Pagan and the Pit(bulls)

The political musings of a Pagan and her dogs.


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A Gaslit Nation

I’m lucky to have been asleep during Trump’s primetime speech. Thank Goddess for different time zones. This let’s me give a lukewarm take on his bullshit.

Now, at this point, we’re all fully aware Donald Trump is a liar. So much of a liar that the usual drinking game of “Drink when the politician lies” becomes less of a wonky alcoholic indulgence and more of a suicidal cry for help. If you want to jump down the hole of endless Pinocchios, pick your flavor of fact checker: Yahoo, USA Today, Time, or just Google it and wade through the bullshit. Be sure to bring your wellies.

Look, I grew up on the Mexican border. When I went to Texas, I could see Juarez on the passenger side of the road. When I wanted to drive anywhere outside the border zone there was a checkpoint. We had names for each of the northern, eastern, and western checkpoints. The northern checkpoint we used the most often was mockingly named Checkpoint Charlie. WARNING YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE AMERICAN SECTOR. I’m also the type of woman Donald Trump is imagining (white, young, thin, fairly pretty) when he talks about protecting women from illegal immigrants.

I’m going to be honest. I was never afraid of illegal immigrants. Ever.

I was afraid of the checkpoints and ICE though. There were several times at the checkpoints when I would see Latinx people standing by their cars while they were inspected while I passed by unharassed. There is a mountain that straddles the border, and the spiral path leads past the stations of the cross to a shrine at the top. While my grandmother knelt at station 6, where Veronica is moved to compassion, I watched ICE escort a family back to the Mexican side of the border. If the wall, or steel slats, are built it will cut that sacred site in half, leaving compassion on one side of the border. And it won’t be on the American side.

I’m inordinately pleased that Sehkmet aspect Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer aren’t giving into Trump. It’s not appropriate. No matter how hard he tries to pin this on Democrats, the wall and the shutdown are a crisis of his own making. A cornered animal is at its most dangerous. That speech was the beginning of an active and aggressive gaslighting campaign. Stand firm and don’t give in.


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The Next Satanic Panic?

In October and November, there was this slew of articles coming across my Google Alerts feed about how there were more Wiccans that Presbyterians in the United States and will someone please think of the children. Now, those types of articles aren’t uncommon at Samhain; and because of that, I was totally going to ignore it as the shoddy clickbaity journalism that’s so popular at that time of year. Except it kept going past Samhain. Except it got picked up by the Daily Stormer.  Except that as a scientist, a Pagan, and someone who spent a lot of Wednesdays in a Presbyterian after school program something wasn’t right. So I went digging around and found something that bothers me on a lot of levels.

This all started with a Quartz article in October saying there were more Wiccans in the United States than there were Presbyterians based on the Pew Religious Landscape Study. The Quartz article went on to say that 0.4% of the US population is Wiccan and that this is more than the numbers of Presbyterians, which they claimed has only 1.4 million members. They also included the phrases “actual witches” and “witch aesthetic” in their article, and almost every single subsequent article used those exact same phrase. Almost.Every.Single.One. That grated on my nerves plenty when I read the Christian Post, CNSNews, Newsweek, and the Daily Stormer. Since the publication numbers were racking up and showing up in deliberately violent and bigoted “news” sources, I decided to go back to the Pew Religious Landscape Study.

Before I get into it though, I want to make one thing very clear: numbers are a language of their own, and they actually mean things. You have to read them to understand them. You can’t just go cherry picking things to make a story. The number tell their story, and people should try and tell that rather than taking two halves of different stories to try and tell a sensationalized one.

The Religious Landscape study is based on phone interviews with people from 50 states and these individuals self-identify their religion.  I’m going to keep the Presbyterian/Wiccan comparison; even though we’ll see even that definition is a problem. There are three groups we’ll look at evangelical Presbyterians, mainline Presbyterians, and New Age Religions. The New Age Religions breaks down into 3 sub-categories: Pagan or Wiccan, Other, and Native American Religions. You best believe I have issues with this organization. First off, Native American Religions needs to be its own discrete category; it doesn’t belong in with the New Age Religions. Second (and I can hear the exasperated sigh from one of my covenmates already, I love you but I’m going to beat this horse again) Pagan and Wiccan needs to be separated into their own categories because they aren’t the same thing at all, and this become important because they don’t have the frameworks at all. Not all Pagans practice witchcraft, and most of them don’t follow the Threefold law. If they can sort evangelical from mainline Presbyterians, they could have sorted Pagan from Wiccan.

That aside, the findings the Pew study presents are that the US population is 0.4% New Age Religions, 0.8% Evangelical Presbyterian, and 1.4% mainline Presbyterian. According to the United States Census Bureau, the US population is around 329.2 million people. If we do the math, that makes 1.3 million people who self-identify with New Age religions, 2.6 million who self-identify as evangelical Presbyterian, and 3.9 million who self-identify as mainline Presbyterian. Rest easy Christians, even if some people lied about their faith to the Pew researchers, you sill outnumber us. Even based on the Trinity studies from the early 2000s and the Pagan census, our growth is enough to outpace you. Yet.

So where did the 1.4 million people in the articles come from? Well, that number comes from the Presbyterian Church (USA) Wikipedia page and it’s only the active members. That number doesn’t include attendees who aren’t baptized, who are baptized by not confirmed, or just plain inactive members. That number also doesn’t include any of the members from the other Presbyterian churches like the Presbyterian Church in America.

This all makes me baseline pissy because I found all the information for the past 3 paragraphs in the time it took me to boil 2 eggs and make ramen. The Quartz writers have no excuse. Especially as there are other Christian flavors that are legitimately fewer than the New Age Religions category, such as Evangelical Anglicans, the Church of the Nazarene, Disciples of Christ, or any of the Orthodox Churches in the United States. This worries me because this kind of journalistic sloppiness is dangerous in this era, particularly when it’s picked up by such bastions of “integrity” as the Daily Stormer and conservative news sites like CNSNews. The Daily Stormer article fetishized the killing of women and the idea of the Burning Times.

Right around the same time this barrel of shoddy math and “witch aesthetics” came rolling down my feed, another two articles came up as well. The first was from the Religion Freedom in the World 2018 Report, which concludes “Aggressive ultra-nationalism – be it by hard-line governments or violent extremist groups – means many minority faith groups feel like aliens in their own country. They are easy targets in a new era of ignorance and intolerance”. This includes the violence against Rohingya Muslims, Nigerian Christians, Pakistani Ahmadis, and Iranian Baha’is. If we learned anything from the 2016 election, it should be that America is not exceptional, and it can (and has and will again) happen here.

The second was an article by Peg Aloi at The Establishment. Aloi points out that we have the ingredients for another Satanic Panic: young women, especially women of color such as the Hoodwitch, expressing independence; an attraction to non-Christian theologies and goddess-based thealogies; an abundance of occult stories in popular media, social media, and fashion houses; and a right-wing government. Bake for 25 minutes in a strained America and choke on it.

The fact that the story about Presbyterians and Wiccans made it into the Daily Stormer and CNSNews is deeply concerning. It may have happened a century ago in Trump adjusted terms, but the Pizzagate conspiracy was propagated by the Daily Stormer, they had live updates on their homepage. The would-be bomber from Florida read the Daily Stormer in his Trump van. The Daily Stormer publishes stories that deliberately inflame white evangelical men to stochastic terrorism. We don’t know who exactly they will hurt, but they will become dangerous. Even the white evangelical men who aren’t terrorists will be inspired to act out towards everyone else, and we’ll all pay that consequence.

We know this administration and its supporters act against women who stand up to it. Dr. Blasey Ford still can’t go home. Witches have been casting curses on the Trump crime syndicate for 2 years, and placing curses on Brett “I like beer” Kavanaugh. I suspect those witches who came forward about their curses have seen threats.

Pagans, Wiccans, and other Magickal practitioners need to be careful right now. Take care of yourself. Take care of your community. Take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. Speak for those who can’t. Be ready for the storm that’s coming.


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Representative Omar, head coverings, and Religious Freedom

Representative-Elect Ilhan Omar of Minnesota wears a hijab. Some truely beatuiful ones too, based on her photos. But the House of Representatives has an outdated rule from the 1800’s about headwear–no one is allowed to wear it for any reason.

Now, based the History of House, the rule against headwear came out of some fairly contentious debate. There is an endearing story about why the hat ban was put in place: that in England members of Parliment wore hats to set themselves apart from the king and for the people, America had no king so no need for hats in the Houses of Congress. Cue panic.  Please let it be remembered that when push came to shove MEN were concerned about their fashionable clothes in the House. So vain. In the modern day, this applies to all headwear from scarves to yarmulkes to hijabs. You can see where this can start to get messy with freedom of religion.

Sehkmet aspect Representative Pelosi, has moved to change the rule to allow religious headwear as well as hats or scarves to cover hair loss (which when you think about how many members of Congress have or have had cancer, it becomes a matter of dignity). This rule change adds visible representation, and will inspire more people with diverse faiths to run for Congress; which is only a good thing.

Will the religious freedom loving Republicans be on board?

For some reason, I doubt it.

Rank Islamaphobia is a hallmark of Republicanism. While they write think pieces about how Muslims percieve religious freedom, they refuse to acknowledge their inexorable march to Gilead.

Covering your hair isn’t just for Muslim women who wear a hijab or a chador. Dedicants to Hestia wear veils. Orthodox Jewish women wear scarves. Hindu and Jain women wear a ghoonghat. Catholic nuns wear veils, and the Ammish and the Mennonites cover their heads as well.

Seeing a woman with her hair covered isn’t the end of the world, and may encourage other women who cover their hair to do the same.

Nor is wearing a head covering going to impinge on anyone’s freedom of religion, as much as the White Evangelical men may cry.

 

Even though Republicans love touting religious freedom, I doubt they’ll be on board.

Republicans LOVE to scream about how Sharia law is coming to America, with out taking into consideration how their own religious beliefs have a heavy influence on our law making process.


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Blue Wave! Congratulations!

Congratulations to all of the Democrats who won the election! You guys are amazing!

Thank you to all the volunteers who made those wins possible, thank you to the bakers of casseroles, the tech people, the canvassers, the callers, the post card writers, the organizers. You are the drops of water that make the Blue Wave possible!

To the Democrats with races too close to call, or go to run offs. Keep fighting! We stand with you! When you go to the mat again, we’ll be there right behind you.

To the Democrat women who demonstrated remarkable courage and dedication,  but lost. I see you. Senator Heitkamp your decision to stand with Dr. Blasey Ford was a moment of great political courage, and I (and others) appreciate it.

In particular from my state I want to congratulate new House Representatives Haaland and Small. Haaland is one of the first native women to be elected to Congress and I couldn’t be more proud that my district chose her to be our voice. I also want to congratulate Governor Elect Lujan Grisham. You were an excellent representative and you will be an amazing governor. Make us proud ladies!

 


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The Wandering Bible and Use of Resources

I had to take some time off from writing because the Kavanaugh news was getting to me and I took my Masters exam yesterday and I needed to prepare for that (I passed by the way!). So I’m back and trying to get back on my normal schedule.
Today is “Bring your Bible to School Day” to celebrate religious freedom. Christian groups on campus pray (although, in my experience as the president of a Pagan college group neither I nor any of the non-Christian religions were invited to join); and a cluster of men in cheap suits hand out New Testament/Psalms/Proverbs Bibles outside my building.  They forcefully press the Bibles into students hands, the students feel uncomfortable so they don’t put the bibles in the garbage or recycling bins next to the men. So they take them into the large lecture halls in my department and leave them there. Of course, no one else wants them. When I go to the lecture halls throughout the day they Bibles move from desk to desk, abandoned.

Normally I can ignore the Bibles. They irritate me a bit; I think the money spent on the money could go to feed the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, helping the sick, or helping the children being separated from their families. But who am I to tell a camel how to go through the eye of a needle?

But this time, I was really bothered. The men handing out Bibles were asking us to pray for Kavanaugh.

I can’t. I’m a survivor and I can’t light a candle for Kavanaugh. I can’t support him in any way. Especially when the FBI doesn’t even do their due diligence and interview Dr. Ford.

This is our daily reminder that we can’t ignore Kavanaugh, we can’t ignore the machinations of the Christofascists in America, and we can’t stop resisting.

This


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On performing trauma for sadists

About a year into my relationship with my ex-husband, he proudly told said that he didn’t believe that I was raped until he saw my night terrors on the anniversary of the trauma. He was so proud of his skepticism, that he didn’t unfairly judge a man he had never met. If he realized that he destroyed my trust in him, he never mentioned it. I doubt he ever did. I also doubt he realized how that compounded the trauma I was recovering from.

I was required to perform my trauma to his satisfaction before I was believed, and then once I had performed well I was to get over it. To not let it impact my life. To ignore the harm that came from repeating the event in detail over and over.

On a much grander scale, this is what Dr. Ford is going through. Many members of the public do not believe her, and she has had death threats and has had to spend the time she would use to prepare her testimony talking to the FBI about her safety. When she testifies, she will be asked invasive question after invasive question. She will construct the scene as accurately as she can for the salivating GOP.

That same GOP and their deplorable supporters will hoard her story and use it as the foundation for their rape fantasies. They will take her trauma and use it to get off. And after they will tell her to go home and continue her life like nothing happened.

Like her family and life weren’t threatened.

Like she wasn’t forced to re-open her wounds for their pleasure.

Like she wasn’t forced to bleed for them.

So I stand with her. Today, and every day, I stand with survivors and I believe them. I hold space with Dr. Ford and send Unconditional Love to give her strength from the Divine.


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Surviving Kavanaugh while a being survivor

When I was in 5th grade, at an evangelical elementary school, two boys in my class put their hands down my shirt while making sexual comments I didn’t fully understand. They were just kids; their life wasn’t negatively impacted. I transferred schools and lost my faith in the Christian god.

In middle school, I pushed a boy who tried to put his hands down my pants. I was scolded because he had a hearing aid, and probably never heard me say no, and why didn’t I say it louder? He was just a kid and his hearing aid was on, but his life wasn’t negatively impacted. I stopped trusting the school administration and adult authority.

In the summer between middle school and high school, two boys pulled a seatbelt across my throat on a church trip. My fingernails left marks on the material, a permanent sign that I was there. I felt the marks for a week, and when I lost my temper at the boys I was told to turn the other cheek and forgive them. They were just teens, their lives weren’t negatively impacted. I still check seat belts, refuse to let people sit behind me, and hate scarves that lie too close to my throat.

In high school, my first “boyfriend” groped me in front of the Wednesday night youth group that my mother still forced me to go to, despite my search for a Goddess with kintsugi skills. He was a just a teen, his life wasn’t negatively impacted. He went on to a music school and then a college scholarship.

The week before I moved into my college dorms, my ex-boyfriend raped me in my parents home. I still remember the color of the carpet with a shocking intensity and the exact number of times I said no, over and over again. He was just a teen, his life wasn’t negatively impacted. He went on to finish university, and from what I’ve heard since gotten a decent job. I went into a fugue state for two weeks, had depression and night terrors for years after. I sought treatment, but somedays that only goes so far.

My ex-husband had issues with boundaries, specifically the ones I and the women around him set. He used positions of power to pressure them. His life wasn’t negatively impacted during our marriage, nor after the divorce. I’ve gotten into debt going through the divorce, and my credit score has been trashed.

“He’s a child” “He’s a teen” “He’s a young man” “We all make mistakes”.

Their “mistakes” chased me away from Christianity to Paganism. Their “mistakes” mean I don’t sit in certain seats in cars. Their “mistakes” mean I don’t sleep well in the summer when the university I work at prepares for the new fall semester. Their “mistakes” mean I struggle with depression and anxiety some days. Their “mistakes” mean I wonder if I enabled him to hurt others, spiraling into grief and rage. Their “mistakes” mean I’m going to spend years getting out of debt and giving my credit score TLC.

Their “mistakes” impact every aspect of my life.

Kavanaughs “mistake” impacts every aspect of his victim’s lives, of which I have no doubt there are many.

Dr. Christine Ford is an incredibly brave woman. Senator Feinstein did her best to protect Dr. Ford as a victim and report the crime. Now, despite Senator Feinstein’s best efforts, Dr. Ford will go in front of a panel of GOP “statesmen” and be verbally abused.

I can’t do much, but I can take up space with her. I can write, and I can stand with her even as this reopens wounds and traumatizes survivors all over again.