Why are so many people being drawn to Wicca (Paganism)?

(Adapted From http://www.religioustolerance.org/wic_people.htm) Many people often go through a period of spiritual searching. They sometimes abandon the religion of their parents, and seek a different religious group or spiritual movement that is more suited to their beliefs. Some of the factors in Wicca that they might find attractive are: Lack of sexist beliefs and practices: A common principle in many Wiccan traditions is the equality between the sexes. Both men and women are viewed as having their female and male side. Each person has the task of balancing the two. Within Wicca, the female principle is considered as powerful as and sometimes even more important than the male. Wiccan’s commune with the Goddess and the God. Many people reject the male domination seen in many Christian denominations -- particularly in Roman Catholicism and in some faith groups within the conservative wing of Protestantism. Here, positions of power and authority are reserved for men. Wiccans view the female and male principle in balance everywhere in the universe. Concern for the environment: Like all other aboriginal and aboriginal-based religions, Wiccans are deeply concerned about the environment. They strongly respect and care for the earth itself, and its entire collection of species of animals and plants. They feel closely tuned to the cycles of nature and to the earth itself. They reject the concept, mentioned in Genesis 1:28, that mankind is to subdue the earth and to dominate all of its living creatures. They feel that humans should live in cooperation with other species and with the universe. Public perception of Wicca: Wicca is becoming more acceptable to peoples because the public's perception of Wicca/Witchcraft has improved over the past centuries: In the period circa 1450 to 1792 CE, the Christian churches committed a great deal of their effort into obtaining a religious monopoly in Europe. This involved rounding up individuals that they thought were Witches and burning them alive. Over the next two centuries, the concept of the evil and dangerous Witch was preserved in many children's nursery rhymes and taught within many Christian denominations. This continues today. More recently, a series of TV programs have shown women involved in various magical pursuits: Bewitched showed an attractive mother and her daughter using their magical powers for positive purposes. It is now in syndication. Melissa Joan Hart plays Sabrina, the people-aged Witch. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Buffy the vampire slayer. In the initial cast, Shannon Doherty, Holly Marie Combs and Alyssa Milano played three young adults who are sisters in Charmed -- a program "that weaves daily life with the supernatural." One episode was titled "Something Wicca This Way Comes" Shannon has since been replaced by Rose McGowan. Although these programs have very little to do with Wicca. they do include positive portrayals of women practicing various forms of magic. Portrayal of Witches in Hollywood movies is generally negative. 1 However, a few movies have scenes that contain accurate segments. Two Witches in the Wizard of Oz were shown in a positive light. The Wicker Man portrayed a Pagan island off the coast of Scotland. Although much of the story shows Neo-pagan themes, it ends with a human sacrifice which is definitely not Wiccan! A popular recent movie, "The Craft" (Columbia, 1996), accurately showed the Wiccan owner of a New Age/Magic store. The rest of the movie, involving people age women engaging in domination and manipulation, was totally unrelated to Wicca. Still, it probably generated a great deal of interest in Wicca (a.k.a. The Craft) among people. TV documentaries and news items involving Wicca have supplied the public with more-or-less accurate descriptions of Wicca and other Neo-pagan traditions. In recent years, Wiccans have been coming out of the [broom] closet and demanding the religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. and Canadian constitutions. Conflicts over Wiccans in the military and the wearing

of Wiccan religious jewelry (pentacles) in public high schools have been well covered in the media. With each article and program, the non-pagan public learns more details about Wicca. Morality: Many people view traditional moral beliefs of the dominant religions to be excessively restrictive. This is particularly true in the case of sexual morality. Remaining a virgin until marriage was easier to accomplish in previous eras when the time interval between the onset of puberty and marriage was only a few years -- perhaps only a few months. But, in recent decades, the menarche and its resultant hormonal overload has occurred earlier, while the average age at marriage has increased greatly. The gap between puberty and marriage is approaching 15 years; less than 10% of brides and grooms are virgins at their first marriage. Most have lived together before tying the knot. The Wiccan religion does not have a list of "thou shalt nots." It has a single, universal rule of behavior: the Wiccan Rede. This states "An it harm none, do as thou wilt." i.e. do whatever you want as long as it harms nobody including yourself. The decision whether to become sexually active before marriage is thus not banned by an absolute prohibition. A Wiccan makes her/his decision is based on an analytical process which determines the potential for harm to either party. Instead of pre-marital sex being prohibited, it is can be seen as a morally positive activity in some circumstances, as long as precautions are first taken to avoid pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, health problems, negative effects on the relationship, and damage to each person's self-esteem. Personal involvement: Some people are unhappy with the church of their parents because direct participation is lacking. They view the minister performing rituals and the congregation passively watching. In Wicca, they have the opportunity to perform rituals either alone as a solitary practitioner, or as a member of a coven. They often create rituals of their own -- a function that is inconceivable in many other religions. Lack of discrimination: Many people are repulsed by the current level of discrimination within some Christian churches in the areas of gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, and marital status. They see Wicca as being more tolerant, more accepting of diversity, and promoting a higher standard of morality than many Christian denominations. Flexibility: A Wiccan can cast a circle and perform other rituals either alone or within a group. They can do this in any location on earth. It can be performed inside or out of doors, at any time of day and any day of the year. They can concentrate on whichever parts of Wicca that interest them. Some stress spells; others divination. Some concentrate on healing rituals; others on worship. Quest for power: Many people are at least initially attracted to Wicca for all the wrong reasons. They believe some of the propaganda in movies about Witchcraft: They expect that they will learn spells that will enable them to gain control over their lives; they will be able to dominate, manipulate, and control other people. They assume that Wiccans all wear all-black clothing and scare their friends with threats of curses. Many people with these beliefs drift away from Wicca as soon as they learn what it is truly about -- that any form of manipulation or harm to others is forbidden. However, some to stay long enough to realize that Wicca is a religious and spiritual path with a lot to offer a minority of people. They learn that Wicca path is for personal spiritual growth, and not for impressing others. Legal matters involving Wiccans In the United States, persons under the age of 18 are regarded as being under the almost absolute control of their parent(s) / guardian(s). Parents have essentially total direction of the religious environment of their children. Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child. In theory, this gives some rights to children who want to deviate from the religion of their parents; however this right has not, to our knowledge, been tested in the courts.

In short, peoples under the age of 18 have little or no freedom of religious assembly, education, or practice unless they first receive permission of a parent or guardian. Individuals who teach or otherwise involve young people in different religions or spiritual paths without the prior approval of their parents can find themselves in serious legal difficulties.

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