Thursday, 6 May 2021
Tuesday, 27 April 2021
Sunday, 11 April 2021
Forestheart - https://www.facebook.com/forestheart.art/
Mill Forge - http://www.millforge.co.uk/PILLARS IV – (Vol.2, Issue.1) – ‘Circling the Compass’
In April of 2021 a member posted a series of questions in a Facebook group that raised many interesting responses. Unfortunately the posts and the comments were eventually deleted. Fortunately I had kept rough notes of my own responses and contributions to the discussion. I have therefore been able to rewrite my own thoughts and these I now share. I do so in the hope that they will provoke some consideration by the reader. Ask what relevance these questions have to you? Ask yourself, 'How would I have answered?'
What has been the influence of Alex Sanders on contemporary Paganism?
Alex Sanders is one of the most controversial and influential figures of the twentieth century, within Witchcraft and the Occult. He has been so influential that one of the main branches of Wicca/Witchcraft has taken his name. He has influenced the lives and works of many since his highpoint of activity and not just the famous Farrars; who have in turn influenced many others since.
One cannot deny that he had some traits that are best described today as embarrassing. He was without doubt a showman and his claims regards his childhood initiation, cannot be taken seriously in anyway whatsoever. Sadly there are still a few around today who attempt to impress with these ridiculous 'Granny stories' but back in the twentieth century, such stories were ubiquitous.
Despite all of this, his name lives on in the tradition that carries his name and in the lives of those down the line from him. That in my opinion, is a major achievement.
Is there an expectation that new seekers or members of a specific tradition, be familiar with the names of the founders or elders?
In my opinion, yes there is. You do not join an initiatory tradition without some awareness of its history and heritage. It is not a requirement to sit a history exam but some understanding as to where people fit within a general time frame is to be expected.
One would not join the OTO and be ignorant of Crowley, one would not join the Theosophical Society and not know the name Helen Blavatsky, one would not join the Fraternity of the Inner Light and be ignorant of Dion Fortune (Violet Firth).
In posting this question, the member also asked if Sanders and Gardner were false Messiahs. Unfortunately there was no explanation as to what was meant by 'false Messiah' or even by 'Messiah' in this context. It is regrettable that no further clarification was forthcoming. However, all Christians know who their Messiah is. So yes, I would expect a new seeker to know the names; if not necessarily the complete biographical details.
Would Paganism exist today were it not for Alex Sanders and Gerald Gardner?
Possibly but not in the way we see it now. Some of the 'Paganisms' that we have today, stem from the occult revival of the late Victorian period. Not just the Golden Dawn but the Pre-Raphaelites, Freemasonry, the Theosophical Society and various Folklore studies. The revivals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had many streams flowing into them.
Sanders, Gardner, the less well known but equally important Ross Nichols, were all a major influence in moving Paganism away from the more 'ceremonial magic' origins of the movement. By doing so they have made Paganism more accessible to the public, primarily through their writings but also the writings of those of the next generation.