Somewhere along the line it seems to me that a trend has crept into modern Paganism, and into Wicca in particular, that advocates political correctness in lieu of critical thinking. I?m not talking about being rude, or bashing someone personally, or creating drama for the sake of drama. What I am talking about is the attitude that one cannot be a real, true Pagan and speak up when we see things which are inaccurate, misunderstood, or (gasp!) just plain wrong no matter how politely we may phrase our responses.
How often do we hear the phrase ?Wicca is anything you want it to be. How many times have you seen people taken to task for challenging an incorrect fact and told that facts don?t matter as much as feelings? How many times have you seen a comment that disagreed with an on-line post or a discussion in real life assumed to be ?bashing? because the responder didn?t sit their nodding their head like one of those bobble-head dolls? How often has someone been accused of starting a Witch War because they?ve pointed out that the actions and claims of some in the community might be harmful to others. And I?ve lost track of the number of times I?ve been called elitist because I cannot go down the path of make believe simply because someone else does.
In ?The Heart of Wicca? by Ellen Cannon Reed she states that Wiccans need to be willing to reclaim the ?W? word, and by that she meant the word ?wrong?. I could not agree with her more. We need to stop checking our brains at the door. We need to learn to verify facts, verify claims and credentials, and stop thinking that anything is true just because someone believes it is. And when we see something that is not correct we need to have the fortitude to stand up and say so?politely, calmly, intelligently?but firmly.
Wicca is not anything we want it to be. It is a specific spiritual path which specific beliefs and practices which must be present in order for it to be Wicca and not something else. Saying it is anything you want it to be opens the doors for many different things. By saying it is anything you want it to be you could be saying that it's OK to do animal sacrifice as part of Wicca, because that?s what the person believes Wicca is all about. Someone who molests children in ritual as part of their Wiccan practice could not be told they are wrong if Wicca is anything they want it to be. The whole idea of anything goes quickly gets out of hand. And saying, ?But that?s not what I meant!? sill does not work. Somewhere there are limits before what one does is no longer Wicca.
Personal gnosis and belief is fine, but it does not trump facts. I could say that it has been revealed to me that gravity doesn?t work and I?m entitled to that belief. That doesn?t mean that the natural laws are going to change just because I don?t believe in them. The same goes for historical fact. I may believe that the Burning Times were a war against the women in which 9 million women died. Lots of people do thanks to some less than stellar books. But the historical evidence does not support that idea and the myth that is so dearly held by a lot of people damages what we are trying to do now. I think when we are presented with statements about factual events we are obligated to do our own research to see if those statements are true or false and not just accept them as being accurate.
The same need for critical thinking is there when one is looking at members of the community, and especially when one is thinking of approaching someone for teaching. Do they really have the knowledge and training they are claiming? Is their behavior ethical? People can say whatever they want, it?s up to us to make sure that what they say is the truth. And then I believe we have an obligation to speak up and expose the frauds before they can damage the community. It?s not starting a Witch War if you know that someone is not truthful or that uses unethical practices with their students. It?s protecting the student, the community, and the reputation of all of us who follow that spiritual path. The predators are out there. Who better to police them than those of us who are vitally interested in the welfare of the community?
And when we come across something which is wrong we need to be willing to say so. We need to be able to communicate our concern and why the instance is incorrect, backing it with facts whenever facts are needed. But we absolutely, positively have to get over the idea that being nice and having our minds so open that our brains fall out and roll around on the floor is the only way to be Wiccan or Pagan. The Gods gave us brains and meant for us to use them. That?s why it?s called the Craft of the Wise, not the Craft of the Nice.