Festivals in the Time of Covid (And Why Lightworker Trump Means They’re Still Not Safe to Attend)

When groups began announcing there would be no Pagan Pride Day events, mystery celebrations, or open circles in their cities, it was hardly surprising. Even larger, more mainstream events (concerts and graduations, to say nothing of school semesters and businesses) had already began closing their doors, and as the months passed, lockdown became a serious reality for most people in the world.

A year later, and three vaccines have been approved for use in the United States (https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/graphics/2021/03/27/comparing-covid-19-vaccines/6806600002/), with two more slated to be on their way. The vaccine has been released to groups in order of risk, with the very elderly, sick, teachers, and healthcare officials being the first to receive the vaccines. There is now stated to be enough to effectively vaccinate every citizen within the U.S., with all but the Johnson&Johnson offering over 90% efficacy (https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/covid-19-vaccine-comparison).

It’s still possible to catch the coronavirus, however, even after the second vaccination, according to the CDC (https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/it-hit-me-hard-northbrook-mom-gets-covid-after-second-vaccine-dose/2465900/), though the vaccinations should prevent people from getting seriously ill. This suggests, however, that even those who are vaccinated can be carriers for COVID-19, which could spell big trouble for immunocompromised folks, and those with at-risk loved ones, who are hoping to get back to normal and attend Pagan festivals this year. With more and more states and businesses lifting their safety precautions (such as mask mandates and social distancing), there remains a risk that festival goers could bring (and take home) the coronavirus.

The risks only increase if your fellow festival goers have spent the past year pretending the virus is a hoax.

At the same time I was removing myself from a large number of Pagan Facebook groups due to their (sometimes open, flagrant) support of racism and the rights of buildings over people, I began noticing an alarming uptick in the amount of people who were staunchly anti-vaccine. Our groups have always had a hard time weeding out dangerous, unstable sorts, whether that’s the because the rapist at the ritual fire is friends with the event organizers, or because some folks seem to believe that being published means you’re too powerful to call out. If we fail to weed out even the most open of predators in our community, it can’t be too surprising that the “Pagan umbrella” also shelters a sizeable amount of anti-vaxxers and “light workers” who believe their pure vibes will keep them safe.

It is probably just a tiny bit surprising, however, that these people think Trump is a “massive and powerful lightworker.” (https://www.salon.com/2021/03/04/why-some-new-age-influencers-believe-trump-is-a-lightworker/)

Yes, the same groups that on Tuesday would warn me about the ethics of buying incense made in labor camps, or on Thursdays make urgent calls for groups to engage in an online ritual against sex trafficking, were the same groups telling me that the pussy-grabbing, child-caging, KKK-endorsed former president of the U.S. was a savior send to usher in a golden age for humanity.

I almost took this to be part of what some far-right Christians call “the culture war”, a mission to insert themselves into all facets of society, but…I just can’t see a dedicated effort behind an infiltration of Paganicon happening. I hoped, desperately, that this was a joke. What’s far more likely to be happening is something a number of articles are reporting, called “conspirituality”, which is described as being a mashup of female-dominated New Age mentality with male-dominated conspiracy theories into an unholy blend that makes messiah figures out of people who should be, rationally, regarded as absolute evil (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13537903.2011.539846). This isn’t the first time it’s happened, of course; The History Channel loves to run documentaries on Nazis and their love affair with occultism. Trump didn’t kill as many people or start a war on the level of WWII (though certainly not for lack of trying), but over 400,000 Americans died under his watch (and at least 40% of those deaths could have been prevented, it’s been reported) ( https://www.businessinsider.com/analysis-trump-covid-19-response-40-percent-us-deaths-avoidable-2021-2). From declaring the virus a hoax, to claiming the deaths were somehow politically motivated and that if new cases simply stopped being reported the numbers would go down…Trump bungled things time and time again, resulting in death after death. His followers famously attended large rallies without wearing masks, peddled injectable bleach treatments in lieu of social distancing, and insisted that children were somehow immune to the effects of the disease and wouldn’t spread it (spoiler: children are filthy and will come home in different shirts than you send them to school with). The bad news is that some of these people are going to be calling quarters with you.

The good news is that many festivals have been successfully operating classes, presentations, workshops, and events online in the past year. Modern Pagans have always been a techno-savvy bunch, and programs such as Zoom, Discord, and Twitch have made things easier than ever. So all is not lost, and you can still expect to have some sort of gathering this year (as long as you can maintain a stable internet connection).

[Written by Ashley Nicole Hunter.]

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