The Way of the Wise
by Dian McLellan
This is a two-part article; the first part
being written by Dian McLellan, a practising Wiccan. The second
one is a response from a clergyman living in Northern Ireland.
Being the family "weirdo"
(and every family should have one) often takes me to strange and
varied places on the face of this fair planet. For more years
than I care to publicly admit to I have been a Wiccan, one of
those poorer brethren of the "magicians" of this world.
Just recently I was offered sympathy for the "LOW" level
of my studies by a lady who had only been in the Craft for long
enough to progress on to better things. I'm afraid that she is
still smarting from the vehemence of my reply.
Why is it that those treading
other and sometimes parallel paths to the Craft tend to look upon
us simpler-minded beings from their exalted perches? In reality
our public relations has been relatively poor over the last few
hundred years, but we are not entirely to blame for that. There
seems to be some ridiculous idea that only those treading the
more complex paths are favoured in the sight of the "gods".
The Craft has been in hiding for so long, that there are very
few who are practiced and adept in the high magic of the Old Religion,
but that does not necessarily mean that the path is non-existent.
Most practitioners of the Craft
are quite content to work at the basic levels in relating to the
Earth and content with simpler forms of magical practice. Simpler
does not mean cretinous. The Craft is more simple in that there
are not the ready-made maps and guidelines that are available
in other traditlons. All this means is that the work is harder
and more arduous because the staircase has not been carpeted by
those who came before. In fact, the staircase has become a flimsy
ladder, with rungs missing and badly rotted since the times of
Even with the dedicated work
that is being accomplished at present it will still take many
years to mend the holes in the suit of clothes that was bequeathed
by those who went to their deaths. It will take much mending and
darning to fill the holes and gaps and to modernise the concept,
for we cannot go back into the past - that page has already been
well and truly burned (at the stake even!).
The Craft still stands up there
and takes all the accusations of devil-worship and black magic
that would be leveled at others if we were not out there in front,
fighting for a small recognition in the eyes of our fellow travellers
as well as that famous general public. Strangely enough, our celebrations
and rituals tend to follow similar lines to that of other traditions,
for there is one good basic way of doing a job and the only variations
are those added to make it all palatable at that time and place.
The Craft still has many skills
and abilities that it can pass on (not up or down) to those with
the sincere desire to know. Our specialities tend to lie in the
areas of healing and natural medicine, but I do not look down
my nose at others who have little or no knowledge in this area
- everyone is only too ready to take advantage of those anciont
skills whilst declaring us to be "not quite in their league"!
Very often, a skilled witch is the best sort of friend to have
in a physical crisis - even if that crisis only involves the neighbour's
dog eating your best cabbages. Because we work with the basic
tools of nature, we are always able to accomplish the odd miracle
without recourse to temples, robes and other ritual trappings.
Being trained without these aids does tend to make the mind quite
needle-sharp - you cannot hide behind your robes if you are naked!
The Craft is both a hard and
dangerous way to walk, for we are the targets for those who would
still persecute us. How many of you have an unlisted telephone
number to prevent the local fundamentalists throwing bottles through
your windows? In writing "The Way of the Wise", I have
stood up for my convictions in a way that very few in the Craft
would be prepared to face. It will bring accusations of every
possible perversion that the popular press and the clergy can
invent with their repressed little minds. But it is time that
someone helped to bring the Craft into the twentieth century and
sooner or later we must stop hiding in the dark. A book of shadows
must eventually come out again into the light if we are to have
validity in the eyes of our fellow travellers and gain mutual
In the words of an old adage:
"Do not walk in front of
us, for we cannot follow,
Do not walk behind us for we will not lead,
Walk beside us in strength and friendship."
The era of the old days has well
and truly passed so instead of "Blessed Be!" may I use
the idiom of the time and say "May the Force be with you!"
4th Aug 1986, Jersey.
The Way of the Wise?
by 'Vox Clamantis'
When you live, as I do, in a
part of these islands where the chronic inability to 'forgive
and forget' leads to almost daily murder and atrocity, a few of
the harsher realities of life eventually begin to dawn on you.
You begin to realise, for example, that the old adage 'an eye
for an eye and a tooth for a tooth', carried to its logical conclusion,
will leave us all blind and toothless. You come to realise that
there is no hope for the future until people learn to let go of
grievances, real or mythical, which may reach back for hundreds
of years. You may even come to feel that the apparently impossible
way of reconciliation is the only way forward.
All of which makes me feel that
it would do a lot of modern occultists a power of good to live
over here for a while.
You see, when I first began reading
the various 'Occult' magazines, catalogues, articles, etc., one
of the first things which annoyed me was the constant harking
back to witch trials, tortures, burnings at the stake, the Inquisition,
and so on. As a Christian myself, I resent the constant implication
that we are all a pack of rabid anti-everything lunatics with
hermetically sealed minds, who secretly long to dust off the 'Malleus
Maleficarum' and get cracking! As I flick through a number of
magazines which just happen to be within reach of my desk, I discover
that there is not one which doesn't contain at least one article
calculatedly offensive to the Christian Way. Worse, I find that
not one of these references is written in the attempt to provoke
debate, let alone dialogue - they are just abuse, plain and simple.
Anyway, as I continued to read
on, I made another discovery. "Gosh," I thought, "These
people don't just hate Christians - they hate each other as well!!"
It seemed that those of different traditions were just as ready
to anathematise and abuse each other as they were to have a go
Is it any wonder the 'Occult
Scene' is in such a tangled and tattered mess?
Fashions come and go in theology
as in everything else, and when I was doing my theological training
the 'in' word was 'dialogue'. What is dialogue? The National Evangelical
Anglican Conference at Keele in 1967 defined it as follows: 'Dialogue
is a conversation in which each party is serious in his approach
both to the subject and to the other person, and desires to listen
and learn as well as to speak and instruct'.
It is fair comment that Christians
are usually far more keen on monologue than dialogue, but there
is an increasing willingness to engage in dialogue with other
faiths. The question is, what constitutes a faith?
Consider the approach of many
Christians to Buddhism - we may not convert them, they may not
convert us, but at least we can talk openly, and mutually benefit
from the experience. The same would apply to Islam or Taoism.
But what is the usual reaction when Christians encounter Occultism?
Shock! Horror!! Ouija boards and demonic possession!!! Pictures
of naked Satan-Worshipping perverts in the Sunday papers!!!!
This article is a plea on behalf
of the old doctrine of 'live and let live'. The day may yet come
when Christians are prepared to accept Witches/Pagans as members
of another religion, and even to engage in dialogue. Stranger
things have happened. But it takes two to tango, and someone has
to be prepared to make the first move. It would also help greatly
if the 'Occult' could present some sort of a more united face.
Perhaps Christians, Qabalists, Witches, Pagans, Neopantheists,
etc., could profit greatly by reviving an ancient American-Indian
ritual - "Burying the Hatchet"!
In her article 'The Way of the
Wise' in the last issue of RMT, Dian McLellan said some things
that most of us would probably agree with. It is time that someone
helped to bring the Craft into the twentieth century', and it
is true that 'sooner or later we must stop hiding in the dark'.
But perhaps the next time that she is offered sympathy for the
'low' level of her studies it might be more productive not to
leave the sympathetic party 'smarting from the vehemence of the
reply', but instead to count to ten, take a deep breath, and try
to draw them into dialogue. And writing as a clergyman, perhaps
I will convince at least one Wiccan that her article and her convictions
did not 'bring accusations of every possible perversion that...the
clergy can invent with their repressed little minds'!
The way forward - the true
'way of the wise' - will be one of mutual encouragement and building,
not of sterile criticism and destruction. This is the way we should
all be seeking.