The Campaign for Responsible Pagan Authorship, Publishing and Merchandising
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Dame Sybil Leek, in her 1971 book The Art of Witchcraft, said, "I suppose for any enterprising person there could be a small fortune made in mass-producing the tools of witchcraft: after all, just about everything has been reproduced, and investors in zodiac symbolism have made a fortune - one day it will happen to the tools of witchcraft." (p. 180).
Well, fellow pagans, as you all know, that day is upon us. While it is encouraging to enter a bookstore of even the most generic sort and find shelf upon shelf of books devoted to "the occult," "mysticism," "magick," "witchcraft," "divination," and so on, there is an awful lot of fluff (for lack of a better word). The covers of a lot of books discussing our religious paths are gaudy, bright and cartoon-ish. Their content is sensationalized and often lacking in verifiability, indices or bibliography. And yet their authors (or their publicists) claim themselves to be "leading experts in the field of [witchcraft, Druidry, ceremonial magic, shamanism]." Often they tote an endless pedigree of initiations, traditions studied and past volumes of wisdom written and distributed.
A short review of the materials available reveals that much of it is not (or cannot truly be) aimed at a pagan audience. Books that inform the reader how to "make him love you using white witchcraft," for example, without addressing first the need for self-knowledge, meditation, acknowledgment of personal responsibility and acceptance of the ethical ramifications of magick, are obviously not intended for anyone who has internalized "an ye harm none, do as thou wilt."
In addition, many authors and publishers seem to be purposefully and deliberately targeting the lucrative teenage market. Not children of pagan parents, of course. Pagan parents know that children are often not ready to handle the responsibility of leading a magickal life. They introduce topics as the individual young person is capable, and watch over their development with a loving and caring eye.
No, the market is geared towards non-pagan teens. And for a religion that loudly claims it is non-proselytizing, that seems hypocritical. It also seems like a formula "spelling" trouble for adult pagans everywhere.
However, to quote Sybil Leek again, "If one part of the body is whole there is always hope that the diseased tissues of the rest will fall away. I think once the craze of witchcraft being the 'in' thing has faded away, we shall see a stable, influential, updated form of the Old Religion thriving." (The Art of Witchcraft, p. 20).
Now, I'm not suggesting that any of us (particularly me) has the answer to the problem. I'm just suggesting that we, as a mature and responsible pagan community, hold ourselves accountable for the often harmful material that is being passed into the hands of the unsuspecting and unknowing - our children, the children of non-pagans, the initial seekers of true knowledge.
What I'm suggesting is this:
There are many sources of information available that are wonderful -- well researched, verifiable and serious works. Also, unlike 10 or 20 years ago, there is not just one publisher or merchandiser where one can find reference works and ritual items.
The alternatives are out there. Folks that need our support to thrive. To become the pagan resources for the 21st century.
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This site last updated: 21 Aug 2003 12:05 PM -0500