Where the Wild Things Are: Talking About Being Pagan

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, January, 16, 2003.

Staying safe, in your own safe little world. Is that where you are? Many of us choose our adventures, how far we will go depends on where we have our safety nets.

For instance, have you told anyone you’re Pagan? Have you told your family, friends, co-workers, boss? I’m not suggesting you rush out and do it. I’m certainly not daring you to tell them either. It’s a personal thing. Being Pagan is a personal thing in itself. A personal choice and something just for you.

It should not, however, be some dark secret. Something deep, dangerous and naughty. That’s not what Paganism should be. It’s not something you should have to hide from your family. Being Pagan is about caring for life, the Earth and old traditions. How can they really object to that? Still, you can find the safety zone. You can let them know you’re into nature, environmental issues and historical traditions. You can be Pagan without saying the word Pagan to them.

People don’t always get that. They think they have to hide being Pagan because others won’t like it or will be shocked by it. They turn it into a deep, dark secret. By doing that they make it become something dark, secret. No wonder so many people still think of Pagans as devil worshippers.

You have the power to find where your safe world is, set the boundaries and set the record straight if you choose to. Let people know you’re Pagan, if you can or if you choose to. But, don’t make it some dark mystery. Don’t let them find an altar, a book or a pentacle in your room without explanation. If you make being Pagan something to be ashamed of or fear you hurt all of us.

Instead be proud of who you are and be as honest about it as you can. For me, the only person I couldn’t talk to about being Pagan was my Grandmother. It scared her. She couldn’t think of it as anything but dangerous for me. She didn’t understand that it’s not something dark, but something light. She didn’t know what I made of being Pagan, for me. She only knew the stereotypes she had heard all her life.

Rede Magick

Originally written for The Crying Clown Zine (c. 1998)

Tis the season for ghosts to haunt, vampires to suck (blood that is), werewolves to howl,and witches to fly. Or is it? Most people have put Santa and the Easter Bunny away with the broken decorations and the egg you didn’t find till the next year. Yet the idea of a witch in black from head to toe, with a black cat, casting her spells with the twitch of an eyebrow is still around. I don’t cast spells, I don’t like to wear black but I do admit to a fondness for cats.

Oh the wonder and the power of being a witch able to whip out a spell to make your life simpler, easier and so much better… Put that idea away with dear old Santa. Wiccans do not take the powers they study that lightly. To weave your magick you have to carefully consider the many strings attached before you even begin creating neat little rhymes to conjure with.

The Wiccan Rede: If it harms none, do what you will. The Rede is the heart of Wicca, it is the theme song, the top icon on your screen and the apple of many a witchy eye. However, there are as many definitions for ‘harms none’ as there are Wiccan Paths. Harm none includes yourself, your neighbor who yells when you cross his lawn, the guy/ girl you desparately wish would give you more than a second glance, your pet lizard, the ant you stepped on last week and the planet you step on every day. It includes everything you can touch, see, feel, hear, smell and think. Did I leave anything out? It includes that too.

Harm none is a huge responsibility. At some point magick will infringe on free will. It is up to you to decide if it is harmful. Some Wiccans will use love spells. I see this as manipulation and that rubs my version of harms none the wrong way. Manipulation does not respect the free will and rights of another person and is harm to that person. Of course, the easiest harm none definition would be black magick. White magick: works in harmony with the life forces of the universe and harms no one. Its goals are spiritual such as self knowledge, and for the good of all such as healing. Black magick is: causing change (in reality or in consciousness) for the purpose of causing either physical or non-physical harm to yourself or others, and is done consciously or unconsciously.

Every action causes a reaction, a pull on the strings attached. This is the basis of the ‘threefold law’. Simply put, everything you do (negative or positive) will come back to you times three. This is all wrapped up in karma and other strings upon strings upon strings upon strings. Keep things simple with your own version of ‘harms none’. Judge carefully what strings you are pulling and tangling in the magick you choose to weave.

Black is almost considered a witch uniform but no where in any ‘rule book’ does it say Witches, Wiccans or any Pagans must wear black or be forever black balled, black listed or have their names blackened. (I just couldn’t resist). True black is a mystical colour but the wearer won’t suddenly have magickal powers or secret knowledge. Power and knowledge can be gained through study and work. As for the cat thing… I’m training him to be my familiar, of course!

Happy Halloween/ Merry Samhain!