Wiccan priestess Deborah Maynard
“Blessed Be, Aho, and Amen,” aren’t the words members of the Iowa House of Representatives are accustomed to hear at the closing of the invocation marking the House’s opening ceremonies, but that’s just what happened yesterday when a Wiccan priestess delivered the prayer.
"We call this morning to God, Goddess, Universe, that which is greater than ourselves to be here with us today,” said Deborah Maynard, who delivered the first prayer by a Wiccan in the assembly. “By the Earth that is in our bones and centers us, may all here remember our roots and those whom we are here to represent….. We call this morning to Spirit, which is ever present, to help us respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Be with this legislative body and guide them to seek justice, equity and compassion in the work that is before them today.”
A number of Christian lawmakers didn’t attend the opening ceremony to protest the priestess’ historic invocation.
Others, like State Rep. Rob Taylor (R-Iowa), turned their backs during the priestess’ prayer. Taylor said he asked himself “What would Jesus do?” and decided Jesus would “be in the presence of a prayer, but peacefully protest.” He added that “everyone has the right to come into our chamber – it is the people’s chamber – and pray and she did and this was the way for me to peacefully protest.”
Members of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ organized prayers outside the Capitol. "We feel that this is completely out of sync with the traditions of our state and our nation to seek guidance from the occult. We believe it is just not a good idea," said their Pastor Demastus, according to the Des Moines Register.
State Rep. Liz Bennett (D-Iowa) says she didn’t know inviting the witch would “be as controversial as it has been,” she told KCCI.
Really? You can’t see why inviting the guys who dance around Stonehenge with made-up incantations would be the least bit controversial?
Wiccans believe in magic with a k (seriously, they spell it “magick,” you know, to distinguish it from it’s more famous cousin, magic.)
A site for Wicca spirituality explains:
“Magick is another word for transformation, creation, and manifestation. Wicca magick is a tool we use to act on the subtle - or energy, or quantum - level of reality.”
The religion appeared in the 20th century and relies on a mixture of neopagan beliefs and practices. There’s no one leader or central authority, and they’re represented by a 5-point pentagram star inside a circle.
Maynard, who calls herself a Cabot witch, said that the hardest part was limiting her prayer to one minute.
The peculiar ending to the witch's prayer seems to be a weird hodgepodge of religions and cultures. "Blessed Be" is a neopagan Wiccan greeting that means "you wish good and positive" things upon the person greeted. "Aho" is a Native American word that means "thank you" and "Amen" means "So be it" and is used by Christians traditionally at the end of prayers.
Full text of Maynard’s invocation:
"We call this morning to God, Goddess, Universe, that which is greater than ourselves to be here with us today. By the Earth that is in our bones and centers us, may all here remember our roots and those whom we are here to represent.
By the fire that gives us light and passion, may all here remain passionate about the work that must be done for the people of Iowa.
By the air that gives us breath and logic, may all here find thoughtful solutions to the problems that are presented.
By the water that flows through our blood and stirs our emotions, may all here draw on that emotional intelligence which helps us to see the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
We call this morning to Spirit, which is ever present, to help us respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Be with this legislative body and guide them to seek justice, equity and compassion in the work that is before them today.”