Modern day witches – Wiccans – care about the environment, recycle, grow herbs, believe in karma and only buy organic, local produce… sound familiar? Just about everyone we know could be one. After centuries of being ridiculed, burnt at the stake, banished and drowned, witches everywhere must be relieved they’re finally in vogue – because they’re genuinely green.
We’ve just had 160 of them here. During the fall, camp is hired out to various groups to sustain it. There have been Quaker children, old black chaps from Oakland, eager Americorp troops, wealthy philanthropic businessmen and Wiccans, or goddesses as they prefer to be called.
Our woods were filled with butterflies – not a toad or black cat anywhere – and feminie statues, venerating goddesses from all over the globe: Isis (Egyptian), Sappho (Greek), Fortuna (Roman), Yemaya (African), Sheela Na Gig (Celtic) and Pele (Hawaiian). They ate mounds of salad and soy products, wore tiaras instead of hats, slept amongst the trees and spent a lot of time talking, smiling, hugging and beating on drums – in nature.
To say the least I was disappointed. Where was all the evil? The fern loving white witches were very wholesome creatures that wouldn’t hurt a spider, let alone cook it with a lock of hair and shoelace to cast a spell. I preferred it when they wore black, were warty and lived in haunted houses; at least they were interesting.
The dark side will vanish if nobody believes in it. You and I used to think poltergeists existed when we were twelve-year-old Christians, now we don’t believe in anything, good or bad. There’s no horned Lucifer tempting us (just ourselves). No supernatural. No ghosts. No afterlife. No spells. No wizards. No superstitions. Everything is explainable. I don’t even throw salt over my shoulder or knock on wood.
Imagine my scepticism when the Wiccans invited all the women in camp to a full moon ceremony in the amphitheatre. A friend from San Francisco was staying and we feared they might try to convert us, so stayed home drinking Zinfandel, making jokes about how nice everything is… Will goblins start managing the compost? What about fairies – are they busy flying under the ozone hole? Let’s hope vampires don’t start getting fussy about omnivore vs. vegan blood.
Boy, did we miss out. The female Chef, Camp Director, Other Mother and a Camp Leader all went. There, on stage, two goddesses stood two metres apart holding between their sternums a rebar – reinforcing steel, usually set into concrete and impossible to bend with human (female) strength. Then, amongst climactic drumming they eyeballed each other and leant inwards until the bar bent in the middle. About fifty goddesses participated, including two 70-year-olds and Copperfield was nowhere in sight. At the end they invited the camp women on stage, and, feeling the peer pressure, all four reluctantly stepped up. To their amazement, when the drumming began, their bars bent too. True.
The six foot, burly, Camp Dads tried to bend a straight re-bar the next day using the same technique and it wouldn’t budge! They had everyone enthralled with their magick and I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t held the Other Mother’s bar. When I asked how it was done their leader said they bent with love: love for each other, love for The Goddess (she version of God) and love for nature. It was not witchy-poo dark and mysterious but very powerful nonetheless. The dark side may be disappearing but the white side is not so dull.
It’s not every day a pagan full moon ceremony happens in your own back yard; I missed seeing it because I feared some sort of conversion. Wiccans don’t care for such nonsense. They did, after all, invent karma. My cynical mind has learnt a small lesson – don’t sit on the couch when something fruity might be happening. My new home continues to surprise me.
PS. If you were a witch, I know you would be deliciously bad