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!
September 21st marked the United Nations International Day of Peace, and Pagan activist Patrick McCollum was there. McCollum, who is a board member of the NGO Children of the Earth, escorted a group of refugee youth to participate in the UN’s ceremony and held meetings with UN officials and prominent activists like Jane Goodall. In an update sent to The Wild Hunt, McCollum described some of the interactions and experiences he’s had. Quote: “I got to shake hands with the Secretary General of the United Nations, and to have casual conversations with numerous other movers and shakers on the world stage. In particular I was moved to meet Monica Coleman who has been designated as the UN’s Ambassador for women’s and girls rights. Having given one of the two Keynote addresses on empowering women at the largest gathering of women in the world last February in India, I feel powerfully called to work together with Monica to change the status of women worldwide. As I have said in the past, until women have equality worldwide, we can never achieve world peace or planetary sustainability.” Of the refugee children he worked with, McCollum said that he “was quite proud of both their presence and their projects toward peace. They are the future, and to have a part in sharing the path with them and helping to mentor them, is wonderful to say the least.” You can read further updates at the Patrick McCollum Foundation website, or the Patrick McCollum Foundation Facebook page. This an important and historic moment of inclusion for modern Pagans on the world stage, one that has come about through Patrick’s tireless service on behalf of modern Pagans, and a pluralistic, peaceful, world.
On September 16th, Dr. Karl E.H. Seigfried of the Norse Mythology Blog published an open letter to the makers of Vikingdom, a low-budget Malaysian production with Norse themes. In it, critiques the production for “wholeheartedly accepting the darkest propaganda of the Christian missionaries and their allies who violently persecuted followers of the Old Way.” Quote: “I hope that you have not set out to insult the memory of the many, many followers of the Old Way who were tortured & murdered for their refusal to abandon their ancient faith. I hope that you have not set out to insult the international community of followers of Ásatrú, the living religion that venerates the Norse gods & takes Thor’s hammer as its holy symbol. I understand that this is simply “a fantasy, action adventure” aimed at a mass market. However, pop culture can make a serious statement, as well. What statement are you making with this movie?” This open letter ended up getting nearly 25,000 likes, over 60,000 views, and the attention of Malaysian news media. This prompted director Yusry Abdul Halim to respond in Malaysian media, insinuating that Dr. Seigfried may not be qualified to criticize, that the jury is still out on the existence of vikings, and that the film is ‘just fantasy’ (despite the film trumpeting their research). You can read Dr. Seigfried’s reactions to Yusry Abdul Halim’s response, here. He’s inviting people to respectfully give feedback to the production company, and suggests that the filmmakers donate “all profits to interfaith charities that build bridges between religions, for that is the truly righteous path.”
Pagan teacher and activist Shauna Aura Knight reports that The Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater in Catskill, New York, was attacked by a young man throwing rocks and epithets at the order’s house. Quote: “Last night while I was enjoying talking to Cathryn Platine at the Maetreum of Cybele, a teenager/young man started throwing rocks at the house. At first we thought it was just branches falling, but then the window in the kitchen broke from two rocks that were thrown through the window. It was just Cathy and I downstairs so I followed her outside. The young man ran from the bushes near the road across the road, and then began taunting us [...] Cathy called the police, who responded a few moments later, but the police didn’t catch the guy. Cathy filed a report and they took a cursory look at the rocks and the window, but they wouldn’t file this as a hate crime.” Rev. Mother Cathryn Platine of the Maetreum added that “unlike the past, the police response time was fairly fast but they didn’t even take a proper report and ignored my telling them it was a hate crime as evidenced by one of the little bastards hiding in the bushes screaming anti LGBT slurs, swearing and taunting us [with] anti Pagan slurs.” The added expense of the broken window is one the order can scarcely afford, as they are still locked in an expensive ongoing legal battle with Catskill over their tax exempt status. A “stop the hate” rally is planned at the Maetreum on September 28th.
The Warrior’s Call, a public Pagan ritual to protect Britain from fracking, to be held at the Glastonbury Tor, is coming up on September 28th. Here’s a description from a recent press release sent to me: “We, as Pagans, believe that the natural world is profoundly sacred. In particular though, sites such as Chalice Well are our holy places. To have them desecrated is a direct attack upon our ways and upon us. Fracking will not alleviate fuel poverty, nor will it provide us with greater fuel security. Its long lasting destruction to land and water is neither needed nor wanted. There are many practical alternatives, yet they are being ignored (with catastrophic consequences) because of corruption and ideological extremism within the government. Corporations should not dictate state policy. Around the world on the 28th of September, rituals (both large and small) will be held to protect these sacred islands from harm. Although we all come from many different pagan paths, on that day we will speak with one voice. The Warrior’s Call is that unified voice. And it sings with the blessings of the Gods and Goddesses.” One prominent supporter of this action is Druid leader Philip Carr-Gomm who has posted a suggested ritual/meditation for those who want to join in, but cannot come to Glastonbury on that day. Quote: “If you would like to protect the Earth from the invasive and toxic process of fracking, you might like to join in spirit with thousands of people around the world who will be holding rituals and meditations at 12 noon GMT on Saturday 28th September 2013.” You can read my previous reporting on this upcoming event, here. I’m hoping to bring you more insights before the action begins, and reporting after the fact as well, so stay tuned!
In Other Pagan Community News:
- What started as a manifesto for a “polytheism without borders” by author and Dionysian Sannion has now launched into “a self-identified collective of Observant Hard Polytheists who want to connect and form a broader community.” Of the new site, Sannion says that “Polytheism Without Borders is now entirely in your hands and it will live or die by your efforts. Participation is what makes all the difference between failure and success.”
- We’ve talked a lot recently about the recently released edition of Abraxas, the international journal of esoteric studies, including a September 20th launch party at Treadwells in London. So here’s some photos of the launch party for those who couldn’t be in London (which would include myself).
- The 2013 Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle recently wrapped up, and while I think the overview provided to The Wild Hunt by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus was excellent and informative, I thought you might also enjoy reading some other perspectives. Thelemite Scott Stenwick said that “If you have an interest in esoteric books as a collector, magical practitioner, or both I highly recommend it,” while author and poet Erynn Rowan Laurie noted that her “favorite session of the conference, bar none, was the presentation on comic books as grimoires done by the good folks who own The Dreaming comics in the University District.” Magical authors Brandy Williams and Taylor Ellwood both described their time there as “wonderful,” and finally, P. Sufenas Virius Lupus gives a more personal take on the conference at the Aedicula Antinoi blog.
- Cherry Hill Seminary lets us know that earlier this month Dr. Vivianne Crowley presented a paper as part of a panel on “Contemporary Paganism in Public Life: Transformation and Change” at the European Association for the Study of Religions 2013 Annual Conference. Quote: “She presented a paper, ‘Standing up to be counted: Understanding Pagan responses to the 2011 UK Census,’ which gave highlights from the interim analysis of a questionnaire completed by some 1,700 UK Pagans about their responses to the ‘Religion’ question in the Census.” I would love to read that paper!
- US-based Hellenic polytheist organization Hellenion recently released a statement clearly rejecting the use of Hellenic polytheism to promote any kind of hatred. Quote: “Hellenion categorically rejects the use of Hellenic Polytheism or any expression of veneration to the Theoi as a means for furthering anti-Semitism, neo-Nazi sympathies, or any form of racism, sexism, homophobia or other hatred. There is no place for that in our worship of the Theoi.” This came after reading about Greek extremist political party Golden Dawn, and how they have appropriated Hellenic imagery and traditions in service of their hateful agenda. I’ll have much more about this soon, including a letter sent to me by a Golden Dawn member and reports from Greek Pagans and polytheists. Stay tuned.
- B. T. Newberg, founder and managing editor of the site Humanistic Paganism has announced that he’s stepping down from his position, and that John Halstead at The Allergic Pagan will be taking his place. Quote: “I am proud to announce that as of October 6th of this year, John Halstead will be taking over as managing editor. As a frequent contributor to HP and the author of The Allergic Pagan and Dreaming the Myth Forward, John has proven a prolific voice. He is an insightful writer, and a rock-steady supporter of the community. I can’t wait to see the new energy he will bring to HP.” Newberg will be staying on as treasurer and advising editor.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!