How To Be A Shitty Pagan During A Pandemic

Right now the world is on pause for the most part as people of all ages, socioeconomic classes, races, genders, and backgrounds practice self-isolation in hopes of flattening the curve during the COVID-19 pandemic currently sweeping the planet. Due to poor leadership and preparation and lack of widespread testing here in the United States, it is a time of fear and uncertainty. Resources are difficult to come by, and there is a lot of misinformation abounding that both adds to the panic people are experiencing and curtails the spread of good information.

Pagans are no different. 


While browsing the Pagan interwebs and social media, I've seen a disturbing outpouring of ideas that are problematic at best and dangerous at worst. Mostly dangerous, because it appears that we're in the worst timeline. 

There are the people who have suddenly and inexplicably decided that all this quarantining is the Earth fighting back against humanity:

Take it from me - a left-wing, dirt-worshipper - a deadly virus is not "the earth making a recovery". I've seen similar comments from mystically minded folks on Facebook and Twitter that all seem to echo the idea that we are being punished for treating the earth badly. I don't know why, exactly, we keep trying to tell ourselves that the planet is out to get us, but it's not. Stop all that right now. 

Then there are the pagan bloggers that are trying to tell people that the Corona Virus CAN'T KILL PAGANS. (After I shared these links on Facebook yesterday in an attempt to shame this particular blog, they have since added a disclaimer stating that they intended this as satire, but if you get something out of it...*shrug*)

The very worst kind of Pagans, however, are the shop owners like those at Magical Omaha who sent the following email blast to their mailing list titled Our Florida Water is a GREAT Hand Sanitizer!🙏

I cannot believe that in the year of our Beyonce Two-Thousand Twenty y'all are gonna come in here and try this crap. 

I don't know who this Tammy is that Magical Omaha consulted who told them that friction kills viruses and soap is just there as a fun bonus item, but that is not true. At all. In any sense. And it absolutely kills me to have to tell you all this, but burning sage does not "dispel illness" from your home. It doesn't. At all. That's not even pseudoscience. It's a dangerous lie. Additionally, trying to sell Florida water as a hand sanitizer lacks a basic understanding of why hand sanitizers are effective, and why we don't just dump out our bottles of Yves St. Laurent every time we get a scrape. Yes, alcohol kills germs, but all the other oils and scent agents in perfume - FYI Florida water is perfume - can be incredibly irritating if POURED ON YOUR HANDS DIRECTLY IN LARGE QUANTITIES REPEATEDLY WHICH IS WHAT THEY ARE RECOMMENDING YOU DO. IRRITATING YOUR SKIN IS NOT A GREAT IDEA WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO KEEP BACTERIA AND VIRUSES OUT. 

Why is soap important, especially when dealing with the coronavirus? Let's ask science!
Coronavirus is an ‘enveloped virus’. This means it has a protective outer layer known as a ‘lipid bilayer’. The molecules making up this layer are shaped like a tadpole, with a water-loving (hydrophilic) round head and a water-hating (hydrophobic) tail. These molecules arrange themselves into a ‘bilayer’: two layers piled on top of each other into a sheet, with tails pointing inwards and heads pointing outwards. The molecules are pulled closely into each other to protect the hydrophobic tails from the water in your respiratory droplets when you cough or sneeze. The hydrophilic heads are very ‘sticky’, meaning the virus is very effective at sticking to your hands – perfect for a microbe that’s trying very hard to infect you. Soap molecules also have this tadpole structure, which is what makes it so useful. When you have something oily on your hands, running water won’t get rid of it. Add soap to your hands – the hydrophobic tail will cling to the oil, and the hydrophilic head will stick to the water. Now, the oil will come straight off. Because the soap molecules are so similar to the ones making up the outer layer of the virus, the molecules in the lipid bilayer are as strongly attracted to soap molecules as they are to each other. This disrupts the neatly-ordered shell around the virus, dissolving it in the running water and killing the virus.
The most gracious I can be about this lie that "smudging removes illness" is from a whole bunch of articles a few years ago that state "studies show smudging can reduce airborne viruses". And then they all link to each other, which is always a sign that the information is being taken out of context or overblown. However, I did a tiny bit of digging and came upon this link to a study from 2007 that said burning a specific wood in large enough quantities that it filled an entire room with smoke for a full hour showed a large reduction in bacteria in that room for 24 hours. That's not sage smudging, and y'all know it.

Also, inviting people to your store to buy some shells and get a walkthrough on proper smudging technique is exactly what the government is telling us not to do right now, Magical Omaha, so maybe cut the shit and get with the quarantine.

I'm continuing to see Pagan businesses defend their holding of public rituals and remaining open and offering goods and services to the public. And...I get it. Shutting down suddenly for a small business is absolutely terrifying. You know what else is terrifying? Trying to decide which person gets the last available ventilator in the hospital.

Edit: 3/19 - As of this morning Magical Omaha / Next Millennium are still encouraging people to break quarantine and peddling their lies in order to make a quick buck. FLORIDA WATER AND OTHER PERFUMES ARE NOT HAND SANITIZERS. If you have a cut and absolutely no access to any antiseptics, the alcohol in perfume can help to disinfect, but all of the other things that go in to perfumes are irritants that can cause your skin to become less effective at keeping viruses and bacteria out of your body. 

Shame on Magical Omaha/Next Millennium for spreading dangerous lies in order to make a quick buck

I understand that people are trying to quickly come up with creative ways to make money while their storefronts or restaurants or other public facing business has to shut its doors in order to protect the most vulnerable among us from contracting a potentially deadly virus. I understand it's difficult and inconvenient, and believe me I'm enjoying all the videos on social media of people trying to have a good time while isolating. It's fun to laugh through the fear.

What's not fun is seeing people spread fear, bad information, and trying to take financial advantage of a scared populace by telling them that soap doesn't work and telling them that sage and perfume will keep them healthy.

Stay home if you can. Wash your hands. Don't spread bullshit.

If you see a Pagan blogger or business spreading lies, feel free to let me know. I will be happy to name and shame them publicly, because if there is anything worse than a forced quarantine, it's a forced quarantine with people actively trying to make it worse.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Continued submissions:

I am glad that this blog post is helping to spread awareness about Pagan companies who are attempting to profit off of fear, product scarcity, and ignorance. Below are even more additions that have been sent in.

If you keep sending them, I will keep naming and shaming these companies. 

A company called Domina Lunae Apothecary is marketing this essential oil fragrance spray as a witchy hand sanitizer.

It contains absolutely no alcohol or other cleaning agents.

Update 3/23/20!

After people reported Domina Lunae's misleading product description, the company has now removed the "hand sanitizer" language and is now appropriately titling it an aromatherapy spray only. 

Thank you all for helping keep Pagan businesses accountable!


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