The Other McCain

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Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Son Describes Abuse by Feminist Pagan Fiction Author

Posted on | July 15, 2014 | 39 Comments

Marion Zimmer Bradley was famous for her Avalon novel series.

“Wicca refers to the practice of European paganism popular throughout Europe and North America. . . . Dianic Wicca refers to a more radical women-only practice, named for the Goddess Diana. The novels of Marion Zimmer Bradley have been influential for Dianic Wiccans . . .”
“Dianic Wicca,” Historical Dictionary of Lesbian Literature

Last month I reported on this startling revelation:

Moira Greyland is the daughter of famed novelist Marion Zimmer Bradley, who died in 1999. Greyland’s father –Bradley’s second husband, Walter Breen — was accused of sexually molesting a 12-year-old boy in 1989, ten years after he separated from Bradley, who was accused of covering up her for husband’s pedophile activities. Bradley’s own tendencies toward lesbianism have been noted, but now Moira Greyland has claimed that she was molested by her mother . . .

Moira Greyland said her mother first molested her at age 3 and the last time when Moira was 12, describing the chaos of her childhood home (“out of control drugs, orgies, and constant flow of people in and out”) with a mother who was “cruel and violent.” Now Moira’s brother Mark is speaking out about Bradley’s abuse:

There was always drama and there was always the invisible blade of what would happen if all of this dreadful secret got out. The atmosphere of fear of discovery was simply everywhere and there was no place to hide. . . .

He talks about his mother’s fans in the feminist neo-pagan movement:

When women started approaching her saying stuff like “you saved my life; now I don’t have to kill myself”, she started wearing new faces around them and more and more of them would gather around her.
Some of them were so angry they treated me like I was a crime for daring to be male around her. Others would give me the deer in the headlights look then look away.
There were times these unhappy women would gather around her by the dozens and I would stand back and watch her on stage and happy. I saw the rituals and the other weirdness close up and then at a distance. What they got out of it was something I did not understand, but I could see that the people were volatile and likely to blow up for invisible reasons.
Feminism to me was a lot of very unhappy women telling stories to each other about how they had been hurt. They were getting ready to change the world and I didn’t want to be in front of that train when it started rolling.

You can read the whole thing. Most people have no idea how influential Bradley was in 20th-century neo-paganism. Categorizing her pagan feminist genre as “lifestyle fantasy” novels, historian Brian Stableford has recounted how Bradley “became something of a guru to numerous writers of a similar stripe, several of whom — including Diana L. Paxson and Gael Baudino — described themselves as priestesses of ‘Dianic Wicca.'” Bradley and Paxson were co-founders of the California-based Center for Non-Traditional Religion, subsequently renamed the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, which is focused on the “Triple Goddess” (Maiden, Mother, Crone) of neo-pagan belief.

Dianic Wicca is quite nearly a synonym for “lesbian paganism” or “feminist witchcraft.” It was founded by a crazy Hungarian-born woman known as Zsuzsanna Budapest who became a feminist, divorced her husband, abandoned her two sons and turned lesbian. In 1975, she was arrested for violating a Los Angeles ordinance against fortune-telling, leading to what she has called “The Last Great American Witch Trial.” She is director of the Women’s Spirituality Forum, which sponsors the International Goddess Festival.

A three-day festival of ridiculous mystic nonsense for $375:

Join us for a blissful weekend filled with magic, sisterhood, and deep connection to the rhythms of the Earth! Once again, we gather together in the coastal redwoods of California among the enchanted energies of Mother Nature to honor the Goddess, ourselves, and one another. . . .
Evenings are reserved for us to come together in the Gaia Bowl, our sacred ritual space of “Fire & Light.” It is here that we call to the Goddess and weave our magic; honor and invoke our Foremothers; hold Initiation and Ordination rituals; and drum, dance, and sing our prayers — for ourselves and the Earth! All of nature is just a step outside your cabin door.

The connection between this pagan/lesbian/feminist “spirituality” and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s career is well-known, and her colleague Diana Paxson reacted to the abuse accusations:

I saw Marion’s children at family parties, and in passing when I was at Greenwalls for meetings, which usually took place in the Center for Non-Traditional Religion’s room over the garage. I never personally observed, nor had any reason to suspect, that she was abusing either of her children.
After living elsewhere for a number of years, both of Marion’s younger children have now returned to the Bay Area. Moira’s brother is currently living with us at Greyhaven. . . .
Our women’s circle met once a month to explore women’s spirituality and study the goddesses. The circle included both straight women and lesbians. I do not recall any overt sexuality within the circle, and I neither observed nor heard about any abusive relationships between Marion and any other woman or girl.

Bradley’s feminist fan Alyssa Rosenberg is disturbed:

A significant theme of Zimmer Bradley’s answers in her 1998 deposition [in a lawsuit related to her ex-husband’s sexual abuse of boys} is the idea that very young teenagers ought to be able to make their own sexual decisions, including about whether to have sex with adults who proposition them. She rejects the idea that any element of coercion is possible in these interactions, particularly when a teenager is physically larger than an adult. . . .
Answers like these throw passages from “The Mists of Avalon” into a new and disturbing light. Take one passage about a Beltane ritual. Zimmer Bradley writes that “The little blue-painted girl who had borne the fertilizing blood was drawn down into the arms of a sinewy old hunter, and Morgaine saw her briefly struggle and cry out, go down under his body, her legs opening to the irresistible force of nature in them.”
Without the context of Zimmer Bradley’s personal history, it is possible to read this sentence as a description of an ancient religious practice that is unsettling both in its depiction of an altered state and behavior that contemporary readers would not find acceptable. In the context of her testimony, and an article she wrote about sensual relationships between older and much younger women in literature, we lose the reassurance that the author shares our moral and ethical presumptions.

Whose “moral and ethical presumptions” are these, Ms. Rosenberg? Aren’t you trying to impose your morality on these neo-pagans? Isn’t your reaction rather — what’s that word? — judgmental?

Maybe you should consult a Dianic high priestess.

UPDATE: Something I hadn’t previously realized is that Bradley’s husband Walter Breen was a notorious gay pedophile before she married him. Click here to read a 1964 account of the scandal Breen’s perversion caused in the science-fiction community. What’s fascinating — the way that a bloody car crash beside the highway is fascinating — is how Breen was protected by the “bohemian” ethos of Berkeley radicals in that era. The guy was a serial child molester, everybody knew it, and nobody felt obliged to call the cops.



39 Responses to “Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Son Describes Abuse by Feminist Pagan Fiction Author”

  1. Political Rift » Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Son Describes Abuse by Feminist Pagan Fiction Author
    July 15th, 2014 @ 8:45 pm

    […] Read more here: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Son Describes Abuse by Feminist Pagan Fiction Author […]

  2. RKae
    July 15th, 2014 @ 8:56 pm

    The novels of Marion Zimmer Bradley have been influential for Dianic Wiccans

    Gee. So was “The Sacrament of Abortion” by Ginette Paris.

    A proud heritage there, the Dianic Wiccans.

  3. RS
    July 15th, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

    At least Ms. Rosenberg confesses discomfort. My guess is that most of Zimmer-Bradley’s fans and sycophants will be circling the wagons in her defense or ignoring these allegations.

  4. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Son Describes Abuse by Feminist Pagan Fiction Author | That Mr. G Guy's Blog
    July 15th, 2014 @ 9:22 pm

    […] Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Son Describes Abuse by Feminist Pagan Fiction Author. […]

  5. Jeanette Victoria
    July 15th, 2014 @ 9:43 pm

    FYI I know people in the Bradley coven and I knew Zsuzsanna Budapest (lets say even then I held her in contempt) Folks (read lesbians) actually LIED under oath for her.

    None of this surprises me modern neo-paganism is really just a colorful way for a bunch of narcissistic sexual degenerates to get lots of sex.

  6. RKae
    July 15th, 2014 @ 9:48 pm

    That’s exactly how Anton LaVey filled his house: a few people took it as “ritual”; a lot of jolly Hollywood types took it as a party.

  7. Ghost
    July 15th, 2014 @ 9:50 pm

    This is rape culture. And its primary target is young boys.

  8. Jeanette Victoria
    July 15th, 2014 @ 10:06 pm

    Actually it was anything thing young; didn’t even have to be human. At one of my seasonals there was a drunk woman trying to get it on with my Great Dane

  9. RKae
    July 15th, 2014 @ 10:12 pm

    Jeanette, have you ever heard the song “Play Me Backwards” by Joan Baez?

    Check it out:

  10. Jeanette Victoria
    July 15th, 2014 @ 10:20 pm

    Never heard it before

  11. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    July 15th, 2014 @ 10:22 pm

    Where is Ned Stark when you need him? He was willing to swing the sword himself.

  12. SineWaveII
    July 15th, 2014 @ 10:27 pm

    And don’t forget, being able to avoid taxes and makes lots of lots of money while doing it. That always seems to be a part of it.

  13. Matt_SE
    July 15th, 2014 @ 11:07 pm

    Stuff like this is why the God of the Old Testament was angry and vengeful. Considering the deluge of leftism we’re being subjected to, I can’t say I blame him.

  14. Matt_SE
    July 15th, 2014 @ 11:21 pm

    I’ve been thinking for years now about what makes societies rise to greatness.
    It can basically be boiled down to “the citizens are willing to control themselves and their desires.”
    This paganist/libertine bullshit is built on the opposite: that every passing whim should be indulged to the maximum.
    Opposite actions, opposite results.

  15. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    July 16th, 2014 @ 12:22 am
  16. M. Thompson
    July 16th, 2014 @ 12:37 am

    And note, how hard it is for him to talk about.

    That is how messed up this all is.

  17. concern00
    July 16th, 2014 @ 12:37 am

    All of the diverse, contradictory and often conflicting pathologies of leftist ideology all have one remarkably common theme. And our Creator is neither surprised nor amused.

  18. K-Bob
    July 16th, 2014 @ 1:13 am

    Guilty of ignoring the “You must be this tall to ride” signs.

  19. Ghost
    July 16th, 2014 @ 1:16 am

    Wow. That is incredibly disgusting. I only meant that, among humans, the rape of little boys is criminally ignored in this country, from the Catholic church, to the teachers unions, to Penn state, to Ed Kramer (and apparently several more in science fiction community), to, of course, Hollywood. Corey Feldman wasn’t alone in speaking out about that. I’m just saying that if there is a rape culture in this country, it’s not happening at college campuses (well, aside from Penn state). It’s happening to tens if not hundreds of thousands of little boys in this country.

    But gah, that girl wanting your dog… effin gross.

  20. RKae
    July 16th, 2014 @ 1:20 am


  21. K-Bob
    July 16th, 2014 @ 1:30 am

    For some reason I am reminded of maggots writhing in that unidentifiable goo that lies at the bottom of the big trash bins in cities.

    Drug abuse leads people to embrace the filth. Even simple alcohol abuse does that, as anyone who ever laughed at Bill Cosby’s routine about getting drunk can attest. (Because we have all been there. Or most nearly all of us) ~~~~~

    Now you are ready… to put your face… in a place… that was never built for your face…. <groans>… Now you feel it coming…”

    Now that wave has passed. You stop. And you put your head on the toilet bowl. And you thank the toilet bowl. ‘Thank you toilet bowl. Thank you so much for being cool on the side. Only you understand me toilet bowl. You’re the only friend I have

    …And that’s called, ‘having a good time.’

  22. Jeanette Victoria
    July 16th, 2014 @ 2:45 am

    A lot of use were grossed out. She and the dog were quite drunk. He was young had been neutered before expressing humping behavior she taught him some bad stuff.

  23. Wombat_socho
    July 16th, 2014 @ 4:25 am

    This recalls Paglia’s admonition that civilization requires repression and discipline.

  24. Quartermaster
    July 16th, 2014 @ 8:36 am

    One part of “America The Beautiful” is the line “Crown thy Gold with self control.” America has forgotten that control of carnal passion is required for a country to rise to greatness, but also to maintain it. What we are getting is the result of America abandoning its Christian heritage.

  25. K-Bob
    July 16th, 2014 @ 8:49 am

    Rum, sodomy, and the lash!

  26. GrandsonOGrumpus
    July 16th, 2014 @ 9:08 am

    I’ve not been inebriated– being LDS, I don’t indulge in those behaviors&dash; but I’ve lived in situations where I’ve had roommates/housemates who did.

    I’ve always been impressed w/the accuracy of Cosby’s routine— and that not withstanding the unpleasantness people still set out “to get $h!!-faced”(as they, themselves, phrased it…)! Why? What’s the draw w/poisoning one’s self to within the shadow of death’s door, (alcohol is a metabolic poison, after all).

    Returning from a visit home for my Dad’s birthday one time, I found out a housemate had become so polluted he didn’t remember betting his precious (and heavily customized) car w/a woman that he could “get into” her friend’s pants. When she asked if the bet was secret, he said she could “tell anyone she wanted”… I don’t think he meant to include the object of the bet!

    He was very surprised the next day when “his baby” wasn’t in the garage! Our other two housemates reminded him of the bet, and told him he’d given the girls the pink slip for his car before he’d passed out.

    And though the girls returned the car the day after, the guy still, decades later, gets ribbed about it.

    Drinking alcohol for its flavor wouldn’t be a problem, but few are those who can stop at that… for the rest of us, it is better to just not start.

  27. Matt_SE
    July 16th, 2014 @ 11:10 am

    True, and Paglia probably made the point that the crux is who is doing the repression/disciplining:
    If the citizens control themselves, you have freedom.
    If the state controls the citizens, you have autocracy.

  28. Hanzo
    July 16th, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

    Gee, those Dianic Wiccans aren’t the brightest , that’s for certain. On the cover of “The Mists of Avalon” the majestic Dianic Wiccan is holding the sword by the blade. Maybe they have really hard hands.

  29. Quartermaster
    July 16th, 2014 @ 3:41 pm

    Dude! That was the Royal Navy. No organization more repressive. Particularly when press gangs were operating.

  30. Wombat_socho
    July 16th, 2014 @ 4:02 pm


  31. Wombat_socho
    July 16th, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

    Vox Day has been posting about this as well, albeit with a purpose; he is using MZB, Breen and Sam Delany as a rather large stick with which to beat on SFWA for its lefty hypocrisy.

  32. Ghost
    July 16th, 2014 @ 5:33 pm

    The Jesus of the new testament also advocated suicide for child molesters. Suicide by drowning, no less.

  33. K-Bob
    July 16th, 2014 @ 7:36 pm

    Funny story, that.

    I’m one of the lucky folks who never became addicted to anything of a chemical nature. I also have never experienced the phenomenon of “blacking out” (not the same thing as passing out), except on two occasions (which extenuating circumstances explain). I know this is pure, luck-of-the-draw genetics, and has nothing to do with my impressive self-control.

    But I know drugs make you disregard germs. If you look at Woodstck footage from the 60’s, you’ll see images of people “playing in the mud.” Much of the “mud” in question came from tipped-over outhouses.

    But as bad as alcohol can be when parents of young children abuse it, it pales in comparison to what parents who take other drugs have been doing to their kids. No parent of young children should ever take illegal drugs. I think this is exactly what leads to situations like RSM describes in the article, as well as “coven” like behaviors, and Aleister Crowley type groups.

  34. K-Bob
    July 16th, 2014 @ 7:39 pm

    I forgot daily rations of Grog.

  35. The Osprey
    July 16th, 2014 @ 10:30 pm
  36. Hanzo
    July 17th, 2014 @ 2:26 pm

    Versus The Jesus of the moderately new testament? Perhaps your translation of the real Bible is the DWV?

  37. News of the Week (July 20th, 2014) | The Political Hat
    July 20th, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

    […] Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Son Describes Abuse by Feminist Pagan Fiction Author Moira Greyland said her mother first molested her at age 3 and the last time when Moira was 12, describing the chaos of her childhood home (“out of control drugs, orgies, and constant flow of people in and out”) with a mother who was “cruel and violent.” Now Moira’s brother Mark is speaking out about Bradley’s abuse […]

  38. Three Dragon Theory: Game of Thrones (Spoilers) | Batshit Crazy News
    July 21st, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

    […] Hey George, I won’t bug you about book 6 and 7, but do me a favor and don’t get all creepy like Marion Zimmer Bradley… […]

  39. Separating Authors from their Works | Raven Oak
    July 28th, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

    […] P.S. Decent articles on the topic here and here and here. […]