Caution: Pissed Ex-Wiccan

I’m so fucking sick of Hellenic Wicca bashing.  And by this, I mean Hellenists who insist upon bashing the Religion of Wicca, and the theology and practices of Wiccans.

I’ve heard the cultural appropriation line so many times I’m going to puke. So, you people with the fucking problem think you have a monopoly on the gods, do you?  Why don’t you try explaining to Apollon why a Wiccan can’t or shouldn’t worship/WORK WITH (I know how you just hate that term <3) him? I’m sure the god will be pleased by your bigoted opinion and all-pervasive wisdom concerning who he sees as worthy enough, or respectful enough for his attention.

And I’ll say this once more, as well.  Hekate is a goddess, a deity, a divinity, and she is ancient.  She can appear in whatever form she damn well pleases, including a crone.  You are attempting to limit the power of the gods.  You are saying that you know better than they do about which religions they will take part in.  And yes, they do take part in religions other than Hellenismos or whatever form of Hellenism you practice.

So, you are not Wiccan, and would never worship in a Wiccan context.  Fine.  But don’t think for a second that your religion is better, or worthy of more of the gods’ presence or respect, simply because you do not incorporate modern ritual forms, or cast circles, or Draw Down, or practice magic, or worship nude, or whatever else the big, bad Wicca Monster does.

I am a Hellenist who only recently (within the last five months) stopped self-identifying as Wiccan.  My practices haven’t really changed much in that time, only my willingness to identify as a duotheist when I am clearly a polytheist. And you know what?  Neither Apollon nor Aphrodite (or any of the other gods, for that matter) have given me any indication that they care, one way or the other.  The gods are still the gods whether we are Hellenes, Wiccan or just generally Neo-Pagan, and they don’t seem to be nearly as concerned about “proper labeling” as we mortals are.

So, why don’t you just get off you high-horse and rejoin the rest of Humanity on planet Earth?  Or, was your apotheosis so complete that your swelled head floated you all the way up to Olympos?


12 responses to “Caution: Pissed Ex-Wiccan

  1. I remember the type of Wicca-bashing you’re talking about, and it’s certainly not helpful. There are some factions of Hellenismos that are very rigid in their ideas of what is right and wrong. Unfortunately, I’ve also met the opposite, the ones who insist that anything goes, one way is just as equally valid as the next no matter what, etc. I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle, as it often does.

    For instance, Hekate. Of course, She may appear however She wants. But I don’t think it’s irrelevant that the ancients all saw Her as a young woman, and that the ones these days seeing Her as a crone are usually coming from an assumption that witch goddess = crone goddess (from a simplification and misunderstanding of world mythologies). That doesn’t mean they’re not truly encountering Hekate, at least at some level. But once informed of the tradition – of the combined experiences of thousands of ancient worshippers – if they still insist that Hekate IS a crone simply due to a modern ideology (i.e., absent a very powerful and undeniable visionary UPG), I’d say they are missing something. They are trying to fit Her into *their* box, rather than being open to Her as She is.

    That being said, a lot of times the problem here is simply that they don’t know. The misinformation is rampant. Certainly, bashing them and dismissing them is not a good way to educate.

    • I agree with all of the points you’ve raised. I’ll freely admit to accepting the Wiccan view of Hekate as a crone goddess before getting to know her better. When I saw her as a maiden for the first time, that is when I can say I truly understood her and her powers, but that new understanding never stopped her from continuing to appear as a crone, which she still does from time to time. And, too many people do have an anything goes attitude, but at the same time, many others hold an entirely too rigid view. It is as you said, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

  2. And one more thought… I don’t think the gods give a crap what we call ourselves, how we label our religion. I do, however, think They care what we actually DO. How we worship Them. I do think there are, at least in many circumstances, better and worse ways to do this, depending on the god in question. Now, how do we know what They prefer? Well, one way is tradition. Why reinvent the wheel? We have the accumulated knowledge of thousands of years of people worshipping these gods, trying out things and seeing how they are received. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for one’s personal, direct experience, even if it may contradict tradition. But I think the “reconstruction” phase is an important foundation, especially when one is still getting to know the gods, not yet skilled in communicating with Them, etc.

    There are plenty of modern and/or non-Hellenic elements of worship that are perfectly compatible with (or at least not in opposition to) the ancient ways. (And there are some ancient ways that may not be applicable, relevant or even desirable any more.) But the key, to me, is taking the time to really examine each thing, to test it out with the gods directly, to make sure it works for Them, and not just for us. If someone is doing that, and if they are treating the gods as real, then I don’t care what they call themselves.

    • Definitely, respect for the gods is key. And of course, going back to learn the ancient ways is the best place to start, but that takes time in some cases. And when individuals who are themselves representing those ancient ways go on telling interested Wiccans that they are just WRONG, that does not in any way compel those Wiccans to continue their search for authentic Hellenism. I’m just saying that if someone wants a Wiccan to consider a reconstructionist approach, then they should try explaining how the Wiccan’s worship might be enhanced by this approach, rather than insulting their current religion. That attitude is not helpful, and most Wiccans are disgusted by it.

  3. A message to those viewing this from the Hellenismos Facebook page. This post is not about you, or anything you have ever said or done in the past. I don’t know you, you don’t know me, so please don’t get stuck on something that isn’t necessarily any of your concern. This post is a response to someone in my actual life, who has nothing to do with you, just as I have nothing to do with you. And by the way, if any of you think I need to be slapped, please kindly march right up to my front door and try it. Otherwise, all your rhetoric amounts to so much runny excrement.

  4. To be honest with you, I don’t think most of the Wicca-bashing you see going on on the lists and forums has a theological, ideological or even practical basis – it’s pure sociology. Specifically a desire not to be seen as “fluffy” themselves. When a lot of these folks got started in the community they were uncertain of what to do, since Hellenismos doesn’t have a very good training program. However one thing that they noticed early was that the (perceived) big shots spent a lot of time bad-mouthing Wiccans. So they started doing it too, learning to mimic the tenor of the arguments and a set of stock phrases even if they didn’t properly understand the nature of the controversy. And sure enough the louder and more indignant they got, the more they became noticed by the “big dogs” winning them attention and inclusion in the group. Years have passed in some cases and their knowledge of authentic ancient Hellenic religion hasn’t been much improved but boy can they bash a Wiccan like nobody’s business! This becomes abundantly clear when you actually attempt to engage these people in a discussion of the intricacies of practice (which they don’t actually do, unless you count writing vicious screeds and posting them to your blog as “practice”) or belief (no need to think for one’s self when one can get away with merely quoting Sallustius) or history or anything related to Hellenismos. It’s all appearance, without any substance.

  5. The River Witch

    Great post, and really interesting commentary both here and on Tumblr. I’ve just written something very similar myself so whilst it’s still fresh in my mind:

    I personally do not feel comfortable calling on or working with Gods from a very different culture to mine unless They speak to me very strongly and I am well-versed in their lore and rites. This isn’t because I think those beliefs only ‘belong’ to the people of that place and/or culture, but because without full and proper understanding of those Gods, their rites and their place in that culture, workings of mine involving them would be disrespectful.

    Ultimately, it is up to the Gods who they call upon, and who may call upon them, and I believe that this is a personal and spiritual journey outside of ‘human’ things like race or place. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that some Gods are felt more strongly in the place of their ‘birth’ and that perhaps this is the reason why some people feel they have a right to exclude other people from working with ‘their’ Gods if they are from another culture or land. It sounds like petty BS to me, either way.

    This has been made very apparent to me researching the Asatru community and the far-right division who believe that only ‘the People’ may practice Asatru or work with the Nordic Gods.

    What am I trying to say here? I don’t know. I am a non-Wiccan Witch and Druid with strong Celtic heritage myself, but to say that people of another heritage cannot worship my Gods would be insanity. That isn’t how religion works; it wants to spread, the Gods want to be called upon – it makes them powerful. There is no point in binding a religion to one place or culture, that’s a sure way of killing it off.

    Here that? That was my tuppence-worth of opinion hitting the floor :)

    • Wow, on Tumblr? Really? I had no idea my rant would cause such a stir, but I’m appreciative of the supportive interest in my blog post. As for me, I was called to work with the Hellenic Pantheon, and have received no other significant calling from other Pantheons. I was Wiccan when it happened, and I was Wiccan throughout most of it. But, I’ve also tried to respect them, and the customs that they are used to from antiquity, especially respecting the preferences of each particular deity I petitioned in a given rite.

      Wiccans can and will adopt foundational worship techniques, if they work for them, given enough time to gradually incorporate them into their practice. It is important to remain true to one’s gods, as well as to oneself, as a witch. And I doubt that the gods would want us to compromise our integrity, any more than they would want to be disrespected, themselves.

      The Hellenization of my Wiccan practice began almost four years ago, when I began working with Dionysos. But it was gradual, every accepted change was weighed out and evaluated based upon the ancient reasoning behind it, as well as its potential positive influence on my Work. It was a process in which I was very highly intellectually and spiritually engaged. Navigating a path of witchcraft through Hellenism isn’t impossible, but there is a whole lot of shaming and bullying of Hellenic-inspired Wiccans, and witches of a purely Hellenic nature going on. Those doing such can not effectively convince any Wiccan toward their argument by shaming and bullying them. Those are the tactics of Fundamentalist Monotheism, flaring up again in people, who, for whatever reason, were unable to break free from that soul-crushing paradigm. And I think that is a terrible shame.

  6. The River Witch

    “Those doing such can not effectively convince any Wiccan toward their argument by shaming and bullying them.”

    And a bloody good thing, too. Enough people are cowed into half-lives and closets through being shamed and bullied as it is. Those, as you say, are tactics we are all too familiar with hurled from the mount of monotheistic fundie-land.

  7. My religious background is heavily filtered through Roman influence (although I am not Nova Roma) so I find it kind of funny that modern Hellenists would get up in arms over cultural appropriation. I mean, I do agree that being respectful of the Gods is a must, and I will be the first to admit that Rome might not have always been the most respectful of other Gods. But if Rome had not decided to appropriate Greek culture, Apollo would not currently be a household name (I use Apollo in particular because I just got through watching a special on the Apollo program, but really lots of the Greek Gods would work here). Besides which the reason so many ‘Greek’ statues still survive and are famous is because Romans decided to make copies of them.

    So I do see where you are coming from and really agree.


    • That is a very good point you’ve brought up. I think we owe the Romans our gratitude for their preservation of the myths, and their knowledge of the gods. And for those of us who are American, especially, to speak of cultural appropriation… I don’t hear anyone complaining about how we “stole” democracy and republican government from Athens or Rome. And I only see some Christians up in arms over the many (many, many, many) Pagan and goddess depictions enshrined in our national monuments and institutions. The gods are woven into the fabric of this society, and that’s not by accident on their part. So I think we should be aware that they may in fact be interested in the newer American religions, as well as the reconstructed religions from the past. This is their country anyway, and in no less a way than Rome or Ancient Hellas.

  8. My problem with Wiccans is the commercialized aspect of it and the belief in Jungian archetypes rather than the gods being real beings, which “dehumanizes” them. I know they aren’t human of course but they are people. I don’t think all the things from it are useless though. The Wheel of the Yr and circle casting are not bad ideas. Good points in this post and the comments though. This and another post I recently read has made me reconsider making fun of Wiccans.