I was reading the comments (yes, I know that’s a horrible idea but a little masochism never hurt anyone…oh wait…) on a fellow blogger’s post. It was a relatively short and polite post about re-examining language in our community and practices – nothing harsh or condemning but it did deal with some uncomfortable topics. Yet the article generated a litany of cringe-worthy comments including: “Oh no, not another activist post.”
When I see those kind of comments, I feel like what they’re actually saying is, “Don’t you dare make me examine myself or my practices. Don’t make me think, compare, or change. I don’t want to deal with challenges.” Which to me is the antithesis of Witchcraft. At the heart of Witchcraft is change, activated by clarified thought, followed through with multiple levels of deep-effecting* action. Change itself is the nexus of destruction and creation, to pull forth new form from existing materials.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a Witch, looking at the whole picture is integral to what we can loosely call the pachydermian parasol of Paganism. Earth-based, nature-centered religion/beliefs/spirituality? Then that requires honor and recognizing the planet we live on, plus everyone and everything we exist on it with. Nothing about the current state of our planet, the environment, or so-called society makes it OK to be inactive. To think otherwise to assume of the form of an ostrich with its head in the sand. (Which isn’t even a thing ostriches actually do, but folks sure like to try it themselves anyway.)
No one person can tackle all of the problems. There’s just no way. But we can focus on causing change in our personal microcosms and taking personal responsibility for our thoughts and actions. (Yes thoughts too people!) Picking up trash, reducing the amount of waste we create, fighting for legislation to protect the environment from ourselves – these things all have impact and involve action. So does taking care of the elderly, rallying against the issues that cause homelessness while supporting those experiencing it, supporting education for all, and practicing understanding and compassion with those who may seem to be different from us. These things may not seem all deep and witchy, but they’re all part of the Witch’s agenda. We must take care of ourselves, and in taking care of those around us, we do exactly that as well. Because we can see the bigger picture and how we’re all connected.
But to be able to see more clearly, we must be willing to think, examine, consider, and change. There is no way to be a Witch and not be invested in change. No one wants to be uncomfortable, but if you sit too long, you will become stagnant. Nobody wants to be wrong about an idea they’ve held on to for a long time – be it a belief about a certain group of people, words in your vocabulary, or technology. But why would you want to hold on to something that’s purposefully harmful or hurtful to other people/the planet, just because it takes a little work on your part? Being resistant to that self-examination is harm itself – to you and your world. If we don’t occasionally shine light on ourselves, the ideas we hold, and the things we do – we become more foul than standing water infested with larvae (a kind of emotional hookworm … ew).
The very nature of this existence is change, and one of the most amazing things about being human is our capacity to grow with change. We do that through thought and action. Magick is also part of that thought and action process – it’s one of our greatest tools for change. We don’t do magick because it’s convenient or cool or fun. We use it because we have work to do and it’s one of our most powerful tools. We ignite spirit and activate the world around us.
It’s funny, some of the folks I see whining about “activism” are the same ones who are quick to trot out “harm none” like parrots. Which is not very different at all from Christians who pick and choose parts of the bible they want to yell at people. “An it harm none, do what ye will” is just one small part of a very large set of guidelines for purposeful, thoughtful living. Living requires action, so be mindful of one of the most under-recognized words in that phrase. That word is DO. Do requires action of some sort to occur. Some things require big effort, but most start small, like tiny seeds – and remember that mighty oak trees come little acorns.
Activism is defined as using or supporting strong actions in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue. We may stereotype “strong action” as being loud, aggressive, annoying or harsh – but everyone has something they are an activist about. (Even those who are resolute against thinking or change – they’re anti-activist activists…). It’s time to stop throwing “activist” around like an insult because someone or something is presenting you with an opportunity to change. There’s too much work to be done, too much at stake to not think or act. Hold up that mirror and look closely. Be the Witch.
(And I can’t wait to read the comments on this one…or can I?)
*So I’m sure someone is going to comment on effect/affect, and I’ll be honest that I’ve sat here and debated what’s more correct here. The intent is pulling from qualities of deep effects, yet affecting is also involved naturally in the process of change. Since “action” is the word “deep-effecting” is describing – meaning to have deep effects (the noun), I ‘m leaning toward deep-effecting as being more correct than deep-affecting. Maybe this is a great time to whip out the ӕ.