We were asked to comment on the above article which appeared in the Liverpool Echo about a new local horror film that apparently references Gerald Gardner in relation to him and his coven using a house which a character in the film visits and has memories of childhood abuse in the same house. The story generally is about someone finding their way to Witchcraft and getting caught up in it's "dark and sinister" secrets.
First thing to say is that we have not seen the film and therefore cannot comment on anything except the reviews and news stories surrounding it. But they are interesting in themselves!
We noticed some interesting things about the whole incident:
When we were first made aware of the film we were asked "Have you heard about this new film that exposes Gerald as a child-abuser?". A prime example of how chinese-whispers can twist the facts very quickly indeed and lead to misplaced outrage and misunderstanding . .
We were also told that the writer/director of the film is a Witch in real life. This turns out not to be true, in fact the character she plays in the film is supposed to be a "real-life Witch" but we can see how someone reading the article on first glance might mistakenly draw that conclusion. They do of course try to enhance the film's authenticity by suggesting (elsewhere, not in the Liverpool Echo article) that the film was made with specialist advice from genuine Witches . . . more on why they would make such a claim (which appears false to us) later . . . .
We also noted the tone of the Liverpool Echo's article. It uses phrases like "notorious Blundellsands satanist Gerald Gardner". We've seen this sort of journalism before - it's our guess that the person writing this knows very well that modern Witches and Pagans are blue in the face from explaining that satanism is as far removed from Witchcraft as Christianity, and in fact, given that "Satan" is a judeo-christian construct, you'd have to be a believer in the Christian God before you could accept the theology of Satan. Witches believe neither. Plainly the journalist was hoping to raise the ire of Witches and Pagans and perhaps create a storm of outrage and protest which would serve not only their purposes of drawing attention to the article but would create a whole new story where there isn't really one. They're journalists, it's their job to dig for interesting things and make a meal out of them . . . sometimes they try to "stimulate" a story where there isn't one.
So here are a few facts we'd like to note:
1. This is a FICTIONAL film. A new trend in horror movies is to reference something or someone who isn't fictional. It adds to the apparent authenticity of the story (see the new movie called Annabelle) and what could be more scary than a frightening film and then looking up the names mentioned only to find out they are REAL PEOPLE?!?!?! See what we mean ?
2. Gerald lived in Blundellsands as a little boy only (and even then spent much of his childhood travelling the world). He encountered Witchcraft for the first time in his fifties far far away from Bludnellsands. There is not a scrap of evidence that Gerald ever practiced the Craft in Blundellsands and we think it can be stated categorically that he never had a coven in that area.
3. There has never been any suggestion or allegation that Gerald might have been involved with criminal activity and definitely not abuse of either adults or children. He never lived in or frequented a property that has a history of any such incident either. His life is reasonably well documented (so far) and there's not scrap of anything to link him to such scandals. In Gerald's time (and today among those who practice the Craft as handed down by Gerald) have very strict rules about not initiating under 18s.
4. Witchcraft DOES have secrets. It's a mystery tradition. None of these "secrets" hold anything more sinister or dark than any of the aspects of modern Craft that have been written about publically and are well known. Any genuine Witch will be able to tell you that.
By and large it is accepted worldwide that it's not possible to libel or defame the deceased. Writers and journalists have clung to this notion with great joy. We understand there are suggestions that the European Court of Human Rights might take a different view if the right case came before it (http://www.theguardian.com/media/media-blog/2014/feb/18/defaming-dead-relatives-european-ruling-right-sue).
If Gerald were alive today then we suspect (depending of course on the contents of the film which we have not seen) he may well have a case for defamation.
In conclusion we would like to say that we don't encourage public displays of outrage on behalf of Witches or Pagans in relation to this movie specifically. We believe that a low-budget, local movie for which even the local paper story could only attract 3 comments, mostly criticising the film for being poorly made, doesn't deserve such attention and is best left to be ignored (or enjoyed) by the relatively small number of people who will encounter it.
That's NOT to say that we don't believe in standing up for the rights of Witches and Pagans not to be defamed! We just think that it is a long war to fight and picking the battlefields is the strategic key to success, outrage from the Pagan community about this movie is just what the Liverpool Echo's writer and the filmakers would love to enhance their own profiles and it would not further the cause of equality for Pagans.
Here endeth today's sermon.
(Notorious Nottingham village idiot)