Christine O’Donnell apparently thinks the way to win the hearts of the conservative base is to continue to try and spin (nay, backpedal on) the outrageous statements she made about “dabbling in witchcraft” when she was in high school.
Her most recent video to go viral was one she had made as a political ad. And once again, she doesn't appear to think that offending the many thousands (millions?) of people who practice modern witchcraft or other nature-based spiritualities is a problem. Apparently, we are simply not people who are anywhere near her calibre of human being.
The blogosphere, pagan and otherwise, is full of commentary on the fallout of her first series of unfortunate remarks, made during an appearance on Bill Maher’s ABC show “Politically Incorrect” in the late 1990s. She claimed to have had a picnic on a “satanic altar” while out on a date. Of course, her remarks were clearly an opportunity for her to condemn modern paganism and reveal her titillating insider secrets (“You can’t make this stuff up! I know what these people say they do!”)
O’Donnell was a frequent guest on Maher’s show, especially around Hallowe’en, since she often had entertaining things to say about the occult. My personal favorite was her pronouncement (unchallenged by other guests or Maher) that the origin of trick or treat lay in the custom of the druids, who “would go door to door looking for a human sacrifice.” That is verbatim, folks. Given the recent recognition of druidry as a legitimate religion by the British government, I am fervently wishing for Maher to unearth that video clip and share it with the world.
Personally, I think this painting is where she came up with that lame-brained image:
Apparently some ultra-Christian websites such as Jesuswalk like to refer to it from time to time. O'Donnell's grasp of history (or should that be art history?) is as nonexistent as her vaunted claim that she always tells the truth. What she doesn't seem to get is that we've all seen this before: the innocent Christian who, during some youthful phase of rebellion, hung around with "real" witches or satan-worshippers, only to reject their evil ways, but not before she got a big eyeful of the naked midnight rituals complete with dancing goats, devilish orgies, and the sacrifice of innocent little babies on on satanic altars. (Because obviously, that's what witches do. Just ask Christine, who gets her history from fantastical pre-Raphaelite paintings.)
This "insider knowledge" is a tired old trick, utilized frequently during the height of the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare in the 1980s; talk show mavens like Oprah and Geraldo whipped audiences into a frenzy when they'd host guests who claimed to have seen every disgusting atrocity known to mankind, all perpetrated in the name of satan worship and witchcraft. Too bad the FBI never found a scrap of evidence to prove that children were being tortured or sacrificed in the name of Beezelebub, despite investigating such claims for years.
Christine O'Donnell is trading on the same methods because her followers, Tea Baggers who barely have a passing relationship with factual information, eat it up like miniature candy bars. Her scrubbed-face innocence (she's like a pious Rachael Ray) ensures people will forgive her youthful folly, and worship her for escaping the evil influence of witches like me, or you.
Many of us, as practicing neopagans, witches and druids, will no doubt become enraged by O'Donnel's ignorance and prejudice, by the news media's insensitivity as they, like her, continue to miss the point. Which is this: regardless of how unusual or "different" anyone thinks practitioners of witchcraft might be, we're still people. Our indignant response to the media's ridiculous and condescending attitude towards our beliefs and practices is entirely appropriate. We're not some fringe element living on the edge of society. We call ourselves witches, druids, neopagans, heathens and many other names, because this identifies our spiritual path. Like other spiritual people, we must live within the framework of contemporary society.
We have jobs, we raise families, we vote, we walk our dogs, we grow tomatoes, we pay taxes, we have gym memberships, we buy groceries, we visit Salem during October. Gods help us, we believe in evolution, and yes, we masturbate. We also believe in magic, and in the healing and awe-inspiring power and beauty of nature. We are teachers, firefighters, secretaries, chefs, accountants, personal trainers, doctors, lawyers, journalists. We're everywhere. We're you.