Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Amazon SMILE for scholarships

Amazon SMILE scholarships to inmates In the early days of the Church and School of Wicca, we were able to award scholarships to worth-while inmates and to support other inmates in their quest for freedom to worship while incarcerated. Partially as a result of that policy, in the case of Dettmer versus Landon Wicca became a federally recognized religion. All of us still owe a debt of gratitude to those courageous people who put their chances of parole in jeopardy by persisting in their drive for freedom of worship. Recently, though, the Church and School has been unable to financially support such efforts. We have looked for people who will sponsor inmates from among society at large, and have failed to get any--any! The Church and School is now part of Amazon SMILE Program. In the program Amazon donates 0.5 percent of the purchase price of any object to the charity designated by the purchaser. Some friends of the Church and School have designated the Church and School as their SMILE recipient. What we now plan is that we will use any SMILE proceeds--every last cent of it--to support worth-while inmates. Your help in this matter will be appreciated: by us ourselves, of course, and by the target inmates. All you have to do when you make a purchase from Amazon is to designate the SMILE money to go to the Church and School of Wicca. Keep in mind that all such outlay on your part is tax-deductible. Thank you from us and from recipients, and Blessed be! Gavin and Yvonne

Monday, December 8, 2014

Goldilocks and God

"God" in the title of this blog isn't meant in any conventional sense. Instead you might want to call it the First Cause (hereinafter TFC). There are a series of far-out coincidences that allow us to exist on earth. The first and obvious one is the temperature, that allows a carbon life form such as ourselves to exist. This is where Goldilocks comes in: The planet we call ours is not too hot and it's not too cold; it's just right. But there are a lot of other "coincidences" without which we could not live on this planet. It has been argued that life forms based on other elements could exist. The one most frequently posited is silicon, the element closest to carbon on the Periodic Table. We can imagine the life form that exists and uses silicon dioxide as a source of energy, though silicon dioxide is a solid, not a gas. A silicon-based life form could probably show some semblance of life as we know it, but it's probably difficult for most of us to imagine how. Other carbon-based life forms could also exist. We know that they exist near volcanic vents on the ocean floor in areas of extreme pressure and heat, though again, it's difficult to imagine a planet that could support them, simply because of the pressure and heat that it would have to continually generate. So what about other planets that have an environment similar to earth's? As you know, earth's orbit is an ellipse, and that helps. It is tilted relative to the plane of its revolution. The tilt is only about 2 percent. It can be calculated that if the tilt were 4 percent, then for half the year the oceans in the northern hemisphere would freeze and those in the southern hemisphere would boil. Our distance from our star, the sun, is also highly critical. Again, a small percentage difference would give us an atmosphere in which life as we know it could not exist. The so-called probabilistic argument considers all these probabilities and concludes that the chance of conditions favorable to any life happening is one in 1018. Since the latest SWAG (SWAG: scientific wild-ass guess) of planets is 1011, you can see that you simply can't be here. This always comes back, then, to the question of: How did life as we know it arise? Was it by a miracle performed by TFC? Or was it something that could not have failed to happen? Recent experiments with what are called hard vacuums and the CERN Giant show that matter blinks into existence and almost immediately disappears. Such a generation of matter from apparently nothing is, shall we say, somewhat puzzling to today's physicists. We do not find such spontaneous creation-of-matter in anything but the hardest vacuum, and so far the theory is that a vacuum could be filled with virtual particles that occasionally collide to form real matter. The renormalized mathematics which shows why matter blinks in and blinks out is as weird as anything even a Christian could envision--unless perhaps Einstein's famous equation E=mc2 is reversible. To wit: Put in a large amount of energy, and matter is formed So then the question arises: whether it is from these first infinitesimally small pieces of matter that everything was built. Apparently it is possible (at least theoretically) that such a thing can happen--but apparently it can happen only when the conditions are just right: firstly in the plasma of the first creation, then developing in the nuclear furnaces of stars, then to a Goldilocks planet where semi-intelligent life forms can presume to ask the question: Is there any need for an existential god or goddess--a juju? We guess we do need a TFC, to write the equations ... or do we? If this makes you feel like soaking your head, join the crowd. Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne

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