Teen Witches

August 19, 2011

Last week A while back Albiana reposted an article she wrote about a teen witch she happened upon. If you’re not familiar with her blog, Albiana is a long time Pagan who has more recently joined up with a Garderian BTW sect. Her online persona is that of a wise and experienced, yet sassy, Wiccan. In her blog posts she often times uses this persona to poke fun at the stupidity, ignorance, or absurdity she finds within the Pagan community. It’s a fun blog to read, mainly due to her bitching.

It’s difficult to take issue with Albiana’s post. Her online persona is critical of every minor infraction against intelligence and common sense, and that’s why she’s fun. It’s only supposed to be taken seriously to a point, and beyond that it’s just entertainment. But this post in particular resonated with me, because we adults in the community do treat teens pretty shitty, and we often times don’t give them the proper respect they deserve. These teens then grow up without guidance, and being resentful towards us, and they’ll become the immature and stupid middle-aged people we all complain about having to deal with.

The phrase that Albiana overheard, which set-off the post was this:

“Yeah, so I’ve decided to be vegan now. Oh, and I finally told my parents I was bi, which made them completely freak, but then what can they do, right? I’m almost 16 and in a few years when I’m 18 they won’t have a say at all anyway. Besides, they got more pissed off when I told them I wanted to practice vampire wicca, but its my life not theirs so they can just deal.”

My first impression is complete awe. This teen has such a strong command of the English language that she’s able to express herself in a grammatically correct way, and she can do it without using profanity. However I’m assuming Albiana was paraphrasing from memory, and so this wasn’t the teen vampire-Wiccan talking, but Albiana herself. In that case I have to point out that I’m pretty sure ‘vampire wicca’ is hyphenated, but I’m not positive on that point.

My second impression is that this is a typical teenage girl. I really don’t expect much from them. Even the most intelligent teenager is still going to be largely immature, because maturity is derived from life experience, which teenagers lack. Their spiritual experiences are, at best, still minimal and their spiritual understanding is almost entirely speculation, and they typically have accumulated very little theoretical information, and next to no practical information, to develop that speculation. It’s largely a matter of time. I’ve lived twice as long as a teenager, and the older I’ve gotten the better I’ve gotten at reading. As far as life experiences go, as far as accumulated information goes, age is a huge advantage.

Teenagers are also rebellious and experimental. They do things just to piss their parents off. They also try out new things, sexually, spiritually, and dietary.

Albiana also talks about how these teens never do any real magic because they’re scared of what might happen. It’s probably true, but it’s also normal. They’re still children, and children are scared of things. I don’t mock a three year old for being scared of the dark, and I’m not about to mock a teen for being scared of a demon, or even a simple ghostie.

I’m not scared of these things, but I can easily deal with a ghostie and I can hold my own against a Goetic spirit. But I can see why someone would be afraid of a ghost or a demon. I know how to hurt a spirit, and I know how to kill one, and I’ve tested myself against some pretty nasty things and survived. There’s empowerment in all of that, and that empowerment helps with not being afraid. If I had never fought a spirit, if I didn’t know what I know, a simple ghostie would seem invulnerable. I would see myself as powerless against it. That can be a very scary place to be.

When people get so bent out of shape over something stupid a teenager did or said, I immediately assume one of two things about them. Either they live their lives terrified that someone who knew them back in high school will one day expose them for what they were as a teenager, or they’ve managed to romanticize their teenage years. Sure they may have done kid stuff, but they were intelligent and mature, and even cool about it, and nothing like these kids today.

Fortunately I didn’t really find my spiritual path until after my teen years. It wasn’t something that seemed all that important to me. So there is no goth-vampire-Wicca phase in my past. Still I’ll admit I was just as much of an embarrassment as a teenager, I just found things other than spirituality to focus myself on. Remembering the way I was, it’s hard for me to be critical of the teens I meet today.

There are adults that act like this. When a thirty, or forty, or fifty year old, or an even older person acts like this, they’re a lost cause. There’s nothing that can be done to help them if they’re that spiritually inept and generally immature at such an old age. They’re also going to be looking for things like power, control, and respect, all meaningless things that will prevent them from ever finding spiritual truth.

Teenagers though are awesome. Teenagers are just being teens when they do these things, and they all still have potential to grow up into really powerful magicians. Teenagers have an excuse for being ignorant, immature, and spiritually inept. Sometimes they come into the community to be rebellious and piss off their parents, but even when they do they’re drawn into rebelling in this direction because they have an interest in spirituality. It’s very rare to see one who wants a place of power and respect in the community or control over other people. Usually their motives are more or less pure, and they’re genuinely seeking spiritual truth.

For a lot of them, it’s going to be a phase. Right now I’d say only one and ten will still be involved with some sort of minority faith at thirty years old. But can you blame them? They’re mocked by the more respectable adult members of the community, they’re offered little in terms of guidance, and the only people willing to teach them are usually emotionally unbalanced adults that want to have power over them and possibly take advantage of them. Sadly, the most intelligent among them will see the community for exactly what it is and run away from it. The ten percent that stay are going to be so spiritually adept they don’t really need the community, or so stupid and easily manipulated that they’ll never amount to anything.

It’s the way we approach teenagers. Most teenagers need spiritual guidance when they’re first starting out. Just like most adults need spiritual guidance when they’re first starting out. Responsible adults also need to guard them within the community. There’s a lot of people who would take advantage of them, and there are quite a few more that set a bad example. Teenagers can be taken advantage of more easily. It doesn’t mean they’re stupid or gullible, and it isn’t their fault. They lack the life-experience to see things from the perspective of the adult that is victimizing them, and they often don’t understand why what’s being done to them is wrong.

They also don’t have much experience dealing with spiritual issues. They may be afraid of a lot of things. That’s normal, and a psychologically healthy response. They don’t have the spiritual tools to defend themselves, and they don’t yet have confidence in their magical abilities. That can make them feel very powerless, and make spiritual threats seem invulnerable and unstoppable. What they need is an experienced magician or magicians to take them by the hand and back them up. It’s a safety net for them, so they know that if they get in over their heads there’s someone powerful there who can fix it.

At the same time they need to be regarded as people. They deserve to be treated with the same respect as everyone else. They should be listened to, and they shouldn’t be mocked for having an opinion, being wrong about something, or exploring things. We should also keep in mind that we aren’t their parents. It isn’t our place to tell them what they should or shouldn’t do, or what they should or shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t hold it against them because they disagree with us, or because they make a life choice that seems silly to us.

We have to allow them to explore things, to do things, to make mistakes, and discover knowledge for themselves, even if they’re going to get hurt in the process. None of us were content to listen to the advice of our elders, and the same is true of the teenagers of today and tomorrow. We’ve all chosen a spiritual path that is dependent on personal growth and evolution through spiritual experiences. Children need to have those same spiritual experiences in order to evolve and grow. It’s not a type of knowledge that can be imparted to them.

Sex Magic and the Swinger Mentality

July 3, 2011

Sex magic is a fairly broad term that covers a lot of different practices. It includes everything from symbolically sexual rituals and intimate non-sexual rituals to actual sex and masturbation during a ritual. For the purposes of this article though, I’m only concerned with sex magic as defined as having actual ritual sex.

Sex magic is a valid and potentially powerful form of ritual magic. It can be used to reach higher states of ecstasy, to reach higher spiritual states of being, and to form stronger spiritual connections with your partner. It can also be used for more tangible gains, such as prosperity magic or love spells.

I’ve always been a strong proponent that sex magic works best within a monogamous relationship. This isn’t magic that is done by yourself, this is magic that is done in a partnership, and the strength and experience of that partnership is a lot more important than the strength and experience of the individual practitioners. To reach the higher levels of what is attainable through sex magic, it isn’t enough just to develop oneself. The practitioner needs to develop themselves inside of the confines of a partnership and in specific regards to that relationship.

Sex magic works best within a monogamous relationship, but there’s still a lot, magically, that can be gained from casual sex. Not everyone is going to be fortunate enough to be in a long term relationship with a fellow practitioner, and there’s still a lot that can be done and experimented with if you’re able to find another partner or two that’s willing to work with you.

However there’s an ideology that is counter-productive to sex magic that has entered the magical community by way of the swinger community. As far as I can tell, there are two types of swingers. There are a very few swingers who are fairly young and attractive. These people keep to their own kind, don’t associate with the other swingers, and, in the rare instance they enter the magical community, generally don’t get involved with sex magic. These folks are desirable, and there are always people willing to sleep with them.

The second type are unattractive. Many are older and even elderly, a large percentage are overweight, some of the men are underweight, most are out of shape, and some are just plain ugly. There usually isn’t anyone in this group that very many people would fantasize about sleeping with, and most people aren’t interested in seeing any of them naked. The problem the people in this group have is that the only people who will sleep with them are the other swingers like themselves. That might be fun for a while, but eventually some of these folks want to start sleeping with more attractive people. A big lure of swinging is getting to sleep with all sorts of attractive people, but that only really works if you happen to be an attractive person. This group also tends to have a high man to woman ratio, so there’s an incentive to get more willing women into the group.

One avenue some of these folks turn to is sex magic. It’s a way for these people to swing, and to hopefully bring in some younger and more attractive people with the lure of spirituality. No one is going to be enticed by the bodies these swingers have, so spirituality becomes an additional tool they can use to attract new partners.

Of course I take issue with the clear exploitation of someone else’s spirituality for sexual gain, but that isn’t the problem I want to talk right now. There’s a much bigger issue in that these swingers are damaging the effectiveness of sex magic by pushing an ideology which runs counter to it.

There’s an idea within the swinger culture that sex is not really connected to different emotions. Swingers are especially referring to love, but they also mean other emotions too. After all we’re not always in love with the people we have sex with, but that doesn’t mean that sex isn’t emotional for us. Most swingers believe that these emotional responses to sex are conditioned, as are certain other things connected to sex like intimacy and emotional closeness. They also believe that the best way to be is to recondition oneself so that all of these things are no longer connected to sex. Sex should just be a pleasurable physical act and nothing more.

This is a great ideology for a swinger. In fact I’d say it’s a necessary ideology if you want to be a swinger. How else can someone juggle an open marriage or deal with the emotional weight of having all of these various sexual partners?

When swingers move into the realm of sex magic, they bring this ideology with them. It’s a good ideology to bring with them, because it makes it easier for them to convince these young attractive people to have sex with them. Sex is promoted as a meaningless physical act, just like it is in the swinger community. The only difference is that in the swinger community the goal is physical pleasure, but here the goal is spiritual and obtained through ritual. In the magical setting sex becomes no different from drawing a circle on the ground or swinging a sword through the air. These are things most magicians wouldn’t think twice about doing if they believed it served some spiritual purpose, and these swingers would prefer it if we all thought the exact same way about having sex with them.

This is a great ideology for swingers, but a very poor ideology for magicians to have. The problem is having ritual sex is just like drawing a circle on the ground or swinging a sword through the air. If you do either of those things as a purely physical and mechanical act, it isn’t going to do shit. Your just drawing lines in the dirt and pushing aside air molecules. It’s the intent, the energy, and the emotion that goes into these acts that empower them during the ritual.

Sex works the exact same way. In fact sex is such a great ritual tool because, even with casual sex, it’s usually wrapped up in emotions and intimacy and creates such strong bonds between the practitioners. The feelings of love and friendship and acceptance, the intimacy and closeness you feel when you give yourself to someone, feeling wanted and being touched by someone else, and even the lust of being with someone you’re genuinely attracted to are the sorts of things that empower sex in ritual.

These aren’t the sort of things we, as magicians, should be trying to remove from sex. These are the sorts of things we should be embracing, and the parts of sex we should be trying to further exploit in our own spells and rituals. Sex should be about feelings, that’s where its power lies.

Of course I doubt the swinger element will care much. I’ve talked to many of them, and I honestly believe they’re exploiting spirituality to get people to have sex with them. Even the ones who do have a genuine interest in magic usually don’t understand how to properly use sex within ritual. They also tend to be the sorts that believe that the only good spiritualities are the ones that either endorse their sexual habits or have no opinion about them. They’re often very offended by people who disagree with them about sex, or think that what they’re doing might be wrong or immoral.

Audiocast: How To Gain Respect in a Magical Group

June 3, 2011

download mp3

This is pretty much a test to see if I could do an audiocast, how long it would take, and if anyone would be interested in it. I still have no idea how to edit these things, and with this one I paused it halfway through a story, came back, had no idea what I was talking about, and never finished the story.

The audiocast is a little over 30 minutes long and deals with how to approach magical groups and gain a position of authority and respect. It was a print article I was planning on doing, so I just converted the idea over to me talking. I know my articles get a little long sometimes and not everyone wants to read them.

Let me know if you like this, and if you want to see more of these audiocast type things. Honestly they probably won’t get much better than this mess, ever, so don’t be thinking that this is just a bad one because it’s my first. If enough people like it I may do more later. Of course I’m still going to concentrate on print articles though.

The Frosts – Pedophiles in our Midst

February 28, 2011

Not too long ago I wrote an article about sexual predators in the community and how we need to deal with these people through intolerance, confrontation, and talking about the perpetrators. In that vain I’d like to talk about the two most famous and well-respected living sexual predators in the international community, Gavin and Yvonne Frost.

To start Gavin and Yvonne Frost have stated that they will sue anyone for libel who makes false accusations about them (and I’m assuming that this is in regards to their spiritual pedophilia). So for full disclosure I will say that I have no evidence that either of them have ever committed a sexual crime. If I did I would be calling the FBI right now. What I do have, and why I consider them pedophiles, is a book authored by both Gavin and Yvonne Frost entitled the Witch’s Bible, and particularly the initiation ritual within that book, first published in 1972, republished as the Good Witch’s Bible in 1976, and republished again in a revised edition in 1999. Through out this article I’ll also refer to another article written by the Frosts, Going Public, and to articles they’ve posted on their blog, which so far are the only statements I have found from the Frosts themselves dealing with the allegations of pedophilia. Apparently there was also an article published in an issue of Green Egg, but I don’t even know which issue so finding it seems impossible.

To start, if you don’t know who Gavin and Yvonne Frost are they’re some of the most popular living authors inside of Wicca. They founded the Church and School of Wicca in 1969, and claim that they are the founders of the entire Wiccan religion (this goes hand in hand with claims that Gardner and Saunders did not practice Wicca and the Wicca religion didn’t actually exist until the founding of the Church of Wicca in ’69). They have authored numerous books on Wicca and have offered various correspondence courses in Wicca since the 70s.

The Frost’s have had a lot of controversy surrounding them for different reasons. They claim that just about every independent researcher on the subject is incorrect about Gerald Gardner founding Wicca and Raymond Buckland bringing it into the United States, as both of these acts were supposedly done by the Frosts. They were also against homosexuality and allowing homosexuals into Wicca, a position they later recanted. None of this crap really matters to me though. What does concern me is the biggest piece of controversy they’ve had, that they wrote an initiation ritual published in 1972 in the Witch’s Bible (and from what I hear also included in their correspondence course at one time) which encouraged pedophilia and incest.

Since then the Frost’s have remained unapologetic about the ritual. Most of their arguments in defense of the chapter are deflections that never address the real issue, the molestation of a minor.

The Frosts also have lots of powerful friends in the community. Notably the late author Isaac Bonewitz and owner and editor of Green Egg magazine Oberon Zell. They also have many detractors, such as author Raymond Buckland, author Lady Sheba, and author A.J. Drew, the last of which started a campaign against the Frosts because of that chapter a few years back.

So what did the Frosts write that was so appalling? The ritual is a bit different depending on if you’re male or female. It does however use the term child extensively, and it states that a child is ready for this ritual when they begin puberty, or rather when “the physical attributes of reproduction are present”. Drew claims that this includes children as young as ten years old, since a minority of children will begin puberty at this age. Most of us started puberty around twelve or thirteen though, and this is actually the average age. Bonewitz however made the claim that traditionally the age would be around fifteen or sixteen. Whatever the age is, the ritual is appalling.

To begin, the child is given a sponsor, which is usually the most recent initiate into the group of an opposite gender, however a special sponsor may be chosen if there is too large a difference in age or physique.

Prior to the ritual, at the youngest age possible, boys will have their penis circumcised and girls meanwhile will have their hymen broken, either surgically or at home by their mothers.

The girls are given two wooden phalluses (dildos) of different sizes and instructions on how to use them in order to prepare their vaginas for sexual intercourse over a period of one month. It’s also stated that they should be helped by their father or sponsor if they have any pain or difficulty using them.

The boys meanwhile receive instructions from their sponsors on how to have sex and what will be expected of them during initiation.

Then the children undergo a three day fast eating only bread, honey, and water. During that time they are shown a demonstration of two people having sex.

The ritual begins robed with some talk after which the initiate, a child with zero tolerance that has been starved for three days, is given a full glass of mead to drink. The child then disrobes, there is some more talking, and then they dance naked with their sponsor. After that the child and their sponsor leave the circle area and have sex with each other.

Some actual quotations from this chapter:

“It is hoped by Wicca that the first full sexual experience will take place in the plesant surroundings of the coven and that the spiritual as well as the physical aspects of the experience will lead the child to a complete life.”

“The horror stories through which the Establishment attempts to downgrade this aspect of Wicca and the threatened terrible consequences of obeying natural instincts cause Wicca to more time and trouble in preparation for the sexual experience than of old.”

“At the last sabbat or eshbat before the initiation, the female novice is given the sacred phallus and the instruction sheet in Table 5 so that she can learn to insert and remove the phallus quickly and comfortably.   She is also taught how she should lie and what she should do during the initiation ceremony.”

“We would like you to be initiated at the next coven meeting, which will take place on …. This means that, excluding your menstruation time, you have three weeks to prepare your muscles for introitus.  Your father or your sponsor will help you if you have any difficulties or pain.”

In 1999 (over twenty years after the book was first published) the Frosts added an introduction to this chapter, that among other things said that people shouldn’t be initiated in this way until they were 18. The actual disclaimer read “This chapter describes some of the more controversial practices of the old path taught in the earliest days of the Church and School of Wicca. No formal initiation into a group that practices the great rite should be done before the candidate attains the age of eighteen.” Despite the fact that there is now a disclaimer, this ritual for children entering puberty was espoused by the Frosts in their book for over twenty years, and the disclaimer itself states that it was a practice taught in the early days of the Church of Wicca. The initiation ritual itself remains unchanged.

The introduction goes over some issues with later rituals in chapter four, but they eventually come back to the initiation ritual and their defense of it. In it they equate this initiation procedure to sexual education, and talk about how fathers can’t bathe their children without being accused of molestation.

You might think I’m making all of this up or quoting things out of context. After all, it seems unbelievable that people as well respected and famous in the community as the Frosts would ever have published something like this. So I would implore you to read the initiation ritual in The Good Witch’s Bible. Don’t buy their book, but the offending ritual, and the 1999 introduction, are available in their entirety at this website.

I’ve scoured the Internet looking for some sort of response from the Frosts that explains this chapter. I’ve been looking for somewhere where they say they were quoted out of context or the ritual was never meant to be performed. I haven’t found that. What I have found is a lot of deflection and a lot of attacks aimed at their accusers.

To start the Frosts claim that attacking them over this is a violation of the Wiccan Rede. That is laughable. I don’t personally like the Three-Fold Law and I don’t think it has any spiritual validity, but this is by far the most bullshit interpretation of it I’ve ever seen. It’s the idea that pointing out that someone has admitted to being a pedophile by writing a ritual for others to use which involves child molestation is somehow against the Wiccan belief to harm none. Fortunately I’m not obligated to follow any interpretation of the rede, but I’d say that raping children is a far greater violation than tattling on someone for raping children. The Frosts then go on to state that anyone who would attack them is not a real Wiccan or Pagan. I don’t believe that’s true, but if it were I think that most moral and sane people who aren’t child molesters would rather not be labeled a real Wiccan or Pagan if that involved allowing child molesters to do what they do.

In their article, going public, particularly the section Wiccan vs Wiccan the Frosts deflect and obscure the issue while discussing the controversy around the Witch’s Bible. The Frosts claim they teach sex magic, and that’s what people take issue with, and never bring up the fact that they encouraged the sexual initiation of children. They describe a ritual they did between consenting adults, and state that they couldn’t get away with such a ritual today because of the rumor mill and people trying to regulate consensual sex among adult Wiccans.

This is a common tactic employed by the Frosts. They claim they are being persecuted because people have hang-ups about sex magic, or are trying to regulate ritual sexual activity between consensual adults. They talk about how society has changed and parents can no longer bathe their children. This whole controversy has nothing to do with sex magic, skyclad practices, or any kind of sexual activity between consenting adults. There are a lot of people in the community doing this, and no one gets upset about them. In fact even though Wicca may have become a bit more conservative since the free love consequence free sexcapades of the 70s, it is still incredibly liberal in terms of the general acceptance of alternative sexual practices among members. What this issue has always been about is the ritual sexual initiation of children which they wrote in a published book which is still in print today.

The Frosts also state that this controversy has actually caused their book to be more popular and sell more copies. While researching this article I came across a blog post written for parents about common tactics used by pedophiles so they could educate their children. A pedophile responded by thanking the author for giving him new ideas to prey upon children with. The author remarked that this is a common tactic used by pedophiles, to state that people speaking out against them and educating the general public about them are somehow helping them to try to scare the person into silence. It seems as if the Frosts are using the exact same tactic here.

The Frosts also responded to these allegations in a series of blog posts. In the first post, Witch Wars and their Cost, they label AJ Drew’s campaign against them as a Witch War. They also claim that these attacks directed against them harm their ability to do good in the community. The Frosts have done good in the community in the past, I won’t argue that. But that doesn’t make them exempt from being punished for their horrific acts, nor should we allow people to do horrific things because they sometimes do good things. In fact I don’t want these people doing good acts in the magical community. I don’t want them to be a part of the magical community. I don’t even want them to be a part of American society. Unfortunately they so far haven’t been caught breaking any laws, so there’s nothing that can be done about that.

The Frosts end the blog post by saying that the people who really gain from this are the Christian right wing Bush-run theocracy. Crazy liberal bullshit, but I would have to counter that the thing that is letting the Christian right win are self proclaimed Wiccans who write rituals that involve child molestation, not responsible Pagans who speak out against them.

Their second article on the subject, Frost and Sex – Intacta, claims that the controversy is due to their encouragement of breaking the hymen surgically. It’s filled with historically inaccurate facts, but the main point here is the controversy has nothing to do with the hymen breaking, it has to do with the child molestation.

The final article they post deals with teenage sex education. Once again they try to label their initiation ritual as teenage sex education and an introduction to sex. I guess molesting children is sort of sex education, but they never explicitly mention that is the sort of sex education they’re talking about.

From there their information becomes insane. At one point they claim that 90% of teenage girls in this country are single moms. Think about that, 9 out of 10 teenage girls have children. That statistic is completely unbelievable to anyone who has ever gone outside. Keep in mind that teenage means 13-19, so even if all of the girls aged 14 and older have children, a large number of 13 year olds also have to have children to make this statistic work. Keep in mind too that married teenagers with children are part of the 10%, not the 90%, since they aren’t single moms. Seriously though it’s insane to suggest that even 50% of the 19 year olds in this country have children, because if you just talk to some people in that age range it becomes clear that isn’t true.

The Frosts then go on to discuss pregnancy parties where boys and girls get together in an orgy to do all the sex they can stand so the girls can get pregnant and have no idea who the father is. This is an urban myth. This is not happening. There are very few teenage girls out there who want to get pregnant. There’s definitely not enough to support this kind of party in one single location, let alone an epidemic of these parties sweeping the nation. Parties like this (and other sexual activities like rainbow parties) are common urban myths, but there’s never been any proof that they actually happen. For the most part kids are kids and although they may sometimes have sex they are not that sexually active on their own. They tend to be more conservative, explorative, shy, and afraid than adults. Orgies are largely the domain of old and unattractive people, and for most sexually active teens the scariest thing in the world is ending up with a baby.

All of this is a scare tactic though designed to make us think society will fall apart unless we embrace a more open method of sexual education and permissiveness for our children like the sex education taught by the Frosts which they have received so much controversy for. What is never explicitly stated though is that the method they endorse involves child molestation. It involves a father teaching his young daughter by using a dildo on her. It involves the child being shown live sex acts. And it involves the child being intoxicated and then expected to fornicate with another child in a ritual setting.

Some people argue that going after the Frosts like this is bad for the community. After all we have been accused of the ritual abuse of children, and coming out and saying that two of the most revered members of the community are ritual child abusers sort of makes all of the Christian fanatics right.

I’d argue that isn’t the case. Damage has definitely been done to the magical community here in this regard, but that damage was perpetrated by the Frosts when they wrote a ritual that involved the ritual abuse of children. However at this point what is damaging us is continuing to respect these people, allowing them to hold a position within the community, and trying to hide what they’ve done.

Here’s an interesting fact. Among Catholic priests there is a lower percentage of pedophiles than in the general population. Your child is far safer from sexual abuse being left alone with a Catholic priest you know than with a complete stranger. There are pedophiles everywhere and in every religion, and from time to time they’re going to show up in the magical and Pagan communities. The problem with the Catholic Church was not that their religion somehow caused their religious leaders to become pedophiles. The problem was that once the pedophiles were identified, the Church tried to hide it, and in doing so supported and encouraged the behavior.

Every time a Christian fanatic wants to call us all child molesters, the Frosts have given them a book they can point to. A book written by a pair that claim to be the founders of Wicca, who are regarded by many as elders, who are respected in the community, and who are positioning themselves in a place of power and authority within the national and international communities.

What we need to do is say that these people are sick and deranged fucks who have appropriated aspects of our spirituality and its name and perverted it, that we do not approve of these people, we do not respect them or their teachings, and we don’t want them as part of our community.

Some others have also claimed that although the Frosts published the ritual they do not know of it ever having been practiced, that no one has ever been hurt by it, and that all posts like this do is smear the good name of two respected Wiccan elders. I’d counter that just writing the ritual hurts all of us in the community, but there actually is an instance of rape within a Frost chartered church.

There’s a fellow named John Todd who went back and forth between being involved in various alternative religions and working for Jack Chic coming out against those same religions before finally being imprisoned for rape and child molestation. He’s clearly a very sick and deluded individual. In the 1970s, before all of the raping and in between periods of working with Chic, he opened an occult bookstore and got a charter for his group from the Frosts’ Church of Wicca.  An underage girl in that coven reported to police that she was forced to attend rituals skyclad and engage in oral sex with Todd. Gavin Frost and Bonewitz supposedly investigated the incident and revoked the Church’s charter after discovering numerous instances of underage sex and drugs. This is the proper thing to do in a situation like this, but it should be noted that the Frosts only took action after the activities had been reported to police and an official investigation was being done by law enforcement.

It’s important to note too that although Todd had a history of psychological issues prior to starting that coven (which was why he was discharged from the military), he was not known to have raped or molested anyone prior to working with the Frosts’ teachings and starting a group with their charter. Now we have a psychologically unstable and delusional person who has not only been allowed a position of leadership in their group but has also been handed an initiation ritual that involves child molestation. Surprise, surprise, he ends up raping young girls. So yes, some people have definitely been hurt, the members of John Todd’s coven.

And just because no one else has ever been caught it doesn’t mean that this initiation ritual has never been used by any other group. Not only was this presented as an initiation ritual for members of the Church and School of Wicca, which has many members, but it was also printed in a book which could be bought by non-initiates who wanted to learn and practice Wicca.  It’s hard to believe that Todd is the only instance where this happened. In fact there have been claims of this ritual occurring outside of Todd’s group, although I haven’t found any evidence besides hearsay.

So what can be done about the Frosts? When Mr Drew tried to expose the Frosts years ago he went about it in a very extremist fashion, and made a lot of enemies because of it. His attacks on innocent third parties in the matter for not fully supporting him, burning effigies of the Frosts, and his own issues with certain members of the community gave the Frosts, and their supporters, the very fuel they needed to deflect the issue and turn the situation into an attack against Mr Drew, and by proxy anyone who came out against them as mindless supporters of Mr Drew. He managed to make the community a little bit more aware of the Frosts, but did almost as much to hurt his cause as help it.

What we need to do is simply not tolerate these people and speak out against them. This means not supporting them financially, not supporting companies that support them, and speaking out against them. To do this we can:

1. Obviously don’t buy any book written by Gaven and Yvonne Frost and don’t buy correspondence classes from their School of Wicca or buy any books published by their publishing label Godolphin Books.

2. If you notice their book in your local occult bookstore, ask to speak with the owner or manager and inform them about Chapter IV of the Witch’s Bible and give them the relevant information they need to look it up. Just because they own an occult bookstore doesn’t mean they’re all knowing and have read everything they sell. Also tell them that if they continue to carry books written by the Frosts you’ll have to take your business elsewhere, and you’ll suggest to your friends that they do the same. Magical communities are very small and brick and mortar bookstores operate with low profit margins, so even a boycott by a small fraction of the local community can bankrupt these small stores.

3. If you notice their books in a local chain store, like Borders, ask to speak with the manager and inform them that the Frosts have published pedophiliac literature in the past (if they actually carry the Good Witch’s Bible, have the manager read some of the offending passages). More than likely they’ll claim they have no control over ordering, so ask for the number of someone who does. You may get bounced around a lot, but that’s good. The more employees you bring this up to the better. One complaining customer may not make a difference, so the more waves each of us can make in these companies the better our chances of getting these authors removed from store shelves. Be sure to mention your spiritual path and the fact that you’re a customer of their occult/metaphysical section. Also mention the fact that if they continue to carry these titles, you will be boycotting them and suggest to your friends that they do the same.

4. Write to the publishers of their books and tell them that you’re going to boycott all books published by them if they continue to publish titles by the Frosts. Right now the Frosts are published by their own label Godolphin Books, which is pointless to write to, just boycott it, Weiser Books, and Reward Books, which I can’t find any online information about.

5. If you notice an online retailer you use, like Azure Green, is carrying their books, write to them and inform them of the material in chapter IV of the Good Witch’s Bible and tell them that you’ll take your business elsewhere if they continue to carry this book.

6. Do not hire or allow the Frosts to speak at any event you have control over. Also don’t attend any events that they are appearing at. If you notice they will be speaking at an event near you or one that you’d like to go to, contact the event organizers and inform them that you will not be attending because of the Frosts and tell them you’ll be recommending your friends do the same.

7. Talk about the Frosts and Chapter IV with your friends. Talk about it at any groups you attend in your local community. If you have a website or blog, write a post about the Frosts and chapter IV of the Witch’s Bible. Try to convince others not to support the Frosts and to join you in your efforts against them.

8. Remember to always be polite when dealing with people. Use words such as please and thank you and speak with a nice tone, even when someone disagrees with you or refuses to comply. Don’t expect stores and publishers to stop supporting these authors just because you complained. It’s only once a lot of people complain that these companies will take notice. And if you get angry with them, they’ll ignore you. If you’re nice they may not instantly do what you want, but they’ll make a note that someone was upset.

9. If someone does try to argue with you and defend the Frosts, simply point out chapter IV of the Witch’s Bible. Show them exactly what it says. The ritual itself is indefensible and the Frosts openly claim they wrote it. Don’t be dragged down into name-calling, making personal attacks against Frost supporters, or advocating physical or magical attacks against the Frosts. That is the sort of thing Mr Drew did, and it ultimately hurt his cause.

Sex, Nudity, Magick, and Community Participation.

January 13, 2011

One of the more appalling aspects of the community, for me anyways, are people getting taken advantage of sexually. And it’s not that I don’t care or think its not as bad when people are taken advantage of another way, like say financially. It’s that people getting taken advantage of sexually, at least from what I’ve seen, is a much bigger problem in the community, partly because the behavior has become somewhat acceptable in the community.

I’m a very strong proponent of both sex magick and skyclad practice. Sex magick is a valid form of magical practice. It can yield results and their are a lot of unique aspects to it and interesting things to try. Inside of the right environment and with the right partners it can be a very spiritually rewarding experience. Plus I really like both sex and magick. In my eyes the fellow who first put the two together is a genius of the same caliber as the guy who thought to put a hamburger patty inside of two Krispy Kreme donuts.

As for skyclad practice, I’ve practiced skyclad in the past and actually prefer skyclad practice. I think it’s a spiritually beneficial practice and the positive aspects far outweigh the negative ones. I also think that there may be other non-spiritual advantages for at least some people, such as increased self-esteem and a more positive body image. Plus I think whatever it is you happen to be doing, you’d probably enjoy doing it more if you were naked.

Good luck putting together a skyclad group though (unless you hope to include only gay men or straight women). It’s even getting hard to have a serious discussion about sex magic in a group. And the big reason why we can’t have these things, why people aren’t willing to participate or at least experiment and try these things, is because we allow sexual predation in the community.

Most women are at least a little bit cautious about putting themselves into situations where they might be raped in some way. Most straight men won’t show up to a skyclad ritual unless there are at least a few women, which usually has more to do with either a fear of being tricked into showing up to a gay orgy or a fear of being labeled gay because they attended the event. And there are valid reasons for both men and women to be cautious of being raped or otherwise sexually used by both men and women, since sexual predators can be either gender and of any of any sexual orientation.

And attending an event where you and everyone else is expected to be naked isn’t really the safest situation not to get raped in. The only people who will attend those types of events (without some kind of manipulation at least) are people who feel relatively safe within the group, or people who would actually like to have sex with everyone present, men and women.

With a large mixed gender group of a dozen or more people, most people under normal circumstances would feel safe. In a group that large, you would expect that if one person grabbed you and tried to take you somewhere, or tried to rape you right in front of everyone, or even tried to take advantage of you, that the rest of the group would be completely appalled by their behavior. Not only would they defend you against the individual, but the individual would be ostracized from the group, and the group would cooperate with police which would probably result in the person being punished and ending up in prison.

That’s the case with a normal group. Not with a magical group. Go look at some magical groups within your local community. Within a lot of these groups, there is sexual predation happening, and the other group members accept this. Within the larger community there is also sexual predation happening which individual practitioners also accept. This may not be outright rape, but it’s still predation and it’s still wrong. The fact that this happens doesn’t inspire people to believe that if an outright rape did happen that the other participants would help them at all. They might allow it to happen, and even help to cover up the fact that it did happen. Even if that isn’t the case, it’s implied by the fact that they allow lesser offenses to happen.

Think about it, how many group leaders, teachers, and supposed community elders are requiring sex from certain people for initiation or teaching or other services? How many people are using spiritual arguments to convince people into sleeping with them that normally wouldn’t? How many people are playfully groping or touching others in ways that make them feel uncomfortable? And how much disgust do we see because of these behaviors?

Seriously I can’t remember the last time someone in the community, man or woman, talked about this stuff and was really upset that it was happening to someone else. Meanwhile I can’t even begin to count the amount of times people have jokingly referred to an older group leader’s habit of sexual initiations with teenage girls while at the same time having the utmost reverence and respect for him (and yes there was a specific guy like this in my local community to which I’m referring, who is still very well respected, but fortunately dead now).

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that many people look at alternative (ie non-Christian) spiritualities as doing away with a lot of oppressions, one of the big ones being sexual oppressions. Under our new spiritual beliefs sex is no longer typically a bad thing. Premarital sex is okay. Casual sex is okay. Homosexual sex is okay. Alternate sexual practices are okay. We come to the conclusion that the rules against sex inherent to Christianity and other religions were created for no other reason but to repress us and limit our pleasure, and not put into place because of some valid (at least at the time) concerns about certain sexual practices. Ultimately a lot of us have come to the conclusion that any kind of consensual sex, at least in regards to legal adults, is okay or even righteous and beautiful and shouldn’t be judged.

But that is simply not the case. Sex is not always an amoral act. Sex can be a very hurtful and destructive act, and engaging in consensual sex can be wrong.

There are of course little wrongs and big wrongs. People make mistakes within romantic relationships and other people get hurt, and sex is part of that. We’d all have to remain celibate and never so much as entertain the idea of dating anyone ever if we want to be safe from screwing up and risk hurting other people. At the same time I think most sexually active people can think of a time when they shouldn’t have slept with someone or did some other sexual act with them because it hurt someone they cared about.

The problem is the big wrongs. These are things any moral person knows is wrong before they do it, where they know they’re going to hurt the other person, and they do it anyways because they don’t care. When a person in their forties is having sex with an eighteen year old, there is something very wrong with that sexual relationship. We know the eighteen year old is being manipulated and taken advantage of.

Sexual harassment is wrong. It’s not wrong to express attraction or sexuality and people do sometimes get their signals crossed and maybe overstep a boundary and do something that is unwelcomed. However when a person makes it clear that certain advances or acts are unwelcomed and the second person continues to do them anyways, or when a person is put into a situation where they’re intimidated or otherwise led into believing that it would be unwise for them to express their discomfort this is harassment, and it’s wrong.

Basically any time that you get someone to have sex with you for any reason other then the fact that they like you, find you attractive, and want to have sex with you it’s wrong. When someone uses spirituality or spiritual arguments to have sex with someone else, that is wrong. In my eyes that’s one of the worst things you can do spiritually, because you’re trading your spirituality to almost rape someone.

We all know this argument. It’s used by lots of different predators. They use it to convince straight people to experiment and have homosexual sex. They use it to convince young people to have sex with old people. They use it to convince attractive people to have sex with overweight withered old hags. They use it to convince people to be polyamorous. They use it to convince people to engage in deviant sexual acts they normally would never want to try.

The arguments usually come in the forms of moving beyond your boundaries and doing things you normally wouldn’t do, or things that may outright disgust you, because this will give you greater magical power. I’ve also seen arguments along the lines of you should be willing to have sex with anybody because it will open up your options in regards to things like having sex with a demon possessed person during a ritual.

It’s one thing if a person makes the decision on their own that they would like to try new sexual acts they normally wouldn’t because they believe this may improve their spiritual self and then they go and seek out those acts. It’s another thing for a person to try to convince another of this for the sole purpose of having sex with them (under no circumstances should you ever take advice about who you should have sex with from someone who wants to have sex with you, unless they’re your spouse).

It’s also wrong for someone to withhold spiritual training, teaching or initiation from someone unless they have sex with them. It’s also wrong to try to convince someone that the only way to follow their spiritual path, reach their true potential, or achieve true initiation is through sex or a sexual act.

Most of the people in the community are not sexual predators. Most of us know these acts are wrong and would never do them or participate in them. The problem is that the vast majority of the community tolerates this behavior, or at best remains silent about it. And we shouldn’t do that, if not because it’s wrong then because we all end up labeled as sexual predators and we are all ultimately punished when we are no longer allowed to do or even talk about anything spiritually that may involve nudity or sex because no one will show up to our group or function because of it.

What we need to do is very simple. If we don’t tolerate this behavior, it will get better. If someone in your group, even a leader, is taking sexual advantage of people speak out against them. Talk to other members of the group, speak with their intended victims and offer your advice, and confront the person. And if the group does not kick the person out and make it clear that there behavior won’t be tolerated, leave and take as many members as you can with you.

If you know that the local shop owner or someone on their staff is taking sexual advantage of people, stop shopping there and inform as many customers as you can.

If you know someone is a sexual predator, don’t associate with them. Don’t allow them into your group. Don’t allow them at your functions. Make it very clear that you are not going to associate with them, and that you look disfavorably on anyone who does.

When people make light of and are generally accepting of a situation involving sexual predation, confront them about it. Make a scene and make them ashamed of the way they’re acting. Make it clear that they are doing something wrong by accepting this behavior, even if they aren’t the perpetrator, and that people in the community like yourself find this unacceptable.

And above all, talk about these things. With sexual predation or any other type of manipulation or fraud in the community, the thing that allows these people to continue to get away with this stuff is that people in the community don’t talk. The largest communities out there are still fairly small, small enough that word of mouth can move through them very fast. If you know someone is a sexual predator or if you know a group allows sexual predation, tell everyone you know. Ruin their reputation. I don’t understand it with all of the drama and bullshit and rumors floating around the community, but when it’s something important like a high priest/ess that rapes new initiates, no one ever wants to gossip about it.

We need to cut off membership to the groups that support this behavior. We need to stop shopping at stores that support this kind of behavior. And we need to ostracize and make it clear that no respectable person in the community will associate with or help people that are sexual predators. When we do this the worst of the predators will be kicked out of the community, and the rest will at least be restrained out of a fear that their actions will have very serious consequences.

BTW I apologize for the series of community rants that has recentally overtaken my blog. Next up I promise something that specifically deals with practical magic. Expect either a spell or ritual of some sort or an article on the properties of common herbs.

Charmed, Harry Potter, Fluffy Bunnies, Laziness, Seriousness, & Power: Everything That Is Wrong With the Community.

November 17, 2010

Because I make good blog posts all year, I’m allowed one post a year where I write whatever I feel like so long as it is technically on-topic. It can be stupid, cryptic, or just me bitching. I didn’t make a post like this last year. This is my post for this year.

I don’t like the term fluffy bunny. I’ve been called a fluffy bunny before. In fact, I’ve been called a fluffy bunny and accused of practicing dark magicks which are too dangerous to be played around with in the same sentence. So am I a dark evil LHPer or am I a fluffy bunny? I don’t care so much, I just want to know who I’m supposed to hang out with during the next Pagan Pride event.

I guess it doesn’t bother me as much as it could because I’m not Wiccan. The term is entirely Wiccan. It is almost always used by Wiccans to describe other Wiccans in a negative way. To me that implies that it’s a term that no one should ever use, ever. From my experience, the term fluffy bunny means, “Someone who doesn’t practice the exact same religion as me,” or “Someone who approaches spirituality differently than I do.”

Those of us in the magical community, as a group, have been called by outsiders evil, immoral, incompassionate, criminal, child molesters, rapists, serial killers, animal abusers, and just about every other horrible name imaginable. The people who do that are mean assholes. And yet some members of the community have found it necessary to create an entirely new name to call people in the community. They’re also mean assholes.

If you use the term fluffy bunny, there’s no difference between yourself and some Christian extremist who preaches against Wiccans. You’re calling someone a name and being mean to them because they happen to have different spiritual views than yourself. The fact that you happen to belong to a minority faith and experience a good deal of bigotry because of it doesn’t excuse the behavior. In fact it makes it worse that you choose to participate in it.

Fluffy bunnies leads right into a common complaint in the magical community about people who have derived their spiritual beliefs from Charmed, or Harry Potter, or the Craft, or any other media portrayal of magic. When people talk about all those people who think magic works like Charmed, my response is, “So?”. I honestly don’t understand what the problem is or why these people care.

First off if someone happens to be turned on to magic and exploring their spirituality because of Charmed or the Craft there’s nothing wrong with that. If that’s where someone’s coming from, that’s their spiritual path. It’s not the same as my path, but we’re different people, and my own path is fairly atypical anyways. The important thing is that the person had something open their eyes to a magical universe and set them on their current path. All of us should be proud of how we came upon our magical path and people shouldn’t be making others feel ashamed of how they came about their spirituality, even if it was derived from Charmed. Well, I mean they shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed for any reason besides the fact that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is superior in every way and yet they chose to watch the crappy urban fantasy show.

From what I gather though most people don’t have too much of a problem with people who simply got turned on to magic from some media portrayal. What most people are upset about are these people who think that Charmed or whatever is how magic really operates, and so they create some sort of spiritual practice mimicking what they see on the show. This is the real problem people have. Once again though I don’t see a problem here.

There are two outcomes to this situation. The first is, absolutely nothing happens and they waste their time because Charmed is fiction and none of it is real. I don’t see anything wrong with this scenario. They didn’t waste my time and if that’s how they enjoy spending their free time and it makes them happy, then they should probably keep doing that. The second outcome is that, for whatever reason, they actually achieve success, in which case maybe we all should be following the gospel of Charmed.

Now some people say that these Charmed people make all of Wicca or Paganism or the Magic Community out to be a joke and no one will ever take us seriously because of them. That isn’t happening. No one actually believes this. The magic community hasn’t had any respectability since sometime in the 1970s. We were a huge joke before most of these people were even born. I’ll admit these people aren’t doing anything to help the situation, but at this point they really can’t do any more harm.

Bottom line what’s happening is certain people in the community are telling other people in the community how they can or can’t practice their spirituality. That’s strange because people in the community have been told their entire life by family, neighbors, schools, churches, politicians, judges, employers, and coworkers how they can or can’t practice their spirituality. And none of us like it when it happens to us. When we see it happening to someone else, most of us get pissed off and want to fight it. We don’t put up with judges telling parents their children can’t participate in their religion. We don’t put up with politicians treating us like a second tier religion. We don’t even put up with Pagan convicts not getting the same religious priveleges as Christian convicts.

Yet certain people certain people in the community think it’s okay to attack other people in the community in the exact same way. They’re vocal that these people shouldn’t be practicing what they’re practicing. That their spirituality is wrong. And it’s wrong because it’s different and it’s in opposition to what someone else believes in.

I know some people are upset because these Charmed Wiccans come to them wanting to be taught or to join their coven or whatever. Here’s the thing about someone wanting to be taught by you. You have all of the leverage in that situation. You can say no and there is really nothing they can do about it. They can demand you teach them, they can argue that you’re obligated to teach them, they can really say any number of things. But ultimately you don’t have to teach them. Problem solved. You should be flattered people want to be taught by you. I don’t understand why this is an issue.

Sometimes the real problem is that these are the only kinds of people that want to be taught by you or join your coven or whatever. I’ve seen people outright admit that this is what the real problem is. At that point though you really need to look at yourself. Maybe there’s something you need to change about yourself or your group to attract a higher quality person. Maybe your standards are just too high. Maybe this is the universe telling you that you just aren’t ready to be a teacher or a coven leader yet. But the fact that you cannot recruit the students or members you want has nothing to do with your prospects and what they practice. It is entirely a reflection on yourself and that is where the problem lies.

And I do think a lot of this is really peer pressure. When a person enters a new group or first enters the community, they’re usually exposed to a group of people who talk about fluffy bunnies and how stupid they are and how they believe Charmed is how magic really works. They bitch about them and how they’re ruining the community and make jokes at their expense. This group of people is usually being led by the older members, and often times the senior members, of the group, and usually the majority of the group will go along with them. A lot people I think just join in with the bitching and the joke either to be accepted and not looked down upon by these people, or at least not to alienate the group and its senior members.

These people are sort of like bullies in school. They’re the cool clique who are picking on the kids who are different or beneath them, and most of the school is going to go along with them instead of becoming an outcast themselves. When your a teenager, or younger, this kind of behavior might be acceptable because at least then you had the excuse that you were young and stupid and didn’t know any better. But as adults, going along with people who act like that and submitting to the group mentality is not acceptable behavior. In fact I would say that as an adult when you see people acting like that and bullying other people you have a moral obligation to confront them, to call them out, to expose them for what they are, and stand up for their victims who may not be strong enough to stand up for themselves. If you’re not going to do that for whatever reason you at least have a moral obligation not to participate in and encourage their behavior.

Another thing I see a lot of people mad about is laziness. They talk about how a lot of people in the community want power or status or training or information or to join a group or whatever else, but these people don’t want to do the hard work that’s needed to get these things. These people want to take shortcuts and have things handed to them.

As a magician I can’t understand how any magician, regardless of your exact spiritual beliefs and practices, can be upset at someone for being lazy and not wanting to do the work. They should be happy that they’ve found such a remarkably advanced student. Whether you’re a Ceremonial Magician, Pagan, Voodoo Practitioner, New Ager, or whatever, magic is all about taking shortcuts and getting things the easy way instead of doing the actual work.

Look at the medieval magical goal of turning lead into gold. The whole idea here is whatever process you’re going to have to go through to turn that lead into gold, it’s going to be easier than finding gold in the ground and mining it. Even with a modern prosperity spell the idea is that casting the spell is going to be easier than going out and earning the money. Maybe you are going to work to earn the money at the same time, but you’re still casting the prosperity spell with the hope that it will make earning the money easier. You wouldn’t knowingly cast a spell that would make it harder to earn that money. And if casting the spell was more difficult than going out and getting a second job to earn the money, I doubt you’d be casting it then either.

Even if you believe magic is all about spirituality, it’s still a shortcut. You could progress spiritually without magic. You’d still go through your life having your life lessons. You’d learn, you’d grow, and you’d die better off than you started. When you use magic though what you’re doing is over-analyzing things and using your knowledge of metaphysical laws to create phenomena and situations that wouldn’t normally occur, all with the intent of accelerating the rate of your spiritual progression. It’s a shortcut and you’re cheating.

So what we’ve actually done is create numerous religions and groups all based in the idea of figuring out ways to not do the work and still get the reward. And now the people in these religions and groups are going to be upset that new people who are attracted to and want to join these groups and religions don’t want to do the work. When you really think about it, it blows your mind.

And I’ve set this before, so now I’m repeating myself, but if magic is hard work for you, you’re doing something wrong. It’s not supposed to be hard work. Magic isn’t hard work for me. I work hard when I go to work. They pay me money for that. I’m rewarded for my efforts. I work for money so I can do magic, so it damn well better be enjoyable.

Some people argue that magic works the same way. You put in the time now and you do the work and somewhere down the road you’ll get rewarded. Years in the future when you’re an all powerful magician that will be your reward.

That’s bullshit. As Koopa said, “The journey is the destination.” There is no reward down the road. Whatever you’re getting out of practicing your spirituality and doing magic, that’s your reward. That’s all you’re ever going to get. So if you’re not getting something that makes it worth doing right now, don’t expect something better later on.

I hate people who use the word work when they talk about magic. I hate people who bitch about how hard and difficult the magical path is. If it’s really hard and difficult and work for you, do something fun instead like play video games or watch movies.

I think magic is really fun. I think most people who get into it will enjoy themselves and have fun with it if they approach it correctly. Memorizing crap and reading boring British authors and casting a banishing ritual for the umpteenth time and walking in a circle singing songs about being in a circle in a circle and having some group leader give you tests you have to pass like your in tenth grade is boring. That isn’t fun. But things like astral projection and evoking demons and reading grimoires out loud to see what happens and sex magic are like going to adult Disneyland (it’s an amusement park for adults, but with sex magic!). So if you’re doing the stuff from column B instead of column A, you’re going to have fun. If you’re doing all that stuff in column A though, yea it’s probably going to suck. And then you’re going to wonder why no one else wants to do the work to learn magic.

I really only have two problems with these hard work people. First is when they get all full of themselves. “I’ve done all this great magical work, I’ve put in my time, blah, blah, blah.” This is usually followed by claims of power and then demanding that other people listen to and respect them. Those sorts of people just irk me. Even more so because they usually don’t have the kind of knowledge and power they claim and they aren’t deserving of any respect.

The other problem I have is these sorts of people try to ruin other people’s fun. More importantly, my fun. I wouldn’t have a problem with these people if they just kept to themselves and their hard work, because it doesn’t involve me. I wouldn’t even know about these people if that’s what they did. There is no way in hell I would seek that out. These people are super vocal though. They want to ruin everyone’s fun and make everyone work. And the reason they do this is because they want the respect of other people. They want admiration from others for having done this work and they want to be regraded as great and powerful members of the magical community. And they don’t like idea of someone exceeding them, or even reaching their level, without first doing the work they had to do to get to where they are.

The last thing I want to talk about is seriousness. A lot of people have been complaining about this lately. People aren’t taking their spirituality seriously. They don’t take these religions, magical practices, or training seriously. I see it complained about in just about every spirituality and belief system sometimes. Lately I’ve seen a lot of Wiccans complaining about it, so I’m going to pick on them for a minute.

Now I’ve read the Farrars, Cunningham, Buckland, and I’ve also been privileged with some of the supposedly secret materials that some trads have which are reserved for high ranking oath bound members. In none of this literature have I found anything that says you have to take this shit seriously. Wicca is varied and at times eclectic, so there are a lot of different branches and beliefs and systems. But I can’t find any information from any branch of Wicca that says you have to take this stuff seriously.

The one Pagan source I can find that talks about being serious about your spirituality is Bonewitz. And what does Bonewitz say? He says if you’re taking things really seriously, that’s a bad thing. He says their should be some sort of levity and humor in your group’s approach to spirituality. If that isn’t there, that’s one of his signs that what you’re joining is a cult.

And this is true of just about all of these religions and groups that make up the magical community. If you read the literature, no where does it ever say you have to be serious about this stuff. In fact quite a few different systems say you shouldn’t take it all that seriously.

This idea of taking spirituality seriously is derived from Christianity. It’s another example of people who used to be Christian trying to get away from that religion and embrace something new inside of the magical community, and yet they insist on imposing the ideologies and concepts of their past religion on their new spiritual belief system.

Even in Christianity it’s a concept a lot of Christians and churches embrace, but it isn’t clearly spelled out in the bible. There are a few passages where if you really read between the lines and pick up on the subtext and you also assume that certain things are implied and interpret everything in a very particular way you could come to the conclusion that you’re supposed to take spirituality seriously. But it’s never explicitly stated. There isn’t some guy in the bible who makes fun of the size of God’s penis and then gets struck down by lightening.

All of the things I’ve bitched about have something in common. They are all essentially about people who are telling other people how they should practice their spirituality, how they should practice magic, and how they should practice their religion. The problem is that there are people in the community who have taken it upon themselves to tell other people how to be spiritual. It comes down to people trying to attain power over other people.

And magic is largely about power. The people trying to attain this power are usually people who have not been able to attain large amounts of power spiritually. After all if they were all powerful magicians, why would they need to steal other people’s power, especially something as petty as stealing someone’s ability to choose their spiritual path?

Meanwhile the people who allow themselves to be victimized, who let these people tell them how they can and can’t practice their spirituality, who let these people make them feel ashamed of what they practice, or the people who give in to peer pressure and join in attacking people who may be different are not on the road to becoming powerful magicians and adepts. Magic is largely about power, and if you’re giving away your power, especially to assholes like that, where do you think that’s going to get you? Part of being an adept is coming to the realization that you have power over yourself and you get to do whatever you want; no one gets to tell you what you can and can’t do.

Obsession and BS

September 30, 2010

Obsession is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the magical community. It’s used a lot by Ceremonial Magicians and Pagans, and is often times the reason for not working with spirits or using extreme caution when doing so. So it’s surprising that the theory of Obsession was developed completely outside of the Ceremonial and Pagan communities.

Obsession has its origins in Spiritism. If you didn’t know, Spiritism is a fairly modern belief system developed in France that is very similar to the American and British developed Spiritualism. Spiritualism predates Spiritism, but not by much, and the two belief systems have a huge cross-influence. So much so that there are only a few minor distinguishing differences between them.

Although cross-influences are common throughout the metaphysical community, the fact that obsession has gained such high regard in Western ritual magic systems is, at the very least, confusing. The idea of obsession runs counter to the practices of the founders of modern Ceremonial Magic who were active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it runs counter to the practices of the Pagan founders who were active in the 50s and 60s, and it runs counter to the practices of the Medieval European magicians that these systems are largely based in.

There’s also a lot of confusion about what the definition of obsession is. Very few magicians can give you a clear definition that would help determine the difference between an obsessed individual and your normal practicing magician. However when the term first appeared in Spiritism, it was adequately defined.

Obsession simply means that your actions or personality have to some extent been influenced by a spirit. On the surface this may seem like a bad thing, but the definition is actually overly broad, and note that nowhere does it mention manipulation or control.

If, for instance, a spirit came to you and told you that in the next week you would be in a horrible car accident, and because of that warning you started wearing a seatbelt, you suffer from obsession. If a spirit comes to you and tells you there’s a great sushi restaurant down the street that you didn’t know about, and you go to eat there, you suffer from obsession. In both instances your actions have been influenced by a spirit.

The idea of obsession was developed by early Spiritists because they saw it as a real danger. A good deal of Spiritists and Spiritualists are not magicians themselves, but use magicians, in there case mediums, to facilitate their magic. The average adherent lacks the methods of protection and spiritual attack which are available to a person with a background in ritual magic. It’s also less likely that the average adherent will have taken time to develop skills in self-awareness, mental focus, and energy manipulation, all of which help prevent spiritual manipulation.

Meanwhile Western ritual magicians have always worked with spirits. We constantly communicate with spirits for information, we summon them forth, we revere and worship them, we fight with them, and we use them to achieve our goals. We have always surrounded ourselves with the spirits and allowed them access to our lives. And yes, you can practice a form of Ceremonial Magic or Paganism that doesn’t directly utilize spirits, but even so the act of doing magic will draw spirits towards you, so eventually you’ll get to a point in your practice where you have to deal with them.

As you can see, the idea of obsession as it was originally defined when viewed through the perspective of a ritual magician is absurd. Some people do hold true to this definition though. By associating with, talking to, and working with spirits they believe a person risks seriously harming themselves through obsession.

Because they don’t know the true definition of the term or its origins, many ritual magicians try to determine what the term actually means, which leads to all sorts of fanciful ideas. It doesn’t help that besides the Spiritist definition, there has never been a clear definition of what obsession is. All that is ever given are aspects of what obsession is. It involves working with spirits and becoming obsessed with them.

An idea has emerged that working with a particular spirit or spirits in general causes one to eventually become obsessed. This has nothing to do with the nature or type of spirit being worked with, it is simply a byproduct of working with spirits. There is also never a clear indication in the definition of when or under what circumstances a magician will cease to work with spirits in a healthy and productive way and become obsessed. There is never even much of an explanation as to why this would occur. It seems to be nothing more than a fanciful idea without any reason or evidence attached to it.

Certain spirits can be manipulative in their nature. There are too many stories to deny that this happens. Manipulation can be something as simple as a lie or as mystical as a thought suggestion or even outright possession. Whether or not a person is manipulated, and how badly they are manipulated, is going to be dependent both on the nature and power of the spirit and on the magician. It’s a danger, it happens. However it won’t inevitably happen just because someone works with spirits.

Sometimes we also see personality changes. These can be a lot harder to pinpoint as spiritual manipulation though. Anyone who is actively exploring their spirituality, such as through seances and evocations, would be experiencing personal growth, and this in turn can lead to changes in their personality. Connecting into spirits and becoming possessed by them can also modify a person’s personality, sometimes permanently. Often times magicians willingly allow spirits to do this to them in order to help them grow spiritually. Some spirits may also do this with the best of intentions, wanting to help the magician, but without permission. In either case there are a lot of pros and cons that must be weighed before we can even determine if what happened was a good thing or a bad thing.

These personality changes are also not as drastic as many like to believe. Often times spirits just work to nudge a person into a particular direction they were already swaying towards, or pull some aspect of their personality to the surface that they usually repress, or simply offer them a temptation that makes them do something they wouldn’t have done for free.

Lastly some people do have obsessive problems with magic in general. Most of us who have profound and surreal spiritual experiences will go through a phase where we give up on reality and immerse ourselves in our spiritual life. For most of us though that is just a phase, and we eventually come to some realizations and ultimately find a balance between the spiritual and mundane aspects of our life. There is a small number of people who never even try to achieve that balance, and instead just immerse themselves more and more into the spiritual aspect of their life as the rest of their life is left to deteriorate.

Although spirit contact may be involved, this has nothing to do with spirits. It has to do with practicing magic. Many of the people who fall into this trap have serious mental problems to begin with, everything from severe depression to schizophrenia, and instead of helping with their mental issues their spiritual path just exasperates them.

We also have to note that when we practice magic and allow spirits into our lives, they’re going to effect us in some way. If you joined some new club next week, started hanging out with the people in the club, making friends, seeing them all the time, it would have some sort of effect on your life. Your world views would change a bit. You might find yourself trying new activities. You would have new people in your life who would be calling you up because they need rides to the airport or someone to help them move. When you work with spirits you’re letting something new into your life, and your life is going to change because of it, and yes sometimes they’re going to do things to your life, and it won’t always be pleasant things.

So yes there are dangers when working with spirits. They aren’t really as big or common as the idea of obsession makes them out to be. It’s really similar to the dangers you experience whenever you work with magic. And the best defense is actually to practice magic. The more practical experience you have working with magic and dealing with spirits, and the more you grow spiritually, the stronger you will be and the less dangerous magic will be. On the other hand stronger magicians tend to pull stronger spritis and bigger problems towards themselves, so you never actually get to be safe.

The idea of obsession meanwhile is largely bullshit. It’s based largely off anecdotal evidence of a handful of people who had very bad experiences working with spirits. It’s being perpetuated by people who are, for the most part, novice practitioners and armchair magicians. These are not people who know about obsession because they have experience working with spirits and have been obsessed. These are the people who have never worked with spirits or only work with spirits while following strict guidelines for protection because they believe it is dangerous. That’s why the information on obsession is largely unclear, indefinite, and doesn’t follow logical reasoning. It is derived entirely from speculation and secondary sources, not from the practical experience of people who have actually worked with spirits.

Being Born With Magical Ability

September 27, 2010

It’s a popular sentiment within the entire magical community, and even within the purely speculative mundane world, that magical ability or mystical power is something that certain people are at least partially born with, and without this innate power you have no chance of ever becoming a magician or psychic. And there are three groups which have a vested interest in maintaining this idea.

The first group are the people who are selling their ability. The obvious example are psychics. Most go out of their way to explain how they’ve had this ‘gift’ since a young age. Very few are willing to say that if you would just learn to trust your intuition and work towards developing some precognitive ability, you’d find that you had access to this same ‘gift’ they charge $30 an hour for.

You also see this in other groups though. Go take a look at the New Thought community. I’d estimate that at least 80% of the major systems and authors claim to get their information through channeling. Yet despite the wealth of valuable information they’ve gained, I’ve yet to see a New Thought author who teaches channeling. But then why would you continue to buy their channeled works when you can channel your own? If you teach a man to fish, he’s not going to buy fish from you anymore.

This trend is even extending into the Pagan community. There are certain individuals who are pushing for a Pagan priesthood. The idea is that certain members of the Pagan community are more powerful than others, and that by completely dedicating themselves to magical work, as a career, they will become even more powerful. These individuals can then serve the community in a spiritual capacity which the community cannot serve itself, and likewise they should be compensated and encouraged to continue this work.

The idea of supporting Pagan elders through charity is an extension of this idea. The idea is that these elders are somehow able to spiritually do things for the community that normal Pagans cannot do for themselves.

And this of course leads into other bad ideas. There is this idea that most magic is too dangerous to be used at all by the uninitiated. That a person needs to be born right and have years of training and learning and dedication in order to ever safely work magic. This is no different than when, because of corporate pressure, the government sets up regulations on an industry which are strict and expensive under the guise of protecting the general public, when in reality these regulations are meant to deter small businesses and individual entrepreneurs from encroaching on the market share of major corporations. Why should a teen witch support a Pagan priesthood or elder when they can perform all of the rituals for themselves?

The second group that likes to promote the idea of innate powers at birth are secret societies. This isn’t a new idea. It’s inherent in Gnosticism, a religion that is often times used in secret societies. Secret societies aren’t new either. They’re in the historical record going back thousands of years. Just about every major civilization in every culture has had secret societies in it.

And it comes back to little boys and their clubhouses. Having clubs is something that is built into the minds of most little boys, just like rough housing and thinking little girls are icky but secretly thinking they’re pure awesome. People with secret societies are just men who haven’t yet grown out of this phase. A secret society, mystical or otherwise, is just a group of middle aged men sitting in a treehouse.

And as with any club, it isn’t fun if you let just anyone in. Only the cool kids are allowed into the club. And so when someone from a secret society tells you that you can’t join their club because you weren’t born with magical talent, it’s the same as a little boy that tells you that you can’t come into their treehouse because you were born the wrong race, or the wrong gender, or you’re too short, or you’re a member of the chess club.

In childhood there are also the terminally uncool kids that can’t get into any club, and so they start their own club of rejects which lets anyone join, because that is the fair thing to do. In the magical community we call these people Pagans :) I’m kidding of course.

The third kind of person who wants you to think that some people are born special is the person who needs to feel special. These are people who, when you take a closer look at their lives, are decidedly unspecial. They tend to be below average in every category.

Despite needing to be special, they tend to have a few other qualities that are counter-productive to this. They tend not to like hard work, or even understand the concept of having to work hard to achieve something. This can mean focusing on their career so they make a lot of money, focusing on their appearance so they can attract more attractive people, or having the discipline and investing the time to increase their magical ability. They also have a sense of entitlement. They think they deserve things, that they deserve to be special, without ever doing anything to earn this. Frater Barrabbas has several articles on his blog about his former teacher, a perfect example of one of these individuals.

And so of course these people aren’t special because of something they earned. They’re special because they were born special. The idea that great individuals, even ones who were born with a great deal of innate talent, still needed training, hard work, and discipline to accomplish their achievements is completely foreign to them. And their specialness is not something that can ever be measured or objectively proven. It is not based on material success, accomplishments, or earned degrees.

Saying someone is magically gifted is like saying someone is a smart person. We all know the person who believes they’re smart, whose parents are always going on about how smart they are, but who is of course an underachiever that never gets good grades, never graduates from a college, and never gets anywhere in their career field. They never solve any great problems or win any prizes for their intelligence. They never do anything in their life that proves they’re smart. Yet they believe they’re smart. It’s the same with these special people who are born with magical ‘gifts’.

Because of this emphasis on being born right, a lot of people will go on about their family lineage, because after all magic must be genetic. Usually they’ll mention a grandparent or great-grandparent that was a practitioner who is now dead. In fact every Wiccan I’ve ever met has a dead grandparent who was a Traditional Witch, except for a new breed of Wiccans who believe that Traditional Witchcraft doesn’t exist and that Gerald Gardener invented Witchcraft.

I know quite a bit about Traditional Witchcraft. It was already in a serious decline by the turn of the 20th century. It had a brief and modest spike in popularity in the 50s after Britain repealed the Witchcraft laws, but it was soon dwarfed and pretty much destroyed by the emergence of Wicca which was hugely popular for a minority magical religion, has grown considerably since, and has more than likely still not reached its peak. There are only a handful of Traditional Witches left today, almost all of them with a family lineage of Traditional Witchcraft.

You also have to take into account that with any magical group, Traditional Witches included, the majority of descendants of a practitioner will not become adult practitioners themselves. I’d say that in most cases, fifty years after a practitioner’s death they would be lucky to have one or two living adult practitioners who are blood relatives.

So if every Wiccan who said they were descended from a Traditional Witch really was, it would mean that about fifty or sixty years ago there was a huge number of Traditional Witches, which is disputed by the historical record, family lineages, and people who were alive during that time. The obvious conclusion, most of these people are liars.

If you really want to test someone, ask them what magical tool they have that belonged to their dead relative. I can guarantee that they inherited at least one tool or book, if not many tools and books. Everyone I ever met with a real lineage has at least one thing, and it’s always something they cherish and take good care of.

Most of the people I’ve met in life I wouldn’t consider magicians, and I doubt most people would. Yet I’ve never met a person with no magical ability. The idea of intuition is something that is universally understood and not tied into any spirituality. Yet it is a basic magical ability. True intuition, feeling that something is correct despite having no evidence, is a combination of precognition and sensing energy. That is a magical act.

In fact if you start to look at magical theory and how and why magic works, a lot of it is dependent on people having some magical ability, even if they don’t notice it. Everybody manipulates energy in some way. Everybody senses energy to some degree. Everybody forms links and connects into everything else in the universe.

There’s also the fallacy that magic is a single ability. Of course some people are going to be born with innate talents. This leads people to believe that because they aren’t naturally gifted at a certain magical ability that they are not gifted at magic. If, for instance, they’ve never had a precognitive experience they must not be a magical person or a psychic.

However magic is not a single ability or discipline. Magic is composed of many different disciplines and skills. And every magician will be strong in certain areas and weak in others.

It’s like science. Science is not one thing, it is a general term that consists of many different disciplines and various skills and understanding. A genius in one field of science is not interchangeable with another. For instance Darwin was a genius in the field of biology. He revolutionized the field with the theory of evolution. Do you think if we popped Darwin into Einstein’s life he would’ve instead revolutionized physics and contributed to inventing the atomic bomb and putting a man on the moon? Do you think if we put Einstein into Freud’s life he would’ve revolutionized Psychiatry? No, these people are non-interchangeable. They were made up of specific talents and abilities that allowed them to unnaturally excel in their specific scientific fields.

You may not have strong precognitive abilities. Of course you can still develop them, but you might always struggle with precognition and it may never come easily to you. You may always be weak in that discipline. That doesn’t mean you’re a weak magician though. That just means your strengths lie elsewhere. I guarantee you have some strong magical abilities, you just have to figure out what those strengths are.

A lot of magical ability is also training. Even if you have a strong innate ability, and this is true of everything not just magic, you still need training and discipline in order to mold that ability into something exceptional. Innate ability only gives you an edge over the competition, it isn’t a substitute for hard work. However hard work is, often times, a substitute for innate ability.

For instance I’m very good at channeling. It comes very easily and naturally to me. I often times accidentally pop into channels. I’ve met very few people who can channel as well as I can. But this isn’t something I was born with. I was not able to channel at all when I was younger. Granted there is nothing about me that makes it especially difficult for me to channel, but there is nothing special about me, physically or spiritually, that makes me better at channeling than most people.

What happened is my first real exposure to magic and spiritual training came from my first teacher. She did have a strong innate ability to channel, and to her it was a spiritually fundamental ability. The training she gave me had a specific emphasis on building me into a magician who could channel well. And that training is at the foundation of my magical practice and my solitary magical training.

The only reason why I am good at channeling is because I have a strong magical background in channeling and I’ve invested a good deal of time in properly training that ability.

Another good example is my knowledge and ability with spellwork and ritual magic. If you read my posts during the first year of this blog you’ll notice there is a lot of theory and no ritual. If you read my posts over the last year you’ll notice that there is not only some ritual magic, but a lot of the theory over the last year has gone into explicit detail about how and why ritual magic works. This is because I was still in the process of developing my knowledge of spellwork and ritual magic during the blog’s first year.

Once again this goes back to my first teacher. She was not fond of ritual magic. She considered it to be largely unnecessary and a weaker form of magic. She had not taken the time to learn much about ritual magic, and as such she hadn’t taught it to me.

When I first approached spellwork and ritual it was a very big subject I had no experience with and it overwhelmed me. I didn’t even know where to begin to understand it. I often times wished I had a background in a ritual system like Wicca or Ceremonial Magic, because at least then I would have a foundation of ritual magic and a starting point to work from. It wasn’t that I wasn’t born right, it’s just that I had no training or experience in the subject.

Ultimately I spent about a year and a half focused on teaching myself ritual magic. This involved reading books, convincing other magicians to let me watch them and study their methods, studying and breaking apart spells, and experimenting on my own with ritual magic. After a year and a half of training myself followed by four years of practicing it in my spiritual work, I now feel that I have a strong grasp on the theory ritual magic and that I’ve become very good at practicing it.

My initial inability to use ritual magic had nothing to do with my innate talents. My eventual success with it proves that I wasn’t born without the ability to understand it. If anything I may have had some innate ability to learn and work with ritual magic, however I couldn’t even begin to realize that ability until I had invested some time in learning about ritual magic and training myself in it.

Another thing to remember is that once a magician merges with their HGA they become immensely more powerful than they were before they merged with their HGA. In fact the most magically incapable person on this planet, if they merged with their HGA, would be vastly more powerful than the most skilled, well disciplined, and innately talented magician who hadn’t. Less than 1% of the world has merged with their HGA. I’d say that sadly less than 1% of the magical community has managed to do it. So once you manage to merge with your HGA, you’ll immediately  be elevated to the top percentile of powerful magicians.

Once you merge you will most likely start producing larger amounts of energy and, so there is going to be a lot more raw power there right away. You’ll also start to notice that you suddenly just know how to do things that you didn’t know how to do before. This is going to be different for different people. Maybe you’ll suddenly know how to channel, or you’ll have precognitive visions, or you’ll understand spellwork a lot better. You’ll have access to all of the knowledge and power of your mental body.

You’ll also gain access to the mental planes. And there is a lot of information there. It will also make you a bit more intelligent and give you a broader perspective on things. So not only will you be able to find information, but you’ll be able to understand it when you do.

Yes there is an initial boost. In fact it’s such a drastic boost in power, ability, and knowledge that it will probably take you months of exploration to fully realize what you know and what you can do. But merging with your HGA isn’t just about that initial boost of power. All of this extra power and knowledge and ability also creates limitless opportunity. Spiritual progression and understanding becomes hundreds of times easier. If you spent twenty years dedicating yourself to magical practice and spiritual progression prior to merging with your HGA, your overall progress would still not be a fraction of what you would accomplish in your first year after merging with your HGA, even if you only casually practiced magic and made no effort to develop yourself.

On a final note, when someone tells you that you cannot do the things they can do because you’re not talented enough, you weren’t born right, you aren’t made of the right stuff, or because you haven’t gone the proper route or paid your dues as they have, in every field and in every instance that person is insecure of their own abilities and typically mediocre at best. People who are truly talented and successful at anything always have a positive attitude and encourage others to attempt to do what they have done. It is partially because they know they are good enough and they don’t fear more talented individuals proving their inferiority, and it is partially because they have a pure love of the field and they want others to do things that are truly amazing and exceed even their own abilities.

When To Teach

August 8, 2010

A few months ago Mr Miller put up a post on his blog about when to teach magic. And I agree with what he said in his post, a twenty year old is probably not ready to teach magic. The question has been stuck in my mind all of this time though because I’ve seen so many horrible teachers and classes over the years. I’ve seen people teach classes on subjects they have no experience with using material they printed off the Internet earlier in the day and hadn’t even bothered to read prior to the class. I’ve seen people attend a weekly class for the sole purpose of reteaching the information to their own students while they were still attending the class.

In magic there are actually two different definitions of the word teacher. There is a spiritual mentor. This is a person that has a very close bond and relationship with a student for a period of time, and they specifically guide the student through their current issues and problems in order to get them to the next stage of their spiritual development. Although this type of teacher doesn’t typically remain in the student’s life for very long, the amount of time the teaching takes is indefinite. The teacher remains and teaches the student until the teaching is done. Likewise they don’t follow specific lesson plans. The teacher teaches the student exactly what they need to know. It should be noted that this type of teacher, if they are real, will never charge for their services or expect anything in return from the student.

The second definition is more akin to the type of teacher we see in school or college. It is a person who is teaching a particular subject, technique, or spiritual system to another individual or group of people. Sometimes these classes are taught in a few hours time. Other times they consist of multiple classes over a period of months or even years. Sometimes they are done online as correspondent courses. These classes are sometimes taught to members of a particular group, such as a coven leader teaching other members of the coven. Usually these classes follow a lesson plan or at least some sort of structured system. Sometimes the teacher charges students to take the class.

In the first instance it isn’t too hard to tell when you’re ready to teach. When a student is brought to you, and you instinctively know they are your student, and they instinctively know you are their teacher, and you instinctively know it’s the right time to teach them, that’s when you’re ready to be a teacher. The universe is going to do all of the work and bring to you the students who will get the most out of being taught by you when they need you the most.

It’s the second definition that people have trouble with. Personally I blame a failing system of lower education. Too many people graduate high school without any idea of what a real teacher is or what they’re supposed to do. In high school we see teachers as people who are rarely experts in their field that parrot information they learned in college and rely on special books filled with all of the answers to teach their class.

This is not what a teacher is. Teaching is not about giving someone information. Teaching is about explaining something to someone else and helping them understand it. There is a big difference between these two things. It is not enough to be taught the information and even have it memorized. It’s not enough to just have the information to give to a student.

To be a teacher you really need four things. You must have an intimate and expert understanding of the subject matter. You must be able to explain things well. You need to have proper understanding and respect for your students. And you need to project the proper image.

An intimate and expert understanding of the subject matter:

Notice how I said understanding and not knowledge. It’s not enough to know the material. You have to understand it. You have to completely understand it. You have to understand how everything works and operates and be able to develop the information on your own.

No matter how much you learn and study, no matter how much of an expert you are, you’ll never know everything there is to know about a subject. There’s always going to be something else there to learn. So what happens when a student asks you a question and you don’t know the answer? You figure out what the correct answer is. You don’t have to know everything to teach a subject, but you need to know the subject well enough to find the correct answer.

For instance I maybe know the correspondences for about twenty to thirty different herbs. Those are the herbs that either I use a lot, or ones like Belladonna that are so unique that they’ve stuck in my head. Now I don’t do much herbalism and I don’t consider myself qualified to teach more than an introductory course on herbalism, but if someone asked me the properties of a particular plant and gave me a day, I could figure it out. And I don’t mean I would look it up in Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs and tell them what he wrote. Yes I would look at what Cunningham wrote. I’d also look up the mythologies and folklore of the herb. I’d look up medicinal and biological information about the herb. I’d look up what it’s used for. I’d channel, I’d work with a bit of the herb if I could find some, and I’d meditate on it. And after less than an hour’s worth of work I’d find the answer. It’s not a big deal.

You have to remember too that eventually you’ll get a student that is smarter than you. And they’ll come up with ideas and questions that you would never even imagine. You will not be able to teach that person anything unless you understand the subject matter.

And to be honest, most teacher’s are stumped by the intellect of a five year old. The most common question that I’ve seen stump teachers is “why?” They tell the student something, and the student asks why, and they don’t have an answer.

You’re teaching a class on herbalism. A student asks you what are the herbal properties of Raspberries. You tell the student that they are used for protecting your house, to induce love, and to alleviate the pains of pregnancy (these are the uses given in Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs pg 186). The student then asks you why raspberries have those metaphysical properties. “Because Cunningham says so” is not a proper answer for a teacher. In order to teach a class on herbalism you need to be able to understand why certain herbs have certain properties.

The second most common question that stumps a teacher is when the student figures out a contradiction. If you are teaching something from a text that you got from a book, that you got online, or someone else’s lesson plan, I can almost guarantee that there are contradictions within that one work. If you are combining more than one work by different authors together, I can positively guarantee you that there are contradictions. A lot of older students may be too stupid, bored, or scared to point it out, but if there is a twelve year old taking your class, I can also guarantee you that they will notice the contradiction and point it out to you and want you to explain it. This is the thing that twelve year olds do.

If it’s someone else’s information that you don’t understand, you won’t be able to figure out the contradiction. You won’t be able to figure out which part of the information is correct or incorrect, or be able to see that both are actually correct because there is some third piece of information that isn’t being considered.

And also, if you’re just telling your students the correct answer you’re a bad teacher. A good teacher doesn’t just give their students the correct answers. A good teacher teaches their students how to find the correct answers. Teaching someone how to go about finding the correct answers to any question they may ever have is infinitely more valuable than telling them the answer to a single question. The only way you can teach someone that though is if you actually know how to find the correct answers.

Be able to explain things well:

It’s not enough to just give people the information. After all, anybody can open up a book or read a page off the Internet. If you have your own personal information you’ve developed yourself, that might be worth something if you really are the only source of the information. But more than likely, even if you have developed your own information, someone else has already put the same ideas into a book, or on a webpage, or someone else is teaching it. There really isn’t a point to teaching someone if all you’re doing is giving them information. Unless they’re illiterate, they can get it themselves.

Good teachers are able to explain subjects to their students in a way they can understand it. Imagine you’re teaching a class on spellwork. You’ve been casting spells for twenty years. All of your friends that you talk to have also been doing it for a decade or more. You’re an expert at it. You understand every part of it. And so you go into the class and explain everything they need to know in a way that you, and the people you normally talk to, would understand. And your students go, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

As a teacher you need to be able to explain the subject to someone who doesn’t have a background in it, who doesn’t yet understand it. The best teachers are the people who can remember what it was like before they knew anything about the subject, and so they explain it in a way they would have understood it.

Bad teachers make subjects seem complicated, confusing, and difficult, because it makes them look smart because they understand it. Good teachers make the subject seem uncomplicated and easy to understand. They make it seem like you don’t even have to be very smart to get it, you just need to have a proper explanation.

This is what teaching is. It’s a skill and of course it can be developed. Some people are going to be very good at it and some people aren’t. If you aren’t very good at explaining complicated subjects in a way that other people can understand them, then you need to work on that before you start teaching. That is, essentially, what teaching is.

Have Proper Respect and Understanding of Your Students:

I’ve seen a lot of magicians who are very knowledgable yet will never be teachers. They don’t have the right personality to be teachers. They get annoyed when people don’t understand things right away. If a student isn’t picking up the information, they see it as a failure on the part of the student and not a failure on the part of the teacher. They’re often times mean to their students. They aren’t there to help their students with their needs.

If you want to be a teacher you need patience. You need to understand that some people will have a lot of difficulty learning certain subjects. You have to be able to change your teaching style and methods to meet the needs of the student. And you have to remember that not every student is going to be really smart or easily pick up the material. As a teacher you have to be able to teach all of your students, not just the ones that are easy to teach.

People who constantly complain about how stupid or ignorant everyone in the community is are not cut out to be teachers. Teachers don’t complain about that, they do something about it. It’s okay if most of the people in the community don’t understand anything about magic. Teachers don’t expect everyone to be able to figure this stuff out on their own. Teachers are there to figure out a way to help people understand magic and spirituality.

Be Able to Project the Proper Image:

Magic is a spiritual path. No matter how well you know the subject and how well you can explain it, if you cannot project an image of being a spiritual master, no one will want to be your student. At least no one worthwhile.

We have certain expectations of spiritual masters. And if you want to be a teacher you need to meet some of those expectations. It isn’t really that hard. First off you have to seem intelligent and like you know what you’re talking about. If you actually know and understand the subject matter though, you’ll seem like you’re intelligent and you know what you’re talking about.

The second part is you need to be professional. This is easy too. If you say you’re going to teach a class at a certain time, make sure you show up and you’re on time. If you say you’re going to do something, like pick up supplies for the class, do it. Treat your students with respect. Don’t be mean to them. The second part, acting professional, is once again easy. It’s amazing not many people can do it.

The third and final part is you have to be emotionally stable, at least while teaching your class. This means you can’t go into violent fits of rage, you can’t break out crying, you can throw temper tantrums, you can’t have nervous break downs, you can’t come to class expecting your students to talk you out of your current suicide attempt, ect. You’d be amazed at how many people who want to be teachers can’t manage to do this.

Profaning the Gods for Entertainment: Who Put the “Glad” in Gladiator?

April 24, 2010

This is a subject which has come up among people I know a few times. People get upset about depictions of the gods for entertainment purposes, or they think we, meaning the community, should be upset. Deities are often depicted in ways contrary to their mythology. Even worse, many are depicted in a light hearted manner and made fun of, or even in a completely negative way. Some culprits include Disney’s Hercules movie and cartoon with its depictions of many Greek gods, the Grimm Adventures of Billy and Mandy and their depiction of Eris, Erik the Viking and its depiction of the Norse pantheon, and the Herc’s adventure game on the PSX (okay, no one really knows about that last one but me, cool game though). Right now the subject is being brought up again due to the releases of Clash of the Titans and Percy Jackson’s Lightning Thief, both movies that depict various gods. The question is, is this wrong? Are the gods being profaned? Is it something that we, possibly being very spiritually tied to and close to these gods, should be offended by?

Society says we should be. Most of the other religions are after all. Its recently become a bit of a fad to make fun of Jesus, but in the past any depiction that wasn’t following the general Christian belief on Jesus’s life and times was controversial (such as The Last Temptation of Christ and Jesus Christ Superstar). Native Americans get upset when their rituals, gods, and spirituality are inaccurately portrayed. There are Muslims that threaten to kill people because of depictions of Muhammad. This isn’t to say every person in these religions feels this way, or that this is true of every single religion. But a lot of religions don’t like their gods and sacred figures depicted in disparaging or inaccurate ways, especially by outsiders. So should we too?

Most people who are polytheists or pagans or whatever they’re calling themselves were once part of one of these mainstream religions. And they left their original religion most likely because they didn’t like the religion, they didn’t like the beliefs, they didn’t like the behavior of the people in the religion, and for the most part they were unhappy with the religion. Ironically they take these same habits that they learned from this ‘unacceptable’ religion and carry them right over into their new religion. But that doesn’t answer the question.

There are a series of good arguments that are not only against being offended, but are actually in favor of the depiction of the gods in modern entertainment.

First and foremost, this isn’t something new. Going all the way back to ancient Greece, we see the gods routinely depicted in poetry, plays, paintings, and sculptures. This continues on through out the Roman empire, through out the Middle Ages in Europe, through the Renaissance, right up into the modern day. So this is actually something that has been going on for quite some time.

Now you might think there’s a big difference between the epic poetry of the Greeks and a Disney cartoon. And although they aren’t the same thing, and maybe one is better than the other (Hercules was far from Disney’s best film after all), the core issue is the same. The artist is depicting the gods in an inaccurate way to serve their needs of telling the story they want to tell.

The Iliad is one of the most influential literary works in the entire history of the world. It is one of only two pieces of the epic cycle that have survived in their entirety. It is also one of the major sources we have concerning Greek mythology and beliefs. Nobody who spiritually follows the Greek pantheon is going to call the Iliad profane. And yet Homer routinely depicts gods in inaccurate and even negative ways in order to serve his own idealistic agendas and personal politics within the poem.

Ares is a good example. He’s a god that Homer routinely trashes throughout the Iliad. Ares is often seen as an evil or negative or lesser god today due almost entirely to Homer’s depiction and the depiction of Ares by contemporaries of Homer. And yet in ancient Greece Ares was a highly revered and respected god. He was one of the Olympians who are largely considered the most important and respected of the Greek gods. He was also one of the patron gods of Sparta, one of the strongest and influential cities within Greece. Prior to Homer he is not only depicted as a god of war, but also as a god of justice, vengeance, love, and righteousness.

And Homer wasn’t just mistaken in his depiction of Ares.  Ares was specifically chosen for three reasons. First he wasn’t originally a Greek god, he was imported into Greece from the outside. The Greeks had a very strong sense of ethnic pride, and although Ares’ high standing in Greece despite coming from the outside is a testament to his reverence, being a non-Greek god gave Homer a lot of leeway in depicting him negatively. Secondly Homer was decidedly anti-war, and the Iliad has a strong anti-war message behind it. Ares, being a god of war, was a perfect target for Homer to take out his personal ideologies on. And lastly Homer was from Athens, a city whose patron god is Athena, a god that is often believed to be in conflict with Ares. Ares is also the patron god of Sparta, a city that was constantly in conflict with Athens. So trashing Ares was a way of saying “Yeah Athens – Sparta Sucks.”

And yet we don’t view the Iliad as profane.

Secondly we live in a time where the gods, for the most part, are not well recognized, taught about, or worshiped like they used to be. Without entertainment, most of us would only know the various myths from what we learned in school. I know where I live we only really learn about the Greek pantheon. The Roman pantheon we’re taught is the same as the Greek pantheon with different names, the Norse and Egyptian pantheons aren’t touched on, and I don’t think most people even know there is a Celtic pantheon. With the rise of Neopagan religions and the strong movements to remove religion from public schools, it may not be too long until these myths are not taught at all.

These movies and TV shows and cartoons may not depict the gods correctly, but at least they make people aware that they exist. With certain people, just hearing the name of a god can be enough to spark an interest, and a lot of people may be pushed to research these gods more in depth because of one of these depictions. I know my blog hits have gone up by about 10% since The Lightning Thief and Clash of the Titans came out due to people searching for Medusa. For a few people this may be enough to completely change their spirituality and lead them to a stronger and closer relationship with the gods. But even if it doesn’t, it still makes them aware of a god and gives them some connection to that god. It also makes them more receptive to that god in the future. And the cartoons, which seem to upset people the most, are probably the best at doing this because they target children and make children more comfortable with and receptive to the gods.

And this isn’t any different than what was going on in Ancient Greece. Plays and poems were written about the gods so people would become aware of them and learn about them. The plays and poems that have survived to the modern day constitute a lot of what we know about Greek mythology. This is true of a lot of other pantheons too.

My last argument is one I’ve used before concerning the gods. By their nature, a deity should be able to handle their own affairs. If there is something wrong or profane with the way they are being depicted, they should be able to take care of it themselves. At the very least, if human intervention is required, I would expect the offended deity to personally give instructions about what needs to be done. So unless a god has told you to be offended by something or take some sort of action, I’d say leave it alone. And by told you I don’t mean you saw some obscure sign only you could understand. I mean the god appeared before you and said something like, “Hey [insert your name here], you need to go on the Disney message board and tell everyone how poorly I was depicted in their cartoon and how this offends everyone of your particular religion. Also threaten to boycott their products and whine about them to everyone you meet.”