Modern witch and pagan publisher finds magic in her craft

By Dillon Pilorget | The Oregonian/OregonLive 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
on September 30, 2015 at 5:00 AM, updated September 30, 2015 at 5:07 AM 
This is a reprint article, see the orignal at: 
For tips on protecting your house with Voodoo or spicing up your cooking with magic, look no further than the most recent issue of Witches & Pagans magazine.
It's a niche publication, to be sure. But it's not so obscure that you can't find it at Barnes & Noble.
This duplicity is by design. The magazine's editor, publisher, designer and witch-in-chief, Anne Newkirk Niven, wants Witches & Pagans to be her community's journal of record while staying accessible to curious outsiders.
After all, if she could become a witch, so could anybody.
Once on track to become a United Methodist minister, Newkirk Niven "came out of the broom closet" about 30 years ago after feeling the need for feminine divinity. "As a human woman, I found it really difficult to always relate to God as a guy," she said.
Most pagans believe in at least one God and one Goddess, so Newkirk Niven found what she was looking for in Wicca, a pagan denomination commonly equated to witchcraft.
Today, Newkirk Niven publishes Witches & Pagans quarterly from her home in Forest Grove, with help from her husband and adult son. Freelance contributors fill its pages with personal essays and practical write-ups, keeping approximately 15,000 worldwide subscribers up to date on spells and theistic trends within their realm.
Her whole pagan publishing project goes back to the late 1980s, when the printing company she ran with her husband contracted with the former publisher of SageWoman magazine. In 1990, Newkirk Niven bought the magazine, and producing it and a few others here and there has been a full-time job since.
Witches & Pagans came about a few years ago, and it's currently the only other magazine besides SageWoman that Newkirk Niven publishes with her company, BBI Media.
Like her readers, Newkirk Niven is an ordinary person with a less-ordinary way of approaching religious worship and everyday obstacles. Her hat is not pointy, and her laugh is more a hearty chuckle than a wicked cackle. She doesn't fly on broomsticks, and they don't terrorize New England pilgrim settlements.
"We're not in Harry Potter world," Newkirk Niven said. "Honestly, I have never, ever seen Disney-style magic."
Still, in a playful nod to her fictional brethren, she does keep a black cat at home to ward off mice.
Most modern witches, both male and female, do magic by channeling their focus into aligning themselves with the universe, Newkirk Niven said. This comes from the largely pagan belief that the earth and the universe are conscious and able to interact with humanity.
By learning to read natural omens and using rhymes or objects as mere devices for intensifying focus, Newkirk Niven said witches can open their awareness of the universe's workings to their benefit. Spells can help their casters find a job or avoid injury. Hexing, or magic done against another, is a last resort and firmly frowned upon, she said.
"I think of it as probability enhancement," Newkirk Niven said. "It's always subtle."
Like the increasingly less profitable world of print publishing, magic is no way to get rich quick or realize your wildest dreams.
"If it was, wouldn't we all be sitting in mansions? I'd be on the beach in Bermuda with my feet up," Newkirk Niven said.
"Obviously the world doesn't work that way."
Newkirk Niven said she's content to live out her days keeping her counterparts informed and casting the occasional spell, even without the mansion and beachside lounging. 
"I love words, I love religion, and I'm pagan," she said. "What the heck? I'm in my dream job."
--Dillon Pilorget

On being a Zebra in a herd of Horses.

Naming ourselves “Witches” paints a great big bull’s-eye on our backs. So why do we keep doing it?

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?”

Read more: On being a Zebra in a herd of Horses.

The Ocean is in Motion…

When the waters get rough, we might be tempted to throw in the towel on Pagan unity.

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, 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.

Read more: The Ocean is in Motion…

We Are What We Eat: Food Choices in Earth Religion

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.

Editorial Note:
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.

Read more: We Are What We Eat: Food Choices in Earth Religion

Poetry Guidelines

Witches & Pagans Poetry Guidelines

Witches&Pagans covers the Pagan, Heathen, Wiccan and polytheist communities; our readership includes Gaians, Pagans, Scientific Pantheists, Quakers, Christians, atheists, and others. Witches&Pagans gladly accepts contributions of poetry relevant to our subject matter and goals. Please include your preferred contact information and a brief bio with all submissions. We need your check-cashing name, pen name if you use one, postal address, email address, phone number, and a brief bio. Put that at the top of the manuscript itself, not just the email message to which the file is attached. We cannot accept submissions without a way to reach you! See our general guidelines for details about anonymity.

Magazine Needs: Witches&Pagans accepts poetry in a wide range of forms and styles, but we are very selective. (We have to be; we only have room for a few poems per issue, and we receive a lot more than that.) The technical aspects of your work must be flawless. If it's supposed to have a specific meter or number of syllables, count them on your fingers if that's what it takes. If it's supposed to rhyme, the rhymes should be perfect unless you deliberately use near-rhyme in a consistent way. If you can’t handle rhyme or meter well, try free verse instead. If you use a specific form, such as a sonnet, then you must follow its rules precisely.

Please make sure you send us material relevant to our coverage. We get a lot of feminist, fluffy New Age, Christian, and random literary poems that we can’t use. We rarely use straight nature poetry, either, which is probably our biggest single category of off-topic submissions. Poetry for Witches&Pagans needs to have a definite spiritual/magical aspect, and usually – though not always – a Pagan motif. Poetry matching one of our upcoming themes is especially welcome.

General Tips: Writing good poetry takes practice, so don’t be surprised if it takes you several attempts before we accept one of your poems. Although Witches&Pagans has very high standards for acceptance, you do not have to be published or even experienced to submit material for our consideration, so take a chance and show us what you can do. Here are some helpful ideas on expanding your poetic knowledge and skills:

1) Get to know poetry. The more you read, the better your discernment will get, telling you what’s good and what’s not. Read both classic and contemporary poetry, especially in the field(s) you want to write. 2) Study the literary techniques used in poetry so that you understand how they're supposed to work. Then you’ll have a better idea what can go wrong and how to fix it, when it comes time to revise your poems. 3) Talk about poetry with other poets, editors, and Pagans. It's fun, and broadens your analytical skills. An ideal way to do this is to join a poet’s group, or a general writer’s group that welcomes poets. There you can have discussions and critique each other’s work. 4) Watch for poetry workshops, panels, readings, and other activities at whatever magical/spiritual events you attend. With the right group of people, you can learn a lot in just one or two hours. 5) Don't be afraid if an editor requests changes in a poem you’ve submitted; you can discuss whether or not you agree. Don't be afraid to edit your own poetry. In fact, don't be afraid of poetry.

Length: Usually we publish short to medium poems, but a really good poem has a chance even if it's longer. We suggest a maximum length of 100 lines per poem; please bear in mind that we are more likely to publish shorter rather than longer poems, as Witches&Pagans does not specialize in this type of writing. The average length for a poem is 22 lines; most are between 20-30 lines; we’ve published a few gems under 15 lines. Ideally a poem should fit in one column of one page. Witches&Pagans usually prints 2-5 poems per issue.

Compensation: As a community resource, Witches&Pagans does not pay cash for submissions, but we will send you two (2) copies of the issue in which your poetry appears, as well as a 1 year (3 issues) subscription. Other exchanges, such as gift subscriptions or advertising space, may be discussed with the editor, Anne Newkirk Niven.

Rights: Witches&Pagans requires the following rights for publication: onetime digital and periodical rights for publication in a single issue of the magazine (in its print and digital formats). All other rights revert to the author.

Submissions: Include a cover letter with your contact information and a few words about yourself. Witches&Pagans does not accept simultaneous submissions, nor unsolicited reprints or reworkings. Submit 3-5 poems at a time. The best format is an rtf file attached to an email message; another good one is plain text pasted directly into an email message. Submissions should go to:

Anne Newkirk Niven


P O Box 687
Forest Grove, OR 97116.

Additional information