So as I’m sure many of you who are in the Pagan community know, Sarah Anne Lawless recently came out with an amazing and desperately needed blog post about sexual abuse in Paganism; primarily by Pagan leaders and BNP’s. She only named one of her abusers after he commented on her post, but the rest she kept silent about until she released their names in a FB later on.
I applaud Ms. Lawless for exposing her story and her abusers. I’ve never been involved in any form of Pagan community (save this blog, if that even counts), so I can only imagine the courage and stress it took to write that post, knowing how many may become upset at her (rather than for her) and how many will victim blame, call her a liar, etc. I was completely shocked when I realized one of her abusers was in fact MoJo from the podcast “The Wigglian Way” a podcast that I followed fairly closely and really liked and enjoyed the hosts. It made sense though. I had a sense in the episodes after Sarah left, it may have been due to a possible affair. I felt ashamed suspecting an affair between the hosts when one of them was married, so I pushed it aside, but I guess that wasn’t entirely unfounded.
I have chosen to stay away from any covens, groups, meet-ups, and even Sabbat celebrations because I feel like I can’t 100% trust the intentions of the leaders and even participators. That’s not fair to them, because they’re probably wonderful people and it’s not fair to me because I may be missing out on a lot of wisdom and guidance. Unfortunately, I’ve heard and read about horror stories of being pressured to go Sky Clad for rituals, to kiss or embrace while in circle at certain points. And then there’s the sex. Now, admittedly, I’m in the group of Pagans who also fall into the BDSM community, but BDSM is very, VERY consent oriented and the events I’ve gone to absolutely has that safe feeling to it. However, just because I enjoy these things (with my husband and only my husband) doesn’t mean I’m down for whatever, which seems to be the idea a lot of Pagans push onto each other, regardless of gender. This idea that being a “free spirit” and nature worshipper means you should be polyamorous or basically a human nymph is ridiculous and also super off-putting.
I’m hoping Sarah’s story and the stories of other Pagans coming forward about their own experiences will help spark change in the community. We need to be zero-tolerance no matter what coven the person belongs to or heads, no matter how many books or classes they’ve taught, no matter if other people think they’re “nice” and we shouldn’t “ruin their lives” over this. No. Paganism receives enough criticism; we don’t need to or want to fall under the same umbrella as Catholicism when it comes to how our elders behave. I know that there’s always a scramble to protect our own, but rapists, sexual abusers, and domestic abusers are NOT our own. A majority of us try to follow the “Do no harm” rule right? Well, we need to stop letting these individuals get away with harming us and our community.
To anyone out there who is a survivor; I support you and I believe you.