As readers of this blog may know, there was a large Pagan rally in Washington D.C. on July 4th to celebrate the Veteran Pentacle Quest win, and to work towards true Pagan equality within the military.
“Help us voice a further agenda for Pagan Religious Rights: We want a Pagan chaplain in the U.S. Armed Forces. And we need to keep the focus on the Department of Veterans Affairs to accept Thor’s Hammer, religious emblem of the Asatruar, and the Druids’ Awen symbol … While we have won the quest for the Veterans’ Pentacle, the Pentacle is a single victory in the longer campaign for universal religious freedom. We need to hold a clear intent: we want to further the free expression of all religions, Pagan and otherwise. And we need to send that message now, while America still remembers that a department of the federal government systematically denied Wiccan soldiers their full rights.”
In the days that have followed there have been some reports from the event, news stories, and other media of interest to people following this new pan-Pagan effort. First off, Stars and Stripes ran a very nice article about a dedication ceremony for the first Pentacle-incribed headstone at Arlington National Cemetary.
“The Rev. Selena Fox said Wednesday wasn’t the first time she visited a Wiccan’s grave site at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It was just the first time one was identified that way. “This is the first time the Christian cross and Wiccan pentacle have both been engraved on a tombstone here, and it’s great news for us,” said the senior minister of Circle Sanctuary, a Wisconsin Wiccan community. “It’s recognition we’ve fought for for so long.” On Wednesday Fox, members of her congregation and other pagans held a consecration ceremony at the grave site of Jan Deanna, a Wiccan minister who passed away more than two years ago.”
The Rev. Barry Lynn (executive director for Americans United) interviewed several participants in the July 4th rally for his radio show “Culture Shocks”. Guests included Diana Paxson, Rev. J. Michael Akins, Rev.Selena Fox and Caroline Kenner. You can download an Mp3 of the entire show at this link.
Finally, author and ritualist Diana Paxson has also written an initial post-mortem of the rally on her blog.
“I’m still pretty jazzed by how well the Pagan Religious Rights Rally in Lafayette Square Park (across from the White House!) came off. This was a real pagan interfaith operation, and provided an opportunity to do some extremely useful networking regarding heathen military work…”
She (and AFA head Steve McNallen) are now looking for a relative of a deceased Heathen veteran so they can start the process of applying for the Thor’s Hammer symbol for military headstones and markers.
“I also had the chance to talk to Steve McNallen. One thing we all agree on is that the Hammer should be added to the VA list of faith-symbols, however for that to happen, someone’s kin have to apply for a tombstone. Our gods have been taking very good care of our serving personnel, and I’d like that situation to continue, so what we need is to find the next-of-kin of a deceased veteran who served in an earlier war who is willing to petition the VA for a heathen tombstone. If anyone knows of such a person, I can put them in touch with those who will be able to tell them what to do next.”
So it looks like this rally has given an important start to further activism towards expanding the freedoms afforded modern Pagans within the military (and in general). As always, if you know of any pictures or reports from the rally please post about them in the comments.