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Article Specs

Article ID: 8790

VoxAcct: 8

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 5,371

Times Read: 11,671

Grey Magic: Back to the Broom Closet?

Author: RuneWolf [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: November 6th. 2004
Times Viewed: 11,671

The elections are over, and it would seem that many Pagans feel that we are now on the verge of a new Dark Age, if not a wholesale return to the Burning Times. Many would have us believe that, in four short years, we will see the end of free elections, the establishment of a Fundamentalist/Dominionist theocracy in America, and that all religions - including many Christian sects - not approved of by the Fundy/Dommies will be outlawed, and their adherents hunted down and "dealt with."

I hope, I trust, I pray that enough remains of the true American Spirit that such a state of affairs will not come to pass. But if we have learned anything in this century and the last, it is that political upheaval can be sudden, drastic and complete. So as much as I would like to stick my head in the sand and say, I'll worry about that later, I have to at least consider the worst-case scenario.

What is Wolfie going to do if he wakes up one morning and finds that, whilst he slept, the good men and women on Capital Hill have made him a criminal? My plan is deliciously simple: I'm going to convert. I am going to join the nearest, most "liberal" approved church I can find, I am going to "accept Jesus as my Savior," scrape those evil bumper stickers off my car and pound a six-foot crucifix into my front lawn where the Neighborhood Witch-Watch can clearly see it. I am going to hang a big-ass (Celtic) cross around my neck (or maybe one of those really "stealthy" Thor's Hammers), and rehearse my story that I won't have my Pagan tattoos removed so that they can "remind me and others of the years I spent in darkness, hidden from the sight of God. Praise Jesus!"

In short, I am going right back in the "broom closet," slam the door and lock it. I am going to do what our spiritual forebears did, and go as deep underground as I can.

But I also intend to hide in plain sight, as much as possible.

To paraphrase Dianne Sylvan: "A village wise woman may say, 'Jesus is Lord' to avoid torture, but who can really say what is in her heart?"

My point exactly. The only way they can really know is compulsory polygraph tests and widespread high-tech surveillance on a house-by-house basis, and if it gets THAT bad in this country, my friends, religious freedom will be the least of our worries.

Professing one's faith to the point of martyrdom is, I believe, a particularly Christian idiocy. My Goddess has clearly said, "I demand aught of sacrifice." I take this to mean that She doesn't expect me to stand up in front of the FBRI (Federal Bureau of Religious Investigation) and say, "Yes, I'm Pagan!" and suffer possibly serious consequences, just to prove my devotion to Her.

The late Robert Cochrane often spoke of "grey magic," and what he meant by that, exactly, is still being debated. His detractors - and some of his associates, mind you - felt that it was nothing more than a euphemism for lying. And, of course, we all know lying is a "sin!" I, personally, believe that he meant it to mean deception, misdirection and misinformation, in the sense of these being strategic and tactical techniques.

Now what the Hel could possibly be the difference between plain old lying, and these so-called "strategic and tactical techniques?" Well, there is in fact precious little difference, I grant you, and I am prepared to accept that. What difference there is can be summed up in the old axiom, "The end justifies the means."

If my wife asks me, "Are you planning a surprise party for my birthday?" and I say, "No," in the full knowledge that the party is waiting in the next room, I am in fact lying. Period. But if I tell the "whole truth and nothing but the truth," the whole surprise is ruined, and all the work that others and I have put into the party is wasted, not to mention robbing my wife of the shear delight of said surprise. On the other hand, if my wife asks, "Are you having an affair?" and I say "No," when in fact...well, you get the picture. The former, to me, is grey magic, and the latter is just plain bald-faced lying.

My Goddess further says, "...let there be...honor and humility...within you." She doesn't say anything about "honor and stupidity," and I think the "bushido approach" of telling the absolute truth regardless of the consequences is, in this context, just plain stupid.

Woden (or, if you must, Odhinn) has much to say on the subject of personal honor, and many of the tales told of Him and his followers certainly demonstrate this "bushido approach." But I want to point out one particularly relevant stanza of the Havamal, The Sayings of the High One, widely regarded as having come directly from the old horse's mouth:
If you know one who evil thinks but you desire his good will,
Speak him fair though you falsely feel; repay lies with cunning.
- Elsa-Brita Titchenell (Trans.)
Or another version:
If you've another, whom you don't trust,
But from whom you want nothing but good,
Speak fairly to him but think falsely
And repay treachery with lies.
- Carolyne Larrington (Trans.)
And still another:
If you deal with another you don't trust,
But wish for his good will,
Be fair in speech and false in thought,
And give him lie for lie.
- W. H. Auden and P. B. Taylor (Trans.)
Many of our Heathen cousins believe that this is, in fact, the Age of Woden, "a wind-age, a wolf-age," and they might well be right. I don't believe, for one second, that the Goddess and Yahweh are duking it out on the Astral Plane for the "soul of American," and I think our Founding Fathers would be spinning like tops if they knew what certain special-interest groups are trying to do with the principles they set down. But I do think that the Religious Reich is advancing its agenda, and if they have their way, this will indeed become "one Christian Nation under ONE Christian God."

In the event such an abomination comes to pass, I will happily draw the cloak of grey magic tightly about my brethren and myself. I will gladly assume the outward trappings of the State Religion, while remaining true to my Gods in my own heart and - as long as I can - my own home. I will return to the ways of deep secrecy and clandestine practice that saw our religion through tougher times, until the cycle comes round again, and this nation returns to its senses.

As I have alluded, this whole concept of "standing up for what you believe" even unto imprisonment and death is a hold-over from the Christian upbringing that many of us lived through and the suicidal belief in the sanctity and nobility of martyrdom. If this is to be a war for the future of our religion, I intend to take yet another lesson from our aforementioned Founding Fathers: I have no intention of donning my bright red Pagan tunic and marching into battle in a straight line; I'll be making my voice heard from the cover of trees and fieldstone walls, dressed in the garb of the average citizen.

And one final thought, which may be unpopular with many: We often paraphrase the Christians by saying, "She works in mysterious ways." There has been a growing opinion in the Craft for some time now that we have become, perhaps, a bit too open, a bit too accessible, a bit too public. Perhaps a period of persecution is Her way of suggesting that a return to the old ways of secrecy might not be a bad thing for us. It would certainly weed out the tourists and the dilettantes, the dabblers and the posers. We have always been the Hidden Children, the People of the Shadows. Perhaps, in a none-too-gentle way, She is showing us that we need to return to our roots.




Location: Reston, Virginia

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