This thread is a continuation of Jenny Gibbon's review of the two books: _Faery Wicca_ by Kisma Stepanich and _Witta_ by Edain McCoy. The complete review can be found in the Hall of Remembrance Library under Book Reviews: Neo Paganism
To: Jenny _
Now, Jenny, don't be shy. Tell us what you *really* think of Ms. McCoy. <LOL!> I see her reputation as a "scholar" remains intact. I don't know anyone (who has had the courage to actually try to read her stuff) who believes even a fraction of what she says.
I am reading this thread with a great deal of interest, BTW. I've often wondered why it was that some witches, Wiccans, pagans, what-have-you, have felt the need to play the "I'm more persecuted than you are" game. What purpose does it serve? Does it make our "religion" a better one? I don't think so. The folks who play that game seem to believe it legitimizes witches somehow. Again, I don't think so.
As to the rabid feminist element to it, that's *almost* easier to understand. I believe it's backlash from the patriarchal religions and their treatment of women. I don't agree with it, however. To my mind, the "Us against Them" mindset does absolutely nothing to further the cause of legitmizing witches in general. It only serves to make us even less attractive to "mainstream" society, IMO.
To: Greyfox _
>>Now, Jenny, don't be shy. Tell us what you *really* think of Ms. McCoy.<<
<g> I know, I know -- I shouldn't get so worked up about her. But I was doing a review of _Witta_ for Green Egg and so I had to read the whole thing. I survived the cover of the book (which says "Witta" is Gaelic for Witchcraft, when Gaelic doesn't even have a letter "w" in it...). Then the first chapter killed me: 113 errors in 22 pages! I staggered through the rest of the book (which "only" added another 100 errors to the total). But I think I suffered permanent brain damage from the experience.
>>I've often wondered why it was that some witches, Wiccans, pagans, what-have-you, have felt the need to play the "I'm more persecuted than you are" game. What purpose does it serve?<<
I don't know -- this puzzles me, too. And I don't think it's just us. America seems to be going through a stage where every one wants to be a victim. Perhaps it's because victims aren't to blame. People see so many things wrong with our society: racism, sexism, unemployment, poverty. Being a victim means none of this is your fault. You have a "right" to demand sympathy, rather than feeling sorry/responsible for the state our society is in. Maybe the problem is we don't distinguish well between blame and responsibility. I don't know, I'm grasping at straws. <g> It confuses me terribly, and I think it's an important key to understanding the appeal of the "average" Pagan history.
>>As to the rabid feminist element to it, that's *almost* easier to understand. I believe it's backlash from the patriarchal religions and their treatment of women.<<
I think you're right, and that's probably what causes the "Evil Church vs Good Pagans" theme of our history, too. Most of us are converts to Paganism. We grew up Christian, and we obviously had some problems with our earlier faith, otherwise we wouldn't have converted.
Though the dualism of Pagan history is a bit of monstrous irony. We chastise Christianity for its dualism, for the way that it discounted women throughout history. Then we turn around and invent dualist myths to explain the past, and promptly write men out of our history. That says a lot about the seductive appeal of dualism and stereotyping.
>>To my mind, the "Us against Them" mindset does absolutely nothing to further the cause of legitmizing witches in general. It only serves to make us even less attractive to "mainstream" society, IMO.<<
Yeah. The majority of Americans are Christian, so Christian-bashing isn't going to win us any friends. I know some Jews who get really torqued by Witches who insist that the Holocaust was small change next to the Burning Times. Scholars have a low opinion of us because of our historical revisionism (that was a major pain when I was in college). And there's a growing number of male Pagans who are starting to wonder why on earth they should belong to a religion that dumps on them. I've even seen backlashes against our backlash: male Witches who insist that almost all Witches in the Burning Times were men, and that the Burning Times were all about men, not women!
To: Jenny _
>>But I think I suffered permanent brain damage from the experience.<<
For our sake, I *certainly* hope not! <ggg> Don't you get any kind of hazardous duty pay when you have to read a book like that? I'd definitely make it a part of my contract, especially if I *had* to read any of McCoy's stuff.
>>America seems to be going through a stage where every one wants to be a victim.<<
I agree. People don't want to take responsibility for themselves or for what happens to them so they look to others to be responsible. For some, it's the government. For others, it's the church. In the case of Pagans, it seems some of us want *everyone* to be responsible. They look at history, find cases of persecution of witches and blow the numbers way out of proportion in order to...well, I don't really know why either. In order to justify all the finger-pointing and chest beating? To feel legitimate? I'll guess along with you. <g> I would think we'd want to be as scrupulously honest about our history as we could be in order to seen as credible. I mean, if we're caught out in a lie about how bad things were for witches, whatever credibility we might have gained will be shot.
>>Then we turn around and invent dualist myths to explain the past, and promptly write men out of our history.<<
This is another thing I've never understood about Pagans. Granted, I've never believed in "God" as a single *male* deity. One of the things that makes the most sense about what most of us believe is that there is a female *and* a male side to the deity. It's part of the balance of all things. Light and dark, birth and death, male and female. Without one, the other isn't balanced or even as valued, IMO. So why do some of us insist on male bashing? I suppose it's a reaction by some women against what they see as the suppression of women in the past. They want to exclude men from "their" religion, just as women were excluded from male-dominated religions in the past. HOWEVER, to try to use false historical information to justify it is just as unethical and immoral as the kinds of things many women accuse men and male-dominated society of doing. In other words, we're stooping as low as they did.
I believe in balance. I believe, in order to be balanced, we need to recognize and value both the female and male aspects of ourselves as well as our deities. To deny one in favor of the other is no better, IMO, than what "mainstream" religion has done for centuries. Do we want to be "just like them"? I would sincerely hope not. I would think we'd want to be seen as open and accepting of others, regardless of their gender, race, religion, etc., etc., etc. IMO, that's the only kind of attitude that's going to gain us any credibility in the long run.