“I’m not really alone, that my solitary acts are not really solitary, not if they are practised by many, many others, each resisting in their own little way, doing what they can.”
From Emma Kathryn
“The night is warm, though not quite balmy, not in the mountain at least. There’s no moon in the sky, though thousands of stars burn brightly in its dark depths, their glow not enough to cast even a glimmer on the canopy of the jungle, much less penetrate it. Below the canopy, men and women, fearsome with their machetes and knives, follow the narrow path through the trees, down the mountain. To the plantation.
Tonight, they follow their queen once again, to free those stolen from their homeland, imprisoned and put to work in the brutal plantations, treated worse than animals.”
-Queen Nanny of the Maroons; spiritual leader, military strategist and chief. Obeah woman.
Part one of this article was my very first piece for G&R and you can read it here, if the fancy takes you. At the time of writing, I thought it would be a one-off, but here we are, once again on the topic of witchcraft being an act of resistance. That’s because it is, and always has been. Witchcraft has always been used by the poor and oppressed.
I won’t go into too much detail about that first article but I will say it was a rallying cry, a call to action for those of us who practise, to utilise our craft in the fight against the capitalist system. I stand by what I wrote in that piece, and would argue that the need for our craft to be a resistance is more important than ever.
But whilst a call to arms is all well and good, it isn’t enough. It’s not enough for writers to sit behind computer screens and tell others to act out, but it’s also hard to know what to do, how else to affect change on a larger scale. Sometimes it feels like our individual efforts are not enough, and it’s easy to get disheartened, or to lose sight of your goals, of the end game. Sometimes, it can feel like our solitary acts of resistance are worthless, indeed, I was just thinking along those lines the other day. But then it occurred to me that I’m not really alone, that my solitary acts are not really solitary, not if they are practised by many, many others, each resisting in their own little way, doing what they can.
When I was a kid, my mum used to watch this show called Allo, Allo. It was a comedy set in German occupied France during the second world war. I absolutely loved it. It followed the escapades of a French Cafe owner, caught between the German officers and the French resistance. Each episode would follow the reluctant and bumbling cafe owner passing on information or carrying out small acts of sabotage against the occupying force. He didn’t ‘defeat’ the occupying forces alone, and the resistance needed this one mans help.
Often times, it is the smaller acts of resistance, carried out by small cells or individuals that all combine against the enemy, the effect accumulative, each small blow adding to the overall effect. It’s like in fighting, a knockout is exciting to watch, but many times the fight is won by smaller blows finding their mark, beating the opponent one punch at a time.
As witches, sorcerers and occultists, why would we not utilise our craft in creating and carrying out our own acts of resistance, our own small sabotages? This second part then, is this writers way of uniting our smaller acts of lone resistance. Everything herein I have learnt through my own experiences, and I share them here in the hope that you, my fellow seeker, find them inspiring and useful too.
Freedom from the capitalist system or from any kind of oppression you find yourself under can seem like a lofty goal or ideal. Ultimately the path towards our own freedom is long and arduous and ever ongoing, but the first step on that road involves becoming aware of the ways in which we are trapped and how deep this entrapment runs.
A must read for any would be rebel witch or occultist is Dr Bone’s Curse Your Boss, Hex The State, Take Back The World. The good doctor does a fine old job of fully explaining the ways in which we are trapped in a system, and how we have been programmed or forced into thinking that there is no way out of the spectral cage in which we find ourselves. Indeed, the concept of the spectral cage is highly important in our quest to be free from oppression. Within the book are practical steps one can take in different circumstances to help free oneself. I have used some of them to good effect, my favourite being the card in the boot conjure working. It’s become my go to working for work related issues. It can also be adapted to suit various other circumstances. I cannot recommend this book enough.
In freeing ourselves, we must be honest with ourselves. It won’t be easy, in fact will be downright uncomfortable and hard and there will be tough choices and decisions on the road ahead, which leads me onto my next point, baneful magic.
To Curse Or Not To Curse
Within the world of witchcraft there are many who abide by ethical and moral codes of conduct, whether that be the threefold law, karma, or any other system of belief that aims to censor our behaviours. As such, baneful magic such as cursing and hexing can cause quite the conundrum for those practitioners who abide by such rules.
Like I said, this journey will not be an easy one, and we will be forced to confront dilemmas such as these, problems that force us to reconsider our stance on many issues.
Now, for myself, I don’t hold to the threefold law. I just don’t believe it, and in saying this, I mean no offence to any who do, after all, we should each be free to decide for ourselves what it is we believe, without having to justify it to others. In my opinion, the threefold law and karma are highly complicated concepts that have been watered down into easy to say mottos that sound good but mean very little. That’s not to say that these concepts are worthless, but, especially in the case of karma, they are far more intricate and complicated than how they are presented to us within mainstream modern paganism.
As I said to a fellow witch a few weeks back (one who cited the threefold law to me when the topic of cursing came up), I simply do not believe in the threefold law, and the answer to why is simple. I know countless people, mostly good, who go through life trying their best, who don’t hurt others, who keep themselves to themselves, who go out to work each day, and yet they get shit on. Constantly. Where is their reward? Where is their three times returned goodness? They simply never get it. Oh yes, there might well be the odd bit of brightness, but it sure as shit aint three times what they’ve given out. And the reverse is also true; there are plenty of arseholes who spend most of their lives being selfish, not caring about others, who make other people’s lives a living hell and who, in return, never suffer for it. They don’t get their shittiness returned threefold either.
So it will be up to the individual to decide how far they are willing to travel along the path of malevolent magic. It will not be for everyone, and that is fine. I will say though, that self-defence is a must, and never be afraid to defend yourself, by whatever means available, and to me, this includes using witchcraft.
Connecting with other witches, seekers and occultists will be an important aspect of using your craft as a resistance. Not everyone will have the same political leanings or world view (there’s so many debates, arguments and factions between pagans today, it’s no wonder we’re an eclectic mix!) and that’ fine, in fact can be a good thing as it broadens the minds. You’ll be exposed to varying opinions and approaches, some will inspire you, others provoke debate, and others will turn you right off, but knowledge is power, and the scope for learning more becomes so much wider when you expand your magical circles.
Besides from the practical benefits of the sharing of ideas and honest and open discourse, connecting with others is a good way of forming networks with other practitioners. Building friendships and relationships will lead to the mutual exchange of help, and so the beginnings of solidarity are formed.
At the beginning of this piece, I talk about Nanny of the Maroons, a rebel who led her people to freedom. So successful were their attacks on the plantations and on the British that Nanny and her community were left alone by them, partly due to her ferocious attacks in which hundreds of slaves were freed, but also because of her connection to the land. Nanny came to know the mountain well, and as an obeah woman, you can be sure she was connected to the spirit of the land. The British army couldn’t find their way up the mountain, through the forests, whereas Nanny knew the land well and could navigate it easily.
The land is the beginning and the end. Forging a relationship with it strengthens your witchcraft, and as such, your resistance based on it. Get to know the land where you live; what grows where, the creatures that live there, the natural cycles and rhythms of nature. Feed the birds, pick up rubbish, care for the land where you live and over time your relationship with it will grow and flourish.
And there you have it fellow seekers, my thoughts and opinions on the topic of witchcraft as a resistance. I hope you find them useful.
My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!
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