Ok people. Rant time.
So I was in my favourite Pagan shop yesterday and I happened to overhear a conversation between a customer and one of the senior members of staff which turned my blood cold.
It went something like this:
"I'm really interested in all this crystal and herb stuff. Do you have anything which would help with [insert ailment here]?"
"Oh! Yes of course. Because you know, life is all to do with the natural cycles and rhythms of the Earth. Try this. And please don't go to the doctor. They're terrible, they'll just give you one awful drug which causes terrible side effects so you'll have to go on another awful drug and that will cause side effects too and so on. There's no need when you can manage it all naturally! And these really do work, I can guarantee it. It's amazing. Use these."
This conversation really perturbed me and made me really quite angry. I mean, ok yes you might believe in the healing power of crystals or herbs. That's great. But for somebody who was representing that shop to point blank tell a customer not to go to the doctors is horrifying!
A) herbs can have just as many dangerous or unpleasant side effects as proper medication.
B) medication quite often contain some herb, and is really just an advancement on the original herbal medicine.
C) at least medication has scientific studies done in great numbers to back it up and is being prescribed by someone with proper medical training.
It drives me mad when people go on about how untrustworthy doctors are and how their medication is evil. It's ridiculous and it's the talk of people who can't be bothered to stay the course and see whether they can find a medication that works for them. Herbalists in these shops and the people on the street or even your friends who recommend herbs or crystals to treat these things in 99% of cases know F all about medicine, haven't studied medicine or human anatomy for the TEN YEARS it takes to become a practising doctor and have some blind prejudice which is completely uncalled for. For every one person cured by herbal remedies, probably a hundred others can thank conventional medicine for their recovery. Yes, the first medication might not work, maybe even the tenth medication might not work, but usually you find one that does work and then it's plain sailing. It's exactly the same with herbs!
To be honest, I really hope one day that somebody follows their advice, dies, and makes it clear that the herbalist is to blame. Hell, I'll do it!
Conventional medicine is not brain washing. Telling people that doctors are evil and medication does not work IS brain washing. Idiots.
The whole point of magic is not that it is a cure-all for everything in your life. Any good Witch, when confronted with an issue... say drug dependency, depression, or a dodgy knee - will first and foremost recommend practical steps. You should NEVER rely on magic to fix these things. Any Witch worth their salt will tell you to first seek medical advice, take a holiday to get away from the stress, cut the stress factors out of your life, find someone to talk to, rest your knee, support it... and then maybe do a spell or take some herbal remedy to help. You have to help yourself before you look to higher powers. Anybody who thinks otherwise is, quite frankly, stupid.
I don't think I'll be going back to that shop, which is a real shame it is was my favourite. But "my good opinion once lost is lost forever."
We've had some applications from folks over the last few months who seem not to return when they find we don't do what they want us to do. So the mods thought it would be useful if we made it fairly clear what we can do on the forum, and what we can't - especially as non-members can read this forum before joining, so it might help them avoid disappointment. ;)
We can't do the following for you (though we might be able to offer some guidance on how to work at it and good books to read to learn about it):
find you your path or tell you what your path is or should be. Although there are very many pre-defined pagan paths, such as Religio Romana, Heathenry, Wicca, Kemeticism, Druidry, CR, Hellenismos etc, the great majority of pagans do not follow a predefined path, and work out their own spirituality within an eclectic framework that suits them.
find you a coven or grove or hearth/kingroup. For one thing, most of us are not in such a group ourselves. For another, participation in a group is a very personal thing depending on what you want from it, and we can’t tell you what kind of group you would feel most comfortable in
enable you to have a relationship with a god. Not all of us acknowledge the existence of gods; and those who do, don't always agree on how to interact with them.
teach you any magical skill. Again, we don't all use magic and some don't even believe in it
We encourage you to do your own research. We have been around for over a decade and in that time have covered many – but not all! – areas of discussion. Do have a look and see if your query has already been asked – our search function is excellent. We know that when you’re new, you will have questions about magick, about gods, about everything else from crystals to hexing – so do have a look and see what other people have thought about this over the years. If a thread interests you, feel free to resurrect it.
This is one of the most welcoming and informative pagan groups on the internet - possibly the most. We achieve that because:
we have a very wide spread of pagan religions represented here, and very many experienced and intelligent pagans whose spirituality is their own. Not all are practicing witches, and some belong to recon religions. We may even have a couple of practicing Wiccans! We certainly have some ex-Wiccans.
we have a wide spread of relationships with gods. Some members are atheists. Some are duotheists, or pantheists or polytheists or monolatrists - and every shade in between.
we practice light touch moderation which attempts to retain a sense of humour, but we will come down hard on personal abuse of members, or general abuse along discriminatory lines
we encourage intelligent debate - but this does mean that other people may become interested in your response and ask you how you formed your opinion This may mean you are challenged as to the foundation of any claims you make, or people may disagree with you. Please remember that in such cases, it is not you who is being challenged, but your opinion. We are all subject to having our views poked at: it is how we learn and is valuable for that reason.
we can offer you a mentor to help you learn your way around a pagan forum and how to engage in debates on pagan issues. Our mentors are experienced in their path and have been on the site for a long time. (They will not act as your tutor in your path, but they can help you develop confidence as part of a forum) Please contact a Moderator – or a Mentor direct – if you are interested in this