I’ll say this right up front: Your friendly neighborhood VodkaPundit has lots of secondhand — and even a little firsthand — experience with modern witchcraft. That’s right: I’ve broken bread with witches, suffered them to live, and lived to tell the tale.
But first you need to know that “witchcraft” is a loaded word, and an inaccurate one, too. Ask your modern witch what she (or he) calls herself, and most likely she’ll tell you: Wicca.
During my northern California days, and even here in conservative southern Colorado, I’ve known quite a few Wiccans. And way back in the day, I even participated in a Samhain ritual — mostly out of curiosity, not conviction. I’ve also been to Catholic mass, Jewish passover seders, and more. So, from the frontiers of religious exploration, I can report to you that Samhain was quite lovely, and that Satan was never once observed, not even in the breach.
But I know what some folks reading this must be thinking: Satanism! Devil-worshippers! Witches!
Well, no — and I say that gently.
Modern Wicca has nothing to do with Satan. To look at a Wiccan ritual and see any kind of Satanism is to go to Wimbledon for a pro-wrestling fight. Sure, tennis and wrestling are both sports — but neither takes any heed of the other. It’s the same with Wicca and Satanism. Or to be more accurate: it’s the same with Wicca and Christianity. Wiccans neither worship nor recognize the Christian pantheon. So you can call Wicca “pro wrestling,” if you like. But it’s still tennis, and usually just as genteel.
For the uninformed, Wicca is a modern medley of ecology, herbalism, and somewhat squishy spiritualism, all wrapped up in the divine feminine mystique. (Yes, I’m cutting corners here, and my old Wicca friends and acquaintances would shudder at my description — and to them I apologize.) Inwardly, Wicca is ancient folk wisdom combined with modern touchy-feelyness. And outwardly, in my experience, Wicca is entirely harmless — except maybe to those looking for witches to burn.
So when I saw that old Bill Maher video of Christine O’Donnell talking about her dabbling days with “witchcraft” and blood and Satanism, well… I knew that in that video she was one of two things: Either she was full of it, or that she hadn’t been dealing with actual Wiccans. But whatever — no harm, no foul. If I were being held to account for all the claims I made when I was twenty, well, I’d blush bright red and leave the public scene forever.*
As an agnostic, I’m not taking any sides — or choosing any gods — in this debate. To each their own, “and harm ye none,” as any good Wiccan would tell you.
All of which is just a long way of saying: Relax.
If what O’Donnell said 11 years ago is true, then she wasn’t dealing with Wiccans, but with actual Satanists. And she has — inadvertently and through the “good” graces of Bill Maher — given Wiccans a platform to explain what they’re really all about. I would encourage them to do so.
And if O’Donnell is being disingenuous, then Wiccans have an even bigger case to make, and one heck of a juicy target to take down in the process.
What we all should care about is precisely this: Is any given candidate a person of conviction, and is that conviction to cut Washington down to size? All else is superfluous. A candidate could believe in Caspar the Friendly Ghost, ancient astronauts, or that Mars Needs Women, for all I care — so long as they hold true to that core conviction that Washington must be cut down to size.
To my good Christian friends, I say: Forgive. Although I suspect that instruction is completely unnecessary. You folks take a lot of flak in the media, but on your core conviction, you almost always walk the walk. And God bless you for it.
To my good Wiccan friends, I say: Embrace. Embrace small government, because big government is a friend to minorities only so long as it’s convenient — witness how the Democrats ignore urban blacks’ pleas for school vouchers. But a small government is impotent to threaten your ways. Blessed be.
I hold no faith in magic. But the Wiccan Law of Return says, “All good that a person does to another returns threefold in this life; harm is also returned threefold.” That’s not a bad sentiment, and one Christians might recognize, in slightly different form, from Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31.
There’s some common ground here, where both sides could — and should — meet politically, if not spiritually. For that to happen, however, certain Christians (not nearly all of them) would have to drop their insistence that Wicca is equal to Satanism. And certain Wiccans (not nearly all of them, either) would have to abandon their childish liberalism.
In doing so, Christians and Wiccans both could come out ahead — and that kind of win-win deal is as American as mom, apple pie, and religious freedom.
*I would not really go into hiding. I have a highly underdeveloped sense of shame.