In the next chapter, that gets a whole post to itself, Alex Mar unveils the primer version of Wiccan history and more specifically, Gerald Gardner.
Now, just for a second we’re going to look at this like every piece of information presented is true. It’s not the information I have a problem with (at least not entirely), it’s Mar’s defense of it and there are some holes. Let’s start with the opening…
“…I first had to go back in time about sixty-five years, to England and the beginnings of Wicca, the Craft religion that sparked the Pagan movement.” I’m sorry, what? The Craft in question here came long before Wicca, centuries before, and while it may have sparked the time period’s current fascination with witchcraft, it was not the Big Bang for all of Paganism that some people try and sell it off as. So that sentence should really read “…I first had to go back in time about sixty-five years, to England and the beginnings of Wicca.” That’s it.
Her focus on defending Gerald Gardener and Wicca is heavy handed. We get subtle lines of “And whatever your opinion of Wicca, Gardner was able to construct the ultimate occult legacy- a quantifiable, practicable version of the “Old Religion”.” That’s cute, considering she also brings up Gardner taste for fame and marketing. Following a paragraph about the coven Gardner had started and the intrigue that surrounded it, Alex Mar writes “Gerald ate up the publicity. In many ways a product of his era, he viewed himself as a great explorer and gifted interpreter of lost and exotic cultures.” And no one who falls in love with the limelight ever dramatizes anything, right? So with that in mind, my question for Mar is, what is your end goal here? If it is simply to write about Gardner and his religion, then your bias masks that as it becomes this sort of blind rally to show your acceptance of whatever is presented to you. If it is to bring credibility to Wicca, then you may have wanted to spin the publicity thing a different way, because what credibility can people have if they will do anything for attention, for fame, for their own grandiose sense of being? Never mind your own personal discovery, “While Gerald passed these practices off as ‘ancient’, I quickly discovered that many were clear riffs on existing sources, while others very likely sprang entirely from Gerald’s brain.”
With all this out in the open, I find it strange that Mar would finish this chapter with “He was the perfect voice for the misunderstood and self-educated “perverts” of England, the guerrilla heirs to the Freemasons.” The emphasis of that word seems strange to me, did everyone really want that to be the first thing Gardner said in his book? It makes for great shock value though, doesn’t it? Then there’s Mar’s summary of Gardner and how he was a good choice for the “movement”. Was he really? Even looking at this from today’s subcultural elite, how often do we find the ones who look the part the most are the least knowledgeable? I find it strange that for someone delving into the world of witchcraft, one brief account of its history would satisfy their curiosity. Surely the people Mar encounters later in her story would round out this idea of Wicca and the many branches of witchcraft itself. Surely, right?
Chapter Three was a hard chapter to get through and to find out my inward screaming intensifies take a moment to follow this blog by joining “The Strange Collective” at the top of this page. For things that are cute AND strange (I know together in one place, how is it possible?) follow me on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and now Twitter. Stop by the store, The Dream Lounge, where stock only gets weirder every day..
Until next time,
Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.
Zakkarrii Edison Daniels