CRAFT FOR SALE? By Alicia 1995/2012
When I originally wrote this opinion piece the whole New Age money machine was just getting into gear.
Sad to say not much has changed. I make absolutely no apology for having high ideals and trying to stick to them. After thirty years in the Craft I’ve never regretted having high standards, but I have been done over, spiritually speaking, after relaxing these standards. No one is perfect, but don’t let your eagerness to belong blind you to the many shady operators still lying in wait for the credulous.
And if you do fall foul of an unpleasant experience don’t give up and think we are all tarred with the same brush. The universe will put you in the way of what you need, but it’s up to you to develop the first and most important of all the magical virtues – discrimination.
I put pen to paper once again with a deep sense of foreboding. In the way that I was taught witchcraft, straight and old fashioned as it was, you did not sell what you were taught,
just as you did not pay to learn it. This was a fundamental bottom line so basic that the
idea of money never entered into it. Trust, love, a personal dedication to the service of the Old Ones – all these things were demanded and freely given, but money? Hardly!
If witchcraft, and its less demanding sister neo-paganism, are ever to be taken seriously by the general public and move out of being seen as lunatic fringe cults, into the realm
of a legitimate minority religion or practice (as it must if we are ever to be safe again)
then a lot of people who presently gain large remuneration from the desires of unwise and eager seekers had best have a really good think about their motives.
“Prosperity Consciousness” – what a disgusting concept this has become when applied to the buying and selling of spiritual guidance or development – a truly obscene practice.
Solid work, by many dedicated witches and pagans, has been done over many years to
provide a base for the consolidation of all that is good and spiritually sustaining in our Path.
This is now in danger of being grossly undermined and contaminated by the poisonous
greed of commercialism.
I am quite nauseated by the glossy flyers that advertise “ A weekend workshop in Genuine Shamanism”. O please, spare me! Or we can choose from any one of dozens of combinations of crystal-head pseudo-philosophy, or ill-understood Native pathways that have been pruned and sanitized for suburban consumption. Or perhaps you would prefer a quick course in do-it-yourself witchcraft that can have you running your own coven in six months (with 28 initiates) – always provided you can cough up the necessary cash. It’s like a nightmare supermarket, something for everyone and always with a hefty price ticket.
Just remember the Mystery is not now and never has been for sale, neither is the key to the Otherworld. Those people who seek to avoid commitment by turning the learning experience into a business transaction are exactly those who are grossly unsuitable for entry into the Craft.
Being a Witch is something that occupies your whole life. It is that thing by which you approach the universe, full of joy, wonder and desire. It is a brilliant, passionate, wonderful spiritual Path, a love affair with the Universe. It is emphatically not expensive weekend workshops, tacky, glossy brochures or questionable DVD’s.
A witch should live with joy and dignity in the world, doing clean, honest work, teaching those students the Gods send to her, loving our Mother Earth and serving Her in the best way possible. I was taught to aspire to a life of constant learning and the deep satisfaction that comes from doing a worthwhile task as well as you can.
And those relationships that develop between teacher and student, between initiate and initiator should be like shining stars of experience – not the grubby, commercial, limited production-line feed-out of bought and paid for rituals.
I have heard it argued that if this truly deplorable avenue of buying the Craft was not available then many people who want knowledge would be unable to get it. Well, if that’s true, then so be it. But of course it’s a huge lie and a ten cent photocopy on A4 paper, covered in a sensible booklist, would more than adequately cover most information that is to be found in print. As these so-called teachers well know, as it is usually their own source of income. Which is why good booklists are conspicuously absent from most so-called and very expensive witchcraft courses.
The Craft is a Mystery Religion. It is not suitable in any way to mass appeal nor was it ever meant to be. It is a religion without congregation, where priestesses and priests celebrate the Sacred Year in intensely joyful and secret rituals, far from prying eyes. Neo-paganism is much more suitable for a greater number of people and is far easier to approach – there are heaps of books available. It, too, approaches the Mystery but is much less demanding of time and commitment.
Nobody whom seeks need remain in ignorance. Compared to even twenty years ago the amount of information available in print is overwhelming. There are public gatherings which can be found, and, as always, there is nothing to prevent people who feel the need of fellowship from forming their own groups for study and ritual.
If our religion is to survive and continue as a force for balance and harmony in the world, we must reject the temptation of monolithic organizations and the pursuit of money. Our self-declared rivals and enemies have this area very well covered. If we try to play the game by their rules we shall surely lose – relegated to the lunatic fringe as we would deserve. Our strength is our diversity, our ability to bring joy into the world, our Will to serve the Mother - not our own egos and pockets.
Think well siblings, Wise and Blessed Be.