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[Witch Way] Volume #4 Issue #2 -- News, or Olds
July 13, 2011
Hi, Happy Lammas!

Ken's Korner

I spent the last weekend of June at INATS West, which is the International New Age Trade Show, here in Denver. The last several years have been very interesting. I can remember 10 or 15 years ago, when I first started going to INATS, the show was so crowded that it took 30 minutes to move just one booth length down the aisle.

At the time, I was there to get interviews for the radio show I was co-hosting. I have talked to authors from Pat Telesco, to Oberon Zell, to Christopher Penczak (who I also talked to this year). I always find it interesting how personable and down to earth most of these relatively famous people are. Of course, theyíre just folks like you and I. They just know a few things.

The first thing you need to know is that INATS is not open to the public, itís a Trade Show, so in order to get in, you need a product to sell, or a business that is willing to buy. Even so, 10 years ago, the show was standing room only, the entire weekend. The last several years, it seems the economy has really hit the industry. I was shocked at howÖempty the floor was.

The vendors are also cutting back. The show is half the size I remember it being. There are some vendors whoíve been there for years. Thereís a t-shirt vendor in the corner who has some really great stuff, and heís been there since I can remember. One husband and wife team, he sculpts, she sells, has been at the show for 16 years now. Sheís had to take a day job in IT to pay the bills, but as she told me, it allows her husband to work his magick, and create sculptures and jewelry that is simply magnificent.

It had been a couple of years since Iíd gone to INATS. It was slow then, though I met several really wonderful people, including Kaedrich Olsen, who is a local Heathen, and author of several books on Runes. It was actually a friend of mine, Melanie Marquis, who talked me into going this year. I had sort of thought about it, but wasnít sure I was going, when she told me she was going to be there signing her book.

Melanie and I have been giving each other a lot of moral support over the last year or so. We each run a local Witch/Pagan Meetup, and we both have books being published by Llewellyn this year. Her book, The Witches Bag of Tricks came out in June, so I used the trade show as an opportunity to grab a copy. Eventually Iíll get her to sign it for me.

So I went to INATS, with the intent of introducing myself to some of the Llewellyn staff who I know are there every year. Iíve met several of them many times, people like Stephan, who is in charge of publicity, and arranges for me to interview the authors who are there.

The Publishers usually have the biggest booths at the show. They are impossible to miss. Hay House has these incredible pillars, and Llewellyn has the giant wooden arches. As I walked into the Llewellyn booth early Saturday morning, the first person I ran into was Melanie, who was getting ready to do her book signing. She pointed out several people I should know, including Bill, our publisher.

Thatís William Llewellyn, the guy who owns the company. So what do I do? I walk up to my publisher, introduce myself by name, with a firm handshake and explain to him that Iím one of his authors. It was interesting, Llewellyn publishes I donít know how many books a year, I knew he wouldnít know who I was, but I could see the wheels spinning as he tried to put the name with a book title.

So I gave him my co-authorís name and the title of the book, and that it wasnít being published until December. Billís eyes widened, and he smiled as obvious recognition grew on his face. Understand, I had never met him before, nor had I had any contact with him until now. His first question, was if I had seen the fall catalog. At my negative answer, Bill grabbed up a copy of the new fall catalog, and began thumbing through it. There, on page 22, taking up the entire page, was The Book.

I have wanted to be a writer since I was in high school, and I have to tell you that seeing the cover to the book I wrote, even though Iím only just the co-author, was one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to me. I felt like jumping up and down with joy, and honestly, I canít say for sure that I didnít. Not only did Bill Llewellyn know who I was, he showed me that my book was in the current catalog.

Yes, I took a copy of the catalog, and have now shown it to just about anyone who has been willing to let me. I also found it on the Llewellyn website. Even though it doesnít actually get published for another 5 months, they are taking pre-orders for the book.

Ken Biles co-authored the book, Invoking The Egyptian Gods
I found it interesting that the next thing Bill asked me, was how I thought it could be advertised to best advantage. I gave him some of my thoughts, and weíll see what comes of it. The fact that he genuinely seemed interested in my input about how to advertise my book, really spoke volumes about the man.

You can be sure that in December, Iíll be promoting the book again. Iíll also see if I can find a way to get signed copies to those who are interested in purchasing them. It may just be my autograph, Judith, my co-author lives in France, so Iím not sure exactly how we can get both signatures, but I will try to find a way. I suspect a copy signed by both of us may be fairly rare.

Blessed Be,

Ken Biles

Choosing A Teacher

by Amethyst Rose

[Amethyst Rose took me up on my request for readers to write an article. If you want to write an article, reply to this email, and let me know. -Ken]

It has been said that when you are ready to learn, the teacher will appear. You believe you are ready, and like many of us, you grow impatient waiting, and begin looking. You go to the local pagan bookstore, you read the bulletin boards, you Google local covens, you attend open forums at coffee shops, and some of you may be lucky enough to have a local pagan council that can help you find an elder. These are perfectly valid ways of finding others ďlike youĒ, but how do you know when you have found the right teacher? Excellent question! Here are some thoughts to ponder and some practical suggestions to follow on your quest for enlightenment.

First and foremost: Know Thy Self! You know that wonderful, creative, stranger in the mirror? There are thousands of ways to get in touch with your inner voice. You can journal, tweet, meditate, blog, or fill out an interest survey. The most important thing is to be brutally honest with your self. If the coven you just found believes that you must drink green tea twice a day in order to attain inner peace, and you think green tea smells like your little brotherís dirty gym socks, then the Green Tea for Inner Peace Coven probable isnít the right place for you. Thatís okay! The important thing is to know your self well enough to say, I donít like socks. Know what you like, what you donít like and what you absolutely will not abide by. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What do I want to learn?
  • What am I able/unable to do?
  • What am I willing to do?
  • What am I uncomfortable doing?
  • What will I refuse to do?
  • Is this learning goal achievable for me?
Example: You want to learn about herbs. You are able to bend, stretch, and lift. You are unable to grow things due to a black thumb. (e.g. Ė Every plant you touch shrivels up and dies, and your best friend says that you should not be allowed to house sit a cactus.) You realize that learning to grow your own herbs is probably not the best idea, but there is a reputable organic food store down the street. You decide to focus on using purchased herbs in your everyday magic.

Second: Know Thy ďTeacherĒ. You would never leave your children with a stranger. Why would you willingly go somewhere alone with one? This is where common sense meets personal safety. Unfortunately, there are some very sick people in the world and men are just as at risk as women. (Sorry guys) On a happier note there are some very reputable people as well. How do you tell the difference? Iím glad you asked. Here are a few things to consider when meeting a new mentor or teacher.

  • Warning bells should sound if the person you just met over the internet wants to meet you tonight at midnight during the full moon in the middle of the woods and tells you to bring a large knife and enough rope to tie your self down. Do not meet this person!
A good teacher will be willing to meet in a public, well lit place. They will be able to express their beliefs, and teaching method clearly. When you leave the first meeting, you should feel comfortable talking with the person, and have a good feel for their teaching style. **Common Sense Warning: Donít meet strangers in private, dark, soundproof places.**
  • Warning bells should sound if they say it will cost you one yearís salary up front for the training, they give you a Swiss bank account number to transfer the funds to and a disposable cell phone with their ďcontact numberĒ programmed in. Do not give large sums of money to strangers!
Many Elders do not charge for mentorship. They believe that teaching is part of their path. Some will make you purchase your own materials and tools or ask you to reimburse them for the things you will need. You should ask about any costs associated with the training before you begin to study with anyone. **Common Sense Warning: Do not give your personal information out to a stranger. E.g. Ė Social Security Number, Credit Card Numbers, or Home Address.**
  • Warning bells should sound if they ask you to bring large amounts of alcohol or any illegal substance(s) to a meeting, or they tell you that the only way you will be able to talk to the sacred snake is if you take the purple pill of divine communication. Do not take any unknown substance from a stranger!
Most modern covens believe that if you canít drive a car drunk, then you shouldnít practice magic that way. There are people who believe that you have to be high to experience the divine. There are also people who believe the moon is an alien base where they do experiments on humans. Just because someone else believes it does not make it true for you. Decide for yourself what you believe is acceptable, moral behavior. **Common Sense Warning: If you purchase illegal substances for/from someone else, you can go to jail.**
  • Warning bells should sound if they say that you must perform any type of sexual act as a term of them teaching you, or they tell you that your sacred tools must include a riding crop and swing. Do not confuse lust and learning.
A good teacher will be professional at all times. If you are uncomfortable with any aspect of your mentorship you need to feel comfortable telling your teacher. If consenting adults want to frolic in the woods, then by all means frolic and be merry, but remember you donít have to join a coven to do so. **Common Sense Warning: If public school teachers canít do it, then your mentor shouldnít be doing it either.**
  • Warning bells should sound if Moonchild Harry-feet will not tell you his real name, and insists that you greet him at all times as The Most High and Sacred Harry-feet. Everyone has a ďrealĒ name.
There is a degree of safety in magical names. This is especially true if you live in an area that is not always friendly to pagans. However, if you are going to be learning from someone, you should know their legal first and last name. That way when you see them in the grocery store you arenít screaming ďAll welcome The Most High and Sacred Harry-feetĒ in the produce isle; after all that would just be silly. **Common Sense Warning: When the police ask for your name and you tell them your name is Moonchild The Most High and Sacred Harry-feet, they donít take you seriously, but the people with the nice padded rooms do.**

Last but not Least: When in Doubt, Research. You can always check the public case records database or local sex offender registry. These are good resources for all sorts of things. For example: I use them to research possible employees, especially if they will be working with children. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Read a book about the specific beliefs/practices of a coven. Most covens will point you in the right direction, or have a recommended reading list. You can learn a lot by reading a book at your own pace, at home in your p.j.ís.

Ask lots of questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question. If you donít know, ask. If you want to know, ask. If you forget the answer, ask again. A teacher who is willing to answer your questions is invaluable.

I hope this article is helpful and entertaining. Choosing a mentor or teacher is a very personal task. No one can make that decision for you. The beautiful thing about our craft is that it can be anything we make it. I wish you many blessings and good luck.

If you have an article you'd like to submit as a guest author for Witch Way, or for CyberWitchcraft, go to the Contact Page and click Submissions in the drop down box. Let me know what the article is about, and I will reply back to you so that you can attach it in an email.

Articles for Witch Way should be at least 500 words, and those for CyberWitchcraft should be around 2000 words.

If you have any comments or suggestions, you can go to the Contact Page on CyberWitchcraft, or simply reply to this email. This newsletter and the website are created for you, your thoughts and ideas are important to us.

Until next month, may you be blessed in all that you do, or as we usually say,

Blessed Be,
Graphic Signature

Ken Biles

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