Sunday, December 12, 2004


the cold-weather theory of witchcraft

Harvard economics' own Emily Oster has one of the year's top ideas, according to the hipsters at the NYT magazine at least.

Interesting article but I don't buy it. Speaking as a witch myself, with a fairly diverse background experience of reading up on witchcraft, the witch trials were part and parcel of the systematic oppression of the Christians which began centuries before such atrocities as Salem. There might be some degree of truth in what's being proposed, ie it may have been a factor, but at the end of the day what started the burnings and hangings and all the rest was that traditional bastard known as religious intolerance along with its brother-in-arms, cultural imperialism.
Pope Innocent VIII was, as with all such villains of religious oppression, operating with a specific agenda. While he went to great pains to point out the alleged destruction wreaked by witches in league with a devil they didn't believe in or acknowledge the existence of, he and others speaking from the same corner then and now failed and fail to reference the destruction wreaked on the environment by Christians over time.

There are too many instances to reference here, but the obliteration of the oak groves in Britain stands out as worthy of shameful note: massive culling of trees as part of the effort to wipe out the Druids, who saw the groves as sacred and made use of them in their rites.

Much environmental destruction on the part of Christians through the ages stems from the notion that God gave us the earth to rape and pillage and do what we will with - it's an abhorrent notion still repeated by right-wing Republican advocates on US radio chat shows, not to mention it being an underlying principle for George W Bush in his encroachment upon Alaska for more oil despite the melting of the permafrost. Set against the fundamental pagan premise shared by witches and pagans of all kinds throughout the ages - namely, that the earth and all creatures living on it are sacred and to be treated with respect - it is clear we can see who, if anyone, can be blamed for environmental disasters throughout the ages, no more so than today, beyond those events we can simply lay at the foot of nature's own door. The recent tsunami, I'm not sure if that's down to nature per se or a reaction to what we're doing to the earth with our polluting and drilling and bombing. Who knows what nuclear testing under the sea does to the planet? Who knows what drilling for oil and gas do to the delicate balance of things? We should learn from the past not to scapegoat, and not to pass the buck. It's time the world got its act together before its too late for all of us, Christians, witches, Muslims, whatever. Whether we believe in a God, or gods, or not at all, we need to agree it's time to quit our childish infightings and nurture the earth rather than wage war against it. In so doing, we will not win.
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