As I have navigated almost forty years of involvement in Pagan communities, I have come to believe that there are six things the average Pagan wants to accomplish. Let’s be realistic and say that of the six, most crave at least three. I have been blessed to cross most of those goals off my list. Of the six main goals, I have accomplished five and a half, so I thought it might be fun to talk about those things and whether they live up to the hype.
As an aside, our intrepid channel master, Jason, asked us to write Spring Equinox posts, but after writing around thirty-seven books and a million and six blog posts in my life, if I have to write one more sabbat column, I will likely hang myself in the oven, so you get the SIX GOALS ALL PAGANS WANT TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE THEY DIE.
(In no particular order)
#1 – I want to host a large Pagan Festival
When people go to a huge event, whether it is a convention or a festival or a camping jamboree, their minds begin spinning with all of the ways they could do it better. Of all of the six, this one is likely the hardest to accomplish and is one of the first dreams to die around the campfire, on par with #6.
I began working with Sacramento Pagan Pride in 1999, then the Sacramento Celtic Faerie Festival, and next, several of us who worked on those two festivals created the PanGaia Festival that happens each year in Fair Oaks, California. We also hosted the Sacramento Witches’ Ball for several years until we realized we were too damned old to host two major festivals in one year. On May 30-31, we will have our sixth PanGaia Festival and I am the director of that festival.
I do not believe that anyone who has never hosted a major festival has any clue what is involved in doing so and most people believe that making their own personal event wishes come true should be simple for us. Believe me, guests are very comfortable sharing their fix-it list with me in the middle of the festival when I have nine or ten plates spinning in the air at once, praying that only one or two hits the ground and shatters.
When a person gives me their complaints about the event, I am listening, but I am also thinking about the person who is terrified because a guest’s kid brought a latex balloon into the event without us seeing it, about the comfort dog that snapped someone and scared them, about the printer who lost our program, about the person who is furious that our food vendors have no gluten-free options, and about the volunteer coordinator who woke up with a migraine that morning and is barely functioning.
I am thinking about the vendor who brought CBD products to sell when our venue forbids it and our vending contract expresses that clearly. I am thinking about the entertainer who is angry that there are no red M&Ms in the green room…and also that there is no green room. I am thinking about the venue managers forgetting to turn off the sprinklers and the subsequent douching of vendor inventory that occurred the night before. I am thinking about the 30% chance of rain predicted for the outdoor event. Plus I am thinking about the furrowed brow of the person in front of me who is telling me with some urgency what all we need to change.
I completely enjoy working with my team of coordinators and I am happy with the growth of the festival, but let me tell you, hosting a major event is not for the faint of heart. You have to have mad organization skills, exemplary people skills (my biggest downfall), have a thick skin (my second biggest downfall), and must solve problems on the fly. At least one person on the team must have a flawless working knowledge of local health codes and ordinances. Seriously, everything has to be dialed not only during the event but over the many months of planning that happen before the event. This is huge work, minimal reward, and you truly have to love the community and the people who assist you. It is nowhere near as easy as it looks. If it looks easy, it’s because of the hard work of many people over many months.
3 stars out 5 and that is only if you love doing it AFTER you do it. Trust me, you have no clue if you love doing it until after it is done.
#2 – I want to write a book
One of the best parts of Paganism is that everyone has something to say about Paganism. I love that so many people have thoughts to share and there has never been a better time to get those thoughts into a book, whether you self-publish or go with a publishing house like Llewellyn Worldwide or Red Wheel-Weiser. You can publish a book with literally no financial outlay on your part.
Dorothy Parker famously said, “Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat.” It isn’t about outlines or syntax as much as it is about sitting down and writing. Stephen King says to “write hot and edit cold.” This means you write in a stream-of-consciousness style without editing, step away from the manuscript for a few days, then go back to it and start editing. Don’t get caught up in the details until the book is completely finished. Overwrite rather than underwrite, but write the book. If you have a message, don’t die with it unsaid.
I have self-published for many years and also just had my third book contracted by Llewellyn. There are benefits to each way of publishing. If you self-publish, it happens much faster and you set your own deadlines. It is not as difficult to do as you might imagine. If you use a publisher, you have an experienced team to make the book the best it can be and the publisher has a broader reach than you will get through self-publishing.
I had a book in me for more than twenty years. How did I finally do it? I contacted a local festival that was happening in five months and applied to do a book presentation and signing for my book… which did not exist… I had not written a letter of it. By the time the festival came around, I had written and published three books. The next year, I wrote thirteen books.
Write the book.
3 out of 5 stars because it is harrrrd and exhausting but feels amazing when you hold your own book in your hands
#3 – I want to go to [insert destination that is the motherland here]
Usually, this is somewhere like England, Ireland, Scotland, Egypt, Greece, Italy, or wherever your ancestry calls you to go. For me, this was England. I spent three years there in the 1980s and have desperately wanted to go back all these years later knowing what I know. For our twentieth wedding anniversary, my husband arranged for us to go to England and we drove from top to bottom. It was ten joyful days and my spirit melted with happiness. I can’t wait to go back. If your soul calls you to go somewhere, move heaven and earth to get there. There is a reason why that beacon is lit.
I would give it 6 out of 5 if I could.., which I can… because this is my blog post
#4 – I want to own a metaphysical store
Yes… yes, you do… provided you don’t mind never going anywhere or having days off or things like that. We opened Crossroads on March 29, 2019 and there are few places I love to be more than in our shop. We have the best people come through our doors and we could not be more blessed. It is just over 2000 square feet of magic and happiness. We have healers, classes, readers, rituals, and we hand-make our own magical products in-house.
Before Crossroads, we ran a little store called Two Sisters Botanica in Roseville, California. Before that, it was called the Botanica de La Reina. Here it is:
It was sweet in its own way, but we were limited in what we could do and it was two hours’ drive one way for us and after three years of running the shop, we had to admit that we needed new digs.
Spending the entire day immersed in magic is the ultimate fulfillment, just as you might imagine it would be. It takes a good bit of time and effort for any retail concern that does not involve drugs, sex workers, or guns to become lucrative enough to support itself and (jumping to goal #5) the people who run it. In the beginning, you have to be willing to live in a shoestring and make sacrifices, have an investor, or have a comfy nest egg to sustain you.
This is one of the six goals that definitely lives up to the hype provided you are willing to do the work and dedicate yourself to all that is involved and wow, yes, polish up those people skills.
Obligatory pitch: To learn more about Crossroads Metaphysical Store, go to www.crossroadsoccult.com.
5 out of 5, provided if you are cut out for it
#5 – I want to support myself through magic
This one is tricky because it usually requires #4, but lots of people have #4 and never make it to #5. I am blessed that I was able to do so and my shop and the work I do for people there is now my day job and also frequently my night job and my side hustle. It is truly the essence of “if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life,” but you will often work every day of your life. Helping others through healing and spellwork is truly a dream come true. It is, however, draining and exhausting on all levels even with the best shielding and grounding. You also put yourself in the line of fire for a great deal of envy, competitiveness, and negativity that comes to higher-profile Pagans. Overall, I believe it is the best job a Witch like me could have and I love it. Use brick dust.
4 out of 5 stars because admittedly, it is not for everyone and you don’t find out if it is truly for you until you succeed or fail at it.
#6 – I am going to get a BIG piece of property and start a self-sustaining Pagan commune with all my friends
At the start of this post, I mentioned I had accomplished 5 1/2 of the 6 things on the list and this is the half. I have never started a Pagan commune. I have never wanted to start a Pagan commune because I have never known that many people I wanted to live around for an extended time. I am sure it works for some people who are not hermits at heart like I am or who get along with everyone as I don’t, but it was never an ambition of mine.
I do, however, have six kids, all of which sprang forth from mine own womb – none borrowed – and yes, there were a few years where all of them still lived at home. Now, the clan has added two grandsons (15- and 16-years-old as of this writing) and three (very) Significant Others who I adore. I would be perfectly happy to live with all of them “on a big piece of land” provided it also had individual houses and a buffer between them. Without that branch off the family tree, I don’t think I could swing it, so I will have to leave it to others to fully fulfill that dream.
Rating (admittedly, theoretical):
3 out of 5 if you have the right people and the right mindset, which I think is a huge challenge for most folks
I have lived an amazing life and I could say I was blessed or lucky and I sometimes was, but a good bit of the time, accomplishing these goals happened from determination and hard work. There is nothing particularly special or magically remarkable about our life. We had some very hard times where it seemed like nothing would ever work for us. We have been together for twenty-three years and you can’t help but run a spectrum of challenges and successes in that length of time. We aren’t rich. We are just stubborn. Mostly, we decided what we wanted and went for it.
You can too. The magic is to refuse to accept anything less and just keep pushing.