I have mentioned one Chirotus Infinitum from time to time. He and I stopped talking over a year ago—over what is beside the point—but we mostly left one another alone. Recently a series of miscommunications culminated in a brief scare that I might find myself in a no-holds-barred fight with a serious, competent magician … and not just any magician, but one with whom I had worked extensively in the past. A flurry of e-mails ensued, a couple mutual friends were contacted, and it all turned out to be a(somewhat amusing, in retrospect) misunderstanding. We made a formal peace-pact, reaffirmed the bond and nature of our previously shared hospitality (he is a Roman reconstructionist, I a sort of neo-Hellenic type … the sacred binding power of hospitality is a Very Big Deal to both of us) and the whole thing would only be interesting to our mutual friends except for one point: it got me to thinking on something that I haven’t put serious thought to since before I could drink legally.
If I were going to go to war, what would I do?
Since then, the subject seems to keep coming up. I found an essay on Classical magic which focused exclusively on curse tablets and poppets (the essay called them “voodoo dolls”, proving that the area of study requires attention from actual practitioners). A friend of a friend was talking about the curses and “blessings” her Rom ancestors liked to make use of. A very close friend, in seeking justice for an in-law, almost-but-didn’t-quite-ask Aradia and I to curse the ever-loving shit out of the perpetrator (We didn’t do it: sorry, you have to ask me in clear language for that sort of thing. I can’t just take it upon myself. And you have to help.) I got a coworker fired by reporting his sexual harassment of another employee to management, and there was a small risk that he might swing on me if he found out—at which point, as I told someone only half-jokingly, I would “call the police and curse his name.”
A lot of people I know have been fucked over in the last few years, one way or another. And having the knowledge to not just try to raise them up out of the muck, but to smite their oppressors, assailants, and tormentors down … is awfully tempting.
This is knowledge which I have actively avoided for a long time. I know myself: I’m a fucking Scorpio. Power tempts me. I would only use it for Justice … right? Except when I used it for Awesome. And I know better what constitutes “Justice” and “Awesome” better than anyone … right? Guys? Where are you going? What are those torches and pitchforks for? I’m not the monster here, I’m just doing what you would have if you had the …
I know what a slippery slope is, and what it isn’t. Marriage equality is NOT a slippery slope to anything … except maybe actual civil rights for us queers. Me wielding the power of curses and bindings in the name of “justice” IS a slippery slope to me using that power in the name of my best interests, ethics be damned. Whether or not this is the Nature of Power is up for debate. But, at just over three decades of being me, there is no debate over the Nature of Me Wielding Power. I know what’s up. I know myself.
This knowledge is a sort of power which, if I ever wield it, I must do so only under the most clear-cut and singular circumstances. Because it tempts me too much to trust myself and my motives. I lust too hotly for revenge.