American Wiccan high priest and key founder of the Pagan Way, an organization whose rituals have been in widespread use since 1970.
Born in Roxboro, North Carolina, to a family with Russian roots, Fitch grew up in various locations around the country because of the moves required of his father, who worked in the construction trade. At age nine, he and his father sighted a UFO over their ranch in northern California. Fitch remembers that a circular object about 50 feet in diameter, with an aura of orange flames, rose up from a nearby mountain and cruised silently over the ranch.
Fitch spent four years at the Virginia Military Institute, where he began a lifelong research into the paranormal. After graduation, he entered the Air Force and was sent to Japan, where he ran a courier station, carrying secret documents from a spy organization that eves dropped on Soviet activities in Siberia. While there, he delved into Buddhism and Shinto.
After three years, Fitch returned to civilian life in the United States, working as a technical writer and electronics engineer in Washington, D.C. It was now the 1960's, and modem Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism were spreading around the country. Fitch was initiated into the Gardnerian tradition of Witchcraft by Raymond and Rosemary Buckland (see RAYMOND BUCKLAND), and eventually rose to the rank of high priest. He also was trained in trance channeling by Spiritualist mediums from the Church of All Worlds.
The Air Force called him back to duty during the Vietnam war and stationed him in Thailand, which provided him with another opportunity to learn about Eastern religions and mysticism. He obtained a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, which introduced him to Zen thought and action, a discipline that has stuck with him throughout life.
In Thailand, Fitch wrote two books that were never formally published but that later circulated in the Pagan community and became "underground classics": The Grimoire of the Shadows, a book of magical training techniques, and The Outer Court Book of Shadows, which suppossedly reconstructs the magical and seasonal rituals of ancient Crete, Greece and Druidic Europe (see also BOOK OF SHADOWS). Twenty years later, material from these books was still surfacing in new traditions and rituals, sometimes being labeled as an "ancient Celtic tradition from Ireland and Scotland."
After Thailand, Fitch was reassigned to North Dakota to work on the redesign of Minuteman rockets. During this time he became part of a informal group that created the Pagan Way. Fitch composed introductory and background materials and public rituals and was instrumental in the forming of the first Pagan Way grove, in Chicago.
The Air Force sent Fitch next to southern California. He left the military as a captain and obtained a master's degree in systems management from the University of Southern California. He went to work for a major aerospace firm as a research and development engineer.
In the growing Pagan movement, Fitch helped to organize and chair two Pagan Ecumenical Councils, which established the Covenant of the Goddess as an international umbrella organization for Pagans in 1975. Fitch also published for a time The Crystal Well, a magazine of neo-romantic Paganism, which resulted in a published book, Magical Rites from the Crystal Well (1984).
In the 1980's Fitch remained active as a Gardnerian high priest and became involved in Odinism, a form of Norse Paganism that stresses conservative, familyoriented values. In the late 1980's his projects included books on the Odinist traditions of northern, central and eastern Europe; dance; and geomancy (see ODIN). He also worked on videotapes on magic, metaphysics and dance.
Fitch lives in the outskirts of Los Angeles with his wife and two sons.
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one defintion may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differring practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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