Sunday, December 20, 2009

Have You Had This Daymare?

I'm willing to bet that there are very few of us who call ourselves "witch" who haven't imagined it. The angry crowd, the knock at the door, the rough hands, the rope, the calm and completely self-satisfied torture, the moment when we'll say anything, even name others, the pyre, the choking, the blistering skin, the end. I know that I did, that I sometimes still do, that I occasionally wonder if it's worth it to be willing to name myself what I am. When the nights are long and dark and ungentle, when sickness stalks the land, when economic times are tough, it seems even easier to allow ourselves to slip into that sick half memory/half night terror/half rational fear. We may say, "Never again, the burning times," but in an odd way, they're in the "DNA" of our religion, in the psychic "DNA" of every witch.

Sometimes, too, I wonder how it must have been -- how it must be -- for those who don't consider themselves a witch at all. Is it even worse for the pious old woman whose land is just that desirable or who made the mistake of demanding a fair price for her cow? When they call her a witch and she honestly protests that she's nothing of the kind, is it more terrifying because it seems so impossible, or less terrifying because she at least doesn't have that sense that she's been waiting for this, all along?

Of course, there's no answer. And, of course, however horrible we imagine it to be, it was -- it is -- actually worse. Throughout the world today, and especially on the continent of Africa, evangelical xians and others are still torturing and killing others -- mostly women and children (gee, there's a surprise!) -- for the crime of witchcraft. As was probably true during the Inquisition, many of those accused are likely not at all involved in any form of magic or witchcraft. It doesn't matter. It never mattered. When they start burning people for being witches, we real witches are likely to burn.

As we move now into the Solstice, a sacred time for witches, a time when, here in this Hemisphere, Mother Earth turns away from the darkness and begins to move, more and more, into the light, perhaps you could spare some magical protection for those who are persecuted? Someday, I hope, some young woman will realize that she's a witch and will only celebrate that fact, not fear it. Let this Solstice be the beginning of the end of the persecution.

Picture found here.


A Tabla Rasa said...

Haven't had that exact one, but close enough to identify with it.

There should be a better way to define the worship that you do, as compared what the fundies of whatever stripe do. It's like saying that you and the fundie both drive vehicles, only you ride a bicycle and they drive a Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

SunTiger XO said...

I find this posting very interesting. While others call me "witch" I do NOT refer to myself by that name. I am stuck in the old way of thinking ... where witches fly on brooms. I consider myself an herbalist, a self-sustaining back yard gardener instead.

SunTiger XO said...

P.S. I do like your idea of working magical protection for those who are persecuted. {Will do.}

nanoboy said...

Have you ever read Good Omens: the Nice and Accurate Prophecies by Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman? There is a description of Agnes Nutter's (the perfectly prophetic witch who lived in the 1800s) death. She was accurately determined to be a witch by the townspeople, something that she had predicted, of course. They chose to execute her for her heresy, and she insisted that she be burned at the stake.

However, she did so for a purpose. She had carefully hidden many pounds of gunpowder in her clothes, so when it was time to go, she took the rest of her village with her.

I'm not sure where I was going with that, but when I think of the unfortunate practice of burning witches, that scene always comes to mind. It was an awesome book.

Teacats said...

Living here in the Bible Belt -- I can honestly say that I do keep a wary eye out! Although my broom stands at the front door year round and a huge gorgeous brass Greenman door knocker greets guests there and my herbs are planted in those plastic cauldrons sold at Halloween (wonderful plant pots BTW!) -- so far -- things remain steady and quiet here!

Jan at Rosemary Cottage