I thought the worst news I would hear this morning would be that the power is out. Since Georgia is bogged down in Snowpocalypse 2011 I was prepared for that inconvenience. Power is humming away and phones/internet is on. I switched on my laptop and read the news. My mistake. It’s bad enough ordinary citizens are taking their speculation to the extremes but the NY Daily News has decided to jump to conclusions ahead of it’s readers.
Now there’s a lot of speculation on Jared Lee Loughner’s motives. Is he a Communist? A Socialist? A member of the Tea Party? A disgruntled liberal? A Nazi? Did he have a psychotic break? I think the only question about him that I haven’t seen debated is whether or not he wears boxers or briefs.
The NY Daily News managed to sneak into Loughner’s backyard and take a picture of an odd grouping of items. Obviously it must be a shrine because no one reading this has any odd group of items tucked away in their backyard, do they? In a shed or on a patio? I know my back deck features an antler-less moose, a wingback chair and a kiddie pool.
So the question is, does a bag of potting soil, a pot of rotten oranges, a fake skull (looks like the plastic kind they sell at Halloween) and some old candles make a shrine? According to the NY Daily News:
Experts on Sunday said the elements are featured in the ceremonies of a number of occult groups.
Well the four elements (earth, air, water and fire) are featured in occult ceremonies, but then occult ceremonies are mindful things. The nook is dirty and unkempt. The candles are shoved to one side, there’s debris and dirt clinging to items (indicating they haven’t been used or handled recently or regularly), and there are utilitarian items like plastic pots and potting soil on the “shrine”. The so-called “ceremonial” candles are plain white novenas that they sell at the dollar store and are used for both religious and utilitarian purposes. I’ve both used them on my altar and as emergency lighting in bad weather. The skull and oranges likely have mundane origins as well. It appears to me that someone set a bowl of oranges with decorative skull here from Halloween and forgot about it, just like they set the utilitarian white candles here and potting soil and never gave them a second thought. I don’t see a shrine. I see the remnants of summer forgotten in deep winter, like you might see in any backyard.
If this had actually been an occult shrine it would be cleaner, more orderly and show signs of intentional use. Which it doesn’t. The skull, described by the NY Daily News as “sinister”, looks sad and forgotten. Likely bought off the shelf of a discount store, it’s just another hunk of plastic discarded.
As a Witch, as a Pagan and as an occultist, I see nothing of the occult in this. Only sadness. Mainly sadness because we are so prone to try to paint this murderer in shades of “the other” so we don’t have to contemplate any way he might be similar to us.