Anger and courage

Today, I am an angry Witch. It’s the kind of anger that is born out of hope, the anger that is twin to courage. If you don’t want to join me in anger, I invite you to join me in courage.

Star Foster wrote an excellent piece with the title “I am not an angry Witch.” She tells a story of how a founder of her trad used anger – righteous anger over being the object of prejudice – to do strong, amazing work in founding the trad and changing those attitudes. Star rightly says:

Anger is not a bad thing. It is fuel, it is propulsion, it is spark. Used and expressed, anger can push us to accomplish great things. …

Getting angry didn’t make [the founder] an angry person. An expression of or acknowledgement of anger doesn’t make someone an angry person. Because when you say “angry person” you mean “bitter person” or “malicious person.” That’s not what Witchcraft is about. A Witch does not stew in bitterness or become malicious. Bitterness and malice are for those who feel helpless, and a Witch is never helpless. A Witch is conscious of his or her own power, is aware and respectful of the power in those around her, and when moved by a just anger, knows how to channel the power of others and their own to constructive means.

I am not bitter. I am not malicious. I am angry.

I am angry that the NAR wants to take away my rights, my freedoms, my religion. I am angry that they have found politicians who will work with them to undermine these fundamental tenets of American democracy. How dare they?

And I am also angry at those who would deny or diminish the importance of this movement’s efforts. Are you waiting to see the whites of their eyes?

I am not trying to make people afraid; I am trying to make them aware. If I turn out to be wrong about all this, and the Christian Dominionists are cuddly little pluralists who support my right to my religion (and several other crucial aspects of my life), I will be the first one to celebrate. I will eat my words, gladly and joyfully.

But the problem is that this isn’t primarily about my words: it’s about the Christian Dominionists’ words. I am taking them at their word that they want to convert all Americans to Christianity, that they want to institute a theocracy (even if they don’t want to call it theocracy), up to and including the death penalty for breaking the Sabbath.

I am taking them at their word because when forced-birthers say that abortion is murder, they have been true to their word by supporting bills that would charge not just the doctor but the woman who has an abortion. In fact, some of them would make each and every miscarriage the scene of a criminal investigation – potentially punishable by death – until proven otherwise.

Do the majority of anti-choicers support this? No. But the smaller minority has been extremely successful in making coalitions with and coopting the larger movement. And as a result, a much larger part of the anti-choice movement has become radicalized in ways that I would never have imagined ten years ago.

Although draconian bills like the above have been defeated, measures like the “Heartbeat bill,” which will result in serious illness for many women and death for some, even when there is no question of “saving” a fetus, have a serious chance of being passed. Anti-choice groups have also said that where they can’t make abortion illegal, they’ll make it impossible to get. They have been as bad as their word in that area, too.

The fight for women’s rights has become a real battleground with a very real chance of death. I can see the whites of the eyes of those who would take my life. I don’t want to get any closer.

The struggle for freedom of religion has not yet become a battleground in the same way. But when conservative Christians with increasing amounts of political power and influence declare war, and adopt warfare metaphors, I take them at their word. When they announce that they will revolutionize American society and convert everyone to Christianity, I take them at their word that they will use all their power to do so.

Do I think I am in danger from a new American Inquisition? No. But I do think that the tenuous gains of religious liberty for minority religions in the last thirty years are at risk of being rolled back, all the way back to the 1950s or earlier. When I look at how much has been accomplished in rolling back women’s rights to reproductive freedom, and I see that minority religions are much less politically aware and organized than pro-choice women, I am afraid.

But I am also hopeful. And as a result, I am angry, and I am courageous. Even when I am angry at those who should be my natural allies, I strive to channel that anger into actions that are just, that are courageous, and that will help all of us protect the freedoms we hold so dear.

Today, I am an angry Witch, and that anger is fuel for my courage. I think that’s a good thing, and I invite you to join me. Even if your hope does not give birth to anger, let it create the courage to be aware, to participate in the political process, and to be ready to become more active in protecting those freedoms.

It is only through her beautiful daughters, anger and courage, that hope is able to overcome fear.

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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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