Thursday, May 28, 2009

Paganism: Real Teen Witches

Dharmachari (for WQ)
Many are disaffected. Traditional "religion" has become nearly meaningless. There is, nevertheless, a rise in curiosity and spirituality -- a quest for Truth.

Some explore ancient paths such as Buddhism, others look to their roots for suppressed paths like Paganism. Others combine the two and playfully call themselves Pegaboos (see below). What is the West's pre-Christian tradition, and what is the attraction?

(BBC) It is not clear why Pagan-ism is so popular among young peo-ple in the UK while the Christian Church struggles to raise the num-bers of teenagers in the pews. But the youth-friendly image of Paganism may have something to do with it. There certainly aren't too many cool teenage Christians on TV.

PHOTOS: Paganism as modern ritual (; pentagram art, Kelly Hampson (; group of teenage witches/Pagans in Oxfordshire, England, left to right: Julia, Candice, Paul, Emily, Sabrina, Catherine ©; "witchdoctor" in Gambia, Africa; tree shrine on Mt. Koya, Japan (

It's cool to be a Witch
Since the 1960s young people have become interested in magic and the spiritual world through popular books, television series, and films.

Bewitched (1964-1972) showed one of the first representations of a Witch on television. Samantha was a quirky housewife with magical powers who was desperately trying to conform to the 1960s ideal and stop her "witchiness" leaking out.

The 1980s and 1990s saw a huge rise in the popularity of magic and Witchcraft as it began to flood the mainstream media. Witchcraft became much more acceptable and the characters portrayed were much stronger and more open about their practices.

A US television drama, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has probably been the most influential media representation of Witchcraft. One of the main characters, Willow, is an alternative to the sugary "Barbie"-type role model. She is a Witch who dabbles in lesbianism, dresses in sexy clothes, and casts spells.

Hollywood also picked up on the trend for the magical with films like The Witches of Eastwick (1987), The Craft (1996) and Practical Magic (1998). More>>

African "Witchcraft" Gone Wrong

Twenty-five people with albinism have been murdered in Tanzania since March, a BBC investigation has found. Albinos are targeted for body parts that are used in witchcraft, and killings continue despite government efforts to stamp out the grisly practice. Karen Allen reports.

Dharmachari (WQ)
Pagabu (portmanteau: Pagan-Buddhist). Can Buddhists really be Pagans as well? Yes, it is quite possible. Wicca, Paganism, and Earth-based spiritual paths blend well. Fear arises because these peaceful traditions are now linked in the popular imagination with black magic.

That links it to Satanism (a largely Christian invention), vandalism, and a well ingrained anti-indigenous sentiment. These are the result of a centuries-old Church campaign to stamp out indigenous spirituality.

The nominal "Christianity" that usurped original spiritual practices was not an authentic representation. It bears little resemblance to its namesake's revolutionary wish to save people from the path of perdition (to an unfortunate rebirth) and oppressive Roman rule. But story is stronger than fact. And framed in this way, Paganism and teen witchcraft have an uphill public relations battle that is all but futile.

That, too, makes witchcraft attractive, particularly to modern teens. Who wants a tradition mummy and daddy think is safe, sanitary, and mundane...when there is an underdog position to champion?

Moreover, teens in particular are allergic to hypocrisy. For example, Ireland was once a Pagan stronghold communicating with fairies, serpents/dragons (nagas), and other nature spirits. Then the Church came. And St. Patrick drove the serpents off the emerald isle.

The real danger in witchcraft -- whether it's white magic, black magic, or mixed -- is that it is often rooted in unskillful states:
  • greed for money or power
  • hate of one's tormentors or rivals
  • delusion about self, ego, and the world

All of these are karmic issues. If witchcraft gives one an unfair advantage, or if it acts as an outlet for heartfully/mentally-defiled states (rooted in lust, anger, delusion), karma will bear bitter fruit.

Still some say, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." But it is better to remember that, "Whatever one does will come back upon one tenfold." So the only wise thing to do is what one would wish to experience. Then the Pagan message seems not so removed from the golden rule we find in so many paths and traditions. Buddhism is open and invites exploration, and there is no need to give up the tradition one was born into, so the same caveats apply. After all, a mind is like a parachute. It only works when it opens.

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