I’ve been keeping track of some hubaloo regarding the efforts of some conservative Christian groups and their “spiritual warfare” aimed at the pagan community. The first one to hit the radar was an even called the Response, a prayer event which aims to pray and fast out of repentance to whatever evil America has done to call down God’s wrath in the form of the current economic crisis, or something. The other event is known as DC40, which will call for days of prayer and fasting focusing on Washington DC, with the hopes of putting the “Jesus” back in “America,” or something.
Oh, where to start. How about politics?
Jason at the Wild Hunt reliably emphasizes political connections with the evil, extremist, right-wing, by highlighting a sermon from Fundamentalist preacher (and Rick Perry supporter!) John Hagee:
You see, Texas Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry apparently is a conservative Christian, and has something of a professional relationship with (Rick Perry supporter) Hagee. Jason seems to have noticed that:
we’ll have a Republican candidate who proudly accepts the endorsement of pastor who rejects pluralism and blames “paganism” for society’s ills.
One wonders what Jason thought about the sermons that Jermiah Wright gave and what that said about President Obama’s character. But I digress …
What I’m wondering is this: are Hagee’s sentiments in the above clip really that extreme from a Christian perspective? From a fundamentalist Christian worldview, he’s right: there are cultural associations in the United States that are derived from pagan sources, and oh yes, pagans tend to heavily support environmentalism. Don’t get me wrong – this guy is pretty damned far out there, what with blaming the occult for the Haiti earthquake and whatnot, but my point is that according to his religious prerogative, he’s not acting overly erratic. And basically what he’s calling for is working toward a world in which his religion is ascendant, because he has a religious obligation to do so. I think that said obligation is crap, but he has it, and it is a valid obligation that is regarded by almost all sects of Christianity as necessary and inevitable. It is no different that the UU commitment to environmentalist or a Muslim commitment to pray 5 times a day.
In short, while I disagree with what he’s getting at, and will work against any efforts he makes to implement his religious doctrine via government channels, he’s not doing or saying anything any different than what he’s been doing or saying for decades, and he doesn’t seem to have gotten any farther along his schedule to convert the world. He has a devoted but small following, and I’d guarantee that most of his followers, as is common in Protestant Christianity, only buy about half of what he says.
So, moving on.
This DC40 event is sponsored by a group called the New Apostolic Reformation. They are apparently so far out there that even other Fundamentalist Protestant and Pentecostal groups regard them as extremist and heretical. Like many extremist groups, they seem to be all about gathering press by making large scale predictions and sweeping proclamations which primarily succeed not in gathering others to their cause, but in pissing people off.
What makes them interesting is their use of “spiritual warfare.” In short, they pray for people they believe to be evil (meaning witches and pagans) to be converted or succumb to harm, and they pray for policies they believe to be religiously inspired or mandated to be enacted by the government.
And some of this stuff is pretty mean-spirited:
“In 1995, Mary mobilized a prayer network for Alaska’s prisons and began experiencing spiritual warfare as never before. She had received word that a witch had applied for a job as chaplain of the state’s prison system… Mary recalls, “As we continued to pray against the spirit of witchcraft, her incense altar caught on fire, her car engine blew up, she went blind in her left eye, and she was diagnosed with cancer” … “Ultimately, the witch fled to another state for medical treatment. Soon after, revival visited every prison in Alaska. At the women’s correctional facility in Anchorage alone, 55 of 60 inmates found Christ. “Ask largely,” Mary says. “Intercessory prayer is making a major difference in North America.”
Jason regards this as a pretty nasty case of black magic. I’ll get to that in a moment.
Pretty scary, huh? A bunch of Christians are going to pray a whole bunch for us pagans to be booted out of, well, for something not nice to happen to us, and for the country to come “back” under the power of Jesus. Or something.
But they’re targeting the District of Columbia, and therefore the goddess Columbia herself. And pagan blogger Hecate Demeter has taken it personally:
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.)
I’m not denying that this seems to be a bit much, but let’s think about this for a moment. Christians have been undertaking prayer efforts such as this for hundreds of years in America. They do this constantly. Why is this time any different?
Because of politics and hyperbole, perhaps?
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.
NO ONE WAS FUCKING BURNED AT SALEM!!!!1111!!!!1111ELEVENTY111
These people are out for religious points. They are frightened, because their social dominance has been threatened and our country is drowning in debt and a failing economy that current policies are prolonging, not fixing. They want to save souls. Does anyone really think that they are going to start burning witches at the stake? (Don’t answer that — if it means demonizing Republicans and Christians, pagan will believe it.)
Well, Hecate seems to believe it, and is going to do what any good pagan would do. Ward Washington DC from the evil Xtians:
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.
Hecate seems to be regarding this as a legitimate magical attack. Jason appears to be entertaining the idea, but remains skeptical as to how serious of a threat this group really is. So let’s try to separate this from the charged political atmosphere that it is floating in and handle that issue.
First off, it’s damn hard to ward a city. As in virtually impossible. Setting up a stable ward over that large of an area, with the amount of traffic that would cross the ward, and allowing for the effects of weather and other influences, for that extended period of time, would be virtually impossible. Rosemary probably won’t cut the mustard. A direct supplication to Columbia (and probably to Janus and Mars) powered with a large festival-style feast would probably be more effective, both magically and logistically.
Warding the statue of Columbia would be much more workable, but if you’re going to that kind of effort, why not consecrate it instead, and let the goddess work through it? If the Capitol itself is a temple to Columbia, it seems like it might hold up pretty well.
Now, regarding the seriousness of the threat.
That is certainly a lot of intent. But magic is more than intent, and in fact, intent probably isn’t that important to magic anyway, if it is at all. What’s important is gnosis, or focus. According to Pete Carroll:
M = G x L(1-A)(1-R)
Where M=Magical effect, G=gnosis, L=magical link, A=conscious awareness, and R= subconscious resistance. Intent is not there, except as it influences focus or gnosis.
What I’m trying to say is that a thousand or so people across the country wishing for a vague intent with no mechanism to achieve it does not make for a very effective spell. What is the spell working for? “Reform” in government? What kind of reform? On what terms? By whom? How? When? To what end? Those are the questions a competent magician would ask, and that these people are not answering. Unless they were all focused on, say, one person dying in a particular way, they’re probably not going to accomplish much beyond a big PR event. Which would be made bigger by a bunch of pagans giving legitimacy to their worldview by responding defensively.
Christians praying for the welfare of the country is nothing new (I wish more pagans would undertake the practice). Christians praying for the advancement of their religion is nothing new. Christians praying for people to convert to Christianity is nothing new (and while annoying, I see no reason to presume that such desire for conversion are malicious). Christian groups praying for political goals is nothing new (pagans do it all the time too — just look at Starhawk). And these prayers haven’t had too much of an impact on the pagan community at large. The only thing that seems to be new is the political climate of hysteria: the evil, evil Xtians are running the GOP, and they’re going to overtake Obama the Lightworker and throw all of us pagans in concentration camps! And even that isn’t new — I can recall pagans doing that loudly since 1996.
If you’re really worried about Xtian prayer bombardment, ward your home. Otherwise I wouldn’t worry unless there’s any evidence that violence is planned. And hyperbole aside, there doesn’t appear to be.