Pagan Community Notes: Penczak Takes COVR, Valiente’s Blue Plaque, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  June 25, 2013 — 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!

Patrick McCollum and members of HAF with the resolution.

Patrick McCollum and members of HAF with the resolution.

On Monday in California a resolution introduced by Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett was unanimously adopted by the State Senate. SCR-32 designates October as Hindu American Awareness and Appreciation Month, and was backed by the Hindu American Foundation. Pagan chaplain and activist Patrick McCollum, who was honored by HAF in 2009 due to his work on behalf of minority religions, was invited to be a part of this moment, one that he called “historic.” McCollum added that “Pagans and Hindus have supported one another for equal rights and recognition and we stand together for a better world.” This is the first such resolution to honor American Hindus, and one of very few resolutions to honor a non-Christian minority faith in the United States. As State Senator Corbett says in her official statement, quote, “I am honored to represent constituents from many diverse backgrounds, including a significant number of Hindu Americans, California is home to a thriving community of over 370,000 Hindu Americans that enrich our state’s diversity and professional assets in fields as diverse as academia, science, technology, business, arts and literature.” You can see a picture of Rev. Patrick McCollum with Senate Majority Leader Corbett, here. Congratulations to our Hindu cousins!

COVR Award

COVR Award

The International New Age Trade Show (INATS) was held this past weekend, and the annual COVR (Coalition of Visionary Retailers) awards were handed out. Pagan and metaphysical publisher Llewellyn Worldwide took home four COVR awards, including a First Runner Up award (Wicca/Paganism category) for Rev. Mark Townsend’s “Jesus Through Pagan Eyes” (reviewed here). The big Pagan winner of the weekend was author Christopher Penczak, who took home First Place awards for “Buddha, Christ, Merlin: Three Wise Men for Our Age” and “The Gates of Witchcraft,” a Runner Up prize for “Feast of the Morrighan,” and two awards for his spell coins. Penczak said he was “humbled and grateful” for the recognition he received. You can read more about this year’s COVR nominees and winners here, here, and here. For an insiders perspective of INATS, and the future of the occult/metaphysical market, I found this blog post very interesting.  Congratulations to all the winners!

Adocentyn Research Library

Adocentyn Research Library

The Adocentyn Research Library in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, in the process of building what they hope will be “the premier Pagan research center in the Western US,” have reached a new milestone. According to Adocentyn board member and co-founder Donald H. Frew, their online catalogue has surpassed 4,500 volumes, with far more volumes on-site and in the process of being catalogued. Quote: “There are over 6000 volumes currently on-site (plus hundreds of periodicals) with another 5000+ coming (plus ephemera such as correspondence, notebooks, etc.). Cataloguing takes time, but we have 19 volunteers helping us move things along. We will be opening soon.” This is exciting progress for the library, and you can keep up with the latest announcements at their official Facebook page. As I’ve reported previously, Adocentyn is in preliminary talks with the New Alexandrian Library Project (currently under construction) and other institutions in forming a Pagan Libraries Organization so that they can share information, and offer inter-library loans.

Blue plaque ceremony.

Blue plaque ceremony.

Last week’s Summer Solstice saw the dedication of a commemorative blue plaque at the Brighton, UK home of Dorren Valiente, called by many the mother of modern religious Witchcraft (you can read my previous coverage of the plaque here). Druid leader Philip Carr-Gomm, who attended the ceremony, said that this was a historic moment for more than one reason. Quote: “This is a first for Wicca and Paganism but this was also a historic moment for another reason – it is apparently the first blue plaque to appear on a council block.” The Centre for Pagan Studies has posted a video of the unveiling which I’ve embedded below. You can see additional coverage of the event at The Argus, which has also posted a video from the ceremony. John Belham-Payne, who inherited the bulk of Valiente’s Pagan-oriented estate, says he plans to open a museum in Brighton. Quote: “I’ve been contacted by museum owners in Salem but Brighton is the only place for the collection.”

In Other Pagan Community News:

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

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  • Hecate_Demetersdatter

    I just don’t think that governments need to be recognizing or appreciating any religions. I’m glad that California is not focused just on the Abrahamic religions, but I prefer strict adherence to the 1st Amendment.

    • cernowain greenman

      The courts have ruled for a long time now that recognition is not in any way an establishment of religion. I think it is appropriate for a state like California to recognize the oldest continually existing religion and its contributions to out world.

      • Hecate_Demetersdatter

        cernowain,

        If so, I disagree with the courts. As I said, I prefer strict adherence to the 1st Amendment. But as I have noted on other occasions, as long as states are going to do these sorts of things, it’s important for Pagans and others to be included.

  • Franklin_Evans

    I’m a software engineer, and i work with many people (in person) from India, most of whom are Hindu. Based on those few with whom I’ve also had in-depth conversations, I view their religion as being culturally integrated in similar ways to that other religion with which I have a similar depth of familiarity, Judaism.

    I try to view resolutions like the CA one as cultural rather than religious. I don’t know more than what I read here and elsewhere about what such things mean to CA residents, so I’d ask them the begged question: Is this tantamount to a superficial (or worse) “establishment”, or is it something less dire and more tolerable?

    • kenofken

      Legislative resolutions are pretty innocuous (some would say useless) actions. They don’t carry the force of law nor do they usually indicate any weighty policy statement of the elected body. Its a way to give constituent groups an “attaboy” and a nice certificate to hang in the lodge hall or wherever. They’re non-controversial by design, and it’s good that a non-Abrahamic religion can get through without controversy. Of course this is California. I suspect it would have been uglier in the Bible Belt. In any case, I don’t see any real Estalishment Clause problem with it.

  • kenofken

    When it comes to the Anglican business, my primary concern is not that they would deceive any dedicated pagans into becoming Anglicans. I think the issue is more one of cultural appropriation. Hollinghurst, like a lot of other people these days, are trying to figure out how to evangelize or market to the growing category of “nones” or “spiritual but not religious.”

    They think we pagans have something that appeals to that set. We do, but I think he’s not seeing the whole picture where that’s concerned. The considerable gains of paganism in recent years does not account for most of the loss of Christian churches.

    Sure, we get some, but most of those folks don’t really identify as any one thing. They take some inspiration from some of our concepts and New Age and Eastern philosophy and mystical Christianity and Self-Help books and they just generally see spirituality as a completely personal journey that works best without affiliation and labels. These folks do account for some of the spillover crowds at Stonehenge and probably many of our U.S. big public festivals.

    I meet plenty of people at Beltanes and Summer Solstice who don’t self-identify as pagans per se, but like the ritual forms and the idea of marking natural cycles. Some are on the Christo-Pagan spectrum, and the Anglicans likely could draw some of those folks in. I think he greatly underestimates the difficulties of what he proposes.

    As I’ve said, what makes paganism work for pagans is much deeper than the festival formats or ritual trappings, so taking cuttings back to Anglicanism won’t recreate the forest of ours you envy. Secondly, they’re likely to end up with some hybrid that is neither pagan nor Christian. Those who turn out to have true pagan hearts won’t stick around for Christo-Pagan Lite, and at the same time, ALL of the Anglican traditionalists will bolt for the door.

    If Anglicans want tips on how to run a good outdoor festival, I have no problem with that, and I see no threat whatsoever from evangelism of this sort to our ranks. The hazards of misappropriation in this case will fall solely upon the Anglicans, if they do it wrong.

    I also see something very positive for us. We’re seeing the beginning of a re-ascendance of pagan ideals, including some of our best values. Without sending out a single missionary, we’re nevertheless influencing the culture at large for the better. Values like tolerance, healthier dynamics of gender and sexuality, a love of knowledge, respect for elders, sustainability, interconnectedness, living consciously. All of these things are percolating out in the culture at large, and especially the young, as alternatives to the sickness of the contemporary world. People see some of what we’re doing as solutions. To the extent we can model and teach that and serve as influencers and catalysts for change, that’s all to the good, whether people circle with us or the Anglicans or anyone else.

    • Anna H.

      Did you read his blog?

  • Anna H.

    I read the Rev. Hollingsworth blog, and he seems to be a very decent man, someone I’d love to sit down and talk to. The last section of his blog, in particular, was a very heartfelt statement of things his church could and should do, within their own faith traditions, such as incorporate the Divine Feminine and an ecological awareness.

    I salute and support the Rev. Hollingsworth’s the world.