Monday, May 12, 2014

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.

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