Starting this coming Saturday, I’m going to put up a series of Resistance meditations that will be loosely modeled on Dion Fortune’s World War II letters, as published in The Magical Battle for Britain. In the Introduction to those letters, Gareth Knight explains what Fortune did:
In the crisis of confrontation with the evils of Hitler’s Germany, when England stood for a time alone against the Axis powers, [Fortune and her working group] helped to maintain the strength and resilience of the group mind of the nation by the evocation of relevant symbolism.
I think we can do the same.
There’s been some good discussion in the comments to the post in which I announced this work. Some of the concern centers on the possibility that not all who participate will be experienced occultists. In some ways, that concern has been expressed for decades within Paganism, ever since someone published the first Book of Shadows on an ancient ListServ. But Dion Fortune also confronted this concern when she initiated her work to protect Great Britain from the Nazis. And she erred on the side of bringing even brand new workers into the fold. As Gareth Knight explains in his Introduction to Fortune’s letter:
For the first time the Fraternity’s doors were opened to anyone who wanted to join in and learn the previously secret methods of esoteric mind-working.
He goes on to note that Fortune’s letters:
are virtually the casebook of a working occultist at a time of national and indeed world crisis, when the barriers of confidentiality were down in the urgency of the hour. . . . Those were heady and unusual times. Exceptional circumstances calling for exceptional remedies. “Those who were with us in those days,” [Fortune] recalls, “will remember how we opened our doors and welcomed all who would sit in meditation with us and taught them the esoteric methods of mind-working that had never been revealed outside the Veil of the Mysteries, and that this work was done with a view to bringing into manifestation those very ideas that we are now manifesting. “
Indeed, Knight refers to Fortune’s letters as an example of how an early Western Revival Occultist (my characterization, not Knight’s):
when confronted with abnormal circumstances, coped with running an extended and informally structured meditation group capable of becoming a formidable force in the group soul of the nation.
It is true that, once Fortune’s work began to achieve results, and as more and more people joined in the work, she did begin to circumscribe the group. Knight recounts how Fortune found that:
Outsiders who came in at the beginning grew with the work, but once the work had developed in the way it did, it was no longer possible to take in outsiders.” . . . The weekly open meditation work was eventually discontinued, not because it was unsatisfactory, but because it had developed to such an extent that it had become unwieldy. Not only had the number of participating increased beyond all expectation, but the work had developed a degree of power that made it no longer possible to maintain an open door.
Guided by Ms. Fortune, I am willing to open this work up to anyone who wants to participate. If I begin to sense that the group should close, I’ll figure out a way to do that.
A second concern voiced in comments to my introductory post was that Resistance work can have “blow back,” aka unanticipated consequences. And, yes, that’s true. It’s true of all kinds of Resistance work, including both the magical and the “mundane.” I wear a safety pin on my coat into work every morning. A few important people at my firm supported Trump and they’ve given me the evil eye when we go up in the elevator together. Who knows what that could mean for my career down the line? I’m still going to wear my safety pin. Your boss or a prospective client can see a picture of you at the Woman’s March. Your rich uncle can write you out of his will when he finds out that you showed up at a Congressional Town Hall and demanded funding for Planned Parenthood. Your car can get keyed for your “And yet, she persisted,” bumper sticker. And, as we move farther into fascism, things can get worse. Your phone and social media can get searched at the border. The IRS can target you for donations to “suspect” causes. Fascists can blow up your synagogue, temple, community meeting, coven. Resistance workers can get rounded up, sent off to camps . . . it can get a lot worse if past is prologue.
Beyond that, I will freely admit that my own lived experience tells me that Trump has some at least moderately-powerful occultists working for him and he certainly, as Mrs. Whatsit noted, has “prayer warriors” who support him. (I go past the White House several times a week and, each time, I send energy for positive work towards it and, each time since January 20th, when I have done so, I have felt an immediate physical attack, manifesting in dizziness, blurred vision, fear. (This never happened under either W or Obama.) And I will continue to do my spell work every time that I go past the White House. But I would be a fool not to understand what is happening.) Doing Resistance Work on the astral plane is no more free from risk than is doing Resistance Work on the street where you live.
If you do not feel called to this work or if you are not in a position to accept the possible consequences then, by all means, and I mean this most sincerely, YOU SHOULD NOT DO THIS WORK. You can do other Resistance work. You can call your Senators on a regular basis. You can register people to vote. You can bake muffins or offer child care for campaign workers. You can plant herbal birth control. You can strengthen your own roots between your physical body and the place where you live. You can go out of your way to smile at and to speak to your neighbors. You can be kind to everyone you meet. You can plant trees.
To paraphrase Rumi, there are hundreds of ways to work for the Resistance.
Like many modern Pagans, I don’t believe in a mechanical “Rule of Three.” What I believe is that you cannot shit where you eat. And I understand that I eat everywhere, that there is no “downstream.” So I believe that I must be prepared to accept that I cannot both change the system and exit the system in zero time. I also do not believe that the universe is stupid. And I do not believe that the universe punishes those who try to do clean up, provide protection, save children, and animals, and trees. Yes, weeding the garden leaves my fingernails dirty. Sure, tending the sick can give me a fever. OK, punching Nazis leaves my knuckles sore and raw and my right arm in pain. True, no one can drink melange without, some days, also drinking bitter spice. But I do not believe that doing magical work to protect democracy will result in a three-fold wind against self-governance in your own life. But that’s just me. If your understanding of the three-fold law differs, then you should maybe do different work.
All of that said, if you’re still interested in doing this work, welcome. Spend some time this week strengthening the wards on your home or wherever you’ll do the work. Get some deep, delicious sleep. Go outside a few times. Stretch. Drink some strong tea. Eat what a priest or a priestess would eat. Listen to music you love. Put your fingers deep into some dirt. Look at some art. Make love.
We can do this.
Picture found here.