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Hedge Witch and Wicca

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

I had a comment over on Authonomy today that raises a few interesting points. Here's what it said :

The use of some real life terms used within the context of the other world confused me. Terms such as hedgewitch and Bealtaine. A hedgewitch ( I am a practising Wiccan hedgewitch) is a solitary healer, a practioner of nature magick. One who tries her best to protect and preserve the natural world and do no harm. Beltaine is the ancient Irish feast held around the 1st of May.

The first point about using "real life" terms in invented worlds clearly doesn't add up. I mean, you couldn't write anything then. I'm drawing on these associations to write a good story and perhaps make allegorical points, just as I could with anything. And I do, of course, know what terms like "hedge witch" and "Beltaine" mean in our world (old Manx Celt that I am). My wider point, though, is to note how people seem to have trouble differentiating between reality and fiction. Isn't that the definition of psychosis? The assumption seems to be that, since I've written a book called Hedge Witch, that has witches and magic in it, I must try to make my depictions of witches etc. "realistic" and, by extension, must believe that this stuff is real.

Which, let me make it plain, I do not. Philosophically I'm your basic atheist materialist. There's the physical world and that's it. Everything else is just going on inside our heads. Religion, magic, beauty, love: none of it happens outside of our skulls. That forest isn't beautiful. It isn't anything. It just becomes beautiful inside our minds.

Which is not to say there isn't wonder and fantasy and the rest. So long as we know that it's all inside us. We should nurture and treasure these things that make us human, of course, but we shouldn't pretend they're physically real. Too many problems occur when people start projecting their subjective notions onto the real world. You end up with no end of supernatural, anti-intellectual guff.

I suppose this is often harmless enough. Whatever gets you through the night. But to be corrected that I haven't got Hedge Witches "right" is obviously nonsensical.

Still, that's just my way of looking at the world ...


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