Framing and giving energy: How we work against DC40 matters

In light of the upcoming DC40 event, a lot of Pagans have expressed the opinion that responding to people like these fringe Christians only gives them more power, that it feeds them more energy to work with. That’s not necessarily true; the way we frame our response can determine whether we’re feeding them more energy or not.

Hecate has up another one of her oh-so-necessary posts about framing in response to DC40. I’d like to expand on that by giving some contrasting examples of responses that do and don’t reinforce fringe Christians’ framing of the situation.

My ideas for responses are focused on promoting a positive. That’s a basic principle of magic and affirmations: you say things that you want to happen. You don’t say “Please make sure this plane doesn’t crash,” because that’s talking about a plane crash. Negating a frame reinforces that frame. You say, “Let this trip be safe and smooth,” because that’s talking about what you want. Positive framing keeps your attention and energy on the desired outcome.

Now this isn’t just about saying “nice” things. It doesn’t have to be all sweetness and light; I fully understand that my vision of religious liberty is an affront to these would-be theocrats. That’s not a nice thing to say, in their world. But it is a positive framing in the sense that it keeps the focus on what I want.

You may choose to do a working like this using the idea of reflection, that the harmful intent and purpose will be reflected away from those it is meant to reach, possibly back on the originators. That’s fine, but again, framing matters. If you concentrate on what’s being reflected, you’re accepting their framing and directing your energy and attention to their harmful efforts. Concentrate instead on what’s doing the reflecting, and on the people who are being protected by that reflection.

Others raised the idea of “repurposing” the harmful intent or energy. I imagine that this can be done in positive-framing terms, but I seriously, seriously discourage it in this case. It’s extremely likely that you will end up feeding their energy. These people are strong and experienced and have a deep, deep passion behind their intent. They have a clear vision. They are not including a “an it harm none” or “for the greatest good of all” clause that you can latch onto for leverage to redirect them.

Magically speaking, stopping this energy is going to be hard, hard work. Think about it more in terms of momentum than electricity. Trying to repurpose this energy is like jumping in a truck going really, really fast and trying to get it to go in exactly the opposite direction without using the brakes.

I do include in my visualization the idea that any energy thrown at the shielding or at the wall of separation is grounded, harmlessly, and that since the shielding draws some of its strength from being connected to the earth, then in some sense their energy gets recycled to fuel the shield, but that’s an afterthought and not something I pay a lot of attention to.

In the mundane world, it is true that even negative attention often encourages its recipient. But, as a Pagan said about polyamory on the Wild Hunt today, “the road to equality lies through the fields of visibility.” Take Hecate’s advice and if you counter-protest in any public form, make it an opportunity for outreach and visibility for Pagans as good, normal people, not just about these fringe Christians.

Finally, there is the problem with responding to action rather than initiating action. That’s where a lot of other work matters so much. Being out as a Pagan can help; well-run Pagan Pride Days can help. Taking positive political and social action are essential. We’re already doing some of that, so let’s do more, as much as we can, and realize that that’s the real work of promoting religious plurality and understanding, and defending religious liberty.

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About Literata

Literata is a Wiccan priestess and writer. She edited Crossing the River: An Anthology in Honor of Sacred Journeys, and her poetry, rituals, and nonfiction have appeared in works such as Mandragora, Unto Herself, and Anointed as well as multiple periodicals. Literata has presented rituals and workshops at Sacred Space conference, Fertile Ground Gathering, and other mid-Atlantic venues. Literata offers healing and divination services as well as customized life-cycle rituals. She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation in history with the support of her husband and four cats.
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