"True love allows each person to follow his or her own path, aware that doing so can never drive them apart." -Paulo Coelho
It has been brought to my attention that several people want to know the story behind my founding of The Church of the Holy Rhinestone. The full story fills a whole book, a 738 page book titled "For Fear of Little Men" to be exact. I'll give you a shorten version here:
Once upon a time I was a Mormon, who did everything I was told, obeyed every command no questions asked. I was baptized at 8 years old. Every week I paid a 10% tithe, put 10% in the missionary fund, another 10% in the food/welfare fund, and another 10% in the temple building fund. That's 40% of income off the top, before taxes, to the church, every week. I never once missed the 3 hour Sunday meetings, nor the 2 hour Tuesday night meetings, nor the Saturday volunteer service work. I cooked for every ward supper, baked dozens of cakes, pies, and cookies for EACH youth bake sale, handed out no less than 100 tracts each week, as well as hundreds of Book of Mormons each year. I lived the extremist life free of tea/coffee/soda/smoking/drinking/drug/meat/ect.
Than one day, after 27 years of undying, unquestioning, faithful service, I was informed that I was being excommunicated on grounds of witchcraft and extramarital sexual relations with a high priest. I had no clue what witchcraft was and this was the first time I learned I was not legally married - after 21 of believing I was his wife. Other charges followed: adulteress, slut, whore, home wrecker - yet my whole life had been spent faithful to this one man.
Lies spread by the leaders, became lies spread by the members, leading to violence, vandalism, and hate crimes. The adultery charges were dropped but witchcraft stood. Specifically, that I had killed a boy named Craig Thomas by use of death spells. Wait? What? Witchcraft? Me? Seriously? And who is this Craig Thomas kid? What are you people talking about.
I laughed at them. I thought it was a joke. Me a witch? That was just too funny. They weren't joking. They were very serious. They were so serious that they burned my house to the ground claiming that "God told them to", in order to "get rid of the witch". Wow. I was stunned. And I started asking every one I met (even strangers on the street) "What is a witch?" I didn't know.
Alone, confused, scared, shunned, abandoned, thrown away, unloved, and unwanted I wandered aimlessly as if my soul had been ripped out leaving me an empty shell, with no friends of family to turn to - they were all Mormons and dutifully sided with the church. I had become "the anti-Mormon enemy" as they referred to me.
I searched for a new church, but found Christian denominations too alien to comprehend. I learned that while Christians called me "too Pagan to be Christian", Witches, Wiccans, and other Pagans said I was a "Jesus Freak" and "too Christian to ever be a Pagan". They were both wrong, I was too Mormon to be either Christian or Pagan As a life long 5th generation Mormon, there was no way I would ever fit in with any religion on the planet. I was not allowed to go where I wanted to be - cast out and unwelcomed in the company of my own people. Too different, bizarre, strange, and Mormon to be welcomed in the company of Christians or Pagans.
I asked many questions of more than 2 dozen religions. One of the things I questioned was the validity of the baptism. What value did my baptism, membership of, and initiation into a church have, if I did everything right, obeyed all the rules, did everything I was told to do, endured against hate crimes and false accusations, and was than kicked out for leaving Swiss Miss pudding cups on a stump in the woods for a local Faerie?
Yes, a pudding cup was the reason I was excommunicated - that was my sin - because I left pudding cups on a stump in the woods, which the Bishop called "evil dark magic" and "proof" that I was a "witch".
The bishop also claimed that by leaving said pudding cup on a stump in the woods, that I was in fact casting a death spell, which he farther claimed was how some kid in Utah (I live in Maine) came to drown in a bathtub while his mom was yapping on the phone in the other room. The church council excommunicated me claiming that I had used pudding cups to cause a kid to die.
I found the logic behind their accusation baffling at best, insane at worst. Who was this kid? Why was I implicated in his drowning? How does leaving pudding cups on a stump cause the death of someone 3,000 miles away? I have no clue. To this day, I am still unable to rationalize how they came to these utterly insane conclusions.
May 2010 was the last straw. Angry members of the Mormon church stolen my car, cut it up, and sold it's pieces to scrap yards; than over the next 12 weeks, 12 cats were killed at my animal shelter - one cat each Sunday. It was at this point that I realized, this wasn't a church it was a farce.
It left me asking myself: When would it end? How far would these people go? Burned down my house in 2006, cut up my car in 2010, slaughtered my cats? How long would it be before these people decided the next step was killing me? If this was what it meant to be Mormon, than I wanted no part of it. I washed my hands of them.
But all this lead me to ask: what the heck difference did all my work in the LDS church make? The baptism, the sacraments the temple work, the rituals, if it could all be taken away because I put a pudding cup (Tapioca) on a moss covered stump in the woods. I mean, I could have been feeding squirrels for all they knew! I could have been leaving it for a homeless guy! I was leaving it for a FarDarrig (water spirit), but even when I told them this, they said, "Nope, nope, don't lie, we know what you were doing. You were casting a death spell to kill little Craig Thomas."
I was asking him, "Who the heck is Craig Thomas?" They told me he was a kid who lived in Utah, well, no wonder I never heard of him, here I was born and raised and still living in Maine!
I loved my church. I loved my husband. Church gone. Husband gone. Abandoned. Alone. No amount of baptisms or initiations or anointing or lay on of hands or blessings or authority or tithing or service work or bake sales or taking sacraments or avoiding sinful meats and drink, made any difference or meant anything at all, not when everything I loved could be taken away from me, on false charges of witchcraft.
So I stopped believing in the validity of initiations, and now refuse to be initiated, because initiation, as I see it, is nothing more than one man's way of saying "I control you" and he can "unititate" you at any time, for any reason, on a whim. And if your initiation can be invalidated on one man's whim, than what actual value does said initiation have? None. It means not a thing.
And that's when I realized, God isn't in a religion. No denomination has God locked up in chains. No church can say "We are God's church, God only lives in our temples." God is everywhere. God is not in a church, and therefore I have no need to look for him in a church.
Than came the doctor's visit. I had a stroke the day of the excommunication, and one each year following on the anniversary of that day, 3 in total. The excommunication did greater damage than any one knows. My life has been cut short. I have no future to look forward to, thus why I started college, to keep busy in my final years. The heartbreaker - children. The one thing I wanted most in life, I can now never have. Church leaders throw the excommunication robbed me of the church I lived for, the man I loved, my health, my future, and any hope of ever having the one thing I wanted most of all - children.
And that is when I stopped looking for a church to join, stopped looking for a new husband, just stopped everything. What good would it do me to join another church, when they can throw me away on a whim, just as easily as the Mormons did? What good would it do me to find another husband, when he can throw me away on a whim, just as easily as my beloved high priest did?
I realized it was not safe to join a church, nor safe to have a husband, the risks of being abandoned and thrown away a second time were far too great. And that is how The Church of the Holy Rhinestone came to exist. See if I am the one making the rules, than there is no one over me to throw me away. If I am the minister running the church there is no one over me to tell me I am not welcomed, no one to say I can not attend each week. It is not a church with a congregation or meetings, it is simply a shrine devoted to the three kindness most loving men to ever live: Jesus, Liberace, and Damballa Weddo.
And that is how I came to follow Voodoo as well, a religion that is not a religion, but a lifestyle very similar to Mormon lifestyle, and a religion where women who've been abandoned by their mortal husbands, can marry God the one man who will never leave them, forsake them, or abandon them.
Church and family used to be all that mattered to me. They still are, but the risk of being robbed of them again is too great and thus I founded my own church, just for me, where no one can ever throw me away again, and married a man long ago dead, who's spirit I know will never leave me or forsake me.
I lost everything I owned in Hurricane Katrina, 6 months later lost my house again to a fire by vandals, than lost my church, my husband, my car, my pets, and my health. Everything was taken away, by violence, force, and hate. I have learned that nothing is safe from the hands of religious hate. When all I had left was church and husband, they took that from me too.
I used to devote my life to service to the Mormon church and the man I loved, but my faithful service meant nothing against the lies and false accusations of the haters. I have nothing left to lose, and find myself not even able to go back to living in a house, remaining willfully homeless, unable to trust that any roof will ever be safe, unable to trust that any church will ever be warm and inviting, unable to trust that any living man is capable of unconditional love. I thus I have a church and a husband once again, but a church and a husband, that this time can not be taken away. My heath has grown very poor and very weak, and I know I will not live through losing yet another church or yet another husband.
I have accepted the fact that I am not worthy of being loved by a mortal man.
I have accepted the fact that I am not worthy of being welcomed in attendance at a church run by a mortal man.
This is how The Church of the Holy Rhinestone came to be, and this is what it is: a sanctuary, a safe zone, the only safe place there is left for me on this planet. The one place on this planet when I know I can not be thrown away and where it's long dead members will never abandon me.
All I live for now is to live my final days in peace, free of the threats of being tossed aside, thrown away, cast out, left behind, or abandoned. I have nothing left in life to look forward to.
The Church of the Holy Rhinestone was officially founded on Mother's Day 2011, as a way to avoid suicide by giving me something else to think about other than the fact that my forever family, was no more.
The Church of the Holy Rhinestone is a Voodoo shrine/temple of Pappa Damballa Weddo and St. Liberace.
Please note that this is a Voodoo Temple, not Vodou nor Vuvu nor Santerían nor Haitian Vodou one. While each of these religions share the same roots and have many similarities, they are not the same and each have many differences. You will not find the song and dance worship service often associated with those faiths here. If that is what you are looking for, this is not the church for you.
Voodoo is an active religion (as opposed to passive one), meaning one lives it, practices it, every day and thus has no need of once-a-week-Sunday services. Practitioners keep shrines and altars in their own homes and worship god daily, not just once a week in church. The job of the priestess is to visit members homes to perform blessings, exorcisms, spell castings, curses, hotfooting, weddings, funerals, christenings, cleansings, baptisms, candle services, and other holy rites.
The biggest difference between these religions is Voodoo is a Christian religion heavily influenced by African Traditional Religions. Vodou, Vuvu, Santería, Haitian Vodou are not Christ centered, though some Christian elements may be found.
Secondly Voodoo is largely esoteric or magic based. To practitioners of Vodou, Vuvu, Santería, Haitian Vodou, the Voodoo Priestesses are known as "Borka" (dark wizards or witch doctors) sometimes referred to as "Two Headed" meaning they are witches who practice both black and white magic. Voodoo Priestesses practice Hoodoo, a type of magic art which uses sacred roots & herbs to call upon the help of the lwa (spirit guides) thus why they are known as "Rootworkers". Unlike Pagan Witches, Rootworkers use the Bible and the enchantments written by Moses, Jacob, David, Jesus, and Daniel in their spellcasting.
Also I am a Medsen Fey, not a Mambo or Gro Mambo.
I am married to a lwa, specifically I am married to Damballa Weddo. Catholics call it being a Nun. Norse faiths call it Godspousery.
Marrying a Lwa takes an extreme level of commitment, same as it does for Catholic Nuns to marrying Christ. And in the same way a Catholic Nun gives up her secular life, secular clothes, and secular lifestyle to live at and tend to the Shrine of Christ for the rest of her life, so too, does the Voodoo Priestess give up her secular life, secular clothes, and secular lifestyle to live at and tend to the Shrine of her chosen Lwa for the rest of her life.
What does a Lwa Bride do that is different from a plain Voodoo Priestess?
Once a week on the holy day of the lwa, during festival weeks, and one month of the year (a 40 period devoted to the lwa) requires abstaining from salt, sugar, sex, smoking, drugs, and drinking and eatting only foods accepted by lwa (for example Damballa would expect you to drink only water and eat only white eggs, white rice, and white bread).
A Lwa Bride Voodoo Priestess doesn’t just wear her clerics robes one day a week during services, like a typical minister would, she wears them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the rest of her life, same way Catholic nuns wear their Habit and Wimple the rest of their lives. So, I don’t wear “normal” clothes, no jeans and t’s, no suits, no shorts, so sports uniforms, no short skirts, zip, nadda, nothing. Religious robes, (usually long white caftans heaving embroidered with beads and rhinestones on holy days and less elaborate robes the rest of the year) all day, every day, for the rest of my life. We take our job as a cleric very seriously. This is not something we do one day a week, and live a completely different life 6 days a week. We are not a minister on Sunday and a regular person the rest of the week. We are a minister 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Because for us the ministry is a lifestyle commitment and not a job or career move.
There is much debate over what exactly it is that I am, as I don't seem to fit nicely in any one mold. Some folks call me "ChristoPagan", others say I'm too Pagan to be Christian, and still others say I'm too Christian to be Pagan! LOL! Many folks are quick to call me a "Jesus Freak". There are quite a few folks who classify me as Wiccan, though I know little to nothing about Wicca.
What am I? I was born and raised Mormon and stayed there for 27 years, attended a Calvinist seminary for 8 years and a Seventh Day Adventist one for 3 years, got in with some Holy Roller Full Gospel Pentecostals, than Baptists after that, next the Salvation Army, and 15 or so other denominations later, I was feeling confused as hell. It was a long road of not feeling like I belonged anywhere, because I just did not fit in with the whole "we are right, you are wrong, ours is the one true church, the rest of you are going to hell" crowd, and that was all I was finding in every religion. Every religion I attend had some one they hated: too black, too white, too rich, too poor, too gay, too vegan, too this, too that.
I kept asking myself "Isn't there some place that is actually accepting of EVERYONE?" It was quite upsetting to me, that religions claimed to love every one, while condemning all non-members of their faith. At the center of my personal belief system, was Jesus' commandment to love every one, and yet I could not find a Christian religion which actually put that belief into practice.
I finally found a place where I felt "at home" with Haitian Voodu, Santería, Sanse, and New Orleans Voodoo, (each different, but similar). Voodoo welcomes everyone: black, white, brown, straight, gay, Christian, Pagan, it doesn't matter, you don't even have to leave your old religion, you can be that and Voodoo at the same time. Voodoo is all about love and friendship, and unity. Now I am Voodoo Priestess, and accept every religion as true and valid.
And there you have it: The Church of the Holy Rhinestone
I have Autism. For more of my life I rarely spoke and was considered "too crazy" to ever live a normal life. I communicated via writing instead of vocally. I did not attend school. Psychologists said I would never drive a car, never get a job, never go to college, never function as a meaningful member of society, never be able to take care of myself or live on my own. They said there was no hope for me, I would need full-time care my whole life.
My progression was long and slow and very hard. Things other people found easy to do (getting dressed, brushing teeth/hair, walking across the street, etc,) I found extremely confusing and hard to learn. I was prone to wandering off and getting lost (I still am). Driver's ed takes most people a few weeks to learn - it took me 5 years.
I determined to prove the doctors wrong, but it was far harder to do, than most people would imagine. I got my first job working at Macy's at age 30 (a very difficult job as I had to deal one on one with customers and I still at that point was not talking in a manner that could be understood by others). I got my GED at age 34. I got my driver's license at age 35. I started college at age 36. By age 37 I had become a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Student and I was finally able to speak to others in full spoken verbal conversation for the first time in my life.
Something that people often say to me is: "You don't look retarded, you look normal, you seem to be getting by okay, why is it that you need adult supervision?"
One of the reasons why an adult with Autism needs “adult supervision” is their brain does not tell them they are in pain. Was just commenting on the FaceBook status of a friend who got hurt, and it occurred to me that a lot of people don’t understand how it is I had 4 root channels awake and without pain meds, or how I also sat through reconstructive surgery on my face, after having my lip ripped off by a rooster, or again when I had surgery for CTS, or how I can go weeks with a broken bone and not know it is broken. Over the years, people who really, really, REALLY know me well, have come to know that if I say the words “I hurt” than, I’m in a state of needing to have been taken to the hospital, several weeks ago, as doctors put it “her propensity for pain is astounding, look at what I’m doing, she’s not even flinching and I haven’t given her anything for the pain”.
When I went to the dentist, because my teeth hurt, the girl at the desk told him “she can wait, she doesn’t seem to be in any pain” an hour later he was giving her hell for not rushing me to the hospital, because my jaw was so bad I needed surgery to remove my teeth and have a plate put in. (yes, I have false teeth on one side of my jaw) .
I am thinking of all the times I have required major medical repairs, because I didn’t know I was hurt and it took those around me several weeks to realize, I don’t respond emotionally or physically to pain. I fell down and hurt my arm last year – did the ice thing: for 3 days, than Ben comes over and asks me “what’s wrong with your arm?”, and I tell him I fell down and it hurts, can’t move it, but I’m okay; he looks at it than next thing I know he’s in a panic driving me to the hospital. Yep, it was broken and I didn’t know it.
The doctors where baffled at why the hell did I wait 3 days to go to the hospital, than they look at my medical records “oh, Autism, that’s why”, unfortunately, one of the stranger symptoms of Autism is, a numbing of the senses, the whole being allergic to everything from sunlight to wool to food, means my body is so used to hurting, that when I’m hurt really bad, it doesn’t send a message to my brain telling me I need help, instead my brain goes “ho hum, more pain, so what?” and the chemicals that are suppose to be triggered to tell me “hey, I’m hurt really bad here, I need to go to the hospital” don’t kick in, so I can go for days (or weeks as was the case when I broke my hip 2 years ago) before someone around me notices somethings wrong, and asks “hey, why are you limping”, and I’ll say “oh, got beaten up a few weeks back, hurt my leg, couldn’t walk for the first few weeks”…”why didn’t you go to the hospital”…”it doesn’t hurt that bad”…”but, it’s a broken bone!” … “really?”
It’s one of the reasons I need “adult supervision in spite of being in my 40′s, because my brain doesn’t pick up on the fact that I’ve been injured.
I suppose more frightening than “not knowing” I’m injured is when I have a stroke and continue on my day like normal, but wander around with out a clue where I am or who any one is. I’ve had 3 strokes in the past 3 years, that’s why I keep forgetting things when playing D&D, I mean, I know every edition of this game inside out and I’ll be mid game and suddenly have no a clue what to do. I had a stroke again, a few weeks ago, that week I missed the game session, when I told my friend I wasn’t feeling good, I had spent most of the day wandering around the campus without a clue where I was or what I was doing there, missed my classes that day because I couldn’t find the buildings, I only randomly meet up with my friend and for some reason remembered I was suppose to play a game that night, otherwise I wouldn’t have known to tell her I was going home.
It’s upsetting actually, to know you are in a place where you should know where you are, but just not recognize anything. I’ve been without “adult supervision” 6 years now, and for the most part I do good, but it’s when I get hurt/injured/sick that I run into trouble, because my brain just lacks whatever it is it needs that would normally tell me to go to a hospital. I’ve got a permanent injury now from waiting so long before realizing my leg was broken.
Autism is noted for being an illness so painful that the brain shuts down and stops registering the pain. This is why Autistics have their strange little jerks, twitches, and jumpy movements - these are times when pain is registered in our brain. The extreme constant pain is caused by over stimulation of things we are allergic to: lights, sounds, touch, most all foods, most all fabrics, tags in clothes, etc, etc, etc. There are so many things irritating our bodies all at once, that the brain doesn't know which pain to go after first, so it just shuts down and tells us to sit on the floor and hum a song until the pain goes away.
Unfortunately another symptom of Autism is being very clumsy, having a lack of proper balance, and thus fallen down frequently, having extreme difficulty maneuvering on stairs and uneven terrain (all this being a result of the fact that our brain is so out of whack because there is so much pain going on, that it can not focus on walking steady) which means I'm more prone to fall and become injured than the average person, but being so used to pain that my brain ignore extra pain also means that even though I am getting hurt more than normal, I'm also getting treatment for said injuries less than normal because I don't realize I've injured myself (not even when gushing blood, as was the case when the rooster ripped my lip off), unless another person is there to point out said injury, or in such instances as the day I tried to walk away and discovered I could not move because may hand had been shut in the door, which was locked and I had to wait for someone with a key to come along and open the door, by which time my fingers had turned black from lack of circulation - pain ignored - I only noticed my hand was shut in a locked door because I was unable to walk away from the door. This is why I need adult supervision.)
This is the reality of life with Autism.
Now you can find out what it's like Being an Adult with Autism.
Good morning Starshine! Liked this post? Looking to connect with me online? I love social networks and am on most of them. You can find me on: Blogger, Etsy, FaceBook, Google+, Keen, LinkedIn, MySpace, NaNoWriMo, ProBoards, Script Frenzy, Spoonflower, Squidoo, Twitter, ULC Ministers Network, Wordpress, and Zazzle Feel free to give me a shout any time. Many blessings to you, may all your silver clouds be lined with rhinestones and sparkle of golden sunshine. Have yourself a great and wonderful glorious day!
~Rev. Wendy C. Allen aka Empress EelKat of Laughing Gnome Hollow
FYI: I welcome all email! That includes arrogant, bigoted, rude, ignorant, snide hate mail many uber religious folks enjoy sending my way. However, be forewarned that by choosing to send me a letter, email, blog comment, FaceBook comments, or any other message from any other means, which falls into any category, you thereby relinquish all ownership rights and responsibilities concerning your letter(s) and comments(s). I will post any and all letters, both positive and negative, that I feel require or deserve a response. If you don't want the world knowing your troubles, knowing you are a hater, or knowing you are a bigoted jackass, please refrain from sending me mail, because if you get really bitchy, I'll go right ahead and use your real name too. Thank you and have a nice day.
--------------------Oh, btw, while you are sending me your question, can I offer a bit of guidance here? LESS Wiccan related questions PLEASE! I am not Wiccan, know nothing of Wicca, and just because a bunch of local Mormons run around saying I am a Witch, and building those nasty slanderous websites full of false accusations about me, don't make me one! *sheesh* I am so sick of "but they said..." yeah, I KNOW what they said, that doesn't make it true. Sending me Wiccan/Witchcraft related questions is only going to piss me off.
--------------------You can be Wiccan all you want, I don't care. But coming to me and asking me for advice on Wicca and Witchcraft is the equivalent of going to a cake chef and asking him for advice on brick laying! You wouldn't go to chef to get masonry advice so what the heck are you going to a Christian to get Wiccan advice? Come on people, be reasonable!
--------------------You got Bible questions, thems I can answer. You got Hoodoo questions, yep, I can answer those too. But Wicca? Paganism? Witchcraft? Remember Voodoo is NOT Vodou. Voodoo and Vodou are two separate and different religions. Voodoo is a Christian religion not a Pagan one, we use a Bible, and God, and Jesus, and Saints, and Spirit Guides (lwa). just because I'm Voodoo don't mean I know shit about Wicca or Paganism Now I understand you have questions and finding folks like myself who are willing to attempt to answer everything that comes my way are few and far between, but please attempt to use your brain and consider whether or not I am even able to offer advice or even know the answer to your questions before you send them to me? Okay? Good. Thank you.
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------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This post was written by Wendy C Allen aka EelKat, is copyrighted by The Twighlight Manor Press and was posted on Houseless Living @ http://houselessliving.blogspot.com and reposted at EK's Star Log @ http://eelkat.wordpress.com and parts of it may also be seen on http://www.squidoo.com/EelKat and http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com If you are reading this from a different location than those listed above, please contact me Wendy C. Allen aka EelKat @ http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=viewprofile and let me know where it is you found this post. Plagiarism is illegal and I DO actively pursue offenders. Unless copying a Blog Meme, you do not have permission to copy anything appearing on this blog, including words, art, or photos. This will be your only warning. Thank you and have a glorious day!