Thursday, April 27, 2017

Personality Quirks: W is for Wiccaphobia

You got this one! Wiccaphobia is a fear of witches and witchcraft. Yep, you knew that, but you may be puzzled still about the word. Why would this still be a real thing? We’re not all in Massachusetts, and it is not the 17th century.

Witches have been feared through much of history when in fact those thought to be witches—typically women—were folks who possessed more knowledge about herbs, healing, and meteorology (for example) than the average. When things are going well, calling on the witchy woman to help heal or provide protections was normal. When times get hard, people look for who to blame. And the person who is different, who knows more, who expresses non-standard beliefs might take the brunt of the anger and fear.

Wicca was created as a religious cult for modern witchcraft, a 20th century institution. Wicca, the institution, establishes it origins, however, in pre-Christian pagan beliefs and practices. One must be initiated into Wicca into a coven of other witches that can only occur after a year and a day of intense study, reflection, concentration, and practices. Wicca law holds “an it harm none.”

So what’s to fear? Where does wiccaphobia come from? Here is a group of mostly women who have chosen their own spiritual paths. I suspect it is a holdover from the prejudices and myths of the past. And from unforeseen implications of applied magick. “An it harm none” is a great goal, but sometimes, Wicca warns, bad results can occur when none were intended.

The etymology is Old English wicca meaning ‘witch’ and, of course, phobia is ‘fear of.’

You could set this story as an historical fiction pre- or post-wiccan hysteria. Your wiccaphobe might be a religious fanatic who believes strongly that shis path of spirituality is the only sanctioned one. Anyone expressing pantheism or who venerates earth-based beliefs would be anathema. So the wiccaphobe may set out to destroy what is perceived as a threat to the rightful order. Would there be violence or just a subtle undermining of the person such that the Wiccan leaves the region? Would the community rally around the witchy old lady who is so helpful or would they join the hysteria to wipe out witchcraft?

How about a science fiction time-traveling doctoral student whose dissertation is witches and witchcraft? She is a witch but doesn’t know it and her wiccaphobia stems from her unease with special talents she’s had all her life and can’t always control, a closet witch who fights coming out. She chose her dissertation topic as a way to confront her wiccaphobia fears. Perhaps her trip to Danvers, Massachusetts to collect data in 1692 results in new understandings of the period’s hysteria and leads her to accept her own talents in the 21st century.

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Here are some ideas for #writers on creating wiccaphobic #characters from @RomanceRighter

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