Risible but not funny

I wrote some time ago that that Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams may soon want to issue a document Romanorum coetibus whereby he would create a safe haven in the very loose Anglican embrace for the editor and readers of The Tablet and NCR, at their request mind you.  In that safe haven, they would be able to keep their now traditional pottery cups, big puppets, out of tune guitars and the ICEL translation presently in use, as well as gain the long-desired free election of bishopesses.  All without the spirit-repressing domination of Rome!

Now from Fr. Longenecker’s blog Standing On My Head we have this:

Just up the road in Asheville it seems the Episcopalians are welcoming witches onto their property to celebrate the Spring equinox together. The original news story is here and Midwest Conservative Journal waxes eloquent here.

As it happens Asheville witch Byron Ballard is cousin to a very good friend of ours who lives here in Greenville. What a small world it is! I hasten to add that our friend is a very good Catholic. No bedknobs and broomsticks or wicked old Wicca here, I can assure you.

Of course it is rather easy to poke fun at aging ladies in flowing robes and dangly earrings lighting candles and dancing around in a circle to celebrate the flowering of mother earth, and the Episcopal Church is an easy target for such ridicule, but we ought to stop chortling for a moment and realize that the witchy folks are very serious about their witchcraft, and while ridicule is one response we should remember that any sort of dabbling in the occult opens one to demonic infestation. All the literature on the deliverance ministry affirms that the easiest way to pick up a nasty spirit is through intentional occult activity. […]


Read the rest over there.

But note that, even while this is risible, there is little that is funny about it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. dcs says:

    Odd how they use a St. Brigid’s Cross…

  2. AnAmericanMother says:

    Dear me yes.

    This stuff is real, and it’s dangerous.

    A good old friend of many, many years standing is a Third Degree Priestess. Thankfully she is out of the coven that she belonged to and is now a “solitary”. Maybe we can edge her into Christianity with a few more years.

    Her father was a howling atheist and her mother was an agnostic (probably in self defense). Raise your kids in the faith, folks!

  3. lofstrr says:

    And the rituals are happening IN a church with permission. Even if it is an episcopal church. What demon wont relish the opportunity to a foothold in such a place and the chance to influence those who spend time there.

  4. This is no laughing matter.
    It’s dead serious.
    You call upon “alien spirits” and they’ll come…oh, yeah, they’ll come.
    Just as a blessing confers spiritual benefits, the calling upon evil (alien) spirits will do the same, only with malice, confusion, darkness, sin and complete separation from God.
    Spring equinox?
    How’s about the Easter Vigil, gals?
    At least the fire won’t be eternal and it will actually give you some Light/Truth!

  5. TNCath says:

    Creepy stuff. St. Brigid’s cross was the first thing I saw. Very scary.

  6. And, yeah, TNCath, using St. Brigid’s cross…an abomination.
    Somehow these “New Age” folks find St. Brigid to be one of “their own”…even a feminist icon.
    I don’t think so.
    She must be very not “amused”.
    To say the least:<)!

  7. Maltese says:

    *In that safe haven, they would be able to keep their now traditional pottery cups, big puppets, out of tune guitars and the ICEL translation presently in use, as well as gain the long-desired free election of bishopesses. All without the spirit-repressing domination of Rome!*


    A friend of mine, no joke, went to a service at an anglican church in Los Angeles, and the lesbian bishopette said she had something “special,” to show the, mostly, lesbians in attendance; and she pulled out the “host” which she had just “consecrated,” and it was a loaf of bread baked in the form of “69,” and she held it aloft, and all applauded!

    This is a true story, but it serves to show how far depravity can rise absent the sobering influence of a structural Church with strictures.

  8. Maltese says:

    As an aside, St. Lawrence Basilica in Asheville is one of the prettiest Cathedrals in America, and one of only fifty or so Basilicas:


    It’s amazing how some of the most statistically liberal cities engender, also, some of the greatest Catholics; some cities I know of from personal experience: Santa Fe, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. I have friends in all of those cities except New Orleans (but have spent time there, and keep yearning to go back) and lived for many years in Santa Fe.

    These cities are all wonderful because they were once ardently Catholic; Asheville, too, has that remnant Catholic feel at her great Basilica! Like Bing Crosby said: “Accentuate the Positive!”

  9. Maltese: That story you recount is, indeed, horrendous.
    The Lord Jesus is so much offended by the ingratitude, coldness, and neglect of His own.
    But when this happens, in the context of a “Christian” rite, what on earth is going on here?
    I can only think of diabolical influence and the absolute hatred of Satan for anything that has anything to do with the Son of God, the Incarnate Word, made Flesh, come to earth to die for our sins.

  10. TJerome says:

    How sad. Although the Episcopal Church is missing the fullness of the true Church, the Catholic Church, this story shows how the Episcopal Church has hit a new low.

  11. PostCatholic says:

    Of course, that’s not the Anglican cathedral but a Unitarian Universalist worship space in the photo. One can tell by the Flaming Chalice device on the wall, and one which is being lit by a participant. It looks to me like it was taken during some sort of neo-pagan themed service, given the St. Brigid’s crosses. Perhaps Samhain? Who knows. In any event, I think it rather silly.

  12. PostCatholic says:

    Indeed… Here’s the original caption to the photo.

    Wiccan priestess Byron Ballard watches as people light candles at the altar after her recent presentation about Irish saint and priestess Brigid at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Black Mountain. Ballard will lead a spring equinox celebration at 7 p.m. Saturday at All Souls Episcopal Church in Biltmore Village. (Steve Dixon/sdixon@citizen-times.com)

  13. Gail F says:

    The story does not make it clear whether the group merely rented the parish hall or is there on the approval/invitation/sponsorship of the Anglican Church. There may be some sort of law that the church can’t refuse to rent to anyone. We are talking TEC, I know, but still we should give them the benefit of the doubt. The Catholic university around here sometimes rents to wacky spiritual groups and sometimes sponsors them — not always both.

    As far as the “ecumenical” group itself goes — that is hilarious. The Wiccan woman running it says it’s not a Wiccan ceremony, but an ecumenical one for people of all faiths to worship the goddess. Now that’s a definition of “ecumenical” that I’ve never heard before. And while Fr. L is correct to say that any and all occult activity can open one up to demonic influence, that influence seems to content itself most of the time with making people full of self-importance and silliness instead of faith. And that seems quite enough to keep them away from God.

    My favorite sentence: “The celebration will consist of raising a circle, singing, “whistling up the wind” and flying prayers written on paper airplanes.” Silliness indeed.

  14. lux_perpetua says:

    oh my. this was by far my favorite comment on the news story page

    “For me the concept of holy trinity would make much more sense with a father (God), child (Jesus), and mother (earth) rather than a ghost. Recognizing and celebrating the power of the natural world is not against the teachings of the Bible; take part in what aspects you admire and dismiss what you don’t. That’s the key to open-mindedness, and their invitation to all seems a bit more open-minded than anything these so-called “christians” are spewing off about.”

    how ludicrously misinformed, ignorant, and dangerous. Thank God i now know the “key to open-mindedness”.

  15. irishgirl says:

    I did see the St. Brigid cross in the picture-horrors!

    If I were there, I would have rushed in, snatched the cross, and slapped those foolish women silly!

    They had a lot of chutzpah to do this!

  16. Eric says:

    I went to college in that part of the country.
    I ran into a group of witches/satan worshipers (i didn’t stick around to ask which ((excuse the pun))) when I took a wrong turn down a dirt logging road in the middle of Pisgah national forest about 2 a.m. one dark morning.
    At 19 years old I wasn’t afraid of much, but a large group of black and red hooded people dancing around a bon fire wasn’t who I wanted to see at that place and that time.

  17. Scott W. says:

    The Wiccan woman running it says it’s not a Wiccan ceremony, but an ecumenical one for people of all faiths to worship the goddess. Now that’s a definition of “ecumenical” that I’ve never heard before.

    Indeed. As I mentioned elsewhere, “Mother Grove ‘isn’t a wiccan group, though some of us are wiccans’” is a real howler like saying, “Cross Burnings International isn’t a Klan group, though some of us are Klansmen.” Or, “Catholics for a Free Choice isn’t a Planned Parenthood group, though some of us are PP employees.”

  18. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    This is one of the reasons why many people resist the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, because of all this witchy, she-god, goddess worship crap, among other things, that often goes with it.

  19. jaykay says:

    Yes, the wholesale appropriation of St. Brigid of Kildare by the wiccan moonbats really riles this
    Irishman! Honestly, not 1 but 2 St. Brigid’s crosses on their “altar”. It’s like those “altars” they have in the voodoo temples, all crowded with pictures (of misappropriated Christian saints) and other stuff – looks like a display in a 3rd-rate junkshop. Which in a sense is probably an outer reflection of their inner confusion. Like children playing: heap it on, the more the merrier. Except these adult children really are playing with fire, as Fr. L remarks.

  20. Tradster says:

    Which convent is this in?

  21. chironomo says:

    I recall seeing the advertisements for the Wiccan equinox festivals at the Unitarian Church in Salem MA. Now THAT’S Unitarian!!

  22. irishgirl says:

    ‘moonbats’-good one, jaykay!

  23. jaykay says:

    Just to explain, comment about “wiccan moonbats” refers to the Wicca crowd in general, not to these particular ladies. A simple Google search on “St. Brigid” brings up an overwhelming preponderance of the “Brigid-the-pagan-goddess/priestess/whatever-appropriated-by-the-evil-male-Church” shtick. Tell a lie, shout it enough times and it becomes their truth… :(

  24. PostCatholic says:

    I recall seeing the advertisements for the Wiccan equinox festivals at the Unitarian Church in Salem MA. Now THAT’S Unitarian!!

    I think most Unitarian Universalists (myself included) view neo-paganism and Wicca as a bit weak-minded. But our congregations covenant to “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning,” and to the extent they’re “responsible” as the congregation defines that, they’re welcome.

  25. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    The article reminds me of some years back, when Matthew Fox used Hildegarde of Bingen as his “poster child” for his agenda, and how some have used St. Brigid as theirs, particularly in terms of ordination of women. People have done the same with Francis of Assisi, making him the “ecology saint,” or whatever. My wife and I stopped getting a particular catalogue put out by an order of nuns in the US, because they were dangerously approaching the realm of paganism. What’s dangerous, among other things, is that people will use Christian imagery to push their program, and do it in a subtle way, as if we’re too damned stupid to figure out what’s going on.

  26. adeodatus49 says:

    Are you sure only or predominantly aging ladies are into this stuff? If so, then it will die out naturally.

  27. Scott W. says:

    Are you sure only or predominantly aging ladies are into this stuff? If so, then it will die out naturally.

    Pretty darn sure actually. And while yes, the tick-tock solution is coming, there is still an awful lot of damage that they and their abettors can do. Or, ask not for whom the bell tolls, the church with the bell was closed down last Thursday. The Diocese of Rochester is a textbook case of dissenters practicing a Scorched Earth policy.

  28. Scott W. says:

    Actually, I thought you were referring to the woman priest thing rather than the wicca New Age stuff. If not, sorry for any confusion. As far as New Age appealing only to the aging hippies, I’m not sure. There seems to be an upswing in non-Christian stuff in the media. I remember when the occult book section of a bookstore was one, maybe two shelves. Now it’s one or two rows. Whether this translates into more hard practitioners or just alot of curious dabblers I don’t know.

  29. Jordanes says:

    jaykay said: Yes, the wholesale appropriation of St. Brigid of Kildare by the wiccan moonbats really riles this Irishman!

    I suppose they’re glomming onto St. Brigid due to their belief in the “hypothesis” that St. Brigid was invented by the Catholic Church, and was nothing more than an appropriation and Christianisation of an alleged pagan goddess named Brigid. Coopting and subverting Christian traditions is a common tactic of neopagan cultists.

  30. jaykay says:

    Jordanes… yes you said it exactly. I come from an area in Ireland with an active devotion to the real St. Brigid. One of the genuine sites of her activity is close to where I live. Its called Faughert and theres a procession there and devotions every year on her feast on 2nd February. So this pagan stuff really annoys me soooo much.

  31. irishgirl says:

    Not only is St. Brigid expropriated by witches-so has St. Joan of Arc.

    I have a CD of ‘Voices of Light’ by Richard Einhorn. He composed this oratorio after viewing the 1920s silent film, ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’ by Carl Theodor Dreier. In the liner notes for the CD, there was mention that St. Joan is ‘honored’ (!)-I’m not sure if this is the right word-as a powerful witch among European covens.

    When I read that, I was shocked!

  32. chironomo says:


    While I certainly can’t agree with the views of Wicca, I wasn’t trying to be derogatory of the Universalists (when I lived in MA I had a great many neighbors who were UU’s). I was more making note that such things are not so uncommon in particular parts of the country where Wicca is a very dominant point of view (such as in Salem MA!)

  33. chironomo says:

    Just as a side note….notice how close the words “Convent” and “Coven” are….Hmmm…makes you wonder…

  34. jaykay says:

    Huh! The feast is Feb 1st and the shrine is Faughart. Mobile browsers!

  35. MAJ Tony says:

    @Subdeacon Joseph: Thanks for introducing me to a term I was unfamiliar with “Papa Rimski” (Roman Pope). In trying to figure out WHAT that term was, I found a very good pdf file that explains pronunciation of Eastern European languages (mostly Polish, but also Hungarian, Czech, and Slovak).

    Mutilation: the Fate of Eastern European Names
    in America
    by William F. Hoffman, Polish Genealogical Society of America (pgsa.org)

    There’s a joke about Wicca as being “the religion for nerds” but I have to ask what did nerds do to deserve being relegated to being the butt of a Wicca joke? Frankly, having had a couple of them under my command (one male, one female, two different units in the same town) I’ve found from my anecdotal evidence that Wiccans are generally oddballs and/or outcasts. I don’t know if oddballs and outcasts are attracted to Wicca, or if Wicca turns people into oddballs and outcasts (chicken or egg). I suspect it’s a both-and issue.

  36. PostCatholic says:

    Thank you for your clarification, chironomo. My sister and her family actually just moved from Salem a month ago to another MA community, and I’ve certainly seen the pagan/occult/fantasy/costume stores all over that city. But having spent a lot of time in that community, I don’t think you could call Wicca a dominant viewpoint there so much as a one of the dominant commercial opportunities.

    I personally don’t think Wicca provides any great opportunities for demonic possession or devil worship (partly because Wiccans tell me that’s not what they’re about but mostly because I do not believe in such nonsense) but I do think it’s profoundly silly and grasping at straws when it tries to connect St. Brigid with Brigid the Celtic goddess as anything more than a namesake.

  37. Re: St. Joan of Arc

    The English, in the tradition of many men beaten soundly by military women, called her a witch. Witchcraft was one of the charges floated at Rouen. Shakespeare portrayed Joan as a witch and villainess. So yes, it’s stupid and shocking, but it’s a traditional stupid.

    Re: etymology

    “Coven” is just a variant of Middle English “covent”. “Convent” is just a variant of “covent”, too. Both terms are derived from the Latin “convenire”, ‘come together’. It’s yet another post-Henry VIII slur on nuns and monks, since that’s when the Scottish started using the expression; though apparently even the Scottish didn’t use it much until Sir Walter Scott used it in a novel.

  38. bookworm says:

    “There’s a joke about Wicca as being “the religion for nerds””

    If by “nerds” you mean people who very likely have at least a mild form of Asperger Syndrome, my guess is that they are probably attracted to Wicca for the same reasons they tend to be attracted to things like D&D and other role-playing games, sci-fi/fantasy books and movies, Renassiance fairs, Civil War and other historical reenactments, computer gaming, and other esoteric or arcane interests. They crave structure and predictability, clear rules for what to do and not do, and an environment in which their “geekiness” is embraced or at least tolerated rather than being ridiculed.

    However, I suspect that there are also many “nerds” who are equally attracted to traditionalist forms of Christianity for the same reasons. In fact I would not be surprised at all to see “nerds” turning up at EF Masses.

  39. Jordanes says:

    PostCatholic said: mostly because I do not believe in such nonsense

    “That nonsense” most certainly believes in you, though.

    Prayers for your repentance and your return to Faith.

  40. MAJ Tony says:

    @bookworm It may not be readily apparent, as you wouldn’t necessarily look at me, observe me, and say “nerd” but I’m an EF “nerd” or a “nerd” who loves the EF. Don’t have even a mild form of Asperger Syndrome. I try to maintain some sense of style, not wanting to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, despite the incessant purchasing of a semi-clueless mother (she’s gotten better over the years). Maybe that’s why I joined the Army: everybody wears the same drab uniforms every day. The new “not-so-universal” camouflage ones you don’t even have to iron, and starch: verboten. Just damp-dry them and hang ’em.

  41. AnAmericanMother says:

    Major, I greeted the switch to BDUs with great relief.

    I used to have to boil starch on the stove and starch my hubby’s ODs so that you could lean them up in the corner (and produce the dreaded “shark fins”). The laundry here could not get them starched enough to suit him.

    We have a whole family tree of nerds. My son joined the Marines, which just goes to show I guess.

  42. catholicmidwest says:

    You, PostCatholic, are a Unitarian Universalist? That explains a lot.

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