criticism of Wiccans for this at the following page: http://www.geocities.ws/dontpay2pray/links.html
More on the same issue regarding neo-pagans: Cultural Borrowing/Cultural Appropriation: A Relationship Model for Respectful Borrowing. http://academia.edu/1117580/Cultural_Borrowing_Cultural_Appropriation_A_Relationship_Model_for_Respectful_Borrowing
There are some other discussions around the web that miss the point. So, to be clear, the problem is that Wiccans and neo-pagans will take a concept (like Santa Muerte, for example, which some Wiccans are trying to claim is an Indian goddess, although evidence is that she is a combination of influences from European paganism, Catholicism and Mexican Indian spiritualism) from someone else, Wiccanize it and then insist that their way is the right way and everyone else is wrong. It is not a question of having the wrong lineage. Lineage, heredity and nationality are things Wiccans and neo-pagans are obsessed with. But, it’s not a problem of race or nationality. It’s a problem of not respecting other people and believing that everything – literally everything – is about themselves and their bizarre religious paradigm. Here is a more recent discussion about this problem as it relates to
American Indian spiritualism at NewAgeFraud.org: http://www.newagefraud.org/smf/index.php?topic=3687.0