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!
Update on the Kyrja Withers Story: On March 30th I reported that Florida Pagan and children’s author Kyrja Withers had her home shot at, the latest in a string of escalating incidents seemingly connected to her Pagan faith. Now, PNC-Florida and the New Port Richey Patch are both reporting that the attacks have not stopped, and that her home was recently the subject of a chemical bomb attack, which required Withers’ daughter to seek medical care after inhaling fumes from the home-made bottle-bombs.
“She said there was a young man in the driver’s seat and another in the front passenger seat with his body sticking out of the window. She said the driver was also coming out of the window. There was also a young man in the backseat. She says two bottles with fluid inside were thrown at the house from within the vehicle on its return alongside the home. One landed near a bush in the front yard of the house. She saw the bottle expand and tried to get away before it exploded. “Every time I close my eyes, I see the bottle expanding,” she said. She said she did not escape the fumes when the bottle burst. She told the New Port Richey police that both bottles exploded. The second bottle exploded so hard that it went flying across the street and into a neighbor’s yard.”
Police are still investigating these incidents, and no arrests have been made. The Lady Liberty League is currently working on providing Kyrja Withers with support, and ask 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. May Kyrja and her family remain safe, and may these perpetrators be brought to justice.
Hexenfest Happens This Saturday: The second annual Hexenfest, a celebration of mythic music and dance, is happening this Saturday, April 27th, at the Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda, California. Featured performers are Arcane Dimension, Pandemonaeon, Morpheus Ravenna, Anaar, a Tombo Studio fashion show, and DJing by Skellington.
“Welcome to Hexenfest, a music and arts festival dedicated to myth, magic, folklore, fairytale, and the numenous. We feature artists who are exploring the wild archetypal through their art; musicians, dancers, visual artists, and crafters who look to the realms of myth and dream and reflect their visions into our world. Hexenfest has a flair for the darkly exotic. Gothic, Pagan, and Tribal belly dance themes are featured prominently, evoking the forbidden forest more than than the enchanted wood. If you feel at home in dark fairytales, join us in the realm!”
I was honored to be involved in the first Hexenfest, and I think the event could be replicated by local communities who want to grow and support Pagan-made music, dance, fashion, and other arts. So if you’re in the area, why not consider dropping by in a show of solidarity? I can guarantee that a lot of excellent people will be there. Here’s the official Facebook event page.
6th Anniversary of Veteran Pentacle Quest Victory: On April 23rd, 2007, a settlement was reached with the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs concerning the inclusion of the Wiccan Pentacle to the official VA list of Emblems of Belief. Nine years of bureaucratic stalling over this issue were endured, very likely due to the personal beliefs of former Texas governor, then-president, George W. Bush. While some have tried to gloss over this struggle, litigation and public pressure was necessary to move this issue forward, and open the door for more minority religions to have their symbols included. Now, on this 6th anniversary of the victory, Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, who was an instrumental part of the campaign, is hosting a special radio show this evening to share stories and remembrances.
“Celebrating 6th Anniversary of Veteran Pentacle Quest Victory Day with Roberta Stewart, others who helped make this happen. Tune in to special podcast tonight, 8-9pm CDT”
You can find the link to the show, here. Roberta Stewart, widow of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, will be participating. You can read a history of this quest for inclusion, here. The Wild Hunt’s extensive coverage of the Veteran Pentacle Quest can be read, here. We give our thanks for those who fought to make sure individuals like Sgt. Patrick Stewart would be properly honored.
In Other Community News:
- While not making their full goal, the Temple of Witchcraft did manage to raise over $50,000 for a new parking lot in a flexible funding campaign. Enough, it seems, to move forward with construction. In a post to their website, a representative of the Temple stated: “For the moment, we are humbled and grateful for the tremendous support the community has show our efforts.”
- I’m going to quickly mention the issues raised over a recent public letter by Dianic leader Ruth Barrett over trans inclusion at Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, and the subsequent allegations made by the Living Temple of Diana concerning legal notices, in order to say that, yes, I’m aware of the issue, and I’m currently working on a longer story concerning the matter. Collecting official statements and talking to legal experts takes time, so stay tuned for future reporting on this.
- In a similar vein, I’m working with Cherry Hill Seminary to present a report on the recent Sacred Lands and Spiritual Landscapes Symposium, presented by the seminary in conjunction with the University of South Carolina, and featuring historian Ronald Hutton as a keynote speaker, but we’re still working out the details. In the meantime, I recommend you check out John Beckett’s reports on the event (and here’s a piece devoted to his impressions of Hutton). Also, here’s a report from CHS Director Holli Emore on the symposium (with pictures).
- Congratulations to the Gay Men’s Open Pagan Circle in New York on their 100th ritual last week.
- Estelle Daniels of Paganistan (the twin cities in Minnesota) is interviewing elders in the Pagan Community in the Midwest who attend Earth House Midsummer Gather to get their stories. PNC-Minnesota runs her interview with Rev John Stitely, the current Chair of Earth House.
- Do you want to see a conjure shop in Kansas City? Quote: “A Kansas City based team of rootworkers, conjurers, and Vodou people who want to open a store in the heart of Kansas City! There’s three of us, each representing different uniquely American spiritual traditions, and we’re combining our years of expertise to create a wonderfully fun, funky, and inviting lil’ shop here in the Heartland!” They have 16 days left to raise their $8000 goal (they’ve raised around $2,200 so far), so pitch in if this is something you’d like to support.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!