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Article Specs

Article ID: 13112

VoxAcct: 339594

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 1,747

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Protecting Our Own

Author: Christina K.
Posted: July 5th. 2009
Times Viewed: 2,376

Although I feel it an important aspect of my Faith that there isn’t a “Head Honcho” or “Council” or something or someone else to dictate how we practice and what we believe, or to “speak” for us or try to represent us in a way we would not want, it certainly has its setbacks. The scariest setback to me is that there are few affective ways to protect ourselves, the Pagan community at large, the general population, and especially new practitioners and seekers from harmful individuals.

I think that we do our best. We try to educate people on the “warning signs” of a potentially harmful individual, educate people what our faith is all about so they will know when something may be wrong within a group or Coven, and so on and so forth. However, these people who would harm others still exist, and despite our best efforts, there are individuals who will be victimized by them.

These harmful individuals also affect us indirectly as a community at large… happy, healthy, and normal, law abiding Pagans… the vast majority of us… seldom make the news. And in a religion such as ours, that is often misunderstood and not always tolerated, the exploits of these individuals can put another smear on our name and scar our reputation forever.

These people often cite “Religious Persecution” when they are found out, which can have severe consequences as far as not being taken seriously when true discrimination happens, and give the false impression to the general public that this harmful behavior is acceptable in our faith. Should we remain silent when these things arise, others can perceive it as passive acceptance.

It is easy to sit back and say “such is life”, “It happens”, “there is nothing we can do about it”, “it’s none of our business”, “I don’t want to get in the middle of it”, etc. But that is a dangerous attitude to have.

When someone would use our Faith to hurt, manipulate, harass, and control others, and to use the name of our Religion to be hurtful and harmful… it is our business. We all may have our many diverse beliefs and ways of doing things, but most of us do hold to one common belief… to harm none. These people are doing grave harm to others and to our religion. And then there is the harm that we create, as sometimes, doing nothing is the thing that causes the most harm.

My passion on this topic has grown over the past year or so, and has recently been sparked again to an even higher level. And although previously the fear for my personal safety has kept me from speaking to such a wide audience such as this, I feel now that there is no other way to get my point across and maybe stop the madness.

When I first met this group of people, I did not know of their history or background, but I saw more than one warning sign. The type you see on any Pagan website that gives advice on teachers to avoid, who to be aware of, and signs of a Cult Leader:

They didn’t seem to get along with anyone within the community.

The group seemed like it was trying to discredit everyone, including quite notable Elders of The Craft.

It seemed the members the group picked for their Coven all ‘have issues’ and that they used these 'issues' to manipulate and inflame members in order to gain their loyalty.

The leaders seemed to constantly need to “remind” people of their credentials. They constantly had to precede everything with “I am a Third Degree”, “I am a High Priest/ess.

Then, there was the name-dropping. They seemed to have over 10 or 15 “friends” of notability. They went on with detailed stories about their relationship. They had pictures of them on their refrigerator. Upon research, most of these ‘relationships’ were found to be questionable.

It seemed as if they were always trying to have “standing”. It seemed as if they did whatever they could to put themselves “out there” so to speak. They surrounded themselves with people who seemed to not know any better in order to be put on a pedestal.

They had a great disdain for other religions. I know that a lot of people have problems with some other faiths -- especially if they were once hurt by them -- but it seemed their rants were constant. It was beyond the normal snide remarks. It was as if they were trying to get people to believe that these other faiths were actively against us. And it got worse.

Much, much worse.

So much so that I e-mailed people with strong ties to the Pagan community and who are active Priestesses, and got no response. I contacted both the FBI and Homeland security, with no response. I tried to start communication with their group members I had met so I could discuss my concerns… no response. I tried to do the right thing, but made no progress whatsoever.

But regardless of what I try to do, I am only one person, and this problem is only my personal example of a destructive pattern that affects all of us. What both angers me and scares me the most is that even as these things are brought to light, this group still teaches classes, gives talks to the public and is planning groups and events. All in the name of our faith.

How can this happen, I ask myself? How can this group -- with so many allegations against them from so many people, from all different backgrounds and contexts, and who didn’t at times even know each other -- still use the name of our Religion this way?

I am reminded of conversations I have had with my fellow Pagans about the scandal in the Catholic Church. Some priests were able to molest children with ‘official’ knowledge but without any consequence. There is much anger in these conversations. We are disgusted by what happened to these innocents, and the failure of the Church in doing nothing about it, and hushing it up.

But I have to ask… if we allow this equally abusive type of behavior in our own community… are we any better? Are we not hypocrites? How can we live with ourselves?

When do we stop acting like this isn’t our business, not our responsibility? When do we decide when enough is enough? When do stop looking the other way? When do we stop getting angry, only to do nothing about it?

And when do we decide that the pattern of behavior and allegations are enough to pass by the “he said/she said/they said” and such excuses that keep us from doing anything about it? When do we decide enough is enough with a person… when someone is killed? Murdered? Disfigured?

When?

In my opinion, as a community, if we want to enjoy the freedom of practicing our Religion, we most also accept and uphold the responsibilities that go with it. I believe that we most protect ourselves, and the public at large, from these harmful individuals. I think we must stop looking the other way and assert ourselves. And most importantly, I think we need to do it together.

We need to put personal and faith based differences aside, and take a stand. We need to work together, as a community. When two or more are gathered… there will be politics, the saying goes. But these are much more important issues to spend our time discussing than the usual petty arguments and differences of opinions.

There is strength in numbers… and it is only by the mass numbers of the majority of us who are good and kind and ethical, that we can stop this.

We need to stick together in order to keep our Religion, our Faith, our Places of Worship and our new students and seekers, safe from harm. We need to take a public stand and show the world that this behavior is in no way acceptable… not in our Religion, not by our Gods. We need to fight the good fight.

We need to protect our own from those who would try to hurt us from within.





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