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| Article Specs|
Article ID: 2142
Age Group: Adult
Posted: April 23rd. 1998
Frequently Asked Questions of The Witches' Voice
by Witchvox Central
The Witches' Voice has dealt with a brutal volume of email since its inception and we find ourselves consistently answering many of the same questions over and over again. In most cases we will simply build a page that offers our thoughts... This page contains many of the questions that really don't need a specific page but need a place to be answered. Our Email volume has been increasing at an alarming rate over the last few months. This page is an effort to lower our overall email volume in order to free up time to better serve the community both on and off line.
Just how much Email DO we get? In our two years on line we have received over 50,000 pieces and responded to close to 30,000. We have proudly responded to most of these within 24 hrs. Our present reponse time is slipping into the 4 day range.
Fritz: As of this posting (4/21/98) I have received 22,514 pcs (I belong to a few mail lists) and have personally responded to... 13,984 (since 4/96 and not including any of the Global WitchVox emailings)... I use Claris Emailer for the front end traffic and then archive them all in one our databases.... Ask me about a piece of email you sent 24 months ago and I can retrieve it and my response, in seconds.Warning... The following "frequently asked questions" contain the personal thoughts and opinions of Wren Walker and Fritz Jung and should not to be construed as the final word or "correct" answer on any of the questions here. The Modern Pagan Community celebrates diversity and there are, no doubt, many opposing and differing views to the ones listed below. Visit our Pagan Links section for a listing of 1,000 Pagan Web site links and their opinions... or by simply surfing to any pagan chat room for the opinions of thousands.
Wren: A fair estimate would be that my email activity is roughly 20% higher than Fritz's. I do purge many of them on a regular basis in order to keep my email program from bogging down and because I am NOT cursed with Fritz's librarian tendencies...
Questions about Witchcraft & Magick...
Many of our thoughts are covered in our Basics of Witchcraft pages. The following are some answers that you won't find there.
Q: I have noticed many beautiful altar/magical tools on your Web site, do you have a catalog?
A: Sorry no. TWV doesn't sell products. The magical tools you see here are our own personal tools (unless otherwise stated). We have collected them over the last 25 years and they come from all over the world. We find them everywhere... Many are gifts, some are personal treasures from the local woods, and some are from places like; Pagan Shops, Pier One imports, Pagan Festivals, Tag sales. The Witches' Voice supports the Witchcraft/Pagan shops of our community both on and off line... For a list of Pagan shops on the 'Net check out our Pagan Online Shops listing, for a list of Witch shops in your area surf to our Witches of the World Pages.
Q: Do you need beautiful or expensive tools to do the best magic?
A: Goddess no! Tools are just that, it is our personal belief that real magic comes from your sincere intentions. Whether you "direct" your magical intentions with a $300.00 hand made athame or by simply pointing your finger... the magic is the same. We are a society that is mired in symbolism and ritual. You can see this everywhere... Magical tools are part of this process and finding/working with tools that "speak to you" can be quite inspirational in your magic.
Q: Why don't you list spells on your site?
A: We believe that a spell can only come from within each individual Witch or Wiccan. (Some do not use spells at all.) Spells are as individual as you are. It is YOUR wish and YOUR projection that makes the magic happen. Since most Witches and many Wiccans do not believe that they need an intermediary to talk to their Gods for them, they are also uncomfortable putting their voice into YOUR spell. It is a matter of believing in personal responsibility and being very careful where they direct their energies. Some believe that they will share in the karmic results of the spell-good or bad. There are guidelines on "how" to construct a spell in many Pagan books and WebSites, but a spell is usually too personal for the 'one size fits all" approach. There ARE some circumstances where a spell may be shared. There are group projections that covens may do for a specific situation or by request from someone that they know well. Some traditional folk-type Witches will construct spells upon request as part of their local community function. If you need to construct a spell, but are not sure how to do it, you can check the resources listed here on the website. The "gimme a spell" approach will, however, often get you the "If you need to ask for a spell, you are probably not ready to do one." answer. No one can have -or should have- the ability to make your dreams and hopes come true for you. That is your job and your personal responsibility as a Witch.
Q: Where can I find a coven?
A: Covens are usually an "invitation only" group of people who work very hard to blend their personalities and magic for a common purpose. This would not be an easy thing to create with an "open door" policy. Chances are, you will have to meet the approval of the entire group to be considered for membership and you must have the recommendation of a current member to be considered. That said, if you are starting out or have been solitary, but are now looking for a group to join, you have to "go where the Witches are!" Visit your local Pagan shop and check for workshops and local meetings. Attend open circles and events in your area. Go to the Witches of The World section and email some of the Pagans listed near you. Witches are strong individuals, so most covens are looking for people who can hold their own in Life and not for followers or hangers-on. Some covens or groups do offer "outer circle' training or teaching for new seekers. Study, study, study! If you can bring something TO a group, you will increase your chances of being asked to join one.
11/25/98 Update: The Witches' Voice now offers links to Covens and Groups on a State by State, Country by Country basis... Surf over to your area at the Witches of the World Pages for more info.
Q: Am I A Witch? Are people born Witches? Can I become one?
A: Some Witches do believe that they were "born a Witch." The common thread of this belief stems from the fact that as they discover the Paths of Witchcraft or learn about Wicca, they feel as if they have "come home." The statement, "I always knew I had a religion, I just didn't know it had a name!" is very common. Some Witches are born into Pagan families- and like in many mainstream religions- are 'covered under the umbrella of their families' home religion until they are old enough to make their own decision on religious preference. Most in this day and age read or study the tenets and beliefs of Witchcraft, Wicca or the other Neo-Pagan paths and decide that these "fit" who they are. So they adopt one of these Paths as their religion of choice.
| Questions about The Witches' Voice Organization...|
Q: Can I visit your offices when I am in the area? or please forward this to your ART department etc. etc.
A: The "offices" of TWV are in our home, in our spare room. We have three computer set ups: Wren (Mac Quadra 840av), Fritz (Mac Quadra 8500) and one for Fritz's job (200mmx Pentium Pc running Windows 98 and Windows NT4). The real staff of TWV are the hundreds that have sent us articles and essays, those that make us aware of news and events and of course the thousands that help fulfill the TWV mission statement by doing community work in their town. In February 1998 we moved our "offices" from Boston, Mass to Clearwater, Florida and we are presently looking for volunteers to help us with much of the local mechanics and education mailings that consume much of our time.
Q: Can I use a graphic or an article from your site on mine?
A: Yes you can... All we ask is that you give proper credit the authors and artists that created the work. However, why do it? It is in everyone's best interest for you to do something that is original and fresh... (see Jorah's article on Originality ) There is still a plethora of ideas and concepts that have yet to be celebrated on the Pagan Web. Make your Web site something unique and special.
Q: Why don't you make money by selling books for Amazon.com
A: Good question. Although Amazon.com is a brilliant web retailer and a great resource for the Pagan that has no local outlet for books, they celebrate the pagan community with the same zest and passion that they celebrate the model airplane community. It has always been our personal decision to support the Witch/Pagan Shops of the World. They DO make a substantial part of their living FROM the sales of books. Lets face it, the key local networking element in the modern Witchcraft movement has been the local Witchshop. It's where so many of us FIRST made contacts with others of like mind (Wren and I met in a Witchshop). By offering community services, most of these shops show that they really do care about the same. Visit your State or Country page for a listing of Witch/Pagan Shops in your area. If you know of one that is not listed, do the community a favor and list the Witch shop in your town.
Q: Why doesn't the Witches' Voice have a Chatroom or Message Board?
A: Many think we should! and Pagans certainly do love to chat... We did have one of the busiest chatrooms on the Pagan Internet (6/96 to 9/97) called the Magick Beans Coffee House... These days there are numerous Pagan sites that are doing this way better that we could. When we first created our chatroom we modified a simple guestbook script and made it look like a chatroom. This was quite unique at the time, thousands came, many new friends were made and lots of wonderful ideas were exchanged. In the last 14 months two things changed for the better.
Many wonderful new cgi scripts were written that took this concept to much higher and better levels... Just about anyone can grab one of the prefab scripts, tweak it up, and launch a powerful chatroom or message board. No longer was the power of the chat held by the few.Although it would be somewhat redundant for TWV to do a chat board at this point, we do plan to continue to look for ways to capture and celebrate the thoughts of the community via, surveys, feedback forms and personal essays.
Chatboards sprang up all over the Pagan internet (our own links to Pagan chat sites lists 55 of them and there are many, many more on the Pagan 'Net ). These days this need is very well covered. The heart and soul of some pagan web sites ARE their chatboard(s)... They do it with passion and they do it well and they will be the first to state that to do a strong Chatboard is real hard work. They monitor them, they evolve them with the latest cgi's and they offer platforms on a variety of topics...
Q: Why doesn't TWV accept paid advertising?
A: There are very strict guidelines on what activities a non-profit organization can engage in while carrying on fund raising. The TWV website is considered (by the legal definitions of what constitutes a non-profit organization) to be like a magazine. Any ads placed on the site in which fees are directly paid to TWV by the advertiser or money is paid to TWV through a portion of the purchases rendered as a result of the ad are considered "unrelated income." This means that TWV would have to pay taxes on this money. (The rate is lower than for a for profit company, but the money is still taxable.) TWV can accept paid advertising only from other non-profit organizations or organizations and groups run primarily by volunteers without such penalty and filing requirements.
As a non-profit organization, TWV must file a form with the IRS each year stating where funds came from and how they were generated and dispersed. If a "questionable" percentage of funding comes from non-related business, the organizations non-profit status could be revoked.
We have no desire to debate what is considered "questionable" with the IRS and so we do not enter into any kind of agreement with for profit companies which could jeopardize our non-profit status. We prefer to list Pagan shops and services free of charge. We also feel that our sponsors want their donations to go back to the Pagan community and would not endorse the idea of their donations going toward paying unnecessary and avoidable taxes.
Q: What about businesses who offer a percentage of sales as a donation to TWV?
A: The above explanation also applies to this practice. The IRS considers this as "commercial co-venturing" or "cause related marketing" and scrutinizes these ventures very closely.
Certainly a Pagan for-profit business can decide to make a free and clear contribution to any non-profit organization from its profits. However, this must also be a donation free and clear of any "purchase necessary" involvement or solicitation. Otherwise a business relationship between the for-profit and non-profit organizations is implied and "commercial co-venturing" can be ruled by both the IRS and the state in which the organizations conduct business.
The sale of items completely donated to the non-profit organization or revenues from special events, such as fairs and shows, as long as they are not a "regular occurring events", are not taxable and are considered as acceptable fund raising activities. The use of low cost premiums as inducements for sponsorship donations is also allowed.
There all kinds of ways to "get around" such legalities. Some non-profits establish a for-profit subsidiary company. Museums can open shops that sell artwork and replicas of museum pieces. In both these cases the relationship must still be 'related" enough to the purposes of the non-profit organization to avoid revocation of its non profit status. TWV is simply not large enough to consider these types of ventures at this time, but may consider them in the future.
Q: Is TWV it's own server? What do you pay for Web hosting?
A: Sorry no. We are not our own server (not yet anyway). Monthly web hosting charges were a major issue for us in our final days with the WLPA. What hit us hard were usage changes (200.00 a month for the last couple of months due to our "usage charges"). We panicked during our first couple of months online due to the quick action that WVOX recieved. (The Witches' Voice presently generates 10 gigabytes of usage per month and consumes some 47 meg of hard disk space and at 95% of the web hosting services this is 450.00+ a month bill). Some of our wonderful supporters spearheaded the "Save the Witches Voice" campaign (thank you again) at that time and you may still see banners on a few sites. We had to act and act fast. First we moved to Tabnet, in California, in April '97 for a very good deal... But due to their spotty support, we left three weeks later... and in late April (thanks to our friend Ari) went to Cetlink in South Carolina and have been paying a flat 25.00 per month to host the site ever since. Cetlink is powerful enough to do the Job and small enough to care. Our relationship with them has been incredible, to say the least. Our thanks go out to all that have offered us simular deals in the last several months. It's also worth noting that we are presently paying 17.95 per month x 2 for our full time (local access) "dial up" connections through GTE. The Witches Voice Web hardware and software (2 older Macintosh systems running the latest) are paid for by Fritz and Wren. No Microsoft products are used to create the Witches' Voice and we are legal owners of all the software that we use.
Q: What are hits? Do you REALLY get that many?
A: "Hits" are a general measurement of the "action" (over a stated period of time) that a web site gets... When you surf to or "hit" a web page your web browser makes a request to download all the images and text from that page into your pc's hard drive. Your Web browser then displays the collected information. There are two fundamental ways to calculate them... Sessions or pages viewed: This is the most popular measurement and is calculated how many times the pages of a web site are viewed. Page elements: Many server logs (ask your server for this) consider every element on a page (individual graphics and the text itself) a hit... So if you have 5 images on a page and a mess of text this would count as 6 hits. by this measurement we would be over 44,000,000 hits. Both of these measures are correct but the common measure is full pages viewed. The Witches' Voice measures hits based on "Sessions or pages viewed". The total hits you see on our home page is taken directly from the server logs and updated daily.... Why do we have so many? Unknown really. Part of the answer is directly related to our sheer number of pages and in a typical week TWV gets just over 100,000 pages viewed, our analysis also shows that the typical surfer comes into our site and views an average of 7 pages during each session. Oddly, we have been receiving many questions about which pages are hot lately. We hope to find the time to offer more statistical info in this area in the near future.
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