This is a response to an article that I read, titled “’Mysticore’ is the New Norm: Inside the trend that’s casting its spell over the culture”. This article was shared within a group that I belong to on Facebook, consisting of Wiccans, Pagans, Traditional Witches, and other rad folks.
First, go read the article.
Then sit down for a little story.
When I was in fifth grade, we were instructed to write a paper on the invention of something. One student chose refrigerators, another student chose cars, and I honestly don’t know what the other students chose. I was much too involved in my own research (in the library with books, but also using the internet – this was the year 2000!) to notice what my classmates were doing. My invention of choice was the construct of modern religion, and my research led me back to Paganism. It made sense, I continued the research, and even though I hesitate to define exactly “what” I am now, simply saying “Pagan” is the easiest way to explain.
And though as an adult, becoming a part of Pagan societies and groups gave me community, identity, my closest friends, and my husband, as a child and adolescent I received other things from this label. Namely ridicule and a shit ton of bullying behavior from my peers. It was obvious and loud, and I cried almost daily because they just didn’t stop. Girlfriends in middle school tried to talk me out of my “ways” and told me that God didn’t want me reading what I was reading, and that I needed to stop. Apparently, they were praying that I would change my ways.
Teachers, school counselors, and bus drivers heard the names I was called and the mean things that were said to me, and did nothing. My mother, in her desperation to have something done about the bullying, scheduled a meeting with my middle school principal, at which he asked me if I thought the boys were just teasing me because they “liked” me. To which I responded a hearty NO. But of course, nothing was done to help me, because I was an awkward and nerdy preteen, and in the scheme of a power battle, sporty and stereotypical groups of adolescent boys had the upper hand. It would have been more work to call their parents and explain why their kids were assholes, as opposed to just minimizing my turmoil.
Push it down further. Don’t complain. Keep your head down and stop reading those books.
Sometimes, I want to go back and find all of those teachers and educational professionals, and give them a big FUCK YOU because they saw it all and did nothing, and thank goodness I was strong enough to not give up.
When I read the article, my feelings were mixed. But the more I think, the more I rage. I want acceptance for all people, but I don’t want to cheapen witchcraft or Paganism. It’s not a subscription box in the mail, it’s not a how-to, it’s not a trend. I think people are longing to make sense of the world around them, and perhaps a path similar to mine might be the right call for them.
But part of me also says that unless you struggled to be validated by the world outside of what is trendy, then you have no business touching anything in this realm.
I feel frustrated when people that told me I was wrong for reading about candle spells or hexing now identify in their social media profiles as a witch.
It made me sad when I couldn’t tell people at my teaching job how I met my husband (Pagan student group, yo!) for fear of social blowback, but they are now able to talk about crystals, healing, or plant based medicine without the same concern.
I want people to have the things they need to be healthy and productive people. But I also want them to do their research and respect what they are touching. And perhaps the respect is there, and I just don’t see it.
Thoughts from the group? Mine aren’t fluid or eloquent right now, but I certainly have them.