Pagan Community Notes: Denton CUUPS, Convocation, Asatru Folk Assembly, and more

The Wild Hunt —  August 22, 2016 — 33 Comments

1930212_1044474605610182_2135655129642865778_nDENTON, Tex.– Eight months after a fire damaged its building, Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship came together in a newly constructed space to celebrate and recommit to its mission. As we reported in December, the Denton church was repeatedly vandalized by a single teenager, who eventually set fire to the building. At the time, Rev. Pam Wat said, “The damage from the fire is significant, but not overwhelming.”

Since that point, members were invited to hold their services in the First Christian Church, located across the street. As noted by Denton CUUPS chapter coordinator John Beckett, “They displayed the best of Christianity.” Specifically, the CUUPS group was able to hold regular Sunday meetings at the facility as well as seasonal events, including its “Imbolc, Ostara, Summer Solstice, and Lughnasadh circles.”

Meanwhile, the damaged building was being rebuilt. Construction was completed just in time for the annual “Ingathering Service” that the church uses to “kick off its year.” Beckett was an integral part of Saturday’s event, helping to “compose two of the liturgical elements” for the service, as well as delivering a “colloquy as the Act of Reconsecration” together with Rev. Wat. Beckett, who wrote in a blog post, “It was a perfect example of collaborative ritual, and of how a UU service can be truly multi-faith without being bland and soulless.” The colloquy is posted in full on his blog.

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cuupsSALEM, Mass. — In other CUUPS news, this weekend marks the start of Convocation, the organization’s annual gathering. This year’s conference event, themed “Awakening Our Tribe,” will be held at the First Church in Salem, Massachusetts. CUUPS organizers have scheduled three full days of workshops, rituals, lectures, and entertainment, inviting people to join them “for this special gathering as we return to the roots for inspiration.” The current schedule and guest speaker list is posted on their website.

Additionally, with the event being held in the “Witch City,” organizers have built time into the plans for attendees to get out and stroll the streets or take self-guided historical tours. Rev. JK Hildebrand will speak on the subject. “Why are there so many of us [in Salem]? When and how did it all come to be? What have been some of the lessons of religion vs. commercialism? How does CUUPS fit in?” There will also be a discussion and viewing of the documentary With Love, from Salem, which focuses on the practice of modern Witchcraft in the historic city.

Convocation runs from Aug 26-28.

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The Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) is stirring up controversy on social media after newly-selected Alsherjargothi Matt Flavel posted a short statement on AFA’s Facebook page. Sunday night, Flavel wrote:

“Today we are bombarded with confusion and messages contrary to the values of our ancestors and our folk. The AFA would like to make it clear that we believe gender is not a social construct, it is a beautiful gift from the holy powers and from our ancestors. The AFA celebrates our feminine ladies, our masculine gentlemen and, above all, our beautiful white children. The children of the folk are our shining future and the legacy of all those men and women of our people back to the beginning.”

While the post has generated some visible support for the organization and its new leadership, there has been a growing wave of protest and, simultaneously, calls to publicly denounce the AFA. One Facebook user asked for clarification, “Am I misunderstanding the message here or does this mean that if someone wasn’t white or if they were queer they wouldn’t be welcome in the AFA?” Flavel responded in part, with “You are not misunderstanding.”

No official reactions have come out yet from other Heathen or Pagan groups, or individuals, by the time of publication; nor has the AFA made any further comment. We will continue to follow this story and report as needed.

In other news

  • As noted in late July, the court case for musician Kenny Klein was due to start on Aug. 15. However, it has once again been delayed. According to the latest report, defense attorneys have hired a professional to analyze Klein’s computers and provide a report. They are also asking for copies of the photographs. However, prosecutors will only allow them to see the originals, rather than provide them with copies. With all the various motions on the table, the trial date has been pushed back to Sept. 29.
  • Hellenion, a US-based religious organization “dedicated to the revival and practice of Hellenic polytheism,” has opened a new ritual group, or “Proto-Demos” located in Southeast Michigan. The new group, called the Apple Blossom Proto-Demos of Hellenion, was formed in late spring and held its first ritual July 16 at the Pagan Pathways Temple in Madison Heights. Apple Blossom joins eleven other such Hellenion groups located around the US.
  • A new metaphysical store is coming to Oregon. The Sacred Well, located in the Bay Area, announced that it will be opening a second location in Portland this October. The Sacred Well employs and serves Pagan, polytheist, and Witchcraft practitioners with readings, ritual supplies, temple events, and classes. The new store will open at 7927 SE 13th Ave in the Sellwood neighborhood. To follow their progress, go to the Sacred Well Portland Facebook page.
  • Don’t forget it is Pagan Pride season. Denver Pagan Pride kicks off its local festivities on Saturday as do many others around the country. Pride events associated with the Pagan Pride project are listed on its website.
  • Everglades Moon Local Council (EMLC), the Florida-based affiliate of Covenant of the Goddess, released its 24th seasonal podcast. The 2016 Lughnasad edition contains music by Emerald RoseGinger Doss, and Mama Gina. Members discuss everything from tarot tips and Nervine Tea to “getting inebriated at festivals.” The regular seasonal podcast can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Libsyn, or on the EMLC website.

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CORRECTION (8/24/2016 12:50 pm): The original article stated that an online exchange between a user and AFA leaders had been deleted. At the time of original publication, that short exchange was not publicly visible and assumed to have been deleted. However, it has since reappeared and is publicly accessible on the organization’s Facebook site.

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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.
  • Well, that’s a, um… interesting approach for the AFA to take especially considering how much Heathenism in general is already considered a dog-whistle religion for racists. Good to know that their new high mugwump has a head full of logical thinks.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker


    • Friday

      The AFA were always like that, American Family Association with a hammer on it.

  • “The AFA would like to make it clear that we believe gender is not a social construct, it is a beautiful gift from the holy powers and from our ancestors. The AFA celebrates our feminine ladies, our masculine gentlemen and, above all, our beautiful white children.”




    • Wolfsbane

      “You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”
      – The Waco Kid (from Blazing Saddles)

      • Wolfsbane
      • Kate Ross

        Cognitive dissonance! Cognitive dissonance EVERYWHERE!!!

      • H Mason

        Funny since Paganism, the very word, means “people of the land” or “countrymen”. Kinda implies you are not an actual pagan given your disrespect for the common people and for farmers, the people who grow your fucking food, and are just like every other suburbanite wiccan who uses hippie incense and DMT to like, really connect to the earth, man

    • Friday

      Yah, who the Hel is even *saying* ‘Gender is a social construct’ these days anymore, ….I think their echo chamber is a bit of an obsolete construct by now. 🙂

  • Lupa

    Well, at least the racist scum is rising to the surface so it’s easier to spot–and avoid. Yuck. #notinmypaganism

  • Vicky

    If there was someone out there who was still unsure on the AFA ideology, well now there is no more doubt.
    I’d like some clear reaction from public pagan groups, but especially from pagans who, in the past, have swiftly overlooked certain stances of Heathen and Asatru groups…

    • Gerrie O.

      There is the start of other Heathen groups denouncing this on FB. I can’t remember which group, but it was how I initially found out about it.

    • kenofken

      I suspect this won’t greatly change people’s opinions. Those who were inclined to make excuses for the AFA will continue to do so. They won’t have the advantage of the flimsy veneer of respectability anymore, but they will blame the uproar on “misquotes” or “out of context” or whatever. There was no reasonable doubt what the AFA was about even before this new guy tore the mask off.

      Those who continue to make excuses for them or soft-pedal the issue deserve to be judged accordingly, but the Heathen and Asatru by no means have a monopoly on bigotry or a lack of will to confront it., particularly on the issue of transphobia/hate. Until quite recently, the AFA’s position on transgender issues was widely and quite vocally professed within certain Wiccan and Dianic circles. That has shifted significantly within the past few years, but there are still plenty of instances where that hate is tacitly endorsed by silence.

      Even after the months of uproar that led to the resignation of one of Cherry Hill Seminary’s instructors, the college’s leadership has never yet been able to bring themselves to make an unambiguous and explicit statement in support of transgender rights and any real condemnation of a transphobic philosophy which is every bit as vile as Flavel’s statements. If we are, as a movement, to press for an end to fence-sitting on matters of bigotry, and I think we should, that standard should apply to all of us.

  • ChristopherBlackwell

    The AFA statement is unfortunate and will l get them a great deal of flack, including from a great many other Heathens. Please be wary of stereotyping Heathens in general, as you, would be of any other group. I interviewed a fair number of Heathens for ACTION in the past that would have found the AFA statement offensive.

    As a Wiccan, I cannot forget the help some of the Heathens gave when we were fighting to get the Pentacle recognized by the VA as a religious emblem that would represent some Pagans and Wiccans on their gravestones. I also remember their equally hard, but successful, fight to get Thor’s Hammer recognized for Heathen Veterans on their grave stones, and their continued fight in the various Armed Forces to be fully recognized as they deserve to be.

    • Friday

      In some ways, don’t worry about it: probably these guys are just delusional enough to think Trump actually meant racism and transphobia acceptable enough again that his pet preachers and the GOP are going to somehow stop being anti-Pagan.

      Most Asatru I’ve known actually have big dragouts with these types. Actually I didn’t know the organization per se still existed.

      • Not only do they still exist, but they’re the largest Asatru organization in the U.S.

        • Friday

          I hadn’t thought *that,* but I was thinking I’m probably pretty out of date by now on what groups are which or are still so active. I’d thought these guys had had a shakeup and split off over ‘folkish’ issues, etc, and all. I may be misremembering, somewhere.

        • mdyer

          Much to our misfortune….

    • MadGastronomer

      “Unfortunate”? Racism, transphobia and homophica are “unfortunate”?

      And no one here has yet blamed all Heathens. I think it’s pretty well understood by TWH readers that there’s a deep divide in Heathen communities around bigotry.

      • ChristopherBlackwell

        Nice to know that you are dedicated to your trolling. Always in your attack mode.

  • thelettuceman

    Too bad for the back peddlers in the AFA that screen caps of that now deleted exchange exist and have been circulating around the Heathen ‘net.

    • As a matter of fact, the exchange was not deleted as the article above claimed. It’s still there, at this moment. The AFA is not trying to back peddle anything.

      • thelettuceman

        Thank you for correcting me, I’ve passed it along.

  • emily

    It’s always nice when stupid bigots make themselves easy to spot, makes avoiding them easier.

  • Hearing Heathens talk like conservative Christians makes me sick.

    • H Mason

      and hearing “polytheists” thinking that paganism is about living in the city and taking cock up the ass makes me sicker

      • What we can’t do that?

      • Ah…we don’t just take it in the cities. I take cock up my ass in rural areas, too. In fact, did a lot of that in Germany last month, including in an ancient Heathen village in the Uckermarkt.

        Want photos?

  • Drezdany

    The Troth has come out with an official statement yesterday, 8/22/16. By the way.

    • Drezdany

      “The Troth is open to all who seek to know and to honor the Gods, ancestors, and values of the Germanic Heathen traditions, regardless of gender, race, nationality or sexual orientation. The Troth stands against any use of Germanic religion and culture to advance causes of racism, sexism, homophobia, white supremacy, or any other form of prejudice.

      While we are aware that there are some Asatru organizations that are not inclusive to all people, the Troth’s doors are open to all those who may have been excluded due to their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability. The Troth stands against the AFA’s vision of what Asatru should be, and we do not recognize their beliefs as representative of a majority of American Asatru (Heathenry). There are no arbiters of who can and cannot worship our deities, but the Gods themselves. We are a family religion, and to the Troth that means all families.”

  • “That comment exchange has since been deleted.”

    This is factually incorrect. The comments in question are still there.

  • Jules Morrison

    Nazi scum are Nazis, scum.

  • H Mason

    So for all you faggots saying “notinmuhpaganism”….please explain to me how paganism is not an ethnic religion. Also please explain why the Germanic tribes considered homosexuality an abomination and did not allow them to participate in their rituals.