On Sunday, Raven Grimassi posted a piece to his blog called “How did it come to this?” wherein he laments the way that Wicca and Paganism have gone over the last 30 years.
You can and should read his original HERE
There are parts of this piece that I agree with, so lets start with those.
He complains about online reviewers that don’t read the book. Well, what can I say. I share your pain here. I have been reviewed by people who bitched about P&R Magic not having anything on shields, when in fact there is a whole section devoted to it. The very first review of The Sorcerers Secrets by Rantboi basically complained that it was not a spellbook, even though it says right on the cover it is not a simple spellbook. That said, for the most part when many people are reviewing your book, the truth comes out and it gets the hearing it deserves.
He moves on to note the lack of support for New Age and Witch Shops. Again I agree with him here. These places are resources that are already being missed. That said, the times are a changing. Shops that survive find ways to be more than just shops where people buy stuff. They hold classes, and they sell stuff, but some are also starting to have candle burning altars like old time conjure shops did, where a client can actually have work done. Some are putting together their own training programs. Some are finding unexploited niche markets that will draw people from miles and miles away. I wish I had the answer to this one, but I don’t.
He also talks about lack of attendance at festivals and people not buying enough mead. Ok man, I got it. Have you heard about the recession? Its a tough one out there. Tough to buy mead when you are having trouble buying food.
So thats all the stuff I agree with. The rest of the article I find myself wondering what the hell he is thinking.
His complaints seem to center on two things: Books and Lineage.
Let’s take books first.
He begins the piece by bemoaning the decline of interest in books on Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, and Magick and claiming that there is a downturn in the publishing of such books. The strange part is while he begins and ends the article complaining about the decline in books on the craft and the occult, the middle of the piece is spent complaining about a marketplace that has been flooded by lineage-lacking authors who apparently do not meet his high standard of quality for the last 30 years. So which is it? You aren’t happy with the flood or books, or you aren’t happy with less books?
It doesn’t really matter because none of what you think is happening is actually happening. The section on New Age and craft books at most Barnes and Noble is larger than ever. There are more publishers for occult books than ever before. What is not available at an Occult Store or a B&N is available at Amazon. Far from a lack of published books, there are more books and better books than ever! Apart from the massive amount of books that are published by publishing houses with traditional distribution, there are vanity presses and POD’s cranking out books that are too niche to have ever seen the light of day in the “good old days” that he years for. Datura Press’s excellent Occult Anthologies of Dolores Ashcroft Nowickies work,Avalonias amazing books on Hekate, Hadean Press, Scarlet Imprint, Xoanon, etc are all fine examples. Apart from those physical books some people make a healthy side business out of selling PDF books. So lack of demand? No. Lack of published materials. No, I think not.
As to the quality of materials, yes there is some dross out there, but there always has been. He complains about books from the 80s, 90′s, and today being filled with whimsical spells and such. Yeah, cuz in the 1960′s and 70′s there was none of that? I remember Parker Press man. I remember Helping Yourself with White Witchcraft, and The Miracle of New Ishtar Power.
But a lot of his quality issues stem from his issues about lineage, so lets jump to that.
Grimassi laments that:
The 1980s introduced a departure from training and experience, along with an abandonment of lineage systems. Self-styled ways, intuitive approaches, and the philosophy of “do whatever feels right” took the place of time-proven and time-honored ways.
What “time-honored” ways exactly is he speaking of exactly? The neolithic goddess lineage that has been practiced in secret until Gerald Gardner blew the lid off it? C’mon. Seriously?
He claims that writers from the 80′s on lack what the lineage traditions offered: ”the understanding of the inner mechanisms that supported the beliefs and practices of our ancestors. This mechanism is sometimes referred to as the inner mysteries or the Mystery Tradition. It is the “why” behind the “how” and the template for understanding and integration. This is what empowers a tradition, and it is what makes practical sense along with the mystical revelation of it all.
Ok. Just so we are clear here, all this is moaning about people under 50 not having trained in ancient lineages is coming from the guy that brought you the book “Crafting A Wiccan Tradition: Creating A Foundation For Your Spiritual Beliefs And Practices.“ The back of the book reads: ”In this comprehensive guide, award-winning author Raven Grimassi shows you how to craft a Wiccan tradition that is imbued with your unique signature.Based upon your core beliefs, you can design a spiritual system that best reflects your personal needs. Choose a patron deity, work with egregores, create a Book of Shadows, conduct rituals to honor gods and goddesses—the possibilities are endless.”.
Are you fucking kidding me?!
You wrote a book about how to craft your own tradition from scratch so that you won’t have to be challenged by any views of beliefs that you do not already agree with. You have encouraged people to create so-called traditions that no one but them belong to, and which are nothing but witchy reflections of their own fantasies and now you have the audacity to complain about lack of lineage!
Sorry. You can’t push Narcissus in the pool and then complain that he is wet!
The thing is that most of the lineages you are talking about were made up anyway. Maybe a few go back over 100 years, but not many. Most originate in the mid 20th century, and these days most pagans I know are pretty comfortable with that fact.
The reality is that during the 50′s, 60′s, and 70′s people were making shit up and pretending it was ancient. This continued through the 80′s but then petered off. Most pagans and Wiccans today have no illusions about unbroken ancient traditions of Wicca. Everyone is over it, well not everyone apparently, but most .
Once you realize that those ancient lineages that people were pushing are not all that ancient, it frees you up to do better work. Serious people are now doing one of two things:
- They are doing hard research into actual pagan practices without filtering it all through the lens of Wicca and coming up with some amazing things that got overlooked. See once you let go of the idea that there is some ancient lineage that holds the keys to the kingdom, you can actually go look at what we know the ancients actually did.
- They are letting go of the idea of something having to be “Witchy” and “Wiccan” and exploring what works in other traditions, some of which actually DO have ancient lineages, and bringing it back to what they do.
Those that manage to bridge the gap between these methods and not to fall into the traps of either being a fundamentalist pagan reconstructionist or shallow eclectic dilletant are doing some amazing things and publishing works that any Witch from the 20th century would have given their best besom for!
He closes on a note of solidarity that is a good one. He writes:
“As Wiccans, Witches, and Pagans, we love our individuality. But we need to understand that this should not separate us from others. We can have unity through diversity. We can belong to a community without losing our self identity. “
Bravo! I agree. But then why all the bitching about people with no lineages?