Anarchy and Magic
Throughout history, anarchy and magic, have shared many attributes. Let’s take a look at Magic first. Religious institutions have throughout time, persistently and violently repressed any cultural practice or belief system (be it ideological, mystical or supernatural) that threatened the views of reality, values, beliefs and practices of the dominant religious institution. This tyranny aligned with or acted as an instrument of the Political or State’s need to control society.
Historically, magicians, or more commonly, witches worked to Anarchist principles. Those women and men accused of witchcraft, magic and sorcery worked outside of the dominant institutions and discourses. They used traditional remedies and solutions for peoples problems with practices that did not conform to the institutional practices and conventions of the time.
Anarchists suffered the same fate but from more of a political and social dimension. Anarchists are on the whole individuals or groups of people who work cooperatively for the common good. They give their time, energy, attention and creativity, to directly take control of and improve their lives. And they do this not for personal gain above all else but for the benefit of all, equally.
In the UK “Witch fever gripped East Anglia for 14 terrible months between 1645 – 1646. The people of these eastern counties were solidly Puritan and rabid anti-Catholics and easily swayed by bigoted preachers whose mission was to seek out the slightest whiff of heresy. A man called Matthew Hopkins, an unsuccessful lawyer, came to help (!) He became known as the ‘Witchfinder General’ . He had 68 people put to death in Bury St. Edmunds alone, and 19 hanged at Chelmsford in a single day. After Chelmsford he set off for Norfolk and Suffolk. Aldeburgh paid him £6 for clearing the town of witches, Kings Lynn £15 and a grateful Stowmarket £23. This was at a time when the daily wage was 2.5p.”
More popular perhaps are the Salem witch trials of the Massachusetts Bay Colony between 1692-1693.
“Many historians believe that a number of individuals in the colony, particularly the Putnam family, quickly took advantage of this witch hunt and mass hysteria by accusing rival neighbors or other colonists that they disapproved of or wanted revenge against.
Puritans were very hostile towards colonists who didn’t follow the strict religious and societal rules in the colony. As a result, it is not surprising that many of the accused witches were outspoken women, Quakers, slaves, colonists with criminal backgrounds and/or prior witchcraft accusations or colonists who criticized the witch trials, according to the book The Societal History of Crime and Punishment in America:”
So when writing ‘Magic. A Rough Guide’, I developed a closer connection between Anarchy and Magic.
“Magic. A Rough Guide”, sees a world where the return of Magic has shocked the population with its heretical undermining of conventional realities and presumed certainty. As a result, Magicians are classed as terrorists, and ordinary people rely even more heavily on brands and institutions for security and a stable reality. The personal creative power of magic stands in sharp contrast to the use of branded clothes and accessories, that people use to boost their egos or give themselves a fake sense of identity. In contrast, early in the story, Lizzy, a magician and one of the main characters is arguing with another ordinary teen who wears branded clothes, and says “magic is real change”.
The story uses magic – a personal creative power, as a substitute for an anarchist perspective, amongst other functions