“Magicians should be asking themselves very serious questions about how they relate to technology. We engage in this self-interrogation on a regular basis and have come to the decision to leave facebook, the maw that rapaciously devours online traffic, a memetic infestation which trivialises the numinous and significantly alters behaviour patterns for the worse. Facebook in particular is choking under the weight of content, and awaits the same inexorable fate as myspace before it and no doubt diaspora next.
As we have previously stated, without Scarlet Imprint we would choose not to have any personal online profile at all. As such we have a duty to Her, the daemons, spirits and our authors to get the work out for the serious participants in the occult community. We will continue to maintain an online presence, as a necessary evil. Our friends are scattered like stars, and online has been essential for us to make these connections. We are fortunate to say that many of the best practitioners we know have no online profile, and would suggest that those who are most vocal online should perhaps have their claims taken with a pinch of salt.”
“We would suggest that your practice would benefit if you get the hell out of it, or at least minimise your exposure to the cognitive load. This is what we attempt to do, whilst still selling enough books to survive, and making sure that the right people come across our work.”
Perhaps not un-coincidentally this move by Scarlet Imprint comes during something of a mini-revolt by small businesses and brands voiced by the alternative media outlet Dangerous Minds. In a post entitled “Facebook: I Want My Friends Back,” Richard Metzger slams the social media giant for breaking the service in a cheap attempt to generate revenue, destroying the small but significant audiences many smaller brands and artists have built at the service.
“Summing up, Facebook has taken a pee in their own pool from quite a lofty height, turning vast armies of “influentials” against the company, people who are now making plans—born of necessity—to bolt from that pool and to stop putting any effort there. Furthermore, Facebook’s greedy grab will have the knock-on effect of causing many blogs to simply throw in the towel, diminishing Facebook’s own business ecosystem and Facebook’s value to its own users to the point where only Axe Deodorant, Taco Bell and Nike will be showing up in your Facebook newsfeed, which after all, is pretty much the sole point of Facebook in the first place! They’ve deliberately broken their own product’s biggest selling point. Whose idea was that?”
Which makes me wonder: will Scarlet Imprint’s move inspire occult and Pagan businesses and brands increasingly frustrated by the recent changes laid out by Dangerous Minds? Will a confluence of dissatisfactions spark a trend toward exodus? While I can’t see bigger Pagan brands like Llewellyn Worldwide ever leaving Facebook, it’s very possible that niche and mid-size ones might start looking into viable alternatives. What that viable alternative might be is an open question as Google+ and other services haven’t seemed to gain much traction against the Facebook juggernaut. Who knows, maybe the second coming of MySpace will change everything? In the meantime, I wish Scarlet Imprint luck in their Facebook-less future.
[The following is a guest review by Paracelsian of John Michael Greer's new book The Blood of the Earth (Scarlet Imprint, 2012). Paracelsian is the pseudonym of a UK based Pagan whose practice explores engaged & embodied relationship with the spirits of the land. He is fascinated by the stories that we (as both Pagans and more generally as Humans) tell about ourselves and to give meaning to the world around us, and consequently is involved in interfaith work.]
I’ve never been a great fan of “futurists” (in the sense of those who professionally predict the future), but if you can get past Greer’s self-identification in this category, The Blood of the Earth is a richly rewarding work; provoking, intelligent, timely, and ultimately – in spite of its rather gloomy subject matter – both optimistic and inspiring.
The Blood of the Earth is a valuable contribution towards encouraging people to think about facing what Professor Kerri Facer describes as “the 21st Century Canyon”. This is the period covering the next fifty or so years when the global issues about which so many have warned us for so long (over-population, climate change, exhaustion of water supplies, and the end of cheap energy – all the usual humvee-drivers of the apocalypse) will all begin to simultaneously and profoundly affect the world in which we live.
John Michael Greer
Unlike many other writers in the genre, Greer does not devote his work to reheating the scientific narrative of peak oil (though he does point those who remain unconvinced in the right direction). The particular contribution of The Blood of the Earth is that Greer posits a unique narrative framework to analyse the way that we approach these issues: that of Magic, or at least, a Magical approach to thinking. This use of this term might immediately put some readers off, but fear not; this is neither the magic of Dennis Wheatley nor that of Harry Potter (nor, indeed that of Silver Ravenwolf), but Magical thinking as an alternative meta-narrative to that of modernist consumerism; a different way of thinking. Some of the book is spent effectively justifying this usage, and Greer accomplishes this task with elegance and erudition.
Magic, for Greer, is just a different meta-narrative, an alternative way of talking about what is going on in our world. He argues that by adapting this meta-narrative (and thus by dumping more conventional paradigms), we are free to break out of the ruts of thought that constrain our normative approach to the world, and in particular our societies’ addiction to endless consumption. Simply put, by accepting that there are other ways of thinking, we will be able to see things in a different light. Ultimately this is a valuable insight into the current ecological situation; Greer argues that if our conventional ways of thinking are not working, then we need to be using other ways of thinking that will actually have an impact.
Greer uses the neoplatonist distinction between thaumaturgy (magic as wonderworking) and theurgy (magic that transforms consciousness) as a useful method to separate the ways that one can use magical thinking as a way of interpreting our understanding of both the individual and of society in general. He suggests that one can consider industrial capitalist society as a thaumaturgical one – where the masses are governed and controlled by the conscious manipulation of symbols. If you think that this is unlikely, merely reflect for a moment upon the sigils and priesthood of that powerful of spirits: “the Market” – that invisible, uncontrollable power whose unstoppable “forces” control even the destiny of governments, whose priesthood chant the barbarous names of Friedman and Keynes, and to whom is sacrificed the jobs and happiness of so many. Of course, what Greer is suggesting here is that by stepping out of our normal modes of thought the blinkers fall from our eyes and we can see that the Emperor indeed has no clothes. In The Blood of the Earth, Greer uses the magical concept of incantation as an example of the dangers of this way of thinking, which have convinced so many that all one has to do to extract more oil from the ground is to keep on drilling more wells;
The Sarah Palin supporters who turned Drill, baby, drill into their mantra… believe with all their heart hat all we have to do is drill enough wells and we can have all the petroleum we want, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get those wells drilled. (p.66)
Greer expands upon this by warning about the attraction of the emergence of what he refers to (using Wallace’s terminology) as revitalization movement; that is popular movements that spring up as people attempt to deal with, and get control of, radical changes in society; in this case the end of cheap energy. While these will be attractive, and promise much, he argues that they will, in the end, be as much use as the Ghost Dance societies were for those Indigenous American tribes who adopted it as a way of dealing with the European Invasion.
Set against this thaumaturgical approach is that of theurgy (magic that is about the transformation of consciousness). This the approach which Greer argues is much more useful in facing up to the crisis of Peak Oil, but this is a theurgy that at its heart is about freeing ourselves from the dominant narrative, and taking personal responsibility for our own thinking. Greer quotes Péladan; “fear the example of another, think for yourself… this precept of Pythagoras contains all of magic, which is nothing other than the power of selfhood” (p.102) He stresses that this is not merely jumping out of the dominant discourse of society into that of a convenient subculture, but genuinely trying to find one’s own individual way forward. This simplicity is itself the true magic in Greer’s work, and those who come to it in expectation of powerful rituals to restore the natural world, or accounts of entheogen-fuelled adventures on astral planes, will be bitterly disappointed (and possibly extremely challenged) by the genuinely powerful suggestions for action which Greer puts forward – the real magic here is to get rid of your TV and read some good books, try to live more simply, get rid of your car and use public transport or walk more, learn and practice new skills.
The Blood of the Earth is a well-polished and elegant book. It may be read easily, but it is not an easy read – it contains big challenges and a profound message, made all the more profound by its simplicity and “down-to-earth-ness”, which makes its message more scary than all those screeds that exhort us to go and hole up in the remote forest with all the ammunition and tinned goods we can afford. Greer is gently reminding us that things are going to change (and one would be a fool not to think that this is the case – even the Buddha knew that!), and that it is better to do something to prepare ourselves personally for that change, than to ignore it and hope that it is going to go away (or that scientists, the goddess, the rapture, the ascended masters, the ancient wisdom or anything else is going to save us from the consequences of our societies’ folly).
Greer is, as well as being well known in Peak Oil circles, also Grand Arch Druid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America. I think that this is a particularly significant point to note, as when thinking about contemporary Paganism in all its diversity, it is clear that there is a substantial mismatch between the story that Paganism tells about itself (a narrative where nature / Nature figures all too highly), and the level of engagement that most self-identified Pagans have with these issues in practice. Now I’m not suggesting that individual Pagans are never involved with environmental activism, but I am convinced that this is not a priority for the vast majority of individuals who would identify as being Pagan. Greer’s work (and that of other authors who seek to engage contemporary Pagans with these issues: Emma Restall Orr, for example) should at least be encouraging members of the Pagan community to be asking some questions about what it means, in practice, to espouse a nature-based spirituality. This discussion is long overdue, and needed now more than ever, or Paganism will be never be any more than the “virtual religion” critiqued by Andy Letcher. How many self-identified Pagans can honestly live up to Chas Clifton’s challenge to “live so that someone ignorant about Paganism would know from watching your life or visiting your home that you followed an ‘earth religion”. It seems obvious to me that thinking about these questions is imperative if Paganism is not only going to survive, but also to make a positive contribution to the way that humanity relates to Nature in the future (and I’m not suggestion for a moment here some kind of “Starhawk-ian Paganatopia” – but rather an general attitudinal shift, from cut-throat exploitation to acknowledged inter-relation). Simply put this is a book that everyone should read, but particularly so if you are a Pagan. I suspect that the questions that it asks should make many Pagans particularly uncomfortable, and challenge them even more than other readers.
Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing 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!
“We are pleased to announce a new board member, Crystal Blanton. Crystal is a leader with a strong emphasis on service and community building. It is our hope that she will offer guidance and inspiration to Solar Cross as we enter our new phase of growth.”
To learn more about Solar Cross Temple, its projects and goals, check out their newly relaunched website. Congratulations to Crystal, an amazing leader, teacher, and counselor who truly deserves the recognition.
“Yes, the poetry in Mandragora drives deep into the humus heart of experience – spellwork, praise, story, song. From the breathless brevity of haiku through the humming rhythm of the long meditation the thread of hidden history runs, telling in mosaic the story of the occultist, the witch, the worshipper, the scholar and the celebrant. Like Datura, this is a work of many voices from a rich diversity of practice, each burning the wick to illuminate a piece of the Great Work. Some voices will be familiar to those readers of the first anthology, some will be new, and all are testament to a continuing dedication to the sublime and challenging work of poetic and artistic craft in our communities.”
The 2012 Pagan Values blogging project is coming up! During the month of June you are encouraged to write (or podcast) about “the Ethics, the Virtues, and Values that Contemporary Paganism has taught you to cherish, to live, to bring with you in your every interaction with the world.” The Facebook page for the 2012 event can be found, here.
Aidan Kelly’s classic social history of the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn (NROOGD), “Hippie Commie Beatnik Witches,” is now available as an Amazon Kindle ebook (for only $2.99). Essential reading for anyone studying the history of modern Paganism on the West Coast.
“The e-book hopefully means more people will read books. That can only be a good thing. It also means that we can create affordable versions of our work so that readers can take the risk on new authors and unfamiliar subjects. You can dare to read and enrich yourself outside of your field, perhaps you haven’t encountered Pomba Gira or Palo Mayombe before, or you want to see if the poetry cuts it. It allows you to travel with a library rather than dislocating your shoulder with a satchel full of books- as we often do. It makes unwieldy reference texts quickly searchable for research. To this end, we are issuing all of our future paperback Bibliotheque Rouge titles in epub and mobi format.”
The move is part of their Bibliotheque Rougeline, which made cheaper paperback editions of their high-quality collectors editions available to the general public, and this latest expansion is being made in hopes that by “embracing the digital revolution” they can “get these relevant voices of modern magick to the new generation.” How are small metaphysical booksellers reacting to this move by Scarlet Imprint? I spoke with David Wiegleb, owner of Fields Books in San Francisco, about the new digital turn, and he expressed support and optimism for Scarlet Imprint’s new initiative.
“I applaud Scarlet Imprint for making their materials available in a variety of formats. They have fine editions available for the collector, nicely designed standard editions for those who want a copy for their permanent library, Bibliotheque Rouge unlimited paperback edition for the curious, the budget conscious, and future readers, and now ebook editions for those that want them. And the ebooks probably substantially help their bottom line. As a bookseller (and as a reader), whenever I see a publisher pursue a strategy that helps them not only survive into the future, but do so in a way that honors their commitment to good material and well-produced physical books, I will celebrate it. It looks to be a strategy other publishers should emulate.”
Also enthused by Scarlet Imprint’s new digital editions is poet, performer, and writer Ruby Sara, who edited the publisher’s recent collection of esoteric poetry, “Datura,” and is currently working on their new poetry collection, “Mandragora.”
“From a publisher that has amply demonstrated its continued commitment to the fine-bound book, I think the decision to offer digital editions represents an excellent, relevant, and holistic approach to the entire project of book-making. It simultaneously affirms the important place of the bookbinder’s art while ensuring that the words themselves – the blood, sweat and tears of the writer/occultist – are accessible to all. I’m personally very excited that the poetry in Datura, and the forthcoming anthology Mandragora, will be even more accessible through a variety of mediums, from the tactile beauty of the physical books to the economy of the digital editions.”
All digital books can be purchased directly from Scarlet Imprint, and are being released in EPUB (Nook compatible) and MOBI (Kindle compatible) formats. In addition, the company says they’ll “replace lost files for you free of charge as long as the lights stay on.”
While other Pagan and esoteric publishers have made digital editions of their releases available in recent years, I think Scarlet Imprint’s move deserves special notice for making limited edition works accessible to a larger audience. Like it or not, e-readers are here to stay. Millions of people use iPads, Nooks, and Kindles to read books in a variety of contexts. While there will always be a place for traditionally published books, digital editions offer a cheap(er) and convenient way to experience works that may not be easily acquired otherwise. It can also act as a deterrent to those who would pirate their books, removing the excuses of price or availability from normal rationales. Here’s hoping more specialty publishers make their works available in electronic formats, creating real options for those who prefer using e-readers. Our thanks to Scarlet Imprint for “offering a free and unfettered choice.”
“We were approached recently to contribute to Troy Southgate’s Black Front Press whose last published work was a Crowley anthology. After a little research, we were disturbed to find their rather murky history hidden beneath the anti-corporate, anti-capitalist and permaculture ideals. Though we are very happy to promote the independent esoteric and occult authors and publishers whose work and dedication invigorate and stimulate our community, it is entirely another matter to contribute our energy to a project which would seem to be attempting to use a multiplicity of voices from the occult scene to promote the ideas of the so-called New-Right.“
“Race defines who we are, it provides us with an identity and exists for a damn good reason. Without maintaining this essential diversity, something you can find throughout nature, the world will become increasingly drab, standardised and monotonous and the only people left on the planet will inevitably form part of a coffee-coloured mush of uniform humanity. National-Anarchists wish to preserve the different races of the earth and believe that multi-racialism ends with the dissolution of all races. Racial separatism is the only way that the organic balance can be restored. We realise that it is impossible to separate people in the large cities and towns, many of whom have racially-mixed children or wish to live among foreign populations, and neither should we attempt to do so. Indeed, we believe that the nation-states of the West are likely to collapse in the next few decades and that our respective countries will begin to fragment along racial and cultural lines. So there is clearly no need to treat people inhumanely by herding them into camps or deporting them in the way that the Nazis and Soviets did in the last century; something which ended disastrously for those concerned. National-Anarchists must form new communities based on their own racial and cultural values. The maxim of the future will be respect for others and unity in diversity.”
“The danger National-Anarchists represent is not in their marginal political strength, but in their potential to show an innovative way that fascist groups can rebrand themselves and reset their project on a new footing. They have abandoned many traditional fascist practices—including the use of overt neo-Nazi references, and recruiting from the violent skinhead culture. In its place they offer a more toned down, sophisticated approach… Their cultural references are the neo-folk and gothic music scene, which puts on an air of sophistication, as opposed to the crude skinhead subculture. National Anarchists abandon any obvious references to the Hitler or Mussolini’s fascist regimes, often claiming not to be “fascist” at all.
Like the European New Right, the National-Anarchists adapt a sophisticated left-wing critique of problems with contemporary society, and draw their symbols and cultural orientation from the Left; then they offer racial separatism as the answer to these problems. They are attempting to use this new form to avoid the stigma of the old discredited fascism, and if they are successful like the National Bolsheviks have been in Russia, they will breathe new life into their movement. Even if the results are modest, this can disrupt left-wing social movements and their focus on social justice and egalitarianism; and instead spread elitist ideas based on racism, homophobia, antisemitism and antifeminism amongst grassroots activists.”
“The most important thing for us is the Natural Order. It is natural for men and women to procreate. Anything which threatens the harmony of Nature must be opposed. Feminism is dangerous and unnatural not because it threatens to leave men with a pile of dirty washing-up and a few smelly nappies (as some of its adherents claim), but because it ignores the complimentary relationship between the sexes and encourages women to rebel against their inherent feminine instincts. Anyone interested in the opposing view should read The Female Woman by Arianna Stassinopoulos (Davis-Poynter, 1973) or Chapter 20 of Julius Evola’s Revolt Against the Modern World (Inner Traditions, 1995). Homosexuality is contrary to the Natural Order because sodomy is quite undeniably an unnatural act. Groups such as Outrage are not campaigning for love between males – which has always existed in a brotherly or fatherly form – but have created a vast cult which has led to a rise in cottaging, male-rape and child sex attacks. Nature is about life and health, not death and AIDS. One of the most eye-opening pamphlets produced on this issue is Alexander Baron’s truly excellent Guide to Gay Sex: A Primer For Young People (Infotext Manuscripts, 1994). But we are not trying to stop homosexuals engaging in this kind of activity like the Christian moralists or bigoted denizens of censorship are doing, on the contrary, as long as this behaviour does not affect the forthcoming National-Anarchist communities then we have no interest in what people get up to elsewhere. I just hope these people respect our own right to live in the way we choose. As far as abortion is concerned, this process violates the sanctity of life and once again the killing of an unborn child is flying in the face of Nature and one could do far worse than read Abortion: Yes Or No? by John L. Grady (Tan Books, 1979).”
Amazingly, the “we’ll let you live in peace apart from us come the revolution” defense seems to often work. Allowing views that would get them painted as neo-fascists to get lost in a constructed apolitical fog. However, any direct contact with self-proclaimed National Anarchists makes plain what they are, and apologists end up having to twist themselves into pretzels in order to insulate figures like Southgate from the odious effects of their pseudo-intellectual rhetoric.
I don’t think there should be a “blacklist” for those duped into thinking Black Front Press was truly apolitical in orientation, but once enlightened, it will become increasingly hard to erect a firewall between Southgate’s publishing arm and the views he and his followers espouse. Just because this book on Crowley avoided becoming a pamphlet for neo-fascist views doesn’t mean the publishing house that produced it should be given a free pass. Ultimately, there’s an expectation that intelligent people will consider who is funding and distributing a project. If your work is helping to bolster the image of a company that endorses the philosophy of the National Anarchists, if your work helps these groups further insinuate themselves within Pagan and esoteric communities, then the fig leaf of apoliticism must be challenged.
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!
Our website offers resources (like the IPCOD’s Guide to Coming Out authored by Drake Spaeth, PsyD) and encouragement for Pagans who choose to come out. We give Pagans a place to make their voice heard as they recount their personal stories of coming out or as they relate the experience that caused them to decide that they were not able or willing to come out yet. Through these stories, by more Pagans coming out and being visible, and by showing Pagan allies how they can stand with us, we hope to reduce stigma by putting a human face on Paganism. Some of the ‘out’ stories featured on our site are: A Pagan mother faces a home visit by her child’s teachers. Telling your parents. And my story, coming out in a police station.
“We are currently fielding poetry submissions from the global occult, magical and pagan communities for this work. Continuing in the same luminous, bejeweled tradition of excellence found in Datura, this new anthology will likewise combine a sampling of the best poetic work available from contemporary practitioners, as well as additional essays about the practice/performance of poetry, the role of poetry in devotional and ritual work, and the artistic culture of magic.”
Deadline for submissions is October 31st, 2011. To submit work to this project, please send 3-5 pieces of your best work along with a cover letter via email to collection editor Ruby Sara. For more information, check out the full announcement.
“One of the CCs I coordinate – Spirituality & the Earth – is a Multiregion CC and was one of the founding CCs of the URI. I had also served two previous terms on the Global Council. Apparently they felt this gave me sufficient experience and ongoing connection to be able to jump right in and get to work. (And boy did they have work for me to do! In addition to helping revitalize the Multiregion, I was also asked to serve in the creation of and on the new External Affairs Committee, which will be responsible for crafting the URI’s official response to world events like what’s going on right now in Tunis and Egypt. But that’s another story…)
While in many ways the Multiregion embodies the highest aspirations of the URI – people of all religions, spiritual expressions, and indigenous traditions working together around the world “to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence, and to create cultures of peace, justice, and healing for the Earth and all living beings” – it has always been sort-of the odd-man-out. It’s been a lot easier to organize CCs who all live in one geographic area than it has been to organize something as far-flung as the Multiregion. We have been VERY reliant on modern technology to create and maintain our network. We had our very first face-to-face Regional Assembly only last March. (See the reports in this blog in March 2010.) That meeting generated a LOT of enthusiasm in the Multiregion and we really didn’t want to see this dissipate.”
You can read part one, here, and part two, here. COG as an organization has long been one of the trailblazers for Pagan involvement in the interfaith community. This work, while seemingly unexciting to the outside observer, creates huge dividends of good will and new networks with indigenous communities. To keep track of this meeting’s progress, be sure to subscribe to the COG Interfaith Reports blog.
“Pagan scholars discussed “Building Community” on Jan. 22 and 23 at the 7th Annual Conference of Current Pagan Studies in Claremont. More than 70 Pagans gathered to hear the ideas and results of research by the 27 Pagan scholars, researchers and leaders who came from greater LA as well as from other areas of the country.
They gathered to discuss issues that relate to the Pagan community at large. It is important to that community’s health and growth to meet and learn from one another. It’s also important for all Pagans to be involved in the public arena and have their voices heard. With an estimate of over a million Americans now self-identified as Pagan, the Pagan religion is coming of age. And it is feeling, now more than ever, the need for trained leaders and clergy to build stronger Pagan communities that also see themselves as a part of a larger community.”
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!
“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.”
“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 rape. Engaging 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.
“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″
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 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.”
“This has been described as a ‘golden age of occult publishing’. From the internet it appears that there is a thriving international occult community and that publishers are reaping the benefits. This could not be further from the truth. Most magical publishers are very small businesses struggling to survive. Occult authors are making precious little, if any, money. This is not the motivation behind the work.
We work a seven day week at Scarlet Imprint because we believe in what we are doing. Producing books is a massively demanding occupation. We wasted another day today trying to stop illegal copies of our books when we could have been finishing Geosophia for the printers and working on our own writing. We are sick to death of this, as are Ixaxaar, Golden Hoard, Xoanon et al.”
“Let’s say Person A has never heard of ‘The Great Jason Robert Brown.’ Let’s name Person A ‘Bill.’ Let’s say I find the sheet music to ‘Stars and the Moon” online, and, since I was able to find that music, I was able to perform that song for a talent show. I slate saying, ‘Hi, I’m Eleanor and I will be performing “Stars and the Moon” from Songs for a New Worldby Jason Robert Brown.’ Bill, having never heard of this composer, doesn’t know the song or the show. He listens and decides that he really likes the song. Bill goes home that night and downloads the entire Songs for a New World album off iTunes. He also tells his friend Sally about it, and they decide to go and see the show together the next time it comes around. Now, if I hadn’t been able to get the sheet music for free, I would have probably done a different song. But, since I was able to get it, how much more money was made? This isn’t just a fluke thing. It happens.”
The problem, of course, is that not all experiences are scalable, and what Trent Reznor or Cory Doctorow finds profitable and worthwhile may not work for every artist, publisher, or company. In the end, and this should be something key to anyone active within the Pagan and esoteric communities, it’s about consent. You can’t force your preferred business model or promotional ideas on someone else, no matter how right you think you are. If it’s unethical within the circle, it is certainly unethical outside of it. It doesn’t make you a romantic rebel, it just reveals you as someone with no consideration for how your actions will affect someone else.
Further, our businesses and artists are working on a very small scale, with very limited resources. A few sales could mean the difference between putting out another book or closing shop for some small publishing houses. Even if we allow that piracy against “big” acts or corporations is ethically neutral, to do it to one of our own, no matter what the justification, is a hurtful act. To use another example, Pagan artists like Pandemonaeon, Damh the Bard, or Emerald Rose produce very small runs of their CDs, usually only around a 1000 copies. Even “bigger” acts like Faith & The Muse or various artists on Projekt Records aren’t all that much bigger in terms of the number of CDs they produce and sell. Every time we download one of their songs or albums for free instead of ordering a CD or purchasing a legal download we literally cost them money.
“Last night I was directed to a very interesting New York Times graphic showing how little money is left in the music industry. Wow! On the FB thread, there were a few comments along the lines of, “Yeah, I’m sure this affects the major labels, but Projekt fans wouldn’t steal.” Sorry to burst the bubble, but Projekt fans steal just like everyone else. Projekt’s total $$ is 50% of what it was a decade ago, and if it wasn’t for legal download (iTunes, mainly), it would be 25% of what it was 10 years ago. When somebody steals an Unto Ashes or Soulwhirlingsomewhere or Steve Roach or Black Tape For A Blue Girl album, that means less money for Projekt, less money for the artists, and a much higher chance that someday you won’t find anymore music from this artist.”
Some may now be wondering what my personal stance on this issue is, after all, I’m a big proponent of Creative Commons and making information easily available on the Internet. I don’t place ads on my site, don’t sell anything, and hold one fundraiser per year to help fund my activities. I also admire folks like Doctorow who are taking chances with their content in order to build new models of making money as a creative person. But that brings us back to problem of consent. I’m choosing this model of doing business. So when you share my articles around, you are doing so with my blessings. Since I’m coming from a place of grass-roots journalism, I want what I’m doing to spread with as few hurdles as possible. But I would feel very differently about it if I were selling a limited edition book, or trying to sell a CD. I love it when people forward my posts around on Facebook or via e-mail, but you are doing a Pagan musician no favors if you buy one copy of a CD and then allow all the other members of your magical or religious group to make free copies of it for their own use.
But even if the moral argument, or arguments from a stance of magical ethics, doesn’t move you there’s a very simple practical reason why we should support our businesses, writers, and artists with our money, and that’s because it enables them to continue doing what they do. Without enough revenue we don’t get better books, or new albums, or thriving businesses. We don’t build the infrastructure that so many say we want and need to move forward and service our ever-swelling ranks. We are at a time of transition when it comes to media, and how our community as a whole responds to it will decide how able we’ll be to face the challenges and needs of the future. Times are tight, and the temptation of simply taking what we want is greater than ever, but if we give in to that temptation we risk hobbling our own progress in the name of short-term benefit.
Greetings, Pagani, from the wind-warm and lake-gorgeous streets of the urban Midwest!
I’m very excited to be guest blogging here at The Wild Hunt today – many thanks to Jason for the opportunity!
The rose bushes on my porch are giddy with the astonishing, blustery and honeyed weather. Walking through the neighborhood this week I saw approximately two zillion (I counted) crocuses, daffodils, and blue scilla flowers peppering the gardens of my fellow city-dwellers. April! Month of poetry and hyacinths. Wind and verse. April is National Poetry Month here in the US. Certainly a delightfully auspicious time for the release of Datura: An Anthology of Esoteric Poesis, published by Scarlet Imprint. It’s safe to say that I’m practically over the moon excited about this book. As readers over at Pagan Godspell can attest, I am something of a rabid fan of poetry. Indeed, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I believe that poetry is the language of magick. The language of the gods. A fire in the veins, with the smokelight prism, jewel and thunder of religion as its fuel.
Poetry’s role in the devotional and magical lives of the Pagani is manifold. It can be used in magical practice both in riddling (i.e. grokking a text for its deeper meaning), and in inducing trance (alliteration, rhyme, evocative word choice – all can assist the individual in Diving Deep and Surfacing). It can be used to communicate the ineffable in ways that are inaccessible through prose or didactic speech. It can bring people together in worship and in prayer. It can act as a channel between a people and their god. It can illuminate what was previously hidden, and make opaque things that require occultation. Poetry works the mind and the heart – it infiltrates the bones. Poetry works.
Poetry works both in the writing and the reading of it. The writing of poetry is an excellent medium for communion with the Holy. Last Sunday I had the privilege of attending the 2010 Milwaukee Ostara Festival in Wisconsin, where I presented a workshop on writing Pagan liturgical and devotional poetry. In answer to the question, “Why is poetry important in liturgical and devotional practice?,” one participant commented that the writing of a poem is an act of deepest respect, which was an excellent point. To write poetry is to engage with the subject in intimate detail, to devote to it your complete and undivided attention – to make the act of observation an offering. This is true also of poems with no ostensible spiritual element – to write an effective poem about a moment or an object requires Seeing it truly, with your whole body, via the lens with which you view the world. This is what makes poetry unique as well – the meeting of observer and the observed in the medium of language means that poems written about, say, plums by one poet will look very different than those written by another. To engage in an act of spiritual scrutiny with what is Holy then is to engage in authentic relationship. It’s not unlike, in my limited experience, the act of translation. I’m thinking for example of Normandi Ellis’ Awakening Osiris – a translation of the Egyptian Book of Coming Forth By Day not in its most literal expression, but in its spirit – Ellis’ deep grokking of the flower beneath the words and her transmission of its meaning via her unique perspective and the use of exquisite, embodied imagery has breathtaking results. “From the first cry to the last I chant the spell of living. In my belly I join the breath of life with the flame of becoming. I rise from the center of myself, fire on the wick, burning, tossing back shadows. Night drifts away like smoke.” (Ellis, 174). This kind of attention, this deepening, is inherent in the act of poetic expression.
Then, of course, there is the act of reading poetry, which is fundamentally important, especially for those who write themselves. I see a lot of poetry highlighted in the Pagan blogosphere (most especially around Imbolc with the annual Brigid Silent Poetry Reading), and this is because we recognize the significance of reading and sharing poetry that inspires. In working towards the continued cultivation of Pagan culture, I believe it is critical to support and share the work of poets and other literary artists who are dealing specifically with themes of devotion, esoterica, and magickal practice (via collections like Datura as well as opportunities such as the international poetry competition run by the Cambridge Centre for Western Esotericism). Art is the fruit of religion and spirituality, and in the spirit of knowing things by their fruits, the arts of Paganism and occultism function as evidence of the deep and challenging paths we walk on as worshipers and practitioners. My goal in creating Datura was to highlight a collection of poems that speak to the hidden and rapturous nature of our work as Pagans and occultists as well as essays that explore various aspects of poetry in our communities, and in doing so provide inspiration to those seeking an understanding of the paths we walk as practitioners, to those who practice themselves as they deepen their study, to other writers and poets in these communities as they undertake the Work inherent in the writing process, and to those who simply grok Beauty in its myriad forms. It’s especially thrilling to work with Peter and Alkistis at Scarlet Imprint, as their commitment to the exquisite art of fine bookbinding makes Datura art enfolded in art.
Friends, as National Poetry Month unfolds and the rosebushes grow, I wish you a season filled with the rapture of good words and the celebration of art! Why is April the season of poetry? Because poetry is the flower of human experience. May you count a zillion hyacinths and hear a thousand poems that move you.
“…a Wiccan clergyman fights discrimination in California’s prisons. Reverend Patrick McCollum joins host Welton Gaddy to discuss his challenge to California’s “Five Faiths” policy. It says only Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, and Native-American chaplains will be hired to minister to inmates.”
Here’s hoping this interviews continues to push this story into the mainstream, and keeps up the pressure on California officials hoping this will all disappear. You can subscribe to the podcast, listen on-line, or download the entire show, here. I also urge you to check out Patrick’s other recent radio/podcast interviews with Anne Hill and Ravencast. The important thing at this stage is to keep our community aware of this case as it goes forward, write to California officials, and spread the word when new information arises. This is a big story, and if we persevere, it will eventually get noticed by the mainstream media.
In secret meetings that draw on elements of Haitian Voodoo, Cuban Santeria and Mexican witchcraft, priests are slaughtering chickens on full moon nights on beaches, smearing police with the blood and using prayers to evoke spirits to guard them as drug cartels battle over smuggling routes into California. Other police in the city of Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, tattoo their bodies with Voodoo symbols, believing they can repel bullets. “Sometimes a man needs another type of faith,” said former Tijuana policeman Marcos, who left the city force a year ago after surviving a drug gang attack. “I was saved when they killed two of my mates. I know why I didn’t die.”
This isn’t just a war of bullets, it’s now a war of spirits, pitting the three-horned Bosou Koblamin against Jesus Malverde or Santa Muerte. It’s a practice quietly endorsed by police superiors, who know that the under-paid and out-gunned officers need any psychological reassurance they can get. I have the sinking feeling that the end of this struggle is in the hands of American lawmakers, that the decriminalization of marijuana could now save countless lives, as illegal trafficking is too profitable to ever want for replacements.
“…for me there truly is no difference on a metaphysical level between poetry and magick – they are the same movement, and you cannot have true magick without poetry (or true poetry without magick). poetry is the language of magick, it is magick given voice and form. on a practical level, the human voice is a critical instrument in various manner of spellcraft, as is language…history bears this out thoroughly i think…and in my experience, spellcraft is hugely enhanced by applying to it the music and rhythm and articulate beauty of invocative, resonant poetry.”
The book is scheduled to be released on April 16th, and is being printed in a hand-bound limited run of 500 copies, so get your order in today if you want to ensure you get a copy of what sounds like a truly momentous collection. Here is where our modern liturgy and inspiration are flowing freely, so don’t miss out!