This peculiar illness strikes those who, after seeing The Craft or the like, think "Wow! Magick is cool!" and immediately drag out the chalice and candles and knife-they-use-as-an-athame and expect to be able to fly and summon Lucifer. This condition usually lasts until someone whacks them upside the head with a cluebat or until they actually manage to do some magick, which usually makes them run home to mommy.

Oddly enough, IWS is very close to, and sometimes a precursor of, MegaPagan Syndrome.

How many times have I gotten variants of this same letter from the same girl and her soul sisters:

HI umm ur page is kewl umm can u tell me how 2 B a REAL WITCH b/c i want to cast spellz for my teachr to pass me and the guy I like to like me 2!!!! can u help me? im a natural witch i think and 2day i bougt a PENTAGRAM NEKLACE kewl HUH???? um ok tell me how but how can i make sure my mom doesnt kno OK??? blessed be (is that what u say to b a witch? write bak soon!!! ps can u do that stuff like in that movie THE CRAFT??? ok ttyl!!!

Heh, this is making me giggle (and driving me halfway to vomit) just writing this. I don't mean to mock people (okay maybe I do) but gods help me I'm not sure I can take this kind of shit too much longer.

Instant Witch Syndrome is, of course, not limited to young girls or women, but instead can affect any impressionable soul, usually one who has lots of unfulfilled desires and thinks they can be taken care of with chanting, spices, and lit candles bearing mysterious engraved symbols. Their main problem is that they go into "Crafting" trying to get something out of it. The best reason to go into it, in my humble opinion, is that the concepts that you've heard about intrigue you. When you just want to jump into it because you want love and money, you might as well hire a matchmaker to get you a mate, and a good stockbroker to get you some cash, 'cause the latter option is a lot more likely to work with that attitude.

My advice: Don't get into Wicca, Witchcraft, Druidism, or whatever other aspect of the Pagan world beckons you just because you want something. If you do it, do it because you're interested, because something about it calls to you, because you sincerely think it's the right path. DON'T get into it because your best friend is doing it. DON'T get into it because you want to hex your enemy or turn your ex-boyfriend into a toad. DON'T get into it because you want to be part of the New Age scene. Do it because it seems right. And come to think of it, take that advice for any new chapter you start writing in your book of life. (Eww, gross, I need to shut up, I'm waxing poetic.)

As a final word for anyone interested who doesn't want to be considered a wannabe Witch, I'd suggest doing two things: TALK to PEOPLE and READ some BOOKS. Talk to people about what books to read and talk to people about whether what's in the books is full of crap or if it's good advice. Turn it over in your own mind and integrate it. Find a teacher if it works best for you that way. But don't let any one author or acquaintance tell you there's only one way or that the best way for you HAS to be what turned out to be the best way for them. (If you want that attitude, there's plenty of good ol' patriarchal religions to join.) Write it all down, assimilate it, think about it, and act on it. But don't watch movies like The Craft or TV shows like Sabrina (haha) and decide you have a working knowledge of what witches do. If you've already watched these things and do currently harbor that delusion, and want to "get into" Witchcraft because of it . . . well, let's say you're about to step into another world. ::evil cackle::

My version is just the opposite: most of the "Instant Witches" I see, hear about Goddess Worship and instantly "know" they were witches in another life: innocent, peace-loving nature-worshippers who NEVER hurt so much as a feeling for fear of the Law of Three. The "Wiccan Rede" becomes their mantra, and every custom, holiday, and belief they've ever liked instantly becomes "Celtic", "traditional", and "pagan", even if their actual background isn't, and "shadow" trips off their tongue at every interval. As the syndrome runs its course, they begin to misspelle yvrye other wyrde (using "y" as an all-purpose vowel, doubling letters, and using "e" as an all-purpose suffix), use "ye" and "thou" without any thought to real pre-modern usage, and use tags of Gaelic without any real study of the language.

Sadly, most "real" shamanism is closer to the reflexive wish for spellcasting than the blind love for an unconditionally loving Goddess that most people think of as being "Wiccan" today. In most cultures, including parts of the Bible, the gods are selfish, vain, petty, tyrants who must be cajoled, flattered, or tricked into benign behavior: it's only under Christianity and its developments under German Romanticism, and some Asian faiths (in relatively late forms as interpreted by the West) where one finds a truly "kind" or "loving" God or Goddess. (And no, it's just not true that such ideas precede the more vengeful images: the gods of Ur and Egypt were just as unpleasant as those of Greece and Scandinavia, and most animists, including those of Asia and the Americas are little different.) Wanting to get things their way is the primitive way, "Let God's will be done" is the way of civilization, but being a theological difference, it's pointless to argue which is "better" than the other. Historic grimoires are very spell-oriented; there is no mention of a monotheistic or even duotheistic Goddess in them, though they abound with demons, angels, and spirits aplenty, all of whom can be made to do one's bidding...and ALL of whom, oddly enough, are subservient to the Christian God! Historic witchcraft is a syncretic faith, with some pre-Christian elements, some elements from Christianity (which is itself syncretic), and some, apparently individual or regional elements -- the practises of Italian strega differ a great deal from Bavarian and French witches (who were far more numerous than those in the British Isles), who differed (in their own ways) from those in Finland and Hungary. To paint all witchcraft as being cognate with that of 17th century Ireland is well, just witchful thinking.

What most "Instant Witches" really want is to get away from their parents' culture, which is (usually) one or another version of conservative Christianity: since witches are the opposite of Christians, they must be witches! This explains a great deal of the closed-mindedness and dogmatic attitude of most Instant Witches: their attitude seems to be that since Christianity has so distorted written history that they can rewrite European history and beliefs to suit themselves, which they can then assert with the same ferocity as a Creation Scientist in a room full of biologists. The attributes of Christ and Christianity become rerouted to the Goddess and/or the historic witches: that is, innocence suffering oppression at the hands of authority, humility, forgiveness, utmost purity, etc. Christianity becomes imbued with all the attributes of Satanism, as portrayed by such Christian pamphleteers as Jack Chick: a sham religion, parasitic on older (which, of course, are more "correct") faiths for its iconography and beliefs, glorying in murder, torture, and the subjection of women, that no one, even its most ardent supporters, truly believes. Meanwhile, the intellectual progressive strain in Wicca provides a kind of Identity Politics Lite for middle-class to affluent young white women, particularly Americans from ethnicities that would otherwise be considered "oppressors", such as British or German: by posing as one of the wretched and oppressed, virtues that would have been alien or unknown to the peasants of Reformation Europe such as environmental awareness, the promotion of lesbian sexuality, and various notions concerned with the recovery movement become "Wiccan" as well, thus rendering the wannabee peasant healer sacrosanct, at least in their own eyes. Thus armed with the buckler of righteousness, and the sword of Starhawk, they advance, a mighty army to strike down both Christian and skeptic alike.

Let the flamage begin...

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.