Sometimes, I read news stories about witches or other pagans that shock me. It is hard to know the truth just from one news story, which could be biased, but here is something has upset me.
The news piece, which I saw on the LaCrosse Tribune website, had the title Woman Claims Literal Witch Hunt in Dead Cats Case
It reported that a woman from Jackson County, Oregon, USA, who has been charged for keeping more than 100 dead cats in a broken freezer, says she is being persecuted because she is a Wiccan.
Her three children have been put in foster care and she claims she is being pressured to give up her religion in order to get them back.
However, the authorities say the children were removed from the family home because of unhealthy living conditions. Apparently investigators found cat faeces in the house and as well as discovering the dead cats, rescued 17 live cats, one of which was suffering from from distemper and E. coli and later died.
Now this story upsets me for several reasons.
Firstly, I certainly don't like to hear about people or animals suffering and any news story with that kind of subject matter is disturbing.
Secondly, on a personal level, this story worries me because I wonder whether people reading it will think all witches are mad cat women with dirty houses and the corpses of dead pets in their fridges awaiting burial. (We aren't, I can assure you.)
Thirdly, I am very concerned that the woman's claims might be true and the authorities are persecuting her because of her religion.
Now, anyone who has 100 dead cats in their freezer and cat poo all over the place clearly has a problem - but it is far more likely to be a social, emotional, mental or physical problem than anything to do with what religion they follow. And forcing someone to convert to another faith or become an atheist is certainly not going to make them suddenly house proud - it is only going to add to their problems.
I would imagine what this woman needs is some help from social workers, health workers and counsellors - and perhaps other members of the local Wiccan community - to deal with any issues she has, get her home put right, her pets treated and her children returned.
I hope she gets all that - and that her fears of being persecuted in a witch hunt are proved unfounded.
You can read the full story on the LaCrosse Tribune website at: http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/article_e3d91cca-29d2-11e0-9f6b-001cc4c002e0.html