Out of the Broomcloset
Dear readers, here’s some light summer reading for you.
Many of us in various magical communities first had our imaginations stimulated by our realization that there were other modes of viewing the world. From the surviving writings, first from the Classical world, tales of gods and mortals and their interaction. Later, histories and the speculations of philosophers were added to the mix.
Western civilization has been shaped in innumerable ways by these surviving remnants for almost a thousand years. The interaction of the notions therein contained, of both Latin and Greek authors, shaped both the arguments of theologians as well as those who contended against them.
It’s easy to point out a gap in the Founding Fathers’ education, a blind spot if you will: Greek tragedies
To be educated was to be as conversant with, say, the letters of Cicero as with the texts of the Bible, up until fairly recently (and horrors, there are now universities that confer degrees in Classical History to those who read neither Latin nor Greek). This is as good a time as any to trot out the Founding Fathers of our Republic, who to the best of their ability tried to come up with a functioning system of government from close study of what did and didn’t work in the case of the Greeks and Romans. Pointedly, they expected the Legislature to be able to corral a Chief Executive who thought too highly of himself. We have all experienced now what happens when this is not the case: Caesar, and the rest of the Imperial power structure, was the result. They also got the whole idea of slavery wrong— really wrong. It’s easy for me to say, but they really should have known better (and some of them did).
If you’ve gotten this far in the column, you no doubt wonder what any of the above has to do this column’s existence. Fair enough. For you youngsters, for lack of a better umbrella term, Pagan revival in the Northeast has always had a strong LGBTQ component (to the horror of the gentiles, or excuse me, the genteel), from Stonewall through the AIDS crisis to the present day. For some of us it’s easy to point out a gap in the Founding Fathers’ education, a blind spot if you will: Greek tragedies.
This is not me being a drama queen. Taken as a whole, the surviving texts mostly examine facets of the same plot, the same themes. Some injustice, some horror, occurs in the past. It is never properly dealt with but deflected, ignored, a can kicked down the road, as it were rarely acknowledged. As the generations pass, justice delayed festers until it causes pain too great to be ignored, at which point the situation explodes, mortals admit the dilemma is too massive to be coped with, and the gods are called upon to intercede. In our case, collectively we seem to be on the same path.
It doesn’t take any great powers of prophecy to be invoked to know that these words will be at least as relevant when read as they are while being written. You don’t buy into planetary movements having any effect at the mundane level? That’s just fine—don’t believe it. Just believe in there being ebbs and flows to the affairs of this world. It’s past time to lance the boil, drain the abscess. Justice can either come by agreement, or by conflict.
We did seem to be doing rather well, for a time.