Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Entitlement Fairy: A Cautionary Tale

Suzie (it could just as easily be Sam) is your average gal in her early twenties.  She's read a few books websites about modern witchcraft and decided it's exactly the sort of thing that could do wonders for her.

She's bought herself a wand (forged iron is patriarchal!!!!), a gaudy pentacle necklace, and a size 2 pewter cauldron.  She considers herself feisty, intelligent, and a sure-fire winner who can do great things for Wicca.  The history of her new-found religion doesn't mean much to her, and she ignores the contributions and ideas of the various people who have shaped Wicca into what it is today.  Better to rely on Wikipedia and gossip for history.  Books are so last century!

After all, it's not a *real* religion, the way those nasty, dogmatic, patriarchal monotheisms are.  There's no Bible.  There's no right or wrong way.  A forty year practitioner is no different than the person who just discovered Witchvox.  It's about love and freedom and self-expression and doing whatever you want.  You can make it up.  You can talk to fairies.  You can be a half-dragon/flying wombat/McWicca snack pack!  And there's no one who can tell you otherwise!

When Suzie begins to interact with the local Pagan community, she doesn't approach people as a curious seeker or a serious, if new and unexperienced, co-religionist.  She enters the door considering herself the most special princess around, and regardless of how much experience or perception another person might have, her personal assumptions entitle her to run the show.

You see, Suzie has fabulous ideas about what Paganism should be, how it needs to change to better suit her, and a long list of gripes about everything she personally feels left out of or is otherwise offended by.  And she will move heaven and earth in making her voice heard.

The response from the community?  If they pay her any mind at all, it's usually a resounding "Meh" before everyone goes back to their business.  Maybe someone takes her to task, only renewing her crusade to rid the world of dogmas she personally dislikes.  But generally?  Nothing.  The worst review is no review.

At this point, Suzie has one of two options.  She can fess up that maybe, possibly, she might actually learn something if she shuts up long enough to listen and think about the things she reads.  Or, since she considers Wicca to be a free-for-all, she can dub herself Grand Lady MoonSquirt and set herself up as an authority and start spreading her message to the world.

Suzie universally chooses the second option.  There is always a would-be Martin Luther in any group. 

Suzie disregards the need for study, and doesn't actually practice anything she reads about, but is really fucking dead-set on demanding the answers to her questions that are mostly already answered.  Or would be answered if she engaged in her practice.  Wicca is a mystery tradition after all, and even if you are going DIY, there are certain revelations that dawn on you over time.

But that requires work.  Effort.  Dedication to the Craft part of Witchcraft.  All things that have fallen out of favor in recent years globally, but specifically among those drawn to Wicca.  It's easier to bitch until someone spoonfeeds you the information than it is to find it for yourself.  It's easier to be the Entitlement Fairy than it is to prove yourself as a serious, capable, powerful Witch.  It's easier to fuck around in the shallow end than it is to jump off the diving board.

Suzie's story is an open-ended one.  She might one day have a shamanic break where she realizes just how real this shit is and will begin to take it, and herself in connection to it, seriously.  She might eventually get bored with it all, or run out of steam, or free-time, or money.  She might even go back to her religion of origin, or pick a new one, and she will undoubtedly do great things for it.

It's really all up to Suzie to decide.

And that, boys and girls, is part of the Mystery.

6 comments:

  1. You've put into words exactly what I've been feeling and experiencing in the Pagan community so much lately. While everyone was "new" at one point or another, people can either approach things recognizing that hey, maybe they've got a lot to learn.....or, they can take the "Suzie" approach. Sadly, it's almost always the latter course. Hard work, practice, and development have fallen out of favour, replaced with one-book "Wiccans" and do-it-yourself religion. Just yesterday, I had somebody tell me my approach to Wicca was "unethical" and "offensive" because I told them Wicca had rules, one had to be initiated into a lineaged coven to get the full effect, and that it was a fertility cult/mystery religion and not a New Age free-for-all. Apparently, this person tells me, Wicca has "evolved" and no longer has boring old concepts like "initiation" or "experience" or "dedication." Who knew?

    Too often, people pop into the scene, preaching a "love and light" doctrine (most would-be Wiccans seem to more or less continue practicing Christianity, with a Goddess thrown in) with a healthy mix of "Charmed" and "the Craft" thrown in, and proceed to tell long-time practitioners that they're doing it "wrong." Such people rarely last; when they realize that no, they aren't going to be the new Messiah and no, people won't take their new persona as Lady Moonpentacle Dragoncacklewitch seriously, they run back to whatever it was they were before and end up badmouthing what they think Wicca is, for not being what they thought they wanted it to be. Fortunately, there seems to be a backlash brewing, and with the demise of Buffy I think fewer teens are playing around at being Witches. Still I can't help but be saddened at how powerful words like "Witch" have been castrated and dumbed-down by role playing wanna-be's and faddists on the search for the next big thrill. One almost wishes it had stayed underground, to be found only by those who were truly meant to find it.

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  2. PS:I LOVE your new blog title pics. "Season of the Witch" right? I have it here and was watching it just the other day. Amazing mix of Huson's work and Gardnerian ritual they put in the movie, no?

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  3. I EFFIN' love that movie!!!!!

    The fact that you know it makes you the newest member of the Awesome Witch Club. Someone will be around to initiate you shortly. Teehee.

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  4. YAY! I've always wanted an initiation into the Awesome Witch Club! We have to listen to Donovan's "Season of the Witch" during the ritual; the montage in the film, when she's shopping for her witchy tools while that song plays in the background, is the highlight of the film.

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  5. I think another part of the problem, too, AithneLovelace,is that the blogs and books they read tend to be the absolutely worst resources. For every awesome site, like our dear Veles' here, or Sarah Lawless's, or similar there are probably hundreds that push a very superficial or even completely wrong view of the Craft. Scanning several different Wicca boards, for example, I saw many times in one month where people asking for advice were told that "Wiccans can't do prosperity or love spells" because they are for "personal gain." HUH? If you're lucky enough not to know, the "personal gain" nonsense comes from the tv show "Charmed" and yet it was being given as though it were ancient Craft law. "Witches never do curses," and "All Witches are Wiccans," are other bits of fluff bandied about, yet 5 minutes with a credible book on the occult will easily demonstrate neither of those things are true.

    Unfortunately, the people who brag about their knowledge and dispense advice to "seekers" are often people who, themselves, know nothing about Witchcraft except for that they read in a few books and picked up from TV and movies. Sadly, the newbies simply don't know any better, assume that these people must know what they're talking about, and end up passing on the misinformation themselves later in a kind of vicious cycle. I always tell people who are interested in Wicca to read Gardner and the Farrars, and who are interested in general Witchcraft to read Doreen Valiente. At least then, I know they're getting good, solid advice from the people who literally founded Wicca and kick started the modern Witchcraft movement, and not from a dubious source of information.

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  6. You just described my own local Suzie to a T! She took a couple wicca 101 courses at local shops and figured that was all she needed to be a leader in our local pagan community. She then went on to try to start various covens and study groups over the next 4 years - which all successively failed because no one ever showed up (they knew it was her). It could be because she never bathes or smiles...(schizo much?) She also changed her "magickal" name about five times which didn't help her cause.

    I had a friend like this too once, no group was ever good enough for her because they wouldn't do things her way or treat her like an elder... Hun, you're in your 20s and they are the elders, if you want in you need to listen to them not the other way around! Needless to say she's lonely and ostracized from the community cause no one wanted to put up with her.

    I've learned the pagan community is just like the playground - you gotta be willing to play with others to be included. :P

    Slainte,
    Sarah

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