It must be a powerful temptation for someone who has spent years as a spokesman for witchcraft to feel a certain sense of entitlement. Ray Buckland, author of multiple books, veteran seminar-giver and media personality, certainly does. He proved it with his response to our public hexing of Brock Turner, rapist and poster child for white male privilege, when he said:
So very sorry to see so many people who call themselves “witches” talking about hexing people. Just undoing all the work that we pioneers worked so hard to do. WITCHES DO NOT HEX PEOPLE; DO NOT DO NEGATIVE MAGIC – period!
It would be wrong to underplay Ray’s contributions to the Craft. He is a pillar of the community, and among those who regularly act as a spokesman and public face for witchcraft. And therein lies the rub.
Ray Buckland isn’t witchcraft.
Ray Buckland is one among many. Let’s not confuse his public visibility with deep knowledge, magickal ability or any special authority in the field in which he claims himself (quite conveniently) to be a pioneer. I don’t begrudge Ray his visibility or his success. On the contrary, I’m truly happy for him. He’s a successful spokesman and media figure, not an Ipsissimus or ritualist. He needs to understand where he gets off the bus.
Ray’s visibility is due in part to his willingness to soft-peddle a palatable form of witchcraft to the masses. In our Christianized society, wherein people are conditioned to meekly accept the wrongs done to them by the rich and powerful, one cannot hope to achieve celebrity without first playing lickspittle to the ideas of Christianity. A meek witch who “harms none” poses no threat to the power structure. We learned this the hard way during the Burning Times, when Christianity spread its influence across Europe by flame and sword, murdering hundreds of thousands of practitioners of the old religion.
But these aren’t the Burning Times anymore.
Much attention in this discussion has centered on the so-called Rede, or Witches’ “Law”, variations of which boil down to:
An’ it harm none, do as ye will.
Students of the Craft revere this maxim. But we also recognize it as one version with multiple variations:
Do what thou wilt. [Satanism]
Do what Thou Wilt Shall be the Whole of the Law. [Thelema]
Nothing is true, everything is permitted. [misc. LHP trads]
These variations speak to different traditions – something Ray failed to do in his sweeping, blanket condemnation of those of us who participated in the hexing. This action was not taken lightly, nor was it taken without appreciation of the context. My friend and high-priestess Melanie Hexen is to be thanked for providing a needed ritualistic prism through which to focus the frustration and rage so many of us are feeling.
Simply put: Brock Turner is privileged white kid from a family with money whose only punishment for raping an unconscious woman, penetrating her vagina with foreign objects and then texting suggestive pics of her naked body to his swim-team pals is a 12 week stretch in a country club jail.
This is a fucking outrage.
An all-too familiar one.
Witchcraft flourished in feudal Europe as a reaction to the greed and corruption of the priestly and land-owning classes. Since then, we have watched as Christianity has been complicit in erecting the tower of Western culture, blessing and anointing kings (later Presidents) and providing a sop to the conscience of any who would practice genocide, rape, torture, child abuse and apocalyptic levels of environmental destruction. We have listened to the “thoughts and prayers” of Janus-faced politicians who wave with one hand while stuffing money in their pockets with the other. And we have tasted the bitter ashes of outcome: misogyny, widespread poverty, institutionalized racism, hunger, war and global warming. The Empire is one of violence and oppression: particularly to wildlife, women and children. Now it’s killing the planet.
And we say: enough.
Christianity, Judaism and Islam have all demonstrated their utter failure and impotence as a moral force in this new millennium. As the monotheistic religions whittle each other’s numbers down by means of terrorism and exploitation, we in the Craft find ourselves faced with a conundrum. Can we continue to support a socio-political system so hostile to life? And can we afford to hesitate using what few weapons we have left at our disposal to fight injustice and the threat of global extinction?
I understand, Ray. We make compromises to become public figures. We measure and temper our speech. But after a certain period, this amounts to tailoring our thoughts and beliefs. Quite simply: you’ve sold out.
And we’re just getting started.