One of the things that doesn’t get talked about often enough are the fundamentals of any magical practice. What should people be doing or able to do when they first start out? Are there any universal ideas one should bear in mind?
Here’s my take:
One of the things that doesn’t get talked about often enough are the fundamentals of any magical practice. What should people be doing or able to do when they first start out? Are there any universal ideas one should bear in mind?
Here’s my take:
Since I’ve been asked a few times, I wanted to talk a bit more about my Magic & Witchcraft 101 class coming up and who it’s good for.
The internet is a double edged sword. There’s so much info out there and it’s really challenging to know where to start or what to even do. This class is for people who are getting started on their journey but are completely confused on what’s a good source of info, what they want to do, what traditions & practices are out there, and are completely overloaded & overwhelmed with info. My goal is to break it down.
It doesn’t help that there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Anyone with a platform is assumed to be knowledgeable and an expert. And there’s so much out there to learn and do. Where to start? If you’re in that boat or know someone who is, you may benefit from my class.
The class breaks down the history of well known Western traditions, defines various terms, and tackles common misconceptions. I even discuss cultural appropriation vs appreciation as well as what to look and watch out for in groups, traditions, and teachers.
Magic & Witchcraft 101 starts Nov 21st, deadline to register is Nov 14th.
More info here: https://riverenodian.com/classes
The Fall 2022 class cycle is starting Nov 21st!
Information on the Psychic Development 101, Psychic Development 102, and Magic & Witchcraft 101 classes and how to register can be found here: https://www.riverenodian.com/classes
Patreon discounts are available as well as a hardship scholarship to apply to.
Deadline to register is Nov 14th.
Any questions, please feel free to drop me a message!
Dionysos is a deity for whom gender ideas and roles were tossed out the window. He’s a liminal god in so many ways, including societal norms.
On Dionysos And Being Genderqueer: https://www.patreon.com/posts/65469960
Today I’m here to cover the hypothetical scenario of doing magic in order to affect political change.
How To Magically Overthrow Fascism: Occult Resistance For The 21st Century: https://patreon.com/posts/68236166
In my recent blog post on the objectification of women in the Craft and other occult circles, I briefly touched upon the notion of “Maiden-Mother-Crone” which I’ll be abbreviating as MMC for the duration of this post. MMC is a well known modern depiction of female divinity, most specifically that of the patron goddess of the Wicca, frequently used in Wiccan groups both of the initiatory variety and non.
MMC is also known as “the Triple Goddess”, and was essentially derived by Robert Graves in his poetic work The White Goddess. Yes, once again, we are relying on a man’s interpretation of women and the divine feminine within our respective traditions. All that aside and to be fair, he was ahead of his times for that era. Back in the day, the notion of making sacred any aspect of being a woman, I am sure, was liberating and progressive. Finally, female can be divine! Female can be good! Female can be celebrated! And of course, don’t all women go from being a young woman, fresh in her prime and not yet married and no kids to that of bearing a child and finally, to no longer being able to bear children? Of course in this day and age we know better than that, as not all women are getting married and having kids. Some of us have gone on to do entirely different things with our lives. This isn’t to say that having children is bad and motherhood isn’t to be honored and celebrated, but we are so much more than just that and mothers have lives and identities outside of their children, too. There’s room for you too, mothers–but there’s always been room for you because you have long considered to be the default female role. Why should women be all about our wombs and what we do or don’t do with them? And why are we still relying on an outdated model created by a man in a culture that we no longer live in let alone can relate to in this day and age?
As I stated in my original post: “Women are more than their bits and fertility status; this is offensive to cis and trans women both. This is why the “Maiden-Mother-Crone” model has always left me cold–I avoid it like the plague.” From women who had hysterectomies to those who have never had a womb, for those who choose not to have children, and for those who have tried and failed to conceive, why should any woman–let alone a goddess–be reduced to the role of simply “childbearer”? Why should our status be centered around that of having kids? Haven’t we in the twenty-first century gone past the notion of women just being caregiver and childbearers and are so much more? Why reduce goddesses to a standard that we ourselves have long since moved past?
There are people who have tried to amend MMC by adding a Warrior aspect. Honestly, this is the only aspect I could possibly relate to. Who wouldn’t love goddesses such as Athena, the Morrigan, or Sekhmet? I still feel that it falls short of fully embracing the notion that as we evolve as a culture and our notions of gender, femininity, and sexuality evolve, why shouldn’t our notions of the witches’ goddess? The men get a hero’s journey in their god, hunter and hunted. Shouldn’t we rethink our approach to goddess worship in order to see the divine feminine as being so much more?
My tutelary deity is Hekate who is also a triple goddess, but not MMC. Her triplicity is a reflection of the three-way crossroads, the liminal space between the worlds. There is far more magic in women than that of just childbirth, and we have countless goddesses who accurately reflect that. If we need to take these old stories from ancient times and better fit them to make our own new, modern myths for the divine feminine, then now is the time to do so. Athena may be a virgin goddess of battle strategy but she also is a weaver; how is this not an example of creativity and creation? Why haven’t we given greater thought about examples such as this? And if you still love certain aspects of the MMC model and want to rethink that triplicity from a different perspective, there’s something to be said for the Moirae, better known as the Fates: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. They’re literally creating Fate as they spin, measure, and cut the fabric of life! How is this not a powerful example of the divine feminine’s creativity and progression without resorting to the old song and dance about our wombs?
I admit that I come to the table as a hard polytheist; my notion of the gods is already vastly complex and within one deity can contain a bundle of contradictions. And being a polytheist, I am super comfortable with handling those levels of complexity. But I have less problems with the idea of soft polytheism than I do the philosophy that worshipping a female divinity should be limited to her childbearing status and that alone, especially since such notions tend to extend into the women within the related traditions. We are not unaffected by this limited approach to feminine divinity.
It is sad that in this day and age that a witch and priestess can still be scrutinized or disregarded for her age, fertility status, ability to be conventionally attractive, for possessing or not possessing a womb, or any of these things–all because of our instance upon having a MMC Goddess Barbie and wanting to see that reflected in our female witches. And some of the scenarios it proposes are hilariously outdated. It is ludicrous to consider a women in her thirties or forties as a “crone” because she is infertile and/or does not possess a womb. Fertility is far more than literal childbirth, and can carry into many things into one’s life. Creativity and creation aren’t limited in scope to developing babies in our respective wombs, and my femininity is not defined by whether or not I can or will have children.
People are welcome to their own traditions and if they choose to carry on the old model of “man and woman” and all of that fertility-womb sacredness, that’s perfectly fine and valid. It’s still sacred in its own right; it’s just not all that is sacred for women. And there’s so much more to fertility than the classic understanding of it. Women are welcome to also celebrate their motherhoods as they see fit and have insular traditions for them and for these traditional aspects of the craft. However, this isn’t for everyone–nor should it be. There is fertility within women and in general that can be honored and celebrated in new ways beyond just the traditional. Models such as MMC, defining gender by their parts, the old interpretation of gender binary, and the traditions which see these concepts as unalterable and rigidly defined are rapidly becoming a minority in a world and culture whose ideas on gender and sexuality are quickly evolving and encompassing so much more than the binary, cut and dry approach to these topics. The rest of us are moving on and embracing a more progressive and inclusive witchcraft. We continue to teach what was and also why we moved away from it. We do not forget nor seek to distance ourselves from our past, but to learn from it and why we have chosen a new approach.
The future is not just female; it is intersectional. It does not seek to exclude women who lack wombs, nor does it seek to exclude those who do. All forms of women are sacred. There is room for everyone, and we have a lot of work to do.
Image from Pixabay
The pandemic has exposed a serious problem in our culture, and I have no suggestions on how to solve it. I honestly wish I did. It’s baked into the system, our laws, and how we function as a society. And that problem is rugged, toxic individualism and its marriage with unbridled capitalism.
I firmly believe it’s tied in with toxic Christianity and all of its problems but that doesn’t provide any additional insights beyond “all of these problems are toxic and are creating one big, toxic stew.” We’re in a pandemic where “every person for themselves” has been pushed on us literally to death and at the expense of the chronically ill and disabled. It’s created a society of people who actively hate the poor, the unhoused, the disabled, and any and all marginalized communities. After all, if any problems one has is strictly theirs to deal with, why help them in any way? A society of individuals isn’t a healthy society and can’t survive for very long, and will indeed (and has already) leave a trail of dead people in its wake.
It gets worse when rugged individualism is weaponized by bigoted, even hateful people with agendas and supported by religious beliefs. After all, anything bad that happens to you must be your fault; there must be something spiritually wrong with you. Or in occult communities? It must be that you aren’t an effective witch/magician/occultist. This gets into prosperity gospel, toxic positivity, and the notion that only “good people” are healthy and wealthy. The idea that “everything happens for a reason” is bunk, and anyone who has dealt with any sort of trauma knows it.
I can also fully comprehend why such a philosophy can be seductive. After all, people like to feel in control over their lives. If they chose such-and-such circumstance before they were even born, they can feel that control. Life becomes less scary in their minds, easier to deal with. But the reality is that terrible things often happen to good people with very little reason, and when that happens it can make people question their faith in an all-knowing, all-seeing entity or entities that supposedly cares about them and their choices in life. It can also create the illusion that if we have that much control, then we don’t need to care about other people. They should be on their own, or obviously they aren’t doing the right things in their lives.
After all, why help out others if they can simply just pray harder, think positive thoughts, and they would be totally fine? And anything else is just something they somehow brought on themselves.
Society can’t and doesn’t work that way. We evolved as humans to work collaboratively; it’s how we’ve survived for eons. It should collectively care for those of us who have less regardless of their contributions to society, for the sheer fact that people’s lives fucking matter. Basic needs in order to survive shouldn’t have to be earned. No one should have to fight in order to prove they deserve to live. Healthcare shouldn’t be an industry that turns a profit in a pandemic that’s already cost the United States alone a million lives. Housing shouldn’t be so prohibitively expensive that people are sleeping in tents. Access to clean water (looking at you, Flint) and food shouldn’t be a struggle, either. And people shouldn’t die because they can’t afford insulin. The list goes on, but you can ultimately trace far too many issues to two simple facts: rugged individualism and capitalism are literally killing us.
No healthy society can survive this way, not in the long term. Things are so incredibly broken that I’m honestly shocked that they’re not breaking down faster. Unfortunately these toxic ideals have been passed down from generation to generation and are a source of pride for some people. They got theirs, so why should they have to care about anyone else?
“You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.” -Morpheus, The Matrix
It’s extremely messed up that we have to explain to literally anyone that they should care about other people than themselves. It’s also unfortunate that most people don’t know how broken our society, institutions, and systems are until they face any sort of trauma including job loss, housing loss, chronic illness, and/or disability. One would think that a global pandemic would shove that in our faces, but some people are genuinely unaware still of all of the problems. How people’s lives are currently being sacrificed at the altar of “the economy” or as it should better be known as, the ultra rich 1%. How healthcare industries are getting rich off the pandemic, people’s illnesses, and even deaths. People are still fighting to protect this broken system, likely due to the belief that if they just work hard enough, pray often enough, they’ll be a healthy and wealthy billionaire too.
Because that’s the American propaganda/dream/opportunity, right? That supposedly anyone can just “work hard enough” and make it through, and anything else is a criticism of that belief. And how DARE you not love your country and think it’s perfect in every way.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. “Thoughts and prayers” won’t end a pandemic, give people free healthcare so that when they inevitably become sick and/or permanently disabled due to COVID they can afford all of the tests and treatments, end voter suppression, or give us affordable housing. It won’t allow us to continue to work from home to protect ourselves, nor get the most selfish of people to wear a piece of cloth over their faces to protect the lives and well-being of others. It won’t make us rich, give us the ability to afford basic necessities, or guarantee our continued health and well-being. And it certainly won’t give us back our loved ones who have died during this time due to the pandemic.
Is societal collapse immanent? Yes, but not in any way that people would readily expect or identify it. Most people’s risk assessment is terrible; unless there are drastic, overnight changes they don’t see impact or consequences before it happens. One can see this problem when dealing with the climate crisis, for instance. Which is one more thing that we are barely even able to focus on with everything going on. There are just too many things that are endangering us both as a society and as a species, and they’re all piling up on us.
We are all boiling frogs, and the pot is starting to run over. And there aren’t enough people taking the time to prepare and take care of their own because understandably, we are all too traumatized and too overwhelmed with current circumstances to do much of anything further. Even worse, it’s very likely that a good number of the people most likely to see these issues and/or be able to potentially help others are the ones who will be too busy putting on their own oxygen mask to assist.
And I want to take the time to address those people: you are valid. You have to do what you have to do in order to stay afloat, because everything has fucked us over so very, very good. If you are drowning you can’t help others not to drown, and that’s just the sad reality. You are not failing people, people have failed YOU. This entire society has failed you, and I’m so sorry. It’s the not-drowning ones who need to help the drowning. It’s 100% not your fault, and I want you all to know that no matter what anyone else might want tell you.
It’s the perfect storm, we’re all in our respective boats, and some of them are leaking water faster than others. In short if you have rescue boats or lifevests to offer others and are capable of doing so, I’d start now. And if you have any suggestions on where to start to unpack any of this and possibly save others, I welcome them in the comments.
It’s pretty clear at this point that we are at a crossroads of a social revolution, one that is taking us into a direction where the long-held and accepted notions of both gender and sexuality are being questioned and in many cases, outright thrown away. However, it’s nothing new–they’ve been questioned for some time now, but people have gone on willfully ignoring or blowing it off for literally decades, and so the battle continues. Conversations which began years before I was born that were never resolved and ended in blood and tears are still happening. Why? Because people are stubbornly clinging to their security blankets and shields in the form of tradition, religion, and/or philosophy in order to avoid self-examination. And we can’t afford to coddle these individuals anymore, because it’s quite evident that hatred, ignorance, and bigotry mean more to them than the dire need to allow the craft and other magical traditions to evolve, not to mention entire pagan and polytheistic communities.
We can’t pretend it’s all about adhering to the tradition, or the letter of the law. For instance, there is more than enough documentation to demonstrate there were conditions under which Gerald Gardner himself was fine with same sex initiation, and that Alex Sanders himself performed such rites. So we can’t argue that “strict opposite gender initiates always” is core to either lineage. We also know that during their time that the laws and culture surrounding non-heterosexual and non gender conforming people were pretty negative, to say the least. This is increasingly no longer the case. As a result, it would appear to be that the majority opinion within various initiatory Wiccan traditions is finally heading in the direction of acceptance of same sex initiation in addition to recognizing the validity of those who identify as a different gender than the one assigned to them at birth. Even more importantly, people are finally beginning to publicly admit that this is where they stand. This is both huge, and necessary.
And these traditions are not alone in these discussions–far from it. People can point fingers and claim that initiatory Wiccan traditions are the only ones having the gender and sexuality issues and debates, but the reality is that in many if not all pagan and polytheistic communities, there are problems. I’ve regularly had to block homophobes, transphobes, and all sorts bigots in general from the Facebook group I run on Hellenic paganism. Those people whom I blocked and banned included people from white supremacist groups. We cannot pretend, as these screaming bigots want, that the Greek gods were all heterosexual and that homosexuality and bisexuality did not exist among them. Given the countless tales of the gods and their same sex trysts, I don’t think I need to state what an incredibly inaccurate view this is. And I’ve already gotten into some of the genderqueer, non-binary, and genderfluid gods in that pantheon besides in another blog post. Once again, we have an example of narrow-minded, hateful people trying to apply historical revisionism presented as “tradition” and using it as a shield for their bigotry.
I’ve seen similar issues as described above in Thelemic groups, Asatru groups, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn groups, and a ton of other places. In all these communities I have seen people from the alt-right, neo-Nazis, TERFs, and all sorts of hate groups attempt smear their maggot-ridden feces everywhere while they try to twist facts, science, and history to support their bigotry. These groups are also very typically anti-women and filled with internalized misogyny, which surprises no one who is aware of the studies linking misogyny with white supremacy. And the reality is that these movements are painfully in support of nothing but the cis-centric heteronormativity that is anti-women (either cis or trans, they hate them all), anti-non whites, antisemitic, anti-LGBTQIA+, anti-anything of the non-binary gender because let’s face it, it’s harder to police what you consider to be women when gender is far, far more complicated than mere genitalia. All of these movements are connected to that concept, which is why in order for all of us to continue to exist let alone evolve, cis-centric heteronormativity must die–and why we need to be suspicious of anyone seeking to strictly preserve that overly rigid, limited narrative. We must stand up to these movements and not tolerate intolerance, so that we may preserve and protect tolerance.
Unfortunately no pagan, polytheistic, or occult community is without its loud, bigoted minority. If you think your community is exempt, think again. The problem is widespread, and we need to own it. We can no longer afford to pretend it does not and will not affect us, and those of us not directly impacted by the beliefs of the loud and hateful few need to learn how to be good allies and stand up on behalf of others in our community. And not enough people are doing that.
We also need to stop being afraid of challenging people who are perceived as leaders when they say or do inappropriate and outright hateful things in regards to large groups of people. Misha Magdalene in their blog sums up the issue with such savage finesse that I will quote from them here:
“(I)f it’s not some ceremonial magick dude managing to simultaneously junk-punch himself and hang himself with his own tongue by clumsily conflating rape and rape culture with BDSM, it’s some Pagan dude bloviating about uppity women, queers, and trans folks getting peanut butter in his Ten Thousand Year Old Book of Cisgender Heterosexual Shadows… or, in the case of the current bee in my bonnet, it’s a Well-Respected Feminist Elder™ running her tattered TERF1 flag up the flagpole to see who salutes.”
I’m honestly not sure why so many Known Names™ are becoming louder than usual in banging their bigot drum, even including those who normally describe themselves as “liberal” or “moderate”. It’s certainly not that they’re secretly hateful people who side with neo-Nazis, as most of them are pretty far from it. But those same self-described liberals and moderates are also painfully oblivious to how their attempt to “see things both ways” is harming people who have considerably less societal advantages than they, and so much of the discourse seems to be very defensive of their own position in society. My theory is that we are seeing the “rage, rage against the dying of the light” from those whose comfort zones have been challenged as they desperately cling to those very societal advantages. But the “dying of the light” is happening, and as a result, we are seeing a much-needed shift in power and dynamics. Challenging the status quo, particularly when it has benefited you, can be very uncomfortable. And these people are not just uncomfortable; they are chafing from the friction of the reality around them against their cushy privileges. They need to realize that they have nothing to lose having others gain vital and necessary civil rights. After all, it isn’t pie; you don’t suddenly have less rights once other people who have been traditionally under heavy societal disadvantages finally get rights too.
It pays to be be self-examining, and realizing your own prejudices due to institutionalized sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and so forth requires a great deal of that examination. It also means becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. Part of it is realizing that there’s a vast difference between hatred due to bigotry versus ingrained biases that are the basis of prejudice. Truth is, you don’t have to hate a group of people in order to have incorrect judgments and assessments about them. You just have to be raised from birth in a society that sees being different as dangerous, and questioning the status quo doubly so. And unfortunately it is entirely too human to stick groups of people into biased boxes. Once one realizes that having these biases is not a negative judgment on them as a person–and therefore being on the defensive is unnecessary–they will be able to move beyond the constrictions of those prejudices and relearn what they have learned.
For spiritual and/or esoteric movements to have issues challenging societal standards is sadly ironic given how much of what we do and what we believe being so terribly, vastly different from the mainstream. But for those who were raised in strictly religious homes (read: orthodox or even fundamental), taking those ideas with them into a new religious or tradition is all too common. They may be able to take the pagan or polytheist out of strict orthodoxy, but sadly it is often difficult to remove the strict orthodoxy from the pagan or polytheist.
Thankfully, these attitudes which stem from rigid orthodoxy are a part of a minority that is rapidly becoming outnumbered by those around them. And the more of a minority they become, the louder are the cries of discomfort, rage, and belligerence from said minority. Because truth be told, the rest of us are marching into the twenty-first century whether they like it or not. We do not require their consent nor should we desire it. Should they choose to change their minds, they’re more than welcome to join us. But as our march continues, their days are numbered for the old ways must die in order for us to continue to live, let alone thrive. And it’s the essence of the reality of those numbered days which makes them protest, because their world is ending and ours has just begun.
And as I keep mentioning, the future is not just female; it is intersectional.
“You attract what you are.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
I’ve seen a variety of these sorts of phrases. They’re typically found in the New Age and LoA (Law of Attraction) communities, but it’s not unusual for pagans, polytheists, and occultists to fall under the trap of this type of thinking. A lot of this tends to stem from the notion that intent is everything (or at the very least the main thing) which you need in magic, therefore if you “just think positively” your magic won’t fail.
Obviously this isn’t the case, and magic is far more than just intent. And if you’ve noticed that these phrases tend to sound victim blaming/shaming, you’re not alone and you’re quite correct. I’ve frequently noticed that people who gravitate towards such philosophies are desperately seeking a sense of control over their life and surroundings, including over events they have no way of being able to otherwise prevent or handle. But this can also be used to turn on people in order to discredit or gaslight them, and be New Age bullies. Such tactics are also used in order to silence victims of abuse and oppression: “You brought this on yourself, no one can harm you without your consent.”
The other aspect of this poisonous philosophical trend is what amounts to spiritual bypassing. By focusing only on the positive in regards to thoughts and emotions, you are preventing yourself from confronting your problems, healing from past traumas, and in short not allowing yourself the necessary personal development in order to work on your issues. A fantastic example of this is quite honestly what amounts to the darker aspects of the so-called light side of the Force from Star Wars. By avoiding fear, pain, anger, and hate out of the notion that it will “make you evil” or “turn to the Dark Side” is usually how people wind up not handling those very issues and become a self-fulfilling prophesy by going to the said Dark Side. And the perfect example: Anakin Skywalker.
Part of being a well rounded witch, magician, or occultist in general is being able to confront and deal with your crap. It also means recognizing that yes, there will be events beyond your control and that of others. It doesn’t mean that magic isn’t real, that you aren’t an effective occultist, and/or that you somehow deserved it or otherwise brought it on yourself. There’s a great deal of superstition that I sometimes see even in the Hellenic polytheist communities. A streak of bad luck occurs, and people ask why the gods hate them or how they managed to piss them off. That’s not how this works; that’s not how any of this works! Blaming the gods for bad things that happen to you and other people’s bad behavior isn’t even remotely accurate, let alone appropriate.
The LoA community likes to pretend that everyone is “switched on” and that we’re all in control over the forces in our lives and what happens to us. The reality is that most of people are in neutral gear while a minority of us contend with a volume knob that can go up or down due to reasons not entirely our own. Bad stuff can happen to good people regardless of who or what they are. Not acknowledging that is essentially denying our humanity and reality at large. You’re not going to become a better magician or witch by only focusing on positive emotions, or blaming others or yourself for when bad stuff happens. But you will find that your magic will be far more efficacious if you learn how to harness your anger, control your responses to your emotions, and allow yourself to feel and process those emotions. They are valid, and so are you.
I tweeted recently that at some point as a nation, we need to sit down and have a serious chat about toxic Christianity and its relationship to the patriarchy, white supremacy, and toxic masculinity. Screenshot and link below:
Now to the meaty bits (or seitan if you don’t eat meat): what exactly do I mean by toxic Christianity?
Like with the phrase “toxic masculinity“, I’m not saying that all of Christianity is toxic. I’m referring to a very specific flavor of Christianity which IS toxic, and has perpetuated a number of problematic to outright bigoted and hateful behaviors, particularly here in the USA. This especially includes Dominionism, which everyone needs to read up on in order to understand some of the political and religious power struggles here in the United States. It’s also led to a number of people to get involved in lawmaking and try (and sometimes succeed) in passing a number of laws based on them. These laws are actively working towards making the rule of the land be mostly white cis men while taking away the rights of literally anyone else.
We can’t pretend that Christianity is the only place where we’ve had this toxicity, as certainly a number of ancient cultures were patriarchal and in them women had few to no rights. But right now, those cultures are not in a position of power, and neither are we pagans/polytheists/witches/magicians/etc for the most part. While some of us do indeed come from a Christian background–particularly since witches and magicians can pretty much be of any religion–we are still partaking of a lifestyle that is not mainstream and often targeted for abuse.
So where am I going with this, and what can we be done? What do we collectively need to realize in order to withstand the potential threats we face to our rights and well being?
First of all, we are all affected by politics, some of us more than others. And we are all impacted by our upbringing, some of us more so than others. This is a good chunk of why I have urged pagans and polytheists to work on dumping their baggage as too many have come into polytheism–especially reconstructionist and revivalist polytheism–and other branches of paganism dragging their match luggage behind them and letting it color their perspective on the faiths they are attempting to practice. We all need to work on dismantling our pasts and the crap that holds us back, and in dealing with this topic especially so. There’s a lot we have to rethink, and institutionalized sexism, racism, transphobia, and homophobia are among those things. Unfortunately there’s a great deal of religious fervor devoted to the feeding and protecting of those -isms and phobias, and that is part of why the struggle continues in the United States.
More than anything regardless of our respective backgrounds we need to discuss the problem of toxic Christianity, as it’s dooming us all. We have Dominionists in the White House, people making laws not based on science but based on beliefs that focus around misogyny and the control of anyone with a uterus (especially black women), and children in cages in actual concentration camps. Yes, they are concentration camps and yes, I am Jewish. “Never again” is now. America needs to wake up, strengthen the protections and walls between church and state, get the offenders, enablers, and grifters out of their respective offices and take back our government from toxic Christianity and its followers which infiltrated the Republican party.
We need to stop making excuses for the attitudes that enable the behavior to go on. We need to stop pretending that voting won’t solve the problem, and also that voting alone will solve the problem. We must become comfortable with multitasking and with being vigilant long after the danger has past. Our culture, lack of proper regulations, and lack of consequences for those responsible are just a few things that are letting the cancer continue to grow and eventually kill us all. Toxic Christianity and its beliefs prop up white cis men at the expense of literally everyone else while tax exempt churches make large donations to politicians who back up their views.
I know that people are exhausted of the state of the world, especially those who have been fighting the longest and hardest, but I’m talking about the very heart of the issues that allowed America’s current government administration to do all that they are doing, and with the issues that affect us globally it won’t just be Americans who are in trouble, but the rest of the entire planet. Climate change alone has become a huge part of this, and it will literally kill us all if we don’t do something. We have 10-15 years left to be able to do anything about it. Toxic Christianity won’t care because toxic Christianity wants to usher in the end times and bring back Jesus. Toxic Christianity doesn’t think women should have rights let alone vote. Toxic Christianity only likes white people, heterosexuals, and cis men. The rest of us are deemed unworthy, unacceptable, and less than human.
I realize that there are a fair amount of occultists who are Christian, engage in Christian mysticism and Christian derived magical practices (yes, they exist). I’m also painfully aware that most occultists are not engaged in toxic Christianity. However, some are. There are a few fairly famous examples that I could give, particularly in the ceremonial magic communities. Some of you who are Christian mystics, witches, magicians, and occultists are already actively involved in fighting against fascism, white supremacy, and the patriarchy. I salute you and stand by you. We need to stick together and remember our commonalities over our differences. Please continue to use your religious privilege to call out those who continue to act as if religion is synonymous with Christianity and try to make decisions for the rest of us based on those beliefs and ideas. It continues to amaze me that someone like Jesus who challenged the patriarchy, those in positions of power, and his culture in general could possibly have inspired the ideas which these people perpetuate, and the failure falls not on religion but that of humanity.
The rest of us, however, do not come from Christian backgrounds. While most pagans and polytheists were originally Christian or from Christian homes, I was not. I lack religious privilege on a fairly substantial level. I run into monotheists and atheists all of the time who equate religion with Christianity and monotheism in general and use phrases like “Judeo-Christian” when they really just mean Christian. Religion is assumed to be entirely anti-science when my very faith honors deities for whom science and medicine are both sacred. When I don’t run into bigotry against paganism and polytheism, I run into anti-Semitism. Antisemitism stems from toxic Christianity, too–as does Islamophobia. Anti-witchcraft and magic sentiments? Also from toxic Christianity. Anti-science beliefs and ideas surrounding climate change denial, anti-vaxxers, and flat earthers? Same.
And the list goes on.
We don’t need less religion or less Christianity; we need greater protections, more conversation, and the dismantling of the support toxic Christianity has received up to now. The problem lies not with specific religions, genders, or races, but in disproportionate privilege and power. Deconstructing privilege and balancing the scales begins with starting the necessary conversations about concepts such as the Paradox of Tolerance, and why tolerating intolerance needs to stop. We need to challenge ourselves and call on people around us who behave and speak inappropriately as compassionately but as decisively as we can.
Removing toxic Christianity from power both in our culture and in the American government will unfortunately not remove the attitudes and ideas it perpetuated. But it will prevent further harm to those who are among the marginalized and disenfranchised while we continue to try for a better world.