As a white, cis woman in the southern US, “safety” has always been a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, I have undeniable Privilege, and I must be wary of misusing it. My tears can get people in all kinds of trouble, up to getting people killed. (See: Emmett Till). On the other hand, the group above me on the social power scale – white cis men – are as likely to target me with violence as anyone else. In some ways even more so.
When I was 16 and got my driver’s license, my white Republican mother had a whole talk with me about getting pulled over while alone. Never pull over on an empty street. Especially after dark. Slow down so the police know you’re not trying to escape, but then drive until you’ll be seen.
Not Getting Raped 101.
This was 1986, long before cell phones. Back then when you left the house, you were just out – nobody knew where you were until you showed up again. My parents always wanted an itinerary of course, and they generally got one. Not that it was ever accurate. For the longest time “spot Lisa’s car” was my mother’s favorite game. Because it was never where I said it was gonna be.
All that seems so innocent now. Back then it was because I was hanging with a crowd of older guys who treated me like a kid sister (they let me tag along because I was working and had money for the alcohol their IDs could provide. They also grudgingly defended me as one of the pack if an outsider made unwelcome moves I couldn’t shut down on my own).
But now, I’m feeling the need to brush back up on all that safety I ignored all those years ago.
Things Have Shifted Rather Suddenly
I have been out as a Pagan for 6 or 7 years now. Once I was able to tell my husband without causing a divorce (he’s still happily Pentecostal) I had nothing to lose. I have bumper stickers with the moon and a big crow and a few leftie sayings (no “coexist” though, I know too much about the ✝️). And I have been very public on social media.
All of a sudden I’m seriously concerned about this.
Then there’s Andrew Torba, CEO of social media platform Gab and advisor to Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Joe Mastrianio. Torba has a history of antisemitism (Gab is a safe haven for extremists who’ve been banned from other sites) but said this on July 25th:
Look at the fruits of what happens when we allow pagans, Jews, non-believers, atheists to run our country, OK? What happens? What is the fruit of that? Well, the fruit of that is massive inflation, a border invasion, billions and billions of dollars being sent to foreign countries. You know, a suicide epidemic in this country. Deaths of despair. Fentanyl deaths skyrocketing. And just this laundry list of stuff, OK? So this is what happens when non-believers are in positions of power and run our government.Andrew Torba via Gab TV 7/25/22
People like me making policy decisions have led to an epidemic of death and despair. This is the language of Othering, of Fascism, of genocides. And pagans and other religious minorities are nowhere near the only target.
Trans Persecution At Lightning Speed
Wasn’t it just a few months ago the main focus was on who could play what sport? Those laws, and of course the “bathroom bills” (hey from NC where we been doing bathrooms almost a decade!) almost feel quaint now that states are trying to outlaw affirming care and puberty blockers, yank kids from supportive parents and even forcibly de-transition adults.
The Overton window moved so fast it looked a sliding glass door.
I have an adult child who came out as trans and began their journey to transition over this same period. To say we are anxious is the mother of all understatements. She bothers nobody. Hell she hardly even leaves our property.
Why would anyone in Raleigh – or anywhere else for that matter – care?
The Bigger Problem Is Close To Home
The more immediate problem for my family is our local population.
These are not the people I remember from when I lived here as a kid. Yeah, they were always insular and suspicious of outsiders. Meeting someone new meant figuring out who you were related to and placing you accordingly. But even if someone was related to “those” particular so-and-so’s, you wouldn’t be mean to their face.
The highest praise one mountaineer could give another was, “why they’d give you the shirt right of’n their back” even if it meant going cold.
And the absolute worst thing you could say about a body was that “they’s so no count they’d as soon cuss ya as look atchya”
But today it’s turned around. These folks pride themselves in being mean, in sneering as they misgender my daughter at Starbucks, in proclaiming in letters to the editor that the local “druggie homeless” should just take their problems somewhere else because helping is for libtards.
My own cousin, who hasn’t spoken to me since 2017 when he refused to hug me at a family funeral (because I’m a “liberal” – see how this othering thing keeps happening?) wore a tshirt proclaiming “I will not comply” with a picture of an AR15 to his grandson’s college graduation TWO WEEKS AFTER UVALDE according to Facebook posts.
These people are mean, loud, and armed to the teeth. They’re being told pagans like me are responsible for mass death, and trans people like my daughter are groomer pedophiles. They seem to be just itching for confrontation, too.
Yeah. No kidding this community doesn’t feel safe. And again, that’s me as a white person. I cannot imagine what it must be like for the whopping 9% of the population that isn’t. Yeah you read that right- this town is 91% white. And I guarantee you some of these assholes would go ballistic if that number dropped.
A Message From Loki
Author John Beckett participated in a ritual at the recent Mystic South conference in which the Norse God Loki showed up in a big way. During the ritual, Loki delivered a 3-part message that He wanted spread far and wide.
Beckett’s article containing Loki’s message is worth the read, but one part of the message jumped out at me: it’s time to build a mask.
From the article:
Loki says it’s about to be an unsafe time to be a Pagan: build masks and safety zones. Masks made up of the pieces of ourselves and pieces from those who love us, a mask made of truth and of what we want to show the world. So that it takes the hit when people shout Witch and throw things, and it won’t break – or it might break (so you don’t break) and then you can rebuild it.
A lot of people will hear that I feel unsafe in my community and tell me to move. But I spent 39 years trying to get back to these mountains that are sacred to me, and there’s no way I’m leaving alive.
I do, however, have what Loki may have meant by a “safety zone.” 4 acres outside of town with only 1 access point. A very loud pit bull (nobody has to know she’s really a ball of love) and a house you cannot see from any street.
I’ve spent the years since I escaped the United Pentecostal Church getting back to my authentic self. Embracing my own sense of style, music – everything it takes to be truly me. But now, it seems for my own safety it’s time to work on a glamour.
I know the real me. Maybe these people don’t deserve to.
Interestingly, I also began to feel a tug from Loki upon reading John Beckett’s article. I’ve only ever worked with Irish deities, but the two pantheons do seem to work well together. Funny story: we’re buying a new goat, and after contacting several sellers on Craigslist- most goats with Christian names – tomorrow I’m picking up Astrid and her doeling, Smudge.
What are the chances? Around here, a lot smaller than you’d think.
So it’s time to learn about Loki, and glamour spells. Not to be attractive, but to be invisible. It’s time to build my mask so that these people see only what I want them to see, and my family and I are safe and free underneath.
I’m sure I’ll have updates on what I learn in the weeks to come. In the meantime, stay safe. We need all of us.
And Hail Loki!