A Transition into a New Era
Jason Pitzl-Waters recently posted about his decision to step down from his position and role in the Wild Hunt, and return back to a semi-secluded life of privacy. I can completely understand the reasons for this, for someone upthrust into a leadership (or perceived leadership) position, the stresses with dealing with a number of people, and being an unanticipated spokesperson within the various communities. While not as shocking or as saddening as the loss of an elder due to the cessation of life, the news that he was stepping down from The Wild Hunt resonated with me. I was surprised at how the news stayed with me, after I read the article. It has definitely been on my mind a lot today.
Anything I can say about it, any words of congratulations to him, or lamentations that he is stepping down, will be inevitably drowned out by others who were closer to him, or write more eloquently, or have a greater readership. This middling portal of writings, thoughts, and disconnected endeavors is such a small speck in the larger ocean of Pagan blogging, that I’m sure he’ll never read this. And that’s fine.
You see, I don’t know JPW. At all. I’ve never spoken to him, save for once or twice through the comments on his site. We probably wouldn’t attend a ritual together, since he’s a Wiccan and I am a Heathen (or Reconstructionist Roman, depending on which side of the coin is flipped on any one day) so our religious theologies won’t really match up.
But in a way he’s been part of my daily life since I made the effort to re-engage Paganism, and that makes this a big thing for me.
When I first went to college, about a year before the Wild Hunt launched, I fell into a group of friends that were fairly spiritually and religiously non-existent. They’re not bad people, by any means, but they’re agnostic at best and it just never came up. It took two years for me to being the process of re-engaging in some of my practice and learning, admittedly piecemeal.
I don’t remember how I found The Wild Hunt. I don’t remember what year it was. It was probably some time around 2007, or so. It was definitely before the site made its brief foray into the Patheos family. So, taking 2007 as a ballpark, that’s seven years where The Wild Hunt has been providing me with news and knowledge of the larger Pagan sphere. I’m a solitary practitioner, and it’s only been recently that I’ve attempted to accumulate a larger group of like-minded individuals. Although the days of Livejournal saw me with co-religionist bloggers and journal writers, I’m actually trying to engage more. Then the Wild Hunt was my window into a larger world. It was an almost daily ritual for me to check the site, just to get some connection and some sense of place.
I cannot say for certain what the state of my religious identity would be without the Wild Hunt’s services over the past decade. There were other sites, other blogging platforms and editorials that existed. But somehow, despite the fact that they existed, I got more out of JPW’s writings on the Wild Hunt.
Maybe it was because he approached topics as an actual journalistic endeavor, and not as an emotional opinion piece. Maybe it was his dedication to the writings and his desire to see stories through until some conclusion. His unerring and selfless drive to present the facts in a way that were relatable to me and to other Pagans reading from thousands of miles away, from around the world. The ability to make a disparate group of identities, beliefs, and outlooks important to me.
Do I agree with everything he states? No. Do I agree with some of the writers and bloggers he’s added to the Wild Hunt’s growing column? No. There are days, now, when I just skim the title, and ignore the post if I don’t want to read it. But that’s fine. I don’t expect to find total accord with any one person’s opinions. I shouldn’t, at any rate. I don’t respect many people in the blogosphere. But I respect him, even if I do not agree with some of the things he says.
I hope that, regardless of what he does from now on, that our collective history (provided we survive as a movement) will give credit to Jason for helping to lay the groundwork for true Pagan intrafaith efforts. In the ten years since the inception of the Wild Hunt under his stewardship there has been tremendous growth and change within the community. I’d like to think that he’s helped to (largely) prevent some of that change from leading to blows and bitter feelings, by aiding in the establishment of a dialogue between each other.
This post will be lost within the cacophony of Pagan voices who will either lament or congratulate him on his efforts. I do not expect his eyes will ever fall upon these words.
And that’s fine.
Regardless of that, I want to wish him good luck and to simply say “Thank you”.
So thank you, Jason.
And good luck.
Thanks for reading.