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Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

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Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby Oura Simone » Sun Apr 16, 2017 3:56 pm

I want to read more about witchcraft, preferrably by female (or queer) authors. Doreen Valiente comes up regularly when researching contemporary witchcraft, her writing seems to be essential. So her books look like obvious choices for me to read. And I read she's explicitely inclusive towards LGBT folks, which is nice.

But. I also read she has nazi ties. Here's the Wikipedia excerpt:

During the early 1970s, Valiente became a member of a far right white nationalist political party, the National Front, for about eighteen months, during which she designed a banner for her local branch.[97] Valiente's biographer Philip Heselton suggested that the party's nationalistic outlook may have appealed to her strongly patriotic values and that she might have hoped that the Front would serve as a political equivalent to the Pagan movement.[98] At the same time she also became a member of another, more extreme far right group, the Northern League.[99] However, she allowed her membership of the National Front to lapse, sending a letter to her local branch stating that although she respected its leader John Tyndall and had made friends within the group, she was critical of the party's opposition to women's liberation, gay rights, and sex education, all of which she lauded as progressive causes.[100] Heselton has also suggested that Valiente may have joined these groups in order to investigate them before reporting back to Britain's intelligence agencies.[101]
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doreen_Va ... E2.80.9384

First of all, has anybody read some of her books, and did any of this make it into her writing about witchcraft?

Second of all, even if her white nationalism and her witchcraft are two separate things, I'm still very torn about this. I'm a person of colour, and I'm a decent person. A big part of me thinks I shouldn't read books written by a nazi, especially if I'm trying to educate myself spiritually.

I don't know... some opinions, please? How do you guys deal with this?
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Re: Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby SpiritTalker » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:17 pm

Doreen Valiente did not come through in any way as white supremacist or Nazi in the 4 books by her i have read. My understanding is that she is generally respected as an Elder and thought of as the founding "mother" of Wicca. I have her biography but have not read it yet. Her early writing reflects the society of the the 1960s through 2000 era.

I have also read some of Janet and Stewart Farrar's works as Alexandrian witches, who were personally acquainted with Alex Sanders and also with Doreen Valiente. They have expressed high regard for DV. They are white and British and i certainly cant speak for the social and racial experience of the UK since I've never been there. DV was acquainted with Gerald Gardner, had some input on GG's BOS, then broke away and worked with Robert Cochrain, according to her own writing. The elemental and color associations she used were Celtic, which I don't follow so I can't evaluate.

I found her books useful and reflective of their time period. She was oath-bound to her coven. So I thought some things might have been more fully explained. She also understated her role to protect her mother from embarrassment. I'm not conscious of any racial prejudice ever expressed by her in the books I've read. I don't think she would have stood the test of 50 years and more if she were anything other than pro-human.
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Re: Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby Corbin » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:18 am

Taken from https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/ ... choice-spy

" ... Valiente was pro-contraception, pro-choice, interested in feminism and sexual liberation and was anti-racism and anti-homophobia long before that was common, so it's a surprise to learn that she joined the ultra-right wing National Front in 1973. She was involved with the Northern League, a neo-Nazi group whose ideology was utterly at odds with her strongly-held beliefs. Valiente had spent a world war fighting against fascists. After 18 months, she let her membership lapse.

Theories abound. Doreen Valiente was a natural pragmatist, adept at negotiating dodgy dealings and with a head for meticulous research. She wasn't a fascist. One accepted theory is that she thought that these groups, still in relative infancy, might legitimize paganism through patriotism. Another theory floated by Ronald Hutton was that she was still working for the government, spying on fascists who were unlikely to suspect a middle-aged women—but Hutton accepts that no proof of this is forthcoming ..."

Doreen Valiente is one of the most rewarding authors and the mother of modern witchcraft.
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Re: Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby Corbin » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:23 am

It seems outlandish to think she was spying on the national front for the government until you realise: she WAS a spy. She never discussed it.
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Re: Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby Xiao Rong » Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:02 pm

I think that there are many writers and leaders who have made amazing strides for Paganism or other areas, and yet have held very unethical views or done questionable, even reprehensible things. I personally had a very hard time when I learned that Marion Zimmer Bradley, the author of The Mists of Avalon (the book that got me and many others started on the Pagan path), was a pedophile who abused her kids.

I recently had an epiphany, though, that it's just not so simple as deciding someone's worth following, or else throwing out everything they've ever done. We can't deny that our ancestors-of-blood or ancestors-of-spirit have done bad things; we have to accept and own that it is part of the legacy that we inherit. And yet we also have the incredible gift of being able to take that same legacy, both good and bad parts, and choose what we want to do with it. We can take the good parts and continue to carry that forward into the future. We can also take the mistakes of our ancestors and transform that into our wisdom; our legacy is to choose to do better than they did.
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Re: Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby SnowCat » Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:49 pm

I'm pretty sure my Cektic ancestors weren't so much the "touchy-feely" type. People's choices often reflect their environment and upbringing, for good or for bad. And some people are just hard wired to do things that would disturb many of us.

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Re: Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby Oura Simone » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:01 pm

Thank you everybody so far for your responses.

I'm of course familiar with the "Great art by bad people"-conondrum, and I haven't really found an answer yet. Maybe there isn't one, maybe people are just too complex for that kind of thinking. Just one very recent example, I recently discovered the one-woman band Myrkur and was deeply touched by her music. Then I had to discover that she probably is a neo-nazi. My heart broke, but I was also very confused. How can a person identify with such an evil ideology, and at the same time make music that touches me so? Intellectually, I realise that her political leanings and her musical talent may very well be unrelated, but it's still very confusing to me.

And I'm thinking, maybe it's extra relevant here because I'm not just entertaining myself, I'm trying to grow spiritually. And part of me thinks, how wise is it to look for insights from a woman who was too blind to see the obvious evil of the organisations she joined?

Anyway, I'm currently leaning towards giving at least one of her books a try, since the response to her work here and in general seems so positive.

@Corbin: I read that article, I'd be particularly interested what they base the claim of "anti-racism" on. I will do my own research, but does anybody perhaps know something concrete? Like, a dierct quote.

@SnowCat: I don't think I understand your post... I wasn't so much talking about "touchy-feely" and more about basic human decency.
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Re: Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby Lady_Lilith » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:15 pm

Yes I would recommend her. She is an excellent writer and is pro-human rights at a time when it was uncommon.

The Nazi ties likely have to do with her being a British spy. A new book has come out about her life that ties the theories about it and there is a good amount of evidence for it.
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Re: Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby Oura Simone » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:48 am

So, which Valiente book would you recommend as a start? "ABC of Witchcraft", "Witchcraft for Tomorrow", and "Rebirth of Witchcraft" all sound interesting, but I have a hard time judging by the synopses what the difference between those books is.
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Re: Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby SpiritTalker » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:18 pm

It's been ages since I've read them. ABC is arranged like a dictionary of concepts. Tomorrow is like a how-to practice WitchCraft intro book, & the one I've kept. Rebirth is more personal history, the development & early "shapers" & their contributions.
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Re: Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby Lady_Lilith » Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:54 pm

Oura Simone wrote:So, which Valiente book would you recommend as a start? "ABC of Witchcraft", "Witchcraft for Tomorrow", and "Rebirth of Witchcraft" all sound interesting, but I have a hard time judging by the synopses what the difference between those books is.

I like ABC.
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Re: Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby Corbin » Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:30 pm

Witchcraft for tomorrow. I'm also very fond of a book written to a degree in collaboration between Doreen and Evan John Jones (mostly the latter however) called "Witchcraft: a tradition renewed".
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Re: Would you recommend Doreen Valiente?

Postby Shekinah » Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:07 pm

My two favorite books are : "The Book of Wicca" by Lucy Summers. It is small, concise and contains everything a novice would need to know to get started practicing the Craft. The other "Grimoire For The Apprentice Wizard" by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart is a reference (how to do it) text for most everything magickal.

If anyone has not yet seen the DVD (3 disc set) "What The Bleep DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE" it is a must see for those interested in understanding how laws of Quantum physics allows Magick to happen. A very good investment.
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