Pagan Community Notes: Pagan Tea Time, Cherry Hill Seminary, Handfastings in PA, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  February 4, 2014 — 30 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!

cup-bearer-tea-time-300x215The Pagan Tea Time initiative spearheaded by Patheos Pagan channel editor Christine Kraemer, meant to encourage face-to-face discussions in a Pagan & polytheist blogosphere that has, at times, grown decidedly combative, is now well under way. According to Kraemer, there have already been some remarkable conversations taking place. Quote: “So far, I’ve seen some great reports of Tea Times involving Rhyd WildermuthConor O’Bryan Warren, and a three-way chat between John Halstead, Sannion, and Galina Krasskova (wow!). I haven’t had any tea times with people I haven’t already met yet — one of the blessings of being managing editor here is that getting together with writers via video chat happens semi-routinely, as does attending conferences, so I’ve met many of you already. (Yay!) I did get to do a nice catch-up with Niki Whiting, though, and I have a few more dates set for next month.” The project runs through the month of February, when established Pagan conventions like PantheaCon and ConVocation take place, providing more chances for interaction. Here’s to civility!

amaundex3Pagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary has announced that Lauren Raine will be their artist-in-residence for 2014-2016. CHS President Jeffrey Albaugh, in a public statement, said “it is my pleasure to announce our new Artist in Residence, Lauren Raine. Lauren is a visionary painter, mixed media sculptor, and choreographer, although I know her best from her beautiful and moving theatrical and ritual masks.” Raine, a painter and mixed-media sculpter, is perhaps best known within the Pagan community for her “The Masks of the Goddess” series. Quote: “I’ve always been fascinated with masks as sacred tools – as what Carl Jung called ‘vessels for the archetypal powers’. In 1998 I began a collection of masks of Goddesses from spiritual traditions around the world, first worn at the 20th Annual SPIRAL DANCE in San Francisco.” For the terms of the residency, you can read them at the CHS website.

shawnus2In Pennsylvania, a local coven documents their struggle to attain the right to perform legally binding wedding ceremonies. Quote: “So i started at my County level and had voice and email exchanges for three days with a very nice, helpful and informative lady there in the right department. There is a notice posted on the Courthouse door, and i tried to paste it in here and then save this draft and WV completely wiped my post off their server. So i will just say it said, to quote, that legal marriages could be performed by Justices of the Peace or Judges or Ministers “of a regularly established church or congregation” which means from those three Religions of the Book. There is a license for Amish, Mennonites and Quakers, but i am not one of them. I am a Witch and we Do have Our Religion!” The Wiccan Priest struggling through this process is Shawnus Merlin Belarion, and he is seeking assistance from outside Pagan organizations in navigating this issue. You can find contact information here.

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • Sannion has announced that a proposed Polytheist Leadership Conference will indeed take place this Summer. Quote: “The Polytheist Leadership Conference will take place Friday, July 11th through Sunday, July 13th – though we’ve made arrangements so that you can get the block room rate if you want to come in earlier on Thursday.” Please note: “This conference will be open only to people who affirm the autonomy and diversity of the divinities, people who recognize that there are differing types of divine beings (such as Gods, Spirits and Ancestors) and that they all require different forms of cultus, people who are actively engaged in cultus, people who have respect for traditional ways and yet remain open to innovation when it’s called for and people who do not find magic (when properly distinguished from religion), mysticism and direct engagement with the holy powers to be problematic. Racists, sexists and queer- and transphobic need not apply either.”  All inquiries should be sent to

  • Pagan band Tuatha Dea is crowdfunding a new collection of songs based on the work of author Alex Bledsoe. Quote: “We were INSPIRED and though we had no intention of working on a new CD this soon we simply couldn’t help ourselves! So with Alex’s blessing we began writing music based on his amazing trilogy! One song for each novel, “The Hum and the Shiver”, “Wisp of a Thing” and the anticipated yet to be released “Long Black Curl” (yes we have the skinny but you’ll have to wait and read!) The project..An album called “Tufa Tales- Appalachian Fae”.a musical tribute, backdrop and celebration of these wonderful works and the world within their pages! But that won’t be all…as Tufa’s ourselves we have some other personal bits and pieces to add to the CD!”
  • The current issue of Sage Woman Magazine (#85) has been mailed to subscribers and is available to order online. Quote: “Celebrate the amazing world of women’s herbalism with this special issue. Stories of healers, visionaries, and pioneers fill us with inspiration. Discover new goddesses, old remedies, and learn how close our own healing powers are in our homes and the natural world all around us.”
  • The Imbolc edition of AREN’s ACTION newsletter is now out, featuring its usual treasure-trove of interviews. This time: Oberon Zell, Ellen Evert Hopman, PC Andrew of the UK Pagan Police Association, and much more!
  • Medusa Coils has information on the 2014 Glastonbury Goddess Conference. Quote: “The 19th annual Glastonbury Goddess Conference will begin July 29 and run through August 3, with fringe events beginning July 26, Kathy Jones, conference organizer, announced. The theme of this year’s conference is “Celebrating the Crone Goddess: The Cauldron & the Loom.” The conference is held in Glastonbury, England, aka Avalon, also the location of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple.”
  • Paganicon in Minnesota (held in March) has announced two new featured guests: Taylor Ellwood and Steven Posch. Quote: “We are increasingly excited about this year’s ever-expanding line-up including Oberon Zell, Deborah Lipp, Ivo Dominguez, Jr., and now Taylor Ellwood and Steven Posch. We hope you sign up right away! Remember if you wait too long you’ll have to pay extra, so get the good rate while you can!”

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

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • thehouseofvines

    Thanks for mentioning the conference Jason – you rock!

  • RevEllen

    In regards to the coven in PA. First, don’t go by the ULC’s website. Do your own research of the applicable statutes, chapter and verse! Then you are armed with specifics if you are denied equal rights. What are the exact statutes that regulate ministers. Do they specifically say Christian, Jewish and Muslim? Or is the wording a “regular congregation”? If your coven meets for Sabbats on a regular basis (regular for Pagans & Wiccans), then you qualify. Go apply! If you are denied then you go to the ACLU. I’m sure they don’t want to take your case until you’ve tried and been denied. And go into the clerks office armed with a copy of the statutes. And above all document everything step by step. Who did you talk to, when, where. If there is a denied application, make them put the denial in writing. This is called building your case. A state cannot go against the US Constitution. A state can only have the power to do anything that the US Constitution doesn’t cover. PA cannot deny equal treatment under the law. So the wording is imperative. Do not go by the clerk saying that is the regulation. Ask by what statute is this covered? Regulations are only statutes in application. They are often missinterpreted. I have been involved in different situations that I have employed these principles and they work!

  • TadhgMor

    I really wish people would stop taking the term “tuath” and applying it to whatever group they conceive. That’s not a tuath.

    I mean, I want to like them, they’re from East Tennessee, but all I see is a bunch of garbled New Age nonsense while they use Irish terms and claim to be “Celtic”. They are far from the only ones.


    • Merlyn7


      • TadhgMor

        Yes I’m aware. That’s what I’m upset. That’s an extremely shallow explanation that ignores the most important definition of a tuath in Irish society and bothers me to no end since basically their “Celticness” seems to be limited to some New Age imagery using knot patterns.

        • Merlyn7

          Give a listen to their song Tuatha de Danaan. No references are made to New Age philosophies or spiral knot patterns.

          • TadhgMor

            Those are more than present enough in that video and their promo materials. Also…whats with the pirate clothing?

            You’re not addressing my issue with it. You just seem to be telling me to listen to their songs, which I have little interest in doing, considering I find their appropriation of Irish terms, wrongly, to be bothersome.

          • Merlyn7

            Your issue seems to be that you don’t thinking they know what a Tuath is and that you don’t like their clothing. Which is shallow if we’re keeping score.

            They start the song I mentioned with the story of the coming of the children of Danu.

          • TadhgMor

            They don’t know what a tuath is. That is objectively clear based on their usage of the word and wholly inappropriate designation of it to themselves.

          • Tauri1

            Oh? And what “community” is that??? Care to give specifics?

          • TadhgMor

            The sort of New Age/hippy community thats popped in a couple of Appalachian tourist cities. You see it a good bit in Asheville too. Most of them are nice, care about the environment, but have some weird pseudo-science beliefs and have a nasty habit of appropriating from Native peoples out of ignorance.

          • Franklin_Evans

            Putting words to my up-votes of TadhgMor’s posts on this tangent: Those who do the work, the on-the-ground tedious paring away of centuries of Christian “scholarship”, damn well get to offer criticism of those who take syncretism for granted.
            That the criticism’s tone is often irate simply offers those being criticized an “out”, though in this case I found the tone balanced. In the meantime, I fall back on a personal ethical requirement: If I’m being respectful, it must include respect for those who question my practice and my assumptions. I can concede, in the abstract, that none of us “own” anything, but we deserve at least a minimal respect for our personal investment into it. In that light, the New Age/hippy disparagement fits on both feet. Wear them with pride if you must, but don’t expect a bed of grass when they tread on others.

          • Merlyn7

            They can certainly offer criticism and in whichever tone they prefer. Similarly those who do take umbrage at the way some people seem to think they do “own” the exclusive rights to a particular kind of worship can offer their own criticism.

            The notion that people in unusual clothing, whose approach to their spirituality seems to make them “hippies,” don’t have the right to identify with the Tuatha de Danaan is snobbish elitism and completely unworthy. But then that’s only my criticism.

          • TadhgMor

            A tuath is a political unit. The Tuatha de Danaan cannot be understood outside of the meaning as a political unit. They have used the word in a very incorrect way. Further, they are not a tuath because A. they have no leadership structure B. they do not fill the “offices” of a tuath and C. they do not trace from some sort of common descent and are not based on a geographical unit D. they are not even CLOSE to numerous enough. A tuath is a geographic socio-political unit.

            Your criticism misses the mark by a significant factor. My point is they are falsely representing Irish culture.

          • AmethystO

            They don’t claim that their identity is only Irish. From their website:

            “Tuatha Dea is pure primal energy with a Celtic twist. The bands eclectic
            sound blends the tribal vibe of primitive drums with conventional and
            non conventional instruments such as guitar, bass, modern and Native
            American flutes as well as a myriad of vocal styles to create a truly
            unique sound.”


            “From the beginning the band has embraced its Celtic heritage and meshed
            the traditional music of Scotland, Ireland and Great Britain with the
            pulse-pounding heartbeat of the drums to produce unique versions of old

          • TadhgMor

            There is nothing “Celtic” about that. It is an entirely New Age Romanticist construction. Anyone that uses “tribal vibe” in a description should be a dead give away. They are NOT Celtic.

            I absolutely reject the appropriation of FAKE Celtic culture by a bunch of New Age hippies. It is harmful and damaging to the living culture. Further, having listened to a few songs, they are distinctly a hippy band, well within that area sonically, and I’ve seen one instance of a “traditional” song. They aren’t even traditional Appalachian let alone traditional “Celtic”.

            The fact that so many people would defend such clearly shallow and incorrect appropriation is disheartening.

            If you want trad music try some sean-nos.

          • Franklin_Evans

            I’m a great fan of eclectic roots and folk-fusion music. One of my favorites is Scottish singer-songwriter Talitha McKenzie, who explored ancient connections with the Balkans. The Celts (keltoi) were there for quite some time, and a discerning ear can find very close similarities in forms and melodic constructions.

            But, that doesn’t give her license to consider herself a Serb or Bulgarian.

            One can celebrate these things without claiming them. I don’t agree, mostly, with TadhgMor’s complaints about appropriation, but I maintain a very strong sympathy with the principles behind them.

  • Ursyl

    We Pagans do indeed have our own religion(s), but the courthouse where we got our Quaker license for marriage when we changed over from Common Law 11 years ago certainly did not ask to see proof of our being Quaker or attending at any particular meetinghouse. All a Quaker license means is that you don’t have to have one of those specified “ministers.” Witnesses, no qualifications asked for on the license, sign the license and you send in correct half of the form as per the instructions. They don’t even want to see the part you keep, which on ours is covered by names of family and friends in addition to the official witnesses.

    Go for it in forcing the state to recognize that “regularly established….congregation” doesn’t have to mean weekly meetings/services or being Abrahamic (though as far as I know, Hindu clergy are recognized), but don’t deny couples in the meantime. Go Quaker and have whatever sort of ceremony is wanted.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Wiccan Priest […] Shawnus Merlin Belarion […] is seeking assistance from outside Pagan organizations in navigating this issue.Belarion should contact Lady Liberty League c/o Circle Sanctuary and follow their advice. They have a track record.

      • Lee Shawnus

        Another witch has just suggested the same thing, have their web site up now and will ask Selena’s people how to proceed. TY n BB

    • Lee Shawnus

      Thanks for the advice. But i don’t want to “go Quaker”. I want to “go Witch” Go witch go, like a cheerleader chant for a quash team using witches brooms, lol. I am getting more info and it seems it may Not be a state problem but this particular county’s commissioners voted to define who can marry or not as in other counties in the state witches Have found a way around it. If you go back to my blog post and check the comments and the addendums i added you can see i am getting some good advice. We just have to get incorporated and non profit tax exempt status and that is hard to do when all i have is my name signed in my BOS under my initiators name with no documents like i hand out nowadays. BB

  • ChristopherBlackwell

    Thanks Jason, I appreciate the mention of ACTION.

    I respect your work very much and The Wild Hunt is one place I always recommend for that reason.

  • Laurie Froberg

    Thanks for the mention on Paganicon! We are very excited about the event!

  • Lee Shawnus

    Thanks for posting that Jason! Instead of linking to my About page people should go to the actual post which is BB. Lee / Shawnus

  • Lee Shawnus

    Rev Ellen – yes i am going to unfortunately have to call the Legislature to get the link for chapter 5 section 1503. If you or anyone else wants to see the courthouse posting email my public addy at BB Lee / Shawnus

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  • Lee Shawnus

    Duh, the top link does go to the right page. I should have known Jason would have it right, duh, lol. Lee Shawnus

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