Podcasting, Blogging, and Skipping Down the Path

Every once in a blue moon, I get an email from someone who has just run across an episode of one of the two podcasts that I ran. There’s a lot of praise for what I was trying to do, but there’s also the final question of why I stopped podcasting. There were a lot of reasons behind that choice. But the biggest one was trying to come up with topics to talk about or finding connections with folks to interview (depending on which ‘cast you are talking about). I was “ok” as a podcaster. Nothing spectacular, but I tried to convey how much fun I was having stumbling through audio edits and just talking at a microphone. I truly enjoyed doing those podcasts. However, I had to give it all up at a certain point. The real constraint was time.

I was unemployed for two years during my time podcasting. Doing the podcast episodes was fairly simple during all of that. I just picked a time when I was alone in the house, and recorded the episode. However, once I started teaching (the job I managed to get at the college after being unemployed), I just never had the free time that I did before. Those time constraints made getting episodes out really tough for me. In the end, I felt I was letting everyone down with the quality of what I was putting out. That, for me, was the final nail in that coffin.

Now, don’t get excited thinking that I am about to raise one of the two ‘casts from the dead. Nope. Not going to happen. Not until I get someone willing to get on the microphone with me. And to be completely honest, I am not looking actively for anyone to fulfill that role. However, the email I received asking about future shows really brought me back to some of the fun times I had putting the ‘casts together.

On “From the Edge of the Circle”, I had more fun putting my warped sense of humor on display. I created a pair of fake commercials (and they were so obviously fake) poking fun at parts of Paganism. I would run this as “brought to you by” moments, which was my way of poking fun at the lack of funding that I had for the show. Even when I was unemployed I paid for the show out of my own pocket. In fact, during the entire time I ran either podcast, I only received one donation towards keeping the show going. It was a touching moment, but as I said – I had no funding from others and very rarely even mentioned the concept of money. So my fake commercials were my way of poking fun at this. I also created a spot in the last episode, which let Mojo and Sparrow of The Wigglian Way take over the podcast for a moment. It was a fun way for them to inject themselves into the episode. Especially, after I mentioned that Sparrow could read the phone book to me with her sultry voice (which she did on one of their episodes).

The days that I was podcasting were fun. All of us that were Pagan podcasters didn’t see the others as competition. We were equals who all provided unique voices to the wider Pagan community. If you didn’t enjoy me, there were other podcasters that might meet your tastes. I always found it to be a great thing when listeners would find their way to the other ‘casts. We poked fun at each other, we even took up other shows’ topics and provided our own spin on what had been said. None of it; however, was said in a mean-spirited way. We truly enjoyed one another.

When I left the podcasting world, I left a lot of that camaraderie behind as well. I still love my fellow ‘casters, but here in the blogging world, it doesn’t have that same feeling. Too often, I have seen disagreements over topical information turn into down-right bloody feuds. There seems to be a need to drive statistics with topics designed to draw distinct differences between others. The “I’m right and your not” perspective reigned supreme in a few of those moments a few years back. I do; however, have some of that “we’re in this together” with Cat Treadwell, Nimue Brown, and a few others. We may not always agree about how we each approach a topic, but we’ve always found ways to communicate those differences in a manner that emphasizes support, not disagreement.

Now, I get the perspective in the blogging world. Clicks matter. When I first started podcasting, I was a fanatic about my download statistics. Until I started to realize that the downloads didn’t matter. What mattered was whether the person downloading the podcast found something that they enjoyed, something that provided them with the information that they were looking for, and/or provided them with a perspective that they wanted to connect with. Now, I do pay attention to the click stats here with the blog, but I generally try not to look at them too much. Why? Because, sometimes, y’all scare the shit out of me. When I see the stats, there are usually around ten to twenty clicks a day. When I see somewhere above fifty clicks per day for a particular post…well, my heart starts to race. See, I have difficulty dealing with success like that. It just scares me to think so many people are reading stuff for whatever reasons. But I am digressing here…..

I do enjoy sharing parts of my life here through the blog. For me, this is similar to talking to a microphone. Except that I get to do so by typing on a keyboard. I get the chance to gather my thoughts a little more clearly – though, my writing skills do need to improve. That’s why I sometimes reach out to other people for edits. So my simple mistakes get caught before you see them. However, one thing I have enjoyed in writing this blog is the creation of fellowship that has come about with other bloggers. Much like those days with the podcasters, I have found a group of folks that have really become special parts of my life. As I said, I know there’s supposed to be competition between bloggers – trying to attract more clicks than others. However, none of that really matters that much to me. Everyone provides a different viewpoint because we are all unique individuals. We all have our own Path to walk. And sometimes, we can walk it together. Or go skipping down the Path, locked arm-in-arm, singing bawdy tunes to the skies, and laughing our asses off. Because part of living…part of finding your own Spirituality…finding those like-minded folks…requires laughter and fun.

–T /|\

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Digging for Blog Gold…

One of the things I have come to love about blogging are the questions that I get from folks out there who read the blog. Some of the questions are super-serious things, which really require a more personal approach and a much more private response. Others are some really funny or fun questions, but regardless, its an interaction that I really enjoy.

Recently, one Facebook, I received the following question: “Any Pagan bloggers that you recommend?” My answer was a basic – “All of them”, which seems like a bit of a cop-out answer. And in a manner of speaking, it is. However, I am not going to poo-poo someone else’s blog because I don’t read it. There are a lot of Pagan bloggers out there, all of whom provide their own unique voice and perspective to the world around them. Some of them are my “goto” reads – the writers that I read the moment I am aware of a new blog post from them. These folks write in a style and with a voice that resonates with me. Some are folks I read from time to time, not because I think their stuff sucks, but because their style or voice is something that does not resonate completely with me. There are folks I don’t read at all because their style or voice completely turns me off. And then there are those that I am not aware of.

I do not discount a single one of these folks. They write their blogs with their own heart, their own intensity – all coming from their own unique perspective. Just because their style or voice does not resonate with me does not mean that they have no value. Their own writings have others that read them; others that hear them; others with whom they resonate – and that is what is important.

See, I’m not the kind of person that thinks my perspective is the be-all, end-all of anything. The stuff I write is my own view of the world around me. I’ll gloss over some stuff – currently that’s the #CoronaVirusPanic2020 and the current political election cycle – not because I do not find it important, but because it is talked about EVERYWHERE. Besides, I see so much more in the world around me than politics and panics. But there are others in the Pagan writing arena (some call it a BlogoSphere, but I see it as so much more than just blogs), who do write about this stuff. Because its just that important to them. Its what is dominating their thoughts, and they want to share their perspective. And I think its a really awesome thing that they are sharing that with their readership.

So, who do I recommend? No. No thank you. I’ll again point you to digging and finding them for yourselves. I have my “goto” writers – Cat Treadwell, Nimue Brown, Yvonne Reyes, and Philip Carr-Gomm – and each of them are “goto” for different reasons. There are other writers that I am friends with, but really – the best way for you to find out which writer’s perspective works for you is to let you find them yourself. Yeah, its a cop-out of sorts to avoid the potential of utter favoritism (other than my Core-Four), but really – part of finding the other writers out there includes the desire to read their posts. Your own discovery will mean more to you than if I just started pointing you towards them.

That does bring up a final thought though. Back when I was still podcasting, one intrepid podcast listener made a list of Pagan podcasts that were out there. This individual published that list online, where others could find it. I’m not really sure how many “extra” downloads it provided for me, nor did I really care. I really wasn’t into podcasting for the numbers. However, the gesture on that individual’s part was a really awesome thing. I wonder if something like that might ever get done for the Pagan blogging community? While it might add a listener or ten-thousand for some blogs, it might make it easier for the individual seeking a blog to become a reader of to find that hidden gold. I know that blogging community is even more fluid in terms of new and fading blog sites than the podcast community ever was – but hey…a potential dream? For all I know, someone has already done this…and I just don’t know about it….

Basking in the Glow of Kindness

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been an interesting bit of momentum taking place in a subset of the Pagan Blogosphere. There have been posts from folks about what their own aspect of Polytheism was. What made it interesting was that a vast majority of the statements went along the lines of “this is what my polytheism is. Its different than yours. I only ask that you honor my vision of polytheism as I am honoring yours.” There were no accusations of this person or that thought being out of line with what “polytheism is”. No one played Gatekeeper and shoved folks out into the digital alleyways for not adhering to some singular mindset of what they believed polytheism was or wasn’t. Some of the statements have culminated in some very interesting, well thought out conversations on the differences between folks’ visions. Calm, reasoned, intelligent discourse with respect for individual viewpoints. It has been a joy to (a) read, and (b) take part in some of that.

I was a little floored when a statement I made was compared to someone’s (seemingly) favorite caffeinated coffee ice beverage. As I stated in my reply, I have never had something I stated compared to a food product before, but damnit, I’ll take it.  🙂 My statement, for the record, was a touch of a monologue off of someone else’s comment. I’ll copy and paste it here….

…you (not you specifically, the generic “you”) can realize that the Gods you work with want something specifically from you…not from everyone else. But let me add on – your point about narrowing who can be a polytheist…in my opinion, that’s a power trip issue. Folks who want to be “gatekeepers” as to what is or who isn’t a polytheist are looking to make an exclusive “club” rather than letting the Gods determine what They need from individual folks, and to whom They will manifest Themselves to. In my view (which is worth less than a Starbucks Grande coffee), that’s limiting who the Gods are, by placing the Gods into a containerized view. If a polytheist is “putting the Gods first”, then they (the polytheist) should be open to the perspective that the Gods will seek those that They wish to work with – even if those that are sought are not in the polytheist’s definition of “who is and who isn’t”. That’s my two pence worth….

The overarching points that were made in this particular thread (its part of a Facebook conversation), was essentially that polytheism has certain hallmarks to it – many Gods and Goddesses – but the underlying aspect of what makes one a polytheist is defined by their own unique, personal relationship(s) to the Gods and Goddesses that call to them. No one gets to define that relationship, other than the adherent and Those that they are connecting with.

But that’s just the background to it all. What was interesting, compelling, and exciting was the degree of respect everyone provided to one another throughout the wide-ranging comments and discussion. I have known for a long time that the wider Pagan community can have conversations and discussions like this – even when there are wide and deep chasms of difference between the participants. I cannot put my finger on the exact reasoning behind the courteous manners utilized, but if I had to lay a potential direction for it – I would point to the recent Many Gods West conference. (which I didn’t get to attend because I had no vacation days left – Boo!)

I am not sure how long this little truce and kindness will last within the Pagan Blogosphere and in the online social media platforms. Not long, I would guess. But damned if I am not going to bask in it, and hope it comes around a whole lot more often than it seems to.