I am pretty outspoken about my contempt for organized religion. I've recently realized it's a trigger for me. It all stems from my personal experiences and the many bullshit answers I received when I questioned the point of having such oppressive values. Many of the personal offenders in my life enjoyed masking their lack of knowledge and insecurities by using the bible as a resource to judge, condemn, and rebuke any other form of spirituality, lifestyle and personal suffering of others. Similar to other authoritarians, these people have convinced themselves they are educators, influencers and humble people. None of which is true. They have cheated and used the charity of others to propel them through college. They create sneaky, fear-ridden tactics to control their children and congregations, and their obsession with outward appearances, and ruthless contribution to capitalism dissolves all of their lies. Being the Black Sheep of a family, being emotionally and mentally abused actually helped me tap into my ability to see through bullshit and often helped me escape my body and travel into other realms.
It hurt though. It still does. Knowing that I was in so much distress,I was written off as an angry child. When I was asked, "Why are you so angry?" "Why are you so loud?" After I would scream at the top of my lungs about the unfairness of a situation that made me feel like I was invisible and only existed to be a good little girl who just needs to shut-up and smile more.
That was until my awakening, when I chose to take the "red pill". My life was already under constant strain and pain, so, why not make it worthwhile? I figured if I could harness the strength and use my loud voice to help even just one person, I would take my chances and free myself from the chains of religion and societal standards. It hasn't been easy. It still isn't. But, when I encounter someone being held hostage or, have their world destroyed in the name of Christian values, I scream about it or, write a blog.
It was a weekend of triggers for me.
Last Friday, just before the Fourth of July weekend, my spirit was heavy with the news of Sha'Carri Richardson being eliminated from the Olympics for smoking a joint in order to cope with grief. HBO decided that a second season of Lovecraft Country would be too much for white viewers to process and a store I would have loved to frequent announced it would have to close due to their new right-winged Christian owners not wanting obscure art and oddities sold in their building. And a trip to my beloved Seattle sent me into a spiral of sadness and anger towards the hypocrisy of how organized religion, sports and the rights to a piece of art can be used to strip the voices of the healers, athletes and artists.
Letting go of 40 years of anger feels like liberation, true freedom until the triggers find their way in. For me, it was a weekend of triggers.
On July 2nd I was looking into obscure shops in Portland to add to my "to visit" list when the owner of Danse Macabre posted that after surviving over three years of awkward neighbors, drug addicts and then COVID, the new Christian owners decided they didn't want such wares sold in their shop. Therefore, Danse Macabre would close at the end of July and a new beginning would emerge. Portland is supposed to be a safe haven for weirdos. Christianity and capitalism are the powerhouses that rule over America. The two of them combined is dangerous for those seeking a life of peace and obscurity. You would think that in this day in age, with the uprising of witches, queers and vulnerable communities taking a stand, that these Christian zealots would take a step back. Clearly not. It boils my fucking blood because the fantasy told in the Bible (that even our Government pretends to live by) God is a self-serving Dick!
If you don't know, Christians fear the Devil because they fear he will make them horny and would give too much power to women. To Christians, it is the devil who instigates war, poverty, drug abuse, sexual positions other than missionary and gayness. Yet, the Devil was clearly the one coaxing Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge, become enlightened and harness the power of their own. Of corpse, God, being the Tyrannical Tyrant he is, wanted to keep everlasting knowledge to himself. It baffles me how for centuries, civilizations have come to fear people who questioned these teachings. The Bible is literally full of ways to discourage education and truth. Every war waged between civilizations is because of some form of religion, with Christianity being at the forefront. What came first, Christianity or systemic racism? Did I raise an eyebrow?
Before I went "no contact" with the worst of the Christians in my life, I asked my sister a question. On June 3rd, 2020, BlackCraft Cult became the top donor for George Floyd's memorial. With the "Fuck Racism" shirt seen on the chests of so many Americans, Black Craft matched the $83,000 raised by customers, matched that number and donated a total of $166,000. That is more than any church in America contributed and Black Craft Cult has to pay taxes. I asked my Sister, who's Husband is Black, would she have accepted the money donated, with gratitude, towards all the free-thinking Queers, Atheists, Witches and Satanists, for their compassion, generosity and determination to end racism. She was nervous by the question and used her quick-reply statement, "I'd have to research who they are first. I'll get back to you." Not long after, she texted that she needed a bit of time because words like "cult" and "satan" were blacklisted from their households internet searches and she needed her Husband to unblock the restriction. Finally, she answered with, "I would have a hard time not accepting the money." That was it. When I tried talking to my Sister about utilizing her own power and light, she wanted to end the conversation because she was out with our Mother. Typical, Christians, like my Sister, refuse to educate themselves about forms of spirituality that don't revolve around one masculine God. I have endured years of my Sister, and her Husband, ridiculing me for loving sex toys, masturbation, bisexuality, how I manage my money, my inability to fit in with basic crowds, and even how I have raised my children. Even worse, they are pretty much the only Black family I had so, it made life so much more stressful.
"Your Mother better not be practicing witchcraft" a statement my Sister once made when one of my kids told her I was beginning my craft. Meanwhile, she and her In-Laws were exchanging their favorite prayer, "May you cover my children in your blood. In the name of Jesus." Um, I am the evil Satanic Witch? I don't know of any witches that go around anointing children in Jesus blood. Or any blood at all. That was a Christian rumor that got people killed. Yet now, throwing Jesus blood and pretending to consume him is an every First Sunday ritual in Churches everywhere.
When people invest in believing in themselves and begin to live their life authentically, the religious slaves are forced to watch from the sidelines, stewing in their jealousy, entitlement and fear of the unknown. They wait for god to give them a sign and the next thing you know, they end up like so many other humans, living the same existences year after year. An endless loop of the same family picture, meal and conversation. Even as a kid, I was a threat to my Mother's image. I also scared her because she knew I was destined to become someone more than she was capable of becoming. My Sister followed her lead and both have delighted in enjoyed watching me stumble and fall through my life.
When I was young Michelle Halloween, aside from my love of horror and Halloween, I was dead set on becoming either a Psychiatrist or becoming some form of Journalist. I was always in a child psychologist’s office. My Mom couldn't handle my constant questioning and rebelling. She knew something was wrong with me because I was such an angry child. She still doesn't grasp it was because of her. Since my Sister never gave her any trouble, and my Dad was always working, it was always her word against mine and I was a child no one really listened to. I endured. I knew I would grow up one day, become a Psychiatrist, and have my mother committed to a Psychiatrist hospital and figure out what was wrong with her. I wasn’t afraid of hard work, suffering and abuse to get there. But, I fucked up along the way. A lot! When at 16 I realized I wanted to go away for college to escape and begin my life. My eyes were on already on Washington. I did my research, kicked ass in school and everything I could to eliminate any excuse my parents would give in order not stop me from getting there. Still, they didn’t take me seriously.
Even though I took summer school classes to get ahead. Even though I was a great student throughout my junior and senior years. I was still my parent's “hard child”. I lost my virginity before I was married. I liked listening to "white people" music and, wore thrift store clothes and spiked chokers that I bought with my own money. When I was 18 I got my nipples pierced, I got a tattoo, and my boyfriend was the definition of what you “wouldn’t bring home to a respectable family" They used it all against me. It could be because I wasn’t a prude and impressionable like my Sister was. Whatever it was about me, they never believed I would amount to anything. There wasn't a damn thing I could do to make my Mother proud. I didn’t make life easy for her, so she was dead set on keeping me at her level.
In Winter of 1997, I applied for financial aid and to three colleges. I was accepted to Pacific University, Cal State San Bernardino and the one I truly wanted to attend, University of Washington. But, I was denied financial aid and since I was an academic student with a GPA of only 3.5, I didn’t qualify for grants or scholarships. I made the stupid assumption that my parents would “find a way” the way they always made it seem. I didn't realize that this "find a way" thinking didn't apply to me. When we sat at our dining room table to go over a plan, my Dad seemed like he wanted to help but, my Mom was already dead set on saying "no"to any financial responsibility. She was impatient. She didn't want to be sitting there talking about me. I wasn’t worth any of it because, I had this Boyfriend, who for some reason she thought I would be taking to Washington with me. I had no intentions of doing so. I was crushed. So, I assumed if it was because of financial reasons, they would settle for Cal State San Bernardino so I could at least get started. But, even that was a “no” because in her eyes, I only applied there to be closer to my Boyfriend. See how much sense my Mom would make? Anything she could do keep her control over me and crush my dreams because they didn’t make her look good in some way. I couldn't strive to be better than her because that would make me too much like my Aunt who did go to college. My Mom has always been jealous after the Sister she named me after. And, I paid for it.
I ended up at Fullerton Community College with a false promise that my parents would cover at least my books. I got a bunch of credit cards during orientation to pay for those which amounted to over $200 (that was a lot back in 1998). I never got paid back. And, that is when I learned what bad credit was.
Then I got pregnant and my life branched out in a different way. One I don’t regret but, wish I would have done better. For 22 years later, the anxiety of Motherhood gets to me almost daily. But, that is a different story.
In 2004 my Sister, graduated high school. She earned a partial scholarship for tennis and the rest ended up being covered by student loans that were split between her and my parents. Not only that, my parents helped house her on campus when they only lived 30 minutes away. She had a boyfriend too. One who was dicking around with his friends at her graduation, laughed when she got her ass beat at school, and is still, a literally huge homophobic and misogynistic asshole. My parents even sent him care packages when he went off to college. No one ever cared how that made me feel. Because of this unfairness and obvious favoritism, I actually believed that I was a loser and my sister did something to make our parents love and respect her while I was their “trouble child.” I was simply different. I was also more intelligent, intellectual, street smart and creative. Perhaps that’s why I was such a threat to them. My sister is impressionable, goes into the light blindly and a gross obedient servant of an invisible man in the sky that her Husband tells her to believe in. He is really making her obedient to him and she is completely ok with that. That was more impressive and made my sister more trustworthy in my parents eyes than I could ever be. Because my Mom is the same way. So, you see, my Mother favors my Sister because my Sister grew up to be my Mom.
I have dozens if not more stories about the emotional and mental abuse my Mom inflicted on me as a child because she is an unchecked Narcissist. I have the same amount of stories about how my Sister, her Husband and even his family have emotionally and mentally abused me using Christianity, their obsession with Jesus as the reason to undermine me, my Husband and even my children. They all demanded respect but, never gave any. They took advantage of my silence and vulnerability. Even when I went no contact, my Sister text me, "It doesn't matter how you feel about me and my Husband. I still love you and will always be here for you." Note how the first thing she said was "It doesn't matter how you feel..." I know, Sister. I know my emotional and mental well being has never mattered to you. I didn't matter to you.
While I sit here admiring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, the time I have to write, to imagine, as I watch my kids grow up and spread their wings, and not taking this next phase of life for granted, I still don't believe I am worthy of this happiness. I still struggle to accept all that I have endured. It has broken me so much, that even accepting love and care from my Husband is sometimes difficult. I still feel like a burden to everyone. I still feel invisible.
So, maybe now, I hope it makes more sense why organized religion is such a trigger for me. Maybe now you can see why I get loud and " confrontational" when I see a set of outdated rules or someone's art being crushed in the name of Christianity and capitalism. No one saw me drowning. They laughed when I choked. I can't be quiet when I see others suffering in the same way. It's part of my healing process to help others feel worthy of what makes them THEM.
My Spirit Guides always have my back. I've been working through my weekend triggers and out of no where, a poem I hadn't heard in years surfaced. It is a poem that once gave me the impression that there are truthful Christians out there. Ones that love and embrace humanity as a whole. Ones that understand that silence, obedience and "thoughts and prayers" don't absolve anyone from pain and persecution. Ironically, it was written by a German Lutheran Pastor.
First They Came by Martin Niemöler
First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.
Before you go offering advice and calling The Satanic Temple on Danse Macabre's behalf, please respect the owner's desire to make her own decision and, embark on this new beginning of hers. Support the store, while you can. While you smoke, visualize the release of the black men and women still incarcerated for doing the same thing and, will their freedom. While you smoke to calm your anxiety, think of ways to get society to realize that weed is a bullshit reason to destroy a person's entire dream. When you decide if HBO is worth keeping, remember that they are afraid of too much BIPOC greatness and will hold the rights to certain shows hostage in the process. As you decide which Halloween and Horror convention to attend, make sure you really look into who the show runners are. That is if you value your weirdness and obscurity. There are those specifically, in LA, that will take your money and joy and use it to support their Church instead of the community and shit on friends that offered them years of support. And, for the love of Goth, don't shop at right wing Christian stronghold's like Hobby Lobby for your annual Halloween decor. That coupon isn't worth it.
And while I appreciate your love, support and friendship, know that if it weren't for what I have gone through, I wouldn't be who I am right now. I know my stories about my Mother and Sister may be upsetting for some to hear and read. But, no one stopped them from hurting me. These are my truths, my experiences and, fuck if my Spirit Guides aren't guiding my hand writing this! As I heal, and uncover these triggers, it is important I share them. It's scary too. It's scary as all fuck. But, I have always promised to be raw and real with my readers. Even when I am, sad and dealing with my trauma. I may be confrontational, too loud, too much in general but, it's my turn to live in the best version of myself. I will you to do the same.
Unmask from the routine and make it Halloween Every Day.
For more on how to help those incarcerated for smoking weed visit Last Prisoner Project
Support Danse Macabre while you can @dansemacbregallery
BlackCraftCult is still selling the "Fuck Racism" tee and 100% of the proceeds go straight to the NAACP FUCK RACISM