Greetings, Pagan Temple.
We apologize that we’ve taken so long to answer your thoughtful questions.
1. It is true : We live under a Vow of Poverty. We had a major meeting of minds with the IRS–months long–in the early days of the Church of Wicca. From that meeting emerged the definition of a church and the steps to forming a religious association contained in Appendix 2 of “Witch’s Magical Handbook”. We finally convinced the IRS that we kept no financial records. But when an organization keeps no financial records, how do its donors know they aren’t being ripped off? The answer is the vow of poverty. We Frosts basically own nothing. If anything such as honorariums, book royalties, consultant fees comes to our hands, it all goes directly to the Church. No questions asked. The Church owns the cottage we live in. The Church owns the sheets on the bed, and the bed itself. In the real world, if we were to leave the Church, we’d have to walk away naked.
2. Media portrayals. We see inklings of change in the awareness of the media to our legal religious status. They’re being more careful. When Disney brought out that unspeakable Hocus Pocus we made a determined effort to find a pit-bull lawyer who would take them on. No luck. We tried the federal authorities and the local North Carolina authorities. Still no luck. Fortunately many documentary channels and dear old Mother BBC are beginning to put together positive, objective programs. Big gratitude for that.
3. Wicker Man. It depends on which version of Wicker Man you view. Promoting the new version would be very foolish. It lost the whole point of the virgin sacrifice done so well in the first Woodward/Lee/Eklund version.
4. Advice to authors. After some thirty books published by mainstream houses, we have gone away from them to Outskirts Press ( outskirtspress.com ) . There we get to set our own royalties, and have more control over such things as cover art. Selling a pagan/Wiccan book today to the mainstream houses is difficult because, as in so many areas, pagan/Wiccans don’t support their own kind by reviewing their books. Get out there and post positive reviews on all the major sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble–to good books.
5. Relations with Christians. Oh, what a phantasmagoria of problems this question raises! Yvonne, the recovering Baptist, shudders at the non-win package They’d foist off on unsuspecting dupes. Statistics quoted by Unitarian Universalists say that 40 percent of Americans have no spiritual path or religious affiliation and that this fact is the reason we’re in such a morass nationally … well, whether or not they’re accurately linking cause and effect is a discussion for another day. Anyhow, we hope to attract those people, though we don’t want them to bring along their Christian paradigm, consciously or unconsciously, of an exclusive ethnic monotheistic dominator-deity of hatred. If you haven’t yet read it, I suggest you read our article Beware the Christo-Pagan-Wiccans on website wiccanew.wpengine.com. It’s ethical to reveal what we believe, but not ethical to insist that anyone else subscribe to it. And we’ve heard quite enough of the conventional claims.
6. For many years we’ve said that once there’s a pagan/Wiccan pope, we’ll have to find another place for our form of spirituality and enlightenment. Yes, in the early days when we began to build such a structure, we realized that it wasn’t a path to freedom, so we went from 16 churches to one. So far as we know, no one who claims to be a Wiccan should be issuing franchises. We postulate that a principal cause of Witch wars in the community is that urge toward the meaningless drive for headcount and control. That’s a spiritual path? Look at all the old-timers of our (Frost) generation. Do you see vast structures associated with their names? Today I worry more about the future of even such structures as Covenant of the Goddess or the Lady Liberty League. Both are doing great work, as are many others such as Reclaiming, but where are they going with opening pathways to enlightenment for their members?
7. Good grief! We’re a church. We don’t care what political philosophy you espouse. In fact under the Church’s 501.c.(iii) we cannot legally care. It would be more relevant to ask whether you wear boxers or Y-fronts. They’re simply separate dimensions of reality.
8. Growth and corruption. We’re back to the old “Power corrupts.” If the leaders seek power, that way disaster lies. (See Vow of Poverty above.)
9. Caligula and his horse. This viewpoint came from a History Channel special on the writers who wrote up the stories of the Roman emperors two or three hundred years after the fact for a yellow-press readership. The History Channel pointed out how much those people wanted to sell books (or should we say scrolls?). That Caligula ripped open his sister’s abdomen to extract the fetus and that she died could be put in an entirely different way. Try this. Caesarean operations were well known. After all, they were named for Caesar. So she had a Caesarean. So she died. That doesn’t sell scrolls–not gaspy enough. Saying that his horse would make a more intelligent senator than those presently in power? That might be just as appropriate today, when Yvonne’s cat would probably do a better job than many of this nation’s sorry politicians. Certainly he’d be more honest about it. Tiberius was both a miser and a republican. He delegated his power to the senate and did few public works (what today would be called infrastructure). Caliguna did all sorts of public works–built grain ships to feed the Roman populace, and spent all the money Tiberius had saved. He forced his will over the senate’s objections. There were lots of other points in that documentary, and I’d dearly love to have a copy of it. It aired within the last two years.
10. Favorite god/goddess. First let us say that in discussions and writing we now are using a shorthand–god-ess–to designate deities. The Celtic way gives us a whole pantheon of god-esses, each with a specific purpose. We’re lucky in that we also know of other powerful deity metaphors that we can use to improve our lives, either through self-realization or through what is generally called magic. Having a favorite one is a non-question. If you in fact worship a single named deity such as Jesus, you’re not in a religion; you’re in a cult.
Pagan Temple, dear, that’s all for now. Blessed be those who think and challenge. G and Y