On Intellectual Integrity
What is intellectual integrity?
Intellectual Integrity is about being honest. Honest with yourself,
honest with your sources, and honest to your readers. Many people in
the Wiccan community, myself included, feel that Intellectual Integrity
is under-stressed by many new Wiccans, and by a select group of authors
and publishing houses that cater to them. The MacMorgan Design team,
including myself, feel that intellectual integrity is the most
important thing Wicca needs right now, and we are striving to maintain
a high level of it.
It is not easy.
A large number of the source books available for Wiccans are flawed.
Where possible, and more often than not, we checked our sources with
quality history books and other academic sources. This does not mean we
are not flawed, but we hope it means we are less flawed than some.
This attempt to embrace intellectual integrity goes further than trying
to be accurate and freely taking the blame when we are not, because it
also applies to Wiccan belief itself.
Wicca is a modern faith, created from ancient and modern sources.
Though at times it borrows aspects of Celtic culture, and other
indigenous european cultures, it is not sprung of these cultures, but
very much the bastard stepchild of these cultures. Just as some
cultures reject their bastards and stepchildren, some people following
reconstructed religions of these cultures hate Wicca for the parts of
it that evolved from their faith. Others laugh and feel the fact that
Wicca "borrows" in such a way only demonstrates the superiority of
their faiths, some don't care, and some, frankly, worry that we Wiccans
are killing their faith. They have some reason to worry. Many Wiccans
do not follow a path of intellectual integrity. They do not honor the
sources of their beliefs, and many, including some authors, outright
lie about the cultures they borrow from. They act like the many people
who attacked the indigenous cultures and led to the need to reconstruct
the natural religions of their people -just as horned gods became satan
in the eyes of Christianity, real deities with responsibilites to their
people and active relationships with them become mere "aspects of the
all" to many Wiccans or interchangable faces of male and female power.
These Wiccans interpret these deities in modern ways, which is not the
problem, the problem lies in the belief that these interpretations ARE
the truth, and often the insistance that reconstructionists conform to
their new, improved truth.
You cannot imagine the hubris those who are dedicated to their gods
perceive in those who have the gall to claim that their gods, which
they have worshipped for thousands of years, actually are something
else altogether, and that it took the practitioners of a modern
religion less than 50 years to come up with the real truth. I am a
Wiccan, and such things disgust me! Still other Wiccans follow paths of
ignorance, deliberate or otherwise, and spread falsehoods about these
other cultures, or steal sacred myths and rites for their "neatness".
Authors create fantasy versions of Celtic and Greek cultures, call them
Wicca, and teach them as history.
The proper practice of Wicca requires intellectual integrity. Know the
sources for your beliefs, respect the cultures that you are a part of,
and, frankly, if you must honor a god or a rite that is sacred and
exclusive to a people, do it within those people, with their
permission. Many, though not all, polytheistic religions do not feel
that their gods must be worshipped in one manner alone, or by one
people, and it is our way to honor those gods as we are called to, but
it is not our place to claim a heritage we do not have, do not claim
your great-great grandfather made a pact with the great blue dragon of
Gartersport to protect all of his ancestors unless he did, and do not
follow the religion of the great blue dragon that protects the
Gartersportians unless you are a Gartersportian. Let the
Gartersportians decide who is, and who isn't of their people, not an
In other words, do not practice those rites that require a bloodline,
ancestry or ritual to follow unless you meet the requirements. It is
not racist, or classist, or ethnocentric for a people to declare that
you must be of their people to attend their rites. It is not bigoted
for a family to declare that power lies in their bloodline and those
not of that bloodline can't practice the familial magickal tradition
(FMT) of that family. It is not fair, or right, to claim a lineage you
do not have, nor to steal the rites of people to make them "yours."
Let me repeat, for those that do not understand, that SOME gods have
historically ALWAYS been followed by many groups of people, in many
different ways. You may play with, adapt, alter and change the sacred
rites of these gods freely, as they have always been worshipped in that
manner. OTHER GODS, however, have always had a sacred people and a
sacred relationship with those people, there are vows, covenants, and
contracts between these people and their gods, and if you claim to be a
part of those contracts, you better have proof...
That being said, it is up to the indigenous followers of these gods to
decide the veracity of your belief in their gods, but it doesn't affect
you if they think you are a nut. Speaking as a dedicant of a Hellenic
god, I remind reconstructionists of the fate of the Greeks that sacked
the Temples of Troy. Though worshipped in different ways, they were
assuredly the same gods, and the punishment was the same for those who
sacked the Trojan temples as it would've been if those temples had been
in Athens, Sparta or Corinth. My gods, however, have always been
worshipped in multiple ways, by a diverse group of people. Let me
repeat, again, this is not so with all gods. For those of us who do
follow the new religion of the old gods, it is dishonest to claim that,
since we may be called to serve in different ways, those who follow
time honored ways are wrong. It is unlikely a god who has had thousands
of years of relationships with his/her people has changed completely
for your benefit. Be honest, with yourself and others. This may mean a
bit more work on your part. Maybe you need to research Krishna and Thor
before you go around calling yourself a dedicant of either! Maybe you
need to do research on the names you hear whispered in your ear at
night before you declare yourself to be in divine rapport with them!
This intellectual integrity spreads to all aspects of Wicca. We
have no need of lying, of calling it an ancient religion when it is
not, a celtic religion when it is not, and the like. Call it what it
is-the religion that speaks to your soul. Follow it for what it is, not
for what you think should be added to it, and make it your honor and
your job to find out the truth about what you worship and how. If you
choose to worship in a completely modern way, so be it, but don't do it
out of ignorance or laziness, do it because the ancient way is not what
you are called to. Don't just say "I do it this way because I feel like
it," instead, know that if a practitioner of the original rite came up
to you and asked why you worshipped in this manner you could give a
detailed explanation of why you worship as you do and also why you
don't worship as he does. If you do not know, go find out! In addition,
don't feel that Wicca prevents you from following an ancient rite. For
many peoples, ancient and modern, holding multiple religions was a
common fact of life, and a person who lived their life according to the
code of one faith could follow any faith not contrary to that code in
addition to his prime belief, and attend any rites that did not violate
that belief. Wicca is primarily a code faith with some attached
mysteries, but at its core, it prevents no relationship with a god to
whom that code is not prohibited. You'd be amazed at how few gods say
you cannot follow another code, and, as long as it does not restrict
their worship, there is little reason to give it up. Some do not need
or want that code and that god, but for others they are an obvious
Let's make a deal, readers.....
I'll try to maintain a high level of intellectual integrity, and so will you....
One Author's Promise
I promise, I swear by all I hold dear, to represent my religion with
TRUTH and HONESTY as my guide. I will not alter content to reflect what
is popular, nor dumb-down my words to appeal to an imagined audience of
semi-literate teenagers. If kids want to read my words, they will read
them in the same English as adults.
I swear, as a parent, that I will NEVER use this forum, or any other,
to encourage acts of untruth or actions against the parent-child
relationship. To minors, I have a simple statement:If your folks do not
approve of you learning Wicca-WAIT.
I will not inflate my words with "spells" or "magick," because these
things are base acts that are uneeded in a purely spiritual life. Those
that wish to learn such things are encouraged to skip the phoney
Wiccanized Magick available in the bookstore and study Ceremonial
magick from those that practice it.
I WILL NEVER commit the crime of revisionism. Wicca is a modern
religion that is an amalgum of old and new beliefs. When I speak of
beliefs modern and ancient I will do my damndest to be clear on which
As it says in the Oath of practice of UEW, if I find I have taught someone wrong I will do my best to teach them facts.
I will not plagerize, or lie about the sources for my statements.
Everything that is not first hand will be attributed properly, unless I
am bound by oath or trade secret to do otherwise.
If I am speaking of that I have not experienced, I will use the words
of experts, research the validity of claims, and consult multiple
Lastly, I will stand, alone if need be, until the words above seem like
a silly statement of the obvious, because no one calling themselves
Wiccan Clergy would dare do otherwise.
Kaatryn MacMorgan, 2002
Footnote to one author's promise and intellectual integrity statement: (AKA:If you cannot quote me accurately, don't quote me at all.)
I have nothing against spells, or magic(k), but I do have something
against using them to inflate one's words and make a person seem big
and important. They are things, like playing sports or being in a
theatre troope, that do not have any innate spirituality involved in
them. Far better authors than I tackled magic(k) and magical systems,
and I have no need to use them, like so much glitter, to make my work