Archives For Kenya

It’s election day here in the United States, and most Americans are glued to their news sources of choice to see who will guide this nation for the next four years. In addition, control of our Senate, and the outcome of several local ballot initiatives will decided this day, making for an exciting evening for those invested in our democratic republic. Many American Pagans, like every other group in this country, also find themselves deeply invested in our political process if my Facebook wall is any indicator, and so they should, as the very notions of democracy, of a republic, originated in pagan thought, in pre-Christian societies.  Thomas Jefferson, a key architect of America’s religious freedoms, was proud that our country, in principle, encompassed “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.” 

So on this election day, as we wait for the results to roll in, let’s focus on some electoral/election stories of interest to, or involving, modern Pagans.

Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, shortly after voting this morning in Wisconsin.

Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, shortly after voting this morning in Wisconsin.

  • The ever-politically active Starhawk shares some final thoughts on the election, making her endorsements, but also stressing the importance of voting in general. Quote: “Still need inspiration?  Consider the sixty years women struggled to get the right to vote.  Think of those suffragists on hunger strike, force-fed through tubes, lying in rat-infested prisons—they want you to vote!  Think of the civil rights workers in the South, risking their lives to register voters, think of the three who were murdered in 1964, Shwerner, Chaney and Goodman.  They want you to vote!”
  • A Witch-Doctor from the Kenyan village where Barack Obama’s father is buried says his reading predicts our current president will win in a landslide. Quote: “Mr Dimo, who claims to be 105, says that the mystical items dispute news that the election will be a close call.  Pointing to a white shell, he declared: ‘Obama is very far ahead and is definitely going to win.'” I’m sure Nate Silver won’t argue too much with that prediction.
  • AlterNet digs up some rather embarrassing assertions from Republican Massachusetts State Senate candidate  Sandi Martinez, including how popular children’s shows of the 1980s will turn you towards Witchcraft. Quote: “On her cable access show in 2004, Martinez warned that trick-or-treating, Harry Potter books, and the “new age images” presented in 1980s-era programming such as “The Smurfs” and “The Care Bears” could destigmatize the occult and leave children vulnerable to the lure of witchcraft.” Awesome. Well, good thing there aren’t any Witches in Massachusetts … oh, wait.
  • An activist is trying to engage the Buddhist-derived mindfulness movement in politics, and voting. Quote: “If meditation can calm hyperactive kids, ease the pain of drug addicts and tame the egos of Fortune 500 CEOs, it can surely help a stressed-out and polarized country choose a president, says the Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams. An artist and veteran activist from Berkeley, Williams is the force behind MindfulVOTES, a nonpartisan campaign that she believes is the first attempt to mobilize mindfulness meditators.” Here’s the MindfulVOTES website.
  • It looks very likely that Tulsi Gabbard, the Democrat running for Congress in Hawaii’s 2nd district, will win her race and become the first Hindu to serve in the United States Congress. Quote: “It is clear that there needs to be a closer working relationship between the United States and India. How can we have a close relationship if decision-makers in Washington know very little, if anything, about the religious beliefs, values, and practices of India’s 800 million Hindus?” How exciting!
  • Meanwhile, you do know there’s a Heathen running for Congress this election, right? New York’s Dan Halloran, a conservative, Republican, Tea Party politician, is facing off against Grace Meng in the newly drawn 6th Congressional District. There hasn’t been too much non-partisan polling for this race, so each are holding up their internal polls to claim the race is will be won by their campaign. Odds are long for Halloran in this Democratic-leaning district, but who knows for sure? You can read my pretty extensive coverage of Dan Halloran here.
  • Let’s not forget the same sex marriage-related initiatives being voted on today, and the role “nones” might play in how those races turn out. However, Saumya Arya Haas, a Hindu and Vodou priestess, reminds us that nobodies vote on gay marriage should matter. Quote: “American is not a religion; it is a nation. We claim to hold certain truths to be self-evident. That means some truths should be a given — not debated, not voted on. Given. By virtue of being a citizen of this country, each American should have access to the same rights. Instead, we have created, in America, in the year 2012, a priestly caste of people who believe that their interpretation of certain Scriptures should be used to decide others’ fate.”
  • Americans United is fed up with the IRS not enforcing the ban on partisan endorsements from the pulpit, exclaiming “enforce the law already!” Quote: “This is a critically important issue for our democracy. We already have serious problems with vast amounts of money being dropped into campaigns. Imagine how much more devastating it would be if every house of worship jumped into elections, too.”
  • Finally, Jason Mankey over at Patheos reminds everyone that voting is “ours.” Quote: “Voting is one of the great legacies of ancient paganism. All democracies have a bit of classical paganism in their DNA, even when they don’t want to admit it. Want to make your Evangelical uncle’s head explode today? Remind him that democracy began in a town dedicated to the Goddess Athena! Democracy and the vote are our legacy as Pagans!”

No matter who you vote for, don’t forget to vote, and honor the struggles, and origins, of our political system. We’ll check in post-Election Day to what the results might mean for modern Pagans.

Oh, and yes, I already voted. Oregon has a mail-in system that’s quite convenient.

For Democrats worried that all those positive polls are wrong, Kenyan witch doctor John Radima is here to reassure you.


John Radima points towards the pro-Obama casting.

“A witch doctor in Kogelo, western Kenya, where Obama’s father grew up, on Saturday also predicted victory for the Democrat. John Radima, who lives not far from the home of Obama’s grandmother in Kogelo, threw stones, bones and shells on the ground and “read” them. The message was that Obama will be the winner in the November 4 election.”

The spirits may have spoken, but don’t let that stop you from making your own voice heard this Tuesday. Also, when watching the results roll in tomorrow, take the advice of Democratic and Republican pundits, and ignore the exit polls (and don’t forget to participate in The Witches’ Voice Presidential Poll).

Amid the media frenzy over all things Sarah Palin, with a seemingly new scandal or story popping up every other day, it is little wonder that not a lot of background journalism has taken place. While assorted reporters and pundits were happy to play the video of Palin being blessed by African Pentecostal leader Thomas Muthee, few have been able to dig into his claims of driving out “witches” from the town of Kiambu in Kenya.

“According to the Christian Science Monitor, six months of fervent prayer and research identified the source of the witchcraft as a local woman called Mama Jane, who ran a “divination” centre called the Emmanuel Clinic … after Pastor Muthee declared Mama Jane a witch, the townspeople became suspicious and began to turn on her, demanding that she be stoned. Public outrage eventually led the police to raid her home, where they fired gunshots, killing a pet python which they believed to be a demon. After Mama Jane was questioned by police – and released – she decided it was time to leave town, the account says.”

Since then, many have wondered, what happened to Mama Jane? Was she really driven out? Was she killed by a mob, as so many other accused “witches” have been in Kenya? Luckily Zoe Alsop, who happened to be working as a journalist in Kenya, found Mama Jane alive and well and living in Kiambu.

“…some residents of Kiambu were somewhat skeptical of Muthee’s claims. Not least among them is the herbalist Jane W. Njenga, a pastor with the African Mission of Holy Ghost Church, who is best known as Mama Jane. She says she didn’t own a pet python and she’s never left her compound, located about a half-mile from Muthee’s immense new church. Last week Women’s eNews interviewed her there, next door to the Superkid Solid Foundation Faith in Every Footstep daycare center just off Kiambu’s main street. ‘If I am bad, why haven’t people attacked me?’ Njenga says. ‘Why haven’t they burnt this building down? That is what people here do to witches.'”

In fact, just about every claim made in Muthee’s witchcraft adventure has turned out to be false. The decrease in traffic deaths? New paving and speed bumps. Police killed a demon-snake? Mama Jane never owned one. Though one thing is true, Muthee did try to label her as a witch and have her killed or driven out.

“When Muthee came, he took a loudspeaker into the street and he told people to pray for seven days that I would die,” Njenga says. “If I was not known in the town, I could not have survived even to put my children through school.”

One wonders if Muthee’s tale of victory over witchcraft was invented to impress his Western backers. No doubt his church gets plenty of fat donations from fellow “spiritual warriors” impressed by his bravado and willingness to engage in campaigns of demonization and incitement that would be illegal here in America. As one community health worker tells Alsop, the best way to get rich quick in Kenya is to build a church, and Muthee is nothing if not rich. Instead of the mighty witchcraft fighter, come to America to lay his blessings on the faithful, he has been exposed as a Christian con-man making a quick buck.