Saturday, September 29, 2007

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 ( outskirtspress.com ) . 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 wicca.org. 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

6 comments:

The Pagan Temple said...

Gavin and Yvonne-

Thanks for answering the questions, and no problem about the wait. I'm glad you posted them here. I hope you don't mind me giving you my response to them, as these are very interesting topics to me. Hopefully, some of the others might want to weigh in on them as well.

1. It's very admirable that you could take this approach. I don't think I could do this myself, to be honest.

2. Well, we're being recognized more often and more accurately for what we are, as opposed to being identified as the same as satanist or devil worshipers. I guess that's at least somewhat of a good start.

3. I have a problem with the original. Maybe I would feel differently if I'd seen it, but it seems odd that Wiccans would be so accepting of a portrayal of a community of pagans as all eager participants in a human sacrifice (even of such a despicable character as in the movie).

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to imply that all Wiccan-Pagan characters in films should be portrayed as all good. I would actually much prefer a portrayal of us as being as mixed as any other group, with good and bad and in between. But a whole community of human sacrifice practitioners seems a little over the top.

I think Nicholas Cage (or his agent) in the second film was more worried about him being portrayed as an adult virgin than anything else.

4. I guess it's still a cottage industry. One day somebody might well come out with something that might provide the breakthrough for Wiccan authors in general. Hell, who knows, you guys might yet do it.

5. I read that, in fact. Come to think about it, I think I'll do a post about it and link it, as it was quite good.

I have mixed feelings about the subject. I do have a couple of Christo-Pagan acquaintances, and I'm sure they are sincere and well-meaning. I do think it's possible to be a Christian Pagan. I base this on the idea that Christ was originally, in my opinion, a pagan god himself.

As for being a Wiccan Christian, that's an entirely different subject. I can't see it. It would be a whole different thing. If it were a Wiccan thing based on paganism, then it would not be Christian. If it were Galillean Pagan Reconstructionism, then it would still not be Christian, or Wiccan either.

For the most part, with Christians in general, I think there should be definite boundaries set, though in a respectful way. I support their rights to practice their faith, but I expect the same courtesy from them. It's kind of difficult for me, living in a Bible belt community, so maybe that has colored my attitude. You can get along with them up to a point, and getting to that point pretty much amounts to keeping your beliefs to yourself. Then, you have to guard against resentment, etc. But, no one said it would be easy.

6. The whole witch wars thing is almost like a civil war, and you can pretty well spot the rabble rousers and their supporters. I don't see what the point is myself. There never was a monolithic pagan organization, and never will be one. So the people who are engaged in the witch wars already have their followers, they should just go on about their business and leave the rest of us alone to follow our paths. But power and the urge for it turn people into maniacs, I guess.

Kind of hard to see how people that can't rule their own lives and control their own hearts think they should rule and control anybody else.

7. Good to know that. I've been called everything from a Nazi to a communist for espousing first one either conservative or liberal political viewpoint, including in Pagan political groups. I argue with both sides, so I have few friends, but oh well. I'm a moderator of one e-mail group, and have approved messages telling me off, just so I could have the pleasure of giving them "what for".
I have fun in strange and unusual ways.

8. Corruption comes with growth and is something that should be guarded against. We are in a unique position. Most adherents of traditional faiths never considered that their leaders might be or become corrupt. That was just not in their world view. They were just told to "have faith". Yeah, right. Faith has it's place, but it should walk hand in hand with reason and a sense of healthy skepticism.

9.I've always been intrigued by Caligula, and so enjoyed your article about him. I always thought his mother poisoned his father (not him at the age of eight years old, for Pete's sake).

I do though tend to believe the stories, at least about his exaggerated sense of godhood. I compare him to George W. Bush, and his perhaps subconscious messianic complex (or perhaps it is an intentional ploy aimed at his Christian conservtive followers).

Check out an astrological ephemeris sometime, and compare one during the years of Caligula's reign with the years of Bush's presidency. Note the positions of Pluto and Neptune.

10. As someone who is pretty much a Hellenic oriented Wiccan, but generally eclectic, I think the ideal is to establish a well-rounded rapport with all the deities, though some people will find themselves attracted to some more than others.

I think the ones you are attracted to tells quite a bit about the kind of person you either are or wish to become, and the potential you wish to develop. At the same time, the ones you might not feel a close kinship with tells something about you as well, and might well point out certain trouble spots that need work and development. As for me, I am afraid I have quite a ways to go yet.

Thanks again for responding. As always I look forward to further postings from you. And, if you ever do get around to posting links, blogrolls, etc., I would be honored to be included on yours.

Blessed Be

The Voice of Reason said...

Gavin and Yvonne....

Should we tell him how hard it was getting your photo on this thing? Blog Rolls....ah well...maybe in time.

Love and light to all,

Deb

Edward Anderson said...

The Pagan Temple wrote:
"3. I have a problem with the original. Maybe I would feel differently if I'd seen it, but it seems odd that Wiccans would be so accepting of a portrayal of a community of pagans as all eager participants in a human sacrifice (even of such a despicable character as in the movie).

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to imply that all Wiccan-Pagan characters in films should be portrayed as all good. I would actually much prefer a portrayal of us as being as mixed as any other group, with good and bad and in between. But a whole community of human sacrifice practitioners seems a little over the top.

I think Nicholas Cage (or his agent) in the second film was more worried about him being portrayed as an adult virgin than anything else."

I sincerely doubt that Mr. Cage, who has played a suicidal, depressive, alcoholic would be concerned about being thought of as a virgin!

More to the point, however, is that I would suggest that before you critique a movie, you should at least see it! Also, you need to understand the myth of the surrogate king.

The concept was that a surrogate king would allow himself to be selected, and volunteer to die so that his free-will sacrifice would result in good crops and healthy domesticated animals.

In the original, Sgt. Howie was given numerous chances to not be the sacrifice. He was repeatedly told to leave. Nobody held him there. It was his free choice. And thus, he willingly gave his life to help the entire community, as has been done so many times before.

I think it is a fair argument to ask, "But did he know what he was getting into?" The answer, I believe, is that at first, no. But there is a scene in the library where he reads about the coming sacrifice. Perhaps he didn't realize it would be him and he thought it would be Rowan, but it was his duty, and his belief, that he should be willing to give up his life to save Rowan, so why not the entire community?

Now frankly, I think the time of the Sacrificial King is over. But the community on Summerisle was developed well over 100 years ago (in the story). Is it possible that such a sacrifice was made more recently?

Indeed, during WWII Germany was ready to invade England. Several occult authors have reported of a big ritual in England were several older ritualists did the ritual skyclad and died as a result. For some reason, Germany did not invade England.

One of the problems with deconstruction is that people take things out of the context of the times and environment in which they occurred.

The Pagan Temple said...

Edward-

That makes it all a little clearer, thanks. The idea that he might have willingly allowed himself to be the sacrifice was something I'd never seen touched on in any of the discussions I've read.

One person did kind of allude to the fact that he became the sacrifice he had always wanted to be in the Christian sense, but the way that person said it made it seem to be more of an irony than a willful decision on his part.

Another person made the point that the film may have in part been intended as a warning against religious fanaticism, and how it can manifest among any faith-in this case Christians as well as pagans.

I think I got a little miffed at the descriptions of some people who described it in the sense of groups seeing it, and standing in the theaters and cheering when the sacrifice went down. It was a real WTF moment for me when I read that.

Also, I am aware of the myth of the surrogate king. I believe it was Robert Graves who first propounded that interpretation of certain historical artifacts. In fact, he postulated that in the earliest days of antiquity, the king was actually the true sacrificial victim, but over time, a surrogate was used in place of the king, so the true king could continue his life and reign.

GavinandYvonne said...

In the dvd of the original that we have there is a commentary by the director and the author.
Which goes into many of your points.
One comment that I loved was made to the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals.
"We only burnt furry cuddly animals the rest were unharmed."

The Pagan Temple said...

Gavin and Yvonne-

Whoah, I hope the PETA people never learn of that remark, joke or no joke. They act like they don't even believe in exterminating rats or other vermin. One opponent of the PETA chairman during a TV debate couldn't even get him to say it was alright to kill head lice.

I think most people that liked the movie were taken by the idea of a self-sustaining pagan community, plus certain aspects of it-the music, for example. "Summer Is A' Cumin" or something like that is one I've seen mentioned quite a bit. Then, there are the naked girls dancing, though it was said they were actually wearing body suits.

I would probably like the movie, so I don't know how to explain my queasiness, other than to try to explain it this way.

Suppose two people go to see a movie that was a crime drama, and each one gives a description of it.

First Person-"Man, that was a gripping drama. This psycho was going around raping and killing women, and this detective went through hell to figure out who he was so he could stop him, but he finally did, but man was it ever scary."

Second Person-"Man, that was a cool flick. This guy was going around raping all these hot women, and man was it fun watching him do it. The look in their eyes while he was torturing them was really cool."

See the difference? Same movie, two different perspectives. One of them you kinda have to wonder about.

I wrote an article on Witchvox about building a pagan community, it's listed under the name DancingCrow3, if you want to check it out. I still think it's a sound idea, as far as the implementation goes, but I have to wonder whether it would be a good idea in the long run.

We would have our problems just like any other community, it wouldn't be a paradise that some I think assume it would be. We would have our share of criminals, addicts, troublemakers, etc., just like every other community. I might well be the weekend town drunk.