Saturday, February 22, 2014

Never Again, the Burning Times!

When I started my search into all things Craft nearly a decade and a half ago, the phrase 'Never again the burning times' was shouted so often and by so many, I though it was a big deal.  I thought that, maybe, there was proof that millions of witches were burned by the Christians or some such tragedy against our kind.  I found out that there was no proof, but anecdotes of the numbers of witches burned.  More importantly, as it was pointed out by a beautiful and wizened friend of mine, the burning times is about blind obedience.  I say 'is' because, what if we (as a people) never actually left?

Through my years working with the community, first online and now face-to-face, I have seen many instances of title chasing and ego fluffing, which lead to blind obedience.  I have seen and experienced these things.  My Gods remind me that titles are bestowed by men.  Titles can also be taken away by those same men.  Titles lead to chains.  Chains lead to bindings.  Those bindings lead to doing what you are told to do because it's 'right'.   Titles can be sloughed off when they become too restrictive so there is no need for the trappings of doing what you are told because you are X Title.  Titles don't free us from thinking for ourselves.
They are supposed to, if we earn them properly, give us the knowledge and wisdom to make better choices when we think for ourselves.

So, if titles aren't necessary, why do we chase them?  Because, in a group structure, titles imply rank, status, and maybe, just maybe, honor, trustworthiness, and intelligence, among other things.  They have come to mean something more than what they are, a way to classify who has learned what.  I bring this up because I look at many around me who have achieved one rank or another within their particular brand of Craft and I can, sometimes, look directly through the illusions they cast and see the person behind the title.  Sometimes, it takes me a little bit longer to see, but in nearly every instance of parting those illusions, the person I have seen has been someone I didn't want to become.  Sometimes I see past those illusions and I see a person who is very much someone I would like to emulate, though.

I have seen leaders, very knowledgeable people, very dynamic people, inherently good people, with their deeds, if not their words, advocate to their students that it is okay to quit jobs for their Craft, and live on government assistance of one kind or another because it gives the student all the time in the world, then, to learn (or maybe 'fast track' their learning).  I have been the one having my ego fluffed just as long as I was doing what I was told, then, as soon as I stopped doing what I was told (or questioned it, or followed the path my own Gods set out) I was forgotten, cast aside, and no longer seemed to matter.

So, if we, as students of the Craft, are being told that we are taught how to think, not what to think, then why do we get caught up in the illusions of others?  Why do we get wrapped up in the egos of those who 'know more' or who have 'been around longer'?  Why do we, as students, allow them to tell us what our Gods have set out for us, instead of searching for ourselves?  The Burning Times has always been about blind obedience, ego, greed.  Aren't those the exact things that we, as pagans, are trying to transcend?

Now is the time for us, as individuals and as groups, to do a bit of soul searching.  As practitioners are we serving ourselves or are we serving our Gods?  Are we trying to make money?  Do we want minions or followers?  Do we, genuinely, want to see our students be the best people they can be or do we just want someone there to carry on our work?  Do we want our students to challenge us and our vision or do we want them to simply do what they are told?  When do we step out of our, predominantly, Christian way of thinking and wanting to be told what to do, and begin thinking for ourselves, doing for ourselves?

I, for one, remember The Burning Times.  I honor those who burned, Witches and Christians alike.  I refuse to obey blindly, as a cattle to slaughter, those who may or may not have my own best interests at heart.  I look to my Gods for signs.  I listen to the spirit of the trees, the rocks, my animal brethren.  Mostly, I listen to my intuition.  Once I shove my emotions to the side and quiet my own ego, it whispers with conviction the road I must take.  Do you do the same?

Brightest Blessings, Friends!

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