8. Religion and Government Intertwined Part 3: The Occult

It Wasn't His Fault

It Wasn't His Fault

Belief in the occult is neither fascist nor Libertarian.  My purpose here is to not place disbelief on anybody’s religious or spiritual beliefs, but to bring into question many of the political beliefs expressed by some occult groups.  Quite often belief in the occult goes hand in hand with oppression.  The Treaty of Versailles triggered a renewed nationalism in the German people.  German Rosicrucians reexamined the ancient German myths and ancient runic alphabets to create a revived Teutonic religion that celebrated German history and culture.  Many Nazis came out of these alternative religions, but the religions themselves were not fascist.

The Sixties gave rise to a pagan renaissance in the United States, now called Neo-Paganism.  The mainline and Pentecostal churches’ open support for the Vietnam war and the Nixon Administration gave rise to a matriarchal paganism that was imported from England.  Neo-Paganism became a direct challenge to established religion when a psychotherapist calling herself Starhawk published a book called The Spiral Dance. Starhawk introduced a consensus-driven religion without dogma or hierarchy. This idea proved so popular copycat books were picked up by mainstream publishers.  Starhawk’s Wicca took the country by storm.

Without structure or form, Wicca became another victim of the American religion.  As independent Wiccan covens popped up across the country, people imposed the familiar structures of the American Religion upon it.  Not able to understand the lack of hierarchy, “High Priestesses” become absolute dictators.  Not being able to understand a religion without sin or enforced morality, both concepts are replaced with “The Three Fold Law.” The High Priestess is the absolute judge as to what is and what is not a violation of the “Three Fold Law.”  Starhawk’s Wicca has as great a potential of being a tool of oppression as it does of being a means of liberation.

It only makes sense that Libertarianism would find suitable mates amongst the Neo-Pagans.  Libertarians claim to be about Liberty, but actually protect and defend corporate oppression.  Many Neo-Pagan groups claim to be about liberation actually reinforce the American Religion.  These Libertarian Neo-Pagan groups include rigid conformity and morality, the absolute belief in a mythic history, and a rigid hierarchy.  They pretty much reduce their mother goddess to Jesus Christ in drag.

One such Neo-Pagan group which I have had a chance to observe first hand is Church of all Worlds.  CAW predates Starhawk by a good ten years.  It began around the time that Buckland and Sanders were introducing the idea of Paganism.  It was based on the book Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein.  Starting out as just another sex, drugs, and rock and roll cult of the Sixties, CAW jumped on the Neo-Pagan band wagon after The Spiral Dance.  In the late Seventies they joined in with Karl Hess’s New Left, and now call themselves a “Libertarian Pagan Church”.

Rather than adopt the anarchist consensus-based structure proposed by Starhawk, CAW has a very rigid Freemason-like hierarchy.  They have a rigid morality based on polyamory and group sex.  Unfortunately, it is a morality based on patriarchal male dominance.  Bisexuality is encouraged amongst the female members, but not the males.  Women having sex together is a turn on for many men.  Women also do not have the same rights to turn down sex as men do.  I know several women, some underage, who had been sexually assaulted at CAW events, and it was the CAW women who were most active in protecting the perpetrators.  That is certainly rigid conformity in morality. CAW insist on the literal truth of their matriarchal mythical history, and apply the Three Fold Law as another incarnation of the Protestant Work Ethic.  In other words if something bad happens to you, it was because you disobeyed the High Priestess or did something to piss off the group.

What I find the most interesting about CAW is their insistence that the rest of the world hates them.  They treat the rest of the world as Evangelical Christianoids simply because we are not interested in their version of the true faith.  The fact of the matter is that most of us don’t give a fiddler’s damn who they pray to or who they screw.  Rather than to stand up for their legal rights, CAW members prefer to consider society “evil” and the government the “black empire” and drop out of society.

This dovetails nicely with Libertarian thought, which also sees the government as evil.  Neither Libertarians or CAW members feel any responsibility towards their fellow citizens or the government that is supposed to be representing them.  They see any sort of structure as a threat to their freedoms.  It never occurs to them that they can work to change these structures.  We will go into this in more detail as we examine the protection of corporate power in the next post.

He Should Have Picked a Pretty Girl

He Should Have Picked a Pretty Girl

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17 Comments on “8. Religion and Government Intertwined Part 3: The Occult”

  1. dwilli58 says:

    I’m considered by most of my acquaintances and friends to be a grumpy old man also! Looks like I have found some company.

    This dovetails nicely with Libertarian thought, which also sees the government as evil… They see any sort of structure as a threat to their freedoms. It never occurs to them that they can work to change these structures.

    Although I am not aligned with the CAW, Wiccans or Libertarians, I sense that our government, in its current state, is pretty deceitful, manipulative and corrupt. I also sense that US citizens don’t have any real power to affect change in our government. In truth, I wonder if we ever really did? I care about people and what happens to them, but, like many others, I have withdrawn from the political muck and mire that only seems to get worse every day. Perhaps, I’m wrong? God knows, I’ve been wrong many times before!!

    As Arnold said, I’ll be back! Thanks for the info and giving me some more stuff to consider, I guess;-)

  2. billdunlap says:

    One possible solution is the reestablishment of unions so that all employees can speak with one voice. It worked before.

  3. dwilli58 says:

    Agreed! I come from a middle class family that relied on the unions for job security and fair wages. The unions have just about been destroyed or at least made ineffective. Many young people I talk to think that unions are unnecessary, but I try to convince them otherwise. Anyway, I agree that we need strong unions to protect us from the corporations!

  4. […] 8. Religion and Government Intertwined Part 3: The OccultThe mainline and Pentecostal churches’ open support for the Vietnam war and the Nixon Administration gave rise to a matriarchal paganism that was imported from England. Neo-Paganism became a direct challenge to established religion when … […]

  5. […] 8. Religion and Government Intertwined Part 3: The Occult By billdunlap CAW insist on the literal truth of their matriarchal mythical history, and apply the Three Fold Law as another incarnation of the Protestant Work Ethic. In other words if something bad happens to you, it was because you disobeyed the … Grumblings From A Grumpy Old Man – https://billdunlap.wordpress.com […]

  6. […] 8. Religion and Government Intertwined Part 3: The OccultThe mainline and Pentecostal churches’ open support for the Vietnam war and the Nixon Administration gave rise to a matriarchal paganism that was imported from England. Neo-Paganism became a direct challenge to established religion when … […]

  7. Dragon says:

    Wow, you are quite the angry old man.
    While I disagree with several of your points, I’d like to stick to the facts that I have had a chance to observe first hand. Your concept of the “High Priestess” starts out pretty weird. I too am a student of modern anthropology and group behavior. While I see some of the trends that you describe they seem to be based in half-truths. Sure, there are Priests and Priestesses in all religions who will abuse their perceived authority but I’ve observed that to be much less common within the Wiccan or Neo-Pagan movement than without. The core of “neo-paganism” in all its incarnations can be summed up with one simple phrase: “Thou Art God(dess).” It means that you are your own highest authority, and (much like in the christian faiths) you have a direct personal relationship with the divine. Instead of that divine being embodied by a man who was selflessly crucified, it is embodied in your own heart and soul. Instead of asking WWJD, it is “What Would *I* Do” -if I were listening to my truly enlightened self? Sure that leads some people astray when they listen to the natural human destructive impulses, but the same can be said of other religions. Except, when others can say “God told me to kill the non-believers,” pagans must take personal responsibility for the inspiration behind their actions, for better or worse. “Thou Art God(dess),” not only empowers us by reminding us of the infinite potential that exists with each and every one of us, but also of the responsibility. If we have the power to affect the universe, then we also have a responsibility to effect change for the betterment of the world around us and for the ills that surround us due to inaction. It is true that most neo-pagans are “converts” from the Judao-Christian trinity, and all neo-pagans are acting within a modern (mostly western-european) society. As such they often make the mistake of interpreting their wiccan/pagan practices through this distorted lens. Like you, they instinctively apply a rationalized version of preconceived structure as a way of understanding the unfamiliar. It’s called Schema. In psychology they compare it to not understanding or noticing the bizarrely out of place fire hydrant at the end of a crowded bar. But one of the main teachings of this religion (and any that preaches enlightenment) is to stop and take in every moment for what it truly is and not what it seems to be. While you may point to the exception to the rule where people fail to grasp that ideal, I would point to the Christians who fail to grasp the ideal of Love and Acceptance for all mankind (that IS the reason Christ suffered, to cleanse all sin and establish that we are all equal and loved in the eyes of God).
    It’s really strange what you said about CAW, as your description is roughly 180 degrees from that which I have seen. There was a time in CAW’s history when the founder was ousted and other folk basically ran it into the ground with bizarre politics and questionable expenses. I wonder if your observation came from that time frame. In recent history, they tried (unsuccessfully) to disband CAW and replace it with iCAW. The original founder returned to restore CAW to what it should and could be.
    Your views on sexuality within CAW are perverse to say the least. If anything, it is a Matriarchal group, though I have heard that in the bad times the other folk had become rather hypocritical. Even then, I am aware of one or two women who were at the top of the ladder and pretty much threw their weight around. Then and now, the rare people who act in an untoward manner around children or women (young and old) are dealt with severely and at best ostracized, at worse turned in to the authorities (whom we as a community trust and respect). Could it be possible that the women you perceived as protecting their abusers were doing so because your myopic view of them was incorrectly categorizing them as abused? I don’t know precisely who you met or saw, so I apologize for impugning your observational skills. I qualify my observations by pointing out that I have worked with Rape Trauma Services and know several men and women within the neo-pagan movement whos’ jobs/lives are dedicated to such protective services. My own observation as well as broad statistical surveys (I need to find a specific source, but I’m responding off-the-cuff) have indicated that the instances of sexual abuse or violence within the pagan community is lower (by a couple percent) than that of the average populace in the US. That is not conclusive evidence, but it indicates that polytheists are not more likely to commit such acts than atheists or monotheists. (For the layman, statistics do not prove causality, just the commonality of A when B, or of abuse when pagan. Thus I am not making definitive statements, but the lack of connection is clear.) As for other sexualities, one famous fellow (famous amongst our group) won the prestigious position of Queen even though most of the crowd knew he was cross-dressing. Sexuality is encouraged with the common caveat of “Safe, Sane and Consensual” (the latter being in the very legal sense of requiring an age of 18+). In general all sexualities are accepted, though the core of the religion does teach balance and dichotomy. Sex and Creation are very important in Paganism, but like Creation, Sex is not meant to be practiced by the unprepared. Baby-steps before babies; emotional understanding before sexual connection. You got it right that polyamoury, or multiple loves are openly accepted (maybe even encouraged), but I have seen this more often the case where one woman will have two male lovers, and other combinations being a bit more rare. The most Ironic statement is “What I find the most interesting about CAW is their insistence that the rest of the world hates them.” Need I point out the obvious contempt you display for people who think they are hated? Understand that most modern pagans are mindful of the fact that modern society is dominated by a religion that once burned pagans at the stake and destroyed their writings and teachings. But many of us are aware that once upon a time, Christians were thrown to the lions by Pagans. The universe moves in cycles. While some religions preach “dominance or destruction,” “convert or be damned,” Paganism preaches Balance with the understanding that there are many paths. While Wiccanism and Neo-Paganism attracts the angsty teen crowd, the community as a whole does not suffer from the “everyone hates me” delusion of grandeur. Coming back to CAW again, its hierarchical structure, at its base, refutes the rest of what you have said. I DO see your comparison to the Masons, but I suspect you know even less about them than you do about CAW. Unlike the Masons, advancement is not achieved through some arcane ritual of initiation, but rather through community involvement. At the base we have all those who wish to explore deeper, the seekers. To advance you have to display some understanding of the principles and be involved with your local pagans. To advance further, you need to establish or run a local group. At the next level you need to get involved in the greater community, both pagan and otherwise. Moving on up through regional, and ever expanding spheres of influence. At the top you must have done something to affect or change the national or global paradigm, as the church’s founders can safely claim to have done. All of the chapters are autonomous of and connected through the greater organization, thus allowing microcosmic variances with an overall thematic connection. And, at the middle ranks of CAW, people share the “job” of connecting sub-groups and giving them representation within the greater CAW. There are groups from New Zealand to North England. I believe that the strongest faction of CAW today is in Australia.
    As for your political views, once again I think that your views are slightly distorted. I consider myself Libertarian because I am in favor of less government. This is because everything that government touches seems to go to sh— kaka. I think you’d agree. BUT I think that Libertarianism’s fatal flaw is the total disregard for any government control or group representation. (I am also in favor of unions but against lobbying and groups having more political rights for representation than individuals.) In theory a totally untouched society/economy would allow the “Free Market of Ideas” that the founders hoped for, in which bad ideas would be rejected in favor of good ideas, but in practice it works in the opposite direction. Attractive or self-serving practices rule over “good” or helpful practices. This flaw is shared with the Republican party in their desire for total deregulation. However I see that as marginal compared to the Republican’s greatest flaw: they want no government regulation in their business life, but they want the government to be involved in regulating people in their private, sexual, and religious lives. Orwell wrote plenty on that subject. I need say no more. As for the Dems, on one level, they want the government to take care of everyone and all of our needs. Sure, that sounds great, but then we’d have to trust the government to tell us what’s good for us, and trust bureaucracy to provide it. Bureaucracy is bad enough without regulation, what happens when everything is regulated? Gee, put the Dems and Reps together and you get 1984. It’s a good thing they’re competing against each other. As for the rest of your views on historical religious context, I disagree some and see that your lens is at least consistent. But that goes beyond the scope of my personal experience, and I’m sure I’ve said enough already.

  8. I am not familiar with your writing, Mr. Dunlap, and have never before been to your web site. I was notified of this particular column of yours by CAW. I have been a part of CAW for over 10 years now and when I lived in California, I attended CAW gatherings regularly. The CAW I know bears no resemblance to your description, none whatsoever. BTW, how is it even possible to have “rigid” morality of group sex and polyamory? Do you know what an oxymoron is? Our church doesn’t care what your beliefs, sexuality or political persuasions are. SOME of us believe in and practice group sex and polyamory, but it is definitely not a requirement. It was founded in order to get away from rigid structures. I really have to wonder where you got your information from, as most of it concerning CAW and Neo-Paganism is just plain wrong.
    I am the managing editor and publisher of Green Egg, the CAW’s official journal, which has been in existence for over 40 years and we publish innotivative, thought-provoking articlces. This is a hallmark of CAW, original thinkers creating original ideas and viewpoints; we are a very different group of people – we are a people who hate tyranny and oppression and we actively fight against these evils at most any chance we get, while choosing our battles wisely. No one is forced to do or believe in anything and no one is condemned or prevented from leaving. We are not a cult, we are not Libertarians as a whole, in fact I only know one Libertarian who was ever a part of CAW. There may be more, but it hasn’t been a part of any conversation I’ve ever been in. I have never experienced any sort of hierarchy of men over women; in fact I feel far more respected for my strong independence, at CAW than anywhere else.

    I think you really need to get your facts straight. I would appreciate knowing exactly what your “first-hand experience” with CAW was, as you don’t include that in your article. This is just another ignorant attack on Paganism, as far as I can tell. Please quit printing disinformation about CAW, as you obviously have no idea what we are about. Not in any way.
    Thank you.

  9. billdunlap says:

    I would not boast about being from Green Egg if I were you. I am still waiting for the refund you never sent me from my subscription. You guys were asking for money back when your BoD was heading for Ohio, and then you never gave refunds when you went bankrupt back around 2000. So, any word as to when I can expect my money back?

    BTW, I was Green Egg’s main distributer in Allentown PA back during your hey day in the Eighties.

    You want me to detail my involvment with CAW? I would be glad to. I would be delighted to. Nothing will make me happier. The catch here is that I will make it an expose and my most heavily promoted blog posts. Would you like me to do that?

    Check with Nearly Normal before you ask.

  10. billdunlap says:

    Dragon, I like your comments so much that I am going to break a rule and give you a polite answer. This is a red letter day. You are the first defender of CAW whom I have bothered to be polite to since 2005. Mark it in your calender.

    The weakness in your argument is the same weakness in the Libertarian arguments. Your dependence of personal responsibility remove all structure to defend the rights of the individual. Without such structures in place, you have a chaos where abuse thrives. This is most especially true in CAW where I encountered a paranoid schizophrenic as the head of the children’s ministry, and a ten year old who was used as a fuck toy and kept under control by feeding her meth.

    The lack of stucture to remove these abuses makes CAW the snake nest that I personally experienced. I quite assure you. I have both eyes on you guys every minute, because I’m not letting any of you get behind my back again.

  11. […] 8. Religion and Government Intertwined Part 3: The OccultThe mainline and Pentecostal churches’ open support for the Vietnam war and the Nixon Administration gave rise to a matriarchal paganism that was imported from England. Neo-Paganism became a direct challenge to established religion when … […]

  12. […] 8. Religion and Government Intertwined Part 3: The OccultThe mainline and Pentecostal churches’ open support for the Vietnam war and the Nixon Administration gave rise to a matriarchal paganism that was imported from England. Neo-Paganism became a direct challenge to established religion when … […]

  13. […] 8. Religion and Government Intertwined Part 3: The OccultThe mainline and Pentecostal churches’ open support for the Vietnam war and the Nixon Administration gave rise to a matriarchal paganism that was imported from England. Neo-Paganism became a direct challenge to established religion when … […]

  14. […] 8. Religion and Government Intertwined Part 3: The OccultThe mainline and Pentecostal churches’ open support for the Vietnam war and the Nixon Administration gave rise to a matriarchal paganism that was imported from England. Neo-Paganism became a direct challenge to established religion when … […]

  15. […] 8. Religion and Government Intertwined Part 3: The OccultThe mainline and Pentecostal churches’ open support for the Vietnam war and the Nixon Administration gave rise to a matriarchal paganism that was imported from England. Neo-Paganism became a direct challenge to established religion when … […]

  16. Dear Mr. Dunlap: Back in 2000, when Green Egg went bankrupt, it was bankrupted by people who were “renegade” CAWer’s. They are no longer with CAW any more. I would be most happy to refund whatever money you lost in your subscription, if you can provide me with a receipt or some such evidence of having paid.
    Green Egg was inactive for 7 years, until a year and a half ago when I resurrected it, with the permission of Oberon, the founder of GE.

    With respect to your accusations of child abuse, I have several questions:
    Can you please tell CAW the names and incidents of which you are speaking? If indeed anything untoward has happened we certainly want to get to the root of it. Otherwise, we really have no idea what you are talking about, none of us are aware of anything happening that you describe.
    Secondly, did you report these events to the authorities? If so, surely there is a record of it so that we can investigate. If you didn’t report it, why not?
    I would also add that I’m sure you know that it is neither fair nor responsible to make unsubstantiated statements about anyone or any group as a whole; so I am sure that you have evidence to back it up, no?
    I would be happy if you would please share what you knopw and provide details such as when, where, names, etc. of the alleged perpretrators. Also, please tell us how and when you were involved with CAW. Thank you.

  17. billdunlap says:

    I suppose that this attitude goes with your philosophy of “Thou Art God”. Since you are God/dess things are your responsibility when they go right, and somebody else’s responsibility when things go wrong. Why would I give a rat’s ass who was in charge of Green Egg when the organization stole my money?

    Just how stupid do you think I am? For all I know you’ll take it straight to the abuser.

    Yes I did, and that will be the subject of tomorrow’s blog. Stay tuned everybody. Same Bat time same Bat station.

    Sue me and your lawyer can get everything through discovery. Otherwise, you can kiss my one quarter Haitian kosher ass.

    Such information is being forwarded to Zell. As I have no idea who you are, it is none of your business.


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