Deviating from the Pagan Blog Project yet again because I read this thing and needed to process. As a precursor to this post: in general, I like XoJane, maybe more than I should. But an article I found there earlier today (“I’m Building My Very First Wiccan Shrine – Here’s How”) left a bad taste in my mouth. And not just because of that awful title! Let’s just take a gander shall we?
The author starts the article by identifying Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” as the definitive guide “for us hermetic, aspiring witches”. By hermetic, I hope she’s referencing the “ancient occult traditions” definition, rather than the more commonly known “completely sealed/airtight” one. Mistake #1 (word usage notwithstanding), she conflates Wiccans and witches. I am not a Wiccan, but I’ve known enough and seen enough internet fights to be reasonably sure in asserting that this is incorrect. Many Wiccans would find the conflation insulting.
Except that I actually am.
Mistake #2: “Wicca is a gorgeous religion.” Seriously, who says crap like that? This is where I really started to get annoyed. My faith is not here for you to admire. I don’t do this so you can look at something pretty. This is what I believe. It runs deep in the bone. My identity as a witch is not a fashion statement.
The author says she read a lot, but lists no other sources and appears to be completely ignorant of most things. I will give her props that she can quote Scott Cunningham like a boss, but one book does not a witch make. And one book certainly doesn’t make you qualified to write a how to article on the faith you’re publicly claiming.
Fairuza Balk begs to differ
Mistake #3: “It’s about becoming friends with these universal forces, feeling supported and loved by these natural energies, and better understanding your tiny little place in this big-ass world. It’s about doing things your way. It’s arguably the punkest of all the world’s religions.” Where do I begin? Does she know how fluffy she sounds? The so-called natural energies don’t give a shit about you. A tornado doesn’t want to be your friend. Punk is a fashion statement. Witches don’t wear leather jackets to ritual. (Ok, maybe some do.) See also: mistake #2.
The author goes on to complain about how Cunningham doesn’t give clearcut, step-by-step directions on how to do ritual and set up an altar. News flash: while Paganism is called the craft for a reason (see here for more explanation on that), you’re not learning arts and crafts. Often there is no one size fits all path, which is something many of us love about Paganism. This is not a Lego faith; it doesn’t all fit neatly together in a prescribed order. Stop trying to make it do that thing.
Sometimes you type “lego faith” into Google and realize that there’s some sort of Christian conference relating to Legos. I don’t even know!
Mistake #NOWI’MJUSTMAD: “Do I really have to say ‘O Great Ones!’ Feels a little Satany, tbh.” This statement alone proves you know nothing about Wicca. This is especially hilarious in light of the fact that two paragraphs later she complains that having a red and green candle on her shrine “feels inappropriately Judeo-Christian for my purposes”.
Pretty much my face throughout this article
There are approximately fifteen more things I could write about being annoyed with in this article, but I’ll spare you. This was painful to read. I have a talent for reading painful things in order to be able to thoroughly critique them (thank you graduate school).
I know it’s maybe a bit of a tired cliché, but it’s apt in this case: ignorance is a choice. While there is such a thing as a n00b whose basic questions should be respected, this author needs to do less writing as an “expert” and more LRR (listening, reading, and research). That’s how the best witches are made.