Experimental Magic: The Evolution of Magic

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You are a public face for Paganism at Conventions

I recently attended Convocation for the first time. I was having dinner one night at the restaurant and I talked with my waiter for a bit about the convention. She asked me if I thought that she and her co-worker would be accepted if they visited the vendor room to look around and I told her that I thought it would be fine (The vendor room was open to the public as far as I knew). I thought about that conversation later on and how in that moment I was a public face for Paganism. And how at any convention that is hosted in a space such as a hotel, all of us are public faces of Paganism, even if we don't realize we are. The public space we are in is not solely a Pagan space. It is shared space and the impressions we make on the hotel staff and other guests matter.

When I'm at an event or anywhere really, I behave the way I'd want other people to behave toward me. I'm courteous to the staff, acknowledge the work they are doing and do my best to be mindful of my behavior and how others might perceive it. Now it's true that I'm at a convention to have fun, but  I also want to make a good impression because the staff and guests will come away from those experiences with their own perceptions about Pagans. And likely they'll already have some assumptions and beliefs about us based on their own spiritual beliefs, etc. However I think that how we act in public is important.

When I spoke to that waiter, I was polite and friendly and answered her questions. I don't know what she believed or thought, but I did know she was curious and I also knew that what I said in that moment could make an impression. I think I made a positive impression because she seemed more comfortable afterwards with the idea of visiting the vendor room. Now I don't know if she and her co-worker did visit or what they thought, but I would like to think that by making a positive impression I did show her that Pagans aren't so strange or different and that we're worthy of being treated with consideration.

So if you go to conventions, have fun, but remember that when you interact with staff or other guests you are representing Paganism to the public. Be polite, and if you are asked a question take the time to answer, but think about what you'll say and don't say something to freak the person out. The impressions we make can either help us go back to that hotel in the future or have the hotel manager ask us to take our business elsewhere (I remember a convention in Portland where that happened). Lets make a good impression.

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Taylor Ellwood is the author of Pop Culture Magic Systems, Space/Time Magic, Magical Identity and a number of other occult books. He posts about his latest projects at Magical Experiments.


  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Monday, 24 February 2014

    Excellent, rational advice which is so self-evident that I'm always amazed at how many people need to have it pointed out to them! It applies to all representatives of all paths. I was attracted to become a Rosicrucian because of a warm, life-affirming Rosicrucian I met in the 1970's - while at the same time I was totally turned off of Scientology by two self-centered, cynical, egocentric Scientologists I met. How can people not understand that the image they present to the world also reflects on their religion or metaphysical organization?

  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood Tuesday, 25 February 2014

    Hello Ted,

    Unfortunately many people don't realize it. Which is why it's occasionally good to point it out.

  • Mariah Sheehy
    Mariah Sheehy Wednesday, 26 February 2014

    Thank you. I have seen this point made many times but you made it *without stigmatizing certain groups some Pagans try to distance themselves from. You can be eccentric and belong to various alternative subcultures and politely get along with more mainstream folks.

  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood Wednesday, 26 February 2014

    I don't think it's helpful to stigmatize people. As long as all of can remember that we're in a public space and behave accordingly I think any convention can be a PR success as well as a success for the convention goers.

  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys Wednesday, 26 February 2014

    I agree it's important to be cognizant of the impressions we make on others, whether we're representing ourselves, our beliefs or an organization. I'll go even further and suggest that courtesy and respect are important regardless of whom you're representing. People who work hard in the service industries (and any profession, for that matter) appreciate positive feedback and cordial behavior. One could also talk about karma, but really, being friendly and civil to others is its own reward, regardless of the context. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood Thursday, 27 February 2014

    Having worked a number of jobs over the year where I was retail, I always remember how people treated me and make the effort in turn to treat other people in such professions with respect and dignity. They work hard.

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