Guest Post: Pagan Chaplaincy at Occupy Wall Street

[The following is a guest post from Courtney Weber and Mary Caliendo. Mary Caliendo and Courtney Weber are Wiccan Priestesses living in New York City, who chaplain the Occupy Wall Street movement through the Support and Medic Working Groups. Mary can be reached at and Courtney can be reached at Courtney is also a contributor to the Pagan Newswire Collective’s new blog documenting Pagan and Heathen involvement in the Occupy movement. I hope you’ll join her, and the other contributors, there.]

We are Wiccan Priestesses who have been Chaplaining at Occupy Wall Street.

Courtney’s story:

I became personally engaged with the movement from day one—when one of my Coveners could not attend our September 17th Mabon because he was going downtown to camp in a park that I’d never heard of with “a bunch of other people” to “show Wall Street that we’d had enough.” I didn’t understand what he was doing, but as I am supportive of peaceful action toward change, I applauded his efforts, but didn’t see myself getting any further involved than offering him use of my shower. Within a few weeks, however, I found myself sitting in Liberty Square (Zuccotti Park) several nights a week. It was clear that this was more than a few disgruntled people hanging out in a park. It was an uprising for social and economic justice and in any movement as such, there is a role for Chaplaincy.

People often ask me to explain a Chaplain’s function. “To listen,” is my response. Chaplaincy provides personal support in a way that crosses religious and social barriers. A movement like Occupy needs individuals who are experienced in working with people, attuned to subtle needs, who can help keep a calm and peaceful environment. Quite often, just listening is enough to let people know they are cared about and that working for this movement is worthwhile. Chaplains frequently have a natural inclination toward caring for individuals’ needs and are often quite experienced in things like mediation, delegation and also knowing when a professional mental health counselor, medical person or otherwise should be called into a situation.

There is no typical day in Occupy. I have consoled persons through anxiety attacks and episodes of depression. I have stepped into heated conflicts to mediate and deflect potentially violent fights. I have taken in Occupiers post-eviction who had nowhere else to go. I have helped organize housing. I have stood outside the city jail in the freezing cold all night to support persons arrested in demonstrations. The police brutality cannot be underestimated and quite often, those targeted are small of stature and quite frequently, female. Broken ribs, damaged wrists, head wounds and effects of the ever-present pepper-spray are the norm. While I am not a doctor or mental health professional, I am legal clergy and I am there to listen and to witness. Most importantly, I am someone who cares about these people and about the movement.

Pagan Chaplaincy is a unique animal. Our faiths are widely diverse and do not contain a central belief code. Therefore, what is the role of a spiritual worker whose very beliefs are defined by respecting the personal beliefs of others and not attempting to influence them? As it turns out, this unique quality of Pagan spirituality is an excellent fit for the Occupy movement. There is a prevalent antagonism within the movement toward organized religion. Sympathizing Chaplains of various religions frequently face hostility, many of them often hearing, “Religion is one of the reasons we’re in this mess!” In these sorts of situations, Pagan Chaplains are able to fly under-the-radar. Where one Chaplain might face hostility and rejection in a situation due to their religious affiliations, that situation might be more open to a Pagan Chaplain. Paganism itself mirrors the Occupy movement in its lack of centralization and leadership. Pagan Chaplains are effectively able to get close to the heart of the various matters that come up within the movement as we do not have the same barriers of suspicion and prejudice that face many of our colleagues from mainstream religions.

It is important to remember that this is not a “Goddess movement.” This is a movement for all persons, regardless of their religion. But even in our diversity of beliefs, one common value among Pagans is that balance is essential to life. We do not, however, exist in a balanced age. Occupy is meant to restore a balance that has been lost—both economically and ecologically. One of many objectives of the movement is to call attention to the fact that corporations have for years broken environmental laws and blocked green energy initiatives: ( This in itself is sufficient enough reason for Pagans to contribute to this effort in some way. At the November 17th march across the Brooklyn Bridge, an illuminated message on the side of the Verizon tower stated “Occupy Earth.” For decades, Pagans have spoken about reclaiming Earth. The Occupy movement may just be the socially active opportunity to do that.

Pagan Chaplaincy and the Occupy movement is also providing a unique opportunity for us to continue to show ourselves as a productive and legitimate faith community. Over the last few decades, countless Pagans have come forward with important blogs and websites and numerous Pride days dot the country festivals every year with the similar desire to present ourselves as “just like everyone else.” But where our desires for acceptance really shine is in connecting with members of other faiths over common goals. Getting to know us not just under the guise of “That Pagan Person” but “Friend and Ally—and also Pagan” is a huge step toward making our voices heard and our practices respected. Divisions melt away under the pressure-cooker goal of making a difference.

Priests and Priestesses, everywhere: Find your local General Assembly. Attend a Working Group session. Holding vigils and rituals are great—but they’re not enough. Talk to the people. Listen to the people. Find them blankets when they’re cold, food when they’re hungry, medics when they need them. Be a witness and share what you’ve seen and heard. Let us join our brothers and sisters of all faiths in making a difference in our communities, our country and our world. So mote it be!!!

Mary’s Story:

My involvement as a Wiccan Chaplain in OWS began when a call for chaplains went out on a private list. I decided to go down and help. The reasons behind it were many yet the solitary reason that prompted me into action is the pure fact that religion has hijacked our government and has produced policies that are discriminatory and marginalizing. For years, Wiccans and Pagans alike have always embraced all colors, creeds and genders long before it became fashionable. Most of us recognize that all creatures that live and breathe on this planet are the Goddess’s children. She is about unity of all living creatures working in harmony. I also knew that I had an obligation as a spiritual person, given I live in New York City, to come out of the underground and by example portray that religion and spirituality is all inclusive of everyone.

On the fated day that I reported to the Medical Tent to volunteer, I was put to work in 30 seconds. I was called to de-escalate a serious situation involving a protestor who felt marginalized due to her emotional difficulties. Mental diseases have such a stigma in this society that a lot of those with these illnesses feel out of place in the greater whole. From that day forward, I built a very close working relationship with the staff of the OWS Medical staff. It was through my on-going relationships to the Medical staff that I learned that I was the first Chaplain to ever volunteer with them. It was comforting to them that I was not biased in any way. Although this surprised me, in reality it did not given the nature of what has been done within the last 10 plus years in the name of religion, god and theology. My work however has not been overtly spiritual, as I chose to work strictly through humanitarian efforts. I never bring deity into the equation when I am counseling a protestor or calming down those who are stressed. I feel if I work from my heart and a place of empathy, the gods are already present. As a result of my observations of the movement and the general feeling of religion; it prompted me along with Courtney Weber, Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone to draft a Chaplain Code of Conduct. It was presented to the medical and support working groups as proposal and passed. Since then I was asked by other Occupies around the country for the Chaplain Code of Conduct that we wrote so that it may be used as a model.

The key to being apart of this movement as a Chaplain is to remain neutral in regards to politics as well as religion. As a result, I have been called upon to liaison with the NYPD, Firefighters, and EMTs. If there is a patient that requires their care to be upgraded, often times the medical staff is asked to leave the tent. As a chaplain, I am able to remain with the patient to ensure that they are treated properly and with respect, I am also allowed to accompany them in the ambulance with a nurse. This also is helpful to the patient because they feel like someone is present that will advocate on their behalf if they are unable to do that for themselves.

As most know from the headlines, OWS has had many difficulties from police officers. These can be quite traumatic experiences for the protestor especially after being pepper sprayed, beaten or contained in pens unable to move. Similarly, there are young people who have never been far from home, living in a tent in the middle of Manhattan surrounded night and day by scores of police. The LBGT community of OWS has found a place where they are accepted and embraced. When that happens, there are realizations of the depth of discrimination, trauma and difficulties that they have encountered in society. I have worked to soothe and support their feelings, trauma and disorientation of all protestors and society in general who came to Zuccotti Park. Even though OWS is no longer encamped in the park, the work still continues in the movement.

The most significant experience that will forever be etched into my mind was the night of the raid. I received a call in the middle of the night from Pauly Kostora, Chief Administrator of the OWS Clinic. He said: I need you down here, we are being raided. People are traumatized—there are police in riot gear are everywhere. I said “I will be right down”. I jumped out of bed and immediately went on Twitter to find out what was happening. I had learned that all subways were closed so I called for a cab to bring me down to the park. Lower Manhattan was in lock down. No one was allowed in and no one out. Contrary to what was cited in the press, the protestors were given less than a 20 minute warning. People were fast asleep in their tents.

When I finally arrived, the driver warned me, “Be very careful. The police look intimidating and ready to enforce their mission with violence.” He gave me his cell phone number and said, “Call me I will come pick you up when you are done free of charge, I fully support this movement and your work.” I profusely thanked him and approached the barricades. There I went up to a group of police officers and said “I’m a Chaplain you have to let me in by law” as I showed them my credentials. The police officer said, “I don’t care, you are not getting in.” I said, “I’m allowed to go anywhere as a Chaplain.” I was then physically pushed away from the barricades with force and the officer told me, “Don’t make me arrest you.” I said, “Go for it. Won’t this be great press and go viral over the internet that you arrested a Reverend trying to assist doctors and nurses with patients?” He turned away and ignored me.

Out of the corner of my eye, across the street, I saw the same thing happening to members of the press. There was a total press blackout. I shouted to a reporter, “ARE YOU with press? I need you to bear witness and document!” I told them exactly what happened. The next thing I knew I was surrounded by cameras. Whether it ever aired or not, I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter, what matters is that I went on record. Shortly thereafter, I got a call from Pauly Kostora and found out his location. I made my way to where he was located inside the barricades. I then told a different officer that I was a Chaplain and needed to get through due to a medical emergency. I got a blank stare passed me, while he was avoiding contact. I received information that the protestors were heading to another park to regroup. I aided them as they came past the barricades comforting and telling them where to regroup. I then was able to talk again to Pauly. I was informed that he was carried out of the medical tent along with a patient that was recently released from the hospital with heart trouble. The patient was ignored and no care was given by the police. During that time, NYPD took chainsaws to the medical tent. They did not check to see if there was anyone inside. A doctor and nurse was inside treating a patient got out in the nick of time. Confiscated from that tent were patient records, 5,000 dollars worth of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment and hundreds of dollars of supplies donated by medical professionals and individual citizens—all of which have gone missing. The pharmaceuticals and medical records were kept under lock and key accessed only by licensed physicians.

The medical tent was one step away from being a completely free clinic to serve the whole of the community protestor and NYC resident. We have numerous doctors of all specialties from psychiatry to pediatricians, nurses, physician assistants, paramedics, social workers and a course a tiny group of Chaplains. People came in scores for free medical care; we filled a vast hole in our society. As middle class resources are dwindling and health insurance premiums are too expensive, all found a place where they can get top notch medical attention.

I do profoundly hope that the work I am doing with OWS Medical will echo through America. Medical care should be a right not a luxury and I pray that the work we are doing will somehow change the course of history so that medical professionals will see the day when they can treat a patient properly instead of having their hands tied by appeasing and treating in such as way that insurance will pay for it. Due to the primary fact that no health insurance was involved at the OWS medical tent, the patients were able to receive the attention and care that has been unseen in this country in a very long time. I am humbled and inspired by the humility and compassion of the all the medical professionals that have volunteered their time and resources. They work full time jobs and then tirelessly work long hours with OWS Medical.

They may have shut us down, but all is not lost. We are currently regrouping and coming up with a new strategy to continue to provide medical services to the community, even the NYPD if they so require.

OWS Chaplain Code of Conduct

Written and Assembled: Rev. Gavin Bone, Rev. Janet Farrar,  Aquarian Tabernacle Church, Eire Courtney Weber and Mary Caliendo –Pagan Chaplains New York , NY USA

  1. We do not preach or proselytize As Chaplains, we provide comfort, support, counseling and consolation to the community as a whole as compassionate people. Our involvement is strictly humanitarian, we actively remain neutral. We do not interject our religious beliefs, cultural view points or self identified biased opinions upon each other, protestors or the community that we serve. We do not attempt to invite or coerce any individual to any religious activities, services or path of belief. While on duty and marked we do not engage in politics or political beliefs of any kind. We continuously scrutinize our own blind spots in order to foster service in a humanitarian manner.
  2. We recognize that there a multitude of paths that lead to the same place. We respect each religion, philosophy and belief as each individual perceives or recognizes a higher power. We honor and find value in the diversity of all beliefs.
  3. Our appearance is vital. We strongly encourage wearing plain clothes and keeping on persons religious symbols to a minimum in order to appeal to all diverse religions, cultures, genders, colors and lifestyle preference so that it will provide an atmosphere of sacred space, equality and acceptance for all.
  4. We recognize that individuals have been marginalized and stigmatized by religions, congregations and society. We actively challenge the perpetuation of any form of social and/or religious domination or oppression. This includes, but is not at all limited to sexism, racism, transphobia, ableism, classism, ageism and any other institutional oppression. We cultivate an awareness of our own economic and/or cultural privilege and the impact it may have on an individual, thus we work to create a welcoming, comfortable space through acceptance, trust and non-judgment for all, while calling out any action of other chaplains that perpetuate oppression.
  5. While on duty we do not solve the issue with prayer, chant or mediation as a first, second or even third line of service; we act only within our scope of universal counseling training, provide comfort, passive listening and safe space. We always partner to the best of our ability with trained support team, certified mental health professionals and/or medics.  We administer to spiritual needs only at the request of the individual.
  6. We recognize that energy is important. We keep an upbeat, positive attitude when dealing with those we service and in our care. Universal kindness, love and compassion are essential to the energy we project. We ask before we make any kind of compassionate physical contact such as hugging, hand holding, etc.
  7. We practice empathy and cultural and spiritual humility by checking your own identity-based assumptions. We seek to listen to individual experiences from a place of openness and non-judgmental religious beliefs, and help people to meet their needs as they define them for themselves rather than our own idea of what might be best. We refrain from assigning a name or gender to a higher power and use universal language(s) in which to express our faith based beliefs so that our language is appealing to all.
  8. We serve with no ego or religious hierarchal structure. We organize ourselves horizontally without religious dominance or hierarchies of command, experience ability or level of involvement. Every Chaplain has equal power in all decisions affecting them
  9. We maintain a high level of confidentiality at all times. We respect the privacy of confession, needs and issues of those we aid and service. We ask the individual in a non-threatening manner prior to the involvement of any medical treatment or any other necessary intervention to aid in any crisis.
  10. At all times we adhere to the Medic and Support Code of Conduct and procedures. We are an active part of the Medic working group and Mental Health sub-working group therefore follow all codes of conduct, guidelines and procedure.

[Again, my thanks to Courtney Weber and Mary Caliendo for sharing their unique perspectives and insights with us. For more on Pagan and Heathen involvement in the Occupy movement, do check the new PNC group blog dedicated to documenting their experiences.]

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  • Mathews55

    The Archdruid said this week on his blog that the government has been planning for a domestic insurgency for a decade. He did not say why, but could it do with the supply of social benefits (i.e. money) drying up? So those police reactions were planned – not in the precinct, but directed from above.

    The Grey Badger

  • Hecatedemetersdatter

    What wonderful, brave chaplains. Thank you for the work that you are doing. Blessings upon you and the Occupy movement

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Thanks to Courtney, Mary and Jason for this slice of OWS life. There’s content here that’s been absent from any mainstream coverage I’ve seen. Including this:

    ‘“Religion is one of the reasons we’re in this mess!”’

    I wasn’t aware of this thread in the OWS tapestry.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Apparently it is, and like the thread of class warfare in the OWS tapestry, it troubles me…

  • CA

    “Thread of class warfare”? The occupation movement is class warfare—the occupiers are late to the battle, and outgunned.

  • Souris

    Funny how class warfare doesn’t trouble you in the slightest as long as the side you consider the correct one is winning. Much like your positions on everything else.

  • Norse Alchemist

    -shrugs- I suppose then, that I am an honest man who doesn’t pretend to hold to the morality of the masses. But tell me Souris, why have you chosen the side you have? Is it hatred of the rich, pity for the poor, or envy that you are not one of those at the top? come now, be honest, if only with yourself. 😉

  • Ryan Smith

    Rage for the victims of the indifference, apathy, and greed of the few.

  • Ryan Smith

    It’s one that sadly is not too surprising. I’ve seen similar sentiments expressed in several places in the movement. Considering how much damage the Religious Right has done to the image of religion in general I’m not surprised, religion is but one of many clubs that has been used to bully and cow the people of this country.

  • Vhelen

    Yeah for Courtney and the others who have been doing this work. The Protest Chaplains NYC are a great group of folks that I have only been involved with on the outskirts. Hopefully, the idea of chaplaincy will move beyond just the occupy protests and into other kinds of protests as well. Having pagans involved is important, because we offer a perspective that is different yet complimentary.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Thank you Jason, this article is very informative.

    Though perhaps not in the ways intended…

    If I might provide an “alternate interpretation” of certain events, based on the accounts of these two women:

    “The police brutality cannot be underestimated and quite often, those targeted are small of stature and quite frequently, female. Broken ribs, damaged wrists, head wounds and effects of the ever-present pepper-spray are the norm. ”

    We have discussed the “issue” of “police brutality” here to death. I have seen clips of “police brutality” (one such clip being a group of protestors with their arms linked being repeatedly hit with pepper spray by an officer). I also know that as a rule, police in these situations are not going to act unprovoked. So in the instance of these “young women” and such, I have to wonder just what were they doing leading up to the “brutality.”

    As for the “only twenty minute warning” before the police raided and removed the OWS, well, that is a tactically sound decision. The OWS in that location had hundreds, even thousands of protestors. Had they been given time, they would have dug in, fortified their positions, and been ready to actually fight the police. This would have made it harder for the police to enact their Lawful Duty, as well as putting lives on both sides into great risk. Force would have been needed to break through barricade, and the standard issue riot equipment would not be enough. More people would be injured, possibly killed. Therefore it was needed to hit when the OWS was not prepared, so as to minimize casualties and so forth.

    The prevention of the Chaplin being allowed in, and the Police further “ignoring” her when she tried to get in are also tactical choices. 1) Allowing someone in who could act as an authority figure and rally the OWS into resistance is tactically unsound and could lead to further injuries. 2) By allowing her in there, she could have been injured and held the police lawfully responsible for her injuries. 3) Ignoring her is a tactic of non-engagement. I can imagine that the clergy woman was not entirely calm in insisting to get back into the OWS site, and by stating clearly she was a part, either in action or support, of the OWS, she had stated that she was part of the group whom they were seeking to Legally Remove under a Lawful Court Order, she was already out of the site and letting her back in would have been a violation of that Lawful Order.

    In all, due to the above and other elements of these letter, while they provide key insight into the OWS and the situation, they are clearly biased. I would council anyone reading them to consider that fact. We should not fall into the trap of “good and evil” but rather see that there are many stories, many points of view, and all have a moral “correctness” to them all.

  • Crystal Kendrick

    You’re inferring quite a bit here. Also, for all your yammering on about legalities, does it not bother you that by not allowing in a chaplain, the police are then guilty of breaking the law that – at least in other comments- you feel needs to be so sacredly upheld? Oh, wait- as long as it’s a law that justifies and enables your particular world view, right? You make me extremely tired, NA.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Well, in that case it’s a matter of two laws. The law says the OWS has to go, and the Law says the chaplain has to get through. So the police have to chose which law to uphold. The fact that they chose not to let affiliate of the OWS in and upheld the court ruling is a tactical one.

    As for the me feeling the law needs to be held up as sacred, I really don’t. I’m not really a big fan of the law. But the Chaplain made a big deal about the legalities, so I was pointing out the legalities involved. I am sorry if the addition of alternate view points and interpretations into this matter makes you tired. You have my sympathies if a singular world view is all the energy you have to maintain, the world is much brighter when you have multiple ones as I do, even if it is tiresome.

  • Crystal Kendrick

    Alternative world views are not what makes me tired, only that you can be counted on to be consistently inconsistent. I’m not going to get into a debate with you, as I feel it would be a fruitless effort, and it would require footnotes and links to earlier comments, which I am in no mood to rehash.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Ah, but there is a method to my inconstancy. And that is that I am not arguing a certain world view. Rather, I point out from the opposing view, so as to question things. And since views are constantly changing, so are my comments. This is why I have an “inconsistent” series of comments throughout this web site.

  • Anonymous

    …and a lot of the time, those “views” have you defending the Conservative position, AGAINST the Pagans…like in this example. Face it: You hate Liberals more than you care about defending Pagans.

    And for the record, where were the Pagan chaplains at the Tea Party events? I saw plenty of “We’re a Christian Nation, dammit!” signs, but no Pagan chaplains…

  • Norse Alchemist

    Bryon, once again you clarify your position that Pagans and Liberals are the same thing, and that Conservative and Christian are the same thing, with no differences.

    I however disagree. I do not see where being “conservative” as a threat to Pagans. Arguably, Pagans would be among the greatest “conservatives” because we are “conserving” the old gods and old ways. But then I don’t believe that religions should be political ideologies.

    I don’t hate liberals, Bryon. I hate dogmatism, intolerance, and hate. The fact that many a “liberals” engages in all these things (yourself included), means that I speak out against them. Because I don’t believe that Pagans have to be liberal, and I want to show those who aren’t “liberal” but still wanna believe and follow the old gods and old ways, that they aren’t alone, and that there is someone who will stand up to the intolerance and hate shown them because they don’t goosestep with the “official agenda” people like you say they have to follow to be “Pagans.”

    I’m not a conservative. I’m not really anything, except maybe the advocate of Loki and Lucifer.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    “So the police have to chose which law to uphold.”

    No, they don’t. They can let the chaplain enter and still evict the campers. You are slipping from contrarian into fantast.

  • Norse Alchemist

    But Baruch, what if the two laws run counter to each other? I can’t imagine that is a non-issue, especially considering the several issues commented on the media where various laws run counter to each other.

    Also, regardless of the “legalities” in question, I don’t see my “tactical” evaluation of the polices’ actions being refuted. So why wouldn’t the police chose one law over the other if it gives them a “tactical” advantage when dealing with the protesters, especially if it would help prevent injuries and allegations of police brutality? So, and I ask this with all humility and honesty, how is that slipping into the fantastic?

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I spent the better part of a decade monitoring a suburban city hall, and saw lots of cases where two laws come into conflict. Eg, zoning: A house is supposed to have so many indoor parking spaces and so much setback from the boundaries. When a lot is too small, the requisite garage would violate the setback.

    A Board of Zoning Appeals decides which law to let slide. The decision is NOT made by the building inspector who discovers the problem — the equivalent of the cop on the scene.

    In any event, my point is that there is no conflict of laws in this case. The cop can follow one law by letting her in, then follow the other by evicted the crowd with her in it; one more live body doesn’t materially affect the latter. It is in imagining a conflict of the laws that you are becoming a fantast.

    I can understand a cop in a tense situation thinking the tactical imperatives of his or her orders outweigh everything else, but that’s not universally true; that’s one reason the ACLU exists. Those of us of a certain age saw, on TV, way too many police “tactical” imperatives taking precedence over the constitutional right of peaceable assembly during the civil right movement to give the cops a blank check on this.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Ah, thank you. That explains it better. I will still side with the tactical (mostly because I doubt it would have been nonviolent had the OWS been allowed to react), but I understand your position on their actions. Thank you again

  • Flame Bridesdottir

    Can you explain to me what sort of “tactical advantage” a trained, heavily armed police officer who already has the advantage of surprise needs against untrained, unarmed civilians? Also, how does this “tactical advantage” help prevent injuries? I’m not seeing a correlation.

  • Norse Alchemist

    @Flame, a very good question, thank you.

    The main tactical advantage the “heavily armed and armored” police officer gains by the advantage of surprise is that the protestor remains unarmed. Should the Police have announced their “raid” say 60 minutes before hand, the Protestors could have easily gathered various items such as placards, signs, and various other materials like bricks and rocks, to use as weapons, and to use their various camping equipment and other objects around to create defensible positions, which would have required large amounts of force to break up and into.

    By preventing this, the police then have to use less force to get to the protestors. They don’t have to worry about potentially lethal weapons in the hands of armed resistance determined not to leave peaceably. They would not have needed to either storm fortifications or use things like fire hoses to break them up, thereby sending objects flying about with enough energy to seriously hurt people. By catching the protestors, unorganized and mostly asleep or just waking up, they capture them before any serious counter violence can be initiated. Thus the police are not injured, and the protestors are not injured as the police are forced to over come the violent resistance.

  • Flame Bridesdottir

    I should have been clearer. I was referring to the “tactical advantage” that you claim the police gained/were maintaining by not allowing entrance to the Chaplain. If you’ll notice my post says “who already has the advantage of surprise” (referring to the officers), so I wasn’t asking about the “tactical advantage” of surprise but about the “tactical advantage” gained by denying lawful entrance to a Chaplain, and how denying the Chaplain lawful entrance prevented injuries.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Ah, my bad. I believe I addressed that in another comment, but here goes.

    The Chaplain would have provided a figure of authority that could a) warn the protestors (much like Paul did when he shouted “The British are coming!). Secondly, as an Authority figure that the members of the OWS could recognize, she could have potentially rallied them into action against the police trying to evict them.

  • Áine

    When the police are resorting to “tactics” when dealing with citizens exercising “the right of the people peaceably to assemble”, there are more serious issues at work than conservative vs liberal dogma.

  • Souris

    “the world is much brighter when you have multiple ones as I do”

    *spews coffee*

  • Norse Alchemist

    If I’m going to have an existence, I prefer it to be multiple choice. ;D

  • Crystal Kendrick

    Yeah, I noted the irony there, too, in that statement but didn’t remark on it, as it seemed pretty pointless.

  • Cat C-B

    Not a lot to be gained in a political discussion with someone who could refer in writing to “the ‘issue’ of ‘police brutality.'”

    Anyone who thinks that it’s reasonable to use scare quotes to imply that police brutality is unimportant is just not inhabiting the same reality I am.

  • Lori F – MN

    you make some valid points. Police are trained, just like the military, to obey orders. It could have been national guard just as easily.
    But somehow I doubt that the occupy people weren’t told they would have to leave. I thought that over night protests weren’t permitted for safety reasons.
    As for the medical tent, it’s a shame the equipment and medicine were lost. But taking it down with a chain saw was over kill. On the other hand I can’t see anyone trying to stop them.

  • Mickey Carroll

    Hello The Wild Hunt Nice read .

    I would like to dedicate this song entitled You Got To Give Back to the 1% from the 99%


    Grammy Nominee
    Gold Record Recipient

  • Kilmrnock

    In responce to NA. My friend many times we agree, but not this time . I don’t know of any class warfaire option in OWS. And secoundly i disagree about the caplain getting into the park . The police especialy must obey the law , wheather adventagous or not . And in my opinion there is a large question about the legality of the order to remove the protesters . I applaude the chaplains , keep up the good work . Kilm

  • Norse Alchemist

    The class warfare thing actually is pretty out in the open, what with the whole 99% vs 1% thing. Not to mention the rhetoric I’ve heard in some of the YouTube videos (There’s one by Danny Glover that touches on it). And Mickey Carroll’s above song dedication “You’ve Got to Give Back” certainly strikes me as an element of it, since the 1% as a rule give back generously as a rule.

    Yes, the Police must obey the law. My point was what about when laws run counter to each other, since “protestors have to go” (irregardless of how “legal” the ruling was) vs “Chaplains must be allowed to enter” (and the Chaplain in question clearly belongs to the OWS) does seem like a tricky situation.


  • Anonymous

    Apologies for going OT, Jason, but I’m assuming that you’ve seen this:

    article about Saudi Arabia beheading a woman for Witchcraft. I may not have a chance to blog about it this week, but I think that you covered this story when it was developing. (Warning: the link will make several ads show up on your computer.)

  • Norse Alchemist

    Look, Everyone, I’m not gonna say the Law is right here, or that the police are saints. But I don’t want them to get demonized here, or labeled as “Stooges” of the “1%” (which is happening several places). I don’t even care if the police are breaking “the law” to “uphold” the law. Heck, to be honest I don’t even care about the police brutality, if it is or isn’t happening, mostly because I think the OWS and it’s supporters who are complaining about the “police brutality” are being naive about how this world works. You don’t obey the police, they are going to make you obey. If they don’t make you obey (or anyone else obey) then no one respects or fears them. The Police don’t get respect/fear then they lose a great deal of their ability to uphold the law, the law breaks down, and suddenly everyone’s complaining about how the police don’t do their job.

    The OWS wants to buck the current power structure out of the naive belief that they can teach the 1% to “act better” or even replace or remove the 1%, because it’s not “fair” that 1% of the population gets to have all that money? That’s fine, they can try and do that. But a child could see that you buck the authority, the authority ain’t just gonna take it. The authorities are in place because we put them in place, because they promised to give us the society we wanted.

    If the OWS, or anyone who supports them, really wants to make the 1% change, here’s how. Don’t buy apple. Don’t get computers or equipment with Microsoft. Stop using facebook. Cut out the Twitter. Ditch AOL, Google, Yahoo, Bing, and all the other big name things out there. Stop shopping at the walmart. Don’t buy from Amazon. You get the picture. Because guess what all that does. IT Give Money to the 1%. It’s what puts them in power. But hey, you know, whatever. I’m “evil” according to a lot of world views (including some of those here) and I don’t have a problem with the current system that has the 1% at the top. Of course, when everyone employed by those companies is out of a job, you know, oops.

    I ain’t happy with the economy either, but I’m not gonna go around whining that the 1% are responsible, especially when the only reason they’re in power is people put them there, and the Government (which is being largely ignored by the OWS) is as responsible as anyone on “Wall Street.” But telling the guy who is rich and successful that he has to give up the very things that he or she was given simply because they had something that people wanted? Who wants to try and succeed then?

    So hey OWS wants to Occupy the parks and the streets and shut down the harbors all around the nation, making the workers lose hours of work and pay, costing millions of dollars that’s only going to hurt businesses and those working for them, but not really affect the 1%, who are getting their wealth largely from taxes, rebates, and special deals with the government, then go ahead. Wanna complain about police brutality, when anyone who has watched your basic anime or cartoon, or read a standard fantasy book, could tell you that once you step on the “path of power” that there’s always going to be someone bigger standing in your way, willing to crush you because you threaten their life and power, fine. Wanna complain about how the world isn’t “fair” go ahead. But don’t be surprised when the world isn’t “fair”, or someone in power uses that power to shove you back when you try to take away everything they are.

    And who are we, those who put the 1% into power not because they made us, but because we wanted to, to say they do not have the right to keep what they have freely earned? Who are we to say that the policeman may not enforce the law with force when met with resistance and unlawfulness? Who are we, who voted our government into place, to say that they are not allowed use those police to protect their pets in the 1%? We made this system, because it was the best of all the evils in the world, because the Socialists lived worse than our poorest and killed those that dissented, the Kings gave us no voice, and subsistence killed us by the millions.

    So change the system. Go on about equality and justice, use the pretty words that mean nothing. Get rid of the 1%. It won’t change anything. The 1% of the US are not the 1% of the world. Our economics are tied with Europe, China, and the Middle East. And their 1% run our economy as much as any American 1% individual. Maybe even more.

    People like to say I live in a fantasy. Maybe I do. Perhaps I’ve bent the 4th wall. But from where I’m standing, I can’t say anyone else is more realistic than I am. All this is just a long running gag, a bad joke, started way before we were born. And if we’re really lucky, we won’t be the punchline.

  • Lunar_Apollo

    I wonder how many videos and photos of unprovoked police brutality you would need to see to believe it’s happening. There have been dozens of clear videos and innumerable instances that have not gone recorded and reported on. That you think this is justifiable to protect the status quo under the US constitution defies explanation. You claim you desire and seek a plurality of viewpoints, yet you clearly have not educated yourself beyond the bare bones in regards to the “occupy” movement. Diversity of viewpoints and experiences to fix the myriad and unsustainable nature of the status quo is a central tenet of the occupy movement yet you seem only to embrace those ideas which reinforce the world as is and fail to address or aknowledge re many problems plaguing our society and destroying our planet. This is fine, whether you choose to engage productively or not is your prerogative, the rest of us have work to do.

  • Norse Alchemist


    Justified? Where did I say this was justified? I said this was what happened. I never said it was justified.

    Justifications are a joke. People come up with “justifications” so that they don’t feel bad about the things they do that society or they believe are “wrong.”

    Saying those attacks are unprovoked is like saying the zebra doesn’t provoke the lion. There’s always a provocation, even if you don’t see it. I saw the brutality on the tv and youtube. I also saw the protestors being violent, though no body seems to talk about that.

    As for educating myself about the “occupy” movement, I’ve read the same stuff as everyone else. I’ve seen the vids, hear the words. The diversity you speak of is as much a joke as the rest of this entire global situation. They’re nothing more than a mob of entitle brats brainwashed by the parents and government that promised them everything while selfishly devouring the money and destroying the economy. They think getting rid of a bunch of business people and enacting “social justice” will make everything puppies and rainbows. They don’t look beyond their own pitiful anger and a bunch of talking points handed out to them by college professors and a president that promised Change. They aren’t tolerant. Oh sure, they may accept gays, pagans, muslims, and minorities, but they hate those that don’t goosestep with them. They’ll scream they’re doing it for the workers, but they prevent people from working, just look at what they did to the ports today. Hundreds of people got sent home from work, or couldn’t do their jobs.

    Tolerance? Look at me. I speak out, I question, and what happens? Am I tolerated? Hel No. I get called uneducated, right wing, and a bunch of other terms. That’s not tolerance, that’s being unable to take criticism and questioning. And it’s not just me. It’s anyone who doesn’t join the OWS’s message of…what? Do they even have one, other than “Grrr, evil capitalists, evil 1%, grrr grrr grrr.” Cause if they do, I ain’t seen it.

  • Sarenth

    Being intolerant is different from not tolerating bullshit. You are being called uneducated because you have not demonstrated education with the OWS movement or with the issues presented to you. You are called right wing because in your responses you fall into line with their rhetoric, especially when it comes to the rights of OWS protesters and their handling via the police.

    If you have not seen the points of the OWS then you have done even less research than one could claim by your responses. The many points of the OWS movement are myriad, but they are pointed toward those who game the system, and get rich off of the misery of the poor and working class. If you cannot grasp this simple message then you simply are not listening or doing rudimentary research.

    You do not tolerate. You have clearly cheered on police brutality, as though people ‘provoked’ being peppery sprayed via civil disobedience. Pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, are all tactics used to break up dangerous situations. Dangerous, as in prison riots. As in violent suspects who will not surrender to police. Not students sitting down on the sidewalk. Not elderly veterans with flags in their hands standing on the street, calling to be heard. Not union workers standing alongside students, veterans, seniors, and others.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Really? I’ve read most of the same articles that everyone else has. But then, I suppose, this statement didn’t occur:

    ““We were told that if another city was attacked, we would do a more aggressive occupation,” said Farris. “We would take more actions and be more disruptive.”

    Really? That certainly sounds like a group that will passively accept police action and don’t need to encounter any amount of force. Certainly, these are saints who must be put upon their pedestal and any detractors silenced.

    Something that those here have done an excellent job of doing. Seeing as how every one who commented here saying otherwise has been chastised silent, or forced away, except for me.

    You say I use right wing rhetoric? But what of your own language. It certainly is “left-wing” rhetoric, but that apparently isn’t rhetoric. Perhaps you feel that your view of the world is the only one that is the truth?

    The point of the OWS? It’s for a bunch of people who feel entitled to run around whining and disrupting stuff. That’s it. It’s so…high school. They don’t wanna do crap. They wanna sit around and protest, accept the accolades of people who cheer them on for “fighting for change” but they aren’t changing anything, except for making the parks dirty, people not be able to work, and making everyone hate the police and the “right wingers”. And that’s all based on facts.

    Now me? I tolerate. I tolerate almost everyone. Those I don’t tolerate, have a history of prejudice, intolerance, and racism. Only I don’t see the gender, religious, or racial lines. I don’t care a person’s sex or creed, so long as they deal with me honestly. So you say I cheered on the police? Why? Because I said that OMG surprise, what did you expect when you bucked their authority?

    You call me ignorant, but it seems you can’t get the point I was making. So let me make it very, very clear:

    This is not about money. This is not about economics. This is about Power, the only thing that has ever mattered in this world to people. The OWS doesn’t like who is in power, and they want to take it away. Those in power don’t want to lose it, so they fight back.

    You wanna claim I’m picking a side? Fine. You’re wrong. You wanna claim I’m cheering for someone? I ain’t cheering. I’m laughing my ass off at the sick joke of it all.

  • Joseph Max

    Another thing that was very disruptive to the local busineses:

    Tell me why your descriptions of “It’s for a bunch of people who feel entitled to run around whining and disrupting stuff”

    – and –

    “They wanna sit around and protest, accept the accolades of people who cheer them on for ‘fighting for change’ but they aren’t changing anything, except for making the parks dirty, people not be able to work, and making everyone hate the police and the ‘right wingers’. And that’s all based on facts,” would not apply in that case.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    “They aren’t tolerant. Oh sure, they may accept gays, pagans, muslims, and minorities […]”

    Have you any idea how ludicrous this statement is?

  • Norse Alchemist

    Yes, yes I do Baruch. Which make the reality that I have to say it even more ludicrous. Because they will accept those people, but if you’re “right wing” or “conservative” or “part of the 1%” or if you don’t agree with their talking points, you don’t get accepted by them. You get to be the ones they “fight.”

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    When someone talking the way you do shows up, they are not ostracized but enfolded in the OWS participatory-democracy practice. Treated as a disturbed person, to be sure, but even disturbed persons are tolerated. One OWSer commented in a news report that difficult people take up more than their share of group time, but are still part of the group.

    You’ve a long way to go before you prove any kind of OWS intolerance.

  • Anonymous

    You rely on a very twisted concept of “tolerance,” that has been embraced and promoted by the Right-Wing punditry. “Tolerance” does not mean accepting racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other kinds of intolerant behavior or viewpoints. It’s intellectually dishonest to make that kind of absurd statement…that implies that anyone preaching “tolerance” must therefore be “nice” to Klanmembers, Al Qaeda, and the Westboro Baptist Church.

  • Flame Bridesdottir

    **Am I tolerated? Hel No**
    I would argue that you are tolerated. I’ve been reading and lurking on TWH for the better part of 3 years. To the best of my knowledge you have not been censored or banned or in any way prevented from proffering your opinion even when those around you have found it unreasonable, unfounded, and at times downright outrageous. Day after day, article after article you are given the same leeway as anyone else to opine on the issue at hand. Do people disagree with you vigorously? At times they do indeed. I’ve seen discussions get quite heated. But the tell is that you live (in e-terms) to fight another day. I’ve watched the same people patiently engage you time after time. Tolerated? You’re one of the most tolerated people on the frigging internet.
    If your definition of tolerance is that nobody will disagree with you, I don’t know what to tell you. *shrug* Lower your expectations I guess, the same thing you are asking the Occupiers and their supporters to do.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker


  • Norse Alchemist

    There’s a difference between not being banned, and having my views treated with respect and tolerance when I say something unpopular. Considering the number of times I am called something I’m not on here, terms that are used to denigrate and dismiss, no. I don’t see that as tolerance. I see it as social pressure to make me conform to certain people’s world view. Tolerance would be addressing the “right wing” points I make rationally, and countering them respectfully, not calling me a uneducated or dismissing me for having a source from that side of the fence. 😛

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The reason you have pejorative attributions thrown at you is that you have an aggressive manner of writing that borders on rudeness. You sow what you reap.

    AC has a similar affect but you don’t catch her whinging the way you do, and she actually has had comments bleeped.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Baruch, the reasons my comments are more agressive at this point is simple. When I first came here years ago and started commenting, I spoke with honesty and respect, even if I did give the view that some people didn’t like. I sought to share knowledge and wisdom so that I and everyone else could learn by having a multiplicity of view points.

    And over the years, I have in turn gotten none of that in return. I was dismissed. I have been labeled a bigot, a racist, a troll, a right wing conservative, and an enemy of paganism. I have been told I am unedcuated, do not know what I am talking about, when I am pretty darn sure I know just as much about the world and what’s in it as everyone else.

    No, AC doesn’t “whine” about how she gets treated here. But you’ll notice she’s started growing silent. Cara didn’t “whine” about how she was treated here either, but we all remember her resignation from talking with those here too. But there’s a big difference between AC, Cara, and myself.

    I’m not a nice person. I am what my world has made me. I can be the best friend you ever had, if I am treated with respect and hospitality. But like my ancestors before me, and the gods we walk with, treat me ill and I will be the worst kind of enemy you can imagine. One who doesn’t hold back. And I am tired of being treated inhospitibally when I did nothing but try to be friendly and speak with a voice calling for kinship and tolerance between those of different views. I am tired of being told I am the enemy simply because I don’t call the police monsters when they act “brutally” with people who have had their sins whitewash. I am tired of being told I am the enemy simply because my views meet someone’s arbitrary definition of “right win” with no justification or thought as to how I have arrived at my view point.

    Has my tone grown belligerent and angry? Yes, yes it has. But that is only because it has been a reflection of my treatment at the hands of certain people here.

    So, Baruch, if I am reaping what I sow, you should ask yourself what people sowed to reap me.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Alchemist, I haven’t witnessed the extreme mistreatment that you describe, only the quotidian rudeness one finds on the Internet. So, if it was worse before, it would seem to have improved, if that’s any consolation.

    “So, Baruch, if I am reaping what I sow, you should ask yourself what people sowed to reap me.”

    Any well-defined person — habits, opinions, beliefs, whatever — sooner or later runs into his or her Shadow, the embodied opposites in that definition. I’m sure you perform that role for quite a few of our friends on TWH.

  • Cigfran

    I have been told time and again that Heathenism is about identifying and upholding community values.

    I have been told by forthright Heathens that they would not publicly stand up for things they privately believe in (gay rights, for instance) because to do so would be to stand against the consensus of the community.

    Online, the community forms itself in different ways, but is no less identifiable. Cara finally understood that. The community may disagree within itself, may have outliers, but as a whole displays a clearly consensual pattern.

    That you, NA, choose to persistently rail against that pattern, makes you anti-community and as far as this particular community understands itself, a poor Heathen.

    You are not ‘the enemy’. You are no one’s ‘Shadow’ (really, Baruch?). And you’re not the owner of the soapbox. You’re just like everyone else, a commenter with an attitude, a style, an agenda.

    Be a part of the community or not. Try to persuade, or continue to agitate. Be a gadfly, if that is your will, or a troll if you can’t do any better.

    But get over yourself.

  • Ryan Smith

    Hate to break it to you NA but that respect must be earned by respect demonstrated on your end. When you insist that you have the monopoly on truth, refuse to see the validity of another person’s position, and disrespect what they are arguing for it is a pretty tall order for you to then turn around and ask for respect.

  • Flame Bridesdottir

    **But I don’t want them to get demonized here, or labeled as “Stooges” of the “1%” **
    If it quacks like a duck…

  • Norse Alchemist

    then it must float like a duck. And what also floats like a duck? A piece of wood. What else does a piece of wood do? It burns. What else burns? A Witch! So it must be a goose!

    I guess that makes it a fair cop?

  • Mike

    would have been better if you had gone with the monty Python quote.

  • Joseph Max

    The problem is not with corporations like Apple, Microsoft, Intel, or even General Motors. These corporations *produce something tangible of value*. Boycotting those companies is aiming at the wrong target. The name of the movement is “Occupy WALL STREET”, and while those corporations do trade on stock exchanges, that isn’t their reason to exist. It wasn’t Bill Gates that made a company whose only product is dubiously legal pyramid schemes based on bundled junk securities and credit default swaps. It’s not that the banksters make money, it’s that they CHEAT, they game the system, to do it. Their “financial instruments” produce *nothing*, except more pixels on screens, and contrive to turn those pixels into dubious “cash flow”. They don’t even efficiently move capital into productive investments and enterprise, which is what capitalists are *supposed* to be doing. That’s their *job*, and they suck at it. They should have all been fired, if not in jail.

    Microsoft and Apple make software and hardware, and sell it. That’s what capitalists should be doing, not making stupid bets with other people’s investment money just to cut themselves a fat bonus for cleverly punching keys on a computer. I might criticize Microsoft and Apple for outsourcing jobs, but that’s not even *close* to the social damage caused by the Wall Street collapse of 2008.

  • Ryan Smith

    The issue you’re ignoring is how far those corporations have gone to consolidate their power in the marketplace and quash potential competition. The degree of power concentration has made it impossible to take the system down by inches and degrees as you propose. The bank bailout is a perfect example of this: AIG and Lehman Brothers both ended up crashing and burning but this only made the surviving Wall Street firms richer by buying up the scraps of the falling empires. There is nothing to suggest that weakening one corporate giant will do any lasting harm to the system as long as system itself is meant to create and perpetuate such institutions.

    There is also the ubiquity. With market concentration comes greater need to use the particular corporation’s products. Don’t believe me, just look at the BP boycott following the Gulf spill. BP, thanks to their corporate structuring and the nature of their product, took far more financial damage from the spill cleanup than they did from the boycott and still made major profits. Wall Street is very similar, the degree to which they have made themselves necessary for big business to operate with their hand in every aspect from credit and loans to accounting and financial management means no matter how many Wall Street firms go down the system that enables them will not go away.

    Finally there is the problem of political corruption. The 2008 elections ended up burning through at least billion dollars, on all levels, of campaign donations the majority of which in dollar value came from big companies like the firms on Wall Street. For those who get elected they are lobbied by former staffers or former legislators who work to recruit the current crop to replace them with promises of perks and big payoffs. This revolving door gives major corporations another avenue for influencing political decisions with one of the most odious being the hiring of Sen. Chris Dodd, former chair of the Senate Finance Committee, by Goldman Sachs as an executive adviser with a 7 figure salary. No matter what change comes in the party in power it doesn’t address the underlying structures that effectively allow big business to buy and sell politicians. If anything that trend of bought politicians has increased since Citizens’ United destroyed the last meaningful barriers against overt corporate corruption.

    Occupy understands these issues which is why they are targeting Wall Street instead of our government. They know there is no point in attacking the puppet when the master is the source of the problem.

  • Pythia Theocritos

    *stands up and applauds* Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! When the movement first came to Washington D.C. I was there. I picketed, protested, spoke with various people, and even brought food/supplies downtown, I believed in the message of OWS- human needs over corporate greed but I noticed there was one thing most of these people didn’t want to do;

    They didn’t want to change their buying habits, where they banked, or how they could go about helping those who were disenfranchised long before a bunch of middle class, 20 something, hipsters came to the realization that shit wasn’t “fair.”

    When I mentioned the personal responsibility of thinking about where you shop, supporting local economies and socially responsible companies, putting time into the arts and sciences, while also seeking to help inner cities and rural ghettos; you would have thought I said “I eat babies.” WE THE PEOPLE helped create these monsters. We wanted fast, cheap, and easy. We wanted surplus for little work. We wanted a paper-pushing service based economy where OUR needs were put before those of third world countries filled with brown and yellow people we could care less about.

    We are just as accountable for our current economic climate as the companies who packaged mortgage securities that were worth a used panty-liner for big bucks.

    I thank you for having the balls to say what many here on the left (oh yes, I’m a liberal too) don’t want to.

  • Kilmrnock

    Correct me if i’m wrong .Doesn’t the US Constitution give us the right to peacibly assemble and air our greivances? As far as i know the Constitution doesn’t incude time limits or limitations on protests . Local goverments trying to limit or disperse protesters is a clear violation of citizens rights.And just for curiosity sake where does a private company owning the park in NYC work?But using the Police to break up the OWS encampment at 1am w/o notification w/ a court order of questionable legality , am i the only one that has a problem w/ this?NA my friend, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one . The ability to discuss w/ opposing points of view civily is what i like about this blog

  • Joseph Max

    Here’s where I think NA has a point, though obliquely: civil disobedience is generally *illegal*, in some way or another. Or it is overzealously put down by the civil powers. AND THAT IS THE POINT. Those who engage in civil disobedience must assume they will very likely be abused, assaulted and/or jailed. They do not evade it, they welcome it. That’s how it works. It’s the horrifying images of protestors being abused that empowers the movement, whether it’s UC students being pepper-sprayed today or Selma marchers being fire-hosed in the 1960s.

    Southern police departments once sued the New York Times for printing photos of the cops brutally abusing civil rights marchers. Get this: it was “defaming” them. The case was Sullivan v. New York Times, look it up. The court decided that THE TRUTH was an airtight defense against defamation lawsuits.

    Now we have YouTube and camera phones.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Kilm, you have practically quoted the First Amendment to the Constitution here. It bars Congress (later extended by the Supreme Court — and the Civil War — to the States) from infringing on the right to “peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

    Joseph, OWS is not primarily civil disobedience, so the complementary obligation to go to jail in an orderly manner does not generally apply. The rest of your construction is right on; the mistreatment of marchers/occupiers by the authorities creates energy for the movement once the images are disseminated. I think one reason Norse Alchemist doesn’t seem to “get it” is that he isn’t old enough to remember the civil rights movement, so he doesn’t see how not only what the cops do but the very things he says in their defense raise highly negative images in the minds of those who do remember the CRM. Being a contrarian he probably doesn’t mind the concept in general but equally likely doesn’t appreciate their depth and the overlay of racism. This attaints him unfairly but it’s the emotional product of his own rhetoric.

  • Kilmrnock

    And my freinds here lets not pick on or berate those of our cohorts in the pagan community that have opposing views . This is the nature of a healthy community . What differentiates us from other religious communities is our willingness to includes and even incourage opposing views. Altho i vehemetly dissagree w/ NA , one many issues , many times we will agree . He and others we may disagee w/ from time to time are still members of this blog and our community that must be not only tolarated as they tolarate our opposing views but be even encouraged to do so . the time this blog become one sided and negative to popular veiws is when me and others here will leave . i consider myself a Liberal Libritarian . a middle of the roader. i’m conservative on many issues , liberal on others . But i do enjoy a healthy discussion w/ opposing points of veiw held civily , lets not loose that ability here by becoming too emotional about our views . thank you my freinds . Kilm , that includes NA

  • Joseph Max

    I have posted two responses to the valid points being raised by NA, and he’s yet to reply. I think it would be a more productive thread if he did, instead of just complaining about everyone’s lack of respect.

  • Joseph Max

    As to the actual subject of the thread, I’m still uncomfortable with the whole Pagan chaplaincy concept, at least in the context of “ministering” to individuals in public settings such as OWS events. (Chaplains in hospitals and prisons whose services are requested by those who want them are another matter entirely.)

    There’s only two possible reasons to “minister” under the flag of a given religion in such settings: 1) trying to obtain converts, or 2) making a showing in public to help shape public attitudes toward that particular religion.

    I assume most Pagans are not interested in proselytizing (in the sense that Christians and Muslims do it), so that leaves reason #2.

    If you are trained as a psychologist, mental health counselor, legal aide, or some other valuable skill to help people deal with stressful situations, why do you need a “banner” of a religion behind you to give you validity? If people are in need, and it is your Will to help them, then help them – as a fellow human being. If you aren’t trained in such skills, you probably aren’t going to do them much good anyway, except as a sympathetic shoulder.

    Look, I know they mean well, but to me that whole Code Of Conduct reads like instructions for an advertising campaign. It’s not proselytizing per se, but I think it shows a clear intention of “let’s go out and help people – and make Pagans look good.”

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Joseph, people drawn to the mental or physical healing arts by their deep connection with the wider universe may well to want to wear that connection on their sleeves. There is no point in asking why it lends validity; it’s part & parcel. This is why religious philanthropies and humanitarian missions exist.

    And we Pagans have a coldly calculated interest. The people in OWS are not selected for their religious tolerance; other issues have drawn them. They must be regarded as a slice of the general population regarding their attitudes toward Paganism. If they are helped in a moment of need by a Pagan chaplain, long after OWS has dispersed they will carry an image of the Pagan that is at odds with the usual media and church caricature. So your reason (2) is the equivalent of a national security priority to the Pagan nation.

    BTW never underestimate the grace of a sympathetic shoulder when one is needed; or the occasions of need in a crowded mass of strangers numbering in the thousands.

  • Joseph Max

    I’m glad to see that the coldly calculated interest is acknowledged. I’m not saying it’s necessarily a BAD thing, but a significant issue is how much is altruism and how much is coldly calculated interest. “Here be dragons…”

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    To get to your “significant issue” one would have to interrogate the chaplains as to their motivation. I see nothing to be gained by such an inquisition, and it’s not by a long chalk the proper way to treat volunteers.

  • Joseph Max

    I think you’re right, and I agree with Ryan that I’d be more leery of some organized group doing this work, be it Pagan or any other religion.

  • Ryan Smith

    As long as none of the Chaplains go off and do something stupid like get drunk before General Assembly I’m not too fussed about where exactly their motivations lie. Individuals can act for reasons they find perfectly sensible as can groups of individuals working in common cause.

    Now if this was a plan by an organized institution in the Pagan community I would be much more leery of it. Individual motives don’t worry as much as institutional ones do especially since institutional motives have a nasty tendency to encourage people to do things in service of the institution they would never do as a person.

  • Mary Caliendo

    As one of the writers of the Chaplain Code of Conduct, know that it was based on a Medical Code of Conduct. Trinity Church in NYC who they have opened their doors to just hired me as a Reverend to work exclusively with the Protestors. Had it not been for the Code of Conduct that I co-wrote, the work I’ve done in the movement, they would have never hired me. I think that speaks volumes. For mainstream religion to find validity in Wiccan/Pagan Chaplancy speaks volumes of where our clergy is headed and that we are finding a place standing toe to toe with other clergy in all religions. If those of us Chaplains that are working in the movement can accomplish this and open the doors for acceptance and validity from other religions especially mainstream religions… I only see this as a plus, plus. We have suffered discrimination and lack of acceptance for a really long time….and to mention eye rolling among other denominations.

    Also the intent behind it was so that no ONE religion will co-op the movement, as religions can certainly do. It is for ALL Chaplains of all religions, not just pagans/wiccans. We have Chaplains of all faiths working in the trenches.

    Also please understand that the way the movement works in terms of working groups, is that a proposal needs to be made, discussed and agreed upon by all before anything can be instituted. The Chaplain Code of Conduct went through all of that by doctors, Social Workers, Psychologists and other medical and mental health professionals in the movement. It is not something we threw together to make us Pagans look good, then enforced. That is not the way the movement based on Anarchy works.

    Also note that because the LBGT community (especially the transgenders) have been demonized and been the victims of biased crimes by other religions and social movements, just stating that we are Wiccan immediately puts them at ease. We have a long history of acceptance and tolerance of all people – colors, race, lifestyle and sexual preference. Bringing comfort, passive listening and acceptance has brought about a small revolution and empowerment within the LBGT community that was only found among their own community, not the greater whole.

    If the case of chaplaincy is a problem, think of the works of Martin Luther King and Bishop Tutu, the numerous countless Jesuits that got excommunicated because of their stand in social and political movements. As one Doctor said – We love Chaplains, they can go where even doctors can not!

  • Mary Caliendo

    One more point… when a extremely intoxicated Veteran who drank a 1/5 of Vodka to ease the pain is profoundly crying in your arms at 2AM over this two tours in Iraq and has he has no other place to go other than OWS to find someone to listen, comfort and help him find the social services he needs, please think about that the next time you think the intent was to make Pagans look good. Selfless service and connecting to others humanity is a universal spiritual value. If you actually walked in my shoes for the last few months you will understand the humanity, humility and service involved with the tough issues at hand. OWS has exposed the deep social issues that exist in this country that are heartbreaking, no prayer, spell or ritual will solve it; only our humanity as a society. If the Doctors, Nurses and Social Workers can lead carrying that torch towards change, then I will gladly aid them in the best of my ability in the trenches dirtying my hands as a spiritual person regardless of my own denomination.

  • Kilmrnock

    And as far as the class warfare goes i don’t see it . Bad govt policies, deregulation etc, over the last twenty years has caused this disparity we are seeing now . All OWS wants is a fair shake at economic equality.The disparity we’re seeing now is pretty much undenyable at this point .One of the biggest complaints i and many have these days is our govt. is broken.Polarised to the piont nothing can get done . And the republican leadership has said they will oppose anything the president wants to do. Whatever happened to the idea of bypartisan cooperation for the benfit of the American people . Both sides are at fault . But it seems to me the right is more at fault for using obstructionism.OWS is more upset at the Finanial sector and the Govt , more than the upper class.And also the fact that interest groups and lobbiests have so much power these days isn’t helping either.Even when Obama sugessted an idea the was first used by a republican , they turned him down . How can this type of govt. work , it can’t . We need to fix this , protesting is one of the only ways we the people have to let Washington know we’re pissed off , and want change Kilm

  • Joseph Max

    What the OWS movement has done is *change the national conversation*, and this is of great significance. Last summer, it was all about deficits, national debt, “austerity measures”, and not if the social safety net was going to be gutted, but by HOW MUCH. Not anymore.

    Now the conversation is about joblessness and the country’s staggering income disparity. Now, you can say “the 1%”, and everyone knows what that means – AND the meaning is negative. Rich banksters are about as politically popular now as Lord Voldemort. The whole “job creators” meme is dead. A wide majority of the voting public wants taxes to be increased on the wealthy – and even some of the wealthy agree!

    Just wait until next spring…

  • Kilmrnock

    Does anyone here remember when the people in the fanancial sector in NYC put signs in thier windows that said ” we are the 1%” .


  • Polarity

    I applaud Courtney and Mary for their important work here. I notice the Occupy Pagan and Occupy Heathen FB groups are closed– how can I help and get involved in this, just as a regular person (not a chaplain)?

  • Ryan Smith

    The groups are closed to protect the privacy of the members and to keep out spammers. Anyone is free to join up and pretty much every membership request is approved.