Yesterday, The Wild Hunt ran a story about allegations of sexual abuse against Isaac Bonewits , author, founder of ADF, and pioneer of Neo-Paganism. The accusations come from Moira Greyland, daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley, in her book, The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon. I have no direct knowledge of this woman’s experience, and I can not speak to that, but I am sincerely sorry for whatever pain she may have endured.
Isaac Bonewits however, was a close friend of mine for decades. He passed away in 2010, and is no longer able to defend himself. For those who are still wondering why I “have a nickel in this quarter” as they say, Isaac wasn’t only my friend, he was also my literary agent and also a travelling companion on numerous different occasions. In more than one instance I saw him take a vocal stand against inappropriate behavior around Pagan children, even when others sat silent. While he and I never had an intimate relationship, we did have several conversations about consent, and what was and wasn’t acceptable behavior.
The Wild Hunt did publish statements about the matter from Bonewits’ last two wives: Phaedra Bonewits and Deborah Lipp, and his son Arthur Lipp-Bonewits. Their statements raise issues with the timeline presented by Greyland, in addition to saying
” We do not believe that Isaac said or did the abhorrent things stated and implied in Ms. Greyland’s book, they are entirely inconsistent with the man we knew. Isaac wasn’t perfect, but we knew him as gentle, loving, good-hearted, a wonderful father, and a tender husband. We honor and cherish his memory. It is in the spirit of honoring this good man who is not here to defend himself, that we reluctantly break his confidentially. Whether Ms. Greyland was hurt by Isaac himself, we have no direct knowledge, nor does she state so explicitly. But unquestionably, her life was one that no child should ever have endured, and we extend to her our deepest sympathies. ”
Personally, I awoke this morning, hours before dawn, with an overwhelming desire to share a story about my time with Isaac that I feel is relevant to this topic. It was almost as if he had woken me up, as he had done so many times in the past when we were travelling together, knocking on my door and telling me there was important work to be done.
I am not fond of driving, so whenever Isaac and I were to attend an event together he offered to drive me there. On one such occasion we were taking the long trip from New York to Virginia. We had left at rush hour, and getting out of NYC is always an experience. This particular night, in addition to the traffic, we were also dealing with bad weather. Because of this it became clear that we were unable to make the trip in one shot, and would have to stop and get lodgings for the night. The inclement weather meant that there were very few hotel rooms to be had, and when we finally found one with a vacancy, we discovered there was only one room left, and it only had one bed. Needless to say this was not ideal conditions. Because it is important to this story I will disclose that I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor, and sharing a room, let alone a bed, with those I am not in an intimate relationship with is difficult. Isaac knew this about me, but because we were exhausted, we figured we would try and make it work. I smile about it now, but in the end I can say neither of us got any sleep. Not because of any behavior that happened, but because of my own history I found myself unable to relax enough to get some rest. Isaac told me in the morning he was so afraid of drifting off and having his foot or hand cross over to my side of the bed and upset me, he couldn’t sleep either. In this experience, as in every other I had with this man, I felt respected and honored as both a woman, and an individual.
As I said, I can only speak for my own experience. Those who know me however, know that I am quite vocal against those in the Pagan community who I personally know to be conducting themselves inappropriately. This works much to my own detriment, and I frequently hear rumors about how I am a hater, and won’t let things go. This is hurtful to me, but I will continue to speak out against harmful behavior in the Pagan community whenever, and wherever I see it. Abuse runs rampant in this community, and I would never deny that. I’m sure this post will not be a popular one, I will be vilified, and people will misunderstand my motives in writing it. In this instance however, I feel I need to respectfully assert my own truths in regards to the matter (as he would have done for me if the situation were reversed,) and share an account of my time with Isaac Bonewits, a man who I am still glad to say was my friend.
Thank you for reading, and as always if you have enjoyed what you read here please share.