When we last spoke with A.C. she gave us a quick tutorial on Paganism and spoke a bit about her family background. This time around, she and Patty leave Michigan en route for Corcoran, CA:
Patty: If you had to guess, what percent of the people in your life are religious minorities and what percent is mainstream?
A.C.: In my own life, about 90% of the folks are some type of Pagan, meaning, family and co-workers. There are people in Magickal Media who are Christian (and one Shinto lad)... however they believe in the practice of Magick and they don't think it's from Satan or dangerous. I believe that's why many Christians fear us, is because of our use of Magick. In most of our external lives, we are surrounded by people in the religious majority. Mostly that has been a good thing. Nice people with solid values. We've encountered some prejudices... for instance, we had to get heavy on the Boy Scouts for trying to make Bran feel unwelcome. However, once Pagan tenets are explained, most people are accepting. There are some Pagans who want to keep their religion secret, so they'll not experience discrimination. I think we should encourage tolerance. That said... really, we are becoming mainstream.
There is a statistic that I read, that about 10% of all white prisoners are now Asatru like David H. Note: It's NOT "white supremacy.” We have a good friend who is of African descent who practices Northern Way. The positive about Asatru for prisoners is that it teaches discipline, honor, and a values system called the "Nine Virtues". If they truly believe in their religious tenets, most of which are about getting along with other people, then they are more likely to keep themselves out of trouble. Hook is the only Asatru prisoner left in PHU. He has been trying to get his Asatru religious implements allowed for three years... Runes, a blessing bowl, a drinking horn. Nothing illegal or dangerous. And the prison admin keeps ignoring his request. The Pagan chaplain for all of the California prisons is repeatedly suing the State of CA for Pagan religious rights. It's still looked at with skepticism by the authorities. Soooo, we've come a long way toward being "mainstream" but we ain't there just yet.
Patty: You have called Charles spiritual, but maintain that he does not adhere to any one religion.
AC: Charles can talk to anyone about any religion... find common ground. He can quote scripture to Christians, talk about Magick with Pagans, talk about Judaism with Jews: yeah, he has friends who are Jews. He has friends who are Satanists and Setians -- Marlin was NOT making that up. He can talk with Black Muslims in prison and not get his white ass beat! He finds something universal and shares it with the individual. Some shrinks and media skeptics have said that Charles just parrots what people say or believe to gain acceptance, or to manipulate. I don't see that at all. It is more to find common ground, to find something that he can relate to with each individual. He also doesn't just "play along to get along"; if he thinks some philosophy or doctrine is BS he will say so!
Patty: I read where you once called him a shaman. How so?
A.C.: A shaman is someone who emotionally, mentally and magickally interacts with Nature and the spirit world through trance, dreams, meditation. Shamanism is common within Pagan religions; having a person, usually an elder, who "talks" with the spirit beings, the animals, plants, etc.: finds out information to use for say, farming or hunting, and attuning one's spirit with the natural world. Charles is "tuned in" to the planet in ways that most people aren’t. I have several family members who have similar paths. They do healings, can interpret the weather from flights of birds, tell you when to plant and harvest so the plants won't be killed by frost. A problem that many Shamanic practitioners have is that they start to lose the ability to communicate with people on their level, to have logickal progression of thought, to fit in with consensus reality. You hear Charles on film "babbling" at people? Or read his writings, where he sounds all confused? Yeah.
Apparently, Charles’ shamanic duties also include matchmaking. A.C. offered up the following as an augmentation to Patty’s line of questioning:
A.C.: I met Hook thru Charles in 2007, and it was funny... you hear about Charles setting people up, demanding that "his" women sleep with all these guys, being a pimp, all of that. Actually he is like an old yenta match maker. He'll be like, "You two have sooo much in common, you should get together!" Hook often reads Charles his mail, because Charles has a really, REALLY difficult time reading. He's Asatru and into saving the ecosystem as well so Charles was trying to get him to call me. At first, Hook said, "I don't want to get involved with one of your skanky women, Charlie". And I was like, "I don't want to get involved with one of your crazy lowlife prison friends". At first it was really awkward. I asked if Hook wanted some information about Druidry, because Charles had said he was "A Druid, into the Runes and magick and Thor and Odin and all that". He really did not know the difference. So Hook explained he was Asatru, and the conversation took off from there. I began writing to David H., talking to him on the phone, and had a long visit. We were handfasted by phone on Bealtaine 2009.
If Hook had had the same advantages growing up, he'd likely be in the same place as Dave A. and myself. When Hook was only 11, his stepmother tried to whang him upside the head with a frypan. Hook grabbed a knife off the counter, and was put into the Youth Authority for assault. No education, confined to quarters most of the day, no programs, no recreation, and some of the worst criminals, gangs and thugs. He was actually indoctrinated into a life of crime there as a bank robber and an enforcer. Why he is in prison is because he and his stepmother started a fire to scam the insurance company and get out of foreclosure and his adopted father died of smoke inhalation. Hooker’s adopted dad just happened to be THE "TJ Hooker" who the movies were based on. His life with the famous TJ Hooker was a nightmare: don't believe everything you see on TV and in the movies. This guy was a corrupt cop, married four times, very abusive to his adoptive children and stepchildren alike.
Patty has never heard anything about that last part, have you? Check back next week for another informative chat with a very interesting lady.