Book Review: A Field Guide to Otherkin

Otherkin are people who have memories of living lives as beings other than human. Being Otherkin can occur multiple ways, as discussed in the first chapter which is dedicated to their “sources” (reincarnation and walk-ins) the psychology of the phenomena, which sets up the book and gives a good working definition.

The middle chapters were the most interesting part of the book, in my opinion. These chapters contain explanations on the different types of Otherkin. Lupa–The author–includes chapters on Therianthropes which are animals that are on earth, Vampires, Elves and Fey, and Mythological Animals. There is also  a chapter on more obscure types of Otherkin; such as Angels, Demons and Kitsune. Her chapter on Therianthropy is much more fleshed out than the other “types” chapters because she herself is a wolf Therianthrope.

There is a group of Otherkin that emerged that is not in the book; God Shards. A group of which I am a part.This group includes those that connect with a specific deity in such a way that while they were not the god in a past life, a large part of their soul is made up with that God’s energy. When I saw they were missing I was a little disappointed. However in the afterward Lupa stated that we may continue to send her filled out surveys and that she isn’t opposed to writing another book.

The book was written and published in 2007 . The content of the book is based on  the 130 survey responses that she received. There is now a large congregation of Otherkin on Tumblr and I feel that if she were to rewrite the book today,  she could receive many more surveys from which to work with. She includes the raw data that she received in the appendix of the book, I just wish that she included graphs, because my brain is not very numbers oriented and I had trouble visualizing the result.

I really enjoyed this book; however, she did lose me at the last two chapters. Her voice changed and it became less interesting. I felt she became wishy-washy and it was frustrating to read. For example the section headers change from: “Definition, Identity and Belief” and “Pop Culture Lycanthropy” to “It’s okay to have your head in the clouds as long as your feet are planted firmly on the ground.” I felt her book of facts devolved into personal opinion and lost its authoritative value.

Lupa felt very strongly that this book was simply an overview and was in no way shape  or form a definitive work, and for that reason she has taken it off the market. On the book can be purchased used and starts at $90. On the book used starts at £90. It’s a shame that the book is no longer on the market because I believe it could be very helpful to many ‘kin.

I give this book 4 out of 5 paws.

We were blessed to have Lupa weigh in on our interview.

Lupa’s Note: First of all, thank you for the kind review; I agree with the overall assessment, and I’m glad it’s still getting some traction even now.

It’s been almost eight years since this book was published; it’s been coming up on two years since I had it permanently taken out of print. I went into more detail as to why on my old blog at, but here’s the short version:

–I haven’t identified as a therian for a long time now. It took me a while to admit that because so many people looked to me as something of a role model—or at least the person who wrote the book on Otherkin. If I was going to let people down, I wanted to do so gently. Mind you, that doesn’t invalidate other people’s sense of self; it’s just not the paradigm that fits my own relationship with Wolf any more, and hasn’t fit for years.

–The book is flawed. It has errors, the sample size is relatively tiny, it needed better editing, and there are people out there who could write a better book now. This sort of mini-community evolves quickly, and so the Field Guide has been out of date for some time. I am not the person to write a better resource; maybe someone else will step up.

–I’m tired of talking about Otherkin. For years it was all anyone ever wanted to interview me on or ask me about. I’ve long since moved on from the subject; truth be told, I was burned out before I even finished the manuscript. I’ve solo-written four books since then, and have signed a contract for a fifth. I want to talk about what I’m doing now, not the project I worked on the better part of a decade ago. I want to talk about my current work with totems and nature spirituality. I want to talk about my hide and bone artwork, and the cabinets-of-curiosity-themed arts festival I run. I want to talk about the Tarot of Bones, the natural history-themed divination set I’m designing.

If you want to see what I’m up to these days, check out and

Life is Like a Video Game: Civilization Medical Skill Tree Edition


A number of you have been to my workshop “Life is Like a Video Game: Dont Forget to Level Up.” If you haven’t, do not fret. The concept is simple, and we will delve a bit into it in this article. For those that HAVE been through my workshop please take notes, or print this page out for your records.

Sid Meiers Civilization is a dynamic turn based video game where you run the world, and attempt to fashion the future by controlling the past. You are able to control so many aspects of the game: The tech that is learned, the religion that is practiced, the intrigue that occurs between states, the medicine that is practiced, the food that is eaten, and myriad other specifics.  One thing often leads to

From The Site

The skill tree for Sid Meier’s Civilization Beyond Earth

another as you level up, just like the real world. In video games this is often represented by a “Skill Tree,” a ladder of  abilities to be unlocked in order. You have to make a spear before you can make an arrow. You need an arrow before you make a crossbow. Crossbow before firearm, and up, and up.

So as you apply points to a field of study, you unlock different abilities. As I unlock stone masonry, I evolve from being able to build a fence, to a house, to roadways, and eventually all the way to creating fine works of art that require fine, stone sculpture, detail. Never would David have been carved if we had not refined the tools of stone masonry to a fine point. Donatello never would have existed as an artist without man first creating the stone ax.

So now that we understand that different skills are unlocked as we gain more experience in an area of study, we can talk about the skill tree I want to talk about, today: Medicine. There are many different branches to the Skill tree that is ‘Medicine’. Some nations of people have decided to put their skill points into very different studies. Let’s say you are a nation that started their journey to medicine through the Herbal Skill Tree learning the plants of the forest, and their properties, you slowly but surely put points into Herbal knowledge. You began learning that the “spirit” of the plants you were using to heal people could be isolated through heat, or combining them with other plants, and that eventually brought rise to making true Medicine. Now that that you have unlocked the skill tree for Medicine through Herbalism, your options in medicine look unique to how you got there.

I’ll explain further.  Now you are a part of a Nation that uses prayer to navigate your reality. You pray for everything, and through your prayer, and spiritual study, you begin finding correlations between people sicknesses and their experiences. You just stepped Chinese Medicineonto Medicine’s skill tree, again, only this time you got there through prayer. Now the options that are available for you down the Medicine path are much different than the ones that were down the path that arrived there through Herbalism. Where Herbalism’s path had unlockables like “Tincture,” “Salve,” and “Inoculation,” Prayers path has unlockables like “Diet,” “Massage,” “Acupuncture,” and “Therapy.”

In Western Culture we have unlocked many, many upgrades in our Medical skill tree. Western Medicine is good for many, many, things. We have learned to reset a bone. We have learned how to identify, remove, and rehabilitate cancer. We have learned about blood borne illnesses. We have regrown body parts on the backs of mice. We have taken someone’s face off, and put a new one on them. We have learned how to lengthen someones appendages. We have learned how to replace almost every part of a persons body,  and are nearing a tech level the likes that they believe they could successfully transplant a head from one body to another.

Yes, we also have medicines, and therapy, and dieting knowledge. We have very much worked at rounding out or medical knowledge, world-wide, by adopting and learning from what everyone else has learned. But there is one school of Medicine that Western Culture chose to walk, that the others did not, in their pursuit of conquering death.


I know. Mind Blown, but it’s true. We are currently sitting very close to the top of the Necromancy Medical Skill Tree. The Western Medical system started 500 years ago through “scientists” digging up dead bodies and doing experiments on them. Even Leonardo DaVinci  helped further the skill tree. His drawings of hands, feet, eyes, bones, and all manner of human parts were drawn off of cadavers that he himself dissected. Grave robbers were paid by clandestine scientific communities, “fallen monks,” and self Leonardo A_Dead_or_Moribund_Man_in_Bust_Lengthproclaimed geniuses to bring them the freshly dead from recent burials — some as fresh as having been buried that day. People were cut apart, labeled, placed in jars of chemicals, sewn together, pulled back apart, cataloged, and then disposed of so as to not get caught. We created Grey’s Anatomy. Only a culture that had an infallible knowledge of a cut up body could have created such a work. Only a medical community borne of these beginnings could know that there are cells in a discarded fetus that could lead to a literal panacea for disease and defects. It’s why Western Medicines main concern is “Staving off Death” and not “Curing Disease”. They were never trying to cure disease, they have forever been trying to conquer death.

Does this make Western Medicine evil? No more so than the Prayer Tree. People died, and die every day because of faith healing. Herbalism leads to the Poison Skill Tree, which is a whole different kind of nasty. No, todays lesson is about helping you learn how the world runs parallel to the way games have been set up. Or are games so well made that they mimic the way life evolves?  The answer is Yes. The world is a giant video game. Life is a giant video game. You might as well be a Player Character riding an avatar on a single quarter. Some people know this and are playing the hell out of their edition of Real Life. Some of us think there is no rhyme or reason, and we’re just spinning around in circles, wasting our bullets.

I wanted to show you that life isn’t like one video game. It’s like all of them. This version shows you how it compares to the classic Civilization games, or Diablo, or Borderlands, or any number of games that have a progressive skill tree system. But there are plenty of times that life is a Platformer, or a Role Playing Game, Racing Game, Point and Click Adventure, Dating SIM, and every other type under the sun. We made them that way because it’s how we see life.


When I see these things, as a child of the 80’s, 90’s, and Millennium, I can’t help but notice how much our culture mirrors the games that I grew up with. It occurs to me that the people beginning to run the world are the very people who are the first generation to grow up on video games. Like me. It might seem like something out a superhero origin story, or a Max Headroom-esque future where the lines between media and reality are blurred. but it is this very reason that we need to learn how to juxtaposition the two within us, so that this new reality can become useful, instead of a hindrance. The more we relate concepts within our mind, the more neural pathways we create in our brain, and the more readily we can break down the universe around us.

I want to help with this transition.

I want to bring light to the new age of man that we are moving into: Homo Luminous.

And so I have given you one more piece to help fill out that neural net; that the Medical Skill Tree in Western Culture is Necromantic.

Life is a Video Game. Dont forget to level up.

The ATC’s Journey to the Underworld


They say that when we start playing with all these myths, and writing rituals, and sharing mysteries, that we often don’t know where that path will lead.  At Spring Mysteries Festival every year, the Aquarian Tabernacle Church puts on Paganism’s only annual passion play, the Eleusinian Mysteries.  If you’ve never been, Spring Mysteries Festival is the ONE pagan pilgrimage that you really owe it to yourself to find the money to attend.  If you were in Greece 3000 years ago, you would save up and make the pilgrimage to Eleusis.  If those mysteries were still going on in Greece today, we would all be saving up for a plane ticket and accommodations to experience the story of Great Mother and Holy Daughter and learn the mysteries imparted at the ancient altars of Eleusis.

Those mysteries are still going on today.  They are alive and well in Seattle, Washington.  Well, off the coast of Washington, over on the sound, but you’d fly into Seattle. The festival is held every year on Easter Weekend.  If you haven’t been, you absolutely owe it to your soul to come and experience when the Gods Walk the Earth.  My first year was one where they kept saying, “These mysteries will change you.”   I kept thinking, “Yeah, it will totally change all these other people.  Not me.  I mean, Persephone is my patron.  I teach these mysteries and perform similar rituals at my own coven.  So, I won’t be changed.  But, yeah – all these other people are in for a ride.”  Oh, the arrogance of a Leo child.  Oh, was I ever wrong.


On Friday, at Parade to the Sea, when the Gods appeared as if from nowhere, Tears began leaking from my eyes and would not stop.  I was looking at Athena.  Not someone dressed as Athena, but ATHENA!  There was ARES!  There was HERMES!  There was the Great Mother and the Holy Daughter!  Tears stream down my face whenever I think of it.  That amazing moment touched me forever.  I cried the rest of the day.  Not sobs, just a continuous stream of tears.  I was home.

I joined the church as an affiliate leader.  I adored Pete, and talked with him often.  I worried about him being up at the Tab by himself.  Dusty encouraged me to start calling Pete every Tuesday to stave off Pete’s loneliness.  After asking him if I could help with anything every week for about 6 months, he decided to offer me the Seminary.  I was thinking more along the lines of writing an article for Panegyria.  But, we worked it out and it wasn’t soon before he presented me with the prospect of taking his place as Archpriest.  Archpriest? Or Archpriestess?  Uh…

I often think, how silly that there has been so much pain over a gender issue.  But this one thing, me being a woman and not a nan, caused a rippling impact in our church that plummeted us into our own group journey into the Underworld.  Oh, there were many other issues that rippled from this one.  So many, that we could not contain them all, or even sort them out.  Pain, hurt, anger, fear, and confusion brought gossip and tall tales which villainized our beloved leaders, or martyrd them depending on where your opinion landed.  The church that we knew, loved, and built our spiritual family in was torn in two, like the Great Mother and Holy Daughter, only in your face –  up close and personal.

The Mysteries seems so romantic when told in an afternoon, or over a period of a few days, hades_and_persephone_by_sayara_s-d4umejjwhen you can see the pattern clearly and all ends happily ever after.  But, when it’s happening to you personally, it’s dark, hard, cold, and depressing, with no end in site.  Why witches think the Underworld is a cool place to go see is beyond me, even though I too romanticize the journey.  The reality of experiencing death, whether in the loss of a person, or in the loss of anything, it hurts.  Oh yeah, it changes you, but it hurts like Hades too.

You’re this way because these are the choices you willingly made.  To change, the Goddess sometimes has to make choices for you.  Ones that you wouldn’t make.  Lessons of the Dark Goddess suck!  But, they are necessary, and they do often take you to your goals.

We ritualize and explain this over and over.  The Lessons of the Dark Mother are upon you when you’re angry at the path, when you don’t understand, when you don’t know, but have judged, when you think someone or something is WRONG.  We know it’s a time to reflect and look within.  It’s a time to consider other choices.  It’s a time to change within.  It’s not a time to attack others, but more often than not, in our pain, that’s what we do.  That’s what Demeter did.  She couldn’t help it.  She blighted the earth.  Maybe because she was mad.  But, probably because she was in so much pain she couldn’t help it.  It takes happiness and love to make something fertile.  It takes happiness and love to go to work everyday, to feed your family, to nurture your children.  It takes happiness and love to keep getting up every morning and doing what you have to do.

We were all real complacent with the ATC and what it was doing.  Things seemed Utopian from the outside, like Camelot, or maybe Avalon.  When it came to our realization that Pete and Debbie were not going to go on forever, and change was upon us, it plunged all of us into Demeter’s state of losing our own personal Holy Daughter, the church we all loved, nurtured, and put a ton of our sacred energy into.

How has it changed us?  How will we come through this?  The fear, the anger, the pain –  it has touched us all.  All of us have sacrificed.  All of us have lost something important to us.  None of us got what we wanted – not Pete, not Debbie, not me, not you.  But now that we have Blue Persephonerecognized that we are walking the Eleusinian Mysteries as a church, what do we do with that?

Release judgement, for one thing.  Release the fear.  Forgive everyone that hurt you.  Forgive yourself for being hurt.  Forgive the path for being hard.  Forgive the Goddess for giving us what we need to grow and transform.  Forgive the church for being part of the cycle that it has taught to the world for 30 years.

Remember this story ends in love, and get back to it.

How do you do that?  Well, you say it, you write it, you declare it to others.  Then you fill that void with gratitude.  You look at what good has come of it.  You look at what you learned.  You remember the good times, and those you loved, and you reconnect with them.  You vow to continue to be ever loving, ever growing, ever changing, ever lasting.

Eleusis.  It’ll change you.IMG_1340

In Honor of our Founder


Pete Pathfinder Davis

1937 – 2014

Born on Ostara, 1937

Crossed into the Summerlands on Samhain, 2014



Pete Pathfinder Davis 1937-2014


Thank you Heather Greene for this beautiful article from the Wild Hunt:

On Oct 31 at 6:00pm PST, Pierre Claveloux Davis, also known as Pete Pathfinder, passed away. The announcement was made by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church:

[Pete] was surrounded by loved ones, and went peacefully in his bed. Today, on our most holy day, when the barrier between the Worlds was at its thinnest, and on the 35th anniversary of the founding of his life’s work, The Aquarian Tabernacle Church; our Grandmother Hekate, Patron Goddess of our Order came across and brought home with her one of her most devoted sons. Founder of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, Panegyria Magazine, Spiral Scouts, The Pagan Information Network, and Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary, Pete’s contribution to Wicca, and Pagan rights can never be overstated. From prison ministries, to Veterans rights, and his ability to standardize our faith through the Government, Pete’s legacy, and the freedoms enjoyed from his actions will be felt throughout the duration of Wicca on Earth.

Pete Pathfinder was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1937 to a Catholic father and Pagan mother. However it wasn’t until he was 37 years old that he himself fully entered into the Pagan world as a Wiccan initiate. Then in 1976, he relocated to Index, Washington — the place he would call home for the rest of his life.

Once established in Washington, Pete began to realize his dream of creating an oasis for local pagans. On Samhain 1979, Pete established the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC). In 1983, he himself initiated into the New Wiccan Church (Kingstone) tradition. Then, in the winter 1984, ATC members performed a ritual dedicating their own newly built MoonStone ritual circle, located on Pete’s property. From that point on, ATC began to grow and Pete’s dream evolved into something new; something bigger. He wanted to establish a legally-recognized Wiccan church.  – See more at:  – see more at:

Quotes about Pete from Facebook:

In Memory of PeteJeanine and Jon Lesniak: Jon and I had the honor of calling Pete “friend” for the better part of 25 years.Pete lived by his own advice and accomplished so much, and won so much respect for doing so. Blessed Be!

Friend: I have been truly blessed by my association with you. Your great work, your life, has been an inspiration to me. The time we have been able to spend together, has truly blessed and energized me. I will miss your biting wit, your keen mind, and your single minded focus.

Jacqueline Mackenzie: Like me, I am sure there are many Elders who have gone on to help seekers on their life’s pathway to spiritual enlightenment because Rt. Rev. Pete Pathfinder Davis was their Elder’s guide. The gifts that this teacher gave to me can neither be explained or even named on this plane. May his work be forever remembered in the hearts and minds of his students. May ATC continue to grow under those who he trusted to carry on n his physical absence regardless of what the future holds.

Community Member: Even though we knew his time was near, my heart is sad this night. Go softly into that good night, you will be missed.

Melissa Anderson: From us at Circle of Ancient Sisters, we offer condolences and much sadness this great loss to the Pagan Community.. we shall place a sacred candle on our alters around the world for yet another blessed elder..

Halo Stormchaser:I love you Pete. You have always been there for me and a joy in my life. I will miss you more then you know. I know I will see you again one day in the Summerlands. I will never forget you.

Reohad McCloud: Pete, I loved going out to visit you and sit in the library and talk. Thank you for all you have done to make the world a better place for pagans everywhere. Walk in Beauty

Gabriel Matson: “Mother of all, absorb the spirit of our loved one, back into your womb from which he was born, There, reshape him in your place of molding, preparing him for rebirth among his people.”
A book of Pagan Prayer, Ceisiwr Serith

Loved One: We were so blessed with the time that we spent with him, even with all of his health issues, he made sure to welcome us into his heart and life. We will miss him! Love and healing to you in this darkened time! Leave it to Pete to cross on exactly the 35th Anniversary of the ATC (his great work) and the thinnest of the veil.

Janice Brown: About 19 years ago I met Pete, he became one of my closest friends. In the 5 years that I lived in WA, became more that a friend, I called him “Dad”. He was my east coast dad as he and I would say. I spend many hours at the Tab helping out with festivals, rituals and other jobs as needed. While there Pete and I talked a lot, and over a short time he became a Dad to me. Even though I moved back to the east coast, my heart was still there with Pete and my Wa Family. Pete, you were my friend, teacher….and proud to say “my west coast Dad”. Your love and memory will always be in my heart. Rest in peace Dad…love you always.

Erin L Peterson: Pete Pathfinder married my wife and I in 2002 he counseled us several times before officiating the ceremony. He will be dearly missed…. Blessed be Pierre and Merry part…

The Community: May he rest in the arms of the Goddess.

For those that wish to come in perfect love and perfect trust to honor Pete’s passing, there will be several celebrations.  Please attend any or all events that suit you.

  • November 8th 2014Full Moon Memorial – Moonstone Circle, Index, WA
  • December 27th, 2014The Passing of the Holly King – Seattle, WA
  • April 2nd-5th, 2015Spring Mysteries Festival – Honoring Memorial for Pete, Fort Flagler, WA


BREAKING: Pierre Claveloux ‘Pete Pathfinder’ Davis has passed away.

Today at 6pm Pacific Time, Pierre Claveloux ‘Pete Pathfinder’ Davis was taken across the veil. He was surrounded by loved ones, and went peacefully in his bed. Today, on our most holy day, when the barrier between the Worlds was at its thinnest, and on the 35th anniversary of the founding of his life’s work, The Aquarian Tabernacle Church; our Grandmother Hekate, Patron Goddess of our Order came across and brought home with her one of her most devoted sons. Founder of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, Panegyria Magazine, Spiral Scouts, The Pagan Information Network, and Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary, Petes contribution to Wicca, and Pagan rights can never be overstated. From prison ministries, to Veterans rights, and his ability to standardize our faith through the Government, Petes legacy, and the freedoms enjoyed from his actions will be felt throughout the duration of Wicca on Earth.

Pete Pathfinder: Born on Ostara, 1937. Crossed into the Summerlands on Samhain, 2014.

Please hold your phone calls until Nov. 2nd and give the family and church time to grieve. If you would like to post your condolences for the time being, please go to: 

Pete ‘Pathfinder’ Davis has crossed the veil

Today at 6pm Pacific Time, Pierre Claveloux ‘Pete Pathfinder’ Davis was taken across the veil. He Pete 'Pathfinder' Davidwas surrounded by loved ones, and went peacefully in his bed. Today, on our most holy day, when the barrier between the Worlds was at its thinnest, and on the 35th anniversary of the founding of his life’s work, The Aquarian Tabernacle Church; our Grandmother Hekate, Patron Goddess of our Order came across and brought home with her one of her most devoted sons. Founder of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, Panegyria Magazine, Spiral Scouts, The Pagan Information Network, and Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary, Petes contribution to Wicca, and Pagan rights can never be overstated. From prison ministries, to Veterans rights, and his ability to standardize our faith through the Government, Petes legacy, and the freedoms enjoyed from his actions will be felt throughout the duration of Wicca on Earth.

Pete Pathfinder: Born on Ostara, 1937. Crossed into the Summerlands on Samhain, 2014.

Please hold your phone calls until Nov. 2nd and give the family and church time to grieve. If you would like to post your condolences for the time being, please go to: 

The Aquarian Tabernacle Churches Statement on the Tragedy of Jacob Crockett

The Aquarian Tabernacle Church would like to reach out to the city of Stillwater, Oklahoma in this time of darkness. 21 year old Isaiah Marin nearly decapitated 19 year old Jacob Crockett the son of an Oklahoma state trooper. Marin has been called a “religious zealot” and a “fanatical Christian” and Crockett was killed for his own religion; Wicca. We would like to remind Police Captian Randy Dickerson that Wicca is the fifth largest religion in the nation and this seems to be a crime of hate and prejudice, and that ruling out religion as a motive would be remiss. As a large, world-wide, Wiccan, Organization we would like to offer our condolences to the Crockett family and lend our support during these difficult times. Our church headquarters can be reached at 360-793-1945 and we invite those affected by this tragedy to reach out to us.

Happy Samhain – A Poem by Dusty Dionne

Happy Samhain by Dusty Dionne

Happy Samhain
Trick or Treat
Candied apples,
Spooks and sweets

Thinning veil
That holds the dread
of long lost loved ones
Long since dead

Skeletons walk
on Halloween night
Gargoyles circle
in stone aided flight

Witches in belfries
in conical hats
and blood sucking fiends
that turn into bats

Houses on Chicken Legs
Hop through the park
Werewolves’ own howling
ring through the dark

Muggles are running
back to their beds
from vision of ghouls
with long severed heads

The Children of Samhain
With cloaks pulled round tight
Walk with the deceased
On All Hallows Night

With hisses and boos
From graveyards of mist
and sullen long longing
From dead widows lips

Today is the night
And the night is today
When spirits and loved ones
return here to play

So under the covers
or out on the town
The spirits will find you
You’re not hiding, You’re found

So make up a dinner
Set it out for the dead
They’re ever so hungry
and long to be fed

And tomorrow upon waking
If you make it to morn
And your sanity’s in tact
Your clothes are untorn

And the sun looks upon you
smiles its smile
then forget not to sit
and pray for a while

Thank the creator
Say your’ Amens’
And know that last night
Will not happen again

At least not till next time
In exactly one year
When the veil’s at it’s thinnest
and the dead smell your fear

So enjoy this fair evening
And dance with great life
Which will honor the deadites
Who rile in strife

And come back and tell me
Your great tales of fear
And celebrate Samhain
The Celtic New Year.

A Message from a Unique Shaman

By Rev. Terry Riley HP SDCW – ATC

I was at a festival in Missouri last week and a young man who was autistic kept coming up to me and asking the same question. Now at first glance this didn’t seem that important. However, here recently I have been looking into mental illness and how it has been misunderstood by modern western medicine. Since our Church, Southern Delta Church of Wicca – ATC, as part of our community service has applied and going to be accepted as the local Chapter in NE Arkansas for NAMI, (National Association of Mental Illness) we have been looking at Mental Illness from a spiritual point of view.

In the olden days in most tribal cultures a mentally ill person was considered gifted or a Shaman not yet fully born. In our society they are looked upon differently as “Not Normal” so to speak. So they are shunned and carted off to be medicated because they are a burden on society and more often than not treated as someone to be pitied.

There is a great article by Doctor Madidoma Patrice Some’, a shaman of the Dagar people of Africa. He says that a person with mental illness signals “Good news from the other world” because a person with mental illness is a “Healer trying to be born” for the betterment of the community. For further reading here’s the link to the article:

I’ve always believed this and believe it even more now after having a special message given to me by one of these powerful individuals. During the festival he kept asking a question I did not know anything about. And he kept calling me, “Mr. Old Druid.” I was teaching at the Festival on how Wicca is moving into a new era and how our clergy needed to be trained not only in coven structure; but Church structure as well. I was also pointing out how we as Wiccans needed to be more proactive publicly, politically and promote the Faith as a religion of honor, integrity and dignity equal to other major faiths of the World. Now admittedly, I have caught flack over the years from some Wiccans who don’t see my point of view, probably even some who attended the festival. But I always end these talks with an analogy: “The religion of Wicca is the fastest growing religion in the United States, because it’s changing and growing. It’s like a Caravan that’s moving on. In the old days when caravans began to move there were always dogs running alongside the wagons barking. These dogs will continue to bark, not realizing they have a choice. They can jump on the caravan and ride it with us or stand there and bark, but the caravan is going to move on. What we have to explain to them is the fact that we are not leaving them behind. The fact is they’re choosing not to go with us.”

Witches in the News

While Paganism is typically a quiet, closed community that doesn’t attract much media attention, occasionally something will happen that brings out the media in droves.

Let’s be honest with ourselves here. Paganism does not get the best media coverage. It’s easy to point a finger at journalists and say “Do your job better!” but there are things that Pagans can do to help this process along.

Having gotten a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Western Washington University, I might be able to shed some light on how Pagans can start to see more accurate coverage that goes deeper than “What is Wicca? What is Paganism?”

There are two major types of coverage that you’ll be dealing with – breaking news and human interest.

For breaking news coverage, often there isn’t time for a journalist to have done their research before doing interviews. Be prepared for “obvious” questions (e.g. Do you worship Satan?). For these situations, it’s best to answer briefly and redirect the conversation to the news at hand. (e.g. No, we do not. We’re here at the courthouse today because…)

For human interest pieces, the journalist should have done their research before coming out for interviews. If they ask obvious questions like that, respectfully question them on how much research they’ve done on the topic before coming out to talk to you. Don’t tolerate the interview about your upcoming event or Sabbat focusing on how Pagans don’t worship Satan or eat babies. The contents of the interview will reflect the end piece. If they spend five minutes on the event and 30 on Wiccans not believing in Satan, expect a piece that doesn’t focus on your event at all.

On the flip side, expect questions about spelling or even offer it up before they ask (e.g. We’re celebrating the God Lugh – that’s L-U-G-H.) Offer additional contacts and be available for followup questions and fact-checking. Also, make your title clear. Are you a Reverend, Lord/Lady, a High Priest(ess), etc?

After the interview, be prepared for follow-up questions via email or phone, or be prepared for the copy-desk to call you to confirm facts/quotes/spellings.

Once it’s published, be sure to read it carefully and send it to other Pagans. If there is a mistake contact the outlet’s corrections department as soon as possible about it. Ask that they update the online version and run a print correction if it ran in the physical paper. This is standard procedure when a mistake happens – and mistakes do happen. Let them know you’re reading – and reading closely.

On a larger level, contact the Associated Press about their style guide. Ask them to clarify that Paganism should be capitalized if Christianity is and that Goddess should be if God is. Make it clear that you want equal representation. Until these are implemented into the AP Style Guide, it’s up to the reporters and editors and not much can be done regarding the discrepancies.

As always, be respectful, but it’s time to start demanding more coverage than the basics.