Moving on, here’s some of my own thoughts on the subject.
Recently there’s been all this hooplah big enough to make it on media sites and news outside the pagan community about a mass hexing of the Stamford Rapist. Within the pagan community however, a BNP (Big Name Pagan) voiced his opinion that you can’t call yourself a witch if you hex. And that he and the other trail blazers in America had been working decades to remove the stigma that we’re all gonna hex people. He went on to say in subsequent rants that his books were not books of witchcraft but books of magick and spells.
…..So, if magick and spells are not witchcraft, are they special attacks and action options in tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons&Dragons?
The fact of the matter is, yes he and others in the earl and mid 20th century pushed hard for the sanitation of witchcraft in order to make it more palatable for the bigger religions to swallow. They intentionally tried to declaw the cat so to speak. But the thing is, they weren’t pushing for witchcraft – they were pushing for a religion called Wicca.
In today’s world, many see the terms Wicca and Witchcraft as interchangeable, along with Wiccan and Witch. When I tell people that I’m a Witch, they immediately jump to things about The Rule of Three and the Wiccan Rede (which is a LOT longer than 8 words, but most Wiccans don’t bother to learn that). Usually at that point I have to stop them and explain that no, I am not Wiccan. And then we get into an argument over semantics and I have to go into lengthy explanation that a Witch is someone who practices Witchcraft and can be anyone from a Voudoun to a Wiccan to even some Christians. Whereas Wicca is a religion, and all Wiccans follow it, and not all Wiccans are witches. Usually at that point in the discussion, one or both of us gets annoyed and flounces off in frustration. (A better explanation of this might live on for another more in depth post.)
Anyway, part of this idea that they are interchangeable was due to the fact that in the early 20th century, Wicca was just getting started. Just planting its roots – and its creators had a heavy background in Witchcraft. So much of the practice of witchcraft made it into this new religion. In the mid 20th century is when distinctions began to be made between Wicca and Witchcraft, but much of it was still interchangeable due to the fact that Wicca employed much of the practice within it. It wasn’t until the late 20th century when the general practitioners of both began to realize that they are not one in the same. One merely employs the many of the practices of the other to some extent – limited mostly to basic and fundamental information, and by the time of the late 20th century was pretty much exclusively the “positive” types and tropes of Witchcraft. The occasional hex here and there was re-labeled a “curse” but the idea of “cursing” someone was simply too terrible an idea so the concept of “Karma” was inserted instead. Thus the Wiccan Witch keeps his or her hands clean of sin and the person gets their just desserts. Hence the “Rule of 3” and “The Wiccan Rede”. The RO3 states, in it’s simplest form, whatever you send out will return to you threefold. So under this idea, when “Karma” kicks in it’ll be 3 times worse for the perpetrator. And the Rede, in the most common form states: Do what you will, but harm none. So by letting “Karma” take the wheel, the Wiccan Witch’s conscience is clear because it was out of their hands, and they did not bring harm themselves.
This, in essence, is a load of bullshit. Because that isn’t how Karma works. Allow me to introduce to you the concept of Kalifornia Karma. You know it, I know it, everyone who ever cites Karma as being the reason for something knows it. Kalifornia Karma is named so because it began among the New-Age movement out west, and at the time the fad was most prevalent in, you guessed it! California! (The C is replaced with a K because it looks nice with the K from Karma.) So what is Kalifornia Karma? Well, imagine driving down the highway and someone cuts you off. Then they cut off someone else. And speeds away. Later down the road you see they’ve been pulled over.”Well, that’s what you get for cutting me off.” – Kalifornia Karma is the same as Instant Karma. Cause and effect. Immediate reaction.
The true concept of Karma, however, has nothing to do with that. Imagine that same driver again, and again they cut you off on the highway. Then someone else. They speed off, like before. But this time when you see them again, they have not been pulled over. They have crashed. Assuming the person who died in this imaginary crash was a general asshole, according to the laws of Karma they would be reborn in the next life to make amends for their assholery, or at a lower station of being as punishment for their assholery. Karma is not instant. Karma accrues over a period of a lifetime. It is the sum total of good and bad deeds a soul does. The simplest way to remember this is in the common phrase “What, did I kill a Pope in a past life?” in relation to bad things happening to you. This takes the concept, in it’s simplest form, and essentially states “I am having a lot of bad things happen to me now as punishment for something I did in a past life.”
Now then. Why do I go so deep into Karma and tangent away from the actual topic here? Well, it’s actually completely on topic. See, most those who spoke out against a mass hexing by witches of the Stamford Rapist subscribe to the ideology of Wicca whether they call themselves Wiccans or not.The call for “Let Karma get him!” and “Send love and light to the victims instead!” followed quickly by “Oh be careful! Rule of 3!” and “You’re not a real Witch because you don’t follow the Rede!” all stem from this simplistic view that all witches follow a homogenized standard of rules and policies made up by people who borrowed from older traditions and practices to create their own religion. This is not unheard of as Christianity itself set precedent when it broke away from Judaism. While the main focus of Christianity is indeed Jesus and the New Testament, the Christian Bible and many a sermon and Sunday School lesson includes books and works from the Old Testament. Christianity’s earliest beginnings were as a messianic cult that believed the prophesied messiah had come and it was Jesus of Nazareth. (Yes, I know, overly simplistic. But if I didn’t go simplistic we’d be here forever arguing over semantics. Lets move on, shall we?)
Now then, all of this, just to get down to brass tacks. The terms Witch and Witchcraft were, essentially, co-opted by the religion of Wicca, to the point that the general populace legitimately believes they are one and the same. And wherein the Wiccan practitioners, and indeed some of the BNP trail blazers legitimately believe that you MUST follow the Wiccan faith to be a Witch, but you DO NOT practice the Witchcraft that preceded it.
And yet, even historical evidence points to the fact that witches have been around in some form since the dawn of human belief and spiritual practice. And for all that time, they have been both hexing and blessing. Sometimes in the same breath.
So where do I stand on the mass hexing of the Stamford Rapist? If I had the time and space to set up an altar, I’d do it my damn self. For many of the reasons stated in my friend Boudica’s article I linked above.
In closing – in claiming that true witches do not hex, one is denying our history as witches. They are rewriting what we are, who we are, to fit their sanitized and sterilized view and to fit into a perfectly and neat and “safe” category for the benefit of others outside of our religions and practices. It is, in and of itself, erasure of those who hold to the age old tradition of Witchcraft.