3/25/08

How long must we wait for a serious discussion?

Moon: Waning Sap Moon, in Scorpio
Weather: Fair skies, seasonably cool, there is a thaw underway

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I open my post today with the same question that I put as my title:
How long must we wait for a serious discussion?
Now, you may be wondering just what we're supposed to be discussing seriously. The discussion in question is over how Witchcraft will proceed forward. Not just one Tradition/sect, but the entire community. There's a group of people who uphold themselves as Elders. Generally, they're not questioned by the population that have come after them and are found to be leaders in the community. Some of these people have founded their own traditions and others have been practicing witchcraft longer then the others about them, thus are viewed as Elders.

I do not claim to be an Elder. I haven't reached that point yet in my life where I feel that I have sufficient experience to be able to claim that title rightfully. However, I have worked as a High Priestess and I have run a few covens over the years. I think this gives me some grounds to hold this discussion with the Elders of our community. This combined with my years of serious study has prepared me for this discussion that simply must happen.

There is a looming crisis within the community of Witchcraft that has been ignored for at least a decade if not longer. Some elements of this crisis have been actively encouraged, even, and this must not continue. The community of Witchcraft has hit a point in our growth and development that we now need to make some tough decisions and answer some serious questions. The discussion that needs to happen is focused upon several different points, but they all combine into creating this crisis.

It's been a thing that we just don't discuss. There have been people who have used Witchcraft in it's various different Traditions/sects (including but not limited to the myriad forms of Wicca) to manipulate and abuse others. Often, this is put down by the community at large as the actions of a fringe group and we do our best to say that the responsibility for that action is squarely upon the shoulders of that person who has done so. We can not, however, continue to do this. Within the community of Witchcraft, especially within the traditions of Wicca that are known to the mainstream population, there has been an environment cultivated that encourages such things. The tolerance of this must not continue.

As a community, we need to not merely denounce and reject the actions of these people. We need to change the culture of our community and actively resist this. Witches have been struggling for the entire time that we've been in the public eye (in the modern era of Witchcraft) to repudiate the concept that we are a dangerous cult. As we're insisting that we are not a dangerous cult, unfortunately, there has been a great deal of effort poured in to whitewash the cults that operate under the auspices of our practices. I'm not talking about one tradition, but virtually all of the traditions of Witchcraft have been abused and encouraged to become safe havens for those who would use the relationship of the coven, especially the leadership positions within a coven, as vehicles for manipulating coven members into doing what they want.

This must stop! We can not tolerate this anymore. The community of Witchcraft needs to change so that we are not turning a blind eye to abuse any more. The community of Witchcraft needs to change so that we are not implicitly encouraging the establishment of covens that are run on the basis of the authority of one person. All dissenting voices should not be silenced. If we truly have Elders in our community, if we truly have leaders in our community, they need to step forward and assume the mantle of leadership and act the part, not simply say that they are.

I am a country witch. I haven't spent much time in the urban setting and I recognize that many, many witches are from that upbringing. I am a hereditary witch. Some of the ways that I do things are how I've been taught in my family and are going to be quite different from how others do them in their traditions. I am a scholar of my religion, a theologian of sorts, and I have quite high standards for what I expect myself to state to others with respect to what I believe and my practices.

These facts and many more that make me different from other witches, does not change the fact that the community of witchcraft needs to change. We can not tolerate this attitude that people who disagree with the Elders are somehow evil or out to destroy witchcraft. And yes, I have encountered that attitude many, many times. We can not tolerate this attitude that the word of the Elders is law and to be obeyed. Nor should we worship the ground they walk upon. They are human. They are failable just as I and anyone else are. In the words of my own mother, they need to take of their britches to shit, too.

This is a change that needs made from the younger part of the community. From the Elders, we need to see true leadership. Not mandates from on high, not holding forth on a topic for the sake of having your acolytes parrot back to you things you feel are particularly brilliant. This kind of thing is a large part of the reason why people left the more mainstream faiths. They did not want some one handing down to them dictates of how to practice their beliefs. And we also need the Elders to not simply dismiss a questioning voice or a dissenting opinion.

Engage in real discussion and present why that dissenting opinion is incorrect, if it truly is. Those who question should be embraced because they are looking for teachers. As Elders, you have a responsibility to teach others. You have a duty to guide them on their path and help them to master the tools they need to reach their own goals. You, yourselves, have questioned your own teachers. You were not batted down and ordered to be silent. You were not chastised and mocked for it. You were not punished for challenging your teachers.

Cease and desist in this barbarism that you are engaging in, Elders. You prove yourselves unworthy of the positions of leadership that you have claimed. You show that you are little better then the bigoted priests and ministers whom you insisted were ordering your lives about from the pulpit when you started on the road to this point. The only differences between you and them is the clothing and how the setting is composed.

No comments: