Mark Morford: I have secretly loved you for quite some time. but I must now declare it to the world! xxx
Sarah Palin was de-witched by nutball pastor? What a shame
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, October 3, 2008
Here's one way to make a small child's eyes go wide in creepyfun terror: Mention the existence of witches.
Real ones. Living ones. Witches living and existing right over there, just off the highway, in sad eerie-looking ramshackle hovels and trailers and barns not a mere few hundred yards from your speeding car, right up there in the parts of rural 1970s Idaho my family would pass through on the way to our little getaway lake cabin up north, deep in the misty, foggy, sunbaked summerland memories of my childhood.
Oh yes, the witches were there all right. At least, my parents sometimes hinted that they were, relating, as we zipped by these sweet-but-gloomy little towns, tallish tales of mysterious disappearances and unsolved murders and maybe a mutilated farm animal or two, and then they'd chuckle and wink to each other as my sisters and I stared out the windows, equal parts enchanted and suspicious and petrified.
Of course, to my 8-year-old imagination, these Podunk witches were at once terrifically real, and yet somehow, given how they lived in these weatherbeaten tobacco-spit burgs, also sort of tacky, like a cross between the Blair Witch and an emphysemic Wal-Mart greeter Ð- gaunt harridans in bad housedresses who kept small oozing things in jars and ate live rabbits and picked their six remaining teeth with the bones of small children and watched too much daytime TV and chain-smoked Winston menthols.
Makes me a little sad, then, that trophy VP nominee Sarah "I (Heart) Gibberish" Palin apparently had herself anointed by a true-blue witch-hunter nutball of a pastor, a Kenyan priest name of Thomas Muthee, up at her Wasilla church a few years back, just before becoming governor. Isn't that sweet?
Did you see the infamous grainy YouTube video? Did you read the disquieting little sidebar story about Muthee and his now-infamous witch huntin' treks down to Kenya, like that time he stormed into a village and formed an angry mob to drive out an old woman by the name of "Mama Jane" who was supposedly causing illness and traffic accidents and really crappy Wi-Fi connections at the local Starbucks? Charming.
Have you read, furthermore, about Palin's adorable Pentecostal church where Muthee preached, where they like to speak in tongues and lick the skins of serpents and watch NASCAR while shooting moose from the backs of animatronic dinosaurs adorned with "Jesus is My Co-Pilot" bumper stickers? (Note: possible slight exaggeration. But not by much.) It's all sorts of Disney-on-acid fun.
As for Palin, turns out Muthee laid on some hands, delivered a garbled serpents n' brimstone prayer designed not merely to help her leap from Mayor of Nowheresville to perky gubernatorial fireplug, only to later become, thanks to McCain's appalling judgment, the most insulting caricature of female empowerment in modern history who, as the VP debate painfully revealed, still knows not a single substantive thing about American domestic or foreign policy, but also to protect her from that same silly/terrifying witchcraft I imagined in my youth.
So I'm sad, but not necessarily because Palin credits Muthee, who likes to ramble about "spiritual warfare" and "the python spirits," with helping her win the governorship, or even that Palin doubtlessly called upon those same kooky Wasilla extremists to protect her from demonic forces far more horrifying than witches -- like, say, condoms, or gay people, or Charles Darwin.
No, mostly I'm a bit sad because the real, true, lovely witches I now know are nothing like Palin and her clan imagine, and she might never know it -- or, better yet, get a chance to become one herself.
See, not only have I happily outgrown my 8-year-old's fear and ignorance and blind dependence on others Ð- priests, Bibles, departments of Homeland Security -- to tell me what I should be afraid of, or which gods I must kneel before, or how blessed I will be if I only turn off my brain and anesthetize my soul and send in my cash, but I've also learned a thing or two about paganism, Wicca, witchcraftery -Ð you know, all those juicy beliefs and practices that still give the evangelical set, as the late DFW might say, the howling fantods.
Is it worth setting the record straight? Pointing out how true 'n' deep witchcraftery has nothing to do with evil or Satan or excessive black eyeliner or sacrificing newborn babies while listening to Ministry and smoking cloves? That those who've taken up this most ancient and potent of callings actually study their enchanted craft for years and know more about, say, the cycles of the moon and the body and the rhythms of the planet than Sarah Palin's most secretest pagan fever dream could ever conjure?
Really, the irony of this whole affair is just too tasty to pass up. Because real witches are, of course, all about self-determination, complete spiritual freedom, and are often practiced in the innate magic of the earth, the body, the self. Most follow no particular deity or dogma, though that's entirely optional (you can be a witch and a Christian, for example). Truth is, it's too bad Palin's not a witch herself. She'd be so much more interesting. And, you know, useful.
Hell, I know a number of happy, accomplished, practicing witches at work and play in the normal world right this very minute, running errands and playing with their kids and texting their boyfriends, not a single one of whom is currently indulging in a ritualistic blood-drenched sex orgy at the feet of Lucifer. Wait, let me check Facebook ... nope, all normal.
As for the Wiccans, well, those witches are, of course, even more about nature and fertility and earthly ritual, a deep, life-affirming reverence for the cycles of life, for protecting the environment and celebrating the body, and it's all wrapped in a rather limitless chthonic self-determination and therapeutic ritual magick that's essentially the ideological opposite of what evangelical Christianity often wallows in. I mean, is it any wonder they're so terrified?
Ah, but Muthee and his clan are probably right about one thing: It's extremely likely that most Wiccans and witches of the world are, right this moment, holding all sorts of ceremonies and casting all sorts of spells against the idea of a Palinocracy, working hard to conjure great heaps of positive, divinely feminine energy so as to thwart the rise to power of this imposter female. Makes perfect sense, really.
After all, as any real witch knows, it's when you give the real demons of the world -- fear, intolerance, dogma, narrow-mindedness, ignorance, lack of choice, religious fanaticism -- too much sway, well, that's when all hell breaks loose.