It was back in the late eighties, early nineties; there was a council of Witches (Neo-Pagans) in Montreal. The Grove.
It ran along for a while, trying to build something of value but then egos started to inflate. There is only so much space at a table and the egos were taking up the room, pushing others aside. Ah but were it only that easy – you can deflate an ego, easily and relatively painlessly but there was more at work here. There was a lot of unfounded gossip and accusations. Gossip travels at light speed. It wasn’t long before the small community was abuzz with tales that seemed to take on a life of their own and grow, like a cancer. This cancer was being fed by destructive folk – folks made evil through, what I have to assume, was mental illness.
The Grove, for all the good intent and positive objectives, fell apart. The community fell apart and the wars were raging. Computer communication was in its infancy; some of us were on the BBS and the wars took on a new life thanks to this new frontier. It was a very distressing time for anyone new to the community, as was I. The in-fighting was very disturbing and reflected badly enough that it kept me away for quite a while.
Then the internet opened up and groups began to form, using Yahoo, for the most part. It seemed good. The wars were in remission but not for long. Some people just love an audience and it wasn’t long before skirmishes developed. It is so easy to throw stones from behind a keyboard; a lot of people were hurt by the volleys. Innocent people.
The community was decimated but it rose from the ashes. The poisonous personalities continued their cowardly assaults from behind their keyboards as those most severely injured nursed their wounds and assessed the damage they had sustained. Some never returned, some did. Neither group right or wrong – everyone has their own level of what they can tolerate.
Over the years, I’ve seen and, most ashamedly admit to participating in budding Witch Wars so I do know of what I speak. Take heed, this community is still small but it does seem to be growing. In that growth will come the same risk of history repeating itself.
What lesson can be learned?
Always take a moment to think before you post – do a draft – walk away and then come back to your words. See if they were written in anger and if they were, don’t send until you have had time to reflect. Use the same mentality that you would use for a spell (hopefully); never cast while in the grip of emotions. Never post if the same emotional state of mind exists. Words written cannot be taken back and possess more power than any spell you can create.