Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pagan Accessibility


I can remember, as a child, being fascinated by all things magical.  The library offered an edited selection of information, mostly on mythical animals and the history of the Salem Witch Trials, but that was it.  My mother, on the other hand, had a personal library of the occult which was, technically, off limits to the kids and as such, impossible to resist.  She kept her books up on the highest shelf of the bookcase, next to impossible for a child to reach without a concerted effort.  She also kept her copy of The Joy of Sex and the Kama Sutra up there, and I'm fairly certain she'd be mortified if she knew that it was the worst kept secret ever.  Ah the '70's.

Months ago I was at a local esoteric shop (shoppe?) purchasing The Way of the HedgeWitch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock.  As the clerk accepted my money, he commented that he could remember when he would have had to wrap the book in paper before it left the store.  This seemed so bizarre to me for such an innocuous topic as hedge witchery, but there you go.  Today information on the occult and paganism can be found very easily, and is not kept hidden like goofy 70's porn.  Bookstores dedicate entire sections to the occult.  Half-Priced Books is a dream for young witches on a budget.  The Internet is inundated with sites offering history, spells, supplies and (ahem) pagan blogs.  Even my local library has a much broader selection than the library of my childhood.  My own collection of occult literature, while admittedly in a more discreet section of my bookshelves, is not hidden like a dirty little secret, and is well within reach of anyone seeking knowledge. 

The downside to this ease in accessibility is that there is very little filter on the information.  Con artists can take advantage of the desperate seeker or the novice practitioner.  The darker aspect of the craft becomes readily available to those not mature enough to deal.  While knowledge is power, there really is no clear path, no Paganism 101, for those new to the Craft to follow (actually, Googling "paganism 101" will get you many, many beginner sites).  The true joy of paganism is that it is, mostly, a self-guided religion, but with the accessibility of pagan information comes a certain responsibility, and common sense.  If a spell sounds too good to be true, or if the ingredients are bizarre, expensive and only available through a particular website, move on.  The truth is there if you search hard enough.

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