Who Ya Gonna Call...
Article ID: 6660
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,374
Times Read: 7,466
Posted: August 10th. 2003
Times Viewed: 7,466
Who Ya Gonna Call...
by Wren Walker
"Let us be silent that we may hear the whispers of the gods." *
Every good writer knows the drill. So does every bad writer. But the bad writers don't keep to it and that is generally why they are bad writers. Whether one is a novelist, journalist, reporter, blogger, poet or the all-powerful scribe of the weekly grocery list, there are certain questions that need to be asked. Most of these also need to be answered in some sort of satisfactory way. And it is in that space between the asking of the questions and the formation of the answers where the truly talented or insightful prove their mettle.
You probably learned the drill, as I did, in grade school. Somewhere between Dick and Jane (Yes, I am that old.) and Crime and Punishment, we all received that divine piece of scripture called 'The Five Dub-a-Yoos' or wwwww.thatmakessense.brain. They are: Who, What, When, Where and Why.
Sometimes just to keep our faces from freezing in that puckered-up lip position (like your mother always warned you that it would), we also throw in an H there at the end. Which really comes in handy since one of the most popular questions of all time seems to be "How the Hel Did This Happen To Me?"
Good writers keep those five W's (and probably the H, too) in mind as they write. They know that if those questions are not answered (or at least addressed), their readers will be left feeling unsatisfied. Unsatisfied readers do not buy the sequel. Unsatisfied readers often take revenge by becoming writers themselves. Good writers welcome the competition. Bad writers become literary critics. It's a verb eat noun kind of world out there in ISBN land.
If you have made it this far down the page, you probably can -- and do -- read. And in your quest for information or entertainment, you have probably come across at least one article about which the only thing you can rightfully say at its conclusion is, "Well, that was a complete waste of my time!" But did you understand why?
Well, chances are good that the author or writer skipped over a step in the drill. I see that response in the comments sections of Wren's Nest all of the time. Without perhaps consciously knowing the reason, astute readers and/or critical thinkers are intuitively aware of the gaping hole where one of those hard working Ws should be busy shoveling in the dirt.
So perhaps this is a little pet project that we can have some fun with over on the Nest. Is an article missing a big W? Which one (or two or three)? It is a good exercise in critical reading that can help us not only in our own writing (as in those response letters to the editors or authors), but also in the ways by which we as Pagans attempt to answer questions about our faiths, paths, practices and religions.
Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? We need to ask these questions of ourselves before we can provide intelligent and satisfying answers to someone else.
I get asked a lot of questions. The questions on religious rights or on how to find more information or about the basics of neo-Paganism, I can answer. But I also get a lot of questions from Pagans or potential Pagans that I cannot answer. I get the "this is what happened to me" emails and the "this is who did it to me" emails. I even receive a few thoughtful "where do we as Pagans come from and where are we as Pagans going?" letters. And I get a lot of that "How the Hel did this happen to me?" stuff.
I cannot satisfactorily answer questions on these more personal topics though because the only answer that I could give is one that is itself a question.
And thus far, I have not asked it. I have not asked because it could be interpreted as a deflection and I haven't asked -- although it is always there on the tip of my consciousness -- because I am not at all certain that anyone else would even know what I am talking about. And finally, I have not asked this question because no one seems to notice that one of those big Ws is missing from most Pagan conversations and articles and books and who am I to bring it up at all?
Well, I have decided to bring it up anyway. And I intend to ask it henceforth of anyone who writes to me for advice in personal spiritual matters. Because to me, if one cannot answer this question for oneself, then all of the answers from all of the other Pagans in the world will never be enough to fill in the gap. Without the answer to this W, the final 'article' -- which in this case, is you -- will never be completely satisfying and there will always be something missing.
What do your Gods say?
Without knowing the answer to that question, I cannot help you. Neither can anyone else. And I cannot ask that question for you. Neither can anyone else. And I cannot answer that question for you and neither can anyone else. You have to call upon your Gods and ask it for yourself.
Now this is where it gets a little bit dicey. If you are like me, you have probably seen and heard about a lot of weird stuff that happened because a 'God' apparently told a person to do such-and-such a thing. Really bad PR for all of the sane Gods out there. And for all of the sane people who talk to the sane Gods. So I can understand why most sane people would be rather hesitant to be going around saying, "Well, My (very sane) Gods told me to do such-and-such a thing."
The nutballs have sort of spoiled it for the rest of us.
And I suppose that is one reason why we have built up such a cult of personalities in the Pagan communities. We all know what Starhawk says about this or what Scott Cunningham said about that. Our Pagan 'celebs' too often seem more real to our people than do the Gods Themselves. Because we do talk -- and fight and argue and debate -- continually about what Starhawk says or what Scott Cunningham said or what (fill in the blank here) says. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
But we don't talk about what our Gods say.
And for a spiritual people, that is rather odd, don't you think? Is it any wonder then that fledgling Pagans snap up every new book that comes along hoping to find therein an answer to the question that no one is asking. Well (Listen up Fledglings!), here is one W that even the best author or Vanna White can't flip over for you:
What do your Gods say?
Writers -- if they write often enough and sincerely enough -- eventually 'find their voice'. Their style and phrasing and rhythm become recognizable throughout their works and that familiar 'voice' is what fans resonate with and what keeps them coming back for more. It is much like walking into a room where the television is on and you can tell which actor or news anchor is speaking even before you look at the screen. You recognize the voice because you have been exposed to it over and over again.
And that is what it is like to speak with the Gods. Over time, you can come to recognize Their 'Voice'. By reading Their stories (And please tell me that you have actually read Their stories and read these from the primary sources whenever possible!), you begin to 'tune in' to Their Voices.
As time goes on, it becomes easier and easier to pick out Their Voices from all of the other voices in the world that are clamoring for your attention. And that includes the voices of the Pagan celebrities of the hour who can only tell you what they heard from their Gods (And, forgive me if I am being deliberately optimistic about that...) and not what your Gods desire to say to you.
One particularly useful nutball/charlatan screening device is based upon an old -- and sadly out of Pagan fashion these days -- occult practice. It is one that however has found favor with child protection experts. It is the secret password or name.
Parents are advised to establish a code word or phrase within the family. Any stranger then who approaches the child with a 'message' from or about the parents -- and tries to lure the child to go with him/her -- without using the secret code is not to be believed. I recommend that parents and children set up such a system. I also think that Pagans should do the same with their Gods.
I have a secret name and always have. No one -- not even Fritz or the cats -- knows what it is except for my Gods and Ancestors. I also have an occult password of sorts. One of my pet peeves is being approached by folks who have a message for me 'from the Gods'. Well, if it is from MY Gods -- and They are really the only Ones who would be conducting any business with me anyway -- then the 'messenger' will have the occult password. During this current lifetime only three people -- and all of these are Adepts in my acquaintance -- have ever spoken the password in such a context.
Incidentally, no human has ever been told my secret name by Those who know it. Thus when I 'hear' my secret name being 'spoken', I know something of import is about to come down. It really works and I highly encourage the use of a similar safeguard system for all new Pagans or budding occultists.
While the Old Ones speak as They will to whomever They will, I usually hear my Gods speak as a chorus. I know the Voice of my Gods because I have spent a lifetime (perhaps several) asking Them questions and listening for Their answers. And I recognize Their Voices whenever and wherever I hear Them. This pretty much keeps me away from the nutballs and the charlatans.
This also kicks in sometimes when I am reading. I'll just be skimming along hearing the text in my own mental voice or in the 'voice' of the author and suddenly a sentence will reverberate in that Chorus Voice. Whoa! Better go back and read that one again. I am guided to pay particular attention to this. Why usually then reveals itself in short order.
As some of the Original Authors, They are my Primary Source and I am never ashamed to state that this is so. The Gods are Good Writers. The Gods know the W drill. Heck, They probably invented the W drill.
And although it must have been we humans who added that H thingie there at the end, The Gods have even been known to respond to my own personal (and usually whiney) "How the Hel Did This Happen To Me?" query.
Laughter -- as They like to remind me -- is so very good for the soul...
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, August 25th., 2003
* Ralph Waldo Emerson
Location: Tampa, Florida
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