Pagan Every Day
Pagan Every Day
TWPT: Most books have their start as a flash of inspiration or
as a way to fill a gap where other books donít quite go. Tell me about what it
was that motivated you to begin work on your latest book Pagan Every Day.
BA: The direct inspiration was a phone call from the publisher.
"I like the way you write," she said. "Would you write a book
for us? Call it 365 Pagan and put lots of goddesses in it?" I said yes,
got in touch with my agent to negotiate a decent contract, and set to work.
You'll notice, of course, that they changed the title--it's now Pagan Every
Day--but the book is indeed full of goddesses, plus movies and TV, history,
feasts and festivals, saints, and whatever else sleeted through my mind during
the six months it took me to write the book.
TWPT: Seeing as how there are quite a number of day books or
daily inspiration titles out there what can a pagan reader learn from Pagan
Every Day that they could not find in other books?
BA: This is not your regular goddess-a-day book and it doesn't supply regular sabbat rituals or crafts for newbies. It's not Wicca 101. Because I think it's useful for people to think about what they think and examine what they believe, I explore a few of our foundational myths and relate pagan ideas to history and culture. I try to give the real story--differences, for example, between the Greek and Roman pantheons--and show that what one religion sees as mythology another will see as history. I also acknowledge authors and priestesses and zines and web sites and temples that have helped create our neopagan world.
TWPT: Would this book be of any benefit to the non-pagan reader
and what is it that they might take away from it? Do you expect the book to
find its way into many non-pagan hands?
BA: I'm not sure that a book with "pagan" in the title
will ever find its way into the hands of standard-brand fundamentalists, but my
hope is that thoughtful people who don't know much about the Goddess and/or
what pagans do and believe will find out that pagans are regular people. We
live the same kinds of lives as other people. We have house payments, car
payments, credit card payments. We're working at jobs and raising our kids.
TWPT: After you had decided to write Pagan Every Day what kind
of writing schedule did you keep? Did you really write the book in six months?
BA: I pay my rent and utilities (and buy cat food) by editing
books for people who intend to publish through on-demand presses. I couldn't
stop earning my living to write a book, so I set up a schedule. I edited every
morning (after my daily walk), wrote every afternoon, and did research (both in
books and on the Web) at night. Yes, I wrote the whole book in six months.
That's one month of essays every two weeks, or two a day. When I finished, I
ran it through the spell-checker, sent it to the publisher, and just sort of
collapsed. Well, actually, I picked up the books I had stacked on a little
table next to my computer and put them all back on their proper shelves and I
tidied up the living room. Then I flew to
TWPT: Tell me about the layout of each daily entry. Do each of the entries follow a certain kind of pattern in how the material is presented?
BA: As originally written, each day started with an epigraph--a
quotation from a novel, a bit of poetry, a quotation from a famous pagan book.
The first draft of the book was too long, though, so I had to edit every page
down. (When a calendar book is too long, you can't just lop off the last 60
pages.) A few of the epigraphs stayed (my favorite is November 8, from a novel
by feminist author Sheri S. Tepper) and some were worked into the essays.
Most of the pages are essays, but I prefer to call them
conversations. I talk directly to my readers in all of my books. I hope they'll
talk back. Write in the book. Send me an email. There are also snatches of
poetry (and one day's conversation is only a poem) and two days are quizzes
with tricky answers.
TWPT: If someone were to pick up a copy of your book how would
they use it in their daily routines to explore paganism as a spiritual
BA: You can read the day's page in the morning and have
something to ponder while you walk or meditate or eat breakfast. You can read a
page at lunchtime to get your mind off your job or at night to seed a dream.
Since everything partakes in divinity and the spiritual and the materials are
essentially the same, the daily essays on the French calendar or whales or the
Tanguska Event or Mozart or moon gods or veriditas or Louis XIV or the
unintended consequences of damming rivers can tell us something we may not have
known before and inspire a more grounded spiritual practice. We live on this
planet and in this society and with this history. We might as well know what
shoulders we're standing on.
TWPT: Was writing a book of daily entries harder than writing a
book with a single theme that ran from beginning to end? Why would that be so?
BA: When I write novels or nonfiction books with a single theme,
I have to pay attention to where I've been and where I'm going and stay on
track. (That's why an outline is useful.) With this book, I could just look up
who today's goddess is or what events happened on this day and take off from
there. One of my major resources was the
online Roman Calendar created by AEGSA (the Architectural Engineering Graduate
Students Association at
TWPT: Why does Pagan Every Day contain information about
Christian saints, Sikh holidays and other non-pagan topics within its pages?
BA: Because we, all of us--human, feathered, finned, furry,
leafy, and crystalline beings--are kin. We are all the children of the Goddess.
We should all play nice together.
Almost every pagan I've ever met was born into a
standard-brand religion (mostly Christian and Jewish). It's good to know where
we come from. (I found some wonderful stuff in The Jewish Catalog.) It's also important to understand that
"neopagan" and people who are Hindus or
Sikhs or Buddhists or Native Americans or Rastaferians do NOT call themselves
pagans. Nor can we call the medieval Christian mystics proto-pagans; Hildegard
of Bingen and Dame Julian of
If we expect the followers of other religions to understand
and respect us, we need to understand and respect them.
TWPT: Why is it that you believe that Barbie and Miss Piggy are
goddesses and that watching the movie Dirty Dancing is a spiritual experience?
BA: Can't we have some fun with our religion? Do we have to be
serious all the time? (This is why I wrote Finding New Goddesses, which is a
parody of the normal goddess encyclopedias.) We live in a world that is
spiritual and material at the same time, so it's possible to find spiritual
meaning in anything, even Muppets and the movies. Well, actually, Kermit is
more spiritual than The Pig, but there can be no doubt that she is a goddess.
Just ask her.
TWPT: Do you see this book being useful even after you have
gone through it the first time? Does it have enough substance that a person
could use it for the next few years and discover new information?
BA: My hope is that the conversations in the book will lead to
further conversations, not only between me and my readers but also among
readers and between readers and other people they know. There are a few
original rituals in the book, like using the language of flowers to tell our
covenmates what we think about them. In my imagination, someone reads the book,
finds something interesting or appealing or inspiring, and makes a small change
in his or her life and finds a new dimension of spirituality.
If readers go to the web sites listed in the bibliography,
they'll meet new people and find more than I could possibly include. And on the
367th day, I suggest that readers write their own book. Yes, the book can
easily last for more than a year.
TWPT: Any final thoughts youíd like to share about the writing
of Pagan Every Day or about how it could be used in a personís spiritual
practices throughout the year?
BA: We can relate our spiritual practices to anything in our
lives and connect any aspect of our lives to our spiritual practice. Here's an
member of a fan club. Michael Ball is a musical theater tenor and one of the
member of a fan club is enormous fun. Fans become friends. We gather at
Ballfests to watch Michaelís videos on big-screen TVs. In 2003, when members of
the Michael Ball Fan Club flew to
to me that gods and goddesses might enjoy having fan clubs. A fan club would be
different from a circle or a coven, whose main business is holding rituals.
Most circles and covens that I know invoke different goddesses and gods at
their various rituals. A fan club, however, would be faithful to one goddess or
Some deities already have fan clubs. Dionysus and Bacchus,
for example, seem to have a great many fan clubs that meet every weekend. These
fan clubs also worship Terpsichore, the muse of dance, and (on bad nights)
Cloacina, goddess of sewers. Are sports fans who attend track meets convening
in honor of fleet-footed Mercury? Do quilters and weavers gather to honor
Arachne? Are psychic fairs are held to honor the Sybils?
Reader, if you were to establish a fan club for a god or goddess, how would you organize it? What would you do at your fan club meetings?
TWPT: Thanks Barbara for taking the time out from your editing to talk to us here at TWPT and give us some insights into your new book Pagan Every Day. Good luck.