I just received my contributors copy of PanGaia #50 in the mail*, and enclosed with the issue is a letter from editor Anne Newkirk Niven explaining that due to a reexamination of “preconceptions” she will be ending PanGaia and merging its content and contributors into newWitch magazine.
“I have recently come to the conclusion that dividing our editorial into one “popular” magazine and one “serious” one is no longer a functional paradigm. What we really need today, I believe, is a single, united magazine – a Pagan journal of record – that covers a broad spectrum of Pagan lifestyle, theology, and community; equally able to profile Pagan celebrities and deeply engage with the issues of being Pagan in a new millennium.”
The new, larger, magazine will be entitled “newWitch: Creating Pagan Community” and will incorporate PanGaia columnists like Judy Harrow and R.J. Stewart, along with the magazine’s “Toe to Toe” department, into newWitch’s existing content (and keeping, I assume, popular newWitch columnists like Isaac Bonewits and Phil Brucato). Niven also claims that by combining these two magazines she’ll be able to get BBI Media’s stable (which includes Sage Woman) back on a regular quarterly schedule. PanGaia subscribers will receive issues of the new newWitch after issue #50 of PanGaia.
While Anne Newkirk Niven’s letter focuses on a personal/editorial epiphany of Pagan unity, there seems to be an unspoken thread of fiscal difficulties haunting the announcement. It is no secret that magazines have been dropping like flies in our current economic crisis, and many of our co-religionists involved with festivals and public events have noticed a general contraction lately. Perhaps, since Niven’s letter started with “in these difficult times”, it is simply assumed that fiscal problems were an element in the merger decision.
As for my opinion of the merger itself, I think it has some merit. I always thought that any seperation between “serious” and “popular” is a false dichotomy, especially when you’re dealing with a community filled with entrepenuers, impressarios, authors, artists, musicians, and activists. When the individual profiled on the cover of PanGaia #49 also appears in a popular softcore comic book co-created by an illustrator who did freelance work for newWitch you know you’re dealing with some blurry lines. As someone who wrote for newWitch for several years I never thought I was writing solely for “newbies” or that my subject matter was inherently lacking in seriousness, just that I was trying to reach out to a slightly younger demographic who were dissatisfied with the cultural options provided by the older guard.
Though I an outspoken proponent of new media, I wish the new newWitch a sustained and healthy existence. Perhaps this new unified editorial mandate will manage to spark a new creative era within the world of Pagan periodicals. Joining newcomers like Thorn in taking a more holistic approach to covering the Pagan world. Could a new relationship with the Internet and new media follow as well? Anything, it seems, may be possible.
* Issue #50 features my article “The Brightest Lights in Our Sky: Today’s Most Influential Pagans”. Between that and this being PanGaia’s last issue, how can you not hunt one down on the newstands?!