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

    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.

    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.

    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 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