Pagan Community Notes: International Pagan Coming Out Day, Pantheacon, Mandragora, and more!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  February 2, 2011 — 26 Comments

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note, a series more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

International Pagan Coming Out Day: May 2nd has been announced as the first International Pagan Coming Out Day, an initiative “to achieve greater acceptance and equity for Pagans at home, at work, and in every community.” Cara Schulz, executive chair of the sponsoring organization, has a post up at Pagan+Politics explaining the event’s purpose and rationale, while Diana Rajchel at PNC-Minnesota interviews her about the new annual event.

Our website offers resources (like the IPCOD’s Guide to Coming Out authored by Drake Spaeth, PsyD) and encouragement for Pagans who choose to come out. We give Pagans a place to make their voice heard as they recount their personal stories of coming out or as they relate the experience that caused them to decide that they were not able or willing to come out yet. Through these stories, by more Pagans coming out and being visible, and by showing Pagan allies how they can stand with us, we hope to reduce stigma by putting a human face on Paganism. Some of the ‘out’ stories featured on our site are: A Pagan mother faces a home visit by her child’s teachers. Telling your parents. And my story, coming out in a police station.

The IPCOD site has listed ways in which individuals can participate, or if you’d like to become an IPCOD organizer. In addition to Schulz, the IPCOD executive committee is comprised of CUUPS Board Member Emeritus Dave Burwasser, licensed clinical psychologist, and Earth Traditions co-founder, Drake Spaeth, Anne Newkirk Niven, editor of three magazines for Pagans and their allies: SageWoman, Witches&Pagans, and Crone, writer and blogger Laura M. LaVoie, webmaster David Dashifen Kees, Nick Ritter, a Theodsman, and old Frisian and archaic Anglo-Saxon language specialist, and your’s truly. I have joined with Cara on this project because I think a unified effort towards ‘coming out’ is a needed one, a complimentary movement to our already vibrant Pagan Pride days. I hope you’ll support IPCOD, and help spread the word.

PantheaCon 2011 is Coming! PantheaCon, the largest indoor gathering of modern Pagans in the United States, held every President’s day weekend in San Jose, California, has posted their official schedule of events. A veritable “who’s who” of modern Paganism, Pantheacon features a large number of prominent authors, teachers, ritualists, and scholars giving talks, making presentations, participating in panels, and holding rituals. In addition, PantheaCon also hosts musical entertainment, including this year, Lasher Keen, Pandemonaeon, Wendy Rule, Land of the Blind, Celia, and Ruth Barrett. As I’ve mentioned previously, this year’s Pantheacon will feature a special screening of Alex Mar’s documentary “American Mystic”, which will be followed by a Q&A led by me with the director, Morpheus Ravenna, and members of Stone City Pagan Sanctuary.

Finally, on a personal front, I will be presenting an introductory talk on the Pagan Newswire Collective, followed later that evening by a special PNC meet-and-greet a the COG/NROOGD/NWC Suite. In addition I’ll be leading a panel discussion entitled  “Exploring New Media: A Pagan Perspective” featuring Thorn Coyle (Did you know she has a Twitter feed now?), Brandi Palechek from Llewellyn, Star Foster of Patheos, and Christine Hoff Kraemer from Cherry Hill Seminary. I’ll also be participating in a panel led by Devin Hunter entitled “Pagans in the Media: A Panel on 21st Century Pagan Leadership”. So it should be a busy time! Representatives from several PNC bureaus will be there, and I expect this may be covered PantheaCon yet! If you’re going, drop by and say hi!

After Datura, Mandragora: After the success of their anthology Datura (discussed here at TWH), Scarlet Imprint is planning a second collection of esoteric poetry, to be titled Mandragora.

“We are currently fielding poetry submissions from the global occult, magical and pagan communities for this work. Continuing in the same luminous, bejeweled tradition of excellence found in Datura, this new anthology will likewise combine a sampling of the best poetic work available from contemporary practitioners, as well as additional essays about the practice/performance of poetry, the role of poetry in devotional and ritual work, and the artistic culture of magic.”

Deadline for submissions is October 31st, 2011. To submit work to this project, please send 3-5 pieces of your best work along with a cover letter via email to collection editor Ruby Sara. For more information, check out the full announcement.

Pagans at the United Religions Initiative: Over at the COG Interfaith Reports blog, Don Frew reports from the in-progress first meeting of the Regional Leadership Team (RLT) of the Multiregion of the United Religions Initiative (URI) in Tepoztlan, Mexico. A Covenant of the Goddess National Interfaith Representative, Frew was recently voted in for another term as an At-Large Trustee for the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative.

“One of the CCs I coordinate – Spirituality & the Earth – is a Multiregion CC and was one of the founding CCs of the URI.  I had also served two previous terms on the Global Council.  Apparently they felt this gave me sufficient experience and ongoing connection to be able to jump right in and get to work.  (And boy did they have work for me to do!  In addition to helping revitalize the Multiregion, I was also asked to serve in the creation of and on the new External Affairs Committee, which will be responsible for crafting the URI’s official response to world events like what’s going on right now in Tunis and Egypt.  But that’s another story…)

While in many ways the Multiregion embodies the highest aspirations of the URI – people of all religions, spiritual expressions, and indigenous traditions working together around the world “to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence, and to create cultures of peace, justice, and healing for the Earth and all living beings” – it has always been sort-of the odd-man-out.  It’s been a lot easier to organize CCs who all live in one geographic area than it has been to organize something as far-flung as the Multiregion.  We have been VERY reliant on modern technology to create and maintain our network.  We had our very first face-to-face Regional Assembly only last March.  (See the reports in this blog in March 2010.)  That meeting generated a LOT of enthusiasm in the Multiregion and we really didn’t want to see this dissipate.”

You can read part one, here, and part two, here. COG as an organization has long been one of the trailblazers for Pagan involvement in the interfaith community. This work, while seemingly unexciting to the outside observer, creates huge dividends of good will and new networks with indigenous communities. To keep track of this meeting’s progress, be sure to subscribe to the COG Interfaith Reports blog.

Reporting on the Pagan Studies Conference: I’d like to close with a quick plug for the work of LA Pagan Examiner Joanne Elliott, who recently posted a two-part run-down of the recent Pagan Studies Conference at Claremont Graduate University.

“Pagan scholars discussed “Building Community” on Jan. 22 and 23 at the 7th Annual Conference of Current Pagan Studies in Claremont.  More than 70 Pagans gathered to hear the ideas and results of research by the 27 Pagan scholars, researchers and leaders who came from greater LA as well as from other areas of the country.

They gathered to discuss issues that relate to the Pagan community at large. It is important to that community’s health and growth to meet and learn from one another. It’s also important for all Pagans to be involved in the public arena and have their voices heard. With an estimate of over a million Americans now self-identified as Pagan, the Pagan religion is coming of age. And it is feeling, now more than ever, the need for trained leaders and clergy to build stronger Pagan communities that also see themselves as a part of a larger community.”

This event, sadly, wasn’t much covered, so I’m very happy that Joanne was there to keep us informed. Be sure and check it out!

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • caraschulz

    PSG – closer and not so damn humid. I've reconsidered and I believe I am going.

    • http://military.pagannewswirecollective.com Lori Dake

      http://www.stonehousepark.net/ – Did you check out the site where they're having it this year? There are so many perks to the location they may as well call it a Pagan KoA or Jellystone Park ;) I'm still surprised about cell phones and WiFi. Hmmm… they just need a cartoon mascot LOL! Indoor stages, possible cabin rentals with kitchenettes and bathrooms, RV hookups… wow! Even folks who can't physically handle a traditional fest would be able to attend.

      And for me… jeez, why not have it in my own back yard? Off I-39 & I-88? That's really centrally located for a lot of people, even flights, buses and trains with the shuttle service, *and* far enough away from the Tri-State to keep busy road-leery travelers happy. I will be seriously POed if all I can do is the Friday and Saturday plan. ;)

      What an Imbolc it's been! The day started out with one of the biggest blizzards ever to where even the schools closed (CPS never closes!) and came complete with lightning and thunder, then Ole Boy Phil declared an early Spring, then your exciting Coming Out news, then this. I'm not all that old, but my heart really can't take this much excitement hehehe.

      • caraschulz

        We need to camp together there. We would have so much fun!

        • http://military.pagannewswirecollective.com Lori Dake

          :D

          Oh I'm gigged on this location already! I'm actually looking at the sitemap now, planning where I want to set up! I don't do anything without as much investigation as possible, even as little as buying a toaster. Call me anal like that. http://www.stonehousepark.net/sitemap.htm

          I'm seeing two lakes/ponds, the second one having its own gated entrance near K12 (via Google Streetview). I can't tell if there is a trail to the main area, or if the gate would be accessible for loading/unloading, but I'm seeing it as so idyllic of a location. Then again, it would depend on the (post-)weather, fire-building permissions (next to the neighbor's cornfield) and amount of biting flies/mosquitoes. Trees and water, while I like them, tend to have their downsides like that.

          The place is open for general camping (I believe) starting in May ($10/night/person + 1-10ga. tank of gas round trip), so I may have to do some weekend recon work LOL Oh darn – the sacrifices I make haha. The couple of reviews I've read are very positive, so that's fantastic. 1-1/2 hour drive… pfffft. I've done that much time just getting my grocery shopping done. (I hit at least three stores a week.)

          ETA: Hmmm… there appears to be a river-stream running right through the two sections, so that location I mentioned would also depend on a foot bridge to get to the main section. Like I said, recon work. ;)

          • caraschulz

            The best part….it will have nice, cool evenings. Good sleeping weather. Can't wait to hear back from you on what the site is actually like!

          • http://military.pagannewswirecollective.com Lori Dake

            It's actually open in April, open camping on weekends without something going on. As long as I can get around that, and without it being frigidly cold at night, I can swing it. Cool is okay, but 30F nights in a standard nylon tent… I'm not that hardy, even with the little extra padding. ;) It makes my heart bleed for the people who were stuck on LSD last night during the blizzard in their ice cream trucks… errr, cars that ran out of gas (no heat).

            It's all the snow and now negative temps that get me so psyched for summer camping! Phil had better have been right is all I have to say, or else I'm going to be noshing on groundhog fricassee.

          • caraschulz

            I am so with you. I can't wait to camp!!!!

            Tip for cold weather camping in a tent. Put a large rock or a brick up against your fire ring during the evening. When you go to bed, wrap it in a towel and put it in the bottom of your sleeping bag. It will keep you toasty warm all night.

          • Aline O'Brien

            I, too, am glad to see Joanne Elliott's coverage of the Claremont conference. There are few venues for such work to be presented. Since being one of the keynote speakers three years ago, I've continued to attend, and always enjoy it, but this year was the best ever. Kudos to the organizers and presenters! What a rich culture we have!

          • blah

            if i could add a bit more depressing column/opinion piece about modern pagans: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/
            this appeared on front page of telegraph, on hand picked blog posts. i'll just say that this post and comments below it is extremely insulting propaganda similar to that catholic exorcist interview that appeared a while back on wild hunt.

        • Robin Artisson

          Camping sounds so much fun, but how do you guys not just sit around and argue all night long and all day, especially considering the politics involved?

          • caraschulz

            Heh. Because I make a damn fine cocktail or three.

            Slightly more serious answer – I like people and have friends (and make new ones) of about any background or view. I like helping them feel welcome. I'll talk about, or drop, almost any topic. And I love camping. Combine the two and I'm as happy as can be.

          • Robin Artisson

            And you seemed so corporate in the video of you… I'm trying to "place" you in the woods… you should see me in action, in person- I'm 145% MORE compelling and annoying in person, than in the tame virtual space of the internet. Actually, while I don't do the cocktail thing, I do the dark ale thing, and my natural "leave me the hell alone" attitude comes out more in person, so I'm not bad to have around on camping trips. I spend most of my time alone in some other part of the woods, anyway, looking for things.

          • caraschulz

            Why thank you!

            As for placing me in the woods – best to go with this definition of 'camp' – b : a style or mode of personal or creative expression that is absurdly exaggerated and often fuses elements of high and popular culture – rather than…well…you know…camping.

            I may be in a tent, but I don't rough it. Linen sheets, a bar, and vases for fresh floral are necessities.

          • Robin Artisson

            I see. So, by "camping", you mean pretty much the opposite of what "camping" normally means. I get you. And I respect that; so few have the balls these days to just go ahead and be creative with the "old time pastimes".

            Vases for fresh florals lol… sorta in the same family as the flatscreen and the tile floor that some people have in their tents at the Texas Ren Faire…

            I kinda like roughing it, myself. Or maybe I just like it rough, don't know.

          • caraschulz

            No balls, just ovaries. *grin*

            I see the way I do camping as a creative outlet. Part of the fun is coming up with how the camp will look, the decor'. A theme for the week (this is for Pagan festivals – past themes have been 'Decadence' and 'Victorian Tea' – this year is 'Around the World'. The menu, the wines, the specialty cocktails (Lavender martini, anyone?) How to make luxury portable and compact enough to fit in a Toyota Yaris. How make things *work* that normally don't work out on a campground. And to just have fun with it. Be ridiculous with it and laugh at yourself.

          • Robin Artisson

            People are always telling me how healthy it is to "just laugh at yourself", but in my experience, I've always found it more rewarding to laugh at other people. Your camping ideas- while not camping in the recognizable meaning of the word- still sounds fun. Now if we could just de-palinize you, you might be the perfect woman.

          • Bookhousegal

            Also, it's amazing at first, what happens when people exit both the text-based world and the daily grind, too.
            :)

    • bard08

      It is amazing how when something personal is happening you feel alone, then turn on the news to find that you are not in an isolated situation. Sort of like when you buy a car, you seem to see the same car everywhere. Pagan coming out day is that for me.
      Both my parents are aware that I am Druid. My dad is Asatru, so no problem there; however, my mom being a conservative christian did create a bit of an issue. I have recently been debating whether I should tell other people who are very close to me, and in support of May 2nd I think I will.

      • caraschulz

        This comment makes all the work worthwhile.

        • http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=159545234064612 RevKenny

          hah! LOL! they stole our idea… We have been planning this for a year on facebook as a worldwide Holiday. How nice of them to pop up! ha ha ha! Check out http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=15954523406

          • Robin Artisson

            I wish they had used a term other than "coming out". I'm psychically allergic to that term.

          • Nick_Ritter

            Any suggestions?

          • Robin Artisson

            Not really. First blush:

            "Profession of Belief"

            "Reversion" (you "revert" to Paganism, you don't "convert" to it, as long as your ancestors believed it once, it's reversion)

            "Claiming the Gods"

            "Return to the Gods"

            Or, since brevity is the soul of wit (and the soul of social transformation, I expect):

            "Reclaiming"

            "Claiming"

            "Returning"

            Overall, I think "Reclaiming" works best. On Reclaiming day, you declare that you have reclaimed the Old Beliefs, the old religious culture, the old worldview- and the double entrendre is that the Gods have reclaimed you.

      • Grimmorrigan

        Do it! The more of us who are open, honest, and civil about our faiths the better.

      • Bookhousegal

        Yep, May 2nd is a perfect day for coming out as Pagan. :)

        *walking into work with hangover.*

        "Why are you holding your head like that?"

        'Erf….. *mumble* Asatru came to Beltane, had too much mead,'

        "You what? Who's a… What's mead?"

        'Better sit down.'
        :)

    • http://www.deborahblakehps.com Deborah Blake

      I'll be at Pantheacon–maybe I'll see you there!