One thing that I see on several LiveJournal communities I’m a member of is what is called “snarking”. Basically defined, this is making fun of someone who says or does something stupid. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who give free ammunition to the various group who do the snarking, simply by being who they are.
An example of this is the people who beg continually for permission to do something they want to do. It’s interesting to see them. They come into a group and say something like “would it be okay to hate my boyfriend for beating me up?” They are looking to get their natural urges validated by people they don’t even know. I can only assume that it is to get some kind of permission to do what they want to do.
The problem with that is that they are looking for that validation in a place they can’t get it from. They are looking to a bunch of strangers to receive permission to do what they should be doing.
It is a normal human urge to want to get support for a proposed action. I have suspicions (although no proof) that this dates back to when the cavemen would hunt in groups. By mutually supporting each other they could take on bigger and bigger prey and each member could be alert for trouble. If more people joined the group, the more eyes would be on guard.
So asking friends and family if doing something is appropriate is good since one can get a “reality check” and receive instant validation of a proposed action. More people and more eyes also means that it’s likely that flaws can be spotted, and those who are not emotionally charged up about the issue can take a dispassionate look at the situation and offer other commentary.
So in this case it’s good that there are others willing to be that reality check for some.
But in things where common sense should rule, it’s a shame that more and more people are actively looking for this same validation from others. In the above example, it should be a no brainer to go “Yes, it is acceptable to hate someone for hurting you. It is human, it is normal.” It may not be the best thing to have happen, the highest ideal thing, but there should be no question that it is a normal reaction.
Looking to a bunch of strangers for that is not too bright.
Wanting to have others make your decisions for you and to tell you what is and is not acceptable is giving them power. But let me back up for a minute here.
Power that I’m going to talk about is the innate birthright of everyone on this planet. It is the power to make decisions for yourself. It is called “Free Will”. It is yours from the moment you are born till you die. You make the choices and decisions in your life. You and no other. Even when it looks like others are making decisions for you, what they are doing is making decisions that you are following along with. YOU still make the decision to cooperate. Even slaves have the power to make their own decisions and they do so. They make the decisions their owners want them to make because the price of making a decision that is counter to their owner’s will is too high for them. It may be a beating, it may be that they are sold, it may be that they are killed or what have you, but they still make the decision to go along with what they are told to do.
Some made differing decisions and they paid high prices for that. They decided to run away or to say “No” to the overseer. They made decisions to slack off and to not work as hard, or they made decisions to scare the children of their owners by singing horror songs to them in the crib. They made those decisions and they paid the consequences for that.
Paganism and Wicca both teach you responsibility and taking credit and blame for your own actions. That is what the Rede is all about as well as the Threefold Law. Each of those show you that you are responsible for your actions and inactions and the consequences flowing from them. You and no one else.
Other faiths teach that there are deities who will take all the blame and all the punishment for your decisions. This is called “scapegoating” and it places the blame on a sacrificial lamb (or human) and they are then killed ritualistically to take all that with them, so those participating in the ritual are clean of blame again. They still had to deal with the consequences of their actions, but it was a way to cleanse the people involved in something of their lingering anger and hatred over what had happened.
But most Pagan paths gives you back that responsibility and that power. YOU are once again in control of your own life, not some god, not your parents, not a bunch of strangers on the Internet. There are ALWAYS options open to you if you look for them and if you choose to take those options. The problem is that most times people decide that they don’t want to take those options because the consequences are too high. That’s fine. But they are not powerless. They still have the power.
Why anyone would voluntarily give away that power to someone else is beyond me. Here you have a faith path who teaches that you are in control of your life, but then you turn around and give that control to another because they say so? How silly is that?
Just as bad as those people are the ones who use divination to the same purpose.
The scenario falls out like this: you have a deck of tarot cards. You do a reading for yourself. The foretold event happens. That gives you some faith in that deck and you start doing more and more divinations to “take a peek” into the future and see what will happen. More and more often you use the tarot cards to tell you what will occur tomorrow. Pretty soon you are using divination to determine what time you should go to bed, or if you should have pancakes instead of waffles for breakfast.
That’s an extreme situation, but it occurs all the time. What makes it insidious is that it comes from simply wanting to be safe. It comes directly from fear.
The future is a scary place. There is no telling from one moment to another what random event could occur and which will have an effect on you. How many people were caught without preparation when September 11, 2001 occurred? How many people had no clue it was even a remote possibility? How many do you think would have been willing to give a lot to have the power to look ahead into the future after that?
Divination offers a way to look ahead and see what is coming up, and plans can be made at that point. But there is a flaw in this theory. The future is fluid and constantly changing.
If the future were a road, leading from one place to another place, a few twists and turns, but mostly one straight line, then divination would be a very useful tool. But stop and consider for a moment what would happen if Winston Churchill decided NOT to run for Prime Minister just before WWII. It was a possibility since he was a disliked member of Parliament. But things would have been very different in a lot of ways. And that is an example of how the future is fluid.
ANY decision you make changes tomorrow. Paths for you to travel open and others close. Some chances never come again, and others keep coming back around forever until you choose them. And you are not the only one who influences the future, everyone who makes a decision influences the future. Like with the tragedies that we keep seeing in the news. Had those terrorists decided not to do what they did, our present would be very different from what it is now. Same for the terrorist organization who sent them. One decision changes the course of history.
Now, do a divination at this point. Ask if anyone is going to die in the next year. Get your answer. Publish that answer. Then have someone make a decision like Sep 11, and get criticized for not seeing that obvious tragedy. But what they fail to realize is that at the time of the divination, the decision had not been made yet. Until that decision is made, you can’t see it in your divination. Therefore, the future can change.
It operates the opposite way too, and thus using something like divinations to make your decisions easier is useless because it only shows what is most likely to happen at the time of the divination if nothing changes. And that isn’t bloody likely.
This is why anecdotal evidence for divination comes up heavily in favor of the ESP and psychic abilities but scientific quantification of the same continues to fail, because there are too many elements in flux to be able to control it in a lab.
So relying on divination to make life choices can be a helpful element, it is not something one should rely on for major decisions solely. The same can be said for spells for many of the same reasons.
Remember, a spell is only a prayer with some additional energy and willpower behind it. If praying for help or for a situation to happen isn’t getting it, then a spell may help a bit, but it’s probably not going to. All spells can do is to nudge a situation to become more likely to happen. So an unlikely situation goes to slightly unlikely and a slightly unlikely situation can go to slightly likely and so on. It only gets a little better, but it is NO guarantee that the situation is going to happen.
Casting a spell to make your boyfriend stop beating you is about as helpful as praying that your best friend stop hitting your dog. The only thing that is really going to help is actual, real, palpable action.
Restraining orders, police involvement, videotape, divorce are all things to help in an immediate sense that will do far more than casting a spell.
Yet there are still those who will go onto lists and ask for a spell to make their boyfriend stop hitting them.
Clue-by-four time: If you don’t say something, if you don’t stand up for yourself, if you don’t do a real action that will help the situation, all the spells and prayers in the world are not going to help. That’s a fact.
A spell is wish fulfillment. That is all it is. It can help slightly, but not nearly enough to be able to actually change the situation. This is not fantasy where the magic forces make sparkly-shiny woo-woos around the target and they get a vacant look in their eyes and come to reason with how things should be and he’s a changed person. That is fiction. The only thing that is going to change them is years of therapy, and that’s only if they want to change in the first place.
EVERY practitioner of any metaphysical tradition, be it Wicca, Shadow Witchcraft, Asatru, Otherkin ways, all the way up to the High Magic traditions of Solomon’s Key and the OTO have had to face this fact at one point or another; the most effective magic and the best spell is simple mundane effort. Just working within the rules of society generally causes more to happen than all the spells in the world. Doing so will have you actually accomplishing something, and it will look more like you are trying to work things out on your own.
By all means, SO LONG AS YOU WORK MUNDANELY ALSO, do your spells. But don’t expect the lottery to drop in your lap without buying a ticket.
Asking for spells when all hope is lost or when you have tried everything you can is fine, but make sure that you have done everything it is in your power to do. Believe me, there will be many people on the groups you ask on that will tell you to do mundane things first.
Just patiently explain that you DID all that and while you may still get some assholes who are giving you a hard time due to being a “newbie” and “spell begging”, some will be willing to help you. The help you get will more than likely be in the form of suggestions on how to write your own spells, what to include and what not to include, but it will still help and you will learn a lot.
Using divination and spells as one tool among many is how these are supposed to work. One old saying goes “When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Knowing only how to solve a problem with a spell makes everything that comes down the pike look like a problem to be solved with a spell. However, almost none of the problems you will encounter should be solved with a spell.
I can honestly only think of a few times when spells and divination should be the first tool you use to fix your problem. Healings and times when you cannot be there physically to help another are those situations. All others should be solved with mundane efforts in addition to the spells and divination.
Used in conjunction, the combination of spell/divination and mundane effort can be a devastating combination to your problem. Used alone however, spells and divination will only complicate the problem a lot since you won’t do anything to actually solve the problem waiting for the spell to work.
And that means that you will have piddled away every opportunity to actually do something constructive in relation to your problem.