by Kurt Hunter
The world is a scary place, as they say. It seems as though we’re inundated with images nowadays of mass violence on a scale that’s truly horrific. Sometimes we’re led to believe that these kinds of acts are unique to our time, but historically, that’s simply not true. Man has been committing atrocities against man for thousands of years. What is true is that, more than any other point in history, we have almost instant 24/7 access to the most terrible crimes that are witnessed in societies where there is largely unrestricted media coverage. When mass shootings, bombings or other acts of terrorism strike, there’s a part of us that really wants to be furious that such things happen. So we saddle up our broomstick and prepare to become the really scary Witch that we know we can be!
I also don’t necessarily buy into the logic that, because bad things happen for a reason, we shouldn’t get involved. I agree that things do happen in accord with a larger plan or purpose, but what if that purpose is to help get us off our collective asses to do something about them? I think second-guessing higher guidance is largely an exercise in futility. It has a different perspective (and priorities) from the strictly human world condition. We, plodding mostly clueless humans that we are, have to actually live in the world and learn to survive here. If, for some reason, my taking any kind of magickal or spiritually significant action is going to upend the cosmic apple cart (unlikely), I expect I’ll be informed before the fact.
So at times like this, when we’re feeling angry and violated, what many Witches want to do, understandably, is invoke the Wild Hunt (or some derivative spiritual entity or force) and say unto Them, “Get it done. I’ve had enough of this.” Certainly being mad enough curdle milk with a glance — the “Evil Eye” of the Witches — was as much about retribution as anything. It is part of our collective consciousness. We’re taught not to simply pray or hope for change, but to sometimes grab change and make it fall into line. It’s hard watching a horrible thing and forcing ourselves to sit on our hands. Even sending “healing” or “white light” to the situation can leave us frustrated because what we really want to do is stick someone’s head on a pike. Believe me, I get it.
However, it’s also true that acting immediately on a fiery first impulse may not be the best solution to the problem. I’m not suggesting we should “calm down” because being angry at such a societal violation is wrong. Anger is an appropriate response. But there needs to be a way to separate our own needs (retribution) from a greater need, which is service to our community. Some Witches have trained themselves to respond in a way that remains focused on the victims and the healing for everyone that needs to be done. One can certainly alleviate a degree of helplessness by aiding those in need. We know this as a culture. It’s why charitable contributions of all kinds tend to skyrocket — even things victims don’t need, like teddy bears — because we need to feel as if we’re doing something. The sense of impotence begs to be diffused. But we’re Witches, trained to look at the world as one big web of energies and events. And we know that magick, properly applied, can have an impact on that web.
But being effective is also about being smart. For example, after the Boston Marathon bombing, there was a “Wild Hunt” of sorts going on. An investigation began to scour the planet looking for any sign of the perpetrators. I suggested to some friends and colleagues that we all use that, but instead of directing our intentions to punish the perpetrators, we should aid those already involved in the search. While some would say it’s best to wait until one can do magick from a space of peace and calm, I personally believe that properly channeled anger is occasionally an appropriate fuel and motivator.
There is a difference between justice and retribution. By remaining focused on helping the hunters be successful, you lean towards the latter and lesson the impact of any collateral damage. So the next time some person or group kills and maims dozens of innocent people to make a statement (and sadly, it’s a matter of when, not if, that happens again) you might try to focus your intention to help those already working to bring the perpetrators to both justice and Justice.
Kurt Hunter is Georgian elder and NROOGD red cord who has been working in the Craft for over 25 years. He is High Priest of ElvenOak Coven in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is currently a student in the ministerial seminary of the Temple of Witchcraft. Kurt works as a professional counselor and clinical supervisor and enjoys stone collecting, gardening, photography and gaming. He lives in Portland, OR and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org