Sunday, December 14, 2008

You Big Stupid: And Of Course, Wicca!!!

"When you first meet Sandra Cheryl Richardson, she's nothing like what you would expect a witch to look like.

No black pointy hat. No flying broom. No magic wand. Just golden curls and flowing skirts.

But a witch she is.

Just call her the Grand Elder High Priestess of the Circle of Isis Rising, a coven in Miami.

Next week, she'll be celebrating Winter Solstice and helping lead the Yule Sabbath Celebration at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation church, 7701 SW 76th Ave.

Just consider her a 'good witch' -- the type that has received national attention with Brunonia Barry's recent best-selling novel,
The Lace Reader.

Richardson runs Celestial Treasures Network, formerly 32 Paths, in Coconut Grove with the help of her husband, Joe. The shop is packed with Tarot cards, books, incense, crystals, jewelry, essential oils, greeting cards and hand-made art, among thousands of other items. The store caters to the metaphysical community and the different 'paths,' such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Kabbalah, Yoga, and of course, Wicca."

-- Sue Arrowsmith - who is obviously trying to pass for normal while being a fellow nut-job cultist - laying a little covering fire over the Coconut Grove area for the Miami Herald.


  1. Actually it's a little dangerous to equate Wicca with New Age and (especially) cultism.

    Firstly, it's the Old Religion - older by far than the major extant faiths - so not in any sense 'new'.

    Secondly, it doesn't organise around a cult leader. It is comprised of small covens that are led by the local priestess. She doesn't have carte blanche to tell practitioners what to do; they practice the old ways and follow the old beliefs as they have been handed down - in exactly the same way as a standard parson of a congregation would.

    Thirdly, it is the antithesis of New Age workshops which are profit-driven and co-opt and repackage old lore so that a few can reap from the many. As with all genuine religions, arcane lore is freely available to study, question, and critique to the individual's heart's content.
    There's a couple of different strains e.g. Gardnerian witchcraft, which are all derived from scholarly research not idle speculation or cynical re-imagining.

    Fourthly, it doesn't advocate withdrawal from the world or belief to the exclusion of logic and/or other beliefs: a hallmark of cults.

    New Age is to Witchcraft as charismatic 'laying on of hands' and 'speaking in tongues' is to the traditional Church.

    You'd be better off saying witches (or pagans) are full of shit, rather than identifying them with cultists or NewAgers.

  2. Berko, I'm tired so I'm going to keep this short:

    As usual, you don't know what you're talking about.

    1) Many NewAge beliefs are based on "ancient teachings" so it's not whether or not anything is "new" that makes it NewAge.

    2) Not all cults - or aspects of cultism - are built around a single leader.

    3) Jesus, how deep into this bullshit have you been sucked into?

    4) The belief itself is illogical.

    5) You really need to stop this shit: it makes you goofy in the head.

    Good night.

  3. "as usual"? The comment history belies that assertion and, as it happens, I know precisely what I'm talking about.

    There are many cults whose teachings are 'based on' Christianity. That's how they work - they give the prospective follower an anchoring point and then get steadily weirder and less doctrinaire, until in the end the leader is the reincarnation of Christ and having sex with the congregation.

    A religion stays true to its ancient tenets, a cult deviates - often wildly - from them.
    Religions squabble over interpretation, cults devise whole new texts that contradict the original they are purportedly based on, often to a blasphemous degree.

    Staying with Christianity, that is why an old sect like the Bogomils was hounded out of existence - because they didn't just differ the way Catholics and Prodestants differ, they held heretical beliefs.

    If this is true of Christendom, then why not of competing religions? And, in fact, because the Church was in open war with witches, associating them with their own Devil, there grew up a movement of "witches" who worshipped Satan. They weren't really witches, as witches don't believe in a devil; their Horned God is a very different personage. But you can see how things get twisted round.

    As to your point three: you seem to think that possessing a light knowledge of a belief system is preferable or superior to understanding it fully. I have not found that to be the case. If Mormons came to your door, you'd probably give them some good broad reasons why you don't believe in God. Well, I can - and have - taken them on to a minute degree. My ex said I almost had them unconverted!

    Knowing what a belief consists of - rather than just having a basic awareness - is in no wise 'being sucked into it'. I know what Scientologists believe, what Jehovah's Witnesses believe and I'm very far from being "sucked in" by them.

    Belief in Mohammad and Kali and Buddha and Yahweh are all illogical. Why are they religions and not cults? My point remains.

    (5) No, I'm exceptionally clear thinking. I am just interested in why people think and believe the way they do. Originally it was in a goal to rid myself of my Christian upbringing but it soon became a means of discounting - genuinely and thoroughly - all beliefs. The surest way of doing that is by examining the belief system and then disproving it.

  4. Sorry, but I don't buy it: you run to the defense of this crap too often to be "clear thinking".

    And as far as my thinking "that possessing a light knowledge of a belief system is preferable or superior to understanding it fully" - why would anyone want to do otherwise? It's a fucking belief "system"!! It's WORTHLESS! It's like the last thing a fucking atheist would want to show a command of (When I first started into understanding the beliefs of my ex-wife, during the early days of my divorce, I could practically feel my nervous system shorting out from indulging too much interest in such stupidity: makes my brain hurt, too - bad intellectual juju).

    The brain was made to fly. free as bird, not to be laid on railroad track.

  5. And as far as my thinking "that possessing a light knowledge of a belief system is preferable or superior to understanding it fully" - why would anyone want to do otherwise? It's a fucking belief "system"!! It's WORTHLESS!

    Berko is trying to do you a favor, by encouraging you to use logic and intellectual rigor and honesty in your approach, instead of the blind, gut-level emotional "feelings-based" reaction you seem to rely on now.

    If you're just venting, then fine - the way you do things now is great.

    But if you actually want to understand the things that you are discussing so that you can educate others, then his suggestions deserve a second look.

  6. You post two billion posts about cults and homeopathy and etcetera and I pull you up on about five and I "run to the defense of this crap far too often to be clear thinking". Hardly.

    An atheist doesn't have to know anything about belief systems, other than to protect themselves from one, perhaps. An atheist criticising the shit out of something is a whole 'nother story. I'm not defending Wiccans, other than to distinguish them from cults. It's a semantic point perhaps, but a bloody important one.

  7. Not it's not, Berko - it's nonsense:

    Every cult-watching site I frequent lists Wiccans and Witches on it.

    You've just bought their bullshit - just like you bought into psychics and Nostrodomous (sp?) - so don't give me that shit. I've said it over and over - based only on what you say and the positions you've taken - you're a NewAger. No atheist would waste the time, pay it any respect, or think the distinction was important. Hell, you even started off by saying my claim was "dangerous".

    You're fooling no one - except for Steve Burke - but that comes as no surprise.

  8. If some nut-job decided 500 years ago, 200 years ago or yesterday that the sun is actually a burning tree stump 37 miles from Earth and then gathered a following, why would any rational person bother examining that claim with “logic and intellectual rigor”?

    If part of the followers split off with a new “belief system” that the sun is actually a frozen ping-pong ball 4 miles from Earth, is the difference really a “bloody important” semantic point because they organize themselves differently? Could it really be “a little dangerous to equate” these two? What would the danger be?

    Whatever belief system is presented is the facade that hides and compensates for stupidity, fear and disordered thinking, or power and greed over the stupid. Giving up meat on Friday, not eating pork or throwing a virgin into a volcano are all the same behaviors (with different levels of drama).

    If someone smeared shit on their naked body and walked down the street claiming he is Madonna, why intellectualize the shit and Madonna? He likely chose them because they were handy, and then built the rest of his story (belief system) from there. He will also spontaneously mutate the belief system to counter any intrusion of facts. He may have a motive, but he has no argument. A lie, intentional or not, is not the other side of an argument. It’s just a lie.

  9. JRN,

    Thanks man:

    I get too tired, just trying to keep this thing going,...

  10. Every cult-watching site I frequent lists Wiccans and Witches on it.

    ...said the fundamentalist Christian in atheist's clothing.

    Is this some sort of parody site designed to make atheists look retarded?

  11. Thanks for your erudite comments, JRN, and TMC for hosting this valuable discussion.

    I would agree that religions poison everything, as Hichens says, and I can see why atheists are loathe to defend them but, to explain myself:

    It's important to distinguish the two in the same way as it is important to separate the established church from some wayward sect that dresses its underage girls as "flirty fishes" hooking believers for God. They're both fucking rubbish but the second does incalculably more damage than the first, and is not subject to the same checks and balances. You do hear of ministers, even in the Anglican church, being turfed out for straying from doctrine.

    The behaviour of a cult or sect is in every way more aggressive and damaging - brainwashing, manipulating, setting family members against each other.
    This is, I presume, the kind of behaviour and belief system that The Macho Response is most set against.

    By saying that it is no different in kind from a relatively benign - albeit daft - belief is dangerous, while it may warn some people off stupid beliefs altogether, it also carries with it the risk that, seeking something and realising that (in this case) Wicca is a peaceful nature religion (or, in other words, you misled them) they may be tempted to try something far worse.

    As an analogy Don't take the brown acid, man is more constructive and informed than Just say No.

    Finally, much of witchcraft is not a lie, as such. There's plenty of advice about planting cycles that holds true to this day and knowledge of herbal lore is still recovering from the onslaught of Christianity. It's the very antithesis of 'water with memory'.

  12. Thank you for your remarks, Berko Wills.

    I think the distinction between an established church and a wayward cult or sect is simply a stage of evolution. The established religions, which began as cults, are now far too big and visible to flaunt civil law (in the west), but when they were the law (or immune to it), the damage and destruction they caused is unparalleled.

    What they share with cults and sects is the most important characteristic of taking advantage of the fearful, the weak-minded and the stupid - for power, illicit gain and profit. The methods used to accomplish this are irrelevant. Rob me with a gun, a knife, a mind-fuck, a smile or kidnap my cat for ransom, it’s the result that identifies what’s going on.

    Seeing cults and sects as more aggressive and damaging is only possible by focusing on the methods and not the damage of the results. I’m sure you’re aware that the established church is quietly adept at brainwashing, manipulating, and setting family members against each other. Ask someone in an inter-religion marriage. But I will concede some cults can be more in-your-face about it. I see it like a physically vs. emotionally abused child. The physical abuse is quick and apparent, while the insidious and slowly corrosive emotional abuse goes undetected, while doing much longer lasting damage.

    The responsibility for all of this belongs to the individual. Stupidity, in the absence of brain damage, is a choice. I also don’t think a benign - albeit daft belief is harmless. It points to thinking patterns that will, at some point, translate into some kind of destructive or wasteful action. To willfully believe bullshit is to intentionally damage one’s own mind.

    Whether someone is a peaceful Wicca, a psychopath Scientologist, a Catholic alter boy or a NewAge fool trying to get a drop of water to remember his birthday doesn’t matter. That person knows they’ve chosen to be stupid, and somewhere along the line there will be consequences.

    And I agree, just say no won’t work. Neither will Don't take the brown acid, man, and even Don’t take any acid, man. I’m convinced chosen stupidity is actually a childish, immature defiance against a world that won’t always let the little terminally pissed-off toddler do what he wants to do (I think I just described the whole liberal left).

    I’ll end here by repeating what I wrote in my previous comment. If I see you giving up meat on Fridays, or tossing a virgin into a volcano, or asking water where you put your keys, I know all I need to know about your belief system.

  13. LOL this is awesome. Loved the article. Former Wiccan here (16 years, first, not a passer-by) and I completely agree that it is a cult.

    "When you first meet Sandra Cheryl Richardson, she's nothing like what you would expect a witch to look like.

    I love it when they say this in articles. I took one look at the picture and my brain screamed "flake!!!"

    Just call her the Grand Elder High Priestess of the Circle of Isis Rising, a coven in Miami.

    OK - unless Gerald Gardner came back from the dead and rewrote his BOSH, there is no such thing as a "grand elder high priestess". Can you say ego whore? That's what most Wiccans are.

    Well done, sir. Reading the other comments on this page I want to congratulate you on hitting a nerve that richly needs to be hit.

  14. Angela, I swore I wouldn't post on here but this is directed to you rather than CMC:

    Why is his post good? It shows no understanding or insight into the subject it flays. If you were really a witch for sixteen years you would have picked that out a mile off.

    What is particularly egotistical about Wiccans as opposed to any other religious group?

    Why do you now say Wicca is a cult? Has it not reconstructed as faithfully as possible the original tenets of witchcraft, suppressed for so long by the 'normal' (aka burning, torturing psychotic) Christians? Gardnerian witchcraft at least.

    What made you move from Wicca, which is all about arcane knowledge, to applauding a right wing pagan-basher, who revels in his ignorance on the subject? Why is that even a good thing?

    What did you replace your belief of sixteen years with?

    I'm curious because I am interested in knowledge: all knowledge. And could give a damn how many sites list something as a cult. That's never been a substitute for a knowledge or understanding of a subject.


  15. Um, Angela, meet Berko, believer in al, kinds of nonsense (psychics, Nostradomus, witchcraft, conspiracy theories, liberalism - you name it - he's apparently on the wrong side of everything but tries to pass himself off as rational. Go figure).

    Speak with him at your own risk.

  16. Believer, my arse. Basic philosophy would have taught you there's a world of difference between 'belief' and 'knowledge' but you go on being a "man" (which apparently means attacking things you know bugger all about)

  17. Yes, Berko, and you go on excelling in your "arcane knowledge" all you want.

    And say "hi" to your next psychic Wiccan for me.

    I'm sure she'll teach you a lot about the world. Not the real one, but somewhere.

    Now go away. Jeez.

  18. 1) Oh I will. We can both be smugly superior; only in different ways.

    2) Don't know any. I get all my information from books.

    3) The real world, unfortunately for you, consists of a diversity of experiences and beliefs, not all of them in accordance with your own. Sorry you have such trouble with that.

    4) I'm gone. Ta ta.

  19. To CM:

    I don't care if someone is right-wing or not, even though I'm decidedly left-wing. If they are expressing an opinion, which in this case happens to be correct, I listen to them. Especially when they're calling bullshit.

    For my story, you can read my blog at And yes, I do believe that it is a cult. I really wish that I hadn't spent such a long time involved with it, but I actually did, in answer to your implication that I couldn't have possibly been Wiccan for that amount of time. I get that a lot.

    I am now an atheist since I have seen what fundamentalism can do on either the left or right side of things, which is to encourage a group of people to behave horribly.

  20. Angela,

    Sorry but that wasn't me, but Berko. Pay him no mind. He's a long-time freak in these parts, defending the indefensible and trapped in a NewAge time warp. He's bought it all and will damn anyone who dares question it - yet considers himself "open-minded" or some shit.

    Anyway, glad to hear you're smart enough to leave the Wiccans. That's an occurance I don't get to hear enough of because most people, by then, are too embarrassed to admit they were ever involved in it.

  21. [long exasperated sigh]

    Angela, thanks for the link. I very much look forward to reading someone bagging out witches, who actually knows who Gerald Gardener is.

    the freak

  22. Berko,

    I mean this with all sincerity:

    How many times are you going to claim to be gone and then don't act on it?

    Read the damn thing if you want, but just seeing your name is starting to depress me. I really have no use for you, your long private e-mails, your stupid comments challenging me (or claiming I don't understand your nonsensical obsessions) you following me to other sites, or your need for attention from those who have left such pursuits behind. Just drop it. You like your "arcane knowledge"? Fine. Go "learn" more. Ain't none of that bullshit here.

    And, until you get that through your head, you probably shouldn't be either.

    I'm really done with you.

  23. I wouldn't worry about him, Crack. He was probably on the email list from commenting previously and took exception to being described as 'being trapped in a New Age timewarp' despite all his denials.

    I dunno, beats me why these lefties can't see the intellect of a Bush and the integrity and public spiritedness of a Cheney. Anyone who can bring in the perpetrators of 9/11 and wage a war that is all over in under three years deserves to be praised, not booed on the podium.

  24. Berko, in the very first comment here, seemed to say that Wicca is the Old Religion - older than any major extant faiths.

    That is not true.

    As a former Wiccan and an ongoing religion & history buff, to the best of my knowledge one of the oldest faiths still extant is Hinduism/the Vedic tradition of India. I do believe the origins of that path pre-date rabbinical Judaism by about....2300 years or more, but I'll have to check.

    NEVER listen to what a Wiccan says about history. Those people are NOTORIOUS for being terrible scholars who couldn't pass a basic History 101 exam if their lives depended on it.

  25. Tracie the Red, you may be right about Hinduism but you have our e-steamed host's tenuous grasp on listening to what people are saying.

    Berko persistently claims not to be a Wiccan so whether they have a terrible sense of history or not is really a different matter.

  26. Gregory laughing his ass off at yer naiveteNovember 12, 2009 at 6:54 PM

    Oh, Tracie, just looked up your profile and see you are a Christian. Well, there there dear, talk about your terrible scholars!!!

    All Christians (with the exception of those nutty Jehovah's Witnesses) are rip-offs of pagan worship. At least wiccans are trying to go to the source.

  27. Wicca is not a cult; it is a way of life and a religion to some people who want to view it that way. To be in a cult you need a leader that follows a dogma and Wiccan’s don’t like to be told who they have to pray to or have dogmatic rules of life to follow. Not all Wiccans are witches or join a cove because it’s purely optional. The reason some Wiccans join groups or covens is to study the occult and mysticism from other cultures, prepare fundraising events, do healing meditations, earth cleanups, and to network with other like minded people during the solstices or meet-ups. Sandra Cheryl Richardson’s group has been doing this for many years and has done a great deal for the community, environmental clean-ups and endangered species in Florida.
    On Wiccan covens- some people join because they genuinely want to help and meet others. Some join because they are curious and some join with bad intentions to try and manipulate others. Some join thinking it’s a quick fix to their problems and Wicca is not a quick fix to life’s problems. If you have a personal psychological problem, get professional help. As you can see, they are no different than any other religious group. When you hear a religious basher, they had a personal issue with someone in the group and they are bitter because they were probably kicked out of the group or were pressured to leave and now they are motivated to trash the group or coven leader.
    On Wicca- Wicca was coined later as a religion and it is defined as a form of neo-paganism (neo meaning newer form of paganism) although it was much older than newer through Goddess worship. Wiccans honor the Goddess and sometimes both (God and Goddess), depends on personal belief. They do see divinity in all of creation. Wiccans are not perfect, there are human and make mistakes just like everyone else.
    I will tell you that of all the people that I have met from different religions, I have never met a group so down to earth, non-judgmental and easy to get along with like the Wiccans. A true Wiccan embrace change through meditations and sometimes spells, although, spells are purely optional for them and no different than going to a church, kneeling, and meditating with a prayer. They honor the solstices and have a high regard to protect the environment, people and the animals. I have yet to find another religion that has been passionate about the earth for so many years before it became a “Green” thing to protect nature.
    The reason some people call it the old religion is because in the past it did not have a name and it was just purely a way of life honoring the Gods/Goddess’ and the seasons. Take a look at the “Goddess of Willendorf” (30,000 to 40,000 BCE) and the latest finding, even older, 400,000 BCE. Goddess worship was carved in stone before it was written on a cloth or on paper, never mind a book. Books did not exist 400,000 years ago, at least not found by man or they would be in a museum by now. Goddess worship is the oldest form of prayer and religions were coined later, even Hinduism/Vedas religious texts. Actually, Pyramid texts predates Hinduism/Vegas due to the writings that were found in sanskrit No, I am not Wiccan, I just like to meet, greet and learn about cultures because if I respect their belief, they will respect mine. So, let’s stick to the facts that archeologically have been found. Because, at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself “the same way I judge others, one day it will be my turn to be judged”. For all of you bloggers insulting Sandra or other Wiccans, exercising your freedom of speech, re-examine your soul, maybe you see yourself in your own projection how you see others. Have a pleasant day ;)

  28. Regardless, Wicca is not "the Old Religion."

    You can call any university's religious studies department and ask about that.

    Check this

    The Wiccan concept of the Maid-Mother-Crone Triple Goddess comes straight out of Robert Graves; it is not an ancient British pagan concept of divinity. There are and have been triple Goddesses, like Brighid, but her triplicity is not one of age. It is a triplicity of function - she is the Gaelic Goddess of the smithy, poetic inspiration, and healing.

    One reconstructionist pagan, Sannion, wrote this humorous take on it in an essay called "Wiccan Fatwa":

    "If they claim that Wicca is the Old Religion, and dates back to the time of the cave men, kick their ass. Wicca is maybe 70 years old, with roots in 19th century Occultism and bad anthropology. Both its rituals and philosophy betray it as a modern religion."

    Google Wiccan Fatwa and you'll find the whole thing. It's hilarious.

    And just for the record: no, I don't regard the Bible as a history textbook. Or a science textbook. It's a spiritual document. That's it. I've been attending an Episcopal church, and if anyone knows squat about the Episcopalians, they kinda tend to be very much like Unitarian Universalists, only with a fetish for vestments. LOL!

    But seriously - they are not inclined to be biblical literalists at all. Catholics aren't either. Biblical literalism is very much a fundamentalist thing, not something the more "liturgical" or "high" churches bother with.

    Have a great day, all

  29. those wiccans like to call themselfs witches. they just wanna be special, the thing is with so many jerkheads doing it, it’s hardly special anymore. They’re using symbols from cartoons,pagan and old testamentic tradition, anything they can get their hands on without knowing a first turd about it. So they are just half vit breadheads like the rest of the establishment. The smartest among them practise some psycology and these individuals got the rest of the loosers in a mental grip just like the priest in the church has his powertrip on the rest of the congregation. truly they are on the high road to hell with theyr nose in the clouds, so have pity on them, but it’s a waste of time talking to them course they’re all too puffed up. generally nice people, and as stupid as the next one. it’s all in all a harmless prank if your not afraid of wasting a lot of time om mumbo-jumbo, and spending a few lifes as an ass. by the way: hell does exist, it’s called wasting valuable time.