Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sacred Places

If you are like us, by this time of year you've reached the saturation point with all the gasping of conventional religionists about "sacred" spots and "sacred" places. The recent BS about a house found in "Nazareth" is just the latest gasper, one more example of a manufactured tourist trap. It's no better than the "graves" of Arthur and Guinevere, "discovered" when a big ol' church had a fire and decided to bait a lot of tourist/pilgrim revenue. Don't lose sight of the fact that Nazareth itself is an invented town; no such town existed in What's-His-Name's purported time.
Anyway, the question now is : What spot is sacred to you, and why aren't you (and we, for that matter) putting pictures and descriptions of pagan/Wiccan sacred sites on the web? There are hundreds of thousands of them. The Wells (Red and White) of Glastonbury, the Bend of the River Boyne, the tombs of Brittany ... everywhere you go there are places eligible to be called sacred. In fact, of course, the tree in your front yard or the one growing alone in the forest is also part of a sacred place. The very grass and foliage all make up the Sacred.
Think only of Britain's New Forest, site of the Rufus Stone; Glastonbury; the whole peninsula of Cornwall. The tombs of France; Carnac with its stone alignments; Gavr'inis; Beziers and Montsegur, where Cathars died in their thousands for their spiritual beliefs. In North America Yucca Mountain and Illinois' Cahokia, just for starters. Peru's Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines.
What occurs to you? Where have you felt connected to the spirituality of times past?
Recently we saw the film Avatar and were pleased at the tremendously powerful message it portrayed from beginning to end, of a people who held their natural environment sacred in every way. How vividly their mindset contrasted with that of those who would destroy the planet to get at deposits of an important metal, here called unobtainium.
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As you know, we Frosts are continually criticized for our honest and basic real-world attitude to gender relationships. Of course the majority of people can think of "deviant" relationships only in terms of the pejoratives applied to sex by the culture in which we life. How about considering that those relationships should be sacred and that sex done to produce children should in fact be a sacrament carefully thought out and reverently performed?
Identify for us your favorite sacred sites. We'd love to learn about them.
Blessed be those who hold themselves open to the sacred. Gavin and Yvonne

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Politicizing Science

Important people are gathering in Copenhagen just now to discuss global warming. We have learned that scientists doing real-world work on the topic have exchanged e-mails that discuss altering their respective findings. Who knows what those scientists now believe about the effect that greenhouse gases have on global warming? A firestorm has erupted as various interests horn in with strenuous efforts to (a) manipulate or (b) discredit the findings.
The hot air over global warming (all those portentous utterings themselves are surely contributing to the total output of hot air) is very frustrating. Global warming is an obvious fact. Polar ice and vanishing glaciers bear witness to the reality. The ice has never in any recorded history been so scant. The question then becomes : Whether greenhouse gases cause global warming. Are they simply parallel events, or is there a cause-and-effect scenario here?
Most mysteriously of all, the thing no one is willing to talk about is the finding on
global dimming.
This seems to be a deep, dark secret. It was first noted when air traffic was halted abruptly after 9-11, when all civilian air traffic was grounded. In those two days of silent skies, temperatures rose in the northern hemisphere by an average of 3 degrees. Other scientists had quietly been working on the problem for many years, and now there seems to be a veil of secrecy and a world-wide conspiracy of silence on the topic. Without the particulate absorption in the upper atmosphere, there would probably be no polar ice at all.
The efforts are only the latest in a long string of gradually intensifying situations in which hard science is being manipulated for the good of Big Business, Big Pharma, or Big Government. Attempts persist to get genetically modified food into Europe; though we can be grateful that resistance too persists.
Sometimes these attempts go sadly awry.
Because Big Business thought it could buy off a British investigatory panel, bribes were offered, bribes were taken, and the bribes were revealed. The hard science is there. Professor Arpad Pusztai of Edinburgh University unequivocally proved that GM soy led to brain damage in young rats. He was politically fired for his work--but then was hastily rehired when other universities, to which he had sent his findings, backed his position.
In other places politicized science has won the day.
Today in the United States we can buy hardly a product that is free of some GM content. Is the stuff safe? Probably not.
Millions of bottles of tap water (no, that's not a misprint) are sold despite the fact that mold-release chemicals in plastic bottles cause cancer. And we haven't even mentioned BPA that keeps the bottles flexible and soft. The water in the bottles is not separately tested. The bottlers shrug that off, claiming that they use just ordinary tap water from a municipal supply, which they say has been adequately pre-tested.
Two recent cases of immunization drugs are enlightening. (a) One drug is claimed to reduce incidence of cervical cancer--even though tests showed that it had little or no effect, and indeed could be deadly. (b) Recent tests of the H1N1 vaccine* revealed that it contains formaldehyde, antifreeze, and mercury. (There is strong evidence connecting mercury to autism. We have yet to learn what formaldehyde [an embalming fluid] and antifreeze can do down the road.) All this quite apart from the fact that the vaccine is grown in eggs and consequently is an allergen to some individuals.
More recently, the United States government came out with a new recommendation: Women should avoid mammograms. When they said this, they gave no reason; naturally enough, there was a tremendous outcry. When pushed to the wall, the panel admitted that, yes, mammograms cause cancer. They quoted quite high numbers for the number of cancers caused; yet the statistics are very suspicious. It looks as if the panel took the numbers for women who are genetically disposed to getting breast cancer with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. British studies of 2004** showed lower numbers than the US on the number of caes of breast cancer--but they still strongly urged that mammograms be replaced with sonograms, or, if really necessary, with an MRI.
The industry that manufactures mammogram equipment and processes mammograms is hanging on tooth and nail. It is a multi-billion-dollar industry and they don't want to lose their income. We believe they will lose this struggle, especailly since if a mammogram does show a shadow, the next step is often a sonogram. Why not skip the mammogram entirely and go directly to a sonogram? Would that be too rational? Insufficiently dramatic for the bragging rights and the hanky-twisting of the woman involved? Would it cause discontent in the stockholders?
As with all these matters, we look to science for the impartial, objective truth. We look to them to tell us the tradeoffs. Does the autism-causing mercury in the H1N1 vaccine negate the thousands of lives that it would save? Yes, the labs used the mercury because they had to make the vaccine hastily, but does that justify making it dangerous?
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* GlaxoSmithKline H1N1 According to the package insert itself, the influenza vaccine contains formaldehyde, polysorbate 80, squalene, thimerosal, mercury, egg protein, sodium deoxycholate, and DL-a-tocopherol.
** Lancet, 1 February 2004

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Teenage Baby Problem

The self-styled pagan/Wiccan community has severely criticized us Frosts, we hear, for (among other activities) advocating sex education and the introduction of teenagers to (oh gasp) sex. Indeed, at one point the right-wing fringe elements of the Wiccan community threatened to burn us in effigy (gasp again) because of our beliefs. Despite such foot-dragging, we still firmly believe that this nation is in deep trouble because of its head-in-the-sand attitude to realistic sex education for teens.
So guess what. That attitude of denial has come to bite authorities and all the abrahamic fundamentalist religionists firmly in the ass. Teenagers have rebelled against the just-say-no paradigm, which they (rightly) view as absolute hypocrisy. They can see for themselves adults or near-adults enjoying sex in TV and on the web.
We learn that the lowest recent teen birth rate occurred in 2005. In 2008 it was up an average of 7 precent. That may not sound like much--but it means over 40,000 extra actual live birth to teens. Nearly 90 percent of teen girls are now single mothers. Apocryphally, from talking with high-school teachers, we suspect that the birth rate will climb another 10 percent in 2009--meaning almost 100,000 extra teen births. Of course this does not include twice that many abortions.
You may not be aware of some recent trends in teen attitude to sex.
* Pregnancy parties - Groups of boys and girls meet and do all the sex they can stand. The girls' aim: to get pregnant without being able to attribute the pregnancy to a single partner.
* Sexting - The use of cellphones to receive and transmit sexually explicit pictures and to arrange copulation dates and pregnancy parties.
* Juicing - This expression may be less crude than the f-word; however, it has an additional dimension: It means totally unprotected sex. At today's teen pregnancy party, we are given to understand, the girls try to get juiced by several different partners.
Of course juicing also means that American teens have the highest level of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) of any developed country in the world. The rate is some 30 times higher than in Germany and 20 times the level of EU nations as a whole.
* Babydaddy - Today's expression for the unknown father of the child--not lover, not fiance, not even steady or boyfriend--and never by name. With this approach the pregnant young woman cannot tell Social Services who the father is. Everybody gets a free ride.
Questions arise. Why are teens engaging in these activities? What creates this mindset in them? They know full well that they can have protected sex and get most of the enjoyment without the resultant baby. It seems, though, that it is not raging hormones; instead
1. Many of the girls do it for simple and straightforward economic reasons. Their family, and they themselves, are often starving, or at least living on the breadline. Fortunately for them, many high schools are now running baby-sitting services; and HUD will provide an apartment, medical care, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program--SNAP.
2. It may be also that some of the pregnancies are jailbreak pregnancies--anything to get out of the repressive family context. Even though they are in dire economic straits, many parents, including some who call themselves pagans, will have nothing more to do with teen daughters who have "sinned".
3. Sociologists tell us too that some of these pregnancies--pregnancy as revenge--are to shame the parents. Revenge for what? Maybe for perceived wrongs, or for the "gratitude" the daughters feel they have never received.
So long as there is stubborn silence, there can never be anything like a full and satisfactory resolution of the reasons.
The highest ratio of births is in the southern tier of "red" states, where fundamentalism rules. The top state, by the way, is Nevada, running 77 births per 1,000 teenage girls. These births are highest in non-hispanic whites.
The situation is dire. Apart from encouraging what might be called a French attitude to sex, in which contraceptive measures, abortion, and the morning-after pill are all available and free without tattling to parents, we can see that the situation will not improve if the root cause is economic. It looks as if we are going to have to face up to some kind of a federal allowance for teenagers.
Do you have feelings about these topics? We'd like to hear from you.
Yes, apple pie and motherhood are an essential part of the Norman Rockwell-type American dream. But (here comes Yvonne's reality smack--you knew it was coming, didn't you?) even when the babies have lost their entertainment value, even when the Cute Factor plummets to zero,

you can't take 'em to the pound.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Plan B

As many of you know, Gavin studied mathematics in college. Because of that study, and perhaps because he listened to the family's nightly dining-table discussions of their galvanizing business, he runs his life with what we call a Plan B approach. What that means is this: Any given project or life decision must include an alternate plan that can be put into action if the original plan does not work out.
During the time he worked in the Autonetics Division of North American Aviation in California of the 1960s*, that attitude drove his engineers completely crazy. When the group was assigned to design some new and different piece of electronic equipment, his constant question to the engineers was, "If it doesn't work, what do we do then?" Instead of waiting till rollout through the long schedule of some projects, it was better to work a Plan B in parallel. Thus when an engineering failure did occur, a backup system was ready.
For almost everything you do in life, there is a possible Plan B, though sometimes it takes quite a bit of thinking out. In some cases the approach might be considered redundant; but in other cases it can literally save your (ahem) center of gravity.
Take a simple example. The pressure inside Gavin's maturing eyeballs was too high. If it had stayed that way, the result would have been glaucoma. The doctor recommended that he use Travatan drops. Those drops seemed to work ... but they had several possible side effects, ranging through depression, chest pain, slow heartbeat, and yes, death--long odds, but nevertheless possible. Discussions with the doctor revealed that laser surgery on what is called the angle of the eye could achieve the same result as those drops without the risks implied with the prescription; but to do the surgery, the surgeon had to go actually inside the eyeball. Gavin asked, "Why not combine two things: cataract surgery (since you estimate that work is probably something like one year in my future) and the laser work on the angle?"
In the School of Wicca we had to consider way back in the 1960s what would happen if the School failed. The answer to that was to work out a second source of income. At first that took the form of raising hogs and then turned into writing books and finally, upon retirement, into Social Security.
Always have a Plan B. Two examples: (1) If you don't like the ingredients of the vaccines for swine flu, you could think about strengthening your immune system. This is known as approaching the matter from the Other End. Get your immune system up to speed with more exercise; perhaps taking some oregano-oil capsules and natural Vitamins E and C will prevent a bad attack of flu and probably many other illnesses too.
(2) You and a companion are waiting to check out at a row of checkout registers. Let one partner stand in each line. Whichever line moves the faster, that's where the person with the shopping cart will move to.
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* That's where he and Yvonne met.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Peripatetic, but Now Home

As many of you know, we have just returned from a series of trips to various Pagan Pride Days and other meetings and festivals around the nation. Instead of writing numerous letters to each individual person or group that hosted us, we want such parties to be widely known and acknowledged for their generosity. We have deliberately not mentioned surnames; it's not our place to out anybody who feels they can't afford to be outed. Please, every reader, know our boundless gratitude. Face reality:
Together we are changing the face of this nation.
Here is some of what happened.
1. Cindy and T.J. in Erie arranged for us to attend the Erie PPD and to visit the Unitarian-Universalist fellowship for a presentation. Here we must also thank Diana and Rich and all the four-legged beings who opened their dwelling, for their hospitality and for the comfortable bed.
2. We move to the Mountain Mabon Mysteries near Stanardsville VA. Our thanks to Deb for inviting us and for all her effort in our behalf, despite the imminent arrival of Evan; to wonderful Catt for feeding and looking after us. We are getting old, after all, and do need a certain amount of logistical support to get around. Indeed, everyone on site was kind beyond the demands of politesse. What a variety of skills they demonstrated.
3. On southward to Little Rock AR and meetings with pagans from the area, at El Paso Community Center, and then a wonderfully successful presentation at the Unitarian-Universalist fellowship of Little Rock. Our choreographer here was the Egyptologist and our warm hostess Fran, and we slept at Krystina's residence. We owe both these good people, and their associates, a great debt.
4. We spent a couple of pleasant days down in Hot Springs with David and Bryen and Pa Don, and got a chance to meet (too briefly) Tii and Ra and their front-door greeter. Then it was on to Conway for another really wonderful session with the departments of Religious Studies and Philosophy, and the heads of both departments, at University of Central Arkansas. They told us that no speaker earlier had had such a numerous attendance; somebody figured that about 85 people came in. Then it was on to a potluck meet-and-greet supper with Werfriends at the home of Beth and Stephen (or Steven? sorry), organized principally by Uni.
Many of the people we met had really never had a chance to see for themselves what pagan/Wiccan fangs and hairy palms actually look like. We were as open as we knew how to be, in the hope that any reflexive adrenalin would be calmed down and stabilized.
Throughout all this caper we owe thanks to Krystina for giving us her own bed and space in her dwelling despite her busy schedule; also to Bryen and David for transportation and bed.
4. Then it was northward to Fayetteville and Springdale AR (near the foot of the great Walmart shrine in Bentonville) and to Debra, who hosted us for a week while Gavin had the flu for the first part and she herself had flu the second part. Debra, Cody, Mitch, assorted schnauzers, and a Maine Coon cat all played their roles in keeping us stable. We gave a presentation at Passages book store, did a book signing at Hastings, and presented at the Pagan Pride Day in Fayetteville.
5. The trip northward into Missouri brought us up to our old friends of Greenleaf Coven, a coven led by Pat and HP Bill for more years than they or we can remember. They held a Witches' Ball together with what we call the Samhain Seminar : a series of talks of which all were not just highly enjoyable but also thoroughly informative. Praise to the scholarship that enriched us. A self-effacing lady with a French name shyly got introduced and then left. After her departure someone told us she had left us a mind-bending gift appropriate to the Craft and to the season of the year : mead, a beautiful wooden bowl, and tea towels. Come on, Lady. We can't have reticent, indeed furtive, behavior of this nature. Next time our paths cross, let us thank you properly! Fair is fair.
Again, Pat hosted us to a room at the very comfortable Lamplighter Inn in Springfield.
6. So we're home once more, after nearly three weeks on the road. Three weeks is a l o n g time. Gavin seems to have recovered, whereas Yvonne is now fighting a bronchial manifestation of some kind. But as she says, a few days in her own matrix, with her own washing machine and her own bed, should fix her up, especially if we can summon the resolve to do our customary self-directed aquarobics.
We have mentioned many generous people. Numerous others worked more behind the scenes so that we were less aware of their efforts. This is not by any means to disregard them. All we can say is, thank you all enormously. We hugely enjoyed your company and the exchange of ideas, and one of these years we'll do some of it again.
So beware. We walk among you and you know us not.
Blessed be those who remain true to their considered path.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tradition versus Reality

A certain piece of tradition is believed to be older than the sutras. It dictates the directions that many use in casting Circle(s).
Once we had the pleasure of participating in a circle held outside Bateman's Bay on the east coast of Australia. We had thought we were well above the high-tide mark, there on the ocean sand, and were patting ourselves on the back for putting Fire in the North--but when we called the traditional Air in the East, a rogue wave came in and simply wiped the circle out. Okay. We didn't think too much about it, but simply did it all again. Another rogue wave wiped out that second circle. Hmm.
It came to us that possibly we hadn't gotten the directions right. Since we were in Australia and had already cleverly relocated North and South, we decided simply to rotate the whole circle (the circle to which we northerners were accustomed) clockwise 180 degrees.
That put Earth in the South, Air in the West, Fire in the North, and Water in the East--where the ocean was.
We had a very successful circle.
Back in the US, we began to discuss with others what should realistically be represented in each direction in the real world. The first and most obvious point was that we were standing on the Earth--so why imagine that North represented it? In India with the Himalayas at the north, it might make sense; but on the flat plains of Kansas or Missouri it surely did not.
Then we thought about East, the direction of new beginnings, symbolized every single day by the "rising"* of the sun to begin another day. Science tells us that all life began in the primordial oceans; so new beginnings should be associated with water and with such concepts as amniotic fluid or, back even further, with seminal fluid. Fire in the South, the direction of the sun at noon, seemed reasonable--except that some might argue that we are casting the circle at midnight ... We broke our pick thinking about this one, and left Fire in the South.
In North America the winds come from the West. Watch any broadcast from the Weather Channel. Therefore quite simply it seemed that Air in the West was a natural pairing.
That left us with North. Since we had already called Earth as Down/Below, we had several choices. They ranged from Wisdom or Intelligence through Ice. Finally we settled on Time; for without Time, none of this work or even ourselves would exist. As a sixth direction to complement Earth, we decided that Spirit should be Up.
These correlations fit our own group. If you live on the west coast with the ocean to the west, or you live south of one of the Great Lakes--or, for that matter, if you live on the gulf coast--where would it be best to put Water? There is an old admonition that the Witch should work her tasks in tune with the environment of her habitation. Many abrahamic religions follow tradition without question, whatever the cost to their integrity or the compromise of their common sense ... It's all too easy to see the effects of that mindset.
So what say you? Do you prefer the tradition or the real world? Which works for you and your group?
Blessed be those who question. Gavin and Yvonne
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* If we draw back to get an overview, of course, the sun does not rise. The earth sinks.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sexual Freedom, or, If you don't like it, you can't have any

The nature of spirit may be understood by a glance at its opposite, matter.
As the essence of matter is gravity, on the other hand we may affirm
that the essence of spirit is freedom. -- Georg Hegel (1770 - 1831)

Starting in the late 19th century, people all over the world began to search for a new religious freedom. They looked to nature, to the classical early cultures, and to the Orient for clues with which to form a new religious path. From that movement arose many of the great philosophers in the history of Wicca. This was the time loosely called the Enlightenment.
In the 20th century, whether it be Gardner in the New Forest, or Victor Anderson on the west coast of the United States, or Bertrand Russell, all were seeking freedom.
In the 1950s those early underground trickles became a flood--especially for the ladies, when the high-dose Pill was approved in 1957. Suddenly there was no penalty to having intimate relations with whom you liked. And we all took advantage of it.
It was the time of Hair on stage. The Canadian National Ballet permormed nude. In England the Lord Chamberlain even allowed nude figures actually to move on stage. Such breakthroughs were the mood of the time. Sexual encounters were free in a way that has now been lost. There was no hidden agenda. If a couple wanted to do it, they did, not expecting anything more than a pleasant interlude with smiles all round. Pantyhose replaced stockings and garter belts, making mini-skirts possible. Tight trousers of knit fabric left little to the imagination. Groups of consenting adults participated in open marriages. We often joke with some of the ladies whom we knew back then that it's a wonder the heads of their beds didn't collapse, given the number of notches carved on them. So you think basketball players and rap stars make out a lot? You missed it.
The coming of AIDS put a blanket on all that activity. The moralistic abrahamic faiths milked the hell out of that fact--not daring to acknowledge their envy. The "sin" of free sex was now linked with a horrible disease or death.
We miss the bad old days. People were much kinder and friendlier, and crime rates were lower, than today. People were too busy. Relations between covens were excellent. Of course we had our wrangles, but they were on serious matters of liturgy and content and optimum techniques for gaining enlightenment. We didn't scrabble in the garbage for ad hominem attacks on other members of the community. "Live and let live" was the general lens through which we viewed the world. One specific book publisher thought to benefit by breaking the atmosphere of friendship through "putting the Frosts on trial". It never came off, though; instead that meeting developed a saying " "I have the one and only true path -- for me!" Would that we could live by it today!
Somewhere in that dim and distant past of free-wheeling creativity Yvonne came up with an acronym for guidelines in sexual relations in that mindset : The word is DUPED.
No D isease
Not U nder contract as in a monogamous marriage
No unwanted P regnancy
No E xpectation of commitment
No implication of emotional D ebt

Neither party should be DUPED.

Additionally, we need to point out that the control paradigm--the eternal trinity--of the abrahamic faiths is
guilt, shame, and fear.
The sooner you can get past the idea that copulation is a sin and think of it more as a loving sacrament, the quicker you will be able to say "Up yours" when some moralistic churchman self-appointed guardian of the public virtue (virtue according to the terms he's been taught) says "You're immoral."
Optional is not mandatory, Reverend. Surely good, valid real-world morality (that is, ethics) teaches that kindness to each other is a first principle. Surely people would be better off to hear "If it harm none" than "Aha! Gotcha now!" Think of the charming film Chocolat.
You want to pass laws that make it illegal to (fill in the blank) ? Such an act would incorporate your religious belief and inflict what you've been taught into my behavior.* Hey! I'm a taxpayer too. You can tattle to your god and feel all righteous, but don't try to claim the moral high ground. Restriction is not freedom. Just get your nose out of my crotch and let me quietly go my way.
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* Examples: same-sex marriage; stem-cell research, abortion, assisted death

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hot News

We're back--for a short time--after spending Mabon at the site called Heavenly Acres near Stanardsville VA. What a great celebration. The leader of the festival, Deb Striker, even though eight months pregnant, had a great organization and everything went off in real time rather than in eastern pagan time. Praise to every individual who supported her and helped to make this such an enriching experience.
We ourselves did seven presentations and workshops. Word must have gotten around : successive workshops were attended by more and more people. We owe special thank-yous : Catt, for feeding and looking after us so well; Deb's husband John for building the stage on which we enjoyed teaching Argentine tango and then watching such events as the fashion show and the dancers and bands.
We confidently expect this festival to grow, especially since it is one of the least expensive three-day observances in the nation. The site is aptly named : beautiful second-growth forest, with facilities here and there, and showers and toilets that actually worked. About 4 o'clock one morning Yvonne heard an owl rehearsing its riffs; and squirrels and other furred ones abound.
Now to other business. Tomorrow we expect to put one of our more thought-provoking essays on this site. Meantime here is some more scheduling news.

09 26 NRUUF's Nature Spirituality Alliance Day at the Southern Appalachian Folklife Center,
just a spit and a holler from West Virginia's Pipestem State Park in Summers County off Highway 20. 9 a.m. until sunset, for a donation at the gate.

10 9/10/11 Little Rock Arkansas arkansaspaganpride.thestoremore.com

10 17 Fayetteville Arkansas Heart of the Ozarks Pagan Pride Day
Northshore Pavilion 10:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Lake Fayetteville Road, Fayetteville AR 72702

10 24/25/26 Springfield Missouri Greenleaf Coven's 31st Samhain Seminar
3 p.m. Friday through the weekend : speakers, readers, vendors, drumming on site

Lamplighter Inn reservations@lamplightersouth.com
[mention Frosts or ORPA (Ozarks Regional Pagan Alliance) or Greenleaf]
1772 S Glenstone 417) 882-1113

We'll see you at one of these events. If you are a newby to the Craft, or if you just want to see the weirdos at play, or if the itch of curiosity just won't be quieted, drop in and see what it's all about. Yes, we're deviant, but not necessarily dangerous. And anyhow, you've seen normal (shudder). How will you ever know unless you see for yourself? In-person conversation is so infinitely more satisfactory than brief, hasty questions on the web.
Blessed be those who hold out for first-hand experiences. Gavin and Yvonne

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Our Immediate Future

Again, we're back from visiting friends out of town, for a day at home to catch up on laundry and e-mail. We've just been to Erie PA for their Pagan Pride Day, a mind-blowing event. The spirit there and the sense of community were a joy to experience.
The trip was arranged by Reverend Badger and Cindy, to whom many thanks--more than we can express. We stayed in the home of Diana and Rich, to whom even more thanks. Their various cats and two dogs were kind enough not to complain even when we wore their fur thin.
While we were in the neighborhood, on the Friday we took the opportunity to lunch with Frank and Darlene Barney at Brushwood. Darlene was her usual feisty self, much to our pleasure; and Frank seemed stronger than when we had seen him in summer. Maybe it was the lower population density. Sending energy to Frank would be much appreciated--certainly by us Frosts. We confirmed our invitation to Sirius Rising next July; so you troops be there; you hear? See
At the Pagan Pride Day we gave three presentations. The one that seemed most popular was "99 Ways Good Witches Go Bad", based on our book "Good Witches Fly Smoothly". We offered some of our books for sale; interestingly, no one bought a "Good Witch's Bible" (the update of "The Witch's Bible"); so maybe nobody is interested any longer in what it really says ... as contrasted to what the web says it says, or maybe wants it to have said.
On the Sunday we had the great pleasure of giving a presentation at the Erie Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship after their annual Blending Water service. That service occurs at this time of year, when people returning from vacation and travel bring with them a little water from memorable places. Glastonbury was well represented, as were Northern Ireland and many other sites.
Our plans for the immediate future? They include the festival in Springfield MO, now set for October 30 at the
Lamplighter Inn (417) 882-1113 reservations@lamplightersouth.com
172 S. Glenstone Springfield
For reservations, mention
ORPA (Ozarks Regional Pagan Alliance) or
Anyhow, off we lurch. Until next time, blessed be all. Keep fresh batteries in your b**ls**t detector. Gavin and Yvonne

Monday, September 7, 2009

Syncretic Monotheism

One of the things that the pagan/Wiccan community seems to find disturbing about the School of Wicca (among so many other things) is the School's espousing the paradigm of a monotheistic, unknowable Ultimate Deity. Of course most of the community cannot be expected to be familiar with the fine esoteric distinctions essential to scholastic anthropology and philosophy; these are specialist fields.
If there is postulated an Ultimate Deity beyond being "known" by the left-brain intelligence, that instead is something beyond "Nothingness" and is indescribable, one that can be comprehended only through the right brain, one that is at an entirely different level, that is beyond our simple comprehension at this stage of our development, then people who believe in such an Ultimate Deity are ipso facto monotheists. They are what is defined as syncretic monotheists. Since the Ultimate Deity is incomprehensible, a deity of any type and any gender, described in any terms, is acceptable to a religion/spiritual path that espouses such a Deity construct.
The monotheism taught by the abrahamic religions is defined as ethnic monotheism with its exclusive "My way or die" mindset. In such a monotheism only one god--a definable god (or goddess, for that matter)--is permissible; nothing else. All other deities are beyond the pale and are labeled evil, illegal, or satanic.
The Church and School of Wicca teaches syncretic inclusive monotheism that allows all types of gods and goddesses to be part of your personal pantheon. These lower-level gods and goddesses are often thought of in anthropomorphic terms and are comprehensible to our finite left-brain minds: They're a lot like us, though maybe more powerful. These are subordinate deities, of course--stone gods, jungian archetypes, devas, elementals, "entities", jujus, thoughtforms, ethnic specialties of every stripe. Call 'em what you will, they are creations of the human mind. In other words, without human attention, they would never have existed and would cease to exist.
We urge you to expand your awareness, to look up the scholarly definitions from original sources, and to understand that the right-brain undefinable idea is just as real, just as valid, as that of the left brain. The two categories are simply in different dimensions.
Now. If we have not insulted you and your beliefs, raise your hand. We'll get to you just as quickly as we can.
Blessed be those who question. Gavin and Yvonne

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Who Founded Wicca?

Fact Wikipedia, Ronald Hutton ("The Triumph of the Moon"), and many others claim that
St. Gerald Gardner founded Wicca and some claim thta Raymond Buckland brought Wicca to New York.
Fact They are all wrong. Although Gerald Gardner did a great deal to publicize Witchcraft, in only one place in all his writings did he use the word wicca--and he was not referring to a spiritual path or to a religion.
Whee. Let's have a schism.
We well remember the occasion in 1968 CE when the Coven of Boskednan gathered after a circle, each with a glass of Beverage, to discuss whether the thing they were working on should be called Wicce or Wicca. The final agreement was that it should be Wicca (the male form of the noun). Thus in 1968 the Church and School of Wicca was born. The Church earned its Letter of Determination from the IRS on August 31, 1972.
Many people have contributed to the formation of Wicca.
Gerald Gardner popularized his form of Witchcraft and with the help of Doreen Valiente formed Gardnerian Witchcraft. Later--posthumously--at some time in the mists of history, someone declared that it had now become Gardnerian Wicca.
Raymond Buckland brought Gardnerian Witchcraft to New York in 1964. In 1966 he wrote "Witchcraft the Religion". In 1971 June Johns wrote "King of the Witches"; Stewart Farrar wrote "What Witches Do"; and Leo Martello held a "witch-in" in New York City's Central Park.
Our (Frosts') first use of the word Wicca to identify a spiritual path and a religion was welcomed and embraced by the community, especially the community's feminist side. Raymond Buckland formed Seax Wicca in 1973; in that same year Reclaiming Wicca, a Feri tradition, was born based loosely on the teachings of Victor and Cora Anderson.

It is amusing to see how Wicca has moved back in time. Indeed, one could now easily believe that there was an ancient Roman religion called Wicca and perhaps even one in Catal Huyuk in, say, 14,000 BCE. Of course there may well have been elements of the modern reconstruction in the thoughts of those earlier peoples. Certainly we find glimmers of them in old Tantra and in Jewish mysticism, particularly in the concepts of timelessness and oneness associated with Nirvana and the indescribable, unknowable Ein Sof. And goodness knows, there was a time before Pope Gregory dealt with the calendar, when people timed their festivals by the movement of heavenly bodies, not "on the first day of calendar month X."
We think it behooves self-appointed people who lecture, people who write, people who otherwise discuss this new vibrant spiritual path, to get their facts straight. If they can't be bothered, then their whole set of claims becomes equally suspect.
Historic sources, like the virgin, need to be immaculate.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Our Immediate Future - Frost Travels 2009

The following events and presentations are scheduled firm. If you want to meet the Frosts in person, if you'd like to see their fangs and their hairy palms for yourself, come to one or more of the events listed here. Final updates will be posted not on this website, but at the websites listed with each entry. Completing websites will appear here as they arrive on our own Incoming.

September 6 Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship(UU), Beckley WV 11:00 a.m.
"Toward Enlightenment" newriveruu.org
September 12 Pagan Pride Day, Erie PA board@U-N-C-L-E.org
10:30 until dark St. Nick's Grove, Erie PA
September 13 Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, Erie
"Megalithic Monuments"
September 17 - 20 Mountain Mysteries Mabon, Stanardsville VA
September 26 Nature Spiritual Alliance Day, Appalachian South Folklife Center
Pipestem WV http://naturespirituality alliance.ning.com
October 9, 10, 11 Little Rock AR arkansaspaganpride.thestoremore.com

October 17 ff Fayetteville AR

October 24 Springfield MO
Witches' Ball

PS PaTpl Thanks for your attention. You know who you are. Are you willing to divulge at least what state you reside in?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Supernatural? Paranormal? Abnormal?

Okay, we're back--temporarily, at least. This season we're responding to more and more requests for presentations. Florida Pagan Gathering, Sirius Rising (New York State), and Kaleidoscope Gathering 20 in Ontario : all were wonderful festivals. Those who do not attend miss a lot of spiritual growth, a genuine glimpse of an alternative reality, a chance to kick back for more than the 20-minute downtimes of the workaday world.
Soon we will be running off in all directions again. The season is far from over.
Looking over recent mail, we get the impression that people are once again getting confused by the words the conventional religions use to promulgate their paradigm and their agenda. In that paradigm there are lots of things that you are not allowed to investigate. Such experiences are labeled, for instance, supernatural, paranormal, abnormal, or even mental illness. For endless centuries, ever since the Axial Age when dominating male gods took over from goddesses, we in the western world have been taught that we must avoid all those terrible devilish manifestations--although such manifestations occur in every culture of the real world.
Now here's what we call a reality smack.

There is no such thing as paranormal or supernatural. Everything in the world is natural. Do not fall into the trap of avoiding investigation of these valid experiences because some authority figure has told you they are off-limits.
This is exactly the problem we experience with the abrahamic gods and creation. "You must not investigate that. It's God", we're told. The off-warding hand is accompanied by tone and expression of chin-trembling piety.
Hmm. Pardon me. Why can't I investigate it? The juju will smack me down if I look behind the curtain?
You owe it to yourself to explore possibilities, and to develop your own faculties to accomplish that exploration. You should welcome experiences that allow you more comprehension of the mundane and the spiritual worlds in which we live : both the physical / temporal world of the here-now and the altered-state world of astral planes. We urge you to pay attention to impressions you receive in meditation. Most of them will be helpful; though occasionally, if your Guide is of a different era, you may want to avoid such suggestions as washing your clothes at the river bank. Recall, though, that the Guide has gone to great trouble to get the information to you. I'm afraid they probably must drink themselves to sleep at night when we behave as we do and tangle ourselves in our own underwear.
If we declare our personal independence from the influence of dominator priesthoods, if we open our minds to the guidance available, we can more closely approach the ideal of getting through the currrent incarnation with maximum growth and minimum pain.
Blessed be. See you at a festival. We'll publish the autumn itinerary next week.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Raw Materials

Yvonne writes:
When we lived on the coast of North Carolina, we found the water table to be about three inches below the surface of the soil. Geologically, the entire coast might accurately be described as a wetland (the local word is pocosin). The word basin has locally been shortened to bay as in Bay River. Anyhow, natives claim the mosquito as their state bird. Humans in their wisdom have seen fit to dig drainage ditches everywhere to fit the land to serve for agricultural purposes. Indeed, it has become almost a rite of passage among a certain social stratum of high-school males to drive a vehicle into one ditch or another before graduation day.
Anyhow, this is all to set the scene for my real thought here. It concerns water lilies and silt.
The muddy bottom of the ditches is a fertile place indeed. Much, much material comes to rest there. The investigating shovel may find simple saturated earth, runoff fertilizer from the potato fields, waste from careless septic tanks--any amount of assorted material, all of it rich in nutrients. We city-dwelling humans are likely to scorn the material if we are thinking stereotypically; yet there is a class of life form that regards it as desirable. That is the life form that we call water lilies. Such plants put out hungry roots and ingest the material gratefully.
What do they do with it? They convert it into blossoms of unsurpassed beauty. Recall the Buddhist mantra, "Om mane padme hum!"--"Oh, God, the jewel in the lotus!" The lotus or padme perfectly symbolizes the upward-striving spirit in every human--yet its roots are nourished in substances labeled filth.
There is a metaphor here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Greetings, Gentle Readers.

We are delighted to receive a request for input regarding the Craft from a representative of MTV. She is looking for people between ages 14 and 25 who have discovered the Craft as an alternative spiritual path and who now may be uncertain how and where to follow up. Such seekers naturally feel the need simply to ask questions--but where can they do it safely? What source is (a) safe and (b) valid and (c) non-condemning? This when their family may not be exactly encouraging of their desire simply to gain information. And the seekers need to know they are not alone.
Anyway, here is the question the MTV rep has sent us.
We are casting for an upcoming episode of the award-winning series True Life. For this episode, we are looking for people who are involved in Wicca. We are focusing on the relationship of how hard it can be when a young person believes in something their parents don't understand. I would really appreciate if you could mention this on your blog, or at your group meeting. We hope to have the show cast by the end of the month.
If you could have people email their situations to Parents@mtvnmix.com with their name, age, location, phone number, and recent photo of themselves I would really appreciate it. The age range is 14-25. end message from MTV rep ...
This could heal lives, boys and girls. Please do respond with offers of help and with contacts from real-world individuals who are somewhere along the path to and within Wicca. Goddess knows, this sorry nation needs some kind of alternative option. Just look around you and weep.
Anyhow, each of you, be true to yourself. Those who don't like it can take it to the "lord" in prayer, no?
Blessed be each one who reflects. Gavin and Yvonne

Friday, February 13, 2009

A New Product Line for eBay

In the Wall Street Journal of February 6, 2009, Ms Bari Weiss describes two cases of autonomous women taking steps to assume charge of their respective futures. Her title: "Putting Herself on Sale." These are Ms Weiss' gasping horrors.
Gasping horror No. 1: A 22-year-old woman is offering her virginity for sale. At press time, the top bid was $3.8M. Bari, is this woman claiming that because she has decided to sell hers, you must sell yours too? Repeat after me: "Optional is not mandatory." Does the term "consenting adults" convey anything to you? Clarify for me, please: How does her action hurt you?
Gasping horror No. 2: An educated, cultured woman is offering her ova for sale to people who want them. The same questions occur in my mind. Does she insist that you must imitate her? Are these not consenting adults making a rational decision in which they all can share? How are you hurt? And have you advertised your own ova for sale? Let me guess again--given your mindset, on a good day they'd get maybe $2.50 each.
Still, isn't it nice that you can hold the moral high ground and quiver with righteous indignation while you curl the lip at individuals who you claim have "sold out"? Let me guess--that you sleep with a Bible under your pillow; that you haven't yet caught on to the tired old eternal trinity of the dominator culture: Guilt, shame, and fear.
So how about this for a fresh idea? You run yours, and I'll run mine.
If you don't like my thinking, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Blessed be those who think.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Must" Reading

Many of you know that we "believe in" *
1. a pantheon of deities, of which all are human constructs;
2. a syncretic monotheistic Prime-Mover-type deity that set this existence off and then retired.
The other day in reading Richard Dawkins' "God Delusion", we came upon this description of the Abrahamic god of what is often called the Old Testament. We repeat it here for your amusement and perhaps your enlightenment. Do read the book, for one thinking man's take on a conventional path.
Our hope is that you will find as much validity in Dawkins' description as we have found, as one recovering Anglican and one recovering Baptist. Here's what he says.

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sado-masochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

We urge you never, never to let a young person read a single page of the Bible without close adult supervision.
Blessed be! Gavin and Yvonne
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* Yvonne says, "Wait a minute! 'Believe in'? Sure, I acknowledge that lots of jujus-on-sticks exist; that lots of Jungian archetypes exist; that there are thought forms or (gasp) the idea of unseen specialists, if you will, in this or that aspect of human experience and longing. But believe in? Thanks, but I'm voting with my feet. Give me Guides and Elder Ones any day. Them I find credible, indeed essential, to my own spiritual path. Others need to find their own way.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lonely at the Top

We've recently joined a small book-discussion group in Beckley WV. We thought of the members as very open-minded--that is, until we played for them a portion of the School's tape "Walk through the Bible", a talk by the late Reverend Ron Parshley. At that point we found some of them were not at all open-minded. In his inimitable fashion, Ron the trained Jesuit priest showed that the Bible consists mostly of plagiarized folk stories concerning a tribal war god, cobbled together into some kind of narrative. His piece on the exodus and on the ark are classics of their kind.
We had thought that most people were aware of these flaws in the purported holy book, even those people who in their inquisitorial role caused millions of individuals to be burned in the middle ages. We were wrong. If you would like to explore these topics and to understand why we think what we think, we suggest these four books.
J. Robertson Pagan Christs
C. Hitchens God Is Not Great
R. Dawkins The God Delusion
R. Friedman Who Wrote the Bible?
Why the "normals" (and even these thoughtful authors whom I list) persist in calling Jehovah "God" is really beyond us. He's the only game in town? Come on. Without even trying, we've got a list of gods as long as our arm. If someone tries to lean on you and tell you about their juju-on-a-stick, insist at least that they stipulate which god they're talking about; otherwise, you don't have time to waste.
Be true to yourself; keep your mind in gear. Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Frost Schedule '09

Greetings, Pagans and assorted fellow Alternatives.
We have not really abandoned this blogspot; it's just that after our research trip to Europe things got a little out of hand. Our office secretary left, and the office is only now catching up.
Now we're in a paralyzing cold and (wouldn't you know?) we've both got flu or bronchitis or something that's making us flatline. Anyway, today's lunch included frozen snap peas from last summer's backyard garden and canned plums ditto. Some of the seeds we've ordered for summer '09 have begun to arrive. Everything will soon be back on track.
Please make sure to check the websites of these tentative dates below, and reserve the dates to cross-pollenize with like-minded people. If you have never done so, you will be wide-eyed at the spiritual boost it can give you. We're looking forward to seeing you at one or more of the festivals.

Here are our travel plans, current with what we know through 01 13 09 CE.
1. Florida Pagan Gathering (FPG), April 30, May 1/2/3, in Ocala National Forest FL. flapagan.org

2. Sirius Rising, Sherman NY, July 13-19. camp@brushwood.com

3. Starwood, Sherman NY, July 22-27. rosencomet.com

4. Kaleidoscope Gathering, Whispering Pines, Rockland/Plantagenet, Ontario, July 31 - Aug 4. www.kaleidoscope-gathering.com

5. Mabon, Little Rock AR, Sept 12. kremtvidge@gmail.com

6. Mountain Mysteries Mabon, Stannardsville VA, Sept 18 - 20. http.www.mountain-mysteries.com

7. Nature Spirituality Alliance Day, Pipestem WV, Sept 26. ning.com

8. Fayetteville PPD, Fayetteville AR, 10 17. www.arkansaspagans.com

9. Samhain Ball, Springfield MO, 10 24. wushih980@yahoo.com

See you there. Blessed be all. Gavin and Yvonne