Cross and Pentacle: Two religions at the crossroads

I was a Jesus Freak, a passionate theologian, and a Southern Baptist minister. I worked hard to convert pagans. The pagans won.

Discovering magic as a witch with an intimate knowledge of western christianity I explore the juxtaposition of these two faiths. Christianity and paganism alike are undergoing dramatic changes with parallel trends, conflicting challenges, and a growing concern for interfaith dialogue.

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The Drama of Victim, Hero, and Villain


"The abuser won. Everything is back to the way it was before."


Those were my thoughts immediately after the 2016 US election. I had stopped writing, trying to hide from the abuser in the White House. I re-embraced the survival tactics I developed as an abuse victim during my marriage. If I just keep myself small, compromise my boundaries as needed, and avoid making others angry, I will stay safe, right?




I (re-)learned that lesson the hard, hard way last year. I assumed the identity of a victim, but it didn’t keep me safe. It did the opposite for me. I kept landing in the role of victim in relationship after relationship. How did that keep happening?


Victims and perpetrators have a way of finding one another. I’ve learned this from listening to friends who work with battered women. After she leaves him, she goes back to him, then she leaves again, she goes back again, leaves, goes back... Maybe eventually she leaves for good. But then she meets Prince Charming who is not at all like her abusive ex, except eventually he is, so she leaves him, and goes back, leaves, goes back, leaves and finds someone else who is not at all like her ex, except when he is... The pattern repeats itself, and even though she longs to be free, she ends up in a similar situation, again and again.


Photo by Jason Leung on UnsplashWe all have a tendency to repeat the patterns with which we are familiar, even if we hate them. And in our repetition, we attract those eager to fill vacant roles so we can re-enact our patterns together. We don’t do this consciously, and patterns are no excuse for unethical behavior. Even if we are repeating an old pattern, we are not responsible for those who use our patterns to take advantage of us. A victim is never to be blamed for the actions of an abuser. Never. Even if we are playing out the same pattern as before, that doesn’t reduce the abuser’s responsibility for their own actions. Abuse is never the victim’s fault. Exploring patterns between victims and abusers doesn’t negate the responsibility each abuser carries for their actions in every individual case.


Exploring patterns can be helpful in identifying why we find ourselves repeatedly in the role of the victim. A few years ago I learned about the Karpman Drama Triangle, a tool which has become invaluable to me. The Triangle outlines the dynamics between a Victim, a Persecutor (Villain, Abuser), and a Rescuer (Hero). The Victim’s line is poor me, the Hero’s is let me help you, and the Villain’s it is all YOUR fault.


The Triangle can help explain dynamics between individuals in specific situations, but it can also describe an ongoing dynamic. We can get trapped in the Triangle and see everyone, including ourselves, as always occupying one of the three roles. We lose the ability to see that we are so much more than the roles of the Triangle. We identify others with one of the three roles, and ourselves as either the Victim or the Hero. We channel our role and project the corresponding roles on others.


After the election, I got trapped in the Triangle. I saw myself as the Victim in light of the Villain in the White House. I secretly longed for a Hero to help me. And I had no idea I was trapped. I tried building a new community from that place within in the Triangle. Looking back now, it seems so obvious that I was bound for disaster.


b2ap3_thumbnail_raj-eiamworakul-386769-unsplash.jpgIt wasn’t long before my Hero came. He showed up in more than one person, sometimes staying only briefly, but at least one Hero stayed with me at all times.


He came to my home and my community, offering help. He helped with moving, with building projects, with work on the land, with community planning. He took a load off of my shoulders and oh, was I grateful. I trusted him deeply and welcomed him into my life, into my community. He visioned with me, offering his ideas for my home, my family, my community, my land. I loved it!


Sometimes he’d have ideas that didn’t fit with our vision. Sometimes he made suggestions that didn’t work. I’d politely tell him “no, thanks”, thinking nothing of it.


But he didn’t like that. We’d disagree peacefully at first, him accepting that not all of his ideas were going to be implemented. But the more we disagreed, the more disagreeable he became. He’d want to know why I didn’t love a particular idea of his as much as he did. He’d demand a better reason for my disagreement than the one I’d given. He’d tell me that I must not understand his plans, for if I did, I’d surely agree with them. He’d laugh at my “silly” objections. He’d mock my “stupid” reasons for disagreeing. If I insisted on my point of view, he’d tell me I was being irrational. If I said “no” to something he wanted, he’d bring it up again at a later time. If I told him I’d already said “no”, he’d insist that our previous conversation was a figment of my imagination. He concluded that my memory was pretty unreliable. He implemented plans we had rejected in a meeting, claiming the decision had been a misunderstanding.


My Hero had me doubting my own sanity. I could no longer decipher what was real and what wasn’t. I was devastated thinking that I could no longer trust my memory. I felt lost, losing my sanity, losing my grasp on reality, losing my sense of self, losing, losing, losing.  


Eventually I realized how familiar all of this felt. I had been in this place before. I knew that feeling inside my head. Thoughts colliding like that time back in Berkeley, when an oncoming car swerved into my lane and totaled the car I was in. That feeling when I stumbled out of the broken car and couldn’t tell if I was injured, if my partner was injured, if I was going to be OK. The smoke that seemed to be coming from everywhere all at once, and the road that was in front of me but was behind me just a minute ago and somehow I got turned around by 90 degrees or 180 or maybe none at all. That spinning headache that set in the moment I sat down and thought about what had happened and didn’t want to think about what would happen next.

b2ap3_thumbnail_ben-cliff-230075-unsplash.jpgIt felt like I was in that car wreck again, over and over, day after day. I hadn’t felt like this since I left my abusive ex-husband. I was in a crazy-making situation. My “no” didn’t matter. My concerns, worries, and thoughts were being ridiculed. My boundaries were seen as something offensive that needed to be defeated. That could mean only one thing: I was in a controlling, abusive situation again.


My Hero was no Hero anymore. My Hero had become a Villain.We were playing roles in the Karpman Drama Triangle. I was living my role, the role of the Victim. I had invited others to participate as the Hero, and they did. But instead of helping me step out of the role of the Victim, they took advantage of my position. The Victim resides in the one down position. Both Hero and Villain are in the one up position. Either can exercise control over the Victim, if they so choose. By inviting a Hero, I’d also left myself open to a Villain.


I was playing out the Triangle, again and again. As I said, my Hero wasn’t just one person. The first Hero came to help with a building project, and when he seized control and disregarded my “no’s”, another Hero stepped up and put the Villain in his place. The first Hero-turned-Villain left, and I felt nothing but gratitude and admiration for my Rescuer. But then the cycle continued.


I had been caught between Hero and Villain, struggling against the latter, enlisting the help of the former, sometimes exchanging the people, but never the game. The only way out was to quit the Drama Triangle. In my next post, I’ll explore how a combination of doing personal shadow work, having amazing human allies, and working some powerful magic shattered the illusions and got me out of the of Drama of Victim, Hero, and Villain.

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Born and raised an evangelical Christian in Germany, I joined the Jesus Freak movement as a teenager and became a passionate evangelist and worship leader. No one was surprised when I went to the US at age 19 and came back a tattooed and pierced fundamentalist Christian, betrothed to a "Chrispie" (a Christian hippie, that is). I was a virgin the day we married. Five years later I graduated bible college with highest honors and post traumatic stress disorder. I deepened both my theology and trauma on the road by traveling the country in a big yellow school bus. For three years I lived as a nomad, playing music and leading bible studies, from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. I learned that Christianity in America encompasses a wide range of beliefs and practices, from Amish groups casting demons out of school busses to Roman Catholic priests breaking into government buildings. I saw Jesus in the oddest places. And then everything changed and I ended up a polyamorous Witch in a Pagan community in California.


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