Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Makes a Friendly Rhetorical Suggestion

Gentle reader, kindly entertain a well-intentioned suggestion.

The next time that you're thinking about beginning a sentence with one of the following phrases:

Well, in my tradition, we... or

In [name of tradition], we... or 

As a [title] of X tradition, I...

...remember the word of a bard, and Don't do it.

Sentences begun in this way are intended to sound authoritative.

But they don't. 

Instead, sentences like these come across as 1) pompous, 2) dogmatic, and 3) condescending.

Worst of all, they change the subject.

Say we were talking about athames. I say: Well, in Cracked Cauldron Tradition, we..... Regardless of what follows, the subject is no longer athames. Now we're talking about Cracked Cauldron tradition and its presumed superiority to whatever it is that you do.

And alienating your listener virtually guarantees that your ideas won't get a fair hearing.

Some much more effective opening strategies:

1) Cite a specific source. Uncle Gerald always used to say that....

2) Speak from your own experience. I've always thought that.....

3) Tell a story. The way I heard it was that....

That way, chances are much better that they'll actually hear what you say, instead of just how you said it.

Rhetoric is the art of effective verbal communication. Ars celere artis: the art lies in making it seem like there is none.

At least, that's what we say in my tradition.











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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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