Sandy the Snurricane

I wrote this post as the winds and the snow began. The angle that my building makes with another high-rise forms an interesting vortex such that precipitation will actually rise. Yes, DC really is weird: here, it snows up. There is also standing water on US 1 with waves in it being driven by the winds.

I want to use this moment to point out something that’s been bothering me for a while. I’m currently ambivalent about the extent to which magic can change or affect the material, physical world. (I am most certainly agnostic about the means by which it does so, as I find many of the explanations which justify it to be precisely as bad as the obnoxious New Atheists mock them for being.) At the same time, I’ve done magic which, by my standards, worked. Including weather work. I didn’t get a chance to do preparatory work before Sandy as I’ve done before, but I’ll be doing more tonight.

Anyone who has had much exposure to the New Apostolic Reformation and associated/similar kinds of Christians will have seen their claims to have worked what I would classify as magic. They describe it as prayer, and we can debate the interpenetration of those categories, but they say they make changes in the world. Many of their claims are clearly ridiculous, and the sources that follow them tend to report these claims as further proof of the NAR’s detachment from Planet Reality.

Of course, this is also something that causes a lot of mainstream thinking to dismiss all magic as “woo” and hence to think Paganism is entirely ridiculous. But I don’t think all of this is entirely “woo,” so let’s stipulate the possibility that the NAR, like other kinds of magic, can affect the “real” world. (Thank you, Hecate, for teaching me that it’s all real; it’s all metaphor; there’s always more.)

And given the context of this storm, if Jesus wants to help out moderating its impact, I’d gratefully take his help.

So I was asking myself why it bothers me so deeply when I see Cindy Jacobs asking her prayer intercessors to “rebuke” the storm. After all, I think my magic can make a difference, so maybe hers can too, and I’d be stupid to refuse help, right?

I think I found the answer in another headline from today: Hurricane Sandy is God’s Vengeance for (insert that Christian’s personal hobbyhorse – QUILTBAG rights, abortion, etc). Again, if you’ve been around these kinds of Christians much, you’ve seen these kinds of condemnatory headlines. In fact, they’re much, much more common than calls to ask their god to help potential problems that are developing.

Worst of all, they almost never show any sort of compassion for the people who are killed, hurt, or otherwise impacted by these disasters and tragedies. It’s the most despicable kind of appropriating others’ pain in order to “lesson” the rest of us about moral decay.

This isn’t just a failure of theodicy. It demonstrates a worldview with a propensity for bullying, a propensity learned directly from their twisted, malignant vision of deity. Even when they do issue calls to try to importune their god for help, I cannot escape seeing an implicit threat. “If you don’t do what we want, I mean, what HE wants, we might not be able to hold him back next time,” this cycle of pin-the-blame-on-the-sinner says to me.

Of course, it’s also a failure of theodicy. This is another aspect of the same incoherence that crops up when people try to square the circle of an omnipotent, omniscient god which doesn’t intend the rape but does very strongly intend the pregnancy that follows from it. There are coherent theological responses to this; I respect Christians who are willing to grapple with this with eyes open to the realities of the world they are trying to discuss, and some of them are fairly successful at it. But many aren’t, and too many of those are closer than we realize to the abhorrent, bullying view that makes my skin crawl even when they say they’re working for (my) good. This is all one worldview, and if you don’t think it’s a problem, you’re not paying attention.

But we can’t let our attention – or our intention – be occupied by that alone.

And now, having faced that little piece of my shadow (thank you, Samhain, thank you, people who have helped me do shadow work recently), I am going to sit with this amazing, awe-full and awful storm. I am going to reach out in love, with responsibility, and with my fear – of the storm, of the people who scare me and open old wounds, of the uncertain future that this storm makes all-too-apparent – with all of those, and work. For myself, for others, for the world, for all of us. Together. Here. Now.

There are birds taking flight off the roof of a building nearby. The clouds are so low that their wild flight in the face of the wind disappears almost immediately. I want to try that: what kind of flight would be possible in this unique storm that we could never think of in “normal” times? What kind of magic can ride in its wings?

What are you doing tonight?

Updated after the storm: We were safe and sound; although there were risks of flooding, none affected us. (Key safety tip: knowing when the full moon is and how it affects the tides is practical, real-world knowledge!)

My thoughts and prayers went out to those who were hurt by the storm.

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.
This entry was posted in Pagan and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Sandy the Snurricane

  1. mmy says:

    I live on the north/northwesterly edge of the storm thus I have, so far, only experienced high winds and cold driving rain. I am trying to keep track of all my friends who live in areas that will be more directly/immediately impacted.

    Weather? I wonder if we realize that when we “wish away” the weather we are actually wishing that it hit somewhere else. Or that we are asking/expecting the earth now to show evidence of the damage that we have been doing to it for years.

    Other than sending good thoughts at my friends I am making sure that we have done everything we can to provide safe shelters for the wildlife caught in this storm. There are leaves piled up in the sheltered area under the trees and against the fence–deep enough that an animal could dig in and find protection from the wind and rain. And our garage door is cracked open just enough that rabbits, feral cats and other small animals can get inside the building and find shelter in the wood piles.

    • Literata says:

      Do you mean “asking that the earth NOT show evidence…”? And yeah, that’s a big, big, big lesson I’m seeing. It seems pretty unavoidably true, unlike maunderings about who the Christian god hates more.

      Goddess bless you for providing shelter like that.

  2. Baking cookies! We used the evening to bake Halloween cookies, hoping the electricity would stay on long enough, and it did. It’s roaring outside, now, and the lights have been flickering. I pray they stay on for us. The worst is yet to come.

    I do, with certainty, believe that our thoughts, intentions, prayers, etc., can effect change in our world. And with that, I will gladly accept my friends/loved ones doing everything in their power to effect change in a positive way, with good intentions and pure motives. It’s harder to accept that help when it comes from people who I feel do not have good intentions and pure motives. Even if what they are trying to do will benefit me, I am uneasy about it. I would rather they leave me alone altogether. Christians who preach the vengeance of the Lord fill me with unease. That is not what I have been taught and it’s not what I believe. In fact, it goes directly against the mandate given by JP2, who encouraged inter-religious connections and embracing the similarities.

    I’ve squared the circle a bit in my own head, about my own issues. I don’t think God intended that my first Husband abandon me and our child. That pesky business of free will got in the way. However, I do believe that God took a bad situation and made it better than it ever could have been before. Perhaps God didn’t intend the rape OR the pregnancy, but will take this horrid situation and do something amazing. Alas, it is easier to say these things not ever having been in this particular situation. I often feel differently about things when they happen to me and I would feel even different still, if it happened to my daughter. No one can really say what we “would” do until the situation is at hand and it’s us, or our children, who are effected. It’s late and I’m exhausted, so perhaps I’m falling more into the abhorrent, bullying view than I intend. If so, I am sorry.

    I do enjoy all of your posts. I have learned much from you. You make me think and stretch my mind, often limited by all the little people around me. Hugs. :)

    • Literata says:

      :) I think that the importance of speaking from one’s experience is paramount. *You* can tell me how a particular situation worked out for you and the meaning you found in it. I support that, as long as it isn’t hateful (those people over there are Eeeeevil!), which I know firsthand that you are not promoting.

      I think my point about bullying is intertwined with complaints I’ve made before about interpreting someone else’s situation for them. Pagans saying that such-and-such must be a result of so-and-so’s prior incarnations, blah blah blah, therefore they deserve bad things, that is exactly as bad, as bullying, and as reprehensible as this Christian tendency. If someone finds that meaning for him- or her-self, I may have questions, but that’s their working out of their situation. It’s the “I know the deeper meaning of your pain” that I find most problematic. That’s precisely not what you’re doing.

      In the question of choice, I want women to have the choice to find healing in bearing or raising a child from painful circumstances. I *also* want them to have the choice not to. That, to me, is honoring choice, and one’s own metaphysical understanding, whereas limiting women’s choice is inherently an attempt to impose a narrative (usually promoted by men) which will be wrong in many cases.

  3. Makarios says:

    It is infuriating, the way that some of those Christian spokesfolks rush to claim that each and every natural disaster is their God’s way of punishing the United States for something.

    First of all, who told them so? Do they have a direct line fo the BIg Guy? I don’t think so. Also, let me see if I’ve got this right: God didn’t smite the U.S. because of slavery, genocide of First Nations, and generations of racial and religious oppression; but when it comes to QUILTBAG rights and women’s right to reproductive choice, he sends in the storms. Right–got it!

    I occasionally wish that some of my co-religionists would find another religion so that they would stop embarrassing me.

Comments are closed.