all of us know the good old stereotype of the witch, the devil’s servant. Perhaps no “witches” are burnt in Europe anymore yet in other parts of the world – literal – witch hunts are still common. Take this for instance:
[…] [amnesty international] said the witch hunters, said to be from neighbouring Guinea, were invited into Gambia after the death of the president’s aunt earlier this year was blamed on witchcraft.
Amnesty spoke to villagers who said they had been held for up to five days and forced to drink unknown substances, which they said caused them to hallucinate and behave erratically.Many said they were then forced to confess to being witches. In some cases, they were also allegedly severely beaten, almost to the point of death.
Sounds pretty much like what we used to learn in history class, doesn’t it? All those horror stories of whole counties been cleared of women once the panic spread and everybody accused everybody of being a “witch”. It already scared me when I was a teenager and first heard of it but since I could call myself a “witch” (which I don’t but that’d be another topic) it does so even more. I don’t know what’s more frightening: Thinking of the inquisition and witch hunts as something that could have happened to literally everybody if she just had bad luck or a neighbour jealous for her lovely red apples or realizing that you do belong to the very minority group they were going after – thereby likely killing and torturing a hundred times as many non-“witches” then “witches”.
Sure there’s all that crap about “freedom of religion” going on in Middle Europe – though as soon as one takes a closer look there’s little left of it but beautiful words written down in important documents – and, certainly, there are no witch hunts anymore. Yet sometimes, in dark moments, when I read the newspaper and – more alarmingly – talk to people on the streets or just feel myself into the mood of the people and how it is changing, I cannot help but ask myself how much more it is going to take until people will be on the streets out hunting for culprits again.
Unfortunately as people tend to retreat to religion in times of crisis – which is why we do see a greater religiosity within Christians (even though it doesn’t keep them from quitting with the Roman Catholic Church) – and as they tend to become more radical as they do so, I sometimes feel the growing group of “Neo-Pagans” is a likely target for renewed witch hunts. In the end we are the very people who tend to be free-minded (yet certainly not all are), plain different. Different people have always been perceived as dangerous. And of course the biases bread into the very heard of the Christian churches are still as intact as they used to be in 1700, it’s just that it’s not PC to say them out loud anymore. And the worst is that, within a radical Christian’s morals, they don’t even mean bad. They thought and, one day, might think again that all the do is “rescuing the soul” of a person taken over by the devil. If you were really really and 100% sure that there is a heaven and a hell and you loved somebody deeply, wouldn’t you take every means available in order to make sure he or she (or his/her soul) goes straight to heaven? Wouldn’t you risk those few hours of agony if you were 100% positive that you’d buy him or her eternal life in paradise with that? And remember that you love that person more then your own life. As usual it’s easy to claim those people are just f*cked up completely, the truth is more difficult; there is a certain logic behind it if you just think their way. And that means it could happen again.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think it is going to happen. Yet sometimes as I see times getting more difficult (and nobody dares to say where it is going to stop anymore) I wonder whether we Pagans, as unorganized and fractionated within as we are, aren’t all too easy a target … Sure the Muslim would be too yet they are too strong; Panicking people just tend to go after the weakest members of society of whom they can be sure they won’t strike back
… the fires are still burning. Deep within …