katrina's blog

Why Talk About Myths?

“With the world going to hell in a hand-basket, why on earth are you wasting time talking about myths and fairytales?”

This is the unspoken question I face nowadays as I promote my upcoming myth series, Loss of Innocence. It is an excellent question, I must admit. There seems to be no end to the list of atrocities, scandals, political shenanigans, massacres and environmental outrages. It seems as if we either need to storm the battlements for life, liberty and justice or collectively bury our heads in the sand.

At a time like this, why would anyone want to spend her time studying those old tales of endangered children, mean middle aged women and absent fathers? Why indeed?

As I mentioned way back in one of my very first blogs, the old gods do not just fade away when their temples are destroyed. They remain in this realm by inhabiting or overshadowing those elements of nature that most resemble them in power, attitude and focus. So the gods of war haunt the battlefields and the gods of love leer suggestively in the red light districts. The gods of healing cycle through the hospital air system and the gods of knowledge sink into the libraries and lecture halls.

The same is true for the old tales.

When these old stories, like the old gods, are no longer spoken about around the glowing embers, when the dark is no longer propitiated with song and dance, and the bloodied teeth of the night terrors are no longer allowed to move freely through the words and gestures of the griot ... they take on lives of their own.

And these old tales and these old gods come alive without the mediation of culture, elders and the soul of humanity. So instead of us offering the first fruits of the harvest to the agricultural deities, we instead place monsanto derivatives into their soil of their bodies. Instead of offerings for the sweet waters of our rivers, we let industrial and superfarm waste spread diseases to all that lives down river. (And face it, we all live down river.) So the stories and the gods become distorted caricatures of their real nature. So the tortured land taints our food. And the dark tales enters the blood of the willing and terror is let loose upon the land .... and upon our very children.

So I seek answers within the words of our ancestors. Maybe we can identify why the wolf waited for Red Riding Hood instead of devouring her as soon as he found her in the woods. Or we can learn the skills of the dwarfs and rescue the lost children. Or maybe, we can strengthen our hearts, brains, homes and courage for the work that is already in our hands. And then maybe, just maybe ... we can reconcile these beasts of our own makings.

Surely it is worth a try. Join me for the first seminar on February 27th at 8 pm eastern. You can either dial in on our toll free number or join via the internet. This first session is free. Register online at www.reflectionsmyst.org

See you then.

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Sun, 02/10/2013 - 11:21pm.

STFU Already!

Okay, this has to be said outloud or I am going to burst.

If you are a man, and you find yourself discussing rape ...

UNLESS you ...

  • ...have been a rape victim,
  • ... have held a screaming, bloody woman in your arms all night so she could find some kind of peace,
  • .... have held a screaming bloody child for the same reason,
  • .... are activiely working to stop men from raping, or
  • ... have put your body on the line to help take the night back for women,


    You have no fucking idea what you are talking about,


    And if you are a woman ( or a man) who cares about woman having the freedom to continue to be part of the well spring of change that it so needed in this world.


    that is all ...@#$%^...

    Posted in

    Submitted by katrina on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 1:52pm.

  • Unpacking a Community Crisis - Part 2

    The Open Hearth Foundation has had as it primary charter the founding of a pagan community center here in the Washington DC metro area. I had been an early critic and skeptic, because as a native Washingtonian, I have longed been irritated when things are named after my city but actually reside in Maryland or Virginia.

    So in January of last year when I was invited to a local leadership summit held by OHF, I was surprised when we reached general consensus that the center actually be located in DC. At the time, I was also greatly impressed with the leadership of Iris Firemoon and Maria Aquila. They listened to our feedback, frustrations and hope.

    So when the center opened this year, I was so proud of OHF but most especially damn proud of the two of them. They kept their promise and they manifested our dreams. Iris, a charismatic, hard working and seasoned leader, lead the board of OHF into its greatest success.

    But OHF failed Iris in many ways.

    As a community, we have a responsibility to support and protect our up and coming leaders. In my years of running groups as small as a coven to statewide organizations like Maryland NOW with close to 10,000 members, the one thing that came up over and over again was how do we grow and nurture our leaders.

    One of the ways we can harm our leaders is to treat them as if they are not human or have human foibles. We do this by not building in feedback loops, open and transparent processes, and escalation procedures. These procedures not only protect the organization, they also protect our leaders from themselves.

    And we failed Iris when she fell in love. We failed to protect her from herself. There should have been an automatic process that clicked in to insure that Sean was removed from a leadership position. The other concerned and alarmed board members should have known who to contact to voice their concerns. Members of the community, including myself, should have known who to contact to express our concerns.

    OHF has taken steps to correct these issues, but it is way too late to help Iris. And folks like myself, who continually voiced concerns informally, waited too late to make them public. As a result we, all of us, failed Iris.

    And so here we are with Iris in great pain having suffered emotional and mental abuse, feeling forced out of leadership just as she achieved her greatest success, and feeling as if her only option was to publicly air her grievances against her husband and the board of the organization she once ran.

    You will notice that I never faulted Iris for blogging her pain. As a feminist, I will never seek to silence a woman. I will hold people accountable when they overstep the boundaries of fair play, or when they manipulate processes or people toward the achievement of personal goals. But I will never seek to silence a woman who speaks her truth.

    This is also why I can hold compassion for Iris as a woman while critiquing her actions as a leader.

    And this is a key point.

    Many folks acted as if this crisis was simply about either being for Iris or against her. This is the same polarization we hear from the Tea Party, the Religious Right and the current leadership of the Republican Party.

    But we as pagans can ill afford that kind of politics inside our communities. We should be able to be more nuanced. Our paths, though differing all honor the earth, the seasons, the masculine and the feminine, and the light and the dark. We literally stand at the crossroads and find ways to dance and make magick together.

    And so we need to be very careful when we find ourselves being pulled for or against anything. We need to find ways to be not simply for-or-against but more broadly both/and.

    I both admire and respect Iris, and believe that things went too far in the subsequent attacks on Sean. Sean may be a lot of things, both admirable and deadly. But he is also a human being. And with the attacks on him and OHF, it opened up a negative spiral that led many folks who otherwise hold to standards of acceptable behavior in public to begin making lewd, nasty and horrible statements about Iris, Sean, OHF and Firefly.

    And it was because of those statements that I felt I had to step in to protect all of them in my original post. My early posts were spells to stop folks from filling the airwaves with so much toxic energy that serious debate and discussion of the core issues was extremely difficult. People were un-friending long time colleagues within social media at the drop of the hat without listening to each other or respecting legitimate differences of opinion or perspectives.

    It is a sad day when members of a community cannot respectfully disagree with one another. And what hurts most of all is that we could have avoided the entire episode if we had treated Iris and her leadership as the precious natural resource it was.

    And so let me be the first to apologize to Iris for not having her back when she needed us the most. I am sorry I did not sit down with you and express my concerns. I am sorry I felt compelled to just offer words of support whenever I saw you without providing real support when I knew you needed it.

    I know you are angry with me right now, but that is fine and in many ways quite healthy. Be as angry as you need to be, I can take it. But also know that I will also be your biggest supporter when and if you are ready to step back in the sphere of local leadership. We at the Order are praying for your continued healing, an easy delivery of a healthy baby, and that your spiritual community continues to hold and protect you.

    You have my respect and love.

    Katrina Messenger

    Posted in

    Submitted by katrina on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 1:34pm.

    Unpacking a Community Crisis

    Last week, I had very different goals when I entered the fray concerning Firefly House and OHF. Last week, my colleague Eridanus and I were simply trying with various degrees of success to calm down the vitriol and testeria(1) that was rampant in the various social media channels.

    But this week is a different week. And with folks on either side either licking their wounds or patting themselves on their collective backs, it is now time to unpack what actually happened. If we as a community are to truly heal, we must extract from this painful episode any lessons that would help us in the future should a similar crisis occur, and we need to collectively hold accountable the guilty parties.

    There is a lot of ground to cover so I am going to take my time in this effort since *I* am under no pressure to hurry my efforts.

    So I am beginning with the Pagan Newswire collective and its Washington, DC branch, Capital Witch. Let us start with the recent statement from PNC in regards to the Capital Witch article that ignited the firestorm.

    I am old school in many ways, and as an activist for over forty years, I have a long history of discerning what is hidden in plain sight. So my rule has always been if a group refuses to be specific and makes grandiose statements, something is hidden in the details. And vice versa, if a group provides way too many details, something is lurking in the larger picture.

    PNC produced a statement that groups what happened here in DC with something unrelated that happened in a bureau in the Bay Area of northern California. The message here is that the PNC is diligent in policing their bureaus. “We are on the job!” This is the purpose of the Corrections portion of most daily newspapers as well. “We will hunt down all inaccuracies no matter how minor!”

    But just like the correction section of the Post for example will never feature an admission of “I failed to do my job as a reporter and just parroted a press release only later to find out that a government agency is *actually* capable of lying!” Publishing a correction is not the same as having a culture of transparency, journalistic excellence, objective investigation, and attention to detail.

    So now let’s take our time and look at what is published by the PNC as part of their reflective process. Three things jump out at me immediately.

    1. If the DC bureau staff person, Jen Moore, was the one with the most objective stance, why wasn’t she the one to at least review the article?

    What is missing here is that the bureau chief, David Salisbury, not only made the decision to not wait for Jen Moore to write the article, but he also made the decision to bypass the entire internal mechanism of the DC bureau in reviewing the article. Most of the other staff in the local bureau have substantial journalistic credentials. So the question becomes, why were these people in particular omitted from the process?

    One possible theory is that the local folks would have recognized that all the sources were Firefly members or supporters. They also would have caught that Literata was being quoted out of context. They might even have taken the time to get quotes from other parties relevant to the article. They could have definitely corrected the biased tone by adding actual facts about OHF funding and fiscal health. At the very least someone could have checked whether Iris actually complain to the OHF before launching her public article(And the answer is ... no).

    2. So the PNC Managing Editor was receiving calls and emails asking for the issue to be covered. Why would any local disinterested party contact the national bureau to ask that a local issue be covered?

    What is missing here is the identities of the folks calling for coverage. I highly suspect that they were all Firefly people. Why? Because who else but the creators of a press release would ask that someone in a perceived position of power to pay attention to it.

    This is a tactic straight out of both grassroots organizing and the music business. Write a press release then call the editors of the newspaper asking them to cover the issue. Or sending a demo tape to a producer then call radio stations asking them to play the record.

    And really, how come this did not occur to the Managing Editor that it could have been a possible ruse to get publicity? Do they not ask for organizational affiliations from their sources?

    3. “The article was presented to the Executive Editor as a group-written piece ...” and “This was not written by three or more journalists. “ Okay, this is painful say but when something is presented as being written by a group and it is discovered that it was written by an individual, there is a word for that. It is called a LIE! And calling it unacceptable is ... basically ... unacceptable.

    But more to the point, why was it called a group piece when it clearly was written by an individual, one David Salisbury? This is another question that the PNC failed to ask.

    Initially I thought that the only reason I could see for pretending the article was a group effort was to hide behind Capital Witch instead of taking the heat personally. But I now think that something else was amiss in this process. But before I go into that with more detail, let’s keep unpacking this issue.

    So now we see that there is a legitimate set of questions that it appears that the PNC failed to ask or worse probably did not even realized was needed to be asked.

    But we are left with these questions and what they could possibly mean in the context of this article? Well let’s restate the questions as statements.

    The Washington, DC bureau chief bypassed all local processes to send a controversial article to the national bureau for review. He also lied about the process that produced the article (or to be generous, he failed to correct a misunderstanding). At the same time, members of the religious/spiritual community who authored the press release and of which the DC bureau chief is a High Priest are sending emails and calling this same national bureau asking that this issue be covered.

    So let’s step back and ask ourselves what this looks like to the average person?

    I tell you what it looks like to me, and that is a concerted campaign by Firefly House to get the PNC in general and Capital Witch in particular to join in their libelous campaign against Sean Bennett.

    It was bad enough that Firefly jumped all the way to Def Con level 1 by withdrawing their funds from OHF without seeking internal measures of solving any problems or concerns. But to endanger an entire community center because Iris Firemoon was angry at her husband and so manipulated national and community resources to get back at him is contemptible on a good day.

    People in this community worked hard to get this center. Iris was a part of a long history of individuals and groups pulling together to make it possible. And to literally treat the center and the people who run it as fodder for her intra-marital battles is beneath contempt.

    Iris Firemoon, David Salisbury, and the entire Firefly community owes the rest of us, and OHF in particular, a huge apology.

    Katrina Messenger

    1: Hysteria has at its roots a belief that women are highly susceptible to fits of exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion. Some old school feminists sometimes uses the term Testeria as fair play

    Posted in

    Submitted by katrina on Thu, 08/23/2012 - 4:53pm.

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    Recent comments

    • Nephthys (not verified)

      I've been with Firefly for a number of years, I recently left my position at The Firefly Community to pursue other dreams but to be clear how much I was involved before I address the statements made, I was a teacher, Priestess, member of the Inner Circle of the Council of Elders, Course Contributor, Clergy, Delegate and Divination reader so I was quite involved with Firefly on many levels.

      I am offended by your statement that Firefly is cultish. Given my involvement as listed above I can safely say that Firefly members are not cultish in behaviour nor is Firefly cultish in of itself. I am no longer involved with Firefly in any strong capacity other than that of a student so I can also safely say this is not coming from a blind faith position. I will be the first to admit that part of the reason I left Firefly was because I did not agree with some of the changes Lady Iris intended to make, that being said, I don't support the idea that abuse should be turned into a political statement.

      I don't know Sean and I am not close to Lady Iris (I live in a different country) and have not commented on the situation with her marriage but some of his behaviours are reprehensible. If a President did this he would be impeached and booted so I fail to see why it should be ignored and relegated to 'personal marital issues' when behaviour like this is indicative of larger psychological issues. If Sean Bennett is allowed to use and abuse women in this fashion, eventually he would work his way through the single ladies in the OHF and what would you be left with?

      2 years 4 weeks ago
    • Virginia Carper (not verified)

      I for one have been pondering this question. Iris did highlight a valuable point - how are checks and balances established to prevent potential abuse and to air concerns. These are hard lessons that groups need to learn.

      Without denying people their agency, how do you set up a system that will prevent abuse by other members? How far does a group go to ensure the mental and emotional safety of the adult members?

      For example, I know with my disability (brain injury), I would deeply resent being told that the group is looking out for my best interests. It would seem to be paternalistic on the group's part to assume that I cannot fend for myself. But because of my disability, I can be easy prey for a con-artist. How do you solve a dilemma like that? Can this be encoded or is this sort of thing too nebulous to pin down?

      2 years 5 weeks ago
    • Virginia Carper (not verified)

      I have a traumatic brain injury.

      That being said, I got caught in the cross-fire in the Firefly Campaign, since I did not get with the program - i.e. Firemoon was abused by a sexual predator, who for the sake of the community had to be removed. I was shocked at how this mantra was repeated over and over everywhere it could be. I was shocked at how the Firefly folks did not identify themselves as they sought to achieve their goals. It left a poor taste about Firefly in my mouth since I started to regard them as "cultish", incapable of independent thought or discussion. Also it disturbed me how the Firefly folks who had nothing to do with DC, carried water in the campaign as well.

      Since I had lot of free time, I researched the consistent posters and everything I could find, and an disturbing picture arose. The one you described of a one-sided campaign to achieve a stated end, without proper identification or perspective.

      As for the brain injury - I got raked over the coals for making light of the issue from an avowed healer, who thought my injury was a ruse. That scared me into thinking that perhaps my impression of the "cultishness" of the Firefly group was true. (I know cult is a loaded word, but I cannot think of the word that would indicate a group of people, emotionally inflamed with one mission in mind, and not allowing any dissent.)

      2 years 5 weeks ago
    • Kali Firemoon (not verified)


      I am so sorry that we have not met yet since it so obvious from your comments that you are a close personal friend of Iris’s and know all there is to know about the situation from a front row seat. I mean, after all, one who has seen a woman four months pregnant, losing weight and physically appearing to not be pregnant would of course understand the emotional, and yes, physical stress she was under. But of course, since you were there I don’t need to remind you of that. So lets move on to the rest of the story, you know where her husband chose to have unprotected sex with someone else, who I am sure was a complete virgin and posed no risk to mother or child, and then husband went home to engage in carnal activities with his wife, confident that his unborn child was never at risk. Yes, I am sure that all of your female students understand why you are firmly in the husband’s court. After all, it’s always the woman’s fault when marriages go bad. Or at least that is what I seem to glean from your article. Yes, I am Firefly, and I was one of the one’s chosen to help this woman after she was victimized by this predator who seems to have persuaded the pagan community that it is acceptable to treat not one, not two but at last count four woman as though they were simply a means to his end. And BTW I know she attempted to alert the community to her situation and apparently no one felt it worth even a cursory investigation. Oh yes, one more example of us not wanting to rock any one’s boat. I will tell you that in response to her story, several other pagan women have come forward with similar stories of abuse reported to the male members of a community met with similar disdain and an obvious desire to hide this type of behavior. Do I believe it happened this time, yes; do I believe that this community is willing, no matter the cost, to hide this type of behavior, yes. No one wants to call attention to the pagan community because we already have an undeserved stigma. But that does not mean we should allow behavior none of us condone simply because we are afraid of controversy. If one of us needs be sanctioned, then we either stand and sanction or accept the stigma so many would place upon us. We need to “police” our own. When four and probably five women come forth and tell the same story of predatory behavior against women we either act or fold the tents and go home. So I suggest you talk to all of them before you post any more pontifications. I also realize you can never post this but we both know you will have read it.

      2 years 5 weeks ago
    • Cara Schulz (not verified)

      Hello Katrina,
      Although we know one another, mostly online but also when we met at Sacred Harvest Festival, for your readers let me note that I'm the Managing Editor of PNC-News and the Co-Editor of PNC-Minnesota. I was the primary author of the PNC-News statement that you are writing about.

      The persons who contacted me asking when PNC would cover this were not Firefly members. Most were not local to DC, but were Pagans and polytheists in other parts of the country who had donated to the Pagan community center in DC and naturally had an interest in it. Why would they contact me? Because I'm the Managing Editor and people often contact me to ask if PNC is covering a story or to request that we cover a story. That's how we get many of our articles - through our readers.

      As for why PNC-News put two different situations in one statement, it's because they are related in nature and both needed to be addressed promptly.

      If anyone has any questions, we encourage them to contact us and ask them.

      2 years 5 weeks ago
    • Kat, Emralde (not verified)

      Thank you for this perspective. I very much appreciate the voice of the elders as I struggle with my own (not-voiced) feelings about this situation and its outcome.

      2 years 7 weeks ago