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“And So, It Begins…”

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on September 20, 2010 | Comments (5)

The title of this post comes from a statement by Ambassador Kosh from the TV show, Babylon 5. It was one of the best science fiction shows ever (well, the first 4 seasons were) dealing with issues of the nature of good and evil, order and chaos, and the eternal repetition and cycles of the universe. It would seem that we’re about to see the restart of a negative cycle.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that people seem willing to extend rights to others when we live in less stressful times, but as things become more stressful, people look for scapegoats as the cause of their problems. One of the traditional scapegoats has been other religions and people from other religions.

Of course, we’ll look at post WWI Germany and their eventual institutionalized scapegoating of Jews (as well as occultists, gays, the Romany, and many others). But from the first quarter of the 19th century there was strong opposition to the Catholic religion in the U.S. Even in the “Cipher Manuscripts” that founded the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (the first occult order to allow both men and women to join) the instructions said that Catholics should not be allowed: “Avoid Roman Catholics but with pity.”

In 1980, a book entitled Michelle Remembers was published. The book was totally absurd and laughable, but among people who wanted to believe, it started what has been called the “Satanic Panic” which cost hundreds of millions of dollars, ruined hundreds lives and destroyed numerous families. For the previous three decades, Witches and Wiccans had tried to present a simple message to people of other faiths: “We’re not Satanists. We don’t even believe in Satan.”*  As part of the Panic, people were, once again, equating the two. It took years, but the Satanic Panic has mostly died down and what little remains of it has gone underground. Or at least it had…

“Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more”

This is a quote from Henry V act III by Shakespeare, and I fear that it may need to become a rallying cry for more public Witches and Pagans yet again. For those few of you who haven’t heard about it, the winner of the Republican Primary for Senator in the state of Delaware, Christine O’Donnell, made a statement in 1999 that when she had been in high school,

I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things. I’m not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do. One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar and I didn’t know it. I mean, there was a little blood there and stuff like that.

She said that she had “dabbled” in Witchcraft but never joined a coven, and later added, “How many of you didn’t hang out with questionable folks in high school?”

Let me say that this post is not meant to be political. People in Delaware will have to vote for senator and determine on their own whom to support. What I do want to discuss is the repercussion from her statements.

First, I seriously doubt that Ms. O’Donnell “dabbled” at all. If she had she would have known that Witches don’t have dates on Satanic altars! It’s possible that some kids, as a result of seeing a movie, were enacting something they thought was Witchcraft, but at best were play acting. Perhaps her date was using it in an attempt to seduce her.

Second, it is outright religious discrimination to equate Witches with “questionable folks.” That would be like saying all Catholics are “questioniable folks.” I would suggest that magickal people should stand up for religious rights and reject this false statement.

Third, I agree with the concept put forward in Rev. Donald Lewis-Highcorrall’s Vlog where he states that we should encourage people to look at various religions and not simply follow the religion into which they were born. However, I must respectfully disagree with his claim that she was dabbling in “Satanic Witchcraft.” The reason for my disagreement is the time frame. This supposed event would have taken place over two decades ago. It is only recently that a small number of people are claiming to be “Satanic Witches,” and I seriously doubt they would include putting their partner on an altar as part of a high school date: would you do that before the movie and after Micky Dee’s or after?

Fourth, by making light of this religious discrimination, the media can use it to marginalize the beliefs of Witches and magickal people of all sorts. When the topic came up on the TV show, The View, Barbara Walters “jokingly” referred to all of the women on the show as Witches, asking why they wouldn’t shut up. The implication being that all Witches and all women are talkative and uninformed and should merely be quiet. Sorry, I won’t shut up.**

Finally, I find myself in agreement with Selena Fox, who said that we should use this as “a teaching moment.” Specifically, we should teach that the main body of Witches aren’t Satanists, just as most Christians aren’t radical fundamentalists and most Moslems aren’t suicide-minded terrorists. We should teach that we are in favor of religious freedom. We should teach that Witches are normal people who simply have a different religion, and that there are millions of us.

What would you take this opportunity to teach?


*I have to point out that Anton LeVey published a book in 1971 entitled The Compleat Witch that presented something he called “Witchcraft” as a form of Satanism. As I imagine LeVey intended, the title of the book instantly became controversial among the nascent number of Wiccans and Witches. The book was later republished with the title The Satanic Witch. Other books falsely claiming links between Witchcraft and Satanism were written by people trying to spread their own anti-Satanic/anti-Witchcraft religion or just copying earlier misrepresentations.

**I consider myself a “JAP-T,” a Jewish-American-Pagan-Tantric.

Reader Comments

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#1 
Written By Kyle
on September 21st, 2010 @ 9:04 am

I was watching a program on Haitian voodoo and I’ll always remember what one of the practitioners said: “imagine a room filled with religious leaders from all the world’s religions, arguing and bickering with each other. If a voodoo leader walked in, the entire group would instantly find itself in harmony…by all coming together to gang up on voodoo!”
That reminds me of this witchcraft “scandal” from Christine O’Donnell. We now see both sides of the political aisle in agreement about Wicca. Her supporters on the Right are yelling, “but she later saw it’s evilness and has accepted the true light of Christianity!” and her detractors on the Left are screaming “ha! what nonsense! This joke of a politician dabbled in ‘witchcraft.’” The basic tenets (if you can call them that) of Wicca is, on their face, no “sillier” or “out there” than any of the major religions we accept as “normal” in our society. Yet we afford those major religions a certain respect that few seem to think Wicca deserves.

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#2 
Written By David Bockenkamp
on September 21st, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

I possibly have a chance to teach a bit about magic in my New Religions and Cults class. I’ll prolly go over this [in brief] as well, but my main point would be showing a bit about ceremonial work and chaos magic and so forth.

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#3 
Written By Rudi
on September 21st, 2010 @ 3:05 pm

I agree with everything you stated here. I initially saw this post presented on CNN, and immediately wrote in to AMFix to let them know making light of Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism is not ok. I simply got an auto reply back, and don’t expect to go any farther than that with them. I think the main problem we as Pagans (Pagans including Wiccans, Heathens, etc.) face is that people have such deeply embedded ideas about what we are, what we do, and what we believe that even if they meet a practical, reasonable Pagan they still probably think the same things. This is not to say that this is their absolute fault. Decades upon decades of misinformation has ultimately led to the demise of any respect the general populous might have had for our kind. I think the best thing to do in order to progress, and maybe help others come out of their “broom closet,” is to educate the public. You fear what you don’t know.

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#4 
Written By Raymond Barrett
on September 26th, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

I tend to see “witchcraft” as something that people DO – something along the lines of ‘folk magic’ – and not a belief system like Wicca or Asatru or whatever. The term “witchcraft” does not belong to Wiccans or anyone else. Wicca in its current form is only about 20 years older than LaVeyan Satanism and has no more ‘rights’ to the term than Satanists do.

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#5 
Written By Sena
on February 4th, 2014 @ 4:14 pm

I have been disturbed by the throw-away, roll the eyes,smirk treatment on local news programs when witch or wicca comes up. However, there are some excellent programs on the discovery and science channels dealing with and explaining witchcraft as exactly as what it is. One witch made a statement that has stuck with me and I have passed on when I can. If you want to know what a witch is, ask a Christian. They wrote the book on it.

Additionally, I’d like to say that book is a work of fiction to promote the killing of the wise women during the inquisition. The Malleus Maleficarum.

I always say, Satan is a Christian God, not a pagan one.

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