Same · as · a · Wildcat
"Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes. " ~Henry David Thoreau
"If I leave here tomorrow, will you still remember me?" - "Free Bird" Lynyrd Skynyrd
"Either that wallpaper goes, or I do." - att. Oscar Wilde
I began this journal not quite ten years ago, in October of 2001. In it I have recorded my frustrations, triumphs, hilarities, tragedies, hopes, and confusions for the better part of a decade. I have made good friends. I have won the Internet several times, so I am told. I pissed some people off. I learned that is sometimes a badge of honor, and sometimes not, and how one might try to avoid it when it isn't, and not worry too much about it when it is. I learned many, many things, and got some very important practice and encouragement in the art of expressing my thoughts.
And, I'm done. My life has changed dramatically...in some ways, my involvement in online communities was its own undoing, because I began this journal during a very difficult and isolated time in my life and it sustained me through some traumatic life changes. These included witnessing my mother's final illness and helping to care for her during it, which I still consider the hardest thing I have ever done. I received support and empathy from others, and a willingness to read my agonized ravings, for which I am still grateful.
But partially because of that support, I have become less isolated in my daily life. I am more involved in face-to-face communities, which require time, and there's only so much of it in the day. The biggest change however is that my writing has gone from a hobby to something approaching a career...I am in a completely different place in terms of work and what I am doing with my life than I was ten years ago. As my career develops, it requires more and more of my time and especially my writing energy. I haven't posted much in this journal of late, partially because I have so much else going on. Including publications right and left, and more in the works. Plus
a full time job doing something I frankly love even when it tries my patience.
So, then. It's time to move on. I appreciate all of the people who have read what I've written here, and responded to it...with encouragement, with ideas I hadn't encountered, with new ways of looking at it, even with acrimony. Every time you see my name in print somewhere, I want you to realize that you helped get me there.
That's probably enough, right there. I should end on a high note, good feelings all around, that sort of thing. Everything I just said is true and sufficient. But if you've been paying attention, you know there are other, possibly lesser, reasons. And if you know me by now...and I think you do...you know that I just can't let a parlor pachyderm go by me without pointing it out.
I've been a Pagan for nearly a quarter of a century. More than half my life, at this point. And I came up in the middle of a local Pagan community which is no less prone to drama, shenanigans, and ass-showing than any other, and more so than some. I was just as loud-mouthed and even more tactless in my early twenties than I am now, and I have done my share of provoking people. They've also made me so angry I could spit fire. I have witnessed behavior that was callous, childish, short-sighted, unethical, and just plain mean. I've had people kick me out of a group behind my back, I've had people threaten me, and I've had people spread rumors that I'd been arrested. I thought I'd seen it all.
Apparently not. If you had asked me a year ago if I thought that a member of my community would attempt to damage my livelihood and put me and my son in physical danger by revealing my legal name, work place, and where I live, I would have said no. Talking smack is one thing, but there are some lines you don't cross. If you'd asked if a member of my specific religious tradition would do it, I would have said doubly no; because most of us swear an oath "to protect and defend our brothers and sisters in the Craft" and the ones who don't say those exact words still adhere to it as a moral concept. No matter how much we may hate each other's guts, I would have said, we take that seriously.
Evidently, I was wrong. Perhaps it was naive of me to think that someone who had previously shown a serious lack of boundaries or moral compass would suddenly develop same, but then I had considered all of the people involved to be friends, once upon a time. They had talked a good game (and still do talk it, apparently, though it's hard to see once the glamour is broken why you were ever fooled). But when you look at what they do, rather than what they say, you start noticing discrepancies.
The ethical principle of not "outing" people is a widespread standard...one shared not only by all of the Witchcraft traditions I am aware of
, but by the larger Pagan community, the LGBT community, and the online community.
The choice to post my name, town of residence (which is quite small), and place of work on the Internet along with some rather muddled "refutations" was made in response to my criticisms of a couple of Feri initiates, written up as a series of articles and also stated in an interview with The Wild Hunt.
Those criticisms included fostering an atmosphere where abusive behavior could flourish, and plagiarizing the work of other initiates while claiming it as their own. Apparently my criticisms stung. As my father used to say, "the bit dog hollers."
Two justifications are currently given for this: One, that I previously made connections between my legal name and the Feri Tradition (even though those pages are all defunct), and two, that I was "attacking" under different names and therefore it needed to be revealed that "all" of the names were the same person.
The first one may be dispensed with by this quote from the Judy Harrow article I linked to: "The way to know how public a Witch is willing to be is simply to ask them. In very rare circumstances where you are truly not able to ask them, follow their example. Be careful not to rely on old statements or behaviors. The right to choose implies the right to change one's mind. Perhaps she was open in the freewheeling atmosphere of a college town, but now is struggling to establish a professional career. Perhaps he's in a new relationship, and his new lover has a stronger sense of privacy than the last one. Saying that somebody who had their legal name in the letter column of some obscure publication twenty years ago has yielded all right to privacy is about like saying that only virgins can ever say no. "
The second is simply a flat-out lie. I made the connection between "elorie
" and the "Sarsen" of freeferi.org
and in the Wild Hunt article
explicitly myself here.
I named this journal after a D&D character, and the fact that I chose to use the Craft name I've been known by for over a decade rather than my LJ handle for the articles and interview is indicative of nothing more nefarious than the fact that I don't ever go by "elorie" as a name. More importantly, I never wrote anything about the individuals in question under my legal name, or any permutation of it.
There might be some reason to emphasize the connection between "elorie" and "Sarsen" (though not to insinuate that I tried to hide it). There was NO reason to include my legal name, except pure spite.
The real motive was actually stated in so many words in a previous version of the web page: to impose "consequences" for my criticisms. That is, to punish me for speaking out. It should be noted also that another consequence of connecting this journal to my legal name was to out me as a bisexual...something I had never
done myself in so many words. The reason being that things like this still happen
. Moreover (as noted in the Geek Feminism article) I used this journal to talk extensively about my sexuality, both past experiences and what it meant to me.
If you are prone to assume that because one of the people involved is a gay man that he didn't intend that consequence or that he didn't mean it maliciously, I think you are wrong about that. In any case, he and his partner have both made statements in my presence which I consider biphobic.
I did not address this openly before now for two reasons. One, I didn't want to compound the problem by drawing attention to it. Two, I was told by mutual acquaintances that they would "talk to" the people who did this (it was more than one) and see if they could be made to see reason. I was giving them time to think it over and back down without losing face. Somewhat predictably, they haven't; in fact, they have doubled down on it. I was also giving myself time to think it over.
I don't live in the same place any more. I don't work in the same place. I feel...somewhat...safer. After a good deal of consideration, here is what I choose to do:
- This journal will be shut down. I don't want to delete it, because it holds so much, but the vast majority of entries are now "friends only" and I am deleting most of my friends list. Additionally, it will no longer be active; I don't intend to post here any more.
- All of my active online presence will be connected with my published writing, one way or another. What personal information is there will not be of the kind that a malicious person might be inclined to sharpen a knife with.
- While some of that connects me loosely to Pagandom at large, there is nothing that connects me with "Feri. " I remain a member of some queer-favorable organizations, but do not state my sexuality in so many words anywhere.
- I fully intend to continue speaking out on issues I consider important, in intellectual and general terms. If anyone was hoping otherwise, I am not sorry to disappoint them.
- There will be no online venue where I discuss my specific religious practice. There will be no online venue where I talk in any detail about my sexuality. Those things are too personal for me to allow them to be used as a weapon against me.
I don't know if those solutions make sense to anyone but me. They are the product of an attempt to resolve some conflicting impulses...primary of which are prudence vs. audacity. There are reasons why I chose to draw the lines exactly where I did. If I were in a different place with regard to my need for a specific kind of online community, I might have chosen differently. It is not, in any case, up for debate. This isn't me asking anyone's advice, any more. This is me letting you know what I'm doing. And while I know that by necessity the larger Internet can see this...it's not really meant for them. It's meant for you all, the ones who have listened to my tale for so long.
Fare thee well.
"But there you are: Hobbits must stick together, and especially Bagginses. All I ask in return is: take as much care of yourself as you can, and bring back all the news you can, and any old songs and tales you can come by. I'll do my best to finish my book before you return." - Bilbo Baggins
"Today was both more and less of an adventure than I was hoping for."
I then digressed into a long description of my attempts to find my ancestors by driving to where they were buried, some of whom refused to be found that day. And witchiness. I made, naively to my eyes now, casual references to my son, places, people. I posted an invocation that I wrote, with no notion that someone might come along and decide to swipe it. I talked about magic, and my hopes and fears, for an audience made up only of my friends. I bitched about a certain significant other type person asking me to buy him cigarettes because I did not like contributing in any way to the smoking.
I was still in Reclaiming, and my coven still existed. My son was seven years old. I was broke, and worried about money.
"...well, at least I got signed up to this thing now. Which is a cool thing. I think that's it for today."
I hope the sheer beauty and magnificent self-incrimination of someone furiously (and ineptly) defending himself against a charge of plagiarism in a post that has had to be redone four times due to various ToS violations including copyright infringement is not lost on anyone.
Mighty things are afoot. Changes in the wind. Some people getting all meddlesome up in my bidness. They may even be reading this here journal. Here's my comment, if you please:
Once upon a time, a woman gave me a job. She was from Macon, Georgia, and she told fortunes for a living, which is what I also learned to do. I learned some real magic from that woman, and the others I met down there in the Underground. One day, some member of the God squad decided to harass her while she was doing her work. Rain had a line of people waiting to hear her counsel; this woman kept telling them they and Rain were all going to hell. She tried to reason with the woman, but she wouldn't listen. Rain finally got up and decked her.
I quote and honor Rain, one of my early mentors: "I don't take shit off anybody. And if you don't back offa me, you 'bout to find out just how redneck I can get."
A while ago faerywolf
was part of a private conversation about wands in the Feri Tradition; a little while later, he published an article in Witch Eye
which basically reiterated the ideas expressed in that conversation without crediting the sources.
So, three years ago I did a workshop on hoodoo and the Southern folk magic roots of Feri for some Feri initiates; notes were taken and distributed to other initiates. I am not absolutely certain that he has a copy of them, but it seems likely. In any case, he's well aware that I did that workshop and that the line I'm part of emphasizes that stuff because 1) we discussed it, and 2) it's in the goddamn Wikipedia article.
Recently, he wrote this article.
"Hoodoo and the Roots of Feri." No mention of me or lupino
, and certainly no acknowledgment of me as a source. Although...frankly, I would like to think that he can't have cribbed from my notes because if he had the article would be a lot better. Honestly, it sucks. He doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about, and can't even construct a clear line of reasoning as to why hoodoo relates to Feri...mainly because he appears to be completely ignorant of the history and cultural forces involved, but he also fails to mention aspects of Feri history he should certainly know. He refers people to Cat Yronwode like that's going to help. She has done some good research but she did not grow up here and she is not the end-all, be-all of hoodoo. She is just a popularizer of same, making a living off said popularity. Rather like himself. Except at least hoodoo has a tradition
of charging money...for services rendered, not for teaching. In any case Cat doesn't know any more about Feri than he apparently knows about hoodoo.
If it is even remotely possible that you might be a rape apologist, it is time to pause and reflect. If you find yourself thinking, "But I like him, he couldn't be a rapist/predator/pedophile," it is time to stop and do some deep-down soul-searching. If you find yourself saying
it....please put a sock in your own mouth and shut the fuck up.
Someone's ability to be personable or likeable is not a measure of their character. "Nice" is a social strategy. It has value...I am a fan of politeness, personally...but it does not equate to "good." The annals of criminal psychology history are full of people who turned out to be vicious brutal murderers whose neighbors all said, "But he seemed so nice..."
There is such a thing as evidence. Evidence consists of things like records, communications of intent, physical acts. Your personal opinion of someone is not evidence.
Apparently questions equal commands, requests equal bullying, and statements of the karmic ass-biting nature of witchcraft equal...wait for it....threats.
Of hexing, no less.
Yes, someone accused me of making veiled threats of cursing people. Are you picturing this?
The level of histrionics has gone critical, Cap'n. I canna hold it any longer! The passive-aggressive wankometer, she's about to blow!
I'm so sorry that me expressing my thoughts and opinions has your panties in a wad and scrunched up your ass. I am deeply, profoundly sorry that it's so very uncomfortable because your head is in the way.
By the way? The stuff you were objecting to? Was me being nice
. Yes, yes, tactful even. This
is me being not-nice. This is me mocking your pissant, poseur, junior-high dropout, frotteurific, pants-wetting whinefactory pathologically pathetic self. This is me telling you that your balls, they are artificially inflated by the Internet, because you're too big of a damn coward to even encounter disagreement without running away, so there's no damn way you'd ever say that shit to my face. Let me call the waaah
There's a lot more where that came from, too, so don't provoke me. (Oooh! A threat!) elorie
has a big, loud, mouth, and that bitch just won't shut up, film at eleven! YES, I WILL KEEP TALKING, WITH BIG WORDS, AND YOU CAN'T STOP MEEEEE! Woe upon you! Horrors!
Excuse me, I had to get that out of my system. I'll go back to being a grown-up now. Well, er, I'll go back to talking about something else...
well, ok, lupaloo
's demand. She's popular.
~Reasons Why You Should Never Date...Anyone, by Astrological Sign
by me, elorie
, Accept No Substitutes
Empathy? What's that? Huh? Why did that hurt your feelings?..a Taurus.
It's their stuff. It will always
be their stuff. You can be married ten years and they will be able to tell you which books and CDs are yours and which ones are theirs. They might, however, forget your birthday...a Gemini.
You will never get a word in edgewise again...a Cancer.
Moods that rival Scorpio's, but less sexy. Worrywarts. Will call their mother while you are on your honeymoon...a Leo.
It's the movie of their life, and you are in the supporting role. They can be gracious, as long as you acknowledge this eternal truth...a Virgo.
Obsessive compulsion is not a replacement for a personality...a Libra.
As long as you don't really care if they never, ever, ever make up their minds about anything, you should be fine. Unless the way they also flit from one lover to the next bothers you.....a Scorpio.
They sulk, hold grudges, and are vindictive. The sign most likely to become a stalker. But, sexaay...a Sagittarius.
They're iconoclasts, see? Silly mundane rules were not meant for such as they. They're rebels.
This means they will never, ever show up on time for a date...a Capricorn.
There are ways that Things Are Done, and ways that they are Not Done. And the Capricorn knows what they are. Tardiness drives them insane. However, they do not have the Virgo's saving grace of neatness.
(Sagittarius and Capricorn are the Zodiac's "Marriage Made in Hell")..an Aquarius.
Deep down, they think of you as an experiment...a Pisces.
Because they are batshit crazy.
I'm aware of some of the arguments FOR charging money to teach Feri. They include the expense of travel (if that's what you're doing), not losing money on materials or space (I don't think anyone would argue with that one, actually), and the somewhat more murky issue of the teacher's time and availability (the "I can't do this all the time if I don't get paid" argument, which touches on the "paid clergy" argument that is pretty much everywhere in Pagandom these days). There's also, not often stated that way but often implicit, the "this is what the market will bear" argument...essentially, that people really really want Feri training and are willing to pay for it. There's also some perfectly valid points about what people value and the "cleanness" of the exchange...which I've used myself when talking about doing Tarot readings for money.
It's a good point, though, that I draw the same kind of line between people I charge for readings and people I don't, as Victor suggested be drawn between people you charge for teaching and people you don't...ie, I don't ask friends or family for money, and members of my tradition count as "family". (Whether I like them personally or get along with them or not is absolutely irrelevant to this consideration.) I decided on that distinction myself years ago, long before I ever started in with Feri. So it's nice to know that Victor apparently saw the same line I do.
I understand perfectly the reasons why people want to charge money. It appears to me, however, that many of the people who are arguing for it don't understand the reasons why people are objecting, or they understand them only partially. To that end, I want to lay some of them out.
The point here is NOT, "if you charge money you are a BAD PERSON." The point is more like, "if you choose to charge money for classes, here are some things to try to address or mitigate in other ways."
1) First and foremost, it causes deep divisions within the tradition. It causes turmoil and friction and distrust. This is NOT just about Gabriel. I am not about to call anyone out here, but this is not an opinion or speculation, it's a fact.
2) It causes people to treat the lore and their own contributions to it like property rather than shared knowledge we are all custodians of. It therefore weakens the tradition.
3) It makes it harder to say "no" to someone who really should not/is not ready to learn Feri or its tools.
4) It causes teachers to compete for students and treat them like commodities.
5) It creates hierarchy and divisions between teachers. There's no point in saying that people shouldn't think that way, or that if they are enlightened enough they won't; they DO think that way, and if that works to your advantage, forgive me if I think that waving that objection aside is disingenuous.
As a related but somewhat different issue, charging money for workshops to which you invite other initiates but don't offer to comp them in, violates what Victor said about not charging other members of the tradition. That rule is NOT just about your own students. The reason you don't charge students once you are considering them for initiation is that you are considering making them "kin", and you don't charge kin. This is what bothered me about the "Feri weekend" last year, and I'm pleased that I finally figured it out. Mind you, if it took me that long to work out why it bugged me, I don't expect that other people should have automatically thought of it either. However, that might be a consideration for the future.
6) It lowers reputation, both yours and our collective reputation. I admit this is the most nebulous objection, at least on the surface. Some people don't think reputation is important. Some don't think it works that way, and in some circles it doesn't. However...
In a tradition where we do not have hierarchy or even a form of organization, the only way we can work together at all is through old-fashioned informal consensus. The only forms of power are the kind that work in that model. Reputation is one of those...and we already recognize that, since one of the possible means by which a person can receive a wand is through the fact that other people recognize their contribution. (This borders on a whole other one of our favorite arguments, but I won't get into that right now.) Reputation is one facet of a tacit relationship between all the members of a group which allows them to create group energy and to some extent a set of group ideas and values.
Charging money will make some people think less of you. Some of them may be people whose opinions you otherwise value. You are free to declare that you don't care what other people think...but when people react to that declaration in perfectly predictable ways such as not caring what you think, or saying what they think of you, you shouldn't act surprised. Nor when the end result of all that is a breakdown in the tradition's coherence. I'm aware that there are other sources of division, but that's outside of my scope here.
Reputation in the wider world, or the wider Pagan community, is even murkier. And yet...How many religions do charge people for entry, or for learning about them? The examples I can think of (Scientology, plastic faux "Native American Spirituality", and others of that ilk) are not ones I would wish to see us emulate. It makes it look like we are in it for the money. Which might not be so bad, in some ways, since the example we have ever before us is of televangelists who are clearly in it for the money while saying they're in it for God. But you have to address that straight on, not dance around it. Or get mad when somebody says what many people are thinking. Like me, for example.
I keep thinking about this issue off and on. Mostly, I've taken the stance that it wouldn't be my choice, but the people involved are grownups. Keep that in mind.
On the other hand...there are reasons why it wouldn't be my choice. lupino
's take, and I agree with him, is that first of all, that whatever he SAID on the subject, Victor never charged people money, so that essentially people are making others pay for something that they, or their teachers somewhere up the line, were given freely.
Yes, I know some folks' justification is that they themselves were
charged money. I'm not sure that's a good reason. Because the first person to teach in a classroom model, and to charge money, and as far as I know, to teach at a distance, was Gabriel. And while I hesitate to criticize when his death is so recent, let's just say....I don't think it was one of his better ideas. Further, many people who had serious fallings out with him (and I'm not picking on anyone here, because there are a lot of people in that category) nonetheless are following his model of teaching. I believe that they see his model of teaching and approach as an issue completely separate from the behavior they had a problem with. The thing is, I don't. It feels connected to me. It feels like...murky water.
Another precedent is the way that Reclaiming charges money for weekend workshops and Witch Camps. And while I appreciate the complexity of the issue, and yes it does make some things possible that otherwise wouldn't be, I can't say that I think that introducing money into the equation has been wholly beneficial to Reclaiming, either. Some of the most contentious, vitriolic, venomous, destructive, and longstanding fights that have gone on inside Reclaiming were essentially over money (or the status attached to teaching which obtains partially BECAUSE of money). I don't think that's a coincidence.
And whatever you think of Gabriel, and however much you may value other things he did, you have to admit that he was at the center of many of the most contentious, vitriolic, venomous, destructive and longstanding fights that have gone on inside of Feri. And
he was the person who introduced the concept of teaching in a classroom/workshop model for money. I don't think that's a coincidence either.
As for distance teaching with or without money involved, I think that it's very difficult to know someone well enough to initiate them if you only see them a couple times a year (if that) under very unusual circumstances.
One reasoning that has been offered is that there are people who aren't within reach of a teacher. But actually, there are Feri initiates scattered all around...more than you think. Some people may not pursue finding a teacher close by because distance teaching is available. More seriously, some people who were rejected as students by local initiates for good reasons may pursue learning elsewhere...and when you only see someone online, or once a year, you may not see the things about them that caused the local person to be reluctant to teach them. I think that it behooves people who are teaching long-distance to refer people to the local teachers when they can, and to stay in communication with them. At the very least.
I probably have more to say about this, but for now, it's suppertime at my house...