Saturday, May 05, 2007

christian/wiccan dialogue

hey there, this is g13 live blogging from the gathering space. right now the witches, wiccans, neo-druids and christians are introducing themselves and i'm already behind. here goes....

a moment ago suzy the neo-druid said that the last time this type of dialogue took place in salem things went horribly awry. i kind of wish that i could hear the story of that event rather than listening to introductions.

enjoy non-sequiturs? i sure hope so.

pastor phil says he hopes that beginning right now we can begin to break christian misconceptions that have made it difficult for christians to understand these people that he loves. i'll second that beautiful hope...even though i am just starting to journey beyond myth and misconceptions in regards to witches, wiccans, neo-druids and other practitioners of neo-paganism. so away with my cherished misconceptions of neo-pagans today and away with my distaste for mormons tomorrow!

actually, maybe i'll have my mormon myopia worked on next year.

both teri (irish-catholic cum neo-pagan), suzy (jew cum neo-druid) and krista (catholic cum wiccan) both have roots in the judeo-christian tradition. i would assume that, this being america, most neo-pagan practitioners have some judeo-christian roots in their background. thus, in a forum like this they might be just as proficient at helping jews and christians understand themselves as they are able to elucidate neo-pagan thought and practice.

to wit: suzy just told a story about her childhood wherein a rabbi taught her that noah's son ham was a black child who was cursed for seeing his parents participating in some "night swimming." interesting. i would have never have thought that such despicable racial teachings were taught in the synagogues of late 20th century judaism, wherein, by most accounts, the civil rights movement was greatly supported and trumpeted.

it's already becoming quite apparent that there is at least as much diversity within neo-paganism as there is within 21st century "christianity." reductionists and simpletons* beware!

maybe i'm biased because i know her well, but krista is telling an affecting story about how the death of her mother raised terribly difficult questions and resurrected doubts about the mercy and love of God. after krista distanced herself from catholicism she tried atheism, but found the potential despondency that might result from such thoughts terrifying. she then stumbled across wicca for the solitary practitioner, found it persuasive and, after a brief discussion with her husband wherein she stated that she would probably not perform some of the more radical rites nor demand wiccan adherence from aforementioned man, began to practice. she then took up a job at where she was able to maintain her beliefs, but not openly display pentacles for six years. g13 may or may not have shared a cube with krista at that work place at some point in the dark and mystifying path. he'd tell you the truth, but then he'd be subject to a lawsuit.

terri is reflecting on the amazing diversity of neo-pagan thought and practice right now. concluding an interesting piece that touched on polytheism, feminine energy** and her lapsed witch offspring with a shop-worn cliche she said that though neo-pagans have a great diversity of beliefs and practices they are all walking up the same mountain.

uh, terri just told an amazing story about a guest to her witch shop who was repulsed by teri's touch and asked "are you trying to suck out my soul?!" somehow, hearing her tell that story seemed to shine a spotlight on the horrible consequences on my own frank peretti inspired stereotypes concerning natural religions. she also told a tale of witches who were shop keepers standing "like prostitutes" on street corners as though to say "hey baby, want to make a wand?!" that wand crack made me snicker.

krista is telling tales*** about her experiences as a witch working at cbd. apparently krista was on the wrong end of an evangelism explosion in the midst of the cubes ("if you were crossing a busy street and this big, mack truck was coming towards you and you didn't see it, wouldn't you want me to pull you outta there?" krista's response: "yeah, i'd like the help but i think of myself as a responsible person who wouldn't mindlessly walk into traffic. let me walk) and, much to the evangelist's dismay, krista was not swayed by his wiles. shit. i suppose that's one less jewel in that evangelical's crown.

phil's question: what do you think about the practice of conversion?.

suzy: in my opinion, it does not matter which religion you practice the result is still the same. fortunately, she says she has never experienced anyone trying to convert her. moreover, she has never had anyone spit, harangue or throw rocks at her, until she moved to salem.

teri: i've had people try to convert me on a number of occasions. in one instance a couple of christians accosted her daughter and chased her to their upstairs apartment. teri says that the accosters said "megan wants the word of God" and, in response, teri told them to get their "fuzzy buts out of her house."

phil: so you find the whole process devaluing as though people are showing you no respect as they approach you with a conversion focus.

teri: if we can work with the energy that is resident in all matter amazing things can happen. you might call those things magic or miracles. we try to stay in harmony with such energy and so, perhaps, make changes that we call magic. (i'm not quoting her perfectly, but i hope that's the gist of it). meeting with evangelism focused christians is like visiting florida and having to spend 30 minutes time-share salesmen. ouch.

john: when it comes to ethical views in life are there elements of wicca that shape the ethics by which you live your life?

teri: a spell is basically a prayer. we all are asking for something we need help with. that is what a spell is for us. we have two laws and they encompass the whole theory of the ten commandments: do as thy will and harm none. that means i can do what i want but i must constantly be concerned with the intended and unintentionals consequences of my actions.

writers note: someone is sawing logs in the back row

suzy: neo-paganism today is a blanket term which all of the pagan and the neo-pagans use to talk about the general path that we all walk in slightly different ways. i.e., witches create a sacred circle to protect them before performing magic, neo-druids create sacred space so that they can be in harmony with creation. so again, different paths.same mountain.time for a transformed metaphor.

phil: so you aren't getting together and trying to turn us into toads are you?

teri: some of you are toads already! not you, phil, but truth is truth.

krista: in regards to the rule, you really have to consider the consequences. for instance, i knew a witch that worked a spell in order that she could reap all that she needed. unfortunately, a couple of weeks later a rich aunt of hers died and the woman received exactly the same amount that she had been hoping for. you've really got to consider the consequences before beginning spell work.

question: what is the book of shadows that i've been hearing about?

krista: i keep record of my dreams, fragments of poetry and other personal information in it. i know that some witches have really nice, leather bound volumes.

teri: the book of shadows is ultimately a legacy that leaves a record of who you are. i also teach, so i keep some teaching materials in there as well. it's basically like a prayer book.

question: why the term shadows?

teri: because in ancient times you had to hide these books or you would be killed.

comment from crowd: recently a well-known witch from salem died and a portion of poetry from his book of shadows was read at his memorial service and i was really touched by the passion and depth of his thoughts and reflections. i was almost jealous of the sincerity and beauty of this man's thoughts.

teri: then write:)

question: do you think that you still hold onto a fragment of belief in the judeo-christian god or have you let it go entirely.

suzy: i have completely let it go. i honor my tradition by calling my family on yom kippur and passover but the jewish conception of God is not something i treasure.

krista: i still worry a little bit about whether i will end up in a good place, maybe not in the christian version of hell, but somewhere where i am alone. i am still focused upon and hope that i am a good person.

teri: i really don't think that buddhist, christian, hindu, greek, etc. gods are different. when we pray or call upon somebody i think we are focusing on aspects of God. i.e., when i call for wisdom i'm not going to go looking for pan or bacchus.

question: is witchcraft all-inclusive or is it exclusive? for instance, is there a hierarchy of witches in the town that keeps records?

krista: well, i'm a solitary. some branches are okay with the practice of solitaries, some aren't. they may not accept me as a solitary but i don't have to practice with them.

suzy: we have a hierarchy just like druids throughout history have had. we elect an arch druid, we have three degrees of teaching and you have to go through initiation in order to be accepted into the ADF proper.

phil: is there a hierarchy of witches in salem, a king, queen, etc?

teri: we have legends in their own mind. there are reasons witch and bitch still rhyme.

john: i would like to apologize to you personally for what christians have done to you and the lies that they have told. i hope that through the work of places like the gathering will help to reverse the harmful stereotypes and correct our mistakes.

room punctuated by awkward "slow clap"

suzy: i don't think that these errors are your fault. they pre-date christianity, you can even find such stereotypes coming from the lips of julius caesar, another pagan! i don't think you should take the blame for all this talk and things that you did not do, but that's just me.

phil: here we are a part of one human family who are pursuing truth. here as christians we are trying to walk the path of truth together and hopefully help make heaven happen around us. can you imagine being able to develop friendships with people who are so dramatically different than yourself and not feeling threatened by your differences because you are headed in the direction of life and truth? can you imagine a place where we share the truth humbly, gently and we share this life together? if you can imagine such a place i think we can find a place where we can break the stereotypes and violence.

teri: it's not all one sided. we have a lot of fundamentalist witches too. they've walked away from christianity because you have your stereotypes and you believed the satanist stories. we call them fundies too. we've got to deal with them as well. you can't really apologize for your ancestors, just be the best person you can be and take care of your stuff and hopefully we'll live a little healthier and happier. blessed be everyone.

room filled with a little more spontaneous clapping.

that's all for now. i hope that you were informed and entertained by this record. i own up to any incorrections in the transcription and am willing to hear any differences you might have and horde any flattering comments you'd like to leave.

blessed be indeed!


* such as myself.
** preach it sista! i'm a big believer in that.
*** i use the word not to suggest that krista's story is not factual, but because i wish the encounter has not happened.


Before Girl said...

Hey, you did well at this. No corrections from me. I wish that encounter with me hadn't happened as well. Hence why I've mostly put it out of my head. It's a speedbump I contend with when I'm trying to give good people the benefit of the doubt.

Steve Hayes said...

Is there any way of linking to this post?

g13 said...

good question steve. i actually don't know.

any good ideas out there? anyone...anyone...

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Steve and Jeff,

I had to go in and reset that feature in blogger. I am not sure why it was disabled, but it up and working again - yes you can link to it.