The ‘Benign Craft’

10 07 2008

Being driven back from a family gathering in the north this week, I happened to be flicking through Times2 and found a quietly extraordinary article by Ken Russell, which can be found here. I had to read it twice because it didn’t hit any of the usual sensational stereotypes for articles of this sort – and indeed it’s caused so little in the way of waves that I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else.

The article has a number of the usual inconsistencies – the male witch is a ‘warlock’, apparently (but from a Pagan-Germanic lineage, which might be a good enough reason); sundry comments about Aleister Crowley; the ‘tens of thousands’ of witches burned across Europe, yada yada; and the news that there are four elements (what happened to spirit?) – but the couple that Russell contacts for his information don’t seem to have given him the clearest picture to work with. What’s ‘grey magic’? There’s a point where they claim ‘Black’ magic rebounds on the user sevenfold, and then another point where the expressed aim is to ‘…integrate the mundane with the evolutionary thrust, not to favour one at the expense of the other,’ at which, they lost me completely.

This slight difficulty aside, I liked the article. It was measured, stressed the use of magic as a unifying and assisting force for good; Ken Russell professed himself unfazed by the proximity of packs of witches and sincerely interested in their practice. He stresses the humanitarian and caring professions the correspondents are engaged in, and that they’re grounded, intelligent people. They seem very unaffected, very earthy, very low key. Their comment ‘…the forest, the time of the year and the Moon are our church’ resonated with me.

From this article, I drew a number of heartening conclusions. First, there are interviewers who can take a story like this, make it interesting, enlightening and readable to the layperson, without sensationalism. Second, there appear to be pagans out there who aren’t trying to get into the news for all the wrong reasons; the so-called ‘media suicide’ that so many interest groups fall foul of.

Perhaps there’s beginning to be room for a sensible, low-key and measured discussion of the facts surrounding modern paganism. Who knows, perhaps we’ll even get some sensible TV coverage at some point – but for this, pardon me readers, I’m not holding my breath!

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5 responses

11 07 2008
Andy

I also love the quote ‘…the forest, the time of the year and the Moon are our church’. It reminds me of a quote I read somewhere that was a response made when a Christian affirmed that the Bible was the only scripture that warranted our attention and dedication. I forget the exact wording, but the comment was something like, ‘leave your Bible outside in the wind and the rain, and the words will fade and perish. However, the wind, the rain and the forests and the hills are our scripture’ or something like that!

12 07 2008
The Green Witch

Wow, I like that image too.

I spend a lot of time in my village churchyard; the vicar often comes across for a chat, and she knows my path – it’s a great neutral ground to meet on. And my fave climbing tree is there too, actually it’s my patron tree, and I’ve loved it since I was a small child. So I go talk to it too.

16 07 2008
On the Pagan Blogosphere | Pagan Connection

[…] Green Witch discusses Ken Russell’s article about Witchcraft on The Times The article has a number of the usual inconsistencies – the male witch is a ‘warlock’, apparently (but from a Pagan-Germanic lineage, which might be a good enough reason); sundry comments about Aleister Crowley; the ‘tens of thousands’ of witches burned across Europe, yada yada; and the news that there are four elements (what happened to spirit?) – but the couple that Russell contacts for his information don’t seem to have given him the clearest picture to work with. […]

21 12 2009
Eric Flynn

It’s cited here: http://www.religioustolerance.org/witchcra.htm

“If you take [a copy of] the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible IS the wind and the rain.” Herbalist Carol McGrath as told to her by a Native-American woman.

21 01 2010
The Green Witch

Thank you Eric – enlightening and helpful!

TGW x

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