This Position Paper was approved for dissemination by the Board of Directors of Spiral Cult Circus.
Some of you have joined us in this journey only of late, and therefore may have missed some of the formative lessons that have created the organization Spiral Cult Circus. We are an egalitarian spiritual organization serving the activist and artist communities of Portland, OR. This grew out of an experiment in conscious movement and ritual creation (with a tip of the hat to the inspiring works of Antero Alli, Aleister Crowley, and many a holy bard...)
In the beginning, we had only four rules:
- Don't burn the Witch.
- Buy ticket, take ride. Your mileage may vary. This might kill you.
- Must be this tall to ride ride.
- Everyone gets the benefit of the doubt.
It has come to our attention that not everyone in our field understands these principles, or why we have them. Spiral Cult Circus was designed to be an inclusive space meant to foster diversity and understanding in the magical community. We have many highly talented, creative people skilled in all areas of event production. As such, we encourage our members to share their talents liberally with any organization working toward allied causes in the community that shows itself to be appreciative and trustworthy.
It has been our experience that our shared communities are frequently fractious and prone to internal power struggles through “small pond” politics. The tactics of this method are inherently damaging to community: gossip mongering; bullying and intimidation; financial manipulation; and out-right abuse are all too common. There is therefore no telling what kind of a process anyone has received. This is the reason behind Rule #1; and also has to do with Rule #4.
Rule #2 is relevant to the choice to participate in any activity involving risk. You are the party primarily responsible for your own safety. Sovereignty is a double-edged sword. If no one else gets to tell you what to do with yourself and your own body, then no one else can be blamed if an outcome leaves you hurt. You are responsible for the choices you make. Failing to interrupt something that is happening in your environment is giving implied consent to that activity, except in case of incapacity. In other words, if you don't want to mosh, stay out of the pit.
Must be this tall to ride ride: we expect everyone in our community to behave like adults. All of us here are damaged. That is no excuse. All of us here have traumas. That is no excuse. All of us here have unique structures of oppression effecting our lives. That is no excuse. All of us have strong political, religious, and social opinions. That is no excuse.
We are striving together to get beyond mere tolerance and “safe” spaces. We recognize that in order for growth and change to occur, we must encounter difference in a way that might lead to it. That involves risk, and it can't happen in monoculture spaces. That means we are going to have to learn to have a genuine respect for one another as people first, beyond our differences, if we are ever to unite in common cause with our natural allies in the fight against our shared, True Enemy.
We can no longer continue ripping ourselves apart in petty squabbles, turned deadly serious by the participation in mob mentality. For the record, Spiral Cult Circus is not now, nor has it ever been subject to the Witch Hunts. We are neutral space, and we do not take sides in the internal politics of the organizations we serve; or any others in the field.
In other words, we don't give a damn who has accused you of what. The only way you get ejected from our space is by coming there and making trouble. If anyone doesn't like that, tough shit.
To all of you that have been effected by this persisting factor of life in the occult community, we offer this advice: don't engage. If someone wants to make you do a process that you don't want to do, don't. Negotiate something you can live with, or don't play. Don't accept as a mediator anyone that isn't a genuinely neutral third party. A genuine mediator will recuse themselves from any process the outcome of which might effect them personally. This is called a conflict of interest.
It saddens us to report that participating in a mediation process with someone at all is being held up as evidence of wrongdoing by others in the community. We suggest you insist upon an informal meeting in which each person is allowed to bring one party of their choosing who is, admittedly, on their side – an emotional support person or advocate. Thereupon, work it out like adults.
Don't be impressed by occult credentials. They are as good as the paper they are printed on. This is also true of any certifications or classes in the social justice field. There is no oversight, and typically these systems are the opinions of their creators; carried by the celebrity of whatever authors and commentators most match their own opinions. If you are trying to decide whether to trust a leader or not, look to the people who've left their organizations; and ask them “Why?”.
If you are not the target but a bystander in one of these situations, be aware that if you participate in the persecution of the target you are helping give power to those carrying it out. You are complicit. Don't be fooled into tacitly supporting the persecution by assuming the accused party is guilty; especially if you know better. To do otherwise is cowardice and, in the case of a friend, betrayal.
However, you must know this: whether you genuinely attempt to “call in” the perpetrator; try to organize publicly; or even simply don't “go along with” the persecution, you will likely become a target. They will aim these same social weapons at anyone who gets in their way. The more power you have in the organization, the more this becomes true. If you have one shred of self-respect, stand your ground as your knowledge of the situation and integrity require. Otherwise, be warned that you are helping to build the gallows upon which you yourself may one day be hanged.
And good riddance.