The Libertarian Witch

June 26, 2009 - 13:36

Lack of Balance - And Its Terrible Price

Those who may not be Pagan are more than welcome in this discussion, and more than welcome to disagree with any point here in a civil manner, but if a frank discussion of religious thought and principles (from a very non-Judeo-Christian viewpoint) offends you, please don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out - and don't come back. 

I am a Witch.  I do not apologize for being a Witch.  And I am not a particularly fluffy Witch, meaning that I am more than capable - and even very willing - to defend myself or anyone else that I care about, especially from ignorant Christian fanatics.  In the words of my least favorite President in U.S. history, do please bring it on - I really need the stress relief.  The concepts of turning the other cheek - and of martyrdom - are Christian concepts, and ones I do not share.

If you haven't been living in a deep cave or under a big rock for the last couple or three decades, you are likely very worried at the direction that the United States has taken.  Somehow we've managed to go from a reasonably free country that occasionally did things we weren't proud of to a blatantly fascist and repressive dictatorship (that still pretends to have a Congress) which invades half the world based on blatant lies - and we've done it in absolutely record time.  "Regime change" has become a code word for mass murder and mayhem, including the theft of oil on an epic scale and a religious war to satisfy even the fanatical idiots who believe that Armageddon was upon us fifteen minutes ago (and who are waiting to get sucked up into heaven by some cosmic vaccuum cleaner). 

I hear Pagans all the time, both on and off the Net, telling me that the Christians screwed it up - which is an understandable viewpoint, given that the worst of the damage to date has been the work of the mentally defective darling of the Christian Right - Shrub the Magnificent. 

Unfortunately, no one has been able to tell me exactly how they think the Christians screwed it up.

So I'm going to tell them.  Worse, I'm going to explain exactly how the Pagans screwed it up, too.

The most valuable of the five tenets of wisdom is balance, folks.  That's B-A-L-A-N-C-E. 

I've heard it said that we are living the result of 5,000 years of patriarchy, and that matriarchy is far better for humanity than patriarchy because women do not typically send their husbands and sons off to fight and die in senseless wars.  That's true enough as far as it goes, but matriarchy also resulted in a society that didn't know enough of the arts of war to defend itself against the Romans - or the Roman church.  And the early Roman church definitely practiced conversion by the sword - and later the stake.  This is why modern Witchcraft is barely 60 years old, and a good 80 percent of modern Witches have been busily trying to reconstruct that same matriarchy which was their original downfall.  Who was it that said that doing the same thing again and again, and expecting different results, was the classic definition of insanity?

It is true that technically patriarchal religions have held sway over a significant part of the world for about 5,000 years, but it really hasn't been so bad for much of that time.  In Old Testament days, Jewish women "bought and sold at the gates of the city."  They were business owners, in other words, and far from powerless.  More recently, my pregnant great, great grandmother boarded a covered wagon at sixteen and rode it from Missouri to Texas, fighting off Indians and having her kid on the way.  Weak?  I don't think so!  Sure, she wore skirts - a practice I consider to be insane, especially in the winter when it's like being naked to the waist.  It's also hard to move - or fight - in a skirt.  Still, she didn't complain, so she must have had her reasons.  The point is that she was definitely the architect of her own destiny.  As a simple matter of practical fact, no one could have forced her to make that journey if she hadn't sincerely wanted to do it.  If she'd been weak enough to merely acquiesce because it was the path of least resistance, she would have died before she made it out of Missouri.  Making it all the way to Texas, and keeping my great grandmother alive and healthy all that way, took strength, guts and determination on a scale we have trouble even imagining today.  It also took both husband and wife, working as a team, and using every strength that each had to offer.

No, I'm not promoting "traditional marriage" here, or leaving gays out of the equation.  I'm simply stating that a genuine partnership between men and women is necessary to build a healthy and capable society.  There is one hell of a lot of room for freedom and innovation in how you choose for any partnership to work, both in and out of the bedroom, and I think culture and tradition should get out of the way and just let it happen in whatever way that works for all parties concerned.

The seeds of the unpleasant patriarchy of 20th Century fundamentalists were originally sown at the Council of Nicea in the 4th Century, although they didn't come to fruition until the hundred years just past.  The Nicean Council is when Christians elected to follow more of the teachings of Paul than those of (a possibly mythical) Jesus.  Paul was a Roman tax collector, and a hunchback, and he had been ridiculed for most of his life for his deformity.  He hated women with a virulent passion, and the least pleasant of his quotes have been taken out of context to "keep women in their place" - and the problem became dramatically worse with the women's liberation movement of the 1960s, when American women decided not to take it anymore, and their men - having lost their precious servants almost overnight - chose to react with panic and hatred. 

Unfortunately, for the fundies to "keep women in their place" required deforming and distorting masculinity, and that has resulted in several generations of sheep that have cravenly chosen to knuckle under to illegitimate authority.  Knuckling under has never been an American characteristic - or rather, it was never an American characteristic until very recently.  Far too many men today believe that strength is abuse, and far too many women of today are willing to accept that.

At the same time that the fundies were reacting to the feminist movements, Pagans in the 1960s and 1970s were busily trying to reconstruct a matriarchal society as a blowback against the woman-hating fundies.  Unfortunately, a weakened and emmasculated male was very much a part of this picture also. 

Now, here we are, pale and sad shadows of what men and women once were - and still should be. 

Even after 5,000 years, we don't understand equality in gender.  We don't understand balance.  Christians treat women as second class citizens, required to "submit" to the males in their family.  Not to be outdone, many Pagans treat the masculine as little more than cosmic sperm donors.  And as a result, we have lost our freedom - and our future.  Karma is no joke, and there is always a price for screwing up.

Historically, a pattern has repeated itself throughout human history.  As societies mature, they become more and more socialist, and therefore more and more repressive.  Put another and more personal way, you can't redistribute my income without a) knowing what my income is (which gets you light years too far into my private business), and b) securing my cooperation with my own robbery at gunpoint - cooperation that I am certainly not going to give you voluntarily.   If you think I am being figurative by saying "at gunpoint," then just ask yourself when IRS agents started carrying guns. 

Over time, when societies finally become intolerably repressive, the least violent solution has always been to emigrate.  Just pack up your life and leave for a better shore.  Unfortunately, the only remaining frontier on Planet Earth is Antarctica, and that particular real estate just doesn't have a lot to recommend it.  For the first time in our history, we Americans find ourselves with our backs to a proverbial wall, limited by two oceans and other countries above and below.  We must solve our own problems right here - and this may not allow for a peaceful solution at all, which is not an easy thing for man or woman to face.

Like every other science fiction writer (and fan), I once held fast to a forlorn hope that space - the final frontier - could have been made a viable emigration option before things inevitably reached this sorry pass.  Unfortunately, the socialists got their greedy eyes on the money spent on space travel way back in the 1960s and 1970s, and to date, we haven't even managed a colony on our pathetic little moon.  That leaves us with just one remaining option, and it gives me no pleasure to say it.  Our future has been stolen, and it is up to us to take it back - by force, if necessary - but we cannot even begin to do so until we can heal ourselves as a people - not as Americans, but as human beings.  We must rediscover who we are as a species.  As Pagans, we must bring our forgotten God back into our lives and restore the natural balance between God and Goddess.  As Christians, you must remember the lessons of a Goddess far older than your Jehovah.

This is not so terrible a fate as it may sound.  Our Horned God teaches us courage.  He teaches us survival.  He teaches us to fling laughter in the teeth of terror and despair.  I submit that if you reflect on it, you will realize that the individual who has nothing (s)he would be willing to die for also has nothing worth living for at all.  If you spend all your days trying to preserve a life that is inescapably finite in the scheme of the Universe, that life becomes gray and tasteless, not worth preserving at all.  I have never been more alive than at the end of a day spent risking my life, literally an entire day spent coming within mere seconds of sudden death, eating good food and drinking potent drink in the company of lifelong comrades I would have been proud to die with.

It is that knowledge and that courage we must remember if we are to restore our future.

We must learn again from our God what our Goddess does not teach.  When the God holds out his hand to us, it is our time to dance.  If we haven't the strength or the personal courage to face this head on, then we should just lie down and die - and get out of history's way.

Midnight mare and blood red roan,
Fight to keep this land your own.
Sound the horn and call the cry,
How many of them can we make die?

March of Cambreadth
Heather Alexander