Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Community Service


One of my favorite archetypes has always been the Trickster. Always misunderstood and unappreciated for what they really are and the valuable service they provide. The "Trickster" is the mask of the Sacred Clown, in some Native (mystery) traditions these clowns possess a respected, revered and feared power few understand or even recognize.

Next month I will be speaking at the 2011 Conference on Current Pagan Studies. The focus of this years conference is "Sustaining a Pagan Community" and I will be addressing Rites of Passage and have the honor of speaking along side Selena Fox and Patrick McCollum.

I've been working on a three separate writing projects, and have trouble keeping them separate and they all seem to bleed into one another. One of those Pagan community topics that has been on my mind is Metaphysical shops. Many places I've been they always seem to be the hub of the Pagan community.

I know that the Enchanted Cottage in Bakersfield is for its Community, just as the Crystal Barn is for Visalia. A few weeks ago we were in Oakland to see Shakira and while we were in town I finally got to visit Ancient Ways, which started PantheaCon. It was a really great shop, a real "Pagan" shop. I especially liked the "Candle Dressing Policy" posted on the wall, that's when I knew I was in the right spot, and sure enough I looked up a saw the altar statuary set I've been searching for, for over three years. They have been out of production for some time, but everyone online still advertises that they sell them, until you try to purchase them. I'm on six different waitng lists, for when they become available again, and I found them both.

Grin.

So, I've my new book sales have been awesome! I can't believe I sold over a hundred copies! I didn't know I was that popular, or maybe it was the foreword from Raymond Buckland, or maybe people are just trying to help out. Whatever it was, thank you.

But despite the online sales, I still sell books in several local shops here in central California. At every store I have introduced myself as "Chaplain Nichter," and explained that I am a volunteer Wiccan Chaplain, that I wrote a book on Wicca for inmates, and that I send inmates free copies. I explain that for every single book sold I make enough to buy more two books and send them to inmates for free, and it even covers the two bucks for shipping.

"Charity Fund Raising"

Then I ask if they would be willing to carry a few copies for me, and they all have, and I get a call when one or two sell. Today I went by the local Fresno shop. We've been patrons there for over four years and have easily spent over six hundred dollars there in statuary, wall plaques, books, and very expensive hippie clothes, which I find ironic, but my wife loves her outfits.

So, I go through the exact same intro-explanation, with the owner, who knows me. And to my surprise, she conplained that the price of the book was too high.

"you don't understand...your selling these books at retail, you're suppose to sell them at whole-sell... other wise I can't raise the price to make anything out of it"

I told her I DID understand, and repeated ...charity fund raiser... after a moment of silence I asked her what price she recommended, and she replied:

"Well for starters, you need to find a cheaper publisher! You need to print at a much cheaper price so you can sell at a much lower whole-sell price, or no ones ever going to make any money! Second you need to learn about proper marketing, promotion and advertisement"

She took the books out of my hands and looked at them. Making a wry face she said "I guess I could try to sell them but no ones going to pay any more than the fifteen your already charging."

Now bear in mind that I only offered her three small copies, add a few bucks for each and we're talking about what? Ten bucks tops.

I gently attempted to take the books backs and said "you know what....never mind, I'm sorry to have bothered you." But she actually tightened her grip on them and said "I SAID I WOULD TAKE THEM!"

I pulled them out of her hand and said "No no that's ok, never mind... but couldn't resist telling her her "you know, I'm selling these books in six other shops and no one else is trying to make any money off of this non-profit-charity- fund raiser but you, I don't keep a dime, I'M GIVING THE BOOKS AWAY."

I left the area and went to find my wife so we could leave, and the owner came after me a cussed me out, "I didn't know her, who was I to give her attitude, I think she doesn't do charity work, I have some nerve being so disrespectful to her, She has rent to pay and who's going to pay for the space my book takes up on the shelf?"

So, once we got back into town, we made a stop by our beloved Crystal Barn. It's like Cheers, everyone knows your name, even the dog comes out to play with you and get petted. we weren't in the store more than ten minutes before the owner came out and gave us a gift wrapped Yule present!

One of the powerful things about Sacred Clowns is their ability to break all the religious rules and social taboos. That's actually their job, they violate and desecrate all we hold sacred and holy with humor, it's an art form, it's magic. By doing so they provide a contrast, we cannot have the light without the dark. The trick to is recognizing them when they come dancing into our lives.

Thank you Lord and Lady for the statues and the clowns. Blessed Be.

4 comments:

Miss Sugar said...

That's . . .really awful of that one shop. It makes me sad when Pagans act like jerks, especially when it's to other Pagans.

PhoenixAngel said...

sounds to me like the fresno store owner is having some issues financially, which really doesnt give her the right to react that way. since you gave the visalia and the bakersfield store a nice plug, she might have gotten one too, but now she has just hurt her business reputation. too bad. i will think twice before i spend my hard earned money at that store

Gwynt-Siarad said...

Ahem!...as a druid I feel it's my moral obligation to say..."Pbpbpbpbppbpbpbttttttt" to the fresno store.

WitchDoctorJoe said...

@ Miss Sugar, I do too! I think we need to stick together, I think the diversity we face should bring us closer together not farther apart!

@PhoenixAngel, she does have issues, but they're not financial. I'm not the only one she's danced the Clown dance for, it turns out a friend asked her what herb she recommended for a spell he was doing and she recommended he go home do his research/homework and come back when he knows what he's doing.

@ Gwynt-Siarad, well said! That was my reaction. I don't let people trick me into getting mad anymore. Instead I laugh and make fart noises as they dance their clown dance, and I appreciate the lesson that is being presented to me.

I have a few guidelines for my blogging, I only write about what I've actually done, not going to do. Keep it clean, and no ranting banter or flaming anger posts. At least no without some positive spin too balance it out.

Thanks guys!