(This is largely the same thing that I posted to nonfluffypagans earlier today. I’m not sure that some of you who would probably be interested read the community, though.)
Someone forwarded Raven Grimassi’s A Call for Needfire to the Border Pagans list today. I doubt my response will be posted on the list—it hasn’t come through yet. I find it somewhat surprising that the original was posted, as the list is usually just about what’s going on with Border Pagans, which is why it is the only pagan list to which I subscribe, other than the few I own. I have very little tolerance for the nonsense that, unfortunately, fills most pagan lists. Most lists, really.
Anyway, Grimassi pegged my BS meter quickly. The second paragraph:
In ancient times when troubles beset the land, and the Kingdom seemed to be in peril, the people turned to a practice known as the needfire. Fire represented the spirit of the land, which gave life and purpose to everything in the realm. Therefore when troubles arose within the Kingdom it was a sign that the fire had been contaminated. The spirit of the land had grown ill and required renewed vitality.
What kingdom? Where? When? The mythical matriarchy? Some supposed “Celtic” monarchy? The only references I’m finding via Google don’t give me any warm fuzzies as to historicity. [Edit: Someone has since said that there is a reference to needfire in The Golden Bough, but I can’t lay my hands on my copy at the moment.]
The fact that the author is a member of the “illustrious [gag] Grey Council“1For those who hadn’t heard of it yet, Oberon and Morning Glory Zell have a new money-making endeavor. I don’t know that they’re abusing any animals this time or defrauding contributors while supposedly searching for mermaids, but they are screwing around with concepts from not one, but TWO works of fiction! Yep, ol’ Oberon put out Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard, and now they have a “school” that is such a Hogwarts rip-off that I have popcorn at hand, just waiting for cries of “persecution!” when the Zells get the cease-and-desist orders from J.K. Rowling’s attorneys. I don’t think J. Michael Straczynski has quite as much of a case, but please—couldn’t they have found some other name? Have they “engineered” their own Minbari bone crests? (Hey, it worked for the goats!)
As lysana said, “Secret formula lost for centuries” is the line used by snake oil salesmen, not honest human beings. They tried to trick people for money. That is unethical conduct, and I don’t consider anyone who commits such to be appropriate teachers for anybody’s children. doesn’t help. In fact, had that been stated at the beginning of the article, I seriously doubt that I would have read any further. (I believe the version sent to the list was from WitchVox or a similar site. The link I posted is for Grimassi’s own group.)
I’m really like Jacqueline Waters’ response, Playing With Matches. She pointed out some things I couldn’t quite verbalize.