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The New Blood Libel

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on October 30, 2010 | Comments (0)

In the early days of Christianity, the Romans accused Christians of cannibalism.

The early Christians (like contemporary Roman Catholics) believe in transubstantiation, the idea that the wine and bread of the eucharist actually turn into the blood and flesh of their deity, Jesus Christ. Since Jesus was also a man, it followed that the Christians were eating humans and drinking their blood in religious rites. This helped excuse Roman persecution of Christians (which officially ran from 64 c.e. under Nero to 313 c.e. and the Edict of Milan).

Thousands of Jews were murdered in Alexandria in 38 c.e. by people believing that the Jews were killing and eating Greeks, but it was actually the middle ages when the “blood libel”—that Jews killed Christian infants and used their blood in the special matzoh bread eaten at Passover—became a popular European meme. Because the Jews acted and dressed differently from those in the European mainstream, they became the victims of persecution (now called antisemitism) justified by this lie against them. This false claim against Jews is believed by many, even today, and is still used to justify hatred, antisemitism, and persecution.

According to Wikipedia (a good place to start research; a bad place to end), the blood libel is a false claim that a religious minority (almost always the Jews) murders children and uses the blood in religious rites.

The blood libel isn’t limited to Jews any more.

In Jason Pitzi-Waters’ excellent blog, The Wild Hunt, Jason reveals that Pagans and Wiccans are now accused of massive child “murder” in the form of abortion. Jason reports that a Washington, D.C., Republican Congressional Delegate candidate said in an interview:

“Many of the employees of Planned Parenthood and abortion mills, the actual killing centers, the employees are actual witches. They belong to Wiccan and there’s nothing more valuable to Satan than the blood of innocent babies.”

Naturally, there is not one whit of proof given to support this claim. I looked at several websites making this type of claim (one said that an unnamed clinic for women, called an “abortion clinic,” was owned by a Wiccan) and all of the claims of this sort had no documentation and included friend-of-a-friend, urban myth types of stories that were simply accepted as factually true.

I don’t know if there are Wiccans working at or owning medical clinics focused on women’s needs. I imagine there might be a few. As readers of this blog probably know, Wiccans, Witches, Pagans, Heathens, and various magickal folk have all sorts of opinions on abortion (Aleister Crowley, for example, was strongly against it). So where does this fantasy, this blood libel against Pagans come from?

IROBs & TFYQA

IROB: “I Read One Book” and now I’m an expert
TFYQA: Think for yourself. Question authority.

Have you heard of Ginette Paris? She’s at the center of the libel. No? Haven’t heard of her?

She’s has a Ph.D. and is a psychologist, therapist, and writer. Still haven’t heard of her?

She teaches archetypal and depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Surely you’ve heard of her now. No?

She’s written several books including Pagan Grace and Pagan Meditations which her publisher describes these as “archetypal psychology” books. Still no?

Well, this out-of-the-Pagan-mainstream author wrote a tiny book (just 72 pages) called The Psychology of Abortion. When it was originally published in 1992 is was titled The Sacrament of Abortion. The concept of this one book by one author who is not part of the Pagan mainstream is that abortion can be seen as a sacred act, a sacrifice to Artemis.

As the new title of the second edition indicates, this is a psychology book. The goal is to help women (and men) come to terms with the difficult decision to have an abortion.

While I have no doubt that this was well meant, I don’t think that it was well thought out on a sociological level. There are some people who will use anything against people of other religions, and as Jason points out in his blog, among “hardcore anti-abortion groups… [there is] a near-obsession” with this “obscure book.”

So those who are strongly anti-abortion, and most often very conservative Christians, act as IROBs. They find this one, tiny, out-of-the-mainstream book, and accuse all Pagans of the blood libel.

I find it sadly ironic that the blood libel used falsely to persecute the minority Christian religion centuries ago is now used by some Christians to falsely persecute and accuse other minority religions.

When I give workshops, I begin by writing TFYQA in large letters and explain that it means we should always check sources. I would hope that our Christian brothers and sisters would TFYQA, even among their own leaders. The blood libel used against Christians, Jews, or Pagans is a lie, believed only to persecute those considered different.

Isn’t it time for this to end?

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