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.

  *    *    *

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.”

  *    *    *

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”

Support your Pagan news service! Donate now!

[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.

  *   *   *

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. 

Donate to the 2016 Fall Fund Drive. Help support independent journalism.

  *   *   *

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.

Black moon, what?

Heather Greene —  October 2, 2016 — 4 Comments

[Heather Greene is our managing editor and weekly news writer. If you like her work and enjoy our daily news service, 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.]

TWH – On Sept. 30 at 8:11 pm ET, the rare “black moon” appeared in the sky, only two days before the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashanah. In some communities, warnings went out about an apocalypse and a second coming. In other places, event facilities set up special viewings. “Don’t miss this amazing celestial event.” Others were left wondering, “Black moon, what?”

[Photo Credit: Kabir Bakie via Wikimedia Commons]

No. That’s a full moon. [Photo Credit: Kabir Bakie via Wikimedia Commons]

The question remains: who is this mysterious celestial interloper? What is the black moon?

Aside from being a 1975 Louis Malle film, the black moon is a term that has come be used for the second new moon that occurs in a calendar month. It is not unlike the term blue moon that is used for the second full moon in a month. However, the term blue moon has become a regular and accepted part of contemporary vernacular. While the meaning of blue moon has shifted from its original 19th century connotation of “never” to mean “once in awhile,” the language is hardly unknown.

The phrase’s association with the second full moon of a calendar month is attributed to poor interpretations of old almanac definitions. According to Hayden Planetarium lecturer Joe Rao, “This moniker came about because a writer for Sky & Telescope Magazine misinterpreted an arcane definition given by a now-defunct New England Almanac for when a full moon is branded “blue,” and instead incorrectly reasoned that in a month with two full moons, the second is called a blue moon.”

This fact is corroborated by NASA, who notes, “The term blue moon is believed to have originated in 1883 after the eruption of Krakatoa. The volcano put so much dust in the atmosphere that the moon actually looked blue in color.” However, it was in that 1943 Sky & Telescope “Star Quiz,” which was “followed by an article in March 1946” that changed the term’s meaning.

Based on his own research, Rao goes on to say that “the ‘blue moon’ brand quietly went unnoticed for some 40 years, until a syndicated radio show promoted the term in the 1980s and it then went viral.”

But the new moon, which has been equally as giving with its double-month appearances, has not had as an effective publicity manager. Considering that the new moon doesn’t quite offer as flashy a performance as the full moon, this is not at all surprising. However, even among seasoned magical practitioners who honor new moon rites regularly, the term is unfamiliar or unused.

Where and when did the name originate?

The term black moon, used in this way, is relatively new. In fact, it is so new that it is not mentioned at all on NASA’s moon pages, like the blue moon. In an article on Universe Today, writer Fraser Cain writes,”You might not have heard the term before…” And he’s right, many haven’t. Cain’s article, which is currently dated 2015, was originally published in 2008.

According to one older random astronomy website, the second new moon in a month actually has had multiple names, although sources are not provided. Along with black moon, the site also claims that the second new moon in a month has been called the secret moon, the finder’s moon and the spinner moon. The website, which dates its materials with the year 1995, was published online in 1999.

Black Moon. There it is. [Public Domain / Pixabay]

Black moon. There it is. [Public Domain / Pixabay]

In 1997, there was a second full moon on Halloween, which created some local media buzz. “Beware, this Halloween … The black moon will reign,” writes The Santa Cruz Sentinel  “For astrologers, witches, goddesses, and others who place significance in the lunar month’s timing, its a very hallowed time indeed.” (27 Oct. 1997 pp.1)  According to the Salina Journal in Kansas, the black moon is a good thing, because its unique effects leave zombies, witches, and the dead powerless until the following Halloween. (26 Oct 1997, pp 3.)

Prior to 1997, there appears to be little mainstream fanfare around the phenomenon. This explains why the sudden widespread usage has left some magical practitioners bewildered and betwixt.

Diotima Mantineia of Urania’s Well told The Wild Hunt, “Both the so-called ‘black moon’ (second of two new moons in a calendar month) and ‘blue moon’ (second of two full moons in a calendar month) are determined by a human calendar, not the position of moon in its relationship to sun and earth. Therefore, they have no meaning from an astrological perspective, or from a magical perspective. It’s just an accident of the calendar.”

Frustrated at the sweeping media hype, Mantineia went on to note, “In fact, this ‘black moon’ of September actually occurred in October in the UK and points east due to the time differential.The phases of our moon (new moon, full moon, etc.) are based on the relationship between moon and sun as viewed from Earth, and this relationship is what counts astronomically, astrologically, and magically.” (Read Mantineia’s full analysis here)

Like Mantineia, Pagan elder Ed Hubbard has also been frustrated with the hype surrounding this particular moon, but for an entirely different reason. He told The Wild Hunt, “It’s a media creation It’s branding of news … Nothing ancient, no old practices.”

Hubbard was invited to be a special guest on Friday’s Pagans Tonight Radio Network show The Correllian Family Hour. In that show, he said, “This whole thing was created by me.” According to the interview, Hubbard crafted a black moon ritual in 1993, and had been working with the idea of this special dark moon for years. Through Witch School press releases and other writings, the idea went viral, as it were. He told The Wild Hunt, “Dark moon is our own practices. Black moon is my ritual theater.” He explained the story in detail on Friday’s show.

While frustrated for different reasons, Mantineia and Hubbard are not alone in their reactions to the “branding” efforts and media hype. And what did that look like?

There’s a black moon on the horizon” – CNN
A rare ‘black moon‘ will rise tonight” – WTAE Pittsburgh
“Spooky: Rare ‘black moon’ to rise Friday night” – CTV News (Canada)
Check out the rareblack moon‘ on Friday night” – CBS Norfolk, Virginia

Leaving alone the more sensationalized headlines and the articles encouraging people to “check out” the nearly invisible rare celestial occurrence, most media outlets did note that the phenomenon was not at all catastrophic.”Black moon‘ rising: No, it’s not the apocalypse,” informed The Washington Post. Denver’s local CBS affiliate reported, “Keep Calm, Tonight’s ‘Black Moon‘ Is Harmless.” But perhaps the award for the biggest buzz-kill goes to Stockton, California’s ABC affiliate, who informed its viewers, “A black moon will rise Friday night, but you aren’t going to see it.”

At the same time, there were news sources, bloggers, and niche markets that enjoyed the fervor, even speculating on the meaning of the black moon for Pagans. For example, World Wide Religious News reported that the phenomenon was “creating excitement among Christians and followers of pagan religions alike.” Timeanddate.com informs its visitors, “Black moons hold special significance to people who practice certain forms of Pagan religions and who believe certain actions become more potent when performed on the night of a black moon.”  And, the CBS Norfolk affiliate mentioned earlier told its readers that Pagans “believe the rare event provides extra spiritual power for rituals.”

The blog Revelist.com went further and interviewed a Wiccan. In an article titled, “A witch explains why you can’t miss tonight’s black moon,” with the subtitle “spooktacular,” Milo, the interviewed witch, said, “In Wicca, the black moon is considered a time when there is extra power for spells and ritual. The idea of blue moons and black moons is only about two centuries old, so there are no ancient pagan traditions to draw on.”

Outside of media hype, any Pagan references to black moons, ancient or modern, are very rare, occurring, if you will, only once in a blue moon. However, we did find one in a 2003 book titled Everyday Moon Magic. Author and Witch Dorothy Morrison writes, “When the repeated phase happens to be the dark or new moon, we call the second occurrence the black moon.” She continued on to say that the repetition increases its power. “The black moon provides an excellent time for soul searching and inner journey work, divination, and the eradication of self-deception.” (Morrison, pg. 43)

When asked where she found the term, Morrison said that she couldn’t remember exactly, but speculated it was an almanac or journal. However, in the Correllian radio interview, Hubbard claimed that he had spoken at length with Morrison prior to her writing the book, and that he was indebted to her for helping to develop his black moon magic. He also praised her book for its accuracy.

Although the term black moon is used prior to 1993 in secular works of art (e.g., Hussain’s painting Black Moon, 1960; Malle’s film Black Moon, 1975; Carpenter’s film Black Moon Rising, 1986), it does appear that Morrison’s book includes the earliest written information about magical usage. And, Hubbard’s ritual theater is the earliest reported Pagan usage of the term. In both cases, that timing corresponds roughly to the dates on secular websites, as noted earlier.

Does it any of it matter now? As Mantineia suggested, the new moon will rise and set on schedule regardless of our human calendar. Some Pagans have fully embraced the term in their regular new or dark moon practices, regardless of whether there are or aren’t any magical differences. The most common associations apply, and for some that includes the new moon’s relationship to Lilith, the dark goddess, and inner cleansing work.

Circle Sanctuary’s Rev. Selena Fox said, “I celebrated this year’s black moon with personal reflection and transformation, and by facilitating community observances face to face and in cyberspace. As with other lunar transition points, the black moon can be an opportunity to strengthen our awareness of and attunement with nature’s rhythms.” Rev. Fox incorporates the name without a problem.

Similarly, author and village Witch Byron Ballard said, “I always prefer the strength of the energies before new moon. That place of complete surrender before the cycling up begins again. As a teacher, I encourage people to test that energy and find what it’s best for.”  She added, “This particular dark moon felt particular fizzy, energetically. But all of them are powerful tools to be used by those who can.”

[Courtesy NASA]

Dark moon.  [Courtesy NASA]

While the moniker black moon, or even blue moon, may not be centuries old, the terms have worked their way, to varying degrees, into contemporary language as markers of our modern celestial experience. Whether or not they have any extra significant spiritual or magical power, outside of their expected nature as full and new moons, is clearly up for grabs. Almanacs the world-over have been naming and renaming moons for centuries. Does the nomenclature alter their power or significance? Or is it all just media hype and moon branding, as suggested by Hubbard and Joe Rao at space.com.

On Monday, Slooh.com will be streaming a show focused on the black moon and will include a talk by the site’s spiritual consultant Helen Avery. She will discuss “the various definitions for the black moon and the way it has been adopted by Pagan practitioners.” The website adds that this moon has “deep spiritual meaning and can affect how and when they practice their craft. For others, the black moon means very little. She will discuss both sides.”

While the magical significance is varied with regard to a moon phase doubling up in a month, there is one thing that is clear. The black moon is simply a dark moon or a new moon; no matter what name you call it, and how you honor it.

And finally there is one last important note that needs to be made. The 2016 media hype may not yet be over. While the Western Hemisphere saw this “somewhat rare” phenomenon that “won’t happen again for years” on Sept. 30, the Eastern Hemisphere will see the same phenomenon on Oct 31.


Donate to the 2016 Wild Hunt Fall Fund Drive

[Tim Titus is one of our talented monthly columnists. Each month he brings you insight and analysis about issues coming from within or affecting our collective communities. If you enjoy his work, consider donating to our fall fund drive today. You make it possible for The Wild Hunt to continue featuring great writers, unique voices, and news reports every day. Every dollar counts. Please donate today and share the campaignThank you.]


Who would have thought that life’s most profound experiences come with tea and cupcakes?

Vanitas, by Phillippe de Champaigne. Life, Death, and Time. [Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Vanitas, by Phillippe de Champaigne. Life, Death, and Time. [Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Death, the final mystery, is an almost unavoidable topic in any religious practice. Of course, regardless of one’s religious beliefs, death remains unavoidable. Under the Pagan umbrella, many traditions treat death as a sacred event, a “crossing over” to a new world and often the fist step toward rebirth. Traditions that follow the Wheel of the Year annually celebrate the dead and the sacredness of death in October. Samhain is often the most popular sabbat of the year in Wiccan and Witchcraft communities, so –- in theory — Pagans should be the citizens who are most in tune with the natural cycle of life, which inevitably includes life’s ending.

And yet, those who practice a form of Paganism remain encompassed by mainstream culture, a culture which is often rather squeamish about the topic of death. We live in a culture that sanitizes death and separates us from it as much as possible. We don’t even like to think about it. A Gallup poll from May, 2016 show that only 44% of Americans have written a will, a number that is down from 51% in 2005. Understandably, more older Americans have wills, yet even in the over-65 category, 22% of respondents still did not possess a will.

USlegalwills.com claims even lower numbers, stating that only 28% of Americans have written a will. If we accept that how well we plan for our inevitable death is a measure of how much we like to discuss it, our culture demonstrates a strong desire to avoid the topic altogether. Despite the importance of the topic for the health and happiness of loved ones as that finances and property be clearly distributed, a majority of Americans choose to look the other way. Ask a typical person to engage in a discussion about death, and you are likely to get a quick response and an even quicker excuse to leave the conversation.

Estate planning and property disbursement are not the only reasons it is important to talk about death. A 2012 article in Science News presents a study that shows that people who think about death can live a better life. “An awareness of mortality,” says the article, “can improve physical health and help us re-prioritize our goals and values” to help us live a happier life. Talking about death is important for life, yet it is a painfully difficult subject to bring up into any casual conversation.

That is the purpose of the death café. Popularized by Jon Underwood, the Death Café is an opportunity to come together in a comfortable environment, enjoy a little tea and cake, and discuss onee of life’s most mysterious and fearful topics. “Our objective,” says Underwood, “is to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.” The model includes “no agenda, objectives, or themes.” It is conceived of as “a discussion group rather than a grief support or counseling session.”

Photo credit: Jon Underwood

[Image credit: Jon Underwood]

The first Death Café was held in a basement in East London in 2011, and since then the movement has blossomed. Deathcafe.com reports that, to date, 3,496 Death cafés have been offered around the world. Underwood states that “We’ve established both there are people who are keen to talk about death and that many are passionate enough to organize their own Death Café.”

Elsa Elliott and Danielle Dionne, the lead and deputy Scorpio Ministers for the Temple of Witchcraft, have been facilitating death cafés in the New England area since February. They emphasize that “Death Café fosters an environment where people can speak openly about death. The idea,” they say, “is to allow people to come together and talk openly about their feelings, ideas, and experiences in an open, confidential forum.”

“We sit together as mortal people who will die,” says Elliott, with no religious agenda, “respectfully accepting whatever the other people believe.” The hosts prioritize “holding space where everyone has a chance to speak and be heard.” This is especially important, they say, “since death has been separated from day-to-day experience and relegated to hospitals and other institutions over the past 100 years.”

The event begins as participants gather together in a circle.­­­ Elliott and Dionne explain their simple guidelines for discussion:

  • This is not an end-of-life planning even, bereavement, or grief counseling.
  • Listen to each other.
  • Take off your “fix-it hat.”
  • Share the air space – let everyone speak.
  • Speak from your personal experience. Try to leave your professional side out of the room.
  • Take care of yourselves – step away if you need to.
  • Get some refreshments. Have some tea and cake.
  • Respect the sanctity and confidentiality of our discussions.

To ensure that everyone can speak and not be talked over, the facilitators use talking stick in the form of a plush, stuffed Cerberus toy, as a marker of whose turn it is to speak. This representation of the fearsome three-headed hound of the underworld is soft and whimsical, which Elliott and Dionne say helps comfort participants who are feeling nervous about the discussion. Ultimately, they say, “We provide a warm, accepting environment so that people can talk about death.”

Cerberus [Photo credit: Elsa Elliott]

Cerberus [Photo credit: Elsa Elliott]

With the ground rules in place, the discussion begins. Naturally, some participants can be shy about getting such difficult conversation rolling, but many are eager to get right into the deep philosophy of death. I attended one death café in which a participant began the session by challenging us on “how we know” our beliefs about the afterlife are true. A fascinating philosophical conversation followed. This was at a Pagan event, so all attendees were either part of the community or friendly to it, yet each held a different set of beliefs about life after death, the soul, and exactly what death means. We explored these profound topics as co-religionists seeking clarification, which allowed us to refine our beliefs after they were exposed to new, inspiring ideas.

Then, an entirely different but equally challenging question arose. While the group questioned their thoughts on the afterlife, many expressing fear, a young woman who was raised Pagan declared that this was the very first time she had heard that people are concerned about these topics. Since she was not a migrant from mainstream faith, she had no experience in the often-terrifying dogmas and doctrines that other religions dictate to their followers. She was surprised. These clashing views from two types of Pagans: those born into Paganism and those who chose to come to it, provided even more fodder for deep, meaningful discussion. It was a thoughtful, respectful, and challenging two hours that helped us all deepen our understandings.

In other cases, participants are slow to get the conversation moving. For these times, Elliott and Dionne have some ice breakers meant to stimulate the participants and lubricate the discussion. They include questions such as:

  • What should someone not say to someone who is grieving?
  • What life experiences influenced your perspective on death?
  • What are some ways death influences your daily life?
  • Before I die, I want to….
  • Imagine yourself on your deathbed. What would you feel proud of? What would you regret?

At some point, the group breaks for cake. After a restful, grounding break, participants return to the conversation. With about 15 minutes left, Elliott and Dionne ask for final thoughts, especially from those who have not yet spoken. After everyone has had their say, usually about two hours after the start of the café, they close by sharing tea and cakes together.

Elliott and Dionne have experienced some moving discussions in their time facilitating death cafés. One session, said Elliott, “Included a conversation about suicide that prompted some to share their experiences with the death of loved ones from suicide.” Other discussions are marked by participants expressing frustration about not knowing the wishes of their deceased parents, a problem that results in family struggles and needless acrimony surrounding the parent’s final decisions. These conversations naturally lead to “stories about how to talk with parents while they are still alive about what they want for end of life care, as well as funeral and other arrangements.” In this small way, one small evening has the ability to improve the life of anyone with elderly parents.

In other situations, says Elliott, participants have discussed “DIY funerals” and “what you want to have happen to your body.” They talk about funeral options as far apart as “mushroom burial suits to transporting bodies in your station wagon.” Elliott emphasizes that these discussions, “prompt reflection on how we want to die, how we plan to communicate our wishes to loved ones, and how we provide care for our dead.”

“It’s been really cool witnessing and hearing people share their views and process,” exclaimed Elliott. Discussions stimulate thought, which can inspire action. The important decisions of life include those about how to handle our death, and burying our heads in the sand over the topic will only serve to harm our loved ones in the long run. Death cafés thaw the ice on extremely important matters and can ultimately lead to a better life, and death, for everyone.

The death café movement describes itself as a “social franchise.” As such, they state that anyone who can “sign up to our guide and principles can use the name ‘Death Café,’ post events to [their] website, and talk to the press as an affiliate of Death Café.” Given their impressive growth numbers since 2011, people all over the world, from all religious and non-religious backgrounds are doing just that.

Elliott advises everyone to attend a death café in their own area. “These events,” she says, “promote death positivity and bring death to everyday experience.” As strange as it may sound to talk about “death positivity,” the Pagan world is in a unique position to do so. For evidence, I Look back on the young woman who was raised Pagan and who could not comprehend the fear of death that other café participants were discussing. Without that burden of taboo and fear, we could do more with the time we have been given and provide for the continued happiness of our loved ones at the end of our finite lives.

Donate to the 2016 Fall Fund Drive. Help support independent journalism.

*   *   *
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.

Column: True North

Eric O. Scott —  September 30, 2016 — 3 Comments

[Eric O. Scott is one of our talented monthly columnists. Each month he brings you insight and analysis about issues coming from within or affecting our collective communities. If you enjoy his work, consider donating to our fall fund drive today. You make it possible for The Wild Hunt to continue featuring great writers, unique voices, and news reports every day. Every dollar counts. Please donate today and share the campaignThank you.]

befunky-design2I have been thinking about pilgrimage lately, and what that word might mean to Pagan ears. Like so much else in our religions, it’s a concept that we have had to define for ourselves. Paganism, after all, does not have a long tradition of religious travel on the order of Catholicism or Islam; we have no Mecca or Santiago de Compostela. But we have created our own holy places: campgrounds and groves and bookshops, festivals and moots, and we have imbued the ancient places, the relics of the old pagan religions, with a new sense of significance.


Overlooking Thingvallavatn, the lake on the shores of Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. [Photo by Eric Scott.]

It’s the latter, especially, that interests me; the way we interact with ancient sites, laying claim to their histories. In their 2009 article in The Pomegranate, Beyond Sacred: Recent Pagan Engagements with Archaeological Monuments,” scholars Jenny Blain and Robert Wallis see the Pagan romance with these sites as ways to relieve our anxieties about the present, and to a degree that seems accurate: much of Paganism, to my mind, addresses the alienation many of us feels in the modern world. (This is what all that “reenchantment” business is about, after all.)

Less comforting is Blain and Wallis’s reading that Pagans, at least the British Pagans whom they studied at a variety of sites throughout the United Kingdom, have found ways to make themselves “neo-indigenous,” using language similar to those of Australian Aborigines or American First Nations peoples to lay claim to the landscape: “In Britain,” they write, “Pagans have adopted ‘sacred sites’ and ‘ancestors’ rather than ‘archaeological site’ or ‘monument’ or ‘remains,’ suggesting both a spiritual element to visiting and (particularly through ‘ancestors’) an implication of direct engagement with landscape rather than a more voyeuristic relationship with a closed past.” While this has led to some positive results –- Blain and Wallis mention that several ancient sites have been saved from the bulldozer thanks in part to Pagan efforts –- there is something obviously troubling about the mostly white Pagan population laying claim to indigeneity.

While Blain and Wallis are describing British subjects interacting with British sites, the situation makes me think of my own fascination with places abroad –- mostly Iceland, for me –- and my own sense of connection to a place with which I have no material connection. I have had a desire for “the north” for most of my life, a desire deeply intertwined with my practice of Asatru. Iceland, after all, is Saga-Land, home to the literature that informs so much of modern Heathenry. When I visited a few years ago, I took incredible pleasure in visiting the sites from my favorite old Norse stories: the farm at Borg where Egill Skallagrimsson spent his days, the hill where Gunnar slipped from his horse. But I was also aware that my love for Iceland was almost entirely concentrated on its past; until I actually met my Icelandic friends in person, they seemed less substantial than the ghosts of saga-time.

I suppose I come by it honestly: outsiders visiting Iceland have inherited a long tradition of writing, the fountainhead of which is William Morris’s account from the 1870s. Although he predates what we could call modern Paganism by decades, Morris was drawn to Iceland out of love for the sagas, and came to the island with a preoccupation for reading the modern landscape in terms of the Saga Age. The nation was his “true north,” the land by which he guided the compass of his soul, and much of his literary work references Iceland and its history. But he found the reality of the island and its inhabitants lacking in the passion and intensity of the past. His journals constantly reference the discrepancy between his romantic vision of the place and the benighted reality of it:

Just think, though, what a mournful place this is – Iceland I mean – setting aside the pleasure of one’s animal life there: the fresh air, the riding and rough life, and feeling of adventure – how every place and name marks the death of its short-lived eagerness and glory… Lord! what littleness and helplessness has taken the place of the old passion and violence that had place here once.

Morris’s account had a deep influence on two travelers who visited Iceland in the 1930s, W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice, who published Letters from Iceland in 1937. It’s an odd book, full of unexpected styles and forms: a poem to Lord Byron (!) in five parts, a practical list of gear, a fictional letter between young girls, and a motley survey of other authors’ opinions on Iceland, “Sheaves from Sagaland.” But a sense of Morris’ romance pervades the text, as does Auden’s discomfort with the Nazi idealization of Iceland as the land of a “pure Germanic spirit.” “If they want a community like that of the sagas they are welcome to it,” he writes. “I love the sagas, but what a rotten society they describe, a society with only the gangster virtues.” Auden says this, but it’s clear that he bemoans the loss of that society himself, and has the same dissatisfaction with the living Icelanders that Morris had.

And I find myself wondering if this is all part of what pilgrimage is: the setting of expectations on a place, setting limits. When we travel to places in search of meaning, by definition we end up circumscribing those places. For Morris and Auden — and me too, though I’d like to think that in my visit to Iceland I managed to broaden my perspectives — their pilgrimage was enclosed by the limits of the past. Similarly, for Blain and Wallis’s “neo-indigenous” Pagans, these religious sites draw their meaning, their value, from a past that can claimed. Inventing pilgrimage also means inventing — and therefore limiting — the meaning of the places we visit.

Donate to the 2016 Fall Fund Drive. Help support independent journalism.

*   *   *
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.

[Dodie Graham McKay is one of our talented news writers and our Canadian correspondent. If you like her work and our daily news service, 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.]

UNITED KINGDOM – The Pagan Federation has expanded its resources, initiating a new service for Pagans living in England and Wales. The Pagan Federation Disabilities Team is the vision of Anna Lawson, who recognized that disabled people in the Pagan community needed to be given a voice and a vehicle to ensure greater access to events and practice. In November 2015, she reached out to Mike Stygal, who was president of the Pagan Federation at the time, for assistance. From this meeting, the Pagan Federation Disabilities Team was born.

As the team’s inaugural manager. Lawson’s first move was to create a Facebook group to recruit new membership for the team and also to see what types of services the public would want from them. After one month, Deputy Manager Debi Gregory was aboard to help.

But the line up changed quickly as Lawson was forced to leave her new position due to ill health. By February of this year, Gregory had moved into the manager position, and the team quickly enlarged to include Team Secretary Jean James and two new Deputy Managers, Beth Murray and Petra Lucas. In less than a year, the Pagan Federation, which divides England and Wales into 12 districts, had local representation for eight of those districts on the team, proving that this is was resource for which the Pagan community was ready.


Team manager Gregory is a mother and writer, living in Yorkshire, UK. She is very open about her own disabilities and the challenges she has faced in her own life, and encourages other team members to do the same. It is her belief that by being as candid and transparent as possible, the team will be approachable to community members who need its help.

“I tell my team all the time – without trust, we have nothing” said Gregory in a phone interview with The Wild Hunt. “All of the team are disabled in some way…we have all faced discrimination, we have all faced some issue within the pagan community when it comes to our disabilities and practicing our faith, and we shouldn’t have to. We are trying to fix it.”

Gregory and the team have established some clear priorities to focus on. These include: 1. Raising awareness and letting people know that disabled Pagans are trying to access the Pagan community and are finding barriers to joining in on events and groups, 2. Speaking to people who are actively discriminating against disabled Pagans and educating them in a professional manner about how to coexist with people with mental or physical disabilities 3. Working with event organizers to find spaces where physically disabled Pagans can participate and have access to ramps, public toilets and amenities.

This is no small task, as Gregory points out, because venues are scarce, many of the pubs where the popular moots are held are village or town pubs, built before current codes for accessibility were enacted. While atmospheric, these old buildings have narrow doors, cramped washroom facilities, and often have stairs throughout the space, making it difficult, if not impossible, for physically disabled people to enter.

Organizers may not want to abandon a favourite pub, or even have the option of an alternate venue, but Gregory suggests that relocating to an accessible establishment, even a couple times per year, would be a gesture of inclusiveness that would be appreciated by Pagans often left out of such important community building events. The team is also working on educational workshops to help people understand the needs of pagans with invisible disabilities.

Pagan Federation Disabilities Manager, Debi Gregory (courtesy photo)

Pagan Federation Disabilities Manager, Debi Gregory [Courtesy Photo]

The Disability Team has also taken their organizing of events online, offering online seasonal festivals, where participants only need to be able to get to an internet connection to take in the festivities. The first one was held over eight days in May as part of the Beltane celebrations. Gregory had the brainstorm to hold the event, and with the help of Pagan Dawn magazine’s editor, Kate Large, presenters were lined up to provide the streaming content.

The event was successful with 1,000 active participants and the videos reaching 20,000 people to date. The subsequent online festivals for Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox have been shorter in duration, but have received similar attention. The video content is stored on the event Facebook pages as well as the Pagan Federation Disabilities Team YouTube channel.

The next online festival will be in honour of Inter Faith Week in November. Following that will be the Online Yule Festival; the theme for this one will be Self Care. Presenters are being encouraged to speak from a comfortable place and to wear their pajamas, or whatever they tend to sleep in. This is meant to show solidarity with those who, because of a disability, are unable to leave their beds. The team provides updates on these events on its Disabilities Group Facebook page.

In addition to the new team’s creation, its onine events, and its work to raise awareness, the Pagan Federation has also launched the Disabled Pagan Voices Project as another platform for for participation. It was conceived by Kate Large, and quickly supported by the Disability Team. Submissions of art, blogs, short stories, poetry, music or anything that expresses the creativity of disabled Pagans or their caregivers is accepted and shared through the online festivals and the Disability Team blog. There are also plans in the works to include this material in the new, soon to be launched Pagan Federation UK website.

Pagan Federation dedicates ritual to those Pagans with disabilities who could not attend its 45th Anniversary event [Video Still]

Pagan Federation dedicates ritual to those Pagans with disabilities who could not attend its 45th Anniversary event (2016) [Video Still]

As far as Gregory knows, her team is unique in the world. There has been interest for similar teams to be established in other Pagan Federation territories, but for now, only England and Wales are covered. Disabled people from other countries have even been in touch with requests. Most recently a woman from Canada reached out for aid after encountering a problem when she took her service dog to a local moot. While the team may not be able to advocate on behalf of anyone outside of their territory, they are able to provide advice and share their resources.

In less than one year, the Pagan Federation Disability Team has broken new ground and instigated a new online gathering place for Pagans of all abilities to participate on their own terms.

As Gregory says: “We are trying to bring people together to let them know that they do have a voice, they are appreciated, and that the community does want to include them and they don’t have to feel alone anymore”

Donate to the 2016 Fall Fund Drive. Help support independent journalism.

[Terence P. Ward is one of our editors and talented weekly news writers. If you like his work and our daily news service, 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.]

SILVER SPRINGS, Md. — Some experienced professional tarot readers will sniff at the idea of using a tarot app for divination, an idea that was explored by Wild Hunt columnist last month. Caroline Kenner, one of the people behind the Fool’s Dog suite of tarot apps, understands where they are coming from. Together with her husband Jason Linhart, an experienced programmer, she has worked to provide what she describes as simply an electronic tool to complement physical cards and professional readers.

Buckland's Romani Tarot iPad app title screen.

Buckland’s Romani Tarot iPad app title screen. [Courtesy Photo]

Kenner is no newcomer to the Pagan communities, nor to the arts of divination. She began her studies with Andras Corban-Arthen in 1984, and has been an organizer in the Washington, D.C. area for nearly 30 years. Among her other teachers stand Janet and Stewart Farrar, Sandra Ingerman, and Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. Kenner estimates that she owns 400 tarot decks, which she has been reading for decades. As a public relations professional, she has also worked to ensure Pagans are represented accurately in mainstream media coverage.

Many tarot apps available on the market have “programming shortcuts to shorten the time to market,” Kenner explained. However, the Kenners’ goal of supporting the art and the reading community represents a different approach. She brought her three decades’ experience as an intuitive reader to bear on the problem, and combined it with her husband’s programming prowess, as well as a magical spell designed to meld the two.

Linhart has, according to Kenner, been programming since the age of 11 and writing code for Apple products since before the Macintosh was first rolled out in 1984. “He could tell you the number and description of any card, but he couldn’t interpret them,” she explained. “He liked them because of the patterns,” an interest which has also led him to develop a successful line of sudoku apps.

When the couple decided to build better tarot apps, each of their skills were needed, but they also went out into the community for guidance. “We went to our reader friends,” she recalled, saying that after so many years in the community, “we had a million of those, and a thousand who read professionally.”

The couple hosted open houses for readers of all skill levels, inviting them to test, poke, and prod. Artist Helena Domenic was the first to sign on and agree to allow her work to go digital. The first Fool’s Dog decks came out in 2011. Two years later, Raymond Buckland’s Romani Tarot joined the suite. To date, 60 decks have been added.


[Screenshot from Fool’s Dog website showing some of the available decks]

The curious may download the sampler for iOS or Android, and each full deck costs anywhere from 99 cents to $4.99 to purchase. That price range is intended to serve the community, Kenner said. Creators such as Domenic and Buckland receive royalties from each purchase, but the price is not so high as to discourage someone from trying out a new deck.

“Physical decks can run upwards of $30,” she said. “That’s a commitment. When I was reading, I would sometimes buy a deck I saw, but it really didn’t click with me. This is a lower financial commitment, and people can pick the decks that really sing to them to buy physically.” A links within the app is available to do just that. These links lead directly to creators’ own websites or to Amazon, making that next step an easy one to accomplish.

Fool’s Dog has also created some decks that had very small print runs, generally when funded by a Kickstarter campaign, and were never picked up by a major publisher.

Along with flexibility of price, there are other benefits in digital deck production. Deck creators aren’t stunted by truncated descriptions, nor are readers. The full text of a deck’s instructions are available unless the creator specifically doesn’t want that to be the case. In addition, there’s space for app owners to add their own meanings instead having to rely solely on the boilerplate.

Layouts are similar: a variety of common ones are built right in, as well as any that are unique to a particular deck. For example, the Zombie Tarot brings with it the “gravestone” layout that’s detailed in the physical instructions. As with card meanings, there is a free form option for layouts, which gives more flexibility than one might anticipate from a computer.

One thing computers do very well is remember information; every reading done through these apps are automatically added to a journal, and may be emailed. Readers can manually input a physical spread to send it to a client, as well.

The Kenners have taken pains to meld tarot and technology in ways never attempted before. Linhart started with a randomizer he developed more than a decade ago, and then added further randomization based on the timing of user actions such as tapping and swiping.

“When the user actions are timed to the nanosecond, the low order bits are truly random,” Kenner said. “This seamless interface between user and tarot program is very successful at opening the door to synchronicity.” Indeed, the apps allows for two different kinds of electronic shuffling, as well as deck cuts, to increase the random factors introduced.

Wildwood Tarot app [Photo Credit: H. Greene]

Wildwood Tarot app [Photo Credit: H. Greene]

In 2013 The Wild Hunt reported the fact that there’s a spell built into the code to help pixels and intuition work better together. Ivo Dominguez, Jr. wrote that spell as a wedding present for Kenner and Linhart. His field of expertise can be as difficult as programming code for the uninitiated to understand, but he explained it in brief:

I performed a ritual to charge and empower a sigil created from the word “divination” plotted onto the magick square of the moon that is linked to the tarot app. There is a physical world version of the sigil on paper that is being kept in a safe place on an altar so long as the app is in use.

The resulting numbers are written directly into the app code, such that users never see it.

“Top-rated programming, top-rated spell work, and a way to help Pagan elders,” summarized Kenner. That last part is close to her heart, because she’s seen that those elders tend to be “magical people who often struggle with business and money.” The paying of royalties is one way to allow for more community support of their lifelong contributions.

“I’m worried about how many of us have led unusual lives that don’t necessarily add up to retirement funds,” Kenner explained.

Who is using Fool’s Dog apps? According to Kenner, quite a few people, including those young enough that they have grown up in the light of a screen, but also more experienced and professional readers. “People often use it while in transit,” she explained, such as while commuting to work while desiring to perform a daily or self-reading. It’s ideal for that kind of compact situation, she said, while the physical deck remains at home or in one’s purse.

It’s not, however, intended to replace a reader’s intuition with boilerplate, any more than someone with no experience can be expected to read a physical deck simply by referring to the booklet. “It’s a tool of empowerment,” Kenner said, “but it can never replace that rapport. It’s just a different interface.”

Donate to the 2016 Wild Hunt Fall Fund Drive

[Nathan Hall is the newest addition to the Wild Hunt weekly news team. If you like his work and our daily news service, 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. Every dollar counts. This is your community; TWH is your community news source. Donate today and share our link! Thank you.]

NEW YORK – As in past years, youth delegates accompanied peace activist Rev. Patrick McCollum to the United Nations International World Peace Day Sept. 21. During the ramp up to the event the preceding weekend, McCollum introduced the Pagan Youth Delegates, both of whom had been invited on behalf of McCollum’s Foundation for World Peace. This year’s delegates included Olivia Phillips, age 15 from Pennsylvania, and Sasha Reed, age 23 from Washington.


United Nations, NYC [Public Domain / Pixabay]

Although not a Pagan herself, Phillips is involved with the Chester County Women and Girls Fund, also known as the Girls Advisory Board. The organizaiton has raised and is dispersing $25,000 of grant money within her community. Her mother has been an active member of the McCollum Foundation for many years.

“Patrick heard that I was doing that so he thought that I could be the youth delegate for this year at the U.N.” Phillips said.

Phillips joined the delegation to introduce violinist Sasha Reed before she played McCollum’s peace violin. The violin is, “constructed of diverse woods and materials collected from the sites of world conflicts and resolutions, and impregnated with materials and fragments collected from sacred sites and events connected to the peace process from around the world, the World Peace Violin was fully born on the Winter Solstice of 2012,” according to his website.

Reed has had a number of previous interactions with McCollum. He  visited her school at Mills College while she was forming a Pagan-oriented club on campus. On one of those occasions, he brought the violin.

“I started playing violin when I was eight and switched to viola when I was 11, so he let me play it and it was a really overwhelming experience. I’ve cried every time I’ve played the Peace Violin, so let’s hope I can hold it together on stage. It’s a really powerful instrument. I’m not professional musician by any means but I have a lot of passion for music. I like to call myself an advanced hobbyist,” Reed said.

Reed has graduated from the university and now works as a medical scribe in an emergency room.

“Patrick reached out to me,” about the UN opportunity, she said, “I’ve visited his house before and I’ve played viola at his birthday party. I’m not sure what he was thinking when he asked me to do this but I know I’ve had very strong emotional reactions with the Peace Violin and I love all of his goals, working towards peace and everything that he does with the foundation. I said I can’t miss an opportunity like this.”

One of the main themes of the conference is passing the torch along to a new generation of peace activists, empowering youth to stand up and have a voice in their communities and in the world.

“People give presentations on what they’re doing, what their goals are, and these people who are hopefully going to be the next generation of peace activists and leaders in peace are coming together and sharing their ideas and making these connections at a young age so that as they grow older they can really start making moves and start putting their change into the world,” Reed said.

Reed sees the future of peace thriving through education. She said that she sees education as a way to undermine hatred and prejudices. As a person employed in a medical field, she also sees the role that health and wellness play in the ability of a person to change.

“It’s hard to learn and it’s hard to be willing to focus and change your ideas when you feel crappy. I think that’s where peace is happening now. It happens in the classroom, it happens in hospital rooms, and it happens with patient, loving people who are willing to take time out of their day to truly help others,” she said.

Reed knows from experience the effects of compromised health, both physical and emotional, can have on a body.

“I used to be anorexic, I used to have really bad anxiety and depression and I think part of that came from not helping people but also seeing all of this tragedy and sadness around me in the world and not knowing how to deal with it,” she said.

Now she practices yoga regularly, jogs, hikes and finds solace in practicing meditation and Wicca. “Taking care of my spiritual self and finding ways to make my physical self feel good are absolutely necessary for me,” she said.

She added that she embraces, “revolutionary health care, radical self care and self love,” which includes being open-minded enough to realize when she needs medication, although right now she doesn’t.

Reed sees a need for people to increase their education about mental health, saying, “there’s this stigma that when you’re on mental health medication that you’re broken and you’re barely hanging on and you’re addicted, (but) it really brings you to a place where you can actually start working on your problems.”

Olivia Philips and Sasha Reed [Courtesy Photos]

Olivia Philips and Sasha Reed [Courtesy Photos]

When it comes to being open about her religion, Reed says she’s not nervous about being a Pagan delegate at the United Nations event. At work, she prefers not to talk about it, however.

“Meeting new people I don’t care if they know that I’m Pagan, it’s just these kind of friendships that I’ve made at work that I don’t know, I think just because of their own prejudices and the things that they’ve learned about Pagans. It all comes back full circle to these old ideas that aren’t necessarily correct but that have been really firmly taught.”

When asked what her suggestions to the next generation of Pagans would be and how she would help them find their footing, she said, “The absolute best things for me were getting books and talking to other people so that you don’t feel like you’re weird.”

She said that although it can be fun to be weird, feeling like an outcast and like you’re the all alone can be very isolating. She suggests doing research online and trying to find groups, especially local organizations where you can meet in person.

She finds that, “being able to actually talk to other people and learn more can deepen your own practice through doing this.”

Reed says that she feels spirituality is an intrinsic part of being human that can even impact our health.

“One of the other things that drew me back to religion were these studies that found that people who are going back to church and people who are Christian lived longer. I don’t think it’s because god is blessing them with long life for being Christian, for me it was more about, these people are still going out of their homes and they’re still going out into their communities. They’re feeling really fulfilled about their lives and they’re speaking with other people and they’re growing themselves emotionally.”

Reed is applying to medical school and hopes to begin by the fall semester 2017. Beyond that she says, “A pipedream I’ve had my whole life is to work with Doctors Without Borders or Partners in Health or one of these big organizations that helps in a physical way. Helping people’s physical bodies, so that people can go out and achieve.”

And as to her fears about becoming emotional and tearing up on stage while playing the Peace Violin, did that happen?

“It did not!!! I was able to hold it together, but I also did a lot of ritual and mental preparation so I think was ready for how intense the instrument was this time,” she said.

[Pagan Community Notes is a feature that appears weekly, highlighting important stories from within our collective Pagan and Heathen communities. If you like this feature, consider donating to The Wild Hunt. Each and every day, you will receive original content, news and commentary, with a focus on Pagans, Heathens and polytheists worldwide. Your support makes it all happen. Every dollar helps. This is your community; TWH is your community news source. Donate today and share our link! Thank you.]

pagan federation TWH – The Pagan Federation has continued using the internet to help support those members and others who are unable to attend live Pagan festivals, workshops, and rituals.This past weekend, the organization’s disabilities team hosted a day long equinox event that included online rituals, talks, and more. Prior to the event, the packed scheduled was posting online. Attendees only needed access to a computer and wi-fi in order to participate.

The festival began with a live opening ritual with Jay Anderson. The group also published the transcript online so her words could be followed. The festival continued on from that point with video introductions to the group’s lead team members, discussions on various Pagan topics, music and ritual, and even a word from the new Pagan Federation president Robin Taylor. Nimue Brown and her family joined the festival to share a chant as part of the Disability Voices Project. The entire event wrapped up with Anderson performing the closing ritual. All of the day’s festivities are currently posted on the Facebook event page.

*    *    *

mankeybeskin_atlantisLONDON — Llewellyn author and Patheos Pagan Channel editor Jason Mankey recently made a special appearance at Atlantis Bookshop in London to promote his new book, The Witches Athame. Shop owner Geraldine Beskin introduced the workshop by saying that Mankey’s book is “an important and practical book.”

During his two-hour presentation on the history and lore of the athame, Mankey appeared delighted to be presenting his well-researched material in the basement space known as the “Gerald Gardner Room,” the meeting place for Gardner’s own coven. An open discussion followed the talk, and visitors from Canada, England, and the United States were able to compare notes on Wicca-related topics.

Both Beskin and Mankey generously shared anecdotes about their lives within the Craft. Journalist Dodie Graham McKay was in attendance and said, “In a time where much discussion happens on social media, this event provided a rare opportunity to have such conversations in real time.” Atlantis Bookshop was founded in 1922 by occultist Michael Houghton and, as such, has been serving the Pagan, magical, and occult communities for nearly 100 years.

  *    *    *

Circle Sanctuary logo

RENO, Nev. — Monday Sept. 26 marks the 10th anniversary of the American Freedom Rally, which is largely considered to be the turning point in the Pentacle Quest. Held at Reno’s 9/11 memorial, the 2006 rally eventually led to the inclusion of the pentacle on the Veterans Affairs list of authorized emblems.

Circle Sanctuary’s Rev. Selena Fox was at that 2006 rally, along with Roberta Stewart, the widow of the first Wiccan soldier killed in action in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Sgt. Patrick Stewart and Chaplain William Chrystal who, Fox said, “supported the quest for equal rights for Wiccans and other Pagans.”

Rev. Fox will be honoring the work done on the Pentacle Quest as well as marking the 10th anniversary date “with a series of events in coming months.” On Tuesday, she will be speaking more about the quest and the upcoming celebratory events on her podcast.

  *    *    *

tuatha deaGATLINBURG, Tenn. — Reverbnation currently places Pagan band Tuatha Dea at the top of its Celtic music charts worldwide.The band was excited to learn the news but remained modest, saying, “It probably means nothing but it is interesting.” However, their fans and friends demonstrated their excitement over the ranking. Author Alex Bledsoe said, “It means that the word’s getting out about how awesome the band is!”

Some of Tuatha Dea’s music was inspired by Bledsoe’s Tufa series, and the band just finished co-hosting a Tufa Tour weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The weekend promised to help attendees “experience firsthand the magic of the Appalachian fae.” Over the three day weekend, the band performed, participated in a Q&A with Bledsoe, and hosted a drum circle and workshop.

Following Tuatha Dea on the Reverb Celtic charts is the Ogham Stones, the American Rogues, Lexington Field, and Ida Elena.

In Other News

  • Reclaiming will be hosting a special social justice ritual Oct 2. in Los Angeles, Calif. The groups writes, “With the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis as our guide – the great lady of magic – we will summon the element of water to wear down injustice drip by drip by drip.” Reclaiming, originating in San Francisco in 1975, is the same group that initiated the letter of support to the Great Sioux Nation in their work to protect the land from pipeline construction. It is the Los Angeles-based Reclaiming group that is hosting this Oct. ritual.
  • Author and Witch David Salisbury has a new book being released Sept. 30. The title is A Mystic Guide to Cleansing & Clearing and, as he explains, it “takes a new approach at the practice of cleansing and clearing.” Salisbury is most known for his book Teen Spirit Wicca and his work in the D.C. area working with a younger generation of Pagans.
  • After more than five years of study and work, Shai Feraro received his doctorate from Tel Aviv University’ School of Historical Studies. Feraro is a friend of the Pagan Federation International and a regular speaker at PAEAN‘s online biannual conference. At past events, he has lectured on topics such as Pagan community-building in Israel. However, Feraro’s focus and academic work were not based on his experiences in Israel. Feraro’s dissertation is titled: The Priestess, the Witch, and the Women’s Movement: Women and Gender Issues in British Magical and Pagan Groups, c. 1888 – c. 1988. He said, “It was an amazing — albeit at times arduous — stage in my journey within academia.” He noted that the dissertation will be available in book form in the near future.
  • On that same note, the Pagan Academic European Associates Network (PAEAN) will be hosting the next conference Nov 7. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 7. This event’s theme is spiritual pilgrimage in its many forms. The keynote speaker is Dr. Thomas Clough Daffern, philosopher, educator, and peace studies specialist.
  • From the blogosphere, Greybeard contemplates the presence of magic in contemporary society as found in mainstream advertising. “Magic has always been part of religion and while some argue that our culture has become more secular over the past few centuries, it could be suggested that the infusion of magic into business and politics balances this, although not usually in a good way.”
  • And, finally, it is Banned Book Week and organizations around the world are celebrating the freedom to read. Take a look at some of the books listed by the Smithsonian in their special exhibit, “Banned Books that Shaped America.” Is one of your favorites on it?

Your community. Your news. If you liked today’s Pagan Community Notes, consider donating to our fund drive. Your support is what makes this article possible. Every dollar helps. Thank you.