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I've noticed a certain upswing in anti-pagan sentiment lately, which is largely understandable when viewed from the other side of the religious divide. It's completely ridiculous of course, don't get me wrong, but in light of various societal trends and, especially, propagandist fear-mongering, it's not all that surprising.

Neo-paganism has never been all that visible. In general we prefer to keep to ourselves, we practice in far away places, under the cover of darkness, and we don't speak openly with those we don't trust. This is understandable, rational and perfectly acceptable. Our personal spiritual practice is our own business, no one needs to know what we're doing when we wander off into the forest under the light of a full moon, but it isn't hard to figure out why people find it a bit strange.

It breeds a certain amount of suspicion, especially from those who subscribe to the notion that they should 'never suffer a witch to live', even if they don't openly accept this notion. And it doesn't really matter if it was a mistranslation from 'poisoner' to 'witch', the idea has been ingrained after thousands of years of repetition and isn't going anywhere any time soon.

The issue comes from the fact that some forms of 'witchcraft' are becoming more visible, and I use the word 'witchcraft' only loosely and in quotes for a reason. What I'm really talking about is Satanism or Luciferianism, neither of which have anything to do with Neo-Paganism, but few people realize this and they inevitably end up making the mistake of lumping us together in the same cauldron.

Just as a personal note so you understand me, I don't like Satanism. I find it dehumanizing and immoral. It's antithetical to human nature and, therefore, abhorrent. A belief system I cannot condone, the only spiritual belief system I will, under no circumstances, support.

Satanism is gradually gaining ground these days and, unlike we Wiccans, they are very vocal about their presence and desires. To your average Christian there's no difference between a Wiccan and a Satanist. As an example, a few weeks ago I was listening to talk radio, to one of my favorite programs, and the guest was a Catholic exorcist. He said at one point in the interview there is no such thing as White Magick, it's all evil in his mind. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who hold this same mindset.

Is this mindset going to change? No, not any time soon, not unless we Wiccans come out of the forests and show ourselves, and that isn't likely to happen anytime soon. Which is fine. Part of our reluctance to identify ourselves comes from a sense of self preservation, having been persecuted for thousands of years will instill a healthy amount of secrecy in people. But at the same time, it just isn't worth it to trouble ourselves about things we can't change.

There are stupid people out there, lots of them, and it isn't our job to argue with them, it just isn't going to do anything. Think of the old, green hag which is so ubiquitous around Halloween, the one riding the broomstick across the disk of the moon, all covered in warts. It's nothing to get worked up about, most Wiccans don't even have an issue with the image of the hag, some embrace it, because we know it doesn't represent us. And most other people realize this too.

It's only the people who don't have two brain cells to rub together who would associate modern practitioners of Neo-Paganism with such a grotesque caricature as the green hag. They've always existed and always will, it's just that, at the moment, they seem to be multiplying.

Of course, we have to take some of the blame. We are secretive, we keep to ourselves and hide our practices from the great mass of humanity. This breeds suspicion and fear, and when people fear something they react by hating and ostracizing it. They're confused, ignorant and without much hope, you know, common, average, every day human beings.

I, Patrick, Wiccan

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