Saturday, October 09, 2010

Last Wild Witch

It's getting complicated.

The other night, G/Son, his 'rents, and I were eating at our favorite Mexican restaurant and the 'rents were saying that maybe they'd come over to Nonna's neighborhood, this year, for trick-or-treating, since their neighborhood doesn't take trick-or-treating too seriously, not having many kids. And I said that would be great; they could come over before Nonna and all her friends began their ritual. I said, "We all dress up like Witches, because we are."

G/Son, who loves his Nonna and thinks she's a nice old lady who will buy him the Star Wars toys that he wants and play make-believe games with him and let him stay up eating Cheerios and watching movies, said, "No, you're not Witches." He knows that I've told him that I am a Witch, but he's at a stage where he doesn't want it to be true. It confuses him.

I said, "Yes, we are. We are good Witches, who honor the Earth. Like Glinda, the good Witch, remember her?"

G/Son said, "Yes, but she was just a Witch because she had a magic wand that worked."

We're going to have to have a longer talk about this soon, but I think we need to have it on a walk, outside.

I'd give almost everything I've got not to make his life complicated. But he's a smart kid; he's going to be able to understand this. Please.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Thursday, October 07, 2010

But, Then, We Knew That

Pagan Chic

Sarah Burton, the former assistant to Alexander McQueen, enjoyed a rapturous reception at Paris Fashion Week yesterday for her first collection as the new creative director of the Alexander McQueen label.

The British label's spring/summer 2011 collection struck a pagan [can I get a capital "P" please?] chord, with outfits recalling the 1970s film The Wicker Man. One dress combined a bodice made of ears of wheat with a skirt made of pheasant feathers. Another printed dress was adorned with a horse hair collar.

Burton's theme went even more prelapsarian [I do not think that word means what the author thinks it means] with a dress consisting of fake butterflies, which appeared to be taking off around the model's neckline. Another outfit saw golden plants sewn onto skin coloured material which appeared to grow on the model's body. The skirt of this dress was rounded at the hips a nod to McQueen and the model's hair was braided in the style of wicker.

Fashion editors were impressed by Burton's success in building a collection that was true to the spirit of McQueen, keeping the dramatic silhouettes for which he was famous, but introducing a more feminine, romantic mood.

I like it. But not everyone did.

And, speaking of the Wicker Man . . . .

Picrture and the article found here.

On-Line Wheel of the Year?

In comments below, Marcellina asks:

[W]hile I remain a happy atheist, your (always interesting) blog has got me interested in the various Pagan markings of the seasons and other celebrations of nature. Can you (or your readers) recommend any kind of online calendar that would take me through the year and explain ceremonies as they approach? Is there anything like that on the nets? I don't want a book or treatise to read all at once, but something I can check in on. Thanks!

I'm not aware of an online calendar of the sort that Marcellina describes (although it sounds like a great idea). Readers?

There is a quarterly ezine called Living in Season, published by Waverley Fitzgerald, who used to run School of the Seasons. It's a bit like the discussion I was having the other day with Son about my house. If I close the door to the ritual room, most people wouldn't know that it's a Witch's house. But a Witch would walk in and know immediately. Living in Season has a Pagan flavor without appearing too overtly Pagan.

It's not online, but We'Moon publishes really wonderful calendars; I get one every year. You can take the information in in bits, not feeling the need to read the whole thing through.

Googling "Wheel of the Year" will turn up dozens of web sites, some better than others. But you can get the general idea of the 4 Solar holidays and the 4 Cross-Quarter days and how they relate to the seasons.

One caution I'll offer for sites on the web and many Pagan books (although Marcellina's not looking for a book): They tend to say, often quite definitively, "This holiday is associated with these Goddesses and Gods. The following colors, stones, plants, etc. are to be used to decorate the altar. Etc." And then you go to the next web site or book and it will say, just as definitively, that the holiday is associated with different Goddesses and Gods and that different colors, stones, plants, etc. are to be used. And then, if you visit a public Pagan ritual, you'll see them doing something else, instead, or mixing elements from both sources.

And that's what keeps this interesting.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions that my wonderful readers can post in comments here.

Picture found here.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

In Which Our Heroine Goes On and On Because It Matters

In response to my post this week on media relations, Thorn Coyle says (here and in comments at the Wild Hunt):

Agreed overall and to add in, here is what I wrote at Wild Hunt earlier today :

The other thing to keep in mind is that some reporters actually think they are doing us a favor by asking things like, "what about they way you are portrayed in films?" or "some people think you worship the devil, do you?" by giving us a chance to 'set the record straight'. These questions are not our friends, but they are also very hard to get around. So it isn't that we think, "hmm, in telling the press who Pagans are and what we believe, we will talk about silly movies and devils!" It is that we have just given them 5-10minutes (to an hour's worth) of what we think is great footage about what we believe and practice, broken into short sound bites even, and then we answer that little question in the middle of it all, just to get it out of the way and get back to our talking points, and they cut everything else.

I don't think I did too badly, all in all, and tried to use humor to diffuse the question, but what I would have done differently - were I more TV savvy - was to give them half an answer to the silly question, and made sure the sentence itself ended in another talking point. This is very hard to do, but next time, I will make a concerted attempt at it.

So, all in all, I *have* thought about what I want to say. I *do* have my elevator speech down. At the end of my interview, the reporter even said, "You are a public speaker, aren't you?" But he didn't use that stuff at all. This is why I've avoided the TV shows I have been asked to do in the past. I don't trust that the good stuff will get out there.

But perhaps it is time to try harder. I will likely take it on a case by case basis.

I think that Thorn needs to be on tv and I endorse Thorn's take-away: "give them half an answer to the silly question, and ma[k]e sure [that] the sentence itself end[s] in another talking point," and a point that Markarios made in comments here: Dealing with the media isn't an occult art, it's a skill one can [easily] learn. But it does require learning. Teacats also makes a v good suggestion: Pagan gatherings (Pantheacon, I'm looking at you) should include training sessions for Pagans who expect to be in contact with the media. (Teacats was also the first to suggest that someone must, at some point, have already put together some training on dealing with the media. Surely someone has?) There are Pagan members of the media. Let's use the resources we have.

It seems to me that there are two sub-issues here.

One is (and, from the articles that I read, this is, in fact, a real problem) Pagans who, themselves, volunteer that we don't [worship Satan, dance naked, drink blood, sacrifice animals, ever do magic to bind, etc.] (Thorn makes clear that she did not do this. See, however, some of the links in my original post.) DON'T DO THIS. If you're organizing a Pagan Pride Day event, your objective is NOT (no, trust me, it is NOT) to overcome stereotypes about Pagans. Your objective is to highlight the fact that Pagans have a proud and ancient past and are, today, engaged in many wonderful pursuits. (And, please, don't say that Pagans don't do things that we, you know, do. Some of us do worship skyclad. Some Pagans do sacrifice animals. Some of us do engage in sex magic. Thorn noted in comments at the Wild Hunt that some of us do dance naked on beaches around wickermen, although not generally wickermen that are filled with live sacrifices. Do NOT begin by accepting the conventional framing that there's something "wrong" with those practices, which is precisely what you do by announcing that we don't do them.)

Another is what happens when the interviewer brings up negative stereotypes (which they do because that helps them sell Viagra; believe me, they are NOT trying to "help" you.) Here, it's important to remember what my Criminal Law prof explained about what happens when, having been arrested, you get interviewed by the "good cop." The good cop does this shit every day of her life; it's how she makes her living. She knows what's going on and how it's going to end. At the end of the day, she's going home to dinner; she's not worried about the entire rest of her life. You are on unfamiliar ground. You've quite likely has never been in this situation before. You are scared shitless. But you've had plenty of talks w/ reasonable folks and, at some point, after the good cop has discussed how hot it is, and asked if you'd like a glass of water, and mentioned that the Ravens are playing tonight, and asked about your [cat, kids, mother], you think, "Well, I've had lots of talks with reasonable people and this nice lady seems like a reasonable person. In fact, she seems to want to help me. I'm smart; I can finesse this. (Here is where you start to fuck up.) I'll just explain to her what happened and we can wrap this all up." And, a few days later, when you have to hire the lawyer that, trust me, you are going to have to hire, she will bang her head on her desk and wonder why on Earth you couldn't just shut up and say, "I want a lawyer." You don't (necessarily) need a lawyer to talk to the press, but you do need to get prepared so that you even the playing field. To wit:

*Go to Carnegie Hall (And we all know how to get there, right? Practice, practice, practice). IANAME (I am not a media expert), but I am a lawyer and I've dealt with some fairly high-profile cases in my time. No lawyer would imagine going before an appellate panel (where a group of judges fire questions at you about your case) or SCOTUS without first doing several moot courts. That's where you get other lawyers to read all the briefs and ask you the questions that they think the judges will ask you. (Often, these are taped, so that the lawyer who will be doing the argument can watch her body language, etc.) Afterwards, there's a massive amount of critiquing and discussion about how to refine the answers. This process may well get repeated several times. In every appellate case that I've ever done: the more moot courts, the better the oral argument. Similarly, lawyers who do jury trials often hire mock juries, present their case to them, then pay the mock jurors to sit and tell them what they did right and wrong (when I retire, I want to be a mock juror, but they tend not to want lawyers). Any lawyer whose client is about to be deposed (by the other side's lawyer before trial) preps the client. And large law firms spend hours prepping clients, even media-savvy clients, before they're allowed to testify before Congress, go on Face the Nation, etc.

It's not difficult to think of the kinds of questions that a reporter is likely to ask a Pagan (Do you worship Satan? Well then why does your god have horns? Can you really do magic? Do you do rituals naked? What do you think about what Christine O'Donnell said?, Why do you wear robes?, etc.) Have a friend ask you those questions and, if they've got even an iPhone, have them video you. Figure out where they threw you off and how you could have, instead, controlled the interview and used it to achieve your objectives, rather than the reporter's. Then do it again. And again. One more time. Three's a magic number.

Which brings me to Point the Second:

*Know your objectives AHEAD of time. This is more than knowing your basic "elevator speech" -- this is knowing what you want to walk away from the interview having achieved. Someone from the press calls and asks if you'll talk to them. Do you say "yes," or "no"? Well, that depends on what your objectives are. As I noted in my earlier post, there are two general objectives you're likely to have. One is that you want to use the interview to promote your book/event/self as an authority on Pagan topics, etc. Another is to get across some basic fact: for example, that Druids are a lot like everyone else or that Pagans are proud of their ancient heritage and modern accomplishments. Just as you don't want to simply walk into a circle and begin raising energy w/o a clear idea of where you're going to direct it, you don't want to walk into the media circle and begin talking without a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish by devoting your energy to the interview. Once you are clear on why you're doing the interview, on what message you want to get across, it's easier to control the interview and not just answer the interviewer's dumb question ("Well, do you worship Satan?") to get it out of the way, which, trust me, is the only bit that will show up on the evening news or in the magazine article.

*Bring a (well-thought-out, thoroughly-critiqued, and, please Goddess, spell-checked (no, the "mundane" kind of '"spell"), and grammatically-correct) handout to the interview with you. (Word processing is magic; you can adjust these for each individual interview.) Now that you know your objective, this is where you list the points that you want to get across (your "elevator speech" for this interview). It should include information about you, as well, perhaps on a second page or a Rolodex card. "Wendy Witch is the author of five books on Pagan practices. She has presented on topics X, Y, and Z at the following conferences. Her life has been devoted to demonstrating that [Druids are just like everyone else, whatever.] Born in Oklahoma, Wendy attended Harvard Divinity School and now owns and operates Wiccan Wood, a store that sells wooden statues of the Goddess. She can be contacted at . . . ."

*If you're trying to make the point that, for example, Druids are just like everyone else, consider what clothing, make-up, etc. will help you to make that point. If you can't make yourself wear that stuff, maybe you're not the right person to make that point. What point are you the right person to make? If you want to come across as an authority, are there props that would help you do that? (Podiums, a background bookshelf filled with books, a wall full of diplomas. Or, redwoods, a beach, a blazing fire, a desk covered with globes. Come on; think. We're supposedly folks who understand how Younger Self works. And yet, when we talk to the media, we almost always act as if Younger Self doesn't exit.) Can you move all the empty plastic chairs out of camera view? Do you have a copy of your book or the sign for your Pagan Pride Day prominently displayed?

*The problem that I've discussed isn't limited to tv news. Newspapers, magazines, radio, blogs, etc. matter. Many people being interviewed bring a pocket recorder with them and turn it on at the beginning of the interview. No reputable reporter should object to you having your own record of what was said. And, if your words get sliced, diced, taken out of context (surprising, I know, but it does happen), you can put up the audio on your own blog and make clear what really happened.

*Understand framing. There are a number of good books out there on this topic; as noted before, I like George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant, but you may find others that you like even better. Here's Lakoff (who, I admit, is more optimistic about the role of the media than is Hecate) discussing the issue of marriage equality:

Try this: "Do you think the government should tell people who they can and can't marry?" Or "Do you think the freedom to marry who you want is a matter of equal rights under the law?" Or "Do you see marriage as a the realization of love in a lifetime commitment?" Or "Does it benefit society when two people who are in love want to make a public lifetime commitment to each other?"

Reframing is everyone's job.

If you get stuck, can you at least answer with a question that challenges the framing? And then move immediately to your objective: "Of course, Druids are just like everyone else, so we . . . ."

I keep harping on this point and on capitalization because they matter. I'm going to keep harping.

Picture found here.

Dark of the Moon, New Beginnings

Here's this month's Hecate's Deipnon.

Fish, eggs, cheese, onions, and honey. The marigolds are traditional flowers for the upcoming Dia De Los Muertos, as their scent is said to attract the dead back across the veil. (The Goddess may have grown up on wine and ouzo, but, here in Virginia, she prefers rum, as do many of the Spirits of this place). It's traditional to leave this meal for the Goddess at a spot where three roads meet, but I place it for a few minutes on the stone altar in my woodland garden and then on the garden ground. It's always gone in the morning.

"Deipnon" means "meal," but a meal with religions connotations.

In the Homeric Age it was usual to sit at table; and this custom, we are told, was kept up in historical times by the Cretans. Each guest had generally his own table, and an equal share of food was placed before each (hence δαὶς ἐΐση), except when a specially distinguished guest was honoured by getting a larger portion ( Il.vii. 321). What strikes us as peculiar in the Homeric dinners is their religious character. They partake more or less of the nature of a sacrifice, beginning with an offering of part of the meat to the gods, and both beginning and ending with a libation of wine; while the terms for slaughtering animals for a meal (ἱερεύειν, θύειν) and for the slaughtered animals (ἱερήϊα) are borrowed from the language of religious ceremony.

More here.

Some say that you should leave Hecate's Deipnon on a plate that you don't intend to reclaim, but I use this plate each month and use it, as well, on Samhein at the supper for the ancestors. Leaving the plate behind may be related to the connection between Hecate's Deipnon and feeding the poor.

While the offerings were intended for Hekate, they also became a source of food for the poor, as we can see in a play by Aristophanes where Plutus says to Poverty:

"Ask Hecate whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will tell you that the rich send her a meal every month and that the poor make it disappear before it is even served."

This idea has [also] been used . . . in a manner both contemporary and true to tradition:

"I do a food offering for Hecate, which doesn't actually go to Hecate. It goes to the poor. Where I live, there's a food drive for local poor families every Friday, right at the entrance of a big grocery store. I buy some dry food items there, and offer them as 'Hecate's Supper.' The girl scouts always chant 'For Hekate' with me when I drop the food into their collection cart. "

More here.

Hecate has many titles: Endoia (of the wayside), Kleidophorous (key-bearing), Kourotrophos (nurse of children), Soteira (savior), Trivia (from where three roads meet), and, one of my favorites: Khrusosandalaimopotikhthonia (golden-sandalled, Queen-of-the-Underworld who feeds upon blood). Homer called her "bright-coiffed." She is many things to me, but, most of all, she is the one who spoke up and helped Demeter find her raped and abducted daughter when everyone else was trying to be politic. Her allegiance was to women and not with the patriarchy. Hail Hecate! May every Dark Moon, until the end of time, find Daughters of the Earth preparing your Deipnon. May you be happy with our offerings.

A Witch's Daily has lots more wonderful information.

Wish You Were Here

As the veil thins and we whirl ever closer to Samhein, our thoughts turn to those whom we have lost over the past year. At least several hundred brown pelicans, who depended upon the Gulf of Mexico for their food, habitat, and breeding grounds, were killed and injured by the BP-caused oil spill this year.

The brown pelican is so important to Louisiana that it is one of the mascots of Tulane University and is on both Tulane's and Louisiana State University's seal. But BP's profits were more important.

What is remembered does not die.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

An Oldie, But a Goodie

Pronoia Is the Antidote to Paranoia
~Rob Brezny

This is a perfect moment.

It’s a perfect moment for many reasons, but especially because you and I are waking up from our sleepwalking, thumb-sucking, dumb-clucking collusion with the masters of illusion and destruction.

Thanks to them, from whom the painful blessings flow, we are waking up.

Their wars and tortures,
their crimes against nature,
extinctions of species
and brand new diseases.

Their spying and lying
in the name of the father,
sterilizing seeds and
trademarking water.

Molestations of God,
celebrations of shame,
stealing our dreams and
changing our names.

Their cunning commercials
and blood-sucking hustles,
their endless rehearsals
for the end of the world.

Thanks to them, from whom the awful teachings flow, we are waking up.

Their painful blessings are cracking open more and more gashes in the shrunken and crippled mass hallucination that is mistakenly called “reality.” And through the fractures, ripe eternity is flooding in; news of the soul’s true home is pouring in; our allies from the other side of the veil are swarming in, inspiring us to become smarter and wilder and kinder and trickier.

We are waking up.

As heaven and earth come together, as the dreamtime and daytime merge, we register the shockingly exhilarating fact that we are in charge of creating a brand new world. Not in some distant time or faraway place, but right here and right now.

As we stand on this brink, as we dance on this verge, we can’t let the ruling fools of the dying world sustain their curses. We have to rise up and fight their insane logic; defy, resist, and prevent their tragic magic; unleash our sacred rage and supercharge it.

But overthrowing the living dead is not enough. Protesting the well-dressed monsters is not enough. We can’t afford to be consumed with our anger; we can’t be obsessed and possessed by their danger. Our mysterious bodies crave delight and fertility. Our boisterous imaginations demand fresh tastes of infinity.

In the new world we’re gestating, we need to be suffused with lusty compassion and ecstatic duty, ingenious love and insurrectionary beauty. We’ve got to be teeming with radical curiosity and reverent pranks, voracious listening and ferocious thanks.

So I'm curious, my fellow creators. Since you and I are in charge of making a new world—not just breaking the old world—where do we begin? What stories do we want at the heart of our experiments? What questions will be our oracles?

Here's what I say: We will ignore the cult of doom and gloom and embrace the cause of zoom and boom. We will laugh at the stupidity of evil and hate, and summon the brilliance to praise and create. No matter how upside-down it all may temporarily appear, we will have no fear because we know this secret: Life is crazily in love with us—wildly and innocently in love with us. The universe always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.

Pronoia is our word of power, the spell we cast to shake ourselves awake again and again. It’s the antidote for paranoia. It’s the brazen perception that all of creation is conspiring to shower us with blessings.

Pronoia means that even if we can’t see and don’t know, primal benefactors are plotting to emancipate us. The winds and tides are on our side, forever and ever, amen. The fire and rain are scheming to steal our pain. The sun and moon know our real names, and the animals pray for us while we’re dreaming. Do you believe in guardian angels and divine helpers? Whether you do or not, they’re always wangling to give you the gifts you don’t even realize you want. Can you guess how many humble humans are busy making things for you to use and enjoy?

I’m allergic to dogma. I thrive on the riddles. Any idea I believe, I reserve the right to disbelieve as well.

But more than any other vision I’ve ever tested, pronoia describes the way the world actually is. It’s wetter than water, stronger than death, and truer than the news. It smells like cedar smoke in early spring rain, and if you close your eyes right now, you can feel it shimmering like the aurora borealis in your organs and muscles. Its song is your blood’s song.

Some people argue that life is strife and suffering is normal. Others swear we’re born sinful and only heaven can provide us with the peace that passes understanding. But pronoia says that being alive on the rough green and brown earth is the highest honor and privilege. It’s an invitation to work wonders and perform miracles that aren’t possible in any nirvana, promised land, or afterlife.

I’m not exaggerating or indulging in poetic metaphor when I tell you that we are already living in paradise. Visualize it if you dare. The sweet stuff that quenches all of our longing is not far away in some other time and place. It’s right here and right now.

Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning knew the truth: “Earth’s crammed with heaven.”

Glory in the Highest

Picture found here.

Elements: Air

For My Wonderful DiL

The Idea of Order at Key West

Wallace Stevens

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.
The sea was not a mask. No more was she.
The song and water were not medleyed sound
Even if what she sang was what she heard,
Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.

For she was the maker of the song she sang.
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.
Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew
It was the spirit that we sought and knew
That we should ask this often as she sang.
If it was only the dark voice of the sea
That rose, or even colored by many waves;
If it was only the outer voice of sky
And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,
However clear, it would have been deep air,
The heaving speech of air, a summer sound
Repeated in a summer without end
And sound alone. But it was more than that,
More even than her voice, and ours, among
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
Of sky and sea.

It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As the night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.

Picture found here.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Well, Christine, I Am. And I'm Tired of Your Bullshit.

Here's Christine O'Donnell running on her I'm not a witch platform.

Last person I heard say, "I'm you," was Linda Tripp. Who was, you know, not me.

Christine, I'm a witch and I've got a nice black dress and a nice strand of pearls, too. You've been using Witches to get attention for years; now you want to use them to get elected. Stop it.

It's not November, yet, and I'm already tired of this.

Picture found here.

Just Stop!

Kali Fuck, Could we PLEASE stop doing media interviews where we go on about how we don't do human sacrifice and worship the xian devil?

I stay on this point for a reason.

If you start every public interaction (or allow the media to begin each of your public interactions) with your own version of Richard Nixon's "Your President is not a crook!" all that does is ensure that every damn time people think of you or hear about you, they think, "Oh, yeah, those are the people who 'say' that they don't worship Satan." Guess what image stays in their mind? As Lyndon Johnson is once supposed to have observed, "If you're explaining, you're losing."

As I've said before, your neighborhood rabbi doesn't begin the interview about the synagogue's new charity project by asserting that Jews don't make matzoh with the blood of Christian babies. Father Flannigan does not pipe up during the interview about beatification of a new saint and announce that "Lots of Catholic priests have never sexually abused a child," and there's even a genuine basis to wonder about Catholics and sex abuse.

And there's a reason why they don't discuss those things.

As Wiki explains about George Lakoff:

Lakoff further argues that one of the reasons liberals have had difficulty since the 1980s is that they have not been as aware of their own guiding metaphors . . . . Lakoff insists that liberals must cease using terms like partial birth abortion and tax relief because [those terms] are manufactured specifically to allow the possibilities of only certain types of opinions. Tax relief for example, implies explicitly that taxes are an affliction, something [from which] someone would want "relief". To use the terms of another metaphoric worldview, Lakoff insists, is to unconsciously support it.

Pagans have GOT to quit unconsciously supporting the Abrahamic terminology that controls the dominant paradigm. Instead of Lakoff's "Don't Think of an Elephant," here's Hecate's new rule: "Don't Talk About Satan." What was it about Druids in England that got them "certified" as a charity? What cool things were they doing? Which important Druidic leaders can you cite? What charitable things have Druids done? What neat bit of Druidic history can you relate?

I get that members of the press have a story they want to tell. That makes it even more (not less) important to go in understanding what story YOU want to tell. There's a world of good things that you can say about, for example, who Druids are, what Druids do, what Druids believe. Start there. If the reporter is gauche (and being gauche is pretty much a job requirement for reporters. I know; I was raised by a newspaperman) enough (as Thorn Coyle says, at the Wild Hunt, that the reporter here was), to say, "Well, do you burn people like they did in the WickerMan?" then -- and only then -- do you explain "No, and, as a recognized religion, we find questions like that pretty insulting. In fact, Druids, who worship all forms of life, are engaged in a tree-planting ministry here that . . . ." How difficult is that? Leave mischievous quips for when you're talking to your friends, not the media.

Discipline, people. It matters.

And do NOT try to carefully answer their question! Move immediately to the point that YOU want to make. Really, is this complicated? Have you not watched a thousand news interviews? Here's basic Law School 101: Judge: Isn't X, which loses the case for you, true? You: Your Honor, Y, which wins the case for me, is important for the following three reasons. First, . . . ."

When did the use of rhetoric stop being important for magicians? It didn't.

Here's one thing you can count on: If you do a 20 minute interview and spend 5 seconds of that interview talking about human sacrifice in the WickerMan, how some Pagans look "weird," and how we don't worship Satan, THOSE ARE THE 5 SECONDS THAT WILL SHOW UP ON THE EVENING NEWS! That's because the evening news is about selling Viagra and SUVs, and a 3-second teaser showing a Pagan saying, "Human Sacrifice" will get more people to tune in and watch (the SUV commercial) than will a teaser showing a Pagan saying, "Tree planting ministry." Here's another clue: The press is not your friend, nor are they in the business of telling people important facts. Again, they are in the business of selling Viagra. When you deal with them, you are dealing with Viagra salespeople who want to use you to sell Viagra. You, meanwhile, want to use them (and their Viagra sponsors) to get out the truth about, say, Druids. Kali Fuck, Pagans, start to act as if you understood that fact! Quit pretending as if the reality were otherwise.

Seriously, has any Pagan group out there got a good press kit or a good training manual for dealing with the press? Cherry Hill Seminary? WitchVox? Lady Liberty League? Because this shit has just got to stop. Don't make me do this myself.

I'm sorry; I know that all the Pagans involved, week after week after week, in this practice are honorable people who are quite well-intentioned. But please, please, please JUST STOP. And even if it strokes your ego to get a press request, if you aren't prepared for dealing with the press, please decline. Get some training. Have a prepared statement. Role play before you get on tape. This shit matters.

Update: Just as you would never (I hope) walk into a circle and begin doing magic w/o a clear objective, you should never walk into the media circle and begin shooting off your mouth w/o a clear objective. (If you don't have a clear objective, refer the media to someone who does.) There are two fairly common objectives. One is: I'm going to use this interview to promote my book/class/Pagan Pride Day event, etc. That's fine. When they say, "So what about the way that movies portray Druids?" you say, "Sensationalism may sell movies, but, as I explain in my new book, Druiding the Druid Way for Druids, . . . ." Another is: I want to use this interview to communicate one important truth about Druids: That they respect all forms of life. That's fine. When they say "So what about the way that movies portray Druids?" you say, "Sensationalism may sell movies, but Druids respect all forms of life. For example, one group I worked with began planting new groves of American chestnuts . . . ." The one thing you do NOT want to do is go into the interview with the objective of answering all of the nice reporter's questions.

This is why we practice attention and presence and focus.

Don't make me come up in there.

Picture found here.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

This Afternoon's Workspace

Knitting gifts for the Winter Solstice. Thinking about magic. It's all good.

Sunday Dance Blogging