April 11th, 2006

Shaman - Horse

The Message of "V for Vendetta"

I am a member of a pagan group (or two) on MySpace, and a recent topic was on the validity of focusing on the Burning Times. Some background on the this subject is at http://wicca.timerift.net/burning.html.

I am on a vague paranonia spree right now regarding the powers-that-be, and wrote the following:

I recently saw 'V for Vendetta' twice. The first time was by myself, and I saw it on a whim. The second time I saw it with my lovely girlfriend. The first time I saw it I thought it was about a theocracy. I was not wrong. A theocracy in future Britain was part of the plot. The second time I saw it I realized that the movie was not truly about a theocracy. The type of totalitarian government was secondary to the fact that the government had been taken over by a small group of people. It didn't really matter if they wore the banner of theocracy. They could have been fascist, communist, capitalist, or anything else. What mattered is that power had been taken from the people. A tagline for the movie is, "People should not fear the government; the government should fear the people."

What does this have to do with the thread at hand? Witches, both true witches and those falsely proclaimed to be so, were killed in pursuit of people establishing/consolidating power. My girlfriend has researched the burning times, and the information she shared with me showed me that the driver of the burning times was the shifting of political and economic power. In this drama of humankind, the victims where Witches and the oppressors were Christian governments. I do believe that the taglines of "remember the burning times" are valid if they only remind us that our liberties are only a persecution away from being removed, and our lives are not far behind. The oppressors will change, but the evil is the same. Anything that reminds us to remain on guard is a blessing.
Shaman - Horse

Most Haunted and Witches

My girlfriend and I watch Most Haunted (http://travel.discovery.com/fansites/mosthaunted/mosthaunted.html) on the Travel Channel. She is a wonderful witch and I am more shamanic. We really like the show, and very much respect the capabilities of Derek Acorah, the show's medium. However, my girlfriend gets the shivers when Derek starts talking about "witches". Understand, most of the time he is not talking about modern people, and all of the time he is talking about those who worked in the evil(er) side of witchcraft. So, Derek seems to only use the "witch" word when he is talking about the dark side of the craft. My girlfriend and I kinda said, "let's call those black magic guys warlocks, whether they're male or female, and send Derek a letter letting him know about this political non-correctness".

This brings up two questions for me...

What connection do modern witches have with the prior generation of those who practiced black magic? We cannot pretend it did not happen in the past, or even say it is not happening now. Do we, as light-and-love witches. disavow our brothers and sisters that practice dark arts? What is a dark art? What is black magic? Some people think that love spells are dark, while others seem to believe that witchcraft was invented so love spells could be done. When does a witch cross the line and become a warlock/sorcerer? Are they no longer witches?

2nd question. Should Derek be condemned for using the word "witch" in the way he does? He is a spirit medium and not a witch. It is not in his experience or jargon to be politically correct about the word. When he says "witch", he seems to be saying "practitioner of the black magic". Should he change for us?

If Derek should change, should those who use the word "liberal" as a moniker be condemned? How about those (and I include myself in this category) who use the word "republican" with a certain hint of disdain?

Words word words... can't live with them, can't live without them.
Shaman - Horse

A Dogma of a Different Color

Dogmas come in many colors. From a pagan message thread:
(begin quote)
Wicca is not a belief, it is a priesthood huge difference, if someone was to believe in something then yes no one should be able to tell them otherwise, but if someone claims to be in a religion or priesthood which they do not belong then people can very fairly and rightly point out that they are not.
(end quote)

This, and the text that followed, was quite exacting and dogmatic. It listed all the things that a “true” Wiccan practitioner had to do. I don't claim to be Wiccan, so I can't speak to the particulars of the beliefs expressed. My path is shamanic, and I can draw correlations to it. In the shamanic path there are very few "Shamans" with a capital "S". Shamans are recognized by their tribe/group/culture, and those who take on the mantle themselves are suspect. Those people who embrace this path, and are not recognized as being Shamans, can instead say that they are on the shamanic path. Specific traditions have specific beliefs, and the quote above was the start of a list of beliefs for that priesthood of Wicca. Different groups have different measures of what a shaman does and does not do. When a person meets the requirements, the group says, "You are a Shaman". This does not mean that the person is qualified to be a shaman for the tribe next door.

My second thought is that the listing of a priesthood eligibility list is as confusing as it is helpful. There are many people who cannot be members of a coven structure, and thus be formally recognized to be priests. They are left looking at these lists and wondering, "why is that a requirement?" It is my personal belief that a dogmatic requirement laid out, without an explanation of why it is done, is a barrier to those coming into that belief. I live in an area that is very coven poor. Those that exist are closed and hidden. Newbies/beginners have no official path to the Wiccan priesthood, and those that do exist are of poor quality (IMHO). What are they to do? Is Wicca going to die in the southeast because to be Wiccan one has to follow rules A through Z, but there is nobody to teach these rules, and then officiate the recogniation of the resulting priests (and priestesses)?