Want Some Milque with that Toast...
Article ID: 6651
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,806
Times Read: 11,391
Posted: August 3rd. 2003
Times Viewed: 11,391
Want Some Milque with that Toast...
by Wren Walker
"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."" *
"I mean it, Wren. This sort of crap has got to stop." I could hear My Friend's anger and frustration crackling through the phone. Even as my mind started to comprehend what he was telling me, one cluster of brain cells still took a few seconds off in order to note that it was probably a very good thing indeed that we owned a cordless phone. If I had been directly connected to anything directly connected to my old Friend, I am sure that I would have been blown off of the balcony. The resulting electrical arc might then have set off the fire alarm... and that surely would have caused the cats to scatter in three of the four directions -- but not before kicking over the potted fern (again) or dumping their water goblet and soaking the carpet (again) -- and I was already having a bad enough day as it was.
So was my Friend. "These peeps (He actually called them something else.) are going around telling folks that I am some sort of scam artist and a fraud.... that I am traveling around the festival circuit 'selling' Native American spirituality... and that not only am I not Native American or a Vietnam War Vet, but that I am out there deceiving people for my own fun and profit."
As Friend took a deep breath, I found myself thinking that whoever was taking this little tale out for a spin obviously had to have more time on their hands than brains in their buckets. The names didn't ring any bells, but the affiliations did. And I knew then exactly why these peeps were racing full throttle down the Assassins' Highway.
Friend had broken one of those unspoken Pagan rules. Friend had taken a stand. He saw a breach of ethics and he (Oh, you are just not gonna believe this...) actually said something about it. (I know. I know. It staggers the imagination really.) And so, as is almost always the case when something like this happens in the Pagan communities (Don't tell me that it doesn't. I get the emails.), somebody on the other side of that stance was now out to discredit him.
There is nothing quite like the sight of an adversary with your properly charged under a dark moon iron-studded tire marks running up his or her a** to really make your day complete, eh? (Disclaimer: Not a real spell. Illegal in most states. Do not try this at home.)
But Friend's next words are what really put the situation into perspective for me. "And if my friends do not stand with me on this one, they no longer will be called my friends." Two things immediately came to mind.
One: Friend obviously has no intention of spending the rest of his life as road kill.
Two: We were both having a bad day for very similar reasons. (Aha! Gazing deeply into the flashing light of my laser mouse, I see a magical synchronicity dialogue bubble arising somewhere in the future of this article. More on this later.)
Now if any of you happened to have missed out on that train wreck of a thread posted at Wren's Nest last week, here's the short version:
A web site is/was using the name 'Witches Voice' for commercial purposes. The owner(s) is/was trading off of the quite recognizable name and reputation of The Witches' Voice, Inc. and is/was selling "Witches Voice" merchandise for personal profit. In order to legally protect our trademark and copyright, we have to actually demonstrate that we are interested in doing so and will do so if necessary. We are a corporation and under that charter we, as trustees of the corporation, are legally charged and bound with this responsibility.
So I posted a public notice and legal disclaimer informing the public and our readers of the situation and stating just those facts. Well, well, well...what a wake-up call that proved to be! But thanks for that smack upside the head. It really cleared some things up for me. Much appreciated. Let's review the lesson plan one more time.
Okay, so let me get this straight. (blink, blink) Another person, persons, company or companies are in effect typo-squatting and is/was using the good name of The Witches' Voice for personal profit. And I am not supposed to even mention that because this person, persons, company or companies is 'Pagan'? Was I reading this message correctly?
Apparently, I was. Because after taking the evening off for a bit of personal spa time - a bubble bath, tan from a bottle maintenance (Eeks! Streaks!) and the semi-weekly clippin' of them toenails -- I returned to find a two hundred response thread. While I had been busy loofahing my elbows, a debate had broken out. Sigh. Okay, let's see what needs to be deleted then. I began to read the posts and I couldn't believe what I was seeing here. And when I type 'here', I mean here.
Right here on the TWV web site. Right here on Wren's Nest, I was not only accused of starting a witch war, my motive for posting the notice at all was deemed as 'somewhat suspicious'. And, I read on, surely the similarity in names was a mere coincidence... and even if it wasn't, there was no real harm intended. Some folks even (Take a deep breath, Wren.) offered to chip in and raise money for the owner(s) of the other site...
But that is what finally snapped me out of this pink fog spell that I had obviously been under. After more than six years of dedicated and free service to the Pagan communities -- of always being up front about what we were doing and why we were doing it this way -- these people, our friends and associates -- were (in effect) publicly refuting and disavowing my credibility and rallying support for the other party or parties.
I was stunned. I was devastated. And I was, quite literally, broken-hearted. I had taken the high road, I thought. Didn't make a long or sordid campaign of it. Just posted the facts. So whassup with this crap?
True, I had not posted all of the facts that we have in hand. And I had purposely not laid out on our site all of the steps that we had previously taken to curtail this very same and repetitive abuse of our name. Ya want 'em? Of course you do.
Did we give the benefit of the doubt and offer the owner(s) both the time and the opportunity to do the right thing? Yes, we did that. A couple of times and via the last two hosting companies doing business with this party or parties.
Okay, but surely, there was no deliberate attempt to 'trick' people into thinking that the other site was TWV! I mean, it is/was a Pagan site! A Pagan would never ever do something like that! Oh gosh me, no.
Well then, riddle me this one: If this is/was not a deliberate effort to use the good name and benefit from the high traffic volume of TWV -- and if that other site's 'disclaimer' is indeed true (This is "not Witchvox") -- then do explain to me how the words (taken from a June 5th snapshot of that site) "witchvox", "TWV", "witchvox" (Yes, it actually appeared twice), "witches' voice" and (my personal favorite) "Fritz Jung" just happened to end up imbedded in that other site's meta-tags? Is there some sort of seasonal migration involving large roaming herds of restless keywords that I am unaware of?
Ack! Enough already! Let's talk about something else! How's about a little story to help lighten up the tone?
Arise then, oh magical synchronicity dialogue bubble. Gather 'round, Witches. (Caution: Do not jump up and down while magical synchronicity bubble is engaged. Serious head injury may result. It also mucks up something in the time-space continuum.) Auntie Wren is about to tell you a little story about a time long, long ago. It goes something like this:
Mamby P. was a Witch. Being a Witch was no problem for her as most of the people in the village figured that if a village really had to have a Witch at all -- and as some folks like to tell it, most towns indeed had to have one in those days and it was usually a relative of theirs -- it was better to have the sort of Witch like Mamby P. -- who lived in a neat wee cottage and pretty much kept to herself -- than to have the sort of Witch that jumped out from behind a tree when one least expected it.
And after all, WItches are sort of useful, aren't they? I mean, should one of the local folks have a bit of a (uh) delicate situation... or maybe needed a little positive reinforcement... pat on the back...
Oh, all right dammit! Witches were supposed to be pretty darn good at problem-solving (cough, cough) if you know what I mean.
One day, Woo-Woo Beggins -- who was having a particularly bothersome problem (nudge, nudge) -- came to see Mamby P. It seems that Woo-Woo's neighbor kept stealing his crops. Now, not only was all of this crop-clipping rather annoying, the neighbor was also selling these crops in the market as if he had grown them himself. And to make matters even worse than that, when Woo-Woo tried to explain to people that he was being robbed of both corn and cob, it was he who was accused of not being a real... (Sorry. This part always chokes me up.)... farmer!
Woo-Woo needed some serious help with this one all right. And since every town and village that seemed to have a Witch also strangely enough never seemed to have a political candidate around when a person really needed one, perhaps Mamby P. could help Woo-Woo with his problem? Yes?
"Surely," said Mamby P. "Why don't you invite your neighbor to join us here tomorrow night for a spot of tea and a bowl of cabbage and newt stew and we'll see what happens."
"Are you going to put a spell on him?" asked Woo-Woo, wondering just how far she could cast one of those things anyway.
"No," said Mamby P.
Woo-Woo: Are you going to poison him?
Mamby P: (snappishly) Of course not!
Woo-Woo: A poppet then...
Mamby P: Never was one much for stitchin'.
Woo-Woo: Maybe you could conjure up a haint to scare him...
Mamby P: Well, that's really more the job of one of them tree-jumpin' Witches...
Woo-Woo: Say, do you Witches really turn people into...
Mamby P: Look, it's just dinner. Okay. Dinner. We'll all sit down and pretend that none of this ever happened...
Woo-Woo: Uh...it's still happening actually.
Mamby P: I see. In that case, we'll all sit down and pretend that none of this ever happened and none of this is still happening and...
Woo-Woo: Wait a minute. Aren't you going to...well... do something?
Mamby P: Look, maybe you think it's easy to whip up a cauldron of cabbage and newt stew on such short notice, but let me tell you....
Woo-Woo (looking out the window): Uh, my neighbor just stole all of your cabbages. And I think -- really hard to tell in this light -- Yep, I'm pretty sure that's your cat he's got tucked there under his arm.
Mamby P: Oh? Well, that changes everything then, doesn't it? (hesitates) Soooo... how do you like your newt? I generally prefer mine medium-rare with a dash of red pepper. Cook 'em any longer than that and you might as well just eat crackers.
But there was no answer. Woo-Woo had left the building. He was next seen looking for a good political candidate who was willing to pass some legislation designed to stem the flow of faux-farming and the illegal trafficking of contraband cabbages and cats.
And of course, the word got around (Some say that many of the resulting witch-hunts were actually politically motivated.) that Witches like Mamby P. really didn't do much of anything except maybe putter around in the garden now and again and make quite lovely scented soaps. And gradually, there were less and less Witches (who claimed that they could solve problems but really couldn't) and more and more political candidates (who claimed that they would solve problems but usually didn't) in the villages until today, there are hardly any Witches left in the world at all.
And although one sometimes hears rumors of a clandestine clan of tree-jumping Witches, the real tragedy here is that no one really knows how to make a good cabbage and newt stew anymore. (The End.)
There that's better. Everybody's in a feel-good mood again. You know, I can never decide if this was actually a sad story told in a funny** sort of way or a funny story told in a sad sort of way. But do feel free to pass it around if you'd like. Since many modern day Pagans and Witches seem to be drawn towards the entertainment business, it might even make a cute one-act play. Think of the great wardrobe possibilities!
And since stories like these are relatively timeless in nature, you could set the scene in any era that you wished to... Past, Present, Future...
Of course, you might have to tweak up that ending a bit. It needs a really snappy and updated hook line. Because, as we all know, not that many modern day Pagans or Witches (except for those darn tree-jumping kind of Witches) would think it tragic at all that no one really knows how to make a good cabbage and newt stew anymore...
And we prefer our milque served up with lots of sugar... and maybe a few cookies.
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, August 4th., 2003
** Yes, I have been reading Terry Pratchett again. Yes, I understand that I am not in the same league at all.
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