Monday 9 April 2012: Homage to Ida
Ida Celanire Craddock (1857-1902) is buried near my home. Her grave monument seems to be the the only place on Earth where her middle name is recorded, and we still don't know who her father was. Ida was hounded and prosecuted during her life because she taught and wrote about marital relations, based on her belief, as a Spiritualist, that she was married to a spirit-husband named "Soph," and that she and Soph had intercourse every night. No one then or now ever knew of a living man who might have been her lover.
In the early 1890s, Ida was entered on the speakers list of the Ladies Liberal League, which was led by anarchist women. Her topic was "Celestial Bridegrooms." A few of the group's members objected to her appearance on grounds that she was insane, but the city's now-legendary anarchist leader Voltairine de Cleyre overruled them. Ida's claim to sexual relations with a spirit was essentially the same as that of the Roman Catholic Church, Voltairine said. The Blessed Virgin Mary is believed to have conceived her famous son without the involvement of a mortal father. Ida Craddock gave the lecture as scheduled.
Ida took her own life in order to avoid a five-year prison sentence for sending "obscene" materials through the mails. The offending text was a booklet for newlyweds, suggesting that men take it easy and not rape their wives on the wedding night, as was then common because intelligent discussion of sex was forbidden.
I set up this blip because Easter has just passed and I've been reading about crimes against humanity committed by Catholic clergy. The Catholic Church had no special connection to Ida's case, but I thought of her as someone who deserves to be honored for her honesty, her bravery, and her sacrifice in a world that so regularly honors irrelevant or rotten people. I was raised Catholic but now the religion means every wrong thing to me, while Ida stands for all that's decent.
Ida's mother Lizzie Decker, who died two years later, is buried in the same plot. This is my third blip about Ida Craddock. There's a lot more to be said about her, but these were the thoughts that came to me tonight.