Let's All Play Nice In The Sandbox...
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Article ID: 10441
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Lupa [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: January 15th. 2006
Times Viewed: 6,178
The Pagan (magical, occult, etc.) community is full of wonderfully creative people. Writers, artists, performers, musicians--many of us love to focus our spiritual and magical practices through our artistic processes. This enriches the community as a whole, spreads new ideas to others, and encourages the circulation of fresh energy throughout the entirety. If we were an entirely left-brain subculture, how boring we would be! (Of course, there are those who argue we aren't left-brain enough, but that's an article for another day.)
I myself am an artist and author. I know I'll probably never live off my creative pursuits, and that's just fine. I'm not in it for the money. And honestly, I'd be afraid that if I did try to depend on my creativity to pay my bills it'd stop being fun and start being just a job.
One thing that heartens me when I see it, both among Pagans and society in general, is support of creativity. In a place where we're often bombarded by mass production and one-size-fits-all beauty, it's good to see that in most places real creativity is still thriving, albeit not always where it's easily apparent.
The Pagan Support Network
In my experience the creative folk among Pagans tend to, for the most part, be wonderfully supportive of each other. Look at how many online communities and forums there are dedicated to the artistic endeavours we pursue. I made my own mark when I started Support Pagan Artists! a few years ago. Even though I had to relinquish control of the site later on due to time constraints, there were people willing not only to keep it going but also continue to keep the listserve associated with the site active.
Another site that is superb for inciting creativity is the Seventh Sanctum. While not specifically Pagan in nature it's quite Pagan-friendly. With artwork contests involving deity-forms and random assemblages of writing ideas, it's a definite boon for creative Pagans.
My own mate maintains the Occult Author Resource Page as a service to other authors. He does it for the desire to aid others in their writing projects.
These are just three examples of the many online places that encourage creativity among the Pagan community. In addition, many Pagan communities have meetings or online groups for local artists, writers and the like.
Pagan publishers and magazines both serve to get creative ideas into print. Along with the few larger book publishers that everyone knows about, there are dozens of smaller presses that often offer niche writings not available through more mainstream means. And as for magazines, the foci range from Pagan women to families to shamans to the Pagan community at large. Plus there are numerous online periodicals that can be perused by the public for free.
And then there are Pagan gatherings. Many host authors and other presenters who use the gatherings as a way to promote their ideas and teachings and to fuel insight on the part of participants. Some, such as Sirius Rising, even feature performances by bands and other such artists. And, of course, there are the fire circles, where drummers and dancers alike can show off their skills.
But all Pagans are integral to this process. After all, there need to be people who buy the books and magazines and CDs. Somebody needs to come to the seminars and gatherings. There must be readers and reviewers for the magazines. And special requests for custom work often inspire innovations.
Trouble in Paradise
Along with great creativity, Pagan artists and the like can sometimes possess great egos. The Pagan community can already be rather cliquish and snarky at times; artists are no less immune to insecurity. Ever notice how different authors and artists sometimes manage to gather camps around themselves, impromptu fan clubs? It wouldn't be so bad if they limited themselves to simply being fans--but occasionally petty rivalries and smear campaigns occur. "So-and-so says this, and that's just wrong! MY author prefers THIS. Therefore my author is right, and the other author is just stupid/insane/lost", for example. Or one artist will be accused of copying another’s style (often with no proof), and the drama starts all over again.
This is why, as an (admittedly newer) author myself, I discourage this sort of fannishness. If it were dependent entirely on the quality of a person's work, I wouldn't mind, but these things tend to get way too personal way too quickly.
Sometimes there is a reason for outcry. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are real issues that do affect Pagan artists (and the artistic community at large). For instance, Kyoht of http://www.kyoht.com states on her page "For example, a lot of net users have taken Grove of the Sun [one of her paintings], copied out the unicorn's right leg, rotated it, and used it to change the position of his left leg. This is not 'acceptable use'."* Practices such as lifting part or all of a person's writing and claiming it as your own verbatim, even if it appeared somewhere informal like a blog, also falls under the "unacceptable" category.
One of my goals as a writer and artist is to encourage as many other Pagans to take part in creative pursuits as possible. One way I do this is by including a guest essay and new artists in each of my books. The person who wrote the guest essay for my first book, Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic recently submitted his first book manuscript to a publisher. The artist who illustrated the book has received more commissioned work from the publisher as well. I consider that to be as big an achievement as writing my book in the first place.
One thing I've noticed is that it's a lot easier to tear someone down than build them up. I admit, I've been guilty of it myself. Some authors and other creative folk are commonly attacked for their viewpoints and creations. It's one thing to disagree. It's another thing to take it personally. My rule of thumb is this: even if I dislike something someone has created, I do try to find at least something I like about it. If nothing else, I at least acknowledge the work that went into creating it. To me, it may be utter drek, but to the artist it's a thing of beauty. You don't have to make yourself like something you hate, but at least be fair about it. Conversely, don't skip over faults in the works of someone you admire just because you don't want to hurt their feelings. If you use constructive criticism instead of destructive criticism you'll likely help that person out by showing where they can strengthen their work.
And finally, if you're an artist, be yourself. Don't try to be someone else. If you keep copying someone else's work, eventually they'll realize. Anyway, the point of creativity shouldn't, in my opinion anyway, be about fame or money. It's about expression of yourself. If it's not original, it isn't art.
Copyright: Copyright Lupa, 2006. Plagiarists will be eaten.
Location: Portland, Oregon
Author's Profile: To learn more about Lupa - Click HERE
Bio: Lupa is a twenty-something pansexual genderfluid chao-shaman in Pittsburgh (soon to relocate to Seattle with her partner, Taylor Ellwood) . She spends her time making artwork out of various natural found items, and her first book, “Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic” is due out from Immanion Press in Autumn 2006. Her current book project is on the topic of Otherkin. She welcomes all questions and comments at the email link below. She may also be found at http://www.thegreenwolf.com and on Livejournal as lupabitch.
Other Articles: Lupa has posted 25 additional articles- View them?
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