SPECIAL REPORT ON WICCA (WITCHCRAFT) AND PAGANISM
During the summer of 1989, Hal Mansfield was invited and attended a Pagan festival (Dragonfest) located in the Colorado Rockies. The festival included people from all over the United States, with approximately 250 in attendance. He has also talked with numerous other Wiccans and Pagans and has done extensive research in the area of Wicca/Paganism.
The following conclusions will be no doubt controversial. Keep in mind our center does not evaluate belief systems; that task is left to individuals and their own faith communities. We only look at the operational mechanics of an organization or group. With that in mind, Hal found that applying our definition of destructive cults, Wicca and the Pagan communities do not fall under the definition. That being: An organization that inhibits individual freedom of thought through the use of violence, deception and mind control. Using another model, that being Dr. Lifton's eight points of mind control, Wiccan communities don't fall under that category either. For more detailed explanation of these points, we would suggest reading Dr. Lifton's book,
Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalitarianism. During the four days Hal was at the festival, he was made welcome and allowed to attend (or not as he saw fit) anything he wanted. There was no pressure, guilt, mass recruitment, or anyone constantly to accompany him unless he asked. There was no autocratic leadership, no mass orgies, or long processions of hooded, black robed people practicing black arts ceremonies until all hours of the night. Instead, there were workshops, a lot of music, people enjoying the great outdoors, and the rituals were reletively short, brightly colored, and no Devil worship. Satan is not in their belief system.
A large percentage of the workshops dealt with social issues such as: the environment, politics, ethics and feminism to name a few. During these workshops, opposing points of view constantly came up on the issues at hand. Though debate was at many times heated, no one was put down for expressing themselves or bringing contrasting opinions into the discussions.
Cult-related crime does occur, but we need to be careful not to jump to conclusions and lay blame on groups because of alternate beliefs. Hal feels this has happened to a large extent to Wiccans/Pagans. There are extreme differences between an alternative religion and destructive cults. Hal finds little or no evidence to link Wiccans to occult crime or cult cases we have researched or investigated. The few links are in the adolescent "Do-it-yourself" covens in which kids beg, borrow and steal from all sorts of belief systems, books, movies, etc. For more information on this, we would refer you to our discussion paper: "Psuedo-Satanism in School Systems Today." The other area is involving an individual's own pathological behavior. Almost all these persons call themselves Satanists. Satanism, whether it's a made-up system by individuals, an organized group, or a destructive cult, is not Wicca or Paganism! There is little similarity between them.
Some skeptics might say the Pagan / Wiccan communities put on a show for Hal. He would reply that he doubts 250 people would come from all over the country just to put on a show for him. Hal has interviewed countless numbers of Wiccans / Pagans and has found the same findings as above throughout the years. This is not a comprehensive report on Paganism, only very basic. Wicca and Paganism are too complex to outline in this paper.
The final thought is, when cult crime does occur, rumor and wild speculation are poor substitutes for good research and investigatory techniques. Each case needs to be handled as unique, not lump-sum them all together.
As always when we publish a report of this nature, we invite comments, evidence and suggestions in support or in contrast to our findings. Permission for reproduction of this report is granted; feel free to share it.
A SERVICE OF UNITED CAMPUS MINISTRY AT COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
* Origin: Sound Doctrine BBS (303)680-7209 Aurora CO (7703/4)