Pagan Community Notes: Isaac Bonewits Memorial DVD Controversy, Temple of the River Closes Down, and more!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  June 7, 2011 — 94 Comments

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note series, more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

Isaac Bonewits Memorial DVD Controversy: Back in August of 2010 Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) held a special memorial service at the Summerland Gathering in Ohio for their founding Archdruid Isaac Bonewits who passed away on August 12th. The memorial service was captured on video, and placed on Youtube so those who couldn’t be there could see it. Since then, the ADF has made a DVD of that video footage available for purchase, a move that has upset Bonewit’s ex-wife Deborah Lipp and their child Arthur.

“You can say, Isaac wanted to give money to ADF and therefore it’s acceptable, or you can say, Isaac placed what was right and proper and honorable before profit, always, and therefore it’s utterly unacceptable. I knew him very well, and I can hear him saying “tacky” quite clearly in my ear, but I recognize the subjectivity of that. In the end, I can only speak to what I feel is right, and respectful, and kind. To commodify the death of a great man is not respectful. To do so at an event where he was being honored is not right. To do so when his only son was at that event was not kind.”

The ADF responded by saying that they are only charging for the DVD “to recoup a fraction of the costs associated with their creation,” and that the DVD was only made so that those without broadband Internet access could see the footage. Lipp responded by calling the production of a DVD “tasteless, disrespectful, undignified, and uncompassionate to those for whom this loss is personal.” Shortly after Lipp’s open letter started circulating Phaedra Bonewits, Isaac’s widow, posted her own thoughts on the matter, her opinions veered sharply from the idea that the ADF were “uncompassionate” in their move to sell a DVD.

“Bottom line, I do not want anyone to think that the opinions of Ms. Lipp, Isaac’s ex wife, represent my feelings, or the sentiments of any other member of Isaac’s family other than those of her son, Arthur Lipp-Bonewits. They are entitled to feel what they feel, but their feelings are not representative of the rest of us. I can’t presume to speak for Isaac, not really. But he did put his legacy in my hands because he loved and trusted me, as I loved and trusted him. Thus, I want to state unequivocally that I do not find the videotaping of the memorial, nor the distribution of the DVDs at nominal cost to be in any way disrespectful or exploitative of his memory. I completely support ADF in this situation, as do his siblings and his own mother.

This is obviously an emotionally intense subject, and I’m only reporting on this now because all parties involved have decided to make public their positions in the matter. I know from firsthand experience that the loss of a loved one is never easy, and the initial months, even years, after their passing can be fraught with unknown obstacles and a unique liminality brought on by grief. To lose someone who was a beloved public figure, who many people feel a sense of connection to, is no doubt even more complex and trying an experience. To paraphrase our nation’s president, I think it’s above my pay-grade to make a judgment call on this situation. It is what it is, a difference of opinion regarding what actions were proper and respectful. I wish all involved every blessing, and would guess that Isaac himself would relish engaging in the question at hand, though we are now all bereft of his direct insight in the matter.

Temple of the River in Minnesota Closes its Doors: Yesterday PNC-Minnesota reported that Temple of the River, an Irish Cottage Temple in NE Minneapolis, was closing its doors and that the religious community sponsoring it, The Old Belief Society, is disbanding. Temple of the River’s priest, Drew Jacob, made waves across the Pagan community recently with an article titled “Why I’m not Pagan.” Cara Schulz of PNC-Minnesota conducted an exclusive interview with Jacob about the move, and what the future holds for its priest.

“To put it simply, it’s not helping enough people change their lives. We have a large community and terrific events, but the Temple isn’t making the impact I want to see it make. As a priest, I’ve witnessed a significant shift in people’s spiritual needs. The needs that Temple of the River was designed to fulfill—a place for community, and accurate knowledge about historic practices—simply aren’t as badly needed now as they were ten years ago.

Instead I see people searching for a way to take charge of their lives. That has to be the priority, because the world is changing, and people feel lost, or stuck. The economy, technology and culture are all shifting. 20th century strategies for life don’t work well anymore, so there are a lot of people out there who aren’t happy with their lives. What I want to teach people is how to change that. How to live boldly and lead a life of victory. I want to empower people.”

Jacob now says he’ll devote his time to the Heroic Life, “a new spirituality for the 21st century” that’s “based on bravery and adventure.” Temple of the River will hold one last event on Midsummer’s Eve, and a final meditation session the week before.

Hutton Responds to Whitmore, Explains His Process: Chas Clifton reports that the The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies has posted a freely accessible article by British historian Ronald Hutton (author of “The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft”) entitled “Writing the History of Witchcraft: A Personal View.” In the piece Hutton discusses the course his work has taken, situates it within a larger body of scholarly work, and proposes three possible futures for the writing and reception of Pagan history by “practitioners outside the academy.” He also directly addresses the book-length critique of his work, “Trials of the Moon: Reopening the Case for Historical Witchcraft,” written by Ben Whitmore.

“It [Trials of the Moon] is devoted entirely to my own work. Although he allows that I have some virtues, at the opening and the end, these concessions seem very hollow in view of everything in between. He sums up the message of Triumph as being that modern Pagan witch-craft is “entirely a new invention, cobbled together by a few eccentrics,” with no link to any earlier form of “Pagan spirituality.” This is of course a travesty of its intended message. The whole purpose of his own bookis to destroy my reputation as an authority upon the history of Paganism and witchcraft, at least among Pagans, and especially belief in the argu-ments of Triumph. He has carried out very little research into primary source material. What he employs instead is a number of secondary texts of varying quality and drawn from a wide span of time. Whenever he finds a passage in these which apparently contradicts me, he proclaims that I am proved wrong. He also examines some of the works from which I have quoted myself and claims that I have misrepresented them. Nobody who believes his assertions can be left with anything other than the impression that I am an unscrupulous and deceitful individual motivated by a concealed hostility to Paganism. Most of the use that I make of source material is passed over in silence: only the apparent faults are highlighted. Where I address properly in later publications matters that he accuses me of neglecting in Triumph, this is taken as confirmation of my earlier guilt rather than a negation of it. By the same tactic, aspects of earlier work of mine to which he takes exception, and which are differently handled in Triumph, are still made to stand as examples of my turpitude. He criticises me for not defining terms like “witchcraft” with absolute precision, but then makes no attempt to do so himself, keeping them as fluid as possible so that they can fit a range of different meanings. He likewise makes no attempt to construct an alternative history of witchcraft and Paganism to my own: his whole purpose is simply to undermine confidence in me, so that—presumably—Pagan witches can go back to believing whatever they did before I wrote. Most of the points on which he tries to fault me are of detail, often trivial, and his hope is clearly that if he can put enough small cuts into my reputation for reliability, then faith in it will leak away.”

There’s much more, so those interested in this debate should download and read the whole thing. I must say that I share Hutton’s dream of a consensual picture of Pagan history based on primary sources, made in conjunction with Pagan writers and outside scholars, rather than “a number of mutually hostile sects, with different versions of history centered on rival writers,” or generational-based “acrimonious division.” Here’s hoping that our future is one of cooperation and collaboration instead of deepening divisions or impassible generational shibboleths. For even more on this topic, The Pomegranate also features a formal review of Whitemore’s book by Peg Aloi, and  Chas Clifton tackles yet another “grandmother story.” For all of my coverage of Whitmore’s work, click here.

Other Community Notes:

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Jason Pitzl-Waters

Posts

  • Brenda Daverin

    While Hutton has his own issues, not the least being an allergy to Celtic material being seen as valid when sourced from Celtic scholars instead of outsiders, Triumph was hardly a badly researched book. It was refreshing to see Wicca framed outside of the false Celtic roots so many continue to assign it even now, and he didn't deny possible ancient roots so much as demonstrate how impossible it is to prove there are any. And there is nothing, I mean NOTHING, wrong with practicing a newer faith that calls upon older gods so long as you admit that's what you're doing. Those who insist they have to be in an unbroken line to a non-existent matriarchal prehistory are being rightfully relegated to the fringe. Hutton's contribution to that is one of the best things to come along in years.

    • "Those who insist they have to be in an unbroken line to a non-existent matriarchal prehistory are being rightfully relegated to the fringe. Hutton's contribution to that is one of the best things to come along in years."

      Indeed. Ronald Hutton, more than anyone else, is personally responsible for promoting this straw man argument, and also for promoting the thuggish attitude of wishing to "relegate to the fringe" anyone who doesn't accept the Huttonian Dispensation.

    • Hear, hear. Hutton also has a terrible case of intellectual snobbery and academic exclusionary lack of vision. He doesn't like getting his hands dirty by talking to "primary sources" of genuinely older Pagan traditions, whom he seems to view as "the great unwashed". I've talked to many people who practice a syncretic folkloric magio-religion. They DO exist. Hutton discounts them, as they don't come from a scholarly source… yet he seems almost afraid to seek out blue-collar pre-Christian religions.

  • Hutton starts out his article by once again repeating his assertion that the "founding claim" of Wicca was "bound up indissolubly" with faulty historical claims. Hutton specifically refers to Gardner's book Witchcraft Today, but fails to state plainly where in that book, or anywhere else, that Gerald Gardner makes the "founding claim" that Hutton attributes to him.

    The simple fact is that Gardner was quite circumspect about making specific historical claims. In Witchcraft Today he acknowledges a variety of influences, ranging from the Stone Age, to classical antiquity, to the Renaissance, and also more recent sources. At one point Gardner even states flatly, on the subject of these influences, "but this is all guesswork on my part."

    Gardner also explicitly rejects the idea that Wicca was "directly descended from the Northern European culture of the Stone Age, uninfluenced by anything else," although he acknowledges that at one time he himself had believed that.

    • Cleverly, Gardner let other people make that claim for him while he maintained "plausible deniability."

      He solicited an introduction to WITCHCRAFT TODAY, which he pretended was an anthropological work, from Professor Margaret Murray, the chief proponent of "ancient Pagan survival."

      In her very first sentence, she credits Gardner with discovered in ancient Paganism in modern Britain: "In this book Dr. [sic] Gardner states that he has found in various parts [!] of England people who still practice the same rites as the so-called 'witches' of the Middle Ages."

      And she goes on.

      You don't have to make the historical claim if you can get someone else with better credentials to make based on your "discovery."

      As Aidan Kelly pointed out in the 1990s, Gardner maintained close control of information about the alleged New Forest Coven—all accounts of it trace back to him.

  • John Deltuvia

    We may not have a "direct insight in the matter" with the memorial DVD. But we certainly have something from which insight can be derived: http://www.neopagan.net , on which there are links to sell books authored by Isaac (and there's no indication the publishers are putting the books together for free), amulets designed by Isaac (I doubt the jewelry maker is making the amulets and sending all monies received to Isaac's estate), his CDs and lecture tapes (and although ACE gets a little behind sometimes, I doubt they're doing it for free), and finally his graphic designs handled by Cafe Press (and anyone who's dealt with them as a distributor knows they charge a good deal for production and distribution.)

    In short: it's clear that during Isaac's lifetime he had no problem with production costs being recouped, and they still are recouped on the items still available. (Pre-production alone for a DVD can run near $4K.) With that in mind, I can't see how he'd expect ADF to beggar itself to get copies of his memorial service out to interested people who don't have broadband. The price could likely be lowered if they ordered it in bulk, but then they'd have to invest a good deal of money to do so. Perhaps if anyone is really concerned about the DVDs getting out to people without broadband and who cannot afford the fee, they might start a donation fund to cover costs for people who want it but can't afford to pay the fee.

    • This is endemic in my own little community — Why is it so many Pagans expect to be given something for free? THAT is a dishonorable mentality. Creating videos and mailing them costs money. This is not yet a welfare state. So tired of people with a mouthful of gimme and a handful of much obliged. Pagans, please realize that money is not evil, that work is honorable, and that paying artisans for their work is FAIR.

    • elnigma

      It didn't sound like "news" to me, more like a family squabble, like people do over who should inherit the fancy dishes. it's sad.

  • The video is free on YouTube? Ok, so I know the point of making the DVD was as a memorial keepsake, and ADF wants to recoup money for the production, but anyone can download a YouTube video to their hard drive, and they can burn it, if they have a burner. Go to http://www.dvdvideosoft.com/ and download the free YouTube converters. I've used them for years, they're easy to use, and I've never had a problem with trojans or anything. Anyone can email me, if they need help with it. Catch me on Facebook for it.

    • vanye111

      And unfortunately, that doesn't work for people on dial up (which, believe it or not, is still fairly common, espeically in rural America).

      • ceworthe

        Also, the DVD is the ENTIRE memorial, not just what is on YouTube

    • It also does not work well for those of us on internet satellite. Downloading a DVD can take days, if it doesn't time-out halfway thru.

  • As for Hutton -he doesn't impress me. He clearly doesn't understand the symbiotic relationship between spirituality/religion and society, he doesn't understand how aspects of one culture can make it into another culture, and he seems to be under the impression that belief in the gods, to say nothing of ritual, began in Europe. He needs to get out more.

  • Druidwood

    Bonewits also made some claims when it came to what Gardner boasted as well.

    • True. But Bonewits did this as a Pagan in dialogue with other Pagans, while primarily devoting his energy and time and heart and soul to building our community.

      • Druidwood

        As was stated above just because one is a pagan doesn’t mean that one doesn’t understand said topic.

  • As someone helping with PSG Media Camp, it will be awesome. I invite all bloggers, podcasters, vidcasters and anyone interested in this stuff either as a reader/listener/viewer or interested in getting into this stuff to come stop by. We're hosting a few official PSG workshops and hope this will be a great experience for everyone while allowing those that prefer to remain anonymous/in the closet to remain so.

    Anyone interested in PSG Media Camp should check us out on Facebook soon as we're going to have a meeting before PSG to make sure the Pagan media are all aware of the laws of Illinois as they relate to media and Circle Sanctuary's guidelines and our own guidelines that we adhere to so there are no "accidental outings" of anyone in the closet.:
    https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=1627339104

    • My daughter, Rhiannon Aldag, will be there representing Magickal-Media. Wonderful news!

  • I'm a little shocked to hear that ToR is closing – I've been so impressed with the tradition, community, and infrastructure that Drew Jacob built that I can't say I entirely understand why it's closing. Of course I can appreciate that Mr. Jacob is always free to go his own way and do what he will (as are any of us), but I can't say that understand why he's closing the temple and disbanding the religious community he helped form. If his motivation is to live a heroic life, I don't know why he can't leave the temple and his community-at-large in the hands of his more capable students. I guess I'm confused – are there any more details on why Mr. Jacob is closing everything completely?

    EDIT: I've read and re-read the interview posted above, but it still seems rather vague. How does on quantify another's spiritual progress? I'm not a member of ToR and am not impacted by Mr. Jacob's decision, but I have to say it feels like a death in the community to hear that one of the most well-established polytheist organizations in the United States is suddenly closing doors.

    • RoguePriest

      That's a fair question Highway Hermit. I'll do my best to answer.

      It's not about me leaving, it's about the work the Temple does. Its programs aren't helping people radically change their lives. The format doesn't support that, it supports a church-like structure where people come for an event and then go back to their life for business as usual. Putting someone else in charge of the same programs with the same format wouldn't change that.

      I did discuss with the students their taking over the administration of the Temple. We worked on that possibility for months. There were challenges but I'm confident we could've passed it on to new leadership one way or another. But it became clear that none of them have the the time and capacity to work on a complete restructure of the Temple. Without that key aspect–a change in the structure itself to serve people's real spiritual needs–it just wouldn't be doing everything I feel a spiritual institution should do.

      A temple must be more than just a community meeting place; it must be a hub of change. I believe religion's place is to help people find their purpose, take charge of their lives and pursue their happiness. Some of our key members found that the Temple was not helping that happen, and it was time to re-evaluate whether we were actually serving our mission as an organization.

      Ultimately, I don't believe an organization should keep running if it's not doing amazing work to help people. So, we have chosen to close the doors on a high note. We're proud of the work we've done, but it's time to do new and better work.

      I hope that helps people understand our decision. Many thanks to all who have been supportive through this process!

  • Summary of first two items: People using the name “Druid” argue a lot.

  • Janet Farrar

    Re: Whitmore V's Hutton
    Here we must decide whether as a pagan community we wish to believe myth or whether we wish to believe truth. As a well established academic Professor Ronald Hutton clearly stands on the side of truth. He is well know internationally, and academically as an authority on 16th/17th British history. Being a personal friend, as he is to many witches and pagans in the UK, we can say that he certainly isn't anti-pagan; quite the reverse. We agree with his search for the truth when it comes to the history of modern witchcraft. If we do not dispell the 'mistruths' of the past then we will inevitably remain divided as a community and face going down the path that early christian society went down, that of persecution of those who differ on the established view. To avoid this we cannot build our own house on sand, as we would if we built it purely on myth. We must build it on the rock of truth, even if it means painfully re-evaluating our origins. But then most of us who came into traditional wicca in the 1960's and '70's all faced the question 'are you willing to suffer to learn'.

  • Are not Pagan Reporters just as valid as Pagan academicians? We often see evidence of ongoing older pre-Christian traditions, because we actually get out and interact with their practitioners.

    The average Joe or Jane who practices a neo-Pagan or an oldline, folkloric religion has been damaged by Dr. Hutton's assertion that modern Paganism hasn't any historic basis, whatsoever. Often average Joe or Jane is discriminated against by those in the mainstream, who seek to invalidate our faiths because they haven't documented historic value, on paper. Could this be because the Overculture actively sought to obliterate our histories?

    Dr. Hutton and other scholars have caused this problem by ignoring valid primary sources of existing magio-religions. Perhaps Pagan Reporters can undo the damage by seeking and discussing genuinely older Pagan traditions.

  • Gareth Thomas

    I know Whitmore, he was part of the Otago University Pagan network (now defunct) at the time (give or take a year) that Triumph of the moon came out. I like him (though I knew him under his "craft name" first then his real name second). He is not an unbiased source on this. As an Alexandrian (or claiming to be so) high priest, Uncle Alex did not come off very well in Triumph, or in Isaac's book on the history of Wicca, while that should not invalidate the worth of the path, many Alexandrians see it as an attack. It's no more an attack than what the Druidry community gets from other parts of it's self (ADF is not real Druid says groupZ, OBOD are just merchants says the "ArchDruid of Ireland" (a less than credible source).

    Basically Neo and Meso Paganism is in it's teens at best, and is posturing for position in many places. It's as if one has to be "legitimate" to be accepted. However what is legit? No seriously. We need to concentrate on being spiritual, and not who's lineage is longer.

    • If you want to claim that Whitmore is biased, then back it up. Otherwise you are just adding more heat and less light, to put it very politely. An individual's adherence to a particular tradition does not automatically make that individual "biased" one way or another, just to state what should be, but evidently is not, obvious.

      Also, Whitmore is completely up front about being an Alexandrian, so it's pretty freaking lame to make an issue out of it as if you were telling people something that wasn't already well known.

      • Gareth Thomas

        I'm going to ask if you have actually read his self published book or interacted with him? I've done both. Given the discussions the Pagan network had over Triumph of the moon (which involved him) I can say he is biased. I can't "back it up" beyond being there, and knowing what was said. We did not record the meetings.

        I've read both Triumph of the Moon and Whitmore's books. I am also an academic (in another discipline), I'd also add Ronald Hutton is not the only, nor was he the first to make the claims in Triumph. One of the first was ISaac Bonewits, founder of ADF (the group I belong too) and a Wiccan. Apparently it is "ok" for an insider to question, but outsiders not to? If that is the case, Pagans can not question what other faiths say and do either, that is being honest and open, but I strongly doubt that is the case.

        In the end Ben's book is not that well researched, and does not discredit Huttons. Simply put if Mr Whitmore wishes to play this game, he leaves himself open to being put under the spot light himself, and as such, he IS biased, as anyone who reads his work would understand. I stand by my statement.

        Slan leat

  • chuck_cosimano

    And it just made me feel really old.

  • Looking up to get you a reference from a discussion on Patheos and a related blog article, I came to realize it was these two on the same dang topic.

    Regarding the Contemporary Pagan Studies Group, are any papers (specifically for/from this event) or recordings from this event available to non-academics who cannot make it to San Francisco? I ask because the website looks a bit spartan: http://www.aarweb.org/meetings/annual_meeting/pro

    I may eventually go in 2012, but my travel schedule is rather busy till mid-2012 as it is :).

    If they don't yet have recordings yet (which the website seems to imply), I'll gladly lend recording equipment that is small and simple to use, handle shipping both ways and I'll handle all the post-production to make it freely available (Creative Commons Sharealike Non-Commercial).

    • There used to be a company that recorded sessions and then sold the recordings on cassette tapes, but they seem to have gone out of business. Cassette sales were falling, I suppose.

      The best way to get a copy of a paper is to contact the presenter directly and ask nicely. Perhaps you could get an interview that way too.

      The 2012 meeting will be in Chicago, probably at the Hilton on Michigan Avenue.

  • Well, these responses from Hutton and Aloi have been about the worst I could have imagined, though they were not entirely unforseen. I intend to submit a reply shortly.

    @Janet: I heartily agree that we must "dispell the 'mistruths' of the past", avoid the "persecution of those who differ on the established view" and be "willing to suffer to learn". I'm not sure if you intended these phrases the way I read them, but to me they seem apt. I believe that Hutton and I are both sincerely attempting to find truth, and as such I refuse to see him as an adversary, except in the very limited sense that our views on certain areas of history differ.

    @Gareth: I don't recall going by my "craft name" at the OUPN — it was an internet moniker that I as a rule never used offline. I'm not much of a one for hiding. Your speculations about my having a chip on my shoulder over Alex Sanders' treatment are way off mark. I have repeatedly reiterated that I am not trying to (re)establish old lineages for any modern group. For me this is not about establishing whose lineage is longer, or in any way defending my 'spiritual turf'; it is about establishing an accurate historical account. Those who know me know that I am not arrogant about lineage, sect or religion.

    • Just in case anyone misinterprets me, I'm not insinuating that Hutton must be willing to "suffer to learn"– I was more thinking of the hostile attention I have gained through publishing this book, and feeling a certain fatalism around it. I knew the potential it could have for causing injury to both Hutton and me, and I certainly didn't relish that possibility. But I could hardly not publish.

      • Fritz Muntean

        Dear Ben,
        I think the replies you made to Hutton's interview on Caroline Tully's blogsite &lt ;http://necropolisnow.blogspot.com/> were well-mannered, courteous, deferential and gracious. You might consider publishing them more widely. They do you considerable credit — especially in contrast to the responses of the more established and predictable anti-Hutton hard cases, who felt called upon to wax even more disagreeable, churlish, and insolent than usual. 'Mischief managed', as the Weasley brothers would say, and nicely so. Good for you!

        • I have yet to read Whitmore's book, but it is on my summer reading list… precisely because his comments, as I've encountered them in various places, stand in contrast to other Hutton critics rallying round the book. Whitmore appears to be willing to allow his book to speak for itself, without the need to attack others' honesty, integrity, or reputations.

          Of course, it's perfectly possible to be a good scholar and a mean-spirited S.O.B. But as an outsider to the field, I don't feel the need to waste my time with the work of people who come across that way in public. Those who are polite enough to me, as their reader, and to their critics, to simply pose an argument and let it speak have my respect, whether or not I come to agree with their ideas.

      • Fritz Muntean

        Re: "But I could hardly not publish."
        I may be elderly, but I'm very much a junior scholar (MA in Religious Studies, from an ESU). Whenever I feel the overwhelming need to write an article — especially one that's bound to stir up strong sentiments — I've learned to run the contents past another scholar for suggestions and critiques. The trick, of course, is to NOT ask such a favour of a fellow true believer. The results have done wonders, not only for my own long-term piece of mind, but also for the peace and stability of the broader Pagan community.

    • Gareth Thomas

      Ben, to be fair you sold it to us as your craftname, and wanted to be referred to as that. Given my internet nickname (Noinden) is not a craft name, I did not expect the same, indeed I don't like being referred to as that. I will be honest your book comes across as defensive, and does not hold up to academic standards. I base my observations, on observations. I've read more accounts that agree with Prof. Hutton than those which agree with yours. Indeed several US Alexandrians I've talked to, and done ritual with, like his work, and see the positive side of what that history brings. While Ronald's works are not perfect (and he admits this) they are light years ahead of the other works which rely on trusting Uncles Gerry and Alex (and even Uncle Ross).

      In todays world it's time for neopagans, and mesopagans to drop the mythohistory, and accept the history of our paths. Perhaps it's the reconstructionist celt, and ADF member in me saying that? I prefer to be the truth against the world, than the "don't question the past" that others still pull out to "end" arguments.

  • OK…maybe the system is putting the semicolon in there?

  • Henry Buchy

    OMG!! WTF!!! ROFLMFAO!!!
    Not necessarily in that order. lol

  • Cathryn Bauer

    I do not see anything tasteless in the ADF's actions. I believe they are providing a service in making the DVD available, one that no doubt provides comfort to those who were unable to be present. I have no doubt the DVD was meaningful and helpful to a great many who were strongly influenced by Isaac Bonewits. I can only speculate as to Deborah Lipp's motives and to the sincerity of her claim that this is exploitation.

    And no, it does not seem unreasonable at all to charge for this. Expenses are inevitable. Ask anyone who's ever had a book published. The requests for copies are inevitably legion, not taking into account that after a certain amount of copies sent to you gratis, you need to pay for author's copies. I see the ADF in a similar position here.

    I don't see exploitation, just a good and trustworthy intention coupled with practicality.

  • @PCPPodcast: "I think the major exception to this rule has been P. Sufenas Virus Lupus who participates in the Pagan media but has a scholarly background AND is willing to engage in discourse with us in comments to the articles he writes (and also those others write) :)."

    I would encourage you to also strongly consider the important role of independent Pagan scholars (as opposed to just those with University gigs). I am not talking about the average know-it-all-Pagan-with-a-blog, rather I mean people who have made substantial contributions that are widely recognized by our community: like Don Frew, Max Dashu, Raven Grimassi, Philip Heselton, etc. This list also now includes Ben Whitmore, in my opinion. These are scholars who, one might say, "walk between the worlds" by engaging seriously with contemporary mainstream scholarship while still writing as Pagans for a Pagan audience (although not exclusively for Pagans).

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    But academia and the Pagan community have information leaks between them. Hard to be out in one and broom-closeted in the other.

  • Erynn: "You'd think that when he's replying to the Pagan community, though, he might be a little more forthcoming."

    Hutton chooses to keep his religious beliefs private, and that should be respected. Religion is, after all, the most intimate of all private matters.

    One thing to keep in mind is that people often undergo significant changes in their religious views over the course of years and decades. That by itself is a strong motivation for anyone in the public view to keep such matters private, because otherwise you would constantly have to "update" everyone on the latest course corrections in your path, which I imagine would get extremely tiresome. And even when our basic views don't change, our way of articulating them constantly evolves. How many of us still have the same way of describing ourselves religiously as we had when Trials of the Moon was first published?

  • elnigma

    A person can set up a pagan temple space in a room or place you have the space

  • Bookhousegal

    And, you know, if there's a 'myth' around our 'founding,' I think my favorite is the idea that there were British 'Witches' scramming the Nazis at one point or another.

    Relly don't even *care* if if 'happened,' cause that's what they say about a myth: A Myth is Something that may have never happened, but is always true.' Claiming the 'truth' of that is something you can dig up or dispute is a game for Christians, really. It's just one of those things: It doesn't *matter,* as a *myth,* it's alive *every day.*

    Maybe it's part of some myth where Gerald Gardner saw the world he knew laid waste and cast a spell to try and make the world better. Maybe he was some kind of con tried to cast a spell to make the world better, and maybe, too, when he did so, Someone was on the other end of the line, not complaining about Margaret Murray.

    Maybe…. It worked.

    Maybe…. That's OK. Maybe this is an implausible, desperate, vital, living, venture, and that's *exactly* why the Gods seem to pick hard cases like ourselves to try and wake something up. Maybe we need our myths. And not just dusty ones, maybe we need living ones and we need to accept that neither is 'myth' a dirty word nor does it make us 'lesser' than those who *made* it a dirty word.

    Maybe we better live mythically, cause getting home's gonna be epic, honey.

    Maybe, too, we're closer to home than some will say.

    *Maybe* ….some of this stuff worked.

    Wouldn't that be interesting. 😉

    If I've got a problem with Hutton, it's his plaintive assertions that if only he accepts the judgment of sources he should *know* whose hands they were in for so long and 'academically' claimed to support the notion of our nonexistence…. by someone else's standards… Including some assertion that in our now *millions* there's some big problem of taking Margaret Murray *literally* …He's *wrong.* In trying to be accepted as an 'academic' he's implying things which simply *aren't true.* *He* hangs more on a certain set of sources than pretty much anyone I know, at least who does more than complain about presumed 'fluffbunnies.'

    Maybe he doesn't want to be but feels forced. A man don't dress like Dr. Who if he don't know how to think figuratively about modern myths. 🙂

  • Jonathan

    I can't get over the incredible aura of respectability that surrounds Hutton, no matter how poor his analysis gets. I think he's been a ticket to respectability for many pagans who want to disassociate themselves from popular narratives of pagan history. That's why we're all so quick to jump to his defense.

    It's like we're all saying, "look at me, i'm not a fluffy bunny…i read SOLID research by an OFFICIAL member of the academy." Anyone who criticizes him is painted as a Murrayite. And this has turned any legitimate discussion into a total farce.

    Jason dreams of a "future of cooperation and collaboration". But some voices are just not being heard at all. It's hard to "collaborate" with someone who insists, that if his personal thesis is undermined, "then Pagan witches can go back to believing whatever they did before I wrote. " This all-or-nothing, black-and-white manipulative posturing needs to be criticized before the discussion can move forward.

    On a more personal note, I'm rather insulted that these arguments about history are often seen through a lens of "old guard vs. new guard". You see, I'm a very young pagan. I came to this movement without any illusions regarding the old "foundation myths". But I just disagree with Hutton's extremely orthodox approach to history. Then, when he tries to defend himself, he gets incredibly whiny, and he betrays his prejudices. The more he writes, and the more his fans write, the more convinced I am that he is seriously due for some harsh criticism.

    • It is sad that for many Pagans, Hutton has become the de facto "gatekeeper" (in its modern/metaphorical sense) with respect to historical scholarship. But there is a whole universe of scholarship that one would never know about if one takes Hutton's works as a starting point and primary reference point. And even the subset of literature that Hutton does address he consistently misrepresents.

      I mean seriously, the man literally does not even know what the word "Witch" means! And when he insists the his "definition" of Witch is based on "anthropology", what he really means is that it is based on the writings of one anthropologist who studied one small (and in many ways atypical) population in Africa, and who published his findings in 1937.

      • elnigma

        Please try to present societies' current definition of witch and witchcraft -not just what some pagans say is their definition, but how society can tell a witch. (Not: Do they float like a duck?)

        • The English word "Witch" is used in a variety of ways. For the most part the many different variations of its meaning can all be documented going back to at least the 16th century, when Reginald Scot wrote his "The Discoverie of Witchcraft". The same spectrum of meanings is also found for "Hexe" (German), "Strega" (Italian), "Bruja" (Spanish), "Sorciere" (French), and other European languages.

          In the case of "Witch", there is no question whatsoever that it has been used to refer to people who perform beneficial magic, including especially magical healing. This is verified not only by the work of Reginald Scot, but also that of William Perkins, the unkown author of the account of the trial of John Palmer (written in 1649, titled "The Divels Delusions"), Thomas Ady, Cotton Mather, Walter Scott, and many other authors.

    • Henry

      Old guard and new guard are not so much aligned on chronology(age) as much as methodology/ ideology/perspective.