Pagan Community Notes: A Vigil in DC, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, COG Environmental Statement, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 26, 2014 — 32 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!

10585339_10152348396531365_1555763864_nYesterday was the funeral for slain teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Throughout the country, vigils were held in solidarity with Brown’s family. Among them was #HandsUpDC in Washington DC. Quote: Join us for a candlelight vigil as Michael Brown’s family lays him to peaceful rest. We’d like to stand in solidarity with #Ferguson and demand the de-escalation of the police and military.” A group of local Pagans took part in the event, carrying signs that said “Justice for the beloved dead.” Pagan author and activist David Salisbury, who lives and works in Washington DC, also organized an informal ritual at the vigil which “will invoke the justice goddesses: Libertas, Justica, Columbia, and Themis.” For more on Pagan responses to Ferguson, please see Crystal Blanton’s Wild Hunt post from this past Sunday


ice-bucket-challenge-fb-user-profile-1There’s been a huge viral outpouring of support on the Internet for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, in which participants in the challenge are doused with ice water to help raise money and awareness for those living with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. At this point in the campaign an immense assortment of prominent individuals (including an assortment of non-human individuals) have participated, so it stands to reason that there have been Pagan who’ve accepted the challenge as well. Notable Pagans who’ve taken part include author and Pagan Unity Festival co-founder Tish Owen, Pagan children’s book author Kyrja Withers, Llewellyn Worldwide authors Deborah Blake and Melanie Marquis, and ADF Archdruid Rev. Kirk Thomas. Those are just the ones I could easily produce links for, I know there are more out there, so feel free to share them in the comments. As for myself, I prefer Patrick Stewart’s utterly sensible response. I’ve embedded the video featuring Archdruid Kirk Thomas below.

Covenant of the GoddessThis past weekend in Atlanta, Georgia, the Covenant of the Goddess (COG) one of the largest Witchcraft and Wiccan organizations in the United States, held their annual business meeting, known as the Grand Council. Our own Heather Greene will have more about the Grand Council and the accompanying public event Merry Meet on Wednesday, but I can report on one piece of news today: the organization has adopted a formal policy on environmental issues. Quote: “The CoG environmental statement was originally proposed and developed by longtime member and national CoG interfaith representative M. Macha NightMare (Aline O’Brien.) She said, ‘It gives me a great sense of accomplishment that we, the Witches of the Covenant of the Goddess, have crafted a statement about our beloved Mother Earth that reflects our shared values and expresses our mutual concern for our planet, as well as our responsibilities for its current state and our hope for the future. Having this official statement on behalf of the entire membership will be immensely helpful to those of us who work in interfaith arenas. I am proud to have it to share.'” You can read the entire policy statement, which includes a section on climate change, here.

In Other Pagan Community News:

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

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Patrick
    • Raksha38

      We are Groot!

  • Morgan

    WOW! LOVE this band! Gonna look up more of their music!

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    While I think what David Salisbury did was very good indeed, it would also be good if more people started getting one of those goddess’ names correct. There is no such goddess as “Justica.” There is, however, the Roman goddess Iustitia (or, if you’d prefer to have a “j” in there, Justitia), the goddess of justice. It’s impossible to invoke the power of a particular goddess if you’re calling on that goddess incorrectly/by the wrong name. Also perhaps relevant: this goddess used to be human in Roman belief, but then fled to the heavens as a result of human injustices. To propitiate her and call her back in formal ritual would be a very useful thing to do in the present, I think…

    • Thank you for the information, and for the suggestion.

    • David Salisbury

      Cool thanks. That’s the name that was given to me a while back so glad to know the appropriate term.

      • Alison Leigh Lilly

        Hey David — Just wanted to swing by to let you know that I fully and whole-heartedly support what you’re doing. 🙂 A blogger recently quoted something I wrote from four years ago in a way that implied I was trying to pick fights with you and other devotees of Columbia over this current event. So just in case you saw that, please know that I’m 100% in support of your work, and this blogger is just being silly. I left a clarification comment over on that blog, but got a strange error message which might mean it didn’t go through. If it’s okay, I’d like to repost part of it here:

        I absolutely support anyone who reaches out to their gods — by whatever name — for comfort, guidance and strength in helping them to recognize and dismantle systems of injustice, violence and oppression. I appreciate the heartfelt call towards a goddess of liberty, justice, freedom and equality, and the desire to see the U.S. striving towards those goals. I stand in solidarity with everyone who is grieved by the continuing violence and inspired to work for peace and justice — whether they do so in the name of Columbia, Wóȟpe, Bríg Ambue, Themis, or Christ.

        • lyradora

          Thank you for introducing me to a new Goddess. I had to look up Wóȟpe. 🙂


          “A blogger recently quoted something I wrote from four years ago in a way that implied I was trying to pick fights with you and other devotees of Columbia over this current event.”
          Where on earth did you get that impression? I AT NO POINT stated that this was in response to his ritual or that you were picking fights with anyone. I simply provided a quote to your piece since I thought it represented the criticisms I’ve seen others make in a cogent and frankly non-flammatory way (which cannot be claimed of other critics.) Jesus, if reading comprehension in the community is this low no wonder everyone is at each other’s throats all the time.

  • Sunweaver

    Be sure to check out Alex Bledsoe’s series of Tufa books that were the inspiration for Tuatha Dea’s album. The newest is also titled Long Black Curl and, like the others, can be read on its own without having read the previous two, The Hum and the Shiver and Wisp of a Thing. As a Pagan and native Appalachian, I highly recommend the series.

  • Antonella Ercolani

    ALS experiments on animals, I would never do the bucket challenge or give a cent….also research coconut oil….

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I watched a friend die of ALS, and I can tolerate a certain amount of both embryonic stem cell research (which upsets the Catholic bishops) and animal experimentation to find a cure. I realize this is the classic YMMV situation and I’m not trying to start a flame war; just saying there’s more than one Pagan POV on this. Peace.

      • Antonella Ercolani

        Embryonic and stem cell research are valid alternatives, but animal experimentation is just unnecessary, stupid and cruel and doesn’t lead to anything at all, just false hopes and torture and pain and death both for the animals and people

        • Yep, doesn’t lead to anything at all, just promising research into vaccines and treatments for things like typhoid fever, dysentery, ALS, malaria, alzheimers, dengue fever, as well as many other diseases. But its cool, we’ll just let young kids suffer and die so that the fuzzy little mice don’t get hurt.

          • Antonella Ercolani

            yeah, sure, like our body systems are soooo like the mice and cats and dogs, (yeah they are used A LOT in vivisection) and sure, embryonic and stem cell are not valid, they are ONLY cells from our species how can they be of any use to the research on vaccines and treatments for humans? we are not humans right?


            These mice have human-type blood (as near as I can tell, i am not a biologist), which makes them rather useful. Unless you prefer to practice vivisection on humans, of course.

          • Antonella Ercolani

            you are a riot! embryonic stem cells? ever heard of those they are human cells, not humans but they are far better than vivisection, of course the church is against it, they supposedly cost more, they wouldn’t allow researchers to vent their sociopathic sadistic side…and yada yada

          • Can you tell me how, precisely, stem cells would be useful in monitoring blood flow to a tumor to measure if a drug was working? Or how they would allow you to monitor synapse and neural responses to see if a drug was working to help manage Alzheimers or ALS? Please, be specific – I’d like to see your experimental designs. Now, as I stated, I am not a biologist, but I am a scientist. And yes, I more highly value human life than that of animals.

            Also – sociopathic? the folks working on life-saving drugs and treatments? I do not think that word means what you think it means, to wit: sociopath, from the Oxford English Dictionary: A person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.

            Now, it seems to me, as a mere amateur student of the human condition, that advocating the suffering of people over the supposed inhumane treatment of animals is a bit sociopathic, don’t you agree?

          • Antonella Ercolani

            when you enjoy killing animals you have no conscience so sociopath may not be the best word but it’s pretty close as for the rest:
            nuff said

          • do you have a citation that scientists involved in these research avenues enjoy killing animals?


            ” All surgical procedures are approved by the institution’s Animal Care and Use Committee, and analgesics are routinely administered to all animals undergoing a surgical procedure. Animals are surgically modified using atraumatic and aseptic technique”


            When you have facts, get back to me.

          • Antonella Ercolani

            the facts are all over the internet do your research “stem cells vs vivisection” on google is a start, I have better things to do than convince people like you. When you grow true compassion get back to me

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Eran Rathan is being a perfect troll but some of his points are valid. We humans have body systems quite parallel to those of other vertebrates and other animals with spinal cords. A few years ago the DNA folks found the entire genome of some worm replicated in the human genome, implying we and other animals with spinal cords have the same kinds of nervous, digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems. The stunning accomplishment of evolution is elaborating so many variations on the same base. And if you look at the skeletons of other vertebrates you can see a similarity of “floor plan” with, again, stunning variety of applications. We are related.

          • Mice share approximately 99% of human DNA.

            Their musculature, circulatory systems, and nervous systems are also similar to humans. Their short lifespan and small size makes them ideal for study.

            Antonella can argue feelings all day long, and claim that stem cells are a cure-all. They are not. Are they a useful research tool? Of course. Would i like to see a point where animal testing is unnecessary? Certainly. But, much in the same way I feel about abortion, it is useful and expeditious now to have it available for use. If my pragmatism and cited arguments are considered trolling while Antonella’s ad hominems are not, so be it.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            It was “sarcasm” and “raises eyebrow” that earned you that ecomonium.Antonella isn’t the only one arguing feelings. I said up front, I watched a friend die. And your preference for mouse over human vivisection (which I share) is at bottom an emotional position too.Stem cells are indeed a useful research tool, and I hope they develop re-potentiated adult stem cells. If a stem-based cure for my diabetes comes along I’d rather use one of my bone cells than pester some woman for one of her eggs to solve a problem that is mine.

          • Relevant article posted today:


            An area in mouse brains which is functionally identical to humans, whose inhibition appears to be linked to depression.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          There’s a perfectly valid animal protocol, breeding a line that develops a particular disease genetically and trying experimental treatments on them. I don’t know if that’s used for ALS but it’s the first thing that came to mind when you mentioned animal research.

          • “The mouse bearing the human gene for mutant SOD1 was the first lab model for ALS based on a known cause of the disease. It remains the most widely used animal model of the disease. The SOD1 rat is also available, and because it is larger, is preferred when surgery is involved (such as for cell transplantation approaches). Rodents are especially important for testing potential therapies, since their nervous systems are much larger and more complex than other animal models.”


          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Thank you for extracting and posting that cite. I don’t respond well when people tell me to take the time and effort to do a search to prove their point.

  • It gave me an unexpected lump in my throat to see the signs reading “Justice for the Beloved Dead” in the context of a vigil for Michael Brown. Yes, he is not among the Pagan dead. But acknowledging our kinship with him and mourning his death–while making our voices heard on the subject of deescalating the militarization of the police force and challenging racial bias in policing–holds so much meaning for me.

    And for many of us, it would seem. Perhaps our own history of marginalization makes us a little more aware of what it means to be without majority privilege in a dangerous world?

    For whatever reason, I am proud of us today. Thank you, David Salisbury, for organizing this vigil. And thank you, Crystal Blanton and The Wild Hunt for expressing a Pagan perspective on this affront to justice.

    • David Salisbury

      Aw thank you so much, Cat! To clarify- I didn’t organize the whole vigil (that was a wider community vigil), just the Pagan presence.
      I also add my voice in thanks to Crystal and The Wild Hunt for focusing on this. I too am proud to be Pagan when I see people talk about this stuff. We won’t become perfect over night, but I think we can all do a little something to work towards being better.

      • All the better, David. I think participating in events in the wider community is often the best way we can lend our voices.

  • Genexs

    The board meeting in Virginia was really something to behold. Rarely have I seen such hatred and demonization so proudly displayed. The large amount of applause some of these speakers received was also telling. Then again, the people who spoke for repealing the ordinance really nailed it. Particularly moving was the Christian woman who spoke out so forcefully in defense of her Pagan friends.