Talk:Isaac Bonewits

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The O.T.O.[edit]

Isaac Bonewits did NOT found the O.T.O., or lead it I believe. Aleister Crowley founded it, that I know. I will research what Bonewits' involvement was, exactly.

Crowley didn't found it either; he just radically transformed it. mkehrt

All articles must meet Wikipedia policy WP:V[edit]

In addition to WP:V it probably would be helpful to consult WP:EL. GBYork 17:25, 24 August 2006 (UTC) This user was found to be a sock of Mattisse


In answer to Sfacets's question, I believe the person who added the "Cults" category to this article did so because Isaac Bonewits created the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame, a criteria list for identifying a cult. I don't think it was meant to indicate that Bonewits himself was a cult member; he has researched cults extensively, and lectured on the mistaken impressions in the public view that Pagans and Wiccans are cult members (and other groups as well). I have no strong feelings myself as to whether it is appropriate for the "Cult" category to be on this article.Rosencomet 15:40, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

A statement of possible CoI on my part[edit]

A quick glance at the history on this page shows that I have patrolled it for a while trying to eliminate any vandalism that I see. That said, I do this in part (beyond my basic desire to see vandalism stopped) because this is my step-father. I will do my best to maintain a proper restraint so that any Confict of Interest is avoided due to my relationship with him. As it is, I simply remove vandalism or items I know to be patently false (and to be honest, I don't know him that well, so I don't have the knowledge to do too much there).

If any of the editors believe that I am too close to Isaac and believe I need to step further back, I will do so.

Thank you for your time.

--Donovan Ravenhull 13:49, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

COI, but different ;-)[edit]

Well, I guess I have minor COI here, as I've met Isaac a handful of times, and he mentions me favorably in one of his books. However, I'm removing blatant COI/undue weight in the article and attempting a more NPOV, less laudatory (or, in places, promotional) tone. Isaac is notable by WP criteria, due to his influence on Neopaganism and his published works (which, unlike many occult books, did not just sink into oblivion but have also been influential). That said, the same user who added many of the "references" here has engaged in massive source-padding on other articles, so, if they're to be kept, the books listed in the "references" section need to be evaluated. Google book search should do the trick. Compare them to the criteria at WP:RS and WP:V. If it's just a mention in passing, cut it. If it sources content in the article, include page numbers and quotes and turn it into a footnote. If it provides more info than is in the article, put it in a new, "Further reading" section, including page numbers of the relevant content. I may get a chance to do this later, but we have a lot of articles to check, so it would be great if some folks without COI (as in, is not a friend or close colleague of Isaac's, does not hire him for events, promote him, or sell his books or tapes) would help out. Tapadh Leibh! - Kathryn NicDhàna 07:22, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

Recent edits by User:Ibonewits[edit]

(The following is a duplicate of info I left on Ibonewits (talk · contribs) talk page but I want to make sure it's here as well since my previous post to him appears to be unheeded.)

Ibonewits, I want you to carefully look at the following policies and guidelines before making any more edits to the Isaac Bonewits article:

These are important and basic policies relating to article content. The first paragraph of the Wikipedia Verifiability policy reads:

"The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. "Verifiable" in this context means that readers should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. Editors should provide a reliable source for quotations and for any material that is challenged or is likely to be challenged, or it may be removed."

Your own website is not a reliable source in this case. You are perfectly welcome to question the sources already used in the article if you think they do not meet Wikipedia standards. If the sources aren't reliable, the information those sources purport to support will be cut completely.

I'm not trying to tell you what to do but if you don't follow basic policies about how to contribute constructively to Wikipedia, it is likely that your changes and edits will be removed or changed by other editors. Please, if you have any questions about this or anything else, leave a message on my talk page. Pigman 03:36, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Questionable sources[edit]

I'm concerned at the number of cited sources in this article that link to Isaac's own website at neopagan dot net. This isn't in keeping with WP:V and WP:RS. While some refs to his writings are fine, some of these discuss other people and this is an inappropriate use in a Wikipedia article. I'm particularly looking at the differing perspectives on the footage from Bonewits' short time with the Church of Satan. This footage is almost universally referred to as "documentary" in nature. Isaac's account differs substantially on this point, indicating that it was wholly staged and that his role in it was as a "character". Because of this discrepancy, it might be better to eliminate the references to this footage entirely. Although his appearance in the footage is very well known in the Neopagan community, this might cause the least amount of conflict with WP:BLP. It just doesn't seem encyclopedic to allow the subject of the article to provide personal counterpoint without WP:V sources that I can see. Thoughts? Pigman 07:02, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

I reccommend you read the Documentary article. You will see that documentaries often include staged scenes and re-enactments. I have no opinion about whether to keep the section on any other issue, but in this case all the article is saying is that Bonewits appeared in the documentary, and now it is clear that he appeared there in a 'scene in which the character he played had his penis blessed by LaVey rather than this being something that LaVey actually did for Bonewits. Is it encyclopedic? Maybe not. But the fact that the ceremonies in the documentary were staged ones rather than filmed during an actual ritual doesn't make the film less of a documentary, nor is it really a surprise. Perhaps more encyclopedic is the fact that a segment of this film was used in the Kenneth Anger film Lucifer Rising, but so far I can't document this fact, though I've seen it in the video and the DVD . In any event, I've changed the text to mention the film Satanis and the fact that the ceremonies were staged, without the IMO non-encyclopedic description of the ritual content. Rosencomet (talk) 19:46, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
The problem is that there is no WP:V source confirming this "staging" in the article at the moment. Without such confirmation, it is really quite wrong to state it in the article. Currently, the source we have for this staging is Isaac Bonewits himself, not exactly a disinterested party. I'm not saying what he says is untrue, only that it isn't a WP:V or WP:RS to use that as the source for the information. Since the account adding this info is User:Ibonewits, I have to consider the possibility that the user has a conflict of interest in changing this information. While WP:BLP is very clear about this sort of thing, it does not say we should disregard WP:V sources and insert unattested info in place of sourced info. Once again, I recommend you read the actual Wikipedia policies to support your argument. Cheers, Pigman 06:10, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Meso-Paganism & Paleo-Paganism[edit]

I came across an internal link from another page for Meso-Paganism, and discovered of his term Paleo-Pagan as well. Maybe these "distinctions" can be added to this article since they were made into redirects when made by others as articles themselves. Nagelfar (talk) 04:48, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

Real name, versus stage name[edit]

Should this article not contain his original name, as o nhis birth certificate, rather than the stage name he has used for his career?

cf. 'Bonewits', for goodness sake! cf. Catweazle. Is this trying to be an encyclopedia or a stage publicity forum? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:36, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

Revamping the inline citations[edit]

As I commented on this talk page well over a year ago, the inline citations on this article are extremely lacking in independent sourcing. This despite the fact there are plenty of reliable and verifiable independent sources on Bonewits. For the moment, I'm going to park these citations in the "References" section in ready-to-go form. Then I plan to go through the article and replace all the neopagan dot net refs (Isaac's personal/business website) with independent sourcing. Cheers, Pigman☿/talk 19:41, 22 September 2009 (UTC)


I removed from the article the following:

He is currently working on starting an "Old folks home," as he calls it, for Pagan elders, a project he believes will take the next twenty years.

For lack of evidence of notability: is he working on a proposal for something that as yet lacks even a name?
--Jerzy(t) 05:49, 2004 Dec 23 (UTC)

Authentic Thaumaturgy - contributions to Neopaganism?[edit]

In the "Contributions to Neopaganism" section it says "In his book Real Magic (1971), Bonewits proposed his hypothesis on the Laws of Magic, which were then elaborated in his Authentic Thaumaturgy". While this is substantially true, it's also misleading. Authentic Thaumaturgy is a supplement for a roleplaying game. And while it's clearly based on the RL principles that Bonewits uses as a Neodruid, it's also simplified for game purposes and appears considerably more cinematic than any demonstrated real world magic I'm aware of. Authentic Thaumaturgy is a cool book that probably educates the average Roleplaying Gamer a bit more about real life magical principles, but it doesn't seem like it's a "contribution to paganism". --Irrevenant [ talk ] 08:54, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

Agreed I went ahead and took it out - that could go on the page for Authentic Thaumaturgy which currently doesn't mention that it is based on Real Magic. Kmusser (talk) 21:36, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

Open Letter to Selena Fox[edit]

I have deleted this letter both as a "Contribution to NeoPaganism" and as a lone item in a section about Bonewits' "Relationships with other Pagan movements". This letter is a series of allegations with no evidence, filled with claims about conversations with unnamed "sources". It is not accompanied by its own citations or a response from Selena Fox. I have been a friend to both parties for over 25 years, and I see no reason to consider this letter encyclopedic as part of an article about Isaac Bonewits. The two had different approaches to the way they structured and ran the two organizations they each founded, but this single relic of that disagreement does not IMO belong in an encyclopedic article about Bonewits. At this point, it is simply a single preserved heated and unsupported statement about his opinion about another leader, a derogatory one from a biographical standpoint about someone who is NOT the subject of this article, and does not belong here.Rosencomet (talk) 01:00, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

Potential COI Disclosure[edit]

I was a friend of Isaac's. My edits will be verifiable amd sourced. Holzman-Tweed (talk) 16:42, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

  • I have one criticism of your editing, and it's not about COI. I just think deleting the "Discography" heading was incorrect; everything below it was either a CD or Cassette tape or both, which is now unclear. The way you left it, the lectures and panel discussions could be transcripts.Rosencomet (talk) 00:14, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
Fair enough. Holzman-Tweed (talk) 16:15, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

Jew, not Catholic[edit]

Bonewits was an Ashkenazi Jew by ethnicity and ideology. There is no source which states "he was a Catholic" (the one cited talks about something completely different). There are sources that "He also joined a number of Jewish friends and created the “Hasidic Druids of North America”."[1] The claim that he was somehow "Catholic" seems to be a propagaganda cover-story, to try and draw in, or make feel at ease Irish-Americans from a Catholic background who may naively be attracted in a cultural sense to his organisations. Similar to how Anton LeVay (also an Ashkenazi Jew) tried to hook in anti-Christian Gothic subculture types. Wikipedia should not conceal what this man's background was. Rí Lughaid (talk) 09:12, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

Even your own (non-reliable) source states that "His mother was a devout Roman Catholic from whom he acquired an appreciation for religion. His father was a convert from Presbyterianism to Catholicism, who instilled in his son a healthy dose of skepticism". It does not claim that he was Jewish, just that he had "Jewish friends" -- I imagine that, in your eyes, that is just as great a crime. RolandR (talk) 09:36, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Jewish name, Jewish physical look, set up a "Hasidic Druid" group, spent most of his "career" attacking Christianity, conservatism and even on his website, has a store selling sex toys. The only "evidence" we have for any connection to Catholicism is heresay and rumour, probably spread by this dubious character himself. Where on earth would he find a Presbytarian father called "Bonewits"? LOL. Rí Lughaid (talk) 11:24, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
What is a "Jewish name"? What is a "Jewish physical look"? How is setting up a group (whatever its name), attacking Christianity and conservatism, and selling sex toys evidence that he is Jewish? Every single source cited, including your own very unreliable site, state that his parents were Catholics, and that he went to a Catholic seminary. There is no evidence at all, in any source, that he was Jewish, or of Jewish descent; the only evidence for this is your own prejudice, and I suggest that it would be wise not to let this guide your editing. RolandR (talk) 13:04, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Roland has made the case for Isaac's Catholic background. As to his ideology, he was a Pagan -- by definition not Jewish. Holzman-Tweed (talk) 14:38, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Isaac Bonewits was not a Jew. Bonewits is an Eastern European name, not necessarily Jewish, and Isaac was no more Jewish than Isaac Newton; and the names Phillip Emmons certainly are not Jewish. He has often remarked on the fact that people made this mistake based on his name and appearance. His mother was not Jewish, he never converted to Judaism, and he never practiced Judaism. The sex toy comment is entirely offensive, and Bill Kristol, a founder of the Neo-Conservative movement, is Jewish, as are Ben Stein, Michael Medved and Eric Cantor and many other prominent conservatives. User:Rí Lughaid is either joking or doesn't know what he is talking about, or both.Rosencomet (talk) 22:16, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
He knows only too well what he is talking about, as his comment below demonstrates. He believes that Wikipedia is part of a Jewish-feminist-Trotskyist conspiracy to undermine traditional values, using "sly and subversive attacks" and "unusual sexual lifestyles". Is it any wonder that he was indefinitely banned for "antisemitic sneaky vandalism", and only unblocked on condition that he "avoid contentious edits" and "not alter the neutrality of articles written by more experienced editors without first raising the issue on the talk page"?[2] RolandR (talk) 01:43, 7 March 2012 (UTC) says that Bonewitz is a German respelling of a Polish name, with no comment on whether it's common among Jews or not. They have no info on the s spelling but presumably it is the same name. Soap 04:04, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
According to, Bonewitz is a "Germanized spelling of Polish Boniewicz, a patronymic from the personal name Bonifacy (see Boniface)". I would suggest that Boniface is likely to be a much more common name among Catholics than among Jews. In any case, there is no evidence to support the argument that this is a "Jewish name". None, that is, except the prejudice of this editor. RolandR (talk) 08:50, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
"Neo-conservatism" is simply a way for ex-Trots to support a Zionist foreign policy, nothing to do with actual conservatism. What I am refering to is Bonewits' sly and subversive attacks on traditional values in his ideas (alligning with various forms of feminism, over the top Christian bashing, unusual sexual "lifestyles", which in this context are part of an iconoclastic discourse in the Occult underground, associated with the Kabbalah and mostly aimed at undermining the "hereditary enemy"--the Catholic Church). LeVay did the exact same thing. Bonewits is an Ashkenazi name, its not Slavic. This issue has been raised elsewhere by other "druids" as a critique; its clearly an attempt at concealing background for marketing purposes. Wikipedia should not become a party to this agenda by playing along. Rí Lughaid (talk) 22:40, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Ah, I see. A conspiracy theorist who knows and cares nothing about Isaac Bonewits. I'll just close by saying that not only was Isaac just as critical of Judaism as he was of any type of Christianity, and quite friendly to Unitarianism, but the notion that he, or any of his associates, would have any desire to "make feel at ease Irish-Americans from a Catholic background" is hilarious. With St. Patricks Day coming up, may I quote Isaac's famous song, "Then Patrick drove the serpents out and brought the Christians in. 'Twas a bloody poor bargain I would say; Be Pagan Once Again!" Rosencomet (talk) 02:12, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
I was a friend and colleague of Bonewits for some 25 years. In that time he frequestly described his *german* Catholic upbringing, and laughed at the folks who automatically assumed he was jewish. There's no realistic dispute here. Bonewits was from german Catholic roots. I'm reminded of another friend named Eisenstein, who is from a Lutheran family. They *did* convert from Judaism on arrival in North America, some 4 generations ago. If that's the case with Bonewits, the conversion was lost in his family history and never mentioned. This issue should be considered settled. Ian Corrigan — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:58, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

That is right. He did often sneer at adherents to the Christian faith during lectures at gaming conventions in the Bay Area (calling them 'Christers'), but was known to be critical of Jews as well - in fact, anyone who believed in the One. Reading his book "Real Magic" will give some of his thinking on this, and it is nothing like what is said here. I see the OP in this section is someone to watch.

Note: The 'Christer' reference can not be put in the article until it is verified in a printed source. I mention it to help future researchers. (talk) 17:57, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Further reading section[edit]

Discussed here as problematic since 2008, and flagged now for over a year, it still looked like the user who added these simply did a google book search, and added every title that had any inclusion of Bonewits's name. So I cut the whole section. I strongly suggest page numbers of exact content be added if any of these are to be put back in the article. It would also be preferable to include them as inline cites. Especially if they can be used as sources instead of Isaac's personal blog or website, which is still relied on way to heavily for someone who is clearly notable in the field. If the mention is a substantial interview or anthologised article, sure, include it. But if it is simply, say, a cite of his ABCDEF, the ref. doesn't belong here. - Slàn, Kathryn NicDhàna 23:51, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

  • Berger, Helen A. (2005) Witchcraft and Magic: Contemporary North America. University of Pennsylvania Press ISBN 0-8122-3877-X, ISBN 978-0-8122-3877-8
  • Berger, Helen A. (1998) A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the United States. University of South Carolina Press ISBN 1-57003-246-7, ISBN 978-1-57003-246-2
  • Berger, Helen A. & Helen H. & Evan A. Leach, Leigh S. Shaffer (2003) Voices from the Pagan Census: A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States. University of South Carolina Press ISBN 1-57003-488-5, ISBN 978-1-57003-488-6
  • Bond, Lawrence & Ellen Evert Hopman (1996) People of the Earth: The New Pagans Speak Out. (reissued as Being a Pagan: Druids, Wiccans & Witches Today in 2002 Destiny Books ISBN 0-89281-904-9) Interview.
  • Clifton, Chas S. (2006). Her hidden children: the rise of Wicca and paganism in America. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press. ISBN 0-7591-0202-3. 
  • Lewis, James R. & Shelley Rabinovitch (2002) The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism. C Trade Paper ISBN 0-8065-2406-5, ISBN 978-0-8065-2406-1
  • Pike, Sarah M. (2004) New Age and Neopagan Religions in America. Columbia University Press ISBN 0-231-12402-3, ISBN 978-0-231-12402-7
  • Urban, Hugh B. (2006) Magia Sexualis: Sex, Magic, and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism. University of California Press ISBN 0-520-24776-0, ISBN 978-0-520-24776-5
  • Vale, V.; Sulak, John (2001). Modern pagans : an investigation of contemporary pagan practices. San Francisco, Calif.: RE/Search Publications. pp. 70–77. ISBN 1-889307-10-6. 

My apologies; I just realized the last one has a page cite. I'll re-add that one. Still think it should be turned into an inline cite. - Slàn, Kathryn NicDhàna 00:09, 13 February 2014 (UTC)