How to Ruin the Mysteries, or Religion is not Moral

In retrospect, I was lucky that the high priest of my first coven (mid-1970s) was something of a scoundrel. He was always tapping people for money and favors (“Could you fix my truck’s clutch? Oh, you’re a welder? I have some projects . . .”) — all for the good of the Craft, of course.

He was convinced of his own sexual magnetism and was always coming-on to women, in addition to the fact that he and his wife (the coven HPS) were off-and-on “swingers,” as the term was then. I discovered this when I dropped by the covenstead one afternoon and found them having a slightly awkward getting-to-know you conversation with a couple they had met somehow for that purpose. Needless to say, offers were extended to my partner and me, which we did not accept.

He could play members of the coven against each other, but treated us better than “cowans,” against whom any lie or stunt was permissible. Once when an old friend of mine, a professional calligrapher, did a large piece for him in exchange for a promised piece of silver jewelry (he was also a middling silversmith), and said piece of jewelry kept receding into the future, he brushed off my questions with “He’s a cowan, he can wait.” (The guy is still waiting.)

Most of what he said about his past, training, etc. was probably 90 percent bullshit.

And there was other stuff. But — I cannot over-emphasize this — over the three years I was part of that group (before M. and I finally left over something or other), some doors to the Mysteries were opened.

Both he and she could be effective ritualists and magicians. I can recall some intensely spiritually erotic ritual, for instance, that did not involve any swapping of bodily fluids. I was introduced to the entire Craft subculture as it then existed — including some early small hotel-based “cons”— and found a psychic space that only two years before I had not dreamt existed.

So I learned something. I learned the the Craft is a mystery religion, parts of which are not for kids or public view, and that the Mysteries are not about conventional morality. From that I learnt that one can be a good high priestess, let’s say, without being “moral.”

Later, a professor of Eastern religion would explain to me that Asian religious renunciates wore red, orange, or saffron robes to warn people that they were “hot” in a spiritual sense, but also with an echo of the slang term for sexy.

Yeah, religion — the “juice,” not the social organizations — can be sexy. Hindu gurus are notorious for sexual scandals, as are some Zen teachers, Protestant ministers, Catholic priests . . . you could go on.

Morality ought to be filed under Philosophy, not Religion.

An issue that affects both new religions (like various new Paganisms) and scholars of religion is the enormous, often unrecognized, cultural meme that “religion” equals not just a type of monotheism with a Holy Book, but Protestant Christianity in particular.

When I read about a Wiccan “church” that “followed a Christian format, complete with sermons and congregants sitting in rows, and its High Priestess wore a clerical collar similar to what Christian priests and ministers wear,”  I thought, there it is again, the dead hand of Protestantism on the back of your neck.

When a prominent Pagan writer publicized how she had flounced out of a forty-year-old Wiccan organization because it would not issue a statement on her favorite political issue, I thought of religion scholar Russ McCutcheon’s writing about the naive presumption that “religion equals morality [with] a responsibility for securing the fate of the nation-state or cooking up some therapeutic recipe for attaining self-knowledge or happiness’ (from Critics not Caretakers).

Whatever it is that makes the Craft special, I cannot think of a better way to kill it. Is there a little bit of a split here between those who lean, for instance, toward the approach of Apocalyptic Witchcraft and those who apparently would rather be social workers with pentagrams?

Those who seek the Mysteries, be they in the name of Dionysus, Nyx, Odin, Hecate, or whomever, have to understand that the Mysteries come without an official Book of Instructions.

I know, everything is connected and the personal is political. But does turning your position as, let us say, high priestess into a podium for pronouncing ex officio on this political issue or that one lead to a hollowing out of the magical self?

Or if religion is not about morality, then what does your religious position matter?

33 thoughts on “How to Ruin the Mysteries, or Religion is not Moral

  1. Robert Mathiesen

    This is one of the best things (IMHO), maybe the absolute best, that you have ever written on this blog, Chas!

    To me, it has always seemed obvious that the genuine spiritual teacher, who is able to benefit his/her students greatly, has to have the same uncommon skills and insights as the genuine con-artist, who is able to harm his/her “marks” greatly. Each of them lives at least half-way outside of and apart from the social consensus about the “real” world, including its morals/ethics. To be a really effective spiritual teacher, you have to be able to “read” your students as deeply as a successful con-artist does — to the point where if you told them every last thing you “read” in them, they would freak out and run away. To be a really successful con-artist, you have to know how to alter your marks’ perceptions of reality itself, in ways that last for the rest of their lives. And each profession needs to know when to keep silent, and what never to say to your student or mark — or sometimes, never to say to anyone at all, ever! Wisdom has far more to do with that than the blunt, dull, mindless knives of ethics and morality ever can.

    Also, forty years inside the world of higher education have only reinforced this view of mine: the very best professors, excellent scholars or scientists though they be, “read” their students to a frightening depth, and also alter their perceptions of reality itself in ways that affect the rest of their lives.

    1. And I would add that teaching — when it works —- has an erotic dimension too. So does sales work (which I did for a few years). It’s something about the exchange of energies.

      1. Robert Mathiesen

        Oh, absolutely. An entirely de-eroticized classroom hardly works at all. You, as teacher, can safely direct your eros toward your subject, toward your institution, or toward your students collectively. It’s far trickier to direct it safely (harmlessly) to the student with whom you’re speaking at the moment, but even that can be done with skill and compassion. The most effective use of eros, in teaching, seems to me to minimize the teacher’s own ego as much as possible. This moves eros in the direction of agape, while retaining the passion.

        All this, of course, makes University lawyers and risk managers have nightmares. When I was just beginning my work as a professor, I read somewhere an anecdotal conversation between a professor and the president of his university. The professor had a workable, but highly unconventional, idea for something or other worthwhile, and needed support from the university trustees to carry it out. So he went to talk with his president about it. The president’s reply was an offer of presidential support, but also something along the lines of, “The most important thing I do as president for this university is to keep the trustees from ever finding out that professors like you even exist.”

  2. Often, it isn’t even just the dead hand of Protestantism, but the putrid, stinking hand of Puritanism. There is an awful lot of self-righteous chest-beating going on these days, isn’t there?

    1. Robert Mathiesen

      Yes, there is! I suspect that it’s in our DNA, and that even alpha chimpanzees indulge themselves with a spot of self-righteous chest-beating. — I think of it as a “Monotheistic hangover” that we’re still suffering after our millenia-long binge on the heady brew of monotheism. 🙂

  3. Crystal Blanton

    I am saddened by your flippant and incorrect assessment of the issue that would lead me to leave. It had nothing to do with my favorite political agenda. It had to do with a lot of conversations, some inappropriate statements about race in discussions, classic dismissiveness about racism, and blatant statements that were really hurtful to many POC in the organization. I happened to be one that spoke publicly but many were speaking behind the scenes. No doubt you would not know that. No doubt you would not know those who feel trapped in their membership because it is through the coven they are in…

    After long discussions, a statement was released using the language that many, including the POC members, were saying was insulting culturally. It was not a flippant departure and no one was flouncing. Not by any means…. You see, I can be a social worker and Priestess at the same time. And no matter what, I am always Black. It would only be from a position of privilege that someone would reference matters of racism as the social agenda of the day and dismiss the importance of the conversations in the Pagan community that hurt those Pagans of color. As you are not in that position, I can imagine that might have missed your perspective. But for all of those of us struggling with this issue it does not. Not in society and not in Paganism.

    1. Frankly, I think asking CoG to weigh on on this matter dilutes its purpose. It’s like pounding a nail with pliers — wrong tool for the job. What is next, asking CoG to issue a statement on the student-loan debt crisis? On Russia’s intervention in Ukraine? On the Federal Reserve Bank interest-rate policy? On Boko Haram’s latest massacre? On spaying and neutering your pets?

      There are many social agendas, and there are already groups, organizations, and agencies in place and focused on those agendas. Use them.

      Asking a mystery religion to make moral pronouncements on social issues is, I suggest, falling into the “Protestant trap.” Just because they do it does not mean that we should do it. The Craft is not a morality-dispensing machine.

      1. Crystal

        Again, there are several issues with your lack of knowledge here. But I will address only one. You assume I asked COG. I didn’t and you are wrong. I made a comment on my facebook to the Pagan community at large. A whole different member brought it up to COG. Not me. That is how the conversation started. Fact checking is important as you know, and one reason I feel your assumptions are misleading and dangerous. The implications are not beyond me.

        1. I may have misunderstood about the “asking” part, but I will continue to say that such fissile behavior is why “Pagan community” is kind of an illusion. Network, maybe, but community no. It’s the old Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft issue, once again.

          To have true community, you have work with the other members as they are, not condemn them for not always giving you what you want, when you want it.

          If you lose a political struggle, what’s to do except go home, kick the wall a few times, and then set about building your coaltion.

          1. Crystal Blanton

            Again Chas, your information is lacking. You have no information on how I might have or did not work with the organization. Over 8 years, I have contributed a lot. And this is not the first discussion of race to come up. People of color have felt marginalized and dismissed for years in this organization. I am not making that up…. look around you.

            So then the question is you ask becomes…those who are marginalized should work with others but others should not work with the marginalized? Because otherwise your point is mute. You obviously have no information on the email exchanges, the numerous dialogs, the continued help I gave to local councils after I left who wanted support……. It makes your whole point of working with people invalid. I hope you know that. You are perpetuating a limited view of what happened and that is very clear. Which shows your agenda, not mine.

            This isn’t about giving me what I want; what a limited and dismissive stand you take. This is about working in true community and supporting the multitude of voices within an organization, and those who are harmed. This is not about losing a political struggle, this is about recognizing that people within our communities are affected by the harms that exist, and standing up for the civil rights of people. This is about learning to be inclusive and not exclusive in a largely European structured environment of Modern Paganism. It is about learning how to empathize and support marginalized experiences and not silence them. It is about understanding that we are whole people, and so we come to the table as more than Wiccans. It is about understanding the true nature of community and what we are standing for.

            For someone of your privilege that might be just a political struggle of moral, but for those POC in our community it is about survival and acceptance. It is about being seen and supported. It is about being able to be our whole selves and not dismissed or diminished. It is about cultural capital. You see….. you miss the whole picture by trying to force a square peg into a round hole for your own status quo agenda.

            In addition, you should read the emails, read the messages, understand what actually happened so that you can not mislead your audience. And notice that numerous other people spoke out, or left…. not just I. Interesting where your focus goes…… It says a lot.

            One more point….. ever wonder why I spoke up after another member brought the issue to COG? I say back and watched numerous emails go by with statements of aversive racism (and some overt) go past my screen until I couldn’t not speak. I sat back and observed first… and through my tears I spoke about how reading those emails and being black hurts me. How it hurts to hear that Black people issues are not Pagan issues…. And I am standing there as a Black woman, mother, Pagan. I wrote several emails in response once I actually got involved. And I thanked those others who spoke up and were supportive.

            I even reached out to other POC to support them in recrafting a new statement since I was not going to….. I told COG that I could not but would see if others were interested. (Does that sound like condemning?) Now ask yourself why all the POC I extended that invitation to said no…. NONE would do it.

            THAT is a community issue. You can make it a me issue but that just shows ignorance of the real problem.

            You really have no idea of what you speak. And your perpetuation of mistruths are not just harmful, but they are even insulting to all the other COG members (and there were a lot) who were fighting and talking WITH me.

            1. Really, this is not all about CoG and its dissidents. But when you write, “standing up for the civil rights of people, what is more political than that? Sounds like a political struggle to me.

              My larger point, if you go back to the opening anecdote, is that an effective practitioner of a mystery religion is not necessarily a “moral” person.

      2. David Salisbury

        It was the right thing to do because CoG is a huge national organization with pagans of color as their members. They were asked to speak about it because it affects their membership and all potential members. Also, CoG is not a mystery religion. It’s a nonprofit religious establishment that can and should take strong stances on social justice issues, so members and donors know where their time and money is going. Being that I no longer want my time and money going to an org that can’t apologize for erasing the visibility of pagans of color, I’ve withdrawn my coven’s membership application. It’s just as simple as that. Reducing the importance of looking at racism as someone’s pet project is dangerous and harmful to the community. And frankly Chas, as white men, we do not get to condemn efforts to break the hold of racism. Silence on racism is support for racism.

        1. A “huge national organization.” You have Pagan myopia, David. There are probably Arabian horse owner groups with more members than CoG. But thanks for dropping by.

          Getting mad because an organization fails you once and running for the door is the reason “Pagan community” is so ephemeral.

        2. David Salisbury, I call you on lying in self-promotion of your own ego and worth as one who self-sacrifices for justice, as you have no pending membership application to withdraw from the Covenant. You do not have the right to bootstrap yourself to the likes of Crystal Blanton because she does the work, and did it in CoG. Now her Path leads her to elsewhere, but we who stay are doing the work she began. For the teaching she began within CoG, I thank her, most graciously.

          Crystal, whose loss I mourn, has the right to speak as she does, although I wish she had stayed! Teaching people who live in communities which have not a grasp of what white privilege is takes time, more time than she has right now.Not one member is relieved that she and another member left, for it is too great a loss.

          I assisted in writing the Blacklivesmatter statement, about which we have not received feedback from the two members, one with coven, who left before we even crafted it. We need that feedback, which I will gladly relay to the multiracial 7 of us who crafted it.

          1. Crystal Blanton

            I am sorry Pythia, I have a lot of respect for you but you are wrong here. There are many of us who know the work David was doing to join COG. Also….. David actually works as a social justice advocate full time professionally. You may not know him but he works for the largest human rights organization in the US. So I would hardly discount him or his work.

            He doesn’t ride on my bootstraps, he is the real deal. And he is also a friend. I am sorry that you jumped to that conclusion without enough information.

      3. Sara Amis

        Aside from the fact that I don’t agree with your basic premise, whatever happened to “perfect love and perfect trust”? Those things can’t just be a given, regardless of how other people in the group actually behave, otherwise that is a recipe for abuse. And what about defending our brothers and sisters in the Craft? The PoC members of our religious traditions are our brothers and sisters, and they are under literal attack by the power structure. They deserve our support and defense, and more of it than just the words they have been asking for.

        It’s actually not true that the Craft is amoral. Its morals are different from the mainstream, but they are pretty clear, and in relation to the rest of the world they are solidly on the side of the oppressed. I’m sorry you were influenced in your thinking by the person you described, but just because someone is capable of getting some “juice” flowing doesn’t absolve them of anything…nor should they be upheld as a model. As for “Apocalyptic Witchcraft,” it’s one of the most searing moral indictments of the status quo I have read in a while. We must not have read the same essay.

        1. “Perfect love and perfect trust” (sometimes a problematic statement when sex is involved) applies only within the coven, I would suggest, and more than than, only within the circle.

          Funny thing, I have seen the original 1950s-1960s British Wiccans criticized for being a bunch of Conservatives (as in the Tory party), and that used as a reason to discredit them. I am not sure, however, to what extent that is true; some, I think, voted Labour and even Communist. We should be careful about ascribing political views to the Craft as a whole. Nevertheless, the siding with the oppressed that you mention is found in Aradia, so someone in 1890s Tuscany was thinking about it.

  4. Stephanie

    I’m trying to decide where to even begin to address the flaws I found in this post and I’m finding it difficult to even find a jumping off place because it’s like you’re speaking an entirely different language.

    To start with, let’s address the issue of morality and spirituality – for myself, and for a great many people, spirituality informs our morality, and vice versa. To separate those two is akin to asking someone to stop listening to their heart, their god(s). If that is not the case, then why would one of the rules that pretty much most wiccans adhere to is ‘An it harm none, do as you will’. Right there, is a moral lesson – don’t harm anyone, and do what you feel moved to do.

    To bring that back around, when a spiritual group basically says that a portion of their membership’s welfare and voice do not have value, how is that not harm? How can someone who feels marginalized in a group, continue to support it?

    And to speak about this as if it were one voice, and not several and many, who expressed dissatisfaction with the actions of a spiritual group, is personalizing this situation in a way that is beyond callous and insensitive – it’s offensive. Making slighting comments and thinly veiled belittling comments should be beneath all of us, but most especially those who have the privilege of having an audience for their vitriol.

    Last but not least, asking organizations to raise up voices in solidarity on a human rights issue is not a protestant trap – although it is telling that you would think so. We aren’t talking about something as trivial as sales tax, or where you happen to come down on federal reserve interest rate policy – we’re talking about the lives of people who are killed, maimed, and incarcerated at near genocidal rates daily in the united states, supposedly a bastion of freedom. And if that isn’t worth taking a stand for, then that isn’t an organization that deserves to be supported.

    1. “when a spiritual group basically says that a portion of their membership’s welfare and voice do not have value”

      I disagree, as argued above. But when a group (any group’s) members are more focused on “What can this group do for me?” than “What can I give to the group,” then failure is on the way.

      For the record, I’ve never been a CoG member, although I have a number of friends who are.

  5. David Salisbury

    What’s with this passive aggressive attack on CoG members trying to clear away racism within the org? “Social workers with pentagrams?”…we all know who that is and that person is a social justice hero and does more for paganism than most I’ve seen in pagandom. That was not about one persons issue. It was about a whole community asking a 40 year old to hold itself to a higher standard. That was not about personal morality. Not wanting black people to be murdered is a common human ethic, or at least it should be.

  6. “We must look at our world as it is, and it is a desperate and painful ordeal to undergo. Yet the pain of the world is what we are masking by accepting the false dreams of our fallen empire whose jaws still devour even those in its death throes. Before dream we must open our eyes, and wash them clean.”

    That is from Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey, a book you mention here and which I like a lot. In that book, he clearly asks us to work both in the shadow and in full sunlight. He asks us to engage, deeply.

    My magic works both in the mysterious realms and in the manifest world. Oftentimes the two overlap. Separating spirit and matter is a trap, Chas. And yes, it is a trap often made by certain Christian sects. It seems to me that you also are falling into this trap.

    If spirit and matter are conjoined, interpenetrating, not separate, then how should my spirituality not have a care for justice? How should I not care that people get fed, clothed, housed? That Nature of which we are a part is not raped and trampled? How should I not care that together, we’ve built systems of such shocking inequity that government employees regularly beat, harass, rape, and kill members of society with impunity?

    Should a religious organization not have a care for the welfare of its members? Isn’t that part of its mandate? CoG spoke out in favor of marriage equality. Why shouldn’t CoG also speak on racial injustice? Both directly affect their members. Choosing to speak on one sets a precedent to speak on the other.

    In 2013, CoG issued a statement: “The Covenant of the Goddess, a 38-year old Witch and Wiccan advocacy organization, extends its support to the entire LGBT community in its struggle for marriage equality within our country…While this issue is debated in our country’s highest court, we will continue to hold space with our own LGBT members and their families.”

    CoG could just as easily say “We extend support to CoG members who are Black, and we stand with them in their struggle for justice. While these issues are being debated on the state and national level, we will continue to hold space with our own Black and brown members and their families.”

    I’m not a CoG member, and haven’t written on their response to this topic – figuring it was up to them to work it out. Your post however, in its easy dismissal both the topic of –and people who are invested in– racial justice, caused me to voice my concern.

    My religion is never about morality. My religion deals with ethics. My religion –like so many Gods and Goddesses– deals with justice.

    Peter Grey writes: “Love is the war to end all wars, and the war is upon us.”

    I know where I’m standing, Chas. Unfortunately, it now seems that I know where you stand, too.

    1. …and Solar Cross Temple is proud to have Crystal Blanton on our board. She wears a pentacle as a social worker in some of the toughest schools in California. I think that is pretty badass.

    2. Yes, I stand for the Mysteries and the belief that a priest/ess’s first duty is to the gods.

      Beyond that, you know me. And I know that you wholeheartedly support values of tolerance and diversity.

    3. Deborah Bender

      I wasn’t happy when CoG issued the statement about marriage equality, or a previous statement about marriage between more than two people. (I have no objection to people forming those kinds of bonds and getting legal recognition for them; I just didn’t care for CoG speaking in my name on the subject.)

      I agree with you that if CoG thought LGBT marriage was worthy of a statement of support, then consistency, fairness and common decency would direct CoG to speak out firmly on the issue of police killings of unarmed black people. The wording you suggest would have been a lot better than the first statement the Board actually issued.

      My reasons for wishing that CoG would not give out statements about political issues very often don’t have much to do with whether I personally agree with the statements. CoG is like the Quakers, and unlike most other religious organizations, in that it has a longstanding, serious commitment to making its decisions by consensus.

      There are some political issues upon which our religion gives pretty clear cut guidance. Freedom of conscience is one. The right of women to lead autonomous lives in full equality with men is another. Opposition to destruction of ecosystems for private gain would, I believe, be a third. The right of all people to dignity regardless of accidents of birth would be a fourth.

      If CoG’s national board of officers was under pressure to issue a public statement without previous consultation with the membership, I believe they could write a statement about one of the issues I just cited and be pretty confident that the vast majority of members would think it reflected their own views, and the dissenters wouldn’t be too ticked off.

      Not all public issues are so clear cut in their relationship to our teachings. I remember an essay Isaac Bonewits wrote during or soon after the Vietnam War in which he stated that no honorable Pagan would willingly join the military. He heard otherwise from Pagan vets and members of the armed services, who pointed out the many historical pagan religions which gave soldiers and warriors places of honor. Isaac had allowed his political and cultural outlook to warp his understanding of Druidry.

      In an organization like CoG which decides things from the bottom up, rather than the top down, putting out a statement in the name of the organization that a substantial portion of the membership does not agree with is blowing hot air. It’s meaningless because CoG, not being in consensus, is not going to follow up with any action. It’s also disrespectful to the members who weren’t consulted, whether those members are right or wrong in their opinions and their attitudes. People of color, their white allies, and the members who were accused of racism all felt disrespected by the process.

      In this particular instance, the demand from a substantial number of members that CoG speak out about police conduct was at cross purposes with the value CoG places on consensus decision making.
      This is bound to happen frequently, because not all witches are liberals and not all liberal witches derive their liberal values from the Craft.

      I don’t subscribe to the elist on which (I’m told) people who disagreed were hurling insults at each other. I doubt the membership of CoG is entirely free of people who harbor racist attitudes; how could it be? I can’t take seriously any charge that CoG intentionally acts in racist ways or espouses a racist ideology. Between those poles is a vast territory for the exercise of white privilege and cluelessness in an organization that is overwhelmingly white. All the more reason not to issue public statements about such matters.

  7. Christine Kraemer

    I don’t mean this as a slight against CoG, but in my contact with it and in attending a recent Merry Meet, I didn’t see that the organization had much to do with religious practice. Its members happen to be Wiccans, yes, and many practice Wicca as a mystery religion, but my impression was and is that CoG is about advocacy, community, education, and gaining credibility in the mainstream world through interfaith and other work. It is far, far closer to being a political organization than to being a coven. I also do not consider anything CoG does to represent “the Craft”; rather, it represents its members. There are many kinds of Craft. In particular, CoG’s aims have basically nothing to do with the Craft that Grey describes in Apocalyptic Witchcraft, so I’m not at all sure why you’re talking about it in relation to CoG at all. Apples and oranges.

    That many of us were offended by CoG’s behavior around issues of police brutality and racism was not because it failed to issue a statement. It was, rather, that the statement that it issued was passive, tone deaf, and ineffective. It would have been far better to keep silent. However, it is most definitely the kind of organization that releases statements and policies on current political issues, and it has been for years.

    1. Christine, as for “CoG’s aims,” remember that it started as chiefly a credentialing organization for Witches who wanted to perform weddings, make hospital visits, and do other churchy things. The membership requirements were, if I remember correctly, that you identify as a goddess-worshiping Witch and be recommended by somebody. Even some Peter Grey-type Witches might qualify!

      Mission creep obviously has occurred. In my comment to Crystal Blanton, above, I have made other suggestions for issues about which statements may be issued.

      You have to wonder, though, if people run for the door (and this has happened before in CoG, as I recall), the ones left behind might feel a certain sense of relief. But that’s no way to build community.

      1. Crystal Blanton

        This comment you made Chas shows you are not clear on some of the things that have been happening inside of COG over the last several years. INCLUDING a hard look at changing the visioning of the organization and it’s charter. There was a whole thing about that…. a two year project….So with your lack of information, you are speaking from a place about the organization that is filtered from someone else and jaded.

  8. So I write this post about how magico-religious “juice” does not presuppose conventional morality, but the comment thread fills up with comments from current and ex-Coggies.

    Well, OK. That’s the Internet for you.

    A related post at The Wild Hunt really lights things up, but from it I want to extract a quote by former CoG co-first office Kirk White, on the subject of mission creep:

    Part of the underlying problem is that CoG is adrift in its purpose and seeking to regain its relevance. Its foundational purpose was “to increase cooperation among Witches and to secure for Witches and covens the legal protection enjoyed by members of other religions.” Back in 1975 it was hard to connect with other Witches, get ordained, and we were still establishing our rights as a valid, legal religion. It was easy to rally the members around clearly Witch issues but now these battles are mostly won, ordination is laughably easy and we have the internet . . . . But without clear Witch issues, the political polarization of our secular world is invading CoG’s inner processes over which causes to support. Environmental issues, women’s rights, gun rights, and racial inequality have all been split into “liberal” or “conservative” views by today’s media and CoG’s membership, being politically diverse finds itself unable to find consensus — which is how CoG operates — on just about anything. Thus, issues like #blacklivesmatter — originally seen as a “liberal” cause — are almost impossible to agree on quickly, if ever. This is frustrating to those more activist members, and combined with some bad blood left over from previous conflicts, has led to the recent resignations and bitter fighting within some of the more vocal parts of CoG.

    Sounds like a good summary to me.

  9. Chas,

    I just wanted to thank you for this piece, it helped me put a couple of things in perspective again.

    It would have helped more if I had seen it earlier, but that was my goof.

    Thanks again. And please, keep up your writing. You’re an excellent change.

    — NW

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