Monthly Post

The Flight To The Fringes, And What Waits There

Several of my readers alerted me over the last week to an online essay by Christian writer Rod Dreher on the rising popularity of malevolent magic and demonolatry (the worship of malign spirits) on the leftward end of the US political scene. For so loaded a topic, Dreher’s essay is thoughtful and admirably measured; what’s more, Dreher doesn’t shy away from the spiritual implications of his theme, or to its importance as a warning of coming changes.

It’s thus arguably unfair to do what I’m about to do, and focus first on the three principal failings in his essay instead of on its achievements. What makes this particularly unfair is that the failings aren’t Dreher’s fault—both of them derive from the source he used, an essay by British academic Tara Isabella Burton. The reason I’m focusing on them here is that certain crucial issues have been left out of Dreher’s argument and, I suspect, his understanding of the situation he describes. Put those issues back in their proper places and the issues he’s discussing, while no less important than he suggests, have a rather different message to communicate.

We’ll start with the most obvious of the failings, which is Dreher’s lack of awareness that the various spiritual and religious movements he’s talking about—Wicca, Neopaganism, occultism, the New Age, and so on—aren’t all the same thing.  It’s a little as though I insisted that Dreher himself is a Mormon and the Archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual leader of England’s Jews.  After all, they’re all monotheists who revere the Old Testament, so what’s the difference?

Now of course such confusions are almost universal when the cultural mainstream is obliged to take notice of minority religions. Christianity got the same treatment back when it was a new religious movement trying to find a niche in the Roman world. The oldest known depiction of the Crucifixion, for example, is a snarky graffito in Rome that shows a crudely drawn figure praying to a crucified man with a donkey’s head; underneath are the words “Alexamenos adores his god.” It was a common religious smear back then to insist that Jews secretly worshiped a god with a donkey’s head, and it’s easy to imagine the graffiti artist thinking, “Jews, Christians, what’s the difference?” as he scrawled his insult.

Alexamenos and his fellow Christians doubtless had to put up with a lot of this sort of casual ignorance, from people who’d get irate if you confused Jupiter Capitolinus with Jupiter Feretrius but insisted that Judaism, Christianity, and Gnosticism were all the same thing. It’s understandable if unfortunate—and one of the things that makes it unfortunate is that ignoring the differences between various flavors of alternative religion makes it much harder to track shifts in the collective imagination that can have drastic results down the road.

So that’s the first failing in Dreher’s essay.  The second is a failure to notice that the growing popularity of malevolent magic isn’t shared by the whole range of alternative spiritualities that embrace magical practice, but is specific to certain movements within that highly diverse gallimaufry of minority faiths. Dreher (or for that matter Burton) could have fixed that easily with a little more research, but again, it’s a common mistake.

The third failing I have in mind could also have been cleared up with a little more research, but it’s equally widespread, at least in the conservative circles in which Dreher has his intellectual home, and it’s also very much on display in Burton’s essay. The failing in question? The casual equation of occultism with the leftward end of the political spectrum. That mistake was probably inevitable once Burton, and Dreher after her, started treating the whole range of magic-friendly alternative spiritualities as a single homogenized thing. You have to grasp the diversity of the movements in question to see that the mediagenic activities of fashionably liberal witches in Brooklyn bookstores aren’t necessarily an accurate indicator of what’s going on elsewhere.

This mistake is all the more embarrassing in that the activities of alt-right occultists in the run-up to Donald Trump’s election in 2016 have gotten a certain amount of media play since then. Still, most of what’s going on in the world of occultism never finds its way to the mainstream media. You can watch television all day and night for years, for example, and never find out that Heathenry—the worship of Norse and Germanic Pagan deities—is spreading rapidly in the reddest of redneck demographics in the US, and tends to correlate very closely to populist political views and gun ownership.  You won’t learn that occult lodges on the rightward end of the political and cultural spectrum are widespread in today’s English-speaking world, or that chaos magic—one of the most widely practiced of the current crop of magical traditions—is as popular with the alt-right as it is with the soi-disant “Magical Resistance.”

Nor, for that matter, will you learn of the old-fashioned occult schools—“old-fashioned” here meaning that they date from before the cultural upheavals of the 1960s—which have been pursuing their work quietly for anything up to a century and a half, and arguably have had much more cultural influence than the antics of pop-culture Neopagans. (A vast amount of what was taught by the New Age in its heyday, and an even larger amount of the thinking that underlies popular “self-help” books and ideologies today, was borrowed without acknowledgment from lessons circulated by these occult schools.) Most of the schools in question have a strict policy of disengagement from the political sphere, and most of them have maintained that policy even under the pressures of today’s bitter political polarizations.

So it’s necessary to approach the subject of Dreher’s essay with three interpretive tools he didn’t have. The first of these is the recognition that the realm of alternative magical spiritualities in today’s Western nations isn’t a single homogeneous subculture, but an assortment of different traditions and movements, some of them sharply at variance with others, with only limited degrees of overlap. The second is the recognition that the traditions and movements in question differ, among other things, in their political commitments. The third is the recognition that these same traditions and movements also differ sharply in their participation in the turn toward malevolent magic and demonolatry that Dreher discusses.

Apply those recognitions, and the obvious question is whether there’s any correlation between the second and third—between the political orientations of various groups and movements within the world of alternative magical spiritualities, on the one hand, and changes in the attitudes of those same groups and movements toward malevolent magic and demonolatry. That’s the question that opens the door to the insights Dreher missed, because there is indeed such a correlation:  the further to the political left a magical tradition or movement places itself, the more likely it is that that tradition or movement used to reject malevolent magic and demonolatry, but has now embraced one or both of them.

That change has been most drastic in the pop-culture Neopaganism on display at the Brooklyn bookstore Dreher’s essay mentioned. Some history will be helpful here.  While it likes to claim ancient roots, popular Neopaganism was for all practical purposes born on October 31, 1979, with the publication of two books, Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler and The Spiral Dance by Starhawk. Before then, if you wanted to be a Wiccan, you either had to find a coven willing to initiate you or invent a “grandmother story” and found a coven of your own. Before then, furthermore, Wicca was relatively apolitical, and many of the attitudes toward society and sex you’ll find in the older strata of Wiccan literature are far from politically correct by today’s standards.

Adler’s and Starhawk’s books marked a massive break with the older tradition, and ushered in an era of do-it-yourself Neopaganism explicitly allied with second wave feminism and progressive political causes generally. Traditional Wiccans grumbled, tried to move with the times, or withdrew into a subculture of their own; meanwhile books teaching freshly minted Neopagan systems poured out of publishers, new shops opened their doors to sell books, herbs, and trinkets to the burgeoning Neopagan market, and Neopagan festivals sprang up in various corners of North America to give participants in the Neopagan scene chances to worship and party together.

The attitude of popular Neopaganism toward malevolent magic and demonolatry in its first three decades or so was overwhelmingly hostile. In fact, the movement made a point of stressing the wholesome and benevolent nature of Neopaganism.  One of the most popular bumper stickers you’d see on cars at Neopagan festivals back in the day featured a pentagram and the words WITCHES HEAL. Nor was this mere window dreessing.  The Wiccan Rede—“an (if) it harm none, do what ye will”—was very generally accepted in the movement, and so was the law of Threefold Return, the belief that whatever you do, for good or ill, will be paid back thrice over.

It was a standard Neopagan talking point in those days that the equation of witchcraft with “black magic” and Satanism was pure Christian propaganda. Anyone who suggested in public that Neopagans worshiped Satan, or for that matter any of the other devils of Judeo-Christian lore, could count on receiving a patronizing lecture about how Satan was a figure in Christian mythology and Neopagans don’t worship him for the same reason Christians don’t worship Shiva or Thor. Anyone who suggested in public that malevolent magic or demonolatry were acceptable practices for Neopagans could pretty much count on being shunned.

These attitudes remained more or less standard until sometime after the beginning of the 21st century. Were there people practicing malevolent magic and demonolatry elsewhere in the world of magical alternative spirituality? You bet. On the one hand, there are longstanding folk traditions in various parts of the Western world, including the United States, that include malevolent magic; on the other hand, a handful of groups that were more or less explicitly Satanist did what Satanists generally do. From the 1980s on, you also had chaos magic, which offered a simplified form of magical practice stripped of anything that would offend a diehard materialist, and some proponents of chaos magic made something of a fetish of insisting that gods and devils alike weren’t real beings, just symbolic images that could be manipulated at will by the chaos mage. (I’ll let you guess which of these “symbolic images” proved unexpectedly helpful when, as happened tolerably often, chaos mages engaged in morally grubby workings.)

As I recall, it was in the middle of the 21st century’s first decade that a handful of figures on the fringes of Neopaganism started insisting that malevolent magic was just fine, thank you very much. They got a lot of pushback at first, and not unreasonably, but with each year that passed thereafter the advocates of hexing and cursing were more numerous and less restricted to the fringe. Quite often, too, the people who were most vocal in promoting and defending malign magic were those who were heavily involved in political causes on the far left.

The turning point came in 2016, and no, it wasn’t the election of Donald Trump that did it. In June of that year, a California judge gave convicted rapist Brock Turner a slap-on-the-wrist sentence.  In response, several Neopagan leaders called for the entire Neopagan community to curse Turner, his father, and the judge. Other Neopagan leaders, to their credit, rejected this attempt to drum up a magical lynch mob, and suggested workings to bring justice to Turner and healing to his victim. The lynch mob rejected this proposal heatedly—for them, mere justice was inadequate and only malevolent magic would do.  For a while, quite a few of the most active Neopagan forums were full of debates pro and con; for that matter, while I’m not a Neopagan by any measure, I ran a post on The Well of Galabes critiquing the proposed hex on the basis of traditional occult philosophy.

When Trump won the 2016 election, though, it became all too clear that a very nasty genie had gotten out of the bottle. Within months, many thousands of people on the leftward end of the US political spectrum—many of them with little or no previous involvement in magic or alternative spirituality—got involved in malicious magic aimed at the Trump administration. The situation Dreher describes in his essay followed promptly.

There are various ways to understand this shift, but one that seems particularly useful to me comes not from occult lore but from an equally esoteric field of study, the sociology of deviance. Scholars in this subdiscipline have spent many years studying the way that groups on the fringes of society deal with their outcast status. They’ve also watched what happens when a formerly unacceptable set of ideas or behaviors wins widespread acceptance, and conversely what happens when a formerly acceptable set of ideas or behaviors gets consigned to the fringes.

Gay male culture in 20th and early 21st century America makes a fine example. Back in the days when same-sex relationships were prohibited by law and savagely condemned by public opinion, gay men created a typical fringe subculture with habits guaranteed to set its members apart from the rest of society. Clothing styles, “camp” mannerisms, and a galaxy of other customs raised barriers between the gay male community and the rest of America. That’s what fringe groups do: they define themselves against the mainstream by embracing what the mainstream detests.

Now consider what happened when gay men in America figured out how to use civil rights legislation and effective PR to change their cultural status from outcast to acceptable. As legal and social barriers dissolved, so did the barriers raised from within the gay male community. Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigeig is the poster child for the result: clean-cut, wholesome, happily married, a church-going Christian—you’ll have to look long and hard to find anybody who broadcasts more signals of mainstream acceptability.

Look at the history of popular Neopaganism through the lens provided by the sociology of deviance and what’s visible is a failed attempt to do the same thing. The books by Adler and Starhawk cited earlier spearheaded a movement that attempted to make a particular kind of magical spirituality acceptable to the mainstream, and that movement succeeded up to a point. For a while there, many Neopagan spokespeople went out of their way to look clean-cut and professional, and Neopagan leaders talked in glowing terms of a future in which Neopagan denominations would have paid professional clergy, buildings set aside for religious use, and all the other perks of a socially acceptable religious body.

Why that failed is a question for another day. The point I’d like to make is that it did fail. Most measures of the movement’s size and influence peaked between 2005 and 2010 and began to slide from there: book sales declined, Pagan shops went out of business in droves, attendance at festivals slid, and so forth. In perfect synch, Neopagan leaders who encouraged other Neopagans to make themselves acceptable to mainstream culture started getting serious pushback, and the first people started insisting publicly that malevolent magic and demonolatry were not merely acceptable but essential parts of Neopagan spirituality. In other words, the Neopagan scene began preparing itself for a future as a stigmatized fringe group.

And the trend that has Ron Dreher worried, the spread of this form of self-stigmatizing Neopaganism across the leftward end of American politics? I’d like to suggest that it’s another expression of the same process we’ve been discussing—that the radical left in America is also preparing itself for a future as a stigmatized fringe group.

Look at the behavior of the far left over the last decade or so with the sociology of deviance in mind, and the signs are clear. Time and again during that period, and increasingly since 2016, the radical left has embraced ideas and behaviors that alienate potential supporters from outside its own circles. The insistence among social justice activists that gay white men belong to the enemy camp because they don’t have enough “axes of oppression” is a case in point.  The gay white male community did the bulk of the heavy lifting in the fight for equal rights for same-sex couples, and driving gay white men into the arms of the populist right is an astoundingly stupid tactic if the radical left hopes to maintain its current position of relative privilege. If the movement has already accepted a future as a stigmatized fringe group, though, it’s a sensible move, since excluding a group that’s well integrated with the mainstream is essential if you’re going to define yourself in opposition to the mainstream.

If you want a good measure of the cultural shift that’s setting in just now, compare the changes on the radical left to those on the populist right. Those of my readers who know their way around the alt-right will recall how that movement in the days before Trump’s victory went out of its way to stigmatize itself, brandishing Nazi symbolism and other socially unacceptable shibboleths to raise the usual barriers around itself. Now? Surf over to r/The_Donald or some other large forum of the populist Right, and it’s gone smiling, wholesome, and patriotic. People post baby pictures there, and organize groups to attend the funerals of veterans who have no living family.

The picture above, in fact, came from another populist-right subreddit, r/HottiesforTrump, and it’s a fairly good representation of the way the populist right is rebranding itself now that it’s coming in from the fringes. This picture came from the news media, and it’s a fairly good representation of the way that the radical left is rebranding itself as it heads in the other direction. You tell me which of these has the makings of the new mainstream.

That change has massive implications, to be sure, stretching from politics through culture to the realm of the spirit, and I expect to spend several future posts tracing the tectonic shifts that will follow. Just at the moment, though, it seems to me that the spiritual aspect deserves the attention Rod Dreher has given to it. He’s quite correct to point out that if you don’t accept the ideology of modern materialism, the choices being made by people who embrace malevolent magic and demonolatry are anything but value-free. Partly this is a function of the laws that govern the spiritual realm—and yes, unpopular as this concept is in some circles, there are such laws and they don’t care whether you believe in them or not. The traditions I study and teach differ in important respects from the ones that Dreher follows, but when it comes to the ethics of spiritual practice, he might be startled to learn how much common ground there is.

Still, there’s another dimension I’m not sure the casters of curses and invokers of demons have gotten around to noticing. Read the records of witchcraft persecutions through the centuries, and you’ll find that in a great many cases, what triggered the violence was the conviction, on the part of ordinary people, that one or more of their neighbors was using malign magic to harm them or those they loved. If the Neopagans who favor hexing and cursing want to see those same attitudes revived, they’re going about it the right way. It would be a bitter irony indeed if a religious movement that built so much of its early identity around talk about the burning times were to finish its historical trajectory at some close equivalent of the stake.

280 Comments

  1. OK, so if someone is going to be provoking burnings out of fear of malevolence from the “occultish” direction, those burnings could spark close to home. Is there any tried and tested (ie historically verifiable) fireproof, or fire resistant, apparel that is suitable for the occasion?

  2. This essay has given me a lot to think about, much of it deeply unpleasant. I’ve already taken to being very, very careful who I mention my spirituality to, given the backlash that seems quite likely in the near future, and this essay makes me think that’s a very good idea. It’s a shame, but I don’t see much that can be done about it, since I’m not going to be able to convince the millions of people who are cursing and advocating for public cursing this is a bad idea.

    There’s a somewhat intriguing possibility that has occurred to me before, which I think fits quite strongly here though: much of the dysfunction on the left is occurring because the myth of progress is so firmly entrenched there, and they can’t imagine losing. When they do lose, what comes up is a classic revitalization movement.

    Witness the Green New Deal; the hyper-expansion of political correctness and insistence anyone not persecuted enough must be evil; the insistence all that needs to be done to pay the debt is a wealth tax; the insistence Trump is evil incarnate and all that has to be done to fix things is send him to jail; and the spread of cursing within the neopagan movement. It all looks like a revitalization movement to me.

    What’s interesting is that this seems true of many who think of themselves as being firmly against the religion of progress. I’m thinking of John Becket, for example. He’s a Druid, and makes a big deal of his religion, and makes a very big deal out of how he doesn’t believe in the myth of progress, how things can and will get worse, but then his writings have made it clear that he doesn’t know how to cope with things like civil rights going backwards. I know Wiccans who had mental breakdowns in 2016, and it was clear they myth of progress is firm in their minds.

  3. “For example, one man said to me, ‘Three hundred years ago people in England were putting witches to death. Was that what you call the Rule of Human Nature or Right Conduct?’ But surely the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things. If we did — if we really thought that there were people going about who had sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers to kill their neighbors or drive them mad or bring bad weather — surely we would all agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did? There is no difference of moral principle here: the difference is simple about matter of fact. It may be a great advance in knowledge not to believe in witches: there is no moral advance in not executing them when you do not think they are there. You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believes there were no mice in the house.” C. S. Lewis

    I contend that the worst outcome for non-mainsteam religion is to convince the mainstream that in fact demons are real and they are engaged in using them for criminal ends. A great many even mainstream Christians do not believe in demons these days-being more comfortable with seeing them as symbolic than real.

    As one who does think they’re real, it seems to me a clever deception on the part of demons, but if its utility has served their purposes, or failed to serve their purposes, I’m sure they’re quite utilitarian enough to toss their erstwhile allies to the mob if they wish to pursue a different strategy.

    Advertising that one has done business with demons, then, strikes me as a willfully blind strategy on the part of those doing so. I don’t think it matters which religion is mainstream, unless the demon-worshipers are themselves the mainstream, there’s plenty of historical evidence that everyone will execute them when found out if they are believed to be anything more powerful than cosplayers.

  4. I don’t think this particular version of the far-left is moving to the fringes, but being born on them as more and more people grow dissatisfied with either 1) Vague Corporate Woke-ism or 2) the Trumpian Response. For decades, there has been essentially no far left movement of any significance in the US. There have been Democrats, but they’ve been centrist neoliberals for at least the past 30 years. The far left has to start at the margins and work their way in. And they’ve already started doing it. You didn’t used to have this many people proudly calling themselves socialist. Give it a few years, and the socialists will be part of the mainstream once again. Along with the racists, fascists, communists, anarchists and other assorted intellectual detritus of WW2 and the Cold War.

    Also, I need to say something about the identity politics people. They have been very prominent for past few years, but they are only one segment of the left, and in many cases are much closer to liberals than socialists, politically. I think the left needs identity politics (and if you believe scholars like Mark Lilla, author of the The Once and Future Liberal, its past absence contributed to the academic ghetto-ization of the American left that last time around), but I think an EXCLUSIVE focus on identity politics is not emblematic of the entire left (and even less of the far left).

  5. John–

    I realize that you’ll get to the other aspects in future posts and that your intent here was to focus on the spiritual dimension of the shifts being discussed, but one question did come to mind as I read your suggestion re the radical left.

    Why would one accept/choose an existence as a fringe group?

    It isn’t a rhetorical question, for I can think of some reasons as to why, but those choices do come with certain consequences. One might choose to be a fringe group outside the mainstream because you wish to live according to different values than the mainstream supports. The Amish come to mind as an example here. But a consequence of this choice is that one relinquishes the ability to shift or influence that mainstream. In other words, one lives one’s life off to the side, minding your own business. The Amish aren’t out proselytizing.

    For a political movement to *choose* to become fringe, however, seems to make little sense, as the entire point of politics is to influence and guide the body politic, which very much means influencing mainstream society. Perhaps the radical left is being *forced* from the mainstream by the moderate left/bipartisan consensus, but I have a difficult time understanding why it would choose to do so purposefully.

    Of course, if one is utterly convinced that he/she is right and everyone else is wrong and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or thinks, then I guess the idea makes more sense, but that strategy seems to me a poor one for actually achieving one’s goals for social change…

  6. Thanks so much for this discussion of Rod Dreher’s article. I read his columns religiously (pun intended) because he writes thoughtfully and well and treats his subjects with respect, something that is rare in today’s journalism. Time spent reading his pieces – as well as ecosophia – is always time well spent.

  7. Interesting. I wonder what you think of the Christian “magic” of the Pentecostal and Dominionist varieties, with their practices of “spiritual warfare.” Originally associated with faith healing and “deliverance” rituals, these styles of Christian magic popped up in 20th century missionary churches in places like Brazil and Haiti, where magical religiosity flourishes in African-derived sects. Politically this kind of Christianity is very right wing in orientation, insurgent, and dangerous as far as I am concerned, since the ensuing religious repression and backlash always spills out into the real world, with negative consequences for the poor, the immigrant, and the black people, who populate these groups. I am not sure they are aligned with the leftist Neo-pagan “fringe” that you describe. Even Hoodoo, African American magic, draws upon powers that are associated with Christianity, – except when whites appropriate it, as Neopagans are prone to do, they remove it from the original source and favor the pale imitation, as seen with most things having to do with black culture in the US.

  8. Interesting hearing this about neopaganism. When I was most active (early 00s) the rule of three and so forth was paramount.
    However, what seems to be happening on the left is the mainstreaming of some views that used to be radical, as in a lot of people changing their opinions, or at least accepting new norms. See for instance this: https://www.vox.com/2019/3/22/18259865/great-awokening-white-liberals-race-polling-trump-2020 It’s polarisation and a widening of the Overton Window, just as on the right, some far right opinions are becoming more prominent.

  9. “…Dreher’s lack of awareness that the various spiritual and religious movements he’s talking about—Wicca, Neopaganism, occultism, the New Age, and so on—aren’t all the same thing.”

    Many Christians, and most if not all of the fundamentalists, view the world strictly in two camps; you are either with Jesus or Satan. If you are a Christian (and some fundamentalists are very strict in how they define that), you’re on the good, right side. If you are anything else – Wicca, Neopagan, New Age, Buddhist, Moslem, Atheist, etc.—you are on the bad, evil side and controlled by Satan. I would guess that this is the view that Dreher’s taking.

    Joy Marie

  10. You’ve written before about the likely collapse of the educational system. My sense is that a lot of the SJW rage is rooted in the universities and the culture of academia. I may be wrong, but every SJW diatribe I’ve tried to read seems to be chock full of indecipherable jargon, of just the sort you find in academic circles.

    So if the fringe left is screwing around with black magic, that would seem to be tantamount to playing with matches while perched on a mountain of gunpowder.

  11. This is all very interesting to read. As always, I love your blog and find it most interesting. I did not know that the Political Left were so into Magic. Thought they were Atheists. Well, anyway, what you had written about the rise of Nordic Paganism, among Rural Whites, is also most intriguing too.

    I remember, a few years back, there was even a Radio Show, on Short Wave, called “Odin Lives”, which had some unique music that I have never heard before. Sounded like nothing else I had listened to.

  12. “Read the records of witchcraft persecutions through the centuries and you’ll find that in a great many cases, what triggered the violence was the conviction, on the part of ordinary people, that one or more of their neighbors was using malign magic to harm them or those they loved. If the Neopagans who favor hexing and cursing want to see those same attitudes revived, they’re going about it the right way. It would be a bitter irony indeed if a religious movement that built so much of its early identity around talk about the burning times were to finish its historical trajectory at some close equivalent of the stake.”

    Could this spill over onto those of us who, while not on the malevolent radical left side of occultism, would still be viewed as “those people” by the rising conservative, traditionalist Christian tide? I admit I wonder what would happen if a family member was at my house and happened to notice The Cosmic Doctrine laying on my end table. That could make for an “interesting” conversation.

    Joy Marie

  13. Really interesting post, wasn’t aware of how widespread it was. Being on the other side of the pond, I had the idea that it was just a fringe/small minority going for the demonolatry.

    I must admit that it is very concerning, in particular because of what you have precisely pointed out – from here is just forwards to broad brush stroke for ‘the rest’ and – in a truly all- american fashion – it will become a dicotomy: either with or against/ friend or foe. You’re either a wholesome Christian or a demon worshiper…and in this way, all the other religious movements get dumped in with Evil, Demons, etc.

    An Inquision 2.0 starting in the US almost seems plausible, with the bonus of potentially being used as one more tool to drive the agenda of ‘divide et impera’ against the general public… that’s pretty scary stuff.

    However, there is also something else that really bothers me, and it’s the dirty laundry on the other side that nobody talks about…there was a hint on Tara’s article as well, but everybody seems to avoid mentioning or discussing this.

    What about the fringe aspect of the right? I’m talking about the comments I’ve found here and there about a big support from the extreme Christians – the ones that are convinced that Trump will deliver Armageddon so that they can have their second coming, rapture, etc… sorry, I don’t know the details, but – what if this is also true? What if there are people that truly believe that their purpose is to do everything to bring total destruction, no matter how many lives are lost or the suffering or the planet… so that what the Bible says can become true?

    I don’t mean to defend one side or the other – I personally think it’s a false dicotomy, but I am very interested in hearing your thoughts regarding that last point…

    For what it’s worth – I’m a regular reader, enjoy this one and the other site very much and it’s the first time I post anything…

  14. I find it difficult to respond to this, as this subject really bothers me a lot. I’m a visible minority, an occultist, a devotional polytheist and when people find out that I’m a skilled herbalist they often start calling me a “Witch.”

    What’s more I tend to have much, much more in common with sincere Christians regarding worship and faith. That said, my patron deity happens to not be part of that pantheon. Still I respect Christians and certainly believe that Christ is worthy of reverence, devotion and love. I respect the Bible as amazing book with immense magical powers.

    And furthermore, I love this country and donate money regularly to organizations that help wounded veterans make a new life for themselves.

    So while I do not conflate my religious, magical and political life, I am still a proud American who sees our constitution as a remarkable document worth keeping.

    Still, if there is to be a witch hunt I imagine that I would be extremely likely to be accused since I look like what people imagine a witch to look like, I work a lot with plants and am good at helping them grow, etc. No matter that the magic I do focuses entirely on blessing, healing and growing plants.

    Point being, this flight to the fringes and the morally egregious turns it has taken may well have real world repercussions for folks who have nothing to do with either malevolent magic or demonoltary, and as someone who might face that sort of blowback I can say that it causes me to distance myself as much and as fast as possible from neopagans and the radical left in the hopes of surviving the next few decades.

  15. Back in mid-2015 when exposure to the college-campus far-left ideology of Tumblr kids got me watching Sargon of Akkad’s videos on YouTube, I did have a sense that my own opinions and beliefs were riding a wave that was moving through the collective consciousness of our culture. Even though I’m mostly not watching any more Sargon videos (that stuff really does get stale after a while), I do note that, while I still identify with the left, I have since abandoned quite a few of the ideas generally associated with the left that I regarded as “no-duh” for the decade or so after the US invasion of Iraq re-politicized me.

  16. When I saw the title of this post, I promptly flashed on the Shambler from the Stars, the trapped Spaceworm in the cellar, red-footed wamps, and and similar beings awaiting us on the fringes.
    Pat

  17. Dear BoysMom,

    Hear hear!

    To my mind, there are plenty of divine beings one can worship that have good effects on one’s life. Demons are emphatically not included in that as they are, by definition, evil. When I’ve engaged in spiritual conversations with folks I often bring this up. Ironically, I find much more common ground with Christian than New Agers who, like the Christians you mention in your comment, seem to be more comfortable imagining demons — and indeed evil in general — as entirely symbolic.

    That though is not true to experience. Clearly there are beings who are malicious and evil and who trick and harm humans. In fact, many of my former friends were plagued by these beings and had no psychic immune system to protect them from demonic attack.

    Carl Jung made the point in much of his writing that if one were to walk by a table of people, one wouldn’t take responsibility for everything that everyone said and the same is true inwardly. Given that people give no credence to the spiritual, demons are quite clever at tricking folks that there words are those of the Self. To understand though that the inner self is also an inner space allows one to treat thoughts then as not rooted in identity, and as such, have recourse besides mere anguish and torment to evil beings.

    Of course too those that engage in demon-worship are bringing these beings into the world, which is to my mind extremely and obviously evil. That said, as a member of a minority faith I do treasure the Constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom…

  18. Interesting essay.

    I am wondering if you have any suggestions for how occult/esoteric practitioners of high ethics might not get lumped in with the general category of weirdo Satanists.

  19. A very interesting article indeed! Looking at the rise of malign hexing through the lens provided by the sociology of deviance does make the SJW’s defending bearded ladies’ bathroom rights and sputtering protests of all things orange and badly coiffed look like a wholehearted embrace of outsider status. Odd that it should follow so rapidly on the right’s attempted embrace of outsider status by Birthers and religiously-correct bakery owners. It seems deviancy is a more coveted position in American culture at present than wholesomeness is. What’s behind that alternating battle to be more fringe than thou?

    The rise of bullying, easily obtainable notoriety from psychopathic mass shootings, and use of social media to witch hunt and virtually lynch community members all lead me to conclude that embrasure of deviancy is the only goal many see within their reach anymore. As the impossible standards of a bygone opulent age move further and further into the mists of legend and we wake up to our continuously declining standard of living, the more entitled and addicted among us are opting for the low-hanging fruit of projecting our hurt and failure onto others, rather than doing the difficult work of noticing our unfulfilled (and unfulfillable) expectations and taking responsibility for the damage they have caused us, others, and our world.

    Thank you, John Michael, for offering people achievable goals to focus on in this wasteland of excess. Green wizardry, writing stories, meditating, and making good beer for the Apocalyptic horsemen riding down on us with a vengeance are all much preferable to throwing our neighbors to the wolves to save our lifestyles for a few minutes more.

    The practice of malevolent magic seems to be trickling down to the populace from above to some extent. Edward Bernays perfected its use in manufacturing a consumer culture following WWII. The CIA has cast been casting spells on other nations through Color Revolutions and Voice of America just as long. Having lost the wars in Iraq, Syria, and potentially Iran (all incanted into existence through webs of lies), could the spin doctors and chaos mages in Washington have lost control of their workings and left their book of spells open for their apprentices to play with? Although who is leading whom here? An attempt to cast out an elected president occurred here in the US before it was rinsed and repeated in Venezuela. And both failed with a raspberry-jam vengeance.

    A race to the bottom has certainly begun here in America. Who will win in this headlong rush to their own personal Hell? And what will they win — the right to continue wearing laurels and carrying fasces at their dwindling clan gatherings? And what can the rest of us do to side step the more spectacular side effects of their frenzied contest?

  20. “While it likes to claim ancient roots, popular Neopaganism was for all practical purposes born on October 31, 1979, with the publication of two books, Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler and The Spiral Dance by Starhawk.”

    You are necessarily painting in broad strokes here. In the context of providing background about popular trends, your statement is true enough. As history it is an oversimplification.

    For the benefit of people here who may be interested, I would like to offer more history on what led up to the writing of those two books and influenced their authors, and some of the effects of their publication. This is a very bare outline and I can provide more details if they are wanted.

    I’m in a position to do that. I was a participant of some of the communities where Starhawk got her start and I met her before she wrote The Spiral Dance. The title of that book was borrowed with permission from a ritual practice of a bootstrap (meaning no claims of grandmothers) witchcraft tradition (NROOGD) which performed regular public sabbats attracting more than a hundred participants in the San Francisco Bay Area throughout the 1970s.

    I met Margot through our early membership in the Covenant of the Goddess circa 1975-6. She quoted me in Drawing Down the Moon, based upon a written questionnaire. I knew and circled with many of the California people who are mentioned by name in the first edition. I have a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies (1972) and I did my best to follow the academic literature on New Religious Movements and feminist spirituality during the 1970s.

    Neither of these books started a movement. They did assist in popularizing it. The movement had already been underway for more than a decade. It was lively and creative, small and under the radar. Its principal centers were in New York and on the West Coast. Drawing Down the Moon and The Spiral Dance were milestones because they were the first two decent books about North American Neopaganism by insiders, writing the books they wanted to write.

    Not only did these books reach the general public, they got the attention of academia. Before the publication of these books, scholars of New Religious Movements were largely unaware of North American Neopaganism or didn’t think it was important. NRM research in the 1960s and 1970s largely focused on cults with authoritarian leaders. Adler’s book, because she was a professional journalist as well as a witch, got the attention of sociologists of religion and their ilk.

    I have something to say about the earliest public cursings too, but I’ll save that for late if someone else doesn’t get to it firs.

  21. And (sigh) I can just see what moderates and leftists would make of the news about Heathenry, alas. “Eeek! Skinheads, all of them! With prison tattoos, and out to beat up minorities, gays, and Jews!” As someone whose second choice would be Asatru, that reaction would make me want to reach for a war-hammer. (If I could pick up one any heaviier than one from a child’s toy tool kit.)

    And your conclusion! Ay, Chihuahua! Oh, yes, and courting the guillotine twice over – as witches and as part of the classes blamed for all the miseries of the poor. Though a fair number of us old-fashioned neopagans in the circles I belong to *are* poor. And take the Rede and the 3-fold law very seriously indeed. And … J.L. is pushing 60. J.B., the Faerie priest of my weekly circle, is 62. S.B., priestess, who trained us and taught me what magic (Golden Dawn variety) I know, is in the same age bracket. The recently deceased R.C. was 77. etc, etc, etc. One of our elders, no longer active, is 90+.

    Pat, among the last leaves on a dying tree.

    https://poets.org/poem/last-leaf

  22. I sure hope this essay finds its way to Dreher. From what I’ve seen, he’s very receptive to and respectful of thoughtful feedback….though it might be a bit intimidating to receive such a razor sharp correction as this. JMG, I’m constantly in awe of the sheer breadth of knowledge you hold in your brain. Me and my brain-fogging Mercury/Neptune square bow humbly before you. 🙂

  23. @Joy Marie

    I have encountered the black/white, good/evil thinking you describe in some Christians, and in some Christian communities. But I think If you read Dreher, you would find his views more nuanced than that.

  24. Very provacitive stuff. You write, “So that’s the first failing in Dreher’s essay. The second is a failure to notice that the growing popularity of malevolent magic isn’t shared by the whole range of alternative spiritualities that embrace magical practice, but is specific to certain movements within that highly diverse gallimaufry of minority faiths. Dreher (or for that matter Burton) could have fixed that easily with a little more research, but again, it’s a common mistake.” I suspect that neglecting to do “a little more research” wasn’t simple carelessness; when more thorough research tends to undermine one’s main thesis, where’s the incentive to do it? Dreher sounds like an interesting fellow, just the same. I’d overlooked him until now. Finally, the “Hotties for Trump” have one (at least one) thing going for them; no tatoos! Rare enough among the young these days.

  25. Hello Mr. Greer. Several years ago I saw a documentary called Hell’s Bells 2 (as the name implies it was a remake of an earlier documentary on the same topic). The film was from a similar politically conservative, Evangelical perspective as Rod Dreher’s viewpoint. They argued that much of modern day rock and roll and pop music drew its inspiration from Aleister Crowley and the more outlandish branches of anti Christian occultism. I was wondering if you had any thoughts concerning the magical influence on specifically the music world. It seems to me that at least in the musical realm much of the aggressive, offensive magic, symbolism, and such has been coming from the left for many years while the patriotic/Christian music was typically relegated to country music and similar genres.

  26. JMG,

    I love hearing you comment on Mr. Dreher’s work, since you and he are two of the few writers I read … um … religiously. How new do you think these behaviours are among the social justice set? You sound like you think it a new phenomenon, but I would argue we’ve been seeing it for decades.

    I’ve mentioned in the past how I encountered this self-marginalisation among the Greens; I met many working-class people who just wanted clean air or water, or some other practical necessity, but were driven away by a core of activists who seemed obsessed with out-extreme-ing each other. I couldn’t think of any reason why, except perhaps the desire to be the biggest fish by shrinking the pond.

    What was tragic was that there was a real opportunity to reach out to Middle America and build a coalition with some very religious and conservative groups; after all, Green inspirations like E.F. Schumacher or Ivan Illich were Christian themselves, and many of the older Greens were devout Quakers and Lutherans.

    I horrified some SJW-types by proposing a slogan for the Green Party, “Back to the Days of Eisenhower,” using Norman Rockwell paintings or some equivalent, and an advertising campaign involving hunters, farmers and construction workers.

    Since this process can work in either direction, do you think it could be stopped and reversed mid-process?

  27. Glad you brought it up about some orders specifically advising to not get caught up in politics. Local issues have finally been heating up here with populist rage spilling over and I have started to do the keyboard warrior thing again only to find it contaminating my thinking even up to the point of interfering with daily rituals. Other people might be able to handle it better but where I am at right now it is probably better to focus on the internal and put aside the distractions.

  28. Scotlyn, yes, and we’ll be discussing that as we proceed. The very short form is to recognize what it is that people fear, and be something else. More on this later!

    Will, that’s why it’s all the more important right now to define oneself as something distinct from the pop-Neopagan scene, and to condemn the plunge into malevolent magic in no uncertain terms.

    BoysMom, I ain’t arguing. It’s the absolute zenith of drool-spattered, slack-jawed idiocy to go prancing around proclaiming that you curse people and consort with malign spirits, in the bizarre conviction that no one will take you seriously, and act accordingly.

    Andrew, au contraire, I see the embrace of socialism as another symptom of the flight to the fringes. Identifying yourself with a political movement that killed an order of magnitude more people than the Nazis ever did is a gift-wrapped Christmas present to your opponents, and it’s one that said opponents are already using to extremely good effect.

    David, that’s also something that the sociology of deviance has studied in great detail. The mainstream needs deviants, because like the deviant communities, it defines itself by what it’s not. As a result, there are always covert rewards of various kinds for people who embrace whatever kind of deviance the mainstream wants to distance itself from, and covert punishments for those who blur the boundaries. For a political or religious group that has half-consciously given up on succeeding, in particular, the benefits of becoming big fishes in a little and self-consciously isolated pond, combined with attention from the mass media and various other social rewards, are often more than enough.

    Beekeeper, agreed!

    Y. Chireau, the woman who taught me hoodoo had exactly the same feelings you do about the watered-down nature of so much of what passes for conjure these days. African-American magic is one of the folk traditions I mentioned in the post, which preserves a great deal of malevolent magic; I’m going to assume, for example, that you’re more than knowledgeable enough to know what the letters D.U.M.E. stand for in a hoodoo spell. I see the “spiritual warfare” business as an offshoot of that, an adaptation of malevolent magic to a Christian setting, and justified — of course — by the claim that it’s only being used against evildoers.

    Antonomasia, I see it as the other way around — a lot of people on the left who used to be mainstream are headed toward the fringes.

    Joy Marie, that hasn’t been my take of Dreher’s other writings.

    Cliff, no question. The crisis in the academic industry is becoming acute; a friend recently sent me the info that the former Briarwood College in Connecticut, once a successful private womens’ college, has just listed its entire campus for sale — and the opening bid is only $5 million. I suspect over the next decade or so we’re going to see a lot of universities, including some very big names, go out of business forever.

    Twin Ruler, that’s just it — a lot of them used to be atheists. Now they’re performing rituals to curse Donald Trump and joining the Temple of Satan.

    Joy Marie, why do you think I’m being proactive about having this conversation? As I noted to Scotlyn above, we’re going to be talking about this in the weeks to come.

    JMac, watch what happens in the years ahead. The right is already distancing itself from extreme views — look up the reception that Brandon Straka got from the populist right when he, as a gay man, left the Democratic Party and sided with Trump — and pursuing a one-big-tent routine, while the left is doubling down on purity politics and marginalizing itself. The trick is not to follow them out onto the fringes, and to define yourself against those who head that way — reinforcing their self-marginalization in the process.

    Violet, we’ll talk about that in the weeks to come. There are ways to do it — for example, I’ve also done a lot of herbalism, but I don’t think anyone has ever mistaken me for a witch!

    Mister N, and that’s the flipside of the process discussed in the post; I expect to see a fair number of people on the left reassessing their views and moving toward a more centrist position as the radicals head off to the fringes.

    Shaun, thanks for this. I didn’t put a blurb at the bottom of this week’s post because it’s kind of politically loaded, but I’ll have some things to say about it next week. 😉

    Patricia, not a bad metaphor, all things considered!

    Guillaume, yes, and we’ll be talking about that in the weeks to come. The fact that you see the issue and are willing to talk about it in public is half the battle. Stay tuned!

    Christophe, excellent! You get today’s gold star for grasping what’s going on here. The quest to be more deviant than thou is among other things a reaction to the breakdown of social mobility in the US — if you can’t aspire to wealth and status unless you’re born into them, pursuing status in a rejected subculture is one time-honored alternative. I suspect, though, that the years ahead are going to see a lot of renewed movement up and down the status ladder — and a lot of those who are going down will be going a long, long way down.

    Deborah, of course it’s an oversimplification, which is why I used labels such as “for all practical purposes.” Of course mass market Neopaganism had a prehistory in the 1970s — I’d point to the Pagan Way movement, with its largely upper Midwest basis, as well as to the enclaves in New York and the Bay area — but it became a mass movement with a significant cultural presence after the publication of those two books.

    Patricia M, oh, I know. The Heathens I know are great people and don’t fit those stereotypes at all; they’re also, I have to say, considerably more likely on average to keep their word and treat you decently than your common or garden variety pop-culture Neopagan, but that’s another matter entirely. As for the second issue, I hope that those people in the Pagan scene who do take the Rede and the Threefold Law seriously stick to that, make a point of it, and shun those who don’t; the lines haven’t yet been drawn, and so there’s still time to determine which side of them you’ll be on.

    Wendy, I hope he does too — he’s a thoughtful guy, and I think we could have an interesting conversation. As for astrology, I’ve got the advantage of a Mercury-Saturn trine…

    Phutatorius, my guess is that he simply relied too much on one source. It’ll be interesting to see whether he responds. As for HottiesForTrump, the squeaky clean wholesomeness of most of the pictures is one of the most engaging things about the whole phenomenon. The shift from anime cuties in storm trooper uniforms to this is enough to give one whiplash… 😉

  29. Stephen, there was certainly a lot of interpenetration (and yes, you can read that however you like) between certain ends of the rock music scene and certain of the grubbier branches of occultism from the late 1960s on. I’m not sure why that happened, but it’s been a source of mixed signals ever since — and it’s helped a certain number of fundamentalists convince themselves that Aleister Crowley’s buffooneries are a fair measure of occultism as a whole, which they certainly are not.

    Brian, that’s an excellent point. The self-marginalization of the political left after 1980 was a very curious thing; there was in effect a bargain between activist organizations and the ruling elites, whereby the activists were given corporate donations and a definite niche in society in exchange for spinning their wheels uselessly and giving up every tactic that might possibly bring about change. Now both sides of that bargain are having their applecarts upset in exactly the way Spengler predicted, by Caesarism backed by a populist insurgency; the elites are scrambling and flapping their hands, and the activists have shifted their self-marginalizing exercises into a far higher gear than ever before.

    Aloysius, that’s sometimes a very necessary thing to do. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of inner development to get to the point of being able to engage in political controversy without getting caught up in it emotionally.

  30. @BoysMum

    I was thinking of that exact Lewis quote and wondering if I would be able to find it online but you saved me the trouble – thank you!

    @David BTL

    Some groups (eg the Witnesses) 100% perceive themselves as fringe / outside of mainstream (and for them that is a feature – if you were accepted fully by the mainstream (ie Satan’s world) that would prove you were compromised enemies of God (ie part of Babylon the Great)) but proselytization is a key component of their worldview.

    Re Pentecostal magic

    My sister was over at her then-separated-now-ex husband’s house and found a sheet of paper that he and his church mates had done and sent me a copy as she was a bit concerned about it and wanted to know what it meant.

    It was full of bindings and loosings (eg We bind her in submission to her husband and loose from her the evil rebelliousness of her heart … we compel her into submission to the one true God before whose name every knee shall bow etc).

    The interesting thing to me was the blindness involved. To invoke the strength of a God one of whose primary characteristics, in your theological understanding, is the allowance of free will in all creatures to override the free will choice of another human being would not only not work (“if you ask anything according to his will you will have the thing you asked of Him”) but put you offside with the self-same God.

    If they had prayed for the eyes of her heart to be opened to the truth or that she would see clearly through the bitterness etc they might have had a chance.

    Needless to say what she read and what I explained to her did not exactly make her more willing to give him/them a great deal of ongoing positive interactivity…

  31. Again, I do not think there is any substantial common ground to be found here between orthodox Christianity and the manifold forms of occult/pantheist religiosity referenced by JMG in his lead post. They are categorically different from one another, and orthodox Christianity will always regard religions that reject a transcendent and absolute creator God with fundamental suspicion, and as likely entailing an illicit consort of some sort with satan and his minions, whether by design or by accident.

    JMG, I think you are very much mistaken to think that Rod Dreher will view matters any differently than the way I have characterized above. Dreher is a member of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, which is roughly analogous in its strict adherence to the traditionalist understanding of Eastern Orthodoxy to the strict adherence of Society of St. Pius X to traditional, pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism. No traditionalist Christian orientation of this general kind will view any of the movements JMG mentioned in his post as spiritually benevolent and beneficial outlooks.

    That said, I think a public conversation of some sort between you and Dreher would have considerable value, and I hope to do my part to help bring this about.

  32. Dear JMG,

    I think the “witch” response is somewhat conditioned in certain segments of the population. People see a transgender person working with herbs and, through symbolic association, the word “witch” comes. Part of this is the political shenanigans of pop neopaganism; “we are the ancestors of the witches you didn’t burn,” etc and all the noise about “queer magic” and all of that. Enough of that has seeped into the culture where people will sometimes yell “witch!” approvingly. Of course I always say, “I’m just a herbalist,” and then change the subject.

    Your response to Scotlyn interests me. Luckily I’ve spent a lot of time watching videos made by folks critical of antifa and the like and I think I have some sense of what people fear:

    * People fear — ironically — witch hunts and their speech being policed by self-appointed vigilantes.

    * People fear violence from folks who are merely in disagreement.

    * People fear being doxxed and targeted.

    * People fear folks who look like they will do these things. That is people who look college educated, wear gender bending clothing, have preferred pronouns, and announce with their fashion their adherence to the Control Left. There’s also a certain vibe that these folks have which announces this, too.

    I imagine that this then would extend to people’s magical fears, although I haven’t heard them articulated. Basically, on my own end, I do my best to wear inoffensive clothing, to avoid politics, and to allow people to freely speak their minds in conversation. I never insist on a pronoun or correct people when they use whatever pronoun either. I do my best to dress in nondescript clothing.

    Also vibes are important; Antifa folk have a very brittle vibe, always listening to find an excuse to bully. Rather than I think smiling a lot, laughing readily, and being mostly self-contained with a little bright and bubbly helps too shift the energy profile as recognizably different than the antifa/neopagan crowd.

    Lastly I think that it bears noting that one of the benefits of being magically aware is that it allows one to use magic for protection and the like. There are plenty of roots and herbs and stones one can carry to help hedge the bets socially, after all. There are all sorts of baths and ways of washing one’s clothes and colognes one can wear, too.

    I also think the thing is, if one is doing benevolent workings than those too help to inform the vibe that one gives off, which will then be more benevolent. People in the years ahead may be wary of alternative religions, but I wonder if this will manifest itself more on fears of folks skulking about graveyards than folks burning frankincense and spending a lot of time in prayer. That is, if one doesn’t have the signifiers or talking-points of the Control-Left and doesn’t engage in sketchy practices, it may be relatively easy to keep quiet and do a few more protective workings!

    Anyways, I’m extremely grateful for this conversation in general. This subject is really emotionally loaded, and I find that thinking more on it and articulating those thoughts helps me come to a more balanced place of understanding, and so, for that reason, many, many thanks!

  33. I thought this might be a good opportunity to submit what many people online consider to be Exhibit A of the left taking “flight to the fringes”, namely Rachel Bloom singing “My Sex Junk” on the “Billy Nye Saves The World” show, a few months after Trump’s victory in the 2016 election.

  34. How I foresee this; In this ever increasing tumultuous revolving times, evolution is at work on its finest. Survival, of the fittest religious groups, while simultaneously merging with each other frequently.

    What that will lead to, will be an intermixed, from our perspective, stream of religious movements. A new patchwork ideology, in-cooperating all the maladies coming along with our collapsing contemporary civilisation, to form a working glue, melting the remaining fragmented populace together.

    As such these new ideology will conquer the future with a fresh fervour, while we see there actually rather chaotic, violent and frightful prospects.

  35. @David BTL “Of course, if one is utterly convinced that he/she is right and everyone else is wrong and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or thinks, then I guess the idea makes more sense, but that strategy seems to me a poor one for actually achieving one’s goals for social change…”

    I think that yeah, most subconsciously don’t really want social change, because they’d lose the status that out-woking others gets. But I also think it has to do with the ignorance of magical ethics – or respect for wisdom in old sayings-that this essay points out (even the Golden Rule could be a materialist reminder!).

    One of my new fave podcasts is by a couple of sisters who together check all the left’s prize boxes: black, queer, artsy writer types deeply engaged in social justice work. EXCEPT from a collapse-aware frame, using Octavia Butler’s work as a touchstone – when they say build community, they really mean it. Thus I don’t know how much attention it will get.

    Their favourite quote in relation to their social justice work (in Detroit and rural Minnesota) is from her Earthseed trilogy “all that you touch, you change, all that you change, changes you.” what this means, they say, is when they want to change some racist joe’s skinhead mind about their humanity, they have to be prepared to *have their mind changed by him*. You can’t convince someone else you’re human without approaching their humanity. (I sometimes wonder if Butler was more into the occult than she let on, because she teaches it in her books). That means it’s *hard work* and messy, and humbling and requires deep wells of compassion… Not modern values at all. What passes for most social justice activism is the equivalent of paying indulgences instead of going to church.

  36. “Clothing styles, “camp” mannerisms, and a galaxy of other customs raised barriers between the gay male community and the rest of America. That’s what fringe groups do: they define themselves against the mainstream by embracing what the mainstream detests.”

    Would it be wrong if I said that the fact that gay culture *was, at the time, a kind of counter-culture* also contributed to the initial rapid spread of HIV in the gay community?

    When I say this, I mean to get at something slightly more complicated, and bearing less moral sentiment, than “AIDS is God’s punishment on the gays”. Like, correct me if I’m wrong, but — the homosexuality aside — is it true some of their customs and practices back then involved breaking other taboos that Christians had on sexual activity, like promiscuity and BDSM play?

  37. @JMG re Heathens being “considerably more likely on average to keep their word”….

    That’s written deeply into the tenets of their faith. The worst thing one could call an old Heathen was “oathbreaker.” (Followed very closely by a term I’ll have to translate very blandly as “sissy,”, however. You probably know its equivalent in Latin if you’ve ever read Catullus in the original. He minced no words!)

    Of course, it’s also an old axiom of Witchcraft that “what you say, that you must do.”

  38. A few comments on cursing and making it known that you cast curses:

    a. I heartily agree with the final paragraph of JMG’s post. If you want to understand what villages and other small communities of people who are stuck with each other are like when most people believe in the possibility of malevolent magic, I recommend Witches and Neighbours by Robin Briggs. Most of the book deals with popular pressure for witch trials in England where there was no Inquisition, and how some of it was driven by people having decades of stored up grudges against their neighbors. In any community that is tight knit enough for gossip to circulate and where people believe in magic, charges that someone is doing evil spells are easy to believe and difficult to dispute.

    b. The British founders of the early forms of Wicca, having grown up in a society much more settled and stratified than the United States, were very aware of this. Some rules of behavior in classic initiatory Wica are greatly concerned with presenting a benign public face or not attracting attention at all.

    Popular Neopagan Wicca as it developed in the Seventies and Eighties went beyond this to make firm, absolute rules against hexing. They claimed to be passing on traditional laws, but that claim is subject to some dispute. Some teachers prohibited any kind of magic that is intended to manipulate the mind of another person or affect another without that person’s express consent. For an extreme example of this, read a book that was very popular among feminist Neopagans in its time–Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein.

    c. Most Second Wave feminists who got involved with Wicca and adjacent practices were solidly against hexing and cursing, as JMG says. Z. Budapest, one of the more famous Dianic witches, was an exception. She was sympathetic to the kind of view expressed by Aradia, that witchcraft is a revolutionary weapon of the weak against the strong. She did public group hexing of rapists as early as the 1970s.

  39. JMG wrote:
    “For a while there, many Neopagan spokespeople went out of their way to look clean-cut and professional, and Neopagan leaders talked in glowing terms of a future in which Neopagan denominations would have paid professional clergy, buildings set aside for religious use, and all the other perks of a socially acceptable religious body.”

    You’ve mentioned this tendency in the Neopagan movement in several blog posts, and I’ve always found it weird. I went to several Eastern Orthodox and Continuing Anglican churches for some years, and well…people there understood they weren’t going to get all the perks of a big denomination (the two groups I mentioned are both quite small) and didn’t care because that wasn’t the point. Both groups were kept alive by people who believed in their religion, and therefore were willing to invest lots of time and effort without expecting cushy perks for it. The priests usually worked secular jobs during the week, and accepted that, and people understood that if you wanted a building you had to pay for it, and that said building might well be an old warehouse, a closed Protestant church, a rented storefront, or a room in somebody’s house. (Yes, these are all examples I’m personally familiar with. The warehouse stands out especially-over the course of a decade, it turned into a beautiful Russian Orthodox church, complete with hand-painted icons, a bell tower, and a bookstore-AFAIK at the rather small congregation’s own expense.) If JMG’s description of the Neopagan leadership is accurate, they really come off as people who should have worked for Coca-Cola or something.

  40. I see the current Neopagan belligerence on the left as being a temper tantrum more than anything. In 2015/16, I saw multiple studies and surveys that “proved” that it was demographically impossible for a republican to ever win the presidency again. The most arrogant evangelical has nothing on a woke leftist when it comes to self righteousness. It amazes me that neither side seems to be able to see how closely they are mirror images of each other and both of them so unshakably certain that the moral high ground belongs to them and history is on their side. The liberals elected the First Black President followed by fielding the First Woman President and there was absolutely no question that she would win. To me the great metaphysical moment was a contest between Clinton, the polished, sophisticated, coldly calculating, impeccably successful, career woman, the archetype of the 21st century feminist up against Trump, the old, fat, rich, white, chauvinistic, corrupt, stereotypical Bete Noir of the left. That was a moment out of Greek Mythology. And they basically tied. She barely won the popular vote. He barely won the Electoral College. In the past two years we have seen a virtual renaissance of Progressive thought and policy but there is also a huge nasty emotional hangover for those on the left who, ostensibly without Privilege, saw their privilege edged out and trounced. Of course that brings up the fact the Left/Liberals are no more monolithic than neopagans. There are the democratic neoliberal establishment, democratic socialists, new progressives, traditional liberals, social justice activists, et al. I think it’s the old school liberals and the democratic establishment that are getting pushed to the fringe, if anybody is. It’s interesting that you mentioned Gay White Men being ostracized from social identity for not suffering enough while at long last we have a gay presidential candidate who is so straight acting that the right is struggling to even make an issue of it while I have gay friends who don’t support him because he’s “not progressive enough.” Interesting times.

  41. When I first stepped onto the path in 2008, the distinction between Wiccans, Pagans, Druids, New Agers, and Occultists was a lot fuzzier than it is now (that was around the era when you were still speaking at Pagan festivals, several of your books were coming through the Llewellyn publishing engine, and festivals and meetups would have Wiccans, Druids of all stripes, devotional polytheists, Thelemites, and Golden Dawn members and practitioners of various ATRs all present and giving workshops. The rejection of the “Big Tent” and the fracturing of the Pagan/Occult scene into is also something that’s been tied to this trend and acting like it never existed even for a moment misses a piece of the puzzle too (the Wiccan Privilege conversation and the Starhawking incident were key factors in that fracturing). I had an odd, sad moment the other day when I opened up an old social media page and saw that in it I proudly self identified as a Neopagan. I’m actually not even sure how many years it’s been since that label was something I wore with pride instead of cringed at… It’s been at least 4 or 5…

    There’s one thing that keeps sticking in my craw as I’ve watched the Pagan/Occult scene unravel and fracture, and descend into varying degrees of dysfunction… and as I reflect back on some of the sorts of people I’ve known during my decade running in that world… on the petulance, immaturity… on the people who barely lead functional lives… and compare it against what I see out there in the secular world or in the milder brands of mainstream religion… I’d been trying to figure out how to phrase it in a Magic Monday but it’s so on topic with this week’s post and last week’s post about the Left Hand Path that I might as well bring it up here:

    You’ve spoken before of the decision point that sets every soul on the path to the mysteries… Dion Fortune spoke of the point at which a soul learns all it has to learn from its evolution and sets its foot on the path… That implies that people pulled to the mysteries and the occult -ought- to have a certain degree of spiritual maturity that would set them apart from the world outside… instead during my time involved in that scene I’ve known more than my share of people in their mid-40s who live out their lives couch-surfing, can’t hold down a job, never bathe, and yet somehow can pull together the funds to go to a dozen or so several hundred dollar Pagan and occult conferences a year… And even the more seemingly functional people in this world are often apt to pull the sorts of shenanigans you described in this week’s post. It’s not just a modern problem or a Neopagan problem either… Dion Fortune lamented at one point that the occult seems to produce far more charlatans than intellects of the first order, and Yeats has several frustrated letters to Lady Gregory complaining about being the only responsible adult in the room (my favorite paraphrased quote about Crowley’s initiation: “this is supposed to be a mystical society, not a reformatory”)… So… what is going on? What is it about the occult that seems so often to lead to moral, emotional, or functional regression if these people are according to traditional teachings supposedly humanity’s graduating class as it were?

  42. I’ve only dipped the very tip of my pinky toe into Wicca, but I thought the Law of Threefold Return was absolutely paramount to that religion. I genuinely don’t understand how the intention to do harm could become so widespread among some Wiccans… Then again, there are many Christians who seem to have no problem breaking the golden rule, or many of the ten commandments, so maybe this is a similar phenomenon.

    It also seems like this turn toward the spiritual “darkside” among some on the Left is being mirrored in the political realm, with many embracing such political evils as censorship — shutting down free speech when it’s deemed offensive — and even mob violence. I realize that most of these people are probably all talk and no walk, but I have nonetheless been deeply disturbed to hear many of my “friends” gleefully echo the slogan, “Punch Nazis!”

  43. It occurred to me while listening to a recent news story from Europe, that to name your party “Alternative for Germany” is to implicitly assume that you’ll always be on the fringe. The “alternative”, not the mainstream. It’s baked into the name.

    By the way, it summer solstice is almost upon us, and solstices are my cue to drop some money into the tip jar. I encourage others to do the same. As they say in public radio: “think back on all you’ve learned here, and give generously.”

  44. Nestorian, good heavens, I don’t expect Dreher to approve of my religion. If he’s serious in the brand of Christianity he professes, that’s not an option for him. The common ground I mentioned, as I tried to make clear in the post, lies in a rejection of spiritual practices with malevolent intent — and whether he (or you) believe this or not, that rejection is just as unswerving in traditional occultism as it is in traditional Christianity. The fact that the two differ in many other serious and important ways doesn’t erase that element of common ground.

    Violet, er, it also has rather a lot to do with self-presentation, and especially with such social signals as clothing styles. It’s impressive how precisely you can shape people’s expectations and attitudes with a change of wardrobe… With regard to protective magic, though, exactly — one of the things that drives witchcraft panics historically is the sense that malign forces are being directed at you and there’s nothing you can do about it. Giving people effective ways to counter such forces is a very good way to keep everyone calm — and it’s one of the reasons why folk practitioners who focused on healing, blessing, and lifting curses got by unscathed even when suspected witches were being chased down by mobs.

    Mister N, uh, yeah.

    Hubertus, that’s certainly one way that things could work out.

    Lain, I’ve read detailed discussions of exactly this point from within the gay male community, so you’re probably quite correct. The most important factor, as I understand it, was that in the gay male subculture, sexual promiscuity was treated as an unmitigated good, and attempts to point out that it was also the best possible way to maximize transmission of a fatal venereal disease got a great deal of pushback from members of the community who could only see this as an attack on a central value of theirs.

    Patricia, it’s a very strong tenet of both faiths, and trad Wiccans tend to be very good about it too. It’s the pop-culture Neopagans I had in mind when it came to moral squashiness.

    Deborah, thanks for this. That certainly matches my experience of the scene back in the day — and having met Z rather more than once, I’m not at all surprised that she was up to such things!

    Tolkienguy, the problem with the pop Neopagan scene is that a lot of the people involved in it bought into a mythic ideology that held that the age of Christianity was over and that someday soon, in the words of a really rather nasty song by Isaac Bonewits, we would “all be pagan again.” So they were sure that they didn’t have to make do with converted warehouses — no, the Neopagan movement would grow and grow and just keep growing, until it occupied the same social role that liberal Protestant Christianity occupied when the people who held this belief were children. A lot of people have been left twisting in the wind by the awkward fact that this hasn’t happened.

    Btidwell, I think it’s more than a temper tantrum, but we’ll see.

    Eric, oh, no question, when I first started going to Pantheacon in San Jose, in 2002 or so, it attracted people from many different traditions, many of them far from Neopagan. I didn’t see a lot of Golden Dawnies or Heathens or old-fashioned Druids who considered themselves Neopagan, but the Neopagans were perfectly willing to share space with them and make room for a very wide range of magical spiritualities. By the time I stopped going in 2009, that was no longer the case — which was much of why I stopped going — and yeah, the Starhawking incident and the Wiccan Privilege business, which came after, put the icing on that particular cake.

    As for why the occult attracts dingbats, that’s going to require a post of its own…

    Sam, I ain’t arguing. The whole “punch Nazis” business becomes especially septic when the radical left insists that it, and it alone, gets to decide who is a Nazi…

  45. I enjoyed the post, but I’m commenting on the comments.

    I think a conversation between Dreher and JMG would be interesting, and profitable–I read both a lot, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. And Dreher has at least one pagan friend–Franklin Evans (https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/of-broken-ankles-blessings/) (The doctor mentioned is my friend, and has been for almost 20 years–a very devout Christian.)

    I’d note that “spiritual warfare” quite possibly has malevolent aspects, but to the extent I’ve encountered it, it’s always been closer to exorcism/banishing than to any form of cursing. I very much dislike that whole subset of Christianity, and think it’s stupid and dangerous to do anything that might get demons’ attention without strong protections (Catholic exorcists have them, but some of the spiritual warfare crowd…)–but all the cases I’ve seen or heard about, it’s been intended to help a specific person who was present and involved.

  46. (Posted a comment, which disappeared)

    Put me down as well for the “a conversation between Dreher and JMG would be enlightening.) I’d note that Dreher has a friend and regular commenter who’s pagan–Franklin Evans. Rather than posting links, I’ll say –google for “Of Broken Ankles and Blessings” and “Our Pagan Future-or not” on Dreher’s site.

  47. Archdruid,

    I don’t know how this comment fits into this weeks discussion, but it popped into my head just now. Many Hindus are starting to look to what we describe as the non-abrahamic western traditions for a kind of cultural alliance. This is done partly as a way to protect ourselves against the aggressively expansionist trifect of imperial Islam, imperial Christianity, and imperial material scientism. What occurred to me was how frequently I’ve noticed screeds about Brahmanical patriarchy on the leftward end of politics even here in the states. I kinda wonder the neo-pagan left would react to any diplomatic efforts by the Hindu hierarchy.

    Regards,

    Varun

  48. Point well taken! I wish to note, though, that I specifically mentioned clothing and fashion in my comment:

    “* People fear folks who look like they will do these things. That is people who look college educated, wear gender bending clothing, have preferred pronouns, and announce with their fashion their adherence to the Control Left. There’s also a certain vibe that these folks have which announces this, too.”

    That said, I don’t think I was very clear on the point, and indeed, I find your extra emphasis on fashion honestly rather helpful, so thank you. The magical effect of clothing really does deserve careful consideration and makes me think that making some time for people watching may be in order…

  49. Grrrrrrr. To the commenters who have lumped Rod Dreher in with Evangelicals and/or Fundamentalists: he is not an Evangelical, he is not a Fundamentalist. Those two terms have specific definitions within Christianity and simply labeling any conservative-sounding Christian Evangelical or Fundamentalist is as sloppy as lumping all polytheists, pagans, and satanists together. Dreher is an ex-Roman Catholic and now a devout Orthodox Christian, denominations whose practices and worship services are vastly different than that of Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, and Pentecostals.

  50. Re “[Octavia Butler’s] Earthseed trilogy “all that you touch, you change, all that you change, changes you.”

    See also the Reclaiming chant “She changes everything she touches, and everything she touches, changes…”

    Some minds think in parallel.

  51. I’m not aware of “the Starhawking incident”, though she did seem to get a serious case of “of course I’m right!” somewhere along the way. I read her novel, forget the name.

    Like Norman Spinrad’s Songs from the Stars, which at least had a clue that their Calitopia was artificially propped up by contraband machinery, she made us desert people into her villains. That mindset from the Left Coast has set my 50-years-a-Norteno teeth on edge for a long time. (Spinrad also has the Deus Ex UFO ending, as big a cop-out as Brin’s “unobtanium saves the day” ending to his novel Earth.)

    Anyway, would appreciate if you’d elucidate.

  52. Lathechuck, that’s a valid point, about Alternative fuer Deutschland.. Thank you!

    SamChevre, I think it was a decade or so back that Christian spiritual warfare groups were visualizing “avenging angels” and sending them to attack Pagans; the visualization they used, according to documents circulated through the Pagan community, was to imagine the “angels” (as we’d say, artificial elementals) plunging through the center of a pentagram and destroying everything on the other side. It was a straightforward magical attack, and it was far from the only one of that sort that came to the attention of the Neopagan community.

    As you see, by the way, both your comments got through!

    Varun, the Neopagan left would go out of its way to alienate Hindus because its whole dynamic at this point is to chase off as many allies as possible. If Hindu leaders wanted to have a conversation with some old-fashioned Druids, on the other hand, I think they’d get a very courteous reception. I wonder if they’ve considered outreach to the Shinto community in Japan — my guess is they’d get a very gracious response there.

    Violet, you’re right, I missed that. It’s not just the gender bending aspect of clothing, though — there’s a “witchy wardrobe” look that’s as distinctive as a uniform, and of course there are other modes of dressing that get equally immediate responses. When I travel, I can control to a fare-thee-well what kind of response I get depending on whether or not I wear a jacket and tie…

    Your Kittenship, I posted a detailed account of it here,

    Patricia, it’s not at all impossible that one of those was inspired by the other! Starhawk’s novel — The Fifth Sacred Thing — was one of the most drearily hamfisted progressive morality plays I think I’ve ever trudged through, a leftward equivalent of Atlas Shrugged, though thank heavens it was shorter.

    Candace, we’ll see. Stay tuned!

  53. I am one of those rural heathens you mentioned. I am not on the political left, so my sympathy for left-wing neopaganism was already pretty low. This encroachment of “demonolatry” and malevolent magic really has me worried. They are trying to act like moving versions of Christian straw-men, not “pagans” in any real sense. I have nothing but contempt for Satanism or demon-worship, that is something purely from Christianity. Most of the “demons” listed in the Christian magic books and other lists are Near Eastern deities that have had their images distorted by the Christians(or the Jews).

    If some of them really are in contact with malevolent entities, they are eventually going to regret it. Only someone who does not take the spiritual seriously would meddle with the otherworld like a blind fool, trying to get the attention of dangerous things. I have some experience meeting left-wing neopagans, and the majority of them did not seem to take this seriously. They were as flippant about the issue of “magic” as they would be about choosing which color to wear. And yet they get completely bent out of shape about today’s political causes or whatever social justice issue is trending. Seems to me they have got their priorities all wrong.

  54. I’m one of those gay while males you mention.
    I was stunned at how accurately you described my journey over the past 20 years. My relationships with women began experiencing strains when Bush II was elected. The tensions began rising in a parabolic curve around 2012. After Trump’s election all but 2 of my relationships went into cardiac arrest (the exceptions are both conservatives). I’m now experiencing a veritable parade of strong-souled,straight, politically conservative, religious men seeking my counsel.
    It usually begins with “You’re gay. Can you explain what’s happening?” After pointing out my abject failure as a feminist purse-holder, I get a double-blink stare. It’s adorable. Once I answer the cascade of questions that follow, I find that these men *want* to connect. With me. The abomination.
    The sociopolitical world has completely flipped since the day in 1988 when my parents took me to see Ted Haggard in the hopes of getting me cured. Not kidding here. That actually happened.

  55. I *tried* to listen to Atlas Shrugged via audiobook (having heard it mentioned in various places) and it goes for 63.5 hours! As a comparison the whole New Testament only goes for 19.25 hours and the Lord of the Rings for 4.5 + 4.5 + 3 so 12 hours.

    I might have gotten through it length wise but that soul sucking feeling through the bottom of my shoes as we progressed really wasn’t doing it for me.

    btw you know how you mentioned Mercedes Lackey’s good wild magic users vs the evil ritualists … is the presentation of the heroic ritualist in Jim Butcher’s the Dresden Files any closer to ‘reality’?

  56. Creeps and desperadoes may be bailing to the fringes on both sides — Evangelical Christian churches are losing parishioners in droves. Though they were never truly mainstream, hellfire and damnation types used to own more shares in the American market of ideas. Perhaps religious nut jobs of all stripes, including progress-worshipping witch-wannabes, are accidentally banishing themselves to the margins of society because the rest of us don’t afford ourselves ample free time to wallow in the hatreds in which they marinate.

    As for strategies to keep oneself from being the target of a future firing squad, I’d like to say a few things. I was born odd. I had the benefit of not being ugly, deformed, or mentally deficient, but that did not save me from being irrationally hated as early as preschool, and I dressed like an upper-middle class normie. Junior high and high school weren’t picnics, as you can imagine. So to go from a hated person to a very loved person to whom people, including complete strangers, tend to gravitate, and to become a person of extreme popularity, I can say this: it’s not about your looks, clothes, or money. I look like a witch. Big black hair, big nose, and I dress in black. I even wear a suspicious hat sometimes. To save yourself from the guillotine, look people in the eye, even if they are waiting on your table. If you sense they’re not absolutely awful people (it happens, but most people aren’t), then try to actually be concerned about them before telling them all about yourself. Beyond that, don’t be afraid to go to the chopping block. If people want to lynch me because I read strange books and don’t believe in the Christian god’s omnipotence, that’s on them and their karma if they harm or kill me. I was nice to them, I gave them home grown lettuce, and lived a law-abiding life in their society. Yeah, sometimes the cool Oscar Wilde person gets killed. I think it’s far better to just to treat people decently, live your life, and refuse to apologize or hide.

    @Mister Nobody
    Rachel “My Sex Junk” Bloom… wow… that was cringe on so many levels.

    Won’t it be difficult for a God who insists he must be the only voice in his follower’s heads to keep the spotlight in a rapidly de-industrializing age? If other gods more readily answer human prayers simply because they are a widely diversified army of gods instead of a single, distracted intelligence, and if most followers adhere to Nestorian’s binary of You’re Either With The One True God or You’re a Satanist, I see a huge fissure that could be fatal for Christianity and Judaism, and later on, mighty Islam.

  57. @JMG,

    Thanks for this. The first time I came across your writing, three years ago, was when Rod Dreher referenced the classic article “Scientific Education as a Cause of Political Stupidity” from your old Archdruid Report blog:

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/scientists-make-terrible-politicians/

    For those in the commentariat, here is the article for posterity’s sake:

    https://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-07-14/scientific-education-as-a-cause-of-political-stupidity/

  58. When people talk about ‘intersectionality’, it’s hard to tell from the outside what they mean. Are they cold, rational D party political hacks describing who clouts whom in the Party with some middlebrow twaddle to euphemise the nut-cutting? Are they True Believers in the Party Line spreading the Good News? Are they relatively normal people using phrases from TV and Academia to describe some actual injustice? You have to know the individuals, and they use the same words to mean different things all the time.

  59. I learned something important from today’s essay, and thank you very much for it. “Recognize what it is that people fear, and be something else.” It’s simple and I’ve already grokked it to some degree, but not as thoroughly as you have described it here. I’m pretty much mainstream in Japan, having taken up an establishment religion–extolling it in their press–that would probably inspire fear back where I’m from. As a non-voluntary member of a despised minority (claiming to feel the effects of radiowaves and hoping to warn others of danger), I know I have to take steps to avoid excessive visibility, stitching my own protective clothing to look like a fashion choice and laughing off the veil when I have to wear it as “Oh, it’s a really silly allergy.” Others of this minority explaining themselves in forums such as this always take pains to say they are not Luddites, which is fortunately not necessary on this forum. I always thought it was silly of them to take pains explaining how much they love technology and most importantly, still use it. I loved it too, until my rude awakening. I was aware, too, that I had to reach out somehow to the mainstream, and now I see why it would be advisable to go as far as claiming to be a technophile. I get the feeling that people are seriously afraid of having their lifeline taken away.

    Meanwhile, the terrifying wheels of history grind on heavily, and speaking of curses, we certainly live in interesting times.

  60. JMG – Thanks for this pointer to Rod Dreher’s article, an interesting read.
    I was surprised and delighted that he has a link to Jeff Kripal’s 2014 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education “Visions of the Impossible” that includes Mark Twain’s precognitive dream about his brother’s funeral and a story from Janis Amatuzio’s _Beyond Knowing_ about another death announcing dream.
    https://www.chronicle.com/article/Embrace-the-Unexplained/145557/

  61. Re: spiritual warfare – I agree that that’s malevolent magic. I’d never encountered that sort of “spiritual warfare” – the encounters I had with it were much more in the “trying to exorcise a refrigerator”, and the “confusing epilepsy and possession”, categories–stupid and harmful, but not malevolent–along with the sort of “binding and loosing” stuff Warren-Aus mentions.

  62. JMG
    This is Britain – plus an awkward piece of Ireland – apparently with little interest in the occult except as fictional entertainment, and with very little interest in organised religions and not much in exotic imports from the USA, though they continue to arrive as fashion items. Sure, fashion serves some modernised gods, I guess, but they come and go?
    Looking a bit wider, I remember you have mentioned Christian Church members in the USA apparently in the sway of entities very different from the God they purport to worship. I have seen this here in the UK. It might seem less important for us given our apparent abandonment of churches and previous subscriptions to coherent religions. Such subscription even then was probably more apparent than real, I guess. But it goes much wider than church membership. Very ordinary and, on balance, charitable people will emotionally cohere with vicious ideologies. It is not a new phenomenon but there is some very dodgy mind-stuff contending at an industrial scale for our shared minds. The ordinary stuff of cognitive dissonance seems fertile ground for magic(s) serving malignity. I am concerned for keeping my own balance. It is a personal life we share with others. We all do it, magic more ways than one, inadvertently at times, mixed-motives and all that.
    best
    Phil H

  63. I wonder if the reductionist worldview is enabling some of this. As Twin Ruler pointed out above, at one time a fair proportion of that crowd would have identified themselves as atheists. Presumably, most participants in the mass hexing/cursing workings would still balk at the prospect of throwing acid on a political opponent or physically exposing them to some kind of disease. On the other hand, if magic doesn’t really work, then there’s nothing wrong morally with what they’re doing.

    It’d still be a foolish idea, though, since even a reductionist can see how they’re wallowing in their own rage.

  64. Well I’m surprised. I didn’t know there were any Christians left in America, or at least not any that believe anything. This is the thing that surprises me most about neo-pagans, and indeed the Left, the certainty that Pat Robertson is still out there running everything. Instead, he and Billy Graham said – even in the 50s – that “If God doesn’t judge the United States, he owes Sodom an apology.” I.e., they thought there wasn’t a majority of heart-felt Christians even in what is supposedly the Christain heyday, where some majority actually attended Church. Now, I think the ratio practicing Hindus or Muslims in my office is 3:1 over churchgoing Christians – and unlike the Christians, I think they’re believers. This is well-proven by the lack of new churches as population grows, and you’re hard-pressed to find a church that can keep the roof on, while others are converted into carpet and antiques shops…and yet they’re sure these bankrupt, crumbling, empty churches run everything. They’re the ones oppressing you, they’re the ones you’re fighting against, even as they have become an even smaller wacko fringe, more kicked off Twitter and out of their jobs for their weirdo views than anyone. It’s baffling.

    So if it’s not Neo-pagans oppressing, and it’s not your Genesis-Leviticus Christians oppressing, since there aren’t any, who’s doing all this oppressing everyone’s finding everywhere? A mystery.
    Anyway, doesn’t matter if it’s TRUE, what matters is THEY believe it is true. And that’s my thought on cursing. Whether or not it works – and that may have more to do with the skills of the practitioners, which are questionable – what you’re telling me is that YOU are a violent person. It’s telling me that you’re a violent group. It’s telling me that, given half a chance, you would indeed come over, kill my dog and burn my house down if you thought you could get away with it, just to watch it burn. And that does NOT make for good neighbors or civil society. It tells me if I let you in, you’d just as happily use the power of government to burn down my house with impunity, and therefore must be shut out at all costs, which is not a way to be socially included and able to advocate for their political wants.

    So you don’t need to grok the deep implications of religion or take a philosophical position on the mechanics of the universe. This alone tells you these people are DANGEROUS. There’s a reason we adjudicate and agree on violence through a legal process and don’t take transgressions and punishment each into our own hands. While acceptance of Satanism and the most violent dark arts is being rapidly accepted, I don’t think any society is going to tolerate that view or those actions because if every man decides he is the law, promoting or destroying who he wishes, society will dissolve overnight. Into the Warlords and the Law of the Jungle, and then in necessity and reaction they WILL have the oppressive theocracy and loss of minority acceptance they erroneously believe is happening now.

    Well thankfully the U.S. is a live and let live state, and always has been. Those fringe groups supposedly always burned and oppressed have always existed with only cursory trouble, and even founded several states, one by a woman. Despite extreme rhetoric, both ultra-Christians, Hindus, Pagans, gays, blacks, all live more equitably in the nation than ever before in its history. Yet to hear it, you’d think it was the far opposite! Despite decades of objections by revisionist history, gay culture in NY was huge and open before the original Progressives drove them down for “family values”. The top recording artist in the U.S. in the 30s was a gay black man. Franklin was arguably a hedonist and occultist, lauded by the Founding Fathers back when. So try to know history before you say things never happened in history, and leave your neighbor be. Destroying things is and must be a fringe view because without a majority of builders, what would you burn?

  65. FYI, an Altright deep dive into Greerist thought. In it they beg for an interview from the Archdruid.

    Only the fringes are willing to discuss the end of progress, IMHO those who have a stronger connection to reality tend to survive In the long run.

  66. I happen to have on my bookshelf to choose from:

    The Druid Magic Handbook,
    The Celtic Golden Dawn, and
    Paths of Wisdom.

    I’m just starting down the path of ceremonial magic but there are good reasons I settled on the option that uses Judeo-Christian symbolism! Especially when I prefer the curriculum and graded initiation layout of the CGD, or some of the explicit end goals of the DMH.

    I figure I better learn how to talk about this stuff in terms that don’t immediately offend every Christian in earshot if I’m ever to get the chance to achieve the specific goals and initiations I have in mind.

    Maybe I’ll get to the rest once I figure out how to shut up and keep a secret…

    YHVH…ADNI…AHIH…AGLA
    Tripp

  67. Hey, Violet!

    I once bartered a quart of my wild-fermented mead to a friend who shared it with a friend of hers. The guy apparently took a sip and with bulging eyes exclaimed, “Dude! A straight-up witch made this!”

    I took it as a compliment…

    By the way, I just pulled a sample from the batch I made in January and it is stunningly good. I’ll make sure to set a couple bottles aside for next summer’s potluck. Trust you’ll be there. 😉

  68. Well JMG, this is explaining a big drama playing out in my extended family right now. You described the factions and most of the key players. One person has recently said she’s a witch, and has spiraled into mental illness (not for the first time) ever since — while maintaining that the problem is that, like Jesus, she’s too woke for the mainstream and so on. Until now I had assumed, based on past experience with this individual, that she had no practices and it was a cosplay situation or that her practices were of the vaguely New Age-y, love-and-light variety. I don’t think she’s a serious practitioner of Witchcraft (which, full disclosure, I would respect) but instead is gleaning her insights from pop culture. What simply had not occurred to me is that in the process she may have bumped up against something red-hot and pitchforked, as it were.

    I was already aware that the situation was pretty volatile, but now that I see some of the larger societal forces at work, well, I guess when the explosion comes it’s going to hurt more than I thought. I think I may just hide out here in the woods with my husband and cats, and wait to see what’s left when the rubble stops bouncing.

  69. @ Patricia: An interesting thing I’ve experienced among Heathen communities is the rise of a certain degree of “self-policing” with regards to racial and political attitudes. I deliberately use scare-quotes here because the actual result tends to be the self-appointing of busybodies to the role of Witch- Nazi-Finder General. These folks then use their self-designation as protectors of political virtue to browbeat Heathen communities who might be more interested in, say, practicing their religion and participating in their community, rather than using either religion or community as a stalking-horse for any sort of political ideology. I see this as the effect of the same political entryism into non-mainstream religions as our esteemed host wrote about a few years back in The Archdruid Report (for which post I am grateful, as it was the first thing of his that I read, and I’ve been a faithful reader since).

    People like that, in my experience, gain a certain amount of power from mainstream ideas of the Heathen community as composed of skinheads and racist rednecks – specifically, the power to signal their own greater virtue by publicly denouncing the entirety of Heathenry by not doing more to root out and deplatform any of those who might not aspire to their own virtuous example. There is also likely to be a carry-over from mainstream class-politics here, with the wage-class Heathens being targeted by the salary-class (or children of salary-class) Heathens for their lack of sufficiently leftward political ideology.

    @ Varun, concerning a cultural alliance between Hindus and non-Abrahamic western traditions: I do not know what the response of the leftward end of Neopaganism would be, but I do know that a number of Heathens – myself included – are interested in such an alliance, and tend to view the situation of Hindus with regards to the expansionist trifect you mention with a great deal of sympathy. I also have heard from practitioners of Greek polytheism that they have found cooperation and communication between their communities and local Hindu communities to be very fruitful.

  70. attempted recap… feel free to correct me where incorrect:

    It seems the Left has messed up for decades by focusing on what benefits the salaried middle-class and up, posing as if they know what is best for the wage classes… this has ultimately led to Trump defeating the Old Guard Left Establishment… and whether or not one likes or dislikes Trump, he could very well be a better option and opportunity to realize what’s going on an adapt compared to the more intense jackboot wearing alternative that could (and still may) come around had the situations continuing to now continued…

    But it seems the vocal Left is just stepping on the gas and splintering factions along lines that don’t necessarily involve topics focused on Survival, but instead splintering on topics that one worries about when one lives in a fairly leisurely environment (shall we say privileged…) and things carry on, and the future for Trump seems secure…

    I wonder how big the fanatical Left or Control Left really is, and what are all of the more moderate Democrats doing now? Just waiting to see how things shake out? I’m also wondering if there are any points of concentration to be interested in in our current field of 20 or so Candidates… Biden seems popular, but isn’t he just a continuation of the old guard? Sanders may be concerned with the working class, but it seems to have hamstrung himself with the Socialism wording… regardless of what he intends by that… the right will go to war against that word… Warren… I guess I don’t know much there… but seems kind of Old Guard as well, Pete seems to be in a unique-ish position but I don’t know…

    Maybe the leftward scene simply has 4 more years of burning to go before it can rebirth… whether politically or religiously? This process scares me… it feels as if we are walking the boundary of a near chaotic system and tiny almost seemingly random things can shoot things off into wildly different directions… I guess that’s normal everyday life as well… I guess I’ll continue doing my thing, look out for my child, and hope for the best!

  71. Violet, may I suggest keeping an eye on BOLO and crime reports as a way to determine what clothing is likely to be targeted and worn by those targeting?

    Likewise, watching how mainstream folks are signaling their mainstream, and how acceptable fringe groups signal their status, can provide good ideas.

    Or as I tell my (mixed race) sons: it’s always teen black male in a hoodie, never teen black male in a a suit and tie.

    Hanging out with a mixed group of people (you’ll note it’s always two black OR three white on the BOLO, never two black, one Hispanic, two Asian, AND a white), never doing anything that could be described as loitering, and avoiding certain parts of town after dark.

    Also known as why women go to the public restrooms in a group.

    Not easy for a loner!

    I’ll leave you with the reminder from Shakespeare I give my kids: “All the world’s a stage . . .” either you pick the role you play or others will.

  72. Just an FYI since I’ve enjoyed your balanced portrayals of what is commonly called the alt right: r/The Donald isn’t really the same “alt right” as the original 2016 crowd. Many of those went elsewhere after the mods were purged by Reddit. It now reflects the acceptable face of the establishment opposition, which is to say it is the same-as-it-ever-was except now with MAGA hats. Compare r/The Donald with a place like the chans which is constantly under attack by the intelligence communities of various countries.

    Most of the alt right types see this HottiesForTrump type of attention wh*ring as no different to the former ctrl left kind – the end result is still the same social media addiction and the destructive emotional gratification that comes from basing ones self esteem on followers and likes. No doubt that some of the posters there mean well, but most of the old guard see it as a continuation of the degeneracy and cultural decay of “globohomo” that they’ve been railing against since the beginning.

    See the clownworld meme to get a gist of what the real “alt right” are about. Many have also given up on Trump (or Zio Don as they have dubbed him) since he is either unwilling or incapable of stemming the tide of globalism. Yes, he hasn’t started any wars yet, but the US targeting of countries without a Rothschild central bank continues on as it always has. Some of them may vote for Trump since they dont see an alternative, but there are many who will vote for Yang (see the yangbucks threads on the chans) since they feel they may was well get paid a $1000 a month while it all collapses around them. The general consensus is that the U.S. will split into at least two separate countries. Whether this will happen after a full-scale civil war, no one is sure yet, but they are preparing for the worst.

    On the magical/spiritual side, interestingly enough, I’ve seen many of the veterans of the Kek wars turn to traditionalist forms of Christianity, primarily the Orthodox churches or some of the more extreme forms of traditionalist Catholicism (I.e. those who practise the Latin mass, see the modern day Pope as nothing but a Marxist plant, and are not the Israel First Christians that the neocons love). What is interesting given your thesis here is that they are all forms of religion that believe in the reality of demons and contain practises to resist or exorcise demonic influence. In some peculiar way, the resistance to #TheMagicalResistance is well under way and it will come from the most surprising quarter. I suspect you are right and we will see these leftist demonalters being burned at the stake (and likely with good cause this time!)

    N.O.X.,

    Frater Nyarlathotep.

  73. @christophe “And what can the rest of us do to side step the more spectacular side effects of their frenzied contest?” Your whole comment was so thought provoking. But as far as this question I’ve been thinking about having a banner made that says “Leave Us Alone”. I am contemplating what people would make of this banner hanging from my house if there were ever to be an outburst of polarized political violence in America. I feel like it would unfortunately draw undue attention.

    @saradee What’s the name of that podcast? For me the Earthseed trilogy was such a breath of fresh air from the standard Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic sci fi that is normally produced.

  74. @Sam and JMG

    One of my oldest friends has maintained the rightness of punching NAZIs through many debates now. I’ve pointed out that he’s giving up the moral high ground. I’ve pointed out that he’s picking a fight with people far more competent at violence than he is. I’ve pointed out that legitimizing punching people as political discourse means that he could also be punched by people who disagree with him.

    None of it has had any impact, so far as I can tell. He says “I agree, you shouldn’t punch people in the face…except NAZIs” and “I’m not an asshole, so why would anybody punch me?”

    The model I’ve developed, though I’m having trouble truly accepting it, is that my friend is driven primarily by emotion, and that everything is subordinate to what “feels right” right now. The arguments he makes are in service to that feeling and need not have any consistency with an overall principle.

    I’ve had pretty good results reminding myself to look for the emotion he’s expressing rather than taking what he’s said literally, but sometimes that’s hard to do. I’m curious how other people handle these kinds of disconnects with people in their lives.

  75. @ Patricia Mathews *spits out bristles* “is there anyone out there?” *muffled voice from behind door*… 😉

    @ JMG – “Recognise what people fear, and be something else”. That makes a lot of sense. Of course, even Jesus had to reassure some of those who encountered him… “Be not afraid”.

    @ Violet, you’ve put a lot of thought into what people are afraid of, thanks for that. I don’t want to hunt or police people, or target them with doxing or violence, since, I would not like any of these done to me. However, people sometimes dress their fears in clothes that look like me or you or another recognisable demographic. Also, there are people with an interest in “helping” people to dress their fears in clothes that look like me or you or another recognisable demographic. And it is this kind of fear, more than hate, which can get completely unassuming and unthreatening people “defensively” targetted and injured or killed.

    @ David, by the Lake, I am very glad to see you here, I have been missing you. I think I get what you are saying. It makes more sense to seek “fringedom” as it were, when you believe everyone is against you, rather than when you are against everyone, and want to know why. But maybe one can turn into the other over time. And wanting everyone to know why they are wrong is not the same as wanting to share a negotiated political space with them.

    @ SaraDee I would be interested in the name of the podcast you mentioned. Also, the references to the buying and selling of indulgences is actually spot on! I’m going to go think about that some.

    @All – I’m wondering what us of the old “Left” in the sense which has always been meaningful to me – organisings around yearnings for liberation – can now call ourselves, since clearly whatever Left means now, it doesn’t mean that.
    And “not-left-because-it-has-become-about-control-instead-of-liberation-but-not-right-either” is a bit of a mouthful.

  76. John, a great look at the missing pieces neglected by the two linked articles, and the various social, historical, and spiritual forces at play.

    If I recall correctly you have forecasted the implosion of popular neopaganism in the past -this seems to be a turning point towards taking a step down that staircase.

    To all those here who practice magic, it might not be a bad time to do some reflecting on the fourth power of the sphinx -as well as whatever protective measures, & methods of keeping ‘clean’ on an etheric/spiritual level your particular tradition prescribes. Silence itself is one of the methods from a tradition I follow. & with that, I guess ’nuff said!

  77. “Why should anyone accept/choose an existence as a fringe group”?
    and
    “For a political or religious group that has half-consciously given up on succeeding, in particular, the benefits of becoming big fishes in a little and self-consciously isolated pond, combined with attention from the mass media and various other social rewards, are often more than enough.”

    My answer to David By the Lake and JMG:

    It’s not that I want to be a big fish in a small pond; it’s a lonely little pond, believe me. Unfortunately, if one lives in a linguistic Certaintocracy in which it’s either conform or get out, and if one cannot bring oneself to learn the conformist version of English, one is willy-nilly shunted to the margin.

    Linguistic change encapsulates for me the sense of irretrievable cultural loss, but when I try to argue against it, a pseudopodium of the ubiquitous Certaintocracy then reaches out to switch me off, informing me that the language I use – the language I grew up with and which is based on natural-law ideas which were mainstream within living memory and have never been refuted – is certainly, irrefutably, unquestionably, incontrovertibly wrong.

    Having said all that, JMG, I was fascinated by your article, as usual. Very informative about trends of which I had been completely unaware.

    Are we agreed that someone who sincerely invokes demons must be insane, or have some occultists advanced practical suggestions about how to do a profitable deal with a demon? Perhaps some minor, tameable demon?

  78. You get a lot of self-identified neopagans in OBOD which counts as old fashioned Druidry and was where I picked up the label. And you get a lot of heathens in ADF (the senior Druid in my grove is also a leader in a local kindred and there’s an ADF priest whose running for a leadership position in the Troth. Isaac was also initiated into Golden Dawn and Santeria and Ian Corrigan . ADF is a little weird though since it started out as Neopagan (Isaac being one of the people who popularized the word and having written that song), but so few people identify that way… I kind of expect that in the future at some point ADF will fold on the national level while the surviving groves will have wildly varying fates, some being swept up in the Neopagan fringe, some folding, and others get pushed into the devotional polytheist movement but we’ll see.

    My own ADF grove also used to have a Golden Dawn member and an OTO member but neither were particularly balanced. There was a schism back in 2014 partly over politics, partly over personal conflicts and partly over a personality cult that had built up around a member and the Golden Dawn member left with that group. Last I heard all of them are involved in the sort of left wing banecraft you criticize here (he was always pretty cavalier about malevolent magic and claimed Nemesis as a patron deity)… The OTO member got deep into the alt right around 2017 which led to what few hex happy leftists we had left to leave because we didn’t kick him out and publicly denounce him (he then left because we told him that we didn’t care what his politics were, but that he needed to keep them at home). Right now we’ve got a pretty varied mix of political allegiances as well as a good bit of variety in what sorts of spiritual practices people pursue at home including a few traditional occultists of various types.

    Regarding Dingbats: I had a conversation about this with a friend last night and he made a pretty astute observation about such people getting drawn to the occult: “Just because one is mature enough to start being drawn towards the mysteries does not mean one is anything like mature enough to respond appropriately to them. Twelve year olds frequently are old enough to start being drawn towards sex, but that doesn’t by any means entail that they’re mature enough to handle it appropriately.” My meditation this morning was on The Tower, and I thought a great deal about the triangle of Peh, Ayin, and Nun that marks the opening of the veil, and noticed that there is a significant symbolic overlap between that point in spiritual development and puberty. The first stirrings of the currents of the types energy at the heart of spiritual work are symbolized by the uncontrolled chaotic power you see in the Tower card… which shows that the first stirrings of the initiate’s calling are almost directly analogous to the first stirrings of sexual energy in an adolescent… which often takes the form of internal chaos and apparent regression until the adolescent can tame those raging hormones and enter adulthood. Therefore it would make perfect sense that the incarnations directly preceding the first hints of the veil parting would look a good bit like regression compared to the stability that existed before that happened. That combined with the karmic culmination that comes from setting out on the path form a perfect storm of messy living during that transition period.

  79. Dear Tripp,

    Fair enough! When people have called me a witch it has always been a compliment, but one I happen not to like very much.

    Dear BoysMom,

    Excellent points, thank you! I’ll share with you that I don’t own a single hoodie, black or otherwise. In fact, I have never owned one. A big part of that is that hoodies signal everything I want to avoid. Black hoodies are indeed the most antinomian common piece of clothing I can think of. Rather I tend to wear turtlenecks, button down shirts and black jeans. That said, my wardrobe has been growing a bit threadbare of late and I imagine I’ll have to visit the thrift store soon! Again thank you, for the many excellent points.

    Dear Scotlyn,

    Point well taken! As noted above in my response to BoysMom, I tend to try to avoid what I consider to be antinomian fashion such as black hoodies. I don’t mind doing a wardrobe upgrade to “wholesome and inoffensive” but I’m still in the process of figuring out precisely what I’m going for with how I dress.

  80. Very interesting. A lot I had never known or thought about. The Left’s rise to mainstream and establishment status is actually very short-lived. It happened within my lifetime and it makes sense to me that many of us/them are simply not so comfortable with the ‘Establishment’ status and would not be uncomfortable returning to the status as ‘Rebels with a cause’ or fringe elements fighting against an unfair system. It’s a very different thing to fight the good fight and to govern or rule fairly.

  81. Something that this conversation reminds me of forcefully is Brian Burrough’s excellent book _Days of Rage_ which details the implosion of the 1960’s counterculture into terrorist groups skulking from safehouse to safehouse. Of course, Mr. Hughes in his widely hyped malefic workings against the president, frequently spoke highly of the political theatre of the various countercultural icons that did a working to exorcise the Pentagon and then make it levitate, which I dare say was not effective in the least.

    Point being, this sort of Leftist deviance seems to be a recurring pattern. Indeed, an interesting parallel between our time and the 1970’s is the lack of oil. Perhaps when times get hard the Leftist doctrine of “a middle class lifestyle for everyone!” creates unbearable cognitive dissonance and one sees hardcore radical Leftists breakaway into little communities of people looking for the right institutions to blame and destroy so that everyone can have a middle class lifestyle.

    This is certainly what happened in the 1970’s and it seems that we are witnessing the same thing. What is all the talk of the White Supremacist-Capitalist-Patriarchy, and indeed all of the frenzied math of Intersectionality, but crosshairs to find the best targets for hatred and rage?

    For this reason I see a direct continuity between the New Left policies detailed in _Days of Rage_ and what’s going on now. In the 1970’s the emphasis was less on occultism, and much more on bomb-making. It seems to me that two strands of the 1960’s counterculture are finally “coming home” to one another in their outsider status. Rhyd Wildermuth, after all, claims to be both a polytheist and a Marxist and so unites these disparate strands.

  82. K, I’m not arguing! You’re quite right that a lot of people on the Neopagan left don’t take magic seriously — the popularity of soi-disant “secular Paganism” (i.e., people who like the parties and the fashion statements but don’t believe in gods or magic) in those circles is a pretty good measure of that.

    NoHype, I had the advantage of reading some very good essays by other gay white men who went through a similar trajectory. Many thanks for sharing your story!

    Warren, I haven’t read Butcher’s fiction — can you recommend one volume for me to try?

    Kimberly, we’re in the middle of a massive reshuffling of cultural forms, and it’ll be interesting to see which survive and which crash and burn. I’m not surprised to see the evangelical churches losing air at a rapid pace — they made the same mistake as the liberal denominations and replaced religion with cultural politics, and now they’re dying the same way. If a Protestant denomination were to ditch politics entirely and focus on helping people connect with God, I’m convinced they would be the largest denomination in the country in about six weeks…but they’d have to ditch the modernist obsessions of the clergy, and of course that’s not going to happen easily, if at all.

    Carlos, Rod and I have been circling warily around each other for a long time; my one attempt at starting a dialogue wasn’t taken up, but he’s a very thoughtful and interesting guy and he and I talk about some of the same things — from, of course, very different perspectives.

    Engleberg, sure, but that’s the case any time anybody uses language. What interests me in the language of intersectionality is how quickly it became an instrument of status seeking on the intellectual wing of the radical left — “I have more axes of oppression than you do, therefore my ideas are truer than yours” sums up a great deal of rhetoric in that scene. Since access to the dwindling stock of academic positions depends on such games, it’s played with a great deal of intensity.

    Patricia, glad to be of help. You’re quite correct about interesting times, and of course I discussed curses in a different light some time back…

    Sunnnv, that’s good to see. Christian writers back in the early days of the Age of Reason used that approach — proving the possibility of Christianity by showing the existence of the unexplained — with good effect; it’s interesting to see it being brought back into play as the Age of Reason gutters out.

    SamChevre, were the ones you encountered in a Catholic context, by any chance?

  83. Thanks for the timely and deft post. Change doesn’t just keep happening: the rate of change increases. So it takes just months or years to cover decades of decay. It hadn’t occurred to me that the decay might actually include status, as well, but this makes sense: when your garbage men and plumbers know something is wrong, and the elite do not, it undermines the legitimacy of the entire structure of existing arrangements, and it makes sense that the demoralization would look different from camp to camp. The growing class would turn that around and respond with verve and creativity and courage-in-the-face-of-doom, while the doomed class would descend into a cycle of lunacy and hysteria with no door out except at the bottom. The growing mismatch between the two would begin to amplify the dominant trends in either. People are attracted to others who are comfortable inside their own skin and who face the world with courage and fundamental joy and confidence. They are not attracted to the opposite of this. I wish there was something I could do to help the groups currently starting to sink, but they are incredibly ideological, and still not aware of their precarious situation, at least not consciously.

  84. JMG, the name which the Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) has, does not prevent it to be one of the strongest parties in Eastern Germany. In some regions there it is the strongest party, and an Eastern German city has narrowly escaped getting a mayor from the AfD. A further observation about the political climate in Germany is that the Greens had a strong position in the elections to the European Parliament; an article in a newspaper argued that they are on the way to chancellorship and should have a more broad political profile, i. e. abandoning being predominantly green.

    Regarding black magic end ensuing violence, this is already happen in some non-Western countries. In Papua New Guinea, due to increased communication possibilities, the knowledge about black magic (sanguma) and suspicions against people allegeldy practicing it, has lead to torturing and/or burning of suspected witches and to settling of old scores. Tribes like the Enga, who didn’t know sanguma originally aren’t prepared for the consequences of its spread and the ensuing problems.

  85. Eric,
    If a movement / culture / etc. draws more than its share of dingbats, perhaps it is time to question the assumption that said movement is composed of “humanity’s graduating class”. Maybe it is just an activity that is attractive to misfits. My experience of the participants in the world of miniature wargaming fits your description, but at least wargamers don’t pretend to be the Elect.

  86. All this is why I’m hoping Polytheistic Monasticism gets some traction. If any form of Paganism is going to survive this flustered cluck, it’s going to need deeply dedicated and profoundly devoted people to serve as tradition-holders, not more self-actualizing flakes who use the gods as window-dressing and think a complete lack of rules is a feature not a bug. Whether my piece makes it into the upcoming anthology or not, I’m looking forward to seeing what you have to say, JMG!

    Honestly, though, this whole cursing-and-demons stuff really blindsided me. When the wokescolds swarmed into Paganism, I’d already seen their work in SF fandom (I got out of the blast zone in time; a couple acquaintances were not so lucky), so I thanked Brigid for Her until-then-mysterious blocking of my participation in the community and settled down to wait until they’d worn themselves out. I never imagined the possibility of them inviting miasma and obsession by playing around with maleficia, especially not with such unholy (so to speak) glee. I’m glad to have any kind of explanation, because I’m still mildly stunned by what’s been happening.

  87. Phil H, au contraire, Britain has a very large occult scene — there are dozens of thriving occult orders there, a big and lively Druid community, and so on. They just don’t make a habit of advertising their existence to nonmembers.

    Bipeninsular, that’s also a good point.

    Jasper, good. Keep in mind that the rhetoric of being oppressed is a very traditional way to claim moral virtue — our culture has this odd but pervasive conviction that the oppressed are morally superior to their oppressors, just by dint of being oppressed — and so whether it’s Pat Robertson or Starhawk claiming to be oppressed by the evil majority, it’s simply a form of virtue signaling. Your point about gay culture is of course spot on — I did some research into this in order to work out the background for a gay character from the 1920s in my novel The Weird of Hali: Dreamlands — and it’s one of the things I have in mind for a future book project, a history of America that talks about everything that American history books don’t talk about…

    Dashui, well, they’re welcome to make contact and we can discuss doing an interview.

    Tripp, you might want to add Learning Ritual Magic to that collection, as it provides the explicit curriculum!

    Maria, one of the problems that every kind of occultism faces is that the image of occultism in popular culture tends to attract the unbalanced, and lead them into further imbalance. Another of the problems is that if you don’t know what you’re doing and won’t accept guidance from those who do, you can land yourself in a world of psychological hurt. Hiding in the woods might not be a bad plan.

    Matt, that’s a very good summary. You’re right that it’s a highly chaotic situation and could go spinning down many different paths. All we can do is hang on, and try to influence those aspects of it within our reach!

  88. It occurs to me that this may be a fine example of the maxim “what you contemplate, you imitate”. After all, the left’s rhetoric is all about the experiences of marginalized groups. Since marginalization is the primary focus of their thoughts, emotions, words, and deeds , no wonder they start to become it, albeit unintentionally. I’m not familiar with the alt-right enough to know if they have a similar push towards becoming mainstream…hmmm

  89. JMG,
    Thanks for answering that unasked question in advance! I was wondering about that.

    But the main point was that, especially given the community I interact with in person, being able to frame what I’m talking about in terms of “angels” and “names of God,” Hebrew language, etc, is more likely to win me a reputation as someone who at least believes in the right god, even if I’m a weirdo. Or a zealot.

    The next most important bit was me learning how to shut up! Which I’m gonna work on…right…now…

    😉

  90. BTW, I haven’t been short on basic practices to work on without LRM. Maybe the appropriate amendment to my first post is to scratch the idea that I’m on any kind of ceremonial study path yet!

    I’m still learning how to breathe…

    Toodle-pip!

  91. JMG,

    I encountered the “spiritual warfare” crowd long before converting to Catholicism; it’s absence in Catholicism was one of the attractions of becoming Catholic. I was in an independent church that had some Pentecostal/charismatic influence, and while none of the members were heavily involved in “spiritual warfare”, some visitors were. I also grew up in rural Appalachia; while the Mennonite community I grew up in was not at all into “spiritual warfare”, some of the neighbors were part of charismatic communities that were.

    Catholicism in my experience has much clearer lines around what you can do based on your role, and most of the things you can do as a layman involve using items blessed by a priest. Major exorcism is specifically limited to priests with significant training and supervision, and the rituals are very prescribed. I really appreciated the absence of the kind of do-it-yourselfer-ism I saw in other settings; anything seriously dangerous should be done (in my opinion) by people who know what they are doing.

  92. JMG—I cannot share your semi-hopeful (?) gist here that, for instance, since the crowds of Leftist/SJW/antiTrump agitators look exaggeratedly bedraggled, bizarre, and in total self-marginalized, they are in fact about to be driven to the margins and fade out or assimilate to the middle. Rather I think this marginality is an essential & deliberate part of their self-conception—they aim to conquer society by subverting all categories of “respectability” and “success”.

    It is the very prospect of appearing respectable (or self-respectful) that they define themselves against and would destroy: by acting and appearing marginalized, even when they are actually quite comfortable professionals, they signal that *they* are the oppressed, and that all who do not look and act like marginal types are thereby oppressor.

    One senses in them a general spite against civilization, and a barely-hidden idolization of primitivism; to me, they resemble, like their far-Right counterparts, tattooed barbarian warband-cultures (which you some time ago warned about).

    What is more, a huge majority of the Millennial generation subscribes to this “self-marginalizing”—I am in that generation and see it almost wherever I go, and must constantly be careful what I say. The extent of this conformist nonconformity is frankly astonishing, and its self-righteousness is wholly unquestioned. And since this self-marginalizing generation is still young and has only just begun to percolate up into the institutions of power, I frankly doubt the situation will do anything like resolving by itself (though possibly something may resolve it *from the outside*).

  93. JMG
    You wrote: “Phil H, au contraire, Britain has a very large occult scene — there are dozens of thriving occult orders there, a big and lively Druid community, and so on.”
    Well … a few of my friends are Druids, and I tend to regard them as generally sane balance amid modernity. I have found my individual SOP courtesy of your own writing, of considerable help. It chimed with my own experience. For first 2 out of last 3 decades I was hanging out a bit with people who were ‘New Age’; several of them friends and two of them contributors to my own healing. There was a fair cross-over with Steiner. Most of these were already elderly and many are now dead, but of course Steiner continues, if a bit sidelined regarding education these days. The younger devotees of the goddess came around the stones at the four quarters. Not sure where that has gone.
    Christian churchgoers here as I understand it are in smallish numbers with occasional reinforcement from American Evangelical outreach, but I am assuming without having checked that they must still outnumber occult-based religion by I guess an order of magnitude.
    There is any number of stripes among the majority who are sceptical of mainstream churches: Twenty years ago David Icke made an inroad and gained some popularity with younger people and there are any number still following Chem Trails and other enthusiasms, but as you say more realistic occult practitioners seem to keep a fairly low profile.
    But, I don’t get out enough, I guess … smile
    best
    Phil H

  94. JMG,

    Thank you. Always interesting.

    The particular group of self-described witches promoting this sort of hexing has been distancing itself from neopaganism and Wicca for years, for what they deride as being “fluffy-bunny.” Some embrace the term Pagan, but most call their practice “traditional witchcraft.” I see their embrace of power as not dissimilar to the Heathen crowds embrace of its own.
    It should also be noted that one of the most prominent and vocal supporters of hexing and who actually called for the killing of the President was, in fact, ousted from The Satanic Temple-not to be confused with The Temple of Set or Luciferianism or The Church of Satan. And in reality, she seems a very decent and caring individual, who believing all else has failed, has decided it is time to fight fire with fire. There is a documentary out by Penny Lane entitled, “Hail Satan?” -question mark included- which readers may find of interest.
    I try to remember that what seems evil to one, seems just to another.
    From my vantage, as a middle-child old-school solitary, eclectic Wiccan of mixed heritage (German, Irish/Cherokee) and Protestant -descent who looks like a straight white male to everyone except straight white males, raised to be a patriot in rural America until the Reagan 80s plowed it into a suburb and and living for the last 20 years in New York City as a classically trained ballet artist (because the Navy wouldn’t take me unless I agreed to go into the Nuclear program), I feel for everyone on all sides of the issues. The “Left” is increasingly stereotyped into a homogenous group here, while the radical politics and Orwellian double-speak of the “Right” often seem glossed over or forgotten as of late. I know more than one working-class Republican who was going to vote for Sanders, but switched to Trump after the DNC-rigged its primary to favor Clinton. Seems to me now, that the salary-classes and up on either side are ok with their preferred establishment (and why wouldn’t they be) but the wage-class sectors on both sides are looking for any anti-establishment populist. The ones I see embracing the abstract idea of socialism do so because the concrete practice of capitalism is failing them, while those on the right are still blaming anyone who isn’t like them. If the wage-classes ever find a candidate that appeals to both of these groups-who have so much in common- it could be a real sight, but just now-when many believe humans are running out of time- the very word moderate has taken on the connotation of a radically-establishment, pro-neoliberal/conservative war-mongering 1%er.
    Meanwhile, I keep on doing my daily-rituals, preparing for the worst, hoping for the best and am thankful to your blog-posts as a great outer-plane check.
    Side-note: The lovely commentariat mention many of your books here, but the one I think may be most useful in the coming election cycle “dialogues” -and a personal favorite- is “The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered.”

    Blessed Be,

    JR

  95. Hmmm. It’s seems that 2016 was the turning point and now the Right are leading the culture wars and the Left are screeching because the don’t understand what is happening when THEY are on the “right side of history”, supposedly.

    Heathens are particularly scorned by the establishment. Swedish politicians are now looking to ban runes because the odd Neo Nazi likes them!

    Why do you think heathens behave better than most pagans? I know from personal experience how dismal the behaviour of mass market neo pagans can be. Black magic is often the done thing but they justify it because in past lives they were persecuted as witches allegedly. Their “victim” status gives them the right to act appallingly.

  96. Phil H. I don’t know what the Church of England looks like thses days, but if I can believe period literature, for a long time what they really worshiped was Respectability. Mrs. Grundy. Don’t get me started on the good old U-S-A where that usually goes double.

    JMG – traveling in men’s businesswear is a lot more comfortable than in women’s businesswear, and you’re less likely to freeze. However, if your destination is the Deep South at Midsummer …. with a midafternoon ETA .. shudders…. trying to think of a skirt (no, NOT a tight skirt. That has other problems)that will fit in one of those itty-bitty seats, especially with two fat people on either side of me. (True story – and one of them was a woman last time. One good thing about flying Southwest – I can generally ward off the huge seatmates and show welcoming to the thinner ones.

    Oh, and speaking of gender-bending clothes, my friend Pam dresses like a lumberjack and never has much trouble that I know of. Perhaps because she looks like she belongs in ‘flyover country’? But then, she’s big. And a stalwart of the Senior Games.

  97. Varun – the priest of my circle is married to a man who has Hindu gods all over the house, and one of our members apparently worships Ganesha. It’s not my path, but it’s theirs. Unless my priest’s husband starts rambling on for an hour and a half!

  98. Matt Hopper, who said ” it feels as if we are walking the boundary of a near chaotic system and tiny almost seemingly random things can shoot things off into wildly different directions… I guess that’s normal everyday life as well… I guess I’ll continue doing my thing, look out for my child, and hope for the best!”

    Matt, that’s the very definition of a Crisis Era. Which we are into up to our very necks. And believe me, I knows one when I sees one. This is twice around for me, though admittedly as a small girl. For the flavor of that one, read the first part of Greer’s “Three Winters.” Pure “1942 in West Haven, CT” except that we would, as a matter of course, go to Church. Where the beautiful old Elizabethan liturgy was still read.

  99. Alex – your friend sounds exactly like my friend Tanley, only (having a male voice) a lpt less shrill. Most notable Tanley-comment to date “If I don’t rant at [my husband] how is he ever going to change?” As one who has been ranted at until I ran away from home at age 50, I gave her chapter and verse on what effect that would have! the thing to do is, if you wear hearing aids, take them off in his presence, you’re not going to change him. Because he Knows He IS Right.

  100. @ozymonde says:
    June 20, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    “JMG—I cannot share your semi-hopeful (?) gist here that, for instance, since the crowds of Leftist/SJW/antiTrump agitators look exaggeratedly bedraggled, bizarre, and in total self-marginalized, they are in fact about to be driven to the margins and fade out or assimilate to the middle. Rather I think this marginality is an essential & deliberate part of their self-conception—they aim to conquer society by subverting all categories of “respectability” and “success”.”

    Ozy, don’t worry overmuch – the great majority of them will sell out in due time. We’ve seen it time and again. Do not underestimate the ability of neoliberal capitalism to co-opt, subvert, and monetize any social/religious movement. It is THE evil genius of modern consumer capitalism to do just this, in my estimation. That’s more worrisome, in my opinion.

  101. This was an interesting post to read… like another reader who commented above, I also came to the Archdruid Report a few years ago via Dreher’s blog on TAC (I actually think he was a much more thoughtful and level-headed writer then than he has been in the last few years: the article you’ve linked to aside, most of what I’ve read from him recently was rather given to histrionics).

    My question is: do we have an accurate sense of how widespread this phenomenon of left wing malevolent magic actually is? I can’t help but notice that every article I’ve seen highlights the usual suspects, and while I certainly don’t approve, I wonder if there’s any strong reason to believe that the bad actions of a few Brooklyn hipster nincompoops is indicative of a trend? While reading the Dreher piece, my mind wandered back to my childhood in the evangelical movement of the 1980’s and 90’s, during the great “satanic panic” when Anton LaVey was co-authoring the Harry Potter books and every kid rolling a D20 made Jesus weep… I understand that Dreher is not a part of that branch of Christianity (I spent a few years attending an Orthodox church myself), but I wonder if the habit of mind isn’t the same, wanting to believe that Old Scratch has a Heck of a lot more followers than he actually does…

    I also find it interesting that Dreher sees Christianity’s future as being exactly the sort of persecuted fringe that you’re describing… are you familiar with his “Benedict Option” work?

  102. Frater N, it’s very common when a movement starts on the fringes and heads inward to acceptability, for some members of the movement to remain in the fringes, pursue the old self-marginalizing habits, and see themselves as the “real deal” as distinct from the “sell-outs.” I’ve watched it happen several times in other groups! Thanks for the heads up about the move toward traditionalist Catholicism — it’s not surprising, as Evola got a certain amount of play in alt-right forums I’ve visited, and he seems to function fairly often as a gateway drug to one or another schismatic sacramental Christian church. That functions, in turn, as another tactic of self-marginalization…

    Alex, dead on target. A very large number of people in the US today literally have no idea how to think. All they can do is repeat sound bites linked with crude emotional states. Your friend seems to be a member of that large and thoroughly bipartisan group.

    Scotlyn, well, and you know what they ended up doing to him!

    Justin, yep. I’ve been publicly predicting the end of the Neopagan movement since 2009; one of the talks in my collection A Magical Education is the talk I gave at Pantheacon that year, making that prediction. I’d hoped that the movement could simply fade away, get fairly small for a while, and then build again in a few decades; it’s not my spiritual path, but I know a lot of people who’ve invested their lives in it — but at this point I think its most likely fate is an ugly implosion caused by (a) the blowback from malevolent magic, and (b) the failure of the “Magic Resistance” to accomplish anything at all. If Trump wins reelection, as I think he’s likely to do, I could see a lot of Neopagans abandoning the movement wholesale on the assumption that since magic didn’t save them from a second Trump term, the whole thing must be nonsense.

    Robert, thanks for this — and of course it’s a relevant point that there are many reasons to head for the margins, not just one. As for people who summon demons, it’s stupid but it’s not insane in the strict sense of the word. If you were to read the literature on the subject, you’d find loudly repeated insistences that demons have been given a bad rap, they’re not all bad, and besides, you can make them serve you without coming under their influence. It doesn’t work that way, but some people are gullible and greedy.

    Eric, none of that surprises me! As for your friend’s suggestion, yeah, that makes a good deal of sense.

    Caryn, hmm! That makes sense.

    Violet, that’s a good point. I haven’t read Days of Rage but some years ago I read Vin McLellan’s The Voices of Guns, a history of the Symbionese Liberation Army, which covered the same crazed era with a narrower focus, Yeah, it seems uncomfortably similar.

    Arkansas, a fair summary.

    Booklover, interesting. I wonder if the word “alternative” has somewhat different connotations in German than in English. As for violence around magic as a worldwide thing, of course; back in the day, many Native American tribes feared witchcraft and would occasionally put people to death for that.

    Sister Crow, no argument there. I admit I was also surprised by the enthusiasm with which people jumped from “Witches Heal” to malevolent magic.

    JMA, that makes sense. Of course part of the feedback loop is driven by the way the extreme left obsesses over the extreme right and vice versa — and what you contemplate, you imitate…

    Tripp, oh, granted. And Christian occultism has a long and distinguished lineage in the South, among other places.

    SamChevre, fair enough. My late father-in-law was involved for a while with Catholic charismatic movements which didn’t pay that much attention to the clergy/laity barrier, which is why I asked.

    Ozymonde, it reminds me very much of the short-lived hippie movement among Boomers, which had the same stance, and which popped like a bubble as soon as enough of its members got old enough to grow tired of adolescent acting-out. We’ll see whether this version of the same thing has a different fate.

    Phil, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if relatively mainstream Christians outnumber occultists in Britain by about one order of magnitude. If I recall correctly, about 5% of Britain’s population attends church weekly, though something like half the population claims to be Christian; if 0.5% of the population consists of practicing occultists of varying stripes, that would be around 300,000 occultists, which seems about right.

    Jera, well, I’ve tried to differentiate between various subsets of left and right — thus my references to “radical left” and “populist right” in this post, for example. Glad to hear you like The Wealth of Nature!

    Marianne, I don’t have any particular sense why it is that Heathens tend to keep their word and treat people decently to a greater extent than pop Neopagans; I’ve just noticed the fact repeatedly.

  103. Patricia, well, I’m not likely to try traveling in women’s businesswear any time soon! 😉

    Ryan, it’s very hard to figure out exactly how large anything in the Neopagan scene is. You’re right that the usual suspects are cited, but the fact that several large occult publishers have brought out books on political hexing suggests to me that there’s a fairly substantial market out there. Yes, I’m familiar with Dreher’s Benedict Option work, and it’s one of the more interesting things I’ve seen from trad Christianity in a good long while — not to mention probably very workable.

  104. “If a Protestant denomination were to ditch politics entirely and focus on helping people connect with God…”

    In my nearly 46 years,I have known only one Christian (now an elderly man) who seems to have a connection with God, and he lives a simple life of quiet, voluntary poverty. Of course since he’s a quiet guy, he doesn’t run any sort of group or church. I’ve met thousands upon thousands of Christians; the lot of them would run screaming from being like/connecting with Jesus in the way my friend has done. Needless to say, it doesn’t bode well for Christianity in general, and that’s too bad, because Jesus’s teachings have much to offer in this day and age.

  105. @JMG The series of his I was referring to is ‘The Dresden Files’ and the first book in the series is ‘Storm Front’ by Jim Butcher.

  106. Regarding Shinto and Hinduism, the nationalistic right wing of Shinto rejects anything to do with anyone outside Japan aside from going out to perform ceremonies for deceased Japanese in former colonies, but the left wing reaches out readily and connects easily with Hinduism. I ask if I can recite a Shinto purification prayer at a temple, and they facilitate it. Our other foreign priestess, Caitlin Stronell, spent several years studying in India. Some among the Hindu look askance that our priests are not totally vegetarian, but Japan has harsh winters.

  107. I always notice JMG that you refer to your practice as a spiritual practice and a religion. This implies awareness of the numinous, the immanently transcendent GOD , in your own way of seeing that being. This is why you are a nice guy whom i respect and admire.

    This is the difference between psychism and spirituality , the difference between someone who simply worships an earthbound pagan deity or an incontinence that practices magic in order to satiate perceived desires, courting favour with the cthonic Dragon Powers . Are our leftist friends even leftist ? .

    In a quantum age where we are moving into communication with the fourth dimension of time, these people are focussed on identity, which is still about space. A materialist space cult, soon they will no doubt meet aliens and colonise Mars, hah !
    This is a reactionary movement that is turning to dark magic to maintain the Pyramidal status quo while studiously avoiding the emerging Mandala.

    Example, Game of Thrones where the choice boiled down to a Dragon desire driven Utopia where ‘the wheel is broken’, or a return to pagan feudal cyclical wheel time. As you say, the midpoint between two bad choices is often another bad choice. It should be remembered both sides of American politics are dedicated to the same dark forces.

    Best

    Aegon

  108. Interesting times indeed… I’ve been thinking about political movements which might rise under these conditions. Localism could grow on both sides, supplanting both corporate-friendly libertarianism & federal lobbyist politics. There’s also much fertile ground for right-wing, religious & down-to-earth grassroots environmentalism to sprout & replace the current screaming antics that supposedly pass for climate action.

    And after reading this, I’m thinking Christianity could do well to put itself in straight opposition to the coming demonic trends & use it as a launch pad to boost its energy.

    But beyond some very promising possibilities, I’m also curious about which options to avoid like the plague. Demonolatry is an obvious one, but some may be less so. I’ve picked up some integralist & ultranationalist vibes recently. Are these headed for obviously toxic directions or could they be directed towards amicable purposes as well?

  109. ozymonde,

    The spoiled, rotten, horse-thief bourgeoisie aren’t owed mimesis. They have to earn it, just like everyone else.

  110. My friends and I have a joke about calling people “demonists” – and I was certainly reminded of that in this article!

    Back in the ’90s and early aughts I bought into the idea that witch was a word that could be reclaimed like queer, but then I realized that it was just too loaded and besides, I don’t like the idea of scaring anyone.

    I was also reminded of the time the bartender in Vegas chastised me for saying I had found LeVey’s path to be a little too manipulative for my taste. At least he didn’t call me a demonist.

  111. Methylethyl said:
    “I have encountered the black/white, good/evil thinking you describe in some Christians, and in some Christian communities. But I think If you read Dreher, you would find his views more nuanced than that.”

    I might have to read more Dreher then. It’s the fundamentalist wing of Christianity that is most likely to be so rigidly dualistic.

    Joy Marie

  112. JMG said:
    “…that the radical left in America is also preparing itself for a future as a stigmatized fringe group.”

    Sometimes I think we have entered a time warp and are experiencing a repeat of the late 60’s/early70’s. I was too young to remember or understand all the details of that time, other than picking up on the general vibes of unrest rolling off my conservative parents. By the time I was in middle and high school, the war was over, and the protests had pretty much fallen apart. I’m sure there were some (there always are) but they weren’t front and center, at least not in my Midwestern life. Mostly the radical left was shoved aside to the fringes, and some of the hippies cut their hair, put on suits and joined the money-crazy 80’s. Others probably didn’t know what to do, as the end of the war took away their main protest point. Some continued with protest politics, but the general public wasn’t biting.

    “Look at the behavior of the far left over the last decade or so with the sociology of deviance in mind, and the signs are clear. Time and again during that period, and increasingly since 2016, the radical left has embraced ideas and behaviors that alienate potential supporters from outside its own circles.”

    I had noticed around 2016 some of the older people in the liberal church I used to attend really perked up. Actually it started a few years before, with the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. I think some of them had been part of that far left contingent during the sixties, and felt that once again, they could demonstrate and force change on society. They keep forgetting that you should be the change you want to see. Most live an upper middle class salaried lifestyle (oh, but hybrids! And recycling!), and this progressive liberal church that supports BLM and demonstrations for equality and social justice was nearly totally white, with only a few people of color attending occasionally and just a sprinkling of working class folk of any hue.

    And as for alienating potential supporters; not long before I stopped attending this church, the minister (who was white) practically yelled at a member (also white) who was sharing a story with the congregation and happened to use a negative racial descriptor. The member wasn’t calling them this term herself, but was repeating a comment that was said to her. Granted, if she had used more tact in sharing the story, most of us would have understood what was meant without the descriptor being verbalized. However, I think there could have been a better way for the minister to react, but as a progressive he probably felt the need to castigate his fellow white group member and protect the few people of color attending (which sounds quite paternalistic to me). In fact, there was a young black gentleman sitting in front of me. He appeared to be following the member’s story with great interest. When the minister began berating the member, the black fellow softly whispered “Oh noooo….” I have no idea if he kept attending, as I was definitely alienated enough to soon stop showing up. I also have no idea if that member sharing the story kept attending, but the congregation had always seemed to stay at a stable membership rate.

    Joy Marie

  113. Kimberly, I’ve had the good fortune to know several genuine Christians, who combined daily prayer and Bible study with devout faith and a wholehearted attempt to live according to the commandments of Christ. (One of them was the old lady who taught me her system for reading the Bible; she was, spiritually speaking, one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met.) I’m sure there are more of them out there, but for every one of them I’ve encountered, I’ve had run-ins with a hundred who believe that God died on the Cross so that they could tell everyone else, at the top of their lungs, how wrongety-wrong they are.

    Warren, got it. As time permits, I’ll see if the library system here in Rhode Island can find me a copy.

    Patricia, thanks for this. Not surprising…

    Aegon, in trad occultism there’s a useful division between theurgy, literally “divine work,” and thaumaturgy, literally “working wonders.” You can practice theurgy without thaumaturgy — that’s what mystics do — but if you practice thaumaturgy without theurgy you tend to land in a world of hurt. That’s why Golden Dawn initiates take oaths — the kind you can’t break without serious inner penalties — binding themselves always to invoke the divine in every magical operation.

    Eric, yeah, I’ve heard that one too. Funny how they always seem to find time to hex, and so rarely get around to doing any healing…

    SpiceisNice, the problem with Christianity getting into the demon-fighting business is that historically, when they do that, it usually morphs in short order into fighting people who are identified as being on the side of the demons, and people start getting burnt at the stake. Some other religions can do the demon-fighting thing without proceeding as quickly to mass murder as local laws permit, but that’s one of Christianity’s besetting sins. As for other toxic options, that’s a question I’m going to have to brood over.

    Your Kittenship, thank you!

    Aron, Howard Stanton Levey was one of the great put-on artists of our time, right there alongside Andy Warhol and John Cage though in a different field of artistic endeavor, but you’re right, his performance did get a little manipulative at times.

    Joy Marie, I think you’re quite right. A certain amount of what’s been going on of late consists of boomers reliving the radical days of their youth; it’s just another cultural remake, like all those movie versions of classic boomer comic books…

  114. Travelling through the Badlands last summer, I was curious about the local radio stations and stumbled across a Christian radio-play where the actor proclaimed, “and that is when I realized that meditation is a sin, and Jesus was disappointed in me for practicing yoga.”
    In my own Church- Southern Baptist- filled with good-hearted, hard-working, no-nonsense blue-collar Americans, we learned that the Pope was potentially the anti-Christ (based on the Latin root of “vicar” meaning both “in the place of” or “anti-“) and that Mother Theresa must be in league with the Devil because she often comforted the dying rather than trying to convert them.
    We were also told that we should be in constant prayer, which I tried very hard to keep up. In fact, walking through a bookstore with my eyes closed and my fingers lightly passing over the volumes, I asked Christ to lead me to what I needed to read and my hands fell upon a tiny little book, which I was certain had vast implications for my future as I was just graduating high school. The book had an unassuming cover of a smiling blond woman going about her business. The title? The Truth About Witchcraft Today by Scott Cunningham.

  115. On why some occultists go a bit cuckoo: I have a theory that the conventional wisdom in any society has to be sound enough to work most of the time. If it wasn’t, either it would stop being the conventional wisdom or the society would fall apart. Therefore going outside the conventional wisdom has its own risks.

    Being part of the occult in a Western society means straying from the conventional wisdom of reductive materialism. While this viewpoint has rules like ‘the divine doesn’t really exist’, it also contains common-sense rules which have helped its survival so far, like ‘don’t summon demons’ and ‘it’s not okay to hex your political opponents’. Discarding the rule book means discarding the failsafes, and without those failsafes a certain number of people go a little nuts.

    It’s like bushwalking: if you leave the pre-marked trails, you can go further and see more things than the ones who stay behind, but you can also wander off and starve to death.

  116. Andrew, au contraire, I see the embrace of socialism as another symptom of the flight to the fringes. Identifying yourself with a political movement that killed an order of magnitude more people than the Nazis ever did is a gift-wrapped Christmas present to your opponents, and it’s one that said opponents are already using to extremely good effect.

    I would note that the USA is unusual in considering Socialism a naughty word, and in its propensity to equate Socialism with the horrors of Marxism-Leninism.

  117. The images of two opposing groups (smiling hotties vs. fanatical leftist crackpots) says it all. I am pleasantly surprised that you used what I would call “iconology” of newspaper web photography. You just joined the ranks of Ernst Cassirer, Aby Warburg, Erwin Panofsky, Edgar Wind and Ernst Gombrich!

  118. Whenever I hear ‘soi-disant’ or ‘self-described’ used as an insult it sounds strange to me. Yeah, if someone is a self-described doctor and the medical council disagrees, that may be a problem. But in other cases, like whenever someone is called a ‘self-proclaimed Marxist’, I think – compared to what? It’s not like you can do a four-year masters degree with two thousand contact hours, then register with the British Council of Revolutionists. 🙂

    How are the left actually conceiving of demons? If it was the version where they are the good guys, rebels against divine tyranny, that could make a certain amount of sense. But from what I’ve read, it seems like they mean the traditional conception of for-real demons.

    Invoking demons may be the worst in a long line of poor choices of allies for the left. At least the Chinese revolutionaries’ alliance with Chiang Kai Shek’s Nationalists just led to the 1927 Shanghai Massacre, ended the possibility of socialist change in China, and cleared the way for the abominations of Maoism. Anyone want to guess how much worse joining forces with demons will go?

    If I remember rightly you said astrology recently turned significantly against socialism. When did that happen? The British Socialist Workers Party and the American International Socialist Organisation both got clobbered in quick succession by remarkably similar sexual abuse cases.

  119. “Time and again during that period, and increasingly since 2016, the radical left has embraced ideas and behaviors that alienate potential supporters from outside its own circles.”

    And almost on cue is the kerfuffle surrounding Joe Biden, momentarily the front runner in the democratic pack of hopefuls, who mentioned having worked productively with senators James Eastland and Herman Talmadge in the past, two men who were avowed segregationists. The point old Joe tried to make is that he is capable of working with people with whom he has deep, fundamental disagreements, but to hear the Left respond, well, you’d have thought Biden boasted he’d sold his soul to Satan himself at a crossroad at midnight. In an article about the incident, Kevin D. Williamson describes our current politics as less about ideas and more about cooties, an astute observation.

    As for Christians, yes. I knew a man, a research scientist with a doctorate and devout Catholic, who spent hours a day in prayer and meditation. He sometimes mentioned that God spoke to him and of that I have no doubt at all. Shortly before this man’s death, a newly-installed parish priest visited him and said at the funeral that he knew immediately that he was in the presence of a genuinely holy man.

  120. Considering that Neopaganism is sounding it’s death tolls, just as Christianity has been, at least in the forms familiar from its history, I’m curious about the growth of contemporary polytheism. I also thought it was interesting that commenter @Ryan M mentioned Dreher’s book the Benedict option, and a recent post on @JMG’s dreamwidth (https://ecosophia.dreamwidth.org/56688.html ) page was for a call out to writers on polytheistic monasticism (not edited by JMG).

    On that post JMG wrote, ” Perhaps the most serious of the many weaknesses of the Neopagan movement is the extent to which it focuses on a purely social, outer-directed model of spirituality; the turn toward a more inner-directed spirituality on the part of contemporary polytheists, I think, is a much needed balancing factor.”

    The same could be said of contemporary Christians.

    My own spiritual path is basically “Western Mystery Tradition”. I was raised Christian, and though I rejected a lot of it as a typical teenager when I got into Thelema (for better or worse) I later came back to it in a way. At the same time I guess I’m like Dion Fortune (though I don’t go to church). I’m comfortable with esoteric Christianity & with a side helping of Gnosticism, and also feel an affinity for various deities from other pantheons. In my life they all seem to get along just fine.

    At the same time there are various “overlays” and patterns within each religion. & when I delve into some aspects of Christian mysticism or magic some of the overlays and patterns aren’t always so helpful: biological guilt being high among them. One of the least helpful things about Christianity seems to be this distrust of the body.

    I too have been following here and there the rise of Scandinavian derived heathenry among the hillbilly set. Speaking of hillbillies I saw an interesting book at work recently that I took home to read as part of my “down home punk” agenda. It’s called “Backwoods Witchcraft: Conjure & Folk Magic from Appalachia” by Jake Richards. Some of the “spells” in there are Southern Baptist in origin. It reminds me a bit of Traditional Witchcraft & cunning folk where working various land spirits and other deities, even the devil, sat comfortably alongside going to church on Sunday and using the psalms & other biblical stuff for various purposes.

    With all of the different threads of religion & magic & spirituality in America it will be curious to see what new forms they take as they continue to ebb & flow & change shape & transform.

    I do hope to see some new forms of monasticism take root here. It seems to me one viable option would be for those involved in masonic / Thelemic / gnostic / Martinist / Western Mystery circles to build on what they’ve established in terms of orders etc. (From what I’ve read too recently it seems like alongside Neopaganism imploding so is the caliphate O.T.O.)

  121. @Patricia I occasionally do the mental equivalent of taking out my hearing aids and waiting till the storm has passed. As I tell people about arguing on Facebook: If someone is blowing off steam, you need to step back or it will burn you.

    As to the subject of cross dressing, for whatever reason, men wearing women’s seems to get people way more upset than the reverse. Even when it was illegal in parts of the US the laws and enforcement were always focused on men.

  122. @Eric Singletary,

    Thanks for digging up the link to this. I found that Patheos article to be a considered piece of writing and not any kind of emotional diatribe, thankfully.
    For my part, I mostly agree with the way she has framed the argument, eg, just calling it what it is, you wouldn’t trust a wild edibles “expert” that knew Queen Ann’s Lace but didn’t know about Water Hemlock. She sort of dodges the extreme ends of the practice and frames it in her own context.
    For my part, the Wiccan Rede and 3-Fold Law always seemed like pretty sound rules of thumb, but were definitely done as a way of presenting witchcraft to Christianity in a way that said hey, look we are just like you and your Golden Rule, we just include a Goddess. But everyone here knows there are outer teachings and inner teachings. As a practicing Wiccan for over 30 years, my take on the Rede (An’ it harm none, do what ye will) is firstly, Ok, that is obviously an attempt by Gardner or whoever to make the Law of Thelema (Do What You Will Shall Be The Whole of The Law) more digestible to mainstream society by sounding less threatening. The problem, however, is that you can never ever know the full consequences of your actions but you can be rest assured that whatever you do is going to harm something somewhere. It is the very nature of the struggle for survival. Thankfully, it is called a “Rede” as in rule of thumb, basic guideline, and not “Law,” as in the Christian Commandment, “Thou Shall Not Kill.” Yeah, good luck with that. A simple stroll across the lawn can be an armageddon for all kinds of crawlies, and it scales up from there. Organic veggies come from a plowed field, where all kinds of critters are displaced and killed, same goes for the places our houses are built and the wood & materials used in them, factories, our offices, the many millions of lives lost to create a country, the millions of lives lost to obtain the resources for that local Organic Farmer to get to market in that fueled truck, etc. etc.
    The 3-Fold Law always seemed like an intentional overstatement, which flies in the face of the Law of Conservation of Energy. Instead of literally thinking 3x whatever is coming back to you, simply consider whether or not you would take an action if that were the consequence.
    Now, in my practice-which I don’t even call Wicca except to outsiders as it is a fair enough descripter for understanding, again outer teaching- I consider indirect deaths to be part of my own karma as we are all inextricably linked as one in the web of life. It is also just as important to remember that there is no hierarchy of life, ie, cute, furry animals with big eyes do not count more than crusty crawling things or bacteria. Each is just as important to the overall system. That needs to be reiterated, I feel. Every bit of life is sacred, but it is also replaceable. The system handles predation as a feature and designs herds and schools differently than keystone species for a reason. The fluffy-bunny attitudes towards nature obviously sprung up in air-conditioned comfort because to paraphrase a very accomplished primitive survivalist I know, Nature doesn’t give a cluck.
    In fact, the darkest demon I ever had to face was Mama Gaia herself forcing me to look deep into my own soul at the consequences of my life-style choices and kicking me out of her forest that particular evening. She was showing me her malevolent side that night and forcing me to own up, but ambivalence can be far scarier than malevolence. Malevolent forces can be appealed to, after all. I think it was mentioned here that seeing forces as malevolent is a way of keeping ourselves in the picture as something of relative importance.

    All that being said, I think your first take on these “hexings” was the most accurate: amateurish, improper form, ineffectual at best, self-harming at worst. The cauldron of the waking world is bubbling over. The children shall pay for the sins of our fathers.

    And, Dear Archdruid, regarding your theory about whites feeling a sense of place once they have suffered through similar atrocities that have been inflicted on the indiginous and imported peoples. I feel that can be seen in the way Southerners seem to hold more ownership and sense of place after losing the “Civil” war.

  123. I wonder what will happen to those Keku-and-Odin worshipers on the rightward end of the spectrum who refuse to don a pair of khakis and fall in line. A declining empire will reliably have a superfluity of angry young people with nothing to gain from playing by the rules, and while a good section of those lost interest in Trump when he embraced the Washington Consensus, I don’t think many of them could stand to be around the neopagan scene Dreher refers to either. It looks to me as though there’s a fairly deliberate attempt to bring members of the ‘alt’ right into the mainstream, while also filtering a particular kind out. I suppose we’ll see soon enough what will become of those.

    To those members who’ve wondered aloud why someone might embrace outsider status, I have a possibly illuminating example: My own attempts at walking the line focus on being firmly inside the church of Progress, but also being vocally pro-reform. Now, how do you imagine that statement would go over in a community like this one? I expect many members of this community view the state religion as so corrupt they would counsel me against trying to be an insider, even if they agreed with my aims in doing so. I think when a majority consensus weakens, a lot of people who never much cared for it get optimistic about how weak it is, and begin spoiling for a fight. That described the Alt-right in 2016, and I think it describes the ctrl-left today.

  124. Regarding the “Hotties for Trump,” it brings to mind a scene in some sit-com where a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, shiny, happy all-American beauty contestant beams out at the crowd & trumpets like a cheerleader. “I think it should be called OUR-merica and not Their-merica,” finishing with a signature Palen-esque wink as the crowd roars.

    Apart from that, regarding protections in a hostile environment: Some background…speaking as a student and practitioner of esoteric studies, who does daily banishing rituals (from organized LBRP to ritualized cleaning which run from light and airy dustings to deep intense scrubbings –a kind of exfoliation of personal self & homebase which I refer to as a “Reiving (which again can be major and minor;) combined also with a daily reinforcement of a protection sphere that I walk in throughout the day- and sleep in at night- which itself is made of receptors that can interact with, filter, modulate or block the surrounding human population whatever way works most expediently in the moment. Part of the key is seeing the aura/vibrational waves/magnetic field or however you can perceive it of everyone- and it is right there for you to see & you are perceiving it whether you know it or not, as I’m sure Our Dear Archdruid and many here can attest with certitude. Holding this consciousness in perfect tune always is the goal: large gatherings, moving through crowds, passing strangers on a lonely street, small getherings, more intimate encounters (like in a Tarot reading, massage or Reiki or other healing, or…; or simply being “alone”-ha! in the wilderness. Having my field gently and invisibly set the boundaries between my space and all else before their/its physical space reaches me. I believe this akin to what, you, Brother John Michael, have called “being in communication with the world around you.” It brings me generally to a savory-gratitude and a calm zest for life (and death.) It can be and is sometimes necessary to set a hard bumper, if you will, but an aemobic-liquid partnership-quality, like caressing and yielding, running like water around a mooring or a being moored like a mighty oak that yields to the wind, at times gently goading, slightly nudging or clearly indicating intent of direction–>essentially being tuned-in to how we negotiate space naturally, like the way a colony of ants get on with it: sometimes clumsy, often with uncanny elegance, is the method I use to negotiate safely. It can feel like hiding behind a shield being pelted with elbows and rocks, but it can also be a graceful and powerful dance. I have found dressing as conservatively as possible to be some little help when in the conservative neighborhoods where my skin is the same as the general population, certainly not full-proof, and that same style can feel quite uncomfortable to say the least taken to any other place. Mostly, I find just being myself-as not normal perhaps a little scary- garners a bit more openness where I might otherwise be taken for some interloping gentrifying-agent as opposed to potentially a hard-scrabble person who will be displaced along with the home-crowd as the high-rises and rent prices go up. The single, most helpful way to feel safe and protected, however, in my experience and humble opinion, as someone who has generally been seen as a “white minority” in the communities in which I have been able to afford to live-as a wage-class working professional free-lance ballet artist, is one, to break through your own fears and get to know and love your neighbors even if you think they are nuts and be as good a neighbor as you can be. Give people their space, be who you are and let them be who they are but talk with them, know their stories, laugh with them until you cry, cry with them until you laugh, watch out for them and care for the space you share, find and nurture the common ground between you. Pour your attention, time, blood and sweat into your locale, its people, plants, animals, rocks, air, water, and its “fire.” That makes you feel a sense of rootedness, shared hardship, connection, respect, love and belonging. Nothing feels safer than belonging.
    That, in turn, reinforces and buffers your own protections to a very high degree. The people who used to be strangers now help shield you. Soon all those others who otherwise might prey on you, instinctively become aware of your connection and belonging to a place as much as or more than they and re-think their day, perhaps their life…they even sometimes become your acquaintance and even upon occasion a friend or respectful nemesis. Or is that just another word for neighbor?

    Speaking of words, what is a word that means “calm-zest?”

    JR

  125. Justin Patrick Moore, in a declining civilization at the time where the Second Religiosity is drawing nearer, the mixture of aspects of different religions is nothing unusual, as well as old religions sometimes undergoing marked changes. I don’t know if that is mentioned in Oswald Spenglers “Decline of the West” or Arnold Toynbees “A Study of History”.

  126. Justin Patrick Moore says:
    June 21, 2019 at 10:34 am
    For what it’s worth I prefer Barn Hexes!

    Yes!!! They always illicit a calming breath from me.

  127. One item of some relevance. Many, if not most, of the those invoking the “Devil” in today’s world believe that he was the maligned spirit punished for daring to help humanity find enlightenment as his epoymous job-title indicates, and the true malevolent force is the arrogant, tyrannical God-Father demanding adhereance, ignorance, submission and worship through threat of eternal suffering while afflicting humanity with impossible demands, dis-ease, violence, warfare, plague, drought, dis-aster.
    And when you get right down to it, they have a good point there.

  128. @Christopher Henningsen,

    If you identify yourself as a member of the Church of Progress, I have the utmost respect for you, because that means you are one of the few people who recognize progress as a belief system with values worth embracing, rather than just assumimg progress is the inevitable state of the universe.

    That puts you in an excellent position to consciously work toward improving the world around you. That makes you my favorite kind of person, and I’m glad to know the religion of progress has people like you (just like every other religion that’s worth a darn).

    @Everyone,

    It’s unfair to assume that Neopagans in general would reject Hindu allies. Also it’s unfair to assume Heathens are generally more honorable than Neopagans. It is unfortunate that Neopaganism is suffering from too much popularity and an abundance of political zealots, but that does not characterize the entire religion. The most respected members of Chicago Pagan Pride work diligently to cultivate relationships with religious leaders of all stripes, including the monotheistic ones. And just as an aside, in my social circle, the Heathens tend to promote dishonorable activities like adultery in their pursuit of sexual freedom. I do not think these particular Heathens are representative of Heathens at large and would never paint with such a broad brush. I think it’s unfair to do the same with Neopaganism, even if their delusional minority is quite vocal. it’s helpful to remember San Francisco is not representative of the rest of the country in politics OR religion.

    Sincerely,
    Jessi Thompson
    anotheramethyst

  129. JMG –

    I know much of the Populist/alt-right mvts were, pre-Trump, on the fringes while donning the usual fringe-wear, but wasn’t the Tea Party really the first vestige of the full-blown Populism to come? They were certainly all-Americanish, wholesome lot. Not only did they thoroughly clean up their rally own grounds, they once cleaned up a wilderness of trash left behind by one of the Occupy rallies that was held near a Tea Party get-together.

    Their one big “mistake” was opposing, in whatever manner, the policies of Saint Barack, and that made them in the eyes of the MSM the equivalent of the Klan. A lotta GOPers joined in the apoplectic condemnation. The Tea Party disappeared. But not really – they came back in the form of the current Populist Mvt. that got Mr Trump elected. They’re now a little louder, definitely angrier, but no less sun-shiny.

  130. @ JMG: “Patricia, well, I’m not likely to try traveling in women’s businesswear any time soon! 😉” Hah, hah. And again hah. My reaction to that proves that not everyone who grouses about male privilege is a radical leftie SJW, but just one of Gaia’s Frozen People. Read the latest (which Low Tech Magazine was onto *years* ago) about offices in which women freeze and man are fine, which affects women’s productivity badly. Oh, well.

    I have do a suit which looks respectable and in which a woman need not freeze , but it’s packed in the wardrobe box to be driven down to Gainesville in a U-Haul, being Winter Clothing down there. And since my daughter booked me into cattle-car class, would be sadly out of place.

    We now return you to your regular programming…..

  131. First off, a happy solstice to all!

    Jera, funny! I’ve gotten the impression, after hearing from a lot of people who’ve had experiences like yours, that Christ is considerably more tolerant than some of his followers like to think…

    Kfish, that makes a good deal of sense.

    Strda221, socialism as such — as distinct from social democracy, which is a very different thing even though a lot of Americans confuse them — has earned its bad rap. Socialists always trot out lots of shining rhetoric about equality and the brotherhood of humanity, and then end up imposing a gray bureaucratic tyranny full of secret police, prison camps, and mass graves. That’s not an accident — the basic concepts of socialism are fatally flawed in ways that make those specific results inevitable.

    Ivan, thank you. I’ve read a fair number of books by each of the scholars you’ve named, for what it’s worth!

    Yorkshire, ah, but when I say (for example) “the soi-disant Magical Resistance” what I mean to imply is that they’re play-acting at being members of the French Resistance or what have you, and not actually resisting anything in any way that matters. As for their attitudes toward demons, I think most of them have some variant of the chaos magic model in mind and don’t believe in the reality and independent wills of the things they’re summoning.

    Beekeeper, two fine examples. Thank you.

    Justin, the first steps toward a new monasticism are being taken right now in the time-honored way, as individuals evolve their own quasimonastic rules and lifestyles and live according to them. It’s from individual hermits finding their own way to relate to spirit in solitude that monastic movements historically have their beginnings; attempts to short-circuit the process by building monastic orders from the ground up have failed repeatedly in recent years because so few people are ready to embrace the poverty that successful monastic systems require. That’s one of the reasons I helped found a quasimonastic branch of AODA back when I was its Grand Archdruid, and why I’m eager to help further the same process in other contexts.

  132. @JMG,

    In an article today about the situation with Iran, the Saker gave you a nice plug:

    “Hannity’s flagwaving logorrhea is exactly the kind of total nonsense which will sooner or later result in a major military disaster followed by a collapse of the Empire itself (for a detailed outline of how this is likely to happen, please read John Michael Greer’s superb book “Twilight’s Last Gleaming“). ”

    Article here:

    http://thesaker.is/trump-claims-he-canceled-an-airstrike-against-iran-at-the-very-last-minute/

  133. JMG et. al. – I had an odd thought pop into my head: many of the peace/race/social/… movements of the late 50’s -> 70’s were targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations, where infiltrators (mis)lead groups into violence, etc. to discredit these movements.

    Any evidence/thoughts that some of this is happening again?

  134. This has bugged me for quite a while, and I’d love to hear if someone has any ideas: I know far too many people in the “Magic Resistance”, and more than one has defended their choice to invoke demons: they don’t believe in demons, so it’s fine. Okay, but dear gods, why the ever-living frack deal with demons if you don’t think they exist? If you’re right, it does nothing. If you’re wrong, well you’ve just placed a very large pile of shale right on a fan at high power.

    What on Earth is going on there?

  135. Jera Raido –

    >>Speaking of words, what is a word that means “calm-zest?”<<

    For me, that would be “enthusiasm”.

  136. Dear Scotlyn, I don’t know about fireproof clothing, but you might want to have a look at the products of the likes of Messires Remington, Winchester and Colt. There does seem to be a pretty close correlation between women gaining civil rights, like voting, and the spread of small arms. If I were raising girls today, I wouldn’t waste money or time on ballet or piano lessons, unless the girl had a major talent; I would be making sure they learned a martial art and how to use firearms along with practical skills like cooking, gardening, sewing, small engine repair and the like.

    Mr. Greer, you can color me pretty durn unimpressed with Barbies for Trump, with their quarter pound of cosmetics apiece and their Daisy Dukes–if it were a lefty protestor wearing the DDs, Conservatives would be howling about respect for the flag. I think those gals are about as wholesome as a chemical laced Big Mac.

  137. Happy solstice to all!

    Archruid, Nick and Patricia,

    These are alliance I would love to see happen. Perhaps the next iteration of Vedic culture is seeking to understand of how Dharma and Karma have been adopted and interpreted by cultures outside of India. The study of Atma, Dharma, and Karma outside of the Vedas…hmm

    Regards,

    Varun

  138. @JMG: Honestly, to a skeptic like me, this whole thing seems like a war of the rubes. While far-left witches and far-right chaos magicians are trying to hex each other with Pepe the Frog memes, actual activists and pundits and provocateurs and politicians are out there affecting real change in the world. I don’t care if they’re using “demons” or “dark magic” because those things don’t actually exist; I care that they’re wasting their time and effort trying to affect politics in a completely ineffective way. (Or rather, I would care if I was on board with their beliefs and goals. Since I’m not, I’m more than happy to let the far-right and far-left consign themselves to irrelevance with silly nonsense like this.) And if I did believe in demonolatry, I’d say the Christian fundamentalists were just as guilty of it. The god of the Old Testament is quite a demonic tyrant in his own right, and the god of the so-called Prosperity Gospel seems far more like an evil genie than a loving creator!

    Also, from my limited knowledge about the religion, it seems like Wiccan was just another scam religion like Mormonism. It’s pretty much the same story, some charismatic salesman type just happens to “find” a bunch of ancient writings detailing all the beliefs and practices and laws of a “forgotten” religious tradition, and promptly uses this knowledge to amass material wealth and social influence.

  139. Since it came up, I have to say that the slogan, “A Witch That Can’t Hex, Can’t Heal,” is utterly absurd and has impressively bad logic. You might as well say “you can’t be an herbalist if you don’t slash your enemies’ tires now and again.”

    One could make a slogan like “Real Witches Hurt People,” and fine, that at least would define a certain contested identity in a certain way. But no one says to an aspiring nurse, “You’ve got a great bedside manner, and the patients love you but you can’t get a full license until you’ve figured out how to dox at least three twitter celebrities.”

    Hurting and healing really, in terms of pragmatics of practice, have nothing in common with each other. Any healthy adult with a crowbar can bust a kneecap, but it takes an extremely skilled healer to repair that very same kneecap after it has been smashed.

  140. Interesting timing of this week’s post. I saw a clip of the opening prayer from Trump’s 2020 campaign launch, and it looks like his team is already prepared:

    “The president’s spiritual adviser, Paula White, said in the rally’s opening prayer (see below): “Let every demonic network that has aligned itself against the purpose, against the calling of President Trump, let it be broken, let it be torn down in the name of Jesus. I declare that President Trump will overcome every strategy from hell and every strategy from the enemy.””

    https://www.worldtribune.com/trump-triumphant-at-massive-campaign-launch-prayer-declares-victory-over-every-strategy-from-hell/

    If the “resistance” wants to accomplish something with demonolatry, they’ve got their work cut out for them.

    Off topic this week, but I thought it worth passing along. A friend of mine works in oilfield services at a pretty small firm. He said things are getting dire, as Wall St. has cut the industry off from the flow of easy money. As a result, contractors like his company are getting paid 6 or 9 months behind schedule for services rendered, and then it’s sometimes partial payments. He’s only been in the game 15 years or so, but he said it’s the worst he’s seen.

    He attributed the problem to banks “wrongly” applying a cash-flow model to the oil business, and with prices fluctuating so much the numbers don’t pencil out. It sounds as though if oil prices go up, they can get access to loans again and keep producing. If not, some of the shale fields may start to dry up.

  141. @Andrew001: Ironically, I take the inverse view: As someone who’s very socially liberal but more right-leaning on economic issues, I find the “identity politics” crowd a lot more tolerable than the socialists. At worst, the SJW types go too far in the name of a good cause; I disagree with some of their more extreme methods, but not really with their overall goals or worldview. I get frustrated when they fail to recognize the importance of free speech and free association, but when you have social conservatives trying to pass laws mandating that all public bathrooms (including those in private establishments) have attendants to make sure that everyone uses the bathroom associated with their assigned birth gender, the SJWs definitely come across as the lesser of two evils, and by a long shot. (Source: https://www.al.com/news/2017/01/alabama_bathroom_bill_targets.html) I’d prefer bathroom usage be left up to the discretion of the bathroom’s owner, but if I have to choose between state-enforced gender equality and state-enforced gender discrimination, I’ll take the former in a heartbeat.

    The support of socialism, on the other hand, absolutely terrifies me. It disgusts me when I see people who say we shouldn’t mourn Nancy Reagan or George H.W. Bush because they were homophobic (even though they were fairly moderate on social issues for their time), but then celebrate a dictator like Fidel Castro who literally threw LGBT people into concentration camps. The sad part is, most of these self-proclaimed socialists don’t even hold real socialist views! In terms of their actual policy stances, they just want capitalism with higher taxes and more social welfare, like the Nordic countries have. (Of course, the fact that the Nordic countries are actually more capitalist than the U.S. – at least in the sense of having less market regulations – is lost on them.) But that doesn’t keep them from idolizing communist dictators all the same, or bizarrely conflating free-market social democracies like Norway with centrally planned hellholes like Venezuela. Ironically, the conservatives make the same argument, they just use it to claim that Norway’s system is bad instead of claiming that Venezuela’s system is good.

  142. @Varun,
    1st, Happy Solstice!
    The Shamanists of Siberia, at least, and probably other countries would also clearly welcome an alliance. A shaman I knew by Lake Baikal explained that he felt free to attend any religious gathering and partake of the good in each. He considered Shamanism the ancestor religion and said it viewed the newer religions that arose later as a mother views her children, very caring and appreciative of their accomplishments.
    Another interesting thing is that one of the leading hypotheses on the origin of the Kompira Shrine in Shikoku, where I studied for the priesthood, is that a seafaring culture brought that god with them together with rice cultivation, and that his origin was in India as the Ganges River god Kumbira.

  143. Jera, that makes a great deal of sense.

    Christopher, they’ll surround themselves with a thicket of self-marginalizing behaviors and keep going until they age out or get interested in something else. There’s always a broad penumbra of fringe groups out there, and some of them are what’s left behind when a once much larger movement headed in from the fringes.

    Jera, that’s certainly one way to do it. I lack the neurology to use that approach — Aspergers syndrome gets in the way of a lot of things — but there are alternative methods, of course.

    Jessi, um, you seem to have misunderstood what I said. I didn’t say that I assumed that Heathens were more honest than pop Neopagans; I said that it’s been my repeated experience, as someone who’s dealt with both communities for decades across much of the country, that Heathens are more honest than pop Neopagans. I’m not just making that up, you know, and I see no point in pretending that I haven’t experienced what I have in fact experienced. As for Neopagan reactions to a potential alliance with Hinduism, here again, this is a matter of experience; for quite a while now, a lot of Neopagan leaders, as well as rank and file, have been whipping themselves up into frenzies of denunciation of any group that doesn’t follow the latest political fashions of the extreme left — and, on the off chance you don’t know this, the Hindu faith includes a lot of teachings and traditions that contradict said political fashions. That’s why I think the Hindus would be better off dealing with other groups outside the fading pop-Neopagan movement.

    Will, of course. The thing to keep in mind is that Trumpismo, as we may as well call the movement, is a sprawling political force that draws strength and support from a range of disparate trends in US society. The Tea Party was one of these, the alt-Right another.

    Patricia, no doubt. Nonetheless, my point was simply that I have no idea what it’s like to travel in women’s business clothing, and don’t expect ever to find out!

    Sgage, glad to hear it. The Saker’s one of the few bloggers who took TLG seriously; if he knows of a Russian publisher that would like to bring out a translation, I’d be delighted!

    Sunnnv, good question. The FBI seems to have been more interested in hindering Trump than harming his opponents, but it’s by no means impossible that some other government or private group is busy.

    Will, I suspect it’s the sort of half-conscious hypocrisy that leads people to come up with elaborate excuses why it’s okay for them to do something they’d despise in anyone else. Since hate is the new sex, and the tyranny of compulsory niceness becomes unbearable over time, a lot of people really desperately want an excuse to be evil. Summoning demons while insisting you don’t actually believe in them is just such an excuse. The demons don’t mind — they don’t need you to believe in them, you’re just as crunchy and flavorful to them either way…

    Owen, true enough. I’d like to see greeting cards for each of the four stations of the year!

    Nastarana, they’re not my type either, but it’s definitely a change from anime cuties in storm trooper outfits…

    Varun, I’d be fascinated to see what the pandits do with that. I’ll have to schedule an incarnation a few centuries from now to check out the results. 😉

    Libertine, you know, if I worked at it, yI could probably come up with a characterization of the libertarian movement that’s equally slapdash and uninformed.

    Violet, nicely phrased!

    Steve M, no surprises there — evangelical Christians at least tend to have a fairly solid sense of the reality of the spiritual realm, and their techniques are inefficient but by no means ineffective. I also know that there’s at least one fairly large magical order with right-wing proclivities doing serious magical workings regularly to protect Trump from hostile magic. I doubt the Orange One has anything to worry about.

    As for the oil industry, okay, we’re getting into the time window when I expected to see that begin. Stay tuned for another oil crisis in the early 2020s…

  144. Regarding personal appearance and the reactions of others, I feel like physical health is a large factor. You don’t have to be a CrossFit maniac, and in fact I shy away from folks like that – but I feel like people with robust, vital physicality tend to get good reactions from those around them.

    As a contrast, in the Wiccan and activist circles I was a part of in Phoenix, almost everyone was wildly unhealthy. The mere act of getting regular exercise and eating for health made me stand out – it seemed to be unheard of to intentionally cultivate any kind of healthy habit.

    If physical appearance is part of the way you represent your values, what are you communicating if you cannot put away the Mountain Dew and bacon-wrapped chocolate? To put it another way, if you’re trying to be the change you want to see in the world, what are you manifesting when you sit helpless in front of a screen for six hours a day?

  145. Dear SpiceisNice,

    With respect to: fertile ground for right-wing, religious & down-to-earth grassroots environmentalism to sprout, I am not holding my breath, as such a development would involve the right-wing admitting and accepting that some folks and some businesses will. lose. money., a development which according to conservative ideology is never, ever supposed to happen. Discipline of the market is for the other guy, never for them.

    I suggest that the Left, that is, the self-identified New Left, is imploding because lefties tried to impose a European ideology, Socialism, on a large country which a. is not Europe West, and b. rejected the imported ideology. As for why the same ideology was accepted for a time in two other large countries, Russia and China, I can’t say, but the experiment did not work here. I can still remember the SDS types who thought that close reading of Marx, Lenin and a few Russian novels was sufficient intellectual preparation for understanding American politics and society.

  146. Yes, JMG, I think Christ is very tolerant or we are all in real trouble. I also believe God has a great sense of humour and is far too busy rolling round with laughter to be too concerned with pointing the finger at us (That is a metaphor).
    Re wearing women’s business suits perhaps you should give it a try. All in the interests of research of course and you could try some different rest rooms. Personally I have never had to, thank goodness.

  147. @Nastarana Sense! :). What martial arts often teach is the capacity and confidence to avoid both victimhood AND aggression.

    @Violet – thanks for that corrective. It has always seemed to me that it takes little effort, skill or attention to snaah, destroy, hurt. Anybody can do it without trying too hard.

    On the other hand, building, maintaining, caring for, healing, all take effort, attention, skill as well as love, courage, patience, and what, in Ireland they call sheer “bloodymindedness” – a kind of dogged persstance that gets you up every day with a will and a purpose.

    David Graeber talks about the “stupidness” of violence. If you can’t be bothered learning enough of another person’s ways, interests, values to usefully negotiate with them for mutual benefit, you can often short cut your way to their compliance, without knowing anything about them, by threatening or using violence. But once you’ve done that, you’d better not turn your back or fall asleep even once, or you’ll find out the appearance of compliance is only skin deep.

    I think he, and you, have a point.

  148. @JMG I wonder if you’ve given any thought to the possibility that dealings with Mephistopheles must, sooner or later, seem like the obvious thing to do, in a society modelling itself after Dr Faustus.

  149. @ JMG A poster linked to a bloggers thoughts on hexing, which included the idea that people may not like having their free will messed with (d’ya think?), but it may be necessary if a person’s free will involves hurting others.

    This turned out to be fingernails dragged down the chalkboard of my soul, and as I swept the kitchen this morning I mulled it over.

    It seems to me that freewill is about deciding what you will say and do, and saying and doing it. Freewill is NOT about deciding the outcome of what you will say and do, not because that’s not a good idea, but simply because it is not possible.

    Martial arts have taught me that it is unnecessary to extinguish another’s free will to defend against their harmful intentions. If skilled and attentive, one redirects their intentions, and provides them with further opportunities to freely consider what their next act will be, without suffering harm oneself.

    This means that just because a person freely wills to punch you, and puts that intention into effect by punching, it doesn’t follow that you will be punched. Sometimes, they’ll end up in a heap on the floor instead.

    Now it is the business of magic to train the will. And it is necessary, because, as martial arts also teach, a punch is seldom straight and true and thrown with full intention. In an untrained person quite often one part of the body is getting in the way of another, and this weakens the effect of one’s act.

    So, it strikes me that what magic CAN do is teach one to get out of one’s own way, as it were, when turning intention into action. But even in magic, one cannot operate other people’s (or other beings) wills from the crucially right place, which is from within, and so, even in magic, one can hope to freely hone one’s actions, and clarify one’s intentions, but one can never hope to decide an outcome. Once energy is loosed upon the world its intended target can move, others can step in, the direction of the energy can be altered, and outcomes will be produced from the totality of interactions provoked by the act, not by the actor.

    The flipside of this is that one also wants to guard against releasing random energy in places or situations where anyone can turn up and put it to use, as you would not. (Eg, why turn climate into an “emergency” in the sense iof getting lots of people worked up, if that energy will be directed towards more mining, more extraction, and more pollution?)

    Anyway, the summoning of demons, or of any entity, with the idea that you might be able to operate their wills as if they were yours is likely a bad idea, but also it it is based on the main delusion built into the fabfic of our Faustian society. That ours is the only will, and we are in cobtrol.

    Brought to you by Broom [not in the closet] Thoughts.

  150. Re: Heathenism

    If you want masculine spirituality, your choices are to roll your own or subscribe to PewDiePie, er, I mean, Islam. Naturally a lot of guys look at Islam, turn around and go “nope”. So they roll their own. And then the next question becomes, well, what did Xtianity come along to replace? Let’s try that.

    As far as Xtianity goes, it’s hopelessly feminized to the point where even I don’t really want anything to do with it. Churches full of church ladies. Xtianity is going to have to make a choice soon – either die at the hands of the left or start catering to the men it has abandoned. I suspect it’ll die, shrug.

    It had a good 2000 year run, things run in cycles. Time for something different. Maybe not new, but different.

  151. @Joy Marie

    “Many Christians, and most if not all of the fundamentalists, view the world strictly in two camps; you are either with Jesus or Satan. If you are a Christian (and some fundamentalists are very strict in how they define that), you’re on the good, right side. If you are anything else – Wicca, Neopagan, New Age, Buddhist, Moslem, Atheist, etc.—you are on the bad, evil side and controlled by Satan. I would guess that this is the view that Dreher’s taking.”

    The Old Testament and even Jesus himself personified those views. Either with him or against him.

  152. @JMG
    “we’re in the middle of a massive reshuffling of cultural forms, and it’ll be interesting to see which survive and which crash and burn. I’m not surprised to see the evangelical churches losing air at a rapid pace — they made the same mistake as the liberal denominations and replaced religion with cultural politics, and now they’re dying the same way. ”

    What’s your outlook on the Catholic/Orthodox? They have more staying power?

  153. From Magic Monday, but, a sideline on today’s nastiness: Barrigan noted: “we switched from a “Moon in Aquarius” period (1944-1980) to a “Sun in Pisces” one (1980-2016) and are now switching to a “Saturn in Aries” one (2016-2052).”

    OMG. I have Saturn in Aries in my natal chart and am here to tell you it is quite a difficult combination. Also, yes, Saturn is indeed whomping us upside the haid these days for sure.

  154. Dear info, I would like to take a crack at that question, if I may. Orthodox and Catholic are not identical and likely will never merge, fantasies of the ecumenical crowd to the contrary. Orthodox churches tend to be national churches and have the support of secular authorities, such as in Russia at the present time. Can they survive without such support? That I don’t know.

    If the Roman Catholic Church can get out of politics and get back to what we are good at, educating the young and providing relief to the poor, what are now called social services, I believe we can survive and thrive in the coming centuries. As a believer, I naturally hold that Christ’s church is eternal, but can we survive as a force for good in increasingly chaotic times or as simply a handful of Old Believers.

  155. “A witch that can’t hex can’t heal” has set some interesting thoughts in motion: the only way that makes sense as an answer is if the question isn’t “Should witches curse?”, but “Can witches curse?” The answer to the second is obviously yes, but the answer to the first is much harder to answer. There may be cases where cursing is appropriate. I’ll admit I don’t have one, but I haven’t bothered to try to come up with such scenarios, since I know I will never curse.

    The leap from “Witches can curse!” to “Witches should curse!” is itself intriguing, since the leap is being made without regard to the consequences of doing what is possible. What’s fascinating here is that this leap, from “We can do X!” to “We should do X!” without regard to consequences, seems to happen all the time in our society.

    I’m wondering now if this is the result of cacomagic: in our society it tends to work by making the thought “I can buy that!” prominent, and it tends to work extra to bypass the question of “Should I buy it?” The interesting thing is that the person Eric linked to advocates strongly against protective workings in another post. As such, she’ll still be subjected to the full force of the insane amount of cacomagic thrown around today.

    This leads to another intriguing thought: I wonder if that’s why so many people refuse protective magic. The only reason most people find the lifestyles they live tolerable is the flood of cacomagic. Anything which disrupts this is going to be painful, and it may be easier to come up with whatever excuses are needed for why you don’t need to disrupt the cacomagic which makes your life tolerable.

  156. @info

    Concerning Jesus, his own position on that question is far from obvious from the Bible:

    Mark 9:40 “He that is not against us is on our part.”

    on the one hand; on the other,

    Matthew 12:30 “He that is not with me is against me.”

    In conversation, I have had more that one Christian deny that the New Testament has any such verse as Mark’s anywhere in it, and, when challenged to check in my reference their own Bibles, flat-out refuse to do so. The example of this that I remember most clearly came from an argument with a devout Catholic, an extremely conservative lay member of Opus Dei. But I have met others, Protestant and Catholic alike.

    There’s much more going on here that a simple factual question of what the sources claim that Jesus said.

  157. JMG – >> Trumpismo, as we may as well call the movement …<<

    I am liking it. There’s also “Trumpopulism” …. or just “Trumpop” …..

  158. @Info “What’s your outlook on the Catholic/Orthodox? They have more staying power?”

    Not that you asked me personally, but I don’t think so. It’s an issue of pragmatism. One of the main problems with the Catholic church is the propensity of its clergy towards pedophilia and the ongoing enablement of pedophiles by church hierarchy. The situation is so bad that it has become common in American culture to equate priests with kiddie diddling. Not good. How is that singular, jealous God of pedo-priests supposed to compete when in a future when a more relatable, far more fun Santa Muerte answers a basic prayer in a few days? The future we are looking at may demand more pragmatic approaches, and those who do not adopt them may be headed for the fate of the dinosaurs.

    What happens when a new church devoted to Demeter (or whatever she is being called at that point) brings in the first real harvest from a food forest on its campus? Meanwhile, the Catholics and Orthodoxers in the next town beg for parishioner donations so they can afford a solar-powered lawnmower…

  159. Owen –

    The Marian mvt in the Church is really quite vibrant and charged with a robust spiritual potency. As opposed to the “Church Lady” aspect of the Church, the Marian mvt, while expressing the feminine aspect of Christianity, is not excessively yin, not at all.

    Sure, the current spiritually-neutered Establishment Christianity is going to die, but I can see some form of Marianism surviving, and in time perhaps adapting a more earth/eco centered stance. In any event, as true opposites contain each other, an expression of the Divine Feminine – as I believe the Marian mvt represents – is also, in a sense, an expression of the Divine Masculine, this time with the Feminine aspect at the forefront. So, nothing wispy or “overly feminized” about it.

  160. @info
    > The Old Testament and even Jesus himself personified those views. Either with him or against him.

    I know Christian bashing is a popular sport in some circles, but this one seems a bit over the top against a guy who reportedly said… “Forbid him not, for he that is not against us is for us”. (ironically enough, in defense of a non-Christian man that was going around, expeling demons against the wishes of the Apostoles) However, people always seem to misremember that as “he who is not with us is against us”.

    If you want to look a bit deeper into it, very rarely Jesus displays an intransigent attitude in the Gospels, though it is not unheard off. The only one instance that comes to mind is when he kicked the money changers out of the Temple, which is also the one time when he resorted to physical violence. In my mind there is a very big gap between “I will not tolerate you to cross this particular line” and on the other hand “you have to do as I say, always”.

    About YHWH, aka God-the-Father, I whish I had a better explanation, not for you but for myself. The way I conceptualize it is that he is pretty much a National God. When you see him at his worst, you will notice that his wrath is directed towards the so called gentiles. You will find that he usually finds room in his heart to forgive the repeated betrayals and shortcomings of His Chosen People.

  161. Hi Info

    We Catholics have had staying power for a couple of millennia but during the last 60 years our leaders have decided to destroy the institution. A lot of us are very upset about this!

  162. Jera Raido –

    >> Many, if not most, of the those invoking the “Devil” in today’s world believe that he was the maligned spirit punished for daring to help humanity find enlightenment as his epoymous job-title indicates, and the true malevolent force is the arrogant, tyrannical God-Father demanding adhereance, ignorance, submission and worship through threat of eternal suffering while afflicting humanity with impossible demands, dis-ease, violence, warfare, plague, drought, dis-aster.
    And when you get right down to it, they have a good point there.<<

    Yeah, but I think it likely that the tyrannical God threatening eternal suffering, etc., is a particularly distorted misinterpretation of what “God” really is. In any event, yes, of course, suffering exists, but is this a matter of a deity setting Creation into motion and then sitting back and enjoying the sufferings of his creatures as if God were a thing apart from his Creation? Consider that Creation with its implicit sufferings may have been the only Creation possible, the only way possible for you and I and everything else to exist, the only way for “God”, in fact, to exist. And consider, too, that God also suffers with the necessarily painful evolution of his Creation, as he is not a thing apart from Creation.

    A “Devil” in this context is the necessary Oppositional Principle, without which nothing could exist – we can’t know bliss without knowing suffering, light can’t exist without a complimentary darkness, yin can’t exist without yang, etc. But that’s not exactly an independent entity “daring to help humanity to find enlightenment”; it’s just a necessary component of Creation. Then there’s the Devil that is the spirit of chaos, anti-Creation, anti-evolution, the essence of dismemberment and dis-ordering, in short, the nature of the Kabbalah’s Qlippoth. I don’t know what exactly people are invoking when they invoke the “Devil”, but I would hope it’s not the latter.

  163. Will J –

    They may not believe in the existence of demons per se, but they do believe in the negative energy that their non-existent demons symbolically represent.

    One way or the other, if they’re going to magically lob negative energy hither and thither, they’ll eventually get blueberry jammed-up – but I suspect it will be worse for them if, as I believe, demonic spirits do indeed exist.

  164. @Owen,
    Guys definitely need their own sacred space that women ought to respect. What you seem to be suggesting, though, is religions in which men control women, which women tend to resent and find sneaky ways of counter-controlling until they dominate again.
    In Japan, it has been pointed out to me and is also my experience that Shinto, despite its recent history and male dominance at the official level, is very feminine, especially in its ancient form, whereas Buddhism, which was imported about 1400 years ago from a warring continent, is very masculine. I attended one Shugendo pilgrimage with women’s participation of 1/4 or less. It reminded me of boot camp. I was told that while the men have 108 sins and proscriptions, about thee times as many are attributed to/imposed upon the women. Partway through the trek, the men go off one way and climb a cliff, I hear and the women go off another way for a day or so. (I didn’t get that far. A combination of nice hotels and barley tea in my canteen (two unwelcome surprises) did me in.)

  165. In an essay titled “Nationalism” George Orwell discussed certain kinds of groups: Communists, political Catholics, Pacifists, Zionists, actual Nationalists, that he saw as having certain traits in common. He admitted that nationalism wasn’t really the right term, since many were not defined by national boundaries or allegiances. But he did note the tendency for members of such groups to occasionally do complete flip-flops. In some cases this was imposed from outside as when Communist Party members had to switch from anti-fascism to pro-German sentiments when Stalin signed a pact with Hitler. Outsiders were amazed that party members were able to make this switch–and then back again without any apparent qualms. (Some people did leave the Party, of course) In other cases the flip flop seems to come out of nowhere. I would not be at all surprised if some of the people currently courting demonic aid were among the most vehement in opposing all manipulative magic a few years ago.

    One thing I realized when considering this is that I cannot ever recall being advised to do a divination before magical action during my Wiccan training. It simply wasn’t mentioned. Now it was assumed that any major work should be discussed with one’s coven beforehand since the coven members were seen as having karmic connections. Since most workings were for healing, new job, new apartment, house protection and other benign projects it wasn’t really an issue. Except for those with the extreme view that no magic should ever be done for ones personal benefit. Some more intense workings–protecting a child from an abusive father for example, invoked the aid of a deity, so were more directed prayer than spellwork, IMO, And we were, of course, always working within the general Craft Laws against negative magic.

    The major anti-rapist work that I have read of Z Budapest being involved in was the Trailside Killer case in the California Bay Area. The work, if I recall correctly, was directed at the perp being caught. David Carpenter dropped his prescription glasses at his next crime scene and was apprehended as a result. I feel inclined to give some credit to Z and her circle. He is still on death row in California. Another group of Bay Area pagans and witches did a working against a rapist known as “Stinky” because he had a strong odor of oil or gasoline. ADAIK no one has every been charged in this case, but the assaults did cease after a time. Some speculate that the perp may have been arrested and imprisoned for some other crime, putting him out of circulation. I don’t see a problem with doing a working to stop a threat to the community so long as the intent is that the criminal be caught and prevented from doing further harm, not a focus on a particular suspect about whom you might be wrong.

    People who want to know what happens when frightened people believe that you have magical powers that you are using to harm them do not need to read history. Mob action against suspected witches is happening in many parts of Africa, rural India and other places as we type.

  166. @JMG: Was it my description of Christianity, Mormonism, or Wicca that you found uncharitable? Or all three? In any case, I’m sorry to any believers I might have offended. I don’t have any problem with individual Christians or Mormons or Wiccans, and I respect people’s right to believe whatever they want, I’m just skeptical of religious institutions for the same reason I’m skeptical of large dogmatic sociopolitical organizations in general.

    Especially since the Religious Right seems to be growing stronger by the day! Politics and religion have become intertwined to a degree that would’ve been unthinkable just a few decades ago. Back in the 60s, even conservative Republicans like Barry Goldwater detested the Christian fundamentalists; Goldwater warned that they’d be the death of the party and possibly the country as a whole if they ever came to power. And now it seems like his prediction is coming true, as the conservative Christians grow increasingly more brazen with each new election cycle.

  167. @JMG: Also, regarding the people who don’t believe in demons but still invoke his name, I can actually understand where they’re coming from. To them, Satan isn’t a real being, he’s a symbol of everything that Christianity isn’t. And most of them associate Christianity with a lot of very bad things: conformity, dependence, patriarchal social norms, homophobia, transphobia, sexual and emotional repression, passivity in the face of injustice, rigid dogmatism, moral absolutism, social and financial exploitation, hypocrisy. Thus, Satan becomes a symbol representing individuality, independence, gender equality, LGBT rights, sexual liberation, emotional authenticity, open-mindedness, moral nuance, freedom of action and expression, courage in standing up for what’s right. Since they don’t believe Satan is real, they don’t have to worry about an actual demonic entity laying claim to their souls, nor do they believe that invoking his name will actually have any effect, they’re just using his name as a sort of banner to rally behind, a signifier of their own beliefs and values.

    Granted, I think it’s immature, but as a queer neuro-divergent non-conformist who had to endure 12 years of Catholic school, I can definitely sympathize with them. And since I don’t believe in Satan myself, I don’t think they’re doing any real harm, I just think they could be channeling their efforts in more productive ways.

  168. It seems to me that in times like these, with a huge population necessitating short times between incarnations, that human insanity would generally go off the rails. Reason being, life here is crazy, and people are often traumatized. I think our basic sanity lies deep within and a long stint on the other side is refreshing to our psyches and probably essential for full recovery.

  169. Isaac,

    “If a movement / culture / etc. draws more than its share of dingbats, perhaps it is time to question the assumption that said movement is composed of “humanity’s graduating class”. Maybe it is just an activity that is attractive to misfits. ”

    Good point. My opinion is that one of the main lessons we are here to learn is to stop being so gullible, so easily fooled and led, to stop believing the surface of things and the appearance of things, such as assuming that people interested in spirituality are more advanced than those who are not, or even that people know why they do what they do. Some percentage of people in any given religion are sincerely interested in following it and bettering their souls, but there are a lot of other reasons to be there.

    I certainly think that all other things being equal, it is better to believe in God, a soul, a divine cosmos. But when I look at the myriad lessons we can learn in life, including moral ones, religion isn’t particularly needed. Again, religion can speed things up considerably, especially when you are ready, but I have seen so many nonreligious people who are kind, honest, generous, thoughtful. Obviously not beginner souls.

    I’m not sure why an advanced soul can be atheistic or just not interested. But I think that there is often a way station on the advancement ladder, in which one takes a break and reassesses things in terms of logic, and also serves as a clearinghouse for perhaps too much baggage from prior religious lifetimes.

  170. ” it’s one of the things I have in mind for a future book project, a history of America that talks about everything that American history books don’t talk about…”

    I suspect it would be time consuming, but I think it is a brilliant idea.

  171. Marianne,

    ‘”Black magic is often the done thing but they justify it because in past lives they were persecuted as witches allegedly. Their “victim” status gives them the right to act appallingly.”

    Astonishing. Simply amazing. People truly don’t understand good and evil.
    See, anyone who talks like that is spiritually a child.

  172. Will M says:
    June 21, 2019 at 8:58 pm
    Jera Raido –

    >>Speaking of words, what is a word that means “calm-zest?”<<

    For me, that would be “enthusiasm”.

    Will- Thank you. I had come around to "relishing" & "delighting," being the closest synonyms I could think of, but "enthusiasm" is spot on.

  173. Hi JMG

    Interesting post. I cannot talk about bad or black magic, I do not really believe in it, but I see how the very powerful people think and act I think it is quite “demonic” in essence.

    Take for example Madeleine Albraight in the (in)famous interview where she was asked about the estimated half a million of iraqi children that died as a consequence of the US blockade of food, medicines, bombing of water treatment stations, waste water treatment plant, etc…She proudly said : “it was worth it” and of course she had no problem to do it again….

    Then we have the (in)famous interview to Hillary Clinton about the news of the horrible end of Gaddafi, and then she said laughing: “We came, we saw, he died”; everybody and she knew Gaddafi was killed sodomized by bayonets. This negation of the humanity of the “enemy” is totally sociopathic or even “demonic”.

    Then we have Donald Trump and he even shaked the hand of the “monster” Kin Jong-Un!, he treats him as a human being as if this “monstruous entity” is human! as the NYT or WaPo and others like to say.

    Or for example yesterday Trump said he stopped the attack on Iran to “avoid the loss of 150 lives”…What a childish excuse! all the MSM say, because as a POTUS you cannot talk in this term of the “enemy”, because they are “others”, almost outside humanity as we consider them: “those” nasty people we roughly imagine are inside the building bombed with laser-guided bombs in the CNN news, people that almost do not exist, have no guts, no blood, no broken bones, no children, no mothers, only targets to blow-up at will

    May be it is only political calculations and nothing more, or may be, just may be, Trump is really one person who know that when he gives an order to attack and kill some people he is really the murderer, not the soldiers that do the attack; may be when he ordered to advice the sirian military in advance of the impeding arrival of the 60 Tomahawks to some specific allocation it was not exactly to avoid a conflict with the syrians or russians, but to sleep well in the night.
    I am sure this talk about “casualties” (iranian or syrian, etc…) will be understood as weakness, because for the “rational” & “mature” powerful people all the moral restraint, if it is not useful propaganda, must be personal weakness and that means this person cannot act as a POTUS.
    We will see in the future, but this kind of behavior could be more dangerours (for Trump) that all he had done before (Bobby Kennedy 2.0?)

    At this time of his presidency Obama has “stone-aged” Lybia, completelly destalized Syria sending thousands of weapons to the jihadis groups (“freedom-fighterism” again), gave the green light and weapons to the saudi onslaught on Yemen, and converted South Asia and North Africa in a gigantic drone hunting field.
    On the other hand the, “unprepared”, “dangerous” and “warmonger” Donald has not started any war. OK, he has not fulfilled the promise to end all of them but as least he has not started any, and this is really something “revolutionary” for a recent POTUS

    JMG, do you think The Donald will receive the Nobel Peace Prize as Obama?

    Cheers
    David

  174. @JMG

    Since monastic societies have been mentioned, quite often before also on ADR, I have garnered recent thought on this.

    Looking to a very likely next big crisis and the vaning possessions, oft the middle class especially, I wonder how much potential to grow on the future have middle
    class people of this day, with few practical skills before they start an energetic or spiritual practice in their thirties or so?

    As we know, practical skills rule over sophisticated abstraction in the coming decades (eg. medical skills, carpentry, herbalism, shamanism and so forth
    over informatics, business and administration studies and so forth).

    I have thought a hard thought on how middle class people of today might manage to live a poor but spiritually fruitful lifestyle in 10 or 15 years.
    Not saying this is easy but at least some acquired skill in meditation, healing, physical health might be a possible help to live in small wooden huts or houses, like
    brotherhood cells, in some communal ground near the city. Reasonibly offseting costs with a low-resource intensity lifestyle,
    like no flowing water taps, no water toilet, possibly no electricity, but small iron stoves and a little basic inventory.

    Of course we cannot skip the monastic founding hermit, as you mentioned, but maybe we can support of a transitional community?

    It would still be difficult because also there need be rules, and what rules then? Entirely ascetic, or leaving room for worldly desires in sensible measure?

    So mainly my question is, how much potential would you credit to middle class people in their thirties in the West, with moderate means, an ordinary job,
    and a goodwill to reconnect to a reality beyond current day materialism?

  175. As I was reading your essay, particularly the part about the fragmentation of beliefs amongst minority religions, I flashed on the memory of the stained-glass works in the churches and monasteries in Caen, Normandy (I visited there in 2014). Because of the destruction from the fighting in 1944, almost all the churches had their stained glass windows shattered, and, in the surviving churches, these were replaced in the 1950s and these are, I think, the only time that abstract art actually looks good because of the way light plays through the glass. But they are also fragmentary, disjointed, and a good visual image of what you describe: hardly a cohesive whole. The only thing that holds together is that the many different sub-religions all seek to illuminate the human spirit in some way, sort of like the way light shining through the different colours of glass is the one common factor in those modern glass windows.
    The second thing that occurred as I read along is a memory, from way back when, in Germany when I was trying to articulate (not at all well) the nascent idea I conceived when the inevitable discussion of Nazism came up. The basic left-right assignment seems to default to a good-bad continuum, where the ‘left’ is defined as people who care about other people (i.e. good) and the ‘right’ is defined as people who care about power (i.e. bad bullies). At the time, though, I’d just read the “Gulag Archipelago” and I’d observed the East German border with the sharp realization that those defenses were not designed to keep people out, but rather to keep people trapped on the other side. Of course, the next logical (to me, anyway) question is, is that is the ‘left’ and the ‘left’ is good, then why the camps and the barbed wire imprisonment? At that point, I had the nascent idea that, at the extremes, both left and right become evil and repressive. Obviously, the left-right continuum equated with good-bad is incorrect.
    Skip ahead a couple of years and it turns out that some very smart people with letters after their names were working out the Political Compass, which is a more nuanced 2-dimensional scale, and, again, at the extreme edges, we find every good idea turns bad. Skip ahead a couple more years and I find for-real Druidry which is where D&D “druidry” got the whole idea of balance from. Actually, you can learn a lot about the negative effects of extreme behaviour from D&D alignment, I think, but that’s probably a book-length meditation.
    From your essay here, I can see how the frustration at not having the world turn out as desired by every self-defined activist group, as described in your earlier essays, has been turning to anger and thence to malevolent action.
    Observing from a sense of balanced perspective, it seems to me that both the alt-right and ctrl-left really are like frustrated children, thwarted in their demands that the world behave according to their desires and are now having an angry temper tantrum, both physically, and psychically. I suspect that the universe’s equivalent of “Mommy” is eventually going to come correct that bad behaviour, one way or another.

  176. Robert Mathiesen –

    Re what Jesus said in the 2 passages you cited may not be all that self-contradictory and may not be quite the either/or proposition that some like to point out and others shy away from.

    Re the Matthew 12:30 “He that is not with me is against me.” On the surface – which is not good way of reading any sacred scripture – it would appear that J is saying if you’re not specifically on Team Jesus, you’re on Team Evil. I’ve encountered this from Christians when I’ve ventured that there are faiths other than Christianity that are spiritually viable, and I’ve had shouted at me the passage from John 14: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” But here, I imagine, Jesus is not referring to himself as the individual flesh and blood Jesus, but rather as the Spirit made flesh, which is to say, you wanna get to heaven and unite with God, then there’s no other way but through cultivation of the Spirit, however which way you get to Spirit.

    And that links with Mark 9:40 “He that is not against us is on our part.”, which is to say, if you’re of a religion, a faith that aspires to genuine spiritual attainment, then you’re on our side, period.

    I imagine that the trouble, as always, is with finite minds grappling with the ineffable and then helplessly succumbing to a too-literal, unnecessarily dualistic interpretation of scripture.

  177. @patricia Most of the guys who are into worshipping Odin and Thor (and the pantheon) aren’t necessarily thinking quite along those lines, or if they are it’s more about taking things back to the old system where there was a clear delineation between the female world and the male one. They’re responding to a (spiritual) world they see as fundamentally not working, broken and are doing something, even if it may not quite be the right thing. They want a world that works for them!

    In any case, they’ve given up on whatever flavor of Xtianity exists near them. Or maybe both have given up on each other. Every so often Dalrock will bring up another article about how there are all these “church ladies” who are having real problems finding “church men” that they feel any attraction to, when they can find one at all. Most are having to go outside whatever church they’re in to find anyone at all. The men are GONE.

  178. Nastarana; The Roman Catholic Church survived even the massive corruption of the Renaissance popes, though no longer a monolith. They survived (though underground for a long time) Henry VIII dissolving the monasteries, which also dissolved England’s traditional social safety net – a feature, not a bug, to the money-grabbing Tudor court. They thrived when they kept their fat noses out of power politics, which was rarely. If they clean up their act, they stand a very good chance of lasting quite a while longer.

    The Western faith that has the best survival record I’m aware of is Rabbinical Judaism. I found it very hard to believe, in Star’s Reach, that they didn’t survive, though probably lumped together in everybody’s mind with the remnant Christians.[Very OT, but – I can easily think of 2 reasons why a pair of Old Believers should be on the road instead of in their ghettos and shtetls. First is, of course the old The Jazz Singer plot (rerun on The Simpsons as the story of Krusty the Clown); the second is that they could have been a same-sex couple, which their faith found taboo.]

  179. Will M: In David Brin’s novel Earth, he predicted the rise of two religions – the male-heavy Ra Boys, worshiping the sun even while everyone was getting cancer from the lack of ozone layer (called that one wrong) and the female-heavy or all-female North American Church of Gaia. But as one character noted, “Even Mary took more interest in ecology these days.”

  180. To the lovely Commentariat here,

    Thank you all for so much rich food for thought. I have been reading many of your comments for years and am glad to finally join in the conversation. As I comtemplate your musings at least a part of me can find an understanding, acceptance of and even ageement with many ideas seemingly in opposition to my own. Paradoxes are something I’m rather comfortable with and I try to always keep in the forefront of my reading comprehension the sage advice often shared by The Arch-Druid that words are a map attempting to describe an inner landscape of perception, not the territory itself.

    In light of that,

    @Will J- yeah agreed. My own perception of Divinity is, well, of something Divine…and Evil I wholly subscribe to the realms of the relative, only other things are ever evil and only based upon what side you are watching from. The worst evils I have ever witnessed have all come from people who thought they were “good” stomping out the ones the beheld as “evil.”
    @Libertine, no offense taken. I value your point of view. You remind me of the grain of salt I keep in my own mind.

    Brother John Michael, the “Flight to the Fringes” we are witnessing here, the radical-left adopting the definition and character of itself in its opponent’s terms as evilly-evil, does provide the populist right with a bit of a balancing image doesn’t it? Especially in a historical-context. Will they cancel each other out or continue to spiral outward or retreat to the middle? Of course all of that is happening. Your astute observation of these movements and trends has really helped me make some sense of the evolving state these tumultuous cascades of energy and shifting alliances take on. Obviously, transformation is always afoot.

    I am reminded of the artist Robert Mapplethorpe’s infamous “Self-Portarait” where he inserted -trying to be delicate here- a leather bullwhip into his backside, transforming himself into both the Devil decried by the fundamentalist Conservatives and the Innocent Martyr celebrated by the oppressed gay community. In some ways, he “named the Devil” here and took away its power. It was a point where much condemnation and literal “damning,” took place (if you will please forgive this one instance of a ‘curse-word,’ the for-sure Christian equivalent of hexing, literally evoking the malevolent force of the Almighty. Have we come to the opposite pole now?) When the world did not immediately end and God did not rip open the heavens and descend, when people saw that the world would keep going on despite whatever evilly-evil was going on, some may have mellowed on their condemnation of an entire community. Or perhaps some would mellow because they may have felt some guilt at being complicit in the HIV/AIDS epidemic which soon after ran over the nation and world, making many an accuser smugly insistent that they were in fact justified in their condemnation… I do worry if this group of hexers-certainly much smaller than the multitudes of Christians aligned against the gay-community and on less-stable footing, were despite that able to harness and unleash a similar sinister force against the fundamentalist community…. just as I’m seeing articles about zombie-deer, and thinking of the prepper/hunter so sure he will be safe in his bunker picking off the zombie-refugee citiots flowing from the urban mess, failing to see the enemy he has unwittingly brought in himself, as he takes a bite of infected venison from his stock and smiles at his family gathered around the feast.
    May it never be so…

  181. I don’t see the term “mores” here. It might be useful. It might also be misunderstood by those who don’t know the term so use caution, define as needed.

    “Mores (/ˈmɔːreɪz/ sometimes /ˈmɔːriːz/;[1] from Latin mōrēs, …. [refers] to social norms that are widely observed and are considered to have greater moral significance than others.”

    “mores distinguish the difference between right and wrong, while folkways draw a line between right and rude”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mores

    [first pron. is incorrect]
    https://www.howtopronounce.com/mores/

  182. @DFC most of the practitioners I know do not beleive in (or have rewired their brains to think of it in different terms than) black and white magic. A hammer is a hammer- how you use and what your perspective is determines wether those actions garner the appellation harmful or beneficial. For me, In very big brushstrokes with cultural adoptions taking place for descriptive convenience sake- Map not the Territory- ->A way of seeing it…We live in the yang-eye of the yin-side of the yin-yang cosmos. The white-yang-magic or “God-Energy” is a certain kind of solar energy that can grow a watermellon or scorch you to dust, ie, it’s good at creating and destroying, depends upon the application, not inherently good or evil and comes free of racial connotation. The black-yin-magic or “Goddess Energy” is good at absorbing and holding, of blocking or allowing, of providing the foundation without which god-energy would not exist or be of any use. It stabilizes the universe and absorbs the excess, in other words it is good at creating and destroying as well. But in our universe, The Yang-form is the product, the physical reality. Each of us- whether male or female or other IS a solar being empowered with god-energy & held together in existence through the invisible Goddess energy surrounding and coursing through us. We must remember not to get confused: Yang energy is not male, but male biology is associated with Yang (because the penis goes out) . Yin is not female, the female biology is associated with Yin (because the vagina goes in.)
    I work largely alone in my practice so I may not be representative of most, but IME, many in the witchcraft communities are moving away from the associations of black with bad and white with good to excommunicate those color-appellations from our pysche. But this is a long-standing point of contention inside the various communities.

    Regards,

    JR

  183. Well, Mr Greer … first of all, I finally decided to get out of the lurkdom again since the days of the Archdruid Report ( TBH the shift of focus from one blog to the other left me with not much to contribute to the discussion ), so … long time no see, I guess ?

    As someone of the other side of the pond, I was not aware that so much of the American left is LARPing Saruman ( thinking that they could use Sauron power for their own uses without further problems ), but then again, like others in the comments above, I’ve see enough self-described Christians LARPing Elijah ( or any other Old Testament prophet of choice ) and conjuring curses and “bindings” ( like the all mighty God would be forced to bend to a lowly human just because some chosen words were said… ) to be surprised. I remember specifically a man old enough to be my father that came to me as scared as if he had seen a Titanic full of ghosts because, due to a financial disagreement with the leader of his church, said leader had convened a select number of members to cast a curse on him … To my demerit, I just blurted to him that a human curse is only as powerful as the human that casts them and that , if you go by the Bible, God tends to not intervene in financial disputes between humans ( could had dealt with tis much better , in hindsight )

    That said, I, for myself, never really understood the tendency that people have to try to conjure powerful beings to do their bidding ,especially if that bidding is a nefarious one. Either the conjuring doesn’t work, for lack of powerful supernatural beings to be conjured ( the more materialistic explanation ) or due to defects in te conjuring itself, that actually is the best case scenario … or the conjuring works and you just brought to the arena a more powerful that you entity that is not exactly wholesome and that has a will of its own … a sure recipe for blowback ( or people really think they can try to control a evil leaning supernatural entity older,and more powerful than you and that this entity will not be at best miffed and at worst furious? ).

    I’m pretty sure that is, to get back to the OP topic, will happen to those LARPing Saruman in current America: either the One Ring they are seeking will not do much for them ( and will only make everyone else to tag them as people that , like a poster put above, are not desired in any respectable enviroment due to their displayed eagerness to do damage to others if the oportunity arises ) or they actually get their One Ring, but they end up unleashing problems to everyone, being themselves the first victim ( so, they aim to be Saruman and end as Gollum :/ ) . To their own good ( and the rest of the USA, I guess ), it is better that their attempts to be ineffectual and that they resume their cosen path of the fringe loonie that casts angry innefectual diatribes and curses against the Orange Man …

  184. Re: truthful Heathens, I did about a year of training with a Völva before becoming a Druid, so I know just a little bit about Heathenry–those with more experience, feel free to correct my errors.

    Truth and honor are two of the Nine Noble Virtues, a very widely (though not universally) accepted basic ethical code. Other concepts vital to the Heathen worldview are orlog, wyrd and haminja. Wyrd, IIRC, is personal fate, whereas orlog (something like karma) and haminja (luck) are passed down from the ancestors, influenced by our actions, and handed on to our descendants. That means that if a Heathen makes a promise and fails to keep it, it can affect not only her personal honor and fate but those of her ancestors and descendants as well. Worse yet, oaths taken over the horn in ritual enter the Well of Wyrd, and failure to keep those oaths will damage the fates and luck of the witnesses and other members of the kindred (it can also have a most unfortunate effect on one’s afterlife, according to the “Voluspa”). There is even a goddess, one of Frigg’s handmaidens, named Vár, who governs oaths, contracts, and promises.

    That the Heathens JMG has known are careful with their words stands very much to reason, given this worldview. I certainly take such matters a great deal more seriously than I did before studying Heathenry, the old (and perhaps forgotten now?) teaching “a Witch’s word is her bond” notwithstanding.

  185. If I were feeling naughty I think I would skip the demons and hire the djinn.

    “The jinn are distinguished from demons in that they can be both evil and good, while genuine demons are exclusively evil.”

    Amira El-Zein Islam, Arabs, and Intelligent World of the Jinn Syracuse University Press 2009 ISBN 9780815650706 page 100

    quoted at:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jinn

    They haven’t had much to do except video games and Disney Genies and would be happy to take a job where they could really show their usefulness.

  186. Cliff, I think it’s more complex than that; the assumption that weight is always a function of diet has been disproved repeatedly since the 1950s, though it’s profitable enough for the diet industry that it keeps getting recycled. The thing is, some parts of the Neopagan scene have decided negative effects on health. When I was in Seattle, it was axiomatic in one of the Wiccan traditions active there that if you received your Third Degree initiation, you were guaranteed to gain 100 pounds, lose your job, and go on disability. More generally, a stunningly large number of the Neopagans I know are on disability, and those whose life histories I know were not on disability when they got involved in Neopaganism. I’ve never been sure what to make of this, but it’s rather unnerving.

    JillN, a god who could create platypuses clearly has a sense of humor. As for crossdressing and so on, nah, I’ll pass.

    Scotlyn, I’m not sure why that never occurred to me, but of course you’re quite correct. Many thanks, btw, for your contribution to yesterday’s potluck; it was greatly enjoyed. We used it among other things to raise a toast to the memory of the late Shane W.

    Bogatyr, now that doesn’t surprise me for a moment. Good for OBOD!

    Scotlyn, excellent! Yes, exactly.

    Owen, and at this point Heathenry is well enough established that you don’t have to roll your own — you can pick up some books or even head on down to the local Heathen group and learn how to do it from those who have been into it for a while.

    Info, the Catholic church is in a crisis it may not survive. The root of the crisis, as I see it, is an institutionalized culture of abuse that pervades the hierarchy very nearly from top to bottom. By that I don’t just mean sexual abuse, btw. Back when I was head of AODA, I got to hear from a lot of people who’d left their birth religions; the former Protestants and Jews had a galaxy of different reasons why they’d quit those religions, but every single former Catholic who talked to me about their reasons for leaving the church cited really serious abuses of power on the part of clergy and religious, which were condoned and enabled by the rest of the hierarchy. If the Catholic church can’t get that under control, the other strains on it are such that I expect it to shatter into quarreling fragments within a generation, and most of those fragments will fade out of existence thereafter.

    In that case, the future of the Orthodox church in North America is very bright, as a lot of Catholics may well follow Dreher to Orthodoxy. One way or another, I expect Orthodox churches to do well here, and certain groups that left the Catholic church a while ago and have had stable histories since then (the Polish National Catholic Church is one example) might also thrive. If the Catholic church can get its act together — a process which will involve serious repentance, not just canned apologies and the attempt to pursue business as usual with minor fixes patched on — it could also do very well. It’s got very little time left, though.

    Patricia M, yep. Saturn is traditionally in his fall in Aries, and having any planet in its fall in your natal chart is a rough row to hoe.

    Will J, fascinating. That’s a good point.

    Will M, “Trumpop” sounds like a bright orange soda drink!

    Rita, thanks for this. The two workings you’ve described are to my mind sound, as both had well-chosen intentions — “let the person doing these things receive his due punishment.” As long as you’re willing to accept the blowback from that, and receive due punishment for any wrong you’ve done, that’s competent magic, and I’m not surprised that both had good results.

    Libertine, nah, it was your ignorant dismissal of magic, of course. It’s a source of wry amusement to me that so many people who claim to be non-conformists in other subjects are so quick to parrot the conventional wisdom on that one subject in particular, and go so far out of their way not to deal with actually nonconformist views concerning it, not to mention the data and experiences that back those views up.

    Onething, thank you. I’ll keep that in mind.

    DFC, of course he won’t. In the Orwellian world of the modern media, Obama deserves a Nobel peace prize because his administration committed war crimes, and Trump is really, truly Hitler because he’s to blame for detention camps that were established by Bill Clinton and expanded under Bush II and Obama.

    Curt, it’s entirely a matter of just how far the individual in person is willing to walk their talk. A middle class American who wanted to downshift to a quasimonastic lifestyle right now can do it; I know people who’ve done so, and embraced voluntary poverty in order to devote their lives to something other than the rat race. On the other hand, I know plenty of people who’ve failed to do so, and it’s always because they weren’t willing to give up some of the perks of their class status.

    BGHearns, excellent. From a Burkean perspective, of course, this makes a great deal of sense. Extremist groups of every stripe have notions of what human behavior ought to be that vary to a pretty fair extent from what human behavior is; as the mismatch between the two widens, the extremist inevitably turns to violence in order to force people to behave the way the extremist ideology says they should behave, since the alternative is to admit that the ideology is wrong. That’s why every Utopian scheme either implodes in short order or turns totalitarian; what makes a Utopia Utopian is precisely that in the Utopia, people aren’t supposed to act the way they always really do.

    Patricia, thanks for this!

    Jera Raido, no question, we’re in a period where established patterns dissolve and new ones take their place. Exactly what pieces will fall into what new patterns is a really good question that I don’t think anyone can answer yet, but it’s a straw in the wind that certain relatively widely accepted movements seem to be gearing up for a long period of marginalization. I have my own preferences, but of course history couldn’t care less…

    John, fair enough. How would you apply this?

    Ricardo, “larping Saruman” may just be the best description of the soi-disant Magical Resistance I’ve heard yet. Thank you!

    Sister Crow, thanks for this. That makes a good deal of sense.

    Your Kittenship, well, I can only speak for myself, but I had a great time. I didn’t get a head count, but I’d guess there were about 30 people there at the height of the party; plenty of food was eaten, plenty of beverages were imbibed, plenty of conversations happened, and things didn’t finally wind up until around midnight. So it was a success, and the host dropped some broad hints about doing it again next year.

  187. @Owen, that is just fascinating! And I’d encourage the guys to do just that. It is a paradox that the yang spirit that can be so dangerous to women is also so vitally important to us all. Whether it’s the guys forcing their ideals into women’s sacred space or the gals forcing theirs into men’s, the result is an imbalance.

    @Everyone, I’m wondering if it would actually be safer to be the sworn enemy of a witch casting spells than to be among his or her loved ones. Here’s a story from several years back. I had a dream I was with a friend and we were having some mild sort of fun when suddenly a dragon came roaring out between us with such speed and ferocity that I slashed at it to protect my friend, upon which it turned into my old bullsnake, who was shivering. I was woken at that moment, terrified I’d harmed him beyond repair, by the telephone and my husband snuffily getting up to answer it. It was 4:44 a.m. Shinobu says that’s a typical junior high bully curse. No voice on the other end. He knew of only one person with the motivation and character to do that, a rich powerful priestess with a negative attitude who is roundly hated and resents being upstaged by a foreigner and had divined a couple weeks before that 4:44 call that a disaster would befall me. That was May 2010, and if Shinobu’s right, potentially radioactive chunks of her family home 12 miles from Fukushima Daiichi are washing up on Vancouver Island. As she failed to prevent disaster, all but one of her disciples abandoned her. A few years later one of her daughters was taken at the age of about 30. I saw her briefly in May and shortly afterward got another 4:44 call. I wonder what’s happened to her this time.
    Carmen Blacker’s book The Catalpa Bow, said there is a fear in Japan of witches who are protected by a snake spirit. I’m glad to have that warning, and if that was my dear little bullsnake that did that, I have absolutely no business cursing anyone.

  188. Oh boy, I hope I can come next year!

    Why does Neopaganism cause weight gain & health problems?

  189. JMG

    “John, fair enough. How would you apply this?” You talking to me? I assume about mores?

    It would help if you stuck a K after John. There are too many. Two in my apartment, me and the one in the loo.

    I have found mores to be a useful package of thought when contemplating group think. The extremist groups described here all have there own individual mores.

    The worst part of this is when a person agrees to a set of strict rules then agrees to another set of rules and then another… They don’t know enough to unwind the agreements and end up in conflict and guilt. The evil ones have no such problems as they didn’t really agree anyway.

  190. Regarding Socialism, a famous French writer (who perished in the purge, I forget his name, he appears in Bulwer Lytton’s Zanoni), stopped and saw the writing on the wall “Fraternity or Death”. He paused, then said, “I will translate: ‘Love Me or I will kill you”.

  191. There is an interesting context to the Mark 9:40 quote “For whoever is not against us is for us”.

    In the chapter they had just been caught out talking about who among them was greater and Jesus gave them an illustration in humility and life attitude (35-37) … which is interestingly not normally conflated with the immediately following section (38-42)

    35,37 So he sat down and called the Twelve and said to them: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and minister of all.” “Whoever receives one of such young children on the basis of my name receives me also; and whoever receives me receives not me only but also Him who sent me.

    38-42 John said to him: “Teacher, we saw someone expelling demons by using your name, and we tried to prevent him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said: “Do not try to prevent him, for there is no one who will do a powerful work on the basis of my name who will quickly be able to say anything bad about me. For whoever is not us is for us. And whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, I tell you truly, he will by no means lose his reward. But whoever stumbles one of these little ones who have faith, it would be better for him if a millstone that is turned by a donkey were put around his neck and he were pitched into the sea.”

    The other passage (Matt 12:26-30) talks about whether the demons being cast out were going because of Satan casting out Satan (what his enemies were suggesting) or by the power of God (what Jesus was suggesting) and finishes with “Whoever is not on my side is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters”

    I would read it that the folks casting out demons in Jesus’ name in Mark (despite not having the right party credentials/being card carrying disciples) were on his side and gathering with him.

    The question then comes down to what counts as being on his side / doing it in his name? Does a druid who does something good through love (taking his name as his character) gather with the Christ or does he scatter because he failed to invoke the ‘right; deity in this context.

    Also from your experience … the bit where he says that Satan doesn’t cast out Satan vs Satan pretending to cast out Satan to give the bad guys some exorcism cred … any thoughts?

  192. JMG

    Oh, wait. Did you mean about the djinn?

    I would simply do it. Simply as in no rules, no mores. I don’t have a contract for them so this is moot. Without a need there is no flow. There needs to be a potential exchange.

    I don’t feel a need to ask permission to do good. If what I see as a needed good action turns out to be otherwise then I screwed up. No excuses.

    Above it was said “Carl Jung made the point in much of his writing that if one were to walk by a table of people, one wouldn’t take responsibility for everything that everyone said and the same is true inwardly.” I thought this strange. Is this a rule? Why should I not take responsibility for anything anywhere as I choose?

  193. About “feminizing” of Christianity and so-called “church ladies”, I am genuinely curious here.

    First, was not some variant of “feminizing” always alleged against Christianity? What do you mean we can’t have sex with our slaves, that is what we bought them for. Only one wife, what kind of religion is that? Long before the secular and over-sexed and underdressed 20thC, Moslem travelers to Europe were complaining about the exaggerated status of Christian women.

    Second, if you or someone you love is ever in need of assistance, you better hope that the person to whom they or you have to appeal is a “church lady” as opposed to some supercilious functionary at the Social Services office.

    What is it with (mostly conservative) men of the present day and this star of my own movie, have to be The One In Charge attitude? Why is doing well the work God places in front of you and taking care of your loved ones not enough for you? Ora et labora, guys, and you might find that what you gain in respect from persons whose respect is worth having more than makes up for the loss of being the most important person in the room.

  194. John Kincaid says:
    June 23, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    “mores distinguish the difference between right and wrong, while folkways draw a line between right and rude”.

    Thanks for sharing this reminder. I probably need to work on improving both.

  195. @Will M.
    Re: Matthew quotes

    Please read the entire passage, beginning with “I come not to bring peace, but the sword.” It’s easy to misinterpret single verses if you don’t look at the context.

  196. @Scotlyn

    “David Graeber talks about the “stupidness” of violence. If you can’t be bothered learning enough of another person’s ways, interests, values to usefully negotiate with them for mutual benefit, you can often short cut your way to their compliance, without knowing anything about them, by threatening or using violence. But once you’ve done that, you’d better not turn your back or fall asleep even once, or you’ll find out the appearance of compliance is only skin deep.”

    How did Stalin seem to have no problems in this regard? He seemed to have died peacefully.

  197. @JMG

    “In that case, the future of the Orthodox church in North America is very bright, as a lot of Catholics may well follow Dreher to Orthodoxy. One way or another, I expect Orthodox churches to do well here, and certain groups that left the Catholic church a while ago and have had stable histories since then (the Polish National Catholic Church is one example) might also thrive. ”

    How is Orthodoxy more enduring than Protestantism? Does protestantism have to become more sacramental in order to endure like the Orthodox?

  198. I didn’t mean to imply that healthy people are thin people. I’ve met heavy people who exude health, and skinny people who are prone to flus, colds, and accidents.

    My underlying thinking is that we’re incarnate beings – physicality is part of our existence. So I would say part of our basic set of responsibilities is to attend to the needs of physicality, as far as we’re able.

    What I observed in these activist and Wiccan groups were people who only indulged their wants – candy and cake and cigarettes and video games, and so they had great difficulty grappling with their quality of health. The notion of taking up any of the disciplines involved in incarnate life seemed upsetting to them. (And there did seem to be something a little magical about the ill health of some of the Wiccans.)

    I feel like this ties into the original topic, just as one’s choice of clothes do. If a person wants to radically overhaul society through politics, they may have more success if they communicate health and happiness, rather than helpless addiction to the many available vices. And if people are looking for curse-throwing witches, it may be unwise to be foul-tempered and sickly.

  199. Patricia O, that’s a great example of blowback. Thank you.

    Your Kittenship, I have no idea. All I know is that certain traditions of it reliably seem to do so.

    John K, fair enough. Yes, I was asking about mores, and encouraging you not simply to introduce a concept, but explain how you see it fitting into the discussion. Thank you for doing that.

    Arkansas, a fine translation! And of course that’s exactly the problem; the bigger the gap between the grubby reality of human behavior and the grand ideals being promoted by radicals of all stripes, the more horrific the violence the radicals will end up using in a frantic attempt to force people to abide by the ideals.

    Info, most Protestant denominations in the US, on all points along the spectrum from pulpit-pounding right to mushy left, have abandoned anything actually spiritual in favor of political pandering and one or another kind of moral one-upsmanship. The former mainstream of liberal Protestantism is imploding rapidly, to the extent that some very large denominations may be completely gone in fifty years at the current rate of contraction, while the conservative Protestantism that supplanted it has gone down the other side of the same road and is starting to hemorrhage members as people get tired of sermons that are all about who to hate and who to vote for. A Protestant denomination that got completely out of the politics business, made it a public part of their message that they’re not going to tell you who to vote for or drag you into the political and cultural crusades of left and right, and focused entirely on helping people get right with Jesus through prayer, Bible study, and worship on Sunday, would probably do very well indeed…but they’d have to buck half a century or more of institutional momentum to get there, and I don’t see it happening.

    Cliff, fair enough — thanks for the clarification. That seems very reasonable.

  200. @Lady Cutekitten: In my limited experience, it’s not an ironclad link. I knew one lady in her 60s who was lean and vibrant, and would go on walking pilgrimages across Spain.

    As for the unhealthy ones, I suspect that they were drawn to Wicca as a means of escape. My guess is if you combine magical adventurism with a refusal to deal with personal problems, the universe starts backing up dump trucks full of manure to your front door.

    But I may be acting uncharitably here.

  201. “A Protestant denomination that got completely out of the politics business, made it a public part of their message that they’re not going to tell you who to vote for or drag you into the political and cultural crusades of left and right, and focused entirely on helping people get right with Jesus through prayer, Bible study, and worship on Sunday, would probably do very well indeed”

    Apart from the specifically protestant tag that sound a bit like the JWs!

  202. @JMG: Again, I meant no disrespect, and I’m sorry if I offended. My issue is not with the fact that people believe in magic or practice it. My issue is with people who rely on magic to fix their problems *instead* of taking more practical steps to do so.

    I grew up around family members who wasted money on lottery tickets all the time, out of the belief that if they prayed hard enough, they’d be granted a win. I’ve heard stories of parents who’ve let their children die from easily curable diseases, because they belonged to religious sects that prohibited modern medicine on the grounds that God should be the only one to decide who lives or dies. I remember when the Iraq War broke out and Cardinal Ratzinger – the man who would become Pope two years later – wrote an essay about how war is neither good nor evil, but simply an inevitable result of Man’s fallen state, and how Catholics should focus purely on spiritual matters rather than spending their time opposing the very real evil of war. (Of course, when it came to abortion, he was 100% on board with Catholics getting involved in politics and focusing their energy on worldly evils. Convenient how that works out!) So yes, if someone is willing to put in the effort of hexing their political opponents, but not willing to actually go out and vote, or get involved in any other kind of tangible political action, then I consider them part of the problem.

  203. I do think it is worth pointing out that Socialism and Capitalism are not the only options, and indeed, that humans have organised their trading activities, their work activities, their making activities, and their shared projects, in thousands of other ways, that bear no close relationship to either.

    That is to say, it is possible to imagine alternatives to Capitalism that are not Socialism.

    And, indeed, it is necessary.

    Because the worm that holds the image of the Wendigo, deep in the heart of Capitalism, is the imperative to be protected at all costs, that Capital Must Grow.

    Growing capital without end requires the endless consuming of Nature without ever being satisfied.

  204. @info Are you under the impression that Stalin carried out all the violence that occurred under his regime in person? He had a large coterie of functionaries whose job was to make sure the regime, as a whole, never “turned its back, or fell asleep”.

  205. John Roth –

    Thanks, in the light of those passages of Matthew that you cited, I’m not sure how you think I’m misinterpreting the passages I cited. I’m always open to correction. 😎

  206. John, good point about the hermit stage in the development of monasticism. I can see how Christian monasticism developed to the desert fathers from out of the anchorites, etc. I can also imagine how some folks can and will become hermits in the coming dark age.

  207. Re: Protestant denominations

    For a few years I attended Quaker meetings. I appreciated the opportunity for silent worship and meditation and in reading some of George Fox’s writings, (founder of The Society of Friends) I saw someone who had had profound spiritual experiences. However, it’s a little hard to pin down exactly what modern Quakers who practice ‘unprogrammed worship’ actually believe; I was told at my first meeting that Quakers are not even in agreement on the nature of Jesus, which strikes me as a fairly foundational issue. Nonetheless, they make a point of enthusiastically supporting every social justice issue that comes down the pike these days. It’s a really small denomination that’s probably destined to stay pretty much that way – after all, if it’s social activism you’re craving, why do you need to go to a church? Plenty of outside organizations don’t make you sit in silence for an hour each week.

    Re: the picnic

    I was only able to stay for a short while, but it was so wonderful to meet, face-to-face, people whose comments I’ve read online. I hope that next year I can come for longer. And to those who mentioned that an end-of-summer/autumnal equinox get-together in rural Vermont sounds like fun, get in touch and I’ll see if I can organize something for next year. For all who knew I left early to attend my cousin’s nearby wedding: the event was lovely, the weather was glorious, and we’re so glad to have Matthew’s new wife, Rhynn, as a part of our extended family. Now, if at least one of my sons would just get married . . . .

  208. Lady Cutekitten and any others interested:
    The third Annual Ecosophia Midsummer Potluck will be held on:
    June 20, 2020 from 2:00 PM until the neighbors complain.
    The house behind the Charles Dexter Ward Mansion.
    The Solstice will be at 17:43 EDT, so any rites one might need to perform may be held in our yard.

  209. Luke 9:50
    But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

    – Referring to those who cast out demons in Jesus’ name…

    Matthew 12:30
    He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

    – Referring to those who operate under the power of Satan.

    If you are not allied to Christ, especially if that is an intentional, conscious decision, then you fall into the “against Me” camp.
    Especially in light of Matthew 10:34-39:

    “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

    And even further, in James 4:4:

    Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

    So it is very honest to say, that Christ says to non-Christians, you are either with me or against me. If you are not allied with Christ, you are literally a “child of wrath”, see Ephesians 2:1-3:

    And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

    Modern evangelists have done a great job of turning Christ into some kind of eager recruiter. But the plain sense of Scripture is, you’re damned, until you pledge your allegiance to Christ. Yes, Christ will take you, but only once you cross the “picket line” as it were. And Christ has no silly ideas about the world turning to him. He knows he will throw many into the lake of fire (Revelation 20) and he knows that only “his sheep” will hear his voice (John 10).

    I was raised Christian fundamentalist. Through personal experience I know I am not one of his sheep. But when it comes to the Christian message I know it good and well, and those of you who want to deny what I have said have drunk too deeply of the kool-aid of modern Christianity.

  210. @JMG, Nastarana, Info, et al, re: the feminization of Christianity and the future of the Orthodox in America:

    These are two separate discussions in the comments thread, but I think they are related. Not least because Eastern Orthodox is (I believe) the only Christian denomination in the US where the gender ratio skews slightly male:

    https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/religious-tradition/orthodox-christian/

    I’ve seen this referred to as the “pantyhose quotient”.

    There’s been a lot of internal speculation about why this is the case, but if you’ve been part of a busy Orthodox parish long enough, you’ve likely seen it in action: new catechumens arrive, mostly guys, some of them (again, mostly guys) join the church with great convert enthusiasm. Sometimes they bring the wife and kids (with somewhat less enthusiasm) along with them. Often the wife will join up after taking a bit longer to think about it. Sometimes several years to think about it. Why does the OC appeal to men more than to women? We’re not sure (there are a lot of theories). But we’re fairly certain it’s a good sign for the near future of the church. We also skew slightly younger than most denominations.

    It’s not all looking bright. We have a lot of the same problems as other denominations: the kids go off to college and never come back to church, there are far more people on the membership rolls than there are in the nave during liturgy, etc. We may pat ourselves on the back that we don’t have “the Catholic problem” but we still have our share of scandal and corruption.

    If the Orthodox have a future in the US it is because we haven’t become modern materialists yet. That pattern is clear among the Protestants: those who get with the times, modernize, jump on every political bandwagon, and basically don’t believe in any of that supernatural stuff anymore… those churches are dying. If you go to a church and find a vibrant parish life and a lot of young families with kids there, chances are really, really good they also hold to traditional teachings. That’s traditional about God, angels, demons, miracles, and the virgin birth. That’s traditional sexual ethics, traditional music, and traditional liturgical forms: For Christians, at least, those things are a package deal. Once you start trying to pull apart one thread or another (eh, we’re too modern to still buy a silly thing like *that*, or maybe let’s add a guitar and sing contemporary music to get the teens in the door…), the whole garment unravels.

    As our dear host likes to point out: there is power–*magic*– in the old liturgies. It is why I became Orthodox: I could feel it. It was something real, and big, and I wanted to be a part of it. I’d glimpsed it in the Gospels, but never seen it in a church before, and it was glorious.

    That power is weakened when you modernize (or dispense with!) the liturgy, when those leading it don’t believe what they’re saying. And I’d bet it’s also lost when the *whole* community– men, women, and children– are no longer part of it. You’d be silly to underestimate the power of a bunch of devout old ladies, mind, but… imagine what a united, truly whole, church could be!

  211. Dear John Michael Greer:

    Thank you as always for your profound insight, this post and the comments section have been percolating in my mind the past few days which has made me reflect on my own flight to the fringes (relax, I’d never touch malevolent magic nor demonolatry, not even for one million dollars and 93 cents). Thankfully I’ve never had any allergic reaction to Jesus, so I’ve always been drawn to those magical traditions which could compliment my Anglicanism (e.g. Dion Fortune and Gareth Knight, certain branches of the Golden Dawn, Druidry, Anthroposophy, etc.). It has gradually dawned on me recently that in my attempts to make my esoteric studies “respectable” that I have transitioned over the years from conformist Democrat to High Tory/Red Tory distributist. Admititly a fringe position itself, but one which I’d like to think has made me largly immune from the insanity found on both sides of covential American politics; made makes finding fellow Pagan-friendly (Anglo-)Catholic hippie/hobbit Hermeticists difficult offline.

    I understand your critique concerning convential socialism, my hope that when the dust settles that disillusioned people on the left and the right would start to explore third way alternatives such as distruibutism, guild socialism, social credit, or any of the other models you’ve mentioned previously. I’d like to see something along the lines of Benjamin Disraeli’s one-nation conservatism take place in our Union; but I see two problems a) our upper-middle class lacks noblesse oblige, and b) our society is highly individualized, and some folks don’t like to be patronized with a pat on the head.

    I look forward to see what results will come of quasimonasticism not only with Pagans and Polythists, but also within the Western Mystery Tradition. This made me think of the fraternity of the Rosy Cross mentioned in the Rosicrucian manifestos, whose members lived a quasimonastic lifestyle, healed for gratis, and wore no unique habit. As much as I like the lodge system something like this may be more likley in the future.

    I’m afraid your diagnosis concerning the fate of Protestantism in North America may be accurate; Continuing Anglicans and Confessional Lutherans may stand a better chance, but I wonder about where those of us who affirm women’s ordination, same-sex relationships, and religious pluralism, but are otherwise theologically and liturgically orthodox and bemoan modernism will go? I’m open to quasimonasticim/new monasticism, and house churches/farm churches. I quess I should start making plans to become an Anglican Rite/Christian Hermetic hermit.

    I’ve rambled long enough, and fear I may have gone off topic at certain points, if so I offer my sincere apologies. Keep up the excellent work, I always look forward to your next installments. Happy (belated) Midsummer, and blessed St. John’s Day.

    Sincerely,
    Christopher Kildare.

  212. JMG – Re: Protestant denominations … My little ELCA Lutheran church has, in the last year or so, agreed to a statement something like this (which is quoted from the Wikipedia article “ReconcilingWorks”:

    ReconcilingWorks’s mission statement reads: “Working at the intersection of oppressions, ReconcilingWorks embodies, inspires, advocates and organizes for the acceptance and full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities within the Lutheran communion and its ecumenical and global partners.”

    This is not a statement agreed to by all congregations within the ELCA, by the way. We assert it as a Christ-like welcome to everyone (as in, even tax collectors and prostitutes), but I can also read it as the kind of “political pandering and one or another kind of moral one-upsmanship” that you describe. I guess the ambiguity can only be resolved by the experience people have when they participate: is it meditation upon the ancient texts and celebration of the mystery of faith through the Eucharist, or is it out looking for the next oppressed group to rescue? In any congregation, I suppose you’ll find something of each, depending on who you talk to. When I present the chalice with the words “the blood of Christ, shed for you, ” I’m taking part in the mystery.

  213. Re: the habit of Neopagans becoming ill of health and living on Disability:

    We’re probably looking at the crossroads of Attraction Science and Chaos Magic. The person would ask to never “work for The Man” ever again; 100 pounds and enough health problems to make the asker qualify for SSD later the asker gets what they asked for.

  214. @owen, you said “As far as Xtianity goes, it’s hopelessly feminized to the point where even I don’t really want anything to do with it. Churches full of church ladies.”

    A number of people have offered different answer to you point, and I’m not sure I understand what your issue is. Is it the presence of women? Women in power? Women having expectations about your behavior? Men in power expecting you to follow in the same way the women do?

    I would be very surprised if you could not find a protestant denomination that prohibited women from “teaching”, and other leadership roles. Historically speaking, both Catholic and Protestant churches have had mostly male power structures. Women have been confined to support roles, like cleaning, fund-raising, occasional singing, and making new members.

    However, I’d like to point out that just because the power structure excludes women, this will not make the women go away. You still have to deal with them one way or the other.

  215. JMG; Something happened today that makes me feel deeply ashamed. I was in my room reading ecosophia and my brother came to the door in his wheelchair to tell me that someone was knocking at the back door. I began the process of getting up and making my way through the house thinking it was probably my neighbor with some fresh eggs or tomatoes which she delivers to our back door not infrequently. When it is her, though, I can hear her golf cart running even when I can’t see it through the laundry room window. I hesitated about opening the door, but there was another sharp rap and I unbolted the door and opened it to a young man I had never seen before. He was a somewhat smallish chap with a mop of curly brown hair with highlights made by the sun. He had a friendly enough demeanor but a slight speech impediment. He didn’t give his name but immediately launched into what it was that he wanted. He said he had walked most of the twenty miles from the county seat in this 97 degree South Alabama sun. He needed a telephone to call someone to come and take him the other eight miles of so to the next town.
    I never even considered asking him in or offering him a drink of cool water! I reflexively explained that I only have a landline phone and that I was waiting for a call from the physical therapist for my older brother who is a bed patient. All of that was true, but it was no excuse my not helping this young man. When my pickup truck died at the dollar store last Halloween, no less than three people stopped to ask me if they could help or give me a lift somewhere. Two of the three were complete strangers. (At the time I had and older flip phone so I had already called a friend to help, but I no longer have that phone.)
    The stranger said that he understood my situation completely but with a wave of his left arm indicating neighboring houses he inquired if I might know of anyone who might me able to help him. I pointed across the broad expanse of green lawn to the house of the neighbor who brings us eggs and told him that that house is the home of a retired policeman who would probably help him.
    With that he thanked me and turned and started walking straight toward my neighbor’s house. The last I saw of him was the sweat on the leathery tanned skin of his lower legs–he was wearing pants that came well below the knee–as he walked into the shade of the enormous oak tree at the edge of our yard. I was thankful at that moment for the cooling breeze and the only shade he had probably felt all day.
    As I reflect on this I cannot explain my behavior. I was raised to help anyone who sincerely asked if there was any way possible. (to be cont’d)

  216. Info, when Stalin had a stroke most of the Politburo were too terrified to go anywhare near him, and the others let it play out, waiting for their chance at the top job. He died slowly in a pool of his own fluids.

  217. You just might have a point about platypuses. I have never seen one in the wild but then we have never really lived near a meaningful creek.

  218. Mr. Greer,

    It was great meeting you and your readers this weekend. Glad you appreciated my warped sense of humor (reparations insurance… “you’re good!”), and thanks for the advice on writing music for the next civilization (acid free paper, simple version of western polyphony, understanding it won’t be understood the way I do but will help inspire something wonderful.)

    It was just really nice to spend time who share certain observations. It was a really wholesome gathering. Good people.

    Wish we could do them more often.

    Thank you to our host, too!!!!

  219. Jessi Thompson, thank you for your kind words. I was prepared for a pretty hostile response to that admission, which I suppose is pretty standard with questions of social acceptance – sometimes, mainstream acceptance requires compromising our personal integrity, but other times, it only seems that way beforehand.

  220. Thanks for the answer from last Magic Monday! I did read the Mabinogion, but not the Book of Invasions. My impression of the current situation in the Western world is that not only is politics undergoing a shift, but religion, too, depending on location and the particular religion involved.

  221. In two days I will be 67 years old. I have never lived my life in fear of my fellow man and I am here rededicating the time I have left to honoring the core principles of my upbringing. Here, approaching the final years of life, I return to the teachings of my childhood and youth.

    I have for several months wanted to ask you to please get Mrs. Greer to give her assessment of the “Salvator Mundi” since she and I share similar educational backgrounds. With my being the caregiver of two disabled and totally housebound brothers, I never found the time to do the post.
    Just the day before my brother was watching a segment on TV news about the attribution to Leonardo and one of the experts said that the highlights on the curls of hair framing Christ’s head showed the master’s hand.
    When I opened the door to the young man he was standing on the ground and leaning forward and holding the hand rail with his left hand as if to rest. There are three steps up to the door and I am above average height and he was barely average so I was looking down on him and the dappled sunlight coming through the magnolia tree behind the house framed his face and caught the highlights of his curls of hair. I guess people who have studied art, see the world somewhat differently and I don’t mean to say that I got this sense in the moment, but it has come to me only in writing this.
    I have thought so much about the Salvator Mundi and to have this real world connection can only make me think that my visitor was a messenger. My only question is did I “get” it or did I fail miserably.

  222. John MG: You’ve written what might be the most important essay in many years. I hope that its length will not deter its complete reading, especially by those whose understanding is most important to us.

    You and I are not acquainted, so I will only ask you to consider my personal information without prejudice. I am personally acquainted with Rod Dreher — I’ve had the privilege of in-person converse with him, and we have a level of trust in each other one might be surprised to see between a devout Christian and a modern Pagan — and you are spot on accurate about the flaws in his writing. However, I only ask that you keep in mind the audience to whom he writes. He is better informed of some things than you saw in his writing. I am a sort of loyal opposition on his blog, and he has on occasion come to me with questions for which he listens respectfully to the answers.

    Tara Burton I’ve only met once, and I had an intimate conversation with her and her fiance during which she demonstrated an open and inquisitive mind. I offer no mitigating comments to her or Rod’s writing. Indeed, I’d hope they read your essay and find much food for thought.

    Be well,
    Franklin Evans
    Philadelphia Pagan Pride and Delaware Valley Pagan Network

  223. @JMG

    yes, I presupposed willingness to sacrifice the lavish lifestyles of today, today.

    It’s probably also a difference between Western Europe and the USA, because in Europe you cannot buy a property as easily, a good share of the middle class do live in apartments. Land is more expensive and valuable than in the US, on average. That’s why Detroit could not happen in Western Europe – to abandon a large tract of land doesn’t really happen, land is too profitable.

    My question was more aimed at the question, how will one earn money in this future, even if little?
    To abandon a middle class job without any blue collar skills, means probably taking a service job.

    To remain at the office desk of a middle class job in say, business administration, means to risk losing
    everything pretty fast, at once, and with dire consequences.

    So what I really wondered was how in times of crisis is it possible to gain the little resource it needs from
    outside to live a moderate lifestyle, which of course does not include flying, lavish holidays, a car, exotic
    foods, electronic gadgets and all those things that will surely become obsolete and unreachable for most of us, and are obsolete already for those people I mean?

    What will be the good and feasible compromise of tomorrow, in terms of earning a living according to your guess?
    .

  224. HI Peter Van Erp,

    I like the hours 😄 and really hope we can make it! I already marked the calendar! Bless you for being willing to host a big party! Is there a rain date or do you just move to a nearby restaurant if it rains? If so I hope you move to Eat-and-Park. E & P is the only chain we DON’T have around here so Son & I always stop when we pass thru Pennsylvania on our way to the East Coast. E & P had it all over Bob Evans even when Bob Evans was good; sadly, Bob Evans was sold to vulture capitalists not long ago & now it’s terrible.

  225. Darkest Yorkshire–your tale of Stalin’s death reminded me of a story told by a roommate who had attended Catholic schools her whole life. Once when she was about 8 she was alone in the school hall when she saw one of the nuns slip and fall. She told me she wanted to help, but turned and ran the other way because she wasn’t sure she was allowed to touch a nun, even to help her. The shadow side of power for sure. Years later she still recalled the conflict.

  226. I forget if I’m allowed to ramble on this week or if it’s next week, but just in case, I finished the book I was writing. I can’t start typing it till next week because the computer died & I don’t get paid till the 1st. But I wrote it! (Literally; I can’t think at a typewriter or computer which is why I have to type it.). I had such fun I started writing another book w/the same cast. So if you’ve ever thought about doing the same, give it a try!

  227. Warren, oh, granted. The JWs are doing fairly well these days, I believe; if they were closer to the Protestant mainstream I suspect they’d be huge.

    Libertine, fair enough — and yes, I noted Cardinal Ratzinger’s convenient evasion. As I’ve pointed out many times, magic is not a substitute for action on the material plane; nor, equally, is it something you turn to when your material actions have failed. It’s when you combine physical and metaphysical actions, working in outer and inner modes at the same time, that magic becomes an immense source of power.

    Scotlyn, I ain’t arguing at all. I tend to favor democratic syndicalism, for example, above either of those.

    Justin, exactly. Historically speaking, nearly all monastic movements that are viable over the long term evolve naturally out of the experiences of individual hermits.

    Beekeeper, the sad thing is that the Quakers started out as a movement to put spiritual experience at the center of Christian worship. I hope there are some meetings that still do that — but yeah, the ones I’ve interacted with are deep into the outward show of currently fashionable moral stances.

    Peter, thanks for this!

    DT (if I may), you may not be remembering that Protestant Christian fundamentalism is one small and highly idiosyncratic offshoot of the broader Christian tradition, and many other branches of that tradition that are far older and larger have their own take on Christ…

    Methylethyl, exactly. The old liturgies were created by people who knew what they were doing — who understood the reality of the spiritual realm and knew how to work with its forces. Modern liturgies cobbled together by people who think the sacrament of the Mass is just a community meal are gutless and lifeless by comparison.

    Christopher, oh, granted! Distributism, guild socialism, democratic syndicalism, and more — all the options that were shoved out of sight by the struggle to the death between state-funded capitalism (the US model) and Marxian socialism (the USSR model) are worth a second look. I’d encourage those interested in such things to drop the term “socialism,” though, as it’s been poisoned by history; “distributism” doesn’t have that problem, and some of the others could easily be renamed. As for your broader point, if you want to see a sacramental and spiritually effective Protestant Christianity that’s still socially liberal, start advocating publicly for that — I suspect you’ll get more of a response than you expect, though it may be a long time before the churches come on board.

    Your Kittenship, I have to agree. Brace for turbulence…

  228. @ Everyone

    My apologies but a hypotheical/rhetorical question just sprang into mind; and this could probably be saved for the next Magic Monday, but I felt it was somewhat relevent to this week’s post. A friend is seriously interested in traditional Wicca/BTW, in part because she sees it as a form of Pagan Hermeticism/Neoplatonism (she likes the fact that it’s the “Golden Dawn taken outdoors” or “Freemasonry for hippies”). She’s read several books by Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, Patricia Crowther, Steward and Janet Farrar, and virtually every book by Dion Fortune, and of course our gracious host John Michael Greer. Her first textbook is Valiente’s “Witchcraft for Tomorrow,” and when the time is ready she would like to either join a Gardnerian coven or start her own based on the materials I mentioned. Finally, she wants to avoid the whole Magical Resistance movement, and in terms of magical virtue-ethics is heavly on the “Dion Fortune” end of the spectrum. What advice if any would I relay to her? Again, this is a rhetorical question, my sincere apologies for any inconvenience. Mat the blessings and protection of the Boundless Mystery be upon you all.

    Sincerely,
    Christopher Kildare.

  229. Violet, my post on the blog entry you link is not yet posted by their moderator. I found the writing of Steve Skojec to be hand-wringing at best, and mostly ignorant of the history of his own Church in Europe.

  230. HI Violet,

    I think syncretism or war will happen wherever people of differing religions meet. I prefer the syncretism.

  231. @ DT
    Like you, I was raised an evangelical fundamentalist.

    “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

    Somewhere along the way, it became clear to me that a God who asks me to cultivate enmity with the world is not a God I can follow.

    The call of the world is the call of myself, and I can no more reject it than I can stop being who I am.

  232. Lathechuck, granted. If I was in the market for a church to attend, I’d want one that’s cool with a diverse congregation, but pieces of jargon such as “working at the intersection of oppressions” would be big flashing red lights to me. No, I’m not looking for a place where straight white guys run things — I’d be interested in attending a church to practice religion, not to listen to lectures about who to vote for and how I’m personally responsible, because of my skin color, gender, and sexual orientation, for everything bad that ever happened to anybody anywhere.

    Godozo, that won’t get you disability in most US jurisdictions; you need either a serious health condition or a corrupt doctor, preferably both. Still, your broader point stands.

    Ronnie, er, so noted — but how is this relevant to the subject of this week’s post?

    JillN, I’ve never seen one in person, which I regret. Any animal that goofy looking deserves an appreciative audience.

    Nothing Special, thank you. I also enjoyed our conversation and the event generally. As for having them more often, that’s up to individuals who choose to organize such things — that’s not something I’m good at, so I leave it to those who are.

    Booklover, I definitely recommend the Book of Invasions. It’ll give you a good sense of the very different Irish flavor of myth.

    Franklin, thank you for this. I know Dreher is writing for an audience that has little patience with, or tolerance for, the sort of thing I write — thus I don’t expect an answer from him. His essay simply made a very helpful launching point for mine.

    Curt, the route that seems to work for a lot of people is to stay in the middle class job for a while but downshift your expenses significantly, even though that means you’re going to get a lot of pushback from your peers. Give up the middle class lifestyle now, sock away the difference between what you make and what you spend, and use that to get yourself the training you need to be able to thrive in a niche market providing goods or services that people actually want or need.

    Violet, “syncretism” is another word for what people normally do with religion unless forced to do otherwise — that is to say, adapting the religious tradition they practice to deal with the actual spiritual environment in which they live. Obviously, as a polytheist, I’m in favor of it. The one place where Dreher has my sympathy is when he points to the video produced by the Anglican cathedral and notes that it nowhere mentions God or Jesus — presumably any Christian church of any flavor ought to at least make room for these…

    Your Kittenship, regular posters here generally have a little freedom to ramble. Your special privilege, though, is that on Open Post weeks you can link to a picture of a cute kitten; nobody else gets to do that.

    Christopher, as I don’t have any but the most casual connection with the Wiccan/BTW scene, I have no idea. Anyone else?

    Scotlyn (if I may), thank you for this — you’ve just brought to mind something interesting. The quote you cite makes it clear that God is the enemy of the world. Now think of all that rhetoric about Man the Conqueror of Nature — which makes Man, that mythical being, also the enemy of the world. So Man replaces God as the world’s enemy…

  233. Dear Franklin Evans,

    Thanks for this! that’s a very, very good point.

    Dear Lady Cutekitten of Lolcat,

    Hear hear! My thought is that Christ is clearly a real, good, divine being. But so are the Olympians, the Orishas, and the Loa! My thought is let everyone worship the deities who call them and let their neighbors do as they will.

  234. If we’re getting a cute kitten on the open post, I think for the sake of balance, there needs to be a picture of a puppy too. I have one ready, so can I plan to provide the link next week? 😉

  235. @JMG and Scotlyn,

    It was always my impression that the ‘hate the world’ thing, and the ‘be in the world but not of it’ thing were in reference to the venal human cultural/social/civilizational world, NOT the natural world, the Creation. We are to cherish the Creation, and see the glory of God in it, and all that good stuff.

    However, we are not to worship the Creation over the Creator, and that’s where it gets fuzzy. Anyway, a few years (decades?) ago there was a quasi-environmentalist Christian movement – something like ‘Stewardship’ or some such.

    In any case, I don’t think the Bible teaches hatred of the natural world – that is the work of wack-job theologians and god-botherers and what have you.

    That is my take on it, anyway.

  236. “you’ve just brought to mind something interesting. The quote you cite makes it clear that God is the enemy of the world. Now think of all that rhetoric about Man the Conqueror of Nature — which makes Man, that mythical being, also the enemy of the world. So Man replaces God as the world’s enemy…”

    In traditional Christianity ‘the world’ is not talking about nature (God having made the joint and calling it ‘very good’, JC incarnating, creation groaning under the sons of disobedience, Adam placed in the Garden to cultivate it and take care of it etc) but rather the world system seen as belonging to Satan.

    – Cristian likes flowers enmity with God
    – Flower sees a Christian flower hates person
    – Christian embraces a popular position that is diametrically opposed to God = aligning yourself with God’s enemy = placing yourself in a bad place (ref friendship with the world is enmity with God etc)

    The Christ told a number or parables where God’s opinion of individual men was based around their stewardship of what was given to them and the Old Testament has some less than subtle things to say about people who misuse their land and people so the Christians don’t get a mystical get out of jail free card just because their attendance at meetings is good and they mouth the right words…

    That being said the planet would get by just fine without the people … the people without the planet not so much…

  237. Hi Violet,

    I was considering your problem, you mentioned you look like what people imagine a witch to look like. Were you referring to your facial bone structure, which would be expensive to change? Or did you mean your clothes? If the latter, you could maybe start replacing an item at a time here and there in advance of any backlash. Right now Christianity is still uncool in the U.S. for the most part.

  238. The arrogance of the people hexing President Trump is of more than a little amusement to me.

    Not only is the personal power, Hamingja in Old Norse of someone like him off the scale but he is protected by legions of his own supporters , sorcerers and probably a god or two (Kek and possibly Jehova)

    A few covens of mediocre warlocks or witches with a little training are about as likely to bother him is being mobbed by preschoolers

  239. JMG – I also gagged over that “intersection of oppressions” jargon, but apart from that, I’m delighted to see the diversity that we’ve added since putting a rainbow sticker on the window by the door. Our restrooms have been relabeled from “men” and “women” to “just use whichever you want, and lock the door behind you”. However, we have also seen people come and go who cannot abide such a welcome.

    At a church pot-luck dinner, a young man told me this story. A few years earlier, he told his mother that he thought he was probably an atheist. “Are you sure you’re not just gay?” she responded. He is gay, but the topic had never come up before. I am not gay, but I was happy to be welcoming him into our church at that time. I’d rather have an atheist in worship, where the spirit might speak to him, than anywhere else on Sunday morning.

    As it happens, our previous organist has moved to a brighter career, and our regular substitute pianist needs to take a day off, so we will be worshipping to guitar music in a few days. I’d rather have modest music led from within the community than hire an outside musician with more technical ability, but no relationship with the church. It’s the guitar “because we need it and we can do it”, not “because it will appeal to those people we need”, and I think that’s a big difference.

    From time to time, when I have the chance to express an opinion on a matter of liturgy (worship practice), I say “Keep the Church weird, Pastor. If we can’t transcent rationality, what are we doing here?”

  240. Christopher-re WIcca–Most BTW groups stick with the rules against cursing/hexing. They usually require at least a year of study before initiation, so you should have time to get a feel for the ethics, politics, etc. of your prospective group. Instruction should be in person for that reason–there is a great deal of difference between reading lessons and actually meeting with people. Ask around for leads to groups–occult stores where they still exist, Facebook groups for your area, etc Meetup is another resource. Witchvox. too. Good luck.

  241. I am using “pagan” in the broad sense of ethnic folk-religions all over the world.

    One big problem with neopagans is that they have long conflated “witch” with “pagan”. They act like actual “pagans” past and present all went around doing magic and acting like witches. This is not how it works. People don’t typically think of their religious practices as magic, even if there is similarity. Most pagans were historically suspicious of magic, especially of the malicious sort. Curses and hexes(if discovered) were punishable offenses in most pagan societies(remember Apuleius). Try telling that to these neopagans that are getting into “demonolatry” and cursing.

    It serves Christian ends to conflate witches and pagans. The Christians were the ones who wanted to make that association and drive it into people’s minds because witches were considered suspicious at best and malicious at worst in pagan societies. The old trick of “your gods were just sorcerers” also tied into that. One heathen belief in particular was that witches could devour a man from the inside with a curse, making him waste away. The Christians also worked to associate worship at ancestral burial sites(usually the big mounds) with “witchcraft” to demonize the practice. Instead of making offerings to ancestors, the Christians claimed the practice was intended to summon evil spirits. Burial mounds over time went from meeting and contemplation places to shunned places, considered haunts of ghosts and monsters. If pagans really liked witchcraft, those would not have been good strategies.

    I have seen the idea before, and I am inclined to agree, that the growth of certain types of magical practice was part of the degeneration of the traditional Roman and Greek cults. A big draw of the “new religions” of that day was the promise given to members of powers to heal, command spirits, perform exorcisms, and to do magic tricks. Christian sects were not alone in offering this. I have seen some of the magical texts from later antiquity. In them even gods are disrespected, threatened, given commands, and bound with spells or kept back with phylacteries, like demons in later Christian/Jewish/Muslim magical texts. Often great Greek gods like Zeus, Apollo, and Hekate are conflated with all sorts of foreign deities from Egypt or the Near East. There is quite a bit of Jewish and Christian content mixed into these magical texts too, invoking IAO, Raphael the archangel, and Zeus in a spell or something like that. A lot of the content would have been blasphemous in traditional Greek or Roman society, but that society was long gone in the cosmopolitan cities of the Roman East. Centuries back, Anaxagoras had to leave Athens over a lot less than anything claimed in those texts. I can’t see any of this as good, and certainly don’t want to see it imitated now. Neopaganism often looks a lot like that to me. What is your take on this?

  242. @JMG “Man Replaces [Christian] God” is (in my humble opinion) an excellent description of the core metaphysical commitment of rational materialism.

    Perhaps Descartes may be credited as the bridge that permitted that bit of syncretism to happen.

    The “objective” viewpoint that rational materialists strive to achieve, which can see everything without personal bias, can only be the viewpoint of one subject – the omniscient [Christian] God.

    “Objectivity,” as venerated, is fundamentally indistinguishable from the POV seen by that God’s eye.

  243. @DT:

    Thank you for reminding me of James 4:4, “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” I just checked the Greek text, suspecting that “world” might translate Greek “oikumenē.” No, in fact it translates “kosmos”! “Whoever wants to be a friend of the Cosmos makes himself an enemy of God.” Wow! Just wow!

    I wasn’t raised Christian, but much of my academic work as a Medievalist has dealt with Christian mystical theology and liturgy, chiefly in their Eastern Orthodox forms. From the Eastern Orthodox standpoint, Western (Roman Catholic) Christianity seems like the sort of pruned-back, simplified variation that usually arises on the fringes of any great cultural domain. (By 500 CE Rome had definitely become a city on the fringes, not at the center, of historic Christendom.) From the same standpoint, all the various Protestant Christianities, whether “evangelical” or “liberal,” seem to be the farthest possible deviations from the roots and original forms of the Christian religion and the teachings of its Founder.

    In none of the non-Protestant Christianities is Scripture taken as a body of inerrant texts from which one can build a sound theology by logic alone–as if Scripture were some sort of fundamental code of laws for lawyers to argue from. (Note that John Calvin, the foremost intellectual powerhouse among the early Protestant theologians, was a lawyer before his conversion.) A theology based on Scripture alone–Luther’s sola scriptura–to the exclusion of ancient liturgy and tradition, and even the mystical experience of holy men and women, looks like a deformed and crippled theology to the rest of Christendom.

  244. With respect to James 4:4, Greek “kosmos” as world or universe (mundus) is a secondary, or even a tertiary meaning. “Kosmos” and “cosmetics” have the same root meaning, which has to do with order or arrangement, and secondarily, ornament(ation). The world is something well arranged or well-ordered. Frankly, the passage puts me more in mind of the discussions about monasticism than anything anti-ecosophical.

  245. @JMG: I understand. However each denomination/sect has something to teach the others. What I can say about Fundamentalism is at least they don’t get all rashy at the plain sense of scripture. Of course if a Christian wants to come along and tell me that every scripture I quoted doesn’t really mean what it says they are welcome to do so.

    @Scotlyn: Fundamentalism in general has a complete distrust of human nature. I see this very clearly in the apron strings they leave connected to their young adults. They often cover it up by sending their kids to some unaccredited, religiously like minded “college” where all the rules and religion are enforced to the point of enforcing dress codes, church attendance, no dating with parental approval, etc. – everything they would’ve been told to do at home. Many of them have trained their girls they can only marry who their father approves of. But in general many Fundamentalist high school graduates are forced into an extended adolescence past 18. Oftentimes quite honestly there is no other option because the parents have sheltered them so much.
    Such religious conservatives love to show how good their kids are compared to “worldly” kids but then you don’t hear much about how they are relatively unprepared for the world once they get to the age of majority. I could go on and on about all the creative ways fundamentalist parents have hobbled their kids for the real world. It’s abuse of a sort, in my opinion.

  246. “…and how I’m personally responsible, because of my skin color, gender, and sexual orientation, for everything bad that ever happened to anybody anywhere.”

    If I may, the point of the sentiment is meant to be: that you are not responsible, but you ARE the lucky beneficiary of a longstanding unfair system. So, I guess, just do with that, what you will.

  247. I vote in favor of Will J. having Cute Puppy Privilege. We want equality, after all. And then he can be Lord Cutepuppy.

  248. God called creation good but he is going to destroy it with fire…

    2 Pet 3:10
    But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

    I think maybe Christianity is either dualist or schizophrenic or both, on this issue??

  249. Has there ever been schisms amongst Druids? Druid fundamentalists or druids who use spirituality as a fig leaf to promote their real agenda, politics? Or is that sort of thing nipped in the bud?

    I know that Catholicism has completely lost its way, and not just because of all the clerical child abuse. The Mass is completely hollow (thanks to Vatican 2) and there isn’t even a compensatory emphasis on the Bible. There is no true spirituality there, just empty bland words, ‘God is love’ etc.. The devotional practices have gone out the window. Families used to say the Rosary together but not any more.

    In Ireland the Catholic church has destroyed itself even quicker than I could imagine and all that left is materialistic atheists and the odd Neopagan. And a few very elderly, very rich nuns and priests.

  250. @ A Reader, Robert, etc. re: “The World”.

    The Orthodox understanding of these passages, AFAIK, is that “the world” that we are to turn away from is what we refer to as “the passions”.

    St. Isaac the Syrian puts it this way:

    ““The world” is the general name for all the passions. When we wish to call the passions by a common name, we call them the world. But when we wish to distinguish them by their special names, we call them passions. The passions are the following: love of riches, desire for possessions, bodily pleasure from which comes sexual passion, love of honor which gives rise to envy, lust for power, arrogance and pride of position, the craving to adorn oneself with luxurious clothes and vain ornaments, the itch for human glory which is a source of rancor and resentment, and physical fear. Where these passions cease to be active, there the world is dead…. Someone has said of the Saints that while alive they were dead; for though living in the flesh, they did not live for the flesh. See for which of these passions you are alive. Then you will know how far you are alive to the world, and how far you are dead to it.”

    (with thanks to the DTTW kids for digging it up: they’re cute 😉 http://deathtotheworld.com/about/ )

  251. Huh, Archdruid. Your comment on traditional Hindu is interesting to me. Would you get a friendly reception. Maybe? My first real teacher was Hindu guru, and g*****n was he hardcore. But one of his essenttial pointswas “there are many paths to enlightenment, and the enemy is those who think there is only one.”

    Not that I’m really a mage (though my teacher was). Mages worry me. As my teacher said “the first thing most mages think is “oh, hey, I can use this to control Jenny.” Not to deny there are good mages, but as usual, people get a little bit of power, and if they are crooked, they use it for evil.

  252. @Kimberly Steele says:
    June 24, 2019 at 9:24 pm
    Jera, my favorite word for “calm-zest” is mirth.

    Perfect. Yes, that is the word I was looking for! Thank you!

    @all. I always felt the “replenish the earth” part of Genesis 1:28 was conveniently overlooked and ignored in favor of dominion and subjugation. In the original Hebrew, I take it, the word sinply means “fill,” which has been done quite well enough, thank you.

    @Christopher Kildare – I would recommend that your “friend” firstly ponder exactly what she envisions or hopes to find, who she thinks she is & what is important to her, and what it is that she is willing or wanting to add and shed from her life. Write all of this down and keep it close at hand, as a guide to remind you of who you are & why you set down on this path. Secondly, recognize that you are already on your path, continue reading everything she can, but encourage her to read JMG’s “Well of Galabes” posts all the way through, as well as The Occult Book and the 100 or so sources you will find there. They help contextualize a lot of the disparate information one would run across, and help you recognize and avoid many of the pitfalls therein. I find time in nature, asana, pranayama & meditation to be foundational. Some form of therapy truly helpful, eg, the practice of Satya. Keep a daily journal, and like JMG says, commited daily pracice of a banishing ritual, protection sphere and a form of divination is essential. Keep it simple. Masters always work the simplest of fundamentals their entire lives. The foundational work, if sound, can be enough on its own. If you are wanting to fly past the fundamentals to “get to the good stuff,” you simply don’t understand what the good stuff is and how it comes about–> go back to the most basic exercises and commit to them daily, forever. If you get bored it is because you cannot see deep enough or clear enough. (EG, the most fundamental 2 exercises in ballet, the plié and tendue, confound and fascinate the most accomplished principal dancers, who start their day-everyday- working to perfect these two steps, from which the entire vocabulary of ballet flows. It is the same in everything.) Don’t try to get complicated or advanced without proper highly trained individuals guiding & watching over you. Next is to network widely, but be prepared to be dissapointed with most organizations you encounter. You can go the “solitary, eclectic” route, as I have- a half misnomer, for sure!- but you still need teachers! Look for good teachers everywhere and stop to listen and study with them whenever you find one, no matter what their “field” is, if you can, as it is all related. Learn practical skills to bolster your wordview. For me, making the jump from being completely obsessed with everything “occult,” to seeing the “occult” aspects of anything and everything I encounter was when I knew I was getting somewhere.

    BB

  253. …and to tie back in with the theme of this post. ” Know Thyself,” is a foundational tenet of most all esoteric forms I have studied and the Wicca that I practice (Wicce, I call it.) If you do not have a fair grasp of your actual desires and the motivators behind your emotions and actions, you risk running off the rails like the abovementioned witches and hurting yourself, your progress and your community at potentially a very inopportune juncture.

  254. I’m a fan of Dreher’s writing, so it was fun to read your response. I’ve been thinking about your third criticism, “The casual equation of occultism with the leftward end of the political spectrum,” quite a bit in the last week. Every single occultist I know in person is a leftist, and most of them are far-left, fervent intersectional feminists. I would draw the same casual equation as Dreher, and yes, they have accepted malevolent hexes, though I’ve never heard of anyone worshiping an evil entity. And that’s why I stay away, very far away. Of course, I know there are plenty of non-leftists practicing elsewhere, but I know exactly the group he was writing about. It’s becoming relatively mainstream where I live. I went into a gift shop in a rich neighborhood last year and it was full of crystals, tarot cards, and crescent moons.

    I agree that the “flight to the fringes” is a major explanation. The reason I know so many of these people was because I gravitated there when I was younger. I was never willing to go all in and put on the costume of whatever group I was around (goth, death metal, pagan, anarchist, punk,…), remaining an outsider. Eventually judging them as mostly fashion, little substance, and much more mainstream than they thought they were.

    Beyond “flight to the fringes,” I see a few other things going on. One is what you’ve mentioned in the past, that when people feel powerless, they gravitate to magic. It was just after the 2016 election, that I first heard of people doing hexes. ‘By any means necessary’ has become acceptable to the Left. I am quite worried about what’s to come.

    Two, the detestation of Christianity (and science) as the oppressor culture, while avoiding cultural appropriation, leaves very few spiritual options. Occultism (sanitized of anything European) is the logical choice.

    Three, scarcity. As the middle class is squeezed into the lower class, they are becoming more protectionist. I hear people speaking derisively of rural people every day. Although the leftist pagans are not mainstream, they are generally accepted in the urban environment, it’s like they are the spiritual caste of the urban elite, rather than fringe outsiders.

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic of the current post are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views expressed here, and I try to respond to each comment as time permits. Long screeds proclaiming the infallibility of some ideology or other, however, will be deleted; so will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed; so will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flamebaiting and the like -- I filled up my supply of Troll Bingo cards years ago and have no interest in adding any more to my collection; and so will sales spam and offers of "guest posts" pitching products. I'm quite aware that the concept of polite discourse is hopelessly dowdy and out of date, but then some people would say the same thing about the traditions this blog is meant to discuss. Thank you for reading Ecosophia! -- JMG

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