Happy Monday, and I hope everyone’s week has started well!
We had our weekly Otherfaith Hangout this Saturday. Celestine and Emerald were there along with my fiance and me. We discussed everything ranging from advanced books within Paganism and witchcraft (the lack thereof, that is) to fandom and famous Youtubers. It was a great few hours. If you want to join us, join our Google+ group; Hangouts allow us to have video, voice, and text chat, so join us as you are most comfortable.
Emerald brought up today the concept of gods and their association with days of the week. This was a good time to go over these associations, since our new gods (the Darren and the Eighth God) mean we have more gods than fit in seven days. Currently, I associated the gods as such:
- Monday – the Clarene
- Tuesday – the Ophelia
- Wednesday – the Ophelene
- Thursday – the Laetha
- Friday – the Dierne
- Saturday – the Laethelia
- Sunday – Cleaning/Cleansing Day
How should our week look when we add in the other two gods? Should both of them be added in? If we add in all of our eight gods, that means someone will have to share. the Eighth God seems rather transgressive of usual Otherfaith ideas as well as devotional concepts, so them not having a day associated with them makes sense. Currently our devotional calendar does have prayers for certain days, tied to our gods – how should that change with our new gods?
Personally, Sunday will always be tied to cleansing for me. It’s the end of the week for me, and I think cleansing and cleaning gets the new week off to the right start. Meaning that I need to focus on actually thoroughly cleaning on that day.
Related to our G+ discussion, what exactly do we mean by ‘advanced material’ when it comes to Paganism, polytheism, and witchcraft? I’m aware that fancy imprints like Scarlet Imprint exist, creating beautiful grimoires and collections of poetry – and not quite within a price range I can afford often. Add on that I’m unsure if their books would even be of interest or useful, and I’ve got a dilemma. This is how it feels with most ‘advanced’ material. Affordable copies of older texts like ‘The Book of the Law’ exist, and I can pick up other occult books somewhat cheaply at a big box bookstore. But go to a smaller Pagan or witchcraft shop? There’s no way I’m affording any of those older or actual ancient books.
And already we see a problem with what I assume is advanced – older. Certainly, I’ve found use turning to more historical and scholarly texts. Growing out of Wicca and witchcraft 101 led me to investigating Rome and Greece history, if only for a time. I’ve collected folktales and fairy tales, though my understanding of them is limited in many ways. Still, I turn toward the older tales, the older ideas, seeking something deeper than what I can usually find at my local bookstore.
This isn’t to say that Wiccan, Pagan, and polytheist books are all awful or all basic. But I do run into the problem of books labeling themselves as advanced or in-depth turning out to be Wiccish Spirituality 101. There’s only so much money I’m willing to invest in books that are lying about their content before I move on. And I move on to myths and fairy tales and histories of the occult movement. This is great, as I’m expanding my focus and learning new ideas I would not otherwise run into.
It’s not great, at the same time. I turn often to the internet for ideas on modern witchcraft that is different from Wicca or Wiccish practices. And the internet is an imperfect place, riddled with fabricated credentials (though those too happen offline) and misinformation.
I could, of course, venture into my local community, maybe study under a teaching coven of some sort. Having people to teach you is valuable. They’ve made mistakes and can catch you. They can oversee your practice before your shoot your mind to bits through messy about in the otherworlds – a danger that applies whether we view the spirits as Real Beings or mental archetype. Having someone to bounce ideas off of can keep you grounded. Though in person communities are not perfect; if anything, the internet more highlights our own failings as people than creates them out of nowhere.
But we run into the problem, even if we have people who we enjoy hanging out with offline who are of a witchy or polytheist persuasion, of not finding a teacher right for us. Not finding a group right for us. I don’t want to learn Wicca 101. I’m not interested. That’s not what I want to pursue. The traditions I am interested in are not local or not active enough to be accessible.
(That is another thing we discussed during our Hangout – the lack of accessibility to both advanced materials and traditions and teachers. The lack of the latter, we felt, stems from Witch Wars in the US that cause community drama. Sometimes the lack of access to teachers is based on finances, another issue I’ve run into.)
We just don’t really have advanced, modern books for people to pick up. There’s the idea that they don’t sell, and that people don’t want more advanced books. There’s the idea bandied about that most Pagans and Wiccans are fine being stuck in the 101 phase, an idea that usually carries patronizing and obnoxious implications that people who do go beyond such phases are superior or better at their spirituality or witchcraft. Frankly, I don’t think we’ve had time to figure out if ‘the majority’ of people are willing to move past 101 books, thanks to our large publishers refusing to publish such books.
The issue of publishing within Paganism is a huge one. One that other writers more involved with it can probably cover better than me. I can only address it as an outsider, a consumer, a reader of these books. I can only comment on what I see. I don’t mean to undersell the importance of publishing for Paganism, how it has exploded our communities and shaped us. I simply don’t think it has shaped us for the better in every way. I used to have around 200 Pagan books – the majority of those were rehashing of the same exact material.
Taking Llewellyn, one of the biggest publishers, as an example: one thing I’ve noticed, having read many of their books (and having loved some), is that a fair amount of them feel forced. Books that read more organically as informative, researched pieces have how-to sections shoved uncomfortably between chapters. This is especially true of some of the fairy books I’ve picked up by them. The how-to sections don’t fit and disrupt the flow of the book. There seems to be a fear that people don’t want to just read information or ideas. That every book needs to be a workshop book.
The topics I’ve discussed relating to publishing and lack of advanced material can be tied back into a lack of diversity among our communities. I’m not just talking about Paganism here either – polytheism has this problem as well. We’re just not always as good at admitting it. We seem, honestly, to be afraid of diversity. And we seem afraid to let people experience and try new things. Sometimes it’s fear that the new idea or topic won’t ‘sell’, or sometimes it’s a fear that we’ll get eaten alive by the blogosphere, or other times it’s a topic close to our chest. But for our communities to grow, including the Otherfaith, I think the promotion and actual acceptance of diversity is a must.
Otherwise, we end up with Wiccish Paganism 101 forever.
What are your thoughts? Agree or disagree? Feel free to leave a comment or just share your own ideas.
Thank you for reading. ‘of the Other People’ is a site dedicated to the Otherfaith, a modern polytheist religion. You can find more about us here and here. You can contact us here if you have any questions or would like to get involved.