An argument with Carla O'Harris (1)

Originally Posted by Carla O'Harris
Do the words "benandanti" have any meaning? Or how about "community self-policing"?

Ms. O'Harris, you may have a valid point about community self-policing, as most communities do establish a certian set of activities and behaviors that are viewed as acceptable. Usually this set of acceptable things are proven to be the benefit of the group at large and is not questioned by the group members, thus being agreed upon by acquiescence.

On the matter of the benandanti, however, you are sorely mistaken. Not all witches subscribe to the organization of the tradition of Strega or related traditions of Greco/Etruscan descent. For that matter, the subsect that is promoted by these traditions makes up a relatively minor portion of the population of practicing witches. The vast majority of witchcraft practiced is the fruit of Anglo-Celtic origin, predominantly of English revisionist witchcraft, as seen in Gardener's work. The point of this rambling, is that the majority of the witches you encounter are not operating under the auspices of the benandanti or some other group of sacred elders.

I highly advise that you recall this, as I know it may be rather foregin to the tradition/sect of witchcraft that you practice. Assuming that all other witches are beholden to some group of sacred elders is on par with declaring that a tradition with such elders is a matter of orthodoxy and an integral part of the structure of the religion of witchcraft. Witchcraft, however, is not constrained by such orthodoxy, as I am sure you are aware. It appears, however, that you are stating this.

Intent to harm is fairly clear. The distinction between self-defense and various forms of assault and tort are made every day in courts of law, and are not made up in the moment, but based on clear guidelines and precedents, a body of law that is anything but "subjective".

Ms. O'Harris, are you familiar with the legal distinction between self-defense and assault? Would you please present it to us or perhaps kindly clarify this point, as I do not see how this directly relates to the discussion. Are you arguing that intent to harm is an essential component to assault or that intent to harm can be classed in two different categories: self-defense and assault?

The community has such a right, and as a member of the community who cares about others in that community, I do have the right to speak up about violence within that community, and injuries done.

I find little place to argue with your statement here. The only thing that I see here is begging questions: What is the role of the community in relation to the individual? What is the role of the individual in relation to the community? What is the role of individuals, within this community, with relation to eachother? In short, Ms. O'Harris, what is the social contract in place here?

Someone earlier spoke about magical practitioners doing curses for hire. I wonder how a community would feel about completely unregulated mercenaries and assassins for hire? That sounds like the mayhem of gang rule. I don't see why the application of force however arcane the methodology should be subject to no regulation simply because the mechanisms are less well understood.

This returns back to the question of what is the social contract within the community. It's ironic that you state the question of "how a community would feel about completely unregulated mercenaries and assassins for hire?" in the light of the fact that such things are in play in our "mundane" society. You don't usually think about such unplesant things, do you, Ms. O'Harris? Or, am I incorrect in my estimation and you are deeply troubled by this matter as well? The matter of such ... unsavory professions and individuals aside, there is another statement you made that I find most interesting as well.

"I don't see why the application of force however arcane the methodology should be subject to no regulation simply because the mechanisms are less well understood."

The application of force must be regulated, is this what you are arguing? I presume this theoretical regulation would include a listing of scenarious where force is viewed as acceptable and unacceptable. Who would compile such a listing, Ms. O'Harris? Can you personally assure me that this listing would be ehxaustive and touch upon each and every circumstance where force is contemplated as an option? Thus, if I were in a position where I had to choose between lethal and non-lethal action in the defense of myself, my family, my interests, my property or the life and well being of others, I could make an informed decision?

I highly doubt that you, a well meaning and upstanding member of society at large and a respected individual within the Pagan community, can grant me such assurances. I also highly doubt that such an exhaustive list can be compliled. We can not expect others to view a given situation through the same lense as we do, Ms. O'Harris, and as such can not expect them to view every situation as we would. For this reason, we must work to secure our liberties rather then place more constraints upon the tresspasses.

It is far easier to lose freedom then to gain it.

And I do have the right to speak out about whether I want to live in a community where people enact violence on the basis of resentment, envy, projection, and a host of other pathological, un-worked-through emotions. Again, the resultant sounds like Lord of the Flies with Grimoires. A pathologically repress/ed/ive concept of good should not inspire a reactionary intrigue with pathologically repress/ed/ive concepts of evil or dark, but a revisioning of good. This fascination with the "dark" puzzles me. I, too, love the night, the shade, and shadows ; and in a literary or theatrical context can appreciate a good villain as much as anyone else --- but in real life, there is already so much suffering that revelling in it or seeking to perpetuate it to me seems like a decadent, pathological luxury.

Ms. O'Harris, I am ... appauled by your blanket statement. You, of all people, should realize that "dark" magic is not all based upon the socially defined traits of evil (resentment, envy, projection, greed, anger, sloth, etc.). "Dark" magic is a thereputic tool in resolving the rifts within ourselves that such emotions can create. It has means by which we can expunge the excess of said emotions and come to terms with them.

This is but one of many, many possibilities of "dark" magic, Ms. O'Harris. A banishment is a form of "dark" magic. It involves the sending away of something. Thus, a person who is ill with a severe cold can aid the healing from said illness by performing a banishment. Is this something motivated by the traits commonly associated with "dark" magic by society at large? The communication with the dead is classically considered a "dark" art. I see no evidence of malice prompting this, for in most cases it is an innate talent.

Madam, unless you provide evidence to clarify your sentiments, I am forced to say that you are as blind on the topic of "dark" magic as the people who are inclined to persecute us. My reasoning for this is because your statements all indicate that you feel that we are at dire risk of playing with forces of evil that will consume us, no matter what form of "dark" magic we work. I do hope that a teacher of the Craft, such as yourself, is more enlightened then this and that my estimation of this point is based on misinterpreting your words.

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