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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in advocacy

Here in the Deep South, it's been a rough few months for women's health. The passage of a draconian anti-abortion law -- despite the courageous efforts of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis and her allies -- has led to the closing of several women's health clinics, and will lead to the closing of many more. In Arkansas, one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country was signed over the summer, banning the procedure in most instances later than 6 weeks. At no other time in American history since Roe v. Wade have women's reproductive rights been so under attack.

A large portion of the work I do as a Feminist Witch centers on securing social justice for women, including the right to bodily autonomy and self-determination. I see my pro-choice politics as a logical extension of my spirituality. Part of what draws me to Feminist Craft is the idea of empowerment through ritual and magick, and my feminist politics hold that we can never be truly empowered until we have control over our fertility -- from having the ability to prevent or terminate a pregnancy, up to and including the ability to make our own choices about how, when and whether we will birth and raise children. Although I am committedly child-free, I am passionate about reproductive justice for all -- not just choice but justice in terms of access to resources that allow us to make choices.

October marks an annual campaign called 40 Days of Prayer to End Abortion, led by many conservative Christian groups. These groups hold prayer circles in their homes and outside women's health clinics and pray for an end to abortion. Pro-choice Christian groups have formed a counter campaign, 40 Days of Prayer to Keep Abortion Legal. Given the number of pro-choice Pagans out there, I have launched my own event this year: 40 Days of Ritual to Keep Abortion Legal.

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  • Susan Harper
    Susan Harper says #
    Thank you, Paola. Jia, I think that's a question that each person who considers terminating a pregnancy has to consider for thems
  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    Since it seems that Jia has confused us when commenting I wanted to take a moment to applaud your response Susan. It's sad to me t
  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    I support your work! I have liked your page as my own page "Goddess Spiral Health Coaching" and also made a post today to share ab

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

If you're old enough, you may remember a television cartoon series from the 1950's called "Crusader Rabbit." He was, as I recall, sort of a Don Quixote-type character - tending to tilt at windmills which most folks would judge imaginary or not worth the effort. Whether that memory is correct or not, it's the way I often feel. Very few people ever seem to share my sense of injustice at the little subtleties in our culture.  

My wife and I receive healthcare in Arizona from the Banner Health organization. Banner is one of the largest healthcare conglomerates in the U.S., managing hospitals and medical practices all over the country. Yet, when we are admitted into the hospital for a procedure and are asked on the intake form to indicate whether we have a religion of choice, only certain ones are on their computer list and they do not include Pagan, Neopagan or Heathen. Most surprisingly, in light of recent acknowledgment by the Armed Forces and the Prison system, the Banner list doesn't even have Wiccan! (We are not Wiccan, strictly speaking, but it's close enough for Jazz. We'd take it.)

Nor can we override the system to have our religious beliefs typed-in. The closest they will allow are Other or Unknown! Kind of insulting. 

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    There are so many reasons to complain about the medical monopoly that this is hardly the biggest problem. I was first struck w
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    I appreciate your frustration with the medical monopoly, Greybeard, as well as your points about dietary restrictions (and yes, I

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Remember that movie Practical Magic? Like many Hollywood movies it features a scene that is key to any witch-themed movie- the inevitable persecution. In a flash back to their youth the two main characters of Practical Magic remember children throwing rocks at them screaming, ‘witch’. It looks almost innocent and most Pagans watching it will shake their heads with a light ‘tsk, tsk’; some may even express a passing sentiment of gratitude that the ‘Burning Times’ are in the past where they belong. To that I have to shake my head and exclaim ‘tsk, tsk- don’t you know they still go on?

 
Witch-hunts may be a relic of the past in Europe and North America, but in African countries they are starting to gain momentum. When Christian missionaries first reached Africa’s shores and started to preach to the indigenous peoples from their own theological perspectives, they labelled indigenous magical practices as ‘witchcraft’ and the practitioners ‘witches’. And over the centuries those words have been incorporated into indigenous languages just as Christian beliefs have mingled with indigenous religious beliefs to create religions that both venerate Christ and maintain a deep respect for ancestral spirits; and keep alive a belief in magic.
 
In the townships and rural villages of South Africa, a whisper of ‘witch’ can incite an entire community to lash out at a family or an individual, with the victims of false accusations being stabbed, stoned, hacked or burnt to death. The victims of false accusation are usually elderly women, but the path to the original victim is all too often littered with the bodies of more victims- children; some as young as a few months old. Lives violently snuffed out because of jealousy and fear.
 
However the inhumanity doesn’t end there. There are survivors of witch-hunts; those who manage to survive the assault or flee in time. Others survive stoning or burning by being expelled from their homes and communities by community leaders, traditional leaders and traditional healers, after being tried in traditional courts and found ‘guilty’ through divination. Those who have been expelled find themselves refugees in witch camps; their plight and very refugee status blatantly ignored by the South African government.
 
But why should this concern you, you may wonder. The accused are not even witches, let alone Pagans, so there is no religious discrimination you possibly could relate to; so why should Pagans of all people be standing up for the victims of witch-hunts?
 
Here in South Africa we have a saying: “Ugogo wami, ugogo wakho nawe” [My grandmother is your grandmother]. Within Paganism there is the predominant belief that we are all connected; we are all woven with the same, single thread of life and by it, bound together. By that regard, atrocities happening to others, no matter how far away, should be spoken out against.
 
The victims of witch-hunts, the elderly and the young who have violently lost their lives to fear and jealousy, deserve to have their deaths recognized and justice served to the murderers. The victims of witch-hunts who survive deserve to be treated with dignity and not live their lives in shame, fear and guilt, away from their homes and families. All victims of witch-hunts deserve to have their plight recognized by government, and government institutions and representatives have a responsibility to curb witch-hunts. At its very core, witch-hunts are not about religious discrimination, they are about the violation of basic human rights.
 

Are you moved to help? Join the South African Pagan Rights Alliance in their annual 30 days of Advocacy against Witch-Hunts Campaign- talk about witch-hunts, speak out against witch-hunts and sign the petition. Together we can help put an end to witch-hunts not just in South Africa, but globally.

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  • Bronwyn Katzke
    Bronwyn Katzke says #
    You are right, it is a phenomenon found in numerous countries; a fact I should have added but seeing as I live in SA my focus shif
  • Your Humble Correspondent
    Your Humble Correspondent says #
    Unfortunately this is a phenomenon not limited to Africa. We see the same sort of thing in the Middle East, India, and Indonesia.

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