Reference blog titled “To Every Thing There Is a Season, and a Time to Every Purpose under the Heaven”
Source Science of Metaphysical and Occult Philosophy — smopblog.com/?p=81
We urge everyone to read John R. deLorez’ blog referenced above. de Lorez has given us a survey of where the thing loosely called “the community” finds itself today. As he points out, the community has become (to use a courteous euphemism) eclectic.
As often happens, there are two sides to the coin. The good side is that everyone is enjoying themselves without too much mental effort. The bad side–in our curmudgeonly opinion–is this: A lot of people are skimming some kind of surface without realizing the harm they can do to themselves and to others when they play Witchy-Poo. To put all this into perspective, we ourselves often give a presentation we call “99 Ways Good Witches Go Bad” based on our book “Good Witches Fly Smoothly.”
Gavin received his training in England from an old-line coven in Cornwall. It took a small group of neophytes almost two (2) years of quite rigorous training to qualify for initiation. That training required attendance at various lectures both in London and in the provinces, given by noted figures in many fields, as well as other assignments fine-tuned to each student personally.
The quality of those lectures was amazing. Some were held at the British Psychical Research Society’s quarters; some were at colleges and universities. He cannot remember any that were held in someone’s living room. Thus he witnessed from the get-go the value of learning from people who had been specialists for years in their respective fields.
In the United States in 1968, when we first founded the Church and School of Wicca, there was a high level of genuine interest in exploring a spiritual path. We rapidly went from zero to an international student body of 2,000 enrolled in the School’s correspondence course. About 70 percent of them dropped out when they found that we expected them not only to read a lot of obscure books, but also to do experiments. The books were so difficult to obtain that we imported many from Europe and started a School lending library from which students could borrow the texts we recommended.
As the years have passed, fewer and fewer students are willing even to read the required texts. So we simplified the course by allowing two tracks: one for those who sought to earn initiation, one for general information. Today about 70 percent of the students do only the general-information sections–that is,with the notable exception of foreign students and American inmates. They still want to learn everything they can. In the United States the instant-gratification phenomenon has (at least in our curmudgeonly opinion) ruined what had been a good thing with a high level of esoteric scholarship.
Today every self-respecting bookstore has a shelf of easy-read paperbacks explaining multifarious “Wiccan” “traditions” and how-to books on the occult, often from authors who have had maybe one minor spiritual experience. This means that many good people never do much experimentation and rarely dig deeper. In working with groups at our presentations, we are repeatedly dismayed when attendees simply don’t know even the most axiomatic of basic procedures and guidelines.
When we founded the School of Wicca, we made a conscious decision that Wicca was for everyone and thus should be, if you will, hidden in plain sight. The Craft should not be the sole property of a self-appointed aristocracy of occult “leaders”. That meant we advertised in widely-read media ranging from Cosmo magazine to the National Enquirer. We summarized our thoughts on this topic in the last lecture of our correspondence course, that became the nucleus of Chapter 12 in our infamous book “The Witch’s Bible”. That chapter is essentially a rant. It asks, “Whom can you believe? Surely not the people who make a profit from having you kowtow to their almighty will.” The rant included priests/clergy paid by one conventional church or another; it included physicians paid by Big Pharma to push new products; it included publishers; it included many other people who, though they purport to be sincere, in fact make a profit from keeping you in the dark and by using “innerspeak”, the jargon of the inner circle, to maintain their precious us-over-you situation.
For all of recorded history, there have been persons who manipulated others by claiming, “I know something you don’t know” and “You’re not ready to know that yet.” The ploy works on the second-grade playground, and it works all too well in the field of spiritual/magical/occult pursuits.
Based on this statement, any thoughtful person can see immediately that people should be very suspicious of our words; and we told seekers that the only person whom you can trust is yourself. Then we quoted Mohandas Gandhi:
“Divine knowledge is not borrowed from books; it must be realized in oneself. Scriptural texts cannot supersede reason. The principal books are doubly distilled: They come from a human person and have now been interpreted and translated.”
So you might think that we immediately condemned ourselves and our thinking. In response as our defense we have to say that
(1) our work is not just our work but also the work of over 40,000 students and
(2) the School has never made a profit and
(3) indeed we live under a vow of poverty.
Recently we have been encouraged when people whom we meet on the festival circuit ask for some of our older presentations. Those seekers are highly interested in such topics as Hinduism, the Sephiroth, multifaceted meditation, and astral travel. Perhaps more people will continue with their eclectic path but will add time for experimentation and having their own epiphanies without longing for whiz-bangs and blue balls of fire, or for thumb games.
Regrettably another phenomenon has seemed to overtaken part of the community. It can be variously described as smooth-below-the-waist or Christo-paganism. We see it in people who have failed to distinguish between reality on the one hand and on the other hand the cultural assumptions in which so many are trapped.
In time past much of the community followed the old ways and had great success with astral travel and with sex magic (the use of natural energy to affect future events); though now, of course, to be politically correct we should call that force “gender-difference” energy–and even this term doesn’t work for our GLBT friends. Ay de mi! Sorry, troops.
This current trend has gone way too far. Currently many Wiccans are so smooth below the waist–so politically correct–that they have changed even the Charge to the Goddess, removing politically incorrect phrases such as “Ye shall be naked in your rites and ye shall make the game of love.”
How often do Yvonne and I have to sit in lectures which are quite frankly trash? Those self-important utterances include such blatant falsehoods as these two:
(1) Jules Michelet’s book “La Sorciere” was titled “The Sorcerer” and
(2) Wicca was founded by Gerald Gardner and i am a member of the oldest Wiccan group founded in 1975.
Because of our objections to these most glaring of the “mistakes”, many people decided “those Frosts” are dangerous and should never be invited back.
There’s no market for truth.
As Yvonne and I sit here in our living room dictating these thoughts, without even standing up we can look around and see hundreds of books, ranging from shelves of dictionaries, to philosophy, to maps ancient and modern, to a whole shelf of our own books. None are trash. All are dog-eared from continuous use. Unless there comes an upsurge in scholarly and experimental work, then the community has lost it. Do we want that to happen? Or are you willing to ditch the yellow-press books and the woohoo internet sites, and listen and try things?
We have hopes. We are seeing some small groups around the country who will listen and will strive; but they’re few and far between. In fact we two can successfully do more experiments with Christians, in their church basement meetings which are alternatives to the official service, than we can with many self-styled pagans. What a sad state of affairs.