[Content Warning for basically everything.]
This post needs some background.
First bit of background: I am a descendant of people who survived Nazi Europe.
My Oma, a nurse in a hospital that had to keep 50% each of Axis and Ally soldiers at all times, lest they get bombed by either side. My Opa, a member of the Underground. They were engaged before the war broke out, and spent the entire war engaged, though they didn’t see each other for years. My Opa was captured by the Nazis, and spent most of the war stuck in a Nazi prison.
He suffered an unspeakable hell there.
I say unspeakable because he didn’t speak of it. He couldn’t. But he was different, after coming out of there. He was not the same man my Oma had fallen in love with.
They got married anyway, and had two daughters. The second was unplanned. After the birth of my mom, they emigrated to Canada, wanting to leave war-torn Europe. The change in continents threw off my Oma’s menstrual cycle, and their birth control — rhythm method — stopped working.
When Oma found out she was pregnant again, my 3-year-old mom found her standing on the edge of a well on their property, ready to jump. An offering of a flower from her sweet toddler reminded my Oma that maybe living was worthwhile.
My Opa tried his best to be a good father, but something in him was broken. Broken by the Nazis. He was abusive to my mother and aunt, physically and sexually.
My aunt grew up in the shadow of my mom, golden girl, beloved firstborn. When she was a teenager, she was raped repeatedly by a friend’s brother when she went over for sleepovers. When she became pregnant, they sent her to Europe to have an abortion, lest the family die from the “shame” (not to mention, abortion not being wholly legal in Canada until I was 2 years old).
Aunt Ariel spent her life being jealous of my mom, trying whatever she could for attention from their parents, suffering abuses from her father and later, boyfriends and husbands. In the end, battered by a life of abuse, pain, and illness (she suffered from lupus), she took her own life.
That was the night that my mom decided she was too tired to call her sister, and would call in the morning. That choice has haunted her for years.
My mother, despite being the golden child, did not escape unscathed. Her father’s abuse took its toll on her, leaving her with deep scars. After losing the love of her life to cancer, she went to law school and met my bio-sire.
Any red flags that were there, she didn’t see. In her 30s, she was reaching the point in her life when it was time to think about settling down. She wanted kids, after all, and doing that without marriage was…well, it happened, but not often.
Besides, she wanted a partner — someone who could meet her as an equal, who she could build a family with.
I don’t blame her for being taken in by my bio-sire’s lies. He’s a con artist, like most psychopaths, and is perfectly charming until you get to know him. By then, he’s paved the road for more abuse; gotten you used to the cycle of hurting you, then apologizing and making things right.
My Opa loved him.
If things had been different — if Opa hadn’t suffered in a Nazi prison, would he have abused my mother and aunt the way he did? Would a legacy of suffering be passed down through the generations, to rest heavily on my shoulders?
I carry the suffering of my Opa, my Oma, my mother, my aunt, upon my back. I’m aware of it every day.
And I’m aware that, at its roots, the Nazis were the architects of my family’s suffering. The abuse we suffered at the hands of my bio-sire cannot be removed from what my Opa went through in a Nazi prison, just as it can’t be removed from what my paternal grandmother went through as a Native woman living in the Midwest, mid-century. It is all connected.
So. Please, believe me, that when I say “I hate Nazis” I am not saying it with the cheekiness of Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones (though I love that line). I am saying it from the depths of my soul, with the power of all my family’s suffering fueling my rage and hatred.
The only good Nazi is a dead Nazi.
Second bit of background: witchcraft has been, for ages, a tool of the marginalized, the oppressed; the people in our societies with no power. Witchcraft is a tool for reclaiming that power. And sometimes that means using it in ways that hand-wringers deem as “not nice” before fainting and crying.
It’s easy to condemn people for using tools that you “would never” use because you’ve never been forced into a corner where it’s the only option. (Just like it’s easy to condemn people for turning to crime to survive if you’ve never lived in abject poverty; wow look at these parallels.) Sometimes, there aren’t good options. Sometimes hexing IS a good option. It’s not cut and dry. Each situation is going to be different.
Recently there was a high profile rape case in the news, and many witches banded together to hex the perpetrator. Personally I didn’t join in, because I was low on spoons at that point, and to be honest I had some questions about how the hex was structured. It wasn’t what I, personally, would choose to do.
That doesn’t mean I condemn the action outright; I just think it could have been gone about better. I have hexed rapists before, after all. And I will never apologize for that.
Well, there was backlash. This was expected.
What I didn’t really expect was a supposed friend going the extra mile of calling any witch who chooses to hex as bad as a Nazi.
(I guess you could say I did “Nazi” that coming.)
Look, you don’t have to agree with hexing. You don’t have to do it. You can think it’s an awful thing to do. No one is making you hex people. It’s a personal choice.
But to compare witches who hex with Nazis is pretty much beyond all fucking pales there are.
It’s taken me 3 months to write this post because, despite my jokes, I am still so angry about this. I commented on my “friend’s” post, telling her it was inappropriate and also thanking her for comparing me to the architects of my family’s suffering because I use hexes. Her reply was that I “shouldn’t take it personally” (I LOVE how people say that after they say something really deeply hurtful on a personal level), equated magic to a gun (which makes me think she shouldn’t be doing any magic at all), and after some back and forth she equated hexing to murdering someone before eventually unfriending me. (Also made some high and mighty comment about how she was concerned about consent so she’d never teach her kids that hexing was ever okay.)
Ok, so, first off — if you equate witches who hex to Nazis you don’t get to say “don’t take it personally” to someone who does hex, because a lot of people alive today have been directly affected by Nazis, whether the original recipe or Neo, and don’t take kindly to being equated with those horrific excuses for humanity.
Two: magic is not a gun. Magic is a tool. If you see all tools as guns, please don’t do anything with any tool ever, because you obviously don’t have the discernment necessary to use tools without killing someone.
Also, saying that hexing someone is like murdering them is…no? If you hex someone to step on Lego pieces barefoot every day for the rest of their life, that is not the same as hexing someone to die. Like, this is not hard to understand. A hex, just like any other magical act, is equal to the physical act it corresponds to.
You know how witches and magic practitioners are often saying “Don’t JUST do a spell to get a job, back it up with sending out resumes and working on your job hunt!”? It’s recommended to do both magical and mundane; the magic is a boost. If you’re not willing to back up something with mundane action, then why should your magic work?
Hexing is a resort when one CAN’T do anything on the mundane plane. This is why it’s traditionally a tool of the oppressed: when your hands are physically tied, use your astral hands to fuck some shit up.
And by the same token, if you WOULD do something on the mundane but can’t because your hands are tied, then that’s the perfect time to do a hex.
Three: Oh for fuck’s sake. Do you ask consent before doing every single thing that might affect someone?
If you’re raped, and you file a police report, did you ask the consent of your rapist to do something that might land him in jail (I mean, unlikely, because the police are fucking awful at handling rape cases, but the point stands)?
If you’re abused, and you go to the authorities, did you ask the consent of your wife before you filed a restraining order? Before you changed your name and ran away? Before you sold the wedding ring that she bought for you so you can escape? No? All these things affect her.
If you need to report a co-worker to your boss because they’ve done something that could endanger customers or fellow workers, or because they’ve done something else so beyond the pale that you absolutely HAVE to tell someone in charge, do you ask that co-worker’s consent? If you do, what if they say no, you can’t tell the boss about their dangerous activity? No, you can’t report them for stealing from the company? Do you respect that boundary? OR do you do what your conscience says you must?
If someone starts a fight with you and you need to defend yourself, do you ask their consent before fighting back?
Consent is important. But consent fetishization is fucked up, and actually muddies the conversations we should be having about consent.
If I’m not going to ask my rapist’s consent before I report him to the police, then I’m sure as hell not going to ask his consent before I hex him. And in a world where reporting rapists to the police is often a completely impossible thing to do, hexing is often one of the only options.
Hexing is not a simple topic. It’s not always something I think is a good response, and personally I’m not keen on the idea of pre-emptive strikes when it comes to it, in most cases. (In some cases, what might be considered a ‘pre-emptive strike’ is really just a response to a pattern of dangerous behaviour that hasn’t coalesced into a specific incident…yet.) I’m also not keen on the idea of hexing people for minor offenses; I think in these cases, mundane tactics should be used first and hexing only seen as a last resort, if it’s used at all.
(I also feel this should be applied to mundane things as well, such as: dear neighbors, please stop calling the cops because I don’t put my insurance sticker on my car on the exact date it turns over. It’s insured; you’re wasting their time; the one time it WASN’T insured was when my leg was broken and it slipped me by. If it’s really a concern to you, you could come and talk to me civilly first. (I am really glad these neighbors are not magic-users, or they’d be hexing me for it.))
That said, other people feel differently about hexing, and while I may not agree with them or their choices, I’m sure as hell not going to call them a Nazi for choosing to do something I wouldn’t do.
There are plenty of Nazis already in Pagandom, and plenty of Nazi-ism in the history of the Pagan movement. We don’t need to try to create more in an effort to Other and ostracize people we don’t agree with.
Put your strawNazi away and grow the fuck up.