Cont'd from Part 2 ...
This is my third, final article about Pagan families persecuted nationally by Departments of Social Services, and highlighting the plight of one South Carolina family in particular.
Their words are poignant, and their ongoing pain is palpable:
"We stay in remote places, such as deserts, plains, and frozen wastes. We hide any identifying info and frequently change our appearance. Sometimes we pose as illegal 'aliens', as people seem to stare straight through us then. We've found ways to control our e-addresses so that we appear to be simultaneously computing in many states and countries. And we use planted spies to give DSS misinformation about our status and location."
This is what it's like to be on the run from a governmental agency supposedly tasked with helping families. In order to survive a situation like theirs, you have to learn to lie about who you are, where you are, and where you come from — to exploit others' prejudices to ensure your own safety, and to use others to get your needs met — all of which Pagans find ethically repugnant.
"We can't come out of hiding unless our son wins an appeal, and his lawyer has said it may take up to 2 years before this happens. If we are caught before then, we would likely spend a few years in jail awaiting our respective trials. The cop who's aided DSS against us has said that if we land in an S.C. or N.C. jail, he'll see to it that we won't last a month."
As implausible as it may seem, that people in positions of power would actually threaten a mother and father in this manner, my long experience helping such families has proven that police and prosecutors often threaten families with all sorts of promised horrors.
"We've learned so much since all this started. We've learned that for a persecuted people, Pagans have very limited systems in place to help their own in times of trouble. Some seem afraid to admit that Pagans are being aggressively persecuted. Some give vague verbal support but do nothing physically to really help us out. The worst are those who actually collaborate with our persecutors . These seem happy to offer up fellow Pagans as long as they themselves can keep playing dress-up at gatherings. Your help notwithstanding, we feel utterly betrayed by our own kind."
I have seen this phenomenon play out countless times when Pagans are in dire need of help. Pagans rail about the injustice of the Burning Times, but few of us act to help Pagans being persecuted in modern day times.
If our religion has any real hope of surviving for more millenia, we must stop shunning magical folk when they need us the most and rather, respond in unity, with compassion, whenever one of us needs aid.
"If we win our legal cases and sue the people responsible for persecuting us, we plan to fund Pagans that find themselves in our position. If we do not win, we will have to keep living reclusively in remote places."
It is remarkable that this father still cares for Pagans at all, and further proof of his good nature and legal innocence that he yet wants to help others if he ever gets the chance.
Many Pagan communities have set up legal defense funds, but until we as a united front challenge the legalized repression that supports our persecution, this approach seems merely a band-aid when a statin is what's really needed to stop the heart hemorrhage.
Pagans must raise awareness about America's dirty little secret; we must work hard to repeal state laws that give prejudiced judges, police and social workers sweeping power to break up families who refuse to be branded bad parents for raising their children in Pagan fashion.
"If we summed up all we've learned, we'd tell Pagans to never trust their government or law enforcement, and that DSS is not their friend. Make careful, wise decisions whenever you encounter the powers that be. Resist authority, folks, as its purpose is repression and the furtherance of its own agenda, whatever an authority considers that agenda to be at any given time! Keep the Old Ways. Refuse to give up your rights! But ever remember that laws are designed to control citizens and make criminals out of many of us (1 out of every 99 U.S. adults in the U.S.A. now lives behind bars). While my words may come across to you like some crazy conspiracy theory, they are nonetheless true. It happened to us, and it could happen to you."
This is the last in this series. Lady Passion will continue with articles on Wicca & Spell Work coming up next month.
Lady Passion is co-author of The Goodly Spellbook: Olde Spells for Modern Problems and High Priestess of Coven Oldenwilde in Asheville, NC. She may be reached via: www.oldenwilde.org