I want to begin this round by saying some good things about the Frosts. They are warm, friendly, welcoming people. When Yvonne first saw me, she graciously inquired if I was T. Thorn Coyle and gave me a big hug. They have worked to teach their version of the Craft for 40 years and have always been open about their religious beliefs, including when they lived in rural Missouri in the 1970s. The sheriff, police and people at the local diner all knew the Frosts were Witches. For that alone, we can be grateful. They also have passed on sound advice about coven ethics, the consequences of doing negative magic, and sex magic among consenting adults.
I myself am sex positive. You will often hear me quip "I love my religion!" and part of that is the non-transcendent love and reveling in sexuality, good food, dance, music, connection with Nature and all of the other good things that come from embodied spirituality. As a baby Pagan, I had my own trouble with sexual coercion by a teacher but was later taught that sex was sacred and that sex and magic go together where coercion is absent. I was taught that leaders who use their teaching or magic as ways to get sex are suspect. Sex is natural. Sex is holy. Sex should be a joyous coming together and a reflection of the powers of Nature in full fecund swing, and of the processes of God Herself, ever creating, ever changing. There is nothing quite like a holy kiss. Pleasure is a sacrament to be celebrated. And the sacred should never be profaned by lack of consent.
So this is also where the Frosts and I part company. And this is where people start foaming at the mouth and threatening, as AJ Drew unfortunately did, to sacrifice them in effigy. There is still that book, written in 1970, filled with misguided instruction, the most flagrant of which is the ritual deflowering of adolescent girls, by themselves, with full instruction of how to use the sacred phalli... in order to ready them for sexual initiation into the coven. By adults. The pubescent boy goes with the female adult and the pubescent girl goes with a male adult. The Great Rite occurs.
This is not only illegal, it is not OK. There is no way that this does not involve coercion because a 12 or 15 year old simply cannot give real consent to sex with a 30 year old. The power dynamic is too skewed. This is why adults do not have sex with children (unless they are pedophiles, who have a specific mental illness that has wired them wish to do what is not right).
This instruction, to me, is a violation of the sacrality of sex, of the celebration of this glorious part of my connection with Nature.
Do I think the Frosts have sex with children? I doubt it. But as an author, who knows the power of the written word, I wish they would explain. I wish they would retract. The fact that they have not taints their work for me and makes me wonder why they are invited to festivals to teach... And I like the Frosts. Remember, they are gracious, kind, warm, funny, knowledgeable, and apparently dance a mean tango. I am not here to demonize them, but to voice concerns.
Here is my supposition of one way this writing may have come about. I repeat, this is only my fantasy of how this may have happened:
The Frosts rightly saw the sexual repression and hypocrisy of the US in the 50s and the attempts to change that in the late 60s and early 70s. They may have seen that the way children were taught about their bodies, physicality and sex was something that fostered systems of shame and oppression. "What if, as a culture, we taught our children that sex was good, healthy, natural, and sacred?" they may have asked each other. Good questions, and one that many Pagan parents likely ask. Then those Pagan parents likely try to figure out ways to teach their children appropriately.
The Frosts, drawing on some archeological evidence for sacred phalli (I got this from them when I asked about the controversy point blank over dinner one night), came up with the idea for the girl to ritually break her own hymen, by herself, with instruction from the parents. I said that I had trouble with the "children having sex" part of this, and was told it was not sex. As a sometime dildo user, I disagreed.
I was not, at that time, aware that the ritual hymen breaking was preparation for sexual initiation or I would have pressed the point more keenly. Then Gavin kindly gifted me with the book in question, so I could see what the fuss was about myself. Things became more clear.
As a sex positive magical practitioner, the segment on initiation of adolescents was hard to read. As an author and teacher, who tries to act as responsibly as possible, it seemed to be evidence of startling irresponsibility and the promotion of something very wrong.
And I still had a panel to sit on. And I still had to struggle with what my responsibility was. As we all do.
to be continued...