In Loving Memory -
Tempest Smith: A Pagan Martyr
I've read many articles about Tempest Smith, the 12-year-old female Wiccan who ended the pain earlier this year. Some of them paint her as just another goth, and others don't. They come from both the Pagan and Christian points of view.
What's sad is, Tempest didn't get too much attention. But why? So many people think this was just another teen suicide - another statistic on the book. She's a lot more than that to Pagans, though, and to me. She's a hero. A hero because she didn't take out half a school with bombs or guns - a hero because when she decided to check out, she did it herself. This is the Pagan path - Karma will punish the perps, not man (or woman).
Paganism is choice. The choice to be free, to excercise your rights under the U.S. Bill of Rights, and not to listen to other people's hullabaloo. The choice to steer your own ship in the waters of Life and the Universe, and not conform to other's standards. These rights she was exercising in being Pagan - and sadly enough, these rights she was exercising when she checked out.
Yeah yeah, I've heard the counter-arguments a million times - "She should've told someone." "She should've held out." Well, what if she did tell someone? What are her school's teachers and administrators going to think of her? I've known some that are so profane (in the religious sense, not cussing), that they'd suggest that she abandon her beliefs. But, who in the hell is going to abandon a belief that jives completely with their personal values? Take me for instance. I'm 17 years old, and I'm Pagan (Wiccan, in specific). In reality, though, I've been Pagan my whole life: I love animals, I believe in the psychic, trancendental and metaphysical, I'm an environmentalist, an equal-rights activist (in particular: anti-racist, feminist, advocate for the disabled, supporter of the gay rights movement [and no, I'm NOT gay], etc.), and I do everything I can to help people. Paganism just jives with me - and if she was willing to die for it, I'm pretty sure it jived with Tempest.
I've had quite a few tastes of the hate that Tempest drew up from her Christian counterparts. That hate is not limited to religion - it applies to everything from race, to weight, to the size of your nose. I remember the teasing I got from my peers, just because of the fact that I needed glasses. What the heck is a person supposed to do? Without glasses, some people can't read the big E on that chart. And if they get contacts? They'll just find something else - weight, acne, anything. I've even been discriminated against in teenage society because of my intelligence. They're not able to accept the fact that this real smart guy is trying to get along with them and be sweet to them - they reject him. But what really fuels this rejection? What fuels any bias? It's fear. They're afraid that I'll outpace them, or that I'll run mental circles around them.
I guess you could say the same thing for Wicca. Wiccans (along with some other alternative religions) are generally metaphysically/psychically superior than, say, their average Christian counterparts. Why is this? No, Wiccans really aren't superior per se; they just choose to develop that ability of their brains. Many other creeds supress it - they're afraid of it, or they think that metaphysical mental ability is "demonic."
According to the conservative Christian grandfather of a Wiccan Christian (yes, he's both) I know, there exists some all-telling old tome (a big book), which has all known churches, religions, cults, and occult factors in it. His twisted definition of "occult" is "that which is demonic." He thinks Tarot cards are of the devil. He also says that the tome lists the Mormon church as a cult: He says that when you get higher up in the Mormon church, you learn that "when you die, you go up to this planet. There, you [assuming you're male] will take several wives, and populate the planet with spiritual children." He says they assassinated the man who told him this.
It's people who follow other men blindly who hate people of other religions - perhaps some of the men they follow are as kooky as the man described above. Only when people learn to think with an open mind, and on their own, will they end this nightmare.
Nothing could've summed up the state of the world better than Star Wars - "Anger, fear, aggression - the dark side are they."
One thing was wrong in that movie, though - I think that people who've started down the dark side can be saved - and they, only they, can get it out of their destiny in the end.
Tempest was trying to find her own path to enlightenment; but it was cut short. Perhaps her death will have opened a few minds - maybe this page will open a few more.
I know your pain, Tempest - I wish it didn't have to end this way. But you will be remembered, and don't be surprised if you get stirred to one of my rituals, as an Ancestor...
Blessed Be, Tempest, and Merry Part. I hope the next life turns out better. Take your time in Summerland, though - you've taken a lot.