Pagan Community Notes: The Passing of Danelle Dragonetti, Justice for Kathleen Dempsey, Occupy Pagans, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 22, 2011 — 9 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!

The Passing of Danelle Dragonetti: On December 16th Danelle Dragonetti, also known as WinterHawk, died after a prolonged battle with cancer. Dragonetti was well known in many Pagan circles as a musician, producer, and founder of the Wiccan Pagan Broadcast Network (WPBN), an Internet streaming radio service that prefigured the vibrant Pagan radio and podcasting community we now enjoy. Pagan podcasters Sparrow and Mojo of the The Wigglian Way dedicated their most recent podcast to Danelle, with Sparrow noting that “it weren’t for Danelle we probably wouldn’t have our show.” Witches’ Voice co-founder Wren Walker also noted Dragonetti’s influence in the world of Pagan podcasts.

“The Witch/Wiccan/Pagan communities have lost a guiding light and a vibrant voice. Danelle Dragonetti (Winterhawk) opened the door and set the bar for many of the podcasts that we enjoy today. Danelle wasn’t afraid to aim high or to take on a challenge. Good journey, Danelle. Thank you for speaking your mind and singing your song.”

In addition to her work within the Pagan community, Dragonetti was also a much-beloved figure within the Vampire subculture in her home of Denver, this included being dubbed the “Queen Vampyre Of Denver.” An outpouring of love, sorrow, and remembrances from friends and acquaintances have appeared at her Facebook profile. A memorial service and wake is scheduled for January 15th in Denver. My condolences go out to Dragonetti’s family and friends, may her spirit find rest and return to us again.

Justice for Kathy Dempsey: Nineteen years ago in Lexington, Massachusetts Kathleen Dempsey, 31, was stabbed to death in her home by an unknown assailant. Now, her killer, already serving a life sentence for another murder, has stepped forward and admitted his crime, bringing some sense of closure to her friends and family. Among those friends and family were the local Pagan community, as Dempsey was one of them, a member of EarthSpirit and their ritual performance troupe MotherTongue. One of Kathy’s acquaintances from that time, Peg Aloi, writes about the killing, how it affected her friends in the Pagan community, and how it feels to finally see her killer brought to account.

Kathleen Dempsey

Kathleen Dempsey

“I remember KD as a kind, funny, sweet, talented woman: always friendly, always upbeat. She loved animals, did not consider cleaning a priority, loved to dance, and seemed to think the best of everyone unless she had a reason not to. I saw her for the last time a mere three weeks before she was killed. Her smile, glimpsed in a hallway, still haunts me. I recall the Earthspirit Samhain gathering that year: the tears and wails of loss during the ritual as we named those who had passed that year. I don’t know who it was but one male voice screamed out “Kathy!” after a number of other names were recited. It was a soul-shattering moment I will never forget.”

I would recommend reading the entire post at Peg’s blog. My deepest sympathies go out to Kathy’s friends and family, I hope these events bring some measure of solace.

A Pagan Organizer at Occupy Eugene: One of the longest-running Occupy movement encampments has been the one happening in my own home town of Eugene, Oregon. There, a unique alliance between homeless tribes, anarchists, veterans, labor unions, college students, faculty, and Baby Boom generation activists who helped give Eugene its unique cultural stamp managed to create a community that was actively working to build new solutions to the problems brought on by economic disparity and injustice. Now, as we speak that encampment is being dismantled, and many Occupiers are claiming that local police engaged in sabotage tactics and psychological warfare to make it happen.  One of the main organizers of Occupy Eugene, who has acted as a go-between with city officials and police, is Alley Valkyrie, a longtime member of the Pagan community who originally lived on the East Coast and was a part of festivals like Brushwood. Valkyrie has been in the local media a lot lately, and she is featured in the Eugene Weekly’s cover story about the end of Eugene’s Occupy encampment.

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Rob Sydor.

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Rob Sydor.

“I don’t sleep here,” Valkyrie said, laughing. “I’m up all night.” She said in recent days the crackdown on fires had made the camp colder, and the stadium lighting the police put up and increased patrols were “psychological warfare.” […] According to Valkyrie, one of the extraordinary things Occupy has done is bring the street families together and let street kids learn from older activists, and the activists in turn learn from the street families. “A Ph.D. stands next to a homeless kid and they both have an equal say and an equal vote,” she said.

I’ve been honored to get to know Alley in recent days, and have sat down to talk with her about Occupy Eugene and its future. I’ll be running a future story here at The Wild Hunt that will feature an interview with Alley Valkyrie, and discuss the unique spiritual culture of Eugene and its Occupy movement. In the meantime, keep an eye on Alley Valkyrie as I think she represents the shape of our future leaders and organizers: passionate, engaged, and more concerned about building community than taking credit for building community.

Other Community Notes:

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    “Occupy has [brought] the street families together and let street kids learn from older activists, and the activists in turn learn from the street families.”

    Cross-fertilization may be an enduring legacy of The Occupy movement. I was an activist in the ’60s and we learned from pacifists from both World Wars.

  • http://www.paganawareness.net.au Gavin Andrew

    Thanks for the mention, Jason.

    The book is also very much about getting to the heart of *why* so many Christians and Christian institutions condemn or even demonize us, and our beliefs and practices.

    In a year when the Pagan community has figured so prominently in the Spiritual Warfare narratives promoted by Fundamentalist Christian organizations, hopefully this book will go some way to offering a suitable response.

    • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

      Congratulations on that, Gavin! Based on some of the recent activity here at Patheos else-blogs, that would be a very useful book indeed for many people! I hope it is extremely successful!

      • http://www.paganawareness.net.au Gavin Andrew

        Thank you! As has been mentioned to me, it may also be good to read ahead of Christmas dinner with those conservative family members who don’t quite understand, or approve of, one’s pagan spirituality – and who doesn’t have a few of *those* relatives?

  • Anonymous

    Alley is just awesome. :-)

  • Anonymous

    Hey Jason. I’m a long-time Eugenean, and I used to be pretty active in the Pagan community here, helping to organize some of the large Beltane Festivals in the mid-90’s with CUUPS, CAW & Cauldron of Changes. I burned out several years ago & drifted away, but I’d like to get involved again if there’s new vitality in the community. Never having met Alley Valkyrie, it sounds like there’s new blood, and perhaps things have changed enough for me to be a part of things again. Do you have knowledge of new groups here that you could put me in touch with? I miss being involved in the spiritual essence of Eugene.

  • Juliaki

    Wow…I remember getting up early to start the lengthy downloads of WPBN to listen to at work way back when. Winterhawk (along with Greyhart) was a pioneer and visionary for pagan podcasting. My condolences to Winterhawk’s friends and family, as her vibrant spirit will truly be missed.

  • Malborgia

    I am Malbörgia Vönwindecker II The Chancellor of the Colorado Vampire Necromancer Association And Was A close friend of Danelle We Here in the Colorado community will MISS her SO much! She was a great friend a CLOSE associate I as well as the Rest of the community will miss her so much! She was a fighter for Equal rights and I fought for her! We mill miss the queen you are missed and loved! you can leave your wishes here for her!

    Regina este mort Trăiască regina!

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/ColoroadoVNA/

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Malborgia, I had never encountered Danelle before and watched her “Life in Stills” with interest. It’s fairly clear she was both a Dominatrix and a Pagan, and had few or no barriers between those worlds in her life. I’m impressed with the tolerance of the Denver Pagan community in accepting that aspect of her. It contrasts well with the intolerance to which a Cleveland Pagan Submissive was subjected a few years back. (She later booked for the Left Coast.) Long may you flourish!