It is often debated whether the mainstream media in regards to entertainment is a threat to groups of modern paganism. We've all seen the worst of it; some depressed loner suddenly happens to be sporting a thick leather-bound "book of spells" and an obscenely large pentacle, who happens to jump out and rant about her new exciting "lifestyle" at the slightest provocation, with "nothing you norms can do about it". As they will attest, they're apparently far more capable then the rest of us, with that "new magick stuff" and apparently "some of that crap works", to quote directly.
If you have not seen this, I recommend these pre-existing nodes: IWS and MPS. Now, in understanding the problem entirely, let's set some basic facts down, in no particular order:
1. Believe it or not, teenagers seem to be quite obsessed with how they are viewed by others.
2. Most traditions of paganism do not proselytize beyond posting vacancy in an open group on a bulletin board.
3. When young impressionable kids view media such as The Craft, Harry Potter, or Charmed, their first thought does not involve a yearning for a religious experience.
4. The producers of said media are in no way interested in the effects of people viewing their shows, it is their objective to keep people hooked with the "mystery and danger".
5. Children are the future, and if all of them want to be "instant witches", there is none.
6. When people know few from a particular social group, and they meet one belonging to it, they generally think they have a clear impression.
So, in other words, when Johny and Ema see the lush, exciting world of witchcraft, they decide to become RavenStarHowler and SilverDemonMaster. They spread word of their new life to everyone else, destroying the integrity of actual practitioners entirely.(As lets face it, you meet 20 people, all instant witches, you will probably loathe witchcraft entirely) Should they even pursue real study from a temple, they will most likely become bored, dismiss the group for being "unimaginative" as they are, and probably not return. Existing groups begin to atrophy, and individuals are met with complete disappointment, as they no longer have an easy out for all their problems.
This is not always the case, as the outcome is often different, depending on the original motivation when one comes to study witchcraft in general:
1. They saw, or read about it in a work of fiction, and you are craving excitement or novelty to liven up their lives.
2. Even worse, some will actually pretend, or practice witchcraft steriotypically, so that others will be offended, or at least pay them some attention, regardless if they know they are in error.
3. Whilst studying a related topic or during random exposure, intrigue got the better of them, and even if not committed to long-term study, they at the very least do no harm to the community.
4. They find that witchcraft is attached to aligns with their beliefs. This goes without saying as the most likely long-term practitioners.
This is of course not to say people attracted for the wrong reasons cannot become genuinely interested, it is often not so. Normally, people described by 3 or 4 would be enough to expand the community gradually, by the populous is already saturated with the first two. Those normally attracted to the traditions are put off by the impressions they get from those posing as part of the community.
In the interests of reversing the problem, a number of steps can be taken with even the least effort:
1. When encountering someone expressing an interest, be sure they know what it is they are getting into, and that thrill seeking is not a valid reason to pursue religious or spiritual goals.
2. When encountering someone afflicted by the negative impression of a poser, be certain they know how it is that many may mislead the public.
3. It never hurts to recommend some reading.
4. When conflicted with "I read it", make the poor learning quality of all the RavenWolfs known, and that they should consult multiple sources.
With awareness of the problem, and a little initiative on the part of the community, we can reverse the negative trend affecting our youth and our community.
Lastly, some goals I think we should all strive for:
1. Pressure authors and tv stations to always mention the material does not accurately describe the real nature of the subject matter presented, and that it is for entertainment only.(although this seems silly, the number of preteens "educated" by charmed is alarming)
2. Convey a clear sense of witchcraft so that it is pursued only for the right reasons.
3. Bring dignity back to the community by removing misconceptions generated by those attracted for the wrong reasons.