Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 5330
Age Group: Adult
Posted: January 26th. 2003
Caution: Restricted Area
What's so bad about a little truth, light and healing? As concepts, I'd say that these ideals have a lot going for them. As words, they describe some of the noblest strivings of mankind. As spiritual goals, they have challenged us to reach higher and to dig deeper and to care more. These words - truth -- light -- healing -- probably summon up quite positive images in the minds of most of the people who see them. When I read them this past week though, I had an entirely different reaction.
How about ignorant for starters? Then there's idiotic, improper, insensitive, indecent, insulting, and insolent. And before I run out of words beginning with 'in', I'll just toss indignant on the top of the heap. Because that is what I was.
"Gods, Wren!" you might be wondering, "What the heck do you have against a little truth, light and healing? Uh...you haven't been trying on any rings that just happened to have been forged in the fires of Mount Doom lately, have you?"
Well, no. But I have been reading the papers. Same thing, some days. But there was one article that I read which really orced my pony: Vandals Destroy, Deface Badlands Pictographs. According to the article:
"Using charcoal, someone drew over several pictographs in Dry Canyon in the Badlands east of Bend, defacing about five and destroying at least one of the irreplaceable images.
"Within the canyon, the vandal or vandals built a fire pit that stretches about 4 feet across. The fire charred the sides and top of a hollowed rock that is about 6 feet tall.
"Someone used charcoal to write "truth," "light," and "healing" on the walls. The Taoist yin-yang symbol representing balance was also drawn. A vandal also used the charcoal to trace the outline of one pictograph."
Indignant doesn't even begin to cover it.
Now, I don't know who these particular vandals are. (If you know, please do call the authorities.) And I am not saying that the vandals were Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, shamans or any other such group. What I am saying is that I fervently hope that they were not. And that I wish I could be sure about that.
But I'm not.
And I wish that I could say that I am 100% convinced that no Wiccan, no Pagan, no Witch or no shaman would ever do such a thing.
But I can't.
Because it has been done -- and it continues to be done -- by Wiccans and Witches and Pagans and shamans. Oh, maybe not with charcoal. And maybe not by writing over some ancient pictographs. But it has been done and it continues to be done in many other ways. It happens. It's a problem. And we really should cease and desist.
The desecration of sacred places goes on all of the time. Many of you will remember that such vandalism occurred at the Rollright Stones and at Stonehenge a few years back. People climbed all over the stones and sat upon the dolmens and left candle wax and other 'tokens of affection' behind.
Many Pagans and Druids were, of course, outraged. So were the authorities. Vandalism -- and especially the marring or destruction of sacred or historic places -- is a crime. I don't think that too many of you who are reading this would think that it wasn't or that it shouldn't be. Ditto on the pictographs.
But what about everywhere else? What about the woods where you go to do your rituals? What about the parks or the burial mounds or the springs? When is it appropriate to offer up magickal invocations, set wards or 'charge' the lands and waters for your own purposes -- and when is it not?
We should know these things. We are Witches and Pagans and Wiccans and shamans and it is our business to know these things. It's part of who we are and what we do. Magick, in all of its forms and subtleties and signatures, is our area of expertise. And if it isn't, then we had better quit messing around with it.
Whenever we walk into certain places --whether it is a grove of trees, a darkened cairn, a circle of stones or a secluded meadow -- we often feel a sense of the sacred envelop us. We stand in awe. We feel a power. We vibrate in tune to an energy. We know that we stand upon a place of mystery and in the presence of things and beings that we cannot see.
It is a special place. A place where we feel connected to the Earth or to peoples and cultures long past. We can feel such powers upon our skin. Our spirits expand and our hearts rejoice in such spots. And we return to these places again and again because they call to us and they fulfill something that we often can find no words to describe. We want to do a ritual here or perhaps to simply leave an offering to honor the place and Those who walk or watch or live here.
But before we do -- if we are smart and respectful Pagans or Wiccans or Witches or shamans -- we first must ask ourselves this question, "From whence comes this power?"
And then we must wait for the answer.
Before we light one candle or a single bundle of sage, we wait for the answer. Before the first athame is drawn or chalice is raised, we wait for the answer. Before we set a ward or summon an energy, we wait for the answer.
Before we leave a coin, we wait for an answer. Before we cast a circle or bury a crystal, we wait for an answer. Before we build a fire pit or set a Sun Wheel, we wait for an answer.
And if any of that is beyond your skills, your patience or your endurance, then please at least buy a map along with your clue.
Find out the history of the places you visit. Who lived there before you came upon it? Is this the sacred place of another People? Is that energy which you feel there for a reason? Is it Earth energy? Is it the energy of the Otherworld? Or have some other People summoned the power to this place? Do guardian spirits of another time and place still remain here? Are you welcome?
And ---most importantly -- is your magick welcome here? Are your rituals or wards going to harm or cancel something that has worked quite well for hundreds or thousands of years (and all without you!)?
Are your offerings spiritually/culturally appropriate? For if they are not, you may do -- and perhaps experience -- more harm than good. And even if they are correct -- and you have the permission of the existing powers AND the landowner! -- are they environmentally benign and non-invasive?
Some culturally or spiritually charged areas are indeed open to all Peoples of good intention. Some are not. Some are held as sacred to another culture and should not be altered or 'marked' without the Peoples' blessing. These are designated as 'restricted areas' for a reason. If in doubt, please don't.
And certainly no historical site should ever be scraped, chipped, drawn upon, quarried, looted or carried away in your pocket.
Walk lightly upon and within the sacred places of this world. They are special. They are holy. They are powerful.
They were filled with such long before we came upon them.
And may they remain so long after we are gone.
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, January, 26th., 2003
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