I had been through a hard transition. In my senior year of High School I had "come out" as a Wiccan. As it was a Catholic school I was damn near expelled, passed over for National Honor Society, and demeaned by the nuns for the remainder of the term.
Then... I was at University. I was suddenly - jarringly - free. I could pick my own courses, no one cared that I was a Witch, no one restricted my thoughts, or gave explicit directions regarding my academic future. I was free...and terribly, terribly lost.
"Thoughts of the Past" depicts a prostitute standing at the window of her humble room on the London docks. Her surroundings are suppose to symbolize her low condition - from dying plants, discarded violets on the floor, a man's walking cane and gloves left behind, and a scuffed and scarred vanity upon which rests her costume jewelry. The hay being off-loaded from the ship down in the harbor is a commodity, as is she. This was a a once innocent country girl transformed into a "soiled dove."
However, I saw this poster in 1972. To me it cried "bohemian" and echoed the values and the belongings of my hippie friends. Love beads, return to Nature, living off the grid divorced from the money chase, free love (although, that wasn't part of my personal philosophy)... and there she stood, brushing her long red hair and thinking back over her Path. How had she gotten here? Where did the path swerve? Was there ever a chance to steer a different course? Is it all worth it?
I so loved this painting that, on my first trip to London, I went to the Tate Gallery. The Stanhope was not on display, but my friend begged the director for a personal viewing. Into the stacks we went, where I had a glorious half hour, up front and personal, with "Thoughts...".
I have a copy of the Stanhope on my wall to this day, 45 years after I first set eyes on it. I still go through periodic depression. I've gone through it lately, in fact, where the fundamental question became, "Is it still worth it?" Are the illnesses, limitations, loneliness, lack of success, a price I'm willing to pay for staying on the planet? Have I been of benefit to ANYONE? Or...am I merely taking up space and air that another might use to greater advantage? Am I worth it? Do I make a difference? Does anyone want or need what little I have to offer?
The one thing I have never contemplated is "revision". I may not cherish all my actions and associations from my past, but I have never sought to erase those parts of my life journey where I walked towards something unhealthy, or where some one's now regretted footsteps were next to mine. I may do a directional recalculation, but never a deliberate deletion.
What brought this all up, you might ask. Well, I was doing research for my blog when I came across a pod broadcast from 2017. I knew the guest, so I decided to give a listen. They were discussing the author's new book, but the interviewer also seemed very interested in how his guest became a Witch. At that point, so was I. I had initiated and trained this individual, but I had become a "persona non grata" about a decade ago. (I was never given a reason why.) The author told a tale of being influenced by a book encountered in grammar school. It sparked her interest in witches and she began her research, and that was the beginning.
I was completely written out of her narrative.
I found that I had little to no personal, emotional response to this. After all, it had no impact on my own life, but I will admit it left me a bit sad. It is not the first time revisionist, magical, history has reared its ugly head, I remember when I first met Laurie Cabot. She asked me my tradition. When I answered "Celtic", she replied, "What's that?"
Now she are one, and claims she always was. Ah, well.
I got a small insight into my former student when she and the host discussed the film, "The Witch". At the end of the movie, the goat named Black Phillip (the devil in disguise), when asked what he could offer the teenage girl Tomasin, says: "Wouldst thou like the taste of butter? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live...deliciously?" See this eerie clip below.
The author summed this up by saying, "What's YOUR butter? YOUR pretty dress? What would you sacrifice to get what you want? The wanting is sexy." Perhaps friendship, integrity, loyalty, and history, are offered up on the altar, wiped away with the pricking of a thumb, and the signing (or even writing) of a book.
Is this healthy? Is it better to contemplate the Path you've walked, owning it all, or to simply edit out the portions of the Past which no longer serve you? Is it less stressful to claim a "do-over", or an avoidance of necessary - if inconvenient - life lessons? After all, Peter denied being a disciple of Jesus three times, and he STILL got to be the foundation rock of the Church. Things worked out OK for him, right?
What about all the "little roots" and "saplings" left behind once you fell the massive, unwanted, trees in your life?
What about the people who were witness to the original events? Do you call them liars? Win them over to the edited story? Eradicate the ones who no longer suit the new script? How much DO you have to offer up for that taste of butter, that lick of fame, that pretty garment of rebirth and reinvention?
Is this what the last generation has made of Paganism and the Craft? Is this what the next one is being taught? Have we moved from Wicca to Orwellian? From Kitchen Witch to Kisch? Are this year's Witches willing to do what they must, pay any price, to live "deliciously"?
In my youth, that's what we called The Dark Path.
|Just trying to lighten the mood...|
Input is welcomed, so let me know your thoughts.
Peace, and Blessed Be.