A question regarding Wiccans

Here is the scenerio:
It’s the Friday before the High School gets out for Spring Break, it’s also the last time school meets before Easter. The Christian Club puts on an Easter show, complete with a giant Cross. They also preach their message into a mic that couldn’t be heard at any real distance.
A young man in my class got upset about that, and felt offended. He is Wiccan. At first, I tried to explain to him that he didn’t have to listen or pay attention to it. I mean, come on, it’s a BIG school. I told him he had the right to protest if he felt strongly about it, but the Christian Group has the right to freedom of speech as well.
Ok, I’m getting to the point now, stay with me…
He then said something to the effect of “People say Jews have been persecuted for thousands of years, and that’s true. But so have Wiccans, remember a little thing called The Salem Witch Trials?”
Here is where I laughed out loud…I couldn’t help myself. Every piece of evidence points towards the fact that NONE of the men and women killed actually were practicing Wiccans, and they were probably killed out of hysteria, greed, anger, revenge…see Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
Then he mentioned The European Witch Trials and all the hysteria that went on around the time of Bubonic Plague and all that fun stuff. I pointed out that the majority of them were not Wiccans or witches, they were midwives and innocent victims.
At that point he stormed off in a huff, muttering about how intolerant of other religions I am.
That is a basically EXACT reproduction of our conversation. I’m pretty sure that I am right, I have some historical evidence backing me up, most notably The History Channel. But what do you guys think?
Were the Witch Trials both in Europe and Salem mindless hysteria, scapegoating, and all together pointless death. OR was it a systematic destruction of Wiccans on the scale of the Holocaust?

“The bitch, oh the bitch, the bitch is back…I’m a bitch cuz I’m better then you, it’s the way that I move
The things that I do…” Elton John
“People try to tell me thoughts they cannot defend…” The Moody Blues
“To start, press any key. Where’s the any key?” Homer Simpson.

It was a little bit of both. The Inquisition went after witches, among others, and a handbook was written (The Hammer of Witches) on how to do it. “Witch” was defined so that almost any “odd” or “unusual” woman was a potential target. A mole was enough for a conviction. In Salem, there was probably some child’s-play “magic” or “witchcraft” going on among the children, but a lot of the witch trials there seemed to be based in either mean-spiritedness or hysteria. I remember reading one account of the Salem events blaming it on ergotism. So while “witches” were definitely persecuted, having a “Christian Club” stage an Easter pageant (as long as it was not a violation of the Lemon test) probably doesn’t count. If he’s really that upset, then tell him to stage a sabbat on the next full moon.

The Witch trials started out of hysteria about the Pagans but it was anyone who seemed to have any kind of knowledge that suffered. Part of the reason the plague lasted so long was because it was spread by rats. Well cats eat rats but the people were killing the cats because of the hysteria about the witches because cats are witches familiars.

Yes I guess that a lot of people were killed for witchcraft. Not all were witches no but a good portion of them were. Like the holocaust it wasn’t JUST Jews that were killed like that but a good portion of them were.

Most of the people were denounced because they had something someone else wanted or they were hated for some reason. Then they were tortured and forced to admit their ‘crimes’ and turn in their co-conspirators.
It started because of fear for Pagans and during the first while most of them were pagans I suspect. But eventually things got out of hand. The plague didn’t help things either.

But thats my take on it.

Never run from anything immortal, it attracts their attention.

Brought to you by the Amazon woman of Canada.

For starters, Wicca is not an ancient religion. While it is based on ancient Pagan practices, Wicca itself is pretty new. So the men, women & children killed during what today’s witches refer to as “The Burning Times” were not Wiccans.

However, what the persecuted people of those times did was often called “magic.” They practiced herbal medicine, created things like love charms and protective talismans, and even did a little spell casting. It was not simply praying to the Christian god and asking for his intervention. They took an active role in making things happen. When good things happened as a result (“here, Goody Jones, give your son this willow bark to chew on. It will ease his pain.”) the common folk didn’t complain. When stuff happened that was not good, like illness & death, people looked for a reason. The simplest explanation? “God wouldn’t let that happen–it must be witchcraft.”

I can see why your friend was upset by your reaction, though. Truth is, those people were persecuted for witchcraft. They were accused of being witches. Some were, some weren’t. The Burning Times are nothing for you to laugh at. Thousands of people died. Thousands, at it was because they were thought to be witches.

Cristi, Slayer of Peeps

I made my husband join a bridge club. He jumps next Tuesday.

(title & sig courtesy of UncleBeer and WallyM7!)

I didn’t laugh at the thought that thousands of people died. I laughed at his logic. To my mind the Salem Witch Trials is not even close to the religious persecution that the Jews have experienced…well since forever. Because the Salem Witch Trials had NOTHING to do with witchcraft. The Salem Witch trials was about greed, betrayal, and well, more greed.
Granted my knowledge of Witchcraft comes only from the History Channel, and so I am not as knowledgable as most people…but it seems to me the MAJORITY of the people were NOT witches. The “magic” they practiced in, to a certain extent, is now known as Medicine…you know, doctors and mid-wives. Therefore, weren’t the real victims doctors?
Let me repeat, I did NOT laugh at the fact thousands of innocent victims died. I laughed at his logic. He COULD have been right, but he didn’t present any kind of substantial evidence to back his statement. He just made a generalized comment and expected me to believe it, and agree when I KNEW better.

“The bitch, oh the bitch, the bitch is back…I’m a bitch cuz I’m better then you, it’s the way that I move
The things that I do…” Elton John
“People try to tell me thoughts they cannot defend…” The Moody Blues
“To start, press any key. Where’s the any key?” Homer Simpson.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Dr. Watson
“Society is like the air, necessary to breathe, but insufficient to live on.” – George Santayana

pepperlandgirl wrote:

In fact, they were Christians to a woman. You were right. There were no Wiccans, or pagans for that matter, persecuted in Salem.

TopazAntares wrote:

Probably they weren’t pagans, or even assumed to be pagans in the modern sense. They were assumed to be devil worshipers, whereas in fact they were worshipers of Jesus. Of course, pagans, if they existed at the time in the sense we understand the term – and it’s by no means certain that they did – would also likely have been written off as devil worshippers. But that doesn’t make everybody who is accused of devil worsip a pagan.

Cristi wrote:

Not unlike how when medical science fails to fix everything, people turn against it, and turn to herbalists who villify medical science as scapegoats for even the herbalists’ own failures.

But that’s a different subject. Ahem.

But the point is well taken that if you’re not allowed to blame God, then you’ll blame somebody else.

The old Pagan religons were wiped out long before the witch trials & burnings. Not that there possibly wasn’t some vestiges in some practice that was handed down from the old days. However, any Priestesses of Epona,et all, were long dead prior to the rennaisance.

RANT: This is one of the reasons I do not like the “wiccans” or “neopagans” calling themselves “witches”: they’re not. Witches were those who (supposedly) sold their soul to Satan in return for powers. Wiccans have nothing to do with Satan, at all, as Satan is a Christian thing. Oh, yes, I do know that “witch” does come from the root word “wicce”, but by the time(about Shakespear) it became “witch” it had changed meaning. So, wiccans are NOT witches, and DON’T practice witchcraft. END RANT

On the other hand, why the hell was your school doing a RELIGOUS play anyway?

Yes, they did.

You referred to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. If you remember the story, it starts with a servant named Tituba, telling stories about voodoo in her homeland. The girls were fascinated by this, and thus began the whole thing.

The girls making the accusations weren’t after money, so you can rule out greed. What they were after was attention. They were teenage girls, and this was their rebellion. They began accusing their neighbors of witchcraft. People believed them. Believed them to such an extent that several of the accused died. Why did they die? Because the people who tried them honestly believed that they were witches.

The trials had everything to do with witchcraft. That is why they are called the salem Witch trials. The people who died in Salem were most likely not witches as we think of them. However, the courts of the day honestly believed that they were. The courts of the day didn’t just say “Hey, I feel like torching some innocent women & children today. Who’s with me?”

One more important thing to remember–the people who died are the people who would not actually confess to witchcraft. That’s right. The ones who confessed were given a chance to absolve themselves, and go on with their lives. They confessed so that they would not be executed. The ones who were executed were believed to be so totally in the grip of Satan & his minions that there was no hope for them. So, they had to die.

Do you get it now? The persecuted people in Salem may not have actually been witches, but everyone believed they were. The Witchfinder Generals of Europe were looking for people believed to be witches. People thought that witches were for real, and actively sought to destroy them.

I think your friend assumed you’d understand because you started pulling out The Crucible on him. You’re obviously familiar with that book. But you quite obviously missed the fact that the people who were executed died because the law and the church actually believed that they were witches.

Cristi, Slayer of Peeps

I made my husband join a bridge club. He jumps next Tuesday.

(title & sig courtesy of UncleBeer and WallyM7!)

I am also curious as to the religious play during school.
When my kids school does something around winter break they do a group religious holiday type thing. They include Christmas, Chuanaka, Kwansa, and yes they even throw in Yule.
My children don’t feel uncomfortable watching or participating. My oldest gets to do the Yule part because we are openly Wiccan and she always gets asked.
The guy in your school would probably not have an easy time of convincing the school to do something for BelTaine or Sam Haine. Heck, my daughters teacher is Jewish, and she aprehensively hangs up Christmas stuff along with Chaunaka stuff.
As said before I celebrate Christian holidays for my husband and children, and I do Wiccan holidays for myself and the children. I even teach them things about the Jewish religion since it is part of their background.

Mistress Kricket

Are you stuck on stupid?

Hijack in progress:
How do you do this? I’m looking for nuts & bolts, how-do-you-do-it answers. See, I’m a pagan as well, but my husband is Christian, and we’ve got two kids, and I’m not quite sure how to go about getting started.

My kids have already been a little exposed to Judaism, since my mom’s SO is Jewish, and we celebrate the Jewish holidays with him. We’ve always celebrated the Christian holidays. I’m just having some trouble working in a third religion here.

Feel free to email me! Thanks!

end hijack

Cristi, Slayer of Peeps

I made my husband join a bridge club. He jumps next Tuesday.

(title & sig courtesy of UncleBeer and WallyM7!)

Here’s an interesting point to bring up to your friend. Point out to him that Wicca as a religion was started in the 1930s. I am not suggesting that you do this in a mean way, I personaly like Wicca, but I get very mad at folks who try to adopt a “great history” that dosent exist. The roots may go deeper, but the formal practice of Wicca is not very old.

Cristi, I understand what you are saying. My wife is Jewish, and I am a diest. We just celebrate everything, usualy in a secular way. Don’t know if that helps, but it works for us.

Cecil said it. I believe it. That settles it.

Relax, I’m not as Dave as I look!- A Wallified sig!

Hmmm, ok here’s my understanding of The Crucible.
The Girls started accusing women and men who had PROPERTY. Now you must remember, at the time people were right on the edge of the forrest, and any property in town or round about was eagerly sought after.
In the beginning, of course, they didn’t realize what they were doing. But their PARENTS did. The Crucible is not the only reference, do any research on the subject at all. Of course it was called the Salem WITCH trials, but none of them WERE witches. All the children had to do was point at them, and pretend, and that was it. 19 people died, but many were accused.
The fucking courts of the day? DON"T MAKE ME LAUGH!!! THe courts of the day was ruled by SUPERSTITION and FEAR!!! All the ‘evidence’ they needed was a 12 year old girl’s word. That was IT. And if you were accused of being a witch, you could be found innocent if you pointed your finger at someone else. SOMEBODY RANDOM!!! They didn’t care!
The 19 women who died were mainly old WIDOWS who had PROPERTY!!! that’s the greed factor.
Also, Wiccans are not witches. Or at least, not in the same way the accused witches were. Do Wiccans worship the Devil? It’s not even the same thing!
The Christian Easter show wasn’t school sponsered, they just had permission to do one at the quad at lunch time. Nobody had to participate or listen.

“The bitch, oh the bitch, the bitch is back…I’m a bitch cuz I’m better then you, it’s the way that I move
The things that I do…” Elton John
“People try to tell me thoughts they cannot defend…” The Moody Blues
“To start, press any key. Where’s the any key?” Homer Simpson.

Okay, little rebuttal time here:

One, I doubt the girls could have cared less about who had property in Salem. Cristi has it right, in my mind…they wanted attention, and to be admired. Perhaps they thought that being “witches” would gain them that admiration, or respect out of fear.

Two, in order to get property in those days, hell, just cut down the forest! Yes, landed people were more admired. However, gaining property was not that hard to do when there weren’t that many people around. I can’t see gaining property as a huge motive to kill 19 people. 18 of whom were women. Women half the time didn’t even OWN property, depending on the social customs of the area.

Three, I agree that some of the people killed may not have been witches. However, what were they killed for? Being witches. If someone wanted someone else killed, all that had to be said was that they were a witch, and that was that. I’m sure the people who were accused and confessed, therefore saving their lives, didn’t live happily either.

Quite honestly, do you think everyone the Nazis killed were Jewish? No. Has this the same as the Holocaust? IMO, no. But it was a sad period, nonetheless.

And finally: No, wiccans do not worship the Devil. Honestly, I doubt anyone who was executed for being a witch in the 1600s was either. It is the Christian church’s mindset to equate damn near anything that isn’t “Christian” as being worshipping the devil. Witchcraft and Wicca are different from Satanism. Always has been, and always will be. (NOTE: Cristi and Kricket, feel free to correct me on this…I’m looking into it, but am not Wiccan, so I may not have gotten everything right.)

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I will repeat again…the children didn’t care about property THEIR PARENTS DID! Also, it wasn’t as easy as cutting down the forest, the Puritans were scared to DEATH of the forest and the natives. If they could stay away from it, they were happy. Plus it was a lot easier to grow crops on land that already had been cleared and prepared.
Secondly the women who were killed were WIDOWS WITH LAND, a few were simply women who had nothing and were seen as vial creatures because they were not married.
Thirdly the women who did confess DID live happily ever after because they “welcomed Jesus into their lives” that’s all. The people didn’t have a problem with them once they found God.
Ok, so they were killed for being “witches”. However, I think that was only because they couldn’t find them guilty of anything else. They were scapegoats, and it’s easer to get the congregation behind “Killing Witches” then it would be for any other reason.
AND witches and wiccans are NOT THE SAME THING. The witches that were being burned were NOT WICCANS. It’s like the Christians claiming that because Christ was a Jew then Christians were persecuted in the Holocaust and not Jews. Does anybody else see how that makes no sense? It’s the SAME idea.
I go back to my OP…his logic was not sound and made no sense. I still do not think it’s a sound argument, and I have not seen any convincing evidence that Wiccans have been presecuted to the extent of Jews. I have not seen any evidence that WICCANS, not ‘witches’, have been persecuted period.

“The bitch, oh the bitch, the bitch is back…I’m a bitch cuz I’m better then you, it’s the way that I move
The things that I do…” Elton John
“People try to tell me thoughts they cannot defend…” The Moody Blues
“To start, press any key. Where’s the any key?” Homer Simpson.

Ok, I’m going to try to prove my point in a different way.
The defintion of the witches that were killed and burned “Wives of Satan”
The Defintion of Wiccans: I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with being the bride of Satan.
Let’s look at it another way. Let’s say the Emperor of Country X is burning all Christians! The rest of the Christians gets wind of this, and is mad as HELL. So we all go in to stop them on the principal of our religion. When we get there we realize that the Christians (While sharing the same name) have a different defintion that has nothing to do with Christ. I man named Chris once came and told everybody to eat only rice and drink white wine (I dont’ know, I’m making this up) So, we still stop the killings on the principal of HUman Life, but we don’t get upset on the principal of persecution. You see?
Witches and Wiccans may have a similar name but are completely different. Therefore Wiccans can not claim they’ve been persecuted for hundreds of years and even BEGIN to compare themselves to Jews.

“The bitch, oh the bitch, the bitch is back…I’m a bitch cuz I’m better then you, it’s the way that I move
The things that I do…” Elton John
“People try to tell me thoughts they cannot defend…” The Moody Blues
“To start, press any key. Where’s the any key?” Homer Simpson.

Pepperlandgirl, I stated in my very first post that Wiccans and the persecuted people of yore were not the same. Wicca is very recent. It has some principles that are derived from ancient pagan practices, but no, the are not the same. Religions change over the years. IIRC, you are LDS, correct? Wicca is newer than LDS, to give you an idea of how recent Wicca is.

Being LDS, you should also know something about persecution. Again, IIRC, you stated in another thread about how much you positively hated people trashing your religion. So just relax, and listen to what has been said to you.

The Salem Witch Trials had nothing to do with gaining property, greed, or any of that. It was a desperate attempt, by teenage girls with overactive imaginations, to get attention. That’s it. No one was persecuted for their property. The people persecuted by and large were not wealthy landowners. One of the first people accused in Salem was Tituba, the servant who first told the girls about the voodoo practices of her homeland.

The girls’ parents didn’t have jack to do with anything, either. The parents simply watched in horror as their daughters were “bewitched.” The parents stood to gain nothing whatsoever from the persecution. They got no property from those people. Nothing. All they got was the satisfaction of seeing the people who were “bewitching” their children put to death.

Um, I’ve already said as much. Many times. The part you left out, though, is the fact that the courts did try to prove witchcraft. The looked for things like familiars, consorts, devil’s marks, and all around odd happenings. If the accused denied it, and never got up off of that denial, they were executed. I’ll say this one more time–I never said that anyone in Salem was actually a witch. In fact, I firmly believe that they were not.

What your friend in school, though, is having a problem with is the fact that witches have been persecuted. Always. Real witches, pagans, and people who were fine, upstanding Christians were persecuted, for witchcraft. Modern-day Wiccans accept the persecution as part of their history, because it is. Witches/Wiccans/Pagans/non-mainstream-One-Male-God believing people get persecuted. They don’t burn us at the stake anymore, but we are looked upon with fear and suspicion. Yeha, we. I’m a Pagan.

As for Satan, we don’t believe in him. We do not believe in Evil as a separate, controlling being. People have good and bad in them. It is up to us to make sure the bad doesn’t rule. As for Hell, I personally do not believe in it. I believe that is you are evil, when you die, that’s it. Lights out. Worm food. Your body dies, and so does your soul. That’s my personal belief, anyway.

Cristi, Slayer of Peeps

I made my husband join a bridge club. He jumps next Tuesday.

(title & sig courtesy of UncleBeer and WallyM7!)

I understand about persecution between religions. And I don’t have anything against Wiccans. However, this year I had two courses, Honor English and Honor History, and both clearly taught that the Salem Witch Trials were about scapegoating and greed, and I stand by that as well. I have seen more convincing evidence supporting that claim then any other claim. But I think it’s fair to say that since nobody was there and descriptions are shaky at best, everything is an interpertation.
I can accept that witches/wiccans are persecuted and not trusted right now. I am not convinced however that Wiccans can claim to be persecuted for hundreds of years and have a “great history”. Like someone else said, it simply doesn’t exist.
So Cristi, while I see where you are coming from, I think the point is too general, and my friend cannot claim that Wiccans have been persecuted for hundreds of years. Because “witches” that have been burned at the stake are not related to the wicca religion in any way.

“The bitch, oh the bitch, the bitch is back…I’m a bitch cuz I’m better then you, it’s the way that I move
The things that I do…” Elton John
“People try to tell me thoughts they cannot defend…” The Moody Blues
“To start, press any key. Where’s the any key?” Homer Simpson.

Scapegoating, yes. Greed, well, that’s a little shaky. As for the descriptions being shaky, they are not. The Crucible, for example, is actually pretty accurate. It takes artistic license with the dialogue, of course, but the events depicted are taken from historical record. The Puritans were pretty good record keepers.

Something occurred to me while I was offline, getting my kids to bed. I saw a show on the History Channel recently, I want to say History’s Lost and Found, but don’t quote me on that one. A complete confession from one of the accusers was found recently, in a library in Massachussetts. I cannot remember the name of the girl (Anne?), but she pretty much said “Yeah, we made it up. For sport.” I’ll have to look it up. Give me a little time on that one.

Wiccans cannot, and do not, claim to have been persecuted for hundreds of years. The religion is less than one hundred years old. The religions that Wicca derives itself from, however, have been persecuted.

Allow me to make a comparison, if I may. LDS is a new religion. However, it has its roots in a very ancient religion, Christianity, which has its roots in something even more ancient, Judaism. Wicca follows a similar pattern. It has roots in ancient pagan tradition. It has changed over the years, as most religions do. Very few religions today resemble what they were when they were first begun. Just because they change, though, is not a reason to deny the history and the roots. That’s like me saying that you’re not Christian, because your religion isn’t the same as the one that was practiced 2000 years ago. If I were to look you in the eye and tell you that you’re not a Christian, you would no doubt be mortally offended. You would be fully justified in bitch-slapping me until I bled from the ears, IMHO.

I think I’ve said this in every post I’ve made in this thread. I think I said it earlier in this post. So let’s agree to agree on this particular point, okay? :slight_smile:

Cristi, Slayer of Peeps

I made my husband join a bridge club. He jumps next Tuesday.

(title & sig courtesy of UncleBeer and WallyM7!)

For your reading pleasure, transcripts of the Salem trials. :slight_smile: Not shaky descriptions.

Still working on that confession from one of the Salem accusers. I was right about it being on History’s Lost and Found, though. It was Episode #17, according to HistoryChannel.com.

Cristi, Slayer of Peeps

I made my husband join a bridge club. He jumps next Tuesday.

(title & sig courtesy of UncleBeer and WallyM7!)