Pagan Community Notes: Open Halls Project, Judy Harrow, Pagan Music Festival and more

The Wild Hunt —  March 16, 2015 — 11 Comments

open_halls_squareAs first reported on the Norse Mythology Blog, the U.S. Army has not yet added Heathen and Asatru to its religious preference list. Dr. Karl Siegfried writes,”Over two months after being notified of approval, Army Heathens are now in a state of limbo.”

We spoke with Josh Heath, co-founder of the Open Halls Project, who said, “The Chaplain backed away from his initial statement that the addition was approved,” and “he misread the speed in which the addition was going to be processed.” Heath said that the Open Halls Project will continue pressing for this recognition. He added, “The Army Corp of Chaplains has largely been helpful to us during this process. We particularly want to officially thank Chaplain Bryan Walker for his assistance. However, we also are growing increasingly frustrated that it has taken so long for this process to reach its finale. The Open Halls Project will continue to advocate for this addition, and will do everything in our power to ensure every soldier knows when it finally has been approved. Our soldiers deserve this recognition of their right to claim their faith. Heathenry is about a commitment to one’s community, a gift of service. The US Army has the duty now to return that gift as is our custom.”

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Judy_Harrow_Award_Photo_CleanAs we reported last week, Judy Harrow was “honored by The Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ) division of the American Counseling Association (ACA).” She had been nominated in January by Michael Reeder, LCPC. At a special award luncheon Friday, a member of the Cherry Hill Seminary (CHS) faculty accepted the Ohana award on Harrow’s behalf. CHS Director Holli Emore said, “Ms. Harrow was crucial to the development of Cherry Hill Seminary early on, building our pastoral counseling department into a program which would meet professional standards as well as the needs of the growing Pagan community.”

The award itself will be housed for viewing at the New Alexandrian Library (NAL) in Delaware. Board member Michael G. Smith said, “Ms. Harrow was an avid supporter of the New Alexandrian Library. She recognized the need for the Contemporary Paganism to preserve its history and cultural artifacts for future generations so they would be able to have a greater appreciation and understand their roots, their beginnings. She felt so passionately that she left her personal library in her last will and testament to the NAL. It is a great pleasure for us to see her work celebrated by her colleagues and we are honored to house her award, along with her collection, at the Library.”

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downloadThe Dragon Hills Retreat and Right Time, Right Place Productions will be hosting a spring Pagan Music Festival in 2016. Over Memorial Day weekend, musicians from around the world will come together in Bowdon, Georgia to perform at this private 30-acre campground and event center. According to the most recent updates, the festival will host over 20 bands, as well as100 vendors and more.

Currently booked to perform are: SJ Tucker, Sharon Knight, Celia, Tuatha Dea, Wendy Rule, Damh the Bard, Witch’s Mark, Murphy’s Midnight Rounders, Bekah Kelso, Spiral Rhythm, Spiral Rhythm, Dragon Ritual Drummers, Elaine Silver, Mama Gina, Beltana Spellsinger, and Robin Renée. Organizers say that more performers will be added and tickets are already on sale. They added that “a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit Katie’s Krops.”

In Other News

  • This Friday will be the soft launch of the new site Gods & Radicalsborn out of a PantheaCon presentation made by Rhyd Wildermuth and Alley Valkyrie. On Friday, they will publish their first essay by Jason Thomas Pitzl. Other essays will follow periodically until the site is in full operation. Writers currently scheduled include Asa West, Lorna Smithers, and Sean Donahue. Gods & Radicals has been garnering much buzz in the community. When its facilitators made a call for submissions, the response was overwhelming. The site will publish works that focus on anti-capitalism, environmentalism and social change. They write, “We Pagans are trying to re-enchant the world, to bring back the magic of the forests and the mountains. We are trying to hear and revere the wild places the sacred forgotten places, the spirits of ocean and rivers and lakes.” 
  • Manannan mac Lir was back in the news again when the Limavady Council decided that the original statue was far too damaged to repair and that they would be erecting a replacement. According to the Derry Journal, the Council said that “a new sculpture should be made by John Darren Sutton at a cost of £9,950 and erected on Binevenagh.” The old statue will be on display as tourist attraction. However, as the decision was made, there was some outcry. According to the Belfast Telegraph, one local councilor believes that the “plan to use the damaged sculpture of a Celtic sea god as a tourist attraction would promote paganism and false gods.”
  • In another part of the world, ancient statues, relics and other historic sites are being pillaged and destroyed by ISIL. The destruction of these treasured artifacts has upset many Pagans, Polytheists and Heathens. One California Pagan, Jack Prewett has called for a Global Day of Mourning on April 18. Prewett calls the destruction a “tragedy for humankind” and says,“Let us mourn the loss of our history, our heritage. Cry for those that will come after us and know that once we had our history in our hands and let it slip through our fingers.” Why did Prewett choose April 18?  That is the U.N.’s World Heritage Day.
  • Last fall, in the heart of Arkansas, a group organized to host the first ever Pagan Pride event in Conway. According to reports, they had over 300 attendees, which far exceeded expectations. Unfortunately, the city of Conway has since passed an ordinance prohibiting all vendor sales on park property. Organizers said, “This means that we wouldn’t be able to have vendors, our singers and presenters wouldn’t be able to sell their merchandise, and there wouldn’t be any concessions! The only option that the city has given us is to rent out the Conway Expo Center.” If the organizers follow through, the event will cost significantly more money. The organization is now reaching out to the community for help through a GoFundMe campaign.
  • The Aquarian Tabernacle Church, based in Washington state, has recently released several statements responding to the most recent attempts to enact a religious freedom restoration act (RFRAs), specifically in the state of Georgia. The ATC’s statements have created buzz in the mainstream media, the Pagan blogosphere and local Georgia Wiccan community. We are currently working on this developing story and will bring you the details of the debate on Wed.

That is it for now. Have a nice day.

The Wild Hunt

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The Wild Hunt is a daily, nonprofit news journal serving the collective Pagan, Heathen and Polytheist communities worldwide. Follow us each day to stay up to date with the latest news and commentary.
  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Dig out and read the ATC statement on the Georgia bill. It’s a pip. They aver that it will legalize polyamory, abrogate dope laws and confer a right to refuse piss and breathalyzer tests. And it is indeed roiling the waters.

    • kenofken

      What they have it in mind to do is to grant conservative Christians a blanket exemption from the rule of law itself by simply invoking religion. Of course it doesn’t work that way under our system, especially not anymore, so it will be fun to watch them blindsided by utterly foreseeable unforeseen consequences 🙂

      That’s the one beauty of the religious right in this country: You don’t have to fight them. You just let them be themselves and get out of their way. They’ll hang themselves with this issue the way they did with LGBT rights and every other culture war issue. Pay them out as much rope as they want!

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Of course, they only want to further privilege the already privileged and further marginalize those already on the margins. And I love to see the look in their eyes when they find out that “religion” isn’t limited to their religion. But I’d rather see it before rather than after they legislate. That’s why I fully support ATC’s consciousness-raising zap. Reminds me of how the Contra Costa County Pagan Community Council banana-peeled a voucher initiative in California by announcing its readiness to open a Witch School on the public dime.

      • H.

        Alas, they’ll at least hurt more people until it might happen that they bring their own demise. The last “round” of this is anti-trans bills in at least TX, FL, and Canada.

  • Thank you so much for covering Judy Harrow’s award from the ACA. There is no doubt in my mind she would have been honored both to know that the reward was accepted on her behalf by Cherry Hill Seminary, and that it will be on display at the New Alexandrian Library.

    Judy used to talk about how, not having any biological children, she viewed her students and the Pagan communities she helped to build as her legacy.

    She left a proud one. And she is missed.

    (Oh, Judy. How you are missed.)

  • Deborah Bender

    I got to thinking about The American Council of Witches, 2015 edition. The link to their new website listed on this blog near the end of the March 2 Pagan Community Notes now takes one to a nearly blank page, no logo or text other than pageok. I confirmed the URL on Google and tried accessing it from Safari and Firefox with the same result. Their Facebook page is up and active. I scanned the first few entries and they were a mishmosh of individual posts, nothing about the organization itself.

    • kenofken

      Apparently they folded about a week ago, at least to the extent that they publicly identify their project as ACOW. Jason Mankey over at Patheos claimed credit as it went down 24 hours after he wrote it 🙂

      I’m inclined to give him his due, although I like to think I did my small part as well. I think they finally recognized that virtually everyone in the movement saw their absurd prestige grab for what it was. Some say the group is still planning to roll out something one of these days, but I wouldn’t bet the couch cushion change on it.

      I don’t think it’s the last we’ll hear of ACOW, however. There is something about that name or legacy that just drives fools mad like Smaug’s treasure… Some group with pretensions to power and a blind eye for history will step up to reclaim the title before the decade is out.

  • Vision_From_Afar

    Not that I normally advocate following France’s lead, but is there any chance TWH could follow this? Names have power, as we know…

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/10/09/words-matter-isis-war-use-daesh/V85GYEuasEEJgrUun0dMUP/story.html?event=event25

    • We have been using AP’s recommendation at this point to be consistent. That article makes a very good point. Thank you.

  • Gaddy

    The only option that the city has given us is to rent out the Conway Expo Center.

    Finding a, small meeting room with suitable permitting near the park for vendors to huckster in isn’t possible?

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I’ve never been a vendor but I’ve been to lots of community festivals and it strikes me that most sales are from fair-goers walking by and seeing something that catches the eye. Sequestering the vendors in a separate venue is imho counterproductive. Location, location, location.