Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

BannerIt’s always challenging to make sense of a terrorist incident, particularly one not carried out by Islamist nuts. In the case of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, America saw the 14th of February 2018 added to its ignominious list of massacre dates that could be easily avoided by controls that take weapons out of the hands of those that shouldn’t be allowed near a letter opener.

As is typical for these cases, from Columbine to Florida, the usual suspects come out in force. The arguments in favour of domestic firearm proliferation never change much, with the most nefarious being those who claim to support tighter regulations but fight tooth and nail against any suggestion.

Nobody believes the chances of these massacres can be eradicated.

Every sensible person believes that those chances can be drastically reduced.

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Some notes on “traditions”.

BannerA lot gets made about the number of individual Witchcraft traditions, particularly the volume that’s typically suggested. From the roots of Gardnerian or Alexandrian Wicca, quite a lot of things have sprouted and seen decent levels of material published. I won’t go through them all, but I mention a few in my basic Witchcraft primer.

My contention here, however, is that the overwhelming majority of traditions aren’t actually traditions at all. They’ve neither the philosophical weight nor magical canon to support a bona fide tradition, and their authors (I’m being extremely generous with the term) don’t have the imagination, leadership or staying power to make them stick. Sadly, with most “new traditions” I’ve come across, the intellectual wreckage of millennialism is absurdly obvious.

What these so-called traditions almost exclusively consist of is material cribbed from some original work, the bits a person doesn’t like simply get hacked out, and some contradictory, illogical gibberish gets slotted in purely to justify the authors’ personal likes and habits.

But this isn’t a magical tradition.

It’s intellectually impoverishing the source material.

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The Wish.

BannerOne of the best parts of being a witch or warlock is being able to use your imagination to come up with rituals, spells or little traditions that you, your family and/or your coven can get involved in.

A lot of published works provide step by step guidelines for this type of thing, sections of which are typically cribbed and put onto shabby websites (like this one…?); but that doesn’t change the fact that creating things is fun, and Neopagan religions like to encourage their adherents to be creative, let their imaginations get working, and create an Is-To-Be that adds artistic beauty and historic tradition to you seasonal magic.

And so, for this post, I’d like to discuss one such creation.

It’s a birthday tradition for your children (or those in your coven), and it’s called the Wish.

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The Balance Factor.

BannerOne of the biggest reasons for magical failure is being too prescriptive about the result.

Here’s the example:

Sabrina and Grotbags both need a new car for work, but can’t afford to buy one. They both decide that spellwork is the way to solve the problem, but go about it in subtly different ways; Sabrina asks the universe for a windfall, while Grotbags asks for “some assistance” in order to get there. This will shock some measure of people reading, but Sabrina is in for disappointment; windfalls are extremely uncommon. After a few weeks, poor Sabrina is sat lamenting her Book of Shadows because she’s no further forward.

At least she has a night out to look forward to, and Grotbags is about to pick her up. Grotbags has a new set of wheels – she happened to see an advertisement in a window about a local dealership that had a new finance option, and it allowed part-exchange of the old car despite it being broken.

This, as some will have noticed, is a clear example of the Balance Factor.

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Problems with gender.

BannerFor the most part, I’ve little intention of getting involved in the arguments on social media about gender.

There are too many vested interests, on all sides, and one word in the wrong place in a sentence is enough to trigger said interests into vitriol. But, as I’ve been asked about it, this is my view on the subject as a (former) Witchcraft coven leader.

The modern stance is, I think, pretty sensible. A person’s biological sex is binary, and is genetically determined around the point of conception. Yes, there are a small number of asexual people, but they’re statistically unimportant – my apologies to Michelle Belanger. A person’s gender, however, is socially determined, and can be heavily based on cultural influence or individual psychology. I would imagine, though I’ve not the evidence to support it, that a person’s gender will coincide with their biological sex in the, perhaps overwhelming, majority of cases.

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The Satanic Tarot.

BannerIt’s probably not too controversial to state that the Tarot is the most recognisable divination vehicle in the world today; it’s also relatively free from controversy, when compared to things like (in particular) the Ouija board. But nobody should be fooled into thinking that it has the history some ascribe to it. Like all magic, whether it works or not has nothing to do with how long you think you can trace back its existence.

Being truthful, however, most of us are aware that it doesn’t divine the future.

When someone argues to the contrary, they’re typically ignoring just how vague the prediction they received was and, indeed, what mere force of suggestion encouraged them to look for. This isn’t surprising – so many Tarot readers attempt to show expertise by hilariously convoluting what they’re doing. The result is almost always this: the person who receives the reading is hopelessly bamboozled by the whole experience; they loosely recall some of the key phrases that they were subconsciously looking for; they then ascribe any tangential results to the power of divination itself.

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The Church of Satan.

BannerThe Church of Satan, and indeed Satanism, has a colourful history made up of facts, almost-facts, hearsay and urban legends. As with most Neopagan groups, there is a great deal of argument about who said or did what, or at what time. And while this is merely another example of new age groups forgetting about the ball and getting on with the game, it’s curious in the case of the Church of Satan because its history is relatively easy to publically access.

The organisation itself was founded, more or less, in the mid-sixties by the late Anton Szandor LaVey. He and his long-term partner, Diane Hegarty, had been running a number of workshops and seminars about magical and paranormal topics in the San Francisco bay area, lectures that largely surrounded darker topics that were utterly ignored by more mainstream magical fraternities. As a counter to what LaVey viewed as a poisoning of the magical well by white-light witches, the Church of Satan deliberately employed black magic while using Satan within the context of the original Hebrew word rather than an external deity. In its founding texts, and everything published since under the Church’s umbrella, Satan has always been presented as an abstraction; never as an entity.

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