At the time of writing, A.J. Drew was spearheading a campaign to have Gavin and Yvonne Frost ostracised from the Pagan community. Drew’s websites have closed, but The Wild Hunt blog still has the story in its archives. The hostility towards the Frosts stems from material in this book, The Witch’s Bible. It’s been out of print for years, but old copies can still be found.
This is a difficult book to review. There are twelve chapters covering basic beliefs and practices, training the mind, Wiccan services (sabbats, esbats, and other meetings), initiation, tools, prayers, songs, incantations, healing, running a coven, and so forth. The problem is that very little of the teachings resemble modern Wicca and it isn’t really comparable to older material on Wicca either.
For example, the Frosts claim that a basic Wiccan belief is that there is one God, which is seen an overseeing intelligence that created the universe and delegates authority throughout it. Our power is not imminent, but external and derives from God. There is no figure of female divinity, little or no information on the basics we’ve come to expect in books about Wicca such as circle casting and calling quarters, and many of the spells and rituals use Christian language. Although the Frosts call their tradition Celtic Wicca, there’s nothing Celtic about it. This is their own special brand of Witchcraft, which I’ve dubbed Frosty Wicca.
There are some controversial statements regarding homosexuality and race. These attitudes were not unusual in the 1970s and some traditional forms of Wicca have struggled, and continue to struggle, with homophobia and racism. But the most controversial parts of The Witch’s Bible involve children and initiation.
The Frosts encourage the presence of children in the circle even if it’s just to help setting up or passing out cakes. Children may become full members of the coven when they reach puberty and initiation involves ritual intercourse with a phallic object by an adult sponsor. Other controversial ideas include ritual sex and the swapping of spouses to strengthen bonds among covenors.
No publisher would touch this book today. Most Pagans would find it unacceptable. In his Amazon.com review, Archdruid Emeritus of the ADF and Pagan writer Ian Corrigan, says that it wasn’t well received in the 1970s either.
When this book came out in the early 70s, it was considered abject nonsense by the few folks who had any actual knowledge of Wicca in those days. The Frosts came out of nowhere, appropriating the term ‘Wicca’ for their own version of what religious witchcraft might be. Their synthesis bore almost no resemblance to the traditions of Wicca, either in ritual or theology, and certainly not in the grotesque suggestions about the sexual upbringing of children. It was a different age in those days, as ‘swinging’ emerged as a lifestyle and many folks hoped for a real revolution in sexual mores – too bad the Frosts chose to add their wacky ideas to something that they chose to call ‘Wicca’. This book was an embarrassment in 1972, and it’s an embarrassment now. It should be ignored by anyone interested in learning witchcraft or wicca.
Although we can’t say definitively that the Frosts have never engaged in the acts they describe in their book, no allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct have ever been brought forward. I’ve spoken with some Pagans who know them personally and others who’ve attended workshops with the Frosts. They’ve all said that although the Frosts are a bit kooky, they are delightful and they continue to be welcomed at many Pagan festivals.
I can’t recommend The Witch’s Bible for anyone looking to learn about Wicca. If you want to add to your knowledge of American Witchcraft and get a better sense of why the Frosts are controversial, then check it out.