RAISING HER HEAD: GODDESS RESURGENCE AND PAGAN RESPONSIBILITY

Me in 1966: raised on barbecue

Me in 1966: raised on barbecue

For you men who still do not know I will give one further clue. Look into yourself – look into your heart. Do you see who it is who lies there, in a sleep near to death, a sleep that has lasted for centuries, a sleep from which you can awaken Her?
— Daniel Cohen, Iphegenia: A Retelling
This Revolution is genuine because it was born from the same womb that always gives birth to massive social upheavals – the womb of intolerable conditions and unendurable situations.
— Martin Luther King, Jr. Why We Can’t Wait

I preempt this entire post with a disclaimer:  Not all Christians are mindless, hate-mongering, uneducated bigots.  In fact, in my personal experience (not the media), I have found them to be kind, giving, open-minded (occasionally misguided) folks.  Many are my friends, and many are aware that I am a pagan witch; some even support my faith as “my way up the mountain.”  The trouble is, and will always be, that these kind souls are usually not the ones quoted in the media, or holding a sign on campus, or verbally forthright in our communities.  Their presence, holy in its own way, is thereby unrecorded or (worse) unnoticed in the outright religious brawl that is bubbling on the horizon.

We have seen it coming, haven’t we?  Oh, we might not post about it on Faceplant or talk about it in public forums, but we smell it just around yonder tree and have struggled to be encouraged by the increasingly prevalent Pagan resurgence on our planet.  On the one hand, I am grateful that I will witness at least a moment of where we are going; on the other, I am terrified for my son.

Jeanne Tao writes in “Pagan Presence May Not Be Loud, But Earth-Worship Experiences a Revival,” of the misconceptions of modern-day pagans:

Although most pagan traditions insist on respect for all living things and especially for the environment, many are still negatively stereotyped and wrongly imagined by some to be Satanists. Because of this stigma, they tend to keep a low profile, often practicing privately and preferring anonymity.

And y’all, this is some serious stigma.  Heather Greene sums up the very real threat to witches and pagans everywhere when responding to the now infamous “Witches Must Die By Fire” Facebook page:

Now that the pages are down, we can move beyond that surreal point back into the security of our own world. Unfortunately, the removal of these two Facebook pages created no comfort for those living in the affected regions of Africa or elsewhere. Should this week’s events be a wake-up call for Pagans and Witches worldwide to reconsider our relationship with the accused? Now that the “fire” is put out, should we re-evaluate our responsibility, as a People who claim the word Witch, to those people who are dying because of the word witch? 

This very real threat, however, did not disappear upon the removal of a Faceplant page.  On the heels of movies like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), as well as episodes on shows such as Bones, “The Witch in the Wardrobe” (2010) that either situate witches as evil and demonic (as in the former) or silly, murderous Wiccans who cannot control themselves and are subject to hallucinogens (as in the latter), we can no longer *assume* that we are safe.  Nor should we.  And this, Batchildren, is not all:  the resurgence of Pagan religions across the globe has caught the attention of Christian church leaders.

I know, I know.  How dangerous can they be?

Um . . .

Last night, I caught a headline in my newsfeed.  The article was entitled: “Epidemic of babies thrown into trash cans a revival of pagan custom of ‘exposure’: Catholic deacon,” written by Ben Johnson for LifeSiteNews.com.

At first, I thought: well, boy howdy.  Y’all are just slinging crosses at shadows again!  I found it . . . almost quaint.  And then, I read more:

The ongoing rash of babies being flushed down toilets, abandoned in dumpsters, or thrown into trash cans signals the return of an ancient pagan practice completely compatible with our abortion culture, according to a prominent Catholic deacon.

“This situation amounts to a modern resurgence of the ancient pagan practice once called exposure,” wrote Deacon Keith Fournier in a recent article. “Unwanted babies were left out on rocks to be eaten by birds of prey or taken by slave traders.”

Deacon Keith Fournier says the Culture of Death is alive and well [1]

That brutal cultural indifference came to an end with the rise of a new faith. “It was the Christians who saved [these babies] and transformed those cultures from cultures of death into cultures of life,” wrote Fournier.

Now, paganism is resurgent, and its anti-life ethic with it.

After taking a deep breath, I entered a comment (it was in moderation, it has apparently now been removed completely):

How dare you? I am a Pagan minister and “life,” including utero, is critical to our tenets and our sacred responsibility. Hate mongering like this, with inaccurate facts and leading assumptions, are born of fear at best and political manipulation at worst. Obviously, your desire to find an evil faction who are responsible overwhelms your desire to end the evil. Be careful, “Father.” It may be Pagans, whose primary concern is always that of life and its beauty and sacredness, that will save those children. Your time is waning. As are your lies. Perhaps you should examine your faction’s own abuse to children (are they allowed a safe place without bad touch?) before you heap unwarranted blame upon our heads? [2]

Of course, it may be the “bad touch” comment that got me ousted–ironic, if you consider the “Father’s” public and allowable accusation that we encourage a culture of death and murder–and I recognize that very few followers of this extremely right-wing, Catholic propaganda would hear me out, anyway.  So.  I turn to you, my Pagan kin as well as my Christian loved ones to say:

Of course, “they” will never change their minds.  Why should they?  Within their grasp, for several thousand years, there were golden and powerful political gains to be had, empires to be funded and the masses to be controlled.  Why, even their own people have been silenced and policed and disarmed–well past their own sacred belief systems of universal love, justice and charity.  If we wait for acceptance, we will suffer the same fate of our ancestors: ostracization, demonization and even physical threat.  While the Christian Right enjoys public celebration of their faith, we cower . . . hoping that if we are discovered, there will be mercy and tolerance.  Tolerance.  Towards a people and a faith who have worshipped for (at the very least) 30,000 years on the Earth.  Tolerance.  Towards a faith that reveres life in all of its stages, people in all of their colors and sexualities and religions, the planet in all of her natural manifestations.  Tolerance.  We wait for tolerance?

I want more for my child than tolerance.  And I live in the Bible Belt.

Show me? I don’t see the evil.

Show me? I don’t see the evil.

We know that we are not a “death culture,” nor are we evil. And an outright revolt? Why, that would produce the same negative fervor of those who would stake us.

The conservatives who say, ‘Let us not move so fast,’ and the extremists who say, ‘Let us go out and whip the world ,’ would tell you that they are as far apart as the poles. But there is a striking parallel: They accomplish nothing; for they do not reach the people who have a crying need to be free.
— Martin Luther King, Jr. Why We Can’t Wait

And, goddess knows, I’m not sure of the right thing–but here’s what I reckon:  If we keep talking to our Christian friends, let them know us and our sacred ways, resist the temptation to hate monger, push against ignorance and fight for clarity and do so with our heads held high and our foundation firm . . . maybe there’s hope.  But, as I stated in my last blog: we cannot idly stand by and be complicit about those who would echo (by their actions or their stance) the Christian Right’s condemnation of us as “bad” or “evil.”  We do not have that luxury.  There is too much at stake.  What we do and who we are is now part and parcel of a public conversation–and the world will take us at our word and our wyrd.  If I perpetuate the stigma and history of “bad” witchcraft, even if only for irony or publicity, I am responsible for the furthering of Deacon Fournier’s supposed evidence that we are a “culture of death,” a culture of evil curses and dark dogma.  Would I be within my rights?  Is this a free country?  Doesn’t anyone have a sense of humor?

Good grief.  Do we have time for that kind of self-serving propaganda in this day and age?  At what cost?

Yes, yes.  We are magic.  We know what we are capable of . . . and many of us cave to ego and desire from time to time.  I contend that this is a human trait, not a witch one.  However, as (appropriately, I suppose) unorganized as we may be:  there must be something we are all proud to bring to the table.  That dish, my friends, should be at every event:

Children are sacred.  Hands off.
Life is sacred.  Protect it.
Energy runs through us.  Be responsible.
Lying, manipulation, maliciousness are not tenets of Paganism.
Respect for all, regardless of (fill in the blank) IS a tenet of Paganism.
There is an “afterlife.”  Work towards it.
Stand up for that which is noble, decent and/or innocent.
Educate, educate, educate.  And not just your own kin.  Knowledge isn’t just power: it’s freedom.

Freedom.

Freedom.

We have a revolution on our hands, Batchildren.  What they record about us today will be the tapestry our children’s lives are woven into, thread by thread.  Are we “bad?”  No?

Then let’s not weave it into the quilt of memory, shall we?

My existence is sacred upon this Earth.  I am the echo of my Big Momma, a flawed, magical example of humanity at its worst, at its best, twisting and turning toward forever in an eternal dance.  I have never been, nor will I ever be, a bad witch: for the two are incompatible, incomprehensible within such an ethereal state.  Rather, I am wind and fire, earth and water, natural and holy, fleshly and otherworldly.  I am witch.  Period.  The  physical manifestation of my ancestors who fought for freedom, who stood by muggles even in their darkest hour, who held the hand of “sinners” so that they might redeem themselves.  I am a child of the dark and the light, a daughter of the Great Mother, and I will never, ever be forgotten nor remembered as bad. [3]

Our history is rising from the ashes, too, twisting, turning towards the moon, the sun.  In what light will it find us?

May we all see the end of Pagan persecution in our lifetimes, and if not, may we all have a hand in its demise.

Blessed Be,

Seba


1.  Seriously.  Does anyone else get the shivers looking at this photo?

2.  Upon publication of this blog, my comment is still MIA.

3.  Not all Pagans worship a goddess.  As my own religion finds Her primary, I have taken the liberty of addressing my deity here.  (We are very, very diverse!)

Seba O'KileyComment