The Total Collapse of Our Living Systems

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Global Care: Why We Need More Than One Earth Day in a Year. Read other perspectives here.

Witchcraft looks sideways to glimpse the truth. When the 2015 Milan Expo is entitled 'Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life' it means the planet is unable to feed a population overshoot and that the energy needs of capitalism are destroying the matrix of life. Africa, the subtext says, we are coming for your crops, and we are armed with more than forks; Arctic, we covet your oil. Food security requires water, requires soil, requires land, requires a steady climate and these are manifestly lacking. War, therefore, is our future. All an Expo can do is shill for GMOs whilst the aquifers are bled dry, farmland is built over, the topsoil washes away, three degrees (plus) of temperature rise create deserts and rain cycles shift unpredictably. The Expo shows that capitalism, which is the crisis, will attempt to profit until the last. The rush of solutions put forward by green industries do not recognize that industrial society itself is the problem; they want to keep the machinery running at full speed by burning the tallow of life.

So do I champion Earth Day as an alternative approach? No. When Earth Day talks about 'a conversation' and 'changing values' it pretends that our imminent extinction is some terrible mistake that we can rectify by patiently explaining the truth to those in power. Unless it identifies the cause of the crisis, and the severity of it, Earth Day will achieve nothing. It is not a harsh presentation of the truth that prevents people taking action. We need to confront our fear and pass through it. Witchcraft works with precisely these forces. The message should be that this is not a crisis, this is the crisis. The total collapse of our living systems is happening. These are not a series of disconnected events, but a set of self-reinforcing feedback loops. The tipping point is passed. Earth Day will only mean something if it puts millions of bodies in the way of the machine, and when it openly supports those who jam and smash the gears. By all means march, and I will support you, but recognize the limitations of doing only that.

Both Earth Day and Expo are examples of how things do not change — one from the position of capitalism as cure, the other by incremental gains. We are not at that stage any more. There is no time for a conversation in the midst of a massacre. We must name the enemy, fix our gaze upon it, and stop it dead. The mainstream faith communities have failed this challenge, they have too much invested, often literally, to lose. Occupy in London foundered on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral, and that will not be forgotten. Occupy will be back, and so will the black bloc. I openly support both sets of tactics and their non-hierarchical structures. This is akin to the form of witchcraft I stand for.

No plucking of celestial HAARPs can change our fate. No tech fix is coming. No rapture. The rich are aiming their lances at Mars to escape from the bloody mess they have made. Your children will soon realize that there is nothing left for them, and that they have no stake in the social order. With no homes, no jobs, no pensions, no clean air, no water and no food, they will be angry, and rightly so, because they have been failed. Witchcraft alone will welcome them. We alone recognize the growing numbers of Generation Dusk.

Let me put it another way: these children will starve to death, and you may well be alive to witness it. That stark assessment is perhaps the only terms in which you will finally get it. Not pollinators folding nimble limbs against their carapaces, not the green tongues that fail to thrust through the earth, not poisoned air, nor methane breaking free in the bubbling slush of tundra and an ice-free arctic sea. These images don't touch your heart. You never knew them beyond a monitor screen. They are so much CGI and photoshopped product. Modern humans do not understand that we are part of the web of life, and our connection has been deliberately severed. Your children or grandchildren will die. War is coming, over water, grain, and gas. I have seen this.

The practice of witchcraft is in being the connection with nature, and that my friends, hurts. We have no single book or liturgy; this is our strength. I can tell you what the spirits implore me with, but when monotheism has stopped its ears for 2000 years to the voices of dissent, I do not expect to get a fair hearing. Current paganism is soft velvet on the antler tines of witchcraft, but the points are emerging. The earth has made us this way.

It does not matter if you like us; we do not seek converts. Witchcraft is not anthropocentric like the so-called great faiths whose dominator theologies have enabled this to occur. Platitudes mouthed by the liberal churches are aimed at keeping their congregations from attacking the visible corporate heads. I have no such compunction. We walk the boundaries between the cultivated and the wild, but the balance has been pushed so far that many of us are choosing, or being chosen by, the other side. There is no ruling body to subvert this process, as witchcraft is the work of individuals. Witchcraft is not a religion; it is a series of actions taken by the powerless against those in power, using that which is to hand. We do not fly on the storm, we are the storm. We are not afraid of death, we are already dead. The clear vision burns at our throats and eyes, it animates our chosen and necessary acts whether they are performed in secret or plain sight. It only matters now if what we do has consequences. It is the time to prove who we are.