There’s a lot out there when it comes to information on the occult and the massive diversity of culture and belief within it. Until you really dial down where those ideas originate, you end up slogging through a universe of concepts, many of which hold opposite and opposing truths. Witchcraft and whether it’s a religion or a folk practice is enough to start a fight, and that’s before someone comes streaking through the Eurocentric ballroom screaming “colonizer!” at the top of their lungs, leaving the vaguest impression of a bare butt and how in the hell someone can run that fast in Birkenstocks.
Witchcraft is not a monolith. People believe different things. Ascension magick, European centered Paganism, indigenous cultures, the big five world religions - none of them are monolithic in beliefs and practices.
What does monolithic mean? Monolithic means it is all the same. The way people practice beliefs - within religions, beliefs, and cultures - is not all the same.
Some people separate from a belief and culture cluster because of life experience. Others do it to take advantage of people, because of the vague, inconcrete and yet overwhelming nature of spirituality.
When you’re new to this, you’re often new to accepting that the “woo” might have something real to it. Perhaps it appeals to your imagination, or maybe you had an experience forcing you to reconsider what’s real and what’s not. Because these beliefs and practices are not monolithic, it makes it that much more difficult to figure out what’s baloney, and what’s just a particular flavor or approach until you’ve been at the spiritual thing for a very, very long time.
Right now, a big example is a certain new age group promoting unhealthy ideas about twin flames.
I have also set up a book list for folks that prefer to read, both towards sidestepping high control groups and getting around the ever-dangerous confirmation bias we are all prone to. I am recommending some admittedly dated material that gives an overview on Paganism. New books of collective interviews appear every decade or so, and it’s always worth reading them to get a sense how the overall zeitgeist has changed. These days it also helps to know where the exact lines of division are, especially since most of them are along the lines of ancestral tradition versus cultural purity and older generations versus younger generations.
That we are more moved to venerate our ancestors and yet we are more at odds with those born in different eras than ever before says much about a significant disconnect, one for our next talk: the needs of the individual versus the needs of the community.
For now, as you set out upon your path, let’s take steps to keep you safe. Buildup your baloney meter, and practice your gracious exit plans (I forgot to feed my cat, grandma, the demon moping behind my refrigerator!) Balancing the woo versus the …”what?” is a fundamental skill in navigating the wide world of witchcraft, so why not start developing that skill now?
Want to join our Island of Misfit toys? Come hang out with us in our Facebook group Under the Golden Apple Tree. Ask questions, share what you’ve learned, have folks group fact-check and have a good time!
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