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Occupy Magick

Yesterday, Jim wrote about his discovery of the new protest social media experiment, Occupii. We’ve since created an Irregular Times account on Occupii.

Looking around on Occupii, I’m finding a huge amount of useful information about protest efforts and organizations. Among those is the Magicians Alliance, a group of Occupy movement supporters seeking to discuss “esoteric/occult” ways to support the Occupy movement.

magicians for the 99 percent

I’m no Wiccan. I don’t believe in Magick, and I’m skeptical of religious methods of activism. I think that when people hold prayer vigils to try to confront injustice, for instance, the approach is worse than ineffective, because the prayer doesn’t change reality and because the prayer meetings take activists off the street, where they might be engaged in more practical efforts.

That said, I understand the need of many activists to be motivated by symbolic systems of meaning. So, if practitioners of Magick, or of any other religious path, want to get together to have rituals or talk about how their beliefs inform their activism, that’s okay with me, just so long as these religious groups don’t try to push their beliefs and rituals on other activists, and as long as the rituals and talk aren’t all that takes place.

I still was somewhat disturbed by one element of the Magicians Alliance on Occupii. The moderator warned members that “RIGHT paths and CENTER paths are welcome, LEFT paths will be asked to use a different website – and banned should they refuse to take their craft elsewhere.”

What was this? Although it has a minority of libertarian participants, I look upon the Occupy protests as a primarily leftist movement. So, was the Magicians Alliance attempting some sort of right wing spellbinding coup within the Occupy movement? Are Wiccans and their ilk anti-liberal? Why couldn’t a left path participate?

I found it difficult to believe that any group within the Occupy movement would exclude a liberal perspective, so I did a bit of additional research. What I discovered is that, in fact, within the arena of Magick, the terms Left and Right have quite different meanings than they do within the political realm.

For practitioners of Magick, the Right Hand path is understood to represent morally-focused approaches, whereas the Left Hand path is amoral, and aims to transcend ethical boundaries. Some Magickal folk interpret this division as one of good versus evil, or light versus dark, or higher versus lower. Others, however, merely regard the distinction as one of philosophical outlook, and say that the rejection of the Left Hand path is merely a residual influence of Christian ideology.

Looking at this context, it seems that the moderator of the Magicians Alliance on Occupii is among those practitioners who hold to the model of moral dualism. The rejection of the Left is not a refusal to admit liberals, but an admonition for those who intend to apply the esoteric arts for the benefit of the Occupy movement to do so with an ethical framework in place.

4 comments to Occupy Magick

  • Oh dear god, who told the Wiccans about Occupy…

    • The_L

      We’ve been involved in it from the beginning. You probably didn’t notice because when we’re not spell-casting or going to Pagan gatherings (where the dress code ranges from “hippie” to “steampunk” to “Ren Faire” to “naked”), we tend to look, act, and work like everybody else. :P Yes, we have our flakes, but so does every religion, and I’d thank you not to judge us by the standards of “fluffy bunnies.”

      The deliberate exclusion of the LHP seems a bit extreme, though. They are also the 99%.

    • I agree with The_L. “The Wiccans” haven’t just been told about the Occupy movement; they’ve been in on it from the ground up. When I was down in DC for the early occupation days there, Dupont Circle had an active Wiccan affinity group engaged in service for the broader group.

  • Stephen Kent Gray

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-hand_path_and_right-hand_path

    This is the Wikipedia article clarifying the topic.

    RHP:
    * They adhere to social conventions and avoid taboos.
    * They divide the concepts of mind, body and spirit into three separate, albeit interrelated entities.
    * They adhere to a specific moral code and a belief in some form of judgement, such as karma or the Threefold Law.

    While RHP doesn’t necessarily require one to be a conservative, it does have a tendency to lean toward social conservatism.

    Theosophy and its various spinoffs (Anthroposophy, Archeosophy, etc.)
    Neopaganism
    Voudou
    Thelema
    Judaism
    Christianity
    Islam
    Bayaniism
    Baha’i Faith
    Confucianism
    Taoism
    Shinto and various Shinshukyo
    Cheondogyo
    Cao Dai
    Hinduism
    Buddhism
    Jainism
    Sikhism
    New Age

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