To Be a Witch: A Response Post Pt. I

Tar Pit #3

How tame we have become. How polite about our witchcraft. In our desire to harm none we have become harmless.

Truth speaks, uttered forth, and realization hits. My stomach tightens and my jaw clenches.

I will not be part of this process, because to do so is to be complicit with the very forces that are destroying all life on earth. It is time for Witchcraft not to choose, but to remember which side it is on in this struggle.

A fire burns deep in my belly and my throat tenses. Again, realization hits. We have given up everything– our roots, our truth, our power. We have disempowered, hell even dismembered ourselves in an attempt to be accepted by the masses. I chuckle, a bitterness coating my tongue, as I remember defending my new-found neopagan beliefs to my mother, insisting that it was no baby-devouring devil that I worshipped, but the green beauty of the earth and a loving goddess… Harm None, says the Rede… all the while the dripping of rooster blood onto black feathers and brick dust across the threshold called to me, but I turned away, heart aching, for fear of being outcast.

Ours is a practice grounded in the land, in the web of spirit relationships, in plant and insect and animal and bird. This is where we must orientate our actions, this is where our loyalty lies.

This is where our loyalties lie. With root and rock and stone and beast and bird… Months, no, a year or two ago I spoke of the duty, the responsibility, that we as pagans and witches have to defend the earth. How we claim to be “earth worshippers” and yet we can’t even be bothered to recycle. But I was dismissed, my words brushed aside. Offense was taken, my words faded into the wind that blows dry and crackling with toxic particles that are killing us as we breathe. But here– here I have found someone once more stepping up, and he is being held aloft, his words spread ’round. It’s about damn time someone starts listening to what some of us have been trying to say. But he has a much more terrible, a much more sinister picture he has painted. But it is one that is most needed, I feel, to jar us awake and knee-jerk us into a reaction if we are to save anything, much less ourselves.

No living system that can escape the fate which our actions have bound it to. We are living in the age of absolute ecological collapse. Habitat loss is occurring at a staggering rate, driven by what industrial civilisation has in common with the religions of the Book: the view that nature, like woman, is ours to dominate.

Terror and a deep sadness I have not felt in a long time weighs heavy in my heart. My chest tightens to match the restriction in my throat like a serpent squeezing tighter and tighter with its soft belly scales cold and smooth on my skin. This is what we have done. This is what we are doing. We are experiencing the largest extinction event in the history of the world– including that of the dinosaurs. And it is all. Our. Doing.

So what does our world look like?
Let me describe to you our power animals.

Wolf carcasses bored through with rifle point. Wet piles of Golden Eagles and Buzzards fed poisoned meat. Sharks long-lined and finned by fishing fleets that have butchered through the Tuna shoals we have fed to our plague of familiar cats. Barn Owls bleeding from their eyes and hæmorrhaging their guts down ghost white plumage due to the warfarin in rat poison. Toads and amphibian life mutating into monstrous pained death, whose gelatinous bones do not float back up the river.

Tears well in my eyes, I bite my lip. Read it again. And again. We say we are earth-worshippers, animists, druids, shamans, witches… Then BE that which you claim to be. DO that which you are meant to do– your charge stands before you cloaked in crude oil, belly filled with plastic. Your enemy stands before you, honey-tongued and black-suited with pen in hand as the resources of the world are signed away, as another 10,000 species become extinct. Your fellow pagans and witches are not the enemy. Nay, in a time as critical as this, there cannot be strife amongst allies.

Seawater so acidic that the shells of molluscs are dissolving. Oceans overfished to the extent that they resemble deserts, seabeds ploughed to destruction, micro-particles of indigestible plastic poisioning bird life and turtles, reefs bleached, plankton populations which are the building blocks of all ocean life disappearing…Water, I bid you hail and welcome.

All life comes from the sea, and without it, we would be nothing. Our tears as acidic as the waters that now cannot hold life nor oxygen enough for us to breathe. Our bones returned to a desert landscape no longer lush and green.

The Earth itself is exhausted, soil degradation endemic, washed with its nitrogen fertilisers into our already poisoned seas. The living Earth is fragile, it takes a hundred years to form a centimetre of topsoil. Farmland is a limited resource and eroding fast… Insect populations will soon not be able to pollinate the crops… The wheel of the year has been broken. Earth, I bid you hail and welcome.

People speak of peak oil, but no one is considering peak soil. Our foods are becoming less and less nutritious as our crops grow in pesticide-laden soil that has been stripped of its vitamins, minerals, bacteria, and fungi. Soon they simply will be unable to grow at all. Bees are dying at an unsustainable rate. Butterflies are disappearing. Amphibians are suffering horrible mutations and terrible deaths. We are growing as a population too fast to support it.

This is where you should feel the knot of fear in your stomach. The CO2 emissions that are wreaking havoc now are the result of what we burned forty years ago. Since then we have engaged in an orgy of denial and consumption. There is no tech-fix in the Anthropocene, the age of manmade climate change. Nothing has been done… Clearly we are being lied to. Clearly something is very wrong. Air and Fire, I bid you hail and welcome

My eyes close, pressing out tears that roll in rivulets down freckled cheeks, wetting lips that may never again feel truly fresh, clean, nontoxic water cross them. Lips that wish to spread wide and let forth a raging cry to the world. But none would hear me, it seems.

Some will be afraid of this knowledge; witchcraft should be liberated by it, liberated from petty concerns to pursue lives of beauty, liberated from the sleepwalking into death that our culture has made for us and our children. So I counsel, confront death. For witchcraft to be anything other than the empty escapism of the socially dysfunctional or nostalgia for bygone ages, it needs to feel the shape of its skull, venerate the dead and the sacred art of living and dying with meaning. We are all on the fierce path now.

Confront death, not by pretending that you have cut a deal with the Elder Vampire Gods invented for you by some internet Dark Witch fantasist in their over-priced books. Confront death, not by pretending that a beautiful Beltane ritual and a blue sky means everything will stay the same. Confront death, not by practicing the magic of ploughmen and wortcunners in your urban appartment believing that it makes you more authentic than any given Wiccan…

Witchcraft has never been about turning the other cheek to this. The witch has been created by the land to speak and act for it… We need to offer the death rites in a culture that pretends that death can be cheated by buying the latest i-gadget or hooking ourselves up to plasma bags of young blood… If you are engaged in witchcraft I suggest that you work on the lament, on your death rites, your eschatology and on your spirit body. There are the examples to emulate of those sensitively lifting roadkill from the asphalt for burial or reanimation, tending the graves of their neglected local cemetery, lighting candles for their ancestors, remembering the lost children.

If you call yourself a Witch, if you call yourself a Pagan, an Animist, an Earth-Worshipper of any kind. Take a look around you. Open your eyes to the world. Open yourself to the Spiritworld. And step across. We need you for this fight. The earth needs you. Leave behind the capitalist materialism and constant hate between yourself and others– the continual attempt to separate us and keep us wary, untrusting, and isolated. Take up your stang, and step into the role you claim. Before it is too late. And, as a final note, I will leave you with one last quote. I encourage you vehemently to go and read the article quoted herein in its entirety. And read it again. And then, once you’ve read it (and hopefully read it at least twice) go and read a response article by Sarah Anne Lawless. And then, go be a fucking witch.

Witchcraft has never been passive in the face of power. Our witchcraft will not be silenced at a time such as this, it will not be polite. Witchcraft cannot retreat to the wilderness, because there is no exterior wilderness left; instead we need to exteriorize our inner wild. We need to wake up the animal in our bodies. This is witchcraft as contagion, as living flame. We witches must however reluctantly return the curse that has been laid upon us all.

manifesto_1

Quotes (and photos) taken from the article, “Rewilding Witchcraft” over at the Scarlet Imprint website. Please read it in its entirety here: http://scarletimprint.com/2014/06/rewilding-witchcraft/

Please read Sarah Lawless’ response post here: http://sarahannelawless.com/2014/07/01/the-witch-and-the-wild/

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2 thoughts on “To Be a Witch: A Response Post Pt. I”

  1. I am rather speechless. Your words do not fall on deaf ears, we witches, or atleast this one is listening. In response I’d say we need to cultivate life, not drown ourselves in the death of what your society has done. By focusing on the life around us we can use rhetoric that the people will understand, by cultivating life they will hopefully follow and I might also note that not all of us abide by the Wiccan rede. Witch doesn’t mean Wiccan it means something far, far more ancient.
    Wishing you all the best in saving the green where you are,
    Sarah

    1. You’re right, witch does not mean Wiccan (though many Wiccans call themselves witches) and not all witches or pagans follow the Rede. However, as someone who practices a much different pagan and witchcraft path from modern lightworkers and wiccans (and as someone who started in wicca– which is why that reference was made in my post), the majority of the pagan community associates with the Rede in some form or another, and those of us who practice more traditional and/or ‘darker’ (whatever that means) paths that have blood and bone and sacrifice and curses involved, we are ostracized and put down for our “bad ways” by other pagans. The majority of the pagan and witchy community has taken on this “we’re ALL lightworkers and Harm-None wiccans/witches!” in order to make ourselves sugar-coated for those who follow the “majority religion” (ie. monotheistic Abrahamic religions)… we have been trying to validate our practices and “fit in” and it has bitten us on the ass quite frankly.

      In response to your other remark, I do think that there are multiple aspects that need to be recognized and cultivated. I agree with the quoted article’s author in his talking about witches rising up, resuming our old ‘face’ so to speak, and re-learning and creating the death-rights and things like that. Bring back ceremony. Essentially I think he was getting at this: make peace with the fact that death is imminent. And then get to know death, and yet LIVE. Work with the spirits, work with the land. Work with yourself and your family. I was talking with Midnight about this yesterday and we feel like those who will survive will be those who do these things and learn to re-wild themselves and teach their children those skills– how to make a snare and butcher meat, how to wildcraft herbs (and the knowledge of herbalism)– particularly your *local* flora (this is key here).. How to live off the land and be a part of the land, and a part of the spirit world and working with spirits, particularly (as Sarah Lawless puts it) working in the realm of bioregional animism. We might do a follow up post in regards to all that actually…
      Blessings, and thank you for your thoughts ~
      Isáine

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