Etiquette with Pagans, Wiccans & Witches
OUTSIDE AND INSIDE RITUAL SPACE
If you are planning on attending an open Sabbat, ritual, pagan gathering or have been invited to go to some pagans house, it will be helpful to know the following things about pagan etiquette. There are some etiquette things when dealing one on one with a Wiccan or pagan in public and some things that might be helpful for you to know if you are going to a ritual, Sabbat or gathering.
By word, deed or photo, never out a pagan, Wiccan, Witch Even if someone is wearing a pentacle or is known within pagan circles to be pagan, Wiccan or Witch does not mean that is common knowledge in company that is mixed (with pagans and non-pagans.) This means that on FaceBook posts, in person at parties you should be sure that the person is completely out of the broom closet before letting that tidbit of information be known to anyone else. Do not post pagan related items on Facebook unless you have their ok. Ask if this is a pagan friendly FaceBook page (by private message) if it isn’t ask for the pagan friendly pageand then deleted the other one so as not to cause unintentional harm.
At events never take photos of people unless you have their express permission. Do not take pictures of the altar or other sacred items without the permission of the ritualista or ritual master. Do not post pictures to the web without express permission.
No pagans aren’t Christians, however, bashing other religions still isn’t cool In fact any bashing (gay bashing, feminist bashing, political bashing) isn’t going to be well received by most pagans, Wiccans or witches. We didn’t identify as pagan so that we gain a right to be rude or put down other spiritual paths, sexual orientation, race or political leanings. If you are attending a gathering or ritual, keep everything rude and derogatory in your head and out of your mouth.
Pagans, Wiccans and witches, as a rule, do not proselytize. This means they do not seek to convert people to their way of thinking. In fact, there are so many varied views of all types of things within paganism and Wicca that we have learned to really adopt an attitude of, “What you believe is ok and what I believe is ok as long as we are doing no intentional harm.” So when you talk to people who are pagan and are surprised when they say something like, “I hear that is your belief,” then do not elaborate, try to understand. In a path that is filled with deeply personal spiritual beliefs, we have learned to not have our own belief shaken if not everyone agrees. We have thicker skin than that. It is odd to us to find people who cannot live in a world where people have differing beliefs and can’t get along. There is a reason why the Coexist bumper sticker is so popular among us.
See the pretty shiny thing? DO NOT TOUCH! Pagans have lots of jewelry and altar items. When you meet a pagan it is considered the height of rudeness to touch their jewelry wihtou express permission. As a general rule I avoid touching jewelry period. Jewelry and other items hold power and energy and we believe that you can get impressions from that energy. It is almost like publically fondling someone. For pagans, Wiccans and witches their jewelry is often considered as sacred as a Bible, sometimes more sacred. So just don’t touch it.
See that sharp athame or sword? That pretty wand or tarot deck? DO NOT TOUCH! If we are protective of our jewelry think how much more protective we are going to be about a sword, athame (double sided blade used for ritual purposes) or wands. If you are near someone’s altar or a gathering altar do not touch anything on it. You can look but do not touch. I once had a young man come up to a public altar and took the ritual sword down and started playing with. I cannot convey to you how absolutely positively not right all that was. Swords, athames, wands and other altar items aren’t “cool,” they are a magical tool that has been consecrated and used for specific purposes in specific rituals. Again, if you are invited to handle something that may be alright; however, even then I simple chose not to touch.
Know the rules and expectations of the group you are participating with. Every gathering, open Sabbat and the like will have some different rules. Try to find out what they are before you attend an event. WDSC has an event rules page for you to consult. Abide by these rules to the best of your ability.
You DO NOT have to participate. Please decide that before ritual starts. Rituals have a set way that they are constructed. To leave a ritual after it starts is the height of rudeness. You can always ask to observe from outside the circle, which is perfectly acceptable. If you observe, keep your questions and observations to yourself until after ritual is completed.
However, if you are ever uncomfortable – you can ask to leave. If ritual starts and you become uncomfortable with what is occurring simply ask one of the people who called a quarter to let you out of ritual. Do not be surprised if no one stops you and the quarter caller simply lets you out of the ritual space. Expect the head of the ritual to approach you later to find out what made you uncomfortable. Try to be willing to be honest with them. You may help them avoid making someone else uncomfortable in the future!
Drugs and alcohol aren’t appropriate Although pagans tend to be less judgmental about the use of drugs and alcohol, utilizing drugs and alcohol before a ritual is a serious taboo and may get you denied entry into an event, ritual or Sabbat. Additionally, openly offering drugs and alcohol around is consider rude as well. The majority of groups are not drug friendly and view alcohol as something fun to do in moderation. People who get drunk at their first Sabbat celebration tend to be asked to never return.
Turn off your cell phone and leave it outside of ritual space
Stay focused and feel free to respectfully ask questions If something is happening that you don’t understand, speak up! Raise a hand and ask for clarification. If it is your first circle and you have a lot of questions, wait and then ask them after ritual. However, try to stay focus and feel. Paganism is a spiritual path that connects people the energy of the space and earth they inhabit. Try to feel that energy as ritual progresses.
Participate Paganism is not a spectator sport. Everyone who enters sacred space is expected to contribute as best they can. Do not just stand there. Be a part, volunteer, speak up. Help set up. Help clean up. Part of the experience is the doing and giving that is part of the energy exchange that is central to pagan groups.
If you have children, consider what good etiquette is where children is concerned. You can visit theRitual Etiquette When Children Are Involved page for further information.
Sure we are earth centric that doesn’t mean we want your unruly pet to show up with you. You wouldn’t go to church with your dog would you? Then don’t take a pet to any pagan event. Typically service animals are always welcome; however, any animal should be well behaved around all persons especially children.
Do not take photos, video records and/or audio recordings during ritual, period. As previously stated, only take pictures outside of ritual with the expressed permission of the person whose picture you are taking. Never post pictures to the web without expressed permission. Think of ritual space and ritual events in the same sacredness you would give when you attend a church. Most witches, Wiccans and pagans tend to have a lot more fun in their “church” however some of the same rules of etiquette apply. You wouldn’t hit on some hot babe at church and ask her to meet up later for sex so maybe not doing it at a pagan event is a good idea. You are mindful at church about children being around and keeping the conversation child appropriate, the same applies for pagan events. You wouldn’t let your children run wild in a sanctuary, do not let them run wild in ritual space.
If you don’t agree, do not go back If you attend an event and decide it is not for you, just don’t go back. Don’t try to get into a debate with the ritualista or ritual master. You may find you are simply asked to leave instead of having a debate that disrupts the service. You wouldn’t stand up in church and challenge the priest DURING the service? Then do not do so during pagan ritual.
Know the rules and expectations of the group you are participating with. Every gathering, open Sabbat and the like will have some different rules. Try to find out what they are before you attend an event. WDSC has anEvent Rules page for you to consult. Abide by these rules to the best of your ability.