I’ve been doing controversial things with my life for the past fifteen years or more, and since I write about those things and also speak about them, I’ve upset a number of people who disapprove of one axis of controversy of mine (or more than one). Sometimes those people email me with hate mail or death threats. (No one has ever actually done anything more than that, and I doubt they ever will.) Sometimes, however, they decide that the things I’ve actually done (and written and speechified proudly about all over the place) are not heinous enough to convince other people of how Truly Evil I am, so they use their imagination and come up with new and bizarre things that I have supposedly done.
These rumors have been piling up in my inbox for some time now. Some make me blink, some make me roll my eyes, a few actually make me drop my jaw. “I supposedly did what!?” They’re good for entertainment value, anyway.
And I’d like to share some of that entertainment with you all. This page is for all the wild and bizarre rumors going around about me. If you’ve seen or heard even more wild and bizarre rumors about me, please do send them to me so that I can put them up on this page and my friends and I can all have another good laugh at some wild-eyed rumor-monger’s expense.
Now the crazed and bizarre rumors…
- It’s alleged that I run a cult. A cult? Where, I’d like to know? Where are all the devotees looking to do anything I say? Because I don’t see any of them around here. I see my unruly friends and housemates who wouldn’t do what I say if I paid them, and my wife who certainly doesn’t do what I say, and most of the members of my church who might do what I asked if it was something important to church functioning, but if I started ordering about their personal lives would be asking, “Are you on crack?” My friends, when they heard this one, roared with laughter and informed me that I was a damn poor cult leader. “Where are your limousines? I don’t see any air-conditioned doghouses!” Yeah, yeah, yeah.
(I do have two partners who do what I say, because they’ve agreed to that. No, my wife is not one of them. So perhaps I have a cult with two members. Yup, damn poor cult leader. Aside from them, no one can seem to come up with any of these cult members.)
- It’s alleged that I live on a “compound”. This one made my wife laugh her ass off. We have a tiny little three-bedroom house with peeling paint (see, a real cult leader would have the money to paint the house and the flunkies to do it) and a few outbuildings with goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, a fluffy white dog and a dignified black cat. There are no walls or fences. You can walk right up. People often do.
- It’s alleged that I have sex with all the people in my church. Well, my church does contain four out of the six people I mentioned above in the bit on polyamory, and it also contains two of my exes. But aside from that, no. I’m not that good-looking. And we’re talking about a hundred people. (I have to wonder if some of these are projected wishful thinking, y’know?)
- It’s alleged that I have brainwashed people into getting sex changes. Right. Some of these allegations did name names, and those were people who had begun pursuing sex reassignment before they’d even met me. So apparently I am able, through my Massive Psychic Powers, to brainwash people I don’t even know yet into sex reassignment! Wow! Think it’ll work on whoever the Republicans choose to put up as their next candidate? Sheesh.
- It’s alleged that I have forced BDSM or ritual ordeals on people without their consent. This one is truly ridiculous. First of all, consent is holy to me. Consent is the touchstone of an ethical situation. I am a stickler for consent.
Second, I don’t have to force BDSM on people. They come to me and ask nicely for it.
Third, I certainly don’t force rituals of any kind on people. Do you have any idea how much time and energy it takes to plan and execute a full-scale personal ritual for someone? And those are a service, not something that is necessarily fun for me or what I want to be doing. It’s what works for them, not me. The idea that I’d go to all that trouble for someone who didn’t want it is laughable.
- It’s alleged that I have broken people’s bones or otherwise done things to them during BDSM or ordeal rituals that required medical treatment. Nope, never. I’m not nearly that exciting. I’ve never done anything to anyone that required more than a little gauze and medical tape, and usually not even a Band-Aid. That’s because I’m well-trained and I know what I’m doing, and I am very particular about safety. And, of course, all the supposed people who have been damaged by me cannot actually be found. None of the rumor-mongers have actually come up with any of them. That’s because they don’t exist.
- There are a number of people who are alleged to be “under my control” because they happen to agree with me in public on some issues (though not necessarily everything). Most of them are either insulted or amused by the idea that they are merely puppets of mine. For the record, I have no authority or control over the following people: Galina Krasskova. Elizabeth Vongvisith. Wintersong and Fireheart Tashlin. Bella Kaldera. Anya Kless. Del Schlosser. (If I missed you and you think you should be on this list, please let me know.)Yeah, they’re my friends, and we hang out, but they have their own lives and do their own spiritual stuff that is separate from mine. I am not responsible for whatever they say and do. They are perfectly capable of taking responsibility for their own public words and actions, and they don’t need my permission or help. (Nor did I turn them into whoever and whatever they are. They were all doing whatever they were doing before they met me. I don’t have the superpower of affecting the religious decisions of people I haven’t met yet, either.)
- In corollary, I am alleged to be responsible for any ordeal rituals (or anything else controversial) that my friends do. I’m not. If I wasn’t there, I’m not responsible for whatever happened. And since I am very public, if an account of a ritual does not say that I was present, then I probably wasn’t there. And it wasn’t my business, and there is little point in trying to lay responsibility for it onto me.
- At one point it was alleged that I was “torturing homeless retarded people and taking photos of them and putting them on my blog”. We’ve pretty much cleared the source of that one up: I have no blog, I’ve never had a blog. Someone else posted pictures on their own blog of a ritual they had done with an extremely intelligent person who was quite insulted to find out that she was the centerpiece of that rumor. I had nothing to do with it, and besides, I never, never photograph the private rituals that people hire me to do. Those are personal to them. For the full story on that bizarre beauty of a rumor, here’s the tale of how we tracked it down, and here’s the story from the point of view of the (not) “tortured” person involved.
- It was alleged that I take part in “gay Lokean BDSM orgies”. Where? When? How come nobody tells me about them or ever invites me? Because the people spreading the rumors obviously know more about them than I do. Actually, except for the shamanic work and the speaking at conferences and such, my life is kind of boring. I have a chronic illness and I don’t get out much.
- One of the more florid allegations has been about the activities of a kindred that I am a sometime member of. (I do not run Iron Wood Kindred. It is run by Galina Krasskova, author and Heathen, and she does not take orders from me.) It was alleged that the menfolk of our kindred sit around circle jerking in frilly dresses, while the women don strap-ons and have sex with tree branches. (One has to wonder if the source of this rumor perhaps did not really have a clear idea of how a strap-on was actually used.) However, back in real life, let’s just say that the titillation level of the average Iron Wood Kindred ritual would be terribly disappointing to a reporter looking for a sweeps-week story. Mostly we put wooden posts in the ground and pour stuff over them and sing a bit.
- It’s alleged that I am trying to infiltrate the American Heathen demographic, and/or that I am claiming to be a member of said demographic. This is a little harder to justify without complete stupidity, given that every single page of my Northern Tradition websites has a disclaimer that I am not a Heathen, nor have I ever been one. Let’s make that more specific. I have never called myself or considered myself Heathen or Asatru. I have never been to a Heathen event. I have a couple of liberal and reasonable Heathen friends that I hang with, but aside from that I have no wish to align myself with or become part of that demographic, or for that matter affect it in any way. I really don’t care what that demographic does, because I don’t see that I have anything to do with it, nor ever have. When people have called me a Heathen or a reconstructionist in public forums out of well-meaning ignorance, I have corrected them in a public (though polite) way. I’ve gone to great lengths to delineate Northern Tradition Paganism as a separate sect, and the work that I do is for non-reconstructionist Neo-Pagans who work with my Gods. Period. I am happy when Heathens tell people that I’m not a Heathen, because it’s the truth. Keep doing it. I am a member of a different religious sect. Diversity is good.
(What about my Heathen friends? They do what they want, and what they are called to do by their Gods, and I don’t have any authority over them. They are not an extension of me. If there are issues with them, take it up with them. They’re all quite capable of handling themselves.)
- It’s alleged by some folk that I am “bringing on Ragnarok” with my religious work. Yeah, right, in my copious spare time. Come on, people. Not only is this own downright silly, I find it incredibly hubristic. I don’t believe that any human being has that kind of power over the Gods.
- JUST IN! Two brand new rumors sent to me by someone who heard them. The first one: It’s alleged that I “abuse soldiers”. ??? Don’t soldiers have guns? What, do I spray them and their guns with silly string and call them names? Seriously, my wife is a veteran and that one raised her eyebrows. As far as I know we don’t have any active members of the military in any of the religious groups I belong to, although we have a few queer veterans. And with one exception, all the ex-military people I ever met could totally kick my crippled ass. I can’t imagine “abusing” any of them and still being alive, really.
- It’s also alleged that I have “known associates” who reserve booths at Heathen events and proselytize about how BDSM is part of Heathenry. Actually, I’m not aware of any of my friends going to Heathen events, even the few who are Heathen. And of the latter category, if they are going or proselytizing, I don’t know about it and it’s not my problem. Take it up with them … if actual real names ever come up.
- NEW RUMOR! FBI involvement! This one’s a little vague, but still an eyebrow-raiser. It’s said that I or people involved with my church have been charged with “criminal activity” (unspecified) and that the FBI has gotten involved. Wow! Funny, neither the police nor the FBI has called on me or any of my friends. I think we would have noticed that. Hey, FBI agents, are you watching my house? Hope you’re getting a good view of all the sheep-slopping and goat-wrangling. I’m not even sure what we’re supposed to be doing that’s criminal, although I suspect it’s the consensual BDSM.
- And another … Mysterious Abused People! This one claims that 2 or 3 people are claiming that they left my church because they were being “abused” … but, of course, the person claiming this said that they couldn’t talk about any details of who the people were, or when it happened, or what the “abuse” was, because it was a privacy thing. Of course. Nothing more than the single tantalizing line, everything else is private. Thinking back over the 12-year history of Asphodel, I can’t think of one person who ever even claimed that they were being abused by any one else in our church. We have asked a couple of people to leave because they were showing signs of mental deterioration. Everyone who has left has either moved away and gotten involved in other stuff, or had some kind of a romantic or friendship breakup and decided that they didn’t want to be around the ex any more. No one has ever brought anything up to any current member of the church, and I’ve asked the church council about that.
- It’s now being said that we discourage the worship of any Gods but the Rokkr. Wow, tell that to my partner the Freysman. Silly people. All the Gods are worthy of worship. I would never tell anyone not to worship any deity that called to them. My personal religious sect – Northern Tradition Paganism – encourages people to have more Gods, not less. If any of you have ever read Lois McMaster Bujold’s fictional Chalion series (and if you haven’t I recommend it for all Pagans), you’ll understand when I say that we are the Quintarians, and most of the people who don’t like us are … the Quadrenes. We aren’t the ones who are suggesting limiting one’s pantheon. Seriously, more Gods is good. The more, the better.
- Latest Silly Rumor: That everyone in my house put up lists of our mental illnesses and medications on our “website” (not, of course, saying which site or providing a link). Sigh. No, this never happened. I wouldn’t speak for the other people living in my house because it’s not mine to say, but I’ll gladly talk about my own situation. I have been officially diagnosed with only one mental problem in my entire life, and I was in therapy for it for some years, and I take medication for it. It was Gender Identity Disorder, and my medication is testosterone, and oh boy am I out about it. Wrote entire books, in fact. Aside from that, my therapist assured me that I was sane. Just stressed. Can you blame me?
- Another new one! Apparently I’m a necromancer! OK, besides the fact that whoever came up with this one has obviously been playing a little too much D&D … as I understand it from looking up the term, a necromancer is someone who bothers the Dead, or enslaves them, or something like that. I work for Hela, the Norse/Germanic Death Goddess. I cannot tell you how little She likes the idea of people bothering her Dead folk. My dealings with Dead people have mostly been to show them the way home when they are lost, and clean up any messes that they left. This is another one of those wishful-thinking “demons do my laundry” sorts of tales. No, I don’t deal with demons either. Can you see me rolling my eyes?
- Plagiarizing? The newest rumor is a bit complex. It claims of my two-book set Wyrdwalkers and Wightridden that much of them was plagiarized – supposedly “verbatim” – from another book, Portals by Lynne Hume. Except that this other book came out less than two months before my two books – practically simultaneously. (For those who know nothing about publishing, the printing process alone takes a couple of months, even with POD.) In addition, much of my two books were up on line two years prior to publication, just as they are now, and the most similar stuff was actually published in my book Dark Moon Rising which came out the year before. So … apparently I read the mind of another author who was completely unknown to me, so that I could steal her work for my book! My superpowers grow! Anyone who looked on Amazon for 30 seconds, by the way, could have found this out. Another example of the stunning mental powers of my detractors, or at least their mad research skillz. (And my friends who’ve read Portals say it’s nothing like what I write.)
- I’m a heart-stopping terror! A big thanks to an online friend for sending me another rumor, apparently solemnly held by a Pagan who spoke to her! This one claims that I stopped someone’s heart in a ritual, unclear as to how. (Defibrillator? Cyanide? Invoking the Flying Spaghetti Monster? C’mon, folks, how did I do it? Juicy details!) Unclear as to whether I restarted said heart again. Actually, I have no idea how anyone would even do this, not being a surgeon. The nice person who sent it over remarked that it might make a good “ghost story around the fire”. Wow. Am I now a ghost story? Soon there will be tales claiming that if people stare into the Beltane bonfire and say some magic words thirty times, I will jump out of the woods with a hockey mask and do some anatomically improbably thing to them. Just wait. It’ll happen! (For the record, I’ve never been at any ritual, mine or anyone else’s, where anyone’s heart stopped for any reason. My rituals aren’t that shocking, people.)