Pagan Community Notes: Hexenfest, Heathens on Racism, The Frosts Respond, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 8, 2014 — 119 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!

hexenfestHexenfest, a “festival of magick, music, and dance” is coming up on April 26th in Oakland, California. Featured musical performers include Ego Likeness, Pandemonaeon, Tempest and Nathaniel Johnstone, and Unwoman. The event will also feature dance performances from Anaar and Morpheus Ravenna, with DJing by Daniel Skellington. The event, now in its 3rd year, hopes to “create a San Francisco Bay Area festival that caters to the mythic imagination in a way that appeals to adults. Sensual and fierce, and willing to explore darker themes, Hexenfest seeks to awaken inner archetypes in all their aspects. To our knowledge, this is the first festival devoted specifically to the arts in the Neopagan revival. We believe that a culture’s art is both shaped by, and a shaper of, the identity of its people. As such, the inclusion of the arts in the Neopagan sphere is very important. As our young movement both rebuilds ancestral traditions and grapples with a modern identity, the arts will be essential to the legacy of our spiritual community.” Were I in the Bay Area of California I would surely be there. You can buy tickets to Hexenfest online.

Alyxander Folmer

Alyxander Folmer

Last week two different essays, from two different Heathens, tackled the issue of race, and racism, within modern Heathenry. First was from Alyxander Folmer, an anthropology student who wrote a piece for entitled “Drawing The Line – Heathens Against White Supremacists.” Quote: “Like it or not, there is a small segment of the modern Heathen community that not only buys into this kind of blatant racism, but co-opts our faith and uses our religion as an excuse to do so without having to admit that they ARE racist. These people twist the idea of ancestor veneration and cultural pride as a way to justify and mask their hate, as if using religious reasoning for their behavior somehow exempts them from the consequences of their actions. I refuse to allow them to abuse and dishonor our faith, our community, and our gods. We have the power to speak up and strip away that religious mask they wear. We CAN expose these people for what they are and show the world that they do NOT represent us.” Then, on Tumblr, the writer known as ‘Grumpy Lokean Elder’ posted a much-shared essay critiquing “Folkish” Heathenry. Quote: “You can be a very intelligent person, you can have the best intentions and not want to be racist at all, and when you’re starting out in Heathenry, Folkish recruiting can still hook you and reel you in.” Both of these essays come in the wake of talk at PantheaCon (featured in the most recent Elemental Castings podcast) that focused on racialist/white supremacist Paganisms. Is this all coincidence, synchronicity, or is the Heathen community gearing up for a new conversation on these issues?

FPGIn an update to Sunday’s story on controversy at Florida Pagan Gathering, Gavin and Yvonne Frost, the authors of “The Witch’s Bible” (reprinted  later as “The Good Witch’s Bible”) have posted a long response at their blog defending themselves. Quote: “If your group practices the Great Rite, then surely it is better to state that fact plainly than to hide behind euphemisms and try to blame others for things that those others have not done. And, surely, you do not have active members in your group under the age of 18. Living in the Craft means that you work daily to realize how sick and twisted are the ‘norms’ of the culture in which you find yourself.” It should be noted for clarity that the “Pagans For Change” group, in their public statements, never accused the Frosts of sexual impropriety, or illegal actions, only that they objected to their content on sexual initiations and didn’t wish for them to teach at FPG. Meanwhile, in the wake of the renewed debates and controversy over this issue, the Frosts have decided to not attend the upcoming Michigan Pagan Fest. What the long-term ramifications are of this decades-long issue within the Pagan community resurfacing once again remains to be seen.

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • PMPChannel and Green Egg/Five Rivers hosted a conversation on Friday with Jo Pax and Tzipora Katz. Quote: “Ariel Monserrat and Michael Gorman, the hosts of Green Egg/FiveRivers, have Jo Pax and Tzipora Katz join them on the air. Jo is the biological son of Kenny Klein and Tzipora is his ex-wife. The topic is a tense and emotional one, they will be talking openly and honestly about their experiences as Kenny Klein’s son and ex-wife.”
  • A new service, Pagan Broadcasting International, is starting to emerge. Quote: “While we’ve got a basic station begining to function, to turn this into a world-class Internet station will still take a bit of work – and a bit of money. So later this week, we’ll start a campaign to help fund the equipment  and software that it will take to make this happen. I haven’t decided exactly what form that campaign will take, but check back here for details!” Interested in helping out? They have a Facebook group.
  • Damh the Bard has a new songbook coming out on April 17th, “The Four Cornered Castle,” now available for pre-order. Quote: “This chord book contains the chords from my last three studio albums, The Cauldron Born, Tales from the Crow Man and Antlered Crown and Standing Stone. As with Songbook 1 there is no musical notation in the book – I don’t read music myself – but the chord shapes and locations within the lyrics will show you more about my writing process, and how to play the songs as I do. As with my last songbook, I hope you enjoy singing these songs around your camp fires, in your covens and groves, or simply on your own or with friends. Get strumming!”


  • European Pagan-folk band Omnia’s new album “Earth Warrior” is out now and available for order from their website.  Quote: “OMNIA’s 14th independant production is a studio concept-album all about the Living Earth and the fight against her destruction by humanity containing 14 OMNIA compostitions written in varying acoustic-musick styles, from classical, country, bluesgrass, hard rock, jazz, native american,celtic-folk, Balkan all the way to OMNIA’s original PaganFolk.” For those of us in the United States, Omnia will be playing at Faerieworlds this Summer, and FaerieCon in November.
  • Star Foster has issued a call for participants in a book on doubt, belief, and spiritual struggle in polytheism. Quote: “I am writing this book because I think it will help people. If you have experienced a spiritual struggle, then I hope you will share your story to give others comfort and hope. I will be collecting stories until June 1, 2014.”
  • Happy 20th anniversary to Murphy’s Magic Mess on KZUM in Lincoln, Nebraska. Quote: “Thank you for all the well wishes as The Mess reaches 20 years on air. loved the ‘bumps’ musicians sent [and it] was a very fun show. We started with Buffy Sainte Marie’s “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot’ because that is the music with which I began my very first show. My how time flies. It doesn’t seem like 20 years.”
  • A few weeks back, I mentioned that The Temple of Witchcraft in Salem, New Hampshire would be holding a Spring Open House on April 6th. Now, you can see the pictures!

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

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Jen

    It seems that the FL pagan community is beginning to work to move beyond this and begin a positive movement forward to reconciliation. Most of the lingering negative conversation seems to be coming from people outside Florida.

    • Me

      What steps are being taken within the BoD to deal with community response when issues like this arise again and dealing with sexual predators within the community itself?

      • Jen

        We already have a policy in place regarding sexual predators as well as sexual harassment and misconduct. We’ve been blessed that issues of that nature have been rare at our events and we do address those issues in the guidelines that our guests and staff get. Its also discussed during our opening ritual. We have a meeting coming up after this FPG where we will have those kinds of issues on the table for discussion.

      • kenofken

        If organizational psychology, the board’s actions and tenor are any guide, the “steps to be taken” will involve circling the wagons tighter, feeding the “us vs the outside world” mentality, attempts to discredit critics, a deep sense of grievance and less transparency than before. These are the instincts of organizations in reacting to such and event, but they are disastrously ineffective and toxic.

        If the board’s general consensus is that this whole controversy had no credence and was contrived and political, and a “moral panic” and the work of outside agitators who had no business sticking their nose in, then I can guarantee they haven’t learned a damn thing and will repeat all of the same mistakes in future crises of any kind. Policies and rules are great, but they are utterly useless unless they grow out of an organizational culture which embraces transparency, accountability and open communication.

        Leadership within such a culture must also work to truly understand the thinking of their constituency and have an appreciation for how their decisions impact beyond their own organization. If they are to be effective moving forward, the board of this festival must, if only in hindsight, must come to a genuine understanding and acknowledgment of why this decision was a poor one and why it was utterly unacceptable to so many people within and without the festival community.

        If they can do this, the rest of us must work to get past the acrimony and to help them, and all pagan leadership to make the best decisions going forward. Going into this, the FPG board didn’t have the benefit of knowing where the wider community stood on this issue. We had not spoken loudly and clearly and in numbers. Now we have, and we must continue to have the conversation and to parlay our outrage into positive action.

    • Kathy

      I’m not sure that’s accurate. I think any quiet you are sensing is people waiting to see how the TEG board responds to the opportunity to listen to concerns and begin a conversation about developing a community that identifies and upholds standards of healthy attitudes and behaviors. This wasn’t at all about the Frosts. It was about what we value, the messages we want to send about who we allow a voice, how we listen to victims, and all the other conversations we need to have about representing the best of the modern Pagan movement. Healing won’t begin to happen without change.

  • Me

    Run, don’t walk to get your tickets to the greatest pagan event EVER!
    You get the Frosts *and* Kevin Klein, all in one place! Where else are you going to get that level of value for your money?
    July 20Kenny Klein and FishBird
    Celtic Rock, traditional Blues, and New Orleans style musical jams. Procession to the bonfire

    • Something tells me that KK is going to be too busy to attend.

      • Jen

        Agreed. They probably just havent removed him from their schedule.

    • Good thing I wasn’t drinking my tea when i read that. 😀 LOL

    • MJ

      Kenny will not be at Brushwood! Brushwood is a wonderful site and, yes as a matter of fact it IS the GREATEST pagan event ever!

    • MJ

      Oh and if you spend a second to read, you would note that THAT is last years schedule 2013. It says so at the top of the page AND July 20th is a Sunday this year.

      • Me

        Are we looking at two different pages? What I see on the top of the page is
        July 14 to July 20, 2014
        Apparently though, both the 20th AND the 21st are Saturday! (or were last year)

        July 20Kenny Klein and FishBird
        Celtic Rock, traditional Blues, and New Orleans style musical jams. Procession to the bonfireSaturday
        July 21Saturday Celebration!
        Drum and dance all night around the Sirius Rising Bonfire.

      • Me

        Seriously though – glad to hear that the site just hasn’t been updated!

  • AQ

    Oh, so now we Heathens are worthy of being called “pagan”? Got it.

    • Some Heathens are happy to be a part of a larger “Pagan Community” and some aren’t. Like all things involving small decentralized faiths, it isn’t a monolith.

      • maple

        Could I ask a stupid question here? I’ve been reading this blog for a few weeks and have noticed that some people don’t like the term “pagan.” What is it about that term that doesn’t fit or make sense for them? I’m not objecting to that at all, just wondering.

        • You’re going to have to ask each person to get their own answers, but in my experiences, there are two primary reasons that a lot of would-be pagans make efforts to distance themselves from the term:

          1 – Distaste, dislike, or distrust of the majority contingent of the “pagan community”. A lot of people find the average pagan to be too tolerant, too “hippyish”, too wishy-washy in defining their actual beliefs and practises, and so on to find them acceptable company. Others just don’t get on with most pagans and feel they, and especially their religion(s), have little, if anything, in common with what passes for “paganism”, these days.

          2 – Etymology and negative definition. It’s really no secret that the work “pagan”, or rather its Latin root, “paganus” really took off as a Christian slur, and prior to that was essentially the Roman equivalent of “ignorant hillbilly”. Furthermore, all useful definitions of “pagan” for the last 1500 years have been basically negative definitions — defining a person (or religion) by what it is not; the top definition in an overwhelming majority of English dictionaries simply states that a “pagan” is “not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew [Abrahamist]”. Every attempt in more-recent years to define what “paganism” actually is tends to be met with a lot of heated opposition, even on the most inconsequential blogs (and even a comment I left on another’s blog, suggesting that to be “pagan” carried certain countercultural connotations and was to be “religiously othered” in a similar manner to “queer” having countercultural connotations and implied one was “sexually othered”, even amongst other gays, lesbians, and bisexuals got a slurry of angered responses from the blogger and several of his other readers). If you cannot define it, then what’s the point of identifying with the word? Or so goes the logic.

          Hope this helps.

        • Sunna Dottir

          It’s like this: both Catholics and Protestants are Christian. And within the Protestant faith there are Unitarians as well as Calvinists. One wouldn’t confuse a Catholic for a Protestant; or Calvinist with a Unitarian. Similarly while “Pagan” is an umbrella term for all religions not Jewish, Muslim or Christian, Heathens distinguish themselves from Norse Pagans in that they “Generally”: 1) See the human soul and the world as having many parts; 2) Have a body of historical knowledge drawn from the Eddas in which to “reinvent” modern practice; 3) See their Gods as having human characteristics that love them and that they love; 4) Worship their Gods, ancestors and the land spirits regularly; 5) Construct their magickal space differently (if they practice magick at all); 6) Are rugged individualists where no man or woman is their Lord / Lady, Master / Mistress. 7) Make the ritual drink that they sacrifice as part of their Blots. Also, many Heathens will be quick to tell you that they stay away from the “Asatru” moniker purposely and have a “Heathens Against Hate” banner on their web sites, camp sites and events to ensure that there is no confusion as to where they stand on the “Folkish” issue.

          • gary p golden jr

            what on earth is this nonsense?

          • Ember

            Hm, I think you’re overstating the beliefs Heathens in general have in common, honestly. Heathenism is, broadly, a collection of different forms of Germanic and/or Scandinavian Reconstructionism. Most base our work on the Eddas and Sagas, yes. Polytheism is something many Reconstructionists have in common, Germanic or otherwise. So is not being Wiccan. Blots are basically a variation on Libations which isn’t that different from how Wiccans handle Cakes and Ale, or really even from how Christians handle the Eucharist.

            Most importantly, though, I don’t think belief in Soul Parts is a major common denominator amongst Heathens, and I think the “rugged individualism” is more of a stereotype that does us a disservice than it is an identifier.

            The folks I know who avoid the term “Asatru” aren’t doing it because Asatru has connotations of racism – that’s more usually avoidance of the term “Odinism”. It’s just that Asatru is a specific, if very common American denomination of Heathenry (not to be confused with Icelandic Ásatrú) that doesn’t accurately describe them – or should I say us, since I’m Vanatru, and thus a different denomination of Heathen. 😉


        • “What is it about that term .,,,,”

          It’s really quite simple. People create a problem in their minds, and then they project that problem onto a word. And then they derive some sort of weird sense of satisfaction from that. Whatever.

          It is very common in the English language to find that there are two words that both refer to the same thing, with one of them being latinate in origin, and other being germanic. In pre-conquest Old English, people who stubbornly resisted the new religion of Christianity were referred to as Heathens (and, in fact, this was specifically applied to people who were also identified by the term “wicce”). But then after the Norman Conquest a lot of Romantic linguistic elements were introduced into the English language, including the Latin word “Pagan”, which is semantically equivalent to the germanic “Heathen”. Both terms are still prevalent in the vernacular, but some people have decided to artificially impose their own idiosyncratic definitions onto the words, even though the actual meaning of both words is the same: those who reject Christianity in favor of the old ways and the old Gods.

          • gary p golden jr

            In regards to the use of the term heathen, first article.


          • You have a very wild and active imagination, Curt.

          • …the actual meaning of both words is the same: those who reject Christianity in favor of the old ways and the old Gods

            Seriously, hon, this isn’t the first time you’ve made this claim. Cite your sources on this, or knock it off, cos you’re basically saying every dictionary in print is wrong, and every historical instance that has applied the term to Muslims, atheists, Catholics, (and not to mention pre-Christian instances of “paganus” –a pejorative slur originally devoid of any religious connotations) and all sorts of others who don’t “reject Christianity in favour of the old ways and old Gods” never actually happened. You’re clearly applying your own Romantic nuance and implication, which are altogether new to the word “pagan” and its etymology.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          My dislike for the term is pretty basic – it lacks concise definition.

          • AQ

            Which is why you get to tell everyone who is and isn’t a “real pagan”, right?

          • Franklin_Evans

            Do you have a point, or are you just getting your minimum daily dose of sarcasm?

          • AQ

            I very much have a point–either Heathens are pagan (whether some like it or not), and we therefore fall under the site’s purview, or we’re not and therefore we shouldn’t be written about here.

            It’s an either/or.

          • Franklin_Evans

            Thanks for the reply. My POV is that Jason has a journalistic dilemma, illustrated by his masthead. He makes editorial choices and decisions based on his professional perspective — and any personal aspect of that is his to share or not share here, as he chooses — and your (or anyone’s) objections might respectfully acknowledge that.

            It’s not either/or, it’s what the Hel should I do with this? That’s how I see his situation, and personally I find his choices to be overall excellent.

            Don’t get me wrong, I get hung up on labels as much as the next never-in-the-mainstream person, but using that as a verbal bludgeon never sits right with me.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            This site covers Christian news and secular events too. A subject does not have to be Pagan to be of interest to Pagans.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            No. I merely do not see how certain religions should be included under its ‘umbrella’.

        • kenofken

          Not a stupid question. It’s actually one of the central debates of our time within the movement, or collection of movements, which are thought of as “pagan.”

          Basically, we’ve all gotten too diverse to all want to identify under an umbrella term which has always been very vague and nebulous. “We” (whoever that is in any given debate), don’t want to be identified with “them” if their theology or praxis is alien or offensive to us, or if “pagan” has devolved to be totally devoid of any substantial belief at all.

      • AQ

        Right, that’s why we Heathens were totally asked to be a part of the animal sacrifice discussion.

        • Alyxander M Folmer

          It’s not like the list was exactly comprehensive. Lots of traditions didn’t have a speaker in that specific article. He picked five authors and asked for their perspectives, nothing wrong with that.

          • gary p golden jr

            Ok, you say what you say above but you also say this:

            “YES. I could not agree more! I see so many of my fellow Heathens
            complaining about not being included at Pagan events, but then refusing
            to try and include themselves at those same events. If you want to see
            more Heathen voices then BE A HEATHEN VOICE.”

            Heathens will not have a voice unless we are asked and I do not know what heathens you are referring to but I know plenty that are active at general pagan events giving presentations.

          • Alyxander M Folmer

            “Heathens will not have a voice unless we are asked”
            – We can’t just sit around and complain because we don’t get our own special little golden ticket. If you want Heathen representation at Pagan gatherings, then stand up and represent.

            “I know plenty [of Heathens] that are active at general pagan events giving presentations.”
            -Then what’s the problem? We asked for representation. There it is. That was easy…

          • Speaking for myself, I have found Jason pretty open to running stories when offered. I doubt very much a well-written follow up story, supplying the missing perspectives, would be refused even now.

            I’m not sure sarcasm and attacking TWH for not having the budget and staff to attend a greater variety of events or write from a greater variety of in-house perspectives is going to be as productive. Either change is not actually what some of the critics here are seeking, or you have a rather different perspective on that, too.

          • Northern_Light_27

            Sources do come to journalists, but journalists who rely on sources to come to them and don’t seek out the sources are poor journalists. You don’t need “budget and staff” to build your virtual rolodex. ATRs come up a lot. Heathens come up often enough. Racism in Heathenism *is* discussed, often and thoroughly, and WH staff would know that if their source base were deeper than PCon and Patheos. If you’re billing yourself as a prominent Pagan journalist and you don’t know ATR practitioners who sacrifice (or who don’t run an entirely different religion while billing themselves as credentialed ATR practitioners), you don’t know Heathens beyond the Troth and people who blog at Patheos, you can’t come up with a source whose answer isn’t “we don’t do that” or “it isn’t needed much in modern times”, I have to question why the heck not. If this is your beat, it’s your *job* to get to know a diverse range of people who can give you quotes. I can’t even imagine someone who isn’t part of “movement journalism” behaving this way– actually, no, I can, and it’s why Beltway reporting is so incestuous and detached.

            We’ve got a little sarcasm-off in the comments above, between JPW and Brian Smith, and the thing that bugs about that is that one of them is a professional journalist and one of them is a well-credentialed Theodish Heathen and we could have had a view into a religion that most Neo-Pagans have never seen (me included) if the pro had had the sense to put “not writing off a potentially good source” over righteous snark. My perspective on change is that WH either commit to representing the spectrum of Paganism and actually do it, or stop trying and stick to Wicca and the con-and-blogosphere Neo-Pagan scene where it does well. IMO this is bush-league stuff from people who should know better.

          • I think perhaps you underestimate the time and energy it takes to build a set of contacts.

            As to the loss to the Pagan/Heathen community in not giving Brian Smith’s ideas greater play, I’m afraid I’m not very convinced his would be a valuable voice. The only writing sample of Mr. Smith’s I’ve seen is right here. And it is not a recommendation to my reader’s eye.

      • “Some Heathens are happy to be a part of a larger ‘Pagan Community’ …..”

        And I would suggest that people who identify as “Pagan” also consider thinking of themselves as “Heathen”, since the two words have historically been interchangeable in English.

        As a matter of historical interest, the first recorded case of a person being referred to as “Heathen” was in the Gothic Bible, where it was used to translate “Hellene” into the Gothic language. The person so referred to, by the way, was Semitic.

        • Deborah Bender

          In the early days of the neopagan revival (1950s-early 1970s), some writers made the same observation you make in your second paragraph. Many people were willing to answer to either term because “pagan” and “heathen” were seen as two words with the same meaning but different associations. I would count myself as one of those people.

          Some Christians still use the two terms interchangeably to label any person whom they regard as irreligious.

          Within the pagan community, the term Heathen has since narrowed down to mean a follower of a religion of Germanic or Norse origin, as one of the other commenters said. I wouldn’t take offense at being called a heathen, but I don’t apply the term to myself because it would mislead people about my religious practices. I wouldn’t apply it to you for the same reason.

        • gary p golden jr

          I posted this once already, not sure who if anyone saw it but…

          first article: “Heathen: Linguistic Origins and Early Context”

    • Gareth Thomas

      In my experience, it is usually members of the heathen community who object to being called part of the neopagan community.

      • maple

        Thanks to everyone to replied to my question. At least now I feel like I’m on the same page in the discussion.

      • AQ

        You missed my point entirely.

    • Folcwald

      I would think it would be obvious. When this site is covering an issue that heathens have decades of experience in (for instance blood sacrifice) and therefore might have something interesting to say and even something that might upset some pagans, then heathens are not pagans and will not be consulted. On the other hand, if there is some Schadenfreude to be had (discussions of racism, heathens getting arrested, whatever), then heathens are interesting enough to be featured here.
      I don’t think it is really quite as bad as I am making it out to be, but it is pretty telling that this kind of thing really does seem to be the only time we can expect heathens to show up here. I tend to watch this site not so much for news that might be interesting to me but so I can be aware when someone has decided that heathen dirty laundry has to be aired here again.

      • AQ

        Oh right, I forgot. My bad.

      • The Wild Hunt covers Heathen “stuff” fairly regularly. Thor’s Hammer on military markers? Heathen census? Dan Halloran’s rise and fall? Norse Mythology Blog winning a Bloggie? Lightning Across the Plains? All have been written about here. So to say we only cover “dirty laundry” is a gross distortion.

        The sacrifice column was part two of an ongoing conversation that begun at a PCON panel, and no, there were no Heathens in that conversation, but it wasn’t some sort of intentional snub. Sadly, instead of Heathens politely emailing Rynn asking to become a part of such a discussions, folks sent insults about the panelists in that conversation instead.

        As for this, two articles got a lot of traffic, both written by Heathens, and I covered it. Period.

        I’m always open to covering more Heathen stuff, just send me a heads up.

        • Here’s the “Heathen” tag:

          Here’s the “Asatru” tag:

        • Alyxander M Folmer

          “Sadly, instead of Heathens politely emailing Rynn asking to become a
          part of such a discussions, folks sent insults about the panelists in
          that conversation instead.”

          YES. I could not agree more! I see so many of my fellow Heathens complaining about not being included at Pagan events, but then refusing to try and include themselves at those same events. If you want to see more Heathen voices then BE A HEATHEN VOICE.

          The other CONSTANT complaint that annoys the heck out of me is the: “We don’t want to be part of the Pagan Umbrella. ” promptly followed by “Why aren’t you including us in your Pagan Umbrella?”. Pick one. I don’t care which, just pick one!!

          I’ve seen plenty of Heathen content here at TWH, and I’m grateful for it. I’m also grateful for all of the other content you guys cover. It’s important to know what’s going on outside the borders of Heathenry.

        • gary p golden jr

          “Sadly, instead of Heathens politely emailing Rynn asking to become a
          part of such a discussions, folks sent insults about the panelists in
          that conversation instead.”

          Sadly, Maybe Rynn or you could have made a post asking for heathens to provide their thoughts on the matter and those who came forward could have been provided with the same questions the panel guests were and could have answered them and then submitted.

          In the future it might not be a bad idea to openly call for submissions on certain topics that you think heathens want to see.

          • Alyxander M Folmer

            This is exactly what I was talking about. This “We’re special, and we need our own special invitations to these things” attitude.
            That’s not their job. That’s OUR job. They held a discussion. No Heathens bothered to ask to join. That’s not THE PANELIST’S fault, it’s ours.

          • gary p golden jr

            Special? It is a “special” attitude to ask to be included in things we have no idea took place after the fact? Were you aware of the event where this discussion took place?

          • Alyxander M Folmer

            No, but I wasn’t going to be at Pantheacon. I had no reason to know.
            Even if I was at the convention, and this panel happened before I had a chance to hear about it and submit my thoughts, we could just as easily have contacted the speakers and asked to be included in round 2.

            There were only a handful of people involved in that discussion. A LOT of traditions within the Pagan community probably didn’t have any kind of representative there. It’s not like we were purposefully excluded.

          • gary p golden jr

            And how many of these other traditions actively participate in blood sacrifice? A subject such as this SHOULD have had a larger net cast, not to mention the points made about those commenting on it not actually participating in it.

          • For what it’s worth, you’re absolutely correct: You can’t shift the blame to those who failed to participate in an event when they didn’t even know it was going on, in the first place. Like you said, the people who organise these discussions owe it to the event itself to cast a sufficiently wide net. Considering the pretty sizeable Heathen community, online and off estimated to be about 40K in the States alone, it’s not hard to find Heathens, contact a few prominent bloggers with a form letter saying “Hey, I’m organising a panel discussion on X-topic, which may be of interest to your readers, would you mind sharing the info on how to get a hold of me?” It’s not hard to ask if there are other bloggers who might be willing to help spread the word, widen the net.

            Yes, ultimately people have to decline whether or not they want to participate, as well, but the net has to go out in the first place.

          • gary p golden jr

            “Even if I was at the convention, and this panel happened before I had a
            chance to hear about it and submit my thoughts, we could just as easily
            have contacted the speakers and asked to be included in round 2.”

            According to the program it was only one round, conducted on Saturday at 11am and TWH post from Friday states that “The following continues the conversation with part two of that interview” so it seems like they only broke the interview into two separate entries and there were not in fact two separate panels.

          • That’s not their job. That’s OUR job. They held a discussion. No Heathens bothered to ask to join. That’s not THE PANELIST’S fault, it’s ours.

            Er,… Excuse me, but your whole logic there rests on people who might want to join the panel knowing that it’s happening in the first place –and if Heathens who may have wanted to didn’t know it was even going on, how is that their fault for not volunteering? When I took part in a psoriasis study, I didn’t find out about it just randomly, or by asking if there was a psoriasis study to participate in –I found out because the doctor doing the study put up a notice at my dermatologist’s office, i.e., she made a good-faith effort to reach out to people with psoriasis who might be interested. Without that outreach, you can’t blame people for failing to participate.

            Now, maybe the people moderating the panel made the effort to reach out to Heathens in hopes of gaining some Heathen community participation –I don’t know, I’m not Heathen, myself, and I know very few Heathens and seldom talk to them– but your logic fails to account for the fact that people need to know about something before they can even decide to participate or not. I don’t think there’s some kind of Heathen central Borg brain that locks all of you guys in and simultaneously alerts you all of information like that which may be of potential Heathen community interest –there’s no such thing for Hellenists, so if there’s no participants from the Hellenismos community on discussions like that, then you know what? The people organising the discussion are just as much to blame as the potential handful of Hellenists who knew about it and didn’t spread the word to other Hellenists.

          • Northern_Light_27

            See, it’s all your fault for not going to PantheaCon. If you just went to PCon like a proper Pagan, then you’d be plugged in to everything that matters. /sarcasm, if not obvious

          • Northern_Light_27

            No, I disagree entirely. One, I’m bothered by the over-prominence of PantheaCon. The minutest fraction of Pagans are ever going to be able to go to that event, and many wouldn’t want to for reasons many and varied. I respect the level of experience and energy of PCon presenters, but I feel like the way it gets covered turns into a cliquish kind of bubble chamber where only those who go– or are connected via the blogosphere with those who go– matter. Two, if you’re writing a piece that speaks broadly to a controversial issue in Pagandom where there are wide variations in how different religions approach it, going beyond the PCon bubble and actively trying to get quotes from a truly diverse source base is just good journalistic practice. That has nothing to do with being “special”, IMO that should be SOP for every article like that. Three, getting the best sources shouldn’t even be done via a call for submissions, the journalist needs to get out of their comfort zone and should be establishing their source base in a wide variety of Pagan religions, not simply relying on the most neo-Pagan-friendly (or really, the most likely to be found at PCon) practitioner they can find.

            On the topic of animal sacrifice, who are the groups you think of first? Some ATR practitioners, some Heathens, and some people who hunt or farm. If I were writing this article, I’d want at minimum quotes from some Neo-Pagan religions who don’t do it, a quote from someone who uses their own blood in magic, a quote from an ATR practitioner with good credentials who does it regularly, a Heathen (and I’d probably look for a Theodsman), and a quote from a long-time hunter/farmer who views it as part of the way they feed their family. We could have had that article, and I think it would have had way more nuance and range, but we got another article based on PCon.

            (Discussing how news is covered, OTOH, that I do see as our job, as both the covered and the audience.)

          • Bianca Bradley

            It’s actually not a bad idea. No one is really going to know about all Pagan events(of whatever flavor or theme), if it’s thrown up hey there will be a discussion and if it pertains to you, email x person here, it might generate more diverse opinions.

            Open communication, can be good sometimes:P

        • Brian Smith

          Funny, I seem to recall politely asking for an opportunity to present a rebuttal, and was told to “leave it it in the comments section” where it might get a fraction of the views that the poorly written article received.

          • Yes, and as promised, I gave your contact information to the columnist. I also said you should leave a comment in the post itself.

            Should I also share with everyone how you described the panelists involved while politely asking for inclusion?

          • Brian Smith

            Fruitbats… yes, I believe that was the worst thing said on the discussion boards.

          • Brian Smith

            Or, was it “Any jackass with a blog and a pulse” could qualify as an expert on TWH?

            I don’t quite understand why I would need to speak with the author of a terrible article for an opportunity to present an opposing view? It’s your website, correct? You are the Editor, correct? It is within your power to provide a person an opportunity to a guest editorial, is it not?

          • Well, at the time I thought you’d be interested in talking to the columnist since it was her series of interviews. My mistake, apparently.

            Actually, Heather Greene is the new Managing Editor of The Wild Hunt. I’m still the founder, but I don’t try to second-guess my team’s decisions.

            Frankly, I wasn’t sure of giving you a platform when your first message to me intimated that you felt the panelists were, quote, “emo brats” who “cut” themselves. I don’t know what passes for polite in your neck of the woods, but that isn’t it.

          • Brian Smith

            As a point of clarification, my actual private message to you:

            “I found the blood sacrifice article today on WH … well, it was dreadful. Would you be willing to consider a rebuttal from pagans who actually perform animal sacrifice and don’t cut themselves like emo brats?”

            You inferred a connection between my statement on emo brats and your panel. Even with that, nothing I said would be construed as rude in most circles… well, maybe in passive aggresive self mutilating emo brat circles.

          • I don’t see how that clarification is much better. It still infers that the Pagans quoted in the column are cutting emo brats.

          • Brian Smith

            Actually, it implies; you infer.

            However, my responses on your forum were polite, well researched, concise, and articulate. A responsible publisher could have taken the opportunity to allow an opposing point of view like that equal coverage.

            Making private discussions public. Tsk tsk. Journalists used to have integrity.

          • I would have left that exchange private, and indeed, would have preferred that. You were the one who brought up our private exchanges as proof you were being unfairly rebuffed.


            “Funny, I seem to recall politely asking for an opportunity to present a rebuttal, and was told to “leave it it in the comments section” where it might get a fraction of the views that the poorly written article received.”

            Then, I tried to obliquely comment that I didn’t think you were being polite, to which you replied:

            “…was it “Any jackass with a blog and a pulse” could qualify as an expert on TWH?”

            At which point, I only indirectly excerpted the manner in which I thought you were not being polite. At which point you quoted your entire message to me. Which, frankly, doesn’t exonerate you of any charges of rudeness.

            My journalistic conscience is clear.

          • Brian Smith

            You stated you welcome material and disourse. I reminded you of a request made, but not the content thereof. I paraphrased your reply; you “quoted” mine. Being rude, if I can be really be accused of such isn’t an ethical issue, it’s a matter of taste and entirely subjective. Quoting a person’ private discourse, saying they called specific people things when they did not (implication perhaps), sans without their expressed consent is a violation of journalistic ethics.

            But you keep telling yourself your conscience is clear there. I stand by my words, implied as they were.That article was dreadfully written, 80% of the panel was unqualified to speak on the matter, and the Wild Hunt isn’t interested in real discourse on perspectives that run counter to its sponsors and readership.

          • You were the one who quoted your entire message. I brought up “emo brats” because I assumed that if I were not precise, you would accuse me of being false.

            Trying to split hairs over implication vs inference doesn’t magically make what you wrote a good introduction to your expertise or welcoming to those who don’t know you. Would you invite someone into your hall who opened with insulting “implications”?

            You don’t know the panel, I’m fairly certain you’ve met zero of them in person, and you’ve never (so far as I can recall) interacted with The Wild Hunt before this very moment.

            As I’ve pointed out above, I’ve covered Heathens on several occasions, much of it positively.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Leaving aside both your snarkyness, and musings if mercury retrograde is over. Would also like to point out, outside of Franklin, I bet everyone on here a time or two has acted a horses ass. So why is it important, what sarcastic comments he made?

            It might help to say, what your job is, and who is doing what. Makes communication a bit clearer.

            Personally for me, and my interest in intellectual stuff. A rebuttal piece to the pantheacon blood sacrifice thing would be a good idea. Especially incorporating people who actually have used it.

            I would also say, it might help if you qualified, what you think makes someone an expert. It would lessen the sarcastic comments of someone with a blog (blah blah blah).

            I couldn’t agree more with Northern Light in regards to his or her reply about Pantheacon


            I can assure you that the rudeness of your remark is seen well outside “self mutilating emo brat circles”. If it’s not seen that way amongst the people you spend most of your own time with, then clearly you spend a lot of time with equally rude people.

          • Franklin_Evans

            I was going to add my own direct comments, but I’ll refrain from adding my fuel to that fire and be content with agreeing to your post. 😀

            Edit: I can’t leave this without pointing out that everyone, be they registered to this website or prefering to remain anonymous, has the opportunity to publish their comments to every article here. Demands that they be elevated to the same level as the articles carry no power, any more here than anywhere else.

          • I don’t think anyone has really asked that their comments be given the same esteem as a proper article, not even this @disqus_vLh7kvkNHo:disqus guy. What I do see is a handful of Heathens expressing concern that the discussion panel that originated the blood/animal sacrifice article did not make sufficient good faith effort to be inclusive of the Heathen community’s perspectives –and then this Brian Smith, who seems to be saying that he knew about it the whole time, expected to be given a slot on the panel no matter what, and then because he wasn’t given what he wanted, failed to spread the word to other Heathens that the discussion was even going to happen (unless I’ve completely misread him).

          • Smith reached out after the second sacrifice piece was published. He asked to add his voice. I forwarded his request to Rynn. So we’re talking a timeline of the last few days.

          • Brian Smith

            And, a simple “please contact Heather Green, my Managing Editor” would have sufficed.

          • I forwarded the message to her, too. But gave Rynn the opportunity to reply first, since it was her piece you were responding to.

        • gary p golden jr

          ahhh, good ole’ Dr. Jazz Hands.

        • Alyxander M Folmer

          Hah! Go Jason! 🙂

      • Yeah, I’ve got a similar approach to TWH, but as a Hellenist.Though, to be fair, within a week after “Hellenismos and Golden Dawn Nazis — Oh my!” JP-W posted an article about Elaion’s new charity group –which has actually been incredibly active.

      • Alyxander M Folmer

        As a Heathen author that has been featured here on a number of occasions, I don’t think that this is the case at all. We’ve gotten plenty of air time here at TWH. Maybe not as much as some other (generally LARGER) traditions, but we do get included. 🙂

  • xJane

    Thanks for the link to GrumpyLokeanElder’s post. I think this is a very important conversation to have (and the conversation has been very interesting over at Folmer’s post on Patheos. Folkish Heathenism is one of the reasons I am reluctant to tell people I’m Heathen (I usually go with ambiguously polytheist)—I don’t want to get lumped in with the racists (although, as a PWW, that’s something that I have to constantly be on guard for). I’m also super selective about what Heathens I interact with for the same reason—following the same gods but having wildly different views about the dignity of the human person are not equal reasons to be friends.

    So it’s nice to have these links to non-racist Heathens. And still a shame that we have to distinguish ourselves as such.

    • Odin’s beard, it pisses me off to no end when running into folkish idiots. Seriously, the Norse were in Russia, Turkey, Greece, Morocco, and possibly China – are people really stupid enough to believe the gods give a rat’s ass about where someone’s ancestors were from? Heck, even among the gods several of them married Jotun (Vali, son of Odin & a Jotun; Freyr wed Gerda, etc.)

      • Sunna Dottir

        Agree. Having spent some time in Europe amongst the people that worshipped my Gods before they were Christianized, my observations are of gentle people, who are fair minded, appreciate hard work, and have an affinity for people who have the ability to drink, sing and tell stories far into the dark cold winter’s night. The color of one’s skin or sexual orientation or religion was never an issue. What they valued was my character.

      • “are people really stupid enough to believe the gods give a rat’s ass about where someone’s ancestors were from?”

        And, by way of chiming in, if there is any idea more ridiculous than that of discrete groupings of deities hovering over particular plots of land, wearing the same clothes, speaking the same language, etc, as the people whom they are hovering over, it is the idea of these discrete groups of deities moving around over discrete groups of people as they wander about over the face of the earth, and changing their clothes, language, etc, to keep up with the humans they are hovering over.

        This is no way means that there is no connection between religion and “culture”. In fact the whole idea that one can neatly compartmentalize religion is a modern fantasy – it is inextricably entwined with ever aspect of human life. The problem comes in making the ridiculous assumption that the Gods somehow must conform to our little cultural quirks.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          Geographical theology is not an inherently ridiculous concept, simply because you disagree with it.

  • I would be interested to know what people think of Amy Hale’s claim that “Reconstructionist traditions, in particular, tend to be very vulnerable to this sort of thing.” Where by “this sort of thing” Hale is referring to racism and even Nazism.

    • gary p golden jr

      I think she should first understand what reconstructionism is and what it is exactly reconstructionists “do.”

      • Don’t cherry pick their sources, maybe?

        • gary p golden jr

          Well that too, more along the lines that recon is a method used to interpret the literary as well as archeological information to see if it still a functioning filter of perception this way the ritual praxis that comes out of it while not exactly what was done will at the very least be in line with it.

          I think too many people confuse recon with reenacting or recreating.

          • Or with death threats shielded as jokes about ‘seal bagging’. People confuse it with that too.

          • It is impossible to recreate a religion and make it identical to one that the ancients practiced. The best one can do is to a close approximation, and like you say, it is still a matter of interpretation. The key, I think, is not to focus on the minutia, but on the reconnecting with the ancient culture and a reconnecting with that culture’s divinities.

          • gary p golden jr

            We are not trying to “recreate”…or worse reenact…nor do we want to. What we are doing is not SCA, Colonial Williamsburg or Medieval Times. What we are trying to do, is as I mentioned.

          • Gotcha.

          • I don’t know a single recon who is trying to make something identical to what was practised in the past. The most anyone can or even wants to do is “a close approximation”, and most of the recons (especially those who use the term to identify their method of practise) are at least a little more relaxed about it than that. I’m really starting to suspect that this is just a straw man critics trot out so that they can make a subtle jab at the method without actually knowing anyone who employs it in their practise.

        • gary p golden jr

          I think I may have misunderstood you, are you saying recons cherry pick their sources or that Ms. Hale does in her assessment of them.

    • kenofken

      Most reconstructionist traditions are not racist, but essentially all racialists, at least of the white supremecy type, are reconstructionists. The modern movements that we would identify as Nazi or neo-Nazi all share a narrative of a romanticized, and completely ahistoric, past “glory age” in which Nordic/Aryan/White people ruled the world and did all of humanity’s worthwhile accomplishments by virtue of their inherent superiority.

      It all arose out of a confluence of bullshit 19th century racial theory and some corners of the modern occult revival movement. It all meshed perfectly with some of the fascist and nationalists instincts of the day, as well as well as the European Christian illness of anti-Semitism. There’s an overlap of reconstructionism and Nazism simply because the narrative and worldview of the former work for the latter in a way that no forward-looking or eclectic model could.

      Reconstructionism isn’t inherently sinister. One can find all sorts of beauty and wisdom in reconnecting with aspects of ancient societies and religions. It can also be twisted into a narrative which says that ancient glory was “stolen” from you by lesser degenerate people and that the old ways and raw power are the way to remedy that.

      • Ember

        I think you hit the nail on the head by accident when you said they’re Romanticized – The Racialist approach isn’t really reconstructionist, so much as Romanticist.


        • The idea that there is any intrinsic affinity between Romanticism and racism (and/or Nazism) is pure bunk. The modern movements for democracy, against monarchism, and for human equality, all have strong connections to Romanticism. But since Romanticism is so nebulous (and unavoidably so) it cannot ever be associated with any one political perspective. And especially after the bloody excesses of the French Revolution a strongly reactionary current developed within Romanticism.

      • Segomâros Widugeni

        Reconstructionist traditions include many more than the ones commonly encountered in the United States. There are “native faith” movements all over Central and Eastern Europe. The various flavors of Rodnovery (Slavic Recon), of course, but also others among the Baltic peoples, the Hungarians, Romanians, Volga Finnic peoples, Chuvash, Ossetians, various peoples in the Caucasus, and so on. Some of these groups include racialist contingents, in some cases based in bizarre local racial theories, rooted in local history and traditional conflicts. Others are merely ethnocentric, again, for reasons having to do with their histories, and frequently with struggles for cultural survival. A few are closer to Western norms of tolerance and ethnic inclusivity. But all use a vaguely Recontstructionist methodology, and have elements in common.

        • From my limited knowledge, the reconstructionist groups in Central and Eastern Europe that are truly problematic are pretty easy to spot. They spout, in print, boilerplace antisemitic garbage and have close ties to American white-supremacists, including David Duke.

          • Segomâros Widugeni

            In many cases, you’re absolutely right, but other problematic ideologies are more obscure to Westerners. Hungarian Turanism, for example, comes in racist, non-racist, and ethnocentric variants. Most Westerners don’t know what it is at all, can’t recognize it, and wouldn’t be able to tell if a particular version is a problem. Dacian Protochronism is another example that is virtually unknown in the West, but can be problematic. Conversely, the use of swastikas in most Baltic traditions might alarm the uninformed, but, if unaccompanied by other Nazi symbols, probably symbolizes the Thunder God, and way predates Nazism. It’s not always obvious.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Have you blogged about it, and if so, mind linking it?

          • Segomâros Widugeni

            I don’t have a blog, and my information is mostly based on Internet research and random bits of reading.

            My interest has two sources: First, I am of Banat German ancestry on my mother’s side, which gives me a weird half-insider/half-outsider interest in all kinds of Balkan and Danubian topics. Second, I have a deep interest in the numerous varieties of Reconstructionist and quasi-Reconstructionist religions.

            This has resulted in my doing a lot of research, but much of it is pretty rudimentary. For one thing, I can’t read most good information about Central and East European Paganism in their original languages. My knowledge is good enough for a comment, but probably not for a blog post, even if I had a blog. My work on this topic is at its most reliable when I have access to English language websites my the groups in question, which does occasionally happen.

            My Gaulish Polytheist work is much better. But then, it ‘s my path.

      • Franklin_Evans

        A semantic quibble — I’m learning a lot in this thread — but I submit a simpler distinction using two terms: Reconstructionist traditions are reviving belief systems, and should validly be compared amongst themselves, i.e. was the tradition being revived racist (or racialist)?

        Modern racists, however much they may resemble reconstructionists, are better labelled reactionaries. Their attitudes towards “others” is theirs natively and from their contemporary motivations (and xenophobia), and their “revival” is going to be racist regardless of what the target tradition held in its time.

        • Deborah Bender

          I don’t think that any of the belief systems being revived were originally racist for the simple reason that systematic racism in the modern sense is a belief system that did not arise until the early modern period in Europe, round about the sixteenth century. And the idea of a genetically transmitted national soul postdates the idea of nationalism.

          • Franklin_Evans

            Is there a middle path here? I ask because, being guilty of this myself many times (and likely to do it again), semantics too easily falls into a corollary of Godwin’s Law and never emerges again.

            My suggestion is only that, not an assertion. I’m (passively, maybe not clearly) looking to elevate this to a more abstract level. Your objection is well taken, but does it disqualify my suggestion or call for some sort of adjustment?

          • Deborah Bender

            I agree with everything in your second paragraph other than the term reactionary. I don’t think that term clarifies the sources and motivations of racism in contemporary religious movements; it’s inexact and so only functions as an insult.

            If xenophobia was a feature of the culture from which the religion arose, that needs to be noted and dealt with in any reconstructionist undertaking. If there was no xenophobia present originally, it certainly shouldn’t be added. All human social groups need to guard against the tendency to believe they are inherently superior to outsiders; it will always keep coming up and need to be knocked back down again. One can have pride in one’s group identity without denigrating others.

            I’m not sure whether that answers your question.

          • Franklin_Evans

            I would agree that the connotations of “reactionary” in the lexicon during my lifetime would make it an insult. I intended its use in a neutral tone, and should have written so.

            Apuleius provides further clarification to my point. In any event, your replies were helpful. I don’t think we are going to find answers in this forum, but the attempt is worthwhile.

          • “systematic racism in the modern sense is a belief system that did not arise until the early modern period in Europe …”

            I think this is really important for people to understand. Xenophobia is not at all the same thing as racism. Being more comfortable “with your own kind” is a fairly common type of small-mindedness that one finds everywhere at all times. And to some extent everyone is more comfortable with what they perceive as being more “familiar”.

            One reason why this is important to understand, other than its significance for better understanding ancient societies, is that the stubbornly pernicious realities of racism in modern societies do not magically disappear just because people’s attitudes change. Racism is something that is systematic, systemic and institutionalized.

          • Segomâros Widugeni

            Ancient peoples held a dizzying variety of forms of prejudice – different levels of xenophobia, tribal and city rivalry, prejudice against varying ethnicities, and so forth, and so on. Few of these were against anything approaching the modern concept of other races, though the imprecision of both ancient and modern terms means we can’t say that absolutely.

            We can say that no ancient prejudice had the systematic, pseudo–scientific bent of modern racism. Nobody in the ancient world turned prejudice into a complete explanation of human history.

  • Alyxander M Folmer

    Thank you so much for sharing these articles! I have been TRILLED to see so many people within our community willing to take a stand against racism.

    Tensions within the Heathen community over this issue have been building for quite a while, and I think some decisive action is long overdue.

  • Ember

    > Is this all coincidence, synchronicity, or is the Heathen community gearing up for a new conversation on these issues?

    The Heathen community has *always* talked about these issues. What may be a result of timing is the extended Pagan community noticing these particular instances.


    this all coincidence, synchronicity, or is the Heathen community
    gearing up for a new conversation on these issues? – See more at:
    this all coincidence, synchronicity, or is the Heathen community
    gearing up for a new conversation on these issues? – See more at:

    • Ember

      I really hate how this interface hides from me that I have successfully quoted the bits I wanted from the post. Argh. *sigh* -E-

      • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

        I know that one. I tend to copy to somewhere else first (such as a Word document), then re-copy from there.

  • Yvonne

    I agree wholeheartedly with Hexenfest’s message. Would love to see something like this more close to home – I guess Castlefest in the Netherlands comes kinda close.