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Note: This is a response to the evangelical Christian quasi-classic "A Letter to Witches." The following will be much clearer if you read the original first--do so here or there. This letter, "written to teenage witches", is a regular fixture in fundamentalist cyberspace, and has cropped up on Pagan BBS's, mailing lists, and newsgroups. I shrugged it off...until my uncle, who once gave me Bob Larson's New Book of Cults in all seriousness and who is, if possible, even more web-addicted than me, printed it out and mailed it to me with a post-it saying "THIS IS SERIOUS!" Yes, I think it is, too. It is also wrong. My boyfriend, a Wiccan who shuns the computer, is quite familiar with this letter. That clinched it. I thought a rebuttal would be necessary--cyberMuslims saw fit to correct his work on Islam, after all. Nobody else was doing this, except for a wonderfully suppotive atheist. A supporter of his has put up a Webpage, and this supporter has an e-mail address. If you are a pissed-off Pagan and want to e-mail this person, don't affirm Morey's ideas!!!! Be civil and remember our Threefold Law. Nobody can take that away from us.
I have read and re-read, considered and re-considered, this letter to Witches. Every time, it rings completely false. I understand that Christians are mandated to spread their Gospel, and understand further that Witchcraft is very different from Christianity. Unlike Dr. Morey, I can't claim to have "studied the occult for thirty years"; I've only lived for twenty-four. I have been a Pagan, first a Wiccan and now a Vodoun-practicing Witch, for two years and going. Yet the bit I know about living as a Pagan, a Witch, and a practitioner of magick doesn't jibe with Morey's pathetic portrait of the Craft.
First of all, his terms are confused. At first he talks about Wicca. But from the git-go, his premise is wrong. "Have you used blood in your rituals?" he asks. Now, Vodoun, Santeria, and other African and Caribbean religions do occasionally entail the use of chicken blood in rituals. In the countries that spawned these religions, ordinary people kill their own food. But Morey was not discussing these religions. Wicca, as far as I know--and I have read extensively and been part of my local European-Pagan community for the past two years--does not ever involve the use of animal sacrifice. In fact, it is common for Wiccans to interpret the Rede, "Do as you will, but harm none," to include animals, and therefore stick to vegetarian diets. Wicca and related religions certainly do not involve the use of human blood!
He backs up his opinions with the "testimonies of those who have used magic in the highest levels possible such as the Golden Dawn and the O.T.O. [Ordo Templi Orientalis] and then have come to faith in Christ and now have renounced magic." Wait. If someone leaves a group, it is because a) they were forced out, b) they found one better or c) they were unhappy in that group. I know that I left the church due to unhappiness, then left Christianity altogether because I found something better for me. Witchcraft mixed with Vodoun has turned out to be great for me.
Morey talks about "losers" in magick. Yes, there are. There are also losers in Judaism, Islam, atheism, Buddhism, and even Christianity. My great-great grandmother was fond of saying that we all get our turns on both ends of the stick--sometimes it's in your hand, sometimes you're on the other end. Sometimes magickians get their turn. Because Witches believe that our actions come back to us, and because responsibilty is a vital component of both Witchcraft and its modern descendant Wicca, we generally accept that the hurt we bring to others will return to us. Every action has a consequence. Every action returns to us threefold. Magick is not unique to the Witchcraft religion. It can be argued that prayer is a form of magick. As an ex-member of the Assemblies of God church, I don't see much difference between Words of Power and intercessory prayer. However, Witchcraft provides an ethical framework that ensures that our magickal and thisworldly actions are taken for the good of all. Lack of personal responsibility? In my experience, I have gained a far greater sense of responsibility. I no longer see myself as powerless or a victim; I know I have a great deal of power. I look to my Lady and Lord, Goddess and God, to show me how to use my power wisely.
Dr. Morey claims to know irresponsible magickians. But New Age, Ordo Templi Orientalis, and the Order of the Golden Dawn are wholly separate from Pagan religions. They are other religions and other systems of magick. O.T.O. is no more a "higher level" of Witchcraft than, say, Santeria or the Southern Baptist church. This is not to say that there are no irresponsible Witches, but to equate such magickians with all Pagandom--all non-Christians who work with magick--is false. I am also frankly amazed that Morey, an evangelical Christian, seems to advocate gambling and appealing to Jesus for trivial matters like horse races and parking spaces. I thought evangelicals were against all that. I know my people are. When I want money, I work in this world and with Les Invisibles. I read the classifieds while wearing money-draw talismen. It works. I am not Samantha Stevens and would never claim to be.
Let me talk about my family. I come from good Assemblies of God stock. One of my older cousins, who manages a chain of Christian bookstores, just battled cancer. A devout aunt--her husband is the one who sent me Morey's letter--has a heart condition, lupus, and two hundred pounds of excess weight. (If I wanted to be really cheap, I would point out that she was much healthier before she got saved.) My grandfather is an alcoholic. I know Christians who have been and still are mired in poverty, dependency, bad relationship patterns, etcetera. I, on the other hand, am much sounder emotionally and financially. I am no longer labeled clinically depressed. I am not suicidal now, as I was when I was a teenager. My periods, which I track with Mother's moon cycle, are finally regular. I get sick, but not as often or as badly.
So should I then come to the conclusion that Christianity is for losers? Mind you, I wouldn't. There are many Christian winners out there, and Christianity is a wonderful path for many. I am acquainted with several committed, hard-working, admirable Christians. To say I have no bitterness against evangelical Christianity would be a lie. Ministries such as those who published Morey's letter help to keep me bitter. But I have made an effort to learn why people would stay in Christianity. I seek out--and get--the company of loving Christians. I know not all Christians are hateful, and that even the most publicly nasty love and are loved by someone. I would not recommend that any religion be judged solely by its losers and ex-members. Morey talks about a relative who, as he wrote, was a "psychic healer", frequently sick, and had an ex-husband ("That accounts for it," I thought most charitably) who was dying of cancer. Well, we've all known the neurotic psychologist, the teacher who can't make her own kids settle down at home, the doctor who works himself sick--some people are better at helping others than helping themselves. Or, it could be that this woman is a straight-up charlatan. Or, it could be that she doesn't exist outside of Morey's imagination. Are we to judge successful, talented healers by the actions of charlatans? Better still, should we judge all Christendom by the actions of Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, adulterous singer Michael English, or the corrupt and adulterous multimedia preacher Bob Larson? This is the flip side of what Morey proposes.
I ought to note too that drawing down demons is NOT part of Witchcraft/Wicca practice! I create talismen for many purposes, none of which have anything to do with demons or evil spirits. Talismen are reminders of our objectives and help to focus our energy. They are not unlike crosses, "WWJD" bracelets, bumper fish, or True Love Waits rings. (Does the "stupid piece of metal" on a girl's finger preserve her virginity, or does it serve as a reminder as to why she should?)
I don't believe that "there is no evil". I am not involved in "sex magick", unless shouting the God/dess' names in bed counts! *grin* I have no "lust for blood," and Morey's condemnation of "killing animals for their energy" made me wonder how long he's been a vegan. After all, all meat-eaters do that. As for Morey's challenges to occultists--my Witchcraft ethical system does not allow me to use magick against someone just for disagreeing with me. Morey quotes the law of some occult orders and LaVeyan Satanism, "do what thou wilt." He misses the so-crucial second half of the Witches' Law: "Do what you will, but HARM NONE."
Morey's true intent is crystal-clear by the end. At the beginning, he reminds the teenage witch who most likely is not even a witch that "an unexamined faith is a worthless faith." (As if a teenager just blindly converted for no good reason--"Oh, I'll quit Christianity and be a Witch today!" I wonder if he would encourage conservative evangelical Christians to turn a critical eye towards themselves and examine their faith. Somehow, I doubt it.) After spewing badly organized, badly written lies, damn lies, and half-truths, either wittingly or not, this is his conclusion:
"The occult has nothing to offer that compares with the love of Jesus. Turn to Him in repentance. Renounce your witchcraft and the works of the devil. Burn your magic books and mash your altars. Turn or burn. Repent or perish! Jesus is the answer. John 3:16."
Now, can't you just imagine a teenager who's read this sobbing out a prayer of repentance, then throwing away all her Pagan paraphernalia? Neither can I. First of all, it is evident that Morey is woefully miseducated regarding Pagan religions, willfully lying his ass off, or both. Teenagers are famed for their bullshit detectors. I showed this letter to several teenagers--a Druid, a Vodouisante, and five Wiccans. The responses were laugher or outrage--"What does he mean, 'dupes of the devil?' FUCK him!"--but no conversions. Morey also ought to know that most Pagans are converts. As Christianity is the dominant religion in this country, most Pagans know far more about Christianity than most Christians do about Paganism. I think that Morey counts on this. It seemingly does not occur to him that judgemental, condescending attitudes like his may very well be the reason that some of us left Christianity in the first place. I did not see "the love of Jesus" in his letter. Instead, I once again learned that some Christians can be really nasty people. An individual's words can be their own best or worst ministry. Morey's ignorant spewings and burnt straw men form a counterproductive ministry to Witches. They contribute both to Pagan bitterness and Christian fear--hardly the loving, mutually respectful environment that forms alliances and frames good discussion. Lastly, he targets teenagers--newcomers, insecure people, people who probably live in non-Pagan homes. I don't trust that. I am left with no other option than to believe that even Morey knows an informed or adult Witch won't fall for this.
I realize that Christians want to share their God, Who blesses them. I realize that they are concerned for their souls, and that they are Biblically mandated to spread their Gospel. I have no problem with Christianity, being a woman of faith myself. However, a half-hysterical screed full of lies and distortions won't do it. A lying tract won't do it. These approaches will only make a Pagan lose her respect for you. I have posted some links to loving, informed Christian and Pagan reponses to each other. I beg Christians reading this to get your facts straight. Read Pagan books and sites; if you still disagree, at least you'll know what you're talking about. Most importantly, relate to the person rather than the soul that needs saving. Ask what we believe, don't tell us! Your courtesy will be returned. So will your discourtesy.