Bad Witch, “Goad” Witch

I have been asked, on a number of fronts, “If you’re The Bad Witch, who’s The Good Witch?”

After explaining that “The Bad Witch” didn’t originally apply to me, but to the Bad Witches on whom I was reporting (ergo: The Bad Witch Files) and that I took on the moniker as a bit of a joke (based on a snarky t-shirt) which I ended up embracing (blah, blah, blah), I try to explain that by “Bad” I really mean “Challenging” or “Intending to be a goad.” In other words, I like to poke y’all ‘til you squirm.[1] And because I’m bored with defending myself on this front,[2] I thought I’d write one long post and be done with it for good.

The Bad Witch is a gadfly. If she bugs you it must mean that you’ve got something to bite.[3]

We are all pretty familiar with the good cop/bad cop interrogation routine, right?

Imagine: David Caruso brings you in for questioning. You’re sitting all alone in a cement-block interrogation room with a two-way mirror. Who do you prefer to see? The Good Cop or The Bad Cop? You aren’t in any trouble, really; they’re just trying to uncover the truth. Then the Heavy comes into the room. She asks you direct, pointed questions, makes you very uncomfortable, and leaves. You sweat for a minute then The Softie comes along and brings you a soda-pop and a snack, tells you soothing stories, holds your hand, listens to everything you have to say, looks into your eyes, and says “Trust me; if you tell me everything, I can make sure The Heavy doesn’t come back.”

Then she lifts your prints from the soda can and reports everything you told her.

While the good cop/bad cop routine is teamwork used to close a criminal case, the good witch/bad witch routine doesn’t really work like that. Primarily because the good witch and the bad witch are not in cahoots. Our metaphor applies to a set of non-cooperative constabularies: me and the anti-me.

Anyone who knows their Freshman year rhetoric knows about the false dilemma (either/or fallacy). Things aren’t always as dichotomous as they seem – or are they? For me, it seem that the issue between “good” magic (and witches) and “bad” magic (and witches) is caught up in a linguistic strand of signifiers that prefers bipolar morality to the difficulties inherent in ethical choices . . . and intent.

It’s slippery isn’t it?

Ethically, we do not work magic in order to hurt people; but we do work to protect people, right?

Right?

Hmmmmmm.

As an (extreme) example, consider this: Pedophile Joe has eluded the police and you are concerned about the children in the neighborhood. When you protect the children, don’t you – by default – “harm” Joe? I bet he’d see it that way.

Likewise, when you seek to bind someone to a situation (even if you perceive it as positive), you are exacting a manipulative and “controlling” influence.

The trick is – why are you doing it and what do you hope to gain?

The Bad Witch could wholeheartedly get behind throwing Pedophile Joe in the cauldron; at the same time, I would exhort you not to attempt to keep someone you love by your side – even if that’s where they want to be.[4]

In its purest form, magic is a gift given to us to bring us closer to the divine; therefore, it should be directed inward, not outward. That’s not to say that magic can’t be used to affect material situations, just that we must study ourselves very carefully before we decide if it should be used for those purposes.

My mentor always taught me that we don’t use magic because we want to make something happen, but because we want to make ourselves worthier of the gift itself. And that “bad” magic or “black” magic is that which is intended to manipulate or control others or situations.[5] Most agree that “Black” magic is the manipulating of energy planes done by the self for the self, not necessarily to the detriment of others, but to gain something (typically material) for oneself.[6]

So does that make us all Bad Witches?

Sorry, that answer is above my paygrade.

Therefore, let’s go back to the good cop/bad cop scenario.

The Bad Witch is direct, will call you out on poor manners, will tell you when you’ve effed up (and will, likely provide a way to make it better), will make you very uncomfortable if you are lying, and will leave when your company has become trying. However, TBW will not deceive you. What you see is what you get. It’s all on the sleeves of her scary, scary black robe. [7]

The Good Witch is the one that gives you someone else’s ruby slippers and tells you that magic can and should be used to get all the candy in the candy store. The Good Witch brings you a metaphorical soda-pop and a snack, pacifies you with anesthetizing stories, gains your trust and promises to protect you from The Bad Witch.

All while running your prints.

That, my friends, is The Good Witch.

If I am indeed The Bad Witch and my goal is to goad you into a new level of introspection (while exploring my own innards)– then what is The Good Witch doing?

If The Bad Witch is the one who tells you the truth (follow me on an uncustomary binary headtrip for a moment), The Good Witch must be full of shite.

Let me take it a little farther. Most likely, The Good Witch is all touchy-feely and lulls you with a false sense of love: initially preferred to “tough love” for its saccharine charisma. But how nourishing is saccharine?

The Good (“Fun”/“Alluring”/“ Mollifying”) Witch only offers “false love” – that psudo-psychology term for the kind of relationship that poses as love but really asks for sacrifice in return for domination and abdication of selfhood, the kind of “love” that hampers personal growth out of fear of being surpassed, outdone, or abandoned, the kind of “love” that wants us to limit contact with others by making us doubt, mistrust or be suspicious of others. What’s more, it’s the kind of “love” that makes others doubt, mistrust or be suspicious of us.

Admittedly, The Good Witch is more fun to party with, she has a nicer ass, and her cookies always have just the right amount of chocolate chips.

But will she respect you in the morning?

Or in a year.[8]

The Bad Witch (read Tough-Love Witch) will goad you into thinking for yourself. And then let you make informed choices, sometimes you will do this kicking and screaming. But she will be devoted to supporting your choices. That’s hard work – for both of you.

But where does that road lead? Not many are willing to travel alongside a Bad Witch down a tough road. (Remember: If she bugs you it must mean that you’ve got something to bite.)

The Good Witch (read False-Love Witch), on the other hand, wants to tell you what to think, who to care about, what to do/read/eat, when to jump and just how high; then she will pat you on the head like a good puppy when you comply. This is a much easier road – for both of you.

But where does that road lead? Are you willing to follow a Good Witch down a false road?

Many are.

I pray for them.

B, Q, 93,

TBW


[1] Not entirely unlike the ha-satan who observes human activity with the intention of locating folks’ sins and challenging them. Like the celestial prosecutor who brings human iniquity to trial. He got called “Devil” too.

[2] Not from you, my loyal readers; from those who have been fed a series of bull-cupcakes – and they ate them with a spoon. They lick the poop-icing off their fingers and everything. It’s kinda fun to watch. Gross, but fun.

[3] And there is no The Good Witch. There are some people who like to think of themselves as my counterpart. Some who like to believe they embody “The Good Witch.” However, after we study this designation, I don’t think anyone is going to strive for that sobriquet.

[4] I always ask my Momma not to “pray” for me for these reasons. It’s bad enough that I seem to be stuck living in Alabama, I don’t need to move to North Alabama.

[5] I’m using scare quotes to indicate my understanding that the values “bad” and “black” are arbitrary.

[6] Yes, yes, there is a such thing as “grey” magic – a balance or “middle path” that helps you without harming anyone else. But, to be honest, most folks find “balance” too difficult to maintain because they find it easier to rationalize their desires and disguise cravings under a veil of altruism. This extends beyond the scope of my argument, so I’ll save it for another day.

[7] Because, after all, I am very menacing. Grrrrrr. Argh. And boogadaboogada!

[8] In my experience, I’ve seen that people like this tend to have rotating relationships that vacillate between devoted to discarded.

8 comments on “Bad Witch, “Goad” Witch

  1. Kinda like the G-d and the snake in that incomprehensible story in Genesis …

    • Awesome. That too might be a step above my paygrade, lol. But kinda-sorta the same idea; I like it. I referenced the ha-satan – though this and the serpent are not *quite* the same. At that, I thought I might be overreaching my ego. ;)

      Wait — Are we talking about the actual G-d or the nosy old man in the garden? Or is that an entirely different conversation?

      I have a satirical poem that I wrote in grad school about “that incomprehensible story in Genesis” (actually a whole chapbook that I abandoned in post-finals ennui). Maybe I will revisit it and share later along the line. I think y’all would get a kick out of it. The “creator” is a pompous drunkard.

  2. Selene says:

    I think this is right on and something we all need to think about. There are tons of wolves in sheep’s clothing trying to get the better of some of us younger Pagans. I’m so glad to have fallen under your guidance instead of one of the less ethical “teachers” out there. I can remember many times where your tough lovin’ has made me want to spit nails. But now I see the wisdom of it. so, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Too many put up a facade that they have it together – they don’t. It takes willing to admit that we are “a little bit bad” and maybe a little rough around the edges to be trustworthy.

    The best thing about your posts is that they challenge the idea that black is the opposite of white and that good is the opposite of bad. You always teach me that there is nothing aside from unity. Nothing more important than balance. That we can achieve nothing externally until we are “right” on the inside.

    No matter what kind of flack you take for being “The Bad Witch”, know that you are “right” on the inside and that you are supported. . . and maybe a little adored.

  3. [...] this made my study of the Headless Rite.) Everything touches everything – spectrums not binaries. My Good Witch/Bad Witch post intended to illustrate that. Everything is always already contained in its opposite. (And, as some [...]

  4. I have located your page from searching keywords that I accidentally find in your heathen discussion. Strange how coincidences occur. I think I know B —‘s teacher while living with my grandmother in Bavaria. I am now in Netherlands. Is her name F —? Do you know if she was in Germany during 1956-1959? I will send you an email with a scan photograph if you think this may be correct.

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