The Three-Fold Law

 

May whatever ye do, Come back to the,
Three times bad, or three times good

Three-Fold Law, or Law of Return as it is also called, is perhaps one of the more controversial aspects of Wiccan ethics. The basic premise is that anything we do comes back to us in the end, often to a greater degree (such as three-fold). If we do good, then good will be retuned and if we cause harm, we put ourselves in danger of harm.

This relates a lot towards Karma. In that ethically it is equivalent to the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have done to you”. But in the case of the Law of Return, there is a literal reward or punishment tied to one’s actions, particularly when it comes to working magic.

The debate over the validity of the Law of Return and its variations takes many forms. Some feel that it was created to keep new initiates in check as they learned to work with magic, while others feel it is a remnant of Christian thinking, being that a majority of Wiccans come from a Christian background. However, many Wiccans today, including some authors and “community leaders”, take the three-fold law quite literally.

Since the idea that “we reap what we sow” is generally accepted among Wiccans, the Law of Return can fairly be considered a core belief. However, it must be acknowledged that it is neither a necessary nor a universally defining belief of the Craft. There are many Wiccans, experienced and new alike, who view the Law of Return as an over-elaboration on the Wiccan Rede, which recommends that we refrain from causing harm. A Wiccan would not wish to cause harm since he or she deems it wrong to do so, not out of fear of retribution.

Doreen Valiente, one of the most influential and respected figures in modern witchcraft, boldly stated in her speech at the National Conference of the Pagan Federation in November 1997:

Another teaching of Gerald’s which I have come to question is the belief known popularly as “the Law of Three”. This tells us that whatever you send out in witchcraft you get back threefold, for good or ill.
Well, I don’t believe it! Why should we believe that there is a special Law of Karma that applies only to witches? For Goddess’ sake do we really kid ourselves that we are that important? Yet I am told, many people, especially in the USA, take this as an article of faith. I have never seen it in any of the old books of magic, and I think Gerald invented it.

While researching the Three-Fold Law, I took the liberty of writing several early authors who had referenced it in their books. The few responses I received were always the same; they did not know where it came from but it was known, at least as oral tradition, when they entered the craft. Using the dates of their initiations I hoped to at least obtain a starting point for my research. In this case, since Raymond Buckland was the first to be initiated of those authors who took the time to respond, I had a start date of 1963. Buckland was initiated as a Gardnerian by Lady Olwen, Gerald Gardner’s last High Priestess before his death in 1964. Although Buckland recalled that Lady Olwen’s coven referred to the three-fold law, he did not recall any mention of it by Gardner himself in their correspondences. I also knew from Margot Adler, that it was known in the US, at least orally when she entered the craft in 1972. “I know it was talked about the minute I entered the craft in the Brooklyn Pagan Way, and that was 72, but whether it came in written or oral form, I don’t know.” The Brooklyn Pagan Way was run by the New York Coven of Welsh Traditional Witches so the Law of Return had already disseminated outside of Gardnerian practice by 1972.

Starting with books in the 60’s, I sought to find any reference to the Three-Fold Law or variations of that theme. I was particularly interested in finding non-Gardnerian sources since, unlike many other aspects of modern Wicca, the Three-Fold Law appears to be a purely Wiccan construct particularly of Gardnerian lineage, adding a moral element to the practice of magic. I then worked backward seeking earlier influences, as well as forward, seeing who referenced these early books in their bibliographies

‘The Magic is Real!’ (Sometimes We Just Need To Be Reminded.)

‘The Magic is Real!’ (Sometimes We Just Need To Be Reminded.)

Author: Lodestone & Lady’s Mantle

Do you remember the day when you forgot? What was it? Was it when you felt like the last person to learn there wasn’t a Santa Claus? Was it that one day the magic failed? Was it even a single moment? Did you just stop seeing “Them”? Be it ghosts, fairies, elementals, or that invisible friend that faded after countless therapy sessions, it’s one of the biggest stumbling blocks I’ve discovered with the modern practitioner.

We’ve forgotten.

We embrace the religion and forget that what it stands for is even there: The Magic is Real. We pray when in need, we dance under the moon when the space allows, and we burn our candles, but when was the last time you saw the magic working? We celebrate the festivals, we check our astrological charts, we burn incense or sage and sweet grass, but there’s something missing for so many that something needs must be said.

The Magic is Real.

There’s probably three people in our community that haven’t seen “What the Bleep” or that ‘secret’ movie, but the rest of us can see how even science is telling us it exists. It may be wrapped in reduced expectations of magic, but it’s still there. Jung theorized it, with the Collective Unconscious. Kirlian photography has given us pictures of it. Bad ghost-hunting television programs have taken miles of footage of it.

The “One Decimal Point”* is coalescing all of this data (and making-up even more than that) ‘where witches fear to tread’. They hold INATS, and other conventions, to sell us “Aura Photos”, and crystal bowls, but we don’t find the magic there, either. Weekend Yoga supplants Open Circles, Reiki replaces Spellcasting, and chanting dispossesses invocations, but it’s still the “Same Shinola, Different Wrapper”. Going through the motions isn’t Magic. Magic is about Life, and not simply little pieces of life. To truly live in Magic one needs to enfold their life within it.

We cast, we wait, we see results, we get what we want, and we stop. …and we forget. We forget it works. We forget it’s Real. If we wait too long, we have to remind ourselves again. It’s not your fault. A LOT of time and effort went into teaching you that it wasn’t real. It was in every classroom. It was behind every disapproving scowl, inferred in between every-other word in every book we’ve read. It’s left out of our day-to-day jobs, and rarely mentioned in commercial radio. There’s a lot of momentum to over-come.

I have three suggestions: See! Do! Remember!

1-See:

Have you ever seen an Aura? Not that retina after-image of someone you’ve stared at for too long, but a real aura. Once you can see those, it includes every metaphysical manifestation, from seeing the wind, to spotting ghosts. You used to see them long ago, as a child, but were taught they weren’t there, so you developed a Blind Spot to them. Now you need to overcome that Blind Spot. It’s not as hard as you would think. Let’s help you out…

A) Take an Orange sheet and hang it on the wall. I know you probably don’t simply have anything big and orange lying around, so this may mean a trip to a hobby store. Since demand is low, it shouldn’t be too hard or costly. I’m afraid it does have to be orange, though: Sorry.

B) Place a brightly burning candle in front of the orange sheet. Don’t start a fire! We need to reflect back-lighting from the orange sheet, when we…

C) Place a Living Subject in front of the candles, and dim the lights. This gives a clearer contrast to the Aura and therefore an easier target. Next, the Eyes…

D) Work with hard and soft focus of the eyes.
The hard-focus is the left-to-right eye coordination of the two eyes. We play with it when we flip through those old “Magic Eye” books from the 90’s. Staring out to the horizon spreads them apart. Trying to thread a needle brings them together. Know these extremes.

Next, Soft-Focus: This is the thickening and thinning of the shape of the lens of the eye. The closer the object in front of your eye, the thicker the lens becomes, as we try to, say, focus on our fingerprints.

The room and subject are all set up. Stare through the subject, and off into the horizon, past the wall behind them. As you adjust your eyes, always be aware of the subject. Bring your focus in, closer and closer, until (with the aid of your finger) you are focused in to an inch from your eye. Stay Aware of The Subject! Your body will respond to the objects you focus on, but your mind needs to remain aware of the Subject before the Orange sheet. This exercise is about getting past the Blind Spot you’ve developed.

The effect can be dramatic, so be prepared. You may choose to reject it, so it pops in and out, as you ‘keep loosing it’. Stay resolute.

Now that you can ‘See!’ …

2-Do!

A) Gain control of your aura, now that you can see it. Change its shape, modify its thickness, or even generate energy-forms. See what you can do with it, like a child with crayons or play-dough. In the safety of your own home, it’s okay to play with it.

B) Cast spells! Not the huge “Life-Changing, Will-Dominating, Karma-Will-Get-You” kind of spells. Just cast the little ones. Summon things into your day, like having a specific vintage automobile drive by, or a woman out walking a bizarre pet (leaving it to chance as to the breed) , or seeing a little farther into the future. Send telepathic messages to a compatriot, provided you’re both okay with the exercise. “Keep Your Hand In”, as they say. Magic begets Magic. It’s like a muscle: Use it or loose it.

3-Remember!

Keep a journal: It makes no difference what you call it. Even scientists keep logs of their results. If you want to keep doubt at bay, nothing breeds certainty like good solid proof! Your journal can do that for you. Whether it’s a Book of Shadows, Book of Secrets, pebble-notes, text-file, or even video-log, make sure you can look and see that you cast for it, and you got it! Record The Results, as well as the Attempts. You need to remember that both took place.

You’ll be surprised at how these simple little things can bring dramatic effects back into Life. It doesn’t just affect your life, but also the community at large, as the paradigm is nurtured, and Magic gains momentum. The more we each recognize this, the more and stronger results we all realize. The more we manifest things, the more dramatic the manifestations become, as each practitioner ‘pushes the envelope’ a little further.

If you can’t remember, you forget to do. If you don’t do, you forget to see.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded.

The Magic is Real!



Footnotes:
*-“The difference between Pagan and New Age is one decimal point” — From Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers and Other Pagans in America Today, by Margot Adler (Courtesy of “Pagan Confederation Canada” website)

New-Generation Elders

New-Generation Elders

Author: Rev. Mason Stone

Selena Fox, Margot Adler, Raymond Buckland, Laurie Cabot, Starhawk. The list of Elders that we have in the Pagan community is vast (those listed above were simply the first to come to mind) . The title of this essay might seem contradictory, but it’s precisely what I can’t seem to find; young people in the Craft who have the tenacity and balance to stand up for, encourage progression, and lead.

When looking to ‘Elder Qualifications, ‘ I think the best requirements are found in the Charge of the Goddess. They are: beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence. That pretty much sums it up to me. The problem is, how many of us youngsters do see that you can honestly say contain even half of those qualities?

Before anyone starts to think that I’m picking on young people, first let me say that I am one of those young people. I know that I don’t contain within myself all of these virtues. The point that I’m trying to make is that we should try to be more balanced and focused in striving toward these merits. I know that not everyone is called to elderhood but if we honestly take a closer look at this list and employ ourselves to the task, would it hurt us or empower us?

In these next few paragraphs I’m getting information from Thuri Calafia’s book Dedicant: A Witch’s Circle of Fire (published by Llewellyn) and throwing my own two cents in (what’s one more opinion) . Each of the eight qualities is given in pairs for a reason: balance. I agree with Thuri on this (being a Libra, to say that balance is important to me is an understatement) . The first pair is Beauty and Strength. To sum up Thuri’s thoughts on this dynamic duo: beauty without strength leads to feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and low self-esteem.

Strength without beauty causes callousness and bitterness. But when the two are in balance, beauty and strength, they strike a harmonious chord and promote a sense of self-worth, confidence, and the positives of both. I agree with this. Isn’t it neat how two completely different ends of the spectrum complement each other rather than take away? Guess there is something to that old opposites attract thing.

The next twosome we’re given is Power and Compassion. We have all seen what too much ‘power’ can do to a person: inflated ego, selfishness, and in some extreme circumstances, cruelty. Compassion with the absence of a sense of power comes to be meekness and usually ends up with one being the proverbial doormat to the world. Once again though, when the two come together they flower into a person who is not only ethical, but someone who is able to help others without being too timid to say “no” when they are overtaxed. This makes sense to me; do you see why the whole balance thing is important?

Our next set is Honor and Humility. Thuri says that living honorably is being honest, living in a positive manner, and being reliable. But honor is not so nice when humility is not in the equation; it causes arrogance and pride. Humility that isn’t tempered with honor leads to someone who is ignorant to his or her self-worth; they will never be able to reach their full potential because they fear it. Honor fused with humility promotes a sense of pride and also wonder, an utterly charming combination.

Our final couple of virtues is mirth and reverence. Mirth, as delightful as it is, does have its negative attributes. When one has no sense of reverence they aren’t truly respectful of the goings on, making light of everything. While our celebrations are joyful expressions of the divine, however we may perceive it, they are not one big joke for us to sit around and laugh at. Alternately, when reverence decides to stand alone we may find that we have taken all of the joy out of our rites, leaving us only with stiffness and strictness. When mirth and reverence are melded into one, we are able to have a good time and still be respectful.

To try to bring all of these thoughts to a single point, we should all, young and old alike, try to bring these qualities within ourselves and integrate them into who we are, truly striving to balance them all. The oracle at the Temple of Delphi had two requirements before one could enter: “Know Thyself” and “Nothing In Excess”. These are two tenets that I believe we should all invoke. Kind of makes sense, huh?

What prompted me to write this is that I see far too many people, mainly newcomers who are of the younger generation who get into Wicca or Witchcraft or whatever you, dear reader, prefer to call your practice simply for either shock value or the magick and spells; and then there are those who do have a sincere heart but simply don’t realize that a core precept of our ways is not to change the world around you, that’s the Goddess’s territory, but to change and make you better. If we all make every effort to integrate these qualities into the us present and accounted for and shift into an ‘elder’ mindset, regardless of our age, we can find the fortitude and positivity that our community needs to continue to foster in order to remain progressive.

It worries me that not enough of us “new-generationers” (for lack of a better term) are going to be able to take up the reins when it comes our time. One of the faults (or blessings depending on how you look at it) of the human condition is that we inhabit a body that ages, withers, and dies. In forty years, who will nurture the next Circle Sanctuary? Who will write the next Drawing Down the Moon? Who will be there to show guidance to the next set of young ones? By taking action now, we will be ready when that time arrives.

Paganism in America: Misunderstandings, Controversy, and Mainstream Conflicts

Paganism in America: Misunderstandings, Controversy, and Mainstream Conflicts

Author: WindBreath

What is Paganism? There are countless definitions of this, or rather these, minority groups. The part of speech these is used, because Paganism is in its most basic sense an umbrella term used to describe religions such as Wicca, Druidism, Asatrú, and ancient cultural Pagan reconstructionist faiths. One views the diversity among the very definition of the term Paganism by looking up the term from a Pagan source, and then looking up the term from a non – Pagan source. According to Scott Cunningham, who is heralded as one of the foremost important authors in the Pagan path, a Pagan is “from the Latin paganus, country – dweller. Today used as a general term for followers of Wiccan and other magical, shamanistic and polytheistic religions.

Naturally, Christians have their own peculiar definition of this word. It can be interchanged with Neo – Pagan (Cunningham 200) .” However, a non – Pagan, and more specifically, a definition clearly derived from Christianity’s impact on Western Europe and the United States is “a person not subscribing to any major or recognized religion, esp. the dominant religion of a particular society; spec. a heathen, a non – Christian, esp. considered as savage, uncivilized, etc (pagan, n. and adj., Oxford English Dictionary) , ” which can be found in the 2010 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

This is indeed peculiar, as Cunningham stated in his definition. The main issue facing this description is that it highlights the implications the non – Pagan source that is the OED has on currently practicing Pagans. That is, what type of impact Pagans face day to day with a leading source of direct, resolute, definitions found in books such as the OED. This definition is the tip of the iceberg in the American Christian and political conservatives’ conflict with Pagans.

A look must first be taken at the first amendment right to practice religions in order to understand the dilemma faced by Pagans. The amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… ” (Fathers) which translates to most Americans that not only can Congress not establish any type of state religion, but that they constitutionally cannot block the free exercise of any one particular religion. However, this is amendment is seemingly not inclusive of all. Pagans face discrimination in the workplace, at their homes, their places of business, against their children, and most of this comes from the deeply embedded Christian principles most citizens believe America was founded on.

This often creates legal problems for Pagans tried in courts with cases directly tied to obvious discrimination against their religion. It must be realized that Paganism is a rapidly growing group of religions in the United States. The brief history of Paganism in the U.S, its tensions with Christianity, and the legality of its many religions in relation to Christianity in America shall be discussed. What Paganism is in relation to mainstream religions is paramount in understanding why there is a growing tension among them and mainstream Christian groups. Ultimately, a goal on how to address and dissolve this conflict will be looked at lastly.

Paganism grew within the United States in the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s, and has been blossoming ever since. This started with the influence of key leaders in the early Earth – Religion movements, such as Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca. This was spurred on by writers such as Margot Adler, who’s “Drawing Down the Moon” is still read and looked upon today by Pagans as a guide to the past of American Paganism, and where it may be headed in the future. According to Adler,

“Most neo – Pagans sense and aliveness and presence in nature. They are usually polytheists or animists or pantheists, or two or three of these things at once. They share a goal of living in harmony with nature and they tend to view humanity’s advancement and separation from nature as the primes source of alienation. They see rituals as a tool to end that alienation. Most neo – Pagans look to the old pre – Christian nature religions of Europe, the ecstatic religions, and the mystery traditions as a source of inspiration and nourishment. They gravitate to ancient symbols and ancient myths, to the old polytheistic religions of the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Celts, and the Sumerians (Adler 4) .”

This holds true today, in the year 2010. Although the first copy of Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon was written in the late 1970’s, this revised addition is testament to the evolving growth in numbers of Pagans/Neo – Pagans, but also to the fundamental values Pagans held and still hold to in the modern age.

Although at first glance these practitioners seem to be nothing more than reconstructionists of ancient cultural practices, the fact that many of these people find daily conflict with America’s main religious groups, Christianity, illuminates that there is a tension between the two. The main tensions faced by today’s Pagans with Christians come in the form of what the writer coins to be ‘domestic conflict, ’ or conflict that deals with the day to day life and livelihood of the subject. Also, there are no ‘manageable models, ’ a term coined by Diana Eck, meaning a model on which to base a fair and equal comparison of the two religious groups.

Currently, “the most contentious issues arise from the desires of some practitioners to flaunt their alternative behavior and exhibit their religion as counter cultural on one hand, and those who are more concerned with fostering mainstream acceptance and pursuing legal rights and protections on the other…Pagan[s] struggle to control how others perceive their religion (Davy 183) .”

Clearly, Pagans struggle with the way they are perceived because of the mystery nature of the majority of their religious practices, as well as with individuals within the Pagan movement that wishes to be gaudy and flashy with their religion. These particular individuals, along with those who commit acts of horror such as murder in the name of their particular Pagan religion, are the same individuals making Pagans who are honest, law abiding citizens look like horrible people that should be feared and in some cases, attacked.

While most Pagans and Christians living within the same area normally lead peaceful, non – violent lives, in some cases it has been found that Christians take it upon themselves to demonize and denounce the practices and practitioners of Pagan religions. Many Christian authors have written several books within the last two or three decades which denounce Paganism, and “condemn the rising popularity of modern Paganism as an insidious threat to morality and civilization (Strmiska 8) .”

Here one observes two things: one, that modern Paganism is something that should be condemned, and two, that it is an insidious threat to morality and civilization. There are several cases where this form of thinking through the lens of one’s own faith rather than attempting to understand the other is played out in the form of domestic conflict.

For those who practice a minority religion such as Wicca or Druidism within Paganism, “[they] can be assured of little protection under the Free Exercise Clause, unless the law harming them has clearly and unequivocally targeted their particular religion (Barner – Barry 23) .” For example, in Beaumont, Texas, a reverend of a Unitarian Universalist church and his congregants were explicitly harassed at a meeting they had called within the community. The purpose of this meeting was to answer any questions had by the community about Paganism because of recent allegations of abuse against children during a Pagan festival. This abuse was alleged because a group of children found out that some congregants of the church were indeed Pagan, and the police were soon brought in because the parents of some children stated that their children must have been harmed by the Pagans they spoke with.

During this meeting, the explanations of Paganism were soon silenced by police harassment, and the Pagans who remained after their pastor was removed for refusing to be silent were surrounded by Christians agreeing with their sheriff deputy. Not only was this deputy abusing his power, but he stated that he was “[a] Christian policeman…not going to tolerate Pagan religious practices (Barner – Barry 65) , ” which clearly demonstrates the abuse of the religious majority (and abuse of a position of power, in this case the police) overriding the Constitutional rights to practice religion of the minority.

This example explicitly highlights the abuse of positions of power given by the government, such as that of sheriff deputy in stating that he would indeed illegally enforce his personally formed law that Pagans who practice their religions would not be tolerated.

Examples of these abuses are not limited to adults, and happen in the public school system as well. Since the expulsion of prayers in school, there have been flairs of tension when schoolchildren are caught praying or found to be speaking about their religious beliefs. For the most part, these children are simply reprimanded, or not spoken to at all. However, for Pagans of the elementary, middle, and high school age groups, simply being reprimanded does not happen.

For example, at a middle school in the Midwest, a Pagan student was featured on the school’s wall of fame for having received extraordinarily high grades, as well as for having contributed to the school and her community. However, after the school saw she had drawn herself with a pentagram and a winged pig pulling at it, her portrait was “rejected because it had a religious theme and contained a pentagram (Barner – Barry 190) , ” yet “another picture was placed on the same wall of fame… had a clearly Christian theme (Barner – Barry 190) .” The pig, the student reported to school authorities, represented those who were ignorant of her religious faith and beliefs. Ironically, the school became that pig – not only were they ignorant of her religion, but they also explicitly favored and allowed a Christian display of faith to remain on the wall. After speaking with the child’s parents, her portrait was re hung (Barner – Barry) .

However, this is a success story in terms of religious tolerance, and does not happen often, especially in areas inhabited by conservative Christians. Thus far, conflict with general religious intolerance and school children has been observed. How conflict with Christians affects the lives of day-to-day individuals is of paramount importance, because it demonstrates how otherwise mature and sensible adults treat one another.

Every individual within the United States has the ability to start his or her own businesses. Indeed, America is made up of self – made men, men who worked hard and diligently for their earned titles, positions, and earnings. Opening a business is a difficult endeavor, which includes finding a market to sell to, costs of startup and operations, as well as buying and stocking product that is to be sold, among myriad other things. These things being difficult in their own right, add on top of that for Pagans opening shop in largely Christian areas the threat of vandalism and daily harassment.

For example, a Pagan who wished to open his shop in Austin, Texas, was harassed and ultimately forced to move because of daily taunts that he practiced Satanism. These daily taunts in front of his store caused him to lose business, and thus leave due to pressures of conflict with Christians. Another example of Pagan businesses being attacked is that of a woman in Lancaster, California as recently as 2002. She re named her store, and thus held a new dedication ceremony in the parking lot of the strip mall. Not only did conservative Christian hecklers harass her, but also when the police were called due to the disturbance of the peace, the police unit failed to respond (Barner – Barry) .

These examples given about business owners run counter culture to the idea that each individual has the ability to become a self – made man in the United States. If owning a business comes in direct conflict with the main morals and virtues of the population, then rather than allowing the business to exist as it legally is allowed to, these Christians feel the need to attack and actively take a role in shutting down these stores. Therefore, in reality, every man cannot be self – made if the mold does not fit. Here, one observes the majority coming directly down on the minority based on suppositions of Satanism, evil, and sacrificing of humans/animals. Here, one observes the ignorance and obvious lack of education of the minority religion by the majority.

Furthermore, even though it appears as though attacks are being wrought from every available angle, there is yet another, and most important to every American that is being attacked: the home. Home is supposed to be a place of solace and serenity, a place of relaxation and fun with family. It is supposed to be a place to let go of the cares of the `worldliness of work, school, and other obligations. As an extension, the neighborhood is supposed to be a place of community relaxation and recreation. For many Pagans living openly in majority Christian areas, this is sadly not true. In some extreme cases, Pagans have had to move out of their homes in order to avoid harassment and illegal actions taken against them.

For example, a Pagan couple whose house was almost paid off was found to be practicing Wicca by their neighbors. After discovering the poisoning their dog and the harassing their son on the way to the school bus, the Wiccans went to court against their neighbors only to be told to stop practicing their faith in one week or move out by a judge (Barner – Barry) .

This obvious abuse of power by the judge and illegal act of poisoning another’s animal, along with harassing someone’s child would appear to have been an easy case to decide. However, this was not true. The problem in the sphere of where one lives is that it attacks the right of anyone to live wherever they can afford. It furthers the idea that you can live where you want, so long as you prescribe to the majority lifestyles of those around you. Living in an obvious ‘counter – culture’ way is so threatening to the majority that acts such as poisoning an actual living being are not only not charged as animal abuse, but because no one was charged, it serves as an example that harming someone of a path different than one’s own is fine so long as a perceived threat is thought to be at hand.

All of the above cases have ties to the justice system, which is to Pagans, not just at all. This is seen most clearly in child custody disputes after the breaking up or divorce of parents who are one or both Pagan. Many Pagans face this fear, and “the loss of custody or visitation rights is one of the primary fears of Pagans who are parents of minor children…intact Pagan families may face custody challenges that are initiated by relatives, police, social workers, and adoption agencies. These challenges are usually based on a genuine belief that the children are potentially being harmed by their family’s non-conformist religious practices. (Barner – Barry 116) .”

Clearly, the belief that minor children are going to be harmed because of the minority religious practices directly affects the family. Not only are homes being torn apart, but these children being taken from their homes solely based on religious choice is in direct conflict with the constitutional right to the freedom of religion. It also makes a clear pathway for those who wish to remove minor children from the homes of parents or guardians based solely on their religious choices rather than if there is actual abuse in the home perfectly normal.

These cases of abuses from the majority over the minority are only growing in number as Pagan numbers increases as the years go on. The history of Paganism would appear, to a secular and unbiased individual to be that of a peaceful and Earth – based religious movement that is evolving as technology and people evolve as well. As with other religions that have growing numbers such as Islam and Judaism in the United States, one would first think that Paganism too would, like the aforementioned religions, be accepted as a legitimate religion to co – exist with. However, as the above cases have pointed out, this is not so. Pagans face discrimination in the workplace, at school, at their businesses, and in the courthouse. Stress must be placed on the fact that although these cases are largely isolated incidents, they are growing in number as Pagans grow in number in the United States.

But how are these problems do be dealt with? What is the solution to the many aspects of discrimination against Pagans? Perhaps an unbiased education about Paganism for communities would help foster understanding and help end these conflicts. Education is the key to stopping these attacks on people who have done nothing wrong but practice their religion of choice in a country that is supposed to protect that right. First, people must be taught that Pagans do not want to harm anyone: child, adult, even an animal. To do so goes against most Pagan creeds and vows to not harm any living beings. Second, people must realize that Pagans do not practice Satanism or carry out any Satanic rituals. This is the most important thing – realizing that Pagans are not evil and are not trying to attack the mainstream will be paramount in determining the fate of these minority groups in relation to the majority.

Conclusively, the minority religions of Paganism must be protected equally under the free clause law, and under the legally binding Constitutional amendment that declares that all people have the right to practice their religion of choice. Furthermore, these case studies show the cruel reality faced by Pagans who choose to live openly must face. Their minimal news coverage and lack of media attention show that there is a lot of work to be done in terms of fair coverage of events, but that their stories are covered at all shows that some effort is being made for equal press. Finally, the hope of education for those who do not understand the minority will ultimately lead to true religious freedom for all.
       


Footnotes:
Bibliography:

Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess Worshippers and Other Pagans in America. New York: Penguin Books, 2006.
Barner – Barry, Carol. Contemporary Paganism: Minority Religions in a Majoritarian America. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005.
Cunningham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practioner. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2003.
Davy, Barbara Jane. Introduction to Pagan Studies. Lanham: Altamira Press, 2007.
Fathers, Founding. “The United States Constitution.” 25 June 2010. US Constitution. 1 December 2010 .
pagan, n. and adj., : Oxford English Dictionary. November 2010. 1 December 2010 .
Strmiska, Michael F. “Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives.” Strmiska, Michael F. Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives. Santa Barbara: ABC – CLIO, Inc., 2005. 1-54.