Interview: Notrenlim Phoenix Tradition
As part of Occult Heritage Month PENTON caught up with Arch-Priest Zeo Frost of the Notrenlim Phoenix Tradition to hear about his tradition.
Tell us about the beginnings of the Notrenlim Phoenix Tradition
“In 1998, April, I taught my first two students. I was young and should not have been allowed to teach at such a young age, but coming from an alternative home is not always all it is cracked up to be. The ‘course’ that I taught was all of 24 pages long. Looking back, I have to laugh at it. But as I grew and developed, so too the course grew and developed. Today we have a degree system with 4 Degrees and Postulancy. Our Module on the Sabbaths alone is 42 pages long.
The birth of the Notrenlim Phoenix Tradition is really the result of the progression in thought and accumulative development of a Spiritual study group setup in 2004. In 2004 I started what was called the DPTC (De Tyger Pagan Teaching Circle); this was a very casual group that met once a month and evolved to become NPT.
So many people played a vital part in helping me to get this Tradition to where it is today; and if I ever had to make some form of acceptance speech one day, I will have to make sure that I include everyone. Some people put in physical work, others offered moral support, and some gave me their ear and some endless amounts of coffee.
But our Tradition is one that constantly evolves. It evolves as people with different interests join us. My work is never done: I never have an early night and I have forgotten what a social life is; but I have chosen this life of service and to tell you the truth, I love it.”
Where does the name, ‘Notrenlim Phoenix Tradition’, come from?
“When we had to decide on the next evolutionary step for our group.
We were doing a ritual on the beach. It was a time of rebirth for so many of us. I remember the day very clearly. About 5 of the group went to the Dros first to establish what new boundaries we will set and we started speaking about taking on more of a healing route. I started getting severe cramps in my arm and out of nowhere a Hindi man appeared, all dressed in white, and asked if he could do healing on me. I agreed.
While doing this healing he said to the group, “Remember people, it’s all about healing,” and then he disappeared again. It was like a Spirit Guide had come to confirm what we were thinking. We went to the beach and there we experienced some more real Spiritual moments- we all were re-birthed; hence the word Phoenix. Notrenlim, is really the name of the area that we met at.”
So what makes the NPT unique and what are some of its core beliefs?
“There is not much that makes NPT different from all the other groups out there. I have belonged to a few groups in my day as well and so many of them say that they are a family but when you need them… yeah, you get the idea.
NPT has become a family where people interact the way that families do. Yes, that means that we even piss each other off every now and again. This is normal, but we deal with it like adults: we get over it and we move on.
We are all here for the greater good of the group. Whenever I hear a group say, “We always get along, we don’t have issues,” then I run a mile because something is wrong in that group. This is real life and things are not always happy and ‘la la’ in real life.
However one of the things that I truly believe sets us aside is our rule of “Keep your fingers in straight jackets” (I am not saying we are the only group to practise this). NPT never gets involved in the affairs of others, even when other people want to slander us. I say let them- we know who we are, what we doing and where we going; and we do not need the approval of anyone else. If someone is slandering us, they’re ultimately showing everyone else that they are very proficient in gossip, that’s all. We do not get involved in the politics of others. Somehow we do sometimes get thrown into it and then we still try not to retort. We are quiet and stick to our ways.
Another one of our ways are not to limit people in roles based on their actual gender. To us, your sex is what happens between your ears, not between your legs.
NPT is all about bettering the Tradition of NPT. When we constantly evolve, we are constantly making sure that all of our members are being cared for as much as what we can.”
So many Pagan groups come and go, what is the success that keeps the NPT going?
“Honestly, the fact that we do not get involved in what the Pagan community has so affectionately called ‘The Bitchcraft’.” I read what people have to say about each other and it shocks me. I read what people have to say about me and NPT and it shocks me. I do not understand the power play and meddling. You know I have always tried to remember a quote from “The Task” by William Cowper,
“Knowledge dwells in heads replete with thoughts of other men: Wisdom, in minds attentive to their own.”
I was young once and also had dreams of a Pagan community (country-wide) that stood united. I also made bizarre statements like crawling through broken glass and hot coals to unite this country. But then I grew up and realised that the ones that cry for Unity the most are, 1) the ones that love the flair for the drama and always has some or other drama and 2) don’t want unity but dictatorship.
So NPT sits on one side and we do our own thing. Often we have no idea about what is going on in the broader Pagan community. When asked for our opinions, we give it unashamedly. But as for the Bitchcraft, we don’t mind that other groups and their leaders want to kill each other to be the new “Pope or Popess”, we just ask that you do it quietly and don’t involve us.”
Given that NPT prefers to be without the politics plaguing Paganism today, has the tradition being involved in the greater Pagan movement?
“The NPT has hosted more public events, in all forms, than what I can even try and count. We have worked with other groups, we have branched groups, and we have empowered groups and individuals. We have publically taken stands to better the community. We have worked tirelessly at trying to create a better way. But very often one gets, shall we say backlashed, for trying to do good.
And then I simply remember what a dear friend of mine said one day. She said: “Remember Zeo, no good deed goes unpunished.” And it is true, yet we have not stopped helping.
We have taken Pagans in that have been kicked out of their homes for their beliefs. We have fed them and given them a roof over their heads. Not once, not twice but many times; and all too often without even getting a thank you. We have been present at so many functions to either open the function or close it. We have even had the opportunity to dine with African Dignitaries to put forward views on Paganism.
But let me tell you why people do not know about everything that we do. It’s because not once have we thrown it in the faces of the public movement, and not once have we even asked for a thank you, let alone recognition.
You have to remember I have been around since 1998. That’s a long time. I sometimes feel like one of the old folks of Paganism. I have had time to do many things and be in contact with many people.”
With such a long history in Paganism and a thriving tradition, what are some of NPT’s most significant milestones?
“There is so much to be honest with you. The fact that NPT has survived as long as what it has is a milestone in itself.
But I would have to say the day we received our first International correspondence student, and today we have many. There’s also the day we had over 60 people in a ritual and the many times we have come together to do the Big Walk in our witch hats to promote Paganism (even been given the TV time (on the day) to do it). Also the fact that we were so instrumental in the Cape Town Unity Manifesto.
And not forgetting when we hosted Pagan Freedom Day earlier this year, which was a huge success. We even had posters promoting Paganism on the side of the road for PFD- a first in the history of this country. And at our Beltaine Festival we were the first public Tradition that has had an actual Great Rite between a sacred couple.
I was also privileged enough to sign the book of remembrance for Doreen Valiente. A personal milestone for me was the day I was accepted as one of the ‘Who’s Who in South Africa’. The list carries on. There is so much for us to be grateful for, but I cannot take all the credit- I have an amazing team that works tirelessly with me. “
Having such a rich past, what do you see for the future of the NPT?
“I honestly don’t know. I have learned with the NPT never to presume something. We grow as time evolves. However I can promise you that we will definitely still be around.”
With having played a part in the Pagan movement in SA, what ideals do you hold for the future of Paganism and other occult-orientated beliefs in SA?
“I certainly don’t hold any ideals for anyone outside of NPT. Everyone’s path is different and everyone has a different moral code and guideline. What is right for one person is not always right for the next. But there is a favour I would like to ask of the occult-orientated beliefs and that is to concern yourself with your own affairs.
When we do meet, let it not be out of the need to be better, but out of the need to meet. Remember in this lifestyle and in this movement we are all replaceable, for the movement must ever survive. I would never presume to ask people to get along.
Besides, that would be too easy for some (tongue in cheek), but if we all just focus on the positive work we are doing instead of screaming at others about how wrong they are, then we have come far way. Remember people, gossip destroys Altars.”
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