Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Advice from a really old Druid

Everything comes full circle. This is my advice for the next 4 or more years.
Forty years ago, after studying my entire life, reading cards since I was 5 and the Tarot since I was 16, freshly minted as an astrologer I made the decision to exit the broom closet. It was the beginning of my journey when I attended a conference for Wiccans even though I was a Druid. It became obvious that I was a good choice as an ambassador for the pagan community. There was no internet, only magazines, TV, radio and newspapers. I had worked in the newspapers and still had contacts. I was well spoken, well read and funny. I was also pretty. That got me interviews and publicity.
It also got me hate. Keep in mind, there was no internet. I started getting death threats which I turned over weekly to the local post office. My house was egged regularly and finally my tires were slashed. The cop on duty refused to make the report so I could file insurance claim so inserted myself into his door so he couldn't close his cruiser and he recanted. Today he would probably have just shot me.
Then came the religious fliers in every mailing from as far north as West Virginia. How on earth someone in WV got the address of a Druid in Pompano Beach on a Rural Route is a mystery but I felt sorry for the poor misguided people sending these little books. I knew they were buying them and then paying almost a dollar to mail them, which was a lot of money in a dirt poor area that I knew well from my youth. My mother was born there. I would never have considered sending an unsolicited religious text to someone but they just kept coming and the weekly bonfire got bigger.
Back in those days, we had one enemy, Sen Jesse Helms. His idea, since lynchings had gone out of style, was to deport all pagans and he had quite a following. The IRS refused to go along with him and issued non-profit status to any religious body meeting their criteria. But old Helms wasn't through. People lost their jobs, homes and children in these beginning days. It really wasn't a question of whether someone would bake a solstice cake for you but whether they would poison it because they knew they would get away with it. People, including me, suffered constant vandalism and others had their pets killed, children beat up and family threatened. I didn't back down or off. I wasn't raised that way. Finally, ten years later, we were getting a little tired. It was perfectly okay to be a psychic, Tarot Reader or Astrologer but add the word pagan and you were not welcome. So I went on another publicity blitz and suddenly the establishment of psychics discovered people would pay to see me so it was really dumb to exclude me from their events because I was a Druid. I remember Sybil Leek's advise to me, “Use them back.” More and more people came out of the closet. Helms finally kicked the bucket and we gained a tenuous equality as “metaphysical” shops sprang up in every city and the “New Age” was becoming accepted. It was a pretty quiet 20 years and then a few years ago, I saw the hate rising again.
At first it was subtle, sending the kids to do the dirty work. Then it started coming out of the woodwork as the Dominionist movement gathered steam. Remember, I live where it started and much to the dismay of their founder, Kennedy, he knew me well. He also knew I knew where the bodies were buried and would not hesitate to call the local rag and tell them. We had an uneasy truce until he died and the Cruz faction arose.
Now that this faction of Christianity is in power, every person of another faith, another color or another sexual orientation should be scared witless. Your lives are about to go back to what mine was 40 years ago. I can't do anything. I am too well known, but if you are not fully out of the closet, slam the door and lock it. If you can move and start over, do it. Remember, anything you put on the Internet never leaves. The horoscopes I did 20 years ago are still there on websites I have never heard of until I GOOGLED them. Those horoscopes were done before the internet. Everything you do electronically leaves a trail. There are still some independent Wiccan and Pagan bookstores. They can order books for you but if you go for that instant gratification on the net you also get an instant record of your order. There are so many spying shopping bots you probably have a half dozen on your computer. All of them can be used to identify you as something to eliminated. Shop local. If you want to have an altar, make certain the room is locked. Most of us learned to have a designated room of worship with a padlock and to very circumspect about who we allowed into our homes. Black out curtains are an excellent investment.
One case I was called on in the early days involved a nudist family that had purchased 10 acres in Florida with a lake which they had dreams of turning into a nudist retreat. They had three children under 5 who swam in the lake nude. Like all proud parents, they had an album of pictures of their children in which some of them were nude. They were well known nudists and the father published a nudist newsletter. At no time were those pictures ever out of that album or shown to other people. However on a harassment raid by the DEA and local cops, they searched the trailer and found the album. The parents were arrested for child porn and their children removed from them. I don't know how long they spent in jail as they lived in the “Bible Belt” of Florida.
It hit home for me because I realized my parents could be arrested at any moment for the same charge. They had pictures of me, topless, at 5 because when I grew up, little girls went topless until school age and there was the obligatory bearskin rug nude photo of every kid, all of which were in that family album sitting in the living room. What do you have sitting around that is perfectly innocent that can be used against you because it will be?
We are entering into a period of persecution and any way any one of these Christian Jihadists can harm you, they will. With drones, cameras everywhere, Facebook, the Internet and GOOGLE earth, there is no place to hide. You have to be very circumspect with your every move. But far more than that, 40 years ago no doctor could have imagined withholding treatment or harming a patient because of their religion. Now it will become common place as it already is down here. No doctor would imagine their office taken over by the staff, and patients, even of the doctor's religion, being persecuted and harmed and they not being able to do anything about it because of contracts and insurance regulations. It is happening and now it is going to get Federal approval. This is more than baking a cake. This is life and death and you have to consider what will happen while you are unconscious.

So, yes, hide. This is not a battle we are going to win. It is a war we will win in the long run because people just don't like to be repressed for long periods but for right now, the bigots are drunk with power and they actually have the power. We must do what we always have, retreat, hide and wait and keep you children, your pets and your property well protected. It is safer to be classified a paranoid conspiracy theorist nutcase with 10 motion activated flood lights than gay or pagan. Save the pentagrams for ritual use only. Cover your tats. There is makeup. Dress conservatively. Learn to blend into the wallpaper. It is much safer there.