ONTARIO — The Great Pagan Roast Series was once again celebrated at this year’s HearthFire Festival Aug. 17–20. The 2017 honouree was Brian Walsh, a storyteller, teacher, Pagan chaplain for the University of Toronto and member of Céilí Sídhe. Walsh has worked as a hospital spiritual care provider for 11 years and counting. He is mainly known for his impressive list of accomplishments and contributions to the Pagan community, and is also loved for his winning smile and rather large collection of vests.
The Great Pagan Roast Series is hosted each year by Crystal Allard and Khaman Mythwood. A member of the local community is selected for the honour of being “roasted,” as a tribute to the contributions they have made to the Pagan community in Ontario. “I was very moved and a little nervous when Crystal Allard asked if I would be this year’s roastee,” said Walsh. “I chose teachers, students and friends, both old and new, to be on my panel: Tamarra James, Sandi Pallister-Gougeon, Franco Minatel, John Corvus Huculiak, Spiros Parashis, and Jade Pichette.”
The roast was preceded by a huge community feast, after which the masters of ceremonies, Jim Findley and Mythwood, took the podium to get the evening started. Walsh recalled, “John shouted ‘vest up!’ and most of the panel pulled vests, seemingly out of nowhere, and put them on – acknowledging, and teasing me for, my love of waistcoats. It was an ‘easy hit’ but also very touching. A few of my roasters took particular delight in reminding me of moments that did not go as planned with hilarious consequences. All the stories that followed — the good, the bad, and the ugly — made me feel really seen.”
The evening wrapped up with Walsh being presented with thoughtful gifts; then the consummate storyteller was finally allowed to say a few words on his own behalf. “In the end I was invited to share a few words, but after all that had been said this storyteller was at a total loss for words and all I could really muster was ‘thank you’ from the bottom of my heart.”
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LAFAYETTE, Ga. — CalderaFest organizer David Banach has announced that the Pagan music festival, which was slated to have its second iteration Oct. 5-9, is now being postponed by more than 19 months and will occur May 23-29 at the same venue, Cherokee Farms.
“At this time we simply do not have enough capital to continue as planned,” Banach wrote in a statement released Thursday on the festival’s Facebook page. Lackluster ticket sales for the event appear to be the most significant factor contributing to the decision, as well as a shortage of volunteers to make the event happen. “Rather than cancelling the festival outright, we have opted instead to move it to a future date to allow more people to make plans to attend,” Banach explained in the statement. “We are carrying over all existing tickets to the new date. If you reserved a hotel room, please make sure to cancel your reservation in time.”
In addition, “The lineup will most likely change somewhat, but I’m hoping to keep as many the same as possible.”
The news led a mix of support for Banach attempting to continue the festival, together with complaints from people who made plans and now find the event significantly postponed, rather than canceled with refunds issued. In that way it’s a echo of feedback of the first CalderaFest. Wild Hunt columnist Manny Tejeda-Moreno reviewed the festival last year, waxing favorably about the music but also noting some logistical challenges, including the red dust which pervaded the site.
It was in hopes of more favorable camping weather in Georgia that the festival was moved to October this year; Banach was seeking cooler temperatures with that switch. As we reported in June 2016, Banach also planned on scaling back the event by reducing the number of vendors and performers. The last 2019 dates have been selected to build a theme around the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Art Festival, which performer Damh the Bard compared the first CalderaFest during his performance.
A few hours after the original announcement, Banach posted a message that read in part, “Please understand that we are only two people and we don’t have a big corporation behind us or anything. We’re doing our best.”
We will update this story as more information becomes available.
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In an update to our story about a deaf Pagan seeking accommodations and threatening to sue the Louisville Pagan Pride organization for declining to provide them, a statement has been released from the offices of the Pagan Pride Project, which supports this and many other pride events.
“The Pagan Pride Project takes seriously any legal requirements to provide reasonable accommodations to the guests who come to our events,” the statement begins. “Many great ideas have been presented in this discussion and discussions on other forums. The Pagan Pride Project will incorporate those ideas into its ongoing efforts to ensure its events are open to all.
“Pagan Pride Days operate on very limited budgets and can only provide resources to the extent that funding is provided to the event from the community. However, the Pagan Pride Project remains committed to finding reasonable accommodations for those who require them.”
In other news
- Circle Sanctuary ministers are organized to provide support to Texans inundated by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. A statement released through the organization provides some specifics: “Whether its you or your loved ones, know that you can reach out to a member of the Circle Sanctuary ministry team by phone or by email. . . . The team member will reach out to talk with you and offer support and guidance. While we understand that these times are not stable, we will need to know when is the best time and how is the best way to reach you. . . . Our efforts are not limited to Pagans or to members of the Circle Sanctuary community. If you or your loved ones, family members, or friends are in need of confidential counseling, feel free to reach out to us. If you’ve been displaced, you are an emergency/aid responder, or you have suffered some sort of damage as the result of the hurricane, reach out. . . . by calling or texting 608-270-8439 or by emailing reliefsupport@
- Denver-area Hellenic polytheists might now find co-religionists gathering as a new proto-demos organized under the auspices of Hellenion, name for Hera Akreia, which means “of the heights.” The reconstructionist group, which was incorporated in 2001, now has one demos and 11 proto-demoi. Proto-demoi can be formed by any Hellenion member in good standing, but the process to charter a demos requires the participation of at least three members in good standing that do not all share a single address.
- While he definitely won’t be performing at CalderaFest in 2017, Damh the Bard has not been idle. His new album, Y Mabinogi – The First Branch – Pwyll and Rhiannon, will be released on Sept. 22 and will soon be available for pre-orders via his web site. It’s the first of four planned albums which set the entire Mabinogion to music. “”I have been dreaming about this project for over 20 years,” he said, “and am so excited to have finished the first album. I can’t wait for people to hear it! These are the tales of so many gods, goddesses and heroes the names of which are spoken every day by Pagans all across the world.” Here is a taste: