The Review

- an interview with Nigel Bourne,of the Pagan Federation

[Note: This transcript is virtually complete.The missing first couple of sentences set the scene by indicating a rise in certain views upon the back of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and "Belfry Witches".Parents should be made aware that certain philosophies which I view as being detrimental to our society are being surreptitiously or in some cases blatantly served up to children's minds, and whilst I don't view them as "evil",the insidious and noxious undermining of certain other views is a probable consequence.The furore surrounding Harry Potter,is part of this and is referred to here.I should point out that the conception of paganism as it is detailed by Nigel Bourne is consistent with my own discoveries,and as such paganism should not bring to mind images of Ozzy Osbourne biting the heads off bats! Nor should anyone be worried about their youth being "corrupted" into base and vile behaviour any more than one would be by being any of the orthodox religions.
The issue I take with paganism,is the same as I take with all the other religions. In some ways I prefer paganism to the orthodox religions,since it isn't so daft as to presume an invisible god,and the gods that are referred to seem more metaphor than real object.The inherent equality of the sexes is a refreshing antithesis to orthodox patriarchal religions.But paganism has it's own peculiar drawbacks which I take issue with.I should point out to the holier than thou orthodox religions,that it was the pagans who tried to maintain the library at Alexandria,the repository of all mankind's knowledge,and it was Christians and Moslems that burnt it down.Therefore if you think my comments too harsh,then consider that I am being lenient where paganism is concerned! -LB]

Host : Can it lead to a more dangerous interest in the occult and Satanism,and...?

Nigel : Well,I don't think reading a book like Harry Potter,which I confess to not having read myself is going to lead to anything dangerous,or dodgy...

Host : No,I mean the interest in the.....

Nigel : ...but the interest in the occult,erm...I think we need to draw the difference here between paganism between a spiritual religion,and the occult as a magic practice,there is a difference. Paganism,the religion,is purely spiritual,it's a nature - based religion,not related to spells and magic in any particular way.We do accept the existence of magic as a force,but it's not a prerequisite for worshipping in a pagan way.

Host : So the enquiries you've had have been from young people,essentially interested in paganism,then,rather than witchcraft?

Nigel : The majority of the enquiries have been about "Can I get a love spell?" (Host laughs) and this sort of thing,which is not really where we're coming from. Yes love spells do exist,yes they are very traditional,but everybody practices magic spells of some description.If you blow out the candles on a birthday cake,you're performing a magic spell ,if you touch wood...

Host : Yes.

Radio conjures up a magical production

Stephen Fry potters about
When I heard that Radio4 was planning to broadcast Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in its entirety, I thought the idea ludicrous. The producers must have gone mad -who, I reasoned, would spend their entire Boxing Day listening to one continuous eight hour broadcast without even a break for the news, especially families with young children? Hew could a single voice reading a book compete with a house full of new toys, television and videos, passing visitors and a Game Boy?
Nevertheless, we switched on out of interest to hear the beginning.  I am amazed and delighted to say that right at the very end, the entire family was still listening. How we all immersed ourselves in the magical world of Hegwarts, so ably and brilliantly read by Stephen Fry. Radio 4 controller Helen Boaden expressed her hope for a "landmark in family memory" with this extraordinarily bold piece of broadcasting, and contrary to my expectations achieved just that in this household. Congratulations!
David Bennett Littleborough, Greater Manchester

I am writing to congratulate Stephen Fry and the BBC on a wonderful reading of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on Boxing Day. Fry captured the magic of JK Rowling's book wonderfully and towards the end I was pacing up and down with anticipation even though I knew exactly what was coming after reading the book several times already.
It was a wonderful idea, and I have every intention of going and buying the tapes.
Anna Sandham (aged 14)
Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Having organised my Boxing Day listening around Desert Island Discs Christmas Special, two episodes of The Archers and Front Row (among other programmes), I was horrified to discover at midday that I was in for an eight-hour advertisement for JK Rowling's Harry Potter. Do her royalties really need a further boost, given the already immense sales of the books?
Some time ago I decided to invest in a good-quality tuner so that I could get the best from BBC broadcasts, only to discover; on this occasion, my favourite programmes relegated to LW which my equipment cannot receive. Surely it should have been the other way round, with Harry Potter on LW (as with cricket)? Radio 4's regular programmes ought to have first priority. This is a serious failure in Radio 4's obligations to listeners. Ian Parsons LondonW2

[RT 13-19 January 2001]

Nigel : know? These are..this is magic.This is folk magic,traditional stuff,but it's not occultism,it's not dangerous satanic practices,and I think the concern that's expressed by the christian groups is something that we see every time the word "paganism" is mentioned. Somebody comes out of the woodwork and says,(adopts a Joe Pasquale-type helium voice), "Oh this is the start of a slippery slope,there all going to be slaughtering babies in a minute", erm and in fact it doesn't happen.

Host : And it...(laughs) they're going to be publishing a "young witches handbook" soon,also,as a response to this massive response that there has been.

Nigel : Yes,yes.

Host : Erm,now that is quite serious stuff,written by a witch...

Nigel : Yes,yes.

Host : ..and that will include certain sort of spells...

Nigel : It will include an understanding [The idea that this word is used in conjunction with ANY religion is a farce -LB] of...information about the magical ritual festivals that we have during the year,the spring equinox,the autumn equinox,the seasonal festivals,it may include some nice light-hearted spells and that kind of thing,but it's not going to be a heavyweight thing.
[Propagating ideas that are counter to reason is a serious threat to how our society functions,and is as bad as praying to a none existent God]
It's not going to be an instruction manual for taking over the world with your dark satanic powers.It will be good solid information about what paganism is really about,which is nature,getting in tune with nature,understanding the turning of the seasons,understanding your place within the world.
["Your place within the world" is a phrase which means that a philosophy of life is being proffered which accentuates nature,this isn't so bad theoretically,except that it advocates an anti science,anti progress position.Your place in the world is found through free thinking,it is found through reading many philosophies,not just one.Paganism isn't "THE right way",and no other religion is either.Paganism, as Jacob Bronowski explains, and the view of magical forces,posits a view which thinks it can manipulate nature and get it to do it's bidding.This is a FALSE perspective.Chanting over crystals or making arbitrary concoctions and performing rituals and ceremonies has absolutely NO effect on the material of the universe,or any person or object within the universe. The supernatural ideas present in paganism and also in other religions are highly ignorant,and are not cognisant of just how powerful physical forces are.They do not need imbuing with OUR incantations in order to bring about actions.Nor does any chant alter or bring about events that wouldn't have otherwise happened. The idea of a "Life Path" accentuates fatalism which is a direct affront to freewill,and the physical justification of freewill via quantum physics and chaos theory.Spokespeople from within paganism and its close cousins speak as though with authority on these matters when they know absolutely nothing whatsoever about that which they speak.The slant they put on it is that science is wrong. Science has proved itself,and Mr Bourne would not be on TV and broadcasting through the airwaves if it were not for science's understanding of nature.There is no such thing as magic,and the kind of views expressed by paganism (as Nigel goes on to say) create a simple-minded kind of Green politics that seemingly Greenpeace advocate.All of these views are scientifically illiterate,and are at odds with the modern understanding of the universe via reason.As Richard Dawkins pointed out to Prince Charles,we all think the Earth and nature need looking after,but we can't throw science out in order to do it.It is noxious and insidious that children's programmes have been the source of a revisiting to this kind of religion,and whilst paganism is possibly better than christianity (at least you can see with your own eyes what pagans are worshipping),I find a renewed interest in these matters as bad a sign as the christian groups do,although not for the same reasons.I'd like to get rid of the christian groups as well,or at least keep their interest in public matters within the domains where they have a remit or ability.It is farcical to suggest that we should not manipulate genes because it is against God,when there is no God.I do not live by christian morality,and neither by pagan morality,I live by MY morality, and as a free thinking individual so should everyone.If you wish to be a mindless drone,then join a religion where everyone thinks the same thing.I am not called an anything.By calling yourself an "X" you're immediately tagged as being of that group's mentality.How is that in keeping with individualism? -LB]
It's not anything to be worried about,in fact good information is never something to be worried about.
[Any religious information is ALWAYS something to be worried about because it's highly likely to be ignorant -LB]

Host : As I understand [That word should not be used too liberally by a morning TV host either -LB] it as well,it's one of the fastest growing...

Nigel : Religions.

Host : ..religions,I was going to say...

Nigel : Yeah,yeah.

Host : ...I didn't know whether to say "religion" or not.
[That's not unusual,they don't know whether to call it a religion either -LB]
But it is...there is,and I wonder,you know,with its emphasis on nature,and it's something that,you know,in this new century,we're all kind of,hopefully looking towards conservation [Which is not necessarily a good thing-LB] so we don't blow up the planet completely or...

Nigel : Well,that's right,I mean the Green movement took an enormous amount of impetus from the early pagan movement in the 1950s and 60s,when we were very much underground, because people didn't know about us,they were very,very frightened [What do you mean "were" ? -LB],and people used to...I mean Dennis Wheatley's got a lot to answer for,with all these stories of that nature,and people assumed that the witch that they'd seen flying on a broom stick with a big nose,well I'm sorry about the big nose,but it can't be helped.

Host : And you didn't come here....

Nigel : No,no,a Peugeot! But that kind of image,existed and the stereotype grew out of that. People are changing now,people are realising that pagans,"people of the country",that's what the word means... [Ahh you mean as dotty as Reg Presley or Shirley MacLaine -LB]

Host : Yeah.

Nigel : ...are actually taking their place and making their statement in the world. Green politics is an important part of the pagan's not just about the spirituality,it's about living in harmony with the world.
[No it isn't - it's about retrogressive Medievalism that suggests man shouldn't do anything "bad" to the environment,without defining who idea of "bad" we're talking about.One man's meat is another's poison.What is detrimental to some is a benefit to others.You cannot have a sweeping policy of "do only good things" - it's shallow and naive.Things were not better in the past,because we had less impact.We cannot turn the clock back.We cannot act like the Amish and expect to feed,clothe,and maintain the world's health.Science has it's drawbacks, but that's because it's Pandora's Box,you have to deal with the detriments as they occur, otherwise you don't get the benefits.Trashing crops and acting in a luddite fashion helps nobody - LB]
Something that I think we all need to do.People are far more aware now,that we need to understand that,that we need to stop being told what to do,and start being allowed to think for ourselves.
[That's true,so if you wish to think for yourself,the obvious step is NOT to join a religion,which tells you what to think,that is logically obvious.Thus Nigel,open mouth and insert foot,or take that bullet out of your foot before you insert it in your mouth.Religions create dogma,and a belief system for the whole community. What they are not,is free thinking individuals with no allegiances.I have no default allegiance to science.I criticise its mistakes.But I don't do it from the perspective of a group view,because I know my own mind,and Nigel,if you and your cohorts knew yours,then you wouldn't be part of a group belief system and farcically suggest that you are thinking for yourself -LB]
Paganism is about this naturality,about this ability to question [If so then it should be called pagan science and not pagan religion -LB].
I go out and look at the sky and think "Why is it like that?"
[Try reading an astronomy book instead of ignorant astrology books -LB].
I question why do things happen?
[Then become a scientist to get some answers -LB]
And I'm not told not to question by either churches or other organisations. [No,you're fed your own brand of superstitious ignorant twaddle by your own religion which stops you from being a free-thinker,defies freewill,and thinks it can manipulate nature and do your bidding via spells.Well your bleeping-well wrong mate! If you're so open-minded,then you ought to be able to see that science's position is exactly the same.The whole point of science is to question the orthodoxy.I see this in science.I DON'T see it in paganism much more than any other religion.You DON'T question whether your spells or chants actually produce the claimed effects,nor do you PROVE that they do anything at all. The system of BELIEF has you accept something without any proof being required and then requires it to be disproved to deny it.Even when this happens you continue to believe and untrue supposition.Thus just like conventional religions you tell lies and propagate it as the truth.That is what is dangerous.Ignorance is propagated as wisdom.Cause and effect are denied,innumeracy is rampant,(the symbols and artifacts that employ number and geometry are given mystical meaning as opposed to the actual mathematical meaning,ie "mystic hexagons" and "magical squares" are seen as runic devices rather than seeing the mathematical significance of "mystic" and "magical")the nature of chance is misunderstood.If you name virtually any area of life,paganism is filled with virtually as much folly as any other religion -LB]
I believe in that monumentally important freedom to think.

Host : Is it true that there's also a belief in the divine in paganism?

Nigel : Oh very much so.

Host : What is the divine then? Because in the church it's God?

Nigel : Well,Dylan Thomas described it as "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower",it's nature - it's the elemental forces [Oh you mean the antiquated 4 forces of nature described by the Greeks,that have long since been superseded by the table of elements? -LB].
This is the divine [Yes "divine madness"or "divine comedy" -LB],this is the creative principle in nature.
[You haven't a first clue what that principle is,DNA is the creative principle,and deeper,the mathematical processes behind the physics that create the universe. There are no spirits and there are no gods,and there is nothing to pray to -LB]
You could call it "fertility"
[Now we see why the orthodox religions have a problem with it.The sexual taboos of christianity are quite odd,as Jacob Bronowski pointed out in "The Ascent of Man" if Eve was made from Adam's rib then she was cloned,and they thus have no leg to stand on where cloning is concerned.They seem to be against sex as a means of propagation,as they allude to parthenogenesis (virgin birth) when speaking of Christ.Christianity seems to have a problem with all beliefs that worship procreation,when in fact that makes more sense than worshipping a none existent being. Jacob was enlightening on this,he suggests today that bees still produce both clones and male bees by virgin birth (the egg is not fertilised by sperm).Oddly the clone is the product of the fertilised egg. Fertility rites seem to be the prerogative of tribal peoples,which makes a kind of sense since it is observably the means to both new people to till the soil and the means by which new food is produced.It makes sense to worship this. However this possibly assumes that procreation happens sexually,and that is not always the case [Ref : mworld - Doc 28].Whichever way you look at it,paganism makes more sense than christianity,but science makes more sense than them both. There is absolutely no need for worshipping anything at all,which is not to say there should not be "respect" for creatures or the planet as a biosystem. I note that Gaia is often mentioned in regard to these views. James Lovelock appropriated the notion,and created a concept based on the idea that the Earth looks after itself via biofeedback.In this sense Earth is the thing that requires respect. In this the view of paganism is not distant from the sciences,especially the ecological, anthropological,zoological and biological sciences.But as with Green politics one is very aware of ill-thought out and limited notions apparent within the belief systems such as paganism.The simplistic schemes and misunderstandings of how the world functions come about through belief that magical or supernatural forces are at work.This is a BELIEF,it is not a proven truth. Ignorance can only follow in superstitions wake -LB]
But that would evoke the most prurient responses from certain sections of society.

Host : Yes,yes.It would.

Nigel : But the idea of understanding the fact that things grow and change and turn and we do that as well [I'm so glad a religious person knows what a fact is -LB],that understanding, and understanding that there's no part of us that is not connected to any other part. All of us are connected to the planet,to the whole ecosystem in which we live,and the creative force behind that ecosystem is what we refer to as divine.
[I'm not sure what the chronology is,but the "holism" being referred to here,has gained ground because of the "paradigm shift" created in our culture by quantum physics.For Nigel to lay claim to it is dubious.I predicted such a change some 10 years or more ago,and Danah Zohar and others have alluded to it since -LB]

Host : Do you think that with this impetus that you've been given by this sort as we mentioned at the very beginning,you know "Buffy the Vampire Slayer",with "Harry Potter", which has opened up this whole new world to kids particularly I think...

Nigel : Yes.

Host : ...and indeed older kids as well (Nigel laughs),do you think, to be honest,it's something that you can really - and I don't mean this in too materialistic way - can cash in on,to really kind of tell the world...

Nigel : Yes. Oh I think there has...

Host : ...what you're all about,and actually attract even more people?

Nigel : Yes [Like the lambs to the slaughter -LB]. It would be very, very, easy,at this moment in time,to "sell" paganism.

Host : Are you going to do that?

Nigel : Only if I get offered a really good series!

Host : No but seriously...

Nigel : No,no,I mean the one thing that goes against the grain,as far as we're concerned,is evangelising [You mean like being on GMTV and saying what paganism is,or selling "young witches handbook" that sort of thing? You just wouldn't do that then? -LB].
It's not our ideal to go out and preach on doorsteps and that kind of thing.We'd much rather...if people are interested,do exactly what they're doing,get in contact with the Pagan Federation,with people like myself,we'll give them answers,we'll tell them what it's about,and let them make up their own mind.The one thing we're not going to do is say,"You must become a pagan".

Host : No.

Nigel : You know,it's not going to happen,because....

Host : (adopts posh voice) "Pagans need you".(laughs)

Nigel : Well pagans need all sorts of things.

Host : Well with regard to children then,if you're getting inquiries from kids,how do you respond to that,because presumably you could get a lot of comeback from parents saying...

Nigel : Yes.I mean the Pagan Federation doesn't accept members under the age of 18,this is not because we don't like children or that we think that there is anything sinister,it is simply that that is the age of legal majority,they can make their own minds up at that age. [That doesn't stop children of any religion being brainwashed into their parents beliefs.We might ask why it is that orthodox Christianity can baptise a child at birth,thus putting it's noxious stamp on people BEFORE the age of consent.I recently watched a discussion on the distinction between "cult" and "religion",one speaker said that as far as the dictionary is concerned there isn't much difference. The only difference as far as I can see is that cults take over your mind and property,whereas religions just take over your mind.Anyone who performs ritualised behaviour has obviously succumbed to some form of mind control -LB]
I actually think many children of a much younger age can make up their own minds.but the law says....and therefore we work with that.But if a 14 year old comes to us and says,"I'm really,really interested in paganism",the first question would be "Why?",and the second question would be "Have you spoken to your parents about this?" [What if both the parents are pagans? -LB]
And we would not go down any road of enquiry,without asking the permission of the parents,and of the child.

Host : Anybody who's got,you know,young kids knows that they come home from school and they're seriously into sort of environment and you know,you shouldn't smoke,
[It seems to me that if nature is divine,then the body ought to be divine too,so imbibing carcinogens ought to be inconsistent with the belief system and so should making use of any toxic or narcotic substances that are plant derived and conceived of as "natural" -LB]
and there should be more green fields,and their view of life is very much along those lines.
[Whilst I sympathise with a lot of green concerns,and the next generation SHOULD be informed early about the type of things that are currently at issue,I can't help thinking that the green environmentalists are biasing them to be organic and to be against viable alternatives and are brainwashing them into a certain retrogressive philosophy.I note this week that there is alarm over Methane being produced by cows,it being a more problematic greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide.Cows have been around for ages,and the greenhouse effect has never kicked in before now.I can't help thinking we're going hyper over very small changes (that would have been immeasurable before now,without modern accuracy) that are less of a potential risk than supposed. I don't doubt that SOME changes need to be made,but I do doubt that DRASTIC measures are inevitable.The doom-laden scenarios posited by green types are typical of the apocalyptic scenarios created by creationists and are almost revelation-like -LB]

Nigel : Yes,yes,we've done a good job haven't we?

Host : (laughs) You've done a good job without kind of doing anything
[That about sums it up! Note that it's the sciences that have made ozone holes, the greenhouse effect,and environmentalism an issue,not pagans. Pagans do not accept the principles by which science works,they would not have been able to measure parts per million of ozone in the atmosphere. It is scientists that are making this known,not pagans.Pagans lack the ability to see what is going on in nature and lack the ideas to create the technology that makes the measurements to make environmental problems an issue. The notion of what a compound is and what is an element is not understood by pagans,they have no conception of the nature of carbon dioxide.They don't even know what a crystal is,and which elements are crystals and why a crystal has a crystalline structure,so don't be fooled into thinking it is they that hold the environmental cards.It is scientists that are seeking to help the environment,even if science has had a hand in creating the problems.Science solves its own mistakes,it needs no help from ignorant backward superstitious chanting,crystal waving individuals,that are really a mass group that all believe the same thing,which is nonsense anyway -LB]
The other thing I'm interested in particularly,and I know Wendy is too,is that women play quite a dominant role....

Some mystery and magic

THE mystical world created by author J K Rowling in her best selling Harry Potter books came to a Dukinfield high school recently.
John Kinsman, a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry dropped in for two days at All Saints Catholic High School, as part of its summer school, run by English teacher Louisa Morris.
Mr Kinsman adopted the guise of Professor Snape to mix all manner of potions.
This not only entertained the pupils, it also provided valuable pointers in basic chemistry.
Mary Arnold, deputy headteacher of the school on Kenyon Avenue, said: "Judging from the explosions it was certainly a lively experience for the pupils!
"The theme was not only the world of wonder; but magic too and as part of the summer school, pupils visited the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and were given a tour back stage which they found fascinating."
(The Advertiser Aug30 2001)

Nigel : Yes very much so....

Host : paganism....

Nigel : ...I wouldn't have said "dominant".

Host : Well....

Nigel : I would have said "equalist" .

Host : ..they're strong..equal,there's more of an equality there isn't there.Whereas if we look at the church we seem to be very male-dominated.

[This coincides with a theory I posited,(which was echoed on "Soul of the UK") that the potential to believe romantic and superstitious rubbish,has received a boost from the equality given to women. I should make clear that I'm not a chauvinist,and I think equality of the sexes is absolutely necessary,otherwise it would make a mockery of my stances on racism and speciesism. But let's look at the facts. Prior to now there was a patriarchal society,overseen as stated here by the orthodox church.This has been altered to give women equal rights and an equal say in society. For a long time that voice has been silent. Writers and scientists alike have written or acted under aliases that hid their true gender in order to be accepted. For the most part women have been in "The Doll's House" and told to keep quiet. Culturally,the advent of the female voice is an unleashing of a naive and uninformed view.An unscientific view,sick of cold rationalism and favouring romanticism. This is not peculiarly a gender issue. The romantic poets of yore were also men,and so I allude to the view as opposed to the gender,but for the most part the cultural change has been an influx of women who statistically are more romantic (the neurologists suggest that there is a right hemisphere bias with those of a romantic persuasion). This is similar in nature to the kind of idea suggested in the Third Culture as being the sour grapes of literary intellectuals.What I am suggesting is that with equality of the sexes,has been an influx of a romantic and naive viewpoint that fails to understand basic reasoning.One only has to look at a women's magazine to see the number of articles on pseudo-scientific rubbish and ideas of intuition, sixth senses,and feelings and emotions. This has created fertile soil for the Eastern mystical ideas to put down roots as the Tiger economies bring in their peculiar brand of ignorance-again by exploiting children and putting subliminal messages about their culture into cartoons and video games (perhaps not purposefully- I'm,not a conspiracy theorist! Though "South Park" sent it up excellently.So obviously someone else as seen the same thing,it is after all glaringly obvious.). The problem is that the Germaine Greer,anti-man,anti-science,Spice-girl power retaliation,does no service to men or women. Women do not attain equality by acting as stupidly as men in some kind of mindless act of vengeance for being kept under the thumb.Nor does it help anyone to throw out the means by which our society is civilised and fruitful,merely because a patriarchal society created it (with the silent women's help). The society maybe good REGARDLESS of whether it was patriarchal.And one would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater if one destroys the basis of our scientifically rational society merely through vengeance and ignorance. Some may say that I don't have reason to make such a division,I think it's fairly clear that the take-up in the sciences has been male-dominated,and even with government aid to enhance female take-up their remains an odd ratio.I'm told actually that the stats currently are favouring females,but it maybe due to positive discrimination.The point is that the "female aspect" or "the right hemisphere emphasis" or "the romantic allusion" call it what you will,is undermining science and rationality and that is VERY dangerous for our society. We are NOT Japan,we are not China.If our society can benefit from a female influx,so be it,if it can benefit from Eastern ideas,so be it.But if accommodating these means accepting unproved hearsay because of PC silliness,or religious fantasies,then count me out. Note also that emotions are on the agenda,and even Sue Greenfield suggests that emotions are as viable as reason at providing information.I note that it was emotions that drove mob mentality to almost lynch innocent people because they BELIEVED they were paedophiles. Emotion DOES NOT provide an enhanced version of truth.Reality DOES NOT depend on your perceptions (even if it is subject to them).If you jump off a cliff gravity and the nuclear forces that halt the mass of your body will kill you REGARDLESS of what emotional state you are in,and regardless of how your perceive the situation,and regardless of what your beliefs about reality are.No incantation or prayer will save you,that is physics,and it applies no matter what you believe,and no matter what you perceive. The description of the physical universe as it stands for the most part was the product of a patriarchal society.I hate the male dominated orthodoxy of the church as much as the next person,but the great achievements of science have been done within that scheme,and are being undermined now that we have equality,by mystics and superstition which for the most part is the prerogative of females and their romantic notions. I should make an apology to all those females who are capable of reasoning and doing science,and point out that the mystic males are just as much in the firing line.It's just that I'm caught between choosing my words in order not to offend in these PC days.I'm treading the same line as the police did with racism,but as John Allen Paulos shows,racism needn't be implied when there is a statistical division of capability in races.Similarly,I'm not being sexist,but attacking a view,which presumably is predominantly held by and predominantly the prerogative of the female gender.I should also point out that I see this as one contributory factor in a system which may interactively include the demise of the orthodox religious establishment.
The essence is that women as a group are coming late to the game,and are having to play a kind of "cultural catch-up" to displace the naivety that has existed due to being kept in the dark.As Sue Greenfield points out,within her regime,utilising females can "magically" make things run more smoothly through less confrontation.It maybe a good exploitation of a female characteristic in the sciences,but I am wary of her use of the word "magic" to refer to a supposedly progressive aspect-it carries a conurtation that through use of an aspect which is an anathema to science, one can do science more easily,which is absurd -LB]

Nigel : Absolutely,it is a bit of a male autocracy.Paganism has a god and a goddess as a fundamental basis for our theology.
[If you're going to have a theology,then that makes more sense than a male-only system -LB]
So where you have a god and a goddess,you're going to have an equal amount of respect for each gender.We're not going to have a situation where because I am a male I can tell everybody else what to do,I mean this seems to me to be nonsensical.
[I'm glad that making sense is the requisite determining factor.Perhaps there are those that hark to biology and suggest that males are more muscular and our heritage as been the hunter and provider,and that women are made to be childbearing,whilst these maybe the biological roles,this does not dictate what role one can adopt in a civilised society,and neither does it legitimise domination or even violence in a relationship.
I recall that Steven Rose at the OU (Sex and the single gene") pointed out that finding a homosexual gene (unlikely) would not stop bigotry,and the idea that homosexual geneticists could hope to wipe the floor with a convicted christian belief of homosexuality was an abomination was grossly flawed.Biological reductionism solves nothing.
Equality of sexes is fine by me,and if your going to bring notions of deities into it,I'd rather have two -  indicative of the sexes,rather than a bossy man-God.It's perhaps because of women gaining equality,that such a view has gained ground,and orthodox religion has waned.This shows perhaps that the gods are an invention of man,and are not real objects.I wonder where homosexuals and transsexuals fit into all these notions of man and women gods? -LB]

Host : On a very serious note as well,we spoke to a lady earlier on in the programme with this...a lot of publicity about paedophiles and everything just recently,and the fact that there seem to have been so many hushed up incidents within the Catholic church...

Nigel : Yes.

Host : Again, very male dominated.Do you think as well....I mean we know that church numbers are falling,people aren't going there as much,do you think this is another added sort of attraction for your religion,that you don't have this kind of male domination side of things?

Nigel : Absolutely,absolutely.A classic case in point.We worship by the offices of priests and priestesses,not priests and women priests.There is a difference, and there's a fundamental difference.A priestess is in her own right a priestess.We wife is a priestess of the craft.
[Rather inevitable that wasn't it? I wonder how many "mixed" marriages there are? Most pagans or witches I've listened to are always partnered by someone of the same belief system -LB]

Host : Do you have children?

Nigel : I have one daughter,yes,and she's 17.

Host : And is....ah...and does she pagan as well?

Nigel : No,she's been brought up in a pagan household obviously,because we are.She'll make her own mind fact I know she already has,and she will presumably go down the path that she chooses.
[Wholly not influenced by the fact that both her parents are pagan.We know that voting and political ideas of parents influence offspring (even if it's in the negative),and the deep conviction of other religions passes into offspring,so paganism is unlikely to any different -LB]
But the vast majority of her friends are pagan.
[According to psychologist Judith Harris peer group pressure is the dominant force in shaping attitudes and beliefs (I don't think it is,though it's probably a large influence),it can't help an individual to be an individual surrounded by a load of clones -LB]
She's a very very adult 17 year old,and in fact she's doing some of the multifarious television television and radio appearances that have been put on our shoulders over the last couple of weeks,for herself.So she's been talking about it quite a lot.
[You mean she's been brainwashed into being pagan,and now she's helping you evangelise the belief system contrary to your previous statement that you don't evangelise.So you're a liar as well - So mote it be -LB]

Host : Yes.

Nigel : Children play an immensely important part in paganism,not as the victims of sacrifice,but as friends,and our children,our future. [I thought they couldn't join until 18? -LB] We're making a world in which our children can live,not a world that is going to be destroyed and leave nothing but brown fields,we're making a green field site for them.
[Destroyed by what exactly? Evil science? Ho-hum another doom-laden scenario postulated by ignorant superstitious praying types.Change the record,the apocalypse is not nigh.There WILL be one if we drop science and favour superstition,and drop reason and adopt belief. Then when the self-fulfilling prophecy occurs,all the brain-drain god toting fruitloops will be shouting "I told you so" at the top of their lungs. Why not participate instead of carping and undermining? Alter the system,don't replace it,keep what works -LB]

Host : What a wonderful note to end on.Nigel thank you very much indeed.Nigel from the Pagan Federation,thanks a lot.

Nigel : Thank you it's been a pleasure.

Book week casts spell on pupils

MAGIC day (top): Kayleigh O'Connor as Hermione, acting head Yvonne Waring as Dumbledore and Kieren Hamilton as Harry Potter at St Peter's in Ashton (12-0701) Left. Sophie Leevy and Amy Carter as the Ugly Sister with head Steve Marsland as Captain Hook at Russell Scott in Denton. (12-0617)

WORLD book week was a truly magical affair for youngsters across the borough.
Hundreds of pupils discarded their uniforms and donned the outfit of their favourite fictional character to celebrate the annual event.
And it was no surprise that top children's author JK Rowling cast a spell on the children - dozens turned up as everybody's favourite schoolboy wizard Harry Potter.
Pupils and staff at St Peter's Primary in Oxford Street, Ashton, all dressed up as characters from the hugely successful books. And when it came to lunchtime they were treated to a very unusual menu which included magic wands, wizards robes and lizard eye sponge with slime sauce, all washed down with a glass of dragon's blood!

WILD about Harry: Harry Potter was the theme for Ben Mottram as Draco Malfoy and teacher Dave Crone as Hagrid at Aldwyn Primary School, Audenshaw. (12-0689)
Over at Aldwyn Primary in Lumb Lane, Audenshaw, the pupils paid £1 to dress up as their favourite story book characters to help raise money for new playground equipment at the school. Even the staff got in on the act turning up as Snow White and the seven dwarves with head teacher Tim Richards as Doctor Doolittle.
And at Russell Scott Primary in Clare Street, Denton, there was no sign of poor old Cinderella as the ugly sisters stole the show. Headteacher Steve Marsland, who dressed up as Captain Hook, said: "It was a really enjoyable day The children loved dressing up and even the staff dressed up.
[The Advertiser March 21,2002]

Postscript 5: Jan Potocki:The Manuscript Found in Saragossa
Narrator:Kevin Jackson

The extraordinary story of Polish adventurer,ethnographer,aristocrat and activist Jan Potocki (1761-1815).Written in French,his novel "The Manuscript Found in Saragossa"combines horror,philosophy and Enlightenment rationalism,and anticipates techniques of horror-writing used by novelists today.

Speaker1: ......the whole enlightenment urge for knowledge,any type of knowledge in this book. Potocki,he doesn't seem to me at least,to make a great deal of distinction between,well this is science and this is rationally acceptable,and this is very strange,and you know,we shouldn't follow this path.I think he has this omnivorous appetite for any kind of knowledge,and the occult at that time was something that was available. I mean you have to remember that people like Isaac Newton were very much into astrology and the cabala and Hermeticism [Ref: [Maths 3] Davis & Hersh "The Mathematical Experience" p100 {Hermetic Geometry}].

Speaker2: The last quarter of the 18th century is unbelievable,how many sects there were. People studying the.....I mean the lines and the signs of Egypt and extraordinary things going on,and the music of the spheres [Ref: C.B.Boyer "A History of Mathematics" p55 also { Pythagorean Pentagram}p49 and {Golden Section} p73;[Maths 3] PAM2],all this kind of thing,and he loved all that.But he went into it much deeper than anybody else.You know when he went to Italy,it wasn't on a nice little grand tour to see Florence and then Rome.He went straight down to Sicily,where he wandered around the accumulated ruins of several civilisations.He kept going round the most ancient parts of the Mediterranean,as though he was sort of plunging between the legs,trying to climb back into the womb of civilisation.Mind you all his stories all go backwards as well don't they?!

Narrator: There's something in that ,and we have the evidence of his novel to prove that Potocki really did know a good deal about occult practices.One of the eeriest moments in the manuscript is the magical initiation of the beautiful young Jewish maiden,Rebecca. (Sombre music plays)

Rebecca: I saw the grass wither,the air fill with a fiery vapour,and birds falling dead in mid-flight. I inferred that the demons forewarned,were gathering.A tree spontaneously burst into flames,from it emerged swirls of smoke,which hurt my eyes,but surrounded my cave and plunged me into darkness. The she-bear lying at my feet seemed to come back to life again,her eyes sparkled with fire which momentarily dispelled the darkness.An evil spirit emerged from her mouth in the shaped of a winged-serpent,soon after I heard words uttered in a language of the Gregory.The most famous of the fallen angels,and I realised they were honouring me,by their presence at my induction into the world of intermediary beings.

Narrator: Such excursions into the supernatural are among the great pleasures of the novel. But did Potocki regard his occult interests as anything more than juicy copy?

Speaker2: I suspect his interest was purely anthropological,I mean he certainly writes about the cabalist with some fascination.The idea of the cabala as a still living magical tradition.But I think it is clear from his attitude that even in the early part of the book which is much fuller of magic and supernatural apparitions that he can't,in his heart of hearts,take it entirely seriously. But like many people of that stripe he is fascinated by the fact that other people believe it.He is intensely interested in ghost-seers,if not in ghosts.

Narrator: One of the most obvious clues to Potocki's attitudes is the manner in which his characters tell their stories.Much of the novel takes the form of comedy,from sly-irony to outright farce.The later chapters are filled with comedies of honour and adultery,though this only became apparent to most English readers three years ago.Previous translations had concentrated almost exclusively on the earlier,more gothic episodes of the book.Now,English readers can enjoy the novel in its complete version,thanks to Professor Ian Maclaine of All Souls,Oxford who has translated the entire work.Ian Maclaine thinks that it is by no means clear that Potocki consistently endorses a rationalist position.

Maclaine: On the one hand he seems to approve of a lot of enlightenment objectives,such as for example,rational religion,and the bringing together of all knowledge under one rational system, which on of his characters attempts to do,and a broad political tolerance and human understanding,and relativism,all of these things seem to be somehow or other approved by him but at the same time he can't bring himself entirely to approve of them.One finds that all of these projects which are represented absolutely fairly in the book,are also undermined. So that the major voice speaking for the enlightenment,I suppose is the figure of Valasquez, the geometer,is made merciless fun of,he's turned into a sort of absent-minded pedant and he also is reduced to talking about human emotion in terms of equations in such a way as to make the whole project seem absurd.

Valasquez: I have often observed in patients,in others,and it seems to me to be a feeling of unease,which never ceases growing,without their appearing to be any law that governs its growth.One may say however,that in general terms,it is in inverse ratio to the square of the force of inertia.So that if I am twice as difficult to move to impatience as you are,I will only suffer one degree of it at the end of the first hour,while you will suffer four.The same applies to all the emotions,which can be looked on as motive forces.

Rebecca: It seems,that you perfectly understand the springs of the human heart,and that geometry is the surest way to achieve happiness.

Valasquez: Senora,the pursuit of happiness can,it seems to me,be compared to the solution of a quadratic or cubic equation.

Speaker3: It's very subversive,but with subversion one never quite knows at what level.It's like irony in Jane Austen,you know,how many levels can you dig down to? I mean you still don't necessarily come up with a simple formula,and certainly,rationalist though he was,his whole life was that of a slightly zany,slightly crazy.There's a streak of madness there that his contemporaries noticed too,there was something in his whole....the way he would dress in semi-polish traditional......which meant slightly Turkish-looking sort of dressing-gown type things.He would dress immaculately,and then not change his clothes for a very long time, because he didn't have time. As for this horror,was he making fun of the horror or not? Is it a dreamland or is it really a nightmare land,and these are nightmarish things? Can someone who then ends up committing suicide,putting a bullet through his head,be joking about nightmares? No I think possibly he probably set out with totally deflationary intentions,but I think in a sense he possibly realised through this,that there was something more to life than just pure matter.

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