Pagan Community Notes: Lupa, Deborah Lipp, Trish Telesco, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 3, 2013 — 34 Comments

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing 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 let’s get started!

A Farewell to Therianthropy: Pagan and neo-shamanic practitioner Lupa, author of books like “New Paths to Animal Totems” and  “Skin Spirits,” has announced that she’s letting her book “A Field Guide to Otherkin” go out of print. In the announcement she explains that she feels the resources in the book have become dated, that it isn’t up to her current standards, and that she has stopped identifying herself as Otherkin.

Lupa

Lupa

“So now here I am in 2013, and I have a confession to make: I no longer identify as a therianthrope, and I haven’t for quite some time. I’ve sat with that reality for a while, checking in with myself and making sure it wasn’t just a phase. But no, it just doesn’t fit any more; it’s not a framework that explains me. There’s still a piece of me that I feel resonates more with wolf than human, but at this point I don’t think it’s anything more than a bit of creative personal narrative, part of the ongoing myth I tell about myself. For me, the wolf is a metaphor, a piece of spirituality internalized. Sure, I’ve always leaned toward the personal mythology hypothesis of “what are Otherkin”, but the idea that I am fundamentally not human on some level just doesn’t fit. I am a human animal, 100%, just with a particular connection to the idea of “wolfness”. Call it an inner connection to my totem, or a super-charged “favorite animal”; either of those fit me better than “therian”, or “shifter”, or any of the other terms that set animal-people apart from humanity as a whole.”

The book will officially go out of print on the first of May. As the sole book devoted only to Otherkin, it has been repeatedly cited by scholars interested in the subject. The latest edition of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions featured two articles on Otherkin/Therianthropy and Pagan scholar Chas Clifton noted that both heavily relied on Lupa’s “A Field Guide to Otherkin.” You can read an interview I conducted with Lupa about the book, here.

The Life of a High Priestess: Deborah Lipp, author of several books on Wicca and magical practice, including “The Study of Witchcraft: A Guidebook to Advanced Wicca” and “The Way of Four Spellbook: Working Magic with the Elements” has written a memoir about her life as a High Priestess, and the relationships she formed over the years with people like Isaac Bonewits (to whom she was once married), Scott Cunningham, and Timothy Leary. In a guest post at Llewellyn’s blog, Lipp discusses why she wrote “Merry Meet Again: Lessons, Life & Love on the Path of a Wiccan High Priestess.”

Isaac Bonewits and Deborah Lipp at Starwood, 1987

Isaac Bonewits and Deborah Lipp at Starwood, 1987

“Why did I do this? My book was, in part, an outcome of bereavement counseling: When my ex-husband, Isaac Bonewits, was in the last days of his life, and after he died, I found myself looking back on my years with him in a way that cried out for organization, and I organize myself by writing. In part, because my path to Paganism is a path that is at risk of being forgotten: The pre-Internet, deeply closeted, ‘is there anyone out there?’ years are no more, and a journey that was meaningful to many thousands of people risks being treated as fiction. I wanted to document it. I capped off my book with my fiftieth birthday; it felt like a bookend; it felt apropos.”

I am personally excited by this development because I’m an on-the-record advocate for our elders recording their stories, their histories, whether that be in book form, or via recorded interviews. Llewellyn’s recent foray into publishing memoirs and remembrances, like Donald Michael Kraig’s short e-book about his friend, the author Scott Cunningham, is a welcome trend. One that I hope continues. The better documented our past, the better we can understand the forces that have shaped our community into what it is today. I look forward to reading Lipp’s book.

Author Raises Money to Cover Family Medical Expenses: Trish Telesco, author of several Pagan and magical titles, including “How To Be A Wicked Witch” and “Which Witch Is Which?: A Concise Guide to Wiccan and Neo-Pagan Paths and Traditions” is raising funds after her husband was diagnosed with an unexpected tumor on his brain stem.

Trish Telesco

Trish Telesco

“My husband went to the hospital Monday with what we thought was a blood pressure issue. By Weds. he was in brain surgery for a tumor on his brain stem. There is no question that the expense for this procedure will go way beyond what we can pay in a lifetime (or two). I couldn’t even figure out a goal amount. I am trying to set up a fund that will be used ONLY for the medical co-pays.”

That fundraiser was started in September, but the surgeries and tests continue. According to public posts at her Facebook profile there have been some positive developments, but the fiscal problems will be an ongoing issue even after the hospital stay is over. Until America has a real medical social safety net, people’s lives will be thrown into fiscal crisis whenever a major medical problem emerges, and this is but one close-to-home example. If Trish Telesco’s books and work have brought something to your life consider giving back by donating to the medical fund.

In Other Community News:

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Signed and shared the petition for the protection of Hellenic practitioners in Greece. I think that it is a very important thing that countries protect their own heritage in such a fashion.

    I have Lupa’s book. It is an interesting read. I always thought it was a shame that there is not more published material on the subject. Not a huge fan of the term ‘Otherkin’ (sounds too LARP-ish for me to take seriously), but I have to identify as such as I have felt ‘other’ for as long as I can remember.

    • cernowain greenman

      They now have 550+ signatures, including mine. They only need 200 more to reach their goal of 750. If Greece wants to stay in the EU, they need to embrace religious freedom as well.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        Honestly, don’t think Greece should stay in the EU. I say that in the best possible intent, as I also think that the UK needs to get out, too.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        And mine.

    • Nick Ritter

      I’ve signed as well, and I think your point about countries protecting their heritage in this way is spot on.

  • Guest

    Go Lupa. :)
    Swift full healing wished for Trish Telesco’s husband. BB

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I would love to see (even on video) a Hellenismos ceremony in the Acropolis.

  • BryonMorrigan

    I’m a Heathen and a Left-Anarchist…but I lost all faith in Circle Ansuz’s objectivity when they continued to defend Antifa magazine “Searchlight”, when it was pointed out to them that their recent article dealing with racist Heathens had unfairly tarred FaceBook group “The Northern Grove” (run by a fairly Liberal Heathen) as being associated with racism.

    After an onslaught of emails and comments from concerned and angry Left-Leaning Heathens defending The Northern Grove, Searchlight withdrew the article…but Circle Ansuz continued to defend the article, and has not retreated from their position.

    Methinks they care more about being true to Antifa than the Gods…

    • Charles Cosimano

      “Racist” is just leftspeak for “you don’t agree with us.” It’s something to be ignored.

      • BryonMorrigan

        You mean the Ku Klux Klan is just an organization with which Leftists disagree?

        Yes, Antifa groups have a near pathological tendency to see “Nazis” whenever anyone even displays a rune in a band’s name or something…but that does not mean that there is no such thing as racism…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

      Did you read their replies or the Searchlight article in question? There is no statement in there which claims Northern Grove is a racist group, the only way you could draw that conclusion is care of one poorly worded sentence which did not accuse Northern Grove of being racist. You might also want to be more specific in what they were saying in reply.

      Having seen the thread it sounds to me like you are projecting a disagreement over posting a link onto the article in today’s post. Is there anything specifically wrong with the piece Jason mentioned? Is any of the evidence questionable? Is it faulty? Are there any outright fabrications? You are making a pretty tall claim by asserting they have no credibility based on what seems to be a disagreement over posting a specific article.

      I have to ask, as an anarchist myself who is fairly active in the Bay Area anarchist scene, why you are so insistent on referring to yourself as a Left Anarchist? You’re probably the first anarchist I’ve seen online or off who is so persistent in using that terminology when most I’ve met don’t.

      • BryonMorrigan

        Why? Because some people assume that “Anarchist” + “Heathen” = “National Anarchist.” I’ve seen quite a few Heathens over the past few months get upset with Circle Ansuz, but I continued to give them the benefit of the doubt until the Northern Grove incident.

        And yeah, while it certainly looks like the guy in question has Fascist leanings, I question the veracity of determining things about a person based on Facebook. Plenty of people “like” or become “friends” with people/things in order to debate them, for example.

        • Ryan

          Having read the article in question they use more evidence than just Facebook posts. Parry says quite a few things that misrepresent Heathenry

          • BryonMorrigan

            Yes, they do. I already conceded that the person in question (who I’d never heard of before this article) seems to have some “questionable” leanings…).

            But the idea of going around snooping on someone’s FaceBook profile, particularly by using their “likes” as some sort of “evidence”, seems quite Orwellian to me. I’ve “liked” just about every Pagan or Heathen page that I come across…and every so often, someone will say to me, “Dude…Bryon…you need to unlike Such-And-Such. They’re really a bunch of a-holes!”, and usually I check and find out that they’re correct, and I “unlike” the page.

            Hell, every Conservative on the Internet seems to have “liked” pages like “Barack Obama” and “Being Liberal” for the sole purpose of trolling those pages…but it’s not “evidence” of them actually approving of their content.

            In fact, I myself have “friended” many Right-Wing Heathens on FaceBook for the sole purpose of having MY updates show up in THEIR feeds. (Subversive Outreach! LOL) I do such things all the time, and usually get “unfriended” at some point…but it’s not “evidence” that I’m “endorsing” their views.

            I mean, do we all need to go “sanitize” our FaceBook profiles to make sure that some group isn’t spying on us and putting us on a “List”? I’d expect such behavior from the State…but not from Anarchist Heathens…

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

            I really hate to say this but it sounds like the obvious question needs to be asked:

            Did you read the article?

            They use quite a bit more evidence than Facebook posts to make their case. To claim all they used was that comes across to me as a mistake made in ignorance or, if you read it, deliberate misrepresentation. They used other sources, including him working at a racist forum and giving a talk to another racist, overtly fascist forum including a rather long video clip.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

          I also can honestly say I have NEVER had that problem. Ever. I don’t know what the scene is like out in your neck of the woods but I know quite a few Pagan and Heathen anarchists, none of them have had problems with people assuming Heathen+anarchist=National Anarchist. I’d imagine the only reason people would make that assumption is if you did or said something to raise suspicion and give that impression. As I said in the previous reply below the article contains more evidence than just Facebook posts and screencaps.

          • BryonMorrigan

            I’m referring to the Interwebz, where it seems more common, and where the most outspokenly political Heathens often seem to be promoting Right-Wing garbage. But “thanks” for implying that I’m a Fascist. It kinda reminds me of how Searchlight implied that Northern Grove was racist…because they made an overtly anti-racist statement…

          • anon

            heathenry doesnt take place on the internet.

          • BryonMorrigan

            No, Heathenry doesn’t take place on the Internet…but these discussions do, and that’s what we’re talking about. Of course, that was really “brave” of you…making that anonymous comment like that, Sport.

          • anon

            also if your being confused with Nationalists, your probably a shitty anarchist. and also the first “left” anarchist to oppose antifascist actions. So much for the natural enemy of the working class right? your a joke.

          • BryonMorrigan

            What a brave, brave, man you must be!

            There’s a difference between “opposing Anti-Fascism”, which I don’t…and opposing Antifa groups targeting people and groups who AREN’T FASCIST, like The Northern Grove. If you have “evidence” that The Northern Grove is racist, Fascist, etc., then please present it.

            The only person here who is a “joke” is the one who apparently can neither read not write with any competence…and who is too much of a coward to even bother doing so without hiding behind anonymity.

            Also, your entire premise is a complete “joke.” You say that anyone “being confused with Nationalists” is probably a “shitty anarchist,” while also acknowledging in another post that we Heathens are always being confused with Nazis! Do you not see the cognitive dissonance in stating positions that are 100% contrary to each other?

          • BryonMorrigan

            You know what?

            I’m gonna take a step back now. This argument isn’t helping anyone, except maybe the Nazis and other Right-Wingers, who are likely getting a big kick out of seeing us argue.

            We (and this includes Ryan, “anon”, and Circle Ansuz) likely agree on just about everything, and it’s silly for us to be sniping at each other like this. I’ve gotten irritated a lot lately about the lack of Frith in our community, and I certainly haven’t helped with this conversation.

            I shouldn’t have brought my “beef” with Circle Ansuz here, and for that I apologize. I still have a problem with their use of FaceBook “likes” and such to incriminate people, but that’s no reason to get nasty. I think all of us look forward to the day where we no longer have to explain that we aren’t “Nazis” just because of our religion, and I just got a little angry over what happened with The Northern Grove.

            Mea Culpa.

          • anon

            i was unaware that CA wrote a hit piece on Northern Grove… link? oh ya, thats cause they didnt.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            One of the things I feel about (group) religion is that it should transcend politics and allow people to share faith regardless of other personal difference.

            Whilst I do not condone or support Nazi ideology, I have to admit that ‘Heathens are Nazis’ is less of an insult than ‘Catholic priests are Paedophiles’.

            To sum up, I believe it is entirely possible for people to acknowledge shared religious belief whilst having vastly opposed political views.

      • BryonMorrigan
    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      There are serious questions raised here, although one has to swim through a sea of leftoid gibberish to tease out any substance in the rantings of the Circle Ansuz screed. Most importantly, any Heathen or Pagan who has any association with “Counter Currents” is making a terrible error in judgement. There has been a lot of very loose talk recently about “crypto-fascists” trying to “infiltrate” Paganism. The problem is that “Counter Currents” is the real deal, not some dark fantasy dreamed up by Amy Hale and Jason Pitzl-Waters. The “Counter Currents” crowd really are fascists and racists (There is no “crypto” necessary for people who proclaim their goal to be “an explicitly white ethnostate“) and they really are trying to cultivate relationships with Pagans and Heathens, and, unfortunately, they really are having some success at it.

      Also, it is clear that no one at Circle Ansuz has made any effort to discuss this personally with David William Parry. To scream “David Parry: Neo-Fascist!” without having discussed the matter directly with the person being accused is cowardly and dishonorable. It also shows very questionable judgement to simply pass along such accusations without making any effort to find out what Parry has to say for himself in response to such accusations.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        I like to keep my religion and my politics separate, but I have to say that there does seem to be a lot of politics in Paganism.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

        When I first heard about Counter-Currents I was shocked. As someone who lives in San Francisco I’d have to say the LAST thing I expected to hear from anywhere is that there is an overtly fascist publisher in the city. Since then one of the people who worked there tried to get in contact with me and my community; if not for that post I wouldn’t have known either way.

        That said the situation of making an accusation without approaching Parry is a thorny, questionable situation at best. On one hand that approach is very much in line with the antifascist MO; having worked with some people in Occupy and since then who are involved in that stuff they like having the element of surprise so their prospective targets can’t disappear. On the other hand if they’re not careful it could turn into a Heathen inquisition which is good for no one.

        Either way at the bare minimum Parry needs to actually read about Heathenry before he talks about it in front of any audience. I personally take issue with anyone who claims my spiritual practice has no traditions or sources to base itself on, especially when they start mixing in stuff that’s not part of Heathen tradition in and calling it Heathen (ie the four elements stuff). If the only reason he was giving a speech at the London New Right was for outreach I take big issue with that; there’s some groups which quite frankly aren’t worth reaching out to and overt fascists like Counter-Currents and Troy Southgate. I’ve heard the excuse from some Heathens that you have to work with what you’ve got; I think if all you have is garbage then you need to find others to work with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ACFisherAldag A.c. Fisher-Aldag

    Sooo, let me get this straight: Deborah Lipp criticizes Phaedra Bonewitz and the ADF for publishing a DVD of Isaac Bonewitz’s funeral ceremonies, because the DVD cost money to purchase. Some of this money was used to recoup costs and pay bills… but Deborah as much as says it was capitalizing on Isaac, and his death, right??

    Now Deborah writes her own tell-all book, featuring Isaac. But THAT’s presumably not capitalizing on his death… right?

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      It’s not a “tell-all” book, it’s a memoir of her magical life, of which a significant part included her marriage to Isaac Bonewits. Is she supposed to not mention Isaac when writing about her own life?

      I think it’s sad that you’re taking it upon yourself to stir the drama-pot of a situation that, frankly, doesn’t concern you.

    • Guest

      Weddings and funerals often mean family drama. Being Pagan doesn’t make that less true.

  • anon

    good to see someone taking a swing at the douches who tout racist heathenry. By the way, how would Parry explain away his involvement? “I stumbled onto a fascist meeting and they asked me to speak about my made-the-fuck-up version of heathenry and then they asked if they could publish me… and run a tabling at another event… and i accidentally stumbled into other meetings…” The honorable thing to do was to out this moron. More of this needs to happen so heathens can be rid of the far right and racist associations that plague us as a group… If your not behind that idea, your probly part of the “tolerant” problem.

  • kittylu

    I hope someone picks up where Lupa left off with her otherkin work.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      It would be interesting. I am somewhat isolated from ‘otherkin’ culture, so I don’t know if there is anything out there beyond her book.

      My personal take on the concept is that souls have species and people identify with the original species of their soul (it’s a reincarnation concept tied in with a few other ideas I’ve had.)