Pagan Community Notes: Cherry Hill Seminary; Tarot Ban Lifted; TWH Fall Fund Drive and more!

The Wild Hunt —  September 19, 2016 — 5 Comments

Cherry Hill SeminaryCOLUMBIA, S.C. — Cherry Hill Seminary (CHS) has announced the launch of a new Community Ministry Certificate. In partnership with the Sacred Well Congregation, the new 15-month program is designed to lead to ministerial credentials. The program covers such topics as ethics, leading ritual, diversity understanding, family dynamics, addiction and more.

As we previously reported, CHS has recently found itself at a crossroads. Director Holli Emore has said, “Unpredictable cash flow has compromised our ability to be sustainable. The nature of the extended Pagan community, the economy, and even the very face of higher education have all changed dramatically in the past decade.”

Despite that struggle, the organization is continuing operation, keeping its commitment to students. The new ministerial program is part of that work. In a press release, CHS notes that they never offered this type of training before because, as they explain, times were different: “Most people belonged to covens, and some of those leaders advised CHS founders of a concern that students would leave their home group if they got training elsewhere. Now a large percentage of Pagans surveyed say that they are either solitary by choice or unaffiliated with a group for other reasons. Finally, most tradition training does not cover the topics taught at a seminary.”

Registration for the new program begins in November. In meantime, CHS has just launched a new survey to help gather input “in planning [their] programs so that they can best meet [the community’s] needs.”

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heathercooperPARKERSBURG, W.Va — It was announced that the city council of Parkersburg had a change of heart and has lifted the ban on fortune telling. The reversal to the July decision came Tuesday, surprising many locals. Heather Cooper, who had initially challenged the law, was there to witness the vote, and told a local journalist, “I figured it would be passed, but when they finally said it was passed we weren’t really sure that it was passed. We figured there would be a lot more to it. So we were like what?”

As we previously reported in June, Cooper had discovered that fortune telling was banned in the city. As a result, she was unable to fully operate Hawthorn, her new metaphysical store that focused primarily on tarot reading. When she challenged the old code, the city council upheld the ban. At the time, Cooper pledged to fight, launching a GoFundMe campaign that ended up raising $500 to cover legal retaining fees.

Then, this past Tuesday, the ban was dropped. We caught up with Cooper, and she briefly explained what happened to change the city’s mind. “The ACLU wrote them a letter, telling them it was unconstitutional. Parkersburg lost a lawsuit the last time the ACLU was involved over panhandlers. [The city] lost $80,000. The city attorney told them they had to pass it.”

Cooper added that it helped that she had already hired a lawyer, saying, “[My lawyer] was also talking to other city council members. City councilman Brown decided to change his vote from no to yes, which got the ordinance back on the agenda. From there the ACLU did the rest of the convincing. Sounds like they can be quite persuasive.”

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TWHThe Wild Hunt has begun its  annual Fall Fund Drive. Since 2004, The Wild Hunt has been serving its global readership with modern Pagan news and commentary. What began as an informative, community-minded blog has slowly and steadily grown into one of the most widely-read nonprofit online news magazines for modern Pagans, Witches, Polytheists, and Heathens in the world. Today, our reliable, independent news agency is made up of a 16-member team of reporters, columnists, and editorial staff, all of whom make sure that you receive relevant, well-crafted, original content every day of the week.

During our annual Fall Fund Drive, we ask that you help us continue to do that; to continue to be here for you every single day. We are grateful for the support you have already shown that has allowed us to come as far as we have. With your continued support, we’ll do our best to repay your generosity by expanding and growing our delivery.

For more on our fall campaign, the exciting perks, our future goals, and other fun TWH facts, go to our newly launched IndieGoGo campaign. And, while you are there, consider donating today and sharing the link. Support independent, nonprofit, Pagan journalism!

In Other News:

  • Norse Mythology blogger Karl E. H. Seigfried recently sat down with Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. In that interview, Seigfried and Stein discuss a number of very current issues, one of which is her awareness of non-Abrahamic religions. In response to one question, she said, in part, that one of our contemporary challenges is”to find our common humanity and overcome the sense of fear, otherness, and divisions by embracing each other as members of the same human family. We may tell different stories, but that’s okay. Different stories are enriching the traditions of us all.” The entire interview is published on The Norse Mythology Blog.
  • The California-based Academy of Arcana, launched last year by Oberon Zell and several colleagues, is continuing its quest for more funding. In recent letter, board member Emrys Dragonseye said, “I pen this letter to you with a heavy mind, for there comes a time in all our lives when we reflect back upon the path that has led us to where we are today […] Sadly, we have seen too many of our revered elders pass through the veil in recent years as age and its accompanying trials continue to erode their mortality.” Dragonseye goes on to say that the Academy of Arcana’s new board is working “toward the goal of seeking out a means by which to preserve the Zell’s museum and library collections of Pagan archives and artifacts.” The board is calling to the Pagan community for assistance. In a second letter directly to The Wild Hunt, Dragonseye confirmed that this call to action has nothing to do with Zell’s own health. He said that Zell “is doing fine,” and only “a bit disheartened at watching so many of loved ones, friends, and close associates pass away.”
  • The New Mexico-based Ardantane Learning Center will be hosting a “Hate Crimes” two-part lecture series featuring Kerr Cuhulain. The event page explains, “People use misinformation to paint ugly and slanderous pictures of others to further their pursuit of power, influence, and prosperity. Kerr shares the lessons he learned dealing with hate crimes during the Satanic Panic of the 80s and 90s and his experiences with educating law enforcement and other public agencies about Pagan religions. This course is based on Kerr’s 25 years as a hate crimes investigator.” The two classes will be available online Oct. 16 and 23.

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  • Rev. Patrick McCollum and his work were recently featured in The Interfaith Observer. Written by Ruth Boyde Sharone, the article is titled, “An Instrument of Thy Peace” and focuses on his violin in advance of the upcoming UN International Day of Peace, Sept. 21. McCollum told The Wild Hunt, “I am so honored to have my work selected to represent this momentous occasion, and I hope to continue to shift the consciousness of the world to a new meta-narrative that promotes the truth that we are all family and that there isn’t an us versus them, there is only us.”
  • The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, located in Boscastle, England, will reportedly appear in a future episode of “Antiques Roadshow.” Museum managers Judith and Peter Hewitt took one of the artifacts to the show’s nearby filming event in hopes of it being used for the “Enigma Game.” The item was chosen and filmed for reportedly five minutes with the Hewitts in the background. The museum has posted several photos and more about that experience on its site.
  • In response to the continued actions and support for the Great Sioux Nation and the Standing Rock protests, blogger Melissa Hill felt compelled to publish her thoughts about the place of magic and meditation in this work. In Singing the Cricket Song for Standing Rock Tribe, Hill wrote, “[Magic] in no way replaces the physical work of the protesters. It doesn’t replace sending money and supplies, or contacting your governmental representatives, or signing petitions. But it does have a place.”

If you have news tips, events, or story suggestions, contact us.

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  • kenofken

    Cherry Hill’s launching of a new program at this time seems a little cart-before-the horse given the open questions about the school’s sustainability and strategic re-thinking of it’s mission.

    I’m glad to see the fortune telling law overturned. It’s a good lesson in social justice. Leaders, contrary to what is implied by the name, will always take the path of least resistance. You just have to make doing the right thing the only viable path for them.

    It’s also good to see Kerr Cuhulain’s name again. His books were very formative on my path, and I had the very good fortune to meet him about 10 years ago.

    • David Oliver Kling

      Why is it “cart-before-the-horse” for CHS to institute new programs? This is precisely the time that it needs to be done to foster the necessary growth to keep the institution vibrant and progressively moving forward. Much work is going into this new program and with the recent announcement regarding Sacred Well Congregation becoming a recognized endorsing body with the VA it is a most auspicious time to start such a program.

      • kenofken

        Growth and forward movement is great…when you know where it is you want to move toward. Growth for the sake of growth is a disaster in the making. More than a few megacorporations have gone down the tubes this way – buying up numerous other companies, expanding into markets they didn’t understand, not having a clear idea of what their core business is really about etc.

        There are some big fundamental questions in play where Cherry Hill is concerned. Seminary leadership, and to some extent, our entire movement, has to sort out to what extent we really want professional clergy, what we want them for, what training they should have and what career prospects they will have after completing that education.

        Then there is the ugly but unavoidable question of who pays for it all and how. The whole operation is running more or less on a shoestring as far as I can tell, with virtually all of its funding dependent on out-of-pocket tuition. I don’t see that as viable over the long or even intermediate term. I also don’t see any real future for the place if accreditation is not somehow secured. No matter how good your program may be, degrees will carry little weight in other academic or professional circuits, and there will be no federal student aid or loans available.

        Some good strategic thinking and planning may reveal that this certificate course is just what Cherry Hill needs. Until that process happens, it’s just a dice roll in the dark. There is a habit in the Pagan community of using “build it and they will come” in lieu of an actual business plan, and it has a perfect track record of failure.

        • David Oliver Kling

          You raise some serious questions and comments. I work as a professional chaplain and as such I make my living doing ministry. Most of the faculty at CHS are academics and are not professional clergy; however, I am and that puts me in a unique position. I have advocated for something like the new community ministry program for a very long time at CHS and as the chair of the Ministry, Advocacy, and Leadership department I strive to make this department (and CHS as a whole) relevant to our students and future students. I’m not an M.B.A. but I am an M.Div and training others in clergy skills is what I know. This is precisely why the work at CHS is a collaborative effort because no one person has all the skills necessary to get the “job” done. I bring a piece to the table and everyone else involved brings a piece as well and in the end the work gets done.

          Regarding accreditation, that is a very long and expensive process. I believe the community ministry route that we have added to our curriculum puts CHS is a good place to eventually obtain accreditation. The new program is modeled after other non-accredited programs that have been extremely successful — programs instituted by the United Methodist Church and the Antiochian Orthodox Church. There is precedence out there and WE need not try to reinvent the wheel when there are models we can use as inspiration.

          You seem passionate in your views. Perhaps you can offer your gifts and talents to CHS in an effort to find solutions to the problems our community faces?

  • Damiana

    An interview with Jill Stein? That’s laughable.