Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Faith of Calm-the-Fuck-Down

First off, I totally want to make #badwitchtips a thing.

Anyway, I'm declaring a new tradition of Witchcraft.  That's not actually true, but hear me out... in the past few weeks of reading the inspirational tips and quotes the other Witches and Pagans post to Twitter, I feel there's something that needs to be said.


Recently I read a "tip" stating that if a candle goes out during ritual it's a sign that there's an evil spirit present.  After hearing boogeymanesque stories about Ouija boards and pissing off dragons by blowing out candles and avoiding divination by bonfires and buying Tarot decks for yourself, this should have been same-old-same-old, but it's honestly getting very annoying.

OK, I understand that some of you are in traditions that consider these things daily realities.  I'm not saying that there aren't harmful spirits, energies, or even demons that you should learn to ward or that you shouldn't follow whatever tradition you wish.  I'm not even saying that you can't act as though these things could be an attack on you, just in case.  But acting as though these baddies are somehow behind every misbehaving candle does a huge disservice to Pagans and Witches and especially prospective Pagans and Witches who may wind up scared away from a faith that could seriously inspire them because every other person is making it out to be ridiculously dangerous.

Witchcraft isn't ridiculously dangerous.  Just think through what magick you want to use, follow your personal moral code when you do it, and avoid accidentally doing something stupid with your ritual tools and you should be fine.  This is the same kind of advice I'd give you if you were using a blender or a power screwdriver for the first time.

As I was doing research for an I.T. related thing, I came across a quote.  It said "When you see hoof prints, look for horses and not zebras."  In this context, that means if something goes wrong, you should look for obvious or mundane reasons why before leaping to the conclusion of spiritual attack.

If your candle goes out during a ritual, the vast majority of the time it'll be because you have a cheap candle, it got hit by a draft, the wick got drowned in the wax, or some other terribly mundane thing happened.  If you're certain that this isn't the case (you always have a candle go out during a particular ritual, for example, regardless of the brand of candle or where you hold the ritual), that still doesn't necessarily mean it's an evil spirit.  It could be an Akh/Ancestor, for example, or even a warning from a good spirit that this isn't a ritual you should be doing.  Making a point to tell people a candle going out during a ritual is a sign of an evil spirit when there are so many other explanations just serves to scare people.

In other words, you're allowed to calm down.  Viewing the world like a set of supernatural hazards that can be triggered by even the most innocent of events is the kind of attitude that causes witch hunts.  And the last thing we should want is to make those worse.