49 Degrees: Canadian Pagan Perspectives

Canadian Paganism has a style all its own. Have a look at events, issues, celebrations, people, trends and events north of the border from the eyes of a Canadian Wiccan and Witch.

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Magick and Politics

Yesterday Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party dropped the writ to announce the beginning of an eleven-week election campaign.  It will be one of the longest campaigns in Canadian history.  Without getting into a very long litany of what I believe to be the sins of the Canadian federal Conservative Party, I will say that for the first time in my life, I am working as a volunteer in a political campaign.  I have given my support to the party most likely to defeat the Conservative party in my riding.  I have volunteered to cold-call people on the phone; something I have to work up considerable courage to do.  I have volunteered to write press releases.  I have folded little paper fans as promotional materials.  I am doing this because I am angry and because I believe that supporting the party I've chosen to is our best chance for change.

In the meantime, I have also pleaded with Athena for the victory of my chosen party, and I am lending my magickal skills to the task.

Magick and politics are similar.  Magick creates changes in one's own life through changes of consciousness; activism creates changes in the lives of many through changes of consciousness.  And right now, a lot of things hang in such a balance that magick may strongly affect the turning of the tides.

Recently I wrote about the Magical Battle of Britain, in which Dion Fortune organized a magical experiment to prevent the Nazis from invading England.  And it worked.  The Nazis never did invade, because they believed they couldn't succeed.  The British people stalwartly refused to surrender, and they out-stubborned the Blitz.

Can I say with certainty that it was magick that caused this?  Of course not.  But the key to magick is belief.

Politics are similar.

For many years now, less and less Canadians, and especially less and less young and disadvantaged Canadians, have been going to the polls.  They haven't believed that it would do any good.  Some of them even believed that by refusing to participate, they were displaying their contempt for the whole system.  That's exactly what the entrenched power moguls wanted.  If the Progressives chose to stay home on Election Day, then the Conservatives won by default.

After the many ways in which the system has been changed over the past several years to create voting conditions that favour the Conservatives, it was easy to believe that nothing we did would make any difference.  So why bother?

But then something happened.

First of all, in the last election, to everyone's surprise there was an overwhelming influx of New Democratic candidates, most of whom were young, inexperienced "placeholders" in Quebec ridings that were expected to lose.  Quebec has been a Liberal Party stronghold for many years.  They called it "the Orange Crush" (because the New Democrats use orange for their colours).  Why it happened has been a subject of intense debate for political analysts.  But it's not really important to my narrative.  What's important is that it happened, and suddenly, people's perspectives changed.

It's generally been believed, despite Canada's reputation as a bunch of left-wing liberals, that Canadians had two actual choices; the Liberal Party (which is really more middle-right, especially these days) and the Conservatives (right wing).  But now, all of a sudden, for the first time the New Democrats, who have been around for a long time but nobody ever took seriously, were being taken seriously.  The current leader of our Official Opposition (a role that essentially combines elements of Vice President and Devil's Advocate, as well as a moral check and balance) is Tom Mulcair, leader of the New Democrats.  That means that the NDP came in second.

Our media hasn't caught up to this reality yet.  They keep presenting the Liberal Party as if they were the Official Opposition.  Of course, three companies own every major media outlet in the country, and they all contribute heavily to the federal Liberal Party.  They are aware that belief creates reality in politics and they are acting to preserve their interests.

But something else happened.  After the oil industry's financial crash this past year, there was an election in the Province of Alberta.  Now the Provincial Parties and the Federal Parties are not the same, but many of them have similar names and ideals, and people conflate them all the time.  They have been a Conservative bastion for generations.  People were angry because much of Alberta's boom economy recently has been due to oil and they saw their existing government as having mismanaged that.  This time, they elected an NDP government.

The big industries are screaming blue bloody murder and threatening to close everything in the world down because of the "socialist government," but Alberta's still plugging heartily along.  I guess people figured "what the hell?  We haven't tried these guys yet, and they can't screw it up any worse!"

Because of the Orange Crush, people in Alberta suddenly believed it was possible to actually elect a left-leaning Provincial government.  And so they did.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the federal election.  If the New Democrats can win in Alberta, can they win in the National election?  I think that for the first time ever people at least believe it's possible, and all over the country I hear about people who have never cast a ballot, and people who have not cast a ballot in years, signing up to make sure they're registered to vote.

American politics are equally interesting right now.  Donald Trump running for the Republican nomination is an old Republican tactic: run an obvious right-wing nut-job as the alternative to the actual intended right-wing hardliner they really want to win, so that everyone wipes the sweat from their brow and says, "Well, at least he's not as crazy as the other guy!"  Except that I'm concerned that this time the tactic might blow up in their faces, because Donald Trump is so well-known that he might actually win the nomination.  Gods only know what would happen then!

On the other hand, I am watching Bernie Sanders with great interest.  He's sort of the Democrat's answer to that tactic, isn't he?  No one really expected him to have a chance against Hillary Clinton . . . but he might.  Because something's changed in American politics, and maybe people are finally so desperate for relief that they'll try anything.

There are two ways to invoke the power of your Will in the world.  One is to hone your magickal Will to a razor-sharp edge and be completed convicted in the cause to which you lend that blade.  The other is to get other people to believe and act as you do.

Activism and politics are the manifestations of a collective Will.  Magick is a matter of nudging things towards one option from a list of available options at each moment of choice.  As magicians and witches, it's important that we not separate our magick and our politics.  I am volunteering for my party and I am also beseeching my Deities and casting spells.  If you believe in magick, and you believe in the cause you support, do what you can to support that cause.  Lend your Will to the Working of it.  And remember, it doesn't mean anything unless you go to the polls and vote!

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Sable Aradia (Diane Morrison) has been a traditional witch most of her life, and she is a licensed Wiccan minister and a Third Degree initiate in the Star Sapphire and Pagans for Peace traditions. Author of "The Witch's Eight Paths of Power" (Red Wheel/Weiser 2014) and contributor to "Pagan Consent Culture" and "The Pagan Leadership Anthology," she also writes "Between the Shadows" at Patheos' Pagan channel and contributes to Gods & Radicals. Sable is just breaking out as a speculative fiction writer under her legal name, and a new serial, the Wyrd West Chronicles, will be released on the Spring Equinox this year. Like most writers, she does a lot of other things to help pay the bills, including music, Etsy crafts, and working part time at a bookstore. She lives in Vernon, BC, Canada with her two life partners and her furbabies in a cabin on the edge of the woods.


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