Pagan Community Notes: Pagan Federation Charity Fight, Thorn at Overlap, Temple of Witchcraft Fundraiser, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 26, 2012 — 8 Comments

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!

Pagan Federation Withdraws Tribunal Hearing Request Over Charity Status: The Wild Hunt has been covering the Pagan Federation’s quest to receive official charity status in the UK which had run into obstacles from the Charity Commission who didn’t think the organization met “all the essential characteristics of a religion for the purposes of charity law.” After first requesting a tribunal hearing on the matter of their denial, the organization has decided to not pursue this course, saying it now accepts the commission’s stance on the matter.

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“Members of the Pagan Federation Committee have discussed the charity commission response at some length and, having read through the CC’s response again, we accept that the PF as it currently exists does not fit easily into the requisites of the CC for the granting of charitable status. As such, we do not want to waste everyone’s time on a tribunal hearing and hereby withdraw our application and request for a tribunal hearing.

We really appreciate the willingness of the charity commission to continue our dialogue as to how we might best put forward an application for a charitable arm of the PF (as a religious and/or educational charity) once we have thought back through the structure of the PF and how we wish the organisation to evolve and develop in the future.”

While this may be disappointing, it’s clear that the Pagan Federation is thinking tactically, and will be pursing charity status in a different way moving forward. We will keep you posted as this story continues to develop.

T. Thorn Coyle to Speak at Overlap Conference: Pagan author and teacher T. Thorn Coyle, co-founder of Solar Cross Temple, has been invited to speak at Overlap, a “multidisciplinary, collaborative experience” that seeks participants who pursue “the insights of other disciplines to enhance and deepen their own area(s) of inquiry.” Here’s a quote from the official press release sent out by Thorn.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“Teacher and author T. Thorn Coyle has been invited to participate in the Overlap conference in January. This is an annual invitation only peer-to-peer gathering, – an ad hoc “think tank” – that started off trying to increase innovation and awareness in the business and design communities. This year the conference will gather military officials, technical innovators, CEOs, doctors, researchers, entrepreneurs, non-profit advisors, historians, architects, and people from a variety of other professions. […] This year’s theme is “Overlap:Risk, a transdisciplinary dive into the unknowable” and participants will each present their thoughts on risk, creating space for dialogue on some of the deeper questions facing humanity right now.”

Significantly, Thorn will be the only explicitly religious perspective represented at the conference. What does it mean that a Pagan voice was selected for inclusion? I’ll be following up with Overlap organizers for an answer, but I suspect that Pagans bring a unique and much-needed perspective on how to create dialog among diverse paths and peoples. Our congratulations go out to Thorn on being selected for what looks like a unique and prestigious opportunity for her, and for our interconnected communities.

 Temple of Witchcraft Launches Crowdfunding Effort for Parking Expansion: The Temple of Witchcraft, a religious organization co-founded by author Christopher Penczak, after encountering some resistance from neighbors to expand and make improvements to their new building in Salem, New Hampshire, recently received unanimous approval from the local Planning Board. Now, with the planning board’s permission in place, the temple has launched a crowdfunding initiative to pay for improvements.

tow new home

The Temple of Witchcraft’s new Salem home.

“The Temple of Witchcraft, a nonprofit neo-pagan religious organization, has met one of its most important goals: the acquisition of land and buildings to give the Temple a permanent home. Now we need your help to open the doors of our new home and welcome Temple members for classes and celebration! […] The Temple has purchased Grandview Manor, a beautiful late 19th-century house with detached barn and cottage and over five acres of land in Salem, NH. To comply with the town’s requirements for holding classes and religious services at the property, we need to put in additional parking between the house and the barn. We have a site plan, approved by the Salem Town Planning Board, what we need now is to raise the funds to hire a contractor to do the work to implement it.”

The Temple is trying to raise $68,000 dollar in 117 days, an ambitious sum in the history of Pagan fundraising, but the Temple of Witchcraft has built a good reputation, and has a large network of supporters, so it seems very possible that they’ll be able to accomplish this. Head over to their IndieGoGo page for more information, a list of donation perks, and ways you can help.

In Other Community News: 

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • guest

    It is stupid someone could trademark “sexy witch”. I think witch-warring loser sounds about right.

  • guest

    Hey isn’t FIREFOX a trademark?! Hypocrite! (thankfully no association to any parties involved in ridiculous lawsuit/witch war)

  • Witch School

    The Trademarking of Paganism is going to happen, already Hollywood has grabbed a bunch of names for movies, books, and games. Our words are not recognized as unique and necessary to the practice of our religion. This already happened with Voodoo in many different ways and products. It will happen to the community unless it protects itself.

    • guest

      I already know some Sexy Witches (TM). Part of their real sexiness is their confidence which isn’t fearful of someone else being seen as pretty/handsome, too.
      I can see that this was a rotten-spirited, ridiculous lawsuit only worthy of the very immature.

  • Guest

    In Germany Wicca is a Trademark. It’s in the hand of some traditional initiated Wiccans. Some say to prevent non traditionally initiated to call themselves Wiccan. The people holding the TM say it’s to protect “Wicca” being used by some dubious persons (as happened with a magazin). As far as I know it has not been enacted until now. The question is if it would hold before a court. I can see the sense in protecting the name of “our” religion, but I think it’s sad that a trademark can be put on “our” religion. I haven’t hear of “Christian” being a trademark.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Good to see the PF have decided that the ruling is just. I am, however, concerned as to how they intend to evolve and develop their organisation in the future. Is the implication that they are looking to become more if a religion and less of an umbrella?

  • Deborah Bender

    Setting up an arm specifically for charitable purposes is likely to be more practical from the administrative standpoint and could be a midpoint on the path to developing an independent pan-Pagan charitable organization (or several of them) in the UK. Folk who are not interested in the PF’s other activities might well contribute funds or labor to the charitable arm. I look at this as a growth opportunity for the Pagan Federation, not a setback.

  • Deborah Bender

    I wish the Temple of Witchcraft success with their crowdfunding venture. It’s a legitimate request to support a simple and necessary project. If this works well, it could be a way forward for other pagan organizations that want to acquire or improve meeting space.

    In America, Jewish congregations have annual membership dues to support operating expenses and staff salaries; if they wish to build or purchase a house of worship or study, they have a building fund with periodic appeals to the congregation and supporters. Most associations of pagans don’t follow a congregational model, and this has held them back from acquiring the funds to purchase and develop land and buildings. Of course, some pagans don’t want any group ownership of land or buildings, but for those that do, crowdfunding might be one way to get there.