As I mentioned before, I’m working my way through Roderick’s Wicca: A Year and a Day. Days 2 and 3 go together and deal with exploring words. The “hot button” kind of words, like “Wicca”, “Witchcraft”, “Pagan”, “Magic” and so on. The exercises for those days deal with confronting our understanding of and feelings toward these words. He asks that you choose one emotionally charged word that captures your “theme” regarding these words, inscribe it on a candle, and reflect on transforming the feelings you have towards this word/concept. You should “vow to remain aware of your feelings during your learning” period. As the word melts away with the candle, you should imagine your feelings/concepts toward it changing as well.
The word I ended up choosing was “stereotype” because I think that is the one aspect of my faith that I’ve never wanted to confront or embrace.
On the one hand, stereotypes are often negative or focus on the flamboyant/ostentatious members in groups. And these members rarely are the majority. But stereotypes aren’t always negative, sometimes they are positive or (more likely) neutral; for example the stereotype that “all Lutherans like Jell-o” isn’t really positive or negative. Stereotypes can help us, psychologically speaking, understand, classify and approach other groups.
I have a lot of negative feelings attached to the stereotypes surrounding Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism. On some level I want to embrace them. I want to be the person who says “yeah, I’m unorthodox; yeah, I’m different; yeah, I think ‘strangely’ according to society; so what?” Sometimes I really want to be that person. Sometimes I kind of hate that person – those are the “crazy” people that the media latches onto and portrays for the world to see – I sometimes wonder if they realize the trouble they cause for the rest of the community.
As this year and a day progresses, I’ll be sure to tackle my issues with the stereotypes that surround Wicca and Paganism.