And, as a Witch who believes very deeply in being in relationship with my landbase (indeed, to me, that is the most fundamental basis and purpose of Witchcraft), I’ve worked for some years to develop a relationship with the Goddess Columbia. She may have been “merely” allegorical for some of our Founders, (not that the allegory wasn’t v. important to them; then-Secretary of War, later-traitor and leader of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, fought long and hard to make sure that Her statue atop the Capitol in Washington, D.C. didn’t wear the the phygrian cap that emblemized, in ancient Rome, freedom for slaves), but she’s “become,” over the last few hundred years, a real, living Goddess, an incarnation of the ancient Roman Goddess Libertas, and the genius loci of not only Washington, D.C., Columbia, South Carolina, and other places, but, also, of the United States. Those of us who worship Her would never force others to accept her, but, to us, She is the Goddess of the idea of America. Her statue on the United States Capitol is named, “Freedom, Triumphant in War and Peace.” That’s an amazing notion: the idea that, in America, Freedom will be triumphant whether we are at war or at peace. We may (“Patriot Act,” I’m looking at you) have honored that incarnation of Columbia more in the breach than the observance, but it’s still an epithet by which I worship Her.
Last July, Literata alerted me to the fact that a group of Christian Dominionists were planning a spiritual attack upon Columbia. The New Apostolic Reformation is a group that has long hated every representation of the Divine Feminine, including the Statue of Liberty, the Catholic Madonna, and Columbia. Their “prayer war” is designed to place “uncompromising” Christian Dominionist leaders into positions of power in every aspect of American life: government, arts, education, industry, etc. And one of their specific goals is to topple the statue of Columbia from atop the Capitol and to have Washington, D.C. declared the “District of Christ.” They are now in the process of conducting a “prayer war” seriatum against every State of the Union. They began with Hawaii, the last state admitted to the Union (and, conveniently, the birthplace of the current President), and are moving across the country, planning (again, conveniently) to focus on Washington, D.C. over the Samhein weekend.
I blogged about this threat, Literata blogged about it, and Jason Pitzl-Waters at the Wild Hunt blogged about it. (I believe that words have power and I’m calling this threat what it is. It’s a threat. It’s an attack on the religious freedom of all who worship any Goddess. Those who worry about “negative” language are free to conduct their own workings. But I’m not going to pretend that an attack on my Goddess isn’t an attack. YMMV.) Several new blogs sprung up to help American Pagans focus on the need to protect our religious freedom and several other bloggers have added regular features focusing on the local Goddesses and Gods of each American state. (Apologies to anyone I’ve missed; please leave links in comments and I will try to add them.) NAR struck back, launching, in their words “blood soaked arrows” at all Pagan bloggers who dared to expose and/or oppose them. Several of us have noted clear examples of their attacks on our lands, our vehicles, our blogs.
In August, Caroline Kenner, a wonderful local Pagan, who was instrumental in the local demonstrations that led, along with other efforts, to get the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs to add the Pentacle to the list of acceptable religious symbols that may be engraved upon the tombstones of American service members buried at Arlington Cemetery, applied for a permit to conduct a religious ceremony and demonstration at Lafayette Park in support of religious freedom for America’s Pagans. She applied for a permit for Sunday, October 30th, just when NAR will be focusing it’s “prayer war” on Washington, D.C. Lafayette Park is the park in Columbia’s District directly across from the White House.
Sadly, due in part to budget cuts, the granting of the permit was delayed several times. And the National Park Service has a rule that prevents anyone who seeks a permit from publicizing their event before the permit it granted. (I can grok this. Imagine that the permit is ultimately denied because the NPS decides that the demonstration would pose a threat to the President and his family. If the event had already been publicized, members of the group might show up, regardless, and pose the very threat that was meant to be avoided. I’m not unconscious of the fact that the Secret Service (who also weighs in on these permits) has been on high alert ever since America’s first “black” President and his wife, two little girls, and mother-in-law moved into the White House.)
That’s posed a big problem for those of us supporting this event.
First, the weekend of October 30th is already hugely busy for most Pagans. (A point, that, I imagine, wasn’t wasted upon NAR.) As we searched for priestesses and priests to come to this event, we were met, not surprisingly, over and over, with people who said, “I really support this event, but I’ve been committed for months to show up for a local Samhein event.” Local priestess Katrina Messenger had to, kindly, reschedule her groups‘s Samhein event in order to work with us, and we’re fortunate that she could do so. And, this delay has meant that we couldn’t publicize the event until now.
So, now, Caroline (and Literata) have finally gotten the permit. The ritual and demonstration are ON. October 30th, from noon until 5:00 pm. If you live anywhere near D.C. and can possibly come, please, please do so. Lafayette Park is an incredibly powerful site and the ritual promises to be fantastic. If you care at all about religious freedom and the importance of the separation of church and state, you should be here. Yes, I know it’s a busy weekend. Yes, I know it’s difficult. But, honestly, this does matter. NAR will have its forces in Columbia’s District this weekend. We should, too. If you can’t stay for the entire time, that’s fine. Show up for the period when you can Be Here Now.