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.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Carbon Footprint

These thoughts are written on Friday August 3. Numerologically the date is a 2, the ultimate feminine day on which we should think of the Mother, especially Mother Earth.
On our mind today is the idea becoming known as your carbon footprint, and its counterpart, carbon offsets. Your carbon footprint is the amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) that you and your actions release in a year; in other words, the amount that each of us individuallly contributes to global warming. It is up to all of us to reduce our carbon footprint.
On average, each adult person and each child in the United States produces twenty (20) U.S. tons of CO2 each year of our life.
Most of us can do many small things to reduce our own personal carbon footprint painlessly, such as changing light bulbs from incandescent to fluorescent; planting trees; turning the air conditioner to a warmer setting; using less ice or no ice in our beverages. AND RECYCLING
At a meeting of the morning council at Sirius Rising, Gavin raised the question: How about the famous Sirius bonfires? Yes, they consume only logs that the lumbermills have rejected, but the amount of CO2 is no less for that fact. He pointed out that firms such as will sell you carbon credits and use the money you thus spend on credits to buy such things as windmills, photoelectric panels, insulation, and, yes, to plant trees, to try to balance out some of the CO2 that you produce.
In that council meeting Elspeth of Haven too expressed concern, pointing out that the bonfires were something none of us would like to give up because of the community spirit and happiness they generate; but that we should find a way of paying for offsets to compensate for the bonfires, which after all are just for fun.
When we Frosts got home from Sirius (coming down with a bump, as always), I did a rough calculation. A bonfire like the one at Sirius or Starwood emits something like 100 U.S. tons of CO2. charges $20 a U.S. ton for offsets. This means that for a Starwood / Sirius bonfire a payment of $2,000 in offsets would be appropriate; that is, $2 per attendee. If we pay that, and even if $2 is only a sop to our conscience and a Band-Aid on the planet's total problem, still it would increase the awareness of all who enjoy the bonfire.
For your information, if you do a web search for carbon footprint, your first search will turn up over four million sites. So the world is aware of the problem. The site at carbon has a calculator so that you can work out what you and your family actually contribute to global warming. A family of three members will average something like 60 tons a year; an offset of this amount will cost you $1,200.
That sounds a lot? It is. But it really doesn't cost the earth to save the planet. Every little bit helps.
Surprising as it may seem, it may not be your SUV that's the worst offender in your personal carbon footprint. Air conditioning a three-bedroom house in summer produces 300 pounds of CO2 per day. Turning it to a setting warmer by 5 degrees will reduce that by 100 pounds a day. 300 pounds a day works out to 4.5 tons a month.