Monday, October 24, 2011

Selling Out, Buying In, and Shutting Up.

Great post here, over on The Alchemists Garden, that I thought deserved some comment in light of all the talk lately. Please go read it. It's a great post with a lot to say, and the comments are also very enlightening.

Harold does have a point. There has been a certain amount of declawing to get Neopaganism accepted by the mainstream culture. Respectability comes at a price. I am not sure that is a bad thing. Forty or Fifty years ago Mrs. B. (as an example)would not be able to safely exist and practice. Even if her house wasn't burned to the ground, she could still have stood a great chance of having her children taken, and being socially and economically shunned by her community, and harassed by both religious and civil authorities. Those things would not be strictly legal, but they would happen. They have happened.

It is interesting how it takes so much grand standing, protesting, marching, court cases, and publicity for we as minority groups to just seemingly sell out a few scant years later. We give much attention to those things that make us different, unique, and in our rush to be accepted, it seems that we have to give those very things up, in a long and circuitous rout in order to BE accepted.

Seems that way, but I don't think that it is. Take our proverbial crinoline wearing leather daddy. He is up on a float, in a parade, and hopefully will be wildly fucking someone later on that night. If he's not too tired. No pressure. But he doesn't go to work at Wolfram and Hart the next day, looking like that. (maybe he does.. bad example..) He puts on a suit. He is no less special. He is no less gay. He may not even be in the closet. He isn't Leather Daddy Craig. He's just Craig from HR. That is what we've been working for: to not be seen as an inaccurate stereotype.

We must buy in to the dominant culture to some extent to change it. There is a movie called "SLC Punk", about the Punk movement in Salt Lake City, Utah. It's fiction, but it has a strong moral. You can buck the system all you want, you can isolate yourself, but if you want to really change the system, you have to get involved in it. You will change it, and it will change you. Nature of the beast.

If I want to have dinner with the Queen of England, I better show some manners and know my etiquette. If we as minority religious groups want a serious seat at the global religious banquet, we have to some extent do the same, and do our best to stay true to ourselves in the process. It's not easy, but if that is what we want as a community, it is necessary. It is the necessity of what happens when we go from a closed community, to an open one. Does it dilute your power or identity? I don't think so, but it does change them, but that change is natural. No change at all happening to a new environmental stimulus would be the thing that is unnatural.

Our culture will survive in our own communities. Think Chinatown, Harlem, Little Italy, Curry Canyon, the whole damn Diamond District, Fire Island, The Village, etc. Our community will survive as long as we choose to participate in it and make it strong. Staying connected instead of spreading out and fading away. That way we can continue to influence culture instead of going from buccatini putanesca to egg noodles and ketchup.

As an aside, I also agree that the declawing of Neopaganism turns off those who are more interested in being Witches and Sorcerers Old School style, and does contribute to them going into other Paths such as Brujeria, and Voodou. But those paths also have a strong base community. They remember their roots. As long as we keep remembering ours, there is little danger.

As for Magic proper, "To Keep Silent" is there for a reason. It's a strange thing, as social media has boomed the grande need to share every personal secret nook and cranny of ourselves with anyone who might want to tune in. (I am a blogger, on twitter, and tumblr. I realize the irony.) Magic shouldn't be our dirty little secret, but we shouldn't be slapping it on the table, publicly every chance we get. Much like Craig shouldn't cruise the men's room at work while in his "Dame  Fluffernutter" Pony play persona. He'll get fired at best. (Again, maybe not at WR&H, but at most jobs, yes.)

I treat Magic in my day to day, much like the mob treats it's business. The literal translation of "La Cosa Nostra" is "This thing of ours". Secret. Hinted about, discussed among those who know. Not shared to most of my family, discussed with many of my non Magically inclined friends, or even really at Grove where we celebrate as public Pagans. We aren't there for that. You, blog-o-sphere, are part of my Magical community, and some of you overlap with my Pagan community.

The more Paganism is spotlighted as a serious, and acceptable religion, the more Magic will be pushed into the background, into the shadows. That suits me fine. Paganism is growing up. It's becoming a religion with both clergy and laity, some of whom will fire off the occasional spell from time to time, much like your average Catholic with a Novena, but mostly want to worship and be left alone to watch Sports Center or take up bee keeping. (I totally want to take up bee keeping.) That will free up space for we, professional workers, to be left alone and do our jobs.

To me it highlights the difference between Witchcraft and Priestcraft. Priests take care of the public religion, hell, even private religions, and is both pastoral and social. Witchcraft is the stuff of secrets, where we weave the future. As I am bucking for clergy-hood myself, I will be doing both, but there is a big difference between the two, though they overlap. Once there is a clearer split between the religion of Neopaganism, and the Craft proper, I think those who perform either or both roles will be able to navigate the waters of society far better.

We will always have our secrets. They will not be diluted. They will not disappear. The Mysteries are mysteries for a reason. They honestly aren't a good fit for everyone. Let them stay for those who have the talent and inclination for them.

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