How to Tell if a Pagan Teacher is Abusive

Recently pagan spaces have had to deal with leaders and teachers being accused of abusing their power over students and members. Most recently is the accusations against Yeshe Rabbit (Jessica Mathews) of the Come as You Are (CAYA) coven based in the San Francisco Bay area. As a relatively new community, most Pagan groups have never had to deal with such issues and some newcomers are suffering from lack of preparedness. Recognizing abuse in a religious community is sometimes difficult especially when it is not sexually driven. The following is a few warning signs that a leader or teacher might be abusive. If you recognize any of these as occurring to you or someone you know, inform those of higher level within the organization or stop all contact with the leader/teacher.

  1. Requesting Sexual or Physical Favors– Most of us can identify sexual misconduct in other spaces but in Pagan religions, sex is revered and spoken about freely. If a teacher says you can not continue your journey or studies with them without sexual acts with them or anyone else then that is abuse. If they ask you for sexual favors in lieu of payment for lessons or services then that is also abuse. This goes for demanding you to do physical favors such as clean their home, deliver goods, or anything that could be done by a service outside of a religious capacity. If they threaten to discontinue lessons if you do not perform any superfluous acts then they are abusing their power.
  2. Belittling or Bullying– Sometimes it is difficult to tell if you are being bullied but easy to see if someone else is the victim so this might be easier to see occurring to group mates. If a teacher is bullying or constantly berating current students, former students, current or former group members or others in the community; especially to elevate their status or to make themselves look better they are being abusive.
  3. Telling You Who You Can Interact With– Abusive romantic partners will cut their victims off from friends, family, and community and abusive teachers will do the same. If your teacher is demanding you to remove people from your life or telling you not to interact with others in the community they are isolating you. A good teach may help you to see others who are abusive or unsupportive of you in your life but would never demand you to stop spending your time with someone. (With the exception of a teacher witnessing domestic abuse. If you are being physically hurt by someone in your life please call 1−800−799−7233) Furthermore, if a teacher is telling you not to interact with other groups or people in the pagan community they are isolating you from other perspectives.
  4. Taking Credit for Your Work– Did you write a blog on a subject you and your teacher just went over and they say it was their idea? Did a spell you worked come out great and your teacher said it was due to their influence that it worked. This is also a sign of abuse. If your teacher is taking credit for things you did or saying your work did well due to their blessing they are gaslighting you. They are belittling your power instead of nurturing it.
  5. Refusing You Continued Education based on Race, Sexual Orientation, Gender, or Reproductive Capability– If a teacher started your education and suddenly tells you certain lessons are not available to you but are to others based on any of the above then that teacher is being abusive. Discriminatory practices such as the above are a form of bullying that is sometimes forgotten.

These are just a few examples of abusive behavior found in recent pagan groups. Do not let teachers or leaders continue to get away with such abuses. Work with your groups and communities to develop strong responses to such allegations and to develop policies that make it very clear abusers are not welcome within the community. If you are or know anyone in a domestic abuse situation or being harmed please go to . If you do not know if a person is in need of help please consult the DASH risk assessment: .

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at, or follow me on Twitter @AutumnIronWolf



How to Handle Protesters at a Pagan Event

It’s that time of year again! When Pagan Pride Festivals and open rituals start popping up in our communities, and with them all the problems of being pagan in public. In light of the protesters visiting Nashville’s Pagan Pride day I thought it would be fitting to give some advice on how to still enjoy your day out with fellow pagans while protesters try to ruin it. These suggestions are for attendees and not organizers and I do encourage all to follow the rules set forth by the event coordinators, but sometimes everyone is following the rules and there are still gray areas on how to deal with these issues.

  • A majority of the time protesters will not be allowed into the event or will set up “shop” at the front entrance to discourage attendees from entering. For the protesters, this tactic can be very effective, especially on people who would be coming to their first event. As an attendee of a Pagan event, the best way to handle this type of protest is to walk by without acknowledging the protest. I suggest eyes down, ears closed till you get into the event or the sign-in table. If the protesters signal you out, physically touch you, or otherwise make your entrance difficult inform organizers, police, or event/ venue staff as quickly and calmly as possible.
  •   Sometimes, with open public events, protesters are able to walk in an attempt to disturb the event from the inside. This can be the most difficult time when dealing with protesters; since they are not just using volume to disrupt but their persons. As with the Nashville Pagan Pride, these protesters could also videotape their actions. If you are “in the broom-closet” this can be terrifying. I do want to take a moment and remind you that in some cases when going to an event you are giving permission to be photographed or videotaped. Before going to an event check their rules to be sure this is explained for the event its self. When done for the event or vendors they normally ask before the picture is taken and give you a chance to move. However, when the protesters are videotaping it is best to just turn your back and let them pass by. You can find the video the Nashville protesters posted online and see individuals that can be identified are clearly standing in front of the protest. Other attendees are not identifiable. I would not suggest going up to them to engage or trying to impend traffic through the event.
  •    When protesters become verbally or physically violent the best thing for an attendee to do is to get out of the way. Let the police handle the assault and give a clear and calm description of what you witnessed when asked by police or organizers. If you were involved or saw what happened to stay at the event to give your account. Help injured or angered friend remain calm and walk a safe distance away from the altercation. Do not describe parties involved by religion or group when giving police statements. Describe by the apprentice from foot to head. If people fled or left this is extremely important for police follow up as they can get group names from people involved in the groups but not always personal descriptions. Remember in the aftermath most parties are going to protect their own. This includes lying about who started what and who was involved. If you give a clear, impartial, and honest statement you will be presenting the event well and help police better investigate and prepare for next year.
  • When you see a person you know involved in the protest do not walk up to the individual or engage with them later on the issue. Maintain distance and if they notice you be polite and do not confirm your reason for presence. This is especially important if you know this person from your place of employment. Say hello, it was nice to see you, then move on. If this person later attempts to reveal your presence at the event you can then go to your HR department and honestly state you never confirmed or denied your involvement in the event while reporting the inappropriate workplace behavior.

Most importantly while attending a Pagan event remember you are representing all attendees, the event its self, and Pagans. The best way to do so is with positivity and light. When our events end up on the news because of protest mainstream media will take anything to make Neo-Paganism look bad. So don’t be the one to give them fuel, only give them the story of protesters came and were handled by the appropriate authorities or left out of boredom. Have a fun and safe festival season!

Do you have any stories about protesters at a pagan event?

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at


Fluffy Bunny, How Pagans Bully

“That group is full of fluffy bunnies, look at their clothes!”

“She is such a fluffy bunny, I can’t carry on a conversation without her insisting Margaret Murray’s Witch-Cult was real.”

“Oh, I’m not a fluffy bunny. I embrace the dark and the light.”

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  Upon entering a new community you start to pick up on the lexicon, different terms used to express ideals, stereotypes, and common experiences.  The same is true with Pagan communities, whether online or in real life you learn the difference between a bolin and an athame fairly quickly; but what about insults. Words are thrown around to distinguish the others or less than. The ones you are not. You will hear them but are they always defined?In Christianity, you will hear someone called a “rainy day Christian” or a “Christmas Catholic” both are terms used to describe a believer who only shows up to service when it suits them. In Paganism we may have a similar term, but an even more hurtful insult is being called a “fluffy bunny”. I have seen the fluffy bunny insult used in three different ways but it always is meant to distinguish an individual or group that is not authentic or a real Pagan.

The three common uses for the term fluffy bunny are 1. The first and most common is to describe the dabblers, or the Pagans that have read one book and they know it all (IReadits) and the fad followers. These are the ‘kids’ (can be adults) who wear all the jewelry they can get their hands on and buy up all the fancy tools. 2. The second is the Pagans that don’t like to think about the dark side. The Pagans who are all rainbows and sunshine and never would talk about the negative. Peace, Love and keep all the underworld away from me. 3. The third are the Pagans willing to throw away all recent historic findings to embrace the rhetoric brought forth in the early years of Neo-Paganism. These Pagans refuse to hear about the Burning Times, Gerald Gardner,  and Margaret Murray in any capacity then how they see it.


You will encounter people who fit into these three stereotypes and want to call them a fluffy bunny. You will hear other Pagans use the term and now know what they mean, but should you repeat it? With Neo-Paganism being so open to all walks of life and personal interpretation do we even have the right to bully others for practicing in a different way or choosing what they are about? I had a hard time dealing with the “Wiccans” described in the most common use of fluffy bunny when I was younger. I believed not only “Fluffy Bunnies are frequently attracted to Wicca for the sake of appearance” but anyone in my age range was as well. Anyone in my school who said they were Wiccan got lumped in with the goths, emo kids, and attention seekers. If I knew the term I would have spat it at them just as frequently as I was called a weirdo and loser.

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Which brings me to my point. As teens, most of us were bullied. We know the sting for being called names and as teens expect it. As adults, in a complicated community that does require some level of maturity to participate should we be throwing around insults like fluffy? I agree the “fluffiness” needs to combat, but how many people who are insulted for a lack of knowledge suddenly become deadly serious to learn? Instead of insults and saying behind these bunnies backs, they are”air-headed idiots more at home in a Walt Disney cartoon than in the Pagan community” Why can’t we give the opportunity for dialect and education?  I bet some of these fluffy bunnies were never given the opportunity to brush down their fur.


Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at