Archives For Gavin and Yvonne Frost

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!

hexenfestHexenfest, a “festival of magick, music, and dance” is coming up on April 26th in Oakland, California. Featured musical performers include Ego Likeness, Pandemonaeon, Tempest and Nathaniel Johnstone, and Unwoman. The event will also feature dance performances from Anaar and Morpheus Ravenna, with DJing by Daniel Skellington. The event, now in its 3rd year, hopes to “create a San Francisco Bay Area festival that caters to the mythic imagination in a way that appeals to adults. Sensual and fierce, and willing to explore darker themes, Hexenfest seeks to awaken inner archetypes in all their aspects. To our knowledge, this is the first festival devoted specifically to the arts in the Neopagan revival. We believe that a culture’s art is both shaped by, and a shaper of, the identity of its people. As such, the inclusion of the arts in the Neopagan sphere is very important. As our young movement both rebuilds ancestral traditions and grapples with a modern identity, the arts will be essential to the legacy of our spiritual community.” Were I in the Bay Area of California I would surely be there. You can buy tickets to Hexenfest online.

Alyxander Folmer

Alyxander Folmer

Last week two different essays, from two different Heathens, tackled the issue of race, and racism, within modern Heathenry. First was from Alyxander Folmer, an anthropology student who wrote a piece for Patheos.com entitled “Drawing The Line – Heathens Against White Supremacists.” Quote: “Like it or not, there is a small segment of the modern Heathen community that not only buys into this kind of blatant racism, but co-opts our faith and uses our religion as an excuse to do so without having to admit that they ARE racist. These people twist the idea of ancestor veneration and cultural pride as a way to justify and mask their hate, as if using religious reasoning for their behavior somehow exempts them from the consequences of their actions. I refuse to allow them to abuse and dishonor our faith, our community, and our gods. We have the power to speak up and strip away that religious mask they wear. We CAN expose these people for what they are and show the world that they do NOT represent us.” Then, on Tumblr, the writer known as ‘Grumpy Lokean Elder’ posted a much-shared essay critiquing “Folkish” Heathenry. Quote: “You can be a very intelligent person, you can have the best intentions and not want to be racist at all, and when you’re starting out in Heathenry, Folkish recruiting can still hook you and reel you in.” Both of these essays come in the wake of talk at PantheaCon (featured in the most recent Elemental Castings podcast) that focused on racialist/white supremacist Paganisms. Is this all coincidence, synchronicity, or is the Heathen community gearing up for a new conversation on these issues?

FPGIn an update to Sunday’s story on controversy at Florida Pagan Gathering, Gavin and Yvonne Frost, the authors of “The Witch’s Bible” (reprinted  later as “The Good Witch’s Bible”) have posted a long response at their blog defending themselves. Quote: “If your group practices the Great Rite, then surely it is better to state that fact plainly than to hide behind euphemisms and try to blame others for things that those others have not done. And, surely, you do not have active members in your group under the age of 18. Living in the Craft means that you work daily to realize how sick and twisted are the ‘norms’ of the culture in which you find yourself.” It should be noted for clarity that the “Pagans For Change” group, in their public statements, never accused the Frosts of sexual impropriety, or illegal actions, only that they objected to their content on sexual initiations and didn’t wish for them to teach at FPG. Meanwhile, in the wake of the renewed debates and controversy over this issue, the Frosts have decided to not attend the upcoming Michigan Pagan Fest. What the long-term ramifications are of this decades-long issue within the Pagan community resurfacing once again remains to be seen.

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • PMPChannel and Green Egg/Five Rivers hosted a conversation on Friday with Jo Pax and Tzipora Katz. Quote: “Ariel Monserrat and Michael Gorman, the hosts of Green Egg/FiveRivers, have Jo Pax and Tzipora Katz join them on the air. Jo is the biological son of Kenny Klein and Tzipora is his ex-wife. The topic is a tense and emotional one, they will be talking openly and honestly about their experiences as Kenny Klein’s son and ex-wife.”
  • A new service, Pagan Broadcasting International, is starting to emerge. Quote: “While we’ve got a basic station begining to function, to turn this into a world-class Internet station will still take a bit of work – and a bit of money. So later this week, we’ll start a campaign to help fund the equipment  and software that it will take to make this happen. I haven’t decided exactly what form that campaign will take, but check back here for details!” Interested in helping out? They have a Facebook group.
  • Damh the Bard has a new songbook coming out on April 17th, “The Four Cornered Castle,” now available for pre-order. Quote: “This chord book contains the chords from my last three studio albums, The Cauldron Born, Tales from the Crow Man and Antlered Crown and Standing Stone. As with Songbook 1 there is no musical notation in the book – I don’t read music myself – but the chord shapes and locations within the lyrics will show you more about my writing process, and how to play the songs as I do. As with my last songbook, I hope you enjoy singing these songs around your camp fires, in your covens and groves, or simply on your own or with friends. Get strumming!”

CoverEarthWarriorshopbig

  • European Pagan-folk band Omnia’s new album “Earth Warrior” is out now and available for order from their website.  Quote: “OMNIA’s 14th independant production is a studio concept-album all about the Living Earth and the fight against her destruction by humanity containing 14 OMNIA compostitions written in varying acoustic-musick styles, from classical, country, bluesgrass, hard rock, jazz, native american,celtic-folk, Balkan all the way to OMNIA’s original PaganFolk.” For those of us in the United States, Omnia will be playing at Faerieworlds this Summer, and FaerieCon in November.
  • Star Foster has issued a call for participants in a book on doubt, belief, and spiritual struggle in polytheism. Quote: “I am writing this book because I think it will help people. If you have experienced a spiritual struggle, then I hope you will share your story to give others comfort and hope. I will be collecting stories until June 1, 2014.”
  • Happy 20th anniversary to Murphy’s Magic Mess on KZUM in Lincoln, Nebraska. Quote: “Thank you for all the well wishes as The Mess reaches 20 years on air. loved the ‘bumps’ musicians sent [and it] was a very fun show. We started with Buffy Sainte Marie’s “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot’ because that is the music with which I began my very first show. My how time flies. It doesn’t seem like 20 years.”
  • A few weeks back, I mentioned that The Temple of Witchcraft in Salem, New Hampshire would be holding a Spring Open House on April 6th. Now, you can see the pictures!

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

Crisis hit the Florida Pagan community this week when locals became aware that Gavin and Yvonne Frost, founders of the Church and School of Wicca, were scheduled presenters at the annual Beltane Florida Pagan Gathering 2014 (FPG.)  In the past, the Frosts’ presence at FPG has generated a moderate number of complaints. Attendees and past headliners, such as T.Thorn Coyle, have expressed concern over specific content in The Witch’s Bible (reprinted  later as The Good Witch’s Bible) describing the religious initiation practices for sexually-mature minors. This year the Frosts FPG invitation sparked more than just voiced concerns. It led to decisive action.

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Ray Romanowicz, former Division Coordinator, explains:

Monday I was checking with the workshop coordinator to see if she was doing OK … and she mentioned that the only issue she has [was] figuring out which of the preferred workshop locations to put the Frosts. I was stunned and taken aback to hear the Frosts were coming back …

In 2013 Romanowicz openly stated that if the Frosts ever returned to FPG he would resign as coordinator. On April 1 that is just what he did. He explains “I could not in good conscience be a part of any entity that allows [the Frosts] … A stand must be made someplace and I see it as here for me.” He immediately informed his community saying, “I really felt I had no other choice other than going as public as I could to shine the light on who would be speaking at FPG.”

As word spread Florida Pagans began to organize over social media. Discussions were hosted in a new private Facebook group called FrostFreeFPG. It was later renamed to Pagans for Change to reflect a more positive and global intent.

Rayna Templebee

Rayna Templebee

Concerned attendees also expressed their concerns directly to the Board via email. As Rayna Templebee describes, the response was always “the same generic reply that dismissed [their] concerns.” Rayna goes on to say, “I asked the TEG board to open their hearts to the many members of the FPG community who have survived abuse or had it touch their lives and to create a safe space by dis-inviting the Frosts to present. I never asked for them to be banned from the festival, but I respectfully suggested that they not be given an official platform for teaching as leaders or elders.”

Over the next 24 hours Rayna helped facilitate the writing of a “joint resolution to the FPG Board.” Using contributions from over a dozen people, Pagans for Change authored this official resolution stating in part:

We stand together, as modern Pagans, to urge the FPG Board to listen to our concerns and to help host and foster discussion about this critical issue. We call for a removal of the Frosts as presenters at FPG and a ban on any distribution or vending of their materials. It’s past time that our beloved community take a stand against those who advocate abuse. Silence = complicity.

While that was in process, a heated debate erupted on the the FPG Facebook page. On April 2 the Board opted to delete all of these posts saying:

Hot button issues tend to attract spectators and it has always been one of our greatest duties to protect the anonymity of our guests and staff especially those who are still in the broom closet. This is not an effort to prevent anyone from expressing their feelings about this issue whether positive or negative and we will not attempt to prevent people from posting elsewhere.

Later that same day, the FPG Board published its own statement in response to concerns stating:

Florida Pagan Gathering Beltaine 2014 will be hosting all of our headliners and workshop presenters currently signed up to present workshops, events and concerts. We want to assure everyone that FPG and TEG never has, and never will condone assault of any nature, be it verbal, physical or sexual. When our guests and staff are at FPG we work with our Guardians and fellow staff members to keep everyone as safe as possible and we respond to threats immediately.

Meanwhile Pagans for Change created a new public Facebook page in order to gather support for their cause. To date the joint resolution has been “signed” by 254 individuals and organizations including The Treasure Coast Pagan Pride Project, Everglades Moon Local Council (CoG), Moon Path Pagans, Officers of Avalon, Circle of the Moonlit Sea, Central Florida Pagan Association and more.

10176106_261906210659016_1855122944_nThe situation turned into what appeared to be a standoff as frustrations mounted on both sides. Florida resident and FPG Board member, Medea described the crisis as a “moral panic” saying, “What’s ironic is that the very thing [moral panic] that caused FPG to come into existence is the same thing that the community is facing today.”

As the hours ticked by more and more people voiced their opinions via social media. Vendor and presenter Gypsey Teague announced that she would no longer be attending FPG on ethical grounds. Orion Foxwood signed the resolution and added:

Orion Foxwood

Orion Foxwood

Some reactions to the resignation of a Florida Pagan Gathering staffer have been very narrow in their understanding of the impact a leader or author has on its community. The undeniable publishing of statements that encourage sex with minors as a “supposed traditional practice” encourages those who have these tendencies to follow them and feel they have an endorsement for it. Waiting for an arrest to stop such behavior is like saying that we need not prevent war until a bomb is dropped. With all due respect that approach is ill informed. There are two types of social change agents; activists and planners. The FPG staffer’s resignation became an activist’s call to action. Now, comes social planning where we all must foster systems to prevent harm and encourage well-being.

Then the standoff broke when an unknown individual took it upon himself to directly contact the host facility, Retreats By the Lake. Using both Twitter and Facebook, this person informed the facility’s owners that “Florida Pagans [were] embracing Sex-With-Children Advocates.” His very public statement understandably caused real concern for the child-friendly camp facility. They immediately contacted the FPG Board who then issued a second public statement:

Originally, we had a resolution where instead of hosting workshops there was going to be an open discussion with the Frosts … Unfortunately with the attack on the camp, and its owners, we cannot, in good conscience, allow the Frosts to come, even as private guests.

In response Pagans for Change emphatically stressed that this unknown person was not one of them and that his approach was “damaging to the entire community.” They added, “We support the Board’s request that it handle its relationship with the camp… We agree with the FPG Board that we need to offer each other love, support, compassion and honesty.”

After the latest turn-of-events, Ann Marie, President of the board of directors of the Temple of Earth Gathering (TEG), stressed the need for community healing in a final statement sent directly to The Wild Hunt. On behalf of the FPG Board, she said:

At the coming festival, in place of workshops that will now never be presented, we instead will attempt to hold some workshops and rituals focused on healing the community, because the pressing need right now is for us all to remember we are about one another, and our collective care for our community.

Many locals agree that the healing process does now need to begin. FPG has been and still is a beloved Florida event that is one of the center pieces in Florida’s Pagan festival life. However not everyone knows how to proceed or is even ready. Coral Bruce, a member of Spiraling Heart Coven, says, “I think [the Board] handled [the situation] poorly. They did not respond appropriately to the concerns of the community. Yes, there needs to be healing. I want to heal but I don’t know how yet.”

Camping at FPG Samhain 2013

Camping at FPG Samhain 2013

Marla Roberson, a Georgian elder and regular attendee from South Carolina agrees saying, “I have a lot of sympathy for the Board – what they have to put on and what they have to do. But I think they need to listen to their attendees … [Now] We do need to heal but I also don’t know how.” Neither Marla or Coral plans to attend FPG this year.

Rayna Templebee, on the other hand, will be attending. She says:

I had a workshop accepted that was already going to touch on sexual boundaries and ethics … so I look forward to offering that to the community.  I want to work from the inside to model a healthy and safe sexuality for the modern Craft.  I honor the work the TEG board and staff do to put on FPG and I know we can all help improve the way communication … is shared with attendees.

The situation is still on-going as new threats of lawsuits begin to appear in social media. Yesterday on Twitter the Frosts’ daughter called the protesters’ actions “illegal and bigoted.” The Frosts themselves have yet to respond to the situation on their own blog. As for Florida Pagans, FPG will go on as planned April 30-May 4 while its broken community finds ways of rebuilding and healing.

Will concerns raised in the sunshine state follow the Frosts throughout the year as they travel to other communities? Will these global ethics and safety concerns raised by Pagans for Change unleash a dialog elsewhere? Will event organizers nation-wide reevaluate their own communication processes and their relationship with their attendees to allow for more open communication concerning ethics and safety?

As the story develops, we will continue to keep you informed

Full statements:
Joint Resolution to the FPG Board
FPG Board Statement #1
FPG Board Statement #2
Pagans For Change Response
FPG Board Statement #3

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!

Fort HoodYesterday, a shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas killed 3 people, and injured 16, before the shooter took his own life. This tragedy comes after the 2009 base shooting that claimed 13 lives. I mention this here because Modern Pagans in the military and Fort Hood have a long history, and that history became controversy back in 1999 when several politicians made an issue of Wiccans and Pagans having religious gatherings on-base. Today, Pagans are an accepted part of military life at Fort Hood, and there is a regular open circle held there, with military spouse Michelle Morris serving as Distinctive Faith Group Leader. Circle Sanctuary, which has supported the Pagan circle since its inception in 1997 and is currently its sponsor, released a short statement calling for prayers of healing and support. Quote: “I, along with others with Circle Sanctuary, are networking support for the Fort Hood Open Circle as well as all in the Fort Hood community & beyond who have been impacted by today’s shootings.  We are encouraging Pagans and those of many paths to send prayers, rituals, meditations of healing, strength, and support.” We will be following up on this story next week, and speaking with Pagans on-base. For now, our prayers go out to them.

Florida_Pagan_Gathering_58705The Florida Pagan Gathering’s Beltaine festival is coming up at the end of April, and concerns are being raised over the event allowing Gavin and Yvonne Frost to present there. The Frosts, founders of The Church and School of Wicca, have had controversy follow them for decades over material published in their “Witch’s Bible” that included instructions on ritually deflowering underage youth. While a disclaimer was added in a later edition of said book, their sexual politics have often seemed very out of step with the rest of the Pagan community. I think it would be fair to say that their reluctance to remove or recant the material first published in 1972 have kept these controversies alive over the years. Now, a joint resolution signed by a number of Florida Pagans, plus supporters outside of Florida, has called for the festival to not let the Frosts teach at FPG. Quote: “We stand together, as modern Pagans, to urge the FPG Board to listen to our concerns and to help host and foster discussion about this critical issue. We call for a removal of the Frosts as presenters at FPG and a ban on any distribution or vending of their materials.” Meanwhile, the board of FPG seems to be, for now, standing by their decision to allow the Frosts to present. Quote: “Over the last 24 hours there has been several emails sent to the Board and many messages on Facebook in protest of the attendance of Gavin and Yvonne Frost as guests and workshop presenters at our upcoming FPG. At the same time we have gotten a flood of emails supporting FPG and its staff and guests. Our attendance numbers have not been affected and we are confident that this Beltaine will be well attended by the people who were truly meant to be there.” We will have more on this story on Sunday.

unnamedpathsquaresAfter the unexpected passing of Eddy Gutiérrez (aka Hyperion) back in January, there were questions as to what would happen with The Unnamed Path, a shamanic path for men-who-love-men that he had founded. Now, with the blessings of Hyperion’s family, the Brotherhood of the Unnamed Path has pledged to carry on the work of their tradition. Quote: “Hyperion has left a legacy and although nobody can replace him, we The Brotherhood recognize that we have a calling to continue this legacy and reach out to other Men-Who-Love-Men through the teachings of the Unnamed Path. His vision has become our vision and will continue to flourish despite his recent transition. This path WILL continue for Hyperion and for our selves. Classes are continuously forming for Men-Who-Love-Men seeking apprenticeships that lead to initiation by wonderful teachers who have gone through teacher training under his loving and knowledgeable guidance.” The Unnamed Path has an open group on Facebook, and you can also keep an eye on the official Unnamed Path website for further updates.

In Other Pagan Community News:

The Sigilic Tarot

Draft from The Sigilic Tarot

  • Hey tarot lovers! There’s a new tarot Kickstarter, this time it’s The Sigilic Tarot by Olivia Cox. Cox, who runs the popular The Living Wiccan Tumblr, says the deck emerged from extensive craft work using sigils. Quote: “The Sigilic Tarot is unique in its design, with 50 cards made up of 5 suits of 10 instead of the traditional 78 of major and minor arcana. Each suit represents a different aspect of our lives.” Do check it out, the designs seem very inventive!
  • Pagan elder, and avid Second Life user, Circe (also known on Second Life as Nepherses Amat), is terminally ill and raising money for home hospice care. Quote: “Circe has no money to pay for professional care. Over the last two and a half months wonderful friends and family from around the country have come to spend a week or more with her as she cannot live alone and needs assistance.”
  • For the third year in a row, The Norse Mythology Blog has won the Best Religion Weblog category in the Weblog Awards (aka “The Bloggies”). Quote: “THANK YOU to everyone who voted & asked others to vote! I hope that this groundbreaking win will send a message that the Old Way still lives in the modern world. However people approach the myths – as simple stories, as exciting adventures, as ancient truths, or as sacred writ – there is something for all of us in this wonderful tradition.” The blog now enters the hall of fame of this contest, and will no longer be eligible to run.
  • Immanion Press has issued a call for papers to be collected in an anthology on Pagan leadership, group dynamics, community activism, and healthy boundaries. Quote: “This anthology will explore leadership for real Pagans and real groups. We’re looking for essays and articles that detail leadership success stories, best practices, and ways you have worked through challenges and obstacles. Our specific focus is on techniques to help Pagans build healthier, stronger, and more sustainable groups and communities. We’d like to see a combination of hands-on how-to, personally-inspired, and academic pieces that will offer readers tools they can use in their own groups.”
  • Pagan chaplain and activist Patrick McCollum will be participating in a Peace Ambassador Training lead by James O’Dea. At this gathering once can, quote, “learn from the world’s top peace visionaries, and become an impassioned ambassador for inner and outer peace.”
  • Pagan Spirit Gathering has announced its featured presenters for this year’s festival. They include Byron Ballard, T. Thorn Coyle, musician Arthur Hinds, and several others.

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

Yesterday the noted Pagan author, activist, and teacher T. Thorn Coyle, in a three part series on her blog, tackles the issue of teachers and leaders with “feet of clay”. Specifically, she discusses the controversy-loving Frosts (that would be Gavin and Yvonne Frost of The Church and School of Wicca), their ongoing defence of largely indefensible sexual politics, and processing a recent panel she ran where she allowed them to participate.

“I am struggling with the Frosts. Struggling because it would be too easy to do as others have which is to demonize them or relegate them to the “sweet old couple.” They are something far more varied than either of these. Some people want to sweep them under a rug, but I do not think they should be ignored. Why? We need to figure out our theolog(ies). We need to know where we stand on sex. Many of us would still rather just suppress it like the overculture teaches us, because abuse may happen otherwise, or we may need to deal with our own demons. I say that abuse happens because of the suppression. Our demons grow stronger the more we constrict around our fears. Abuse happens when we don’t deal with our own sexuality, and we don’t teach our children about their own. And abuse sometimes just happens … If sex is sacred, we need to figure out how that translates and is reflected in our own lives, and in how we pass on that teaching.  And this is why, Gavin and Yvonne, as two people who have taught many others, I wish you would explain. Or I wish you would retract. Or I wish you would apologize. We could use discerning words from you instead of simply a shut down or blustering defense, or the insistence that those who disagree with you are “plastic”.”

She closes with some questions for the Frosts to answer:

“What do you really think, today, about the sexual education of children? Is sex between adolescents with adults really the best way they should learn these mysteries? How did you teach your own daughter to appreciate the powers of sex, love, and Nature?”

And some questions for her readers:

“What do you think about your own relationship to sex? To magic? To life force? To our process? To mistakes? To feet of clay? To your own regrets? To the sacred? To teaching our children?”

The sexual politics, and controversies, of the Frosts is a topic I’ve covered more than once here on this blog. I applaud Thorn for bravely stepping forward to process her own participation and feelings regarding these issues. I agree with the sentiment that we need to have an ongoing and constructive dialog concerning sex in our wider community, to actively engage with tough issues instead of ignoring them or allowing certain individuals to frame the entire moral question. I urge my readers to go through all three of her essays, and to answer her questions at her blog. Then, if you’d like, feel free to answer them, and continue the conversation, here, too. You should also keep an eye on Thorn’s podcast page, where audio and video from the panel in question will soon be posted.

I’m on the road today, making a normal post difficult, but I do have a quick item I wanted to share with you. A couple bloggers have been discussing a brand new book from the controversy-loving mail-order-Witchcraft mavens Gavin and Yvonne Frost. While Chas Clifton found much to admire in “Good Witches Fly Smoothly: Surviving Witchcraft”, fellow Pagan blogger Hecate found at least one passage troubling.

“Any initiatory sex should be with a “stranger” — an initiated Witch of the coven [that] the neophyte plans to join. . . . The underlying tradition here is sometimes overlooked. If the Craft means enough to you that you are willing to abide by its tenets then abide by them! If you cannot transcend your cultural brainwashing and accept the assignment to have sex one time with an assigned partner, in accordance with centuries of Craft tradition, the Craft can’t mean that much to you. Here’s the door. Don’t call yourself a Witch.”

This prompts Hecate to make the following disclaimer regarding the Frosts:

This is just wrong. And I need to point out the wrongness so that any young or impressionable people new to Wicca, who may stumble upon the Frosts’ work, don’t believe what the Frosts say about initiation and sex.

After the last major storm over their sexual politics, you have to wonder what the Frosts are playing at. Are they, as some defenders have asserted, being shocking on purpose in order to stir the cauldron? Creating controversy to boost sales? Or are they, as their most vocal critics say, sick people with a warped moral compass. Personally, I think the Frosts started out by wanting to trigger debate and controversy but have begun to believe their own hype over the years. After all, there’s no such thing as bad press right? Needless to say, I haven’t run into a Witch or Wiccan group, traditonal or eclectic, who demanded sexual congress with a “stranger” for an initiatory process. Have you?

[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!