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