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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 persecution.

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 respect.

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!"

Dian McLellan

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 at Christians...

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.


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