Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lessons from Kenny Klein, Prominent Pagan Leader Arrested for Child Pornography

Recently, a Pagan friend contacted me to talk about the "Kenny Klein situation", because it was very upsetting to him. I didn't know who Kenny was until I started doing some Web searching, and I found this article about his recent arrest, which I encourage you to read. 

For the record, Klein has been charged with many counts of possession of child pornography of children under 13. 

Kenny is a well-known Pagan author and musician who has been around for many years. He is also a High Priest in the Blue Star Tradition, and has been teaching "traditional Wicca" for many years as well. He is a Llewellyn author as well. 

My friend wanted to know why people in the Pagan community weren't talking about his arrest online, and once I read the article, I wondered the same thing. So I decided to check it out and write about it myself. 

Speaking personally, child pornography is one of the most disgusting things I can fathom, right along with sexual abuse. But I'm not here to comment on Kenny's guilt or innocence. That's up to the courts. The article mentioned he had already made some kind of admission, but that's not really relevant to what I'm talking about. (Again, in my humble opinion, I will say that if he is found guilty, he should rot in jail and never get out.)

The fact that Kenny is Pagan means nothing to me, except to the extent that it hurts all Pagan communities when someone engages in such behavior. What we have is a spiritual leader who, according to witness accounts, has a history of romantically pursuing young girls who are looking to him for spiritual leadership and guidance. 

There are no words strong enough to describe how incredibly angry, sad, and disappointed I am when I hear about spiritual leaders of any faith taking advantage of the incredible position of trust laid upon them by the people they lead. And it happens in every faith, folks. People's egos get the best of them, and they feel like they can prey on the most vulnerable among us. 

What makes this situation worse is the testimony of one girl who said that Pagan elders dismissed her complaints when she brought them forward, saying that is "how Kenny is." In other words, they are rationalizing his behavior and choosing not to do anything about it. 

Imagine what that must feel like to a victim. You do what they tell you to do: You tell someone in authority about the unsettling behavior of another person. And what do you get for your trouble? NOTHING. Your concerns are dismissed, and the conduct is just accepted. People may even think you are lying to get attention. How would you feel then? Humiliated. Powerless. Enraged. You've just been victimized a second time by those who are supposedly in a position to HELP you. But now they've made it worse by enabling the person's behavior, too. 

I've said it before and I will repeat it: Spiritual leaders of EVERY FAITH should be held to higher standards. We are in positions of trust and we need to earn them every day; one way we do that is by checking our egos at the door. That's a good start. But our conduct must be above reproach at all times. People look up to us and come to us in their darkest hours. We need to be worthy of their trust and confidence. 

Kenny Klein's arrest is a good opportunity for some reminders as you choose spiritual leaders and communities. 

1) Choose any community and/or leader carefully. If a community engages in an activity that you don't like, don't join. If a leader isn't someone who embodies the tenets of the faith you wish to practice, then find someone else. 

2) If you are uncomfortable with the behavior of anyone in that community, leave and don't go back. I know people want to fit in, but it's dangerous to do things you don't want to simply to gain acceptance. 

3) If a spiritual leader makes any kind of romantic and/or sexual advance toward you, get out of the situation as quickly as you can. Then call the police and file a report. Sometimes in Pagan communities or covens, new "initiates" to perform sexual acts to gain admission. Don't allow yourself to be the victim. The same rules apply to Pagan communities as any other: Get out of the situation, then go to the police and file a report. (Spoiler alert: If you're foolish enough to think this doesn't happen, why do you think I'm mentioning it?)

4) Teenagers should have parental permission (in the form of signed waivers) to attend classes offered by any spiritual group. Parents should feel comfortable with the spiritual leaders of communities their teens are involved in, and at the very least should at least go and meet the leaders even if they don't agree with the faith their child is exploring. If a parent has any concerns, s/he should accompany the minor to a community ritual. 

5) Listen to your intuition. If something in a community you visit is wrong, it probably is. At the very least, it's not for you. The same goes for any spiritual leader. If you're not comfortable with them for any reason, or you get a weird feeling from them that is unsettling or makes you fearful, then it isn't the place for you. 

I know you've heard me say this kind of thing before, but unfortunately that message needs repeating. Your spiritual leaders' behavior and conduct should always be above reproach. If it isn't, then that person, no matter what title they hold or what their academic credentials are, doesn't deserve your time and energy. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ostara Tarot Blog Hop: The Importance of Re-Creation

Blessed Ostara to all of you, and welcome! Hopefully you've just come to visit me from Morgan Drake Eckstein's blog. :)

(If you get lost, you can find the master list of blogs here.) 

Astrologically speaking, it's been a turbulent few months. We started off the year with the personal planets all going retrograde at some point: Venus, then Mercury, and now Mars. And we're not out of the woods yet, since Mars stays retrograde through mid-May and his effects will be felt through July, when Mercury retrograde comes at us again in June. In short, we could easily be off our game right now.

Typically, at Ostara we talk about re-balancing, with the equality of light and dark, and that's all well and good. But we can talk about balance anytime, so today, I'm going to focus on a topic that many of us miss out on, and that, dear friends, is the idea of "re-creation". 

We have many roles in life. We're bosses and employees. We're psychics and astrologers. We're husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, and teachers and students. But it's essential for all of us to sometimes forget the titles and focus on ourselves.

"Re-creation" involves doing things that you enjoy. It involves being selfish for the sole purpose of being able to later on take on the many roles we have in life, like the ones I listed above. And it's a part of life that many of us miss out on because we're too busy trying to be everything to everyone else. 

I'm passionate about games, and I always have been. It doesn't really matter what kind: computer games, console games, card games, or board games. And when I play, I am re-creating myself. I played in a local Monopoly tournament last month, and loved every second of it. 

I found out recently that my landlady is selling the house my wife and I are living in, so things here are definitely a little bit crazy. I'll be moving in less than three weeks. I've been packing, purging, and re-arranging. But gaming helps keep my sanity, and I devote a little bit of time each day to it, even if it's only 15-20 minutes. 

So this Ostara, take a hard look at your "re-creation" and if you're having a hard time coming up with your personal recreational activities, then you're not doing it enough. Set aside some time for what re-creates you, and PLEASE don't feel bad about it! 

Thanks for stopping by! Please head over to Maureen's blog, the next stop on the blog hop!  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

In Search of Lost Time: Adieu Mlle. Becker

Hello everyone...I find myself blogging from the train again, only this time it's aboard Amtrak's NE Regional 186 en route to Baltimore. I've got a visit to the B&O Railroad Museum on the schedule and a  visit with my sister as well.

I find that being aboard a train is a good time to think about where I've been and where I'm going, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the life of a person who had a tremendously positive impact on me. Her name was Sheila Becker Gailius, but I never called her by her first name. She was Ms. Becker to me, and she was my high school French teacher for French-AP my senior year. 

My high school didn't want me to take French-AP at all, which is surprising because they pushed me harder academically than pretty much any other institution I've attended. They looked at my French record and saw that I was only a B student, and that I didn't challenge myself to take French IV Honors during my junior year. That was one of the first times in my life that I remember being seriously wicked pissed.  My music teacher, who saw me speaking French non-stop on a band trip to Montreal doing interpreting for classmates, started the dialog to get me enrolled. 

Once the modern languages department finally relented, Mlle. Becker could have killed that whole idea. But she didn't. I was afraid what she would think of me because I wasn't as academically skilled, or so it seemed on paper, as the other students. But she never mentioned it if she had any reservations about my ability. Once I got A's on my first two assignments, there was no looking back for any of us. 

Boy was I glad I fought for this. Mlle. Becker was one of the best teachers I have seen or experienced in any discpline. Her class was total immersion French...she didn't speak English and scolded us when we did. She was challenging while being understanding. Her classes were interesting and focused on modern French culture and language, and to this day my love of French rock music comes from her. 

When I got a French classroom of my own, I modeled her style and her passion for the language and culture. I tried to put myself in her shoes, and considering some of my classmates I often wondered how she did it. But she truly excelled. Add to all of this that she was such a giving person and you had the "perfect storm" in any classroom. 

After I graduated in 1989, she continued teaching. I got to see her once on a visit back to BC High after that, but that was still about 20 years ago now. I had no idea it was going to be my last visit to her classroom. 

Ms. Becker--now Ms. Sheila Becker Gailius--passed away less than a week ago after a long, drawn out battle with cancer. She had such an amazing impact on me as a person and as a French student that I just couldn't say nothing. She meant so much to me and to so many others. 

I ask the blessings of the Lord and Lady for all those who mourn her passing. I can only thank the Divine for the amazing person she was, and feel fortunate that she took the time to share her passion for French with me and so many others. She will not be forgotten. 

Adieu Mademoiselle Becker. Tu seras toujours dans mon coeur. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Riding the Train

So this is the first time I have blogged from the train before. I used to ride all the time until I changed jobs and now I do it infrequently. You forget how crowded and cramped it is in here. Holy shit!

At least we now have social media to keep us entertained. Back when I started commuting--I was 12 and headed to high school--I had a Walkman so I could play mix cassette tapes and ate batteries. 

As for tarot cards, it is most assuredly a 10 of Wands kind of day. We are jammed in here so tightly that I think even the Japanese would be impressed. And people are loaded down; so glad I am traveling lighter than most. And to think we'll all do this shit again in a few short hours? 

I can't even see where we just stopped. After four straight years of riding the system every day I have my suspicions. But seriously...the stress of doing this is totally the 10 of Wands for me. At least I will be seeing some old friends, so it should be the 6 of cups for me shortly. 

Anyway, here's to all of you and hoping you've got more of a 10 of Cups day on your agenda. :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Letters from Neptune: Throwing the Dwarf Planet Under the Bus

Dear Pluto,

I wanted to take a moment to wish you a very happy Mardi Gras! I'm going to apologize in advance for this email seeming a little So many people are riding with me today that it's a little unsettling. Did I mention that it's TOTALLY FUCKING AWESOME, though?? That part is, but not what I'm about to say. Just so we're clear.  

Anyway, I had a rather unpleasant conversation with Saturn not too long ago. Well...let me wasn't unpleasant for ME, since Saturn bought me a bottle of some very nice liquor and I managed to "spirit" it--HAHAHAHA! GET IT?--out of his house without him realizing it. Sometimes I kill myself. 

As is true to form, Saturn's disappointed about something. This time, John has evolved to become a more balanced individual by riding more with me and less with him. Saturn has realized that John will never be the obedient Saturn pupil that he used to be. Frankly, he was pretty boring, if you ask me. Writing a poem about his upbringing would have been a real short haiku going something like this. 

Boring little boy
Did not know how to have fun
Except with board games

Crap, I'm digressing again, aren't I? Well, fuck. 

I wanna be totally clear on this one. I didn't MEAN for it to happen. OK, so I figured it WOULD HAPPEN, and yes, likely I knew how the Old Man would react. But I swear this time I wasn't trying to be deliberately mean. 

OK, so that last statement wasn't entirely true. And when I say it wasn't entirely true, I mean it wasn't an outright falsehood. At times I was trying to be a little bit nasty because I wanted to knock that old bastard down a few pegs. I wasn't trying to enhance my own ego in the process, although I must admit that it did feel good. A little. OK more than a little, but cut me some slack, will you? 

Saturn's got a THING, you know that? Aside from John or anyone else, he's got a thing against the outer planets. It's almost like he doesn't even want us around, that our astrological influence is somehow lessened. Uranus took away some "his people". He's not a fan of yours, I'm sure. And he REALLY doesn't like me. He never did, but now, about John he's got a true hard-on, to the degree that the old man can have a hard-on that's not chemically enhanced, you know? These days you'd call it an "issue" and try to "dialog" about it, use that therapy bullshit that YES, I am responsible for, I'll admit. And I want to accept EVERYONE and he can't accept ANYONE. That's his problem. When you do the same thing for so many years you become an old stick in the mud. Sonofabitch can't even begin to understand who we are and our role in the astrological universe. 

John's taken up some ancient astrology techniques. Did I go to Saturn and bitch about that? No, I didn't, because I care about John being well-rounded. He knows I'm there and how I'm trying to help him, and that's what counts. Do I care that Saturn is still John's ruling planet, and a much larger part of his chart than I am? NO. I like the guy, but I've got my people, too, and I can imagine what it's like to have such a strongly Saturn-ruled person move away from him. But we're not changing who John IS; we're just enhancing him a little. He's not as much a Saturn's boy and he gets so pissed off. WHAT THE FUCK?

Saturn's a whiny little bitch who doesn't know how to evolve himself. And that's why I need you to talk to him. Saturn, that is...not John. 

You're his modern sun sign ruler, so I've already thrown you under the bus. I'd apologize for doing that, but it would be disingenuous. I meant to do it. But I'll warn you now that Saturn is not happy. I'd say he'd have calmed down by the time he gets to you, but that's not the truth either. He may be as mad as hornets who have built their nest in an entire bush only to have humans set fire to it. John's seen that happen, too, and he was practically cheering; he's not a fan of stinging insects. 

I'm digressing again but you get the point. Don't say I didn't warn you. Here's something I do mean: THANK YOU SO MUCH! I owe you dinner out someplace nicer than I usually eat.