Sunday, April 15, 2018

Spirit of Place: 1901 Postcard from Birmingham

And of course nothing has changed since then, either in favourable comparison to the capital or in slumminess! That said Inexplicable has a soft spot for the Old Square and this card shows what the houses were demolished to build.

Apologies

The Pope has issued an apology for the frankly disastrous way he has bollocksed up pissed on peoples trauma mishandled the appointment of a bishop in Chile. To cut a very long story short, there have been accusations made that the bishop in question was party to sexual abuse in the 1980s. *I* knew that these accusations had been made, so frankly there was no excuse for Il Papa to claim not to have known about it, which was exactly what he said. The protests actually in the cathedral at the bishop's installation should have warned him that the faithful (and good for them) were not happy. Instead he claimed to have no awareness of these accusations, despite other people having made it plain that these had been given to him in writing. He has now stopped denying knowing about it and has apologised for not believing these accusations. In fact he didn't even need to believe them, he only needed to get it investigated and decide whether it was prudent to proceed with the installation of that bishop given the strength of public feeling. What a creep.
So, having got the event which has prompted these meanderings out of the way, of course I'm going to pass comment on the fact of his having apologised, which is that of course the apology is bullshit. If he was ever going to be sorry about this, the situation wouldn't have arisen in the first place, and that is the problem with all apologies.
The origin of my problem with apologies is that I believe them to issue from the post-Judaeo-Christian society which surrounds us. Where else would we have got the idea from, that saying sorry about something will in some way make it better? In the Christian tradition there is a great tradition of confessing and expressing sorrow (obviously the mechanics vary between different flavours of Christians) and having the wrong done (they call it a sin) somehow wiped off the slate and forgotten. Sometimes there is a requirement of some sort of recompense either to God, or to the person you have wronged, or some requirement of performing some pious act in token of your true contrition.
All of this is, in my humble opinion, not only wrong but downright dangerous, because when these ideas of sorrow come into contact with human nature it becomes twisted into the idea that we can basically get away with it. This is exactly the twisted idea of contrition which has infested our modern culture. Politicians, bankers, ... it's a bit difficult to think of a group of people who haven't apologised publicly of recent years.
I don't know what these apologies are supposed to achieve (apart from to give an appearance of human decency to the apologiser), but my favourite analogy of what is wrong with apologies is the famous one of the broken plate. Break a plate, the idea goes, and then apologise to it. The plate remains in its broken state and the apology has not changed anything for it.
The shortcoming of the broken plate is the reality that if you apologise to a person they then might decide to forgive you for what you have done. (Although the phrase 'Pope Francis, we forgive you for appointing a man accused of abuse as our bishop and then ignoring us when we protested about this, but now it's all okay and you just carry on' is a phrase which it's frankly rather difficult to envisage anyone saying.)
I don't like the idea of forgiveness (I have written about this repeatedly here) because it encourages the idea that things we do can be undone. I think the common modern Pagan idea that the things we do will influence our own future, including beyond the grave, is a much healthier was of seeing the effects of our actions. It encourages a greater awareness of the importance of our actions. Naturally we can all make mistakes or whatever, so it isn't possible never to offend anyone, never to be in the wrong, never to make a misjudgement, but in smaller events as in events which hit world-wide media, an intention to do the right thing is a way of ensuring we don't end up apologising, which is the sign that we are not living intentionally.
And the way to know whether what we are doing is right, is to examine the exact signifcance of our actions. Actions speak louder than words, and (it's an easy example so I'm going to run with it) ignoring major protests about the appointment of a particular man as a bishop would indicate that you don't care about those people's opinions. Once again it returns to an examination of the nature of power, which so often indicates what is going on in a situation. Not only power between people, but our own power to do what we will and not to be expected to apologise.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Weighing up

Sometimes things go quiet, and that is reflected in my posting here. The wise witch uses these to recuperate ready for whatever ridiculousness is coming next.
These times are turning points but it is as if the witch is at the centre of the turning bit. My problem colleague is off on long term sick. I am still looking for another job rather lackadaisically, since I want something I like.
But the main sign for me that things are turning is that I have a number of illnesses going on, and illness is the universe's frequent way of communicating to us. It is telling me to slow down and think about it, and thus I am.
It's quite nice not to be surrounded by drama, it just feels rather strange!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

It may seem as if I've gone quiet. Naturally this is not the case and I'm frantically busy behind the scenes. I just look as if I'm resting.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My Field Trip to the Pitt Rivers Museum

I have revisited the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford after a gap of 20 years. Naturally it doesn't look to have changed much in that time, but has been the cause of my realisation that I have changed considerably. When I first visited, of course I was already a witch really: I just hadn't realised it. Now I am tending to see the collection rather differently, and what most strikes me is the small corner devoted to the paraphernalia of magic. The talismans and what have you in the section are obviously explicitly for magical use. But the collection (intentionally or not) gives the impression that the use of magic has ceased in the modern era. As a modern magician what also struck me about the rest of the collection was that virtually everything could be used for magic at a push - masks and various items of clothing, for example. As I say this means a marked change in my own mindset since I first visited the museum as a student.
The other thing which strikes me is the fact that much of the collection is either of offensive or defensive use, indicating that these are the true motivations of so much human behaviour.
The item which most struck me was a monkey's skull used by headhunters' children in Borneo as a play way of preparing for real head hunting in later life. I want one!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Anecdote from Patricia Crowther about Alex Sanders and Aleister Crowley

"That I disliked Alex Sanders from the start will not come as a shock to anyone associated with witchcraft. He came to our home on only three occasions, and at no time did he set foot in my temple.
[...]
'On his second visit (in the morning of 18 June 1962), he wanted to try the planchette. We obliged, and a spirit calling himself Aleister Crowley came through (we often had messages from Crowley). This time, all he could manage to say was 'Chuck the bugger out!' Sanders enquired, 'What did he say?', and I contrived to camouflage the awkward moment, by replying, 'I think he said," It's a lovely day out".'
Patricia Crowther: High Priestess. Phoenix Publishing, Blane (Washington), 1998, pp. 64 -5.

It is the bit about often getting Uncle Al which makes this perfect.
I'm going on a field trip this week: I'm going to do the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford. Now you may say it bears a passing resemblance to my living room but there are people whose collections of weird shit rival even mine!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Witch's Hymn Book: Algernon Wants You to Say OK

This is a song I have just rediscovered through watching Tiswas on youtube, and it's definitely fit for the witch's hymn book.
It's also by way of a happy birthday to Inexplicable Device but don't remind him of his birthday because it's only people of Our Age who remember Tiswas the first time round!