Hello, beautiful creatures.
Back in August, when I first set out to write this blog, I though I knew pretty well what intellectual ground I intended to cover. It’s right there in the subtitle, after all: “gender, sexuality, and culture in modern and postmodern magic.” I had my first few posts all lined up to go, all of them striking a balance between thoughtful, snarky, and silly… and then, as you may recall, Charlottesville happened. Like many of us, I was gutted by what I saw happening there, and I found myself wondering what the hell I could do. I said as much to my fellow Patheos blogger Scarlet Magdalene, and she rightly replied, “Magic.”
It knocked me back on my heels, that response… which promptly made me feel a bit dim. I mean, hello? Witch and sorcerer? Also, human being with a voice, remember? I have power… but as I’ve said before, it’s easy to believe that we’re powerless. More than easy, it’s almost comforting. After all, if we have no power, we have no responsibility, and we can go on about our lives without worrying about the bad things happening around us.
Of course, you already know what I’m going to say about that.
At this point, I’ve written about 6000 words in the “Mirror” series. (If you missed them, they can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.) There’s more to say, of course, and more work to do, but I’ve said enough on this topic for the time. Not because we’ve solved the problem of sexual abuse in our communities, but because dwelling on the problem to the exclusion of all else can become its own form of escapism. Sexual abuse and sexualized violence are very real problems in our communities, as in our cultures, and we all have a responsibility to see that reality and respond to it… but we also have a responsibility not to let our activism and our agony over the injustices in the world overshadow our own hearts.
We have to resist abuse and wrongdoing, yes, but we must not forget to live while we do so.
This isn’t my final word on consent, because anything of value I have to say in this blog will eventually come back to issues of power and consent—witchcraft and sorcery, sex magic, genderplay, queer polytheism, activism, the whole lot—and, after all, consent is about power: power over oneself, power to choose. The power to permit or deny, to say yes or no. The option of “no” makes “yes” possible, and all the sweeter and more powerful for being a choice. That’s as true in magic as it is in sex.
We can say “no” to the continuance of rape culture in our communities of faith doubt and practice, and “yes” to a fostering of consent culture in its place. In doing so, we are choosing to transform all aspects of our lives and our culture, especially our sex lives, our spiritual practice, and the places where those things intersect. We can fight to protect ourselves and each other, and still know joy. Moreover, I believe we already have, and that we’ll continue to do so… not perfectly, to be sure, better than we have.
Until next time, dear ones, choose wisely and well. ♥
The “Mirror” Series: