No matter what your belief system a whole lot of people are kicking off their holiday shopping today (or really, really, early this morning). Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, all initiatives to get people to spend their money early, to trigger that flood of commerce that many businesses, both small and large, depend on to survive. However, I believe this is also a great time to think about how the money you spend now could be used to help build important projects within the larger interconnected Pagan community. Perhaps a donation made in honor of a local elder, teacher, or friend who is active in building and supporting Pagan infrastructure.
A bright and ongoing success story in the Pagan community has been the utilization of crowd-funding sites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter to collectively raise funds for important projects.Starhawk raised over $75,000 dollars to help fund a pitch-reel in order get a feature film based on her book “The Fifth Sacred Thing” made. Peter Dybing helped raise $30,000 dollars for Doctors Without Borders in the wake of the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. Pagan singer-songwriter SJ Tucker was amazed when a Kickstarter campaign for Tricky Pixie’s European tour more than doubled their initial goal in a matter of hours (and kept on growing). In addition, several smaller initiatives have managed to collectively raise thousands for Pagan projects: The readers of The Wild Hunt funded the proposed budget of this site for a year, Chicago-based Pagan/magical performance troupe Terra Mysterium raised funds for their new show “The Alembic,”and the Goddess community funded a documentary film in honor of Merlin Stone.
Crowdfunding sites allow an easy mechanism for fundraising in communities that may have social networks and organizations, but not the robust money-raising infrastructure of already-established mainstream institutions. This is a place modern Paganism is in today, and more and more of us are turning to these sites as a solution to our “money problem.” There are hundreds of thousands of Pagans out there, millions around the world, and they desire to see our projects and initiatives advance just as much as any other faith community. On this “Black Friday” I’d like to bring two fundraising initiatives that I think are worthy of your support, and might just be the perfect gift for the community-minded Pagan on your list.
New Alexandrian Library Raises Funds to Finish Construction: At the end of 2011 the New Alexandrian Library, a project that hopes to create “a library worthy of its namesake” focused on esoteric knowledge, mystical and the spiritual writings from many traditions, officially broke ground on their physical space in Delaware. Then, the foundations for that library were poured for the dome structure that will be erected. This past Fall a successful IndieGoGo fundraiser was launched to pay for the next stage of construction. Now, the New Alexandrian Library has launched the second phase of their fundraising campaign, $10,500 dollars to pay for the next stage of construction. In a guest post during the last round of fundraising, Michael Smith, an Elder in the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, explained why this initiative is so important.
“The primary aims of the Library are: 1) to secure the resources to ensure the Library is wholly owned and administered by Pagans and contributes to the real-asset community infrastructure; 2) provide ongoing stewardship for our communities’ work and essence; and 3) make the collected materials as convenient as possible for the community to access. Ultimately, the Library will be a resource to support new academic study and research to further develop our community for centuries to come.”
Many of us talk about Pagan infrastructure, but the New Alexandrian Library Project is doing Pagan infrastructure; you can actually see the results of your donations as the first dome rises.
This campaign runs through December 8th, and so far only 7 funders have donated. I think we can collectively do much, much better, especially for a project that will benefit so many of us. Further, all donations are tax deductible, so why not give your taxes a little gift along with building needed Pagan infrastructure?
A Documentary to Awaken the Gods and Goddesses of Brazil: The next project I’d like to endorse is by Layne Redmond, author of “When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm,” who is producing a documentary entitled “Axé Orixá: Dreaming Awake the Gods & Goddesses of Brazil.”
“Axé Orixá (pronounced ashay orishah) is a film of the dance, drumming and chants of the Orixás (Afro-Brazilian gods and goddesses) and how they manifest today through some of Bahia’s greatest musicians and legendary dancers. The film unfolds through dreamlike sequences of music and dance featuring seven of the Orixás delicately linked through the artists’ explanation of their spiritual realities, and how the rituals live on in Brazilian culture today. Axé Orixá enables modern Bahian artists to reimagine their traditions in a uniquely visionary form.”
The campaign has raised nearly $20,000 of its $30,500 goal, and has 23 days to go. A $35 dollar donation gets you (or someone you love) a copy of the completed documentary. In a recent letter to supporters, Redmond made it known that she’s been dealing with several rounds of breast cancer and its treatment, and that finishing this film has taken on a renewed sense of urgency because of this.
“Realizing the film meant something to people, I coudn’t wait to finish the project. But then I found out I had breast cancer. Everything came to a stand still as I went through the first surgery and recovery, and then it came back and I had the second surgery and then it came back again and I had to let go of the project. The hardest thing about having a cancer diagnosis is that you lose your sense of a future, you give up your projects, and you don’t know how much longer you are going to live. In reality we never know how long we are going to live and now that I’ve accepted that and prepared to die, a great weight has lifted from my mind. And on top of it I haven’t died!
In fact I feel great! I started a weight training program in July, along with all my other health regimens and have just gotten stronger and stronger. And then Daniel Sabio showed up, a young computational media student taking a gap year between undergrad and grad school who loved the music I recorded for Axé Orixá and has put his incredible talents and energy behind helping this come into manifestation.”
I think that more documentaries on the African diasporic religions are needed, and one focused on dance and choreography within Candomblé can only help shed more (positive) light on a faith that is still largely unknown by many in the United States. So head over to the campaign page, and check it out!
These are just two great examples of how you could use your money this holiday season to support Pagan infrastructure. In addition, you could also donate to organizations that are doing good work, but may not be running an active campaign right now. Initiatives like Cherry Hill Seminary, who’ve made great strides towards becoming an accredited Pagan learning institution, the Adocentyn Research Library, or Solar Cross Temple. There are a variety of choices before you, some local, some national, some international, but all could use greater support from us. So this holiday season, think about the gifts that could reverberate for generations to come but building our religious and spiritual infrastructure.