Monthly Archives: October 2015

Alex Mar’s Witches of America is Not What it Seems

Rhyd Wildermuth wrote a scathing review of Alex Mar’s new book, Witches of America, apparently an exploitative bit of shallow tourist-journalism that could not have happened if Mar had not deceived her sources about her intent.

This is a pity. I liked American Mystic, Mar’s documentary film on the same general topic. I liked the thought that our weird little subculture might be on the verge of being better understood and tolerated by the mainstream, appreciated to some small extent for what we appreciate about ourselves.

This is really disheartening.

When I first started hearing about this, it was incredibly frustrating, because I was hearing about something vague but awful that had happened to people I know but who were never identified. Now I know, I understand why folks didn’t want to talk about it. This is betrayal and defamation, and it has and will continue to cause trouble within our community and between the community and the larger world.

Long story short: Documentarian enters several Pagan communities, possibly with sincerity at first, then writes a tell-all book filtering the lives of her subjects uncritically through her own, dismissive biases.

I’m not claiming we’re perfect–Gods know we have our share of malcontents and unsavory types in the modern Pagan community. That most readers of this book will have as their only idea of who we are from this writer, though, is unhappy-making.

I can’t blame the people who talked to Mar. While this is an example of why we have to be careful about who we talk to and who we let into our lives, it is also an example of the fact that nobody’s bullshit detector is perfect, or possibly that someone may enter in good faith and later turn on us.

To indulge in my Doctor Who fandom for a moment…

“But he had such an honest face!” -Romana
“The best liars often do.” -The Doctor

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Dionysios Devotional at Pantheacon 2016

So, the Pantheacon schedule is out now… And I’m on it!

My Dionysos Hestios devotional will be at 7:00 PM, Sunday night. If all goes well, I won’t be sick that weekend, and will be at Panthecon generally, not just wafting in for my own ritual on a cloud of cold medicine and devotional euphoria.

This will be an evolution of the devotional I led at last Pantheacon, likely with more drumming and dancing–the details aren’t final yet. More news as it happens.

If you’re going to be at Pantheacon 2016, I hope to see you there. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself, but be warned that I may be thoroughly godsmacked.


Remember Upon Whose Bones Your House is Built

I am mildly torn on the subject of Columbus Day. On the one hand, Columbus was an evil bastard who deserves to be burned in effigy every year, preferably as part of a charity drive collecting donations for Native American causes.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t be here if he’d never done his entirely objectionable thing and kicked off the rush to colonize the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries. Oh, Europeans would have gotten around to it eventually, but the historical context would have been different and therefore the social and historical conditions that made my life what it has been would have also been different, and I would not be here.

Perhaps the one who would have been, would have been a better human being than I. I don’t know, and my depression and anxiety like that thought way too much to pursue it further. But I digress…

Columbus was awful. But he was also pivotal. He was evil, but also helped shape the world which shaped me, and I rather like me, most of the time.

I like to say that we owe a debt to our ancestors, and pay it to our descendants. But we all have ancestors we don’t like, perhaps even hate, and would like to forget about. In more recent (than Columbus) history, I had ancestors who were southern slave holders and Confederate officers, for instance.

How do we remember them, without glorifying them? How do we give honor to those without honor, or at least who deserved no honor in life?

We remember them honestly, without glossing over the evil they did. We admit that their bad is in our history as much as any good they did. We admit, in humility, that our houses are built on a foundation of native bodies, and in turn we honor those who were killed so unjustly.

We give our problematic ancestors honor by working to clean up the messes they left behind. I can’t undo the horrors that Columbus and his successors wrought in the Americas, but I can work to make the conditions in our present, which are the legacy of colonialism, racism, and empire, less vile.

We can honor even the ancestors we hate by making the present better than the past, and the future better than the present.


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