AVOID POSERS & PELLARS
So many Seekers ask us for referrals that we must warn that many people who bill themselves as Witches and teachers of Wicca are to be avoided. If someone you meet claims to be a High Priestess or Priest, but sets off your inner alarm bells, proceed with extreme caution -- they may be a Poser.
No matter where you live, the rising popularity of Witchcraft inevitably brings with it some posers -- "wanna-blessed-bes" who proclaim themselves Witches, but act so contrary to the most basic Craft ethics that they end up personally threatening the very continuance of the Craft in your area. The phenomenon of scoundrels profiting by pretending to be Witches is so old, there's a Traditional Craft name for them -- Pellars (1).
Luckily, you can easily identify Posers and Pellars by their actions, as we and other Priestesses and Priests have learned through experience:
Posers try to make names for themselves by slandering honest Witches. They thrive on sowing community discord, spreading lies and vicious rumors about other, more experienced covens. They may plagiarize a well-known coven's name or publish stolen teaching materials in an effort to appropriate respectable covens' notoriety for themselves (2).
Posers are unscrupulous. You'll find their teachings to be shallow and unsatisfying, and frequently plagiarized from their own brief exposure to authentic teachers, or popular books. Posers can't be trusted. Some of them are thieves, taking what they can from your town before moving on to another. Many are psychologically unstable. Posers prey on vulnerable Seekers -- encouraging them to distrust more ethical Elders in their area. They mislead the public about standard Wiccan practices such as ritual nudity, or practicing divination. Such vehemence "against their own" repulses the public -- who thought Witches were supposedly tolerant.
In Wicca, talk is cheap, but deeds are dear. Wise Ones learn to avoid people who claim to be Witches, but expend their precious energy by needlessly, baselessly bashing others. For all their black clothes and boasting about their own magickal prowess, such ilk are nowhere to be found when the rest of us are battling on the front lines to defend our -- and their -- religious freedoms.
Look to the source, for that's how you'll know them. If they say they are a Priest/ess, who initiated them? Into what Tradition? If they say they are a teacher, then who taught them? It bodes most ill if you find out that their own parent coven has reculed (3) them.
However, don't be fooled by gossip forums like "realpagan.net" whose members claim to "vet" or "vouch for" the "legitimacy" of other Priest/esses and Traditions. That's not the Witch way, because Wicca has no central authority that can pass such judgements. We're not the Catholic Church, and we've been burned (all too literally!) by such inquisitions. In reality, only an Elder within a Priest/ess's specific Tradition and Lineage can vouch for that Priest/ess's legitimacy. But it's just the way of the world that there are always a few jealous folk who try to build up their own egos by tearing others down, pretending to be authorities when in fact they are nothing but — posers.
Please understand that we alert all in this public medium with natural reluctance. We do so only from a protective stance towards the Craft, and with the desire to warn others about the harm such people leave in their wake.(4)
The following persons have been reculed —
It is a matter of public record in the Gardnerian family of Witches that the following persons, formerly operating in the Asheville area, have been reculed by their former HPS's:
- • Maerin, of Coven Ravencroft, on April
6, 1999. As of Lammas 2007, the former Maerin is callng herself "Merlynn Ambrosia" and residing in Charlotte, N.C. She is reportedly contacting seekers she finds online and falsely claiming to have studied with Coven Oldenwilde.
• Asherah and Wolfstone, of Coven Shadowveil, on July 3, 2000.Asherah is an unfortunate victim of brain damage suffered after her elevation to the Third Degree. As of April 6, 2008, we have received reports that she has converted to fundamentalist Christianity and has begun spreading lurid fabrications and lies about Witchcraft. Her mundane name (which we are empowered to reveal now that she is no longer a Wiccan) is Nike Hadley, neé Thurston.
If you have need of further details,
please contact us.
1 As Gardnerians, we inherited the word in this pejorative meaning. The Oxford English Dictionary, however, cites "Pellar" as a word from Cornwall meaning "an exorcist; a wizard, conjurer" -- a "repeller" who specialized in "taking off" curses. In the 19th century, William Bottrell described Cornish people's springtime custom of making a pilgrimage to a "Pellar" of good repute to have "'their [magical] protection renewed'" (Wm. Bottrell, Stories and Folk-Lore of West Cornwall, p. 117, "Annual Visit of the West-Country folks to the Pellar of Helston", cited in Joyce froome, Wicked Enchantments: A History of the Pendle Witches and their Magic,, Carnegie Publishing, Lancaster, 2010, p. 177). Robert Cochrane (died 1966), who founded the Clan of Tubal-Cain, also called himself a pellar, and his followers use it as a term of honor, we have been informed. But to judge from Doreen Valiente's description of her experiences with Cochrane (chapter 8 in her The Rebirth of Witchcraft) -- the dubious and even fraudulent claims he made, and his aggressive slandering of Gerald Gardner -- Cochrane may have been the reason why the term acquired a negative connotation. (back)
2 Several years ago a Missouri woman we never met stole our coven name "Oldenwilde" and set up a shell website to sell her products on. An example of a website spreading lies, rumors, and community discord is RealPaganNetwork: RealPagan -- Paganism for the Real World; see Coven Oldenwilde's Response to Internet Libel on Realpagan.net (back)
3 "Recule" (from the Old French reculer, "to recoil [from]") is a Craft word meaning to banish, formally part ways with, "void". To be reculed by one's own High Priest/ess is the ultimate punishment, and a grave dishonor. (Note: There's no such thing as "warlocking" someone as a form of banishment -- as a Witch with Traditional training would know, this is actually an old mispronunciation of "warricking", a specific ritual practice that has nothing to do with reculement.) (back)
4 During the Burning Times such ilk attempted to eliminate their more magically powerful rivals, by hiring themselves out as Witchfinders. Many a good Witch died being so maligned from within their own ranks. Coven Elders often banished them as untrustworthy oath-breakers shunned by all. Traditional Witches take vows to this day to defend the Craft from any who pose a danger to it. (back)