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                        Risk Assessment Within The Craft Community 
                                     By Weyland Smith

                  There seems to betwo schools of thought within the "Craft Com-
          munity"  concerning the dangers faced by Pagans in general and witches
          in particular.  One school thinks that we  are now in the  Age of Aqu-
          arius  and that all  danger has passed.  The other camp  seems to feel
          that we  are beset  with  dangers and  that our  only  safety lies  in
          remaining "the hidden  children of the Goddess", telling no one of our
          religious faith (including our  fellow practitioners), and being ready
          to fly or fight on a moment's notice. Who's right? Do we know? Have we
          even tried to find out?

                On theone hand, we live in a countrywith a Bill of Rights. Times
          have  certainly changed  since  witchcraft was  a  hanging offence  in
          Massachusetts. People have been known to proclaim their faith and live
          unmolested. On the other hand, there are about 3 million people in the
          United States who profess themselves to believe that the Bible  is the
          literal word  of God. If Leviticus says "Thou shalt not suffer a witch
          to live.",  then there should be  3 million people out  there ready to
          drag me out of my house and kill me.

                Fortunately, the answer  does not  lie with  either extreme  and
          therefore our reaction should  likewise avoid either extreme position.
          We live  in a world  beset by  dangers. We could  be in a  traffic ac-
          cident.  We could  have  our house  burglarized.  Our child  could  be
          abducted on the  way home from school. We could  be struck by lighten-
          ing. Do we stay  home, guard the house and family and avoid living? Of
          course not!

                What we DOis to act in sucha way as to recognize therisks we run
          and to minimize them. We try to live in reasonably safe neighborhoods.
          We keep  good locks on our  doors. We drive defensively  and wear seat
          belts.  We teach our children to run from threatening situations. This
          isn't paranoia, just good sense.

                  Is thereany danger that we as witches and pagans might be sub-
          jected to another  violent suppression? Any Jew with an  eye to recent
          history would tell  you that of course there is!  Is that danger great
          here  in this  country? Not  at  present, but  we do  live in  a world
          subject  to  rapid changes.  Within  my lifetime,  people  of Japanese
          extraction in this country  were summarily rounded up and  shipped off
          to  remote camps.  This action  was contested  all the  way up  to the
          Supreme Court to no avail.


             So what should we do?

                Well for a  start, recognize  that there is  SOME residual  risk
          whenever anyone  takes an  ethical position.  We must  understand that
          this risk is present whether we think it should be so or not. Further,
          we must each decide what level  of hazard we are personally willing to
          run and to  which we would  subject our families.  Finally, we  should
          avoid doing anything which might subject ourselves and those around us
          to  risks when such risks are avoidable. Especially, we should respect
          one another's right  to manage his own dangers. Just  because I choose
          to take a risk doesn't give me the right to endanger you!

                Should wereturn to living ourlives under perpetual cover?I  hope
          not. But I do respect the individual rights of my brothers and sisters
          of  the Art to  each make that  decision on  their own. It  is on this
          middle  ground  where I  suggest we  should all  try  to live  for the



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