Magickal Connections debuted on amazon.com today — #168,314 — a lot higher than I’d thought it would start at. (Wow.) Especially since The Virtual Pagan never broke one million. And there are already two reviews posted. Nice ones.

Allow me to glow, just a bit.

I’ve been contemplating my stance in and towards the world. Quite a while ago (in my 20s) I realized that I seem to follow a 7 year cycle of alternating between being introverted and extroverted. As near as I can tell, from birth to about 7 years of age, I was a fierce little tomboy of a girl who ran with the boys (and dominated them, mostly) reached out to make friends all over the place and was quite the little social being. Then I radically turned inward and just stopped doing anything like that until I was about 14. (Yes, life events bracketed both ends of that time period. No, I’m not going to talk about them here.) Then I got interested in being with others, especially boys, once again. I went out. I made friends (some of whom I kept for a more than a decade), I reached out to others and was available in a more visible way.

My 20s were introspective. At the time I was also preparing to manifest one version of the American Dream: picket fence surrounded house, kids, the secruity of being taken care of by a man. (It’s really weird to put that into print, you know? I mean, that person is SO not me now, but then it was very serious business.)

That first Saturn Return did its work. I was picked up, shaken like a rat in a terrier’s mouth and dropped once again into life with a lot more perspetive on what *I* wanted, as opposed to what I’d been told I wanted. Yay Saturn. Moving cross-country propelled me into a strange state of *needing* to reach out to others. I couldn’t do it in my environment very easily, so I found the ‘net and writing, and that led to my first book, and public speaking, and . . .

If you’ve been counting along, you’ll realize that I am in a weird place. I’m craving introversion, solitude, and privacy. But the demands of my vocation require me to create a certain level of public contact. For book promotion, yes. But that is not the prime motivator: reaching out to my community, learning from them and offering my knowledge in return is what I am manifesting. Now that I am in the 2nd half of this part of the cycle, I can see the tension this creates in me.

Last weekend I went out into the public and the result has been a desperate need for privacy since my return. Blessed J. for understanding and making space without even needing to be told. (A good thing, since its taken this week for me to understand the subtle depths of what’s been going through my back brain.) I’m supposed to be lining up speaking engagements and book signings and all that stuff. Instead, I’m reading books I’ve read a dozen times before (fantasy — the ultimate escape) and noodling about how to remodel the garage.

I’m not sure how to balance the tension, or harness it. I’m not sure I have to.

Magickal Connections is on the front page of WitchVox (http://www.witchvox.com).

w00t!

edit: it’s one of several books rotating on the front page. More importantly, its had 60k+ hits. My other two combined didn’t break 2k. *happy dance*

I really can’t abide anyone who claims to be a christian. This goes double for “catholics,” “Presbyterians” or anyone whose religion takes more than 6 letters to spell (or two syllables). Mostly this is because I grew up in the NorthEast (US) which, along with bureaucrats and homosexuals, has a disproportionately high number of smug catholics who seem to regard contemplating a bloody man as an act of religious piety (come to think of it, these three things frequently overlap) . . .  I have come to the conclusion that christians are evil, not because they have a hard time doing as much good in the world as they seem to think others should do, but because they have such appalling taste. I mean, take care of the poor, promote abstinence, and go to church on Sundays. But do you have to do it while wearing tweed jackets, frumpy dresses, and hats that belong to an age almost half a century ago?

I’m making a point here. The above is a re-write of the below paragraph with one word (and its associations) changed. It would have been even more pointed had I used African-American instead of ‘christian,’ wouldn’t it?

“I really can’t abide anyone who claims to be a pagan. This goes double for “witches”, “wiccans” or anyone who spells “magic” with a “k”. Mostly this is because I grew up in Canberra which, along with public servants and lesbians, has a disproportionately high number of smug hippies who seem to regard recycling as an act of religious piety (come to think of it, the three things frequently overlap)… I have come to the conclusion that pagans are evil — not because they get in touch with the devil or warp the minds of the young or are responsible for more bad heavy metal art than anyone else, but because they have such appalling taste. I mean, sure, get in touch with the Great Spirit, run through the woods and kill a goat. But do you have to do it while wearing crushed velvet harem pants, Robin Hood shoes, pentagram jewelery and a purple satin cape?”

From: “Bring back the witch hunt” by Brendan Shanahan, printed in Australia’s Daily Telegraph, March 2, 2007. http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,21308511-5001031,00.html

(My thanks to The Wild Hunt blog for pointing this out.)

What a blast! This is a great conference – with a clear emphasis on education. The people are wonderful, warm and welcoming; the topics intriguing; the setting perfect

That’s it in a nutshell. Want to know more? Read on.

There was a solid program on Friday – which I missed (but never again!), including a presentations on conflict resolution from Judy Harrow, building community from Jim Findley and Ethical Withcraft from Deirdre Norman. Absolutely the kinds of topics I would have enjoyed. I heard only good things about Harrow’s talk – apparently it drew a good-sized crowd who felt they learned a lot from her. (I don’t mention the other two becuase I didn’t hear anything, not to imply that they weren’t good.)

I also missed Deo’s talk (The Elemental Square of Opposition) at 9am on Saturday. (Mostly because I was trying to track down the status of my wayward baggage and frantically attempting to recreate my talk scheduled for 10:30. Turns out my talk was actually at 11:30, so I had time to hear the end of Andy Bigger’s talk on alternative approaches to ritual. I thought it was going to discuss ways of doing ritual – either structurally or mechanically – than what is common to much of Paganism. It turned out to be a lecture on the historical roots of ritual – and how what was once non-mainstream became codified. Interesting concepts

My talk went well, despite a lack of sleep a mild fever and a voice that occasionally went away. I drank about a gallon of water and pretty much blew through the three Cs of negative group dynamics – Cohesion, Conflict and Continuity. Yep, 3+ chapters of my book in about an hour. Whew! The group was a little slow to start, but we ended up getting some great questions discussed and I really enjoyed myself. (There were about 20 people there, a good crowd for such a small ‘con).

Afterwards, I went to lunch and ended up sharing a table with two participants. Psych from Spiral Nature (who came to my Cyber Paganism talk last year) and Liana (my apologies if I misspell your name – that’s what it sounded like and I never saw your badge to double check!). Amy Taylor, the programming coordinator joined us and we had a great time talking about the Con and how it’s grown over the three years it has been in existence.

Somehow, I’ve ended up committing to speak again next year—this time on the topic of Pagan Clergy (the next book I want to write, quite frankly). Can we have a clergy without physical structures, like churches? If so, what role would they fulfill? I’m looking forward to noodling about it and having an informed dialogue with such an interesting community.

I then joined a panel with Helmut, Pamela Fletcher and Amanda Hyde. Since Helmut is a blacksmith by trade, he travels throughout Canada and has a lot of contact with many different Pagan communities. Over this last year he was struck by how many witches he was meeting had no idea there was a larger community available to them. I was there because of my perspective as a witch who practices exclusively online, Pamela is a co-founder of TPC and a long time organizer of Kaleidescope (now in its 18th year), Amanda is the organizer of Hamilton PPD. All of us have a lot of experience with reaching out to our community, and beyond.

Some of the questions raised were: are we truly reaching out? If so, is it far enough? Is it possible we are worried about reaching people who don’t really want to be found (related to that comes the question: aren’t we a religion of self responsibility and Seekers? Shouldn’t others seek us, rather than being sought?)  Once woman brought up the fact that we used to go to bookstores to find out about what is going on, but the bookstores have closed down. I pointed out that what we are re-creating in cyberspace are the gatherings we had/have/want to have in physical life.

It was a good discussion – I’ll be interested to see what, if any, decisions arise from it.

Next year, I will plan to take more time off from work so that I can attend all three days. It’s a great ‘con in so many ways. As a presenter, I felt taken care of – they give us candles and incense as gifts. This is the first, and only, group that has ever – and I mean EVER – thanked me for presenting. The schedule is completed and posted almost a month beforehand, and it is not changed except for emergencies. The con, in its third year mind you, is not only breaking even, its paying off the debt from previous years.

Organized. Interesting. Educational. Fun. This is how I would describe TPC in a nutshell.

Oh! I almost forgot – the presentations are recorded onto a CD available for purchase. More than 25 lectures will be available after March 15th for $20 (Canadian, I think). Its one of the ways TPC raises money for the Con each year. I strongly recommend it (I know I’ll be buying one because I want to hear Harrow, Daniel Girard’s Building Community, and Michelle Belanger’s lecture on Dream Walking.)

I made it to Toronto yesterday — but my luggage apparent’y remained behind in Chicago. It was a tight connection to the last plane out, and I knew it was a 50/50 chance . . . and I lost.

The bad news is that they ‘can’t find’ my luggage, and in one hour I’m going to be presenting here at the Toronto Pagan Conference. My key talk, Magickal Group Dynamics, the one with a ton of handouts and detailed notes for me to follow so I get as much information as possible into a single hour. In my luggage are those handouts, business cards, and — most importantly — copies of my book. I was going to give one to Deo and another to Judy Harrow. Now, I have nothing.

Not even a toothbrush (which is mightily disgusting, let me tell you). I’m ignoring the ratty hair (thank goodness it isn’t long enough to mat, yet) and the slightly droopy clothes. This is because I was smart enough to wash my socks and ‘dainties’ in the sink last night and draped them over the heater. So, underneath, I am actually clean and comfy.

Sadly, I am running a fever and the head cold has not abated. I’d deal if my luggage were here, but its too much and I just want to go home.

Enough self-pity. I’ll post a real commentary about TPC after my talks.