PantheaCon 2013 is over, and it may have been the best convention yet. Speakers came from all over, including Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero from Florida, Christopher Penczak from New Hampshire, Athena W. of who is up in Canada, and Lon Milo DuQuette from Southern California. Elysia, the head acquisitions editor for Llewellyn was there, as was Bill Krause, our publisher. Both of them were very busy, as was the area we had in front of the vending room. We offered book signing from some of the many Llewellyn authors who attended, and two panels on occult publishing. If you haven’t attended PantheaCon and enjoyed all of the people, events, hospitality rooms, dances, rituals, and dozens upon dozens of workshops, you should plan to attend next year.

On Monday, Lon, my wife, and I, in our annual trans-California journey, completed the six-hour drive back to L.A. We went down the I5, possibly the most boring highway in the universe. We passed “Cowschwitz,” (“Moochenwald?”) where the cows are kept until they are sent off to become hamburgers. Sometimes the trip is windy, and this was one of those times. Once, a tumbleweed flew in front of us and smashed into the front of the car. We had to pull over and tear it away. It reminded me a scene from a Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comic.

More terrifying, however, was that there seemed to be a small valley where the tumbleweeds collected in vast numbers. We referred to it as “TumbleCon.” We could see that some of the attendees would break free and attack cars passing by on the highway. Some of them were rolling and bounding quite fast, and we thought they might be part of some sort of Vatican Ninja Hit Squad intent on “taking out” any who dared stand in their way. The sudden and highly unusual resignation of the Pope added to our conspiratorial fantasies. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Maybe he actually resigned to take command of the hit squad!

Water-Witched Wine

The name “Mondavi” is practically synonymous with California wines. The Mondavi family not only helped make Northern California wines popular, they helped establish the way wines are described.

As you can well imagine, to grow the grapes for wine requires lots of great water. Even in Northern California where there is a lot of rain, it is often too seasonal or there may not be enough. What’s needed is good water wells.

Calling in geologists to find water can be quite expensive. Often, small farmers all over the world turn to the ancient methodology of finding water known as dowsing, divining, or water witching. When he was a young boy, Marc Mondavi learned water witching. Over the next 40 years he has worked on and improved his skills. In fact, he is considered one of the top water dowsers in California. According to an article in the S.F. Gate:

“I don’t know how he does it, and I’m not going to learn,” said John Franzia, whose Bronco Wine Co. in Ceres (Stanislaus County) grows 40,000 acres of grapes and makes Charles Shaw‘s Two-Buck Chuck and 59 other popular wine brands. “But I’m a believer because I have water.”

Franzia has 300 wells on his various properties, and Mondavi told him where to drill a number of them. Rombauer Vineyards, maker of a famous Chardonnay, uses him. Patriarch Koerner Rombauer even had rods custom-created for Mondavi. When Carmen Policy, former president and CEO of the San Francisco 49ers, bought property in Yountville contingent on finding water, Mondavi was called in. He found a gusher.

Even though Marc and his brother Peter run the day-to-day operations of Mondavi wines, Marc clearly identifies himself as a genuine water witch. And this is clearly not some sort of publicity stunt. To honor his skill, he named his new wine brand The Divining Rod. Here is their logo:

They were represented at PantheaCon and want people to know that they want to participate and help out at book signings, festivals, conventions, events, etc. I received a copy of a child’s pop-up book that honored diversity and “a special understanding of nature.” They also had divining rod sets and even a booklet called Turning Water into Wine: a Guide on Water Divination by Water Witch Marc Mondavi. You can find The Divining Rod on Facebook and on their own website.

Of course, the bottom line has to be their wines. So far, they have just two. Their white wine is the 2010 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay. I did not try it. Their red is the 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I did get a bottle (thank you!) to try. For those of you unfamiliar with cabernet sauvignon, it can have a very dry flavor that is tangy and a victim of a harsh bite. That is not the case with this wine.

When tasting a wine the first thing you do is look at it. This one is a mysterious, deep, dark red, implying a secret dark fruitiness. Then you gently swirl the wine in a large glass to help aerate it, releasing its inner secrets. The third step is to smell it to get the “nose” or aromas of the wine. This wine’s nose was flavorful yet surprisingly mild. Some cabernet sauvignons can be overpowering. It is only the fourth step in the technique when the wine is actually tasted. This wine was rich and full without the harshness found in many cabernets.

I would say this is an ideal wine for someone interested in trying wines for the first time, as an accompaniment to food, or as part of a ritual. Seriously. It doesn’t give you that cabernet “pucker face” that turns many ritualists off of this type of wine. It’s hard to do an invocation when your mouth looks like you’ve been sucking on an ultra-sour lemon!

This is a deliciously “safe” wine, making it perfect for many uses. Some connoisseurs may not think it’s adventurous enough. I think that’s true. But if I want adventure, I’ll travel to a far off country, thank you! For wine, this is great. “The Tasting Panel” magazine gave this wine 90 out of 100 points, which is excellent, especially for a new brand’s first effort.

Those of you who have regularly read my writing or who have attended my workshops know that I strongly support independent bookstores and retailers. I also support those people who manufacture for us not because they see us as a market, but because they are practitioners, too. Therefore, if you drink wine, I hope you will give them a try. And if you are putting on an event, get in contact with them to see how you can support them as they support us. I hope The Divining Rod has a bright future. They claim their wine isn’t only natural, it’s supernatural. Maybe it is.

Fox News

This is a blog about magick and what magicians are considering and doing. As such, the only news I give tends to be about where various authors are speaking. When it comes to local, state, national, and international political news, I have consistently said the same thing: become informed and use the power of the vote.

Over the same weekend as PantheaCon, Fox News aired a program with people commenting on Wicca and Paganism. Why? Because one college informed professors and students that everyone should be sensitive to each other’s religious holidays. That seems fair. But Fox news wouldn’t have it. They basically mocked Pagans and their beliefs, revealing their ignorance with their insults:

  • No, Fox News, Wicca does not have twenty holidays per year.
  • No, Tucker Carlson, there are more Pagans in the U.S. than there are Zoroastrians contrary to your false claims. In fact, there are more Pagans then there are Seventh Day Adventists. Are you going to insult them, too?
  • No, Tammy Bruce, this is not an attempt to “use” Pagans and Wiccans to attack Christianity.
  • Sorry, Tammy, there are many countries around the world where Wiccans and Pagans practice freely.
  • And sorry, but there is still lots of prejudice against Pagans and Wiccans here in the U.S. with physical attacks, people denied or losing jobs or housing, and as Patrick McCollum, a tireless worker for obtaining civil rights for incarcerated Pagans has shown, there is prejudice against a Pagan ministry within the California penal system.
  • Saying she didn’t “know a single Wiccan” doesn’t make a Fox panelist appear to be a great source of knowledge, although it didn’t stop her from making uninformed comments.
  • Tucker, you asked us to call you “a bigot.” Okay. I’ll go one further. You’re uninformed as well as being a self-described bigot.
  • Many, if not most Wiccans can name all eight Wiccan holidays. There are 17 Roman Catholic Holy Days. Without looking at the link, how many on the Fox panel can name them all? How many Roman Catholics can name them all?
  • Sorry, Tucker, I don’t play D&D. Some Wiccans do play D&D and some even watch you.
  • No, Tucker. Most Wiccan women are not “middle-aged twice-divorced living in a rural area…[and work] as a midwife.” By the way, why do you make being a midwife, a person who helps bring lives into the world, sound so insulting? In my opinion being a midwife is far more important than sitting on your behind and pontificating on things about which you have no knowledge.
  • Why did all of you show such utter contempt for your viewers that you didn’t even bother to show some integrity and do the slightest bit of research on the subject? Should we assume this is the way you and the rest of Fox News approach all of your news “analysis?” Should we assume all Fox News personalities are equally ill-informed, lack integrity, and are contemptuous of their viewers?

I need to acknowledge that later, Tucker Carlson, rather than go on TV to apologize, went on Twitter (with an audience that may only slightly overlap that of Fox News) to say he apologized. However he didn’t apologize for making stupid, ill-informed, inaccurate and absolutely incorrect comments. Rather, he apologized for hurting anyone’s feelings. That’s like saying, “Sure, I killed your dog, your daughter, and your wife. I’m sorry if that upsets you.”

The outright misrepresentation and stupidity exhibited during the brief segment of the weekend show has created a firestorm in the Pagan community. Naturally, there’s a petition about this, and as of this writing over 33,000 have signed.

Frankly, I don’t know why this surprises anyone. Fox News has a long, documented history of twisting and misrepresenting the truth to fit their belief system. Getting upset now at their lack of knowledge, their lack of integrity, and their outright misrepresentation of facts is way behind the curve. Fox News has been doing perfecting this for over fifteen years. If you’re just becoming aware of this now, you haven’t been paying attention.

By the way, although Fox News may be the most egregious offender when it comes to twisting and misrepresenting facts, they are far from the only new organization doing this.

Can’t Live With ‘Em; Can’t Live Without ‘Em

When I give presentations, such as I did at PantheaCon, I use slides on my primary computer. It’s a laptop that I can carry around, but when I’m in my home office I hook it up to a larger monitor and a wireless keyboard.

Well, I’ve got a gazillion emails stored, so I did a little work to clean up the growing disorganization. In the process, I was able to make several hundred emails completely vanish. Ah, the wonders of magick!

Luckily, I was able to find them on a backup (Note: If you have anything on your computer that is irreplaceable you must have a back up and use it!). However, they’re not in the right places and I now have to sort through them all and put them in the proper mailboxes. Several people emailed me just before last weekend and during the weekend. If so, I will get to your email, but it may take a few days longer than expected. I apologize for the delay and thank you for your patience.

Written by Donald Michael Kraig
Donald Michael Kraig graduated from UCLA with a degree in philosophy. He has also studied public speaking and music (traditional and experimental) on the university level. After a decade of personal study and practice, he began ten years of teaching courses in the Southern California area on such ...