Archives For magazines

Recently, the magazine Witches & Pagans, a print periodical that has served the Pagan community for many years (albeit under a different name), added the feed for this site (with my permission) to their website. I see this as somewhat momentous, as it cements, at least in my mind, the new normal of Pagan-oriented media in the 21st century. There will always be a place for print magazines and journals in our community, see newer efforts like Modern Witch Magazine or Abraxas as proof, but of-the-moment breaking news and updates on developing stories has moved to the Internet. This isn’t a criticism of magazines, simply a statement that our strengths lie in different directions. Today, a large percentage of Pagans find out about what’s happening regarding their co-religionists online, either from blogs like mine, or on email lists and social networking sites.

This rapid change in the way we get our news has happened in less than a decade. When I started The Wild Hunt in 2004 there were only a handful of Pagan blogs, and most of them were more personal journals than news sources. While message boards and e-mail lists had been a growing source of news-sharing for years (not to mention the amazing Witches’ Voice), periodicals still acted as the official “record” of our community, a hold-over from a earlier time when that form of media was truly the only way Pagans in California could find out what was happening in New York (and vice versa). While a lot of attention has been paid to the magazine Green Egg’s important role in our community, it should be noted that they didn’t exist in a vacuum. It was preceded by small newsletters like The Pentagram and The Waxing Moon (publicized in magazines like Fate), and by the 1970s, Green Egg co-existed with Llewellyn’s Gnostica and Herman Slater’s Earth Religion News.

Earth Religion News (1974)

Earth Religion News (1974)

For a blast from the past, you can read the entirety of volume 1, issue 4 of Earth Religion News, here. In it are articles like “Wither Witchcraft? Spiritual Leadership or Oblivion,” “My Satanic Adventures” (by Isaac Bonewits), a report on the (short-lived) California Pagan Council (an anti-sexual discrimination stand was on the agenda), and book reviews (because all Pagan magazines are contractually required to include a book review section). It’s the next best thing to time-travel in finding out what Pagans were thinking, fighting over, and planning a generation ago, without the filter of hindsight or revisionism.

While I think that Pagan media has only gotten better and better, creating a culture of news, interview, and commentary that is surprisingly mature for a community that is still as (relatively) small as we are, we must also ensure that this treasure-trove of knowledge, this archive of our own history, is not lost. There should be a digital indexed archive of these periodicals, one easily accessible to scholars, historians, and curious members of the Pagan community. We’re lucky in that magazines like PanGaia (the precursor to Witches & Pagans) have made digital versions of their entire run available for purchase, but there are huge gaps with the older magazines. As the creators of these magazines age, and pass on, it becomes harder and harder to create such an archive.

I’m hoping that as initiatives like the New Alexandrian Library Project and the OHF Pagan Library mature, perhaps a joint initiative between Pagan organizations and learning institutions can be created to make real headway on this before the task becomes insurmountable. Likewise, I think that those of us creating news and media now should look to how will will archive and make accessible our own work for future generations. There should be an agreed-on standard for how we’ll do this, and how we’ll make it available to researchers. Things are moving pretty fast, and what form our media will take in 20 years may be radically different from how we consume it now. These proposals may seem like huge tasks, but the longer we wait, the more we risk losing. How Pagans get their news, and what news they feel is important is a vital window into how a community, a movement, functions. As Pagans, we know that preserving our history is important, let’s not lose sight of that.

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note series, more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

Vivianne Crowley joins Cherry Hill Seminary: Pagan author, former Pagan Federation secretary, and Jungian psychologist Vivianne Crowley has joined the faculty of Cherry Hill Seminary, a distance education institution for professional Pagan ministry. In a recent news update sent to supporters of Cherry Hill, Crowley, the author of works like “Wicca: A Comprehensive Guide to the Old Religion in the Modern World,” expressed excitement at joining CHS.

“I am excited about teaching for the first time Master’s level programmes with groups of Pagan students. I hope that the programmes that I teach at Cherry Hill will help students to deepen their understanding of religious practice and the dynamics that influence Pagan groups. Psychology of Religion is an important discipline for religious leaders and clergy of all faiths in understanding their own spiritual journey and that of those whom they serve, and the issues of Death and Dying are some of the most sensitive and important that we care called upon to deal with in our ministry.”

You can read more from Crowley about joining CHS, here. Vivianne Crowley will be teaching the class “Call of the Dark Mother” with Jennifer Bennett for the Fall semester. Congratulations to both Crowley and CHS!

The Rise of Óðrœrir: A new journal of interest to Pagans, particularly Heathen reconstructionists, has just launched. Óðrœrir” is “a fully downloadable journal dedicated to developing, fostering, and distributing scholastic literature solely regarding the reconstruction of the various pre-Christian religious traditions and cultures of Northern Europe.”

“It is our firm belief that while much of these traditions are completely viable in a modern setting, understanding and implementing them must be achieved through a thorough understanding of their original context.  We also believe that there is too much literature available that falls very short of this mark.  Thus,Óðrœrir is intended to serve as a bastion of literature that is evidence based and consistent with modern standards of academic accuracy and quality.  Articles are peer reviewed by a board ranging of individuals with over forty years of experience in reconstructing “heathen” traditions, to scholars who are currently leaders in the fields of Old Nordic Religion, and Old Nordic Culture.  It is our hope that with these high standards, and with the range of experience that exists on our board, that Óðrœrir will be able to bridge the gap between scholastic wisdom of ancient heathen traditions and the implementation and practice of ongoing ones today.”

The first issue is available for download now, featuring articles on the state of modern Heathenry, reconstructionism in modern Heathenry, Frankish Heathenry and more. You can also network with the creators at the journal’s Facebook page.

PNC-Minnesota Rolls Out Sacred Harvest Festival Coverage: The week-long Sacred Harvest Festival in Minnesota has just wrapped up, and PNC-Minnesota has begun posting personal reflections and reactions from attendees. However, my favorite thing so far from them is this picture of the founding coordinators of PNC-Minnesota: Heather Biedermann, Nels Linde, and Cara Schulz.

As a co-founder of the Pagan Newswire Collective, just knowing that there are a mixture of citizen and professional Pagan journalists starting to take an active interest in covering what happens in our community gives me hope for our collective future. Good job folks, this is only the beginning! Keep an eye on PNC-Minnesota for more Sacred Harvest Festival coverage rolling out this week.

Spirit of Albion Update: The upcoming independent film The Spirit of Albion, a story inspired by the music of Damh the Bard, has just posted its latest production diary.

You can follow Damh’s Bardic blog for updates, as well as the movie’s Facebook page.

Brendan Myers on Pagan Existentialism: Here at Patheos, Star Foster interviews author Brendan Myers about his most recent book “Loneliness and Revelation: A Study of the Sacred,” existentialism, and the value of suffering within modern Paganism.

“I think that any worldview that might deny, or ignore, the suffering and oppression in the world is profoundly immature and unrealistic. Thus if the pagan movement is a mature one, its question is not whether the acknowledgement of human suffering has value, but rather the question concerns what that value is. In the Christian worldview, the notion of Original Sin, and the crucifixion of Christ, put suffering at the very center of the Christian story. Christians, I am sure, would add that the resurrection is equally important. To this I would only comment that Pagans have a fine collection of dying and resurrecting gods who can act as our role models in our own struggles with the “negative.” Mithras, Osiris, Adonis, come to mind as examples, as well as any number of heroes who made an underworld journey, such as Inanna, Persephone, and Orpheus.”

For more on Myers’ work, check out the guest-post he did for this blog last year that touches on some of the same themes.

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

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note series, more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

Top Story: Pagan chaplain and activist Patrick McCollum has recently returned from the first International Conference on Transforming Conflict in Amman, Jordan. The event centered on dialogues with youth and adults from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and other countries, for which McCollum served as a speaker and facilitator. “It is clear to me that the younger generation in particular, has a clearer vision of what it means to be a global citizen, and it is this shift, in my opinion, that gives us hope for a better future” said McCollum, praising the Arab and Israeli youth who attended the conference. During the conference McCollum also met and spoke with Sharif Zeid Bin Hussein, the cousin of King Hussein the II, and former Jordanian Prime Minster Taher Nashat al-Masri.

Patrick McCollum with Taher al-Masri

“His Excellency was very gracious in his invitation to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed our discussions. Over the course of the evening, we touched on US-Arab relations, the Palestinian–Israeli conflict, the part youth has played in the Arab Spring revolutions and beyond, and new ways to move forward toward peace.”

In addition to his work at the conference, McCollum also met with local Bedouins, and visited the famous sacred sites Petra, Mt. Nebo, and one of the possible sites of Jesus’s baptism by John. In summing up his trip and experiences, McCollum said that “it is clear to me that I will return once again to the Middle East, not only to Jordan, but also to visit Palestine and Israel. And I look forward to once again to be present in the company of the many new friends I’ve made in each of these countries. I firmly believe that drawing on the touchstone of our common humanity, rather than focusing on the age-old narrative of our geographical and cultural differences, is the key to world peace.” The Patrick McCollum Foundation blog is now posting his daily thoughts from the trip if you’d like to know more about his experiences in Jordan, and the work of the conference.

In Other News:

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

 

Just a few quick news notes for you on this Thursday.

COG Local Council Protests Go Daddy: The Dogwood Local Council of Covenant of the Goddess (COG), a regional body that serves Witches and Wiccans living in Georgia and Alabama, have sent out an announcement that they have stopped using the Internet domain service Go Daddy and are joining an ongoing protest that stems from company CEO Bob Parsons shooting and killing an elephant in Zimbabwe.

“We understand that Parsons’ acts were within the legal limits of Zimbabwe’s laws. And he may believe that he is doing good. However, the ends do not always justify the means. After careful consideration, we, as Witches and members of humanity, have decided to protest these killings,” states Hawk, First Officer of Dogwood Local Council and High Priestess of GryphonSong Clan […] “While we do not want to see humans starving as a result of these roving elephants, we cannot condone the progressive annihilation of a species simply because they are in our way. And the African Elephant is still on the WWF endangered species list.”

Parsons has repeatedly defended his actions as humanitarian in nature, criticizing his critics as unwilling “to step up and do anything,” saying they are “all talk and no walk.” Vanity Fair notes that Parsons seemingly failed to realize that the “heroism of rich white men shooting elephants” has long ago fell out of fashion. As for Dogwood’s protest, it remains to be seen if the rest of COG, or other Pagan organizations, will follow suit.

The Wicker Tree Will Be Coming to America: Fangoria reports that “The Wicker Tree”, the forthcoming companion film to the classic 1973 Pagan-themed horror film “The Wicker Man,” has been picked up by Anchor Bay Entertainment for distribution, and that the film will be screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

“Fango has learned that writer/director Robin Hardy’s THE WICKER TREE—the British helmer’s semi-sequel to his 1973 classic THE WICKER MAN—has been picked up for distribution in North America and the UK, as early as this fall. The film’s international sales agent, High Point Media Group, will screen THE WICKER TREE at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival on May 14 and 16. Anchor Bay Entertainment will release THE WICKER TREE, described as a “companion piece” to the original film and based on Hardy’s 2006 novel COWBOYS FOR CHRIST (the initial title for the follow-up movie, previously attempted and scuttled a few years ago), which takes place 40 years after the events of the previous film.”

So we could be seeing this film in theaters this fall! Maybe just in time for Samhain? We’ll keep you posted. You can read all of my “Wicker Tree” coverage, here.

New Orleans Voodoo and Hoodoo Gets a Magazine: New Orleans Voodoo Examiner Denise Alvarado brings our attention to a new quarterly magazine entitled Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly.

“Recognizing the resurgence of folk magic and the growing community of hoodoos, rootworkers, and spiritualists, Planet Voodoo has created a new, high quality journal that meets the needs of today’s conjurers and curious. Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly (HCQ) journal is the first publication of its kind that focuses on New Orleans Voodoo and hoodoo and related African derived traditions. It shares historical and contemporary information about aspects of the conjure arts, including magico-religious practices, spiritual traditions, folk magic, southern hoodoo, and religions with their roots in the African Diaspora and indigenous herbalism. Each issue of Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly brings you original and traditional formulas, spells, tutorials, root doctor, spiritual mother, and conjure artist profiles, information about New Orleans Voodoo and more!”

The periodical was created by Alvarado and her business partner Sharon Marino. The first issue came out in March, is in full color, and is 100+ pages long. If you want order a copy, please visit Planet Voodoo.

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note, a series more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

Scarlet Imprint Declares War: The esoteric publishing house Scarlet Imprint, after learning of the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, has thrown down the magickal gauntlet.

“It is not enough to dither or ask What would Aleister Crowley do? We are here NOW. It is for us to confront this direct attack on our freedom. This is a critical time, and magick, if it is to prove anything at all, is the art of applying leverage at critical moments in time, as the Temple of Psychic Youth would say: To force thee hand of chance. […] We will use our art to envisage a different future. We will take magic onto the streets. We swear vengeance. And we, we are Legion.”

The publisher also suggests closing your Amazon account (because they closed Wikileak’s hosting account), closing your Mastercard and Visa account (because they froze donations to Wikileaks), and supporting the hacker attacks of Anonymous. However, they don’t suggest cancelling your Paypal account, nor have they closed theirs, even though that site has also frozen donations to Wikileaks. Then again, they also stress that the most important action is to “enchant for freedom.”

“This is a time for Witchcraft, for the birth of a rhizomatic underground of resistance. This is the Witchcraft advocated by Jack Parsons in the face of McCarthyism. This is the Witchcraft that has drunk wisdom from the bloody grail of mystery.”

The problem with all the outrage, media blitz, and no-doubt politically motivated pressure to have Assange extradited is that it is causing some reasonable people to whitewash what might have actually been rapeEngaging in some troubling victim-blaming. Perhaps these accusations are being overblown, or used as a way to “get Assange,” but they shouldn’t be erased because we support the leaking of government documents. As for Wikileaks itself, I’m generally a fan of transparency and whistle-blowers, and I’m even a fan of occasionally “crushing bastards,” but I’m not sure I’m ready to swear vengeance on its behalf just yet.

Pulling the Trigger: LAShTal points us to the launch of Trigger93: A Journal of Magic(k), Culture, and The Issues.

“Trigger93 is a radical new journal of literature, art, and the uncanny—a journal that juxtaposes magic(k)ally informed works created by established artists and academics with similar works created by established practitioners of magic(k). Our first issue, The Word, explores the relationship between language and the spirit, and includes contributions from writer and Columbia Professor, Michael Taussig; ceremonial magician, James A. Eshelman; artists Simryn Gill, Mikala Dwyer and Tamara Wyndham; and cartoonist, Seth Tobocman, to name a few. Trigger93: The Word will be available 12/17/10″

You can pre-order your copy now. Always nice to see a new esoteric/magickal publication hitting the “stands”.

The Difference Between Scholars and Practitioners: Over at Letter From Hardscrabble Creek, Chas Clifton talks about being a Pagan within Pagan Studies, and how what religion scholars do is very different from what practitioners writing for their own communities do.

So if I were revising Her Hidden Children (I have no plan to do so), I would have to take [Bron Taylor’s] ideas into account. The conversation would continue. Not that I am right and he is wrong, or vice versa, but I would have to sort out the differences and similarities, intellectual influences (e.g., he gives Henry Thoreau much more space than I do), and so on, because I think that Dark Green Religion is a significant book, and it would be a glaring omission to ignore it now.

These are just two books, against the flood of practitioner-oriented texts coming out from Llewellyn and other publishers.  And neither I nor Bron (so far as I know) are teaching workshops on “How to be a better nature-religionist,” complete with breathing exercises, movement, and song. Other people could do that much better. Audiences want to hear a speaker with a schtick.

I think some of us have fallen into the trap of labeling Pagan Studies works as “advanced” books for our faiths, when they should instead be seen as an illuminating aid towards deeper understanding of how and why we do what we do. How we got to where we are today, and what that might mean for our future. This should be separated from books that actually seek to deepen our own practices, works on practice and theology from authors like Brendan Myers or Thorn Coyle.

King Arthur Wants Reburial: The Salisbury Journal reports that Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon is seeking judicial review and reburial of cremated remains taken from Stonehenge in 2008.

King Arthur said: ‘This is not just a Druid or Pagan issue, and we have the support of thousands of people from all walks of life from nations around the world and all the major faiths, who have signed our petition demanding that the remains be re-interred at what should have been their final resting place. ‘The remains will never go on display and they should just be reburied.’ The remains were removed from the site for tests to be carried out as part of The Stonehenge Riverside Archaeological Project.

This move was sparked by Sheffield University asking for an extension to retain the remains for five years, something Pendragon vociferously opposes, calling for the “timely return of our ancestors.” As I’ve noted several times before on this site, there is no consensus among British Pagans on this issue, with many, most notably Pagans for Archeology, opposed to the reburial of ancient human remains. Other groups, like Honouring the Ancient Dead (HAD), only call for the reburial of remains that “have no scientific or research potential”.

Reminder on Operation Circle Care: I’d just like to end with a quick reminder that it’s not too late to donate towards Operation Circle Care, which sends care packages to Pagan military personnel serving in war zones.

“For the fourth year in a row, Circle Sanctuary is honoring and supporting active duty Pagan service members through Operation Circle Care. This year, we are widening our focus and sending Yuletide care packages to active duty Pagan troops serving in any overseas theater of operation, including Germany, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, or on board Navy ships. The success of this program is due to the generous support and donations from Pagan community members from many paths and places. With your continued support, it is our goal to honor and remember each and every Pagan US military service member we can with a special personalized gift for Yule, just as we have in years past.”

You can find a list of donation suggestions, and ways to help, at their web site.

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

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note, a new series more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

ADF Military Fundraiser: Three ADF groves, CedarLight Grove of Maryland, Three Cranes Grove of Ohio, and Sassafras Grove of Pennsylvania, have banded together for a Lughnasadh charity event to send care packages to Pagan military personnel serving overseas.

“For our Lughnasadh Charity event (I know, we are preparing early), CedarLight Grove will be sending care packages to our overseas pagan military thanks to Operation Circle Care of the Circle Sanctuary. Three Cranes Grove of Ohio and Sassafras Grove of Pennsylvania have also joined in the effort to make this a multi-Grove of ADF charity event!”

The event page has a list of the type of items they will be collecting. The items collected will be charged at their Lughnasadh High Rite before being assembled into packages and shipped out. For those not near any of those groves, you can always donate directly to Operation Circle Care.

Rolling Coin Ritual for Isaac Bonewits: Pagan author and elder Isaac Bonewits, currently in hospice care due to cancer, is having trouble keeping up with the large medical bills associated with his treatment. So the folks who organized a massive healing ritual for Isaac in May are now putting together a “rolling coin” ritual for July 26th.

“Isaac felt the energy we generated in May. And he sends his thanks. That was aRolling Thunder Ritual. Now we’re looking for a Rolling Coin Ritual. Medical bills date back to the fall. Since then Isaac has been in and out of the hospital with numerous surgeries and procedures. All of this has cost money, and theirs is beyond used up. So we’re trying a new twist on an old theme.
The next full moon is July 26. Any time that day or night, please go to Isaac and Phaedra’s website and make a donation. This is a simple kind of magick, and it is something that will make a major difference in their lives. Any donation of any amount will be gratefully appreciated. It’s away of paying tribute to one of our most significant Pagan elders.”

Anyone who’s dealt with cancer, or with any serious illness, without the benefit of insurance, or with insurance that wouldn’t cover all the treatment, knows how stressful an issue money can be. Blessings to those organizing this fundraiser for Isaac and Phaedra. For updates on Isaac’s health, please check out his Facebook fan page.

Michigan Metaphysical Shop in Danger: The Triple Goddess Bookstore in Okemos, Michigan (near Lansing), in business for 17 years, is in danger of being closed down due to the property being in foreclosure.

“Triple Goddess bookstore’s and the Traveler’s Club property is in foreclosure. We are trying to convince the bank and the township to save the historic corner and it’s buildings. There are people who do not have the money to purchase the properties out-right but are interested in helping to turn the businesses into profitable ones. What we need is support, and lots of it! I will be at the bookstore this Saturday with a petition for people to sign. We are also hoping to have a HUGE turnout for the event on August 7th to show the bank and the community our support.”

An all-day rally in support of the shop is being held on August 7th. Whether that can convince the bank to hold off on selling the property, or spur local politicians into action, remains to be seen. One wonders how many other shops like this are in danger of going out of business due to their property going “underwater” or into foreclosure.

SJ Tucker on Making Mischief: As I mentioned in my last community notes post, Pagan musician SJ Tucker has released a new album, entitled “Mischief”, on July 16th. For those who wanted a little more background, she has shot a promotional video talking about the process of making the album.

Tucker is currently on tour, and you can find a schedule of upcoming dates, here.

Witches & Pagans Watch: The latest issue of Witches and Pagans magazine is now out.

This issue is chock full of spellwork, practical advice, and ideas for all things green, growing, and magickal. Headlines by “the Garden Witch” Ellen Dugan, this edition is our greenest ever; from Pagan permaculture to gardening with the Elements, plus hardcore money magick, Wandering Witch goes the New Orleans, a look a Pagan metal rockers Icarus Witch and much, much more!

For those who don’t subscribe to the magazine, you can purchase a PDF version of the magazine at the site. This issue sees the premier of fellow Pagan blogger Ruby Sara, who recently did a guest column for The Wild Hunt, as a regular columnist for the magazine ( along with author Deborah Blake). Congratulations to Ruby!  I’m sure she’ll be a welcome addition to their pages.

That’s all I have for now, and remember, if your group or organization is doing something noteworthy, why not pass that information along? Have a great day!

UK women’s magazine Fabulous (a News of the World production) lets us know that Kabbalah (of the Madonna-practicing variety) is so out, and that “kooky, sexy, cool” Paganism is the “hot new religion”.

“Welcome to the world of paganism. Walk into any high-street bookshop and, alongside the usual chick-lit best-sellers, there’s another set of books flying off the shelves, all about how to find your inner witch. Yes, really. Hot on the heels of best-selling vampire saga Twilight and new US drama Eastwick, it seems all things weird are wonderful. Pagan culture has arrived in the 21st century – and young women are behind its growing popularity. Intrigued by its mystery and underlying sexuality, 20-somethings are converting in their droves, making paganism the UK’s fastest growing religion. According to the Office of National Statistics, there were 31,000 pagans living in the UK in 2001. Just eight years later, the Pagan Federation estimates there are now around 360,000.”

Fabulous goes on to interview three women (a Wiccan, a Celtic Pagan, and a practitioner of Vodou) about why they left more mainstream expression of religion for these “hot” belief systems, and they even interview “kooky, sexy, cool” British historian Ronald Hutton on why younger women are attracted to Pagan religions.

“As women become more empowered in their relationships and careers, they’ve begun to look for a set of beliefs that reflects this,” he says. “In paganism, women are given an equal role to men – and in some branches, they’re actually dominant. Women want a religion that empowers them.”

It is certainly true that young women in the UK are abandoning Christianity at a impressive rate, and that many of them are turning to Wicca and other forms of modern Paganism, but we’ll have to wait till the next census to see if modern Paganism is really the fastest-growing religon in Britain. In the meantime, we can all be assured that our faiths are the in thing to be, at least according to Fabulous magazine.

Anyone who has read my blog knows that I’m concerned with the health of Pagan-run/owned media and the state of journalism within our communities. For some time I’ve wanted to take what I’ve been doing with The Wild Hunt, observing and reporting on the news affecting our communities, to the “next level,” whatever that might mean. With the recent merger of newWitch and PanGaia into Witches & Pagans, the decision of Thorn Magazine to go online-only after their next issue, and the folding of Modern Witch Magazine, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. While blogs and podcasts seem ever more popular in our communities, perhaps unsurprising considering our penchant for individualism, print periodicals seem to be in drastic contraction. Meanwhile, Internet-only Pagan publications don’t seem to be doing much better, often suffering from a lack of regular high-quality content, virtually nonexistent revenue streams, and an all-volunteer staff juggling their jobs and lives with the demands of editing content and putting out quality products on a regular schedule.

This isn’t to say that Pagan-run media is uniquely in trouble. Our microcosm mirrors the painful changes the mainstream media is going through as they try to navigate a severe recession and a shift towards making new media journalism pay. However, our (relatively) small size does allow us some opportunities to collaborate and evolve into this changing market. I’d like to introduce a new venture that I hope will not only spark a renaissance in Pagan journalism, but also create the needed synergy to allow existing and forthcoming Pagan media outlets to thrive in an emerging world of hyperlocal news and “hyperdistribution”.

The Pagan Newswire Collective is an open collective of Pagan journalists, newsmakers, media liaisons, and writers who are interested in sharing and promoting primary-source reporting from within our interconnected communities. The idea is simple: a pool of journalists and writers within the collective share sources and collaborate on dynamic and timely stories of interest to the Pagan community; media liaisons from various Pagan organizations pass along news and current events for possible coverage; editors, bloggers, podcasters, and other media outlets can call for submissions, collaborate with the collective, and negotiate with individual writer(s) to distribute finished product. All work created from within the collective remains the property of those who produced it, and it can be distributed in any number of ways, from Creative Commons to more traditional arrangements with various periodicals.

The variety of possible coverage models are endless, from syndicated multimedia packages for large events, to local beat-reporting when “hot” stories emerge in local Pagan communities, to “evergreen” human interest stories suitable for periodicals that publish infrequently. In short, we hope to become the “Pagan Reuters”, as Yvonne Aburrow put it.

Since we are brand new, we are looking for Pagans and like-minded allies, especially those with writing or journalism experience, to join our collective. If you use Facebook, you can join our official Facebook group, or join our mailing list at Google Groups. Here’s to building a better Pagan media.

(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 20, 2009 — 4 Comments

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.

Our top story concerns a messy divorce, accusations of abuse and child-porn, and the practice of “Wiccanism”. Scott Starnes is being accused by his wife Christine of “using her and the children without their knowledge or consent.” In addition, there seems to be allegations that this is all tied into the practice of Witchcraft somehow.

“Investigators said that Christine Starnes also reported that her husband was studying witchcraft. A Williamston police sergeant confirmed through investigating e-mails and Web sites that Scott Starnes had enrolled in school of witchcraft and had been looking up information on how to cast spells, do evil and “banish a troublesome person.” But there are no charges in connection to any of the witchcraft-related activities, and no immediate indication that any of Starnes’ witchcraft-related interests were in any way illegal.”

After a month-long investigation, child-porn images were found on his computer, though reports of abusive behavior were inconclusive. The police are currently examining the computer for further evidence. According to John Newkirk, Scott Starnes’ lawyer, he is innocent of all charges and this is merely fall-out from messy divorce proceedings. Then again, lawyers are paid very well to say things like that. I would have no trouble writing off Mr. Starnes completely as sick individual if it weren’t for the eagerness of Mrs. Starnes and the police (you can see the list of witchcraft-related items confiscated during the investigation) in dragging the Witchcraft element into this. I’ll be paying close attention to the trial, and the forensic investigation results of the computer, with great interest.

Wiccan comic-book artist Holly G participated in a recent panel at Chicago’s Comic-Con concerning religious themes in comic books. She was joined by two Christians and one agnostic who were also involved in the comics industry. It seems that everyone got along just fine despite the theological differences.

“Remarkably, there were no fights or bitter accusations flung across the table, but rather a unified sense of pride and communion as storytellers focus on spirituality in their work, whether it’s of a religious or metaphysical nature … The panelists were then challenged about their methods of handling faith in their own stories. While the witch talked of unwittingly (and unwillingly) gaining obedient converts through her pagan comics, the pro-life Christian Tennapel talked about the great fulfillment of winning over non-believers. He went on to talk about his most filthy comic, “Black Cherry”, a rated-R mafia, demon story that he billed as his “most religious” book and the most successful among non-believers. The non-Christian audience was drawn to it, he suggested, because of its richly dark, demonic story, but in the process of believing in the tale, were forced to believe in the Christian hierarchy of metaphysical beings. In a sense, this is Tennapel’s way of evangelizing.”

So Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose is gaining us converts? I’m not sure how I feel about that. To see why, you might want to check out some of my previous coverage concerning the intersections between well-known modern Pagans and this not-safe-for-work cheesecake comic.

As plastic “shamans” and various New Age seekers continue to abuse the trust of Native American spiritual leaders, more tribes decide that the best recourse is to shut out all outsiders. That is the case with the Hopi, who have decided to close their annual Hopi Snake Dance to outsiders due to illegal photography and a lack of respect.

“The traditional Hopi Snake Dance, part of an elaborate dayslong ceremony in which tribal members pray for rain, is closed to non-American Indians this year. Mishongnovi village administrator Robert Mahkewa Jr. says illegal photography and a lack of respect for the traditions and ceremonial practices led to the decision to bar non-Indians from this weekend’s event.”

In addition, an editorial from The Native Sun News urges all tribes to restrict access to their ceremonies, saying that the era of outsiders cashing in on their religious practices must come to an end. It truly is a shame that a small population of self-absorbed seekers and con-artists are so damaging relations between Natives and non-Native peoples.

The Washington Post looks at the efforts of Nick Nefedro and the ACLU to overturn a law barring fortune-telling in Montgomery County, Maryland. But unlike previous successful efforts to overturn such bans, Nefedro (a self-described gypsy) isn’t claiming a religious reason that the law should be overturned, a fact that is making local authorities confident they’ll withstand a lawsuit.

“I don’t think it’s strange for us to have laws that protect against fraud,” said Clifford Royalty, zoning division chief in the Montgomery County attorney’s office, adding that “religion has nothing to do with it. He’s not made that allegation in the lawsuit.” “The practice is fraudulent,” Royalty said, “because no one can forecast the future.”

While I wish Mr. Nefedro every success in getting this antiquated law stricken from the books, I think the ACLU should have explored getting a local Pagan involved so that they could bring the religious aspect of these laws into the proceedings. For all of my past coverage of anti-psychic/fortune-telling laws click, here.

In regards to my ongoing look at Pagan periodicals, you might be interested to read this report from the Philadelphia Inquirer on how several smaller religiously-oriented newspapers and newsletters are also falling on hard times.

“They land politely – in mailboxes, not driveways – and deliver their good news gently. “Relics blessed in advance of tour.” “Young Israelis at Medford Camps.” “Our Lady of Pompeii Church Celebrates 100 Years.” “Local Concert Raises $2,600 for Mitzvah Food Project.” But with advertising revenues in decline, these are challenging times for some local religious newspapers – and perhaps the end times for one.”

When pundits and anylists talk about the hard times falling on newspapers and magazines, smaller niche-oriented publications like these are often overlooked. But we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of these journalistic undergrounds for gestating and investigating the stories that eventually become “big news”.

In a final note, the snarky political blog Wonkette rightly mocks the absurd and un-sourced rumours among right-wing blogs that Michelle Obama’s mother participates in Santeria rituals.

“Apparently Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama’s mother, performs Satanic “Afro-Hispanic” witchcraft rituals, in the White House. Barack Obama is piping mad, because how would this affect his IMAGE? Poorly! This story and all of its quotes are true. Jane Mayer of the New Yorker is one helluva reporter and would never make up something this incendiary. Oh… what is that, Intern Riley?… It’s from Townhall, not Jane Mayer of the New Yorker?… THEN IT’S EVEN TRUER.”

I guess when all else fails, when being called a Nazi doesn’t hold water, you can always accuse the women of practicing witchcraft. Somehow I don’t think this is what right-wing thinkers mean when they talk of holding onto “traditional values”.

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

Even though Newsweek claims we are no longer a Christian nation (we are apparently all “Hindus” now), it seems like the Pagan press hasn’t gained much benefit from the rising tide of “spiritual but not religious” folks who believe in reincarnation and that there are many paths to religious truth. After the recent merger of PanGaia and newWitch into Witches & Pagans, and the announcement of Thorn magazine ceasing their print edition, I decided to take the temperature of various Pagan periodicals and the resulting picture is rather grim. Of the 32 periodicals listed at the Witches’ Voice, only a handful seem to still be active, operating on a regular publishing schedule, and dealing primarily with Pagan subject matter. Modern Witch Magazine is “out of publication” after one year and three issues, Witch Eye: A Journal of Feri Uprising promises to return in 2009, but the clock is quickly running out for that deadline, and the two best-known Pagan newspapers PagaNet and Widdershins have been out of commission for years.

When you factor in publications that actually have a national or international reach that small grouping of surviving publications becomes even smaller. And the ones that do survive seem to focus less and less on news and current events and more and more on “evergreen” content suitable for journals that come out only two or four times per year. Perhaps Jack Lux and Michael Night Sky are correct when they asserted in the latest issue of Thorn magazine that Pagan periodicals in their current state can no longer act as a functioning news organ for the modern Pagan movement.

“…the purpose of a magazine changes to suit its audience, and Pagan journalism may be fixating on a role for which it is no longer useful … perhaps the most useful goal of Pagan publications is no longer to disseminate information about outer limits, but to delve deeper into the ideas of the past forty years and fill the gaps between them. With the Internet and the growing festival network, magazines are best suited not for community building, but for culture building.”

As if to confirm the idea of a shift toward culture-building within our publications, Treadwell’s bookstore and Fulgur have announced the launch a new journal of occultism entitled Abraxas. Scholarly and cultured, printed in a limited edition, it is marketed almost as a collectible art-object rather than a “zine” to thumbed through at your local newsstand.

“Nearly all the material is published for the first time. Here may be found inspiring essays from luminaries within the esoteric community, many of them written especially for the journal. Artists too are well represented, both established masters and emerging talents: a feast for the eyes and soul. Our poets include Allyson Shaw, Zachary Cox and, from beyond the veil, Aleister Crowley, whose evocative verse ‘Babalon’ finally finds itself in print more than sixty years after it was written. Produced in a large quarto format, with 128 pages printed on high quality paper and richly illustrated in colour and monochrome, we hope Abraxas will offer you a strange mirror through which may be glimpsed the zeitgeist of the global occult community today.”

I’m not singling out Abraxas for any sort of criticism, it looks very lovely and inviting indeed, but to point to what might be needed to succeed today in a contracted world of niche publishing.

So where does that leave Pagan news and Pagan journalism? It seems almost solely in hands of bloggers, podcasters, and e-zine editors. While there are several excellent places online where you can find news and incisive editorial aimed at a Pagan audience, a large number of Internet publications seem to mimic the world of print, publishing sporadically and sticking to think-pieces, rants, and lighter fare. This leaves Pagan journalism in a precarious position, one that could cast us back to a place where dissemination of news to our communities becomes increasingly haphazard, prone to errors, and one-sided. A place where rumor and baseless speculation runs rampant. A place where mainstream journalism defines almost unilaterally who and what is newsworthy within the world of modern Paganism.

We need to start having serious conversations about how Pagan news is created and disseminated. We need to ask how well our surviving print publications are serving us, and, if Internet publications are indeed the future of Pagan journalism, how they can become more stable, sustainable, and accountable to the readers. In the next six months I’ll be attending major Pagan events on two coasts, in Florida at the Florida Pagan Gathering for Samhain (where I’m presenting), and at Pantheacon in San Jose during February (where I’m going to see if I can do a presentation). For those of you concerned about the Pagan press, and attending one of these events, perhaps you’ll join me in-person for that discussion. Otherwise, I urge all of you to get together at your own local gatherings, large or small, and talk about the future of our news, our periodicals, and what we’ll need to keep subsequent generations informed about the day-to-day events and changes that surround us.