By Dillon Pilorget | The Oregonian/OregonLive
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on September 30, 2015 at 5:00 AM, updated September 30, 2015 at 5:07 AM
This is a reprint article, see the orignal at:
For tips on protecting your house with Voodoo or spicing up your cooking with magic, look no further than the most recent issue of Witches & Pagans magazine.
It's a niche publication, to be sure. But it's not so obscure that you can't find it at Barnes & Noble.
This duplicity is by design. The magazine's editor, publisher, designer and witch-in-chief, Anne Newkirk Niven, wants Witches & Pagans to be her community's journal of record while staying accessible to curious outsiders.
After all, if she could become a witch, so could anybody.
Once on track to become a United Methodist minister, Newkirk Niven "came out of the broom closet" about 30 years ago after feeling the need for feminine divinity. "As a human woman, I found it really difficult to always relate to God as a guy," she said.
Most pagans believe in at least one God and one Goddess, so Newkirk Niven found what she was looking for in Wicca, a pagan denomination commonly equated to witchcraft.
Today, Newkirk Niven publishes Witches & Pagans quarterly from her home in Forest Grove, with help from her husband and adult son. Freelance contributors fill its pages with personal essays and practical write-ups, keeping approximately 15,000 worldwide subscribers up to date on spells and theistic trends within their realm.
Her whole pagan publishing project goes back to the late 1980s, when the printing company she ran with her husband contracted with the former publisher of SageWoman magazine. In 1990, Newkirk Niven bought the magazine, and producing it and a few others here and there has been a full-time job since.
Witches & Pagans came about a few years ago, and it's currently the only other magazine besides SageWoman that Newkirk Niven publishes with her company, BBI Media.
Like her readers, Newkirk Niven is an ordinary person with a less-ordinary way of approaching religious worship and everyday obstacles. Her hat is not pointy, and her laugh is more a hearty chuckle than a wicked cackle. She doesn't fly on broomsticks, and they don't terrorize New England pilgrim settlements.
"We're not in Harry Potter world," Newkirk Niven said. "Honestly, I have never, ever seen Disney-style magic."
Still, in a playful nod to her fictional brethren, she does keep a black cat at home to ward off mice.
Most modern witches, both male and female, do magic by channeling their focus into aligning themselves with the universe, Newkirk Niven said. This comes from the largely pagan belief that the earth and the universe are conscious and able to interact with humanity.
By learning to read natural omens and using rhymes or objects as mere devices for intensifying focus, Newkirk Niven said witches can open their awareness of the universe's workings to their benefit. Spells can help their casters find a job or avoid injury. Hexing, or magic done against another, is a last resort and firmly frowned upon, she said.
"I think of it as probability enhancement," Newkirk Niven said. "It's always subtle."
Like the increasingly less profitable world of print publishing, magic is no way to get rich quick or realize your wildest dreams.
"If it was, wouldn't we all be sitting in mansions? I'd be on the beach in Bermuda with my feet up," Newkirk Niven said.
"Obviously the world doesn't work that way."
Newkirk Niven said she's content to live out her days keeping her counterparts informed and casting the occasional spell, even without the mansion and beachside lounging.
"I love words, I love religion, and I'm pagan," she said. "What the heck? I'm in my dream job."