"I am the Captain of my Soul"
Every God-fearing Christian parent knows that they better make sure their teenage daughters don’t go into… Witchcraft. The Big G is all-loving but doesn’t take too kindly to magick and Wicca and other beliefs in general. If your children dabble in faeries, spells, scented candles, broomstick flying, or astrology He has a really, really warm place where he will send them for all eternity to experience the most painful agony and torture imaginable.
On the one hand, the prospect of their kids facing unending torture (that is torture that keeps going longer than the Energizer bunny) seems to make parents willing to go a bit out of their way in order to keep their children out of all that woo-woo. On the other hand, it’s for all the wrong reasons and many teens end up getting into all that witchery anyway. Fundamentalists think that this is a serious issue facing the country.
Frankly, I’m less worried about an explosion of teen witchcraft than I am about an explosion of training teens in evangelism. The Wiccan friends who I have do seem a bit out there, but at least they don’t have blind faith in moral codes that are thousands of years out-dated hammered into them.
But, when I’m in the philosophy section of a Barnes & Noble and I turn my head to gaze into the lengthy metaphysical section (the minuscule science section pales in comparison) I can’t help but wonder why I see so many kids my own age sucking it all up.
I have to admit that the “reality” presented in these books is so very appealing. An enchanted realm with magick in everything around us. Powers to charm the world and shape it the way we wish. Things we never dreamed possible come alive… But as pretty as the mists draped over the mountaintops in this world may be, they only cloud truth.
There’s something else, though. It’s that very human need we all possess for guidance. Let’s face it, the world is a really confusing place and not everybody can take solace from the ultimate answer of 42. Things seem especially complicated in the teenage years.
First you’ve got classes to worry about. You have crabby teachers, homework, tests to study for, all sorts of crazy stuff. Then you have to deal with your social life. Usually you and your friends can get along and just hang out, but every so often someone back-stabs you, or there’s a misunderstanding, or your voices in a conversation get a bit harsher than usual until an unfortunate word escapes from your sharpened toungues. Suddenly you need to figure out how the hell you are going to fix this schism. And, to top it all off, you have raging hormones. You get to become more experienced with flirting, dating, and all that jazz. Problems from you social life may boil over to your relationship, or you may even go through that whole painful ordeal known as unrequited love for the first time.
Oh, and most of us don’t even know who we are.
It’s no wonder teenagers find themselves asking “What the Hell is going on? Why is the world so screwed up? Help!”
In a Teen Tarot book I picked up today, it had a section asking why do teens need tarot? To get some answers to the confusing mess that life is, of course.
And so, we find out about these powers greater than ourselves which can not only tell us what the hell is going on, but also promises we can use magick to have some control over all these chaotic messes.
Hell, it even makes us feel more important than just another teenager wandering the halls of high school. It makes us feel like there’s a hope that as teens we can change the world more (I have the small hope that I’m showing we don’t need magick to make a difference as a teen).
But do we really subject them to skeptical scrutiny, or do we just want to believe?
In Silver Ravenwolf’s book, Teen Witch, she gives spells for a more contemporary teenager and includes a spell which you can cast on your locker at school which asserts that it will lure “locker elves” into your locker because there are elves in school.
As absurd as that sounds, it seems that many people simply take that for granted because they want to be a real witch so much.
I can’t say for sure that there is no such thing as locker elves (I have a few friends who look a lot like elves), but what I do know is this: there is no scientific evidence that elves that go into your lockers at school exist. If somebody does a good investigation and finds conclusive evidence that they do, I’d love to hear about it.
If anybody is confused by social lives and relationships it’s me. Believe me, I truly desire that I could just buy some incense, burn it, cast a spell and have it all work out. I’m a big Harry Potter fan. I’d like that world to be real in some way. But my desires have no bearing on reality.
I just find it unfortunate that so many teens have not yet gained the critical thinking skills needed to distinguish between reality and what’s false.
More unfortunate still, they have handed over control of their own lives to something so very unreal. Life involves a lot of decision making and our actions have consequences. This much structure I have been able to sort out of the fifteen years of confusion… but what consequences might we face when we hand responsibility to the stars or the random shuffling of cards or a “psychic” who probably doesn’t actually have a clue what the full complexity of the situation is or spells which probably won’t work? It’s the easy way out at first glance, but we’re emptying our pockets as well as selling our souls.
Soul, in this sense, does not mean an immaterial embodiment of a person’s mind the existence of which has not been verified by evidence. I mean our freedom to make our own choices.
Believe it or not, we do have some control over our own lives. We have choices over what to do in our lives and… we can choose to do what we want! So what if a dolphin animal guide tells us that we need to do something that we really don’t want to do? We know what we want from life. We can choose to hope that wanting makes it so or we can choose to take action and effectively achieve those ends.
We can use our reason and experience to get us out of our sticky situations. We can seek advice from our friends. We don’t need to turn to metaphysical beings which probably aren’t there.
We make mistakes. And admittedly, chance plays a great role in our lives which we can’t control… But why give up our freedom to take hold of our own lives and have woo-woo steer us?
What could be more empowering, more grand than controlling your own destiny through reason and truth?
“I am the captain of my soul.”