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Die Verbotenehexerei

My mind likes to jump around when I am thinking, which makes beginnings somewhat difficult and this is certainly no exception to that particular foible. Predominently,  I intended this to be included in “Salt in the Unguent” as a commentary fresh on ‘the day of’ however not only have my attempts to do so grown far beyond a reasonable size for that particular purpose, the commentary no long strictly discusses the original topic because in following some advice I was given post-“Olives of Asperity” the scope of the topic has broadened more than slightly. Originally I had intended to comment on why it was important (and radical) to be so open about enacting a curse, then my mind changed and I considered commenting on the responsibilty we have to do more to safeguard places like Palmyra using all of our talents, together, not just the ones we like to brag about to each other. It is there that the real question I wanted to ask came to mind: how have we come to share, within our own spaces, the taboos imposed upon us by a society that we are, in essence, trying to unmake?

While it is never a brilliant thing, it is occasionally pragmatic to generalise and say things such as: ‘The Community’ loosely defined as Pagans, Heathens and Polytheists are people who, in the pursuit of their religious and spiritual practices, also seek to improve the societies within which they live by opposing certain longstanding practices and carrying a broad, but constant, femminist and ecological sustainable, predominently left-wing political stance”. Generalising or not, the large majority of that statement is true whether looking at a true cross section of that ‘Community’ or taking it as de facto true simply because it is the position from which many of our internal arguments commence. However, is it possible that we have done as Dr. Who potrayed by Matt Smith did: “I got too big Dorium, too noisy…” and now exist in a space that is of our own fashioning yet privy to discernment of others?

Such questions are purely, rhetorically, hypothetical because ‘The Community’ functions in the manner of a dysfunctional Brady Family whereby when an external catalyst allows, we come togehter and in some case literally become stronger than the sum of our parts but at all other times would to outward appearances want nothing more than to violently extricate ourselves of, or otherwise do away with, the other members of the family. For someone with too much time on their hands, the similarities between the loosely described families of the deities we worship and ourselves has become quite intriguing (and at times excellent entertainment) – have John H and John B become unto Zeus and Poseidon with Jason M as their Hades or is it a stronger argument to say that Rhyd and Sam are our own Loki and Thor? To say nothing of Gwion and Phoenix who could pass for either Freyr and Freyja or Ba’al and Asherah with Sannion perfectly positioned to be a reclusive Dionysius, PSVL as Thoth and Galina worthily made Hel and Morpheus unquestionably The Morrigan.

Theoretically, one could re-assign every ‘inside voiced’ (to say nothing of the ‘loud’) commentor from ‘The Community’ and make them a deity but ultimately I would likely have to dip into our stock of ‘whispering’ commentors in order to make sure no deity was left behind, as one invariably must these days.

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There is a point however, to all of this; that being there is an unfortunate irony in that we collectively resemble any and all of the clans or families or tribes or, for lack of a better word, pantheons that we worship but only in so far as emulating their less admirable qualities – save for those rare moments of external stimuli of course: when faced with our very own Titanomachy or Fimbulwinter et. al, we have set a good precedent for banding together as a whole to guard against those things which are (more often than not) justifiably worse than our own conflicts. However. Unlike the petty, argumentative and often puerile seeming deities to whom I would equate us, we fail to measure up when it comes to living up to the rest of deal. Oðin might spend his time wandering the world, drinking mead made from the blood of other gods and hanging from trees but he remains King and still has an obligation to fulfill the responsibilities therein; more to the point though, he like all the other deities Earth can lay claim to don’t hesitate even slightly to use every skill, trick and wile to get what needs doing done. For them, that typically means messing with the dirty peasant monkey-people (better known as you and me) and often simply, sometimes quite literally, waving their hand and making it happen.

We, and often times Them as well, call this ‘Magic’ – although being the freckled, glasses wearing, red headed step-child of ‘The Community’ we don’t really call it magic so much these days. Nevertheless it continues to be a hotter topic of debate than the Australian bush after a dry spring and extreme bushfire season; opinions vary wildly from place to place and person to person as to what exactly ‘It’ is, whether there is enough focus on it or too much emphasis placed on it and virtually every other concievable facet. Most problematically of all, there are often times very good arguments in every corner which is good in terms of lively debate but detracts from the larger issue at hand – where does magic stand within ‘The Community’? It seems an almost ironic question given how prominent a role magic, and its various alternatives, has played in the lives of many of humanity’s greatest thinkers and inventors and pioneers and so forth – even to the extent where the person’s religion became unequivocally extricated from their mystic or esoteric pursuits – contrast to ourselves where the two are not so extricable. Scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, inventors, explorers; even some of the mostly truly foul and reprehensible human beings to exist have found a way of reconciling their way of life with what would otherwise appear to be irreconcilable differences, namely the mystical or esoteric. Rather ironically, it seems that we ‘The Community’ are the only ones who have trouble reconciling who we are, our faith and the mystic or esoteric. Problematically though, we are the ones who, if all of our dischordant bellowing is to be taken seriously, are supposed to be reconciling those aspects better than most.

While a genuine generalisation, it is worth noting that of the many, many religions in the world it is the collection that our community practices which should be the last place one finds the eponymous attitude or idea ‘the forbidden witchcraft’ (loosely termed to allow for more evocative German) and yet we have such a tempestuous crossing of opinions on the matter. There is a unique absurdity in hearing or reading somebody tell someone else that, in the simplest meaning, cursing is bad or that magic isn’t real or that magic is only real if we explain it with science or that you can only do magic if its actually a prayer to a deity or… The list quickly becomes prohibitive to functionally list.

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Magic is still something which many of us, myself included, find troublesome to handle in the world beyond the boundaries of these places where we are supposed to be able to ‘talk shop’ without having to stop and check every few sentences – for whatever reason. Its not for me to say whether or not that will ever change; other religions have had the time and chance to explore their mystic and esoteric elements and each has come to its own conclusion for how to come to terms with that and determine what form or forms it will take within themselves. We’re the ones who say we are a witch or a bard or a sorcerer or a shaman or priest or a wiccan.

What is the point in being those things if that which essentially defines those, the mystical and esoteric, are not a large part of ourselves – a part that we can’t even be proud of amongst ourselves much less everyone else.


Alan Evans

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A silver tongued seductee of language, consumately un-settled and mortally afflicted with fernweh, Alan Evans learns for the sake of learning and the strangers-become-companions met along the way. He pines for the gods, teaches English, learns languages, plays drums, understands people, makes love in four languages, writes and fights like only Australian grandson of an Irishwoman can and will salaciously flirt to death any ‘Wizard of Oz’ quips. Main site: Trees in the Train Station. Also contributes to The Elemental Witch.

10 Comments »

  1. Really? I had no idea that this was actually a thing in ‘The Community’ abroad. Here in Germany (where I live and grew up) there might be an argument about whether or not to use curses, energetic effects of such work etc. – but most of us would never put our athames down and prefer to be armed when in need (and we assume that athames should all be sharp to begin with). There is never a question of whether or not magic or witchcraft work, though. Of course they do! What’s the point in being a Witch without magic? Even if we define ourselves as Druid, Pagan or whatever we all assume that magic was a part of the daily life in these cultures which we try to follow. We ackowledge that there are different ways of magic and different sources of power (Goddesses, Gods, land spirits, the elemental forces, the Self, … ), but we kind of never doubt it’s effect (or at least ackowledge the doubts that do happen as remnants of our Christian and/or atheist/ ‘scientific’ upbringings).

    Obviously that’s only my perception and individual experience. The question remains: “What is the point of adopting and embracing a spirituality which comes with a certain set of ethics and assumptions (to play with) and not using it to it’s full extent to change and shape the reality we live in?” I assume I’m preaching to the choir here, but even the idea that magic could be ignores in a Pagan’s or Polytheist’s reality is kind of confusing and absurd to me.

    Well, anyone can feel free to enlighten me about why anyone would ever doubt the power of magic within a deeply magickal worldview like Paganism. 😉

    Blessings,
    Gwydion

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for commenting Gwydion! It really means a lot when someone takes the time to read and leave a comment like yours, at least to me it means a lot! I must admit that I am glad you’ve noticed this particular issue with the article because it was something I considered putting in a paragraph for but decided the article was already a bit too long.

      The short answer is best expressed as: Australian living in Japan writes article about, predominantly, American pagans which is then read by a German living in Germany…

      The most glaring caveat in writing this article is that it isn’t very well rounded in terms of the information available – while I could make a joke about how it’s always the Americans doing something (which many a British and European might also find amusing) there is a larger grain of truth to it than just the joke. By and large the loudest and most vocal members of the global community with regards to the subject are Americans whose scope is, mostly through no fault of their own, restricted to North America. In this respect the differences between global regions are still very much quite distinct, particularly when contrasts with America are concerned.

      Your question there is more less exactly where I was trying to get to with my article!! Thats awesome! Admittedly, the polytheist third of the community tends to not suffer as much from the issue at hand.

      Regarding your last paragraph, I can’t really explain the ins and outs of how it works but I can tell you that the groups Atheopaganism (Mark Green et. al) and Humanistic Paganism (John Halstead et. al) are two of the biggest groups in the non-magical camp. I confess, I don’t always maintain my composure when I read some of their articles but those tend to be the… divisive ones to begin with – when they’re having a good day their style of paganism sounds more like the pagan equivalent of Buddhism.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I think the ‘prohibition’ on cursing exists, and existed, for good reason.

    (1) A rather well-founded fear that, if we believe that magic is real, and persuade others that magic is real, and then don’t make any prohibition on cursing, then the general population will be coming for us with pitchforks and pyres any time soon.

    (2) most people use cursing for somewhat personal reasons, and most Pagans agree that right and wrong is often contextual and dependant on perspective.

    (3) The magical effects of cursing are deep, long-lasting, and unpleasant.

    (4) Unless carefully constructed, the curse creates a magical link between the curser and the cursed.

    (5) if members of the Pagan/Polytheist/Heathen community start cursing each other, there will be cursing vendettas all over the place.

    That said, if you are absolutely sure that the curse you intend to utter is ethical – such as a curse on capitalism, or a curse on DAESH / ISIL – then go right ahead.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I use magic, though not as often as I did. I have done a curse, but rarely find a need, as protective magic works well for me. Even when cursing my one time, I did decide exactly what I wanted to accomplish, and what I was not interested in doing and limited the curse to one small thing. And it worked exactly the way I wanted it to work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Somebody from this community actually tried to curse me last week. It tried to eat my heart, and did actually almost rouse me from sleep. However, for those that struggle with this dilemma in re. vulnerability versus ethics, this is how it goes:

    1. The entities that implement a curse feed on malevolence. If there is none in you, they are absolutely impotent. In the most extreme case, I was being stalked by a demon, and before turning around sent the message “So you want me to turn you into an angel?” The thing ran away.

    2. When a curse is issued with malevolent intent, it is often easy to boomerang back on the issuer. You simply say “Look, all the energy you thrive on is coming from over there. They are the ones so deeply invested in creating this unfortunate outcome. It would be a lot easier to manifest it on them, you’d certainly get more out of it, and then you can go find something pleasant to do.” Usually works like a charm.

    3. When neither feast nor famine is compelling, the final step is to look with compassion into the core of the entity, and seek it’s captives. Malevolent entities, in my experience, actually gain power only by harnessing the creative power of things they keep in thrall through fear. If you have the strength to be unafraid (which grows with success – start small with all the little glares and mean comments people send your way), you can penetrate those barriers and liberate the captives. The malevolent entity is left as a shrunken shell.

    Finally, I would recommend against cursing DAESH / ISIL. You’re just sending recruits to the powers that motivate them. I would recommend reading about the people that suffer under their tyranny, and then encourage the beneficial powers to try to disassemble (a la point 3 above) the evil at its core.

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  5. Perhaps the fault is my own, it almost certainly is, but I wouldn’t even know how to begin crafting a well executed curse. I am certain there are many polytheists who fall in this boat as well. In my case, I’ve trained myself on observances, rituals, and sacrifices, but not on curses.

    I’m sure there are spirits that would be willing to teach, but for some reason I feel hesitant to seek this knowledge from them. It is probably my early childhood Christian training.

    Like

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