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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Fight or Flight: What Would a Pagan Do?
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Article ID: 15052
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Strega Viola [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: October 21st. 2012
Times Viewed: 2,630
“Fight or flight?” Walter Cannon coined the phrase to describe the reaction to threat by the central nervous system as a response that dominates the instinct of both humans and animals on this planet. In other words, we either run from threat, perceived harm, or abuse; or we stand up against it.
But does a spiritual person stand up to abuse in order to correct it, or do they “turn the other cheek?” I learned that the opinions and arguments concerning this question are extremely varied, and much more diverse- depending of course, on the incident referred to. Karma had dictated that one day, I would be faced with a fight or flight decision that would prove to be a life altering issue.
So I'll backtrack a little, and let the reader decide. I was born a Catholic, and I was always taught that the closest person on earth to God -was a Priest. And I sincerely believed that. I was proud of my faith, and had always felt secure that God was watching over me. I talked to him every night as a child in my prayers, and I enjoyed his company. Life was good. I went to Catholic school, and accepted the belief in God, and Mary, his Mother. And throw in some Saints and Angels, and life was even better.
Although my family was originally from Italy, and they had mixed some aspects of Stregheria (Italian Witchcraft) with Catholicism, I found it a little confusing; but I accepted it, and I was happy. But shortly after 8th grade, a Catholic Priest repeatedly abused me; and my life changed drastically. My faith became distorted, and I was unable to comprehend what had been done to me; as I could not mentally process how a Catholic Priest could violate me like that.
I am not going to go on a Catholic Bashing rant; most of my relatives, and many of my friends are still Catholic – and I accept that. That is the path they have chosen to keep; and I will respect that decision. But I had made the decision however, to explore other faiths as a teen; as a result of the abuse I had suffered. I turned a bad experience into a learning experience, and I was very surprised at what I was discovering at the time; that Paganism, Magick, and Witchcraft was my true calling.
Starting in the 1970's, I collected books on Witches, Paganism, Rituals, Occultism, Stregheria, the Craft, Astrology, Wicca, Ancient Witchcraft, Goddesses, Magick, Cabala, and on and on. I have collected thousands of books on any and all Pagan related subjects, and I still do.
I began practicing my own blend of eclectic Magick in the mid 1970's, and I wrote my own rituals, and also joined others Pagans in many events, Circles and Covens for the past 40 years. Although I suffered from the effects of child abuse- anxiety disorders and PTSD; my saving “medicine” was the practice of Magick and Witchcraft. It was also the fulfillment of my Spirituality.
I got married in 1979, and I have been married now for 32 years.
But in 2003, destiny threw me a curve, and placed me in a critical decision mode. The State of California lifted the statute of limitations on child abuse cases, for only that year; and I was put to a test. I found out that the Priest who had violated me was in ministry with kids, and that those potentially vulnerable children were with him regularly, as I was; and I was shocked. A lawyer told me that I had only one year to file a claim of child abuse, and that would be the one and only period in my life that I would have a chance to seek justice for what had happened to me; and stop the abuser priest from being around other vulnerable kids.
I contacted the Bishop of San Francisco, and asked him to remove the Priest who had abused me; and not allow the Priest to have access to innocent children. The Bishop refused. It was at that point that I was faced with the question: Fight or Flight? Should I just forget it, and leave the other children to fend for themselves, and allow the predator to have freedom to be around children? What would you do?
I thought about it, and I decided that Karma had kicked me, and I would be the Pagan that would fight. Perhaps many others would have fled, but there were still other children to think about.
I filed suit.
But ironies kept multiplying, as if they were designed to by an unseen force. The biggest irony was that the Bishop of San Francisco himself, Bishop Levada, placed the Priest who had molested me in a position as Associate Pastor at the largest Cathedral in the City. To magnify the irony, Bishop Levada was promoted to be the “Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith”, which is literally- the “Office of the Inquisition”. Cardinal Levada was made the present day ”Inquisitor General”. So I was to oppose the Inquisitor General, historically the office that was responsible for the “Hammer of the Witches”, and the Inquisition itself.
Now I ask: “What would you do in my place?”
Thousands of cases of clergy abuse cases were filed that year, and more than 99.9% of them were settled out of court. But mine was not. I was the only victim to proceed to a court jury trial in my county, - Contra Costa County. The church spent over 5 million dollars fighting the case, and it took nearly six years to litigate.
I practiced Magick to win the case, which may seem arguable, but I won. The church appealed three times, and I won all the appeals as well. The predator priest was removed from ministry and the school; and I think destiny and Karma had predetermined the outcome.
I hold no animosity for the Catholic faithful, nor for the clergy who have genuine concern for the unfortunate children who were violated. And I am in awe at the effects of Karma, and destiny, and the practice of Magick; but if I had to do it all over again -I would.
But the real irony came shortly after the trial; the lawyers told me that there has only been one recorded case of a “Witch” defeating the church in a court jury trial in history. And that is my case. Karma again? I recently wrote a book about my experiences, A Witch Wins Justice.
I wish Peace and Magick to all - of any belief system.
What would you do?
Location: Martinez, California
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