Not-That-Ordinary Days and Ducks and Wiccans|
Posted: August 6th. 2001
Times Viewed: 6,304
Wren was so busy tossing bread and laughing with the gulls down at the edge of the Little Pond that she didn't even notice the newcomer until he had placed one very large, very orange and very muddy webbed foot squarely down on her right- and up to that point, white- sneaker. "Huh-loh," she wondered out loud, "Now, who the heck are you?" The newcomer was a big one. A raised bright red-orange helmet-beak sat astride a white and black head that then blended into the deep evergreen feathers down the back. The wings were also black with a white crescent accent. A saucy fan of black tail-feathers completed the package. Weighing in at about 15 pounds or so, Wren guessed by the pressure on her toes, this was one she hadn't seen before. But he was obviously good-natured and friendly- and quite happy for the free breakfast treat handout.
Upon checking her bird reference guide, Wren figured out that the newcomer was some sort of Eider. Now wild Eiders live only in the far North, so this one was either very bad in the navigation department, an escapee from a wildlife attraction or someone's wandering pet out to see the world. As he was very much used to being fed by people and showed no timidity toward Wren at all, her guess is that some duck aficionado woke up that day to find her pet duck colony was one Eider short. Whatever his story, the newcomer was yet another reminder of the diversity of lifeforms that can be found in a quite ordinary Little Pond on a quite ordinary day by a quite ordinary Witch. And as it frequently happens, a whole bunch of quite ordinary things often conspire together to produce some quite not-that-ordinary results. (Wyld Witch Word to the Wise: Never entirely trust any quite ordinary day to stay complacently ordinary. They can be quite sneaky that way.)
Last week, an e-friend of Wren had sent her a most intriguing email posing the question: "Has anyone noticed that many Wiccans/Pagans/Witches are becoming 'anti-magic'?" Christopher went on to further query that if Pagans/Wiccans/Witches are then not using magic- the knowledge of said magic being one of the very things that sets them/us apart from most of the other religions/belief systems currently operating in the world- then what indeed is so special about being Witch/Wiccan/Pagan? As he points out, "Couldn't we do all of the things we are doing and not bother being Witches? If we are Witches and in Partnership with the Ancient ones don't we have work to do? You don't hear that four letter word work very much any more in Wiccan circles."
Wren thought about those questions quite a bit during the week and composed many responses to send to Christopher- all of which she deleted. But on the morning that the wandering Eider appeared, Wren thought of an answer that she might consider actually sending. In a way, this particular writing is it.
Wren thinks that perhaps Christopher did get the question right. But she also believes that the four letter word that Christopher was looking for as a possible solution in his theoretical proposal for reawakening an interest in magical workings was not 'work'. Although work certainly is involved in any magical undertaking, work alone will not bring anything magical into being without that other thing.
Did Wren happen to mention that ordinary events are always plotting some sneaky covert way to turn an ordinary day into something not-so-ordinary? Well, the day had its plan set in motion and it literally was falling into place. While rearranging what is supposed to be the dining room but is actually the library by default, some of the books piled high on a shelf came tumbling down. As she groaned and began to pick through the pile, she paused over two of the selections.
Now Wren regularly practices a form of stichomancy (Stichomancy is the practice of seeking metaphysical insight by reading a random passage from a book.) when a thing or two is rattling around in her brain bucket. So, she put those two books aside, cleaned up the residue and treated herself to a rereading of the wayward book selections. They were actually two favorites that she hadn't looked at for a while. (So many books, so little time.) The books were 'The Words of Gandhi' and 'The Crack in the Cosmic Egg'.
Wiccans of late are taking potshots from all over. There are probably many reasons for this, but Wren (who is not Wiccan) was thinking about two of them in particular: The first problem that many contemporary non-Wiccans (and some within the Wiccan community) find in Wicca is that the background and/or foundation of the Wiccan movement may have been a little less than truthful or based upon historical facts. While most Wiccans are getting their acts together and are coming to grips with these issues, some damage has been done to the credibility of Wicca. And this has had ramifications that directly point back to Christopher's question: "Why have many Wiccans become so 'anti-magic'?"
Wren believes that Wiccans have had their confidence undermined by the criticism that continues to rage in some circles. And that is where the first book, 'The Crack in the Cosmic Egg' offered Wren- and perhaps it will offer some Wiccans as well- an interesting parallel parable. In the book, author Joseph Chilton Pearce, relates this tale:
"In the early 1950's, kidney transplants were a fascinating possibility. A Chicago doctor finally made an apparent successful transplant of one kidney, in a patient with a good left. The doctor and his staff kept extremely accurate and detailed reports, covering every bit of data on the entire affair. After a few months the doctor cautiously published his reports on the apparent success, that others might benefit and follow suit with further lifesaving attempts. Immediately after the performance was known to be workable, similar operations were tried all over the world, and the margin of success soared beyond all previous expectations."
"To his alarm however, the doctor later found out that he had erred in his interpretations. The transplant had failed, probably from the beginning; the other kidney had carried a double load plus the added strains of rejection and so on. The data so cautiously published had been erroneous. In what was admirable honesty, the doctor published a retraction and apology, but by then, of course, his error was incidental. Who cared? Success was at every hand, and has been growing ever since. All that may have been needed was sureness, belief and a concrete hope."
And of course, kidney transplants are done successfully every day and Wicca, after fifty-plus years is a successful experiment in a new spirituality. So who cares? They both work no matter what the truth of their beginnings might have 'technically' been- or not been.
The other point that Wren was pondering on the ordinary day, which turned out to be not-very-ordinary at all, was related to the first. And here is where Wren would substitute Christopher's four-letter word 'work' for another one: 'will'. Now 'will' is a strong word and we often perceive it as a forceful word. Indeed it is and will is all about forces and strengths. But 'strength' and 'force' are also linked and locked into the psyches of modern humans with terms such as 'aggression' and physical/mental/spiritual 'power over' ideas. Wiccans with their code of ethics commonly known as the Rede then are often accused of having no 'real' will, no ability to move beyond the ambiguity of 'what is no harm', no strength or force that amounts to much of anything. And here is where the second book, 'The Words of Gandhi', thumped Wren upside the head. (Thank the Gods, it's a smallish book!)
Wicca, regardless of its origins, has evolved into a spiritual path with great empathy towards and a growing affinity for what Gandhi called 'non-violent resistance'. In a world where 'might' frequently is seen as the same thing as 'right', such a stance is often met with some considerable resistance and antipathy. " In this age of the rule of brute force, it is almost impossible for anyone to believe that anyone else could possibly reject the law of the final supremacy of brute force," Gandhi wrote. But just as Gandhi was certainly a man of indomitable will and stuck to his course despite opposition from within and without, Wiccans- if and when they can come to grips with this similar philosophy- may become an equally considerable force dedicated to peace through non-violence and tolerance. The road to this way for Wiccans- as it did for the Quakers, the Tibetan Buddhists and the Hindus that still follow the teachings of Gandhi- is beginning to come into focus. While the signposts are there, whether Wicca will ultimately choose to travel this path remains to be seen. For this Path too, requires will.
"Nonviolence and cowardice go ill together. I can imagine a fully armed man to be at heart a coward. Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice. But true nonviolence is an impossibility without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness," Gandhi clearly states. "Nonviolence should never be used as a shield for cowardice. It is a weapon for the brave." And so Wren would ultimately say to Christopher, "Where some brave Wiccans will lead, the magic is sure to follow."
This morning the Eider was back at the Little Pond. He has become a regular along with the noisy gulls and the gentle mallards. And while Wren has made the 'logical' conclusion that he comes from someone's fenced-in duck collection, it may be just as equally true that he did actually fly in all the way from Alaska to join us at Wren's Breakfast Bar. Who cares? He's here. He has found a place where he is welcome and enjoyed for what he brings to the place. And Wicca, no matter where it came from, is also here. And those who welcome and enjoy what Wicca brings to the World are pleased to see it.
As Pearce comes nearer to his conclusive chapters in 'The Crack in the Cosmic Egg', he muses: "Perfection is daring to embrace the universe itself as our true dimension, daring to steal the fire of the gods, to walk on water or fire unafraid, to heal, to claim plenty in time of dearth, to behold boldly that desired and become what we have need to be."
Whether Pagan or Witch or Wiccan or Heathen, it is our time to decide what and who we have need to be.
Walk in Love and Light,
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