Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chips on Shoulder Etc

As many of you know, for over forty years we Frosts have gone through attack periods which (to us) seemed endless. During that time we felt as if the whole world was, if not trying to kill us, at least trying to damage us severely. First it was the Christians. Now more recently it's been self-described Wiccans/pagans. We endured it all with what we like to think of as quiet perseverance. Thus at this point it looks worth while to review our thoughts on other people's dilemmas brought on by their being (gasp) D-different: being outside the "normal" pervasive Christian mainstream or particular "Wiccan" sects. When all the flap started, our first inclination was to strike back; but fortunately reflection showed that such a mindset was not going to be the best way. We lived in a small community, and it would have been only too easy for people to attack us, maybe burning a cross or two in the front yard--and in fact, through our forty-some years of living the Craft, some have attacked! In one incident we were shot at and people left a bomb at the hotel where we were scheduled to speak. (Apparently they didn't trust Jesus' ability to take care of it.) On another occasion, people tried to steal the wheels off the car while we were doing a radio show. Our answer was not to hit back, but to use a more subtle approach. It was not difficult in those early days to get both radio and TV time, so we went on a tour of the States, clocking more than 2,000 hours and several thousand miles of time and travel. Finally, when people attacked us, we could fall back on our local community because now we had become not just Witches, but St. Charles' own Witches. In St. Charles, when the high school history teacher invited us to speak, the self-anointed "opposition" got a subpoena to stop us. (In that time people were not so forcefully aware that when one tax-exempt religion badmouthed another tax-exempt religion, the attacker risked their own tax-exempt status.) The students were furious. We rented a disused movie theater in town to speak to them on their own time rather than during school hours. It was standing room only, because students and parents from all over the area came to see the show. Months earlier, the county's ministerial alliance had refused our request to join with them; now its representatives decided that they too would like to investigate this phenomenon. We agreed to meet with them in the presence of the press. The press, in the form of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, had a romp at that meeting. They were 100 percent on the Witches' side. The effect of all this furor and work (work on our part, we hasten to add) was an abrupt cessation of local attacks. And when people did attack us, they became the bad guys and we were the poor innocent persecuted victims. There are a lot of good friendly honest Christians out there--especially (Pay attention here, boys and girls.) when you have demonstrated over time that you don't shave your palms on full moon and go out looking for something to sink your fangs into. If you get those people on your side in any debate, then be assured: You will win. Confrontation simply doesn't work. And if you become rigid in your total opposition to Christianity in all its forms, then the opposition in turn will become hardened in its response to you. Yes, of course to maintain your religious freedom, when that freedom is violated, you must respond with form and protocol that are both legal and relevant. Again, this approach assumes that you have done your homework, that you know what is legal and what is effective--and what is illegal, what is irrelevant, what is useless, and what may well have a negative effect, thus making your quicksand deeper. Recall the old adage: A picture is worth a thousand words. Photograph the attackers or their actions or their vehicles. Over many years we have learned that a lawyer who is a member of a minority group sometimes has a tendency to be more supportive and will occasionally even do pro bono work for you, or at least may reduce his fees. Do not be afraid of trusting the law courts when it is a straightforward civil matter. A neighbor blocks your driveway because you (gasp) celebrate different festivals than they do? Sue. A local church is causing you trouble? Offer to meet with the leaders of the church in a neutral setting ... with reporters present. Point out to those leaders that neither side will win if they continue to be negative. It may seem to many that simply striking back is the answer. It is not. It drags you down to the same level as the attacker is on. Get that chip off your shoulder and replace it with friendship. Many of your opponents can't stand such behavior. It pulls the rug right out from under all the stereotypical assumptions they've embraced so enthusiastically. Your lifestyle and the lifestyle that your kids and your associates display are the example which you must set to show that you are the good guys. We've had well over forty years of experience in this arena; and so far most of the people who have attacked us for standing on our rights are other self-styled pagan/Wiccans. With allies like these, who needs enemies? Blessed be each one who seeks. Gavin and Yvonne PS One more time a not for profit 501C3 is not a church a church is a religious association.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Death with Dignity

The town where we dwell has a high proportion of oldsters, as a youngster at our local fellowship describes them. As the nation's Congress goes red this year and more and more social programs are aborted, life is becoming increasingly difficult and painful for such oldsters. But this "Christian" nation has grown so horrified at the idea of death (gasp) that the oldsters are required to clutch with their last fingernail at the metaphorical windowsill of life. Any younger relatives within range must put their own lives on hold in support of the weakening elders. That's the American dream. When ISIL casually murders five hundred people at a go--innocent people in every age group--how can human beings still claim that we honor life? Jack Kevorkian paid the price for being outspoken and for promoting the idea of death with dignity. In too many cases, people who have debilitating illnesses and/or endless unremitting pain to live on through the horrors of dependence and illness, especially when they have to eat cat food or dog food to make their budget work. Some states, Oregon and others, are now allowing what is called assisted suicide. Why not move toward a federal law that allows it? After all, as in so many cases (reflect on abortion, same-sex marriage ... you can probably think of others) optional is not mandatory. If you find my thinking is beyond the pale, refrain from subscribing to it. Is that concept beyond your grasp? In other words, you run yours and I'll run mine. That is called adult behavior. Blessed be. Yvonne

Monday, November 10, 2014

Malleus Maleficarum, or a fantasy that will not die

The Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of [Female] Evil Doers), written by Kramer and Spengler, is reputed to have served the Offices of the Inquisition in causing many thousands of Witches to be burned. Simply put, none of the above is true. The authorities had much better guidebooks than the Malleus would have been. In fact a more accurate bottom line here would be: The Malleus is nothing more than what the publishing trade calls a one-hander. Anyone who has read it knows that even in its translation, which didn't happen until the 19th century, it would generate very few questions regarding the real beliefs, practices, and activities of people who were accused. The inquisitors had far better guidebooks containing the questions they should ask: books that were continually updated just like a modern company's standard operating procedures. These books were Bernard Gui's Practica officii inquisitoris heretice pravitatis (1324); and Nicholas Eymeric's Directorium inquisitorum (1376). Kramer himself was so lasciviously obsessed by the sex life of young girls that he was dismissed halfway through the second trial he attended as an inquisitor. We always are horrified that people reflexively parrot the tired old unexamined claims about the Malleus without ever approaching the book to see for themselves. Even Dan Brown in his best-selling Da Vinci Code played it back again, in another disappointment to the scholars. And as a sidebar, we do wish that Brown had been ethical enough to acknowledge the fact that he derived the whole idea for the book from Picknett and Prince's Templar Revelation. In fact there was a lawsuit--which Brown lost. Now that you have read this blog, you know better than to commit the same tired old mistake. As a Witch/Wiccan/pagan, do please hold yourself to a higher standard. We refer you to the three-volume exposé of the Inquisition written some time ago by H. C. Lea, Materials toward a History of Witchcraft, Thomas Yoseloff, New York 1957; as well as to Jean Bodin's Demonomania (1530) that King James used to write his Daemonology.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Crimen Religiosa

Since the beginning of modern history, the records show that more people have died through adhering to their religious beliefs than from any other cause including dictators and land grabs. Quite apart from the thousands who were burned by the Christians because of their faith--not just the Tudor Catholics--we are currently seeing again the same religious fundamentalism causing the same death and destruction wherever it occurs. In the late middle ages the Christian church got over it and the burnings and murders almost stopped. The argument now between Sunni and Shiite is just a continuation of the religious crime--crimen religiosa--just the latest demonstration, of the tired old thinking that has darkened the story of the human race for many centuries. There is no doubt in our (Frosts') mind that if the Ayatollahs, the Imams, the Mullahs were as smart as the medieval bishops were, they could stop a great deal (if not all) of this crimen religiosa in, say, 48 hours--simply by uttering a new vision from Allah, something to the effect: "He says stop fighting." You're listening, we hope, gentlemen; we're listening too, but we hear no such utterance. They might also, say, take from another religion or philosophy that which is good and acceptable to themselves, while ignoring the rest. The early Hindus did exactly this. Only in modern times are the followers of various Hindu deities attacking one another. It is clear that a philosophy of tolerance and acceptance of the good in another path, and of ignoring that which you don't agree with, would greatly help the small group of self-styled Wiccans who are so unsure of their own path that they attack everyone else--everyone who has a successful path. - - - - - - - - - And now while we're at it, a PS: We want to thank you wonderful commentators who have taken the trouble to write us via snail-mail with your thoughts. We would mute the blog, but that would stop everyone; so we're happy that people care enough to write to us and shortcut the clown who is filling the Comments space with trash. Let's all join in asking the Guides that the creature doing this dumb stuff will never reproduce another like itself. Blessed Be G & Y

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Could a Psychic Help ?

When all their clues in a crime have run dry, it is not uncommon for police forces to ask (even if they do so furtively) for the aid of their local psychic. Sometimes, though not always, a psychic's suggestions and impressions can lead to the criminal being apprehended. We have many friends who are psychic, and they can--and do--tell us unusual things that turn out to be factually correct. It occurs to us then that we have been put through a series of mystery plays about such things as the Oak Island treasure, the Egyptian ruins found in the Grand Canyon, and no end of such musings as those on (gasp) ancient aliens and similar quasi-scientific discoveries about the roots of our so-called civilization, the good old U.S.A. "What an interesting invention! How can we use it to kill people?" Perhaps these gaspers could be guided in a helpful way if they employed a psychic to tell them a. Where to look and b. What their discoveries really mean. All too often, it seems, the discovery of a copper rivet or other minutiae causes the gaspers to go overboard. Often real scientific discoveries are dressed up and the point is lost in the fanfare of the gaspers. Get over it, you guys. Don't be surprised when you find that the Japanese really did get to South America or the Egyptians got to the Grand Canyon or the Norse actually sailed further south than Canada. Why wouldn't they? Blessed be G & Y

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Invidia

The title of this blog means envy: the Latin root video (I see), plus the prefix in- that reverses its meaning. Ergo invidia means refusal to see. In 1609 when Galileo looked through his improved telescope and decided that Copernicus was right, many people (especially the alpha-male Catholic masters) refused even to look through the telescope. To those people Galileo rightly applied the word invidia. To us it seems that we are going through an invidia phase in the development of Wicca. Just as in Galileo's experience, part of the problem seems to be envy and another (perhaps greater) part is a refusal to accept reality--a denial. So as you all know, we Frosts are continually accused of everything from sheer stupidity to being anti-gay and/or being homophobes--and, worst of all, of being child molesters or pædophiles. The cluster of such claims implies a surge of creative fiction. Quelle imagination! When we say if you cast a circle using certain specific materials and certain specific dimensions you will get better results than if you cast it with (for example) a sword, many people won't even try it. They refuse to look. They are invidia. In conjunction with an international cast of students of the School of Wicca, we have cast more than 5,000 test circles using a wide variety of materials and a range of dimensions; and in another series of experiments have employed a super-sensitive magnetometer to prove the results. Still, despite these real-world facts, people cannot be bothered to run their own tests. Instead they start howling "Fake! Fake!" without making the first gesture themselves toward demonstrating how dishonest our claims are. Older (that is, more senior or earlier) students of the School share a common joke: Some years ago the ladies ran a ritual for more men to participate in circle events. They got their wish: the School was inundated with gay men who signed up and formed their own (warrior) covens. We are accused of being anti-gay because many years ago at a party an attendee asked Gavin whether gays could be Wiccans. Gavin replied that at heart Wicca is a fertility religion; that a) gays are welcome but b) must define their own fulfilling path c) in today's self-styled Christian nation where we are even now resisting the tedious drumbeat of the Christian "right"--an oxymoron if ever we've heard one--and are still articulating a more inclusive mindset. Part a) is never quoted. Part b) has been repeated ad nauseam. Part c) is a work in progress. The Church and School of Wicca is proud and grateful to boast the largest gay population of any group. We even held a Gay Wiccan Festival in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The motel personnel made a perfunctory howl of protest, but were supportive after that moment of oscillation. Yvonne gratefully recalls their roadside marquee: "Welcome, Gay Witches." Of course this caused a furor in the press and many comments from the "community" saying we shouldn't have done that ... while they sat on their big fat davenports doing their customary Nothing. When we can arrange it, we march in Gay Pride parades. The last one we made was in Charleston WV. Yvonne's placard read on her chest "If you don't like it" and on her back "You can't have any." Credit for the thought traces back to Oberon Zell. How many of these self-appointed critics of the Church attend gay-pride parades to represent the Path? We seldom see anyone. The most egregious accusation is that we Frosts are pædophiles. In The Witch's Bible (which has been criticized on many counts) we went to the trouble of reprinting it with notes to satisfy all the complaints that we had received through 1986. The one page that escaped everyone's notice was the one on which we talked about initiation or dedication of youngsters. We used the word child. In other parts of the book we clearly noted a) that no one should break any civil law in the name of the Craft and b) that sex magic should not be taught to anyone under the age of 18. We have now changed that single remaining page. For more than forty (40) years no one noticed the page we had overlooked--but suddenly a small noisy percentage of self-styled Wiccans broke the Prime Guideline "If it harm none, do what you will" and accused us of that which is not true. A speculation: They were in genuine (self-induced) trouble and hoped to distract attention from their very real behavior as miscreants by dragging a smelly red herring into the discussion. We have never been pædophiles in fact, in fancy, or in imagination. We have never written anything in support of such activity. Like Richard Dawkins, we ask you to provide take-it-to-the-jury evidence for any such claims. Now we calmly suggest that if you don't like the things we do, invent your own. Make sure they work, and practice and publish them as your version of a spiritual path. Just please don't call that path Wicca. If you are not willing to look, you are indeed invidia.

Ancient Wisdom

We are as intrigued as anyone else about how some ancient stone monuments (e.g. megaliths) were built. Some of the technology, such as the fitting of the stones at Cuzco, is truly amazing. Some sixty years ago Gavin spent time on Salisbury Plain at Her Majesty's weapons-testing ranges, where experts were testing infra-red weaponry such as the Sidewinder. Most of the testing was done at night. This gave the scientists time to explore the landscape, and to bat theories back and forth on how and when and why Stonehenge was built. Gavin offered the theory that the quarrying and transporting and building of the stones, and putting the lintels on the tops of the megaliths to form trilithons, was no problem--if you simply thought winter. Why bother with rollers and ropes and all that, when a couple of buckets of water thrown on the ground would freeze and you could slide the blocks across the frozen surface? We had fun. We demonstrated to our own satisfaction that a single lightweight man could move a one-ton stone with ease, provided that it had even one flat side. To get the stones upright, build a ramp of ice and snow. To put the capstone on, another similar ramp would be needed ... and would be built just as easily and serve as well. Then in spring it would return itself to the earth. So the construction resolved itself into a simple application of manpower--people who were doing little else in the middle of winter. Next we looked at the thermocline: that is, the temperatures thought to have been prevalent at the time when Stonehenge was constructed. Lo and behold: It was a cold period. That still didn't solve the problem of how they aligned the stones nor how, for instance, they figured out where to put the Aubrey holes and why there should be 56 of them to predict lunar eclipses. Recall that they ultimately had to calculate astronomical patterns happening over approximately 200 years. So we solved half the problem, at least to our own satisfaction; and we will leave the rest to you. Think about it. Was life expectancy so brief? Or did people live to greater ages than we've always assumed? Were the knotted-string methodologies (quipu) known, or did those people have writing and calculation methods that we wot not of? We've puzzled over our uncertainty for years. Every time we see a piece on Stonehenge, it reinvigorates our thoughts. Will you share your thoughts? Give us feedback. Blessed be those who question easy assumptions. GY