Friday, June 7, 2019

Sorry, I Don't Date Reincarnated Evil Witches

I've been a little behind on the weird news lately, but this last week Slate's "Dear Prudence" column included a doozy of a letter that is apparently for real. There was some discussion in the comments over whether or not it was fake, but as a member of the Twin Cities occult community I can vouch that there are plenty of deluded people out there like the boyfriend in question. Check it out:

My boyfriend, “Peter,” wants to break up with me. Obviously that’s his right, I know that, but it feels like I’m actually being irresponsible by just leaving. Peter has always had an interest in the paranormal and things like that. So do I, although I prefer M.R. James to actual, real-life creepy places. Over the past six months, however, Peter has moved further left of the socially accepted idea of normal. He’s become convinced that I’m the reincarnation of an evil witch. And sure, maybe he just thinks I’m an evil witch and wants an excuse to dump me. I’d actually be relieved if that were true, to be honest. Peter really seems to believe that I’m an evil soul, though, and is quite sad over this.

I just don’t know how to navigate this breakup ethically and respectfully. He’s not violent or a risk to himself, and there are plenty of worse conspiracy theories out there. On the other hand, he also wants to end a three-year relationship because he’s realized he’s dating an evil spirit. That doesn’t seem like the decision of a healthy psyche, and this has all just happened in a relatively short space of time. He doesn’t talk to his family—he’s always said they were weirdly religious, which seems relevant now—and he’s distanced himself from his old friends so he could find ones with the same interests. Right now it feels like I’m the only person in his life with a healthy dose of skepticism, and that it would be irresponsible to just … leave for saner pastures.

In response, Daniel Ortberg gave the fairly conventional advice that the boyfriend is delusional, and the letter writer should accept that the relationship is over and make sure that they are safe in case he becomes violent. Which is all fine and good, and similar to the advice I would give. He doesn't sound like a magical or mystical practitioner, so there's no way he could know this. Identifying your own past lives is hard enough, let alone identifying somebody else's. So he's clearly delusional and not party to some sort of spiritual insight, and the whole situation is probably not fixable without serious mental health treatment.

As a real-life wizard, though, I would also ask another question - what's wrong with being a reincarnated evil witch? The Buddhists say that every sentient being has been our mother because the idea is that the cycle of reincarnation is near-infinite. But the implication of that is that all sentient beings have also been evil witches, no matter how you define evil. And evil, in and of itself, is a slippery concept. Many Christians believe all witches are evil, along with all other magical practitioners like me - just because the practice of magick is in and of itself considered evil, regardless of a spell's intent. That's short-sighted and ridiculous.

Maybe the letter writer should just fine a nice wizard to date. You know, somebody who would say "Hey, you were an evil witch in a past life. That's awesome! Want to learn some magick?" That sounds like a whole lot more fun all around.

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