Tag Archives: feminism

The victims of witchcraft & the witchcraft of victims. Dr. Thomas Waters joins me on the latest episode of AEWCH!

4 Feb
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Friends,
I’ve been preoccupied with the way we’ve been preventing witchcraft, the occult, and magic from entering into serious philosophical and political (especially leftist political) discourse for a long time. Previously, witchcraft was the subject of ridicule. Now it’s claimed by Marxists, feminists, and others, as proof of their own theorizing. I’m happy that magic and the occult are being brought into discourse, but always in a way that seems to dismiss the phenomenon itself. So I invited Thomas Waters, author of the incredible Cursed Britain: A History of Witchcraft and Black Magic in Modern Times to talk about all of this. His book is the nail in the coffin of magical revisionism.
Thomas’s book looks at witchcraft from the 1800s to the present day in the UK and its colonies, but most importantly, it does so from a victim’s point of view. In other words, it starts with a serious angle, and stays with it. Along the way, you meet a host of weird and powerful figures, as well as tragedies, atrocities, and absurdities. And our conversation follows a similarly varied path. This is definitely one of my favorite episodes, and it serves as a companion to my conversational, informal episode “The Left Vs Witches.”
Most importantly, I think, we discuss the need for people who can thoughtfully interpret instances of witchcraft and magic in our time. The disappearance of these “dewitcher” figures has left us lost. These dewitchers use witchcraft as a way of seeing, and can teach that way of seeing to us.
I was happy, also, to get Thomas to express how his research into witchcraft changed him, and I’m sure he was happy to get me to talk about challenges to my academic research project.
Oh, and Thomas recites Wordsworth’s “Song For The Spinning Wheel” in the most soothing and mystery-filled voice!
In this episode
  • Witchcraft, belief, and placebo
  • The ways we dismiss witchcraft even as we admit it into “serious” conversation
  • Witchcraft as a first and last resort
  • Why witchcraft is not simply a tool of the disenfranchised but of people in power, too
  • The importance of dewitchers as people who sort through the bullshit & truth, the safety & dangers of witchcraft
  • Witchcraft as a way of reading, as a way of seeing
  • How disbelief in magic is colonialism
  • Why Thomas became interested in witchcraft
SHOW NOTES
• For more on Thomas, visit his page at Imperial College, which features links to articles and other projects. And if the episode wasn’t convincing enough, read this thoughtful review of Cursed Britain in the Times Literary Supplement.
• I mention the fact-filled (though perhaps theoretically unsatisfying) book Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture written and edited by Bader, Mencken, and Baker. It’s definitely worth reading.
• A great and harsh article on the appropriation of witchcraft for feminist revisionism is by Diane Purkis – “Managing Our Darkest Hatreds And Fears: Witchcraft From The Middle Ages To Brett Kavanaugh”
• I talk about capitalism, time, and magic on AEWCH 76 with Conor McCabe.
• Thomas mentions the book Witches and Neighbors: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft by Robin Briggs, and it sounds great.
• Yes, she was linked to a secret police force.
• I highly recommend reading On Kings by David Graeber and Marshall Sahlins.
DF• My favorite (and the most fun!) book on the Satanic Panic in the US is called, appropriately, Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s. It’s filled with photos, drawings, and is a great read-a-bit-a-day book. 
• If you don’t follow Hookland on twitter, I suggest you check them out ASAP. They’re great.
• Thomas writes a lot about Dion Fortune’s book Psychic Self-Defense, but I think the best place to start with Fortune’s work is either The Esoteric Orders and Their Work or The Secrets Of Dr. Taverner (which is fiction but based on Fortune’s own life). Both books are excellent introductory books to the occult.
• I haven’t yet visited the Museum of Witchcraft, and I really really really want to. Anyway, until I get there, maybe you can go and I can live vicariously through you?
AEWCH 46 with paranormal researchers Greg & Dana Newkirk remains one of my favorite episodes of the show.
• And check out The AntiWitchby Jeanne Favret-Saada for a good ethnography of dewitchers. And her first book, which Thomas gives a rave review to, is Deadly Words: Witchcraft in the Bocage.
Running with the Fairies: Towards a Transpersonal Anthropology of Religion by Dennis Gaffin is a compassionate and fun ethnography on the fairy faith in Northern Ireland.
Until next time, witches,
XO
CH

Ghosts, blood, bodies: Irish feminist literary icon Sinéad Gleeson joins me on AEWCH 72!

4 Jun

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Friends,

Very excited to delve into questions of the body – political, spiritual, philosophical, paranormal, and more – with literary icon Sinéad Gleeson. Sinéad is an author, editor, broadcaster, and Irish literary stalwart; her book of interconnected essays, Constellations is a bestseller here in Ireland, and about to make its way to America. It’s a captivating book about blood, feminism, injury, ghosts, and health; all orbiting around the question: What does it mean to be a human who is, at least in part, a human body?

Sinéad and I talk

• creating our own anatomy books

• standing up to the Catholic church

• the law of correspondences

• the importance of constellations in the sky and in our bodies

• how medicine is patriarchal

• my ghost experiences and Sinéad’s ghost experiences (and how we self-stigmatize them!)

• how ghosts are like good health

• health for athletes and porn performers

• the exploitation of pain and trauma as currency in the attention economy

• how being in touch with our bodies helps us be compassionate towards others

SHOW NOTES 

XO
CH

SO

CONSENT IS NOT ENOUGH: I talk with feminist icon, Laurie Penny on AEWCH 64!

27 Mar
We need to do better in our conversations about consent. And I don’t just mean because we don’t know how to respect consent, I mean because our conversation about it is hopelessly simplistic, ahistorical, and underdeveloped. I’ll be exploring this topic in more depth on the show.
And, well, who better to speak with first than feminist author and icon (yes, the word is apt), Laurie Penny! Laurie is the author of multiple books and countless (okay, maybe not countless, but a lot) of essays. Many of those essays can be found in Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults , and many of her ideas are presented at length in Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies, and Revolution. She’s also just finished writing a book on consent and season one of the Joss Whedon HBO series, The Nevers. For more Laurie, support her Patreon and get tons of cool stuff.
Laurie and I discuss:
  • the basics of consent and why it’s dual work
  • what sex work can tell us about consent
  • how desire plays itself out in politics
  • the James Deen sexual assaults
  • how women have to deal with the fall out of sexual assaults
  • what happens when your friend (or partner!) is a sexual assaulter
  • why almost every instance of abuse is also a gaslighting
  • whether or not Freud ignored abuse or went a long way to support survivors
  • why we need to support survivors speaking up and also be thoughtful about their sexual politics at the same time
  • the difference between consent as “rules” and an ethics of consent
  • Emma Goldman
  • How millennials are naming the problem.
  • The supernatural premise and politics of Laurie’s show with Joss Whedon, The Nevers.
Here are the SHOW NOTES for the episode.
Sorry for the disparity in volume between Laurie and I; she’s just a little quieter than me, and the equipment I have does best when both people speak at the same volume level. That said, I want to get new mics, and your contribution will go directly to that.
LIKE THIS EPISODE OF AEWCH? Check out AEWCH 50 with MONA ELTAHAWY and AEWCH 24 with ERIN GLORIA RYAN.

CHLP

There is no forgotten man. I talk with leftist feminist icon Erin Gloria Ryan!

21 Mar
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Hello friends! For this episode of AEWCH, I welcome writer, editor, feminist icon Erin Gloria Ryan. Also, she is one of the funniest people in the world. We talk about #MeToo, tweeting, how to navigate creating and engaging with “problematic” art, and how not to listen to people. Also, I tell you my crazy person story about Scott Caan and Erin tells hers about Bob Odenkirk.

The show notes are available for patrons and you can find them here.
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