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Australian Media on Paganism

"Christians attack witches"

March, 1998 - The Independent

They may have made good meals for liaons and been crucified for their beliefs but it appears that some Christians have developed little tolerance for other religions.

An example of this intolerance is found on the doors of Earth Magik, formerly known as Outback Gems in Penrith's High Street.

Earth Magik is a supply shop for local witches, Pagans and Aquarian Age types. Over the last few months the shop has had grafitti sprayed on the front doors in the forms of crosses and the word Jesus in metre high letters. Coupled with this, the owners of the business, Lily and Joel, have received threats that they will "burn in hell".

While some Christians may be understandably opposed to Paganism, the response does seem extreme. In recent times the Catholic Church in particular has not been overly concerned with Pagan practices and while clearly not supporting these practices, they are also not actively opposing their development.

Pastor Eric Roggereen of Emu Plains Christian Life Centre has a similarly enlightened view. "We love and accept every person," he says, although we don't condone Pagan practices.

Senior Minister of Penrith's Christian City Church, Phil Jagger, who recently instigated The Walk for Reconciliation, admits he is concerned about Pagan Practices.

"A lot of people have a naive approach. They feel they are harmless and that is a lot of fantasy. If they travel to parts of Africa and around the world they will find that it is very real and very evil."

Paster Roggeren and Reverend Jagger are in agreement, however, when it comes to attacking people and property. While Pastor Roggeren fells that those who have attacked Earth Magik are immature, Paster Jagger takes a stronger view. He believes that such acts are abhorent.

"We do not wrestle against flesh and blood," he insists. "This is a spiritual battle".

"We don't want to reach a state where it is like the Amercian situation. People have been killed by anti abortionists. You cannot uphold God's law by breaking God's law. Christians cannot choose to be hypocrites to uphold God's Laws."

Lady Mara of the Hawkesbur-based Children of the Oak has very clear ideas on the Christian Pagan relationship. According to her Wiccan group, Pagans are not anti-Christian; they are non-Christian in the same way that Bhuddism, Taoism and other mainstream religions are non-Christian.

Lady Mara and her coven observe the majority of dates on the Pagan calendar. For them Wicca is a religion, it is not a gathering of witches who cast spells, make charms or devise potions. They make a distinct division between what they class as folk magic and those rituals to the supreme spirit which are religiously based. A powerful tenet of their religion is to care for the earth to the point where Lady Mara states that "all environmentalists are not neccessarily Pagans, but all Pagans are environmentalists."

In the Blue Mountains, Jim West, spokeperson for he Pagan group known as the Delphi Community, says he is disillusioned with the church.

Formerly a deacon fo the Russian Orthodox Church, he has a thorough understanding both of the machinations of church politics and the bible itself. While he doesn't like the politics of the church, he believes that in essence Pagans and Christians are pursuing the same ends. He, like many Christians, is reaching for what he sees as the higher spirit, though for him it is neither male or female nor so clearly named.

Jim, as with every Pagan interviewed for this story, reiterates the prime tenet of Pagans, "Do what you will but harm no-one.".

His main gripe with Christians is that they don't know their own book well enough. He believes that before people protest against Pagans they should learn the scriptures as too often he finds quotes taken out of context or incorrectly stated.

David Garland, also known as Garfie, head of the Pagan Awareness Network (PAN), was himself a Catholic altar boy for two years. He, like Jim, has a formidable grasp of the bible. Garfie has helped create PAN not only because it brings together people of like mind, but also to educate people as to the exact nature of Paganism.

Every full moon Garfie holds informal public rituals near Seven Hills Railway Station. Like all Pagans interviewed he refuses to proselytise.

Garfie was also part founder of SOTEG, a Penrith-based group which includes Lily and Joel of Earth Magik as memebers. They, like Garfie, also hold public rituals which attract more than 100 people at a time. At the present part of their aim is to have Paganism legally recognised as a religion. It is their intention to have a Pagan celebrant for weddings in the near future, a path which Hawesbury's Lady Mara is also actively undertaking.

The head of the Church of Wicca in Western Australia, of which Children of the Oak are a part, already has an active and legally recognised celebrant, suggesting that the acceptance of Paganism many only be a matter of time.

The Independent (Penrith, Blue Mts), March, 1998

For more information on Paganism write to:

Hawkesbury
Lady Mara
Children of the Oak
PO Box 207
North Richmond NSW 2754

Penrith
Lily and Joel
Earth Magick
500B High St
Penrith NSW 2756

Blue Mountains
James West
PO Box 236
Blackheath NSW 2785

 

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