Don’t rush to burn Bonewits

When I first became interested in magic, I was 17 and the only book I could find in the library was “Real Magic” written by Isaac Bonewits. While in hindsight it was not what I would end up as believing magic to be, but it fired up my imagination enough for me to start. Decades later I wrote to him and thanked him for that, and he politely replied.

This week Bonewits’ name has been named in a paedophile sex scandal which he cannot fight because he has been dead since 2010. Many of the associations he worked hard to create have rushed to distance themselves from him.

But the people who knew him are bewildered, two of his wives and his son say the allegations are not the man they knew.  But they stopped short of saying the allegations were made up.

Why?

Because in this case the victim is extremely credible and what she says is so terrible.

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s daughter, Moira Greyland made the allegations, and her previous tellings of the story put her own father, Walter Breen, in jail. I do not doubt that Greyland is telling the truth about the systematic abuse by her Breen and her mother, Marion Zimmer Bradley.

In these circumstances, no one wants to victim shaming the accuser. However what people are not keen to understand is that because someone is a good witness to a terrible crime does not make them automatically credible for all her accusations.

I cannot help but feel that people have rushed a little too quickly to burn Bonewits on her allegations. When I was a tabloid journalist, I was taught that there needed to be enough evidence for the story to stand up in court.

In this case, there is not.

Bonewits lived in the basement of another writer Diana Paxson while he was writing Real Magic. Paxson was friends with Greyland’s parents, co-wrote books with Bradley.

However, that is the only confirmable fact in Greyland’s story, the rest is shakey and uncohoborated.

Paxson did not recall a time when Greyland’s family and Bonewits were at her house at the same time. Of course, this did not mean it did not happen, but it was the only period where Greyland and Bonewits could have shared the same scene.

Other facts become are even more difficult to quantify.  Greyland refuses to provide any details of the abuse because it is a side issue to her main story. Some would say this is because the events were alleged to happen when Greyland was six, but equally, there might be something else happening here.

Bonewits is introduced to the story as a “Pagan Pope “which seems an odd thing for a six-year-old to understand. At that stage of Bonewits’ life, before the publication of his book, Bonewits was hardly recognisable on the esoteric scene.  While he later became a “pagan pope” for some pagans, Greyland’s perception of him being a “Pagan Pope” is something she must have understood much later, long after any alleged abuse.

So what other perceptions did Greyland have after the event?  Reading her book, you see that she slowly comes to reject and hate the lax left-wing hippy lifestyle which she identified with her parents and abusers.  Writing in this blog   she says:

“What they did to me is a matter of unfortunate public record: suffice to say that both parents wanted me to be gay and were horrified at my being female…. I have begun to speak out against gay marriage, and in doing so, I have alienated most of even my strongest supporters. After all, they need to see my parents as wacky sex criminals, not as homosexuals following their deeply held ethical positions and trying to create a utopia according to a rather silly fantasy.”

Is it any wonder that Greyland’s book is published by the alt-right figurehead Vox Day. This is exactly the sort of story that the Christian right wants out there with a spokesperson who no-one will dare question.  After all who on the left would dare question the memory of a six-year-old victim of child abuse who had the bravery to come forward?

No one appears keen to defend Bonewits because they will be seen as a defender of paedophiles and have to say that Greyland made everything up.

I don’t believe that Greyland made everything up, but I am equally unsure that her Bonewits allegations are valid.  The Christian alt-right might be rather keen to knife another “pagan pope,” as Greyland might be, as part of her anger against the leftie family and its surrounding pagan society which created her parents and resulted in her abuse.  Bonewits is a good target, he is dead, can’t sue, can be linked to Greyland and is still a pagan community icon.

The same people who point the finger at Bonewits are doing so with the same level of spectral evidence seen at the Salaam witch trials. What is worrying is how quickly the pagan community rushed to pretend that a person who had dedicated his life to forming their organisations had nothing to do with them.  If it were true, then that would be fair enough, but there has to be enough proof before you turn on people and in this case simply isn’t.

Who are the winners of this sad story?  The Christian alt-right members who have convinced the pagan community to burn one of its own founders at the stake on rather weak evidence come to mind. Some have already pointed out that they believe that Greyland is being used.

Polythesit.com writer River Devora wrote, “It’s heartbreaking and enraging because the part about the abuse is genuine […] She’s been taken in by alt right folks (a very long time ago, I might add), who have exploited her story and her trauma for their own political reasons, and that part is despicable.”

All this generates enough “reasonable doubt” in my mind to say the following:

I do not have enough evidence at this point to say that Bonewits sexually abused Moira Greyland in 1970, and I don’t think anyone else has either. Unless new information comes forward, I will not be rushing to distance myself from my first Real Magic book.

 

Vepar the demon spirit of Augustus’s tenth

http://littledoomwitch.tumblr.com/post/63686939185/demon-a-day-vepar-vepar-duke-color-green

How useful are the spirit lists for identifying what each spirit does?  Where they are given descriptions, they are often at odds and we are left with trying to find references to the limited amounts of symbolism we are given. What I found was that some of this symbolism might be a little obscure.

Vepar is a demonic spirit whose name means “Boar.” Yet the spirit lists describe him appearing as a mermaid who is a “guide of the waters” and in charge of shipping weapons and infecting wounds. What does that have to do with a boar? How does infecting wounds, so they kill people in three days become part of the remit for a spirit who guides troop ships?

It is a little more possible to flesh out details when you apply decan meanings (particularly the GD ones which would give you Saturn in Taurus) but this is artificial and probably off track.  The symbols do give us some clues and might point at the spirit’s source.

Searching for Vepar, I came across one source which I had not thought of. Roman Legion unit names and symbols. These unit symbols were often packed with symbols for many different reasons.

One of my researches though down the Vepar symbolism found the Legio X Fretensis (“Tenth Legion of the Strait”) was a legion of the Imperial Roman army. It got its name from a battle it won in the Strait of Messina although it also was part of the fleet that won the Battle of Actium.

This Roman legion had the symbols of the bull, a ship, the god Neptune, and a boar. The Bull might be because the unit was formed when the sun was in Taurus or because it was a symbol of Venus (who was Augustus’s family spirit).

Either way, we have the full set – sea, troop ship, boar, Taurus, and Venus. It also was part of the army which destroyed Jerusalem.  It garrisoned the city for at least 200 years afterwards.  It might be that the spirit lists had somehow demonised the Roman legion which helped destroy the “holy city” and because a symbol of a pagan boot on the throat of Jews and Christians living in the area.  When Legio X Fretensis and the other Roman legions celebrated their victory they did so for three days, according to Josephus.