Friday, April 6, 2012

Church Break-Ins Blamed on Witchcraft

According to Dominic Walker, the Anglican Bishop of Monmouth, witchcraft is to blame for a series of recent break-ins at churches and cemeteries in Wales. Personally I'm a little unclear on why pagan or Wiccan witches would want to break into a church to cast spells, though it is true that most of the old grimoires pretty much assume the operator is Christian and in some cases even expect them to be a member of the priesthood. I could see where working in a church could augment that sort of spellcasting.

The bishop claimed pagans hoping to use occult powers “for good, for healing and for love” had led the wicca revival. But he also said that as a direct result of this increased interest in wicca, more people had begun practising the “black arts”.

“White magicians would say they’re an ancient religion which give equality to men and women ... but also occult powers can be used for evil so the other side of it is that there are more involved in the black magic,” he said. “They hex, curse people [and] they try to use their powers for their own personal gain.”

I will say here that it's nice to see a member of the Christian clergy acknowledge the possibility that occultism could be used toward positive ends. Of course, the idea that there are "white" and "black" magicians is about as silly as claiming there are "white" and "black" scientists and is thus more a fantasy novel trope than anything real. However, seeing as a lot of Christians who talk about magick seem to believe that only the "black" variety really exists it's nonetheless a step forward.

Both types of followers will typically carry out candlelit ceremonies and perform spells found on the internet or in occult text books. And although they do not happen on a daily basis, the increase in rituals is a cause for concern according to the bishop.

“Churches get disturbed and you can see someone’s carried out a ritual in a graveyard,” he said. “They’ll have drawn pentagrams and they will have performed rituals summoning up spirits.

Bishop Walker is in fact no stranger to magick himself. I'm sure he doesn't see it that way, but Walker is one of the Anglican Church's leading exorcists and as I've noted before the Rite of Exorcism is essentially a Christian magical ritual that is similar in a number of ways to the practices of grimoire magicians. While it's used to cast out hostile spirits rather than conjure them up, the technology is still basically the same - invoking the power of the divine and then from that perspective commanding the spirit.

Given Walker's statements on how magick can be used for good or evil purposes, I would also be interested in hearing his thoughts on imprecatory prayer. It seems to me that praying for someone to die is no more or less evil than summoning a spirit to kill them, and there are some Christian denominations for whom the former is apparently not a problem. To my knowledge the Anglican Church is not one of those denominations, so I would expect him to denounce such an application of prayer just as he would a spell - since really, they're pretty much the same thing.

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