Let's talk alternative religion. Now, for a change, I'm not directing anything at Christians...you guys are off the hook today. ;) No, today, I'm bitching at the pagans.
First off, ignoring the grammatical stupidity of it (I'll get to that in a minute), let me just start by saying that my respect level for anyone that says they are 'pagan' is already pretty low. This is due to the fact that most of them are such because either they have rebelled against their family and felt that Christianity was stuffy and boring, or they thought it was 'cool' to be something different. Did they do any research (whether factual or soul-searching) to find a religion that fit them? No. Thus, right off the bat, they annoy me.
Now, let's check terminology. I can't swing a dead cat sometimes without hitting someone who claims that they are 'pagan' or 'a witch'. Those people...man, I want to do something terrible to them with a fork. Right off the bat, they have the worst possible definition of themselves. "Pagan" is defined as 'One who is not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew, especially a worshipper of a polytheistic religion' or 'One who has no religion'. Now, the implication here is that the definition is from the point of view of a member of these major religions, hence, 'pagan' is a term used by the Christian (or Jew or Muslim) for the non-believer. It is NOT a religion in and of itself...so why would someone claim they were 'pagan'? As for 'no religion', that's atheism, and results in the same fallacy. Therefore, anyone who refers to themselves as 'pagan' is showing that they don't actually have the slightest clue what they are talking about.
So, now that I've pissed off the 'pagans' (which is fine, since they obviously don't know who to pray to to bitch about me), let's talk about 'witches'. At this point, you can pretty much assume that anyone that claims to be a 'witch' is a believer in Wicca. I'm quite aware that I'll be stepping on some toes here, but so be it. Wiccans (those with a brain in their head,, as opposed to the mass of them who appear to just be drooling monkeys) will give you a whole schpiel about how Wicca is basically a resurgence of the Celtic traditions, and then tell you the whole deal about the tenets of 'harm none' and so on and so forth. Now, the trick here is that "Wicca" isn't but 50-some years old, mostly created by the writings of Gerald Gardner. Very little of the actual Celtic traditions are known, to this day, however, one thing we DO happen to know is that human sacrifice DID happen...'harm none', indeed. So, anyone that gives you the 'Wicca is actually old Celtic' story has no clue what they are talking about. AT BEST, Wicca was created by merging a few ancient Celtic beliefs, deity structure, and seasonal days of celebration with modern material from ceremonial magick, the Masonic Order, etc. Go ahead, do the research.
Now, am I tearing into alternative religions? Well, DUH, no, of course not. If that's what you've gotten from this, then you weren't reading closely enough, go back and try again. What I'm bitching about here is those individuals who are 'alternative', not because it was right, but because they it's trendy. For every group of these morons out there, I know someone who is a true follower of a lesser known religion, and knows it's history, practices, and beliefs as well as any Jew knows the Torah, any Muslim the Qur'an, or any Christian the Bible...and who does NOT refer to their religion as 'pagan', but by it's proper nomenclature; this is how it should be. After all, why would you NOT be proud of your belief?