Pantheacon, Bringing Race to the Table, and Racism

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Note: I’m cross posting this blog entry to my website, as well as on this blog.

I’ve just gotten back from Pantheacon. It’s been a transformative weekend, with new acquaintances made, friendships deepened, and good conversation and spiritual work done. One of the events I was proud to be part of was the Bringing Race to the Table Panel, where we discussed the recent anthology Bringing Race to the Table. Unfortunately, before the panel even began, a situation occurred where a racist joke was released in a satirical newsletter. The newsletter wasn’t an official pantheacon newsletter, but something done by individuals as a way to humorously comment on the proceedings of the convention (Its the Pantycon newsletter). In this case however, there was nothing funny about what was written. If anything, it highlighted exactly what people of color deal with everyday, and the fact that this occurred at a Pagan convention shows that racism is a reality no matter where you go. The joke in question was a fake workshop:

“Ignoring Racism: A Workshop for White Pagans
Large Umbrella Pagan Group

Isn’t all this talk of social justice and racism just tiring? Don’t you wish you could just ignore it and put out meaningless statements of pure pablum? We’ll discuss how to ignore requests for consideration by pagans of color, cover up racist actions of high-ranking members, and pretend that you don’t understand the resulting outrage. Remember, #AllLivesMatter, except  when it’s uncomfortabe or inconvenient.
Large Umbrella Pagan Group has been around for long enough that they think they can get away with this stuff.”

This joke is tasteless. Regardless of what the intention of the person or people writing it was, the result was that people of color felt triggered once again. This joke was a form of harassment (to put it mildly) and of racism.

Pantheacon has an anti-harassment policy. The head of programming showed up to the panel and made it clear that Pantheacon didn’t endorse or approve of what had been written. Additionally they had a cancelled workshop on Monday and made sure a follow-up session was made available of Pagans of Color and other people interested to discuss what happened and what could be done to make conventions safe. I was unfortunately not able to attend because I had to catch my flight back.

At the end of the Bringing the Race to the Table Panel, one of the attendees, Luna Pantera, who has contributed to Shades of Faith and Shades of Ritual got up and expressed how she was triggered by what had been written in that newsletter. The pain in her voice, the rage, the hurt, the fear is something that I as a white person have never had to experience. Then she asked all of us what we were going to do to take action, to make change, to stop letting this be an everyday reality.

What she expressed struck me to my core. It reminded me of the privilege I have, the white bubble I live in everyday. I take it for granted. But a person of color can’t take it for granted anywhere. In Shauna Aura Knight’s post she shares how an escort system was set up so Pagans of Color could feel safe and how people would walk by the POC hospitality Suite and yell Racist because the Pagans of Color wanted a safe space.

On Sunday night, after I’d finished up with the Immanion Press panel, I walked by the POC hospitality suite. They were going to have a closed door meeting, just available for them and what I noticed is that they were redirecting people coming to it, to go to another location. I didn’t follow because it wasn’t my business to, but it struck me how a space that was supposed to be safe was no longer because of racism.

Luna asked all of us what we were going to do to change this. I can’t answer for anyone else, but my own answer is to continue to call racism out, continue to take action to support people of color and to support causes that perform a similar function. We can only stop racism if we don’t allow it to flourish in any form, but instead recognize how it causes inequity, how it reinforces a system of oppression and how it diminishes all of us. What will you do to take action?

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Bringing Race to the Table: Exploring Racism in the Pagan Community is now available

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I’m pleased to announce that our latest anthology: Bringing Race to the Table: Exploring Racism in the Pagan Community is now available for pre-order and will be published on January 23rd.

Bringing Race to the Table: Exploring Racism in the Pagan Community is an anthology which explores the topic of racism and how it shows up in the Pagan community, as well as what we can do to discuss it and bring it out in the open. Each section of the anthology explores different facets of racism and how the Pagan community respond to it. Section 1: People of Color’s experience with Racism shares candid stories of how people of color have experienced racism in both subtle and overt forms, as well as how they have handled it. Section 2 Historical/Mythological Racism focuses on how Racism has shown up in mythological and historical contexts, as well as how it continues to show up in counter cultures. The final section: Being an Ally focuses on sharing suggestions and ideas on how white people can be better allies to people of color and how to be more aware of racism in both the Pagan and mainstream communities.

With essays from Xochiquetzal Duit Odinsdottir, T. Thorn Coyle, Crystal Blanton, Clio Ajana, Erick Dupree, Amy Hale, Lilith Dorsey, Lasara Firefox Allen and many others, this anthology explores racism and offers opportunities for us to engage this topic and proactively work to change our communities for the better.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives matter

At Immanion Press, one of our missions is to support social justice causes in the Pagan community. This is one of the reasons we’ve published anthologies such as Shades of Faith, Shades of Ritual, Rooted in the Body Seeking the Soul, and will soon be publishing Bringing Race to the Table. In the wake of recent events where unarmed black people such as Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice are murdered by White police officers, with no justice brought to the offenders, we reaffirm our social justice mission to continue to bring to light the issues that need to be discussed in the Pagan community and in the mainstream communities. We stand with our author Crystal Blanton, in support of her and her mission. We align ourselves with the statement Black Lives Matter and reaffirm our stance to support social justice causes that create equity for all, especially for marginalized and oppressed groups of people. We see you and we value you.

Why we publish Non-Fiction Anthologies Part 2

book_rooted_in_the_body_small In the previous post, I shared some of the history behind why Immanion Press has published the particular anthologies we’ve published. Now I want to share the rest of it and discuss how these anthologies fit into the core ideology of Immanion Press. After Shades of Faith came out, there was a lot of positive reaction to it, enough so that it got listed in Huffington Post’s 2012 list of Pagan books to read, along with another of our titles Graeco-Egyptian Magick. It made me happy to hear this. in 2013, at Pantheacon, Crystal and I chatted about Shades of Faith and she told me that her and some of the other contributors wanted to put out another anthology called Shades of Ritual, which would be a continuation of Shades of Faith, but would focus specifically on the spiritual practices of the contributors. It sounded interesting and when she asked if Immanion would be up for doing another anthology, I told her we would. I didn’t assume that she’d automatically want to place it with us, because as I tell all my authors, we never assume that your next book will come to us (and I’ll explain that further in my next post), but she told me that both she and the contributors had really liked how we worked with them. They felt respected by Immanion and our hands off approach to the editing. We respected their voice and how the writing needed to appear, as opposed to trying to sanitize it in order to sell it to the lowest common denominator. So Crystal and I came to an agreement and it was decided Immanion would publish Shades of Ritual. Now there was something very important about this moment…

For the last few anthologies, I’d played a particular role…I saw a need for an anthology on a topic and I approached someone to edit and I backed off and let them do what they needed to do. This time…someone approached me and told me what they wanted to do and I loved it. I loved it because what it demonstrated was something essential the Immanion Press ideology and brand: We empower our authors to be successful, to be heard in their voices…and to me to have someone else say they wanted to do an anthology was a signal that the brand and ideology were doing exactly what they were supposed to do. I’m actually in the process of doing the layout for Shades of Ritual and I’m really excited about this book. I’ve copy edited the essays and I’m really impressed at what is being expressed in it and how the various voices of the contributors speak to their own experiences as people of color in the ritual work they do.

Over the summer of 2013, I noticed a lot of focus on the topic of racism and it got me to thinking that while we’d published one anthology on People of Color and their perspectives on Paganism and another one was being worked on, we hadn’t focused on that topic of Racism. Racism is a charged topic, but I felt Immanion needed to contribute to the conversation and how better than to do another anthology, this time focused on racism. I got a hold of Crystal and bounced the idea off of her. She thought it was a good idea and asked who the editor would be. I said I didn’t know for sure, but she told me she’d be willing to edit, but only if there were co-editors. I said ok, and then she told me I had to be one of the co-editors. I was surprised at that and I asked her why and she told me, “Because you’re doing a lot of work in the background that no one really knows about and you obviously care about these issues. I want you to edit because I want people to know the role you’ve played in the anthologies.” I didn’t expect that answer and didn’t know how to respond. I’d never done any of this for recognition and in fact didn’t feel that any such recognition should come my way. I’ve written books, so its not like people don’t know my work and the whole point of these anthologies was to focus on these social issues. Plus I felt that one of the best ways I could help was to simply be in the background, helping to facilitate. Nonetheless she insisted that I had to be one of the editors…so I agreed, with the understanding that she’d be the contact person. We also agreed that Brandy Williams could be another editor for this topic since she was doing some research around these issues herself. She happily agreed and currently we’re in the process of starting to edit the anthology Bringing Race to the Table, which will explore the issue of racism and the Pagan community in more depth.

In February of 2014 I met Shauna Aura Knight for the first time in person. I’d seen her online, but we’d never chatted. I briefly saw her at Pantheacon and because we were going to be at Convocation the flowing weekend, we agreed to meet up for lunch or dinner and talk about writing, publishing and the Pagan community. We met for lunch and over the course of three hours we bonded over topics that included writing, magical mishaps, pagan leadership and ritual facilitation. By the end of our discussion I asked she’d be interested in co-editing an anthology with me on Pagan Leadership (We’re still taking submissions). I was impressed with her take on the topic and as always I was also curious as to what other people would say…and of course I have my own take on that topic I’d like to share.

Our anthologies are reflective of our core ideology. They are quality works that contribute to our readers and to the community we are apart of. They are works designed to raise awareness and empower the writers. The creation of these anthologies is a labor of love by all involved, because we want our readers to have access to ideas that make them think about their community and get involved in the conversations that can make it better than ever before.

Why we publish Non-Fiction Anthologies Part 1

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Immanion Press has been publishing Non-Fiction Anthologies since 2006. Initially our Non-Fiction Anthologies were focused on practical magic. Magick on the Edge, Manifesting Prosperity, and the Pop Culture Grimoire are examples of such anthologies. We wanted to publish anthologies that featured the edgy works of contemporary magicians doing magic differently, which makes sense, because for the non-fiction line that’s a big part of the core ideology. But eventually, as the non-fiction line matured, we switched focus to some degree. We decided to start focusing our anthologies on cultural and social issues within the Pagan and Occult community, recognizing that such issues were often ignored or briefly alluded too, but not dealt with in-depth by any publisher…and that many writers who wanted to write on such topics didn’t necessarily feel supported because such topics aren’t guaranteed sellers.

In publishing so much of the emphasis is on marketable books that well sell to droves of people, but the problem with this approach is that when you only focus on marketing books that you think will sell lots and lots of copies, you miss out on really getting to know the needs of your market. While there is a need for 101 book, which will always sell to people looking for such book, there’s also a need to feed the soul of the community and that soul won’t be found in 101 books, but will be found in books that deal with the cultural and social issues that our communities grapple with.

Lupa who is the author of DIY Totemism (among other books) first led the charge into these cultural and social issues, with the anthology Talking About The Elephant, which dealt with issues of cultural appropriation in the Pagan and occult communities from multiple angles. While you could find this issue discussed in academia, until that anthology came along the Pagan and Occult community had not seen a published work on the topic, again because its not a guaranteed seller. However, while as a small press, it is important to us to have some degree of profit, we feel its even more important to publish topics that get people to think and to examine what they do and how they do it. Or as the case may be to get people to examine where their practices really come from and how they are approaching those practices. I like to think that Talking About the Elephant has helped to raise the conversation and awareness of the community around the issue of cultural appropriation.

In 2008, I met Brandy Williams, who is the author of Ecstatic Ritual. I’d read an old edition of the book, which was one of the few books on sex magic written by a woman magician and when I found out she lived in Seattle and that one of my other authors knew her, I requested an introduction. We met at a Shinto shrine in Everett, Washington and I talked with her about Ecstatic Ritual. I knew it was out of print and I asked her if she’d be willing to consider bringing it back into print with Immanion Press. Happily, she was interested in republishing the book with us and consequently we brought it into print. But I had another agenda for meeting with her and I told her what it was: I wanted to publish an anthology of essays from woman occultists who’d be willing to speak to their experiences in the occult community. I felt that such experiences were underrepresented and she agreed. I had one problem though and it was one only she could solve. I needed an editor for the anthology. It couldn’t be me, because I’m a man, and I didn’t feel that I could bring the level of awareness and understanding that the anthology and its contributors deserved. When Brandy heard this, she agreed to be the editor and told me that it actually dovetailed with some of the work she was doing in the community. We published the anthology in 2009, and like Talking About the Elephant it continued the tradition of bringing the attention of the community to the social issues that we need to address in order for our community to evolve.

I met Crystal Blanton in 2010, when she approached me about publishing Bridging the Gap. While we discussed her book, I told her about another anthology I wanted to publish, which focused on people of color speaking to their experiences in the Pagan and Occult communities. However, just as with Brandy, I had a problem that only Crystal could solve. I needed an editor for the anthology who could bring the right awareness to the issues. I couldn’t do it, because I’m a white man. I know that my perspective and awareness was limited by virtue of that and the unearned privilege I’d always had in my life. So I asked her if she’d be willing to edit the anthology and she agreed. As a result we published Shades of Faith and currently Crystal is wrapping up another anthology, Shades of Ritual, which extends the focus even further in this direction. What I noticed, when Shades of Faith was published, is that there was an immediate response to the anthology, which spoke again to the needs of our communities in ways that weren’t being met by any other publisher. I’d like to think that anthology helped contribute to some much needed conversation that is currently happening in our communities.

Our most recent anthology Rooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul, edited by Tara “Masery” Miller who I’ve not had the pleasure of yet meeting, is an anthology that focuses on the perspectives of Pagans and Occultists with disabilities. I approached Tara about editing it a year or so ago, again because I wanted to see the anthology come into print and again because I needed someone who understood the people writing about their experiences in a way that I, as of yet, do not. I hope that this anthology will spark similar conversations as the others have, because I feel that by having it and the other anthologies what we really do is bring awareness to our community that teaches us not to take for granted what our community is or could be.

All of these anthologies have been published, not because we at Immanion expect tons of income to result, but because we genuinely believe that these anthologies contribute to our community and provide all of us different perspectives we might otherwise ignore or miss out on. I’m proud of the anthologies we publish because they speak to the dedication of the people who have contributed articles, speak to the needs of our community in discussing the issues that the articles bring up, and help all of us have much needed conversations to move our community into healthy directions. I am proud of the editors who have selflessly given their time and effort to bring these anthologies to life and humbled by their dedication to not just the anthologies, but the continued conversations that these anthologies have contributed to. In part 2, I’ll discuss more of why we publish anthologies on the topics we publish but I hope you have enjoyed this piece of Immanion Press history.

 

Call for Writers– Bringing Race to the Table: An Exploration of Racism in the Pagan Community

Email for inquiries and submissionsCrystal Blanton

Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press (Stafford, U.K./Portland, OR, U.S.A) is seeking submissions for the Bring Race to the Table: An Exploration of Racism in the Pagan Community.

This anthology explores the topic of Racism and how Racism shows up in the Pagan community, as well as what we can do to recognize it and proactively work to change it by being consciously aware of race and privilege and actively applying that awareness to the Pagan community. We also examine cultural appropriation and its role in racism, and how we can approach issues of culture with conscious awareness that leads to genuine cultural exchanges instead of appropriation.

The vision for this anthology is to include a combination of academic and personally inspired pieces that show the experiences of racism, and the study of racism.

Here are some suggested topics to give you an idea of the focus of this anthology:

  • Your experience of racism and how it has impacted your ability to integrate into the Pagan community
  • Cultural Appropriation versus Cultural Exchange
  • How to recognize and confront Racism in your spiritual community.
  • Being an ally within the Pagan community for people of color.
  • Intersectionality of privilege, or examples of this within the community.
  • Experiences of a lack of cultural empathy, or sensitivity within Pagan groups, and how that impacts safe place for ethnic minorities.
  • Understanding how symbolism within Paganism reinforces racism and separation of diversity within Pagan groups.
  • Is preserving the lineage of hereditary practices and/or cultures racist? When is it not racist and what defines inclusion or exclusion in such cases?
  • How white power gangs are trying to infiltrate the Pagan community?
  • Definitions, understanding or experiences of symbolic, adversive, or systemic racism within the Pagan community.
  • Stereotypes and prejudice and the impact on spiritual or magic workings.
    Being the only person of color in a coven, group or community
  • Being a person of color at a pagan convention (and how convention organizers can be more conscious of this).
  • How Racism harms the Pagan Community, and how it shows up in the Pagan Community
  • How, as a community and as individuals, can we increase awareness of potentially harmful racial dynamics and proactively work to engage positive change.  
  • What is equity and how does it show up in the Pagan Community practically (what are examples of how equity has been or can be applied to the Pagan community)

Rough drafts are due March 15, 2014. These drafts will be edited in a back-and-forth process with the editors. Essays should be 1500-4000 words, although if your work falls outside those limits, do submit it – we can discuss this during the editing process. Drop us an email if you are unsure whether your idea fits into the content. The sooner you start the communication process the better, as after the deadline we won’t be considering additional ideas.

Essay requirements:

• Citations for all quoted, paraphrased, or otherwise unoriginal material
• Bibliography of works cited
• Prefer APA format

Write in your voice! If you’re academically inclined or trained, feel free to be as intelligent and technical as you like. If your work entirely talks in the first person about your own experience, please include this also. There is a wide range of voices, and we are interested in being as inclusive of style as possible.

Accepted contributors will receive a free copy of the anthology when it is published and additional copies sold at 40% off the cover price to contributors. All contributors will be provided with a contract upon final acceptance of their essays, not when they are accepted for editing. If your essay is not accepted for the anthology, we will tell you after the first round of edits.

The anthology will be edited by Crystal Blanton, Brandy Williams, and Taylor Ellwood. Crystal is the author of two books with Immanion press; Bridging the Gap; Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society, and Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World.  She is also the editor of the first anthology, Shades of Faith; Minority Voices in Paganism, and the forthcoming anthology, Shades of Ritual; Minority Voices in Practice. She may be found online at http://www.crystalblanton.org and her email address for this anthology is crystal@crystalblanton.com .

Brandy Williams is the author of Ecstatic Ritual (published by Immanion Press), Practical Magic for Beginners and The Woman Magician (published by Llewellyn) as well as the editor of Women’s Voices in Magic (published by Immanion Press). She may be found online at http://www.brandywilliams.org

Taylor Ellwood is the author of Pop Culture Magick, Magical Identity, and other books on magic. He is also the managing non-fiction editor of Immanion Press. He can be found online at http://www.magicalexperiments.com

Immanion Press is a small independent press based in the United Kingdom. Founded by author Storm Constantine, it expanded into occult nonfiction in 2004 with the publication of Taylor Ellwood’s Pop Culture Magick. Today, Immanion’s nonfiction line, under the Megalithica Books imprint, has a growing reputation for edgy, experimental texts on primarily intermediate and advanced pagan and occult topics. Find out more at http://www.immanion-press.com.

New book release and several author updates

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Jeromoe Birnbaum and Karen DePolito just published 13 Tools toward Enlightenment. A brief description is below:

During his time as founder and pastor of Temple of the Eternal Light, Jerome Birnbaum created a mail-order home study program called Thirteen Tools Toward Enlightenment. Now revised and edited into book format by Jerome’s surviving spouse, Karen DePolito, this program provides a thorough introduction to the practice of magick as a means to self-improvement.

Jerome’s work is rooted primarily in the Caballa, the ancient Hebrew mystical system on which much of our contemporary Western magick is based. Thirteen Tools guides the reader through the theory and history behind Caballa, including esoteric interpretation of traditional Judeo-Christian scripture. You will also learn techniques for concentration, meditation and visualization that are essential to successful magickal work.

Additionally, the book provides instruction in creating magickal space, finding the proper clothing and tools for your working, and rituals for purification and consecration. With its recreation as a book, Thirteen Tools Toward Enlightenment can now be studied and appreciated by readers everywhere.

Author Lisa Spiral Besnett recently had an article published on spiritual practice.

You can See Crystal Blanton’s latest interview on Sagewoman.