“I truly believe we, especially those of us who consider ourselves witches and occultists, have the power to create our own communities, ones based on mutual trust, aid and respect. Solidarity, if you will.”
I love the little town where I live. It has beautifully old and historic buildings, a rich and vibrant history. I love its cobbled streets, its higgledy piggledy buildings, the huge church that dominates the skyline, a gothic affair with huge stained glass windows.
When my little sister comes home from where she now lives, down south, she says she’s coming back to the sticks.
Isn’t it funny, how the perception of a place varies from person to person. At work, my area manager thinks it’s a posh little town, mostly because of the historic architecture and the fussy town council. But recently, a BBC report named my humble little town as one of the most deprived areas in the UK and one of the worst places to grow up poor.
The report, which goes into great deal regarding my town, says that there is a lack of opportunity for young people, lack of job security and so on and so forth. The usual stuff.
I must admit, I was quite surprised at the negativity in this report. Perhaps it is because those of us used to being poor find nothing surprising about the situation. We’re used to it. It’s like when some middle class feminists talk about women and working and all of the issues faced, it comes from a middle class perceptive. They talk about the high costs of childcare and how it affects them; about pay disparity (only today, as I write this, a BBC presenter has resigned despite earning well over one hundred thousand pounds a year and being offered a forty-five thousand pound pay rise). All of those things should be addressed, of course, but to me it highlights a clear problem within the fight for equality. Those at the bottom don’t count.
I think my town and the people in it are no different to anywhere else in the country, or indeed, the world. Poor is poor. When you can’t afford to feed your family, or to clothe them, when you struggle to keep a roof over your head, it doesn’t matter where you live, and it’s hard to feel that the woman presenter, is akin to those women, those single mothers in council houses struggling to make ends meet; or the mother and wife, who works full-time and still scrapes through life on less than the basics, but it’s all very middle class isn’t it? Though she shares a gender with those working class women, that’s it. There are no other shared traits, no other commonality.
The council estate where I live probably has the worst reputation of anywhere in the town. But what we have is a sense of community. I know all of my neighbours, could call on them for favours in times of need. When there’s car trouble and no money for mechanics, you can bet that after a few minutes of tinkering under the bonnet, at least two neighbours will be out with their tool boxes, helping if they can. When a kid goes missing, the whole street is out looking. When trouble comes, we band together.
And it’s not just the street where I live. In recent years, and with the rise of social media, whenever there has been an accident in the town, when people have been left homeless with no belongings, with nothing to their name, the town has rallied round, with donations of money, bedding, clothes, kettles, cutlery. The basics of existence. The little things that help to make a hard life just that little bit more bearable, and all from others who have very little themselves. We have community.
Don’t get me wrong, the town does have its problems, but no more than other places, and there are many diamonds in the rough.
The problems faced by the residents of this town, and countless others, countrywide and globally stem from the same source. From an unfair, capitalist system. In the UK, if it’s not London, Parliament doesn’t care. The political structure is a corrupt machine, not fit for purpose. It doesn’t matter what political party is in power. Politics is a stage show, the politicians actors, our lives the stage on which these skilled deceivers sell us their lies. We, the vast audience are taken in by their show, kept quiet with the power of the almighty vote. We think we are the directors of the show that is politics. We think we have control.
We do not.
But we can take it. And it starts at the grassroots. It starts with the land, and those with whom we share it. It starts at home.
When I talk about community, I think some people think I mean all love and light and all that nonsense. I do not. There are people I just cannot stand, who live on my estate. I just don’t like them. I don’t like the way they play into the hands of the media, acting the stereotype. I don’t like that they are apathetic. I wish they would take a stand, to fight back against all of the detritus thrown at them. But I’ll tell you something, they are more honest than all the politicians combined. I’ll tell you something else as well, they would have my back and I theirs.
But community means more than people. What about the other beings we share the land with?
Once, on an outing with a couple of pagan friends, the conversation turned to the topic of animal welfare, or rather the lack of it. Now, I am a vegetarian, would be vegan but for eggs and honey, and so animal welfare is a big deal for me. We were discussing factory farming, specifically the production of meat. Can you guess what a fellow pagan asked me? She asked if I thought then, because of my stance vehemently opposing factory farming, that animals had feelings?
Yep, you heard right. Do animals have feelings? My response was for her to go home and kick her dog, and then to come back and ask again whether I thought animals had feelings. Now, obviously I didn’t actually mean for her to actually kick her dog, but it’s so strange to me how a pagan, or any one who shares their home with an animal could even think to ask me such a question. Do they not feel fear, or pain, happiness and sadness. Of course they do and anyone with a bond to an animal will tell you the same.
For me, community goes beyond those who live on the same street as you. Now I know some do not like the word community, seeing it as a category of people lumped together based on their postcode or some other shared trait, and in a sense, this is true. But again, for me community means more. I truly believe we, especially those of us who consider ourselves witches and occultists, have the power to create our own communities, ones based on mutual trust, aid and respect. Solidarity, if you will.
Today, distance need not separate us and we can connect with others thousands of miles away. This is community too.
Wherever you are in the world, seek out those other like-minded folk, and build your community based on solidarity.
My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!
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