Quick Notes: Altar of the Twelve Gods Update, Vodou Flags, and Kendra Vaughan Hovey

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 17, 2011 — 29 Comments

Just a few quick news notes for you this Sunday.

Altar of the Twelve Gods Update: Back in February I reported on how Greek Hellenic group Thyrsos Hellenes Ethnikoi has been protesting to preserve the famous Altar of the Twelve Gods, which was uncovered on February 17th during railway construction. Now Tropaion has an update, looking at how different Greek papers are covering the protests.

“The Kathimerini story did not claim that Polytheists were the ‘troublemakers’ in contrast of what To Vima clearly states that “members of polytheistic organizations, which had occupied the site where archaeological reburying work was undergoing for the antiquities.” It is important to note the language used by the newspaper To Vima which is clearly biased. It is also important to underline what Kathimerini notes that the reburying has been called “emerging” –  Central Archaeological Council has approved the reburial of the altar, faithful to the notion that the monuments are better protected hidden – as part of a renovation of the Metro line exactly were the altar exists which is one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of recent years.According to reports, citizens formed a cordon around the monument, which was split violently by the riot police who up to now patrol the site. The work had continued.”

You can read an April 13th update (in Greek) from Thyrsos Hellenes Ethnikoi, here. More on this situation (in English) here, here, here, and here. Petition, here. It looks like things are becoming heavy-handed in Greece, and reburial is moving forward. I’ll update when I have more information.

Vodou Flags, Vodou Culture: Gina Athena Ulysse, Assoc. Prof. of Anthropology, Wesleyan University, writes about Haitian Vodou flag-maker Myrlande Constant, who is part of a current exhibit entitled Re-Framing Haiti: Art, History and Performativity at Brown University.

Erzulie LaFlambeau by Myrlande Constant

“Born in 1970, Constant is a self-taught flagmaker whose artistry is rooted in her skills as a seamstress and the beading techniques that she learned from her mother as a child. While in her teens, both of them had worked in a wedding dress factory. Her foray into the world of flag making coincides with a story of self-emancipation from exploitative factory labor. In a public dialogue in Kreyol that I had with her at Brown last Wednesday, Constant recalls quitting her job at the factory over a compensation dispute. When her mother who still worked at the factory asked her what she would do, she responded, she didn’t know. She then found herself tracing the outline of what would eventually become her first flag, an homage toDanbala that was purchased by singer and bandleader, Richard Morse, also owner of the Hotel Oloffson, where the flag still hangs.”

The exhibition runs through April 21st, and will feature a talk by Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat at its closing. I also wanted to mention that Ulysse linked to a very interesting-looking new book in her article, “The Spirits and the Law: Vodou and Power in Haiti” by Kate Ramsey. The work looks at “the long genealogy of anti-Vodou rhetoric” in Haiti, and might be a must-read for those interested in gaining a deeper understanding of struggles Vodou currently faces.

Former Pagan on Easter’s Pagan Influences: Here’s a slightly unique take on the “pagan roots of Easter” story, the Patriot Ledger interviews Kendra Vaughan Hovey, a former reality-television star who converted from Wicca to Christianity, about bunnies, eggs, and Eostre.

“…as they follow those rituals, they will be evoking age-old, pre-Christian practices so familiar that few people give them a second thought. No one knows this better than Kendra Vaughan Hovey of Duxbury, a former Wiccan priestess who is now Christian. She sees reminders of her former religion at every turn this time of year, and she still embraces much of it. “It’s a holiday of new life,” she says of Easter. “There’s a beauty in that.” Hovey notes that even the name Easter has a pagan source – most likely from Ostara, the ancient Norse goddess of spring. Ostara’s festival was always around the spring equinox, which is still used to calculate Easter Sunday dates.”

I have to say, kudos to Lane Lambert at the Patriot Ledger for finding a new angle to this old chestnut of space-filling holiday-themed content. One wonders if this was accidental serendipity due to out-of-date source lists, or if it was planned. In any case, it was novel enough to gain my attention.

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://twitter.com/BrujoBillonario @BrujoBillonario

    The Vodou flags are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Nice to read of a Wiccan who became Christian without the usual chip on one shoulder.

    • Riva

      Hovey went from Jewish to Wiccan and then Christian. She wasted no timr starting her own church as well.
      I see her and not spiritual but going where the money is.

  • kenneth

    I don't have much respect for Hovey. I don't know her personally and never met her, but from what I read in the stories about her conversion, she's pretty typical of the "ex-witch" ministry crowd. She claimed to have been a Wiccan for 30 years and high priestess for 20, but said things that indicate a VERY shallow understanding of the path. Chief among those is the idea that Wicca's (and paganism's) lack of a long list of proscriptive commandments means that we feel no accountability toward anything greater than ourselves. That kind of rubbish is to be expected from 15-year-old dabblers who want to wear a pentacle as a mode of rebellion against their parents, but a high priestess? That's sickening that some tradition actually ordained someone like that, or that she could usurp a title and take advantage of followers for years in a religion she knew nothing about and obviously never practiced in any deep way. Calling her an "ex-Wiccan" is a stretch. She's an opportunist who looks for followers, personal accord and perhaps dollars in whatever venue seems most promising.

  • Neorxnawang

    Wiccan “high priest” or Christian, it would behoove Hovey to do some research before she gives the press releases. “Easter” does not derive from “Ostara”, but rather Old English “Eosturmonath” (Old English “Eostre Month”), which is the “month of Eostre”. Old English Eostre is the /cognate/ deity to Grimm’s reconstructed Old High German *Ostara, both of whom derive from a common Germanic deity, who, herself, descends from a pretty well attested Proto-Indo-European deity. Neither of these sources are “Norse” (she is not attested in our Norse sources, despite that she must have been venerated in the area in at least the Proto-Germanic stage).

    Clearly, Hovey didn’t make much time for these matters before jumping ship, yet this is a mistake that that seems to proliferate in Wiccan circles every year, and we would all do well to mend it whenever it pops up.

  • Edna

    Kendra Vaughan Hovey used to run around in a Catholic priest costume claiming to be a "Wiccan" priestess (I'm curious to know, though I suspect I already have the answer, whether she was initiated by a valid group or whether she just read books and "initiated" herself) and running a "Wiccan" church. Then I guess the publicity dried up from that, so she declared herself a Christian "minister" and tried to open a Christian church. Of course, with that step she just had to start trashing Wicca, even though it's clear from reading comments she made that she actually had little to no understanding of what Wicca really is (an initiatory mystery religion,) preferring to bash a ludicrous, straw-man version that bears little resemblance to Gardner's Craft.

    It's unfortunate that they are still giving this woman the publicity she's so obviously desperate for. People like this, who clearly crave nothing more than the spotlight, hurt us ALL with their antics and misinformation. The media will always pick the fringe element and "freakshow" factor over a serious, responsible practitioner. I wish she's realize her 15 minutes are up and go quietly back to running her church or whatever it is she's peddling now.

    • kenneth

      It will be interesting to see what's next for Hovey when this gig plays out. Maybe she can become a vodouisant or Lakota shaman or Tibetan Buddhist nun. There's a whole world of religious traditions out there just waiting to be cheapened for personal gain!

  • P.A.T.C.

    I went to her new blog site and Kendra is having her christian fish tatoo replaced with a butterfly and that she no longer considers herself a christian or wiccan but would like to think she is now a witch, I wish her well.

  • http://www.KendraVaughanHovey.com Kendra Vaughan Hovey

    Everybody's a critic. First, walk a mile in my shoes and then criticize me please, and please do not project the reasons you might do something onto me. If you care to know why I did what I did and how remorseful I am for the mistakes that I made, just ask me, instead of assuming you know what runs through my mind and heart. I have done nothing but try and make things better for Wiccans/Pagans and admittedly, I made mistakes along the way. No one is perfect. However, I could not stay in the Christian community once I realized that the more I tried to open their minds to help them understand the Pagan community, the more they closed their hearts and were unwilling to listen. I have no desire to be a part of a self-righteous group. However, today I call myself a Witch and not a Wiccan because clearly, as you have all seen, there were aspects of Wicca I did not agree with and refused to adhere to them all along my Wiccan walk. Let's not be self-righteous either, folks, and point the finger at someone who does not chose to worship exactly the way you think they should according to your own spiritual walk. I wish you all peace from the Goddess.
    It's a Good Life!
    Kendra Vaughan Hovey

  • http://www.KendraVaughanHovey.com Kendra Vaughan Hovey

    I agree with you, Dan. However, I had to be true to myself before I could have ever been true to anyone else. Also, even if I did make the Pagan community look bad (which I do not believe I did) all of the negativity that has been put out since my letter of my conversion that was specifically adressed to only my congregation and leaked out, is truly to blame. It's time we all take responsibility for our own actions instead of trying to justify our own behavior by putting blame on others. Additionally, I was never looking for fame. I only wanted to help make a difference for Paganism. In fact, if I was looking for fame—believe me, I could have had it easily in the Christian community. Instead I fought to affirm Paganism as a viable faith and will continue to do so with or without appreciation for my efforts. Blessing to you, too.

    • http://www.tigerseyetemple.org/ DanMiller

      From an outsiders perspective, your statements after conversion were less than savory, whether they were intended for general consumption or not. We don't know all the details and nuances of that time, but it did provoke a general response of, "Oh no, here we go again", if that makes sense? I do appreciate your efforts, past, present and future, to help pagans and the continued struggles we all must face, even in this modern age.

      • http://www.KendraVaughanHovey.com Kendra Vaughan Hovey

        I realize this now, and hind sight is 20/20, but that was never my intention. I had my own issues and spiritual questions I was struggling with and needed to face them. One thing I valued in my ministry was my ability to be honest about where I stood spiritually with my entire congregation and I always did. Unfortunately, to my own demise because many turned against me rather than trying to help me though my struggles. Yes, I made plenty of hurtful mistakes, but we all do—no one is mistake free—but forgiveness goes a long way.

        • Bookhousegal

          Anyway. I should also make plain: the media has its ways, and by these ways, you may have somewhat-aggrieved some people.

          But *as* we nominally-Wiccan American Pagans say, merry we meet, merry we part, and merry we meet again.

          Ready to meet us again?

          Come as you are. Come meet us again. I, for one, will neither absolve nor sustain any grudges. But be clear to us, and don't project any sense of guilt onto *us* either.

          No, you don't get a 'ministry,' cause you don't have that kind of trust or esteem right now, and turning yourself into a circus bear of a 'Witch' for the media won't bring that, *either.*

          It just doesn't work that way.

          But if *I* have a 'ministry' behind this Twin Peaks reference of a screen name, (Just one of many over the years,) …. *mine* says you and our religion/s and the Gods and all *just aren't about those media stunts.* Just aren't.

          *You* may well decide 'I've got to be in charge of *something* cause I've been too puffed up already before,'

          But if you want to know what you (or I) presume to try to even 'minister' to, spend some time with *and as* 'I'm just a simple Pagan.' Cause that's what it's *all about.* Shine, flare, dim, live, die, be reborn, all of it with *heart.* You're not an authority now. Anywhere. No one said you had to be.

          *offering hand in our humble spiral dance….*

          Merry meet again?

    • Bookhousegal

      BTW, Kendra:

      "I agree with you, Dan. However, I had to be true to myself before I could have ever been true to anyone else."

      Actually, you now know you were true to neither, in what you said, with national microphones provided by others with other agendas, right?

      Happens. But we aren't asking for you to defend yourself, we're asking what you intend *now.*

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Great comment, Bookhousegal! I'm appending this here rather than to Kendra's comment I'm quoting, because it's part of a developing conversation.

    Kendra, you wrote:
    "I call myself a Witch and not a Wiccan because [...] there were aspects of Wicca I did not agree with and refused to adhere to them all along my Wiccan walk"

    Can you say succinctly what those were? BTW I'd rather you answered the question Bookhousegal put to you before you respond to this one.

  • http://www.KendraVaughanHovey.com Kendra Vaughan Hovey

    I'm really trying to follow everything you have said and asked, but call me stupid, I'm not sure I understand. I'm not asking for or intending anything. I don't choose my future the Divine does and I will wait to see where I am led and what He/She is asking of me. As for the mistakes I have made in the past, I make no excuses for them, nor do I blame them on anyone or anything, and have asked for forgiveness and expect nothing from anyone. Currently I am writing fiction YA fantasy books and have no desire to get back into ministry. However, I am not foolish enough to thnk that if someday down the road that's where the Divine wants me, that's where I will have to be. But for now, and most likely for the rest of my life, I am to remain where I am and only hope to strengthen my walk as a Witch. As for why I call myself a Witch and not a Wiccan. Well, I made that very clear in my post on my website—I do not think that any man-made rituals (of any faith) are necessary to have a meaningful relationship with the Divine. However, I do practice metaphysics, earth and crystal healing, divination, and so much more because I enjoy it. I don't know if I have answered all of your questions, but I tried.
    It's a Good Life!
    Kendra

    • http://owlthena.blogspot.com/ owlthena

      I wish you well, I understand trying to find ones way , the religious paths we choose to travel on are only vehicals we use on the journey and nothing more. I have bounced back an forth from one religion to another as well and have chosen to call what path I am on now as 'eclectic witch' because then I can make all the decisions on it and NO one can tell me whether I am doing it all wrong, as many try to do when you are on other paths. May your journey be blessed and you have fun along the way.

      • http://www.KendraVaughanHovey.com Kendra Vaughan Hovey

        Thank you for your kind words and I completely agree with your label and why you chose it. Blessings on your journey as well.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      "As for why I call myself a Witch and not a Wiccan. [...] I do not think that any man-made rituals (of any faith) are necessary to have a meaningful relationship with the Divine."

      Kendra, Wiccan rituals may have been underexplained to you at the time. Wicca does not hold that any rituals are necessary to have a meaningful relationship with the Divine. Certain rituals are prescribed *to be Wiccan.* Nobody, afaik, holds them to be necessry for everyone.

      Best of fortune!

      • http://www.KendraVaughanHovey.com Kendra Vaughan Hivey

        If that's true then why is it such a big deal when you choose not to practice the faith exactly the way you were taught? Couldn't a Christian say the same thing? You don't have to say that Jesus is your Lord and pray the sinners prayer, but it is loudly implied that if you don't your not really a "true" Christian. Dogma is dogma no matter what religion it comes from and people whether they realize it or not reinforce that dogma. In fact, I once had a man walk out of a ritual I was leading because I was practicing magick on a new moon. As he walked out expressing his disgust that I would ask for anything of the Goddess when she is resting, I said, "Please remind me when you are on your death bed and I come to visit you, that if it is a new moon I cannot pray for your healing." I just think as with all religions, people are divided on how they feel about these things. That's why no one religion has only one sect. It's just not a one size fits all thing, and that should be perfectly okay.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          I'm sure you have come at least to suspect that the main thing Christianity suffers from is Christians. Well, quite the same can be said about Wicca and Wiccans. Bookhousegal spoke eloquently about forgiviness and I'd add a bit to her text: You might try forgiving Wicca for some of the Wiccans you've met.

          Or not. But in the contrary, the chip on your shoulder will mostly burden you.

          • http://www.KendraVaughanHovey.com Kendra Vaughan Hovey

            There's nothing to forgive because it has never mattered to me how others walk in their faith, other than that I can admire a person who is true to themselves. Beyond that, it's not my business to judge. I only make observations based on my personal truths—both those that enrich my life and those that do not. However, we are all individuals and as such we will have differing personal truths.

            And I do not agree that the only thing Christianity suffers from is Christians—I think it lacks mostly in its claim to be ALL TRUTH.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Pardon my contradiction, but it seems overwhelmingly true to me that it does matter to you, a lot. But you have to walk your path, not mine.

  • ChasingTheStar

    While I appreciate the inclusive, positive tone of the article about Easter, there's one thing about it that bothered me. The formerly Wiccan interviewee says, "Ostara’s festival was always around the spring equinox, which is still used to calculate Easter Sunday dates." This made me scratch my head. Growing up in a Christian household, I knew that Easter always took place on the Sunday after Passover began. The date of Passover is calculated using the Jewish calendar, which is lunar, so far as I understand. So… the date of Christian Easter really has nothing to do with the (solar) spring equinox.

  • Friendly Guest

    Former Pagan on Easter’s Pagan Influences: Here’s a slightly unique take on the “pagan roots of Easter” story, the Patriot Ledger interviews Kendra Vaughan Hovey, a former reality-television star who converted from Wicca to Christianity, about bunnies, eggs, and Eostre.

    Kendra Vauhan Hovey of Duxbury is not alone in her understanding of the Pagan influences still used today & interwoven into the King James Bible. Even the Calendar months are Pagan-derived.

  • Clare Slaney

    The date of Easter is dependent on the Spring Equinox.
    http://catholicism.about.com/od/holydaysandholida

  • Sarah

    Growing up I was told that Easter fell on the Sunday following the first full moon of spring. Nobody mentioned Passover unless you were watching The Ten Commandments. It took me years to realize why that played near Easter every year. :) With the Jewish calendar being lunar there is a kind of overlap there.

  • Brenda Daverin

    True enough. And the fascination with eggs is readily traced to the ban on animal product consumption during Lent. You wind up storing a LOT of chicken eggs over 40 days. Kevin Danaher's book on Irish holiday traditions was quite clear that Easter Sunday was an egg-eating holiday because it was the animal product people had the most of. How pagans presume the Christians had no original cultural actions is one of our arrogances that we need to work on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kargach Rob Henderson

    The Hebrew calendar is lunisolar (a real word, I swear!), and they use leap months (also not something I'm making up) to make sure that Nisan (the month for Passover) begins after the spring equinox. So the statements "Easter's date is determined by Passover" and "Easter's date is determined by the spring equinox" are both quite correct.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_calendar