New Witch magazine #04 (2003)
Anne Newkirk Niven, Editor-in-Chief

If there weren't such a distinct ideological clash with my Christian belief set, I'd have no problem jumping into the Wiccan/Pagan world. The love of nature, yoga, sexual frolicking, cool-ass animal spirit guides, quality incense and various herbs, floatation tanks, lots of acoustic guitar … well, grow my hair, pat my belly and call me "Jerry Junior" – yeah, I'm down with that shit.

My actual contact with Wiccans and the lot has been peripheral at best: hearing stories of friends attending free-for-all weddings in the woods, being greeted with an unexpected "Merry Meet" at parties, coworkers with former Wiccan roommates who claimed "collegiate religious persecution," many a suspicious Geocities page, etc.

So as I'm walking out of a local Barnes & Noble with my freshly purchased copy of New Witch #4 (which, disappointingly, left the clerk completely nonplussed), I started to ponder what to expect. Probably lots of initial brushy proselytization a la "we're not all green and have warty noses, you know".

And sure f'n enough, once you're past the cover which has the caption "not your mother's broomstick," the opening article goes straight into a "the world will never understand us" diatribe, right on cue. I guess I'm always surprised to see subcultures luxuriate in their off-centerness and yet absolutely crave attention and mainstream acceptance.

So it is with the SCA, Trekkers, furries, computer hardcore geeks, anime fanboys – groups that often share Venn diagrams with the "New Witch" coven. Look, ultimately, everyone with a passion is a geek, pure and simple. Embrace it, and "DoWhatChaLike," as Humpty Hump once said. Just realize that the moment you walk out of your wagon circle and into a rural Texas roadside bar, things can get topsy-turvy real quick-like.

So say I'm a "new witch" – will I enjoy New Witch magazine? I would imagine so. Loads of targeted advertising (crystal and herb outlets, various New Agey CDs); readers' letters answered by Good Witch/Bad Witch; recurring sections including an article this month about assembling a traveling altar (which had me until the author mentioned invoking "Thor and Loki" in an incantation. Her "General Protection Oil" recipe probably smells pretty righteous, though).

One of three main articles that caught my eye was the cover story about "Pagan Activism," which read more like a generic infoguide on the art of protesting. Good stuff for everyone to know, I suppose, be you protesting witch's rights or a fairer representation of Bigfoot in the media.

I checked out a couple of the sites mentioned in the "Pagan Radio Guide" article, which I found to be the magazine's most inviting feature, but the websites were rarely straightforward when I went online to visit. Also, a primer on Discordia quickly reminded me why I've always found that particular "practice" so grating in the first place.

Fill out the rest of the mag with many various book reviews and a write-up of witch-friendly RPGs, and you've got a sandalwood-flavored idea of what to expect. Granted, I've got a decidedly non-witch perspective, but do you really want Jay Leno to review a Harley monthly? Hmm, I kinda guess you would. Anyway, "God bless those Pagans" indeed, Homer.

Review by Bradley A. Milton