Witchcraft as Heresy Against the Church

 

“The idea of witchcraft-as-heresy remained an element of Puritan belief for most of the century. However limited, it evidently had some impact on popular belief, since opposition to the established church was mentioned in witchcraft testimony against twenty-eight women…Their witchcraft is best understood in terms of the centuries-long tendency of Christian authorities to see their adversaries–especially their female adversaries–as witches…It was their perceived dissatisfaction with the religious system–and by extension with the religiously defined social system-that linked them to their sister witches.”

The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol F. Karlsen

Although this book discusses Colonial New England and the witchcraft trials, the thing that remains the same today is that Christian authorities still view their adversaries as performing witchcraft. They may not have the authority to hand us over to the police to be burned at the stake, but they do perceive our criticism of the church as walking with Satan, or working with him hand in hand.

 

My Religious Guilty Pleasures

Yesterday I magically found something called the Feminist Mormon Housewives Society which is a group of progressive Mormon housewives whose mission is to provide: “A safe place to be feminist and faithful.”

This isn’t a joke. These women are Mormon housewives who are feminist and progressive. They’re rethinking the way their Church talks about women and women’s roles in the home and the world.

I’ve only observed their discussions for a day and talked to a few of them, but they struggle with the same things that any mom’s and housewives struggle with. For example, one mom was feeling resentful over all the housework, cooking, and chauffeuring she had to do. The other wives (and a husband or two) chimed in and most of them had incredibly progressive ideas about what she could do to solve her problems. They were all thinking critically about what their Church told them, versus what worked and didn’t work.

I’m so intrigued by the community here. I’m also so intrigued because I know many Mormons and some of them hold very tightly to traditional gender roles. I even dated a Mormon who explained to me that I’d need to convert to Mormonism in order to marry him and I’d need to give up writing about sex, religion, and well, virtually everything I write about.

These fMh women are questioning gender roles and they’re encouraging their church to be more progressive. One woman posted a link to an LDS Basic Manual for Women: Developing Employment Skills.  The woman said that the church needed to step up and become more progressive–this isn’t the 50’s. I completely agree with her. It was intriguing to hear her say that.

I think what’s fascinating about the Internet is that it provides for many of us a community we may never have had living in our own cities, working at our jobs or going to school. The reason fMh Lisa started this community was because she didn’t have anyone she could talk to about certain issues. She was more liberal and progressive than many of the people she knew, so she turned to Google and typed in “liberal Mormon.” She then found a few blogs and after awhile decided to form a community specific to her own needs.

Blogging has done that for me–helped me form a community that’s specifically met my needs (and hopefully the needs of some of you). We’re a more progressive, liberal crowd here which is different from many of those who are recovering from Spiritual Abuse. Sometimes those other communities got too “Jesus-y” for me and I needed a place to be open and honest and candid without being judged or reprimanded. I’m interested in being me first and foremost and I don’t like a lot of the spiritual talk. And I hate being told what to do or what to think.

So cheers to Feminist Mormon Housewives! You’ve made my week. <3

I Feel Like You Should Know

I feel like you should know…

  • That even if you don’t have ‘faith’ anymore, you’re a pretty awesome person. There’s nothing wrong with you. Don’t worry about what others are going to say about you behind your back. Be who you are and those who love you for who you are will come out and show you they like you no matter what.
  • Don’t let anyone criticize you for who you are. Be proud. Wear your quirks like a yellow raincoat. If someone doesn’t like the good, healthy decisions you’re making, remove them from your life.
  • Christians can be bullies too. Don’t take shit from anyone–no matter who they say “called them.”
  • Critical thinking is winning. Walk into the murky pool of doubt, wade deeper into the unknown and swim with the questions. You’ll find that the water will become clearer the longer you’re there.
  • Just be who you are. If you don’t know, you don’t know. If you do know, then you do know. If you’re not comfortable talking about your faith or lack thereof, or questions, to others just let them know you’d like them to respect your privacy on the matter. If they don’t listen, tell them to shut the fuck up. 🙂 If you put a smiley face after it, or smile after saying it, it takes away the severity.
  • You’ve overcome a lot and you’re going to have a better life on the other side. Whatever side that is and wherever you land. You might land in a fluffy frosting-filled town of happiness (and if you do, I’d like the drugs you’re on, please). You might land back in reality where shit sucks and life happens and you’ve got bills to pay. Just remember, wherever you land, after we go through dark times in life, we’re very strong people. If you’re not there yet–you’re still in the dark times–it’s ok. You’re stronger than you think you are.  You’ll make it. Life will be good again.

 

 

Biblical Women Who Behaved Badly

I liked the women who behaved badly, and I liked the women who made men behave badly. I liked Jael, the warrior woman, who in the book of Judges lured the enemy commander Sisera into her lair, fed him a soporific potion and then hammered a peg through his temple and left him for dead. Jael was a heroine, a seductress in the service of God, but that makes her a minority of one: all the other self-actuating, sexually compelling Bible women were presented as Satan’s spawn.

Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel (author of Prozac Nation)

*Emphasis my own

Fuck You Trolls

To all of you who think I’m crazy, or over the top, or a witch or a heathen, I’m not writing for you.

I’m writing for me.

I write for myself–to explore what questions I have, the uncertainty inside, and the discovery of what answers and questions the world offers me.

I’m not writing for power because power isn’t what I’m looking for. I already have power. I’ve had it since I was a child: the power to Be, the power to Do, the power to Love.

While I may not have answers for you, what I can offer you is friendship along the way. Many of my readers have found me on Facebook (where I’m at everyday) and we’ve become friends. Some of us are as close to best friends as two people can get. Some give me a laugh when things are tough. Some of them enlighten me to ways of thinking and books and blogs that I never knew before. We’re all growing and learning together. We’re a community, not a hierarchy or a totalitarian regime.

I’m not your pastor, your leader or your Old Testament God.

I may not be your pastor, your leader or your Old Testament God but I am a Bitch, a Feminist, a Sexual Being. I am a strong woman; I am empowered; I am contemplative; I am smart. But (those of you who call me a heathen/witch), I’m not yours for you to dictate who I am, what I should live like, or what I should believe in. Those decisions are just not yours. A person’s beliefs or lack of beliefs are his or her own. They’re none of your goddamned business.

And so it is with people’s personalities: we’re not here for you to change. My friends here are who they are and they’re amazing human beings. They’re not here for you to try to bully or badger or misunderstand. Here, we have an open community, but we also have rules in place to make sure people feel safe.

So, in the fashion of the past months, Fuck You Troll. If you’re trying to convert us (from our de-conversion or liberation), you can just leave.

For those of you who are out of the cult, you’ll probably be familiar with a TV show called South Park. If you’re not, here’s a video clip of Whale Whores, Season 13, Episode 11. The reason I’m showing you this is because my boyfriend has gotten the phrase “Fuck You Dolphin” stuck in my head. So, then when I say “Fuck You Troll”, I’m of course saying it in the South Park Japanese Dolphin Killer’s voice. And no one is going to think this is as funny as I do, but Fuck You Dolphin.

 

 

Sexual Energy Cannot Be Contained

So Delilah was instantly heroic to me–perhaps this was misguided, perhaps this was just an attempt to find a God who looked like me–but the rabbis were all telling me that she was a witch, a bitch, a termagant, a whore. There were other problem women in the Bible, the main problem being that their sexual existence could not be denied, and while everything about a woman can be controlled and regulated–right down to whom she is or isn’t allowed to sleep with–her elusive, effulgent sexual anima, her ability to project lust and allure, cannot be contained by any set of rules. It just is. Sexual energy, like the warmth of the sunshine or the green color of grass, is an indigenous characteristic with exogenous manifestations that can’t be stopped, can’t be helped, and should not be blamed…Nothing the rabbis said had any real impact, but certainly I later noticed that even at this late date, women perceived to be sexual–never mind sexually powerful–are scary.

Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel (author of the bestselling book, Prozac Nation)

Witches and Witch Trials

Witch Burning
Witch burning. Illustration from a mid 19th century book.  Photo Credit: Mullica

I’m doing some research for the book I’m writing. The research is on witches and witchcraft and the book I’m studying (in addition to others) is called The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England  by Carol F. Karlsen. It’s a Norton Edition written in the late 80’s and filled with many great chapters. The one I’m currently stuck on is called Handmaidens of the Devil, describing religion’s role in the witch hunts. Religious rituals and symbols strictly guided gender roles, as they do today. Then, as now in fundamentalist Christian sects, women weren’t supposed to dissent or speak up against church leaders. For them to vary away from the norm in their gender roles was to call themselves into suspicion. If they varied from the norm and challenged the beliefs of God, they were suspect to being called a witch. However, certain factors had to be in place–typically the woman was unmarried, usually older and sometimes extremely poor or extremely wealthy.

If you can pick up a copy of this book, or something similar, I highly recommend it.

Writing a Book

Writing a book is intimidating. I’m not sure why I’m so scared of something so permanent, but I am. I’ve been very cautious when working on my book. It’s part of the writing process, I’m sure. My process has been long and arduous, which seems common for first time novelists.

Yet my book is real. It’s true, so there’s the commitment to myself and my readers to be honest on the page. Honesty can be very scary. I feel it’s enlightening, though. The more honest I am with myself the more honest I am on the page and the book becomes something very different than what I first imagined it to be.

Life Isn’t a Bed of Roses

The thing about life is, you have to accept it eventually. Accepting life as it is is what makes us happy. Sometimes you have to be older to figure that out. When you’re younger you try to change people and change what’s given to you, my Mom said as we drove home from Shafter yesterday morning. When we just accept life as it is and accept people, we can truly be happy.

I am not completely sure I understand what that means, but my mother sure does. She knows a lot about the meaning of life. She knows all the right things to say and she gives me a lot of courage to keep plowing through the hard shit that keeps coming my way. We all know that life gives us a lot of tough shit to get through and I’ve been no stranger to that.

I’ve always been one to try to change life and try to change people who are in my life. I thought if only my parents would change and stop fighting, life would be good. Or if my dad stopped nagging at me about how much makeup I wore or that I was drenched in perfume, things would be more pleasant. And maybe they would’ve been. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to accept my parents for who they are and realize that it’s okay for them to be who they are. We’ve all kind of relaxed into our lives and our familial roles and we’re quite comfortable together. We get along well. We love each other.

I suppose that life is just about essentially dealing with terrible circumstances that are sometimes given to us. It’s not that we have to have an awesome attitude about it, like I was once taught in Christianity. I think that’s bullshit. Forget having a great attitude and smiling in the rain and just get through it alive. I think that if you can just get through the problem without killing yourself, then you’re doing pretty awesome. Fuck all that smiley-happy-people nonsense and just stay above water.

Life isn’t a bed of roses. Life is sometimes a “shit sandwich.” Sometimes people die or sometimes tragedy befalls us without any rhyme or reason.

That doesn’t mean, as Christianity would like to teach you, that you’ve done something wrong or you’re not blessed. It’s just a fact of life–different circumstances, many times outside of our control, can fuck things up and leave us with tragedy or pain to deal with. It’s not always something we can control or change. Sometimes we just have to accept the shit we’re given and work through it.