With the Solstice holidays coming up and many of us preparing to participate in family gatherings that we might be uncomfortable with because of personal beliefs at odds with those held by other family members, this post from Jason Miller’s Strategic Sorcery blog on ways to address them might be useful:
Dear Friend/Family member who doesn’t believe in Magic….
I get it, I do. Why should you believe in something that hasn’t been proven to you? Frankly if my experience of the world didn’t more or less force me to believe in magic, I probably wouldn’t either. So as we gather together, please know, that I don’t need you to believe or participate in what I do. I do need you to respect it though.
Now, here is where maybe we disagree because you think magic is such an out there wacko thing that is basically the same as believing that the earth is flat, that Queen Elizabeth is a secret lizard person, or in Qanon. I think those things are wacky too, and honestly, I find it hard to even agree to disagree with those people just as much as you do. Magic and Witchcraft isn’t like that though.
Right now, I will bet there are dozens of people in your life that practice things you may not believe in. Dare I suggest this may be the case with most people in your life. I am sure you would never disrespect someone who was Catholic, or Hindu, or Sikh, would you? Yet they believe things that you don’t. Magic and Witchcraft are not new age either. History is filled with thinkers, even scientists, who held occult practices. So all I ask for is the respect that you already offer to so many people in your life.
Now, I know what you might be thinking. There is a big difference between spiritual beliefs and thinking that you have magical powers, right? Well, yes and no. Many practices connected with established religions are in fact magic. If you go to the local Catholic Gift shop there is a good chance you will find a “St Joseph: Sell My House” kit. If you go to the local Tibetan Dharma Center, they have mantras for everything from gaining wealth to enchanting minds. They don’t necessarily label these practices as “magic”, but they are. I am sure you know plenty of people who do yoga or acupuncture, all of which have aspects that deal with “energies” that science cannot detect.
So lets make a deal: I am not gonna hide who I am, but I’m also not gonna blather about Magic and Witchcraft every chance I get, and you in turn are going to offer me the same respect that you already offer to most people in your life. If I start offering you astrological predictions in the middle of our talking about sports or politics, then by all means launch your best debunking arguments at me. If not though, then lets enjoy each others conversation about anything else, be it the pandemic or how dry Aunt Margaret’s roast is. It’s true, I am a Witch/Magician/Sorcerer, but I am more than that as well. I am your friend or family member.
Your Occultist/Witch/Magical Friend or Family Member
Note to my magical and witchy friends: This approach only works if you can in fact exist in polite company without talking about magic and witchcraft to people who don’t believe or aren’t interested in it. This shouldn’t mean banal conversations. If you can’t hold an interesting and deep conversation about the commonalities of life, maybe you are the one that is causing the problem 🙂
Obviously this also only works if your family are not religious zealots that think you are doing something evil. If your whole family is, then you are probably either avoiding them completely, keeping your head down, or have been uninvited. This sucks, and my heart goes out to you. I am lucky that I never had to suffer through this, but many people do. It’s painful not to be able to be who you really are to the people that are supposed to love you best.
If however you have just one family member (and probably their spouse and kids) who fits this description, I always rely on something like this:
Dear Religious Friend/Family who believes in Witchcraft and Magic and thinks its evil,
Let’s be frank, the situation is not as easy as it is with our friends and family who simply have different beliefs. Your beliefs insist that my beliefs are evil. Ask yourself though, how many other people do you interact with regularly that do things you might consider evil or sinful? Oodles, I imagine. One thing we can possibly agree on is that from a biblical perspective, none of us live without sin. Yet you still manage to function at work and other social gatherings and not harass them. Perhaps its because those people are merely acquaintances and not friends or family. Can you manage that with me? I am ok with you thinking of me more as an acquaintance than as family, if that will allow us to exist in the same room.
You know that I think your beliefs are pretty heinous too right? Literally causing death and harm all over the globe. Yet, here I am muching my chips and dip, minding my own business. Leave me to it, and I will leave you to whatever it is you do.
Now, I know that your beliefs demand that you spread the word and be a warrior for Christ or whatever. I am going to assume your motivations are good, and honestly, from that perspective I am touched by your concern. I gladly accept your prayers on my behalf. I will do the same for you, putting in a good word with the Dark Lord….. just kidding… or am I?
Seriously though, I am not gonna take a holiday gathering as an opportunity to try and deprogram you from your cult, so please just do the same. Lets be like those soldiers on Christmas Eve 1914, they too it upon themselves to decide that despite what their superiors wanted, they would stop firing at each other, and sing carols instead. Some even met peacefully on the battlefield, traded supplies, and cared for the wounded. Surely, even if we can’t manage good will towards each other, we can at least have a silent night.
Your Blasphemously Fabulous family member or friend.
Note to my magical and witchy friends: This approach only works if you can in fact exist in polite company without attacking your religious friends and relatives. While pagans and occultists may not proselytize to try to convince other’s that their beliefs are correct, I have seen a lot of you go on the offensive the moment you hear someone is a Christian (but almost never any other religion). Not only is it maybe not the time and place to start throwing around how “Christmas is really Pagan” or “Most Scholars think Jesus never existed“, or “Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th! Did you know that?! Did you?!!” , but very often you are really bad at it. The facts are Christmas isn’t pagan, most scholars do in fact think Jesus was a historical person, and most Christians are well aware that December 25 was not the actual date Christ was born on. Take a queue from Dar Williams, who had a good approach to this whole fiasco.
Anyway, I offer these thoughts in the form of open letters for anyone that may need them. Happy Holidays.