More on Artisson & Conversion

April 11, 2009 at 2:03 am 12 comments

By a reader’s request here is an expansion/continuation of the post on Robin Artisson’s Conversion Essay. I’m not sure what all he wants explained but I’ll try my best.

First some background- Robin Artisson is the author of The Witching Way of Hollow Hill, The Horn of Everwood and The Flaming Circle. I have not read any of his books, but I have read some of the essays he has posted on his website and various blogs. He has some interesting ideas but I’m unsure of their accuracy and that of his sources.  His British Isles-based tradition of Witchcraft seems to have commonalities with 1734 and Roebuck Traditions of Robert Cochrane. While this is far from being my area of expertise, this is an educated guess. Mr. Artisson, under various  online identities has also presented himself as a Heathen, a Celtic and a Hellenic Reconstructionist.  I have nothing against following more than one tradition, I do so myself, but he seems to be missrepresenting himself to some degree.

I first became aware of him on Livejournal, where he appeared in many different Pagan and magical communities sharing his opinions and promoting his books.  He often did this by what is called “drive-by community spamming”- joining communities just for the purpose of posting about a product or another community, without participating in the conversation. Needless to say, he quickly gained a bad reputation on LJ, was banned from most Pagan/metaphysical communities, so he just created other accounts.  As I began exploring the Pagan blogosphere outside of Livejournal, I noticed that his blog, Cauldron Born was often linked to by many of the most popular blogs, such as Wild Hunt, Letter from Hardscrabble Creek, etc. Apparently these folks were not aware of all the trouble he caused on Livejournal! This isn’t a personal crusade or anything, but I did want to point these things out to those who weren’t aware.

In regards to the conversion essay, the major problem with his essay is the underlying implication that any truly devoted polytheist must believe that their worldview is totally superior to others.  That any polytheist or Pagan that expresses tolerance for monotheistic faiths, finds some truth in their teachings or closely associates with their followers must be losing their faith, and will inevitably convert back to Christianity or Judaism. This is not only faithful, its false. Ironically I actually find that the Pagans who despise Christianity the most are usually rebelling against it, and will often either mellow out and mature in their faith, or go back to Mommy & Daddy’s church when they get sick of dabbling. Another false assumption he mentions is that those with radical politics always grow out of them. If that is the case, then please explain all the elderly peace, anti-capitalist, labor etc. activists I have met at rallies and protests? Sometimes it seems that it’s almost the opposite- that people grow more radical with age! Bottom line, the mentality Artisson is promoting is every bit as dangerous as that of other extremists and fundamentalists- we might be a minority with little political and cultural clout now but that doesn’t make it any better! Knowing human nature, I can easily imagine small mobs of angry Pagan extremists throwing cinderblocks through synagogue, church and mosque windows- or worse! So we need to stop this before it gets to that point.

I do have to say since my relationship to Christianity has changed since I wrote that post, my responses would be different if I wrote it today. I’m still a polytheist…but as I continue to explore various belief systems my spiritual identity is becoming more complicated. I’m unsure of a lot of things right now, but one thing I am sure of is that the ways of hope and love always win out over fear and hate. It may sound corny but it’s true. Mr. Artisson, if you are reading this I urge you to meditate and pray about your views. I’ll be sending a prayer your way that you might realize that the Abrahamic traditions have more wisdom than you care to admit and that many of their practicioners have done a lot of good for the world. They aren’t all Crusaders/witchburners/terrorists etc. And dear readers of any faith, feel free to do the same.


Entry filed under: Christianity, Interfaith, Pagan Communities.

Neamh, the Sky Squirrel Trouble

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ailia  |  April 11, 2009 at 2:28 am

    I’ve been thinking about these general themes recently (although I don’t know that guy), and you did an awesome job of putting them into words. Thanks.


  • 2. Robin Artisson  |  April 12, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Good Day, Friend:

    I am not a Hellenic Reconstructionist. I have many friends who are, however. I, like all modern polytheists who care to understand the origins of polytheism, have studied many Indo-European cultural forms of polytheism. Book knowledge, and knowledge from friends, however, does not make a person a member of any tradition. I am a lifelong student of Marcus Aurelius, and have written essays for Hellenic Recons, but again, this doesn’t make me a Hellene, only a person who appreciates their depth and beauty.

    I am a mystic, at heart, a sorcerer. I know how words like this sound to modern ears, but by it, I only mean that I have, over time and through some natural inclination, managed to develop a capacity for trance-work and extraordinary states of awareness in which I interact with (what appears to me) to be other “ways of being” or other worlds. I have acquired allies that I communicate with in these altered states. Through them, I have affected changes in myself and others, changes that were needed, normally on the level of healing the soul or mind. I have written extensively on witchcraft and sorcery because these subjects interest me greatly. But it’s hardly “religion”- though it has a relationship to religion, something I discuss in my writings a good deal.

    As for my actual religion, I have, for many years now, practiced Asatru- and recently, owing to a resurgence in my own Irish and Scottish roots, began to consider how I’d raise my own children. My wife (who is Irish) and I decided to put in place our own personal reconstruction of the pre-Christian British and Irish peoples, owing a large part to our journey to those lands some years ago. My book, “The Flaming Circle” was my expression of that. That’s about it for my religious life, though these cultural traditions are more than rich enough for many life times.

    I can understand why you might think I tried to misrepresent myself. But what I hope you understand is that polytheists in the ancient past often worshiped deities from many cultures or lands. The pagan world wasn’t as walled off as we’d like to imagine. There was always a lively communication between cultures; our ultra-modern need to seek a very specific identity is not in touch with reality. Life is water, not stone, after all.

    I think you are under the influence of the people out there who dislike me a good bit; this I accept, because people are people, and always will be. I am not a “fly by” spammer, either then or now. I am not the troll, or the other stuff people say- if you are a Pagan of any kind, you will already have seen what a dramatic, ridiculous world that Pagans have made for themselves on and offline. When I was younger, I engaged many nasty people on their own terms, only to learn the truth that so many have preached for so long: you lie down with the pigs, and you end up smelling like them. Life lesson.

    I do very much expect Polytheists of any tradition to view their worldview as better and more accurate than any other; I fail to see how they can do anything else. What you suggest- some vague position of being so open-minded towards Abrahamic (and other worldviews) to the extent that they are equalized with your own, is nothing more than a failure to be Pagan. It sounds more like a person who cannot truly release themselves from their Christian or Abrahamic past, to embrace a new worldview completely. I can assure you the Abrahamics believe their worldview to be more complete and accurate than yours; nowhere is it written (except in the hearts of “politically correct” people who waver on their so-called “religion”, given enough time) that you must be tolerant, while the other religious people in the world are not.

    Tolerance is only a virtue in certain situations. To fully embrace a worldview and accord it the honor of being above others is what is needed and expected. You may not agree, but then, I deal with religious people everyday, and I know, from my own experience, what makes a lasting religious transformation and what does not. Your polite suggestion that the Abrahamic faiths have “more wisdom than I realize” makes me wonder why you don’t just start going back to church now, and save yourself some time. Beyond that, it’s not “tolerance” I seek; I seek acceptance. To “tolerate” someone is already an insult; it is to speak down or look down on others, as though they are a pain you just tolerate. Acceptance of diversity is what we want and need, but what Abrahamic religions have never had much time for.

    You may take this as me being harsh, but I think I’m being fair. You sound afraid to be Pagan fully, and while I don’t hear you hammering Abrahamics for placing their worldviews first and foremost, I hear you hammering Pagans who dare to do the same. There’s nothing wrong, friend, with being so sure of what you believe that you raise it above the heads of all others. I have never said that Abrahamic religions are totally lacking in wisdom- because after all, even broken clocks are right twice a day. All traditions have some sort of use, some sort of wisdom. But the Abrahamic religions have fatal flaws that have painted this world red with blood and damaged the souls of the people of this world.

    And it’s not their insistence that their worldview is superior that is the source of the trouble- I expect that from people who really believe what they claim to believe- the source of trouble is a political agenda that arose parallel to their religion, in which all other cultures and faiths are seen as liabilities that must be changed, by force if necessary.

    You call me a dangerous rhetorician; no doubt you believe me to be a radical, and I agree on both points- my words are dangerous, because they challenge the status quo, and I am proudly a radical. A “radical” seeks the “radix”, the Roots- and I have always fought to return to the roots of Western culture to discover the wisdom that was lost when foreign traditions invaded our cultures and destroyed our ancestor’s true faiths and wisdoms. I think our world needs to see what the “roots” really looked like. I think the hidden wisdom of the native faiths of Europe will be required for our future survival. I proudly own these beliefs, and the energy and force I have applied to my goals.

    I do not support violence against other faiths or their temples, as you seem to suggest indirectly. I support a revolution of the mind, an internal transformation that shows people that there are alternative ways of existing in this world, that do not rely at all on Abrahamic faiths or their assumptions or beliefs. They can be as “wise” as you claim they are, and it doesn’t matter; we don’t need them, and we don’t have to all act respectful of them in order to be “good people” or trustworthy people, just as they do not have to act respectful or accepting of us- and goodness knows, the vast majority of them do not.

    I will pray that in the future, you hold all humans to the same standards, and cease having one standard for them, and one for everyone else. I hope dearly that you will see that your notion of “tolerance” only serves the status-quo, and not those who have discovered what the status-quo fears so much: alternative ways of existing and being wise.

    The sorts of personal and social transformations I seek (and have found) cannot reach their full potential as long as we go through life having to subordinate our beliefs and emotions into the range of acceptability set by the politically-correct mobs of the modern day, or the ranges of acceptability set by the Abrahamic faiths. We are different from them. We cannot let their assumptions and comfort-levels limit us, for if we do, we will never become a truly separate and self-sufficient religious movement or collection of movements.

    Be well.


  • 3. August  |  April 13, 2009 at 1:04 am

    Artisson is so very obviously mentally ill. You need only follow his internet presense over the years to see it, and of course read what he has written above, “friend”. There are about 10 people who actualy believe in what he writes, and honestly, reading their online posts, the reader can see that those people aren’t all that healthy either.

    Give him time. He’ll eventually find another bathroom wall to write on.

  • 4. Erik  |  April 13, 2009 at 4:24 am

    Hmmmm, interesting article you wrote in regard to Mr. Artisson.

    Why is it that so many people seem to get upset by what he writes ? Why is it that those who disagree with his writings and his opinions are almost rabid in their campaign against him? Could it be something that he writes that hits some sensitive spot they are themselves uncomfortable with? Does he challenge the status quo and what is accepted as politically correct in the Pagan and Heathan communities?

    If he is mentally ill as you say, then you have nothing to fear as people woud figure this out and his works totally ignored. But, if he does have some genuine truth in his writtings, they will survive and be recognized for the truth they hold.

    Let readers decide if he writes crap or gibberish or not. I would suspect that most people who read what he writes are cabable of discerning if there is truth or nor in his writings.

    Really what I see is a very sad state of affairs. The personal attacks and criticisms remind me of one of the things I disliked about what I say in the Christian churches I had to go to as a kid. Sorta reminds me of something like “my way is the right way, yours is wrong if it does not fit my view” kind of attitude. Attack the messanger to discredit the message? Why?


  • 5. cecilia  |  April 14, 2009 at 2:32 am

    I have to agree with the last poster, Erik.Everything Ive read by Mr. Artisson has given me more insight into my occult studies and practice.In fact,I couldnt be happier to have “found” his website.He has been able to explain concepts that I,and many others, find too complex.
    Yes, he definitely has strong opinions and isnt afraid to voice them,but I for one, happen to like a passionate discussion.I am passionate in what I believe in.I think everyone should be.
    And for the record….there are many more than 10 that agree with me.

  • 6. Frithman  |  April 14, 2009 at 3:01 am

    Aye, We are in good health too !

  • 7. Larry  |  April 15, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Give ’em hell, Robin !. Robin Artisson books are some of the best out there. I am definately glad I found his site.

    It takes a courageous soul to stir up the status quo.
    He did a ‘Socraties” in the pagan/witch community and found
    out who’s true and who’s not. Performing this function
    will not make you a popular person.

    If this type of behavior is considered sick, then the pagan/witch community is in bad shape.

  • 8. Mandi  |  April 16, 2009 at 2:17 am

    I find it strange that the author of this blog can accuse Robin of “misrepresenting himself” because he has studied… three traditions, and practiced two? On Erynn Rowan Laurie’s blog (Erynn being the great queen of the uber-serious and non-fluffy “Celtic Reconstructionist” movement, which I’m sure all of you know already), she says:

    “…And so I am a CR fili. I am a bangeilt. I am a priestess of Brigid and a flamekeeper. I am an Ekklesía Antínoou mystes and luperca. I am an initiate of Alexandrian Wicca and NECTW Witchcraft. I am a Shintoist. I am an animist. I am an astrologer and a tarot reader. I am a student of Ulchi shamanism. I am an informal devotee of Sarasvati and Hanuman and Ganesha. I am a disabled veteran. I am queer. I am a feminist. I am a peace activist. I am more than all of this.

    I am human.”

    I guess Robin doesn’t get to be human. I also wonder at the ability of people on the internet to say who is or isn’t “mentally ill”. I’d say diagnosing someone you’ve never met, based on an online response- a response that seemed pretty reasonable to me- is dangerous business. Maybe there’s a mental illness specifically for people who think they can diagnose other people with mental illness, even though they lack the education or training to do so, and even though they’ve never met them.

  • 9. caelesti  |  April 21, 2009 at 2:38 am

    Wow! That is a lot to respond to! Here’s a start:
    Mr. Artisson, I sincerely apologize if I’ve gotten some things wrong about your spiritual identity, practice and writings. Keep in mind that I wrote this post upon a commenter’s request, and decided to give a little background about the author of the essay I was responding to.
    I may have thought you practiced various religions as you used different pen names to write about each.
    I’m not one for gossip and do not intend to falsely represent anyone- what I describe on LJ are things I witnessed in communities I belong to, not just hearsay. I agree, there is a lot of ridiculous drama in both online & offline pagan communities, which I try to avoid when possible.

    A couple people here have accused R.A. of being mentally ill- I’ve seen *real* mental illness in action and so that is not a label that should be applied lightly. Not only that, it’s an ad hominem attack. Any more such attacks (toward him, me or anyone else) will be deleted.

    On a side note, I have a lot of respect for Erynn Laurie and the work she’s done, so I don’t appreciate snarky comments directed at her.

  • 10. moonwolf23  |  April 21, 2009 at 4:19 am

    I hope you can put up with sockpuppets. Unfortunately if you do not whole heatedly agree with RA or owlclan as he is now known on Lj, you are open to drive by sockpuppetry.

  • 11. Spiritof1976  |  April 21, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I call sockpuppet on the comments above.

    Whenever RA gets into an argument on the internet, a whole slew of comments suddenly appear proclaiming him a genius and a great mystic. Either he really does have an army of adoring fans (despite the fact that practically the whole of Livejournal regards him as an annoying idiot) or he’s engaging in mass sockpuppeting.

    Personally, I’m going with sockpuppet.

  • 12. caelesti  |  April 22, 2009 at 4:13 am

    Thanks to those who have supported me here.
    Any further negative comments on this post will be deleted, and labeled as spam.


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