We Always Hurt the Ones We Love|
Posted: January 4th. 1998
Times Viewed: 14,870
Discussion of Witch Wars is a controversial topic. Many Witches and Pagans don't even want to mention that they exist. They feel that it's taboo to talk about Witch Wars... that speaking about it will somehow make it happen. Yet, almost every Witch or Pagan I've ever spoken with or heard of has been involved in one of these situations, either directly or as a witness.
Intellectually, most of us realize that open and honest discussion can help avoid these confrontations. However, the problem is that the survivors of these wars are often scarred by a lot of emotional pain and any discussion of the situation can reopen even very old wounds. In a Witch War, few parties involved are completely without blame. We may also feel guilty when we are forced to remember our own actions as well as those of our friends and coven mates.
Another difficulty is that the Internet has made the world a much smaller place. While many Witch Wars are private affairs, others are conducted under very public and open circumstances. You may have read some of the essays on this site and thought, "Oh, I know about this." You may be uncomfortable discussing your own experiences for the same reason. Even now I ponder whether certain people might read this essay and recognize the author...
The Witches' Voice Witch Wars coverage might make you feel angry, hurt, guilty, or uncomfortable. However there is still a very good reason to read and think and discuss: to discover what it is that puts us at each others throats and what we can do about it.
Why is it that we fight among ourselves? Sometimes I think that we spend more time and energy fighting our own than fighting those who even now are working to take our rights from us. The worst part is that we espouse individualism and kindness and harm none... while all the time we fight, bind, and curse each other. There's an ugly name for that kind of behavior (hint: nine letters, begins with "H").
I believe the problem stems from Perfect Love and Perfect Trust -- the very thing that's supposed to bind us together. We love to love our coven sisters and brothers. We love opening ourselves up to them because they are the people who understand us best. And there's certainly nothing wrong with this devotion. The deepest friendships can blossom and make us feel like a member of a special, close family. But remember... we always hurt the ones we love.
A blow from a fellow Witch hurts much worse than the same action from a stranger. And the closer we are to someone, the better we know how to hurt them. If you have a SO (spouse, partner, lover), you know that it's easier to hurt that person than anyone else... even if you don't want to, things can easily get out of hand. It's the same with our group or coven mates. Then when we are hurt or hurt others it tends to spread like ripples on a pond.
Often, the people who cause the most troubles within and among groups are those who are hurting the most. They need our love and support, but they also need checks on their behavior. Too often, we either validate their actions or turn them into enemies. The first only reinforces their conduct, the second increases their pain and spreads that pain throughout the group.
The other problem with Perfect Love and Perfect Trust is that it can blind us to the flaws of our group and its members. Remember that we are all fallible humans. Someone in a group is angry at another group. Maybe the reasons are logical, maybe they aren't. But we waste no time rallying around our comrade, without possibly taking a closer look at what's really going on.
Unfortunately, not everyone who calls themselves a Witch acts in a way we want to support. We have to take a moral stand somewhere and categorically state that some behavior is just plain wrong. I'm not talking blue laws and dogma here, I'm talking about things which really are wrong by any standard: non-consensual sexual activity, abuse of children, misuse of power when it comes to funding. We only look like fools ignoring these problems, or worse, automatically defending people who just *might* really be guilty.
On the other hand, sometimes even the best Witches forget their manners. They need our loving support to help remind them what Witchcraft is really all about. We can't emulate their negative behavior because then the problems only increase and a Witch War begins. We have to take a step back and remember how easy it is to hurt those we are close to.
So does that mean that Perfect Love and Perfect Trust doesn't work? Of course it does. In fact, this rule may work better than anything else -- particularly for Witches, difficult to govern as we are. Just remember that love means we have to treat each other gently, and that trust doesn't mean blindness.
Some of the best advice for dealing with coven mates is the same advice given to married couples. After all, covens are often symbolically wedded to each other through their love of the Deities and each other. So remember to listen (and make sure you understand what the other is saying). Remember to keep private matters private and public matters clear. Learn to say some of the most difficult phrases in any language: "I love you." "You hurt my feelings." "I'm sorry, I was wrong."
If we only learn to treat each other with the respect and gentleness we deserve, without blinding ourselves to our faults, perhaps we can gain some perspective and heal our wounds. We must stop destroying each other over these issues. If we do not govern ourselves and our own actions in this respect (however govern-less we may be in others), someone will step in and do it for us. We lower ourselves to the level of the fundamentalists who want to hurt us when we preach tolerance and practice hate.
It's time to talk about it. Time to explore our own hurts and previous actions. Time to confront our guilt and pain and anger. Time to hold our religion up to scrutiny and honestly asses whether our actions are in line with what we believe. Only then can we create a community, not of conformity or hierarchy or rules, but of love and respect for each other as Witches, Pagans, children of the Deities.
Ivy V. - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bio: Ivy is a solitary Witch and eclectic Pagan of a generic sort. She's been practicing over a decade now (since the age of thirteen or so). She is a writer in both her spare time and her career. She is currently working on a series of essays like the above.
Important Note: This article is presented by the author as a starting point for discussion on the issue. Each author has submitted his/her article independently and may or may not agree with all the viewpoints in the entire series.
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