“Witchcraft is Witchcraft, not witch dogma. It is a science, the oldest form of science. And it is time for us to go back and treat it that way. … We should get together to discuss what we have learned, about each other, about medicine, about whatever it is we’re interested in. We should pool that knowledge together and keep it.”–Victor Anderson
A value that I hold dear in any branch of learned inquiry–and why should Witchcraft not be such a branch, particularly if Victor Anderson was correct in describing the Craft as “the oldest form of science”–is the civilized art of polite disagreement. (I said yesterday to a friend that I thought of it as “the gentlemanly art of disagreement,” but of course, we have moved far beyond the “gentlemanly art” of anything in these enlightened times.) Apparently on “the Interwebs,” disagreement all too often degenerates into a melodramatic species of epic betrayal. For myself, I have never needed the agreement of others to make me feel that my own thoughts are worth thinking. I appreciate being challenged; thinking things through and talking them out often brings greater clarity. Sometimes, when the earth moves and the sky thunders, I have even been known to change my mind. (It’s too bad that written expression so often fails to convey a playful tone of voice.) My knowledge of anything and everything is something I have come to regard as a perpetual “work in progress.” It is through conversation with learned friends and colleagues that I actually learn.
Desire to avoid making mistakes is absolutely fatal to all education. If you want to be perfect from the outset, not only will you never improve, you will never actually do anything. What I know in the Craft, I have learned through doing. And believe me, I have made plenty of mistakes in the realm of ritual Magick.
When it comes to online debate, particularly in such areas as theology, I have a different concern, and that is that an attempt to sharpen blurred contours or spell out what was never meant to be written down can just lead to unpleasant rhetorical snarls. My late Teacher Gabriel Carrillo was fond of quoting the inspired classicist Jane Harrison in underlining the philosophical difference between a secret, which should not be told, and a Mystery–which cannot be told: only experienced.
When it comes to the Gods, Their Nature, and Their Realms, I often think of these lines by another Californian mystic, visionary, and poet, Clark Ashton Smith:
We have seen fair colors
That dwell not in the light
Intenser gold and iris
Occult and recondite:
We have seen the black suns
Pouring forth the night.