October 31st, 2004

I Stand Corrected

I dreamed that I'd sat an exam and the examiner was giving us our marks. He criticized my hand writing and explained that I was wrong to say "the politicians grew thin through conflict". What I should have said was "they reverted to their Victorian prototypes."

So there!

Halloween

When I was a practicing Wiccan I used to give interviews about Halloween.

I was a Wiccan spin doctor. I was smooth and middle-class. I would explain how Wicca was just a religion like any other- like Methodism for instance- And how Halloween was just a religious festival like Easter or Christmas.

But I wasn't merely bland. There were ideas to get across. About God being a Woman. About Sex being OK. About the importance of Ecology. My reassuring manner was the spoonful of sugar that helped the medecine go down.

I have my regrets. I was one of those who helped move Wicca into the mainstream; I drew its teeth, I made it respectable.

And now that it's just a fluffy New Age cult like all the others I no longer want to be part of it.

But this happens to all religious movements. The early Methodists were wild- eyed revivalists. They collapsed in fits, they foamed at the mouth. A generation passed and Methodism had become the religion of grocers- the very epitome of Victorian propriety and dullness

Wicca was a eruption of fin de siecle naughtiness in the dullest of British decades- the 1950s. Its founder, Gerald Gardner, was a gamey old chap with a taste for Swinburne, nudity, flagellation and girls on top. By a speedy and startling process of evolution this old man's wet dream developed into the spiritual arm of feminism. Which is where I hopped on board. Another decade and it had been overtaken by society. What had been shocking was now normative. Wicca had won all its battles. The Church of England acquired women priests, it was routine to refer to God as She, Green was good and sex was guiltless. TV shows like Buffy and Charmed gave us witches who were adorable icons of female empowerment.

Wicca was emptied out. Its power was expended. It had done its job.