This article is excerpted from the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal.
Each issue of the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal is published by
High Plains Arts and Sciences; P.O. Box 620604, Littleton Co.,
80123, a Colorado Non-Profit Corporation, under a Public Domain
Copyright, which entitles any person or group of persons to
reproduce, in any form whatsoever, any material contained therein
without restriction, so long as articles are not condensed or
abbreviated in any fashion, and credit is given the original
THE HERETIC'S CORNER
by Buck Jump
Greetings, my Pagan friends; may your Gods be well disposed
to you; may the bugs flee your patch as from a crow; may the
gentle rain fall softly on your flower beds; and may your lovers
be all you wish them to be. Now at the season of long lovely
days and short passionate nights, when our Mother the fair Earth
is at her richest and most bountiful, it is hardly the season for
When nature is at its very best and the season most
enjoyable are we not all of us tempted to shut off the mental
processes and enjoy life in a purely sensual mammalian way? Of
course we are, to do less would be an insult to creation.
At this glad time, here comes that old pest, the heretic,
like the ghost at Ceasar's feast. Consider, dear friends, even
as the screech owl is put into this world to scare goose bumps on
our backs, the here-tic is put into the world to ask hard
questions and discomboomerate the quiet mind. The only place on
this sweet earth where we can look for a quiet unchanging stay is
a graveyard. It is so with me, even as with you.
The other day when I was minding my own business [a most ha-
zardous occupation], a stranger came to me with a request. He
wanted me to magically restore to him a lost love. It seems that
he had, by his own actions, turned his lady's love if not to
hate, at least to an active dislike. He was sorry. He knew it
was all his own fault. He agreed that she was justified in
leaving him. He beat his chest and cried `mea culpa', but he
wanted her back, and he wanted me or someone to, as he put it,
"push the right button", and change the situation. Before he
came to me he had been to a friend of mine. The friend is a
scholar and practical magician who is rather more daring than
most- he had by magic means caused the lady to recall the best of
the past. With that, the lady consented to talk with her ex-
enamorata, and dis-cuss, in a civilized fashion, her decision to
be done with him. At that, the magician bowed out. He pointed
out to the petitioner that from there on, it was up to him. My
friend the magician can be, when he has to be, a most impressive
man, and I gather he dismissed the `lorn lover' with a definite
Then he came to me. I pointed out that there ain't no free
lunch in the universe and I had no intention of taking on a
karmic debt of considerable proportion for his possible benefit.
I told him that it is easier to move a mountain than to move a
human mind if it will not be moved. I told him that he was
trying to find someone to do for him what could only be properly
done by himself. I pointed out to him that his situation was an
effect of a cause, a cause that he was respon-sible for. I told
him that magic is fine as a last resort, but hardly to be
considered as first aid. I told him ...... I wasted my breath.
Such a one hears only what he wants to hear.
The petitioner only said, "I just need someone to push the
right button - she used to love me. I am not asking much, I just
want things to be like they were."
I refrained from pointing out that Hitler could have said
the same thing in the bunker. Then he said, "I am willing to pay
you. Just tell me how much it's going to cost." Some things are
an insult from a knowledgeable person, and a joke from a fool. I
laughed. He was the sort who would ask "How much?", referring to
Now I am, I think, a reasonable sort, patient, and in my own
way polite, but enough is enough, and this chap was rapidly
becoming too much. I told him flatly, that I was not about to do
any button pushing. I gave him what I felt was good advice.
That is, I told him that if he was determined to further his
amours by magic means to learn to do it himself. I referred him
to a most knowledgeable teacher. I was in that way certain that
he would either learn what was involved in his request and give
it up, or more likely abandon the whole thing as too slow and too
difficult. (The teacher informs me that he never bothered to
even go around to see what the teacher had to offer. A case of
"Gimme my daily bread, I'm willing to wait with my mouth open".)
Then he countered that if I wouldn't "push the button" could
I refer him to someone who could, or would. I inquired around.
One col-league I know is willing to try just about anything. He
once did a weather spell out on the high plains in tornado season
and another time worked a charm to rid a field of grasshoppers in
hail season. I add, both were successful in a disastrous way.
When I contacted him with the case, his words were, "I'd like to
but I'm going on a trip to South America." Surprised, I asked
about the trip, adding I hadn't known about it. He replied, "I
didn't know about it either, but if that dude shows up here, I'm
Failing to find a genuine scholar and practicing magician
to attempt the matter, I tried a couple of unethical charlatans.
In view of the fact that the petitioner was a large muscular sort
who would expect instant results, they regretfully declined.
I was beginning to feel like Sinbad the Sailor when he
carried the old man of the sea piggyback around the island. At
wit's end (where I have lived for years), I suggested that he try
religion. I offered to introduce him to some nice Pagan folks,
or even get him in touch with some T.V. type evange-lists. He
refused on the grounds that they would be too slow and uncertain.
He wanted instant gratification.
At last, thanks be to the power that watches over well-
meaning fools like me, another lady hove into sight, and he took
off in her direction with deep breath and flashing eyes. This
sad fellow is but one of many I've had the misfortune to meet. I
am sure most of you could recount similar sad tales. We'll all
have to get together and I'll haul out the portable wailing wall,
and we can share a cup of tea and all sympathize with each other.
I wouldn't have bored you with this all too familiar tale
except I have a question. How does one deal with such people?
Is there some way to tell a person with a real problem who can be
helped from the person who has an endless amount of wants and no
energy to help himself? That is, some way, without finding out
the hard way? I can handle skeptics (I am one myself), I can
handle cynics, I can handle atheists and deal with convinced true
believers of all sorts, but how do I deal with a person who
believes that I can work miracles?
One question leads to another. I have a few more on the
same line. How comes it that as soon as people, some of them at
least, find that one is not part of some main line orthodox
church, they straightway want you to work some magic? Are Roman
Catholic and Episcopal priests pes-tered by miracle seekers? Are
T.V. evangelists? If not, why not? They deal in magic as much
as any Pagan or free thinker. Is the prevalence of lazy
freeloaders the reason that Christianity for the last fifteen
centuries or so has been down playing the magical basis of the
early Church? This is a topic worthy of our consideration.
Another question comes to mind at this point. A question
about magic in general. I am sure you know what magic is, just
is I am sure I know what it is. The defi-nitions are many and
varied, but they all basically state in one way or another, that
magic is the prac-tical side of religion, and the practice of
magic is the art of causing changes in the tangible by intangible
means. Or, to put it another way, magic is a mental way of
changing the physical by means of the spiritual. That is what
magic is, no question there. The question is what does the
uninitiated, uninformed layman think magic is?
If you are going to make a living repairing televisions and
radios, it is not enough that you know electronics. You must
also know what your customers believe about electronics. The
degree of success in the TVRadio repair business is generally in
direct proportion to the amount of customer knowledge the
proprietor of the business has. The rule is, if you deal with
the run of humanity, you must understand the general run of
humanity. You must not know only what you know, but also what
people ignorantly suppose you know.
I pass this bit of wisdom on to you, for I think it has
value to any serious student of matters intangible. An old
doctor of medicine told me this some forty years ago. The
occasion was a patient of his inquiring about an operation for a
then inoperable condition. I, only an army medic, was astounded
at the fellow's ignorance and when the Doc and I were alone, said
as much. "Son," the old doctor said, "Here is something to
remember Anything that works that you don't understand is magic
and a magician can do anything. That's not the truth, but
ninety per cent of the human race believe it is." That is how
people who have never studied the arts of magic see it. To them
it is a power without cost and without limit.
Now, the final question for this time is, what should we do
about this situation? How should one handle a request made in
good faith, to do something clearly impossible? Don't tell me
the answer is nineteenth century elitist secrecy. Even if one
is a member of The Mystic Confraternity of the Aureate, six
fifteen A.M. some well intentioned ill informed citizen is going
to crawl out of your woodwork either begging for a miracle or
demanding one. Secrecy restricts the free flow of information
and the cross fertilization of ideas, besides which it don't
work. I fear that people more or less like the chap I described
at the start of this will ever be with us. What can we do about
them, how should we do it? I am as always serious with my ques
tions. If anyone has some idea on the subject please let us all
know. Write the editorial staff of the RMPJ. Don't hide your
light in this dark world.
Now, having done my best to dispel the boredom of too much
of a good thing, I part now from you. May the sunshine fall
softly on you, tanning but not burning. May our sweet Mother the
Earth long know your shadow. May you go ever with the current of
the power of the Absolute. My blessings on one and all.
(c)1986, by Buck Jump
.........from R.M.P.J. 8/86