Seekers and Guides: Why Free Events Discriminate Against the Pagan Poor

Donation JarForgive me for once again deferring the subject I originally intended to write about this week.  A discussion happened on a local Pagan list that reminded me that I meant to address a personal bugaboo.

“Never charge for the Craft.”  It’s a basic ethic that most of us subscribe to.  Many of us have been to churches where the collection plate goes around, and it’s broad and open and so people are shamed into putting bills into the basket that they might not otherwise be able to afford.  Most Pagans don’t like money, and we don’t understand why faith has a material cost.  Our church is nature.  Why should Pagan worship cost us money?

So when someone suggests a small site fee for an event; whether it’s a ritual, a class, a workshop or a lecture, someone else is always upset.  Accusations of materialism, taking advantage of others and of violating the Ardaynes are thrown around.  People get very emotional.  Passionate arguments are made and Witch Wars are started.

I don’t like mixing money and faith either.  I have never had a comfortable relationship with money.  I am Generation X and I graduated high school in the middle of the Recession of the 1990s.  My parents are blue collar and there was no money for my university education, and I didn’t want to start life with a big debt when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I have gone from one lousy minimum wage job to another – and sometimes less than minimum wage because that is what I could get – all of my adult life.  And after about twenty years of organizing events within the Pagan community, I have come to the conclusion that contrary to popular belief, free events discriminate against poor people!

Here’s why.

In This World, Things Cost Money.  Even Space.

Let’s say you want to hold a Sabbat and invite the community.  Well, for starters, you need to have a place to hold it.  If you don’t own your own property (which means you are at least middle class) and you don’t rent a house with a yard (which most of us who rent do not,) you need to use a public space.  Perhaps a church, perhaps a park, maybe a hall.

It costs money to rent all of these places.  Churches and halls have booking fees; and even parks require permits.  And I hope you’re part of a non-profit society that has its own insurance, because these days, they charge you for insurance as an extra expense.  If you want to rent a hall, a church, or part of the park for a couple of hours in my area, you need a minimum of $100, and that’s at the cheap places if you’re lucky!  You could be fortunate enough to know a UU Pagan, and then you can use their church for free, but that UU Pagan is then contributing towards their congregation, aren’t they?

On top of that, who’s going to front the decorations?  How about the candles?  And the cakes and ale?

If you are not going to charge a fee for this hypothetical Sabbat event, that means that someone has to front all this out of her own pocket, or someone has to be fortunate enough to have a yard that’s big enough to host a community – and that’s not cheap rent, folks.  In other words, without fees, which means that everyone contributes, only rich Pagans can host gatherings.  Attempting to include everyone by making events free gives undue power and influence to those who can afford to front everyone else, and requires everyone to be their guests rather than their coreligionists.

Pagans are . . . Thrifty

Okay, you’re saying; I get that things cost money.  So rather than charging for events, I will ask people for donations!

Here’s the problem: in my experience, Pagans usually don’t donate!

You remember that collection plate thing?  Most of the Pagans I know react to that sort of thing with resentment.  Pagans are often counterculturalists, hippies and New Agers.  None of these groups (and I suppose I could be called all three) like money and all of them like to think they’re above “petty materialism.”  If you ask them to donate, unless somebody is dying, they’re not going to help you.  (I will own that Pagans are pretty good at coming together financially in a life-threatening crisis, as the recent crowdfunder for Morning Glory Zell proves.  And kudos for that, community!)

Further, we have a higher percentage than the average population of people who are disabled.  This makes sense to me; Pagan paths offer healing where conventional religions (and medicine) often do not.  But in my family we’re living on my husband’s disability pension, and I can tell you this: disabled people don’t generally have a lot of money.  So if you ask me for a donation, I’ll probably contribute whatever the minimum is; no more, no less, and I won’t contribute if it’s not required.  It’s not because I’m a jerk, it’s because medicine is expensive and income is limited.  We also have a high population of students and artists.  And guess what?  They’re broke too.

Time and Expertise Are Valuable

This is the biggest source of contention in the Pagan community as far as money and fees go, I think.  Other religions with better organizational skills and more money have paid clergy.  In Wiccanate paths at least, there’s a belief that we’re all clergy.  So why should one person get paid to teach if we’re not all paid to teach?  Why shouldn’t we all just be able to learn for free?

Well, as a Pagan who has tried to make her living in metaphysics for many years, I have three answers for that.

The reason why there are paid clergy in other religions is so that they can concentrate on being clergy.  Otherwise, they have to worry about how they’re going to pay the rent.  Or where the next meal is coming from.  Even running a metaphysical store is insufficient for this.  I did that so I could concentrate on being a Witch full time, but I have to tell you, it’s not a good living.  Metaphysical stores are closing all over North America because little retailers cannot afford to sell things for the miniscule prices that you can get them for online.  Remember how I said that we were living on my husband’s disability income?  We’re making more money now than we did at the metaphysical store.  No kidding.

Here’s the second point: time is valuable.  When you are working at your job, you get paid for your time.  Whether you are flipping burgers or negotiating contracts, someone is paying you for the time you put in.  If someone is offering you a course in first aid, you pay them for the service.  Shouldn’t those who teach Paganism expect the same?

And that brings me to the third point.  Judy Harrow noted that it takes an average of seven to ten years to get from beginner levels to third degree initiate these days in traditions that handle things in this way.  It takes seven to ten years of schooling to get a doctorate degree!  We don’t have any personal moral issues with paying medical doctors and experts with Ph.D.s after their names a very large amount of money for their expertise.  Why, then, do we argue about paying our similarly schooled, practiced and studied religious leaders for their expertise?  We could at least have the decency to help them make a living.  And they certainly should never have to pay out of their own pockets for the privilege of teaching us!

Even if someone is travelling to your house to teach a workshop, they have to cover gas, time, supplies, perhaps airfare, food, and accommodations in some way.  So if we’re not willing to pay a fee for a workshop, then that means that only rich people and those supported by other means have the right or ability to teach us about Paganism.  And contrary to the unspoken assumptions of our culture, I personally do not believe that having more money makes you a more valuable person; “abundance consciousness” be damned.

Expecting Others to Carry You is Unfair

Okay, what about getting those with money to pay for things, and those who don’t have any can just come for free?

There’s some validity to this.  Some of the more fortunate members of our community recently came together to support membership fees in a Pagan non-profit group for the less fortunate so that those services could continue.  But first of all, this is unreliable.  One cannot depend upon the generosity of others to be there when it is needed.  The winds of fortune change quickly these days.  Most of us will change careers – not jobs, careers – seven or eight times in our lives!  People die, windfalls come and go.  Furthermore, it is unfair to always ride along on the shirt-tails of others.  You learned a lot about the value of work when your parents kicked you out and you had to pay your own rent, didn’t you?  Don’t you resent the friend who never has money for coffee and always bums rides but never contributes for gas?

Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t help a person out when they’re having a hard time.  Some festivals, for example, have scholarships, and I’ve been a recipient of them once or twice myself.

What Are Your Priorities?

How much does the celebration of your faith mean to you?  I realize that you have to pay the bills first.  So do I.  But most of us find the money somehow for laundry, bus fare, coffee at Starbucks, or cigarettes when we need it.  There are all kinds of ways that even the truly broke can save a couple of bucks eight times a year (I’m paying my overdrawn VISA $25 at a time.)  If you can afford to drink coffee or tea in a coffee shop or tea bar, surely you can afford a $5 to $10 site fee for your next Sabbat gathering?  After a while, with everyone contributing just a few bucks each time, you will naturally create a surplus which can then be used to front other Sabbats and workshops in your community.  And then, poor Pagans can also host events, and teach workshops, just as if they were rich.

Next column: Divine Wisdom, Mortal Filters

P.S. – A couple of things to note.  The first is that I am doing a giveaway to benefit Morning Glory Zell’s legacy project.  Other giveaways to benefit causes in the Pagan community will follow.  Read the details on how you can enter the draw at my PaganSquare column, 49 Degrees: Canadian Pagan Perspectives.

The second is that I am very excited to tell you that my book, The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power, is now available for pre-order at all Amazon sites, Barnes & Noble, and Google Books, and it’s scheduled for release on September 1.  If you order now you get a 28% discount (which will save you a couple of bucks so you can throw in at your next Sabbat gathering.) ;)

Seekers and Guides is published on alternate Mondays. Follow it via RSS or e-mail!

The Busy Witch: Snow and Stillness
Magician, know thyself! What is your intrinsic drive?
The Zen Pagan: What Does It Mean For the Gods to Exist?
Alone In Her Presence: An Open Heart and a Naked Soul
About Sable Aradia

Sable Aradia (Diane Morrison) has been a traditional witch most of her life, and she is also a licensed Wiccan minister and a Third Degree initiated Wiccan priestess in the Star Sapphire tradition. She makes her living doing psychic and Tarot readings, writing, and teaching workshops, and she is also a speculative fiction writer and a musician. Sable is the author of "The Witch's Eight Paths of Power: A Complete Course in Magick and Witchcraft" (Red Wheel/Weiser, 2014). She continues to write "Seekers and Guides" at her new blog Between the Shadows here at Patheos Pagan, and she also writes a column called "49 Degrees: Canadian Pagan Perspectives" at PaganSquare. For further information, please visit her website

  • Autumn Pulstar

    Agree with all of it. It’s crazy that there is such a taboo against paying/contributing to those who teach, provide space, materials and time just because someone thinks they shouldn’t have to pay…or often are just to cheap (you used the word thrifty) to do so. I’m not advocating that our Pagan clergy and elders should be living in mansions, but THEY shouldn’t have to pay for candles, incense and cakes and ale all the time either.

    • Christopher

      I very much agree as well.

      Our views on money and power have been overly shaped by dual forces: a fear of critics and a spiritual attitude toward money heavily influenced by wholly transcendent religions, which have heavily influenced Western concepts of religion as a whole.

      I have payed significant amounts of money in my life for a master’s degree, professional-quality meditation and healing training, wilderness survival training, and martial arts training.

      Making teachers foot the bill for their support of the community should be criminal.

      And if money is an awkward topic, then head students might take it on themselves to at least “pass the hat.” I’m not talking about leaning on little old ladies for pocket-money — I’m talking about doing what all communities do: finding ways to address “the tragedy of the commons.”

  • Sarah Buhrman

    Great post! This is a topic I’ve discussed often.
    Sable, would you consider an interview to promo your book? We are on fb: Pagan-Musings Podcast.

    • Sable Aradia

      Thank you, I would be honoured!

  • Hestia

    Lovely article! Our community has outdoor rituals whenever possible (rain or shine) and in spaces that don’t require permits but for Samhain we always rent a space and charge a fee to get in. At the outdoor rituals there is a basket available to drop a donation into in order to support other indoor gatherings (such as Yule when it is just too miserable to be outside) and yes, often it has almost nothing in it when everyone has left. And in fact, there were complaints about the cost of parking at our Spring Equinox ritual (there was free parking available but it was less convenient to the locale) but I think it is up to each pagan/witch to decide what they are willing to put up with; stretching the budget or convenience. I believe you have covered this topic with some delicacy as well as practicality. Blessings!

  • DawnM1227

    At the risk of just contribution with a tired internet comment field cliche’..

    This… So much, this.

    And one of the major reasons that the organization I tried so hard to put together and get the community in my area to join together on became a drain on me and I ended up walking away. Ten years of shouldering the work and the financial burden, almost exclusively myself… I had to walk away. From what I hear, it crumbled shortly thereafter. Oh, well. It’s sad.

  • aphrodite333

    Money is energy. It’s that simple. There should always be an exchange of energy to keep things in balance. Whether you put money in, put energy into something via an act of service, or whether you are the receipient of a service or money… The Laws of the Universe require an equal echange. If everyone realized that money is not dirty or ugly, but it is simply a gift in exchange for another gift, things would find their balance in the communities you refer to. If you are not able to or don’t care to give money then you should be giving back in some other way to keep the balance.

  • kenofken

    This is an area where the pagan community has to get real, on both sides of the equation-those who hold programming and those who participate. There is a freeloading mentality, but it arose and persists because of enabling behavior often done with the best of intentions.

    Leaders and teachers need to get real in recognizing that 99.9% of them are never going to make a decent living as full-time or even half time professional ministers in the foreseeable future. Most of us don’t really want a separate caste of paid ritualists or temple buildings, and almost all of those who do are wildly unrealistic about the costs of sustaining such institutions. Exhortations that “the community” in aggregate should grow up or “step up” are not going to change that. We do like our workshops and our festivals, but we need to get real about those as well. Those of you who lead and produce such events – be realistic about what they cost to do properly, communicate that, and don’t let anybody weasel out of anything. If people won’t support it with their wallets, they didn’t want it that badly and you don’t need to be wasting your time and stress on it.

    Leaders fall into this trap where they feel “called” to do a project, let everybody skate for free by pleading poverty, or by collecting some pittance of “love offering”, hoping and kvetching that people will somehow take the hint and pour fourth support. “Build it they will come” does not work. It has never worked for the generations of prior leaders who ran their own money and sanity into the ground, and it will not work for you either. It’s not sustainable, and it also draws the wrong sort of person and energy. Events and programs that cost nothing are valued at nothing. If it’s a zero-commitment proposition, people come if they have nothing better to do, or come an hour after its supposed to start etc. People who have even a nominal dollar amount sunk into something will tend to make time for something, not “find time” for it.

    Decide what you need to get for an event, whether it’s break-even or a fair dollar for your time and expertise, and stick to it. With tools like paypal or eventbrite, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to capture much of it in advance. If you want to charge less or nothing for some, maybe seniors or veterans or whoever, make it specific and limited. If people want to ask about scholarships or work for entry, make private arrangements with them.

    When you let people skate just by asserting “things are tight these days”, it makes fools of those who do pay. Everyone needs compassion and a helping hand at times, but habitual freeloading is a way of life, and it usually has very little, if anything, to do with their actual finances. Some of the most prolific freeloaders are quite well off. There are very few people even in this horrid economy that can’t come up with $10 or $20 for something that’s important to them, or even $50 for a good seminar.

    • Sable Aradia

      “Those of you who lead and produce such events – be realistic about what they cost to do properly, communicate that, and don’t let anybody weasel out of anything. If people won’t support it with their wallets, they didn’t want it that badly and you don’t need to be wasting your time and stress on it.” This is very good advice. It was a very hard lesson for me.

    • Anna H.

      Yes, this, all of this, every word of it.

      I won’t bore anyone with the details of our hard-won lesson, except to say that long-standing friendships were lost along along with money.

    • AnantaAndroscoggin

      One of the few towns full of rich people here in Maine is Kennebunkport (where George H.W. Bush lived at Walker’s Point). Those same people are some of the most notorious cheapskates in New England.

  • Roku

    I agree with compensating people for their time, money, and energy, if they so desire, and I have even argued with people against the notion that “you must never charge for witchcraft,” but it’s not because I hate rich people–it’s because I think it’s good to give back to those who have given me something of value. Your personal money issues are so loud in this article that I had a hard time taking any of your points or sweeping generalizations seriously.

  • Joanne Dunster

    You don’t enter into a goods-for-service relationship when you accept or give spiritual training. You join a family. I don’t want to pay money to join a family and I don’t want my spiritual life reduced to a transaction.

    • kenofken

      I don’t think most of the problem involves spiritual training of the sort one passes on within a coven or similar tradition. What’s really draining people are the festivals and public rituals and “how to” seminars on various topics. None of them are really essential to pagan spiritual life (or any other kind), but they are nice add-ons. It needed be completely transactional and market oriented as the more entrepreneurial self-help authors, but these things have real costs – hundreds or thousands of dollars even when done on a non-profit basis. There are always permits, supplies, facility rental, or at a bare minimum, gas money (which is a considerable expense these days). Unless they truly have the means and will to do so, event organizers or presenters should not have to eat these costs themselves.

    • Christopher

      But if you want to use a “spiritual family” metaphor for group organization, we still need to address the questions:

      “who foots the bill?”
      “who gets to play parent?” and
      “what social rules can be used to encourage people to pull their own weight in the group?”

      It was mentioned on another blog around here (perhaps some time ago) that pagan training often is in danger of devolving into students working out their parental issues.

      So I appreciate that you don’t want your spiritual life reduced to a transaction. Please appreciate that others may not want their spiritual lives turned into a family drama.

    • Anna H.

      I taught for years and I never understood this desire to join a “family” while pursuing spiritual training. Not only parental issues, but sibling issues arise with this, and the power dynamics can and often do go horribly awry.

      There’s lots of spiritual training that takes place around the world where deep, intimate and affectionate relationships are established that also have a transactional component.

  • aought

    This issue is central to all groups, and volunteering costs the volunteer more than just their time. I think all groups should have a modest yearly membership in the form of dues to support the basic expenses incurred. Events should also have fees, though the goal should be to just cover the costs and not on making a profit, unless they’re being used as a fund raiser.
    Interestingly enough, despite disdaining money, most humans don’t seem to really value something that cost them nothing! As for those who are truly in dire straights, there can always be a way devised to assure they can attend, or belong despite their lack of funds.

  • Florence Edwards-Miller

    Fantastic post. I’d like to reiterate what some others have said – the idea of money being uncomfortable or incomparable with religion is actually a very Christian concept. Most of the other religions don’t have an idea that ‘money is the root of all evil’ – Muslims tithe, Jews often charge to attend the High Holy Days services, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Japan have donating as a part of the ceremony when you visit.

    As someone else mentioned – money is just energy. Like the type of energy we work with in rituals or in healing, its only as good or as bad as what you do with it. It can be used healthily or unhealthily. I think that not only do we have to decide that we must pay for teachings (either with regular donations, or event charges) but we need to rethink how we think about all of the money in our lives and if how we talk about money matches what our spirituality teaches us about the rest of life.

    • Christopher

      I agree. To develop the idea further, both spiritual energy and money are forms of power. Judeo-Christian cosmology says they are in opposition. Capitalism informs us that money is more powerful.

      Why do we sometimes feel that if money is exchanged, it becomes “merely” a transaction? Is that always true?

    • AnantaAndroscoggin

      I once (back in the early ’90s) typeset an invitation set for “The Jewish Federation of Greater Miami Beach” to a fundraiser they were holding. There were multiple inserts and reply envelopes to the thing, a very complicated package. On one the the documents that they were sending out to their invitees was the statement: “Minimimum Donation $100,000″

      I suspect the everyday Joe of that area’s Jewish population did not recieve any of these invites.

      • Guest

        of course they did not –but by Ms Aradia’s words, they were somehow “empowered” by those invitations.

  • JasonMankey

    This is a really great post. I had never really given a lot of thought to some of the issues you shared here. When I lived in Michigan almost everyone lived in a giant house with a yard (and due to the crummy economy there home ownership in Michigan is still pretty doable for a lot of people). Sure they were old houses in slightly suspect neighborhoods, but they were big and there was plenty of space.

    When I moved out to California it took a lot of time to get used to just how big and small everything is. Cities are big, traffic jams are big, price tags are big, but houses and lots are small. Even “very rich people” houses in Northern California are smaller than my old home in Michigan. The days of hosting a ritual for 30 people ended when I signed my first least out here. Due to the blessings of the gods my wife and I have a house just barely big enough to host a coven, but we realize how lucky we are to have found that.

    This comment: ” Attempting to include everyone by making events free gives undue power and influence to those who can afford to front everyone else, and requires everyone to be their guests rather than their coreligionists.” had never occurred to me before. I’ve always known that hosting a public event at a private residence makes for an un-level playing field, but the way you put the whole issue. Hosting gives people a lot of power, whether they realize it or not.

    • PhoebeBoebe

      This comment: ” Attempting to include everyone by making events free
      gives undue power and influence to those who can afford to front
      everyone else, and requires everyone to be their guests rather than
      their coreligionists.” had never occurred to me before.

      perhaps because ‘guest’ and ‘co-religionist’ are not mutually exclusive categories? just a thought! :-)

  • Gwion

    I really enjoyed your post and the way that you presented the information.

    I’m both a Pagan community organizer and teacher. On the public ritual subject, we’ve been really clear with our local community what our costs are. In the past few years we’ve seen our site costs jump from 6 events at $100 rental fee and two events at $650 rental fees to 4 events at $400 and four events at $100 plus we now carry an insurance policy which costs another $700 per year. That’s a lot. We ask our community (anywhere from 50-350 people depending on the event) to pay on a sliding scale and we offer work trade a a “no one turned away” policy. We’ve been working to give any surpluses back to the community that are above and beyond our “reasonable working balance” in the form of scholarships and donations to like-minded non-profits in our area (The Ceres Foundation that provides folks with long-term illnesses excellent, nutritious food, for instance). But, at the end of the day, our small band of organizers see costs going up and available, affordable spaces becoming harder to secure.

    On the teaching side of things, the workshops I offer (about four a year) are often taught with a co-teacher. I make sure there’s a sliding scale, work trade and scholarships available to keep the work accessible. Space rentals, supplies. foods for participants and a tithe to the community often leave little of the “profits”. Transparent moment – What I do earn, I enjoy. I treat myself to something nice (a meal, a book, paying for my registration fees at a festival) and give thanks to those that provided the abundance.

    One area I’m really clear about though. I do not charge for mentoring, for being part of a coven, or initiatory work I might undertake with someone.

    I love this rich discussion. Thank you to all that have posted.

    • Sable Aradia

      Thanks for your thoughts, Gwion. Sounds like you’re doing things exactly like I would like, ideally, to see them done. Kudos!

  • Christine Mulrooney

    I was having a similar discussion recently and been thinking about this a bit and what surprises me is no one has suggested setting up these events like a sort of club/society. Ok probably not the best way to describe it but let me explain. I belong to a local paranormal research group everyone pays £10 a year membership which covers the quarterly magazine/news letter (as a PDF), public liability insurance, the forum and the website. There are then about 4 events a year which people pay a additional fee to cover costs. An evening event is £20-£35, the cost of our recent AGM was £55 (which include talks from midday, a three course meal, evening investigation and overnight stay at the venue, cheaper options were also available for people who did not want the meal or to stay) and we’re also off on a three day/night camping trip for £18 per person. We also have merchandise such as club t-shirts etc. At the AGM the accounts are shared (well high level any way) so everyone can see where the money goes. The group is run by a committee. It works for us as it’s open, transparent, clearly explained and allows us all to enjoy the chance to visit places we couldn’t afford on own with out paying the 2 – 3 times higher fees for ‘proffesionally run’ events. Having previously been a member of a coven I would be perfectly happy to be told by the high priest/priestess ” it costs me £X a year to run the group and £Y to hire a venue with another group for open/joint open ritual, can you contribute £Z please”

    • Sable Aradia

      I think this is a good idea. Our tradition is considering “tradition dues” to be done in this similar sort of way. Nothing expensive, just a few bucks a month, or possibly work-trade if you’re desperately strapped. That suggestion is part of what sparked the writing of the article.

  • paizlea

    I helped run a long series of public sabbats many years ago. We needed to pay for the space, but didn’t want to keep out those who couldn’t afford an admission fee. So we settled on donations, but we made a point to have a short friendly speech about how without the donations, we’d have to stop the events. We almost always covered costs, and even occasionally went over, which helped when donations were low. The key, I believe, is to be up front with communicating the practical requirements for running public events.

    • Sable Aradia

      You could be right. I am very bad at asking people for money. Or you may have successfully attracted more financially-successful Pagans than I have. Either way, I’m glad it worked for you.

  • Debbie Romero Gallagher

    Hmm. The problem with money is that it has a power of its own. It can be argued that the Christian distaste for financial exchange has seeped into pagan consciousness where it doesn’ t belong, a hangover from the belief that matter, sensuality and worldly enjoyment is somehow evil. But the truth is that the Christian Church at least (I use this example because it is the one I know best) has been into money for a long time; from almshouses to the Vatican, from medieval indulgences to modern day charismatic evangelists… The problem is not necessarily that pagans shun money because they are tainted with Christian guilt – it’s because money love appears to be destroying the world, and every single thing in this world seems to have its price; seeds, lives, clean water, self respect – everything comes down to money. There’s a knee jerk reaction against that. People do not want to pay for their connection to the divine, and the moment they do, they want a solid guaranteed return. This is very different to chipping in towards a site/ritual, or donating towards a cause. I am not interested in the former. But of course, I’ll always help towards the latter.

  • Jennifer White

    Thank you for a great post. You voiced much better than what I have been trying to find a way to express for years. Everything costs. Why should we not share with our friends the cost? Do we, as Pagans, expect our hosts to shoulder all the costs? Even those that hold events at their homes? It’s why I try to always bring things to help. Thank you again.

  • Indigo Glitterlust

    While I agree that people should be compensated for their time/effort, even if only to defray costs of putting on an event (which is a LOT of work), this “discriminates against the poor” argument is not a good to hitch your wagon to, IMO. Power dynamics exist as a fact of life, and a little $$ doesn’t automatically make that disappear (in fact, insisting that everyone has to pay actually means poor pagans can’t participate, contrary to your “discrimination” argument).

    • Sable Aradia

      “Power dynamics exist as a fact of life” – so what you’re saying, then, is that it’s okay with you if the “wealthy” in your community have more power than those who are less fortunate?

      • PhoebeBoebe

        considering that the truly poor can’t even afford a price that is charged [it is kind of why they are poor], your trickle-down economic treatise guarantees that the ‘haves’ remain in power, anyway, and the ‘have-nots’ are at the mercy of having some one else fit the bill or not attending at all.

        • Ms. Cell Machine


          And I’m not even against the idea of people charging for prices of admission to see lectures, attend events, even with a take it or leave it mentality, but money problems especially in this economy is a reality and you can’t just pressure others in to paying because it will allegedly trickle down, it won’t.

          Sometimes it’s just best for people who have to charge to say this is how much it costs, no negotiations or haggling allowed, and that’s okay. There’s no point in arguing with people over price, especially online because it tends to reflect badly on the seller or service provider, at least when it comes to smaller businesses anyway. I’ve seen a few too many examples of small business owners wasting their time arguing with customers online, it didn’t help much. Maybe it was a sign perhaps they were charging too much for a product or service in that particular market, but it didn’t change anyone’s minds.

      • Indigo Glitterlust

        I said “power dynamics exist as a fact of life”, I didn’t say “let’s throw a parade for it.” Who said anything about being OK with it?

        People with money have greater access to various things (influence in public life; healthcare; whatever) than people who don’t have money. That’s an observation.

        Now, that being said, money isn’t the only source of power. If I can do something myself, I don’t need to pay someone else to do it (“give a man a fish/teach a man to fish” etc), and in fact, I could probably use my skills to create a position of power/influence for myself.

        In the context of this discussion, someone who doesn’t have money, but does have a skill could offer that. The concept of “gift for a gift” doesn’t require that I offer you the *exact* same thing you offer me.

  • PhoebeBoebe

    unfortunately, you seem to fail at arguing that actual discrimination is happening by making events free. the opposite argument, that free events erase the boundaries of economic class, make a lot more sense.

    then there’s the fact that by charging admission, the poor still aren’t at any more of an opportunity to put on an event than anyone else. i’ve actually worked at events, renting a hall, or even just a park shelter, is going to require a minimum $150 deposit where i live, and that would have to be paid when the space is booked for the event – if someone doesn’t have that, and can’t put together a comittee to put up that money, then the space can’t be rented. then there’s the fact that most _successful_ events are lucky to break even, someone is always going to end up spending a little out-of-pocket, and if you can barely afford to keep yourself and your dog fed, where’s the empowering money going to come from?

    if a coven decides that it’s best to meet up in what would be ‘neutral ground’ for its members, and those costs must be defrayed by everyone pitching in an equal amount, well, those who genuinely cannot afford the monthly $5 fee (hypothetically) are still going to be at the mercy of another’s hospitality, by the very logic you present.

    life is about give and take, power exchanges, and all that. we each start out as a child and many of us become the parent later. most of us were students in one form or another, and some of us eventually become teachers. all of us, at more points than we’d really bother to count, are the guests of a host – this is not a bad thing, and it is not in any way ‘discrimination’, it is reality. did you go to a store today? you were a guest – you may have had that ‘powerful’ cash, but in many places, shopkeepers have the right to refuse to do business with you, for any reason; those reasons may come under public scrutiny which may end poorly for the shopkeeper, but when you step into a shop, you’re not the one with the power, no matter how much money you may have. when a friend invites you over for tea, again, you are a guest in their home, you may be very close, they may let you do a lot of things that less-familiar guests couldn’t get away with, but you’re still a guest and your presence is at their discretion. you paint this hospitality as a ‘bad thing’ when it comes to religion, but you fail to do so in a thoroughly convincing manner.

    • Ms. Cell Machine

      There’s also the problem of an assumed trickle down economics for poor pagans in her argument, lack of appreciation for those who contribute in other ways without cash involved, amongst other things.

      • PhoebeBoebe

        [nods] indeed. the only measure of worth she portrays in the whole post is The Almighty Dollar. its sad to see that’s what the god of neopaganism has become.

        • Ms. Cell Machine

          Money is important, but without reflection on the problems of capitalism and economic structures you can unintentionally sound like an Reaganite.
          And personally I don’t take most of the middle of the road Pagan Leaders seriously simply because too many see their religions as solutions, not real radical collective action. But I digress. :)

          • PhoebeBoebe

            the other issue i have with her post is –i’m not so sure it’s ‘unintentional’. the amount of virtual nodding-in-agreement to this post and stuff i’ve seen elsewhere from other neopagans [those who explicitly identify as neocons and libertarians], i’m not so sure this isn’t an intentional implication on Ms Aradia’s part. it’s been forever since I’ve read The Gospel of the Witches, but it just seems to counter to her namesake that i kinda hope it’s unintentional, but i gotta give some benefit to the doubt, at this point, cos it’s an attitude that i see increasing in the pagan and neopagan community.

            • Ms. Cell Machine

              How important are these gatherings to most Neopagans anyway, verses say, independent study groups?

            • Ms. Cell Machine

              Honestly, I don’t see it as that ‘bothersome’ since it’s not like paganism in itself is progressive by default, given the history of the world it was always awful and full of horrific atrocities. And I’d be careful about where you read what because that doesn’t necessarily reflect everyone’s views, just people being open about it.

              • PhoebeBoebe

                very true.

    • PhoebeBoebe

      so, Ms Aradia, are you ever going to _actually acknowledge_ the criticisms you’ve received over this, or are you going to continue to pull the wool over your own eyes?

    • PhoebeBoebe

      Ms Aradia, are you ever going to _actually acknowledge and address_ the criticisms you’ve received over this or is supporting trickle-down Reaganomics more important to you than actually supporting the poor and struggling?

  • Elizabeth Ford

    Here’s a thought- practice your religion at home and dont rely on others to “train” you. Hierarchy is a dangerous idea and antithetical to the basic ethics of paganism.

    • paizlea

      Just make everything up yourself, right? Don’t even bother reading, since you’d be acknowledging the possibility the author might have more knowledge than you in a given subject.

      • Elizabeth Ford

        You are presuming its not all made up by someone else and that each person’s experience and insight are not equally valid expressions of the divine.

        • paizlea

          You are presuming there is no value in what others have done in the past. Hierarchy can be abused, but I won’t deny the wisdom of others.

          • Elizabeth Ford

            At what point have I denied the wisdom of others? You are simply reacting to what you think you read, not to the points that were raised. There is much to be learned from others but I do not access the divine through them. I have and give mutual friendship, not obeisance.

            • paizlea

              You denied the wisdom of others when you rejected training as an acceptable path to knowledge, and implied that all public events are hierarchical. Why do you think public circles are bad?

              • Elizabeth Ford

                Your logic is very flawed, as if you hadnt paid attention in either Senior English or university freshman logic. I neither denied the wisdom of others or implied all public events were hierarchical. Training is not necessary for knowledge. I have been to many non-hierarchical, empowering and illuminating open circles.

                • PhoebeBoebe

                  True, you didn’t *explicitly* deny the wisdom of others, but Paizlea stated that you did so *implicitly*:


                • paizlea

                  Your logic is very flawed, as if you hadnt paid attention in either Senior English or university freshman logic.

                  Insults are a great way to be taken seriously in a civil discussion. The more you denigrate those who disagree with you, the more you’ll appear intelligent and thoughtful. Please continue, you’re sure to win this debate now!

                  I neither denied the wisdom of others or implied all public events were hierarchical. Training is not necessary for knowledge.

                  Your unequivocal disdain for hierarchical training does come off as denying the wisdom of those who practice it. Did you mean to say that even though it’s not your path, you appreciate the value trad-type training has for others in our community, and accept that it is as valid a path as yours?

    • PhoebeBoebe

      That’s a nice idea, but unfortunately many traditions of witchcraft and philosophy do rely on initiates being trained by others, and hierarchies within a particular tradition is a thing that has been practised since ancient times, meaning it’s been a trait of pagan religions for literally thousands of years.

      • Elizabeth Ford

        Your comments referring to “tradition” and “ancient times” imply that you do not recognize the reconstruction of presumed beliefs based in science fiction and fanstasy novels. This is as dangerous to the pagan community as Prosperity Theology is to Protestantism. I do not recognize any man-made hierarchy as necessary or superior to my spiritual development

        • PhoebeBoebe

          Sci-fi, eh? I’ll assume that you’re unfamiliar with the Socratic schoools, Pythagoras, or even Empedocles. These are not “presumed beliefs”, they’re historically documented fact –and all schools required study under teachers.

          True, none of these schools were especially necessary, but to dismiss them as “sci-fi” or some “Protestant” taint is to betray one’s ignorance of history and ancient paganisms.

          • Elizabeth Ford

            There is no relationship between the Academies of the Classical Greeks and modern paganism. As a matter of fact, the Sophists would consider a student to be a failure if they accepted the knowledge from a teacher simply due to hierarchical tradition

            • PhoebeBoebe

              No relationship? Well, if one is restricting one’s definition of “modern paganism” to “IBAB Wicca” and the Bonewits’ and Zells’ little parties in the woods, then yeah, one would be correct.

              • Elizabeth Ford

                While not a follower of the Zells, I have respect for their work in the community. It is an interesting and yet tragic coincidence that your commentary appears at the same time as the notification that Morning Glory has been brought back to her place in” the woods” for the final days of her life.

                Go ahead and congratulate yourself on what you suppose to be your great knowledge and wisdom. I shall take my graduate degrees and 25 years in this commmunity and do something constructive like bake a pumpkin pie for my son.

          • Brea Plum

            Your analogy is far off base. Your list has nothing to do with religion or tradition; they were schools of philosophy, mathematics and natural science respectively. Socrates especially was not a teacher, he described himself as merely a midwife, which is why he himself never wrote anything down. As for ‘tradition’, I have one word for you – hemlock.

            • PhoebeBoebe

              Your analogy is far off base. Your list has nothing to do with religion
              or tradition; they were schools of philosophy, mathematics and natural
              science respectively.

              and i guess this is just another place where neopagans and traditional polytheists differ. you insist on separating the two, when i, and the ancients, do not, because it all comes back to the gods.

              Socrates especially was not a teacher, he described himself as merely a
              midwife, which is why he himself never wrote anything down.

              and yet there were those who considered themselves his students. and really, look at the poetic potential of that statement: what does a midwife do? assists a new life into the world. a proper teacher does the same.

              • Brea Plum

                I am an atheist but more to the point, I am a Classicist. You are describing ideas, concepts, people and history you apparently know little about and understand even less.

                • Indigo Glitterlust

                  A Classicist who thinks the Pythagoreans were only a school of mathematicians? Really? Is metempsychosis taught in geometry or calculus?

                  Oh, and while we’re talking about Pythagoras, find me something he himself wrote (since we’re dismissing Socrates as a “teacher” just because he didn’t write anything himself). I’d love to read it.

                  • PhoebeBoebe

                    there really is no point in trying to talk to many atheists about ancient Mediterranean people, since they like to cling to their own ‘mythology’ about the ancients of that region being Totes Atheist and the various pantheons were somehow ‘just stories’ or something like that. it’s like that joke about Belfast tuffs asking the unaware tourist if he was a Catholic or Protestant, then the tourist says ‘atheist’ and they respond ‘so is that Catholic atheist or Prod’estan atheist?’ it is less about holding a certain ‘theology’, or lack thereof, and more about possessing a certain kind of worldview and mentality or another; there are ‘pagan atheists’, to be sure, but they’re typically dedicated to the actual history and natural facts –unlike Ms Plum, who is frothing at the mouth to defend her mythology of the Pythagorean and Empedoclean schools being ‘only’ about maths and natural history, and Socrates ‘only’ being about philosophy, as if these were topics that can truly be separated from ancient Hellenic religion. the _clearly Christian_ ‘atheists’ who pretend to be a part of the pagan community make themselves apparent by spouting the same kind of nonsense that Ms Plum has, which has no more basis in reality than the serpent in the garden, or Noah’s Ark, or the ensalvement of theHebrews, or the historicity of the Christ. but the notion of Pythagoreas being ‘only a mathemetician’, et al…, is so deeply _sacred_ to the Christian atheist that they’ll cherry-pick the facts [if they acknowledge any of the actual facts, at all] in order to support their nonsense.

                    the fact of the matter is, no _real_ Classicist worth their salts would deny the piety of Pythagoreas, Socrates, Empedocles, Epicurus, or any other name in ancient Hellenic philosophy, or the inherent mysticism and piety in their teachings, because to such a person the facts are more important than atheist revisionism.

                  • PhoebeBoebe

                    ah… that is correct: all we know of Pythagoreas’ teachings was written down by others, often long after his death. and possibly by ninjas, if _Reign: The Conqueror_ is anything to go by.

                    • Indigo Glitterlust

                      oh, well obviously it was the ninjas, of course :P

                      I may be a drag queen, but I’m a drag queen with a history degree and a hard-on for greek philosophy/religion ;)

                • PhoebeBoebe

                  you clearly do not understand ancient religion as much as you think you do –but then, i also advise parents from learning about child-rearing from the childfree, so why would i ask an atheist about religion?

                • PhoebeBoebe

                  He ordained that his disciples should speak well and think reverently of the Gods, Muses and Heroes, and likewise of parents and benefactors; that they should obey the laws; that they should not relegate the worship of the Gods to a secondary position, performing it eagerly, even at home; that to the celestial divinities they should sacrifice uncommon offerings; and ordinary ones to the inferior deities. All things were divided between, on the one hand, the superior, light, right, equal, stable and straight; while the “other” was inferior, dark, left, unequal, unstable and movable. (Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras 38)

                  Yep, has NOTHING to do with religion or the Gods. I’m clearly the one who has no understanding of a thing.

                • PhoebeBoebe

                  oh, and on Empedocles:

                  He has been regarded variously as a materialist physicist, a shamanic magician, a mystical theologian, a healer, a democratic politician, a living god, and a fraud.

                  In psychology and ethics Empedocles was a follower of Pythagoras, hence a believer in the transmigration of souls, and hence also a vegetarian. He claims to be a daimôn, a divine or potentially divine being, who, having been banished from the immortals gods for ‘three times countless years’ for committing the sin of meat-eating and forced to suffer successive reincarnations in an purificatory journey through the different orders of nature and elements of the cosmos, has now achieved the most perfect of human states and will be reborn as an immortal. He also claims seemingly
                  magical powers including the ability to revive the dead and to control the winds and rains.

                  yep, I see it all so clearly now: Empedocles was ONLY about ‘natural science’ and NOT RELIGION. please, do come back to ‘school’ me on how badly i misunderstand things about my own religion.

                  when are you going to discard this atheist mythology of yours for real facts? Empedocles, Pythagoeas, and many others were MYSTICS _in addition to being_ scientists and mathemeticians –in the ancient Mediterranean, these things were so intricately entwined that they were practically one-in-the-same. i am so bored with atheists, all-too-often carrying around the inherently Christian mentalities inherited from their families, cherry-picking facts about ancient thought in flimsy efforts to make it conform to an inherently modern atheist outlook –especially when they come back at _me_ and accuse _me_ of misunderstanding the facts about my own religion.

                • PhoebeBoebe

                  what is this, then? no further attempts to tell me what an esteemed ‘Classicist’ [who apparently has read nothing about Pythagoras or Empedocles or others...] you are? please, Brea Plum, come back and attempt to ‘school’ me some more. please come back and try again to tell me how little i know and how much less i understand about my own religion. please tell me how a mystic who claimed to be a physical incarnation of a divine being was ‘only’ about natural science, or the vegetarian who *still* sacrificed oxen to the gods as Their due, and taught his students to put the worship of the Theoi first, was ‘only’ a mathematician. it was really cute the first time you did that, and i think my mood could use a boost.

        • Indigo Glitterlust

          And what about the reconstruction of beliefs based on history, archaeology, and extant primary sources, as found in the Hellenic/Roman/Kemetic/Celtic/Norse/etc. recon communities? It’s a shame to see skill, knowledge, and excellence tossed out the window because of some mistaken belief in “basic ethics of paganism”–as if there were only ONE kind of paganism? Neo-paganism/Wiccanesque religion is not the only game out there.

    • Ms. Cell Machine

      That may depend, of course, by what you may mean by “pagan”, and I think a universal ethics for a very large group of religions may be very unlikely. :)

      • Elizabeth Ford

        I agree. That was an overgeneralization.

    • Ms. Cell Machine

      On the other hand, I do agree there are problems with looking at one’s mentor or teacher unquestionably, and some can be assholes. It’s one of the reasons why I’m mainly looking for people with experience for advice now, but little interest in being VIP leaders in any community.

      • PhoebeBoebe

        oh, there is certainly a problem with accepting the words of our leaders, teachers, and [often self-appointed] sages unquestionably, but there’s a point where questioning everything stops being a means of seeking wisdom and becomes little more than, to hearken back to the real Usenet definition, a trolling tactic –where the only point to it is to annoy people and, to those less ingenious trolls, pretend it actually takes the status quo to task. there is a difference between questioning things in the quest for true knowledge and wisdom [and any teacher worth their salts would encourage those questions], and questioning everything just for the hell of it, or because you think it’s going to take the leaders down a notch, and so on. the former teaches the querant about the questioned, the latter teaches the one being questioned about the querant.

        • Ms. Cell Machine

          I believe it’s a good idea for me not to get in to specifics in my case, but I certainly wasn’t a troll.
          There’s a lot of issues involving ambition and what principles are more convenient to support than others at a given time than others, so I’m pretty aware of what’s the most important thing to some individuals regardless of how much years of experience they have in their field. So I’m done looking for a mentor for awhile.

          • PhoebeBoebe

            oh, i certainly was not accusing you of trolling :-) just illustrating that there is a time and place for questions and a time and place where it is best to learn [assuming one is ready to].

            it is like how they say every sixteen-year-old assumes they know everything, but most thirty-two-year-olds realise how little they know, especially when they were sixteen, themselves.

            it is nice if @disqus_sw6EiEkWw7:disqus has reached a point where she[?] feels she has no need for teachers anymore, but the mentality that no-one does seems inherently infantile, and is certainly at odds with the lived realities of many, thus demonstrating a fundamental lack of knowledge about the ‘modern’ pagan community she implies is oh-so-different from the old ways. i know of a neo-Orphic group in Greece that has a lineage of teachers going back at least the last century. Traditional Wicca [as opposed to the 'eclectic' versions] have lineages and teachers and people have to earn their rank in those lineages. Feri, too, has lineages and teachers. the best teachers amongst those groups certainly encourage people to ask questions, but they also realise that certain questions at certain times may signify that the person is not yet ready to learn the ways of that tradition.

            are those lineages necessary to be a pagan? of course they are not, but if one wants to be a part of any one of those specific lineages, then studying under one of those teachers is necessary. like how, no, one does not need chocolate to make a cake, but if one wants to make a chocolate cake, in specific, then that necessitates chocolate.

  • Sarah

    As the organizer of a Pagan group with regular attendance of 20-40 people, I spent $50+ out of pocket on each ritual I led. I heard similar numbers from other ritual leaders. We operated on donations, and I think the most we ever got in the basket was $10. So I can really relate to the statement that “without fees . . . only rich Pagans can host gatherings.” I was really concerned about the effect this had on the group’s power structure and on people’s perception of who was qualified to lead ritual, but I had to balance that with the fact that most of the people in the group were poor or working class, some of them even homeless, and I never really felt like I’d found the right answer.

    These days, I truly can’t “afford to drink coffee or tea in a coffee shop or tea bar.” Being poor makes it hard for me to participate in the Pagan community, but site fees are actually a very small part of that. Site fees can usually be discreetly waived when needed, but there are a lot of hidden costs to attending Pagan events that people who aren’t poor might not notice. I’ve decided not to go to events because everyone was asked to bring an offering, like fresh flowers, or wine, that I couldn’t afford. I’ve had to say “no” to rituals that required specific clothing I didn’t have and couldn’t buy. I’ve turned down tons of invitations because I couldn’t afford to take time off work.

    There are other, less tangible ways that people living in poverty are shut out from the Pagan community. Hanging around the local metaphysical shop isn’t a great option for meeting people if you can’t even afford a 95 cent quartz point. The Pagan practice of someone who can’t afford incense, essential oils, candles, or crystals looks very different from what most Pagans are used to. Simple statements like “I can’t afford that” or “I’m on a tight budget” can get you in trouble with “Law of Attraction” devotees who believe just talking about poverty will draw more poverty your way. Other fans of this Pagan prosperity gospel will tell you that being poor is a choice, and have you tried choosing not to be poor?

    Then there’s the question of priorities. I declined an event invite a while back because I had work, and one of the hosts went off on me, ranting about how people needed to think about where their priorities lie and some people just didn’t take their spirituality seriously. I would ask Pagan leaders to keep in mind that just because someone makes spirituality a priority in their life doesn’t mean that your event is going to be a priority in their life. Paying your debts and caring for your family are sacred duties, too. And if the way our community events are set up forces poor people to choose between nurturing their spirituality and caring for their families, maybe we should think about setting them up differently.

    • Ms. Cell Machine

      I’ve never been to a pagan gathering, but most pagans I’ve known in real life don’t even visit them much either, regardless of income level. I was always under the assumption most of them did their spiritual work at home anyway, especially since gatherings don’t and can’t happen 24/7/365. If there are really people out there who think only places you can be religious is at a paid event then they must not know a whole lot of poor, low income, or working class people. ETA: Or most religious people in general.

    • Ms. Cell Machine

      In fact it is pretty odd people are defining religion by the festivals and group rituals you go to, and if you base your paganism by festivals and conventions then perhaps you’re really not that religious, but more like people who come from Christian families but only celebrate Christmas when they leave home.

      There are other ways to meet co-religionists or occultists anyway, like through the internet, starting a study group, an advert at a metaphysical or cafe or book shop, those kinds of things.

    • Sable Aradia

      This is an excellent post with lots of very good points. My argument stems from that shared experience; paying $50 out of pocket is a lot of money for those of us with limited incomes. I couldn’t afford to do it anymore and so cut down the number of public events that I did, which ultimately created strife with the non-profit organization I am a part of. I also have not gone to events where there have been requirements for specific costly garb or offerings; I also have turned down events because I had to work. I agree with you completely about the “Law of Attraction” people. ;) I always believed that if you really are that cash-strapped, I would be happy to have your help setting up the potluck and putting up decorations or posters instead. I think that’s a perfectly valid way to contribute.

      I regularly attend a great event near Edmonton called PanFest. They charge admission for a three-day event which includes food and accommodations for all levels of ability (my husband is a highly-functional quadriplegic and I have gluten and lactose allergies). The price they charge is about the same as it would cost you to eat at home. They manage this by doing fundraisers throughout the year and running the event entirely by volunteer labour; every festival attendee is required to do at least four hours of work over the weekend and you select preferences of job and time on the registration form (my husband runs nighttime base security one of the three nights). Even with all this, they still have scholarships – and my husband and I were recipients of it the year before last. That’s how I think things should be done!

      There have been several speculations and questions about what I consider to be “reasonable.” I think it reasonable that for public or community events, 100% of the present, and the anticipated expenses of the next event, should be covered, which should then be held in trust for the community in some way (cookie jar or registered non-profit, that’s your call). I think if you don’t make it clear that everyone is expected to contribute to this, every event is going to end up with the organizers paying out of pocket. Certainly that has been my experience, and I have organized more than a hundred public Pagan events in my life; and I don’t think the people of my region are particularly jerks. ;) And that means that I, personally, in my life, am $5000 out of pocket in order to bring Pagan events to my community.

      As to workshops, classes, etc. – why not the same markup as the retail cost of a book, which is a service we don’t seem to mind paying for? Costs plus 40% (a wholesaler account with a publisher means that you pay 60% of a book’s retail cost from a distributor to buy it for resale.) A person is compensated for their time and expertise, doesn’t have to pay out of pocket for the privilege, and maybe can make a little spending cash on it; or a workable living, if they’re really busy and dedicated and well-known. Fair wage for fair work.

      It’s unfortunate that for many of us, getting together in real, physical person, and not over the internet, is limited to these events. Metaphysical stores all over North America are closing; with competition from online markets, they simply can’t afford to stay in business anymore. The only ones left in the interior of British Columbia, for example (a very large area that hosts one of the biggest and oldest metaphysical events in North America) are all doing metaphysics as sidelines to something else. Public events, especially such events as Pagan Pride celebrations, become even more important as metaphysical shops close; how else do we meet people? And someone still has to buy the coffee and pay for electricity at study groups.

      • Ms. Cell Machine

        “…Public events, especially such events as Pagan Pride celebrations, become even more important as metaphysical shops close; how else do we meet people? And someone still has to buy the coffee and pay for electricity at study groups.”

        I don’t know about the area you live, but I will bring up the Goth community. There is a small handful of clubs most of us go to around here, but not everyone much less most of us can go or afford to go to the right clubs 6 or 7 days a week. In fact clubgoing has been going down slightly. Has this killed goth? Far from it, indeed there are websites and blogs on how to be cheap that they share, there are people who meet each other through other venues like the internet, coffee shops, parks, and other places. Yes, there should be at least one or two to buy a drink at a coffee place if there’s to be a big meetup in one of them, but you have a rather unimaginative view I believe about where and how a study group can or should take place.

        There’s also the little matter of how the internet has massively changed everything the past 15 years. Maybe once upon a time 30 years ago it was much more difficult to meet other pagans and/or occultists, but it’s a lot different now, and many more groups that have little to do with Wicca either. It’s not uncommon for pagans and magicians to get to know each other from finding people online-often leading to meeting each other in real life, whether it be FaceBook or internet searches. Same is true for Goths.

        Personally, I have little or no reason to go to Pagan Pride events much less pay up for Cons, I think their time or importance has passed at least as meeting areas because it’s so much easier to find the resources, or at least references and bibliographies relevant to what I am interested in online these days, along with the right forums or ability to create them.

        Instead of assuming Pagan festivals permanent relevance, perhaps its time for those who want to organize these things to do Market Research for once, also importantly, try to see why most members of the Pagan community don’t bother any more than most goths don’t do clubs 24/7 while having little or no problems meeting each other outside payed and members only events.

  • Jolie

    I mostly went to the Pagan events I attended as a volunteer for the fellowship factor. Others I went to as a vendor. But I mostly practice my religion without a lot of ritual, pomp and circumstance, so those events are more about hanging out with like minded people rather than worship for me. I always donated, even if it was just a couple of dollars. I have no problem with money. It’s a necessary evil in the world I inhabit, nothing more. I also have no issue with people charging a REASONABLE amount of money for their services. The ones I have issues with are the ones who charge more than they really need to.

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  • Autumn Windwalker

    Why not have both donations and a signup sheet whereon people can indicate things they can bring to help defray the cost of ritual items, like candles or flowers or food and drink for the post-ritual feast, or something along those lines?

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