Networking: Keeping in touch through pagan magazines

Wiccan Rede * Autumn/Winter 1988 by Morgana Sythove

Note: This article is severely dated, obviously, but provides a good insight into the pagan scene before internet existed.

One of the perks in running a Pagan/Craft magazine is having access to a number of other magazines in the Pagan circuit via exchanges. In fact this phenomena of exchanging mags (unlike the mainstream mags) enables each group behind the various magazines to establish contacts with other groups, which may otherwise not materialise, due to the multiple subscriptions for example. It is a form of networking and hopefully each magazine will act as a focal point for its own readers, whereby in turn more people will become aware of ‘what’s going on’.

Recently I have been taking a closer look at our ‘exchange magazines’ and the reviews which follow are a result of my findings.

Some of the magazines have a high content of local and national news, whilst other concentrate on actual articles. A magazine’s appeal is of course a very personal thing. Things like art work, lay out and general presentation are also of importance although one must of course remember that virtually all Pagan mags are run on a shoe-string budget and things like professional printing, glossy paper and colour illustrations are for most groups out of the question. One might in fact be tempted to ask why so many mags operate on a small scale, instead of bundling their energies and resources to produce one or two good quality professional magazines, for example in America. The number of mags in the US, and England for that matter, is quite astounding. Virtually every group that acts publically, has at least a newsletter, if not a magazine. I suspect the answer lies in the very fabric of the Pagan movement. Each group is autonomous, and although there may be a loose alliance between various groups, from an organisational point of view, every group has its own ‘face’.

More often than not a couple or so people from that group will act as a P.R. department and in so doing end up editing a magazine for that particular group (usually it is the instigators who take the initiative to start a newsletter). And as each group is coloured by its leaders, so too will the magazine have a particular leaning. This is of course analogous to the coven/group situation. This point is quite obvious in the case, for example, of a Dianic group which will naturally produce a feminist biased magazine, but the principle is true of all Pagan magazines in general. Usually the editors are responsible for the bulk of the material in the magazine, and if you don’t particularly like their views, chances are that you won’t like the magazine as a whole. On the other hand, if you do find a magazine that you particularly enjoy you have virtually found a new friend. Although editors may sometimes complain of the masses of mail to be answered, most of them welcome feedback and enjoy letters from ‘faithful’ readers. And it is probably for this reason that so many magazines would shudder at the thought of ‘going commercial’. This communication between readers and editors is an important aspect of publishing a magazine, even though it may not always be apparent! Some magazines don’t print letters because they are often of a personal nature, whilst other magazines deliberately print letters to get a discussion going, and they are often successful in getting controversial subjects into the open (plus all the mud-slinging and back-biting that this can lead to!)

The following review is by no means complete, but hopefully it is a good cross-section and guide to Pagan magazines. All the information concerning subscription rates, addresses etcetera is to be found in the exchange magazines listing, inside the back cover of Wiccan Rede. Also a tip: if you feel that two or three subscriptions are too expensive, why not try ‘magazine-pooling’ with one or more interested people. Happy reading!

Ancient Ways is strangely enough one of the few Pagan magazines to come out of Ireland. Many of the articles, as one might expect, are about Irish/Celtic topics. In the recent March copy there was for example a good article about Sheila-na-Gigs. Stewart Farrar was also included with a short article entitled ‘What is Paganism’ in which he discusses the Gaia Hypothesis of Dr. James Lovelock. The overall feeling of this magazine is one of traditional Wicca, and it may disappoint the radical ‘neo-Pagan’ eclectic. Michael Hynch for example ruffled a few Pagan feathers recently with his views on homo-sexuality and the Craft. Whatever your views however, Ancient Ways does at least present a number of in-depth articles on a variety of subjects in each issue.

Ancient Ways is well produced, with typeset print and lots of small illustrations on A5 format, running into 40 pages per issue.

The American magazine Reclaiming  is the newsletter for the Centre of Feminist Spirituality of the same name. Although the emphasis lies on a feminist approach it is not an all-women set up and men are certainly not made to feel unwelcome, either as a contributor or as a reader, although on the contents page it is pointed out that “articles do not necessarily reflect the attitudes or opinions of the newsletter staff or other Reclaiming members (some of us actually dislike some of the stuff we print)”!

Similar disclaimers are to be found in many other magazines, by the way. All this aside, the magazine is well presented; the articles often have a ‘personal experience’ slant and there is a lot of news about Starhawk’s activities, plus news and events of other Reclaiming “Classes and Events”. On the whole I like this magazine, although ‘Hannah’s Household Hints’ leaves me a bit cold… There is usually a good assortment of poems and ritual/ meditation pieces.

Another well-produced, typeset magazine on oversized A5 with occasional small illustrations.

The Bard is a rather specialist American magazine, since it represents the Welsh Hereditary tradition. “The Bard is published to coincide with the four  Celtic festivals  by the Annwn Temple of Gwynfyd… a kindred of the hereditary Welsh lineage, which continues to practice and preserve the old ways of Welsh Celtic religion.” This is further defined as “the survival, albeit as folk religion of pre-Christian  Celtic  religion,  preserved: 1. Through family lineage (hereditary lines) and 2. Through popular Welsh folk customs.” As such the journal “is lovingly dedicated to our ancient kinsmen,  the gwyddoniaid, without whom we would not be and from whom our family religion is derived.”

It is a well produced magazine with some fine artwork. There is much information about the beliefs, symbolism and misconceptions of the hereditary Celtic stream. The regular question and answer section is very interesting and many aspects are raised. For anyone interested in an hereditary, specifically Celtic group this is an excellent mag, in the familiar A5 size with some 28 pages per issue. Incidentally, it is one of the very few hereditary groups which has gone public.

One of the most dynamic magazines to have come out of England for a long time is Moonshine, which is published by Prince Elric’s Bookshop in Selly Oak, Birmingham, which in turn is the brainchild of Rich and Kate Westwood. Rich is responsible for the editorial and a good sprinkling of articles, all done in Rich’s ‘no beating about the bush’ style. His basic line of thought is ‘get up off your backside and do something in the Pagan community if you want to call yourself a Pagan’. Not always a bad way of looking at things but it may alarm those of us who are quietly getting on with ‘it’… On the other hand, Rich’s somewhat brash and forthright approach is more than balanced by Kate’s  wonderfully  inspiring ‘meditation/pathworking’ prose, for example her ‘Warrior Queen”. Excellent. Mind you, I do admire Rich’s gutsy pieces and judging by the success of ‘Pagan Link’, he and a few others are definitely inspiring a lot of people to get together around Albion. As you might guess there is a lot of news concerning the Pagan Link network and a good overview of upcoming events throughout the country, plus contacts etcetera. Other contributions include short articles on a wide variety of Pagan topics, and usually lots of feedback – recent ‘controversial topics’ have included the ‘not all Pagans are witches’ issue and Pagan/Wiccan sexuality (started by John Wallbridge and not Rich!)

(Literally) shortsighted readers however beware, the print is very small and there are some weird typing errors. Otherwise a good magazine, with 40 A4 pages in reduced print and some illustrations. Success with Pagan Link!

One of the fastest growing Pagan activist groups in the US is probably the Thomas Morton Alliance, whose newsletter is called the Merry Mount Messenger. Thomas Morton “was a 17th century English Pagan who settled here in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where he proceeded to raise all kinds of hell – by, among other things, celebrating Beltane publicly, writing poetry to the elder deities and providing arms to the Native Americans for their defence against genocidal Puritans.” The T.M.A. is now acting in the spirit of Morton and as such are involved in various activities such as ‘eco-defense’, prison issues, animal liberation and  Native American issues. There are a number of contact groups in the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York areas which are in turn active in such areas as lesbian and gay issues, anti-defamation, etc. Faerie Fire and Pagansword (previous magazines) have joined forces and there is  contact with other groups such as Pagans Against Nukes in Wales (PAN), Pagans  for  Peace (Canada), Witches League for Public Awareness (US) and Earth First (also American). The Merry Mount Messenger is full of news on the political front. There are also reports of TMA activities such as the recent Beltane celebration ‘The Reclaiming of Merry Mount and the Banishment of Aids’. There is a lot of feedback, and letters from readers are often printed. Regular features include ‘Runes,  Glyphs  and  Letters’ (feedback), ‘News from the Home Front’, and ‘The Tenor of our Plaint’ dealing with the more legal/human rights issues. There is usually one long article dealing with a specific aspect of activism within Paganism, such as “The New Pagans” by Henri Anasazi. For the more politically minded neo-Pagans this is an excellent newsletter. The MMM used to be free, (donations welcome!) but explosive growth have forced them to think about a regular subscription fee.

The Merry Mount Messenger is well produced, typeset, about 20 A4 pages per issue, with plenty of illustrations.

Another American Wiccan/Pagan magazine is Panegyria, which is the journal of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, based in Seattle.

Some information concerning their activities can be found on the inside of the cover. Briefly, the ATC, “although a new tradition, is based on English Traditional Wicca… It is a tradition of service – to the Pagan Community as a whole, here in the Pacific Northwest, and beyond.” They operate a Retreat House in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State which is opened to interested persons. There is also “an outdoor Circle of Menhirs, large slabs  of  local granite, standing in a grove of stately old cedar trees.” Sounds very nice!

They provide a number of activities including semi-public monthly worship, retreats, workshops and meditation, and they have their own printing/publishing business. They also have affiliations with the Covenant of the Goddess, a group which may be familiar to some readers.

As one might expect, the journal is concerned for a great deal with AT news and events in the area. A new feature however is ‘Profiles in the Moonlight’ in which active Pagans are interviewed, which I found interesting reading. A regular feature is letters from readers who raise various issues, and report on various activities such as Pagans In Prison.

This magazine may be a little bit too ‘local’ for foreign readers, but I think it is a good example of a ‘news-letter’ and is a good way of keeping in touch with our fellow Wiccans in America. Pete Pathfinder is the editor.

Panegyria is one of the diminishing amount of magazines still being stencilled, but it does carry some illustrations and each issue is about 20 pages size A4.

The Unicorn is a publication of the Rowan Tree Church based in Minneapolis, America. The church gradually evolved since 1977 when “Rev. Paul Beyerl began teaching the Craft to a group of people in Minneapolis.”  The church, or community, now offers various training facilities and activities. The Unicorn is one of three newsletters which they publish. It is a fairly short magazine – about 10 pages A4 format. It has a lot of poetry and the artwork is usually of a high standard (some of which is done by Don Lewis,   see the Wheel of Hekate). The articles are usually concerned with practical skills such as becoming familiar with the Tarot or Runelore. Andrius the regular ‘Unicorn informant’ and his comments are a treat. He also provides the update column. There are usually some book reviews included and a few ads.

A fairly recent addition to the Pagan magazine scene is the Wheel of Hekate, published in Illinois, America. I guess the first issue must have been about Candlemas 1987. So far we have only received one issue, since we are busy organising an exchange, and if this is representative then I’m suitably impressed. The issue I’m referring to was Samhain ’87. It is extremely long (over 80 pages A4 format, slightly reduced print) with numerous illustrations – again some nice artwork from Don Lewis, who is also the editor. There were a number of full length articles, including a very interesting feature concerned with Pagan Ancestors – in this case about Julian the Apostate (pity about the spelling mistakes…). Many of the articles and shorter notes were concerned with the Crone as archetype, which is of course not surprising with a magazine dedicated to Hekate. Apart from articles there was plenty of poetry, and even a short mystery play, plus a ritual for self-enrichment. Book reviews, letters and ads are also included.

Whilst The Bard is the journal of a Welsh hereditary group, Dalriada is the journal of a Scottish Clan of the same name. The first issue appeared at Beltane 1986. The Clan chief in the first editorial describes Clan Dalriada as a “Pagan Celtic movement, having its centre based on the Isle of Arran, off the West Coast of Scotland.” Arran, he tells us, means “the Isle of the Apple Trees, the Gaelic Avalon.” The clan whilst continuing the Gaelic-Irish tradition, “operates in the threefold tradition of our forebears, the Physical, the Emotive and the Spiritual levels.” The Clan itself also operates on various levels. There are the sympathisers who can join the four major festivals; secondly the Warriors of the Green Diamond who are “actively involved in the system of the Clan in as much as they practice one of the thirty-six ways of the Celt” and then finally there is the “Clan council, the Priesthood who have dedicated their lives in service to the Lord and Lady, also to the Clan itself, being teachers and administrators of the Celtic nature religion, thus the old ways are kept alive.”

Whilst some of the articles in Dalriada are concerned with the hereditary line and the beliefs etc., there are articles concerned with neo-Paganism and general public involvement.

For those of you who saw the BBC ‘Earth Magic’ program (either on video or recently on TV) you’ll probably remember the piece about the Scottish group, which was in fact the Clan Dalriada. (By the way, I haven’t seen a copy of the mag for some time. Are you still publishing out there? Please let us know!). Dalriada is stencilled, about 15 pages A4.

In many respects, at least as far as Paganism is concerned, Australia resembles Holland. Interest in the Craft and Paganism as a whole is gradually spreading, although of course Australia does have it’s own native tradition in the Aborigine people. One of the few Aussie Pagan mags is Kindred Spirits Quarterly which is published in New South Wales. Much of the emphasis in KSQ is on the ecological question and there are regular snippets of news concerning the ecological problems in Australia. Another emphasis is that of networking and KSQ acts as a focus for lone Pagans on the Australian continent. It is a nice ‘earthy’ (pun intended!) magazine with a good sprinkling of humour throughout. ‘Grist to the Mill’ is a regular feature and gives a general run down of events, news and political issues.

KSQ is stencilled on folio paper, about 18 pages per issue, with some illustrations and cartoons.

Another Australian Pagan magazine is Shadowplay, which is also published in New South Wales. Rhea Grimwood is editor and in recent issues a detailed report was given of her visit to America and her experiences with various groups she visited.

Shadowplay is an A5 format magazine which is excellently produced, going for 60 pages per issue. The artwork is above average and this makes it a very attractive mag. In the Autumn ’88 issue  (I think that was our Spring!) there was a complete story called ‘In Love, In Absence’ which as far as lay out went, reminded me of the now defunct Flemish publication ‘Hexa’ (not a Craft magazine by the way). Shadowplay usually includes a number of full length articles which are generally of a high standard and cover a variety of subjects. Some of the articles (as in WR) are part of a series so a subscription on a longer term basis is really necessary.

A well produced modern Wiccan/ Neo-Pagan magazine is Harvest which hails from Massachusetts, America. “Harvest is a combination of all the fruits of creativity; the fertility of the soul, mind and body. The reaping of the harvest is spiritual, mental and physical manifesting on all three levels”. It is a ‘classic’ Pagan magazine in that it combines practical as well as theoretical aspects of Wicca. In the various articles many subjects are covered from ritual to political issues. Local news is reported whilst Darcie (who mysteriously disappeared a while ago but is now back) reports on current events. Reviews include books. Other Pagan magazines and films, and the  occasional letter is printed. There is also a personal and classified ads column and ‘Sourcery’ (I like that name!) gives a good overview of Pagan groups, festivals, etcetera. Harvest is well produced on A4, some 30 pages long, and as so many magazines these days partly in near letter quality computer print out.

A recent addition to the list of Pagan magazine is Mythos, a journal of Mythic Experience, from Seattle in America. So far I have only read one issue, so I can’t make any real judgments. However, it is a well produced short magazine, about 20 pages of reduced print on A5 – I think it comes out monthly – with a variety of topics. Their main focus is on ‘practical magical skills and techniques and explorations of mythic experience’. In keeping with these aims this particular issue had informative articles about Candle Magic and ‘Fairy Tales as a Mythic Resource’. There was also a lengthy interview with Haranago, one of their columnists, who is actively involved in Pagan and Craft activities in the Seattle area, which made very interesting reading. The general aims and lay out of this magazine are promising and I wish them ‘good luck’ in achieving their aims!

Mythos can be contacted at P.O. Box 21768, Seattle, WA 98111-3768, U.S.A.

A couple of years ago a contact magazine was set up in England, called the Ace of Rods. Although the majority of people seeking contact  are  based  in England, there are a few ‘foreign’ ads. And of course some of the British listings are looking for contact with people abroad. A listing costs nothing but people replying have to pay a nominal fee. The ads are divided into geographical areas (usually a particular county) and it is up to you what the wording of the ad is. Many of the listings come from ‘solitaries’ either looking for someone or a group which can help them further, or people looking for ‘soul-mates’. For Dutch readers this is an ideal source for finding  pen friends. The  Ace of Rods is handwritten, some 10 pages long.

A famous and long established British magazine is The Cauldron edited by Mike Howard. Actually it is a newsletter, stencilled on folio format and full of interesting items giving a good overview of the Pagan versus establishment situation in Britain. Quite often anti-Pagan incidents/activities are reported which tend to make one aware of our situation as far as the general public is concerned. On the other hand, pro-Pagan incidents are also reported, plus letters and short articles (quite often dealing with historical aspects of the Craft). Mike is a reputable h3 and some of his books have been translated into Dutch.

A  magazine especially created for the elder members of the Pagan community is The Crone Papers, although everyone of all ages is welcome to subscribe.

This American magazine has been out for a couple of years and I can imagine that it provides a welcome addition for the crones amongst us.

The editor is Grey Cat, of whom I know precious little but who knows, maybe her name rings a bell for you…

In the recent Beltane issue there were some interesting letters in response to Paul Beyerl’s manifesto (which included a lot of “You must’s…”) including a longish one by Margot Adler. Paul Beyerl, in case his name doesn’t ring a bell, wrote some books about herbalism, edits The Unicorn and contributes to other magazines as well.

The Crone Papers is well produced, about 22 pages on oversized A5, with a few illustrations, and they can be contacted at P.O.Box 181, Crossville TN 38555, U.S.A.

The Wiccan is in many ways similar to The Cauldron. It is the newsletter  of  the Pagan Federation, which aim is to be “a forum for contact between the Craft of the Wise and those who might find rapport with the Old Ways. It is a forum for discussion between various branches of the Craft, and it serves to promote the unified face of Paganism against the calumny of the media.”

Much of the newsletter is in fact concerned with the way in which the media report on Pagan events and also anti-Pagan attacks made by various groups (usually Christian). Also included are book reviews and general news, and occasionally interviews. The Wiccan is stencilled, about 8 pages A4.

Perhaps  the  most famous of all American magazines is Circle Network News. It was first published in 1980 or thereabouts and the newspaper format has not changed since then. It was founded by Selena Fox and Jim Allen, both well known personalities in the US. Jim has since left CNN and Selena has been joined by Dennis Carpenter. In the early days of CNN a Circle Sanctuary Fund was set up – the idea being to purchase some land for a sanctuary where all kinds of activities could be developed. Since then the land has been purchased (near a village called Barneveld – the ‘original’ Barneveld, in Holland, is THE centre for eggs and poultry…) and although the Circle community were very active there were troubles with the local h3ities concerning zoning regulations. After a long legal struggle Circle has succeeded in getting Wicca recognised, legally, as a religion. There are still some points of law which have to be sorted out but the recent success has been an important step in the right direction. News of the Sanctuary and an update of the legal situation is a regular feature of CNN. There is also quite a lot of national news and of course coming events, plus ads, book reviews etc. In each issue there is a particular theme, such as reincarnation, dream magick and Journeys Inward, trance and meditation, etc. Readers are invited to contribute to forthcoming issues. Contributions can include personal experiences, poems, short articles describing methods of work, meditations, pathworkings etc. One of the beauties of this section is that it provides plenty of material and ideas on a particular subject, and although you may not use a piece in it’s entirety it can help to inspire. People contribute from all different types of traditions and backgrounds, so there is usually a wide choice and variety, and of course it is interesting to hear how people see things (and work them out practically). The art work in CNN is usually of a high standard and the front cover is often done by a guest artist. There are also a couple of regular features such as ‘Pantheon’ (about deities) which tend to give more in depth information and of course articles by Selena appear regularly. The overall impression of CNN is a well produced, well organised magazine, aimed at the larger Pagan/ Wiccan community.

One of the oldest magazines around is Quest, which was first published, if I’m not much mistaken, in 1970. It’s editor is Marian Green, whose name is becoming more well known in Holland (look for news of her forthcoming workshops elsewhere in this issue). Quest is a solid, straight-down-the-line magazine, with articles covering a wide range of subjects from runes to ritual, from practical tips to festivals. Marian’s own articles and those of ‘Diana Demdike’ are highly practical and very down-to-earth.

Also included are book reviews, coming events and updates of Green Circle activities (Marian of course instigated the concept of Green Circle. Recently various Green Circles have been formed in Holland and Quest is definitely a must for all those interested in joining one of these groups).

Details of various postal courses organised by Marian are also included in Quest, plus information concerning her books.

Quest has about 30 pages A4, no illustrations but otherwise it is well produced.

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