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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.

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Article ID: 2290

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Age Group: Adult

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Definitely NOT Like In The Movies

Author: Dana D Eilers
Posted: March 14th. 1999
Times Viewed: 14,024

In the first issue of CASTINGS, Editor Roy Burkhart brought us face to face with our future by giving the thoughts of the teen pagans among us a forum for their wants and their needs. Admittedly, I have already met most of these currently youthful spirits and so to me, there are faces with bright and shining eyes to match the words on the page. Although I have spoken with them at CWP, responses to specific questions at CWP can become blurred in the general brouhaha of a CWP session. Hopefully, the response here will not be frayed around the edges.

Since the coming of the Romans and their mighty legions, since the appearance of the gentle rabbi from Nazareth and his followers, and since the word of the Allah made itself known in the voice of Mohammed, there can be no better time to be PAGAN.

You live in the nearly twenty first century, and you live in America: you have the benefit of the First Amendment which speaks of religious freedom and which guarantees it to you. The courts of this nation have taken some of the first steps in recognizing the rights of pagan folk: the federal appellate courts and the United States Supreme court have issued decisions which set the precedents for acceptance of your belief systems within the greater community. The IRS and the armed forces both recognize Wicca. This is not to say that Wicca is the only pagan form of spirituality which is acceptable, but what it does say is that if there is room for one, then surely, others cannot be far behind.

Historically speaking, the young pagans live in what must be, since the coming of Gaius Julius Caesar, the first society to accept the fact of ruggedly independent paganism. So, stand tall and be proud. Most of you appear to be "old souls" who, recognizing this freedom, have chosen to reincarnate and to bask in this newfound freedom and acceptance. Welcome back! Do not be deceived by your seeming youth: you are older than you know, and you are recognized. And even if you are not an old soul, enjoy the ability to be what you are.

Examine closely the things which have brought you here. What has motivated you to seek out this path, this community? What stirs your hearts and souls and minds to paganism? Are there "voices" in the tall grass, among the trees, from deep in the rivers, or amongst the winds that call to you? Voices which you recognize? Follow them. Converse with them. Listen to them, and let your heart speak freely its response. There are connections to be made there...vital connections which, unless you acknowledge them now, you may spend years trying to re-establish later. Have you experienced the presence of a Divine Consciousness somewhere in your lives? Then rest assured that this Divine Consciousness is also aware of you.

Just as you are open to experiencing the larger reality, so is the larger reality waiting to experience you. It is not hard. It is as simple as taking the time out of your busy life to establish interior silence and listening for what speaks to you in that stillness. It is as simple as a few honest and heartfelt words spoken aloud deep in the night when the world is quiet.In most cases, there is just no substitute for prayer. And your discourse with the Divine Consciousness can be unspoken or spoken, shouted or whispered, sung or spoken, but just DO IT.

For many of us, being pagan began as a spiritual quest, and it has eventually become a social and cultural experience which has seeped into every aspect of our lives. It permeates all that we do: from our choices in clothing to our choices in home decorating, from the food we eat to how we organize our free time. The fact of being pagan becomes something which we experience every day and every minute of our lives: it is not something that we visit once monthly and then forget about. Rather, it is an experience which we are LIVING.

This is not to say that we are crazed fanatics who talk about nothing else and who proselytize at airports and who seek converts. Such forms of behaviour are, by and large, as annoying to us pagan folk as it is to anyone; hence, we do not engage in them. However, our pagan values and experiences have a deep and vast effect on us which is apparent in most aspects of our lives. It is what makes us so recognizable to one another.

Even without my identifying jewelry or other open and apparent hallmarks, I am recognizable to other pagans in other places as a pagan woman. If the phrase "You are what you eat" has any validity, then in this case, the phrase "You become what you believe" also has validity. You are the magic. Do not forget this.

Simply accept a few little things: you will study, experience, learn and grow in this reality for as long as your spirit is housed in the skin you now inhabit. Being pagan is not a static experience. It is a dynamic process: just when you become satisfied with what you think you know, you will be jolted by the universe into an awareness of what you do NOT know.

When this happens, do not be intimidated and do not panic! Rejoice! There is more for you to discover and to learn. It keeps your mind facile and your spirit resilient. You are not going to have the opportunity to sit around and do nothing: you are going to work hard.

If there is one thing that I know, one of the "reasons" why there are so many of us in this time and place is that our presence upon the breast of the Mother is about re-establishing the peace between the earth and it creatures and the vast shadow of humanity. If you are pagan, then you are one of the wake up calls for some nonpagan somewhere. It is your responsibility to teach by example, to re- awaken the balance, and to heal the hurts evident in our society and culture.

As one good friend of mine once said: "You can work either baneful magic or you can work healing magic." This choice is yours to make. Choose wisely.

There is no one to blame your mistakes on but yourself. Face up to that and be responsible for yourself. Take care of yourself and of your bodies. Eat right. Get enough sleep. Exercise. Breathe. Take regular baths. Finish school. Get jobs. Create beauty. Love one another. Read. Study. Experience. Be active in your communities as people.

Another pagan once said to me that after serving six months in a soup kitchen just as himself, it was that much harder for his co-workers to dislike him once they found out he was pagan. How very true this is. As you grow older, it becomes harder to establish the habits and behaviours which embody all of these things (especially the eating right and exercising part). Begin these disciplines young and keep them with you all your lives.

The greatest magical instrument is not a wand or a chalice or an athame or an amethyst geode. It is YOU. Take care of YOU. Then, you will be truly able to take care of others.

You have many choices within paganism which the other spiritual paths do not offer. Nowhere is this more evident than in the fact of sexual choice. Choice is the key word here.

Paganism accepts, respects, and loves people of all sexual orientations. Our lives are not motivated by guilt, shame, and fear. Although paganism is not a path of self abnegation, it is not a path of irresponsibility. Your actions, especially those which are of a physically intimate nature, have great consequence. Do not be goaded or pressured into anything. Neither pressure nor goad anyone else.

Hear and understand the word "No." Think before reacting to the word "Yes." Although this may be a moot point to some of you, take these words for what they are worth: our society recognizes eighteen as the age of consent. This is the age at which you may legally contract, sue in your own name, and be sued. This is the age when you may obtain health care without parental consent. It is the age at which you may marry without anyone else's approval. It is the age at which you may enter military service without the need for parental approval. At the age of eighteen, you are free to deal with the fact of venereal disease, HIV infection, and pregnancy without the NEED for involving your parents or anyone else, for that matter. To be truly responsible for yourself, you might wish to wait until you are eighteen before you indulge your carnal senses if only for the fact that until you are eighteen, you might have to ask your parents if you can get the shot which will cure your STD. If you are eighteen, you do not have to ask. Sometimes, waiting can be a good thing.

When you have questions for which you cannot seem to find answers, ask someone for help. This is not to say that any one individual has THE ANSWER. However, what they will have is perspective and possibly, some helpful hints.

In the end, paganism is not a place where enlightenment will be served to your like your entree at a five star restaurant. The more fitting example is that of smorgasbord dining. You will have to get up and serve enlightenment to yourself. Becoming "enlightened" (whatever that means), is your job. You do it. Others can help you. They can point you in the right direction. They can provide experiences for you to partake in, but in the end, this is for you to do.

And there are many, many paths up that mountain. Sneer at none of them. Try to experience as many of them as earnestly as you can. And if, in all your experience, you do not find a path which "speaks" to you, do not worry. Experiment! Create your own path up that mountain. The only things which limit you are fear and laziness.

Be active. Get involved. Be an example. Walk the talk. Words are cheap. Do what you say. Have integrity.

And finally, READ. Learn. Study. There should be a hunger and a thirst for knowledge which is almost unquenchable. Even if you are not a Celt, read some Celtic history. Even if you are not Wiccan, familiarize yourself with their magical practices. Even if you are not a shaman, learn how to induce trance and how to travel the astral realms.

An expansive theoretical framework and a vast experiential background can only be good things. You never know when you are going to come face to face with a situation which will require some familiarity with some little known or little practiced form of magic or theory or history. Knowledge and experience will make these moments more meaningful and recognizable to you. If you find yourself in ritual space with someone who is invoking Erzulie, you will be that much more aware if you know who Erzulie is and what she means to her believers. Being prepared is always a good thing!

Finally, in this community at least, there is a lot on the proverbial plate, so to speak. Get out there and be active, if you can. The older pagan folk (those of us who are not your peers) want the opportunity to get to know you, to experience you, and to pass on what we know to you. That way, none of this will ever be lost again. We understand that you do not have cars. We understand that maybe your families cannot find out right now. We shall help if we can. However, your presence is vastly rewarding and rejuvenating to us.

Walk among us. We need you just as you seem to need us.

Blessed Be!

Dana D. Eilers


Dana D Eilers

Location: North Chatham, Massachusetts

Author's Profile: To learn more about Dana D Eilers - Click HERE

Bio: Dana D. Eilers is a 1981 cum laude graduate of The New England School of Law and a licensed attorney in the states of Massachusetts, Missouri, and Illinois. She is a practicing eclectic Witch/Wiccan who lectures and teaches on a variety of pagan topics to both pagans and non-pagans. She is a founding member of The Omnistic Fellowship, a pagan church which is incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in the state of Missouri and is also a founding member of CAST: Council for Alternative Spiritual Traditions, a pagan leadership council in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the creator of CONVERSATIONS WITH PAGANS, a monthly forum addressing topics of interest to pagans, non-pagans, and the pagan curious. Dana is also a published author with articles appearing in SAGEWOMAN, CIRCLE NETWORK NEWS, THE PATHFINDER, and CASTINGS, the journal of CAST. Her poetry and fiction has appeared in GOODWITCH STORIES and in CASTINGS. Dana is both an ordained Wiccan Priestess and ordained minister with the Universal Life Church. She is a founding member of WildHaven, a three-day pagan festival celebrating the autumnal equinox and currently serves on the WildHaven Steering Committee. (Ack! When do I have time for a LIFE????)

WitchCraft on the Big Screen

by Will Clark

This is a serious look at the impact of the media on our lives, especially our wiccan and pagan ways. Especially upon the lives of the young and impressionable among us, too inexperienced yet to reliably distinguish fact from fiction (are any of us that experienced, though?). Adults, at least, are a little more set in their ways - though we will deny it! - and thus less prone to being manipulated. This piece will focus on the impact of television and the movies, as visual imagery is by far the most dramatic for people.

When you breach the topic of media influence, may different responses will be elicited. An elderly witch might not be impressed at all, having been raised without any TV at all - or, at most, a couple of bland network sitcoms. I am middle aged myself and happened to have grown up mostly in Europe (as an Exxon brat), where the television was minimal at best. The first time I saw Bonanza in English, I was quite offended that their voices did not fit the characters!

In the modern day, TV and movies have a far more encompassing affect upon school age children. Being conversant in the events of the latest episode of some serials is practically a rite of passage in many social situations. A child who is not current may be shunned by her peers, or even outcast. It seems quite absurd for it to be that way, but it happens.

Of course, adults are not immune from this kind of affect either. Popular TV shows and hit movies often form the core of office encounters, and sometimes even form a kind of office "language" in many ways. In my own situation, as an engineer, if you're not a devout "trekkie" then you might as well be; well, a real geek.

Many adults become so enamored with some series that they know the characters better than their own family. You know the feeling - when it's days before someone close to you notices a new hairdo or beard or dress or eyeglasses. Yet, there is an instant response when a favorite TV character sports a new style of bobble. Culturally, we place movie stars and actors, actresses upon such a high pedestal that anything they do or say or thing is bigger news than anything in our modest lives. Hundreds of magazines and newspapers are devoted to covering their activities.

These media personalities not only clamor for our attention but set our styles too: not just what we say but what we wear, drink, and drive. In so doing, they affect our view of the world. My favorite example if this is the way the cameramen and photographers never show Vice President Gore's bald spot, which is actually quite prominent. Still, have you ever seen it shown? If not, pay a little more attention and observe how the cameras always show his best side.

If you did not think, at the beginning of this little essay, that the media affected your life very much, perhaps you feel a little differently now. The impact will be even greater for people with less education (so as an educated, worldly adult do not assume that a small child or a bottom of the run blue collar worker will be affected the same as you). This is not to say that the effect is always bad; far from it. I just want to point out that, like it or now, the affect is always there.

Now, for the positive side of the issue. There have been quite a few movies about wiccan and pagan topics in the last year. The TV series Roar in the fall of '97 was fun; Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a raging success; Charmed has been very well received too. The TV production of Merlin was reviewed favorably, as have any number of other productions about witches. Countless other shows have on a regular basis featured wiccan topics in an other than central-theme aspect.

The result is a resurgence of interest in things wicca. Many books have been published on the topic, some selling quite well. Inevitably this all has led to an increased understanding of the general public of witches, and along with that a new dialog on the topic - and, hopefully, the beginning of a new level of acceptance.

What is the effect of all this, though, upon our daily lives, as witches, druids, or pagans? It's nice to be a little less fearful of telling others about our way of life and beliefs, isn't it? It feels good to see a quality production about witchcraft on the big screen, too.

The issue, however, concerns the accuracy of the depictions. Hollywood tends to exaggerate everything - even an enchanting myth is inadequate, without some extreme special affects thrown in to mesmerize the audience and tantalize the emotions. It all makes for some very good film footage and dynamic box office receipts. But what is the ultimate affect upon we of the craft? Is this exaggerated publicity a good thing for us, or bad?

Returning now to the initial premise of this essay: these TV and movie productions do very much affect our lives, subconsciously or otherwise. Accepting that, to whatever degree suits you, then it is necessary to accept that these Hollywood productions do indeed leave a lasting impression, upon people of all ages. Again, especially school age children - more so when the productions star individuals of their own age.

Is it not hard to imagine that a fledgling wiccan might be disappointed that he or she cannot evidence the kind of power that, for example, the three charmed witches have. Divination, psychic powers, astral projection - you name it, we see them all done with the greatest of ease on the TV. How disappointing it must be to a young acolyte - indeed, to anyone greatly interested - not to have even a hint of these powers.

It's the classic teacher-pupil problem. You never want to show your student quite the extent of your knowledge, for fear of dispelling any hope of accomplishing a similar level of dexterity - be it in math, gymnastics, or computer programming. Whereas the media constantly bombard young wiccans with images of great power and accomplishment.

Sure, young athletes see the professionals in their sports or aspiring chess players see the grand masters at work. These are real cases, though. They are inspirational because the students see first hand how all their hard work can produce the desired result.

The movies, on the other hand, depict impossible feats that no amount of hard work can achieve. Sometimes it is obvious to anyone that the witchcraft is not for real - but what of the shows that lay it all out in a matter of fact, my neighbor is a witch manner; read a spell in a book, and poof; you accomplish wondrous things.

Despite all the good things that come out of the shows, the powerful psychological affect upon the wiccan community, by turning people away from the craft, when they could not even accomplish the simplest, most fundamental tricks with ease. No youngster who struggles with arithmetic dares to dream of becoming a physicist.

What is the answer? How to keep the good things, and fix the bad? After all, though they be subtle perhaps, all the power of wicca is undeniable - and still very good material for a quality big screen production. So educating the writers and producers is a first step. Chaperoning the young in our community is important - they need to know that Hollywood always exaggerates things. They need to hear us say so, often. They need to know that wicca, as a way of life, is not power over nature or of others, but power over yourself and the ability to become a happy, spiritual individual with the capacity to do great good in this world. Now, that is power - far, far more than any ninety minute production will ever have.

Will Clark

Other Articles: Dana D Eilers has posted 6 additional articles- View them?

Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE

Email Dana D Eilers... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)

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