Better Living Through Blasphemy: “There are ways of telling whether she is a witch!”

(I originally wasn’t late. WordPress ate this post and I had to re-write it. I shit you not.)

Those fingers through my hair. That sly, come-hither stare that strips my conscience bare. It’s….fucking coincidence, and I’m here to rant to you why on this second attempt at “BLTB.” What, you didn’t think I was just going to pick on the Abrahamic religions, did you?

The pagan community is as expansive as the denotative use of the word, so it’s pretty damn easy to single out subsections of them to tear down when they need a good teeth-kicking, and for tonight’s episode that’s gotta be “fashion witches,” as I’ll be calling them. You know the type: low sense of self worth, shitty life, constant punching bag for others, probably raised in a way-too-conservative household. Suddenly, she watches The Craft or The Dresden Files, maybe finds her way to the “New Age” section of her local bookstore, and poof! She’s a regular magical being now. Totally in touch with the elements and their uses. Knows how to shake hands with a demon. How to ward her house against bad juju. Or, you know, how to waste hundreds of dollars on complete and utter bullshit.

Now, I’m not saying magic isn’t real. It more than likely is, or at the very least it’s a good explanation for what science cannot yet fathom or explain. However, not everyone’s a magician just because they’ve memorized a passage out of the Lesser Key of Solomon or have looked in to utilizing the book of Psalms as a series of Hoodoo incantations.  It doesn’t work that way, at least not in my opinion. You’re not a “witch” or “Wiccan” just because you bought a few books and started calling yourself such. By that foolish line of thought, looking at my bookshelf, I’m a shoe-in for Kwisatz Haderach. 

Magic is…well, we can’t really narrow it down because most of us don’t comprehend it properly, myself included. I’ll admit I like where Prof. Arthur Vursluis is going with his brief essay, though. However, I just can’t fathom the concept of being a “magician” or “practitioner” or whatever the fuck you want to call yourself this week simply because you bought a bunch of poorly-written books, skimmed them once, and then went off to your local craft store to buy “reagents.” It’s more likely – as I’ve mentioned – applied scientific principles simple minds cannot comprehend. Pyrokinesis? “Casting a fireball?” More than likely introduction of an accelerant, or even spontaneous combustion. Levitation? Probably some manner of electromagnetic manipulation, or if you’re some dick street magician, special pants and a box. Invisibility? No. You’re naked, it’s awkward, we don’t wanna look at you because you’re weirding us all out. Put some pants on.

There are of course other magical phenomena to examine and tear apart, but I’ll leave that task to those wiser than I. Well, save a couple. Jesus walking on water? Modern thought argues that he was probably on a sandbar or even ice, or maybe he was treading shallow water and kinda buoyant, like you may experience in the Dead Sea if you’re agile enough. Laying on hands? “Spiritual healing?” Well, unless you’re at least a 4th-level Paladin, you’re probably just practicing shiatsu, reiki, or a similar method of bio-electricity-based healing, even if you were never formally informed. “Divination?” Cold reading and confirmation bias personified.

This is where I’d normally show at least a little remorse and make some half-hearted apologies, but this time I shall not. I don’t care if I’m “sucking wonder from the world” because you dumbasses did it first. Magic is not some fad you pick up and put down when it suits you – not even if it’s chaos magic, which can be kind of…fickle. It’s a wide range of practiced arts with at least a little scientific backing, even if the backing is veiled. It takes effort and dedication, not flowery words from some aging middle-class white chick who adopted a bad D&D character name. You wanna be a witch? You wanna practice magic? I won’t stop you, but you should probably stop this Barnes & Noble bullshit and find ways to actually learn and understand what you think you’re trifling with.

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