Publicity and preparation

I had been thinking there has been something I wanted to post about, but could never remember when I went to write here.

Yesterday morning, as I reviewed the interested emails regarding our Midsummer Eve rite last night, I remembered what it was — an article on the local Pagan community (warning: PDF; bottom of the page) in Voices, the local alternative newspaper. I come in part-way through, with a picture of me engaged in ritual. They asked to take a picture, and after contemplation I figured that a picture of me being a public Pagan was better than a photograph of Art, public Pagan.

The photography for Voices was done spur-of-the-moment to fit their publication deadlines, and involved me grabbing appropriate items (including my personal shrine’s oil candle in the hope it would stay lit better in a breeze than tea-lights) last-minute. Despite this, I arrived with everything I wanted in-hand and improvised my way through ADF’s Core Order of Ritual without a hitch. Doing rites during the week has a similarly frrantic feel to me. On the day of, even with advance preparation and my noticing that everything is going as-expected or better, I’m still anxious. The last weekday rite involved me wondering why I was so wound up when everything was already packed the night before.

Midsummer Eve last night was the same way — everything went just fine. Still, the feeling of stress remains. In the future, I think I’ll try to take the days of weekday rituals off, to give me more time for calmness — and allow the focus to sit on the High Day rite itself.

Or encourage more weekends, in the modern Pagan fashion.


Here’s a secret of mine: I dislike writing the email announcements for upcoming rites. I’m not certain why, exactly; I think part of it is that in addition to announcing on a local list and Witchvox, I also post announcements on a number of regional lists — one for Central Pennsylvania, two for Pennsylvania itself, and one for ADF’s Heartland region (PA is the eastern outpost of it; it’s actually faster for me to get to Trillium Gathering, in northern Virginia, than to get to the Ohio border).

I suspect it may be that I feel I’m reiterating the information on the additional lists without people necessarily getting anything out of it. Part of it, I know, is to make certain others across the state are aware there is a group in this area, for word-of-mouth.

Perhaps I should show off the most recent email announcement, more or less . The level of detail varies based on the region; the PA lists know what “State College” means, but the Heartland region might have more than one.

Subject: HVP Ostara 3/15 11:00am (State College, PA)

Hemlock Vales Protogrove, ADF will be holding an Ostara rite at
11:00am on Saturday, March 15th. It will be in Room 1 at the
Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Centre County, in State College.
There is a map with arrows at — note
that they are off the traffic circle at the end of Waupelani Dr.

Web page: [Edit: defunct website]
Phone number: Feel free to call me at 814-321-5521 with any questions
or last minute directions help.
Email to:

So, I wonder: good? bad? more info? less?

Advertising in the right way

Yesterday, there was a definite spike of interest in Hemlock Vales, apparently linked to a number of visits to the Imbolc page. (I wonder what I should do with that page once the rite is done.) Two new people signed up for the local Pagan e-list that is largely occupied by HVP discussion, which isn’t exactly a simple set of jumps from that page, given the need to sign up with a Yahoo and all.

Why was this? We’re having Imbolc at the local Unitarian-Universalist fellowship, and I submitted a note for their email newsletter including a link to that page, which went out at noon yesterday. After noticing the spike, I actually improved that page significantly from what it was to explain Imbolc a little better. I’ll have to remember to do that before the next announcement goes out, since if this works well I’m planning to have the equinox rite there as well.

Now, I’ve done sign posting on the fellowship’s community bulletin board in the past and the response has been mild. In my mind, the difference is that this made it easy. Instead of a slip of paper they could then lose or not get around to entering, it was a link they could click right at that moment. It’s the same thing as writing down the email address of the person you want to get in touch with instead of giving them a card (though, of course, both is better) — you’re lowering their barrier to taking action.

I look forward to seeing how this rite goes — I’ve already been given the option to use a larger room if needed (and settle the difference after), though their “small” room is larger than I remember from when I helped out with a Neighboring Faiths class.


I started this site separately, in part, to feed traffic to the main site for Hemlock Vales Protogrove, ADF.

Let’s try doing those searches I mentioned again…

If I search Google with state college” druid I don’t see Hemlock Vales Protogrove, ADF — but I do see another, related site in position 7.

Likewise, “state college” pagan doesn’t point to Hemlock Vales Protogrove, ADF — but that same related site is in position 9.

Which site would that be?

This one.

Maybe I should have just done this blog right on the PG site…or perhaps I’ll put together a thinly disguised post to help the situation.

Finding your group

Back a bit, Eric Sink wrote How would you reach YOU? It was about marketing software, but the same question is applicable to any small modern religious group, Pagan or otherwise.

For me, the fact Hemlock Vales is linked from ADF’s main site is enough, as I was interested in ADF after finding out about ADF through Isaac Bonewits’ website, which I learned about from, of all places, Steve Jackson Games when they republished Authentic Thaumaturgy.

But what if we assume a hypothetical Arthur who didn’t get that link set? How would he find Hemlock Vales?

A first answer would be Witchvox. And, indeed, Witchvox has an entry set up for Hemlock Vales Protogrove. Okay, let’s go further. Assume this hypothetical ur-Art doesn’t know about Witchvox.

Okay, let’s go to Google. Other search engines may be equally important, but Google is the most known/best-analyzed.

“state college” druid — click in three pages, don’t see anything relevant

“state college, pa” druid — The fifth link down will get them there via ADF’s main site. Not bad, not great.

It gets worse if you change out “druid” for “pagan”. But there is a bright spot: Try “penn state” or PSU with pagan…and you see the student group’s home page.

Perhaps I’ll ask them for a link.

And I’ll seek out other ways of improving my link-fu. (Let’s be honest, this blog is one of them.)

This is, of course, all about online marketing. What about offline? It seems harder in some ways, yet effort there can yield results. The easiest route is, obviously, word-of-mouth. I’ve had a number of referrals from the UU regulars of other UUs interested in finding a more Pagan-focused group locally. It hasn’t usually panned out…but it’s worthwhile. To get good word-of-mouth, though, requires a positive impression.

Another major offline option is flyers…which I think are best saved for later.