Tag Archives: Framing

Nice Frame


Here’s a press release for Northern Virginia Pagan Pride Day. It’s nicely done.

Lorton, VA (October 1, 2011) – Northern Virginia Pagan Pride Day 2011 will be held on October 1 at Occoquan Regional Park (volleyball field) from 10am – 5pm. People of all ages and spiritual backgrounds are welcome. The event will include information booths, vendors, entertainers, rituals, and other activities celebrating the Autumn Equinox, a time of thanksgiving in many Pagan traditions. An item of non-perishable food will be accepted as admission and donated to local charities.

The Pagan Pride Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of prejudice and religious discrimination through education, activism, charity, and community. Annual Pagan Pride celebrations are held during the months of September and October. Over 80 cities participated in 2010 and this year there are 100 scheduled events in the United States, Canada, and abroad.

Modern Paganism, or Neo-Paganism, is a growing religious movement based on combinations of ancient polytheism, modern Eco-spirituality, and reverence for the Divine as both masculine and feminine. Many followers practice forms of American folk magic or Witchcraft.

Northern Virginia Pagan Pride Day 2011 will feature popular Pagan author and teacher Dorothy Morrison in its program schedule.

For more information about the event or about Pagan religions, contact David Salisbury, Lead Coordinator, at (757) 752-6610 or via email at david@novappd.org. Additional information regarding Pagan Pride Day is located at novappd.org

Notice that it includes information on where, when, etc. It gives a good, succinct description of modern Paganism and focuses on what events and speakers will be included. The framing is positive; there’s no discussion of what Pagans DON’T do.

Now if the rain will just hold off for the weekend . . . .

Picture found here.

What She Said

George Lakoff makes a similar point in his book Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

Taxation is paying your dues, paying your membership fee in America. If you join a country club or a community center, you pay fees. Why? You did not build the swimming pool. You have to maintain it. You did not build the basketball court. Someone has to clean it. You may not use the squash court, but you still have to pay your dues. Otherwise it won’t be maintained and will fall apart. People who avoid taxes, like corporations that move to Bermuda, are not paying their dues to the country. It is patriotic to be a taxpayer. It is traitorous to desert our country and not pay your dues.

Perhaps Bill Gates Sr. said it best. In arguing to keep the inheritance tax, he pointed out that he and Bill Jr. did not invent the Internet. They just used it — to make billions. There is no such thing as a self-made [person]. Every businessman has used the vast American infrastructure, which the taxpayers paid for, to make his money. He did not make his money alone. He used taxpayer infrastructure. He got rich on what other taxpayers had paid for: the Treasury and Commerce Departments, the judicial system, where nine-tenths of the cases involve corporate law. These taxpayer investments support companies and wealthy investors. There are no self-made men! The wealthy have gotten rich using what previous taxpayers paid for. The owe the taxpayers of this country a great deal and should be paying it back.

I’m not sure what’s so complicated about that. Democrats (and other people who love America) ought to start repeating it every single time they get a chance. And they get a lot of chances.

And They Were Doing So Well . . . .


I recently suggested that people organizing or attending Pagan Pride events spend time making lists of the reasons why they’re proud to be Pagans. And in a number of posts, I’ve emphasized the importance of being clear about your own objectives before you talk to the press. Both of these steps are helpful when you’re trying to frame your message in a positive way.

Here’s an article and interview about a Pagan Pride Day in Portland that is really great . . . right up until the very end.

The Pagan being interviewed starts off with positive information. She does what I think is a great job of handling the question: “What are some of the most common misconceptions about paganism?” responding in a way that indicates that Pagans “come from all walks of life. We’re nurses, business executives, entrepreneurs and teachers.” All good.

The very last question, “What are your goals for Pagan Pride Day?” should be easy to answer. In fact, the introductory article already said, “she’s excited at the prospect of bringing pagans from many different paths to the oak grove that Portlanders think of as Oaks Amusement Park. The day will be an opportunity for pagans to learn more about each other and the spiritual paths they’ve chosen and, she hopes, a chance for those who are curious about paganism to ask questions.” Repeating that would sum up the interview nicely. Instead, here’s the actual answer to the question, “What are your goals for Pagan Pride Day?”

We’d like to open up communications among our pagan community and to allow people who are not pagans to see us and understand that we are not devil worshipers. We are moral, ethical and spiritual people who love our Mother. As far as pagans are concerned, Satan is a Christian idea, and satanists are not pagan.

But charity is part of the pagan path. We’ll be accepting donations for Esther’s Pantry, a food pantry for people with HIV/AIDS who have special diet needs, and for the Pongo Fund, which provides food for the pets of homeless and low income people. We’ll collect magical items for soldiers serving overseas — brass bells, white candles, books on paganism — and donations for Other Worlds of Wonder.

Look, collecting for charity is great, but that’s not the goal of a Pagan Pride Day. Here’s where having a list of reasons why you’re proud of Paganism would be really useful. Here’s where being clear on your own objectives before you talk to the press would be helpful.

And here’s where you have no business in the world talking about Satan. Please. People. I’m begging you. Look, even if your one objective in life WERE to somehow convince the small group of people who do actually equate Paganism with worshiping Satan (most of whom have their minds firmly made up and aren’t going to be swayed, no matter what you say), holding a Pagan Pride Day is no way to achieve that objective. 99.9% of the people who will attend your Pagan Pride Day are either already Pagan or are seriously interested in becoming Pagan. If you really do want to work at convincing people that Pagans don’t worship Satan, join you local interfaith group. At some point, someone may ask you if you worship Satan and then, and only then, and hopefully after people have come to know you as a person of integrity and compassion, can you pipe up about how Pagans don’t worship Satan. Otherwise, Pagans, please, shut up about Satan.

Picture found here.

Make a List


September and October are prime months for Pagan Pride events. If you’re organizing, or planning on attending, one, I have a recommendation for you: Make a list (well ahead of time) of what makes you proud to be a Pagan. What Pagan accomplishments make you proud? Which of your (your coven’s, your grove’s, your circle’s) accomplishments will you be celebrating on Pagan Pride Day?

There’s a difference between, on the one hand, being proud of something and, on the other hand, not being ashamed. And within that difference lies the foundation for good framing.

Too often, IMHO, events that are labeled “Pagan Pride” aren’t so much about pride as they are about not having anything to be ashamed of. (I did it; I ended that sentence with a preposition. It’s not something of which I’m proud. ;)) And I think that the failure to recognize the difference and to spend some time thinking about why you’re proud to be a Pagan may be part of what leads to the far-too-common framing mistakes we see whenever Pagans communicate with the media about Pagan Pride events. You know what I mean:

The organizers for Sandy Point Pagan Pride Day say that they want to dispel misperceptions that some people have about Pagans. “We don’t worship Satan or cast evil spells,” said Wendy Wiccan. “People discriminate against us because they don’t understand us or because they think that what we do is evil,” added her co-chair, David Druid.

I imagine there are hundreds of reasons to be proud of Paganism and that different groups might list very different kinds of achievements. Coming up with that list, though, is part of the groundwork for good framing, just as working hard on your intent for a magic-working lays the groundwork for successful magic. Once it’s refined, that list would make a great handout to accompany your press release. It would be useful to post on your website. It would be a good thing to hand out to everyone who attends the event. It might make a great t-shirt. Maybe you could put up poster board and ask attendees to list their own reasons. Seeing what your attendees say could lead to an interesting post-event debriefing and be the basis for planning next year’s event. But most of all, it will give you a good opening paragraph for your press release and a great fall-back in case you get asked questions you hadn’t anticipated. It will (hopefully) keep you focused on what you want to achieve (just like in a good spell) and not on what you want to eliminate. Power follows attention.

So spend some time coming up with your list. I’ll start with some examples; feel free you add your own in comments or at your own blog.

I’m proud that Pagans invented: art, music, poetry, dance, theatre, agriculture, religion, ceremonies for the dead, architecture, astronomy, philosophy, democracy, metallurgy, medicine, pottery, jewelry, clothing, sewing, weaving, net-making, law, mathematics, roads, aqueducts, calendars, cooking . . . .

I’m proud that Pagans recognize the divine feminine.

I’m proud that modern Pagans are coming to recognize the divine QUILTBAG.

I’m proud that Pagans worship Nature and help modern people to connect to Nature.

I’m proud that Pagans respect diversity, including religious diversity.

I’m proud that my coven does political magic focused on our local biosphere.

I’m proud that I’ve been growing as a Pagan for over two decades.

I’m proud that my own practice has come to focus more and more on my own landbase.

I’m proud that Pagans are standing up to hate groups such as the New Apostolic Reformation and especially to its DC40 action.

I’m proud of the work that Pagans do as healers, lawyers, teachers, parents, authors, musicians, bloggers, first responders, farmers, artists . . . .

Now, you.

Picture found here.

Nice Frame!


Years ago, when I was a poor, single-mother, schoolteacher, one of my friends, an art teacher at the same school, taught me something I’ve never forgotten. You can take a cheap poster, or photograph, or sketch and, if you put it in a really good frame, it will look great on your walls. In the same way, you can take a basic “event notification” story and frame it in a way that advances your objectives. Framing matters, not only in home decor, but when we have a message that we want to get out to the world.

Here’s a report of a Pagan Pride event from the Fresno Bee:

Pagan Pride Day makes a comeback

The area’s pagan community will come together for Central Valley Pagan Pride Day to promote alternative and nontraditional spiritual traditions from Bakersfield to Stockton. Central Valley Pagan Pride Day will be from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. next Saturday at Woodward Park’s Sunset View Shelter.

Organizers are calling the event a renaissance of sorts. The event was held for a few years, beginning in 2005, before being discontinued.

This year’s event is presented by Central Valley Pagan Pride, which seeks to educate the community about its many beliefs and traditions and to ensure that all people are represented and have a voice in the community.

The event will feature workshops, vendors, lecturers, entertainment, food and a kids area. Presenters include Crystal Blanton, author of “Bridging the Gap: Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society.”

The entrance fee for cars to enter Woodward Park is $5. Details: valleypagan.com.

Notice how the focus is on what the event will include, what the planners’ objective is (“to educate the community about [the Pagan groups’] many beliefs and traditions and to ensure that all people are represented and have a voice in the community”), and a mention that the event is being restarted after a few years’ absence. Notice what’s missing: any defensive discussion about what Pagans don’t do or how Pagans are misunderstood. “Educating the community” may, in fact, be designed to help any people who do have misconceptions to get over them, but it’s a positive way to present the issue and it doesn’t reinforce a negative frame by invoking it.

More like this, please. (Of course, “Pagan” should be capitalized. It’s an umbrella term for a group of religions, just as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc. Those terms are capitalized, so “Pagan” should be, as well. But that’s likely the paper’s fault, not the fault of the Pagan Pride Day sponsors.)

Picture found here.

Once More Into the Breach


Here’s an article about a store selling Pagan supplies. Take a look and see if you can spot where this one runs off the framing rails:

Local witch Donna Golias is proud to offer clients “unique, handpicked, one-of-a-kind and custom-made” products at Effigy Witch Shoppe in Monroe.

“There aren’t a lot of witches buying stuff online,” said Golias, a lifelong witch and co-owner of the store.

Modeled after the “old ways” witch shops in Salem, Mass., the 415 Main St. store is one of a few in the region to offer products and services in the realm of witchcraft.

“The energy here is beautiful,” said Golias, who added that the 800-square-foot store attracts people from all over the state and beyond its borders.

Golias and co-owner Mark Cabot Chapman opened the business in November 2010, selling jewelry, candles, oils, herbs, altar tools, crystals and books. There is also a lounge area open to customers who simply need a place to relax.

Golias offers herbal tarot readings, which include a personalized “mojo” bag consisting of a combination of herbs, oils, resins, roots and stones, specific to each reading. The readings are priced at $25 for a 15-minute session and $40 for a 30-minute session.

Considered a reverend for his formal training with Salem witch Laurie Cabot, Chapman provides his clients with spiritual counseling and life coaching. He is an expert in paranormal and psychic research, exorcism and demonology. He is available for house cleanings and clearings, and assists in guidance with hauntings, strange phenomena and paranormal activity. Most of the services are priced on a case-by-case basis.

Effigy offers regular workshops featuring industry experts, with many events being held in October, the best time for divination. The pair also hosted an $80 outing to Salem, Mass., in July.

The openly pagan friends said they hope to dispel misconceptions of witches. One of those misconceptions is the belief that witches worship the devil. Instead, witches are guided by the belief that there are good and bad forces. Though there are different types of pagans, such as Wiccans and druids, Golias and Chapman said they welcome everyone.
“People are not open about it because of the stigma,” Golias said.

Though Golias and Chapman offer consultations for spell work, they said they won’t help anyone who tries to harm others.

Despite the harsh economic climate, the shop owners said they weren’t worried about opening this type of business.

“When the economy is bad and people are down, people gravitate toward spirituality,” Golias said.

Gina Grasso, president of the Connecticut Wiccan and Pagan Network, said there are about 900 pagans in the state. “We’re a fun group,” she said. “The events are heavily attended by new and old. … I’ve never expected Connecticut to have so many pagans.”
She said there are about 10 pagan shops in Connecticut.
“All the shops have unique offerings and I frequent all of them,” she said.

This is a nice article in the local press about a local business; not uncommon at all. But why, why, why, oh why, do Pagans keep shooting themselves in the foot like this:

The openly pagan friends said they hope to dispel misconceptions of witches. One of those misconceptions is the belief that witches worship the devil. Instead, witches are guided by the belief that there are good and bad forces. Though there are different types of pagans, such as Wiccans and druids, Golias and Chapman said they welcome everyone.
“People are not open about it because of the stigma,” Golias said.

When you announce to the world that you don’t worship the devil, you make people associate you with devil worship. Think about a bookstore that sells Christian books, statues, prayer services, etc. There is no way that an article about that store is going to include a paragraph that says:

The openly Evengelical friends say they hope to dispel misconceptions of Christians. One of those misconceptions is the belief that Christian ministers engage in sexual abuse of children and parishioners. Though there are different types of Christians, such as Baptists and Catholics, the owners said they welcome everyone. “People are not open about it because of the stigma,” Ms. Christian said.

This article would be fine without the offending paragraph. But, what if the reporter asks: “What’s your major hope for your store?” You can say: “We hope to provide a welcoming atmosphere for Pagans of every sort, as well as members of the general public who are interested in spirituality.” If the reporter asks, “Don’t Witches worship the devil?” You can say, “Of course not; only Christians believe in the devil. Pagans honor the Earth and the seasons and worship a variety of Goddesses and Gods. For example, this section of our store carries statues of a number of deities, including Bride, Gaia, Cernunnos, and Odin. Over here, we have . . . .”

Come on, people, this is not rocket science.

(Of course the capitalization is just off in the article; but we’ll blame the paper for that. And, not to quibble, but: “There aren’t a lot of witches buying stuff online”???? Really?)

Picture found here.

Framing: How Are We Doing?


As The Wild Hunt reports, Pagan Pride Days are happening all over. Let’s take a look at some of the press and consider how well the organizers are doing when it comes to framing their message.

Here’s a report from Michigan:

Sault Ste. Marie Pagans to celebrate Pagan Pride Day

Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Pagans, Heathens, Goddess-Worshippers, and other earth-centred religious practitioners and their families will gather to celebrate Pagan Pride Day on September 11, 2011 beginning at noon, at the Bellevue Park Picnic Shelter.

This educational event, hosted by the Sault Ste. Marie Pagan Association, will include information on associated religious practices, vendors, an assortment of workshops, a food drive to celebrate the harvest, and an open religious ritual.

The celebration is open to the public, and admission is a donation of non-perishable food to support the Sault Ste. Marie Soup Kitchen or “creature comforts” for The Animal Assistance Group.

Cash donations will also be accepted to support future Pagan Pride Day events.

September 11th’s celebration will focus on a ritual celebrating the Autumn Equinox, a time of thanksgiving in many Pagan traditions.

The food and creature comforts drive held in conjunction with this is a way to give thanks for the abundance of the year, and share that abundance with others.

The ceremony will showcase the diversity of the Pagan community, give thanks combined with wishes for continued abundance, and bless the results of the food drive before it is given away.

Participants are encouraged to bring musical instruments, and families are welcome.

This year, we are proud to showcase vendors such as Rolling River Soap Company and Jess’ Crafty Things, as well as items created by Sault Ste. Marie Pagan Association volunteers and a Tarot card reader.

This year’s event is one of 132 worldwide in conjunction with the Pagan Pride Project.

More than a dozen states and Canadian provinces began joining in 1998 to honor the Autumn Equinox as a celebration of earth-based spirituality.

As founder Cecylyna Dewr explains, “Today, major corporations are adding diversity statements and programs to their human resources areas because they have moved beyond mere tolerance to recognize the value gained from a plurality of opinion, background, and viewpoint, especially in an increasingly global community. Yet many people who would be offended by a racial slur, or who support gender equality, still discriminate on the basis of religion because they believe that theirs is the only valid religion, or because they simply are misinformed about the practices of other religions. The Pagan Pride project hopes to challenge intolerance through education.”

Modern Paganism, or Neo-Paganism, is a growing religious movement based on combinations of ancient polytheism, modern eco-spirituality, and reverence for the Divine as both masculine and feminine.

Some of the more common traditions include Wicca or Neo-Pagan Witchcraft, Asatru, and Druidic spiritual paths.

Misconceptions about these religions range from the belief that they practice devil-worship to concerns about casting ‘black magic’; in reality, most practitioners don’t even believe in an entity of all evil, are found in all walks of life from professionals to homemakers, and simply enjoy celebrating a religion that emphasizes respect for nature, humanity, and oneself.

For more information about the event or about Pagan religions, contact Local Coordinator Amanda Zuke at (705) 254-5072 or through email at amanda.zuke@gmail.com .

Sault Ste. Marie Pagan Pride Day (including a copy of this release) can be found online at the website.

The Pagan Pride Project is located online at its website.

This starts off really well, with an emphasis on what the event IS and provides good clues to what Pagans value. See, e.g.: “September 11th’s celebration will focus on a ritual celebrating the Autumn Equinox, a time of thanksgiving in many Pagan traditions.

The food and creature comforts drive held in conjunction with this is a way to give thanks for the abundance of the year, and share that abundance with others.

The ceremony will showcase the diversity of the Pagan community, give thanks combined with wishes for continued abundance, and bless the results of the food drive before it is given away.”

I’m not sure why the event coordinators felt the need to say: “‘Today, major corporations are adding diversity statements and programs to their human resources areas because they have moved beyond mere tolerance to recognize the value gained from a plurality of opinion, background, and viewpoint, especially in an increasingly global community. Yet many people who would be offended by a racial slur, or who support gender equality, still discriminate on the basis of religion because they believe that theirs is the only valid religion, or because they simply are misinformed about the practices of other religions. The Pagan Pride project hopes to challenge intolerance through education.'” Still, it’s not terrible and makes the point that diversity is good. And it ties everything back to the coordinators’ values: “challenging intolerance through education.”

But, then, things go off the rails: “Misconceptions about these religions range from the belief that they practice devil-worship to concerns about casting ‘black magic’; in reality, most practitioners don’t even believe in an entity of all evil, are found in all walks of life from professionals to homemakers, and simply enjoy celebrating a religion that emphasizes respect for nature, humanity, and oneself.” [Please don’t say “oneself.” It’s almost never correctly used and sounds stuffy and fake.]

Remember, when you attempt to negate a negative frame, you reinforce it. The (too long) sentence above is a wordy version of Christine O’Donnell saying, “I’m not a Witch; I’m you.” All anyone remembers about O’Donnell is that she “dabbled into Witchcraft.” If you were a young family looking for a fun event, that last paragraph would likely to put you off. Why risk taking your kids to an event that’s at all mixed up with “devil-worship”? This just isn’t necessary. You know, there’s good reason for parents to be concerned about exposing their children to Catholic priests. Not superstition, but good, factual reason. And you’ll never see the local St. Anthony’s Fall Festival written up with a paragraph that says, “Some parents worry about our priests molesting their children, but our priests are really nice people who love little children.” Know why? Because that’s really bad framing.

So, let’s look at Pennsylvania:

Pagans celebrate pride at annual Erie County gathering

BY DANA MASSING, Erie Times-News
dana.massing@timesnews.com

Hundreds of pagans from at least three states and another country will gather in Erie County this month.

The seventh annual Pagan Pride Day sponsored by the United Neopagan Council of Lake Erie will be held Sept. 10 from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at St. Nick’s Grove in Millcreek Township.

New this year will be a special 2 p.m. acoustic show by Icarus Witch, part of an effort to expand the yearly gathering, organizers said.

“We decided this year to add some entertainment to it,” said Ruth Sprague, vendor/entertainment coordinator for the day.

Between 250 and 300 pagans and others from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York state and Canada are expected to attend, U.N.C.L.E. President Rich Konkol said.

“It’s a really good family atmosphere,” he said.

The annual gathering will feature workshops on pagan paths plus an evening bonfire and vendors selling books, pottery, jewelry, incense and other items, he said. Food also will be available for purchase.

Admission to Pagan Pride Day is free, organizers said.

However, there is a fee for the Icarus Witch show. Tickets purchased by Monday are $10.50 for adults and $5.50 for children, Sprague said. After that, including the day of the show, the price increases to $12.50 for adults and $8.50 for children, she said.

Sprague said the Pittsburgh-based band has a new singer, Christopher Shaener, who is originally from Erie. The group, which has six albums, plays “metal in the tradition of the early masters,” according to its website, she said.

“This is a real rare thing to get them to do an acoustic show,” Sprague said.

Besides providing entertainment, Pagan Pride Day is meant to educate, Konkol said.

He said people who follow the pagan path attend to learn more about it.

Organizers also try to attract the general public so people can learn about the polytheistic and nature-based religions practiced by pagans.

DANA MASSING can be reached at 870-1729 or by e-mail.

Nicely done. Notice how the emphasis is on what Pagan Pride Day IS and not on what Pagans don’t do. (I wish D. Massing would capitalize “Pagan,” just as s/he would capitalize “Christian,” but that’s not the organizers’ responsibility.) There’s basic information about the event, a focus on a new feature for this year, and a good nod to the general public: “Organizers also try to attract the general public so people can learn about the polytheistic and nature-based religions practiced by [P]agans.” Nothing negative.

What about Wyoming?

Pagan Pride Day set for Saturday
BY AARON LECLAIR / LBEDIT7@LARAMIEBOOMERANG.COM • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

A local Norse pagan church will host a public festival this weekend to educate the public about paganism, to provide fun activities for children and adults and to collect donations for the Laramie Soup Kitchen.

The Wolf Tree Kindred will host a Pagan Pride Day festival from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday at the Otto Dahl shelter in Washington Park.

The event is alcohol-free and will include representatives from a number of pagan groups and belief systems from Laramie, Riverton and Gillette, Wolf Tree Kindred Gythia (High Priestess) Bronwyn Thompson and Chieftain Amy Bernard said.

“We hope to educate the community,” Thompson said. “(Paganism) covers a lot of religions that they would be familiar with, but just don’t realize that everything is lumped under one name.”

Buddhist, Daoist/Taoist, Wiccan, Eckankar and Unitarian Universalist groups have been invited to the event.

Pagan Pride Day will begin with an opening ritual performed by Jo Aelfwine, a local Wicca practitioner.

“Four different people will call down the cardinal quarters (North, South, East and West),” Bernard said. “And, we will invoke the blessings of the deities.”

Thompson said the opening ritual should last about 15-20 minutes.

From noon-5 p.m., activities and games will include sack races, water balloon tosses, relay races and Wolf Tree Kindred’s unique take on Pin the Tail on the Donkey with Pin the Tail on Sleipner. (Sleipner was the personal steed of Odin, chief of the Norse gods and father of Thor.)

There also will be tarot card, rune readings and a children’s booth with games, Bernard said.

In addition to activities and games, Pagan Pride Day will have raffles and a silent auction to raise money to support next year’s event.

Bernard said hosting this year’s Pagan Pride Day has “set us back over $1,500 or our own money.”

Raffle tickets will cost $1 or $5 for six tickets.

Items up for raffle include books, bath salts, crystal goblets, decks of tarot cards and “mystery baskets.”

“Hopefully, we’ll have an assortment for everyone, not just pagans,” Thompson said.

The silent auction will feature artwork, a Viking-style drinking horn made by Bernard, a collection of Joseph Campbell mythology books and handmade jewelry.

Both the raffles and silent auction will end at 7 p.m. Participants do not need to be present to win.

Vendors, meanwhile, will be set up around the Otto Dahl shelter and will sell jewelry, clothing and other arts and crafts.

Wolf Tree Kindred asks that all participants bring a canned good or nonperishable food item to be donated to the Laramie Soup Kitchen.

Pagan Pride Day will end at 8 p.m. with Bernard directing a closing ceremony.

“We’re planning to do a Norse ritual,” Thompson said. “It’ll probably only last about 20 minutes.

“It might take longer depending on how many people decide to join in.”

A drinking horn full of apple juice will be passed around and the participants will make toasts to whomever they wish, Thompson said.

In the traditional Ásatrú ceremony, a drinking horn full of mead or ale is passed around and participants make toasts to the gods, other supernatural beings, heroes, ancestors, past deeds and to oaths or promises of future actions.

Both Thompson and Bernard said people should feel free at any time to ask Pagan Pride Day volunteers or Wolf Tree Kindred members any questions about paganism.

“We’ll all answer questions,” Thompson said. “We’ll all have nametags.”

There will be handouts with information about various pagan faiths, Bernard added.

For more information about Pagan Pride Day, contact Bernard at 421-1627 or Thompson at (480) 751-9194.

Laramie group has 10 full members

Wolf Tree Kindred was founded two years ago in Laramie and is officially registered as a church by the state of Wyoming, Bronwin Thompson said.

“We are what is called Ásatrú, which is also known as Heathen,” she said. “We follow the Norse gods.”

Ásatrú (Old Norse for “belief in the gods”) was practiced on a large scale for thousands of years throughout Europe before the rise of Christianity, according to the Ásatrú Alliance, which is one of four major national Ásatrú organizations.

Specifically, the Northern European inhabitants living in the lands that today are Scandinavia, England, Germany, France and the Netherlands practiced Ásatrú.

Back then, as they do now, Ásatrú followers worshipped the Norse pantheon of gods and goddesses, which includes Odin, Thor, Freya, Freyr, Tyr, Loki, Heimdall, Skadi, Frigga and others.

Ásatrú has received some negative press over the years with various White supremacist groups using the religion to promote hate.

However, the Ásatrú Alliance states Ásatrú is apolitical and does not “practice, preach or promote hate, bigotry or racism.”

Furthermore, Thompson said White supremacist groups that follow Ásatrú are no more representative of Norse pagans than the radical anti-gay, anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church is representative of mainstream Christians.

Wolf Tree Kindred has 10 full members who meet at Bernard’s home.

For more information about Wolf Tree Kindred, go to the church’s Web site at http://www.wyomingasatru.com or e-mail wolftreekindred@wyomingasatru.com or bthompson@wyomingasatru.com.

To learn more about Ásatrú, go to the Ásatrú Alliance Web site at http://www.asatru.org or to the Wikipedia entry for Germanic Neopaganism at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_Neopaganism.

This starts off really well and provides more detail than you often see concerning exactly what’s going to happen at the ritual. That can be reassuring for anyone, including wannabe and newbie Pagans, considering attending.

Here’s where the message goes off of the framing rails: “Ásatrú has received some negative press over the years with various White supremacist groups using the religion to promote hate.

However, the Ásatrú Alliance states Ásatrú is apolitical and does not “practice, preach or promote hate, bigotry or racism.”

Furthermore, Thompson said White supremacist groups that follow Ásatrú are no more representative of Norse pagans than the radical anti-gay, anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church is representative of mainstream Christians.”

Again, the Catholic church has received some negative press over the years with various priests using the religion to molest children. But you’re not going to read about that in an article promoting a family festival to celebrate the Feast of St. Ethelbert. So why do Pagans think they need to apologize?

However, let’s imagine that members of the Asatru Alliance feel that they simply must separate themselves from racisim. If so, how about this:

The Asatru Alliance is not a political organization. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national origin, or religion. We value diversity and all members of the community are genuinely welcome to attend our festival.”

Positive, but gets the message across. The organizers’ point that: “White supremacist groups that follow Ásatrú are no more representative of Norse pagans than the radical anti-gay, anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church is representative of mainstream Christians,” is a good one, but should be saved for a response to a specific question from the reporter: “Isn’t it true that Asatru groups are simply a cover for white supremacy?” It’s a nice way to frame the answer in terms that most Christians will understand and then allows the speaker to quickly shift focus. “Our event will include Buddhists, Taoists, and Unitarian Universalists. We’re collecting donations for the Laramie Soup Kitchen, which, as you know, feeds several hundred people a week . . . .”

BTW, the comments to this article are worth a read.

Check back later this week for more on how we’re doing framing our Pagan Pride events. If you’ve got an article about your event, please let me know. I’d like to start putting together a collection of well-framed announcements that other groups can use as models.

Picture found here.

Framing Pagan Pride Events


Here’s a simple announcement of a Pagan Pride event. It does a good job of focusing on the positive nature of the event.

WHITBY — Local pagans will gather to celebrate the harvest during the 8th annual Durham Pagan Pride Day on Sept. 11.

The event features workshops, vendors and two open rituals to celebrate the harvest and diversity, with a picnic-style pot-luck feast to close the event.

It is a chance for pagans to network and find information about local businesses, pagan meetups, religious groups and open events. Attendees are encouraged to participate in the workshops and join in the drumming entertainment. Guests are also encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item or household good for the food drive benefiting Simcoe Hall Settlement House, along with a pot-luck item to share while spending the day outdoors.

Durham Pagan Pride Day is at Rotary Centennial Park at the corner of Brock and Burns streets in Whitby on Sunday, Sept. 11 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Note the complete lack of any discussion about what Paganism isn’t and what Pagans don’t do.

I especially like:

It is a chance for pagans to network and find information about local businesses, pagan meetups, religious groups and open events. Attendees are encouraged to participate in the workshops and join in the drumming entertainment. Guests are also encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item or household good for the food drive. . . .

Anyone reading this article gets the impression that this is all as normal as can be. (Heck, local businesses might be interested in making sure that Pagans can find information about their goods and services and ask to be included.) That’s good framing. It presents Paganism in a positive light by focusing on what Pagans do. It doesn’t adopt someone else’s view of Paganism and then reinforce that view by trying to deny it.

(Of course, “Pagans” should be capitalized, just as one would capitalize “Christian,” or “Protestant,” or “Moslem.”)

Picture found here.

Beyond Gender

Here’s an example of good framing. The purpose of the short video is obviously to get word out about an upcoming retreat on gender issues and spirituality. Note that there’s no discussion of what the retreat won’t involve. The video starts off with information about how the retreat came about, what topics are going to be covered, what the retreat leaders hope will happen. There’s some practical information about how the days will be structured and where you can find more information. It’s not until the very end that the video covers what may be a sensitive topic (the retreat center is “clothing optional”) and even that is handled in a positive way that ties everything back to the purpose of the retreat.

Contrast this with the hundreds of interviews you’ve seen of Pagans wanting to get word out about an upcoming Pagan Pride (for example) event. “We’re having a Pagan Pride Day so that people will find out that we don’t worship Satan or eat babies. We don’t do hexes. We don’t hate Christians.” Often, that sort of thing takes up so much time/space that basic details about the event are left out: when, where, webpage, etc. And if they aren’t left out, the informative details are left to the very end.

If you’re going to interact with the media or do publicity, it’s worth watching this video a few times over to help get how good framing is done.

Framing the Discussion


Everybody knows that I’m a one-note crazy woman, always harping on how Pagans need to learn framing.

Maybe it’s my training as a lawyer. Maybe it’s my stubborn Moon in Taurus. Maybe it’s my Ascendent Gemini understanding that how you express yourself is as (if not more than) important as what you say. Or maybe it’s because so many well-meaning Pagans start off on a defensive foot, immediately undercutting their message. We’re heading into the season of Pagan Pride events, and (fair warning) I’m going to ramp up my rants about framing.

Gus diZerega writes one of the best blogs in Pagondom and if you don’t read him regularly, you should. He’s got a brilliant post about arguing (having a nice discussion) with a Christian Evangelical at Starbucks (because Gus has about 1,000 to the 1,000th power more patience and kindness than I will EVER have). And you need to read the post (it’s not long) to watch how skillfully Gus handles framing. Please. If you are EVER even maybe, possibly, likely, kindamaybesorta going to talk to the press (or Evangelicals at Starbucks) go read Gus’ post.
Here’s just a taste:

So we began. I stayed friendly but I never allowed him to set the terms of the discussion because, frankly, I find those terms and assumptions ludicrous. For example, John wanted me to acknowledge [that] if there was a deity, that deity owned the earth. Therefore everything we had[,] we owed to Him, and even our acts of generosity towards others were false because we acted with goods we did not own unless we were at peace with God. This is the perversion of spirituality that comes from injecting eonomics into religion.

I told him I did not think ‘God’ owned anything, which implied distance between God and the world. Rather the Sacred was in everything. I wanted him on my turf because then we could have an interesting conversation and he might learn something to deepen his understanding (emphasis added).

John’s most common tactic was to try and emphasize what we had in common once he knew I was not an atheist, trying to build a bridge between us. Normally I am into bridge building, but only when the other side is willing to respect mine. I knew this was not the case with any evangelicals I had ever met. The tactic was to open us up for the sales pitch that would inevitably come.

Consequently whenever he remarked on how much we had in common I would return to what we did not have in common, particularly their claims they were the only true [religion] and that there was something particularly special about Christian morality or practice.

I said of course we have some things in common, but there is even more that divides us. I have never seen in theory or behavior anything to set Christians aside as uniquely special ethically. Where’s the evidence? Also, while you have not said it, you believe you have the one true path. I say there is no such path. While you have not said it, you also believe all alternative religions are deluded, demonic, or deeply in error. I do not. He did not contest my statements. He could not and still be an evangelical.

Go, thou, and do likewise.

Picture found here.