Steph Ivy Whiteside

Posted to Twitter by @stephgwhiteside

Also re: Harmony Tribe. They have worked w/ Yeshe Rabbit/Jessica Matthews/Yeshe Matthews/Rabbit Matthews, who has been recently exposed as an abuser and cult leader.

(Full disclosure, I was part of her local group for a time - can verify truth in accusations against her)

Correction:  It looks like Harmony Park and Harmony Tribe are different. I'm not hearing anything negative about Harmony Tribe, and it seems they were just one of many groups taken in by Rabbit's deceptions.

I was in CAYA (and left) and there's def a lot of problematic attitudes re cultural appropriation, etc. Plus there was abuse but not of kids

Also from Whiteside:

Facebook comment 22 March

Lorelei Moon

Excerpted from a post on Speaking Of Witch 1 April 2018

I AM A SURVIVOR OF CAYA COVEN during the cult leadership of Jessica "Yeshe Rabbit" Matthews

In addition to these painful milestones and the personal stress and health issues I am grappling with right now, information has finally come to light about a spiritual group that I used to belong to, CAYA (Come As You Are) Coven. Talk about stepping off a cliff! I think I made my way through the whole journey of The Fool during that time and when I finally I made it to to the end; Judgement and The World, I did have a clearer perspective on many things. Sometimes when things come into focus, they aren't pretty.

​I left primarily because of gross abuses by the leader of the group: Jessica Matthews aka “Rabbit” Matthews aka Yeshe Rabbit aka Reverend Mother Matthews, and possibly using her husband's name, Robles. Now that everything has blown wide open and so many victims are coming forward, there is a lot more to deal with than the pain I had so neatly compartmentalized. What I did not know in the years after I left was how many other people besides myself, had been peeling away. When you left or were forced out, all your former friends, who you thought of as family, were discouraged from speaking to you. I was not aware that everything had come to a head with a huge, verbally abusive, transphobic rant last year, followed by a fracturing of the group and many revelations about Jessica's improprieties and lies. I am aware of approximately fifty victims and as is the case with any serial abuser, there are more who have not come forward. A private investigation was begun by the CAYA Council, however, given a “heads up” by an ally, and rather than face the charges against her, Matthews hastily resigned and fled the SF Bay Area.

Beware! She's Still Out There!

Matthews is now portraying herself as the victim and telling many false narratives, including saying that no one has presented her with the accusations. She got them alright but chose to leave rather than listen to them formally. She has systematically gaslighted and dismissed the people that she has abused. She is reframing things so that she can get support and new followers. She now has a revamped online presence with a “temple” and a Patreon. Her followers don't just prop up her ego, they support her financially. It is really scary to think that this clinically narcissistic, charlatan could potentially harm many more people.

There are a few well known people in the pagan community whom she has deceived that are vocally defending and supporting her. Many of these so called leaders are known TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) which should tell you something about her. I suspect others only know her public face and have been taken in by her flattery. She still has her hooks in a few original members who are acting as puppets for her agenda. One of these is someone I used to consider my closest friend. Recently a respected pagan online publication, where she used to work and where she evidently still has plenty of allies, interviewed several victims and rather than use the details given to them,  essentially gave Matthews a platform while diminishing the victims' accounts. They say they had an independent editorial review for bias but it was very disappointing. When victims talked about their experiences in the comments, some of which the publication knew about but failed to include, supporters of Matthews were allowed to respond with abusive tirades and then the comments were suddenly closed.

* I have decided not to link the article at this time because I feel it was so biased and poorly written.

Even CAYA itself, which has lost the vast majority of its membership and is struggling to recover put out the mildest most, legally covering their collective asses, statement possible but it was enough to raise questions. You can read their statement HERE: CAYA COVEN PUBLIC STATEMENT

I was heartened when several respected pagan groups: Solar Cross Temple, Strong Roots and Wide Branches, Coru Cathubodua Priesthood and Black Rose Witchcraft, put out a more definitive statement. It was the statement I would have liked to hear from CAYA.

Statement From Prominent Pagan Groups

Matthews is very good at presenting herself as a charismatic holy woman however, she is a highly  manipulative, narcissistic abuser, a bigot and a transphobe who has destroyed many lives. I personally watched her interfere with coveners’ sobriety, mental health, jobs, finances, sexuality, family connections, love lives and marriages. She abused her power. She did sketchy things financially. Her dress, practices and entitlement smacked of cultural appropriation. She is a predator who preys on the vulnerable, people who have been marginalized, abused or have low self esteem. She had inappropriate relationships with those she was in a position of power over and did not respect boundaries or care about consent if she wanted something. She used both members and others in the pagan community to gain respectability, knowledge and prestige. When she was through or when they started to question her, she threw them under the bus and got her followers to drive it over them. Under her stewardship, CAYA Coven became nothing less than a cult. The things I observed were so horrible it's going to take a long time to process them. I thought I had done a lot of this already, since I left back in 2014, but I was wrong. Now, I feel that it's really important in addition to my own healing,  to support the survivors, refute the misinformation that is out there and do my best to make sure that the harm this woman does to new acolytes is minimal.

I know I am putting a huge target on my back speaking out against this woman, but I think she is too dangerous to others, for me to stay silent, especially after other victims have spoken so bravely.

This will continue to be a lot to process. There is a reason I have been pulling the cards for myself personally that I have been: The Tower, Judgment, etc, or as you can see above, from my gorgeous new, Whispers of Lord Ganesha oracle deck, “Revelation!” So, even though I still have to deal with all of these things it's going to feel really good to get back into this discussion and introduce you to new tarot decks new interpretations ways of reading and talk about my passion.

I plan to write more about my experiences on my personal blog. For now, if you want to know more I am including links to public statements and the blogs of former members and students.

See also: