In a recent story regarding the sentencing of a ‘druid’ who was preying on folks on the fringes of his local Pagan community, widely respected Pagan Journalist Jason Pitzl-Waters of The Wild Hunt fame wrote the following…
“Naturally, many in our wider community will want to stress that Doherty wasn’t a part of any established group, and that is true, he was by all accounts a drifter who clung to the edges of our community, but I also think that obscures the larger lesson to be learned here. A vast percentage of modern Pagans aren’t part of any established group, or are members of groups and traditions so small they hardly count as “established” on any national or even regional scale. This creates a culture where we tend to ascribe a certain amount of legitimacy to any individual practitioner as a common courtesy, which creates fertile grounds for those who want to abuse that trust. I’m not saying we should stop trusting, or that everyone should join a national organization if they want to be taken seriously, only that our decentralized nature makes us uniquely vulnerable to con-men and monsters.
What can we do about it? Along with a culture of love and trust, we also need to create a culture of responsibility and frankness about what will and will not be tolerated within our communities, and make in known to the wider world. A shared covenant of ethics for events and community functions that clearly states our vigilance and zero-tolerance towards any who would abuse the mind or body of a child (or advocate same).
An ethic that says that no real Pagan teacher or clergy will ever demand sex, especially from a minor, in exchange for initiation, or in “celebration” of anything. That if you are in a situation, either with an individual, or group, that makes you feel uncomfortable, or pushes your sexual boundaries, that it’s OK to get out and alert someone you trust (parent, relative, teacher). That if someone in our community, or claiming to be a part of our community, transgresses sexually, that’s it’s not only OK to alert law enforcement officials immediately, but strongly encourged.That no oath is broken when a rapist or abuser is brought to justice. That no god or goddess requires the sacrifice of your mind, youth, or innocence to some supposed representative. That no matter how wise or powerful someone seems, there is no basis for mandatory ritualistic sex in modern Pagan rituals. That sanctified abuse is just abuse.
I think a shared ethics statement like that should happen, that it should be promoted widely, and that any gathering can sign on to it. Its tenets should be posted prominently at festivals, conventions, shops, and pride days where would-be abusers might want to hunt. It won’t prevent all abuse, or curtail all abusers, but it might save some from harm, and that would make it worthwhile. I encourage our leaders to put aside the politics and self-promotion for a moment and really work on this.” ~Jason Pitzl-Waters (c) April 20, 2010
Yes, yes, YES!!!
Now please take a moment to go say thank you to him…