My issue with “open letters to Wiccans”

Recently, I’ve been in a Harry Potter mood. In a few more days, I suspect I might actually consider getting out one of my Harry Potter books on tapes and going through it again. But that’s a bit of a tangent. My recent Harry Potter mood is “background” for this entry, not the central matter.

While I was in the Harry Potter mood, I decided to do some searches for online stuff about Harry Potter. I found a list of the various “spells” mentioned or used in the books so far. I found some curious quizzes. They even have one about the unorganized “Harry Potter is evil incarnate” campaign. I actually enjoyed taking that quiz.

And naturally, I ran across a few sites that were apart of that particular campaign. I won’t bother writing any remarkable details about any of them. Truth be told, I don’t think there were any remarkable details. Just the usual nonsense. “Harry Potter encourages children to practice witchcraft!” “Harry Potter makes people who don’t practice witchcraft look like losers!” “Harry Potter promotes disobedience and rebellion.” Honestly, once you’ve seen one such site, you can pretty much expect a strong feeling of deja vu every time you visit another site of the same type. No one’s ever accused Harry Potter protestors of being creative, and it’s pretty obvious why.

But on the one site, I found a link to yet another open letter to Wiccans. One of these days, I think I’m going to start trying to keep a running tally of how many such letters I can find online. There are tons of them. And quite frankly, the people who write them don’t seem to be any more creative than the people who go on about how evil Harry Potter is. That’s probably partly because they’re the same people a lot of times.

There’s really nothing remarkable abou this “open letter” when compared to others of its kind. In fact, I think the only thing remarkable about it is that it’s fairly representative of all such “open letters.” And as I was reading this particular letter, I noticed a certain pattern. So I decided I wanted to reflect upon it.

What really catches my attention is the “background” of the person writing the letter. Most of the people I’ve seen write such letters naturally have experience in the occult. (I do note however, that this one admits that his experience is in Spiritualism rather than Wicca, though he fails to seriously address whether that distinction is important.) But more importantly, they’re “driven” to it by some sort of psychological need, usually of an extreme nature. For example, in this particular letter, the writer was driven to it by the traumatic death of both of his parents and his own resultant fear of death.

In telling about these events that led to their interest in the occult, such writers often seem to make it a heart-rending story. Well, in fairness, I’m sure it was very heart-rending, and they’re only telling it like it is. But as someone sitting here waiting to be “witnessed to,” I still find it a bit bothersome. It seems to me as if the whole set up is to evoke an emotional reaction in me, to create a sympathetic state of mind where I will read the rest of the letter in such an emotional state. In some ways, I can’t help but wonder if the writer isn’t trying to be a wee bit manipulative, trying to get me to respond out of an emotionally charged state of mind rather than careful consideration of these words.

The other thing that bothers me is the implications of such a story. The writer never considers that their traumatic experiences and emotional unrest might not have contributed to their experiences of the occult, thereby biasing them. It seems to me as if there’s this silent implication that the only reason someone might get involved in such things is because of emotional trauma and psychological problems. In effect, such letters seem to me to prey on those who are still emotionally wounded and use their wounded state to the advantage of the writer’s own agenda.

This is why such letters have a different effect on me, I think. I don’t identify with the “wounded child getting messed up with things he shouldn’t.” Instead, I look at such letters and go, “Wow, you really shouldn’t have been messing with such things. You did all of this for completely the wrong reasons.” And their failure to acknowledge these truths causes me to approach the rest of the letter with a heightened sense of skepticism.

I don’t know, I think I’d be much more impressed by an “open letter” that was written by someone who didn’t bring such emotional instabilities with them into their “occult experimentation.” Or I could even be impressed if they didn’t make such instabilities and insecurities the entire foundation for their foray into occult matters. Heck, I can even respect someone who would at least admit how such things might have biased their experiences and their interpretations of such experiences. At least then I would feel like I’m reading something written by a reasonable individual. But someone like this author, I can’t help but look at his letter and shake my head. Because to me, the clear problem in his story is himself, not the occult.

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