Order a Reading

Saturday, 14 June 2014

What have I got myself into?


I'm not sure how I feel about working with this deck. I looked for it because an online friend whose opinion I value uses it and admires it. But since I bought it, I have found out some unsavoury things about the author, Kisma K Stepanich, in particular this post found here, posted in 1999:

 Subject: Kisma StepanichFrom: gr...@eire.comDate: Mon, 23 August 1999 06:21 PM EDTMessage-id: <37C1C96C...@eire.com>As a former student and coven member, of  Kisma Stepanich (a.k.a. Kisma Reidling) I feel that I must say something for the benefit of the Pagan community at large. I encourage you to seek the truth for yourself, it's what Kisma is most afraid of.Many of her other former students have also written statements and letters that show how she runs a coven is based on "cult" brainwashing techniques.  (see Isaac Bonewitz's Cult Danger Evaluation Frame)  For instance, students are restricted from contacts outside the group, (told who they may or may not remain friends with) and also from contact inside the group (she doesn't want them to compare notes with each otheror talk about her when she isn't there) so all situations are managed by her.Like a tin-plated dictator with delusions of Goddesshood (and with a really nasty temper), she uses public humiliation coupled with saccharin-sweet compliments, and then more humiliation, she keeps people off-balance so they don't know where they stand and must turn to her (and only her) for guidance. Family commitments and health issues take second place to all group/coven activities, and woe be to you if youquestion her. She charges monthly coven tithes as well as admission to each moon gathering, and sabbat. A mandatory part of the training for all students is attendance at ALL her outside classes at locations other than her home, (local bookstores, meeting halls) about $70 to $90 each.  And there is a $50 charge for initiation, which MUST be re-newed (and paid for) each year. Kisma was a member of Southern California CoG (Covenant of the Goddess). She is no longer a member because of many ethical violation complaints filed with CoG, but before steps of action could be taken, Kisma merely failed to renew her membership. (because she didn't want to have to answer to the charges that would have resulted in lot of negative attention in the larger Pagan/Wiccan community when the truth came out)   Her offenses included; lying to CoG about her original qualifications for membership, lying about her connections to CoG, and charging fees for initiation.   She has claimed that she and Janet and Stewart Farrar are of the same lineage, and this is simply not true as the Farrars will attest to. In the first coven she ever worked with, (in Southern California) she only reached the level of a first degree. The "family chart" which she passes around is made-up by her. Any advanced training Kisma may have received seems to have come from the correspondence courses offered by Fellowship of Isis. She has made claims both in public and in private that she alone is Lady Olivia's chosen successor. Furthermore, Kisma is an obvious plagiarist, she has written barely two sentences of her books by herself. Also, she has been sued for plagiarism on both her "Gaia Tradition" and "Faery Wicca" books, (and one of the authors won against her and Llewellyn) and cheated artists who worked for her out of royalties and agreed upon payments.  In essence, Kisma always has reasons and justifications for her every word and action,  (she will no doubt try -or get one of her lackeys to- explain away everything I've said here, or she'll say that she feels sorry for me or that I'm jealous of her -what a laugh!) she's a consummate con-artist, and brilliant at lying, plagiarism, and manipulation. She has never had an original thought about anything other than how to make money off of poor hapless seekers of Witchcraft. She is vicious, ruthless, without scruples and should thus be avoided completely.  She has threatened me and my family with physical violence and magical retribution, should I make this information public, so I am using an alias. Below are addresses to confirm what I have said
 Covenant of the Goddess (CoG)P.O. Box 1226Berkeley, CA 94701e-mai...@cog.org                 Janet and Stewart Farrare-mail:...@iol.ieLlewellyn Worldwide (make them tell you, they don't want thisinformation available)84 South Wabasha St.,P.O. Box 64383, St. Paul, MN 55164phone: 1-651-291-1970e-mail: bo...@llewellyn.com

Of course, there's a lot of bitterness here and that makes it read as just a vicious attack But some of the claims are verifiable, beyond the vitriol. The author of the above has clearly been hurt, in any case. When I read these things, my first impulse was to throw the deck out. How could I participate in such negativity? But then it occurred to me, one of my favourite decks was created by a very nasty piece of work indeed, Aleister Crowley. So perhaps I should give the deck a try, even if the creator isn't a very nice or honest person.

I do have a worry, though, if her scholarship is called into question, about learning things from the deck that are not quite right.

On the other hand, we have to remember that most contemporary pagan beliefs come from people who made claims of ancient origins when they themselves had actually made it all up. We know this. (Read Triumph of the Moon for more detail). So...even if she did make it all up, that doesn't necessarily mean that we can't find some sort of value in it. Making claims of ancient origin for material you made yourself is itself an ancient tradition. In fact, it is the basis of all religions. Think about it.

I found her website Faery Faith. Interestingly, no matter what you click on in the left hand navigation bar, you only get the one window offering you membership to the 'Faery Faith Network' at a cost of $50. Hm.

However, I found her on Facebook and found a link to this website: The Care and Feeding of Light Body, which seems to be receiving her attention. Maybe the old site has been abandoned - or maybe it's not even hers. I clicked around on her site a little and found a page devoted to her books. The ones she has been successfully sued for plagiarising are now 'out of print' and she leaves this message about them: 'Please note "out of print" means if you buy a used copy from someone I do not make 1 penny off that sale - the seller makes the money. Think about that and maybe don't buy that used book. If you really feel you need one of these, I can provide it to you in a pdf format for a minimal fee of $5. Interested? Send me a note and let's discuss it.'  I find this puzzling, for surely it's okay for a seller to make money even if she doesn't, and if she values the message of her old books, you'd think she would want them to find their way into people's hands. Even Aleister Crowley left instructions (which were not followed) that the companion book to Thoth Tarot should be made available with every deck, even if as a giveaway, free of charge.

 I also found a new blog by her. It appears she is taking the focus off the Faery Wicca faith she apparently created. But it has been a long time since she published these items, and it was messy and horrible with the lawsuits and so on I would imagine, so maybe she has just moved on in her life. In her 'About Me' page, she identified herself as a 'Cultural Creative'. I have no idea what that means and she doesn't explain.

I also found this article, with a rather lengthy section on Stepanich. This made me laugh: Most of Stepanich's tradition appears to have more in common with a box of Frosted Lucky charms than with ancient Celtic religion. Again this is just the standard fill-in-the-blanks Wicca with some shamrocks attached. Stepanich's general distaste for academic veracity and her stated preference for 'fun' over factuality shows a marked contempt for the intelligence of the neopagan community.'  And this made me frown: 'During our conversation, Stepanich promised to send me copies of her research material. By the time of the publication of this article, she had reneged on that promise.'

And so, it is with misgivings and intense curiosity that I begin my explorations of this deck. More soon. 

16 comments:

  1. It's horrible when you find a deck you like and it is connected to someone you are dubious about or don't respect.It taints it. My best advice would be to 'make the deck your own'. Read what it says, take what you believe makes sense for you and disregard the rest. The images and symbols will carry you where you need to go.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Terrific article. I didn't realise about the Fellowship of Isis claims - still pretty easy to shoot down. I think she was ordained within the Fellowship and ran a Centre - but it would have been one among many. That kind of claim pisses me off. I agree though that if you like the images youc can make the deck your own and after all she was not the artist and given her reputation who knows how much she really informs that deck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Muse. I have decided I have other faery decks that are worthy of my attention and I can pass this one along to others who may be more attuned to it.

      Delete
  3. Ha ha, I'm glad you yourself made the comparison to Aleister Crowley and the Thoth :) As PLN says, I'd just take the good from the images, and ignore the book. Then again, as you say, there are other Faery decks out there...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm glad too that you mentioned AC and the Thoth - which is a truly great deck :-) However, if you are not getting along with this one, sell it on. although, I must be honest and say that it might be quite tricky to shift now :-/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I was hot for it and I know Sharon Cumming loves it, so there must be an audience for it out there.

      Delete
  5. I still love my Rajneesh Neo-Tarot, but the less said about the Bhagwan the better. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  6. On the side of your blog, you have a section for insights about the 78 cards. I didn't see one for the 9 of Wands. It's possible I've overlooked it, but, more important ly would like to know your thoughts on "The Lord Of Great Strength".

    I also wanted to say, in my opinion, a persons work has little to do with the person if you value a love for the work itself. I love listening to Metallica, but, don't have an ounce of care for what the band thinks or what their politics might be, I just enjoy their works.

    I'm glad you are being critical of the work because the energy behind the product may be the reason it is difficult to read for some. I know some readers who can't glean any insight from the Thoth Deck strictly because they think it is so "dark".

    Either way what works for your friend may not work for you. I'd only add if your opinions about this, Kisma Stepanich, inflict how you feel about the cards, then it's possible this rendition of the oracle may not have the best appeal for you. That happens, though.

    I really enjoyed your blog and have marked it so I can read more. Thank You.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ron, I've only recently started indexing by card. I'll take a look at my old blog entries and see if I can add a 9 of Wands to the list. :) Thanks for your thoughts and I'm glad you will be visiting again! :)

      Delete
  7. I believe the Faery Wicca tarot is one of the best. I've used a dozen different decks and it is my favorite!! :)

    ReplyDelete