We went to Borders tonight and Ashley got a couple books on Wicca. She’s not thinking of joining the local coven – way below the weight limit, for one thing – just curious about the beliefs, the philosophies, the rituals and such. One of the books she got contains a complete Book of Shadows, which, near as I can tell, is the overwrought designation Wiccans give to their equivalent to the Bible. Except that Books of Shadows differ from coven to coven. I was paging through and found a section of spells, including a page devoted to “String Magic.” To my disappointment, it had little to do with quantum physics.
String magic involves taking pieces of string that have been blessed, sanctified, whatever, and shaping them on an altar into the form of something you want, “a car, a house, a paycheck” – that last one is interesting; how does one shape a string to look like a paycheck, I wonder. Then you visualize the object you want, say an incantation, and at some point the desired object is supposed to manifest itself. I read this, then held the page up to Ashley and said, “I wonder how Wiccans account for the fact that this never, ever works.”
She soon enough found the answer, in the introduction of her other book: magic (or magick, as it is often spelled to differentiate it from stage magic, which is different in that it produces results) is very difficult to master, and most serious practitioners of Wicca don’t use it for those sorts of superficial material gain. Fair enough.
Mocking organized religion comes naturally to me. But I feel bad about shitting too much on Wicca. Wiccans don’t proselytize, they don’t claim to have the market cornered on enlightenment, they don’t usually hold obnoxious public demonstrations. They don’t start wars. They more or less keep their religious beliefs to themselves, practicing among other Wiccans and living their lives in quiet, goofy dignity. With Christians working overtime to enshrine bigotry in the law of as many states as possible, and Muslims blowing each other up left and right all over the Middle East and Europe, taking time to make fun of Wiccans seems unfair. Yeah, I think the whole “magick” thing is flaky and pretentious, but they’re pretty much the only truly peaceful religion you ever hear about. If they wanna cast some spells and romp nude around a bonfire in the middle of the woods, or whatever they do, more power to ‘em.