So, welcome to the first episode of PaganFM! for 2009.


This past year has been amazing, and we’ve accomplished a lot. We’ve had interviews with Ellen Evert Hopman, Robert Tindall, Christopher Penczak, Adrienne from Spiral Dance, Greywolf from a Pagan Heart in Maine, and Holli Emore and Debby Fields-Berry from Cherry Hill Seminary.


The show started out with just me, playing what pagan music I could find. Then we started adding reviews, the almanac and more. Julia joined in with her Mystic Moment segment, Heather came on-board as co-host, and the show is growing in leaps and bounds.


We’ve got lots of plans for the coming year. Next week we’ll be speaking to Oberon Zell-Ravenheart about the recently published “Green Egg Omelette” and what’s going on with him.


We’ll speak in February with Catherynne Valente about her new book “Palimpsest”. We’ll be attending a few festivals this year and bringing you news from them, and we’ll hopefully be hooking up with S. J. Tucker and some other musicians and leaders in the pagan community as well.


I want to remind everyone that it’s a new month, and the voting is open on Podcast Alley. If you’re at your computer, head on over and vote for us, and your other pagan podcasters.


I want to thank Sparrow, from The Wigglian Way, for her kind words regarding the fill that Julia and I did for Burt Cohen’s Portside show on Tuesday. She commented on the song “Oh Holy Night” and mentioned that even as a pagan, how she’s a sucker for some of the Christian Hymns. Well Sparrow, I’m a sucker for some of them too.


I think that one thing that the Christian Church has in its favor, is the support that it has offered to artists through the ages. They have supported so many composers, artists and musicians, that they’ve developed an extremely rich body of artistic work. Artists were directly supported by the church; they had materials, instruments, a place to live and more. Even today, the church employs artists and composers, and constantly builds on its musical heritage.


But as Pagans, for the most part, we don’t have a large institution that can support individual artists. We’ve had our shining stars … Gwydion Pendderwen, Charlie Murphy, Isaac Bonewits and many others, and we have our newer bright lights, like Spiral Dance, Damh the Bard and others. But it’s difficult to support them the way the Catholic Church has supported their artists in the past. We might be able to offer an opportunity to do the cover of a magazine, but that’s quite different than the canvas of large cathedral ceilings in Italy on which to experiment.


If we wish to support the arts in our pagan community, we need to do so directly. We need to value the arts and compensate our artists. Sharing is a wonderful thing, but compensation is vital. If you hear music that you enjoy here, by all means, support the artists who make it. Buy the albums. Visit the web sites. Let the artist’s know that you appreciate their work.


If you have a coven or grove or group, and would like a piece of music written for a ritual, hire a musician to write it. That’s the kind of commissioned work that supported many Christian artists for so long. It’s not cheap work, but it is an amazing way to support your artists. Some pagan musicians have taken on that sort of work and done amazing jobs.


While you might be able to find some music on file-sharing networks, I really beg you to avoid doing that. First, there are lots of viruses, Trojans and other malicious software on those sites. But more importantly, when we get music that way, it does nothing for the artists. It is, in essence and actuality, a form of stealing.


There are lots of places that you can listen to music … we play some here. There is the Pagan Radio Network, lots of other podcasts, and Wiccanweb.CA has two radio channels. The difference is that this music is part of programming. Through PRN and other sources, artists can be compensated via licensing fees. Most podcasts have permission from the artists to air their music. In our cases, it’s partly a service to the artists. We’re not for profit, and airing their music is a form of promotion. Here at PaganFM! we hope that you’ll like the music you hear, and support the artists by legally purchasing the music that you like. Not only can you get high-quality recordings, but it’s a way of insuring that pagan music survives as an artform. If the artists are paid for their work, they’ll be more inclined to continue that sort of work.


This sort of fits in with something I’ve been thinking about a lot this week. I’ve been looking at the state of our economy and wondering how we managed to get in such a mess. What it really comes down to, at least the way I look at it, is the value of money.


We used to live in a world where money either had inherent value … coins were gold or silver or something precious. When you bought something, you were exchanging things of value. Purchasing a CD of music is an exchange, spiritually and physically.


Today though, money is something more of an idea than a thing of tangible value. We live in a world where money is created or destroyed based on perceptions. Take our housing market. If you bought a house 20 years ago, for say $50,000, and 2 years ago, you were able to take out a loan for $200,000, where did that money come from? There may have been no change in your property, you might have done no improvements, but someone thinks your home is worth four times what was paid for it. And it’s that “belief” that is actually being used to create money today.


I have real problems with the stock market too. While if I was starting a business, I might seek help with finances, and repay the individual who helped me, the stock market isn’t about creating jobs or businesses. It’s about creating wealth. A company is worth what whim dictates. It can increase in value or decrease in value based not on its performance, not on its inventory, not on projected sales, but instead on the confidence of stock-holders.


Many businesses aren’t in the business of creating tangible goods, but instead, in the business of instilling confidence in shareholders and creating wealth out of thin air. Companies buy up mortgages and the value is really only tied to what it is expected that homeowners will eventually pay the lenders. The only use of the home or land is as leverage to insure payment from the person who bought the house.


We live in a world where credit becomes more important than wealth. Few costly items are bought straight-out any more, but rather purchased with someone else’s money. The world is no longer about what you have, but rather what you can command or influence.


In any case, hopefully this is something we’ll outgrow. Hopefully the civilization of “letting the money do the work” will soon expire, and we’ll realize that what we do with our hands is far more important. “Letting the money do the work” results in sweatshops, melamine in milk, lead in toothpaste, put there by people trying to make more money at the expense of safety.


As pagans, we tend to value what it is that we do. Most of us aren’t in the business of trying to separate people from their money. We strive for an honest wage for honest work. Maybe if we live that to the best of our ability, it might start catching on again.


Anyway, stick around. We’ll have more great music, Julia will be back with her Mystic Moment. We’ll also take a look at a magazine that I found this week that I think you’ll enjoy.


© 2009, Deirdre A. Hebert