I thought to share with the readers a letter that I wrote to a sister on the topic of witchcraft. I think that the problem is inadequate definitions , based upon artificial boundaries set up to provide a sense of correctness, which engender confusion and which are outgrown if people are properly educated.
Fear, indeed, is nothing other than the abandonment of the supports offered by reason; the less you rely within yourself on these, the more alarming it is not to know the cause of your suffering. - Wisdom of Solomon 17:11-12 Jerusalem Bible
This is a really late response to your discussion last February on Wicca. I read from you a very good apologia (or, defense, as it were) for Wicca, and a discussion of what in reality that a poisoner or "witch" was. You pointed out that there was no definition of poisoner in the Bible, and so I began thinking about that. I intuited out something, and I want to see what you think.
This is what I came up with. First, I need to state that this analysis comes from the hypothesis that the means by which we (especially christians) have come to interpret the Bible is largely derived from interpretations of scripture that sought to validate the "divine right" of the church in the middle ages. This was necessary in order to justify the position of authority (through the spiritual lineage of Peter) of the church and thereby solidify its right to continue to balance the power of the European aristocracy. The authority of the aristocracy also derived its power by "divine right" of the physical blood lineage of Christ, but the true source of this divine right was swept under the table by both factions. Christ's message demanded absolute love and absolute trust in the nature of universal law over the right to life (which he exemplified, and which he outlined in Matthew 4-6). But this was not the focal point of Christianity according to the Church. The authority of the Christ was said to be his divinity, which for some reason was authenticated by his celibacy. Both his words and his blood were diluted by superstition so that they could be used to control folks instead of to set them free.
The battle was between the church and the state was for the absolute control of the minds of the people, to harness them as various grades (or classes) of slaves and workhorses. Each faction, church and state, was a bureaucracy with its own agenda and its own mouths to feed, and each was held in place by the other. Both were jeopardized by anyone or any group which could see through this chess game. This is the message behind the story of "The Emperor's New Clothes".
So there may possibly be a more rational means by which to interpret the Bible. If we look at the Bible as a series of case histories that catalog the evolution of the consciousness of universal law in the mind of man, we may see what is being discussed in another light entirely. As an experiment using this method, then, let's look at two people in the Bible who were called wizards: Balaam (in the book of Numbers, the 22nd chapter) and Daniel (the whole book of Daniel).
First Balaam. The story goes that the king of Moab asked Balaam to curse Israel. He said to him, "The man you bless is blessed, and the man you curse is cursed." The Bible is interesting in what it says next. It doesn't say that Balaam called upon false gods and had conversations with them. It says that he went to the Most High and asked him if he could do what the king of Moab had asked him to do. The Most High said, "You can't curse what I have blessed" Balaam reported this information to the king of Moab who thought he was just holding out for more money so he sweetened the pot. Balaam took this into consideration, and it is reported that he went back to ask the Most High to reconsider. The Most High finally said, "go ahead and do it, then, since you will, anyway." Balaam did what the Most High said in the end (or he would have threatened his own credibility), and blessed Israel. This played on the superstitions of the King of Moab and enabled Balaam to extort more money out of him than if he had just played along. He loudly (uncontrollably, he said) blessed Israel (for the record), but he also counseled the king of Moab on how to subvert Israel over time. Balaam , then, is portrayed as a master of the game of "Both ends against the middle."
So what is the point of this story? Let's look at another verse, one that you quoted: "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." This is a very important simile that defines the motives behind the sin that is called witchcraft. But what is it that rebellion refers to? Rebellion against what? Against some invisible, absolute owner and ruler of the universe? And, if so, by what authority does this ruler speak as the Most High God?
Let's just cut to the chase: if universal law is the absolute authority (because it alone is immutable), and if the Source of the knowledge and application of that law is the Most High God, then it is reasonable to claim that rebellion is dangerous and that those who poison others with rebellion against universal law are dangerous. If someone is directly in opposition to law and the order of the universe, it is somewhat like belonging to the flat earth society and sabotaging all research that might threaten its existence. To minds miseducated to the nature of law and its application, this manipulation is a dark, seductive poison.
The Bible seems to be describing a principle that poisons. If we look at the symptoms of this poison, then those who practice this dark art are now more easily recognizable to us, and we are able to agree to a common definition of a poisoner. It is this, in a nutshell: I will do anything for mammon (for privilege; that which entices and makes "lawlessness well-seeming" as the Quran says). I will sell my body, my children, my country, and my self-respect for mammon. I will seduce others to betray truth for mammon. I will confuse those who can be confused by pretending that I am doing good and right, knowing that I am perpetuating a ruse to gain privileges at the expense of others' needs. I will lend my strength to others who are foolish if they will approve of me and give me privileges. I choose to defend lies if they are more profitable than the truth.
The thought process behind the condemnation of death for the crime of poisoning is not to deny life to the souls who live in the doorways between the worlds. That is not what I read to be unlawful. Some people really do see what others don't see. They know the rhythms of the universe intimately -- they know that everything comes from somewhere and is going somewhere. This is not disrespected in the Bible, as is evidenced by Daniel.
Daniel was also a magician, according to the Bible and to the kings of Medea and Persia. However, he had a different guiding principle in force - he refused to do anything that would confuse those to whom he was responsible to tell the truth. He had been taken into captivity in Babylon from Israel, but chose to see his captivity, not as a curse, but rather as his mission. He was willing to die rather that to compromise his authority. He ate only vegetables because he refused to compromise his integrity. He was fed to the lions (and lived), set up by jealous peers (and vindicated), -- all because he knew what truth was and didn't count his life or his comfort more important than his mission.
So a poisoner and a prophet are the same person, one dedicated to their own pleasure and advantage and one committed to clarifying and reflecting with purity the resonances of the universe for the sake of the whole. That is the only difference that I can see. I ask that The Almighty show me if I am in error in this, and show me how to be more pure in my own work, because truthfully, I think that my own motives are somewhat mixed when I examine them. I can't say that I always put the highest truth above my preferences, and I think that I must honestly say that sometimes I use false logic (deceptive intelligence, or making lawlessness well-seeming) to justify what I want to do.
This violates the Wiccan Rede, no matter how I define it. Do as ye will and harm none is violated, because whenever I build privileges for myself into my worldview I lose the right to speak against privilege and I build in avenues for privilege to be used against me through my tangled thought patterns. Do as ye will is the whole of the law is violated because, though I do not will to be this mercurial based upon the principle of cause and effect, yet I fall into it through what seems to be expediency.
Since my version of the craft is a sort of psychological yoga, I see the spells I do as no more or less than a mental slight of hand, sort of giving myself permission to use my will to decide the course of the future. No different than prayer, no different than high magick, no different than meditation, no different than "eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog"; it is a technique, and nothing more, by which I manage to live in the doorway between the worlds, and it is the measuring stick that I use to define the degree to which I am achieving my purpose for existing.
I would be interested in your response to this. Please email me at:
and I will answer as best as I can.
Love in the service to the lady and her mate,