On June 6th 2007 I started my posting with this sentence. This blog has been in existence for a year and a day, so every pagan will understand why I have to put something on it today, whatever.
Having attended a Solstice ritual yesterday with crowds of pagan folks from different communities and beliefs getting together to celebrate something bigger than any of them, I was reminded of the way that pagan religions are still non-ised by the media, or lied about.
So to point again to a case where a pagan in a vastly disadvantaged situation beat the ignorance of the authorities, and to show how unknown pagans are helping those who are afraid of them, I am reprinting that post as a Solstice offering. Here it is:
My last posting ( 5/28/2007) was about the official denial to the widow of a Wiccan veteran to allow that his religious symbol, a five pointed star inside a circle, be placed next his name on a memorial wall. There were some 40 other religious symbols on the ‘approved’ list, but not one for a religion that has our ignorant president's disapproval. (That’s Dubya not Obama)
Well, here is a short review of another example of how ignorance among officials reacts on those they are supposed to be helping. Forest Fisher is an inmate under the jurisdiction of the Virginia Department of Corrections. Many of the inmates of course are Christians, Muslims and Jews. They are allowed to wear their religious symbols of cross or crucifix, (many varieties), hand of Fatima or Allah, and the Star of David.
But Forest is a member of Asatru. Look up Asatru on the Web. These people worship the gods of Ancient Northern Europe, deities like Odhinn, Thor, Heimdahl, Frejya, and many others. There is a revival in this country of a Norse religion MUCH older than this country with its trifling couple of centuries of colonial based history. The older gods are in the DNA of everyone who speaks one of the Germanic languages, including English. Just watch their faces when you give them a set of polystone runes to handle.
Forest went through the usual bureaucratic paper work and applied for the right to wear his Hammer of Thor, a significant religious symbol as every student of the Eddas and the Norse will know. Not however the brilliant minds of the administration. An official received his submission and went to get the advice of a superior because Thor’s Hammer was not on the ‘approved’ list.
The superior told her that he thought it might be a gang symbol. So she didn’t pass on his paper work to the Faith Review Committee, which possibly might have evinced less ignorance about the matter. Imagine the headlines here if a Christian inmate in a foreign country was denied the right to wear a cross because it was considered by an official to be a gang symbol.
He, Forest, tried three times and then realized that he wasn’t going to get anywhere. He was informed that a “statewide ruling” prevented inmates from having a Thor’s Hammer. There was no such ruling. He smelled a rat and sued the VDOC.
The prison officials were berated by the magistrate, on May 25th who heard Forest’s case, incidentally he represented himself at the hearing, maybe he couldn’t find an attorney who had heard of Thor’s Hammer. Magistrate Urbanski pointed out that if the VDOC had followed their own rules that might have given weight to their argument that institutional safety was the reason for the denial of Forest’s request. But they didn’t. They relied, and acted on the personal belief of an ignorant person, just as the officials did in the case about the Wiccan veteran, in my previous posting. That’s my comment not the magistrate’s.
I’ll just mention too that though the Virginian officials probably think that America is the center of the world, they should really have heard of Iceland, by far the oldest democracy in the world, and a real one. And in Iceland there are two official religions, Odinism and Christianity. The pre-Christian, Norse local god Odin and his pantheon have legal recognition equal to the Middle Eastern religion of Christianity.Which makes sense in a cold country like Iceland.
I just couldn’t let that extra piece of ignorance go by. It may not be a coincidence that it is in Virginia that legislators are pushing to have creationism included in the school science texts. That says plenty there.
But the fact that so many religions are invisible in this country and therefore unknown to many people can be placed pretty firmly on the shoulders of the media. The pagans in this country are many, but have no sympathetic news outlets. Let’s use as an example the 9-11 scenario, which certainly had plenty of media coverage.
Silver Raven Wolf is a prominent figure among pagans who know her books and activities. She’s on the Web but you won’t find her on Oprah. When 9-11 occurred one of Silver Raven Wolf’s pagan clan was standing in the street near the World Trade Center when the first plane hit. We all know about the fire, the explosions and debris from the building falling into the streets. We all know about people running terrified to get away from the scene. They even took cover in Oregon.
What hardly anybody knows is that Lady Mary, a Black Forest clan Elder was in that street. Her first action was to make cell calls to clan members to ask their magickal help in the situation. She did not run. She helped in the way that many pagans can. Nobody in the media noticed. Her clan members were among the first people in the country to know about the incident and immediately networked to do the rituals that send energetic help and healing. But that's alternative medicine, so we don't hear much positive about that either.
All over the country there were outdoor and indoor pagan rituals directing healing energies on the victims and their families. Nobody from radio or TV took any notice, and some of the meetings involved hundreds of pagans. Did Oprah mention this? Was Silver Raven Wolf or her amazing clan elders invited to talk or be at the prayer service in New York. Were they invited to CBS news? Of course not. Alternative religion is officially invisible.
For centuries we pagans have been persecuted by official religions.As the bumper sticker says "God protect me from your followers" We have been killed in the thousands by those who didn’t realize that we just keep coming back, and we remember. And we are still here, even as many cracks in the edifice of Christendom are beginning to become visible even to believers. And our ancient gods and goddesses are still here too.
The unjustly persecuted Templars are back and happy to see the current state of the Catholic Church, who murdered them and the Cathars. And we shall still be here when the miracle happens, if it does, and Christianity is just another religion, followed by those who find it suited to their spiritual needs, without the need to stuff its dogmas down the throats of everybody else. The only real sin is ignorance. From that come all the problems. And there’s plenty of ignorance in high places, and we get the trickle down effect don’t we. My pagan Celtic blessing to you. Bendithion o'r Duwau Hen arnoch chi...The Blessings of the Old Gods be upon you.