Witch-hunters everywhere, be damned!

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A fellow GLBT activist, Christina Engela, recently reminded me of something I first wrote in 2007 in support of the right of South African Witches to call ourselves ‘Witches’; something I reused in argument in defence of that right on several occasions. This year I have reason to rediscover these words, and in doing so, to review just how far We Witches have come in reclaiming that which we’ve always owned – our own identity.

“The heart of the issue at stake in the debate surrounding reclamation concerns the right of a religious minority to name themselves. Witches who seek to maintain their constitutional right to continue to identify themselves as Witches, and to identify their religion as Witchcraft, are merely attempting to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of religion.

In doing so, they are neither infringing on the right of the majority to hold prejudicial beliefs concerning Witches and Witchcraft, nor are they infringing on the right of Witches who seek not to make their religious affiliation known to others.

Individual self-determination and self-identity (what one calls oneself and how one defines what one is) are not mutually exclusive principles. The individual and communal right to self-definition and self-determination is a cornerstone of the principles of freedom of religion and belief and is constitutionally enshrined through the notion of according and protecting human dignity to and for all equally.

The right to human dignity is based on the common assumption that all men and women have the right to have their “substantive essence” respected simply by virtue of their belonging to the human family. When the right to self-identity is with-held from either individual or group, the right to dignity is denied.” [0]

Today is Human Rights Day in South Africa. South African Witches are free to worship in public. We are free to marry according to our own religious customs and we have our own religious marriage officers. We have our own religious organizations, recognised as such, by our government. We have a voice, and as a community, we use that voice often and loudly to protest against injustice, discrimination, and prejudice.

Has societal bias against us disappeared? No! Do we hide from public challenges to our right to exist? Hell No!

We are a people to be reckoned with and we will not budge an inch from our chosen progress towards achieving full equality, equal in every respect, to any other citizen of this republic. That is our right and we claim it brazenly. We will not be oppressed!

Touchstone Advocacy

On March 29, Witches in support of the ‘30 days of advocacy against witch-hunts‘ [1] will challenge, simply by boldly existing, the power of ignorance and blind stupidity that feeds an age-old fear of witches and witchcraft. We will not relinquish our defiant stand against those who think to use hatred and enmity to bring harm to the innocent.

Witch-hunters everywhere, be damned!

Witch-hunts are a form of genocide bound neither by ethnicity nor time. This genocide has been happening for centuries, in many countries, and it continues to happen.

The first step to ending it must be to acknowledge it for what it is; a genocide of the innocent by those with prejudice.

Let’s STOP IT!

In memory of those who have died as a result of accusations of witchcraft now and in the past, we raise a libation of blessing to you and to your loved ones. May you know deep and abiding peace wherever your spirits wander. So mote it be!

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[0] Witches and Reclamation (September 2009)
http://blogs.news24.com/damonleff/Witches-and-Reclamation

[1] ’30 days of advocacy against witch-hunts’  29 March to 27 April
http://www.paganrightsalliance.org/30_days.html

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