Anyone who is a practicing occultist/magician/pagan has had this conversation: The concerned friend or family member who takes you aside to share with you their knowledge of the occult, which usually consists of a couple of books on feminist Wicca revisionist history written by feminists, or archeologists whose ideas don’t agree with the majority of archeologists. Barbara G. Walker anyone? At the end of the conversation, if you were polite and didn’t start arguing, they remind you not to “mess with” or “dabble” in the dark arts and that everything you do will come back on you times three (or ten, or whatever). Nevermind that you’re the one who has been practicing and studying various magickal schools of thought, symbolism, spirituality, religion, etc… since 1984. I know – I look young, it’s no wonder I’m taken for some fresh-faced virgin farm girl. It’s a curse sometimes because people often mistake my young looks for me being naïve. Trust me, I’m NOT the person you want to underestimate like that.
Of course I probably exacerbate the whole naïve thing because the second someone starts telling me what I don’t know, about a subject I’ve devoted my entire life to, I immediately go into reporter mode by playing dumb and asking questions as if it’s the first time I’ve ever heard of such a thing.
I know I shouldn’t do this because it’s dishonest and manipulative, but you have to understand that my background is in journalism, and asking questions is one of the best ways to learn about people, and to have them give you information about THEMSELVES. Sometimes they even give away information they shouldn’t. It goes beyond that, though. I play dumb for several reasons:
- You really can learn things you didn’t know. Especially if you run across the right person who may have a particular area of expertise where your knowledge lacks. Or they may come up with something you hadn’t considered and you may find their perspective intriguing. I am open to learning new things.
- This is how I find out how much a person really knows, what they’re reading, and where they’re getting their information.
- It’s also how I decide whether or not I’m going to smile and politely nod, or whether I want to engage in a discussion that may include my disagreement with their sources or beliefs.
When it comes to magick topics, usually the only time I get #1 is when I’m hanging out with other occultists who are far more book smart than I am. I possess, at most, an advanced knowledge (not expert by any means) on spiritual mythology and history with sketchy recall. It’s not my strongest suit, but I’m not completely ignorant of it either and I tend to know more than the average person. I am very well-read on the subjects of magick, and occult symbolism, and even more well-practiced. So while my history/mythology may lack, my knowledge in the areas of magick and even Demonology are pretty damn good. And no, I don’t know the detailed history of EVERY god/spirit/divine intelligence turned into a devil by Christianity, but then I can look it up if necessary. Not to mention I’ve discovered through practice that some of that is not always accurate anyway.
That said, I have had the, “You really don’t know what you’re doing because it’s not revisionist feminist Wicca” conversation at least 5-6 times with various friends/family over the years. Most of the time I don’t feel a need to justify or explain my practices to people who already think they know more about the these things by having read a few books, than I know from over 34 years of study and actual practice. So, because I value our relationship, I generally just play dumb, let them give me reading recommendations, smile and nod and thank them for their concern – and ultimately continue doing what I’m doing. Were I in my 20’s or 30’s, I might have started a debate, but I’ve learned over the years that oftentimes the time it would take to educate certain folks to a level where we could have an informed and intelligent dialogue would take entirely too long and I’d rather spend my time on other things.
Now to get it all out of my system since I chose to keep my mouth shut…..
A pentacle and pentagram are the same damn thing (technically speaking). Generally a pentacle is circled, whereas a pentagram isn’t. I think we’re just mincing sematics on that one. But yes, pentacle does tend to be the preferred term. The right side up pentacle represents the five elements – Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit (Akasha/Atem etc…). The inverse pentacle is symbolic of man in control of the elements. Put them together and you have the 10 Sephiroth in the Tree of Life. It’s not a symbol of The goddess. It may be used in certain groups or traditions as such, but generally it’s a magickal symbol that, right side up is about the divine’s relationship to the elements, and inverse it symbolizes man’s relationship to the elements of creation, and the divine. There’s no deity gender involved.
While admittedly many ancient cultures placed their goddesses right alongside their gods, and females may not have been as oppressed as they have been by 2000+ years of patriarchal religions, our ancestors were NOT all peace loving, vegetarian, goddess-ONLY worshipping pagans. Paganism venerated BOTH masculine AND feminine deities, and we have evidence of that to this day (look at ANY ancient pantheon, you’ll find masculine deities and feminine deities – as well as androgynous deities). Ancient people understood there was a balance to nature and both physical genders were relevant and necessary to species survival.
Even pre-1980’s Wicca got that shit right. Also, the Wiccan Rede DOES allow for cursing in self-defense. Please read it again. And did I mention that our ancestors from ancient Sumeria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, etc….. — all knew how to curse a bitch? We have archeological proof of this. Our ancestors cursed a lot of people. You can find execration rites in every culture across the globe. Just pointing that out. The whole “harm none” thing or it will come back x 3 is a relatively new concept comparatively.
So. Much. More. But those were some of the main points I had to get off my chest from that conversation. And now back to my regularly scheduled programming….
I really do love my friends and family… and they mean well, but sometimes they drive me nuts – and should stay out of my business, especially when they’ve only read a few books and I’ve got three decades of experience and have read hundreds of books (if not a thousand +) on the topic.