History of Witchcraft, Magic, and Science – In this class, I learned about witchcraft and magic from a scholarly perspective. Suddenly it all made sense in historical, social, and scientific terms, and there was no need to imbue it with supernatural meaning. I feel like this was a recurring theme for me. The more I really understood things, the less I needed the supernatural to explain them. And indeed, I learned about the birth of science and the way that it little by little eliminated the need for supernatural explanations and lessened the authority of magic. I came to see the supernatural as something historically employed by people ignorant of how the world works to explain phenomenon they couldn’t understand. Once I saw the past in these terms, I had to wonder about my own beliefs.
This class did something more, though. It helped me historicize the rise of the New Right and revealed its racist and classist origins. I suddenly saw the religious right (and the New Right in general) as a problematic social phenomenon rather than as unchanging truth or as a Biblical injunction. Furthermore, I learned about the New Left of the 1960s and read its Port Huron Statement. I could not understand how a movement which embraced such ideals as democracy, equality, and global brotherhood and fought to end poverty, racism, materialism, militarism, and exploitation could be evil or selfish as I had been taught. At this point, I aligned myself solidly with the political left and left the right behind forever. This transition was aided by the fact that I had already taken the class on modern Europe one semester before, and had there lost my fear of socialism.