Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone – Interview Part 3 The Future

Part two of this interview series with Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone ,  guests at Heartland Spirit Festival , this continues from the second portion of our interview. This section of the interview focuses on life in Ireland and a look into where deity work is moving Neo-Paganism in the future.

 

Janet and Gavin

Janet and Gavin

Nels (N) : What happens when Pagan culture get truly in touch with their deities?

Janet (J) : This is the manifestation in Ireland, which is truly wonderful the resurgence of many of the old faith festivals. I am one of only five legal pagans in all of Ireland allowed to legally marry people. A legal solemnizer. I am on the health board as a hospital visitor. Ireland is a tiny island, but this is a major break through. Around 1982 Stewart  and I won the first witchcraft case in Ireland and changed the law which had made witchcraft illegal. It went to the high court in Dublin, and was given compensation because when “Eight Sabbats’ (A Witches Bible) came out a journalist called it devil worshiping, porn blasphemy. We won the entire case and were taken out be all the high court judges for a champagne reception.

Gavin (G): This really explains what has been going on in Ireland at the moment. One of the effects of working the way we have is that now the deities don’t care whether you are Pagan or not. They want to come through, they want to speak, and they want the connection to develop. This happened in Ireland because as the Catholic church began to lose control from the early 2000’s the people of Ireland still wanted that connection to their spirituality.  Initially they sought it through the Catholic church, but now  we now find ourselves involved in ceremonies with the general public, particularly one at Samhain every year in County Meath at the Hill of Ward, also known as Tlachta.

J:  Tlachta is the only witch goddess in the whole of Ireland that the church fathers, the monks, tried to write out of the history. But they ultimately failed.

Hill of Tlachta

G: Brid is not technically a witchcraft goddess, although some people say she is. Tlachta is the only goddess where the word witchcraft is actually associated with her. Every year there is a procession up the hill and the witches group, along with the Druids, are the ones that lead it.  When we get to the top we tell the old story  of her, and the traditional Samhain fire is lit. The majority of the people behind are not Pagan. They are good Catholics who are probably off to church on Sunday.

J: Half way up the hill is the well of Tlachta. We have a woman cloaked doing trance work and beside her we have a Knight in full armor, so if anyone hassles her, he is there.  All the witches and Druids pass with their flaming torches and behind them come all the villagers singing, “Tlachta Lady, goddess fair, light your night on moonlit air…..” . They sing a chant to this goddess as we light our fires. These Catholics are singing to a Pagan goddess. When they have all passed the parents bring their children to the lady of the well, Tlachta herself, to prophesize for them. To put her hands on them, and bless them.

Video from Tlachta Samhain Ritual

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Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone – Interview Part 2 Deity and Trance

Part two of this interview series with Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone ,  guests at Heartland Spirit Festival , this continues from the first portion of our interview. This section of the interview focuses on the current practice of  Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone, what they have experienced with deity work and integrated.

Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone

Nels (N) :Is it easier to speak to the deities now?

Gavin (G) : Something interesting is going on, as Pagans we have been waking the gods since the 1950’s. Voudon and the Caribbean traditions has a few hundred years on us! When you go to a Voudon Bembe, with its ecstatic drumming and dancing,  they come through really strong, riding (possessing) the participants. We are now reaching the point where this beginning to happen now in modern neo-paganism, even though it has only been fifty years.  This is because we have been waking the gods up. We have noticed something interesting as we have done the work. We are forming a Neo-Pagan pantheon. We only have a finite amount of energy to give the gods as spirits as they wake up.  You see the same gods and goddess coming up all the time in our community. Hecate, Brid, Isis, Morrigan, Freja, Odin, Diana etc.  Because there is only this finite amount of energy for them, they are congregating and forming a  new pantheon.  All awakened gods from different cultures forming a pantheon, and redefining roles.

Hecate Photo: wikimedia

Over the years as we done trance possession we have kept having Hecate appearing, even though neither of us have felt inclined to work with her,  but now it seems we haven’t got much choice! As we did the trance prophesy she started coming through at almost every event and  public workshop. We had strange occurrences.  On one occasion we started  conversation wither her in Connecticut through a priestess in trance, and she finished with us, unprompted with a priestess in California.  Now it has reached a point where when she comes through somebody, I will know if it is Hecate, because she will burst into fits of laughter when she knows it is me!

Janet (J) :  The last time it happened in America she turned around and said to Gavin, “Oh God, it’s not you again”.

G:  She has been developing and evolving and  has taken on the role of teaching trance with in this new ‘pantheon’.

J:  She is taking on the role of a psychopomp for trance, quite fascinating.

G:  This does  mimic what happens in voudon. She is taking the same role as Elegba/Ellegua.  You also have other deities fulfilling other roles as well. That is what is starting to occur, as simple as that. You see it where Brid is taking over the healing role. Brid is forming into three Brid’s, the triple goddess Brid consisting of the original Celtic Brid, Saint Bridget, and Maman Bridget from Voudon. Every priestess we know who works with Brid has found that is what is occurring. Suddenly they get this dark aspect of Brid, this dark earth goddess, the Maman Bridget from Haiti. It is getting drawn to them to balance the other two aspects.

J:  There is the Brid of fire, who says right, you are going to be my priestess but I am going to put you through hell, put you on my anvil and beat the shit out of you! She is an initiatory type of goddess.

G:  The Morrigan is a protective type of goddess, the Macha.  We are also seeing that Freya, who is taking on a different type of role. She is a goddess of journeying.  Which is how this all started for us, by working Freya.

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Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone – Interview

I had the opportunity to interview Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone  who were guests at Heartland Spirit Festival near Kansas City this past Memorial Day Weekend. They took several hours out of their hectic schedule to simply hang out in our merchant booth and chat about a wide range of subjects, for which I am extremely grateful!

There are few people left who directly experienced many of the legendary figures of the rise of Neo-Pagan spirituality. Janet has a wealth of knowledge and stories from this era, and vivid descriptions of what they have experience.  Gavin articulates where their practice has led them  since he became part of the most famous Pagan triad, and the subsequent passage of Stuart Farrar. Together they represent a vision of an evolving practice of deity centered witchcraft.

This interview is about 9000 words long, but to me it is just too interesting to edit much content out.  It will appear in three parts over the coming weeks. First some history and an overview of their current work, then more details about their current practice, and finally a look into the future.

Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone

Nels (N): You’re back in the states. How long has it been since you have been in the states?

Gavin (G) : Nine months.

Janet (J) : Yeah, nine months. We actually travel here a lot.

G: We’re generally in the states every year. The last time we were in the Midwest was about 2002-2003.  We did INATS (International New Age Trade Show) the big trade fair in Colorado promoting Progressive Witchcraft. Before that we were in Wisconsin, so we haven’t done much in the Midwest for a while. But there’s been a lot more interest. We’ve been invited out towards Ohio August/September next year. Generally we spend a lot more time on the East Coast: New York, Connecticut, Florida. Those areas, mainly because we have connections there.

J: We are actually linked to a group of covens in these places.  We don’t actually call them “our covens,” they are covens in their own right, but they are all linked together through us.

G: Because they are covens that all follow the same philosophy.

N: What is your philosophy for ritual, coven work, and magic now?

Doreen Valiente 1922-1999

J:  Ok, well let’s start at the beginning. Thanks to knowing, long before Gavin ever met her, Doreen Valiente, I had a totally different perspective on Witchcraft. Even if you look at that book, The Witches Bible. When we started off, Stewart and myself, we started off with Alex Sanders. After that basic training, we were running an Alexandrian coven. Far too short, to be honest, to have real experience. We winged it, as they say, but we learned as we went along. And when Stewart and I moved to Ireland in 1976, Stewart took a look through our Book of Shadows and said “There’s no meat on the bones of this. Let us start by investigating old Irish folk customs, and from that comes a great rise in Celtic mythology, and a lot of people are becoming fashionably Celtic.

We lived, for the most part, in the most beautiful Celtic land, and a lot of those old festivals are sadly dying out now. We actually started resurrecting them ourselves, village folk festivals. We used to go along to them, and we used to experience them, and from 1976 to 1981 we traveled in various places across Ireland renting property to learn about what the locals still kept alive. Including the Midsummer bonfires, the Lughnasadh/Lammas festival, and we would glean knowledge. We would talk to the local people, the older people who remembered “ back in the days of my youth we did this, that, and the other.”

We put all that into the first book we wrote, before it became The Witches Bible it was Eight Sabbats For Witches. And with Doreen Valiente’s permission, I hasten to add, because a lot of the original Book of Shadows was her work. She took one look at the work we were doing, because we got to know her, and we said “Look, do you approve of this?” And she said “Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. A lot of this is my material, the Charge and etc… You have my permission to print it and be damned!” We said, “Well, fine if we’ve got your permission it goes into the book.” Continue reading