Good Pagan Information is Hard to Come By

Good Pagan Information is Hard to Come By November 9, 2020

Do you know what’s missing in beginners’ experiences in occult practices and traditions? Learning how to sift out the golden nuggets of information from the crap nuggets. And there’s a lot of crap nugget-y information out there. Piles upon piles of it. Crap books, crap websites, crap teachers, and crap authors.  We’ve all stepped in piles of crap information, only to have it track on the bottom of our shoes for moons to come until one of our friends tells us they smell something gross. We’re then forced to come face to face with the embarrassing realization that it’s been trailing us since the beginning of our metaphorical walk into pagandom. Hello, I’m a new friend who’s telling you that you have poop on your shoes. I, too, have stepped in poo.

Blue muddy shoe.
That’s going to require more than a stick and a leaf. Image via Pixabay

A big component of my job as a professional, academic librarian is to teach others how to sift through steaming piles of information garbage. The point is to assist others in finding those one or two gleaming sources that are actually worth reading and considering. Most of that garbage is found online, of course, but there are plenty of trash books to sort through as well. There are too many people in the occult and pagan communities claiming authority on subjects without the requisite expertise or knowledge.

In fact, just this morning I was texting with my best friend about how one of her students is afraid to do solo magic. I can only imagine that her student got fear drilled into their brain from one of those crap authors who stated that “magic is dangerous” and “don’t do magic until you know everything!” What a load of feculent nonsense.

So what’s a librarian doing here on Patheos Pagan?

It’s become increasingly important for members of our community to have access to good, reliable information. One of my goals is to bring information literacy to the community that I love most – with a bit of levity and a dash of sarcasm, of course. So, hi, my name is Ash and I’m the Gardnerian Librarian. I’ve worked in public and academic libraries for close to a decade and practicing witchcraft for nearly 20 years. I’m a Gardnerian High Priestess who runs a coven, a rock climber, runner, book lover and pug enthusiast. Welcome to my blog! I hope it’s not crap.

Many of you likely imagine huge piles of books when you think of librarians. The fact is that librarians’ jobs have evolved well beyond checking in and out books and answering reference questions. There are many different types of librarians these days, too. Half of my job is dedicated to instructing classrooms of college students on research skills or source evaluation. Another portion of my job is meeting one-on-one with faculty or students who need my research assistance outside the classroom. So, how does that translate into being involved withpaganism? An increasing number of community members are frustrated with the newer generations of pagans and “baby witches.” Their frustration is built off a myriad of things, some of which is newbs not knowing the difference between good information and bad information.

A hooded person covers their eyes with their hands. An open eye on the forehead is visible.
No, Karen, you can’t use your psychic powers to discern good information. Image via Pixabay.

Pearl Clutching Crap Attacks

I’m not pretending I have all the answers or the best research methods. Honestly, I didn’t really learn how to do decent research until I attended grad school for my library science degree. I thought research was complex until I learned how to do it correctly, and then it became fun. Researching needs to be easier for our communities because many of our practices are built on the scholarship of our forebears.

The fact is that many experienced pagans and witches are just as bad as newbies at research and identifying reliable, current sources of information. I’m imagining some pearl clutching happening right now, so hear me out and don’t have a crap attack. Most people are not skilled in research because most of us weren’t taught proper research skills. Couple that with all the shit information out there and we have a recipe for poop soup. So, let’s work on that together and don’t let pride get in the way. We all have to start somewhere.

What’s with all the poop talk?

Curious as to why I talk about crap so much? It’s because of a common tool used in library instruction called the CRAAP Test; a trade favorite among instruction librarians. A librarian named Sarah Blakeslee coined the phrase back in 2004 in an article they wrote for LOEX Quarterly, titled “The CRAAP Test”. We use this incredibly useful evaluation tool to help us quickly sift through large numbers of sources. I’ll talk about the CRAAP Test in another post, so stay tuned!

Follow me on Instagram @thegardnerianlibrarian !

The Gardnerian Librarian logo
Image created by The Gardnerian Librarian via Canva.

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