As you may have guessed I’ve been rather bogged down with work life and study pressures. While this has been stressful in its own right, I’ve also found that I haven’t been able to be as focal on some of the issues facing the world, humanity or even my own little corner thereof. I’m not naturally an activist, whether it is the occult/pagan aspect or whether it is the gay aspect to my life. In fact, I’ve always presented myself as an advocate – someone who can speak up for someone who can’t speak for themselves but who was there ultimately to help others speak for themselves.
In recent months my attitude to protesting and activism has changed. While Facebook and other social media remain active with people protesting or voicing their disagreements with the system (in Ireland we’ve had the establishment of water charges being fought, accusations of tax evasions between ministers and even the covering of child abuse by former Government officials). From these visible pagan or occult commentary has been somewhat lack lustre – don’t get me wrong, many of my pagan friends have been commenting but in a markedly reserved fashion.
A few months back I made concerted effort to post and remediate (reposting with critical commentary) on some of the issues facing the occult and pagan communities. Namely I posted on issues of child abuse and so-called “Big Name Pagans” or career occultists who were using their position of respect and authority to abuse others. Some of these individuals were not, shall we say, “avouched” members of the communities and one was even a fraud claiming initiation.
In my post I criticised the occult/pagan communities’ reliance on vouching (a system of private or “back-channel” checking of credentials) because this system does not engage with the mainstream and check for abuse. In fact, checking for a person’s vouch merely checks whether they were “duly initiated” in the manner befitting the particular tradition. This has often lead to a state of “out of sight, out of mind” for individuals accused/found guilty of abuse (either emotional/mental, physical or sexual) to move along. The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and elsewhere found this tactic to be very manageable in terms of protecting Holy Mother Church.
One of the reasons I chose to speak out on these issues is because they are so rampant. I’d also seen and experienced what it was like for someone to be ousted from a group on false claims based on innuendo and had some well known occultists telling me to keep my mouth shut because my vocalising the issues was messy and not indicative of someone developing in the magical community (this particular commentator was less articulate at the time and ironically used a lot of profanity to express his ideas of who I was into this situation). I had others accuse me of breaking my oaths – others who were not present for my Oath within MOAA and therefore haven’t a clue what I swore to do or not do! (FYI: the Golden Dawn obligation, before someone takes it they are assured that nothing of the Order or its members or the obligation will run counter to one’s moral, ethical or legal obligations – basically you can’t use your oaths to hide criminals or wrong-doing!) While what happened to me was not on the level of some of the issues I posted about this year, it was indicative of our attitudes toward dealing with problems around making judgements and decisions based on those judgements.
Over on his blog Nick Farrell posted two entries. The first was called Modern Esoteric Groups Have a Judgement Problem, in which he outlines several of the issues with covering up mistakes and staying out of it because of attitudes toward the idea of group wars. Yes, group wars happen and they often happen for inconsequential slights (perceived or otherwise) but sometimes they also happen because someone has royally f*cked up! Nick sums up his point quite well when he says:
My biggest concern was that I was in two esoteric groups where the leaders went off the rails. It was never mentioned publically and those groups continued with their reputations untarnished by problems which should have haunted them. I often wonder if by not judging I put others in harms way. (emphasis mine)
Whether you are aiming to cultivate a rose or a lotus, a tree or a garden some general gardening tips are to let the plants germinate in the soil of course. They do need the dark, moist earth to help them break out of their bulbs and journey to the light. The same is true for initiates which spring forth on budding petals from that seed. We should not be asked to remain in the dark because “it is better” for the Tradition (seed). I hold a lot of guilt for what happened in the esoteric group I was with because had I not being so reserved in my judgements things may well have transpired differently.
Nick’s other blog, 20 Things An Adept Never Does, is more of a humourous slant on things…if you’ve not had a look do so now! Done? Good now you know what not to do to become the next Supreme!
Honestly, though Nick’s list is satrical in nature it does prove a point lists of criteria for what marks an adept or elder in a community can just be as crippling to the community or tradition especially if that list is premised of some lofty ideals which ignore the world around us.
In recent months, there have been some measures taken by some individuals to form actionable plans to mainstream reporting of abuse or other illegal activities from marginalised groups that may not be reported in social media.