Going Mainstream

There’s been a lot of discussion about Paganism “going mainstream.” Should we go mainstream? Is it wrong to go mainstream? What do we lose by going mainstream? What do we gain by it? Gus DiZerega spoke about the danger of losing our edge as we go mainstream.

One question I don’t hear often asked is can Paganism go mainstream? Do we even have the ability? Are we ready? Are we capable? The truth is, we have a lot of things working against us.

Lack of Religious Education

While I was unable to find reliable statistics to link to, I did find estimates that 70% of mainstream clergy have attended brick-and-mortar, traditional seminaries. One must assume that a Methodist attends a Methodist or Methodist-inclusive seminary, and so on for Episcopalians, Catholics and Presbyterians. I imagine not very many Baptists attend Catholic seminaries and vice-versa.

Few Pagan clergy have attended seminary, and a fewer number still have attended Pagan seminaries. No Pagan seminaries to my knowledge are accredited by any institution, although Cherry Hill Seminary is working very hard towards that end.

Now there are Pagans who will argue all this is unnecessary, that a disciplined Pagan education is harmful and anti-intuitive, or that formal religious education is simply caving into monotheistic norms. Yet I think Plato, Plotinus, Pythagoras, Julian and Plethon would greatly disagree with that. The fact is, most Pagans don’t even have something along the lines of Sunday School or regular study groups, much less degrees in Pagan studies.

The Problem With Editing

I remember picking up a semi-popular Pagan book and finding within the first two pages that the only editing performed on the manuscript was a quick run through spell-check, because though the words were spelled correctly, they made no sense in the context. Grapes grown in the vineyard-laden Chile make sense, but I’d like to see the person who can grow grapes worth the effort in a pot of chili.

Most Pagan authors publish through small publishers. Often those publishers don’t have a trained editor. Sometimes the only editing performed is a run through spell-check. The problem with this is the point of editing is to make the book better and the writer better. A good editor will make your writing better, will increase your skill and make you look better.

I’ve had the fortune to talk to book editor and author Kathryn Hinds, who was trained apprentice-style in New York, about how proper editing is waning. She finds it frustrating that proper training no longer seems necessary for book editors. I can sympathize with her concerns because my experience with editors has always been positive. More than once something I have written for Patheos has come back to me laden with notes, and I won’t claim it’s made me a great writer, but it certainly has made me suck less. I’ve reached the point where I expect to be edited, and if I’m not, then I’m worried that my writing didn’t receive enough attention, that it’s lacking needed improvements.

So if the majority of Pagan writers lack proper editing support, then they are lacking the feedback they need to become better writers and write better books. The publishing-on-demand and e-publishing models are not the solution to great Pagan books, they are part of the problem and creating a plethora of unedited, unexamined and unrefined books. Since most people trying to learn about Paganism do so by reading, this is a problem.

Sponging Up the Fringe

You would think it would be enough to be Pagan and to promote Paganism. It’s not. Paganism carries a wave of causes along with it , as if it crawled out of the sea dragging a net full of strange fish. Many of these causes are considered so broadly worthy and integral to Pagan values that they are practically inseparable, such as GLBTQI issues, environmentalism and equal religious rights.

Yet to be Pagan is to be expected to be pro-kink, pro-nudism, pro-legalization-of-marijuana, pro-sex-worker-rights, pro-homeschooling, pro-polyamory, pro-homeopathy, pro-choice, and a bunch of other things. It’s a lot of banners to fly. If you were to try to carry a physical banner for all of theses causes you’d be crushed and smothered by the weight.

There’s nothing wrong with these causes, but they aren’t our religion and they can’t form the litmus test of our religion. You can be a teetotaling conservative who dresses modestly, advocates celibacy until hetero-marriage and eats off Styrofoam plates and still be Pagan if you seek a relationship with the Gods, ancestors and/or land spirits.

Being Pagan is hard enough, and a lifetime of work, without being expected to fight for and espouse every alternative lifestyle option. Not supporting causes that are not part of their lifestyle, particularly when they are illegal, doesn’t make someone less Pagan. For Paganism to be mainstream, it really can’t be carrying an army of banners around everywhere it goes. The Pagan banner is heavy enough.

Letting Go Of “The Man”

For Paganism to actually become mainstream, it has to stop characterizing every sign of success and acceptance as selling out or being elitist. It has to stop seeing every setback or rejection as “the Man” trying to keep them down.

I think the biggest thing preventing a “Pagan Oprah,” or a “Pagan Deepak Chopra” is not that there isn’t a market for it, or that Pagan wisdom isn’t something the public would reject, but that Paganism won’t support Pagans reaching out to mainstream audiences. They are characterized as greedy, sell-outs, “secret Christians” and a host of other unpleasant accusations.

For Pagans to become mainstream, they need public faces that can speak to mainstream audiences and there are precious few Pagans who have the talent and drive combined with a thick enough skin to suffer the onslaught of their co-religionists. The ancients believed in excellence, in heroes and in building reputation and fame. I think that’s one key area in which Modern Paganism differs from it’s predecessor, because by and large, though it is emerging slowly from the shadows, Paganism today seems to favor conformity over excellence, heroism and fame.

The truth is Paganism doesn’t want to go mainstream, though it seems inevitable as it continues to grow. We’re being pushed into the mainstream kicking and screaming, and not exactly putting our best foot forward.

But maybe I’m just being a crank. What do YOU think?

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About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

    What a nice way of saying that Pagans tend to “Eat their Elders” Something that needs to stop if we are to move forward.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I don’t know about that. I think there are elders who tend to eat the youngsters as well.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        We have a nasty tendency to Balkanise our “community”.  This isn’t to say that other faiths don’t do the same thing, mind, but it’s something that I think holds us back from being taken very seriously in some sectors.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

    What a nice way of saying that Pagans tend to “Eat their Elders” Something that needs to stop if we are to move forward.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I don’t know about that. I think there are elders who tend to eat the youngsters as well.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        We have a nasty tendency to Balkanise our “community”.  This isn’t to say that other faiths don’t do the same thing, mind, but it’s something that I think holds us back from being taken very seriously in some sectors.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

    True also and just as much a problem

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

    True also and just as much a problem

  • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

    The biggest problem that I perceive is that many Pagan are still viewing our potential future through a Christian lens. We can have education and trained clergy and it does not have to look like the mainstream model. Ancient pagan societies had their druids, flamens, and other priests and priestesses that worked in temples, led cults, performed rites of passage and sacrifices, and that didn’t impede others from being pagan and performing their own personal rites at home. These things can all coexist.

    • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

      While I agree, part of the difficulty is that those positions in ancient pagan societies were things that had privileges that accompanied them, and that people had to work very hard for in some cases (others, not–the Graeco-Roman priesthoods were often inherited religious duties that could be bought and sold, and weren’t always looked upon as beneficial), but, further and very importantly, that society supported and even “funded.”  Most modern pagan clergy and learned authorities aren’t paid, and often aren’t even thanked, by the people they serve, nor is their position supported by the structures of society.  Large-scale modern pagan organizations and community centers that own property and such today are rare, and many of them are going under because they can’t afford their overhead, much less to compensate those who work for them.

      So, it’s harder to get the things infrastructure-wise to make it possible for these learned individuals, and the work they do, to become viable and desirable enough for people to want to sign up for doing them.  The snark and derision faced in many situations that occur today would be enough to drive any sane person off the notion.

      • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

        Most modern pagan clergy and learned authorities aren’t paid, and often
        aren’t even thanked, by the people they serve, nor is their position
        supported by the structures of society.  Large-scale modern pagan
        organizations and community centers that own property and such today are
        rare, and many of them are going under because they can’t afford their
        overhead, much less to compensate those who work for them.

        Though far from the only reason, one of the more prominent reasons for this being this bizarre yet widely-held belief that “true spirituality shouldn’t get paid” (paraphrased, but sometimes no really by much), and the notion that somehow a lack of payment for serving the community makes this a nobler calling than getting any kind of donation to make rent or even just stay in a steady supply of incense.

        I’d suspect that this is in part a backlash from the opulent riches of Catholicism, in spite of a well-publicised “vow of poverty” on behalf of priests, monks, and nuns, but I think in part this is also heavily influenced by that same family of oft-at-odds religions known collectively as “Christianity”.  Many Protestant sects value simplicity and eschew the decadence of Catholicism —Menonites take this to an extreme and even eschew 90% of modern technological advances in praise of “simplicity”, Quaker meeting houses are often owned communally and ask for only the donations necessary to keep the rent paid, lights on, and water running.  This Protestant habit is in backlash against the apparent “Pagan” influences in Catholicism, including its opulent churches and cathedrals.  Catholicism borrowed the idea of rich, fabulous temples from Graeco-Roman religion.

        While ancient polytheism lacked tithe that largely funds Christianity, public monies paid for temples and temple upkeep, and any monies needed in excess of that amount was collected in other ways, sometimes through donation, sometimes through incense or khernips vending, sometimes for oracles (in temples that housed them), and lots of other means.  This doesn’t mean the spirituality at that temple was a false one, as many pagans who value poverty and lack might want to believe, all it means is that the temple had expenses (and usually honest ones) that needed extra money.

  • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

    The biggest problem that I perceive is that many Pagan are still viewing our potential future through a Christian lens. We can have education and trained clergy and it does not have to look like the mainstream model. Ancient pagan societies had their druids, flamens, and other priests and priestesses that worked in temples, led cults, performed rites of passage and sacrifices, and that didn’t impede others from being pagan and performing their own personal rites at home. These things can all coexist.

    • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

      While I agree, part of the difficulty is that those positions in ancient pagan societies were things that had privileges that accompanied them, and that people had to work very hard for in some cases (others, not–the Graeco-Roman priesthoods were often inherited religious duties that could be bought and sold, and weren’t always looked upon as beneficial), but, further and very importantly, that society supported and even “funded.”  Most modern pagan clergy and learned authorities aren’t paid, and often aren’t even thanked, by the people they serve, nor is their position supported by the structures of society.  Large-scale modern pagan organizations and community centers that own property and such today are rare, and many of them are going under because they can’t afford their overhead, much less to compensate those who work for them.

      So, it’s harder to get the things infrastructure-wise to make it possible for these learned individuals, and the work they do, to become viable and desirable enough for people to want to sign up for doing them.  The snark and derision faced in many situations that occur today would be enough to drive any sane person off the notion.

      • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

        Most modern pagan clergy and learned authorities aren’t paid, and often
        aren’t even thanked, by the people they serve, nor is their position
        supported by the structures of society.  Large-scale modern pagan
        organizations and community centers that own property and such today are
        rare, and many of them are going under because they can’t afford their
        overhead, much less to compensate those who work for them.

        Though far from the only reason, one of the more prominent reasons for this being this bizarre yet widely-held belief that “true spirituality shouldn’t get paid” (paraphrased, but sometimes no really by much), and the notion that somehow a lack of payment for serving the community makes this a nobler calling than getting any kind of donation to make rent or even just stay in a steady supply of incense.

        I’d suspect that this is in part a backlash from the opulent riches of Catholicism, in spite of a well-publicised “vow of poverty” on behalf of priests, monks, and nuns, but I think in part this is also heavily influenced by that same family of oft-at-odds religions known collectively as “Christianity”.  Many Protestant sects value simplicity and eschew the decadence of Catholicism —Menonites take this to an extreme and even eschew 90% of modern technological advances in praise of “simplicity”, Quaker meeting houses are often owned communally and ask for only the donations necessary to keep the rent paid, lights on, and water running.  This Protestant habit is in backlash against the apparent “Pagan” influences in Catholicism, including its opulent churches and cathedrals.  Catholicism borrowed the idea of rich, fabulous temples from Graeco-Roman religion.

        While ancient polytheism lacked tithe that largely funds Christianity, public monies paid for temples and temple upkeep, and any monies needed in excess of that amount was collected in other ways, sometimes through donation, sometimes through incense or khernips vending, sometimes for oracles (in temples that housed them), and lots of other means.  This doesn’t mean the spirituality at that temple was a false one, as many pagans who value poverty and lack might want to believe, all it means is that the temple had expenses (and usually honest ones) that needed extra money.

  • http://profiles.google.com/stacylynnevans Stacy Evans

    The comparison that came to me while reading this was indie music – an indie ban will play their music, put CDs out themselves, gather a following, and Gods forbid they get signed by a big label to really put their music out there because then it would be selling out!  Alright, so it isn’t a perfect comparison, but it gets the point across.

    I have no issues with “mainstreaming” paganism.  I think it is part of the natural evolution of our religion, not something to fight against.  It is something to help.  So many pagans just seem to whine about being accepted, well then DO something about it!  (not that any of the other comments are whining, or you, Star.)  Going forward, we will have marvelous opportunities to be accepted in society – what we say we want – but that will require some evolution and acceptance on our part as well.

  • http://profiles.google.com/stacylynnevans Stacy Evans

    The comparison that came to me while reading this was indie music – an indie ban will play their music, put CDs out themselves, gather a following, and Gods forbid they get signed by a big label to really put their music out there because then it would be selling out!  Alright, so it isn’t a perfect comparison, but it gets the point across.

    I have no issues with “mainstreaming” paganism.  I think it is part of the natural evolution of our religion, not something to fight against.  It is something to help.  So many pagans just seem to whine about being accepted, well then DO something about it!  (not that any of the other comments are whining, or you, Star.)  Going forward, we will have marvelous opportunities to be accepted in society – what we say we want – but that will require some evolution and acceptance on our part as well.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

    The last thing we should do is to emulate the way Christianity “educates” its professional indoctrinators.

    Rather we should look to ancient (and to some extent Renaissance) Pagan models of religious education, as well as to contemporary non-Christian/non-Western models, especially in places like India, Tibet and China.

    Modern western Pagans can learn a lot by studying history and classical languages, but most of what passes for religious studies and philosophy in the West only amounts to toxic crap that must later be unlearned before any positive learning can occur.

  • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com/ Vermillion

    I’m vehemently against “mainstreaming” anything. The only upside I can see to it (and it is a huge upside) is the fact that maybe the rampant Christian privilege would be lessened. That’s about it. I don’t say this to be a hipster about religion or anything like that, nor do I say it from wishing that it was a super sekkrit society because it’s not and shouldn’t be. I just think that if we were less about being accepted and more just equal religious rights for ALL it would be better.

    But I’m a weirdo :)

  • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com Vermillion

    I’m vehemently against “mainstreaming” anything. The only upside I can see to it (and it is a huge upside) is the fact that maybe the rampant Christian privilege would be lessened. That’s about it. I don’t say this to be a hipster about religion or anything like that, nor do I say it from wishing that it was a super sekkrit society because it’s not and shouldn’t be. I just think that if we were less about being accepted and more just equal religious rights for ALL it would be better.

    But I’m a weirdo :)

  • http://www.tigerseyetemple.org Dan Miller

    There are those who would have a pagan church in every town and city, right next the Christian varieties. To be so acceptably mainstream, that not a second thought is given that it is pagan.

  • http://www.tigerseyetemple.org Dan Miller

    There are those who would have a pagan church in every town and city, right next the Christian varieties. To be so acceptably mainstream, that not a second thought is given that it is pagan.

  • Robert

    One of the issues that I’ve encountered and that I feel is holding us back from the mainstream is the apparent “zero-sum” mentality that is espoused by many Pagan institutions and people of note.  We seem to be of the belief that once a person, institution, or organization becomes known for a particular function or cause that no others can exist.  

    For instance, you’ve listed Cherry Hill Seminary as the example of Pagan seminaries seeking accredation.  Your phrasing makes it appear as though it is the only one, which is simply  not the case. I know of at least two additional Pagan seminaries, the Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary and the Grey School of Witchcraft, and to my knowledge at least one of those is also seeking institutional accredation, and both possess the same religious exemption that Cherry Hill does to issue degrees.  (I also have to disagree with the statement that most Pagans “don’t even have something along the lines of Sunday School or regular study groups”.  Most of the groups I’ve worked with had some form of adult study group that met regularly or semi-regularly, and our church has youth studies as well.  I doubt we’re the only one, or really even that uncommon.)  

     We’ve heard a great deal about the wonderful work that Patrick McCollum has been doing on behalf of Pagan Prisoners to secure their rights in California.  I have no intention of demeaning his work, or lessening the impact of it.  It bothers me, however, to see his efforts characterized as being the first or sole effort that has been made for Pagan ministries in prison.  That Patrick is engaged in this work should not mean that we ignore the work being done by groups like Covenant of the Goddess, Mother Earth Ministries, Greenman Ministry, and many other groups around the country to provide services to Pagan inmates.
     
     These are prominent examples, but not the only ones.  How many of us have seen local groups form amid a storm of possessiveness, with established groups afraid that the new one will somehow steal away “their” people/spaces/attention?  How many of those groups disappeared, often taking people new to the faith with them?  How many of them would have stuck around to strengthen our common paths if they had met with encouragement and advice instead of jealousy and fear?
     
     I don’t know how to change this; I suspect that the Pagan media has a role, as does the general Pagan populace.  I don’t know that we need more “superstars” to represent us.  The “superstars” aren’t what bring us into the mainstream; it’s the people quietly living their faith from day to day, serving their communities and the Gods in whatever way they are called.  It’s important to acknowledge and honor the first Pagan Chaplain/Congressperson/Radio Personality/What Have You, but it’s even more important that there -be- a second, third, and fourth one.  Those folks also need to be honored, because they’re the ones that will truely bring us into the mainstream. I think that we need -all- of us to be empowered to do the Work we’re called to, to be supported and acknowledged in that work, and to feel safe enough both within our community and outside of it to be recognized for it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      If a tree falls in a forest, and no is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

      If the Pagan media doesn’t know that “X is doing an awesome thing” they can’t cover it. Pagans have to let people know what they are doing, they need to send out press releases and they can’t expect the media to contact them to ask them what they are doing.

      • Cara

        And people need to respond to interview requests and requests for more information by Pagan media. There are many stories out there, just in my area, that I haven’t covered because the people in charge/responsible won’t get back to me in anything approaching a timely manner.  Then, weeks or months, later, I may get an email saying “Whoops, I just now read your email.”  Same with phone calls.

        I understand people are busy.  I can keep the time needed down to just a few minutes and be respectful of their time.  However, I’m often treated as someone with a cute hobby, not a trained, professional journalist.  Which makes getting back to me low on the priority scale.

        If Pagans want things like Pagan media, seminaries, community centers, etc – they need to interact with them in a more serious manner. Likewise, those who work in those areas listed need to strive for excellence while serving their community.

        Can you tell this is a point of frustration?

        • Robert

          I completely agree.  This is one area where the community needs to improve, to assist the media.  We cannot expect anything reasonably like professionalism in our journalists if we are not willing to treat them professionally–and that means getting back to them in a timely fashion! 

        • Jdhortwort

          So true and so funny. Many of the Pagans I know have no sense of time. You couldn’t get them to a function in a timely manner if their lives depended on it. Trying to set up a formal interview (even by phone) must seem like scheduling an alien encounter.

      • LezlieKinyon

        We do know- unfortunately, this community also has a short memory.

      • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

        Pagan media is maturing to the point where there are those working in the trenches digging for stories both online and offline, and there are a separate group that are the keyboard warriors where if it isn’t on the Internet, it might as well not exist.

        Luckily we’re still at the point where many Pagan journalists aren’t settling for the nice paved road of online research and many are still going out there, finding people and doing the face-to-face to get the otherwise obscure stuff out there that is awesome known to wider audiences.  Kudos to many that do this.

        To the Pagans out there, support (or create) your local PNC bureau in their efforts to promote stuff going on in Pagan communities.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          I agree. That’s why I do my best to make it to Pagan events and actually talk to people who are getting things done. Sitting on your butt doesn’t accomplish anything.

  • Robert

    One of the issues that I’ve encountered and that I feel is holding us back from the mainstream is the apparent “zero-sum” mentality that is espoused by many Pagan institutions and people of note.  We seem to be of the belief that once a person, institution, or organization becomes known for a particular function or cause that no others can exist.  

    For instance, you’ve listed Cherry Hill Seminary as the example of Pagan seminaries seeking accredation.  Your phrasing makes it appear as though it is the only one, which is simply  not the case. I know of at least two additional Pagan seminaries, the Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary and the Grey School of Witchcraft, and to my knowledge at least one of those is also seeking institutional accredation, and both possess the same religious exemption that Cherry Hill does to issue degrees.  (I also have to disagree with the statement that most Pagans “don’t even have something along the lines of Sunday School or regular study groups”.  Most of the groups I’ve worked with had some form of adult study group that met regularly or semi-regularly, and our church has youth studies as well.  I doubt we’re the only one, or really even that uncommon.)  

     We’ve heard a great deal about the wonderful work that Patrick McCollum has been doing on behalf of Pagan Prisoners to secure their rights in California.  I have no intention of demeaning his work, or lessening the impact of it.  It bothers me, however, to see his efforts characterized as being the first or sole effort that has been made for Pagan ministries in prison.  That Patrick is engaged in this work should not mean that we ignore the work being done by groups like Covenant of the Goddess, Mother Earth Ministries, Greenman Ministry, and many other groups around the country to provide services to Pagan inmates.
     
     These are prominent examples, but not the only ones.  How many of us have seen local groups form amid a storm of possessiveness, with established groups afraid that the new one will somehow steal away “their” people/spaces/attention?  How many of those groups disappeared, often taking people new to the faith with them?  How many of them would have stuck around to strengthen our common paths if they had met with encouragement and advice instead of jealousy and fear?
     
     I don’t know how to change this; I suspect that the Pagan media has a role, as does the general Pagan populace.  I don’t know that we need more “superstars” to represent us.  The “superstars” aren’t what bring us into the mainstream; it’s the people quietly living their faith from day to day, serving their communities and the Gods in whatever way they are called.  It’s important to acknowledge and honor the first Pagan Chaplain/Congressperson/Radio Personality/What Have You, but it’s even more important that there -be- a second, third, and fourth one.  Those folks also need to be honored, because they’re the ones that will truely bring us into the mainstream. I think that we need -all- of us to be empowered to do the Work we’re called to, to be supported and acknowledged in that work, and to feel safe enough both within our community and outside of it to be recognized for it.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      If a tree falls in a forest, and no is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

      If the Pagan media doesn’t know that “X is doing an awesome thing” they can’t cover it. Pagans have to let people know what they are doing, they need to send out press releases and they can’t expect the media to contact them to ask them what they are doing.

      • Cara

        And people need to respond to interview requests and requests for more information by Pagan media. There are many stories out there, just in my area, that I haven’t covered because the people in charge/responsible won’t get back to me in anything approaching a timely manner.  Then, weeks or months, later, I may get an email saying “Whoops, I just now read your email.”  Same with phone calls.

        I understand people are busy.  I can keep the time needed down to just a few minutes and be respectful of their time.  However, I’m often treated as someone with a cute hobby, not a trained, professional journalist.  Which makes getting back to me low on the priority scale.

        If Pagans want things like Pagan media, seminaries, community centers, etc – they need to interact with them in a more serious manner. Likewise, those who work in those areas listed need to strive for excellence while serving their community.

        Can you tell this is a point of frustration?

        • Robert

          I completely agree.  This is one area where the community needs to improve, to assist the media.  We cannot expect anything reasonably like professionalism in our journalists if we are not willing to treat them professionally–and that means getting back to them in a timely fashion! 

        • Jdhortwort

          So true and so funny. Many of the Pagans I know have no sense of time. You couldn’t get them to a function in a timely manner if their lives depended on it. Trying to set up a formal interview (even by phone) must seem like scheduling an alien encounter.

      • Anonymous

        We do know- unfortunately, this community also has a short memory.

      • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

        Pagan media is maturing to the point where there are those working in the trenches digging for stories both online and offline, and there are a separate group that are the keyboard warriors where if it isn’t on the Internet, it might as well not exist.

        Luckily we’re still at the point where many Pagan journalists aren’t settling for the nice paved road of online research and many are still going out there, finding people and doing the face-to-face to get the otherwise obscure stuff out there that is awesome known to wider audiences.  Kudos to many that do this.

        To the Pagans out there, support (or create) your local PNC bureau in their efforts to promote stuff going on in Pagan communities.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          I agree. That’s why I do my best to make it to Pagan events and actually talk to people who are getting things done. Sitting on your butt doesn’t accomplish anything.

  • Robert

    Agreed, to a point.  Many Pagan groups seem to have some difficulty in publicizing their own works.  On the other hand, a quick Google search brings up pages upon pages of groups who specialize in Prison ministry, for instance (which is where I came up with the list I did).  Do you believe that media (Pagan or otherwise, really) bears some responsibility to perform background research or investigative work?  Or do people only want to hear about the “superstars”?  I know that Jason has his “Pagan Community Notes” section on The Wild Hunt, and that is powered largely by submission.  At what point does the journalist have a responsibility to reach out to the community and seek out news?  Do they ever?  If not,how do we the community encourage these people to seek out the journalists instead? 

    Aside from media, what role do our spokespeople have in encouraging others to “follow in their footsteps” as it were?  Should the first Pagan $Something be expected to work to ensure that there is a second Pagan $Something?  Who should be, if not them? 

    I don’t want to sidetrack this discussion too badly, especially since I don’t really have any answers for these questions at the moment.  I find the topic of mainstreaming to be an interesting one, and I think contemporary Paganism is in for an interesting time.  We should be able to experience the advantages of mainstreaming without losing what makes us unique; the question there is how…

    • Robert

      Shoot.  That was supposed to be a reply to Star, above.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      So, you’re suggesting volunteers who already put in a considerable amount of time covering Pagan news should spend even more time on investigative reporting? If we had full-time Pagan journalists who have funding for equipment, expenses and travel you can bet you’d see more of that. I think it’s unfair to expect too much from unfunded volunteer Pagan media.

      • Robert

        I think you’re putting words in my mouth. 

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          I’m trying to understand what your issue is. In my personal experience I’ve only ever been contacted by Woolston-Steen with an offer to do volunteer work for them. I’ve never been contacted before or since with news of what they are doing. On their website I can’t find updates, news, press releases or even a list of faculty. So what would an intrepid reporter have to write about?

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            If a group (Pagan or not) can’t get it together enough to have online information on what they are doing, send out a press release to the proper press folks about what they are doing, etc – then they are HIGHLY UNLIKELY to be able to pull off any large group event, or series of classes, etc. 

            Doing basic marketing is FAR easier than preparing and presenting content/classes/rituals/whatever.

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Marketing and PR work are very intimidating.  Particularly in a community as prone to Balkanising itself as this one and especially in the face of the way we tend to treat people who look like they might be at all trying to “blow their own horn”, or, y’know, as some prefer to label it, “engage in self-aggrandisement”.

            Aside from that, I do feel compelled to point out… some folk are too busy doing the work to spend a lot of time writing about it.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        I think that the “unfunded” point you make is an excellent one, Star.  Of course, I think it goes well beyond Pagan media.  The majority of us are “unpaid volunteer Pagan” whatever-it-is-we’re-doing… be it clergy, teachers, counselors or whatever other support service it is we’re providing.

        The Pagan community does tend to have a rather interesting idea about paid clergy and I think it contributes to keeping us out of the mainstream.

        • Cara

          Our dysfunctional relationship to money is a serious impediment to our community building sustaining infrastructure.  I’m not talking about building here.

          But yes, as an unpaid journalist I spend several hours each day looking for stories to run, interviewing people, tracking down information, and writing the article.  Some days I spend my entire day doing this. 

          How many people are willing to put that much time into something, each and every day, for no pay.  Strike that, how many people are willing to pay money out to volunteer that much time.  There are expenses that come directly out of our pockets.  I’ve been keeping track this year and so far I’m over $1000 in the hole and that doesn’t include things like gas.

          All that said, I DO try to seek out stories.  I dig for information.  I research.  But I also only have so much time and if a group becomes a pain in the ass (confused, disorganized, won’t return calls and emails) I spike the story and make a mental note not to spend much time on them in the future.  Resources are limited and that’s the reality of the situation.

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Actually, I think if we made a serious study of it, we’d learn that a surprisingly large number of Paganfolk *do* put a shocking amount of time into their outwardly directed work, and spend shocking amounts of money doing so. 

            Running the organisation that my partner and I run costs us between $6k and $10k per year between supplies, utilities, site rental (when we had to rent a site) and fuel costs.  We’ll also spend between 10 and 40 hours a week on it, depending, sometimes more. 

            Each of us in our own space tries to do outreach – journalists to try to reach newsmakers to get stories, as well as trying to reach consumers of news to drive readership and get that awareness engine going… shops try to reach artists and other suppliers to increase their selection as well as shoppers to drive demand and get *that* engine running… groups that focus on public ministry (which, admittedly, not even the majority of Pagan working groups do) try to reach out to shops for supplies, journalists to raise awareness of what we’re up to, Seekers looking for teaching and solitaries that want to gather with likeminded folk for larger celebrations.  And that is an engine of its own.

            Most of all, getting all of these respective engines going requires awareness that they even exist, which comes down to one of the true evils of our time: Advertising. Advertising costs money, and this goes straight back to our dysfunctional relationship with money in our spiritual lives.

            I don’t think anyone is trying to blame the Pagan media for not doing enough.  I think most of us (certainly the folk that frequent such portals as Patheos and similar) are glad to support the work of Pagan media in the ways that make sense to us.  We tell our friends, professors, family and other folk about the work you do, we share links to stories that we find of particular interest, heck, some of us are even willing to put our money where our mouths are and contribute monetarily to keeping your news outlets afloat.

            I wonder… we’re so uptight about money being involved in our community… would we unclench a bit if we engaged some barter?  Could we do some sort of link / advert exchange that wouldn’t reduce all of our web portals to the flashing, dancing balogna and “webring” nonsense of the 90s?

  • Robert

    Agreed, to a point.  Many Pagan groups seem to have some difficulty in publicizing their own works.  On the other hand, a quick Google search brings up pages upon pages of groups who specialize in Prison ministry, for instance (which is where I came up with the list I did).  Do you believe that media (Pagan or otherwise, really) bears some responsibility to perform background research or investigative work?  Or do people only want to hear about the “superstars”?  I know that Jason has his “Pagan Community Notes” section on The Wild Hunt, and that is powered largely by submission.  At what point does the journalist have a responsibility to reach out to the community and seek out news?  Do they ever?  If not,how do we the community encourage these people to seek out the journalists instead? 

    Aside from media, what role do our spokespeople have in encouraging others to “follow in their footsteps” as it were?  Should the first Pagan $Something be expected to work to ensure that there is a second Pagan $Something?  Who should be, if not them? 

    I don’t want to sidetrack this discussion too badly, especially since I don’t really have any answers for these questions at the moment.  I find the topic of mainstreaming to be an interesting one, and I think contemporary Paganism is in for an interesting time.  We should be able to experience the advantages of mainstreaming without losing what makes us unique; the question there is how…

    • Robert

      Shoot.  That was supposed to be a reply to Star, above.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      So, you’re suggesting volunteers who already put in a considerable amount of time covering Pagan news should spend even more time on investigative reporting? If we had full-time Pagan journalists who have funding for equipment, expenses and travel you can bet you’d see more of that. I think it’s unfair to expect too much from unfunded volunteer Pagan media.

      • Robert

        I think you’re putting words in my mouth. 

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          I’m trying to understand what your issue is. In my personal experience I’ve only ever been contacted by Woolston-Steen with an offer to do volunteer work for them. I’ve never been contacted before or since with news of what they are doing. On their website I can’t find updates, news, press releases or even a list of faculty. So what would an intrepid reporter have to write about?

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            If a group (Pagan or not) can’t get it together enough to have online information on what they are doing, send out a press release to the proper press folks about what they are doing, etc – then they are HIGHLY UNLIKELY to be able to pull off any large group event, or series of classes, etc. 

            Doing basic marketing is FAR easier than preparing and presenting content/classes/rituals/whatever.

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Marketing and PR work are very intimidating.  Particularly in a community as prone to Balkanising itself as this one and especially in the face of the way we tend to treat people who look like they might be at all trying to “blow their own horn”, or, y’know, as some prefer to label it, “engage in self-aggrandisement”.

            Aside from that, I do feel compelled to point out… some folk are too busy doing the work to spend a lot of time writing about it.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        I think that the “unfunded” point you make is an excellent one, Star.  Of course, I think it goes well beyond Pagan media.  The majority of us are “unpaid volunteer Pagan” whatever-it-is-we’re-doing… be it clergy, teachers, counselors or whatever other support service it is we’re providing.

        The Pagan community does tend to have a rather interesting idea about paid clergy and I think it contributes to keeping us out of the mainstream.

        • Cara

          Our dysfunctional relationship to money is a serious impediment to our community building sustaining infrastructure.  I’m not talking about building here.

          But yes, as an unpaid journalist I spend several hours each day looking for stories to run, interviewing people, tracking down information, and writing the article.  Some days I spend my entire day doing this. 

          How many people are willing to put that much time into something, each and every day, for no pay.  Strike that, how many people are willing to pay money out to volunteer that much time.  There are expenses that come directly out of our pockets.  I’ve been keeping track this year and so far I’m over $1000 in the hole and that doesn’t include things like gas.

          All that said, I DO try to seek out stories.  I dig for information.  I research.  But I also only have so much time and if a group becomes a pain in the ass (confused, disorganized, won’t return calls and emails) I spike the story and make a mental note not to spend much time on them in the future.  Resources are limited and that’s the reality of the situation.

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Actually, I think if we made a serious study of it, we’d learn that a surprisingly large number of Paganfolk *do* put a shocking amount of time into their outwardly directed work, and spend shocking amounts of money doing so. 

            Running the organisation that my partner and I run costs us between $6k and $10k per year between supplies, utilities, site rental (when we had to rent a site) and fuel costs.  We’ll also spend between 10 and 40 hours a week on it, depending, sometimes more. 

            Each of us in our own space tries to do outreach – journalists to try to reach newsmakers to get stories, as well as trying to reach consumers of news to drive readership and get that awareness engine going… shops try to reach artists and other suppliers to increase their selection as well as shoppers to drive demand and get *that* engine running… groups that focus on public ministry (which, admittedly, not even the majority of Pagan working groups do) try to reach out to shops for supplies, journalists to raise awareness of what we’re up to, Seekers looking for teaching and solitaries that want to gather with likeminded folk for larger celebrations.  And that is an engine of its own.

            Most of all, getting all of these respective engines going requires awareness that they even exist, which comes down to one of the true evils of our time: Advertising. Advertising costs money, and this goes straight back to our dysfunctional relationship with money in our spiritual lives.

            I don’t think anyone is trying to blame the Pagan media for not doing enough.  I think most of us (certainly the folk that frequent such portals as Patheos and similar) are glad to support the work of Pagan media in the ways that make sense to us.  We tell our friends, professors, family and other folk about the work you do, we share links to stories that we find of particular interest, heck, some of us are even willing to put our money where our mouths are and contribute monetarily to keeping your news outlets afloat.

            I wonder… we’re so uptight about money being involved in our community… would we unclench a bit if we engaged some barter?  Could we do some sort of link / advert exchange that wouldn’t reduce all of our web portals to the flashing, dancing balogna and “webring” nonsense of the 90s?

  • http://twitter.com/MotherGroveTmpl Mother Grove

    There is another issue at hand. Many pagans aren’t interested in doing the hard work. Many of them (and maybe I am biased by personal experience on this) want to be mainstream but figure the likes of Starhawk, Fox, and McCollum can take care of it all. If we need to be mainstream (and really, maybe it IS something we need!) we need to stop waiting for someone else to take the reigns and do it for us. And there are plenty of us to share the load!

    Me personally, I would like to see public temples on the street corners right next to the churches and mosques. Our ancient ancestors had them at their fingertips, why don’t we? Why not some Pagan Sunday School?

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      Unfortunately, how many Pagans are going to contribute toward buying the property for a public temple on a street corner, keep the lights and heat on and so on?

      Our ancient ancestors had temples because they contributed toward their being built and maintained.

    • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

      We kind of do. It’s often called the local Unitarian Universality church, which has a small, dedicated group of hard-working people who put together Pagan Pride days, Witch’s Balls, recovery programs, weekly study groups, activities for Pagan children, and many other events for a large Pagan laity that shows up, has fun, and then goes home with zero commitment.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        Where at?  I’d love to hear more about it!!

        • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

          Your mileage may vary, but here’s a resource: http://www.cuups.org/

          • Johanna

            Unitarian Universalist churches host many pagan events. Especially here in berkeley and san francisco. I attended my first all night winter solstice at the one in davis, ca

      • LezlieKinyon

        actually – there are several places that could be called the equivalent of a Pagan Temple scattered around the world. We don’t even know where they all are – truly! The local UU Fellowship (certainly!) has sheltered many small groups and even welcomed them into the “fold” as CUUPs in many places.  There are others: mostly as the project of one family, group, commune, or even an individual (ex. Annwyn in No. Ca). One has to look. The future is unfolding and we are a part of it – the trick is to do it from here on our own terms and not as the “mainstream” defines things.

        • LezlieKinyon

          Unitarian Universalist. Churches & Fellowships. CUUPs have been around for nearly three decades, now and in some places, they even have office space in said fellowships &/or churches.  

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PP56JE3QUO7DUQBGBU24JSKD6I Anyanka

        That’s a good thought Cosette, but Unitarian Universality churches aren’t really “pagan,” although they do tend to be pagan friendly. It depends on the particular church and the congregation that you happen to have, that determines the slant of the Unitarian churches.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PP56JE3QUO7DUQBGBU24JSKD6I Anyanka

      Argg, my comments keep getting lost because it keeps saying I am not logged in!

      Anyway, what i was trying to comment is that i think a big part of the problem comes from many people not being “out.” There is still a fear of discrimination, kids getting the brunt of it at school, etc. It’s going to be hard to establish temples with great success until more people are comfortable being out IMO.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        Chicken and egg issue, I’m afraid.  

        People get more comfortable being “out” when they are joining a crowd.    Safety in numbers and all that.  We need to establish temples so that the people who are afraid to come out will feel safer doing so.

  • http://twitter.com/MotherGroveTmpl Mother Grove

    There is another issue at hand. Many pagans aren’t interested in doing the hard work. Many of them (and maybe I am biased by personal experience on this) want to be mainstream but figure the likes of Starhawk, Fox, and McCollum can take care of it all. If we need to be mainstream (and really, maybe it IS something we need!) we need to stop waiting for someone else to take the reigns and do it for us. And there are plenty of us to share the load!

    Me personally, I would like to see public temples on the street corners right next to the churches and mosques. Our ancient ancestors had them at their fingertips, why don’t we? Why not some Pagan Sunday School?

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      Unfortunately, how many Pagans are going to contribute toward buying the property for a public temple on a street corner, keep the lights and heat on and so on?

      Our ancient ancestors had temples because they contributed toward their being built and maintained.

    • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

      We kind of do. It’s often called the local Unitarian Universality church, which has a small, dedicated group of hard-working people who put together Pagan Pride days, Witch’s Balls, recovery programs, weekly study groups, activities for Pagan children, and many other events for a large Pagan laity that shows up, has fun, and then goes home with zero commitment.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        Where at?  I’d love to hear more about it!!

        • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

          Your mileage may vary, but here’s a resource: http://www.cuups.org/

          • Johanna

            Unitarian Universalist churches host many pagan events. Especially here in berkeley and san francisco. I attended my first all night winter solstice at the one in davis, ca

      • Anonymous

        actually – there are several places that could be called the equivalent of a Pagan Temple scattered around the world. We don’t even know where they all are – truly! The local UU Fellowship (certainly!) has sheltered many small groups and even welcomed them into the “fold” as CUUPs in many places.  There are others: mostly as the project of one family, group, commune, or even an individual (ex. Annwyn in No. Ca). One has to look. The future is unfolding and we are a part of it – the trick is to do it from here on our own terms and not as the “mainstream” defines things.

        • Anonymous

          Unitarian Universalist. Churches & Fellowships. CUUPs have been around for nearly three decades, now and in some places, they even have office space in said fellowships &/or churches.  

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PP56JE3QUO7DUQBGBU24JSKD6I Anyanka

        That’s a good thought Cosette, but Unitarian Universality churches aren’t really “pagan,” although they do tend to be pagan friendly. It depends on the particular church and the congregation that you happen to have, that determines the slant of the Unitarian churches.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PP56JE3QUO7DUQBGBU24JSKD6I Anyanka

      Argg, my comments keep getting lost because it keeps saying I am not logged in!

      Anyway, what i was trying to comment is that i think a big part of the problem comes from many people not being “out.” There is still a fear of discrimination, kids getting the brunt of it at school, etc. It’s going to be hard to establish temples with great success until more people are comfortable being out IMO.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        Chicken and egg issue, I’m afraid.  

        People get more comfortable being “out” when they are joining a crowd.    Safety in numbers and all that.  We need to establish temples so that the people who are afraid to come out will feel safer doing so.

  • Sarah Burns

    How many jobs will there be for our Pagan seminarians?

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Good point. Not many of us can afford an education that doesn’t improve our financial standing.

      • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com James Bulls

        Not so much as statement toward Pagan-oriented college diplomas but more as a statement toward college education in general, there are a lot of us who can’t even afford an education that does improve our financial standing.

    • http://twitter.com/MotherGroveTmpl Mother Grove

      Initially there won’t be. I am keeping my day job even after I am legally ordained. We can’t assume that all of a sudden orgs will have all the money in the world to build and pay clergy for a public temple. It takes time and money. We need to set the foundation in order for it to happen. We can look at what our ancestors did, look even to Christianity and take notes, and improve the wheel. The problem is between people who prefer others to do all the work and those that feel we need to be overly secretive about our existence.

  • Sarah Burns

    How many jobs will there be for our Pagan seminarians?

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Good point. Not many of us can afford an education that doesn’t improve our financial standing.

      • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com James Bulls

        Not so much as statement toward Pagan-oriented college diplomas but more as a statement toward college education in general, there are a lot of us who can’t even afford an education that does improve our financial standing.

    • http://twitter.com/MotherGroveTmpl Mother Grove

      Initially there won’t be. I am keeping my day job even after I am legally ordained. We can’t assume that all of a sudden orgs will have all the money in the world to build and pay clergy for a public temple. It takes time and money. We need to set the foundation in order for it to happen. We can look at what our ancestors did, look even to Christianity and take notes, and improve the wheel. The problem is between people who prefer others to do all the work and those that feel we need to be overly secretive about our existence.

  • http://www.greenvilledragnet.com/ RobTaylor

    I’m a tee-totaling Conservative Pagan (though I don’t dress modestly at all) – and I just got a paying freelance gig at the very Conservative Pajamas Media. My religion is no secret and except for Paulnuts (no offense anyone) and some people who don’t like me because I take a strong moral stand drug use, underage sex and child abuse I’ve never had an issue beside the occasional hit piece by a nobody which mentions my religion to prove some point. That’s pretty mainstreamed I think.

    I agree with the author – we need to be in the public showing people our common bonds. I speak often of crime, patriotism, faith, honor etc to those “bigoted fundie” Christians and many embrace my message if not me. The very people many of you are programming yourself to think of as opponents will stand with us on many important issues – like ending the sex slave rings in our cities, raising money for food banks, teaching children self-reliance, being tough on sex crimes etc. Those are just my issues, but I get a lot of support from Christians, Jews, the occasional atheist and once and a while a Pagan or two.

    It’s time to stop pretending our religion is a sub-culture – this isn’t a club. Step up, start producing good quality thought and works that all people can relate to or at least discuss and take back our rightful place in Western Civilizations as it’s creators.

  • http://www.greenvilledragnet.com/ RobTaylor

    I’m a tee-totaling Conservative Pagan (though I don’t dress modestly at all) – and I just got a paying freelance gig at the very Conservative Pajamas Media. My religion is no secret and except for Paulnuts (no offense anyone) and some people who don’t like me because I take a strong moral stand drug use, underage sex and child abuse I’ve never had an issue beside the occasional hit piece by a nobody which mentions my religion to prove some point. That’s pretty mainstreamed I think.

    I agree with the author – we need to be in the public showing people our common bonds. I speak often of crime, patriotism, faith, honor etc to those “bigoted fundie” Christians and many embrace my message if not me. The very people many of you are programming yourself to think of as opponents will stand with us on many important issues – like ending the sex slave rings in our cities, raising money for food banks, teaching children self-reliance, being tough on sex crimes etc. Those are just my issues, but I get a lot of support from Christians, Jews, the occasional atheist and once and a while a Pagan or two.

    It’s time to stop pretending our religion is a sub-culture – this isn’t a club. Step up, start producing good quality thought and works that all people can relate to or at least discuss and take back our rightful place in Western Civilizations as it’s creators.

  • sunfell

    What really is ‘mainstream’ these days? As has been demonstrated, this world is becoming increasingly compartmentalized and “Balkanized”, with everyone in their own little ideological and spiritual echo chambers. I mean, look at where we are right now- on this site. This is a fairly well trafficked, but certainly not anywhere near mainstream. I see the same names over and over again. We’re all talking to ourselves.

    I feel that the best way to ‘mainstream’ Paganism- whatever sub-sect you might be- is to be transparent, and hide in plain sight. I don’t make a big deal of my own belief set. I don’t feel that everyone has to believe exactly the same way I do, either. I’ve run into the stereotypical biases that ‘mainstreamers’ have about us- some of which are very dangerous.

    We have to consider what the ultimate goal of mainstreaming might be. For me, it would involve being treated like an ordinary person, and not some spiritual time-bomb that might blast curses and demons all over someone else’s pristine, privileged beliefs, or challenge them.

    And we have to remember that the ‘mainstream’ we compare ourselves to is generally Christian. Some of their values are most decidedly not our own- in particular their ‘great commission’ that requires them to spread their faith and convert people. They want numbers. They want a ‘harvest’. The only harvest I am interested in is from my herb garden. I prefer quality to quantity, numbers-wise. I’d rather have a few sincere and devoted co-religionists than a vast number of people I would not permit into my home.

    Let’s be our own mainstream. If we overtop and spill over, so be it.

  • Anonymous

    What really is ‘mainstream’ these days? As has been demonstrated, this world is becoming increasingly compartmentalized and “Balkanized”, with everyone in their own little ideological and spiritual echo chambers. I mean, look at where we are right now- on this site. This is a fairly well trafficked, but certainly not anywhere near mainstream. I see the same names over and over again. We’re all talking to ourselves.

    I feel that the best way to ‘mainstream’ Paganism- whatever sub-sect you might be- is to be transparent, and hide in plain sight. I don’t make a big deal of my own belief set. I don’t feel that everyone has to believe exactly the same way I do, either. I’ve run into the stereotypical biases that ‘mainstreamers’ have about us- some of which are very dangerous.

    We have to consider what the ultimate goal of mainstreaming might be. For me, it would involve being treated like an ordinary person, and not some spiritual time-bomb that might blast curses and demons all over someone else’s pristine, privileged beliefs, or challenge them.

    And we have to remember that the ‘mainstream’ we compare ourselves to is generally Christian. Some of their values are most decidedly not our own- in particular their ‘great commission’ that requires them to spread their faith and convert people. They want numbers. They want a ‘harvest’. The only harvest I am interested in is from my herb garden. I prefer quality to quantity, numbers-wise. I’d rather have a few sincere and devoted co-religionists than a vast number of people I would not permit into my home.

    Let’s be our own mainstream. If we overtop and spill over, so be it.

  • http://thepaperwitch.blogspot.com/ Bekah

    I think another way of looking at this would be to discuss what we would gain from becoming mainstream. And I see a lot of negativity and misinformed information always taking center stage in mainstream venues (and we have to admit, the majority of the mainstream is dominated by Christianity). Other groups come to mind when I think about how mainstream has refused to allow groups to have much positive coverage: Islam (especially in the past few years), Mormonism (even with two Mormons running for President), GLBT (or anything that suggests something different than 2 definitive genders), etc. 

    Going back to my original point, what would the entire point be of going mainstream? Would “we” become goal oriented and focus on getting equality in various forms? That would be the only way I can think of that would get me behind it because, to me, going mainstream means putting on even more masks, changing one’s ways, and subjecting oneself to comparison to other faiths in order to get on other’s good sides for, ultimately, profit. 

    The one other thing I would say deals with the first section on education. That only takes into consideration Pagan faiths that have some kind of hierarchy, coven, or groups of regular gatherings. That completely disregards Pagan faiths that are solitary in nature or are family or cultural tradition paths. I don’t think Pagan education is harmful, I just think that it isn’t a banner that all Pagans will fly, to steal from your phrasing.

    We need something more basic and common to link the Pagan banner before we start waving it around in my opinion, but this has been a very interesting set of thoughts to further reflect on.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Cherry Hill Seminary and several other online schools are not linked to any tradition and perfect for solitaries. Why does Pagan education have to be based solely on specific traditions? Why would meetings for group study have to be based on specific traditions?

      Most mainstream Pagan education or even mainstream worship structures have more benefits for solitaries than for those aligned with any group or tradition. For instance, Pagan Spirit Gathering offers rites of passage for solitaries without expecting you to join Circle Sanctuary. Witch School offers services that benefit solitaries without expecting you to join Witch School.

      • Ed

        Thank You Star, and yes we do have 90% site open, without need of registration. We also have a minimal registration for classes, and we have over 30 classes in which people can take at will at no cost at all.

      • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

        Part of the reason at least some group study would have to be based on specific traditions is that not all groups use the same cosmologies, the same theologies, the same assumptions about what is important and necessary for truly understanding the path.

        I took Cherry Hill’s Pagan spiritual mentoring class some years back, led by Judy Harrow and based on her book “Spiritual Mentoring: A Pagan Guide.” The class used a four elements model, generalized assumptions of binary-gendered deity, and the usual genero-Pagan patterns. This is great, if you’re a Wiccan or someone whose spiritual path is based on those same patterns. If you happen to be a polytheist reconstructionist whose cosmology does not reflect four elements and dualistic deity, the material is of only limited use unless you are willing to do a lot of work to translate the material into your own tradition’s language, as it were. A spiritual mentoring class based on Celtic Reconstructionist models (presumably Gaelic cultures, at least in many cases) would, for instance, work with three internal cauldrons, with a three realms model, and with ideas of polytheistic deity, animist relationships with spirits of place, and with ancestral spirits.

        This is not in any way to suggest that the class was useless (Judy has done some profoundly useful work), but it does point out that many of the models presented were much more specific to a particular type of tradition than might have initially been thought. 

        The more advanced the work and teaching a group or individual does, the more it has to depend upon its relevance to a specific tradition. Teaching reconstructionist Pagans about genero-Pagan models doesn’t really teach them about their own lore and traditions, it only teaches them what other people are doing. There is some use in that, but it’s not going to serve their own community and needs very well.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          Good point. The education resources for non-Wiccanate Pagans is even more limited.

          • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

            One would also have to take into account that “rites of passage” would probably look very different in genero-Pagan and reconstructionist communities. I doubt that either PSG or Witch School would offer much that was useful in terms of rites of passage or worship services to reconstructionist solitaries.

  • http://thepaperwitch.blogspot.com/ Bekah

    I think another way of looking at this would be to discuss what we would gain from becoming mainstream. And I see a lot of negativity and misinformed information always taking center stage in mainstream venues (and we have to admit, the majority of the mainstream is dominated by Christianity). Other groups come to mind when I think about how mainstream has refused to allow groups to have much positive coverage: Islam (especially in the past few years), Mormonism (even with two Mormons running for President), GLBT (or anything that suggests something different than 2 definitive genders), etc. 

    Going back to my original point, what would the entire point be of going mainstream? Would “we” become goal oriented and focus on getting equality in various forms? That would be the only way I can think of that would get me behind it because, to me, going mainstream means putting on even more masks, changing one’s ways, and subjecting oneself to comparison to other faiths in order to get on other’s good sides for, ultimately, profit. 

    The one other thing I would say deals with the first section on education. That only takes into consideration Pagan faiths that have some kind of hierarchy, coven, or groups of regular gatherings. That completely disregards Pagan faiths that are solitary in nature or are family or cultural tradition paths. I don’t think Pagan education is harmful, I just think that it isn’t a banner that all Pagans will fly, to steal from your phrasing.

    We need something more basic and common to link the Pagan banner before we start waving it around in my opinion, but this has been a very interesting set of thoughts to further reflect on.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Cherry Hill Seminary and several other online schools are not linked to any tradition and perfect for solitaries. Why does Pagan education have to be based solely on specific traditions? Why would meetings for group study have to be based on specific traditions?

      Most mainstream Pagan education or even mainstream worship structures have more benefits for solitaries than for those aligned with any group or tradition. For instance, Pagan Spirit Gathering offers rites of passage for solitaries without expecting you to join Circle Sanctuary. Witch School offers services that benefit solitaries without expecting you to join Witch School.

      • Ed

        Thank You Star, and yes we do have 90% site open, without need of registration. We also have a minimal registration for classes, and we have over 30 classes in which people can take at will at no cost at all.

      • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

        Part of the reason at least some group study would have to be based on specific traditions is that not all groups use the same cosmologies, the same theologies, the same assumptions about what is important and necessary for truly understanding the path.

        I took Cherry Hill’s Pagan spiritual mentoring class some years back, led by Judy Harrow and based on her book “Spiritual Mentoring: A Pagan Guide.” The class used a four elements model, generalized assumptions of binary-gendered deity, and the usual genero-Pagan patterns. This is great, if you’re a Wiccan or someone whose spiritual path is based on those same patterns. If you happen to be a polytheist reconstructionist whose cosmology does not reflect four elements and dualistic deity, the material is of only limited use unless you are willing to do a lot of work to translate the material into your own tradition’s language, as it were. A spiritual mentoring class based on Celtic Reconstructionist models (presumably Gaelic cultures, at least in many cases) would, for instance, work with three internal cauldrons, with a three realms model, and with ideas of polytheistic deity, animist relationships with spirits of place, and with ancestral spirits.

        This is not in any way to suggest that the class was useless (Judy has done some profoundly useful work), but it does point out that many of the models presented were much more specific to a particular type of tradition than might have initially been thought. 

        The more advanced the work and teaching a group or individual does, the more it has to depend upon its relevance to a specific tradition. Teaching reconstructionist Pagans about genero-Pagan models doesn’t really teach them about their own lore and traditions, it only teaches them what other people are doing. There is some use in that, but it’s not going to serve their own community and needs very well.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          Good point. The education resources for non-Wiccanate Pagans is even more limited.

          • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

            One would also have to take into account that “rites of passage” would probably look very different in genero-Pagan and reconstructionist communities. I doubt that either PSG or Witch School would offer much that was useful in terms of rites of passage or worship services to reconstructionist solitaries.

  • Ed Hubbard

    Wow..this could not be more adapted to my life than anything written. Witch School just celebrated it’s 10th Anniversary this weekend, we sponsor nightly Online Radio Broadcasts, we do regular reporting from Magick TV, and we are constantly seeking the mainstream. In fact, the mainstream has shattered in a series of streams has helped as well.

    We have begun a Spanish Show on Saturday Nights, to reach a broader Audience. We anticipate several more languages coming over the next year.

    We have a very mainstream project, Which is the World of Witches Museum where we discuss the community history and as it is now. This is in Salem, Ma which has hundreds of thousands of annual visitors, which alllows us to meet them and they in turn us.

    In order to go further, we are doing a Online Reality Show called The Young Witches of Salem, in order to improve the quality of our materials. We are excited as this is targeted at a very mainstream audience.

    By January we will have a full studio, doing Pagan Nightly News if all goes well. We are working with a number of advertisers to create a pool of advertisements together that can allow more sites to get the needed dollars.

    Last, anyone who wants a online school can have one through P2P Microversity Platform, and this is being developed not for a Pagan Market but for a far more mainstream, based on what we have built over the last ten years.

    So this discussion of mainstream is not really a question of if it will happen, it is, and in time, more and more of the younger community will begin bridging this, along with Elders moving into position.

    Thanks for bringing this up. I think the community is much farther along than people think.

  • Ed Hubbard

    Wow..this could not be more adapted to my life than anything written. Witch School just celebrated it’s 10th Anniversary this weekend, we sponsor nightly Online Radio Broadcasts, we do regular reporting from Magick TV, and we are constantly seeking the mainstream. In fact, the mainstream has shattered in a series of streams has helped as well.

    We have begun a Spanish Show on Saturday Nights, to reach a broader Audience. We anticipate several more languages coming over the next year.

    We have a very mainstream project, Which is the World of Witches Museum where we discuss the community history and as it is now. This is in Salem, Ma which has hundreds of thousands of annual visitors, which alllows us to meet them and they in turn us.

    In order to go further, we are doing a Online Reality Show called The Young Witches of Salem, in order to improve the quality of our materials. We are excited as this is targeted at a very mainstream audience.

    By January we will have a full studio, doing Pagan Nightly News if all goes well. We are working with a number of advertisers to create a pool of advertisements together that can allow more sites to get the needed dollars.

    Last, anyone who wants a online school can have one through P2P Microversity Platform, and this is being developed not for a Pagan Market but for a far more mainstream, based on what we have built over the last ten years.

    So this discussion of mainstream is not really a question of if it will happen, it is, and in time, more and more of the younger community will begin bridging this, along with Elders moving into position.

    Thanks for bringing this up. I think the community is much farther along than people think.

  • Ed Hubbard

    Wow..this could not be more adapted to my life than anything written. Witch School just celebrated it’s 10th Anniversary this weekend, we sponsor nightly Online Radio Broadcasts, we do regular reporting from Magick TV, and we are constantly seeking the mainstream. In fact, the mainstream has shattered in a series of streams has helped as well.

    We have begun a Spanish Show on Saturday Nights, to reach a broader Audience. We anticipate several more languages coming over the next year.

    We have a very mainstream project, Which is the World of Witches Museum where we discuss the community history and as it is now. This is in Salem, Ma which has hundreds of thousands of annual visitors, which alllows us to meet them and they in turn us.

    In order to go further, we are doing a Online Reality Show called The Young Witches of Salem, in order to improve the quality of our materials. We are excited as this is targeted at a very mainstream audience.

    By January we will have a full studio, doing Pagan Nightly News if all goes well. We are working with a number of advertisers to create a pool of advertisements together that can allow more sites to get the needed dollars.

    Last, anyone who wants a online school can have one through P2P Microversity Platform, and this is being developed not for a Pagan Market but for a far more mainstream, based on what we have built over the last ten years.

    So this discussion of mainstream is not really a question of if it will happen, it is, and in time, more and more of the younger community will begin bridging this, along with Elders moving into position.

    Thanks for bringing this up. I think the community is much farther along than people think.

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    There’s a lot of excellent points being brought up in the comments here, and also in your own main post, Star.

    Just a small bit on one point, though: the lack of editing in pagan publications.  Yes, I am annoyed that some publishers (including the big ones!) don’t have fact-checkers, and that sometimes things in them are drastically off, and yet are being portrayed as “fact.”  I am also annoyed that some of the smaller or POD-press books aren’t always fantastic–I’ve been burned a few times getting a book, and then finding that what the write-up and the title of the book seem to say about it isn’t at all what is in it.

    But, the decline in editing and proof-reading standards is something that isn’t just a pagan publications problem, it’s an every-sort-of-publications (with the exception of most mainstream best-sellers) problem.  Academic publishers don’t have proofreaders or editors, and you can bet that the longer a monograph is, the less precise its proofreading will be.  They tend to look over a manuscript, go “Yeah, good ideas, it all seems reasonable,” and then go ahead with it, and if the author has not gone over it tooth-comb in the meanwhile, it goes to the publisher, they plonk it in their format, and there’s a book out some time after, with whatever mistakes the author didn’t correct still in it (and some added for good measure, on many occasions!).  The editorial process on academic anthologies and some journals tends to be a little more rigorous, but that can also vary widely.

    • LezlieKinyon

      Academic presses – if they are worth their salt – have an editorial staff & a rigorous peer-review process.  (For IRB issues alone…) It’s not a bad thing, all in all, to consider this as a way of working when you are considering publishing a treatise.
      Caveat: if “new-age guru” is a career goal, there isn’t any money in academic publishing, and that well-promoted-lecture tour-with-workshops won’t be in the works …
      Academic presses are often very small enterprises or connected with universities. They do publish some commercial works in order to stay in business, but, by and large, it’s a slow (and maddening) process.  There is a problem, however, in academia that is wide spread which you have addressed here: in this publish or perish age, there is a lot of “fluff” (and, really bad writing, it’s true) generally “out there” in journals, at conferences (which don’t pay), and  yes – in books to meet that “once a year” publishing requirement.  It’s not a problem specific to any one field, it’s nearly epidemic. Until (and if) this issue has been addressed within “the hallowed halls” itself, this problem will persist.

      • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

        I’m well aware of what you’ve said here, but can’t endorse some of it based on my own personal experience.

        Many very good academic presses don’t have an editorial staff that proofreads.  I’ve reviewed any number of respectable academic publications that were clearly never proofread.  I’ve also been brought in as a consultant and proofreader on specialized manuscripts that have already been peer-reviewed (with a 2-3 page write-up on the major issues), but not proofread, and I’ve been hired to do so by the author concerned, not the publisher.
        There’s all sorts of things wrong with academia, and if “publish or perish” = “once a year” as far as publications go, that’s the least of it.  I’ve been trying to get full-time academic work since before my Ph.D. was conferred, and many years before and since that time I’ve had 2-4 publications a year.  The people getting hired often have a far less extensive publications dossier than I do (and I’m not counting non-academic/religious writing that I do in this), so apparently it isn’t as much of a priority as it’s been made out to be.

        • LezlieKinyon

          LOL – to quote my diss adviser: “You have to hire a proof reader”.  To which I’ll also add: hire a copy editor.  I know as the editor of a peer-reviewed journal, we had a copy editor, but I often rejected badly written and papers that were obviously not proof read prior to submission. Other editers I’ve spoken to do the same. (You have to remember that a lot of the small journals are purely field-specific volunteer enterprises.)

          As a researcher- I find this need to hire your own proof-reader to be the case is almost all academic publishing. Especially if you must publish in a specific style in order to be read by your colleagues.  You are certainly correct in saying that there is a lot of really serious writing/editing issues in publishing just now. Particularly – IMHO – in the social sciences.

          • LezlieKinyon

            … do not let me get started on hiring in academia right now… the Gods preserve us, it’s a nightmare. For everyone.
            BTW_ I maintain a small support page on Facebook for Pagans in Higher
            Ed – my hope is that it will address many of the things you’ve brought
            up, including some networking in the job hunt. http://www.facebook.com/groups/Pagansinhighered/

          • Nicole Youngman

            Join request sent–I’ve been in adjuncting-purgatory for ages and will probably be there indefinitely! Getting my PhD finally done just meant having to start making payments on those damn student loans. Not sure it was worth the time and effort at all.

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Is that group just for professors and other instructors, or is it for other staff, too?

          • LezlieKinyon

            It’s for any Pagan in academia: students (at all levels), faculty, staff, independent researchers — BoD & governance… generally for mutual support & networking.  (BTW: There is a similar group on Academia.edu – I am not associated with it.)

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    There’s a lot of excellent points being brought up in the comments here, and also in your own main post, Star.

    Just a small bit on one point, though: the lack of editing in pagan publications.  Yes, I am annoyed that some publishers (including the big ones!) don’t have fact-checkers, and that sometimes things in them are drastically off, and yet are being portrayed as “fact.”  I am also annoyed that some of the smaller or POD-press books aren’t always fantastic–I’ve been burned a few times getting a book, and then finding that what the write-up and the title of the book seem to say about it isn’t at all what is in it.

    But, the decline in editing and proof-reading standards is something that isn’t just a pagan publications problem, it’s an every-sort-of-publications (with the exception of most mainstream best-sellers) problem.  Academic publishers don’t have proofreaders or editors, and you can bet that the longer a monograph is, the less precise its proofreading will be.  They tend to look over a manuscript, go “Yeah, good ideas, it all seems reasonable,” and then go ahead with it, and if the author has not gone over it tooth-comb in the meanwhile, it goes to the publisher, they plonk it in their format, and there’s a book out some time after, with whatever mistakes the author didn’t correct still in it (and some added for good measure, on many occasions!).  The editorial process on academic anthologies and some journals tends to be a little more rigorous, but that can also vary widely.

    • Anonymous

      Academic presses – if they are worth their salt – have an editorial staff & a rigorous peer-review process.  (For IRB issues alone…) It’s not a bad thing, all in all, to consider this as a way of working when you are considering publishing a treatise.
      Caveat: if “new-age guru” is a career goal, there isn’t any money in academic publishing, and that well-promoted-lecture tour-with-workshops won’t be in the works …
      Academic presses are often very small enterprises or connected with universities. They do publish some commercial works in order to stay in business, but, by and large, it’s a slow (and maddening) process.  There is a problem, however, in academia that is wide spread which you have addressed here: in this publish or perish age, there is a lot of “fluff” (and, really bad writing, it’s true) generally “out there” in journals, at conferences (which don’t pay), and  yes – in books to meet that “once a year” publishing requirement.  It’s not a problem specific to any one field, it’s nearly epidemic. Until (and if) this issue has been addressed within “the hallowed halls” itself, this problem will persist.

      • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

        I’m well aware of what you’ve said here, but can’t endorse some of it based on my own personal experience.

        Many very good academic presses don’t have an editorial staff that proofreads.  I’ve reviewed any number of respectable academic publications that were clearly never proofread.  I’ve also been brought in as a consultant and proofreader on specialized manuscripts that have already been peer-reviewed (with a 2-3 page write-up on the major issues), but not proofread, and I’ve been hired to do so by the author concerned, not the publisher.
        There’s all sorts of things wrong with academia, and if “publish or perish” = “once a year” as far as publications go, that’s the least of it.  I’ve been trying to get full-time academic work since before my Ph.D. was conferred, and many years before and since that time I’ve had 2-4 publications a year.  The people getting hired often have a far less extensive publications dossier than I do (and I’m not counting non-academic/religious writing that I do in this), so apparently it isn’t as much of a priority as it’s been made out to be.

        • Anonymous

          LOL – to quote my diss adviser: “You have to hire a proof reader”.  To which I’ll also add: hire a copy editor.  I know as the editor of a peer-reviewed journal, we had a copy editor, but I often rejected badly written and papers that were obviously not proof read prior to submission. Other editers I’ve spoken to do the same. (You have to remember that a lot of the small journals are purely field-specific volunteer enterprises.)

          As a researcher- I find this need to hire your own proof-reader to be the case is almost all academic publishing. Especially if you must publish in a specific style in order to be read by your colleagues.  You are certainly correct in saying that there is a lot of really serious writing/editing issues in publishing just now. Particularly – IMHO – in the social sciences.

          • Anonymous

            … do not let me get started on hiring in academia right now… the Gods preserve us, it’s a nightmare. For everyone.
            BTW_ I maintain a small support page on Facebook for Pagans in Higher
            Ed – my hope is that it will address many of the things you’ve brought
            up, including some networking in the job hunt. http://www.facebook.com/groups/Pagansinhighered/

          • Nicole Youngman

            Join request sent–I’ve been in adjuncting-purgatory for ages and will probably be there indefinitely! Getting my PhD finally done just meant having to start making payments on those damn student loans. Not sure it was worth the time and effort at all.

          • Nicole Youngman

            Join request sent–I’ve been in adjuncting-purgatory for ages and will probably be there indefinitely! Getting my PhD finally done just meant having to start making payments on those damn student loans. Not sure it was worth the time and effort at all.

          • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

            Is that group just for professors and other instructors, or is it for other staff, too?

          • Anonymous

            It’s for any Pagan in academia: students (at all levels), faculty, staff, independent researchers — BoD & governance… generally for mutual support & networking.  (BTW: There is a similar group on Academia.edu – I am not associated with it.)

  • Hecate_Demetersdatter

    Great post, Star.  

    I suppose the 1st question is:  What will Paganism gain by “going mainstream”?  I’m in the camp that believes that we are going mainstream, will we or nil we, but that there’s as much to be lost as there is to be gained.

    I’ll agree 100% with your point about editing (and, I’ll add, sloppy scholarship, faulty reasoning, and plain old bad prose).  Those things turn off “serious” people faster than almost anything.  When I was on law review, they taught us that judges view bad citation format, for example, as an indication that the writer is less-than-careful.  And if the writer is sloppy about citations, they’re likely to be sloppy about their legal arguments.  Now, maybe that’s right and maybe it’s wrong (I’ve worked, in my time, with some great legal minds who couldn’t cite their way out of the Bluebook), but it’s what judges (who were generally also on law review) believe.  I’ve thrown away more Pagan books than I can count (and never bought another book by that same author) due to bad editing, unsupported assertions, sloppy reasoning.  It makes finding something well-written and well-edited a real pleasure.

    I’m not sure what the answer is, as I understand that good editors are (1) rare and (2) expensive.  But it matters.

  • Anonymous

    Great post, Star.  

    I suppose the 1st question is:  What will Paganism gain by “going mainstream”?  I’m in the camp that believes that we are going mainstream, will we or nil we, but that there’s as much to be lost as there is to be gained.

    I’ll agree 100% with your point about editing (and, I’ll add, sloppy scholarship, faulty reasoning, and plain old bad prose).  Those things turn off “serious” people faster than almost anything.  When I was on law review, they taught us that judges view bad citation format, for example, as an indication that the writer is less-than-careful.  And if the writer is sloppy about citations, they’re likely to be sloppy about their legal arguments.  Now, maybe that’s right and maybe it’s wrong (I’ve worked, in my time, with some great legal minds who couldn’t cite their way out of the Bluebook), but it’s what judges (who were generally also on law review) believe.  I’ve thrown away more Pagan books than I can count (and never bought another book by that same author) due to bad editing, unsupported assertions, sloppy reasoning.  It makes finding something well-written and well-edited a real pleasure.

    I’m not sure what the answer is, as I understand that good editors are (1) rare and (2) expensive.  But it matters.

  • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

    To do anything, least of all go mainstream, we need people to build relationships.  Without lasting relationships, there is little point investing yourself in a community.  When people make these lasting relationships, whether it is simply a solitary practitioner reaching out to coreligionists, or a group of people making or joining a group and having it survive, or joining an existing organization, we make ties that bind us together.

    What I see makes most things mainstream, is that they share a common, acknowledged, and appreciated bond.  Whether it’s Apple enthusiasts who are linked together by their love of Apple products, or Christians by their belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, or whether it’s World of Warcraft players by their game, or Muslims by the belief in the Prophet Muhammad, all these groups, divergent as they are from one another, are linked together by mutual interests, desires, and bonds.  The Pagan community needs to work to build these bonds if we hope to get anywhere, again, mainstreaming being the least of them.  

  • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

    To do anything, least of all go mainstream, we need people to build relationships.  Without lasting relationships, there is little point investing yourself in a community.  When people make these lasting relationships, whether it is simply a solitary practitioner reaching out to coreligionists, or a group of people making or joining a group and having it survive, or joining an existing organization, we make ties that bind us together.

    What I see makes most things mainstream, is that they share a common, acknowledged, and appreciated bond.  Whether it’s Apple enthusiasts who are linked together by their love of Apple products, or Christians by their belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, or whether it’s World of Warcraft players by their game, or Muslims by the belief in the Prophet Muhammad, all these groups, divergent as they are from one another, are linked together by mutual interests, desires, and bonds.  The Pagan community needs to work to build these bonds if we hope to get anywhere, again, mainstreaming being the least of them.  

  • Dáire

    The biggest issue that I see with paganism (Wicca and Wicca-inspired neo-paganism) going mainstream, is that it will alienate a large number of pagans. I have seen no studies on it, but I suspect that a large percentage of pagans are attracted to it mainly *because* it isn’t mainstream.

    As an interesting contrast, most reconstruction-based religions seem to be actively trying to go mainstream.

  • Dáire

    The biggest issue that I see with paganism (Wicca and Wicca-inspired neo-paganism) going mainstream, is that it will alienate a large number of pagans. I have seen no studies on it, but I suspect that a large percentage of pagans are attracted to it mainly *because* it isn’t mainstream.

    As an interesting contrast, most reconstruction-based religions seem to be actively trying to go mainstream.

  • Don Frew

    “Mainstreaming” was THE topic of discussion in the Covenant of the Goddess in response to all the public attention we received after the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions.  One popular view was that we could best do this by becoming more like the so-called “mainstream” religious groups – i.e. by having Wiccan clergy, Wiccan churches, Wiccan laity, etc.  The other popular view was that we could best do this be educating the “mainstream ” religious groups about the tremendous and growing diversity of expressions of religion in the United States, and so broaden their conception of what is “mainstream” such that it included us.  I was, and remain, a proponent of the latter approach and have actively pursued interfaith work with this goal in mind.  In my opinion, it’s working, and the approach most likely to successfully balance public acceptance with maintaining our religious uniqueness.

    Blessed Be,
    Don Frew

    • LezlieKinyon

      Could not agree with you more. Flight of fancy: in 300 years, the way we do it might be the mainstream. Especially if the churches continue to do  it with top-down leaders who bore their congregations to death every Sunday. There is a *reason* that churches rent out their (very expensive) buildings to all sorts to groups all week and employ a wedding planner.  (In contrast: 1500 people at Spiral Dance having a wonderful time dancing their love of the planet and singing the praises of the Goddess … and, not a homily in sight …  makes you think, don’t it?) the work of a Priest/ess of our diverse path is fundamentally different than that of so-called “mainstream” (ie: Abrahamist) paths. Redefining “mainstream” to be inclusive of the immense diversity of beliefs of all of us humans is a a really good idea. (and, it’s about time!)

  • Don Frew

    “Mainstreaming” was THE topic of discussion in the Covenant of the Goddess in response to all the public attention we received after the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions.  One popular view was that we could best do this by becoming more like the so-called “mainstream” religious groups – i.e. by having Wiccan clergy, Wiccan churches, Wiccan laity, etc.  The other popular view was that we could best do this be educating the “mainstream ” religious groups about the tremendous and growing diversity of expressions of religion in the United States, and so broaden their conception of what is “mainstream” such that it included us.  I was, and remain, a proponent of the latter approach and have actively pursued interfaith work with this goal in mind.  In my opinion, it’s working, and the approach most likely to successfully balance public acceptance with maintaining our religious uniqueness.

    Blessed Be,
    Don Frew

    • Anonymous

      Could not agree with you more. Flight of fancy: in 300 years, the way we do it might be the mainstream. Especially if the churches continue to do  it with top-down leaders who bore their congregations to death every Sunday. There is a *reason* that churches rent out their (very expensive) buildings to all sorts to groups all week and employ a wedding planner.  (In contrast: 1500 people at Spiral Dance having a wonderful time dancing their love of the planet and singing the praises of the Goddess … and, not a homily in sight …  makes you think, don’t it?) the work of a Priest/ess of our diverse path is fundamentally different than that of so-called “mainstream” (ie: Abrahamist) paths. Redefining “mainstream” to be inclusive of the immense diversity of beliefs of all of us humans is a a really good idea. (and, it’s about time!)

  • Polyverve

    “If you were to try to carry a physical banner for all of theses causes you’d be crushed and smothered by the weight.”

    I disagree. You would only have to carry one banner. It would say “OPEN”.

  • Polyverve

    “If you were to try to carry a physical banner for all of theses causes you’d be crushed and smothered by the weight.”

    I disagree. You would only have to carry one banner. It would say “OPEN”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Carron/100001353268347 David Carron

    Assuming you are correct on all your points, so what?  We need to get going at some point.  Some leadership from the front may be required and folks will either follow or not.  As the Havamal says, no honor was gained from the bench. 

    A formal education is important to have legitimacy in the public eye.  But there are certainly a number of clergy training programs available. 

    Editing and those skills are symptoms of the “youth” of our movement.  But that is changing too.  Have a look at Óðrœrir (http://odroerirjournal.com/) it’s a scholarly level of effort put into a religious magazine for the Asatru practitioner.  

    As far as “Sponging Up the Fringe”, we may not be able to get everyone into the same Pagan tent.  “The truth is Paganism doesn’t want to go mainstream, though it seems inevitable as it continues to grow.”  Can Paganism survive having a Hof or Temple on every corner?  I don’t know but I’m willing to try. 
    Our movement is not a mandatory one and many may not join in this process: it can’t be helped.  I believe that we must not pander to such bellyaching. 

    • LezlieKinyon

      Hi there- There are a lot of us with formal education – to a very high degree . Myself included. (Check out mu blog: http://www.lezlie1.wordpress.com) There is leadership and then there is leadership. IMHO- we don’t need (or require) top-down leadership on any large, organized level. The various Pagan groups remain *tiny* and independent. That is a Good Thing. There is no secret to a long-lived Coven, such as mine (38 years and counting): we -truly- like, respect, and support each other.

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

        I wasn’t speaking of education in general, but Pagan education specifically. I am not aware of any undergrad or grad level courses in polytheology outside of perhaps Cherry Hill.

        • LezlieKinyon

          They tend to disguise themselves as “Goddess” or “Earth-centered” tracks at places like CIIS and the GTU – there are also quite a few with courses within transpersonal oriented programs. Even my own graduate school, Saybrook, has a track – although not specifically geared toward any one spiritual path, it will serve any Pagan (or other) serious student. – and – While none of them are geared specifically to a Pagan clergy person (the main reason being economics), you’ll get a good graduate education that will prepare you for *a career* – in some other field than professional Pagan clergy. (Professional clergy is a thought that many Pagans find more than a little bit appalling.)  In order to be a professional clergy-person, you have to have a congregation that agrees to pay you – in money.  I, personally, would not support that notion in any form. (I am not alone in this, by any stretch of the imagination.) (Indeed, I will actively campaign against it.)
          I
          am not one to promote on-line-only graduate education, nor an
          enterprise that is a) tuition driven or b) works entirely with volunteer
          faculty (!).  However, having said that, Cherry Hill is an ambitious project
          with a lot of potential. Let’s see how it all works itself out.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            I’m not certain why you equate Pagan higher education with paid clergy. Not everyone who goes to seminary or majors in religious studies becomes clergy, much less paid clergy. How many people today are majoring in Islamic studies with no intention of becoming an Imam or a scholar of the Qu’ran?

            So are what you essentially saying is that Pagans need to gather the crumbs from other courses because without paid clergy no one would want or need Pagan higher education? I think that is false.

          • LezlieKinyon

            Interesting interpretation of my remarks… no, these are not “crumbs” – by anyone’s definition. I got to work with the top people in consciousness, cybernetics, and in the systems world, and not one called my “path” odd or weird. They supported my research fully – (my MA thesis & my dissertation are both available through the librarian at Saybrook -you might find my MA thesis more interesting.)
            I do not equate one with the other. What I am saying is that a person, when considering graduate school, should choose a graduate school that will prepare her or him for those (all-important) career goals.  Be it academia or physics or religious studies.  What I object to is creating (and, supporting) a class of Pagans called “professional clergy” and creating seminaries whose purpose is to train and educate people for that career option.  Sounds like a recipe for a lifetime of poverty, frustration, and a big student-loan debt that no one will ever pay off. In 2011, that does not strike me as a responsible move on the part of this community to support.  Tell me how students are going to be prepared for any career path with an expensive graduate education in a specifically Pagan seminary and I’ll change my tune. So far… nope … don’t see it. If you are already settled in your career, don’t need student aid, and are wealthy enough to pay your tuition outright – sure – OK (although that brings up some issues of class). Otherwise, my choice is to support inclusive programs within graduate schools that further career goals – other than that of paid Pagan clergy. And- the all important question when you are out into the world of apre-grad school seeking research grants and a *job*, be prepared to answer the questions of “who did you work with?” and  “where are you published?” with a precise and good answer.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            Well, by your logic Classical Studies and other economically un-advantageous subjects are superfluous and only for the rich and idle? If Plotinus isn’t bring home the bacon give him the axe?

            I’m a little offended that since you don’t want paid clergy you think none of us should have access to higher Pagan education. I have no desire to be clergy, much less paid clergy, but I certainly would like to have access to higher Pagan education, however decadent and impractical that might seem.

          • LezlieKinyon

            I am laughing here – it’s a round good-natured from the belly laugh. Join me please as I say: did I mention that I have an advanced degree in conscious-studies & systems thinking…? (For what the latter is: isss.org).  It’s a cold, difficult path to work – or find work, in the “hallowed halls” in 2011, no matter what you major in. 

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            Your derision isn’t becoming. Basically, because YOU can’t make money off Paganism there shouldn’t be higher Pagan education.

            And yes, you’ve mentioned your advanced degree several times. If you like you’re welcome to mention it some more.

          • LezlieKinyon

            This has become fairly silly – you don’t know me except as some uppity woman posting on your blog, or you would say none of these things. (There are people posting here who do know me, BTW)  Laughing at myself is somehow derisive — well– I could get into a huff and unsub to your blog – or flame you and generally carry on in some angry tone or some other such thing — but, I won’t. Generally speaking, I like what you say and think you have a good thing going.  Having said that, let me say this loud and clear (I did post this last evening): Don’t be ridiculous, Star!  *Access and Hiring in Academia is a MUCH LARGER issue than can be discussed herein.*  Several of us – including me – advocate things like creating college funds maintained by our Covens & circles. Some of us contribute lots and lots of time (and, our personal funds) to make it possible for Pagans and the youth of our communities (especially women) to get into college, succeed in college and — yes– serve on committees, write recommendations and so on and so forth on *your* (a Pagan woman with ambition) behalf. Beyond that, I spend time (more and more it seems) working with people to find a way out of the student loan morass this country is in (if you haven’t been following this, you might take a look at a couple sites – if only out of self-preservation). I just met with the BOD of my Grad school to discuss the necessity of not continuing  on the tuition-driven path as an institution – because it has become an undertaking that leaves scholars in debt to the tune of $140,000 (and, more) and we simply can no longer afford to think that way as a nation.  Accusing people who don’t agree with you on one point and making grand assumptions is not a useful thing to do.   BTW: I maintain a networking page on Facebook by and for Pagans in Higher Ed.: http://www.facebook.com/groups/Pagansinhighered/?ref=ts  (I believe that I may do a little writing about this topic on my blog this week…) I hope that these issues and others important to survival as scholars will be discussed there.

          • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

            There’s a good reason for that, though, Star.  Islamic Studies is a *HUGE* field to go into right now, because every large university that didn’t have a department or program in it as of 10 years ago now does, or wants one.  It’s a growth area for religious studies generally. So, many of the people who are getting degrees in Islamic Studies are doing so for the same reasons that people who are getting degrees in Religious Studies are doing those programs:  not to be ministers, but to get jobs.  A degree in either of those fields doesn’t necessarily imply any religious commitment on the part of those who obtain them.  

            Plus, unless someone had Arabic as their native language, and grew up in a Muslim country, and was thoroughly infused with the culture, anything they’d write about the Qu’ran wouldn’t be taken seriously, so they couldn’t be a “Qu’ranic scholar” outside of that context, as it doesn’t really exist yet.  To have religious textual scholars on that level is a “post-reformation” phenomenon in the history of most religions to this point, and Islam is just entering into a reformation-type period at this stage.

        • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

          There are a number of resources available for polytheology and other Pagan information topics.  Ardantane, Wollston-Steen, Cherry Hill, Witch School, Wiccans of the Mojave Desert Seminary, Our Lady of Enchantment, heck even the ULC offers coursework in Paganism.  And that’s just what I came up with after a scant five minutes on Google.

          Of those, at least two of them have the religious exemption to accreditation and are degree-granting seminaries recognised as seminaries by state and/or federal government.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Carron/100001353268347 David Carron

    Assuming you are correct on all your points, so what?  We need to get going at some point.  Some leadership from the front may be required and folks will either follow or not.  As the Havamal says, no honor was gained from the bench. 

    A formal education is important to have legitimacy in the public eye.  But there are certainly a number of clergy training programs available. 

    Editing and those skills are symptoms of the “youth” of our movement.  But that is changing too.  Have a look at Óðrœrir (http://odroerirjournal.com/) it’s a scholarly level of effort put into a religious magazine for the Asatru practitioner.  

    As far as “Sponging Up the Fringe”, we may not be able to get everyone into the same Pagan tent.  “The truth is Paganism doesn’t want to go mainstream, though it seems inevitable as it continues to grow.”  Can Paganism survive having a Hof or Temple on every corner?  I don’t know but I’m willing to try. 
    Our movement is not a mandatory one and many may not join in this process: it can’t be helped.  I believe that we must not pander to such bellyaching. 

    • Anonymous

      Hi there- There are a lot of us with formal education – to a very high degree . Myself included. (Check out mu blog: http://www.lezlie1.wordpress.com) There is leadership and then there is leadership. IMHO- we don’t need (or require) top-down leadership on any large, organized level. The various Pagan groups remain *tiny* and independent. That is a Good Thing. There is no secret to a long-lived Coven, such as mine (38 years and counting): we -truly- like, respect, and support each other.

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        I wasn’t speaking of education in general, but Pagan education specifically. I am not aware of any undergrad or grad level courses in polytheology outside of perhaps Cherry Hill.

        • Anonymous

          They tend to disguise themselves as “Goddess” or “Earth-centered” tracks at places like CIIS and the GTU – there are also quite a few with courses within transpersonal oriented programs. Even my own graduate school, Saybrook, has a track – although not specifically geared toward any one spiritual path, it will serve any Pagan (or other) serious student. – and – While none of them are geared specifically to a Pagan clergy person (the main reason being economics), you’ll get a good graduate education that will prepare you for *a career* – in some other field than professional Pagan clergy. (Professional clergy is a thought that many Pagans find more than a little bit appalling.)  In order to be a professional clergy-person, you have to have a congregation that agrees to pay you – in money.  I, personally, would not support that notion in any form. (I am not alone in this, by any stretch of the imagination.) (Indeed, I will actively campaign against it.)
          I
          am not one to promote on-line-only graduate education, nor an
          enterprise that is a) tuition driven or b) works entirely with volunteer
          faculty (!).  However, having said that, Cherry Hill is an ambitious project
          with a lot of potential. Let’s see how it all works itself out.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            I’m not certain why you equate Pagan higher education with paid clergy. Not everyone who goes to seminary or majors in religious studies becomes clergy, much less paid clergy. How many people today are majoring in Islamic studies with no intention of becoming an Imam or a scholar of the Qu’ran?

            So are what you essentially saying is that Pagans need to gather the crumbs from other courses because without paid clergy no one would want or need Pagan higher education? I think that is false.

          • Anonymous

            Interesting interpretation of my remarks… no, these are not “crumbs” – by anyone’s definition. I got to work with the top people in consciousness, cybernetics, and in the systems world, and not one called my “path” odd or weird. They supported my research fully – (my MA thesis & my dissertation are both available through the librarian at Saybrook -you might find my MA thesis more interesting.)
            I do not equate one with the other. What I am saying is that a person, when considering graduate school, should choose a graduate school that will prepare her or him for those (all-important) career goals.  Be it academia or physics or religious studies.  What I object to is creating (and, supporting) a class of Pagans called “professional clergy” and creating seminaries whose purpose is to train and educate people for that career option.  Sounds like a recipe for a lifetime of poverty, frustration, and a big student-loan debt that no one will ever pay off. In 2011, that does not strike me as a responsible move on the part of this community to support.  Tell me how students are going to be prepared for any career path with an expensive graduate education in a specifically Pagan seminary and I’ll change my tune. So far… nope … don’t see it. If you are already settled in your career, don’t need student aid, and are wealthy enough to pay your tuition outright – sure – OK (although that brings up some issues of class). Otherwise, my choice is to support inclusive programs within graduate schools that further career goals – other than that of paid Pagan clergy. And- the all important question when you are out into the world of apre-grad school seeking research grants and a *job*, be prepared to answer the questions of “who did you work with?” and  “where are you published?” with a precise and good answer.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            Well, by your logic Classical Studies and other economically un-advantageous subjects are superfluous and only for the rich and idle? If Plotinus isn’t bring home the bacon give him the axe?

            I’m a little offended that since you don’t want paid clergy you think none of us should have access to higher Pagan education. I have no desire to be clergy, much less paid clergy, but I certainly would like to have access to higher Pagan education, however decadent and impractical that might seem.

          • Anonymous

            I am laughing here – it’s a round good-natured from the belly laugh. Join me please as I say: did I mention that I have an advanced degree in conscious-studies & systems thinking…? (For what the latter is: isss.org).  It’s a cold, difficult path to work – or find work, in the “hallowed halls” in 2011, no matter what you major in. 

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            Your derision isn’t becoming. Basically, because YOU can’t make money off Paganism there shouldn’t be higher Pagan education.

            And yes, you’ve mentioned your advanced degree several times. If you like you’re welcome to mention it some more.

          • Anonymous

            This has become fairly silly – you don’t know me except as some uppity woman posting on your blog, or you would say none of these things. (There are people posting here who do know me, BTW)  Laughing at myself is somehow derisive — well– I could get into a huff and unsub to your blog – or flame you and generally carry on in some angry tone or some other such thing — but, I won’t. Generally speaking, I like what you say and think you have a good thing going.  Having said that, let me say this loud and clear (I did post this last evening): Don’t be ridiculous, Star!  *Access and Hiring in Academia is a MUCH LARGER issue than can be discussed herein.*  Several of us – including me – advocate things like creating college funds maintained by our Covens & circles. Some of us contribute lots and lots of time (and, our personal funds) to make it possible for Pagans and the youth of our communities (especially women) to get into college, succeed in college and — yes– serve on committees, write recommendations and so on and so forth on *your* (a Pagan woman with ambition) behalf. Beyond that, I spend time (more and more it seems) working with people to find a way out of the student loan morass this country is in (if you haven’t been following this, you might take a look at a couple sites – if only out of self-preservation). I just met with the BOD of my Grad school to discuss the necessity of not continuing  on the tuition-driven path as an institution – because it has become an undertaking that leaves scholars in debt to the tune of $140,000 (and, more) and we simply can no longer afford to think that way as a nation.  Accusing people who don’t agree with you on one point and making grand assumptions is not a useful thing to do.   BTW: I maintain a networking page on Facebook by and for Pagans in Higher Ed.: http://www.facebook.com/groups/Pagansinhighered/?ref=ts  (I believe that I may do a little writing about this topic on my blog this week…) I hope that these issues and others important to survival as scholars will be discussed there.

          • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

            There’s a good reason for that, though, Star.  Islamic Studies is a *HUGE* field to go into right now, because every large university that didn’t have a department or program in it as of 10 years ago now does, or wants one.  It’s a growth area for religious studies generally. So, many of the people who are getting degrees in Islamic Studies are doing so for the same reasons that people who are getting degrees in Religious Studies are doing those programs:  not to be ministers, but to get jobs.  A degree in either of those fields doesn’t necessarily imply any religious commitment on the part of those who obtain them.  

            Plus, unless someone had Arabic as their native language, and grew up in a Muslim country, and was thoroughly infused with the culture, anything they’d write about the Qu’ran wouldn’t be taken seriously, so they couldn’t be a “Qu’ranic scholar” outside of that context, as it doesn’t really exist yet.  To have religious textual scholars on that level is a “post-reformation” phenomenon in the history of most religions to this point, and Islam is just entering into a reformation-type period at this stage.

        • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

          There are a number of resources available for polytheology and other Pagan information topics.  Ardantane, Wollston-Steen, Cherry Hill, Witch School, Wiccans of the Mojave Desert Seminary, Our Lady of Enchantment, heck even the ULC offers coursework in Paganism.  And that’s just what I came up with after a scant five minutes on Google.

          Of those, at least two of them have the religious exemption to accreditation and are degree-granting seminaries recognised as seminaries by state and/or federal government.

  • LezlieKinyon

    There are a  couple grad schools in the SF Bay Area and elsewhere with spirituality “tracks” that will serve quite well for the things Pagan clergy need to learn. Doing a little “extra” in an MBA program will fill in some of the rest.   Traditional seminaries have a lot of training about how to run a church: the business of religion, as it were.  There is a lot of paperwork involved, not to mention working with the issues of the building itself, dealing with the various committees, some pastoral counseling…  (never enough).  Cherry Hill has a lot of enthusiasm and it will be interesting to see how things develop in future years. However, this all assumes that the idea of a professional Pagan clergy and the organized religious trappings that go along with that is a Good Thing. I am not one of those who believes that it is.

    • Seamus

      There are two UUA certified Grad schools with M Div degrees, which look like they would mesh well with pagan ideals.

  • Anonymous

    There are a  couple grad schools in the SF Bay Area and elsewhere with spirituality “tracks” that will serve quite well for the things Pagan clergy need to learn. Doing a little “extra” in an MBA program will fill in some of the rest.   Traditional seminaries have a lot of training about how to run a church: the business of religion, as it were.  There is a lot of paperwork involved, not to mention working with the issues of the building itself, dealing with the various committees, some pastoral counseling…  (never enough).  Cherry Hill has a lot of enthusiasm and it will be interesting to see how things develop in future years. However, this all assumes that the idea of a professional Pagan clergy and the organized religious trappings that go along with that is a Good Thing. I am not one of those who believes that it is.

    • Seamus

      There are two UUA certified Grad schools with M Div degrees, which look like they would mesh well with pagan ideals.

  • kenneth

    I don’t see any benefits whatsoever to “going mainstream” in the sense of doing it to try to capture some suburban notion of respectability. I have no interest in being part of a megachurch or dealing with a permanent clergy caste. We’ve become mainstream as it is in many ways, with an increasing awareness in society and media of what we are, and aren’t, about. We have a decent handle on our basic legal rights, though that is always an ongoing struggle. If I have my gods, good people to circle with, and basic freedom and safety to practice, I could care less whether anyone thinks I’m “mainstream” enough for them.

  • kenneth

    I don’t see any benefits whatsoever to “going mainstream” in the sense of doing it to try to capture some suburban notion of respectability. I have no interest in being part of a megachurch or dealing with a permanent clergy caste. We’ve become mainstream as it is in many ways, with an increasing awareness in society and media of what we are, and aren’t, about. We have a decent handle on our basic legal rights, though that is always an ongoing struggle. If I have my gods, good people to circle with, and basic freedom and safety to practice, I could care less whether anyone thinks I’m “mainstream” enough for them.

  • Rua Lupa

    Define Mainstream?

    • kenneth

      That’s a damn good question, and one that would have been most productively raised and answered 60-some posts and one column ago. Are we talking about “going mainstream” in the demographic sense of the word? If so, we are already there to a large degree.  Though still a minority set of religions, we clearly have a visible presence and the media and general society increasingly has at least a broad-brush semi accurate idea of what we’re about.

      If, on the other hand, we’re thinking of “going mainstream” as aspirations to being like the others, that’s an entirely different matter. We’re not likely to have big brick and mortar institutions and full time clergy and pope figures and “reverend doctors” because the overwhelming majority of us don’t want them. The few who do are the community leaders who envy all of the trappings and status they see among other clergy they meet in interfaith work, etc. If that’s what they want, go for it, but they’re going to find very few of us in their “congregations.”  There are some specialized roles like chaplaincy and counseling which do merit more formal training, but we don’t need big crops of seminary graduates and we certainly don’t need a “pagan Oprah.”

       Unless you’re looking for converts and/or big money, there is simply no reason to even reach out to mainstream audiences on the collective level as pagans. Paganism isn’t about some formulaic or scriptural truth that can be spoon fed to the public by dint of charisma and enthusiasm. Paganism is an individual journey to oneself and the gods. We can offer some tools and background and community to help them in their work, but it is a journey they, and not some preacher, must initiate.

      In that sense, I think we already are at the cutting edge of what is, or will be, mainstream in the new century. Increasingly people in all paths, even Christian ones, are forsaking institutional religion for personal spirituality. This is a big new scary step for a lot of them. It’s the very core and essence of what we do.

      • LezlieKinyon

        Thank you! Just what I’ve been saying! IMHO: this is a path of mystics and people fed up with the trappings. Those are not of the spirit, they are mere distractions. I’ll eat linoleum before I pay one dime to a professional pagan “pastor” or to support some big building to train such. And there is no way I’d be caught dead in such a congregation – not even if it’s CUUPs.

  • Rua Lupa

    Define Mainstream?

    • kenneth

      That’s a damn good question, and one that would have been most productively raised and answered 60-some posts and one column ago. Are we talking about “going mainstream” in the demographic sense of the word? If so, we are already there to a large degree.  Though still a minority set of religions, we clearly have a visible presence and the media and general society increasingly has at least a broad-brush semi accurate idea of what we’re about.

      If, on the other hand, we’re thinking of “going mainstream” as aspirations to being like the others, that’s an entirely different matter. We’re not likely to have big brick and mortar institutions and full time clergy and pope figures and “reverend doctors” because the overwhelming majority of us don’t want them. The few who do are the community leaders who envy all of the trappings and status they see among other clergy they meet in interfaith work, etc. If that’s what they want, go for it, but they’re going to find very few of us in their “congregations.”  There are some specialized roles like chaplaincy and counseling which do merit more formal training, but we don’t need big crops of seminary graduates and we certainly don’t need a “pagan Oprah.”

       Unless you’re looking for converts and/or big money, there is simply no reason to even reach out to mainstream audiences on the collective level as pagans. Paganism isn’t about some formulaic or scriptural truth that can be spoon fed to the public by dint of charisma and enthusiasm. Paganism is an individual journey to oneself and the gods. We can offer some tools and background and community to help them in their work, but it is a journey they, and not some preacher, must initiate.

      In that sense, I think we already are at the cutting edge of what is, or will be, mainstream in the new century. Increasingly people in all paths, even Christian ones, are forsaking institutional religion for personal spirituality. This is a big new scary step for a lot of them. It’s the very core and essence of what we do.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you! Just what I’ve been saying! IMHO: this is a path of mystics and people fed up with the trappings. Those are not of the spirit, they are mere distractions. I’ll eat linoleum before I pay one dime to a professional pagan “pastor” or to support some big building to train such. And there is no way I’d be caught dead in such a congregation – not even if it’s CUUPs.

  • LezlieKinyon

    “Why not some Pagan Sunday School?” Several groups have them – they just don’t bang the internet drum. There are also other programs for students that are more- and, less- formal or part of an existing accredited graduate program.  Yes-one day there will be a Pagan seminary (or “ovary”) as a part of the Graduate Theological School in Berkeley or Harvard in Boston… but (and it’s a big but) the community has to be bigger and fort he economics to work.  The issue
    here is that we remain a very small minority.  I challenge all of the
    members of this community to consider thinking about what we want and what we are in terms that are not Judeo – Christian. What would “mainstream Paganism” look like?  Sunday go to meetin’ isn’t it…a lot us are on this path because it is radically different.  Nor would most of us go around trying to convert the “Goddess-less Barbarians” (I should hope not! What an appalling idea that is!) The big events are fun, but, I really like meeting in forest with a small group for Sabbats and making magic, and it seems, a lot of other Pagans do as well.  My job as priestess is very different than “minister” or “pastor”: I’m no shepard of any flocks, nor do I want to be.   And- I know – for certain – that I am not alone in this.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      What would “mainstream Paganism” look like? 

      Our books on the Craft, the history of our Paths, our theology and philosophy would be stocked at all the big brick & mortar book stores, right alongside “Eastern Thought” and the other books in the “religion” section, rather than being shunted off to a dusty corner full of books on Atlantis and “proof” that ET built the pyramids.

      I’d be able to find cards to wish people a joyous return of the light at Winter Solstice without having to go to a specialty shop.  (Yes, it’s terribly Wicca-privileged of me, but it’s what *I* imagine, anyway.)

      Pagan children, from nursery on, would be able to take our holidays off as excused absences from school.  Pagan workers would be able to do likewise without risking losing their jobs.

      Pagans would be included without question in “National Day of Prayer” observances, interfaith councils and other interfaith activities, without commentary such as “we’ve concluded that integrating Pagans into the group will need to be handled with some delicacy.”  (Yes, I’ve been told exactly that by an interfaith council.)

      Pagans will be invited to give opening prayers and invocations at governmental sessions without controversy.

      Interfaith groups will cease to use monotheist-centric language when talking about people of faith in their literature and gatherings.

      Modern and Reconstructionist polytheistic faiths will be included in any serious course catalogue for a theology department at public colleges and universities.

      When I go into the beading section of a craft store, or a bead shop, I’ll see Valknot, triskele, pentacle and other Pagan pendants, alongside the Stars of David and crosses.

      Pagan prisoners will have access to the tools of their Path, primary and secondary services without having to resort to lawsuits state by state to get them.

      Pagan chaplains will serve in the military, at hospitals and hospices, in colleges and universities and at other facilities that employ chaplains.

      Pagans will be so present in the public consciousness that we will stop seeing the usual parade of “meet the Pagans” pieces turning up in the mainstream media in October.

      That’d be a good start, anyway.

  • Anonymous

    “Why not some Pagan Sunday School?” Several groups have them – they just don’t bang the internet drum. There are also other programs for students that are more- and, less- formal or part of an existing accredited graduate program.  Yes-one day there will be a Pagan seminary (or “ovary”) as a part of the Graduate Theological School in Berkeley or Harvard in Boston… but (and it’s a big but) the community has to be bigger and fort he economics to work.  The issue
    here is that we remain a very small minority.  I challenge all of the
    members of this community to consider thinking about what we want and what we are in terms that are not Judeo – Christian. What would “mainstream Paganism” look like?  Sunday go to meetin’ isn’t it…a lot us are on this path because it is radically different.  Nor would most of us go around trying to convert the “Goddess-less Barbarians” (I should hope not! What an appalling idea that is!) The big events are fun, but, I really like meeting in forest with a small group for Sabbats and making magic, and it seems, a lot of other Pagans do as well.  My job as priestess is very different than “minister” or “pastor”: I’m no shepard of any flocks, nor do I want to be.   And- I know – for certain – that I am not alone in this.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      What would “mainstream Paganism” look like? 

      Our books on the Craft, the history of our Paths, our theology and philosophy would be stocked at all the big brick & mortar book stores, right alongside “Eastern Thought” and the other books in the “religion” section, rather than being shunted off to a dusty corner full of books on Atlantis and “proof” that ET built the pyramids.

      I’d be able to find cards to wish people a joyous return of the light at Winter Solstice without having to go to a specialty shop.  (Yes, it’s terribly Wicca-privileged of me, but it’s what *I* imagine, anyway.)

      Pagan children, from nursery on, would be able to take our holidays off as excused absences from school.  Pagan workers would be able to do likewise without risking losing their jobs.

      Pagans would be included without question in “National Day of Prayer” observances, interfaith councils and other interfaith activities, without commentary such as “we’ve concluded that integrating Pagans into the group will need to be handled with some delicacy.”  (Yes, I’ve been told exactly that by an interfaith council.)

      Pagans will be invited to give opening prayers and invocations at governmental sessions without controversy.

      Interfaith groups will cease to use monotheist-centric language when talking about people of faith in their literature and gatherings.

      Modern and Reconstructionist polytheistic faiths will be included in any serious course catalogue for a theology department at public colleges and universities.

      When I go into the beading section of a craft store, or a bead shop, I’ll see Valknot, triskele, pentacle and other Pagan pendants, alongside the Stars of David and crosses.

      Pagan prisoners will have access to the tools of their Path, primary and secondary services without having to resort to lawsuits state by state to get them.

      Pagan chaplains will serve in the military, at hospitals and hospices, in colleges and universities and at other facilities that employ chaplains.

      Pagans will be so present in the public consciousness that we will stop seeing the usual parade of “meet the Pagans” pieces turning up in the mainstream media in October.

      That’d be a good start, anyway.

  • LezlieKinyon

    “I’m a little offended that since you don’t want paid clergy you think none of us should have access to higher Pagan education.”
    That’s actually insulting.  To me. To you. To the Community of people calling themselves Pagans herein and those of us who fought hard and got that doctorate from our own hard work. To everyone here.
    It is putting words in my mouth while also begging the question.  **Access to higher ed is a MUCH LARGER ISSUE than can be debated here. And one you should be discussing with your congressperson. Hourly. By whatever means you have at your disposal.**

  • Anonymous

    “I’m a little offended that since you don’t want paid clergy you think none of us should have access to higher Pagan education.”
    That’s actually insulting.  To me. To you. To the Community of people calling themselves Pagans herein and those of us who fought hard and got that doctorate from our own hard work. To everyone here.
    It is putting words in my mouth while also begging the question.  **Access to higher ed is a MUCH LARGER ISSUE than can be debated here. And one you should be discussing with your congressperson. Hourly. By whatever means you have at your disposal.**

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1159473461 Steve Provost

    “Yet to be Pagan is to be expected to be pro-kink, pro-nudism, pro-legalization-of-marijuana, pro-sex-worker-rights, pro-homeschooling, pro-polyamory, pro-homeopathy, pro-choice, and a bunch of other things.”

    That’s unfortunate, because I’m actually personally against many of those things. I’m monogamous (though not judgmental of those who aren’t). I find marijuana badly regulated and the legalization process poorly thought out; personally, I have no use for it, though I do think marijuana should be available for medical purposes through a pharmacy, like any other drug.

    I have no opinion on homeschooling. I’m personally against abortion in most cases, though I don’t like the idea of government telling people and their doctors what to do. I’m for the rights of sex workers, but I support the rights of most workers. I’m for homeopathy if it works; if it doesn’t, I think it’s probably a scam. As to nudism, I can take it or leave it. I don’t even know what “pro-kink” means, though if it refers to kinky sex, I think what adults do with each other is their own business. 

    Paganism is a lot broader than these categories. As to education, I’ve learned more in my personal studies than I did in college. I find higher education to be obscenely expensive these days and not worth what one pays for it. I was fortunate to get through college when it was still inexpensive enough that my parents could afford to pay my way. 

    Paganism is so broad and diverse that talking about it “going mainstream” is problematic, in my view. What might constitute “selling out” to one faction may in fact be quite consistent with another group’s beliefs. 

    This is an interesting article that raises some interesting points. I’ll be sure to share it.

    One more thing: I’m a Pagan and I’m an editor. Need help with a manuscript? Contact me! :-)

    • kenneth

      I think the whole side issue of conflating pagan identity with these other issues is perhaps not so much of a problem as we might suppose. Yes, support and certain positions on these other issues are often found in significant numbers among the pagan community, but I don’t think anyone considers them central to pagan identity. Is it really so surprising that a community of free thinkers and spiritual seekers would tend to have a libertarian (or even libertine) bent?

       The fact that many of us support say, polyamory, does not make it integral to being a pagan or a “good” pagan. Maybe that fact should be reiterated from time to time to the media and other outsiders and new pagans. Nobody has to support or live any of these other lifestyle choices or political positions to be pagan.  At the same time, I don’t have a lot of respect for the folks who seem to be trying to disown large swaths of our alternative minded community simply to try to make paganism seem more palatable and “safe” for mainstream consumption.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1159473461 Steve Provost

        Well put!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1159473461 Steve Provost

    “Yet to be Pagan is to be expected to be pro-kink, pro-nudism, pro-legalization-of-marijuana, pro-sex-worker-rights, pro-homeschooling, pro-polyamory, pro-homeopathy, pro-choice, and a bunch of other things.”

    That’s unfortunate, because I’m actually personally against many of those things. I’m monogamous (though not judgmental of those who aren’t). I find marijuana badly regulated and the legalization process poorly thought out; personally, I have no use for it, though I do think marijuana should be available for medical purposes through a pharmacy, like any other drug.

    I have no opinion on homeschooling. I’m personally against abortion in most cases, though I don’t like the idea of government telling people and their doctors what to do. I’m for the rights of sex workers, but I support the rights of most workers. I’m for homeopathy if it works; if it doesn’t, I think it’s probably a scam. As to nudism, I can take it or leave it. I don’t even know what “pro-kink” means, though if it refers to kinky sex, I think what adults do with each other is their own business. 

    Paganism is a lot broader than these categories. As to education, I’ve learned more in my personal studies than I did in college. I find higher education to be obscenely expensive these days and not worth what one pays for it. I was fortunate to get through college when it was still inexpensive enough that my parents could afford to pay my way. 

    Paganism is so broad and diverse that talking about it “going mainstream” is problematic, in my view. What might constitute “selling out” to one faction may in fact be quite consistent with another group’s beliefs. 

    This is an interesting article that raises some interesting points. I’ll be sure to share it.

    One more thing: I’m a Pagan and I’m an editor. Need help with a manuscript? Contact me! :-)

    • kenneth

      I think the whole side issue of conflating pagan identity with these other issues is perhaps not so much of a problem as we might suppose. Yes, support and certain positions on these other issues are often found in significant numbers among the pagan community, but I don’t think anyone considers them central to pagan identity. Is it really so surprising that a community of free thinkers and spiritual seekers would tend to have a libertarian (or even libertine) bent?

       The fact that many of us support say, polyamory, does not make it integral to being a pagan or a “good” pagan. Maybe that fact should be reiterated from time to time to the media and other outsiders and new pagans. Nobody has to support or live any of these other lifestyle choices or political positions to be pagan.  At the same time, I don’t have a lot of respect for the folks who seem to be trying to disown large swaths of our alternative minded community simply to try to make paganism seem more palatable and “safe” for mainstream consumption.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1159473461 Steve Provost

        Well put!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PP56JE3QUO7DUQBGBU24JSKD6I Anyanka

    There seems to be a tendency within the pagan community to believe that one should not receive monetary compensation because their work is “spiritual.” I’ve actually had people tell me that they if someone charges for anything spiritual related that proves they are a fraud. This came up most recently in regards to the tarot reader in Alexandria LA who was cited by the local government for the crime of “fortune telling.” I have a couple major problems with this mindset. I’ve seen this most frequently applied to services such as psychic readings, spiritual healing, energy work and spell casting, but I’ve also seen it applied to clergy, media, and even authors.

    1. Unless the person is independently wealthy, how do you expect them to have the time to serve your spiritual needs? They may genuinely WISH they had the time and money to serve their community gratis, but most people have to earn a living. Do you really expect them to have a job somewhere, work all day, take care of themselves, their family, and other responsibilities, then still have time to be at your beck and call? (The you and your are used figuratively of course) Personally, if I am having someone help me with spiritual work I find it preferable for the person to be immersed in spiritual work. Do you really want someone getting beat up at the checkout line of Walmart all day, then coming home to help you fix a ritual or write a spell? No thank you! lol

    2. Energy EXCHANGE is an important issue that many people forget, especially in the beginning it seems. Wanting someone to give of themselves for nothing is not going to earn you gleaming karma. A give and receive (rather than take which has negative connotations) is necessary for healthy energy and healthy relationships. Although the “give” will not always involve money, it sometimes will. And if you are just starting out you will probably find that it often will because you will likely be in a situation to need more help, guidance, etc than someone who is more established. Expecting something for nothing is not very spiritual, so when supposedly spiritual people do this it bothers me greatly as I find it to be very counter-intuitive and hypocritical. Plus I feel it can amount to a bit of spiritual debt as part of you recognizes that it isn’t right and that part of you seeks to find balance.

    But what if you can’t afford it? Well, that mind set is probably part of your problem, maybe it is time to brush up on your “law of attraction” knowledge.

    3. It is a misconception that it isn’t the norm to pay for spiritual services. Mainstream clergy often have salaries, and have “required donations” (aka “fees”) for things such as weddings and funerals. “But if it is a calling, and you really want to help people, why would you charge??” Go ask your doctor that and see how far you get. Wanting to help people doesn’t make you a doormat or a slave.

    I could go on, I’m passionate about this subject, but I guess that makes a good enough point lol

    • kenneth

      I don’t have an aversion to a place for money in the pagan world. I have no problem paying people, and paying well, for things like a professional Tarot read or counseling or a handfasting etc.

      I do have a problem with the idea of full-time salaried clergy. Not because they wouldn’t deserve to be paid, but because I have no need for them in the first place. In my tradition, and a great many others as far as I can see, there is no laity, so there is no need for a separate caste of clergy.

       It may happen that the lead ritual roles are taken more often by those who are more gifted or experienced. I fill that role as priest in our own group, and it does take a certain amount of work, but it’s not that burdensome. It’s a handful of hours a month, it’s my service to my gods and coven mates, and it’s integral to my own spiritual development.

       If I had a big congregation like Catholics or protestants and had to minister to a few hundred families and run numerous services a week, then maybe the salaries and housing allowances and doctorate of divinity degrees would make some sense. We don’t have that level of infrastructure and most of us don’t want it. We do our best work with ourselves and our gods in small family-like groups and with all of the natural world as our cathedral, we don’t need a temple building to suck up funds, sit empty most of the time and become the focal point of political squabbles.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        There is more to being clergy than leading rituals.

        My partner and I don’t just lead rituals for a group that averages 20 – 30 per gathering, we also perform various rites of life passage — wiccanings, youth rites of passage, adult affirmations of path, handfastings, requiems – prison ministry, hospital and hospice ministry, coordinate charitable contributions from our worship group to our broader community, sit on a climate and Earth care committee with a local interfaith council, provide counseling services, teach individually and in workshops, perform divinations, read omens, and interpret dreams, perform cleansings and blessings and so on.

        Perhaps you don’t need this level of service, but everything I listed above that goes beyond simply leading public rituals are things which our local community have specifically asked us for, so I can assure you, there are Pagans who *do* want this.

        • kenneth

          If there are people who want a separate caste of professional, bully for them. They can join congregations and pay for it.

          • Robert

            The point is you claimed that “most of us don’t want it”.  My experience says otherwise, and that many Pagans -do- in fact want the services that more mainstream faiths expect. 

      • Robert

        Serving a community as Clergy is a lot more than leading ritual.  Clergy comfort the dying, and grieve with those left behind.  They celebrate births and help couples to join their lives together before the Gods they worship.  They work with other faith groups to build tolerance and understanding.  They serve in prisons and in hospitals.  They take the lead on charity work, and encourage others to join them.   They build lending libraries and/or bookstores, host and teach classes, offer counseling and support.  Clergy encourage others to grow in their faith, and help with that growth as much as they are able.  The celebrations and worship are only a part of the Work. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PP56JE3QUO7DUQBGBU24JSKD6I Anyanka

    There seems to be a tendency within the pagan community to believe that one should not receive monetary compensation because their work is “spiritual.” I’ve actually had people tell me that they if someone charges for anything spiritual related that proves they are a fraud. This came up most recently in regards to the tarot reader in Alexandria LA who was cited by the local government for the crime of “fortune telling.” I have a couple major problems with this mindset. I’ve seen this most frequently applied to services such as psychic readings, spiritual healing, energy work and spell casting, but I’ve also seen it applied to clergy, media, and even authors.

    1. Unless the person is independently wealthy, how do you expect them to have the time to serve your spiritual needs? They may genuinely WISH they had the time and money to serve their community gratis, but most people have to earn a living. Do you really expect them to have a job somewhere, work all day, take care of themselves, their family, and other responsibilities, then still have time to be at your beck and call? (The you and your are used figuratively of course) Personally, if I am having someone help me with spiritual work I find it preferable for the person to be immersed in spiritual work. Do you really want someone getting beat up at the checkout line of Walmart all day, then coming home to help you fix a ritual or write a spell? No thank you! lol

    2. Energy EXCHANGE is an important issue that many people forget, especially in the beginning it seems. Wanting someone to give of themselves for nothing is not going to earn you gleaming karma. A give and receive (rather than take which has negative connotations) is necessary for healthy energy and healthy relationships. Although the “give” will not always involve money, it sometimes will. And if you are just starting out you will probably find that it often will because you will likely be in a situation to need more help, guidance, etc than someone who is more established. Expecting something for nothing is not very spiritual, so when supposedly spiritual people do this it bothers me greatly as I find it to be very counter-intuitive and hypocritical. Plus I feel it can amount to a bit of spiritual debt as part of you recognizes that it isn’t right and that part of you seeks to find balance.

    But what if you can’t afford it? Well, that mind set is probably part of your problem, maybe it is time to brush up on your “law of attraction” knowledge.

    3. It is a misconception that it isn’t the norm to pay for spiritual services. Mainstream clergy often have salaries, and have “required donations” (aka “fees”) for things such as weddings and funerals. “But if it is a calling, and you really want to help people, why would you charge??” Go ask your doctor that and see how far you get. Wanting to help people doesn’t make you a doormat or a slave.

    I could go on, I’m passionate about this subject, but I guess that makes a good enough point lol

    • kenneth

      I don’t have an aversion to a place for money in the pagan world. I have no problem paying people, and paying well, for things like a professional Tarot read or counseling or a handfasting etc.

      I do have a problem with the idea of full-time salaried clergy. Not because they wouldn’t deserve to be paid, but because I have no need for them in the first place. In my tradition, and a great many others as far as I can see, there is no laity, so there is no need for a separate caste of clergy.

       It may happen that the lead ritual roles are taken more often by those who are more gifted or experienced. I fill that role as priest in our own group, and it does take a certain amount of work, but it’s not that burdensome. It’s a handful of hours a month, it’s my service to my gods and coven mates, and it’s integral to my own spiritual development.

       If I had a big congregation like Catholics or protestants and had to minister to a few hundred families and run numerous services a week, then maybe the salaries and housing allowances and doctorate of divinity degrees would make some sense. We don’t have that level of infrastructure and most of us don’t want it. We do our best work with ourselves and our gods in small family-like groups and with all of the natural world as our cathedral, we don’t need a temple building to suck up funds, sit empty most of the time and become the focal point of political squabbles.

      • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

        There is more to being clergy than leading rituals.

        My partner and I don’t just lead rituals for a group that averages 20 – 30 per gathering, we also perform various rites of life passage — wiccanings, youth rites of passage, adult affirmations of path, handfastings, requiems – prison ministry, hospital and hospice ministry, coordinate charitable contributions from our worship group to our broader community, sit on a climate and Earth care committee with a local interfaith council, provide counseling services, teach individually and in workshops, perform divinations, read omens, and interpret dreams, perform cleansings and blessings and so on.

        Perhaps you don’t need this level of service, but everything I listed above that goes beyond simply leading public rituals are things which our local community have specifically asked us for, so I can assure you, there are Pagans who *do* want this.

        • kenneth

          If there are people who want a separate caste of professional, bully for them. They can join congregations and pay for it.

          • Robert

            The point is you claimed that “most of us don’t want it”.  My experience says otherwise, and that many Pagans -do- in fact want the services that more mainstream faiths expect. 

      • Robert

        Serving a community as Clergy is a lot more than leading ritual.  Clergy comfort the dying, and grieve with those left behind.  They celebrate births and help couples to join their lives together before the Gods they worship.  They work with other faith groups to build tolerance and understanding.  They serve in prisons and in hospitals.  They take the lead on charity work, and encourage others to join them.   They build lending libraries and/or bookstores, host and teach classes, offer counseling and support.  Clergy encourage others to grow in their faith, and help with that growth as much as they are able.  The celebrations and worship are only a part of the Work. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PP56JE3QUO7DUQBGBU24JSKD6I Anyanka

    There seems to be a tendency within the pagan community to believe that one should not receive monetary compensation because their work is “spiritual.” I’ve actually had people tell me that they if someone charges for anything spiritual related that proves they are a fraud. This came up most recently in regards to the tarot reader in Alexandria LA who was cited by the local government for the crime of “fortune telling.” I have a couple major problems with this mindset. I’ve seen this most frequently applied to services such as psychic readings, spiritual healing, energy work and spell casting, but I’ve also seen it applied to clergy, media, and even authors.

    1. Unless the person is independently wealthy, how do you expect them to have the time to serve your spiritual needs? They may genuinely WISH they had the time and money to serve their community gratis, but most people have to earn a living. Do you really expect them to have a job somewhere, work all day, take care of themselves, their family, and other responsibilities, then still have time to be at your beck and call? (The you and your are used figuratively of course) Personally, if I am having someone help me with spiritual work I find it preferable for the person to be immersed in spiritual work. Do you really want someone getting beat up at the checkout line of Walmart all day, then coming home to help you fix a ritual or write a spell? No thank you! lol

    2. Energy EXCHANGE is an important issue that many people forget, especially in the beginning it seems. Wanting someone to give of themselves for nothing is not going to earn you gleaming karma. A give and receive (rather than take which has negative connotations) is necessary for healthy energy and healthy relationships. Although the “give” will not always involve money, it sometimes will. And if you are just starting out you will probably find that it often will because you will likely be in a situation to need more help, guidance, etc than someone who is more established. Expecting something for nothing is not very spiritual, so when supposedly spiritual people do this it bothers me greatly as I find it to be very counter-intuitive and hypocritical. Plus I feel it can amount to a bit of spiritual debt as part of you recognizes that it isn’t right and that part of you seeks to find balance.

    But what if you can’t afford it? Well, that mind set is probably part of your problem, maybe it is time to brush up on your “law of attraction” knowledge.

    3. It is a misconception that it isn’t the norm to pay for spiritual services. Mainstream clergy often have salaries, and have “required donations” (aka “fees”) for things such as weddings and funerals. “But if it is a calling, and you really want to help people, why would you charge??” Go ask your doctor that and see how far you get. Wanting to help people doesn’t make you a doormat or a slave.

    I could go on, I’m passionate about this subject, but I guess that makes a good enough point lol

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B5XXW7I3CX2XBENLALMIWYS2XI David

    This is my opinion and mine alone.  I believe the only pagan at this time that can bring us into the mainstream is Serena Fox.  Serena is knowledgeable, personable and tireless.

    Witch School and the Correllian tradition are making great strides into the mainstream.  The efforts of Ed Hubbard and Don Lewis are beginning to pay dividends.  Witch School is growing and Ed Hubbard’s “Pagan’s Tonight” is better every day.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      … I’m assuming you mean Selena Fox, of Circle Sanctuary?  >.>

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B5XXW7I3CX2XBENLALMIWYS2XI David

    This is my opinion and mine alone.  I believe the only pagan at this time that can bring us into the mainstream is Serena Fox.  Serena is knowledgeable, personable and tireless.

    Witch School and the Correllian tradition are making great strides into the mainstream.  The efforts of Ed Hubbard and Don Lewis are beginning to pay dividends.  Witch School is growing and Ed Hubbard’s “Pagan’s Tonight” is better every day.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      … I’m assuming you mean Selena Fox, of Circle Sanctuary?  >.>

  • Roger

    I’m not sure about seminaries and stuff, but if all pagans could write as powerfully and beautifully as Star does, we would have no problem gaining wide acceptance.

  • Roger

    I’m not sure about seminaries and stuff, but if all pagans could write as powerfully and beautifully as Star does, we would have no problem gaining wide acceptance.

  • http://forestdoor.wordpress.com/ Dver

    “You can be a teetotaling conservative who dresses modestly, advocates celibacy until hetero-marriage and eats off Styrofoam plates and still be Pagan if you seek a relationship with the Gods, ancestors and/or land spirits.”

    I’m going to be nit-picky here simply because I think this is an example of exactly how I see people having a disconnect between paganism in name alone and paganism in practice. One who was actually in a relationship with land spirits would NOT still be using styrofoam plates. They can call themselves pagan if they like, but they are not really *engaged* with it at that level (you can be “married” in name too, but if you beat your spouse, you can’t really claim you love them). 

    We shouldn’t be concerned about issues like these just because we want to thwart the mainstream, nor set them aside in order to become mainstream. Both of those approaches puts the emphasis on belonging, or not belonging, to the culture. Instead, we should make actively living in alignment with the gods and spirits our first priority, regardless of how that is perceived, and if that leads to a break with the mainstream, then we should be solid enough in our convictions to be okay with that.

  • http://forestdoor.wordpress.com/ Dver

    “You can be a teetotaling conservative who dresses modestly, advocates celibacy until hetero-marriage and eats off Styrofoam plates and still be Pagan if you seek a relationship with the Gods, ancestors and/or land spirits.”

    I’m going to be nit-picky here simply because I think this is an example of exactly how I see people having a disconnect between paganism in name alone and paganism in practice. One who was actually in a relationship with land spirits would NOT still be using styrofoam plates. They can call themselves pagan if they like, but they are not really *engaged* with it at that level (you can be “married” in name too, but if you beat your spouse, you can’t really claim you love them). 

    We shouldn’t be concerned about issues like these just because we want to thwart the mainstream, nor set them aside in order to become mainstream. Both of those approaches puts the emphasis on belonging, or not belonging, to the culture. Instead, we should make actively living in alignment with the gods and spirits our first priority, regardless of how that is perceived, and if that leads to a break with the mainstream, then we should be solid enough in our convictions to be okay with that.


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