Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Family Feud

Battles royal between various factions of occultists, neopagans, witches and ceremonial magicians has been a feature and a staple of these groups for many years. Some of these disputes and conflicts have been going on for decades, some, with little or no sign of gaining any kind of armistice or peaceful coexistence. We are like a close knit but highly dysfunctional family, and it would seem that conflict occurs with little or no provocation. Factions fight each other tooth and nail, yet they are really fighting their brothers and sisters. The damage that they inflict is often deep, hurtful and seemingly unforgivable. Yet we are united by our interests and allegiances to practices and creeds to an extent that goes beyond the appearances of mere squabbling differences. Such wars only hurt the members of the various factions, others are either not engaged or merely amused or horrified at the spectacle. I often wonder as I read about these terrible wars on the internet, why it seems impossible for us to just accept each other and get along in harmony.

Fighting only benefits those who are truly opposed to us, and in the end, gives them opportunities to either mock and make light of us to the public, or to crush us with accusations and misinformation. If we could but stand together, we would have a greater collective power and say in the larger world, but alas, so far this ideal seems incapable of being realized.

I don’t have to name any names or identify any specific organizations in this article. We all know who they are, and many of us know more about the details than we would want to know. Everyone is imperfect, flawed and has failings - this is an inescapable truth. Yet everyone also has virtues, talents, and experiences moments of perfection and pure genius. I would rather celebrate the positive elements of individuals and groups - the negative aspects can be kept personal and intimate. We have much to celebrate, but we also have a lot to learn, perfect and master in ourselves.

I am reminded of a poem that my mother would recite to me as a child. She only remembered the first stanza and maybe a few lines from the last, but it was an object lesson that I learned at a very young age. You can fight your family members in the most awful manner possible, but in the end, no one wins, everyone loses.

The poem was written by Eugene Field and is called “The Duel.” I am reproducing it here for you to read as a somber consideration for everyone to note. I would love to see all of the feuds ended and the hatchets buried, but I know that human nature and the intoxicating power of the ego will ensure that this probably won’t happen. They’ll go on until no one is left standing. I really hope that my cynicism is misdirected, and that perhaps one day, we will be united by our common interests and pursuits. So here is the poem that I promised you - enjoy it!

“The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
      The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
      Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
            (I was n't there; I simply state
            What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went "Bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "Mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
      While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
      Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
            (Now mind: I 'm only telling you
            What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
      Employing every tooth and claw
      In the awfullest way you ever saw---
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
            (Don't fancy I exaggerate---
            I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning, where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
      But the truth about the cat and pup
      Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
            (The old Dutch clock it told me so,
            And that is how I came to know.)”

Frater Barrabbas

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