Saturday, December 29, 2007

Traditional Recipe and other matters

Sorry to learn of your friend, but supposedly s/he is in a better place. Thinking of the world in its present state, that doesn't sound too bad.
You know, don't you, that Sainte-Yvonne is adamant : "Death" is actually graduation but the fact must be suppressed to keep the marks terrified.

Get well! ... or else.

Pagan Temple
That's quite an alignment. Our friendly astrologer Zorian says that 1968 was a cumulative year; that the heavens realigned themselves in 65/66/67. Now we've told you more than we understand.
Don't worry about the recipe being too late. It's better if kept over for a year.

And to all,
Keep fresh batteries in your bullshit detector at all times.

- - - - - - - - -
Here is Granny Frith's recipe for Solstice Pudding/Cake. Let's get down and traditional.
She made hers early in the year and put them on a quiet, cool shelf, visiting them only monthly to pour a little rum into them.

4 oz pitted prunes
12 oz currants (or equivalent weight in extra raisins)
12 oz golden raisins (sultanas)
24 oz dark raisins
3 cups flour
4 oz canned crushed sweetened pineapple
6 oz maraschino cherries cut in quarters, plus their liquid
1/2 level tsp salt
16 oz white breadcrumbs
16 oz lard or (more traditional) fine-chopped suet
16 oz dark brown sugar
4 oz ground almonds
grated rind of 4 lemons
2 tsp nutmeg
10 large eggs
Pinch of ground clove
2 oz dark rum plus or minus
Note - Using a food grinder makes much of this easier.

Chop prunes and half the raisins with breadcrumbs (2 - 3 batches).
Beat eggs.
Put everything (yes, all of it) into a large bowl. We use a scrubbed kitchen sink. Mix thoroughly with washed hands. (This is traditional; let the kids help here.)
Add enough rum to moisten everything--though sparingly, mind you.
Place in two buttered 8-inch bowls (we use stainless steel).
Cover each bowl with heavyweight aluminum foil. Tie down with twine, forming a lifting handle with the twine. Cut a small slot in the center of the foil.
Traditional - Steam 8 hours in a double boiler or bain-marie (this from the days of coal and wood stoves)
Modern - Pressure cook at high pressure on a rack in cooker with plenty of water for 2 hours. (repeat : plenty of water)
While cake is still in bowl, hide a dozen 25c coins (quarters) in the top. Turn it out onto a fireproof plate. Pour a little rum over it. Place a sprig of holly in the top. In a darkened dining room, serve it flaming with white rum sauce on the side. If you get a coin in your serving, that's good luck and wealth for the post-Solstice year. Mind your teeth; it's not wonderful to break a tooth on your coin.
Refrigerate any leftovers. Cut and eat as you would Christmas cake.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

How Christmas Became Christmas

Here is an interesting snippet of history with roots extending all the way back to ancient Egypt.
The earliest original Egyptian calendar consisted of 12 months of 30 days each. Apocryphally it is said that after some major disaster (unspecified) the Egyptians figured that the annual inundation of the Nile was moving through their calendar, creeping up by an average of five days each year. So they added to their calendar five extra days (epagomenes) that "the gods have given us"--bonus days, if you will, that became the Roman Saturnalia. A time for joyous celebration and the giving of gifts, the festival eventually ran from December 17 to December 24. One of the final days of this intercalary holiday was the Day of Misrule, when slaves were served by their masters; in the military context, officers waited on privates.
Later, the Caesars being what they were, Julius extended his namesake month by a day to guarantee his own eternal life; ol' Augustus was not to be outdone and mimicked Julie.
Then finally Augustus added a further day every four years, to make up essentially the calendar we have today, which actually dates from 25 BCE. Of course Pope Gregory played with the days of the months and altogether screwed them up pretty horribly in an attempt to get rid of the extra five days of "heathenish" festivities. The Saturnalia was noted for its parties and its gift-giving practices, but the early church vigorously stamped all that out as well.
An even more drastic reform was the French Revolutionary calendar, instituted in 1793. It decreed the Egyptian 30-day months, each with three ten-day weeks. Every single day in that calendar's year had its own specific individual name, keyed to nature and to agriculture. It restored the five "extra" days and the festivals associated with them, including the Lord of Misrule. At the same time the French invented the 10-hour "day" with 100 minutes in each hour and 100 seconds in each minute.
All this was much too pagan for the Catholic church. After the Concordat of 1801, France was required to revert to the old Gregorian calendar. But ...

Back to Christmas
In 354 CE Pope Liberius added Christmas-as-nativity to the Catholic church calendar. He chose December 25 as a day to become holy after the blowout of Saturnalia. In Rome it had been the day of the sun god Sol Invictus anyway; thus the church tied itself into the Roman system. It did again what it has always done, taking over an old festival, plagiarizing and renaming it to sanitize it and make it worthy.
Only with the Reformation did Protestants rid the church of all that Catholic stuff and gift-giving. So the nativity was abolished in Scotland in 1563 and in England in 1640. Only in the 19th century in New York did some of the celebration come back and St. Nicholas, patron saint of New York, became the patron saint of Christmas.
In "History of New York" Washington Irving described how Sinterklaes rode through the sky behind a horse and wagon to deliver presents to children. Around 1821 the horse and wagon gave way to reindeer and a sleigh. In 1823 Charles Clement Moore wrote his famous "A Visit from St. Nicholas"; it was he who named the reindeer and made them eight in number. Still the nativity had not come back.
In 1860 President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law a bill making Christmas a civil holiday; there was still no mention of the nativity, or for that matter of creches.
In the 1860s cartoonist Thomas Nast set the modern image of Santa Claus. The color red became standard only when Coca-Cola used that Nast image and dressed Santa in an outfit of Coca-Cola red.
Every time we ourselves look at a creche now, we think of the tales of the goats used in live nativity scenes : The goat that ate Baby Jesus. The goats that refused to stop copulating on the Night. The goats that made rather a mess of the straw. We retain these images to lighten our personal atmosphere and to neutralize some of the sanctimonious gasping piety.
Of course only two of the "gospels" mention the nativity; so really it's a 50-50 chance that you've been a good Christian or a bad Christian by believing in the nativity. Since we're pagan/Wiccans, we don't have to worry about that aspect.
So we hope you had a wonderful Saturnalia. Of course we don't know whether the goats prefer Pampers or Huggies. What would Baby Jesus have worn? Does anybody else smell incipient schism here? There's hope.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Solstice to One and All

Gavin writes: I wonder how many of you still do the traditional things. What do I mean? Here are a couple of examples. Blowing out the candles on the banquet table and then relighting them. Or igniting the good rum that you've poured over the "Christmas" pudding, now to be borne into the darkened dining room. These are only two small ways to remember and honor the original, and only valid, reason for the festival--the return of the Sun. Even a solar deity needs a little help and encouragement from time to time, and the newly reborn Sun is no exception.
The steamed Christmas pudding is probably a no-no in every single one of today's diet regimens; but still, once a year, why not? The one we eat has usually been kept back for a year on a quiet shelf in the fridge, in a timeless tradition kept by the Frost (or should I say Frith?) family. Mrs. Frith, Gavin's maternal grandmother, was a cordon bleu chef in a time before women could officially gain that title.
In this season of benevolence and maxed-out credit cards, be kind to people.
BB Gavin and Yvonne

PS If you'd like the recipe for that Frith pudding, request it and I'll post it on this site. Meanwhile, join us now for a rousing chorus:
Mithras loves me! Sun-God bright,
Lighting up the darkest night.
There's no question He can't answer.
Just be careful of skin cancer.
Yes, Mithras loves me (3 times)
A sunbeam told me so.
- - - - - - - - -
Pagan Temple, thanks for the information re conjunctions. Oops! In listing world-shaking events of 1968, we omitted the deaths of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and the birth of St. Monty T. Keep us straight, boys and girls.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Formative Year

In a single year
* Protesters disrupted the presidential nominating convention in Chicago.
* Women picketed the Miss America pageant to protest the oppression of women, burning their bras and parading a ewe adorned with tinsel, glitter, and tulle.
* Governor George Wallace split the southern vote on a segregationist ticket, and Richard Nixon entered the White House.
* The Church of All Worlds was founded in St. Louis Mo.
* This same year we founded the Church and School of Wicca and announced its existence in ads.
There was no discernible astrological alignment, so what happened? Anyone got a clue?

Okay, gentle visitors to this blog : We'll keep "Wicca". How about "101 Wicca" for the clowns and cape-swishers and hoodoo fantasists? Then using a grading leading to "501 Wicca" for those who are dedicated (committed)? -- which, by the way, we are sure Greenleaf is.
Shadowhawk, all our wishes and healing energy to your mother.
Blessed be all. GY

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Is "Wicca" Meaningless?

About six months ago we addressed quite a large group. We asked how many considered themselves to be Wiccans. About 75 percent put their hands up. Then we went into more individual beliefs; here there was scant agreement on anything. About 50 percent of those who identified themselves as Wiccans went along with the Wiccan Rede,
If it harm none, do what you will.
When we asked whether Wicca was a religion of Nature, a lesser percentage agreed. Was it a natural spirituality, as contrasted with a religion? Was the Ultimate Deity a goddess? Could a Christian be a Wiccan? In fact, how many actually used Christian god-esses as their personal pantheon? Surprisingly (to us), more than 10 percent agreed, that that was in fact what they did. A couple of bold souls said they were eclectic and didn't follow any orthodox or conventional path, nor address any named deity. Yes, we think that's a dark-night symptom.
This whole thing was a sad disappointment to us. When we first started using "Wicca" in 1968 to name the spiritual path on which we were then embarking, we defined a clear spiritual and mundane path--or so we thought. It was a surprise to us when so many usurped the word Wicca and used it to describe their own path whether or not that path resembled in any way the one we had articulated.
Seax Wicca may have been the next clearly defined Wiccan path. When Gardnerian Witchcraft and Alexandrian Witchcraft became Gardnerian Wicca and Alexandrian Wicca in 1974, they had no clearly defined spiritual path--magic, yes; rote ritual, yes; spirituality, questionable--because most of them had broken away from their original roots.
There's a stage young people go through, sensing somehow, "Not this!" or "Anything but this!" Many such breakaways eventually find an alternative way; some do not. Remember St. Jimmy Buffett's song about Domino College?
Make your parents hate you! Be a big disgrace.
Go to Domino College and fall flat on your face!
It's that feeling : Spook the family. "I'm not like you people--thank God!"
So what is a Wiccan? Let's look at an interesting definition, for which we are indebted to the Unitarian Universalist Association.*
We ... covenant to afffirm and promote :
The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our (covens);
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our (covens) and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

For us Celtic Wiccans who believe in the Web of the Wyrd, this feels like a good start. Certainly few would quibble with its ideas. Do we believe in democracy within our coven groups? Quite frankly, we're confused and don't know. Practices should vary from group to group, of course. But do we have any common ground? There is an old Sufi saying,**
There are people who have religion and do not think;
There are people who think and do not practice a religion.
We like to think that people on the Wiccan path can have a religion and can think--both. Perhaps that is what separates us from the marching morons who don't think about anything but being in with their peer group and warding off the random blows of a hateful deity while hell awaits.
So tell us, please, what you think. Is "Wicca" an overworked noun that has lost its meaning? Should it be dumped in favor of a more accurate label for whatever we're all doing? Or can we resurrect it and find even a few universal concepts with which we all are comfortable?
Yes, we are old fogies, but we ain't set in our ways. If we wanted to complain about the negative changes we see, we could go on ad infinitum.
If you smell something scorching, somebody's thinking.
Blessed be those who seek. Gavin and Yvonne

* Singing the Living Tradition
** The Mathnawi, 1466 CE

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Looking Backward

Okay, our visitors have gone, and it's time to get serious again about doing the blog. Yesterday it snowed heavily here, so that's yet more grounds to stay home and work at the computer. The sunlit snow makes the river valley and the mountains look even more beautiful than they did a month ago when the trees were turning color.
The snow brought back memories of other snows in other places : As a kid making my own sled in England, the trick was to use coppiced saplings for the runners, steaming them to shape. It was considered not cricket to have an adult help you with making your sled. Then we would all race them down a local hill. Many of them collapsed ... but it was all in good fun, and the winner got to light the bonfire at next year's Guy Fawkes celebration on November 5. The only thing comparable is the construction and racing of soapbox cars, with lots of adult involvement (legally or illegally) and large cash prizes.
More recently in Germany I remember giving the driver of the horse-drawn sidewalk plow a bottle of beer for his work. I wonder whether they're still using horse-drawn plows for snowy sidewalks over there in Munich. It's easy to look back and forget the bad and remember the good; but I have to say a lot of the good was really good.
It seems to me that the Kennedy assassination marked a turning point in the history of this nation. Before that, we had hope for the future; we had a vision and optimism. Today most people are only existing, feeling that the best they can hope for is that the future won't bite them in the ass.
A West African word, sankofa, means
"It isn't forbidden to go back and fetch what you forgot"
with a symbol of a bird looking over its shoulder. It is often interpreted as a call for African people to look back to their roots. Similarly, the Bolivian government of Evo Morales has a motto:
"Moving forward by looking back".
Have we forgotten in Wicca how great the early days were? How informed we were, and how deep the arguments over theology really went? --Yet the disputers could still circle amiably together. People of different traditions enjoyed one another's company. And we all had a vision. Today we can only shed a tear for that vision that we've lost.
Can we as Wiccans do less than go back and fetch what we've forgotten? Are there better ways to move forward than by looking back? When people arbitrarily change such things as the Charge of the Goddess to make it more correct politically, when they change rituals so that they are shorter or held on a more convenient night, do they not realize that they are destroying that which in the past was as beautiful as sunlit new snow on mountainsides?
Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne

Sunday, November 25, 2007

History as wished for

We have been looking at old information in an attempt to get all the dates accurate on the School of Wicca.
In December 1968 Gavin and Yvonne Frost, then resident in Ferguson, Missouri, founded The Church and School of Wicca. The School began advertising courses in March 1969 in Avant Garde magazine. That advertisement and the associated mailing piece were the first recorded use of the word Wicca to name an alternative spirituality. In all his writings, Gerald Gardner used the lower-case wica (sic) one time. He did not use it to describe a religion or a spiritual path. In 1969, Leo Martello used an acronym, W.I.C.C.A.
The Wiccan path which the Frosts articulated bore little resemblance to either the Gardnerian or the Alexandrian "traditional" Witchcraft paths. Instead, it was based on the practice of the Penzance Coven that initiated Gavin in 1951. That practice was and is a system of spiritual development based on Tantric Yoga. Since its founding, the Church has used
a. psychic gender differences to power its rituals and
b. the endorphines produced by orgasm to reach altered states without the use of quasi-legal substances.
The official formative date shown on the Articles of Association and the Bylaws of the Church and School of Wicca (a religious association) is December 13, 1971.
On August 31 1972 the IRS issued a letter of determination granting 501.c.(iii) status to the Church of Wicca. Also late in 1972 the Church helped the IRS establish their criteria for the recognition of a church.
There is a problem with the dates of the change from Gardnerian Witchcraft to Gardnerian Wicca. So many people are using secondary and tertiary sources. Please do not quote Wikipedia or Ronald Hutton or any other secondary source. Our source is a conversation with Doreen Valiente in 1991. If you have a primary written or printed source, please let us know. We want to keep our records correct.
Blessed be those who resist confusion between hearsay and evidence. Gavin and Yvonne

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Foot in Both Worlds?

The question today is an old one revisited; that is, can a Wiccan use a Christian pantheon in his/her spiritual life? Time and again we have pointed out that in working with lower-level stone gods, as they are often called, people can use any pantheon they wish. We have knowingly made no exclusions. Don't overlook the 283 named deities in the Celtic pantheon alone; and it is said that in the Hindu pantheon/s there are over 30 thousand. Aren't those enough to choose from?
The real drawback, though, is that Christianity is a dominator cult-of-the-book, whereas we ourselves tend to articulate and pursue a partnership religion based in Nature. Those individuals who want to omit the red-in-tooth-and-claw bit may do so, of course, though we acknowledge that aspect as part of the real world.
Therefore if you are a Christian, ipso facto you cannot be a Wiccan. The cult of Christianity is not compatible with the spiritual path of Wicca. The Wiccan Ultimate overarching unknowable Deity (or perhaps Spiritual Focus) makes Wicca a religion in the temporal dimension, and in the spiritual dimension a spiritual path. At heart it is henotheistic. (Whoa! What a big word. Look it up, though. Surprise--it's been there all the time.) Yet it is not quite even that. In our terminology it is syncretic monotheism that also offers the option of using hearth god-esses. Differences are slight but worth exploring.
So you can use any pantheon you like--but don't drag in the non-win moral values of another religion such as, no sex until a pimply-faced clerk issues you a $10 license to Do It, or other so-called moral values. Many of western culture's "moral values" drive most people straight to the loony bin or onto the path of walking one walk while they talk another talk.
Of course there are other important questions that we can't address in this blog. Examples:
* When does a tampon with its attached nylon cord become a dildo?
* When is a hip not a crotch to someone who has a crotch fixation?
Show of hands : Is there anybody we haven't offended yet?
Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne

PS Rhiannon: If you are serious about acreage, come visit us in West Virginia. We'll talk.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Old Stuff - Our Spiritual Heritage

Trial records show that in the 1340s CE, trials of "heretics" almost ceased, to resume only after publication in 1376 CE of Nicholas Eymeric's "Directorium inquisitorum". That book replaced Bernard Gui's "Practica officii inquisitoris heretice pravitatis" of 1324 CE. Bernard Gui was a competent lawyer. It is thought that his book and the legal requirements it contained slowed the trials. To our knowledge, no other reason for the slowdown has been suggested.
-- Kieckhefer "European Witch Trials" pub University of California Press, 1976

The Black Death slots neatly into the middle of that period. The first cases occurred in southern France and northwestern Italy in December 1348, and it reached Scotland and Scandinavia two years later.
-- Ziegler "The Black Death" pub Collins 1968

1315 - 1320 were the first 5 famine years of the Little Ice age, involving continual rain and the ruin of cereal crops. An estimated 2 million souls died. In the following 300 years, there were 111 of total famine. In France an estimated 7 million died. All death statistics in this whole period are SWAGs (scientific wild-assed guesses), though the few extant birth records reveal that the women were trying to repopulate Europe. Many women formed beguinages, mainly female towns/villages/communes. Such population centers were easy targets for later genocidal murders ordered by the church.
-- M. Kolbenschlag "Eastward unto Eve" pub Crossroads 1996

The plague was made more virulent because people were (a) starving and (b) huddled together in hovels for warmth--along with heat-seeking rats that bore the fleas that carried the disease.
The 1350-81 time period saw continuous peasant revolts against civil and church laws. In England the 1351 revolt is well documented. It was caused by the church's backing of the Statute of Laborers, which attempted (a) to fix wages back to pre-plague levels and (b) to reintroduce serfdom and forced labor.
The first serious mention of Witches comes from the Council of Constance, 1414-16 CE :
"Witches are real and are the cause of the bad weather."
This was a reversal of the previous position of the church in the Canon Episcopi, which decreed the death penalty for anyone who burned supposed magicians. St. Boniface's encyclical declared : "Belief in magic and werewolves is unchristian."
Only in 1428 CE was the classical definition of "witch" tortured out, in trials held in the canton of Valais (Switzerland). The definition allows hair-splitting Christians to claim that none of the "heretics" murdered earlier were Witches and that anyone who doesn't exactly fit the Valais definition is not a Witch and thus doesn't count.
-- G & Y Frost "Who Speaks for the Witch?" pub Godolphin House 1991
-- H. C. Lea "Materials toward a History of Witchcraft" (3 volumes) pub Yoseloff 1957
-- H. R. Trevor-Roper "The European Witch Craze" pub Pelican 1969
It appears to us that this period, say 1315 through 1376 CE, should be studied in more depth to correlate information from various disciplines. Maybe a doctoral thesis ... ?
By the way, any time you get a chance to hear Professor Skip Clark at one of the festivals, do it! He is a genuine expert on the subject, not just a guy on a crusade, and has no axe to grind.
-- S. Clark "Mythhistory of Witchcraft" / VHS tape pub Godolphin House 2005

An Extremely Different Subject

As we drove from the mountains of West Virginia into the flatlands of Ohio, the trees were turning, and beautifully so. Mountainsides were swathed in green, orange, and red. As we approached Columbus and the flatlands of the prosperous state of Ohio, at first we enjoyed the open farmland with a scattering of trees and farmhouses and the browning corn ready to be cut. Then about 25 miles from Columbus, we ran into urban sprawl. "Planned" communities clustered around golf courses where sprinklers kept the lawns green and beautiful.* What we call the house machine had been running at full throttle in the area, as it has around many of the nation's large cities.
We believe very strongly that there are two types of communities that genuine pagans should invest in.
1. A farming community where a group gets together to run a farm. We have spent hours upon hours advising pagan/Wiccans on the challenges entailed in such intentional communities. Gavin is a country boy brought up in rural England, and we had our own farm in Missosuri in the early 1970s. We do know the problems, and we know a lot about shortages in cashflow.
2. In another trype, the ashram, a group gets together and cooperatively buys a larger old downtown mansion that can be rescued and turned into several spacious apartments. Such a cooperative does a lot to save inner cities, especially in smaller communities, in what is called infill housing. The infill approach recycles land within urban areas instead of paving over yet more farmland or woodland just for the sake of conspicuous consumption. The apartments made from such older homes usually have spacious rooms and high ceilings and make much nicer living space than modern crackerboxes. A good sound group can share such things as the kitchen and the laundry room, enabling its members to put in high-quality commercial-style equipment that requires very little maintenance. The cost-effectiveness of such an infill arrangement is obvious, and of course it saves a few acres of contryside from the all-devouring house machine.

P.S. This is not a flame of Columbus. Columbus is only a typical example of what is going on over the entire nation. Every year a new area the size of Indiana is paved over. Many pagan/ Wiccans dream vaguely of buying their own piece of unimproved land. If that is your dream, to make such a commitment and to run a small farm, we strongly suggest that you place an ad in the local paper of the nearest easily accessible farming community, something to this effect :
"Volunteer free labor on your farm on weekends."
Most farmers work 24/7. A little extra help and a little time off is a real bonus for them. In this way you will get, as they say in Missouri, your boots into the pig muck (on the coast of North Carolina it's getting your oars into the water) without a huge painful outlay of cash and a lifetime's commitment. Doing this may save you a great deal of heartache later, because you will get a glimpse of what modern farming entails in the real world. It will offer (one of Yvonne's current favorite phrases) a reality smack.
- - - - - - - - -
* See S. Steingraber's "Living Downstream" for a nightmare description of what golf courses do to the planet's health. At least a million gallons of water per day per course ... and the incidence of prostate cancer in greenskeepers is six times as high as in the general population, because of the lawn chemicals that go into the land to keep it picture-perfect. Aren't you proud to be a taxpayer?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Our Fabulous Trip

Fabulous! Wonderful! Or (as the Brits might say), Wizard! Bril! (that's brilliant)
What other fulsome, overblown adjectives can we use? It sounds pretty gushy, but mere words fall short of our pleasure in recent travel experiences. We've just put in something over 2,000 miles on the road, in something over a week. It was a great trip, thanks to Ronn (Roy) and Raven of Fireheart, and to Patty of Greenleaf.
The weather was more than kind, affording us dry roads all the way, as well as the Mother's beautiful autumn color scheme. The storms that were supposed to happen missed us somehow. An enormous heartfelt "thank you" to the Guides for all that. The magical site at Fireheart took our breath away. Praise and gratitude beyond words to the Two who steward and cherish the site for the pleasure of the rest of us. It is a world apart, where people felt safe to circle, to dance, and to visit the Underworld at the turn of the year.
A couple of images stay with us : the amazing skills that gave us the gift of carved pumpkin guardians; indeed the wonderful attitude of all participants; the feathered ones in the trees who felt safe enough almost to mingle right in with us featherless ones; the generosity and kindnesses without number of Roy and Raven.
Our hosts had arranged an open meeting at Toledo's Unity Temple and had well publicized the meeting and its address. Attendance there was all we could have hoped for, both in number and in openness. An image from that meeting will remain long with us : the blonde lady who couldn't believe that she could make the Crooks radiometer spin at law-breaking speed when she pointed her right hand at it, yet couldn't make it move with her left hand. Sic semper in mundo, we suppose. Who says the magic doesn't work? Our gratitude too to Reverend Lynn for the use of the church's chapel and for her enthusiastic welcome to us.
Then off at the crack of dawn for the long drive to Springfield, Missouri, through countryside just beginning to show its autumn colors. In Terre Haute, Indiana, we stumbled across one of the best (east) Indian restaurants in the United States, the Taj Majal. Namaste. Then it was on around St. Louis and into Missouri proper. The Witches' Ball there included a handfasting that was also a marriage recognized in the civil/legal dimension of life. Our warmest and best wishes go to the handfasting couple, and to the minister who shared words from a beautiful and moving script. What an evening. The Ball's organizers brought us a karaoke interlude. Many, many people attended from all over. Costumes were creative and picturesque--and that's an understatement. Three generations of families attended, gladdening our own hearts at the continuity they represented. Our thanks here go to Patty and the Greenleaf Coven group for all their work and preparation. Yes, we had a few American Legionnaires bug-eyed (it was their hall that Greenleaf rented), but they suffered no harm.
At the Annual General Meeting of the Church of Wicca, also held in Springfield, many topics were discussed. Attendees agreed not to change our first-degree initiation but to make it plainer to neophytes that it very closely resembles the third-degree rite of the Gardnerian tradition. Attendees also want to put out some kind of friendship certificate. Various groups would volunteer and commit to be f r i e n d s of other groups; that if they disagreed with other groups they would do so only in private, that they would do no public washing of dirty linen because such washing only weakens our Wiccan position and has already cost a couple of people jobs.
Redaers of this site are probably aware already of the fact that bringing religion into situations of employment, divorce, housing, and the like constitutes religious discrimination and instantly makes the discussion a federal case.
In this regard too, many self-appointed Christian reformers--current-day Cotton Mathers, no less--are changing or editing Wiccan writeups on the web. When you see such a thing happen, please, please change them back. A typical example : A job applicant says, "I'm Wiccan," and the personnel staff say, "Oh, I'll look that up. We'll call you." Then the staff sees some scurrilous comment about the Craft ... and it's all over with.
Rhiannon, in the course of our hegira we had several discussions about theories on the baton de commandment. One remark of note: "Well, I was always convinced that archaeologists can't tell the difference between a cave and a hole in the ground." (We apologize to any readers who are archaeologists.) "I'll give you the idea of notches for animal husbandry if you'll give me the idea that the animals included humans."
Blessed be those who keep their minds open. Blessed be those who live ethically.
Gavin and Yvonne

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

responses to responses

As Yvonne holds her head and says, what have we spawned?, we offer something of a roundup of our responses ... to responses .. to one or another of our rambling blogs. We roughed it out in the car on the way to do self-directed aquarobics, our geriatric effort to stay ahead of things if even a little.
You may all know we rae soon going on the road, so we'll be away for about two weeks.

Let us address first the incoming comments that are the easiest to respond to which.
Pagan Temple: If we inadvertently flamed you, we apologize. We don't profess to eb sophisticated in the ways of the Net (gasp). Just to show our ignorance, what specific book and burn do you have in mind?
We were glad to see mention of the Little Ice Age and the Black Death. Personally we think that Catholic efforts to reestablish authority in the years following the Black Death set the scene for most of the later burnings. During the plague the Church and its priests lost their authority because prayers and burning candles were so visibly ineffective.
Rhiannon, what's your take on that? Thank you so much for your long piece on the law. It was fantastic and fascinating. How on earth did you put that much material on the blog? Is it a matter of seven fingers on each hand? Our mind is reeling.
Of course like Brehon law, most of the old law was passed down orally and codified by Christian monks only much later. The Welsh law, also relatively late, was at least put onto parchment at the White House on the River Taff -- a law which "shall endure until a better be written." So far as I can tell, neither the Brehon law nor the law of Hywel Dda included much in the way of judicial murder. The Welsh which I read many years ago in a Penguin (Pelican?) translation spent a lot of time on what should happen if the cat you bought didn't perform catching mice, for instance, or in a case of rape, who got the testicles.
Anyway, as I remember it I found very few cases of judicial murder.
The odler we get, the more important history seems to become. We're only sorry that we probably won't have time to complete our own studies of it -- as if such a thing were possible. The misinformation in history staggers the mind. Way too much of it is what Piggott calls history-as-wished-for. Every historian has an agenda; that comes as no surprise. Typical examples:
1. The claim that in the Burning Times most women who were burned were the community's midwives. They weren't. It was the lying-in maids or wet nurses, who were called in to prop up the new mother and the household when mother was weakened by childbirth and who knows what else. They didn't know diddly, of course, about prenatal care, about nutrition, about hygiene adn sanitation, about anything. Why was the easiest target? The lying-in maid, of course. She was the stsranger in the house; she often had no one to act in her defense; she would have been the easiest to replace.
2. The claim that the "Malleus Maleficarum" was used to burn "witches". Inquisitors had far better and more detailed texts, frequently updated form headquarters. Sso what was the Malleus? It was what the publishing industry calls today a one-hander for the monks and priests. Made literacy worth while.
3. The claim that Torquemada caused the burning of hundreds of "witches". He didn't. His record shows zero witches burned. He was after conversos who had slid bacward into Jewish religious practices.
4. The claim that the church provided sanctuary for those who could get into the building. It didn't. Five thousand innocent people -- well, guilty of speaking Oc -- wre dragged out of the church in Beziers and killed because they spoke Oc, on the orders of the pope's legate Arnaud Amaury. His is the line:
"Kill them all. God will know his own."
The bodies were thrown down the hill from the church onto the road and into the river. We Frosts walked that hillside and wept.
We are also amazed continually that people have no conception whatever of the modern history of Wicca in the 20tha nd 21st centuries. Gerald Gardner did not invent Wicca. In fact there wree as many as a hundred covens running in the British Isles in the 1930s, according to Dame Sybil Leek's feisty mother Louisa.
Childoffire, we don't choose supporters. They choose to espouse or not to espouse our ideas. "Choosing supporters" makes Yvonne think of hiring mourners for a funeral.

The garden and canning: We normally freeze the snow peas and the bush beans (excuse the four-letter word) and can tomatoes and make salsa using the tomatoes and the chilis. (Note: not chiles or chillies or any other variant. The edible is chili; the nation is Chile. Chilly is a physical response to temperature. But let's move on.) We're drying the left-over peppers this year. Gavin will be doing a rant on this site on canning. He calls it bottling in his cunning British way.

Hey, guys adn gals -- we think we have the beginnings of a good thing going here, but we have a problem; so help us, please.
When someone asks a question, if we can we will answer to the bests of our long experience and our very biased view of inner and outer worlds. If we are wrong, correct us with fact and references. Some of our answers will inevitably cause some to think we are flaming someone or some group. This seems to be especially true of the ladies, Goddess bless them. From the beginning we have had a partnership-path, equality bias. Please understand this. When we think it warranted, we always send querents to other groups that may well be more appropriate groups that suit their quest better than the Church and School of Wicca may do. We realize only too well that occasionally individuals choose to respond to our blogs and to the comments of othere readers in a deliberately negative and flaming way. That's their problem. What if we ignore tham and get on with exchanging good information? We ourselves already feel enriched by the interest and scholarship of responders to this site.
Blessed be until anon. Gavin and Yvonne

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ateh Malkuth

Ateh Malkuth, Ve Geburah, Ve Gedullah, Le Olam. Amen.
(Yours are the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.)
In the days when we Frosts first trod the Wiccan path, we used that affirmation daily to greet the dawn. And yet ... "kingdom"? "power"? "glory"? The more Yvonne thought about the frame of mind that prompted such an affirmation, the more she felt it was unbalanced. How about equal time to acknowledge a female aspect of deity? She created for her own use the version below--not to be inflicted on anyone else, but maybe to be shared among people who felt it expressed something of their own feelings--and she has used it at each dawn since.
Lady Queen, Lady Queen, Lady Queen : (1)
Shining Maiden, strong Woman, wise Crone :
Yours are dominion, power, glory. (2)
Yours are grace, nurturing, justice. (3)
Thus it is. Thus let it ever be.
(1) Because She is Three.
(2) Fair enough, but there's another whole half of life to be acknowledged.
(3) An attribute approximating the way a human mind can perceive Her maidenly grade, Her womanly nurturing, Her justice born of age and wisdom, to balance the dominator-alpha-male attributes of the original version.
On general principles, we have made the affirmation below our shared expression of gratitude for the Guides' letting us tread the path of the Craft. Use it if you like.
We are grateful for yesterday. We are grateful for today.
We honor all the things that make our life possible and pleasant.
So let it be.
Does anyone else out there have a favorite dawn affirmation that you'd like to share?
While we are considering ritual and morning and evening activities, consider these ideas.
The full moon occurring closest to November 1 (whether before or after that date) is Samhain, the great festival of change from the Lady of Spring and Harvest to the Horned Lord of Winter and Hunting. It is the night when the Veil between the Worlds is at its thinnest. The almanac says October 26 '07 is full moon. Delightfully, during 2007 the moon will be at its closest point to this planet on the night of October 26. What a gift from the Elder Ones! Rejoice with us, in reverence and gratitude. And stay off the roads.
Full moon is a genuine and objective fact. To schedule Samhain on any other night is meaningless--indeed, irreverent. Such a travesty would make no sense, scheduling this holiest night according to some arbitrary date inflicted by Pope GregoryXIII's calendar of 1575 CE; or inflicted by Congress; or scheduling on some date that will avoid conflict with Gomer's bowling night. This is not to say that Samhain balls and other more mundane festivities should not be held on more convenient dates.
When it comes to your personal dedication and spiritual time of reverence, please do it this year as the moon reaches its zenith on October 26. We may see you on the astral.
A final word, for what it's worth : The Celts counted not days but nights.
Blessed be those who live examined lives. Gavin and Yvonne


Readers have questioned our respect for Alexander Marshack and his legacy. It is quite true that he is not officially a cultural anthropologist; yet his thinking has broken entirely new ground.
"A major breakthrough in the field of the interpretation and understanding of Upper Paleolithic art. Marshack's results have thrown revolutionary new light on the intellectual level attained by our Upper Paleolithic forebears." -- Professor Hallam L. Movius Jr.
"I feel convinced that your accomplishments represent a major advance towards a more adequate and deeper understanding of the life ways, beliefs and values of Cro-magnon people."
-- Professor F. Clark Howell
His work resembles something that Gavin tried to do many years ago with his theory that it would have been easier to build Stonehenge when the ground was frozen than in summer. Compare: moving the stones in summer using rollers on a treeless plain--when the ground was soft--to sledding the stones in over frozen ground, with maybe buckets of water thrown to form ice in their path ... Anyway, Gavin's hypothesis was laughed out of court.
So what did Marshack do?
1. He proved to the satisfaction of the establishment that the marks on many of the pre-historic bones depicted lunations.
2. He proved that the marks were in fact the earliest known form of writing, dating from some 2,000 years before the hieroglyphic form.
Some of us have looked at the hundreds of batons de commandment (as the bones that Marshack studied are called). To us their size and shape suggested their use in initiation rituals.
We have taken the trouble to reproduce some of the marks in handouts we've created for presentations. The general consensus of attendees, especially among female attendees, is that the writing that so closely resembled lunar intervals suggested nothing more than somebody keeping an activity chart, as Yvonne used to call her own records in her bachelor days.
If, as we suspect, the writing was scratched by young women, it constitutes one of the earliest forms of written records and in our opinion should be more closely analyzed, if only to show that writing was a female invention.
It may be thought that all this is an unwarranted hypothetical extension of Marshack's work; however, for many years we have shown copies of the markings to audiences, and almost all without exception suggested the same theory. Like the winter-time construction of Stonehenge, it is just a theory and nothing for the community to get uptight about.
We suggest that those who have a better hypothesis, either about the Ishango bone and batons de commandment, or about the construction of Stonehenge, publish them here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


October 9 2007, numerologically a 10 or a 1
"The Prophet's Bible" says that 1 is the sun with its power.
For sure the garden knows all about that. We're still in a hot drought. On Monday we picked the last of the tomatoes and of this year's huge crop of peppers. The dry weather has been good for the peppers, though not so good for the shiitake logs. We hope they didn't dry out too much while we were traveling. (Have you seen the t-shirts reading "Full of shiitake"?) Gavin cut the lawn and generally closed the garden down. As soon as we get some rain, we will till it and let the cold break up the clods.
Apart from the garden this has been a busy week, with something new and different every day. Tuesday on a trip to the eye doctor in Lewisburg/Fairlea we chose to drive along the Greenbrier River (the longest undammed river remaining in the US). Old Man Winter had started using his paintbrush on the trees. On the mountaintops the maples were gloriously red, as were the Virginia creepers along the river itself. We saw a flock of Canada geese flying a vee down the river, gearing up for their departure southward. We felt very grateful to the Mother for such wonders.
Gavin passed his eye exam okay. Yvonne had to return on Friday for a laser interlude to clear the mist from her year-old replacement lenses. Can anyone tell Gavin why they can't pre-treat those lenses before they install 'em in the eyeball? (It would stop him moaning about the reluctance of the medical establishment to try any innovation.)
Wednesday a trip in the opposite direction over Sandstone Mountain for Gavin to see a nephrologist in Beckley. Here's a really interesting guy : played soccer against Pele--so he and Gavin had a lot to talk about. Gavin played soccer in school and college. That day he got a verdict of "okay for his age", whatever that means.
Thursday a chance to finish one of our new books, "Termination Tango". We plan to publish it with a companion piece "Wicked Waltz" as a double book. Both are detective stories in the modern--more sexually explicit--mode, with the wounded (Wiccan) fisher king as detective-protagonist.
Friday back to Lewisburg for the laser work, then on to the UU fellowship in Beckley for work with a small group to help them detach from their bodies and go astral. We are now convinced that before meditation in any mode, dark chocolate and red wine help those who don't want to generate endorphins in a more natural way.
Add to that schedule three sets of water aerobics, and you can see we keep busy.

Pagan Temple
We agree with you that sacrificing someone or even burning an image is not an acceptable practice. Unfortunately current entertainment seems to glory in blood and guts. So I guess audiences like a lurid story if it has even a single virgin sacrifice a la the Meso-American cenote sacrifices.
For some reason Caesar Augustus hated Druids. In his Commentaries he wrote they burned prisoners in wicker cages, though the allegation seems unlikely. Judicial murder--execution--capital punishment--came into Celtic law only when Patrick imported Roman ecclesiastical law. The Irish Brehon law and the Welsh law of Hywel Dda were wergelt law, stipulating fines for causing the death of others, whether by accident or deliberately. Such fines depended on the honor value of the decedent. The culprit was expected to pay the fine; if s/he couldn't, he had to substitute his own labor to make restitution. Because of this principle, slavery is said to have been part of both Brehon and Welsh law. Call us nit-pickers, but we see a significant difference between
a) paying a fine for a death with your day labor and
b) being enslaved.
So along with many other benefits of ecclesiastical law from Rome, Patrick brought judicial murder to Ireland. If we read between the lines, he himself had been fined for some act and had fled to England to avoid paying. We do not know why he was fined; but he must have committed some criminal act, for these events do not happen randomly from the clear blue. The Christian version is that he was enslaved, whereas we Frosts surmise that a pagan/Wiccan version of events would read rather differently.
In the old pre-Patrick law we see a reverence for the sanctity of life. The community needed every contributing hand possible to sustain themselves. So, Pagan Temple and others, you're right : the killing of a sacred virgin would not have been tolerated--would have been unthinkable--in that society. Another facet of the same thinking : When two armies faced one another, each army elected a champion. Those two fought instead of the armies engaging. The system was still in place at the time of the early battles between Cisalpine Celts and Romans. The Romans outlawed it in 340 BCE. The outlawing of champions to represent nations may have been occasioned by Roman fear of the Celts, who had smashed a Roman army 40,000 strong at the battle of Allia on 18 July 390 BCE and had occupied Rome.

A Couple of Additional Notes
We enjoy Peter Beresford Ellis' works on the Celts. He is a genuine historian, considered by many to be the foremost modern Celtic scholar, and a member of three royal societies. If you don't like his historical works, read some of the Celtic fiction he wrote as Peter Tremayne, particularly the Fidelma works.
For the statisticians among you, the copyright date of "The Witch's Bible" is 1972 CE. The text remained unchanged when it appeared as "Good Witch's Bible". All that happened was that we added approved chapter lead-ins to clarify text material.
We don't find any new questions this week via blog. We hope we haven't scared blog-visitors off or bored 'em. If we ever stop making people think, we've lost our touch.
Blessed be those of open mind. Gavin and Yvonne

Monday, October 1, 2007

Toledo, Here We Come

We will attend the Samhain Spirit Festival Fireheart in Toledo, Ohio.
Please note: To attend the festival, you must currently be a member of Spirit Weavers
The festival will run from Friday evening October 19 through Sunday morning October 21. Friday night is a potluck meal, so make and bring a favorite food and non-alcoholic beverage to share.
On Saturday afternoon we will present a workshop on Power Raising and Circle Dancing.
We will also speak on Tuesday October 23 at 7 p.m. at the
First Unity Church of Toledo, 3535 Executive Parkway.
Although this latter event is free, a donation of $10 is requested.
Samhain Spirit Festival Fireheart Spirit Weavers is a safe, sacred community. We want everyone to enjoy themselves and to grow together in all the sacred workings. Of course we will answer any honest questions; but in fairness we warn everyone that the Festival must not be disrupted by negative behavior. It is a sacred spiritual event.
Blessed be those of open heart. Gavin and Yvonne

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Questions, Questions, Questions

Look, Guys and Gals.
We may be psychic; we may be magicians. But we're human. We simply can't respond to all your questions one at a time. The new lecture-workshop that we are offering wherever we appear, entitled "Gavin and Yvonne Tell All", offers a forum to express your views and to ask those questions. What if someone much smarter with electronics than we are were to film a typical Q & A session and were to post it on (for example) youtube?
We ask that the questions and answers be posted in their entirety. To that end we will keep our own record of the session.
As you know, we conduct a correspondence school. Its tuition-paying students get preference in having their questions answered. Sometimes even they get short-changed, simply because of that four-letter word, Life, and its conflicting priorities.
We will try to answer a maximum of ten E questions per week when we are at home. They must be reasonable questions that are not ad hominem attacks, snide remarks, irrelevant queries about members of our extended family--or, for that matter, our opinions about other members of the pagan/Wiccan fraternity.
The most prevalent question recently has been, "Why did you write 'Good Witch's Bible'?"
We wrote it in response to complaints about "THE Witch's Bible", which was the very first handbook of the new religion of Wicca. We discussed and fine-tuned the revisions that became GWB with the 200-plus people who attended the Council of American Witches called by Carl Weschcke in Minneapolis in 1974. From that council came The Principles of Wiccan Belief, which we think many of you should read. These principles give a view of the then-community's opinion. Our recent book "The Bible of Sex Magic and Enlightenment" was written to reflect the actual practice in some covens in the community as we knew it at that time, not the pale, inhibited squabbling ghost it has now become. We strongly suggest that you also read our blog "Quotable Quotes" to see the many things we said that seem to have been overlooked.
Ask any of the oldsters. We had a vision. We didn't necessarily agree, any two with each other, but we shared the dream of freedom--of cutting each other some slack and developing enlightenment. Freedom from the narrow, artificial "family-values" box extrapolated and carried over intact from people's Christian backgrounds. Our vision aimed for
Humanity, life, and enlightenment
conflict, war, and destruction.

Responses to Your Questions

Greetings, Pagan Temple.
We apologize that we've taken so long to answer your thoughtful questions.
1. It is true : We live under a Vow of Poverty. We had a major meeting of minds with the IRS--months long--in the early days of the Church of Wicca. From that meeting emerged the definition of a church and the steps to forming a religious association contained in Appendix 2 of "Witch's Magical Handbook". We finally convinced the IRS that we kept no financial records. But when an organization keeps no financial records, how do its donors know they aren't being ripped off? The answer is the vow of poverty. We Frosts basically own nothing. If anything such as honorariums, book royalties, consultant fees comes to our hands, it all goes directly to the Church. No questions asked. The Church owns the cottage we live in. The Church owns the sheets on the bed, and the bed itself. In the real world, if we were to leave the Church, we'd have to walk away naked.
2. Media portrayals. We see inklings of change in the awareness of the media to our legal religious status. They're being more careful. When Disney brought out that unspeakable Hocus Pocus we made a determined effort to find a pit-bull lawyer who would take them on. No luck. We tried the federal authorities and the local North Carolina authorities. Still no luck. Fortunately many documentary channels and dear old Mother BBC are beginning to put together positive, objective programs. Big gratitude for that.
3. Wicker Man. It depends on which version of Wicker Man you view. Promoting the new version would be very foolish. It lost the whole point of the virgin sacrifice done so well in the first Woodward/Lee/Eklund version.
4. Advice to authors. After some thirty books published by mainstream houses, we have gone away from them to Outskirts Press ( ) . There we get to set our own royalties, and have more control over such things as cover art. Selling a pagan/Wiccan book today to the mainstream houses is difficult because, as in so many areas, pagan/Wiccans don't support their own kind by reviewing their books. Get out there and post positive reviews on all the major sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble--to good books.
5. Relations with Christians. Oh, what a phantasmagoria of problems this question raises! Yvonne, the recovering Baptist, shudders at the non-win package They'd foist off on unsuspecting dupes. Statistics quoted by Unitarian Universalists say that 40 percent of Americans have no spiritual path or religious affiliation and that this fact is the reason we're in such a morass nationally ... well, whether or not they're accurately linking cause and effect is a discussion for another day. Anyhow, we hope to attract those people, though we don't want them to bring along their Christian paradigm, consciously or unconsciously, of an exclusive ethnic monotheistic dominator-deity of hatred. If you haven't yet read it, I suggest you read our article Beware the Christo-Pagan-Wiccans on website It's ethical to reveal what we believe, but not ethical to insist that anyone else subscribe to it. And we've heard quite enough of the conventional claims.
6. For many years we've said that once there's a pagan/Wiccan pope, we'll have to find another place for our form of spirituality and enlightenment. Yes, in the early days when we began to build such a structure, we realized that it wasn't a path to freedom, so we went from 16 churches to one. So far as we know, no one who claims to be a Wiccan should be issuing franchises. We postulate that a principal cause of Witch wars in the community is that urge toward the meaningless drive for headcount and control. That's a spiritual path? Look at all the old-timers of our (Frost) generation. Do you see vast structures associated with their names? Today I worry more about the future of even such structures as Covenant of the Goddess or the Lady Liberty League. Both are doing great work, as are many others such as Reclaiming, but where are they going with opening pathways to enlightenment for their members?
7. Good grief! We're a church. We don't care what political philosophy you espouse. In fact under the Church's 501.c.(iii) we cannot legally care. It would be more relevant to ask whether you wear boxers or Y-fronts. They're simply separate dimensions of reality.
8. Growth and corruption. We're back to the old "Power corrupts." If the leaders seek power, that way disaster lies. (See Vow of Poverty above.)
9. Caligula and his horse. This viewpoint came from a History Channel special on the writers who wrote up the stories of the Roman emperors two or three hundred years after the fact for a yellow-press readership. The History Channel pointed out how much those people wanted to sell books (or should we say scrolls?). That Caligula ripped open his sister's abdomen to extract the fetus and that she died could be put in an entirely different way. Try this. Caesarean operations were well known. After all, they were named for Caesar. So she had a Caesarean. So she died. That doesn't sell scrolls--not gaspy enough. Saying that his horse would make a more intelligent senator than those presently in power? That might be just as appropriate today, when Yvonne's cat would probably do a better job than many of this nation's sorry politicians. Certainly he'd be more honest about it. Tiberius was both a miser and a republican. He delegated his power to the senate and did few public works (what today would be called infrastructure). Caliguna did all sorts of public works--built grain ships to feed the Roman populace, and spent all the money Tiberius had saved. He forced his will over the senate's objections. There were lots of other points in that documentary, and I'd dearly love to have a copy of it. It aired within the last two years.
10. Favorite god/goddess. First let us say that in discussions and writing we now are using a shorthand--god-ess--to designate deities. The Celtic way gives us a whole pantheon of god-esses, each with a specific purpose. We're lucky in that we also know of other powerful deity metaphors that we can use to improve our lives, either through self-realization or through what is generally called magic. Having a favorite one is a non-question. If you in fact worship a single named deity such as Jesus, you're not in a religion; you're in a cult.
Pagan Temple, dear, that's all for now. Blessed be those who think and challenge. G and Y


BDD you yourself told the community you were brain damaged, so nicknaming you BDD seemed appropriate. The question occurs:
Is this a scam so that you can use the legal ploy of diminished responsibility?
For more than a year you have claimed we Frosts are pedophiles, basing your claim on a few lines carefully exegesized from a book published forty years ago.
You have become fond of calling police departments and others, making these same claims and trying to get us imprisoned, presumably to further your book sales efforts.
We wonder why you haven't called the police department or the Sheriff's office or perhaps the DA in Hinton WV?
Thank you for putting to rest the community-wide rumor about your mythical older daughter and about the civil suits in your area. Since that was so easy for you, we are encouraged to do the same thing and make the following statements to the community:
1. I, Gavin Frost, have never had any sexual contact with a minor of either gender.
2. I, Yvonne Frost, have never had any sexual contact with a minor of either gender.
Our lawyers have grown annoyed with us for having these contacts with you, BDD. Thus this is the last time we will respond on the net to you. BYE. GY

oops We Goofed

The address information for the Witch's ball in Springfield should have been: or
Good to hear from all you old friends and new aquantances including our cuzins. We like plenty of raisins in our bran. Pagan Temple, please come. (a) We like vampires; (b) You can ask your questions in person. How about videoing the answers and putting them on youtube? We are working on your previous questions Honest.
More memories keep flashing in. Probably the biggest ever pagan/Wiccan gathering which we sponsored at the Shoreham Americana in Washington DC--2,000 plus. Casting a circle on network TV Sunday morning after drinking champagne with Sybil Leek and her mother, Al Manning and Brad steiger half the night, everyone feeling a lot of pain. Ah well we wuz young.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

We're Going to a Ball

We know that to many of you roots are important. Along with who did what to whom, when, where, and how, the lore of Craft roots seems to be part of an ever-changing mythhistory of early Wicca. So we're going to put this one up for grabs and for your comments.
In the early days of the Church of Wicca we participated annually in Samhain seminars around the nation. Each of them included a little costume ball. We have many wonderful memories of them, including Selena Fox's screech (during a song, actually) in Albuquerque that brought the hotel security running. The night that the lady got fed up with our amateur guitarist, walked up to him, took his instrument away, handed it to her husband, snapped "Tune it!", and proceeded to play a riff of classic Bach. And there was the night that Yvonne sang Solvejg's Song from Peer Gynt Suite, whose theme seemed so poignantly appropriate for Samhain, and a retired German opera singer stopped her and sang it as it deserves to be sung.
Anyway, we have run out of fingers and toes to count the number of Witches' balls held under the auspices of the Church of Wicca.
We're very pleased that the Greenleaf Coven of Springfield MO is carrying on the tradition. On the night of Friday October 26 we will attend the ball--our 35th--they've scheduled for the real lunar date, at the VFW (Post 3404) Hall, 1136 East Atlantic at National, in Sspringfield. The ball is free to those who really cannot make a donation. Otherwise a donation of $15 is appropriate. If you come driving up in a brand new SUV with the latest ipod in your fist, we expect you will make a larger donation, to show where your priorities really lie. For more information, see
On the Saturday morning, October 27, at around 10 o'clock or when we can open our eyes, the Church will hold its annual general meeting over brunch at the Cedars Restaurant. It turns out that only a few people have actual votes, but we will listen to any suggestion you make that will enhance the position of the Craft in this nation. This means that all you lovely Arkansawyers had better be good and show up--and you too, Katie, 'cause Jo won't be there to keep us in line. If you don't show, we could well take the bit between our teeth, and it might not be pretty. You never know your luck.
Blessed be those who walk the spiritual path called the Craft. GY

Monday, September 24, 2007

Plausible Evasions

Many of us in the real world find that the youtube political debates have been instructive. Which one, or how many, of those pushing, shoving political figures actually answered the tough questions--and which of them totally evaded the issue, trying to redirect the listener's attention to their own threadbare favorite cliches? We viewers are too often left with the feeling that the politicians didn't answer the question.
Mrs. Drew, we very much appreciate your recent avowal that your own three-year-old daughter has not had to get an injunction agains the individual calling himself A. J. Drew, now known and loved by many of us as the Brain-Damaged Dude (BDD). We had hoped that your response might squelch the rumors in the community; however, your answer--nice though it is --simply does not match the question.
It would surely be nice if you could squelch the strong rumor in the community that the BDD's older daughter got an injunction against him. Of course we would much prefer that the answer come from the BDD himself.
A search of court records from your area has turned up many, many cases in which an A. J. Drew figures as the defendant. This awkward fact occasions another question--in fact, two questions.
1. Is A. J. Drew the legal name of BDD? If not, can you give a waiting world his real legal name?
2. Are there other A. J. Drews living in your area? Do the many civil complaints against A. J. Drew apply to someone other than BDD?
We are not flaming you; we just want the record set straight and the rumors squelched.
Blessed be the community. Yours for truth, Gavin and Yvonne

Quotable Quotes

Here are some quotes we kind of like.
* The idea is not just to swallow a religion pill handed to you by an authority figure, but rather to try, to test, to probe, to investigate. We cannot emphasize too strongly that you should encourage in yourself that skepticism which you may have been told is wrong.
* If after conversation and discussions with outsiders you feel that some tenet of Wicca is not consonant with the true path, try a variation. Don't be so dogmatic in your beliefs that you insist only you are correct. This is tantamount to believing you are God.
* Don't blindly follow the methods we advocate, but when you make changes, make them with understanding. Beware of the destroyers.
* Divine knowledge is not borrowed from books. It must be realized in oneself. Scriptural texts cannot supersede reason. The principal books are doubly distilled : they come from a human prophet and have now been interpreted and translated.
We could simply challenge you to find the sources of these quotes, but today we're feeling amiable. So here are a couple more to give you a clue.
* No formal initiation into a group that practices the great rite should be done before the candidate attains the age of eighteen (18).
* Since very few females coming to initiation are virgin, the use of the phallus is usually dropped. This was included as part of Craft heritage in line with the age-old practice universal among preliterate societies. We would now recommend the use of condoms rather than IUDs for contraception and for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
* The Craft is not a police-state religion saying "Live on my terms or go to hell," but one in which freedom of expression is encouraged.
All of the above quotes come from "Good Witch's Bible".
Blessed be those who seek. Gavin and Yvonne

Thursday, September 13, 2007

.fanaticism masks doubt

A common bond binds fanatical reformers together.
* St. Augustine was a debauched ladies' man, almost dead from a series of social diseases. After his mother nursed him back to health, he found Jesus and became one of the most fanatical Christian reformers and woman-haters ever to have lived.
* Theodosia of Constantinople was a lady of the night and an exotic dancer when the Emperor fell for her. When she became Empress, she turned against people of her own class and convinced the Emperor to gather them together in the hippodrome. There they were all slaughtered. Apocryphally, she did not stop there: Every house of ill repute was burnt to the ground with its inhabitants closed inside.
* In recent times we have seen how fanatical fundamentalist Christian leaders have committed sins heinous in the eyes of their congregations--while preaching hellfire and damnation on parishioners who might themselgves stray onto those primorse-strewn pathways.
It seems that fanatical reformers are all drawn from the ranks of those who, before their conversion, were into the behaviors they later so vigorously suppressed or attacked.
* Drew, we would like to bring to your attention the widespread rumors about your daughter getting a restraining order against you. Can you please put these rumors to rest?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Garden and Travel including Ohio

Just came in from the garden. It's getting to be a desert because our rainwater barrel is empty and, given our fixed income, our city water bill won't stand any increase. Somehow in this long drought we've been having the bugs have decided to flourish, eating everything green in sight. Now if we could train 'em to cut the lawn while we were away, that would be the one positive aspect to the situation.
We're traveling this month to Arkansas for Pagan Pride Days, first to Little Rock for the weekend of September 8/9, and then on to Fayetteville for the weekend of 15/16. Our thanks to the good people who have gone to much trouble to make this happen. Then back home for a short time before we venture out to Toledo, Ohio for October 19/20/21. Come and meet us and press the flesh, or discuss your differences with us.
We thought we'd leave our readers with some ideas to think about while we're running around. Try these on.
Fanaticism masks doubt.
I never taught a man archery who did not ultimately use me as his target.
Accusation is not evidence.
When men make a desolation, they call it peace.
You should know that these quotes are very old. It might be entertaining to look them up.
Blessed be.

new sexy books

If you enjoyed the movie Deep Water, you will surely enjoy our book "A Modern Grail Quest." It is an action/romantic/adventure story with explicit sex based on single-handed round-the-world yacht racing.
Quite a positive thing happened this week. Another new book is now available through and through Barnes & Noble ( For details of the book, go to our website

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Staying out of Trouble

Letters arrive at the School of Wicca stating, "When I was first exploring Wicca in my teens, my teacher insisted that I must __ (insert your own bizarre or illegal act here). I did it. Now as an adult I am wondering how to undo it."
There are fools and charlatans in every field of human endeavor. Since people are endlessly inventive, when you first explore the world of the occult and off-the-wall "religions" you may well entangle yourself in more kinds of problems than there are pebbles on the beach.
Three such problems spring to mind immediately. They originate with self-styled gurus or teachers out to prey on neophytes whose innocence / ignorance makes them fair game, fertile material for exploitation. In any such case, a good early warning sign is an insistence on absolute secrecy.
1. Probably the most basic of such attacks involve "blood bonding". They stem from the mind of a creep who read some vampire book and then appointed him/herself to "teach Wicca" to unsuspecting, but sex-starved, teenagers.
In the case quoted above, we see how a sexual predator managed to keep new slaves, by involving them in a fake ritual that may include an obscene or illegal act; this may range from defecating on a crucifix to bestiality. This is simple blackmail, and the stuff of nightmare.
One of the main reasons that Gavin and Yvonne founded the School of Wicca almost 40 years ago was that a group of teenagers had been (falsely) told they could gain power if they took their school counselor out into the woods and sacrificed him in a blood ritual.
2. The second type of danger is just as real as that of the simple sexual predator. It is made worse by the long-term threat and subjection of the slave.
Here an ethics-free creep such as the one mentioned in Case 1 above may force a teen to participate in unfortunate "ceremonies", often by manipulation or ridicule or threat, if the teen is unwilling. Incredibly, a student of the School spent 20 years under the threat of an Isis-retaliation spell if she didn't follow her "teacher's" directions to the letter. Only in her thirties did she start secretly studying with Gavin. We are proud to say that she learned to write her own spells to release the threatened binding enchantments that had hung over her head since her participation as a teen. Soon she reported to us that she now had a happy, more constructive relationship with Isis and other Egyptian deities. Again, this creep as well was committing emotional blackmail.
That "teacher" or "guru" into whose clutches our student fell is more common than people would like to admit.
This tale may read as a push for the School's correspondence courses; yet we do still believe there is a tremendous benefit in
* taking what you like and leaving the rest.
When you study through a correspondence course from a federally recognized body (or at least from the teaching arm of the Church of Wicca),
* you can learn at your own pace.
* no one will force you to commit any act against your will.
3. The third type of trouble that neophytes sometimes blithely get into occurs on the astral planes. It's this: "Creepy teachers" exist, not just around the corner in some dingy storefront or in an overcrowded living room. They're active not only in the physical world but on the astral planes as well. In the School's instruction on meditation techniques, we suggest that the student work with a guide. Our suggeston that the meditator construct a salt circle for protection is no idle one. We know that not all guides are groovy do-goodniks or soft-focus sweetness and light. Some "guides" on the Other Side are jokesters or worse.
In these times there seems to be a common acceptance of possession. Some of this comes from Santeria, in which spirit entities are allowed to "ride" the priest or priestess. Santeria opens up to such events only when the "horse" is well trained and knowledgable. In our own opinion, it is highly dangerous to invite possession if no one in attandance has gone through the necessary training. You simply don't know what's on the other side of the Veil, waiting for a chance to do who-knows-what in a borrowed body.
Today on our desks we have a couple of letters about unwanted discarnate visitors. Both writers felt that these beings meant no harm--but who's to tell? The best approach is to communicate with the entities to find out why they are there; help them out if you can; and then assist them in making their transition to the place where they rightfully belong. Your own guide will be at your astral elbow every step of the way. A guide stays in your life and works with you for one reason : They're assigned in something like a big-brother or big-sister sytem to help you get through your assignments. Their backgrounds and behavior closely resemble your own, just because of the Law of Attraction. This means that if you persistently engage in some self-destructive behavior, you'll be assigned a guide who practiced that same behavior. Not good. Hence it makes sense to remove self-destructive behaviors from your life. If your current guide enjoys them, s/he will lose interest in your wholesome behavior and ask to be reassigned.
Most spirits really have no need to hang around you for many years. They have their own progressing to do. Yet even when you've established good contact with your own guide, watch out for a guide with moral issues! If a guide started out imagining that death meant going to "heaven" and s/he gets assigned to work with a Wiccan, that guide may not be directing the meditator to the most constsructive course of action.
We cannot know what the guide's previous lifetime was like. Occasionally we find that a guide regresses (or has not been incarnated for centuries) into that lifetime in trying to direct your path. A vivid example is what we call the washing-the-clothes-at-the-riverbank syndrome. The guide will recommend to the neophyte that they do actions which come from centuries ago and are no longer appropriate in today's world--just because the guide enjoyed them and wants to relive them vicariously through the meditator. Also, a guide may have an entirely different paradigm / agenda than you do. It is most likely probable that they have been imbued with a set of religious beliefs that you don't necessarily subscribe to.
So--even if you have Cleopatra's memories and Napoleon's good advice from your guide--remember to keep your head in gear. Think things through before you sign for that new car you can't afford, or, after a number of Roman cokes, you bring home with you that slightly weird guy from the singles bar.
So to summarize : When anyone proposes
1. blood bonding or
2. emotional bullying disguised as occult teachings or
3. astral hoodoos
it makes good sense to vote with your feet and skin out of there.
A large dose of common sense will help all of us with our magic. (Yvonne's favorite phrase du jour is Reality Smack ) . Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Numerologically, today is a 6. That indicates strong parental love and a wish for all things to be settled. It seems appropriate for this blog.
In the past initiations were rites of passage that happened in a serial, consecutive way at certain stages of life. When Elders judged they were ready, candidate youngsters were brought through their rites of passage to become trusted members of the group. Nowadays with our diverse and fluid population, people coming into pagan/Wiccan groups are by and large strangers. How can we then trust them and work with them without insisting they go through some membership rite of passage? If we don't do such rites, or do them without sufficient preparation, we should be less than surprised when the neophyte lets us down.
The idea of inner and outer circles has been with us since time immemorial. Sensible groups bring a neophyte into an outer circle and after some months when they're ready the group can have them make some vows and dedicate themselves.
What criteria should we expect them to fulfill before we admit them to the inner circle? The first and most obvious one is what we might call
* consistency. Are they regular, dependable working members of the outer circle, or are they just party animals, showing up when it suits their whim?
The next question is:
* Have they reached any stage of enlightenment?
* Do they now have a strong belief system that they can more or less articulate?
* How closely does the system resemble that of the group?
Notice we do not want people who just parrot the group's precepts. We need people who are thinking and maybe can enhance / enrich our own set of beliefs.
* If the group is attacked, will the neophyte be able to help repulse such attacks?
In earlier times this was a matter of physical, not mental or psychic, stamina and agility. Thus a part of Gavin's initiation required him to walk around Cornwall (the Cornish peninsula) carrying his camping gear along the Red Route as it is called today -- which implied genuine physical risk.
Such tests have fallen out of favor on the grounds that "somebody might get hurt". Because Gavin passed, though, he naturally thinks it should still be used, as do leaders of some other groups. Yvonne thinks that a kinder, though just as stringent, test should be used, perhaps focused more on the mental capacity of the neophyte. Similarly, in earlier time the candidate was scarred to show that s/he was indeed an initiate. Gavin wears that scar on his wrist to this day. Currently we use a multi-level secret password to weed out instantly those who falsely claim to be initiates of our path.
If the "in" group practices a sex-magical path, then naturally the ability and willingness of the candidate to follow that path should be tested. The candidate must be over eighteen and free of STDs.
The candidate should meet these criteria. In return, the group owes it to him/her to see that s/he is fully informed of all requirements for initiation. For almost 50 years we have scrupulously, publicly followed this guideline.
No surprises! is the underlying guideline here. The second stanza of the song is,
If you don't like it, you can't have any.
Merry meet, and merry part. Blessed be. GY

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Can a Wiccan be a Christian?

People frequently ask us whether a person can be simultaneously a Wiccan and a Christian. For many years we have taken the position that the two paths are incompatible. Now maybe it's time to explore in greater depth why we hold that as a basic truth. Let's start with a definition of each path.
Christianity is a dominator cult of the book.
Wicca is a partnership religion of Nature.
The two descriptions may require some explanation.
Somewhere around 4,000 BCE partnership paths were swept away throughout the Middle East, to be replaced with a male-dominator paradigm. You can see this in many, many myths, such as Tiamat and Marduk, and Inanna and Dammuzi. In written history we have the highly touted Law Code of Hammurabi--of which 70 percent is devoted to defining suppression of women's rights. We find a similar change in Greece, though somewhat later. A familiar illustration is that Homer's love goddess in the 8th century BCE is Aphrodite. By about 450 BCE Plato's (male) love god is Eros--son of Ares, god of war. Cupid, the Roman equivalent of Eros, was originally shown fully armed; still today he is depicted as wielding a bow and arrow designed to pierce the heart of young women.
This word may grate on Christian sensibilities; however, by dictionary definition a cult is any pseudo-religious group that worships a named anthropomorphic deity. Therefore Christianity is nothing more than a Jesus-cult. If a "Christian" wished to espouse the Wiccan spiritual path, the first thing they would have to do would be to give up worshipping a named anthropo-morphic figure. That is, they could no longer worship only Jesus the Christ--although Mary and Jesus might remain a part of their personal pantheon. So ipso facto, they would no longer be a Christian.
Another major stumbling block to being simultaneously Christian and Wiccan is the so-called "Holy" Bible, praised in some quarters as a complete guidebook for life. Wicca finds its guide to spirituality in Nature and natural ways. So to be a Wiccan, the seeker must dump the "Holy" Bible. That shouldn't be too difficult, because the book contains so many unholy teachings. As an example, just look up the dozens of reasons for putting someone to death.
No juvenile should ever read this ancient mythical book of horrors without adult supervision. Case in point : In a debate one day Gavin got a fundamentalist minister to admit that he had thought the Song of Solomon was pornographic.
In our definition of Wicca you may be surprised to see the word partnerhsip. Because the male-dominator paradigm has been enforced for at least five millennia, many neophyte Wiccans in the past have leaned toward a female-dominator model. We hope they will come to recognize that this paradigm can be as destructive as the male one. We refer you to Riane Eisler's indispensable book "The Power of Partnership" for a discussion of partnership, and what partnership can mean, when contrasted with domination.
So we're still looking for a Christian-Wiccan, though I don't think we will ever find one.
We readily acknowledge that our definition of a Christian tends to focus on the more fundamentalist type; and that currently some who call themselves Christian are not so dogmatic as our definition implies.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle in our search is that some 40 percent of this nation's population have no spiritual path or affiliation and do not regularly attend a house of worship or any celebration of nature-in-the-woods. That's a vast number of people. In our attempts to make the Craft visible to them, we fail to take into account the fact that as they espouse the Craft, they may unconsciously bring with them parts of the Christian paradigm. The part of that paradigm that really frosts our sensitive diaper area is the assumption: "If you don't worship my cult figure my way, we can't be friends"--or worse, "You are an idiotic subhuman devil-worshipper."
This year in Florida the FPG (Florida Pagan Gathering) drew in elders and leaders from at least twelve different traditions of Wicca. We had a good time. No squabbles, no fights, no negativity, just a lot of hugs and good fun and catching up on each other's news. We had all grown beyond the Christian paradigm. It was wonderful.
Try it; you might like it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Frost and Sex - Intacta

Today let us address the most hot-button of the rites of passage; that is to do with intacta. In many societies, especially in Pakistan, in parts of India, and in northern Italy, girls are severely restricted even in their play activities. Pakistani girls, for instance, are forbidden to ride a horse -- except sidesaddle. In these societies the future mother-in-law examines the prospective bride to make sure she is intact. In the northern Italian and Milanese tradition, to this day the humen is broken by the future mother-in-law on the day before the wedding, and a bloody handkerchief has to be presented to the groom. The source of this archaic custom is obvious. It comes from the male-dominator regime that swept away the older female or partnership mindset. It seems to us that the practice is the natural product of a mindset that can imagine such things as today's failed tax-supported multi-million-dollar "just say no" program.
We Frosts have been criticized almost non-stop for our suggestion that a gynecologist should break the hymen surgically -- if indeed it has not already been broken by the introduction of such things as a tampon. How many of you ladies reading this actually had a miserable first sexual experience because it was painful, it was bloody, and it was propagandized beyond belief? Do you really want your daughters to go through that same ordeal? In her meticulously researched (although unfortunately not footnoted, being fiction) "Clan of the Cave Bear" Jean Auel graphically describes the shaman breaking the hymen. Remember the shaman was the physician/healer of the group. In fact the ancient shamans were often women skilled in herbs, in interpretation of dreams, and in all the fields where women's sympathy and intuition come to the fore.
European museums house thousands upon thousand of bones called batons de commandment. On such bones the viewer can see iny little scratches, tiny sigils. Any woman looking at them can see that they represent moon times and then a record of sexual activity until the next moon time. It is hypothesized that these were the very bones the shamans employed to break the hymen during the puberty rites of the various European tribes. These records constitute some of the earliest writing known, presumably done by and for women. Don't take our word for this. Find an objective discussion in Alexander Marshack's "Roots of Civilization"; it is probably the best source.
In considering these, what we might call, intacta rites of passage, let us not forget the boys. It may not be realized in a society that has gone hog-wild for circumcision, in the unmutilated male equipment a membrane connects the tip of the penis to the lower foreskin, and that this membrane is broken at first intercourse. We would recommend the snipping of this membrane too by a trained physician -- and for this outrageous idea we probably will get even more criticism.
The whole subject of intacta is out there just now in a very negative polarizing way. If you want to learn about polarization, try reading Sam Keen's "Faces of the Enemy" or Ed Hubbard's articles on media wars. We are told the latter are now combined into a "Witch Wars Defense Manual".
As rational adults, can we or can we not convert that negativity into some positive actions?
To repeat what we said last time: Why don't we set a precedent and come to an agreement as to what we should do for our children? Surely in the pagan/Wiccan community we can find psychologists, gynecologists, lawyers, and whatever else may be appropriate who can get together and draft some acceptable guidelines.
Blessed be.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Rites of Passage

In the days before humans were subject to the iron grip of conventional religions, recognizable rites of passage marked each stage of life. For the female these generally occurred about every seven years; for the male it appears they occurred every eight or nine years. Each was designed to prepare the youth for the next stage of life. Today's western culture still retains vestiges of those ancient ways. Seven is the general age of entering school for real; and 21 ( 3 x 7 ) is officially the age of legal majority. For more about septennial and Saturn cycles, see our course material or a good book on astrology, perhaps that of D. Kempton-Smith.
Other milestones seem imbedded in our genes or our race memory. In both genders somewhere between 28 and 35 there occurs a re-assessment of relationships, often marked by the rite of passage we call divorce. Especially in males, at about 42 a similar life re-assessment occurs. This is the time when he either settles in to the job he is doing or starts desperately searching for something different--a wrenching change of life path. (Ex-banker Paul Gauguin's move to Tahiti, and Gavin's move from aerospace executive to pig farmer come to mind.) People have called this milestone "Is this all there is?"
At a later stage there is the shift that occurs in women after menopause and in men at retirement. In our Wiccan path, these approximate the croning and saging milestones. Since actual physical menopause can occur at any age, we ourselves do not think that croning should be done arbitrarily at physical menopause but rather some time thereafter when the full impact of the transition has taken hold. Thus to us an appropriate age for croning is 56 ( 8 x 7 ); that is, at the completion of two entire Saturn cycles. Of course, as usual, men's corresponding milestone of saging is later and, in our opinion, should not occur before age 63, presumably after retirement.
If you can find them, very useful books at this stage are "Rites of Passage" by D Van Gunlep / Gennep and "Passages" by Gail Sheehy.
The pagan/Wiccan community is gradually bringing back croning and saging. Regrettably, as with many things in the community, there is little agreement as to when a woman becomes a crone and a man becomes a sage. As we have said, we prefer to use the septennial system; but as always we are certainly open to better ideas. As with all rites, when a person wants or demands from us a specific rite, we automatically refuse to do it, on the grounds that they are not ready. Their very request demonstrates their unpreparedness for the rite. It is up to the elders to decide, not the candidate.
The real question here is: What should we be doing for our children, youth, and adults to acknowledge their changes in status as they mature? In ancient rites of passage, the elders would get together and spend a lot of time with the transitioning candidate, talking about the next stage of their life. Many societies retain some vestigial rites. The Jewish bar mitzvah rite is a typical example, even though in many cases the meaning is overridden by our materialistic society. The Spanish quinceanera is a better example. It gives a girl a day-long puberty rite preceded by weeks of preparation.
The current debate within the community is not productive because it does not start from the basic assumption that we are all equally concerned about having healthy, well-adjusted young people in our society. Giving a young adult the keys to a new car is not a rite of passage. Time and again we have said in our various books, give your children time, not things.
At the 2007 Sirius Rising we met two youngsters who had just had their first moon time. A group of responsible women took the girls aside and spent the whole night with them in discussion. The next day drummers brought them into the Sirius morning council circle, where Yvonne sang them an adapted hymn, "This Is the Lady's World."
One high priestess reported to us that as an attendee at another young maiden's rite she learned more about sex and life in that night's meeting than she had in seven years of marriage.
Recently there has been more emphasis on female rites of passage than on male. We are happy to see people developing puberty rites for young males such as the Young Lions.
Several years ago the men of a coven in Colorado decided that a young boy who was manifesting delinquent behavior needed a rite of passage. They took him out into the woods, cast a circle about him, and directed him to spend the night in the circle tending the central fire. During the night each male member of the coven visited the boy and sat and talked with him. Between those discussions, occasionally a man costumed as an Archetype came to the edge of the circle, stood silently for five minutes or so, and receded into the forest. The boy changed overnight. His grades shot up, and from that day forth he was a well-adjusted member of society.
We are learning that other groups are doing similar rites, and again we applaud them for it. If you have heard of such renaissances, please do let us hear about them.
Can we not get together and draft guidelines toward rituals for rites of passage? Such scripts could be adapted by various groups into their own traditions, fine-tuned to fit their beliefs and their needs. Surely there are enough crones and sages around to start this ball rolling.
We think that this is a gender-specific task; though again we may be wrong.
Why don't we set a precedent and come to an agreement as to what we should do for our children? Surely in the pagan/Wiccan community we can find psychologists, gynecologists, lawyers, and whatever else may be appropriate who can get together and draft some guidelines. The community needs draft versions or suggested outlines for all the possible rites of passage we can think of. How about a ritual, for example, to comfort father and mother when a pregnancy ends unhappily? If ever there are times when they need emotional support, this is surely one.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Defusing Anger

Today's numerology - Lots of eights, meaning worldly involvement; though it's really a 7, a ruler of chaos.
Certain maxims sum up what we as "alternatives" often face : fanaticism and anger and an irrational drive to convert us to one or another conventional religion. Let us suggest a couple of such maxims that deserve to be executed in needlepoint and mounted prominently on a wall.
Anger masks fear.
Fanaticism masks doubt.
So someone approaches you spouting anger and fanaticism? When they pause for breath, jump in -- using a calm voice -- with some ideas they might not have thought of.
1. Let's meet somewhere for coffee and exchange ideas (note : not a ranting monologue on either part, but an objective discussion of the beliefs of each participant). Here's my promise: I'll be calm if you'll be calm. If either of us loses our cool, the discussion is closed for now.
2. If the ranter talks in an angry manner, that's a prtty strong sign that underneath, s/he's afraid you might just be right and s/he has wasted a lifetime believing a lie.
3. If s/he can only convince you that s/he has a case stronger than yours, then s/he can more confidently believe in the case s/he presents.
Often in these exchanges you will need to state in words of one syllable that we of the Craft do not recruit. If the ranter doesn't like our path, by all means he should espouse his own path the more strongly. We don't give a -- well, a snap of the fingers. This is known as a libertarian mindset. But, just as you have no right to lean on him, he has no right to lean on you. He should go his way, confident of his own claim to the moral high ground. And tell it to Jesus. (No, you probably shouldn't say that.) If he believes you're nailing little piglets to crosses, or sewing shut the lips of corpses, he's relying on false sources. Such ideas are based on allegations presented by Disney and his ilk; and we all know how true to life Disney films are. Anyway, here's his chance to get genuine facts from one in a position to share them. (Make sure you are in such a position before you start uttering. Don't run your mouth before you engage your mind.)
And again : We do not recruit. We strive to live a life of decency, in the vain hope that other people will just get out of our face and let us do it unmolested.
What else do cowans assume about us and our path? Ask your ranter what he believes and why he believes it. Insist he be definitive. Do what you can to point out the difference between
(a) hearsay and (b) evidence. This may be a challenge.
Blessed be.