Archive for April, 2009

Accountability

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 24, 2009 by Harmony041297

I was reading http://wildhunt.org/blog tonight and came across a mention of Nikki Russo and a new book called “The Pomegranate Seed”. In it her horrible ordeal in “The Brotherhood” is outlined. Allegedly this is a twisted cult posing as a coven of witches that lured her into it’s clutches and then subjected her to intimidation, sexual abuse and mind altering substances.

 

This story really hit home with a vengeance for me, as I am currently helping dear friends extricate themselves from an increasingly dangerous cultish coven that I myself was a part of nearly a year ago.

 

We have a very serious problem here, fellow Pagans, and it is time that we opened our eyes to it and examined it. I hear every day how wonderful it is that Paganism is so decentralized, that it is just a thing of beauty that there is no Pope, no Pastor and no Board of Directors to answer to. “To each their own”, “I’m OK, you’re OK, we’re all OK”, “Oh my heretic heart is my guide” and the tripe continues ad infinitum. This is all fine and dandy so long as you are keeping your spirituality to yourself, going about your life with no concern for the future of Paganism. However, when someone styles themselves as a leader, a High Priest or Archdruid, there must be a non-biased third party that they are beholden to.

 

A self-created problem that we face is, that in our “You are your own High Priest” mentality we have given every lunatic narcissist a free-pass to Jonestown infamy. We have to believe someone’s claims when they say they have been practicing solitaire for ten years and that they are qualified to teach others. We have to take someone at their word that what is written in their official looking “by-laws and convenants” will be upheld and maintained. We have indeed set up the perfect theocratic tyranny and hailed it as “Spiritual Liberation”.

 

What we need to do is pull our heads out of the proverbial sand and take a good hard look at the future. What do we want from Paganism? What do we want it’s future to be? With it’s increasing popularity, it could very well be hailed as a world-religion once again. But how do we get from here to there?

 

First we must realize what a pretty pickle we have gotten ourselves into with our vehement resistance to organization. To drive home this point, I am going to air my grievances in full against a coven that you will see advertised on Witchvox in Colorado Springs. I am going to use the coven’s name, the business front to the coven’s name and the craft names of the leadership. This will be a full disclosure, as I wish for as many people to read this and not only beware of this group, but others like it. Forgive me, but this post is going to be a long one.

 

The coven is called Faerie Moone Coven, Ravenspell Clan. Recently I have been told that they have changed their name to something like “Magic Gathering”, or possibly “Ravenspell Gathering”.

 

The leaders of this group are called Rowan Ravenspell and Genevieve Ravenspell. They were never initiated into any tradition, their certification comes from a mail-order site that offers High Priesthood for a small fee. Their story is a fantasical and ridiculous one. They assert that Ra (as in the Egyptian Sun God and ruler of Heaven and Earth) came to them in visions and invocations when they were in High School. Ra proceeded to teach them “Celtic Shamanism”, with the help of an “ancestral guide”, none other than Elizabeth Howe (via Salem Witchtrial Fame). The magic they were practicing at this point was far more akin to “Charmed” fluff than anything particularly “Celtic” or “Shaman”. However, I digress.

 

I myself came to the coven during a crisis point in my life. My marriage had dissolved in a flurry of blows to the head dealt by my ex-wife and scathing and unfounded accusations of adultery. I packed a bag and drove into the night. I had nowhere to go, but I had become extremely close to Rowan and Genevieve over the past months, as they owned the metaphysical store and had been giving me readings and counselling me about my long-standing relationship issues with my then estranged wife. Their’s was the only place for me to lay my head.

 

So I rashly and rather rudely drove into their driveway at two o’clock in the morning and slept in my car until they arrived at their house. They were extremely understanding and hospitable, immediately opening their home to me, setting me up in the guest bedroom and quickly involving me in the complex social life of their coven. Two days later I interviewed with the coven and joined.

 

At first things were great. I had lost my job, but Rowan and Genevieve had allowed me to work at their store in lieu of paying rent. My estranged wife, in a rage, had called the police and lied to them, filing a false charge of domestic abuse against me which landed me in jail for twenty-four hours, but my new coven was there, attending the hearing and picking me up late the next night from jail. My new coven protected me from further abuses and false charges by making sure I had an escort to my home to pick up essentials and providing witness statements when my wife came into the store to yell and scream at me for “abandoning her”. And, best of all, I was enjoying an unfolding romance with one of the priestesses in the coven who is now my girlfriend of two years.

 

In the beginning the coven was amazing, a loyal group of friends that had my back no matter what. Then, things started to turn sour. Soon after I entered, we had a member bow out of the group. He left in an unfortunate flurry of drama and false statements to the police, seeking to pin us for animal cruelty due to our humane and federally sanctioned animal sacrifice rituals.

 

The coven’s response to this was frightening. There was talk of calling a favor to a former UFC fighter who owed Rowan and Genevieve money. The favor of course was clearance of the debt if he would “silence” the detractor. People who under normal, sane circumstances would never consider violence were offering to slit the ex-member’s throat, “like witches would have done in the old days”. In the end the coven settled on throwing curses and negative manifestation at the detractor and a prolonged flamewar via Myspace.

 

After this debacle things seemed to be good again. The “energy” of the group was much better with the old member and we got on with our lives. Shortly thereafter new drama was stirred up, this time it was centered around me. After losing my job due to the false charge of domestic violence and my subsequent stint in jail, I worked at the metaphysical store that the leaders of the coven ran. The arrangement was that I would work there in return for free room and board with a small amount of actual cash given to me weekly to pay for my petrol and other personal expenses. During this time my newfound romance was coming into full bloom and I could no longer commit to working seven days a week, twelve hours a day, and requested a couple of days off per week on occasion to visit my sweetheart. This was grudginly granted, but the money began to stop being given to me, and I only ever recieved my weekly allowance after much nagging. I began sleeping over at my girlfriend’s house more than I was sleeping at Rowan and Genevieve’s, which apparently made them very angry. They sent their apprentice and “shit lackey” over to ream me for my absence from the house and tell me that Rowan and Genevieve were kicking me out and I had better come get my stuff or else they were going to put it on the curb on trash day.

 

This took me completely by surprise, as did the threat of a lawsuit over “past-due rent”, which was a strawman since there were never any written contracts. When I arrived at the house to pick my belongings up I found the remnants of a curse ritual in the “temple space” of the house, blood-soaked drums and black candle stubs, as well as a bloody Sekhmet statue on the altar (their favorite diety to call upon for cursing people).

 

I took some general precautions against magical attack and moved on. Unfortunately I still had not seen the group for what it was, and I felt obligated to the group for the support they had given me in the midst of my recent crisis, so I sucked up and was returned into the fold.

 

Drama continued, this time around other members, nothing extremely serious, except in the constancy. My girlfriend and I began calling it the “flavor of the week” phenomenon. Each week there would be some new whipping boy.

 

During this time, money was a constant issue. No one ever knew where the coven dues were going, what it was being spent on, or how much we actually had saved up. So we implemented a treasurer, however the system failed miserably because Rowan and Genevieve’s hands were always dipping into the pot. Any time sales were low at the store, and they needed gas, or cigarettes, or a new DVD for their collection, they would purchase it with coven dues.

 

Business was bad, so the coven dues became a major preaching point for the leadership. The treasurer began to make collections at the beginning of class, and if someone didn’t have their ten dollars for that week, then they were expected to either go into debt to the coven or to clean Rowan and Genevieve’s house or work at the store.

 

Soon the leadership decided that second degree initiations would be done in Hawaii, and that the coven would do fundraisers to gather the required two-thousand dollars per person to be able to go. This was never put to a vote, and everyone was expected to attend mandatory fundraiser meetings and events on top of weekly classes, public rituals, and spontaneous pop-rituals and birthday parties for 23 people. It got so bad that the only time my girlfriend and I had together was with the coven, and there wasn’t a night alone for us for several weeks.

 

My girlfriend was attending school full time, commuting down to Colorado Springs on the weekends to work and see me and try to juggle the numerous coven activities. Needless to say this placed an extreme strain on our relationship. The leaders expected us to attend every event regardless of her school or our relationship needs.

 

We eventually put our foot down and declared that we were going to be stepping away from some of the commitments so that we could work on “us” for a while. The coven responded with a “talking stick ceremony” to air their complaints, where our relationship was the subject of numerous complaints. The leaders then went on to tell us that “for the sake of our training as priests” we needed to be able to be apart and not be “attached at the crotch”. Mind you, dear reader, my girlfriend and I had only been together for eight months at this point. Try telling anyone still in the “honey-moon phase” that they need to spend time apart.

 

What ensued thereafter was a subtle campaign against our relationship, where hints were dropped to both of us that we needed to experiment sexually with other people, that polyamoury was the best way for a witch to love, that we would eventually break up and get to experience others within the group, and they did this in the most manipulative ways, utilizing their positions of spiritual authority to communicate these personal vendettas via psychic readings, invocations and “dream messages”.

 

Long story short, we got tired of jumping through hoops. We finally saw through their games, their glamours and their lies. We saw that the tradition we were learning was constantly changing, sometimes drastically, and that there was no historical or cultural connection to the Celtic folkways in what we were being taught. So, we left.

 

Unfortunately that was not the end. Rowan and Genevieve were very kind to our faces when we would stop in to say hello or purchase something from their store. They would ask about our lives and seemed very supportive. We learned later that when we were away they mocked us and told lies about us. We told them we left to pursue a more Reconstructionist path, they told the coven we left to practice the “Necronomicon”, saying we were too stupid to know that that book is pure fiction and doesn’t even exist, beyond the imagination of H.P. Lovecraft. They told members not to have any unnecessary contact with us, because they couldn’t figure out our “intentions”, and that we were “up to something”. Thus, we were ostracized.

 

Then six months later we received a text message from someone still in the group, and came to discover that there was a huge falling out that resulted in more than half of the group submitting sabbatical letters! We immediately rushed to support these new refugees, as we had been there ourselves. Their reasons for leaving were the exact same as ours had been, although things had gotten worse in the time we had been away.

 

One member, at her dedication ritual, was threatened with death, the gathered coveners had to physically restrain one of our military trained members from slitting her throat, which was the culmination of a ritual where everyone present insulted and degraded the poor girl simply because they didn’t like her.

 

The money situation had gotten so bad that Rowan and Genevieve’s house was in foreclosure, they were about to be evicted out of their storefront, and they had recently embezzeled three thousand dollars from the store’s safe to go to California on a lark. They justified it as being of a spiritual nature, but still managed to stop at Las Vegas and do some gambling and visist Disney Land, Sea World and the San Diego Zoo – because they had received “messages” from their guides that they needed to do “rituals” there for the well being of their business and coven affairs. 

 

The resultant shockwaves that the en masse exodus from the coven are still being felt by the members who have left. One ex-member was coaxed to Rowan and Genevieve’s home and subjected to the verbal equivalent of a flogging for his “betrayal” of the group and the devastating pain he had caused the members who had stayed. During this flaying one of the members was threateningly opening and closing her lock-blade knife and testing it’s edge. Another hysterical member screamed at him, asking him, “How dare you?! Rowan and Genevieve are our King and Queen, our God and Goddess!”

 

Much more has transpired, but I am done for now. My purpose in relaying all of this information as honestly as I can is simple. I do not believe someone can make an accusation without supporting evidence. Faerie Moone Coven, Ravespell Clan, Ravenspell Gather, or Magic Gathering, is a cult, and a potentially dangerous one. Several of those gifted with the Veil in our group have had horrible visions of mass ritual suicide. Their hysteria is reaching it’s climax and they now fill nearly every cult indicator on numerous cult-checker websites. Their violence is escalating, as is the High Priest’s “messiah complex”.

 

So, dear brothers and sisters, be careful, and stay away from that coven. Understand that Faerie Moone metaphysical store is the primary means that this cult uses to support itself, and patronizing their store is conding their abusive practices.

 

We need: Accountability.

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Heathen Revival: Tribal Integrity in a Cultural Swamp

Posted in Heathenism with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2009 by Harmony041297

First off, let me say I love my friend, Coloradocelt and his blog. His thoughts fire me up either in sympathy or in opposition, either way he gets me thinking and I appreciate him for that.

 

I was reading his blog today http://coloradocelt.wordpress.com and was inspired to write the following post, partially as a response to the musings found there, and partially as a systemization of my own thoughts.

 

He brings up a wonderful point in Head Knowledge, Heart Knowledge and Pagan Reconstructionism, which I will refer to as the “geographical argument”. It could be states thus: We live in a world and society so far removed from our ancestors’, why attempt to reconstruct the belief systems of the past when many are outdated or irrelevant?

 

I think this is a valid concern, and one that needs to be addressed by all the philosophers and thinkers that make up the Recon/Traditionalist community. I began to address Reconstructionism in a previous blog and I think I explained well enough there how Reconstructionism came about, so I will not reiterate it here. This blog will be devoted to exploring the question of: “Where do we go from here?”.

 

So, here we are, we have read the Havamal and Poetic Edda a thousand times, we have discussed the importance of this runestone or that brooch, we have debated how a viking helm ended up in a bog in Wales and exhausted all the new archaeological findings. . .now what do we do? Well, if debating anthropology and history has ceased to water your spirit, and you begin to look deeper into the Well of Urdh and thirst for the mysteries of the Gods how do you apply the majik? Does a fifteen-hundred year old grimoire address the problems of today? I doubt the Goetia or the Cyprianusbok really tells you what you should do ritually when your rent is late, or you are struggling with an unfaithful lover. Knowing the four Fylgja of Iceland will probably not help your tap into the unique energy of your homeland, especially if you live in Vinland (America).  Where can we turn for inspiration for building a culturally correct yet modern folk-majik tradition? Well, we needn’t look very far.

 

In New England, specifically Pennsylvania, there is a thriving folk-majik tradition called Powow, Braucherie, or Hexcraft. It is the indigenous witchcraft traditions of the German immigrants, consisting of old Heathen lore, Lutheran Christianity and Cherokee medicine practices. While many of it’s spells are far too Christianized to be of any use to a Heathen, they can serve as a guide and inspiration, showing us the way to creating a syncretic system that doesn’t try to ignore the manifold cultural elements of Americana, but absorbs them and re-translates them into a Heathen worldview.

 

Let’s face it, as much as we would like to say that we are pure descendants of the Scandi, Jutes, Angles, or Saxons. . .we aren’t. Most of us in America are a wonderful mix of peoples and ethnicities. Many of Irish descent also share First Nations blood, I know that my family is a European Heinz 57 with bloodlines hailing from Switzerland, Sweden, England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany. . .and these are only the ones I know about. There is a family story of one of our ancestors, a trapper and fur-trader in the late 1800’s who went missing and was found years later living with a First Nations tribe! They had offically adopted him into their tribe and when he was offered a ride back to “civilization” he demurred. What I am getting at is simply this: we cannot ignore the fact that we do not live in Germany, Sweden or Norway. We live in America, for better or for worse, so let’s stop pandering to escapism and seek to unite in sacred marriage our Blood and the Land.

 

The Landspirits are very important in Heathenism, and when the Land we live on is peopled by the spirit-races of the Native Americans’ Gods, we must take this into account. Instead of ordering majikal supplies from half-way across the world, let’s begin taking inventory of what our Americana offers us and mold it into an American Heathen syncretism.

 

For another example, I would like to take a look at Louisiana Voodoo and Southern Hoodoo. These folk traditions have had to adjust and reform according to cultural climate and society the African slaves found themselves in. Despite the outward appearances (Saints, Mass, Holy Water, etc.) Voodoo is still a very powerful way to work with the Haitian Loa. This tradition absorbed the extant cultural elements and put them to use to serve their Gods. . .something we as Heathens can do if we aren’t afraid of being called a fluff-bunny.

 

An example of this is my Runic Rosary. I personally love the aesthetics of the Rosary, and am absolutely in love with the use of beads as prayer and mediation aids, so I went to the craft store, bought some pony beads, chain and spacers and created a rosary. For a medallion I placed a Metal  Spiral and on each bead I burned a rune. I now have the entire futhark to utiseta with and do my chants. The imagery is thus: The spiral represents the unformed Chaos of the Guningagap, then Fehu – the Cosmic Mother Cow, Audhumla, then Uruz the Wild Male principle that culminates in Thurisaz – Ymir. And it continues on, teaching the entire cycle of the world in all it’s Ages even unto Ragnarok symbolized by Dagaz – the Dissolution. The beads then return to the Spiral and the world is remade with Fehu again.

 

We can build a strong and thriving folk tradition here in America, utilizing and re-orienting all the aspects of our culture into a Heathen perspective. Perhaps Red Chili Powder could be a good and useful herb to combine with Kaun, which we know from the Norwegian Rune Poem is a sore and a sickness in children. Perhaps Woden enjoys the scent of Orange Oil (I believe he does). How do we know that Idhunna wouldn’t like an Apple Martini?

 

My point is, that all the historical research in the world will not give you a hands-on up-close-and-personal experience with the Holy Powers. You cannot expect to live an empowered life if the Past is dictating what to do. The Past is very important, and history is our guide, but it should not be our slave-master. Let’s apply our vast knowledge of the Gods and the Lore and begin to build a religion that speaks to our cultural realities as American Heathens.

Woden: A Devotional Galdr

Posted in Heathenism on April 15, 2009 by Harmony041297

Writing to the void, I scribe runes upon lintels of doors, my windows covered in occult equations. I seep deep in my blueberry melancholy, wondering, ‘Where are you, hunter of my soul?’. I miss my wandering god, the wild huntsman who used to pursue like the shrieking tempest. I sit in bathroom uhtisetta, zen meditations upon porcelain thrones. Pipes groan and my inner-works respond in kind.

 

Midnight reveries of silent isolation, walking alone amidst crowds, swathed in a nimbus of blue cigarette smoke. I roam and and I seek, smiling at orphans and handing molding bills to beggars who reach out lustily. Coins rattle in a cup and for a moment my god overshadows the reeking piece of human refuse. I hasten to this divine street hobo, then weep in frustration. He has left this grimy man, leaving a confused drunken shell. I pour the last of my change into his cup, and I wonder on.

 

How far must I wander, Vegtam the Wanderer? How long must I hunt, Wise Huntsman? You know I shall trek to the ends of the earth, where the seas fall into the shrieking pits of dreams. . . and I do.  Yet I find only more emptiness and doubt.

 

Anger rises! Neon rage! I scream ink black imprecations into the purple plum midnight cathedral; only the stars respond, winking mockingly. Even your gimlet eye has left the Mimir Well of Sky. Blood pounds tense in my temples, like the blood once flowed in your Temples. Is this what you desire, oh vampiric lecher? Do you long for the days when bulls hung from your holy trees? Must I placate you with sacrifices of goats and men?

 

No. You have lost your taste for such things. You feed upon different things now, most holy Hanged God. Gallows Lord you beckon me within – seek the ingwaz freedom between life and death.

 

I sit by the slurping sea, watching it make shameless love to the shore, lapping at Earth’s intimacies with lustful abandon. My heart beats in my chest like a ticking time bomb, each pulse counting on my mortality. Then, in the white noise pollution of a polluted city I hear my blood speak. I know then that I may search the world and never find him, though I inspect every hollow and untainted grove. For if that which I seek I do not find within, I shall never find it without.

Growing Up: The Maturation of Reconstructionism

Posted in Heathenism on April 9, 2009 by Harmony041297

I was inspired to write this blog by my dear friend and his most recent publication: http://coloradocelt.wordpress.com/

In it he brought up some very real issues that face the Reconstructionist community. Being a Heathen, I felt I would post my own ramblings on the subject at hand: the maturation and growth of Reconstructionism in general, and specifically Heathenism, as this is my area of expertise.

 

In the Recon community, there seems to be a doctrinal vehemence against Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis (UPG). Many within our communities look askance at the spiritual insights gifted to devotees as frivilous and vain self-aggrandizement. All I can say in regards to this disturbing trend is: STOP!

We cannot think to grow as a religion and spirituality if we stifle our seers, prophets and volvae! We must dig our roots deep in the lore, but realize that for our sapling religion to grow it must reach it’s branches towards the Heavens (and subsequently, the Gods).  UPG is a powerful and life sustaining gift, it is the water of the spirit realm, and without it we would surely shrivel and fade away.

 

I understand why this stigma was attached to UPG. In the days of neopagan infancy, there was a plague of charlatans, the spiritual marketplace was rife with con-artists selling High Priesthood for a buck and a blowjob. Thus Reconstructionism came about to address a community of spiritual seekers who wanted more than “channeled messages from Seth” and revisionist history lessons. Many found the conservative, scholarly approach to the Pagan revival a breath of fresh air. Many who founded this new movement had been hurt and damaged by the irresponsible teachings and internal politics of infant “witchdom”, and unfortunately passed these traumas onto the next generation in the form of dogmatism and rigid interpretations of the Lore. What began as a solution to one problem became  another. This post hopes to begin the dialogue required to reverse the damage done.

 

Many in the Reconstructionist communities have fled their overbearing Lore-thumping mentality, hoping to find solace in the arms of another tradition or spiritual pathway. Some of these refugees found the succor they sought, others discovered only more disappointment and atop this – lies and empty fantasy. Those who found no peace in the myriad “revealed”, “channeled” and “eclectic” traditions were doomed to wander the foggy roads of dismay and confusion, unable to believe the New Age psychobabble most NeoPagan groups are fond of, and unable to return to Reconstructionism for fear of being mocked for their visions.

 

Either way, our religion lost these bright stars. In the ancient times, those gifted with the Caul or Sight were honored, sent to be trained by the mystery schools and hailed as great intermediaries upon their return. Why then should we thin our ranks and weaken our spirituality by scorning the gifts of the Gods?

 

I am aware, that the Human mind is often vulnerable to fantasy, and am not suggesting that we Recons throw all our hard-won research away and embrace flights of fancy as truth. I am however saying that we must achieve a balance between the two extremes.

 

Our roots are the Lore, History and Folktale and we should never forget the lessons our ancestors teach, whispering through the dust-laden halls of time and tradition. However this does not mean that we cannot listen to our peers, elders and younglings. With discernment and wisdom we can continue to thrive, and our religion can live. Our Gods are not dead, they are not interred in the graves the Christian Church sought to dig for them. Nay, they thrive and prosper! They languish in our bones, sing in our blood and beat in our hearts! They are speaking to us all the time, in the soft whisper of an autumn wind, or the budding of the first flower in spring. Thor’s mighty hammer still flashes above us in the Heavens, and the Jotuns still quake at the sound of his thundering chariot! Shame on those who persecute they who would merely heed the call of their Elder Gods! Let not avarice or envy color our perceptions of these gifted siblings, but rather let us rejoice in the affirmation of our folkway and seek deeper communion with our Shining Ones.

 

So long as we utilize Wisdom and discernment, always being informed and edified by the Lore, we have nothing to lose in fostering the gifts of the Gods.

Amazing Cartoon

Posted in Uncategorized on April 2, 2009 by Harmony041297

Currently I have been speaking with a distant cousin who lives in the Czech Republic and is attending the university at Prague. He has been a fast friend and we have been discussing all manner of things from religion to politics to economics. I discovered he has always acknowledged the Shining Ones, but never really knew how to take his belief into another, deeper level, so I have been helping him on that quest, passing along information, links and anecdotal experience.

 

Today he forwarded me this link to Youtube for a children’s cartoon from the 1980s. It was animated by a Dutch film company and I have never heard of it up until now, so I am assuming it was never an international release. It is charming and tells the Saga of Utgardloki’s battle of majik with Thor, Loki and Tjalfe, Thor’s human servant. The movie is called Valhalla and is presented on Youtube in seven ten minute segments. I encourage everyone to check it out, the animation and story-line is sure to warm any Heathen’s heart.

 

We need more child-oriented myths such as this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfDNBHvI4n4