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Labels and Words

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion.all-worlds,alt.satanism
From: tyagI@houseofkaos.Abyss.coM (tyagi mordred nagasiva)
Subject: Re: Labels and Words
Date: 7 Oct 1994 00:48:38 GMT

[from alt.pagan: (Karen Chapdelaine)]

John J. Collins ( wrote:
: Doug O'Neal ( wrote:

: : Many people would argue that it is a word that we have to reclaim from 
: : those who have given it that bad meaning through negative propaganda.  
: : I go back to the admittedly lame example I gave this morning: I don't 
: : not call myself a "Penn Stater" just because some people in my home 
: : state of West Virginia would equate that with a pinko commie bastard....  
: : There's probably not a word in the English language that people use to 
: : describe themselves that other people don't equate with some negative 
: : connotation. 

: :								Doug 

: The differance is that the some in the neopagan movement deliberately 
: chose to call themselves witches.  It is quite like choosing to call 
: yourself a nigger or faggot.  The word has an established connotaion.  
: Sure, you can try to change it, but what is to be gained?  I don't think 
: there is anything wrong with trying to change it mind you, but one MUST 
: expect that most people that you call yourself a witch to are going to 
: think something other than what you mean.

: Blackjack

I sense a need for dialogue on this. 

There has been deliberate "reclaiming" of words, in the gay community for 
sure.  Some of it with remarkable success.

Note: Dyke.  Does this draw up any negative connotations for people?  It 
used to be a slander.  I REMEMBER it being a slander, something people 
called people who they wished to demean.  Now, thanks to "Dykes to Watch 
Out For" (a comic strip), and other reclaiming activities, I would be 
hard pressed to find a lesbian or bi woman who was offended by the word.  
It has lost it's "charge".  It is not a nasty phrase, it has lost it's 
power to offend.  It is not used anymore by those wishing to slander or 
offend a gay female.  You can say "dyke" on TV.  People stand up proudly 
and say "I'm a dyke".  

Now enters "queer".  It is being used proudly.  It has neat advantages 
over saying homosexual, lesbian, bi, etc., in that it is instantly 
inclusive.  It is losing it's charge.  

Similar attempts have been made with "faggot".  

Comedian Lenny Bruce used to do a bit about words and the "charge" 
associated with them, attempting to show how the "charge" was the 
problem, how it allowed the person to be manipulated, dragged around by 
the nose.  

This is not the case with "witch", I don't think people are "jumping" 
upon being called a "witch".  But they want to disassociate it from 
"satanist", which does have a big charge.  And, appears to have a clear 
definition.  But whoa.  There's a problem, here.

It turns out the definition is not clear for "witch".  Though I can 
clearly separate out an Alexandrian or Gardnerian or related "wiccan" 
from "satanist", simply by describing the practices of the group, they 
have no copyright on the word "wicca" even.  

And, if we go back to Aradia, there is a BIG problem.  Lucifer is clearly
there, he IS associated in the book with the Christian "Satan", he is the
father of Aradia and brother/lover of Diana.  Aradia comes to help the
poor overthrow their oppressors, by whatever means necessary.  
Personally, I have a problem with "Aradia, Gospel of the Witches".  I 
have seen the results of "whatever means necessary" and found it worse 
than hollow.  I find that the means create the ends, there is no escape 
from hatred and injustice if you hate, you become what you fear worst 
about what you hate.  I want no part of a "witchcraft" that is here to 
"destroy the oppressors".  But others are welcome to do so, and who am I 
to say them nay?  I also do not want to try to "excise" them from the 
Pagan community, tell them what words they may and may not use, tell them 
they cannot use the word "witch".  They will do it anyway, why isolate 
them and make them martyrs again?  

What particularly saddens me is not the idea that a Michael Aquino at the
"Temple of Set" or an Anton LeVey at the "Church of Satan" may find no
welcome in the pagan community, but that a young person in a lot of
confusion may be turned away and deprived of an opportunity to learn from
us, that their choice of "labels" may isolate them and make them feel more
condemned.  In addition, by supporting the hysteria over the word 
"satanism", a word which has a marvelously stretchy ability to cover all 
sorts of beliefs, we leave our backs uncovered.  Satanism is plainly, and 
simply, the beliefs someone else does not like.  The Devil is the God 
someone else does not like.  "Satanic practices" are the religious 
practices someone else does not like.   When we allow someone to take the 
Satanists away, condemn them, make them "evil" simply because of their 
beliefs in a being THEY call "Satan" then these marvelously stretchy 
words, "Satanism" and the "Devil" will be given life.  And then we, and 
the Pentecostal Christians (who understand this much more clearly, it 
seems) will be next on the list of victims.  We cannot EVER make it o.k. 
for someone's beliefs to be "wrong."  All the so-called "satanic 
practices" that are cited as genuinely problematic are already quite 
illegal and regarded as anti-social.  And I yet to have evidence that 
someone calling themselves a "satanist" is more likely to do such 
things, than say, a Pagan, or a Christian, or a Moslem, or an atheist.  
Yet, we have people in the Pagan community giving credence to this 
hysteria, allowing and accepting the idea of "satanic ritual abuse", even 
in the face of clear debunking of it by Christian religious groups who 
see the knife at their own throat, i.e., Christians who sense that if 
someone starts deciding who is the "right" kind of religion that they 
will be the "wrong" kind.  

If we go to a Dianic definition of "Wicca" we find many authors who 
reject a distinction between "evil" and "good", that all is allowed, 
though expected to be used judiciously.  I align with this, though I find 
the "Dianic" perspective to be still a bit too black and white for me.  
It fit at one time, for me.  No longer.  Are we to throw them out next, 
say they are not "true witches" or "true pagans" because they do not 
organize with authorities, they do things like "rotating leadership", or 
no leadership, that some calling themselves Dianics allow and accept 
spells for gain, spells oriented towards harm of someone one feels 
wronged by, etc.?  Is an important step in my own growth to be the next 
target of attack within the community?  

Once you start down the road of deciding who is o.k. in their beliefs and 
who is not, the road doesn't end.  You can decide what you want to do, 
you can gather together those who are of like minds to do the same 
things.  But you cannot draw camps.  You cannot say "we are not 
Satanists", you can only say what you do do.  Satanism is NOT a defined 
term.  It is the cry of the "bad religion", the religion whose God is a 
"Devil".  And any God can become a "devil".  Look at history.  You don't 
even have to look at history.  The "witches" who are being killed in 
other countries are the "magickal people" (falsely or truthfully accused) 
who are doing herbal remedies, etc., someone else doesn't like, or they 
are a convenient scapegoat for the rain not falling this year or 
some dying.  Anything other than looking at a real solution, or saying 
what the real problem is.  Anything other than taking personal and 
community responsibility for things going wrong.  

Love, Peace, Harmony and Balance,

Karen Chapdelaine		@}->--  Love is the Law, Love under Will
                         ....You can do what you want....
                                 ...You will get what you create....

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