Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Witch Activism

When Contemporary Paganism made its way to the United States it took on an interesting development from other movements that were going on at the time. Now, I am not strictly talking about British Traditional Wicca (BTW), Traditional Initiatory Witchcraft (TIW), Dedicatory Religious Witchcraft (DRW), Traditional Witchcraft (TW), American Druidism, British Druidry, or any other form. I am speaking about the pan-trends that underline the overarching movement of Contemporary Paganism. Essentially, early forms of Contemporary Paganism in the United States were affected by various other social trends within the larger society in which they operated. It should not be surprising that social institutions have influence upon one another within society.

Anyone with a bit of familiarity with the evolution of American Contemporary Paganism can attest to the fact that the Feminist and Environmentalist Movements helped to shape the popular approaches in the execution of their practices.

If not, then just flip through the book, “The Spiral Dance” by Starhawk, which very well shows the early influences. This close relationship between activism and the American streams of Contemporary Neo-Paganism are still strong today. Simply take a quick moment and think about the LGBT social movements, especially in regards to marriage, and the nearly one-sided support given by the majority of the community. No, it’s not complete support, but most are in favor of all forms of social equality regardless of sexual preference. This is a result of the relationship between the two social movements and is not necessarily inherent to Contemporary Paganism; opinions abound.

The practice of Witchcraft, for most forms, says very little on these subjects. Instead of actual specific praxis outlining the inclusion of these trends, it is the interpretation of morality as defined within the Craft that is the basis for this. Though Contemporary Neo-Paganism has no universal standard for ethics, the Wiccan Rede has left the nest of BTW where it originated, and is most commonly cited as the moral standard within the community.

However, it should be noted that it is in NO way universal. Some forms of Witchcraft have other standards and may out right reject the Rede. Many Druid Orders have as their standard a list of virtues that attempt to foster instead. Likewise, Recostructionists in all their forms all vary. However, at the end of the day the vast majority defer to the ideal of the Rede; in that if something causes no harm then it is permissible, and that all else is the responsibility of the individual to determine.

If we take a further moment and reflect upon the ideals and virtues that American society tends to advance as the standard of the American way, such as, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” as outlined it the United States Constitution, it can easily be deduced, sociologically speaking, on how and why these movements found themselves easily intermingling. There are of course no right or wrong answers; only answers.


Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

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