I am a witch: a long-haired harpy, fertile with the fruit of the earth; brazen; aligned with the sources of nature. Nature? Its nuances and power, like women, have been silenced and it falls to us witches to replenish the lack of language; the void.
They cut our trees with chainsaws, drive tanks through our forests, lay tarmac over our meadows, cover the world in invisible nuclear dirt and we witches writhe at the sound of our sister earth’s suffering.
Here is a tale of one of my hexes. [or put it another way: have you ever wished you’d said XYZ after the conversation. Well check out me channelling Mary Daly]
Let me slow this post down.
It was a lovely spring day, the last week of February. I went to the park and bumped into a Swiss guy I vaguely knew from back when I used to take Japanese classes.
There are so few foreigners here that when you see one you tend to have a chat, especially if they’re about the same age as you.
Turns out he’s a missionary priest and has set up his own church here. Fine, fine. Apparently his uncle is here and he too has set up another church. Fine, great. He’s recently returned from a Christian mission in Africa.
Things took a turn for the worst when I noticed he was attempting to gague whether or not I was a Christian ( testing my potential as a possible recruit)
Before I knew it he was in fully-fledged convert mode. Apparently God loves me and has a plan.
But it was scary. His behaviour was creepy and rapisty, which I didn’t notice at first because as a woman I’ve been programmed to be self-effacing and deferential. I excused him as being very passionate about his faith.
Then it suddenly occured to me how ridiculous he was. Perhaps I should try to convert the next man I bump into (in the park on a sunny afternoon) to radical feminism…
When you imagine yourself behaving like these men you see their ludicrous, entitled behaviour for what it is.
Right there and then I realised that women are programmed to “look after” men in conversations: make sure we don’t offend, make sure we don’t hurt their egos by making them look stupid . Though I’d made it clear I was uncomfortable he kept on pressing me. Purposely ignoring someone’s discomfort is a rapist mentality.
However ZING!! what did I have in my bag but Beyond God the Father, by Mary Daly which I’d been reading non-stop since it was delivered.
When he upped the antse, and trotted out the old amateur psychology strength flowed through me. I adopted a calm, strong persona and each time he framed the conversation around God existing, I smoothly reframed it into a context where God could not possibly exist.
It struck me just how many women must end up becoming Christians because they’re brow-beaten into it, then once you’re in, you can’t get out.
Priest: “Was your childhood happy? Often when we turn away from God…blahblah [I sensed he’d been trained]
Me: [not answering by reframing] “What was your childhood like? Did your parents believe in God?
Priest: [Hesitant] “Yes, yes, They helped me a lot”
Me: “Yes, children are easily influenced by their parents’ ”
Priest: “It’s known that bitterness can cause cancer”
Me: “No it’s chemical pollutants and carcinogens that cause cancer. The government and corporations want to blame the victims so they don’t have to take responsibility by legislating against capitalist excesses” [I shit you not, it all came out perfect]
I could see from his eyes that he wanted to have me burned as a witch.
And I told him
“You know, there is a political power structure behind this conversation. You have the power of the church behind you supporting your beliefs, and I, as a woman, do not have any power supporting the truths I know about life. There’s just me.
And the trees.”
Followed shortly by
Me: “I don’t believe in good and evil. I don’t believe any baby is BORN evil. If you study the childhoods of mass murderers and dictators, you’ll find that each one, without exception, was abused. Not all abused kids turn out bad, but the ones that turn out bad were abused”
[Realise now I should have said that if women had more power they’d be able to keep abusive predators away from their kids, or if they had access to decent financial resources their mental health would improve resulting in better childhoods all-round but I forgot]
Priest: “Actually, there are evil spirits in the world that can enter your body”
Me [in my mind]: “Umm, so what’s all that heaven and hell shit about if you can blame it on the spirits on your day of reckoning?”
The jig was up when he said he’d cured people of AIDS on his mission in Africa, that he’d seen blind men’s vision returned, due to the power of his church. A desperate last hopeful stab at clinging onto his worldview if ever I saw one.
The conversation ended:
Priest: “Do you want to have a happy future”
Me: “It makes no difference to me?”
Priest: “It makes no difference to you???
Me: “Do you know that two women a week are killed in the UK by their husband. Or what about the man down the street from me who killed his wife and child six months ago. Knowing this, how relevant is it to me, as a woman, to believe that my future will be happy? It’s irrelevant.”
Priest: “Yes, [sad face] . And the divorce rate in [our city] is the highest in Japan
Me: [in my mind] Are divorce and wife murder are on the same level? Oh yes, both acts defy God so, you know, roughly the same…
Me: Well It’s better to be divorced than dead.
And he looked at me.
And I looked at him.
And we both knew I’d won.
Before I could blink he’d run off without saying goodbye.
Not a hex per se but I feel bloody brilliant. One for the feminist cause. Thank you Mary Daly; if it wasn’t for you I’d have agreed to “pop in” to church for tea and biscuits…
[Ode to the nine million witches, women like me and you, burned in: Wales, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Holland, Switzerland, England, Ireland, Scotland and America. “Killed in the name of God the Father, and his only son, Jesus Christ.” (Dworkin, 1976)]