Today I closed an oral examination on magic in Shakespeare and the Reformation time by suggesting to the student that nothing is ever wrong with magic. Rather, something is always wrong with the ones who misuse magic. So it all lies in the intent. If your intent is all right, then your magic is all right. This is a simple truth, and whose deeper understanding I must credit a very wise woman for; a woman who has inspired me, and whom I had the privilege to learn from and work with, namely, the well-reputed Scandinavian shaman and teacher Annette Høst. I can recall these words from her latest article on seidr, a form of Nordic shamanism: “Whether an act is harmful or helpful is determined by the intent of the practitioner, not by the method (A Journal of Contemporary Shamanism, Vol. 6, Issue 1, Spring 2013, p. 12).
I often thank Annette for her wisdom, and also for her practice. She lives what she preaches, which is something that, I’m afraid to say, we see less and less of in terms of relational congruence. Without making any obscene generalizations, and based on my own experience, I can, however, say without any hesitation that I don’t see any symmetrical relation between what people claim and what they do. Not very often, anyhow.
These days I have been confronted with having to see how people in the card-reading business don’t show much courtesy for one another. Nor are they interested in crediting one another’s work. Some of the ones who claim teaching skills are in the race, either for ‘who is to be master’, or for ‘how many can buy my next book.’ Others just want to look at pretty cards. All fine with me, but I find that such ‘personal agendas’ are not really aligned with what I really believe cards can do for us, namely, help us with our perennial work on ourselves, getting to know who we are, how we can recognize the patch in the web of relations that we tread, and what we can do for others. We are all here to serve. But how do we do that? In the past month I’ve witnessed great writing being shut down because of stealing. People selling their products on all sorts of venues by using others’ art-work. People advertising for readings while using other people’s images for their ads. People claiming unique voices for something that has been ‘out there’ for ages. While thinking that I have better things to do with my time than policing thieves, I do think of the consequences of having great work out there in the global space disappear because people can’t keep their hands off others’ ideas. Some would claim that nothing has changed since our ‘jungle days’ – everyone for himself – and others would say that getting in the way of the ones with ‘agendas’ is a bad idea. I’m sure both parties are right. Therefore, I’ve decided to ask a very old Lenormand deck, and which I have the privilege of owning, a question that falls between righteous actions against thieves and ignoring thieves on account of their doing what one has always been doing: surviving in the world.
How do we handle intellectual theft?
Well, a big ‘thank you’ to the cards. They work with us if we care to pay attention in that way which is devoid of personal interests. Here’s is a nice line of 7 cards:
In response to my question, ‘how we do handle intellectual theft,’ these cards tell me the following:
End it by outing it.
As we can see, the Woman turns her back to the deceiver (Snake) – no cunning play here, or playing the cunning game (Snake+Child) – and with the power of her ultimate directness (Woman+Bear+Coffin), she denounces the small fish (Letter+Fish+Child).
Note that I didn’t read here any action pertaining to ‘and what happened afterwards’ situation, and thus see the last trio as a sign of having things reintegrate in some natural flow based on play after the denouncing moment. The reason for this has to do with my question: How do we handle intellectual theft? My question was not about how we can be merciful towards theft, perhaps by ignoring it and pretend it never happened.
If we also read the line of playing-cards, we can see how the playing-card insets suport this message. The Queen of Clubs gets the axe (AS). The fulfilled work (10C) brings benefits with it (9D). But this benefit is not what a crying (7S) materialist King of Diamonds expects. And the lying immature friends (JS) will not be helpful. It doesn’t look too good for the drama queens of the world.
So, to all out there who feel frustrated by the way the internet and the new media enables stealing, remember this: there is always someone out there who is able to call a bluff. Let us all pray for the ones who will get caught: ‘Lord have mercy on their souls’, for in the jungle, other laws rule.
Note on the deck: Lenormand Wahrsagekarten, Dondorf, 1887.