Rhyd Wildermuth wrote a scathing review of Alex Mar’s new book, Witches of America, apparently an exploitative bit of shallow tourist-journalism that could not have happened if Mar had not deceived her sources about her intent.
This is a pity. I liked American Mystic, Mar’s documentary film on the same general topic. I liked the thought that our weird little subculture might be on the verge of being better understood and tolerated by the mainstream, appreciated to some small extent for what we appreciate about ourselves.
This is really disheartening.
When I first started hearing about this, it was incredibly frustrating, because I was hearing about something vague but awful that had happened to people I know but who were never identified. Now I know, I understand why folks didn’t want to talk about it. This is betrayal and defamation, and it has and will continue to cause trouble within our community and between the community and the larger world.
Long story short: Documentarian enters several Pagan communities, possibly with sincerity at first, then writes a tell-all book filtering the lives of her subjects uncritically through her own, dismissive biases.
I’m not claiming we’re perfect–Gods know we have our share of malcontents and unsavory types in the modern Pagan community. That most readers of this book will have as their only idea of who we are from this writer, though, is unhappy-making.
I can’t blame the people who talked to Mar. While this is an example of why we have to be careful about who we talk to and who we let into our lives, it is also an example of the fact that nobody’s bullshit detector is perfect, or possibly that someone may enter in good faith and later turn on us.
To indulge in my Doctor Who fandom for a moment…
“But he had such an honest face!” -Romana
“The best liars often do.” -The Doctor