Pagan Community Notes: PFI Philippines, Relief Fundraising, Heathen Census, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 12, 2013 — 33 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!

PFI PhilippinesIn the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which has wreaked havoc and destruction through the Philippines, the Pagan Federation International in Philippines has started raising funds to aid in providing food, water, and shelter to those directly affected by the storm. Quote: “Let us help ease the burden of our friends from Northern Cebu by helping with our mission to give aid to the Northern Cebu Typhoon Victims such as Daan Bantayan and Bogo. Pagan Federation International is needing volunteers and donations.” Vivianne Crowley, a longtime member and organizer within the Pagan Federation, added, quote, “many of you will have seen on news programs the devastation in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda). The Pagan community in the Philippines seem to all be safe, but some have lost their homes and many people are lacking food, water and shelter. Our friends in Pagan Federation International Philippines are appealing for help.” The Wild Hunt’s Heather Greene is currently following up with PFI Philippines on this effort, and we hope to bring you a more in-depth report this Sunday. I have embedded a poster created by PFI Philippines below, which lists contact information and a list of needs.

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Peter Dybing

Peter Dybing

Meanwhile, Pagan activist and disaster relief first responder Peter Dybing has issued a challenge to our community to give during this time of crisis. Quote: “Here is the challenge. I ask that every individual identifying as part of our community do the following things. 1. Select a relief organization that is doing work in the Philippines and donate what you can. 2. Post a link to the organization and call on everyone you know to take a similar action. 3. When the disaster fades from the news show support for the idea of a Pagan lead disaster relief organization. I have never directly asked you to share my blog posts. Today I am, please share this challenge far and wide.” Dybing added on his Facebook profile that “The American Red Cross has an outstanding record of being of assistance in small local disasters. Their record in large scale disasters is however, marred by very poor performances in responding to disasters like Katrina and Haiti. Millions of earmarked funds unspent years later. Better to donate to the local Philippines Red Cross directly.” A link to the Red Cross in the Philippines can be found, here. I’ve also provided a link to Doctors Without Borders, here.

worldwide heathen census asatru norse mythology blog norsemythBack in October I mentioned the launch of the Worldwide Heathen Census, a project of the Norse Mythology Blog that is attempting 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. Below, I’ve embedded a graphic from a November 9th update on the census, which will run through December of this year. So far, the United States seems to hold an overwhelming majority of contemporary Heathens, with Germany running a distant second, and the UK and even more distant third. Regarding the UK number, we do know that the census of England and Wales counted nearly 2000 Heathens (with another 150 or so in Scotland), so that number should climb a bit if participation increases. I’ll keep you posted on the final results once the census closes.

November 9 Worldwide Heathen Census 2013 Results by Country Norse Mythology Blog

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • Several Pagans, reconstructionists, and polytheists have spoken out over a stunt “God Graveyard” put up by atheists in Wisconsin. Sannion has rounded up many of those voices at his blog, here. P. Sufenas Virius Lupus noted that “they [atheists] are so concerned with evidence and proving things and making sure everything they say is factual, that they get to ignore all of religious studies, history, real people and traditions that are occurring today, and other matters that might shed light on anything that has to do with religion since all religion is unreal/false/nonsense, etc.” At Baring the Aegis, Elani Temperance adds that the atheist group’s stunning lack of ethics in this matter undermines their argument for unbelief, quote, “ethical behavior is not religious, but social, and the AHA would do well to remember that.” Or, as Sannion puts it in a follow-up, “it’s a dick move to tell another person that their god is dead; doesn’t really matter whether you’re laughing while you do it or wielding a knife.”
The "God Graveyard" in Wisconsin.

The “God Graveyard” in Wisconsin.

  • Last week I mentioned Operation Circle Care, a program that sends care packages to active duty Pagan soldiers serving overseas during the holidays. This week, OCC wanted to add that they are urgently looking for names of individuals who want/need this service. Quote: Service members can submit their own names, or those here at home can submit their information. We keep all contact information absolutely confidential. To submit a name we’re asking people to send the full name, rank, branch of military service, country where serving, postal address, email address, and spiritual path for the Pagan service-member, and also include your own name and contact info, plus your relationship with the service-member. We keep contact information confidential to circle@circlesanctuary.org with cc to: occ@circlesanctuary.org.” For more information, see Operation Circle Care’s official page. So if you know someone who needs this service, please get in touch!
  • Publisher Bibliotheca Alexandrina has announced that they are lowering the prices of all their titles effective immediately. Quote:  “Bibliotheca Alexandrina has lowered the prices on nearly all of our print titles. In general, books with a page count of 0-199 pages will be $10.99 US, 200-299 pages will be $12.99, and 300+ pages will be $14.99. There are a few exceptions, as some books have higher production costs, but we plan to stick as close as possible to this pricing scheme moving forward.” They also add that the new prices are effective immediately on their CreateSpace store, but will take a couple of weeks to migrate to places like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. There are some excellent titles in their roster, so stock up!
  • Pagan chaplain and activist Patrick McCollum has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to fund a trip to India where he has been invited by Sri Tathata to help facilitate the MahaYaga. Quote: “Sri Tathata, a great spiritual leader in India, has asked Patrick to be one of the primary facilitators at the MahaYaha, a 6-day event of rituals and prayers designed to create world peace. The intention of this ritual is to shift the course and consciousness of our planet.  This is a revival of an ancient and sacred Hindu ritual called the MahaYaga, which is written about in the Vedas and goes back many thousands of years. This ritual was stopped a couple thousand years ago and is only now being re-created. In addition to facilitating the ritual itself, Patrick has been asked to be a keynote speaker both as an individual and at a round table with some of the foremost religious and political leaders from around the world where the topic is world peace, women’s issues and planetary sustainability.” Patrick is trying to raise over $10,000 dollars for the trip, and has less than a month to do so.
  • In a recent update sent to supporters, Cherry Hill Seminary puts the spotlight on Dr. David Oringderff, Chair of the Department of Pastoral Counseling and Chaplaincy, and co-founder of the Sacred Well Congregation, for ten years of service to the Pagan learning institution. In the piece, Dr. Oringderff stresses the importance of accreditation for CHS. Quote: “Because I work a lot with the military, and we’ve got a lot of fine young military people who want to become military chaplains, and of course, it’s a very rigid procedure to be accepted as a chaplain in the military. The biggest hurdle is the educational requirement. And so they’re stuck. They have to go to a traditional seminary, or they have to go to a traditional seminary; there’s just no alternative.  Yet.  Until we reach that point.”

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Segomâros Widugeni

    It might be good to have contact information for the AHA so we can register our opinions with them. Also, is there any possibility of getting larger community organizations to make a statement? On the one hand, the damage is already done, but maybe if the AHA understood just how insensitive and offensive their actions were, they and others might reconsider doing something similar in the future. I’m assuming here that we make our opinions known in a polite and respectful manner. Attacks, flames, or threats may be the opposite of what we need.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Being a former Humanist myself I can empathize, but certainly not sympathize, with this stunt. I would simply point out to my former cohort that, as a small minority, this comes off as shallowly juvenile. If they were in the majority it would come off as spiritual bullying. Not a cool move.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Adding up the Heathen census numbers for Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland gets something north of 700, which puts “trans-Scandinavia” ahead of the UK.

    • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

      If I had to guess, I’d say that the degree to which the US is ahead of everyone else is at least partially because knowledge of this census has probably circulated significantly more in the US.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Why make “trans-Scandinavia” distinct from the UK? the UK is a Heathen homeland (has a history of Germanic god worship) as well, after all.

      • thelettuceman

        Well said.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Trans-Scandinavia has folk myths in common.

        • kenofken

          Trans-gendered Viking folk? I’ll have to turn that one over for a while, but I see real promise in it. The cis men and women in that region are fine specimens in their own right so…. :)

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          Some of the myths are pan-Germanic.

          The Wild Hunt, for one.

  • Charles Cosimano

    It was a cool stunt and it worked, obviously. Since when is expressing opinion unethical? Oh yes, when it annoys Pagans. I keep forgetting that.

    • Merlyn7

      Imagine a display of famous Atheists who have passed away with a note about how long they have been burning in Hell. Now imagine the Atheist reaction.

      • gaddy

        don’t really have to imagine it, I seen bill- boards propped up by evangelical Christians with words directly to that effect.

    • http://stephyjh.wordpress.com/ Stephy

      I don’t think it’s cool. Honestly, I think it’s no more cool than the fundies who posted their HUGE Christmas light display in their side yard rather than the front, just so that it would face the local synagogue. In other words, tacky and ridiculous. But I think the dust-up being made of it is too.

      • kenofken

        I don’t think it’s at all worth getting upset about it to the point of taking a sort of anti-defamation posture. At the same time, it’s fair to point out the irony of atheist proselytizing. Some of them at least have become the angry fundamentalist assholes they claim to oppose. We’ve spent a few centuries since the enlightenment working to get out from under the thumb of Christian missionaries. We don’t need atheists, or for that matter, pagans, to replace them. It’s a stupid move for them strategically too because many of us are natural allies with atheists to the extent they are just demanding secular government, respect for pluralism etc.

        • http://stephyjh.wordpress.com/ Stephy

          Oh, I agree that there’s plenty of irony there, and that it was poorly thought out and immature. But I look at how I’ve been attacked for not thinking it’s JUST SO AWFUL, and it scares me to realize how much the opinion-policing looks like the fundamentalist Christianity of my upbringing. I mean, it’s starting to feel like Blazing Saddles. “I didn’t get a harrumph out of that guy!”

          • kenofken

            If it helps any, keep in mind that the blog pagan world isn’t necessarily representative of the real one. Online forums are a magnet for loons and well-meaning, over-educated and underemployed writers. I count myself in that!

    • cernowain greenman

      I doubt that the stunt worked. If anything, the Christians seeing all the allegedly dead gods will take this as proof that their god is the one who survived (or vanquished) the others, and take this as a sign that the Christian god is an exception to the other divinities.

      Back in the late ’60s when the “God is Dead” theology movement was featured on Time magazine’s cover the response of Christians was “God’s not dead, He’s risen”.

      A stunt like this only propels and energizes religious activity. In reality, I believe it is a total failure.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Actually, Charles, I don’t agree that it’s unethical. It’s non-violent expression of an opinion. But it is tacky.

  • Merlyn7

    Challenge Accepted. Donated to Doctors without Borders. I tried donating to Philippines Red Cross but I had a little trouble with figuring out the conversion rate.

  • http://stephyjh.wordpress.com/ Stephy

    You know, the coverage of this “god graveyard” thing is really one-sided. There are plenty of us who just think it’s a silly, immature stunt and aren’t worried about it. If you pay attention to a stunt pulled for attention, you’re giving them exactly what they want, and you’re giving them the power to point and laugh at the poor butthurt pagans. It’s a waste of time to whine about the horror of atheists not believing in living gods. I mean, hey, it’s almost as if the word meant something! Do I think their display was in good taste? Absolutely not! But I’m pretty sure, coming into the Christmas season, that we as pagans are going to see a lot more of the tasteless displays of beliefs other than our own. And we have to get over ourselves a little and accept that their right to express their beliefs is just as sacred as ours, whether we like it or agree with it or not.

    When I was in college, I faced a lot worse religious persecution than a couple of pictures posted on the campus lawn. I had a roommate try to get me thrown off campus. I had other students attempt to physically force me to attend a fundie religious service in the cafeteria during mealtime. I was forbidden from speaking at the campus “interfaith” seminar. And all of this was at a public university. So I know a little about religious bigotry on campus, and I think that in the broad scheme of things, this is small potatoes.

    I really have to hand it to Peter Dybing for the work that he’s doing. As far removed as our points of view are from one another, I deeply respect that when a disaster hits, he’s the first one to jump in and help. That matters. Faith should be about the work, not about the wank.

    • Northern_Light_27

      I agree. They’re trolls, for crying out loud! I can’t believe all the earnestness in the replies and the people wanting to contact them and further engage, don’t people know that the thing all trolls want is more attention? Stop feeding them! Is it a dick move? Sure. Is it viscerally upsetting to see your god’s name on a grave? Yes. But this level of hand-stapled-on-forehead high drama about a college stunt makes us look silly. (Then again… there’s a thing being talked about in other online communities about the kind of dudgeon that’s on display about this and several other controversial topics, and it’s called “performance anger” or “performative rage”. Righteous indignation, especially with fans egging you on, is a high for some people, and they subconsciously look for things to get upset about so they can keep experiencing that feeling. Feeding this is as destructive as feeding trolls, and perhaps more divisive to a larger community in the long run.)

  • Indigo Glitterlust

    Signs. Poster.
    God Hates
    Fags. No big
    Deal, right?

    Small potatoes,
    Of course. Don’t
    get butthurt about
    Westboro.

    After all, there are
    worse things out there.

    Same thing.

    • http://stephyjh.wordpress.com/ Stephy

      There’s a big difference between sticking some pictures up on campus and making the worst day of someone’s life, when they’re having to bury a beloved family member, even worse. All I’m asking is for people to have a little perspective and a little common sense and stop sounding so much like the people to whom they’re objecting.

  • Raksha38

    I just bought 2 books from Bibliotheca Alexandrina! I only regret I couldn’t buy more. I love short stories and devotionals, so I basically want their entire catalog.

    • Lyradora

      And — sorry — the catalog is just going to get longer and longer …. :) Devotional anthologies for the Muses, Bast, Sekhmet, Apollo, Ares and Poseidon, to name just a few, are in the works. And we have plans for more genre fiction anthologies, including mystery, horror, and fairy tale collections. :)

      • Raksha38

        There should be a word for the emotion that is equal parts despair and joy! I can see in my mind’s eye my To Read pile getting larger and larger and I’m clapping my hands while weeping for my wallet.

        • http://saffronrose.livejournal.com/ A. Marina Fournier

          That’s TBR Mountain, thank you!

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Regarding the ‘dead gods’ stunt.

    It’s interesting how ignorant they make themselves look, isn’t it?

    I don’t see that there is a whole lot to be said other than they are wrong. The gods are not dead, and are actually experiencing something of a revival of followers and general belief.

    • kenofken

      For the sake of perspective, we should bear in mind that the gods have pretty thick skin, and that these jokers aren’t the first ones to declare them dead. A much bigger gang of angry dudes called Christendom made that argument for 15 centuries or so, and backed it up with a very thorough campaign of religious genocide.

      They didn’t build stylized graveyards. They did the real thing, and if anyone could have killed the gods, it was them. No followers, no temples, no freedom of worship, no gods.

      The gods of course kept popping up like the air-filled oil drums the polar bears sink for fun at the zoo. The authorities would insist the old gods are dead, and then turn around and build on their temple sites, honor ALL of their holy days and commission art and architecture that was full to the brim of gods and goddesses. For dead folks they got a lot of paid gigs in Christianized Europe!

      Our angry reactions are understandable and come from a place of love for our deities, but let’s not give ourselves an ulcer over this. The gods certainly won’t! It’s probably the first good belly laugh some of them have had in a while!

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        I’m not angry. I’m merely pointing out that the stunt makes the atheists responsible seem ignorant.

  • Kathy

    Concerning the Gods Graveyard, the simple fact of the matter is that no matter how offensive it is, this is an expression of their right to free speech. As long as they had permission to erect the graveyard by the owners of the land (in this case I believe it was the school) then they have not broken any laws.
    It is, however, disturbing that these individuals who are supposedly seeking a higher education are so openly and gleefully ignorant. Is this how we raise our kids to act today? If I was going to pull a public stunt like this, it would at the very least be nearly unassailable (historically and logically). It appears that these kids decided that they needed to do only the most minimal level of fact finding, they supposedly couldn’t even get some of the names right, to consider this project ready for the implementation stage.
    It also appears that their ability to empathize and relate to others not of their own tiny social group (and possibly within their own social group) is incredibly stunted. How none of them seem to either understand ‘why’ they have real life living worshipers of the supposedly ‘dead’ deities in an uproar is beyond belief. As is their gleeful exclamations that they have successfully ‘pissed off’ these non existent, real life believers. All of whom were supposedly in no way the original targets of this. I’ve worked with 4 year olds who have a better understanding of social interactions and relationships than these youths currently display.
    All we can do right now is try to educate them in a way that gets through their willful ignorance and hope we limit the possibility of such a stunt being pulled in the future.

  • http://twitter.com/aldrin_ft Aldrin

    Thanks for covering on the relief crisis in the Philippines! We’re very grateful for all the aid that’s poured in from all over the globe.

    And I had no idea there was a Pagan Federation International Philippines. My world gets smaller and smaller.

  • Beth

    The thing that infuriates me about the “god graveyard,” which I am just now hearing about, is not that it tweaks my neopagan sensibilities. My gods have been called dead before and will be called dead again, but that will not make them so. What the atheist group appears not to have considered is that many of the gods listed have many active, devoted worshipers in indigenous, non-Western traditions far removed from the developed world and the neopagan movement. Which makes this display fairly racist as well as ignorant.