My warning labels

I’m not a chest pounder. I don’t flash my titles and initiations and backgrounds. I do my work, I shut the f— up until I’ve done my deeds and for the most part I stay away from covens, lodges, or anything involving a group mind. Why? Because I dislike them. It’s one thing to cooperate. It’s another to conform to the point where you have to routinely ignore restrictions and laws that work against your mental health. That said, I am seriously considering learning more about and if possible from some groups I’ve encountered recently, if they’ll have me, but if it’s not a proper fit, I will likely resume my free form ways.

I also love magic, and think about it a lot. Sometimes I have ideas about some cool things people might want to try. I like to help people with magic whether or not they’re Pagan. I have helped a few folks find their peace and happiness and seeing that happen is the best feeling in the world. I get approached as though I’m a rank beginner a lot – Mat Auryn calls it “Witchsplaining.” So I find it necessary to say a few things,especially since I’ve aged out of the ageism but now have to deal with other tiresome assumptions and jumped-to conclusions.

Because this is clearly going to be a thing in the blogosphere – the assumption that my opinions or stating a disagreement with someone else’s opinions are automatically a threat to someone’s well being as has become the wont of Internet behavior (usually with absolutely no evidence, threats, or even intention made on my  part) I’m going to lay a few things down here:

  • I am going to have opinions about things that are posted in the public sphere. Sometimes I am going to talk about them. Sometimes you won’t like them. Unless I call you out by name, if you take my opinions personally you are likely due for some introspection because I don’t have the time to personally attack anyone. Save the flame wars for someone who cares.
  • I don’t magically attack people. But if I get attacked, I respond the same way I do when someone gets physically violent: I will knock you down until you stop getting up, and then I will walk away. If you get too pushy, I will make sure you can’t get up for a good long time. I won’t start a fight but I always finish them.
  • Unless I ask to join your group, or we’ve known each other a long time and I know – KNOW I can trust you –  I’m not into it. The reason I run the Emperor Norton Pagan group in San Francisco is because, with the exception of two other groups in the Bay area, most Pagan/magical people stuff is best put “come and do it our way.” I’ve been questioned as to why I even have group meetings on Wicccan Sabbats…even though by now most Pagans should know not all Pagans observe the wheel of the year and not all magic workers are Pagan. This simple concept of diversity has proven to be far more than a few locals can grasp. Even more shocking to some, a circle with four elements does not represent Paganism, it represents Wicca, although it is certainly a serviceable form for magic whether or not you identify as Wiccan.
  • I would argue that globally, most magic workers are not of white Eurocentric traditions. It really bugs me when people talk about Wicca or European-inspired Paganism as the only witchcraft around. Wicca isn’t interchangeable for witchcraft because witchcraft is a cultural universal and Wicca isn’t.
  • If I attend your public ritual, I am not going to say a word about how I do things. It’s your group. I am a very experienced event runner- I may have some practical suggestions about getting people talking and involved or making entrances and exits smoother…but only if you ask.
  • Getting upset over someone converting in or out of a religion (or “your”) religion is as absurdly petty as having a tantrum because someone comes out of the closet as gay or trans. If you’re committed to a spiritual path, you’re going to evolve on your schedule – not on the schedule of public opinion.

Since it’s important to some readers (and to me somewhat appalling since actions speak louder than titles) here’s my”resume” so to speak:

  • I have a 3rd degree elevation in Wicca. If you want to know the name of my initiator, you better have a reason that isn’t petty. I’m not claiming I’m any kind of BTW.
  • I identify as recovering Wiccan. This is not an indictment of all Wicca, because Wicca is highly diverse in its own way. It’s simply not where I feel I’m at – which is not to say I didn’t find my time with it valuable. I am going to delete comments defending Wicca or attacking me for leaving it because they aren’t relevant – my participation or non-participation in any religion is no indicator of its validity. (Jamie may overrule me, but for now, you have been warned.)
  • I have practiced magic and identified as Pagan since 1996.
  • I love magic, Harry Dresden style.
  • I am a spiritual warrior. I didn’t pick it, it picked me. To be honest, I can’t say I’m thrilled with that because it really messes with my sleep schedule and my writing/gym time.
  • I am polyamorous, and arguably a queered straight woman. No, I am not debating this or elaborating for you.
  • I have spent a significant portion of my writing career pushing out Better Homes and Gardens style articles on magic.
  • I prefer discussion to debate. I tend to apologize when I offend someone because often defending is useless and makes it about my ego rather than their legitimate need to be heard. I’d rather hear a new idea.
  • I get really irritated by someone trying to tell me how I feel about things. You don’t know that…at all. Context is everything, and all you see are pixels. I get more irritated when someone tries to tell me what the “correct” opinions are. New information comes to light all the time – it’s hard to keep up.
  • I have noticed that the people complaining about the “PC police” are really complaining about being held accountable when asinine. (Again…if it doesn’t harm you, or you have to make up a story to justify your fixation…then why are you doing/saying that?)
  • I am the city priestess where I live. When I can explain how the hell that happened, I’ll tell you. I’m not the only witch or priestess around – I’m just the one explicitly “hired” by the city spirit.
  • Phrases like “no true Pagan” piss me off like a cat riding an M-80.
  • I try to be kind and civil – but both are often misinterpreted as weak. Do not make this mistake.

My moral system is as follows:

  • Does person doing x harm me or my loved ones? If yes, to what degree?
  • Does this person doing x affect my life? If no, I have things to do.
  • How does this thing I am going to do affect others? (Note, I do NOT ask whether others will like it – I ask how it AFFECTS them.)
  • If my actions are going to affect someone or have, what is the honorable way to deal with it?
  • In what ways can I be proactive about my life?
  • NO is a word of power.
  • I do like the Witches’ Pyramid but I’ve altered “to be silent” to “to discern” in my personal practice. Arguably discernment could go under “to know” but let’s explore that another time.
  • Respecting diversity is a commitment I have made – and that calls for introspection. Am I uncomfortable with someone’s practice of theistic Satanism because they’re actually doing something evil, or just because I’ve been taught to be scared of the devil to the point where I’m not actually looking at what this person is doing or saying? (Is this person doing or saying something that would be red flag under any circumstance?) If there is no one true way, some true ways are going to make me more uncomfortable than others because they aren’t my way.
  • I find far too many people try to pass negativity off as insight.
  • Yes, I’ve written books.

Contents under pressure. Will not explode quietly or politely.



About the Author

Diana Rajchel lives at the western edge of San Francisco, where sea creatures and hippies meet, breed, and glower at gentrification. From this liminal place she runs the Emperor Norton Pagan Social, writes about magic, herbs, and human quirks, and looks to both sidewalk and sky for wisdom. She is the author of Divorcing a Real Witch, the Mabon and Samhain installments of the Llewellyn Sabbat essentials series, and a title on Urban Magic to be released by Llewellyn in 2018.

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1 Comment

  1. I love this article. Many of the sentiments and ideas are very similar to my own. I try to always consider the effect of my actions on those around me, especially those I care for. It doesn’t always change what I think/feel/do, but I do try to at least give some thought to it. Well said.

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