Thursday 10 March 2011

Lost Lambs?

I'm sorry for the horrible non-editing on this post - for some reason blogger won't allow me paragraph returns or a decent font size. Life can be that random. Thanks for bearing with it.


Here we have a number of people who have done absolutely dreadful things over a long period of time, to each other, to children and to other adults. In March and April 2009 I wrote two entries for this blog, one about my principal that, given particular circumstances, I am as capable of heinous acts as any other person and that to forget this puts criminals into the role of Radical Other. Making people Other denies their humanity and limits the expansion of our own capacity to make contact: if I claim to be in contact with the Spirit of Tree or Land or Ancestor, how can I not be in contact with these people who raped and prostituted children?        
The April entry was about my understandings of Pagan theology which helps me define my own personal boundaries. Because I believe that the sexual aspects of our life are sacred then sex crimes become exceptionally dreadful. Because I believe that the people I visit are essentially my equals and not little lost lambs, then my role is not to save them. Because there is no hell then there’s no eternal damnation to save them from. Because there’s no hell I can’t grant absolution; each individual has to seek our own right relationship with the world and with ourselves.       
It’s well within the bounds of possibility for one of these people to request a Pagan chaplain. They’ve used the The Book of The Law and Egyptian iconography to dominate and control their victims, I’d put a fiver on a bet that they’ve used the pentagram, circle and quarters. They’ve demonstrated the need to feel different from the rest of their community, as well as the sense of superiority that the Occult can offer. Since our definition of A Pagan is someone who calls themselves A Pagan, then aren’t they entitled to a Pagan Chaplain?       
I’d say a very definite no. Paganism is not a religion of turning the other cheek, wise though that Christian philosophy can be. Paganism is not a religion of unconditional love, no matter what our New Age members say. Neither are we a religion of retribution, an eye for an eye has no place in our way of being. Since we share a concept of some kind of peaceful learning after death, then we can trust that learning to take place peacefully after death if it doesn’t happen before. Since we need no intermediary between our Gods and ourselves we can communicate with those Gods for ourselves.   Should this be a once and for all decision? Probably not. Perhaps after some years of good therapy and personal introspection these people might be ready to take full responsibility for what they did, without excuses, becoming changed in a manner that allows them to be useful and positive in the world again. The veracity of these feelings is incredibly hard to judge: to survive prisoners have to manipulate people and the Batleys are already past masters at this game, a game that the manipulator has to make themselves believe for the deception to be successful. People who have truly accepted their culpability, who have stood in the crucible of public and private shame and guilt, are rare. Might it be appropriate for what is in effect shunning or excommunication to be reversed so that being genuinely contrite (for crimes committed rather than for getting caught) has a purpose? Otherwise, why bother with painful introspection and personal growth?       
If we are anything, we are a religion of interconnectedness, relationship and balance. This doesn’t mean that we have to accept and absorb all human behaviour, it means we have to attend to the balance of our connections and relationships. Some people put themselves beyond the pale in one group and find healthy connection and relationship in others, but there are some behaviours that, on a purely ecological level, damage all human groups. Rape is one. Child sex is one. Massive abuse of power is one. Not all societies agree with those limitations, but all varieties of Pagans do, and it’s what makes Paganism as a philosophy more healthy than many others.       
When Colin and Elaine Batley, Shelly Millar and Jackie Marling were caught they woke up from their reality in which they were all-powerful. It was a lack of balance and interconnectedness that allowed their world to exist at all and now, being back in relation with the rest of the world, they’re suffering the rebalancing effects of imbalanced actions that all Pagans, all thinking people, find abhorrent. Who am I to get in the way of that natural law? Apart from anything else, who on Earth do I think I am, if I believe I can?


Anonymous said...

You talk much more sensibly about this area than most of what I see on the Internet.

Ananta Androscoggin said...

I am coming to believe that extreme Right-Wing Christianity is dead-set on beginning a new Dark Ages under worldwide Christianist totalitarian rulership.

Clare Slaney said...

Thank you Peter, that's very reassuring.

Ananta, how might your comment be linked to this blog, please?