Starhawk on Faith in the Washington Post


"Starhawk is a prominent voice in modern Wiccan spirituality and cofounder of reclaiming.org, an activist branch of modern Pagan religion, and author of ten books."

"Time to Apologize to Witches

I've always thought that the ability to apologize gracefully is a mark of a good leader. We all make mistakes -- even popes, and whole religious traditions. An apology is a way to take responsibility, to signal a change, and to assure the world that it won't happen again.
And if apologies are being given out, Witches would like one. It's more than time that the Catholic and Protestant Churches both apologized for centuries of persecution of Witches, Pagans and those they deemed 'heretics' for believing something different than standard dogma. How about an apology for the Papal Bull of Pope Innocent the Eighth, in 1484, that made Witchcraft an heresy and unleashed the Inquisition against traditional healers, midwives, and any woman unpopular with her neighbors for being too uppity? It's high past time to apologize for the Malleus Maleficarum, a vicious document written by two Dominican priests in 1486 that created a whole mythology of Satan worship, attributed it mostly to women, and unleashed a wave of accusations, torture, and judicial murder that have haunted us ever since. An apology won't do much good, now, to those accused, tormented, and destroyed because someone coveted their property or needed a local scapegoat, nor to their children left motherless or fatherless centuries ago. But it might clear some air.
One of the reasons many of us modern-day Wiccans still proudly call ourselves Witches is to consciously identify with the victims of those persecutions. The Witch persecutions are a suppressed history of abuse. Just as suppressed memories of childhood abuse can hamper us in adult life, suppressed cultural histories still constrain our emotions and our imagination in subtle ways. The Witch persecutions left a residue of fear inside women--that if we speak too loudly or too forcefully, become too strong or visible, we will be attacked. They made imagination, intuition, and magic suspect. They set a pattern that judicial torture is sanctified once your enemy has been labeled 'evil'. And they made nature herself something a dangerous and suspect.
We use the word "Witch" consciously, as a way of reclaiming our power as women and as men. We reclaim the sacredness of our bodies and our sexuality, the healing traditions rooted in an understanding of the natural world, the power of intuition and imagination, the respect for nature and the love for all living things. As long as there's a word someone can use to shut down thought, we're not free. Claim the word, shed light on the hidden history, lance the wound, and we can begin to heal.
So yes, it's time for an apology. The viability of all nature's life support systems are threatened today by what our civilization has become. What better time for the religions of the book to signal a new respect for the religions of nature?"


Until next time...

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