Pagan Voices: Kenny Klein, Annie Finch, Jason Miller, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 19, 2013 — 42 Comments

Pagan Voices is a spotlight on recent quotations from figures within the Pagan community. These voices may appear in the burgeoning Pagan media, or from a mainstream outlet, but all showcase our wisdom, thought processes, and evolution in the public eye. Is there a Pagan voice you’d like to see highlighted? Drop me a line with a link to the story, post, or audio.

Joseph Merlin Nichter (aka WitchDoctorJoe)

Joseph Merlin Nichter (aka WitchDoctorJoe)

“The time has come to be more conservative with my resources. Not just with my money, but more importantly, with my time. Because the time has come for high school football games, drivers training, Letterman jackets (two already) and prom dresses. My family has lovingly supported me and my passions for a very long time now, and I owe them a deeper presence in their lives. The time has come to relieve myself of those burdens which I volunteered to carry for others. Now is the time for me to just enjoy being a husband and a father. I’ve earned it and my family deserves it. My motivation for prison chaplaincy has come party from my own experiences of religious discrimination while serving in the military and from wanting to help inmates rehabilitate through spiritual growth. Most inmates incarcerated will be released someday and I felt that I was contributing to the greater good of society by rendering aid.  And I know that to some extent, I have. I keep a box full of letters and post cards in a desk from parolees who continue to update me on how well there doing on the outside and thank me for being there. But now I think the best contribution I can make to this world is through my children. Perhaps when the nest is empty, my idle hands will return to prison chaplaincy, at least until the grand-kids start rolling in (grin). This will most likely be my last post on the topic of Pagan prison chaplaincy for quite some time. But it won’t be my last post, I’m uncertain what I’ll talk about next but I’m sure I’ll find something. Thank you Lord and Lady for Prison: Past Tense.” – Joseph Merlin Nichter, announcing his retirement from active Pagan prison chaplaincy. 

Kenny Klein

Kenny Klein

“In the thirty plus years I have been Pagan, I have always seen the Pagan community struggle to be taken seriously. We want to be counted as a religion. Thanks to Selena Fox, we are able to bury our heroic veterans under a pentacle. We still struggle to be buried ourselves in cemeteries that accept our religions. Many hide in the “broom closet,” afraid of being “out” to family and co-workers, for fear of losing jobs and children. We struggle to be seen as a religious community. But when we arrive late, making the PST excuse, what does this say to the world, the world that we would like to be accepted by? “Hey, we can’t even take OURSELVES seriously enough to be accepted. So why should you?” What about people who are not passive-aggressive, but are just habitually late? Get over it! You represent the Pagan community! Pull yourself together! I know, it is a hallmark of our culture in general that people are rude, late, and self-centered. But as Pagans, shouldn’t we be above that? As people who, after considerable thought, gave up the status quo to pursue our true selves, shouldn’t be be the shining example, not the common problem? I think we should.” – Kenny Klein, expressing his dislike of “Pagan Standard Time.”

Annie Finch

Annie Finch

“Today’s accused “witches” are almost all women, many of them the more outspoken, independent and prosperous women in their communities. Whether victims of simple sexist domination or scapegoats for the old ways in a modernizing society plagued with economic injustice, often they stand for a former way of life, a life more in harmony with nature. Their murder is thus a crime against women and nature, as well as a horrific violation of human rights and religious freedom generally. As a witch, I am passionately committed to working on behalf of justice and safety for contemporary accused witches. And I am also committed to the equally important work of commemorating and remembering those already dead. Such remembrance is crucial for three reasons. It honors the dead. It helps protect against future injustice. And it helps today’s witches — and women in general — to wake up to the living legacy of those events in our own psyches, a first step to healing and recovery.” – Annie Finch, on holding a remembrance for witches.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“There is value in going outside and digging in the dirt.  There is value in going outside and looking up at the sun and moon and stars.  There is value in going outside and watching the squirrels and listening to the birds.  There is value in going outside – are you starting to see a pattern here? – and smelling the flowers, lying in the grass, and hugging the trees.  This can be challenging in the miserable Texas summers… just as it can be challenging in the miserable Minnesota winters.  But when we have a spiritual relationship with Nature, these challenges become something to work with and work around.  When we have a spiritual relationship with Nature, maintaining that relationship becomes more important than constant comfort:  we learn to go walking before dawn, to greet the rising sun before we begin our work day, to speak to the trees as soon as we get home, and to salute the moon before we go to bed. There is no Druid orthodoxy and there is no one right way to honor Nature.  There are many ways – find the one that speaks to your soul.” – John Beckett, from a sermon entitled “The Art of Wild Wisdom.”

Jason Miller

Jason Miller

“It is impossible to be good at everything, so you should definitely not expect to be great at everything. When someone like Fra Ashen creates a tool, it is a masterful and beautiful thing to behold. His work inspires faith and awe because he is not only a first rate magician, but an expert craftsman. Now one could argue that anyone can become a master craftsman with effort and just a little talent, and that may be true, but if that is not your calling you probably won’t want to invest that time. DIY purists will insist that any attempt, even one that winds up looking like my 4 year olds made it, will be better than something someone else has done. I say  POPPYCOCK! Craftsmanship value as much or more than doing it yourself. I have old tools that I made in high school, but I never use them because they look like shit. I would rather buy something nice and consecrate it to the work. In this case the consecration is my contribution to the creation. It is important to keep in mind the difference between competence, mastery, and perfection in a skill and the fact that it is quite desirable to strive for different levels in different things. Most CEO’s are not masters of every aspect of their companies business, but they are competent enough at them to manage those who are.” – Jason Miller, explaining why DIY magic is overrated. 

Erynn Rowan Laurie

Erynn Rowan Laurie

“It’s going to be a test of my ability to find community, as a very introverted person who still loves having a social life. I’ll be starting with the very large disadvantages of a language barrier, knowing nearly no one, and not being able to drive myself anywhere. I’ll admit up front that this is a scary prospect. It can be hard enough for me to talk with someone I don’t know in English, much less trying to open my mouth in a language I know I’m going to slaughter for quite some time. It’s going to be an exercise in letting go and allowing things to happen as they will. And immigrants from time immemorial have had most of these same challenges – language, community, transportation. My own ancestors left their homelands to come to the US, leaving their languages behind and taking a chance to live in a new place and build new communities for themselves. They persevered, they dealt with the challenges, and they made lives for themselves. I have the great advantage of instant international communication to support me, a thing they never had. I will be able to stay in easy touch with friends and family and community here and globally, as I have from the chair I’m sitting in right now for many years. When I’m lonely, there will be someone to reach out to who does speak my language. I’ll have my brother nearby who can help me negotiate a culture that he’s integrated into over the years he’s been in Italy. And I’ll have the gods and spirits to turn to as I learn a new place and a new way of being.” – Erynn Rowan Laurie, on her impending move to Italy.

Ian Corrigan

Ian Corrigan

“We’re trying to build a religion. By ‘we’ I refer to myself and my colleagues in ADF. For the past 30 years we have been researching and designing symbol sets and ritual patterns that provide the framework on which a religion can stand. Our work is proceeding well. We have dozens of local congregations, serving thousands of Pagans across the US. […] If I were to set a primary goal for spiritual practice (and this after long consideration of terms like ‘enlightenment’ and ‘liberation’) I might propose that it should make us happy – or at least happier. Note that here I’m not referring to some mystical adventure goal, of heroic conquest of reality. Rather I’m asking what good should a spiritual practice offer to the non-adventurer, to the “householder”, as they say. Spiritual growth and magical power – those have commonly been the goals of occult spirituality. However any review of the histories of magical arts shows that these goals do not, in themselves, result in happiness for the individual. Happiness for the individual is the common-sense base that seems to me, at least, to be a believable goal of life. As human animals it is our business to enjoy the world we find ourselves in, to learn to understand our bodies and other material things so that we can interact pleasantly and productively, even to apply our imagination and creativity to increase beauty and utility in the world.” – Ian Corrigan, on the primary goal for a spiritual practice.

Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd Wildermuth

“We make much of our desire to re-enchant the world, but do we fully understand how we actively disenchant it? It’s easy to talk of a “them” or a “they,” to speak in deeply esoteric or philosophical terms about how we’ve managed to mess up our ability to see the Other in the world. But I’m gonna suggest we maybe should start by noting not only how we experience disenchantment, but also how we actively do it ourselves. Whether one believes in the real existence of gods and spirits, believes in one well-spring of divine being-ness, believes it’s all beautiful and useful metaphor, or any of the combinations thereof, understanding how we disenchant the earth is vital to understanding our relationship to it. If a forest is just wood, meat, and plants, we’ll treat it as such. If a city is merely crowded dwellings, places to work and to be entertained, we won’t care when whole neighborhoods are gentrified, when cultures and traditions are displaced and destroyed. Actually, disenchantment is precisely the process which makes forests only full of wood, mountains only full of coal and minerals. It’s what turns minority neighborhoods into re-development opportunities, transmutes sites sacred to people into places more valuable for oil or uranium than for the worlds of meaning that have sprung from the soil. Until we understand how we disenchant the world, I don’t think we’ll understand how to re-enchant it, and I think the key to both is understanding how we world the earth.” – Rhyd Wildermuth, on enchantment, disenchantment, and worlding the Earth.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • MadGastronomer

    There’s a term for Kenny Klein’s argument. It’s called “respectability politics”. It means telling the members of a marginalized group that they must act in certain ways in order to be respected by the majority, and blames individual people who do not follow the arguer’s rules for the continued marginalization of the community as a whole. It’s bullshit, and it’s damaging.

    The members of a marginalized group are not responsible for their marginalization. The privileged group that marginalizes them are responsible, with the most responsibility resting on the privileged individuals who actively or passively enact that marginalization (although even privileged people who do not enact it bear some responsibility, because they benefit by their privilege; note the difference between responsibility and blame). It’s victim blaming to attempt to claim that marginalized people are responsible.

    Further, the central argument of respectability politics is demonstrably untrue: Most privileged people will continue to hold onto their stereotypes and preconceptions no matter how many individuals they meet who go against them, and dismiss them as exceptions to the rule. This has been demonstrated again and again in real life. The stereotypes may change over time, but negative stereotypes remain.

    And in this particular case, the argument is especially laughable, since PST is a stereotype that is primarily internal to pagan communities. It’s not well-known by outsiders, and certainly not by those who discriminate against us most. Being on time will make absolutely no difference to the treatment of pagans overall.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

      I don’t insist on rituals starting on time to earn the respect of the majority. I insist on rituals starting on time because what we’re doing in ritual is worthy of respect and deserves to be taken seriously.

      • MadGastronomer

        That, I have no problem with. I’m a perpetually late person, but ritual should start on time, and if I’m late and miss it, and miss the entire thing because there’s no entry after a certain point, then that’s my fault and my problem.

        • Franklin Evans

          Sadly, your self-honest — and eminently courteous — position seems to be an exception. It grieved me to see already sparsely-attended events decline because some people felt entitled to be accomodated in their habitual lateness.

        • Northern_Light_27

          That’s me as well. My habitual lateness is medical, if I have to travel a long way to get to something it seems no matter how many extra hours I build in to what time I get up, something happens medically that I didn’t foresee that makes me late (or makes me a no-show). That’s the unfortunate part of what I have, you never know how bad it’s going to get until the day itself. But if I don’t make it and I miss the ritual, I’m sad but it’s still my fault even if it couldn’t be helped. (The worst is having to pay for something and not know if you can really go, but that too can’t be helped and I guess is my donation to whatever the event is.)

          I’ve noticed that there may be a Pagan standard time but there’s less likely to be a Heathen standard time. If the blot’s late it’s because the kitchen crew was running behind, not because they’re waiting for latecomers!

    • Franklin Evans

      I can accept the view that Klein is basically whining. His tone makes that an easy impression to take. I also fully endorse his view that “it is a hallmark of our culture in general that people are rude, late, and self-centered.” I do not agree that this is any worse (or better) amongst the Pagan sub-cultures.

      I have a simple response to PST that has served me well. It has two requirements: any event for which I have direct responsibility will start at the stated time no matter how many are there for that time; those who arrive late and choose to complain are gently referred to those who did show up on time for their answer. I came upon this rather late — I don’t do events any more, at least not ones of the usual type — but there was a marked increase in on-time numbers after I implemented it.

      The events I do produce are attempts to build a bridge between Pagans and the community-at-large. That they sometimes start late is based on non-human factors like weather and traffic conditions, not on habitual lateness. YMMV.

      • MadGastronomer

        My issue is with the respectability politics, not the idea that ritual should begin on time. And I’m one of the ones who’s always late.

        • Franklin Evans

          I refrained from responding to your main point because I wanted to think about it more before posting.

          I accept the concept of “respectability politics”. I also would like to see a discussion (not demanding one here, just thinking out loud) about the boundaries thereof.

          One thought: Is respectability based on general societal (and secular) norms? I get that anything can be a weapon of oppression, but sometimes it may look that way but not actually be that way intentionally. Is our image with society-at-large based only on their mythic (and propagandized) view of us, or does it have a rational basis?

          I’m not implying an answer there. I do believe there are some things we can do differently in public, that don’t compromise our beliefs or our self-image. I’m conflicted especially by how mainstream media is given a “pass” for certain things, see the recent posts here about the various, recent television shows that feature our culture in some way. I see progress in principle, but I still don’t like it.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I have a problem with the term “respectability politics” because it carries an implicit (negative) judgment. The question of how much a minority should adapt to norms of the larger culture in which it is already the Other, has come up in civil rights and BGLT politics.It can certainly be argued that there’s some surrender of soul. We have gorgeous Afro’s and stunning dashikis in our culture because some African Americans didn’t.But it gets things done. BGLT victories in marriage rights are both product and substance of adapting to a heteronormative practice.

          • MadGastronomer

            “Respectability politics” is a negative term because respectability politics are harmful. Not because adopting the norms of privileged society are necessarily harmful, but because respectability politics attempt to force people to adopt those norms, and because it is victim blaming. Those who choose to conform are welcome to do so (don’t bring up marriage to me, I’m a woman who’s married to a woman, and who worked on her state’s marriage equality campaign), but attempting to force others to do so is damaging and oppressive. Period.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            […R]espectability politics attempt to force people to adopt those normsThis qualifier is important. It does not, eg, apply to marriage equality. The question is, does it apply to Kenny Klein? Is he trying to force us to become punctual, or is he saying he’s fed up with PST and pointing out how it is self-defeating from a PR standpoint?[…I]t is victim blamingThe problem with sliding this into a definition is that it has a potential to silence unilaterally. (Not on TWH, obviously.)

          • MadGastronomer

            “In the thirty plus years I have been Pagan, I have always seen the
            Pagan community struggle to be taken seriously. We want to be counted as
            a religion. Thanks to Selena Fox, we are able to bury our heroic
            veterans under a pentacle. We still struggle to be buried ourselves in
            cemeteries that accept our religions. Many hide in the “broom closet,”
            afraid of being “out” to family and co-workers, for fear of losing jobs
            and children. We struggle to be seen as a religious community. But when
            we arrive late, making the PST excuse, what does this say to the world,
            the world that we would like to be accepted by? “Hey, we can’t even take
            OURSELVES seriously enough to be accepted. So why should you?””

            How in the fuck is that not respectability politics? You can usually excuse it as PR, because that’s how it’s framed: We have to make ourselves look good so They will treat us well. It’s crap. This is classic respectability politics.

            And calling out victim blaming is silencing? Wow. Classic.

          • Northern_Light_27

            Is this post from MadGastronomer? It looks like Disqus is acting up, this appears to be from Baruch replying to Baruch and taking the completely opposite opinion.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            It looks fine when I go to the blog.

          • Franklin Evans

            I get what your point is. I have a sincere sympathy for it. I would, then, wish to point out that your own habitual lateness and how you describe it removes you from the general group to whom Klein is aiming his complaint. Indeed, the people I’ve described or referred to are precisely the people he means, or so I see it.

            I see a huge disconnect here, and that’s the absence of Klein himself from our dialogue here. Only he can offer an answer to your respectability politics point. The rest of us — well, I should only speak for myself — can only offer abstract commentary or rebuttals to your point.

            I’ll repeat that I see Klein’s commentary as whining, or at least taken as whining. I would put it differently (and have done so personally to some Pagans): if your self-respect doesn’t extend to respecting others, and you believe that the organizers of an event (especially a ritual) don’t care about the time they set to start, then yours is an attitude that society-at-large will readily point to as reason enough to not take all of us even a little seriously. Please note my previously stated context: I’m referring to habitually late people who complain that the ritual (or event) started without them.

          • Kenny Klein

            Oh, I’m here.

            Am I whining? Because I see Pagans hearing and repeating an excuse that makes little sense, and is only meant to cover rude behavior? If you read back to my other posts on this server (Pagan Square), I also “whine” about abuse of cliche terms like “Perfect Love and Perfect Trust” by Pagans.

            I hold Pagans to a high standard. Is it because I’m trying to impress non-Pagans? No. I just think Pagans are better than the general populace. Or should be. Do I want Pagan religions to be accepted by the general populace? When my good friend was accused of Satanism during her custody battle, only the judge’s and lawyers’ knowledge of actual Paganism kept her in possession of her kids. When a woman I was involved with was forthcoming in court about being Wiccan, and the judge said “you do not have freedom of religion in MY court room,” I wished we were a little more accepted by the mainstream (that woman lost custody of her two children, by the way). So yes, I want more acceptance by the mainstream in these cases. Until Pagans stop making stupid excuses, and fight for our rights where they actually matter, I’m afraid I’m just going to have to keep whining.

            If you think that people in any community being late, rude and disrespectful is an example of “respectability politics,” maybe my blog is not the problem.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Kenny:I quite understand your pique at PST, if only in that you are a performer and late arrivals at a concert or workshop make for a disruption that is discourteous both to presenter and audience.You point out an area of equal Pagan treatment that hasn’t gotten the attention given to captive-audience chaplaincy and headstones for vets: Custody fights where religion gets dragged in. Unfortunately stuff like that doesn’t get appealed much and so domestic-court judges’ knuckles seldom get properly rapped by a higher bench, even when he or she has been completely biased.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            How in the fuck is that not respectability politics?Because I don’t see him trying to orchestrate anything, whip up a “No to PST” movement.And calling out victim blaming is silencing? Wow. Classic.Another example of attempted silencing.

          • Franklin Evans

            Side note: there’s acronym shift going on, and at least for me it gets confusing.

            I use and understand LGBT (and the additional letters) to refer to the general “alternate sexuality” community, no other qualifiers (like skin color) assumed. The “B” in BGLT was I thought for a specifc sub-group and stands for “Black”, though I’ve seen it used for “Bisexual”. I hope you see why it gets confusing, especially within the context of your post.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I admit I haven’t kept up with this. I use BGLT because it was used for a long time by the Unitarian Universalist Association, in which context I usually discuss such issues. It just rolls off my fingers.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I’ve never heard the “B” used to refer to “Black”. To me, the whole LGBTQQUCITT2SAAPPHO thing is about sexual/gender issues.

          • Franklin Evans

            Could be a local thing, but I did find “Black” in some search results. YMMV. :D

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            There are always variants, I guess. (I don’t often see the 2 used, for example.)

          • MadGastronomer

            Respectability, within the framework of respectability politics, is based on the norms of privileged society.

            It does not matter whether or not something is intentionally being used to oppress, it matters whether or not it actually serves to oppress.

            It does not matter whether or not the stereotypes have any basis in reality. It matters that they are used to discriminate and oppress.

    • Charles Cosimano

      The ones with the privilige are also the ones with the power to keep them marginalized and as long as they have the power they do not need to to care what the marginalized think. It is sufficient to simply ignore them.

      So guess what, you can be marginal and maybe get listened to, a little, by appearing to be respectable, or you can marginal and laughed at. Your choice. But unless you have the power to change it, you stay marginal.

      • MadGastronomer

        History proves pretty conclusively that there are a lot of different ways to get listened to, including being radical, and that ALL of them affect the landscape. It’s fine for people to CHOOSE to be “respectable”. What is emphatically NOT fine is for jerks like you and Klein to tell the rest of us how WE must behave.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          My life experience is that it often helps to have radicals and moderates with the same issues trying to get listened to, the radicals providing a living definition of the principles and the moderates telling the Establishment, “Deal with me or deal with them.” I’ve acted on both ends of that spectrum.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    I heartily agree with what Jason Miller is saying. A well crafted tool is not only more aesthetically pleasing but also far more effective. This is true in the world of physical craftsmanship and is also true in the spiritual world, too.

  • Merlyn7

    I’m not certain Pagan Standard Time is having an effect on how we are perceived by non-Pagans but it does happen to be very annoying.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      I seldom ritual but when I do, I do it according to natural time. If the sun/moon are in the right place, then the show starts.

      • Merlyn7

        That’s perfectly fine if you are doing a solo ritual (which seems to be the case) and rude if you are attending one others have planned.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          Not solo, just organising. (Not always leading, but organising the logistical bits.)

          Kind of difficult for it to be rude if natural time is being used.

          • Merlyn7

            If the group has decided on using a natural timeline then there isn’t really a “late.” If an ogranizer has slated a specific beginning time for an event, then “Late” becomes possible.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I’d say that ‘moonrise’ is pretty specific.

  • Erynn Rowan Laurie

    Jason – I’m surprised I showed up here (from my Italy blog, no less) when so many more important things are happening in the world. Thanks, though. I always appreciate your support and your friendship. Looks like you were right about my going. ;)

  • cernowain greenman

    To Joe, let me say, thank you for your chaplaincy ministry to Pagans in prison. You have
    been an inspiration to many. Blessings on you and upon your family who needs
    you now.

  • cernowain greenman

    On a related note to Kenny’s complaint about disrespect shown through lateness, I also want to chime in on “no shows”. When the people who request leaders to have events, such as regular public Sabbat rituals or workshops on a specific topic, and after asking for these events, then fails to show up, that is also aggravating.

  • Nick Ritter

    I really enjoyed Rhyd Wildermuth’s essay as well as the conversation in the comments. This is the kind of deeper thought that I love to see in Paganism / Polytheism / Heathenry et al.

  • Rhoanna

    I honestly doubt there’s any deeper explanation to pagan’s being late, aka “Pagan Standard Time”. Plenty of people run late, and plenty of them find it acceptable to some aspect of shared culture as the reason. We have “gay standard time”, “Indian time”, “colored people’s time”, “Jewish Standard Time”, and nearly every other subculture imaginable. It’s not anything specific to each of those cultures individually, and I doubt it’s holding us or any of them back in any meaningful way.

    • Franklin Evans

      There is a meaningful point to make, perhaps moreso for the other groups you list: a meeting space costs money, and usually comes with a contracted ending time for the price, meaning that going overtime costs more. In many places, around here it’s true, the best outdoor places at least require a fee for a permit. This also goes to the no-show complaint, and my personal annoyance stems from paying out of my own pocket when I’ve budgeted for 25 or 30 people and their minimal generosity in contributing a couple of dollars each, and typical no-show counts meant up to $50 I had to cover. It’s not the money — I have an excellent day job that pays very well — but the principle of it.

      I never begrudge that cost, personally. It usually comes with easy access — public transit nearby and/or plentiful parking — and is always worth it.

  • http://www.walkofthefallen.com Labrys

    Sadly, I again find myself a minority voice, in that I don’t think a spiritual tradition should NEED to achieve “respectability” to be valid. I am, admittedly, very solitary and hermitic in my own practice and thus somewhat outside some of the arguments. But having witnessed years of rhetoric by pagan writers who seemed to me overly invested in various statements of “Look we are NOT this, we are NOT that, we are just like YOU, only different,” left me cringing from what appeared to be a very damaging religion-value based not-really-peer pressure.

  • Deborah Bender

    I belong to a witchcraft tradition that has been putting on public rituals in parks and hired halls for over forty years. There was a stretch when we habitually operated on PST. This was off-putting to newcomers and disrespectful to the needs of parents with small children and people with medical problems. There was no excuse for this habit, since our group organizes rituals frequently enough for the logistics to be routine.

    We pulled up our socks and collectively decided to reestablish a connection between the announced starting time and the actual starting time. What we wound up doing is to include in our publicity both a “gathering time” and a “ritual starts” time (usually one half hour later). The ritual leader sees to it that the ritual actually begins no later than fifteen minutes after the announced starting time. Latecomers are usually allowed to join the circle after it is cast; when that would be a problem, the announcement warns everyone in advance that the circle will be closed to latecomers.