Once Upon a Time, Gavin and Yvonne wrote a Paragraph
Once again a handful of self-appointed pagans are criticizing The Witch’s Bible, and its daughter book, Good Witch’s Bible, for “encouraging illegal behavior”. This short article will give those who don’t know it a precise résumé of what has happened and is happening.
When The Witch’s Bible was published in 1972, it was greeted with both wild approval and disapproval. The disapproving group, was led by one Herman Slater of the Warlock Shop in New York City. We all know that warlock means traitor and Slater was indeed a traitor to the Craft. Nevertheless Slater convinced Carl Weschcke of Llewellyn Publications that he should put the Frosts on trial for writing such an inflammatory book. Carl had one of his assistants, Vicki Zastrow, review the book.
Actions and Meetings
We met with Vicki and Carl in Minneapolis in 1974 to review the situation. Apparently the main complaint was the definitive article in the title: The. We Frosts agreed to change the title of The Witch’s Bible to Good Witch’s Bible. In addition, in discussion with Vicki we agreed to write forewords for the various chapters of the book. This was done, and Good Witch’s Bible was published in 1993. The trial in Minneapolis went ahead; but since the Frosts had arrived with a large contingent of supporters and Slater had only three (3), it was canceled; instead a Witch from Arkansas, Eli, was tried in absentia. We were never able to ascertain the nature of his crime(s).
The positive outcome of the aborted trial was a second Witchmeet in Minneapolis. At this time, agreement was reached on the definition of a Witch, mainly written by Isaac Bonewits but agreed to without dissent by all present. It was at this Witchmeet that Morning Glory and Otter/Oberon Zell became friends.
Legal Proceedings in the US Judicial System
In 1985 the original book was used by Federal Judge Butner in Dettmer v Landon to determine that Wicca was a legitimate religion worthy of Federal recognition. Further, on May 19, 2016, the quiz show Jeopardy mentioned that specific decision in a question.
Thus the book that has been so much criticized is one of the foundation documents of the religion of Wicca. Rewriting the document would inevitably have led to a reevaluation of the religious status of Wicca; hence the forewords were inserted rather than rewriting the whole book.
Roots of Controversy
The most controversial part of the book seems to revolve around initiation. In the foreword to Chapter 4 is the clear statement in English:
No formal initiation into a group that practices the great rite should be done before the candidate attains the age of eighteen .
Thus the accusation of pedophilia and child molestation fails. Nevertheless people continue to question the wording of that chapter. Since the foreword was in place, it seemed unnecessary to us to make changes in the body of the chapter; however, on the advice of Craft friends, in July 2014 we changed two (2) words on Page 64 to clarify further that no one under the age of eighteen (18) years should be involved in sexual initiations in the coven setting.
Did you really want the revision?
The revised edition has been available for more than a year; yet only six (6) copies have ever been sold. Such is the fervor of Frost accusers: a lot of heat with very little light. To us it is clear that the accusers have not bothered to read the relevant material and are working from hearsay with smoke and feathers and salacious imaginings.
The whole question of the introduction of children to the Craft seems to be controversial. In our own family and in other families with children who have made no secret of their alliance with the Craft, the children have been able to live a healthy and healthful life without being accused of being the children of devils. We have also encouraged the practice of allowing children to decide which path they wish to follow when they turn 18.
Perhaps we should have talked about puberty rites in Chapter 4 rather than about initiation. Girls especially, when they start menstruating, should be honestly told of their change of status and be welcomed into their adult life. We are most happy to have attended puberty rites recently for several girls in our covens. The writings in the Good Witch’s Bible are meant to encourage open and honest discussion about human sexuality and growth within Wicca. It is a product of its time, consider the late 1960’s in the US and the sexual revolution. However, also consider the nature of human relationships. What is actually wrong about encouraging an open and honest discussion in families about a young adult’s sexuality? Parents have to have uncomfortable conversations with children. Is part of the public discomfort based in the fact that people are uncomfortable with having these conversations with their children? Don’t you prefer to have that conversation rather than letting someone else do that for you?
When The Witch’s Bible was written, there was no other book which would guide people into the religion of Wicca: the Craft as spiritual path. There were several books on Witchcraft but none were definitive guidebooks. They talked about the history of the Craft and about its present resurgence; about magical procedures (not distinguishing clearly between magic and spirituality), and assorted activities at all levels of expertise. Notable among such authors, of course, were Margaret Murray, Gerald Gardner, and Raymond Buckland; however, none of their books could be used to enlighten those who were interested in exploring the religion of Wicca.
Those who criticize The Witch’s Bible and its daughter Good Witch’s Bible should write their own guides–remembering that they cannot stray far from The Witch’s Bible without creating a new religion. From that point they will find it necessary to move ahead and get federal recognition for their new religion. Once they have completed this task, we will be happy to welcome them into the ranks of pagan religions.
In closing we should point out that accusing us of pedophilia, or of condoning pedophilia, is libel; if it is seriously meant we will see the accusers in court.
Since this original post
Other people have written their own Good Witch’s Bibles — they lack. But, what they have also done, is utilized this controversy to their benefit, hence Cui Bono. We hope you can sort through the writings that are out there to find what is meaningful for you over time. That is the best possible solution — take what you like and leave the rest in your search for finding meaning for yourself.
If it harm none, do what you will. – Gavin and Yvonne