Kaatryn MacMorgan-Douglas
The collected works of author, educator and gadfly, Kat MacMorgan.
Intellectual Integrity
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 outsider. 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 combination.
Let's make a deal, readers.....
I'll try to maintain a high level of intellectual integrity, and so will you....
Deal? Deal!
Kat



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 is 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 sources. 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 sparkle.