Wicca: a word of warning to parents of teens
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)--Magic -- even magic associated with witchcraft -- has become one of the most popular subjects for teen entertainment in America. Of course, few Christians would condemn the magic of Hans Christian Andersen, C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien -- in fact, those writers wrote about magic in a way that reinforced Christian worldview and doctrines.
But the magic that is such a hot topic today with teenagers is connected with Wicca, a modern witchcraft movement that embraces a revival of ancient pagan traditions. Christian parents today must be aware of this growing phenomenon, because while Wicca does attract adults, the vast majority of new Wiccans become involved as teenagers. Informal groups of Wiccans called covens have popped up in most cities in the United States.
In understanding Wicca, parents should be aware that witchcraft is not harmless fun, but an explicitly anti-Christian worldview and a collection of fundamentally unbiblical practices. Without delving into Wiccan history, here is a summary of Wiccans' beliefs and what parents should know to protect their children from this movement.
WHAT WICCANS BELIEVE
Wiccan ethics. Hexes, curses and black magic surface in any discussion of witchcraft, but modern Wicca claims to promote positive social values, such as peace and good will. Wiccans follow a creed called "the Rede" which states: "As you harm none, do as you will." Or more simply: "As long as you don't hurt anyone, do what you want." This is different from the satanic creed: "Do what thou wilt is the whole of the law" or "Do whatever you want -- period!" Wiccans also hold to the "Law of Return" also called the "Law of Three," an idea related to karma: "For good or for ill, shall be returned to us threefold." Again, in plain-speaking terms: "Whatever you do will have consequences for you three times over." While this might seem close to the Bible's admonition, "A man reaps what he sows" (Galatians 6:7), the big difference is that the consequences come from God's authority. The universe doesn't have to "compensate" for good or bad things we do, but our relationship with God is affected.
Sexual liberation. No-rules sexuality is a hallmark of Wicca; anything that doesn't harm anyone and is consensual is okay. Wren Walker, one prominent Wiccan, proclaims: "We have no rules which prohibit homosexuality, nudity or pre-marital sex. Sex as the generative force in nature is seen by most pagans as something utterly sacred." Sexuality is holy -- but not in the sense that Wiccans intend.
Christians believe that God created sex as a part of the marriage relationship and the boundaries He placed around it are for our own good, not to prevent people from having a good time or expressing themselves, as detractors might say.
Feminism. Feminists and disaffected women have been drawn to witchcraft throughout history, and Wicca is no exception -- the majority of Wiccans today are women. Wiccans have been effective in capitalizing on what they believe is Christendom's poor track record on the treatment of women. Wiccans are offended by thinking of God as God the Father and have come up with a counterpart they call Goddess. They even worship other female deities rooted in pagan mythology like Ishtar, Isis and Hecate. Some of the female deities worshiped by Wiccans are condemned by name in the Bible.
Nature worship. Wiccans revere nature. They have created an affinity link with ancient druidism and other nature-centric pagan movements. They are concerned with the changing seasons and the cycles of the moon. They are looking for harmony with nature rather than dominion over it. In fact, Wiccans believe that there is a goddess above everything, and there is a goddess in everything. That means that killing animals for any reason is wrong to many witches. It is common to find witches who are animal rights activists, vegetarians or environmentalists. One Wiccan claimed arrogantly: "If you take the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our Bible IS the wind and the rain."
Satanism and the new age movement. Calling witches "Satanists" or "devil worshipers" is not accurate, because Wiccans, by definition, do not believe in God or Satan, since they reject most traditional Christian teachings. Wiccans would not deny being occultic (having secret, mystical teachings and practices), but they reject the worship of evil, animal sacrifices and anything else associated with harming others. However, Aleister Crowley (the father of modern Satanism) remains one of the most important influences on "neopagan magick" -- the spelling preferred by Wiccans to set themselves apart. Likewise, the New Age movement holds many tenets in common with witchcraft, yet witches reject many of the practices and beliefs common to New Age practitioners. Wiccans might scoff at spirit-channeling but embrace reincarnation or karma.
SIGNS OF WICCAN INVOLVEMENT
How can you tell if your teens or their friends are involved in Wicca? Here are some things to watch for:
Withdrawal from church. Some teens may want to skip church in favor of an "alternative meeting," possibly in a home or even another church. Some Wiccan groups are affiliated with Unitarian Universalists.
Internet networking with Wiccans. The Internet revolution means that people who would never be able to meet are able to create relationships. Wiccans have mastered this, so monitor your teenagers' participation in suspicious chat rooms, instant message buddies, e-mail newsletters and websites.
Dress and appearance. Wiccan teens often wear black or "natural colors" like dark green and brown. They also may wear silver jewelry like necklaces and earrings with occult symbols like pentagrams or goats' heads. They also may want tattoos with mystical symbols, especially Celtic patterns.
Reading habits. Books for teens on witchcraft are very popular -- not just fiction, but "how-to" guides like the "Book of Shadows," "A Witch's Bible" and even the "Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft."
New language. Look for new vocabulary especially in occult terms or religious terminology that seems "off."
New interest in alternative issues. Radical environmentalism, radical feminism and the Goth subculture may be jumping off points into Wicca.
WHAT TO TELL OUR TEENS
Why are teenagers drawn to Wicca? The appeal of "magick" is "inside information" on how the world works behind the scenes, and getting power that others don't have. Some teens feel powerless and alone and seek to gain some kind of advantage over their peers. For others, Wicca is simply a fad, a fun secret shared with close friends. Regardless of the motivation, Wicca continues to be effective in drawing in new recruits.
Encourage your children to reach out to the lonely before they are even drawn to the occult in the first place. Wicca has become the ideal haven for "Goths," loners, drug users and those struggling with homosexuality or depression. So, if you believe your child is dabbling in witchcraft or hanging out with Wiccans, enlist the help of your church's youth minister, pastor or counselor. Christian parents have a threefold duty where witchcraft is concerned: to understand the nature of the threat, protect their families from its influence and, most important, reach out to Wiccan teens to prevent the loss of a whole generation.
William G. Wells is a writer based in Richardson, Texas. Reprinted with permission from On Mission magazine, a publication of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.