Pagan Community Notes: A Pagan Festival in Israel, TheurgiCon, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  July 16, 2011 — 3 Comments

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note 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!

A Pagan Festival in Israel: September will see the nation of Israel’s first Pagan festival, at least in our modern era. A new site is promoting a Mabon (Autumnal Equinox) festival, with word being spread by other Israeli Pagan sites.

“The first Israeli Pagan Festival that we shall celebrate together, on September the 22-24th, 2011. […] Pagans from all over the country are invited to celebrate together the spirit of kinship and community that Mabon invokes.”

It may seem like an odd occurrence for a land considered holy by all of the Abrahamic faiths, but modern Pagan religions have become a global phenomenon, and according to Dr. Marianna Ruah-Midbar, they could find fertile soil in Israel.

“At the moment paganism is not a large-scale practice here, but I believe it has very big potential,” she said. “Pagan religions are the fastest growing religions in the West, and it could succeed here too, because Hebrewism and Zionism could connect to paganism due to the emphasis on land and Hebrew holidays. Paganism is a close, unusual parallel of more common practices, like environmentalism or traveling to the East. In practice, it really is not very different.”

As I’ve pointed out before, the growth of Paganism in places like Israel helps puncture the lie that our faiths flourish merely as a rebellion against Judeo-Christian norms or as a result of secularism’s ills. The truth is that Pagan beliefs, practices, and theologies, offer an appealing alternative to the often exclusionary monotheisms that have come to dominate the West. I’ll be interested to see how their first festival goes, how many show up, and if they experience any trouble.

TheurgiCon Is Today: Today is TheurgiCon in Berkeley, California, a one-day intensive that focuses on the practice of theurgy, the use of magic and ritual to invoke (or evoke) the gods. This year’s theme is “Tools of Neo-Platonic Theurgy” and features presentations by Don FrewTony Mierzwicki, and John OpsopausTheurgiCon was founded in 2010 by Glenn Turner, who also founded PantheaCon, here’s an interview with Turner from 2010 about the event.

You can also read impressions from last year’s event here, here, and here. Read more about this year’s presentations at the TheurgiCon website. I’m hoping to have more coverage of this event in the near future.

Transitions for a Circle Minister: Drake Spaeth, a longtime Circle Sanctuary minister and key participant in Circle’s yearly Pagan Spirit Gathering, has announced that he’s amicably stepping down from his clergy position and taking a break from participation at PSG.

“Yet, open circles sometimes close, and the moment of realization comes that the time to move on has arrived.  I am at such a juncture. I would ill serve the many folks whom I have counseled to recognize and heed the call to take a new risk when the time comes, to make the proverbial Fool’s leap into the unknown, if I now backed away from this moment when it has now come upon me with such clarity. Circumstances have impelled me to the point where, despite any wistful desire I feel that the dream might have continued just a bit longer, that I must step down from being a Circle minister.”

Spaeth is not leaving Pagan ministry, but is instead dedicating his time exclusively to Earth Traditions, an organization he co-founded with Angie Buchanan of Gaia’s Womb. Our best wishes to Drake Spaeth on this transition, we have no doubt his decision will be to the benefit of our interconnected communities.

Gus diZerega Joins Patheos: Gus diZerega, political scientist, Beliefnet blogger, and co-author of “Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and Christian in Dialogue,” has become a columnist at Patheos. His first column, “The Ethics of the Universal Potlatch,” is now up.

“This is my first contribution to what I hope will be a weekly column here at Patheos. I am delighted to be in such good company with other Pagan contributors, both those I know and those I have not (yet?) met. I hope to explore some of the insights I think Pagan spirituality brings to challenge Western modernity, which far more than many realize, incorporates transcendental monotheistic assumptions antithetical to our own, and does so even in its secular guise.”

I’m honored and pleased to have Gus in our ranks here at Patheos, and I have no doubt his columns will be enriching. As for his blog at Beliefnet, he’ll continue on there, though in slightly different form.

More Community Notes:

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • EdthePagan

    Congratulations Gus and all the Patheos writers for making it a great site, and very intriguing morning read.

  • Sarsen

    A couple of weeks ago Gus di Zirega was advocating secession on his blog, and cherry-picking examples in an attempt to make that sound reasonable. That’s who Patheos is bringing on now? Someone who is on the same page as Rick Perry?

  • Ilan

    Hi,
    I haven’t been to the Mabon festival in Israel myself, so I can’t share any experience, but from people who were there, there were between 30-40 people (which is a god figure for such an event in Israel) and it seemed to go pretty well. There was no harassment as much as I know, as the Festival was pretty much private and didn’t get attention from mainstream news sources.

    I have linked this post to a pagan group on facebook, and I hope one or more of those attending the festival will also comment.

    By the way, this is not exactly the first festival. There was one for lughnasadh 2003, which was organized by members of a pagan forum on the Tapuz portal.

    Ilan