A few years ago, I went on a small adventure — a “journey” into the realm of Spirit and Other Such Ephemeral Delights. I studied Wicca, Witchcraft, bits and bobs of Ritual Magick, Shamanism, you name it, I read about it and saw the possibility of using it positively in a purely symbolic way. I saw benefits in visualisation and meditation, and I even found that runes and the Tarot could be really effective at “framing” and “sorting” things I already knew. I liked the earth-based belief systems, because they possessed an (at times rather superficial) awareness of our relationship with “the planet”, and the concept of “oneness” had a poetic appeal. But beyond that, I never “believed” in the way that the vast majority do.
Oddly, this didn’t hinder me in the least when my time came to take over the Yahoo group of eclectic Wiccans I’d joined about two months earlier. Apparently, the existing group owner (who’d been doing this stuff for decades!) had me down as a “natural” (for “natural”, read “mug”.) I was already considered an authority by the group and, one small power struggle aside, my transition from ordinary bloke to know-it-all eclectic Wiccan took, in total, about three months.
I made some genuine and sincere friends there, let me first make that clear. I didn’t set out to “infiltrate” the group so that I could write about it later (though I’m doing it now, and may write more in the future, this was not my intention at the time.) I was aware that the majority had a very literal interpretation of things that I only viewed as symbolic — but I managed to skirt round that. I was creative. With a little imagination (a very telling phrase), it’s amazing just what can be achieved.
Today, I find even my non-mystical interpretations of the “spiritual” etc. relatively worthless. I’ve found more effective methods of ordering my thoughts, relaxing and motivating myself. And as for the dreamcatcher-flogging, show-me-your-Chakras-and-I’ll-show-you-mine hordes, I despair at the way their brand of escapism is, as Mike pointed out here, being legitimised — and even funded by the tax-payer!
Below is Episode Two of Richard Dawkins’ Enemies of Reason series — titled, very appropriately, “The Irrational Health Service”. Episode One is also available through YouTube, but I feel this is the really important one. Please try to spare a few minutes to watch it and let me know what you think.
Sorry?… Oh. What happened to the group? You don’t really want to know… do you?