Sunday, November 2, 2008

That Old Black Magic, or " A Long Hard Look at Wiccan Ethics" Part I

"Saul and the Witch of Endor" Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Now that I have your undivided attention, I'd like to address that most taboo of subjects within the Wiccan and Magical community. As Azzerac deftly pointed out, we have suffered as of late from an extremely Westernized, watered down ethical system poorly extrapolated from Mahayana Buddhism that has little to nothing to do with Wicca, Witchcraft, or Paganism.
Ethical and religious systems that cannot survive contact with the physical world are to put it bluntly, useless. If it doesn't meet physical and emotional needs, it is highly doubtful that it can meet the spiritual needs of its practitioners, yet another reason in a LONG list why more people are turning away from "traditional" religious ideologies.

So, black magic, then. The slightest whisper of performing bindings, curses, or what is perceived as 'controlling' magic is guaranteed to bring a gale-force sized petulant verbal slap of: "but the REDE SAYS...! Never mind that Rede doesn't mean law, but instead "good council", and is meant to be an easily remembered set of advice. Disregard that these are the same people who cannot say more than "Harm None" from memory; convinced that a coven must have "perfect love and perfect trust". That last bit of advice refers directly to the Rede, not to covens or any other group of practitioners. ( "Bide the Wiccan Rede ye must, in perfect love and perfect trust"), yet seem to entirely overlook this bit of good advice: "with a fool no season spend, lest ye be counted as his friend". Nope, just Harm None.

Part of me wonders if this isn't a nasty side effect of the "look normal for the Christians" movement of the '90's, when every author from coast to coast made sure to include a section in their article or book that we don't eat babies or wear black makeup, as if the two were synonymous! Geez, I still remember the pressure within the community to denigrate any practitioner who looked counter-culture. These were popularly perceived as newbies, or doing it for the rebellion factor. But when you meet an old school punker with a mohawk bigger than he is, that has been practicing for twenty years, well... I doubt he was still rebelling after 160 Sabbats.

The modern spillover effect: more and more high profile members of the community are actually trying to convince the Mundies that we don't cast spells! The worst bit is that real practitioners are actually starting to believe this, or at least repeat it en mass, at high volume. In an attempt to be accepted within the mainstream, the cries of 'we are all safe, suburb-living- khaki-wearing-PTA-attending-bake-sale groupies' has done nothing but water the Wiccan community into a fluffy bunny hypocrite parade that is MOCKED within not only the mainstream culture, but the metaphysical and Occult communities as well. When acquaintances learn that I'm Wiccan, its invariably followed by a long pause, and "you don't look Wiccan". It isn't just a few people. This is a wide sampling of people, of very different socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnic makeup, professions, etc. From the deep South to the Pacific Northwest, a score of Brits, a handful of Europeans, Jamaicans, Russians, and New Zealanders; it has been determined almost universally that the stereotypical Wiccan is a 400lb emotionally crippled doormat with poor hygiene.
Before you launch a tirade at me, remember I am one of you. I love my Pagans and Wiccans. I have watched this problem grow from inside the community. Let me give you some more stats. We at Lodestone & Lady's Mantle offer free classes, one of which is geared toward improving health and physical activity."Power-Walks: Magic in the Great Outdoors". To date, it has received 90 views on Witchvox. Compared to our other free class, Occult sciences 101 (454 views). Both posted at the same time, with the former being more well advertised. Goddess forbid a member of a Nature religion actually go outside, or apply their ethical system to their own bodies, or their own lives! Like I said, fluffy bunny hypocrite parade.

Those of you that insist on rubbing our noses in the Rede, or your convoluted and ill-researched version of it do not get a vote in this.

That was a huge lead-in to this: I am currently working on an article about what Wicca can learn from Hoodoo. What it all boiled down to was this. Hoodoo practitioners expect their workings to, well... work. None of this mucking about with "I move the Universe with my WILL alone, well, no, that's not right, but I can affect the universe around me with a change in consciousness. Well, a little bit. Not really. Umm.. sometimes I have dreams and stuff. Wanna see my new crystal?"
No, Hoodoo spell craft and formulas have the weight of centuries of practitioners using them because they work, in the real world, and meet physical emotional, and spiritual needs.

Wow, this has gotten to be a rather long-ish rant. To be continued on the 'morrow. :) Sleep well, my pretties!



Anonymous said...

First of all, great post and well timed too!

Being Gay AND wiccan, I've never felt the urge to look normal for anyone. I rarely admit this too for the reasons you state in your blog, but I still have a small book with spells in it that I keep "in case I need them."

Christians in general make all this fuss about their beliefs and getting right with Jesus for our own sake and all that, but have they ever thought that their prayers for "saving our souls" is just a curse in disguise?

As you know I do practice Hoodoo and yes it is effective. I recetnly ordered Utterly Wicked by D. Morrison, I'm interested in her take on the subject, but I consider Cat Yronwode's Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic the "bible" of Hoodoo.

I'd like to read your article when it's done.

Oh i'm all over the place with this comment, I really need that nap.

Carolina Dean

Lodestone and Ladys Mantle said...

:) I think we all have that little book of 'just in case'. It can get nasty, but when you need it, you REALLY need it. I think what I'm trying to say is that not everyone plays by the same rules, and expecting them to is not just stupid, but dangerous.

The past two years have really revived my interest in Hoodoo. Raised in Virginia, a lot of what I took for granted at the time as normal gets me very funny looks in magical circles these days. I mean, someone nailed a chicken head to our door when I was five.Condition oils smell as familiar and homey to me as bread and Pine-Sol smell to everyone else.

The magical ethics common to a lot of Wiccans, were, frankly, the ethics of a higher tax bracket. Then again, many Wiccans are still "playing at being a Witch".

It's pretty funny that you mention Christian cursing: There is a group calling itself Third-Wave Christianity, bent on wiping out magic and witchcraft. Their leaders have been largely instrumental in the sorcery murders in parts of Africa.


Anonymous said...

From time to time I go to Google news, and just type in the word "witch" and it still amazes me at the number of stories overseas in which some poor old woman, man or even a child has gotten murdered for simply being suspected of being a witch.

...and there are those who think that the burning times could never happen again while they're happening right now...


Patchouli Sky said...

I'm sure the Rede wasn't intended to make Wiccans seem harmless to the uninitiated, but lots of Wiccans sure glom onto that concept! Every Halloween you see stories about Wiccans who point to the Rede to demonstrate to the public that "we are just like you". Frankly, I'm not just like most other people, that's WHY I'm a Wiccan.

I think part of the problem is that many Wiccans have come from Judea/Christian backgrounds, and still have the need to embrace some kind of dogma, and use the Rede to fulfill that need.

Lodestone and Ladys Mantle said...

I agree wholeheartedly! The more we try to side with "them" instead of siding with and supporting each other, the closer we come to collapse. A house divided cannot stand, sort of thing :)