Circles and Lines: Politics & Witchcraft

by bennybargas

Perseus and the Graiae by Edward Burne-Jones

“We don’t see color or sexuality in Circle.” “Well, we don’t see anything.”

There’s an axiom that says one shouldn’t talk politics or religion in polite company. The idea of course is that in order to maintain an air of civility and avoid any unpleasantries one mustn’t discuss these sometimes contentious topics in any situation other than the most familiar or one in which all parties are prepared to engage those topics.

Some have suggested that, at least with regard to politics, this social rule ought also be followed when in the company of other Witches. Supposedly the discussion of politics would spoil the sense of community, fellowship, love, and trust that would and must otherwise exist in order to commune with one another and the Gods. It is implied that the discussion of politics would create division, engender hurt feelings, and drive wedges between those who might otherwise be joined together as brothers and sisters.

But this is a lie.

A fantasy concocted by those who would ignore truth and choose to be blind to reality. While discussing politics may become unpleasant and the end result might be division, hurt feelings, and wedges driven, it is not in fact the discussion itself that has caused it to be so. Rather it is the revelations born from the discussion that create this result. And perhaps it is better so. After all, an individual’s politics reveals a lot about their character, their values, and their beliefs. Discussing one’s politics does not divide people, it only reveals their true selves. And it is important to know where others stand on the really important issues. It is perhaps even more important particularly in the case of other Witches for the sake of that requisite aforementioned sense of community, fellowship, love, and trust that must exist between them for them to share sacred space.

It is no small matter. Particularly for LGTBQ+ Witches and Witches of Color (WoC). LGBT+ Witches and Witches of Color cannot simply “leave politics out of the Craft” or pretend that politics don’t exist within the bounds of Circle because every aspect of their lives–their very existence–is political. That bears repeating because it’s important: every aspect of their lives–their very existence–is political. Our society has forcibly made the lives of LGBT+ and WoC political through no choice of their own. When she enters sacred space, for example, a Witch does not stop being a Lesbian nor does she stop being Black. These facts–her reality–will necessarily effect how she comes and relates to the Divine; how she sees herself and her relationship with her coven; and how the Work will effect her.

“Do not cross this line with your privilege.”

If in the course of discussing politics, a fellow Witch reveals that they do not believe in equal rights for LGBT+ persons then there can be no community between this Witch and their LGBT+ Witches, there can be no fellowship, there can be no love, nor trust. If a Witch reveals that they are complicit with the oppression of women, there can be no community, fellowship, love, or trust. If a fellow Witch believes that some races of people are innately better than others (despite race being an artificial social construct) then again there can be no community, no fellowship, no love, and no trust.

How could there be? How could an LGBT+ Witch be present in sacred space while they know Homer Homophobic by the Western Watchtower thinks they’re fundamentally lacking what’s necessary to fully commune, are aberrations, or are even undeserving of equal rights? How can any Priestess commune with the Goddess while she knows that Micky Misogyny thinks women are inferior and aren’t deserving of body autonomy? How can a Witch of Color connect with Rachel Racist when they know she thinks they and people like them are innately inferior?

For those of us who must have these four components as requirements for the sharing of sacred space, knowing the politics of your fellow Witches becomes pretty important. It may require us to rethink with whom we share that most sacred of spaces, it may require us to draw lines in the sand, and it may require that those lines be placed firmly outside of any circle.