Saturday, April 11, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Don't be a Privileged Wiccan

Wiccan privilege-- have you heard of it? It's kind of a new buzz phrase going around the Pagan community. 

The term pretty much came up to refer to how Wicca seems to dominate the Pagan community as the norm. It's been compared to the way Christian privilege or white privilege is pervasive in our society. Everyone thinks Wicca sets some kind of standard. Open Pagan rituals follow Wiccan ritual structure. It's hard to find a good Witchcraft book that doesn't cater to Wiccans. The whole thing is upsetting to some Pagans in the community, who are tired of being confused with Wiccans. 

On a practical level, it's understandable; it only makes sense that the largest and most influential eclectic Pagan religion would be the biggest field for common ground. With so many small and individualized Pagan religions it would be impossible to appeal to such a large, diverse community all at once. Many non-Wiccan Pagans do actually draw heavily from Wicca, using similar tools, ritual structure, even adhering to the Wheel of the Year. Authors trying to appeal to the broadest audience possible tend to dwell on that familiar common ground where many beliefs overlap. No one is deliberately trying to marginalize those Pagans who identify less with Wicca; it's just that they are such a minority within a minority group, some even following an individualized path of one, that it becomes impossible to be entirely 'politically correct'.

Still, this Wiccan privilege issue  is enough to make a lot of Pagans cringe at the word "Wicca". It's fostered some resentment towards Wiccans in general. 

In the spirit of respect for individual spiritual identity and our differences, we as Wiccans need to be more aware of Wiccan privilege and have to try not to assume. 

My Tip for You Today: Try not to act like a privileged Wiccan with the greater Pagan community.

I've seen some Wiccans (particularly the new ones) lecture trad Witches or hereditary Witches that they're violating the Wiccan Rede. I've heard of Wiccans showing up at reconstructionist rituals who had the nerve to tell the ritual hosts they're doing it 'wrong'. I've seen some Wiccans speak for all of Pagandom by saying "We believe in the Horned God and the Triple Goddess, and you do comes back threefold." 

We can't help that we are the majority or the most visible, and we can't help that people who don't know much about Paganism might confuse it with Wicca. We can't help that someone on a less popular path might have a hard time finding books that appeal to them, or that people who run open gatherings decide that sticking fairly close to Wiccan standards would be appropriate for their community. 

But we can remember that Wiccan beliefs and practices apply to Wiccans, but not necessarily all Pagans. We can remember not to tell other Pagans that they're wrong or bad or mistaken if they don't follow that Wiccan standard. We can remember to not assume someone is celebrating our holidays or following the Rede. We can remember not to speak for the entire Pagan community with blanket statements, thereby adding to the confusion. 

As a community we need to be sensitive to that. I think we can agree that every path (including and excluding Wicca) is a valuable addition to our community. While we can't change that Wicca is the visible majority, we all know what it feels like to be in the invisible minority. Let's try to be respectful. 

Have you been applying the Wiccan standard to the Pagan community?

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