Guest Post: The Hail Columbia Movement

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 30, 2011 — 79 Comments

[The following is a guest post from Literata. Literata is a Wiccan who studies theaology and enjoys developing poetry and rituals. Her work has appeared in the anthologies “Queen of the Sacred Way”, “Anointed” and “The Scribing Ibis” from Neos Alexandria, in CIRCLE Magazine, and in the ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She also writes regularly for The Slacktiverse and blogs at Works of Literata. In between leading Rose Coven, reading Tarot, and communing with nature, she is writing her Ph.D. dissertation in history and enjoys travel and spending time with her husband and cats.]

The Hail Columbia movement is a way for Pagans to protect freedom of religion – and you can help.

At today’s Celebration of the Divine Feminine, I will lead a prayer to Columbia, honoring her as a patron goddess of the district that bears her name and as a protecter of our ideals of freedom, especially freedom of religion.

“Wiccans and Pagans are part of the American religious mosaic, and they’re here to stay. Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison gave us religious liberty – and that means religious liberty for everyone. The followers of nature-based faiths are going to use it because they don’t want to lose it. What could be more in keeping with the great American tradition?” – Reverend Barry Lynn, United Church of Christ minister and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State

The Hail Columbia movement grew out of concern over the efforts exerted by a small but increasingly influential group of conservative Christians to restructure America so that all aspects of life conform to their vision of a Christian society. Several Republican candidates for president have significant connections to the New Apostolic Reformation and other groups that have explicitly stated they intend to influence politicians so that the government will enforce their religious edicts.

The catalyst for Hail Columbia was a NAR project called DC 40 which involved organizing “prayer warriors” nationwide to “change the spiritual atmosphere over DC forever” by conducting “spiritual warfare” and renaming DC the District of Christ. As DC-based bloggers, Hecate Demeter and I found this idea not just preposterous but offensive. We started spreading the word and encouraging Pagans to respond by honoring Columbia and, ultimately, by participating in politics to help protect freedom of religion.

“The methods used by the NAR and other Dominionists are founded upon hate, fear, and ignorance.  Their demonization of our Gods and Goddesses uses inflammatory language that can lead to violence and discrimination against followers of minority religions.  We have choices in how to respond to this threat to our freedom and our faiths.  Many are resorting to prayer, some to writing letters, and some to defensive strategies.  We decided to honor the Queen of Heaven, the Goddess Inanna, in a public space, and demonstrate the very freedoms the Dominionists seek to destroy.” – Katrina Messenger, founder of Connect DC and the Reflections Mystery School in Petworth.

Star Foster and others created a Facebook page and Dash put together a website to spread information and coordinate Pagan responses. The results have been heartening; local coordinators are volunteering in states across the nation and we’ve raised awareness about the potential dangers posed by these would-be theocrats. But it’s not just about leaders – it’s about voters. NAR-related groups are working to register more evangelical Christians and to encourage them to vote for specific candidates who have expressed agreement with this radical agenda.

This is why it’s vital for Pagans to be politically aware and politically active. I want to work towards that goal by making the Hail Columbia project a nexus for information and action. It could include features such as information on candidates’ positions on religious liberty and action alerts for people to write to their elected officials about government infringement on freedom of religion. I’d like to hear more from the community about how useful something like that would be and any other ideas you have for how to move Hail Columbia forward. I’m also looking for additional contributors to the Hail Columbia blog.

Columbia represents the freedoms on which America is founded. She encourages us to protect what has been won and beckons us onward to expand freedoms, including religious liberty in a peaceful and pluralistic society. Will you help?

[You can read more about Literata’s work with the Hail Columbia movement, and why she thinks it is important, here. You may also want to keep an eye on the PNC-Washington DC site (here’s a pre-event post) for coverage of today’s gathering. I’d like to thank Literata for taking the time to share her thoughts with us.]

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Mojavi

    Lady Liberty, Goddess of freedom and liberty, Patron Goddess of NY, Protectress of immigrants, Bearer of the Light…
    She will walk side by side with Goddess Columbia

  • Pagan Puff Pieces

    I still have my misgivings about worshiping Columbia. I don’t want it to give cause to remove her representations in government buildings because now they officially are religious symbols.

    On the other hand, I’d rather refer to patriotic acts as doing things for Columbia than for Uncle Sam.

    • Wouldn’t Uncle Sam be the patron god though? I figured the two were connected as deities of our nation and worthy of respect and honor both.

      • Pagan Puff Pieces

        … something bugs me about Uncle Sam. I can’t put my finger on it.

        But, he does seem to be a lot older than I assumed, so I guess he wouldn’t be an unfitting pair to Columbia.

        • Nick Ritter

          I don’t recall where I read it (a fictional work, most likely), but the argument was made that, while John Bull (Britain’s rotund patron figure) seems like a jolly and likable figure, Uncle Sam’s scrawniness is the mark of a self-righteous zealot. And how likable is a self-righteous zealot?

          • Depends on if he’s on your side or not, and what he’s a zealot about. If it’s being a zealot about protecting his people and their freedoms, I think I can stand to have that guy around. 🙂

          • Pagan Puff Pieces

            “Stop pointing at me, Uncle Sam! I’m only trying to make you happy!” (Cue running off sobbing)

  • Thank you, Jason, for the opportunity to write for the Wild Hunt!

  • A.C. Fisher Aldag

    Blessings and good luck to the Hail Columbia folks, and a blessed Samhain.

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate that people are mobilizing to protect the religious freedoms of all, not just a chosen few. But I have some concerns about this project — I’m hoping people involved can shed some more light. Namely, I am bothered by the invocation of America as being “founded” on freedom, without acknowledgment that America was also founded on genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans (to say nothing of ongoing exploitation and atrocities against these groups and the earth herself). Now, I am quite sure that no one in the Columbia project supports genocide or oppression! But it’s hard for me to get on board with views of the US or the Founding Fathers, or pieces like the songs to Columbia, as simply being these shining beacons of freedom, without acknowledgement of the complicated history and present of the US. How does the Columbia movement acknowledge and incorporate the realities of colonialism into its views of the US? How can the symbol of a country that has meant oppression for many (as well as freedom to many, and often both at once) be reclaimed in a way that respects all these experiences?

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      You raise some very valid points, aulocks, which in my view are thealogical in nature. That is, you are talking about aspects of the Columbia symbol to people to whom Columbia is a goddess. Thus, these are thealogical points about the nature of that goddess, Who clearly has a dark side.

      Hail Columbia is less than a year old, and it would be expecting quite a lot to demand that it unpackage its thealogy immediately. Christians have been unpackaging their theology for two millennia and they aren’t finished yet.

      If Columbia really represents a change in praxis as well as theory, if lots of us start putting Her figuratively or literally on our altars as a portal to what we do about the rabid religious right, then there will be time for quite a few of us to attend Her dark side and, predictably, write about it.

      It’s deliciously ironic that NAR has evoked, in this movement, exactly what it clearly fears the most — united, politically activated Goddess worshippers. Stuff like that stokes my optimism.

      • Anonymous

        Oh, I don’t expect that people will have understood everything about Columbia the goddess in a year, and I apologize if it came across that way. But I think it is good to acknowledge Her dark side, even if is simply saying “We acknowledge Columbia has a dark side!” To not acknowledge that is a very uncomfortable and alienating thing for me to watch (and I am not saying the dark side *hasn’t* been acknowledged, simply that I haven’t seen it).

        • Thanks for pointing out this important issue. I addressed this specifically in the “About Columbia” page:

          In short, I am acutely aware that Columbia’s past is littered with problems. I choose to acknowledge that past and to see her as a figure that beckons us onward, away from those wrongs and evils and towards fuller expression and observance of freedom and liberty.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks for your response and the link! I don’t know how I missed it — I think I was looking more at your blog. Good luck with your project.

          • You raise interesting points, though I would like to point out that much of the loss of life among Native Americans was due to disease, at least in what is North America (South America did have a lot of killings done in the name of Christ by the Spanish). Yes there were wars between the European Immigrants and the Natives, but they were generally not one sided affairs, both sides did their best to wipe the other out.

            Slavery is a black mark on our history, though we should consider that the practice was far older than America, that it continued on, and that America led much of the charge on doing away with slavery, perhaps we should look upon it as not something completely evil. It was, at the time, the only viable economic meathod for many needed things at the time, and as soon as we had better meathods, we used them instead. Indeed, we later went on to make those whose ancestors had been slaves were made full and equal citizens. Most people forget what a grand accomplishment this is, both in the historic record, and in the present world where slavery still goes on in many parts of the globe.

            Does the Goddess Columbia have a dark side? Sure, but even in the dark, there was the seed of light that has grown, and now bears sweet fruit for many, and yet it still continues to grow.

          • Anonymous

            @NA: Actually, the Quakers in Britain were the primary movers towards the abolition of slavery – and it was illegal in the UK (1838) long before it was outlawed in the US (1865).

            Just sayin’.

          • Anonymous

            @Norse, the diseases that took the lives of Native Americans were European diseases against which natives had no immunity. Sometimes Europeans exposed the natives to the diseases on purpose.

            The early wars with the natives in New England were instigated by Europeans. The natives fought back, and they fought back hard. By the time it was happening in other areas, the natives knew what they were up against and didn’t necessarily wait for war to come to them. (I think, as a Norse warrior type, you understand that attitude.) History is rarely a simple and straightforward march toward progress.

            In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a 15th generation New Englander, descended from the very Europeans I’m discussing. I have relatives (living and dead) whose actions I’m proud of, and relatives (living and dead) whose actions make me cringe. It’s part of the human condition.

          • …and that America led much of the charge on doing away with slavery,…

            NorseAlchemist, are you sure really about that? At the time slavery ended in the United $tates, the U$ was neither a world power, (in fact, it was the ending of slavery that paved the way to the U$’s current state as a world power), nor was it even “on time” to the slavery abolishment party and Britain (a world power in the 19th Century CE) not only ended the slave trade sixty years prior to the U$, and completely abolished slavery thirty years prior, but routinely arrested North Amerikan slave-traders along the West African coast. In fact, the United $tates was the LAST of the major countries of Western civilisation to abolish slavery — the exact opposite of what you imply.

            I mean, hey, it’s great that you’re supportive of the Hail Columbia movement, but you seriously need to put away your Amerikan chauvinism and get your facts right.

          • @Eran, yes, there were countries that beat America to the anti-slavery punch, however we were still one of the first nations to get rid of it on this earth.

            @McElroy, No america was not a world power. We wouldn’t really be a world power till after WW2. That said, America was a known example in parts of the world, and the Civil War did get press outside this country. However, post WW2, I do believe that the US helped push a lot of Anti-Slavery stuff around the world, which to my knowledge still had (and has) slavery practiced in various countries.

            @Eran, yes they were “European diseases” but if you want to get technical they were Pan-Continental diseases with origins from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. For instance, influenza which claimed a great many lives, comes from Asia. All the diseases that struck the Native Americans could be found pretty much through out the connected landmass that Europe was a part of. Also, I question how much “germ theory” was known during much of the disease induced die-off of the Native Americans. Yes, there were deliberate attempts to use sickness to kill Native Americans (there were also attempts by the Native Americans to use magic to kill the European Americans, which I don’t see anyone protesting) and these attempts are historically known to have fail spectacularly because the Europeans didn’t know or understand germ theory.

            So I don’t know how fair it is to blame the Europeans for the sickness when they themselves didn’t understand what caused that sickness.

            Not being an American Chauvinist. We’ve screwed up, we’re not perfect. But we’re still pretty darn good compared to some places, and that’s alright by me. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, simply because it got a little dirty playing in the same dirt everyone else did. At least the baby tries to get clean.

    • Cara

      Short answer: I don’t automatically lay human garbage and failings at the feet of Gods and Goddesses.

      • Absolutely. How we choose to treat each other is not a reflection on the Divine, but on ourselves. The fact that intrinsically know that we can do better: that is a reflection on the Divine.

    • While you raise some valid points, I’m sure if you look through enough history, you’d be hard pressed to find ANY country that didn’t have some degree of Genocide and Opression at hand in the days of settlement. Those in Religio Romana often honour Roma, the tutelary goddess of the Roman Empire, and often in a form infused with very similar “domains” as Columbia; same for Greco-Roman religionists in the UK and of the British diaspora honouring Brittannia, or of Ireland and her diaspora honouring Hibernia. When we’re talking exploitation of native populations, you really can’t outdo Rome in that respect, and in all honesty, the Celts invaded the British isles, pushing the Picts further northward into the Scottish rock, and all but killing off the Pictish language (only some Pictish surnames survive, and *maybe* a smattering of loanwords to Scots Gaelic). Not just the Romans but also Normans invaded France, oppressed and exploited the native Gauls to the point that now only a relatively tiny population speaks the modern form of the language, all of them ghettoed to Brittany. Even Hellas –as much as Hellenists actually *in* modern Greece like to kvetch and whinge about how Rome did all this horrid oppression and exploitation of Hellas, Hellenists often forget that ancient Hellenes, too, colonised Asia Minor, Turkey, Egypt, and even drove the Celtic tribes, originally from just a bit north of Hellas, out further and further West, exploiting and oppressing and often enslaving conquered tribes.

      Not even African religions are “safe” from histories of genocide and oppression, as it’s a well-documented fact that the slave trade in North Amerika would not have been as successful as it was if not for African tribes trading and selling conquered peoples and their own people’s prisoners to white traders. And don’t get me started on India and China, or Japan, or SE Asia — and I’m sure you can easily google up Australia and New Zealand’s histories.

      If you’re looking for a country with a history free of oppressing and killing off other tribes, I’ll give you a dollar for every single one you can find. If you’re looking for a tutelary deity belonging to any of those people that can’t be easily argued to “not really” stand for the argueably bowdlerised “ideals” S/He is described to stand for, my offer is the same. I mean, seriously, I can go on for DAYS about how oppressive Athens was, yet Athene, the tutelary goddess of that city, *still* stands for wisdom, warefare strategy as opposed to pure battle, and (seriously) “feminine arts”, like weaving and needlework. I practise Boeotian Hellenic traditions, so believe me when I say that I have a serious beef with Athens and how Attic polytheism *continues* to dominate the Hellenosphere, in spite of some actually pretty substantial sources describing the religions of the other tribes of Hellas. But I don’t have a beef with Athene standing for the things that Athens wasn’t really that great at practising (Athenians were probably the most misogynistic, especially when compared not only to Sparta, but the Aeolic tribes, including Boeotia, which kinda contradicts Athene as a city patroness; I could go on about how they compare to Athene, but I only get so much space) because clearly they professed certain ideals, yet did something completely different, in many cases.

      Likewise, I have no problem with Columbia *standing for* certain ideals, even though the history of the *people* She protects doesn’t live up to those ideals. This is where I see traditional polytheists and most modern-influenced pagans are often at odds; in traditional polytheism, the deity exists separately from the people, and people are fully allowed to be hypocrites to the ideals in the God/dess’ domain, the deity will *still* be there, standing for what S/He stands for, and Their people will still have the relative free will to make certain choices, even if those choices do not align with what the God/dess necessarily wants of Hi/r people.

      That said, Columbia is a recently-revealed tutelary Goddess, likely of the same lineage as Roma, Brittannia, and Hibernia. Like any God/dess, She has likely always existed until She revealed (one of?) her name(s) to the first person She revealed Herself to. She existed before the North Amerikan colonies, and revealed Herself *after* Statehood and at a time of relative peace. Her revealed name is a tad unfortunate, considering its etymological link to Christopher Columbus, but the root of both names, “colum”, is from the Latin for “dove (pigeon)”. No-one who founded the United $tates did so in Her name, which should be clear to anybody, but did so with some actions in Her guidance, and others clearly not.

      In closing, I’m really getting tired of the self-righteous and sanctimonious BS (frankly) from people who want to whinge about the “history” of Columbia in relation to the U$ and whatever else they can tie into it. I don’t even honour Columbia in cult, I’m one of Brittannia’s boys, but I’ve never known one of Columbia’s to deny the genocide and oppression that came hand-in-hand with colonising North Amerika, nor have I known any to suggest that it was a good or just thing — at best, they acknowledge that it was an unfortunate and heinous act that happened outside the guidance of the Goddess, but most simply acknowledge that no country is without its history of oppressing the “outsider”, and surely none of history’s world-powers got that way *without* oppressing others, but that doesn’t mean that a tutelary deity *stands for* that oppression — I mean, hey, all of history’s world powers eventually toppled, right?

      • Nick Ritter

        I agree with the aim of your post; there are a couple of errors in your posts (which do not, however, detract from your point):

        “Not just the Romans but also Normans invaded France, oppressed and exploited the native Gauls to the point that now only a relatively tiny population speaks the modern form of the language, all of them ghettoed to Brittany.”

        In fact, Gaulish *was* wiped out, finally going extinct in the 400s, long before the Norman invasion. Breton was a re-importation of Celtic from Britain during the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions. Breton’s closest relatives are Welsh and Cornish, not Gaulish.

        “Hellenists often forget that ancient Hellenes… drove the Celtic tribes, originally from just a bit north of Hellas, out further and further West”

        The original homeland of the Celts is thought to be further West, comprising parts of modern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France. The peoples to the north of Greece were Illyrians, Macedonians, and Thracians. There was a Celtic invasion of Greece at a later stage, though, which pushed on into Asia Minor (the Galatians).

      • Anonymous

        I appreciate your perspective. For me, “plenty of other people were awful to others too” — which I wholly agree with — doesn’t make it ok at all. I’m also not just talking about the genocide and oppression at the founding of the US; there are injustices still going on in the name of the US. We still arm other countries. I think it’s a lot harder to see Columbia as only representing “the good parts” of the United States if you’re on the receiving end of violence being done by the country. But I’m not sure how productive this conversation (in general, not specifically aimed at you) is going to be, as I’m not very fond of nation-states at all.

        • If your problem is that you simply dislike the United $tates and her actions and policies, then just say that; don’t muggy it all up with talk of ideals and how this makes it just to criticise a movement around a latter-day tutelary goddess. I recognise the dark side of Britannia, and really, I think the exploitations performed in the name of the U$ pale in comparison to the UK — talk to an Indian or Australian native, if you think otherwise. But I can spiritually reconcile having both Midnight Oil records and a shrine to Britannia.

          No country is without its “darker” history and ill thought-out policies. As much as I dislike living in the $tates and would give anything to move back to Britain, it’s largely because I feel spiritually incomplete on this soil, and I felt most whole living in the UK. For as much as I disagree with the ill-thought policies and actions of the U$, I also have a lot of respect for her as a nation and land.

          If your problem is with national / tutelary deities as a whole, then *just say that*; don’t try to nobelise it by simply parroting the same laundry-list of grievances about U$ foreign policies and other ill-thought actions that just about everybody on the Internet over twenty has seen before. Keep in mind that you may also be asked *why* you have such a problem with that form of patriotism, and some people may expect you to argue it logically, but it’s far simpler and more honest to just say what you mean rather than aim for some idealistic noble cause to rephrase your feelings in.

    • aulocks: “I am bothered by the invocation of America as being ‘founded’ on freedom, without acknowledgment that America was also founded on genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans (to say nothing of ongoing exploitation and atrocities against these groups and the earth herself).”

      The solution is simple. We should reject a narrow view of “America”, and embrace the broader view in which Nat Turner, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Tecumseh, Simon Bolivar, Susan B. Anthony, Tupac Amaru, etc, are just as much a part of our history as Jefferson, Washington, Paine, & Co.

      Turner, Bolivar, Anthony, etc, were not without faults, either, for that matter.

      • Anonymous

        Definitely, a good idea!

      • We’ve disagreed in the past – but here I’m in total agreement with you. The Goddess of America represents all Americans, not just white male landowners. And, as I said in my post on the TI42 blog, our freedom will inevitably lead us into making mistakes. Minimizing, justifying or ignoring those mistakes is not an acceptable answer: we do no service to the ancestors when we repeat their mistakes in the name of reverence.

  • So, how did it go today?

    • It went really, really well. There were a number of folks who stopped by to take a gander at what we all were doing and no one was disruptive or even really dismissive. All of the prayers by various people were eloquent and beautifully offered in front of an altar with a wide variety of Goddesses represented on it.

      We’re compiling photos and stuff like that at the moment but you can find some on the Facebook page for Katrina Messenger, the Priestess who officiated and acted as ritual coordinator for the whole event.

  • M—

    I can’t be the first to have mentioned this, but does anyone else find it problematic that the patron goddess of religious freedom in the U.S. is named after the guy that came over here, killed a bunch of natives, and then tried to forcibly convert the survivors to Spanish Catholicism?

    • I agree … but I also wouldn’t necessarily campaign for renaming it into “Distrito de la Pachamama”, there is more important stuff to do

    • Anonymous

      Welcome to life, where everything carries ambiguity and nothing is ever as simple as people want to pretend.

  • Michael

    It went really well today! (Well, yesterday now…). It was bright and uplifting and brought hope, defiance, and energy to our protection and the protection of Washington, DC. Managed to be enjoyable as well as a response to oppression. The rally was small — more Pagans need to get out and help with this.

    The discussion on slavery and American Indians seems derailing to me. That history remains important as we want all peoples to be free — but our main purpose here is to protect religious freedom and the all-too-few nicer points of our fine heritage. Why are we side-tracking into that when focus is needed on protecting Columbia?

    — Michael

    • Anonymous

      As someone who helped raise this conversation, I obviously don’t think it’s derailing. I think a call to protect Columbia absolutely should include a thoughtful discussion of what exactly we are protecting.

    • David Kees

      I don’t think it’s derailing a conversation to truly analyze the history of a symbol — be that symbol a deity or otherwise — to be sure that we understand what it is that we’re working with. However, I think we can also acknowledge the more negative aspects of Columbia’s history and protect ourselves from acting in ways that would cause similar acts in the future.

      • Blarg – commenting identity fail. I wish (a) the Facebook login would update my photo or (b) that the Google one would show my middle name. Oh well. #firstworldproblem

  • Anonymous

    I think that a list of which candidates would protect religious pluralism, as well as other equality issues (race, gender, orientation, income, etc) and various other topics important to many pagans (such as the environment) would be useful to me.

    The cynic in my says, though, that whoever comes out as a Pagan Friendly candidate on the site will just be targeted by the Right.

    • Thanks for your feedback! I don’t imagine that most candidates would be explicitly Pagan friendly; what I envisioned was something like a compilation of position statements and commentary from the candidate on religious liberty issues, as well as ongoing news updates.

  • Kilmrnock

    I personly find it disturbing that the current republican party is dominated by extremists . i find myself coming down to be a liberal libritarian . i prefer a fiscally responcible government , big enuf to control what needs to be regulated , but not interferring w/ my civil librities. At this point our govt . is broken . Nothing is getting done ,. the radicalised republican party is being obstructionist.The Tea baggers and religious zealots seem to be in the drivers seat of the GOP. Now the NAR wants to take our govt. back , re Christianise our govt as if it ever was so. As things stand now our chances of getting an effective govt are just out nill. Gods help us if the Republicans get the presidancy and the legisative branch , these fools will set us back 150 yrs. I already told my wife we’re moving to cananda if the Nar types or thier ilk gain to much power , as to be able to dictate govt/public policy. We need to stand up , be counted , make our voices be heard . Defend our right to live and practice our religion as we see fit . Not to be forced to fit someone elses mold, or made to leave our homes . This government belongs to all the people , not a noisy bunch of extremist, this includes us and those like us .So vote , Protest , make noise so we are heard . This is not only our right , but also our responcibility . Democracy is messy though well worth the effort. Kilm

  • Kilmrnock

    And just as a side note , lets not spend too much time worrying about what columbia stands for in the classical and religiuos sense and concentrate on what she means to America and what the founders meant her to be. Kilm

  • To the extent that “Columbia” is a patron Goddess of a particular people and a particular place, then She should be viewed as a Goddess for all Americans, from Tierra del Fuego to the Yukon. After all, Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, never stepped foot inside the nation-state now known as “The United States of America.” (link)

    To the extent that she is viewed as a patron for one particular modern nation-state, She is just another empty patriotic symbol, like a glorified team mascot.

    Personally I have far more interest in the Goddess Libertas, aka Lady Liberty, aka the Goddess of Freedom. She is the patron of all those who love freedom and who hate oppression and injustice, regardless of nationality.

    • Ukumbwa Sauti

      I agree with you on Columbia. She still comes across as politically fabricated to me….but how is Libertas a universal patron when all cultures don’t know of her, observe her energetic (as such) or name her in that way? That is akin to saying Jesus and “G-O-D” are “universal”, too…and they are not.

      • Ukumbwa Sauti: do you actually believe that there are human beings somewhere who do not revere Freedom in some form? If people call the Sun by a different name, is it not still the same Sun?

        • What do you mean by “Freedom ” – and what do other people mean by the word? The word has become so nebulous as to be near-meaningless. Invasion of a country and overthrow of a popularly-elected government? Hoorah for FREEDOM! We don’t have the right to refuse service to blacks, Jews and gays anymore? They’re trampling on our FREEDOM! Refusing universal health care despite a plethora of uninsured children? It’s necessary to protect our FREEDOM!

          I might also note that the American fetish for “rights” is not necessarily shared by everyone the world over. In many cultures law and order, peace and prosperity, and conformity to social norms are all seen as far more important than an individual’s right to troll Internet forums, follow a minority religion or buy pornography. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great we can do all these things (although I’m still of a mixed mind about trolling). But let’s not pretend that every culture defines “freedom” the way we do, or that they hold it to be of such great importance.

          • Your comments in this thread, by the way, add to your inherent sexiness. I find great minds highly erotic.

          • We aims to please. 🙂

            Honestly, I’m glad we’re having this discussion. “Freedom” involves discourse, debate and compromise. It requires the kind of vigilance which moderate Muslims describe as jihad – self-questioning, self-awareness and constant striving for improvement. (Otherwise it quickly degenerates into the other definition of jihad – violent mob attacks against people you disagree with).

          • Kenaz, when Africans were enslaved and brought in chains to the “New World”, were they deprived of their freedom, or not? What was it that Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, etc, rose up in rebellion over? If it was not freedom, then please tell me what it was.

            To deny that “freedom” is something that all human beings desire and have a “right” to is tantamount to saying that there is nothing wrong with slavery if those enslaved have no concept of freedom to begin with. In fact, this was, in essence, precisely the justification that Europeans gave for enslaving Africans.

            Or perhaps you are claiming that Africans only learned about freedom from Europeans? But I seriously doubt that.

          • So for people who are enslaved “freedom” means freedom from slavery. What does it mean for people who aren’t enslaved? What does it mean for a poor person? What does it mean for a rich person?

            I’m not being willfully obtuse here. What I’m saying is that we need some kind of a definition for “freedom” if it is going to be anything other than a word which obscures rather than clarifies.

            And yes, I am saying that many of our ideas of “freedom” come from Enlightenment-era continental Europe and that many of our efforts to export them to non-European cultures have failed spectacularly. (How’s that newly freed Egyptian society working out for those Coptic Christians? And what about those Bosnians who wound up on the receiving end of Serb genocide after being “freed” from the Yugoslavian dictatorship and Communist tyranny?)

            Denying people self-governance on the grounds they are unfit to have it is racist. But what are we to call the concept that our form of government is the ideal and that it is impossible to have a fulfilling, satisfying life under any other political model?

          • “The god who created the earth; who created the sun that gives us light.The god who holds up the ocean; who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are. You see all that the white has made us suffer. The white man’s god asks him to commit crimes. But the god within us wants to do good. Our god, who is so good, so just, He orders us to revenge our wrongs. It’s He who will direct our arms and bring us the victory. It’s He who will assist us. We all should throw away the image of the white men’s god who is so pitiless. Listen to the voice for liberty that sings in all our hearts.”

            The prayer that started the Haitian revolution on August 14, 1791 (link).

            [Original: “Bon Dje ki fè la tè. Ki fè soley ki klere nou enro. Bon Dje ki soulve lanmè. Ki fè gronde loray. Bon Dje nou ki gen zorey pou tande. Ou ki kache nan niaj. Kap gade nou kote ou ye la. Ou we tout sa blan fè nou sibi. Dje blan yo mande krim. Bon Dje ki nan nou an vle byen fè. Bon Dje nou an ki si bon, ki si jis, li ordone vanjans. Se li kap kondui branou pou nou ranpote la viktwa. Se li kap ba nou asistans. Nou tout fet pou nou jete potre dje Blan yo ki swaf dlo lan zye. Koute vwa la libète kap chante lan kè nou.”]

          • Boukman Dutty’s speech from the Bwa Kaiman ritual is, of course, a stirring speech about slaves desiring to throw off their chains. But that doesn’t answer my question: what does “freedom” mean for people who aren’t slaves?

            You and I (and presumably most of the people reading this, with the possible exception of two or three who shall remain nameless) think slavery is a Bad Thing and that a system which treats people as property is something to be shunned. But once we get rid of that system, what does “freedom” then mean. In a slave society it’s easy enough to distinguish between “freefolk” and “slaves.” What does that word mean in a non-slave society?

            Again, I’m not being willfully obtuse. In my lifetime I’ve seen several bloody wars started in the name of “Freedom.” I’ve seen “Freedom” used to excuse various social shortcomings and failures: I’ve seen it used to shut down much-needed discussion. And so I think it’s very important that we define our terms as we are using them in our culture at this moment.

          • Kenaz, do you think that Africans were “free” before they were enslaved by Europeans? Do you think they had some concept of “freedom” prior to their enslavement?

            Also, do you think people in China have some concept of “freedom”? How about people in Saudi Arabia?

            I completely reject the notion that modern Europeans are the only people who cherish freedom. I find the very idea intrinsically racist.

            In fact, the ideas about freedom, equality, democracy, etc, that we associate with the Enlightenment were really a revival of ideas from pre-Christian societies, including of course Greek and Roman societies, but also Germanic, Celtic and other cultures.

            Chinese history is also filled with examples of popular uprisings against injustice and oppression, going back 3,000 years or more.

          • Apuleius: you still haven’t provided me with a working definition of “freedom.” Tell me what the word means – to you, at least – and I’ll be in a better place to state whether or not the masses in China, Saudi Arabia, etc. want what you are calling “freedom.”

            I still remember how the Iraqi people were going to greet us with flowers and cheers once we liberated them from Saddam Hussein and gave them their “freedom.” A decade on, it doesn’t exactly look like their vision of “freedom” matched up that closely with ours. I also remember how “Operation Enduring Freedom” was going to provide Afghanistan with, well, Enduring Freedom. And so far it looks like the only thing that’s enduring is our occupation.

            Are we talking about the freedom to live a consumerist capitalist lifestyle like Americans? Are we talking about the freedom to practice our religion – and murder those infidels who don’t follow it? Are we talking about the freedom to live in peace and to feed your family with your wages? I don’t think you’re trying to sell a bill of goods here – but because there have been so many abuses of the word I’d like to get some clear idea of what it is we’re talking about.

  • As strange as it seems, I like the “idea” of Columbia. When I think of the gods, I not only worship them as entities but I stand behind what they represent. Columbia is the representation of the ideals of our nation. Yes, we screw up. Yes, we have so many problems that it sometimes seems foolish how quick we are to “fix” other places- but I think we’re reaching a point where we’re willing to admit our failings and actually work on them.

    While the spirit of theocracy is wrapped in attempting to control, Columbia asks us to release; let go of our preconceived notions, open our minds, and see just how much innovation, creative genius, and ability for change we have at our disposal. Columbia protects the Evangelicals just as much as she protects Wiccans, Heathens, Muslims, Catholics, and Jesuits.

    I will definitely pour a libation to her.

  • Ukumbwa Sauti

    “Columbia represents the freedoms on which America is founded.”

    The USAmerican settler-colony was built on slavery, sexism, genocide and a rampant campaign against indigeny everywhere. How does the above statement hold up to any true scrutiny beyond neo-patriotic revisionism? The DC40 initiative is without redemptive merit, clearly, but how can anyone but “Americans” steeped in white privilege and fear of embodying the traditions of their indigenous Ancestors.

    I stand with you in rejecting the pathologies of DC40, but can not as an African with Blackfoot heritage support the racist, anti-indigeny, slavery-trading “foundations” of this country nor a goddess that bears the name of a man who set it all in motion. Read most anything by John Henrik Clarke or Jan Carew to get the skinny on Criminal Columbus.

    I have yet to find more than 5 people (outside of African and Native American spiritual and political circles) who understand that and can empathize with someone whose historical framework isn’t based in Europe. I’ve had predatory christian missionaries steeped in white privilege be more empathetic – at least while giving lip service.

    Is there no consciousness here of the necessity for people carrying indigenous traditions to find avenues of unity and solidarity without the same old populations crying political foul? Hell, it’s only been about 518 years. Enough is enough.

    • You know, if you find it so distasteful, you really don’t have to stay. No one is forcing you. Seriously, it’s not hard. People leave all the time. I was on a cruz like a decade ago, and there was a lady that liked one of the islands we visited, and within the day she’d bought a house and was planning to move there.

      I think you’re also taking a rather narrow view on how this country was built. Yes, certain groups that came here were sexist. And our education system does tend to focus on them. But remember, there were roughly about 13 colonies by England alone, and that’s not counting the ones in Canada, or the ones done by France and Spain. The English colonies were a diverse lot as far as practices, from the New England Puritans to the more relaxed southerners (who certainly were not puritanical in nature.) That’s not even counting the French and Spaniards.

      We did have slavery, but both whites and blacks owned slaves. I’ve even read that the man who owned the first legal slave in America was a black man (talk about irony there) though you generally won’t find that in the politically correct history.

      Also, I believe you are forgetting that at the standards of the time in which it was founded, America was the most free and liberated society, at least when it became a nation. The idea that men had the ability to vote in a democracy to elect all their leaders was something unheard of since the days of Athens, Greece. Now, was everyone given the right to vote right of the bat, no. But that doesn’t mean that in a world of Kings and Queens and shattered dreams, that this wasn’t an incredible amount of freedom. Add to it the fact that less than a hundred years later we had freed the slaves and given them the right to vote (admittedly, it didn’t stick, but that was for a lot of complicated reasons that extend way beyond mere racism), then shortly thereafter we gave women the right to vote, and then again within a few short decades we restored the vote to all blacks and minorities who didn’t have it. There has always been an element of freedom that has run through this nation.

      Now, you may feel that what happened was unfair, and it was. But think about how much has been done in this Nation in just a little over two hundred years. We went from a bunch of people, none of whom had any real freedoms or representation, to a place where every citizen (and then some) has more freedom and representation than has existed in the history of ever! And when you think about how long some countries have lasted on this planet that have never made anywhere near that amount of progress towards universal freedom, it grows even more astounding.

      Indeed, the fact that you could state the above is a mark of just how free we are. Say that pretty much anywhere else in the world about the nation you lived in (and there are a literal ton of countries it would fit even better than the US, most of them in the Middle East or Asia, but a few in Eastern Europe) and you’re as likely to be killed or imprisoned.

      Now, you can call what I said “no-patriotic” revisionism if it makes you happy, but it really isn’t. Did the US do bad? Sure, but nobody is ever perfect, and it’s done more than pretty much everyone to make up for what it did. But hey, like I said, if you find it so horrible, you can always go elsewhere.

      Also, I would like you to define “white privilege” seeing as most of the “white” ethnic groups in this country tended to suffer just as much discrimination from those in power as most of the other races and ethnicities

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Alchemist, I have defended you in this space against charges of racism from those too eager to slap that label on speech they don’t like to hear.

        But that’s over. The first and last paragraph of your statement are racist even by my strict standards. The first is jingoistically racist and the last is ignorantly racist.

        Too bad. Some ideas in between might be worthy of reflection. But my old management trainer told me what’s remembered are the first and last things you say. Pity.

        • Well said. I just closed up his comment halfway through the first paragraph.

          • Um, could you explain why? I’ve read my opening paragraph like six times and I’m still confused about why it was “bad.” 🙁

          • Why are you confused? Here are some possibilities:

            Because most bigots happily disclaim their own bigotry and blame others for “reverse racism” and the like.

            Because you’ve shown yourself to be so lacking in critical thinking skills as to buy into idiocies like “Obama is a Closet Muslim” and “Glenn Beck is a reliable news source.”

            Because, in the immortal words of Ian Anderson, you’re thick as a brick.

            I’m sure I could think of some others if I put my mind to it, but those will do for now.

          • Yeah, and some of us aren’t bigots, really don’t care about the color of a persons skin, and still get called a racist.

            As for the Obama thing, I have merely pointed out certain correlations, I do not recall claiming them to be causation. As for Beck, I have explained, I find his research to be useful, not his opinions.

            Am I think as a brick? Some might beg do differ that know me. But even if I am “thick as a brick” I wonder what that makes you, who’s default is to declare yourself the one constantly in the right, and all who disagree to be bigots and fools, my Dear Kenaz.

            Also, I would wonder if your comments are a violation of the “no personal attacks” rule of this website.

          • Insofar as “no personal attacks” go, I suspect telling a black man that he can leave if he doesn’t like the United States would probably be taken far more seriously than someone calling you “thick as a brick.” (I suppose we can all be grateful you didn’t tell him to go back to Africa… ).

            Free clue: if many people are perceiving your commentary as bigoted, it could be that the problem isn’t with the many people.

          • I’m sorry, he was black? I honestly didn’t notice, and I wasn’t paying much attention to the name. Sure, his name wasn’t English, but this is the modern age on the internet, where anyone can have any name they please, and in any language they want. I do not assume race based on a name.

            For instance, I could use the name Takashi Arisawa, would you then assume I am Japanese? Do you assume that because I use the name Norse Alchemist I am white? (You know I am white because I have stated so). I don’t know about you, but my default when it comes to the net is color blind and gender blind, because I never no for sure. So I treat each person the same.

            Also, do you say that my above statement is racist because you know that I am white? If i was Native American, would you also consider the statement racist? What if I was black?

            As for telling the above individual he was free to leave, I fail to see how it is racist to tell an individual of any race, that should he find himself in a location which he finds detestable, no one is forcing him to stay, and that perhaps he should find a place in which he can be happy. Perhaps my thinking is old fashioned, but if a man or woman complains about they place they live, it would follow that it is wisdom to leave such a horrid place rather than to remain. Now, if for some reason people see that as bigoted and racist, but I would tell a Scottish man to leave Scotland if he complained it was too mountainous and rainy, and an African man to leave the Sahara if he found it too dry. If the above reader finds America too sexist and racist (and the claims that my comment is some how racist might be used to back that up) then how is it bigoted to tell him “don’t like the racism, go somewhere it doesn’t exist?” My intention in saying the above was just so. “Don’t like X, don’t live where X is. Go somewhere without X and live happily.

            As for the “many people” and the “bigotry” I would have to say this: the bigotry of the statement is judged not on the truth of the existence or nonexistence of bigotry, but on the perception of bigotry by the audience. You and members of this “audience” may feel I am an idiot bigot, but that doesn’t mean your feelings are true.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Alchemist, I can only explain it to you. I can’t understand it for you.

        • Eh? I think you’re going to have to explain that one to me Baruch, ’cause maybe it’s my innocence in racial matters, but I’m not sure how telling somebody that they are not forced to stay in a country they don’t like is racist. And asking someone to define what they mean when white privilege, when looking through the lens historical and seeing the racial and ethnic hatred shown and enacted against say the Italians, Irish, Germans, Scottish, and just plain anyone who wasn’t a WASP often was the equal in many parts of the country to what Native Americans, African Americans, Chinese Americans, and everyone else faced, is racist?

          ‘Cause honestly, I’m pretty confused here.

          • Well, for starters, there is a long-standing cultural myth of widespread anti-Irish discrimination in the United $tates, but even basic logic can point that out to anybody: The reason the United $tates received so many famine-era immigrants from Eiré is simply because whatever anti-Irish sentiment may have existed in the Western hemisphere paled in comparison to England. Furthermore, anti-Scottish sentiment is virtually unheard of anywhere in the world outside of England, and even then, the Scottish upper-middle classes are embraced, while anybody on the lower rungs still gets it better than the Irish. (I’ve actually experienced this; when living in the UK, my sister and brother-in-law, himself HK Chinese, once holidayed in the countryside, and I was signed in under my mother’s English maiden name, rather than the Ultach [Northern Irish] surname inherited from my father, who is himself half-English, as well, just so that they’d let us a room — granted, part of this may have also been because I do have a cousin from Belfast who was imprisoned at the time for IRA gun-running, and we weren’t sure how well-known this was outside of London and Ulster, but we’d heard from people at a petrol station that the management didn’t care that my brother-in-law was Chinese, but that some-one in the party with a name as Irish as mine would give us trouble). Anti-German propaganda, especially $tateside, was practically unheard of until WWI (and rare even before then), very clearly lacking the same history and connotations of anti-African, anti-Hispanic, anti-Asian, or anti-Native sentiments; it wasn’t German-Amerikans who were rounded up into “Happy Fun Camps” during WWII, it was the Japanese-Amerikans, or frankly any East Asian-Amerikan family that made their neighbours uncomfortable-enough, even though there were absolutely German-Amerikans acting as spies for Hitler (or perhaps you prefer “Defending der Vaterland”?) and in far greater quantities than there were from Japan. Also look up the immigration controls places on potential Japanese immigrants, only that were enforced from the close of WWII until the early 1980s. In spite of the Cold War and a Red Scare that continued well into the 1980s, Russians and East Germans managed to emigrate just fine; Italians emigrated just fine, but for thirty-five years, a Japanese person could not legally become a citizen of the United $tates.

            Furthermore, any-one of any of the European diasporas or pale-enough Mestizo people has historically had the option of changing accent, “Anglicising” their surname, and thus having higher hopes of assimilating into mainstream US culture fairly easily — at least when compared to the access to that ability possessed by Natives or members of the Asian, Middle-Eastern, and African diasporas — it may not be a conscionable choice to many, but it conceivably exists, if they desire some semblance of “white privilege” badly enough. Of course, after that, then class politics come into play, which are also absolutely at play for non-whites, but starting from a more precarious position.

            Of course, at this point, I can’t tell if you’re just that naive or outright trolling, and I don’t care — I’m just spelling all this out for people who really are misguided and naive.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Ruadhan, anti-German-American propaganda may not have been common in the USA in WWII but anti-German-American sentiment was there. I had a starchy, disciplinarian English teacher of Dutch descent who inexplicably opened up one day about the crap she took during the war over her German-sounding name.

            Anti-Irish sentiment was real in the 19th century; I’ve seen photos of no-Irish signs from the era. Irish were not considered white until the 20th century.

            Minor points. I enjoyed your story.

          • Ruadhan, anti-German-American propaganda may not have been common in the USA in WWII but anti-German-American sentiment was there. I had a starchy, disciplinarian English teacher of Dutch descent who inexplicably opened up one day about the crap she took during the war over her German-sounding name.

            Do you honestly think that’s genuinely comparable to, say, “coloureds only” drinking fountains and state schools of the same years? Hell, Polish-Amerikans still get plenty of flack, but that’s really not the same as, say, the anti-Black sentiment that produced Birth of a Nation.

            Anti-Irish sentiment was real in the 19th century; I’ve seen photos of no-Irish signs from the era.

            As have I — in reality, these “NINA” signs were not very common, and the wealth of photos that exist are taken from a very small population that existed in North Amerika.

            Irish were not considered white until the 20th century.

            The contextual reality of this statement is blown completely out of proportion by your inherently 21st Century CE worldview. Anti-miscegenation laws of the 19th and early 20th Centuries CE were not once used to bar the marriages of Irish-Amerikans to English-Amerikans, nor had any law existed on the books in such a manner — and that’s just a quick example.

          • Misguided no, as I seek truth no matter how offensive it is to some. Naive, yeah, I keep bumping into areas where my existence as a former outsider of society runs counter to the feelings and beliefs of others. 😛

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            No, I don’t think the crap my English teacher took is comparable to segregated drinking fountains, and I never said it was.

            Nor did I make claims about the spread of anti-Irish sentiment, but if you’re making specific claims in that area please back them up.

            My view is hardly embedded in the 21st century. I learned these thiings and developed my responses around 1970.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Telling someone with complaints about our pretty-good but nonetheless imperfect country to go back where they come from is jingoist. Telling that to someone whose ancestors arrived in chains is racist.

            White privilege is about the present, not the past. It’s about the subtle stuff, like I can answer the door in mid-day in my undershirt smelling of liquor and not worry about reinforcing stereotypes of whites. The concept has been around for 15 years.

          • Ah okay, I see now.

            To be honest, it wasn’t telling him to go back to where he came from. It was more a general thing. Canada, England, whatever. I am sorry if it was perceived as racist, ’cause I really didn’t mean it that way. It was more a “go where you can be happy” sort of thing. To be honest, I didn’t really pay attention to the guy’s name, and didn’t even realize he was black. 😛

            As for the white privilege thing, I do agree there are probably little things (like the beer and undershirt thing). But too often in other places I’ve seen it thrown around as more of a blanket statement to the point where it doesn’t matter how destitute, unlucky, or frankly unprivileged your background was, you’re still white, privileged, and oppressing minorities (even if you’re a trailer park living 3rd grade drop out with no job). So I was asking for clarification on just what kind of privilege the above person was talking about.

            And I will swear the above is true before my gods, if you so ask.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            “We all come from different places, no reason to assume the worst of people.”


          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Alchemist, my snippy reply just now was under the mistaken impression that you were replying to me, when you actually replied to someone else. That can happen when we get this far out on the comment limb, but I apologize.

            Thank you for unpackaging your “if you don’t like it here” comment.

            I have only heard the term “white privilege” employed under particular circumstances (UU) and not generally. I can easily imagine that some people throw it about indiscriminately; I know my fellow Lefties! A pity, because in its proper application it’s a useful reflection for white people who just haven’t realized how deep race goes in our society.

          • Thank you Baruch. I hope this has cleared things up and that there may be peace among us again. We all come from different places, no reason to assume the worst of people.

    • I’m not emotionally attached to the purported “ideals” of the United $tates, but I can’t help but wonder if you believe any of the grievances you have against the U$ are somehow unique to the U$? They really aren’t. The U$ is really no worse in any of these regards than the rest of the world, and compared to what’s actually still going on in Africa and Southeast Asia, it’s actually a whole lot better. While I can certainly empathise with everything you’ve described, at the same time, I’m personally far enough removed from it to look at it objectively. Your personal feelings aren’t the only important part of the equation.

  • Great discussion. I’ve contributed my thoughts to the TI42 Blog.

    In summary — I think Columbia is a goddess of Freedom, but I also think that many “keep using that word ‘freedom.’ I do not think it means what you think it means…”

  • Michael

    Sigh. I guess it makes sense to explore what freedom meant to all races and creeds at the founding of the republic. I guess we can better know Columbia if we know her dark side. I suppose Columbia looks less than hospitable to some native peoples. But — there is a SIMPLE message here being lost. The NAR is praying against us and directly attacking our religious freedoms. Now is the time for a simple message of pulling together and honoring religious freedom. Columbia is a rather good symbol for this — and maybe even a real goddess or egregore of such. I guarantee the NAR are not squabbling about their history and theology right now — they are “praying”. Here is a good article to refocus on the issues:

    • The NAR and their ilk have one advantage we don’t have: they have a book which provides them with The Answers to everything.

      As far as “pulling together” goes, I recommend you check out this post from Daughters of Eve, which talks a bit about how “pulling together” often becomes an excuse for minimizing the very real grievances of disempowered people.

      Freedom involves discussion, debate and disagreement leading up (hopefully) to compromise, consensus and cooperation. If you’re going to invoke Her, you’re going to have to honor Her rituals. There are faster and easier ways of doing things, sure. But they generally involve turning responsibility over to someone else (Big Daddy YHVH & Son, Il Duce, etc.) and stepping out of the way.