Ugly and Mean

by cathrynbauer

Dawn breaks over the cat-proof fence.

So I don’t have to write this out again, I’m adapting it from an email I wrote to an OBOD admin who expressed concern.  I think I’m doing as well with it as anyone can.  I wish my labyrinth were already set up so that I could go walk it and ask as my focus question, “How am I going to get through this?” just like I did when Scrappercat died years ago.  No guarantees that this walk would be as fruitful, but it would be putting myself in the way of healing.  I may very well drive to the nearest one which is approximately ten miles away.  I am at a good stopping point before the last, frantic burst to meet tomorrow’s deadline.  Hmm.

Anyway, here goes.  Warning:  well, the title says it all, really.

“I have been participating in the Seedgroup for about the last six months.  It is administered by a couple, X and her partner Y.  I found them a little controlling, but fundamentally supported their vetting of group membership and their insistence that most rituals take place in their home.  I knew that there had been a great deal of turmoil in the area Pagan community, that they had been caught in the crossfire and really been hurt.  I saw their controlling behaviors as an effort to keep themselves from further pain, something that I later confirmed in a discussion with X.  I chose to give them a bit of slack because of this, and I think that was a mistake on my part.

“The only feedback I have ever received from the group administrators was, “We love you.  We love your music.  We’re so glad to have you.” No sense of a problem has ever been brought to my attention.  My fiddle and a song I wrote about the elements were a ritual staple.  I participated in a large public ritual which was the keynote for a festival.  We had a wonderful time at a Renfaire.  When our new home was completed, the two administrators and one other member came out for a house-blessing ritual, surprising me with a rather expensive gift.  I was really moved by the attention and care that they gave the ritual, blessing our new home and garden-to-be.  I repeat, I never received the smallest indication that I might not be right for the group in any way or that anything I did caused a problem.

“When they set up a Druid Thanksgiving event, Ted and I were the only ones who signed up.  We had a fun evening with them, or so we thought.  When I returned home, I sat down at the computer to email them to thank them for their hospitality.  Imagine my surprise to find the following email:  “Due to conduct incompatible with group principles, you have been removed from the Seed Group by consensus of the senior members. You are not eligible to reapply for membership in the future. Best wishes in pursuit of your path, The Seed Group.”  I could  not imagine what had happened.  I could not get either X or Y to respond to me despite repeated efforts on my part via phone, text, or email.  Finally, I received an email from X that Y would call me when he got to work.  She said that Y would call me when he got to work.  Several hours later, I did receive a call from him.  He told me that I was out of the group.  I asked what had happened, and he said that Ted had had “inappropriate interaction” with Z, his 18-year-old daughter and that there were “ancillary issues” with me.  I asked what they were.  This seemed to make him very angry, and he said that he wasn’t going to tell me, but, “We are the administrators.  We decide.  It’s done.”  I asked again if I could hear what the issues were, and he mumbled something about inviting me to their house when it had been decided most of the rituals would be in Northern Virginia.  I asked why he hadn’t talked to me about that and what other issues there were.  He just seemed to get angrier and again refused to say, repeated that they were the administrators and they decided.  And he actually seemed surprised when I responded that we didn’t need to talk to each other again, but I hung up the phone at that point.

“I am not entirely unforgiving here.  If you believe that your child is being addressed “inappropriately,” ferocity is indeed the order of the day.  Which brings me to my next question: if you saw that going on, why not intervene then?  I believe that if I saw a young person being made to feel awkward in a social setting, I would promptly butt in and try to at least defuse the situation whether or not I had any sort of relationship with them.  And as to the “inappropriate interaction,” we are both still mystified as to what it could have been.  We were all in the same small area for several hours, minus a few 30-second trips to the restroom. Ted talked with her for about seven to eight minutes about her college majors she was considering which were primarily in fields where he has extensive professional accomplishment and knowledge.  There was no physical contact and no discussion the entire evening about sexual or romantic matters.  Ted did nothing more than look at her while they were talking.  I was not aware that he looked at her inappropriately, and I am very confident that I would know what a sexual stare would have been.  I am a court reporter by profession.  Believe me, any woman who works in a courthouse knows what it is like to be looked at inappropriately.  In addition, I believe my own background of childhood sexual abuse has made me somewhat hypervigilant about wrongful conduct or sexual insinuation around minors.  I saw utterly nothing.

“No one from the seedgroup has contacted me.  I feel like I’ve been labeled some kind of subversive, and I probably have.  I truly don’t know what happened, and they refused to tell me.  I’m eager to move past this, but their sudden cruelty and rejection is very hard to get past.  Truthfully, however, I no longer want their explanation, and even an apology would be meaningless at this point.

“What I would really like is for this not to happen to anyone else.  That said, I cannot think of a way this can be accomplished.  I hope my post on the forum will make others aware that these things can happen, and perhaps it will encourage them to come forward when they do.  It is really hard for me to imagine that someone (Y) can finish the Bardic training, talk about proceeding further to Ovate grade, and read the guidelines for seedgroups and still act like this, one of several reasons it seemed in order to try to make some contact with OBOD administration about this.  I don’t have an agenda about what I think should be done, and I have no plans for further action at this time.  But I know that what happened to me was not right.”

I know that I am better off without them, and that this, too shall pass.  It is hardly the first time I’ve had an issue with someone in authority in a Pagan group.  Although I will probably always wonder at some level what it is we purportedly did, they need to stay very far away from me.

Onward, ever onward.  I think I will take that labyrinth walk, and I will post later.