Tag Archives: Dominionists

On Marriage

I have two almost inflexible rules about my Facebook persona: I remain in the broomcloset and I do not discuss politics. (It’s true; my Facebook life is limited to less than 60 friends/family members. I’m such a failure. I like it that way.) (I’ve been saying for years that Facebook has real dangers for anyone who may ever be in the market for a new job, a new client, a refinanced mortgage, etc. I am not at all surprised by the news that employers are demanding the ability to review the Facebook pages of potential hires.) Yet, I broke my second rule the other day to get involved with the (Catholic priest (of course)) friend of a friend who wanted to shit on the notion of gay marriage without really coming out and, you know, shitting. Because he’s so nice, and all.

Here’s the longer post that I stopped myself from writing on Facebook:

Look, I do not care how many times you repeat your manufactured mantra (and that’s all that it is) that “Marriage is between one man and one woman.” Your mantra is bullshit. That’s right: Your mantra is bullshit. Om mani padme hum is fine. The Goddess is alive and magic is afoot is fine. All kinds of mantras are fine, but your mantra is bullshit. It’s bullshit because it’s recently-created, and because it’s not true, and because it is designed to mislead people.

Civil marriage (marriage that carries the force of the government’s ability to provide benefits and enforce contracts; and that’s what we’re talking about in America today) is whatever the State defines it to be. I’m a lawyer with a lawyer’s respect for and understanding of contracts and of the law. And, in America, the First Amendment prohibits the state from “establishing” (i.e., favoring, or promoting, or establishing as law) the tenants of any religion. (If I ran the zoo, all that the state would provide to any couple or group of people would be a civil union, a particular set of contract rights. That’s where the state protects your right to things such as hospital visitation, inheritance, custody, insurance coverage, etc. Beyond that, if you want a marriage, or handfasting, or whatever, you could go try and get it from your religion. It wouldn’t confer any more civil/contractual rights than a civil union. But it might confer blessings or religious status. And if Religion X doesn’t want to confer upon you the sacrament of marriage or if Religion Y won’t bless your handfasting, well, too bad, that’s Freedom of Religion. Perhaps you’re in the wrong one.)

I would like to put to rest for all time the completely false notion that “biblical marriage” (which should not impact civil marriage, see above, but, still) or even “traditional marriage” is “between one man and one woman.” In “biblical times,” marriage was often between one man, as many wives as he could afford, a bunch of concubines, and various assorted handmaids (see, e.g., Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael). (I was raised Catholic. I won the religion award every year in Catholic elementary school. Unlike (apparently) many of today’s Christians, I’ve actually read the bible. Several times. Catholics weren’t known for reading the bible, but I had the advantage of growing up during the Vatican II Interregnum. The bible makes clear that “biblical” marriage was quite different from what most Christians are pleased today to call “marriage.”)

Both before and after after “biblical” times, the Christian church and other organizations/religions/states recognized gay marriages.

We’ve made many changes to the institution of marriage since “biblical times,” and the notion that we can’t make another one to accommodate civil rights for gay men and lesbian women is complete and utter bollox.

For example, marriages used to be arranged. The young people involved often had zero say as to whom they were to be married. See, e.g: Romeo and Juliet, where Juliet’s father threatens to beat her senseless if she will not marry the man that he has chosen for her. That was his right, back then, back, you know, in the days of “traditional marriage.” Today, people arrange their own marriages based, generally, upon love. Today, people tend to marry in their twenties or thirties, not, as in Romeo and Juliet’s time, as teenagers. Today, a father beating up his daughter for refusing to marry the man of his choice could be reported to the authorities and put in jail.

Fathers used to give their daughters to any man who could tender enough livestock or provide enough service to earn that particular piece of property known as a daughter. See, e.g., Jacob working for seven years, being given “weak-eyed” Leah to marry, even though Jacob wanted Rachel, and Jacob then working another seven more years to get Rachel for his second wife. There’s “traditional,” and “biblical” marriage for you: two wives bought by 14 years of labor. In modern America, it’s almost unheard of for a father to give his daughter to someone in exchange for livestock or any other commodity. Or for a man to marry two sisters. Oddly, marriage, as an institution, has evolved since “biblical” times. A lot.

Married women traditionally had to assume their husbands’ names, were not allowed to own property, were not allowed to sue in their own names (one of the first tort cases that I ever read in law school was for injuries to a woman, but the case was styled, for example, Robert Robertson v. John Johnson. When I asked why it was captioned that way, my torts prof explained that, “back then” (it was well into the 20th Century) married women couldn’t sue in their own name. Now, they can.), and could not obtain custody of their children in a divorce. Now, they can.

At one time in America, interracial couples could not marry. Today, they can. I live in Virginia, home of Loving v. Virginia. I am the great-aunt of an interracial nephew and am knitting furiously for the coming day when (this summer!) I will be the great aunt of an interracial niece. The parents of my great nephew and my (coming! can you tell that I’m excited?!?) great niece are happily, legally, civilly married. As they could not have been, even a generation ago.

We’ve made changes to civil marriage as the arc of the moral universe has continued to bend towards justice.

Anyone want to debate with me about the legitimacy of the great-nephew for whom I knit sweaters or the (pending) great niece for whom I’m knitting a newborn cap and newborn mittens?

I didn’t think so.

“A family” is no longer defined as “mother, father, and 2.5 children.” I was (I know: horrors!) a single, teen-age mom. Son and I were “a family.” We did all of the things that “a family” is supposed to do for society. We lived together and celebrated major holidays. Son got fed, nurtured, educated, acculturated. Even without the presence of “a father,” Son played sports, went to Princeton, got a law degree, married a wonderful woman, bought a home, had his own child, etc., etc. Tomorrow, on Mother’s Day, I’ll be going to brunch with my non-biblical family. The absence of a biblical/traditional patriarch doesn’t seem to have cost us too much.

So “biblical” or “traditional” marriage wasn’t “between one man and one woman,” and was vastly different from what even the fundies are thinking of today when they say “marriage.” We’ve changed the institution of marriage many, many times over the course of history and, guess what? “The family” hasn’t dissolved. Society has survived. Options have increased. Life goes on. The sky hasn’t fallen. I’m still a Mother, a Mother-in-Law, a Nonna. Mother’s Day will go off tomorrow without a hitch.

I’m sorry if your notion of human love and human families is too constricted to encompass today’s real families. But I’m willing to honor your right to define, in your religion, what “marriage” means or what a “family” is. Maybe your religion wouldn’t have baptized or recognized my Son because he was born to a teen-age mom. Fine. Maybe your religion wants to go on pretending that we live in a world where men rule the family. Fine. Maybe your religion doesn’t want to recognize loving relationships between same-sex couples. Fine. I’m sorry for you, but fine. That’s what freedom of religion means. It means that you get to practice a religion that I think is just flat-out wrong. And it means that I get to practice one that offends your every sensibility.

It means that I get to practice a religion in which all acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess.

My religion is sex-positive. It doesn’t discriminate based upon who loves whom or upon how many people love each other. My religion honors mothers, both mothers of physical children and mothers of ideas, art, mathematical theories. My religion honors fathers — all men who act as fathers, who act as Greenmen, who act as Cernunnos, who act as Lugh, who act as Lord of the Hunt, who acts as Hephaestus. My religion honors men, such as Son, who nurture their own children every day of every week of every year.

You can go off and define religious families however you like. In my religion, as Byron Ballard recently said, we base what we do on hospitality and social justice. Those concepts infuse my notions of family, but they needn’t infuse yours.

Just stop trying to impose your notions of family upon me.

And, yeah, if you’d quit throwing up strawpersons on Facebook and dodging simple questions, that’d be nice, too. It’ll be months and months before I get drawn into another political war on Facebook.

I hope.

Picture found here.

Who’s in your family?

How will you spend Mother’s Day?

The Continued War on Sanity in Loudon County

You’ll never guess who’s missing:

Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) presented a drawing made by his teenage daughter of what the display could be, including children representing each faith and holiday—Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Kwanzaa, Aethism, and Sikhism—and holding a symbol of their beliefs, with a Christmas tree in the background. Reid said he was not offering it up as an actual option, but said it was more a representation of how each of the major religions could be represented in the display.

You know, I never ceased to be amazed at the lengths some people will go to in order to ignore simple solutions. What Loudon County needs to do is to keep holiday displays off of county property. Simple. If churches, private businesses, and individuals want to put up holiday displays on their own property, that’s fine. But there is NO REASON why county property has to be used to put up holiday displays. And, if there were some incredible reason to put up a holiday display (to promote holiday shopping or community good will or whatever), an led-lit snowman surrounded by giant candy canes and snowflakes would do just fine. You want your holiday display? There, you got one. (Of course the Dominionists will just complain that Jesus is the Reason for the Season and it’s terrible to leave Jesus out. Which leads me back to my first point.)

Stop for a minute and consider the amount of time of money being spent on this nonsense by a county that, like most counties in America, has had to cut back on basic services. And, regardless of what display someone’s teen-age daughter creates (/rolls eyes), the Dominionists won’t be happy and the First Amendment WILL get trampled on and the county will likely end up spending more time and money in court. Intelligent county officials could make this case and explain that, as a prudent use of tax dollars, there will be no holiday displays on county property. The Dominionists could bitch for a few years and, eventually, no one would even remember that the Christians used to get to take over county property to impose their religion on everyone else.

What is so difficult about that???????

/hat tip to my madcap friend, R.

Picture found here.

Tricky Stuff, Magic.

Tricky stuff, magic.

I have no idea how my cell phone works. But I can use it to talk to my family, take a picture of my garden, send an email to my secretary, find North with the compass, get directions to a new restaurant. Magic’s a bit like that. People who have no idea (or who have a partial, distorted idea) of how magic works, of magical ethics, of magic’s impact on the magic-worker can still do magic. You don’t really need to understand the principles of magic or have a well-developed sense of magical ethics to cast a glamour, work a spell for prosperity, or use herbs to improve your love life.

Last Summer, the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) declared a prayer war against Columbia, the Goddess for whom our capital city, the District of Columbia (DC), is named. They focused, in their videos, especially upon the statue of Columbia (known as Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace) that stands atop the United States Capital in Washington, D.C. They wanted Columbia cast down, wanted our capital to be renamed the “District of Christ,” and wanted to place “uncompromising” Dominionist leaders in every position of power in the United States, whether in government, in the arts, in entertainment, in business, etc.

Justice Brandeis famously remarked that “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” That’s certainly true when it comes to malefic magic. Once it’s exposed, it becomes far less effective. In July, Pagan bloggers began to expose and discuss NAR’s malefic magic. Sunlight. And that’s when things got interesting.

From the start, members of the Pagan community have noted that the NAR’s prayer war against religious freedom and the Goddess Columbia is simple malefic magic. Getting a large group of people to focus on an intent, raising energy via, in this case, prayer, watching videos with hugely-effective appeals to Younger Self, and focusing on casting down a physical symbol of all that you dislike: well, that’s magic. It may be poorly-focused and badly-sourced magic, but it is magic and it can certainly have an impact if left uncountered. And, of course, sending “blood-soaked arrows” at your opponents and declaring that your magic is already complete even before it takes effect (a sort of: “This is my will so mote it be.”) is malefic magic.

As I said, tricky stuff, magic. And malefic magic, in my experience, is trickier than most other forms of magic. Sometimes, it backfires.

One of the best, IMHO, results of the NAR campaign has been a focusing of attention upon American Goddesses and Gods. Websites and Facebook pages devoted to Columbia and other Americans Goddesses/Gods sprung up. Pagans began buying statues of Columbia for their altars. We debated the dark and light sides of American deities (of course, many Goddesses/Gods, from every landbase, have both light sides and dark sides; it’s hardly surprising that this is true for American Goddesses/Gods, as well).

NAR indicated that it would bring its prayer war to Washington, D.C. at Samhein. D.C. Pagans have for some years gathered at the Jefferson Memorial at Samhein for a drum circle. There was some concern that NAR might show up and disrupt that event.

Local Pagan, Caroline Kenner organized a Celebration of the Divine Feminine and Religious Freedom in Lafayette Park (across from the White House) on October 30th. She was careful to arrange security in case NAR chose to disrupt the event.

Normally when we hold a community event in downtown DC, we have few worries about security, especially since all the Federal sites are protected by at least two police forces. This time was a bit different. Our security team was headed up by a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Army’s Military Police along with a former Staff Sargent. And people relaxed entirely when Frank Stormcatcher arrived to help. Frank is large and protective, and he is a Marshal of the Caomhnoiri Fian.

In the end, NAR didn’t show up at either event. The unconfirmed rumor was that they were stuck in Philadelphia, without the funds to come to Columbia’s district. The drum circle was meaningful and peaceful and the Celebration was a great success.

NAR may have wanted to topple Columbia, bring down The Queen of Heaven, and place their chosen candidates in power. The result of their working, however, is that Columbia, Lady Liberty, Innana, and many, many other Goddesses were invoked and honored publicly in our nation’s capital. The result is that American Pagans are paying renewed attention to American Goddesses and Gods. The result is that songs are being composed to Libertas. The result is that the two presidential candidates most under NAR’s influence are now well behind in the polls. One of them, Rick Perry, who kicked off his campaign with an NAR-sponsored prayer service, just this week embarrassed himself so badly that one wonders if someone hasn’t put a spell on him.

Oh, and it’s still the “District of Columbia.”

Tricky stuff, magic. NAR should leave it to the professionals. 😉

Picture found here.

Stand Up for Religious Freedom & the Divine Feminine

This Sunday, October 30th, is predicted to be a lovely Autumn day in Columbia’s District. That’s good news because, beginning at noon, Pagans from all around the country will be gathering at Lafayette Park, directly across from the White House, to hold a Celebration of the Divine Feminine and Religious Freedom, as a protest to the New Apostolic Reformation’s 51-day prayer campaign targeting Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, Druids, Heathens, and other Goddess-worshipers nationwide.

If you can possibly be there, even for a short time, please do come.

Because Lafayette Park is so near to the White House, there are some safety restrictions. For example, weapons are not allowed and that includes even ritual knives, athames, staffs, etc. More information on these requirements, as well as information on metro stops, etc. can be found here.

The ritual and drumming promise to be outstanding.

Will you be there?

Picture found here.

This Time, It’s Personal

As my regular readers know, urban Pagan that I am, I’ve been exploring my relationship with the Goddess Columbia, the Goddess of my polis, landshed, Bit of Earth.

I want to talk today about a planned attack upon the Goddess Columbia.

John Benefiel, the head of the Heartland Apostolic Reformation Network and one of the official endorsers of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s The Response prayer rally, says that Washington D.C. is under a curse from God because the Founders named it in honor of the goddess Columbia. . . . [He] blames the country’s political problems on the District of Columbia’s supposedly [P]agan foundations.

In an August 2010 sermon, Benefiel claimed to have the “spiritual authority” to “divorce Baal” from Washington and said that he had renamed the District of Columbia the “District of Christ.” He explained: “I tell you I have more authority than the U.S. Congress does, see I guarantee you that that will not forever be called the District of Columbia, it will be changed by somebody, it will be changed by the Lord when He comes back or our Congress.”

More here.

That’s the Dominionist version of “So Mote It Be.”

In Benefiel’s cosmology, any female form of deity is evil. He mushes them all up into one entity that he calls “Queen of Heaven”, and so Columbia = Queen of Heaven = the Statue of Liberty = Baal (even though Baal comes from a Semetic word that means “lord” or “master” and Baal is generally thought of as male. In Benefiel’s world, demons = female).

More, here.

Here’s their “Divorce Decree”, divorcing America from Baal. Their “Plaintiff’s Decree” asserts:

.1. We no longer have any ties with Baal-hamon. We are Tithers and Givers and therefore we are rightful heirs to the Great Transfer of Wealth to the Church.
2. We no longer have any ties with Baal-berith. We are now free to choose to remarry Jehovah, the only true God, and be in an everlasting covenant and relationship with Him.
3. We reclaim our sexual innocence and purity. We walk in holiness and we reject every form of sexual perversion, homosexuality, and sexual immorality.
4. We are for the next generation. We are for the Unborn’s Right to Life. We will pray and support the next generation to see God’s covenantal purposes fulfilled in them.
5. We no longer have any ties with any form of witchcraft and occult spirits.

To make it all extra legal (pun intended), they’ve got a Writ of Assistance that seems to imply that they own Columbia’s District.

Their “Declaration of Light,” for example, avers that, “we declare illegal in the earth any action of any people, Nation or nations that undertake what is contradictory to the Word of God (Psalmn33:10,11). We render judgment upon all such [idiots always think that “such” sounds very “legal.” I know lawyers guilty of this.] laws or actions and set the power of Heaven to dismantle their effect. (Psalm 2, Psalm 47, Isaiah 40:17, 23).”

They have a Petition for Declaratory Order (honestly, as a lawyer, I’m flattered that they imagine that the Power that Moves the Universe cares so much about the legalistic formalities of modern Anglo/American jurisprudence. Of course, it’s really their followers whom they hope will be impressed). It asserts that:

We seek the Declaratory Judgment of this Court that[,] apart from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and His Spirit at work in the [E]arth, there has never been, nor can there ever be, liberty among men. We offer the evidence of history, from the beginning of time until this plea, that no people, no nation, has ever known the heart of peace, the extent of freedom, the rights of the many, and the prolonged prosperity of the majority, that this Nation has experienced as “One Nation Under God.” We offer the proof that no other spiritual undertaking, no other claim of deity, no other governmental scheme or philosophy has produced what this Nation has known and yet to this day prevails. [Apparently, in spite of having named our capital city for a Goddess.]

We offer the evidence that across the [E]arth for these hundreds of years, people have fled from every other system accepted or devised by men to find refuge here. We assert that unless this Court releases the Power to preserve this historic phenomenon, it shall be irreparably harmed and the favor of God which has heretofore granted it, is in immediate peril of being withdrawn at the instance of foolish alternatives designed by the Defendants. [Lots of undefined “its” there. Makes it confusing to read, but there it is.]

And you know, it would all just be sad, except that there are people in Congress and people running for President who associate with, and are indebted to, this guy. Goddess guard us from them, because, trust me, these people DO want to burn Witches and, once they’re in power, and need a scapegoat, they’ll do it. It’s happened before. It happened in Salem. It’s happening right now in parts of Africa and India. And it can happen here, too.

Now, they’ve declared “Spiritual Warfare” on the District of Columbia, geared to reach a crescendo during the Pagan high holy days of Samhein.

Phase two of this 11-11 Campaign will be a 40 day worship invasion in Washington DC, coordinated by James Nesbitt. The 40 days of worship is scheduled to begin around Rosh Hoshana and run through Election Day to November 11, 2011.

“Laying spiritual siege” and “spiritual warfare” are dogwhistle terms that have clear meanings for Dominionists; and those meanings run well beyond mere metaphor. In fact, spiritual siege and spiritual warfare are forms of malificent magic, often done by people who don’t really understand how magic works or what they’re doing. Both forms of magic can indeed be effective. These types of Dominionist magic rely upon raising energy and directing it towards the downfall of some object. In the case of Benefiel’s attack on the District of Columbia, the specific objectives are masked with nice talk about “changing the atmosphere” in DC, “bringing light,” “praying together as families,” and “standing together.” There’s a lot of warlike jargon: “shields locked,” “each state serving as ‘pointman,'” and “siege.” (And the appeal to Younger Self, to emotions, is done masterfully. Lots of Pagan ritualists could take lessons from these folks.) But when you put those together with Benefiel’s repeated attacks on Columbia and Lady Liberty, it’s pretty clear what this is about.

As a devotee of the Goddess Columbia and a Witch who lives and practices in the greater Washington, D.C. foodshed, I don’t intend to simply stand by and ignore this. I think there’s a tendency among many Pagans (and I include myself) to find this stuff pretty freaking distasteful, to view Dominionsits as nutjobs, and to not want to engage. And, of course, sometimes, giving energy back to these attacks just feeds them.

But I just have to ask: How’s that approach working out for us?

These people are a rather small percentage of the population, yet they have an influence out of all proportion to their numbers. (In other words, their magic works.) And they’re attacking the primary Goddesses of our Nation (Columbia, Lady Liberty, etc.) and doing it during our high holy season. (Imagine for a moment how provocative it would be for Pagans to plan a similar event of “magical warfare” against the Christian deities during, say, Easter or Christmas. We’d never hear the end of it. We could issue ersatz “divorce decrees” and “petitions for declaratory orders” asking Columbia to make clear that America has nothing to do with Christianity and isn’t a Christian nation. And the Dominionists would go ballistic and the press would give them coverage. Well, when we’re attacked, I think it merits a response.)

For me, to be a Witch means to be in relationship with The Land, the land of which it used to be said, “The King and the Land are One.” It means to be in constant relationship with my watershed, my foodshed, my landbase, with the plants and animals and human people who live with me. And I can’t do that without being in relationship with the deity/deities of this Place. And because the history’s been lost, I don’t know how to be in direct relationship with the deities of the First Peoples who originally lived here (which may have been most true to the landbase, itself). So, for me, here, in this not-yet-very-old city of Power, being a Witch means being in relationship with Columbia, a Goddess/archetype (at her best) of Freedom, a modern-day version of Libertas, a descendent, as she’s told me, of the Arthurian cave bear, power and protection of the land, the Goddess of the land, Sovereignty, the woman who gives the government its sacred sword and appoints the guardian of the Hallows of the Land. And I mean to defend Her.

So what does that mean: to defend her? Well, I propose (and thanks to Literata for the suggestion) to seriously ward my Bit of Earth, my own tiny temple to Columbia. I propose to, a number of times between now and November 11, 2011, circle the United States Capitol, sprinkling, inter alia, rosemary (that’s for remembrance) and warding the beautiful statue of Columbia that presides over, and directs energy into, the United States Capitol. I propose to write to my Senators and Congress person, on paper that I’ve charged and with ink that I’ve mixed with sacred herbs, and ask them to disavow this hateful group of Dominionists. I propose to ask my own Circle if we can do some protective magic. I propose, as Summer slips into Autumn and as the Veils Between the Worlds begin to thin, to call upon all of my ancestresses and ancestors, especially those who have worked to make America the Home of the Free, and ask them to block what the Dominionists are doing to this country and to my beloved City on a Hill. I’m an urban Pagan and I propose to do magic to sustain my urban area.

And because I don’t enjoy being merely reactive, I intend to do some magic to strengthen Columbia’s hold over her own city, to help everyone who lives here to see the benefits that she brings to her polis, to increase her influence over this landbase.

D.C. is a small city, in some ways, and it has a small, although growing, Pagan community. If there’s ever a time of year when we ought to be able to get together and work for a common, protective goal, it’s Samhein. What will you do?

Do you take these kinds of “spiritual” attacks seriously? What do you think is the best way to respond? How do you relate to the Goddesses/Gods of your own place? How would you defend them from attack?

Many thanks to Literata for alerting me to this story and contributing her insights to my own thoughts on the matter.


Update: Literata has a very good post up on this topic, as doesThe Wild Hunt.

Those of us who live in Columbia’s district are v grateful for all the help the Pagan community can give to us.