Contrary to internet postings, a group of witches and warlocks is not planning a blood ritual in Floyd County over the Fourth of July weekend.
The event was posted all over the internet, including craigslist.com. The satanic ceremonies were supposedly going to take place on 18 acres of land owned by a Maryland couple.
The ritual was supposedly going to involve animal sacrifices and group sex. With the help of the FBI, Floyd County Sheriff’s Investigator Jeff Dalton has spent the last month researching the two land owners. It turned out they were the victims of this charade.
Even though there won’t be a Wiccan festival in Floyd this summer, deputies will be on hand just in case there are people who didn’t get the message that it’s a hoax.
"It turned out they were the victims of this charade." Perhaps, but I’ll argue the fact that the word Wiccan was a much bigger victim. I get that maybe the people who put together the fake festival may have used the words Satanic and Wiccan interchangeably (I can’t locate any of the original "event" postings), but the press? Come on guys, Wicca is a nationally recognized religion. Do you think this would be how Wiccans normally celebrate? Everyone missed the part that it’s all about animal sacrifices, group sex, and Satan? Get real. And by the way, thanks for not taking even two seconds to point out that hey, um, Wiccans DON’T DO THAT!
How are we ever going to all get along when even the press won’t take a moment to point out that Wiccans aren’t the same as Satanists? I’m not saying that it’s the job of the press to educate everyone about different faiths, but how about behaving responsibly? How does a Wiccan in Floyd County feel knowing that apparently he or she is the same as a Satanist in the eyes of their community news team? Better still, how safe does that same Wiccan feel knowing that their neighbors have now been "educated" that Wiccans do such socially taboo things?
I contacted Lady Damorea, the High Priestess of Merry Meet Temple in Floyd County (www.merrymeettemple.org), and asked for her thoughts.
I have written to WDBJ7 about the story. I told them that I am Wiccan and reside in Floyd County. I also stated that I felt let down and disrespected by the fact that they obviously had not done their own research. If they had, they would have been able to let the Floyd community know that they have nothing to fear from Wiccans who adhere to the teachings of the religion. I also suggested the "Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca" by Kerr Cuhulain and the website called "Religious Tolerance" which is located at http://www.religioustolerance.org/. I told them that they had failed as journalists since they did nothing to dispel the untruths contained within the original advertisement for the Festival or to alleviate the fears it caused. Hopefully, they will do much better if the opportunity ever arises.
Now that all that has been said, let’s take a moment to catch our collective breaths. Sigh. I don’t like being a snitch and I hate being an aggressor. There is just so much that is being misunderstood every day about different religious beliefs. Religion can be scary, especially if it’s different than yours. Faith can be scary, especially when it manifests itself differently than yours does. The world is getting smaller every day and we have to learn about our neighbors, and more importantly we need to learn to respect our neighbors. In this case, respect means not implying that the rituals of the Wiccan faith are Satanic blood rituals. This kind of blunder is so very small, but it’s a thread that is helping weave the tapestry of religious relations in our country.
Oh yeah, and you, the dumb ass that started all this with your prank, get a hobby.
Update: Lady Damorea just received a response from Keith Humphry, a reporter and anchor with WBDJ7.
We’ve received several messages similar to yours from various people scattered around the country. I think yours may have been the only locally-generated one.
I thought we made it abundantly clear in the story that this "festival" was a vindictive hoax, perpetrated by someone with a grudge against the land owners. But I am persuaded that the point was not made strongly enough.
Would you consider an interview to underscore the fact that this hoax does not reflect Wiccan beliefs and practices?
I’m pleased to say that Lady Damorea has accepted, she was interviewed May 9, 2007