A recent article on Witchvox.com asked, “Where have all the Gardners and Crowleys gone?” (Full article here, and author Juniper’s home page here.) The more general question that the author was asking, it seems to me, was: Where are all the innovators, the trailblazers, the elders? Why do we no longer have people of the intellectual and imaginative calibre of the pagan ‘big names’ of the early to mid 20th century?
Her answer to that question was twofold. For one, she claimed that pagans treat their elders and innovators rather badly; and two, the innovators themselves quickly become jaded as the fruits of their life-long labour goes disrespected or forgotten. A third answer was also implied in this sentence: “Because we buy white-lighter, easy-to-read, fluffy little books when we should be buying the books Chapters and Barnes and Noble refuse to sell.“. Well, as a writer of books that are certainly not fluff and white light, you can imagine this caught my attention right away.
So my question for this week concerns the innovators in our movement, and how we treat them. Is Juniper correct when she says that the community itself, because of a predisposition to exploit and disrespect such people, tends to prevent them from emerging? Or, in your experience is there an emerging culture which recognises, benefits from, and respects such people? Who do you turn to when you need advice, or help, or information about your path, or even just a kind word once in a while? What qualities do they embody which makes you want to turn to those people, and not others?
Are there people today who are doing the kind of trail-blazing, innovative work that people like Gardner and Crowley once did? Another way to put this question, as my friend Susan Hurrell put it, “what living pagan author would you pay $100+ to hear lecture for 2 hours?”* For that matter, what living author of any spiritual tradition would you pay $100 to hear?
I will post my own list in a few days.
*You don’t have to include me on your list. I already know that I’m still a small time writer, and much of what I write about these days is only tangentially related to paganism anyway.