I teach Catholic Youth Education to 9th and 10th graders and have a student who claims to be both Catholic and Wiccan. She has explained that her grandmother, whom she loved dearly, was Wiccan … and that’s where her interests derive from. She also investigates paranormal activity. This is a student I have a particular connection with, as we connected in a mentor/student before she was ever in my class. But I’d like to set her straight.
I’m looking for a few ideas on how I might a.) breach the subject, and b.) reveal the truth to her without offending her or her grandmother’s memory. I have a few ideas, but felt I should bounce it off you guys here at Catholic Answers.
You might begin with some questions to explore the conflicts between the two belief systems. Ask her what Wiccans believe. Does she see any differences between the two? Why does she feel connected to each of them? After you’ve allowed her to talk, you can share your concerns or thoughts. You might also look for some testimonials from former Wiccans (I think I found one at SaintJoe.com some time back.) and ask her to listen or listen with her. At some point, you might tell her that a person with a mature faith is one who has chosen that faith because it is true, not because it belongs to someone they like. We must own our faith. You should also pray for her every day and pray that God guides you in discussions with her.
well first of all, it is HIGHLY unlikely her Grandmother was “Wiccan” it is much more likely her grandmother did some things that her friends and some books have told her are Wiccan
many people read tarot and are not Wiccan, many people do various superstitious things, have traditional folk remedies, etc… and if you talk about them to some of the “new agers” or pagans they go “oh. you have witches in your family… you must be a witch”
ask her what she means by Wicca
how does she know her g mom was “wiccan” because you can point to a lot fo people who do _____ that are not Wiccan (right or wrong to do, but not wiccan)
Likely her Gmom was just carrying on some folk traditions, like reading tea leaves or tarot. putting up garlic…wearing a “horn” or putting red bags of salt over the doors.
my mom in law was NOT wiccan… she would have exploded at you if you said she was, but she did all of that except tarot.
i was Wiccan
i know what that means. the problem is that a lot of the kids use “wiccan” to mean anything from “i revere the earth” to “i worship a male and female pair of Gods”
so first? find out what the HECK she thinks Wiccan means.
Thanks so much, everyone, for the posts and suggestions … especially for the links. I have class with her next week Wednesday, so I will most likely talk to her then. She’s a sharp young lady. A speed reader who’s read thousands of books. She has a good heart, which I believe is truly Catholic, and a good head on her shoulders. Her Wiccan interests most likely come from the strong love she had for her grandmother. And hopefully, those interests haven’t taken root in her yet. (I don’t believe they have.) I think she feels she is honoring her grandma by taking up interest in Wicca, nothing more. Her Catholicism, I pray, is too strong a faith to surrender to a mere interest.
I’ll post an update once I speak with her. Thanks again, everybody.
I was brought up in a Catholic family…and studied Wicca for a few years…mostly out of curiosity. I even did a paper on them in college. My professor was strongly Southern Baptist…and I think I scared her…haha. Didn’t mean to…was just interested in different beliefs.
I agree with the others, ask her what it means to her. I don’t see anything wrong with looking at other religions. Wiccans celebrate the Earth. God made the Earth for us to celebrate, too.
I think that Wicca also has a strong draw for teenaged girls because they feel like they don’t have much control over their lives, but when they practice Wicca, suddenly they are tapping into this perceived power and they have spells that they think can make things happen. Maybe you can point out some very brave and powerful saints that gained their power through submission to the Lord instead of trying to tap into their own powers.
If you go the Padre Pio deliverance center, (can’t think of the url right now but you can Google) it you will be able to find a prayer for generational healing. IF her grandmother practiced this, depending on how deep she was into it, there may be some generational spiritual ties that need breaking. Just saying a prayer like this for her is fine for a lay person.
IF you can get permission from her parents to let her read this, I would suggest An Exorcist Tells his Story by Gabriel Amourth. It addresses how even new age/wiccan practices can invite unwanted spiritual influences.
First of all , verify that her Grandmother isn’t just North Carolina something, OLD , HILL OLD… see alot of persons Grandparents came from the hills, they have superstitions and
whatnot… Now that has been known as witch before, and if somehow this student of yours
just translated it over as wicca, which it isn’t. Hillbilly Superstition and notions of the world, do not witche’s or wiccan make.
its quite impossible to be Both Catholic and Wicca. That is a heresy. so. But what is truly
wicca and what is merely a girl/women looking at herself in the mirror at times, and letting
the mona lisa smile appear for a moment then turning and walking away. Women can
be that way at times…
Women have this notion about Witch’s that is more for its seductive aspect secretly,
Its almost a way for a women to talk about the want to seduce a man without actually
having to talk sex… So… Women whos familys usually quite old claim a something, look
at themselves a little differently then…
Chances are all claims to wicca are merely flights of fancy for some reason and are completely bogus. Its just old hill America chances are and not really witchcraft at all…
I agree a lot. I have a friend who became wiccan in middle school and it makes me very sad. She turns away from Christianity because it “doesn’t have a female god and therefor there is no balance”, what christians have done in the past, how the bible isn’t historical, etc. etc. All of that nonsense. I could never convince her that God has no gender and that He is only a spirit, we just refer to Him as a he because it is easier to talk about Him that way. Besides, calling God “It” seems foreign, strange and unloving, doesn’t it?
Also, my friend considers herself “emo”, and people who claim to be wiccan I notice are going to 99% of the time be female and teenage girls who also claim to be emo or are middle aged women.
She could probably use some guidance from both sides of the fence, so to speak. As a Wiccan, I sometimes answer questions posted by young readers on various forums. One cannot really be a “Catholic-Wiccan” or “Christo-Pagan” because they are two fundamentally different belief systems with irreconcilable differences. We don’t have a body of dogma or canon law which formally bars Wiccans from such hybrid practices of course, but we find that such people don’t have a true understanding of either religion, or of themselves. One of our biggest headaches is the influx of young people in recent years who are basically just poorly-formed Christians (often Catholics), who simply want to have a bit of rebellion and New-Age trappings. Being angy at parental rules or being enamored with Goth or emo clothing and pentagrams does not make one a Wiccan, any more than wearing a big gold cross makes one a Christian.
In my own experience, I have found that very few people who pursue Wicca much before their mid or even late 20s do not stick with it. I myself left Catholicism in my teens to become a hardcore agnostic/secular person, and only came to Wicca in my mid-30s, after many years of deliberation and discernment. My advice to you with this girl is to tread softly. Many young people who dabble with pagan paths are highly intelligent and arguments from authority or heavy handed approaches will lose them, whether or not they ever come to be with “us.” Encourage her to really learn what these different paths are about and more importantly to work on discovering who she is. She should come to such a weighty decision only when she is ready, and base it on real information, not inaccurate perceptions. Wicca is not for everyone. It is not an easy path, nor is it a refuge from life’s responsibilities or a way to conjure up power to solve all of one’s problems.
If you want to get a real understanding of the differences in the religions, I would suggest “Beyond the Burning Times” by Philip Johnson and Gus diZerega - it’s a dialogue between a Christian and Pagan on various aspects of their faiths. “Paganism” by Joyce and River Higganbotham is another good overview. There are also a couple of titles by Kerr Cuhulain, a former Vancouver police detective who I know personally to be a very level-headed and responsible representative of Wicca. I sadly dont’ expect most Catholic educators these days to encourage kids to really think for themselves, but at least you should consider these resources as a way to educate yourselves about us so you know what points to argue from and don’t blow your credibility with skeptical and media-saavy kids. Best of luck to you all.
I’ve a cousin who is very interested in the paranormal, an interest that derives from his mother. She’s the one who got me out of tarot cards because it was something I picked up as a hobby in college to meet girls. I’m serious. It was all fun to them but my aunt took it so seriously she took out a supplementary life insurance policy after I flipped over a “Death” card (which isn’t what Death means, but…), so I quit it.
Proceeding depends on how much of an interest she has in wicca and the paranormal. I think occult studies are fascinating but it takes a somewhat mature mind (which you might find in a 10th grader) to be able to look at it but keep detached. So there’s a need to maintain a balance. From Wicca she can take a love of nature, a holistic sense of the planet as a living ecosystem and true gift from God, a calling to help and never harm, and a sense of personal responsibility. What she cannot take are things like a concept of Feminine Divine (though God does have characteristics we’d call feminine), praying to or invoking spirits (though we should recognize the potential for spiritual warfare and be wary of such things) and the use of magic, familiars and magickal devices.
With my cousin, I’d encourage him to apply science and faith where appropriate, to keep an open mind and Christian perspective towards things like ghosts, but draw a thick line when it came to afterlife, salvation, and reconciliation for sins. At one point I did have to tell him to choose the Lord or to choose this amalgam of elemental magic and neo-paganism he had sort of concocted around Wicca, vampire novels and Atlantis legends.
Depending on what you mean by ‘investigating’ this may not be a bad thing. It’s not inconsistent to talk about things beyond our ability to perceive, but it should be left at that. If we do not understand ghosts and spirits that comprise the paranormal, we certainly should not attempt to interact with them.Likewise, psychic abilities are bunk but many are based upon simply having a trained insight into nonverbal communication. The one great lesson I took from tarot was how to ready body and face, which is a real art but there’s nothing paranormal to it. People, when in an open mood, let through a lot more information than they realize, but it is subtle and takes much practice to pick up how to ‘read’ someone.
If you have the relationship, do challenge her where needed. My cousin said he could read auras and wasn’t surprised so many of them were red in color. I asked him to read mine - he said it was red as he squinted his eyes. I asked him if he could do it without squinting his eyes and squeezing his blood vessels. It was like watching a lightbulb turn on.
Peace to you and blessings to your student. It’s good to have sound Catholic teachers like you ready to correct and direct with love.
Many wiccans have services imitating the Catholic Mass. Just go to ebay and sift through the wiccan altar cloths, altar candles, altar insence bowls, etc. I am a sacristan who looks for Catholic altar things for my parish. I sift through all the Wicca worship objects to find the Catholic.
Jesus Christ says that “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons.” Even if she doesn’t do these things herself, she is by label associating herself with pagan worship by calling herself a wiccan.
7 Therefore, my beloved, avoid idolatry.
I am speaking as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I am saying.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
Look at Israel according to the flesh; are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?
So what am I saying? That meat sacrificed to idols is anything? Or that an idol is anything?
No, I mean that what they sacrifice, (they sacrifice) to demons, 8 not to God, and I do not want you to become participants with demons.
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons.
Or are we provoking the Lord to jealous anger? Are we stronger than he?
I think it would be a great idea to talk to a priest, maybe a younger one about this issue… they’ll be able to help as well as understand the situation. Also, like someone else suggested, look up conversion stories of other Wiccans.
FWIW, I think it best to focus on giving her a good, positive Catholic formation. Of course this will involve asking questions and listening to her, finding out where she’s coming from and what she’s thinking, etc. But focus more on the Catholic than on the Wicca. Since she loves to read, try sharing a variety of books with her. Peter Kreeft has some nonfiction books that are excellent for the budding intellectual, like The Best Things in Life, the Handbook of Christian Apologetics, The Journey, and Back to Virtue. Or she might get into some good novels, like Chesterton’s Father Brown mysteries or a classic like Quo Vadis. Don’t neglect spiritual life, though. I think many young people look for spiritual sustenance elsewhere because adults barely teach them anything about prayer beyond grace before meals. She might really benefit from something like Romano Guardini’s The Art of Praying, Anthony Bloom’s Beginning to Pray, or Way of a Pilgrim. I know she’s young, but she sounds very thoughtful, and may actually be ready to try some more adult things.