As with anything in society, we encounter people who are Fanatics or zealots about something. To be clear, I don't find myself to be fanatical about anything although I can sound weird at times about things I believe and how I express them. That is not what I am talking about. Although I believe in certain dogma, ethics, and philosophies, I don't consider myself fanatical or a zealot as I define the words. I do, however, get quite enthusiastic about what I believe especially when I find another group who believes similarly to me. that is not what I am talking about either. I don't feel it is excessive. So, how do we know if we are being fanatical or excessive about something?
I know some people hate it when others quote from the dictionary but I am going to do it here anyway because I am going to quote it because it is how I define it in the first place.
We can find the definition of Fanaticism online defined as "wildly excessive or irrational devotion, dedication, or enthusiasm" about whatever it is but usually something religious in nature or even philosophical. I am not here to argue about it. I just want to be clear in what I mean.
On Wikipedia, we find a good description or definition of Fanatic which I in turn actually mean when I use the word. I actually mean that the fanatic displays very strict standards and little tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions.
As for the word ignorance, I am not referring to the slang or urban definition. I am actually referring to "a lack of knowledge or information". So, before you get your feathers ruffled, I am actually talking about a continual problem that I find in the pagan community especially when it comes to Wicca.
Just so you know, I practice and believe in a very Wiccanish flavor but I am not Fanatical about what I believe and practice and in being such I found myself running from the Wiccan Label because of the Fanatical Wiccans. I also feel the same way about other types of Witches who are Fanatical in what they are against even if they are simply against Wicca.
I left a facebook group that I thought was nice although it was mostly memes at first and I liked the originally pinned post that there would be no bashing or low tolerance or lack of acceptance. I thought it was a great group until I discovered it was being run by the same Type of Fanatics that I usually run from and discovered the originally pinned post was incorrect. The zealots. Let me tell you what I mean when I use the word zealot.
A zealot is "a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals". These people scream for tolerance yet will not tolerate anything that challenges their beliefs or ideals and insists on others conforming to their ideals instead of tolerating the fact that not everyone believes or feels the same as the zealot.
Then on top of it all, while I was in search of any information to expand my understanding of certain philosophies, I ran across another zealot who prays on the ignorance of people to create a fear of another group such as Witches, Druids, Mormons and even the Free Masons. This one claims to have been a Witch, a Druid, a Mormon, and a Mason. Playing on the ignorance of his audience he began to take a few truths that if you ask the group in question if it is true, they are likely to say yes but he twisted the meaning of those facts to mean something else for the audience who doesn't have the information to challenge the claim or see through his manipulation of the facts. He then tells the audience why these things mean these groups are worshipers of Satan.
To me, I know if he belonged to any of these groups, he knew what the truth is and chose to manipulate it into the lie he was passing off to the ignorant group and quite possibly to sell his book. Leaving me with the question, if he joined these groups and swore to secrecy and then betrayed their trust when is he going to turn from the Christians and jump on the bandwagon that screams how Christianity is a cult? Will his next book be Titled the "Christian Cult"? And will his book point toward manipulated and fabricated "sins" of Christian leaders such as Oral Roberts, Billy Graham or Joel Osteen using conjecture as fact?
I get so tired of people who obviously are fearful or at least are somewhat ignorant in their practice that they have to cram their personal ethics down everyone's throat as if it is fact and backed by Wiccans everywhere. I call these people the Wiccans zealots who never left Christianity although this may not actually be accurate because the truth is that these type of people are fanatical zealots of whatever flavor they grasp at on the present moment and they either do it because they are afraid or are simply using fear as a form of manipulation toward control. People are afraid of what others may choose so they try to control others by cramming excessive ethical beliefs at the rest of the world.
I say this because I actually had a man tell me that as long as he didn't believe in my magic it couldn't affect him. I told him that isn't how magick worked. My magick doesn't work based on what others believe, it works based on what I believe. Therefore, when I make magick happen it will work as strongly as I believe it will. He was afraid.
I am not so sure I believe in Karma in a traditional sense. I do, however, believe that what we do affect us. I believe there are reactions and consequences. I also believe in free will. I know the consequences and I have the choice to do it or not. I don't try to control others and I believe that this cramming of personal ethics on others is a way to control others out of fear that others may choose something that is unfavorable.
I am sure when this zealot in the video was a Witch or a Druid or Mormon or a Mason he was a zealot of that path at that time. It is just who he is. Why people do this is beyond me. Regardless of Coven or Group, I don't like being told what I can or can't practice or what I can or can't believe. I don't like it when people try to convince me of something I truly consider to be Bull crap. That is why I carefully choose like-minded people.
In a Coven, for me, it is ok if during Coven rites we call on a different God and Goddess or even if it is just the Goddess as long as I am not told that I have to disregard or abandon the God/dess I feel is my Matron and Patron. I love being part of an open minded group because I am open minded. we all look for like-minded groups to fit ourselves into. I am not all-knowing but I am open minded to learn and consider different options. To me, closed minded people are zealots and zealots are fanatical and fanatical people are often ignorant or at least use ignorance to manipulate others.
Do I live by an ethical standard? Yes. Do I expect or try to enforce my ethical standards on others? No. When I teach my tradition, I feel it is my responsibility to at least teach my flavor of ethical practice to my student and allow my student the freedom of choice by giving the option through knowledge. I may choose not to circle with someone who has extremely different ethics but I won't expect them to change or conform to my ethics just because I disagree with them.
Honestly, I don't feel that Fanaticism belongs in Witchcraft. Witches are supposed to be the wise ones. Fanaticism is what creates a lot of arguments and discord because it comes with a lack of tolerance for anything different. I have found that among many Fanatics within the craft who try to force their own ethics on others are often fearful of dark magick. They fear it because they don't know how to combat it by breaking a curse or hex.
They lack trust in other Witches who are not fanatically spewing insane and unrealistic and excessive "Harm none" stuff. Don't get me wrong, I don't hex or curse people. I don't go around attacking people physically or magickally. I try to take the route of Harm none. But I am not fanatically going about it to the point that I won't use self-defense and will preach at others with reminders of how they have to adhere to my own personal ethical practices. I believe in free will. Fanaticism goes both ways. Some people will fanatically do things that are harmful too.
Witches are supposed to be wise. Wisdom as in "the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise". Also, "the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment". I am pointing out an obvious that seems to be the soreness that plagues our society. It keeps us from coming together and keeps us separated as Witches. It has been the soreness in the Witch community that was present even in 1974 when the Witch's Council created the 13 principles. They argued so much that they barely were able to create them and disbanded shortly after.
If you want tolerance then give tolerance and be tolerant. Be the Wise Witch you claim to be. That is all anyone can ask of you. We are all traveling on our own part of our path. Growth can only happen if you are open to it. There is NO "One true path". We must all find our own path.
May we all Walk in joy and peace on this journey through life. We all deserve to be free to choose our path and learn from our own mistakes.
In love and light,