Thursday, October 26, 2006

Article from a Paranromal Expert :)



Hail and well met Friends.

I recently completed fieldwork on a study of the neo-pagan and Wiccan community in Los Angeles. The resulting paper has been presented in conferences and sections were printed in an academic journal. I have no doubt that this will be the most boring of the topics presented for the evening but I hope to add a touch of academic. The follow excerpt (never before published) addresses the issue of identification and the ‘right’ to identity with a culture.

Along with being incredibly fascinating the study gave me background and perspective on my writing. Though I do not write paranormals (and certainly not as well as out fair hostesses) in my fantasy stories the spells and rituals are the most realistic parts of the story as I draw them from my observations and studies.

Blessed Be.


Excerpt from study:
One incident that typifies this behavior was in the Wicca 101 class when Ann made an inappropriate comment. Fritz was talking about Beltane, one of the eight Sabbats of the year. He was explaining that the Beltane ceremony was one of the most important ceremonies because of all that it represented. Traditionally, Beltane drew the most people to the ceremony at Raven’s Flight because it meant so much to so many different people. Ann broke in saying, “and because it’s fun!” Beltane is the part of the year that celebrates sex and fertility so whereas this comment was meant to be lewdly funny, instead Fritz turned on her. He gave her a set down saying that it was a mistake to degrade Beltane into being all about sex for the sake of sex, and that comments like hers are what give Wicca a bad name, and that a witch should know better. While acknowledging that Ann called herself a witch, Fritz clearly stated in front of the entire class that she was an amateur as far as he was concerned. Fritz, as an insider and high-ranking member of the site was exerting control over the culture as represented through the usage of the term ‘witch.’ He did not have the power or authority to deny her that title or role, because he cannot tell her that she could not call herself a witch, but he discredited her claim to the title in front of all of the members of the class.

For the Wiccan community, there is not only a deep concern about who claims the culture by calling themselves a witch, but also how the culture is perceived by outsiders. Since there is a truly deep history of persecution of those who do claim the culture, it is understandable that there is an effort towards presenting a non-threatening public face. This is also a legitimate strategy used by many movements when attempting to build a mainstream acceptance of existence for a culture not the norm in a particular society. There are exceptions to this rule, particularly people who delight in publicizing their alternative beliefs knowing that there is a certain shock value reaction they will get, however this is not the norm and these people for the most part seem to have personal reasons for choosing to do this. There are many examples of how norming behaviors within a movement has led to greater understanding of the particular culture and standards of behavior within the culture by those outside the culture. The gay and lesbian culture has accomplished this, if not complete acceptance, of the culture by people outside of it. However the Wiccan and Pagan communities have not yet penetrated to the mainstream of American culture to this extent yet.
Copyright 2006 E.O.

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