Ena, mena, mona, mite,
Bascalora, bora, bite,
Hugga, bucca, bau,
Eggs, butter, cheese, bread.
Stick, stock, stone dead - OUT*
|The Charlatan, GiGiovanni Domenico Tiepolo (1727 - 1804).|
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Being an ear to some sticky political jockeying on the part of a few friends, I became privy to what some might (& certainly some do) consider damning intel about a member of our community. The story, as carefully as I can tell it is thus:
In the process of collaborating on a (Wiccan) public rite, some feathers were ruffled over unconventional ideas. Words were exchanged & it began to appear that discomfort over ritual elements arose from one or more of these issues: 1) non-traditional methods, 2) disregard for hierarchy, or 3) inexperience/"stage fright" on the part of some participants. My friends were nonplussed & many calls were made, not only to myself, but to various leaders in other parts of the country, etc.
Of course, none of this concerns me directly, I simply played sounding board for their confusion & concerns. BUT. Then, in a genuine effort to understand the background of one of the people involved (the primary source of complaints), we made some inquiries... I must give credit where credit is due & say that it was clever Hubby who found the relevant & controversial information I will gingerly describe below.
The facts: There is a member of our community who claims many high degrees, including a doctorate, initiation in a pedigreed tradition & multiple ordinations. This person charges money for classes & services on the basis of these credentials. However, it has become clear that the "degree" & the ordinations were obtained from online websites where "you can be ordained right now for free, and be still able to practice your own religious traditions by simply clicking the button below" & you can obtain a "Doctor of Philosophy (for a) $55.00 donation." This strips this person's viable credentials down to a vague assertion of initiation into an unnamed tradition which has been only described as "Buckland's Blue Book to the letter"... & perhaps it literally is "Buckland's Blue Book" to the letter...Now all this makes me chuckle except for the fact that this particular person is giving people headaches over not wanting to do things that are "beneath them" (since when is serving the gods beneath anyone?) & grousing about how "hard (they) have worked" to attain their lofty status. Worse still, a friend of mine confided the other day that she has been receiving (I presume, for a fee) instruction from the aforementioned person of dubious credential...
charlatan |ˈ sh ärlətən; ˈ sh ärlətn|nouna person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill; a fraud. See note at quack .
This brings me to the crux of the issue. It's a two-part problem.
- One of my friends feels that the charlatan needs to be called out before the community, for community's sake -- particularly since this person provides "counseling" (for a fee) without any indication of training/expertise in this field. My friend's hope is that once people know the truth, folks will still collaborate with the outed-charlatan, being supportive, inclusive & recognizing that regardless of this person's questionable background, they still have something worthwhile to bring to the table. I am not sure I see it working out that way, but it's a nice idea. The question is, is it worth it?
- The more important issue (for me) is this: Do I tell my friend -- the student of said charlatan -- what I know? If I do, how do I broach this subject with delicacy & compassion without placing her on the defensive or making her feel like I am judging her efforts? What if she is gaining great things from this teacher? Do I risk needlessly botching a good teacher/student dynamic by telling her this information? People learn & grow from all kinds of diverse sources & experiences -- I cannot judge what will be helpful & productive for her. Perhaps I should leave it alone.
My final dilemma is this: What if the charlatan isn't really a charlatan, but rather a real phony?
"She's a real phony. You know why? Because she honestly believes all this phony junk that she believes." -- O.J. Berman, Breakfast at Tiffany's
|Magnetiseur: Dessin humoristique représentant |
un charlatan mesmérien, 1780. @ WikiCommons.
If you have seen this before in your community, or if you have any thoughts, comments, ideas, similar experiences to share, please post them below (anonymously if you like). If you prefer, email me at momafauna (at) gmail (dot) com. Oh, please share it with wise & foolish friends too! I'm accepting counsel from all corners -- degreed grand poohbahs, ordained nothing-of-its, fully licensed quacks, paupers, proletariats, high masters of nothingness, neophytes & if you talk to fungi... well then, I will take special heed.
*Cornish version of "Eeny Meeny Miney Moe" recorded by Fred Jago in The Glossary of the Cornish Dialect, 1882.