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.