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.”
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).
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.