Pagan Community Notes: Raven Grimassi, Phyllis Curott, Worldwide Heathen Census, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 1, 2013 — 21 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!

Raven Grimassi

Raven Grimassi

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re in the midst of Pagan Pride Day season, and sometimes certain folks aren’t too fond of Pagans gathering and expressing pride in their faith(s). Author and lecturer Raven Grimassi was at the Piedmont Pagan Pride event in North Carolina this past weekend, which experienced some disruptions at the hands of local Christians. Quote: “It was the first event for the Park and a group of Fundamentalists Christians descended. They prayed over us, and spent some time wandering amidst the crowds holding Bibles in the air while shouting ‘Praise the Lord’ and ‘Glory be to God’. One came up to me and tried to convert me, and two came to one of my talks to heckle and be confrontational. I always warm myself in these moments as the love pours out as only they can deliver it.” According to Grimassi, local police acknowledged that the Christians were attempting to disrupt the event, and praised the Pagans on their restraint. Commenting further, Grimassi said that the “New Testament gives Christians a mandate to convert others, and from that perspective I understand their passion to do so. I just wish that Jesus had added to the text: ‘Oh, and don’t be an a**hole about it'”

worldwide heathen census asatru norse mythology blog norsemythDr. Karl E. H. Seigfried of The Norse Mythology Blog has launched The Worldwide Heathen Census 2013, which “seeks to establish an approximate number of adherents through an anonymous survey with only one item: a pull-down menu where the respondent selects his or her home country. It is hoped that the anonymous nature of this census will attract responses from heathens who may not want to put their name on an official form from a governmental agency or research institution.” According to Dr. Seigfried, the census was in part sparked by frustration over Heathens being “mostly invisible in major surveys of religious affiliation,” and seeks to remedy that. The census is anonymous, and asks that only individuals who “self-identify as a heathen and heathenry is your primary expression of faith and religion” or if “your core religious identity is as someone who practices any variation of Germanic paganism” participate.

Phyllis Curott (third from left) at an interfaith gathering.

Phyllis Curott (third from left) at an interfaith gathering.

Pagan author Phyllis Curott, who currently serves as Vice Chair of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religion’s Board of Trustees, is quoted in a public statement from that organization, defending their decision to back out of sponsorship of an event honoring the legacy of Swami Vivekananda, who represented Hinduism at the very first parliament in 1893. According to Curott, “as an interfaith body, the Parliament simply cannot co-sponsor an event with political parties, organizations, or individuals” and that “as an interfaith body, the Parliament also cannot co-sponsor an event with an organization that does not respect the independent nature of Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist communities.” The political organization in question is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India, currently backing the candidacy of Narendra Modi for Prime Minister. Modi self-describes as a Hindu Nationalist, and is banned from traveling to the United States due to his controversial role in anti-Muslim retaliation riots. In addition, a keynote speaker at the event, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, was removed from teaching at Harvard after he wrote a highly controversial op-ed regarding how Hindus should respond to Muslim terrorism. This statement from the Council was in response to the Hindu American Foundation’s criticism of the move, claiming the interfaith organization “turned its back on the Hindu community and drew its own fault lines defining politics and religion.” Sadly, it seems that by trying to extricate itself from the political fray of these issues by removing co-sponsorship, they have instead sunk deeper into an ongoing and divisive debate.

In Other Pagan Community News: 

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

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Dscarron

    Dr. Siegfried is definitely working nicely toward the Heathen of the Year award. 🙂
    And I hope that the NC PPD had a happy ending that involved officers dragging said rude folks away…

    • g75401

      It was definitely a time for the chorus “You’ll know they are christians by their hate, be their hate, yes, you’ll know they are christians by their hate”

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Kudos to Piedmont Pride for keeping their cool.Hauling the fools away is tricky: To what extent are they exercising their own religious freedom, and to what extent violating others’?In Cleveland we had an evangelical bigmouth arrested for prayer-warrioring a public Samhain service, but we had a parade permit and it was a religious service the fool was disrupting. But I don’t know how NC law is structured.

  • PhaedraHPS

    I spent many happy years as a completely out Pagan in NC, so I hope people don’t start spouting the knee-jerk put-downs to a Southern state.. Piedmont Pagan Pride is a big event, obviously now big enough and prominent enough to make extremists nervous. In a weird way, that’s good.

    • thelettuceman

      Yesterday was apparently “National Sin Awareness Day” or some bull, and my campus (one of the SUNY universities) had a very loud preacher with a bullhorn. So no, it’s not just the South.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Oberlin College in northern Ohio was plagued annually by an evangelical “Brother Jed.” One year a gang of women students surrounded him and went topless. Haven’t seen him lately.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          I must try that. 😉

        • Nick Ritter

          I remember Brother Jed! He used to come to the University of Minnesota.

          • We used to have a similar preacher who regularly came to UNC Charlotte when I was there; I don’t remember his name though.

          • Crystal Hope Kendrick

            I believe he came to my small university too. Was he the guy who always carried the brief case? I remember one year some young men kept moving his brief case when his head was turned that he always kept by his side. Good times.

        • harmonyfb

          Ah, Jed and Cindy. They hit my southern college every year, and never failed to be offensive and entertaining (at least to the students from the seminary attached to my school.)

        • Anna H.

          Jed is still alive?? Good gracious, he used to hit Duke back in ’79-’80. Itinerant preaching must be good aerobic exercise.

          • Nick Ritter

            Either that, or there’s more than one “Brother Jed.”

    • Anna H.

      Yes. And, I can’t help but think that the open political turn to the very far right that NC has experienced this past year has emboldened the extremists; they now hold real power.

      • It has been a disheartening couple of years to live in NC. We’ve joined the ranks of the states that are making the news regularly for really embarrassing reasons.

  • TheSeaHag

    As I have pointed out a few times to someone trying to convert me, Jesus kinda-sorta did put a limitation on the Great Commission. In Matthew 10:14, he instructs, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” As far as I know, he never told his disciples to shove their belief in him down anyone’s throat. He also, notably, specifically forbade them from praying loudly in public (Matthew 6:5). Obviously, these are not the verses those Christian protestors are interested in.

    • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

      Perhaps, since these are often biblical literalists who do these things, we should likewise adopt a rather literalist approach to them: when they start getting preachy, get some baby powder and actually throw it on their shoes and say “Go away! You’re not welcome here!” Then they can do their part just like their sacred text tells them to…

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Personally, I like to remind the followers of peace, love and tolerance that my own beliefs do not carry such a mandate, but there is something about carrying weapons…

  • JLeonhardt

    As a Pagan that attended the NCPPD, I am quite happy to report that after I noticed police presence, the fundamentalists were much quieter. Also, 2 of the officers present were Pagan themselves, which brought a smile to my face. It was quite a wonderful time. I do hate that I missed out on Mr. Grimassi’s keynote address though 🙁

  • Hawthorn Tree

    Hi Jason.
    The reason there is not much about Faunalia on the web, is partly because that is a pseudonym, the real name of the event was EUPHORIA. The other reason is that EUPHORIA went into hiatus a few years ago and we let the webpage go. We are are planning other events now, and are looking at putting the page up again, with additional material about or new adventures.

    Hawthorn and Seline

  • James Robert French

    A clarification: OSOGD issued our statement on September 15th, before Kraig’s post. It was not in response to him, but an action initiated within the membership.