WE Can Make America Great, Again

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I refuse to allow myself to think that we have voted for the worst parts of humanity. I refuse to believe that Xenophobia, Homophobia, Islamophobia, Racism, and Anti-Femimism,are the things that won yesterday.  I refuse to believe that I must now fear that my neighbors, friends, and allies and family members will be rounded up, snatched from their homes and livelihoods and sent to Conversion Therapy, “back” to Africa, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, India, etc. or killed. I refuse to believe that I or anyone in my community should be or must be afraid to wear headwraps,Pentacles, Afro-Centric attire, jilbabs, abayas, afros, braids, locs or anything else cultural or religious.  I refuse to believe that people who I know and care for; wonderful, loving, kind, accepting and beautiful people who I interact with everyday, that I have prayed with, manifested with, casted with…, hell shared beers with would “not care” for my and all those I share intersectionality with to elect someone who  could cost us health,  safety, and autonomy. I refuse to ever again comfort my children and dry their tears because they fear their friends will have to leave school because their families are from afar.

No. I refuse to think or do any of this. Because I know better, I am better, and I know WE are better.

What I believe is that Fear has created a Servitor, and fear won, on both sides.  From the Tweets, Facebook posts, News pundits, family fights, unfriendings, hate crimes, hashtags and conflicts that both fan and foe of President-Elect Trump are guilty of, if nothing else is clear, what is, is that we have been operating in fear and have manifested exactly what we have focused on.

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Fear drives hate; hate is just fear unchecked. One side is fearful of nuclear war, marginalization, further loss of jobs and industries, and moral decay. The other is fearful of social justice setbacks, loss of economic safety nets, mobilization of the worst members of society,  theocracy, and, well, conservatism. Mix all of this with the fact that a lot of people have a “my way is the right way” attitude( yes, even we Pagans) and you have a recipe for mayhem.

At any rate, what’s done is done. President-Elect Trump,  while not having the majority of the popular vote, fairly won the needed number of Electoral votes. His party has the majority seating in both House and Senate. If his acceptance speech is any indication, the times of division, rancor and stalemate in Washington, D.C. are over and he seems set up to succeed. May Justice, Fairness, and Truth guide him as he leads this country.

Where our focus should lie now, is with being and molding the best humans that we can be. We can kill the Servitor that we have created by intentionally chosing to operate in an opposing energy.  That energy, Friends, is Love.

I choose to believe that we can make this country great again by choosing to be great people. I choose to believe that we all want what is just and best for humanity.  I choose to believe that everything will be well and will get better.  I choose to believe that we all know and recognize the Divine/ Ultimate Potential in each other and ourselves, and will treat each other accordingly. I believe that we ALL abhor the evils of Racism, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Sexism, Homophobia, and the like. I also chose to believe that we as people will band together and fight these monsters wherever they may appear. I chose to believe that all that was wished to succeed is a change in politics as usual and to give an outsider a chance. I chose to believe that the hope for Change won over a promise of the same. I choose to believe that we all will protect them those whom injustice targets with all we have.

I choose to stop contributing to this Servitor by feeding it with hate, vengeance and division. I acknowledge that I have contributed to and been influenced by It. But I know I am better, and you are better. I know my coworkers are better,my neighbors are better. I know that by you and I treating ALL humans with Love,Kindness, Friendship, and Respect we can defeat the Hate that Hatred has produced.  I believe that we can disagree and still be civil.  I know we will not let our great society devolve into Nazi Germany or 1950’s America as so many fear. We are too great for that. And only by us remembering this, and committing to make our society better one interaction at a time, with all that we come across can we achieve the goals laid out in President-Elect Trump’s acceptance speech:

Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me…
I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country. I’ve said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign, but rather an incredible and great movement made up of millions of hard-working men and women who love their country and want a better, brighter future for themselves and for their families. It’s a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs who want and expect our government to serve the people, and serve the people it will.

I know we as people, as Humans can do this. only by suspending the fear mongering that has consumed the last 2 years and acting out of love towards all from love of ourselves can we defeat this evil that has infiltrated society.  We know better, we are better,  we can do better, and as Magickal Practitioners and Earth lovers we must do better. Espouse the Good, reprimand the evil, Love all and always love.

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My perspective on election 2016

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I am a magickian. That means I can consciously choose to manifest change in my world and my reality. This is important today, because now the outcome of our nation’s cyclical political revolution stands boldly revealed.
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Today, I will write. I will write because I hold the power to do so, my voice is still free and this is still my country where my freedom is protected. I will write and speak for those who have placed their words and hopes and fears into my heart and would see them written. I will not flee the lands where my bloodline lies buried and my progeny grows.

In this moment, I will congratulate those among my associations who have seen their civic goals realized and offer succor to those who feel all their gains destroyed. Yet, I do not share in the joy of my brother or sister who has possibly contributed to our national image the greatest damning evidence of reactionary bigotry and anger that our elections have exhibited in decades to the world.

Voting is the right of the citizenry. The results are decided by those who participate in the systems and the rules are determined by those who make it their business to do so. Complaining and disparaging them will not change history, but perhaps will motivate the loudest among us to use that passion to commit to having hands and “skin in the game” in the political cycles to come.

I am a magickian. That means I see beyond today. I am a spiritual person. That means I pray beyond today. I am a citizen. That means I create this country’s reality BEYOND TODAY.

Millions of our United States families came out and stated that they wanted this result. The factions and fights in the pulpits, the pubs, and the political posts all came to this result. The policies that will now be enacted, and repealed, lay in the direct path of the future we have wrought with last night’s actions.
The people who put President Trump in office knew exactly what they were voting for when they did it. They knew the Republican platforms and his personal views. This is the man they voted into the role of Commander In Chief.
They voted against the rights of the LGBTQA.
They voted against the civil law enforcement equality consciousness movement that has become known as Black Lives Matter.
They voted against the integration of this society in regard to cultures, genders, orientations, abilities, and national origin.
They voted against the rights of all citizens to have access to the political process equally and without impediment.
They voted against the rights of women to have autonomy and agency over their own bodies.
They voted against the rights of medical professionals to determine appropriate care for their patients.
They voted against continuing to refine a system of open access to affordable health care.
They voted against the support of organized labor and collective bargaining.
They voted against the enforcement and acknowledgement of environmental protections.
They voted against the voting rights laws.
They voted against governmental oversight of corporate  compliance with equal employment opportunity.
They voted against housing discrimination laws.
They voted against equality and respect of women and the non-gendered and the transgendered.
They voted against the people that they did not feel looked like them.
They voted against so much.
Woman holding a sign, listing black people killed by police, and after each name, "no conviction" for all but the two most recent.
But they also voted for what they believed this new era will bring.
They voted for the right to verbalize hatred.
They voted for the right to disenfranchise other citizens.
They voted for the right to increase the militarization of the public safety officers.
They voted for the code switching agenda of saying Blue Lives Matter, when in reality it was never a choice between Blue or
Black.
They voted for no accountability for the privatization and profiteering of corporate controlled officials with their hands out to lobbyists when it comes to sacrificing the interests of the citizenry in small and big towns.
They voted for patriarchy.
They voted for Judeo-Christian supremacy.
They voted for destroying anything that they did not feel selectively exalted their spaces.
They voted for closing down college colloquies and returning to protectionist ideologies.
They voted for obstructing international trade with not plan in place.
They voted for the right to terrorize and destroy those who did not look like what they felt an American should look like in 1952 in the congressional posters.
They voted for the Ku Klux Klan, The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, and all the other groups that use (()) to call out Jews and others online and in person.
They voted to establish one supreme class to which everyone will bow.
See page for author [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
a_black_man_buying_some_of_j-_morisons_pills_hoping_they_will_make_him_white-_wellcome_v0011130 – Fae
They voted for the person who refuses services to anyone who does not believe like they do, or worship like they do.
Our majority of voters voted for what they felt was the only way to get back a shining memory of what they felt their country had in the past. A memory that was a paradise on the surface of the collective images from a “Leave it to Beaver World” where June shut her mouth, made the pies, wore the dresses and pearls, and met Ward at the door with her eyes in custody and ready to serve.
They voted for a world where there were no images of folks from other cultures competing for the same job because THEY LIVE HERE TOO. They are angry and afraid and wanted to feel that for a shimmering moment that they could slam a fist against all the change that they feel destroyed their futures and left them with uncertainty. And in doing so, they directed that fist against all of us, their sisters and brothers, who are…ALSO…citizens.
I am a magickian. I manifest things. I am a writer. I lay out my truth and beliefs. I am a Dreamer. I dream of a new possibility. There was the slightest glimmer of promise in the speech that President Trump gave last evening that may give me a shard of hope in the motes of the sun’s light on this new day.
He said
Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
It is time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all of Americans, and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.
In my heart, I must trust in this possibility that all is not the great loss it would seem. Perhaps he will show us all a secret self that has yet to be revealed. He may show that, unlike the hysterical fever dream that the zealots have induced in those who chose this outcome out of fear and not reason, he has more to him. Perhaps he has seen this movie and it has all been a plan to move forward to seize control from the corporate controlled government for a masterful surprise revolution of change and conscience. Maybe that is why he referred to a partnership with the RNC to get to the presidency. Partnerships can be dissolved, and the conservative fringe may find themselves “fired”.
I am a magickian. I manifest things. I shall keep these words upon my altar for four years and place them over the image of our 45th President in the hopes that they will sink in.

 I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. – Charlie Chaplin, “The Great Dictator” speech

 

 

 

 

To my fellow Americans, I say to you this. I am deeply disappointed in you. But I believe in the goodness of the human soul and heart and it will prevail. I will hold space for all of us, and ask you to  do the same and keep us safe as we move forward in the vision of alchemizing the next four years. We are the children of the revolutionaries, always have been. And surviving is what revolutionaries do best.
Be the revolution you want to see. Be the love you want to receive. Be safe, be good to each other, and Blessed Be.

A word on election day from the Great Lakes Witchs Council of Michigan

Today we, as United States citizens, will take part in one of the greatest civic exercises in the world. Today, we will take part in a revolution. The Founders of this nation created a legacy work wherein we can change our government through civic action without bloodshed or tyranny.

Charges of tampering, voter intimidation, misinformation, and political warfare overshadow this year’s electoral rites. However, the right of the rite is  the same. NO ONE who is eligible to vote should be turned away, intimidated, or deceived into being divested of this most revolutionary act. For make no mistake, the idea of a voting society is, indeed, a revolutionary idea.

One person, one vote. This must be held inviolate. This must be held as a sacred societal trust.

No matter what candidate or issue you choose to vote to elect or ratify, know that by casting your ballot, you engage in a mindful act that reinforces the fabric of our society. Let no person ever take this right for granted or seek to deprive their fellow citizenry of their exercising of their own.

After all is said and done this year, also be mindful of another great truth of our nation. We are one people, made of many peoples. Our ways and mores, our societies and cultures, our differences and similarities make up the wonder that is the United States of America. The good and the bad, this is us. We are a family, and like a family, after this we must heal and come together to mend our differences and work together to meet  in the private and public spaces in trust and kindness and civility.

Those who would extoll division or exclusion of our values and honored beliefs must be embraced with the same forgiveness and inclusion in our national dialogues as the most free spirited, for this is what our democratic republic stands for in essence. We protect and sustain all of our nation’s family members, even the ones we do not invite to our dinner table. Because that is who we are as a people. That person who is your enemy today, in every moment, has a choice to change or not change their views …. as do we all. But what we do not do is let the freedoms we hold dear, that of speech, religion, association, and other guaranteed to be self evident, be washed away in a tide of hatred and intolerance and fear.

When you cast your vote today, you reach out your hand and lend your voice to join the choir of our beliefs in the face of the world and your own soul and affirm that you still believe in hope and the power of one voice making a difference. For those who because of religious reasons do not vote, we ask that you lend your voice to the conversation as well. Because no one should be silenced due to practicing their beliefs, or else we betray what we say we uphold. They, too, have the support of our national family. They too have a place at our collective tables.

Today, we vote. Today we believe in hope. Today we make magic. Today we share our love of our beliefs with our fellow citizens and say, “I believe”.

And we here at the Great Lakes Witchs Council believe in miracles, the miracle of you.

The Witches of the Fresh Water Seas

My name is Kenya Coviak, and I wrote and approve this message.

Racism within Conjure and Hoodoo

Over the last few years it has become more and more common to see groups holding discussions about Hoodoo and Conjure.  A practice that was once never considered by witches to be associated with witchcraft of any kind has can now be seen on witchcraft forums, in witchcraft shops, and even in books on witchcraft and magic.  The thirst for knowledge of more practical and indepth traditions has brought this tradition out of the shadows and into the public eye.  Even shows like Supernatural show elements of the Hoodoo work in their show.

This new popularity has come with its fair share of problems.  One of the main ones being racism and accusations of cultural appropriation by non blacks who study,practice, or are interested in Hoodoo and Conjure work.  It is not uncommon to hear and see people on forums discuss how only Blacks or those who have African American heritage should be allowed to practice.  Other people believe that it is the last part of the African American identity to be appropriated into white culture.  In order to understand why this is a problem you need to understand the history of Hoodoo and Conjure.

Hoodoo and Conjure were founded by slaves during slavery.  It was created to keep them alive and hold on to their identity and ancestral heritage.  It was their only tie to their African heritage.  Hoodoo is a combination of the African traditional beliefs concerning Animisim and Herbalism, Native American Herbalism, and Christianity.  The slaves hid their use of ancestral wisdom through the use of bible verses, prayers, and Saint work.

This is the main reason why there are so many domination works as well as keep away the law spells.  It isn’t because Hoodoo workers are dominant people.  No.  It is because when a slave felt abused their only way to get back was through the practice of conjure work.  The law keep away work is traceable to protecting slaves that ran away from their owners.  Hoodoo and Conjure are all about survival plain and simple.  It is easy to see why people argue that Hoodoo and Conjure belong only to African American’s.  Yet this ignores a key component: what happened after slavery was abolished?

As the slaves became free and moved they were able to interact with other people and other areas.  This is why in some areas you find elements of Hex signs (Pennsylvanian Dutch folk magic), Quabblah, Strega, and more.  These were all poor minority communities.  They worked together to be able to survive.  They depended on each other and the practical use of magic when needed.  For years Hoodoo was only practiced in these small communities and passed down through family lines.  Hoodoo has always adapted to the world and cultures to survive.

As Hoodoo has become more popular in the magical and spiritual communities more and more non African Americans are looking to learn about the practice.  It is not common to find that there are those who feel Hoodoo and Conjure work should only be practiced by African Americans.  Those same people often accuse those interested in Hoodoo and Conjure of cultural misappropriation.  If you take the fact that historically white people have romanticized and cherry picked aspects of cultures and magical practices that appeal to their desires it makes sense that there are those within the practice of Conjure that feel it should be kept within the culture and within family lines as it has been traditionally

It is not racist for those within the practice and culture to say that no they do no want to teach or share this information.   People within a tradition or style of working have the right to tell people that they do not want to teach them.   Hoodoo for a long time was the only thing that belonged to the Black Americans.  It is their right to protect and preserve the tradition as they see fit.  If an individual doesn’t want to teach or share information that is completely up to them.

Many of the issues around racism and cultural appropriation within the practice of Hoodoo or Conjure revolves around protection work and the use of hexes or curses.    Many of those who are starting to have an interest in folk magic traditions come from a Wiccan or Wiccan influenced background in magic.  This transition is often difficult because of the vastly different approach to ethics between Wicca and Hoodoo and Conjure work hold very different sets of ethics.  Wicca and many forms of modern witchcraft the ethical practices revolve around the concept or practice of harming none.    Hoodoo and conjure however do not hold that same stance.

So how does one who is interested in Hoodoo and conjure work go about learning the practice without being accused of Cultural Appropriation?

There are few things that a person can do. The first thing is to be respectful and understand the Hoodoo and Conjure is not witchcraft.   You also have to understand that the Bible and the God of Christianity are central to the practice of Hoodoo and Conjure. Often times you see that the main issue is that witches will work spells they find on Hoodoo websites but remove the references to God or Jesus and substitute one of the many Pagan Gods to suit their specific needs.    This is not respectful.  That is cultural misappropriation.

If you remove the Bible and God from Conjure the work is no longer Hoodoo and Conjure.  The work becomes something else.  While you may be able to call it based on or inspired by Hoodoo and conjure it is not Hoodoo or Conjure.  You don’t have to be Christian to be a Conjure worker.  You just have to be willing to work with the powers of Conjure which include the Bible, Jesus, God, and the Holy spirit.  If you can not respect that part of the tradition and practice then you should find a different practice.

It is not racist for Conjure workers to say that anything without the Bible or God is not Conjure.  It is racist to remove those aspects.  It is not problem to work conjure if you are white or a witch.  It is a problem if you decide to start removing key components of the practice to make it more sanitized for your practice.  Conjure workers don’t care who you worship.  They do care that the practice is preserved.  To do that people need to learn Conjure and Hoodoo as it is practiced and not make modifications.

If a person can be respectful of the history of conjure, honor the ancestors of conjure, and work the spells using the Bible and God then they are more likely to get information and possibly find a teacher.  The best way to find a teacher and learn this culture and practice is to join those discussion groups on Facebook and other websites and prove that you are true to your desire to learn Hoodoo and Conjure.  Respect that Conjure work is as much a way of life as it is a system for working magic.  If you can manage to respect those facts about Conjure work then you are not racist nor appropriating the culture.

There are those who feel that anyone not Black can never understand or appreciate the pain and sorrow of the ancestors of Hoodoo and conjure.  That they have no idea about the hardships of slavery or the life that Black American’s may face.  While there are things that white men and women might not fully understand, they can show empathy and sympathy.  One way that healing over the past of slavery can continue is for white men and women to practice Conjure and set up altars to honor the ancestors of conjure.  Show respect to those who have come before you and show that you are remorseful for the actions of the past.  By taking those actions you not only align yourself with that culture but you also are showing the spiritual force behind conjure that you respect everything they went through and honor their sacrifices.

Only through acknowledgement of the horrors of the past can racism be eliminated.  Only by respecting the differences in the paths out there can we really understand our own path.  By respecting Hoodoo and Conjure as their own unique paths and not a part of Western Occultism or witchcraft we can establish dialogs between practices, share information and preserve the knowledge of many paths.

 

The Cloaked Politics of Paganism in Canada

Canada is a tech savvy nation with 88.5% of the population connected through the internet.  With such a high national internet user rate it seems reasonable to expect that information about any subject would be easily accessible.  But the internet is a repository for information just like any library.  Neither libraries nor the internet create information; both are repositories.  Information must exist in a library or on the internet before it can be accessed.  Herein lies a dilemma for Canadian Pagans.  The challenge appears to be about the existence of contemporaneous information on Paganism, not an issue of access.

What information exists for new or long time Pagans in Canada and what is the current state of Pagan politics North of the 49th parallel?  Statistics Canada (StatsCan) is the government agency that was founded in 1971 to support better understanding of the nation’s population, society, culture, resources and economy.    StatsCan completed the latest national household survey in July of 2016 but according to their published schedule, the freshest information won’t be released until February 2017.  Until that time, we’re limited to data from previous surveys.  Historically, StatsCan has lumped Paganism into a catch all bucket of religions called ‘Other’.  In 2001, you were included in the ‘Other’ bucket if you stated that you had a religion and did not identify as:  Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish or Eastern Religion Other.  In 2001 Canada had a reported national population of over 29.5 million individuals.  Just under 64 thousand people were labelled as ‘Other’.  StatsCan predicts this group to grow to 185 thousand by the year 2031.  We can’t determine the percentage of self-identified Pagans that are included in the bucketed number.

Interestingly, Canada does not have any state recognized religion(s).  The definition of the term ‘recognized’ is debatable.  My interpretation of the definition is that despite a national history steeped in both French and English religion and law, the Canadian government recognizes all religions similarly.  In general, religions are recognized in Canada from an administrative perspective and as charities. 

It would be easy to feel that Pagans do not have a voice on the national Canadian stage.  After all, how can the government take the Pagan electorate seriously when we’re considered ‘Other’?  I would argue that the Canadian Government struggles with the decentralized nature of Paganism.  In a 2011 Canadian Military guide for chaplaincy (http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2011/dn-nd/D2-147-2008-eng.pdf), contact information is provided for the governing bodies of many well recognized religions.  It appears that the Canadian Government is at a loss about how to recognize religions that do not have a centralized, hierarchical structure.  The guide can be found here:

http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2011/dn-nd/D2-147-2008-eng.pdf 

 Wicca was the only Pagan religion that was evident to me in the chaplaincy guide.  Further, the document did not recognize the various forms of Wicca and listed the Wiccan Church of Canada as a central body.

The Peel Board of Education, Canada’s largest school board, publishes an annual calendar of religious holidays.  The calendar states that it lists dates from 11 world religions and includes Wicca.  A copy of the 2016 – 2017 calendar can be found here: 

http://www.peelschools.org/calendar/schoolyear/Documents/2016-2017%20Holy%20Days%20Poster.pdf

Through my research it occurred to me that the key political issue for Pagans in Canada remains the matter of widespread and positive recognition.  The challenge of recognition, particularly positive recognition is not a new one for the Pagan community.  I will address avenues for recognition in a follow-up article.

One person of faith’s perspective as spoken at Black Lives Matter in Detroit

Metro Detroit is one of the most dynamic places for all voices of all faiths and views to come together and express themselves with harmony and passion, as it did at the Black Lives Matter and Activist rally in Detroit on July 8th.  As part of a continuing exposition on this matter, we bring you another voice from that day.

A sign of the times. - Photo: Kenya Coviak
A sign of the times. – Photo: Kenya Coviak

Continuing meeting and rallies are filling the calendars of activists across the state of Michigan.  Saginaw’s own community recently had a rally for the sake of peace.  Law Enforcement and community leaders came together with the people to find hope and strategies.  It was an Uplifting Peace Rally held by the New Ezekiel Project.  These folks are  seeking

“to contribute to the positive revitalization of the are through outreach in the areas of transportation, educational projects, and police and community action”. – Detroit Paganism Today

 

 

 

Interview with Spike Larr

At Michigan Pagan Fest, Spike Larr walked onstage and blew her audience away.  It was real. It was raw. It was everything it needed to be.  It was so magnificent that it had to be given space here for everyone to see and feel.  And so, she has given us permission to use her videos.  Come meet Spike Larr, and feel her roar.

Would you like to tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a non-binary trans woman, a Pagan witch, and a fire carrier for Brighid, I have a beautiful 2 1/2 year old daughter named Jasmine, I live in Ann Arbor with my lovely girlfriend, I have 2 cats, they’re jerks and I love them. I’m an active part of the Pagan community here, (I like to think, lol) and I hope to give to and learn from others in the community in whatever way I can.

Image of Spike at Michigan Pagan Fest 2016
Image of Spike at Michigan Pagan Fest 2016

How long have you been a practicing Pagan?

Well not as long as I’ve been a wishy-washy-about-my-practice-Pagan; LOL. I got into Paganism and witchcraft, I’ll say, 5 1/2 years or so ago, while I was going to a Catholic school in California, funny enough. Both California and Michigan have wonderful Pagan communities. Very different, and they both hold a place in my heart.

Do you find the Michigan Pagan community accepting as a whole?

As a whole, I think the community was very accepting of my message. But yet there have been people within the community that I have had to call out for their transphobia, had to call out for claiming to be an ally but not listening when being told they’re not being one.And generally I’ve been able to work things out, but transmisogyny is certainly alive in the Pagan community.

But I also believe that people are trying to grow and do better. Many people knew me from before my transition and so they often screw up my pronouns, but the important piece is when corrected, they apologize, correct themselves, and move on. So in general I would say our community is moving in the right direction.

How liberating was it to be able to get up and do this at Michigan Pagan Fest?

Incredibly. It was amazing just being able to share a piece of myself with the community, to stand up and say that, hey, I’m a trans woman, I’m part of this community too, and this is my experience, my feelings, my frustrations: this is me. And I got enormous support, even from those who I thought might just think I’m salty.

 

For me poetry is a form of therapy, can I assume the same applies to you?

Absolutely!

I can’t be dishonest in my poetry. Things come out sometimes that I never expected to come out of me, and performing it, writing it, everything feels like the weight of my experiences are no longer just mine to carry, but are offered to the world as a force of change.

The message in your work is so moving and strong! It’s hard to imagine the daily struggle to be transgender. As part of the LGBTQ community, I see a lot of contempt thrown my way. Even in the community, someone very close to me is transitioning. She is constantly being referred to by her ” old” name and gender. Any advice?

This happens to me all the time. I didn’t change my name, but again people who knew me, and even some who didn’t, often use the wrong pronouns and titles, and most of the time it’s as simple as a gentle, but firm, reminder. Most people I’ve found are willing to correct themselves, apologize, etc. I know how hard that can be, and I know how humiliating it can be, but being firm and loving yourself for who you are is the first step.

How hard was it for you to come to the decision to be yourself? Do you feel your family and circle of friends was accepting?

It’s complicated. I’ve always been one to be so unapologetic in who I am that it scares some people. When I came out first as non-binary, a lot of people didn’t really understand it, and some felt that I was asking too much to be referred to with gender neutral pronouns. And my partner at the time felt like I had lied to her about a part of who I am, partially because I didn’t feel safe and so I didn’t tell her first.

*Explicit Language Warning

It was a really hard time for me coming out, but I also think I learned who was supportive and who wasn’t. Thankfully I have friends online in the LGBTQ community that I could talk to and that understood what I was going through. Now my situation is a lot better, i have a wonderfully supportive girlfriend and my family has come to understand that this is a serious choice that I have made to be myself. But it was a tough road to get here.

Thank you so much for the interview. We definitely need more people like you!

I appreciate that! I think many in the Pagan community have so much to offer and I’ve learned so much from the headliners, the fire tenders, and just others I’ve chatted with in our community. I just hope that my lived experience and what comes out of it can be an asset to our community as well (smiles).

Pagan Clergy at Detroit Rally

Woman holding a sign, listing black people killed by police, and after each name, "no conviction" for all but the two most recent.

As most readers know, Alton Sterling was killed in an altercation with police on July 7, and before the next morning’s news even hit, Philando Castile also was killed during a traffic stop for a broken tail light on his car.

On Friday, July 8th, PBN News Network’s own Kenya Coviak put out a call to southeast Michigan Pagan clergy to attend the protest/demonstration in Detroit as Pagan clergy specifically – both to protest, and to offer magical means to help keep the attendees safe.

When asked why she called on Pagan clergy to participate, Coviak explained that there was a word-of-mouth call for clergy throughout the community, and she was shocked that there wasn’t any other Pagan clergy planning to represent our community. Given the amount of online activism in the Pagan blogosphere, she expected a large contingent of organized Pagan groups, but that was not to be.

 

Coviak noted, “many moments were turned into Abrahamic focused prayer moments which at times plead for deliverance from the forces against Jesus and nonbelievers. The turn to deity reflected the overall spiritual current.”

Detroit has a long history of racial tensions – between the deep segregation of 8 Mile, and the waves of immigrants that have taken over various suburbs over the years, distrust runs deep. Detroit also has a history of distrust of the police. And yet, it would seem that a wide range of people turned out for this protest.

Unexpectedly, Coviak did meet a surprising number of Pagans in the crowd.  “I had the honor to speak to many who were Pagan and felt they were the only ones in Detroit to be there who were not Christian or Jewish. Actually, there were Pagan Queer Jews in attendance as well. Along with almost every nationality you can name. It was a true rainbow tribe.”

 

Photo taken by Kenya Coviak showing some of the attendees at the protest at Campus Martius Park in Detroit – white, black, and others, including a woman in a hijab.

 

The protest in Detroit was peaceful, and Coviak said when she returned home that she had used sage to cleanse numerous people, including  Detroit police officers, and although her fingers were burnt, her heart was at peace.

Ms. Coviak will be publishing more on her experiences in the near future.