Theodish Thoughts

Musings on Theodism, religion, mythology, history, and contemporary Heathenry

Month: May 2017

Pagan Pedophilia Update

Kenny Klein

We have some updates on Paganism’s Pedophilia Problem.

The diddlin’ fiddler from N’awlins, Pagan community favorite, Wiccan priest, and convicted child pornographer Kenny Klein, was sentenced last week to twenty years. The judge noted, “that you are a renowned artist, teacher and leader — a high priest in the Wiccan community.”

And how did that community respond when the sentencing was in the offing?

Criminal District Judge Byron C. Williams imposed the sentence after first denying Klein’s motion for a new trial. The judge said he had never before received so many letters both in support of and opposed to leniency for a defendant before a sentencing decision.

“Your partner talks about your kindness and others say you don’t pose a threat to society,” Williams said. “But just as many have negative things to say about you, calling you an objectionable human being, and a lot of people contend you are a monster.

It seems that just about half of the Wiccan and neopagan community wanted leniency for this piece of human debris, even after he was convicted of twenty counts of either producing or possessing with intent to distribute, child pornography.

But that’s not all…

In response to the plea deal of Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF) Deputy Regional Druid for North Carolina and organizer of ADF Raven’s Hollow Protogrove, Scott Holbrook, who recently plead no contest to multiple counts of “distributing obscenities” (also involving children, apparently), the ADF issued the following carefully worded statement regarding his status within the ADF:

After careful consideration of the information available and with regard to our current policy concerning Convicted and Registered Sex Offenders, the ADF Mother Grove has unanimously voted to indefinitely ban Scott Holbrook from holding any position of responsibility in ADF locally or nationally.

So one of the largest and most prestigious neopagan organizations in the country lays it out on the line. If you’re guilty of distributing nude photos of children, you’re still welcome at events. You just can’t run them.

First half of the neopagan community rises up for leniency for one of their leaders who is a convicted child pornographer, and then a leading neopagan organization says that one of its leaders who is guilty of distributing nude photos of children.

Scott Holbrook
Neopagans, you have a long way to go before you can dare stand in judgement against the Asatru community for whatever faults you perceive within our ranks. You need to shut the fuck up and deal with the half of your own population who thinks child pornography is a crime that deserves leniency. Even — especially — when it’s one of your own leaders, and that person is well-known within the community for, shall we say, his indiscretions in that direction. And then you need to deal with your most prominent organizations, who are willing to tolerate the presence of people who distribute naked pictures of children, and issue clever statements banning them from “leadership” but not from being events. 

Events where kids are also welcome, it seems.

Calendrical Thoughts – When to celebrate?

Something that has come up in my researches on holidays and calendars and related things is the very practical question of when to celebrate holidays whose customs have been shifted from a traditional pre-Christian date to a Christian calendar date, Saint’s feast, or the like.

One example of recent relevance is the transition from winter to summer.

Historically, our ancestors marked this transition around April 22, in a ritual the Norse called Sumarm├íl (“summer meal”). It lasted three days, was noted for being the time when the “sacrifice for victory” (ON sigrbl├│t) was made. This was also the beginning of the Icelandic month of Harpa, which was the first month of the summer season (the Anglo-Saxons transitioned from winter to summer a month earlier, doubtless due to the different climate in England).

In more modern times, however, we see the folk-calendar transition from winter to summer taking place on May Eve/May Day (and the whole Walpurgisnacht/Hexennacht/etc. complex). This was the final victory of summer over winter, as seen by the custom of teams of youths engaging in mock battles, playing out the final defeat of the forces of winter at the hands of the forces of summer.

So it seems that, when our ancestors moved not only from a Heathen calendar to a Christian one, but also when they then moved from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, the final end of winter/start of summer got moved about eight or nine days later. Bear in mind that we’re not talking about the astronomical or solar calendar; to our ancestors, summer started when the birds returned and the plants began to bud, not when some arbitrary astronomical alignment happened.

This raises two very interesting (to me, anyway) questions.

First, I wonder if the “sacrifice for victory” mentioned in Heimskringla might not be related to those mock battles between winter and summer? I (and I think most of us) have always assumed that it was a reference to a sacrifice to Odin for victory in the coming summer season, in a generic sense. But what if it’s really a reference to a final victory over winter? I think there might be something there.

Perhaps the most important question of all – when do you
turn over the primstav calendar?

Second, on a more practical level, it brings us to the question of when to celebrate the transition from winter to summer? Do we do it closer to April 22, to match the Norse holiday that marks the event, or do we celebrate it on Walpurgisnacht and May Day, because that’s what modern sensibilities tell us to do, and we’ll be celebrating with thousands of others, at least vicariously.

For that matter, do we celebrate it in March, like the Anglo-Saxons? And do you time it around the lunar cycle, or a fixed calendar of some sort? Our Heathen ancestors did both.

I don’t pretend to have an answer. Ultimately, I think this is a question that will need to be answered by each tribe for its own purposes, according to it’s own custom. But I think it’s a decision that should consciously be made, rather than simply going with the modern date. “Because we never thought about it and that’s when everybody else does it” is the worst of all possible reasons for choosing to do something at a given time.

When does reconstructionism end?

By the title of this article I do not mean when does the process of reconstructionism end (which might be an interesting topic in and of itself), but rather when does reconstructionism stop looking for source material? To use a term popular in the SCA*, what is reconstructionist Heathenry’s “period”? In other words, when can or must we stop looking at sources, because they’re too far removed from the Heathen period?

The obvious off-the-cuff answer is “after the conversion to Christianity.” Which is all well and good, but does pose a few problems. The first is that the Germanic nations weren’t converted at the same time. The process was a long one spanning centuries, and every time a barbarian tribe was converted, there seemed to be another Heathen one spring up behind them. So one would have to go place by place and tribe by tribe.

The second problem is that conversion wasn’t an instant process. More often than not, a king or other leader would himself convert, or marry a Christian woman who would pressure him to convert, and this new faith would trickle down to the nobles and eventually to the peasantry. Sometimes this was a peaceful process, and sometimes it was done in an orgy of violence to promote the religion of the Prince of Peace. So the “official” dates of conversion are a misnomer; long after those dates, there would still be thriving Heathen communities and the folk-faith would endure. In many cases, we are told of Heathen “revivals” where the new faith was (temporarily, at least) cast off and the old ways reinstated. So during this “period of dual faith” there is still useful information that can be gleaned, although it is possible that it will be influenced by Christianity.

The third problem is that even purely Christian sources hold much value to those of us attempting to learn more about pre-Christian practices. This could come in the form of penitentials, sermons, Saints’ Lives, histories, and the like that list out (often in great detail) what the Heathens did as a tool for helping Christians avoid such practices. Or, it could be more subtle, in the use of language and terminology that provides insight into pre-Christian religion, because in order to describe Christian concepts, the author had to use Heathen vocabulary, such as we see in the Gothic Bible of Ulfilas, or the Anglo-Saxon poem The Dream of the Rood (which paints Jesus as the leader of a warband, and the Apostles as his thegns, and which itself might be modeled on a now-lost myth of the god Ingve).

The fourth problem is that even long after the people were nominally converted to Christianity, there remained a living undercurrent of pre-Christian remnants, often surviving under a Christian veneer. These can take many forms; popular superstitions, belief in and practices around elves/fairies/hidden folk/brownies/etc., holidays and folk-celebrations, nursery rhymes, dances and songs, and even Saints’ feasts, as we have seen in other articles.

Personally, I’m inclined to cast a wide net when I look for sources, and I don’t see that as in any way against reconstructionist principles.

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* Society for Creative Anachronism

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