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ChristopherBlackwell Post number 25152 Posted: 19th November 2018     Subject: More on the subjec tthat just will not go away
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Amy Hale
Anthropologist and writer specializing in the occult, the esoteric and other liminal people, places, and things.
Nov 18
On Paganism, Fakelore, and Tired Conversations about Authenticity

I am currently attending the American Academy of Religion conference, which is the largest conference of scholars of religion in the world. I’m a pretty active member of the organization, but primarily I serve as the Co-Chair of the Contemporary Pagan Studies Unit. Right now there is a lot of conversation among Religious Studies scholars about the staggeringly huge problem of sexual abuse and trauma in religious communities. Scandals are exploding in sects and churches all over the world, and deep and entrenched histories of abuse are being uncovered. Some receive more press than others, but it appears to be a nearly ubiquitous phenomenon. We are all desperately and keenly aware of the impact of trauma at grand scale that is being wrought.

I recently had a read of Sarah Anne Lawless’ provocative essay “For Sale: Neopaganism ‘As Is’”. The first thing I want to say, without equivocation, is that many of her central concerns about sexual abuse and abuses of power within Pagan culture are right on the money and they need to be addressed. There is a deep and unsettling history of sexual abuse and generally uncomfortable sexual conduct in Pagan religious communities and in Pagan culture generally. It needs to stop. I would even venture to say that despite the fact that this sort of abuse does appear to happen in all sorts of religious communities across the globe, the history of alternative sexual mores within Contemporary Paganism has perhaps brought a greater percentage of bad actors and predators into the Pagan community than we find elsewhere. Pagans need to generate zero tolerance around this. Additionally, Paganism has a terrible history of ego driven leadership and cult like behavior which also needs to end. This pattern of leadership drives dynamics that are genuinely unhealthy and which encourage financial, emotional, and sexual dependencies. I have been involved in the Pagan community for over 30 years and I have witnessed and even been a victim of these behaviors and have seen the destructive impact these sorts of behaviors have on individuals and groups. I think many of us are in total agreement that there needs to be reform on a large scale regarding these issues. This may result in cultural changes that some people will resist. There are and have been arguments that any push toward reforming Pagan approaches to sex and sexuality will result in the degradation of uniquely Pagan values and identities. Yet if people are being harmed, and they are, things need to change. On a lighter aside, I am also 100% with Lawless on the cult of the medieval in Pagan culture, which I think is problematic, alienating and just needs to go the way of the dinosaurs. But neither of these points are the response to her essay that I want to make.

The problem with Lawless’ essay, despite the valuable arguments at the heart of it, is that it is undercut with historical and analytical inaccuracies. Lawless has a tendency to paint with an overly broad brush, and her unsubstantiated claims do not help her overall arguments. There are a number of problematic assertions in this piece which I will not address. For instance, Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing can defend themselves regarding how and what they publish, and the history of their company. I want to focus very specifically on how Lawless uses ideas about culture, folklore, and religious studies to try to delegitimize Paganism as a religion, even going so far as to adopt conventions of academic “authority” to frame her argument. Lawless makes claims about what she believes are the defining criteria of religion designed to undermine the validity of modern Paganism, but her arguments are simply not correct from an academic perspective, and they do not reflect how people who actually study religion understand religion. Also, she uses a term, “fakelore” that has its roots in the field of folkloristics where it has inspired a lot of critique and discussion as a concept since it was coined nearly 70 years ago. Given that these topics form a central plank of Lawless’ arguments about the legitimacy of Paganism as a religion, they should be addressed so as to not detract from her other important critiques. I want to address my concerns point by point.

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Wisdom is what is left after you have done all the dumb stuff
Morgana Post number 25156 Posted: 20th November 2018     Subject:
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Have you got the link to Sarah Lawless's latest blog which Amy is referring to?
Morgana Post number 25157 Posted: 20th November 2018     Subject:
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Oh I found it
http://sarahannelawless ... vtnaYHmkL7NU
ChristopherBlackwell Post number 25158 Posted: 20th November 2018     Subject: Meanwhile here is the last post I got directly about her
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online shop. ... e=943a430bf2

Shop Updates

You may have noticed my Medicinal Nightshades website is down. I have been dealing with serious attacks on my shop as well as personal harassment for the whole month of October due to coming forward about the sexual abuse I experienced in my pagan community. First I lost my credit card processor due to one malicious report, then I received a polite letter from Health Canada informing me that someone reported my business. Then, just after I finished responding to Health Canada, I received a shop termination notice from Shopify. I sorted things out with Health Canada. I now have it directly from them that I can't sell my products within Canada, period. Sorry folks. I'll work harder on finishing my e-books on how to make medicinal nightshade ointments so people can at least have the option of making them for personal use.

I lost my e-commerce host and as a natural health product manufacturer, not a lot of hosts consider my business worth the risk. They won't even take on cosmetics! So to avoid this issue and avoid people making malicious reports again I have moved my online shop to my personal website. I've included a link below. You can browse the shop now, but my nightshade products are out of stock as my partner and I are still making new batches of nightshade ointments (aka flying ointments).

Bane Folk Apothecary:

sarahannelawless. com/shop/
Nightshades Restock Date:

Nov. 14th @ 9 am EST

The current recipes of Artemisia and Datura ointment were made with plants from my own garden. I am very excited to offer you all the first batch of datura salve made with the datura inoxia plants I grew this year. A lot of work went into it: from germinating seeds, thinning seedlings, and planting in the garden to watering, pest control, harvesting, cleaning, drying, and then the medicine making. It feels pretty good!

Datura Ointment is my best recipe for bone and joint pain whether it is from a sprain or break or from chronic condition like arthritis and Lyme. The salve contains simply datura seed and balsam poplar bud-infused sunflower oil and high quality beeswax. It is provides natural pain relief for even severe pain and is also anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, anti-anxiety, sedative (sleep aid), and aphrodisiac (in higher doses).

You’ll also have some pretty fantastic dreams if you use it as a sleep aid. This batch made with my own plants will be available in the new online shop this Wednesday along with my other nightshade ointments and flower essences.

Wisdom is what is left after you have done all the dumb stuff
Jay Brafeha Post number 25199 Posted: 2nd December 2018     Subject: I'm not sure I agree on this one
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I read the Lawless article, and I'm not sure that I agree with "On Paganism, Fakelore, and Tired Conversations about Authenticity"... or more accurately, I agree with all the points made in "Tired Conversations", but I think it's fundamentally based on a misreading of Lawless (but I'm not familiar with Lawless' work as a whole, so I'm interested in other thoughts).

When I read Lawless' article, I did not hear "Paganism should only be about what is pure and authentic". What I heard is: all of our traditions are relatively modern and to some extent made-up, so let's stop fighting each other and fix our problems -- don't keep leaning on an idea of "ancient tradition" as a crutch.

"Tired Conversations" actually touched on a point that I think both she and Lawless may agree on: anthropologists aren't interested in prescribing what a religion is; they don't care how old it is, or ask questions about whether the religion is "real". They only care about what the practitioners of the religion actually do and believe. I actually think Lawless is making the same point: i.e., it shouldn't matter whether someone was initiated by their grandmother and has a "long lineage", or picked up a copy of the big blue book of witchcraft and started practicing for the first time with their best buds; both should be accepted into the community as Wiccans/witches.

Honestly, I've had to deal with a lot of the stigma of my own "authenticity" -- when I was first introduced to Wicca, I was initiated into an eclectic circle. We didn't claim any special lineage, although our high priestess and priest were much older than I was and had been practicing for a couple of decades. But we didn't openly call ourselves "Wiccan" to avoid provoking offense, because that was reserved for the Gardnerians and Alexandrians. Then I came back to the community 12 years later to find some argument around "Wiccanate" where at least one article I read was accusing us of not calling ourselves Wiccan because we thought we were too "special" for that... ?

(Quick clarification: I'm not trying to open up that can of worms. [Razz] And if you need to understand my own stance, I think "Wiccanate" is a useful term to describe a large number of traditions that have their origins in (or borrow heavily from) specific British Isles initiatory belief systems. It's like saying "Abrahamic religion". I also understand how people may have other perspectives on this.

Rather, it's an illustration of how the question of "authenticity" -- whether I was even allowed to call myself a Wiccan, or not call myself Wiccan, has played at least a partial role in my political experience of the pagan community. I think both Lawless and the author of "Tired Conversations" agree that "authenticity" used in this way is harmful to the community.

As another aside: no, I'm not looking to call myself Wiccan at this point. I have moved on in my spiritual path. [Very happy])
ChristopherBlackwell Post number 25204 Posted: 3rd December 2018     Subject: Witch wars, and witchier than thou
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Having practiced Alexandrian Wicca for almost 34 years I am well aware of our love of argument and who is a proper Wiccan, not to mention Witch Wars forever.
Gardnerians and Alexandrians are rather heavy into that as well. Frankly I would ask does it work. If it does than it is Wiccan and likely magic as well.

All the stories of all the religions were invented at sometime, ceremony, and tradition were invented, and changed overtime. Most religions borrowed good ideas from other religions. More than just trade goods came from the trade routes, and that included ideas of all kinds.

As for opening up a can of worms, if that happens, it will no matter how careful you were about what you said. Some people have this great need to be offended and damn it, they are going to be offended, no matter what you say, or don't say.

I am an old Geezer of 73, but I have made a point to remember what each stage of life felt like, and that includes as a young man and the games old men would play on me. That is why I remember it, so hope fully I don't do that myself as an old geezer. [Grin]

Wisdom is what is left after you have done all the dumb stuff
Morgana Post number 25207 Posted: 3rd December 2018     Subject:
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A sort of PS...
While I was in Canada - Alder Lyncurium posted this on Tumblr- in response to the Sarah Lawless blog

Sex is NOT a requirement for initiation into Gardnerian Craft. Period.
With that ‘too-long-didn’t read’ header I might have said it all — or nothing. I know I might be opening a can of worms — or maybe addressing the elephant in the room. But before I go into it, let me clarify two key points:

The above DOES NOT equal: ‘Abuse/predatory behaviour does not happen in Gardnerian Craft’. We are not going to pull the typical ‘Oh well, if he did that, then he never reaaally was a *true* Gardnerian’. (Very) unfortunately, it does happen — and we have to own that.
There IS a place in Gardnerian Craft for sex. If you have read enough about the Cult, you probably have a slight idea. But there is a place, a context, and a form for it. More below.
Now, let’s cut to the chase. I recently came across with Sarah Anne Lawless’ articles on abuse in the community and Neopaganism (they also led me to Greer’s article). If you have read them, you can I guess how I felt: devastated.
If you have read them you will probably assume that I felt really attacked, and that this entire post is just a #NotAllCovens. No BS in this article…Of course I felt attacked for the first 2 seconds — when one holds something very dear (even sacred) and someone else portrays it in a different way that one has experience it, this is meant to happen.
After those 2 seconds, and probably due to my involvement on consent culture (and probably as well to my corporate growth mindset) I switched to ‘What can I do? ’: ‘Should I clarify it? ’

(Read on... )
http://alderlyncurium.t ... fsjhWnbVyM5A
ChristopherBlackwell Post number 25210 Posted: 4th December 2018     Subject: Good article
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He touched on all the important parts. Each of us is part of where the traditions are now, and part of the question where do we want them to go next. We must provide what protection we can to those likely to be in danger from users, and includes giving them support when they need it.


Wisdom is what is left after you have done all the dumb stuff
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