T H E B R O K E N P L E D G E
[Tony] On 4 May 1974 Bob Crossman together with other members of the Pagan Movement met together in the fields of Can y Lloer to celebrate the Rite of the May. With the consent of the people at the meeting, Bob was accepted as the priest of the Horned God, and he swore that as he knew the love of the Goddess in the May he would come back again at the time appointed to be with her in her sorrow when the leaves were falling all about her. But when Samhain was come, her erstwhile Lover was not, and he lied to his companions to cover his desertion of her. For pledging the Goddess false and forsaking her in the pit of her need, he was cursed that for seven years he would know her loneliness, and during those seven years many people have sworn to shun him in magic and in worship until he atone with the Goddess he forsook. And now, after seven years have passed, Bob is summoned again to the Tryst of the Withered Goddess.
It must be said at the outset that, after five years had passed, Bob confessed his guilt and resolved to make amends. Dates were as follows: On 4 May 1974 Bob gave his pledge. On 2 November 1974 he broke that pledge. On 10 September 1979 he confessed his guilt and resolved to make amends. And now on 14 November 1981 he is summoned again to the Dark Tryst and into the presence of the Wounded Goddess.
We’re going to recount now all the events of the last seven years: the giving of the pledge, its breaking, the deeds that were done in consequence, and how each member in their own way, when called upon to stand by the Goddess and defend her, showed their nobility of character, or their weakness, or their apathy or their hypocrisy, or even all of these traits as sentiments vied for precedence and people found themselves pushed far beyond the limits of where they had sought to go. It makes an ugly episode, yet a wounded Goddess is more ugly still. Apathy abounds, and in its train, hypocrisy; and nowhere is hypocrisy more pernicious than in the machinations of the Cheat and Deserter as he sought to deceive his pagan companions to hide the sacrilege he wrought. But now the seven years have all but passed and even Bob himself repudiates his deed. Let us never forget that in what follows; for in what follows we will be going back through the years and will live again the May Rite, the giving of the pledge, the breaking of it, the lies and hypocrisy and the sorrow and the pain of the Goddess.
We go back, then, to the May Rite of 1974. In those days the form of the rite was different from the form we know now. In those days, we saw the rite as depicting the ousting of the authority of the Father by the Son, and this portrayed as a battle between the Sun and the Horned One in which we hoped the Horned One would have the victory, though the outcome was not prearranged. The priest of the Sun and the priest of the Horned God were chosen by negotiation, unlike our present practice whereby the priest of the Horned God is chosen by competition among the would-be Lovers of the May Queen. This explains why the Sun appears in the 1974 rite as a rival to the Horned One. I’ve explained this lest it otherwise appear confusing, but it doesn’t in any way affect the significance of the pledge. Here, then, is an account of the May Rite on 4 May 1974.
BEALTAINE MEETING 1974 Report by Tony (abbreviated)
Those who came to the wild rite her in Can y Lloer in Western Wales were Patrick, Chris, Pat and Rhydian, Bob, Greg, Betty, Terry and myself, and we drew the circle about us in the waxing moon on the third evening of May to talk about the morrow’s rite. But it wasn’t a happy circle and the hands were joined awry and the knots that were tied could not be loosed in the psyche till the morrow.
Who would bear the May kachina, of Mab of the Crescent Moon, of Brirn of the greenwood, shaggy-haired and horned and whose loins are girt with the wind, and of Pahh the Mighty, proud and arrogant, bright of eye and deft of hand? Pat and Terry both felt they would like to walk the green paths of Mab; but Pat had been one with Mab the May before, and the May before that as well, and even further back, and her longing for the Queen of the May was a lesser longing than her longing for another’s longing; and so it fell to Terry who had come anew; in her earthlove and her moonlove it fell.
Then Bob said in a loud voice and a gruff one that he’d do Brirn, and that was a manly thing to say, and as it was manly it was unmannerly for other men there were who hadn’t spoken; and it was not the even tones of willingness that Bob spoke, but the urgent tone of intent. And his challenge, and his taunt, of the circle was as manly as the love between Terry and Pat was womanly, and unmannerly as the priestesses were courteous.
So I spoke of other things, and the quick tongue of Gwalchmai I doubt would have made better redress for the quicker hand of Cei, and we asked the others and we spoke of the Sun. Chris said his heart was with Brirn but he would as willingly bear the arms of the Sun, and in any case, he would not thwart Bob; and the others said nothing. But in truth there was no choice that was not already made for in a recent ballot regarding a member who had been playing a vandal’s part in recent newsletters and came close to desecrating the May, Patrick had cast no vote for Mab, and in this he stood alone, alone from all of us, and apart from Mab; and I said that here, in Patrick, we had the Sun. And so it was, and all agreed.
And so we came again to the kachina of the Horns, and again I asked, and again Bob said in a gruff way and a hard way “I thought I was doing Brirn!” So we had to work hard then to give Chris his say for Chris was deferrent and we made him speak his heart as though Bob were not there, and in this way we found that both Bob and Chris were “willing” to bear the horned kachina; both were “keen” to carry the horns, and both were “very keen”. So I asked if they would keep their tryst with the Goddess and be here at Samhain when the Cailleach would tear the clothes from their back as the leaves from the trees and leave them naked in the cold November wind. And Bob and Chris both gave their heart to the Goddess in her age and emptiness as in her Maytide love and eagerness and spoke in truth to be here again with her in the dark rite, and in the circle they made their pledge. And so it only remained for one to quell the passion of the rising blood and offer deference to the other. And Chris, swift as the deer in the bracken, gave way to Bob; and Bob, like a wild boar, rushed on without turning his head. And that was a manly, and an uncouth, deed and the passion rose as the life of the untamed forest.
And then we talked of magic and the trailing of the May scent, and the courting and the rising of the passions, and the whirling of the dance and the rhythm and the eager passioned trail, and the rhythmic nodding, jogging of the horns, up and down, and the swaying of the shoulders, and the rhythm overpowering, overbearing, overwhelming and the dancing of the Lady of the ferns, and the beating of the drum and the whirling of the feet and the eyes asparkling and acalling and the Lady in her greenferns and her scents lying heavy in the Maytide air.
But the knots were tied and eyes were hid, and if the owl in the barn knew the fears that were bred, he said nothing of it.
Next morning all was astir in preparation for the battle in the field, but a subtler battle raged still in the psyche. Of a sudden Bob told me that Terry felt unable to bear the kachina of Mab, and he himself unable to bear the horns, and he asked me to speak to Terry in Dwy Nant. So I told Pat and Chris, for they might have to prepare themselves urgently, and I went with Bob into the field of Dwy Nant, and down to its southern end among the alder saplings, there to speak with Terry who was sitting on an old fallen tree. And it wasn’t to change her mind that I went, but because Bob asked me to go, and to feel what was amiss for something was amiss and athwart the merrie moods and airs of May.
So I spoke and Bob stood by, and words are small things and say but little. Terry, hag-ridden and accursed of the Empty One, felt her close, and too close, and no company was she for the Maid of the Spring. And this was a terrible thing and a dark spell for no wraith of the Old Woman of the Autumn sets foot in the green fields of the May or hand to the sapling tree, or stands golden-thighed and eyes aglow for her cloven-footed lover of the glades and woodland ways. Words are as seeds unwatered, so I sat myself down on the ancient tree and we spoke with hands and eyes and the tongue kept its peace, and often too the hands held converse while the eyes spoke dark and tearful, love and sorrow, and love-and-sorrow mixed; and there by the hedge the Hag; and by our side the Green Maid asmiling and aloving, and if it might be a profane thing on a different time in a different place to set the heart between the gods, it was now a sacred thing and the choice was ours, for a day, and I felt the love of Mab alonging and apleading. To faerie woman fay nd fair, enchantment deep and love beguiling; but to mortal minds and only those it is to give her yes or no, and having given, then to love, a year in her court abiding. I gave her yes and all of love, and the Shade in the hedge went away. And eyes, bright eyes, Mab’s eyes, sparkled in her priestess, and there was Bob by the fallen tree, and I joined their hands as Queen of the May and her lover, King of the Woods. And love there was in plenty, and no word we spoke there in the presence of Mab, our Beloved, and our Queen.
Preparations were late, but at last in the afternoon we were ready and went into the fields beneath a silver-grey sky, through the grass of Rhaeadr and down to the stream that flows where Rhaeadr lays her bank beside the bank of Dwy Nant, and the Sun in the clouds was hiding.
And in the stream waters stood Mab in all her beauty, bare-armed, bare-footed in the waters, and her long gown, brown-belted at her waist, hung green as the rye grass, and from her shoulders, a misty train, bright as the Maytide leaves, held converse with the gentle winds that blow where oak and ash and alder cast their shade. Her crown was white as moonlight inset with gems of green and her arms spoke her magic and her eyes spoke of love. One by one we went into the stream before her and she took us in her arms and spoke to the rushing stream:
"Running waters, speaking stones,
Take the cares that weight on him.
Take away and flow away... far away..."
And far away the waters flowed and we spoke our love of Mab, our Queen, and her lips were warm in her moonlove.
And when we were gathered together over the stream, Mab came out of the waters and bare feet walked the grass of Dwy Nant, and a pipe played, and Mab went before and the piper went behind, and we made our way by sapling oak and new-set birch into her circle where the stones are set. We stood a little while, our hands joined one with another, and then we loosed our hands and came out of the circle by the east.
In the circle at its centre stood a staff, stiff and strong. A leafless thing it was, and tall and straight it stood. Far to the south stood Brirn, and as far to the north stood Pahh. And war was in the air. Two posts there were by Brirn and their ribbons hung in green; and two posts there were by Pahh and his ribbons glowed with fiery red. And the Gods were come for the great battle. Pahh was aglow, his tunic orange as the rising Sun and bright as fire, a golden sunblaze on his chest. His cloak was red as blood and his crown was gold and shining and golden-yellow streamers marked his legs and arms. Strong stood Pahh, aglow with pride and arrogance, aglow with light, ablaze with fiery hues. And in the south stood Brirn, horned of head and naked, and dark lights there were in his eyes and passion in his loins. And he roared a great roar to Pahh and he raised his fists.....
And Pahh was bedazzled and lost his pride, and he raised his fists and roared back at Brirn with the voice of Brirn. And the Gods stepped to battle. Brirn came low to the Earth as a forest beast, low in the grass astalking. And Pahh forgot his pride and low in the grass he came like Brirn. Closer they came, and closer, and into the circle where the one staff stood..... Four hands gripped the staff and down on the grass they went together struggling. And a drum was beating and the people chanting “War!” Muscle strained against muscle and passion was a power in a battle such as this. Slowly Pahh yielded and slowly the strength and passion of Brirn prevailed against the harsh might of the Sun, but slowly..... And the people chanted “War! War! Brirn! War!”..... To the north they came and no need had Mab of her wand of birch, for her lover’s passions gave him power in plenty; through the northward road among the orchard trees they came and the victory was to the Horns.
Beneath the grey sky we danced in joy around the maypole and Patrick changed his clothes for there is no joy to the man who carries the kachina of the banished god. And when Patrick had changed his clothes, he hoisted the red and yellow and golden clothes of Pahh high to the top of the maypole as we danced around. And there in the sky was the Sun, and the grey clouds were melting. But a fool had set the maypole on a buried stone and it toppled and many hands to thrust it in snapped it in two, and while we set the remnant straight, the Sun hid his face and came no more. That was a sad thing; but the victory was ours and the Sun had risen, and we danced together, Patrick and all, in the circle around the maypole.
When the dance was done, we went with Mab to her trysting place, and she took us by a winding way and in among the apple trees and dancing to the maytide leaves and blossoms, and southwards to her circle where the stones tell of moonlove, of Maytide love and longing, and she danced to the stones, awhirling and aspinning, and alonging for her cloven-footed, shaggy-haired and horny-headed lover.
Out of the thicket he came, and the pipe played a searcing tune, and with him came a wind through the grass. And Mab was there adancing and alluring, and aspinning in the ring of stones, and of all things of the wild there was then no thing more dear to Brirn than the ring of Mab adancing. With a swift pace he came over the grasses and through the rushes, by the circle to the southward stone, and with a quick move and a sudden one he took her in his arms and bore her down among the grasses; in his passion he was over her, and in his muscles he had bound her. Tight he bound with passioned fire of jealous love, and an uncouth one he was, and he held the green tight-bound round Mab. No chance had she to cast her gown of green nor stand in naked moonlove on the grassy plain. No glimpse her people had of golden thighs or rounded hills or comely forests fay and fair. His she was and his alone; by him she was undone, and a rhythm began to beat and the people chanted “Brirn! Mab and Brirn! Brirn! Mab and Brirn!” Passions flowed where horn was joined with crescent moon, and for a moment the silver-grey clouds yielded their drops of rain.
But a cold wind blew between us and Mab drew her green about her, so we threw flowers into her lap where already there was green, and tied green ribbons on the horns, and we joined our arms about them in the ring. And a pulsing rhythm came. Nine times inwards and nine times outwards, and on the ninth pulse the bonds were loosed and out of the womb of bursting Spring came her flowers aplenty, her moonflowers and her moonlove, in showers they came, and she scattered them in her grasses, bright flowers where she walked, and bare feet, beloved feet, of our May Queen walked among the violets and the primroses, the dandelions, buttercups and daisies, little white flowers of wood sorrel and the golden marsh marigolds, bluebells and the sweet scented woodruff. And she came to us, each who bore the staff of love, and took us in her arms and kissed us on the lips and her lips were warm and her arms spoke of passion and eyes were full of love and untold tales of Summer in the wake of Spring.
And Brirn was among the women, and one his kissed full lustily on her red and rosy lips, and one he touched, but barely, on her forehead for her age was great, and for that, methinks, there will be a reckoning in the dark tryst and underneath the Elder Tree; for a true man he was in lust, and in his lust she’ll bind him.
And we knelt and kissed the Earth and came indoors to eat, for tales and song and poetry of the wild ways.
The season changed, and on 11 September in Newsletter 32, the meeting for Samhain was announced in this form:
“ We are meeting on Saturday 2 November for the dark rite of
Maghu. Arrive on Friday evening if possible, otherwise
Saturday morning: leave whenever you like from Sunday onwards.
To Bob, who is pledged by word, and to everyone who is pledged
because they are, because they have not always been, and
because again they will not be, come while you are and
take the hand of she who is not."
On the same date of 11 September, Bob wrote to me as follows, and I replied on 12 September, and both Bob’s letter and my reply were published as a leaflet and issued with Newsletter 32:
Bob to Tony 11 September: Re. Samhein, it is highly unlikely that we will be coming to Selene for Samhein. Here’s for why, first we will be having a meeting here in Birmingham for and with our own people, plus additional pagan folk who can make it, such as Kevin, Jenny and Eleanor. Second and lastly, the scene at Can y Lloer is too heavy for us, last Bealtaine highlighted that, when we were unable to take on the kachinas properly. Before the rite you told me what happened was between me and the Kachina, and yet afterwards you criticised me for embracing the Maid before she disrobed, ie not following the ground plan. Would a horny Horned God hang around waiting for his maid to take her robe off?
Dont you think that you were rather heavy on Patrick for not taking the kachina of the Sun God as you see it, for as yet Patrick is inexperienced as to the natures of the Gods, and he was bulldosed into taking the Kachina.
Blessed Be. (Signed) Bob
Tony to Bob 12 September: I’ll reply to the trivial points first as it’s easy.
My only criticism of Patrick was in his not voting in the ballot. I didn’t criticise his bearing of the kachina. You seem to be unclear on this and missed the point that my remarks were directed not about Patrick, but about the changes in Pahh in the presence of Brirn. The Horned God would indeed bend to the will of the Moon Maiden in the May Rite though it be otherwise in Midsummer; you forgot it was the Maiden’s rite. Equally importantly you forgot the people; you tried to bear the kachina for yourself and failed to bring the people with you. Now to the important thing.....
“The scene at Can y Lloer is too heavy for us...” “The meeting with the Hag is too fearful for me...” I’ve translated it for you. Did you think it would be a sham? A symbol? A trivial thing to be played off the edge of your persona? Did you hope to hold your ego from her? You can’t stand humiliation, can you? In short, you’re rationalising your fear of the Hag. But much more importantly than that is the following, and I quote from the Bealtaine report:
“So I asked if they would keep their tryst with the Goddess and be HERE at Samhain when the Cailleach would tear the clothes from their back as the leaves from the trees and leave them naked in the cold November wind. And Bob and Chris both gave their heart to the Goddess in her age and emptiness as in her Maytide love and eagerness and spoke in truth to be HERE again with her in her dark rite, and IN THE CIRCLE THEY MADE THEIR PLEDGE.”
What you are now contemplating doing it is not for me to decide or persuade. I can only open your eyes and show you what has slipped from your memory. Rationalise as you will - and that is for you to indulge in and the Goddess to judge - but what you are contemplating doing is banishing yourself for ever from the magic of the drawn circle, breaking your word with the Goddess and, most important of all, robbing her of what you have promised in your heart and in her circle to give her.
By her love, by her passion, and by her emptiness, I won’t allow you to do that in forgetfulness. If you do that, then do it in knowledge and bear for ever the curse of the plundered Goddess, and know for ever that she is empty. May you never again find her in fulness to plunder, and may none who go your acursed way with you and condone your crime ever again find the Goddess in love.>
Come now or go forever in the name of Maghu
Bob to Greg & Tony 19 September: First, let’s sort out the ground under
discussion, for the Bealtaine report which Tony quotes so heavily from is inaccurate, and as yet has not been agreed upon by either of us, let me finish before you start thinking irrelevant. So as it stands, the report cannot be used as a true statement of events. For at the time under discussion no circle had been cast, the only circle that could have been in existence at that point would be a tribal one, and thus any promise or pledge’ made, be to the people present. This brings us to the pledge itself, as understood and made by me, which was, that I would take the kachina of the Horned God at Samhain and let the Hag take her due, returning if possible to Selene, there was no definite promise to return.....
Now we come to a point missed by both you and Tony, we went to Selene at Bealtaine and carried the kachinas bringing the Maiden and the Horned God to the people at Selene, our people here in Birmingham had no rite, though true we’d planned otherwise, but the Gods decreed differently. Now Samhein comes, and as we can only be at one rite, if we came to Selene, again some of our people would go without, for not all could come with us. There will be no plundered Goddess, for the Dark One will be met—here in Birmingham...
Tony to Bob 13 October (the long interval occasioned by Bob’s delaying sending me the above letter): Here are the facts about the Bealtaine report.
A report of a rite is deemed accurate if all the participants are agreed that it is accurate. Agreement is indicated either by their saying so, or by their not raising an objection within a reasonable time. A reasonable time is such that, firstly, memories are still reliable as to what actually happened, and secondly, we don’t allow it to intrude into our devotions for another season. I think we might say that, once a report is written, we might expect finalisation within about a month, and we might expect anyone who wished to raise an objection to make the fact known straight away, and certainly within a week of receiving the draft.
I wrote and posted the report within ten days of the rite. Pat, Betty and Terry accepted it as a true report. Nobody other than yourself raised any objections. Your own first objection was not mentioned until 19 September. Now if you felt all this time that the report was inaccurate but didn’t say so, this is inconsiderate to say the least and I think we are entitled to say this reflects on your commitment. If on the other hand, you had only recently come to the view that it is inaccurate, we must compare the reliability of your memory four months after the event with the memories of others as expressed within two weeks of the event. If you are setting your memory after four months against the memory of several people after two weeks, I think you should reconsider the reliability of doing so. It would appear that your objection was raised not because the report was actually inaccurate, but because you were reminded about your tryst with the Hag. Late September is no time to raise a FIRST objection to a report written in mid-May! I wouldn’t even trust my own memory now compared with when the report was written, so I certainly wouldn’t trust yours when you’re being driven by fear to betray the oath you swore in the May Circle.
The version you offer of your pledge at this late hour is not true; an accepted report written within ten days is a better witness than the opinion of one who is in fear, offered after four months. However, I will be so bold as to say that it is not faulty memory you are offering, but a deliberate lie. You pledged the rite, the hour, and the place.
What you say now about Birmingham and people and an alternative arrangement’ with the Hag were no part of the pledge you made. May they share your fate if they go with you knowingly, and may yours be the more terrible if you deceive them and they go blindly to a false shrine in company of a wraith of the broken tryst. And may you never more find rest in the breast of the Goddess you plundered.
Those last two letters were copied onto a screed which went out on 18 October with Newsletter 33, wherein was a final invitation to the Rite of Samhain:
Here is the final reminder for the meeting on 2 November for
the rite of the Old Hag of the empty hand, of the hollow breast,
of the aching heart, and the baleful eyes that look ever for
all that is lost. In the raging wind of her anguish, in the
lashing rain of her sorrow, there is no place for us but where
she is, in her pain, to be with her to help her to bear it.
In the same newsletter, Bob wrote, partly in reply to Douglas, as quoted hereunder, and I replied to him in Newsletter 34, also quoted hereunder:
Bob in Newsletter 33 on 18 October: Dark as a moonless night, her voice, a cold wind that shrieks around the lonely mountain, two faced, one you gaze in awe, the other you look on in horror, she plucks the leaves from the trees, yet they are beautiful in their dying.
That is but one man’s picture, for she is different things to different people, meet her yourself Douglas, by attending a Samhein rite, for she will manifest wherever people gather without fear in their hearts. At the time of writing, I see a dark form hovering over Can y Lloer, a long, bony figure pointing. The two-faced shadow of the Hag hanging over one, who in attempting to build, will not hesitate in seeking to destroy.
Tony in Newsletter 34 on 28 October: I feel I must correct what you wrote to
Douglas, Bob. You say “... she will manifest wherever people gather without fear in their hearts...” This isn’t true. It might almost be said that fear is her invocation. And nor does she have a special affinity for gatherings; rather the contrary. Can you imagine a hole in the night which, if one were to walk into it, would just barely make that hole up to nothing? That aching hole, yawning open on the other side of nothing is the nearest concept (if it can be called a concept) one can hold (if one can hold anything) of the Hag. Because she’s the dread that broods on the other side of emptiness does not mean she is a flimsy shadow, though she may appear as such. Her emptiness is as the emptiness of a chasm, her hunger as the insatiable hunger of a whirlpool, and her hollow embrace as the embrace of a reedy marsh. She is the hole that is left when all that is good and real and full of love and beauty is gone away and her eyes look always for the lost horizons of the night. As a flame in water, as a snowflake in a fire, a sob in the wind or a sigh in the darkness; so is all that is real before the Great Emptiness we call the Hag.
Newsletter 34 was the last one before the Rite of Samhain and our last chance to urge Bob to honour the pledge he gave. The newsletter was devoted to Samhain with a report of a previous rite and invocations of the Hag, yet we also spoke to Bob in ways that were not direct. I headed the newsletter with a quotation from an account of the Kelpie, and finished it with an appeal to surrender before the inevitable, and previously I had asked Michael to rewrite the story of Cu Chulainn as a subtle reminder to Bob, and this story too appeared in Newsletter 34. Here are the pieces I’ve mentioned:
Newsletter 34 Heading; W W Gibbings “There is a deep black pool baith aboon in Folk-Lore and Legends: Scotland’ an’ below, but i’ the ford there’s a
bonny ripple, that shows, as one might think, but little depth o’ water; an’ just i’ the middle o’ that, in a place where a horse might swim, stood the kelpie. An’ it again repeated its words, The hour but not the man has come.’”
And now Michael’s retelling of the tale of Cu Chulainn and the Giant Herdsman, which is entitled:
THE CHAMPION OF EMHAIN Michael
Green were the leaves of Emhain in the May-tide when Cu Chulainn was champion.
Bright were his shining eyes, and bright were the berries of the whitebeam. His hair curled about his head like branches of red hawthorn, and the wind played through it like the wind upon the grassy mounds of Emhain.
Slowly wended the river between the high hills, and its sheen in the day-time was the gold of the sun or the fire of Cu Chulainn’s hair, or the burning of his eyes when the slaughter-lust was in them. And in the night when beamed the moon, its hue was the subtle silver of her mantle, or the gleam of Cu Chulainn’s sword, or the frosty blue of his eyes when the peace was upon them.
Aye, fair and fearful was the Hound of Culainn, and his heart was the heart of Erin, strong and surging, light and leaping, as the music in the halls of Emhain Mhaca.
And the spring was young, and the moon was full, as she danced in the starry-studded meadows of the west, and the flowers were blooming and the trees were growing and the world was gay, as the heroes sat in meeting in the wide and wondrous hall.
Then, as they sat there, with the wine and the fruit, the bread and the meat, all spread out on the table, there came in one whose head touched the roof-tree and whose girth was greater than a haggard oak. Over a monstrously ugly face fell his long, black hair, and in his hand was the staff of a herdsman, and in his belt was a sprig of green fern.
A challenge I bring, and a bargain to be kept,’ said the giant, and his voice rumbled through the rafters. O heroes of Ulster, who will prove their mettle with me, and their valour, and their steadfastness, and the truth of a pledge?’
O what is your challenge?’ asked the heroes all.
I,’ he said, with my broad-bladed axe shall be the bearer and the burden. I will allow any one of you to cleave my head from my neck, till the blood flows and the heart stops. But in return, your necks shall be hewn by me. That is the challenge. Now who, by the faery fern and the binding moon, shall make the bargain with me on this merry Bealtaine eve?’
I will,’ said one, whose name was Conall.
And I,’ said another, called Loeghaire.
And they took up the axe, and each played a stroke on the mighty neck, and the head rolled off, and the blood flowed. Then stooping, the giant picked up his head, and placed it back on his shoulders.
See you the moon?’ he said. And she was high and bright, and poured her silver through the window, and sparkled Cu Chulainn’s eyes.
Aye, we see her,’ they replied.
At her seventh waning shall I return, when the leaves are pale and falling, when the frost glitters on the morning grass, when the shadows are deep beneath the crossways tree. In the evening, in the year’s dying shall I return, and the tryst shall be kept, the bargain shall be fulfilled.
Till the dark of the moon, heroes.’
And the leaves fell, and the year died, and the frost lay like a foam white upon the river of Emhain Mhaca. Glinting and icy-blue were Cu Chulainn’s eyes in the moon, as she sang an ever-colder song to the pine-trees on the fading hills.
And the giant returned at Samhain, in the deep and unlit evening.
Now, make your promise good,’ said the giant, and the fern sprig in his belt was still green, though it was autumn.
No, I will not,’ said Conall.
Nor I,’ said Loeghaire. We are not giants, and have no magic, to replace our heads at will.’
But you are heroes of Ulster, are you not?’
Aye, we are.’
And you have valour, and prowess?’
And you are high-metalled, and know truth?’
Aye, but we will not.’
And the moon waned in their eyes and in their hearts, and she never more shone upon them.
I will keep their tryst,’ said Cu Chulainn.
And he raised up the axe, and smote off the giant’s head.
In the darkness the giant returned, and his black-haired head was on his shoulders. On the block laid Cu Chulainn his neck, saying: I will feel the kiss of steel, and the promise shall be kept.’
To he hall’s lofty ridge-pole the giant raised the axe, and the moon blazed upon its blade, smiling and singing in the autumn night. But it was the blunt edge that lovingly stroked his neck, as soft as the breath of a maiden, and the giant said:
Rise up, Cu Chulainn. Vain is it for any warrior of Ulster or wide-valleyed Erin to seek to contend with you on bravery and prowess and truth. Henceforth, to you shall go the lordship of Erin’s heroes, and the champion’s portion, and the love of the moon, and her silver magic.
The blow and the kiss, they are one in truth, and the tryst is true.’
And the winter came in the tread of Autumn, though it touched not Cu Chulainn.
And the closing words of the newsletter were these:
Tony: Samhain is no time to speak of love; no time to build. It’s a time of destruction and loss and disintegration. We can stop nothing at this time of the year. All we can do is let go - and we’ll break if we can’t.
That newsletter didn’t in fact reach Bob before the Rite of Samhain because he had changed his address and failed to notify the Movement of the fact. Despite his pledge, despite the sacredness of the ancient bonds of love, of trust and of loyalty, despite all we did to help him, and despite, above all, the plight of the Goddess in her withering, Bob was not present at her Rite. He broke the pledge he had given her in the May. Here’s the report of the Rite of Samhain which Bob forsook.
THE RITE OF SAMHAIN 1974 Tony
Published in Newsletter 48 on 5 December 1975
There were Pat and myself, Chris, Greg and Kevin gathered in the shadow of Samhain, and there should have been one other who was pledged by the rite of the May but hid himself away in his fear. And nor did even all those who were gathered take a part in the rite of the plundered Goddess for hearts were divided by loyalties of shame and hands held in abeyance by fear of a dark deed, and fear to look on the Goddess who was wounded, lest her pain impel the faint of heart, the treacherous mind and the weak hand to curse the traitor and cheat who gave her a lie in the heat of the May and an empty shrine in the Winter wind.>
Here’s how it was when the May scents were about and the Goddess sparkle-eyed and the Hawthorn green and lust and love upon the Maytide hills and borne on the flood waters of the vales:
Bob Crossman said in a loud voice and a gruff one that he’d do Brirn, and that was a manly thing to say, and as it was manly it was unmannerly for other men there were who hadn’t spoken; and it was not the even tones of willingness that Bob spoke, but the urgent tone of intent. And his challenge, and his taunt of the circle was manly as the love between Terry and Pat was womanly, and as unmannerly as the priestesses were courteous.
So I spoke of other things, and the quick tongue of Gwalchmai I doubt would have made better redress for the quicker hand of Cei, and we asked the others and we spoke of the Sun. Chris said his heart was with Brirn but he would as willingly bear the arms of the Sun, and in any case, he would not thwart Bob; and the others said nothing.....
And so we came again to the kachina of the Horns, and again I asked, and again Bob said in a gruff way and a hard way “I thought I was doing Brirn!” So we had to work hard then to give Chris his say for Chris was deferent and we made him speak his heart as though Bob were not there, and in this way we found that both Bob and Chris were “willing” to bear the horned kachina; both were “keen” to carry the horns, and both were “very keen”. So I asked if they would keep their tryst with the Goddess and be here at Samhain when the Cailleach would tear the clothes from their back as the leaves from the trees and leave them naked in the cold November wind. And Bob and Chris both gave their heart to the Goddess in her age and emptiness as in her Maytide love and eagerness and spoke in truth to be here again with her in the dark rite, and in the circle they made their pledge. And so it only remained for one to quell the passion of the rising blood and offer deference to the other. And Chris, swift as the deer in the bracken, gave way to Bob; and Bob, like a wild boar, rushed on without turning his head. And that was a manly, and an uncouth, deed and the passion rose as the life of the untamed forest.....
And so to Samhain. We didn’t know, in the gathering gloom of the shortening days, whether Bob would change his mind and his heart at the last moment and keep the tryst he had made, and so we waited until the last moment. My intention, and it was in some way shared, was to plan the rite with Bob present and enact it, either with him if he came, or as far as we could if he did not, and thus if he came, all would be as well as anything might be well in Samhain, while if he did not, his very absence would be the focal pit that would draw to him the hate that would be his lot. Pat and I were committed. Greg was uncertain, but came in his uncertainty. Chris came because of remorse for not withstanding Bob at Bealtaine and thus letting a false one claim the Queen of the May. Kevin, who had intended to come to a Samhain Rite, withdrew in the face of what we might have to do. If the issue was between avenging the Goddess and showing love and tolerence towards her plunderer, Kevin would urge love and tolerence and no action. I wrote to Kevin, and then phoned him, and minutes mounted up because it was a long distance call, and it was expensive and I paid for it until the coins ran out. Eventually Kevin came, but it wasn’t to curse; it was to argue defence for the plunderer. And so we were gathered, and we argued throughout the Saturday and into the night and little was changed. Pat and Chris and I were committed with the Goddess in her pain. Kevin remained committed with his stance of forgiveness. Greg was in turmoil throughout, but in the end, decided he could take no such actions as might be considered necessary. Greg’s state was wretched. For Chris and Pat and myself, the decision had long been made. For Kevin, there was no problem for he had buried his soul. But for Greg, his psyche was the very shape of Samhain and the options were to lose or to lose. Next day, Sunday, Greg left and I drove him to the station thirty miles away, leaving Pat, Chris and Kevin at home. I wrote to Greg then, and here is the letter, more or less as I wrote it. It’s a letter and not a report, so it’ll read like a letter and not like a report. Here it is (now, 14 November 1981, with a slight change of wording at the end):
Tony to Greg: When I was driving you to Caerfyrddin, my feeling was mainly something like grief - grief for Mab who had been defiled and forsaken, and for the fact that her supposed devotees washed their hands of her plight. I felt sorry for you when I left you at the station. Pat felt sorry for you too. In fact, everyone did, and still does. When I was driving back along the main road from Caerfyrddin to Llandeilo, there was a rainbow. Rainbows are always beautiful, but this one was Mab herself. It was slightly off the road ahead of me and coming down into the field. It was only about three times as high as wide and scarcely long enough to curve at all. But it was absolutely steady all the way from Caerfyrddin to Llandeilo, and its colours were more vivid than I had ever seen. It was like the silken draperies of the Faerie Queen, and it was as sexy, and to say I had fallen in love with the rainbow would be a truth, though a greater truth could be said. After Llandeilo, the rainbow was gone, but then the trees developed the colours that only Faerie knows. True, there were three colours, and they were vivid red, great expanses of brilliant shining green ivy, and great masses of yellow of the birches. It was like the silken draperies of the Faerie Queen, and it was as sexy, and to say I had fallen in love with the rainbow would be a truth, though a greater truth could be said. After Llandeilo, the rainbow was gone, but then the trees developed the colours that only Faerie knows. True, there were three colours, and they were vivid red, great expanses of brilliant shining green ivy, and great masses of yellow of the birches. The sky was dark and the rain was on the leaves and the Sun was on the rain, but there was more than this, and Mab was here in the leaf colours, and it was important - so very important - that she was here, and this was her country. The very soul of the wild was alive and appealing, and appealing in the way that a lover appeals when they ask for nothing, but in asking for nothing, ask for so much, and can’t be refused. If I were in love with the Goddess before, that were a theory, and this was total devotion. She had no need of human eyes or human form for her faerie form and her faerie love were all about the Earth and the trees and all the wild seemed to be dripping with love’.
Well it was clear that this was the time for the rite, so as soon as I got back I went straight out into the fields and the rain, first taking a twig from the Elder Tree in the garden, and thence through the long wet grass of Rhaeadr, down along the stream bank until I came to the Hawthorn Tree that grows over the stream, and she was laden with berries. I loved her, and I took a red berry in my right hand, and the elder twig was in my left, and I came back along the stream, crossed over the waterfall into Dwy Nant and went into the stones, after taking my boots off. I held the Elder and the May together, and then I dug a hole in the centre of the stone circle with my left hand and I cursed Bob for seven years with the loneliness and misery of the Goddess he plundered, and I cursed him to destruction if ever he came to this sacred place before seven years were gone, and I buried the curse with the Elder twig, pushed into the Earth with my left hand. Then with the Hawthorn berry still in my right hand, I kissed it. And when I kissed her, I was immediately overcome with tears of grief and sobbing and love and could do nothing but think of Mab and her love, and when the mood passed I was ready to put her berry into the Earth with the Elder twig, but when I tried, again I was overwhelmed with tears and deep sobbing, and I tried many times, and could not part from Mab. It was exceedingly sad, but exceedingly holy, and if it’s possible to be stricken with grief and ecstatic happiness and love at the same time, I was stricken with all of these. At length, I buried her seed in the centre of the ring of stones so that she would grow whole again from the wound she had suffered from the one who had plundered her.
Then I came indoors, and later, when we had eaten, I told people that I had done all I need to do with respect to Mab and he who plundered her. When it grew dark, Pat went out, and then Chris, and after a time, Kevin went out - but Kevin didn’t go to curse. Pat too saw a rainbow, like an arch of silver in the dark over Dwy Nant. Kevin met only the Hag and saw nothing. I’ll say nothing of Chris.
Do you remember the story of Gawain and the Hag? In this darkest rite of the year, I pledged myself to do a dark deed. I did that, and I planted a berry. And my only companion was Mab, and pitiful as she was from the wound of her defiler, even so, there was love and beauty and passion as wide as the sky and as deep as the ferns. Even in her pain she was giving so much, and I was trying not to take anything from her.
I know what it is to be wiccan now. Wiccan is having no choice.
Chris: I can remember very little of the events leading up to Sunday night; only that he who was to have borne the horns had deserted us, and those of us who had come were divided, so that eventually we went out alone, each to meet the Dark One in their own way.
I did not go, as I normally would have done, to the circle of stones in Dwy Nant, but followed instead the road that runs up the valley eventually to disappear in the hills beyond, the same path I had taken once before, six months earlier. It was a cold wet night, but there was sufficient moonlight diffused through the rain and clouds to light the way ahead. At first dense shadowy trees enfold the road, but after a while there is a gate and here it emerges from this tunnel to begin its upward climb toward the mountains. I called then upon Maghu to accompany me on this lonely road, and She came, and the rain turned to hail and tore at my face, and cut deep into my very soul, and a cold cruel moon leered down upon me for a moment before She drew the clouds about Her again.
As I reached the pine woods near the top of the hill the rain stopped, and instead there was a clear, expectant magic in the air. I could hear the voices of a myriad little streams and brooks trickling down the hillside to soak the valley below, a sparkling silvery faerie song bringing gladness where a moment before had been emptiness and fear. The moon came out again, but now She was Enchantress and not Hag. The track ahead became so waterlogged it was like a lake, and I was reminded of those fearful dreams of water, mud and darkness that pressage the rising of the unconscious into consciousness. Looking back, I keep thinking of that curious phrase, “the lead of the water region...”
As I approached the end of this track, I’m still not sure exactly when it happened, there appeared in the sky ahead of me a great arch of silver light, so that it seemed a gateway had opened between this and some other world. And at the end of the track a gateway standing in a large pool of still water and lit by this strange rainbow of moonsilver reminded me of a dream I’d had at Samhain three years earlier when I’d first visited Selene; and of what happened here I cannot write, but my heart was gladdened by it; so that it was not the Hag I met in the end that night of Samhain beneath a waning moon.
Thus was the Samhain Rite of the Broken Pledge and what we did in the wake of sacrilege as we reported it a year later. But even at the time, just after the rite I wrote to every member of the Movement as follows:
To the Pagan Movement
For you, Mab, beloved, who were so cruelly plundered
To All Members, Affiliates, and those who are waiting,
Bob Crossman, who is hateful, broke his tryst with the Goddess. For seven years he’ll look into her hollow eyes and see her grief and the pain she suffers. For seven years he’ll know her loss and her emptiness. In the May she gave him so much of love and lust and passion as wide as the sky, and he pledged himself to be with her in her pain and her loneliness. But he broke his pledge and left her alone, brought her to a false tryst while he hid himself in Birmingham away from her. He plunderd her when she so tenderly gave herself to his lust, and as a coward he has left her bereft in the anguish of her need and the Winter’s cold. More than that. He lied to her. He cheated her. He desecrated her shrine and defiled her. Most cruelly and pitilessly he pledged to her what he did not give; she gave to him in her loveliness; he withheld from her in her greatest need, and caused her a greater wound. Poor Mab! How she has suffered! The tears that have flown on her lovely shrine for the pain she bore! I went into her shrine to do what had to be done, to bear the pain of the plundered Goddess, the hate and the vengeance of the Cailleach, and there was nothing I left undone that I could do for the Goddess. And my only companion there was Mab, so beautiful and so loving. Even in the depth of her pain, and in the agony of her loss, she was giving so much, and I was trying so hard not to take anything from her. More I won’t say, for that would be profane in a place such as this, and too many would see metaphor where there was none. But the Goddess’ heart was near to broken, and mine near to breaking for her sorrow and her loss. I wept for her, deep and long, and the rain fell so softly while I did what I did to help make her whole again.
At Bealtaine Bob, who has so grievously wounded the Goddess, pledged himself to be with her, here, at Samhain, and Terry, Pat, Betty and myself approved the record of his pledge as a true and accurate report. There was no objection raised until late September, after four months, when Bob, who defiled the Goddess, raised his very first objection, and which is therefore a lie born of fear. He was answered, but gave no public reply, and only a delayed private reply, and like a coward kept his head low until the time had flown away lest he be shown to be a coward, a liar, and a cheat while yet there remained time to keep his pledge with the Goddess he so mercilessly plundered. He told Frank, a member of his group, that he had pledged himself to come only “if he could”. And in this he shows himself to be a liar and a coward, for Greg and Chris, who were here at Samhain, both asserted his pledge to have been absolute, and we all remembered it as absolute, as the report also records it. Moreover, Bob who defiled the Goddess, and Chris were both in earnest to be with the Goddess in her May passion, and in such a case as this, would a meeting accept a conditional pledge from one of the contestants to her passion in place of the other’s absolute pledge? Assuredly not. And Chris was stricken with remorse for deferring to Bob and letting him have his way, and thus giving the Goddess to a false lover, for Chris knew in his heart that Bob swore a false pledge. Greg knew too, and Pat, and I. But we could not say, for he swore his pledge with the Goddess; to say “liar” then and there would be obscene. Now why does the defiler lie to his friends, to his so-called coven people? He lies to try to hide the shame of his deed, his pitiless plunder of the Goddess who loved him and gave herself to his lust and took him into her cunt with tender passion and longing. By the remorse that Chris felt for the Goddess’ pain and his need to atone to her at Samhain, and by the truth and honesty of the people who bore witness to the pledge, he has lied to the Goddess and cheated her, and he has lied to those he calls his friends and fellow witches.
What has he offered in his defence? He has offered nothing. He has written only privately and belatedly and objects to publication of his writing. Is he looking for the defence that he hasn’t been allowed defence? Or is he simply delaying until it is too late? He has been reminded a long time ago, and repeatedly warned, but has lain low like a coward and one who has no defence of honour. He has had his right of reply, and has no reply to give that will show his lies to be other than lies, and his desecration of the Goddess to be other than desecration of her - our poor, beloved Mab who gave him all, and found only a coward’s and a cheat’s empty place when she came back to his trysted place in her hour of greatest need.
What sort of a wretch, a coward, and a cheat is this man who is now husband to Terry who must bear his accursed name, and high priest to her coven? This can be no coven, and he no high priest who takes from the Goddess in the May and deserts her in her greatest need. And what of the past efforts of this high priest?
At Lughnasadh in 1972, we drove 14 miles to meet him at the station and he wasn’t there. He had missed the train, and didn’t come. Of course, we can forgive him this. But he missed Lughnasadh last year too, and here’s what he wrote to another on 21 July 1973:
“I’ve a bit of a problem about 11th., on that day as it turns out, I’m
due to collect a pedigree Burmese kitten that’s booked for me, when
the breeder gave me the date, the clash didn’t occur straight away, now
it’s all arranged, the kitten’s a queen, I intend to breed from her."
That’s not so easy to ignore. Nor is the following, and I quote from two letters:
“(10 October 1972): ... we plan to get engaged on my birthday, the 24th
December next, that tells you about the progress of my relationship
with Renee. There is a slight problem here, Renee accepts my paganism
as I think I’ve previously said, but she’s not happy with me going to
“(5 November 1972): I can’t be with you for the coming rite of Samhein,
I very much doubt whether I’ll be able to actively participate in the
rites of the movement again.”
Thus, three times, and for as many reasons, this defiler of the Goddess forsakes a rite, and in the last quoted case, he was even prepared effectively to amputate his paganism for his lust for an antipagan woman. Is this a man to trust? As a high priest? As an honest pagan even? It would seem his paganism goes no deeper than the pendant he wears around his neck where all might see it. He missed a train; he forsook one rite deliberately for a breeding interest he would not postpone, and he was prepared to forsake all rites of the future for the cunt of an antipagan woman. So what was the interest of this so-called high priest of the “wicca” in the May rite, but the cunt of the pagan priestess he has captured and imprisoned for his wife. These things speak of his commitment; they might well have rested in the past, but that he so ruthlessly and without remorse brought such pain and suffering to Mab the beautiful, our Queen, our most loved, and our Goddess. He’s a liar, a cheat, a coward, a defiler, a deceiver. For all these we could forgive him. But for the pain and the grief he has caused to our Goddess, for the tears in her eyes, for her empty hands, for that deep, aching sadness that is so close to enchanting beauty, but so painful and such agony to the heart - for this, he must know the pain he has caused her.
Now, where are the knights and lovers of Mab, our Queen? Who will come to her aid in her direst need? Who, in truth, will work the dark deed that needs to be done for her in her ugliness so that she will smile and laugh and bewitch again in the May? Do what you will, but do it before the Moon has wasted away, and she is waning fast. Tell me what you have done when you have done it so that I know who is a true lover of Mab and will fight for her as a true knight of the Faerie Queen. I promise, by the love of Mab, that I’ll burn your note when I’veread it and no record will remain but in memory. Put your name on a separate slip of paper if your deed is dark. Don’t shirk a black deed if you are true, for in her pain, she is most pitiful.
For Mab, our dear One.
Response to that letter was swift and the next newsletter contained a number of affirmations:
Anonymous: To whom is DOES concern: The deed is done, the words are spoken, the song is sung... There are those of us, even in the New World, who know and love the goddess... May these words, and the deed we’ve done act as salve on the wounds which have been inflicted on her by her Betrayer; may they soothe her, and turn this season into a time of healing... My fervent wish is that the sun will return to her someday, that the sap will again rise in the trees and that the earth, too, will heal and again be covered with her green joy: may she smile again soon.
(sh-h-h... softly now: we love you, Mother of all things from her children everywhere)
George: To Tony - who is beloved of Mab. I too grieve at deception, and defilers of an oath. What punishment shall be dealt out by the Goddess, through all who have oneness with Her? There is no greater punishment than to know true guilt. What would you have this defiler suffer, that is more than the tears of the Goddess? What anguish is greater than to be bathed in the tears of the Goddess, throughout this Aquarian Age, of his life, until he redeems himself in another age. Do not hate my good Pagans, for hatred is self-destructrive. So shall the defiler be defiled, and the breaker of solemn oaths be broken unto himself. None shall trust him, and only defilers shall follow him, and destroy themselves. In their actions for power, shall burn themselves out, and shall be drowned in the tears of time itself until they are washed clean.....
Colin: Bob is accursed for he deceives himself. Aye, those who made a true pledge with She who gave her love at Bealtaine, they knew where to be, come Samhain. One, who was deceitful, “could” not be there, and may he curse himself for making such pain and grief. He defiled her when She gave, and hid from her at Samhain; and if he did these things knowingly - he deceives himself to believe he’ll not suffer the hate and vengeance of the Cailleach. And if he knows NOT (is it possible?) then he deceives himself that he is a pagan; and is doubly curst.
I know Mab loves you AS you do love her, and more than that I cannot tell, but I think She must love Chris and heal his remorse. And what of Terry - in whatway is she a “wife”? (I cannot know for I am ignorant) But may she and you, and Pat, and Chris, and Betty, and Greg, and - indeed any who may be true lovers of your beloved Queen - have done whatever needs to be done as the Moon is your guide.
Bob will surely know the hag on the cold dark side of the moon in her ugliness before ever he fucks the maid again. Winter’s darkness and cold come first.
Jan N: Dear Tony - As I read your letter, I became chilled with the most god-awful desolation.... strictly deja-vu! I was there. It was my body that had been used and abandoned with empty promises. My heart is breaking with loneliness and grief. I am hurting and empty. A terrible black cloud had enveloped me, and I can’t stop crying. I am the Lady, and She is me. My lover has proved false, and I am curled into a fetal ball of pain. There is no one here to hold me! I am alone.... I hurt..... I hurt so much......
Tony, this being finished quite some time after that first paragraph..... I am back to myself after an experience like no other.... I was shattered completely, I was unable to function. Simply sat curled into an agonizing, quivering mass of anguish! And now, I am entirely dis-composed. I truly don’t know what to do. But I thank you for writing, because it helps to know that you care. I cannot think just now of what I should do, but I add my emotions to yours, and may they increase in intensity for every mile they travel.
Pat: I will not join with Bob, who defiled the Goddess, in any act of magic or worship until seven years have passed, and nor with any who will not also shun him in their magic and worship for the pain and sorrow he brought to our beloved Mab. I give my pledge in the name of Maghu.
Tony: For what Bob, who is hateful, did to our beloved Mab, for seven years I will not associate with him in magic or in worship, and nor with anyone who will so associate with him unless they break that association, and this I pledge in the name of Maghu.
I wrote to every member, affiliate and those who are having newsletters in lieu of journals on 8 November for reasons which need no further explanation than I wrote in that letter. It was not a newsletter, but a personal letter, paid for entirely by Selene, including its postage. We have taken nothing from the Pagan Movement; out of our own resources we have given this little for Mab for, in her faerie love, she gave so much and was so pitilessly cheated.
The new moon rides upon a scene of desolation and the debris of an aborted summer, and our thoughts go back to Bealtaine and the broken maypole, and the May King who defiled the Goddess and will not rise again at Yule. The cows have gone into cover for the winter and the ponies have come down from the mountains of Brycheiniog. The land is sodden and the grasses beaten down; the dark nights have drenched the land and the clear nights have brought the frost. Orion rides high over the beech trees with his dogs at his heels and far over the southern stream, the baleful eye of Saturn moves slowly in the darkness towards the twins.
But the leaden grey and thunder blue of the Samhain sky that hangs like a shadow over the naked trees is softened in the west where Mab, disconsolate in her sorrow, looks for her lover of the greenferns; and where the pale silver crescent of the first moon of Samhain sinks in the west, the sky is strewn with her faerie draperies of golden hues and yellow, the green skies of distant mist, and the rosy glows of fearie love. But her smiles and her laughter have set with the sun, and her tears have washed them all away.
And though it was not reported until Samhain in Newsletter 48, George wrote as follows:
Mab’s hair was a banner of radiant rainbows.
The colours were wild and mystic deep
And sunbursts were thoughts for his arrows
As the meadows passed marching at his feet.
The woods were in silence, no shouting or laughter.
Plucking twig and berry as you passed by
You heard the piping and follow after
I hear the rain; see the rainbow sky.
Twig and berry and mind in wonder,
Striding to circle faster and faster,
Sadness greets you with murmur of thunder,
Mab holds you in sorrow and laughter.
Then as I pass o’er the mountains with sunset waning,
The gifts I saw you bury there.
With twig and berry I saw you taming
The wrath of winter, the fury of air.
Now here’s what Bob himself contributed to Newsletter 35 following his desertion of Samhain:
Bob: Recent experience has shown me that there are two ways in which one becomes a vehicle for a god during a meeting to celebrate a rite, both involve having an affinity for the god. One is whereby you can offer yourself to the god by agreeing to take a kachina, the other is when the god enters you without invitation, this isn’t as simple as stated, but it is an experience you cannot describe easily to anyone else, it has to be experienced personally.
This happened last Bealtaine at Selene, thus when Tony was asking Chris and myself interminable and pointless questions, the Horned God within me grew more angry with each question, ‘twas not me who was answering, those who really know me would recognise this by the change in voice, its gruffness and abruptness, brooking no opposition. Chris stood no chance, for the god was there, within me, yet only Terry recognised this, though later one other agreed that he could not understand the tactics that lay behind the questioning of Chris and myself. Later that Saturday Tony admitted to me that he was pleased that I was carrying the kachina. (Sorry, Chris, but it’s the truth).
One who has never worn a kachina cannot write about what actually happens under the kachina, only put forward theories or form hypotheses; nor can he dictate to one who has had personal experience of the kachina. Tony has yet to wear a kachina, not only have I done so and can thus speak from experience (as previously stated) but I have also been in the presence of the Four Royal Sons of Horus - see Words of Power’ (infra.)
As well as my obligations in carrying the Horns for P.M. this year, there were also people here in Birmingham to consider and the Horns couldn’t be in two places for the same rite, even though the dates were different. I was carrying the Horns, it was up to me to decide where they would meet the Dark One, for wherever the Horns were, she would be. The meeting took place on a wooded hill top on the outskirts of Birmingham last Saturday the 9th.
How many of you will have been in the position when, after giving your word, you found that you could no longer keep it, yet the other party attempted to keep you bound by it, even going to the extreme of saying that your word was a pledge made under different circumstances to that which, in fact, it was; further you knew that they were trying to force you into a position from which you could not retreat, because they had taken an exception to you!
As most of us know there are certain unwritten laws of Karma. At the end of a life span at the weighing of the heart, all good that has been done will be weighed for you, all evil against you. One of these unwritten laws is that you do not work evil against any man, no matter what they have done, should you do so, no matter what the reason, then you have a very heavy karmic debt to pay, should you further incite others to work evil with you, then that debt is increased. All who work evil at the instigation of another will also incur a karmic debt, though the instigator carries the heavier one.
In a recent circular, members have been asked to show themselves as true knights of Mabh, by working evil against a fellow member. Do you think the Goddess will smile on you for such an action?
One of our foremost members has taken the first steps along the Left Hand Path, do not follow him, use your energies, not for working evil against me but to bring him back, help him to cast off the dark shadow that engulfs him, eating his heart, corroding his soul.
I am human and have erred, my debt will be paid. Help bring him to return before he tumbles over the abyss.
Bob was answered by myself in Newsletter 36 on 17 December, and by Greg in the following Newsletter on 4 February. Here they are, beginning with Greg’s:
Greg in PMN37: Bob, as one who has carried a kachina at PM rites I’d like to reply to your comments under this heading in N35. I don’t think you are in a position to say whether or not Tony has carried a kachina but whether he has or not he has certainly created the kachinas which are taken at PM rites. He has, almost singlehandedly, created the form and clarified the purpose of practically all the kachinas taken by you, me and others at Selene.
On Bealtaine in particular, I don’t think anyone is denying that the god was with you. That is what makes your promise all the more significant. It wasn’t an empty rite with convenience factors built in, and to try to build them into your obligations (which you say you recognise) is wrong. Isn’t it?
Tony in PMN36: Bob (You will know the bitter tears of the Goddess you plundered), you speak with a forked tongue and there is arrogance, deceit, error of fact, distortion and cruelty in what you have written in N35, and beyond all these is blasphemy. Isn’t it enough that you carry into the darkness with you for seven long years the pain of the plundered Goddess without incurring the anger of the Horned God by calling him a coward or a failure? I’ll show you truth where you show us lies, and I’ll give you opportunity to rectify your crime of blasphemy before I do what, if you do not rectify it, will be necessary to do. I’ll come straight to the point. Here are your words from N35:
Page 15: “... when Tony was asking Chris and myself interminable and
pointless questions, the Horned God within me grew more
angry with each question, ‘twas not me who was answering... the god
was there, within me, yet only Terry recognised this...”
Page 18: “How many of you will have been in the position when, after
giving your word, you found you could no longer keep it...”
You wrote both those pieces. If it was the god within you and not yourself who was speaking, then it was the god’s word that was given and the god who did not keep his pledge. And if you say this, you are damned by the Horns. But if it was your own word that was given, then your claim that the god was speaking (... ‘Twas not me who was answering...”) is untrue, and you are a liar. Now, Speak Cowardly One, and tell us whether it is lies or blasphemy you bring in your greedy hands to the people who hold the gods in truth, or let your silence condemn you for the enormity of the unutterable. (Terry, it would be better if you spoke for yourself in this for either your treacherous husband lies, or you are damned with him for what he says of the hollow words of the Horned God).
Page 18: “I was carrying the Horns, it was up to me to decide where
they would meet the Dark One, for wherever the Horns were, she would be.”
Do you demand that the Hag do your bidding? What arrogance is this that follows in the train of your betrayal of the tryst you made with her? Do you promise her the one place when you ask of her, but dictate another when she has given? Do you set a snare for the Hag? You’re a fool, and a damnably arrogant fool to think you can cheat the Goddess, to have the heart to cheat her, and to think youcan order her to the place that was not pledged and deny her the place that was. You offered her the one place out of all others; because you cheated her and withheld that one place, she will have all others.
Page 18: “... yet the other party attempted to keep you bound to it,
even going to the extreme of saying that your word was a
pledge made under different circumstances to that which, in fact, it
was; further you knew that they were trying to force you into a position
from which you could not retreat, because they had taken an exception
Most of that is too unspecific to convey meaning, but your final two points are grossly mistaken. I’ll reply to your statement about forcing a position of retreat later, but now I’ll show you that your final supposition is false, and that in fact, I acted for you in love, not only when I helped you to carry the kachina when, at Bealtaine, you could otherwise not, but in subsequent events. I’ll quote from my letters to other people. First, here’s a lengthy quote from a letter I wrote to Greg, but bound him not to disclose to you:
Tony to Greg 13 October: “Regarding Bob, he took upon himself the role of the Horned God at Bealtaine, and promised to meet the Hag at an agreed place at Samhain - not a year hence (which is garbled) but a half year hence. His mode at Bealtaine was very assertive and egocentric. The sacrifice demanded of him is his ego. But it is his false ego - which he doesn’t know. It’s the real thing behind the myth of Gawain and the Green Knight, which itself was corrupted from the story of Cu Chulainn, and which gave rise to the practice of knighting by laying on of the sword - flatside downwards.
The knight trusts the Queen who wields the sword and pledges all to her his life. His death is accepted, but it’s his fears which are killed. He is reborn of the Earth-mother at Yule, no longer the Horned God, but the Sun - no longer with a false ego but a true ego. So it’s pretty much initiation, and this is what Bob set in motion - though neither he nor anyone else knew it when he did it. He’s got to confront the horror. If he succeeds, he’ll be worthy of respect. If he fails, he’ll merit contempt. He made the dichotomy so sharp at Bealtaine.
I’ll publish the story (of Cu Chulainn) in the next newsletter and he might know what it means. But we can’t - mustn’t - tell him. Not until after Samhain.”
You will see from this piece and its date that I had taken no “exception” to you whatever. If you had succeeded, you would have earned my respect and the respect of all pagans; if you failed you would earn my contempt and the contempt of all true knights and ladies of the Green. You may say, if you wish, that I had no attitude on this piece of evidence since it depended so utterly on the outcome. Certainly you can’t claim that I took an “exception” to you. I further wrote that it wasn’t my fault that you made the issue so absolute by your mode of action at Bealtaine. If that piece is utterly neutral, now I’ll show you what I did for you in love. When I first wrote of the Samhain rite and invited people to come, I so worded it as to serve as a gentle reminder to yourself of the pledge you made, and I gave you plenty of time. When you wrote, after much delay, I countered your arguments lest you deceive yourself. Then I put such things in the newsletters as would tell your heart of the road whereon your duty lay, and I warned you lest you fail in the pledge you made. I couldn’t tell you directly of the path you trod because to do so would be to steal from you the prize that w aited at the end of your quest. In love I withheld this from you, but I wrote a letter to Michael. Here’s the relevant quote:
Tony to Michael 19 October: “I wonder if you could provide a story?
In particular - well, I’ve been trying to write one and haven’t managed it. It’s like this. Bob, as you know,has got cold feet and, as a consequence, is about to go back on a pledge and thereby damn himself. So a story would help... It’s a Gawain and the Green Knight’ theme... I wonder if you could manage it.”
I told Michael the bare bones of the story, but all the beauty is his, as well as the detail and the structure. I didn’t tell him enough to implicate him against his (possible) conscience in any act of mine or others. I told him only the bit I’ve quoted above. Now you will see from this that I was intent in helping you, and as intent is not robbing you of the prize by telling you what Gawain earned for his love. It may be that as you changed your address and hadn’t notified the Movement, you didn’t receive it in time, and if so, your negligence has served to withhold from you what is not yours by right to have. But, out of love, I tried to help you. And if you need further evidence of my love, here’s a quote from my letter to Greg:
Tony to Greg 25 October: “I’ll warn him in N34 - but he might not receive it. Even if he does, he might not be able to interpret. There would be no point in writing to him because he’d think I was trying to manipulate him. I’d rather he didn’t fail; but no one can meet the Hag for him.”
That was part of a letter whose first paragraph I’ll also quote together with a letter in reply to Frank. I’ll quote the letter first:
Tony to Frank (and others): “If Bob does in fact not keep his tryst at the place he pledged, I will never again associate with him in worship or in magic, and nor with anyone who does so associate with him. That would, I suppose, split the Movement.
And if the Hag were to do this I would not even wish it otherwise for she’ll destroy those who sought to deceive her, to stand against her, to withhold from her, and those who associate with those who desecrate her.”
Tony to Greg 25 October: “If you’re in contact with Bob, I think it would be a good idea to let him know that, as far as I’m concerned at least, if he breaks his pledge with the Goddess, it’ll amount to excommunication. That is, I would never relate with him in a devotional or magical context again and nor with any who would so relate with him. I suppose that would split the Movement (and I don’t know in what way). I feel he ought to know this.
But I don’t feel he ought to know anything else.”
As you are now aware, I have substituted seven years for an eternity, which I mention for accuracy. Your act of defilement may well split the Movement, but here’s why I wanted you to know it. I could see that you were afraid and it seemed to me likely that you were going to break your pledge. I could see that you shrank from giving to the Hag what is hers, which is your false ego. I could see further that your very evasion and exposure of your evasion rendered it ever more difficult for you. So I mentioned the implications for the Movement to people who could themselves mention it to you so that, had you chosen, you could have said you had changed your mind for the sake of the Movement, and thus not suffer the fall you could not contemplate. It wouldn’t have given the prize of all prizes, but neither would it have cast you in the despised form of a betrayer and plunderer of the Goddess. In love, I offered you a way off the path, and if not with honour, at least without dishonour.
I worked hard for you to help you not to fail. Your charge that I took “exception” to you arises out of your own blindness to what was done. It was not the empty love of words that I offered you, but the love of works done, and the love that tried to help you on the path you set yourself by your actions at the rite of the May.
Now I’ll reply to your charge that I was “trying to force you into a position from which you could not retreat”, which goes together with your saying “... when Tony was asking Chris and myself interminable and pointless questions...” The May rite hasn’t yet been published and I don’t want to preempt it as this is no time for speaking of the May. But I’ll give the relevant facts. When we were seated in the circle, I asked who wanted to bear the kachina of Brirn. You said “I’ll do Brirn.” Those are your actual words. I knew that Chris had also set his heart on it, though he immediately deferred to you. I could see that Chris wasn’t able to state his wishes because of his desire to let you have your way. So I changed the subject and we chose the kachina of the Sun. When we returned to the subject, I asked again, and you again, before Chris could say a word, said, in a rude way, “I thought I was doing Brirn.” Those too were your actual words. Again you cut across Chris’ means of expression. I could see that Chris, who was gentle, would stand no chance against you who were a bully. So I asked you what you describe as “interminable” and “pointless” questions. The questions were few and very much to the point. I asked both of you to declare your heart as though the other were not there, and then I asked you both if you wanted to bear the horns. Then if you were both keen. Then if you were both very keen. It was only in this way that I could get Chris a means to express his heart. You were both, in this, equal all the way. So I asked you both if you would be here again at Samhain when the Cailleach would strip the clothes from your back as the leaves from the trees, and I described the rite of Samhain to you both. You both said you would, and your own one word was “yes”. At that stage, there was nothing more to be done. I allowed Chris to defer to you, and this he did immediately. Thus I did not force you into a position from which you could not retreat, and nor did I ask questions which were “interminable” or “pointless”. Out of love of Chris, I stood out for him against a bully so that in the end when he gave way, we all knew that he gave way to you and that you took from him without a thought of him. It was out of love of Chris I acted, as it was out of love for you that I tried, first to keep you to the path you set yourself upon, and then to offer you a way off when your heart failed you.
But now I come to a particularly nasty bit of cruelty, and I’ll quote:
Page 15: “Later that Saturday Tony admitted to me that he was
pleased that I was carrying the kachina. (Sorry, Chris, but it’s the truth.)”
Yes indeed it’s the truth, but what a foul use you make of it! Your expression of sorrow to Chris has the dull ring of hypocrisy about it and when coupled with your use of the word “admit”, seems intended to imply that I thought you better able to bear the horns than Chris, and thus Chris will be hurt because I think this ill of him. But how you’ve misunderstood! How you’ve turned love into hate! At the time of Bealtaine you and Terry were betrothed and to consummate your union as Queen of the May and King of the Woods at the rite of the May would be a beautiful thing to do. And further you had set your heart on it whereas Chris was able to give over to you. So I was glad indeed, and glad at heart, that you had your heart’s desire, and that your union with Terry would be blessed with the May. It was not any doubt of Chris that made me glad for you; it was love for you and love for Terry. And now look what you’ve done with that love and desecrated the gift that was placed in your hands! You callous, unseeing brute! And I’ll say more on this in another connection, which is this, and I’ll quote again:
Page 15: “... the Horned God within me grew more angry with each
question, ‘twas not me who was answering, those who really
know me would recognise this by the change of voice, its gruffness and
abruptness, brooking no opposition. Chris stood no chance, for the
god was there, within me...”
If you remember, while you snatched the Horns from Chris on the Friday night and Pat gave Terry the Moon kachina out of love, next morning you told me at a late hour that Terry found herself unable to go ahead, and you too were unable to bear the horns, and this meant that Pat and Chris were likely to have to make preparation at almost no notice at all. Now if what you say about the God in the above quote is true, how does it come about that you find yourself unable to function on the morning of the rite? Had your brusqueness and bravado deserted you? Did it depend only carnally on your wife and not on the kachina of the May rite? Had this God which “brooks no opposition” funked it? There’s a lie somewhere here, isn’t there?
Now as you know, I went into the field to Terry and I invoked our beloved Mab for her, for it would be a sad thing if Terry failed in what she had set her heart on doing. As Pat’s love for Terry gave her the kachina of the May Queen, so my love for her led me to invoke the Goddess for her where she could not, and when I had done so, Terry was able to bear the May kachina, and you were again able to bear the horns. Do you see love here? You did, for you expressed it. And I joined your hands, and I was glad for you both. But where was the God who brooked no opposition and gave you the gruffness of voice that others call rudeness? It’s arrogance, isn’t it? And so is this:
Page 15: “One who has never worn a kachina cannot write about what
actually happens under the kachina, only put forward theories or form hypotheses; nor can he dictate to one who has had personal experience of the kachina. Tony has yet to wear a kachina, not only have I done so...”
Kachinas are not “worn”. You never used the word until you got it from me. You never knew what to do in a rite until I told you. At the Midsummer rite, you spent your time with your nose stuck in a book about boats when you should have been helping to create what had to be created, and you left me to carry the whole rite. You don’t know what I’ve done in the wild rites of the Moon, and when I recall your remark about another Samhain rite which you would attend “weather permitting”, it’s clear you have a poor knowledge and little real experience of the kachina. Do you become rain? Do you fly with the wind? Do you stand naked in the midnight Moon and become the cold that lies all about? You’ve spoken my words, enacted my images, lived my visions - and now defiled my Goddess, and even presume to “wear” my God! Your arrogance knows no bounds and runs a close race with your ignorance. It’s true I have never borne the kachina of the god at a rite of the Movement. At first it was because I created the rite, and it was necessary for others to give it form; and later it has been because I have always deferred to another. Isn’t it strange that the horns that I fixed to a frame I have never worn, but have given them as the occasion was, to others, all of whom have never fashioned a set of horns of their own - and yourself included.
Now I’ll refer to your contribution headed Karma’. Briefly, you appear not to understand the law, and secondly you appear to harbour beliefs, and beliefs are of no concern to one who looks for the truth. But I’ll quote you alongside Terry:>
Bob, N35:20: One of our foremost || Terry, N24:4: Learn to love, learn
members has taken the || to hate, learn to live,
first steps along the Left Hand Path, || learn to die, learn to be cruel, learn
do not follow him, use your energies, || to be kind, learn to laugh, learn to
not for working evil against me but to || cry and, like Ceridwen, learn to be
bring him back, help him to cast off || all in everlastingness and nothing
the dark shadow that engulfs him, || in eternity.
eating his heart, corroding his soul. ||
Ask Terry what she means, Bob, because she knows a lot more than you know, and she might be able to show you. When you have learnt more deeply of the laws of karma, you will understand the deed you have done which has brought so much pain to the Goddess we love. And if you see only evil on the left hand path - and so you do - this is because you are not an initiate. In that I tried to help you and you failed, and in your lying and your cheating, you showed contempt for the Goddess and all those gathered together in her worship.
I will say one thing for you. You say “I am human and have erred.” And you have said it in the first Moon after Samhain. It’s so little to offer the Goddess for what you done with her, but little is better than nothing for it will dry one tear from those eyes which looked with love and longing on the lecherous cheat who defrauded her.>
Bob made no reply to those criticisms and in fact offered no further contributions to newsletters, but in the ballot of 25 February 1975 concerning some organisational matters and purchase of a copier, he cast some extraordinary votes, and in Newsletter 39 I commented as follows:
Tony, N39 15 April: In the ballot of 25 February, Bob, you have shown
yourself to be wholly addicted to obstruction. You have conspicuously declared yourself at odds with most of the voting Movement on many of the issues and at odds with the whole of the voting Movement on no less than six issues. Those were not rational votes you cast but instruments of intended thorough-going obstruction which speak rather of your frenzy than of reason. More particularly, your disagreement with purchase of a copier coupled with your placing the ceiling for such a purchase as high as 150 is not the act of an ordered mind. It has been said that: “Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.” Whether that is evidence of madness or not, I leave you to consider. Whether the gods have cause to wish to destroy you, that I don’t presume to know. But that you used the Goddess most foully, and that you are now acting most strangely, are two facts which are not matters of opinion.
So far as I know, no one went so far as to work for your destruction or to bring madness upon you for your abuse of the Goddess’ passion and trust (though, in truth, I haven’t enquired so closely). But I remind you here that, subsequent to your act of rape and desertion, you had the temerity to call the Horned God a liar.
“The wheels of the gods grind slowly, but they exceedingly grind small.” Surely, if there remains time, a wiser course would be one of atonement?
Bob soon dropped out of the Movement, but the repercussions of his deed ran wide and deep and with devastating effect. With Newsletter 36 we issued a ballot whose closing date was 31 December 1974, and whose result was announced in Newsletter 37 on 4 February 1975:
“ That because Bob Crossman withheld from the Goddess at Samhain what
what he had promised at Bealtaine to give her at Samhain, no meeting
for magic or for worship at which Bob Crossman is present and is not
turned away forthwith will be deemed a meeting of the Pagan Movement
until he atone to the Goddess in Samhain 1981 at the place and the
time decided by the Movement for the rite of Samhain.”
The proposition was approved with 11 in favour, but 5 opposed, 1 abstained and many failed to return ballot papers. Of the six who didn’t approve, five were at the time personal friends or asociates of Bob. In the same newsletter I wrote as follows:
Tony: Bob Crossman, who plundered the Goddess, is banned for seven years.
Others have vowed not to associate with him or with any who would so associate with him, in magic or in worship. So a meeting is no longer open. Invitations can be extended only to those who are prepared to swear an oath of dissociation for seven years from the plunderer. If others wish to hold meetings on another basis, then those others are free to do so. Selene has given her pledge in the name of Maghu, and will never go back on this. So for seven years, our invitation is extended only to those who swear they will not engage in magic or in worship with the one who so cruelly plundered the Goddess until he atone to her in Samhain 1981 as required. But of those who are thus sworn to the Goddess, you are most welcome.”
It became necessary then to draw up a covenant, and this was done straight away and everyone hereafter was invited or urged to make their commitment. Here’s the form of the covenant which has stood since February 1975 until 14 November 1981:
“ I promise that, because Bob Crossman withheld from the Goddess at
Samhain what he promised at Bealtaine to give her at Samhain, I will
not meet with him for magic or for worship until he atone to the
Goddess in Samhain 1981 at the place and the time decided by the
Movement for the rite of Samhain.”
A further ballot was needed and it arose in this way, as recorded in Newsletter 39:
Tony: Here’s something I never thought to have to write and which is going to
compel us to a decision that many of us would not wish to have to make, but yet a decision must be made. There can hardly be a member now who is not aware that, in the circle of the May, Bob Crossman made tryst with the Goddess to be with her in the pain of her Winter sorrow. There in the May, with fire in his breast and lust in his loins, he pledged the time and he pledged the place, and he made tryst to be here in cold November when the Cailleach would strip the clothes from his back as the leaves from the trees. And there can hardly be a member who does not know that he broke that tryst and left the Goddess who took him so tenderly to her cunt in the May to search in her sorrow in the pain and desolation of an empty tryst. And nor did he lack the support of others who reminded him, warned him, and told him such things as would speak to his soul. He closed his ears to the endeavours of all and his heart to the Goddess’ pain. He went to a false place that was not pledged in a time that was not trysted and made play with his friends of the rite he forsook. So he lied in the May; he lied to us later or he said the Horned God was a liar, and he lied about it to those with whom he supposes to work in a coven. For his rape and desertion of the Goddess we have banned him from any meeting of the Movement until he atone with her in Samhain with seven years of her desolation in his heart.
But now Terry reports a rite of Imbolc and while she names only herself as taking part and another because he wasn’t, we can be sure that the Pagan Movement is here reporting the activities, in magic or in worship, of he who so greedily used the Goddess in his lust and so callously deserted her in her need. Surely we do no service to the Goddess, give no salve to her wound, no ease to her pain or joy to her heart by publishing the acts of her plunderer, and acts by which, scarce any time ago, he brought her such grief and such longing unfulfilled? Surely this is sadistic?
Terry writes: “... and everyone crossed the threshold with Perfect Love and Perfect Trust’”. Yet of those who crossed the threshold was he who lied to his fellow covenanters to hide the shame of his deed from those he had to deceive. That surely makes a mockery and a profanity of what, in some circles, has become a formula of tradition and a bond of sacred trust. A liar has crossed that threshold, one who lied to those who crossed it with him, and lied about his promise to she whom we hold in passion, in love, and in dread. And by Terry’s hand, the Pagan Movement has aided the desecration of the ways of the Goddess.
I’m asking, then, that we swear ourselves not to publish the acts of worship of the Goddess’ plunderer until he come again to her with her grief in his heart at her dark rite of Samhain in 1981, and there to atone to her for the pain he has caused her.
This is a sorrowful decision to make, and it’s a dark day for the Movement that, through the foul act of a defiler of the old ways and forsaker of the Goddess, we have to turn away from our pages what is beautiful, for there is indeed beauty in what Terry writes, and I would rather the defiler were banned from his defiling than that we had to ban what had been defiled because he had not. But beauty has been defiled and the Goddess’ anguish set at nought. That was not well done; but let us not do as ill again.
The result of the ballot dated 12 May was announced on 14 May in Newsletter 41. Eight people approved and three opposed, and of those three, two were personal friends or associates of the defiler, and I placed the eight in the arms of the waxing moon and the three I placed in the wane. The proposition that was approved was this:
“ That because Bob Crossman withheld from the Goddess at Samhain what
he had promised at Bealtaine to give her at Samhain, no future
meeting for worship at which he be present and not turned away
forthwith be announced or reported in any Pagan Movement publication
until he atone to the Goddess in Samhain 1981 at the place and the
time decided by the Movement for the rite of Samhain.”
Those of the waxing moon were Pat, Michael, Richard, Greg, Tony, Jan N, Chris T and George. Those of the Hag moon were Frank, Kevin and David Stacey.
Now at this point matters become very complicated. Objections were made with respect to both ballots, and arguments were prolonged, some of them indeed not being resolved for many years. It will be clearer if we depart from a strictly chronological account now and, instead, follow each individual in turn, but before we do that, let’s go back again to Newsletter 38, which was the one following the first ballot, wherein I wrote as follows:
Tony: ... To give worship to our Goddess, love to Mabh, passion to Mab, and
her unspeakable dues Maghu, surely, beyond any doubt or hesitation, there is need to commit something. Ask yourself what you have committed. Did it cost you aught? If it cost nothing, that is its value; that’s what you’ve sown; and that’s what you’ll reap. For the image is true and the worshipper who withholds worships a withholding Goddess.
Or have you, in your weakness, nevertheless given of your puny best? Then even so will the Goddess in her weakness give you of her puny best for her best is puny if your best is puny and she is weak if you are weak for there is no hand of god or mortal that can bend the mirror wherein the image holds converse with the real and the real with the image. And the true image is exact; and an exact image of the real is the real.
Who now knows the meaning of invocation? Are the gods without to be invoked? Or are they within to be evoked? Within or without what? Who binds the gods so that they are within to be called out, or who sets them apart like beggars that they stand without to be called in? And who calls? Who dare set foot in that magic ring by the Hawthorn wherein the Silver Lady play’s cat’s-cradle with the Horns?
But I’ll say no more of that; if I set down riddles to entice the soul there’s a horde of slobs who’d demand that I stay and provide the answers too, even as they allow me to invoke our beloved Moon-maiden for them to be abused and deserted and left for me to mourn over - unless I come to her aid in her distress and pour out my soul so that she might live again with love and honour and worship. I pledged myself in the name of Maghu that if the Movement which enticed me to invoke Mab for its members to adore and worship were to abandon her in her pain, I would not let the Movement live, and this is why I set the ballot to outlaw any meeting at which her plunderer and deserter were not turned away, and what I say now I would have said before had I not deferred to two members who themselves took the side of the plunderer. And nor need I in any way act contrary to the constutition. As we know, that ballot received decisive support (May the knights of the Silver be ever to your hand, Mab, Beloved); and it has served the purpose also of proving who is true to her passion, who is a traitor, who wears a coat of two colours, and who looked the other way while Mab suffered her agony of desertion.
Of the treacherous, I’ll say no more of those to whom I have replied elsewhere in this newsletter for Terry is sorely afflicted enough now with the plunderer for a husband and priest and Running Fox and David Stacey have had their reply. Frank, you have a cold stone for a heart and a blindness where your loyalties and honour and ethic conflict; you would sell your love in the Goddess for your infatuation with the woman you call your priestess and the traitor she has taken for a husband. You are biassed to blindness by your mortal ties to a wrongdoer and your ears are stopped to a Goddess’ anguish. Kevin, you had a personal dispute with me and you allowed it to poison your mind; and the poison that has poisoned your mind has poisoned your heart to the Goddess. Nor is this the first time you have failed to come to her aid for you had a vote to raise for her last Bealtaine when Ken sought to desecrate the May. Mab showed you she could do without your aid then, and she has shown you she can alike do without your aid now. And as I said then I will say now again: on the amoral road of Faerie, that’s a dire peril.
To those who wear a coat of two colours, Jim Carrie and Robin Bennet: Jim, I don’t know whether your coat is of two colours, or of two sides of equally pale grey; but certainly it’s a hue that has no depth. Robin, I know that you had two allegiances and wanted to retain both of them. You have lost mine; you might have the other on sufferance for all I know, but you will know that you haven’t got it by the winning of it for you gave no support to the One I adore, nor any support to the treacherous friends you were unwilling to change for treacherus outcasts.
And those who cast no vote at all: Steve A, Pamela B, Marty D, Jim E, Andrew F, W G, P H, Philip H, Barbara J, Ian L, C M, John P, Ian P, Jim R, Michael W, Bill W, Irene K, Malcolm C and Radikon of London, did you think that the Goddess’ suffering was not your concern? Will I and others invoke her love for you, while you leave her to suffer her pain alone? Do you hope to help yourself to her passion in exchange for money and envelopes as you would help yourself to frozen moonfruit from the shelves of the supermarket? Do you define the poets as providers and yourselves as the consumers? When the Goddess cried pitifully in the cold November wind, and none was there to give aught to comfort her who had promised it in the May, did you see fit to say it was not your business that the Goddess suffered pain and further pain for her desecration? For the lack of love you show the Goddess, may you know her lack of love for you. May you search and not find her as she searched and found no lover when her leaves were falling about her. And when you have felt in your heart just a hundredth part of her loss, her sorrow, he loneliness and her desertion, then beg her forgiveness and show her why she should forgive you your callousness. Of if you will, beg nothing, give nothing, turn your back and go away. Go alone, or go together and try to find what solace you might in your common lack of the One who is all laughter and joy to the May.
And those who are true to the Goddess, Pat, Michael, Dwight, Lyn, Richard, Greg, Betty, Jan N, Ken, Chris T, Dec, George, Colin, Brian and Daniel, know that, by your action, the Movement’s honour has been saved and the Goddess’ plunderer and his plundering repudiated and condemned. You have done what was not pleasant and what, for all you knew, might not have been popular, have not shrunk from getting your hands dirty, and thereby you have won the Moon-maiden’s love and gratitude and trust for trust. And you have won my love too (though that’s a small thing) for your love for the Green Lady of the ferns. We’ll be happy in the May for we did what we could for her; and she’ll be happy too for she knows we did what we could; and happier for the knowing that there are still some in this land and age of material consumption who know the old ways and will do all honour and love to the Goddess we invoked and who, by her coming, has brought all honour and love to our midst. When the first Moon of May shines on the new white blossoms, then will the knights of the silver take the moon hands of the Queen of the May, and her ladies be one with her love.
Letters of opposition began to appear in Newsletter 37 and continued in Newsletter 38 together with rebuttals, so that by Newsletter 39 Lyn appealed for a cessation and urged we concentrate instead on creative work, but I had to oppose Lyn’s plea in Newsletter 41, and indeed the conflict raged well after that. Here’s Lyn’s letter and my reply to her:
Lyn, N39 15 April 1975: We have all voted one way or another on Bob Crossman’s desecration of the Goddess according to the dictates of individual conscience, love, or apathy. In subsequent weeks it has become apparent what members did or did not do. The issue (nay, more than an issue) has been examined, criticized, expounded upon by members including those affected most deeply.
Every newsletter since the ballots were cast has contained something by a member pro or con concerning an issue which HAS BEEN RESOLVED. It is done. We just received PMN38 and again a great deal of the letter was given over to Bob Crossman’s issue. I for one would not presume to silence a member’s right to say what they feel about all this, but I do suggest we now (all being done) go on to more creative expressions of thought. No one will ever forget what has transpired. Especially those of us who have indeed “done” for the Goddess which seems to me the real issue at this time. And those who have done nothing will not forget either.
Please, let us go on to what the Pagan Movement should be and justify itself with Creativity, a sharing of the old ways and the old Gods etc. Members have much to give, if only ALL are willing to give it. Do this and let what was done be kept in our hearts unless a problem arises that absolutely necessitates discussion. The Goddess knows her Knights and Ladies and they will receive accordingly, just as those who acted out of cowardice or apathy, are known. I do not like to see something done out of love and atonement turn into a newsletter which must rehash over and over what we all very well know.
Soon the May Queen comes. Let her arrival be perfumed with joy.
At the risk of being redundant, none have forgotten nor will forget, but each issue of P.M. should now begin to be more constructive in Paganism than it is at present (A substantial amount of Number 38, given over to Bob Crossman).
Let “Her” come in light and let us rejoice together. Let us speak of the sweet and powerful as the snowdrops push up through her breast. Let us bring to each other the fruits of our bonds in Paganism since we have also shared the bitter herbs.
Tony, N41 14 May 1975: Lyn, your cry of “Enough!” is sure to evoke sympathy in
everyone’s heart, but even if anyone would forego their own next say, it isn’t so simple, and the matter is not resolved. After the rite of the false promise, we had no Summer at all, but the wettest year in memory and cattle have been slaughtered in unprecedented numbers because there has been no food to feed them as the hay lay rotting in the fields. Instead of the Sun, it was perpetually mild and ever wet; the Summer never came. But neither did the Winter come, and the mild, wet weather just went on and on with scarcely a frost to speak of, and the trees were coming into leaf when the watery Sun had scarce begun to climb again from his lowest ebb. And the Spring Equinox passed with never a Summer or Winter behind it. And then, in mid-April, the frost and the snow came and beat down the daffodils, and then the Sun to turn the snow into slush, and then rain again, the perpetual rain, the tears of the Goddess who was bereft of her lover when her leaves were falling about her. And the meetings of the Movement.....? After the rite of the false tryst, there were only Pat and Greg and myself here for the rite of Lughnasadh, usually the most well-attended rite of the year. And then at Samhain, again there were only Pat, Greg and myself, with Chris and Kevin, but it was no rite of the group that was enacted for each met the Goddess alone. And now for Bealtaine there is no meeting at all. Of all the Movement’s members, only Pat, Brian and myself committed ourselves with the rite, and because the number was insufficient, there must be no meeting. There may be no more meetings at all. If this is so, it may be because the membership is just too apathetic to gather to offer worship; or it may be that, for the hurt she suffered in her pain of desertion, she will have no more worship (if such it could be called) from such hang-abouts and noncommitals as by and large now constitute the membership of the Pagan Movement. When I learn that the last meeting has been held, and the Goddess will have no more “worship” of the Pagan Movement, I will leave the Pagan Movement, and then they who wouldn’t help us make the Pagan Movement grow will watch it wither and die, even as the Goddess was deserted to wither and grow old and empty in an empty shrine where she sought the lover who pledged himself to her in her pain, but found nothing but a cold and empty tryst.
And now let’s look at the words of those who raised objections, and how they were answered. We begin with Running Fox who, at one time, was a member of the defiler’s group; contribution in Newsletter 37:
Running Fox: Fellow Pagans, I joined P.M. and have received 35 & 36, I have
been gratly disshartened by the amount of bickering and backbiteing which I found there. I feel this can do nothing but hinder the progress of the movement, I am reffering mainly to the argument between Tony & Bob, I have never met eather of them, and i MAY not know the hole storey, but if Bob has been week and failed, and made a mistake (which he amits to have done in PMN 35) should we have contempt for him, insult him, and publicly pull him apart; I think not, as fellow pagans, indede as fellow humans, aught we not overcome any anga that has been caused and have commpashon, for him and help him to be strong and over come any weekness.
No dought someone will attack this letter, well if they feel they must then they must, but i wish only to give my opinion, and i will not enter into some long and grown out argument about something that has gone before.
I have said enuf. “Hechetu Welo!”
Tony, N38 19 March 1975: Running Fox, if by your admission, you believe you
may not know the whole story leading to the ballot of 31 December, I wonder that you felt justified in casting what must, therefore, have been a blind vote. Had I been in your position, I’d have withheld my vote in the ordinary way, or asked to be provided with the full information in a hurry if I felt the issue to be very important. It’s not, as you appear to think, an issue between myself and Bob Crossman (and you may by now have enough information to realise this for yourself, and the ballot result will show you that too); the issue at stake is our commitment and our sincerity with the gods that, by word of mouth, we profess to hold in passion, in love, in dread, in awe, in wonder, and in truth.
Running Fox made no further contribution to the Movement and soon dropped out. David Stacey also wrote in Newsletter 37 on 4 February, his writing accompanying his vote cast in opposition to the ballot of 31 December banning Bob from Pagan Movement meetings. The exchange became lengthy, and is recorded below:
David Stacey, N37 4 February: Having read with great sorrow and distress the current argument between Tony and Bob, may I as an impartial observer make what I hope are some valid comments from the position of one who has received enlightenment.
First may I address these words to Tony. The position you have created for yourself is because you have allowed yourself to think as a carnal being, and this logically brought you to the point where if you think you or what you hold most dear has been insulted then you must take revenge on your own or what you hold dear’s behalf.
You have forgotten to ask yourself the first fundamental question anybody with any religious views should ask themselves and that is what is the will of the Gods in this matter.
Not for nothing does the Christian bible say about one who has broken their laws “vengeance is MINE sayeth the Lord”. How do you know it was not the Goddess’s plan that Bob should not attend the rite, are you in direct contact with her?
You are getting dangerously close to blasphemy by perhaps pre-empting their vengeance. It is not for puny man to lead the Gods. You are making them in your image. If the Gods tell you what their desires are in this matter then tell the Movement and they will obey. But do not pretend to be the Gods yourself.
Now to Bob:-
What I have said about the will of the Gods also equally applies to you, you have been unable to keep the date for whatever reason seems valid to you. The point is that once you start not being able to keep dates it escalates, like the first lie. You say in the last newsletter, that it was for you to choose where to be. On this point you and Tony disagree on a fundamental point of policy. And if two parties cannot agree on such a basic point then they should break into separate units. Only remember that there is only one true effective way of worship and no single person knows the whole way, though many know parts of it.
I hope I have not antagonised Tony of Bob too much, but tried to make them them think for a moment at least of what the will of the Gods may be. May I say finally that it is a rule of my life NEVER to give advice and only on rare occasions do I give an opinion publicly.
I pray that both Tony and Bob may become friends again, really life is too short for this kind of thing.
Yours in love Blessed Be
Tony, N38 19 March: David, your letter raises a number of issues, some of them very fundamental, and if I deal with them at length it’s because I feel they concern the roots of our attitudes and religious sentiment. In your first paragraph you make two claims which are, firstly, that as an observer you are “impartial”, and secondly that you have “received enlightenment”. Now if you go so far as actually to express an attitude, then just so far are you no longer impartial. The whole point of your writing at all was that you had an attitude (or some attitudes) to express, and hence the whole motivation for writing must be, at root, your absence of impartiality. Now in claiming to have received enlightenment, you don’t make it clear as to whether you consider yourself different from those to whom you are writing in this respect, and that is, the rest of the members. If indeed your status is superior in this respect, it would be obvious from your writing and there would be no need to mention it explicitly. And if we are, by and large, all roughly comparable in this respect, it would be difficult to see the purpose in your particularly mentioning the fact while others find it unnecessary. I feel you might be claiming a lever for your argument; but to get others to accept it, you must of course demonstrate the truth of your claim. Indeed, if you have in fact received enlightenment, your silence for so long and failure to share your wisdom is doubtfully ethical.
You say I have allowed myself to think as a carnal being. Yes indeed! But if I take your implication correctly, you infer that this is in error. Do you recommend the psychosis of detachment? I think and feel as a carnal being because I am a carnal being. But why do you believe (as you imply) that you are not?
You say I have forgotten to ask myself what is the will of the Gods in the matter. Now this is very deep. You imply that the gods have will, and this is by no means a shared view. There is one god who is will, another who is love, another who is passion...... And I’m being crude here, for the very meaning of “is” dissolves and takes on strange forms in the presence of the gods.
“How do you know it was not the Goddess’s plan that Bob should not attend the rite ...?” Well, how do we know it was not the Goddess’s plan that we should take such action as has been taken because he did not attend the rite? As you see, such questions as these get us nowhere and merely provide a rationalisation for inaction and abnegation of responsibility. I’ll say more on this below in connection with another statement which is very similar, namely, “You are getting dangerously close to blasphemy by perhaps pre-empting their vengeance. It is not for puny man to lead the Gods. You are making them in your image.” I wonder why you regard man as “puny”? What criteria do you use? Is the proton “puny” because it is small? Is size your criterion? If we are made in the image of the gods, and we are puny, then by implication the gods are puny. Did you notice that? If Lowri is the image of Olwen, then it follows that Olwen is the image of Lowri. Are you perhaps in danger of projecting your gods exclusively outside of yourself, and thus denying them your mind, your very mind, your very self? Do you stand apart from your gods so far that they are withdrawn from you and leave you puny? What do you make of the much-quoted expression “Thou art God”? Or the christian scripture’s statement of God’s utterance to Moses, “I am that I am”? Or the hindu advaita aphorism “Aham Brahmasmi”? I fear you have missed the meaning of this, the most profound of mysteries, though you are by no means alone in missing it.
Now coming back to the point I left above and considering it in connection with what followed regarding the vengeance of the gods and our role with regard to that vengeance, I can best go straight to the heart of the matter by example. Either the pagan gods are in need of us or they have no need of us. Either they are omniscient or they are not omniscient, can be misled, can be deceived. Either they are infinite or they are finite, fickle, amenable, approachable, have feelings and can be hurt. Either we, puny though you say we are, are relevant in the being of the gods, or we are irrelevant. Now quite a lot of people will on occasion undertake a rite of healing but will shrink from undertaking a rite to bind or to curse. Let’s examine the possible reasons for this. There is of course the personal reason; if we undertake a rite and succeed in generating the power but fail to send it, a field of white magic is a good deal more pleasant than a field of black to have lingering about one’s person, on one’s tools, and in one’s circle. But I’m more concerned here with the deeper issue. Why, in fact, does anyone ever undertake a rite of healing?
Does the Goddess not know that a person is suffering and needs help so that we have to bring it to her notice? Or is it that she does know but requires our energies in order to be able to do anything about it? Or is it perhaps that she doesn’t need our energies, but requires that we provide ourselves for a vehicle for transmission of her own energies? Is our effort of any use at all to the Goddess? Could she manage just as well without us? Is she better able to express her love with our deliberate cooperation with her? You will see here that what I’m doing is forcing a decisive attitude on the question of whether or not the Goddess needs our action. If she does, she is finite and our effort is vital to her; if she does not, we are irrelevant and our rites and rituals are a waste of time. Now an exactly similar argument applies to the question of black magic. Does the Goddess, or does she not, need our aid in her distress? Can she take her vengeance unaided, or are we, as her true knights and lovers, duty-bound to help her, to provide her with our energies, or provide her with a vehicle for transmission of her own energies.
Now if a person says the Goddess has no need of our intervention, I can respect that view (though I don’t subscribe to it), and I can understand a person not undertaking a rite of black magic provided that they are consistent and regard all rites and ritual as unnecessary. But if a person holds the attitude that a rite is actually necessary, then their argument is as valid for a black rite as it is for a white since it is, you must admit, the same argument.
“Do not pretend to be the Gods yourself.” Would you say what this means, if indeed it has any meaning at all?
David Stacey, N39 15 April: Well, well, I’ve certainly been put in my place, though T. Kelly’s public rebuke of my letter lacked the coarse sting of the personal letter he sent me which urged me to change my vote from against the proposition outlawing Bob from meetings to for, amongst other things. Nevertheless he made some valid points against the weaker part of my letter, though carefully omitting purposely or otherwise, the main point which was obvious for all to see if they wanted to. That being who gave T. Kelly the authority to set himself up as a prosecution counsel, jury, and judge in the matter.
In his letter to me T. Kelly said that he was “in direct contact with the gods’, his own hot line to the heavens in fact, a claim which is as difficult to prove as enlightenment. How did the gods inform him of the type of punishment and length of sentence that was thought appropriate for Bob’s “crime”. I’m sure that those who voted against as well as those who voted for would be delighted to know.
As for the punishment itself, well it’s hardly a punishment at all, for to exact revenge for any crime one needs courage, and there was no courage needed to decide to vote for the proposition, for the vast majority of those who voted in favour were never likely to meet Bob anyway. So it made no difference to them one way of the other, for we all have the right to dissociate from whomever we like.
T. Kelly always complains about the apathy of the membership of the Movement, well in that case why didn’t he (i.e. the gods), give those who would vote for, such as writing nasty letters to Bob, calling him a “cad” or even a “meanie”, I wonder how many would have voted for if it required that they do some physical work.
No, the punishment proposed was that of a COWARD, cowardicy of the old Gallic tribesmen.
Indeed 46% of the membership were so outraged and incensed that they couldn’t be bothered to reply.
Who are the Knights of Silver, and Silver what?
Tony, N41 14 May: David Stacey, you mention and offer value judgement on the
letter I wrote to you privately. The best thing we can do now that you’ve made your appraisal public is to make equally public the material which you appraised, so I’m reproducing the whole of the letter I wrote to you below, exactly as I wrote it, so that members can make their own appraisal and judge, perhaps, whether it contained a “coarse sting” or whether on the contrary it was an attempt to communicate with you. To some extent, unfortunately, it will repeat what has already been said; but I think it will bring out fresh views with perhaps a slight change of perspective. I’m glad you state that I set some valid points against the weaker part of your letter as such an admission, freely made, is rare and argues for more flexibility of thought than I had anticipated. You raise further points in your present letter (n39) which I feel are worthy of closer study, but first here’s a relevant consideration.....
One’s attitude to an enemy is hate as one’s attitude to a friend is love and one’s attitude to one who was no friend in time of need is contempt. One respects a friend for their friendship, and one respects an enemy for their enmity. But there is no respect for the person who turns their back and closes their eyes and stops their ears. Thus my attitude towards those who abstained in the ballot is contempt, and a greater contempt for those who took not even this trouble for honour of the Goddess they profess to worship. My attitude is contempt, too, for those who voted against the proposition in the guise of a silent, callous, stone wall, and I’ve expressed these attitudes in a previous newsletter. But no contempt is warranted for, and nor can be felt towards, the person who takes up opposition and stands by that opposition with argument until either they admit defeat, or their opponent concedes their rightness. Thus you may earn my hate for attempting to stand against the Goddess’ vengeance; but you earned no contempt; that will be written on your back when and if you turn it, but it can never be written on the back that is not turned.
I’m afraid I have no knowledge of the old Gallic tribesmen (or any history at all, really) and I don’t know the meaning of “punishment” sufficiently accurately to be able to comment. Rather I think in terms of needs, and in particular in this instance, of the need of the wounded for vengeance against the agent of their wounding. If you say this is mindless, I would say in reply that it is as mindless as love, for both are things of the heart of which the head is ignorant.
It’s difficult to know how to comment on the question of “physical work”. I feel you do members an injustice in devalidating the significance of the declaration they made by their voting, for it was indeed a declaration. But in any case, physical works are better not mentioned; that is, if you are here referring to the dark arts. And no mention has been made.
I must correct the conclusion you attempt to draw in your last sentence, namely, “Indeed 46% of the membership were so outraged and incensed that they couldn’t be bothered to reply.” The fact of the voting is not disputed, but your interpretation of it, you must admit, is quite arbitrary and unwarranted. Outrage almost invariably impels towards action; apathy binds in nonaction. It’s so very much more likely that the nonvoters didn’t vote because they were apathetic or, perhaps, frightened. But if you wish to show otherwise, why not ask them? If you attempt to ask them, I’m sure you’ll meet with apathetic nonresponse! As a matter of interest, ballots can usually be reckoned on to produce a response rate of about 33%, or perhaps a little higher now in the Pagan Movement as our membership is moderately selected against apathy by the self-addressing scheme. So a 54% response can be regarded as an indication of unusual concern rather than of low concern. And as we’ve seen, most of this unusual concern was to support the ballot! Do you concede the point, or will you (since you claim they are on your side) rally their support and get them to declare their lack of apathy? In this of all matters, we can’t say “Let silence be their advocate”!
Now to the main point which you say I carefully omitted: “... who gave T.Kelly the authority to set himself up as prosecution counsel, jury, and judge in the matter...” and “... How did the gods inform him of the type of punishment and length of sentence...” In reply to the first question, I gave myself the authority. If you dispute my right to have it, then take it away from me. If you can’t, the right remains mine, and in any case I only retain it by consent as expressed by ballot. In reply to the second question, I beg leave not to offer reply. Some will know; others will show by signs that they will know how to read; others will never know and neither I nor anyone else could tell them.
And here’s the letter in question, written to you on 24 December:
I won’t quote this letter here as it repeats what was in the newsletter, perhaps on a more philosophical level. It can be consulted in Newsletter 41 of 14 May 1975.
Michael, N41 14 May: David, as far as I am aware, on-one gave Tony “the authority to set himself up as prosecution counsel, jury and judge”, and again, as far as I am aware, he did not do that. Provision is clearly made in the PM constitution to allow for any individual to issue any ballot, which is what Tony did. The majority of the membership who replied endorsed his proposal, and the effects of this were carried out. It was perfectly permissible for any other member to issue a contrary ballot, but this was not done, and so the action was taken. Crying “foul!” now will not change that. Tony is not now a secretary, nor in any other position of authority in PM (save that of newsletter coordinator, and the sheer leadership’ that is inherent in his character), so he is on an equal footing with you, me, or anyone else.
When I roam beneath the boughs of a tangled wood, or sit on the shores with the sea lapping at my feet, or simply gaze at the moon with love in my heart, then I too am “in direct contact with the gods”. How could anyone be indirectly’ in contact? Though my ears may hear no words, my heart rings with happiness when she of the silver mantle speaks; and the cold shadow shrouds me when my soul hears the baleful whispers of she who haunts the crossways. Can you not hear the lusty horn and the hunter’s call upon the wild wind in the greenwood? Thus am I, who call myself pagan, in contact’ with the gods, (though I dislike that word itself), and when I speak to them, I know that they hear, for I love them, and they surely love us all.
The type of punishment was just, and could really be no other way that I could see, and the seven-year banishment is as ancient as we are, and well attested in lore. Courage? I would say that all concerned had courage in this matter. I needed courage to agree to the retribution, for it is something that I would normally hold back my hand upon. I have never met Bob, nor hardly anyone else in PM, but if I was the one who had broken my tryst with the goddess, then I hope that I would have the courage to atone for my crime, and accept in submission the decree of my fellow members.
I think there would have been little point in writing nasty letters to Bob and calling him names. I, for my part, have forgiven Bob his act, but I shall not forget, until the seven years is past. But I echo Lyn’s plea that the subject should now be dropped, since it will profit none of us to bandy words back and forth about an issue that has been decided.
Let this be the last newsletter to mention the controversy for seven years. Let the goddess bring forth our words of love, as she brings the flowers to scent the wind in the Spring that is upon us. Dance with joy and thoughts of peace on our golden Bealtaine day, for she calls away our hearts from dissent, and into the warm embrace of her arms that none of us, if we are pagan, should deny. The spells of the May are made for love, nor for hate.
Let the final word be NOW, lest the seven years be fraught with bitterness, and our hands be turned from the work before us.
Tony, N41 14 May: THE KNIGHTS OF THE SILVER... The Moon will answer your question, David, if you ask her, and if you have right and reason to know. And if you have not, it were better that you didn’t ask more than once.
Michael, N41 14 May: Few now are the knights of the silver, but the love of those that remain is sharper than any blade of steel, for they do not shrink from battle with any dragon that comes to ruin her sacred woods with blind and unfeeling flame. She needs her knights with a need as great as their need for her, and he who lets the rust take his armour must hope that he never has need of it. Silver is her gown, and the circlet of stars that sits upon her brow, and the light that rests in her eyes. Silver is the moon, and the horns of her crescent are not dull. Silver are the dreams that she breathes upon her children, silver edged with twilight songs that carry on the young wind and stir the hearts of her knights. Who are the knights of the silver? Are you not?
David Stacey made no reply and shortly dropped out of the Movement, founding a magazine The Pagan Way’, which is now defunct, and we turn now to Jim Carrie who abstained in the ballot. His first contribution on the subject appears in Newsletter 39 on 15 April 1975 under the heading Images of Tehuti’. Most of it isn’t relevant, and I quote only the final two paragraphs which appear to be rationalisation of nonaction:
Jim Carrie, N39 15 April: It is inevitable that what I believe is a product of
who I am and all that has come before. Whether that is right for me or necessary for me are unanswerable, but it is as it is. And the same holds true for others I don’t know a fraction of what the Universe/God is about, so it is impossible for me to tell anyone he is wrong. As part of the Universe that cannot grasp the whole, as a part of an evolving order that responds to all that has come before, I can only conclude that right and wrong, moral and immoral are beyond the ability of any one man to grasp, and may be nothing more than fictions invented to preserve cultural order. I will protect myself from a murderer who tries to kill me, but never will I judge him knowingly. Besides being egotistical, it’s a waste of time.
In his own mind each man is always right—for himself. And it is possible that each is right, or rather the entire concept is meaningless. And so I must now ask for the person who believes he comprehends even an infinitessimal fraction of the Universe/God to do any condemnation and tell us all the TRUTH so that I will know who not to listen to.
Pax Jim the Grey
Tony, N41 14 May: ... It would be arrogant to claim to know a lot, wouldn’t
it? It would be equally arrogant to claim to have shut a lot of knowledge out, wouldn’t it? And thus you are arrogant, or dogmatic, for you claim, by implication, that you have withstood the immense waves of knowing that beat forever upon us so that you still know not even an infinitessimal part of it. Can you really be so impregnable?
Or is it pretense to release you from a responsibility you would not face?
Jim Carrie (much abbreviated) N43 27 July: ... When a person commits an act
that leads to his/her being banned from rites, justice should be tempered with mercy for (at the very least) the simple reason that we are only human, and imperfect in our knowledge of the content of the minds of others. By this I mean that after the banishment, all talk of the matter should cease and the final administration of justice be left to the Goddess.
Tony, N44 12 August: Your piece under “Dogma”, Jim, is largely unworthy of the space it occupies and I won’t prolong the tedium by showing in detail why. But I will uncover your major dishonesties and hypocrisies. You find it “interesting” how I could analyse “Images of Tehuti” and miss the main point. The main point, Jim, which you are industrially trying to bury in a thicket of words, is your shameful conduct in the ballot.
I’ll go straight to your final paragraph now as it shows why. You say “... justice should be tempered with mercy...” I’ll repeat: you say “... justice...” And what was your contribution to that justice? It was to close your eyes to it and abstain.
You say “... after the banishment all talk of the matter should cease...” Your own words proclaim your hypocrisy, don’t they?
“... and the final administration of justice be left to the Goddess.” Poor Mab! Should so much be done by her and little for her?>
Jim Carrie made no further reply and dropped out. Here now are arguments by David Bailey:
David Bailey, N38 19 March: As a newcomer to the P.M. I feel I should comment on the Bob and Tony dissension, although it is not my normal policy to interfere or comment in such cases. I have met neither party so have no personal bias and have only the correspondence in the newsletters to judge by, but it would appear that there are some faults on both sides, for after all, an outsider can often see more clearly than those actually concerned.
A serious fault appears to have been made and admitted by Bob, and he has been taken to task seriously and publicly by Tony.
Is it possible, however, that some personal antipathy between the two has entered into the disagreement? Sometimes the most tolerant of us find to our sorrow that we are not as unbiassed to another as we could wish, aften without any logical cause that we can determine.
Whatever the truth is, it is something which has happened and cannot be undone, no matter how it is turned over and over.
My own experience over many years shews me that the Goddess has her own ways of punishing and rewarding those she frowns or smiles upon. Is it right then that her followers, who are pitifully few enough, should take it upon themselves to usurp her authority? For, being human, are we not liable to err at some time or other, sometimes for what later seems to be the most ridiculous reasons? If this occurs, should we be denied the chance to make amends? Can any of us say truthfully that we have never done anything we deeply regretted afterwards?
By all means, if you wish, deny Bob the right to take part in a rite at Selene, not as a punishment but because the antipathy between him and Tony would be likely to arise again and cause bitterness upon meeting, and rites of any sort should not be defiled by personal animosity, but I disagree with any move to divide the Movement into separate factions, for and against.
What is done and has been said cannot now be altered. One can only try to understand both sides’ feelings and difficulties, to shew tolerance as we might need tolerance being shewn to us some day, and if possible, to forgive, as we all might need forgiveness, letting the Goddess dispense justice in her own time and ways, as surely she will.
Tony, N39 15 April: David, I think you will agree that I have adequately answered the point you raise in your fifth and final paragraphs in my previous reply to David Stacey, so I’ll say no more on that here. But as to the rest of your piece, I find it lacking in frankness; instead of making oblique and vague statements which can only generate confusion and unease, you could make an open statement which could be openly considered and openly and cleanly dealt with. You say there are faults on “both sides”, and you define the two sides as “Bob” and “Tony”. Shame on you! You suggest personal antagonisms, but you don’t say whether you consider them to operate both ways. You will have seen from N36 that I went to considerable trouble on Bob’s behalf to help him, and to enlist the help of others for him, and you will also see that I helped him in the May rite when he and Terry were unable to continue. That will have shown you my love - and which love you have chosen to ignore. Despite my efforts and the efforts of others, he broke his promise, went back on his tryst, and abused the Goddess most shamefully. It is for that, and only that, that I do what I do now for the Goddess.
“By all means, if you wish, deny Bob the right to take part in a rite at Selene, not as a punishment but because antipathy between him and Tony would.....” That is bordering on the obscene, David. What has been done, and ratified by the Movement, and what has aroused love and sorrow in the hearts of many for the Goddess’ pain, and hatred for he who so cruelly abused her, all this you wish to prostitute now and reinterpret to mean a tawdry dispute between two individuals. That is obscene, isn’t it? People did not vote in a dispute between two individuals; we voted quite unequivocally that action, which we regarded as just, be taken by reason of hurt inflicted on the Goddess. How dare you reassign this!
“Should we be denied the chance to make amends?” Indeed, no. The plunderer has been offered chance to make amends just so soon as he has experienced that loneliness and desertion that, at his own hand and by his own will, he inflicted on the Goddess. And when he has known her pain, he can come again to her, in penitent mood, at her dark rite of Samhain with seven years of longing in his heart.
David Bailey, N41 14 May: This letter is in two parts, my resignation and my
reply to Tony. ..... To reply to Tony, although as I lack the gift for words I may not be able to express myself as clearly as I could wish. He states that I suggest personal antagonism but do not say whether I consider it to be two sided or not. I do believe that some personal element has crept into the dispute and from the remarks and names published from time to time the greater part of this appears to be on Tony’s side. He accuses my remarks of “bordering on the obscene”. I think we must have different ideas on the use of this word for I fail to see anything at all obscene in my letter. Furthermore, he asks how I dare to reassign the action of the vote. Let Tony ask himself in all fairness how many apart from those actually present at the rite or knew both parties, could possibly have had their judgement swayed by his forceful and persuasive gift of eloquance, a great gift, indeed, but a dangerous one which can be sadly misused, sometimes unintentionally. My letter was intended as a plea for tolerance and calm thinking. I cannot see anything obscene in that. David Stacey expressed my own view in the second paragraph of his letter when he asks, “Who gave Tony the authority?” etc.. Finally please let us make it clear that I do not doubt the sincerity of the view Tony so aggressively expresses, but I do think that his tendency to try to override any opposing view without considering the possibility that he too could possibly be wrong on some points could lead to a falling off in the membership of the P.M.
Tony, N42 26 July: David Bailey, you plead for tolerance, but tolerance of
what? Would you tolerate intolerance? And if not, does that make you intolerant? Tolerance is not in itself a virtue or a vice (and nor a justification for inaction). It means nothing until you say what we are being asked to tolerate. It merits deeper thought, doesn’t it?
You again assert a personal element though there is none. I asked you last time to consider the manifest evidence of my love which you have ignored. You have again utterly ignored it. When this happens twice, it indicates a mind that is closed to reason.
By “obscenity” I mean the substitution of a person’s or people’s true motive by an untrue and tawdry motive supplied by the critic, in this case, yourself. You attempt to reassign the vote on the basis of my “forceful and persuasive eloquance”, and suggest that members had their judgement swayed. You have a poor opinion of the members, haven’t you? You reject the possibility that those whose minds were not closed or otherwise bound were responding to truth sincerely expressed, because it was sincere, and because it was true......
Jim Ellis, N41 14 May: Anybody as sick of all this, as I am. It’s becoming a dangerous and vile smelling regular feature.
Tony, N42 26 July: Jim, could you explain your ballot comment ‘cos I don’t understand it. What Frank did was to propose his own dismissal. That’s certainly not a “vile smelling regular feature” because such a thing has never been done before! And Frank is perfectly entitled to offer such a ballot. Or are you suggesting that our preoccupation with our gods is a vile smelling regular feature? I feel you run a risk of being misunderstood, especially as you’ve played a dark hand in recent ballots of high pagan significance. Perhaps you’d comment below rather than wait for the next newsletter?
Jim Ellis (comment): Look Tony, please don’t insult our intelligence by
pretending you don’t know what we mean all the time.....
The rest of Jim’s remarks were not relevant to the subject offered for comment. Almost immediately, he was indicted for administrative corruption and resigned from the Movement.
Those are not all the arguments that were raised in the immediate wake of the breaking of the pledge, but they’re all that have had no further effect on the Movement. They faded out in mid-1975. The Movement then entered a short period of vigour, which was followed by a long decline when membership dwindled and the Movement was for all intents and purposes, other than its existence, virtually dead. [P] But four of the conflicts had lasting effects, namely those originating with Greg, Terry, Kevin and Frank, and all would still be active now (though not in conflict) except that Frank is dead.
 Greg’s was the oldest change. I’ve described Greg’s indecision at the Rite of Samhain of the Broken Tryst and his leaving on Sunday without taking part. There followed a year of chaos for Greg. He anticipated not being able to be present at the following Harvest Rite, and so he refrained from coming also to the May Rite. Then he changed his mind and, notwithstanding his absence from the May Rite, he came to the Harvest Rite after all, only to find himself in such difficulties that he walked out of the rite in the middle. He came to the Rite of Samhain in a state of turmoil and unresolved and apparently unresolvable arguments. At that time, in Samhain, one year after the breaking of the tryst, Greg found the resolution that had eluded him. This is his own account as recorded in Newsletter 48:
Greg, N48 5 December 1975: I left Selene last night with a vague feeling of
resentment - I had come all the way from London to take part in a rite and had left without doing so. My resentment was not directed at anyone in particular and the accompanying feeling of frustration was all the worse for that. My reasons for leaving were a disagreement about the nature of the rite to be held with particular reference to what was to be done about the fact that Bob Crossman had broken a promise to be there with the Goddess in her pain.
My attitude was recounted afterwards in a tale in N35 called “A Story of Sadness”. I had not resolved this attitude when I arrived at Selene for this year’s Samhain rite. The night was old when I went out to Selene’s stone circle alone to meet the Hag. Then her grief was my grief out in the Samhain fields under the waning moon, with the ghostly white light illuminating the tufts of grass all round my feet. My heart was filled with sadness I find it hard to describe, and my eyes with tears I could not have imagined an hour earlier sitting comfortably by the fire. What could I do to alleviate her grief which I felt so deeply in my heart? I spoke her name to the waning moon and wished her grief onto him who had caused it until he meet her to atone for it himself. Dark clouds covered the moon and the field was shrouded in blackness when I left, but the light was in my heart as I entered the court of the Knights of the Silver.
Now Kevin, we remember cast a vote in opposition to the honour of the Goddess and in favour of her defiler on two occasions, on the second of which I recorded his name, with the other traitors, in the waning moon. There followed a correspondence beginning in Newsletter 42 on 26 July:
Kevin, N42 26 July 1975: Firstly a comment on the ballot. You have behaved
unethically Tony. The function of a ballot is for people to express their opinion. A person’s opinion should be respected and as such reported impartially. Your placing of the “disagrees” under a waning moon is an abuse of the Movement’s structure. By all means say what you feel about people’s opinions in the correct place, but let the ballot results be written objectively and not under the influence of an opinion. I certainly did not invoke the waning moon in my vote.
And a few words about my stand in this matter. You have accused me of having a poisoned mind and being deaf to the Goddess. I say that you lie. I did what I have done out of my friendship to Bob and Terry, who gave me help and support at a time when I badly needed it, and also because I know that Bob is not the callous unfeeling person you make him out to be. And in this I did not betray the Goddess, for if I did would I not be cursed? And if I am cursed why then does She come to me in my worship?  Why is the path that I see before me green? Why are the tongues of the elf-children in the air around me?
You have done that which you feel you had to do and the ballot is irreversible, but let that be enough. Forgive and let that be an end to it or ere the seven years are up the Pagan Movement will be nothing but a memory, ashes in the dust of time, destroyed by hatred and strife.
Tony, N43 27 July (abbreviated): Kevin, the misunderstanding is illustrated, I think, when you say “The function of a ballot is for people to express their opinion.” I think you have overlooked the article in Newsletter 38 ... when precisely this question was discussed... I issued the ballot for the second of the reasons discussed, namely to implement a work with which I was committed, and as such the ballot is my tool to achieve a purpose, and was used as such...
I want now to reply to the important issue of our relationship with the gods. You say “I did what I have done out of my friendship to Bob and Terry, who gave me help and support.....” In a private letter you put it slightly more forcefully as: “has it never occured to you that it may be because of my relationship with Bob and Terry?” I paraphrased your remark as follows: “Has it never occured to you that the reason I stand by while your gods are defiled is because of my relationship with the defiler?” (I refer to Bob who deserted the Goddess, of course; not to Terry). Your reply was “From your point of view I guess it fits, but it’s far too much of an oversimplification to be meaningful.”
Nevertheless, from my point of view it fits. Now when Bob and Terry found themselves unable to continue, I invoked the Goddess, my Goddess, beloved Mab, for Terry, and by her magic, Bob and Terry were enabled to do what they had set their hearts on doing. It was out of love I appealed to Mab, and it was in her faerie passion she came to her bridal bed in the Maytide fields and gave herself into the hands of one who said he would be a lover to her in her springtime passion, and a lover still in her wintry drear. But he used her in his own need, and then deserted her in her pain.
I don’t think you realise the immensity of it, and the pathos. I was describing the situation to some people who visited us a few days ago, the love and trust of the Maytide Goddess, and her pitiful state in the desolate circle of Samhain, and even after all this time, I broke down with emotion for the Goddess’ pain. I was there in the circle with her at Samhain, where I didn’t expect to find her, and I knew then a Goddess’ grief, and it’s something I shall never forget. And it was that ache that has no bottom, that is at once an agony of grief and an ineffable vision of unutterable beauty. I was there alone with her, in the rain, tears on the yellow birch trees, sobbing my heart out for her, doing what I could for her, and receiving more than I could ever give, even in the uttermost depth of her pain. How then shall I act when someone sets his hand against her for friendship with the one who defiled her?
And you break of with an “oversimplification” undeveloped. For Mab? By her sacred cunt! That’s no way to use her!
Kevin, N48 5 December 1975: ... I think I do, and always have realised the
immensity and pathos of the broken promise’ situation. I’ve been thinking more about it though in the light of our correspodence. I feel that my reaction to it was somewhat awry and this I admit was to some degree as you have suggested determined by hostility that I felt for you at the time. I still don’t feel however that it would be my part to judge or condemn Bob for what happened and such a feeling finds no home in my psyche. However in opposing the ballots on the subject I did, I suppose, judge you in a harsh manner and this was wrong of me. While I don’t feel as you do in this matter I do now see that you have a right to feel as you do and have no wish to criticise you further for the stand you’ve taken. Let’s close the argument and concentrate on the future rather than the past.
Tony, N49 18 December 1975: You have taken a significant step, Kevin, in admitting that your stance in the situation was determined not so much by the plight of the Goddess as by your personal antipathy towards me, yet you would only go so far, I gather, as to abstain in the issue, pleading an unprepardness to “judge” or “condemn”. This isn’t really true, is it? As you admit, you have in fact judged, and in a “harsh” way, and did so because you were motivated by hostility. Now when we come to consider the Goddess in her distress, and he who wrought her harm, you appear to argue an ethic of pacifism and appear to feel no hostility. Is what I did to you then (whatever it might have been) worse than what the Goddess’ plunderer did to the Goddess? And if not, isn’t your hostility grossly misapplied? How can you possibly feel no hostility towards the Goddess’ plunderer when you felt it towards me to the extent that it warped your actions? Clearly, you have no love for the Goddess. You are, quite clearly, capable of experiencing hostility, but only in petty personal matters; not when the Goddess’ hurt claims your attention and you turn your back and preach pacifism.
But consider now your closing sentence: “Let’s close the argument and concentrate on the future rather than the past.” Why did you write that? If the argument were resolved, it would of itself come to an end and need no deliberate closing. It can only mean that you wish to suppress the rest of it. Let me paraphrase your sentence: “Let’s concentrate on the leaves rather than the roots.” It ignores the mutual dependence of leaf on root. You wish to cut your connection with the past because you are ashamed to allow the seeds you have sown to germinate and declare their nature as the future unfolds.
The fact remains that you make a pretence at worship, but turn your back on the Goddess in her pain and preach pacifism towards her plunderer while condoning hostility by your actual behaviour. You’re a hypocrite, aren’t you? That’s a small matter. You’re no friend of the Goddess though; that’s a great matter.
What do you think should have been done about the plundering of the Goddess? And whatever your recommendation, is this how we are to treat any future recurrence? If so, is this an attitude befitting worship of a deity? And if not, why do you make a difference? It will be helpful, and a useful strategy against side-tracking, if you confine your remarks to this section entirely to what should have been done, and what should be done, and refrain altogether from saying what should not have been done and what should not be done. We are, here, looking for a valid attitude towards worship of the Queen of the May.
Tony, N51 23 March 1976: Kevin was unable to answer the charges laid against him in N49 and has decided not to renew his membership. And that’s no loss to the Goddess for three times he betrayed her, and nor any loss to us for his soul is wayward.
No more is heard of Kevin for somewhat over 4 years, though from casual contacts between him and Greg, it seems that within a year or two of his dropping out, Kevin found himself, at other people’s Conferences, defending from those other people’s criticisms, the very actions that he himself had attacked, and he found himself coming to the conclusion that he had taken the wrong side. But, it seems that pride stood in the way of his making an admission until 13 November 1980, when he wrote the following words in Newsletter 81:
Kevin, N81 13 November 1980: Six years ago I attended the Pagan Movement
Samhain Rite at which Bob Crossman failed to turn up, having given his pledge to the Goddess that he would in fact do so. At the time I opposed moves to outcast Bob from the movement because I felt that the circumstances of the case provided an excuse for his failure. However, since that time I have realised that Bob was wrong and that I was wrong to support him. Examining my motives I came face to face with a tangle of self interest on my part, (I am involved with the group Bob is in) personal hostility to Tony, which clouded my judgement, and a general unwillingness to make a decision which I found both difficult and inconvenient. For all this I extend my apologies to the Goddess, to Tony and to the movement. Since there is now but a year to make amends I’ve now, albeit belatedly, signed the contract of dissociation from Bob. In the face of it this seems a futile gesture, but I intend it to be the first move in an attempt to help Bob prepare to meet the Goddess at Samhain next year, and also in my own preparation to do the same since I feel that having supported him I share his guilt, which guilt he admitted last year. I have no plans to attend any P.M. rites before Samhain 1981.
Kevin rejoined the Movement five months later on 8 April this year. Terry is the only person who opposed our actions who can, I feel, be wholly excused for continuing a relationship, in magic and in worship, with Bob during the seven years, and this because she had married him. That is, I feel her mitigating circumstances were fully commensurate with her action. Her first statement appeared in Newsletter 37 on 4 February 1975 in response to the ballot decreeing that no meeting at which Bob be present and not turned away forthwith be deemed a meeting of the Pagan Movement until he atone:
Terry, N37 4 February 1975: What sort of pagan would even consider turnin another pagan away from a meeting, you nasty minded individual. How many times do you suppose we have had to mentally forgive you your actions, like now for instance. Be sure the time will come for you to learn the lesson of forgiveness. I hope you pay for poisoning the thoughts of others in a fitting manner.
Be loved and Blessed
Be blessed and loving.
Tony, N38 19 March 1975: Terry, do you realise that, by implication, you’ve called nearly all of the Movement’s most active members and all of the most thoughtful and evocative writers “nasty-minded individuals”? It’s much more likely that you are wrong than that all these people are individually and separately wrong, isn’t it? Still, we can write that off as an emotional outburst, especially as your simultaneous statement of forgiveness and calling for vengeance speaks loudly of your emotional state and rather badly of your reason. In your bondage to one who betrayed the Goddess, you have my deepest sympathy.
Terry (in the same newsletter): Due to my disagreement over the movement’s decision to ban Bob from activities at Selene I fail to see how I can continue to participate in any further discussion on a P.M. priesthood which would inevitably have its function there. Your ways are not mine and the treatment of Bob’s case only goes to prove this.....
Terry dropped out of the Movement and rejoined several times and was otherwise erratically in or out of communication. Her next relevant communication to the Movement was her letter of introduction in Newsletter 86 on 8 April this year when she rejoined:
Terry, N86 8 April 1981: Greetings to old friends and new..... Many thanks to Tony and Pat for allowing this perennial weed to rejoin the movement once again..... The reason for rejoining at this time lies in Samhain with Bob making amends for the broken promise. Like Kevin, I want to help Bob towards what must be done for his own sake as much as the sake of The Lady and the movement as a whole. Rejoining is a step in that direction. We talked about my decision to take the oath. At the time I thought no further than it being a way to force Bob’s hand. Things are different now. The Goddess within has made it plain the hurt she feels; only She knows why I had to wait so long for the realisation......
And then in Newsletter 88 on 8 July:
Terry, N88 8 July 1981: It is a great relief to see Bob has booked for Samhain. May he see the path through the coming months with clear sight and the Horned One give him the strength and courage to follow through Samhain’s ordeal.
[Tony] The events concerning Frank are sad in the extreme, and had he not died in June 1979, he’d be at this meeting now, since, among other reasons, he helped to create it. He too can’t be held as being quite as culpable in opposing initial actions, albeit neither can he be regarded as blameless, and this because he was initially deceived by the defiler and believed the lies that were told to him, and by the time he discovered the truth, he was too tightly bound by friendship to the group of which the defiler was a part. But let’s recount the events in their order. As I said, Frank opposed the initial ballots. In the newsletter following, on 19 March 1975, Frank proposed his own removal from his position as third secretary of the Movement in these terms:
Frank, N38 19 March 1975: Since before Yule I have been 3rd Secretary to P.M.
When I took up the position, I promised that I would serve the Movement to the best of my ability for a period of at least one year.
Now, as a result of the Ballot recorded in PMN37, I find that I am unable to attend P.M. meetings unless I dissociate from Bob Crossman. I meet, and worship, with Bob regularly, and he and I have experienced many wondrous things together. I cannot allow the decision of a group of strangers to influence my relationship with him, with Terry and the other members of our group. Many of those who voted in the ballot have never met us, and don’t know all the facts.
So, I am a secretary who can’t attend meetings. That doesn’t bother me overmuch, since we hold our own meetings. Yet I feel that, as Secretary, I should endorse the majority decision of the Movement. I will not make the required dissociation, yet I have a promise, which I won’t revoke, to serve the Movement. I see only one way out of the dilemma I am in, and that is to ask members to make the decision for me. I enclose a ballot paper for your consideration, and invite you to remove me, if that is your wish. If I am to remain as 3rd Sec. I will serve you as best I can but I will continue to worship with one you see fit to turn away. What kind of paganism is it, that shows such intolerance? In spite of all that has been said, I know that Bob did not withhold anything when he met the Goddess at Samhain. I was there.
Tony, N39 15 April 1975: Frank, I'm not replying to your remarks regarding your position as third secretary, but to your other remarks under this heading. You say that: "Many of those who voted in the ballot have never met us, and don't know all the facts." Your meaning is not quite clear, but I take it you intend both possible meanings, that is, that many of those who voted have never met you, and that many of those who voted don't know all the facts.
With regard to the first, whether or not the people have met the plunderer is not relevant; the question of his callous disregard of the Goddess in her pain has been shown and answered on the grounds of objective evidence. Your mention now of a meeting has the odour of a red herring. And in any case, of those who opposed the ballot, three had met him, while of those who supported the ballot, four had met him, which disposes even of your red herring.
With regard to your statement that many don't know all the facts, this might be true of George and Running Fox who joined the Movement recently, but even if this is so, their two votes balance each other; but more to the point, George has provided ample demonstration that he is well aware of the facts, while Running Fox admitted quite unequivocally that he wasn't. Much more seriously, though, is the fact that, other than George, all the people who supported the ballot have been members of the Movement for a long time, and most of them longer than yourself and have, therefore, been provided with all the facts. If there are any facts lacking, it is because the plunderer himself withheld them, and I've stated that, rather than be open, he lay low, covered in his cowardice, and made no public utterance until he well knew the time was passed. Thus your statement that many of those who voted didn't know all the facts stands to your shame and his shame, for the only facts that could have remained unknown are the facts that you or he withheld, and those for shameful motives.
Your relationship with Bob who abused the Goddess and your experiences with him are not amenable to objective comment, but since you mention what is only possible to appraise subjectively and privately, but in a context which attempts to form public attitudes in an unfair way, I'll mention here that it has not only been demonstrated that Bob who abused the Goddess has lied, but I have shown you in private correspondence that he lied to you about it, which says something about your relationship, and something very significant if you claim to be in coven with him. He has lied, not only in the rite of the May and subsequently in public, but even to those with whom he supposes to work as in a coven. There, then, is unproven material to set against your own unproven utterances. For my part, I will readily prove what I say by quoting from our correspondence, and thus placing it where all members might make their own judgements instead of having to rely on your word or on mine. Will you agree to this?
I don't know how you have the temerity to say "I know that Bob did not withhold anything when he met the Goddess at Samhain. I was there." Firstly, you can't know such a thing as this about another. Secondly, I don't know by what authority, what ethic, what love or what honour you set aside so utterly the promise he made in the May circle when he pledged the time and the place of the dark tryst of Winter. And thirdly, you were not here. Like the plunderer himself, you were far away and had no eyes to see and no ears to hear the pitiful sight and the sorrowful sound of the Goddess bereft of the lover who promised to be by her in her pain, but left her to suffer alone.
"What kind of paganism is it, that shows such intolerance?" It is a kind of paganism that will not tolerate abuse, the false promise, the rape and desertion of the Goddess. What other kind of paganism is there?
Frank made no reply to that, but his other newsletter contributions were so tinged with nuances of aggression that he was voted subject to the supervision of censors for six months. He determined to resign from the Movement, but then reversed his decision, and did in fact, later, resign and rejoin a number of times. However, through private correspondence which was intensive, he came to realise that Bob had lied to him, but felt that the retribution had been too severe. Within two years, Frank, Greg, Pat and myself were working together through correspondence to create the Rite of Samhain 1981, so far had things progressed between us, and I was using Frank as an agent in the "enemy camp", as it were, to catalyse progress. Frank's position was very difficult with dual and, in part antagonistic, loyalties, and further difficult in that he had to work on Bob while not driving him away, and even further, had to maintain secrecy with Terry, the priestess of his coven, lest she, who lived so much closer to Bob, find the strategy too much of a strain to bear.
Cooperation was so intense that Mab herself decreed that Pat and I break our oath of dissociation from those who would not dissociate with Bob, and which oath we had sworn in the name of the Shadow - but only for Frank (and at this stage it was in fact strategic that Frank didn't dissociate from Bob). The full account of the breaking of the oath is recorded in Newsletter 67 which was devoted to Frank when he died. Here's an account as it was written in Newsletter 67 on 28 August 1979:
Tony, N67 28 August 1979: Now we were sundered from Frank by an oath of allegiance to the Goddess and we knew, at the time of his setting his feet to the path perilous that we could not be together in worship of our gods for five years. But we accepted that and honoured it.
However, the Goddess herself changed it, with no attempt by us, and no attempt by Frank. It was in this way. When I cursed Bob with the loneliness and sorrow of the Goddess, some remarkable things happened: the elder tree from which I took a twig which bore the curse is dying: the hawthorn tree from which I planted a berry for Mab was the only tree on all the land (and there are many other hawthorns) to break into flower next year in time for Bealtaine, and a week or two before all the others. And there's something else which is more far-reaching.
At the Samhain meeting to which Bob Crossman didn't come and broke his pledge that he made in the May, there were Pat, myself, Greg, Chris and Kevin. Pat, Chris and I went out to curse. Greg was in a dilemma and in the end he failed. Kevin from the start was unwilling and didn't go into the ring to curse the Goddess' deserter. I took Greg in the car to the railway station on the Sunday when he withdrew himself from the intended rite, and on the way home I saw a rainbow. It was brilliant in its colours, very short and quite straight, almost directly in front of me in the fields to the side of the road, and absolutely constant all the way from Caerfyrddin to Llandeilo. I was intensely at one with that rainbow, the very form of the Goddess herself, and so moved I was in awe and compassion for the Goddess and hatred for her defiler that when I got home I went out and straightaway went into the ring of stones in the gently falling rain and did what I had to do, and as I wrought the spell, the feelings flowed over me, of grief, of awe, of beauty, of love and of hatred. I was swept up in the Goddess' presence. I had gone to meet the Hag, and it was Mab herself who came to me, pitiful in sorrow, but awesome in beauty, and there was holiness all about. What I did, I did alone, save for the Goddess herself, and I said nothing of it, then, to the other people there gathered.
Now Chris went alone in the darkness of the evening out into the hills to curse the plunderer, and he had a magical experience, finding a forked stick in the path indentical with one he had dreamt about, and moreover, finding it on the very path whereon he had walked a few minutes before and no stick had been there. And round the Moon Chris saw a rainbow. Pat went into the ring in Dwy Nant alone in the dark of the evening to curse the defiler, and as she went towards Dwy Nant, in the dead of night, there was a rainbow arching over the entrance to the field.
Now Kevin went into Dwy Nant at the same time as Pat (but separately) and he saw nothing, and he said it was because he didn't look up. Kevin was opposed to us and hadn't gone to curse. I didn't tell anybody what I had seen until they all told me. So Kevin who wouldn't curse saw nothing, all of those (Chris, Pat and myself) who committed ourselves with the Goddess and cursed her defiler saw a rainbow, and two of them at night withal. And Kevin didn't even see the rainbow that was there!
Greg also saw nothing. Greg was sorely troubled for the whole year though, not being able to make up his mind whether he did right by not cursing Bob Crossman, or wrong by not doing honour by the Goddess. He came next Samhain hoping to resolve it by discussion, but got nowhere. In that state, he went into the ring of stones in Dwy Nant, and there the Goddess found him, and he did for her what he had to do, and all our talk was as if it were nothing compared with what the Goddess herself did with him. And shortly after that, Greg was involved in an argument in a pub with a number of friends and one of them was ridiculing the Goddess and Greg had to defend her in difficult circumstances, which he succeeded in doing. On the way home, the car crashed, and as it came to a stop, Greg saw a rainbow.
So we have, in effect, adopted the rainbow as our totem, or as our heraldic sign.
Now on 30 March 1977 Frank wrote: "Yesterday, Thursday afternoon, I took my friend Reg to meet Bob and Terry for the first time. We had a good discussion, and it was snowing outside. On the way home on the M6 I was led along by a perfect rainbow just in front of my car, about 20ft ahead. I was quite fascinated by this. At first I thought it was from my headlights, which were on, but when I checked that out, it wasn't. When I got to Rugby, the snow was about 1" deep and the landscape was quite incredibly beautiful, even breathtaking..... I'm even more convinced now that I'm on the right path. If only we could have done it in one year, instead of seven. I can't alter the past, but I do wish I could. I'd have fought a lot harder." This was in a period of Frank's coming to know Mab, and again, the vision wasn't shared for Frank writes in answer to my asking, "No, Reg couldn't see my rainbow: I asked him. Mine, too, was a short, vertical one, to my right..." Frank thought straight away that he was seeing what I saw, and he wrote to tell us. Because of the nature of what he saw, and what he said about it and his feelings about it, it was clear that he did indeed see what I saw, and what I saw was the Goddess. She, who had shown herself to us all as a rainbow, and so selectively, and so improbably, with no regard for the day or the night, or for whoever else might be there too, but couldn't see... She had shown herself to Frank, and declared thereby that Frank was of her court. She herself had chosen him.
So now we had a mighty dilemma. Should we or should we not worship with Frank? It wasn't a question of whether or not we wanted to, but whether the Goddess required us to. Could we forswear the oath sworn in the name of the Hag, the Avenger, and escape with impunity? But dare we gainsay the demand of the Faerie Queen? We asked Frank, and Frank urged us neither way. It was nearly Bealtaine. I couldn't put off coming to a decision; that would be cowardly, and tantamount to a betrayal of both Maghu and Mab. I dreamed about it, so great was my dilemma. In the end there was only one choice, and the May was all upon us. Mab demanded, and for love of her, we could not deny her. But the oath was made in the name of Maghu, and neither could it be set aside with impunity. To have the love of Mab was to confront the wrath and the vengeance of Maghu. To avoid the vengeance of the Hag was to deny the queendom of Mab. We made our choice. We enacted a May rite of fealty to Mab and accepted from the Hag whatever must be, but not more than must be. So on that occasion, the one and only occasion, we broke our oath, fully aware of the consequences and accepting those consequences, because Mab herself had claimed her lover, and she would have her knights united. There was little prospect of actually worshipping with Frank because of Frank's commitments, but the intention was made, and we did indeed suffer the vengeance of Maghu in many ways in a remarkably short time, including a burglery and poisoned water. But not for a moment would we have had it that our choice had been other than it was.
Now the only time when Frank and we did actually worship together was on that beautiful occasion when Frank and Pat were together and Mab herself was with us, and Brirn to do her love. In the very midst of it, I knew they were with us, and I was filled with awe; and the Goddess for whom I had gone willingly to the Hag was here in all her loveliness and enchantment and vindicated all that we had done for her.
Now there's something about which I'm not going to be dogmatic because I don't know, but here it is. We could have waited the seven years before meeting Frank in worship. But... Could we really? We couldn't, could we? Frank died when only four and a half of those years had fled. The only possible way that Frank and we could ever worship together was by the breaking of the oath. And further, since we couldn't read the future, the only way we could possibly worship together was for the gods themselves, and our beloved Mab, to come of their own bidding and turn our love into magnificence and beauty, and give to the ephemeral the quality and everlastingness of the eternal.
Now while Frank was, years ago, deceived by Bob's lies, he came to know them for the lies they were, and while he didn't agree with the seven years we imposed, thinking a year adequate, neither did he gainsay what we did. But most importantly, he was firmly committed with Samhain 1981, and was firmly committed with doing all possible to ensure that Bob meet his obligations and stand up before the Goddess he betrayed. I think he was prepared to dissociate from Bob preparatory to Bob's coming to terms with his duty, but I can't be dogmatic about that because it's something which, while I think I could read it in Frank's soul, I could not, and would not, take from him in words because it was sacred. Frank was in a difficult position, trying to retain Bob's confidence while also being committed to making him aware. Frank's commitment is not merely verbal; it's not merely expression of a wish or a sentiment or an opinion. He was deeply committed. And this is why I feel so sad when I think of Samhain 1981; because Frank will not be present, though his works will.>
The sacrilege of the false pledge had devastating effect throughout the Movement. During the first full year of the Movement's existence, 1970, we published the equivalwnt of about 4 pages of material in the newsletters (calculated as A4). In 1971 we published 8 pages; in 1972, 11 pages; in 1973 52 pages and in 1974 211 pages, which was a rapid increase. It was at the end of 1974 that the Goddess found herself bereft of her lover. In 1975, the following year, the number of pages published had dropped slightly to 192, though some 15 of those pages were devoted to the sacrilege and its arguments and counterarguments, while a similar number were taken up with the secretarial corruption of Jim Ellis. By next year, however, 1976, the number of pages had dropped nearly 10-fold to 24, and by the following year, 1975, there was a further 10-fold drop to 2 pages. It was not until towards the end of 1978 that the Movement began to recover with 15 pages, to reach 146 pages in 1979 and 175 last year. Parallel with this index of the Movement was that of the number of people who declared themselves ready to shun the defiler. In the immediate wake of the sacrilege, 16 people so declared themselves. Next year, 1976, there were none. In 1977 there were none. Throughout 1978 there was but 1. With the revival of morale in 1979, 10 people so de clared themselves, and in 1980 there were 30 such declarations, and they continue to come in during 1981.
It's a fact that the vast majority of members nowadays are prepared to declare themselves ready to support the Goddess and shun her deserter. Some are willing to do so straight away; others ask for more information before they are ready to make their commitment; others raise objections and demand yet more information before they feel able to declare themselves for the Goddess. Very few have declined and persisted in their unwillingness. One such was Dave Bell who was too faint-hearted to make the commitment and resigned from the Movement. Since he had also just invoked the Morrighan and then showed her his back when some occult friends sowed fears in his heart, his future path is not an enviable one. Another two were Elrond and Nahnia, and of all people, only they had a valid reason for declining, but it's also a reason for turning away from the Goddess and writing only the kind of poetry that is empty; and that's no poetry at all. Others, a few, drifted out or resigned for other reasons before confronting the question and no longer concern us.
I respect those who made their declaration for the Goddess. I respect even more those who raised objections and insisted on arguing, and most respect of all goes to those who pushed the argument the farthest because the decision they eventually made was a weighty one. It's been my practice in recent years always to enclose a form of covenant of dissociation in postings to those members who have not declared themselves on the matter. If they just ignore it, they earn both a little contempt and a further form with the next posting. If they continue to ignore it, they get a personal letter asking them to justify their silence with regard to the Goddess' hurt. After writing many letters, I eventually took to making copies. If people ask for further information, I send them the details of the events of the Broken Pledge. Most people find this adequate. If they don't, I send them a further screed explaining the sacrilege in archetypal terms. If they need further information, I send them the underlying mythology. If they find that too inadequate, I send them on loan all the newsletters issued at the time and wherein our arguments were recorded. And throughout all this, I have always provided complete and detailed argument to any and every point individually raised. Here's the first screed that people receive if they ask for information (and it will also, at this stage, provide a summary of what has gone before). It's entitled The Contract of Dissociation and the Broken Pledge'.
THE CONTRACT OF DISSOCIATION AND THE BROKEN PLEDGE
We were met for the May Rite in 1974. In those days, we were anarchistic about rites. We used to come together with whatever ideas we had, whatever we had gathered from previous years (very little), and whatever else we could think up between us when we were gathered together. In practice I supplied nearly all the ideas, but nevertheless, we worked on them together. Among those present at that meeting were Bob Crossman and Terry (now Terry Crossman - her formal name is Thereza). Pat and Terry were both willing to bear the kachina of the May Queen, and both were in fact keen to do so. Yet however strongly Pat wanted to do so, she felt even more strongly that she would like Terry to have her wish. And so Pat deferred to Terry, and Terry was accepted as the priestess of the Maiden-goddess. We asked for volunteers then for the Sun and the Horned God, and the Sun was allocated without bother, but both Chris and Bob wanted to be the Horned One. We didn't come to a decision straight away, but discussed around it, and then came back to it and I asked again who was going to bear the horns. Bob said, in an ill-mannered way, "I thought I was going to be the Horned God." No decision had in fact been made, but he, Bob, had made his own decision and regarded it as final, but no allowance for the wishes of the other men present. Chris was prepared to defer to him, but we didn't allow this because of the way Bob was asserting himself. Chris was gentle; Bob was totally inconsiderate. I asked them both then if they were "keen", and both said they were; I asked them if they were "very keen", and both said they were. There was nothing to choose between them on the basis of their keeness. So I asked them then if they were prepared to come back here in November and meet the Goddess in the stone circle for the dark tryst of Samhain, and I described the Rite of Samhain to them in detail, and both said they would, and that was a pledge made to all the people gathered there, and a pledge for the Goddess. There was still nothing to choose between them, so at that stage, I allowed one to defer to the other. Chris deferred to Bob immediately, and Bob gave not a thought to Chris. Nevertheless we all accepted Bob and I accepted his part as a valid way to play the part; he had played it as a challenge, and it had to be in that way that we accepted him.
Next morning, though, Terry said she felt unable to go through with it, and Bob said that he too now felt unable to bear the Horns. This meant that Pat would have to bear the kachina of the Moon-maiden at almost no notice at all, and similarly Chris, who had so readily granted Bob his wish, was likely also to have to take the role now with no preparation at all. But I also felt that Terry, who had set her heart on being the May Queen, would be disappointed if she failed. Had she never intended to take the part, it wouldn't have mattered; but to have been given the part in accordance with her ambition, and then to fail, would be very bad for her. So I went with Bob to the bottom of the field where Terry was sitting on a fallen tree, and I spoke to Terry and I did other things for her than speaking, and I invoked the Goddess for her, and then, without any words, Terry was able to bear the kachina of the Goddess, and Bob was again able to bear the kachina of the Horned One, and we three came back, hand-in-hand, up the field and into the house and told everyone that all was well again. And so we all went out into the field and enacted the May Rite, and Terry was Queen of the May and Bob was the Horned One.
Now as Samhain approached, I reminded Bob of his pledge, and Bob wrote back that he wasn't going to come. He was reminded of his pledge, but he discounted it. He said he had other obligations now that he didn't have when he made his pledge, but these other obligations with his own coven were only in fact acquired after making the pledge, and so should never have been acquired. He then said he didn't pledge himself to come in an absolute way, but made his pledge conditional; he pledged to come only "if he could". I had to point out that that was a lie, and furthermore, the whole meeting would not have accepted a conditional pledge from one man if another (Chris) offered an absolute one. He subsequently modified that, and he said he could meet the Goddess when and where he chose as he was the Horned One, but I had to tell him that he pledged both the time and the place. He then said it wasn't himself that made the pledge, but the Horned One speaking through him, and I had to point out that he was now making out the Horned One himself to be a liar. He lied to his friends about it and it was some years before I was able to convince some of them (and one in particular) that they had been lied to and deceived. I wrote stuff in the newsletter before that Samhain to show him the mythology behind his actions, and I even had one of the members rewrite the story of Cu Chulainn and the Bachlach to show him what he was doing.
But when Samhain was upon us, he didn't come (but Chris did). We waited until midnight, but still he didn't come. So next day, those of us who felt it, went out and cursed him for seven years with the loneliness of the deserted Goddess, and we pledged ourselves not to associate with him until he atone to the Goddess in Samhain 1981.
Those are the details of the actual events insofar as Bob Crossman was responsible for them, and insofar as we took our own action in consequence of his sacrilege. Further details are available if you need them, as well as an account of the further ramifications (regarding the archetypes) for the Pagan Movement. If you want more information let us know. If you want to check the facts or their significance with Bob Crossman himself (and he now, after five years, has come to admit his culpability) you can write to him at: (Address given)
Pagan Movement (Address given)
The follow-on screed we sent to people was entitled The Broken Promise and the Archetypes (Confidential)' and is quoted in full below:
THE BROKEN PROMISE AND THE ARCHETYPES (Confidential)
As people, we're frail, though a lot of us have moments of beauty, grandeur, nobility and other sentiments which transcend our everyday experiences. These high-lights in their purest forms are the Archetypes. For example, the feeling of lust comes in various shades with various intensities. Without being too rigid for this purpose, we can project, or try to project, an idealised "lust"; perhaps others, or even oneself, will later develop this projection, improve it, make it more vivid. Gradually, we move towards a "perfect" portrayal of lust. Gradually, we move towards (gradually we discover, uncover) the Archetype of lust. And more generally, all of our sentiments (of which lust was just one example) can be regarded as expressions, variously clear or murky, of idealised forms, and these idealised forms (whether realised or not) are the Archetypes. And the Archetypes are the gods.
Now the May Queen is one archetype; she is the archetype of the perfect maid, driven by lust, irresistible, immensely powerful. She is able to evoke immensely powerful feelings in us. (Imagine a maid who, on the one hand, is treated as a person without rights, despised, ignored; such a maid might evoke pity, but might equally evoke contempt, depending on the social climate. Imagine, on the other hand, a maid who has power to see her desire carried out, has power to make gifts or withold them, who can be influenced by a noble, or a lustful, deed, but not by begging, nor by cheating. Such a maid is attractive, exciting, worthy of worship, and commands loyalty. Such a maid has charisma.) Now we have a need (or some of us do) to be able to worship, and in particular, to be able to worship a goddess, and more particularly a maiden-goddess who has the power of a queen and who is no man's slave or servant. Such a goddess we project (as well as we can) and the priestess bears the kachina. Now the strength or magic or allure and wonder of such a goddess is our own strength, resolution, constancy, and loyalty. She is made by our own psychic energy; and our own psychic energy, in turn, is drawn from our loyalty, our togetherness or oneness (atonement) with the archetype we have built together. We are the body of such a Goddess; and such a goddess is our soul.
Now, a man pledges himself with her and is honoured (because she can choose whom she will, whether by whim or by imposing conditions). Only such a woman (a goddess) can give this kind of honour to a man. She is powerful, a queen, a goddess, and commands loyalty. We give her our total love, our total trust, and our total loyalty, and she in turn gives precisely those boons to us. We don't get this kind of totality in our mundane lives where we are always wondering if we'll get what we were led to expect. Ordinary people fail us time and again for a host of reasons. But in the priestess, the queen, the goddess, we trust absolutely. But her power (she is only a woman after all) is not in her physical strength but in the loyalty she commands, and this by reason of her magic.
Now if a man pledge himself with her, accept her gift, and then cheat her, what status is the archetype? It needs a repair job, doesn't it? And this is what's at the basis of the contract.
Various choices are open to us, ranging from doing nothing about it and adopting an attitude of forgiveness towards the cheat, to the other extreme of total and permanent excommunication and a curse for life. The two issues which we have to consider are: (a) the person of the cheat, and (b) the status of the archetype. (There are other considerations too such as the status of the whole thing within our total mythos).
IF we forgave the cheat and took no action against him, or weak action, what would be our sentiment on a future occasion in the May when the Goddess (in her priestess) is offering herself to another man? How will we feel? We'll feel something like "When the time comes, will he or won't he?" In other words, we'll lack the containment-feeling of perfect love, perfect trust, and perfect loyalty. It will be trivialised in our psyche even before it has been enacted. For the man himself, it will be a comparatively small event. He knows he walks a path that even a cheat has walked before him and reaped only forgiveness or a token rebuke for his shame. It would be a tinsel goddess. The only deed of greatness that the man could do then would be a deed of greatness that came, directly and unaided, out of his own greatness; and of that, few are capable. But it's our business, in our togetherness, to experience greatness even in the midst of weakness.
So suppose we take effective action; we impose a penalty on the cheat, and it's a considerable penalty. The man who now pledges himself with the Goddess (in her priestess) knows he is making a significant pledge, and does not give it lightly. The fact that he can't give it lightly, that he must give it with gravity, forces him to greatness in his psyche. Whether he is naturally weak or strong, the power of the Goddess (in her priestess) who cannot be cheated with impunity, and the loyalty of her people who will support her and fight for her, defines her power, and the man, however weak, in pledging himself, is doing a great deed. It's an event with a tremendous psychic feedback.
Now however we feel about this as a concept or collection of concepts, the fact that it has actually happened is also immensely important. We've demonstrated to everybody that the Goddess is not just a projection of fickle and arbitrary emotion; she is a power. She determines our behaviour. We've done dificult deeds for her. We can be trusted. We've had our test; we've run the gauntlet of people's hate; we've lost members too weak-willed to face up to our duty to preserve the archetypes against erosion and dissolution into the values of the throw-away culture. We've shown the strength of our metal. And people can trust us. They know the kind of Goddess we worship, and they know she is a Goddess who commands warriors - a Goddess who can make her promises good.
Now for the cheat himself. If nothing is done, either he remains at a shallow level of worship, or he comes eventually to realise his crime (by meeting in his psyche the barriers that he has placed there). What then would be his plight? How would he make amends? Well, we've provided him with the means. He won't have the problem for evermore because we've accepted it as our problem. We've offered him a means of making amends.
And lastly, for the other people... In the strange, unforeseen ways that the gods defy our wisdom and build greatness where we could see only decay, I'm grateful to Bob for the part he played (but he mustn't learn of this until after Samhain 1981). It's a myth with deep roots in our psyche, and portrayed in the legends. For most people, it's a theory; to us it actually happened. Bob is not just Bob; he played the archetype of the cheat, and forced us all, thereby, to declare our loyalty or to foreswear it. We haven't been allowed to remain as a laity. The Goddess needs a priesthood, and she forced it upon us by imposing a very hard decision. We're no longer a Movement enacting sham rites in the shadow of the old myths; we are ourselves those very myths, and the ordeals are with us, here, now.
Our magic is not just of the mind, deeds imagined and as easily dis-imagined. A lot of it is now history, and that's unalterable. We bear the battle scars, and our hands are hard; but we bear them for the Goddess, a Goddess who has our total trust, our total love, and our total loyalty, and in return we each of us have all of these from her.
For Mab who taught men honour
and to whom all lust shall be sworn>
And now follow the names of all the people who, over the years since the breaking of the pledge and the forsaking of the Goddess, have declared themselves for the Goddess and committed to shun the cheat who pledged her false. Some people varied the form of the covenant, and we'll list all the variations afterwards, but most people committed themselves with the words offered on the form which was called Contract'. Here are the words:
" I promise that, because Bob Crossman withheld from the Goddess at
Samhain what he promised at Bealtaine to give her at Samhain, I
will not meet with him for magic or for worship until he atone
to the Goddess in Samhain 1981 at the place and the time decided
by the Movement for the rite of Samhain. "
And here are the names in chronological order (surnames were present):
Tony, Pat, Jan, Brian, Dwight, Lyn, George, Chris, Michael, Greg, John, M D, Frances, Sylvia, Robert, Irene, Si, Nora, Jo, Wendy, Walter, Mitch, Michael, Ken, Gordon, Jo, Diana, Charles, Don, Bonnie, Jim, Tim, Dave, Duncan, Melchie, Eric, Tony, Martin, Marie, Francis, Alan, Janian, Ros, Geoff, John, Harry, Ian, Anthony, Lesley, John, Ian, Kevin, Joe, Sapiente, Jorg, Jonathan, Jenny, John, Lyndon, Terry, Nigel, Harry, Mara, Adam, Grahame, Sallie, Catherine, Neville, Lorraine, Ted, David, Charley, Alasdair, Chris.
And here now, also in chronological order, are the variations, some minor and some major:
Tony: For what Bob, who is hateful, did to our beloved Mab, for seven years I will not associate with him in magic or worship, and nor with anyone who will so associate with him unless they break that association, and this I pledge in the name of Maghu.
Pat: I will not join with Bob, who defiled the Goddess, in any act of magic or worship until seven years have passed, and nor with any who will not also shun him in their magic and worship for the pain and sorrow he brought to our beloved Mab. I give my pledge in the name of Maghu.
Dwight: I promise that, because Bob Crossman withheld from the Goddess at Samhain what he promised at Bealtaine to give her at Samhain, I will not meet with him for magic or for worship.
Lyn: I promise that, because Bob Crossman withheld from the Goddess at Samhain what he promised at Bealtaine to give her at Samhain, I will not meet with him for magic or for worship.
Joe: I promise that, because Bob Crossman withheld from the Goddess at Samhain what he promised at Bealtaine to give her at Samhain, I will not meet with him, correspond with him, or in any way communicate with him, for magic, worship, or any other purpose, until and unless he atone to the Goddess in Samhain 1981 at the place and the time decided by the Movement for the rite of Samhain.
This I swear in the name of Maghu
Jorg: I, trusting your information about the case, promise not to perform any act of magic or ritual with Bob, until he fulfilled his broken promise for the Goddess.
Mara: I promise that because Bob Crossman broke his pledge and given word over ritual observance regarding Samhain to the Pagans at Can y Lloer on the occasion of the Bealtaine Rite 1974, I will not meet with him and so compromise the people of the Pagan Movement until such time as he shall atone for this omission.
Ted: I promise that, because Bob Crossman withheld from the Goddess at Samhain what he promised at Bealtaine to give her at Samhain, I will not knowingly meet with him for magic or for worship until he atone to the Goddess in Samhain 1981 at the place and the time decided by the Movement for the rite of Samhain.
Alasdair: Whereas it were better that a pledge be given by word of mouth before all members of the Movement, but that not being possible, then in fealty and by my own hand I enter the Covenant:
Whereby I declare that, because Bob Crossman withheld from the Goddess at Samhain what he promised at Bealtaine to give Her at Samhain, I will not meet knowingly with him for magic or for worship at Selene or elsewhere until he atone to the Goddess in Samhain 1981 at the place and time decided by the Movement for the rite of Samhain and until such time as the Movement may proclaim Bob Crossman as having made fit atonement and being acceptable to work and worship within the Movement should he so desire.
On the seventh anniversary of the giving of the pledge, I wrote to every person whose address was still available and who had at any time during their time of membership committed themself to stand by the Goddess and shun her forsaker, inviting them to this Rite of Samhain. Two addresses were not known. Most made no response, but bearing in mind that people tend to change their address, on average, once in three years, in seven years, roughly 94% of those people would have moved. Nevertheless four people responded, namely John B, Diana, George and Jan N. None accepted the invitation to come. George regretted his inability, being an old-age pensioner on a low income. Diana said she would remember the day and the candles would be burning on her altar. Jan expressed an interest in rejoining the Movement and thanked us for remembering her.
Let's turn back now to the Samhain newsletter, Number 70 of 13 November 1979:
Tony: It was in 1974, in the May, that Bob Crossman, by the force of his will and the lust of his loins, gainsaid the other men then gathered, and won the Horns and the love of the May Queen, and in the winning, he pledged her his love in the joy of the May and, no less, in the sorrow of the Dark tryst of Samhain. But he carried treachery in his heart and a lie on his tongue, and when Samhain was upon us and the Goddess, bent-backed and aged, searched in the cold November winds, she found an empty tryst, while her fickle and fork-tongued erstwhile lover courted another, with other people, in another place. Old friends were betrayed; new friends were bought with deception, and the Goddess lay plundered and cast aside.....
But what of a false lover that came not back when the leaves were cast all about her? Communication was parried and then, for years, suspended. Another attempt was made a few months ago and again the arguments were pushed away and false arguments asserted in their place. And then on 31 August (1979) Greg wrote to the Goddess' forsaker:
A reply to your last letter..... You say Tony is implacable and has acted as if he is the sole priest of the Lady. Well, isn't that how a good priest should act? Everyone else has a right to relate to her how they will, of course, and it is not for me, Tony, or anyone else to interfere with other people's pattern of worship. However, inasmuch as you were worshipping with us I feel we have a right to defend the gods we worship to the absolute limit and do anything necessary to that end. You can't make a covenant of worship in one group and fulfil it in another. The Goddess may, in absolute terms, be one whatever name we call her. But we can relate to her in her passion, in her warmth, and in her pain only as she whom we know by the name by which we know her. Otherwise the godhead becomes an abstract concept or some transcendent being removed from the earth. If that's your idea of the godhead you should be with the christians. But you're not with the christians, you've chosen the pagan way. That being so you should have been prepared to fulfil the covenant you made. "Tellus of the myriad names answers to but one name" as one poet put it. The name by which you know her is the name by which she knows you, as it were. You can't just switch around at random. I emphasise this aspect of it because it is the most important. But you seem to view it in the less important (but by no means unimportant) terms of having let down your fellow worshippers, and in particular Tony. That is so, of course, and you would do well to remedy that even if that were the last you had to do with Selene. But the main issue should not be the ego problems that you have with Tony because of his inevitable intransigence on this matter, but the question of how you can ever maintain a relationship with the Goddess (however you name her) again, when you have made a covenant with her in one place and not returned there to honour it. Surely for pagans place is as important as season. Paganism is essentially a local religion. A goddess invoked in the fields of Can y Lloer is the Goddess in Can y Lloer but validly regarded as a goddess in Birmingham. I found that difficult to say because theology of this sort is a delicate matter but I'm treading on precarious ground because I want to convey the importance of this to us as pagans. In it may well lie the future of paganism for us as well as yourself. I hope you won't just parry these thrusts with glib objections and I've tried to be as constructive as possible in making this letter useful to you. Tony's response to you was more intransigent then mine because he had no choice. To do otherwise would be to endanger his relationship with the Goddess. Inasmuch as I am being less intransigent than him I am risking this too. I can afford to take the risk more than Tony and Pat can because the actual responses at the time of Samhain 1974 were different. Nevertheless Tony and Pat risked much more than I did on Frank's behalf and your reference to this indicates that you probably don't understand the full import of it. I see no reason why everyone involved at the time should not know of this providing that they are told the full facts of the matter and not an incomplete version. When one serves the Goddess one has no choice but to take risks on her behalf in such an awkward situation as the one you have put us in. The decision to make an exception of Frank was not taken lightly but we did it for Frank and we did it because we were convinced that was what the Goddess wanted. Such a decision could not be without consequences and these have had to be borne. But if we have to answer to the Hag for the deeds we do at the bidding of the Faery Queen, then so it must be. We will not play her false.
Terry says "the circle had not been cast" when you made your pledge and for that reason you feel you are not bound by it except insofar as it affects your relationship with others who were there. Well, that must remain a matter of dispute. But why do you feel that you can make false pledges to the Goddess even outside a drawn circle? And is your relationship to your fellow worshippers really so firmly distinguished from relationships with the gods you worship? Again, I ask these questions so that you may think about the consequences of your attitude for yourself as well as for us. Please don't think of glib ways to parry them. I'd like a careful and honestly considered response in the context of what it means for your paganism and ours. It really is no good thinking about this in any other way. It is not to appease Tony that you need to come to Selene in 1981, but to meet the Goddess. It would not matter if you never patched things up with Tony were you to be sincere in coming to fulfil your pledge. It would be a pity, of course, but it is not primarily what is at stake as you seem to think. Terry asks what proof Tony would take to show that the Goddess hasn't been hurt by you. Well I'll discuss that with him but I don't think we can deterine such things. After all, you're bound to see a rainbow sometime, aren't you? Rather, I would say that the best proof we could have of your attitude to the Goddess (which would tell us of her attitude to you) would be in your actions. That is, in what you are prepared to do to ensure that her worship is valid and not subject to the individual whims or problems of one of her number. It is up to us to help each other over these problems. But not to condone the negative effects of them by mistaken tolerance of a slap-dash attitude. Terry said she would like us all to be able to worship together again. That is in your hands while Terry remains loyal to you. You need to see beyond the immediate threat which Tony appears to be to you. Our religion is more important than conflicts between individuals and this is not what the matter is about. Please think about what I have said and don't rush into a hasty reply. There's a lot at stake and it affects more than any of us as individuals.
For the Goddess (signed) Greg
10 Sep 1979
Bob Crossman: Dear Greg - There is no need for me to reply point-by-point or in depth to your letter; your words have reached me, and I know now that I was wrong so many years ago and am truly sorry for the wrong that I did to the Goddess of Can y Lloer and her people. For that wrong reparation will be made and as my parting words were to you it will be put right. After your words I could not say anything else and still call myself priest if indeed priest I still am.
Bob Crossman: After receiving a visit from and a certain communication from
End Oct 1979 Greg, which opened my eyes I can't say but otherwise, that I wronged the Goddess of the fields of Can y Lloer and her people that fateful Bealtaine, and do now intend to do all in my power to right that wrong, in the only way possible, that being by returning to the scene of the original wrong, and putting myself in the hands of the wronged Goddess, so long as it remains in my power to do so.
Tony: Well, Bob, it's taken you five years of wandering in the Waste Lands to make the resolve you have now made and to pledge yourself with the Goddess you forsook. And shall we now take your pledge as truth though you have taught us, by the very breaking, to know it as a lie? When the neophyte swears: "Perfect Love, Perfect Trust, Perfect Loyalty", shall it be mere formality, an empty survival from a vanished ethic? Or shall it be, in the heart of a pagan, a bond whereon a fellow pagan might set their all? If we had shown you tolerance and made you an easy path, how would you have another ever trust you again? And what of the Goddess none will defend but turn their backs when she lies bleeding and forsaken?
So do I trust you now? Indeed I do! The pledge that first you gave was easier in the giving than in the keeping, and in truth, I all but knew when you gave it that you would break it. But the pledge that now you give has been more difficult by far than will be its keeping, and as surely as I knew you would break the first, I know you will keep the second.
You refer to the Fateful Bealtaine', though more fateful was the Samhain that followed, yet it's true that all was not as it should have been in the May. Of all the people who came, only I, with Aeron the Wanderer' had a story to offer; no one else brought a story, a poem, a song, or anything at all. They all came empty handed. And when I had read my story, there was not a comment on it, neither criticism nor appreciation, but total and utter silence. When we danced round the Maypole the Sun began to break through the clouds, and then - for a fool had set it up - it tumbled and was broken, and the Sun hid his face. And a cold wind blew over the grass as the maytide seeds were sown. I forecast, when I wrote of it, a reckoning underneath the elder tree, and there followed a barren Summer. Contrary to our previous practice of deference, one to another, you wrested the horns from the others, and from Chris in partricular, by an ungentle manner and you bore them then by right of conquest, and a right that, in truth, I could not, and would not, deny. And therein you were pledged with Samhain. In the following months you intensified conflict with me and then announced your intention to desert the Goddess with whom you were sworn, and to enact a rite in another place, and with other people.
And so it became clear to me then, by your aggressive stance in the May and by your subsequent conflict with me, and by your shrinking from the tryst of Samhain, that you had cast me in the role of the Bachlach in the Hall of Emhain Mhaca wherein was Cu Chulainn feasting (or the story of Sir Bertilak, the Green Knight, who entered the hall wherein Gawain, of all the knights there gathered, accepted the challenge, hewed off the head of the Giant Knight, and pledged himself then to meet him in the dark tryst of Samhain). I even asked Michael to write a suitable version of the story of Cu Chulainn in the hope that you would read it and see in it the path whereon you stood (see his The Champion of Emhain' in N34 of 28 October 1974). But you broke the pledge and thus set your feet in the Waste Lands for seven years
Suin hi wus kussed hur rosy lups,
All onderneath the Eildon Tree.
"Noo ye maun gae wu' mi," shi said,
"Trui Tamas, ye maun gae wu' mi,
Ond ye maun sairve me suvun yeers,
Thro weal or woe, as chance ma bi,"
Ego was at stake, false ego, even as Sir Gawain was pledged to offer his head to the Green Knight, to Sir Bertilak, and even as Cu Chulainn was pledged to offer his head to the Bachlach, the Giant Herdsman. I couldn't tell you this at the time, could I? Nor could I persuade you with soft words. Nor could I even write to you what Greg wrote to you because I had to bear the kachina that you, by your action, had thrust on me. To you, I was the Green Knight, though you didn't know it (and if you had known, your very knowledge would have rendered it nought but ashes). In your letter of 10 September, you have offered me your head', your ego, and though I raise the sword, I will not bring it down. You have done what is difficult; you have confronted me. You have confessed the wrong you wrought. You have expressed doubt of your being still a priest, and in that expression, you show you have indeed the qualities of a priest.
There remain two years in the wilderness, but no longer pathless years. I shall still ask people to sign the contract to shun you while those two years run their course, for the Goddess shall be righted of her hurt, healed of her grief, and pledged, by our constancy, of her honour. But I have no more hatred for you. Indeed, I have a certain respect.
How shall it be now, between you and the Goddess, till another two Suns have grown old?
And now on 14 November 1981, how do we stand? I know that you have been making preparation, and that you have complied with our directions through Kevin as an intermediary in communication. And more than this, in the Pagan Movement battle against the Press, I asked you to write a letter, and you did that, and this is what you wrote:
FOR THE ATTENTION OF THE PRESS COUNCIL 4th November 1981
To whom it may concern,
It has been drawn to my attention that Tony Kelly, who I hold in the highest esteem despite our current differences, which will soon be resolved, is in dispute with The News of the World' over an article published by them concerning a rite of worship in which I was a major participant. That the published article was a misrepresentation of what really happened has been I believe drawn to the attention of the Press Council.
I did not take a passing fancy to the girl elected High Priestess'. For we were already going out together long before the rite was enacted; in fact we arrived together. She was not elected High Priestess, for she was that already, although, apart from myself, not over the people gathered for that festival.
The pair' were not cursed, only myself and not by Tony alone, but by a group of people gathered for a festival. I should also have been there in continuation of my role at the Spring festival, having given my word to do so. For the breaking of that word and the desolation of the Goddess, I and I alone was rightly cursed by the gathering forsaken by me.
It is a very sickening thing that we should be embroiled in a dispute of this nature at a time when Tony and myself are making preparation for my reparation of that wrong done by myself seven years ago.
I can only hope that will help Tony in his endeavour to show that The News of the World' are not interested in truth, but only in the distortion thereof.
This statement is made entirely of my own free will; if necessary I make myself available through Pagan Movement for any further comment on this sordid affair.
(signed) Bob Crossman
Well, Bob, that letter does you credit, both for its content and for the fact that you were under no obligation to write it. It was for the Goddess I asked you to write it, and that because you had your free will in the matter. And your own free will you have offered in service to the Goddess. For Mab who taught men honour, and to whom all lust shall be sworn, Mab the Enchantress and Queen of all the passions, Mab, our Queen and our Goddess who was wounded, and who shall be made whole again, we summon you now into the Court of the Winter, and we bid you, in hatred and in love, to lay before the Withered Wraith, the one thing you hold most dear.
As I said two years ago I say again now: The Hag has nothing to give, and if you surrendered all into her gnarled and twisted fingers, she would be no more content than had you surrendered her nothing at all. What would you hope to get from her hollow breasts, from her dark eyes that look only inward? What reward from the elder bough that she bears in the left hand? What wisdom would you ask of her when meaning itself dissolves before her like a snowflake in the slush, or like a raindrop in the moorland bog, or a cry in the wind? She, who is the very hole from which love has gone, the very pit out of which meaning was dug, what would you have of her? She has nothing to offer. Only all will satisfy her. And she will return no thanks. For with all, she is sated, and being sated is her undoing. And yours.
He is come, O Goddess,
O Shadow of shadows
And we are come,