Articles/Essays From Pagans
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The Gray of 'Tween
Becoming a Sacred Dancer
Little Dog, Big Love
December 9th. 2016 ...
A Child's First Yule
November 10th. 2016 ...
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities
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What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)
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Witchcraft from the Outside
September 11th. 2016 ...
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September 3rd. 2016 ...
Rethinking Heaven: What Happens When We Die?
What is Happening in My Psychic Reading?
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
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What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
An Open Mind and Heart
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
June 13th. 2016 ...
Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
How to Bond with the Elements through Magick
Magical Household Cleaning
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
The Fear of Witchcraft
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
Magic in Sentences
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
The Evolution of Thought Forms
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
Native American Spirituality Myopia
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Stand Up and Be Counted
Article ID: 11125
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,679
Times Read: 4,929
RSS Views: 84,065
Author: Theresa Chaze
Posted: December 24th. 2006
Times Viewed: 4,929
Some people believe that if we stay silent and burn enough candles the bigotry will magically go away. But the last time we ignored the religious intolerance, it was called the Burning Times. It is time to stand up and be counted. Whether you call yourself Wiccan or Pagan, Earth based religions are still under attack by religious bigots. By the year 2010, it is projected we will be the third largest religion in the country, yet there are still the same old misconceptions being spread about us and our rights are not being protected
Sgt. Patrick Stewart was killed in Afghanistan while serving his country. He was Wiccan. His widow, Roberta, has petitioned the Department of Veterans Affairs to approve the pentacle, so Patrick’s memorial marker could honor his memory properly. However, in spite of her requests, others’ petitions and public support, the VA has refused to approve the religious symbol. Yet the Stewart family has not been the only one making the request.
Over the past ten years, there have been others who have made the same appeal only to be ignored or denied. Relatives are not the only ones asking for the pentacle to be added to the list of approved symbols. Marine Lance Cpl. Eric Ballard has petitioned that if the worse happens he would like a pentacle engraved on his governmentally issued memorial. He is a soldier and a Wiccan. He is also only one of the many members of Wiccan and Pagan religions who serve the various branches of the military.
Although VA has approved thirty-eight other religious symbols, including Buddhist, Atheist, American Humanist Association and many Christian denominations, the department refused to recognize the Wiccan and Pagan symbol. Surveys taken on several networks, including NBC and Fox, show overwhelming support for the addition, as does the Nevada National Guard and Nevada Congressional representatives. Yet Sgt. Stewart memorial remains blank.
In an attempt to honor her husband and all other vets whose rights have been ignored, Roberta Stewart organized an All Faith Memorial in Fernley, Nevada on Memorial Day. In spite of the diverse approval in the media and public, the VA refuses to add the pentacle or to publicly commit on the issue.
In Anacoc, Louisiana, Scout Master Gene Doherty asked his troop what religion their family belonged to. It was not part of the National Boy Scoots code or necessary for the group’s activity, yet the question was still asked. Twelve-year-old Cody and his fifteen-year-old brother, Justin spoke their family truth; they are Wiccan. It wasn’t a secret; most of their friends already knew.
Yet Gene Doherty contacted the boys father Captain Todd Buchhein to notify the family the boys were no longer welcome to participate in the Boy Scout troop. Doherty implied that if the boys had lied, they could have stayed. However, both he and other parents were afraid the boys would try to convert the other children. Cody and Justin had been involved with the troop for nearly a year and had never attempted to convert the other members of the troop. They were just teenagers having fun with their friends, while enjoying the group activities.
The National Boy Scouts Council was approached over the controversy; however, their stance was that the local troops and sponsors had control over which boys could participate. Although the Holly Grove Council agreed with Doherty’s decision, the District Church Committee overturned it and the boys were readmitted. However, the decision splintered the troop and the family decided it would be best not to return. Instead, their mother, Aileen started a Spiral Troop, which welcomed diversity on all levels. It was well received and is rapidly growing.
Although witches are no longer hanged or burned, the attacks still exist; only they have become less obvious. Arlington Township is just one example how local laws are being used to discriminate.
In 2005, after the yearly Paganstock Festival, the township council proposed a special ordinance, which changed the rules that governed public gatherings. The proposed ordinance would govern large gatherings by requiring special permits for events with fifty or more people and which last fourteen hours. In addition to the permits, there would be minimum requirements on land ownership, road frontage and required the posting of a bond. The ordinance was directed at the Pagan community after a local farm drew approximately 150 people. Apparently, their celebration frightened the livestock on a neighboring farm. However, the township council under-estimated the determination of the Pagan community.
When the protests started, they changed the rules to gatherings over 150 people and lasting 30 hours. After the ACLU became involved, the topic was tabled for an indefinite period of time, but not closed. At a regular meeting of the board, AC Fisher-Aldag requested that a special committee be organized to resolve the issue. However, township board refused, denying the ordinance existed. Although the township denies the regulation would violate First Amendment rights, they refuse to permanently close the issue.
So what do we do? How do we speak out without causing more fear? Very carefully.
Mass marches, although very dramatic, cause more fear than understanding. Voting and becoming politically active are very important steps. By electing representatives who speak for all, instead of a select few, our rights will be respected. However, that option is limited to election years.
By writing letters the editor and politicians, stating in a clear, concise manor what we want, we can continue to inform and influence public policy. Matching anger with those who fear us will only strengthen the misconceptions and increase their anxiety. However by becoming active in our communities by sponsoring events, which reveal our true selves, we create understanding about what we are truly about.
Pagan Pride Day with family activities, simple rituals and classes show the public what we do in a safe, non-threatening matter. By sponsoring charity events such as auctions and Psychic Fairs, we also dispel the misconceptions. However, not all activities have to involve money.
Groups can adopt stretches of road to keep clean or volunteer to help the elderly. But these are only two examples; with a little creative thought a long list of ways to help and be involved could be created. Individuals can meet ignorance with understanding and tolerance by explaining their spiritual beliefs. This doesn’t mean be a doormat, but does mean refusing to give in to the fear and anger that fanatics promote.
If you buy into their blame game by getting angry, you give them power over you. However, if you keep in your center and to your truth, you will represent yourself as a logical, loving person, who will not be bullied.
This doesn’t mean that you will change a fanatic mind, but you will keep your honor and self-respect while showing that everything the fanatic said about is you false.
Location: Traverse City, Michigan
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