Jeremy Adkison, Leavenworth sophomore and president of KU Cauldron, a university student group that holds weekly discussions of pagan social and metaphysical issues, gave a lecture tonight concerning the basics of the Wiccan religion. I have to admit that I went with the primary idea to see if other Asatruar gravitated toward the lecture, with an eye on reaching out (something I’ve said on this very website isn’t what I think I’m for). The coverage in the university’s newspaper focused on the “oooh, spooky stuff near Halloween” aspect of the lecture, and I fully expected a “fluffy bunny” convention. But even as that was my expectation, I really did want to learn about Wicca from the mouth of a Wiccan in an academic environment, and put some hope in maybe the academic part in the event description would be more than perfunctory. I had called another Heathen friend of mine, and he had expressed to me the same thought about that I was having, the dread of the fluffy bunny circle jerk. He also has a test tomorrow, and good luck to him (I’m glad I’m done with math…).
Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by the lecture. I have to disagree with the presenter’s concept of what makes a religion “reconstructionist”, but this was the only point of contention I had with the event. When he first presented the idea of Wicca as being reconstructionist I asked him if there were any primary sources that supported the interpretations of the god/goddess “fountainhead”, or rituals, and he was bluntly honest that there weren’t, outside of the Gardnerian and post-Gardnerian literature dating from the 20th Century. So my beef is with the word “reconstructionist”.
He touched on the idea of “cultural misappropriation” a bit, using the example of uninitiated outsiders mimicking the rituals of hoodoo priestesses. His idea was that approaching and patronizing the hoodoo gods as an outsider was valid, just not going through the motions developed by a closed, native sect. He mentioned that mixing gods of different cultures in one ritual was confusing and uncomfortable to him, and he asserted that most Wiccans over the age of 35 would not likely do such a thing, presumably due to a more experienced and developed understanding. He also acknowledged the negative feelings of more conservative reconstructionists (such as Asatruar) toward new, radical interpretations of native gods. He didn’t mention lore in that respect, and I didn’t think to ask him.
Eschatology was discussed, and the Wiccans don’t seem to have much more of a consensus than Heathens do. No big surprise there. Eastern concepts of the same were talked about, and cited as a source for most Wiccan belief in this regard. Truthfully, a lot of what he talked about as being Wicca struck me as being “lazy Hinduism” dressed in European pagan drag. Some may take me to task for that comment on account of my own interest in comparative religion and Eastern religious thought (and the fact that I engage in certain Zen practices), and while I sometimes walk a thin line in that department, it is always very clearly defined. I practice two different religions, I don’t mash two religions into one to practice.
There weren’t many people at the lecture. I expected a lot more, and a rowdier bunch, but that was not the case. There were maybe a dozen people there listening, and there wasn’t much in the way of “me too-ism” going on, thankfully. I think that based on what I learned tonight I will be less standoffish toward Wiccans than I have been up to now. Even recently there have been Wiccans who’ve rubbed me the wrong way, but this lecture gave me a reasonable base from which to understand the movement as a whole, rather than focusing on individuals who have pissed me off in the past. I may even end up going to the KU pagan group and attending one or two of their regular club lectures. But then again, maybe not. The last one was about vampire culture. The presenter at that meeting, according to the UDK, was my Eastern Religions GTA, so that says something favorable for it. But. Vampires…
I guess I still think of Wicca as “paganism lite”, but I’m working on not being a dick about it.