Eating the Green Egg Omelette (a review)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 12, 2009 — 5 Comments

The print medium is changing irrevocably. Any clear-eyed assessment concerning the state of magazines and newspapers would see a widespread and unforgiving culling taking place. So many magazines are going under that a regularly updated blog has been created to keep track of the carnage, while digital-age pundits predict that the surviving niche publications will soon have to make hard choices about their future. While I’m no futurist, I’ve seen some of these changes coming for some time now, the struggling economy only hastening a transition already underway. It is part of the reason that the bulk of my writing is focused on this blog, rather than in the more “traditional” outlets for a writer/journalist (though I do admit to a certain romantic attachment to being in print, and I currently write for Pagan publications like PanGaia and Thorn).

Given these shake-ups in the world of print, I think it is entirely timely that I recently received a review copy of “Green Egg Omelette: An Anthology of Art and Articles From the Legendary Pagan Journal”. This book, a compliation of excerpts from one of the most influential Pagan magazines ever printed, shows just how vital and necessary the format once was. While books published for Pagans usually stuck to the “101-isms” of Wicca and other Pagan faiths, it was in the magazines that this loose network of Witches, Pagans, magicians, free-thinkers, and philosophers started to communicate, hash out ideas, argue, and push the boundaries of what they knew. It was a place where Pagan filk could rub shoulders with treatises on magic(k) by Robert Anton Wilson, and initial attempts at describing a Pagan theology could have a place next to explorations of polyamory. It is little wonder that even today Green Egg is remembered fondly by almost all who came across it in their journey.

I suppose it is at this point that I should share my own “discovering Green Egg” story, but I fear there is little to tell. I came across it in the 90s, after it had returned from a 12-year hiatus. I had heard famous stories about the legendarily volatile letters column, but as the Internet age dawned, most of the good (and bad) arguments were moving online, and the ones that remained made it seem like you walked into a dinner party at 1am (completely lost on what all the fuss was about). Still, I did like many of the editorials and articles, and picked it up whenever I could. When I discovered that it had folded, I was already fooling around with my first blog, and starting my journey towards what would eventually become The Wild Hunt. I had obviously missed out on something.

Receiving this “omelette” fills in for me why Green Egg was so important and pivotal. To say that this is an essential collection really doesn’t do it justice. So many BNPs (big-name Pagans) and influential thinkers have contributed to this magazine that reading this collection is like watching a time-lapse movie of our history. If books like Chas Clifton’s “Her Hidden Children” or Ronald Hutton’s “Triumph of the Moon” give you the essential outline of our history, “Green Egg Omelette” fills in many of the questions about who these people were. What did they think about? Who did they love? What kind of jokes did they tell, or songs did they sing? What (and who) were they passionate about? This is an invaluable document that rescues our living history from the memory hole, and presents it to a newer generation unfamiliar with where many of the ideas they hold (and argue about) come from. So consider this my endorsement to run out an buy several copies.

As for the future of Pagan magazines, I wish success on all that survive, but I believe an era is ending. I don’t think something as vital as Green Egg can come around again (the magazine’s recent attempt to re-launch on the Internet seems to somewhat miss the point of the new medium), and the magazines that do survive aren’t as influential as they once were (sorry guys, it’s just my opinion). Thanks to blogs, podcasts, social networking, and message-boards a savvy reader could get a “Green Egg” every week (complete with an assortment of “big names” and big arguments) for free without trying too hard. The challenge now for publishers and content creators wanting to venture into this brave new world is to find the magic formula for making a living while reaching their audience, a problem that many are now trying to solve (and a problem I have faith we’ll eventually solve). While that happens, amidst the “death pools”, and (possibly) folding newspapers, why not read “Green Egg Omelette” and remember why magazines and newsletters were once so darn important to our development.

Jason Pitzl-Waters