It’s time once again for the awards show no one asked for, The Hornie Awards! The Hornies are a (mostly) annual tradition saluting the best and sometimes worst in the Pagan and Magickal Communities. The awards are chosen by me, along with my cats Evie and Summer. If you don’t like one of our choices, chances are it’s the fault of the cats.
This year’s Hornies are different from past iterations. Usually there are awards for things like best Witch-store along with a wide range of trophies for festivals depending on size and location. But since I couldn’t go to any stores this year, or very many festivals, those awards don’t exist in their usual form. Hopefully 2021 will see the return of many of my favorite categories. With that out of the way, on with the Hornies.
Unsung Witchcraft Superhero Award: Sabina Magliocco
Few things make me giddier than opening up an academic book and seeing the name Sabina Magliocco in the table of contents. Magliocco is an overlooked treasure for those of us who value (and devour) Pagan-related materials from the academy. I first became acquainted with Magliocco’s work when I picked up the tremendous Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America way back in 2004. I became a super-fan when I read her work on the origins of Aradia in 2009’s Ten Years of Triumph of the Moon, a most excellent collection of writings from a broad range of scholars.
As I’ve dipped my toes into the world of Palgrave Macmillan collections I’ve been exposed to even more of Magliocco’s work. Her work documenting people’s experiences with the fey in Reconnecting to Everything: Fairies in Contemporary Paganism (in the volume Fairies, Demons, and Nature Spirits) was my favorite piece of academic writing in 2019. Don’t let the word academic scare you away either, Magliocco’s prose is always sharp and lucid, in other words it’s fabulously readable. If you are interested in Pagan culture, Aradia, or fairies, I hope you’ll seek out her work.
I don’t see Magliocco’s name come up nearly enough in conversation, which is why she’s the winner of this award. Thank you Dr. Magliocco for your tremendous work, it’s appreciated and valued!
Marion Blonde Community Service Award: Meg Rosenbriar
I am a luddite when it comes to new forms of social media. I’m pretty adept at Facebook, but out of my element on Instagram and Twitter, and don’t even get me started on TikToks. So when Astrea Taylor introduced me to Meg Rosenbriar founder of the Witch With Me Community on Instagram (and also Facebook, and other places) I was a bit dubious. “An Instagram person?” I though. I then found out that Rosenbriar is also a fan of the New England Patriots, which raised even more red-flags. But Rosenbriar is awesome, and an example of what we can be and achieve in the world of online Witchcraft.
Why am I singing the praises of Meg and Witch With Me? Because it’s the kind of supportive and nurturing space that we need more of in our community. When I think of my own interactions in groups on Facebook most of them stopped being fun years ago, and supporting? Most groups seem to revel in talking shit about others and tearing people down. I’m not the target audience of something like Witch With Me, but I like it anyways because it’s not a judgmental space, and I find the energy of newcomers to the Craft infectious. I became jaded years ago, I miss seeing the Witchcraft world with ruby-tinted glasses.
Rosenbriar was also one of the architects behind that big Witchcraft survey that went out over the Summer. I remember many people thinking it was simply a marketing excercise, but it wasn’t. It was an honest attempt to shed a little more light on what Witches today are doing. Thinking of everything Rosenbriar has built this year makes me tired, I wish I had that kind of energy. And then there was also her book, and the online event Gather the Witches. I’m not worthy.
(Marion Blonde was a High Priestess active in Northern California who served for nearly three decades as the treasurer of our local, eclectic, open circle. In other words, Lady Marion was one of those hardworking types necessary to maintain Pagan community that most people have never heard of. I’m here to change that because Marion deserves a slice of internet immortality, and most importantly we need more Marions in Pagandom.)
QUICK HITS: AWARDS HANDED OUT AT AN EARLIER CEREMONY
The Excellence in Podcasting Award goes to Down at the Crossroads with Chris Orapello & Tara-Love Maguire. Great guests, even better hosts, high production values, and stimulating conversation, this was an easy win for Maguire and Orapello.
Every year in these awards I choose a Bromance of the Year, but with the lack of in-person gatherings this year I didn’t get my usual amount of bromance time in. So this year the winner is this version of the god Pan made in my likeness by Amie Flather at Open Chest Studio. Does this feel a little like I’m having a bromance with myself? Yeah, but I’ve been doing that since I was 12. Anyways, this is the most awesome thing anyone has ever given and made for me. I love it. There are very few perks that come with being a Pagan author, this was the best one ever.
Most of my time on Twitter is spent venting about politics, but I scroll daily through Witch Twitter and I’ve really come to enjoy that community. I think Twitter proficiency is something to be celebrated which is why this year I’m offering the Outstanding Achievement in Tweets award to Gabriela Herstik. I like her selfies, I like her random thoughts. I like that her Twitter is a positive and empowering place, and many of us really need that right now.
Product of the Year: Luna Ignis Pagan Incense
We don’t burn much incense in our house. My wife is allergic to most of it, which means it only shows up during ritual with the covens (remember those!?!) and when I burn it by my lonesome in my office. On a whim during the pandemic this Summer I thought I’d pick up some new incense in a desperate bid to ignite my lost creativity. I ended up getting three jars of Luna Ignis Pagan Incense, and it’s the best incense I’ve ever used.
Crafted in store by the owners of Michigan’s Artes and Craft store, this is incense made by Witches for Witches and other magickal folks. It also comes in a wide variety of scents, basically there’s something for every season, and many of our more popular deities. Sometimes I just sniff the jars I love this stuff so much. I’m not making any money by promoting this incense, it’s just that rad. (However Paul, feel free to send me a free bottle or two!)
Book of the Year: Psychic Witch by Mat Auryn
Over 2000 reviews on Amazon. Already on its tenth printing. Impossible to escape on Instagram. Mat Auryn’s Psychic Witch is more than a book it’s a phenomenon. Pscychic Witch is the kind of book that will be showing up on lists of “Must Read Witchcraft Books” for the next 100 years. This book is a legitimate best-seller, not just by the standards of Witch-books, but by the standards of traditional book publishing.
Making it even better is that Mat Auryn is simply wonderful. I’m biased because he’s my friend and I love him, but he really is the nice guy he appears to be online and at events. And this is the book that started it all for him. It’s Mat’s world right now, I’m lucky enough to be adjacent to it. His success is well deserved.
Festival of the Year: Hexfest (online)
And that brings me to our final entry, festival of the year, which is going to get me in trouble with some people who don’t like the organizers. Before you stop reading, hear me out, because there are some really important points I want to make here.
For speaking online at Hexfest this year I was paid 900 dollars. That’s the amount of money it generally costs the organizers to fly me to their event and put me up in a hotel room for three nights, which is what they do in normal years. There are lots of festivals that have covered my airfare and lodging, but no other festival in North America that I’m aware of covers hotel and travel costs for EVERY PRESENTER at the event.
By way of contrast, I attended the last ever PantheaCon in February of this year. As a presenter there I spent 1000 dollars on my hotel room, registration, and food. I’m not complaining about that, I chose to go. But think about that cost, and just how unaffordable that is to a lot of people.
Many of us in the Pagan Community lament the lack of diversity at many of our events, and there are a lot of reasons for that lack of diversity, but the barrier to entry has to be a major one. How many people can afford to spend money to work? Not only do many festivals and events require presenters to pay to get in (as was the case with PantheaCon), while they are at events they are taking time off from work, and perhaps have to pay for childcare, not to mention travel costs and lodging.
That I can go to festivals is a matter of privilege, and it’s something I’m very cognizant about. There are a lot of people who would be terrific at festivals, but can’t afford to go to events even with travel and lodging paid for. Even just writing a book is often a matter of privilege. There’s no money in writing Pagan books, and the time it takes to write one keeps you away from actual paying work, not to mention family, friends, and lots of other things.
If you want a more diverse list of presenters at Pagan events it’s going to cost money. It will require festivals to charge more so they can cover all or most of the expenses of presenters. In an even better word, small payouts might become a thing to make up for the loss of income travel requires. (Yeah, some of us sell books, it’s not as much as many people think.)
And Hexfest year in and year out has the most diverse roster of presenters in the Magickal Community. That has to be related to what they are offering presenters for working over a weekend. This year when they couldn’t do that, they sent the presenters money which probably really helped a lot of people considering those who rely on readings or vending at festivals were pretty much shit out of luck for much of the year.
The downside to valuing presenters is that the price tag for the festival goes up. Hexfest runs 350 dollars, and considering the limited attendance and number of presenters, the organizers aren’t making any money. I also realize that kind of cost keeps a lot of people from being able to attend, and there’s value in festivals that have a low price point. But I have to think we are only going to get the diversity so many of desire and our community needs, if people are compensated for their work.
So Hexfest wins my festival of the year for showing us there’s a different way of doing things. Hopefully in 2021 we return to at least a few of the old ways we do things. I miss all of you!