Archive for the ‘rants’ Category

What is a Limpia (and what is it NOT?)   2 comments

Greetings, Seekers!
EggLimpia
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Without question, the most popular post on my blog is (and has been for years) my post on Limpias – aka “Egg Cleansings.”  It involves using an egg to absorb energies from a person and then either disposing of the egg, or cracking it open to divine the insides.  The word Limpia just means “cleansing”, and not all ritual cleansings involve eggs, of course. However, the variety that uses an egg for the purpose has become an extremely popular practice, especially in areas with large Latino populations. And that popularity seems to be growing every single year – spreading with the rising awareness of the ATRs like Santeria and Cadomble.
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Sadly, it is also absolutely infested with scam artists and frauds. My Limpia post generated so many responses from people who were obviously being scammed out of THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS by these pathetic creeps, I eventually had to create this post as a loud warning to those seeking readings:
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A Warning About Limpias
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And now even that post has been flooded with comments from people being scammed. Thankfully, the tone of the comments in this post has shifted from “have I been scammed??” to “oh hell I’ve been scammed!!” I just wish the post could have reached those people before they lost their money. Some of them have “only” lost a few hundred, some have lost thousands, and not one of them could truly afford a dollar of it.  😦
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Even still, there are some comments in the thread with people scratching their heads and unsure of what is and is not a scam. Therefore, I just posted this basic explanation of what a Limpia reading really is:
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An egg cleansing is simply a modern, and more humane, version of the far more ancient technique of using a live animal to cleanse yourself. The way it was shown to me, a bird was taken and held so its wings were free to flap as it was passed all over/around the person’s body. The bird was then released, with the understanding that it would have taken negative energies and magick out of the person and fly away with them – presumably to eventually die. It wasn’t mentioned to me at the time, but I suspect something similar was done in the ancient Temples – with the bird being left at the Temple as an offering. (There was also the famous “scape-goat” that took on all the sins of Israel and was released into the desert to die. Not to mention ancient techniques of reading animal livers, entrails, etc.)
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In the Limpia, the egg is simply an analog to that bird (or goat or whatever). It is a living biological material that can, to some degree, absorb energies from you. When you crack it open, it is a divination. There are certain things you might see when you crack and egg into water – how it floats or sinks, bubbles, tendrils, blood spots, etc, etc. These are random factors that fall into place – just like Tarot cards are shuffled and fall into place – to give us a reading.
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A Limpia is NOT a magick trick. Nothing is going to “appear” inside the egg because it “passes through your aura.” You are not supposed to find hair and tar and stones inside the egg. They have no divinatory meaning beyond “this reading is a scam” – period.
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I also added this comment for someone who asked how to recognize the scam artists:
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Finding a curse right away is always a red flag. (They ALWAYS find a curse. Always.) But, of course, that doesn’t mean an honest reader won’t find something like that too. Just look for the usual pattern: pay for cleansing/reading, find something wrong, ask for more money, what they do changes nothing, discover its because you need more work, ask for even more money, and on and on and on.

If it feels like things are developing that way, get out of there. And keep this in mind: If you were to pay a legit worker for a consult, then for a talisman, and THEN for a ritual to consecrate it AND even an evocation of an angel, you would STILL not pay more than $1000. So when someone starts asking for thousands – get out!

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Keep these things in mind, folks, preferable before you cough up thousands of dollars to someone who isn’t doing a thing but depositing your money.

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Posted February 21, 2018 by kheph777 in atr, hoodoo / witchcraft, rants, santeria

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Respecting the Regardie Lineage   15 comments

Greetings fellow ‘Dawners!  It is time for a brand new rant!

Israel Regardie

Israel Regardie

Regardie-bashing has become a fad, and I’ve had quite enough of it.

This is a problem I have seen growing for a long time now.  But before I get into that, let me give some background:

The modern Golden Dawn movement got its start when Chic Cicero founded the new Isis-Urania Temple in the late 1970s.  Before long, he established contact with the man who – at the time – was believed to be the last living adept of the old Order: Dr. Israel Regardie.  Chic was building a new Vault of the Adepti, and he wanted Regardie to come by and inspect it for him.  In the end, Regardie not only inspected it, but also performed the Consecration of the Vault and the first initiations within it.  With that, the modern Golden Dawn was born, with initiatory lineage through Regardie back to the old order.  Chic dubbed his new order the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and it stands today as the oldest, largest and most successful G.D. organization in history.  (It has far out-stripped the original order, which only existed between 1888 and 1903.  And will soon be older than the post-schism orders of Stella Maturina and Alpha et Omega – both of which had all but vanished by the Second World War.  There was also a third order that descended from the Stella Matutina and lasted much longer – but we’ll get to them later.)

HOGD Vault of the Adepti

HOGD Vault of the Adepti

However, keep in mind that Chic was/is an American occultist.  He wasn’t too interested in being a guru, handing down dogmatic mysteries to be consumed by an adoring and unthinking cult.  He wasn’t out to impress you with the deep mysteries he knows but refuses to share with you (due to “oaths”).  Instead, he wanted his order to grow and thrive and for the Western Mysteries to be available to anyone who takes interest in them.  To that end, he and his wife Sandra Tabatha Cicero (who would quickly become one of the Order’s three chiefs) have produced an impressive library of books about the Golden Dawn and Hermeticism.

Now over 30 years have passed, and the result of the Ciceros’ dedication and hard work are plain for all to see.  Beyond the many existing HOGD Temples around the world, there are now dozens of different G.D.-based orders or independent Temples out there.  Most of them have some connection to the Ciceros’ group – many were founded by former HOGD adepts, and/or are using the Golden Dawn name and system under our trademark.  (This is freely-given legal protection, so others can run their Temples without fear of lawsuits from those who would “own” the Golden Dawn for themselves.)  All of them have their own unique “take” on or approach to the system, but there is no Golden Dawn group in existence who has not benefited from the vast corpus of written material published by the Ciceros.

Chic Cicero and Israel Regardie

Chic Cicero and Israel Regardie

Tabatha Cicero and Israel Regardie

Tabatha Cicero and Israel Regardie (dirty old man!)

But this was supposed to be about Regardie, right?  It is true that none of us would be here talking about the Golden Dawn today if it were not for Chic and Tabatha Cicero.  Yet, if you ask them who they have to thank, you can bet the answer will be Israel Regardie.  Having initiated into the Stella Matutina branch of the order just before the War, he bore witness to its decline and eventual fall.  He knew that something drastic must be done to save the material from vanishing into obscure history – finally deciding to publish as much of the Order’s papers as he could gather.  The few members who were still hanging on were polarized by this action:  some of them were affronted that Regardie would break his oaths of secrecy and “profane” the Order’s secrets.  Others were actually happy to have a printed version of the Grade Lectures and other material that, previously, had to be copied by hand.  (To get a feel for this last point, just grab your copy of Regardie’s The Golden Dawn – yes, I know you have one – and imagine sitting down to hand copy the whole thing.)

Regardie’s book had a massive impact on the modern Western occult revival.  Long before Chic Cicero came along, the book was being mined by Neopagans, Thelemites and just about every Western occult or mystical group you could name.  (Margot Adler mentions this in Drawing Down the Moon.)  And, it was that very book that inspired Chic Cicero to build his own Temple.  Regardie came to see that Temple (and its newly-constructed Vault) and ended up giving legitimacy to what might have been little more than a camp of Thelemites and strippers in Georgia.  Regardie became the initiatory link between the new Order and the old.

Give all of the above, it might seem strange that anyone involved in anything Golden Dawn would feel it necessary to bash Regardie – and by extension to insult my entire Order and lineage.  Yet, it is happening, and I suspect it is mostly because the HOGD is so large and successful.  Given its authoritative position in the greater G.D. Community, it is sadly human nature to want to “take it down a peg.”  Some take the route of attacking Chic and Tabatha directly – though that’s a slippery slope because they are: a) beloved by nearly everyone and b) still alive.  Regardie, meanwhile, is just some old guy who died before many of you were born (or, in my case, when I was just a little kid).  He’s an easy target.  Thus, we hear much about what an awful oath-breaker he was, or how he didn’t really hold the Grade we thought, or how he had no institutional authority to found a new Order, or that he never participated in any rituals, or that he was once a jerk to some of his Temple chiefs, etc, etc.  Why I’ve even been told, point blank, that Regardie had no lineage to give!

And this is what I’ve been watching over the past few years.  Specifically, it seems to be the popular thing now to be a Golden Dawner but to eschew Regardie entirely.  He got it all wrong, they say.  We have the real mysteries, they claim.  They refer with disdain to the “Regardie upstart orders” and pretend that they represent the “real” Golden Dawn while the rest of us are merely children at play.  It is insulting – not just to Regardie, but to the Ciceros and to my Order.

One of my largest areas of concern lies with another Golden Dawn group – that third off-shoot Order I mentioned but failed to name above.  However, before I do I want to make something very clear:  I’m about to start talking about some good people, and I don’t want to give the slightest impression that I have a problem with any of them or all of them collectively.  For the rest of what you are going to read, please understand my tone is that of a brother bitching about his brothers – there’s nothing but love beneath it, and if you have anything bad to say about them we can step outside.  😉  So, on with it:

The group in question is generally known by the name Whare Ra – though that was the name of the building housing their Mother Temple, while the temple’s official name was Smaragdum Thallasses (Emerald of the Sea).  This was chartered in New Zealand as Temple #49 of the Stella Matutina, and (after the collapse of the rest of the SM) became the Order’s Mother Temple.  Of the original Golden Dawn Orders (G.D., Stella Matutina, Alpha et Omega and Whare Ra), it can be said without question that Whare Ra was the most successful.  Unlike its sister temples it did not close during WWII (thanks to being tucked safely away in New Zealand), and in fact continued to operate until the late 1970s.  (Chic was building his Temple in America just as Whare Ra was closing its doors.)  Their only failing – and they likely didn’t see it as such – was that they never opened further Temples and eventually stagnated before closing.

Ware Ra Vault of the Adepti

Whare Ra Vault of the Adepti

Fortunately, we know about Whare Ra today because the Order’s adepts didn’t stop being adepts merely because their Temple stopped holding meetings.  Some of the elderly adepts continued to teach and share their mysteries with others who were pursuing the Golden Dawn tradition.  You may recognize a couple of their names – like Jack Taylor and Frank Salt.  While those men have long-since passed away, their students (even if never initiated into Whare Ra itself) have propagated their teachings.  Just a few short years after the HOGD was established by Regardie (who we only thought was the last living adept!), Pat Zalewski made it publically known that the Whare Ra lineage still existed.

That’s a good thing, right?  Damn straight it is!

But this leaves us with a bit of a problem: culture clash.  The Whare Ra people are not American, and they aren’t so fast and loose with information as the Ciceros and those who follow in their footsteps.  They enjoy that old-world feel for their mysteries.  They love their secrecy, and their adept links to the past (Salt and Taylor) never went public like Regardie did.  I would say that, for the most part, the Whare Ra people – folks like Pat and Chris Zalewski and Tony Fuller – feel as if they represent the last vestiges of the old Golden Dawn in the world today.

Before I continue, let me be perfectly clear yet again:  neither the Zalewskis nor Fuller are out there bashing Regardie.  That’s part of a larger trend that I think I covered well enough in the rant above.  No, my real concern with the Whare Ra folks is that I all too often feel an “us vs. them” tone in what they say.  Though never stated outright, they can come across as if they believe they are the “real” Golden Dawn while everyone else is “just following Regardie’s books” and can therefore be dismissed.  The Whare Ra lineage doesn’t seem to have any love to lose for Regardie (it was one of them who stated Regardie had no lineage to give) and it comes through in what they say and write.

As most of you probably know, there have been a few internet trolls out there who have spent the last couple of decades trying to convince us all there are “warring factions” in the Golden Dawn.  You’ve heard of “trademark wars” that in fact never happened.  You’ve heard of decades-long flame wars, though no one can ever find the culprits.  As I have stated over and again, this is all complete bunk.  True Golden Dawn orders do not compete for members, nor do they even hold recruitment drives.  (If you ever encounter a G.D. group that advertises or pressures you to join, just walk away.)  And as for “warring factions”, the fact is that in reality the various G.D. Orders work together nicely and even do projects together.  Yeah, I know that’s pretty damned boring in comparison to the fantasy that we are all powerful wizards having battles with one another in cyberspace and on the astral plane.  Sorry…

But now I am concerned that we could be witnessing the rise of two actual factions of the Golden Dawn:  American/HOGD and European/Whare Ra.  Ideally, these would simply be two schools of the G.D. (and for now they are), but I use the word “faction” because there is a very real danger we could end up enemies.  Not that I can imagine Pat Zalewski or Tony Fuller ever declaring themselves enemies of the Cicero school, but I do fear that if the “us vs. them” tone continues, we could see hostilities develop between the two schools within a generation or two.

I don’t believe for a second that the Whare Ra lineage represents the “real” Golden Dawn at the expense of the Regardie lineage.  And, quibble all you want over whether Regardie was ZAM or ThAM, I do not buy the concept that he had no lineage to give.  (Sure he wasn’t a 7=4 when he founded the HOGD, but then Mathers and Westcott weren’t 7=4 when they founded the G.D. either.  Hell they weren’t even 5=6 – but that’s another discussion.)  Regardie, flawed as he was, is our initiatory link with the old order – he’s our prophet or patron saint, if you will – just as Frank Salt and Jack Taylor are for the Whare Ra camp.

Let’s give all of these old dudes the credit they deserve – for without them what would any of us be doing right now?  And, can we please remember to respect each other and treat one another as brothers?  Yes, that means we’ll duke it out from time to time – but let us never ever allow it to become warring factions, or have one group look down its nose at the other.

If you want to see the Facebook thread that started all of this, see Regardie’s Supposed ThAM Grade by Tony Fuller.  (It’s tone irked me, but he really does make a good historical point about one of Regardie’s papers.)  Plus, Nick Farrell has also responded to this discussion with is own thoughts about Whare Ra and the dangers of factions arising in the G.D.:  Whare Ra and the Modern Golden Dawn.

Stay strong in the LVX, brothers!  🙂

Zorge,

Aaron

The Fall of a Living God   17 comments

Greetings Fellow Seekers!

I was originally going to post this to Facebook.  But as I wrote I realized I had a few things to say that deserved something more than a micro-blog post.  So, I’ll start this discussion here instead:

 

e_a_koetting

E.A. Koetting is in hot water now.

First and foremost, I refuse to join in with those taking joy in the man’s legal and personal issues.  I see no moral issues with him – or his roommate – possessing drugs or a gun.  Both are “victimless crimes” – which means they are not real crimes at all.  Not to mention the fact that we don’t know who actually owned said drugs or gun, nor who was “restricted” from owning a gun.  So none of this, in and of itself, constitutes any real moral failing on Koetting’s part.  It’s not like they found a meth lab in his apartment!

Also, we shouldn’t be making fun of him simply for having a day job.  Most occultists have them, myself included.  You don’t know how often I leave my Temple, or a lecture or class or workshop – places where I am respected as an adept and a teacher – only to afterward go to my muggle job and be treated like an idiot by people who can’t figure out what “L” and “R” mean on the bottom of their shoes.  SIGH – keeps me humble.  (In time I hope to be able to make a living strictly from my books, lectures, classes, consultations and festivals – but that’s taking time, since I insist on doing it honestly.)

Yet, on the other hand, I can also see why some of you are glad to see Koetting taken down a peg or three.  I’m not willing to shake my finger at you and say “for shame!“, because in many ways Koetting has indeed brought this upon himself.

His advertising methods are atrocious.  His magickal system appears entirely self-created, without his first having learned and mastered an existing system.  And the “dark and scary” persona he has chosen to sell his product is downright embarrassing to the rest of the occult community.  In every way, he puts on the outward appearance of being into this strictly for the money.  Not to mention the dismissive, and sometimes outright nasty, things he says about systems other than his own.  The first time I ever encountered Koetting’s work was a page (a hard-sell ad, really) telling me that my beloved grimoires are all crap that don’t work, and that only HE (for a price) could tell me how to make them work.  The second time I encountered him was through an ad he wrote on “raping archangels.”  Not only is it offensive, but it’s just hard to take him seriously after seeing that kind of thing.

However, I don’t think any of that is his real problem in the current situation.  I think what has done him the most damage are his claims of access to limitless personal power.  Occultists are human too, and even the most advanced adept is still required to chop wood and carry water.  (See my above comments about having day jobs.)  Becoming a magician quite simply does not make you a “living God.”  King Solomon himself could have stood on the beach and commanded the tide to retreat in all the names of God and the Archangels, and all he would have gotten for his efforts was wet feet.  Given this, why the HELL would you set yourself up in this way by claiming to have power you can’t possibly possess?  There is simply no way that choice can have a good outcome – so why choose it?

Yet, look at how many would be “occultists” out there do just that…  I’ve seen claims to incredible lineages with no proof whatsoever.  I’ve seen people claim to run global occult orders, though you never actually see any evidence such an organization exists outside of the websites run by the person making the claim.  And every word out of their mouths is about how much power they possess and how they – and only they – can teach it to you.  At least if you have the cash.

Real occultists don’t act like that.  We don’t make claims to unlimited power, and we sure as hell aren’t going to promise to teach you methods that will make all of your problems vanish.  (See my posts here and here for more on that.)  Koetting claimed to be able to make court cases vanish – and now he’s screwed if he can’t make this one vanish.  He claims to be a Living God, but was just hauled away in handcuffs to a jail cell.  He claims to have unlimited power through the dark forces he invokes, but he couldn’t make himself invisible to a traffic cop.

I think this is why Koetting is suffering the backlash now.  Does it mean that occultists are just douchebags who like to rejoice in the fall of another occultist? Well, that certainly hasn’t been my experience…

Not long ago, I’m sure you remember, it was revealed to the world that I was about to go blind.  An adept of the HOGD, a recognized authority on the Solomonic grimoires, and I lacked the power to either heal my own eyes or conjure the money for surgery.  And how did the exact same occult community react to that news?  They came together and saw to it I got my surgery, because some of them cared about me personally and all of them wanted me to keep writing books.  (Who says magick wasn’t involved?)  🙂

So what was the difference?  Why gather around and support me through my troubles, but ostracize  Koetting?  Yes, I know he was arrested and I wasn’t – so there is that.  But, I think it is really because I don’t make ridiculous claims about power – dark or otherwise.  I don’t make arrogant claims about what my magick can do.  I don’t insult the traditions of others (well.. maybe Scientology).  My website, blog and FB profile aren’t used for hard-sell infomercial-style ads.  I don’t speak in advertising slogans.  Oh, and the fact that I publish solid material about magickal systems I didn’t make up myself might be part of it too…

The bottom line is this:  if you are an occultist and would like to make a living from it, some of the most important secrets are as follows:

1) Be the real thing.  Faking it may be good enough to make some money for a while, but you will always be sniffed out and exposed.  Or you’ll slip up and expose yourself.  Becoming a REAL magician does take time and effort, but it’s the only way you’re going to make it in this field.

2) Go for quality over quantity.  Don Kraig had more success with a single book than any occult author who has produced an entire library of hardly-useful texts.  If you’re going to publish a book or give a class or workshop, make it a game-changer.  If people leave feeling like they didn’t learn anything new and exciting, then you’re not going to get far.

3) Do NOT draw your methods from televangelists, Scientology, or direct-marketing advertising.  Do not use slogans.  Do not guarantee results.  Your webpage or blog should look like a resource for students and researchers; it should not look like an ad.

There is nothing wrong with putting your work out there, even advertising for your books, services or other items you may sell.  As I said above, even I am hoping to someday make a living from my work.  But those things must be secondary, and not the main thrust of your persona.  Your dedication to your spiritual path and your service to the community are what will make you famous.

Of course I know all of this will fall on deaf ears.  Those of you who agree with me already would never take the path of a huckster upon your spiritual journey.  And those of you who would do that simply don’t give a damn, because you’re just in it to harvest money from rubes and you have no interest in whether or not you are respected or if history remembers you as a “real occultist.”

But, who knows?  Surely there are those out there who are sincere and want to forge ahead in this life-path, but aren’t sure how to go about it properly.  Maybe, just maybe, one of them will read this blog and learn that there really is a right way and a wrong way to go about this…

Nah….!

 

Posted November 25, 2014 by kheph777 in rants, social commentary

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The 2014 Abramelin Rant   8 comments

Greetings, aspirants!

 

It seems like every year or two, I find it necessary to post a rant about Abramelin and some of the boneheaded stuff I encounter out there in relation to it.  So, here is the 2014 Abramelin Rant (originally posted to my Solomonic Facebook Group):

 

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It has taken several years, but I have finally learned an important lesson: I will no longer answer questions via email for anyone actively undertaking the Abramelin operation.

I’ve tried it more than once now, and the result is the same every time. It’s relatively easy to guide someone through the initial months – it mostly involves telling them to stick to the process as the book outlines it, without adding anything or altering anything. That, and to provide some moral support along the way. I figured it couldn’t harm anything for me to be available to answer questions – I would have killed for such a resource while I performed it myself.

But… then comes time for the final days of the process, when the actual Rite is performed (the Day of Consecration, the Convocation of the Angel and the Convocation of the Spirits). And so far, every single time, I discover that the person I was trying to help has prepared for *nothing.* I get questions like, “Oh? There is a silver lamen? Where does the book mention that?” Or “So what kind of robes do I need?” Or, even better, “Now how do I go about summoning the spirits?”

Nearly as sure as clockwork, I discover that the person I was trying to help has utterly failed to study and understand the Book of Abramelin *before* they begin the process. My favorite one to date was when an aspirant wrote to ask about the Abramelin Oil. You see, they were having a hard time affording all the ingredients needed, because they needed a lot of it, because they were **burning the Holy Oil in the Lamp**!!! [Sound of Aaron repeatedly banging his head on the keyboard…] When I revealed to them that the Holy Oil is not used in the Lamp, they asked me “Oh, so what will it be used for, then – and how often?”

I’m tired of answering questions that are addressed in the very book itself. And I’m tired of people reaching the grand finale of their operation only to turn to me as if I’m going to do the Work for them (or at least hold their hand) in the end. I sure as hell can’t (and won’t) teach you the art of summoning spirits (via email no less!) over a few days before you’re expected to summon them yourself. Why the f**k wouldn’t you have thought of that before you decided this path was for you? For that matter, why would you undertake this ordeal when you clearly haven’t even read the book all the way through??

I don’t mind answering Abramelin questions – but it will have to be here on the public forum, and it won’t be for anyone who is currently in the middle of the process. Yikes.

 

Posted September 15, 2014 by kheph777 in rants, students

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Florida Pagan Gathering, the Frosts and a Modern Day Witch Hunt   17 comments

Greetings to my Neopagan Friends!

I just got back from an incredible week at the Florida Pagan Gathering (hereinafter “FPG”).  Keep an eye on my Facebook page, as I will be uploading some awesome pics from the event – including many shots taken with us, Janet Farrar, Gavin Bone, Todd Berntson, Orion Foxwood and others.  I actually got to sit around and talk shop with these elders and experts like I was one of them or something – so that’s a win.  😉

I must say I am moved by the close-knit community I see at every festival.  Having headlined there several times – as well as at their sister festival Green Song Grove, and even given workshops at the festival when I’m not headlining – I have come to know the board of directors and staff pretty well.  In each and every case I have found them to be dedicated and wonderful people, who sacrifice so much of their lives and livelihoods to make these events happen.  Many of them have become close friends of my family.

Sadly, not everyone appreciates that sacrifice as much as myself.  To be fair, most people honestly do – but you can’t expect to run a festival as large as FPG and not have a few issues.  Or that you won’t piss off some people no matter how hard you try.

And that leads me to the subject of this blog post.  Sadly, the FPG Beltaine 2014 event had a bit of a dark lining.  It wasn’t something that disrupted the festival itself (though, believe me, it tried!), but there was certainly some serious turbulence going on beneath the surface of the festivities.

 

The Actual Creep – Kenny Klein

It all started with a real piece of shit named Kenny Klein.  If you’re active in the Neopagan communities you’ve probably heard of this creep.  He was a pagan author and musician, and traveled around the festival circuits.  He also apparently had a reputation for crossing boundaries with the ladies.  Heartbreakingly, many of his intended targets found that it was pretty damn hard to accuse a “BNP” (Big Name Pagan) of inappropriate action.  This isn’t uncommon in any community, I’m afraid.  People don’t want to believe that “it could happen here” and they sure as hell don’t want to believe their idols and elders could engage in that kind of behavior.  So Klein pretty much got away with his attitudes for quite some time – a problem that really does need to be seriously addressed in our community and all communities everywhere.

So why is this suddenly an issue we’re all addressing?  Because Klein got himself arrested for possession of child porn.  He got hauled off to the slammer where he belongs, the women he had abused over the years came forward in a wave of “we told you so, you frigging idiots!”, and the entire Neopagan community went haywire.  They suddenly realized a predator had been living right in their midst, attending their festivals, spending time with or near their children –  you know the kind of moral panic one can expect after news like this breaks.  People start to question their safety, which is a good thing to think about.  But then they start to get afraid.  And when fear sets in…

 

The Witch Hunt – Gavin and Yvonne Frost

So now the subject of Neopaganism and pedophilia has become a hot topic, and people have begun to cast around for targets to attack.  You might think it wouldn’t be hard to find someone.  Pagans can get pretty raunchy around the bon fire, especially if the booze has been flowing.  Most of the time any play that ensues is consensual.  Sometimes – like in the case of Klein and the way he treated women – it’s not.  Surely it wouldn’t take much effort to find any number of big horny pagan dudes with a habit of thinking with the wrong head…

And find someone they did!  They tracked down an 80 year old man and woman, who had written a book forty years ago (now out of print, mind you!) that contained some objectionable material.  And so enters Gavin and Yvonne Frost, and their Good Witch’s Bible (first published in the 1970s).

Without a doubt, that book is the most controversial book ever published on the subject of Wicca.  The Frosts make some pretty wild claims about themselves – such as insisting that they brought Wicca to the United States and that their Church and School of Wicca is the oldest organization of its kind.  In other words, they claim to be the primary Elders of the entire Neopagan movement in the US.  They are also way, waaaaaay into the Great Rite and have published a lot of material about sacred sexuality.  They are rather (in)famous for having some shocking ideas about sex and how it should be approached in the Craft.

What actually got them targeted by the post-Klein inquisition was a chapter in the Good Witch’s Bible.  The Frosts claimed the material was historical, presenting practices that had been done in the earliest days of the Wiccan religion.  It spoke of preparing female initiates for the Great Rite by giving them phalluses to take home and practice with.  It suggested that virginal initiates go to a doctor to have their hymen broken, so they would not experience pain during their first ritual intercourse.  Shocking – but not evil.

But they also suggest that female initiates could go home and have their father help them use the phallus!  Scandalous – and most certainly fodder for Jerry Springer.  (For you kids, Springer was a senator with his own television show… oh never mind.)  But still not the reason the peasants have stormed the Frost castle.  No, here are the lines that have everyone in an uproar:

 

“The physical attributes of male and female virginity are destroyed at the youngest possible age, either by the mother or by a doctor. In the female case, the hymen is painlessly broken surgically. In the male case, the mother makes absolutely sure that the foreskin can be drawn fully back by cutting the underside attachment membrane.”

 

And with that, the Frosts declared to the world that early Wicca sought to “destroy” the “attributes of virginity” in initiates at the “youngest possible age.”  Thus, you can see how some readers might get the impression this is a description of ritualized pedophilia.  It gives the uncomfortable impression that early Covens actually performed these ridiculous acts on little girls 13 or 14 years old!

My opinion, as an author and historian, is that the Frosts are full of shit.  I don’t buy for one second that early Wiccans sent home dildos for their female aspirants to use with their fathers.  My studies into Neopagan history and practice has shown nothing of the sort, and I don’t think the Frosts could prove these claims with any documentation.  Peer review would ask exactly where these practices took place, exactly when, exactly who.  It would demand references and documentation.  None of these things are found in the Frosts’ account, and I would hazard to say we can dismiss the material as fanciful nonsense.

At the same time, I think those who dislike the Frosts and their work have also jumped to conclusions.  The Frosts have never claimed to engage in these practices themselves.  And even if they did, they have stated many times that no one under the age of 18 is allowed to join their Church and School of Wicca.  In 40 years there has never been a single accusation or complaint that the Frosts have ever harmed a child.

Yet this hasn’t stopped the public from hanging the pedophile label onto the Frosts.  That phrase “at the youngest possible age” just sits wrong with people, and I can understand why.  Therefore, after Kenny Klein’s head was put in the stocks, the posse headed straight on over to their place.  Not only were the Frosts targets themselves, but suddenly any venue that might give them a platform to speak was also considered fair game.  Pagan festivals that had the Frosts scheduled were lambasted.  They were first accused of “supporting pedophilia”, but this soon turned into accusations of protecting pedophiles on camp sites and even practicing pedophilia themselves!

A full blown Witch Hunt was underway!  People who had been brothers and sisters in the Craft for decades were suddenly attacking one another with vile accusations.  An atmosphere of “us vs. them” and “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” developed.

To defend the Frosts’ right to publish what they understood to be historical information was equated with supporting pedophilia.  In fact, every complaint issued against the Frosts (or anyone defending them) was couched in the unspoken assumption that they are, in fact, practicing pedophiles or at least knowingly advocating it.  No one could be bothered to stop and ask if the Frosts really were supporters of sex with little children…  😦  They just are, so attack!  And because they “just are” we must also attack with zeal every person and every Pagan festival that doesn’t agree the Frosts are pedophiles.

And that is when the Florida Pagan Gathering was put in shackles and hauled up before the Grand Wiccan Inquisitors.

 

Caught in the Middle – Florida Pagan Gathering

FPG was one of the venues that had invited the Frosts to speak this year.  Now keep in mind that the Frosts had been to FPG the year before, and it wasn’t a big deal.  There were a few who didn’t like them being there, but I never saw a real issue develop over it.  I attended their astral travel workshop with my daughter and we really enjoyed it.  (In fact it was the very first guided astral trip my girl had ever taken!  She was a natural at it, btw.)  The workshop was well attended, and I personally found the Frosts – particularly Yvonne – to be very sweet and pleasant folks.  I couldn’t see any harm in having them come back the following year as fellow headliners.

But then the Klein debacle went down, and suddenly the Frosts were the harbingers of evil, a cancer upon the community who were being coddled and facilitated by an uncaring FPG board of directors.  Or so said a bevy of detractors – many of them long-time FPG attendees and even some staff members.  It all began when several of them got together to write a “Joint Resolution” in protest of the Frosts’ invitation to speak at FPG.  (You can read it here, scroll to the very bottom of the page.)

Now, to be fair to these guys, that Joint Resolution is pretty tame.  It merely states that they believe the Frosts advocate “the sexual initiation of children into the Craft” and that therefore they feel the Frosts should not be allowed to present workshops at FPG.  It invited others who agree to sign on.  Notice, too, that the resolution doesn’t call for the Frosts to be banned from the festival.  It doesn’t accuse the Frosts of any crimes, or of being secret predators.  It just states that the Frosts wrote some bizarre and objectionable stuff and the signatories would rather not see them give workshops during the festival.

Of course, I disagree that the Frosts would ever advocate any kind of sexual activity with a child.  Just writing about a historical practice does not mean you advocate it.  (I write about animal sacrifice in my work.  I even defend its practice within the ATR communities.  I include a section on the subject when I give classes on magickal offerings.  But that doesn’t mean I sacrifice animals myself, nor that I encourage my students to do so.)

And I also disagree that FPG – or any venue – giving an author a platform to speak automatically means they support or advocate every word written by that author.  Come on folks, that one is a standard disclaimer in every venue in the history of ever!

So I obviously have some fundamental disagreements with the authors of the resolution.  But, still, they have every right to publish that resolution – just as I defend the Frosts’ right to publish the malarkey they did.

However… this is the Internet, and we all know what that means!  The resolution quickly attracted the rabid anti-Frost crowd, along with no small number of internet trolls who simply like to stir shit anywhere they find it.  Flame wars erupted and all the vile accusations I mentioned above began to be tossed around.  FPG had to delete several of the threads that had gone too far, and finally had to shut down comments on their page entirely.  The anti-Frost Witch Hunters jumped upon that as “proof” that FPG was protecting and covering up the practice of pedophilia at their festival.

Before it was over, some coward had even contacted the owner of the festival site (which also happens to host children’s’ camps during the summer) and told them that hoards of pedophiles were about to descend on FPG to have their way with any children they could find there – and that the FPG board of directors were pederasts who would facilitate the abuse!!

Disgusted yet?

The result was that FPG was forced to call the Frosts and tell them how bad things had become, and the Frosts agreed to simply stay home.  Someone out there was actually willing to harm the camp site to get their way, and even to destroy FPG itself if it was necessary.  Meanwhile the Frosts have been dis-invited from several festivals around the nation, and their livelihood has been taken from them.  Two old people who never committed a crime, destroyed thanks to one douchebag (Klein) who actually did.  This is one of the most vile displays of cowardice I’ve seen in my lifetime.

I’m angry over this issue for two reasons.  First, as an author and historian I will defend to the death the First Amendment right of my fellow authors to report history.  Even if that history turns out to be bogus – which I think it is in the case of the Frosts – it should be torn apart academically and tossed into the historical rubbish bin.  But we can NOT persecute the authors merely for publishing it!  If we go down that road, then every occult author in the world is royally screwed.  Forty freakin’ years from now I might find myself excommunicated because I once wrote about animal sacrifice, if the Pagan community at that time decides it is not an acceptable practice.  And what else will be banned?  What other books will we burn?  What other authors will we destroy?

Second, I am angry that the anti-Frost trolls who made this mess are so willing to drag the good people at FPG down into the mud with them.  They claimed that FPG dismissed them and their concerns, but that isn’t the case at all.  FPG disagreed with their assertions about the Frosts – and that made the rabble rousers angry.  So they resorted to accusations and attacks, and even called the FPG board a bunch of pederasts.  It was simple cyber-bullying and nothing more.  I’d take one of the Frosts’ alleged dildos home and use it on myself before I’d tolerate a petty bully.  Or a group of them.

 

The Infamous FPG Round Table

I got involved right around this time.  At the festival, the FPG board hosted a round-table discussion.  Far from “ignoring” or “covering up” the issue, the board was willing to gather everyone together (face to face, not on a goddam Facebook page) and allow absolutely everyone to have their say.  A talking-stick was used to preserve order, and any holder of the stick was given 90 seconds to say anything they wished.

That day I got to hear every author (including Janet and Gavin!) stand and speak in defense of the First Amendment and against the kind of bullying that had taken place.  (Except for one, which made little sense to me.  I won’t say who it was.)  I saw a soldier stand and remind us how he had given up his rights and put his life on the line overseas so we could enjoy the right to publish what we will.  I saw a police officer say exactly what he thought of child molesters, but that he would be damned if he’d let a vocal minority dictate what he can and can’t read or who’s workshops he can attend.  I saw a fiery druid priestess stand and tear the bullies a new one.  And I saw many long-time FPG attendees and staff stand and literally break down in tears over the vile things said against the festival and the board.

I decided to attend that round table for several reasons.  First, I had seen this situation grow, and I was pretty disgusted by the Witch Hunt atmosphere that had developed.  Second, I was not going to sit silently by without defending my FPG friends – they are damned good people who didn’t deserve to be bullied for issues (Klein, the Frosts) they had nothing to do with in the first place.  And third, as an author and headliner at the same festival the Frosts were banned from, I had to stand and speak out for everyone’s right to free speech, including my own.

So I carefully wrote four points I wanted to cover in my minute and a half.  When I got ahold of the talking stick, I walked right out out into the middle of the room and really let everyone have it.  Here is what I said, nearly verbatim (I am writing this from memory):

 

My name is Aaron Leitch, I am an occult author.  You’ve heard from some very wonderful and kind people here today.  I’m not kind.  I have four points I’m going to cover here:

Point #1:  I have heard a little rumor that the anti-Frost faction in this nonsense has claimed all of the authors here at FPG support them.  How dare you?  How dare you involve my name in something without consulting with me first?!

Point #2:  I am disgusted that a bunch of self-proclaimed “witches” would involve themselves in a Witch Hunt!

Point #3:  You cannot provide a single victim of the Frosts.  Not a single arrest.  Not even a single complaint in 40 years.  So you are not protecting children here, you are engaging in book burning and witch hunting and nothing else!

Point #4:  For those of you who would engage in lies and slander, who would call these fine people [I gestured toward the board members] pederasts?!? – You are not Pagan, you have no business in this community, and if I had any authority in this matter you would be banned from this festival permanently!

That is all I have to say.

 

NOTE:  I have been asked by several people to clarify point #4 above.  Am I suggesting everyone involved with the original Joint Resolution is not a Pagan?  No.  I defend their right to their opinion and their right to publish that opinion.  I admit the original resolution didn’t call for any of the flames or hate or dirty tricks that followed.  But – those things followed anyway, and I refuse to accept as “Pagan” anyone who would lower themselves to such tactics.  And that includes anyone involved with the original Joint Resolution that has used, and some who continue to use, those methods of getting what they want.  That’s not Paganism.  It causes harm, and that pretty much breaks the one basic rule we all agree upon, doesn’t it?

 

So there you have it…

Now you have heard the story of this debacle from an actual FPG insider, rather than from some tabloid-style hit piece posted by someone with half a clue and less brains to back it.  I have no doubt whatsoever that this post will result in loud proclamations that I, too, am a lover of little children.  And probably that I eat babies and kick puppies, too.  But, hey, this is the Internet.  You gotta expect the stupid…

Magickal Super Powers   8 comments

Greetings True Believers!

The Sorcerer Supreme

The Sorcerer Supreme

It might seem a bit odd – unless you are Dr. Strange or some other magickal denizen of the comic book universe – to associate modern occultism with straight-up super powers.   And we’re not talking about something metaphorical like “to become more than human” – which means to become a self-actualized metaprogrammer who is literally awake inside their own skull.  Nor are we talking about operative magick by which we invoke the spirits to manifest things that we need, or protect us from harm or even to heal the sick.

No, we’re talking about a belief in Hollywood-style super powers – like the ability to fly, dodge bullets, shatter prison walls, transform substances*, to live without food or water, direct lightning, become (literally) immortal and more.

(* And by “transform substances”, I don’t mean alchemy or anything spiritual like the Eucharist.  I mean things like transforming illegal substances – locked in evidence lockers – into harmless legal substances to upset court cases.  And, yes, that is an example of a claim I recently heard.)

Yes, it seems quite odd that anyone could approach magick from this kind of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons or Hollywood fantasy standpoint – and take themselves seriously, let alone anyone else take them seriously.  But it happens – maybe even more than you think it does.  There are even would-be gurus out there who promise those kinds of super powers to their followers – for a price – and it appears they are not lacking in signed checks to cash, either. 

Just this week, I have been dealing with one of these types on the Abramelin Yahoo Group.  He swooped in from nowhere, his long cape fluttering in the winds of the Hoary Hosts of Haggoth, to inform the entire group (and especially me) that we don’t have a gnat’s ass clue what we are talking about.  Where we discuss a “faux-HGA” that slowly guides and teaches an aspirant in the mysteries of magick, the real HGA is supposed to appear and (like Aladdan’s Genie) grant one instant super powers and unlock all the “secret keys” to make use of the Abramelin word-squares and even the Seals of Solomon.

The mere fact that we are sitting around discussing the HGA on a Yahoo Group, says the Great Master, illustrates that we don’t have a clue.  He is here to (and I quote) “keep it real.”  He “knows people” who can wave a pinkie finger and deadlock juries, dodge bullets, transform illegal substances and more.  Not only this, but according to him real magicians don’t read books, nor should any who do read or write books be taken seriously.  So not only does your Holy Guardian Angel make you a thunderbolt-wielding super hero, but you have to be illiterate to even get there.  lol

Ok, yes, it’s funny and we can easily laugh at someone who is so obviously entrapped in his childhood fantasies.  But there is also a more serious side of the coin:  sometimes these types of people get their followers hurt or killed.

Peregrin Wildoak recently wrote his own blog article on this subject.  In it, he brings up the practice known as “Breatharianism.”  This is a practice whereby one gazes into the Sun each morning – a little at first, but increasing the time each day until one is staring into it for nearly an hour or more.  The goal is to eventually take all of your necessary nutrients directly from the Sun, and leave behind your need for food or water.  Why, I even read one article that suggested it would also give you psychic powers, telepathy, the ability to bi-locate and much much more!

And before you scoff at the very idea anyone could fall for that kind of nonsense, you should know that people have bought into it and even died in the attempt.  One Breatharian leader was even challenged to prove she could go for a mere seven days without food or water – and the experiment was called off a few days in, as her body began to break down and lawyers told them they could be legally culpable for her death.  She, meanwhile, spent the entire time insisting she was just fine and wanted to continue!

It is people like this that drag the entire subject of occultism down into the mud.  Sometimes they get people hurt or killed.  But most often they just swindle people out of a lot of money.  You don’t know how many times I’ve been contacted by people who went to a self-proclaimed “healer” for a cleansing, only to be shown some kind of stage-magic trick and told they were cursed – a curse which could be removed for several hundred dollars.  (And then several hundred more, and then…)  Just read through the comments made on my Egg Cleansing post for a few examples.  And they are just a few I’ve been able to warn away from being taken – I shudder to think of how many aren’t so lucky.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I know we’re dealing with a gray area here.  As one who practices “operative magick” – that is magick done to make things happen in the real world – I know there is something of a fine line to walk.  I deal with angels and spirits as if they were as real as you and I.  I speak about jumping between realities as easily as an episode of Sliders.  I speak of doing magick to bring money or physical objects when they are needed.  I believe in curses and possession and hauntings, as well as in my own knowledge of how to break them.

Besides, miracles do happen.  Maybe some of those old Saints or Eastern Gurus really did manage to levitate.  Maybe Jesus really did raise Lazarus from the dead.  Hell, for that matter, maybe Dee really did brew up a storm and sink the Spanish Armada.  Anything is technically possible, so far be it from me to call every claim ever made hogwash.  I’ve certainly seen my share of physics-defying events – blessed salt turned into pure light, disembodied sounds, ghosts.  Why, once I even time traveled (though it only lasted a second and I was not apparently physically present in the time/place I traveled to).

But I find the charlatans are usually the ones insisting on the super powers.  They’re trying desperately to sell you something, or to sell you on something.  They, like our “Dr. Strange” from the Abramelin Group, loudly proclaim everyone else to be false pretenders while only they have access to the True Secrets of the Universe(tm).  (And, most often, they follow that with a promise to teach them to you, and where you can send your check or money order…)

Real spiritual leaders will likely tell you the miracles and magickal powers are mere side-effects of the Great Work.  They can happen, but they are something you earn by long years of practice and a hell of a lot of trial and error.  And some of the more spiritual traditions (like some Buddhist sects) tell you to avoid them altogether.

Me, I’m striving for miracles on demand!  But, seriously, the minute I start claiming that I can “eat sunlight” or fly up to the local 7-11 for a soda – just toss me in a padded room.  😉

‘Nuff Said.

Posted August 3, 2013 by kheph777 in rants, social commentary

Tagged with ,

The ‘Golden Dawn Wars’ – Or ‘Much Ado About Nothing’   5 comments

Greetings Faithful Readers!

Nick Farrell recently posted a blog about the upcoming Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls anthology.  He called the post Flying Rolls Book Reveals Golden Dawn Community Secret.  The big secret he believes has been revealed can be summed up in this quote from the post:

Wading through [the list of contributors to the anthology] and the wide range of Golden Dawn groups that these people belong you start to realise that the level of cooperation that exists between these different orders must be considerably higher than many would have you believe.

If you’ve been around the various communities of the Western Mystery Tradition for the last 20 years, then you likely know what Nick is talking about.  I am sad to say that all too many people outside of the Golden Dawn have the impression that our Tradition is overflowing with arrogant jerks who would rather call each other names and accuse one another of outlandish crimes than concentrate on the Great Work. 

I’ve personally run into any number of dedicated occultists who proclaim they wouldn’t give a Golden Dawner the time of day.  Or even that there must be some something flawed in the G.D. system because it “keeps producing spiritually damaged people.”  Perhaps you even feel this way youself.

And that is a very sad thing – becaue the reality of the Golden Dawn is so much different than what you might have seen on the internet.  (Is that really a surprise?)  I’ve been involved in the greater Golden Dawn Community now for the better part of 20 years – and I have yet to see any of the hateful in-fighting that has been proclaimed so loudly on the ‘net.

Oh sure, there have been disagreements.  There have been expulsions.  There have been groups that split up due to irreconcilable differences.  I’ve even known individuals that flat out decide not to work with one another ever again.  All of this is expected from any movement of this size and scope.  But, what is the overall reality of the movement itself?  Is there really something “wrong” with the Golden Dawn?  Does it really produce an endless parade of overblown egos?

Not that I’ve seen in real life.  While the hate gets spewed around by a few trolls on the internet (most of them from outside the Tradition), I’ve seen the various Golden Dawn Orders and independant Temples quietly getting along, and largely ignoring what is going on in the cyber-world.  As Donald Michael Kraig recently posted on Facebook:

I’ve had the honor of knowing some of the people who have written for this [Golden Dawn Commentaries] book. It’s true. There really are no “Golden Dawn wars” today. There will always be those who try to invent them in order to develop an us-vs-them mentality—a common method used to create cults. There will also be disagreements—that’s why there are different GD groups. I take that as a sign of the vitality of the tradition and the passion of those who participate. But most real GD people I’ve met look at those trying to spark controversy and wars that don’t exist and think of what Puck said in Midsummer’s Night Dream: “What fools these mortals be.”

So Don feels the same way Nick and I feel – and we aren’t alone either.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that the true fraternity of the Golden Dawn community has been slowly seeping onto the internet.

Take, for example, the 30th Anniversary of the Consecration of the HOGD Vault of the Adepti  that took place last year.  A document was drawn up to offer congrats and thanks to Chic and Tabatha Cicero for their work and dedication to the Golden Dawn Tradition – and it was signed by dozens of folks from a host of different Orders, Temples and some unaffiliated individuals.

Later, a Facebook event was created for the same Anniversary – and what started out as dozens of well-wishers turned into hundreds as people from all walks of life added their names and thoughts to the list.  (Click on the link, and you can add yours as well!)

Most recently, the Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls anthology was announced – a book created by members and leaders of several different Golden Dawn groups, all working together to create something worthwhile for students everywhere.

And it isn’t going to stop there, either!  Even now there are projects in the works that transcend all Order affiliations and philosophical differences and illustrate that the Golden Dawn Community is working together in harmony toward the Great Work, with all of you in mind.  🙂

So the next time you run into a Golden Dawner, before you jump to any conclusions about what kind of person he or she might be, consider the old addage:  “By their fruits shall ye know them.”