The “Hamlet Defense”

In my previously constrained magical life, which persisted for many years after we moved to rural New Hampshire in 1979 and our early attempts to start astrology and Qabala groups came to nothing, I never encountered scoffers and skeptics. Eventually, my only public exposure in the esoteric field was to the like-minded people at the local New Age shop where I read tarot. Although they occasionally grilled my wife, my ultra-religious in-laws – whom I used to call “Cathoholics” – knew better than to approach me on the subject of faith. This was not an intellectually or emotionally satisfying period, and I welcomed our recent move to a more populous part of the State, assuming my range of contacts can only grow.

But I’m sure the chance of bumping into hostile naysayers will also increase. I never frequent churches or other bastions of orthodoxy, since I see no point in “bearding the lion” (and to be honest, they never did anything for me either spiritually or mentally), but casual conversations will no doubt bring their share of opportunities to be put on the defensive. I have yet to be asked whether I’m a “person of faith,” but I’m itching to say “No, I’m a person of certainty” – in the realm of spirit but not in the authority of the priesthood and its presumed sanctity. What is passed off as holy humility has always struck me – at least at the global level – as a false front for a sinister mind-control plot that I want no part of. I won’t be put in that particular box. Religious fundamentalism seems to be symptomatic of a world-wide mental illness, and the clergy holds the keys to the asylum. As Roger Waters wrote in Brain Damage, “Got to keep the loonies on the path.”

Similarly, I haven’t run into anyone who seeks to challenge me on the subject of the Hermetic arts, although I’ve only been here two months and I’m sure that day is coming. When it happens, I think I’ll take the “high road,” smile enigmatically, and just use the “Hamlet defense:”

“There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

There is no percentage in debating with the unshakably devout, who are as convinced of the righteousness of their path  as I am of mine. Joe Walsh released a record in 1976 titled You Can’t Argue with a Sick Mind. While I think he was referring sarcastically to himself in the album title, the song “Walk Away” began with the following lines, which I find relevant here:

“Takin’ my time
Choosin’ my lines
Tryin’ to decide what to do”

Sounds like good advice to me. In the meantime, I’ll just make cautious forays into the local scene and see where it leads.

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