The confusion of paganism – especially if not regulated by a highly formulated priestly cult – lay partly in that one was never really sure why anything happened, and so predicting what would happen seemed a fruitless pursuit. Some god might start something going in nature or human experience, only to have it overturned by the caprice of a jilted goddess, or modified by a maledictive curse from some neighbour. The best explanations for the inexplicable became arbitrary stories from magical thinking.
One of the under-appreciated benefits of monotheism was the realisation that, with one mind in ultimate control of all events, consistent principles were worth seeking out. Irregularities could be seen as special providences (“I don’t know why God did this, but he surely had a reason”) rather than evidence of a totally capricious universe (“Some unknown enemy must have bribed an evil spirit”). Have you ever noticed how infrequent metamorphoses are in the Bible, even in miracles, as opposed to their ubiquity in wondrous tales? This understanding, of course, became the basis of science, even when the underlying rationale of a single, faithful, God was forgotten.
That seems now to have gone by the board in this “post-truth” world. This morning’s nonsense example of magical thinking comes from that breeding ground of fairies and goblins, that is to say, COVID. My conversation partner told me, “My daughter’s had COVID three times, and the worst of it is it’s put back her vaccination schedule, so she can’t go to France as she wanted because she’s not been able to get her vaccine passport.”
Just consider how many illogicalities there are in that single sentence. If we assume that COVID tests give a totally reliable diagnostic result (that’s an irrational belief in itself, relying on propaganda that contradicts not only the inventor of the tests but the spiel on the packet), then COVID is a disease that can be caught multiple times in rapid succession without giving any immunity to speak of, yet which is self limiting to a few days of minor symptoms, despite the lack of any immune response. Presumably, the viruses just get bored with making you ill and wander off to have parties on your cloth mask. Though this test is so accurate it diagnoses COVID even if you’re not ill at all – maybe it’s detecting viruses themselves too sick to make you ill.
Yet for some reason, this infection, which totally bypasses the immune system, is reason enough to delay getting vaccinated with a drug which works by imitating a tiny part of the (non-existent) natural immune response to the virus. In contrast to the natural infection, which is fearfully deadly whether or not you get symptoms, these “vaccines” are both safe and effective, though not sufficiently so to prevent you getting exactly the same complaint again within a few weeks, thus delaying the vaccination schedule even more. In fact, you’re even more susceptible to the bug immediately after vaccination, which only goes to show how effective they are. They’re considered especially effective if they make you ill with, say, tinnitus or anaphylaxis or reactivation of EV virus infection – that’s a sign of “a strong immune response.”
However, if you’re fortunate enough to get every shot and booster required at this particular point in the narrative (although even the mainstream media has cottoned on to the fact that vaccinated people are at least as liable to catch COVID as the unvaccinated, or more so) you qualify to be issued with an official document proving that you are 100% safe to travel. You are so safe, in fact, that you also need to take an infallible COVID test before you go (and stay home if it’s positive, though your vaccination passport remains valid), wear a mask on your travels, wash your hands every time you see a soap dispenser and, of course, observe social distancing as you’re pinned into your aeroplane seat by a fat lady with an annoying cough. Or maybe just by a child under some arbitrary age excused the usual niceties.
As any good pagan will tell you, alternative explanations – such as the utter unreliability of the tests, the uselessness of “diagnostic” symptom lists, the frequency of minor anonymous viral infections, the ineffectiveness of the vaccines and the totalitarian scam of vaccine passports – are the superstitions of the atheists who do not honour the gods, and the spirits, and the goblins, and the sorcerers, with due piety. It is entirely due to them that the gods sent us the highest ever number of COVID cases this year, despite all our observances.
Still, the net result is that despite the charms, the safe-conduct talismans and all the other rituals, even true devotees can get COVID at any time, with or without contacts, with any set of symptoms symptoms, and with any degree of severity, or none. You are probably entertaining it unawares even as you read this. Better check your vaccine passport and mutter the incantation “safe and effective” under your breath.