Sunday, July 09, 2006

Pagan Misconception #2

Pagan Misconception #2 – Witches/Pagans have magical powers that normal people do not have.

This misconception is touching on a couple of things. First, it implies that Witches are not normal people. Well, yes they have a different religion, but that doesn’t make them any less normal than, say, a Catholic or a Lutheran. The Witches that I have meet have jobs, families, hopes, dreams and, yes, even problems they need to take care of. The only difference is some of their religious beliefs. Witches are, in fact, regular people.

Second, it is focusing on one aspect of their religion – the use of magic. This misconception makes people think that Witches cast spells to get all the money, love and friends that they want by lighting a few candles and saying some words and that this is all that they do. However magic doesn’t work this way. While spell work and magic are a large component of Pagan Religions, especially Wicca, this is only a small part of the religion. It is not about using magic to become “powerful.” This is a misunderstanding of what magic is and what it does.

I will go more into the theory behind magic in a later post.

10 comments:

Eden said...

I see this a lot within the Pagan community as well, which I don't understand (this idea that we're naturally more in tune with nature or spirits or something).

When I was first learning, I felt inadequate. Like I wasn't worthy to learn b/c I didn't have this natural aptitude. As I learned, I realized that those things aren't relevant to the way I practice the craft as my faith. I've found that they're fun asides and aspects of a community that accepts ideas that others find unusual.

I can't wait to read your follow-up.

Sojourner said...

You hit on a good point. People are not naturally more in tune just because they are Pagan. Instead, it takes practice to become more aware of what is going on around us. This is part of both magic and psychology (IMHO). I see a lot of similarities between psychology (understanding the mind) and magic (focusing the mind).

Autumn said...

I'm glad your post are helping clear up so many things. Like you said Witches/Pagans are just like everyone else. The idea of something special comes from watching to much TV, or reading fiction. If I could twitch my nose or click my heels to preform some "magic spell" I would have a touble free life. Unfortunatly it doesn't work that way. Great post

Sojourner said...

Thanks Autumn! I have been noticing many news stories and articles that are perpetuating the misconceptions of Pagan religions, so I decided to explore this a little more. I am starting to realize that there are more misconceptions then I thought.

Rubicon said...

boy I wish it was true :P but alas...I haven't found a way to make magic do the housework. I also haven't been able to get me some pesky house elves either. crap.

Sojourner said...

:) It would be nice, wouldn't it?

Cosette said...

Another great entry. I'd like to add that magic and spellcraft don't have to be understood as being the same thing. I'm not implying that you are suggesting that, Sojourner, but I point it out because it's another misconception that many people have. Wicca is definitely a magical tradition in the sense that ritual acts (i.e. casting the circle, invocation, raising and directing energy, etc.) are magical acts, but spellcraft doesn't have to be a big component of it. I hardly ever cast spells.

Sojourner said...

True. Thanks for pointing that out, as I didn't make that clear. Many people do think of magic and spellcraft as one and the same but they can be seperated.

Starfisher said...

Another excellent post and series of replies. Certainly modern Pagans can't expect to have it both ways - we can't moan about not being treated equally and with respect, while at the same time claiming magical superiority over the 'muggle race' (yes I really have heard someone use this expression in real life). The magical traditions are inherently mystical and bear much similarity with the traditional practices of yoga, alchemy, kabbalah and so on ('traditional' as opposed to modern, 'easy' re-inventions). Just like anything, you have to work very hard to improve your skills in magic and it does not come easy nor overnight. It matters diddly squat if your great-great-great-grandmother was burnt at the stake. I do think that some people inherit second sight, and I also do think that many modern magical practitioners and mystics are drawn to these practices after having been involved in a former life. But this does not mean that they are in anyway superior to their fellows, just as my Wiccan degrees mean nothing outside the tradition of Wicca.

Sojourner said...

The magical traditions are inherently mystical and bear much similarity with the traditional practices of yoga, alchemy, kabbalah and so on

Yes, I would also say that every system of beliefs has a mystical tradition. Even some branches of Christianity have a mystical tradition.

Just like anything, you have to work very hard to improve your skills in magic and it does not come easy nor overnight.

Unfortunately people think that it is something that should come naturally if they are interested in it and get frustrated when they learn it is not easy. Something such as this should not come easy. There is a responibility that comes with the knowledge and use of magic.

...the 'muggle race' (yes I really have heard someone use this expression in real life).

I, too, have heard this being used in reference to Pagan/Wiccan use of magic. It's use is unfortunate.