In my two previous subject blogs I discussed the ever-changing and subjective definition of cults, and how the perception of cults can represent an ideology different from what the religion actually practice.
Wicca (also occasionally known as Pagan Witchcraft) is a neo-pagan religious movement, first publicly introduced in 1954 by Gerald Gardner, the founder of the Gardnerian Wiccan-cult tradition. Interest in the tradition rose in the 1960’s and 1970’s, possibly influenced by the feminist movements during those times, coinciding with the goddess-worship this religion provided (Coleman, 2005). With the development of the internet, the Wiccan tradition experienced another influx of members, and began to diversify under devotion to different deities. The diversification of these traditions could also be attributed to the fact that many Wiccan and Neo-Pagan cults draw from other cultures, such as Scandinavian and Egyptian traditions, and Celtic mythology (Pike, 2004).
Wiccan traditions mostly represent non-harming, practicing the Three-Fold Law, in which any positive or negatives a Wiccan or Neo-Pagan might do, it will “come back to them threefold” and should generally try not to cause harm to others, so they will not cause harm unto themselves (Harwood, 2007). While this is a general rule, there are some Wiccan traditions that have other beliefs. This WordPress blog encourages current and ex-members of the Alexandrian Witchcraft Cult to speak out about their psychologically scarring experiences and find confidence and help among others.
It has recently been brought up by counselors that marginalized minority religions can be especially subject to stigma and judgment, simply for being the “Black Sheep” among majority organized religions. Wiccan and Neo-Pagan cult traditions are no different, as the idea of a Pagan religion seems to raise a harmful bias in people, believed to be associated with Satan-worship and black magic, which are absolutely unrelated to the Wiccan tradition.
Moe and Colleagues paper is particularly concerned with the assumptions that counselors might impose upon their Wiccan clients (Moe et all., 2013). “Wiccan and Neo-Pagans may come to counselling due to stress, anxiety and depressive feelings related to the cognitive dissonance that members of marginalized groups cope with on a daily basis” (Moe et all., 2013). These members might also feel the stress of dealing with internal conflicts, such as new initiates coming to terms with their new identities and accepting the new terms of their religion (Salazar & Abrams, 2005). It has been by suggested by Moe and Colleagues that counselors with Wiccan or Neo-Pagan clients keep an open mind and their biases to the clients beliefs in check, and to better foster these individuals practices by including ” referrals to local Wiccan and Neo-Pagan groups” (Moe et all., 2013).
In conclusion, the preconceived notions and judgment passed onto passive neo-cults from civilian non-members and counselors alike could psychologically harm cult members, and it’s always better to further investigate before passing a judgment onto these people.
Thanks for reading! 🙂
Coleman, K. (2005). Why” God” as” She” Provokes us: Semiotically Speaking: The Significance of the Divine Feminine. Pomegranate, 7(2).
Harwood, B. J. (2007). Beyond Poetry and Magick: The Core Elements of Wiccan Morality 1. Journal of Contemporary Religion, 22(3), 375-390.
Moe, J. L., Cates, K., & Sepulveda, V. (2013). Wicca and Neo-Paganism: A Primer for Counselors. Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research, 40(1), 38.
Pike, S. M. (2004). New age and neopagan religions in America. Columbia University Press.
Salazar, C. F., & Abrams, L. P. (2005). Conceptualizing identity development in members of marginalized groups. Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research, 33(1), 47.