Elder abuse is usually associated with caretakers abusing the elderly in nursing homes but it actually goes much deeper and further than that. When you are older but fail to be the grandma with cookies type of older woman you will experience ageism big time.
Normally I don't like airing our dirty laundry here at the Maetreum but we recently had a multi level example of both ageism and elder abuse happen here starring that crusty old crone, yours truly.
We had a priestess who's involvement in the Cybeline Revival went back to it's near beginnings but who only actually showed up or participated every couple of years or so. Up until a couple of years ago, she did keep in fairly regular touch by phone but that suddenly came to a halt about 2 and an half years ago until this spring when she descended on us full force telling everyone here I needed more looking after. I didn't think much of it at the time but then the return in June put everything in an entire new light.
She and her daughter and partner are living in an older home they just moved into to "help" an older gentleman who's family allegedly was not looking after. This is the second time she has moved into a property to "help" someone and took it over. He has family, but she somehow arranged power of attorney for his healthcare and finances. Recently he was moved into a retirement home but they are still living in his house. Now understand that this sort of house stealing is becoming more and
more common and the law hasn't really caught up with it. Essentially it
is a type of con aimed at elderly home owners. Her own mother has early stage Alzheimer's, something I noticed several years ago on the last whirlwind visit with mom in toe. She took over all her mothers affairs as well and cleaned her out. To make a long story short, she's figured out the jig is up on the free housing and planned to move here and take over. Moving here would not have been a problem but I told her that her mom could not be part of the package as we simply are not equipped to deal with an Alzheimer's patient.
When I did that, it hit the fan. She was already telling me my advisor, a woman I literally trust more than anyone else on the planet, had an agenda and I shouldn't trust her. She'd had a facebook account for ages but never used it at all. Suddenly she is friending everyone associated with us. At this time a younger Pagan woman who was to start her novitiate training with me was moving into the Maetreum with her multiple partners. Our novitiate was zeroed in on. Then she started telling everyone associated with us that I was showing signs of early dementia, naturally with nothing to back that up because their isn't anything to back it up. She started working the younger women against the older ones, pushing for major changes in everything about the house. Not directly, but through the younger women. My advisor actually overheard her doing this.
The tactic switched to early signs of dementia to full blown very quickly and the rest of the priestesshood realized we had to do something quickly because we'd been down this road years before.
Unlike many other Pagan traditions, we have a blueprint for dealing with conflict and running and living as a community. This document has been online since 2004. The last time we had an attempted schismatic takeover of the property (it's always about our property) it was slightly modified to empower an individual Battakes (Rev. Mother of a specific Phrygianum or convent if you will) to simply expel a priestess working to undermine her. It has further safeguards against just a personality conflict. Under our rules I could have just done this but I did not. Instead the priestesses who were aware of the situation, all but two living outside the US, conferred and collectively and unanimously decided to tell her she was no longer a priestess and must leave immediately. We knew there would be blowback from this. The rouge priestess was informed she needed to meet with me and my heir for a discussion. That's where it hit the fan big time.
Apparently she started texting everyone in the house that she was being set up by demented old me and calling for an intervention to prevent the meeting. We have very specific rules for calling a house meeting and this violated most of them.
She did not show up from her RV until she had it all in place unknown to my successor and myself who walked into an ambush. When I saw what was happening, I announced this was a priestess only matter and I was speaking as the Battakes. Not only was I ignored but the novitiate announced she was mediating this and I was physically prevented from leaving the room. It was two against seven... and clear the agenda was me. No personal boundary of mine was left intact or respected. Yes, I yelled but I never threatened even verbally while I had been forcibly stopped from leaving myself by a large younger male we were letting stay with us.
The offending priestess left but not without arranging considerable chaos in her wake in the form of half the downstairs of our home turned upside down and pretty much unusable. The Noviciate decided I had somehow "triggered her" by yelling and she and her partners decided not to move in and break all the promises they had been making. Ok, bad situation but resolving itself except they left all their things filling the rest of the downstairs and two bedrooms and the main hallway for six weeks not to mention a dead car in our driveway at a time we were having a battle with the local code office.
The former noviciate was left an open door to come back. She was in charge of the Albany summer Pagan event and I was supposed to be "honoured" as a crone at that event. I told her under the circumstances that I considered that inappropriate and I would not be even attending absent an apology for basically total disrespect of the priestesshood and myself in our own home when we were trying to deal with a very difficult situation under our rules and blocked by her, not a priestess, from doing so. We recognized she was suckered into it by an expert con artist and cut a LOT of slack for her because of that.
Still with me? This is where it gets interesting. Apparently I have become a Name Pagan due to our multiple year battle with the town of Catskill and apparently that has made other Name Pagans nervous despite the fact I don't do the festival circuit or hold court like many of them do. Frankly, I've been far too busy keeping our place going and fighting bigotry to even think about it. Our former Noviciate does do the circuit and likes to schmooze with the Big Nose Pagans and the BNP wannabes. I have been trashed to pretty much all of them at this point as an abusive and angry bitch. All at a time that three separate legal actions with Catskill have been coming to a head and thus cutting off support we badly needed to raise the needed legal fees.
One of the wannabe BNPs is a woman who runs around the community giving "leadership" workshops even though she has never, to the best of my knowledge, ever actually led anything other than a workshop. She also makes her living writing soft Pagan porn. Almost exactly a year ago the Albany Pagan group had her come do a workshop and it was done here at the Maetreum for free. We hostessed the workshop and put this woman up for the night and fed her. That night she and I sat down to have a chat and were quickly interrupted by a vandal throwing rocks through our windows and screaming anti Pagan and anti LGBT slurs and then threatening to come back with an AK 47 and shoot us up. The cops did show but did not even bother to do a proper interview with us. That was the sum of my contact with this wannabe with a couple of very brief FB encounters afterwards. After being contacted by our former Noviciate, suddenly we were being accused of being transphobic and our wannabe blogged about what a terrible leader and abusive angry person I am being extremely careful not to mention my name but giving more than enough details about the Maetreum and myself that no one familiar with any of this would not know exactly who was being talked about. I was linked to the recent paedophile and the Frosts. Also to Z Budapest.
I am writing this because I am seeing evidence my experience is not an isolated one and my next blog entry will deal with the widespread in general disrespect of older women in particular in the Pagan community.