This one’s a repost as the blog it was on is now defunct. Though I wrote it a few years ago, it seemed appropriate given the political climate and the many people rising as activists to fight against a bigoted regime.
There’s a quote from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi that has nagged at me for years. In my 20′s, it was an inspiring quote that brought a lot of energy to me when the chips were down and I was fighting the good fight.
After I did a lot of feminist leadership training, I reversed my opinion on the line: “Your hate has made you powerful.”
I was taught that setting the bone is a crucial part of being a priest/ess, a leader. That sometimes we have to hurt in order to heal. And I was also taught that truth often hurts. We couch so many things in white lies to salve someone’s feelings, to soothe it over, to make it hurt less. But those attempts to ease pain in the short term often cause longer term pain. In essence–sometimes the deepest form of compassion is to say the hard thing. It hurts in the short term, but it heals in the long term.
I reblog this with some recommendations and some caveats. This post is an excellent overview of many of the red flags of predators within the Pagan community. This is something I’ve written about and talked about at length and I think it’s important for more people to be aware of these dangerous traits.
Here’s one caveat: Many of these red flags are not, on their own, problematic. It’s the constellation of red flags that are the issue, just as with so many other things. The author brings up that sustained eye contact and charismatic behavior is a predatory behavior, and that’s not exactly true; not on its own. So remember–just because some Pagan you know does some of these doesn’t automatically mean they are a predator. Use discernment.
Crystal Blanton is one of my favorite Pagans. She has been a tireless activist voice within the Pagan community and beyond it. Her focus has been speaking up for those marginalized by society at large, primarily focusing on People of Color, but also focusing on issues around class, gender, and sexuality.
Recently there have been several high-profile cases of unarmed Black men being killed by police officers, and despite the fact that there was evidence that the Black men were not resisting, or evidence (including video in some cases) that the police were using excessive or inappropriate force, the police officers were not charged with murder.
What does this have to do with Pagans? The issue is that Paganism is a minority religion. We’re used to being persecuted, and many Pagans jump at the chance to defend other Pagans from being unfairly treated. The Pagan community has long been a refuge for other minorities, such as GLBTQ community members. Yet, in a recent Facebook post, Crystal spoke up about the silence of Pagan organizations on issues of race. And that silence is something that is worth speaking about.
Sometimes bloggers will ask me to write a bit about my thoughts on a particular issue…and, being longwinded, I usually have a hard time coming up with a a concise quote. Tim Titus asked a really pertinent question and I had a lot of answer, so here’s the full text of what I wrote in response.
The issue is activism, overwhelm, burnout, and magic.
Tim Titus asked me:
“There are so many pressing social, environmental, human rights, and justice issues across the world right now that it can be hard to keep up. Many witches and other magickal people want to help, but the problems seem so widespread and so intractable that it can be hard to know where to start. Sometimes that leads us to just give up. How do you choose issues to take action on? Knowing that we can’t always physically lend aid, What magickal acts can you suggest to help heal some of the world’s most difficult problems?”
I’m reblogging this very excellent post by Lydia MN Crabtree. It was written in March and it continues to be relevant as I see the Frosts are still out there teaching, and many Pagan groups and organizations still need better policies and processes regarding abuse, harassment, and other issues.
The Fish Rots from the Head Down: Squid Eye and Sexual Exploitation
“I have long run with elders who knew many “famous, big name pagans” and listened to the stories they have to tell of arguments around the exploitation of teenagers and “initiating” them into the sexual aspects of life as a “rite of passage.” Gerald Gardner has often been describe by many who knew or met him as being a “dirty old man” (to be clear a dirty old man when it came to adult women). Allegations of sexual misconduct have been made against most of the cornerstone names in paganism today. Gavin and Yvonne Frost literally wrote the book (now out of print) on sexual initiation that allegedly includes minors. When I personally asked them about this at a gathering, the response I got was, “Well, we are still around and still selling books.” The Frosts run with wild support of the general pagan public and teach through their church and school. If they have retracted or clarified their comments around sexual initiation of minors, I have yet to hear of it (if so, by all means, please let me know).”
Reblog of an article. Some potent thoughts around the stigma, and challenges, of dealing with a miscarriage and why most women feel they have to keep it a secret. I know that even within the Pagan community, which works to be more accepting of women’s bodies and cycles, it’s only in the past years I’ve seen women coming out about going through a miscarriage.
WHY WE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO KEEP PREGNANCY A SECRET FOR THE FIRST TRIMESTER
“But as I stumbled my way through the online world of miscarriage and infertility and pregnancy and loss, I discovered a virtual sea of women who were reaching out to someone, something, so as not to drown in their own feelings of isolation and guilt.”
“The realities of making a baby are thus: 10 to 20 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.”
“I slowly began to leak the news to close friends and extended family. I braced myself for…I don’t know what….Women in my family, friends and acquaintances all came forward with stories of their own. They had gone through it, many of them very alone, and they had come out the other side, changed but not undone.”
A lot of the activism that I do is what I would call “everyday activism.” It’s things that you can do in your own life to begin to live in the world you want to be in, change the world around you, by first changing yourself and becoming the person you want to be. Some of this kind of personal transformation work can be very difficult. It’s often just as challenging, if not more challenging, than front-line activism at a protest.
One area that has taken a lot of personal work on my part is around personal boundaries. I’m not necessarily talking about energetic shielding, though that’s tangentially related; I see a lot of Pagans talk about magical shielding practices, but few Pagans who are actually doing the personal growth work to develop healthy boundaries.
It simply boils down to this. Either you can let your civil rights be taken away inch by inch, or you can stand up. Standing up is hard. When an abuser “, grooms” us they take, inch by inch, our rights. We’d never put up with the end-game right off the bat. But trample a right here, bend a rule there, and eventually we’re living in George Orwell’s 1984.
It’s not to say that a lot of protestors and activists aren’t dumbasses. Some are, and if you’ve watched the streaming videos of the protests you’ve probably seen a few. Some have so much rage and anger and rebellion boiling up inside of them, they are so incensed at the encroachment on our rights, they get angry and they make stupid decisions. And it’s not to say that the protests are always well-organized. There’s not always an overarching strategy on what “winning” looks like, which can make it frustrating to engage. I have found myself frustrated with this.