Detail of “The Magic Circle” by John William Waterhouse.
A few weeks ago a trans man wrote to me because in an LGBTQ + group he joined, they began to try him crazy and insult him only for his transsexual status. The group in question was created to create community and support among the members of the collective but what community and what support can we expect from someone who discriminates against others because they are different? The answer is no so much. Just a few days ago, something similar happened in a witchcraft group where comments first came up against sexual and gender diversity and second against Wiccans, although fortunately the moderators and the administrator cut those comments down. Now, imagine that you are an LGBTQ + person and that you also belong to Wicca. How would you feel if they question and attack two parts of your identity as important as your sexual orientation or gender identity and your beliefs?
Find your community
The human being is a gregarious animal by nature, we need to belong to a group, even the most introverted and lonely need others to live happily, even if it is a small group of friends and family. When we are different from those around us we try to seek understanding and support in those who, in theory, are similar to us. Thanks to the Internet thousands of LGBTQ + people, pagans, witches and Wiccans have found communities with which to share part of who they are because they belong to one of those categories or to several of them at the same time.
The desire to be able to share, to find someone who looks like us, who understands us and who listens to us when others would only make weird faces or make unnecessary comments can make us enter a group and place our trust too quickly in them. And this may not be beneficial because a single common interest is not enough to form a community in which we feel safe, where we are not judged as elsewhere because the problems may come from those other interests that we do not share.
Why is it important that there is more than a common interest? Because when we talk about something as important as sexual orientation, gender identity or our beliefs we need a certain security. These are very important aspects that make up essential parts of who we are and therefore we need to protect them as much as possible. If we establish more than one link, more than one link is much more likely that others feel us similar to them and tend to protect us because they are reflected.
The environment is already going to be hostile to us, witches have always been liminal beings, outsiders of social conventions, and LGBTQ + people have been in a great majority of history, so look for a group in where you can feeling that belonging and ending up being attacked can be an even bigger problem. We expose a part of us and when we expose ourselves more danger we run out of getting hurt so it is important to know where we are and that if there are more ties between the people in the group there will be a greater awareness of community, of family, in which harming others is unacceptable.
Casting a social circle
If in order to contact the Divinity or to do magic we need to create a unique and different space from our daily reality, why don’t we do the same with other aspects that we cannot integrate into our lives in a complete way? And yes, I have said to integrate in a complete way because if you have to hide your sexual orientation, your gender identity or your beliefs in your work or when you talk with other people to avoid conflicts or uncomfortable situations they are still aspects that are not fully integrated. This does not mean that this evil, we cannot absolutely control our environment and the people who live in it, but we can talk about the fact that we set limits for our safety, for our comfort and our physical and mental health.
We draw the circle to capture and contain the energies that we raise in our rituals but also as a way to expel everything we do not want to interfere as strange spirits, residual energies or anything else that can cause us problems. With our social life, we must do the same although here the only difference is that some circles will be inside others or sometimes they will interconnect creating more complex limits but that in the long run, they are healthier for both us and others.
The curse of intolerance
Suppose we find a group in which we feel comfortable, we share several common interests and the people who are there seem unlikely to judge others within our circle. Suddenly someone makes an intolerant comment and that’s when the problems begin. Normally there are usually two reactions: that it is not too important and that the matter be dropped or that a discussion that shakes and affects the whole group begins; neither will have positive results for anyone.
The problem is that intolerant ideas are very contagious, we just have to see how hate speech has more and more power and prominence in politics at a global level. Intolerance is like gangrene, it infects a part of the body and if you don’t cut it, it will end up spreading killing the living being in which it lived. As with gangrene, the best thing we can do to end the intolerance is to cut it at the root, which sometimes means expelling a member from our circle or group.
It is important that before the slightest symptom of intolerance we have clear how to act and how to eradicate the issue: first remembering the limits for our group and if the situation is repeated again by cutting for the healthy. If we create or enter a group where we want a safe space to share something that we consider important and that in itself is vulnerable because it is attacked or belittled by the rest of our environment, we cannot allow the same patterns of those we want to repeat flee, even if they do not directly affect us.
The power of the athame
The athame, a ritual dagger that according to tradition is double-edged and with a black handle, it represents the air and the ability to draw limits (much as some writers or influential characters try to say that the athame represents the will and fire It is not a second wand.) With the athame we draw the circle, we cut a portion of reality to stop time, to contain energy and to make it a safe space for us and for our magic.
With social relations, we must do the same. It does not mean that we should take the athame high down the street because people are likely to be scared and the police may end up stopping us if we are flying a knife over our heads. The athame is a tool, an extension of our power and potential that helps us focus our energy to create borders and limits that are useful to us, to open doors and to cut ties, but the power is not in the athame, it is in our inside and we can invoke that power whenever we need it even if we don’t have the athame in our hand.
Here there is no question of will at stake, if not a mental issue since we must know and be very clear about what is good for us, for those who are like us and what we should not tolerate under any circumstances. That is the power of athame, it is the power of air as an element in witchcraft, knowledge, knowing when to discern, differentiate and draw limits.
Think that any group that is created with the intention of creating a place to share without fear and without prejudice has the same essence as drawing a magic circle. The phrase: “Happy we are, happy we separate and happy we will meet again” which is usually said at the end of a ritual should also be applied to our social relationships when we expose vulnerable parts of ourselves. This does not mean that we should always end relations when a problem or dispute arises, but if we must do so when intolerance, simple and full of hate, makes its appearance, then it is when we must draw new borders for our circle and expel everything that we fled from or what others fled that have reached our group.