Thursday, May 22, 2014

Follw up email to the FPG board

Readers of this blog may or may not find this subject tiresome, but I feel that what we are seeing is an example of a changing of the guard. The old way of doing business in the Pagan community doesn't work anymore. Holding one's leaders accountable is always an important thing.

to: Ann Marie Augustino,;“Medea",

from: Edward G Rickey,

Re: Future FPG changes


I hope this email finds you well. Upon reflection on the events of Beltaine 2014, it has occurred to me that in all the discussions, the future path of FPG was never made clear to anyone either in announcements, in social media or at the infamous Round Table discussion. I believe there are a few very important questions that never got answered. If you will indulge me, I'd like to ask them.

1. Has the Board made a decision on the future of the Frosts being granted headline status, given workshop space and/or being allowed to vend at future FPG's?

2. If the answer to question #1 is Yes, then what is the decision?

3. If the answer to question #1 is No, then when can the community expect such a decision?

4. Given the insistence that the First Amendment is a guiding principle at FPG, how does the Board explain its multiple removals of posts to it's Facebook page and further discouragement of public discussion on social media, instead requesting private emails?

5. Is the Board prepared to make any substantive changes to the existing policy on harassment?

6. Is the Board prepared to make substantive changes to how it ensures the safety of children in Kid's Realm, or in The Forge?

7. What training and policies has the Board put in place screening facilitators of Kid's Realm and the Forge?

8. Does the Board keep a log of any persons who have violated the No Means No rules? Has the Board reached out to any other festivals to compare notes and ferret out serial offenders?

9. Do the Board members exercise their own individual discretion regarding ejection and/or banning, or are other members consulted? Is there an objective standard for determining punishment?

10. Does the Board have any policies on false accusations?

11. There was a statement made by a board member at the Round Table, claiming every attendee was screened for sexual offender status/predator status prior to the event. That was either mistaken or misleading – I registered on-site and no background was done or could have been done on me. Is there a policy of background checks on day-of-event attendees?

12. What other background checks does the board do on attendees? What sort of background would disqualify a person from attending?

I appreciate your consideration of this list, I know it is long, but I think these are important questions.

Further, I'd like to add that since I have failed to get a reply in the past to my emails, I'll be posting this email to my blog site: Not to put you on the spot, but it has been my experience that emails “disappear”. If you are agreeable to it, I can post an unedited reply to the blog as well.

It is my hope that a healthy dialogue, in keeping with the spirit of the First Amendment, can help us to make a better FPG in the future. As I said a the Round Table, we are co-creators of this event. It is my hope that we can remain co-creators through an informative discussion.


Edward G Rickey

Monday, May 12, 2014

Upcoming workshop

OK party peeps, a general announcement:

I will be teaching a workshop at the upcoming retreat The Morrigan's Call at the Temenos Retreat Center in Western Massachusetts the weekend of June 6-8. I do believe the Retreat is sold out, which is awesome for a first time. It's being put on by my SuperFriend Stephanie Woodfield. She has writings too, so check her stuff out. Everyone should have a friend like her, but you can't have mine. Go find your own Stephanie.

My workshop will be called The Warrior Mindset and it will be composed of two parts: Making Warriors and The Warrior Ethos. It may help all you non-warriors understand what goes into making special people extra special.

Beyond Temenos, I had planned to re-do my old workshop on Quantum Magic harking back to my physics days at university and research labs, but sadly I won't be attending FPG anytime in the future. If you have any confusion, read earli8er blog entries.

I might offer it for Phoenix Phyre, but even if I don't I plan on attending PP in Samhain 2014. Come check out the Camp at the End of the Internet if you're there. Bring Burbon, specifically the Devil's Cut.

I hear the land spirits really like it too.

There is a small event in Miami run by EMLC called Turning Tides that I plan on attending in December, and I may offer a workshop there too. Most likely Warrior Mindset as that I've done QM there before. Unless the crowd really wants something different.

Finally these are bluiesky propositions. First, I've been kicking around an idea for a book, Pagan Ethics, not that crap like When, Why, If.. by Robin Wood or Rabinovich and MacDonald's An Ye Harm None, equally garbage IMO. My proposal would be to write a historical survey of actual ethics and morality from pre-JudeoChristian and non-JudeoChristian societies. This would form the basis of a modern Pagan ethical system. I'm allowing about two years in research and development.

Second there is the possibility of an event coming up that I'm helping to organize. It could be really cool. Not saying too much...

Wish me luck.

The view from the locomotive in the train wreck, part 2

So in our last discussion I related the events that took place at the 2014 Beltaine FPG round table, post Ken Klein and post Gavin and Yvonne Frost. I have to correct one factual error: I stated that all headliners save one were pro-Frost. I was incorrect. One other headliner was not in attendance, and I cannot speak for his/her opinion on the Frost issue.

The story still continues as of this writing. In private discussions, I've been told TEG is now claiming that the Frosts may yet come back to FPG, TEG will not consider looking at other orgnaizations who have had great success in dealing with these problems (e.g. the Boy Scouts, sci-fi conventions, etc), and have no plan to put forth any changes to the “policy” that is already in place. Further, they are retracting claims made in the past that Camp La Llanada had any hand in the Frosts not coming, and that choice was made by the Frosts themselves.

I take this as a total line of BS.

The tactical considerations

Lets lay out some basic information. FPG was founded about 20 years ago as Freedom Fest, a vehicle to pay Roger Coleman's legal bills after his legal battle with the City of Palm Bay. I spoke with Roger a few years back, and he explained to me that the City had tried to use zoning to cite him and his coven. The patttern showed a clear intent to intimidate as each citation ran out only a week before the next sabbat. The legal battle worked its way thought the federal courts system, and as Roger explains it, the appelate level below the Supreme Court had found for Iron Oak. The city wanted to pursue it but their lawyers advised against it. Roger was broke, and the two parties settled.
The fire FPG was born in was one of First Amendment battles, and religious freedom. It was no surprise that the tactic used was to frame this as a first amendment fight against some rabble rousers who were just scared about Ken Klein. What FPG refuses to realize is that there are real monsters under the bed.

The second consideration is what we can say of Big Name Pagans who sign on to this idea. These folks couldn't care a bit about a first amendment battle, they are driven by book sales. One real standout who has not publically stated anything negatively towards the Frosts or towards the “rabble”, called for a stepping back, a calm and reassessment. I wish I could give a name, but as per the rules I can't out this individual if they don't first. I can say I'd never met him/her before, and have to remark how impressed I was. This individual truly deserves the title “Elder” if we ever gave one. The rest just parroted the party line – defend the Frosts, even if to a one they roundly describe the GWB as garbage and not worth the paper it's printed on.

Why? Because if it could happen to the Frosts, they reason, it could happen to them.

Now ignoring the fact that each one takes every opportunity to clarify they are offering information for historic value only; that they offer alternatives to objectionable historic practice like blood sacrifice and hallucinogenic plant use - one could make a myopic argument that there is some risk, and the only protection they had was a tolerant and protective community.

But it was all these very safeguards in publishing that we were ever asking the Frosts to use. And we'd hoped the Frosts would too. Oddly, as I write this, the Frosts are considering a rewrite of the GWB, and soliciting help.

The problem of downlines

The Frosts have a substantial downline, folks initiated by them or their initiates, into their particular brand of Wicca. It has been suggested in this conversation between PfC and TEG that the sins of the Frosts might visit their downline students. If the Frosts themselves don't clean up Ch 4, then this leaves a huge burden on those left behind when they die or stop writing.

This really isn't the kind of inheritance anybody wants.

I think one of the most valuable things to come out of this whole row was the urgency it brought to the downline problem. I can't speak about the Frosts' policies regarding initiations, but if they're anything like the Gardenarians (and I am OC Gard, Long Island line), I can tell you questioning or changing any craft information is strictly forbidden. I doubt anyone wants to be the one to confront their Craft founders publicly, so spurring the Frosts to do SOMETHING might come out for the good.
Assuming they don't double down. You see, for them its a business. Their courses average $100-$200,and any controversy that drives people to them will pay eventually, law of averages proving someone will sign up.

And I think that's why they really never touched Ch 4. In a private conversation, I spoke with someone who asked the Frosts about Ch 4 directly. They reportedly were diffident, saying the publisher made them put in a disclainer, but they didn't see anything wrong with it. If you were getting a steady stream of students every ten years or so when Ch4 issues came up, I doubt you'd do anything to change it. But whty address it now?

Gavin was born in 1930, which makes him about 84 years old. His health isn't that good, based upon seeing him at FPG last year. I imagine they've done the math: he's probably got a hand full of years left, and the mounting pressure from the community has probably convinced them they aren't going to milk that cow much longer. Might be time to put it out to pasture and think carefully about their legacy.

Of course, they could be planning to do it as a show of feigned sympathy to public opinion. I'll take that.

The future and the problem of Miasma

In the run up to the RT, I took on the task of reaching out to some different folks – devotional polytheists.

Since I was the only dev-poly actively representing myself and PfC, I took on the task of reaching out to Kenaz Filian. I did a bit of research on him – he'd been calling for more of the tactics that seemed to work. Contacting campsites directly to make FPG functionally homeless until or unless they made real policy changes. My exchanges with him were very cordial. He shared a lot of my concerns, and in preparation to contact Galina Krasskova, I happened upon a series of conversations between them that she published on her blog.

The subject was Miasma.

Miasma is a generational curse, which afflicts the community when the law of or respect for the Gods is not honored. It's quintessential examples are from Greek mythology as the House of Atreus where Atreus fed the ground up bodies of his brother's children to him, or the House of Oedopus where his father King Laius defies the Oracle at Delphi's prophecy that his son would kill his father and marry his mother. Laius attempts infanticide, Oedupus commits fratricide, and Antigone who attempts to preserve the law of the Gods in a speedy burial of her brother and defies Theban law. The theme of miasma permiates the Theban cycle.

In each case, defying the Divine Law brings or reinforces miasma.

Krasskoiva and Filian seem to they agree that the Pagan community is suffering a miasma. Klein and the Frosts are really only symptoms of a greater problem. That is this: Impiety. They treat the Gods at best as if they are not real. Archetypes, ideas, imaginary things to be dismissed or change faces of as it suits the whims of the participants. They are fairy tales, this “all Gods are one God” business has reduced them to dolls in a toy box to be played with and discarded.

At worst, the coarseness of invoking a God to give you a blessing for free, the ubiquitous “I sometimes work with n.” shows that they are not treated as GODS, but a vending machine to give out sex tips, winning lottery numbers or better jobs.

And to me, that is the acme of impiety.

When you call out to Freya, the Daghda, and Baron Samedi, as FPG did in their main ritual at Samhain 2013, do you not expect them to appear? Were I one of the group above, I'd turn to the Baron and let him run roughshod all over that event. And that friends, is what He did.

The funny thing about miasma is that there are a few ways to treat it. Simply put:

Get the hell out of Dodge. Probably the single most effective way to avoid the plague of miasma is to leave the area and people of its influence.

Make sacrifices to the Gods. You should be doing this already, to ensure a good relationship between yourself and Them or Those you are close to.

Kill or ritually sacrifice the source of the miasma. Not literally of course, but one could shun, silence, or ostracize the carriers of the plague until they make amends to the Ones they have offended.

Honor the Gods. And do what they say.

Do I think that's what will work? Brothers and sisters, that's the only thing that will work. You have to set aside this idea that They aren't real – when you call to Them, They appear. When you honor Them, They bless you. It would be better you never knew Their names and be completely ignorant than to be a wanna-Blessed Be and be shooting off at the mouth to Gods and Powers you don't even believe in.

Either that modern Pagans need to repair the rift, or prepare to reap the hurricane.

Ken Klein is the first one CAUGHT, I guarantee there are more pervs and molesters and creeps out there. Its funny, a few of the speakers at the RT commented that they'd known Klein and felt he was a creeper, but that the Frosts were not. I'd argue with them, why didn't they report it then? Why sit on their hands and do nothing until after the fact, and then join the chorus denouncing him, while then Frosts continue to peddle Ch 4?

Miasma. A contagious condition that screws your judgement. A curse that blinds you, and then justifies your blindness. And those who call it out, like poor Antigone, are doomed by YOUR miasma.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The view from the locomotive in the train wreck.


So it's all over but the body count, and just now the Muggle Media is starting to take notice. Good, party's over. Nothing to see here.

In the whole row about the Frosts, I was in the thick of it. Helping to craft the Resolution, responding to the trolls, and and keeping on message. But something really surprised me about the way the bulk of the FPGers responded. Not the BoD, not the PfC, but the large swaths of attendees. It was either silent, or mildly annoyed. Some were violently abusive about us “killing the festival” and “airing our dirty laundry”. But it's those silent masses that confuse me, and make me stop to think.

I take it for granted that we all have a moral compass, and that if I show a reasonable person something so unarguably wrong like the Frosts' Chapter 4 of the Good Witch's Bible, they will draw the reasonable conclusion. Stuff like this has no place in our religion, or any other. Their insistence on standing up for it means they are not welcome to teach in our polite society.

But why be silent?

I believe a lot of it has to do with Muggle life. You see, I happened upon a quote from Aldous Huxley that made me think.

Paraphrasing: The rational man struggles with modern life, because it is so counter to the way human beings evolved and lived for millions of years. Too much changes too quickly. Beauty and truth are replaced with convenience and comfort. Meaning falls away in the noise and rush of our lives, and any same person would quickly develop neuroses over it. Adjustment is impossible, only a desperate keeping-up. Only the truly sick and depraved, who have no defined mental archetecture, are suited to “adjust” to modern life.

And honestly, I think that's what the Pagan movement offers so many people who come to it. It offers the opportunity to disconnect from their tortuous “keeping-up” and be pretty wild and least for a short time. The prospect of Pagan festivals is just that, general abandoning of the Muggle values and problems for a few days.


I wrote that right after the Camp became involved in the conflict, and decreed to FPG the Frosts would not be in attendance. I thought it was over, it wasn't. I thought I understood the position of people involved, I didn't.

The backstory

I use the terms FPG to describe the festival itself, TEG (Temple of Earth Gathering) to describe the legal company/church/non-profit that runs the festival, and the BoD (Board of Directors) who oversees FPG. Also PfC (Pagans for Change) is the group that crafted the Joint Resolution (JR) to the BoD asking that the Frosts not teach, vend or be called headliners or elders at FPG. Ch 4 is the fourth chapter of The Witches Bible, renamed the Good Witches Bible.

I have to give a little backstory: I was part of PfC, and still am. What I write in my blog I do as myself, my words are much stronger out of my own mouth. But I think its important to make the distinction.

The JR can be found at the Facebook page, do a Google search “Joint Resolution to the FPG Board”. At no point did it say the Frosts should be banned from FPG, simply that until or unless they make a full unambiguous retraction of Ch 4. They were welcome to attend as guests, even as guests of the Founder of FPG, as FPG's public response to the JR stated. The only request was they not teach workshops, vend or be referred to as headliners or Elders.

If you've been following the issue, you know FPG said no, at which point over 250 people had signed on to the JR. The next step was to organize a boycott. We would not attend if the terms of the JR were not met, and would encourage others not to a well. Then someone contacted Camp La Llanada, the host, via Twitter and claimed that Fpg was hosting pedophiles. And the camp stepped in. They spoke with TEG, TEG spoke with the Frosts and the Frosts weren't coming.

The fight online was nasty, many layers of people calling each other names and many calling for calm. But it all kinda quieted down because TEG offered something

FPG decided to host a round table discussion.

The festival

It rained. A lot. All festival. I had to move part of my camp as it was under 3” of water until we made offerings to the Sidhe of the land. Then it was just annoying, but my camp space never flooded again.

The air was thick with tension. Veiled comments about “the trouble”. When I met with friends who were part of PfC, and privately told me they'd been talking with staff who were friends. Those staffers were told not to interact with us, very specifically. Something was brewing.

The night before, I made my sacrifices and renewed the vows I'd made on Samhain at that very spot. Later I was given a very clear message by a trance prophetess: No mercy.

And when the Morrigan tasks you, you do it.

The Round Table

It started ten minutes late. Announcements were made; the rules were no recording, no electronica, each speaker would have 90 seconds, and a talking stick was to be passed around by a staffer. No personal insults, you could report about what was said on media, but not use names in the interest of privacy.

But first the Founder Himself was going to speak. As long as he wished. And he did, for nearly 15 minutes.

He told how FPG got started in his legal battle with the city of Palm Bay. He framed the whole discussion as one on a backdrop of the first amendment. And that got loud praise.

The moderator made more announcements, asked for a grounding meditation and then opened the floor. Two women complained for 5 min a piece about cabins their disability and sharing showers with attendees. At which point I and another person were shouting points of order. I demanded to know since we were 40 min into a scheduled 1 hour meeting, if they were actually going to enforce the 90 sec rule. They assured me they would, and they would go over if needed.

Then the fireworks started.

I am supposedly restricted from naming names, unless they decide to represent themselves somewhere. The headliners, all but one, came out pro-Frost.

Their whole argument came down to two points:
1. This was a first amendment issue. Regardless of what they wrote the stood behind their right to teach and publish.
2. This was a Witch hunt based on fear, and who would be next? A writer who'd written or done something that could be interpreted as salacious?

Aaron Lietch was by far the most confrontational pro-Frost. On his blog he detailed his Four Points, but I will tell you from being there, his retelling is a lot milder and more coherent than it actually was.

To paraphrase:
1. He was mad that some internet troll had hijacked his name and claimed he was opposed to the Frosts. He did not clarify who it was, but implied it was someone either sympathetic to or on the JR.
2. He claimed to have known the Frosts personally, and felt they represented no threat.
3. He believed it was a Witch Hunt and that he or anyone there could be next.
4. He accused anyone of doing this sort of thing was “not Pagan”. He did not clarify that he meant anything about spreading rumors or lies, as he later claims on his blog. The understanding I got was anyone attached to the JR.

And then I laughed at him. When he finished he was looking directly at me as he said “not Pagan”. Irony tickled me...You see my wife and I contributed to his eye surgery that saved his sight. And to use that sight to cast insults wily-nily around the room was, well, the height of irony.

More speakers echoed the witch hunt or the 1st amendment. I listened to a man who claimed to be a soldier and police officer imply that if he caught an actual pedophile he “couldn't tell you what would happen to them in the back of the squad car”. Then after implying he'd beat a pedophile, he assured us he knew the Frosts were no pedophiles.

I got the talking stick shortly afterwards. 90 seconds is not a long time. I said the following things.
-My name is Edward G Rickey and I was one who helped craft the JR
-To anyone who thinks they can defend chapter 4 of the GWB, there is something wrong with you.
-To the point of whether this issue is the cause of Kenny Klein, and that this is anger about him, I say a little bit. Klein taught us that a culture of sweeping things under the rug doesn't work anymore
-This isn't really a discussion about the Frosts either. This is really a conversation between attendees and a board of directors hat has repeatedly ignored us and censored us. This board is both unresponsive and irresponsible.
-We are co-creators of FPG, we give our time and money to make it happen. We have no choice but to withold money and support if FPG refuses to do the right things. We don't want that. Read the JR.

And that was it. My 90 seconds was up. Part of it was people yelling at me after I told them there was something wrong.

Another man stood up. He said he travels the festival circuit, and this is no longer a local problem, but a National one. He told us, either we can solve it here, or the greater Pagan community will solve it for us, and we won't like the results.

Finally some other PfC folks got to speak. More measured but still on message. Roundly they were ignored.

The Founder got the last ten minutes to reiterate what he said before, and close the meeting.

My take:

A farce. Like Aaron said, this is coming from someone who was actually there. The meeting was an opportunity to close ranks around TEG, but it showed some serious flaws.

First, there are folks who want to turn this in to some argument of freedom of speech, but no one questioned the “censorship” the camp used.

Secondly, the Big Name Pagans tipped their hand by making the Witch Hunt argument. The concern was that the same kind of mob that they saw come after the Frosts would come after them for something they wrote or did. One man who claimed to be a clinician discussed fear, but the real fear is that you had a community who was angry at lack of leadership. It seemed to them the pitchforks and torches were out and the peasants were revolting. It never seemed to occur that there was a reason to riot.

Third, to the Pagan community, there are places where the leaders don't care about you. FPG is a big venue, and this means book sales, vending, and power. And when you have a group asking legitimate questions of standards, the reaction is to accuse of a Witch Hunt. I think in all this we know who has real standards and who does not. Who is motivated by truth and a sense of community and who just thinks of it as a playground or a party and a venue to sell goods and services or a chance to be a Little Caesar.

Make your choices Pagan nation. I made mine.

Next post I want to explore what's really all behind this, what is psychologically and spiritually the basis of this whole problem and how we go forward to treat it.