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Peacock Dreams

Clay Feet part 3

Clay Feet part 3

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Clay Feet part 3

The Frosts are old school. In a few ways, they remind me of Victor Anderson. And even though people may disagree with their take on it, they have a deep love of the Craft. Gavin also has a strong anti-Christian bias which comes out in the podcast, and I overheard Yvonne talking of "that dirty Gregory" meaning Pope Gregory of Gregorian calendar fame. You know, the one many of us currently use. They also don't seem to like to explain themselves. Victor was this way too, never wanting to tell whether he got this idea from Margaret Murray or that one from his own spiritual explorations. We had to figure it out on our own, or take everything at his word. He was also a trickster teacher. I don't know if the Frosts are or not, as I have not studied them very well.

There is also the outsider status they seem to promulgate. In the podcast, you will hear Yvonne speak of "locking our shields" though I am not sure against what or whom. I can respect this, given where they have come from and the trials they must have faced over the years. I also don't think it is the reality most of us live with these days, as Paganism has become one of the fastest growing religions in the US and Australia and even Christians are marketing videotapes with breathing exercises. We may still be discriminated against, but in many other ways, the culture war has been won.

All of this maundering is simply me trying to put together the complex picture of these people who have taught thousands and remained on the very fringes of Paganism for all these years because so many just don't want to deal with them. Some people no longer even know who they are, yet others go to hear them speak at festivals. The only reason I am writing about them now was I happened to be at a festival with them and then decided to invite them onto the panel.

I am struggling with the Frosts. Struggling because it would be too easy to do as others have which is to demonize them or relegate them to the "sweet old couple." They are something far more varied than either of these. Some people want to sweep them under a rug, but I do not think they should be ignored.

Why? We need to figure out our theolog(ies). We need to know where we stand on sex. Many of us would still rather just suppress it like the overculture teaches us, because abuse may happen otherwise, or we may need to deal with our own demons. I say that abuse happens because of the suppression. Our demons grow stronger the more we constrict around our fears. Abuse happens when we don't deal with our own sexuality, and we don't teach our children about their own. And abuse sometimes just happens. And if nothing else, we end up prey to the media that uses degraded sexuality to attempt to coerce us into buying more things out of insecurity. And we are made to feel badly about our glorious bodies because we do not have airbrushed thighs and six-pack abs.

Many of us would rather just suppress sex in favor of the cleaned up phrase of "life force" because we don't want to deal with our own complex emotions around pleasure, and sexual wounding, and emotional pain, and vulnerability and the very real, potent power that tapping into love, lust, sex and life force brings. Sex is not just genital pleasure, but it is not just the trees rooting into earth, either. It is all of this, and more. Our orgasms sing along with the stars in the sky. We are all part of the processes of creation, destruction, and rebuilding.

If sex is sacred, we need to figure out how that translates and is reflected in our own lives, and in how we pass on that teaching.

And this is why, Gavin and Yvonne, as two people who have taught many others, I wish you would explain. Or I wish you would retract. Or I wish you would apologize. We could use discerning words from you instead of simply a shut down or blustering defense, or the insistence that those who disagree with you are "plastic".

Gavin, when you brought up AJ Drew on the panel, you said you stand by what you wrote 30 years ago, and this troubles me as much as his plan to ritually sacrifice your images did. It is why I mumbled a sleep-deprived non-sequitur about consent in there somewhere - because I had no desire to derail the panel into an off topic shouting match about sexual ethics. Though come to think of it, that might have been entertaining. But shouting matches are not what I'm about. I would rather engage in dialog. But I do not know if you are interested. Are you? I asked you two about your controversial nature over dinner because I was hoping to hear something in your own words, but felt like things got a bit cagey. So I'll ask a couple more questions now:

What do you really think, today, about the sexual education of children? Is sex between adolescents with adults really the best way they should learn these mysteries? How did you teach your own daughter to appreciate the powers of sex, love, and Nature?

I know what I hope your answers are. I hope you will say that those words written almost 40 years ago were a thought experiment that you have since rethought. That children should be taught their bodies are sacred, should be talked with about sexuality, pleasure, and reproduction in various age appropriate ways, and then left to sexual exploration with others of their own age group, with parents around to answer still more questions when the time does arrive. Oh, and that heterosexuality is not the only sacred option.

And how about the rest of my readers? What do you think about your own relationship to sex? To magic? To life force? To our process? To mistakes? To feet of clay? To your own regrets? To the sacred? To teaching our children?

Thanks for bearing with me, and reading to the end of this long, three part post. We need to embrace the challenges that face us. There is, as always, a lot more that could and perhaps should, be said. There is a lot of conversation to be had about leadership, holding teachers accountable, and about sex, theology, and training in general. Hopefully we have a long time to help each other figure some of it out.

Blessed be.

[late edit: I should mention that recent editions of this book now have a brief introduction to the chapter in question in which it is stated: "No formal initiation into a group that practices the great rite should be done before the candidate attains the age of eighteen." However, as an author myself, I feel that a thorough explanation of why they would have included initiatory instructions for pubescent youths in their book in the first place would have been merited. Or, as an author, I would have stricken these pages from later editions of my book. To have done neither feels less than responsible to their students and readers. My apologies for not mentioning this before, but because of the layout of the book, I completely missed this brief introduction upon first reading.]
  • I look forward to hearing this podcast. I'm sure it'll be provacative - and I mean that in the best way.

    Sex is something I'm working on very intently these days. It sounds odd, but but it's true. Something is working itself out in me. *I* am working myself out in me. I am coming to realize that my intellectual understanding of sex is far more open and flexible than my fetch and body are about sex.

    But I also think about my young son. My little son who is so happy, so ready to explore, so purely Black Heart. How to encourage him to be a whole person - which includes being a sexual creature? The only way I and my partner can see to do this is to model sexually healthy expression ourselves. Not have sex in front of him, but by being sexually happy and whole ourselves, and open to discussion perhaps we can show him (rather than just tell him) that whole, healthy, happy sexuality is possible. And then he'll have to find his own way - but we'll always be behind him if he needs us.
  • Underage sex is illegal for a reason

    As a scientist I had better be able to explain myself. I would be laughed out of the lab/meetings/international conferences if I could not. Not being able to explain yourself means that there IS NO hypothesis/theory/reason/logic/thinking/analysis. The Frosts clearly have no valid reason for advocating abuse of children, for that is what it is and no more.

    To respond to your request about beliefs, mine is that that you have written in your paragraph '...children should be taught their bodies are sacred, should be talked with about sexuality, pleasure, and reproduction in various age appropriate ways, and then left to sexual exploration with others of their own age group, with parents around to answer still more questions when the time does arrive. Oh, and that heterosexuality is not the only sacred option.'

    Sex and magic and sex magic is sooo much greater when the people involved actually have a relationship and even, dare I say it, love each other.

    Thorn, keep up the amazing work you are doing. Your honest responses and comments are touching and eloquent. Know that this Pagan supports you on matters of keeping underage sex illegal; it is for a bloody good reason. ('Underage' here meaning not able to make the decision to be consensual.)

    Oh yeh isn't underage sex for the gratification of old men the reason why the FBI have problems with some christian cults?

    Bright blessings,
    Melanie S
  • I'm going to work on answering your questions, but I want to pop an opinion/question in here first.

    That children should be taught their bodies are sacred, should be talked with about sexuality, pleasure, and reproduction in various age appropriate ways, and then left to sexual exploration with others of their own age group, with parents around to answer still more questions when the time does arrive.

    I completely agree with the above as long as "left to sexual exploration with others" doesn't mean stuck in a room together and told to explore. I seriously don't think that's what you meant, but someone may. (The more time I spend online, the more I'm sure someone will!)

    Anyway, my question is whether any child who is taught as above can fail to immediately understand that heterosexuality is not the only sacred option? I think my opinion is inherent in the question. If we're not loading children up with our own sexual taboos, it's going to be obvious to them that to be touched by a girl feels as simply delicious as to be touched by a boy. But I'm assuming you didn't write that because you thought it needed to be said, but to counter the Frosts' teachings. Nonetheless, those are my quick, first-read-through thoughts.
    • (Anonymous)
      I'm so happy you are addressing this stuff in a real live compassionate way. We just celebrated one of our young ones at festival who had her first moon blood. These rites of passage should be celebrated by the community (of women and girls in this example) and in our tribe, at least, for us and for her family this is also a rite of passage for us to pursue the marking of this time for her. All women involved bestowed upon her information, blessings and stories. We clued her in to choices she will face, including choices of gender, gender of partners and sexual expression. I believe the adults in a child's life should be supportive of their development. A child should be free to discover his or her own sexuality, and should be protected from the cruel, shaming, and exploitative forces surrounding us all.
    • (no subject) - yezida - Expand
  • (no subject) -
    • the text makes it sound like intercourse, since the adolescent girl is recommended to get an IUD. They also talk briefly about two adults performing sex together to educate the youngsters who are watching, if need be.
  • One more question and then I'll go away until i have some answers. :)

    How many of us have been reading the news, appalled by the Catholic church's protection of its priests, even while we're convincing ourselves that the Frosts and Oberon Zell are only theoretically involved in the sexualization of children?

    (It's been several years now, but I have heard Oberon defend the position that opposite-sex adults should sexually train adolescents.)
  • Well done Thorn, while i do not really have anything to say as i am still pondering what you have written, i commendyou for having had the courage, and integrity to be this honest and open and, *takes breath* you have done so with diplomacy and intelligence.. well done Thorn well cone

  • Nice job of teasing out the issues. I agree, I wish they would clarify.

    Sex is one of the main areas where most pagans are counter-cultural, to one extent or another, but this particular bit of taboo-breaking is not constructive.

    Re "The Frosts, drawing on some archeological evidence for sacred phalli …": I remember reading somewhere that pre-nuptial ritual "defloration" with a special phallic implement was practiced by the (upper class?) Romans during some part of their history. Unfortunately, I don't recall the source of this, so it could have been pure speculation. Even if not, this was a slave-owning culture where women and children were property, so it brings up the old question of just how much of the culture we want to dig up along with the Gods. In general, "the ancients did it" is a justification we have to apply with great care!
  • (Anonymous)
    I appreciate your writing about this. I wast at that panel and have been at other events where they have been invited to speak. Yes, they are warm, articulate, funny, outrageous and just by bing "out for so long, have paved some paths for those that follow.

    Early in my craft life, my teacher addressed the Frosts and so I had read that material and could never really understand why they are i nvited to "teach" at a Festival like this. Is someone not aware of their complete body of work? Anyway, yes, it would be nice to hear what they have to say about it now. I like your questions and I wonder how they would respond.

    Yes, our children, and their sexuality is sacred. Yes, we have a huge responsibility to help them develop healthy attitudes and practices, AND to protect them from those who would tarnish the sacredness of it all. I also wouldnt leave that kind of instruction to any priest of the craft, no matter what his practice, published works, longevity, accomplishments, or whatever are.

    By the way, thank you for all that you contributed to that weekend at FPG. Loved your workshop, your singing, your moderating...all of it. AND heard good noews today that we would be seeing you again!!
  • (Anonymous)
    Wow, I remember that entire controversy and I was only 11 or 12 when the height of it all hit. They were talked about on the more pertinent news shows of the day. I can say that those interviews and reports actually have had an effect on me throughout my entire pagan leanings and now solid pagan experiences through the years. Ritual Sacred Sex without consent? I was just beginning to explore what has become my path. To read and hear that this could be required of me if I continued on that road colored so much of my views on sex for the first time and what experiences I might have. Still gives me shudders.

    I think it comes down to not only plain old wrong to put any adolescent through that even if they are Pagan children..our children are still after all children that can be traumatized no matter how openly they are raised, but also the thought that the energy we work with in ritual is NOT the energy that was worked with in the Middle Ages or earlier. We live now, not then. Our children live in a world that is completely different. The energy needed for any work is not the same. It doesn't require any help like it did hundreds of years ago, because our children are exposed to much much more and are quite aware of what their bodies will do and most of the time what they want it to do. Does that mean they can make that momentous of a decision at the age of 14 or 15..no it does not. Adults have life experience to help them make decisions. Children or young adults, do not.

    You've managed to push one of my righteous ethical hot buttons on this one. The emotions tangle the logic. I too am curious what their answers might be after all of these years. Being the Scorpion I am, my memory runs long and deep, so whatever is said will have to be a complete 180.

    I see a few Kala sessions on this matter in my future. This brings back some memories of why I have confusion and walls built. Man was I impressionable at that age, which brings us back around to the original question of why and is it still going on?

    PS Christian bashing is not appropriate at any time. If I don't want to be bashed for being Pagan why the heck would I find it acceptable to bash anyone else for their spiritual viewpoints even if I don't agree with how they handle those viewpoints?
  • (Anonymous)
    Thank you for asking the hard questions.....both of the Frosts and of us. Questions that need to be articulated so we, as Pagans, can work out our values (instead of making assumptions).

    I wanted to comment on something you said: "Many of us would rather just suppress sex in favor of the cleaned up phrase of "life force" because we don't want to deal with our own complex emotions around pleasure, and sexual wounding, and emotional pain, and vulnerability and the very real, potent power that tapping into love, lust, sex and life force brings."

    Choosing the phrase "life force" isn't always about suppressing sex. Sometimes it can be an exhaustion from the kind of focus the over-culture places on it's view of sex. Sometimes it's because the place of sex in our lives is absent (due to disability, age or circumstances). Sometimes it feels that focusing on sex instead of life-force......is looking in the wrong direction. But none of these things necessarily mean suppression. Not automatically.

    Because we are all different folks.

    Now it's important/vital, if/when choosing a "life-force" focus to be sensitive NOT to suppress the focus/choices of others. Of course. Given.

    But this is a smaller thing inside the larger issues brought up in your post. Coercion...... and taking care of Our Children (because they are all our children).....and how to grow our next generation. Living by our Pagan Values.......and what to do about teacher(s) when a segment of what they teach is offensive/wrong/illegal.

    • It isn't always, you are right, but I have had cases where the person was trying to avoid their own sexuality by using the term life force. I tend to use the terms interchangeably.
  • (Anonymous)
    And I'm hoping that the larger community will be able to hear the Frost's response. - Helen/Hawk
  • I thank you for having the amazing ability to bring this up and confront it, yet be kind at the same time. It's an impressive feat, and things like this need to be discussed.

    Like almost everyone, my own opinions on many many things have changed as I have grown older. Maybe the Frosts are the same? But it seems strange to me that they would give you the book to "explain" if their opinions on the matter has changed.

    It is common for people to grow more rigid in their thinking as they get older, and it's also common for people who are feeling very defensive to become only more solid in their stance; even if they have personal doubts, they feel unable to admit and examine those doubts because that would be "losing." Maybe this is the case with the Frosts?
  • I can't say I agree with your view on all counts (regarding sex, not the Frosts, which I will leave out of this post entirely).
    When I was a teenager, I decided that I would like to have intercourse for the first time with an adult who knew what he was doing, rather than with a pimply boy who would push me to do what he wanted. Unfortunately, all the adult males that I would have chosen at the time (who were all in their late 20s or early 30s) weren`t playing, so this never happened and I ended up having hideous sex that I wouldn`t wish on my worst enemy with another 18 year old who was even more clueless than I. Now of course I didn't walk up to any adult and demand sex, but my shy come ons were ignored by them (which I suppose makes them nice people in a way).
    So no, I don't think teenagers should necessarily have sex with other teenagers, and from what I can see now, a lot of disrespect is invoveld in teenagers having sex with each other.
    I wasn't looking for a partner, I was looking for a teacher. And a student-teacher relationship is always lopsided, but is still consensual. And you can end up with a teacher who is actually bad for you or abuses your relationship. There is no guarantee of safety anywhere.
    There was no magic or ritual stuff involved in this, but thus is a problem all of us face when we come to that passage.
  • I am glad to see this discussion happening. And I applaud you for bringing in forward in such a balanced and compassionate way. And I don't know quite what to say about the Frosts, whom I have met. I haven't read their book, though the relevant passages have been shown to me in a few paragraphs.

    There is often coercion present in rites of passage, though in the modern era it is frequently less overt. Also, in an effective rite of passage, the new initiate is changed, without possibility of going back, in ways that said new initiate was in no way able to imagine, beforehand.

    I agree that sex is different, but I am at a loss to explain exactly why and how.

    In a long and happy life I have never seen a "best practice" around the sexual initiation of the young. Today I'm aware of knowing at least one 40+year-old virgin ... who has become careful how she reveals her status as she has at least once become the target of some less-than-compassionate practical jokes as a result of incautious disclosure.

    I'm also aware of knowing several people whose initial act of genital sex was marred by some element of mismatch -- they were in it for True Love and their seducer was in it for Scoring Points, or they felt fumble-fingered and their beloved was a person of much experience. Or mismatches of age and power, of course. I also know several folks who were victims of sexual abuse as children, who regard their experiences at the hands of adult predators in a completely different way from their first experiences of consensual, age-appropriate sex.

    In my own case, I found "sexual exploration with others of my own age group" to be singularly unsatisfying. Or, rather, I found the "explorations" delightful and informative, but I found my first act of genital sex should have been with someone who had any idea what the @#$ he was doing. Likely his experience was similarly uncomfortable, as I had no earthly clue either. We were "in love," we had engaged in a whole lot of necking and snuggling and a little bit of petting, we had some textbook clinical ideas of what was supposed to happen next ... and it was awful. Clumsy, painful, unsatisfying, messy, embarrassing. In a year of practice we never arrived at as much satisfaction as masturbation, for either of us.

    Looking back at that period of my life, I see that there were opportunities I might have taken in which I might have had a first experience with someone just a few years older (22 to my 16 was probably the biggest age difference), but I wasn't ready to do that yet. I also see that I might have chosen an even less appropriate first lover than I did.

    Jean Auel's description (in Clan of the Cave Bear or a later book in the same series) of "red-foot women" for young men to follow and choose, and of the oldest woman of the clan choosing a young man to deflower the young woman ... while I could wish for greater sexual equality, I can see value in the notion that people of good character and known sexual competence might be identified at some festival as "sexual initiators of choice" so that the young who felt ready would have a pre-selected field to choose from. I particularly see the value of having a well-crafted first experience with someone who would NOT be part of one's future life.

    And, I want to emphasize, I see many problems with the notion that two virgins should pledge themselves to a life together before having sex together for the first time.

    On the other hand, I think there are important dangers in allowing any adult to self-select as the initiator of a particular adolescent. The chances that such a decision could be made with appropriate lack of self-interest seem vanishingly small. On this ground alone I would be inclined to disqualify the program outlined in the paragraphs I read from the Frosts book.

    So ... no answers, only questions. (sigh).

    Thanks for starting this discussion.
    • I'm intrigued by the posts (I've heard a fair bit about the Frosts over the years and been more than a little horrified by those oft-cited paragraphs). Thank you, Thorn, for your thoughtful and detailed response to all of this.

      I'm also intrigued by the ensuing discussion in the comments, though I'm a bit surprised by how many people seem to be against one's first sexual experience being with a peer. My own first sexual experience (in my early twenties) was with an older fellow with plenty of experience, and ... let's just say it wasn't that great. I think it's not the age of the person that's important, it's their attitude toward you that matters.

      From talking to my friends, I have a hunch that the first time one has partnered sex is almost guaranteed to be mediocre at best. It's like the first time you play tennis or pick up a guitar or do anything else enjoyable that requires a modicum of skill. Frankly, I think our society does a serious disservice to people by putting so much emphasis on The First Time (tm). It gets over-romanticized and way way too big a deal is made of it, to the point that it's easy to make stupid choices around it.

      Hmm, I feel a longer post brewing, and shall hie myself hence to my own LJ for it. :)
    • (no subject) - shi_rawi_wittem - Expand
  • Blast from the past

    When I was FO of COG the 1992 Grand Council sent them a letter of reprimand on this very issue. If you know anything about consensus politics and the permissiveness of COG, that's saying something. So it's not as if the Frosts are *listening*. Dialogue is a two-way street.
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