Patheos chats with Jason Pitzl-Waters
about Pagan media.
By Star Foster
You may not know the name but you certainly know his work. Between The Wild Hunt, A Darker Shade of Pagan podcast on Pagan Radio Network, his work with the Pagan Newswire Collective or his contributions to PanGaia, Thorn, newWitch, and Patheos, he's been persistently seeking to raise the bar for Pagan journalism. He was kind enough to share some of his story and give us his thoughts on the future of Pagan media.
Most of us know you as "the guy that writes The Wild Hunt," but you wear quite a few hats. You're also involved with Warriors and Kin, The Juggler, Darker Shade of Pagan podcast, and Pagan Newswire Collective. Did you plan to become so involved with Pagan media, or did it sort of evolve on its own?
I would love to say now that this was all a part of some ambitious ten-year plan, but I got involved in the wonderful world of Pagan new media almost by accident. I certainly never thought I would be where I am today, writing an influential blog, speaking at festivals, and coordinating media projects. Sometimes, on reflection, it seems rather strange, but I also feel incredibly blessed to be where I am. A very good friend often joked that I'm "fate boy," in that life seems to guide me toward paths I would never have consciously suspected.
I'm among a growing number of Pagans who have to get their daily Wild Hunt news update or they get cranky. What was your original vision for The Wild Hunt? Did you ever expect it to become such a must-read site for the Pagan community? Was there a particular milestone where you realized "Hey, this is getting big . . ."?
I started The Wild Hunt as something of a hobby, a writing project born out of my frustration that there wasn't a Pagan news site like The Wild Hunt for me to read in the morning. The first couple years of the site, which I urge everyone to ignore, were a long process of me finding my voice, becoming a better writer, and ultimately, deciding that what I was doing was too important for me to stop doing. I never expected it to become any one's must-read site. In the beginning I was just incredibly flattered that anyone read it, and I'm touched that some of my original readers and supporters are still around and still commenting. It's hard to pin down a single milestone, but I think that from 2006 to 2007 The Wild Hunt went from "just some blog" to a going concern in the wider Pagan media landscape.
As The Wild Hunt has become popular, your opinion has gained weight in the community. Do you feel free to express yourself, or do you feel a responsibility to provide a more objective viewpoint?
I do feel a responsibility to provide an objective, albeit "pro-Pagan," viewpoint when I write my blog. That doesn't mean I never interject my opinion or write editorials -- that does happen -- but I do strive to avoid using The Wild Hunt as a personal bully pulpit. Because of that I do put limits on how I express myself, otherwise I wouldn't be serving the wider community, I'd only be serving myself.
One of the things I love about The Wild Hunt is that you try to represent the entire Pagan community, not just any one branch of it. I'm curious, how do you describe your personal spiritual path?
That would be telling! But seriously, I've often avoided being specific because I don't want my personal affiliations to influence people's perceptions about what I write, or where I might stand on a particular issue. But in the interests of transparency, the bulk of my spiritual makeup is tied to various forms and traditions of modern religious Witchcraft.
The rise of modern Paganism has been almost in lock step with technological advances, from the occult renaissance of the late 19th century when trains and newspapers were everywhere to TweetUps at this year's PantheaCon. I personally found the modern Pagan movement due to an indie media article on the internet. Paganism is supposedly a collection of earth-based religions, so why do you think we're so hooked on technology?
I have it from reliable sources that the internet is based on Earth, so I think we're good. Why are we hooked on technology? Because new and old it has reliably offered our communities a way to organize, share information, and connect across great distances. The concern is to balance our lives with technology so it doesn't obscure or undermine our larger goals. So long as we work toward that balance I think there's nothing wrong with worshipping in the woods one night, and Tweeting about it the next (unless you're oath-bound, then that might be bad).