A concern…please advise

Last Wednesday a parent approached me and asked me if I had heard of Wicca.  I said that I know of it but am not too familiar with it.  I then asked her why she asks and she said that there are students at the high school that are practicing this.

This concerns me.

Since that conversation I have learned that there are middle school students tinkering with this as well.  I am worried that there are students here in Jackson heading down a dark road and I am not sure what to do (other than pray).  I am not all that educated on Wicca.  I did an Internet search and there seems to be a lot of information out there but I don’t know what to trust.  Can anyone help me with a reliable source of information to learn more about Wicca so I can help answer questions and talk with my students? I am also in the process of compiling some scripture to use.  What would you recommend I have on my list?

Please advise.

Thank you.

-edh-

28 thoughts on “A concern…please advise

  1. Chris Duckworth

    I had a friend who was an Episcopal seminarian who also dabbled in Wicca. It is a nature-oriented religion/spirituality that many non-practitioners refer to as witchcraft. I would stay away from such sensationalist characterizations (just as I found unhelpful Pat Robertson’s characterization of a Haitian Vodou ceremony as a pact with the Devil). I think if we view Wicca as another religion, rather than as a bizarre, child-seducing cult, we’ll have a better chance of talking with our kids about it. I’ll admit that I find much in Vodou (which I’ve studied) and in Wicca (which I haven’t studied) weird, and I would be uncomfortable with a child of my congregation entering into such a spiritual world … but I would try my hardest not to be alarmist.

    Secondly, I would ask what might be going on in this person’s life that would lead them to seek out this less-than-common type of spiritual experience. Is there something in the homelife causing them to seek? Something not meeting their needs at church? What might be appealing to this child about Wicca? Is this child drawn in largely by Wiccan beliefs or practices, or by friends?

    Finally, if this child is not terribly wed to Christianity, I’m not sure that rebutting Wicca with Scripture is going to be terribly helpful.

    1. heartofapastor Post author

      Thank you for your quick reply.

      A lot of what you told me about Wicca is stuff that I have heard, but it is good to hear it from a trusted person like you.

      As to what is going on is these kids lives…that I do not know. I did hear this morning that there is a Wiccan church in the neighboring town (30 miles away) with a couple teachers from that school system active in that church. That is concerning as well.

      As for the scripture references I am compiling those for some education with my confirmation class. You are right, though, scripture probably is not the best approach with these kids practicing Wicca.

  2. breaaire

    Actually, Wicca and witchcraft are two separate things. Wicca is the faith, based upon a reverence for nature, not worshipping or idolizing it. Wicca recognizes that nature and Deity are a balance of Male and Female, not just one or the other.

    A really good resource online to learn about this religion is called Witchvox.com (The Witch’s Voice) It is a networking and educational site for most of the pagans on the net.

    Speaking as both a mother and as a wiccan, I don’t believe in trying to “convert” anyone to my faith. If someone wants to learn, they will find a way, or a teacher. And there are good and bad teachers out there for all faiths, not just mine.

    Most Wiccans that follow the credo “An it Harm None, Do What Thou Wilt” will tell you that this faith is about finding your own way to Deity, not being shoved into it unwillingly. And it certainly isn’t about the devil or anything else evil like that.

    Sorry… didn’t mean to go on like that, but I really do try to educate when asked.

    1. heartofapastor Post author

      I am curious about your statement “…not being shoved into it unwillingly.” Does this mean that in Christianity we are shoved unwillingly?

      And I would argue the point that Wicca is not of the devil. It’s a religion where Jesus Christ is not the center and since that is that case then the devil is flipping cart wheels. The devil is more than happy to see Wicca flourish. Any religion that draws people away from worship of God our Father through Jesus Christ worries me (to put it mildly).

      I do appreciate your contribution here.

      God bless!

      1. breaaire

        No, I do not believe that all Christians are “shoved in unwillingly”. That statement was made because many people believe that faiths that are not Christian are nothing more than cults that lure young people in with promises that they do not keep, then keep them there out of fear or mis-education. Many people still see Wicca through “stigma-colored” glasses.

        If someone told you that a Jewish Temple had gone up in the next town, or that a Buddhist temple had come to town would you still be this worried?

        Wicca sees all life as sacred, and does not believe in manipulating people or in harming anyone. Isn’t preaching about love and tolerance what it’s all about? AND, my job as a responsible parent is to make sure that my children grow up to be responsible, caring, considerate, tolerant, compassionate, INDEPENDENT adults. This means that they are allowed to make their own choices. Including about religion. If they choose to be Christian (which one of them is), or Wiccan, or Buddhist, or whatever, I need to love and accept them.

        Before you condemn this “alternative” church, maybe you should meet with them. Express your concerns, and ask them to tell you their mission statement. Find out who they are as people, and go from there.

        1. heartofapastor Post author

          Thank you for answering my question.

          I have been on the Wicca website and have been learning a lot, but it is not calming my concerns at all. Don’t get me wrong…I do not condemn you for being a Wiccan. It is not my place to judge…that job belongs to God. My place here is to make sure that the people here (including the youth of Jackson) hear and understand the Truth of the Gospel; that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins and rose from the grave that we may have New Life. I applaud you for raising your child to be responsible, caring, considerate, tolerant and compassionate. That’s great…some parents fall short of this. And many of the world’s religions promote these attributes. I have great respect for that.

          My concern is the eternal salvation of people. Does Wicca offer this? Does Wicca offer comfort in the face of suffering? of trials? of illness? Does Wicca give hope for a life beyond this one where pain, suffering and death are no more?

          I appreciate the dialog here. God bless!

          1. breaaire

            Ok, please forgive me if I get a little wordy here, but I feel that we’re speaking very honestly and openly, and I’d like to continue in that manner.

            Wicca offers all these things and more, to those that truly seek it. There is comfort, joy, respect, love, and learning. I am actually an ordained minister, specializing in grief counselling. Ordained through the ULC, yes, but still legal in my county to perform marriages and funerals for those that seek my services. And I have been studying my path for 13 years now.

            There is hope for an afterlife, not in the same manner, exactly as Christianity, but it is there, and most Wiccans either subscribe to the “Summerlands” (which is a lot like the descriptions of Heaven), or to reincarnation, in which you get to choose the lessons you need to learn in the next life, and then you go learn them.

            I really wanted, however, to address the issue of the children you were speaking of in the original posting.

            A lot of kids in the pre-teen or teenage time of life want to be “different” or rebellious, because they’re searching for their own identity, separate from their parents. And a lot of kids see Wicca as a big, shocking way to do this. They don’t really understand that it IS a religion, they just want to be like the characters they see in movies or on TV. It’s not like that. That’s fiction. The reality is that once they discover that it’s actually just another faith, and that the magick isn’t flashy and “Harry Potter-ish”, they get bored.

            If you want to find out what’s going on with these kids, if they belong to your church, or you find a way to talk to them, one-on-one (cause they probably won’t tell you the truth in a group – teens stick together like unwashed spaghetti), ask them what they find so attractive about Wicca. Listen to them, carefully. If they start talking about the magick first, then they’re just interested in the flash. If they talk about the religion, the Goddess, nature, etc., then they’re serious.

            They may or may not go back to Christianity later in life. But, if they’re honest seekers, they’ll find what they’re looking for.

            Thank you for listening, and for responding with an open heart. I appreciate it!

            1. heartofapastor Post author

              Thank you for your openness. I do agree that these kids may be experimenting and searching to rebel and to try to experience some of the “flash” they see in the movies. Listening to the kids is important. Like another commentor said, we don’t want to judge or condemn them.

              1. Andy

                I think Breaaire’s comments above about teens “seeking” are spot on. When I was in high school, I was involved in the youth group at my (LCA) church and didn’t question a lot. I would say now I didn’t question enough. When I went to college, there were a few professors in the English department who made great efforts to shake me loose from my narrow views. One was Jewish and one was Zen Buddhist, but both talked to me about a broad range of religious ideas.

                While I never stopped thinking of myself as a Christian (though I didn’t practice my faith in any way), I went through a period of being enamored with the Eastern religions, particularly Taoism. Over time, I discovered that I liked the philosophy of these religions, but I could never imagine myself practicing them. When the time in my life came when I felt the calling to deepen my faith life, it was Christianity that drew me in.

                I have to say, however, that I really feel like I gained a lot and grew a lot as a result of my flirtation with these other faiths. To this day, I still have copies of the Tao Te Ching and a collection of works by the ecstatic Hindu/Muslim poet Kabir, but now when I read them, I naturally find myself wondering what the writer’s insight can teach me about the Triune God and my walk of faith as a Christian, and I still find that they teach me a lot.

                So, while some youths may be experimenting with Wicca because of the lure of magic, for other it will be part of their search for spiritual depth. In this regard, I think a good approach with your youth group may be to openly and honestly explore the best of what Wicca has to offer, and then talk about what those same ideas would look like in Christianity. For instance, I find the Wiccan reverence of nature to be very appealing. How can we bring that into our Christian faith? The writings of J. Philip Newell are very good on this front, though you might need to take them with a grain of salt. Above all, you’d need to move past the standard stuff about honoring God as creator and get spiritual — make it connect on an intuitive/emotional level. I’d be tempted to try to put something together based on the Torah and its seemingly strange laws like not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk or not sowing a field with two kinds of seed. There’s nature mysticism there just waiting to be tapped.

                1. heartofapastor Post author

                  I hear you about youth searching for spiritual depth and I would definitely want to help them in that regard, but I am not so sure about sharing with them the “best of Wicca”. That could backfire very easily.

  3. breaaire

    P.S. I did want to tell you that the difference between Wicca and Witchcraft is this: Wicca is the faith. Witchcraft is the tool that helps us to make changes in our lives. Witchcraft is the “magick” that we use to help us become better people, or to help us make the world a better place for everyone. Again, the credo “An it Harm None” applies.

  4. Mike Wallette

    Pastor Eric,

    I am going to reply to you as a youth pastor from a Christian church speaking to a senior pastor at another church. In so doing, I am probably going to offend some of your readers. If this troubles you, I humbly apologize, and ask you to do as you will with my comment — if you delete it, etc., I promise I will not be offended. This is your blog, and I do not wish to hijack it or attempt to use it as my personal soapbox. I have my own blog for that 🙂

    However, since you raised the question, I would like to answer this as honestly as I can. As you — and others — have pointed out, Scripture may not be the best tool to use when speaking to kids who are dabbling in Wicca (then again, it may; just follow where the Spirit leads you), but it certainly should provide the basis for how you respond. To that end, I would first point you towards Exodus 20:3: "You shall have no other gods before me." Also consider Exodus 23:31-33: "I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you. 32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you." If you continue reading in the Old Testament, you will see that Israel did not obey the commandment of God in Exodus 23, and their disobedience cost them over and over again. Solomon ended poorly, following after the gods of his wives. Gideon and his family dabbled in idolatry after he defeated the Midianites. Israel was lead into and out of captivity for forsaking the Lord and following other gods. Most of books of the Old Testament prophets were warnings to Israel that they would suffer if they did not turn from idolatry (for a clear, concise picture of the cost of idolatry, read the book of Hosea). The evidence in the Bible is pretty black-and-white: God is to be THE Lord. Make no pact with other gods.

    On to dealing with the youth in your realm of influence who are beginning to dable in Wicca…

    Despite what it looks like I am saying in the preceding paragraphs, the wrong way to approach such a situation is through attacking a faith that they might be interested in. Fear, hyperbole, guilt, and/or condemnation will only serve to drive your flock(s) further away. The first step is to reach out to them in love. I am willing to bet that when someone begins to dabble in Pagan religions, it is because they are hungry for something that their faith is not giving them. As a Christian Youth Pastor, I am firmly convinced that Christianity has the answer to every problem human beings face. If one of the youths in my youth group were dabbling in Wicca, I would be trying to find out what they perceived that Wicca offered that Christianity didn’t. Next, I would be trying to find out how to show that Christianity has whatever it is they are looking for. Finally, pray, pray, PRAY! Pray that God would give you strategies to reach the youth in your congregation. Pray that He would give you insight into the things they are hungry for, and pray that He would show you how to fill that hunger in them. Pray that He would reveal His truth to you and your youth about who He is and what Wicca (or other religions) are. Then when you are done, pray some more 🙂

    Finally, let me ask a question: why, in Exodus 20, Exodus 23, etc., did God make such a big deal out of seeking after other gods and religions? This is not a trivial issue — this is, in fact, the crux of the issue that you raise, and is why I am climbing up on my soapbox here. I believe it is because God knows that other religions are not good for us! But that begs the question, "why are other religions not good for us?" Here is where I am going to really get controversial, so once again, I apologize if I ruffle anyone’s feathers. It’s not done to be mean spirited, but I have to tell the truth as I understand it. If you can show me that I am wrong, I’ll recant. Anyway… I believe that other religions are not good for us because they were designed by El Diablo to separate us from God. They take a grain of truth and twist it, so that we will be deceived and led astray. Don’t misunderstand me — I am not saying that those who follow other religions are evil. And God only knows that many who have claimed to do things in His name were, in fact, doing very, very evil things, so I’m certainly not claiming that everyone who is (or at least, who claims to be) a Christian is good. But yes, Pastor Eric, you should be concerned for the spiritual health of the youth in your congregation, and yes, you do need to develop a strategy for addressing Wicca.

    Best of luck, Pastor Eric. I will be praying for you as well.

    –Mike

    1. heartofapastor Post author

      Mike…first of all I want to thank you for your comments. The Gospel is indeed offensive and it needs to be preached. I will by no means delete what you contributed because I want others to read this.

      Prayer indeed is important…and that is exactly what we have been doing. A group of us pastors and concerned lay people are getting together on Thursday to discuss this and of course pray.

      What you said about the youth missing something in their life is so true. One of my colleagues said that if youth are dabbling with Wicca, then the Church universal has failed them. You are right when you say we need to figure how we have failed them. We need to find out what they are missing and show them how Christianity can fill that void; how ONLY Christianity can fill that void. But the important piece of advice that you highlight (and I am glad you did) is that we need to approach these youth in love and not condemn them.

      Thank you for your comments and for your prayers. I will indeed keep everyone informed.

      God bless you in your ministry!

  5. Diane

    This is a fascinating discussion; I don’t have anything to add right now, but I’ve learned a lot from being here. I would agree with Chris to be concerned but not alarmed. Also, from what little I know of Wicca they would distinguish themselves from devil-worshipers; it is an earth spirituality. As there are people who practical “black magick,” it’s important to make the distinction, even while having concerns. (I actually learned a little about this from C.S. Lewis’ Space Triligy; in the third volume he talks a lot about Merlin from the Arthur myths and distinguishes between black and white magic.)

    All I can say is, I would never have thought that Wicca would come to someplace like Jackson. I’ll be back to see if I can learn more.

    1. heartofapastor Post author

      “Concerned not alarmed”…I agree. I think part of the “concern” is the thought that the Church has failed the youth here…so much so that they feel they need to search out other religions. I makes me examine how we minister to the youth in Jackson. We have been talking about a community wide youth ministry program but those talks have stalled. I think now is the perfect time to get going again.

      But as Breaaire said…I think some of these kids are experimenting to rebel against their parents and searching for the “flash” they see in the movies. But whatever the case…there is something missing in their lives and we need to help them see the Truth of the Gospel and how it is relevant for them here and now.

  6. Jason Giese

    I was a Wiccan for six years. I lived with a high priestess part of this time and I was a tarot card reader. I remember searching for something. Some higher power. Some way to better myself. Through the card readings and practice of magick I advanced far beyond my peers in the practice. I led many circles during the mudsummer, lammas, mabon, and samhain. I was working and working so hard to find the answers only to find that they became a prison for me. I grew up Christian but the thought that I could controll the power of the earth was a huge draw to me. I didn’t understand the concept of a God who would take care of me, so I took matters into my own hands. This turned out to be a path of superstition, sleight of hand, and trickery. A good example of this is tarot card reading. I discovered it’s just left brain, right brain psychology. The cards can be read right side up or upside down. If the cards weren’t accurate I just read them opposite and usually got positive results. I was esentially fooling people into thinking I was something I was not. Not just with the cards but also with the magick. It’s a viscious cycle that’s hard to stop once it begins. This is where the evil lies in wiccanism. Once this was discovered and lived out in my own life I began to slowly return to Christianity. I began to understand the concept of a God who truly loved me and cared about my own well being. A God who had the answers to all I had been searching for. I didn’t have to rely on works. I had all I needed in Christ. I think where we fail in Christianity is that we put children on the backburner. We live in a society where we want to be there buddies and correct discipline is lacking. I see this in the youth group I sponsor. We got the WII, the X-box, the big screens but we (and I include myself oftentimes) neglect to really teach them about Jesus and the wonders of Christianity. Not by shoving a Bible or a Catechism there way but getting to know them on a personal level with the intent on sharing the simple wonderful news of Christ. This works for the those who are plugged into a Church and on those who are simply seeking. And during these moments we have an in for Jesus; The way, the truth, and the life.

    1. heartofapastor Post author

      Thank you Jason for sharing this. It is nice to hear a perspective like this.

      I think you are on to something when you said “We live in a society where we want to be their buddies and correct discipline is lacking”. It is one thing to be buddy buddy with youth but they also want something deeper. Wii, XBox and the like only go so far. And “shoving a Bible or Catechism” in their face ONLY…will only go so far, as well, if a relationship is not formed first.

      Thank you again for sharing.

  7. Diane

    it was fascinating to read that perspective and makes me realize that we really do need to listen to people who are searching, and humbly be there for them….

  8. breaaire

    And please, Mr. Giese, do not lump all of a religion into “evil”. I am not evil, nor are my children that have chosen to be Wiccan. And for you to paint all of the people of my faith with the same tarred brush is intolerant, bigoted, and unfair. There are Christians out there that do evil things, even evil things in the name of their religion. I do not name all Christians evil. Just the actions of a few. I am done with this thread. Thank you heartofapastor for your honest discussion. Mr. Giese, farewell.

    1. Mike

      Breaaire,

      I cannot speak for Mr. Giese, and will not pretend to. However, to some extent, I agree with him and feel compelled to speak the truth as far as I understand it. So, here is how I would answer the arguments that you pose in response to his post.

      From my point of view, *anything* that separates us from God is, by definition, evil. Jesus said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." That means that neither Islam, nor Buddhism nor Wicca nor any other religion leads to salvation. That may sound intolerant, bigoted and unfair, and I do apologize if that offends you (or anyone else reading this thread). I sincerely do not wish to hurt anyone’s feelings, but in my humble opinion, whitewashing a belief system that I think is mislead is a far greater harm than telling the truth.

      Having said that, I believe it is absolutely critical to point out that I DO NOT BELIEVE that you, your children or many (most?) others who practice Wicca are evil. *I* believe you are mislead (and to be fair, you likely believe the same about me). Nor do I believe it is good — nor even possible — to compel someone to believe in a faith against their will. Therefore I wholeheartedly support giving people the choice to choose the faith of their, well, choice. I believe that God gave us free will to choose Him or to choose against Him, so how, then, can I do any less? I believe that in *all* cases, whether dealing with an atheist, a Wiccan, a Muslim, a Christian who has fallen into sin, the example of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery is the *only* example to follow (i.e., speak with grace and love — never with guilt, condemnation or shame).

      You are certainly correct that there are "Christians" who have abused religion to perform unspeakable evil. I suspect there is an especially toasty corner of Hell reserved for such as them: "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck."

      Just my $0.02, YMMV, etc.

      1. heartofapastor Post author

        Mike…thank you for speaking the truth, but don’t apologize for speaking the truth. I believe (and heard many times in seminary) that the Gospel is offensive. Jesus never apologized for speaking the truth, but like you said Jesus spoke the truth with grace and love (great example of the woman caught in adultery).

  9. Tracey

    This is very scary for me to hear about and read about….. My daughter has talked about this a little and that there were some kids at the school but I never sat down with her and had a indepth conversation… I now feel like I maybe dismissed it and thought it couldn’t be really that big or strong in the little town of Jackson.. I am now rethinking this and plan on having an open conversation with my daughter.

    Thanks Pastor for bring this to the parents and community of Jackson..

    1. heartofapastor Post author

      You’re welcome Tracey. Having an open and honest conversation is important. From what I learned from the various people commenting here is that many kids experiment with Wicca because they are rebelling against their parents or they are looking for the “flash” (i.e. magic) they see on TV or the movies.

      Really listening to what our youth are saying and feeling is important. Where some parents go wrong is when they don’t take their kids seriously (I don’t see that as a description of you). Ask your daughter what she thinks and how she feels towards this…and really listen. If you two have more questions feel free to come and talk with me.

      God bless!

  10. Tracey

    Thanks Eric… I did talk to my daughter some about this and she informed me that last year a girl that is very much into the wicca belief got a chance to talk about it in a class where they were discussing religion. My daughter was not in that class but some of her friends were. I don’t know if her talking about it in class got some kids interested in it????? It troubles me that she was allowed to speak about it but if she approached the teacher- I don’t know what I would have done either??? I do think it is very important that as a community and parents that we get informed about this!!!!

    1. heartofapastor Post author

      I am glad you talked to your daughter about this. We are hoping to have a speaker come in March to talk about Wicca. He was a Wiccan for 6 years and now is a Christian. He has a very interesting perspective.

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