Chapter 10: What Goes Around
This is the second half of the Bertha-Rev. Debbee arc and shows the consequences
of Bertha’s foolish show of power. When the circle meets to discuss the
fair, the quarreling becomes louder. Although Bertha protests (correctly)
that she harmed no one, her friends perform a reversing spell. Meanwhile,
Cairo and Margaretta make friends with Donnathea and talk about the Goddess
religion. Gwennie begins to think for herself. As the circle continues
to quarrel, Herta becomes more and more distraught.
“What goes around comes back around.” Our favorite expression of instant
karma. Also a good thing to remember. But is it true?
The arguments the women make are accurate for 1989. Some of their concerns
about going public are valid still today.
In the 1980s and perhaps in the ’90s, there was indeed major disagreement
between the neopagan and New Age communities. But both communities are
great borrowers—often from each other—and there is hopefully greater amity
“The times are a-changin’.” Why wouldn’t Cairo remember
Bob Dylan’s song (released in 1964)? But she should have gotten the
title right: "The Times They Are A-Changin'."
Moral Majority. Political organizations of evangelical Christians founded
in the late 1970s by Jerry Falwell and dissolved a decade later. It was
an influence from the political right in three presidential elections.
Pat Robertson and others like him did indeed interview ex-“witches” on
their TV shows. Robertson sought the Republican presidential nomination
in 1988 but lost to George H.W. Bush.
Department of Women’s Studies at Cal State Long Beach. Wendy is Dr. Wendy
emerita and now dean of Cherry Hill Seminary. Wendy and I used to
belong to a drumming circle that met in Long Beach for several years. She
gave me her permission to name her.
Picketing pagans, Clarissa, Eye of the Cat. I knew Clarissa. She really
did stands on street corners with signs.
The Eye of the Cat is a Hermetic supply store in Long Beach that has
been in business since 1974.
Discretion … valor. The proper quote is “the better part of valor is discretion.”
Spoken by Falstaff in
Henry IV, Part II (V, iv, 120). Falstaff played dead in the Battle
of Shrewsbury (1403) to avoid being killed. Everybody gets the quote backwards.
There is a serious discussion of the meaning of “harm none.” This is an
important lesson for witches and other pagans. All acts, magical or not,
have consequences, and we need to try to be aware of those consequences,
intended or not, and how they may affect people we don’t even know.
I own the bell they use in their reversing spell. I bought it from the
artist who made it, who lived in the desert near Palm Springs.
The Beatitudes hold wisdom that anyone of any faith can (and should) live
Like Janie’s catechism, the lessons that Cairo and Margaretta give Donnathea
and Gwennie are historically accurate.
The Wiccan was Starhawk, who taught at Matthew Fox’s
Institute of Creation Spirituality in the 1980s. This is one of several
reasons why Fox was silenced by the Vatican. He is now an Episcopal priest.
Because Bertha’s magic was more annoying than harmful, her reversing manifests
as annoying cartoon characters from the early to the mid-20th-century,
especially Disney. I have no idea how Wendell can play poker with cartoon
rabbits. Perhaps it requires a suspension of disbelief. It seems right
for the cat to be afflicted by karmic fleas.
“Dark followed by light.” Who can ever forget George Carlin (1937–2008)
and his Al Sleet, the “hippie-dippie weatherman”—“Tonight’s forecast: Dark.
Continued dark throughout most of the evening, with some widely scattered
light towards morning”?
Does Bertha really deserve to be punished? Did she really do anything
wrong? What do you think is the place of humor in spiritual matters and
in magic? Is metaphysics funny?
What kind of life are we required to live if we are to truly harm none?
Is it humanly possible? Why or why not?
Have you ever done any spells that not only worked but also had unintended
consequences? What did you do? What happened?
Copyright © 2011 by Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. All rights reserved. Permission
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