Two Elders Respond to OHF Issues

Notes from a few elders

It has come to our attention recently that the ending of Iris Firemoon’s marriage to Sean Bennett has ignited a firestorm that has engulfed our new Pagan Community Center and the OHF. It is unfortunate of course, but we humans tend to have loves, loss and lives beyond even our most esteemed values and dreams.

We send our love and prayers of comfort to Iris. She obviously is in great pain. She deserves support and understanding, and her spiritual community should surround her with love and compassion.

We send love also to Sean Bennett, because he too must be suffering from the airing of the personal and intimate details of his private life. May he find comfort and support as well.

Being older yet mindful of our youthful transgressions, we are well aware that often relationships that begin with a fiery passion must surely end as well in a fiery rage. It is the way things work, but it still is painful for all concerned.

And for this we offer our love, compassion, understanding and support to all affected by the end of this relationship.

And having been in leadership positions in more than a few organizations over the decades, we also understand how interpersonal issues can obfuscate the mission, goals and activities of groups as diverse as political parties, unions, churches, nonprofits, advocacy/social justice organizations, and businesses.

We are human, and we bring out humanity into everything we do in the world, it is inevitable.

And so we offer two suggestions to the OHF in the interest of learning from this painful episode.

1. We suggest a bylaws change to the effect that board members cannot be involved with other board members in an intimate relationships, as business owners, work for the same boss, have supervisory relationships or be related by marriage or blood. If two or more board members find their soulmate on the board, all but one needs to resign.

2. And although many would feel otherwise, we feel that Sean’s membership on the board is currently a liability that OHF can ill afford. Regardless of how you come down on the dissolution of their marriage, the board and by extension our community center cannot operate effectively while this scandal is alive.

There was a time, that Katrina Messenger faced a similar issue with her membership on the board of a nationally recognized organization. Despite being innocent of any wrongdoing, a whisper campaign against her was making it difficult for the board to operate. So she resigned in the interest of the organization's health and well being.

We do not think Sean is guilty of anything except being human and fallible just like the rest of us. So this is not a condemnation of him in any way. We just think the fallout from his marriage’s dissolution is harming the community center. And we as a community could be better served by his stepping down from the board to become maybe a volunteer of some sort if he so desires.

Now we know that our opinions are just one among many, many opinions. But we hope that our input can be heard at the very least by those whose hearts, like our own, are in great pain because of all that has transpired as of late.

And to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak, we freely offer our spiritual counseling services to all parties involved in this issue. And further, we are willing to act as mediators for all the offended parties.

We just love our interlacing, overlapping, beautifully diverse communities of pagans. And so we pray for the best possible outcome with the least harm to all concerned.

In service and blessings
Katrina Messenger
Eridanus Kummerow

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Thu, 08/09/2012 - 10:30am.

SBF ISO SM for Love

You would think that in today’s cultural/social climate that no one would have to come out of the closet ... as straight. But you would be wrong.

For almost twenty years now, I have publicly stated my bisexual orientation as a form of truth telling. I call it truth telling because during my years as a NOW activist, my referring to myself as straight seemed like a lie. Not that I was dating women, or sleeping with women or even lusting after women in general. It felt like a lie because I knew that I had deep feeling for a handful of women that I had not acted upon because of my fear of rejection. Granted, there were hundreds of men I had not approached for the same reason, but calling myself straight felt like a convenient lie.

So in the early nineties, I came out as bisexual.

Then something went awry.

Suddenly, I wasn’t a straight woman owning up to bisexual tendencies, I became in the eyes of others a lesbian being .... magnanimous?!?!?

But now I was in a quandary.

Do I make a statement like, “I am not now nor have I ever been ... a lesbian.” Or keep silent to strengthen our solidarity? I identify as queer for reasons other than my sexual orientation, but when *is* it appropriate to, “draw lines of demarcation” as we Marxists use to say?

It is all coming to a head in a hurry because I am explicitly pursuing a quest for love. I am letting all my friends know I am available. But it occurred to me, that for them to “help a sister out”, they have to know *what* I am looking for in terms of a mate.

And so after publicly requesting a love spell during Michael Smith’s recent Runes class, I felt it was time for me to come out of the closet ... as straight .... or rather as a het-identified bisexual cis woman.

Thanks for listening.

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Wed, 08/01/2012 - 6:26pm.

The Father World

There is a lot of misunderstanding and misconceptions when it comes to the field of psychology. These issues often are compounded by misleading terminology that reflect the utter lack of self-awareness plus frankly a good deal of misogyny amongst the early psychologists.

This is especially true when psychologists refer to the psychological concepts of Mother and Father. Early feminists were correct to be suspicious if not all out hostile to the “blame the mother” brand of psychotherapy. Especially since those views were politically used to literally push women back into the domestic sphere.

But what was missing from the public discourse was the specific meanings early psychologists attached to the terms, Mother and Father. And although the early definitions were gender based, the deeper meanings were not intended to refer to one’s actual mother and father.

If we were defining these terms today, we would probably use terms like inner and outer, or domestic and cultural when referring to the differing spheres of influence.

The Mother world referred to the domestic realm, which included one’s family, along with possibly your close friends and neighbors. The Father world was the realm outside of the domestic realm, including your job if it was not a family business. Most institutions exist in the Father world, i.e. government and business. And depending on your cultural affiliations, your church, health care providers and entertainment could exist in either world. For example, if your primary form of entertainment was singing around the dinner table, it was Mother world. If you went to nightclubs, concerts and theaters, it was Father world. The doctor which cared for your entire family and made regular house calls was more Mother world. If the doctors at the local hospital knew all of your children names ... it was borderline.

Each of the worlds require a certain orientation, a way of handling oneself in relation to the requirements of each world. We learn these approaches from one’s parents or parental figures as a child. And this is where the confusion sets in. Either parent or parental figure can teach you about both worlds. But early psychologists assumed that mothers teach the Mother world portion and fathers teach the Father world portion exclusively -- and thus the problems with the nomenclature is revealed.

Mother world orientation provides lessons of intimacy, boundaries, how to care for oneself. Concrete skills include how to make your bed, brush your teeth, eat at a table, use a bathroom ... all the way up to how relate to others in ways that are loving and respectful. An astute reader will recognize the association with the lower four chakras. We can also see how and why this orientational training is so easily associated with our actual mothers. However we learn the Mother world skills from everyone involved in our upbringing which can include fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, babysitters and early teachers.

And depending on your cultural heritage, almost anyone in a parental role can be the source of Father world orientation. So what are concrete Father world skills?

Father world skills include things like how to create a budget, pay bills, dress for an interview, how to talk to potential employers, how to behave in a restaurant, knowing when you are not safe, knowing who to trust or distrust ... all the way up to how to show up to work on time and how to stand up for yourself. And here you will notice the alignment with the solar plexus up to the third eye.

I am simplifying the list of skills, but if you think about it for awhile almost anyone can come up with lists of what one should learn from each world.

I noticed that the differences between the Mother and Father worlds has been coming up in my spiritual counseling sessions a lot lately. And this is worth noting for a variety of reasons.

Most of us are acutely aware of the repercussions of a faulty Mother world orientation. We see people who cannot take care of themselves; hell many of us need remedial lessons in self care like getting adequate sleep, nutrition and playtime.

But the inadequacy of Father world orientation can come as a surprise to most of us. Almost everywhere I look, I see people who are missing key components of the Father world orientation. Culturally we can see whole portions of the national debate missing a basic understanding of simple maxims like, “give from your surplus”, “invest in your future”, “you don’t get something for nothing”, or “judge folks by their actions, not their words.”

Often Mother world maxims like “you will attract more with honey than with vinegar” are inappropriately applied to the Father world where the the maxim is closer to “treat a person with respect and you can gain a customer.” I cannot tell how many times I have walked out of a store because a salesperson refused to just listen to me, and instead put on a fake smile and tried to oversell.

Mother world orientational training is where you learn how to care for yourself and your family. Father world orientational training is where you learn how to be a responsible member of society. We have culturally been blaming women and mothers for over a century. I think it is high time we admit that the problem may actually be a neglectful and missing Father.

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Thu, 05/03/2012 - 2:19pm.

A History of Violence

I had a discussion this morning about the history of violence within my family. But that is not exactly the truth. We were discussing the history of violence within my urban community ... no .. within African-American culture ... within American culture ... within human ... within life.

The violence is unmistakeable. The smashing of horns, the slashing of teeth and claw, the blood and gore ... the cries of fear, pain and anguish ... after a while, it all starts to blend together.

But we humans take even the violence inherent in life and dare I say ... improve upon it. We add guns, machetes, bombs, drones, Molotov cocktails and napalm. We kill teenagers in the street, mothers in their beds, and children ... everywhere we kill children.

I have just finished reading The Hunger Games, where children are reaped to fight to the death to atone for the “sins” of their ancestors.

But what are the sins of the massacred Afghani families? What sin did those women commit in todays school massacre? Or in tonights beating of a woman somewhere, anywhere ... all around the world?

- - -

But that is not what we were discussing either. We were discussing the serpent that lays coiled deep down inside of me. The serpent that even now is poised, ready at a moment’s notice. This is not the kundalini, it is something else entirely.

This serpent is my penchant to react with violence.

It never sleeps. it never relaxes. It is armed to the teeth. And the only thing keeping it from rising and blotting out the sun ... is my training.

But this serpent is a product of violence. Just like the violence we are inculcating in the minds, bodies and souls of children all around this planet. We are ripping through their flesh and blood and bone and forcibly implanting them all with this serpent.

You who watched your mother being beaten and raped, you who curl deep into your father’s arms as the bombs explode, you who even in the womb can taste the blood of anguish ... all of our serpents like ticking time bombs waiting for the least provocation, injustice or insult.

And what does the world hand us? Hunger, fear, war and death.

As if the serpent is not already enough.

- -

And this serpent inside of me lays in wait. Waiting for the day when my training will not be enough, when my will falters, and my heart breaks open ... screaming ... Enough!

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Tue, 04/03/2012 - 4:04pm.

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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 2 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 5 weeks ago