Archives For Carl Llewellyn Weschcke

Pagan Voices is a spotlight on recent quotations from figures within the Pagan community. These voices may appear in the burgeoning Pagan media, or from a mainstream outlet, but all showcase our wisdom, thought processes, and evolution in the public eye. Is there a Pagan voice you’d like to see highlighted? Drop me a line with a link to the story, post, or audio.

Patrick McCollum with Jane Goodall.

Patrick McCollum with Jane Goodall.

“Jane Goodall and I had the rare opportunity to steal away from the cameras and people … literally retreating into a stairwell with security blocking the doorway so we could have a moment alone. We talked about our common work and made plans and commitments to work together and support one another going forward. Like me, Jane travels so much that it is just not possible for either of us to cover the whole world, and since my work is really growing in India, I agreed to share her message along with mine when I speak there as I am there more often than her. We also discussed my traveling to Africa and connecting with her projects there also, which dovetails well with other requests for me to share my work globally. The bottom line for both of us is our mutual recognition that there will not be peace in the world until we as humans recognize our interconnectedness with all sentient and non-sentient beings, and take responsibility to promote equality not only between races and cultures, but also between species. It is a huge job, but as I’ve always said, and Jane concurs; It starts by putting one foot in front of another and simply stepping up to the task at hand. The rest will be up to forces and responses beyond our control … and perhaps even beyond our comprehension. Yet like her, I fully believe peace is possible, and so together, we continue to take the first step.”Patrick McCollum, describing a moment he shared with famous British anthropologist and peace activist Jane Goodall at the UN’s International Day of Peace ceremony.

Sam Webster (with Herm), photo by Tony Mierzwicki.

Sam Webster

“Magic-users know that every problem invokes its own solution. I submit that we Pagans were invoked into existence by the crisis humanity is undergoing right now. We are especially suited as the catalyst that will reify a successful future for humanity. [...] There is a secret power in us that make us especially unique to this culture and this time. While we are a new florescence of religious life, we have reclaimed and built ourselves of the rejected, forgotten, suppressed and oppressed parts of Western culture. We have even taken as ours an ancient name of calumny: Pagan. This tells me that we are the Shadow of Western Civilization.  It is to the Shadow that we must turn, when all of our conscious and socially acceptable modes of behavior have failed. In the Shadow is what we need. From the Shadow comes renewal. We, Pagan folk, are the children of the Shadow. And this is why they, the Established ones, fear us, and they rightly do: for I assert that we have the power to bring about the end of the unjust and unsustainable ways of our global civilization, and those who are invested in defending those injustices know in their hearts we can. Will we step up?” – Sam Webster, on why Pagans can save the world.

Peter Dybing

Peter Dybing

“Stated plainly, in the Goddess I find kindness, sympathy, caring, concern and charity. In my choice to worship her I have chosen to worship that which I believe can manifest the type of world I want to live in. Imagine with me for a moment a world where international conflicts were settled with peace, compassion, communication and a deep understanding that we are all some mothers’ children. Further, conceive if you can a professional world where competition, politics, conflict and profit were set aside in favor of the grater good for employees, customers, or co-workers. For me it is beyond reason that such a world could manifest being lead by masculine principles. For century’s we have had our chance, the result has been suffering, war, poverty and oppression. Am I proud to be a man? Yes I am proud to be a man who understands that the feminine traits buried within me need to be nurtured, expressed and held as an example of being a responsible citizen of this world. While I incorporate male Gods into the pantheon I worship, make no mistake, it is the Goddess and all she represents as the sacred feminine that sits atop of my personal concept of deity.” – Peter Dybing, on men and the Goddess.

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

“Today I re-started my daily practice. I have to do this all the time, because I’m actually terrible at it. I love ritual, and I do it often, but I’m terrible at keeping to a daily, disciplined practice routine. Readers who don’t know me well might imagine that as a fighter, a spiritual teacher and a dedicated priestess of the Morrígan, I must have a thorough and disciplined daily practice that I never miss. Yes, I do have a daily practice, but I have to work as hard as anybody at actually doing it every day. I think this is true for a lot of people: daily practice is kind of like balancing on a rope. You’re almost never standing in perfect grace; instead, you’re constantly correcting back toward center from the myriad of forces that constantly push and sway you off balance. Maybe sometimes you fall off the rope altogether and have to take a break. If you do it for long enough, the corrections you have to make come smaller and easier, and maybe you aren’t falling off any more.” – Morpheus Ravenna, on starting again at day one in a daily spiritual practice.

Good Hutton Pic

Ronald Hutton

“It suddenly holds my attention, sometimes because I read a critical text or attend a critical event, and sometimes by more of a process of accretion. An example of the first: I read through Mary Stewart’s Merlin novels in hospital in 2004 when undergoing surgery and starting to recover from it, and those inspired me to look closely at paganism in modern Arthurian fiction, on which I published an article a few years later. An example of the second: my girlfriend held a residential weekend in 2009 dedicated to fairy lore, and my reading up on that interested me in research from which I have just written an article. An example of the third: when I was fourteen, my class at school all had to write a project on the English Civil War, at about the same time at which I read a popular biography of the Cavalier hero Prince Rupert, and that summer I went on holiday in South Wales and began to notice that the castles which I visited had all played parts in the war. That got me hooked, and ten years later I wrote up my PhD thesis on the Cavaliers in Wales and the West Midlands, which became my first book and launched my career.” – Historian Ronald Hutton, on what inspires him to take on a subject.

Carl Llewellyn Weschcke with author John Michael Greer

Carl Llewellyn Weschcke

“We are all Spirit Communicators—all the time unconsciously broadcasting all kinds of “messages” to the Universe, and all the time unconsciously receiving messages from the Universe that is everything and everybody, including you and me. It’s not just the visible “out there” Sun and Moon and distant Stars, nor the invisible spirits in higher dimensions; we too are spirit. Inner and Outer, we all are made of the same stuff, at the foundation of which is Spirit, the universal “subtle element” that is the source of all the other elements manifesting in both visible and invisible dimensions and both inner and outer levels.  We, and everything physical and non-physical, all possess “spiritual” qualities and are, in fact, mostly composites of physical/ethericastralmentalcausal; and spiritual substance, spiritual energy, and spiritual consciousness. Each living person incarnates Body, Mind, and Spirit, and Feeling, Will, and Purpose within a single multi-level vehicle. Each person is a “power house” of near infinite potential, but, most people are barely “awake” at the physical level of conscious awareness, and have little control over the non-physical levels of feeling, thought, and will. Our bodies are alive at the deepest and most minutequanta levels, where we are constantly broadcasting messages from and between body cells and organs, and radiating it all from inner selves to all selves everywhere.” - Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, proclaiming that we are all spirit communicators, all the time.

Ruadhán J McElroy

Ruadhán J McElroy

“Racism is the gigantic elephant in the room for traditional polytheism — too many use their religious practices as an excuse for racism and vice-versa.  While, true, Heathenry has the biggest reputation for racism, here’s the thing:  There is not a single recon religion without its racist baggage in some form.  I’ve met Neonazi Celtic Recons passing out literature at the Celtic Festival in Saline, Michigan, back when I was in high school.  In more recent years, I’ve seen Hellenists in North America describe Hellenismos as ‘kinda like Asatru, but for the Greek pantheon and, best of all — no Nazis! ^_^’ and then ten minutes later encounter Hellenic polytheists from all over the globe say some of the most appallingly racist filth.  Hell, at least the LaVeyans and Boyd Rice fanboys I used to hang with during my misspent youth had the decency to try and hide it. This is an issue that is a HUGE deal to me, for lots of reasons. [...] I’m a Mod and Ska DJ, and I’ve been involved with a couple S.H.A.R.P. protests — no-one calls out racism like a skinhead, le me tell you (no, really, follow that link), and we called it out. That’s the ideology I’ve maintained, even when i couldn’t do much else:  When bad things happen, call it out.  Call it out repeatedly, if you need to.  If you did it, learn and change.  If some-one you care about does it, help them to learn and change.”Ruadhán J McElroy, on calling out racism within reconstructionist polytheism.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“Too many reviewers and potential readers have been or might be put off by some of Grey’s ideas because they are radical in their condemnation of many of the excesses of modern (and particularly industrialized, technologized, and commercialized and consumerist) life, and may get stuck with those difficulties while ignoring or missing the more interesting and potentially revolutionary aspects of Grey’s work as a result.  I invite anyone who does read ’Apocalyptic Witchcraft’ to put those concerns as far aside as possible while they consider his manifesto — indeed, his work reads that way at points, in a passionate and poetic fashion, and pages 14 to 17 are a thirty-three point ‘Manifesto of Apocalyptic Witchcraft.’ To use a hackneyed phrase, Peter Grey is interested in restoring the cultus and practice of witchcraft in the modern world as a practice of ‘sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll’; the only difference is that by ‘rock ‘n’ roll,’ Grey’s book tends to mean ‘poetry,’ but otherwise, ‘sex’ and ‘drugs’ should be brought back, brought forward, and brought out far more than they have been or should have been in more recent decades.  Further, the cleaning-up of the public image of witchcraft and the distancing of itself from some of these things which the overculture has considered unpalatable should be avoided at all costs, and an unapologetic approach should be taken to these matters wherever they might arise.  I think this is a laudable goal, and one that I can agree with on most points (and where I differ does not matter for the purposes of this review).” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, reviewing Peter Grey’s “Apocalyptic Witchcraft.”

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“People are starving. People need education. People are being killed on the streets and in their homes. People are being killed by drones, from the sky. People need clean water. People need beauty. The world is out of balance, the Divine Twins of generosity and greed are both present, but too often these days, the Twin of greed seems to be holding sway. “…despite recent turbulent economic times, demand for super yachts has remained steady” reports Luxury Society. We know the other stories, too: the cost of celebrity weddings, money which could provide clean drinking water for a million children. The U.S. Government selling arms to dictatorships all over the world, making a profit from oppression. 500 prisoners in California having spent 10 years in solitary confinement. War veterans getting their food stamps taken away… And yet, last week when I asked people to share the ways in which they engage in mutual aid, all sorts of answers came in: donating to food banks, working in a mental health clinic, offering emotional support to friends, setting up barter economy, growing and sharing food, volunteering at domestic violence shelters, doing drug counseling, offering showers and meals to young people in their neighborhood.” – T. Thorn Coyle, on building hope.

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

I’m out of town today, attending a doctor’s appointment in Ashland, Oregon, so I don’t have the time to do my usual exploration and analysis of news of interest to the Pagan community. Instead, I’d like to offer some links from across the Pagan media world that have drawn my attention. So enjoy, I’m hoping to hit the Oregon vortex on my way home!

That’s all I have for now, have a great day, I’ll be back tomorrow.

Minnesota newspaper the Star Tribune does a profile of local business Llewellyn Worldwide, the largest publisher of Pagan and metaphysical books. In the article owner Carl Weschcke addresses the recent collapse of Borders, which cost the company half a million dollars, saying they’ve managed to stay profitable.

Carl Llewellyn Weschcke with author John Michael Greer

Carl Weschcke with author John Michael Greer

The company has weathered the Great Recession despite losing $500,000 in the Borders bankruptcy, Weschcke said. He credited stringent controls put in place by his wife, and company president, Sandra Weschcke, for keeping the company profitable despite the Borders loss. Their son Gabe Weschcke is Llewellyn’s vice president. The company ended its 2011 fiscal year June with $15 million in sales. “For every change, there is opportunity,” Weschcke said. “The main thing is to recognize change and be flexible and say that change is not bad. The only things that are bad are taxes.”

The article also discusses plans to expand more into fiction, and the central role the business plays to metaphysical booksellers. Quote: “Joseph A. Amara, vice president of business development and an owner of Magus Books in Dinkytown, said that Llewellyn is “one of the great pillars” of its industry.” Considering how close-lipped the company is about its finances and internal workings (they wouldn’t talk on-the-record to me about the Borders closure), its nice to get some news from a company that’s so central to the Pagan economy.

In 1973 Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, owner and chairman of Llewellyn Worldwide, shortly after his initiation into the American Celtic tradition of Witchcraft by Lady Sheba, helped organize the American Council of Witches (aka the Council of American Witches). The group would convene and disband in 1974, partially due to internal divisions and debates, but before it did they published the Thirteen Principles of Belief (aka Principles of Wiccan Belief). Meant as a general set of principles that all groups participating at the time could agree with, that material was subsequently incorporated into the 1978 edition of the Army’s military chaplain’s handbook thanks to Dr. J. Gordon Melton (the material was revised in the 1980s and 1990s, with input from groups like COG and Lady Liberty League). Now this group is attempting to rise from the ashes as the US American Council of Witches.

“We are an independent group of members who each follow a Natural Earth Religion or Tradition. Who shall gather together in interfaith dialog, to redraft a set of Common Principles, Mission Statement, Purpose, Revision of the Army’s Manual and a possible revision of the The Thirteen Principles Of Belief.”

The nascent council has already issued a press release outlining its goals and mission.

Newly Formed Group Defends Witchcraft Rights And Beliefs

The United States is a nation whose very foundation, the Bill of Rights, guarantees its citizens freedom of religious beliefs. Yet those citizens with beliefs that fall well outside of Christianity are often misunderstood and persecuted. There seems to be a rising voice in American politics that non-Christian beliefs are somehow less valid than Christian beliefs. One arena where we have seen this is the attack on our President by those claiming he is Muslim, which they appear to believe invalidates his ability to lead our nation. Another arena is such outspoken organizations as David Barton’s Wallbuilders, who advocate a Federal acceptance that the Unites States is a Christian nation.

In light of these attacks upon our basic religious freedoms, members of the community of Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, and other polytheists have united to re-form the American Council of Witches. First formed in 1973, the Council was a group of over seventy Witches and Pagans who drafted a set of principles outlining the common practices of Neopagan religions in North America. This statement was adopted by the Unites States Army for inclusion in their Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains in 1978.

Though the Council was disbanded in 1974, individuals who each follow a Pagan, Neopagan or Witchcraft Tradition feel it is time to reform the organization in order to achieve certain goals that were not addressed by the original council in the early Seventies. Among these goals are: to revise the original council’s Thirteen Principles of Belief Common Among NeoPagans; to re-submit revisions to the United States Army Handbook for Chaplains; to provide government and law enforcement on Federal, State and County levels with information on NeoPagan beliefs and practices to be used in creating and upholding laws, allowing NeoPagans their Constitutional rights, and ministering to the beliefs of Pagan inmates.

The revised American Council Of Witches will be composed of Pagans,Wiccans, Witches and other NeoPagan practitioners from each of the fifty United States. We will engage in an interfaith dialogue to identify and address the legal and social needs of members of our religions, and we will create policy and documents as deemed necessary. And we hope to dialogue with members of other faiths to foster a basic understanding of our beliefs.

For information, interviews and membership, please contact: usamericancouncilofwitches@yahoo.com

Wanting more information, I contacted them, and spoke with Wiccan author and musician Kenny Klein, a member of the new Council.

Kenny Klein

Kenny Klein

Are there any links between this new ACW and the original body?

The new Council was organized primarily at a request from the U.S. Army to update the Army Chaplains Handbook, whose Wiccan/Pagan statement was written by the original council. Oberon Zell served on the original body, and will be involved with the current body. Isaac’s widow, Phaedra, has also had input. Other members of the original body may be contacted as well.

Who is organizing this effort? Who’s driving it? Have any Pagan organizations/religious institutions endorsed your plans?

The original effort was organized by Chicago area Witch Kaye Berry, who was handed the request from the U.S. Army (I believe from Oberon). Kaye began contacting Witches and Pagans whom she believed would make valuable contributions to the effort. I was contacted early on, and felt this was a worthy project. I have been helping to identify Witches who are leaders in the Pagan/Witch community who might be assets to the project. Our current goal is to bring thirteen core members in as a board. Ultimately we will bring in a representative for each state in the U. S. Of this number, it is my own personal goal to see representation of the major traditions of Wicca and other Pagan practices, and also voices of less structured practices.

You mention Pagans and polytheists in addition to Witches and WIccans, does that mean the group is open to non-Witches?

That is correct. The word Witch may have served the mission statement of the original 1973 board, but the Pagan community has diversified greatly since then. While we continue to use a variant of the original name, we feel that the service and input of members representing the entire Pagan community is of the utmost value to our efforts.

Do you have any specific outreach/interfaith initiatives planned at this time?

At this time our goal is to identify the thirteen core members, and to begin organizing committees to work on our three primary objectives (see below). We do have a Facebook page, which has been receiving a good number of hits. We feel this will generate an interest in the organization. We will begin to plan outreach once our initial goals have been met, which will include the creation of a website, and representation at major and regional Pagan events.

Please note our three initial objectives for the council:

  • Revision of the original statement in the Army Handbook for Chaplains
  • Redrafting a set of Common Principles, updating the set of principles drafted by the original Council
  • Revision of the The Thirteen Principles Of Belief drafted by the original Council

For those wanting to get involved, or follow their progress, you can do so at their Facebook page. No doubt they’ll be in touch with present day active Pagan organizations like COG, Circle Sanctuary, the ADF, the Troth, and others, as things move along. I will be following their progress with interest.

If there is a 500 lb gorilla of the Pagan/metaphysical publishing world it has to be Llewellyn Worldwide. Formed in 1901 as a publisher of books and annuals of astrology, the company now boasts yearly gross sales of over 16 million, and has recently moved to an 80,000 square foot complex in Woodbury, Minnesota. A quick look at the selections of most book-sellers (mainstream or occult) will show shelves dominated by the Llewellyn moon logo on the spines.

Despite this success (or perhaps because of it) there has been an increasingly loud groundswell of criticism towards the company. One common complaint is that the company constantly re-hashes basic introductory (or “101″) material and rarely provides “advanced” literature for the more experienced practitioners. Now Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, president and owner of Llewellyn Worldwide, has come forward to say he agrees with those dissatisfied by the company’s output.

“Where are the Advanced Books? We hear this question as a complaint. People say there are mostly 101 books available and too few 202 and 303 books. And as a publisher I agree with the question and the complaint. I want to see more advanced books. I want to read and study more advanced books. I want to sell more advanced books. I want our community to have more advanced books.”

He then asks people to e-mail him directly and suggest what sorts of “advanced” books they would like to read. For some critics of the publisher, this may seem too good to be true. The owner asking for direct input on advanced titles? Is there a catch? The answer is, yes, there is a catch.

“…please, don’t confuse things. ‘Advanced’ books are not to be confused with history books, or memoirs … ‘Advanced’ books, in my personal opinion, are ‘specialty’ books dealing with what I call ‘Esoteric Technology,’ and others have called ‘technology of the sacred,’ ‘techniques of ecstasy,’ ‘ascension,’ etc. All deal with ‘becoming more than you are’ through an acceleration of a natural evolutionary process.”

So the recently published biography of celebrated Craft author and teacher Stewart Farrar, or the recent memoir by Alexandrian ‘Witch Queen’ Maxine Sanders, while most likely illuminating to any advanced student, wouldn’t count as “advanced”. Likewise, scholarly books on Wiccan or Druidic history by authors like Ronald Hutton or Chas Clifton, shouldn’t be confused with the “advanced” label either. Finally, groundbreaking books exploring Pagan theology don’t meet the very specific requirements of “advanced” proposed here.

What Weschcke wants are books exploring “Esoteric Technology”, or to put it another way, books on magic and magical techniques*. Not that there is anything wrong with Llewellyn wanting to publish more advanced works in this area (far be it from me to dissuade them from publishing advanced material in any subject), but that limiting “advanced” material to these “technologies” can create a distorted picture of what modern Paganism is. While magic can be important, it should never be forgotten that for many these “technologies” are bound to a religious faith. “Advanced” books on meditation, ritual magic, trance, and chants, should be joined by advanced books on theology, history, and philosophy.

For me, and I suspect for others, modern Paganism is primarily a religious movement. It is about reverence, fellowship, respect, joy, and connection. Magic (and related “technologies”) can, and have, been a part of that for me to differing degrees over the years. That said, the longer I journey this path, the more I value works that deepen and challenge my spiritual understanding. This isn’t to say I can’t learn more in the area of “sacred technologies”, or that many Pagans wouldn’t welcome such works, only that “advanced” isn’t something that should be isolated to the “how”, and should also explore the “why” and the “where” (not to mention the “what” and the “who”).

* If Weschcke is serious about exploring all “eight paths to the center”, then I look forward to books on the use of mind-altering substances and entheogens in the coming years.