Midsummer already?

I know this particular Sabbat always sneaks up on me, but after losing two months of my life in hospital the longest day has appeared even faster than it usually does. I haven’t done much to celebrate this year, despite the fact that being signed off from work means I’ve had time to plan, organise, and arrange something. Partly due to the sneakiness, but mostly to do with the heat and trying to get other stuff done. Oh, and partly procrastination – lying on the sofa reading a new book is very time-absorbing. Although it does deal with the conflict between Summer and Winter and is set around Midsummer’s Day, so I can at least claim that Summer Knight is relevant reading.

I’ve just finished my ritual celebrations, somewhat late in the day I know, but although it’s dark now there was still daylight in the sky when I began. I say ritual, but there was very little to it. As ever, what I did was based on the Pagan Dreams Litha celebration kit but a much abridged version because a) tired b) hot. My bedroom’s quite large, but when you’ve got nine candles on the go in weather like this you want to spend as little time sitting next to them as possible. I didn’t rush through things or cut corners, I just did less in circle than I would have done otherwise. I lit my altar and Deity candles, cast circle as usual, lit the quarter candles and the greyish votive I poured for my Imbolc ritual, read the poem on the ritual sheet, captured the last of the daylight in the citrine, listened to the guided meditation, and then shut everything down. No incense, salt, water, herbs, or anything. Not great, but it’s the longest I’ve concentrated on anything spiritual since getting ill in April so I’m quite proud of that. Ok, yes, I’ve been to church since then as well, but it’s a lot easier to concentrate in the morning and when the heat isn’t draped over you like a slightly damp blanket. I was getting quite good at visualisation before I hit A&E, but I am sorely out of practice now making the meditation twice as hard to do, as I couldn’t close my eyes during it either. I say couldn’t, I could have, but I wasn’t going to with that many candles lit. The votives and tealights in their holders probably would have been fine, but there was no way I was going to be able to shut my eyes for twenty-five minutes with two lit taper candles.

I don’t feel too bad about it though, as it was lovely to be able to sit at my altar again and I’d kinda done most of my celebrating earlier in the day. The past week or so we’ve had really hot weather (for the UK) with temperatures in the high twenties/low thirties. Now I am not good with the heat – I blame the fact I was born on the Winter Solstice – and whenever it gets really hot it also gets humid. If it was a dry heat I might feel better, but when it’s muggy like this you just feel sweaty all the time, even when you haven’t been doing anything strenuous. It’s just unpleasant. However, the weather isn’t allowed to get in the way of my convalescence so this afternoon my parents and I went for a walk with my godfather. He lives near the Thames at Windsor, and the heat was still very noticeable, but easier to bear by the river where we were walking. There were also a lot of trees shading the path, so in between the shade and dappled shade which cooled me off I was able to bask in the sunny patches as I walked through them, feeling the heat of the Solstice sun soaking into my skin and enjoying being out in it before the nights start closing in. Granted, we’re (hopefully) going to get a lot more hot and sunny (but preferably slightly less hot) weather over the next couple of months, but there is something in the knowledge that this is where the dark half of the year begins that makes me appreciate the sun that little bit more.

There were also loads of dragonflies darting all over the place and landing on the grass and plants either side of the path. The ones I saw most commonly were about an inch and a half long, and a gorgeous deep electric blue. They were even flitting about the graveyard we walked through on our loop back to my godfather’s house, which was quite a way from the river. Dragonflies are one of the animals associated with Freyja, and seeing so many of them (roughly one every ten to twenty paces) made me feel closer to Her. Walking through the cemetery also gave me the chance to say my prayers for the dead which brought back memories of the last site I was on – the area I was on before I got ill was full of skeles so I was saying dead prayers every day, and the weather was warm and sunny then as well. That period of time was an enjoyable one, and I still miss being around the guys in my work team and my housemates. I made some good friends on that site. All in all, a very enjoyable Solstice day.

Convalescing sucks

So, I was discharged from hospital Wednesday last week, much to my relief. Yes, I needed the rehab, but after I spent last weekend at home on weekend leave I realised I was seriously suffering from cabin fever – I spent a lot of each day walking up and down the ward and corridors, couldn’t settle to read, and pretty much counted the hours to visiting time and bedtime when I could escape for a while. But I’m out now, and all that is behind me. I’m also back in my flat, as by the time I left I was mobile and independent enough to live on my own rather than at the parents’. I’ve still got follow-up appointments to attend and I’m getting outpatient physio, but I’m on the home stretch to being back to where I was before I got ill.

So why the suckage? Aside from I’m being paid ESA rather than wages. Yes, I get to stay in bed longer, I have a lot of time to do the things I’ve been avoiding unable to do while I was working – sorting my boxes of paperwork and dealing with the boxes of random stuff in my bedroom that I haven’t unpacked since the move – as well as stuff like start on the quilt I’m going to be making, finish the spring cleaning, catch up on my blog reading, post more here, get back into my spirituality, read my pile of To Read books… The list goes on. And as I’m signed off from work for two months I don’t even have to worry about looking for work, which part of my brain keeps thinking I need to do. But frankly I’d rather be getting up at 6am again and going to work up in town like I should have been doing before I got ill.

Part of that is because I’m still a lot weaker and get fatigued easily, but a lot of it is also looking at the boxes of stuff and the piles of crap in my room (there are areas of my life where I am not organised, my bedroom floor being one of them) and whining ‘do I have to?’ at myself. Yes, yes I do. And not just because I’ve got Kizzy and her old flatmate visiting for several days next weekend and they need somewhere to sleep, or because even if I moved the alcohol collection off my desk I still wouldn’t be able to use it because the footwell’s packed with stuff, but because the reason I haven’t dealt with that stuff yet is because I was working during the day and therefore tired during the evening, and at weekends I was either busy seeing friends or similar, or wanting to rest and self-care for a couple of days. I just didn’t have the time.

Well now I have the time, and my friends are providing the pressure I need to actually get me started. Another of the things I’ve been meaning to do during my convalescence is seriously do more to enrich my spiritual life – meditate, spend more time at my altar, carry on with my 366 project, use my tarot decks, make use of my prayer bead collection – partly because I want to, partly because it should mean that when I’m back working I’ll have a foundation of daily practice that I can (hopefully) build on when I start work again that won’t just disappear when things get hectic, but also because I need to. I have had so many kicks up the arse from my Deities over the past few days it’s getting ridiculous, and a lot of it has been through the content of the books I’ve read recently. So from the religious discussions taking place in C. J. Sansom’s novel Lamentation to the descriptions of magic in the Dresden Files series, to wanting to reread the All Souls’ trilogy next I’ve got both God and Freyja poking me to, y’know, actually get off my arse and start doing things again. Planning is all very well, and I’m good at planning what I’m going to do, but it’s the starting of it that I’ve never been very good at. Take (somewhat embarrassingly) most of my uni essays for example – I could write up the plan of what I was going to write, I could go through all the books and pull out quotes to use in my essay, and I would put off and put off actually sitting down and starting to write. Once I’d got about 500 words in I was fine, and could write for hours at a stretch, but it was that avoidance of first beginning that meant I was usually writing for hours at a stretch due to pulling all-nighters with said essays being due in the following day. I was a terrible student sometimes.
So, another reason to tidy my bedroom – my copies of Methodist Worship and Wicca: A Year and a Day are buried somewhere in there.

I’m alive, thankfully

At least this time I’ve got a reason for not posting for ages that isn’t me being lazy or tired. Back at the beginning of April I got a cold, and after a few days my breathing got bad enough I went to A&E where I was admitted with a severe chest infection that turned out to be double pneumonia.

That was Friday 7th, and by the next day I was in ICU as my body had (through sheer inexplicable bad luck) very rapidly gone through septicaemia to sepsis and then septic shock. I spent two weeks in intensive care, most of it sedated, and for the first few days of that it was touch and go whether I’d actually live through it. Once you get to septic shock there’s a mortality rate of 25-50% with treatment, and the two steps after that are multiple organ failure and death.

Thankfully I lived, spent two weeks in a respiratory ward, and have now spent another two in a rehab ward back in London as I lost a stone of muscle in ICU and as a result couldn’t stand, let alone walk, when the sedation wore off. I’m slowly building my muscles back up and gaining the ability to do things like pick stuff up off the floor, but it’s going to take months before I’m back to normal, and even longer until I’m fit to go back to work.

I’m currently on weekend leave from the hospital, which means I have access to my computer which the parents have been looking after for me, hence this post. Next weekend I’m hoping to stay over at home rather than the parents’ place, and then I hopefully get discharged the weekend after that. So yeah – not dead, not on fire. Literally.

Waiting in expectation, and tiny things making a big difference

Yesterday I joined my local Quakers at Meeting for Worship, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. I first started going to Meeting in early 2014, albeit sporadically, when I was both unemployed and suffering from clinical depression, and as a result spending a lot of time staying with my friends in North London who are not only lovely people but also have two cats. If I was there over a weekend, and awake early enough on Sunday mornings, I’d go with J to her local(ish) Meeting, at Hampstead. Going to Meeting the first time was very different from any other religious service I’d ever been to, and took a bit of getting used to. Quakers have no priests, no worship leader, no order of service – they sit in silence, waiting to see if anyone is moved by the Spirit to speak. I knew what to expect, but it still took most of the hour for me to settle, and the subsequent times were almost as bad. After all, the other times I’d been silent in worship was during period of silent personal prayer, or when asked to actively think on something, rather than try and clear my mind and listen – not to someone or something, but for something, inside.

I’d known there was a Quaker Meeting House near me for years, as there was a signpost for it off one of the main roads I used to travel down a lot when I was in high school, and since going to Hampstead Meeting I’d always meant to go. But, as with most things I intend to do, it didn’t happen until much later than I planned. So why now? Because I read a book which inspired me. Several Christmasses ago, Mum put The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier in my stocking, but while the blurb on the back sounded interesting I was never in quite the right frame of mind to actually start reading. Roll on my current job, where for five months I’ve been travelling up to Lincoln every Sunday afternoon and returning home every Friday evening. It’s an eight-hour round trip door-to-door, and as I’m on the train rather than driving it leaves me with a lot of time to fill. So I’ve been using it to good effect by making my way through the pile of books in my To Read/Haven’t Read Yet pile, one of which was The Last Runaway. It’s an amazing book that I highly recommend, which has inspired me to do more than just go to Meeting again, but there were several passages which made me rethink my approach to the silence found in Meeting, and have really helped me get the most out of my experience there.

Before, I was waiting in expectation like everyone else, but I was always waiting for something to happen – waiting for someone to speak, or offer a prayer – which meant I was in a more-or-less constant state of anticipation. Every time someone shifted position, or cleared their throat, or picked up a copy of Quaker Faith & Practice, I expected them to offer ministry. And being on tenterhooks the whole time meant I very rarely found peace in the silence, even when a Friend did speak. After reading Ms. Chevalier’s book, I was still waiting in expectation, but waiting for something to happen. Ministry doesn’t happen at every Meeting, and weeks can go by when no-one is moved to speak. That doesn’t mean the Meeting has failed, just that the coin has come down heads rather than tails as opposed to coming down edge, or not at all. So on Sunday I found myself able to sink into the silence, and at times feel connected to everyone else there waiting as well – the lightbulb moment/s I had when reading being put into practice – we weren’t waiting for something to happen inside the Meeting room, but for something to come in from outside. I think the best way of explaining the difference I felt is by analogy of waiting for the post. Say you’re only going to be at home for three hours on a Saturday morning, and you’re waiting for the postman to come. When I started going to Meeting it was as if I had a parcel coming sometime that day that I had to sign for and had to be in to recieve, when I was only going to be at home for a while. Every time someone moved it felt like hearing footsteps coming along the pavement – is it the postman? Will my parcel arrive in time? Is this it? But now I’m able to relax into the waiting silence – knowing that there’s a parcel on the way, but that if it hasn’t arrived by the time I need to go out then it will still get delivered and be there when I return. Still waiting, still wondering if the footsteps belong to the postman, but not concerned if they don’t come to the door.

As a result I felt at peace during Meeting, and was able to empty my mind more than I usually can, even when meditating. It was a wonderful experience, helped along my the ministry that was offered by three of the Friends there. Each ministry was only a couple of minutes long, but gave us a lot to think about. I’ve no idea how much time had passed when the first Friend got up to speak, but maybe half an hour. He gave a ministry inspired by a Quaker conference he’d recently been to, about working to solve environmental and social issues, such as climate change and immigration. The image that he was told and shared with us was that of a tree – each leaf/person is very small in relation to the tree/problem, and as people we can feel very small when set against a problem such as climate change – there is a feeling of not being able to do anything, that whatever contribution we can make is so small it won’t make a difference, and even though we’ll do it anyway because we should, such as put things in the Council-collected recycling, it doesn’t feel like we’re helping. Same for the leaf – it’s so small, and its contribution is so tiny. But with enough leaves doing minute amounts of photosynthesis the tree will thrive. And with enough people doing whatever tiny bit they can, even if it’s just donate £2 a month to an aid charity, it will make as much a difference to the problem as the leaves do to the tree’s growth.

Several minutes after this ministry another Friend got up to speak. Inspired by the previous ministry, he shared something a colleague who works as an analyst for peace processes across the world told him, which is that they fail the first time. And the second. And often the third, and more. Until one day they don’t, and the peace process holds. And every time the process fails we learn something – something about how the participants think, or how things got to this state of affairs, or what might work, what doesn’t work, what people actually want, that sort of thing. Which is then used the next time to try and get closer to resolving the issue. The thing to remember, he said, was to try not to be discouraged when the peace process fails. Every time it doesn’t work, people get closer to finding a way to make it work, and that it’s worth making the attempt every time, even if you know you may not see the results in your own lifetime. If I wanted to more fully tie this second ministry with what I heard in the first, or to carry the analogy over, it would be like the leaves on a sapling – they’re never going to see the tree in its full majesty, with a mighty trunk and branches casting shade over a wide area, but the work they do before they fall enable the sapling to grow, and give it the potential to become a mighty tree.

Then, in probably the last quarter of Meeting, a third Friend stood and spoke of something she used to do as a child, which she was inspired to share by the previous two ministries. She spoke of having to do a fiddly, annoying task which seemed to take forever – when she was younger one of the jobs the children would have to do is pick out all of the little stones and bits of dirt from the lentils that were to be used for that day’s dinner. After being harvested they would be taken from the farm to the market, and the market to home, and all sorts of debris would end up in the lentils as a result. And when you’re cooking for a family that’s a lot of lentils to pick through. But even though picking out tiny bits of stone took ages and felt like it would never get done with so many lentils to sort, she knew that afterwards it would provide a good meal for everyone and that it would be worth it in the end. She also said that when all the children were out and it was just her mother working, the job was still done in the knowledge that dinner would be made and the family fed. The idea being that even when a task seems thankless, and annoying, and insurmountable, and it feels like it’s just you alone in the world doing it, it’s still worth doing for the benefits provided later down the line.

Not dead, not on fire

Just very tired. The site I’m on has forced overtime so I’m on ten-hour days, and because I’m on away work getting driven to and from site I don’t get the extra snooze time I usually have on the Tube twice a day. Yes, I’d rather be living at home and working in London, but I like the people I’m sharing accommodation with, I get on with the people in my work team, my supervisor is great fun, and for a rural site the archaeology isn’t actually that bad. Plus the overtime money I get each week pays for my train ticket home each weekend, so all in all it could be a lot worse, but I am just so lacking in energy in the evenings that things are starting to become overwhelming.

Things like replying to emails, writing posts for here, reading my emails, tidying the flat when I’m home, meeting up with friends, and reading everyone else’s blog posts in my Reader. Now yes, I could solve some of the tiredness by going to bed a bit earlier, which I’m working on, but my lethargy/procrastination hasn’t been helped over the past few months by moving jobs, having an eight-hour round trip every weekend, going from nine to nine-and-a-half to ten-hour days, and suffering from site plague, the Norovirus, and an infection behind one of my wisdom teeth. But I’m getting there, slowly. Habitica is helping a lot, on which more later, and the rest is just me booting myself up the arse repeatedly until I start moving.

This is pretty much a holding and information post as my list of actual posts I want to write/am in the process of writing numbers over 70, so yes, I’m not dead, I’m not on fire, and I will be writing actual content again (hopefully sometime soon). I’m also about 1/5 of the way through catching up on reading all the blog posts I’ve missed since about November, and maybe 1/10 the way through commenting or listening/watching – so if you’re an author of one of the blogs I follow and I start reacting to stuff that’s months old or out-of-date, it’s because I’m only just now finding out about it. 🙂

And I’m also doing lots of little things to get my life where I want it to be – stuff like drinking more water, sticking to my diet, not hitting the snooze button, finding something to be grateful about every day, connecting to nature somehow each day, doing more meditational breathing… Tiny baby steps. I’ll get there.

Joyous Solstice!

Mostly. In that I wish you all a Joyous Solstice and hope that it’s going better than mine. It’s not that anything terrible has happened today, but not only am I suffering under the tail-end of a stinking cold that started the day after my birthday party (held this weekend just gone as it’s the closest weekend to my actual birthday) but also my period started yesterday, so I’ve got added lethargy, hypersensitivity, and cramps. So the ritual I had planned to do when I got home from Avebury this afternoon hasn’t happened yet, and at this rate isn’t likely to either, as it’s gone 9pm already.

On the plus side I saw the sunrise at Avebury again this year, although none of my friends could make it. Granted, I had to take two days off work rather than one this time, as I needed the extra day to get from Lincoln to London to my godmother’s, then drove for an hour this morning to get to the circle in time. I need to remember to get up quarter- to half an hour earlier though, as I arrived about ten minutes before the sun was due to rise, and the sky was already fairly light by that point. Oddly, the car park was shut so I had to park somewhat precariously on the edge of the entrance. There also seemed to be a lot more people this year than there were last year, although I’m not sure why – the weather was about the same, being coldish, cloudy, and dryish, although last year we had a lot more wind, and it was still a midweek thing. And I can’t believe that people got the date wrong, as while it’s usually the 21st the Solstice is sometimes the 22nd, and if you’re going to go watch the sun rise on the Solstice you check the date… *Shrugs* It could just be my memory of course, as last year I remember being amazed that there were a lot fewer people than I had expected, so maybe this year there just felt like more. Eh.

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According to the SkyView app on my phone, the sun had just started to rise above the horizon by this point.

Despite being on my own I had a wonderful time, health issues aside, standing watching the visible patch of sky get lighter, hearing the sound of drums and claves like a heartbeat – a sound that I’d heard gradually get louder as I walked through the circle to the south inner ring, spotting the obvious Pagans among the crowd and wondering how many others were there dressed incognito like myself, the occasional sounds of horns from one of the Druidic groups that were there, and just knowing that I was in a crowd of people who’d all come together to watch a sacred event in a sacred place. This year I also took part in the short open ritual that was held after the sun had cleared the horizon, although I’m not sure which particular Druid group was leading it. A circle started to coalesce which more people joined, and one of the older Druids stepped forward and started to speak about the Solstice and what it meant. I heard maybe about one word in ten though, as the circle was by this point fairly large and his voice wasn’t particularly loud and/or projected. But I caught the general gist, I think. Then a couple of bards came forward and recited poems they’d written recently to honour the Solstice and the returned Sun, and another Druid, possibly from another group than the first who spoke, asked everyone to join hands in the circle and spoke a blessing, to the effect that we’d all come from various places but had come together on this day and in this place, and that not only were we blessed by the newly-risen sun and the lengthening days, but also by fellowship with those around us. Then a bottle of mead was passed around the circle and everyone either took a sip, poured a splash on the ground, or lifeted the bottle in a ‘cheers’ motion before passing it on, before the quarters were remembered/thanked/dismissed and everyone gradually began to disperse.

When the area had emptied a little I crouched down next to one of the stones (the ground being too damp to sit on) and did what Kayleigh did last year, and exposed what I guess you would call my ‘main’ tools to the daylight, having brought them carefully cushioned in bubble wrap in a shoebox. Chalice, wand, broom, boline, tiny athame/candle-inscriber, pentacle, athame, my current Freyja devotional necklace, spirit-shaker (which I also used for a couple of minutes afterwards), one of my Tree of Life necklaces which I keep failing to remember to wear for rituals, and the Yule cord Beth made (which I only then remembered I’d packed, and probably should have been wearing from the start). Everything else that I thought could do with seeing the Solstice sun was spread out on my bed at home, and I’d left the curtains open so the morning light could get in. Tarot cards, fanned out so at least part of the face of every card was visible, runes, crystals, my prayer bead collection, mortar and pestle, the mini-chalice I bought for travelling, scrying bowl, and finger-labyrinth. The only piece I took with me to Avebury that I would otherwise have left on my bed is my small quartz crystal ball, as leaving that out on my bed all day with my flatmate at work, even in indirect wintery sunlight, was just not going to happen.

Having returned everything to the box and the box to the car, taking the opportunity to shift it to the now-opened car park to avoid getting sideswiped by incoming cars, I walked round the entire circle of stones, brushing the fingers of my right hand over all the stones as I passed. I went up to the four trees whose roots intertwine where Kayleigh and I stopped last year, where this year there were two (I’m guessing) National Trust employees cutting down the ribbons and so on that had been tied to the branches and around the roots. I have no problem with this, and I can understand why, as such things can damage the tree as well as pose a danger to any animals or birds moving around it, and I can understand why they’d want it done before the new growth in the spring, but I’d have preferred it if they’d done it not on the Solstice. Day after, no problem, but maybe not on the day when people are likely to want to come and tie something on, or at least just spend time with the trees. Aside from that, the walk was lovely, although I need to remember to wear boots with actual tread next year, as there were several occasions where I slid and nearly fell over.

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View from the edge of the south-east quadrant looking west over the bank and ditch towards the stones in the south inner ring.

Pilgrimage completed, I headed for the Circles Cafe run by the National Trust for hot chocolate and jam on toast before having a good long wander and browse around the Henge Shop. I picked up another packet of Faerie incense by Celtic Magic, the first lot of which I bought there last year, and which now just smells like Winter Solstice to me. I also bought myself a labradorite egg, as it’s a crystal I don’t have yet that it’s probably going to be useful to have, and with the peacock flashes I wanted to have a piece that I could turn easily in my hand. Plus it was pretty and only £8. I’d take a photo but it’s currently sitting in a bowl of water soaking the label off. There’s also a lot of books that I want to get, but they will have to wait for better finances or book tokens. I then headed home, arriving about 1 in the afternoon, and promptly fell asleep. Because my body hates me. So, after waking up at about half six feeling groggy I decided that ritual and concentrating on ritual just wasn’t going to happen, but as I’ve got tomorrow off work as well I can do things then, including unpacking my altar items from the shoebox. Although I might light a stick of Faerie incense between now and when I go to bed, or at least partially burn one.

Joyous Solstice!

Declaration 127 against the AFA

Declaration 127 is available for individuals to sign as well as groups and organisations.

Depending on how Heathen-oriented your friends and other followed blog authors are, you may or may not have heard about the recent(ish) problems a lot of people have had with the Asatru Folk Assembly. Although I am a devotee of Freyja I don’t really consider myself Heathen, so the existence of the AFA barely registered. However, the AFA recently, openly, and publicly stated that their organisation is not open to non-white, non-straight, and non-1950s-style-gender-conforming people. Lupa Greenwolf’s post titled #notinmypaganism has screenshots of the AFA’s announcement on Facebook and some of the comments left there.

In response to this announcement, Huginn’s Heathen Hof have created Declaration 127 which has been signed by many different groups and organisations, both within Heathenry and the wider Pagan world. It is also now available for individuals to sign to show their support, and while you do need to create a World Table account to do so, it takes less than five minutes. While I don’t identify myself as Heathen I am associated with Heathenry through my personal devotion to Freyja, through my Heathen friends, and through the Heathen blogs I read. I have signed Declaration 127, and would have done so even if I wasn’t bisexual or a devotee of a Norse goddess. I signed it because I fundamentally disagree with what the AFA said, and while I am cis-female there is no way I currently or would ever conform to the AFA’s views on what ‘feminine ladies’ should be.

We will not promote, associate, or do business with the AFA as an organization so long as they maintain these discriminatory policies.

The AFA’s views do not represent our communities. We hereby declare that we do not condone hatred or discrimination carried out in the name of our religion, and will no longer associate with those who do. We will not grant the tacit approval of silence in the name of frið, to those who would use our traditions to justify prejudice on the basis of race, nationality, orientation, or gender identity.

I strongly encourage you to sign it as well, even if you know absolutely no Heathens. Paganism is still a fairly small world, albeit growing and becoming more public, and I’d rather not have it tarred with the same brush as the AFA. There’s enough suspicion and misinformation on Paganism out there as it is, and I’m hoping that the more people who sign Declaration 127 the closer Heathenry and Paganism will get to being able to say ‘they’re not with us’ in the same way Christianity does regarding the Westboro Baptist Church, or Islam does about ISIS.

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And in conclusion, a quote from one of Ember Cooke’s posts on the subject of the members of the AFA as opposed to the AFA as a whole:

I’ve long said that the AFA is a bad organization, but not everyone IN the AFA is bad.  Right now I’m worried for those in the AFA who don’t actually share those values, who honestly believed the pretty words put forth and that the racist leanings were just an uninfluential fringe within a larger, generally positive organization. I have known folks in the AFA with Semitic backgrounds. I don’t know any QUILTBAG folks in the AFA off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are a few in the mix. There are bound to be some places where if you’re Heathen and want community, your only in-person choice is the AFA or worse, and I worry for those stuck in such places having no better options.

Condemn the organisation and its views, condemn the members of the organisation that hold those views, but don’t condemn all members just because they happen to be members of a group which has only recently openly admitted to being racist, homophobic, bigoted, and discriminatory.