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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.
Isaac Bonewits

In defense of Bonewits' work

Since the reddit comments on my blog entry saying that I don't think Isaac Bonewits abused Moria Greyland, this site has been labeled as "supporting abusers."

Over the years I've developed a small reputation for straight talk and honest answers about sex, particularly sex in a pagan context. My two personal carved-in-stone sex rules are consenting adults and you're off limits if you promised to be someone else's "one and only." I believe that those two rules cover most of the sexual issues in American society. I've recently added two more. "Regret does not equal rape." "Acknowledge but not celebrate." These are personal rules, they affect me. I can't impose them on anyone else. But honestly, the first two cover so much of what is wrong with American sexuality that I often use them in discussions to show how messes could have been avoided. If it's not consent, it's not right. Now I could go into the why and wherefore, but that is not really relevant here. I will say that my sex category on this blog doesn't include porn. There are essays on ethical pagan sex and how responsible sex can fit into paganism. I also point out frequently that sex is not love, nudity is not sex, and love isn't nudity.

The site gallery does include nudes. With a couple of exceptions it does not include sexual nudes. And you will not find photos of nude children anywhere on the site. Many of my vintage nudes are classical pieces of art where I point out things that the artist was trying to convey.

I discourage sexual abuse and sexual misunderstanding. I condone truth, I do not condone abuse. Before the accusations against Bonewits, no one questioned that.

I have this habit of pointing out truths, even when they are uncomfortable. Look at the motto of this site. I firmly believe that I am called for veritas.

My introduction to Isaac Bonewits was in Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon. For a seminary dropout with magickal experience but very little formal training, it was eye-opening. His ABCDEF talked about how people were treated. Bonewits didn't focus on the "correct" Deity or if the priesthood/leadership had special "rights" beyond the membership.

Of course Bonewits wasn't the first to focus on how people were treated. But it was the first that I have ever seen that didn't start with a religion-specific context. I wore out my first copy of DDTM because I used to copy that chapter for minister friends when they asked for help. There was no web addy to hand out in those days.

Real Magic wasn't my next purchase, but I did buy it within a year or two. Rural location, a lot of road trips, no real bookstore, no internet, yeah, it took a couple of years. When I started studying, I was hooked. Here were explanations that actually fit in the real world. Bonewits credits Sir James Frazer with isolating the laws, but points out that anthropologists don't acknowledge him. Still, here was a framework where I could hang my own studies. Even when I goofed up and had to backtrack, I never had to throw out Bonewits. His stuff was just too damn useful.

That should be a law. Oh wait, it is. Bonewits calls it the Law of Pragmatum.

Were the Laws of Magic as defined by Bonewits absolute? No. But he allows for that too.

To this day, I've a poster of the laws hanging near the altar in my sanctum.

So here's the question. Now that P.E.I. Bonewits has been "shown" to have questionable character, should his work be forgotten? Should his name never again be mentioned in polite pagan company? Should we conduct a cultural scrubbing and remove any influence that Bonewits might have had?

No. I don't think so.

He was a flawed man. How flawed is still open to discussion. But his contribution to neopaganism and anthropology can't be denied. We can accept the work without accepting his sexual activities. And if his work can't stand on it's own, people will find something else.

I think removing him and his work is very close to what a fundamentalist Christian would do. I don't think the world is either/or, and neither did he. I tell people that if they tell you the choice is black or white, you should go for the fuzzy. Or maybe the minty. Reducing the choice to all or nothing means you probably overlooked some things.

For ourselves, for our understanding, we should keep Bonewits' work.


Comments

Unrealistic standard

“If anything is clearer to me now with this information coming out about Bonewits, there is far more work to be done with dealing with our shadow sides. Our Elders are not saints. I never expected them to be and I refuse to hold them to that unrealistic standard.”
Comments

Journal 12Jan2018

Thinking by blogging

Sympathy is not part of my nature. Fellow-feeling is a gift that I have to work at, so I do. I consider it as restitution for the person I once was.

Read More...
Comments

“As if withholding belief was a moral crime…”

“I have a problem with this assumption "at the moment the general reaction seems to be to disbelieve abuse survivors." I do not find it to be accurate. Mostly because of what group is being examined to provide the baseline for the general reaction, which I've rarely seen explained.

Every time I see this idea come up, it is used as a weapon against those who desire to have an examined and rational discussion without having to say "I believe." as if withholding belief was a moral crime. That idea that there is a culture of disbelief has been weaponized and used to silence those who ask uncomfortable and disquieting questions.”

Comments

Bonewits accused

“Accusations of abuse surface against ADF founder Isaac Bonewits”

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Bonewits update

Where to find out what's happening.

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Good Journey Isaac

A man who truly touched lives

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☥ ✰ ❝Sincerity does not equal competence.❞

Phillip Emmons Isaac BonewitsBefore passing day

Lived 01Oct1949 to 12Aug2010 (61)
American Druid, author, public speaker, liturgist, singer and songwriter


Sincerity does not equal competence
     — Isaac Bonewits
Comments

Absolutely maybe sort of - updated

Now, should I reject Bonewits and all he stood for because he and I didn't agree?

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Special harvest

There's something very renewing about greeting the sun at dawn dressed in nothing but a pendant.

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Really real pagan

According to some members of the Big Three monotheisms, it's a smear word.

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Comments

“A real man…”

A real man loves strong women, whether as lovers or just as friends, because weak ones are boring, often parasitical, and make the worst exes.
     — Isaac Bonewits
Comments

Comments on "Teach Me, My Way"

Juliaki wrote an pretty good piece on teachers and students in the Craft

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Comments

Progressively regressive

A rare political rant on my Pagan blog

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Comments

On Christians and Pagan tolerance

Long, involved, but some good points

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How to be Pagan for a day

An absolutely serious and scholarly discussion on the details of Pagan belief

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Before the Deepest Night - updated

Bone, Heart, Thought, Deed, and Spirit, I choose to honor these people this season

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