Sunday, March 27, 2016
So what exactly is a McWiccan? Many of you have heard me use that term over the years and yeah I coined it well over a decade ago in my old Yahoo Groups. This is the first time I’ve taken to sit down and really explain the idea behind it and why I think it needs to be added to the pagan vocabulary.
First off let’s dichotomize the difference here and now that not all Wiccans are McWiccans, all right? Just like not all Wiccans are Witches because there are Wiccans who do not practice magic, rather they practice the religion of Wicca. Yet when it comes to Wiccans themselves there are exceptions within their own ranks who have common sense and intelligence and those who don’t.
Over the years I’ve met very few actual Wiccans. These are folks who take their practice and the study of their faith very seriously yet are not anal about it. They tend to have a patron god/dess whom they commune with, and seek guidance from regularly and they also have a deep reverence for nature as well as an awareness for the world around them. Many are ‘aware’ or awake as some like to call it where they’re cognizant of not only their immediate surroundings but also the feelings and emotions of others around them, as well as the natural world at large and even the greater political world. Wiccans tend to be deeper thinkers than most, often saying less and listening more and generally when you get a chance to talk with one they ask more questions than they talk.
The Wiccans I’ve known while spiritual realize that they don’t need to take themselves quite so seriously even though they take their faith and their roles seriously in the grand scheme of things. They’re not as likely to engage in gossip or backstabbing nor do many of them name drop when they’ve met some of the big names in the industry. In fact, most of the actual Wiccans I’ve met over the years were quite humble if I had to use one word to describe them. Most of them reminded me of a monk in that manner, offering to share what meager meals they had with them to commune with others in an effort to learn about someone new.
Further, most of the Wiccans I’ve met were quite knowledgeable about many things not only occult but also history, politics, religion, sciences, crafts, you name it, they tend to be collectors of knowledge and lovers of learning. This is truly a blessing for such folk. It’s sad that their numbers are so few because it would be wonderful to have more of them out there in this world representing the metaphysical community as worthwhile ambassadors.
McWiccans on the other hand, are an entirely different breed. I’ve met a lot of these folks over the years all pretending to be Wiccans but they engaged in behaviors that wasn’t Wiccan but more like a raging Baptist. In fact, it is because of these folks that I left the pursuit of Wicca and went my own way to the study and practice of sorcery back in 1990. Sadly I’m not the only one either as over the years I’ve met more than one reformed Wiccan who had had enough of the McWiccan mindset and just said, “Screw this nonsense!” So what constitute a McWiccan? Here’s some of my own thoughts on the subject...
1. Spiritual Immaturity/Spiritual Bullying: The typical “You shouldn’t do X because Y” nonsense when the McWiccan has not walked a mile in the shoes of the person they're berating. Israel Regardie allegedly had issues with what he called ‘tent women’ (clinically obese, chain smoking, poor hygienic) Wiccan women at festivals who would stand there and lecture others (as recounted by Chris Hyatt). I’ve witnessed this numerous times at some pagan festivals myself over the years and it’s quite disturbing to watch. Reminds me of the holier-than-thou Baptists I had to put up with while growing up always trying to bully me into their way of thinking. Thus McWiccans lack spiritual maturity and engage in spiritual bullying. This is not a pastime that Wiccans themselves engage in because they're a live and let live lot.
2. Gods-of-the-Month-Club: I fully understand that in the beginning a Novice needs to learn about various god/desses from around the globe. The problem is very few ever bother to study the cultures from which these gods hail from and often therein lies the rub. You simply cannot just decide you want to start and erect a shrine to Kali or Cybele and begin to make homage and offerings to her and then after a while decide, “She’s not right for me”. What the hell??? This isn’t like a pair of underwear you take off and toss in the trash; this is a spirit, a very OLD spirit, who has a personality with feelings, attitudes, opinions, prejudices and so on, like you or I. Did you ever meet someone from a different culture you wanted to make as a friend who sat and listened to all of your problems, fears and issues and then out of the blue, you just told them, “Sorry but you don’t feel right about our friendship so I’m gong to stop being friends with you!” ? I’d be surprised if you did because that’s ignorant, selfish and shows a lack of empathy on your part. Wiccans investigate a spirit and its culture thoroughly before they begin to erect a shrine whereas McWiccans just go ahead and do it and then toss it away if it doesn’t “feel right” and then move on to the next god/dess on the list.
3. Preaching: Ugh. Here is where the McWiccans are most like Baptists - ethics, karma and 3 fold return rule. While Wiccans keep their mouths shut and go about their own business as they well should, McWiccans always want to step in and show everyone how much they think they know about karma, ethics and the 3 fold return rule. In fact, many of them act as if they’re evangelists who have to save you from yourself by the manner in which they hammer away at these three subjects. Seriously! How dare you think or act for yourself because gee, you’re not an adult who can make your own decisions. These self-righteous know-it-all’s have to show you how ignorant and stupid you and your ideas really are especially in light of their views on ethics, karma and 3 fold rule. Circumstances that brought you to where you are be damned because they’re always right and you are always wrong - just like a fundamentalist Baptist. So the 'holier-than-thou preaching' is the third trait that McWiccans possess that Wiccans do not.
4. 101 Wiccan Book Collectors: I don’t think I need to go into which Minnesota book publisher puts out sheeple books for the masses with pretty covers for you to know who I’m talking about here do I? The vast majority of their Wiccan books are 101 beginner books of which a very few are really worthwhile to the beginner. The rest that come out are variations on a theme with so little that’s new or added that one really needs, yet McWiccans buy this pablum and brag about it. The bulk of these books are written with a poorly written history section on Wicca sometimes claiming it is an ancient religion when it’s origins date back to Gardner or possibly the late 1800's at best. The next sections are karma and ethics which tends to be the authors lengthiest chapter putting forth their sermon on why you shouldn’t use magic to help yourself because it could harm you or someone else. The sections on magic are typically all about grounding and centering and white light with maybe a chant or two thrown in for good measure. Once in a while someone tosses in the Middle Pillar from lodge style ceremonial magicK but other than that, there’s really very little creativity in the magic section of these 101 books that’s worth collecting. Wiccans on the other hand tend to read intermediate books after they’ve moved beyond the 101 level. Often they look at material by European Witchery authors from the Roebuck or Cunningman traditions or perhaps they study medieval history of witchcraft looking for bits of lore they can learn from and use. They also often delve into specialized studies such as plants & trees, alchemy, astrology, medieval magic, anthropology, archaeology, geology, and so on to further their knowledge.
5. High Priestess/High Priest In One Easy Lesson: Here’s a big one folks on how to tell who is a McWiccan, when you meet a gal who claims she’s a HPS (High Priestess) and she’s had no formal initiation and just read a few books or worse, one book. Same can be said of the HP (High Priest) running around with the HPS. I’m sorry but some form of initiation should come with ordination of priesthood because if you study ancient civilizations and the various religions of the Greeks, Romans, Celts, Norse, Aztecs, Slavs, Africans, South Americans and so on, you WILL find that their respective priesthoods all had rites and rituals which involved formal initiations. “Oh but Moloch I don’t live near anyone to get that!” First off, that's not my problem and secondly if you really want to be a priest/ess, you NEED to go seek out someone and have them first train then initiate you. Why? Because it is a transference of power for one; it is also a form of respect from the line of power; and it is a way of keeping the priesthood strong and sanctified. Further your power and connection to the gods will be MUCH more potent if you do this. There’s nothing wrong with a self-dedication and yes ANY god/dess will respect that but if you really want to wield power in their name, seek out some sort of priesthood who will train and ordinate you and stop the pretending. Reading a dozen or thousand books does not give you the right to call yourself a HPS/HP.
6. Study Groups VS Covens: McWiccans always seem to want to start a study group after they read a cool beginner book on Wicca. To that I applaud them and their enthusiasm. The only problem is that it is only a study group, NOT a coven. Wiccans and Witches have covens because they formally congregate into groups and have bonded together to worship and work magic according to their needs. They do this not out of a lightly held friendship but when they join, it’s often for life because they are spiritually mature and they know that a coven is like a family which will have its share of ups and downs which they know they must learn to work through. They also understand that the group dynamics change with the more individuals you add to a group and Witches/Wiccans often limit how many members are allowed into their coven. McWiccans will claim to join a coven and when someone ‘yells’ (their word) at them or calls them on their BS, they get infuriated and either quit the group or try to find a way to supplant the elder or HPS/HP out of their position. Wiccans see a coven as a long term process whereas a McWiccan sees a coven as a temporary group and if s/he don‘t like it, they’ll just leave and join another or form their own and make themselves HPS/HP.
7. Age & Maturity: I’ve spoken about spiritual maturity but now let’s look at chronological age. Tell me something, how many 19 year old HPS/HP’s do you know that you believe know their ass from a hole in the ground? Up to the age of 25, most youngsters are having a heckuva time trying to figure out who they are and what sort of career they want out of life let alone what type of spiritual leader they are. I mean hello? It’s not that there isn’t that rare exception but the problem is there’s far too many McWiccan wannabes running around out there who are just too young to be a long term group leader as either a HPS or HP are. Not to say that they could not nor should not try their hand at leading a circle session for an esbat. No that’s a terrific idea and if a study group allows its members to take turns doing that, each can learn more about the responsibilities of approaching the spirits and dealing with the needs of the group’s members. But to label oneself HPS/HP is downright foolish and corrupt when you are just too young to even have experienced life itself. The problem is they’re just so excited to get started that many of them let the entire process go to their head and therein begins the whole problem from the get-go.
So there you go folks, my seven reasons of what constitutes a McWiccan and why. I hope this helps to elucidate the issue and make for a better understanding when I or anyone else uses the term McWiccan in conversation.
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Allow me to begin by saying I find the above image disturbing on many levels. First off if you're have these sorts of doubts all popping into your noggin while trying to do a spell or ritual, then you are going about things the wrong way. Sorcery requires your undivided attention. You need to reduce the distractions to a bare minimum and this includes the internal chatter that goes on. If your mind is wandering around like this woman's then stop what you are doing and put your tools away and focus on some concentration exercises. These will help you hone your mind to a more straightforward sense of purpose so that your confidence will be strong and the doubts will be next to nil if not totally absent.
The "what am I doing" is extremely disturbing from both an elder and a teacher viewpoint because JuJu is real, people, it is not some made up psychological trick you use to bypass your psychic censor like new age authors want you to believe. Instead it is about harnessing the power of your mind and making contact with the world of spirits who you can employ for your rite's needs. If you don't know what you're doing, stop and either (preferably) get training or hit the books and study on your own or go through some dry practice runs until it seems more natural to you. A sorcerer who does not know what s/he is doing is the most dangerous kind of sorcerer, bar none.
The "wtf is ylang-ylang?" shows that the student has not bothered to study the spell that she chose to work. Know not only the spell/ritual you plan on performing but also the ingredients as well as tools you plan to use. You should know how each item works in the working. You see each herb, root, stone, crystal, tool and so forth has multiple functions and rare is the ingredient that has just one function. However some ingredients only function in certain ways when combined with other select ingredients for specific needs. Further some herbs and roots are twisters meaning they can do good or ill depending on the recipe and desire of the practitioner. Thus know what you are using and how it's being used.
The bottom two questions: "Am I doing this right?" and "Should I start over?" are questions that every Novice has asked themselves at one point or another. I guarantee you even Agrippa had some sort of doubt somewhere in his early career. It's natural. Butterflies in the tummy they call it for actors. It's just self-doubt mixed with a bit of worry. Nothing to fear. To answer the first question, how would you know how it's done right to begin with? Have you seen someone perform the spell or ritual before? If not, then you have nothing to compare yourself with thus stop worrying. As for starting over, well my question is, "Other than delay you, what would that accomplish?"
There was once where I began a Martial ritual and I made an utter mess of things. Oy! I had on one of those annoying Tau robes with the long sleeves that hung way down and I wasn't paying attention and it knocked over a lit candle which caught the damned altar cloth on fire which caused me to jump up and I caught the sleeve of my Tau robe on fire and I had to run and grab the fire extinguisher and ugh. SO YEAH if you blunder the entire thing you can start over as I did. I was going to hold off but I said, "Know what? I waited too damn long for the conditions for this to be right so screw it! I'm going to start over and I'm taking off this damn tau robe and doing the ritual in my undies!" Needless to say I removed the burnt altar cloth as well and told the spirits, "I don't care! The show must go on!" When finished the talisman was highly charged and I think the Seraphim got one helluva kick outta me and my frustration. (Spirits do enjoy seeing us all flustered, you know!)
Finally, "I fucked up" and to that I say, "So what?" It's not the end of the world. Ask any mainstream occultist, author, blogger, & etc, if they ever fucked up. Hell ask any Houngan or Mambo if they ever fucked up and they'll all tell you, yes. At least once. It's NOT the end of the world! Don't lose your shit over it! Okay? Just take a deep breath and relax. The spirits are more forgiving than you realize. Even the Yorbuan Orisha, as snooty as they are, can be forgiving for an error because we all do err. Worse comes to worse, and if you really feel that bad about, just tap on your altar thrice and announce to your spirits that you apologize for fucking up.
Does a judge throw you in prison for mispronouncing his name? No, you apologize, let the matter drop and continue on. Would a senator who likes JD whiskey have you shot if you gave him a bottle of bourbon instead? No, you'd just apologize for your error and carry on. Social faux pas happen and the spirits expect such as well. Just try to be mindful and learn your craft because the older and more experienced you get, the less forgiving the spirits tend to be. Why? Well by then you SHOULD know how to do X and not make amateur mistakes. Right? ;)