Whispers and Speculation: American Council of Witches 2015

UNITED STATES – In recent weeks, an anonymous group claims to be reviving the American Council of Witches (ACW). In doing so, the group has raised questions from the wider Pagan community concerning their motives and secrecy. Someone has even created Facebook page, mimicking the American Council of Witches 2015’s page, adding the word “SRSLY” to the logo. Who is organizing this council? What is their purpose? The Wild Hunt looks closer at this group and its goals, interviews one of the council members in waiting, and finds out how other Pagans feel about its possible rebirth.

A Brief History of the American Council of Witches
In 1973, Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, owner and chairman of Llewellyn Worldwide, helped organize the American Council of Witches. The group convened in Minneapolis, Minnesota but disbanded shortly after, allegedly due to internal divisions. Before disbanding, the group managed to put together the Thirteen Principles of Belief, which was a general set of principles for Witches. That material was subsequently incorporated into the 1978 edition of the Army’s military chaplain’s handbook.

In 2011, a new group calling itself the U.S. American Council of Witches attempted to form. This new council said it was coming together after receiving a request from the U.S. military to update the Thirteen Principles of Belief.  However, almost from the beginning, there were questions raised about the goals, structure, and secrecy surrounding the renewed council. The main Pagan media outlet investigating and reporting on the 2011 council was The Modern Witch Podcast, hosted by Devin Hunter and Rowan Pendragon. They questioned the new council’s founder, Kaye Berry, about concerns raised by the wider Pagan community. After intense scrutiny, several prominent members of the council resigned and it disbanded.


A New Council Forms
Now another attempt is being made at resurrecting the American Council of Witches and, similar to past years, questions are being raised about its goals, structure, and secrecy.

One of those persons raising questions is the very one who asked the tough questions in 2011. Devin Hunter said:

We do not know the voices behind this new attempt but we do know they are planning to do something with the principles according to their logo. There are a two definite similarities between this new attempt and the previous which immediately surface.

The first is that there is a deep lack of transparency from these organizers. From posts on their Facebook page they claim a council already exists and that they are investigating murders while waiting to convene on March 1st. All this but no website, no organization, no community outreach, just a Facebook page and a single webpage with a logo.

The second is that there appears to be from my perspective a lot of similar language being used, which got the previous organizer in a lot of hot water. The previous organizer did not like questions from the media nor the general community, even going as far as to delete inquiries so that no one could see them being challenged. Currently they are not taking questions because they are awaiting the completion of a website. Mind you, this meeting is suppose to take place in less than two weeks.

As Hunter notes, the available information about the group, its goals, and even who is organizing it, is scarce. On its Facebook fan page, the group has stated that no official council members have been selected and that all information will be released on March 1st.

However, as shown by their Facebook posts, organizers do claim there are already council members in-waiting, nominated by the group’s Chairwoman, a webmaster, a legal team, and a person designated to review future council members. They recently announced they are accepting an open call for people interested in applying to join the council.

In a response post, Cathy Fia Moritz said: I’m not trying to be contentious. But, I would at least like to know who is posting these [Facebook] updates and who will be behind any press releases or any other actions, external or within our community.”

In a direct reply, Brandon Erickson said,First I’m going to address the need to know “who” it is, you don’t know these people they are not famous, nor are they seeking any kind of notoriety, so “who” it is does not matter, What matters is that they are qualified for the job, and have the craft’s best interests at heart with people like you and myself and others in mind. … So please stop worrying about something that has no bearing on anything that is going on here. As for your concern about behind closed doors, it is up and coming things are being put together and worked on to be made public. I have never seen an organization bother other people with how it is being put together beyond those that are directly involved with putting it together, you have all been notified of the goings on’s and workings of this council and such by this page’s statements. Nothing is going on behind closed doors that is of any concern to anybody but those directly involved in the steps to get this running.”

According to the fan page, ACW2015 has reached out to “Authors, Musicians, Counselors, and even a Publisher or two.” Organizers said, “We have established that this council will not represent just Wicca, but all facets of Paganism that we can…” They added that, after March 1st, they will list the names and bios of each council person on their website. Additionally, the group has said that they plan to revise the Thirteen Principles of Belief and to write at least one book.

However, none of this has eased community concerns. There are too many unanswered questions. In one Facebook post, the group said that Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, chairman of the last council (1974), gave “his permission to relaunch the Council.”

However, Mr. Weschcke, through Llewellyn employee Elysia Gallo, disputes that claim. She said, Carl Llewellyn Weschcke has obviously seen a lot of Wiccan and Pagan groups come and go in his time, and he receives requests for his personal involvement in different organizations all the time. At this point in his life, he is concentrating his energy on writing his own books, passing the torch to others as far as organizing and action goes. He was contacted by a person calling for the formation of a 2015 American Council of Witches, asking for his advice and his recollections of the instigating spirit and goals of the original 1974 Council. Carl, always the professional, always interested in furthering the “New Age,” gave a polite response to the effect of “good luck but I can’t take on anything else,” as he has a full plate. Such a response should not be construed as an endorsement of this association or its goals.

Who is Behind the Council?
The Wild Hunt attempted to contact the ACW2015 and was directed to Elwin La Fae Herman and Heath Keeper. Heath Keeper said our questions would need to be answered by a Lady Rhiannon Martin, one of the founders of a Seax Wicca line called SerpentStone. Unfortunately, Lady Rhiannon was unavailable due to personal circumstances.

After repeated attempts to contact Ms. Herman, we were sent a message stating:

I regret to inform you that with such a short time we are unable to answer all of these to a satisfactory solution; however, all of this information will be on our Facebook page come March 1st. At which time we will have a chair person for public relations and gladly be able to address as many of your questions as we can if you would like to set up an interview then.

In addition, we were told to “refrain from contacting [the] council further.” Like 2011 Council, the organizers won’t talk to the media.

However, the Council has stated that Kaye Berry, who lead the 2011 revival, is not associated with this attempt. Beyond that, the group has not given out any membership information despite repeated questioning on their Facebook page by members of the community. For example, Don Wildgrube wrote:

I was in the original Council of American Witches in Minneapolis in 1973. It was open as far as membership and knowledge of each other was concerned. I am concerned because the only way that we know who is in this group is by occasional postings. Make the membership public to the rest of us. If necessary, make this a closed group, so we can see who is a part of this group, so we can contact each other. Also the web page only has the illustration that is on the upper left of this group and nothing more. If we are to cooperate, let us do so.

Other than Elwin La Fae Herman, Lady Rhiannon Martin, Brandon Chaffinch (web designer), and Donna Clifton (Council Member in Waiting) not much else is known and all details highly guarded.  Another unnamed source wouldn’t release the name of the person spearheading this effort, presumed to be the Chairwoman, but did offer a few extra details. The council’s goals are to “update the 1974 tenets and release the discussions in a book form under a pen name.” The organizers do not appear to be affiliated with any larger organizations and meetings will be held over the internet to allow “witches from all over the country to participate.” The organizers have also allegedly said that the idea for the 2015 revival was discussed over social media and in podcasts, and that many people supported it happening. 

Interview with Council Member in Waiting
Fortunately, The Wild Hunt was able to talk with one council member-in-waiting. Donna Clifton is an eclectic solitary Pagan who goes by the craft name of Lady Belladonna. She said that she first heard of the effort to resurrect the council back in January.

“I was conversing with someone who was aware that it was forming, and the person asked me if I would be interested in becoming a part of it.” Unfortunately, she declined to give the name of that person, saying that she didn’t have permission and would feel uncomfortable passing it along.

Donna Clifton [courtesy photo]

Donna Clifton [courtesy photo]

The Wild Hunt:  Why do you want to be part of the council and about when did you hear of it?
Donna Clifton:The reason I accepted the nomination was because I have experience, and I feel that I can represent the voice of the Solitary pagan. I feel that in this modern day time frame that many other kinds of Pagan faiths have surfaced, and there is much more diversity being expressed in today’s Pagan world than represented in the mainstream.

TWH: What do you know of the council’s goals?
DC:  The goals are basically to address witchcraft in the present day and help to address modern day practitioners to help and guide those of future generations.

TWH:  How do you see the council as helping guide future generations?
DC: It is not to re-define anything, but to address the issues of the modern day practitioner. This council has the vision of things taking place in the modern times, and the issues that we face in our own day and age, and we hope to be able to address those things and find solutions that our continued freedoms can go forward.

TWH:  How do you think this council will be different from the effort in 1973 or the failed attempt in 2011?
DC: This time more planning and organization will have gone into the efforts.

TWH: What kind of planning and organization? Is there an example that illustrates that?
DC: Nothing that I can elaborate on at this present time.

TWH: When and how will you be confirmed as a council member? What’s the process?
DC:  March will be the time frame that the council will be formed and, at the moment, I do not have the authority to go into that explanation, I will be happy to go to the people who are for you if you would like, and let them explain what can be explained right now.

TWH:  Are you excited? Scared?
DC: I am. Wow, perhaps all of the above. Hoping that I can accurately represent the solitary practitioner this is a big responsibility.

TWH:  I can understand that. The group is already getting quite a bit of attention by the greater Pagan community. And people have been asking why there’s so much secrecy around the council. How do you respond to that?
DC:  Because nothing is set in stone at the moment. Answers given at this present time could possibly change.

TWH: But why keep the names of the organizers secret? Is there a purpose for that?
DC:  When everything is in place all things will be revealed. It’s a matter of timing. Once more, that too is subject to change.

TWH:  Is there anything you can say about the council? Or wish to say? Anything you’d be excited for our readers to know?
DC:  I would say that those within it have pure intent and the highest hopes of coming together in a united purpose of representing modern Witchcraft at its best.

*   *   *

Will this attempt pan out better than the failed 2011 attempt, as Clifton believes? Hunter gave this advice:

The last time an attempt was made it was so unorganized and immediate that there was no possible way for it to take off and be successful. It fell under scrutiny because it was unable to provide basic and important information, gain the favor of the community by actually courting it over a period of time, and because in the end it was the ego driven dream of someone with a keyboard.

I think that for something like this to ever happen it would need to be something new and gain it’s reputation by real work and ingenuity. It would need to start off with a small grassroots community that would grow over time and momentum. It would need to shed the term council and there would need to be an actual effort beyond a computer screen. The organization behind it would need to seek real legitimacy within the community before even attempting to convene such a group and there would need to be an actual need for it to begin with.

Time will tell. March 1 is less than two weeks away.

UPDATE: The Wild Hunt has learned that The United Pagan Radio has scheduled a live broadcast with council members at 4:30pm EST today Feb. 19. They will then replay bits of the afternoon show and more at 10:00pm EST tonight.

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130 thoughts on “Whispers and Speculation: American Council of Witches 2015

  1. The lack of transparency and willingness to respond to legitimate media requests concerns me. A lot. I also find (and always have) the idea of a having a representative for solitary practitioners without some sort of public electoral process to be misleading.

  2. Are they prepared to be the butt of ridicule, jokes and at times outright hostility? Not only is it presumptuous on their part that Witchcraft or Wicca need any sort of “representation” like this, but trying to set themselves up as a central authority in a community that sustains itself on individualism and autonomy is probably going to subject them to a great deal of derision and ridicule. There are better ways to spend one’s time than trying to be a body of authority representing the whole of witchcraft. Even the ways we define Wicca, Witchcraft and Paganism have changed radically since 1974 and which specific definition are they planning on using for their basis?

    Hubris. Such a dangerous thing to see in any community. They should look it up in a dictionary.

      • I wish it was. Now, if Sacha Baron Cohen did a spoof of Alex Sanders and laid claim to “King of the Witches”, THAT I would pay good money to see!

    • I think it is pretty obvious that Pagans need representation in worldly Politics in a religious sense. If I were to get fired or discriminated against for being Pagan, it’d be lovely to have an organization on my side to protect me. In this world, especially with natural religions, we have an insane amount of religious issues that need attending to. People are executed and put into jail for blasphemy in many parts of the world — the Burning Times are now.

  3. Wow, you really softballed them, considering how badly they’ve responded to your inquiries. If you disappear off Facebook again after this article, I’ll have your back.

  4. I’m sure the organizers think they’re doing something really great, but in reality it’s pretty much irrelevant to the majority of witches before it even begins.

  5. The lack of transparency is a real problem. Purporting to represent an entire group when the group doesn’t know who you are, much less agree to be represented, is BS. Plus…”investigating murders”?! WTF?

    • There was an unfortunate tragedy recently where a young man was killed by his father. There was speculation and rumor that the killing may have been motivated by the victim’s possible Transgender journey or purported claim of paganism. The ACoW indicated through a Facebook posting that they would be seeking involvement in determining if this was a hate crime and then issuing a press release. After contacts of the victim commented via news media that those alleged motivations were patently false and that this killing was, in fact, more likely drug-fueled domestic violence, the ACoW backed down.

      • A Pagan or Wiccan org that investigates murders? DON’T count me in…. Let the cops do their job – SRSLY!

        • I dunno, there are a lot of murders the cops have proven pretty terrible at investigating. Especially the ones they commit, but not only those.

          On the other hand, I’d totally read that cozy mystery series.

  6. I don’t think it’ll work. We don’t do dogma; and as my teacher used to say, if we could organize, we’d be Methodists.

  7. Pagan Unity is not about making one religion, and this council was not about changing the principles of Wicca. I own a pagan talk radio station where our slogan is “Unification through diversification”, and we strive to educate and share knowledge between all pagan paths. We CAN be unified as pagans and hold onto our unique diversity. Remember people, a chorus of many is always louder than a whisper of one.

  8. It’s interesting how you forget who’s really in charge of the pagan community. If you’re doing this to teach, there’s no point, you lack the knowledge to move past the First Teir. If you’re doing this to make yourselves known, the Christians will start killing us again. Magick was stripped away from all but the thirteen bloodlines, almost a thousand years ago, to protect us, from them. Or have you forgotten that? You flatscans forget who’s really in charge of Pagan society, and it’s not you lot.

      • It’s very reminiscent of what my fundamentalist Christian (his self-identification, back in the ’80s) neighbor tried to tell me was the “truth” about Wicca back when I was first feeling my way into pagan/polytheist religion. His information came from alleged “ex-witch” informants who populate the fundamentalist Christian lecture circuit, and who publish books purporting to expose “secrets” of witchcraft. These are the same sort of people who claim to be “experts in the occult” for police departments, but who universally don’t know anything factual about the subject. I suspect that this person is a fundamentalist/evangelical Christian troll.

    • Well, I don’t know who YOU think is in charge of Pagan Society, but I can tell you who they aren’t in charge of: me. And I am just one of a multitude. So cry yourself a river, honey, because the ACoW is going to be all dressed up with no one to be in charge of….

    • Do any of you even know why actual magick is no longer actually usable? Or where the origins of the pagan name came from? Or the actual origin of the BoS? Or why the abrahamics stopped killing us, in general? Or the origin of modern day paganism? Seriously, you lot think you know. If you’re a solitaire, you know bookstore knowledge. You’re in the dark for a reason. If you’re not of any of the thirteen original, or thirteen new bloodlines, you can not only not use magick, you dont have access to any real knowledge. The world isnt ready for witches, druids, shamans, voodoo practitioners, eclesyiens, or any magick prone to practice in general, let alone in the open. This faux council will only put bullseyes on our backs. Or have they forgotten history. The inquisitions, the witch trials, the thousands upon thousands of innocent’s burned, and murdered in the name of the god of the jews/christians/muslims, seriously. Bad idea.

    • He’s right, kiddo’s. The Council of Umbras shut them down in the 70’s, they’ll shut them down again. If you’re not of the blood, you have not one single clue. You fake witches with your stupid little wannabe names, know nothing about how the society works. You cannot even use actual magick, you’re all flatscans, observing a culture, and a way of life you know little to nothing about. Mark my words, the right people already know, this will not stand. If we wanted to be thrust into the public eye, we’d already be there. You posers, and wannabes are playing a dangerous game. You want to line up for the slaughter, feel free, but you will not set the reat of the actual community up to be decimated, because you think we should live in the open. The last thousand years of secrecy has protected us, and will continue to do so well into the future.

      • Oh, for the love of Cernunnos…are you two going to start calling non-lineaged folk “muggles”?

      • Flatscans? Hah…what’s next, do you start announcing “Magneto was right?”

        (Usually X-Men comics references are for the win, but not when combined with this stupidity.)

    • Lol. You lot are a sad lot. If you think you know anything about paganism, than riddle me this. Why isnt paganism mainstream? Seriously. Even with all the exposure over the recent years, in film, tv, and whatnot, why are only the stupid little, bookstore, solitaires the ones who actually want the exposure? Seriously. Actual pagan society, is set up, and structured, similar to the vatican. Any pagan knowledge worth saving, is locked away somewhere, so that the inexperienced, cant touch it. And yes, there are twenty six governing bloodlines. Two sets of thirteen. Their first task, is to protect the bloodlines, second task is to preserve the knowledge, and culture of ALL of paganism, and everything under the metaphoric umbrella. The pagan name stems from the bloodlines, and having to hide from the abrahamic religions. The bloodline name, usually isnt the same as the birthname, these days. You Silver Ravewolf’s, and Lady Belladonna’s are a mockery of actual tradition.

      And behold, we walk in silence, doing no harm to our brethren, or to our world. We will guide them, and nurture them, for those who abandoned the old ways, are lost. — Book of Shadows C21/V223.

      Oh yeah, there’s an actual Book of Shadows, with all of our recorded history, dating back to the Roman Empire. The modern version, is merely for personal record keeping, or something of the sort. This ACW will never happen, if it does, it will happen under the rules of the CoU. Sorry, but that’s just how it’s going to be. 1600 years of being killed by the christians/muslims is enough reason to stay hidden.

      • If the “actual” Pagan community is such a secretive affair, why are you and Bathory blabbing about it on the Internet?

      • then please, by all mneans, be silent, the more you gab to make yourself and twenty six lines of any knowledge or importance, the more we know YOU are fake, and only desiring ligitimacy of insane beliefs of your own making

      • What the heck even is this tinfoil-hatted nonsense? What’s a “flatscan”? Umbras? eclesyiens? Sounds like someone was force-fed the DaVinci Code while reading a grimoire.

  9. having read the few comments here I began to wonder how hide bound most witches and pagans were. It frightens me to see comments of closeted witches and pagans. If anything history should have taught us that we can no longer hide form the general public. The time is coming when we need to form protective organizations and be willing to stand up and fight for our rights. I heard the term “that getting pagans and witches together for anything was like herding cats”. After seeing the comments here I can well understand that comment. I already know that from this group there will be one nasty comment after another, which says a lot about them. I have reached the age of 70 and think that what this council thing is trying to do is finally a progressive action. I applaud them.

    • ChildOfApollo, the concept of collective representation in and of itself is definitely sound, and in my opinion, potentially a good thing at this time in American society. I think the bigger concern here is the way this group of people is going about doing this.

    • I’m only 2 years younger than you, and have been in the Craft since 1973. I can’t agree with you though I understand where you’re coming from. I think it’s time for Witches to remove ourselves from the larger Pagan community. Pagans in general would benefit from organizing and politicizing. Witches will not. Putting our focus and energy into these things has, in my experience, only caused us to lose most of what made us Witches in the first place. Pagans can parade down Main street, and more power to them. Witches belong in the shadows where we can practice the Old Ways in peace and privacy.

    • Never mind that there are still people who face real danger if they come out. No, no, everybody should be out all the time because you say so. But this council, that should be all secretive and shit.

  10. I think I speak for the entire Pagan community when I say no one speaks for the entire Pagan community. This is asinine. I cannot understand what purpose this would serve in the larger Pagan discourse, much less for a “solitary witch.”

    • The purpose was initially to review the principles of wiccan belief and see if they still applied today. Also to see what people really thought about them, and report on it. Is it asinine to gather information and show your results? If it is, I will print this and eat it. 🙂

      • The 13 Principles were irrelevant to the majority of Witches in 1973, and they certainly don’t apply today. This organization is an adventure in futility; instead of constantly attempting to reinvent the wheel, get involve with the organizations that already exist and are actually doing this type of work.

      • Nobody forms a council for the purposes of doing a survey. A commission, perhaps, but real study commissions have a clear mandate from a particular institution or entity, and they can articulate from day one what the scope and nature of their work will be. They can also without hesitation describe the process for appointing the panel and exactly what sort of expertise and constituencies will be represented on that commission. If a survey is the point, that could easily be done by any one of a number of fine academics who study our movement these days.

        This sounds a whole lot more like a solution in search of a problem. The “solution” or foregone conclusion is that some group of elders wants to acquire status as national authority figures. The problem is coming up with some kind of project or plan of work that justifies the existence and authority of a self-appointed national council.

          • If you can say that and walk a line, then you aren’t too familiar with our movement’s history.

            Yeah, we get a little testy when people we don’t know who have a mushy agenda undertake to represent us with no mandate to do so.

            This movement has been full to the brim over decades with self-important people appointing themselves kings and queens and formulating grand councils to stoke their own egos and stir drama.

            Here in the Chicago area, we had a lovely little chapter of history known as the Witch Wars of the 1980s and 90s, the reverberations of which still can be felt today. There were endless inquiries about whose lineages and whose initiations were “real”, character assassination between groups vying for members.

            A hell of a lot of good people were driven from the Craft forever, and if you hadn’t noticed, Wicca is held in generally low repute among many corners of the Pagan world precisely over these sorts of things. With only 10 years in, I’ve had to live through some of this crap myself, having my own good faith offer of work on veteran’s issues spat back at me because of the politics of one of these wretched little councils which had appointed itself to “unify” witches in the area.

            No one speaks for me but myself, and I don’t align myself with groups or individuals until I know who and what they really are as demonstrated by consistent deeds, not words.

            I support Circle Sanctuary. It’s a real organization which has walked its walk since I could walk. I know who the principals are and the work they do. I don’t know who this supposed council is or who charged them with preserving or maintaining the “common principles of the Craft.” Transparency, character and track record count with me, and the first of the three is paramount in these times.

          • I am not too familiar? What have you done for the pagan community??? I was raised pagan, 3rd generation, this is all I have known. I have bled for my religion. I have been put in the hospital for my religion. I have upheld standards and aimed for unity for years… so how dare you tell me I’m not to familiar with anything. You are all way to judgmental

          • If you have all this depth in the community, and I have no reason to doubt that you do, you should understand as well as any of us that secrecy and pretensions to authority have an incredibly toxic history in our movement, and demands for trust under those conditions are an absolute non-starter for today’s pagans.

          • Yes, profoundly upset.
            Someone trying to set ‘principles’ of my religion, when it’s upmost principles is its autonomy…is upsetting.
            Trying to put legitimacy on it by calling it ‘Council of American Witches’ ir *really* upsetting.

  11. I have personally encountered derision, disrespect and discrimination based on my spiritual choices from family, specific circumstances in my more public living, and the general public mentality about paganism. There are those who view paganism as anything from a comic endeavor to those who see it as an actual threat to be responded to with violence.

    It concerns me greatly that this individual/group of people is allowing a perception to perpetuate that they have some level of authority and/or consensus of representation for the pagan/witchcraft community. As others have also said, the utter lack of transparency and unwillingness to provide direct, meaningful answers to reasonable inquiries is troubling.

    The damage potential for any actions (intentional or not) from this organization is significant. The secretive convening of the existing group and arbitrary parameters for future “candidates” gives me zero confidence in the ability of this “council” to legitimately, and safely, represent the community either internally or, more significantly, externally. The possibility of doing a lot more harm than good is very high. The lack of a reasonably informative reply only adds to my apprehension.

  12. Although I am not a member of this council… but people, please… let’s give a chance for clarification and explanation before we lash out. We are Pagans, whether we are wiccan or druid or whatever, we shouldn’t bark at each other like dogs. There are so many other things we can center our energies on.

  13. Excellent article. So far they have avoided requests for clarification and explanation…

    • HI. I am working on that problem right now. And I want to apologize to everyone again for this. It is so detrimental to everything I’ve been raised to believe about fellow pagans 🙁

    • They have not only avoided requests for clarification, they ave banned, deleted and silenced those of us asking those questions. That smacks of fear and ego. If they can’t be assed to address people who are questioning them and engage them in discourse, and instead ban and delete their comments… they show themselves unable to represent anybody but their own egos.

      I asked a lot of very valid questions about who they are, who taught them, what traditions they followed, how long they have been practicing, were they upstanding members of their communities, did they have criminal records, were they doing drugs etc.. and they deleted my questions and banned me.

      The lack of transparency and inability to address and engage dissenters and questions from other pagans gives them a failing grade in my book.

  14. Wicca does not represent all of Craft/Pagan people. I’m wary that they’re looking to be some sort of reps for all of the community. Their nebulous and evasive responses puts my back up.

  15. This is absurd. The so-called “transparency report” that they posted earlier today is anything but transparent, and gives no information that leads me to believe that this is an attempt to for a legitimate council — and that term is defined as “a council that American Witches believe has the credibility to say anything at all”.

  16. Yawn, another day, another wannbe group leading all Pagans. We at the Maetreum already held two International Pagan Leadership Councils and elected the Queen of the Witches which carries the exact same weight as any other group doing the same. The Councils were announced and open to all, didn’t make it? Sorry about that.

    Yes, this was humour for the humour impaired amongst you… but we did actually hold the councils.

    • Ask why they DELETE posts and BLOCK anybody who questions them. Seems mighty suspect to me. If they can’t handle questions and resort to removing anybody that doesn’t say good things about them, it seems to me they are not worthy of anything but being called ego driven losers.

    • I listened for several minutes, but since this is being done at 1:30pm on the west coast, I had to get back to work. However, all I heard was Robert Aaron complaining about how he was “attacked” on FB, and preaching about how terrible people are with their lack of patience. Hopefully, something with more substance will be published, but I won’t be holding my breath.

  17. They have removed posts by me asking for their credentials, removed a post by a friend asking why the were removing posts of individuals who questioned them. Blocked us both from posting.

    They lack transparency, lack the will or desire to engage with anyone who questions them or asks for their bonafides like how long they have been in the craft, who taught them etc. They are a farce. Ego driven. Full of hubris and arrogance.

    They don’t want anybody to question them. They only left posts up that were supportive of them and not posts that questioned them. I don’t think they are a council at all. I think the person you interviewed is the only member of this supposed council and I think this is an ego driven, pride driven act of sheer arrogance and self delusion.

    They are afraid to reveal themselves. That earns my immediate distrust. They delete any questioning or dissenting commentary. That earns them a failed before even starting grade in my mind.

  18. So two things: they’re announced that they’re going on “United Pagan Radio” (unitedpaganradio.net) to talk about what they’re doing. Apparently that show will be at 5pm EST, which is the middle of the work afternoon on the West Coast. Second, it appears they disabled comments on their FB.

    • At 4:55 pn EST they’re reading a “Mission Statement” of their draft document!!!!

      • Unfortunately, none of those times work today. Luck of the draw; a different day would have had other openings. The best option for me is the same that I use for all of my news feeds: podcast format that I can download and listen to during my commute. Is that an option?

  19. As an uninitiated (albeit well-read) solitary practitioner who was an actual Army officer — the military is clearly looking for guidance that will apply to EVERY service member who identifies themself as a Wiccan (or possibly even just as a Witch). It DOESN’T matter to the military if they’re BTW, TIW, eclectic, or self-initiated solitary. The military WILL treat EVERY service member identifying themself as a Wiccan with the same respect and assistance.

    This is obviously going to be a huge stumbling block — but one that is going to have to be surmounted IF WE’RE NOT TO GET EXCLUDED.

    My recommendation is this: Keep this Council, but ALL it gets to do is to coordinate the forming of a TIMETABLE of how to respond to the military. The military will accept a timetable for an accurate response in lieu of a response that turnsd out to be useless.

      • Exactly. Someone PLEASE show me these requests.
        I’ve not heard of it, and I’m still serving.

      • How would the military know to go to them if they haven’t even launched their group? I’m confused. I want details about what allegedly happened with the military.

        • There have been repeated claims, from people NOT in the Chaplaincy, that the Chaplaincy is looking to update its various guides to religious practices (DA PAM 165-13 and 165-13-1).

          I’ve not seen any official statements of that sort out of the Chaplaincy, nor has the Chaplain in my unit.

  20. I’m a bit surprised that nobody mentioned an American council of Witches that has existed for forty years. It’s called the Covenant of the Goddess. CoG’s bureaucratic structure and requirements for membership were put in place partly to avoid the internal struggles that brought the original ACoW to an early end.

    CoG from the outset has declined to formulate any official list of witchcraft beliefs or practices. That is not to say that no one should try to do this, but CoG has found that it can work effectively to get agencies, institutions and the general public to respect our religion without issuing doctrinal statements.

    CoG has an annual corporate meeting open to the public, elected officers, a regularly updated website, and a written set of bylaws. Roughly half of CoG’s members are covens and half are individuals. Members have a range of choices about who gets to know that they are members; some are totally out of the closet and some mostly in it. Many traditions of the Craft and any number of eclectic witches are represented in the Covenant. We may practice a mystery religion, but there’s nothing mysterious about CoG.

    The Covenant of the Goddess is far from perfect. Some members think that CoG doesn’t do a great job of serving solitary witches. There is room for other witchcraft organizations with different goals and different structures. If you are out to build a better mousetrap, first study the failures of existing mousetrap models and think of how to fix them. Deciding whether you want to include all Pagans or only Witches would be an obvious first step.

    • “The Covenant of the Goddess is far from perfect. Some members think that
      CoG doesn’t do a great job of serving solitary witches. There is room
      for other witchcraft organizations with different goals and different
      structures. If you are out to build a better mousetrap, first study the
      failures of existing mousetrap models and think of how to fix them.
      Deciding whether you want to include all Pagans or only Witches would be
      an obvious first step.”

      Absolute agreement, Deborah!

  21. As a Traditional Wiccan Witch, I am very concerned about who this council is going to be deeming QUALIFIED to represent the community of Wiccan Witches.
    Another thing that truly bothers me is someone tampering with a document that is old and has worked just fine all these years??
    If there is something about it that you DONT like , then WRITE YOUR OWN!! But don’t go to an already existing document that our ELDERS have written trying to change it by riding their coat tails …. trying to FIX something that is clearly NOT BROKEN!!
    Be creative and WRITE YOUR OWN!
    In addition, the SECRECY that this group portrays and taking down questions by community that are legitimate questions is very suspicious behavior. This community had the RIGHT to ask questions and deserve the respect of honesty and integrity of anyone who plans to “represent” them!!
    If you do not do this, you will not get the respect in return!!!
    They also deserve to KNOW NAMES, credentials and qualifications if anyone who plans to “represent” them!!
    I say … put them out of commission until they go about it in the right ways!

    • It actually amazes me how some people in our community are always trying to change something!! Always trying to “fix things that are not broken”!! Why??? Leave things alone!! It’s like going in and trying to rewrite the Charge if the Goddess!! These documents are sacred and have been written by our Elders!! Leave them alone and WRITE YOUR OWN!!

      • An elder of one of the Craft traditions in which I am initiated once joked that the Charge of the Goddess is the closest thing that the Craft has to a sacred text, and the first thing anyone does upon becoming a Witch is to rewrite it.

        The Charge of the Goddess is one of the most respected and beloved texts that Wiccans use. In the lineages I’m connected to, I don’t think the Charge is seen as sacred in the same way that the Grantham Sahib is a sacred text for Sikhs, or the Gospels for (some) Christians. The Charge of the Goddess is not understood to be a revealed text in quite that way; it is a finger pointing at the Moon.

  22. Considering the vast number of Pagan elders who are part of my network and NOT ONE of them was even approached to possibly be a part of this, I must say there is NO WAY that this group could possibly represent Wicca, Witchcraft, or Paganism as a whole. Bearing that in mind, even if they do not want to release individual names of council members, at least tell which specific traditions will be represented by the council members!

  23. Also, there is the fact that Circle Sanctuary already has similar stated missions and has been doing an excellent job.

    • Lady Midnight, you read my mind! I’m also bothered by their name, which has an officiousness about it, vs. Circle Sanctuary, which brings up a different image. Also the seeming misdirection of Weschke, who really didn’t give it his blessing.

      I’m left with an image of Jessica Lange being very Machiavellian 🙂 Maybe the new ACOW watched American Horror Story: Coven too many times?

  24. Witches don’t need a “council”; never have. The Coven structure has lasted for years and the autonomy of Covens has been widely successful. If it hadn’t a lot of us wouldn’t even be here. I know Kaye Berry and I would not support anything that either her or others attempting to emulate her are behind.

  25. This is just another of countless attempts by groups to appoint themselves Vatican of the Craft, and it will meet with the same well-deserved fate. They have no mandate to speak for any witches but themselves, and through their anonymity, they have abdicated even that.

  26. 2015: The American Council Of Witches was constituted. The Greater Pagan community snickered and guffawed.

    By 2023 however, that had changed. A definite chill had descended over the Greater Pagan community.

    That was because the mere thought of a summons to appear before The American Council Of Witches filled ordinary Witches and Pagans with unrelenting dread. For those whom a summons was issued disappeared, never to be seen or heard from ever again by their friends or loved ones again.

    Pagans who publically disagreed with the edicts of The American Council Of Witches had a unfortunate habit of disappearing in the dark of night. Vans and non descript sedans bearing the symbols of The American Council Of Witches would be seen in the vicinity of the of the homes of these Pagans. Uniformed officials would get out and enter the domiciles of said Pagans and then suddenly leave with the offending individuals, shackled and a sack draped over their heads.

    Occasionally a body would be found a few days later. It was inevitably defaced to the point the forensics of the local police and other law enforcement agencies could not identify them, even with the most modern techniques.

    The message was clear. If you value your freedom and your life you do not speak against The American Council Of Witches. The word of The American Council Of Witches was law within the Greater Pagan community.

  27. I think a council would be really helpful in the world. I don’t however think it should be specifically the “witches” council. I think they should have as many representatives from the pagan community as possible not just Wicca, but Norse tradations, Egyptian etc. They should include a lot of beliefs because that’s what makes up not only Wicca but paganism as a whole. If this gets started it has the potential to be great uniting many people among the world that before we’re hard to find. I can remember when I started my journey how hard it was to do it alone with so many beliefs to look at. I hope this actually gets started and stays.

  28. As of right now, FB says that the “Community — American Council of Witches 2015” is a closed group with 43 members. What I heard last night was that there was a draft document already put together — by an anonymous council that supposedly actually hasn’t been formed yet, and who I have yet to see any HPS endorse.

    I suggest that a counter-movement should be formed to stop this Wiccan-version of a “Beer Hall Putsch”, before we get a tsunami of bad media attention.

  29. I think it’s a wonderful thing to have people with experience willing to lend their time and skill as liasons between the Pagan community and intenties like the federal government. The Reverend Selena Fox and Circle Sanctuary do this quite well.

    But Revevend Fox and others have worked to promote religious freedom and the obtainment of rights, which other groups enjoy; Pagan symbols on the military tombstones of Pagan soldiers being one example.

    There has always been transparency with these efforts. I call into question any supposed organization who claims to be working for my greater good and isn’t open about their process.

    I don’t want someone representing my children and I without knowing their particulars.
    To assume you qualify to represent a very diverse community is a bit assinine.
    What are your credentials, experience, background, and practice? You assume too much. As a whole, the Pagan community often seeks answers for itself. It is an intellegent group of indevilduals and deserves to be treated as such.
    To treat it as anything less is poor representation already. Do not allow intetest in your project to build through rumor and innuendo doesn’t bj ode well for a successful venture.

    • Because they have essentially already demanded that we render judgement that they are our legitimate representatives while at the same time doing all of the things which argue against giving them the benefit of the doubt.

  30. A pagan in the upper group that is the Council of Witches. Why would witches want that kind of representation.

  31. Why all the fuss? If they’re still getting their act together back off and give them time to do it. All this request for “transparency” for an organization that hasn’t even officially announced would be like the public standing behind a painter and offering advice and criticism while he’s still in the process of sketching the idea.

    They’ve give March 1st as a date when they will officially “open”. Why not wait until they get all their people in place (which may very well still be in flux) and their Mission Statement (which also may still be in flux) and THEN see what/who they are.

    If you want to help guide the direction of the group then join it and do the hard work of setting it up. Otherwise, let them get their feet under them before you start throwing stones.

    • The painter analogy is misdirected. What’s been asked here is equivalent to wanting to know the painter’s name and where hir art has been shown. If ACOW is not prepared to say anything prior to March 1st, why did Donna Clifton agree to be interviewed?If I wanted to take the advice in the final paragraph above the first thing I’d do would be to go to their website. And find one page, and it’s not a membership application.

  32. I don’t think I could possibly trust an organization that has such a lack of transparency, and such an unwillingness to answer legitimate questions.

  33. The skepticism I am hearing is disheartening. Give them a chance to come up with the answers to the questions before cutting them down. They have been honest and open about working towards answers. You wouldn’t strike out against a new retail outlet for not opening their doors to consumers before their open date. (no, this isn’t a retail store, but the idea of opening doors before the Grand Opening is similar) Be patient. Don’t taint this movement based on negativity towards the past. Everything evolves. This is something new. Have an open mind.

    • Another faulty analogy. This is like wanting to know what individual, family or corporation owns the store and if they have any other outlets, and what will be on their shelves. Questions any zoning board would ask. It’s not like asking them to open early.

      • To me, it seems more like launching an IPO of a tech startup that promises to be the Next Big Thing with Silicon Valley’s hottest players behind it and expecting people to buy with no information on who any of the principals are, what the technology is or whether there is any market for it.

        • As a tech veteran, I agree. I get the stealth mode, and putting off questions until launch. But this isn’t a product being launched. It’s more like a tech council was being formed and techies are kept in the dark deliberately, but are supposed to trust that they have best interests at heart. While that might be the case, why trust folks who go about it in such a hidden manner? This isn’t arising organically to fill a need.

          It smacks of a false modesty with a lot if quiet self-importance.

          For me what’s particularly bothersome is that they seem to be trying to position themselves to be representatives on a national level. Of course the ignorant media will turn to them, thus reinforcing their pretense of expert spokesmanship.

  34. Why get out there with a Facebook page before you are even organized? Well, I will be waiting to see when Mar 1 comes what will be revealed to us. Eventually it will come out: “There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.” — gospel of Thomas 5.2.

  35. As one of the litigants in the Pentacle Quest– I can only think that this ACOW will crash and burn just like any other organization that tries to do inept attempts on stroking their own ego’s and beating their chests like gorilla’s. People just can’t learn or just can’t play nice with others when other organizations are already established, functioning and have attained their goals on each project. Why not join efforts with them? Geesh– Personally, I already have one foot out the door regarding the Pagan community and bullshit like this. I can see above and beyond this already.. it won’t last and I wouldn’t waste one iota of time involved in this… drama is being stirred up and they are watching from the sidelines laughing and giggling at the response from the community. Don’t give them that. Please. My husband and I have already done our duty for the community by winning this lawsuit with Circle Sanctuary– If they, the ACOW think that *I* would allow them to speak for me they got another thing coming and I will call them down to the carpet on it too because I am not afraid to. I am sure a vast majority of Pagans feel the same way as I do but I won’t speak nor represent them like the ACOW would like to try to do because we all have freewill and will not be forced to succumb to another’s wishes/wants/desires to further their own agenda.

    • The Pentacle Quest is a perfect illustration of how a national or pan-Pagan effort should arise – organically and the bottom up in order to serve a clearly identified cause which has broad buy-in and requires many hands and some central coordination. Leaders are recognized as such in those efforts because they prove themselves by their work.

      ACOW is working the problem backward, declaring itself a council of leaders with no clear mission which has any substantial mandate from the community at large. On top of that, they have the chutzpah, from behind a curtain of anonymity and secrecy, to tell us we just have to accept their qualifications to speak for us and they’ll tell us the rest if and when they feel like it.

      • Anonymity and secrecy are not the same thing as “still putting together the website”, right? Have some patience and judge on March 1st. 🙂

        • A website isn’t going to change the attitude toward accountability and leadership. They don’t need a website to be able to articulate basic information about the project. They know full well the answers to most of what is bugging us. If they don’t, nine days is not nearly enough time to come up with anything that will make sense when a site goes live.

  36. I think the formation of a Council to represent Pagans of all kinds to the rest of the world is a fantastic idea. Pagans and magic enthusiasts of all kinds have been in need of unity and organization for a very long time, and it is something I’ve always felt was sorely missing from the Craft. Unity and togetherness without sacrificing individuality is what this Council should be about. I doubt that this Council is in any way claiming to have authority over American Witches. KUDOS to the Council for standing up and taking the first steps towards unity, even though so many are fighting against it!

    To all of those who are pushing against the idea of the ACW, I think a little time and some patience will make all of the difference. I bet the majority of you just want inclusion, and that seems to be the end goal of the Council. If anyone doesn’t want to be involved, it is pretty simple — don’t be! Until then, I’m optimistic about all of this. Just be aware that divisiveness is against the idea of unity. Standing together and accepting each others’ differences should be the goal of all this, and let’s hope that it turns out to be just that.