Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing 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 let’s get started!
Lightning Across the Plains Organizer Accused of Misappropriating Funds: PNC-Minnesota reports on the case of Mark Ludwig Stinson, Chieftain of Jotun’s Bane Kindred, which hosts Lightning Across the Plains, the Midwest’s largest Heathen gathering. Stinson is accused of misappropriating funds belonging to his mother, and has been suspended from his job as a police officer pending the outcome of the investigation. In addition to interviewing prominent Heathens for reaction to these allegations, PNC-Minnesota also spoke with a criminal defense attorney about the murky nature of caretaker misappropriation charges.
“[Criminal defense attorney Tony] Armandii says while the sums involved may seem like a large amount and the checks made out for cash appear damning, it could all be explained at the trial. ”When you have someone in a care-taker role there are expenses to pay and many reasons why a person would write checks out to cash. Was the defendant reimbursing himself for bills he took care of? Did the mother tell him it was OK for him to use funds to repair his car since the car was used for running errands? Other questions are what is the mental condition of the mother? Are there family members with a vested interest in making accusations?” Armandii was careful to note he was speaking generally about cases involving alleged abuse of power of attorney and not about this specific case.”
For the moment, the Heathen community seems to be withholding judgment until after the trial, with Troth Redesman David Carron noting that “these charges are particularly shocking and unsettling as we are supposed to be a family religion. [Stinson] himself has acknowledged this via his many words. It is my understanding that he has claimed his innocence, that the press has only seen one side and that this is a family squabble. I hope for his sake that he is correct.” PNC-Minnesota and The Wild Hunt will continue to follow this story as it develops.
The Tale of Teo Bishop and Matt Morris: Today, on his blog Bishop in the Grove, Teo Bishop revealed that he was known to the world by another name, Matt Morris. This isn’t so unusual, many Pagans use “Craft” names or pseudonyms when dealing with the public for a number of different reasons. What makes Teo’s revelation noteworthy is that Matt Morris is something of a well-known pop star, who has collaborated with Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, and co-written songs that have been sung by Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson.
“At some point, we must all come out. We must all be honest about how we’ve compartmentalized to excess, how we’ve created new masks — either out of fear or in an attempt to approximate privacy in a increasingly non-private society. We must recognize when it is time to integrate all of our disparate parts (T. Thorn Coyle might say that it is always time to integrate). […] my coming out is not simply an act of confession about another online identity. I’m choosing transparency at this time because I believe doing so may be the only way I can move forward in both my music and my writing. I was never two people — I was always, only one. There’s no sense in pretending otherwise. My nom de plum has become my legal name, and my given name a stage name, but the person beneath has remained throughout the process.”
I think this public integration by Teo of his two identities is wonderful, and very brave. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Teo on a couple different occasions, and found him to be an intelligent, well-spoken, thoughtful, and caring human being who takes his faith and faith-journey very seriously. Anyone who reads his blog can tell that his involvement with modern Paganism, and Druidry in particular, is deep and well-considered, and he has earned his place as an up-and-coming voice for our movement. I wish him well, and know that this change will ultimately benefit both Teo Bishop and Matt Morris. As for those who feel dumb for not recognizing Teo sooner, I have the perfect defense: I’m a Goth.
Erynn Rowan Laurie in Ireland: Erynn Rowan Laurie, author of “A Circle of Stones” and “Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom,” is currently in Ireland on a week-long spiritual pilgrimage sponsored by The Sisterhood of Avalon. At her blog, Searching For Imbas, Laurie talks a bit about what the trip will entail.
“From our opening ritual at Brigid’s Well to our closing ritual at the Hill of Uisneach, we will be immersed in the history and myth of Ireland. We’ll explore ourselves and our connections with the sacred through incubatory work and meditations, through rituals for Brigid and Airmed, and through hearing traditional storytellers telling the stories of place and of deities and heroes. Each day, we’ll explore new places and new themes, encountering sacred landscape and learning ways to connect ourselves not only to the land of Ireland, but to our own sacred landscapes in the places we live.”
You can read updates of her journey at her LiveJournal page, which will entail a European adventure after the Irish pilgrimage has finished.
In Other Community News:
- News of the passing of Pagan Centered Podcast host Dave Grega is still reverberating through our community. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, posted this tribute: “Thank you Dave for all you have done for Pagans & others, for your pioneering work in Pagan podcasting, for documenting Paganism, for being part of the Pagan Spirit Gathering, and for friendship and conversation. Blessings to you as you journey in the Otherworld. Healing to all of us grieving your passing. May we take comfort in our memories of you, your wit, and your brilliance, and in knowing that you live on in podcasts and the many lives you blessed. We remember you, we honor you, we celebrate you, your life, and your legacy. So Mote It Be!” More here, and here, and here.
- Star Foster recently held a Google+ Hangout on the topic of “Online Community, Culture, Trolls and Real Life” featuring Cara Schulz of the Pagan Newswire Collective, Teo Bishop, and Cathryn Orchard of Abrahadabra Press. You can watch the entire conversation on Youtube (in fact, you might want to check out the many recorded Pagan Hangouts that are available for viewing).
- Last week I highlighted a quote from Alison Leigh Lilly on the issues of sincerity, integrity, and competence in the Pagan community. Her post has generated a lot of comment, and she has posted a followup excerpting some of those responses, and her thoughts on them. You may also be interested in checking out Alison’s new Faith, Fern, and Compass podcast.
- Hey there PantheaCon watchers! The annual Pagan convention has just opened up Pre-registration and Programming for 2013, so head on over! The theme this year: “Co-operation, Tolerance & Love”. You may also be interested in the Pagan Studies Symposium, which runs semi-concurrently with PantheaCon, and has issued a call for papers. Theme this year: “Pagans in Dialogue with the Wider World.”
That’s all I have for now! Are there blogs, podcasts, or other Pagan news sources you think I’m missing out on? Please leave links in the comments, and if there’s news in your community be sure to share it!