Saturday, June 18, 2011

There Are no "Black" Witches

"People always ask me about the intent of witchcraft and what it is used for. The answer in 'white' covens is simple: it is to be use the powers for good amongst the circle and its friends."-Vivianne Crowley in "The Book of English Magic."

Blogging is a unique form of written communication. Writing a blog is not like writing a book, there are no large threads connecting various "chapters." It's probably most akin to essay writing, but blogs tend to date easily, and topics you'd never touch on in a book seem to be fair game in the blogosphere. Bloggers are also free to write about nearly anything that touches their fancy, or bothers them. This is one of those short blog posts about something that bugs me, namely the quote above.

Perhaps it's because of the differences in approach to Witchcraft in the United States and witchcraft in Great Britain, but the phrase "in 'white' covens is simple" bothers me greatly. In the United States I've never heard anyone call a coven "white" or "black." If there are legitimate "black" (evil) covens of witches perhaps its time we call ourselves something else? Besides talk of covens being good or evil provides all sorts of fodder to Evangelical types who are convinced that every sabbat celebration is just cover for drunken orgies and baby sacrifice. Why perpetuate the stereotype by claiming that there are some of us who are "bad," which is what Crowley's quote above certainly does.

Having travelled extensively throughout North America I have yet to meet a "black" coven of witches. So far I've encountered no notorious groups attempting to harm people through the power of the Lord and Lady. I have found "Witches" worshipping dark gods like Kali, but that certainly wouldn't make the practitioners evil. Besides, Dionysus rules the lands of death in some versions of his myth, Hermes escorts the souls of the dead to the underworld, and Pan has raped a nymph or two; my gods certainly have moments of "darkness" that I don't want to emulate.

Worshipping a "dark" god can be very empowering. Want to overcome the fear of death? Worship a goddess of it. Need to feel empowered? Worship a deity who controls the portal between this world and the next, there's not much more control than that.

I'm sure that there are people who abuse the principles of magick found within Modern Pagan Witchcraft. It's just as easy to curse instead of cure, but when that boundary is crossed are those people even practicing Witchcraft anymore? "An it harm none, do as you will," while the Wiccan Rede is rather ambiguous (who are the none exactly?), I think we can all agree that cursing someone or trying to bring about harm violates that principle. There aren't a lot of rules in the Modern Craft, but if you break the one rule we have in such an explicit manner, it's hard to say you are still an adherent*.

There are Satanists who have no ethical guidelines akin to the Rede or "The Golden Rule" and some of those people call themselves "witches." I can't control language, and people will call themselves whatever they want, but I certainly wouldn't legitimize them by saying there are two types of witchcraft. Because that's exactly what implying that there are two types of witchcraft does, it legitimizes those who are nothing like the rest of us.

*None of us are perfect, and I've certainly "harmed" my share of people, but it wasn't deliberate. Setting up a spell to cause illness would be quite deliberate.

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