Column: Aradia Inspires a New Generation of Resistance

Tim Titus —  March 4, 2017 — 23 Comments

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Within 24 hours of President Trump’s inauguration, resistance movements exploded onto the national, and even international, landscape. The Women’s March on Washington was so large that attendees could not march because they filled the entire marching route. The same was true in Los Angeles, and sister marches attracted hundreds of thousands of people all across the country and around the world.

Within the first week, the new president started a war with the National Park Service, suspending their social media privileges. The NPS fought back by creating “rogue” Twitter accounts assigned to unknown federal employees and quickly gained thousands of followers. This pattern was followed by a number of other federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and U.S. Customs. According to NPR, there are now over 80 of these accounts actively tweeting facts about science, climate change, and other topics that administration would prefer to silence.

Other examples of resistance abound. A science march is scheduled for April 22. Airport resistance placed a snag in the administration’s travel ban. There is even a ballot initiative in California with the intention of seceding from the United States. Last weekend, witches across the globe participated in a collective hex on the president.

The resistance is not limited to the courts, the streets, and social media. Witches and other magickal practitioners are plying their craft and organizing movements for magickal resistance. One of these efforts is the We Are Aradia movement. Born from the idea of Storm Faerywolf and the work of Laura Tempest Zakroff, We Are Aradia works with the energy of a vital piece of Witchcraft lore toward the goal of resisting the oppressor.

Aradia, Gospel of the Witches by Charles Godfrey Leland is a foundational piece of Witchcraft lore. It is one of the inspirations for the practice of Wicca and Witchcraft. Aradia, daughter of Diana, is sent to teach methods of magickal resistance to those who suffer at the hands of oppression by the church. “Thou shalt make them die in their palaces,” Aradia is told. “And thou shalt bind the oppressor’s soul…For I have come to sweep away the bad, The men of evil, and I will destroy!” (pp. 4-5). With this inspiration, the founders of We Are Aradia hope to organize Witches and others into a magickal resistance against what they perceive as the oppressive policies of the Trump administration.

Author and Faery teacher Storm Faerywolf began the idea with a tweet. Concerned with “our government lurching abruptly to the (alt) right,” Faerywolf felt that many people are “legitimately scared and a wondering if [they] will continue to be safe in our country.” After reading a post stating that someone was “feeling like we need a real life Aradia right now,” Faerywolf responded, “I guess we need to be Aradia for each other right now,” and initiated the hashtag #WeAreAradia. “As we in the United States are finding ourselves on the very precipice of totalitarianism,” says Faerywolf, “now more than ever is the time for all of us to stand up and fight tooth and nail for the rights of the people.” Aradia, and her mythology of active resistance, became the model for a modern resistance.

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Image Credit: Laura Tempest Zakroff

Laura Temepest Zakroff, an artist and Patheos blogger, picked it up from there. “I saw Storm’s Twitter post,” she explains, “and it struck me like lightning that yes, this is another step toward claiming our power.” Zakroff continues, saying that, “It’s very easy to get bogged down by all the news and negativity, to succumb to inertia,” but Faerywolf’s post inspired her to write a post on her Patheos blog, and begin organizing a movement. “When a flame is lit, suddenly everything moves faster,” says Zakroff, “and can continue to grow if we keep breathing into it.” As part of lighting that flame, Zakroff wrote a new poem to inspire the movement: The Charge of the New Aradia.

According to Faerywolf, the goal is simple: “To raise awareness that there is no outside force that is coming to ‘save’ us, so we will need to do it for ourselves,” so “we are Aradia.” Zakroff is looking to create specific goals for the movement. “I do think the next step is coming up with a specific game plan or, dare I say it, a manifesto,” she says. On a practical level, she says, “it’s important for Witches and other practitioners to stand their ground, and help others.” She advises them to “draw upon both physical and metaphysical means to protect, guide, teach, and inspire.”

Image credit: Laura Tempest Zakroff

Image credit: Laura Tempest Zakroff

“We need all of our magic to make this happen,” agrees Faerywolf. “We will need healers, diviners, ritualists, oracles, artists, poets, counselors, teachers, priest/esses, and, yes, warriors.” He tells those who wish to get involved to “Write spells, and poems, and share your thoughts where others can hear them,” and also to “write letters and enchant them to influence those who read them.” Yet, he also cautions people to be safe, to “know your rights,” and to “get informed and help others get informed.”

As an artist, Zakroff has brought her skills to the movement. “I got it in my head to create a graphic that represents a diverse collection of people forming/creating #WeAreAradia across colors, genders, paths, and other identities,” says Zakroff. She has created a website, a Facebook page, and a sigil for use in workings. She has begun a “Curse of the Week” campaign. The first curse read: “May false knights in white shining armor get cooked in fires of their own devising.”

Image credit: Laura Tempest Zakroff

Image credit: Laura Tempest Zakroff

Such a campaign brings up a delicate topic. In Leland’s myth, Aradia is very clearly sent to teach the oppressed to work harmful magic on their oppressors. As a foundational piece of Witchcraft lore, Aradia makes it clear that the myths which inspired the modern Craft encouraged the downtrodden to harm their oppressors magically. Cursing and hexing can be controversial in Wicca, and Witchcraft in general, because of what many perceive as a rule of “harm none.” So, where an important foundational myth outright encourages cursing, many modern practitioners believe the practice to be taboo.

Faerywolf believes cursing to be “a vital part of the witch’s repertoire.” He believes that citing such things as the Threefold Law and Wiccan Rede as prohibitions against cursing is “quite frankly a fundamentalist fallacy born of a particularly effective, and ultimately insidious, public relations campaign.” Admitting that not every Witch will choose to engage in the practice, “to issue a blanket statement about the validity of those who do only serves to weaken the whole” and is a “Wiccan-derived dogma” that is “rooted in the privilege of those who have likely never been on the receiving end of any form of actual persecution.” While it should be “reserved for extreme cases,” Faerywolf believes it is acceptable “in those instances where the cause is just”

According to Zakroff, “whether something is ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ or ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ is mainly a matter of perspective.” While she does not believe in harming others for no reason, she does believe in “helping to push to create balance.” She advises practitioners to “illuminate a situation so it can better be seen, to bring justice and to let the energy decide the best form to take to accomplish the task.”

These two practitioners, as well as those whom they have inspired, believe that now is the time when those in a politically vulnerable position must turn to the lessons given to the first Witches by the deity who brought them their power. “I will sleep soundly,” concludes Faerywolf, “knowing that I will have been true to my values and have done everything in my power to resist the rising tide of fascism that looms over us all.”

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The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.

Tim Titus

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Tim Titus is a social science teacher from Orange County, California. He is a High Priest in the Temple of Witchcraft, where he serves as a Deputy Virgo Minister. His PaganSquare blog, Intersections, focuses on the crossroads that join pop culture, science, the arts, and the Craft. His work has appeared in the anthologies Ancestors of the Craft and Finding the Masculine in the Goddess’ Spiral.
  • Damiana

    Why is there so much focus on not cursing or hexing in this article? This article went from being interesting, informative and potent to losing focus by straying off topic. How big is this movement? Are Faerywolf and Tempest the only two organizers? Do they plan on making an outreach and education effort? Who are those they’ve inspired, as the article mentions, and how have they been inspired? Will TWH follow this nascent movement and report on it regularly?

  • Hecate_Demetersdatter

    Gorgeous art! I hope you’ll keep us informed about this work.

  • Tauri1

    “According to Faerywolf, the goal is simple: “To raise awareness that there is no outside force that is coming to ‘save’ us, so we will need to do it for ourselves,” Buddha said the same thing over 2,600 years ago.

  • Lauren Demascola

    This is great!! Thank you! ! #WeAreAradia

  • ChristopherBlackwell

    Now we will see if Witches, Wiccans, other magic workers, and other Pagans have the will, the training, the energy, the
    discipline, and the determination to carry through to get results.

  • Spirahl Hekate

    “rooted in the privilege of those who have likely never been on the receiving end of any form of actual persecution.” Agreed.

  • So ” lurching abruptly to the right” is bad but ” lurching abruptly to the left” (as happened eight years ago) is good?

    Interesting.

    Personally I think making government much smaller and letting people make their own choices is the better choice.

    • Tauri1

      The reason why government has gotten so big is because when you let people “make their own choices” it usually involves hurting someone else, and not always inadvertently. That’s why we have laws against discrimination, child labor laws, environmental laws, etc., laws requiring children having an education, laws requiring seatbelts in cars, car insurance (and what’s the difference between a state requiring you to have car insurance and the Federal government requiring you to have health insurance? Not much difference really since it’s still a government that’s making you do that.)
      Unfortunately, monitoring the compliance to those laws requires a bureaucracy.

      • Are people better if they are more free or more controlled?

        Do the costs of having a a bureaucracy monitoring compliance outweigh the benefits?

        Most importantly, would people make the right choices without having a gun held to their head?

        I can’t answer these questions for you. But you should think about them.

        What happens when the government you don’t like is elected? How is that worse than when the government that someone else doesn’t like is elected?

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Tari1’s points are all very practical. Yours are all very philosophical. You’re talking past each other.

          • It depends on your assumptions.

            Do people need to be governed?

            Or do people need to be free?

            Perhaps the founding principle of Western civilization is parity. One expression is the Ethic of Reciprocity, Christians know it as the Golden Rule. Don’t do it if you don’t want it done to you.

            All this talk about how a right wing government is inherently dangerous while almost everyone here assumes that a left wing government is inherently beneficial.

            Most Americans fall into the same trap. You think that government is good so long as your guys are in charge doing the things you think are important. The idea that government itself is extremely hazardous never occurs to most.

            Don’t impose your morality on others by force unless you want them to impose their morality on you. After generations of the People of the Book imposing their views on us, why can’t we see the danger of imposing our views on them?

            Stars above and Earth below, that’s about as practical as it is going to get.

            Do you want to be governed? Or do you want to be free?

            Choose. And make it a damn good one.

          • kenofken

            Given that the alternative to any governance is always anarchy and warlord ecosystems in which the average life expectancy drops to about 30, I’m going to go with “governed”, in the context of freedom.

            We cannot, in this country credibly characterize “government” as some inherently alien and external force imposing itself upon “free” people. We have a democracy with some brilliantly designed safety mechanisms and in recent times at least, universal suffrage. If there is oppression, from the Right, the Left, the Center or some political philosophy which defies any of those, it is because a free people freely chose it. Period. Every single citizen in this nation who had their mental faculties and was 18 years of age or older during this last election and any of the last held in the past half century is equally responsible for what we see today. Every one of us. In our highest profile elections, barely half of eligible voters even bother to cast a ballot. In the “lesser” elections which ultimately shape 90% or more of our policy, participation is almost negligible.

            Among those who do vote, it is usually done reflexively along tribal partisan identities with little or no independent critical though or self education on issues. Probably not 2 in 10 voters could pass the same civics exam administered to new immigrant citizens. We have millions of people who think the judicial branch is illegitimate and that “Constitutional” government means they should take up guns anytime an issue doesn’t go their way in a court or legislature.

            If our 300 million or so people can’t create functional freedom using some of the best custom-made tools and systems available, they are not people I really trust to be able to govern themselves wisely in the format of 300 million individual armed personal sovereign states crowded next to each other.

          • I’m sorry but I can’t agree with your given.

            There are many things that we do every day that don’t require government intervention or a government infrastructure. Everything from meeting up with a friend for a cold one to reading to a child to swapping altar pieces. All we really need is to trust the other person and have the other trust us. None of this is anarchy. Most of it isn’t enshrined in law or published in regulation.

            People can vote and not know what they get. The default state of government is much more government.

            Why?

            Can’t people be trusted?

            Can’t I be trusted?

            Can’t you be trusted?

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Your comments are still very philosophical, but at least this one contains some examples.Contra your suppositions, the United States has never had an oppressive left-wing government. Russia had one. Cuba had one. China still has one. Left-wing governance in the USA has always been on the model of social democracy. We have had right-wing oppression in this country such as HUAC, McCarthyism, the Hollywood blacklist, and the life experience of most Blacks. Our asymmetry of response on TWH arises from the asymmetry of our experience.Even in a democracy there are rules, some people must be coerced into following them, and some rules are stunningly stupid. But the last two points can be addressed by democratic means. It is not a simplistic choice between being governed and being free.

          • You’re kidding, right?

            Never had an oppressive left-wing government? FDR. Whole books have been written about that one.

            Life experiences of blacks? It wasn’t a Republican who called for segregation forever. Most members of the KKK voted Democrat.

            Blacklists. There are climate scientists facing that one even today, all officially sanctioned. And we won’t talk about how Obama’s IRS went after non-profit conservative groups, or how the Department of Education decided that Title IX meant that colleges and universities were obligated to investigate all rape allegations despite having neither the training or facilities needed.

            So tell me, why should we coerce people into Daylight Savings Time, the latest food pyramid, CFL bulbs that almost need a hazmat team for disposal, or gas cans that literally can’t be used to put gasoline into a tank?

            All this happens because we are conditioned to accept that government is the keystone of society rather than liberty. We assume that people can’t be trusted to mostly make the right choice.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            FDR introduced a lot of new government action both needed for a long time and in response to a crisis. There’s been a conservative alternative-fact cottage industry ever since framing him as a dictator. Doesn’t make it true.I didn’t say “Republican” or “Democrat;” I said right-wing and left-wing. At one time there were right-wing Democrats, in the South, an arrangement that fell apart in the Sixties.If climate-change deniers can’t get published in peer-reviewed journals it’s because they’re peddling snake oil.Obama’s IRS was beginning to look at the role of 501(c)(4)s at a time when a lot of Tea Party 501(c)(4)s were getting registered. I regard that as a reasonable and timely look into a much-abused section of the tax code. You may regard it as “Coincidence? I don’t think so!” Your call.I agree with your call on due process in campus rapes. That is a stupid rule, not an overall oppressive left-wing regime.I take your paragraph beginning with Daylight Savings as a laundry list of things that offend you. That does not make you oppressed. If you lived in China, or Zimbabwe, you’d be oppressed. You are being inconvenienced and annoyed. Man up!

          • The actions that FDR took prolonged the crisis and made it worse. He broke the law repeatedly. He tried to stack the Supreme Court. And he was responsible for internment camps.

            No, I said Republicans and Democrats. Like it or not, segregation and the KKK are part of progressive history. I point this out because even today progressives define diversity only in terms of skin color and sometimes sexuality. Even here, even now you’re going after what I say based on if it adheres to doctrine and not on the merits of the argument.

            For example, if I point out that the climate models have failed to predict either weather or climate in the last 15+ years, I will be called a climate denier. All I’ve done is said that the models don’t work and implied that they should be redone. I haven’t denied climate change. I haven’t even denied man-made climate change. I said that the models don’t work, which is true. If the models were accurate then they could be used to predict.

            Obama’s IRS routinely approved progressive non-profits while denying conservative non-profits. Internal IRS and Justice Department memos admit to that and lay out further plans. Of course, much of the press at the time ignored that. It was reaction to the Citizens United decision. There were also some very strange donor disclosure regs snuck in there.

            Ask any of the men falsely accused of rape and expelled if it was oppressive.

            Arizona doesn’t do Daylight Savings Time except on the Navajo Reservation. You still haven’t said why we should compel people on such silly things. Small tyrannies become big tyrannies overnight.

            Again, I remind you this is the same thing I have been saying for the last few times we’ve exchanged notes here. Progressives abuse government power just as much as conservatives do. The issue is not which “side” is right, but why government spends so much time and effort keeping people from making their own choices.

            One last thing. You should know by now in our discussions here that if I say something I can back it up. I don’t like writing these long replies, it wastes time. This is the last time I will be answering you in detail. It distracts attention from my point.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Whether FDR prolonged or worsened the Depression is a matter of analysis, but he took enough of the edge off the country’s angst to keep it from ditching democracy as so much of Europe was doing.The Japanese-American internments were inexcusable, an indelible blot on the escutcheon of the man and the country. But to make that the whole of FDR’s presidency is as distorted as remembering Nixon only in terms of Watergate and forgetting the man who got us back to rational diplomacy with China.Segregation and the KKK part of progressive history? Piffle. Emancipation and reconstruction were part of progressive history; segregation and the KKK were the antithesis.I’ve seen accounts of academic discussion of the mismatch between simplistic CO2-fraction models and real climate; this debate is not being suppressed.you’re going after what I say based on if it adheres to doctrine and not on the merits of the argument…The issue is not which “side” is right Sounds like the words of someone who is aware of losing the argument.You should know by now in our discussions here that if I say something I can back it up. No, I’m aware that you can produce some assertions consistent with what you say. Not the same thing.

          • You’re wrapped up in the game.

            The government game banks on politics. Politics means controlling other people. Politics depends on strife, usually manufactured. Politicos lie, politicos steal, and politicos cheat no matter what their label or affiliation. Politics depends on you overlooking the crimes of your politicos while attacking the other politicos. “Your guy” gets praised while the opposition gets smeared no matter what either has done, Your conditioned reaction to any criticism of “your guy” is to demand details so you can pick over the minutia without accepting that “your guy” is not the saint you’ve been told he is.

            You’re playing a sucker’s game. It’s three card Monte raised to terrifying levels.

            Just for a moment, don’t worry about the details. Take a step back. Assume for the moment that all politicos are crooked, especially after they spend any length of time at the national level.

            Why do we keep hitting the same problems time after time? War in the Middle East? Schools failing? Bank and big corporations built on the backs of the poor and middle class? Infrastructure failing? Maybe, just maybe, government is perpetuating these problems.. Maybe, just maybe, politicos want problems they can stage manage. Never quite solved, always an urgent crisis.

            Always distracting you from what you are giving up.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            And maybe, just maybe, corporate interests are perpetuating these problems and only government keeps them from getting worse. You are playing the game just as intensely from your position.”Demanding details” is called seeking evidence. “Picking over the minutiae” is called critical analysis. Part of the process of testing claims rationally, a “game” you don’t seem that engaged in.

          • Would those be the same corporate interests who have spent far more on Democrats during the last six or seven election cycles? The same corporate interests who regularly conspire with regulatory agencies to lock out competition and innovation from any except established companies?

            Without providing a better, cheaper, more available product, the only way “corporate interests” can get ahead is with government help. Lots of it. Which means that mostly government helps the corporations over the “little guy.”

            And Democrats sanction it just as much as Republicans do. Only Democrat politicos deny that they do so and the press lets them get away with it.

            You want to seek evidence, be my guest. Just don’t expect me to go ahead with a highlighter in front of you. And look in places that don’t reinforce your beliefs. That’s what critical analysis really is.

            There’s no reason for me to show you if you’re going to use your existing sources to dismiss what they say because they have the wrong connections and do not speak the “approved doctrine.”

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            You’re starting to repeat yourself, a sign that this conversation — already of little interest to anyone but you and me — is starting to lose that.Once again you are taking it as a dogmatic axiom that government is always bad, and you assume that I feel the same about corporate interests. Not so. I subscribe to the liberal consensus that guided the second half of the 20th Century, that the marketplace succeeds best in generating new wealth, and that the task of the democratic state is to temper the worst effects of the market that, left to its own means, it would not curb.Don’t expect you to assist my quest for evidence? Why not? You’re my best source in the exchanges. (And if you think that says something about the way I operate, you’re right.)

  • Cyndi Williams

    Great article…Blessings ☮️❤🌟