There are several Pagans who yearn for the spotlight. Who have no problem hamming it up for the press and reinforcing pop-culture stereotypes. When they appear on the screen, or in a publication, we brace ourselves, teeth gritted, for their latest antics. In the UK, no figure more typifies this than self-proclaimed “High Priest of British White Witches” Kevin Carlyon.
“O dear I upset practitioners of Wicca on the Gardnerian and Alexandrian path and probably the weird out of brain dildos who latch on to anything. My path of Earth Magic is 21st century reality, not the sex, bondage, drugs and power trips of others in the past, including ‘The Kinks of Witches’ Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders. Its obvious that I touch a nerve with other Witches but thats normal as I am ‘THE WITCH’ and people are jealous. I am not classed as the King of the Witches as I would be too ashamed of some of the people involved … Just to add to the controversy between other Witches I think I’ll call myself The Living God Of All Witches.”
Carlyon spends his time setting up media spectacles that the press in Britain seems to eat right up. Whether its “exorcising” the spirit of Aleister Crowley, setting himself up as official protector and “high priest” of Loch Ness, or engaging all manner of embarrassing media pronouncements the “living god” in the red bathrobe is there. His latest stunt is to cast a bad weather spell on a local Oliver Cromwell celebration as a punishment for the Cambridgeshire witchcraft trials.
“Mr Carlyon, who will cast the spell from woods near his home in East Sussex, said Cromwell failed to stop witchcraft trials during the 17th century, which saw women from Sutton and Haddenham executed and people of both sexes from all over the country imprisoned and hanged.”
However, this time around the local media isn’t swallowing Carlyon’s inflated claims of leadership and power.
“More than 800 people from the pagan and heathen community have signed a online petition to dethrone Mr Carlyon from his place as King of the White Witches, saying he does not speak for them … Cambridge-based pagan Derek Wood spoke to the Ely Standard said: ‘My personal opinion is that Kevin Carlyon may claim to be the high priest of white witches, but I am a Regional Coordinator for the national Pagan Federation and have never heard of him. We occasionally get people like this, usually with no affiliation to serious minded pagans, people with an ego looking for a cult to worship it. Such people give paganism a bad press because they are outspoken and usually define themselves by some perceived injustice hey must rebel against.’”
If anything points to the growing mainstreaming of Pagan religions it may be this. Instead of treating any media-hungry narcissist who comes into view as a spokesperson for all of us, they did some research, and contacted a local Pagan advocacy group for a quote. In the end, good journalism, more than any disavowal or petition from the Pagan community, may successfully “dethrone” these media-hungry cranks from their self-appointed lofty perches.