IS IT A CULT?

I've received a LOT of e-mails from those of you who are seeking more information about Wicca. My best suggestion is to check out local websites on the subject and visit a few pagan/Wiccan bookstores or supply shoppes. Many Wiccans believe (and I am one of them), that when you are meant to find a teacher, you will meet. In the meantime, start reading some books and educating yourself. Be sure that Wicca is a life you want to lead. It's certainly not a cult, but, as any true form of spirituality, it does affect every part of your life.

Comments on "Satanism:" Wiccans are not satanists. To believe or worship in "Satan," one would have to have some basic Christian beliefs, and I am not a Christian (not that there's anything wrong with that). ;) Unfortunately (in my opinion, anyway), "Satanists" are often grouped in the pagan category with Wiccans. I have indeed taken the time to look into the beliefs of "Satanists." What I've read says that Satanists do not "believe or worship Satan," in the Christian sense. Rather, they believe that "Satan" is actually the part of humanity that is focused on the parts of self that are selfish, angry and can include infliction of pain. They have a rather negative view of anyone who is not a satanist, calling them "sheep," especially women/feminists. Their belief is that if one is not willing to use every personal resource available to make people and things just the way they'd like them (without regard to the well-being of anyone or anything else, nor karmic reciprocation) through manipulation of some form, that they are not "strong enough," or do not want to recognize/use their own potential. It gets a lot more political than that, but there's the basis. If you are interested in this form of "religion," first, I suggest you talk to a friend AND a therapist to work out your issues. If that doesn't work, then I'm sorry--you will not find a resource on this site (I take no responsibility for links to links on any webrings on this site). This is pretty much the only form of "religion" to which I have ethical objections. Call me a sheep. I'm a happy, loving sheep. :)

Just so you don't get hooked up with the wrong people, I've included this handy little chart below. Please consider these issues before you become involved in any group touting spirituality:

CULT DANGER EVALUATION FRAME:* Please read the items below carefully and rate the specific group you're interested in from 1 (low amount) to 10 (high amount).

1. INTERNAL CONTROL: amount of internal political power exercised by leader/s over members. _________

2. WISDOM CLAIMED by leader/s; amount of infallibility declared about decisions. _________

3. WISDOM CREDITED to leader/s by members; amount of trust in decisions made by leaders. _________

4. DOGMA, rigidity of reality concepts taught; amount of doctrinal inflexi- bility. _________

5. RECRUITING, emphasis put on attracting new members; amount of proselytizing. _________

6. FRONT GROUPS, number of subsidiary groups using different names from that of the same group. _________

7. WEALTH, amount of money and/or property desired or obtained; emphasis on members' donations. _________

8. POLITICAL POWER, amount of external political influence desired or obtained. _________

9. SEXUAL MANIPULATION of members by leader/s; amount of control over sex lives of members. _________

10. CENSORSHIP, amount of control over members' access to outside opinions on group, its doctrines or leader/s. _________

11. DROPOUT CONTROL, intensity of efforts directed at preventing or returning dropouts. _________

12. ENDORSEMENT OF VIOLENCE when used by or for the group or its leader/s. _________

13. PARANOIA, amount of fear concerning real or imagined enemies, perceived power of opponents. _________

14. GRIMNESS, amount of disapproval concerning jokes about the group, its doctrines or its leader/s. _________

Quite frankly, if you find that any group you seek out (or that seeks you out) has anything but a low score according to this evaluation frame, stay away from it. As a general rule, the higher the numerical score of a given group, the more likely it is to be dangerous. Some Wiccan/Pagan groups have a lot of structure, formal training, and a fair amount of hierarchy. A few groups may even have fairly charismatic leaders. Others will be leaderless, anarchistic and make their decisions by consensus. But NO form of spirituality should ever censor your sources of information, control your life, decide on your friends, insist on sexual favors or behaviors, demand exorbitant amounts of money, or try to prevent you from leaving. Thankfully, most pagan/Wiccan groups believe that you are the mistress of your fate, and that the only "real" initiation (and power and knowledge) comes from within. As is written in one form of the Charge of the Goddess: "for that which you cannot find within, you will never find outside yourself."

I hope this information is helpful.

Bright Blessings! -Inanna

*"Cult Danger Evaluation Frame" by Isaac Bonewits in Real Magic. He notes that while many of the scales in the frame are subjective, the evaluation frame is founded on modern ideas of humanistic psychology concerning the nature of mental health and personal growth, as well as being based on Bonewits' own experience.

This information is largely adapted from "Drawing Down the Moon," by Margot Adler. This book is an excellent resource for anyone considering a pagan form of spirituality. I highly recommend that you read it. :)

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