Witchcraft, Pagan Horizontal Hostility, the Holocene Extinction, and the Wings of the Storm

The Wild Hunt recently posted about a lecture that Peter Grey, of Scarlet Imprint Press, gave from his book Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Mr. Grey uses some Biblical/Christian language (e.g., Babylon, apocalypse, Satan, The Whore) that I wouldn’t use, although I understand his reason for using it, and the curtain behind him is close decorative kin to the wallpaper that led Oscar Wilde to say, as his final words, “One of us has to go,” but his messages are, IMHO, spot on. The whole thing is worth a listen.

In particular, I think Mr. Grey has important things to say to the Pagans who are enjoying their attempts to fracture Paganism and to those of us who believe that Paganism has an important role to play in the politics of the Holocene Extinction.

We have the power to destroy the world and we are doing so. Witchcraft must respond, as it always has, to the events which unfold around it with the gifts we have been given and those which we have won the heath.

. . .

Yet now we see something interesting occurring: the manufacturing of a schism between a supposed traditional Craft and initiated Wicca. This is an attempt to separate the inseparable and to rewrite a history of shared protagonists. . . . We have an island of wildly diverse practices that we cannot simply neatly embroider into one overarching, gypsy myth. . . . But to define oneself in opposition to your closest allies in a battle for authenticity seems fatally flawed, especially when much of our shared history is chronicled by our enemies and further spans the shifting landscapes of literature, poetry, vision, and dream.

Furthermore, how exactly is a Cain/Lilith myth any more different or valid than a Diana/Lucifer myth? Who exactly enforces that Wiccans do no operative magic or ensures that traditional crafters have no religion and no mythic underpinnings? In fact what we see now is a supposedly traditional craft enthusiastically fashioning the kind of ritual Witchcraft that [for which] they decried the Gardnerians. A curious fix.

The reason is that both these seemingly competing streams of Witchcraft are part of a divided whole, which is not simply true of Witchcraft, but of our entire culture, which is in a schism and a denial of the complete Goddess, whom we know as “Babylon.”

This horizontal hostility between people who should share the same interests is exactly the tactic employed by COINTELPRO. It splinters; it dissipates; it prevents us engaging or recognizing the real enemy. There are more pressing issues than whether we work naked or whether we work robed. Enough. I say, “My enemy’s enemy is my friend When I say “Apocalyptic Witchcraft” I mean the destruction of the false divisions between Witchcrafts and between people.

I would argue that Gerald Gardener’s Witchcraft was not ultimately about the form, but was about the force. A culture was crawling out of the bombed cellars of London into a new world of pill and possibility. The Witchcraft of Jack Parsons was not about form. It was about the force of the bohemian sexual revolution and the newly found entheogenic drugs. Traditional Witchcraft is not about form. It’s about the loss of folklore, the loss of rural life, and, crucially, the loss of meaning in an increasingly urban and postmodern world. Apocalyptic Witchcraft is about [living in] a world at war with the last remnants of wild nature, the last remnants of humanity.

So today, I’m concentrating on conjuring that force, rather than entering into the trap of circumscribing it. Those who have read the Red Goddess will know that I am adamantly opposed to the imposition of orthodoxy. So when I say “Apocalyptic Witchcraft” I am describing a set of ideas that can be embodied in any Witchcraft approach. We should celebrate every form of emergent heresy. Our emails are, after all read by the same intelligence agencies. Our ritual sites are photographed by same military satellites. Our wells are poisoned by the same fertilizers, fracking, and pharmaceuticals.

We must never forget our enemy. . . . Without understanding the enemy or the shape of the battlefield, there is no answer that can be given [to the question of why “the enemy” became the figure of the Witch and why the Sabbat attained such prominence].

What is clear is that the creation of a purely malefic figure of the Witch, was an attack on women, though men, too, were burned. Women were attacked [as Witches] in this way for a reason: in order for the state to enclose the common land. Woman was attacked to remove her control of her womb. Woman was attacked to divide the sexes and to rend the social fabric. Woman was attacked to destroy all sense of the sacred in nature. We do not need to follow Marx; we simply need to follow the money. This process of demonization and destruction of the commons has continued because the enemy has inexhaustible greed and diminishing returns. It is not simply the commons, now, that are enclosed, but everything is being sold into the hands of the few. This inexorably means war and the war is upon us.

The Sabbat arose in such a landscape as a conspiracy to destroy the rotten edifice of church and state. It meet on the heath to avoid the gaze of authority, guised in anonymity, and foreboden. This revolutionized the nature of Witchcraft, regardless of the pre-existence of the Sabbat form. . . . We see these same attacks on freedom of assembly in the destruction of the free festivals, rave culture, the Occupy Movement. These [attacks] have been met by the masked and anonymous Anonymous, the faceless, blackbloc anarchists, the radical direct actions of the E.L.F. These are expressions of direct, popular Witchcraft and have been persecuted by the same inquisition that once came for us. Please note, I don’t say that any of these groups are examples of operative Witchcraft. I say that we, the people who are the Witchcraft, have a sacred duty to join this war. We need to celebrate the great Sabbats again and infuse them with our Witchblood, with our cunning.

So here’s my prophecy: Witchcraft is going to get both aroused and angrier. Nature will rise. We’re not only coming for your children. We are your children and all those who are about to inherit the ruins of the Earth. Welcome to the apocalypse. This is the year that we finally realize that the climate is broken. And it’s all blood and roses from here on in. As Witches, we should prepare to fly on the wings of the storm.

5 responses to “Witchcraft, Pagan Horizontal Hostility, the Holocene Extinction, and the Wings of the Storm

  1. Thanks for this post. You did an excellent job of distilling the most important parts of what Grey is saying (and, to be honest, I really think he needs a good editor!)

  2. syrbal-labrys

    Damn near everyone could use a good editor….they seem to be an endangered species. If only witches realize the climate is broken? There aren’t enough of us…

  3. I have missed this in my recent shenanigans. Yes, he is spot on–and I look forward to hearing the war of words that accompanies this posting at WH. There are enough of us–but too many are too timid, too untrained and too unfocused. And some of them are too arrogant to admit they have no notion of how to gather or use any sort of real power–whether temporal or spiritual.

  4. Alice Mae Lewis

    There are enough of us. Focus on healing Mother Earth and everything that is a part of Her. Know in your heart of heart that each of us CAN and DOES make that difference. BELIEVE… then roll up your sleeves and get to work. Miracles will happen.

  5. Peter Grey is a modern prophet and many of the Seers I know have all been confirming these visions of blood and fire in Pagandom. I think the spritiual apathy of the world is making most go to extremes, from one end being in total agreement with the herds and the other of religious zealots (from all religions) opinionating until blue in the face. We are missing spirit.

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