Have you recently felt the pain of oppression in your life? We, witches, often see how other people’s intolerance results in unfairness and worse toward Pagans.
When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, this you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.
– Robert A. Heinlein
With today’s political and religious climate, oppression seems to be the norm. Racism, sexism, and religious prejudice apparently surround us.
Have you noticed any intolerance in our own community of witches?
One year, at a certain Pagan festival, I heard someone express racist comments in the hallway of the host hotel. This made me feel truly uncomfortable. I even felt anger rising up.
I can’t even imagine being someone of color hearing such garbage! My own husband is a person of color, and we have had discussions about this topic.
What is going on here? We, witches, already know oppression. Why would any of us feel okay about expressing oppression within our own ranks?
As witches, we understand being oppressed. We remember the Burning Times. With the atrocities, the Church drove the Craft underground.
With our community still bleeding from such oppression, why would any of us be okay with oppressing another person? If I could talk to the person who expressed these racist comments I would say, “We are all children of the God and Goddess. They love us all, that’s right, all! Remember, we are all part of the Gods, and, the Gods are part of us. There is no color in the God’s and Goddess’s eyes. We are one!”
The overwhelming misogyny of the Burning Times is plain to see.
However, misogyny continues today. It’s reported that women only earn $0.79 to every dollar that men earn. Why is this tolerated?
While I was reflecting on this, I realized something startling. In modern witchcraft, it appears that men are being marginalized. Many of us realize that “witch” is a term for both men and women. However, many people have the mistaken notion that a male witch is a “warlock” (wrong!). The word “warlock” is only used for people who break their oaths. And many male witches consider it a derogatory term, which it is. So, please don’t call someone a warlock.
Think about it. It’s October, and you go into your favorite costume shop and look for a witch costume. Have you ever seen a male witch costume? I know I haven’t.
Keep in mind that a male witch is just as important as female witches. Remember that the Goddess gets all Her power from the God. The God lays all His power at the feet of the Goddess because He knows She is just and fair.
In the Burning Times, not only did our community face misogyny, anyone who thought differently than the Church was in jeopardy. This meant you could be charged for heresy if anyone heard your opinion and reported it.
Mostly women were affected, but men were also accused and killed (hanged/burned). Whole towns were wiped off the map during the Burning Times. Some have reported that leaders during the Burning Times used the accusations of heresy as a pretext to fulfill their political aims.
Even now, many of us stay in the broom closet. Why? Hatred toward witches persists to this day.
Many of us stay hidden because we don’t want to be targeted by others’ hatred.
There are forms of oppression and domination which become invisible—the new normal. – Michel Foucault
This isn’t just the witch thing either. It’s also a race thing, and a sexism thing. It’s oppression in its many forms.
As Witches, what do we do when oppression is expressed in our own community?
As witches, we need to reach out with understanding in our hearts.
Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. – Albert Einstein
Compassion is more important than intellect in calling forth the love that the work of peace needs, and intuition can often be a far more powerful searchlight than cold reason. – Betty Williams
So how do we reach understanding and compassion? With the God and Goddess, that’s how.
Through meditation and ritual, the Gods can help us look within and discover the truth.
That truth is that we are all connected, both to the Gods and to each other. We are all equal in the light of the Gods. We may look different, have different abilities, and have different personalities; but we all are one.
Even though, in many ways, we cannot control our world leaders and the destructive cultural pressures around us, we can hold our own culture to a higher standard.
Lead with love and compassion towards others.
So, when you look into the eyes of a stranger, see yourself, see the God, and see the Goddess.
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