Pagan Authors and America’s Class System

Pagan Authors and America’s Class System
Money and Hierarchy in Today’s Paganism

Warning: I am standing on a soapbox.

Recently, someone with whom I’d been conversing on Google+ for a few weeks was surprised to realize I was an author and she owned one of my books.

It might seem odd that her surprise surprised me. I asked why she was surprised. I don’t know if my question seemed ingenuous and pretentious. She kindly responded that she does not run into authors. Ah, of course! I understand.

The thing is: I get out of touch with stupid consensus realities, so forgot it is unusual for a best selling author to be available, acting just like a community member. That’s why I didn’t initially understand her surprise.

But as long as big name Pagan authors are hard to be in contact with, they help create a class system in our community.

Before going into that, here are examples of how our American class system plays out in Paganism, for context.

There are a lot of people with money in Paganism. Nothing wrong with money, but I’ve encountered many wealthy Pagans who refused to say hi to me, let alone speak with me. They blatantly snubbed me.

Check this out: some of them, including big name authors, snubbed me until they found out I had major media access—e.g., scripted a segment for a Barbara Walters show—then acted like I was their best friend. One of them even gave me family tradition material! Ugh! What a fake!

Another example: I met someone at a Pagan conference who later became my student. She eventually told me I’d been the only one at the conference who’d said hello to her. This happened at a “spiritual” conference? What a joke!

There are many reasons people get ignored at spiritual conferences. But class is often one of them. Some people’s excuse is they are too busy. At the conference where no one said hello to the woman who became my student, I was scheduled to give two presentations, one concert, etc etc. “Too busy,” in the case of some moneyed people, translates into “too busy focusing on my own selfish needs and those of my elite group.”

One last example: I don’t expect conference staff to always stop to talk. They may have so many responsibilities that they need to move at a lightening pace, zooming past people in order to get to the next responsibility. But I was stunned that the staff at a major Pagan conference couldn’t even smile at participants as they ran past them. That seemed less busy and more self-important.

So I tried an experiment to see if I was right or if perhaps they were just a very shy group or something: I let it “slip” that I had just done a televised ritual for a quarter of a million people. Suddenly all the self-important people had smiles for me. They became utterly gracious. Not good!

Okay, back to author accessibility. Discussing it necessitates highlighting some of media’s dark aspects, so I want it clear that I’m very grateful to be in the media. Not many people get that chance, especially women raised without money like me. But I need to talk about the darker sides to give a whole picture.

The world of corporate media promises hopefuls that success in publishing, acting, etc makes one part of an elite that enjoys money, prestige, and a pedestal all of your own to climb on. As a women who grew up without much money, I hoped for more than I had as a kid, but I refuse to get it by joining in a class system. I’ve paid dearly for that decision—slandered by colleagues, constantly plagiarized, and worse. It seems if you won’t join in being an oppressor, they’re going to do everything they can to oppress you, lest you blow the lid off things and reveal their true nature.

One of my editors was shocked I put my phone number in my books. A marketing consultant told me that international authors do not teach small groups like I do. But I believe spiritual teachers should be accessible.

There’s a game you’re supposed to play. The game’s a trap. It eventually stifles your creativity and innovation, until your work becomes a pale imitation of your earlier creations. Stifled innovation allows a class system to thrive; otherwise, authentic dialogue and inspiring art might nurture social change.

I’m grateful for media access, and I hope I use it wisely. I have tremendous admiration for people in the media who stick to their guns in terms of the content they produce. I know how hard it is for them to do it. Being in the media is not the bed of roses portrayed by the powers-that-be.

The upper echelons want you to think media life is inevitably easy. They hope this lie will make you jealous of your blue-collar friend who worked their butt off to get a foot in the door of an upper class scene. Why? So you will not have your friend’s back when push comes to shove.

The powers-that-be have another reason to convince you life in the media is innately easy. They’re trying to cover up the actual facts: if you’re in the media and refuse to play the elite class game, it’s beyond rough going. As I said, you get slandered and otherwise trashed—sometimes to point of financial destitution and psychological devastation.

Is it worth it? I can only answer for myself. I get tremendous satisfaction from expressing myself. Also, I chose to become a public figure because the Goddess asked me to. It’s always worth doing what my Gods ask, whether I see how it pans out for me at the time or not.

There is money to be made. There’s nothing wrong with that. Legitimate, caring shamans, whether Native American or Celtic, charged for their services in ancient times. But if money is made through supporting our class system, Paganism oppresses us like the huge religious and spiritual groups that many Pagans left to be free of oppression.

Oddly enough, being accessible makes people suspicious of me sometimes. For example, when slander about me was making the rounds about 13 years ago, someone I was mildly acquainted with asked me what the true story was. I didn’t want to get into “He said,” … “She said,” because that seemed like going around in circles.

So I responded, “Come on over the house, hang out with me. Do ritual with me. Then decide for yourself what you think about me.”

LOL, the woman thought I invited her in hopes of stealing magical secrets from her—secrets that I was actually the author of myself, although she did not know it!

Good grief!

I’m not suggesting public figures be without boundaries. You cannot survive the public arena without them.

For example, a lot of people try to use me as a scapegoat. They think I have media access because I’m “one of them,”—e.g., someone not as deep as them or who has not faced as many challenges as they have. After all, how could I have accomplished all I have, if I’d faced tremendous challenges? Poppycock! Yes, challenges can defeat us, but too many assumptions are made about people in media. Whatever shadow projection someone wants to use as a punching bag, it can do terrible things when projected onto someone. That someone, after all, is a real live human being, with all the vulnerabilities of a human.

Another example: Between death threats, nut cases, and the sheer quantity of well-intended but intrusive readers, I’m protective of my home address.

Sometimes people who love my work almost force themselves on me as a best friend, not realizing they’re being discourteous, pushy, and perhaps outright scary. So home address aside, I have to make boundaries.

I also have to take care because my work is controversial; I’ve been picketed by so-called Christians, and I can tell you, it is terrifying to sit in a wheelchair, physically defenseless, while a bunch of people led by a man dragging a 10 foot cross think you’re evil.

When my dad died, I learned the importance of a private phone number, instead of using my private phone for business.

At his passing, I felt like I’d been hit in the head by a two-by-four. I could barely speak and needed support from friends. But I couldn’t pick up the phone when it rang, because if the person on the other end was a stranger asking about my shamanic services, I was so emotionally overwhelmed by dad’s death that I couldn’t even explain I wasn’t in good enough shape to discuss work.

Yet I needed to answer the phone, in case friends called, because they might not have left any messages—it’s daunting to leave messages when somebody’s died. This was before Caller ID, so I had no way of knowing who called unless I answered the phone. So I was isolated when I was in great need.

But none of these are reasons to be completely unavailable.

Ok, I will get down off my soapbox now.

I first posted this essay in 2016 on http://witchesandpagans.com/

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I Dreamt Donald Trump Is My Roomate

I could no longer stand the hate I felt for people who hate.

The night of July 5, 2018, I had the strangest dream. Instead of living in my sweet house, I was living in a large apartment, and Donald Trump was my flatmate. We weren’t lovers, we were buddies. The degree to which I have loathed the 45th and everything he stands for makes the dream quite strange, given that he and I got along quite well in the dream.

In the dream, we were talking, and then I accidentally bumped up against him, and it seemed like his little penis was hard, but he didn’t even blink. Of course, Trump would not blink because he is a sly, awful man. He‘d leave me in that oh-so-awful-and-prevalent feminine quandary of endlessly debating with oneself, wondering things like “Am I just imagining things …?” But I brushed his behavior off because neither his slyness nor anything else about him was bothering me. Remarkable dream for me!

Then I had to go take a shower (not because I’d bumped against him, but just because it was time to take a shower) and, when I got out of the shower, he had left. I think he might’ve been going to the White House, but I can’t remember that part of the dream clearly.

An hour or two later he died.

I told someone that Trump and I were roommates and that I’d seen him right before his death. The man to whom I was speaking said that he really wanted to interview me on his radio show. I agreed.

In the dream, I did not have the media savvy that I actually have. To show the contrast between that dreamtime self and what I’m actually like in “real life:” in my waking hours, I‘ve hosted a show on ABC radio in San Francisco and scripted a TV segment that Barbara Walters produced. Nevertheless, in dreamtime, I didn’t realize that mentioning living with Trump and seeing him shortly before his death would result in nationwide media exposure. Not that, in the dream, I was afraid of being accused of his death. I just was unaware that stating my experiences with Trump would garner major media interest.

I showed up for the radio show. The man who’d asked to interview me was not there. Instead, his female assistant was present. She was new at radio interviews, but she was doing okay getting set up for one. I didn’t know if the show was just for a little local radio station or was syndicated. Then, before the interview started, the dream ended, or I woke up, or I simply don’t remember the rest of the dream.

Recently, I’d come to a point in my life where I just couldn’t stand the hate I felt for people who hate. That anger was hurting me badly. Long story short, it was not anger that I took out on anybody else; it just hurt me inside.

I deep down believe love is the answer and felt I need to embody that at a new level.

Mind you, when I say love is the answer, I’m not a pacifist, doormat, or person who buries her head in the sand about oppression. I‘m convinced, for example, it is possible to stop someone who is robbing others of their rights, and still attempt to have an attitude of love for that awful person.

Letting go of unhealthy anger has been a long journey for me. I’ve worked hard at it. And I know anger is a healthy emotion. But I don’t want my angers to become resentments, be constant, or otherwise restrict or hurt me. An imperfect being, I will never completely let go of unhealthy anger. Luckily, anger is nowhere near the problem it was for me 30 years ago, or 10 years ago, or even a year ago, or even the problem it was shortly before the dream.

I think the dream was a sign that, to a substantial degree, my recent attempts to let go of the hateful anger for haters had succeeded. Goddess, thank you for helping me change.

Snce childhood, I’ve been aware of the concept of “the other,” not that I had a term for it when I was a child. But I suffered as the other. For example, as a dark little girl in an Irish neighborhood, I was repeatedly told I was ugly. And, once, a blonde little girl hurt me, but I was the one who got blamed for wrongdoing and punished. From childhood on, I have been the other over and over. So over the years, I have written a lot of material about the other, often from a shamanic perspective.

Until we get rid of the idea of the other, there is not going to be permanent social change. For example, revolutionaries who overthrow oppressors but then view the oppressors as the hateful, awful other become the oppressors of the old oppressors. Another example: as long as there is the other, the balance of national power will just rock back-and-forth between two small elite groups, instead of everyone being free.

Despite my realization of how much the idea of the other had hurt me, I was still holding on to it in various ways, ways I’ve bit by bit let go of. More recently, people like the 45th were still the other in my eyes. And that was allowing me a rage that kept reappearing and was going to destroy me. Again, the destruction was solely about my internal landscape, as well as the way that impacts my physical health.

I feel the dream showed that I am truly letting go of that sense of other, and hence anger toward people like the 45th. Trying to let go of the concept of the other and the accompanying anger the concept allows, I‘ve been telling myself the past few years that we are all in this together and, there I was, embodying that in the dream, by living my day alongside Trump.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the man and his cronies are so evil that it wouldn’t surprise me at all if one reason they kidnapped immigrant children was to sell those children into the sex trade. I think Trump and his ilk are such heinous beings that, just to make money, they’d sell children who are only months old to be sexually used and therefore die, since such wee ones would not physically survive such assaults.

So when I say some anger is leaving, I’m not suggesting that I am losing my moral judgment. My sense of what is right and wrong, as well as my sense of responsibility to fix what is wrong, remains.

I find it interesting that, in the dream, I made peace with him, and he died. Not that I think someone should kill him. The cause of his death in the dream was nonspecific, and the energy around it and in myself about it was very peaceful. I think the death symbolized that 1) resolution in myself has come, the idea of the other is dying in me and giving way to peace and 2) resolution with people like him is also possible. I’m not implying that, if I reason in a loving manner with him, he’s going to change his heart and behavior. Just because I’m feeling love doesn’t mean he will. He’d just as soon kill me as look at me. He will only change when forced to. But feeling rage over and over will not help me force that change. The ways to compel it, at least for me, are things like voting, campaigning for candidates, signing petitions, civil disobedience and, as my stepfather did in World War II, signing up for the military.

Anger can contract me and close me off from the flow of life. I think the radio part of the dream represented life opening up for me at a new level—even though I’ve done a huge amount of radio, remember that in the dream I’d never done radio—my shamanic and other efforts flowing into the world more productively than ever because I’d let go of unhealthy anger more than ever. So mote it be.

For an article about love as powerful magic instead of groups polarized against each other, click here: https://stardrenched.com/2018/07/07/magic-is-god-herself/

Spirituality, Small Groups, and Promotion

Fool, tarot card, Francesca De Grandis, 12-03

Fool, tarot card, Francesca De Grandis, 12-03

Been in an interesting process. Wld luv yr insights.

I was in a position to blog at HuffPo. After mega-deliberation, I decided that it’s not for me, at least not yet. (I’m not anti corporate media: I watch tv and movies, published with HarperCollins, scripted a segment for a major tv network, enjoy YouTube, etc.)

Interestingly enough, after my decision re HuffPo and some other corporate media, I was asked to blog for Dharma Trading Co. And I have absolutely loved working with them! Their audience is nowhere near the size of HuffPo‘s, but it feels right.

Yesterday, Anne Newkirk Niven, editor of Sagewoman and other pagan rags, asked me to blog for her. I was given a choice between blogging for http://witchesandpagans.com, which has 30,000 Facebook likes, or the soon-to-be blog for Sagewoman (7000 likes) that will become part of the larger witchesandpagans site.

After looking at the site, praying, and meditating, I chose Sagewoman. That might seem the poor promotional choice, because I don’t know if it means less readers. You’re supposed to get as many readers as possible, right? But numbers aren’t everything.

Strength, tarot card, Francesca De Grandis, 12-03

Strength, tarot card, Francesca De Grandis, 12-03

Narrowing my focus sometimes implements one of my life goals: authentic connectivity, which can require a community I get to know.

I am not saying that no one gets to know anyone at witchesandpagans.com. I am not saying I chose Sagewoman in order to narrow my focus. In fact, I am not stating here why I chose Sagewoman. My process of choosing Sagewoman was complex—and partially sheer intuition—and I do not fully understand it yet, so will not try to outline it here. My point is: I made my choice despite the possible numbers, and the choice is in keeping with my life goals. I am not making a pronouncement on what is “right,” I am just sharing my process. Speaking of which:

I do not strive to be queen of the witches. I want deep connection so that, whether in print or in oral tradition, we can get spiritual work done. Am i knocking big numbers? No. There are types of spiritual work you can do in big numbers. There are types of authentic connection that can happen in big numbers. (I must say, though, that big numbers too often consist of folks spouting off about how much they know, telling you how superior they are to you, and decrying the pagan they now think is a jerk.) When going for large numbers feels right and honorable, I do it. The rest of the time, I do work that requires smaller groups. I usually limit class enrollment, for just that reason.

What do you think of all this? My process is terribly against-the-grain in some ways, so I wld love your thoughts, whether you post them here or on Facebook.

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