Thursday’s News & Reviews: Armageddon Preppers

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From infancy I was taught faithfulness above all else. As a dedicated member of the Watchtower Society, I was trained to accept counsel and direction without question. To question implied a weak faith and vulnerability to the Satanic trait of rebellion.

I remember the first time I chose to disagree with something published by Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s). It was 1999. A was laying in bed in a cute little house I rented on the west end of Bend, Oregon. The spring breezes were wafting in the window and stirring the drapes around me. I was reading an article in the latest Watchtower magazine, which discouraged permanent forms of birth control (i.e. vasectomies, tubal ligation, etc.). As a person who never wanted children I found this a veritable death sentence. I didn’t just not want kids. I hated the little buggers! To feel like I was being forced into motherhood was more than I could swallow. The foundation of my faith cracked that day–a profound, irrevocable fissure that would lead to more and more weakening of my faith until the structure finally crumbled.

Fast forward 10 years to 2009. I was attending a meeting at my local Kingdom Hall when I heard a talk on “Go-Bags.” These were handy little receptacles a “faithful” JW would keep packed with essentials in the likelihood of “natural disaster.” They should be kept handy in the trunk of the car in case of instant and life-threatening need. Water, flashlights, batteries, change of clothes, food, compass–whatever one might need in a natural disaster. This talk fell right on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, so it may sound logical to some. It wasn’t logical in Central Oregon. The only natural disaster that threatened that part of the country was volcanic, and it’s not like the Cascade mountains are known for blowing up without warning. (This article in no way discourages disaster preparedness. If you live in an area known for natural disasters, power outages, or extreme weather please make the necessary preparations to protect yourself and your family.)

My bullshit detector went off. I knew the JW “brothers” were intentionally avoiding the mention of Armageddon or the Great Tribulation by couching their warnings in terms like “natural disaster.” For the first time in history, JW’s were being encouraged to prepare for “the end of this system of things” by putting bottles of water and granola bars in backpacks. The brother on the stage even insinuated this was a matter of faith, and the faithful would obey without question.

My bullshit detector was screaming. I’m surprised no one else heard it. One brother did hear about it after the meeting.  I approached him and asked him why he thought we were in danger of hurricane in landlocked central Oregon. He told me any number of other disasters could happen: earthquake, flooding (in the desert?!), spontaneous volcanic explosion, etc.

Up until this point, we had always been trained to believe that Jehovah would protect his followers when Armageddon struck. I told this “brother” that I thought go-bags were showing a lack of faith in God and his ability to take care of his people. I was given a patronizing look that indicated I was a sister and needed to stop asking questions.

So I did the next logical thing: I went to my dad. He had always been my rock. He knew the bible backwards and forwards and had read every piece of literature published by the Watchtower society since the 1940s.

He agreed with me. It was a lack of faith and he felt it was a localized attempt on the part of some area brothers to force others to succumb to doomsday prepping ideals. The fact that dad was an ex-Mormon might have also contributed to his aversion to such an approach.

Dad died a year later, but I wonder if his faith would have survived the latest attempt by the JW’s to force people into fearful scenarios.

Recently, I saw a picture that was posted in the latest copy of the Watchtower. It can be seen above. It shows people hiding in a basement, and an unmistakable look of fear on a child’s face to indicate the gravity of the situation. Undoubtedly, they are hiding from the rampant anarchy taking place over their heads. I imagine sounds of helicopters, bombing air raids, the shrieks of the dying, and the pop of gunfire. I can imagine those sounds because they haunted my dreams as a child raised with images of Armageddon and torture.

I have recently been informed that JW’s are now required to select a safe place to flee to in time of “Natural disaster.” Once a family, or group, have selected their “place of refuge,” they are to report this to the local elders who make a written record and share it with the Circuit Overseer, who then passes it on to the headquarters. This isn’t just a whimsical fantasy to make easily impressionable people excited over the prospects of global annihilation. All JW’s are required to submit a written document of their chosen place of hiding. (Is anybody else seeing images of Jonestown right about now?)

I spent 38 years deeply entrenched in that religion. They’re not about to drink any Kool-Aid, in spite of what their actions may sometimes indicate. I see this as nothing more than another ploy to keep people unstable and afraid. A lot has happened in the last 100 years of that organization, except for the one thing millions of people have lived, and died, for: Armageddon. After more than 10 decades of promising that “Armageddon is just around the corner,” if the JW leaders didn’t find a new tactic for threat and rescue they would start losing credibility.

I have to say, it’s a pretty good scheme. Twenty years ago, I would have been eating this stuff up. It would be so exciting to imagine my flight to some wilderness as the world fell apart and billions died at the hand of God. But I know that religion, and I know those people. I would be willing to bet you money that many of them have already initiated their flight. Just as in 1975 when many of them quit school and sold their assets in hopes of the imminent arrival of Armageddon, I am sure many are repeating those same horrible mistakes. The Ebola outbreak; the riots; the extreme weather–some serious bridges are being burned right about now, all in the name of faith.

Keep your eyes open. You might see some houses go on the market in hopes of a quick sale. If you are in the janitorial field, you might be able to pick up some new accounts as JW’s flee the western world to live in caves and bomb shelters. The most positive aspect of all this? If they are in hiding, at least they’re not knocking on our doors.

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Diggin’ Up Bones

After my previous blog on the ego, I was reminded how powerless we can be before the onslaught of the ego and its demand for retribution and recognition. I was wandering around an auction house last Sunday waiting for the auctioneer to take his stand. I overheard a man a few feet away loudly expressing his opinion on every item he encountered to whomever was around him. I moved in the opposite direction because, as an introvert, I find people who talk for the sake of talking obnoxious.

I was reminded of an event that happened at a summer convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses I attended (around 2006) in Portland, Oregon. My brother, an extrovert and Pisces, was being his normal dramatic self and talking to my other brother, when a man with an “Attendant” badge stepped up to him and asked him to be quiet. (Attendant badges are given to men (only) who have authority over the crowd of minions in his assigned section. Their assignment usually entails finding people seats after the session has started and counting attendees, but it could involve quieting unruly children or asking women with short skirts to sit more modestly in the stadium seating.)

When my brother was asked to be quiet, it was not during the session. It was at lunchtime, and this “brother” told my brother that he needed to lower his voice and stop talking about what he was talking about because nobody else cared what he had to say nor wanted to hear it. My brother, trained as we all were to be doormats, apologized for living and continues to this day (no doubt) with one more memory meant to obliterate any self-esteem he may have deigned to develop after 45 years under Watchtower control.

I was not present for this put-down but heard about it later, after the same man had lectured me about crawling over stadium seating (in my skirt) to avoid a crowd of people blocking my aisle. He also went on to reject my friend’s offer to assist in First Aid, which upset her so much she couldn’t attend the convention and spent the whole time weeping in her car.

Now I take you back to the auction this last Sunday in Cascade, Maryland. I’m walking around remembering all of this, not for the first time, and feeling such anger I am fantasizing about the things I wish I would have said to this stain on humanity, this “Attendant.” I am picturing myself standing beside my brother as this total stranger approaches him and tells him to be quiet and stop ruining everyone else’s day by talking. Before my brother can apologize for being alive, I step forward, point my finger in his face (because misogynistic men love it when women do that), and say, “Who the hell are you to tell this man to be quiet?! Do you think just because you wear that “Attendant” badge you have any right to lecture people on how to act and talk? I want you to turn around and walk away. I don’t want you to address me, my family, or any of my friends with your corrosive presence. As a matter of fact, if you come near anyone I know, I will seriously fuck you up! Now go fuck yourself!!” The original version had about 30 more swear words added in, mainly because I know how much Jehovah’s Witnesses hate that shit–but you get my drift.

At any rate, I was in full ego-mode. I was carrying some serious angst about something that happened almost 10 years ago. Some might say this kind of anger is good because it prevents me from being taken advantage of again–and they would be right–but I have had this same conversation 100 times, at least, in the intervening years. Some days the anger strikes me more aggressively than others, but overall it is the same helpless anger I feel over many similar situations within that organization. Situations where men in power used that power to humiliate and oppress people whose ability to defend themselves has been taken away by their fear of God and his reprisals. (My brother is still in that religion and has likely been the brunt of many more hurtful scenarios. I don’t think he will ever recover in this life. By now his ego likely needs so much propping up that organized religion is the only way he could survive.)

While I was walking around the auction stewing, I happened by this little boy who was excitedly admiring a small antique, tin train. His mother and grandmother assured him they would get it if they could. My first thought? I’m going to bid on that, because mom and grandma didn’t look like they had very much money, just so I can see that little boy cry. (I didn’t. Nobody else did either. He got the train.)

My point is, my ego was having a heyday. I was completely immersed in the past and dwelling on things I can’t do anything about.  My residual anger, which had only gotten stronger over the years, actually had me convinced I wanted to hurt someone else so I wouldn’t feel I needed to shoulder the whole burden of my own pain. In a sense, I had turned into one of the bullies I find so repugnant. I wasn’t targeting another adult. I was targeting a helpless child. Someone who couldn’t defend himself and wouldn’t understand why he couldn’t get the train. Would it have made me feel better? No, I assure you, I would have felt like shit afterwards.

But it got me thinking, how many people have we hurt while in the throes of ego obsession? How many times have we been hurt by those experiencing an ego-reaction that has no bearing on the here and now? I think ego can be good if it encourages us to stand up for ourselves (to an extent), but once the chance has passed, is it really beneficial to keep digging things up and reliving them? If it’s not helping you process your feelings, then no. Move on. Write out your feelings on a scrap of paper and burn them. Shout them out to the moon. Put them in a blog–actually, this is a test, I’ll let you know if it cures my angst surrounding this situation.

The journey to reign in the ego is an arduous one, but I believe it a worthy goal. Imagine the peace we could enjoy if we could control our reactions to the past, present, and future?

The Continuing Saga….

 

In my previous post “My Story” I marveled at the total absence of encounters with Jehovah’s Witnesses. On retrospect, I feel the universe was giving me a gift–the gift of time. Though I may deny feeling any grief at being disfellowshipped, I have to admit there was some emotional backlash as I slowly came to grips with the loss of all I had ever known and valued.

In the last couple of months I have been working on meditation as a means of personal empowerment. My feelings of gratitude have gone through the proverbial roof and I am feeling happier and more content than I have ever felt in my life.

A few weeks back, I had a long day of massage at Exhale. After the third of five massages, I noticed a stabbing pain right under my rib cage, about where my diaphragm is. When I got home I put on some comfortable clothes, grabbed my foam roller and got on the floor to try to work out whatever was going on with my abdomen/diaphragm. After a few contortions, I found this tight line of tissue that extended from my pelvis, lateral to my rectus abdominus, and up to my rib cage. It felt like a line of fire, so I just slowly rolled the foam roller along this line until it pushed up against my diaphragm and I felt a flood of emotion wash over me.

It was a sensation I remembered having almost continuously as a child: shame, guilt, hopelessness, loss, fear, isolation, and the certainty that no matter what I did I would never fit in with Jehovah’s Witnesses. All those feelings were the result of that religion.

I was shocked to find that locked away in my diaphragm! I just laid there, with the foam roller pushing into that knot of pain and memory, and let the feelings wash over me. After a minute or two the pain, physical and emotional, faded.

Since then I have felt profound healing and no longer have panic attacks and severe feelings of sadness and loss. Some days I feel such happiness and serenity I wonder if I am glowing. I have been exercising and losing weight and my energy level is through the roof, which has no doubt helped with my mood (gotta love endorphins!).

So, apparently the universe has decided I can handle some JW exposure. Last week, I was at a local fruit/vegetable stand when I spotted a JW sister from a local congregation. I noticed her out of the corner of my eye and saw such a look of profound sadness on her face it surprised me! I gave her a dazzling smile, which she returned, and we both went about our business.

That look of sadness that flashed across her face gave me some insight into how people are feeling about me. They don’t hate me–or fear me and my witchy-ways–they appear to pity me as much as I do them. Which showed me all the more that they aren’t the ones to hate. Most of them are as duped as I was. It’s the Watchtower organization and its lies that is truly reprehensible.

A few days ago, I received a text from an old JW friend who is still very active. She said she just wanted me to know that she loves me and misses me. I thought about firing back a text that said something like, “I love you too, but I am not going to return.”

Today, I went to the local Starbucks for my customary “4 shots over ice, grande” when I spotted a sister I used to pioneer with (pioneer = full-time service). She smiled at me before she remembered my status. So I gave her a big smile and said, “Hey! How’s it going? You look good!” She hurriedly shuffled away. Then I ordered my coffee from another JW sister who actually treated me more warmly than she ever has. We talked massage and I told her I could help her husband’s thumb.

After that, I was talking with the acupuncturist I share an office with and he told me a JW brother (who admitted to some dissatisfaction with the religion a couple of years ago) had asked if I was still working there; then felt he should inform my business partner that “if I did anything weird, {he} needs to know I am no longer affiliated with Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Wha?! What’s the point of that except to maybe slander my name and/or reputation?

So I go to the county fair and run into the JW-Starbucks worker and her husband. While I am working on his arm under the tattoo tent, he tells me he has left the religion and doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. He said he was tired of the judgment and hypocrisy and the fact that the organization seemed to be pulling most of the doctrine out of their asses (my words).

After that, they go their way. While wandering through the quilt exhibit I run into the friend who texted me a few days ago. She smiles at me, but does not speak. She does speak to my husband (who is standing a foot behind me), however, and punches him in the arm (he isn’t df’d).

I admit to being a bit frayed by all the JW-exposure today. Growing up with the doctrine of disfellowshipping and always being on the other side of its application, I never realized how really stupid it was. Now that I am on this side, I see a doctrine that forces people to act counter to their instinct. We instinctively smile and greet people we know and are friends with, but JW’s are forced to stop acknowledging such ones. In fact they are told to treat former members worse than total strangers.

If  Jehovah’s Witnesses truly had the truth, why is its application so counter-intuitive? If God’s love transcends our own, why do those who represent him act so harmfully? Isn’t it possible that God (presuming he exists) is the God of life, light, and love that Jesus portrayed? The acts of judgment and excommunication and strict adherence reflect Paul’s Christianity, not that of Jesus.

Martin Luther, who ignited the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth-century, began as a Catholic Monk. He was filled with self-doubt and anxiety in his endless attempts to please a wrathful, demanding God. Then he would read passages in the Bible that spoke of how God loved and accepted the faithful regardless of how good (or bad) they were. Luther underwent a major experience of mystical insight when he came to grips with the realization that God was pure love–not the agent of anger, rage, and rigidity that his previous religious training had led him to believe.

The Protestant Reformation was begun by someone who believed God better than his strict representatives. The people in the organization that is Jehovah’s Witnesses are largely good people. But they are being used as a whipping post for those who cannot continue to worship the god of the Watchtower–a god that cannot be pleased. If it wasn’t for the doctrine of disfellowshipping, there would be far fewer Jehovah’s Witnesses than 7 million. That doctrine alone keeps people trapped in that religion. Some stay out of fear of alienation, while others stay because they know no better. They are never allowed to talk to anyone with a differing viewpoint, so doubts are never allowed to creep in.

So ask yourself: Do I truly worship a loving God? Does my belief make me a better person? Am I free to be whomever I want and speak to whomever I want? Or is my every action controlled? If you are trapped in a lifestyle that forces you to act against your better judgment, it is time for you to regain your autonomy and leave the collective. Speaking from experience, embracing the authentic-self is exhilarating!

 

The Song of the Rat: The Watchtower’s War Against Loyalty

I came across an interesting article in FoxNews.com called, “Survivor tells of life inside a North Korea concentration camp.” I am ashamed to say that my knowledge of Korea is woefully insignificant. I had no idea they had concentration camps, let alone what a “gulag” is. According to the article more than 200,000 men, women, and children are interned in concentration death camps. (It’s always nice to find out humanity has learned from their mistakes.) In the whole history of this gulag system, only three people have ever escaped the camps. The article is an interview of one of them.

Shin Dong-hyuk was born inside Camp 14. He escaped by climbing over the dead body of his fellow conspirator. He is permanently scarred from the torture and punishments he received as a child and the unspeakable things he was required to do. Not the least of which is what inspired this blog.

When only 14 years of age he informed on his mother and brother who were planning on escaping the camp and they were executed as a result. Camp officials had made it very clear that all conspirators and any connected with them will die. Shin was only trying to save his own skin at the cost of his family. He was still tortured after watching his family executed, but at least he was alive.

When human beings are placed in an atmosphere of self-preservation at the cost of all else, they lack the natural affection most of us take for granted. Shin said he didn’t understand family in the normal sense. Emotion and attachments could only be a liability in such a place where people died every day.

This type of carefully controlled environment reminded me of something—life within the Watchtower Society. Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to inform on one another “to keep the congregation clean.” They are told Jehovah will hold them responsible if they do not report the sins of one another and to be complicit brings the same death penalty as the sin.

This creates an atmosphere not unlike what Russia endured during the Cold War. Nobody truly trusts anybody else. Most relationships in that “loving organization” are two-dimensional at best. I can relate countless experiences in which I was “called in the back room” by the elders and asked about a situation that I was shocked they knew anything about. Private conversations, harmless get-togethers, choices of entertainment, and Facebook statuses were all things to be reported and used against those who were connected to it.

Shin was tortured because his mother and brother planned to flee. My dad was disciplined by the elders because I told another teenager in the congregation that Dirty Dancing was a good movie. My brother was called in because I read gothic romance and attended a pool party where there was underage drinking. No, he wasn’t involved in either scenario.  A local needs (which is an opportunity for elders to publicly humiliate someone in the congregation by discussing their sin from the stage)  was given in which my family was criticized for getting in an ice fight in a vacant cafeteria of the hospital—days before my mother died there. Only three people were there that day: my brother, my friend, and I. Who told?

I think you get my point. Anytime an organization/country creates an atmosphere of suspicion and snitching they undermine relationships. There are members of that religion that have not only turned in family members for discipline and ultimate death, but then turn their backs on them and never speak to them again because that is what the Watchtower requires! Nobody can trust anyone and family and friends pay the price as close connections cease to exist. The “loving brotherhood” is cold, calculating, and distant as everything is sacrificed for advancement within “Jehovah’s organization.”

Rules must be followed! To ignore the law of God’s only earthly organization is to fall into disfavor and die at Armageddon. Or worse, be disfellowshipped and exist in a purgatory of isolation and fear of inevitable destruction.

North Korea isn’t the only one with a gulag system. Jehovah’s Witnesses have created their own pseudo-gulag system and millions have paid the price with their families and their lives.

Source:

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/13/inside-north-korea-concentration-camp/

Rebirth

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…and so it is done–finally. The announcement was made last night that I am no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. No truer words have been said from that stage. I wasn’t there. I didn’t hear it. But I was informed that was when the announcement would be made, so I am acting upon that assumption. I have been feeling kind of depressed for the last week or so. Yesterday afternoon I felt like I was having a panic attack. But a pitcher of McMenamin’s IPA took the edge of.

Last weekend I had cleaned out the closet and pulled out the last of our Watchtower Society books, magazines, and brochures. I decided a nice little ritual burning was in order. So, last night, during the time I estimated the announcement would be made, I had a ritual. Roy piled all the books and magazines in our outdoor fire pit, I cast a witches circle, and we lit them on fire. I said a few choice words–whatever I felt ‘moved by the spirit’ to utter.

I kept out a copy of a 1980 Watchtower I had possessed as a child. It had my name written on the outside cover, and my scribbles all over it. I remember the endless hours of meetings where I would scribble and draw. I could survive the boredom as long as I had a writing instrument and something to write on. Fortunately, my father wasn’t one of those parents who banned their kids from writing in any of the literature. I burned that old Watchtower separately as representative of my childhood enslaved by the organization.

After the fire burned down, and I officially ended the ritual, Roy and Trevor went indoors and I stayed outside burning sage and circling the fire pit. I spoke from the heart, and even cried a little, then I looked up at the full moon and reflected on the blessings I have now–Freedom from fear and judgment; Freedom to live my life without always checking in to make sure my choices were permissible; A life filled with love for my fellow humans and optimism rather than negativity; A future I look forward to and can work towards rather than putting my life on hold for a nebulous promise that keeps fading into the distance. Life is a blessing. Humankind is worthy of life. I no longer look at people as potential bird-bait, but as fellow sharers in this remarkable planet.

I don’t know if I would have been able to do it without the internet and social networking. I wonder how people managed before these wonderful tools. I understand why the internet is such a danger to high control groups such as the Watchtower Society. The reason they disfellowship is so members will return out of desperation due to excessive loneliness. In a recent Watchtower (April 2012) Paragraph 17 on page 12 explains the significance behind this practice:

17 “Consider just one example of the
good that can come when a family loyally
upholds Jehovah’s decree not to associate
with disfellowshipped relatives. A
young man had been disfellowshipped
for over ten years, during which time his
father, mother, and four brothers “quit
mixing in company” with him. At times,
he tried to involve himself in their activities,
but to their credit, each member
of the family was steadfast in not
having any contact with him. After he
was reinstated, he said that he always
missed the association with his family,
especially at night when he was alone.
But, he admitted, had the family associated
with him even a little, that small
dose would have satisfied him. However,
because he did not receive even
the slightest communication from any
of his family, the burning desire to be
with them became one motivating factor
in his restoring his relationship with
Jehovah. Think of that if you are ever
tempted to violate God’s command not
to associate with your disfellowshipped
relatives.” (Watchtower)

Social media has removed such isolation and such ones can easily find others just like them, sometimes in their area. And whenever doubts and fears arise due to years of indoctrination, these are the ones who can strengthen us. So let me use this opportunity to thank all of you for your support on my journey and offer my assistance to anyone who needs it. Cheers fellow free-thinkers!

Guardians of The Watchtower

It is almost 3:30 AM on the morning of September 27, 2011. The new moon is less than two hours away. Why should I care? Because I have been studying Wiccan/Paganism for the last couple of months and the phases of the moon are very important. The last few days before new moon are considered ‘the dark of the moon.’ A dark time for witches. Some consider it a time for dark magic–if the need should arise. It is ruled over by Hecate(pro. HE-katae), the crone goddess. If you wonder what she looks like, think about every Halloween witch or cartoon witch you’ve ever seen. She’s old, with a pointed hat, broom and cauldron. The pointed hat symbolizes the upward spiraling Cone of Power (which many witches seek to obtain during their circle rituals), the broomstick symbolizes a sweeping away of the old, and the cauldron symbolizes transformation. Why are these things important at this time of year?

All Hallows Eve is the Pagan New Year–beginning after sundown on October 31st and continuing till sundown of November 1st.  Samhain (pro. SOW-en), the Pagan holiday that coincides with Halloween, is Gaelic for ‘summer’s end.’ The harvest is complete, winter is beginning. Pagans at this time (much like modern people on December 31) reflected upon their physical mortality and the nature of change and transformation in the cycle of life and death. It is the most important time of year for a pagan and the most psychically charged. The veil between the living and the dead is believed to be thinnest at this time so the spirits of ancestors and loved ones can be honored. It’s not a time to worship Satan as witches don’t believe he exists. The pentacle they wear (whether right side up or upside down) symbolizes the 5 elements from which all things exist: earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. The upside down pentacle characterizes the second degree witch who must come to recognize her dark side during this time–much like Luke Skywalker.

Back to the phases of the moon. Every phase has various characteristics that must be taken into account. New moon is used for personal growth, healing, or blessing a new project or venture. Full moon is used for banishing unwanted influences in life, protection and divination. The waning moon is for banishing/rejecting things in life we no longer want–like excess weight or negative habits/emotions (if hair is cut during this time it will take longer to grow out). Waxing moon is a time to attract things into our lives like prosperity, abundance, or magic. Since I am awake (I went to bed at 9pm last night only to awaken bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 2am)   I will likely go outside at 5:08am, light a black candle (to dispel negativity), and say an invocation to Hecate. Tonight I will likely hold a private ceremony and perform some candle magic in which I ask the Goddess for guidance in some aspect of my life.

As previously mentioned, I have only been studying this for a couple of months, but as I read over it I realize how surreal it is considering I was a Jehovah’s Witness only a year ago. I am enjoying the freedom of this new belief system and the ability to practice it wherever, and whenever, I want. I also find it empowering after coming from a patriarchal dominated religion. What I am finding most interesting, however, are the pagan roots even among Jehovah’s Witnesses. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal as all religions have adopted pagan customs and holidays. But JW’s held themselves above the rest. The reason they don’t celebrate holidays and birthdays (or anything really) is because of their apparent pagan roots. Customs and traditions are considered taboo by JW’s because of their often superstitious origins (i.e. throwing the bouquet at weddings or the traditional toasts). I didn’t even have a wedding cake at my wedding because I did some research and found its origins to be steeped in fertility (like everything else at weddings) and I didn’t want any part of childbirth.

So for me to encounter, again and again, pagan influences within Jehovah’s Witnesses has been fascinating and enjoyable. October is a very auspicious time for JW’s. They feel this is the month when Jesus was enthroned as King in heaven in 1914. This is also supposed to be the month when Armageddon occurs. Is it an accident that this same month is the conclusion of the pagan year? I don’t think so.

As I cast my first circle as a practicing witch, I noticed something interesting. Part of the ritual is a calling forth of The Watchtowers. The witch faces east, west, south and north and calls The Guardians of The Watchtowers requesting assistance in the ritual to follow. Can you imagine how strange it was for me to use the term Watchtower in a pagan ceremony? It was surreal to say the least. This is not a new tradition, either. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (late 19th-early 20th century) was a branch of Freemasons who not only created the modern-day Tarot deck but also  had the custom of opening rituals by calling upon the Watchtowers to cleanse and purify a space. The Watchtower has long been considered sacred to Artemis (Diana of Ephesus)  who wore a crown in the form of a Watchtower. The founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Charles Taze Russell, could not have been unaware of this since he was a Freemason, as the Cross & Crown image on the Watchtower bore out. (The term ‘Golden Dawn’ not to be confused with “Awake!” predecessor “The Golden Age” and Russell’s series of books, “Millennial Dawn.”)

A supposedly popular ritual of Satanists is the passing of the bread and wine representing Jesus blood and body. Only, they do not partake. Their ritual involves the rejection of the Host, the holy sacrament, Jesus sacrifice. Jehovah’s Witnesses (ex or current) will know what I am getting at, but for those of you who are still in the dark–the most important day of the year for JW’s is the Lord’s Evening Meal in which the emblems representing Christs body and blood are passed. These emblems are passed, untouched, by 99% of the participants. Roughly 10,000 of the more than 7 million Jehovah’s Witnesses get to partake of the host. The rest practice a sort of subconscious rejection of the sacrifice since JW’s teach Jesus is the mediator for only those few who partake. Satanic ritual? Whether they are aware of it or not, it is.

These are only a few of the parallels I have noticed since my studies began, but they only convince me all the more that, as Solomon said,  “That which has come to be, that is what will come to be; and that which has been done, that is what will be done; and so there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc. 1:9) Religion comes as an answer to societies needs, bringing with them the roots of previous belief systems. Supposedly, the predominant features of Jesus birth, death, and life can be found in myths that existed long before his apparent birth (see: Horus). Warlike religions were created while society was in its adolescence and conquest and war were rampant. Peaceful religions (or religions who were supposed to be peaceful [Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity]) came about as man evolved from fighting to thinking. And apocalyptic religions (i.e. Adventists, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses) were born as a response to the increasingly secular world. But religion has failed to bring man deliverance and has only prevented scientific advancement. Society seems to be moving toward a more secular view which I applaud as the only way to evolve past the dark ages of religious intolerance. I hope for a time in which prejudice and judgment are replaced by peace and acceptance. This will only be possible when religion dies and spirituality takes over.