“Taking elements of” older religions and “warping them into something else”

May 26, 2007

On both the blogs To slam a revolving door and A Blog of 2 Witches, there is an entry titled “10 Things Everyone Should Know About Witches, containing the following:

4) We are NOT Satanists (a Satanist actually takes elements from Christianity and pagan traditions and warps them into something else. Satan is a Christian myth, so it is NOT something associated with witches)

Well, this is a little better than the commonly-heard claim that all forms of Satanism are “just upside down Christianity.” At least there’s an acknowledgment here that most Satanists draw ideas from other sources besides just Christianity.

However, the intended point here seems to be that modern Pagan Witchcraft, supposedly unlike Satanism in this regard, is supposedly a pure and pristene ancient pagan tradition – which it most definitely is not.

Modern Pagan Witchcraft is a new and thoroughly modern religion, with a thoroughly modern ethic, with theology, practices, and terminology drawn from many different sources both ancient and modern — including the modern but long-discredited idea, held by 1800’s occultists and later by anthropologists such as Margaret Murray, that the post-Renaissance European witchhunts were a persecution of an underground Pagan cult of “the Horned God.” (For more updated scholarly ideas about the witchhunts, see Recent Developments in the Study of The Great European Witch Hunt by Jenny Gibbons (another copy here).)

Also, modern Pagan Witchcraft is far from totally un-influenced by Christianity. Modern Pagan Witchcraft, especially classical Wicca, features some of those aspects of various ancient pagan religions that were preserved within Christianity, especially within Catholicism (e.g. the seasonal holidays, the “dying and rising god” theme, the sacred meal of “cakes and wine,” and various ritual gestures such as the consecration of water). There were plenty of other ancient pagan traditions which Christianity did not preserve, and neither does modern Pagan Witchcraft.

Every new religion takes ideas from older religions and “warps them into something else” (or, to put less of a negative spin on it, changes them into something else) — and there’s nothing wrong with that. Indeed, I would say that Wicca is such a fast-growing religious movement precisely because it is so thoroughly modern and in touch with the spirit of the Western world today.

Comments requested from Satanists and Pagans and occultists only.

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9 Responses to ““Taking elements of” older religions and “warping them into something else””

  1. brahnamin Says:

    i commented (once with a link, once without, but otherwise the same comment) but it looks like akismet ate it

    that’s been happening alot this month for wordpress bloggers

    if you wouldn’t mind fishing my comment out of spam it would be appreciated.

    thanks.

  2. Diane Vera Says:

    I looked in “spam” and found nothing. Something else must have happened to your comment. I have no idea what. Can’t find it anywhere.

  3. brahnamin Says:

    *shrug*

    i reposted the same comment on mySite if your readers care to go peek at it

  4. The 2 Witches Says:

    Neither Lady Rose nor myself would ever claim that modern Wicca is an ancient religion. It is a modern one, though it does draw on aspects of antiquity.

    The point was more to reinforce the fact that Satan is not part of the religious mythos of Wicca

    Mama Kelly

  5. Diane Vera Says:

    There’s certainly nothing wrong with Wiccans saying that Satan is not part of the religious mythos of Wicca. It would be nice if more Wiccans could just say that without feeling the need to elaborate on it in misleading ways. For more about this, see my Critique of Wiccan and Other Neo-Pagan Disclaimers About Satanism.

  6. piereth Says:

    Diane, I read your Critique with interest. I particularly agree when you say that it is the connection to the Goddess and God that matters – as long as this is true and strong, what price the age of the rite!

    As a hedgewitch I’d rather leave Christianity out of any comparative statements I make about Wicca, while respectfully acknowledging that for me at least, Christianity has relevance because I was brought up a Christian.

    Collectively, many religions share elements – Mithraism also has a resurrecting god, water to wine, and a saviour birth in December.

    There is no direct ancient lineage to Wicca as you say. Modern High Wicca, for example the Gardnerian variety, is a modern invention. Some would say that without practicing this branch of Wicca, you can’t call yourself Wiccan – but that’s a discussion for another day!

    I do things in my worship which I believe to be ancient, though there is no written evidence. I go to ancient places, I look for signs from antiquity to lead me. But I’m not claiming gravitas from the past for what I do, nor seeking to lay claim to an ancient way of worship, as if this would make it more authentic. I think this is where some Wiccans go wrong.

    I don’t acknowledge a named ‘evil’ deity in juxtaposition to the Goddess and the God; I don’t need to, as They are light and dark, good and evil, kind and terrible together. So the devil, or something like him, is irrelevant to me as a witch.

    Bright blessings


  7. […] when will it end? 04Jun07 Over on Diane Vera’s WordPress blog, she posted about her rebuttal of another atypical Wiccan “Satanism” disclaimer. Now, Wicca and Paganism are often […]

  8. Kafele Minkabh Says:

    You know, if the Pagans want to insist that we sacrifice people, we could always start with them… or the fundies first? Hmmm.

    In all seriousness, though, it is one of the most damn irritating things to put up with: the constant slander and defamation against those who choose to be Satanists because of a pack of lies that the religious right have left us with.

  9. Diane Vera Says:

    Hi, Kafele Minkabh! Do you also have a blog of your own, here on WordPress or elsewhere? If so, perhaps you might want to put its URL in your profile so it will be linked automatically from your user name when you post comments on other blogs here on WordPress. Also, perhaps you might be interested in my forthcoming Theistic Satanism Blog Network?


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