Pagan Community Notes: Kyrja Withers, A Pagan Conclave, Houston Pagan Conference, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 29, 2013 — 16 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!

A Fundraiser for Kyrja Withers: Since Florida Pagan and children’s author Kyrja Withers had her home shot at this past March, followed by a chemical bottle-bomb attack, which required Withers’ daughter to seek medical care after inhaling fumes, the Lady Liberty League, Everglades Moon Local Council of COG, and other local Pagan community members have been mobilizing to assist Withers. At the behest of Lady Liberty League, their household is now raising funds to install security measures to protect against future attacks.

Kyrja Withers (Photo: Tampa Bay Times)

Kyrja Withers (Photo: Tampa Bay Times)

“Lady Liberty League […] has provided a variety of resources to my husband, Randy, and I during this time.  They also provided a comprehensive on-site Threat Assessment Report of our home in an effort to de-escalate the situation and provide long-term safety for our family. We are seeking assistance to comply with the security measures recommended by Lady Liberty League.  The bulk of the funding received will be to purchase the security cameras necessary to provide surveillence of our unique, colorful home.  The cameras would provide visible deterents to those who would seek to further harass and intimidate us, as well as a means to secure evidence should additional incidents occur.”

They are seeking to raise $1,100 dollars, and have already raised nearly half of their goal. For those seeking to concretely help in this situation this seems to be a pragmatic and sensible way to do so. The Lady Liberty League asks that those who are interested in contributing suggestions of resources, ideas for strategies, and volunteering security consulting and other help” to send them an e-mail, or comment at the organization’s Facebook page.  A focus image has also been provided for those who want to do magical/prayer work for Kyrja and her family. We will update you here with further developments.

Emergency Pagan Conclave Called in California: The Wild Hunt has received a notice that an emergency conclave is being called for Sunday, May 5th in Oakland, California to discuss proposed regulations by the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) relating to religious items allowed by incarcerated Pagans. The call is being put forth by The Pagan Alliance and House of Danu.

Central California Women's Facility (CCWF)

Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF)

“The California Department of Corrections (CDCR) has issued proposed regulations that threaten the ability of Pagans who are incarcerated to possess many of the religious items customary for the religious practices of our people. The proposed list excludes items out of ignorance, or for convenience, without regard to the required legal standard permitting personal religious items. Public comment on the proposed regulations ends May 7, 2013 at 5:00p.m.

The last great struggle for religious freedom in this country may very well be in the California prisons. At this historic Conclave. Dr. Barbara McGraw will give a presentation on the history of abuse endured by Pagan inmates, and there will be a panel of Pagan chaplain volunteers to share their experiences. Each of you will be given a guide showing how you can help the people of your tradition within the scope of any budget or time availability. We ask that each tradition send one or more representatives to the Conclave.”

Details on location, time, and how to participate can be found at this Facebook event listing. The proposed changes to what inmate religious property will be allowed can be found, here. The rights of Pagan prisoners has been an ongoing area of coverage at The Wild Hunt, and we’ll have more on this as the story develops.

Houston Pagan Conference: The first Pagan conference in the Houston, Texas area in over 30 years is being held May 18th  at the Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Church in The Woodlands. I reporter earlier on the fundraiser to get this event started.

“There has not been a conference for Pagans in the Houston area for over 30 years. Now is the time to change that. The Houston metropolitan area has a wonderful, rich, and vast Pagan community which should be celebrated. The Houston Pagan Conference was started to not only bring this community together but to also bring forth ideas and discussions on various aspects of faith and practice.”

Guest of honor will be author Raven Grimassi. In addition, OBOD Druid, CUUPs Vice President, and Patheos blogger, John Beckett will be in attendance, so I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about how the event went. Congratulations to the Houston-area Pagan community on getting organized!

In Other Community News:

 

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

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  • cernowain greenman

    After reading the info on the CDCR site, I don’t see many essential items being restricted. I think the issue is that the CDCR wants a uniform decision on religious items, instead of letting prison staff and inmates decide on their own what the needs are. But it doesn’t seem like the CDCR is being unreasonable.

    • Sarah

      Yes, can someone familiar with the situation please explain what items would no longer be available to inmates under the new rules? I’ve read through the proposed changes, and I’m stumped.

    • http://twitter.com/Ravan_A Ravan Asteris

      IMO, restricting an altar cloth to white or light grey only is pretty limiting – a useful one for many pagan traditions would be multicolor for the 4 elements, but that would be forbidden.

      For BTW, they make no attempt to provide a substitute for the athame (no, a wand isn’t it). A soft foam cutout would be better. I have no idea how Sikhs have their kirpan, even symbolically, with this very short list. While a bowl can be made to serve for a chalice, it isn’t ideal. There aren’t even anything like electric tea lights on there to substitute for candles. There is also no allowance for a religious book/diary/book of shadows. Hopefully that is covered elsewhere.

      While I could make this work, easily, my trad teaches a non-reliance on tools from the start, and adds tools as a more senior practitioner item. Very few trads are like that.

      The thing that is odd is that there are only 24 items on that list, to cover all the myriad religions.

      • cernowain greenman

        I believe the reason for limiting colors on the altar cloth is so that it cannot be used (or perceived) as a gang color handkerchief. I agree with the bowl not being adequate, though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rapture.hoax2011 Roy Linford Adams

    I don’t think she needs a security system so much as a figure on a grassy knoll. The bomber needs to just be shot in the head like the TERRORIST JIHADIST he is.

    • Charles Cosimano

      Never underestimate the psychological power of telling people they have been cursed. If some folks from all around the country do that, loudly and publicly so that the folks throwing the bombs hear it and it is coming from folks they can’t get back at, then when something really bad happens to them or their families, as it will because bad things happen to everybody eventually, they will be convinced it was the curse and the folks saying they were doing the cursing can take credit for it, even if the curse had nothing to do with it.

      The resulting publicity will make people think very hard about repeating such things. That is called the “Father Divine effect” after a black preacher in Harlem in the 1930s who, three days after he was jailed for something, had the good fortune to have the judge drop dead. Interviewed in his cell, he said, “I hated to do it.” Father Divine was out on the street real fast and he never had any trouble again.

      • DonnaB

        …or when the inevitable misfortune comes up they assume the curse they were threatened with is the cause and that all their worst fears are true. Then we have missed the opportunity to cure a little bit of the bigotry in the world, and ignorance is perpetuated instead of confronted. Also, these are people who are reacting to their fear with violence, giving them a reason to believe their fears are justified is likely to escalate the violence rather than diffuse it.

      • cernowain greenman

        Why use a “curse” that would increase the fear factor for the attacker toward the victim? That would only fuel the attacker’s rage, it seems to me.

  • Hecate_Demetersdatter

    “Lady Liberty League […] has provided a variety of resources to my husband, Randy, and I during this time. ”

    No. LLL “has provided a variety of resources to my husband, Randy, and me during this time.”

    Good on LLL and I’m going to go throw some money at this issue, but I hate it when Pagan writers make this mistake. Here’s the old editor’s trick: take the other person out of the sentence. You’d never say that LLL provided a variety of resources to I during this time. Or, you can just say “to our family” or “to us.”

    • Sarah

      Unless I’ve been asked to proofread, my position is that life’s too short to worry about other people’s grammar.

    • GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh

      Ah, prescriptivist grammar. The arch-enemy of linguists everywhere.

      It seems rather silly to change a direct quote from spoken English to fit the arbitrary rules of early 20th century written English doesn’t it?

    • http://www.facebook.com/kyrja Kyrja Withers

      You
      are absolutely correct, and most of the time I’m fairly keen on keeping up with
      grammar rules, irrespective of my faith. Perhaps next time, you will be
      so kind as to draw this kind of thing to my attention (or any other author’s
      attention) privately so that it can be corrected without embarrassment.
      Thank you for your kind consideration, as well as for your generous
      donation. You are appreciated.

  • Omorka

    Wait, Houston hasn’t had a Pagan conference in over 30 years? News to me – I guess Get Sirius 1 and 2 (2011 and 2012) don’t count in someone’s book, but we worked damned hard on them all the same.

  • http://twitter.com/Ravan_A Ravan Asteris

    Just FYI, Facebook event listings do absolutely nothing for people whom don’t want to give them their real names and private info. Dead end, thanks.

    • cernowain greenman

      “Who” not “whom”. It’s in a subordinate clause.

    • Faoladh

      Are you saying that you can’t even look at the event information?