A COUPLE OF TRUE STORIES
(This article was taken from postings on an international Pagan computer echo. We thought it might be educational for CWR readers.)
If you think you are persecuted and look for it, you are going to find it. I don't personally think that we are being "persecuted" per se I think that there are a lot of people in the world that don't like the things we believe in, but then again there are a lot of people in the world that don't like the color blue.
I was fired for my religious beliefs a few years back. I was doing a wonderfull job and my boss kept telling me how pleased he was with me. It was a one-girl office run by two men, both older, and they were very nice.
My direct boss, the one I worked with most often was a devout Christian. I knew this because sometimes when we were not too busy we would sit and drink coffee and talk together and I heard about his family his church and little things like that. He invited me several times to attend this or that function at his church said he knew some nice young men I might like to meet. <he was very friendly and to this day I still like a lot about him.>
I declined all his offers and after about the fifth one he asked me why so I told him truthfully enough that I was not Southern Baptist. <I hate to lie> I hoped it would be left at that because I didn't want him to start preaching at me. But nooo....he asked me what denomoiation I belonged to and I told him I didn't belong to any. He asked me if I was Jewish and I told him no. So he finally asked if I believed in anything at all and I said yes but that I would rather not discuss it.
About a month or so later my picture was published in the local paper along with the rest of my circle because we had done a public ritual. My boss saw the picture, read the short article, and nearly blew a fuse. He didn't yell at me but he was not pleased that I had 'hidden' this from him, when I reminded him that it really wasn't the place of an employer to ask such questions anyway he again shut up.
I was out of a job four days later. The reason? Work was slowing down so much he just didn't need an office person anymore. Yet when I went back to get my severance check there was a girl sitting there with a nice gold cross hanging around her neck. She had been told that I quit because I had a better job offer and she talked to me for a bit. She was in my boss's Sunday School class.
There was no way I could prove that he fired me for my religion. He gave a different reason, and the young lady could have been there only helping him get a few things in order at the last minute. What he did was not legal nor was it moral but it still happened. And unless I had had lots of money to fight a legal battle at the time I couldn't do anything about it and honestly taking it to court may not have worked either.
One more story. Sitting in Denny's reading a New Age magazine, a man walks over and asks me if I don't know that all that stuff is 'Satanic.' I told him that no I didn't know that and didn't agree with him and went back to reading. Three of my friends were there and we were all wearing pentacle necklaces.
The man didn't go away but stood right there at our table and started preaching to us. We tried to be polite and at the same time catch the waitress' eye. I kept telling him that I was happy he had such peace in his path but that I did not want to follow the same one.
The waitress finally got the manager to come ask the man to leave, and as he was turning to go he cursed us all and told us we were going to hell. I had had about enough and just simply said God bless you sir. He lost it, turned around and spit in my face, screaming something about me using God's name when I knew nothing about it. My friends <all male> wanted to pound his face but why sink to his level? He left, I was a bit shaken up but the whole incident was over.
Now what if that man had hit me? There weren't any cops. The prejudice doesn't stop at just threats; some people act upon it. Sure after he had beat me up I could have called the cops and hauled him in, but I would have still been hurt and bleeding and I would have still <as I was anyway> been deeply wounded inside to know that there was such a lack of understanding in the world.
So all this looks really good on paper but it may not always be true. I don't believe that Pagans as a rule should run around being paranoid that they are going to be beat up, burnt at the stake, or fired from their jobs. But they should always be aware that such things can and indeed do sometimes happen, and sometimes in such a way that you have no recourse.
I believe that people as a whole are basically good. But there are a few whackos out there that would like to see us all burn. The best way to handle them I have found is to ignore them. If we become paranoid and hide then we are letting them win because they don't have to face what they don't like.
If you can't ignore them the best way to answer is with love, even when you are angry bless them, be nice to them, it is much harder to hurt someone that is honestly smiling at you than one that is mocking you.
A.T.C. RECEIVES GROUP EXEMPTION STATUS
Reprinted from Mystagogue Magazine
The Aquarian Tabernacle Church, an American tradition of Neo-Pagan Wicca focussed on providing opportunities and facilities for public worship, announcess the receipt of Group Exemption status from the Internal Revenue Service of the US Treasury Department.
Founded in Seattle on May 1st, 1979, the ATC has concentrated on the training and preparation of Wiccan clergy to facilitate fully-organized, open, public Neo-Pagan congregations and church organizations across the US and Canada. In the intervening years, the ATC under the leadership of its founder, Peter Pathfinder Davis, established the first regularly-scheduled, open, andongoing Pagan public worship opportunities and several seasonal Pagan religious festivals in the Northwest. Although several other Pagan groups followed ATC's lead and have come and gone, the ATC continues its annual cycle of open worship as well as professional clergy training at the church property in the mountains near Seattle. The inevitable growth and stability that comes with a high level of activity and community involvement has not escaped this vital and mature church group. Besides publishing one of the oldest Pagan religious journals, Panegyria, worship and festivals, the ATC also was chosen to represent Wiccs with three delegate seats on the Interfaith Council of Washington, and has a vigorous recognized prison outreach, community outreach program which involves publishing and the operation of "LaPaagan," a recordes hot line providing Pagan information to callers. The church is also actively involved in anti-defamation work both locally and internationally through support and participation in the Wiccan Information Network, and also supports the Center for Non-Traditional Religion, a fully-recognized Pagan ecumenical educational outreach which co-sponsors the August '92 Pagan Church Conference at the Venusion Church's Longhouse Retreat & campground near Seattle.
With the granting by the IRS of the Group Exemption recognition, the ATC is now fully able through affiliation with the ATC Tradition to extend its Federal tax exemption and broad recognition as a bonafide church to other Pagan greoups having similar goals. Affiliation is automatic for all ATC Tradition member groups and is also available to any group in the US with similar goals and focus, namely the sponsoring of public worship and the professionalization of the clergy. (At present, this recognition does not extend to Canadian groups). Inclusion in the ATC TRadition Group Exemption is a relatively simple process, and does not require the customary and extensive and confusing paperwork, the usual several years of answering lists of questiona and waiting, or the newly imposed IRS $500 filing fee. Inclusion is simple and immediate for qualified independent Pagan church groups in the US, with no loss of autonomy. For more information on the requisites or affiliationk, contact Rev. Cindy Ravensong Davis, Archpriestess and Director of the Council of Elders, Aquarian Tabernacle Church, P. O. Box 57, Index, Washington 98256 or phone (206) 793-1945.
One of the most-often asked questions from non-Pagans is "Why do you Pagans and Witches use those weird names. Why can't you just use normal names?"
We decided to put this question to the participants of the International Wicca computer echo, and these are the answers we got:
From: Astara Miremdell (Colorado Springs)
I know some people think that using a magickal name implies that the person is taking on a separate persona and being fake. I don't see this as being the case. The point I'm saying is I use my magickal name to associate myself with my true inner self, that only few people I know and *really* trust see that side of me. It is not that I am a different person, I just have dropped all masks and am letting the person that is really me out. If anything, I am always wearing a mask in public, for various reasons. I don't see that as being different...just more reserved to remain socially acceptable <laugh>.
Paul Seymour (Colorado Springs, CO)
I have three names: 1) my mundane or "given" name for my day to day activities, 2) My "Craft Name", sometimes called an "outer court name" which indicates my magickal persona and is also a summary of my spiritual path, both past and present, and 3) My "Circle name", which may not be used outside of a consecrated Circle, and by which I am known in all my dealings with God/dess.
My "Craft Name" indicates the following:
Durwydd is the probable root for the word "Druid" and means "Oak-Seer" (with a minor spelling adjustment for numerological reasons). Mac means "son of". Tara is a Tibetan Tantric Goddess form, indicating my coming to the Craft via the Tantric magickal path.
I use this name in my public work in and concerning the craft as a means of identifying my spiritual lineage and also to fulfil the several uses for an "alter-ego"; i.e. for inner focus on the task at hand, to identify the differences when I am operating (or attemting to operate) as a servant to the Goddess and Craft for the benefit of the folks around me, etc. This name is also etymologicically linked to my Circle name.
My "Circle Name" may not be given here for the reasons stated above, but it is related directly to my "outer court personna". In the group I last worked with, when entering the circle a person would repeat a rhyming formula announcing their circle name upon gaining admission to the circle and within its boundaries. This formula served as a mnemonic key for preparing to work in a Sacred Space and further served to help the individual to leave the "outside world" outside of the Circle.
This all may be clearer with an illustartion. Paul G. Seymour drives to a Coven meeting. Durwydd MacTara attends that meeting, and ______ participates in the Circle.
Erin (Austin, TX)
I use a magickal name--ONLY in circle. I took it because I got a choice in what monicker represented the magical me. I didn't get a choice in the mundane name. I like the reason that I've heard--it's a representation of how you're a new person in the Craft--but it's not the one I choose when push comes to shove.
I feel that by my circle name I have a closer connection to the Goddess. Circle Name can do things that Lynn wouldn't be able to do in ordinary life. Plus, and this is very important, the Goddess gave me the name in an early ritual. I had never heard the name before, and still don't know anyone else who uses it. She sent me an image to go with it, and I later found out that that image was the meaning of the name.
Oberon (Colorado Springs)
Some of us, granted, use magickal names because of a very real fear of persecution and personal attack. I, perhaps because I am not in a position that is particularly vulnerable to such attack, prefer to think that while my birth name is a part of me and very important to me, embodying as it does a great deal of family history and tradition, it does not necessarily express the larger 'ME', the traveller along the Spiral Path.
My magical name is one that I chose because it speaks to me in a very special way, and expresses to a great extent how I see myself and my relationship to the larger Life.
Ellen Reed (California)
Why do we choose magical names? In my opinion there is more than one reason. Such a name can be chosen at Initiation or Dedication to symbolize a rebirth into a new way of life. For some, it can be a matter of protection, a name to use instead of your regular name. A name can also be a statement of intent. Many people use names that represent a quality they wish to gain in their work. My Craft name means "Helper of mankind." A magical name can also represent your ideal self, the spiritual part of your self. I have been known to say "Elexa understands and forgives, but Ellen still wants to blow the SOB away!"
My view of magical names is that they symbolize the current and future states of the magician. They symbolize what we have achieved within ourselves, and they symbolize the ways in which we want to grow. By using these Names ourselves, we remind ourselves of these things, and enhance our abilities grow in these ways (through a form of subconscious positive feedback).
Blackhawk (Cincinnati, Ohio)
One night, moons ago, I sat contemplating my given name, and realized that this label had been placed upon me long before I was capable of understanding the significance of the action. Here I was, barely out of the womb, and my parents (whom I love greatly, so I want to point out that I don't hold the action against them) chose a name that THEY wished to call me. Of course, I wasn't capable of rendering an opinion at the time, and by the time I was, the name had stuck. But that night, I wondered what name I would have chosen for myself, had I been given the chance. A voice very clearly said, "BlackHawk" in my mind. Was it the voice of the Gods? My spirit guides, or Totem spirits? Only my wandering imagination? Who knows? My name had come.
Hmmm...why do I use a magical name? Many reasons. Firstly, it represents a side of my nature that is made "special" because it is reserved strictly for the religious aspects of my life. A part of me that, when I use it, it reminds me why I'm there. My circle name is for circle only (and these echos of course) and it doesn't get used anywhere else. It represents to me the "search" for wisdom and knowledge, about myself, about the world, and therefore it has great meaning to me.
On a purely practical note, I could use my real name and I'm not really afraid to do that, but I started posting under this name long ago and it is as much a part of me as my "real" name is when I deal with the mundane world of work.
Also, living in a very conservative city (San Diego) it is probably best that not too many people know what I'm about. I'm a very private person anyway and the use of a Craft name helps me keep my private life private. There are still those who would persecute anyone practicing anything other than the "correct" version (whatever that may be) of Christianity. Until such time as the level of intolerance towards non-Christian religions becomes much lower I believe I will continue to use a Craft name.
I use a "Circle name" in all matters pertaining to Wicca and Paganism for two reasons. First, Adrienne, my magical persona, is the facet of myself I draw upon to work within pagan contexts. I am showing the part of myself I call Adrienne.
The second reason is I do not wish to be identified as pagan / Wiccan in all areas of my life. I have ambitions to become something other than a "witch (fill in the blank)". I would like to become a published author. It matters not to me if I am an author who happens to be Wiccan, but I do NOT want to be known as a "Wiccan writer". I prefer to keep my legal identity out of international pagan forums, since I do not know everyone in it and therefore, cannot trust that my wishes will be respected in this matter.
I use my mundane name when I'm dealing with the mundane world. For me, though the Craft isn't mundane - it's VERY special, and means that the workaday '9-5' existance doesn't intrude into it. I also use the name Puck because, for me, it connects me with the God energies of that name, which is a very old name, and one that means a lot to me. I chose Puck because it's easy to pronounce, and I like it. It's also, (as I stated before), one aspect of our God that I connect with. I could use my regular name, but it gives me a special feeling of knowing that when I use Puck, it's not something that is part of the mundane world, but one of the Gods, and not to be used lightly.
You asked why we Wiccans use "silly" names instead of real ones; I resent my Wiccan name being called "silly", but I will enlighten you as to its purpose in my life.
My chosen Goddess is Artemis, who was born on the island of Delos, which makes her a Delian. That areality (coined from the word 'nationality') gave her the name "Delia" among the locals of Delos. Of course, the Goddess has many other names, according to her many exploits and interests, but this is the one that spoke to me. My last name, also from the Mediterranean area, is 'della Piana', and by changing only one letter (and dropping the ending), I become Delia. To demonstrate that the corruption of my name betters my view of myself: the L (commonly seen as a digression from any straightforward venture) converts into an I (which grants me inner vision), thereby removing obstructions from the path of my continued quest of spiritual wellness, while conferring upon me the gift of pacific self-direction.
I have been a solitary worshipper for over 30 years, and my Wiccan name was known only to me during that time. There was no reason for anyone else to know it, as I had no contact (that I was aware of) with any other Wiccans. In the last three years, I have been reaching out to embrace the community of Wicca across the country. I have begun to attend open circles with other Wiccans, and have already divulged many of the "secrets" I used to guard jealously. The last of the secrets is my Wiccan name.
I am using this conference and your request to begin the disclosure of my WHOLE SELF. I am grateful to you for allowing this circumstance of growth in my Self, and you may use my comments publicly, if you wish.
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