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Author Topic: Was Scott Cunningham the best or worst thing that ever happened to the Craft?  (Read 5236 times)

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Ashe Isadora

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The best thing Scott did?  He made Wicca (well. not REALLY Wicca) available to the masses.  The worst thing Scott did?  He made Wicca available to to the masses. .Don't get me wrong, I love Scott Cunningham.  He brought me into the Craft and was a doorway for many, many others.  But he did advocate self initiation, something which is impossible, and allowed his publishers to call his religion Wicca, which was not Scott's idea.  They felt that witchcraft was too threatening and that the term Wicca might have more panache with the public and sell better.  And sell it did.

Scott was a BTW initiate and therefore oathbound not to discuss the particulars that define Wicca.  To his credit he didn't break his oaths.  So people who follow his path as described in his books for Solitaries are following an Eclectic Pagan Craft tradition, but it isn't Wicca since Scott couldn't, and didn't, discuss the Wiccan practices that make Wicca what it is - an oathbound, initiatory, mystery religion. 

I'd be interested in other members' thoughts about this author. Did his contributions outweigh the fact that he watered down an oathbound mystery religion, and left out its defining factors, to make a lovely (bastardized) pagan tradition more available? Or do you feel he created a mess in this community that we'll deal with for decades to come? 

All opinions are welcome, I know people can be emotional about this and that's fine.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2014, 01:02:08 PM by Ashe Isadora »
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C_A

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While there are several I would equate with the late Mssr Cunningham, (actually, if we bang our heads together we'd come up with over a dozen...how many are in "Ll's" stables today?), there are, indeed, worse.  ONE I could name gave me the inspiration for the phrase "Wicca With Meatballs" and another made a basically "X-Rated" "tradition" of Wicca.
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Ashe Isadora

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I think the cry of "But, but... Wicca is anything you want to be !"  is a legacy of SC, though out of fairness he did state that there were some conditions that had to be met to be Wiccan.  I don't think he had any idea of just how watered down the religion would become as generations of self proclaimed Wiccan High Priest/esses begat more undertrained folks.  Or how influential some of his compromises would become.
That he led many to spiritual peace and enlightenment I've no doubt, and he deserves praise for that. What bothers me, and has a deleterious effect on Neo-Paganism as a whole, is that so many of his readers think his books are the all there is to Wicca and that they possess more esoteric knowledge than they actually do.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2014, 02:25:14 PM by Ashe Isadora »
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Draconis Rex

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I'm inclined to agree with Ashe. He opened the world of Wicca up to the world, gave much food for thought and a marvellous base for prospective Wiccans to begin from and to advance. His writings are excellent and great points and works of reference for many. Many in recent past years have been fearful of the word Witch, seeing it as the works of the devil, but although Gardener essentially originated Wicca, Cunningham took away much of the stigma attached.
 
On the other hand, by exposing the world to Wicca as he did, he has opened it up not only to the world, but also the world of the teen witch; graduates of the Haliwell school of hollywoodistic fluff and other such institutions of fictional esoterism. As enjoyable as some of these films can be they are mousie meat and through taking their fill, they take a hold of "Wicca for Beginners" and suddenly their bible has been opened. What is the next step? Welcome to TCC and enjoy your journey.
 
It's nice to think that those who are genuine continue on with us and they learn and advance beyond the hype, those who are not, quickly learn that it's not all sunshine and lollipops.
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Ashe Isadora

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Yet there's a part of me that whispers "But I wuv him!".  His was the first book I read on the Craft back in the mid 90's and had it not been for SC  I don't know if I would have taken my first steps.  I'll admit I do feel sentimental about him and I feel I owe him a personal debt.  Which I s'pose underscores that Neo-Paganism has no saints.  And I have a great deal more respect for him than I do some other authors and Big Name Pagans.  I'm curious what his opinions would be if he were still alive and if he would have continued to shape the modern Craft.
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Celtic Epona

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In Christianity there is an expression: milk and meat.  You don't feed a newborn meat.  You give them milk and let them mature to the point that they seek the meat for themselves.  (That being said, some never progress past the milk stage.)  For me Scott Cunningham is a perfect example of someone who offers milk to the masses.  His was one of the first Wicca books I read and one of the reasons I found this forum.  Without him, I might never would have sought out like minded individuals because I didn't believe that there were any.  I enjoy his books for what they are, but I also understand that I read his books with more understanding and training than most people do.  Do I have his books?  Yes.  There is some good information in those books and for that reason I keep them.  There is also some stuff that makes me shake my head.  I've never found anything that was all gold.  As to what he has done for the community as a whole?  A good thing, but with all good comes bad that must be dealt with. 
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Ashe Isadora

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Nice post, Celtic Epona.  Very nicely said and I nearly agree with you.  Had SC's books been merely watered down or made witchcraft  more palatable I'd be right there.  But what does taint him to me, and is difficult to get past, are the uses of the term Wicca for his religion and the self initiation thing which surely he knew defied all definitions of the word and would lead to misunderstandings when the "self initiates" tried to enter the Wiccan community.  He showed some disregard for the welfare of his readers and for the Craft in that respect.

But I appreciate your understanding of the  complexity of the problematic situations he created in our community and the good and bad one has to sort through when we discuss the lasting effects of his books on Solitary Wicca.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2014, 03:23:27 PM by Ashe Isadora »
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Arnemetia

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I don't believe Scott had any idea how much his books would influence future seekers.  For many, his simple explainations  opened up doors that may otherwise have remained closed.  Those who did start out reading his books, who are following a Wiccan path, have found their way and realize the difference.  In my early years I read his books and often refer newcomers to them.  Mainly because he does explain many basics.  RIP Scott
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Ashe Isadora

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RIP indeed.  But the problem is that many seekers, I'm afeaid the majority, don't realize that difference.
They often go on to pagan sites and promote the notion that Wicca is a free for all. And if you disagree, why you're just an elitist and no different from that OTHER religion.  Now, I don't think Scott would have gone along with the Bunny Contingent entirely.  But he planted the seeds, and on a few issues he should have stuck closer to his Wiccan roots.

If I seem like a witch of iron whimsy here, I'll cop to it.  I do have a love/hate relationship with the guy so my posts vascilate.  I feel horribly sentimental because he was instrumental in bringing me to the Craft and for that he will always have my gratitude.  But I'm not blind to the Big Picture.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2014, 04:41:28 PM by Ashe Isadora »
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C_A

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If I line quoted all of the good stuff in here it would crash the server.

"Milk and meat", indeed.  Provided the milk isn't bad and the meat isn't rancid.

Yes, SC DID bring good things to the masses, but he, (not single-handedly, but close), also brought us McWicca.  He also took a new realm of material into the published world, and one publisher in particular, that can be as wholesome or as rancid as any on the market about anything.  Some can even be paralleled to sweeteners or other diet substitutions....  Stevia gives you plenty of sweet but none of the fuel of sugar.  It is, once again, an issue of discernment.  A quality that can and should grow within EVERY seeker on EVERY path.  "Broad is the gate and straight is the road", and all that.
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Celtic Epona

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Re: Was Scott Cunningham the best or worst thing that ever happened to the Craft?
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2014, 08:12:05 AM »

Well said.
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marisol

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Re: Was Scott Cunningham the best or worst thing that ever happened to the Craft?
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2014, 11:38:58 AM »

I believe Scott had good intentions. He brought me to a world I never knew existed and to friends who are truly my friends. I
recommend his book to anyone, with a warning to not believe everything you read. I will always love his books. But I feel a bit
of sadness regarding the man. He may have inspired the masses, but he inspired a wicca that was lacking in truth. A huge
disappointment for me.

These days I don't think of myself as Wiccan. I'm a lost Pagan, not saying all I have learned was false or of no use to me at all.
I'm just going to say I'm a witch. Many things I have learned I will continue to do, but I don't feel the same as I used to. This is a change I have felt coming for a while. I don't think this is good or bad. I don't know where it will lead me. I'm not saying this has happened because of Scott's books. Yes dear C_A it is an issue of discernment. I did mention I was learning that here.
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C_A

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Re: Was Scott Cunningham the best or worst thing that ever happened to the Craft?
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2014, 03:46:44 AM »

...I'm just going to say I'm a witch. Many things I have learned I will continue to do, but I don't feel the same as I used to. This is a change I have felt coming for a while. I don't think this is good or bad. I don't know where it will lead me. I'm not saying this has happened because of Scott's books. Yes dear C_A it is an issue of discernment. I did mention I was learning that here.

A change that's been happening, albeit slowly, (which is a GOOD thing!), to many 'round here.  This is a growth...a maturation...a learning curve that many here at TCC, (especially those that have been here a number of years), have climbed up one side of and are now coasting down the other.  It's nice to feel that a body can help another.
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Edan

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Re: Was Scott Cunningham the best or worst thing that ever happened to the Craft?
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2014, 08:49:54 AM »

I appreciate SC for completely different reasons.  His work on magical herbalism got me started down that road and ended up being the reason I study medicinal herbalism.

I just wish there had been a way to present his information without it ending up the way it did. It's too bad there isn't some grand BTW tribunal that could have handled some of the fallout on a larger scale.
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Ashe Isadora

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Re: Was Scott Cunningham the best or worst thing that ever happened to the Craft?
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2014, 09:06:29 AM »

A BTW Tribunal (shudder).  In spite of our fairly strict adherence to some things, I think BTW's would be among the first to reject such an event.  That doesn't keep us from snarking about some folks though, and thoroughly discussing perceived transgressions.

Scott was a man of integrity.  I think he would have accepted negative reactions with grace and done what in his opinion served the Craft best. Though I'm sure the divisiveness that came out of his books would have horrified him.
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