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I am not nor have I ever been a Wiccan, a Pagan, a Rainbow Girl, or
even a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Nor, for that matter, have I been a practicing Christian, a Catholic,
a Muslim, or a Sufi, either. I am, however, I do confess, an ex-Girl
Scout and Brownie who really wanted WEBELOS Boy Scout merit badges
instead — THEY were more interesting to me than the cooking or sewing
or cookie-selling we women seem to have been force-fed as children.
But I have to say, any time I see a coupla white guys sitting around
talking two at a time ’bout witches — or abortion rights — it makes
me real nervous. My smoke alarm gets triggered.
My thought process goes something like this:
men / witchcraft / Salem / trials / burned-at-the-stake / Inquisition / Torquemada / Aaron
Spelling TV series / bad reruns / broken marriages, etc.
Essentially, Wiccans were herbalists who practiced benign forms of
healing, up to the 15th century or so, until threatened men snatched
that away from them, banned their feminine arts, and had them burned at
the stake, locked in the stocks, tortured and drowned, or grilled in
some Star Chamber. Yes they worshipped the Goddess as many early
earth-based religions did until the patriarchy panicked — and you know
the rest. Religion, like medicine and most other things, became a Boys
Club. Bad meals. Betrayal. Apostasy. Crucifixion. Jeff Hunter’s film
So what we have here are two of my esteemed brother journalist
colleagues at WND exercising their perfectly fine Constitutional
prerogatives to comment on how they prefer their respective personal
religious vantage points to Witchcraft. That’s cool. You like vanilla, I
like cherry chocolate mint almond butter tofu chip — on a computer
screen, so it’s not fattening.
But, hey fellas, how bad a thing could goddess-worship be? We’ve all
done it. As kids, remember, when we were in that stage of adoration we
would do anything for our mothers? Mothers, the first goddesses? Sound
familiar? What’s subversive or evil or dark about that?
I’m not talking about prostrating ourselves before a religious
reliquary of Cher or Madonna. I’m not talking about the witches in
Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” stirring up splashes in their kettle to make
waves rise in the sea — that’s scary, but it’s mere theatre. I’m not
even talking about how Roseanne canonized herself as a “domestic
goddess” — that’s scary, too, but it’s just TV.
I’m talking about how it should be possible in America today to have
discourse that is inclusive rather than divisive. Why does it always
have to come down to US vs. THEM?
Where their critique gets real hairy for me is the Wiccans-use-horse
slime thing, an outdated practice they cite in Robert Graves’ White
Goddess. Originally published more than 50 years ago, subtitled, “A
Historic Grammar of Poetic Myth,” Graves’ book is a companion to
literature rather than an authoritative survey of present-day Wiccan
practices. So why use it to indict Wiccans?
“What charmers!” said “Meg,” a pagan from England specializing in
American women’s health issues: “Tell them how modern pharmaceutical
companies use horse pee to make Premarin, the acceptable modern way —
male, of course — to transform ‘crones’ into ‘ladies’ again. And all
in the name of ‘saving’ women.”
While we’re at it, why not bring in how Catherine the Great of Russia
was putatively crushed to death while having sex with a horse, and how
that’s as good a reason as any to continue viewing Russia as the evil,
or at least vile, empire. Um, maybe ol’ Cathy was … a witch?
Do you realize the words “wit” and “wisdom” come from the same root
as witch does?
Besides, guys, criticism of witches is usually male chauvinism
masquerading as … male chauvinism, anthropologist Jan Harold Brunvand
astutely notes in his seminal book, THE STUDY OF AMERICAN FOLKLORE. “The
negative view of many men … regarding these (female-based) traditions”
of witches and witchcraft, Brunvand contends, is — get a chair out —
unabashed “male chauvinism.”
Over time, women as mother and priestess became women as witch, said
Elizabeth Cady Stanton in “The Original Feminist Attack on the Bible.”
Wait. It gets worse. “Witches provided a focus for sexist hatred in
male-dominated society,” according to Barbara G. Walker’s “Women’s
Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets.”
“I define [myself] as pagan not wiccan,” says Meg, “although boys
think the difference is just semantic! It is not worth debating them
— they are just scared / jealous of women’s power! That’s what the
burnings were all about: male fear and how they handle it.”