Why is it that people in the Pagan Community feel such an overwhelming need to “pad their résumés”, so to speak? This seems to be especially true of certain authors, notably those connected with a rather large, well-known publishing firm noted for its “fluff-bunny” approach to Wicca.
I was surfing various sites the other day, and decided to look at sites of people that I personally know. One of them, one of the afore-referenced authors, claims to have been running a coven at a time that I personally know they were not an initiate. How do I know this? At the time in question, they had recently been a student in our coven, and had just begun studies with another coven in the same area. Another author, previously published by the same firm, claimed to have been a member of our coven — and they had never been affiliated with us at all.
Another Pagan author, early in their career, made what could be construed as claims to British nobility, although that claim has been been dropped.
Another author revises their books frequently to update the dates of their “end time” prophecies (most of which still haven’t come to pass, despite having first been published in the 1970s.) I suppose that it keeps them from being branded as a “false prophet”. Too bad, in ways, that the pagan community doesn’t treat them like the ancient Israelites did and stone them when their prophecies failed.
“Pat” Patterson, one of the founders of the Georgian Tradition (of which I am a member), claimed to have been initiated into a Celtic Coven in the Boston area prior to World War II. At another point in time, he claimed to have been initiated by his father. Now, admittedly, this is possible, but frankly, unlikely.
Gerald B. Gardner claimed a PhD for which no documentation has ever been located; although there is a strong possibility that it may have been an honorary degree conferred for his book The Keris and Other Malay Weapons. I won’t go into the argument of whether or not he was ever initiated into a coven in the New Forest, as others, more capable than I, have discussed that both pro and con.
Over and over, we come across people who claim to be initiated into one path of Wicca or another, or forego Wicca and make grandiose claims of being a 20th generation fam-trad witch (or root worker, or shaman, or whatever.) Anyone claiming an initiatory lineage should be aware that these are claims that are pretty easily verifiable, and when the claims don’t add up, people do check. When generations of practice are possible (N.E.C.T.W. itself grew out of a set of family practices that either in the late 19th or early 20th century began to be called witchcraft), expect to be met with raised eyebrows. And if your 20 generations of shamanism look suspiciously like the works of Michael Harner with a side helping of Carlos Castenada or Lynn Andrews, don’t expect to be taken seriously by anyone whose brain hasn’t leaked out their ears. And if your fam-trad include anything about a Celtic Potato Goddess, please, just pack it in and go away.
There are real-world problems when people pad their resumes, just look at former Broadcom senior vice president Vahid Manian, for instance. There are far too many other examples to even make a short list. Let that one suffice for now.
For the record, I don’t have any academic degrees other than a high school diploma. I’ve dropped out of college several times, but have (or at least had) academic standing of my Junior year; my major was Religious Studies, with minor in Business and Public Administration the first two times I attended, and later changed my minor to Child Development.
I was first initiated in 1973 into the Georgian Tradition, but have generally worked since 1975 in the tradition known as N.E.C.T.W.. In addition, I am a 1st degree initiate in the Gardnerian Tradition, and a White Cord in NROOGD. I was one of 50-70 folk who got together in a house in Oakland in 1975 to help found Covenant of the Goddess, and have twice served on its national board of directors and served in numerous capacities at the Local Council level before leaving COG. I have written articles for a number of Pagan press periodicals including Green Egg, The Georgian News, The Crystal Well, The Witches’ Almanac and others.
My primary claim to fame is that I’ve been happily married for over 30 years to one beautiful woman and we have three beautiful children, and have been blessed with two mostly adorable grandchildren, in all of whom I have much pride.
And you know, anything more than that is just frosting on the cake. Which I am not supposed to eat anyway because of my diabetes! (Oh well…)
Oct 2001, edited September 2013 (updated marriage length, and expanded text.)
Oh, what the hell. Here’s a little infographic for you. It’s interesting reading, too.
Image source: www.gradschoolhub.com