Monday, March 12, 2007

My continued fascination with Gleb Botkin

I recently found a Wikipedia entry on Gleb Botkin. I still think that he is one of the most fascinating figures in American Paganism, with a life whose arc connected the lost world of the Russian royal family to the contemporary Pagan revival of the 1950s and 1960s.

He is worth a biography of his own, I think.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the person who wrote the Wikipedia article. I've been interested by Botkin ever since I read Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson 20 years ago. He sounds to me like the sort of fellow who was a 1960s hippie about 30 years too soon. Reading about his early years, I'd guess that he had a fair amount of resentment over his parents' divorce and his father's religious leanings, which may have contributed to his Aphrodisian rebellion.

I've cobbled together as much information as I can about him using the books I had at hand, a forum thread, his son's obituary and an old newspaper interview I found on line. I've cited everything so other writers can follow my trail to improve upon it. My guess is that you have considerably more information at hand that could improve that Wikipedia article, if you're so inclined. I do think he deserves his own biography and I'd love to be the one to write it, but I doubt I'll ever have the time or the access to the information I'd need to do it justice. I hope you'll consider going back and editing the article with the information you know from writing your book. Andrea

10:23 PM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...


You did a good job. I might add a sentence or two at some point though.


8:52 AM  
Blogger Lonnie said...

As a member of a pagan group in Charlottesville, he's of special interest to us since he represents our local history. I've actually managed to make contact with a former member of his group and he sent me a copy of one of Mr. Botkin's out of print books, as well as detailed many personal memories. He was a really fascinating person and every effort should be made so that his significant contribution to American neopaganism isn't forgotten.

It is our hope that we can raise funds for a memorial of some kind to him in Charlottesville, as well as get our own copies of some of his works to make sure they are preserved. Ideally, I'd also like to see some of his older books republished since they still have very relevant and important things to say to the younger generations.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Chas S. Clifton said...

I mention Botkin again in a latter posting.

I have not been in Charlottesville since the early 1990s, and although I knew about Botkin then, I didn't know as much about the Anna Anderson/Jack Manahan connection. I would like to return and see sites associated with them all.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Lonnie said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Lonnie said...

I've since had the chance to learn a whole lot more about Gleb, and read some of his out of print books.

Some interesting details worth noting is that he was aware of Wicca in the 1960's but didn't really wish to be associated with it. There is even a slight possibility that he even met Raymond Buckland and wasn't too impressed (but only Buckland can confirm or deny that now). It is also possible that he'd even objected to being called a "pagan".

He was also a staunch monotheist. which I suppose one could assume via his Church's name; however it is an important difference that seperates him from modern NeoPagans. Based on a conversation with a family member, I think in many ways he saw his faith not so much as a revival of an ancient faith, but rather the "true faith" that preceeded the greek myths, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church. I also hear that although he spoke in glowing terms about nature, that he was not a fan of Environmentalism, that to him, felt too much like Communism. Nonetheless, whether he wished it or not, a close reading of his books will reveal many contributions that were later adopted as conventions by other NeoPagans.

It brings up the legitimate question about who owns the future? I wonder what Thomas Jefferson think about what we've made of his Democracy? Can someone be a founding father of a faith that ultimately goes in a direction they disagree with?

Interesting things to think about...

3:52 PM  

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