This is a short post. I wanted to make a brief statement before too much time elapsed. Though this blog is likely deep within the bowels of the interwebs, it’s still important I feel to proclaim support and rally round those who are vulnerable. Several weeks ago, pagan and traditional witch Sarah Anne Lawless blew up the pagan/witchcraft world with a post entitled “So Long and Thanks for All the Abuse: a History of Sexual Trauma in the Pagan Community” in which she took the community to task for its failings in dealing with abuse perpetrated within festivals, within covens, workshops, what have you. Several Facebook posts later and she named names. Among the names are several Big Name Pagans; authors, spiritual leaders, tradition founders and/or elders, teachers. Others who had previously remained silent spoke out in comments sections or on their own blogs naming other pagans or witches that were known as abusers or unstable and sharing their own traumatic stories.
This has sent shockwaves through the pagan community. Two tradition elders have stepped down. Another spiritual leader has resigned his university position. There will likely be more to come. Many pagan groups and leaders have spoken in support of Sarah and other victims coming forward.There is talk of reviving a previously abandoned pagan community statement on sexual abuse.
I also stand with Sarah. She is extremely brave, and her bravery has done and will continue do a service for modern paganism. For years pagan festival culture and pagan group culture has been such that- though I long for a sense of actual physical community- I do not feel comfortable engaging. There are always some good folks to be found but most often they are found through running the trifecta gauntlet of the mentally unstable, abusive, and sexually predatorial who seem to flock to paganism and witchcraft. I understand what she is saying and none of it comes as a surprise. For years I thought it was just me and that perhaps I was being overly harsh but I’m glad to know I’m not alone.
What Sarah and those who chimed in with their own stories have done is akin to reaching their arms out to the pillars and forcing the temple to crumble. There will likely be fallout and rubble for quite some time, but underneath the rubble the first few flowers have begun to push up through the soil.
Update 11/12/2018: Emma Kathryn over at Gods & Radicals has published a post entitled “Abuse Within Paganism – a Taboo Topic?” which features an update with Sarah Lawless. You can help Sarah, who has received some nasty things her way as a result of speaking her truth, by supporting her financially and/or asking The Wild Hunt to investigate her claims. Links below: