Sunday, July 24, 2011

How did it come to this?

Many Publishers of books on Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, Magick and so on, are seeing a sharp decline in the interest of such books among the public.  In response fewer books are being accepted for publication, and in some cases none at all.  While the poor economy is a contributing a factor, there is, I believe, a larger contributing factor.
It is said that Generations come into the world with a like-mindedness.  Those of us born in the 1950s were the teens of the 1960s.  The 1960s saw the resurgence of the Occult and its related arts - palmistry, tarot, witchcraft, and mysticism.  There were few books and materials available on the subject at the time, and fewer places where seekers could find kindred spirits.  The lucky few ended up being taught by practitioners of old lineage lines.

The 1960s was a time of great experimentation.  We took the available knowledge along with the guidance of those with experience, and we worked hard to integrate such things and to develop ourselves.  There was simply no other way to make things happen.  We had no Internet, and few cities contained shops that offered anything to people with mystical, occult, pagan, or witchcraft interests.

From the1960s and 1970s arose individuals who fought on the front lines against those who condemned the rising interests and involvement in paganism, witchcraft, and the occult arts.  Many cities had laws against "fortune telling" and it was a difficult time to practice our beliefs and ways openly.  A large percentage of the people who fought for recognition and acceptance in mainstream society, and equal treatment by governments agencies, are now dead.

The 1980s introduced a departure from training and experience, along with an abandonment of lineage systems.  Self-styled ways, intuitive approaches, and the philosophy of "do whatever feels right" took the place of time-proven and time-honored ways.  It was also at this time that "Wicca" was separated from "Witchcraft" and the new generation dubbed Wicca as a religion and Witchcraft as a practice.  This was a severing from the past, where in ancient literature we find references to the witch Medea as a priestess of Hecate, and southern European witches calling upon such goddesses as Diana and Proserpina (along with Hecate).

Many of the popular authors of 1980s, 1990s (and now into the 21st Century) had no formal training.  They drew upon the written works that contained the experience of other people (most of who had no formal training themselves).  With this they designed their own teachings and systems.  This is an observation and not a criticism.  From these decades arose the eclectic formations that mixed various cultures, deities, beliefs and practices together (or attempted to reconstruct preexisting traditions of the past).

What the lineage traditions offered was the understanding of the inner mechanisms that supported the beliefs and practices of our ancestors.  This mechanism is sometimes referred to as the inner mysteries or the Mystery Tradition.  It is the "why" behind the "how" and the template for understanding and integration.  This is what empowers a tradition, and it is what makes practical sense along with the mystical revelation of it all.

Over the past several decades the market has been flooded with material of little substance.  What many people believed they would find in the overabundance of books, they did not.  Instead they found cute and fun spells, whimsical musings, home spun charm, and a rehash of concepts and techniques that were largely generated by the misunderstanding of non-initiates who were passing them on.

I believe that many seekers became disheartened with the available material.  They thought "Well, if this is all there is, I think I'll move on to another path" - and many have. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of what is available to them on deeper levels.  They assume that all authors are putting out the standard tripe, and that there is nothing of substance, nor anything beyond what they have already read.  So they have stopped buying books and they avoid books by authors they have yet to read.  This is truly unfortunate for everyone.

Another contributing problem is what passes for book reviews these days.  I know several people who "review" books they have only skim read.  This is like passing by a restaurant, looking in through the window, sniffing the fragrance of food cooking, and then telling friends what a good or bad establishment it is.  How would they really know without the full experience?   Truth is, they can't.

Some people establish themselves as influential on Internet Forums, and they provide other members with a list of books and authors to avoid.  Many members thank them and they avoid these books and authors (of which they have no first hand knowledge).  They allow others to make up their minds for them.  While I believe it is helpful to share our experiences and insights, we have to have our own in order to possess an informed opinion.  There are a lot of uninformed opinions and borrowed insights out there.

The danger that we face as published books are declining and readerships are dwindling, is the return to a previous time when finding anything on the subjects of Wicca, Witchcraft, Magic, and Paganism was a hard challenge.  Local communities have withdrawn their monetary support of local New Age and Witch Shops, and all across the country many are going out of business.  This is a yet fully realized tragedy for these communities.  While it is true that you can buy a book cheaper on, or buy a candle cheaper at a discount store, and the Discount store don't care about your spirituality and won't take the time to council you in a crisis, or help you network with others of like mind.  Saving a dollar or two that results in losing your local shop seems counterproductive.

In recent times, attendance has been very low at Pagan Festivals and conventions across the United States.  One very popular festival, for the first time in its history, had Mead vendors end up with most of their stock still in hand.  When you can't even sell alcohol to Pagans at a festival, I think we are seeing the "End Times" - lol.

As Wiccans, Witches, and Pagans, we love our individuality.  But we need to understand that this should not separate us from others.  We can have unity through diversity.   We can belong to a community without losing our self identity.  Our hope lies in helping each other and supporting each other; not simply with words but with actions.  If our ways and beliefs are to survive for future generations, then we must work to make them survive here in our own time.  What you and I do today, or fail to do, will shape the future.





  1. Outstanding! I couldn't agree more.

  2. I believe that some have learned the Inner Mysteries in another lifetime, and it is their calling to forge a new path. But I agree that this is not a fad and cannot be done by anyone.

    Second, at least in Wicca, one of the fundamentals is to follow your heart, not the words in a book. Or a blog, for that matter. Those that do are missing the point.

    Thank you for sharing this Raven!

  3. Bravo!

    I am a true supporter of lineaged traditions. I know many who consider my views to be exclusive or elitist. I simply don't believe it's possible to gain the same experience from, that one will from traditional practice.

    There is far too much watered down, diluted information being disseminated as true knowledge when it comes to Wicca/Witchcraft. Unfortuately those new to the Craft have no way to differentiate.

    As my beloved friend and mentor, Deborah Lipp recently mentioned, "Witchcraft is sweaty business". I believe that if one doesn't sweat a little, cry a little and/or bleed a little in the practice of Witchcraft, they may not be reaping the benefits of the true experience.

    Thank you for your post, Raven. We will be visiting Salem in August. I hope we have the opportunity to meet!

    In Darkness, Light!


  4. Well said! Was just commenting on this yesterday w/two friends who were with me when we went on a "field trip" to two favorite old haunts in our fair state's capital city---and were severely underwhelmed and a little creeped out by these two establishments--in one, the kid behind the counter looked basically scared to be there and the other has been slowly becoming a head shop/pet shop...what happened to the Community? Even among eclectics/non-lineaged traditions, there should still be a community...?

  5. So very sad, and so very true. I am a hereditary Strega. Fourth generation (that I know of and can trace - Italian family history is hard to come by once we hit pre 1800 in Sicily).

    We need more authors to be presenting publishing houses with books of substance. I agree, too many "fluffy bunny cutesy spell" book out there. Too many "it's been done over and over and over" again themes.

    Currently there is a woman who calls her self an author in the east coast pagan society. She has been practicing for a mere ten years. Because she writes a good blog, has lots of contests, and has a store in which she sells items that are also "cutesy" spell items, she has gained a following in the past year. One year. So now she has a book deal. She keeps telling everyone how she is "hip deep in my book writing", which she sells her St. Partick's day poppets and goes on monthly coffee clatches with three of four other women to historical sites. Very sad state if this is what the newer generation is going to believe our their teachers and elders.

    Well said Raven - thank you for being so honest.

  6. As a member of some of these online forums with these "influential" types, I'm in full agreement with you. This needed to be said, and it's nice to see it said in such a graceful way!

  7. You are so right!! I have seen many people come in to the path just to leave because its not what they were looking for but really didn't stay long enough to find out. I had a teacher tell me that people will go in to learning witchcraft and if they are not true and don't want to open themselves to what they need to leaarn will be out within a year. I have, unfortunately, seen that with many. As well as with stores.

    Thank you as always for this enightenment.

  8. I had was a practicing solitary Witch for over twenty years.
    Notice I said "was". I started seeing a trend of Pagan fundamentalists over a year ago and that was when I started exploring other paths.
    These same people who are on these forums preaching against certain authors forget they themselves started out with those very author's books. You do get to a point where you have to move beyond the basics and you form your own way of doing things.
    I got tired of hearing about how there was a right way and a wrong to do every thing. Mostly, I got tired of being preached at. I have since moved on to a non-Pagan path and have a deeper and more personal relationship with the Gods. And that is what being spiritual should be about: your connection to the Gods and being One with Them.

  9. Raven,do you think this mostly middle of the road (at least it appears that way to me) statement is hurting or helping move things forward? I ask because in the beginning I think I am hearing you call for a return a Craft based strictly on history and lineage and I see this as being exclusionary rather than trying to co-exist and form bonds within the larger Pagan (neo-pagan more correctly) community.
    In the latter part of your statement you appear to call for us all to support each other and the key to our survival is to all work together toward a common goal,furthering our Craft. I personally agree with this position.
    Can you clarify which side of the fence you stand on for me? As I see it now you appear to be perched on top of it.

    I agree with your position on many of the books being published today.
    If publishers are putting out what many feel are substandard books then perhaps one answer might be to have more practicing Pagans on their staff doing the proof reading. I find many of the "rehash" books to be an blantent attempt to cash in on the growing interest in alternate religion/spirituality. The fault IMO lies not so much with the author as with the editors and publishers.
    Editors are supposed to be the ones who proof read,research sources,polish the manuscript and untimately decide what is worthy of being forwarded on to publishing and what is not.If the editor`s lazy or has insufficient skills/knowledge then the books they send on to be published are bound to be weak.


  10. With respect, I find parts of this article (and comments) divisive. Is it possible that the internet forums and sites that folks seem to decry as less useful than books are now serving as a means for lineages to exist. In the far past, people didn't have to PAY for knowledge of craft or spirit. It was passed down and worked out in communities. PERHAPS what we are seeing is simply a return of word of mouth teaching and spiritual growth. It is unfortunate for those writers who make a living teaching their spiritual viewpoints and experiences, but it might be a boon for our spiritual community.

  11. I understand that the Christian churches are also losing their momentum as well. We live in a "fast-food" society these days. Nobody wishes to put time or effort into anything. I teach Tarot and have had many students who've excelled and then I've also had some students who want the information and the "know-how" just poured into their heads. If it's not instant gratification, they don't want it.

  12. I'm with you. I've had 3 teachers and though I've spent months in training with each and learned history & spell-working, never felt that any true mysteries were shared as part of their classes. I wondered if anyone actually possessed that kind of knowledge.

  13. Not Hannah, historically speaking people have always "paid" in some way or another. They either offered a service in exchange, or provided food or clothing to a teacher. Today, the exchange is often in the form of currency.

    Personally, my eyebrows are raised more by people who always have their hands out for something free than they are by teachers who receive payment for their time, energy, and expertise.

    I feel that the Internet is a good place to find some form of community, and it's beneficial for some free advise and sharing. But if all we have to turn to is other seekers and no experienced teachers, well, that does not seem like a real good thing in the long run.

  14. Diane, in order for a teacher to convey the inner mysteries, she or he must know them themselves. One point I tried to make in the blog is that many people without formal training are leading. This is one reason why students are becoming discouraged.

    Just because someone calls themselves a teacher, or is a published author, does not mean they know initiate level material. Many of them only know what they've read and have then gone on to elaborate about. They rely on the printed views of others who themselves did not know the inner mysteries.

  15. I think Neopaganism is definitely at a turning point. I've been practicing for about 20 years now I keep seeing variations of the same issue crop up. I really believe strongly that if we want to survive, we need to pull together and establish some boundaries in regards to scholarship and training. The days of being anarchist hippies have long gone, especially if we want to be taken seriously by the mainstream.

  16. as a solitary witch, i have tried various groups...but most seem caught up in their own ego and don't last very long. i look to books to find that "more". but as you said, they have been lacking lately. i frequent the local pagan shops, but i have to say that the ones i've been in contact with do love long as you're spending money. but if you have questions or troubles and need someone to talk to, they're too busy. it's very disheartening. i have been looking for a teacher or mentor of sorts. i have read that "when it is time, a teacher will appear"...well, i guess that remains to be seen. i'll keep looking, but i'm not happy with what i'm seeing. again...ego. there's too much concern over "who's in charge" or "my way is better than your way" than placing an emphasis on actual learning.

  17. I agree with you to an extent, Mr. Grimassi. I'm not against an exchange of currency for services provided. Our paths split, however, when it comes down to qualifying (or perhaps quantifying) what determines experience--or how that experience should best be shared.

    We further split when words like "home spun charm" and "rehash of concepts and techniques..." lead to thinly veiled insults toward a currently influential member of the Pagan community. I'm not faulting your concern or frustration. I do understand it. I just am giving voice to my own concern and frustration that comes from a new generation of Pagans who are trying to come together to form a new kind of lineage. Does that make any sense?

  18. True mysteries are truly that... an inner mystery/knowing, not always shareable. Each soul is at a different level. The so called fluffy, bunny cutesy stuff is a first step for many young souls starting on their path. Mysteries really cannot be taught in the way the we learn uses for herbs or the phases of the moon. It is a consciousness, a way of being. It is knowing,right then and there. One of my teachers insisted that we work some of the time with items at hand, kitchen witch style. This allowed be to learn so much more about the inner aspects. We should develop ourselves so that in any situation we can do the needful. Mysteries don't come written on a fancy scroll or whispered in one's ear by a teacher. Our teachers are there to guide us, push us a bit and stand back to let us flap our wings on our own. You already have it, find it and use it.
    Blessed be!
    Madhurya lila

  19. Not Hannah, It's unfortunate that you seem to have chosen some of my remarks as being "thinly veiled insults" - they are instead complaints I frequently hear as an author at events across the Nation.

    Yes, your vision of the needs of a new generation of Pagans does make sense. But there is also value in the views of those of us who have been around longer than we care to think of.

    A tree survives because of its roots, but the tree produces new fruit and new flowers. Both are essential if there are to be trees in the future. I am root tender and I care for the well being of the roots. Others are seed bearers, some are grafters, and some are just enjoying the taste of the fruit. As long as the tree stands, and everyone (even me) has a hand in it, I think it's all good.

  20. No, no. I was referring to a comment on this post. I'm sorry; I should have been clearer in that.

    I absolutely agree with you about the value of the "ones who went before." (Hi. I'm really not trying to make you feel ancient. :)) And I love your image of the tree--it's actually weirdly perfect for a new project I'm working on.

    To be clear, my frustration comes with the idea that there is only one way to learn. I believe that for Paganism to survive as an umbrella faith, we must embrace new ways of teaching and learning and for many of us, the forums and sites are a valuable way of learning. That isn't to say that there isn't bunk running around on those venues--but there's bunk pretty much everywhere, isn't there?

  21. As Asatru, I could not agree more with your post. Our community is suffering both both the problems listed above in ADDITION to the curse of white-supremacism. Every good kindred I know seems to eventually fall after a few short years because some idiot (who usually comes from a non-Asatru upbringing)decides he (it is usually a he- sorry) wishes to "reconnect with his roots" and brings a bunch of half-baked garbage ideologies into the group. Many families are going back underground to lick their wounds after blots filled with recent converts who are not turning to the path out of calling, but instead are "escaping" something- such as Christianity, or wish to find a religion to express their xenophobia (considering Woden was all for hospitality- American Asatru should NOT be even giving these people the time of day!). Unlike many witchcraft lines, we have the benefit of our Sagas, Eiddas, and the Hamaval...but in our current culture, our heritage is frequently misappropriated and distorted into something that is unrecognizable....

  22. Well it is about damn time something was said. You are awesome Raven. I met you at Heartland Pagan Festival and enjoyed your classes and talking to you. I agree Festivals have dwindled in attendance, there was almost no drumming circle to speak of last year at the festival I attended. The best job I have ever had was working in a Pagan Store, I learned more, met more people, and I was pushed to the limits of my knowledge daily. I remember when the books I was seeking were in the fiction section and the best information about Witchcraft was in a National Geographic Magazine. I want to thank you for taking the time to write your books and share your knowledge, I refer your work to all my students and anyone asking for books to learn from.

  23. I am more inclined to blame the downturn of book sales other pagan spending on the downward trend of the economy and the lack of discretionary spending available in the personal budget than any larger waning of the Pagan community.

  24. Perhaps what you say about lineage teachings are appropriate in those paths, like Wicca, which evolved to have them -- but what of reconstructionist paths and those informed by ancient practices? Those who follow them do so guided only by source materials that are being reclaimed from historical and archaeological materials; the experience of the teachers is less important than the degree of their immersion into these scholastic sources. Many recon books have to go to smaller niche publishers because the bigger houses fear there will be less of an audience for these more specific, usually more academic, pathways. I think Paganism is evolving away from the rehashed 101 trends, and I hope that the publishers realize, if they have not already, that their bottom line is not just about attracting new audiences with sensationalist Wicca 101 or cutesy spell books, but the need to *keep* their established audiences with books that concentrate on deeper materials, explore ethics and philosophy from a Pagan perspective, and stop spoon-feeding readers by making a commitment to publishing works that are based on solid Pagan scholarship.

  25. I have been witnessing the same decline around me for years and it is at the very least... heartbreaking. I am personally most affected by the loss of the specialty shops that were our gathering places that has resulted in an erosion of community and contact with kindred spirits. Your article is depressing but sharply on point.

  26. Your statements about books ring true, But less attendance at festivals? Both PSG and Panthacon were the biggest and most successful ever. Not sure what to make of the statement.

  27. Raven,
    You continue to inspire. In this time when so many unqualified 'teachers' are out there, even in BTW, and so many are selling themselves out in the pursuit of money or legacies, you hold to your truths. This will make stores such as the Ravensloft even more important to our community. I applaud you and Stephanie sir!

    As a sidebar, Borders, the latest bookstore chain going out of business in bankruptcy, has almost all of their books on sale for 10 to 40 percent off. The genre of books not discounted? You guessed it: Witchcraft, Wicca, Pagan, Druid, Occult, and 'How To' books on ghosthunting, Spirits, Tarot and other forms of Divination are not on sale. I asked the clerk why and was told the liquidators gave specific instructions not to discount these books. Interesting eh?

    ~Sirilere O(

  28. Your assessment of what is being published is pretty on the money, and not just witchy, occult titles, but spirituality in general. I more or less quit buying 90% of what was being released 10 years ago. I felt like I was re-reading the same book over and over again.

    As for communities and events, there seems to be a awful lot of ego out there. Too many wannabe "Queen" witches. I've seen it over and over again - It's almost as bad a re-reading the "same" book but more like bad theatre.

    One bright spot is that this year at PUF (Pagan Unity Festival) we had one of our best years, both in attendance and dynamics. The only thing missing was you & Stephanie.

  29. Random A A XtranjJuly 24, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    The Pagan stores which existed in Reno, in my experience, weren't all that capable of counseling anyone anyway, so that part of your premise falls flat. We are integrating the experience of the Internet, and it is having an impact. I feel that the value I used to get buying books from a metaphysical supplies store will be gotten buying e-books.

    I'm not sure that any devout Pagan should be concerned about what the Mainstream thinks of us, or of our practise. I certainly wouldn't do anything with the intent to impress them positively - - - that way lies sheep-mind. I may not be a goat, but I'm certainly not a sheep. (Rogue sheepdog?)

    I don't think that any attempt at 'standandizing depth' is going to succeed, more like produce the Pagan-equivalent of the Christian Fundamentalism movement of the 1900-s. Not a pretty pic. These waves happen, and to resist them is to defeat them. How can anyone long for a group with depth or a book with depth if we don't get to experience not having them around?

    But no worries that I'm going to un-friend you, sir! You are a shining light of depth that I shall always rely on (even if I don't agree with you more than 60%).

    And it seems to me that Pantheacon has gotten bigger every year...

  30. I love what you've written and I do see it from a different perspective though...Witch Craft like everything else is EVOLVING...It must or die...It is really only a 'Frame Work' in which to use or rather show one's self the validity of the natural Universal Laws that work just the same for everyone Witch or Not...and also, I think people are just becoming more and more Free and Eclectic and Creative, not wanting to be bound to a single path that expects things to be done this way or not at all...We are all so unique and individual that that attitude or belief doesn't really ring true anyways...Anyways, I've always loved your books and you gave me a good frame work in which to practice but I've developed my own now but I thank you for what you provided for me in my early days...Love and Light!

  31. It's interesting to see what some people read into my blog statements - things I don't feel I was saying at all. I find that fascinating.

    So, for the record, I don't believe that lineage traditions are the only way to learn everything, or that self study is a waste of time. I also don't feel that people should avoid Internet forums. And yes, there are many ways to learn and to grow. What I encourage is personal experience and not letting the opinion of someone else become yours without being personally informed about the matter at hand.

    On another note, I am at shops all over the Nation, and so a person's experience with his or her local shop may not be representative of the majority. What I find is that the majority are good community resources, but yes some are run by people not particularly possessing good people skills.

    What does not seem to occur to many people is that you can study and learn endlessly, reconstruct from the finest sources, and channel all the time without ever uncovering specific elements of what can be passed of the inner mysteries within lineage initiatory teachings. You can also learn in six months to a year what might otherwise take decades of self study and exploration to uncover or realize. So the matter that I am addressing is not so black and white as it might appear.

  32. Beautifully put, Raven. As a crone, and a very long time believer, I can absolutely relate to what you are saying. I do have authors I will always read, and some I will never buy again, but I have made these decisions on my own. Even at my advanced age, and with quite a bit of knowledge under my belt, I don't tell who and what to buy, to a new Pagan. I will suggest, and guide, if asked, but what works for me, may not for you. I am blessed to have found the best authors, by chance and by luck, and most of those are now friends here on FB! I am truly blessed to have you, and three or four of the best living Pagan writers on my friends list. I sometimes can't believe it, when I see the names of people I truly admire and respect, everyday when I peruse my feed. My dream has been to have my own Pagan shop, but I live in a rural area, and have seen several go out of business quickly, so I don't think this may be the right place, although we do have quite a big Pagan population, most are in nearby cities, where there are many great shops. Bright Blessings, Raven for this wake up call to us! )O(

  33. The nature of Wicca and Witchcraft -and all religion- is changing and this is just simply inevitable. It is not bad, it is evolution. THe people in wicca today are a different breed. We do not look to simply learn traditions of old, but to refresh witchcraft for this generation. Wicca is becoming more eclectic and open source. The older wave of witches need to get online. The book industry is going down all across the board, not just in spiritual literature.

  34. I think the "older wave of witches" are fine just where they are. They keep the roots fed, stay close to the spirit of the land, and honor the ancestral spirit that passed on the ways to begin with.

    Refresh as you wish, and enjoy the opportunities that lay ahead. For myself, I will continue to nurture the roots of the tree that you wish to change into something different.

  35. In my opinion and experience, any mystery that can be taught is not a true mystery no matter what tradition or lineage it comes from. Only a true Seeker, willing to do the Great Work required can experience the Mysteries. This is not to say that "anything goes" -- but to put stock in a tradition simply because it has some sort of established pedigree(60 years is it for Wicca? -- not much!)misses the point entirely. If a true and rooted teacher who can light the path for others to walk down cannot be found, then there are other alternatives to finding the path, and sufficient excellent books to guide the way. And not the twee spell books that pass for magick in this day and age.

  36. Gallisena, no it's not a pedigree issue at all. An initiator who has established the alignments to the inner mysteries, and as a result has experienced them, can certainly teach the way for others to do so as well.

    While it is true that with many years of study and practice a person may be able to penetrate the inner mysteries without the aid of someone who knows the way already, it's not a guarantee. This is why initiators of lineage traditions aren't as expendable as people might like to believe. They have a place and a purpose in the community. I realize that this is an unpleasant idea for some people, or shall I say it's an inconvenient truth. ;)

    1. Of course what is considered "the mysteries" seems to be a bit subjective. For instance as a person who has some understanding of Orphic mysteries from mentors in Hellas (aka Greece) I can say that the material of these is significantly different and more indepth in even in smallest parts that what I have found in initiation traditions. So I would hazard to say that Hellenics (not even specifically just Oprhics) in general may have a different understanding of what the mysteries are and mean. And I imagine this may be the case among various traditions that get unceremoniously lumped under the pagan umbrella.

  37. I haven't read the rest of the comments on this subject, so forgive me if I'm covering old ground here, but I think there is one major contributing factor to the decline of occult publishing that you haven't taken into consideration, and that's the internet. Whilst in the seventies and eighties we went to the burgeoning world of books (at some cost), now we can join occult mailing lists and forums, and have more immediate contact with the people we respect in the area, as well as the power to argue back! This has pros and cons: it creates an immediacy of learning and can lead to great real-world networking, but it also means that thoughts and ideas drift in and out of people's heads easily, and there is little if any incentive to do exercises and put in the actual work, when you can ask someone what happened for them when they tried a particular rite.

    I loved the lesson on recent occult history, BTW - thanks for that! Shall we swap links, your blog and mine? -

  38. Having a decline in the publishing of the same, badly researched, and often misinformed material might be a good thing. I have found that many people that pass my way are specifically looking for hands-on, informed training. They want guidance to navigate through the sea of fluff. Not much has changed in that way. Before, materials were hard to find. Now the good materials are hard to find. At least we do have the broom closet and witchvox to network and find our local groups and stores. I believe we are in the process of a consolidation as we grow to the next cycle. The laiety will always outnumber the priesthood now. How do we disseminate quality training to that growing population? We need local stores as community centers, and we need to be approachable and public as we crystalize the next growth stage for the development of Paganism.
    ---Maggi Setti

    1. The badly researched is my biggest complaint. Alot of statements particular of the ancient gods without any resources, proper citations....and most often utterly made up. And to have people just eat that stuff up and regurgitate it to others is enough to put me off. It is the main reason why I don't interact much with the overall pagan community, don't go to forums, and tend to spend my time with only fellow hellenics who are at least close on the same page. I put a lot of work into my book Crowned with Nine Rays: A guide to a modern worship of Apollon with years of hard research and putting my BA in history to use with said research...but it is a good thing I didn't write to make money lol, because this book while I have sold nearly 50 copies, it doesn't make a lot of money because it is really an indepth intermediate book for Hellenismos and therefore not very marketable and couldnt' even get published by a pagan publisher since it didnt' have a drop of witchcraft in it to meet up with their lineup. So my book is one among many in my own community that is self published (and therefore unfortunately not graced with the benevolence of a good editor so small errors in grammar and spelling may be found if I missed it on one of my many many editings) and typically on read by other Hellenics. Quality books are out there, but fluff tends to sell and much gets rejected. And I am not the only one who just refuses to put witchcraft into my book just to get it published. A book on witchcraft doesn't automaticaly make it a valuable book, and value can be found in spiritual book without the witchcraft element if any cared to take a look at them.

  39. All Hail the King!....Couldn't have said it better myself...Everyone needs to support their local merchants and writers as much as possible. Don't lose your "spark" as a Pagan, delve deeper to see where your "roots" come from. Seek not only the printers of today but also those of the past! After all, where did they get their inspiration from? People need knowledge, knowledge is power and can't we all use just a little these days with all the turmoil surrounding us! READ everyone... lol

  40. Maggi, it's quite true that a decline in "badly researched" or "misinformed" publications would be a good thing. And I believe the same can be said of many opinions on Internet forums.

    Things are definitely changing in the community at large. Whether this is for better or for worse we have yet to see.

    I have seen much over my 40+ years in the Craft and Pagan community. Unfortunately, I am not encouraged for our future.

  41. I've noticed that one thing that has been turning my interest in books is the poor quality of writing. It's hard to take an author, especially one you're new to, seriously if there are grammatical errors beside what could otherwise be a great observation or teaching. I know that this falls into the court of editors, but it feels as if not even the publishers are taking the topics seriously any more, and that anyone with any capacity to make money for them can publish a book on anything.

  42. I am a Pagan Woman soon to turn 50 and although your points are valid to a certain degree there are things that I have to also point out. It is not just New Age shops closing down due to lack of support. Many small businesses have closed down over the past several years. So the economy is a major factor. You also have to take into consideration people like myself who know the spiritual value of creating your own tools, spells and so forth instead of buying them all the time. Not everything you can make, but when you can, it is best.
    I am a writer myself and know how hard it is to get your work out there and to sell. If the demand for it is not there, then perhaps it is time to change with the times. You speak of people tired of reading about the same stuff and thinking there is nothing else more beyond that. Then perhaps writing about the deeper and beyond the common knowledge is something for you to put out.
    As far as people posting about their vacations, movies and etc. You can not hold people accountable for the way they spend their money and post blame that it is because this type of behavior causes a decline in our community.
    People of all religions from time to time become non-practicing. It doesn't mean they gave up their faith. Christians throw guilt trips on their members when they don't go to church all the time and pressure them into money offerings. Let's not become like them. People should want to buy books, go to New Age stores and purchase items on their own. Not out of pressure, or guilt that they are not supporting their Pagan community.

  43. I think feelings of guilt arise within people due to whatever wounds still seep within them, and not because of any specific statement someone might make in their presence. Whenever someone tells me that I made them feel angry or guilty, I always reply "No, you did that yourself. Without intent, I just incidentally opened the door to where you store it".

    There are basic truths, tribal truths, that exist within any society that is to survive. The primary one is support the tribe, help each other, and stand together in adversity. If that is undue pressure, or even something we regard as pressure, then we are worse off than we can imagine.

    For myself, as a writer, I am putting out deeper material each time I produce a book. My forthcoming book 'Old World Witchcraft' is one example that presents not only fresh material but things rarely seen in publication.

    I understand that some people want to keep me frozen in time and hold me accountable now for things I believed and wrote about decades before. But even authors can grow, mature, and evolve.

    I think the point of my blog is becoming lost in a series of knee-jerk reactions to sensitive feelings that people are holding on to, but which have little to do with my posts. My point is that we need to pull together and support each other. My point was not to try and shake people free of their money and pressure them to buy books. My core concern is about what I see moving to the endangered species list in our community.

  44. Many solitaries would love to have access to a coven or a mentor. There just don't seem to be enough of them to go around. Some covens are too wrapped up in the politics of it all, or are too elitist for solitaries to get close to. We are willing to learn, who is willing to teach?

  45. Tattooed Witch, I agree, but the good news is that there are several good Course of Study programs online operated by seasoned practitioners. Yes, people have to pay (gasp) and have to do the work (double gasp) but it beats stumbling around in the dark looking for the light switch. :-)

  46. I support what the previous "Anonymous" just said. (And I just turned 50, must be a trend.)

    I think one of the major issues in our community, with goods and stores and classes and such, is simply that we are on "overwhelm." I speak for myself, but based on what seekers are telling me, I am not alone. When I look at the sheer volume of what's been published (whether good, bad, or mediocre): how can someone possibly keep buying and reading all these books; when will they get time to actually practice and absorb what the books are teaching? Answer: NEVER, especially if, like most people, you hold down any kind of job, go to school, act as parent or caregiver, or have any kind of mundane life.

    Raven, these deeper books you have been publishing -- I hate to tell you this, but they're going to appeal to a much smaller audience because there just aren't as many people who are ready to do this deeper work, and even at best their numbers are not likely to grow by much, because what I am seeing is that even the best seekers and most dedicated people are struggling to maintain their spiritual life in the face of daily life activities (or one very busy job), parenting, caregiving, commuting, etc. Despite common belief, the number of people who are really swamped by life is greater than the number of dilettantes who can't make spirituality a priority.

    Similarly, with no disrespect to store owners who feel unsupported: folks, any given Witch only needs so many oils and incenses and crystals and altar items and other Pagan tchotchkes. I love our local stores. They are AWESOME. They generously support the small festivals our trad puts on twice a year. But I look around at my house, and we already have more magickal stuff than we are ever going to use. Then I feel guilty for not buying more, but I'd rather spend my money on rain barrels to conserve water, putting in a new garden, and building a retirement account.

    The same applies to classes, workshops, festivals, and so forth.

    This dizzying explosion took place largely under Pluto in Sagittarius. Witchcraft has a significant Underworld component so I think our movement is especially sensitive to this planet. Pluto in Capricorn is providing painful, but probably necessary, Saturnian correction to the Jupiterian overabundance we saw from 1995 to 2008. It's affecting the rest of society, too, and like it or not, we're embedded in that society.

    At the same time, our religion has more than a typical share of highly creative people producing art, music, writing, liturgy, oils, incenses, etc. Of course we all acknowledge creativity needs support in order not to flicker out. I note that Saturn, which is supplying correction to so many years of Jupiter exuberance, is also currently in Libra, the sign of balance, which is associated with creativity and relationship.

    Now our challenge is to figure out how to create and sustain community under these Saturnian conditions; how to maintain good meeting places and really come together to support each other outside the context of leisure or consumption. And how to support our artists and authors when we ourselves are struggling to give ourselves the time, space, and energy to have a meaningful spiritual life.

    Instead of berating ourselves and our community members for failing to ante up the money, perhaps we need to acknowledge that the old models aren't working right now; trust that this is a necessary part of the cycle, just as Samhain and Winter are necessary parts of the Wheel of the Year; and begin to brainstorm on newer, more sustainable models that will help us become a stronger and deeper community over the next couple of decades.

    Any Winter is a scary time, and while we celebrate Death in our Mysteries, when the Ferryman comes knocking we are loath to answer the door. Let's be gentle with ourselves and each other through these difficult times.

    Eternal Harvest Tradition

  47. Like with most things that are in a state of growth, I think the Pagan community is growing and this brings about much change. Each generation (much like you said) has a different set of skills and conditioning. The newer generations of practitioners are bound to be different in some ways than those of their elders. This is not just a Pagan thing. If some of my ancestors saw the way that the youth were acting today, they would gasp. I think the elders also have to work towards a place of understanding and both sides need to find the medium in between. This is the growing pains of a growing community.

    As for festivals around the world, I am not sure of the attendance at different places but out here in California, Pantheacon was booming and attendance continues to rise.


  48. GreenFame, I agree with you on many points. Thanks for posting. I agree that things have been over saturated, which was one of the points in my blog here. And yes, we need to be creative in these hard times.

    As to my books themselves, I learned long ago that what I have to share is not as popular as the syrupy books and therefore do not sell anywhere near as well. In principle, Fast Food places always do more business than do fine restaurants. I accept that, but I'm not willing to write Witch Crap books in order to try and survive economically.

    I also know that my material is often misunderstood by many people, and when it's not, it is more often misrepresented on the Internet forums. That's a bit harder to accept, but that seems to be the way of things.

    The best any of us can do, in the final analysis, is to do what we believe is best for us and those around us. The worst we can do is step back and let others try to take care of things and then hope it results in something beneficial for ourselves.

  49. Raven, I respect you and have enjoyed reading a couple of your book, but I think you've missed the mark here. Sales of these books aren't related to lack of interest, but rather lack of money. Repetitive information from the same authors doesn't add value to the market and experienced readers grow weary, of course their going to tell potential readers to not bother. Rather than write a very long comment, I posted my thoughts on my own blog.

  50. And of course you cannot and should not write the Witch Crap (great phrase). You must write what They tell you to write.

    At the least, I'm glad to see all this come up in dialog on this, and other blogs and commentaries.

  51. in relation to this blog post of yours here, this one by Dr. Brendan Myers may be of interest to you. He says it is a reply to yours.

  52. "Local communities have withdrawn their monetary support of local New Age and Witch Shops, and all across the country many are going out of business. This is a yet fully realized tragedy for these communities. While it is true that you can buy a book cheaper on, or buy a candle cheaper at a discount store, and the Discount store don't care about your spirituality and won't take the time to council you in a crisis, or help you network with others of like mind. Saving a dollar or two that results in losing your local shop seems counterproductive."

    This is quite true, that so many of our local shops, the places that we often tended to frequent, have gone away, and still are. It is great that I can shop online, and find the same items, in their virtual shops, but its not the same as when you can get to touch-and-feel, know the energy of the item, chat with the shop-keeper, etc. Then again, there have been far too many places that I have gone, that the "shop-keeper" behind the counter knows little more than a typical cashier, and has less people skills than many cashiers.

    This seems to be true of most stores, of any type, today, when you think about it. Its like going into wally-mart to buy your American Flag, because its cheaper and more convenient than anywhere else now, only to find they are all "made in china". Too sad when we would rather buy a less expensive tool, mass produced, than say, a handcrafted wand or athame. When so many of the shops now have those mass produced items, and canned knowledge to dish out, and are really trying to get you to buy the spell kit rather than give advice on how to create your own way... well that is why things are drifting away from Spirituality.

    When we can recognize that it is just as important to support our local artisans (just as much as it is to support the local farms for our food sources), and not look for the "easy way out", maybe we can start to find a resurgence in the Spiritual Path. <3

  53. Popping back in to say that I think this dialogue is great. I am intrigued by GreenFlame's comment about saving money to buy a rain barrel. It strikes really close to home and, I think, to the heart of where some Pagans are right now. The rituals and spells and deity systems are good and true and right for some people, but the magic of the seasons and nurturing the earth is a HUGE part of modern Paganism and perhaps those who wish to be purveyors of Pagan goods could latch on a bit more to those concepts. Just a thought...

  54. S.L Aeris, your intelligent reply to this topic and your insights into community are profound...oh, wait a minute, no, you're a moron, so never mind.

  55. Most of the Pagan books (most NOT all) are all just rehashed Magick 101 books. They all say the same thing. That's not what I'm looking for. Occasionally I do find a book that has something new and interesting to say, and then I buy it. For the most part, though, I just stick to periodicals. They are much more relevant to me now that I'm not in the Magick 101 stage anymore.

  56. Raven , Thank you for writing this insightful piece . Although I do not completely share your prognostication , I do see a great deal of truth in what you have written . I am a solitary by nature these days , but experiences in the pagan community have contributed to my solitary path as well . So be it , that is where I am meant to be , and I am deeply content in my path. I am not looking or seeking another path , and I am also deeply grateful for that .
    Part of what I see happening around me and what I have seen and experienced in the past is not only a lack of anything new to say on the part of many pagans , but as you said a lack of anything of substance . I wish that were the only thing I have seen but I have to say I have also experienced outright hostility from some pagan communities . I have also experienced loving and caring and shared experiences but those have seemed fewer and rarer than the former .
    One example I can give you is the reception at an unnamed online pagan community that I received after announcing that a pagan classical composer from the UK had written a neo- pagan symphony based on an experience I had at Stonehenge ; and I had participated in the writing . The Symphony Of The Stones is a four movement classical beautifully written piece , in which at one point there is a part that sounds like a pagan drum circle drumming with a symphony orchestra. In my naivete and excitement at having participated in this work , I announced it at a certain community . I received the most scathing hostility ,criticism and ostracism I think I have ever experienced on line . I was embarrassed that I had introduced my friend to that place and never went back . FYI the music is not now and never has been for sale , but is free to the public as a shared experience . I understand this response as a result of a closed knit community with group think , but that is not the only community where that dynamic prevails , and that is just part of the problem.
    I am one of those pagans who had no formal training , but what I also see are pagan groups emulating the structure of many of the churches of already organized religions around pagan deities. and I find this as restricting as the original religions , but maybe that is just me .
    Perhaps many of the seekers have left for pastures with more instant gratification and what we are experiencing is more of a consolidation than disintegration .
    I for one am not going anywhere the GODDESSS doesn't take me ;) Also, I am in the process of writing a small book on a new perspective on pagan astrology , so I hope you think I have something worthwhile to contribute when I get it published.

  57. Swannie, you make some excellent points, thanks. I remember once suggesting in a forum that the community pull together and light a "need fire" to renew a situation (as they did in Days of Old). I proposed some sacred woods to be used for the fire (another ancient tradition). But what happened is that people began arguing about which woods to use, and arguing about traditional lists of woods in a "I'm right you're wrong" way. And the idea of the healing needfire itself disappeared.

    I later received mean-spirited emails attacking me, saying "Who are you to say we should a light a needfire". Wow....

  58. First off I must state that I don't belong to a "craft" religion, rather I follow Hellenismos and learned Orphism from mentors in Hellas and in my own studies. I have been part of initiate traditions when I was younger and found them unsatisfying and that most of the initiate material was stuff that I already knew from my own research and therefore didn't bring any depth to my understanding and yet that others cared less about classical history and mysteries and therefore were uninviting towards my insights.
    "Pagan" publishing is an issue, but you must realize that most people who are in non-craft polytheistic religions often must resort of self-publishing because no one wants our books. Publishers reject them for not being in the same vein of other books they are putting out and so "don't match their lineup." This is very discouraging to Hellenists who have decades of experience with their gods and research who can't even get their material to be fairly looked over by an editor. My own book was not rejected because of any problems with the book or with the content itself but more or less because it wasn't a witchcraft book. The result is that publishers are only putting out a certain selection of books and entirely alienating segments of the so-called "pagan" audience. Our books become insulated in our own communities and are rarely carried by local fact I would venture to say that they never are.
    These leads me to comment on what you are saying about local pagan shops...ideally we would all love to put our money in our local economies but realistically when a spiritual store does not carry anything that would even remotely attract a worshiper...well then there is nothing that draws our money there. Non-witchcraft practing individuals who are lumped under the pagan umbrella are not going to feel inclined to purchase things for magic and most statuary in those stores are targeted towards wiccans and witchcraft associated traditions. Again not something that appeals to those ofus not of that inclination. Therefore we are swept aside and we take our dollars elsewhere. I put money in my local economy but I will be the first to admit it is not at a local pagan shop...rather it is an import shop of arts of india because most of these are more applicable in my worship practices.
    So the problem goes a little deeper.

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