Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

(Version 2.7)

Copyright © 2004, 2005 c.e., Isaac Bonewits

This is an update of the letter I posted on this site and in February of 2004.

Dear brothers and sisters,

It is with profound regret and embarrassment that I issue a plea for help to my readers, those who have enjoyed my workshops over the years, those who have visited my website, and others who appreciate my work. As many of you may know, I resigned as the original Archdruid of ADF back in 1996 because my health had deteriorated so badly (due to the tryptophane poisoning) that I was unable to handle my duties as Archdruid or the stress of leadership in an organization as full of feisty individuals as ADF is.

My health has been down, then up, then down again; usually getting worse in the winters and better in the summers. Never has it been good enough to allow me to return to the sort of corporate 9-5 that I used to be able to manage, especially since corporations don’t like workers falling asleep at their desks every day. I’ve been eking out my survival since, with a few good years after my legal settlement came in, but most of that income was drained away by some bad financial decisions, followed by a long period of income from writing, speaking, and webwork just not matching outgo. My SSI Disability payments were cut off a few years ago and the rules for getting back on again are more brutal than ever.

For all of 2003 I spent my time and energy trying to get my own Pagan publishing company going and living on the last of my savings. Well the company is doing well, but it won’t ever bring me in any real income and my savings are long gone. Recently I’ve posted mp3s and ebooks for sale on my website and been scrambling for other ways to generate income, including trying to get more speaking gigs, but nothing is happening fast enough for our current needs.

As I have mentioned before, winter is a bad season for Pagan elders. With festival season (and its paid lectures) not due to start till April, and Yule shopping for books and tapes over, January through March are the hardest months for Neopagan teachers, authors, and clergy. This is why I have frequently asked members of the Neopagan movements to support their valuable living resources by buying our books and tapes or donating to support our websites and our work.

In February, 2004, our situation came to a head. My fiance had a full time job, thank the Gods, but it didn’t bring in enough to even pay the rent. Neither of us had money for medication for several months. Neither of us could get the chiropractic or other medical care we needed since suffering two car accidents in 2003. Her car had been repossessed and mine was about to be next. The landlord had started eviction proceedings, and the gas and electricity were about to be turned off. Other Pagan elders have wound up homeless and living on the street over the last few years and I really didn’t want to join them, but I sincerely feared that that was exactly what was going to happen if we didn’t get some help fast.

Please don’t tell me that, since I’m such a famous magician, I “ought” to have been able to do all the money magic we needed. There are several kinds of magic that I’m good at, but money magic has never been among them. When I’ve had money to spare I’ve always given it generously to good causes and needy individuals. Now I had to ask for help from those who said they were glad I’d done the work I’ve done. I knew I wasn’t the only one hurting financially. Other Pagan elders were also having serious trouble, hundreds (if not thousands) of Pagans had been “downsized,” and millions of others were (and still are) suffering in this supposedly “recovering” economy.

Finally, we couldn’t think of anything else to do but ask my readers and those who felt they had benefited from my teaching to help us out of this hole. It took weeks of agonizing to get to this point, and I acted only after several paying projects were canceled at the last moment. Please, I said, “if you can’t make an outright donation to us at our PayPal account, or buy one of the many tangible products I’ve tried to sell via my website and my Cafe Press shop over the last few years, or organize a paying gig in your home town, all of which I know will be true for many of you, at least get together with some friends and pray for uswe need healing, protection, and yes, enough prosperity to survive.”

If my own readers, students, and webfans wouldn’t do it, who would?

Much to my astonished delight, dozens of people around the world did just that, to the extent that we were beginning to think that things were completely turning around for us.

However, as of May 1, 2005, things are no longer looking up. We were most of the way out of our hole, thanks to many Pagan’s generosity, but another car transmission meltdown (leading to the confiscation of our minivan after paying the repair shop $1400), Phae being out of work for six weeks due to illness, and the wretched economy leading many Pagan festivals to cut back on paid speakers, have meant that we have still to catch up on older bills before we can pay current ones. We are back to wondering if we will have shelter tomorrow, as the landlord wants to kick us out immediately. We are currently scrambling to find new sources of income and/or cheaper places to live (that won’t require me to never see my son again), but those improvements will not happen overnight. Right now (May 2005) we are stuck in a situation that makes it impossible to save enough (around $3500) to move to cheaper housing, because by the time we get close to that amount, the next month’s rent is due.

Those of you who held off on sending us help because it looked like things were improving for us may want to resume thinking about what you can do to aid us (or other local Pagan elders if you don’t know us from Cuchullain or Maeve). Certainly, I will never again tell folks to stop sending help until any emergency I’m in has completely turned around, because apparently Murphy just takes that as a challenge! So I will continue to remind people that the PayPal system lets you make fast, safe and secure online purchases and donations. If you think a particular essay or other page here (or just my 35 years of service to the community) is worth supporting, click on the “Donate” box at the bottom of most pages to send me a small sum.

Or if you prefer, you can use’s Honor System and click on its “Give” box instead. This will be handy if you already have an account there for purchasing books, videos, CDs, etc., and will protect your credit card information and privacy. Those who don't have access to Paypal or the Amazon Honor System can snailmail donations to: Isaac Bonewits, PO Box 1010, Nyack, NY 10960-8010, USA.

I spend many hours writing material for this website, for new books, for lectures and workshops, for educating the general public, and in response to media and academic queries (not to mention pastoral counseling, national networking, and other priestly duties). If you think my work is valuable, please be one of those few farsighted people who support me in these endeavors. If you think that all authors are “wealthy” or that all information should be “free,” please read Freedom of Information and Supporting Pagan Creators. As I said in that essay, “Try to remember that no matter how bad the economy seems to you, it's worse for most of your community’s creative artists and clergy.”

Of course, you can also patronize my Graphics Design Store for subversive and provocative images to wear and display, buy my treebooks and eBooks, and/or buy MP3s of my songs and those of my former band, Real Magic.

Something that is perhaps more important than responding to one Pagan elder’s plight, however, is the now obvious and growing need to set up long term solutions to help all of us old coots who have worked so hard for this community. If we are to be a healthy and functional family of religions, we can’t just use up and throw away our elders, whether they are sages or crones. It is way past time to begin setting up Pagan Old Folks Homes and other Pagan charities all around the U.S., Canada, Australia, the Celtic Isles, and elsewhere.

Obviously, if you are an inch away from eviction yourself, or wondering where the grocery money is going to come from (and many Pagans are), don’t send me money. But if you know any Pagan authors, leaders, or teachers in your city or town, call them up and see if they need any groceries, household supplies, help with the rent/mortgage, clothes for their children or grandchildren, or just plain company. Remember, the more time they spend helping the community, the less time they spend on themselves and their own needs. Neopaganism cannot survive as a movement if 99% of us remain takers most of the time and only 1% are givers. I have been delighted to meet some of that 1%, but we need to increase that percentage dramatically over the next several years, or some of Pagandom’s best known elders are going to be living—and possibly dying—on the streets...


Copyright © 2004 , 2005 c.e., Isaac Bonewits. This text file may be freely distributed on the Net, provided that no editing is done, the version number is retained, and everything in this notice box is included. If you would like to be on one or more of Isaac Bonewits’ emailing lists, click here to get subscription information.

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