Scott Cunnigham, was he a benefit or hindrance to modern Wicca?

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I feel that I must dedicate at least one post on this blog to Scott Cunningham. He is the author who introduced me, and I am sure thousands if not millions, of men and women to Wicca. Before his book Wicca: the Solitary Guide for the Practitioner I was merely lost as to my religious identity. The information on Scott is somewhat muddled, but here is an account of who he was and how he became the influential author within the Pagan community.

At the outset I must give special thanks George Knowles of Controversical.com from whose page much of the detail of Scott’s life has been documented. 

Scott was born in Royal Oak, Michigan in 1965. Scott’s father was a professional writer, which may explain how Scott was able to so prolifically document on the subject of Wicca. Any one who knows Michigan can attest that it can become very cold and harsh at times of the year. Scott’s mother, Rose, was ill and was advised by doctors that a more milder climate would be beneficial for her health. Due to this the Cunningham family moved from Michigan to sunny San Diego, California.

San Diego, for those who have not been there, is an amazing city bordered by Mexico to the south and known for its military bases and beach-side activities. It can be a progressive and at times ‘alternative’. In San Diego Scott met Raymond Buckland, who was a very active member of the American Wiccan community. Scott became involved in the Serpent Stone Family. Scott also enrolled in a creative writing degree at San Diego State University, however within two years of the course had produced so much published work he left the university to continue is writing career.

Scott’s transition from coven Wiccan to solitary practitioner is somewhat unclear. However, the reason behind his popularity is unmistakable. He has an amazing list of books to his name. A good list of those works can be found here. He had an amazing way of writing that took complex and intricate concepts and made them easy to understand and follow. Patti Wigington in an article published in Thoughtco.com I think best describes Scott’s style:

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While Cunningham often comes under fire from lineaged Wiccans, who point out that his books are in fact about NeoWicca, rather than traditional Wicca, his works typically offer a lot of good advice for people who practice as solitaries. He frequently points out in his writings that religion is a deeply personal thing, and it’s not up to other people to tell you if you’re doing it right or wrong. He also argued that it was time for Wicca to stop being a secretive, mystery religion, and that Wiccans should welcome interested newcomers with open arms.

Interestingly, Scott was able to take his knowledge of natural magic and translate it into language that beginners to Wicca could easily understand. He shared his belief of the Divine, and of symbolism, and although he never dumbed it down, he managed to take complex information and explain it in a way that someone who had no prior understanding of Wicca could still absorb. (https://www.thoughtco.com/about-scott-cunningham-2562615)

Scott unfortunately was not with us for very long. Originally contracting and overcoming Lymphoma he contracted cryptococcal menigitis of which he succomed to in 1993 at the age of 36. His legacy lives on as his writings are continued to be sold globally and I would imagine occupy the shelves of many practicing Wiccans.

There are some who feel that Scott’s teachings have not helped the proliferation of traditional Wiccan teachings, and in fact may have caused some set-backs due to their simplistic and otherwise one-sided disposition. I would agree that Scott’s books are simplistic, at least to some extent, and a practitioner may use his teachings as a jumping-off platform to expand their knowledge. But without his kindhearted introduction to Wicca many teenagers like myself at that time would not have had the courage to embark on the discovery of such an amazing spiritual experience.

Let’s face it, being within a minority population can be daunting. Mainstream society approaches minorities with an array of concern, disapproval or even fear. My hope is that through writers like Scott, bloggers like myself and the general shift of a more accepting society we can come to a place where the minority may not be celebrated but at least welcomed and moves made by the majority to understand.

Until next time, blessed be.

Garrettlonewolfe

Articles

Controversial.com- Scott Cunningham

Wikipedia- Scott Cunningham

Thoughtco.com- Author Profile: Scott Cunningham

Wild Ideas- The Temple Library: Why I don’t like Scott Cunningham

Wikipedia- Raymond Buckland

Biblio.com- A list of books written by Scott Cunningham

 

 

Do we need Pagan festivals and events?

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This comes from a posting made by the Pagan Awareness Network on their facebook page last night asking for responses from Pagans about what would make them organize their money and time to attend events. From what I gather the back-story stems from a failed attempt at organizing a Sydney-based event recently which ran at a loss and was not well attended. It started me thinking of what would compel me to take time out of my busy schedule of work, family, and personal interests to attend such an event.

What can a Pagan event give us that we cannot already access ourselves within our own home? Here are some ideas which come to mind:

– Speakers of particular interests and specialities (meditation, Pagan history, spell casting or other ritual formation)

– Group circles, festivals, or gatherings (i.e. full moon, sabbats, rituals)

– Vendors with Pagan-specific products to see/touch/buy

To my mind all are quite valid, however why do we not come out to support our religion and meet with like-minded individuals? From my experience (mainly online) Pagans are very social people- so what is the issue?

Wondering what others may think? It is an interesting point to ponder.

Until next time,

Garrettlonewolfe

What’s in a name: prayer and spell casting?

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One of the items which seems to cause concern and wonder amongst the non-Pagan community is that of casting spells. Somehow this process is able to shift space and time, to defy the laws of physics and matter to achieve feats that no mortal could. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

Yes, those of Pagan faith do talk of energy-shifting or focusing as part of the spell-casting process. Simply put this is the act of focusing your internal energy, while attracting like energy from the universe, towards an intended goal. The same is done with sports psychologists who work with players, golfers of note, in focusing their energies on the perfect shot or play. It is the power of positive thought. We do think a bit outside of ourselves as Pagans know they are connected to the energy of the universe, and can harness that energy to aid them. However, as Pagans we also know that we must work with nature and the natural laws- for they serve as a foundation for our spiritual path.

I can draw a similar comparison to my Christian brethren when discussing prayer. What does one do when they pray to their god? They oftentimes kneel or sit (coming closer to the Earth), clasp their hands ( creating a connection between the two halves of their body), close their eyes (this is a common method used in metaphysical practices such as meditation to help focus our mind and remove distractions), and then look to speak to their god and generally with the purpose of asking or attempting to influence a particular result (I would call that focusing energy towards an intended goal- wouldn’t you).

After the spell is cast and the prayer is given both Pagans and Christians do the same thing- wait. They wait and have faith that their devotion to their spiritual beliefs and their devoted process will yield a result which is in their intended favour. Just because we take different paths does not mean we do not end up at the same destination.

Until next time,

Garrettlonewolfe