Numinous and Concrete
Predators in Paganism
[Note: The projected parole date of Benjamin Sangraal is September 12, 2015.]
After the CPS hearing, I wrote a letter to the caseworkers that I was told ended up being read in court.
I've edited that letter for content and am posting it in case others may find it a useful template to start community discussions on ethics and boundaries, to help us get clear on what we believe, or to use should, Gods forbid, the need arise in any official matter. Please adapt it for your use. I recognize that the words below do not reflect the beliefs or practices of all Pagans. Please keep in mind that I was trying to write for people who knew nothing about Paganism and doing so under extreme circumstances at short notice.
X Tradition and Y Tradition are subsets of contemporary Paganism, which is sometimes called neo-Paganism. Pagans try our best to honor Nature as sacred, and divinity as immanent to our cosmos (meaning that the Divine is here with us, all the time, not off in some distant, transcendent place). We find Divine expression in the natural world, in humans, animals, sun, sky, and in various Gods and Goddesses as well. There is a variety of belief and practice in Paganism, which can make things seem confusing. But just think of the variety of people who call themselves Christian, and that might help.
1) Our religion does honor sexuality as sacred. Sexual coercion is not allowed. Anything that smacks of sexual coercion is an aberration. Therefore, sex between children and adults, for example, would be anathema to anyone of our religion who is in her or his right mind and ethically sound.
2) Personal power and autonomy are also cultivated. Any relationship that would seek to put one person under the thrall of another would also be an aberration. No one has authority over another, all we can do is attempt to guide others.
[Edit: I removed one non-essential and confusing sentence from #1. #3, below, dealt with some particulars in the CPS case and certainly would not be useful in many cases. I leave it here in case someone ever needs this sort of statement for any reason.]
3) Our religion has no strictures around medical care. There are those among us who are Registered Nurses and research scientists as well as those who are herbalists and acupuncturists. Therefore, saying that a medical procedure is against our religion would not be true, and would only be a matter of personal conviction. Personal convictions, of course, are often informed by people's religious backgrounds or spiritual inclinations.
In summary: Anyone who abuses a child or adult, or says they cannot do some medical procedure because of their religion is not speaking on behalf of X Tradition, Y Tradition, nor of Paganism in general. They are speaking simply from their own personal convictions or in some cases, from their own personal emotional imbalance.
T. Thorn Coyle is an internationally respected visionary and teacher of the magical and esoteric arts. The author of Make Magic of Your Life, Kissing the Limitless, and Evolutionary Witchcraft, she hosts the Elemental Castings podcast series, writes the blog Know Thyself, and has produced several CDs of sacred music. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!