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!
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'”
Dr. 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.
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:
- The Warrior’s Call anti-fracking ritual at Glastonbury Tor, with solidarity actions in other locations, was held this past Saturday. You can see video of the ritual, here, or embedded below. On a Facebook page devoted to the action, organizers note that “what happens on the 28th is only the start. More events are already in the works” and that “an age of Pagan Warriorhood is dawning, and the quest to stop Fracking is its passionately beating heart.”
- Speaking of Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried and The Norse Mythology Blog, a video statement from the director of “Vikingdom” has been issued, apologizing to Heathens for insulting their faith, and saying that “we respect your religion as much as we like you to respect ours.” You can read my previous coverage of this controversy, here.
- Sociologist Douglas Ezzy, author of “Practising the Witch’s Craft: Real Magic Under a Southern Sky” and other works, is publishing a new book entitled “Sex, Death and Witchcraft: A Contemporary Pagan Festival,” scheduled for paperback release in July of 2014. Quote: “The book combines rich and evocative description of the rituals with careful analysis of the social processes that shape people’s experiences at this controversial Pagan festival.” The controversial festival in question is Faunalia, of which, there’s not much to find on the web.
- As more attention is being drawn to Greece’s extremist Golden Dawn party in international news, Donald Michael Kraig has called for leaders of various Golden Dawn magical orders to publicly distance themselves from the party, so as to avoid confusion. Quote: “If you do not support the goals and ideals of Greece’s Golden Dawn, stand up and let people know this. Members and outsiders deserve to know.” Brandy Williams, a Golden Dawn initiate, has noted that the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn had already issued a statement rejecting the Greek party’s racism on September 15th (check out the statement on Facebook). More on the Golden Dawn, and Greek Paganism, soon.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!