Designing The Other

It is worth remembering that the religions of old no longer have any right under law to punish us for how we do or do not pray in the United Kingdom. Yet as highlighted by the life of the late David Farrant, a man who was convicted on a laundry list of minor charges due to his involvement with the Highgate Vampire case, there is more than one way to instigate a witch burning. If the law is not strong enough to light the pyre beneath the accused on their own then the media can always be relied upon to fan the flames.

Editorial assaults on the Neopagan community’s elders extend far beyond the newspapers of the 1970’s, continuing even to this day. That should be no surprise, as the media is ever the tool of the bland and fearful majority, gambling ratings against the public’s hatred of those that are different. Of course for the Abrehamic religions the opposite is usually true, and not just on the daily newscasts or in the tabloid press.

This makes sense, as many of those who own and run those outlets are allied with mainstream denominations along religious or political lines. Watch a few hours of any American television network and you will find numerous references, some blatant and many more hidden, to the positivity of their prevailing Christian faith. This trend continues on all the twenty four hour news channels, talk radio stations and most newspapers too.

Everything created in America seems saturated with the Abrehamic godform’s exclusionist and myopic DNA, even leading to certain strands of witchcraft becoming bizarre Christian hybrids that both sides should rightly disown. Politicians and presidents, all backed by God’s own money, tow the Baptist party line like good little pawns and play their part in seeding the world with Biblical ideals. Truly, the entire nation is now one massive faith factory, and in the age of the internet this overproduction of mental dross is only gathering pace.

While the Muslim and Mexican hordes are the external ‘other’ in the average American mind, it is the goth, the witch, the Mambo and the Satanist that they fear from within. Daring to view your spirituality or lifestyle in an unconventional way is now a potentially dangerous choice, and it is no surprise that many in the Neopagan community would prefer to keep their heads down while Atheistic groups such as The Satanic Temple happily poke the bear.

Watching any of the numerous crime documentaries that hail from the land of the supposedly free is all that is required to see this bias in action. Even felons that were in no way affiliated with the aforementioned alternative lifestyles are regularly recast as avatars of Satan with black trench coats, dark eyeliner, bedrooms full of Ouija boards and an unhealthy interest in Dungeons and Dragons. Yet actual file footage of the same convicts later on in the episode proves that they were in reality anything but Goetic demons made flesh.

Scratch the surface and it is easy to realise that such ostensibly factual slices of American life are in reality little better than modern morality plays. Thus pseudo truths become highly stage-managed food for thought spoon fed to a slowly imploding nation which prefers to see things in stark black and white. The truth is actually very many beautiful shades of grey, as any magickian would happily and vehemently attest without regret.

It is no surprise that more than a few of the outsiders that are cast as scapegoats by the majority embrace that hatred, ultimately seeking to reflect it back through violence and civil unrest if given even half the chance. All Governments realise the need to control the emotions of their population, to repress dissent and present a unified front behind their deity or figurehead of choice on the global stage. Anything which is perceived to weaken the cultural egrigore must, as a rule, be stamped out.

Returning to the UK, where the Church of England is slowly buckling under the weight of its own inability to evolve and the more fundamentalist voices from the Muslim Faith are really only a minority, we witness the media falling into old habits to remain relevant. These relics of a pre digital age have little choice but to look back to the usual outsiders to grind beneath their collective boot, as without controversy their business model has little value.

Thus biases against the ‘other’ hold sway, forcing a warning message to run before television programs of a paranormal or Spiritualistic nature but leaving Songs of Praise or Carols from Kings unfettered by such stigma. Indeed, it is interesting to note that Ofcom, the organisation in the United Kingdom that sets guidelines for all broadcast media, places mediumship, magick and exorcisms firmly under the Harm and Offence heading, while religion gets a section completely to itself.

Worse, most of the rules relating to the latter actually protect it from criticism and censor a free and open debate about those millennia old fairy tales, at least within the mainstream dialogue. Further proof, if any was needed, that the continued cohesion of any regime directly relies upon the manipulation of information to push their population towards a given mindset. Few will shed a tear if some witches need burning along the way.

Yes, the state controlled media that is tolerated in Iran or Russia would be vehemently resisted by the populations of the ever widening Western world, especially in an age where the internet has rendered editorial control irrelevant to begin with. But it is no wonder that few people know what is really going on when our lives are underpinned by the fallacy that all we have to do is change the channel to find an honestly opposing point of view.