Tennessee man fancies himself a witch-finder general. And yes, I’m talking about Greg Locke. A man who claims the title “pastor” or Christian leader with no genuine concept of the word. I refuse to call him by that name anymore.
Why am I writing about this man again? Well, he threatened to “expose” six “witches” in his congregation while castigating and commanding them to leave his church. Here’s why this Tennessee man is becoming more of a problem than I first understood.
Six “Confirmed” Witches
A few days ago, the book-burning man from Tennessee took his crazy a step too far. He spat vitriol (to a chorus of “amens”) toward six unknown individuals he claims are “confirmed” witches “sent” to inflict harm on his congregation. The video (available on social media) is typical of this man, filled with hatred and vicious sarcasm.
The scene plays out as if from Salem Village church in February 1692. Claims of “evidence” (burning sage got a mention) and “we’ve got names and an address” were screamed from the stage. Two of the “accused” are reportedly members of his wife’s bible study. Witches are now “responsible for illness” in his church.
Surprisingly, “spectral evidence” did not get a mention.
But how did the “large and in charge” get the names? Who are the accused? Are they primarily women (misogyny and paranoia do abound)? The man is threatening to “fill the stage with brooms” as a way to expose and “ride them out” of his church. Is he making plans for a physical assault at the next meeting?
Trust me. There are Christian Witches (probably not in his church) out there nowadays. There are Christians drawn to magickal practice who do not call themselves witches. But such people are pretty good at hiding. That’s not what’s going on here.
So what’s the next step, accosting people outside their homes, public shaming? Will it be inside your building or outside on the street too? Maybe you are going to drive them out of town. Believe it or not, these are serious questions. Why? Because we are talking about a literal witch hunt playing out right now in this country! And this man revels in the idea of humiliating these people if he does not get his way.
Witch or Not?
While anything is possible, the people being accused of witchcraft in this “church” most likely are not. They may be people who are into herbal healing, enjoy sage and crystals (because both are very popular), and disagree with what that man spews on a weekly basis.
Perhaps the women in the bible study identified as “witches” challenge the wife’s teaching or leadership. Maybe they disagree with how she interprets the Bible? Maybe they have their own opinions about gay marriage, vaccines, family values, and politics? I’ll be surprised if these people tow the proverbial line of this church’s particular doctrine and that is why they have been targeted and accused of witchcraft.
Could one or two be actual witches with an agenda? Maybe. And if they are I want them to contact me with the 411. Tell me if they need some magickal protection. Being serious here. But most likely, these folks are Christians who are now caught up in the Tennessee Book Burner’s spiritual paranoia. Just like the people accused of witchcraft in Salem Village over three hundred years ago.
Salem Witch Trials
If you do not know the history of the events in Salem Village 1692, then I suggest you visit Salem.org. Some people fixate on what is called the Burning Times (European witch hunts) but our history of witch-hunting is more concerning to me at this moment.
A Very Brief History
January 1692: Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams (daughter and niece of the local minister) are overcome with strange fits. When they do not improve, the village doctor diagnoses them with “bewitchment.”
February 1692: Accusations and arrests begin when the girls name their family’s slave, Tituba, as responsible for their affliction and behavior. A few weeks later, Ann Putnam Jr. and Elizabeth Hubbard begin to experience the same fits. They accuse Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne. Things go downhill from there.
March 1692: Suspected witches are jailed. Examinations and interrogations begin. As the days pass, more women face charges of witchcraft: Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse to name a few. The accused begin to point fingers at others to save themselves.
And as the month’s pass, the hysteria, fear, and allegations increase. By the end, nineteen women and men will hang, one man will die by stone pressing, multiple others perish in jail awaiting trial (or release because they can’t pay the fees).
The events at Salem Village are a perfect storm of people experiencing political upheaval, possible attack by warring tribes, land disputes and pettiness among neighbors, an outbreak of smallpox, and religious dogma encouraging fear of witches and the devil.
Sound familiar? We are in year two of a pandemic with anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, conspiracy theories, increased crime, violence, political battles, culture wars, inequities, insurrection against our halls of democracy, and more. We have an extreme religious right using their beliefs as an excuse to promote an authoritarian agenda. America has its own perfect storm brewing.
Witch, Be Wary
Now, I do not want to be an alarmist. As John Beckett reminds us in This Far And No Farther we as witches and citizens of this country are not powerless. We can use our voices, votes, time, and energy to promote those things which make our communities safe, equitable, inclusive, and better for all.
However, we need to pay attention to the drama unfolding in Tennessee with this particular group of radicalized Christians. See how far they are willing to take their witch hunt. How much harm will they attempt to do to the six people they accuse of witchcraft? And while they may refrain from physical damage, they may be able to destroy reputations, employment, relationships, and families through their actions and gossip.
And it is not just this man, by the way. Last year, a Michigan congressman called my governor, secretary of state, and attorney general “witches.” He used this as a political ploy to whip up his far-right base against them with terms such as “witch burning.” Considering the Tennessee man’s words sounded pretty violent (he excuses it as being “passionate”), I have to say this verbal trend is disturbing.
What Can Be Done?
Southern Poverty Law Center – We can reach out to the SPLC and see if this “church” is on their list of hate groups. And if it is not, encourage them to investigate. Put this church on the list. They are specifically targeting Witches with their vitriol (and implied violence).
Speak Out – For those Witches who are public with their practice and path, we need to become more vocal advocates for the acceptance of our presence in the world. We need to denounce this kind of hateful speech toward Witches, Wiccans, Pagans, and anyone in the magickal community. And, we protect and support those who prefer to remain silent.
Inclusion – As Witches, we strive toward inclusion for all those who are marginalized in our communities (magickal and mundane).
Listen – How are people in our particular sphere of influence reacting to Tennesee man and others like him? Are people you know parroting the rhetoric? Do they applaud or encourage the actions of people such as this man or what his religious congregation is doing? If yes, do what you can to engage in civil discourse. But all the same, people must know we are not harmless. We will not be shoved back into the shadows.
Contact Local Law Enforcement – This man is issuing public threats. It does not matter if the words are directed towards members of his congregation or not. Greg Locke is using incendiary and threatening language toward individuals. The question is if he will be doxxing these people or how far he’s willing to go.
Keep Calm and Witch On
Let me reiterate my belief that we need not fear the Tennesee man who believes himself to be a modern-day witchfinder. For one thing, many of us can simply nod our heads, give a middle finger salute and say “Right here!” After all, according to statistics, we equal the Presbyterians these days. Witches are here to stay, thank you very much.
We do need to be self-aware and pay attention to what is going on around us. No heads in the sand, please, and thank you. But fear is unnecessary when you are a practitioner of the Craft. And if there are any actual witches in that church, then maybe it’s time to devote energy elsewhere. Expose the man as a liar, hypocritical cheat (and believe me he is one) and let the authorities (if he ever crosses the legal line) and his own God deal with him.
Full Moon Magick
As I write this post, the moon has waxed into full with power and potential. Most likely, the six people from Tennessee are Christians (as were the accused in Salem Village). As such, they may not appreciate magickal intervention on their behalf (a spell of protection remains on offer). However, I will share a brief spell here that can be worked by those who may require anonymity:
“See Me Not” Black Candle Spell
One Black Candle
Black bag (small, any material but mesh) filled with:
A small piece of Black Tourmaline
A Pinch of Belladonna (toxic so use with caution)
As you fill the bag with the selected herbs (you may use substitutions, follow your intuition), ask the spirit ally of the plant and stone to work with you and enhance your magick. Use your specific technique (visualization, etc.) filling everything in the bag with your intention to shift the perception of those who mean you harm (emotional, physical, or spiritual) away from you. You will be seen but go unnoticed.
Tie the bag shut with three knots.
Light the black candle.
Hold the bag in your hands, know the intention of the bag is to direct negative or harmful intentions away from you. You are seen by those whom you know, love, trust, or have no ill will directed toward you. You will trust your intuition to know when an individual (this includes co-workers, bosses, leaders in your sphere of influence) is leading you astray or has ideals that could bring harm (emotional, physical, or spiritual) your way.
Speak these words or something like it: “As I go, the ones who mean harm or mischief see me not. Their perception is skewed so that I am of no consequence to their plans or schemes. Negative energy and intention are directed away and into the Earth where it is neutralized. So mote it be.”
Allow the candle to burn until it goes out. If you work with a deity such as Hekate – a queen of witches who is also a moon goddess–then feel free to include this spell in a ritual, invoking her aid. Or the power of any other deity with whom you may work.