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What is a Fluffy Bunny?


I've put off writing this page for years, as I have always seen this site as being about Wicca, not about myself. However, I receive periodic requests for personal information, and the reasons for the questions are sound: people want to know the perspective from which this site comes and with what sort of authority I am speaking.

The Academic Stuff:
I received my B.A. in history in 1997 from Kalamazoo College, where I focused on Medieval and Renaissance Europe, particularly England. I received my M.A. in history from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee in 2005. My primary interests were Renaissance Europe, Wicca, and modern Paganism. My thesis was Finding God in the World: Approaches of the Renaissance Occult Philosophers to the Nature and Value of Matter, an extremely pretentious-sounding title that was needed to express the complexity of the subject. I have had one article academically published:

Noble, Catherine. "From Fact to Fallacy: The Evolution of Margaret Alice Murray's Witch-Cult." The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies, Vol. 7.1. May, 2005.

My undergraduate experiences taught me two important things regarding my religion. First, people were claiming a lot of stuff about Wicca that was just outright wrong. Second, you can be intensely critical of your own religion and still find it a valid system of belief: my Medieval professor was absolutely scathing when it came to the development of the Christian Church, yet he also enjoyed weekend retreats with Catholic monks.

Christian Experience:
Religiously, I was raised as a devout Christian Methodist. Several times that fact has caused people to exclaim, "well, THAT explains why you left!" But to this day I do not find my mother's congregation to be in any way extreme, fundamental, or otherwise scary. (They are not the "no drinking, no smoking, no dancing, no having fun" brand of Methodist.) I really, really believed. And then I became a teenager, and I started being more critical in my thinking. I wanted a reason to believe instead of simply following what I was raised to do, and I kept not finding adequate answers.

My largest intellectual issue was the concept of one universal truth, that Christians were right and everyone else was wrong. How could we, as mortals, be so absolutely sure? And why would God keep The Truth a secret from the entire world for most of its existence? That seemed rather more arbitrary and spiteful than the very same entity I was being taught about!

I've twice had Christians tell me that they couldn't understand why someone raised Christian would want to join another religion. That attitude is exactly one of the reasons. If any religion was that sublimely perfect the entire world would have adopted it by now.

I spent a long time researching religions. For a while I even considered myself an atheist, but no matter how much I yearned for the proof that I wasn't getting, the idea that there was nothing beyond the physical, provable world didn't seem to add up anymore than what I was raised to believe in church.

Wiccan Background:
I read up on Wicca for several years before I dedicated myself. Even then I sometimes jokingly termed myself an "agnostic Wiccan" - Wicca was the only religion that I studied that made any sense at all to me, but I still had my doubts because I still didn't have my proof. I was young and ignorant - only seventeen or eighteen years old. In retrospect, I should have waited even longer than I did for my dedication. I never did get my proof in any scientific sense, but I did mature past the point of needing it.

I learned entirely from books. It's probably not the best way to learn, but for many of us it is our only option. Without a teacher or at least fellow Wiccans, I had no one to bring questions to or discuss issues. More than ten years after my dedication, I'm still a Solitary Eclectic. Like many others, I do not encounter Wiccans face-to-face very often, and those that I have met have been overwhelmingly fluffy. In fact, my experiences with Fluffdom eventually got so bad that I found myself adding disclaimers to my religion, "I'm Wiccan, but don't worry, I don't hate men/Christians/omnivores/etc." I considered that if all these things were effectively part of the definition of Wicca, then maybe I should stop calling myself Wiccan.

And then I realized that was a really, really, stupid way of going about things. Wicca was not originally fluffy. Why should it now be defined by our worst behaving members? Yet the fluffy factor is increasing exponentially, in large part because of the Internet. People are blindly copy-and-pasting, without sensitivity to texts' original context, and people can publish any nonsense they want without an editor or publisher sifting out the chaff.

So I started a website. It helped me to further develop my own beliefs as I forced myself to justify in writing everything I believed. I also quickly learned that there are a lot of people like me: feeling that they must be the last sane Wiccan in the world, ecstatic every time a kindred soul can be found, even if it is only on the Internet. I thought the site would be hated, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

I don't expect readers to agree with everything on this site. Blindly believing me is no better than blindly believing those I consider to be bad authors. I don't want people to agree. I just want people to think. If they disagree, I want it to be because they can form a logical counter-argument, not just because "Author So-and-So said it." I think we need more definition. At the very least, we need more personal definition: there are a frightening number of "Wiccans" who cannot explain in even basic terms what they believe, much less why they describe themselves as Wiccan! Of course, I would like people to agree with me, but that might not be the case. But when a new idea is put forth, one of two things happens: people think it is stupid and ignore it, or people agree with it and start passing it along to others. The good idea therefore eventually becomes a standard essentially through democracy. The bad idea is critiqued, (possibly even convincing the original author of an error in judgment), probably mocked for a bit, and tossed to the side. I can't change the world, but if I can put forth a logical argument, then the world can change itself.

© Catherine Noble Beyer, 2002 - 2011   *     Awards