“And the sad thing is we’re all in on the action
We’re all holding our breath, waiting for a reaction
You play your part, I’ll be playing with matches
And if you’d like a show, you can follow the ashes “
- Icon For Hire, Theatre
The world is changing. As free thinking adherents to any of the numerous modern Magickal Path’s our most die hard enemies, the Religions of old, may no longer have the right under law to punish us for our freedom of thought and deed. Yet they are increasingly finding other ways to infest our Zeitgeist, not least through the Mainstream Media that they infiltrated long before we even existed. Turn on any show made in the USA over the last thirty or so years and you will find numerous positive references, some obvious and some not, to the prevailing Christian faith. It is the same with the twenty four hour news channels and talk radio stations, news papers and commentators, Politicians and Presidents, all backed by Christ’s own money and told to tow God’s party line like good little pawns in some far reaching master plan of which the rest of us are not only oblivious, but also on the opposing side.
While the shadowy Muslim and Mexican hordes are the external ‘Other’ in the average American mind, it is the Goth, the Rocker, the Witch and the Satanist that they fear from within. Watching any of the numerous True Crime documentaries that hail from the Land of the Free is all that is required to see the bias in action; even those criminals that were in no way affiliated with the aforementioned lifestyles are regularly recast as Avatars of Satan replete with black trench-coats, dark eye-liner and an unhealthy interest in Heavy Metal. Yet it is jarring to see actual file footage of the same people later on in the episode, and realise that they were, in reality, anything but. Scratch the surface and it is easy to see that such ostensibly factual slices of American life are little better than modern morality plays, spoon fed food for thought for a Theocracy that has always seen things in stark black and white, Good and Evil, when the truth is actually very many shades of grey.
Perhaps it is to be expected. After all, the continued cohesion of any Regime, Theocratic or otherwise, directly relies upon both the manipulation of information and the existence of the ‘Other’ to maintain its power base, more so now in an age where geographical borders are increasingly irrelevant to daily life. While the sort of state controlled media that is tolerated in Muslim nations or outright censorship of free and open debate that we witness in less obviously Religious places like China would be vehemently resisted by the emancipated population of the ever widening Western World, we see the same tactics utilised by those few corporations that own the lion’s share of the indigenous media, albeit underpinned by the constant lie that all you have to do is change the channel to get an opposing point of view. All Governments realise the need to manipulate this data stream in such a way as to control the emotions of those experiencing it, to repress dissent and present a unified front behind their Deity or figurehead of choice on the Global Stage; America is no different.
In the UK, where the Church of England is slowly drowning under the weight of it’s own inability to evolve and the more fundamentalist voices from the Muslim Faith are thankfully only a minority, albeit one that seems to be given a disproportionate amount of airtime in the most negative of senses for no other reason than keeping the ‘Other’ front and centre in the mind of the population, it is a whole different line that the Media tows, and one that is equally threatening to our continued Spiritual freedom. Unlike the USA, a thoroughly modern Theocracy every bit as fundamentalist as the Muslim Nations that it continues to lead a war for oil against, Great Britain is far less concerned with matters of Church than State, instead breading the sort of Iconoclasts and Heretics that are more than willing to stand alone and watch both sides in that particular Twenty-First Century Crusade kill each other over whose Godform has the bigger crozier and bloodier hands.
Yet get enough Heretics together under a single banner, throw in a few outspoken pseudo-celebrities such as Brian Cox and Susan Blackmore, and you have a movement, and one that is every bit as dangerous to us Magickians as the Mainstream Religions that organised Skepticism was created to oppose. Despite recent opinion pieces in the daily Print Media claiming something of a failure for the so called Atheist Spring that typified the desire for social evolution in early Twenty-First Century Britain, Skepticism remains a very real threat to our right to think as we please. Add the influence of such unapologetically vocal Ultra-Skeptics as Richard Dawkins, who has recently become notorious for claiming that bringing a child up within a religion is in some ways more damaging to their continued mental well-being than sexual abuse, to the mix and you soon have a media juggernaut that consistently generates column inches in amounts second only to the mainstream Religions themselves, most of it positive due to the Pro-Skeptical slant of many of the UK newspapers.
But, while many view the Skeptical Movement as a harmless diversion, as someone who has moved in Skeptical Circles at Grass Roots level I can personally attest to the continued threat posed by those that flock to their banner to anyone that holds any form of Belief other than in their much quoted One Commandment, the suddenly staunchly Atheistic Scientific Method. In this case, the enemy of my enemy is far from my friend; the Skeptics view us all as opponents of reason, be we Occultists, Pagans, Christians or whatever else gets you through the day, and would gladly inoculate our children against the apparently irrational ideas that we carry within our collective psyche if given half the chance. Such Memetic Eugenics is exactly what they have in mind, working or studying within the higher education system as many of them do, and despite the best efforts of a few members of the modern Occult Community to get the message out that we have fallen into something of a stupor regarding the continued need to watch our backs and fight for our rights, nothing seems to change.
While we sit in Second Life and share ideas for Sigils, the Christians in the US Senate try to censor the internet. While the Pagans meet up in pubs and chew over the best places to buy candles, the Skeptics meet up on university campuses and plan entire multifaceted campaigns against those that do not think the same way that they do. There are Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Skeptical lobby groups all fighting over the scraps of Western Civilisation, while the Magickal refuse to stand together and make their voices heard on legislation that will one day matter to them. The James Randi Educational Foundation endorses groups that regularly undermine the validity, and in certain cases re-edit whole chunks of, Wikipedia entries on Paranormal subjects, while the Parapsychological Community looks the other way and refuses to mobilise to defend their borders. We allow the Celebrity Media to publish poorly researched slam pieces about Peaches Geldof and her supposed ties to the ‘Satanic’ O.T.O. without bringing them to task about their lies, yet we watch Skeptics and Christians descend like vultures to peck away at any Pro-Occult piece that somehow gets through the censors as if it is acceptable to hide our heads in the sand and take it up the ass.
The bottom line is a simple one: I can no longer sit by while my fellow Pagans, Witches and Occultists remain oblivious to the wolf at the door threatening to blow their house of cards down around their ears, yet there seems little that I or anyone else can actually do unless those around me also wake up to the reality of the situation that faces us all. We must unify as a Movement, even if is one that acknowledges out desperate Paths, for our continued survival in an increasingly hostile social environment. Because mark my words well, the world is indeed changing, and we who would strive to remain Free need to either drag those in positions of power within our Occult and Pagan Hierarchies kicking and screaming into the Twenty-First Century to lead us against the growing tide of anti-Occult sentiment, or make them stand aside so that the next generation can take up the mantle in their stead. Perhaps it is poignant to note, in closing, that we could learn a great deal from the way the Skeptical Activists approach their chosen target; they have shown great unity and indeed ingenuity in finding avenues to create genuine change in line with their Will. Yet the greatest shame is that said target is, in truth, all of us, and as such every victory for them is little better than a brick in our collective cell wall.