Everywhere I turn in the Pagan community, someone is being derided as a "Fluff bunny", or a Playgan. These are the "White light-ers", the "Baby Pagans", the "Weekend Witches"... and they're getting hell for their viewpoints. Non-Wiccan Pagans tend to view most Wiccans as useless magicians, and whiney religious New-Agers... but even other Wiccans piss on the Fluff bunnies.
I'll admit, I've wanted to slap some of the worst cases I've encountered. I'm only human! But I am disheartened by the reaction of "Hardcores" to the poor little Fluffies. Too many Ultra-Mega-Kickass-Damn-Near-Godlike (tm) Witches make a point of laughing loudly whenever a Fluffie opens his/her mouth, or pouncing on a newbie to tell him/her *exactly* why he or she is so wrong. Correction of a mistake is fine, and pointing out bits of wisdom is a good thing...but more often than not, this "correction" takes the form of harsh criticism. It seems like the Ultra Witch is overcompensating.
And what's so wrong with being a Fluffie? Their naiveté can be their greatest ally. Most of them are quite happy with simplistic theology and magic theory, and if it works for them, what's the big deal? Not everyone needs to be schooled in the arcane arts of what-the-crap, and not everyone needs to put a name to what they're doing. If holding a purple rock and chanting "Universal love" while envisioning white light makes them happy, good! A happy, peaceful outlook is just as important as knowing what gnosis is. So what if they can't "properly" work magick? If they needed to, they would have worked their asses off learning how.
People learn what they need, in any religion or situation. A college student will learn the formulae they need to pass Calculus, and not bother with the stuff for Physical Chemistry. They don't get pissed on for this, it's acceptable. It's understood that if they need to learn more in-depth material, they'll learn it later. Why is this unacceptable in Wicca? A college student may never learn anything more than Algebra and not be shamed by fellow students, but a Wiccan will be detested by others forever if he or she takes more than a year learning the basics.
And God/dess forbid that a Wiccan would be perfectly happy with *just* the basics! There is a huge push in the Pagan community to be clergy, or a ceremonial magickian. Yes, it's a good idea to know and do as much as possible in and for your religion, but not everyone needs or wants high-level training. Yes, Fluffies can be annoying as hell, but if they're going to change, they'll grow out of it in their own time. Bitching at them isn't going to help in the least, no matter how superior it might make you feel.
For all of you Hardcores, still your fingers and shut your mouths. I want you to think hard for a moment. Think back, and remember your first year as a Pagan. If you kept a journal or Book of Shadows, take a minute to read the first few entries. Can you remember specific things you thought or actually said to other people regarding your new faith? Are you blushing yet? Remember the dumb things you took as Honest Truth (tm)? Did you get bitched at by Hardcores in those days? Did it help? If you think it did, you're either the one out of seven hundred that bitching helps, or you're not being completely honest.
The point is, Hardcores, that you were once Fluffies as well. You made the same mistakes then that they are now, and you had to work through them yourself. You wouldn't be an effective Witch if you didn't. The current Fluffies have to do the same.
All of the above has been said before, and I'm sure that all of you Hardcores are either bored to tears with this regurgitation of old hat, or nodding your head sagely like this has actually percolated through your hard head. Well, here comes some stuff that I haven't seen anyone else write down.
Hardcores, you are some of the most insufferable louts I've ever met. Most of you consider yourselves to be the end-all-be-all of the Craft, and honestly believe that you know damn near everything there is to know about magic use and theology, no matter how much lip service you give to "always something new to learn". Too many of you adopt an air of superiority, lording your "sacred knowledge" over whomever you can. Yes, you've worked for years to get where you are. I appreciate that. However, until you honest-to-God/dess realize that you can never know everything, or even most of anything, you can not be a good Witch. Not as an academic theory, and not as a sort-of-idea that flits around your head every now and then, but as an integral truth of the universe.
Have many of you Hardcores met an actual Elder? I mean an Elder, not some thirty-five year old who claims to have been a Witch for thirty years. Elders are quiet people. They are almost always listening when in a Craft discussion, and when asked even the most trivial question, they answer seriously. They don't bitch at newbies, and they don't laugh at them (in front of them, anyway. They probably have a few chuckles later, in private...how can they help it?). Elders also usually think damn near everything is funny, and they're right. It's a pretty safe bet that as much amusement you get out of Fluffies, Elders get out of you.
Compare your behavior to that of an Elder. You should be ashamed of yourselves. You have a model of what you are working for, and instead of trying to emulate that model, you seem to be working for the opposite. Hardcores, you like to think of yourselves as wise, caring people that others can turn to for help and advice, someone that Fluffies and newbies can look up to. Instead, most of you are abrasive, uncaring, and manipulative. Wiccan hardcores, what happened to Harm None? You know better than to think this only applies to physical or magical harm. You of all people should realize that this applies to word, thought, and deed! Non-Wiccan Hardcores, I don't know what ethics guide you, but I'm certain that more often than not you have a guide like the Rede. If you can't do a simple thing like sticking to your ethics when dealing with text-based interactions, you shouldn't be doing anything except working out your problems. Your ethics are an extension of your Will, and if you're having problems playing nice, you don't need to work magic. Control yourselves!
How can beating down someone else's beliefs make you a stronger person? Does laughing at a newbie bestow magical powers? No, all it does is teach newbies that to be a good Witch, you must put down everyone else's ideas. Elders are notoriously hard to find, unfortunately, so you Hardcores are the most visible examples a Fluffie and newbie have. Remember this, and behave yourselves! Realizing this, and acting accordingly, is what puts you on the path to becoming an Elder. Quit bitching and whining when you don't get respect, and be someone the rest of us can respect.