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[Witch Way] Volume #6 Issue #12 -- April Showers and May Flowers
May 14, 2014
|Hi, Happy Summer!
So we’ve been having a discussion lately. ‘We’ being the members of My Meetup group, Denver Metro Witches Meetup. It started at one of the Meetups about a month ago, with the topic relating to what do you do if a member of your Pagan community does something questionable? This seems like a straight forward question, and was sparked because of the Kenny Klein incident.
This one Meetup topic then blossomed explosively into the most active the email list for the Meetup has ever been. It even out did the time when the young woman came on there and announced that she liked sex, with anyone, at any time. The reason for all the activity was simple. I made the suggestion that maybe it’s time our local Pagan community put together a council to create some standards.
The basic idea was simple, a group of Priests and Priestesses who are all well known, could come together and agree that certain behaviors are not acceptable in our community. They could also be a resource for news outlets when such events as the Kenny K. situation occur, and hopefully speak in a unified voice for the local community.
This all makes absolute sense to me. We even had one Priest volunteer to draft up such a statement about sex, and our views as Witches and Pagans. It sounded like we had reached a consensus at the Meetup, but no sooner had we left, than someone emailed on the list asking for clarification on words such as “consensual” and “Adult”. Another firmly exclaimed that she had not given anyone permission to speak for her, and that she was upset that anyone would. These were both people who had been at the Meetup, and had not said anything contrary before we left.
The next thing you know, the whole Fluff Bunny argument came out, and the whole thing escalated over the length of a month or so, to the point where it even included the gun debate. People on both sides of all the issues were sending 10 or 15 emails a day. I got home from work the first day, to find something like 50 messages just about that, and I’m used to high email volume. I normally get over 100 emails at home, and have to deal with over 1000 emails a day at work.
It seemed as though the entire group was coming apart. I had emails from Meetup, telling me that people were leaving the group, which was not a problem, since none of them had actually taken the trouble to show up to a Meetup. Getting rid of the dead wood periodically is a good thing. Eventually the whole thing devolved into a debate about guns, since at least one person said she didn’t feel comfortable if some people might be armed with guns, and that she wouldn’t come unless everyone was unarmed.
Now I will point out that those who might have guns, are legally able to carry them concealed. Colorado is an Open Carry state, which means anyone can carry a gun at any time, as long as it is openly visible. This person seemed to be upset that several people at the Meetups, including myself, may have been legally concealing firearms. The fact that this came out is due entirely to one person, who in their rambling emails insulted large numbers of people because of their political views.
Now I’ve been known to say things that upset people. I have strong opinions, which I believe are the only opinions worth having, but this person actually stated that being a Conservative was a disease, and then went on to insult anyone who doesn’t think like they do. By the way, this person wears the title of Fluff Bunny as if it were a badge of honor, so while I don’t give their words any weight, I felt that I had to answer the insult. Which immediately drew the ire of a number of people because I “jumped all over the poor guy”.
Needless to say, there were a lot fewer people at the last Meetup, as those who have an issue of others legally concealing, and those who strangely support the Fluff Bunny, didn’t show. The entire time this was going on, I was trying to point out how fractured and tenuous our community is, and here that very fact gets demonstrated in all its glory.
We are either a community, in which case we act like one, which means electing or in some other way appointing leaders to make choices for the community, or we continue down the Path of anarchy and atrophy. While those who are against any sort of order, like the “community” as it is, I see what it could be, with a few selfless Priests and Priestesses guiding it.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering…no, I don’t plan to be a part of such a counsel. I would expect it to be made up of those who are Sages and Crones. People with more wisdom than I. Someday, when I have decided it’s time to become the Sage, I might be tapped for counsel membership, but that would be up to the members already there to decide.
I expect this is going to generate a whole lot of mail, both for and against, so bring it on!
The Witching Hour
by Marcus Leader
Some of you may already know that I host a weekly radio show called The Shamans Brew which is broadcast both on the internet and good old fashion terrestrial airways through several hundred affiliate stations around the world. It also appears on iTunes as a free subscription. Normally I would not use a monthly newsletter, like the one you are reading, to promote my own projects or business unless there was something of value to be gained by my readers or a service to the entire pagan community. It is my intention to justify both of these scenarios with this article. At the end of this short article I will be releasing information that I believe will not only help my readers on their own path of personal discovery, but will also help the pagan community in a small way by making more people aware of Ken’s newsletter and website while offering different perspectives on our pagan belief and magickal practice based on over 30 years of personal experience and research coupled with an eight year one on one apprenticeship with a Toltec shaman.
For those who do not know me, my name is Marcus Leader and since I was in high school I have been interested in the occult and witchcraft in particular from the very day in 1968 that I discovered I was a descendant of Bridget Bishop , (of the infamous Salem witch trials), on my mother’s side of the family. I started reading and learning all I could after learning this and the more I read , the more my interest and passion was fueled to this very day. It was not easy cultivating this interest in the beginning for two reasons. First there was not a lot of information out there on the topic back in that day and second, I was being raised in a strict Christian family. Yeah, that was interesting! I had to give my magickal broom closet the illusion of a science laboratory to keep from being chastised and exorcised by my parents!
After school things got easier, but I still did not know anyone with similar interests until one day in the early 70’s while studying in the UCLA library. Little did I dream that I would be encountering someone who would forever change my life and help direct me into who I am today, but that is exactly what happened. While looking for a book on psychotropic plants I met a Mexican gentleman through an odd set of coincidences, who introduced himself as Carlos Castaneda. At the time I was vaguely familiar with the book he had recently published through the University Press called The Teachings of don Juan, a Yaqui way of knowledge. This book became a best seller as was all is future books. For those not familiar with him or his work just google his name. Time magazine dubbed Carlos as The Godfather of the New Age.
We became friends after this meeting but drifted apart for a few years until he came to me out of the blue while I was at work in Palm Springs, California. He said, “it is time for you to learn Marcos”, and thus began my 8 year apprenticeship with the world renowned anthropologist, author, and Toltec shaman Dr. Carlos Castaneda. During this apprenticeship he taught me the totality of the ancient Toltec core knowledge which, for the most part, has never been released to the public.
Then somewhere around 2003 or 2004 I was pondering what I should do with what I had been taught and personally experienced. I was listening to my favorite pagan radio show, Full Circle on WPBN hosted by Winterhawk and our own Greyhart , when I had the idea to contact them and see if I could somehow help them in some way. I was a bit surprised when they offered me a segment on Full Circle to share with their listeners. That segment was the beginning of The Shamans Brew which aired with them until Full Circle shut down. A few years later I was approached by Todd Sheets of Nightwatch radio ,(the number two rated paranormal talk show in the world), who graciously offered me an hour a week on their network and so The Shamans Brew was reborn and grew in popularity over the years.
The Shamans Brew is a show about our pagan and paranormal world as seen through the eyes of a Toltec shaman. It has a wide diversification of listeners and belief systems most of which are pagan. In the shows I share some of the Toltec core knowledge taught to me as well as sharing stories of my own adventures during my apprenticeship. I also explore many other topics related to witchcraft as well as the cutting edge research being conducted in human consciousness through the Monroe Institute at which I am a private researcher with their professional division.
Occasionally I will have a guest or two on the show, but this show is not like your regular pagan podcast talk shows as its main focus is to enlighten while entertaining. The show has three breaks with pagan music and usually starts off with a story followed by lessons of a magickal nature.
This brings us to the reason that I picked this topic for this month’s article here in The Witching Hour. The Shamans Brew has been in a holding pattern for the last year awaiting the right time to start sharing the information that was taught to me from the ancient Toltec lineage. Now it is time to re-launch and re-format the show starting with my next show on Wednesday May 14th at 5 PM PDT. This will be my Beltane show, ( yeah, yeah I know it’s a little late). Every sabbat of the witches wheel of the year will honored by The Shamans Brew with a show to kick off the each sabbat consisting entirely of pagan music from many artists. From that point until the next turning of the wheel I will be sharing information and lessons and stories that I hope will help those listening. In addition to this new format I will be directing my articles here to reflect and compliment the lessons and stories heard on the radio show. This will not be a repeat of the radio show, but more of a how to with more detailed information than I can give on the show as well as some information that I will only be sharing here in my articles.
For those interested in tuning into the show, you can go to my show website, www.theshamansbrew.com where you will be directed to the best way to hear the show live or picked it up in the archives. The show airs live every Wednesday at 5 PM PDT (8PM EDT). I invite you all to tune into the show (it’s free), and always feel free to contact me through the website with comments or questions.
Blessed Be, Marcus
By Gwynalda Shadowalker
Some Reflections on the First Recorded “Witch War”
Joe Z.: “’Welcome to the Pagan Community—where we shoot our Elders and eat our Young.’”
Gwynalda: “Yeah, that’s it. Who said that besides you?”
Joe Z.: “The late, great Isaac Bonewits.”
OK, so while I was researching the topic which I’d planned to write about for this month’s “Betwixt & Between”—entitled “Dispelling ‘Wiccan Mystique’ Part IV: (Reformed)”—something rather curious happened... Part IV of this series was designed to honor Doreen Valiente for all that she did—and continues to do via her published writings—for innovating and making accessible this new “Old Religion” of modern Neo-Pagan Witchcraft. I’d intended to pay tribute to her in the “(Reformed)” installment, much as I did with Gerald B. Gardner in Part III, “Traditional.”
Towards that end, I accessed the complete text of the keynote address that Doreen Valiente delivered to a group of 50 witches and occultists in October 1964, during a dinner sponsored by “Pentagram” magazine. (And blessed be and a hearty “Thanks!” to Melissa Seims for making all 5 issues of “Pentagram” available in cyberspace!) I’d read Ms. Valiente’s speech a while back, and considered it a fine example of an inter-tradition call for “unity” and “cooperation,” and the formation of a Witchcraft Research Association (W.R.A.). 
The editor of “Pentagram,” who went by the pseudonym of John Math, had originally proposed forming the W.R.A. earlier in 1964. According to Mrs. Valiente, “The ostensible purpose of this association was to bring together what we were told were the warring factions within the Craft of the Wise in Britain.” Unfortunately, this appeal for unity and cooperation had the exact opposite effect.
So who, exactly, were these “warring factions”?Over the next few editions of “Pentagram,” a battle ensued in print between those claiming to be “hereditary” witches and the loyal followers of Gerald B. Gardner. Two of the most vocal “hereditary/anti-Gardnerian” proponents, Robert Cochrane (Roy Bowers) and Taliesin, were later found to have been initiated into one of Gardner’s daughter covens earlier in their magickal careers. However, both men had been dissatisfied with G.B.G.’s rituals, publicity-seeking, and training standards. In Cochrane’s case, he went on to form his own coven, which evolved into a distinct tradition.
Now, right before this battle began raging in the pages of “Pentagram,” a great deal had happened to stir the cauldron and fragment the British Craft community. 1) Gerald B. Gardner, the acknowledged leading spokesperson for British witches, had died in February 1964. 2) Charles Cardell, an occultist rival of Gardner’s, had just published the bulk of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows. And 3) several folks claiming to be pre-Gardnerian “hereditary” witches began vying for that ultimate “Witch Queen”/“Magister” title., 
In her semi-autobiographical book, “The Rebirth of Witchcraft,” Doreen Valiente characterized the contentious “Pentagram” debate as “venomous... denigration” and “offensive” “attacks upon ‘Gardnerians’.” I wanted to see for myself just how venomous Cochrane’s and Taliesin’s attacks really were, so that I could better understand why so many got so grievously offended.
After reading Robert Cochrane’s and Taliesin’s writings, I got confused. The “offensive” material didn’t sound nearly as vitriolic as I had expected. Sure, there were a few instances where they both put down Gardner’s followers, but all-in-all, what those two writers “attacked” was the extent to which “Gardnerians” blindly accepted G.B.G.’s version of Witchcraft as “The-One-Right-True-And-ONLY- Way.”
Taliesin greatly impressed me in his response to one Gardner loyalist, who’d written under the pseudonym Monsieur. Taliesin consciously refrained from launching a vicious “ruthless” counter-attack, because it was so obvious that Monsieur was “so nice and sincere”—and therefore didn’t deserve it. Taliesin further explained that his primary objection to “Gardnerian” Craft was that its adherents lacked the intellectual and spiritual thirst for knowledge that his “hereditary” clan required.
The final entry in this contentious debate was an open letter from a spiritual seeker to Taliesin. The seeker, writing on behalf of himself and some friends (all former Gardnerians), expressed admiration for the fascinating views of Robert Cochrane and Taliesin. The letter ended with a polite request for Taliesin to grant his guidance as a spiritual mentor. It was heart-warming.
Endnotes:  “Pentagram” Vol 2, pp. 1-3. http://homepage.ntlworld.com/wisewoman/pentagram%202.pdf.  Valiente, “Rebirth” p. 130.  Phillips, “History of Wicca,” pp 4-5; 10-12.  Howard, “Modern Wicca,” ch. 10.  Phillips, “History of Wicca,” pp 4-5; 10-12.  Valiente, “Rebirth” p. 131.  “Pentagram” Vols 2-5 http://www.thewica.co.uk/Pentagram.htm.  “Pentagram,” Vol 5 http://homepage.ntlworld.com/wisewoman/pentagram%205.pdf.
“Pentagram” & the Witchcraft Research Association (W.R.A.) http://www.thewica.co.uk/Pentagram.htm.Michael Howard, “Modern Wicca: A History from Gerald Gardner to the Present” (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2009).
Julia Phillips, “History of Wicca in England: 1939 to the Present Day” (http://www.geraldgardner.com/essays.php ). This article is an updated and revised 2004 version of a talk that Ms Phillips gave at the Australia Wiccan Conference in 1991.
Doreen Valiente, “The Rebirth of Witchcraft” (Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1989).
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Until next month, may you be blessed in all that you do, or as we usually say,
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