Thursday, 6 January 2011

Curse the Tax Man

MOGOSOIA, Romania - Everyone curses the tax man, but Romanian witches angry about having to pay up for the first time are planning to use cat excrement and dead dogs to cast spells on the president and government. Also among Romania's newest taxpayers are fortune tellers - but they probably should have seen it coming. Superstitions are no laughing matter in Romania - the land of the medieval ruler who inspired the "Dracula" tale - and have been part of its culture for centuries...Romanian witches from the east and west will head to the southern plains and the Danube River on Thursday to threaten the government with spells and spirits because of the tax law, which came into effect Jan. 1. A dozen witches will hurl the poisonous mandrake plant into the Danube to put a hex on government officials "so evil will befall them," said a witch named Alisia. She identified herself with one name - customary among Romania's witches. "This law is foolish. What is there to tax, when we hardly earn anything?" she said by telephone Wednesday. "The lawmakers don't look at themselves, at how much they make, their tricks; they steal and they come to us asking us to put spells on their enemies." The new law is part of the government's drive to collect more revenue and crack down on tax evasion in a country that is in recession. In the past, the less mainstream professions of witch, astrologer and fortune teller were not listed in the Romanian labor code, as were those of embalmer, valet and driving instructor. Those who worked those jobs used their lack of registration to evade paying income tax. Under the new law, like any self-employed person, they will pay 16 percent income tax and make contributions to health and pension programs.Some argue the law will be hard to enforce, as the payments to witches and astrologers usually are made in cash and relatively small at 20 to 30 lei ($7-$10) per consultation. (1)

In Jersey, of course, witches and astrologers are licenced under the Regulations and Undertakings Law, and pay taxes like anyone else. But wouldn't it be wonderful if someone put a hex on the Treasury Minister for putting up GST, so that all his hair fell out? Maybe they once did?

Actually, modern neopaganism in Western culture, such as Wicca or modern Druidry, frowns upon curses.

Most Wiccans are against baneful magic - that is, to cause harm to another through magical means, or to interfere with another's free will.

One of the main arguments that Wiccans use is that in the so-called Wiccan Rede:

Mind the Threefold Law you should,
Three times bad and three times good.(4)

or stated as:

Ever Mind The Rule Of Three
Three Times Your Acts Return To Thee
This Lesson Well, Thou Must Learn
Thou Only Gets What Thee Dost Earn

This, also known as the "law of return" says that if you do an evil spell, it will return or rebound to you threefold, whereas a good act will also do so.

This is a far cry from Romania, or the older cunning folk traditions of Jersey and Guernsey, when curses could be given freely, in what amounted to what amounted to a kind of magical protection racket. An good example of this comes from Stephen Dewar's pamphlet on "The Evil Eye in Guernsey:

In 1914, Mrs Lake was charged by the Constable with fortune telling, interpreting dreams. Mrs Outen had asked for police protection after a spell had been cast on her by Mrs Lake condemning her to die unless she paid a specified sum (presumably a fee) to Mrs Lake. A police search by PC Lihou revealed buried six packers of powders composed of flour, brown starch, salt and baking powder.

It transpired that the previous October, Mrs Outen's cattle had died and gone to Mrs Lake who revealed (by divining tea leaves in a tea cup) that her cattle and her husband had died from witchcraft, and she was in fact under a spell. Powders were given to her to take as a counter-spell. Mrs Lake was charged not with witchcraft, but with "disorderly conduct". The Constable was amazed that anyone could believe such things in this day and age.

And yet credulity is on the increase. Just look at the sections for Tarot, fortune telling, Wiccan spells etc in local book sellers - from a small shelf tucked away in bookshops in the 1970s, it now takes up a massive amount of space within book shops. But while there have been political demonstrations against GST increases, I have yet to see any kind of action in Jersey like that taken by Romanian witches.

Perhaps 13 people should chant and move around the Royal Square when the States is sitting, because they certainly couldn't take less notice than they take of political demonstrations or petitions.

Here is a sinister incantation they could use, which I understand was used at a coven in Wiltshire, between May 22 to June 19 in 1971 by the presiding officer, a Vicar who had a prediliction for the dark arts, a certain Mr Magister:

Ymar dah a elttil bmal!
Sti eceelf saw etihw sa wons!
Dna ereh wyreve taht ymar tnew!
Eht bmal saw erus ot og!


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