Monthly Archives: April 2017

ADF Dedicant Path: Book Review #2

Clifton, Chas S. Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America. Lanham, MD: AltaMira, 2006. Print.

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Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America follows the rise of Wicca and other neopagan religions from their beginnings in the early 20th century to the present day, with especial focus on developments in the 1960s and 70s. While the story of Wicca itself is the driving force of the text, Author Chris Clifton could hardly ignore Wicca’s influence on and by other pagan religions, thus resulting in a well-researched comprehensive text chronicling the growth of many of the biggest Neopagan religions to take root in American soil during the 20th century.

This text takes a much needed comparative-studies approach to American pagan practices. Studies of pre-Christian, European pagan religions are necessarily comparative in nature, so too should be the studies of the neopagan religions inspired by them. There is an unfortunate tendency for followers of non-Wiccan pagan paths to distance themselves from Wicca as much as possible. It is this distance which Clifton successfully bridges by demonstrating how Wicca has touched, however indirectly, all American Pagans, from the “traditional” witches claiming a pre-Wiccan lineage to the reconstructionist Heathens who refuse to associate with the broader pagan umbrella, much less Wicca.

Although Clifton gives more attention to some (non-Wiccan) religions than others, with reconstructionist-based paths receiving the least of it, the over-all scope of the text is impressive for its size. Clifton, in fact, addresses this very issue in his introduction by means of a clever island analogy wherein he concludes that “to tell one story . . . is to tell many stories” (4). And hence, the story of Wicca becomes the story of American Paganism. Or rather, the story of a British mystery tradition which makes its way to American soil and evolves into the nature religion we recognize it as today.

I highly recommend this book to all Indo-European-based Neopagans, Wiccan and non-Wiccan alike. Don’t let preconceived notions or biases put you off. I, myself, came to this text with little enthusiasm. Had it not been recommended reading for my Dedicant Path studies, I may never have picked this book up on my own. I hope that my review can convince others not to pass this one by!

The Side of Me No One Knows

I was inspired to write this post after coming across a list of differences between empathy and clairsentience. Apparently traits of one are frequently mixed in with definitions of the other. I almost worried for a moment that I had it wrong, that I’m not an empath at all, only clairsentient. But no, it turns out I am both.

I am a full-time empath and a part time clairsentient. Regarding the latter, there are sometimes I am hyper aware of ~all the things~ to the point of creeping myself out, and other times I am completely tuned out. I don’t have a lot of control over when I am tuned in or out. It just happens.

As for the empath part – I’ve been struggling with this part of my identity for a long time. I grew up introverted and aloof with a history of terrible social etiquette, only to find out later that I have an ASD. I figured empathy was out of the question. People from all walks of my life have told me I lack in that department and I believed it.

As I’ve come into my own and gained increased self-awareness and understanding, I realized that empathy is not what I am lacking, despite having Aspergers. In fact, recent studies have shown that aspies are capable of intense levels of empathic ability. I internalize other’s emotions like nobody’s business. I am also a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and have mirror touch synesthesia. I can feel you, I can understand you (though how I get to that understanding might be unconventional as they say INTJ empaths go about it a different way), but there’s no denying that I get it. What I don’t have is the (natural) ability to act on it. I lack the ability to sympathize and comfort. And as I back away from comforting someone, they hurt more and I feel it more. It’s a terrible thing. Some part of me deep inside screams and cries as the emotional tension amplifies, and yet on the outside, my face is stoic. I tell people to man or woman-up. stop whining. leave me alone. I ain’t your shoulder to cry on.

It didnt start out this way. Initially, I retreated without any additional dialog. I played the part of aloof well. But as I learned to accept my supposedly cold and non-empathetic persona, I turned it into a game to cope. I laughed it off. My silence became rude comments which became dry sarcasm. At least the end result doesn’t hurt people as much. They don’t take me seriously, nor do they expect anything from me. Or do they?

The strange thing is, I’ve had a surprising number of people, even some I dont know well, come to me in times of trouble. Why me? Don’t they know I will only make it worse? But they still come, they tell me their problems. I listen. I absorb the pain and leave them with hardly a few words in reply. And still, they return. It makes me immensely uncomfortable. I care, but I don’t know how to show it. All I can do is feel.

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