Before I begin, let me say that much of this is hypothetical…completely hypothetical.
Flying Poppet posted an interesting piece about a bit of a brouhaha going on in the African Tradition circles. I was blissfully unaware of these shenanigans until I read this…
Which I reblogged yesterday. There’s been a bit of dialog and some interesting fact finding on the part of both Poppet and LJWitch, which you can find in the comments on the above post.
Ok, so now that everyone’s caught up…
Let’s step into alternative possibilities here. Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that this little ritual of Dr. Kioni never took place. After all, none of us were there, right? All we have is the photographic evidence which was apparently well-publicized across both Facebook and major newspapers like USA Today.
What if Dr. Kioni had never performed any ritual or spellwork? What if…and it’s possible…he knows just enough to fake the aftermath. Mambo Racine has stated that there are Haitian Voudou rituals that do involve the live burning of a chicken. They’re not pretty, they’re not nice, but they do exist.
Having some (although not full) education in these worlds, I know I know enough right this minute to fake some pretty impressive things. Granted, the audience or clients would have to be fairly ignorant, but I’m pretty sure I could pull off…well being a Santera, for instance.
The police stated that they could not say with certainty if the chicken was alive or dead when it was burned. There are no witnesses, and the client that Dr. Kioni did this work for is anonymous. I would be to, if I were that person, but that’s irrelevant. The person may or may not exist. I’m going conspiracy theory here.
So…if he faked the entire ritual, just barbecued a chicken and threw it on a grave with some rum and a cigar (and really, how many of us wouldn’t know about the rum and cigar?)…what would he get from that?
I can tell you what he’d get. Because humans love a train wreck. I saw it myself when Swamp Witch and I had that minor incident. Both of our hits went up astronomically. People just can’t get enough of that stuff. The meaner, the better. I had a decision after that, and so did she. We could have continued the battle, spewing venomous filth all over the internet, and would have had extremly popular blogs to show for it. But we both decided to take the high road.
You simply can’t buy this kind of publicity.
So Cat Yronwode has jumped into the fray, and her son as well. I wonder if her hits have gone up as well? Hmmm…yes, I’d imagine so. Just that USA Today article would have multiplied Dr. Kioni’s traffic ten-fold…maybe even hundred-fold. Since Cat’s drawn her line in the sand, her web traffic has soared as well.
The finger-pointing, the name calling, and the petition signing continue. And will do so, through the foreseeable future. And both of them will be raking in the cash while the battle lines are drawn.
A true conspiracy theorist might even suggest this was all orchestrated…planned for their mutual benefit. After all…the original argument seemed to revolve around money…
The question is then, who is the real victim? Is it Dr. Kioni? Cat Yronwode? Does it matter which one of them is right and which one is wrong? Either or both could be guilty or innocent.
No it doesn’t matter. Because we’re the real victims here. Because every single person who practices an African Tradition is now a suspect. Every Santera/Santero, every Voudouisant, every Hoodooist, every Palo practitioner is now guilty in the eyes of the Western world. Now we’re all capable of horrendous, violent torture of animals. It was bad enough that the average Joe Shmo American couldn’t grasp the necessity of animal sacrifice; now we’re abusing the animals before as well.
The contamination will spread, I guarantee it. There are woefully ignorant people in the world who would love to believe the worst about all Pagans. This is just fuel for their fire…and we know what happens when you mix witches and fire. *shudder*
To give benefit of the doubt, Dr. Kioni could have been doing what he believed was a legitimate ceremony. He might have seriously believed the soul of the deceased was willing to work with him. He may have believed the plight of his client was drastic enough to require this type of sacrifice. He may not have made the decision lightly. Do I believe it? No, not necessarily. He strikes me as something of a snake-oil salesman. But I have known good people, people who had religion in their hearts, go bad like this. To be tempted by the money because they didn’t feel their spirits were bringing it to them fast enough. It isn’t pretty when it happens, but I can feel some compassion if that is the case. That doesn’t mean I’m going to contract him for services or recommend him to anyone…but I can see that side.
Same thing with the Yronwodes. Maybe they didn’t start the petition. Often times, friends will jump in and “help,” when they only serve to make matters worse. It’s possible their followers are a bit out of their realm of control. It happens. They might also have the best for their community in their hearts, they may truly want to live the whole life as I desire to…not to have to separate my spiritual side from the business side. To be able to work and support myself…for my spirits to support me…through working with them. It could be. Or it might not. They have done a great deal of work in preserving the Hoodoo heritage and making information available to people who would otherwise have no access. I have my concerns as to whether that’s a good thing or not…but that doesn’t mean their hearts are necessarily in the wrong place, either.
However, I don’t think that’s the point. I think the point is…and what we should be righteously outraged about…is what it has done to us. We’re not going to make a dime off of this. We’re likely to suffer for it, if only in little annoying ways. This entire episode has put all of our good PR to waste…we’ve been set back 20 years at least.
We are the victims here. I’m not going to waste any more pity on either of them.