I was diagnosed with PTSD on June 12, 2017. My college roommate had told me I had PTSD. At the time, both of us were going through a religious-nut phase. Well, she called it right!

On the way home from an appointment today, I read some Seventh Day Adventist stuff. I had a book with me as well, but I had read it several times before. I wanted something new to read. Besides, I’ve always been interested in other permutations of Xianity. The pamphlet said the same old boring BS about not questioning or being discouraged, that facing trials meant you were being tempered in your Xian life, and implied that constant trouble meant you were a genuine Xian. Yuck. Barf. Out of my hand and onto the seat next to me it went.

Tonight I watched Hellraiser: Inferno. I started out feeling nothing but contempt for the dirty cop protagonist. Towards the end, though, I started feeling like I was him, because he was being punished for his sins. I can relate to that, since I grew up fundy. When Pinhead told the cop he destroyed his own innocence and hurt others around him, I said, “Yes, we all do.” I also kept repeating stuff about sin and corruption. I was floating back into Xian brainwashing nonsense. I had to remind myself that it was only a movie and that I was in my bedroom and that Pinhead was played by an actor, not a real entity.

Then I went to take a bath and had to sing the song I learned at PantheaCon in 2015.

It’s wonderful to be alive

My hear is full of miracles

Love blossoms in my wake

And everything is possible

My hands are ready

My heart is bright

With focused intent I ignite my light

With greatest joy I craft anew

The world that comes into my view

As process is the pleasure

So practice is the measure

I embrace my growing still

Good for all, none for ill.

 

Blessed Be!

 

I had to keep singing that song over and over until I was through with my bath. I need to go to the library and get out some new books so I am not tempted to read religious rot ever again. That makes my PTSD act up.

 

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I remember hearing the story of Martha and Mary, two sisters who were honored with Jesus’ visit. Martha rushed around, busily cooking and cleaning, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to his teachings. Martha, naturally, complained to Jesus that her sister was sticking her with all the work and said, “Make her come and help me!” Jesus told Martha she was trying too hard and Mary was doing the right thing by sitting and listening to him. The traditional lesson from this story is that it is better to attend to the things of the spirit than the things of the world, etc.

I now see this story in a new light. My spouse often complains I don’t listen to her enough and often rush away to empty the trash or do some other chore. I panic when the chores pile up and feel like I have to do them NOW or disaster will happen. Instead, my spouse wants me to sit quietly and listen to her, as Mary did with Jesus.

My spouse is not a deity, prophet, or anything of that sort. However, her love language seems to be respect. She perceives it as disrespectful when I pay more attention to the chores than to her. Therefore, my first priority should be to sit quietly and listen to her. After all, the chores will always be there, but she will someday die. My time with her is limited, so I need to honor her now. When she does not need me to listen to her, I can do my chores.

I have known New Agers and Satanists and have even had friends in both camps. As philosophies go, however, both are extremely distasteful, even tedious, to me.

New Agers, with their denial of evil and, often, of their own dark sides, make me sneeze. ūüôā That is without their more obvious departures from reality, such as their insistence that bad things only happen to those who aren’t positive enough. Seriously, I have read their sites online and they have been so arrogant and heartless as to blame Holocaust and natural disaster victims for their own misfortune.

Satanists are a different case. The atheist Satanists, including The Satanic Temple, have done good work to advance religious freedom for all and keep would-be theocrats in check. Satanism is a clever way to gain publicity for their cause.

As for the types who seem to actually worship Satan…from what I have observed, they either are nice people who practice their faith and keep to themselves….or things take a turn for the worse.

It is the latter group I am discussing. I have not met any of them, except for a fifteen-year-old nuisance at a long-ago party who would not shut up about waving the Satanic Bible in people’s faces at the mall. I quickly cornered said kid and started making up a fake chant involving Bible camp songs and made-up nonsense from Tolkien. It helped that I was about six inches taller than the twerp and wearing a long white dress that day. He screamed “NO!” and shut his face after that.

No, it wasn’t nice. But afterwards one person thanked me for shutting him down and another person said what I did was funny, so I was not the only one sick of the brat’s yapping about the Devil.

Anyway. As tedious as that kid was, imagine entire websites/YouTube videos going on and on and on about black magick and how EVIL they are. Y-A-W-N. Yes, you are shocking your parents. Good for you. Yes, you are so GRIM and DARK. You’re boring me – and by ignoring the positive altogether, you guys are just as unbalanced and tedious as the New Agers.

 

 

 

When I was sixteen, I read some dating advice from a Xtian teen magazine my grandma had gotten me. (Xtian teen magazine. From my grandma. Two strikes against it already, right? Teenage me didn’t know any better, unfortunately.)

It actually told its readers to, “Forget about Prince Charming. Just concentrate on being the perfect princess and God will send you the right man.”¬† What the actual barf? First of all, condescending much? The advice was given to teens, not five-year-olds. Second of all, it was a¬†lie.¬†The takeaway I got was to focus on improving myself – good. However, I also got the bright idea to not worry about what the guy had to offer. That led to some – interesting – boyfriends later on in life.

Also in my teens, I read the¬†Reader’s Digest.¬† It said that in marriage “passion is the elevator.” In other words, passion was a mere frippery, something that was a distraction from Real Love and Lasting Marriage.¬† Certainly something not to be paid attention to. Again, I took that to heart, leading me to ignore physical attraction entirely in my choice of marriage partner. This caused serious pain for both of us and ended up in divorce. (Seriously, teenage me??? Why were you reading stuff that’s meant for people your grandparents’ age???)

 

Come to me at the bus stop, ask if you can pay my fare, and then hand me $20. This actually happened today! Bless the nice man who did that! I said, “Thank you!” He said, “Thank God!” and got in his car and drove away.

 

 

(NOTE: All names have been changed to protect privacy.)

In April 2015, Sophia opened her mail and found a package. Inside was a blue glass butt plug. Terror froze her heart as she realized she had a stalker: a fellow OTO member named Mona.

Mona had come into the lodge in 2014, announcing to all and sundry: “I’m so horny! I can’t wait to f$@% in the Gnostic Mass!” Those were literally her first words. All present were disgusted. Disgust turned to loathing as Mona began to strip. As if that wasn’t enough, Mona then sat in the Mass and stared constantly at Sophia the whole time, grinning at her with a smile like a skull. Sophia, a pretty and¬†classy woman of color, was terrified and wondered what she had done to cause this treatment.

Once again, Sophia felt violated and defiled as she looked at the obscene object. She went online and called the post office to trace the address on the package. It had come from another country, so Sophia could not obtain further information from the post office. Sophia knew it was from Mona, because she had not worked for fifteen years and had made no enemies outside of work. She was also not on any social media, and had not been for years, which ruled out online harassment. Only Mona of the creepy smile and staring eyes could have sent such a thing to her.

Sophia’s mental and physical health suffered. She developed insomnia and the little sleep she could snatch was plagued by constant nightmares of stalking and violence. She spent days at a time feverishly searching for information on stalking. In her research, she learned that going to the police would be useless, because they would not be able to do anything and/or not take her seriously. In her anxiety and desperation, she turned to the one place she thought could help her. She would soon be in for a rude awakening.

She told the leadership at her local OTO¬†lodge about the butt plug. They took her into a private room and she showed them the object. Ashley, the lodge secretary, laughed and said, “I think Mona has a little crush on you!” The bodymaster, Eddie, also dismissed Sophia’s complaints with a contemptuous laugh. Only Patty and Mike, the lodge’s resident bishops, seemed to have any sympathy. Even this little bit of compassion was marred by Patty’s thoughtless comment, “This looks really expensive! It’s pretty!” The all-white leadership did not take her fear seriously, dismissing her as an “angry black woman.”

A short time later, Ashely e-mailed Sophia a nasty note accusing her of spreading rumors because she had told her friends in the lodge about the stalking and butt plug. “Mona’s your sister, too. She has a right to be here,” Ashley said. Attached was a PDF detailing something called “The Path of Mediation.” Sophia opened the attachment.

The document was a masterpiece of victim-blaming and organizational ass-covering dressed up as a professional attempt to keep peace within the OTO. Included were instructions such as “Look at your part to see what role you played. See how you contributed to the problem.”

At that point, Sophia had had enough. She wrote a polite but frosty reply to Ashley stating that she was the victim, not Mona. The next day at the lodge, Ashley gave Sophia a condescending pat on the head, as if Sophia were a dog. She also stepped in front of Sophia and gave her an unasked-for hug, blocking her way. Ashley asked her how she was feeling.

“How do you think I am?” Sophia replied.

Ashley finally had the sense to realize she had done something wrong and backed off.

Meanwhile, Mona’s odd behavior continued unabated. On one occasion, she lowered her head and ran towards Sophia in the “charge” position, as if she were a quarterback making a touchdown. Only another member’s jumping up to block Mona kept¬†her from grabbing Sophia.¬†When¬†asked to explain her actions, Mona¬†replied, “I was just saying goodbye to Steve.” Mona and Steve were not friends. Indeed,¬†like¬†most of¬†the lodge, Steve could not stand her.

Patty¬†also told Sophia she had received another complaint about Mona from another member. It was revealed later that Mona allegedly pushed a man into the lodge bathroom, locked the door, and said, “My breasts are so big! I need you to milk them for me!” Mona then sexually assaulted the man. No investigation was done into this serious allegation of sexual abuse in the OTO lodge. Instead, Mona was allowed to carry on as usual.

Sophia had no other recourse but to ask Ed for permission to talk to Mona in the private room. Eddie gave her permission, but told her “don’t beat up Mona in the lodge” in a stunning display of racism, assuming Sophia was the stereotypical “ghetto black woman” despite Sophia’s well-spoken eloquence, intelligence, and dignity.

A few weeks later in June 2015, Sophia took Mona into the private room and called her out for her egregious misbehavior. In a low but icy voice, she enumerated Mona’s misdeeds one by one. Mona tried to deny stalking Sophia, but in the end, she could only bow her head in submission as she admitted her crimes.

A short time later, Sophia formally resigned from the OTO. Mona also left the lodge, not to return until the following year.

Mona’s stalking of Sophia was not the only violation of consent that did not go unpunished.¬†On July 9, 2016,¬† during a workshop in Enochian magick, a lodge officer named Madison allegedly told a young man named Franklin she needed to talk to him, took him by the hand, and led him outside the lodge. She then offered to perform oral sex on¬†Franklin in the elevator. Of course, Madison was not sanctioned for her harassment of younger members.

Thelema is supposed to be sex-positive and tolerating of all forms of sexual conduct. This is implied in the creed, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under Will.” As illustrated in the above account, the OTO does not practice what it preaches. Sexual harassment and stalking are openly tolerated in the OTO. These violations of members’ will are routinely covered up and the victims silenced, because “love under will” means “party 24/7” to the leadership. It is routine for people to openly have sex in the lodge and discuss their sex lives for hours on end, not to mention drinking to the point of intoxication. As long as the party never ends, what are a few assault and stalking victims?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am feeling a lot of pressure inside to be quiet. My emotional intelligence is not very high. If I offend someone, I know the best way to restore harmony is to apologize for offending the other person and then be careful forever after what I say around them. 

Niceness is my main social currency. My main criteria for saying something is, “Is it agreeable to others?” If so, I can go ahead and say it. If not, I will wait until I am around like-minded people before saying it. I withhold pieces of myself, saying certain things to some people and not others. Other people will hear different things that I won’t say to some people. I have different friends who I express different sides of myself with.¬†

Authenticity is overrated in my world. It is a privilege that only the few can enjoy.

 

When I was eighteen, I got saved for the twenty-first time. I went to some Christian concert and they had an altar call. They said something I had never heard before; If you don’t repent, you are not saved. I had said the sinners’ prayer before, but I had never consciously turned away from my sins, whatever those were. (As a very sheltered teen, I spent almost all my time in school, church, and extracurricular activities, plus I had hours of homework every night. I did not have the time to get in trouble at all trivial.)¬†

Cue me freaking out about hellfire and dalmatians. I got saved (again), went back to my dorm room, and threw all my rock music down the trash chute across the hall. Three dozen cassette tapes got thrown away that night. A bit later, some lady came to our youth group and said if you were pro-choice, you weren’t Christian (and therefore, would burn forever and ever in hell).¬†

I had always been moderately Democratic in my political leanings, such as they were, but I now was forced to engage in doublethink to convince myself I was a Republican. I thought that being Christian meant I had to agree with whatever these people said and believed. I was young and not dumb, but my brain was numb with fear. All the morality plays and Puritan literature I had to read as an English major only made the religious mania worse.

The lid began to be unscrewed in my junior year of college, when my then-fiance and I interviewed L7 at Hammerjack’s. They put down Domino’s Pizza because they were anti-choice – and I found myself agreeing with them. The first doubts had been planted.

A year later, I was at an SCA party and tried to witness to a couple about being born again. To make a long story short, it completely backfired and I got deconverted from the whole born-again thing instead. 

The aftereffects of the indoctrination still bug me, eighteen years later. I only notice them when I am stressed. I spent most of this past summer convinced the Universe was going to punish me because I took too much pride in winning an award at work. My performance started to decline, and I took that as a signal that I was being punished for being proud of winning the award. I lived in terror that something horrible would happen because the Gods had appointed my employer as a divine authority over me and I was disappointing them by not pleasing my employer. (Don’t even ask where that one came from – I’m guessing something along the lines of obeying the civil authorities, since they are ordained by God).¬†

After two months of this, a friend recommended that I read Edmund Cohen’s The Mind of the Bible Believer. The book promises to explain how evangelicals tick and how the mind-control system works.¬†

I am about halfway through the book and it is very fascinating. I’ll be sharing insights I glean from the book, as well as other things I learn as I rip the toxic programming from my soul.