I think we need to speak up and clean out our own backyard.
In the last few months there have been many discussions about racism, COVID-19, misogyny, transequality among many other things. These are things that we should be talking about. Along with these conversations, there are many people who are making the conscious effort to either turn the other way and ignore these topics or they are outright fighting against these things. I am a firm believer that we need to call out people in our own religions of witchcraft and paganism for being hateful, racist, anti-trans, and plain disrespectful, to not only these issues, but to the greater pagan community. Many people are responding to this by joining in the “Cancel Culture”. If you don’t already know, cancel culture is when a group of people decide that a group, person, personality, entertainer, or spiritual leader needs to be canceled. Meaning, they get people to stop supporting them which will affect their businesses and organizations.
I wrote an article on my blog called “Racism in Witchcraft and Paganism” as a response to the many, and I mean MANY, racist people who decided to speak up against Black Lives Matter and Black issues in general. I was mortified to see that white people, especially white pagan leaders, felt entitled enough to speak up against black people and black issues. In the article I talk about calling out and bringing our leaders to task. This is something I feel very strongly about. Very. There were a few groups that I belong to who didn’t want me to post the article because it would “rock the boat” or “make people uncomfortable” to which I say GOOD! Spiritual growth is uncomfortable and we should be challenged.We are magical people after all! Magick is not always comfortable. Is there a difference in calling someone out and cancel culture?
If there is someone who is anti-LGTBQ in any form I’m pretty much at the point where I no longer feel obligated to educate them. Google is an easy tool to use. That being said, I will no longer associate with that person, group, or leader. But should we cancel them all together?
This is a very good question and something I believe each one of us should think about as an individual before we make a personal decision about this. Allow me to explain what I mean by this. When we get our groups, friends, and our community to “cancel” someone out, what we are saying is that we are making a decision to cancel their business or at least their name. Should we do this? Maybe. I think it depends. Call me a sensitive softy, but I do believe in second chances and allowing someone the opportunity to spiritual grow. If we immediately cancel someone what we are saying is that we no longer have any interest in giving them this opportunity. Is this the right thing to do? Maybe. I think if someone has spoken out of turn for the first time or said something out of ignorance, then we should direct them to resources so they can become better people. As a white person, I am aware of my privilege and believe strongly in BLM, but working to be anti-racist gives me the opportunity to address any lingering racism I might have and not be aware of. But! There is a difference between working on your “stuff” and trying to be better and slipping up on occasion versus blatant hate that seeks to harm others and bring someone down. I have unfriended so many people on facebook because of their racism. So I am no stranger to drawing the line.
What about people who make the conscious choice to not correct their behaviors? I think this is a completely different situation. There have been many community leaders, authors, and teachers who have been called out who refuse to address their hate, misogyny, racism, and anti-LGTBQ views. Just a short time ago I saw a favorite author of mine say horrible things about racial equality. I remember trying to process this because this was someone I looked up to though I had never physically met them. I remember thinking, ‘that’s a horrible statement but they are such good teachers of magick’. Then I quickly came to my senses and chose to never associate with them again no matter how “good” of a teacher I thought they were. You see, for me, a teacher who teaches things that are contrary to what I believe in my heart as right, just, and good, cannot possibly be a good teacher in truth. At least not for me.
Should we give people a second chance? Maybe. This is a decision no one can make for us. We have to make this decision on our own. I think if someone is making the effort to grow as a person and try to understand why they were hurting others, then I do think we need to allow that growth to happen. However, it can be very difficult for us to forgive people when they have hurt us. This is why the decision is up to each person. Only they know what is right for them. Then there are those who never seem to learn. They get better for a little while and then they once again say horrible things to people for the sake of harm. I think in this case we need to call a spade a spade and move on. I also think that after we have given someone a chance to grow and they only care for themselves and continue to spew hate then we need to ask ourselves…why are we allowing this behavior in our community?
I think because in many witchcraft traditions there is no three-fold law, no karmic return, and cursing is justified with the right reasons, some people take this to mean they can bully the rest of us. Maybe they can, but it is our decision to accept this behavior or not. I do think people can change if they want to, but it is not my path to change people who do not want to change. So, I will simply disengage with these people. Should we get our friends to also disengage with these people?
How I approach this is that each case is individual. Meaning, I weigh how harmful I think someone may be to the people I know and on my facebook friends list. For example, I will unfriend people who say ignorant things because I don’t have the time for their nonsense. With that, I allow each of my friends to make their own decisions and I will trust that they know what they are doing for the good of the path that they follow. There have been some people, especially pagan leaders, who are very toxic and do not hold the same ethics that I hold. I will speak with my spirits about how to handle the situation and if they spirits and guides believe I should share my experience with other people then at that point I will. I have a strong working relationship with my spirits so I trust their advice. My intention with this is not to harm the toxic person but to give my friends the information they need to make a decision for themselves.
Do I think the Cancel Culture is effective for growth and change? This is hard to say at this point. I do think that many toxic people only change and if their money is affected. This is why you see anti-LGTBQ companies and celebrities apologize only after they begin to lose money. For me, I think each of us has to make our own decisions about what energies we allow into our lives. What we watch on t.v., read on facebook, and the books we read affects our energies and our spirit. My goal is to be the best spiritual being having a human existence I can be. I will make mistakes along the way, but I will try to be my best as a healer and a friend but that doesn’t mean I want toxic energy in my energies. So should we cancel people out? Well, that’s up to you.