Thursday, 22 May 2008

One of my favourite online haunts...

Is the laughable MysticWicks forums. I'm not a member there, I must point out. Well, not any more, at least. Apparently, its pefectly alright for forum admins to harass members all over the boards, but should the harassed member tell them to shove their bullshit, then a banning is an acceptable solution.

Some might say that could indicate a wee bit of bias on my part, but they couldn't be more wrong. I don't hold a single thing against the hypocritical little autocrats who run the place, and certainly hope they don't choke on something anytime soon.

But today is not about past happenings. Its about hilarious things that are happening right now. Because MysticWicks is so large, in spite of its many attempts to drive away users (pay for sites, idiotic leadership, blatant favouritism and, worst of all, hideous forum themes) its the perfect place to start a little hunting for some easy material.

For instance, we currently have a Christian troll winding up the community on issues of incubi and succubi, hilariously stealing comments from Malleus Maleficarum to get them annoyed. That's usual, I don't really mind trolls, so long as they are witty. But some of the responses are very telling...

Choosing a name like the Grand Inquisitor may have been a bit of cheekiness, but all the same, too reminescent of the Inquisition, and a lot of things that some modern day Pagans would like to NOT remember. So there is an aire of defensiveness without even trying.

Never again the Burning Times? Oh please, dear God no! This nonsense is coming from Wolf O Volos, for the record.

Look, I'm going to make this very clear. The Inquisition targeted heretical Christians. According to Thomas Aquinas' own words in the Summa Theologicae:

Among unbelievers there are some who have never received the faith, such as the heathens and the Jews: and these are by no means to be compelled to the faith, in order that they may believe, because to believe depends on the will.

Of course, there is a degree of seperation between the word's on paper and actual action, so lets look at the actions of the Inquisition. The Inquisition was charged with dealing with heresy, which is an entirely different matter to nonbelief, and it carried this out with effective ruthlessness. Heresy of course meant to believe in something different to the Church, but call yourself Christian. It was essentially a political crime, because it undermined the power of the Vatican in Europe. The best example would be the work done in Languedoc, where the Cathar heresy was put down.

Are there any Cathars on MysticWicks? Certainly not the person complaining about Inquisitions, since he gives his path as "Slavic/Eclectic".

Now, if he had wanted to talk about the witchcraft trials...well, that's another matter entirely. An equally false matter, but a much different one.

Often colloquially referred to as the Burning Times, almost everything uttered on it by the Neopagan community is utter bullshit. For example:

  • The total number of victims was probably between 50,000 and 100,000 -- not 9 million as many believe.
  • Although alleged witches were burned alive or hung over a five century interval -- from the 14th to the 18th century -- the vast majority were tried from 1550 to 1650.
  • Some of the victims worshiped Pagan deities, and thus could be considered to be indirectly linked to today's Neopagans. However most apparently did not.
  • Some of the victims were midwives and native healers; however most were not.
  • Most of the victims were tried executed by local, community courts, not by the Church.
  • Many countries in Europe largely escaped the burning times: Ireland executed only four "Witches;" Russia only ten. The craze affected mostly Switzerland, Germany and France.
  • Most of the deaths seem to have taken place in Western Europe in the times and areas where Protestant - Roman Catholic conflict -- and thus social turmoil -- was at its maximum.

So not only is there a lot of misplaced ideas about the role of the Christian church in the Witch hysteria, it should also be remembered that many of the Pagan faiths now practiced no longer existed (they were later revived either in the late 19th or 20th century) and that some of the biggest wars in Europe, such as the 30 Years War, were taking place at the time.

Furthermore, if you are still upset about things that happened hundreds of years ago....I mean damn, my ancestors were deported to the furthest outreaches of the British empire for the crime of being incurably Scottish, and that was well after the end of the Burning Times. And all I hope for is that England is made a fool of in the Ashes.

On the other hand, there are still witch hunts going on in Africa today. Are Pagans speaking up about this? For the most part, no. They are the "wrong sort" of Pagan, it would seem. Persecution only counts when you don't actually have to speak out against acts happening today, only imaginary persecution from a 500 year old series of events.

So lets continue. Now we have some high drama from Kailen:

You have a poor sense of humour. Your name causes torment to innocent people. It brings memories of things that are painful, much like a swastika might remind someone who is Jewish of what happened in Nazi Germany.

OK, except the fact no-one alive has suffered at the hands of the Inquisition. They've all been dead hundreds of years and anyone who overreacts like you to a name like this is a supersensitive little twat with a persecution complex. Also, great way to belittle the very tragic fate of the Jews in Nazi Germany, asshole.

If you think the name "TheGrandInquisitor" is funny, do you also think that burning people at the stake is funny? Or that drowning people to see if they are witches is funny? Or torturing people until they say whatever it is the person wants to hear is funny?

Perhaps if that is so funny, we should try those methods on you.

Perhaps he finds internet tough guy routines from hypersensitive people funny? I mean come on, that's one step off a threat there. Not that I would take it seriously, but come on. Your reaction is hilarious, if somewhat sad too.

Also, not to mention, as another board member did, Monty Python. Those guys were objectively hilarious. "NO-ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!" and all that. Michael Palin better hope he and this guy never meet, if that's his attitude.

And we have Lunacie also picking up on the Jewish theme:

As far as the user name, that's about as funny as someone registering on a Jewish discussion board with the user name "Hitler." Not so much, eh

Look, I know the Holocaust is the gold standard for persecution. But you, as you stand right here and right now, with your broadband internet access and enough free time to go about posting freely on an internet forum, labelling yourself as a Pagan, have not gone through anything even close.

So in fact it's not very much like signing up as Hitler on a Jewish messageboard, because many Jewish people have immediate family who suffered the holocaust, you whiney, smug little prick. When was the last time 6 million Pagans were shoved into ovens, gassed, shot and marked for execution by the government of any Western state? Never? That's right.

Kailen is back again:

It's probably people like me responding to drivel like that, who cause religious wars. I very nearly responded to the last paragraph of that email with a challenge.

Question is, who are those who would inflict harm on peace loving people to judge those who would rather live in peace?

Yes, it is people like you who probably start religious wars, because you can't take a fucking joke and think every little wrong of the past has to be nursed and carried over into the now. And the question of who would be the inflicter of harm is pretty obvious, given your threatening replies to TheGrandInquisitor's questions.

More Kailen:

On a side note, whether it was about witches or not, enough of them were tortured and killed. Is it any surprise that reference to the inquisition is met with hostility?

Well yes, given it happened over 500 years ago. You'd think you would have gotten over events that you cant remember, and neither can anyone else in living memory, and that the social and political forces that were behind it have long vanished. So just a little surprised.

Lunacie back once more:

No, the Spanish Inquisition was a political "witch hunt" directed by the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, it was such a "cloak and dagger" operation that some people actually thought it was a real witch hunt and they turned in people who were different, people they had a grudge against, and people who didn't attend the same church.

All of those things describe us Pagans, so do you really not understand why that user name is offensive to some of us? Oh dear.

Well lets see. The Spanish Inquisition was aimed at Jews and Muslims. Are you a Jew or Muslim in medieval Spain? Or are you another boring suburban housewife and Pagan who likes to believe she is being persecuted, because it adds a touch of drama to your otherwise humdrum existence?

Hmm, I wonder. Beyond that, the Spanish Inquisition was one of the most scepticial when it came to witchcraft, often attributing it to folklore and superstitions and rarely getting involves in such cases. Protestants, especially Lutherans, have more reason to be bitching about the Inquisition in Spain.

And the thread goes predictably on and on, with people get more or less upset and outraged over this terrible, terrible name, as the conversation continues...This sort of low grade, "oh the world is out to get us/lets lie about historical matters" bullshit is exactly the reason this blog was invented. In order to laugh at such idiots.


Emeldi said...

Please don't judge all pagans by those uneducated idiots. That's all I ask. I'm sick of people like them giving honest, scholastically minded pagans a bad name.

The Reverend Asshat said...

This is perfect. I have wanted a central place like this for a long time.

Hrosie said...

Never again the burning times? What the shitfox?

We used to HANG witches round here . . .

still do in come counties.

Hume's Spork said...

Emeldi, don't worry. As I've pointed out, I don't think ALL pagans are insane....I just happen to think that the proportion that are get away with their shit far too easily, when compared to other groups, so I'm calling them out.

And making fun of them.

Reverend Loveshade said...

I agree, Christians, Pagans, Discordians, Kiwanas, what have you are all subject to prejudices and closed-mindedness. It's probably more likely to be expressed by those groups in power, because they have relatively more weaker groups to pick on.

But pagans and witches are still persecuted in different parts of the world.

"A group of up to 300 young men have burned to death 11 people suspected of being witches and wizards in western Kenya — in some cases slitting their victims' throats or clubbing them to death before burning their bodies, officials said."

We like to think that burning, hanging, killing people suspected of being witches is over. Obviously, it isn't.

Police have little hope of solving the crimes, as villagers have refused to identify who did it.

To read the article from the Associated Press, visit