We begin 2022 by chatting with Don Martin, author of the book The Dabbler’s Guide to Witchcraft (published under the pen name Fire Lyte). Don talks about social media and magical spirituality, the value of skepticism, and the role of popular culture in spiritual spaces.
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Title music is “Woman Blues,” by Paul Avgerinos. All music is licensed from Audio Socket. Incidental music is Jonathan Headley, “Diem” licensed from Audio Socket, and “Brushed Bells Leaving Home,” by Daniel Burch, used under a CC 2.0 license from the Free Music Archive.
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I just wanted to let you all know I’ve got posts coming, really I do (about 1800 words on one post, plus some book reviews and another post in the draft stage). However, I’ve also got lots of other things going on, including editing the August episode, which I hope you’ll enjoy, and getting started with the Ph.D. program. Laine is also very busy baking another human being in her proverbial oven, so please forgive her if she’s not around for a bit (she still gets emails and appreciates them greatly!).
I also wanted to let you all know about some upcoming events where you’ll be able to vent your frustrations with my slow blogging directly to me, in person! I’ll be at two upcoming events in late August/early September for those who want to come see me.
First, I’ll have a booth at thePhiladelphia Pagan Pride Day on August 30th (see website for location and details). This event is going to be lovely, with classes on Manx folklore, playing card reading (no, not me teaching, though I’d love to attend), children’s activities, and lots more. My booth will (hopefully) have a small traveling museum of North American magical artifacts I’ve pieced together, and I’d love to chat with anyone about folk magic or other such things. Plus, I’ll be trying to collect some area folklore as well, so if you stop by please take a moment to speak into the mic (though you are not obligated to do so, of course). This year’s PPPD is benefiting the Mazzoni Center Food Bank, Forgotten Cats, Books Through Bars, and In-Reach Heathen Prison Services, so please bring donations for any of those fine organizations.
Next, I’m tentatively planning to be at the upcoming Pagan Podkin Super Moot #5 in Chicago! Fire Lyte, who is hosting the PPSM event this year, has generously offered to share his booth at the Chicago Pagan Pride Day on Sunday, September 14th, in Oak Park, Illinois, and I may try to bring that traveling museum along with me for that trip, too. I’m still waiting for a few pieces to fall into place for this even to be a go for me, but right now it looks very likely that I’ll be attending. Other podkin attending include Fire Lyte, Velma Nightshade, Peter Paddon, Dr. Hob & Dean from Lamplighter Blues, Faelyn from the Kindle Witch. A few other folks are tentative as well, so this is a good chance to meet folks if you live anywhere near Chicago.
So, that’s our current situation. If I get invitations for other events or chances to come out and meet fans and friends of the show, I’ll definitely keep you posted! For now, please stop by if you’re near either of those events, and I’ll look forward to seeing you soon!
This episode features an extended discussion with Fire Lyte of Inciting a Riot about the recent Slender Man stabbing incident, mental health and treatment, folk belief, and faith-directed action in the magical spirituality community.
While the discussion ranges widely, here are some highlights:
If you don’t already listen to Fire Lyte’s show, Inciting a Riot, you should check it out
The primary story we’re discussing is the Slender Man stabbing incident. While I cannot guarantee every subsection of the NBC news feed on the subject protects the rights of the minors involved, at least at a high level it doesn’t seem to broadcast names, so I’m linking there if you want more on that incident.
If you want to know more about Slender Man, I’d recommend the Wikipedia page, the Something Awful form (NSFW), and/or Creepypasta. Just please remember, this is an internet meme/netlore. Please DO NOT take these sites as gospel or hurt anyone because of what you find on them. They are ENTERTAINMENT ONLY.
Tonight we’re responding to a pair of conversations from other shows on witchy aesthetics and the mechanics of magic. First, we’ll look at some ideas about fashion and self-image brought up by Scarlet’s Lakefront Pagan Voice show, then touch on the functional structures of folk magic with reference to a recent Inciting a Brewhaha episode.
Cory mentions the recent Star Magic course he took with the lovely Bri Saussy as part of his “What’s in Your Cauldron?” He also mentions the New Orleans Wish Dog he’s using as part of a sweetening work.
Due to his recent illness, Peter Paddon of The Crooked Path will not be attending, but will be with us in spirit. Mojo and Sparrow of The Wigglian Way also had to bow out, but are sending their love our way.
The actual meet-and-greet day is Saturday, October 6th, at The Mystic Dream in Walnut Creek, CA. We’ll have two meet-and-greet sessions, one around noon and another around 3pm. In between, we’ll have mini-classes done by some of the podkin, including:
1. “Magical Interwebs: Learning to Research your Path Beyond the 101 Books,” presented by Fire Lyte of Inciting a Riot. (around 12:30pm – 1:00pm)
2. “The Clear Moon Brings Rain: Omens, Signs, & Superstitions in Everyday Life,” presented by Cory of New World Witchery, (around 1:00-1:30pm)
3. “Dancing the Body Divine,” presented by Saturn Darkhope of Pennies in the Well: (from about 2:00-3:00pm)
We’re also hoping to do a panel discussion with all the podcasters around 3:30pm, and (fingers crossed) we may try to record some of that, though we do have some limitations on recording equipment in this particular situation (not everyone will have mic). But at the very least, this should be a lot of fun!
We have some wonderful sponsors for the swag bags this year. We’re planning to give away at least one of those bags to a lucky listener who attends our meet-and-greet, which will include items from:
Even though it sounds like a Japanese-import video game from the 90’s, the title of this blog post actually refers to the annual gathering of Pagan and magically-minded podcasters which is in its third year now. A number of podcasters have already been mentioning the event, but we only nailed down final details in the past few days. This year’s event is going to be in the San Francisco area, so if you’re out California way, come on by! We’ll be having a meet-and-greet as usual, which will also involve the opportunity to win some swag from some of the Moot sponsors (see below for a complete list and copious thanks to them). The date of the meet-and-greet is Saturday, October 6th, and we’re tentatively saying we’ll be there from 1pm to 4pm, though we may wind up sticking around a little longer.
Our meet-and-greet is going to be on Saturday, Oct. 6th at The Mystic Dream in Walnut Creek, CA, and they’ve been very accommodating to us so far, so we’re thrilled to be there!
They’ve all been incredibly generous with us, and they’re almost all small shops/publishers/artists who can use some support, so please surf over to them and check out what they have.
If you’re going to be coming to the meet-and-greet, please let me know! I’d love to plan to meet you and maybe even get the chance to sit and chat a while! You can leave a comment on this post or drop me an email. You can also keep up to date on the plans and details of the events at www.paganpodkin.com.
If you’ve not seen already, I was recently featured as a guest on Fire Lyte’s show, Inciting a Riot. The focus was on the African Diaspora traditions like Lukumi, Palo, Candomble, and Vodoun (he jokingly referred to me as an “expert” on these, which I am NOT; but I did do a good bit of research for the show so I think it’s still a good overview). We also wet our feet in topics such as the ongoing debate on “pre-natal murder” in Georgia and weighed in on the recent kerfuffle with Z. Budapest at Pantheacon. We had a bit of a gripe with Pagan media grabbers in general, and learned about an old word, “cockalorum,” which was particularly apt.
I hope you’ll check it out, and feel free to leave me a comment here or send me an email if you want to talk about anything we mentioned on the show. It’s definitely not my usual format or subject matter, but I had fun doing it, and I think you might like it, too!
Yesterday, when I went to the mailbox, I pulled from amidst the circulars and credit card pre-approvals the always-entertaining J. Peterman Catalog. For those who don’t know anything about this catalog, it’s basically a clothing and accessories shop with its ad copy in the form of mini-travelogues. The company’s charismatic founder, J. Peterman, allegedly visits exotic locales and has wonderful adventures, then brings back inspirations for different lines of shirts, dresses, hats, and fragrances. He’ll spend a summer evening in Chile camped out in the Andes and come back with a rugged but stylish belt. He’ll recall a wonderful oyster dinner at a café in Paris and design a dress after his dinner companion’s outfit that night. And so on. The company is also fairly famous for being Elaine’s job on Seinfeld for a few TV seasons.
The clothing is expensive, though it certainly looks nice and has an air of romance about it. But that’s not really what I’ll get into here today. As I walked up my driveway, I flipped open the catalog to a random page, and found an interesting womens’ top with the following description:
The Crystals of the Sabbat are being polished.
The cry for more myrrh is heard.
An open call for fire dancers is taking place.
The healing masters are calling their travel agents.
They’ll be outdoing themselves at the Mabon Pagan Autumn Festival this year.
So what are you wearing?
Something exotic from India perhaps?
Vintage Pagan Embroidered Jacket (No. 2803). Tie front closure. Which means you can keep it tied or, depending on what the ceremony calls for, open. Embroidery continues along front, short sleeves, shoulder, yoke, and hem. Black piping on sleeves and around neckline. Very casual and easy. You can wear long sleeves under it.
And you know how good pagan looks with jeans. Imported.
Hopefully the scan of the catalog page above will let you see this advert in all its glory, but I think you get the gist.
I’m not going to get on any high horse here. I’m not offended by the catalog or the company. In fact, I am pretty tickled by it. Fire Lyte posted a blog entry yesterday about fear-mongering in the Pagan community, and I thought that this ad was a rather serendipitous arrival as I pondered on his points. While I don’t take a hard stance on Jason Pitzl-Waters’ Wild Hunt Blog (I’ve never noticed the paranoia Fire Lyte mentioned myself, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not there as an undercurrent). Fire Lyte’s broader point about the persecution complex prevalent in some Pagan circles seems valid to me, though. If I’m being honest, I experience almost no persecution, despite being in the Bible belt and regularly attending a church with people who know I’m not Christian and have magic books. Sure, hot button issues flare up from time to time, but they mostly tend to be ideological (such as the Creation vs. Evolution debate) rather than religious (though I readily admit that one of the first five questions a new acquaintance asks is “So where do you go to church?” in this part of the country). But I just don’t see the witch-hunting that seems to be implied in many cases.
That’s not to say there aren’t a number of folks genuinely experiencing some kind of enforced closeting or living in a state of anxiety over their belief system. I know there are. But I don’t know anyone who’s lost a job due to religion, myself, unless they made a big deal out of it and generally became a pest or nuisance. I’ve visited federal prisons (not as an inmate, if you’re wondering) and generally seen a very pluralistic attitude toward religion. In fact, it appeared as though religion was encouraged no matter which branch or denomination it was—copies of the Quran, the Bible, the Talmud, Buddhist texts, and even a “new age” book or two all sat on the rolling library cart.
What I’m really getting at is the other side of this particular coin. While there are plenty of folks upset over being hounded by Christians and conservative groups and bemoaning the presentation of witchcraft on “Bones” as a bleak cult phenomenon, I think there are ever more positive images of Pagans, witches, and magical folk surfacing in the world. The J. Peterman catalog is one example of someone taking the stereotype of the “hippie witch” and playing with it to create a little romance and allure—all in the name of capitalism, of course. I’m sure some would accuse this catalog (or me even) of “Uncle Tom” passivity over the commercialization of sacred traditions, but honestly I’m just pleased as punch that they referenced one of the much-less discussed holidays on the general Pagan calendar (though it’s not on my personal calendar, but that’s beside the point). Anyone will mention witches and Pagans at Halloween—who talks about Mabon, though?
I’ve noticed that this sort of “popular Paganism” has been surfacing more and more, which is rather heartening to me. On a Simpsons episode recently, Lisa temporarily joins a Wiccan coven, then stops the town from engaging in a full-on witch-hunt. An episode of Futurama from a few years ago showed main character Leela wishing to be a witch, but only “As long as I get to hurt people and not just dance around at the equinox.” I even seem to recall an episode of the animated Batman series from the 90’s where Batman needed the help of a Wiccan coven to solve a case (why is it that cartoons are so dang progressive?). I’m not saying that I think all of these portrayals are accurate, but they are all positive (Leela’s desire to be a “wicked witch” notwithstanding—she does portray non-wicked witches in fairly benign terms).
I don’t usually go into posts like this here at New World Witchery, and I don’t plan to make a habit of it going forward. I just found the lovely coincidence of the catalog arriving just as I was thinking about Fire Lyte’s post to auspicious to pass up. But I’d love to hear your thoughts, too. Do you see Pagans, witches, animists, and other magical folk as persecuted? Have you experienced outright persecution in your life (not a fear of it, but actually losing custody of a child or getting fired from a job because of it)? Do you see popular examples of paganism elsewhere? Do you think the public perception of Pagans is going less from “scary weirdos” to “funny eccentrics” as I do? Please leave your comments and your thoughts!
Okay, enough op-ed for the day from me! Thanks for reading!
P.S. To all you wonderful folks who have commented or emailed and not received responses, I promise I’ll be getting back to you soon! Sorry for the delay!