As I have mentioned in a couple of other places on this site, there is and always has been a great deal of concern regarding Cults throughout the world. While Wicca, Paganism and Witchcraft are clearly Spiritual Belief systems and a way of life instead of "Cults," there are some out there who do seek power and desire to manipulate or control others for their own gain.
As is the case in all walks of life, there really isn't a way to block or keep these types from infiltrating the Pagan, Wicca and Witchcraft community. I suppose that in some way's we are even more prone to it than other groups because that type of person generally has a limited grasp on reality and probably believes that following the Old Way's will offer them the ability to master the outlandish and ridiculous skills and powers that Hollywood has led some to believe Witches posess.
When your comfort level with the concepts of the Pagan path have grown to the point where you are certain that this is the lifestyle you wish to follow, you will undoubtedly wish to share that fellowship and comradery with others of like mind and spirit. To avoid being drawn into a group where the intent is less than honorable, there are a couple of things that may assist you in avoiding contact with the nuts out there.
The first and most important thing is to listen to your Spirit Twin, Guide, Little Voice, Gut Feeling or whatever you choose to call it. Most of us have found that this inner voice is rarely wrong and you "WILL" know when something simply does not feel right. If you get that uneasy feeling about someone or a group, back or run away as quickly as possible.
When you initially make contact with someone, especially here on the internet, you have a great advantage in that you can limit your contact to relatively anonymous contact through e-mail. While this is not always fool proof, and there are some great deceivers out there. This does offer you some protection. Exchange mail withholding all personal information until you are absolutely certain there are no safety risks. If someone keeps pressuring you for personal information, break off all contact with them immediately. If they persist in bothering you after you politely tell them you no longer wish contact with them, contact your ISP and lodge a formal complaint giving this persons e-mail address and their host name. There are federal laws regarding electronic stalking and harassment, something of this nature would qualify for assistance from various federal agencies in getting that person to leave you alone.
Finally, Issac Bonewits developed a small questionnaire in 1979 (Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame) that you can use which will help your inner voice when determining if an individual or group poses above average risk. That questionnaire is provided here with his permission as well as a link to his web site for your further information and studies.
Be Well, Be Safe, and Many Blessings!
It should be pointed out that the ABCDEF is founded upon both modern psychological theories about mental health and personal growth, and my many years of participant observation and historical research into minority belief systems. Those who believe that relativism and anarchy are as dangerous to mental health as absolutism and authoritarianism, could (I suppose) count groups with total scores nearing either extreme (high or low) as being equally hazardous. As far as dangers to physical well-being are concerned, however, both historical records and current events clearly indicate the direction in which the greatest threats lie. This is especially so since the low-scoring groups usually seem to have survival and growth rates so small that they seldom develop the abilities to commit large scale atrocities even had they the philosophical or political inclinations to do so.
The Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame
Factors: Low - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 - High
Copyright © 1979 - 1998 c.e., Isaac Bonewits. This text file may be freely distributed on the net provided no editing is done, the version number (if any) is retained and this notice is included.