A few quick news notes to start off the week.
The Case of the Disappearing Library Books: The Lewiston Sun Journal in Maine tackles an oldie but goody, which books “have legs” in the local public library, that is, which books are most often stolen.
“It’s like you know as soon as you order them; it’s almost like you have a betting pool. Anything to do with Wicca, witchcraft, supernatural, things like that. Especially the spells.” At her library, those books seem to bolt before they’re checked out, taken directly off the shelves. The library simply reorders every once in a while. Increased use of eBooks will help, she said — there’s nothing physical to lose. Her best guess on why it happens? “You know, I think there probably is just a little bit of fear that somebody’s going to judge. ‘They’re going to think I’m into something weird,’” Neal-Shaw said. “It’s almost like they’re trying to hide it from themselves; they haven’t come out of the Wicca closet.”
An informal survey conducted in 2001 by the American Library Association found similar results, books on Witchcraft, Paganism, and the occult get nicked on a regular basis. Why? Well, there’s the shame theory, as elucidated above, and there’s the anti-occult thievery theory as well.
“People take them because they don’t want other people to read about witchcraft, and people use them without returning them. I think we have a little bit of both going on.”
While there’s no doubt that some library Pagan/occult sections are getting thinned due to anti-Pagan sentiment, those perpetrators usually like to make a public statement regarding their actions. I think in many cases it is simply individuals who believe they have a right to keep a book, and lack the moral clarity to see how their actions harm other library patrons. It’s hard enough finding decent occult and Pagan-oriented library collections, and these thefts only make it harder. After all, why waste money on books that will simply get stolen?
The tribute to Spare was in timed to the closing of an exhibition of his art at Cuming Museum. You can find some of Spare’s occult writings, here. You may also want to check out this profile in the Fortean Times.
Christine O’Donnell Dominates: She didn’t win the election, but she did win more election-season coverage than any other political figure short of the President. Thanks to “dabble-gate”, and other embarrassing incidents, Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell dominated the news cycle, dragging a large number of Pagans into the spotlight with her.
What does it mean? Well, that there is such a thing as bad press, and that the mainstream media was more interested in talking about O’Donnell’s tenuous ties to “witchcraft” than about the real issues Americans actually cared about. Certainly this isn’t what I was hoping would be the most-reported story involving modern Pagans this year. In my heart I’d like to think this could be a wakeup call for the press, but I highly doubt it.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!