Witches, like terrorists, “threaten to wipe out everything you believe in. If they could, they would overthrow your government, overturn your faith, and destroy your society,” Baker writes. The difference, of course, is that terrorists are real, while witches are not.
— Jennifer Latson (October 28, 2014) Time magazine
Why Witches on TV Spell Trouble in Real Life
It seems safe to say that the U.S. doesn’t suffer from an epidemic of magical evil-doers, but until last week, Americans were far more likely to believe in witches than to worry about contracting Ebola.
— Derek Thompson (October 20, 2014) The Atlantic
The Dangerous Myth of America's Ebola Panic
Why do they hate us so much?” This plaintive query surfaced yesterday during a discussion of the Time magazine essay I’ve quoted above. This puzzled lament came from a mature, well-spoken witch of my acquaintance.
I’ll admit, I punted. “Read my editorial in the upcoming issue,” I responded, thus drop-kicking my response downfield for a later play. Well, time is up, and here’s my response: “You claim the title of witch. Why on Earth wouldn’t you expect to be hated?”
Nature gave us a world full of beauty and pleasure to delight and nurture us. All She asks is that we appreciate these many wonders, that we dance, sing, feast, make music, and love, all in Her honor.
I had not heard from my friend (and former PanGaia columnist) Judy Harrow in several years when she emailed me this essay, which she wanted to submit for this issue. I was so excited to hear from her that I responded by giving her a call at once. During our conversation, she expressed the hope that, since she was feeling better, she would soon be able to write and participate in the Pagan community more. I promised to publish her essay, expressed my enthusiasm for her improved health, and said good-bye.
Less than a month later, I was shocked to hear of her death in her sleep at the age of 69. Judy was one of the most unique, compassionate, and loving Pagans I have had the pleasure to know, and I wish to honor her memory by highlighting her words here.
Good journey to the Summerlands, Judy. Come back to us soon.
Anne Newkirk Niven
I eat every day. You probably do, too. The mundane routines of grocery shopping, cooking, eating, and dishwashing take hours out of each week. There’s no activity more ordinary, none more secular. And yet, these very acts directly connect my body to the body of Mother Earth. By eating, I accept Her gifts. For a tree-hugging Pagan like me, the process of feeding myself, done with care and attention, is profoundly spiritual.
But what the fracas really means is that we are growing up enough to realize that we don't all think alike.
There's nothing like trying to be a peacemaker on the Web to give a person a first-rate migraine, and I'm just getting over a doozy. So please forgive me if I "share my pain" with all of you.
First, a bit of background: our Witches&Pagans website now hosts one of the largest Pagan blogospheres on the planet, PaganSquare.com. With over a hundred poets, mystics, pundits, prognosticators, and magicians all rubbing shoulders, there's bound to be a bit of friction.
But earlier this summer, things at PaganSquare got downright testy. It pained me, a Libra Sun Hufflepuff peacemaker, to see my friends going at it hammer-and-tongs in my own house (which is how I rather possessively saw the site). Looking back, I now realize how naive it was to assume that just because everyone on the site was fine with me that they would all get along just peachy with one another.
As most readers of this magazine are undoubtedly aware, we Pagans had a wee bit of media attention earlier this spring. A “Fox and Friends” segment in February characterized Wiccans as “compulsive Dungeons and Dragons players or middle-aged, twice-divorced older rural women working as midwives.” The reaction in the Pagan community was nothing short of explosive: within days, more than 40,000 of us signed petitions at change.org and causes.com demanding an apology. In less than a week, a chastened Fox pundit offered his “sincere [ahem] regrets.”
Another triumph for truth, justice, and the American way? Well, maybe. As soon as the brouhaha blew up I was struck by how much attention was being paid to Fox & Friends’ trollish shenanigans and how little to the good news that formed the actual foundation of the story. The decision by the University of Missouri to include Wiccan holidays in their inter-faith campus calendar is a concrete example of the increasingly respectful treatment that Pagan faiths are receiving these days, the fruit of decades of anti-defamation work by groups like the Lady Liberty League. But in spite of this genuinely excellent news, there was hardly a mention of this angle of the story in the coverage by Pagan pundits. With the notable exception of the Covenant of the Goddess — which made a thank-you to the University part of their press release — the buzz consisted almost entirely of righteous indignation.
An “Airhead” Comes to the Goddess
From the breath in our lungs to the towers of academe, Air affects us all.
The element of Air has a wide range of associations in modern neo-Pagan usage: it is the element of new beginnings, of flying/ feathered creatures, and of the mind. In my personal West-Coast eclectic practice, Air is also associated with the direction of the East. Above all, to me, Air represents the qualities of all things ordered and classified by the intellect. Its emblematic tool is the athame — the ceremonial black-handled, double-bladed, unsharpened ritual dagger of Wiccan regalia — which represents the “sharpness” of the well-disciplined mind.
As a native “Airhead” (my sun and Mars are both in Libra, with my moon in Gemini) religion has long been an intellectual obsession. Even as a child, my tendency to argue and joust over points of theology got me into trouble. (In fact, my first skirmish with fundamentalism happened in third grade, when I got my whole family bounced out of a church for arguing theology with my Sunday School teacher .)
This fascination with religion led me on a merry chase from middle-of-the-road Protestantism through C.S. Lewis-influenced Anglicism to the progressive wing of the United Methodist church. That was where the Goddess found me, deep in the bowels of the Graduate Theological Union library on “Holy Hill” in Berkeley in the fall of 1985.
Our treatment of Pagan prisoners and ex-cons is a litmus test of a sustainable Pagan culture.
This was supposed to have been the “Law & Chaos” issue of Witches & Pagans but it turned out more like the “Law & Order” issue. I always imagined that — like the dual-themed PanGaia #37 (“Good and Evil”) which turned out to simply be the “Evil” issue — that one side of this topic would overwhelm the other, but I never imagined that the forces of Law would prevail.
Once upon a Full Moon, not so very long ago, Paganism2 (at least on the West Coast) was all about “running nekkid through the woo-ids/drinking fermented fluids,”3 but everywhere I look today I see attempts to bring order to that juicy-but-hard-to-sustain chaotic culture. Whatever happened to Hippy-Dippy Paganism?