Archives For AJ Drew

Top Story: Reuters is reporting that several Haitian Vodou priests are upset over the creation of anonymous mass graves, saying that it is a desecration which removes all dignity from death. Among those protesting was Max Beauvoir, the appointed “supreme master” of a coalition of Haitian houngans, who met with Haitian President Rene Preval over the matter.

“It is not in our culture to bury people in such a fashion,” Haiti’s main voodoo leader, Max Beauvoir, said in a meeting with Preval. Local radio is broadcasting messages for Haitians to put bodies recovered from under the rubble of collapsed buildings on the street for collection by garbage and other trucks. “The conditions in which bodies are being buried is not respecting the dignity of these people,” Beauvoir, who was educated at City College of New York and the Sorbonne in Paris, said in the Preval meeting this weekend.

Which brings us to the question of whether these anonymous mass graves are indeed a necessity. The Haitian Red Cross President Michaelle Amedee Gedeon says that disease risk is minimal, while the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says that anonymous mass graves are bad procedure that can worsen the tragedy.

“The belief that bodies pose a serious health threat often leads authorities to take misguided action, such as mass burials, which can add to the burden of suffering already experienced by survivors,” the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said. “The worst part of this is that these actions are taken without respecting the processes of identifying and preserving bodies, something that not only goes against cultural norms and religious beliefs but also has social, psychological, emotional, economic and legal consequences that add to the suffering directly caused by the disaster,” said PAHO … ICRC officials, who recommended only shallow ditches to cover the dead, said: “People need to be able to identify their relatives. It is important to at least take photographs of those being buried and to note any unique physical markings, like teeth and scars.” They cited the Asian tsunami of 2004 in which people were swiftly buried in mass graves or cremated. “We don’t want to repeat those mistakes,” the Red Cross said. But here in Port-au-Prince, fresh fatal errors are committed daily.

Despite the protests and the advice of various health organizations, some 50,000 dead are already lying in pits surrounding Port-au-Prince. Whether this policy will change with the influx of aid and volunteers remains to be seen. There is little to no Haitian government infrastructure left to guide aid efforts, and some may see the mass graves as a more efficient (and psychologically tolerable) solution in the short term.

In Other News: Over at Psychology Today, noted addiction psychologist Stanton Peele weighs in on Mass. Democratic candidate Martha Coakley’s involvement in the Fells Acre ritual abuse case.

“Whenever you mock the trials of witches in Salem, consider having an unrepentant witch hunter in the United States Senate.  Coakley is heavily backed by the Massachusetts Democratic Party, Ted Kennedy’s widow, and President Obama. So witch hunting can be a path to success. Perhaps these worthies are correct in supporting her – they are political people. But I couldn’t vote for Coakley (although I certainly don’t support Coakley’s opponent). Even if Coakley survives this election, however, her campaign has marked her as damaged political goods – something her behavior re “ritual child abuse” should have done, but failed to.”

The Overlawyered blog rounds up more blog and editorial commentary on Coakley relating to the Fells Acre case. Meanwhile, moderate conservative Andrew Sullivan seems to be leading the “Coakley is bad but Brown would be worse” charge at his blog (as are the Democratic partisan blogs, naturally). Though even he wonders if the “perfect storm” of resistance to Coakley can be turned aside. As I said before, I don’t envy the choices presented to Massachusetts voters.

Former Pagan author AJ Drew has apparently converted to Catholicism, and is in the midst of an ugly custody battle with his wife, who he is accusing of ongoing domestic (and possibly sexual) abuse. Here’s the relevant quote concerning his current religious status.

“I think it is fairly clear that religious discrimination can be added to sexual discrimination. In court, as if this were the 16th century, I have been accused of being a Witch. This either because several years ago I wrote some New Age titles or because today I am a practicing Catholic. I can not be sure why they are so concerned with my religious preferences, but the supervisor demanded that I tell her my religious preferences in court while she was testifying against my sanity. It was as if she felt all Catholics or members of other religions to which she does not subscribe are insane.”

As to the issues of abuse, and the custody of his children, I have no idea what the situation truly is. Nor do I feel inclined to venture a guess. Custody cases, especially ones where abuse is alleged, can be quagmires of competing narratives and claims, the results often pleasing no-one. You can read AJ Drew’s side of the story here, and here. Readers can follow up on them, or not, as they wish. As for further coverage here, it’s clear that a connection to the wider Pagan community is no longer desired by Drew (now going by Andrew Schlomann), so barring extraordinary circumstances, I’ll respect those wishes.

Turning briefly to Romanian politics, it seems that Social Democratic Party leader Mircea Geoana and his wife Mihaela Geoana have accused Romanian President Traian Basescu’s (of the Democratic Liberal Party) team on national television of using mystical attacks to win the recent elections.

“National paper Romania libera writes an op-ed on Monday headlined “Voodoo politics”, while TV news channels focused on debates on the “Violet flame mania”, referring to renewed accusations of mystical attacks by President Traian Basescu’s team against Mircea Geoana, his rival in the second round of presidential elections in December 2009. Romanian news agency Mediafax reported that last weekend Mircea Geoana said on Antena 3 news channel that he did not feel drained of energy during the last televised debate of the presidential elections. But while claiming these were childish excuses, he said Basescu was using the support of people with paranormal abilities who were present at the debate. Then, on Saturday, his wife Mihaela Geoana said Mircea Geoana was the target of malicious energy attacks during that debate, which would explain why he was “paralyzed” during parts of the discussion.”

Luckily, it doesn’t look like many are taking them very seriously, even fellow party members are mocking them. You can read more about the “violet flame conspiracy”, here, and here.

In a final note, today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The government thinks you should make this day a day of service, while others are reflecting on King’s legacy in the era of Obama. As for Americans United, they want to remind you of another dream King had, the dream of religious freedom.

“In a pluralistic society such as ours, who is to determine what prayer shall be spoken, and by whom? Legally, constitutionally or otherwise, the state certainly has no such right.”

They close with what King thought the true role of religious institutions in America were for.

“The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”

May all of King’s dreams for America, and the world, be fulfilled.

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

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.

The Marin Independent Journal reports that Jo Carson’s documentary film “Dancing With Gaia” has finally been completed and will be shown at the Fairfax Film Festival.

“An exploration of earth-based spirituality shot at sacred sites around the world, including Marin, the film will be shown for the first time at 2 p.m. April 5, a highlight of the 10th annual Fairfax Film Festival. A former Lucasfilm camera operator now working as nurse at Marin General Hospital, Carson traveled throughout Europe, the Mediterranean and the United States, filming the sacred sites of ancient earth-centered religions. She interviewed 15 visionaries along the way.It’s taken 20 years, but Jo Carson’s documentary, “Dancing with Gaia,” is at long last finished and ready for its world premiere.”

The film was inspired by Feraferia co-founder Fred Adams (who is also featured in the film), and features interviews with Pagan luminaries like Monica Sjoo, Cerridwen Fallingstar, and Kathy Jones. For those who can’t make it to a film festival showing, Carson says that there will be a DVD release out soon. Documentaries featuring Pagans are rare enough that I very much look forward to seeing this.

Did any of you catch the 200th episode of “CSI” last night? If so you were treated to an exorcist-haunted take (thanks to direction by William Friedkin) on Santeria (or was it Voodoo, the show is a bit hazy on that front) that manages to imply that the loa/orisha Ogun is some sort of evil demon (complete with subliminal Pazuzu-esque demon-head flashes) and paints adherents to Afro-Caribbean religions as wholly alien and apart from “normal” life.

“There was a piece of white leather in her hand with traces of powdered Datura on it, which was also in Silvia’s system. It’s a powerful hallucinogen that is reportedly used in Santeria voodoo rituals to speak with the dead. Brass and Nick check out local Datura dealers and come across some voodoo chanting with bongos and shrieking and possibly a couple seizures. There is some voodoo priest guy hauled in for questioning, but nothing ever comes of it. Weird  … When brought in, [the killer] still claims his innocence. Until his voice gets low and deep and he blames it on a Voodoo God. Ray twists his arm up, then leaves the room and punches a wall …”

Really awful. Some truly exploitative stuff here. Not a single attempt to paint the killers actions as completely outside the norm for African diasporic faiths, or that “Ogun” is simply a manifestation of his mental illness. In fact, there isn’t really any exposition concerning Santeria at all. It all exists as a prop for Ray Langston (Laurence Fishburne) to get upset and punch things.

I haven’t been keeping track, so I’m not sure when this happened, but Pagan author A.J. Drew has closed down his web sites, started a goat farm, and is selling his most popular Internet addresses for 10,000 dollars.

There have been and still are plans to incorporate PaganNation.com into community software A.J. Drew began several years. However, maintaining this site is beyond our capabilities at this time, the software is not yet ready for release, and the obligations generated when his business was destroyed and the convention failed are pressing. He would very much like to conclude his former life without those obligations. In an effort to meet those obligations: PaganNation.com, WitchesBall.com, and TheRealWitchesBall.com Are for sale as a package: $10,000.00. Should a sale not take place prior to the launch of our software, PaganNation.com will return in a much improved format.

I’m not sure who would be willing to pay that much for 3 domain names (nor do they provide contact information for interested buyers), but who knows? Perhaps there is someone out there with deep pockets who covets “TheRealWitchesBall.com”, I couldn’t say. Aimee Drew (A.J.’s wife) also briefly explains her husband’s 2006 electrocution accident, and the subsequent deterioration of their previous life. It isn’t known if this is a permanent retirement from active participation with the larger Pagan community, or simply a step back to regroup, whatever the situation I wish them peace.

Author and “Techgnostic” Erik Davis shares his introduction to the new book “Mushroom Magick: A Visionary Field Guide” where he ponders the enduring myth of “shrooms” as a precursor to religion.

“…appearances can deceive. Despite the fact that Psilocybe spores carpet-bombed wide swaths of our planet millennia ago, there is little hard evidence for psychedelic mushroom use in traditional societies—even among groups that consume other mind-expanding plants and brews. Along with Mesoamerica, where royal weddings were capped with mushroom-fueled dance parties, the only other bulls-eye is Siberia, where shamans (and ordinary folks) consumed Amanita muscaria, the non-psilocybin-containing fungus whose psychoactive alkaloids were also passed around through the quaffing of urine. In Europe, there is scant suggestion of mushroom use, despite the ubiquity of several species. Solidly documented cases of probable Psilocybe intoxication begin in the eighteenth century, and they suggest that these accidental shroomers discovered nothing particularly cosmic in their trips—although some did get the giggles. Nonetheless, a number of authors insist that a hidden mushroom cult of fungal gnosis, rooted in Neolithic shamanism, has been passed down secretly.”

Like many myths that gained popularity in the 1960s, the European “mushroom cult” has obtained a reality of its own, with thousands using the fungus both recreationally and for sacred purposes.

In a final note, The Sun interviews Colin Meloy of The Decemberists about their new concept album “The Hazards of Love”, and how folk, metal, and prog-rock are linked together through a shared love of myth and mysticism.

“Metal and folk share a similar fascination with mythology, mysticism, pre-Christian stuff, paganism. Led Zeppelin are the most obvious bridge between the folk revival and classic metal. But Black Sabbath had quite a bit of that with Fairies Wear Boots etc.”

Considering The Decemberists’ new album features “a shape-shifting forest dweller” and a “jealous forest queen”, it might just appeal to fans of myth-drenched pagan-friendly music.

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

[This is part two of a two-part series that will deal directly with the issue of the Frosts' writing, and what to do about pedophilia, and writings that the community feels supports pedophilia. Yesterday's post updated you on the fallout of A.J. Drew's decision to "sacrifice" Gavin and Yvonne Frost in effigy at his "International Real Witches Ball". All comments are being moderated, so please be civil.]

I think it is fair to say that no sane person advocates or encourages pedophilia. While our culture has become ever more permissive to a variety of once taboo subjects, the sanctity of children has (for the most part) remained non-negotiable. So it is always a serious matter when accusations of not only promoting, but actively participating in the abuse of children are raised. In this most recent eruption within the Pagan/Heathen community I believe that it is fair to say that more heat than light has been generated, and that the protection of children within our community has become an almost abstract point as emotions have risen and rival camps formed.

Do Gavin and Yvonne Frost promote pedophilia and child abuse in their literature? It has been an issue that has plagued the Pagan community since the book in question was first published in 1972. In the eighties the Frosts were “put on trial” by Carl and Sandra Weschcke (who run Llewellyn publications) for their controversial “initiation” chapter. Isaac Bonewits and Oberon Zell acted as the defense team, while Herman Slater and Lady Sheba were the prosecutors. The Frosts were found “guilty”, though I have no idea what the sentence was, or if any real ramifications emerged from that trial (they even attended a Llewellyn-run event after the trial). It is notable that this “trial” was done internally within the community and that no-one considered contacting the law on the matter. But according to Ian Corrigan, the book was mostly seen as nonsense and not taken seriously by many in the community.

“When this book came out in the early 70s, it was considered abject nonsense by the few folks who had any actual knowledge of Wicca in those days. The Frosts came out of nowhere, appropriating the term ‘Wicca’ for their own version of what religious witchcraft might be. Their synthesis bore almost no resemblance to the traditions of Wicca, either in ritual or theology, and certainly not in the grotesque suggestions about the sexual upbringing of children. It was a different age in those days, as ‘swinging’ emerged as a lifestyle and many folks hoped for a real revolution in sexual mores – too bad the Frosts chose to add their wacky ideas to something that they chose to call ‘Wicca’. This book was an embarrasment in 1972, and it’s an embarrasment now. It should be ignored by anyone interested in learning witchcraft or wicca.”

The Frosts have been attacked for so many years on this subject (with no legal ramifications), that they see the controversy as a selling point.

“An old cliche points out that all advertising is good advertising. The most recent spike on the sales graph of The Witch’s Bible has once again proven the accuracy of the cliche. Our thanks, then, to people who attack any of our published works!”

Though, despite their claims of being impervious to criticism, they did add a disclaimer to the chapter in the most recent (1999) edition.

“No formal initiation into a group that practices the great rite should be done before the candidate attains the age of eighteen.”

But for some (including A.J. Drew) such measures are too little, and too late. We also live in an age where child predation, abuse, and molestation are an ever-present issue with shows like “To Catch a Predator” and online groups like Perverted Justice encouraging an almost vigilante mindset. The law and government-supported social services are often painted as ineffectual at catching predators or protecting children, and in this atmosphere it is little wonder that self-appointed Pagan activists would go for the most apparent target, the Frosts and their chapter on child-initiation.

But has any of this helped protect Pagan children, or done anything to isolate the Frosts if they are indeed as guilty as Drew claims? Pagan academic Christopher Chase voices the skepticism some feel at this recent “De-Frosting” campaign.

“I do not see how any good can come from this “witch war.” I don’t know of anyone who has actually been harmed by their teachings, or anyone who would be rescued or helped if those teachings disappeared. The magickal burning of someone in effigy seems like such an extreme tactic, perhaps surpassed only by attempting to involve Charles Colson in this matter. Having kept up with Mr. Colson and his writings, I can say that no good for Pagan communities can come from drawing Mr. Colson’s attention. That seems tantamount to an unacceptable act of political and cultural brinksmanship.”

If A.J. Drew’s methods are counter-productive, what should the Pagan community do with literature they feel promotes pedophilia, and what should the community do about persons they feel endanger children within their community? Here are some suggestions.

Know what the Federal and State laws dictate for each situation, and if you feel a piece of writing or a person(s) have violated them, do not hesitate to report it to the appropriate authorities that are going to do something, not to friends or associates who have no power over the situation. To know what various State laws are concerning child welfare, you can search from this governmental web site. You can read a run-down of all applicable Federal laws as well. More specifically, Federal Public Law No: 108-21 stipulates that there is no statute of limitations for the sexual or physical abuse of a child. So if there is indeed proof of abuse, no matter how long ago, it should still be reported.

If the person(s) or literature doesn’t break any applicable laws (or if you have no proof that they have done so), but you feel their writings/person(s) are dangerous to the community, voice your concerns but avoid defamation. In the case of public figures any form of “actual malice” should be avoided. You can read more about libel law, here. An article discussing the emerging field of online libel can be found, here.

When promoting your concerns to the community, avoid demonizing those unconvinced by your claims, those reserving judgment, and those who criticize y
our methods.
The logical fallacy of “guilt by association” should be avoided (I believe Person A. supports pedophilia, Person B. criticized my methods, therefore Person B. supports pedophilia).

In a final note, I think a pan-Pagan effort to deal with predators is needed. Sometimes those involved in a subculture can be hesitant to speak against fellow members or to seek help outside the community. Drew’s methods should be a wake-up call to the fact that a vacuum has existed in our inter-connected communities and that we should work towards forming an effective and accountable place for victims and those worried about possible predators to turn. Educational campaigns can be put in place, and national and local groups can be networked in a responsible way to avoid gossip, misinformation, and vigilantism. We can make our community a safer place, but only by working together in a calm and rational manner. I hope those of you who read my blog and are involved in national groups or hold leadership positions in local communities take this to heart and work toward building a safer community.

[This is part one of a two-part series that will update you on the fallout of A.J. Drew's decision to "sacrifice" Gavin and Yvonne Frost in effigy at his "International Real Witches Ball". Part two tomorrow will deal directly with the issue of the Frosts' writing, and what to do about pedophilia, and writings that the community feels supports pedophilia. All comments are being moderated, so please be civil.]

When Wiccan author and event organizer A.J. Drew announced a couple months ago that he planned to “sacrifice” an effigy of Church and School of Wicca founders Gavin and Yvonne Frost, few could have predicted the level of controversy and fallout that would occur from it. While trying to combat the spread of pedophilia and abuse is a noble thing, it seems Drew’s tactics concerning the Frosts and their literature have polarized the community, burned a few bridges, and created a situation where former colleagues of Drew’s have abandoned him (and then been savaged as supporters of the Frosts).

“How many more will befriend these monsters? How many more will defend, befriend, and go out of their way to harm others to protect the Frosts? Maybe we should all ask everyone we know do you support the Frosts? Are you aware of what they wrote? Do you support the North American Man Boy Love Association? Are you aware of what they wrote?”A.J. Drew

Drew’s “International Real Witches Ball” has had every guest speaker drop out. This includes Lisa McSherry, Raven Grimassi, Stephanie Taylor, Donald Michael Kraig, and Ann Moura. Most cite Drew’s effigy ritual as the prime reason for backing out.

“Had we known that the RWB would focus (as indicated by the importance placed on it on the RWB website) on a political protest in the form of a negative ritual wherein living people are sacrificed in effigy, we would not have accepted the invitation. In our judgment the ritual is a type of black magic and vigilantism. The design of the ritual as described to us could have a negative impact on the community and may be psychologically deleterious to some participants. As a result, we have decided to not participate in this year’s event.”

Drew has also faced criticism from prominent Pagan leaders like Isaac Bonewits who came to the defense of the Frosts.

“I have known the Frosts for decades and they are good people. The overwhelming majority of their words and actions have benefited the Craft more than harmed it. Gavin put that chapter in his first book primarily for shock effect, to get people thinking and arguing about what our theories about adolescent sexuality should be. So he put something in that was as far from the mainstream as possible. This was a really foolish thing to do, as it has led to unfounded accusations against the Frosts ever since.”

Meanwhile others, like author and Wiccan elder Raymond Buckland, have praised Drew’s intent while criticizing the planned ritual.

“Let me get into the fuss over the proposed “De-Frosting,” if I may? Using effigies is fine if they are used for positive purposes (such as healing). But NOTHING should be condoned that is negative or is in any way working against someone. That can only be construed as negative magic (“black magic”). I think this is why some of your proposed speakers have bailed out from RWB07. It’s because they don’t want to be associated with working negative magic, not necessarily because they endorse what the Frosts do. If I had been able to attend this year’s ball, I would not have been a part of such a ritual … you’ve made a great statement, AJ, and something does need to be done. But it’s how to do it. There are always positive ways to work things, if you think about it.”

More recently, Drew has come into conflict with Peg Aloi, an author and media coordinator for The Witches’ Voice. The nature of their conflict is a bit labyrinthine, and it seems that the issue of Drew’s campaign against the Frosts is simply the latest bone of contention between them.

“For me, the “issue at hand” has nothing to do with your questions regarding my position on the Frosts writing or the support they have from other people in the pagan community. The “issue at hand” is your histrionics, designed to whip the visitors to the PN website into a frenzy. As well as your desire to stage a public psychic attack which may well end up having serious psychic and other sorts of consequences. As well as your self-serving attempt to draw attention to yourself by attacking two elderly people who have not done anything wrong.”Peg Aloi (posting as “nightshy”)

Finally, the Frosts themselves have started a blog, and have taken to attacking the attacks against them (though not by discussing the controversial material they have published).

“Public attacks on Wiccans/pagans are harmful; ipso facto the attackers are not Wiccans or pagans but instead are nurturing in their psyche an internalized sectarian Christian paradigm.”

As of interest are comments made by Bronwyn Frost, a daughter of Gaving and Yvonne Frost.

“I think open and honest discussion is welcome. This discussion has provoked more discussion between my parents, my husband, and myself and it reinforces for me that if I didn’t have Wicca as a faith and learned my faith here, from these blogs and the words of some of the writers represented, I would not be Wiccan. I am Wiccan and proud and I am proud to be my parents’ daughter. I am proud that they have taken the stand they did and that they have not wavered in their strength and faith that honest information about pagan practices are relevant to the discussion today.”

Drew’s responses so far have been to reiterate his opinion that the Frosts are encouraging pedophilia, and that they themselves have been participants as such. On his blog he has admitted to making a list of people and companies he feels are supporting the Frosts (and therefore supporting pedophilia and their controversial material) to present to the “national press and other media sources”, and has written to Charles “Chuck” Colson (one of the Watergate criminals who subsequently became a born-again Christian involved in prison ministry) about the Frosts’ book being available to prisoners.

“Did you know that there is a Wiccan organization, which has promoted the molestation, intoxication, and rape of children in the name of Wicca? Did you know that one of the leaders of Seax Wicca seems to promote violent hatred of homosexuals?”

So, if anything, Drew is certainly focused on his “goal” of casting out all who he feels are “supporting” pedophilia. But it remains to be seen if any of this will actually benefit endangered children, remove the controversial material the Frosts have written, or sway the greater Pagan community into action. So far it appears that the controversy of his ritual and quest may have overshadowed his full-throated defense of children. Tomorrow I will discuss the Frosts, their controversial material concerning minors, and what the Pagan/Heathen community could/should do about it.

Since my initial post on Pagan author A.J. Drew’s plan to “sacrifice” Gavin and Yvonne Frost (founders of the Church and School of Wicca) in effigy at his International Real Witches Ball quite a bit has happened. I had been avoiding doing an update since certain parties couldn’t remain civil in the comments for the original post, and I was forced to moderate all comments as a result. But so much has happened involving so many high-profile Pagans that I felt it was becoming irresponsible to not report on it.

So I will be doing a two-part update on this issue. Part one will focus on the fall-out from A.J. Drew’s plans to “sacrifice” the Frosts, and part two will discuss the issues concerning the Frosts’ book, accusations of pedophilia, and how the Pagan community can approach this issue in a way that benefits all of us. Needless to say that comments will be moderated, and anyone who I feel falls outside the bounds of civil discussion will not find themselves a forum here. Part one will be posted later this afternoon, and part two will be posted on Saturday.

For those wondering what this is all about, I suggest reading my original post on the subject, A.J. Drew’s mission statement on his quest “DeFrost”, The blog that the Frosts’ started in the aftermath of this current explosion of attention, and the controversial chapter of the Frosts’ book (and the added introduction) that Drew and others are referencing.

Living Goddess loses status. 10-year-old Nepalese Kumari (living goddess) Sajani Shakya has had her status revoked for traveling to the United States. Shakya was traveling to promote a new documentary about the Kumari in Nepal, when word came from the Nepalese government that they would begin the process to look for a replacement due to her “forbidden” action. Ishbel Whitaker, the director of the documentary, claims that this rule never existed before now and that this is most likely a political move.

“Ishbel Whitaker, director of the film “Living Goddess” said she was shocked and saddened by this news and would make sure the girl’s education was provided for. “The rule of not being able to leave was never a rule before…. Nobody ever said the Kumari can’t travel” she said by telephone from London. Whitaker said they filmed in Bhaktapur for a year. “We had been speaking with people we felt were authorities, and now these others are claiming they are,” she said. The film crew consulted anthropologists, the head priests of Sajani’s temple and her parents, the director said. And she said the Nepalese Embassy helped arrange Sajani’s trip to the U.S.”

It should be interesting to see what further developments take place due to all the publicity placed on this tradition. Luckily Sajani Shakya will be well-cared in the wake of her losing her Kumari status, though it remains to be seen if the parents will appeal this decision. You can read my original post about the living goddesses and the documentary, here.

Witch School’s new home. Now that the Witch School has been sold (and shares sold in the “new” corporation), and they have closed up shop in Hoopeston, Illinois, they have decided on their brand new home. Rossville, Illinois.

“After four years, a Wiccan school is leaving Hoopeston, but it’s not going far. This week, the new owners will be moving the school into its new location at 117 S. Chicago St. in downtown Rossville. “We’re very happy to go to Rossville,” said Don Lewis, the chief executive officer of and majority shareholder in Witch School International … Lewis, who lives in Hoopeston but will be moving to Rossville, said people in Hoopeston showed support to the school, but some in the city government and the local power structure did not. “And I’m hoping the people of Rossville will not have any preconceived ideas about us, and come out and meet us,” he said. “They will find we are normal people. Everyone we’ve talked to so far in Rossville has been nice.” Just this week, Witch School International purchased the building in Rossville, which formerly housed the business Gift Baskets By Wilma.”

With Rossville’s estimated population of 1270 (and shrinking), perhaps Witch School will finally achieve their dreams of building a “Salem of the Midwest”. Though it may be hard to convince a couple thousand modern Pagans to move to a tiny town an hour’s drive from the nearest modern amenities. You can read previous Witch School-related posts, here.

Pagan Rally in Washington. I don’t have any major follow-ups on the rally that took place yesterday, but the On Faith blog has posted several more responses to their panelist question concerning Pagan chaplains, the Washington rally, and if you would vote for a Pagan politician. Not surprisingly, people like Chuck Colson are against the rights of Pagans, while Starhawk is emphatically pro-Pagan.

“I’m cheering for my Pagan sisters and brothers who are demonstrating on this Fourth of July for the right to have a Pagan chaplain in the military. Our constitution, which they have volunteered to defend, grants us the freedom of religion. That doesn’t mean “freedom of any religion we approve of but not those that make us uncomfortable or that we’ve never heard of.” It means freedom to follow the calling of one’s own faith and conscience.”

As I said in yesterday’s post, please let me know if any photos or write-ups of the rally appear, this is an important story and I want to follow it fully. For more posts on this subject (and on the Veteran Pentacle Quest) click, here.

Frosts Effigy Controversy. My original post discussing AJ Drew’s plans to destroy effigies of the Frosts, for writings that many feel promote pedophilia, has garnered more comments than any other on this blog (100 total and counting). Now AJ Drew himself is participating in the back and forth.

“The Frosts are promoted by Pagan Pride, Starwood, Sirius Rising, Brushwood, and other events. They are promoted by Patricia Telesco, Isaac Bonewitz, and other leading authors. Even Janet and Stewart Farrar made a video with Gavin Frost in which they called each other friends for decades. My plan to sacrifice them in effigy at this year’s International Real Witches Ball will bring attention to this. People who do not know, will know. They will no longer be able to hide the monsters that they are and those who supported them these many years will be shown for the money minded self promoting business as usual authors and organizations that they are.”

Since the original post is moving off the front page, I am posting links to the comment thread(s) so people can find the discussion and participate if they want. HERE are the Haloscan comments (which comprises the bulk of the comments), and HERE are the Blogger commments. Please try to remain civil, I’m pretty open-minded about comments, but I will not hesitate to delete anything that I think crosses a line (threats, intimidation, personal attacks).

That is all I have for now, have a good day.

I’m out of town for a wedding this weekend, so blogging will be somewhat sporadic, but I’ll try to check in and post when I have a chance. There is a lot to comment on that I simply don’t have the time for, but I’ll try to catch up on Monday.

Here are a few quick things I wanted to mention:

The AJ Drew/Frosts effigy controversy – this may be the most commented entry in the history of this blog. I highly recommend making your way through both comment threads (and adding your voice if you wish). I believe there are some very productive things being said concerning the Frost’s book, the resulting controversy, and AJ Drew’s response.

The Rita Moran / Christian Civil League issue – again, I highly recommend looking through the comments here, it appears that the fear-mongering tactics of the Maine Christian Civil League have backfired. Many Pagans, local Maine residents, and people concerned with common decency have stepped forward to protest the treatment given to Moran, made donations to the Maine Democrats or bought a book from her local book store. In addition, their attempted intimidation of commenters by posting personal information has also hit the skids due to the questionable legality of their actions, and the comments page has been removed entirely.

In a final note, there are some interesting stories developing out there that I plan to touch on soon, including the fate of Independent Affiliates within the Unitarian-Universalist Association, which includes CUUPs (the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans). So look for that soon. Everyone should also check out a very interesting article on Paganism in Utah that I’ll most likely touch on in a separate post (possibly tomorrow if I have the time).

That is all I have time for at the moment, have a great day!

AJ Drew, a Wiccan author and founder of the online community Pagan Nation, is planning on holding a “human sacrifice” of Gavin and Yvonne Frost (founders of the Church and School of Wicca) in effigy at this year’s International Real Witches Ball.

The Frosts with hypothetical depiction of effigies.

“On October 27, 2007 at Midnight I will be conducting a ritual entitled A Sacrifice to Caring in which I will sacrifice Gavin and Yvonne Frost in effigy. In this rite, I will introduce the Familial Heathen path / Familial Heathenry to the public. The event will take place during The International Real Witches Ball. My wife and I believe that due to the tremendous number of pacifists in the modern pagan community, such an action will probably lower attendance tremendously. However, we feel the statement must be made and despite being advised to the contrary, we are moving ahead with our plans. We believe that being parents and sending an absolutely clear message Gavin and Yvonne Frost and their ilk will not be welcome in at least our small portion of the community is more important than numbers. However, if you agree we urge you to join us in this struggle to change the modern pagan community.”

This hostility towards the Frosts stems from a chapter of their book “Good Witch’s Bible” (which has been in and out of print since the 70s) in which the methods for ritually deflowering pubescent boys and girls is described.

“It is hoped by Wicca that the first full sexual experience will take place in the plesant[SIC] surroundings of the coven and that the spiritual as well as the physical aspects of the experience will lead the child to a complete life.”

This passage, and others like it (including directions on creating wooden phalli) has lead Drew on a quest to have the Frosts ostracized from the larger Pagan/Wiccan community. This lead him into conflict with Craft elder Raymond Buckland (since patched up) due to his past endorsement of the Frosts, and an open disdain for anyone in the Pagan community who has worked with them (and hasn’t recanted of doing so). Drew also believes that the chapter isn’t hypothetical/imagined and that the Frost’s organization is actively engaged in child molestation and abuse, but that abuse claims were ignored due to the “Satanic Panic” backlash.

“It is my opinion that there have been numerous victims of the Church and School of Wicca. That due to the enormous emotional strain such events have placed on these individuals, many of them have found themselves in the “Satanic Panic Industry” and have been overlooked due to their outrageous claims.”

One wonders where this will go next, Drew insists that a civil suit against the Frosts for the promotion of child molestation would hold up, so is legal action coming soon? Will the wider Pagan community take a stand against the Frosts as anger and outrage builds? The building and destroying of effigies (that symbolize real people) at a Pagan event is certainly a new twist, will others be inspired by this and allow for public “sacrifices” of those they believe to be anathema? It should be interesting to see where this course of action leads.

NOTE: This blog repudiates any endorsement of child abuse or molestation. I certainly don’t endorse the Frost’s “initiation” methods in any sense of the term. Having said that, I feel I should point out that there has been no physical proof that the Frosts have actually engaged in (or supervised) any of the practices they have written about (though it is the opinion of some that they have).