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Switch to Forum Live View Do you still feel persecuted...?
5 years ago  ::  Sep 09, 2009 - 5:41PM #1
Sadishappy
Posts: 18

Hi,


I figure this was as good a place to ask as any.  I'm not sure who I am spiritually anymore, so this does intrigue me.


However, I am an actor, and am playing a part in "The Crucible" (Miller's play about the persecution and hanging of witches in Salem...).  I'm playing a couple parts, but the main one is Putnam, the land owner who accuses people of withcraft in order to take their land.  I'm a complete jerk and I hope it's not type casting...


Anyway, partly for research and partly because I'm a HUGE believer in social justice and equality, I wanted to get your perspectives on whether or not sometimes you feel like you are still living in Salem in the 1600's.....


I'm very curious to learn more.  Even though I am friends with  many who practice witchcraft, I wanted to get a more global perspective....


Thanks!  :-)

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5 years ago  ::  Sep 09, 2009 - 7:25PM #2
ManzanitaBear
Posts: 946

I haven't quite taken the title Witch (more on that here,but I'd say anything pertaining to any of us is very different from The Crucible.  It's unlikely that anyone accused of witchcraft in Salem was a witch as they were accused of being--and just as likely that, in a similar sense to modern witchcraft, practically everyone living there at the time was.  Folk magic was practiced right and left by the Puritans.  You were a "witch" only if you swore allegiance to the Devil into the bargain.  There's no solid evidence that anyone ever did such a thing, no credible written records of it, no confessions that were not later recanted and/or found to have been coerced.  Witchcraft was a convenient accusation to throw at anyone you wanted to get rid of, and it helped if this was an old woman with no friends to back her.


Nowadays, there are plenty of people who'll look askance at you if you say you're a Witch, but no one's out to hang you.  There may be a few lawsuits involving Witches denied religious freedom under some circumstances--people have sued for the right to practice in prison and the military, to be buried with a pentagram on the gravestone in a military cemetery, to wear Pagan symbols in public school, to offer Pagan prayers where Christian ones have been allowed at public ceremonies--but no one gets arrested just for being a Witch.  And Witch has a different meaning now.  Someone who says they're a Witch probably does not believe in the devil, let alone worship it, and probably does practice magic of some sort, but would be committing a serious ethical violation if they used it for harm.


Arthur Miller wasn't even really writing about witch hunts when he wrote the play.  He wrote it at the height of McCarthyism, and meant the audience to draw the parallels.

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5 years ago  ::  Sep 09, 2009 - 8:33PM #3
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

Sadishappy,


Well, there are certainly those few American Witches that have made Salem a tourist attraction. There are also many kinds of witchcraft, historical, fictional, folklore, modern. I'm not sure who these many witches you are friends with but if they are Pagan Witches in North America in particular, then the diversity of what they may practice is probably bewildering. This thread community.beliefnet.com/go/thread/view/3... is a summary of some of the research that I consider relevant to today's Pagan Witches. The history of the term witchcraft itself and all that is associated with that would take a very hefty library to cover. Endlessly fascinating but also endlessly time-consuming to study.


I am another of those Pagan Witches that has done sufficient historical research to be able to put Salem into the larger perspective. Salem was a Christian event. Witch as defined in Salem in the 1600's was taken from and used entirely within a context that was Christian. It's relevance to modern Pagan Witchcraft is that Salem forms part of the mythological history of Pagan Witchcraft that evolved in the 20th century.


That mythological history says that Salem witches were in fact real witches and that this was the American example of the witch-hunts. The Burning Times in Europe and Britain as they are mis-called, are the mythological name for the Witchhunts, another Christian event involving internal heresies, Christian definitions of this term and superstitions. The Burning Times on the other hand is mostly myth with bits of history lurking here and there as well. That said, Salem and the Burning Times has proven very useful for those who wish to believe that they will persecuted, either from Christian baggage they are carrying or a martyr complex or from believing themselves to be rebels following a supposedly ancient path or faith. The stories behind how these myths began is quite fascinating though not nearly as compelling as the well-told myths themselves.


Now there are Pagan Witches in North America who do believe Christians are persecuting them in particular and sometimes individuals may indeed be right. They might be dealing with Christian fundamentalism or literalists. Sometimes it is in a family or friend context where Christians are defining witchcraft one way and the individual another way. Some of this drama derives from Paganism not being a singular faith but meaning many different things and/or from the modern 'Craft also not being singularly defined. Individuals taking on the honorific of witch can pretty much label whatever they want as witchcraft. Some of that inevitably will evolve out of lack of common sense or tact, prejudice, lack of research, resentment, low self-esteem, ego and lack of respect for Christianity. Some people simply need to feel persecuted by someone or something as a justification for not taking responsibility for their lives.


This global perspective changes and often quite radically when you move outside of English speaking Western cultures where modern Pagan Witchcraft is probably the best known type of witchcraft. There are indigenous belief systems or projected labels of witchcraft throughout the world now as there was throughout history (when this English word was used or translated from other languages so we think it was used). Those practices (usually always negative in intent and action) are usually persecuted wherever they occur.


I hope something in that is useful. We are rebuilding our community here on B'Net so I'm not sure how many responses you will get here. You might wish to check out www.witchvox.com/ which has a broader diversity of forms of Pagan Witchcraft. Mythological history often runs rampant over there but if you check in their article search engine for words like Salem or persecution, you may find articles on this subject as well.


C.H.


One clarification from ManzanitaBear's post. There is no serious ethical violation if magic is used for harm in Pagan Witchcraft or the Craft. This probably stems from the surface reading of the eight words that today is usually considered the entire Rede (If it Harm None, Do as You will is one common rendering). The Rede actually doesn't refer to not harming anything. It simply says if what you want to do doesn't harm anyone, go ahead and do it. Period. All it says. If something does harm someone, then a Witch has to decide in each situation if he or she still wishes to do it. Pagan Witches are autonomous. They have no rule books that can be violated. That is why Pagan Witches must each be the most moral of creatures and why the 'Craft is normally a positive practice where ethics are concerned.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
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5 years ago  ::  Sep 09, 2009 - 11:42PM #4
ManzanitaBear
Posts: 946

Sep 9, 2009 -- 8:33PM, CreakyHedgewitch wrote:


One clarification from ManzanitaBear's post. There is no serious ethical violation if magic is used for harm in Pagan Witchcraft or the Craft. This probably stems from the surface reading of the eight words that today is usually considered the entire Rede (If it Harm None, Do as You will is one common rendering). The Rede actually doesn't refer to not harming anything. It simply says if what you want to do doesn't harm anyone, go ahead and do it. Period. All it says. If something does harm someone, then a Witch has to decide in each situation if he or she still wishes to do it. Pagan Witches are autonomous. They have no rule books that can be violated. That is why Pagan Witches must each be the most moral of creatures and why the 'Craft is normally a positive practice where ethics are concerned.




That is a good clarification, and I had been misreading that.


And isn't the next part "anything you do will come back to you threefold?"  So if you do use magic for harm, expect a triple dose of it yourself.

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5 years ago  ::  Sep 10, 2009 - 6:46AM #5
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

Sep 9, 2009 -- 11:42PM, ManzanitaBear wrote:


And isn't the next part "anything you do will come back to you threefold?"  So if you do use magic for harm, expect a triple dose of it yourself.




The Threefold Law like the Rede were later additions to the Religion of Wicca and through its influences, into the diverse traditions of Pagan Witchcraft. However it is really the inclusion of some form of law of universal balance that is recognised as being a core belief.


My Witchcraft Tradition uses this version  - that everything you do in this world will have consequences.  As many as are required. As for the Threefold Law, I think of this as 1 - dealing with the internal consequences (or price) of doing the harm, 2 -dealing with the immediate short-term consequences to one's life after causing the harm and 3-dealing with the long-term consequences from the changes that harm caused. Pretty much a triple dose as you put it though I would replace the word expect with experience.


It might be added that positive magic is not exempt from any law of balance either, which is another reason why one should thoroughly consider all possible consequences for one's magic, no matter how positive the motives.


C.H.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 13, 2009 - 1:58PM #6
Sadishappy
Posts: 18

Thanks...


Great insight to all!  Sorry it took so long to get back to you.


BTW, from what I understand, Miller was called to tesify against people he knew who may or may not have been communist and he remained silent.


I know the Crucible is based on some lose history and factual characters.  I'm guessing he did a good job of bringing out the raw emotion and fear on both sides of the coin.  There are no real heros and no real villans in the play.  Much like life....


This has caused me to explore more...


Thanks!

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5 years ago  ::  Oct 13, 2009 - 2:02PM #7
Sadishappy
Posts: 18

btw creaky...


I love the Bab5 quote.  I'm a fan.


G'kar right?

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5 years ago  ::  Oct 14, 2009 - 7:55AM #8
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

 


It does sound like something G'Kar would say, doesn't it? No, it is the Centauri Emperor talking to Sheridan about making choices in life.


C.H.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
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4 years ago  ::  Nov 29, 2009 - 11:34AM #9
Brownowl33
Posts: 443

Sep 9, 2009 -- 5:41PM, Sadishappy wrote:


Hi,


I figure this was as good a place to ask as any.  I'm not sure who I am spiritually anymore, so this does intrigue me.


However, I am an actor, and am playing a part in "The Crucible" (Miller's play about the persecution and hanging of witches in Salem...).  I'm playing a couple parts, but the main one is Putnam, the land owner who accuses people of withcraft in order to take their land.  I'm a complete jerk and I hope it's not type casting...


Anyway, partly for research and partly because I'm a HUGE believer in social justice and equality, I wanted to get your perspectives on whether or not sometimes you feel like you are still living in Salem in the 1600's.....


I'm very curious to learn more.  Even though I am friends with  many who practice witchcraft, I wanted to get a more global perspective....


Thanks!  :-)




 


Absolutely, I think there is still loads of persecution.  To some extent, ALL non-Christians in the US can be discriminated against depending on where you live, but I think that it's especially bad for Witches, Pagans, or anybody who practices what might be called an "alternative" religion.  In my native Dallas, for example, a Wiccan was to give the opening prayer at the city council meeting (why they have prayers at a government function is beyond me) and the Christians threw such a huge tantrum that it had to be rescheduled, and was then disrupted by people screaming.  Here's a quote from a local newsource about the event:


"The Eagle Forum, a Religious Right organization that claims to promote religious freedom, was not pleased by Lankford's invocation. In an address to the council, Cathie Adams, president of the Texas branch of the group, blasted the members.

"I want to encourage the City Council to do as the Founding Fathers did -- to fear the one true God," Adams said. "And I'm asking that you consider the fact that just like it would be unwise for the American Jewish Congress to invite American Neo-Nazies to address them, it is unwise for you to invite witches to pray before you."


Clearly, the "religious freedom" these people are pretending to promote really means "the freedom for Christian groups to attack others, and push their beliefs while silencing any other faiths."   This is hardly an isolated event, sadly, and every Halloween we are treated to news stories or editorials documenting the alleged "dangers" of the occult/Wicca/Harry Potter.


The people in Salem weren't really witches, but they are victims just the same of an oppressive religious belief system that devotes itself to eradicating anyone who is different.  Nothing has changed about that, and in fact in Africa now Christian pastors are making nice sums of money "exorcising" children that they have denounced as witches.  Mutilation and execution of these children is not uncommon.  These poor victims aren't witches, either, but they are PERCEIVED to be and this demonstrates the problem.  We don't kill people here for witchcraft anymore (though I am willing to bet we could find plenty of people who would be happy to re-instate the death penalty for it) but it doesn't mean that those of us who identify as such don't face persecution and even the threat of violence.


 

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