To the members of the media and the Pensacola Police Department,
I don't know how else to say this. Wiccans don't practice ritual murders. Wiccans don't practice ritual murders. Wiccans don't practice ritual murders, okay? How are we in 2015 and still trying to make this clear? I'm scratching my head over here. Okay, I lied. I'm banging it against my desk. Or at least, I was until I stopped to type you this letter.
A few questions for you both about the articles about the Blue Moon Wiccan Ritual Murders...
To Sheriff Morgan, what Wiccan books have you read that imply that murder or violence is part of any of our rites? Was it the part about sprinkling salt around the room in a Circle? Singing or chanting to our Gods? I know we can get a bit off-key sometimes, but give us a break. We're still a young faith with few organized choirs. Maybe it was the sharing of cakes and drinking a bit of ale at the end or our rites that confused you...I guarantee you, the cakes are made with flour and water (usually gluten-free flour) and never with human flesh. Where on Goddess's green earth are you making that horrid connection?
Have you thought to ask any Wiccan practitioners about what our rituals actually involve? Why in the world would you connect these deaths to Wicca? Besides, what about this grisly murder made you suspect it was ritually inspired, anyway? As you may (or may not) recall, when Sarah Fox was murdered here in NYC, there was all sorts of speculation that her death was also the result of some sort of ritual sacrifice due to the "arrangement of flowers" found around her body. It was later revealed that those flowers came from nearby trees in bloom that happened to drop petals near where she lay. Thanks for restating your statement, but it's too late. The media bit the first line and we're going to pay the price.
Do you realize how these lies hurt innocent people?
To the media: Of all the articles I've seen on this, only one included a quote from a local Wiccan community, conveniently buried several paragraphs beneath a click-bait title. The Guardian posted quotes from a couple of our leaders, but the American press is still swimming in sensationalism. Sure, your articles will get plenty of ad-worthy clicks, but you'll move onto something else just as click-baity, while we in the Wiccan and Pagan community will deal with the fallout from this for years.
My community embraces those who the mainstream religions push away. We are the haven for people who have been hurt, silenced, and let down by the bigger faiths--houses of worship who struggle to raise their enrollments while we struggle to keep up with the swelling numbers in ours. Yet, because of stuff like this story, we're left open to prejudice and attack. Just this January, a Pagan (a term which encompasses Wicca) shop in Pennsylvania received a Molotov cocktail as a New Year's Day toast. Many us find ourselves in danger of losing our jobs and in some cases, our children, because people believe our practices are inherently "bad" because of press coverage like yours. We are routinely abused, ostracized, and demonized by non-Wiccan families and friends because people are wont to believe the sensational hype rather ask us the truth about our faith and practices which do not include ritual murders.
What do we believe? Respect for the planet and all of its inhabitants--animal and human. What do we do? We usually stand in a Circle and chant a lot. Sometimes, there's a little dancing involved. What did I do on this last full Moon, the Blue Moon supposedly connected to "ritual murders"? I spent part of it alone, focusing on love, harmony and compassion. The other part I spent outside, holding the hand of a Covener (A Covener is someone with whom I practice Wicca, regularly) and gazing up at the Moon. Yes, I cast spells. One of the spells I'm planning is for the fiancé of a dear friend who is battling cancer. The spell is for peace and if the Gods will it, healing. Sue me if that's too boring to print. I'm not an anomaly. My practices are pretty common--dare I say, teetering on ubiquitous. None of these include ritual murder.
I'm sure there will be comments on this blog that say, "But I know a guy who knows a guy whose brother is on the police force and they prosecute Wiccan murders all the time." I assure you, those murders are tragic, but they're not Wiccan ritual murders because we don't do that.
To those who are reading this and who may wonder how much of these "Wiccan Ritual Killing" articles are true: They are not. Pick up a book on Wicca--they're in every bookstore. Google our practices. You'll find lots of information. Read our blogs. Ask us questions. Go wild and attend one of our events--they're not hard to find. Just stop believing the hype. I don't want to flip on the computer one day to find out yet another person has lost a job or suffered injury to a business...or worse...because of this hype.
With as much information as we Wiccans willingly share about our faith and practices, it baffles me to see the need to continue to say this. But just in case anyone needs to hear it again, Wiccans do NOT practice ritual murder. By spreading this lie due to your self-imposed lack of education and research, you've left us all in a vulnerable, and possibly dangerous, situation.
A Wiccan Priestess Who Is Very Tired Of Making The Same Statement About A Malicious Lie, Again And Again.