My friend Chris Allaun of the Chicago chapter of the Queer Neopagan spirituality group Fellowship of the Phoenix invited me to participate in his Zoom interview last night of acclaimed contemporary American Witchcraft teacher and author Christopher Penczak, and I’m glad I did. Here’s the link to the full 54-minute-long recorded interview. My question comes in at 38:31. Here’s the transcript of what I typed in the Chat and how Christopher Penczak answered:
Are fewer Witches willing to join formal covens/groups/lodges/Traditions these days?
MY TYPED QUESTION:
Given your decades of experience of service to community, do you worry that fewer and fewer Witches/Magical Practitioners—empowered by the solipsism fueled by technological advancements— are seeking to join formal groups/covens/lodges/Traditions?
Christopher Penczak’s Reply (My Transcript):
“That’s a great question! I think it depends on the day: there’s some days I worry about that greatly; there’s other days I’m really assured by the people that I meet. I think technology has done some wonderful things to connect us. I think technology has done some terrible things to disconnect us.
“I think more, it’s been difficult in the time of COVID, to have those in-person connections. But I will say, despite teaching online—which was a struggle for me; I wasn’t really in favor of teaching online, but I had so many requests about it even before COVID. I’ve been doing an online mystery school since 2007, I think? Just because there’s so much to teach and I couldn’t travel that often to do these weekend workshops—I’ve seen community build in the places where I’ve taught. I’ve visited other communities that have been amazing—that put on amazing festivals, and groups, and Sabbats, and I still think that there’s a genuine current of Students, of Seekers, who want to join authentic Magical Traditions, and I think that will always be a part of our life, so Im not that worried about it.
“I think right now we’re in a wonderfully weird state that we’re in a ‘Witchcraft Boom.’ The last Witchcraft Boom we’ve had was, like, in the early 90s, when I was getting into this, and you’re gonna see the tide rise and you’re gonna see it recede, and some will stay and some will go, and that’s life. So I think right now we see a whole bunch of interest and a whole bunch of chaos. I remember talking to some of my teachers at that time and they were sort of aghast at what was going on in the 90s, and I thought, ‘Oh this is great; this is how I started and everything’s wonderful.’ Now that I’m at the age that I’m at, I sort of understand why they were aghast but I think it all worked out, you know, for the most part. I think these tides shift and change and the Seekers will find it and the people who want to embody it and serve will serve. And I think sometimes communities will get large and sometimes communities will get small. That doesn’t mean that they’re good or bad communities; I think it’s just the tide of where we’re at.”