Toxic Stigma

blackhole1Some types of behavior so outrage the popular culture that the very subject matter becomes toxic to the touch, not because of it’s intrinsic harmfulness but because of the extreme stigma attached to it. Among these extreme taboos is incest, pedophilia, and Satanism. The stigma of these things is so deadly, that it has been used historically to contaminate other things that aren’t even part of them.

Reproduction from acts of incest can lead to either good or bad results. Animal breeders often use inbreeding to heighten desirable traits. The problem is negative traits can also be heightened from inbreeding. The ban against incest (among humans) is really more about social issues than physical. People in a family need to keep their roles straight and incest can hopelessly complicate it. Still human beings have indulged in that practice over the years. Royal families have done it deliberately to keep their line pure and powerful. Some such families have been plagued with hemophilia.

scapegoatFor many years, gays were condemned as pedophiles even though most were nothing of the sort. The gay liberation movement had a long upwards struggle to get it through the heads of the ordinary public that gay does not equal child molester.

In the same way, people have believed for years that witches were satanicwitchdevil worshipers. Both witches/pagans and gays have fought so long and hard to separate themselves from these highly stigmatized groups that they feel they are forced to reject these groups to this very day. It’s easy to understand the terror felt by those who fear being painted by the same brush as these tabooed outcasts.

hatevictimEven in prison, pedophiles (short eyes) are fair game for the most vicious attacks. The gay movement won’t allow people who openly advocate sex between adults and children to even march in their parades. Reactions to these people are so adverse, it is easy to forget that some “respectable” thinkers have been advocates. Oscar Wilde, for example, spoke in favor of relationships with boys, something he was personally into. Camille Paglia, who isn’t a pedophile has written sympathetically about it. Of course, we have all heard of NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Love  Association. Their voice has been powerfully suppressed. They aren’t allowed to march in Gay Pride parades. Most are in the closet. This video, Chickenhawk gives them a voice that isn’t often heard.

Sex between adults and children is problematic. Even when we acknowledge that children have sexual feelings and are capable of even having consensual relationships with adults, there is a tremendous power discrepancy. How can we know that a child is freely consenting when he or she is dependent on adults for survival? Another problem is the shame associated with so many expressions of sex. A child who is just experiencing these feelings for the first time can have difficulty coming to terms with experiences outside what is acknowledged as the norm. Lack of power and social shame are great barriers to sex between adults and kids being alright.

virtuThere is a group called Virtuous Pedophiles. Not all pedophiles are predators. This organization actually represents people who are born with these forbidden desires and who have resolved not to act on them. Unfortunately, they are afraid to reach out for the help of a therapist. They are afraid of being reported. “Our website is intended to reduce the stigma attached to pedophilia by letting people know that a substantial number of pedophiles DO NOT molest children, and to provide peer support and information about available resources to help virtuous pedophiles remain law-abiding, and lead happy, productive lives.” This teenpedoreminds me of an episode of Law & Order: SVU in which a teenage boy comes in to report he has an attraction to his younger half-brother. He is obviously torn-up inside by this desire he is not acting upon but the cops treated him like a perp. This boy was working with an adult who had a website for pedophiles who wanted to stay celibate. He has pictures of kids for the VPs to masturbate to instead of harming a child. Unfortunately, one of the pictures was one of Stabler’s kids. Stabler promptly beat him up and Fin said he admired Stabler’s restraint! He would have killed him, he said. It’s stunning how certain people are just considered fair game by the virtuous citizens with empathy and a conscience.

dahmerOf course, while some pedophiles have relations with kids that are truly consensual and loving and others abstain from acting on those urges, there are still others who are true predators. Jeffrey Dahmer was not only a predator, he was a serial killer and cannibal. Not all pedophiles are child molesters and not all child molesters are pedophiles. Some are psychopaths, another stigmatized group of people. Of course most psychopaths don’t prey on children and many child molesters aren’t psychopaths. It’s easy to lump them together just as it used to be easy to lump pedophiles with gays.

The American Psychiatric Association’s DSM lists pedophilia as a metal disorder and the Supreme Court concurs. But some others, both experts and pedophiles want pedophilia removed from the DSM just as homosexuality has been removed.


cawWriting my autobiography brought me down a memory lane in which I was an active member of Church of All Worlds, a neo-pagan organization. The publication of this group was a magazine called Green Egg. Isaac Bonewits, well know in the Pagan community as a Druid leader, wrote an article, Enemies of Our Enemies which argued that Pagans and Satanists are too radically different from one and other to allow them to work together. In a nutshell, “Satan,” no matter how one chooses to define him, does come out of a historically hostile tradition, Christianity. Whether one condemns it for being “dualistic” pagendanceor “monotheistic” (worship of only one god almost forces dualism to develop), Satanism doesn’t come from the same tradition as Paganism which is pre-Christian and which was wiped out by Christians. Pagans try to show they are not all about darkness. “Witches are Healers,” read one banner in a Gay Pride march. Some even call themselves “white witches.” At the least, pagans and witches stress the fact that they worship nature and predate the whole mindset of the Abrahamic religions.

bonewitsBonewits’ article tries to plot out a taxonomy of where every pagan and satanic group fits in the philosophical and theological scene. Unfortunately, he used words he made up as if they are accepted terminology. “Mesopagans,”  “Paleopagans,” and “Scientism.” According to Bonewits, MesoPagan religions are those that developed from PaleoPagan or native Pagan religions that were influenced by Monotheistic, dualist or Nontheistic philosophies. These include all synchretic religions including Christo-Paganism, many Afro-Diasporic faiths, such as Voudun, Santeria and Candomble, and Sikhism as well as many occult traditions including Thelema, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy and Spiritualism and many modern Witchcraft traditions, including many Wiccan denominations. Also, some Satanic traditions could fall into this category.” Witchipedia, Mesopaganism. It seems that these forms of paganism, unlike Neopaganism, are tainted by the influence of Christianity. Somehow, the Neopagans approved by Bonewits, have managed to avoid this taint even though they are the most recently devised religious current of them all.

shunningMr. Bonewits’ solution is simple. “How exactly can we make it clear to Setanists that they are not wanted in our community? As Deborah Lipp puts it, “How do we express our disapproval, and give it clout, without violating their rights?” Her solution: “We do it just as our Pagan ancestors did — by shunning. We don’t have to be respectful or friendly to Satanists. Shunning is ethical and legal, and no one has a civil right to be liked.” I can’t help but be struck with the similarity “shunning” has to the “no contact” solution to “narcissistic and psychopathic abuse.”

satanwantsSatanists insist that a distinction be made between Satanism, a name assumed by Anton Levay in founding his church and “devil worshipers” who are assumed to be, first and foremost, enemies of God. Not all Satanists believe in god. The god they almost universally worship, whether they believe in the supernatural or not, is themselves. The point in which they differ from Pagans is that their god is an “isolate intelligence” separate from the rest of existence. Pagans and most all mystics yearn for a oneness with all things. Satanists reject this oneness. However, to achieve god consciousness, the awareness of being one with all, is, at the same time, the most profound experience of solitude that there is. To be one with everything is to know there is no other. So is there really any difference between isolate intelligence and mystical unity with All?


steleThelema, the religion of Aleister Crowley and OTO seems to somehow bridge the gap between Satanism and Paganism. Adam Rostoker, who belonged to CAW and OTO, believed the bible of CAW, Stranger in a Strange Land espoused Thelema as well as the values CAW found in it. Members of CAW ritually share water, a sacrament in CAW. As the cup is passed,  we tell each other, “Thou art God/Goddess.” The knowledge that we are god(s) is not unique to CAW and OTO. Many New Agers know they are god. Of course, our universal deity is openly acknowledged in OTO. Every man and every woman is a star. “There is no part of me that is not of the gods.” The age of Isis and the age of Osiris has given way to the age of Horus, the crowned and conquering Child.  Grandiosity has come into it’s own.

Gays and Pagans have good reason to guard against once again being tarred by the same iamalonebrush that is still being used on pedophiles and satanists. I’m not trying to find a definitive conclusion about the ultimate moral value of either pedophilia or satanism. I’m just discussing the relationships between these highly stigmatized groups and other disrespected groups that are busily shunning them.

Mystics yearn to the return to their original state of Oneness with the Universe but how can we if any one of us is demonized? There are stigmas large and small. When will we put down the heavy load of judgement and accept each other as a star.


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