UNITED STATES – “We boarded up the house and we left town because our house isn’t (concrete) block construction, it’s wood. We live in an area where there are lots of trees and we weren’t confident that a cat 3, 4, or whatever hit land that we would be safe,” said Kathy Lezon, a priestess from Vero Beach, located on Florida’s Treasure Coast.


Hurricane Matthew 2016 [Courtesy NASA/ GSFC]

Hurricane Matthew was a slow-moving behemoth of a storm that flared up on Sept. 28 and quickly shot up to hurricane status, at one point topping off the scale as a category 5 storm with sustained winds of 160 mph before weakening slightly to a category 4 before making landfall in Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and bouncing along the Florida coast before skirting north along the Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina coastline. It also affected areas well beyond those that were directly impacted.

Matthew was the first category 5 storm to form in the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007.

The biggest impact was felt in Haiti, where over a thousand people are now reported to have been killed by the storm. Haiti, which has struggled to rebuild after a massive earthquake struck in 2010, was ill-prepared to withstand a direct hit from Matthew. Without key infrastructure in place and with no protections for personal property, many Haitians were loathe to evacuate their homes. There were also some rumors that Haitians were unaware or only vaguely aware that there was a storm incoming. More on the Haitian relief efforts will follow below.

Meanwhile in the United States the impacts were variable. We spoke with a number of Pagans about their experience. Those in the very southern parts of Florida reported heavy rains and wind with sporadic power outages.

As Matthew’s forecast direction shifted west, then east, then west again with each new update, Floridians were up late into the night on Thursday watching progress. Fortunately, the storm stayed offshore for most of its track along the the U.S. coastline.

Kathy Lezon said that after boarding up her house, she, her partner, and their dog packed up a camper and headed for the west part of the state to stay at a campground.

As of Monday afternoon, she was still waiting on power to be restored at their home. Many houses in Florida, especially in more rural areas, rely on well water which is normally run by electrical pumps. That is what Lezon is facing.

“No electricity means no air conditioning, which is not a big deal if you can take a shower but when your well pump doesn’t work it’s pretty gross, no toilets, no showers,” Lezon said.

Amber Moon, who is also a Treasure Coast resident and police officer, said she worked through the entire storm.

“We had to help with evacuations and shelter security, things like that. I pretty much boarded up my house on Wednesday, sent my 11 year old son to leave the state with his grandmother and I went to work and we’ve pretty much worked straight through. I’ve been at work since Monday (October 3) and will work straight through until Saturday (October 15) which will be my first day off,” Moon said.

Lezon and Moon are both coordinators of the Treasure Coast Pagan Pride Day, which is scheduled for Saturday, October 15. There were some fears that damage to the park would prevent the celebration from happening. But a Facebook announcement on the Treasure Coast Pagan Pride Day event page said, “We hope everyone is okay after Hurricane Matthew. We have just received word that there was no damage at The Savanna’s Recreation Area!!! So, we are a go for Saturday! Spread the word. Come out, relax and enjoy a day off!”

A live oak tree narrowly missed a house that belonged to a Mr. Righter in Saint Augustine, Florida. He sat by the tree and sang hymnals after the storm.

A live oak tree narrowly missed a house belonging to a Mr. Righter in Saint Augustine, Florida. He sat by the tree and sang hymns after the storm. [Courtesy Lupa]

Lupa, a witch living further north in Saint Augustine, Florida, said, “Entire sections of A1A Beach Blvd are missing, and most of the businesses on the beach side (including the bar where I met my hunny) are still inoperable. Downtown, the historic district… I cried driving through.

“My home and family were safe, thank Goddess, but I’m in mourning for the town and all its history,” she said.

Lupa shared a photo of an enormous live oak that fell down, ripping up the sidewalk nearby and narrowly missing a house where a man she knows as Mr. Righter lives. She said that it’s a stone’s throw from an entrance to the nearby Florida School for the Deaf and Blind where her parents have worked for more than 12 years.

“He was actually home at the time, having stayed there through it all. My mother and I called him a crazy old coot and sat while he sung a beautiful hymnal (sic) to us, with this huge tree just sitting behind him,” Lupa added..

A large live oak tree was knocked over in Meg Knunya's neighbor's yard. [Courtesy M. Knunya]

A large live oak tree was knocked over in Meg Knunya’s neighbor’s yard. [Courtesy M. Knunya]

Only 40 miles north of St. Augustine, Meg Knunya, Facilitator of Jacksonville CUUPS, was experiencing her first hurricane with Matthew.

“I thought I was prepared,” she said, “we bought a solar panel system and a backup generator for when the power goes out.”

Only right before the storm did she realize that the battery was not installed with the generator, so they wouldn’t have power during or after the storm.

“My plan had been to hunker down in place but then as the storm progressed towards us I started getting a little panicky that they were saying it’s going to be worse than predicted,” Knunya said.

With few options locally, she packed up her two kids, dog, and four cats on Thursday night and tried to drive out of the path of the storm.

“I was totally unprepared for a bug-out situation because it was so last minute. There were no hotels so we slept in the car,” she said. Eventually they settled down in a campground in Georgia where they had to camp with a tarp because in the last-minute scramble to escape, they didn’t bring a tent.

“I found the whole thing very humbling, as Pagans we like to live within nature and honor nature. Sometimes, nature is destructive and nature is terrifying. It really kind of knocks you down and makes you see how insignificant us mere mortals are. I’d like to think some of the warding spells and some of the protection spells I put on my house helped but who really knows. I had no damage, it’s just scary to think that your whole life could just be uprooted in an instant, and you’re not in control,” Knunya said.

Knunya is back home now, where she had some downed branches, though she was trying to figure out how to get to work after a local bridge was down after massive flooding.

Alyce's covenmate, Wessa O'Wynn provided this photo of flooding in her home in New Burn, NC.

Alyce’s covenmate, Wessa O’Wynn provided this photo of flooding in her home in Washington, NC. [Courtesy Photo]

Just as in Florida, people were packing up and leaving the low-lying coastal areas of South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina.

“My friends that live in New Bern, the National Guard evacuated them and they had to spend the night in a shelter, it was not a voluntary evacuation, they demanded that they leave,” said Alyce Rohan, Priestess Initiate of Triskele Rose Witchcraft. Rohan lives about 80 miles away from New Bern in Rocky Point, North Carolina.

Rohan reported that they were still without power as of Sunday night, with no word on when it may be restored.

“I work at General Electric and they closed the plant down on Saturday, which they never do. It’s an aircraft engine parts plant and they never do that,” she said.

Rohan reported that there were some trees down in her neighborhood, including one that had taken out a neighbor’s garage. She said that she placed crystals at the corners of her property and wrote runes on trees which came out mostly unscathed.

During the storm, she said, “I woke up in the middle of the night and when I went out to go charge my phone, something told me not to go outside. I’m very close with the fey in my neighborhood and had a feeling they were doing something to protect the house. It was strange, it felt like I was being protected.”

Social media ended up being a very important organizing tool for many communities.

Rohan said that Facebook was a great tool for checking in, saying, “We have done the ‘count your self safe’ post. And people have been offering help twixt each other. (Private messages) as well. Electronic age, now we all be!”

Similarly, Knunya said that her community in Jacksonville, Florida has been pretty tight throughout the storm. In addition to prayers and energy work, she said, “many have extended their homes to others, offering others in the community either a place to stay, or at the very least a place to store their food or take a shower or use their internet.”

Lezon said that in Florida’s Treasure Coast people were pitching in and offering to assist one another with prep work as well as cleanup and recover.

“People from Miami to Jacksonville kept in touch with how things were going with storm prep and then on Thursday through Friday, kept in touch with each other as the storm moved up the coast. Its really helpful to know there’s a whole line of people looking out for your safety and well being!”

Meanwhile, in Haiti, the situation is different, and remains extremely dire. More than 1000 people have lost their lives there so far and some aid officials have said that some areas of the country are up to 90% destroyed. Now, doctors in Haiti are warning that an outbreak of cholera, a disease spread by contaminated water, is imminent.

“I really left my heart in Haiti in a lot of ways, seeing the pictures that are coming out of Haiti, it breaks my heart,” said Peter Dybing, an eclectic Pagan and chief officer on a national disaster team. He spent time in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that leveled parts of the country.

Haiti 2016 after Hurricane Matthew [Photo Credit: UK-DFID]

Haiti 2016 after Hurricane Matthew [Photo Credit: UK-DFID]

A close friend of his, Mandy Thody, is the administrative director for a small nonprofit in the country, on the island of Ile-a-Vache, called Good Samaritan Foundation for Haiti. He said that Thody was on the island when it got hit by the storm, and the island is decimated. Fortunately, her daughter received a text message that she was okay, however the situation on the island is not.

Dybing urged people in the Pagan community to donate, but to carefully consider which organizations they send their money.

“I would strongly urge the Pagan community that I know what’s going on with small nonprofits in Haiti. This is the place where the money’s going to make a difference,” he said.

When making donations, he said that “focused giving” is the most effective.

“Small mobile nonprofits that are already on the ground, they’re already doing good work, [they] are completely involved in the community’s rebuilding. That’s what focused giving is. A great example of how the organization I’m working with now controls costs, when they get a bunch of relief supplies now instead of spending money on shipping containers and imports and all that, they get a volunteer flotilla of boats, sailboats using wind power to bring supplies to this island,” he said.

After a joint investigative piece by NPR and ProPublica found that very little of the money donated to the Red Cross actually found its way to Haiti in the five years following the 2010 earthquake,some are concerned about how or where to offer monetary assistance.

“Large organizations like that have what’s called a long logistics tail. Which means while people are in crisis that it takes weeks, sometimes months for them to set up their infrastructure,” Dybing said.

One frequently-seen post on social media was from people criticizing those who didn’t evacuate. Dybing said that when, “we’re talking about relocating, or moving out of the way we’re talking about people who have resources, that’s a comment that comes from people who have privilege.”

There are no credit cards and if the limited amount of money that people have is needed for something else, their family may not eat for five days, he added.

“There are no soup kitchens or anywhere else you can go to fix that. The choices that people face are incredibly traumatic in staying where they are and protecting the absolute, very little that they have, versus abandoning it and knowing it will all be gone when they come back because their house will be ransacked, unprotected,” Dybing said.

He said that he’s supporting his friend’s group, Good Samaritan Foundation for Haiti.

“(It) has no paid employees except for the local teachers at the school and those are Haitians that are being paid,” he said.

“From the very first moment of the earthquake to this specific moment the small tiny nonprofit on the ground, doing the work, building the schools, feeding the children creating sustainability programs is where ethical money spent on Haiti goes,” he said.

[The Wild Hunt is your Pagan and Heathen news source, bringing you unique stories of both triumph and tragedy that come from our collective communities. Since last October, in one year, we have served you 380 original stories, both news and commentary. Today’s story is number 381. Would you like another 380? Maybe more? This work takes time and money. Your support is what makes it possible.This is your community; TWH is your community news. Donate today! Thank you.]

2000px-seal_of_pennsylvania-svgLA BELLE, Penn. — The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has approved one Wiccan inmate’s request for religious accommodations. Richard K. McCullough, who has been in prison for several decades, has reportedly been practicing Wicca for 30 years. In July, he was informed that the department has finally permitted his facility, SCA Fayette, to allow the “General Population inmates who identify with Wicca to communally view or listen to approved religious audio visual resources.”

In a letter to The Wild Hunt, Mr. McCullough wrote, “Ten years ago, I began a journey. One that would take me up and down, left and right, back and forth […] and in and out of the process of obtaining legitimacy, and acknowledgement of the Wiccan religion in prison.” In a 2007 article for a newsletter printed by “The Pennsylvania Prison Society,” Mr. McCullough described that journey, saying that he has been teaming up with people struggling with the same problem, and working to educate others about his beliefs.

The official letter of approval came July 8, 2016. Along with allowing Wiccan inmates to view recorded materials, the letter confirms their right to “practice [their] faith by obtaining religious, books, securing the services of a religious adviser, and participating in individual devotional practices in the privacy of his cell or dormitory quarters.” As a result, McCullough and others have formed the Alternative Spirituality Grove, using Wiccan songs and meditations “found on their tablets.”

But their struggle is not completely over. The department declined the request for “separate religious services and study groups […] until that time when an outside volunteer faith representative has been located to lead them.” However, McCullough remains upbeat saying, “What we have received thus far is a giant ‘baby step’ toward our overall goal, full ceremonies and services.” That, he says, is the next step in their work.

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table-to-action-project-logoSAN FRANCISCO –  Aline O’Brien, also known as M. Macha Nightmare, recently attended a Table to Action meeting, a new interfaith and social justice project co-sponsored by the New York-based Auburn Theological Seminary. When she received the invitation, O’Brien was unsure of what the event entailed. “I really didn’t know quite what to expect,” she wrote on her blog.

The Table to Action concept is based on supporting positive communication over an evening meal. The website states that the project is a “friendship-inspired initiative that brings together leaders of faith, vision, and moral courage […] to build relationships that shape and sustain movements for social change. We do this by gathering for dinner parties that involve good food, great conversation and lots of dreaming.”

As O’Brien reports, the first initiative was held in Chicago and a second one in Atlanta. The event that she attended was the first of its kind in the Bay Area. She did report that “they plan more in other cities.” In her blog post, she details more about the event as well her observations on the religious diversity, or lack thereof, present at the Bay Area forum.

In the end, O’Brien was positive about her experience and the potential for this type of interfaith work. She said, “I’m eager to see what Table to Action does and to participate to the extent that a congregation-less Pagan can.”

*   *   *

2000px-Pentacle_on_white.svgUNITED KINGDOM – The Telegraph and several other U.K. based news sources have been reporting that a group of Witches in Scotland planned a magical working to force Donald Trump out of the U.S. presidential race. On Oct 7, The Telegraph reported, “Donald Trump faces new threat as witches and pagans plan to ‘exert mental influence’ to persuade him to quit.” Several other outlets have since picked up that story.

After numerous attempts,The Wild Hunt was unable to reach this particular group or its reported founder, Peter Gower. They have no known affiliations to other public Pagan groups that could be identified, either in the U.K. or the U.S. However, we did learn that the reported call-to-action was made via a press release sent to The Telegraph and to several bloggers.

It is still unclear whether the reported press release was announcing a true campaign, or if it was a hoax or a joke similar to the one issued in July over Instagram by a cartoon artist. Regardless, it would not be the first time that Witches or Pagans have used magic to affect elections, political processes, or even influence Donald Trump’s campaign. As reported by Jezebel in 2015, Brooklyn Witches were hexing Trump’s campaign last fall. We will report on this story further as needed.

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In Other News:

  • This weekend’s 2016 Atlanta Pagan Pride Day event will be holding a special celebration. Attendees will be marking the 40th anniversary of Church of Ravenwood. The tradition was founded by Lady Sintana in 1976, and eventually went on to become the first Pagan church in Georgia recognized by the IRS. Lady Sintana and Ravenwood’s early ground breaking work paved the way for the many other Pagan organizations in the region.
  • Immanion Press announced that it has launched publication of a new Pagan children’s book series. According to the website, “each book in the Pagan Children Learning Series is a beginner’s introduction that allows room for discussion of your family’s own beliefs.” The first book published is titled What is an Altar? and was written by Rowan Moss and illustrated by T.S. Lamb. However, this book is the fourth produced by Moss and Lamb. Immanion informed TWH that it is planning to re-publish those in the future as well.
  • For those interested in the PAEAN online conference co-sponsored by the Pagan Federational International, the deadline for submissions has been extended to Oct. 15. This year’s theme is titled: Pilgrimage in Europe: Ancient and Contemporary Pagan Pilgrimage Practices. The day-long online conference itself will be held Nov. 7.
  • The Witches Almanac 2017-2018 is now available for purchase. The popular guide has been in print since 1971, making it one of the oldest and longest running publicly available Pagan print media. This year’s issue is titled, “Water: Our Primal Source.”
  • Similarly, the Gerald B. Gardner 2017 Calendar is available to order. GBG “Year and a Day” Calendar has been in print since 2011, and is filled with articles, history, feast day information and more. It features photographs of Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente and other figures in Pagan history. As creator Link wrote, “this year’s the calendar features Dayonis and Jack Bracelin, High Priestess and High Priest of  Gerald Gardner’s Bricket Wood coven in England. 2017 is the first year where both a HPS and HP were featured.”
  • Lastly, here are some photos from the 2016 Los Angeles / Orange County Pagan Pride Day festival courtesy of LA/OC PPD official photographer, Greg Harder [All Rights Reserved]:

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Correction 10/10 8:03 p.m
: An earlier version of this article noted that What is an Altar is the first book in the Immanion Press Pagan children’s book series. We contacted Immanion to confirm earlier information sent to TWH. Publisher Taylor Ellwood clarified.The book is, in fact, the first to be published by Immanion, but it is the fourth written by Moss and Lamb. We have clarified the note above.

SEATTLE — Over the weekend, the Pagan community in the pacific northwest learned that one of its beloved members, a fellow teacher, talented artist, and close friend, had committed suicide. Since then, shock has rolled through the community, turning into expressions of deep sadness.

Writer Rhyd Wildermuth posted, “The last time I saw you, you gave me a huge hug and called me ‘big brother’ like you always did, and then said, ‘I feel like I’ll never see you again.’ I smiled and laughed it off. Of course we‘d see each other again […] I was fucking wrong.”

[Courtesy S. Barnett / Linked In]

[Courtesy S. Barnett / Linked In]

“Hi. I’m Seb.”

Seb Barnett was born on a farm nestled at the edge of the Pacific Northwest’s Olympic National Forest with its temperate rain forests and majestic mountain peaks. Seb’s childhood was spent in the woods climbing trees, tracking animals, building forts, fishing, and exploring.

In addition, Seb’s world was filled with creating and making art. “I have been making things with my hands since I could hold a pencil. And the more things I create… the more I want to create,” wrote Seb in their Patreon account overview.

And create Seb did. However, as noted in a 2016 Miroir interview, Seb did not define themselves as an artist until 2005. “Before 2005, art was just about me. The mentality that made it more occurred when I started thinking about the impact my art could have on others.”

In 2006, Seb earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from the Cornish College of the Arts in 2006. While attending, they were awarded both the Kreielsheimer and President’s scholarships.

It wasn’t long before Seb was showing in exhibitions. Their first solo show was at the Seattle Georgetown Arts and Cultural Center in 2008, only two years after graduation. From that point forward, Seb continued to exhibit work annually, including shows in New York City and Vancouver.

Seb’s work found its way into print. In 2012, their work appeared in a book titled, “Ink on Paper: The Mary Alice Cooley Print Collection.” More recently, Seb was the featured artist for Hello Horror‘s 2015 Spring issue. Then, in early 2016, Seb’s work was published in the February issue of Miroir magazine, including a brief interview. Seb’s piece, titled “Butterflies,” graces the magazine’s cover.


Regardless of all the success and notoriety, Seb was still working to make ends meet as a professional artist. To assist, Seb opened a Patreon account through which their art could be showcased, sponsored, and shared. On the overview page, Seb explained, “One of the best things about this Patreon is that I’ll let you into my world. My world is full of magical ideas, philosophies, and lots and lots of techniques! Not only will I tell you why I make what I make, I will also tell you how.”

Along with being a prolific artist, Seb was also a practicing shaman and spiritual teacher, who “was always able to see spirits” despite a general Christian upbringing. On their website Green Stag Spiritwork, Seb explains their practice: “I do not follow the shamanic traditions of any one culture or people, as I was not mentored by another shaman or indigenous community. I feel that for me to do so would be a disingenuous impersonation. I am an American born of the temperate rainforests of western Washington.”

Seb held workshops and classes on various topics from meditation to divination. Through the Green Stag site, they sold prints depicting various gods, as well as handcrafted jewelry, medicine bags, and other items.

Seb’s upbringing and childhood experiences reflect not only their spiritual work and journey, but also in their creative work. Seb wrote, “The natural world became a great source of fascination” and it’s “tightly woven into [my] art.”

Many works feature plants growing out of the human body, or resting on it and around it. In these cases, the natural is literally penetrating humanity and engulfing it. While these images can be disturbing to view, they are peaceful and invigorating at the same time. And that is the very line that Seb’s work walked, and walked proudly: the strange and the lovely; the unknowable and the knowable.

In a blog post, Seb wrote: “What is often perceived as different, strange, unknowable or unexplainable is easy to be terrified of. However, when we have the chance to know these beings, (or people) we may find that what we thought was malice, was only them being curious. What we perceive as offensive, may just be scared of us. Act first with peace in mind, and be ready for friendship.”

Seb Barnett - The Now 8x10

“The Now” [All Rights Reserved. Copyright S. Barnett]

Seb’s success and vibrancy had no sign of stopping. In fact, Seb was hosting a nine-week S\shamanism class for beginners at the Sacred Garden Healing Center in Seattle. On October 14, Urban Light Studios was to exhibit Seb’s solo show titled De Trop. The studio advertised the event, explaining, “Seb examines what it means to be considered ‘de trop’ (in French, this translates to ‘too much’) in a vast, ever-changing emotional spectrum of day-to-day life.” And, Seb’s last post on Facebook, dated Oct. 5, demonstrates a real excitement for that exhibition.

However, something changed.

News of the suicide came on Oct. 8, shocking both the local art and Pagan communities alike. In a Facebook tribute, Brennos Agrocunos wrote that having Seb as a friend was a “fabulous prize.” Agrocunos wrote, “This world is hard and getting harder. We need more beauty, more art, more love, more wild. We need to hold each other close and make the world safer for people that don’t fit a mold. My heart aches.”

In another public tributeEric Angus Jeffords wrote, “Goodbye, Seb Barnett. My Big Queer Sibling. My Awkward Artist. My Beautiful Tree Person. My Urban Shaman with the Green Hair. You have returned to your grove, and I will sit under your branches and listen to your voice murmuring through the pines. I will read your words in the insects that crawl along the ground. I will smell you in the winds, and in the flowers. I will feel you in the bark and the stones. You have returned to where you were birthed. The leaves never looked so green.”

The sadness has come in waves, being expressed over social media and well beyond as people come to grips with this loss. Seb Barnett was a deeply loved person, a friend, a teacher, an artist, and a “modern shaman practicing old school shamanism.” Seb’s spirit will live on in the natural world of their birth, in their visual art, and in their words:

I want to honor pain, grief, ‘monsters,’ the strange, and the outsiders by portraying them in a beautiful, but also honest way. […] ‘Come here, this is beautiful… but wait, it’s also painful.’

There are some people who are so magical that we break reality. Rules don’t apply to us in the same way, and the laws of the universe warp like mirages in the heat of the intensity of us.  Do not wish to be like us. We break harder, love harder, die repeatedly to only continue living, and are alien in a world that won’t believe in us. We are mythic.”

What is remembered, lives.

*   *   *

A memorial fund has been set up to help cover funeral expenses. No date has yet been published for any public services, rituals or memorials

[Guest voices are a key part of The Wild Hunt’s mission. Today we welcome Katrina Messenger. Katrina is a certified archetypal and dream pattern analyst. As a Wiccan mystic, she works extensively with mythology, dreams, ritual and trance as a means of self exploration, self healing and self evolution. She believes that any attempt to change the external world must be paired with the inner work of a personal spiritual practice. If you enjoy her work and reading other guest writings, consider donating to The Wild Hunt, and when you do let us know if about other voices you’d like to see here.]


The world is changing. It is undergoing tremendous change, upheaval, growth, chaos, evolution and decay. It is a time of immense transformation. And what if you are a mystic — a mystic and a witch? What is the role of a mystic during such a madness? And what exactly do mystics do?

The last one is actually the question that I get most often. It is a fair question, I suppose, but I have no idea what mystics do. I only know what I do.

And this mystic begins her day by noticing the quality of the light. Sometimes I do it from my bed, noticing the reflections on the walls or the shelves but mostly on my books which are everywhere.

[Photo Credit: smilla4 / Flickr]

[Photo Credit: smilla4 / Flickr]

I tend to inhabit at least two worlds at once, because to paraphrase Marie Louise Von Franz, “When you pay attention to your dreams, your waking world takes on the character of dreams.” And for me this means that I dream while I am awake. My waking world is filled with symbols, images, patterns, messages and meaning, and my challenge as a mystic is to experience each of them as deeply and sincerely as I can.

When I first come downstairs, I sometimes briefly open the door just to look out at the world. I notice the colors of the trees, the bushes, the flowers, the squirrels, the birds, and any late-returning raccoons or possums wobbling back to their urban hiding places. If it is warm, I leave the door open so I can swim in the sounds of the city/forest.

Besides seeking to return to source, most mystics on the surface play vastly different roles. Depending on the theology of their faith tradition, our practices may vary as well. But nowadays what was once considered mystical practices, texts and teaching can be had for a few shekels on Amazon. What distinguishes mystics from others is that as we climb up the middle pillar, we tend to all have a consensus on what is within the human heart and what is true about the world we inhabit. We all tend to be just a little off, a little uncanny — okay we tend to become crazed in our joy, compassion and grief.

When I am relatively healthy, I can be found dancing within blowing leaves, or having animated discussions with stones. My recent pain levels keep me mostly home bound, but I can still hold a vigorous debate with the local squirrels. And I have been known to snatch an intrusion off a stranger or two as I walk by. Just cleaning up the local flora I say.

The phone rings.  “Katrina, do you have a moment?”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“I don’t know why, but at this very moment everything seems like it is too much for me. I have been crying for no good reason. Why is my life such a mess?”

“Okay. So tell me what in your life is such a mess?”

And I listen. I am listening at multiple levels. What is said, what is felt, what flies past my door, the sounds of the birds, and trucks, the smell of the flowers and empty stoves.

“So tell me again what is such a mess?”

“Well, now that I have walked through everything…I have a lot on my plate, but nothing is actually a mess.”

“Hmmm, I think you forget sometimes that you are an empath.”

“Oh yeah.  So what I am feeling is….?”

“The collective soul of this city I think. We are in the nation’s capital, after all.”

I see his energy brighten as the cardinal lands on the railing. He is relived.

Now is time for some tea. I am not sure, but I think tea must have been invented by a mystic. It is the glue that holds me together. My students always check the state of my tea cup as they enter. “Greetings, teacher. Do you need some tea?”

[Photo Credit: jennlynndesign / Flickr]

[Photo Credit: jennlynndesign / Flickr]

I scan the news, the memes, the personal revelations, the jokes and even the contributions of the trolls. All of this input feeds into the flow of sounds, images, emotions, smells and body sensations. Most of us project our internal conflicts on to the world, finding suitable vessels for all our unconscious content. Empaths introject the miasma of the world inside of themselves and become infected with the madness. Mystics rely on their inner state to help them comprehend patterns in the world, and then work with these patterns within the flow of stimulus flowing in from the world all around them. The tree becomes the survivor, the truck the interloper, the crow becomes the messenger and the clouds are the bystanders.

I have refereed discussions between oil and water, the desert and the clouds, and the indigenous and the colonizer. “Where are our agreements”, I ask of fire and trees. And sometimes, as I work with my clients, I can calm a storm a thousand miles away.

“I am sitting on a wall at the edge of the cemetery. The maitre’d promises that my spot will be available very soon.”

My client looks uncomfortable with the imagery of this dream. I am uncomfortable as well. I cannot clearly see her face; it is occluded somehow.

“So what do you think it means?”

“I am not sure, that is why I brought it to you.”

“Well we know that a cemetery is where we bury our dead.”


“So dreams often begin by setting the domain of the image, so here your dreaming self is saying we are in the place where we bury what is no longer alive.”

She looks at the floor. Her eyes are glistening. “Does this mean I am going to die?”

“No. What it is saying is that you are not actually living. You are waiting to be buried.”

She wipes her eyes. “But I do not want to be buried.”

“Good.” We then discuss ways to actually engage with life on its own terms.

The whole time as I energetically hold her I am also gently rocking the families of fallen. We are sitting in my living room but we are also inside a great temple, a mosque, a church and a synagogue. As the voices are raised in song, she begins to slowly swing her feet in rhythm to the silent hymns.

Slowly her face is revealed to me. Whatever was blocking her is lifting just enough, and her spark is slightly more pronounced. This is why she returns. For now, I am her link to life. Later she will reconnect on her own. I hug her as she leaves. I see her stepping into the flow of life as the sound of her car blends into the gentle cacophony of my street.

All of the images, symbols and insights influence my teachings, writings and workings. My workings are somewhat sympathetic. When you swim inside the ethereal, thought forms have substance; I can manipulate them directly.

“I need more tea.”

As I pour the water into the kettle it becomes a waterfall and all the downstream waters are being fed by this new source of clean water. I am pushing the pollutants toward the soil that can reclaim it, transform it … over time.  “Oh Mother Gaia…” and the kettle is full.

I open the back door as the birds scatter from the nest in the awning. I can smell the honeysuckle wafting on the breeze. Sweetness comes in over the mountains bringing relief to the grief stricken families. Memories of their loved ones from better times, as I reach for the almost-empty honey jar. I scrape out what I can into my mug.

The kettle water is warm enough, I think, to melt the remaining honey bits. As I swirl the jar in one hand, I reach for the cap, and it happens. The jar explodes in my hand. There are shards, glass shards, everywhere. I am extremely startled. I quickly drop the shards from my hands into the rubbish and rush to the living room.

[Photo Credit: wallpoper.com]

[Photo Credit: wallpoper.com]

I pick up the tablet, and it is another man down. “No, no, no…” I let the tablet fall into the chair and I rush to the front door. I do not open it. Instead I press my crown into the hard wood. They have killed another black man. I can feel a wail in my chest slowly working its way up. Tears are pouring from my eyes and the entire world is spinning out of control.

Slowly I notice that a sound that was present is now gone. The kettle, the water is now hot. I slowly stumble toward the kitchen. There is broken glass everywhere. “Everything is broken and falling apart.” The wail is still rising. I grab the broom and sweep up the glass. I push the glass on the counter into the trash can.

I put the teabag in and reach for the new jar of honey. I pour a bit more honey and then the hot water into my mug. I lift the mug with my right hand, using my left to hit the timer and then the light switch. I step over the threshold, and very deliberately place my mug on the table next to my chair.

Sitting sideways I rest my head on the back cushion. In my mind’s eye, the face of current victim morphs into my younger brother, then my older brother…black men dying on the city streets. I see my brother Winfard’s face as the blood pools around him. And I am losing ground… I see my youngest brother and the fear clogs my throat. I see my nephews and their sons, uncles and friends…and then I see Sandra Bland and it is my blessed niece’s face that takes my breath away. I see my cousins, and their precious children and all the grandchildren…and I am falling. All of them, every single one of them is in danger of being murdered. I see all of them, one by one, bleeding on the asphalt with no one to hold them, to keep them safe, to comfort them… and the darkness reaches for me.

I know I need help; I am too far down. The wailing begins, I am screaming in pain, agony, rage and fear. I silently call to my patrons. I call them by name, by blood, by skin color and symbol, and they rush toward me.

We got you, sister. We got you, daughter. We got you, honey. We got you, Kathy. We got you. And I can feel them holding on as the darkness swallows me. At some point, I am only breathing. They are holding on to me, keeping me from slipping away.

And so I breathe, and for a long time, it is only the sound of my breath. Then almost imperceptibly I realize that I can actually sense the entire room breathing, then the entire house, the entire block, and soon the entire city. As I continue, I am breathing with the entire eastern seaboard, the eastern half of the U.S., the whole country, adding in both Canada and Mexico, adding both Central and South America, and finally the world. Then I am breathing with the moon, the inner planets, with Mars, the sun, the entire solar system, the arm of the Milky Way, the galaxy, ’til all of the known is breathing, in and out.

Slowly it begins to pull back until it is just my house, my room and then just me still being held within a loving embrace and breathing. I slowly open my eyes and I am back. I wipe my face and blow my nose. I notice the wisps of steam from my mug. I smile slightly and take a sip. Delicious.

There is a knock at the door. I open it smiling with my entire body.

“Katrina, Hey!”

“Come on in, welcome.  Would you like some tea?”

And the work of this mystic continues once again.


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The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.

[Manny Tejeda-Moreno is one of our talented columnists. If you like his writing, consider donating to The Wild Hunt. Each and every day, you will receive original content, both news and commentary, with a focus on Pagans, Heathens and polytheists worldwide. Your support makes it all happen, and every dollar counts. This is your community; TWH is your community news source. Donate today and share our link! Thank you.]

befunky-design2This essay was hijacked; ripped right away from me as I wrote it. This essay was supposed to have been about listening to ancestors, spirits and even deities. I started to write when I visited a web site with a podcast and, in one of the drop-down menus was the selection of “How to Listen,” and I thought that was important.

But, the veil may be pulling away thinner and faster than in other years, and so the hijacking started. The little signs appeared, whispers, finding old photos, news and texts all distracting me in different directions. This is not helpful as you try to focus. Information on the radio. The chatter of ancestors and spirit. Finally, a phone survey about dying.

Seriously, for whoever is listening, was yet another phone survey really necessary? Apparently so, because I wasn’t getting enough of them living in a big-prize political battleground state.

Dulle Griet by Pieter Bruegel the Elder [Public Domain]

About thirty years ago, I had the conversation about death and dying with my then-partner. He had been diagnosed with HIV spectrum disease and his death was matter of time. We didn’t know the bus number, but we knew the bus. The treatments for HIV/AIDS then were haphazard. The scientific community was just wrapping itself around the scope of the problem, let alone the concrete solutions to arresting the virus.

I was a doctoral student at the time, taking courses in advanced immunology as part of rotations in our medical school for statistical training. In one particular course on virus-host interactions, it was mathematically clear to me that my partner’s chances for managing the disease were slim at best. There was simply too much on the scales tipping them in the direction of death.

Luckily, I didn’t have to broach the death conversation. He laid it out straightforwardly. He detailed with exceptional precision the conditions under which he would take his own life, or expected the plug to be pulled.

To complicate matters, or perhaps reinforce them, he was a pharmacist. He had the full American pharmacopeia literally at his fingertips. He had already acquired the necessary cocktail should what he called the “exit circumstances” ever occur.

He was also a Christian, and was well resigned that he was going to purgatory. He had accepted that the sum of sins in his life were potentially forgivable, but his soul would — and as he would argue should — remain unclean and barred from entering heaven until his transgressions were expunged. He believed — like many in the Abrahamic faiths– that we are the stewards, but not owners, of our lives. And euthanasia, in the human context, is suicide, an essential contradiction of a life-affirming plan laid out by the Abrahamic god at the time of creation.

He was also worried about complicity. Those who might voluntarily cooperate if and when he took his own life, would also expose themselves to serious sin. Failing to intervene, or even waiting until no rescue was possible, was a contravening behavior to proactively seeking and sustaining life. Therefor, all of those around him, who knew of his plan, were at risk of corruption, and thus condemned to atone for their sins. Some of which also required a stay in purgatory.  At least that’s what he thought.

To be clear, though, he wasn’t particularly worried about me; I was already going to hell. You know, the witch thing. Ultimately, the disease took his mind long before he could execute any plan. The sin, in his faith, was the thought, not that action. When his body succumbed it was from disease, not planning.

My godmother died at about the same time. She was loud, loving and irritating with a special penchant to test new recruits to our Ile, our “house,” the immediate spiritual community in Lukumi. This became especially true in the last decade of her life as her health problems started to gain prominence. She would lecture to potential members of her house and then start to complain that she wasn’t feeling well and that her back was acting up again. Then a few moments later she would say, “well, that’s that, time to” do ____” — some mildly strenuous yet wholly-inappropriate chore that she shouldn’t be doing in the first place, such as mowing the lawn. (Well, she’d say it, but in Spanish).

Inevitably, one potential member would unwaveringly come to her assistance. Then she would pull a Norma Desmond for dramatic attention to her health, but reject the help sternly, noting, “Thank you, but I don’t want your help.”

They would go to help anyway. And she would do some part of the work, shaking her head in disappointment. Others would come and in just a few minutes, what would have taken her a couple of hours to complete, was done by a group of well-meaning helpers. Then, when the task was done, she would ice the room into paralysis: “I can’t learn what I need if I’m not allowed to try but more importantly, I can teach you nothing if you refuse to listen.”

It was a comment that was met with anger and confusion, but it was also true. Embedded in that comment was single call to action that often escaped the person listening to it: Trust me that I’m telling you the truth.

[Photo Credit: Brandon Godfrey / Wikimedia]

[Photo Credit: Brandon Godfrey / Wikimedia]

What my godmother wanted was to underscore that in a magical and religious community, every member has an obligation to speak their truth; and every member has an obligation to trust that a personal truth is being spoken. When she said, “Don’t help,” she meant it.

She didn’t need to be rescued from her own truth.

What my ex and my godmother were each demanding was agency, and it is this agency, an essence of self-determination, that sits as an important value in our community. It is also the easiest thing to take from those who are frail, chief among them the ill and dying. They have the least power and offer the least resistance. At the same time, they induce some of the greatest challenges in our lives.

At this time, we lack not only a substantive theological architecture about death and dying, but also an urgency to engage in that dialogue. As we involve ourselves in discussing and describing these difficult topics from a faith orientation, we not only build our theological infrastructure around them, but we also build interfaith respect showing that we are prepared to address difficult questions of life, living and dying. We convey that we can collectively offer faith-centered answers and support during critical stages in peoples’ lives. And this is a moment and a topic in which we can lead a truly national, even international, dialogue.

In general, it is safe to say that Pagans value life: our community is ebullient with life-affirming and joy-affirming events, texts and behaviors. They are ubiquitous. I think we also deeply value the fabric that nature has built over eons, and recognizing that life requires death. And while we have commissions that protect life, such as “harm none” (a statement shared by the Hippocratic oath), the Wheel of the Year, for many of us, embeds in our communities and our consciousness, a clear marking of time to honor the deceased. The wheel teaches us to take the time to reflect on death as a necessary passing. Through that, the Pagan relationship with death deviates considerably from the views of most major faiths. Life and death form a continuum over which spirit exists.

In the Yoruba religion, for example, the ancestors are intimately present. They are revered because it is their work, their sacrifice, and their love that brought each of us to the present. They are accessible through divination and our skills at mediumship. Working with ancestors is more than encouraged; it is required. It is devotional practice on a daily basis. Death is part of existence; and it is through that interwoven doorway between all worlds that we can call the living to the world of the departed.

We are encouraged to converse. This conversation with ancestors is opened by Orisha Oyá. She is the first breath of life and the last breath before death. She is close to death but not death itself. She is the Orisha that must witness every act of dying and her wind releases the spirit into eternity. She guards the cemetery gates, but not the cemetery itself. She represents the transition, opening the space from the living to to the dead. It is a view that is not dissimilar from many Pagan traditions.

As you might imagine, however, I am a proponent of voluntary euthanasia for those with incurable and terminal illness. There is nothing incompatible with affirming life while validating agency. In fact, I believe that freedom represents the most powerful testament that we have of our commitment to self-determination; what medical ethicists might refer to as autonomy, or the supremacy of a patient’s wishes over the desires of their caretakers and providers. The discourses around lessening suffering should be subordinate to this type of agency, but I have to leave the intricacies of that argument to the many gifted theologians of our community.

As the veil does thin, it is an opportunity to discuss the light and the dark, including how we might hail and transcend the more difficult and emotional moments of our time in life. These conversations can only strengthen our respect for the moment and the immanence of the spirit. Our dialogue cannot diminish the fires and fervor for life nor can they hasten or glorify a desire for death, but they can help us to better understand and cope with it. Even when we know the bus and the time, death will always remain sudden no matter how expected.

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The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.

[Claire Dixon is one of our talented news writers and our UK correspondent. If you like her work and our daily news service, donate to The Wild Hunt. Each and every day, you will receive original content, both news and commentary, with a focus on Pagans, Heathens and polytheists worldwide.Your support makes it all happen, and every dollar counts. This is your community; TWH is your community news source. Donate today and share our link! Thank you.]

UNITED KINGDOM — A petition has been launched in the UK in the hopes of making Parliament debate the teaching of Paganism in schools. The petition was the brainchild of Paul Sefton, a Pagan from Manchester who set it up last month. He said: “We need to change people’s attitudes towards Paganism and it was with that in mind that I thought of the petition. We need to educate the young to give them an overview of Paganism so they can make an informed choice about what religion they may wish to follow, if any at all.”

Outdoor classroom [Photo Credit: Peter / Flickr]

Outdoor classroom [Photo Credit: Peter / Flickr]

“Paganism is having a resurgence in popularity so now is the time to act. Pagans are still looked upon as devil worshippers, which is certainly not the case.”

In the UK, Religious Education (RE) currently consists of learning about the big five mainstream religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. However, the majority of content is given over to Christianity.

Since 2012, the county of Cornwall in South West England, an area long synonymous with Paganism, has included Paganism as part of its religious education provision. This is due to each local county being responsible for its own RE output under the Local Agreed Syllabus framework. Although the UK does have a national curriculum, there can be much regional variation as to what is taught and how.

Sefton notes: “This was a huge leap of faith and much thought was needed to bring this to fruition.”

The Pagan Federation’s regional co-ordinator for Cornwall Eve Salthouse, adds: “Paganism has been part of the agreed local syllabus for some years. Schools can choose to do this and generally approach the Cornwall Faith Forum (CFF), of which I am trustee.” The CFF arranges a time and venue to hold “workshops on several different faiths, including Paganism”, according to Eve. The general age range begins at “seven to eight-year-olds right up to tertiary college, 16 years and over.”

The workshops have been a great success apart from “the odd spot of bother from some more zealous Christian types,” adds Salthouse. Parents can withdraw their child from the workshops but she says it is very rare that they do.

Salthouse says: “The CFF is very firm on all faiths or none. If Paganism is refused as a workshop, then the CFF refuse to give any workshops.” However, Eve remains ambivalent about the current petition. “We’d have to put up with whatever/however it was decided it should be taught – and in an academic way. By holding workshops with people who live/practice each faith, students get a different take on it, not the teacher regurgitating something from a book.”

This comes on the back of a wider discussion within RE provision in schools including “non-religious world views” such as Paganism and Humanism. Paganism falls under this, as some argue, because it does not necessitate a belief in any form of deity.

In November 2015, a ruling at the High Court addressed this very issue. It is first important to note that the High Court is not equivalent of the US Supreme Court, as the UK also has a Supreme Court that has parity with the US version.The High Court, as part of the Senior Courts of England and Wales, is a tier below this. In addition, the UK judiciary does not experience the same domestic acknowledgement as that of the US, partly due to the UK having an unwritten Constitution – meaning the limits of Parliament are less defined and the Supreme Court has less influence over Parliament as a result.

High Court of Justice of England and Wales, London (commonly known as the High Court) [Credit: Wikimedia]

High Court of Justice of England and Wales, London. Commonly known as the High Court. [via Wikimedia]

Returning to the November ruling, the High Court determined that the UK Government had acted unlawfully by omitting non-religious worldviews from the General Certificate of Education (GCSE), the basic qualification taken by 16-year-olds. Five core GCSE, including Math, English Language, English Literature, Science and RE, are seen as baseline and roughly equivalent to a US High School Diploma. In Wales and Northern Ireland, the Welsh and Irish languages are also respective core subjects.

The High Court case was brought by three Humanist parents and, as a result of the ruling, the Religious Education Council of England and Wales announced in July that an Independent Commission would be established to overhaul RE in schools.The Commission is due to publish its findings and recommendations in 2018.

Most recently, the Pagan Federation has been involved in contributing to the material for the RE:Online Resource, which is being created for UK religious teachers. However, it can be used globally. It was written by Professor Denise Cush, former Head of Study of Religions at Bath Spa University. In order to ensure that as many Pagan voices as possible were represented, she consulted extensively with the Pagan and Heathen Symposium. Professor Cush is also a member of the commission panel.

Sefton appears to be picking up on this wider demand for change in the way that RE is defined and taught in the UK in hopes of it better reflecting modern needs. As Sefton says: “Since publishing it has caused much debate in the online Pagan community, which I also felt was a good thing, we need people to talk about it to keep chipping away, little by little. As the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.’

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[The Wild Hunt is your Pagan and Heathen news source, bringing you unique stories of both triumph and tragedy that come from our collective communities. Since last October, in one year, we have served you 375 original stories, both news and commentary. Today’s story is number 376. Would you like another 375? Maybe more. This work takes time and money. Your support is what makes it possible.This is your community; TWH is your community news. Donate today! Thank you.]

NEW ORLEANS — This week, members of the Voodoo Spiritual Temple hung the official sign outside of the organization’s new home. The Creole cottage, which had housed the temple since 1991, was destroyed by fire in February, and supporters of its leader Priestess Miriam have been working toward this day ever since. The entire process has made clear how well regarded Miriam is for her work, with 543 people donating to the effort and many others putting in time and effort. Witchdoctor Utu, a student who spearheaded the online campaign for Miriam, provided some details about what has already been accomplished, and what’s to come.


[Courtesy New Orleans Voodoo Temple / Facebook]

“Truth of the matter is this past weekend was not the reopening,” Utu explained, “just when they got the new sign, so the place is a bit more visible now. They never really closed, just maneuvered throughout the worst situation possible. They have been in that location since April,” he said, and have been fully moved into the new location since July. The building is located on 1428 N. Rampart St. is nine-tenths of a mile up Rampart from the former temple site.

Sign is removed from old temple location [Witchdoctor Utu]

Sign is removed from old temple location [Courtesy Witchdoctor Utu]

The Voodoo Spiritual Temple was founded in 1990 at yet another address on N. Rampart St., but was moved to 828 just a year after opening. When the 2016 electrical fire forced Miriam and all religious ceremonies out of the 828 building in February, hopes were high that the site could be rebuilt. However, such was not to be.

Nevertheless, many people came forward to work on restoring it in some form. Utu set up a crowdfunding campaign with the assistance of Christian Day, and a fund raising event called Moveable Feast was held in April. While the online campaign has not yet collected a third of the $75,000 goal, enough has been raised through it and through offline donations to make the move possible.

Beyond financing the operation, It has taken a tremendous amount of effort, not all physical, to move the temple after all these years. A new location had to be identified, and a quarter-century of sacred and historic objects needed to be carefully packed away. Utu chronicled that process in pictures posted publicly to Facebook, writing, “the majority of this work, daily, every day for two months has been for the most [part] Miriam herself, her husband Allen, as well as Louis Martine and a few others, but for the most part it’s been Miriam’s job…I don’t know how she has the energy.”

Priestess Miriam may be leading this ongoing effort through example, but she is far from alone. In addition to members of the temple and wider Voudoun community offering money or time, many Pagans have also stepped up, including members of the Salem Witch community, the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, and Ár nDraíocht Féin. Utu attempted to list them all in his Facebook accolades. In addition to Day and other New Orleans residents, he named Alexander Cabot, Kirk Thomas, Ivo Dominguez Jr., Jason Mankey, Raven Grimassi, “and plenty more, too.”

Many that are on the boards of festivals, small and large, came together on behalf of their tribes and for that I am very grateful, and it’s why your festivals are the ones I will be attentive to over the coming years as far as support and attendance. [It] means a lot when the folks in your immediate area rally to support the temple that you are a member of and show thanks for the years of rituals, shows and support we have done over the years, really meant a lot.”

Temple sign is preserved [Witchdoctor Utu]

Temple sign is preserved [Courtesy Witchdoctor Utu]

The transition’s toll has required no small amount of emotional work, as well. “There was no handbook or script for this,” Utu told The Wild Hunt. “No one knew for over a month whether the temple could stay at the original location, so it was a complex emotional ride that took the efforts of literally hundreds of people from across the globe.”

Sorting through beloved objects, deciding what can be salvaged and what must be destroyed, is difficult under the best of circumstances, but here the objects often held sacred significance. Utu said that there were “tons” of actions that needed to be performed to honor gods and spirits associated with the temple, most of which were designed for this specific situation.

“It was pragmatic, hard emotional tiring work, which does possess magic and power in [and] of itself,” he explained. Spirits can be tied to specific locations or items, and much of that had to be disentangled along with the feelings of loss, nostalgia, and grief over this change. Again, Utu wrote of how Priestess Miriam has led the way:

This process is not an easy one, nor a rush job, certain items are being refurbished, sealed and saved from water damage as well as smoke, as some of them are simply irreplaceable with a history few could imagine, it takes a special pace and temperament to make it happen. Priestess Miriam is amazing to be able to keep this pace going while being positive for the future.

The hanging of the sign on Tuesday epitomizes the physical, emotional, and spiritual labor needed. It was painted by Oswan, Miriam’s late husband, who founded the temple with her in 1990. After removing it from the old site, it was sealed to preserve his handwriting, in which Oswan’s spirit might be seen. Putting that sign up again signified much more than simply being open for business.

In fact, the official grand opening of the new location is still in the works, and Utu expects that the healing will take much longer. He wrote on Facebook, “As much as I would love to say things are back to normal nothing could be further from the truth, this will in reality take years to recoup and be back to something resembling normalcy and what once was, but it’s all good, that’s life and [a] new era for the temple is in its infancy.” During that infancy, at least, the fund raising continues.

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WASHINGTON D.C. — In late September, Televangelist Jim Bakker hosted Robert Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and Family Research Council senior fellow, on his show. They started off discussing how Maginnis felt about President Obama’s nomination of a Muslim-American attorney to be a federal judge.

While Bakker saw the nomination as an attack on Christianity and an example of persecution against Christians, Maginnis went a bit further in his answer. He alleged there is a secret cabal of Witches advising the senior leadership of the United States.

Maginnis says:

I know that there’s demonic forces in that city. I have personally met people that refer to themselves as witches; people that say they advise the senior leadership of the country. You know, we invite within the federal government people to advise us and often some of those advisers, I think, have evil motivations, things that you and I would not approve of.

Political magic is nothing new in the United States, although it is more often performed by Christians. One example is back in 2011 when The New Apostolic Reformation, a neo-Pentecostal Christian movement, hosted an event called DC40. The group planned to “lay siege” for 40 days on Washington D.C. in order to change the District of Columbia into the District of Christ and to eliminate compromise in our government. They also sent out an open letter to the Pagan community, whom they saw as responsible for the ills of the nation.

Gwendolyn Reece is a Witch and priestess of Athena and Apollon living in Washington DC who performs political magic. She doesn’t believe there are any witches advising senior White House administration. However, she said that she is “fascinated by the thought experiment of what it would look like if we DC witches were a secret cabal, advising top government officials.”

Reece said, “All of the DC witches who I know are deeply concerned about the corrupting influence of money in politics and the importance of each of our citizens having a vote that truly counts. We would, therefore, be working to ensure voter rights and overthrow gerrymandering.”

She said nature-reverencing witches would ensure the EPA would be stronger and that there was more policy discussion around the health of honey bees. Also on witches wish list? “If the DC witches were running things, you’d better believe that the State of Columbia would be joining the Union with rights as the fifty-first state.”

So what kind of political magic is Reece performing?  “I work to strengthen the thought-forms on the inner planes of what a good functioning Democratic system looks like and to feed them power so that they can have more strength as inspiration.” She said that magic, on its own, is not sufficient to enact change, adding that people must also embody their practice and vote.

[Photo Credit: Victoria Pickering]

[Photo Credit: Victoria Pickering]

Author Sheryl Grana believes that there are three main reasons why people, historically mostly women, were targeted as witches.

The first reason was to ensure that women stayed with expected gender roles and behavior. In Grana’s book Women and Justice, “Many women accused of witchcraft were identified, by men in their lives very often, as women engaging in some kind of wrong doing.”

Grana said that another group targeted were those who lived on the margins of society; the old, the poor, and those without a male figure in their life. The concern was that oppressed and marginalized persons could use occult forces to get back at their oppressors.

The last group targeted, according to Grana, are women who have wealth and power. These are independent women who the males in a community wish to bring back under their control.

Reece thinks that Maginnis is targeting people from the last two groups identified by Grana. “The demographics of contemporary Paganism skew heavily toward being female but also LGBTQ people of all gender expressions are heavily statistically over-represented. Clearly he’s saying that there are people who are, in his mind, troublingly “other” who have power and the thing that is threatening to him is that they have power and influence.”

She also said that, by Maginnis calling the motivations of the advisers evil, his thinking is resonate with the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The Protocols outline how an oppressed minority is accused of operating secretly in ways that demonstrate extraordinary influence in political and social institutions, which shape society for nefarious ends.

Should it worry Americans if, someday, Witches became advisers to our political leaders? Reece doesn’t think so; “I do not believe Maginnis is telling the truth when he says that there are Witches who are high level policy advisers, secretly influencing our politicians. Maybe we should be.”

[The Wild Hunt is your Pagan and Heathen news source, bringing you unique stories of both triumph and tragedy that come from within our collective communities. No where else will you find daily, original news and commentary, dedicated to these otherwise untold stories and perspectives. But it does take time and money to bring this service to you daily. Your support is what makes it possible. This is your community; TWH is your community news. Donate today! Thank you.]

8807779_1454467968-3368NEW ORLEANS — It was announced this weekend that the Voodoo Spiritual Temple was finally back in business after an electrical fire destroyed its historic building earlier this year. The temple has become an icon of New Orleans, having been serving visitors and students since 1990. Despite the losses caused by the late winter fire, founder Priestess Miriam was determined to continue her work. She would find a way.

After eight months of fund raising and work, the Voodoo Spiritual Temple is back open at its new location at 1428 N. Rampart Street. With the help of friends, including student Witchdoctor Utu, Priestess Miriam was able to raise close to $25,000 toward the reopening. On her website, she writes, “As Oswan would say, ‘Me and the Father is one!’ Well I say equally that me and the Voodoo Spiritual Temple is one each in the heart of all of you. My goal is to retain the unified structure in which the temple is about and to serve those who are challenged with multiple conflicts in their lives and to educate in a way that people can retain order and discipline in their lives that they will be able to serve themselves and others with the best of respect.” We will be bringing you more on the reopening and future of the temple in the coming days.

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Cara Schulz, during a day or door knocking

Cara Schulz door knocking [Courtesy Photo]

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — As reported in the past, Wild Hunt journalist Cara Schulz is running for office this year in her home town. It is her second attempt to earn a spot on the Burnsville City Council. Over the weekend, she announced to supporters that the Minnesota-based organization Women Winning has endorsed her campaign.

Schulz applied for the endorsement through the organization’s website, and was recently informed of her acceptance. She does not yet know what the endorsement means specifically for the campaign, but she is glad to have this support. Schulz said, “I am so honored to be endorsed by an organization devoted to helping candidates with a pro-woman stance get elected to office. Their help has been instrumental in electing many women candidates in local, state, and federal offices. My race is going to be exceptional close and their support could even the odds.”

On its website, WomenWinning.org writes that it is “building a statewide movement dedicated to increasing pro-choice women’s representation at all levels of office.This movement includes women, men, Democrats, Republicans and everyone in between. Our members know that electing women isn’t just good for women, it’s good for everyone.”

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14446207_1589058274731853_4023537409270936124_nBELLINGHAM, Mass. — The Robin’s Nest, a metaphysical store located in the Bellingham Marketplace, recently launched a new charitable giving program to assist local Pagans in need. On the Facebook home page, Robbi Packard writes, “Sometimes we just need a little hand up. This is where the idea of creating an auction to raise funds to meet these needs arose. Through the generous donations of services and items for auction, we will seek to answer that often not sought out prayer for help.”

The Robin’s Nest auction was held over the weekend. It raised over $2,000, all of which will be gifted to a local family to help cover medical expenses. This new charitable event was considered a success, and the store plans to hold a similar auctions every spring and fall. Packard wrote to all of those that contributed, “Thank you for making a difference.”

In other news

  • Next October will play host to the first annual Gathering of the Bards.To be held in Greenville, South Carolina at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, the gathering will be a poetry, prose and music contest, as well as a fundraiser for Elder Grove Seminary. According to the site, those performers that place top in the songwriting categories will be featured on the Gathering of the Bards 2017 album. Conveniently for Pagan music fans, this performance event will happen only one week after CalderaFest 2017, and is located only a few hours’ drive away.
  • But for this October, another musical event is happening. Coming Saturday, Emerald Rose will play together for the very last time at the Starbridge Event Center in Murryasville, Georgia. The small festival will take place outdoors from 10-12 p.m.
  • We are in the middle of Pagan Pride season, and every year there are new events that are held in regions or cities that never had one before. This year marked the first Ann Arbor Pagan Pride Day. It was held Sept 17 on the Washtenaw Community College campus. The event boasted “a Peruvian fire ceremony by James Stovall, plus workshops on Druidry, Hood Magic, and magical cleaning, along with information booths, and vendors.” The event was visited by the local press, who published an article titled “WCC hosted its first Pagan Pride Event.”  If you are hosting a unique or new Pagan Pride event, send TWH a press release. We want to share what is going on in local communities.
  • Moving from festivals to books, Buckland’s classic Witchcraft From the Inside is “back in print.” However, it has been renamed Witchcraft Revealed and published by Buckland himself. The original was in written in 1971 and was in print for several decades through Llewellyn. Why did Buckland decided to re-release it? He wrote, “I very much believe there’s a lot of life in it yet. It’s a book I would like to see as a standard since it deals with the early history of Witchcraft and Wicca; something that is glossed over a lot these days but which is important to the understanding of our heritage.”


  • Author Lorna Smithers, who was the editor of the second edition of A Beautiful Resistance, will be releasing her second book Monday. Titled The Broken Cauldron, the new book is a collection of her stories, essays and poems. Smithers writes, “At the centre of ancient British mythology stands the cauldron: the womb of Ceridwen, Old Mother Universe, symbolising inspiration, wisdom and rebirth. What happens when it lies shattered, the universe fragmented, the world out of kilter? These questions, for a post-modern age imperiled by global climate change and endless warfare, were posed by my deity, Gwyn ap Nudd, a ruler of Annwn and a guardian of the cauldron.” Smithers first book was titled Enchanting the Shadow Lands.
  • Perhaps you need some Halloween-inspired reading material? Bundle Rabbit has created a Witches’ Brew Bundle with 20 different fiction titles that fit that category. One of those happens to be author and activist T. Thorn Coyle’s short story, Lizard and Lying Men. Coyle writes, “Lizards and Lying Men is set in 1990s San Francisco, tells the tale of Dagger, working in a peep show, biding her time. How else is a witch-slash-sorcerer-slash-psychic who has turned in her Akashic Library Card supposed to support herself? Then a man walks into her favorite coffee shop, saying he needs her help…and there might be lizards involved.” This story is only available through Bundle Rabbit.
  • And lastly, Sencha the Vate has released a new album titled Winter of the Wheel, which is touted as being a return to his “folk rock roots.” He writes, “Winter of the Wheel is a tribute to Pagan Elders who have helped Paganism grow to an internationally recognized spiritual path”

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[Today The Wild Hunt welcomes guest writer David Halpin. Over the year, The Wild Hunt welcomes guests, like Halpin, to share their unique viewpoints, practices, and expertise. Doing so is an important aspect of our mission. If you enjoy articles like this, please consider donating to The Wild Hunt. You make it possible for us to continue to provide a world platform to a diversity of voices, and we’ve got four more fantastic writers scheduled over the next three months. The Wild Hunt is your community news service. Share out IndieGoGo link. Donate today.]


Decide for yourself whether the story that your cultural trance-forms have put you in is a story you really want to live in. If it is not, then wake up out of that story, step off the page, and begin to think about telling another, but try to tell this story in a new way.” – Dr Jeffrey Kripal: The Super Natural. Co-authored by Whitley Streiber.

Today, cultural trance forms in the context of spiritual and religious interpretations are also the rules and regulations imposed upon individuals and societies. They are the ‘sacred’ texts and supposed ‘correct’ languages and pronunciations a person is compelled to follow in order to pray or commune with a specific ancestral deity. In other words, they are the control mechanisms used by traditions in order to prohibit expression and diversification, personal expression and exploration.

[Courtesy Pexels.com]

[Courtesy Pexels.com]

If we begin to question the role of priests and any idea of apostolic succession in the first place, Dr. Kripal’s suggestion seems very useful. Spiritual adherents and seekers, from the Abrahamic faiths to the Pagan and esoteric communities, might ask why it is required to speak someone else’s words in order to commune with Gods, and why they must follow the rules decided upon by another person in the first place. After all, our conception of the physical world is entirely dependent upon our individual bodily sensibilities, so wouldn’t our individual consciousnesses’ also be uniquely ours to begin with? The synaptic bridges that reach out to whatever lies beyond the natural and material paradigm are unique from one human being to another. We all experience reality in a completely different way.

What language should your particular God or Goddess speak, then? Is it the language of your tribe and your ancestors? If so, are we to determine that the Gods and Goddesses of your land had a different language before your ancestors arrived there?

Or, could it be that, somehow, the evolution of each language in the same country at different historical times is improved upon by the Gods themselves?

This would mean that immortal and eternal deities were wrong the first time. It would also mean that they required our invention and further improvement of letters and symbols in order to communicate. Not just with us, but with each other, if most of the world’s religious texts are to be believed.

If an ‘official’ or traditional priest or priestess is going to insist that we must speak to the Gods in a specific language and dialect then surely we have the right to speculate on other forms of communication that lie outside our current physical incarnation and methodology, which might work equally as well. If this is not the case, are we really saying that the ideal and only correct way was one decided upon generations ago and there is no further room for improvement?

Another complication with historical control systems, created and maintained by ‘authentic authorities,’ is that many of the same letters are used in completely different alphabets and languages throughout the world and in different spiritual paths, but often pronounced in different ways. I would also imagine that an immortal being is not restricted by state borders or the lines we draw upon paper maps to distinguish where one form of language and culture should start and another end. Simply put, there is no right way or wrong way to pray when it comes to your intent. As Dr. Kripal argues, maybe it is time to side-step any judgmental cultural overlay, which has no infallible supernatural authority in the first place.

If we allow ourselves to pull away from a short-term, physical-universe perspective, what makes us think that any particular planet means much to Gods and Goddesses existing outside of space and time, anyway, never mind mere countries? A land mass is also likely to change many times through topological cycles created by environmental conditions, ice ages, and natural catastrophe. The rise and fall of sea levels can turn a mountainous country into a string of islands or submerge a low lying coastal-shelf completely. Do non-material, ever-living beings come and go because of this?

The two main reasons we find practical and folk magic inside every single religion on earth is firstly because it predates them all and secondly-almost by definition-because it suspiciously regards devotionalism as an irrelevance.” – Gordon White from Pieces of Eight: Chaos Magic Essays and Enchantments.

Before we try to integrate the physical limitations of the material realm into concepts of higher dimensions and timelessness, we should first take a closer look at the construction of language itself. Very simply, letters allow for the written transfer and descriptions of vocal sounds. Spoken words are vibrations that resonate at particular frequencies and are shaped by the various noises made by our throats, tongue, mouth and teeth.

Mother Tongue Singing at Margot Adler's Memorial Oct. 31 [Courtesy Photo]

Mother Tongue Singing at Margot Adler’s Memorial Oct. 31 [Courtesy Photo]

But communication itself is much more than this. An emotion or state of mind can also be conveyed by a gesture, by a facial expression, and by physical action. Certain animals and insects even express feelings and conditions through colour and scent. In these instances, chemical reactions and combinations take the place of letters. They are also just as effective. Perhaps even human beings communicate using additional signals outside of our currently measurable perceptions.

Within many traditions, the spiritual concept of correspondence allows for a relationship between one thing and another. It can be described in the maxim ‘as above, so below’ and can often appear, for example, within the idea of a landmark representing a particular trait of a God or Goddess. The cycle of nature, from the emergence of a new bud on a tree, to the fall and decay of a rusty leaf, becomes illustrative of this rule of physical life; the correspondence reflecting a fundamental lesson of the Gods.

These different seasonal traits often become the personalities of individual deities and yet this same expression becomes characteristic of completely different pantheons in various parts of the world. The flora may change but communication of the deeper insight remains the same. A wider perspective can recontextualise the borders of cultural trance forms if we are courageous enough to let our own previously learned incarnations go, or at the very least accept that different forms can express the same fundamental wisdom.

Supposed defective pronunciation is also often a matter of discussion and argument in various faiths and traditions. A mispronounced prayer or a skipped word in a spell can, according to some, render a ritual profane and meaningless. By breaking down and redefining what a language represents we can examine exactly where the flaw lies in this way of thinking. Simply put, there is no defective pronunciation when it comes to your personal interaction with something that presumably existed long before any one religion, tribe or culture tried to claim it as their own. The key to all prayer and the desire to engage with higher consciousness is intention more than it is regulation.

Whatever plea or cause brings someone to a point where they feel they need to engage with forms beyond the physical domain is based upon distinct circumstances and desires. It is formed by a personal world experience and manifested through a metabolism that determines the borders of an individual’s sense range and their ability to interact with what Rudolf Steiner labelled “Higher Worlds.” Our requests to these forms come from a mindset shaped by inner and entirely specific circumstances.

Our prayer is not the realm of officialdom. It is not for a church to sanction, curtail or set boundaries upon. The mind and the wish are not the domain of a priest, coven or tribe to abstract and shape into a communal ritual unless we want them to be. Help and support are useful, but they are always secondary and can never pierce the veil like the emotionally sharpened intention of the authentic seeker.

I am an anarchist, like any other sensible person.” Merlyn. – White: The Book of Merlyn.

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About David Halpin: Originally from Dublin, David Halpin works as a sound engineer and museum research assistant. In his spare time, he compiles local folklore, and documents alignments between ancient monuments near his home. Halpin is a regular contributor at Ancient-Origins.net and Occultum.net where he has written about topics such as esoteric history, Gnosticism and mythology. 

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The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.