I care deeply about the Pagan Community, and that means all of the Pagan Community. I care about the people who make up our community, and I care about the shops and readers that serve the Pagan Community and the festivals and gatherings where we grow Pagan Community. I care about the people who make us feel a little less alone through articles on websites like this one, and who create podcasts in their living spaces.
We are living in unprecedented times. There have been scary viruses before, but never before have we seen entire countries shut down over one. Despite the braying by the less informed this is a serious virus that has potential to kill over a million people in the United States alone. Bars, restaurants, and retail establishments are all closing, either voluntary or by government order, and the result is an economy in freefall, with businesses and employees suffering.
This is a scary moment in history, but there are things you can do to help the Pagan Community weather this storm. The first is to follow all of the recommendations set forth by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), and practice social distancing, avoid large social gatherings, and wash your hands like your life depends on it because it very well might. But because we want our community to come out whole and intact on the other side of this, here are some additional things you can do to support the greater Pagan Community.
HELP YOUR LOCAL WITCH OR METAPHYSICAL STORE OR BOOK A READING
I can’t emphasize this one enough. Witch stores aren’t just where many of us buy our supplies, they also provide safe-spaces for community gatherings or events. My first introduction to greater Pagandom was through my local Witch-shop, and that’s a debt I’ll never be able to repay. I know I’ve read articles erroneously suggesting that most Witch-shops make tons of money, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yeah, there are some stores that do very well, but most serve small communities, and are going to have serious trouble surviving a one or two month shut down. But that’s where we come in.
This is a great time to buy something online from your local Witch-shop, or buy a gift card, that infusion of cash just might hope your favorite shop stay open. A lot of stores will let you buy a gift card over the phone, especially if they don’t have an online presence! Many stores offer classes online (especially now since flesh and blood classes are a poor idea), sign up for one! Alternatively you could sign up a friend for a class as a gift! However you do it, put some cash into your local shop.
A lot of stores offer Tarot readings and cast astrological charts, while such things are often better in person, they can be done over the phone or online. A lot of readers rely on their services to pay the rent and put groceries in their kitchens. You can help them by booking a reading, or paying for a reading or two in advance down the road. If you don’t patronize such services through a local store talk to your local reader if you use one! They’ll need the help too.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FESTIVALS & GATHERINGS
We’ve seen two big conferences, Paganicon in Minneapolis and Sacred Space and Between the Worlds in Maryland, already postpone their events; Paganicon will now happen in September and Sacred Space in April of next year. Over the next few weeks there will be even more cancellations. Like our Witch-shops, events generally have small margins, and a cancellation could absolutely cripple or cancel an event for years to come. (Most events have insurance, but how many have insurance for a pandemic?)
You can support events in your area by signing up in advance and pre-registering. Many of these events rely on “at the door” sign-ups, inject some stability into their operating budget by purchasing admission in advance. Can’t afford to go to an event? That’s OK too, you can support the event by simply sharing information about it online.
ARTISANS NEED YOUR HELP TOO!
I have a lot of friends who rely on Pagan Festivals and community art fairs for much of their income. Having events cancelled is absolutely devastating to their bottom line and their ability to pay the bills. Luckily many of these artists have online store fronts, and many of them are offering all kinds of specials and limited time offerings in order to have at least some money rolling in. Is their an artist whose work you love? Check in on them and see what you can do to support them!
The lack of festivals and events hurts the bottom line of authors and publishers too. This is a great time to buy that book you’ve been eyeing if you’ve got the resources available. Not only do I not want my artist friends to worry about their house or apartment, that worry extends to my friends at publishers like Llewellyn and Samuel Weiser. A significant downtown in sales could hurt those people too.DO YOUR MAGICKAL WORK
Creating Witch Bottles and lighting candles is not going to suddenly stop the coronavirus dead in its track. No matter how many libations I pour to Dionysus over the coming weeks, he’s not going to magickally swoop in and provide us all with some sort of wine that prevents the disease. However, our magickal work has value even if it’s not a cure all.
Your magickal work makes you a stronger person, don’t forget that. Our magick gives us energy which boosts our immune systems and makes us better prepared to fight a potential infection. Magick keeps us aware of the real world, because we don’t just put magick out into the world and then not follow up on it. And the extra energy you have might really help a friend or coven-mate in need.
While I don’t think Aphrodite and Dionysus can (or will) deploy some sort of virus shield to keep my home safe, continued libations and interactions with them will make my home a better place. They are going to lend their energies to keep things smooth and harmonious while my wife and wait this out (per the instructions of the CDC) and live on top of one another more than usual for a few weeks. I need the energy they share with us to weather the storm.
I also need a little bit of normalcy right now. For me that will include doing something for Ostara. I’ve celebrated sabbats alone before, and I can do that again. We all need a bit of balance right now, what better time to find it than on the Spring Equinox?
CHECK IN ON YOUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS, AND FAMILY
A phone-call can go a long way right now. Check in on those you care about. Reach out to your neighbors too see if they need a helping hand. We are all in this together even if we have to keep six feet between ourselves and those we care about.
A lot of people feel very isolated right now, luckily for us there are more ways than even to bridge the divide between us and those we care about. Put together an online hangout with your favorite magickal people! They’ll be happy to see your face and hear your voice! Craving public ritual? There are reasons lot of groups do ritual together online, because it works for them! If you need a little Ostara pick me up, look for an online ritual. (Anyone want to join me for an online Ostara this Friday?)
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TIME AWAY FROM OTHER THINGS
I do not like being stuck inside and isolated from my friends. However, you can put this time to good use if you choose to! Read that book that’s been sitting on your shelf since December (and maybe write an online review?)! Maybe read some old blogs posts from your favorite Pagan bloggers? If you’ve got the time, it’s certainly not going to hurt anybody!
This is also a great time to listen to a new podcast or maybe explore Youtube and find some Witch videos worth watching. There’s a lot that can’t be done right now, but you can explore new avenues during this time and maybe find a new favorite thing.
DON’T SPREAD MISINFORMATION AND BE NICE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Stress weakens the immune system, arguing with your “friends” online causes stress, so try to go easy on people over the next couple of months. Avoid arguments, and don’t let conversations get too heated. This sounds so silly and trivial, but little changes can make a big difference.
Oh, and don’t spread misinformation! I know that meme about gargling lemon water sounds like a great way to prevent Covid-19, but is it really? Fact check what you post online to avoid the spreading of misinformation. You may very well save someone’s life by doing so. Memes are not news and they are not reliable, Google is your friend, use it.
And when you see someone spreading misinformation you have two choices: alert them in the best and nicest way possible, or unfollow them. Telling someone they are stupid for being misinformed doesn’t do anyone any favors, but sharing factual information just might. And if Aunt Mildred only watches Faux News and you’ve been unable to reason with her over the last ten years, don’t expect that to suddenly change. Sometimes it’s best to know when to quit.
SELF-CARE IS A MUST
Taking care of you is important, don’t let anyone tell you any different. You will find yourself needing to unplug and decompress during this crisis, and that’s OK. Do things for yourself now and again. Do the little things: get enough sleep, eat well, avoid stress, etc., but don’t feel bad about indulging in a Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Marathon or whatever it is you need to keep your sanity and escape now and again.
You are a part of the Pagan Community too, and I want you to be here with the rest of us when we come out the other side of this.