Sunday, August 7, 2016

TERF Wars and Trans-terrorism

How the most trans affirming Pagan tradition got labelled transphobic and why you should care.

Back when the Maetreum legal case first came to the attention of the Pagan community by an article on the Wild Hunt, one of the very first comments made on that article was that the Maetreum was not “worthy” of support because it was a “tranny” tradition. I kid you not...... Just yesterday I was called a TERF and transmisogynist in comments on the Wild Hunt on another article about Cherry Hill Seminary. The Maetreum was called transphobic and a claim was made we never ever ever helped any transwomen who were not post surgical! Both, by the way, are not true. I was the principle founder of the Cybeline Revival of which the Maetreum of Cybele is the main home and Temple. I was born intersexed myself, the three other women who bought the property originally (it is now owned by the incorporated Maetreum of Cybele) were all transsexual women. The very first women we took in for emergency housing were trans street girls of colour, literally the most at risk class. Sylvia Rivera, the transwoman often credited with starting the infamous Stonewall rebellion, planned to retire to the Maetreum had she survived her last bout with liver cancer. Our basic policies remain exactly the same today as they were then, so how did we get labelled transphobes you ask??? Big nosed Pagan wannabe trolls.  At the time, two years ago, when the following happened, we were at our most vulnerable, needing the support of the community as we were facing the loss of our home, our tradition, everything we had worked for over a decade to accomplish.

I have blogged here in the past  about what happened without naming names but since this just came up yet again on the Wild Hunt blog in comments several years later, it is time to call out the perps, as it were. Perp #1 is Lauren Ouellette-Bruchez, the woman who was about to move in to the Maetreum with her two husbands (which we were making a major exception for), about to start priestesses training with us and who left all her personal possessions clogging all the downstairs of the Maetreum and a dead car in our driveway at the exact time the Town of Catskill was attempting to condemn our property under zoning violations as a last ditch effort to force us out just as the final appeal was hitting the court. The stuff was here for literally months!

Perp #2 is Shauna Aura Knight, a relentless self promoting fraud who gives “leadership” workshops all around the Pagan circuit when her only leadership experience is leading those workshops! Further, having attended one of them hostessed here at the Maetreum, I can state without question she trashes actual Pagan leaders in those workshops carefully giving enough information to identify them without naming them specifically. The bitch did this to me based solely on the private whining by Lauren Ouellette-Bruchez that I somehow “triggered her” during the incident that she was actually actively interfering in a priestess of the Maetreum only matter, was told in no uncertain terms that was the case and yet still attempted an “intervention” against me personally with others who also were not priestesses of the Maetreum! Ms.Knight wrote a “hit piece” blog entry  aimed directly at myself, based on what she knew first hand was out and out lies and then proceeded to start posting on the Maetreum Facebook page that we were transphobic. She also started trashing us all over the internet and managed to totally dry up all the legal fund contributions at the very stage we needed them the most, nearly sabotaging eight years of legal battles. Knight and I never had contact prior to her visit despite her claiming otherwise, never had any actual face to face discussions because of the incident the only night she stayed with us. None of the exchanges Knight claims took place actually took place at all on our Facebook page because the priestesses conferred and we simply removed her nasty comments. Knight goes on to claim my successor was “co-dependent”! That, by the way, infuriated her and is about as untrue as it gets because she argues with me all the time, is encouraged to do so and is personally more empowered as a result of being part of the Maetreum than at any prior point in her life. She is even debating with me as I write this about whether or not we should publish it!

We had welcomed Ms. Knight into our home, allowed her to do her workshop for another Pagan group at the Maetreum and she was present when that night our home was attacked by a local bigot, our windows broken, threats were made to shoot up our house with an assault weapon and the local police refused to take a proper complaint. The supposed conversations she and I had never happened at all because of those events. Further, she promised to send us an affidavit supporting what had happened and never did so. At the time she was apparently quite sympathetic to what we had been experiencing.

Neither Shauna nor Lauren are in any fashion trans. They both accused me personally and the Maetreum of being transphobic.... I have a trans/intersexed medical history. If this can be done to me, it literally can be done to anyone regardless of how trans supportive they actually might be. This is why it is important to tell this. By the rules now being used all around Paganism, both should be “no platformed” everywhere at every Pagan event. Fair is fair because what they both did is the worst type of transphobic behaviour. Demands to ostracize other women have been made for much much much less. In addition, and a further indication of exactly how bigoted Ms. Knight actually is, she has blogged in the past that those on the autism spectrum should be excluded from Pagan groups for being too much of a distraction. When she gave her workshop at the Maetreum she repeated this in the presence of two women on the autism spectrum!!!! The younger one required counselling as a result. Knight is a bigot of the worst sort, that who believes she knows better than everyone else. 

Spread their shame, demand they be removed from any Pagan events in the future, do it because they are both liars and they slandered and libelled the Maetreum of Cybele that won the most decisive legal battle in the past twenty years for Pagan equality under the law.
Why write about this now? Because it won't go away. We waited hoping it would go away but it remains circulating in Pagan circles. Because women who have merely questioned the trans dogma have suffered loss of position and venues when Knight continues to go around claiming a position of moral superiority when she is actually an out and out bigot. Because Knight does not hesitate to out and out lie about actual leaders in the Pagan community and who knows how many others she is slandering as you read this. Call her out for her hypocrisy to talk about ethics when she clearly has none whatsoever. 90% of what she wrote about me simply never happened at all.

Because all of the negative things that have been repeated about the Maetreum trace back to Lauren and Knight, and that ain't right! Am I an opinionated strong willed woman? You're damn straight I am and I make no apology for that but I am also the very model of a so called leader who does not act unilaterally without the consensus of the other priestesses and our very organization was deliberately set up so I could not do so!... by me!

Call them out as I have done. They weaponized the desire to be supportive of transwomen against a woman of trans/intersexed history and literally the most trans supportive tradition in Paganism!  What they did is out and out abusive, like most victims of abuse, I felt I could not call this out until now.  As part of my own healing process, I need to address this abuse publicly on, not only my own behalf, but my sister priestesses and the Cybeline Revival we all dedicated our lives to.  Both of these women have done real world harm to the Cybeline Revival and it is past time to hold them accountable as that harm continues to this day.



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Dear Cathryn;

    I advised you against publishing this blog for reasons that should be obvious. However, I know full well from my own experience that what is advisable is not always what is right or what is needed for healing.

    As a person on the spectrum, it's always been my inclination to be bluntly honest. Family and society, however, do not share that inclination. Our culture is focused on the appearances rather than the truth (the pagan community is no different). Indeed, I've often wondered if that is the central psychological conflict that autistics face in our culture: to put up a socially acceptable front or be true to ourselves and face potentially dire consequences. Dealing with this conflict on a day-to-day basis can literally drive you crazy! I'm sure that everyone deals with this conflict in one way or another, but for us spectrum folks (particularly those of my generation and older who didn't find out until we were well into adulthood) it's very much a thing. Add in the autistic lack of understanding social cues as well as enhanced autistic empathy and you've got a real mess on your hands. It works like this: you interact with someone and they are relatively polite and friendly on the surface, but you are all too painfully aware of what they are feeling underneath, especially if they have hostility towards you in any way. If those things are in conflict, you know it! At best it's confusing. At worst it's utterly terrifying.

    Given what these two did, it's been profoundly uncomfortable for me to be involved with Albany area pagans. Save for a few whom I've been friends with for years, I never know who has been told what and what they are thinking about me. As a result of all of this, I no longer share my talents with them. Much as I hate to sound egotistical, yes, that is a loss to them.

    Also, another negative effect of all this is that because of this nonsense about us being supposedly transphobic, there are transwomen out there who could have benefited from our help who have not gotten it. I really do consider that a tragedy.

    I truly hope that as a result of this: 1. That Shauna Knight rethinks her priorities and approaches others with more compassion and honesty. And apologizes to us publicly. Yeah, that'd be nice. 2. That Lauren and her partners get the help that they need 3. That you, Cathryn, are able to finally heal from all of this and 4. That our friends in Albany understand why this is so important to us.

    Moreoever, I truly hope that everyone involved in this learns how important honesty is as a result. I also hope that they learn that women's anger does not equal mental illness and that it is deeply, deeply misogynistic to make that assumption.

    “A good anger acted upon is beautiful as lightning and swift with power. A good anger swallowed – a good anger swallowed clots the blood to slime.” — Marge Piercy

  3. I found this enlightening.
    I have heard the account in person.
    I was there at the class she held.
    I saw this unfold before my eyes.

    I was glad to share a gathering of pagans for the class.
    I know I missed part of the full on experience, due to settling some important issues with another involved. Glad to know that went well. However I found the class lacking in any real content. I took nothing away from it, except a thinner wallet. I was not pleased with her pointing out people, practically by name to use as examples of disruption in groups. One being my own leader at the time. Right or wrong in the assessment, I found that her "teaching" was nothing more that recalling how she and others did not work out due to personality conflicts.

    And since she was the leader, the other was always to blame.

    Something odd about that last sentence.
    Since the other issue you brought up in this blog was about another not feeling as if ONLY the leaders decide who stays and who goes. And yet THEY are still friends, in lieu of your lost bonds.
    I feel your lost even through the ruggedness of you.
    Well Simply put, I feel Shauna Knight is a fraud.
    A bigoted woman who wouldn't know a real issue from the glitter she spews in public.
    I don't really care whose friendship I may lose due to this.
    I am true to all I care for. And I am no more persuaded by a best friend than a thug with a gun. Shoot and get it over with. The negative energies wrought that day and night were the first and only time I felt uncomfortable in the Maetreum.
    Even with my failure to complete the last rituals I attended due to my physical ailment, I never felt so at unease.
    The Maetreum carries such positive energies and hope in a simple homage to a lifetime project. The town's attack that night were more than likely drawn by such blacken ooze that stayed there and spewed utter uselessness.
    And as far as accusing Viktoria of being co-dependent?
    Your Battakes-In-Waiting is no more dependent on another than I am a a quiet skinny Buddhist. I have always found the relationship between you and Viktoria as a complimentary opposition. Viktoria does not need to shred another apart to seek answers. She waits. Where as another may shake the tree till something falls down (ahem).
    And Viktoria, don't worry about relationships with others in the decay of Albany district worry you.
    The Outstanding folks here who are your friends, will be so with or without a blog.
    I too find the gatherings up here less and less authentic to spirit and heart. If you lose anything, it was meant to be so. Blessed Beats to your Spiral Danze.