My old "San Ti" posture, before I got it right
Last night we watched "The Crucible", the movie of Arthur Miller's 1953 play about the Salem Witch trials.
Part of me realized how far we have come as a society since the Witch trials, but as there is nothing new under the sun, I acknowledge the strong Puritan streak that still haunts us.
Miller wrote "The Crucible" as an allegory to the anti-communist witch-hunt conducted by Joseph McCarthy in the 1950's. In fact, Arthur Miller himself was threatened with contempt of Congress for not naming people he had attended political meetings with.
But first, let's look at the Puritan hysteria that caused the stonings, hangings and drownings of accused witches in Salem. People could be accused of any small indiscretion and labeled a witch. 19 out of 150 people arrested were put to death. Here's what Wikipedia says about evidence produced in the trials of 1692-93:
"Other evidence included the confessions of the accused, the testimony of a person who confessed to being a witch identifying others as witches, the discovery of poppits, books of palmistry and horoscopes, or pots of ointments in the possession or home of the accused, and the existence of so-called witch's teats on the body of the accused. A witch's teat was said to be a mole or blemish somewhere on the body that was insensitive to touch; discovery of such insensitive areas was considered de facto evidence of witchcraft, though in practice, the witch's teat was usually insensitive by design, with examiners using secretly dulled needles to claim that the accused could not feel the prick of a pin."
Now, put in that context, I would be accused of being a Witch. My spirituality lies somewhere between Daoist and Druid. I have successfully "Witched" three producing water wells with dowsing rods. The Chi Gong and Nei Gong methods I practice resemble ritual magick. If I was spotted one morning in the deep woods practicing slow, meditative martial arts it would be reported in such a way:
Goody Two-Shoes: "I saw him with my own eyes; there he was in the glen - he was fighting with demons that I could not see. He would move and strike, it went on for many minutes, and then he fell silent.
I say it is the work of the Devil!"
And then the town leaders would attempt to capture me, force me to confess under the weight of a plank stacked with stones to crush the life out of me.
Look at the new "McCarthyism" that has arisen. Tea-baggers march with posters of President Obama as a "witch doctor", "Birthers" deny the fact that Obama was actually born in the United States. They call him, and by association anyone who supports his policies a "Communist".
There is a religious test to hold high office; one must profess to be Christian.
About the time I started high school, Nixon had just been forced out of office. I had believed that the old, restrictive thought would disappear the way of the dinosaurs. It was the age of Aquarius, and Jesus Christ was a superstar in a rock opera. It was to be the age of progress and free-thinking.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same.