Page name: The Commercialist Witch [Logged in view]
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So far we have looked at the rise of modern paganism, from the humble origins of the 1950's through to the revival and reinvention of the 1980's. But now we come to look at the most common type of modern pagan; the Commercialist Witch.
If you don't know by now, and if you don't where the Hell have you been for the past four years, I'm rather against the commercialist aspects of modern paganism. I resent entirely the notion that a witch is made by the pentacle they wear around their neck, rather than by the conviction they hold inside.
I despise openly the texts that seek to subvert the mind and convince the reader that only by the purchase of certain objects, which coincidently the author probably has more than a few stocks and shares in, that they can truly become an empowered human being.
I have nothing against the small adornments that signify one's faith- I actually own a rather small pentacle, I wear it at festivals and at any other gathering where it might be regarded as some sort of formality. But even then it's under my shirt most of the time and to be quite frank the need to wear it simply isn't there. I don't need the symbol around my neck to know what I am. So you'll forgive me I hope when I simply fail to understand why so many pagans feel that wearing masses of occult jewellery and clothing that proclaims their faith for a five mile radius in neon flashing lighting is a vital necessity to every day life.
I can forgive this kind of apparel at gatherings to an extent. Wearing ritual wear is all fine and dandy- just so long as you don't try and tell me you're wearing "traditional" ritual wear because I can assure you no peasant pagan from the 15th century ever wore a purple velvet cloak. But when you're going to the store to buy bread and milk do you really need to put on that shirt that has "Wiccan" scrawled on the front in classy black rhinestone? Does it somehow validate you further as a human being for people to be able to tell what you are at a blinded-by-sequins glance? Explain to me please, I really want to know. Why do you invest in t-shirts that state in huge text that Wicca is legal and you have a right to practice it? Who are you trying to convince; yourself or other people?
The same goes for your "ruby" encrusted athame. I wonder, just how many pagans by the hearth who you claim to be following in the footsteps of would have even had more than one knife in the house. And just how many had rubies in the hilt; even if they are just coloured glass.
So there you are shelling out money for modern products to take you back to your old fashioned roots. Is it just me or is the logic here seriously lacking? I'm not saying don't have tools or aides for your ritual work, what I'm saying is think before you buy, if you do buy. Do you really think your god cares how much money you spent on a chalice? Unless you worship a god of money, I very much doubt it. And even then they'd probably rather have the money.
Maybe it is just me, maybe I'm too rooted with the idea that magic comes from the Earth (har har, pun not intended I swear) that the idea of buying my magic just goes completely over my head. But I don't think so. I'd be a liar if I said I didn't have ritual tools or things that are blatantly occult in my possession, but I can guarantee you the more ornate and "out there" they are that it wasn't me that bought them. I have an ivy pentacle wall mount that someone gave me years ago. It's very nice but I've got nowhere to put it. I also don't have a concrete support wall on which to put it because I can tell you now that's the only thing that would be able to support it.
I've got a nice simple little chalice, it has a pentacle stamped in to one side but other than that it's not so fancy that I can't not use it. But here's the kicker, "it is made from the sacred "magical clay" from Glastonbury- y'know, where the mystical Isle of Avalon is meant to be?" Err...right, yes, thanks...but either all of Mother Earth is sacred or none at all...and uhm...Avalon...kinda...not real...
That's a fun thing to say at a pagan gathering let me tell you. The silence was overwhelming and then I'm not quite sure what happened. Later as I was hanging from the tree though...(*stops stealing from Bill Hicks*)
I've also got an "athame" but it also doubles as a bread knife. I often have a bit of a mad giggle to myself when I use it to cut up bread, reciting some of the more ostentatious things I've heard said at rituals and adding in my own bits and pieces.
"Oh Holy Mother we thank you for this offering, and with this holy knife we carve up this bread so that we might om nom nom it in your name and be thankful."
I'm resolutely glad that there is no Hell in my form of paganism, because by most other witches standards I'd be dropped in to Hell upon my death faster than you can say "blessed be."
But my main irk, my ultimate pet peeve is the clothing. Fine, fine, waste all your money on pretty tools if you really want, but for the love of the gods, what is with the crushed velvet? The black lace? All right fine I can even forgive that! I'll forgive it! But the one thing I refuse to forgive is the clothing that has pagan "slogans" on them! You don't need an expensive shirt that has "Wiccan" over the front and back. You don't need a shirt that states your religion, is a religion. *starts to smoke around the edges*
I had honestly thought that the online Playgans ranting was over. I thought it was dead, fini, mort. I had settled down to start writing a nice little informative book with less swearing and hopefully a lot more rationality. And then one day I walked in to my Revolutionary Cultures class and there in the corner huddled together, was what I'd term as being playgans.
They screamed "commercialist pagan" louder than a meet up at Stonehenge on the solstice. I physically twitched, it was an involuntary bodily movement; my entire body jerking back in pain and disgust. Like some sort of mad Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde moment I felt Dela moving to the front of my brain, wanting to take over the Fiona part and do something.
Instead I retreated to the opposite corner, as far away from them as possible but still in a good enough spot to get a good look at them. The one in the middle was a "typical" Goth. The one next to her however was a small mousy looking creature who kept going red whenever she saw me looking at her, she had a t-shirt on that said:
"Witchcraft is legal
Everyone has the right to freedom of
thought, conscience and religion:
This right includes freedom to change
his religion or belief and freedom
either alone of in community with
others and in public or private
to manifest his religion or belief in
teaching, practice, worship and
There was also something on the bottom of it but I couldn't get a good enough look at it, and all searches for the shirt online have resulted in an image so small I'd have to buy the damn thing to find out what it says. I have however a suspicion that it says something like "So mote it be!" or something equally Wiccany sounding in origin. The giant pentacle around her neck also kept drawing my eye. It looked like, with enough care and aim, that it could be used as an alternative to a throwing star. The other girl next to her had a similar one, but with a dragon motif over it.
At least that's what it looked like. By the end of the two hours they all looked decidedly twitchy. The fact that we had been discussing religion probably had something to do with it as well. One of them attempted to bring up the subject of "religious theft from the pagans" when discussing the rise of popularity of Christmas and before they'd even finished I had already launched in to a counter argument. My friend sitting next to me nearly wet herself laughing by the time I was done-apparently the disdain was dripping from my voice and pooling around me on the floor.
At the end when everyone had left there were three of us left in the room with the lecturer who had been "fascinated" by my arguments. Did I study religion formally or was it just a bit of a hobby? The next week when we all came back in one of them was wearing a cloak. At the end of that little meeting I was practically frothing at the mouth. They'd continued on with their little vendetta against the Christians that stole their beleifs and yet again I'd ended up trying to argue back calmly that Wicca was a new religion so their beliefs couldn't have been stolen. One of them tried to make me burst in to flames by glaring at me but years of online flame wars have made me pretty much immune to all forms of mental fire.
And then there was a surreal week in which we examined Dela. Yes, we looked at myself. In his eagerness to understand the term "playgan" that had got thrown out the previous week by my friend, my lecturer had gone home and googled it*.
It was one of the weirdest things I've ever had to sit through. Everyone always says you should analyse yourself, find out who you really are ,but this was like sitting down with yourself and offering them a cup of tea and asking them how they are getting on. Fight Club schizophrenia might possibly compare to it.
Apparently Dela is guilty of creating a popular trend in paganism herself. I am what I hate. Or at least I would be if I was in any way actually out to create some sort of fad. It's not my fault you people read this stuff and think it's good. (I love you really, really I do.) The playgans in the class were foaming at the mouth. I'm a religious radical, with extremist views. Yes, I am a fundamentalist. Fortunately for me that means not conforming to the ideas that makes paganism a ludicrous religion choice. I adhere to the fundamental beliefs that join all religions, and I act practically rather than moronically. I'm not in danger of looking like I'm about to pull a rabbit out of a hat or create flowers out of my baggy sleeve. Their argument that I'm trying to cash in on the capitalist market is utterly null and void. I do this for free, in what little time I have to myself...I never even considered writing a book until it was suggested to me. Nor did the idea of merchandise every occur to me until someone else perked up with "you know what a good idea would be..." In the end we concluded that although I am "Popular" I am not a part of the capitalist problem in religion.
And then someone started talking about Communism and it all stated to go a bit tits up from there. But aren't you glad friend comrade, to know that you are not a part of the problem, but the solution? We shall fight this Commercialist Witch until our last breathe is drawn, we shall stand in the face of Greed and Stupidity, united in the one single cause.
Friends, comrades, fellow compatriots...I give you Playgans The movement to liberate paganism from the commercialist market.
Viva! Viva la revolution!
(*Hi Jonathan. I hope you're still watching. Care to guess which one of the possible three this is? Although please remember, if you do guess my secret identity, I'm going to have to have you killed. Okay maybe not, but I'm going to have to ask that you don't bring it up again, at least not in class.)
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