Yet Another Ex-Witch “Taken From the Night”

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  May 31, 2012 — 206 Comments

There must be something uniquely unsettling to certain factions of Christianity about the existence of modern Pagan religions, something that makes them over-react. It can’t be our sheer numbers, despite consistent growth Pagans account for only 0.4% of the population (around a million people) in the United States. No matter what the odd conspiracy theory might say, Pagans don’t pull the strings of any powerful politicians, and there is no Pagan lobbying organization in Washington DC. Despite these reassurances of Christian dominance, a good number of Christians are preoccupied with us to the point of distraction. How has this strange state of affairs come about?

My personal theory is two-fold: First the Satanic Panics of the 1980s ramped up fears of an (imaginary) murderous occult underground network, one that the media was all too happy to feed, giving the impression that “we” were everywhere and were possibly dangerous. Secondly, I think the re-emergence of Paganism feeds into an atavistic primal fear in the Christian mind. Pagans were the original and long-vanquished enemies of Christian dominance in the West, our defeat enmeshed in the very core of their understanding of the world. Christ came and defeated the old gods, “the great god Pan is dead,” that’s how it was supposed to work. It was a version of this view that enabled the Doctrine of Discovery and the horrors that followed it, and continues to influence how many Christians encounter other faiths. So to see the vanquished rise again must be uniquely disquieting, a symbolic blow that undermines two thousand years of propaganda.

The conservative (largely evangelical) Christian obsession with the “occult,” modern Pagan religions, and especially Witchcraft, is best exemplified by the “ex-witch.” The saved Witch, the former sinner who turns from the old gods (who are all controlled by Satan, obviously) and embraces the light of Jesus Christ. Almost every modern book written by Christians that deals with Wicca or modern Paganism drags one out (or is written by one). “Wicca and Witchcraft: Understanding the Dangers,” “Generation Hex”“Wicca’s Charm”, “Dewitched”, and the granddad of them all: Bill Schnoebelen’s “Wicca: Satan’s Little White Lie” (Schnobelen’s work was expertly demolished by former student and coven-mate Frater Barrabbas). Each pledge to give you the “true” story of Wicca/Witchcraft/the occult, often with horrifying revelations once you get “deep” enough. The books have gotten more nuanced in the post-panic era (no more human sacrifices), but they all still try to evoke enough drama and lurid occult phenomena to rake in concerned Christian dollars at Christian book stores.

The latest entry into the “ex-witch” genre is by S.A. (Seleah Ally) Tower, author of “Taken From the Night,” which  documents her journey from Christian, to “initiated” Wiccan of ten years, to born-again Christian.

Her 10-year experience in witchcraft that began in 1989 came to an end through divine intervention, she said. ”It came to a point where it felt like God had intervened and literally came down and took me back.” In addition to the book, her testimony and insightful revelations in the spiritual realm have been told on several Christian radio programs. Tower said she shied away from writing a typical book on the subject of witchcraft that might paint a stereotypical picture of gory sacrifices and “what the Bible says about it.” ”To someone who is wavering or looking into Christianity a little bit, not yet 100 percent sure, those types of books can be very frustrating,” she said. She explained that when she was moving away from witchcraft she was looking for stories about someone who had just left the cult. ”I just wanted to hear the facts of what happened,” she said.

Here are her not-at-all sensationalized and overly dramatic promo videos for the book.

and

Nothing about what I see here, or at her web site, say that these are books written to reach Wiccans. “Taken From the Night” is just another book written by a Christian for other Christians, marketed on Christian radio programs so everyone can feel good about themselves. Tower may gently criticize those other ex-witches who “stir the church with false witness and fear,” but she’s just the kinder, gentler, version of Bill Schnoebelen.

“During my Wiccan years, I remember them… I call them the E’s (exaggerators and embellishers). Mind you, those that put on the face of a witch may actually have dabbled in some form of witchcraft and have an honest heart for those involved. However, their exaggerated tales need self-examination. While it’s nice to rally the crowd, we have a greater calling. Jesus gave us a commission to reach the world with His love, not stir the church with false witness and fear. God has placed on my heart a desire for His love and light to be revealed to those that don’t know him, not widen the gap. Believe me, the real witches can see the face behind the mask… so take it off and show the true nature of God. Be content with His story in your life, whatever that may entail.”

Let me reiterate again, these books do absolutely nothing to engender understanding and communication between Pagans and Christians, no matter how they like to dress it up. They are books that must end with a victory for Christ, and must, no matter how diplomatically, portray Wicca as at least somewhat demonic. We may have evolved from murdering Satanists to deluded troubled souls looking for self-empowerment, but the underlying script remains unchanged. They are a far, far, cry from recently published books that actually work to end misconceptions like “Connecting Christ”“Jesus Through Pagan Eyes”, and “Beyond the Burning Times”. Whatever the criticisms and flaws of those books, they at least treat Wicca and modern Pagan faiths as religions that must be engaged with like any other religion.

If Christian-Pagan dialog is to move forward, if there is to be real understanding and communication, then the “ex-witch” meme must be done away with. They aren’t “ex-witches”, they are Christians, hoping to make a buck and score some notoriety from their past dalliances with our faiths and traditions. Ms. Tower may have been “one of us” for a decade, but she obviously learned nothing about how actions have repercussions. She has chosen to make herself a part of a publishing legacy that has done nothing but lie and defame us, no matter how reformed the genre claims to be now. They dare pity us, and call us damaged or lost. They are nothing but non-fiction dramas for bored Christians looking for a bit of frission, and to dress it up as anything else is an insult to the real interfaith and dialog work being done by Christians and Pagans.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • ELNIGMA

    Not interested in the book itself, but I do like Aslan on the cover art. 

  • Nicole Youngman

    CS Lewis’ estate needs to sue the hell out of her publisher for that cover, too. :) 

    In any case, yeah, it’s the same old story they keep telling–it just has to have the details updated periodically so it’ll click with modern readers (that stuff from the 80s bitching about Ozzy or whatever does sound dated after a while ;)).

    • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

       Not to mention the fact that the second Youtube video makes blatant use of Michael Giacchino’s score from the show Lost.

      • Satower7

        Sorry… the video was done by a outside production company and I have no clue as to the music used.

    • Satower7

      That would be like suing for every picture of a deity. The cover is not based on CS Lewis… it’s the Lion of Judah which is based from the Bible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/myranda.rosenbaum Myranda Joy Rosenbaum

    that cover doesn’t look like it belongs XD lol. I was wondering about these sort of things! I have seen a lot of “documentaries” on youtube about witches and pagans who felt an evil spirit and then left the religion. 

    • Satower7

      Not sure where you are going with this but I didn’t leave Wicca because of some evil spirit! Matter of fact, I was quite content with my lifestyle.

      • M L Spence396

         If you were content ,what happen to cause you to go back to a religion that is all male ? I am Pagan and I believe in the Divine Mother Goddess & Father God !  My belief is all about balance . From what have read you will still be discontent  in your choice of faith after a little time because of lack of living a balanced life & faith . 

        • Satower7

          ML… the difference is that I haven’t returned to a male religion rather to a relationship.  The relationship was never intended to be male dominated though most men have made it out to be.

  • kenneth

    This whole niche of Christian publishing is an industry of parasites and grifters who sell fear and titillation to their co-religionists and anyone fool enough to take things at face value. For all of the claims these “ex-witches” make about “how deep” they were in and how long, nobody in any pagan community can ever seem to remember their involvement. Many of these writers reveal such ignorance about the craft or any pagan trad that one wonders if they even read a Wikipedia entry, let alone ever practiced or talked to a real witch. These book are no different than the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and ought to be called out as such. 

    • Satower7

      I agree… some Christian publishing is centered around making a profit and it’s not right to instill fear for the sake of sales.  There isn’t anything to make one “fearful” in Taken From The Night. 

      • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

        Except for perpetuating the idea that there’s a “spiritual war” going on, and that Pagans are on the side of “The Enemy.” 

        Quote: ”Soon after I began writing Taken From The Night the subtle attacks began.”http://takenfromthenight.com/1/category/spiritual%20warfare/1.htmlI also love that you say you aren’t trying to instill fear, then produce videos with spooky music and evil sword-wielding phantasms.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

           There IS a spiritual war going on. The Pagan community may not want it, but it is here nonetheless.

          This is not said to be confrontational but simply because I observe the facts (that you, yourself, provide).

          A large number of Christians fervently believe (as they should) that there is only one god and that anyone who professes to follow another is actually being deceived by (or is on the side of) the Devil.

          Sure, they are not using ducking stools and gallows any more, but Christians are still trying to eradicate any opposing belief.

          Is it really wrong to fight back?

          • Faoladh

            If we do (and I don’t know that we need to), it should be with a very measured response. It is not in our interest to escalate the war that others started.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             I never said ‘we’ needed to, or that ‘we’ should escalate. I merely asked if it would be wrong.

            I tried to avoid putting in personal opinion, in favour of objective observation.

            I could, but it probably would be seen as helpful.

          • Faoladh

            Well, surely someone needs to do the fighting, if fighting back is done. “We” is as appropriate as any other pronoun in that sense, so it doesn’t matter whether you said it or no. I didn’t mention escalation in regard to your specific question (I don’t really have an answer to give to that – in fact, I think that answer must be left to each of us individually, as the specific circumstances dictate): it was instead an observation directed to those who decide to fight back, instead of choosing any other response.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             What other response is there to a religion that is actively trying to demonise and expunge your beliefs? Other than allowing it to happen?

          • Faoladh

            Consider: if they couldn’t eradicate our religions forever when they had more… persuasive methods at their disposal, what chance do you think that they would have to do so in this society?

            My own response to all of their attempts today is to live my life openly and honestly in regard to my polytheism. I don’t need to evangelize. I don’t need to fight. Others are not, of course, in the same position I am in, and so their response may very well be different. They may need to fight, or to hide, or whatever else.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             That’s just it. They pretty much DID wipe out the religions. Modern Paganism is almost certainly not directly connected to the historical indigenous beliefs of pre-Christian Europe (and elsewhere).

            What chance do I think they have? Well, they could easily reintroduce ‘anti-witchcraft’ laws.

            Or they could just keep demonising the Pagan traditions.

            By living openly and honestly about your beliefs, you are fighting against them. It is a war of words, not acts now.

            (I could mention how there is a steady increase in attacks on ‘witches’ in the African-origin communities, notably in Britain.)

          • Faoladh

            I don’t think that anti-witchcraft laws are very likely at this point in history. When they become possible again, we will no longer be living in this society.

            If “fighting” is stretched to mean “ignoring” (or even “studiously ignoring”, which would at least be active), then the word has ceased to have any meaning at all.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             There seems to be a rise in ultraconservative Christianity, possibly in backlash to certain progressive ideals, that could see local legislation.

            Even by ignoring, you are refusing to bow down to the norms of society (such as by not celebrating Christmas or Easter), which is fighting back, in a small way.

          • Faoladh

            Thank the gods that we have a Constitution, then, that gives us tools to deal with that if it should ever happen.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             Yeah, because that Constitution has proved so sacrosanct up until now.

            Besides, I’m not from the USA.

          • Faoladh

            The tools of the US Constitution have certainly allowed us to overcome attempts to institute religious control (for the most part) so far. The few places where it hasn’t are still in dispute, and I think that religious liberty will come out ahead.

            Since you aren’t in the US, see my comments above regarding different situations. However, there are many places in the world which are in a similar situation to the US. Evaluate yours carefully. Fighting (and I do not use that term to refer to simply ignoring the nasty talk of others, I use it to mean what it means, though I do use it broadly: ranging from the use of violent actions to the use of social/legal sanctions within the socio-legal system to the detriment of the opponent’s goals, and much in between) before it is actually necessary can be detrimental to your cause.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            That sounds fine, in theory, but that means suffering the crap that is thrown at you until ‘the time is right’.

            Never been a big one for turning the other cheek.

          • Faoladh

            There are sure a lot of assumptions you make. Who said anything about turning the other cheek? It’s a matter of appropriate action, taken as appropriate, and not upsetting the balance of things without necessity. Acting without restraint and imbalancing the world as a result is not the same as proper retribution to redress actual (not imagined) wrongs.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             It seems I use the term ‘fighting back’ more broadly than you do.

            Also, what ‘balance of things’?

            At the moment there isn’t one. Unless you consider a huge bias in favour of Abrahamic monotheism balanced.

            For clarity’s sake, I should probably point out that I am far more inspired in my own path by the Eddas than by contemporary works that all seem infected by humanism.

          • Faoladh

            As I’ve said many, many times in this thread, do what you feel is necessary. If you don’t want to listen to the experience of others, that’s also your privilege.

            The Eddas are awesome. Like many northern European documents, however, they were written down by Christian hands. So, keep those things in mind. Treating anything like Holy Writ plays into other hands than pagan/polytheist ones.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             I am aware that the Eddas (especially the prose Edda) were written by Christians.

            I don’t follow them as holy writ – I am not Asatruar – I merely find them to be an excellent set of stories, with some good values in them.

            I am not suggesting that people go burning churches (there is a time and a place and a reason for that), merely that they don’t sit idly by whilst others maliciously spread misinformation about them in order to maintain a spiritual monopoly.

      • Baby_Raptor

        Except for how you demonize those of us who still practice, talking about how we’re an enemy instead of simply someone who doesn’t practice the same faith as you. 

        As a former Christian, and someone whose dating a Christian…I actively look for ways that our faiths don’t conflict. People like you just make targets of The Other to win points. 

        • Satower7

          Have to disagree… I’m not calling you nor anyone who still practices an enemy. Your path is yours to follow and if we don’t share the same faith so be it. 

          There are no targets and no need for winning points.

      • http://www.facebook.com/brandythomas.ravenmoondesigns Brandy Stafford Thomas

        Though your site blogs and the promo videos sure say otherwise! Either you’re trying to promote communication or you aren’t. Can’t be both. You SAY in these comments you’re promoting communication, that you were “happy” to be Wiccan…but your blogs and the horror-movie-style promos are saying Wicca and Paganism are evil. Confused much? Looks like you just want to make a quick buck…and flip-flopping is the way to go. You seem to be no different than any other “converted-to-Christian” author.

        • Satower7

          Brandy… you may be misinterpreting the videos. Trailer one is shows something entirely in the christian realm before I was even  aware of Wicca and Trailer two is showing the misunderstanding of a pastor and yes… spiritual conflict. They are not showing Wicca as evil but you’re right in that I’m not really trying to promote communication… just address misunderstandings.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandythomas.ravenmoondesigns Brandy Stafford Thomas

            If I’m misinterpreting them, then they failed to make your point about alleviating misunderstandings about Paganism. Those videos seem to show exactly what many Christians already think of Paganism…that it’s about calling on ghosts and getting into negative elements. They don’t alleviate any misunderstandings…they perpetuate them. They are doing nothing but spewing more propaganda…so you can make a quick buck. If I’m misinterpreting them, then so will others. Had I only seen the promos and not known what your book was about from reading this article, I would have thought your book was a horror novel about ghosts – with religion thrown in…like a lot of older horror movies did. Knowing that the book is supposed to be about your spiritual journey, I was left scratching my head…trying to figure out how ninja apparitions and ghostly voices had anything to do with a spiritual journey from one belief, to another, and back again. I noticed how you say spiritual “conflict” here and spiritual “battle” in your blogs. (And I LOL’d when I read the blog about being “attacked” when you 1st started writing your book…come on, do you really believe a couple computer crashes were the work of evil spirits not wanting you to write it??…obviously evil “Pagan” spirits since “God” brought you a computer tech who fixed your problems. That’s a stretch that only comes from Christian fundamentalism…which has no interest in alleviating any misunderstandings between Christiainty and Paganism.) Anyway, you say “conflict” and “battle”… please notice how I say spiritual “journey”. If you look at it from a positive point of view, there is no conflict or battle…only a journey that we each embark on. Obviously you, and many other Christians, view their spiritual journey as a battle/conflict…something that needs to be resolved and can only be resolved one way – with Christ. You see it as a negative thing until you reach that one goal – a battle over your soul where the only good ending is, again, with Christ. If this is how your book portrays your journey, you have done a great disservice to Paganism, Wicca, and Pagans, just like all the “ex-witches” before you.

          • Satower7

            Brandy… why do you assume that “attacks” and evil spirits have to do with wiccan/pagan spirits? I think half the problem is that both pagans and christians alike are to busy pointing fingers about another belief that they really know little about.  

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandythomas.ravenmoondesigns Brandy Stafford Thomas

             Hmm, there’s no “Reply” link on your last comment…so I have to reply to my comment in order to reply to yours.
            I assume this because of the propaganda you used for your promos. What other “spirits” would be attacking you?? You wrote in that same blog about how you used to believe all beliefs led to the same place…but then you had a vision of a battlefield. Is that not the battlefield of Christians vs. non-Christians? Who exactly is “the enemy” you refer to? Either your writing isn’t up to par and I’m misunderstanding, yet again…or I’m reading it correctly.
            Counter question…why do you assume Pagans know little about Christianity? Just like I’ve studied the Pagan beliefs, I’ve also studied Christianity…it’s how I know it’s not for me. The main problem are Christians who refuse to study anything outside of their Bible. They are the ones who know nothing about other beliefs. You will find most non-Christians know a lot about Christiainty, and more often than not we know more about Christianity than the Christians themselves do…because we don’t hold the Bible to be some holier-than-everything-else book. We see it as a history book…something to study amongst the many other books out there.

          • No Bod E

            I know bout BOTH beliefs. Maybe you should go back xianity if you believe Pagans know nothing about it. I spent over 40 years in xianity.

          • Dawn D. Bengel

            What “misunderstandings” are you trying to address?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=4301544 Fae Edwards-Miller

    Reading the linked article (which is on a truly frightening site btw) it looks like her ‘story’ is less about a Pagan who became Christian, then a Christian who really wanted an intense, supernatural component to her religious experience. 

    Her into into ‘witchcraft’ was when “she then picked up a book that had been lying on the couple’s shelf
    about a man who delved into witchcraft, but later left a group of people
    who believed in the pagan traditions of witches because he felt they
    had abandoned him. He then had a renewed faith in Christianity, she
    explained.”

    I have encountered a number of people who are attracted to Paganism not really for what it contains spiritually – but because they’re looking for something dramatic.  They want glowing mist, the Goddess physically manifesting in the Circle, levitating objects, etc.   TV/Movie depictions of ‘magic’ and ‘witchcraft’ are partially to blame, but I think so is a general misunderstanding of the concept of ‘faith’ across religions.  They’re looking outward for dramatic spiritual revelations, when the need to look within themselves first.   They’re going to be disappointed in Paganism just like every other faith they’ve tried.

    • Satower7

      Hi Fae, It is important for one to look within and not for manifestations or signs and wonders. However, while it may have been that man’s book to spark my interest, it was not what kept me a practicing witch for the next decade. And… I would be surprised if one didn’t have Goddess in their mist in circle. 

      • Killary-flames

        I think you mean “midst.”

        • Satower7

          Thanks for the typo correction.

      • Guest

        Which man’s book got you interested in Paganism? Which book was the first you bought on it? I’m just curious.

        • Harmonyfb

          You know, the first thing I can remember reading about Paganism was “MacBeth” (three Witches worshiping Hecate who had great oracular skills.) But the first modern thing I remember was a magazine article (in some 1974 teen rag) about Wicca. It made me try magick…and it worked! (Of course, this was after I had my threshold experience with Herne in the woods, so it wasn’t so much drawing me to Paganism as it was shaping how I interacted with the world.)

        • Satower7

          It was one of the very kind of books most of the pagan community has come to expect. It was found in later years to be a total fraud (by the Christian community) itself.  I actually began  my research to disprove what seemed a bizarre story. 

          • Donna

             ”It [the book] was found in later years to be a total fraud (by the Christian community) itself.”

            I’m asking this with sincerity, but doesn’t the Christian community consider *every* book on modern Paganism to be a “fraud”?  Unless I’m misreading that oddly worded statement, you’re saying that the first book you read about modern Paganism seemed bizarre, so you started out doing research to disprove it and that led you to practice Wicca.  Later that same book was proven by the Christian community to be a fraud. 

            The idea that one religion could, should, or even would attempt to either validate or invalidate texts or ideas from another religion boggles my mind.  It’s one thing to disagree with the beliefs of other religions, even to the point of saying they’re false, but there’s no such thing as a neutral position when it comes to evaluating beliefs and religions.  I’m not entirely impressed a book was found a fraud by the Christian community, I don’t see the Christian community endorsing any Pagan books anytime soon.  In any case, the only weight that endorsement or rejection would carry could only be within the same community.

          • Satower7

            Donna,
            The book was found to be fraud while I was practicing witchcraft so I never knew it until years later. The book is only something that promted me to go to the library, while researching I discovered a path that seemed what I had always been searching for and from there my path in wicca began. The book I’m speaking of made witchcraft out to be the same as satanism with a long list of horror practices so I believe it’s good that it was disproved. It wasn’t invalidating text of another religion rather creating a witch hysteria. I agree I don’t know of any pagan books the christian community endorses, neither do I know of any christian books the pagan community endorses.  

          • Genexs

             Are you trying to be funny, or something?

  • temperatelogic

    Having read the sample chapter on her web site, I can say her story sounds fairly predictable. The brand of Christianity she came from (of the woman-submit! variety)  failed her, leading to a broken marriage and financial ruin, so she turned to something that seemed to promise an entirely different paradigm. When that, too, failed to satisfy, she turned back to the familiar. (From my own Wiccan days I seem to recall a passage about “if that which thou seekest, thou findest not within thee” which I think is apropos here.) It’s not at all a new story, although it’s apparently a popular narrative, since this literary genre–the occult deconversion story–has been an evangelical Christian staple since at least the 1970s or 80s.

    • Satower7

      You’ve got the beginning pretty much but are missing some major pieces after (roughly 28 Chapters). I must disagree though as I was happy and content being a witch and converting was the last thing on my mind.

      • temperatelogic

         I’ll concede that I was drawing my conclusions based on limited evidence.  :)  That aside, though, I have to wonder why, if you were happy and content as a witch, you chose to re-convert to Christianity, and further to write a book that casts your non-Christian experience in an unfavorable light. I mean, neither Christianity nor Wicca were ultimately the right spiritual paths for me, but I have yet to pen a memoir detailing my negative experiences with either.

        • Satower7

          you said it… and the point I’m trying to make is that book does not cast my non-Christian experience in an unfavorable light.  

      • Genexs

         OK, ok, I get it. This is suppose to be some sort of Pagan stand-up routine or something.

  • Kei Cripps

    Those “spots” for the book made me lol.  Is she the one acting in these things?  Because if her writing is as bad as her acting, I don’t think we have anything to worry about

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      They were so muddled I couldn’t tell if you were supposed to cheer for the witch or the pastor.

      • Satower7

        take you pick… that was the point of the video. The pastor was being led by his flesh getting angry and frustrated that she didn’t turn back to Christianity.  She was trying to break the stereotypes that Christians tend to have about Wiccans.

        • http://www.facebook.com/brandythomas.ravenmoondesigns Brandy Stafford Thomas

          SHE might have been trying to break the stereotypes, but with the scary music and the ninja ghost…the whole video fails to convey this. I’m still trying to figure out why there’s scary music and a ghost in the first place…neither have anything to do with Wicca or Paganism. The only thought that comes to mind is propaganda to sell the book. Which only hurts Pagans. For being “so happy” as a Wiccan, your videos sure do want to show Hollywood make-believe and not truly what Paganism is.

          • Guest

            And the candles!  Don’t forget the 150 candles burning on a windy night with long sheer curtains blowing around at the open windows.  Also, we gather from the extremely boring dialogue, with kids asleep in the house.

            Because Paganism is, you know, DANGEROUS and stuff. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandythomas.ravenmoondesigns Brandy Stafford Thomas

            No kidding, right? LOL Way to much Hollywood drama in the scene. Would have been much more Pagan-friendly to show her out in a meadow with the kids happily playing…and if she must convince her ex-Pastor that it’s not a bad religion, then having her talking on her cell phone while enjoying the sunshine and the sound of her kids’ laughter. Even if the author didn’t personally experience the meadow scene…would it matter? As I’m pretty sure she didn’t personally experience being haunted by a ninja ghost…LOL. If she’s going to fabricate stuff anyway and is claiming to be shedding light on Paganism, why not actually show that light? Makes more sense than being stalked by ghostly apparitions.

    • Satower7

      Sorry Kei, I’m not actress so no need to be critical of her and what have you got to fear anyway? 

  • Kei Cripps

    Okay so I read the sample chapter from the book, and so far it sounds like she realised exactly everything that is wrong with the church’s ideology concerning “the place of a woman” and then blaming her when she does exactly what she’s told to do.  How does this morph into an anti-Pagan experience for her?  This would have been the biggest indicator that I’m definitely on the wrong boat.

    • Satower7

      there was no anti-Pagan experience in my view.

      • Quadgemini

        Then why the necessity, the imperative, to write anti-Pagan propaganda?

        • Satower7

          not anti-pagan propaganda. 

          • Genexs

             yes anti-pagan propaganda

  • Kelly Lynn Thomas

    I remember reading a few of those books back in my early conversion days (from Christianity to Wicca). I think I was worried, in the back of my mind, that I was going to regret my decision to break away from the church. But as soon as I read the first chapter of one, I realized what a load of schlock it was and remembered why I wanted to leave the church in the first place.

    And I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed Aslan on the cover and the blatant use of Lost music!

    • Satower7

      The cover is The Lion of Judah and I believe Aslan  is based on that.  I don’t regret leaving my church either… it’s more about His relentless love.

      • Harmonyfb

        His relentless love.

        That’s a phrase I’d use to describe a stalker, not a God I worshiped.

      • RivaWitch

        Love? Luke 19 Jesus:
        I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.w.morehead John W. Morehead

    Thank you for bringing yet another former-witch/wiccan/occultist/pagan testimony volume by a Christian writer to light. I had not heard of this one, although I have written critical reviews of others previously.

    I think you have accurately noted some of the reasons as to why these narratives are so appealing to Christians. In some of the research that I and colleagues have assembled it also appears that there is a great interest in a handful of approaches to other religions, new religious movements in particular. Two of these are the spiritual warfare and the apostate testimony models. The spiritual warfare model emphasizes evil spiritual force at work, while the apostate testimony model understands new religions through the biographies of former members of given groups. When these two approaches come together you have a powerful interpretive filter for evangelicals which confirms the worst fears and suspicions they have about certain religious groups, particularly Paganism.

    As a result of this, as Jason has noted in the essay, misunderstanding results which is then passed on to others as fact, resulting in the misrepresentation of Paganism and Pagans. The tragic and unrecognized result, from a Christian perspective, is that the Christian has shared false testimony about his/her neighbor, thus violating one of the commandments closely related to the idea of loving neighbor as you love yourself.

    This is indeed an impediment to dialogue, and it must be recognized as one of the stumbling blocks on our agenda as points of conversation during Pagan-Christian conversations.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I appreciate your comment, John, because it’s consistent with your earlier stated position that your fellow evangelists are doing it all wrong and need to approach our religion(s) with respect and knowledge.

      • Satower7

        Baruch… couldn’t agree with you more!

        • Baby_Raptor

          So you go and do more of the same, just slightly toned down. Great move. 

    • Hecate_Demetersdatter

      And your agenda is exactly . . . . 

      • http://www.facebook.com/john.w.morehead John W. Morehead

         Not sure if this is a question. My agenda is dialogue between Pagans and Christians, as illustrated through Beyond the Burning Times which I edited that brought Gus diZerega and Philip Johnson together, and hopefully in more formal ways through the Foundation of Religious Diplomacy with a Pagan chapter started.

        • Harmonyfb

          John, speaking for myself, I really appreciate respectful dialog. It does nothing but good for people of diverse faiths to talk with one another and understand one another’s theology, especially since many of your co-religionists are hell-bent on showing their butts in public. ::sigh::

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            Harmonyfb: “It does nothing but good for people of diverse faiths to talk with one another.”

            This is not true. Words have power, and they have consquences. Therefore, “talking” is not guaranteed to be some harmless activity that can’t hurt anyone. Quite the opposite.

            When John Morehead “talks” to Pagans, he is doing research. He is gathering information. To what end? His goal is the “conversion of the nations”, the so-called “Great Commission”. Morehead is missionary committed to a zero-sum game of religious conversion. Winning souls to Christ means convincing people to renounce all non-Christian belief systems. There is no true middle-ground, only steps along the unidirectional path to the One True Way.

            This is not some well-kept secret. In a 2003 article published by the Evangelical Missiological Society (a href=”http://www.primum-mobile.net/003/rel1.html”>link), Morehead proposed several action items to help achieve “greater evangelistic successes” among Pagans and other “new religious movements”.

            One of these proposals was to improve the training of young missionaries, and in particular to provide them with “practical field experience in sharing the gospel with adherents of new religions. Such programs would include practical assignments such as an interview with a Mormon or a Wiccan high priestess, for example. This interview would then result in an essay prepared by the student where they would explore the theological, missiological, and apologetic issues that arise from such encounters.”

            Pagans should avoid participating in such “field work” by those who are working day and night to eradicate our religious traditions.

          • Harmonyfb

            I disagree, Apuleius. When folks talk together, they humanize one another. The scary ‘other’ becomes somebody they know – and half the problem (in my opinion) between religions is that those who are most strident see their opposites as not fully human.

            I was involved in an interfaith group for a long time, and I saw firsthand how individuals’ views of other religions can be altered for the better through ongoing conversations. People can have some squirrelly notions about religions with which they are unfamiliar (especially those which fall under the ‘Pagan’ umbrella), and it’s easier to believe the truly squirrelly bits about strangers than acquaintances or friends.

            Of course, not everyone is going to be amenable to treating one another as human beings. There will always be people who prefer to dehumanize their opponents – but in shaking the hands of our neighbors, we can at least make a start towards a more peaceful future.

          • Guest

            I think both of you are right, depending on the individual circumstance. Sometimes dialogue can be  fruitful, sometimes it’s just better to avoid certain people. Knowing that’s where discretion comes in.

    • Satower7

      Hi John,

      Taken From The Night should disprove worst fears and suspicions, not add to them.  I agree that one should not be a false witness (one of the points I emphasize) and the book is simply the truth that I lived. No exaggerations or embellishments needed. Actually, as a Christian… YOU may not like too many things I have to say.  :) 

      • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

        Quote Ms. Tower:
        “It’s time to go back to one of my weapons of warfare, the keyboard.”

        If your book is so positive about Wiccans, and Wiccans aren’t Satanic, why would Satan and his minions care about you writing a book about it? 

        “Whether you realize it or not, you’re on the battlefield.There is a source attempting to prevent you from doing your part in advancing the kingdom.”

        Which side of the “war” are Pagans on?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186404199 Crystal Hope Kendrick

           I really hate that stupid warfare rhetoric.  It’s impossible to live and let live when your “neighbors” are secretly or not so secretly waging hostilities on you, and yes, I see the  relentless attempts at conversion and the inability to take no for an answer as absolutely hostile.  Spiritual stalkers, that’s a good name for these folks.

          • Satower7

            Crystal… spiritual warfare isn’t being waged secretly against you and honestly I have no intention to attempt to convert you or any one. Your path is yours to choose.

          • Guest

            That paragraph didn’t have to be any attack against Paganism or a particular person but the usual having battle with personal demons as it’d be phrased among many people. The cause of said was not stated. A reason why many people will think you wrote the book, even if that’s not why you did –
            Some Evangelical sects encourage new converts (and old ones, too) to “testify” their conversion, tell widely and loudly about how they were before they got born-again. The more entertaining, the more the convert gets encouraged to repeat their testimony. And that’s how your book may be being promoted.
              The interest in testimonies is from people who want to hear what seemingly wicked or just simply “spooky” stuff they got into before they were saved, and though you may personally not be hating, much of your audience got raised on Jack Chick. They’re not going to be easily moved from their assumptions that everything not coming out of their Evangelical religion is awful and wrong. They’ve been steeped, and raised in hateful propaganda and made to believe it was good.  And if you were firm enough to be heard, you’d have been firm enough to offend them.

        • Satower7

          Jason… the problem with this explanation is that you would first have to believe Satan exist and since in most pagans believe “Satan only exist in the minds of Christians” that would be difficult to explain.

          • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

            Nice evasion. 

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             Being a hard polytheist who believes in most pantheons, I’ll happily go with Satan exists, but he is a part of the Christian pantheon.

            That’s your war, not mine.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      John, do you reject the section of the Lausanne Covenant that specifically deals with spiritual warfare?

      “We believe that we are engaged in constant spiritual warfare with the
      principalities and powers of evil, who are seeking to overthrow the
      Church and frustrate its task of world evangelization
      . We know our need
      to equip ourselves with God’s armour and to fight this battle with the
      spiritual weapons of truth and prayer. For we detect the activity of our
      enemy, not only in false ideologies outside the Church, but also inside
      it in false gospels which twist Scripture and put people in the place
      of God
      . We need both watchfulness and discernment to safeguard the
      biblical gospel. We acknowledge that we ourselves are not immune to
      worldliness of thoughts and action, that is, to a surrender to secularism. For example, although careful studies of church growth, both
      numerical and spiritual, are right and valuable, we have sometimes
      neglected them. At other times, desirous to ensure a response to the
      gospel, we have compromised our message, manipulated our hearers through
      pressure techniques, and become unduly preoccupied with statistics or
      even dishonest in our use of them. All this is worldly. The Church must
      be in the world; the world must not be in the Church.”

  • http://blog.chasclifton.com/ Chas Clifton

    Is she claiming to be one of the “Tower Family” Witches, or was that just coincidence?

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      I think that’s just a coincidence. 

    • Stower7

      I am a Tower though not of the “Tower Family” you speak of.

  • Zan Fraser

    I just want to point out, because I think it is a really super-duper important thing to observe: Jason’s description of the ’90s Satanic-Panic (I’ll quote) EXACTLY describes the situation generated by the medieval church during the Burning Times: Witches being an “(imaginary) murderous occult underground network, one that the media [of the Middle Ages] was all too happy to feed, giving the impression that ‘we’ were everywhere and were possibly dangerous.” Add to this a medieval mind-set that holds torturing the accused into “confessions” of the Devil-Worshipping charges that you intend to bring against them, in order to burn them to death at the stake: this is a perfect (albeit inadvertent) description of the propaganda campaign enacted against Witches by both the Catholic and Protestant churches from the 1400s-1600s.

    • Satower7

      Zan… I agree 

  • Hecate_Demetersdatter

    “Dabble.”  I’ll be content if they’ll just stop using the word “dabble” to mean experiment with or try on Paganism.  One never says that someone “dabbled” with Christianity, or Judiams, or even Islam.  Let’s just drop “dabble” as a verb related to religion, shall we?  It sounds way too trite.

    • Genexs

       A reason for this is that  Monotheists don’t suffer dabblers to live. Dabblers are viewed as insane or evil.  One thing about us (on the other hand) is that we seem pretty tolerant of what I call ‘spiritual shoppers’. But that sounds something of a put-down too, doesn’t it? Some people do have a difficult path finding a religion that’s a good fit for them, and it takes time. Then again, I have met a few others who seem stuck on “dabbler” or “shopper” mode for life. Getting back  to your point, perhaps you are correct that the “dabbler” term should be dropped, much like the term “self proclaimed”.

      • Genexs

         Damn, I forgot:

        “Spiritual Dabbling–IT’S JUST PAGAN!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=585826544 Adam Birch

    Wa-hey!  Ghost ninjas and ‘phone answering – this has it all!  If only they could throw in the wizened husk that is Lorraine Warren to proclaim that missing a phone call was demonic, it’d be perfect for an adaptation on Discovery Channel.

    Was the author channeling Edward D. Wood Jr?

    • Genexs

       Hey, that’s an insult to Ed Wood!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=585826544 Adam Birch

    Re-reading the original article, I spotted the following paragraph:  ” Tower said she then picked up a book that had been lying on the couple’s
    shelf about a man who delved into witchcraft, but later left a group of
    people who believed in the pagan traditions of witches because he felt
    they had abandoned him. He then had a renewed faith in Christianity, she
    explained.”

    Isn’t this almost rendering her own book an act of plagiarism?

    Another paragraph attracted the pedant in my nature:  “It came to a point where it felt like God had intervened and literally came down and took me back.” 

    “Literally”.  A genuine physical manifestation?  That would have made Jesus Tacos look rather like an underachievement.

    • Satower7

      Adam… not talking physical manifestations here. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=585826544 Adam Birch

         ”Literally”.  That’s the problem there. 

  • Joshthepagan

    Yep, Pagans worshiping in small groups or by themselves and not attempting to actively convert anyone to their crazy ways of thanking their creator for life is sure going to bring down society.

    Ok, all sarcasm aside, books like this do not foster an environment of tolerance and understanding between two people who have different views.

    • Satower7

      Josh, you’re right I would need to apologize to all the Christians who excommunicated and shunned me and really, we all know pagans aren’t into converting… you choose your path.  It works two ways, if someone chooses a different path than you… can you be tolerant and understanding?

      • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

        “can you be tolerant and understanding”

        I love my Christian friends and family very much, I’m very tolerant of their faith choices. What I don’t like is someone converting to Christianity, then deciding they needed to sell a book about it, one that exists in a genre that has done nothing but slander Pagan faiths (and please don’t insult our intelligence by saying that isn’t what you’re doing). That they don’t need to simply live their faith, they need to write about “spiritual warfare” and go on Christian radio (which you brag about) to talk about leaving their old faith. It says to me you have an agenda, not a faith.

        • Genexs

           This is an example of what many Christians term “Turning the other cheek”.  It means to attack anyone who dares to call-out Christian bad behavior.

        • Satower7

          Jason… I’m sorry writing a book offends you but honestly I think it a good thing for Christians to see beyond the stereotype.

          • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

            “I’m sorry writing a book offends you…”

            Ha! Yes, all those people writing books offends me. Seriously? Is that how you debate? By constantly moving the goalposts? 

            As for stereotypes, you seem to refuse to acknowledge that you are embodying one yourself. The “ex-witch” who writes about their conversion experience for a Christian audience. You refuse to admit you a part of a well-established genre that you yourself admit has lied about our faiths. Writing another one and defending it by saying this one doesn’t lie does nothing to undo the fact that you are participating in an industry that consistently demonizes us in one fashion or another. 

          • RivaWitch

            Jason as someone who worked closely to an evangelical Christian. It is pointless to argue. Many believe ANYONE who believes in another God or many Gods or just the wrong ones are being influenced by satan himself. Even Atheist are controlled by him.(or it) In her own words. The devil makes things like Paganism look harmless. That is how he sucks you in. Point is no matter is they stereotype or not. They (most) feel we are evil controlled by evil. Sorry for the ramble. Just aggravated.

      • Baby_Raptor

        “can you be tolerant and understanding?”
        The Christians are the ones out there trying to make everyone toe their line, not us. They’re the ones trying to legislate their beliefs and advocating for the deaths of people who disagree. 

        So…Why do we need to be tolerant again?

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

           It is an extremely interesting question.

          Tolerance is (supposedly) a major part of the Christian ethos so, if you want to be a good Christian, you should be tolerant.

          Oh wait, You are/I am/we are not Christian. Let me check my Pagan ten commandments… Nope, nothing about tolerance there.

          Anyone else got a decent reason why we should be even remotely tolerant of intolerant attitudes towards us/our beliefs?

          • Faoladh

            On the one hand, polytheism is tolerant by nature. We don’t need a “command” enjoining us to tolerance because it is in the nature of our way of looking at the world. On the other hand, intolerance does not need to be “tolerated”. To claim otherwise is the petulant whining of the intolerant, begging for permission to be intolerant of others.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             Modern polytheism may be tolerant by nature, but that is not really apparent in many historical situations.

            Plus, polytheism will be set up to tolerate some things, but not others.

            That would be like saying that humanism is an integral part of polytheism. That is completely untrue. All polytheism is is a belief in the existence of multiple gods. (Not even a veneration of, merely an acknowledging of existence.)

          • Faoladh

            OK, I’ll bite. In which historical situations is polytheist tolerance not apparent?

            What do you mean by “gods”?

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            ” Modern polytheism may be tolerant by nature, but that is not really apparent in many historical situations.”

            The tolerance of historical polytheism has been readily apparent to historians. To name a few: Ramsay MacMullen, James B. Rives, Perez Zagorin, Jan Assmann, Robert G. Hoyland, J.B. Bury, etc.

            Robert G. Hoyland’s 2001 book “Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam” is especially noteworthy as probably the single most important source in the English language on pre-Islamic Arab polytheism.

            Hoyland emphasizes the “real and substantial” differences between polytheism and monotheism, and the first of these differences is that “monotheism is by nature intolerant and intransigent”, whereas with respect to polytheism:

            “If you believe in many Gods however, there is no reason to be hostile to Gods not your own, nor any bar to paying them and their faithful your respects. ‘When you enter a village, swear by its Gods’ as the old Arabian proverb goes.”

            For sourcing and more details look here.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Svipdagsmol: 13

            Then
            eighth will I chant thee, if ever by night

            Thou shalt wander on murky ways:

            Yet never the curse of a Christian woman

            From the dead shall do thee harm.

             
            Then there is the systemic persecution of Christians in Rome.

            You also have the persecution in Lyon, following the Emperor Trajan’s outlawing of Christianity a few years previously.

            Early (polytheistic) persecution of Christianity provided the Church with plenty of martyrs, after all.

            Athanaric, king of the Thervingi waged war against Christian encroachment (considering anathema to Gothic culture.)

            As to what I mean about ‘gods’… the various pantheons that have existed throughout history, such as the Aesir/Vanir, the Tuatha de Danan, the Olympians, the Hindu devis…

            Essentially a species of immortal spiritual beings.

  • redwood_eagle

    Hmm. I could write one about how Xtianity almost ruined my life. How Reformed Druidism “saved” me.

  • Mia

    Those videos left me speechless….they’re actually using landline phones! With cords even!

    • Satower7

      Hi Mia… the scene takes place when people actually used landline phones!

    • Thelettuceman

       :P I keep a landline phone in my house with a cord so I can make phone calls when the power goes out.

      • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat Katie B

        I’ve never had that problem – of course I also live in a built-up urban area where power outages are likely to be highly localized, and there’s more than one cell tower within range so others can pick up the slack from a tower that’s out due to power failure.

  • Damien

    Maybe I’ll write a book about how over the past decade I always seem to be on a teeter totter between Atheism, Christianity, and Paganism yet everytime I really get down to what i truly believe in my heart and head I always end up choosing Druidism/Paganism. Wonder how well that book would sell.

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat Katie B

      I’d buy it.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    If you want interfaith dialogue to move forward, then there needs to be a shift in perception that says that all religions are equal, rather than having a monopoly of faith in place.

    • Wdaytonking

      I don’t believe this will ever happen on any major scale because both Islam and Christianity hold as foundational tenets that they are the only way to God and they are commanded to spread their gospel. Any practical compromise on these two beliefs undermines fundamental aspects of their belief system. Moderates who are willing to engage in dialogue are seen as apostate by the true believers.

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

        “Moderates who are willing to engage in dialogue are seen as apostate by the true believers.

        That’s quite true. Groups like Evangelical Ministries to New
        Religions (EMNR), and individuals like John Morehead come in for sharp criticism from many of their fellow Evangelicals who see them as “soft” on Paganism, or even as crypto-New-Agers secretly spreading heretical teachings among Evangelicals.

        But the dialogue-mongers are still committed to the Great Commission. They simply stand Clausewitz on his head and give him a slight twist: for them “spiritual dialogue” is still the same old “spiritual warfare” pursued by different means.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

         It could happen, but it would require a significant numerical shift.

        That is unlikely without the dawn of evangelical Paganism. (An interesting concept, to say the least.)

        • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

          Paganism does not require evangelizing, per se, because Paganism is a spontaneous expression of the natural, inborn spiritual impulses of human beings.

          Christianization is the spiritual equivalent of clear cutting a forest, and then paving it over. But almost immediately, weeds begin to push their way through the inevitable cracks. Eventually, the barren spiritual parking lot of Christendom will return to a mighty forest, and every last remnant of monotheistic concrete will be nothing but dust.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             No faith requires evangelising (well, except those that have evangelism as a central tenet).

            Doesn’t mean it will not happen, however.

            As I said, it would be interesting, even if one disagrees with the concept of evangelical Paganism.

        • Sunweaver

           ”…the dawn of evangelical Paganism:

          ::knock, knock, knock::
          Have you heard about the Goddess today?
          8( Oh, horror of horrors! It hurts us, Precious.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             My standard response to the stock evangelical introduction of  ‘Can we talk to you about God?’ is ‘Which one?’

          • Sunweaver

             Sometimes I forget and think “Oh, I wonder which one they mean?” When I see something that says something with “Lord” or “God” on it. Then I remember that my dear monotheist friends believe there’s just the one.
            I don’t even mean to be snarky about it, it’s just a five second delay between seeing the thing and remembering about monotheism.
            …but this is now way off topic.

            Interfaith dialogue good.
            Spiritual warfare bad.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             When dealing with a monotheistic religion Hel-bent on eradicating all other beliefs, what is the difference, really, between interfaith dialogue and spiritual warfare?

            After all, by getting Christianity to accept Paganism as a valid alternative spiritual path you are asking it to fundamentally change.

  • Gwilwileth

    God is universal. It doesn’t matter how or where you worship. It doesn’t matter what name you assign to God or how many times you multiply him or her. God is God. What does it matter how others worship? Is it hurting you, personally? ‘War’ or not, I know the path I choose. Let people worship how the will worship. I’m pretty sure that ‘even though I am Wiccan’, God is not going to strike me down and send me to hell when I have been  nothing but a good person in my life.

    Help, not hinder, and Love, not hate. Respect all life and do not cause unnecessary harm. THAT will get you to your Celestial Gate.

    • http://www.xkcd.com/285 Eran Rathan

      God isn’t a name, its a job description.

    • Wdaytonking

      The belief that there are such things as ‘false prophets’ is just as central to the faith of some people as your monistic interpretation of deity is to yours. The idea that all gods are ultimately one is not universally shared among even North American pagans, and certainly not by all other polytheistic traditions. I’m not criticizing your belief, just pointing out that you are arguing from a theological assumption the same as the fundamentalist Christians are.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      Any “god” who demands exclusive worship, and who commands his followers to make war on all those who worship other Goddesses and Gods, is not “universal”. For monotheism, “universalism” simply means that there is only One True Religion for everyone, whether they like it or not. This is not genuine universalism.

      But true religious universalism also does not mean crudely insisting that all religions are “the same” or “equal”, etc. True universalism, at least in the Pagan/polytheistic sense, is expressed in the ancient Arabic proverb “when you enter a village, swear by it’s Gods”.

      Ancient Pagans believed, without ever being taught it, that all people everywhere worship the Gods. Perhaps the Gods of some foreign land are the same as one’s own Gods, just with different names and traditions associated with them. But perhaps not. It is the highest form of hubris to insist that one knows the answers to such questions with complete certainty.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

       There are different types of theism.
      (Simple versions here:)
      Monotheism has one deity.
      Pantheism has everything as part of one divine whole.
      Soft polytheism has lots of named aspects of one overarching divinity.
      Hard polytheism has multiple deities.

      So suggest to a hard polytheist that their deities are actually all just facets of one unitarian god is actually pretty insulting.

      • Obsidia

         People have different definitions of the word “god” too.  That makes for a lot of confusion.  My favorite is that the word “god” is a VERB! ;-)

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

           They do indeed.

          In fact, it could be said that the big ‘god debate’ is not about existence, but nature of existence.

    • Gwilwileth

       Oh dear. It seems I’ve not explained it as well as I’d hoped. Now that I look at it, I can see where misunderstandings could be spawned. Okay. Let me try this again.

      When I say God is God, I mean that it does not matter what Name your god is given, nor how many they are, the fact remains that this is YOUR GOD.

      All I meant to say, or ask, rather, is why does it matter how differently one worships when *a* God is *a* God?

      (For that matter, who are WE to decide what is right and what is wrong? Here’s an idea, you live your own life, worship your own Gods, and let those Gods worry about what happens next, eh?)

      Hope that works out better.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

         Try to differentiate between God and god(s).

        The capitalised ‘God’ is used (by Christians) as a name for a single, monolithic deity, whereas the lower case ‘god(s)’ is used a term for a deity or deities that may or may not include the god of Abraham.

        As a non worshipper, I don’t hold too much importance to what the gods say.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Rau.Milmoe Andrew Milmoe

          I *never* use the lower case for Gods (except by typo).  The Christians capitalize ‘God’ as respect for YHVH, and they’ve taken to use it as their God’s proper name – conversely, lower case is used for all other uses of the word ‘God’ to indicate the Christians’ disrespect for any other God but theirs.

          I’m a hard polytheist, so if I want to talk about a non-specific God I might start out saying something regarding “One of the Gods/Goddesses” (or “any One of…”), then refer back to that God later as “that God” (or something like that).

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             Do you also capitalise ‘human’ or ‘bird’? What about ‘troll’ or ‘alfar’?

            The word ‘god’ is simply a species designator (from the Germanic languages, in much the same way that deity is derived from the Latin.)

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            All arguments against capitalizing “Gods”, “Goddess”, and “Goddesses” are nothing but sophistical after-the-fact justifications for an orthographic convention that obviously privileges monotheism generally and the evil drooling entity worshipped by the christians in particular.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             As opposed to basing it on linguistic conventions?

            Just because I believe in numerous deities (and pantheons), doesn’t mean I feel any need to see them as any more special than any other species of being.

          • http://www.facebook.com/Rau.Milmoe Andrew Milmoe

            You can do as you please with regards to the Gods.  I make a point of capitalizing their job title/role to indicate my respect.  I’m more likely to actually discuss Them in the specific by using a proper name.  Or I’d probably use the terms ‘Netjer’ or ‘Netjeru’.

            ‘Human’, ‘bird’, & ‘troll’ are not job titles.  So, no – I don’t capitalize them, except as appropriate in grammar, as in the beginning of the last sentence.

          • Mia

            A species would be capitalized, particularly if you’re using the Latin name. God, lowercase, is a generic category same as bird, so it’s fine to keep it lowercase in  the linguistic sense. Human, however, is a specific species name. It is appropriate to capitalize it, although that’s not enforced in many contexts.

            If you were speaking German though, then you would capitalize all the nouns, including generic labels. English somehow lost that tendency over time. However, it’s not WRONG to capitalize generic nouns in English, it’s simply not necessary.

            I don’t capitalize god or goddess either though. I prefer to denote respect via using their actual names and/or titles, and I don’t use “God” to refer to Yahweh unless I have to in order for others to know what I’m talking about.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             I don’t see ‘god’ as a job title. I see it as a ‘generic category’.

            I see the capitalisation difference important due to the Christian usurpation of the word for the little sand-genie they fawn over.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brandythomas.ravenmoondesigns Brandy Stafford Thomas

    Yikes! Those video promos look like horror movie promos. So…what exactly do horror-movie-style promos have to do with a book that’s apparently supposed to be about a journey from Christianity to Wicca back to Christianity?? I started from not really having any faith (I believed in a higher power, that was about it), to studying all sorts of beliefs and finding Wicca, and finally moving to Celtic Reconstructionism. I’m really curious what ghosts have to do with Wicca. During my time being a Wiccan, I must say, I never had any ghostly encounters. In fact, Wicca and witchcraft really have nothing to do with ghosts at all. Looks like typical Christian propaganda to sell make-believe stories about what Christians think they know about the Pagan beliefs…when they truly know nothing. Sorry S.A. Tower…for claiming to be Wiccan for 10 years, your videos at least, have failed to convey what Wicca and Paganism truly are. Judging from those videos, your book is meant for a Christian’s eyes only. You’re certainly not trying to bridge any communication gap between Christiainty and Paganism…it seems you’re just like every other Christian – you want to scare people into thinking Christianity is the only right choice by pushing Christian propaganda. We don’t need more people to misunderstand Paganism and hate Pagans…we need more people to realize that faiths other than Christiainty don’t need to be feared and hated…that we can all live together in harmony, regardless of belief. Epic fail.

    • Deborah Bender

       The prominence of ghosts in these accounts from Christians is probably due to the fact that witchcraft in the King James Bible is associated with calling up the spirits of the dead (e. g., the Witch of Endor). It’s what they expect of us, but it’s a practice that was popular among all sorts of European magic workers, not just witches. Summoning spirits to get information from them was a common magical practice in the early modern period, carried on by ceremonial magicians and cunning folk among others.

      Contemporary Wicca tends to look upon spirits of most sorts as potential collaborators rather than servants to be commanded; calling upon and interacting with the spirits of dead people is part of Craft practice, but it’s usually framed as a form of respect for ancestors rather than a seeking after power or information. This aspect of contemporary pagan witchcraft is usually played down in popular Wicca, along with any other elements that might make Wicca look dangerous or excursive to an outsider.

      • http://www.facebook.com/brandythomas.ravenmoondesigns Brandy Stafford Thomas

        Exactly…like ancestor worship. Mostly Pagans revere our ancestors who passed before, and the nature spirits of the land. But the whole sword-welding ghost in the video certainly doesn’t portray that…and certainly doesn’t put a good light on Paganism. It’s sad that people have to twist what Paganism truly is to what they want to sell.

    • Satower7

      Wicca has nothing to do with ghosts and I’m sorry the video’s appear as such to you. Again… I’m not attempting to bridge a communication gap and despite what it appears to you… to christians it really is seeing pagans in a more positive light.

      • http://www.facebook.com/brandythomas.ravenmoondesigns Brandy Stafford Thomas

        Exactly….Wicca has NOTHING to do with ghosts/hauntings. So why are there ghosts in those videos?? You keep saying you’re not trying to bridge a communication gap…then you say you are trying to clear up misunderstandings about Paganism. Umm, that IS trying to bridge a communication gap, if you do it correctly. You, however, have failed at it…at least promotional wise. How exactly is showing a ghost with swords stalking a Wiccan woman who is on the phone with her ex-Pastor showing Pagans in a positive light??
        I showed my teenage son the videos without telling him what the book was about and without saying what I thought of the videos. I just told him they are promos for a book, and to let me know what he thinks the book is about. Do you want to know what his impression was? He said he thought it is some kind of supernatural story about ghosts haunting a woman and the Pastor wants her to come back to the church because of the haunting. I then told him what the book is actually supposed to be about…and he stared at me with a “WTH” look…and said those videos do not show that at all. So, if you really are trying to show that Wicca/Paganism is not an evil belief system about ghosts and hauntings and you want people to take you seriously, I would suggest removing the propaganda-based videos and going for truth instead of shock value. But like I said…any way to make a buck, right?

      • Genexs

         Yeah, and that “more positive light” is to view Pagans/Wiccans as a collection of sad and confused people. They are not evil, really. But more just like sick or lost pets. Christians should feel sorry for them, not fear them.  In fact, good Christians should think of adopting one of them.  Then when you come home, they’ll jump up and and lick your face. You can feed them little crumbs of Christian wisdom from the bible. They will get stronger and strong, and one day Jesus/God will come by and pull their heads out of the arses.

        This may be your definition of “dialog”, but to me it seems like “evangelizing-lite’. 

        Btw, you say you spent  time in the world of Pagans, can you name any Pagans from that time period? You also have mentioned some bad books. Since you want to be so much help to us,  why not let us know the titles so we can avoid them?

  • http://www.xkcd.com/285 Eran Rathan

    What?!  NINJAS?!?!

    (cue Hong Kong flying wire super ninja fighting action!)

  • http://twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya Aerodiode

    I’d like to see more “Ex-Christian” storytelling, personally. There could be plenty of great books talking about how we left the horrors, guilt, fearmongering, and shame forced upon us by a vengeful and nasty god and his followers, and how we came to be embraced in the arms of the Goddess.  It’d be very inspiring for many of us. Publishers? Anyone want to pick up on this?

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I’d like to see it, too, but I can imagine the partisan Christian reaction. If you thought Harry Potter was controversial… And they would use terms like “hate speech,” completely occluding that aspect of their own ex-witch genre.

    • Satower7

      Try Llwellyn 

      • Genexs

         Wow, I never would have guessed.

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat Katie B

      With a few years’ separation, Christianity really does strike me as the Procrustean bed of religions. It WILL fit you exactly, even if we have to cut off your head and your feet, or stretch you, in order for it to fit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Kerry420 Kerry Sparrow-Lane

    There is definitely an agenda here..  I was a christian for many many years and then I had to open my eyes… I have been a pagan for 15 yrs and they have been the happiest of my life… TO each their own I say… but this book looks to be a “HIP” way to snag the teens back to Christianity that have started to open their eyes….  sheeple…. sheeple are the downfall of a peaceful society.

    • Obsidia

       After reading her blog and all, I also feel that Ms. Tower has an agenda.  Perhaps it might include making enough money to support herself and her children.  And for that, I must applaud her, even at my own expense.  She’s trying to play both sides but I’m afraid it just brings an element of confusion into the already murky mix.

  • MMcG

    Unfortunately, the rabid type of Christian has never been above using lies and deception in order to frighten people into joining whatever their particular cult (oops, “denomination”) happens to be. The entire genre of “ex-witch” books is based on fabricated tales of “Satanists” and sacrifices. Remember Mike Warnke?  It’s interesting to me that so many of these people are willing to break the commandment about bearing false witness in their obsessive drive to snag new converts.

    In my mind, any of the “do this or else!” or hellfire and brimstone types of Christian practice are nothing more than scary stories designed to attract cowards. They have nothing to offer but fear and threats, and it’s unfortunate that they still cannot move past their slander of non-Christian faiths. As the article pointed out, the Christian groups still have the most power and influence of any religious body in the United States (the recent glut of anti-gay and anti-woman laws prove that) so I don’t know why they must continue to paint themselves as “victims.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=4301544 Fae Edwards-Miller

    Ms. Tower, as you’re part of the conversation now, I’ll address you directly.  

    First, let me thank you for responding – I think anything that promotes dialog is good.  However, that is exactly why I find your book and the way you are promoting is repugnant.  Your book may not be AS BAD as the sensationalistic tripe that came before it – but it still plays into a narrative that is alive and well in certain part of the Christian community.  It still casts my faith as being Dark or outright Satanic.  Why else would you have titled it “Taken from the Night”!?

    That narrative is actively harmful to people like me.  If you were part of a Pagan community for over a decade surely you heard of or met people who have had ex-spouces use their faith as a reason to take their children away.  Surely you had to fret over if you would wear symbols of your faith or not – and if doing so might cost you a job, or the support of your family, or the trust of your neighbors.  Do you remember ever dancing around questions about ‘what are you going to do this weekend’ because a truthful answer would require another 15 minutes of explanation to reassure people you are not a bad person at best or a potential murderer at worse?

    If you were ‘one of us’ for a decade then you know how painful those assumptions can be – which is why I CANNOT forgive you for reinforcing them.  You had the potential to do a lot of good for both Christians and Pagans – you could have written a book that breaks out of the narrative of the ‘spooky’ and satanic and talked honestly about the attractions of both faiths to you at different times in your life, and why you ultimately chose Christianity.  It seems like your book has some of that in there – but it’s buried under a mountain of the same old nonsense.  

    Maybe that wasn’t your call – maybe your publisher insisted on the sensationalistic videos, or the appalling title.  But with your statements about ‘attack’ I find that implausible.  I have to assume that you are a willing participant in how your work has been slanted and publicized.  

    Quite simply, ma’am, I think you are a liar – and worse then that, you are a liar who knows her ‘false whiteness’ is hurting other people, but does it anyway for the money.  I am comforted by the knowledge that there are consequences for that kind of a sin within both of our respective religions.

    • Quadgemini

      Brilliant critique; thank you! And putting the shoe on the other foot is instructive, as well: when was the last time (or the first!) that a Christian had to worry that an ex-spouse might use her/his choice of religion to take away child custody? When did a Christian ever have to worry that wearing a symbol of their religion would get them shunned or passed over for a promotion or assaulted? THOSE are evidence of a religion possessing “an evil spirit.”

      • Guest

        tons of like for this comment. 

  • Obsidia

    Those videos were definitely made for scary effects….the darkness, full moon, owls, whispers, spooky garbled voice on the phone, etc.  BTW, in the first video, I didn’t understand….she was talking to a “Pastor” and asked, “Are you kicking me out?”  What was that all about?  Was she “church-going” AND a Witch, too?  Or was the Pastor her landlord? 

     

    • Obsidia

       ”Satan” is tempting me to put all those “spooky effects” to a recording of a Christian ceremony and see how they like it!  ;-)  (Just joking about Satan, of course! It’s my own twisted imagination. ;-D

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186404199 Crystal Hope Kendrick

         Didn’t you know?  Imaginations *are* the work of Satan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carla.hurd Carla Hurd

    this is sad and disgusts me. i have been a pagan for over 10 yrs, and have started my own coven of new “converts” to paganism. the first thing i teach them is to NOT BE JUDGEMENTAL OR RUDE TO PPL OF OTHER FAITHS even if they are rude and judgmental of you! it saddens and disgusts me that Christians cant even follow their own doctrine (aka the bible) and treat ppl of our faith the same. there is no such thing as an “ex-witch” only people who have succomed to the pressures of ignorance and society to go with the flow and follow like sheep the so-called “holy men” and “godly leaders” of Christianity that so often we hear about breaking their own rules and when caught claim Satan corrupted them. Satan is a powerful being indeed if he can take away the one right that God himself gave us-free will. if God cant mess with that right why would the devil be able to if he is just a fallen angel and not a deity himself?????

  • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

    Those videos show me that she is under intense mind control from the pastor on the other end of the phone. And they are promoting this as what “saved her from witchcraft”? This is religious BS meant to instill fear and doubt into people so they can lure them back into their cults. The only ‘demons’ I see in all this are the ones of religious oppression stemming from the condemnation in her ‘christian’ community.

  • http://twitter.com/whitestagforest Aine Llewellyn

    S.A. Towers: ” Be content with His story in your life, whatever that may entail.”

    You know, it seems way too common for people to forget that sometimes Jesus and that god /don’t/ want to be involved in someone’s life.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186404199 Crystal Hope Kendrick

       Yes, but that would also tear apart the very foundations of all they believe in.  Accepting that Jesus and their god don’t want us would A: turn the whole “only one true god” thing completely on its head and B. make them realize that their god might not really need missionaries at all, that he’s quite capable of calling his own to him.

  • Kilmrnock

    Seems these fools will never give up ………………….give them a succesful formula , be it false and proven so  ,and they will beat it to death  and then some .I do have to agree with you, jason , before any real meaning dialog can begin between our perspective groups the meme must be retired. Hasn’t this  type of crap writing been going on for over thirty years ?     Kilm

  • Paul Louis Metzger

    Hello Jason,

    I appreciated this thoughtful and intriguing post. There is a lot here for those of us from an Evangelical Christian perspective to consider. If we desire for others to understand what we believe and practice, we had better do the same toward others, such as those from Pagan perspectives.

    On a separate note, thank you for your comment on the books by John, Jason, and me: “Whatever the criticisms and flaws of those books, they at least treat Wicca and modern Pagan faiths as religions that must be engaged with like any other religion.”

  • Thelettuceman

    “Secondly, I think the re-emergence of Paganism feeds into an atavistic
    primal fear in the Christian mind. Pagans were the original and
    long-vanquished enemies of Christian dominance in the West, our defeat
    enmeshed in the very core of their understanding of the world.”

    Just a point:  It IS a Christian fear, the continued perpetration of “dead” beliefs, either heretical or heterodox.  This way of thinking is proven throughout history of the Latin Church, where 12th century Christian heresies were directly linked with heresies that had existed during the period of Rome, seven hundred years earlier.  Organized Christian groups (not individuals) exist in a perpetual state of near-deathly fear that their ghosts will come back and haunt them.  And they always will.

  • http://quakerpagan.org/ Cat C-B

     I’m concerned.  On the one hand, we are reading a lot into some cheesy videos and promotional
    materials.  I agree that the genre of ex-Witch has been used in the past
    to slander us…  but none of the direct quotes from her materials do. 

    On the other, this genre has an earned negative reputation.  Pagan-bashing is practically an Olympic sport among some Evangelical groups, and we all know this, and truth has little to do with how the game is played.

    I think the videos are dreadful (and, coincidentally, dull).  However, I don’t see anything wrong with someone who found our Path didn’t suit them writing about why not.  Carl McColman, in fact, has managed to do just that, and in a way that I think makes him look like a man of integrity.  (He is very clear that Paganism was not “evil,” just not right for him.)

    I can’t tell from what I can see whether Ms. Tower is more like Carl McColman or Bill Schnoebelen.  I would need to read the book in order to know, I think.

    I’m not motivated to buy the book to figure out if it actually is a
    tepid version of Schnoebelen, mostly because I suspect it is a
    badly-written book, though paying money for what
    might be a bad book as well–as in, morally
    objectionable and slanderous–really doesn’t inspire me to run out and buy a
    copy.

    I will, however, volunteer to read and review the book this summer, if Ms. Tower or her publisher would like to make clear that she’s not hyping anti-Pagan fears in the course of presenting her story.  Likely there are other Pagan writers, many more important than I am, who would be willing to do the same.

    Ms. Tower, you’ve been willing to come to this site to make your case.  If you seriously believe that our fears about your writing are misplaced, a few review copies should set the record straight.

    Ball’s in your court.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brandythomas.ravenmoondesigns Brandy Stafford Thomas

      Kinda my thoughts, too. I also don’t mind someone writing about their experiences. I’m interested to know exactly how she has painted Paganism in her book…because just going off of the promotional material alone, it does seem like she has an agenda…and not one promoting how great Paganism really is. However, I’m really uncomfortable buying a book and giving the author money (furthering her cause, so to speak) if all she’s doing is negatively representing Paganism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kalynn-Osburn/100000209378615 Kalynn Osburn

     You have to remember that the concept of paganism that plagues this particular branch of Christianity has little to do with pagans as we consider ourselves and more to do with the concept of “pagans” as non-Christian entities or rather anyone who doesn’t agree with their concept of Christianity. If Blood on the Cross Church of Christ calls people pagans, their not really talking about us, their talking about anyone who isn’t them.

  • No Bod E

    I think the author just outed herself as never having been a Pagan if she thinks that Pagans know nothing about xianity.

    • kenneth

      I think the whole story is a fabrication from the word go. I can find absolutely no record of this author relating in any way to Wicca or paganism prior to the release of this book. No blog posts, no profiles, no nuthin. Nothing at all that is not associated with interviews or plugs for this book, mostly on evangelical Christian websites. That leads me to believe that A)She’s writing under a pen name cooked up just for this book or B)She never was a Wiccan or pagan in any capacity at any time. My gut tells me perhaps both are true. Now, I realize not everyone in pagan circles takes a high profile or blabs about their religion all over the Web. But seriously, 10 years in the Craft and not a single digital footprint of that time anywhere?

       I’d have to read the book to get a better handle on this next point, but something else strikes me: What she has written, and what’s been published as promo material makes lots of oblique, generic allusions to unnamed books and resources that supposedly became her entry point to Wicca. If they aren’t just fictional plot elements, name some names. She claims to have been active in Wicca circa 1989 to 1999. 

      She claims to have been an initiated witch. Wicca was a much smaller world in those years, and anyone who was anyone was known of, if not known personally by everyone else, even if just through a few degrees of separation. I’ve spent a lot of time around the old-line craft people, and I can say with great confidence that no one who was active in an initiated tradition in those days for any length of time, especially a decade, would have passed through the scene un-noticed or un-remembered. It was an era of strong feelings and strong personalities, and even to this day, I have to be careful about which names I drop in which circles of older folk. Everyone in the scene was known, and loved or hated by plenty of folks. 

       If Ms. Tower is for real, which I am now deeply skeptical about, she ought to produce some known Wiccans from that era who can attest that she was active in some capacity. Who did you initiate with? What was your lineage?  Even without revealing anything oath-bound, can she describe any of the people and teaching methods and ritual forms that were in circulation in those days? Would she be able to carry on any sort of reasonably detailed and accurate conversation about the highlights of any of Wicca’s seminal works, the foundational stuff by the big names like the Farrars or Gardner or Buckland, or anyone?

        If this is indeed a true story, Tower ought to be able to produce some verification. Evidence talks. Bullshit walks, and I feel like I need to be wearing some Wellies in this pasture.  I’m willing to be proven wrong, but as it stands now, I think one of the fawning review on Amazon hit the nail on the head. “This book reads like a Frank Peretti novel.”  Peretti is a writer of Christian supernatural thrillers, stuff which caters to Christian fears and imaginations, and which is long on drama and scary supernatural confrontations. In other words, great fiction.

      Unless and until we get some proof that “Taken From the Night” is a true story, then we ought to chalk this one up to life experience and quit being played for Ms. Tower’s marketing buzz machine. 

      • Faoladh

        Not that I necessarily accept her story as accurate, but I know several pagan/polytheist people of long standing who do not have any presence on the internet at all, and who do not maintain a high profile as pagan in any other way.

        All that aside, though, I doubt that “publicity” on this blog will drive any significant sales of that book.

        • kenneth

          I agree, the lack of a “digital trail” itself is not proof of anything, but it raises my suspicion level a bit. Not only is there nothing about Wicca associated with this author’s name, there is nothing about anything that comes up under that full name prior to this book release.

           That’s pretty damn rare in this day and age. I’ve tracked down guys of my father’s generation online, and not because they’re online type of folks, but because people’s names, real names, tend to pop up someplace – newsletters for some hobby club they once belonged to, alumni groups, softball leagues, professional licensing, a friend’s facebook page. Something. Anything. Even people who studiously avoid publicity rarely come up a total blank online.  Like I say though, if she’s for real, someone should remember her and she should be able articulate something about those years that would ring true to someone who was actually there. Recall that she’s not claiming to have briefly dabbled as a solitary in scratchass Idaho. She’s claiming to have been an initiated witch for a decade. If that’s for real, there should be plenty of people who remember her and have something to say about her. If not….

          As to the publicity question, they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity.  Buzz is buzz, wherever you get it, and controversy is golden. Pagans are surely not her target audience, but kicking our hornets nest is bound to sell a few books, if for no other reason than some of us will be curious to see what the stink is all about.  I can guarantee that this dust-up here will lead some other Christian blog to pick up the ball, probably by spinning it as “persecution” of a brave ex-witch….

      • http://quakerpagan.org/ Cat C-B

        Wicca has not been that small a community the entire time I’ve been a Witch–since 1986.  And even those of us who do keep a pretty lively online presence (not all of us, by any means!) often do so under a pseudonym.

        By your measure, Kenneth, Apuleius Platonicus, were he to write a book under his legal name, would be suspect as a non-Pagan.

        That’s just silly.

        • kenneth

          The un-traceability of the author’s name is just one of the elements of all this that makes me suspicious. If Apuleius wrote a book under any other name, you can bet that if he stopped on a pagan forum to talk about/defend the book, he’d have something substantive to say about paganism. It would be pretty evident pretty quickly that he had walked the walk. I don’t get that feeling from or about Ms. Tower, or whoever this person is. 

          For someone who claims to have had some very extensive involvement in an initiated tradition, she seems to have remarkably little to say about it.  She was asked point blank on this thread what book was her entry to witchcraft. Not a difficult or interpretive question at all. It’s a question any pagan I’ve ever met could answer in three seconds. It’s a question any serious non-fiction/biographical author would want to engage because it would be a key to understanding the subject’s spiritual journey. When the question was put to Tower here, all we got was hemming and hawing and dancing around the question. “Well, you know, it was one of those discredited books about paganism.” Um…OK. 

           In her brief discussions in here, in the promotional material, and in a couple of you tube segments I listened to of her interview with Christian media, her accounts of Wicca are very generic, very flat and very two-dimensional. They feel like a setting or thinly developed character which is there to have something to hang the story on. They don’t feel like the real-life experiences of someone who lived a deep personal journey through them. 

          You’re right to suggest that I don’t have enough information to be able to say conclusively whether her story is true. But the handful of pieces we do have, when fit together, don’t look like the beginnings of a true story. As we used to say in the newsroom, it doesn’t pass the smell test.  I’m certainly willing to be shown wrong. 

  • http://www.paganawareness.net.au Gavin Andrew

    Generally speaking, the ‘ex-witch’ genre promotes the notion that the supernatural is inherently dangerous and ‘other’. This notion of ‘otherness’ feeds into the Christian narrative of Spiritual Warfare to some extent.

    For many if not most Pagans I know, the very term ‘supernatural’, with its implied otherness, is fundamentally misleading. A more useful term that I have seen used by Michael York and others is ‘co-natural’.

    Most ex-witch testimonies unravel when the assumptions underpinning them are deconstructed. I have noticed the shift in the past four years or so from ‘witches are evil’ to ‘witches are sincere, but misguided’  on the part of the Catholic Church and others – this book appears to be part of that shift. But it is still the same narrative about the otherness of the supernatural, and the same appeal to a strict parent-figure or Authority.

    • Obsidia

       I like Marion Weinstein’s term “Super Duper Natural!” ;-)

    • Guest

       If the Catholic Church’s image was better again, I doubt they’d be trying to use a softer pitch.

      • http://www.paganawareness.net.au Gavin Andrew

        I think the phrase that best describes the Catholic Church’s moral and social image right now would be “trading while insolvent.”

  • kittylu

    I can’t tell you how many times these pagan blogs (on patheos!) have waah waah waah entries with Crises of pagan faith/ I think I might still be Christian/ I was wrongly “converted” blah blah blah… Its like half the pagan blogs out there are run by Christians just trying to whine about how unfulfilling paganism is and to please come back to “the fold” of christiandom.

    • kenneth

      You know, I’d welcome any well-written personal story that honestly portrays anyone’s personal journey from one faith to another. I have no idea with the proposition that paganism isn’t for everyone. I make a point of telling that to people just exploring the path or trying to join our group. The problem I have with the “ex-witch” genre is that it’s pure bunk. It’s written by Christians who show no evidence of ever having been practicing pagans. In most cases, they’re not even well-researched fabrications. The authors always make claims about deep and long involvement with Wicca or some similar path, yet they get details wrong about things that any green dedicant would know. It never rings true with any real pagans, and the conversion story is always filled with scary supernatural drama. Much of the earlier work was over the top satanic panic type stuff meant to slander us. This newer work, I don’t think that’s the overt intent. I suspect its just some fanciful storytelling based on a proven formula for harvesting some bucks in the Christian publishing world. Billing it as a “true story” just separates it from the pack of overt fiction novels and increases the marketing opportunities for speaking engagements. 

  • HG

    This makes me want to write a book called “Saved From Jesus”.

  • Mark Townsend

    I don’t wish to comment on the book just yet because I’ve not read it (though I will at some point). My reason is that last week a whole pile of people here commented on my book Jesus Through Pagan Eyes without having first read it and made huge assumptions which were, in fact, utterly wrong. I always feel it’s fairer to at least attempt to read something before criticising.

    However I wil say this much on the whole notion of ‘being saved from darkness by Jesus.’ I am still a (progressive) Christian BUT my wonderful experience of Paganism (specifically OBOD Druidry) actually saved me from the darkness of my own Christian tradition. I’ve been a member of OBOD for five years now, and have also experienced many other forms of Paganism, and have found them to be liberating and beautiful. I was crushed by my own Church a little over five years ago. I was treated without love / compassion / grace etc. and lost almost everything. It was my Druid friends who held me and stopped me from skinign into a pit of despair. Now since then I’ve also met many Christians (mainly progressive and liberal catholic ones) who’ve also been grace and light to me. BUT I remain someone who stands within both worlds and loves them both equally. My deep prayer for the Church (because I see parts of  it as such a toxic world) is that it learns to open up to Paganism and discover the beauty and life affirming richness of it.

    I do not wish either to be ‘converted’ to the other, but I do hoep that more bridges of understanding are built and mutual respect is gradually achieved.

    BB, Mark /+   

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

       The Church (TM Pat. Pend.) opened up to Paganism centuries ago. If only to join in all the fun parties…

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      Ars longa, vita brevis. Obviously one must decide which books are worth reading prior to actually reading them. It’s called “discernment”.

    • Genexs

       Yes, please do check back with us when you find the time.  The concensus here seems to be that the book is (possibly) a complete fabrication.

      • http://quakerpagan.org/ Cat C-B

        Gotta love an uninformed consensus.

        It’s one thing to decide against reading a book for one’s own sake, another to proclaim a clear understanding of a book based on promotional materials alone. 

        Some of us must be receiving our wisdom directly from the Gods.  (‘Cause, you know, it couldn’t be that we prejudge based on our cognitive biases…)

        • Genexs

           I would classify the skepticism expressed toward this publication to be “healthy”, not “uninformed”.  As you are well aware of the poor track record of such publications, it’s odd you’d think the consensus here to be based on some form of deviation.  For you, what the author has published on the web is too little evidence to make a fair judgment. For most others, the book seems to be having trouble in the ‘smell test’ department. I’m confident we will soon know.

        • kenneth

          I’m not rendering any judgment about Tower’s portrayal of paganism precisely because I haven’t read the book. I don’t have a problem with the idea that a person could have a negative or unfulfilling experience with Wicca or pagan religions and find their way back to Christianity.  I do have a problem laying out money, even in modest sums, for something that feels like a disingenuous lurid tale.  If someone wants to write fictional accounts of Wicca to thrill and inspire other Christians, I have no problem with that either, but don’t repackage it and try to sell it to me as a true story of a real person’s journey. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. Look, if I can somehow be convinced that Tower really took the witchcraft part of the journey she says she did, I’d lay out the money and read the book cover to cover and do my best to fairly review and engage it. 

  • Ronandkat5

    Too bad we, all of us, can’t write a book, to teach them what we’re really all about ! Something aimed at them ..

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

       Why can’t we?

      • kenneth

        Because it would be lost labor. 

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

           Well, yes, there is that little stumbling block.

          Could still be a good book for other curious about how people got from one spiritual path to another.

  • Shakti_Luna

    *facepalm* I wish I could write a book depicting the years of emotional and physical abuse I suffered at the hands a fundamentalist father/his side of the family and their church.  I was beaten because I was  ”a descendant of Eve and needed punished.”  Obviously this is not the norm for Christianity, but I hate that people like this have either 1) fabricated information for the purpose of feeding the “Satanic panic” or 2) to sell books.  Either way, it is in bad taste and completely disgusting.

    • Guest

      Shakti, I was abused by my fundamentalist father, too.  I think it’s a lot more common that Christianity as a whole wants to believe.  Where I went to church, families had “spank sticks” with Bible verses or the words “because we love you” written on them hanging on their walls. These people thought they were doing God’s work — so what they did was okay, but they were adamant that child abuse by others was wrong.

      We didn’t have anything nearly so fancy at my house.  My father’s preferred method of “correction” was a belt.  Woe to me if he was in such a fit of temper that he dropped the belt and then picked it up by the wrong end.  A belt leaves cuts but the buckle end leaves a cut AND a bruise like nothing else.

      I guess what I’m saying is that what a lot of fundamentalists call “discipline,” the rest of society would call “abuse.”   

  • Druidwood

    Fear will always be Christians biggest advanatage over other religions. It seems to be thier ace in the hole so to speak. As long as they can scare people into believing in thier God then they will continue to use it.  And why not? It’s worked for the past 2,000 years. You would thinkt hat they would learn a new trick or two.  Because people are so afraid of what they  DON’T understand. It’s hard enough for us Pagans to get out & tell people what we’re about when they have the money & the power to get thier message across so much easier.