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UNITED STATES — Even as activists took to the streets to protest the results of the presidential election, others adopted a quieter approach that has been since dubbed “rage donating” or the giving money to organizations that support populations deemed at risk once Donald Trump takes office. A web site named RageDonate was quickly created to channel this very desire; each screen pairs a Trump quote with a donation button tied to a related cause.

Donald Trump [Wikipedia]

Donald Trump [Wikipedia]

Reports from the offices of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) indicate that those are perhaps the two most popular targets for post-election donations, although others also have benefited. On the season finale of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver listed a number of other organizations that he believes could use extra assistance while Trump is in office. These include the National Resources Defense Council, International Refugee Assistance Project, the Project, and the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP.

Specific Pagan causes have not been included in these high-profile lists, perhaps not surprising given that Pagans and those practicing related spiritualities collectively are only a very small portion of the population. The Wild Hunt reached out to representatives of some Pagan groups to find out if it appeared that they have benefited from these so-called “rage donations” since Nov. 8. Given the small sampling, this can only be considered anecdotal evidence, and no clear pattern can be gleaned at first glance.

A representative of Ar nDraiocht Fein: A Druid Fellowship responded, “ADF, as a church, is not permitted to engage in the political process, therefore we tend to whether political storms pretty well. I haven’t noticed an uptick in membership numbers” since the election.

Oberon Osiris noticed a change in the yearly cycle at Covenant of the Goddess, and it wasn’t a positive bump. Typically, they see a post-Halloween bump in emails from seekers, but that did not occur. “I have a feeling . . . the decline is tied to nervousness or paranoia about being known or seen to be contacting ‘Witches,’ since the election was won by Mr. Trump.”

“I can’t base it on any actual evidence, just the lack – even possibly more so than normal,” Oberon Osiris continued. “As of this date, late November I have no regular flow of other ‘info’ type questions I might have to handle. Just a lot less flow/volume than we normally get. I was not in this position in 2008 or 2012 so I can’t address if it happened during that Presidential campaign.”

On the plus is The Wild Hunt itself, according to managing editor Heather Greene. Social media followers and email subscribers have increased measurably, and there were even some unexpected donations, which are rarely made outside of the annual fund drive. Greene wrote, “Typically, we receive most of our funding through the fall drive, and that campaign ended before the election. But, since that point, we have been gifted with several unexpected donations. We appreciate the extra support.” Even without this small bump, Greene was clear that The Wild Hunt’s writers will continue to serve the Pagan, Heathen, and polytheist communities through what is widely expected to be uncertain times to come.

A representative from Lady Liberty League declined to comment, and no response was received from the Patrick McCollum Foundation in time for this story.

[Pixabay]

[Pixabay]

That is not to infer that Pagans only donate to specifically Pagan causes. Several people have expressed support for the idea of shoring up at-risk causes at this time. Sabina Magliocco posted on Facebook, “I don’t know about all of you, but I’m seriously not feeling like holiday shopping this year. . . . after discussing it with some of my family members, we’ve decided that this year, we’re going to give donations to worthy organizations in lieu of holiday gifts.” Her list includes the Southern Poverty Law Center, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, and support for the Standing Rock protesters.

Gwendolyn Reece posted a list of recommended organizations, and wrote,

This is not a sprint. Therefore we must consciously build our individual capacity and the capacity in our communities to keep going. That means self-care and cultivating joy. Grim determination only really works when it is an expression of love.

Other Pagans asked about their intentions had a variety of opinions. Some, like those above, intend on starting or increasing donations to various organizations. Elizabeth Sturino, for her part, is looking to hunker down and focus on local needs. “I think it is prudent to only spend on necessities, stock up on canned foods and alternative heating sources and put any ‘extra’ money into credit unions instead of a bank at this time. Volunteering is the most authentic form of donation as I am sure my time is going to directly benefit those whom I am serving.”

Activist Peter Dybing raised another question for those heading up progressive causes: “What is your organization’s plan for working with other unrelated progressive causes to defeat Trump? Our old fractured ‘my cause first’ approach is not something we can afford now. Real progressive mutual aid is the order of the day.”

Overall, it doesn’t appear that Pagans — nor any falling under the shadow of the Pagan umbrella — are feeling the need to express rage through their wallets. It is possible that they, like Sturino, are keeping charity close to home, or perhaps they are attempting to supplant rage with a different emotion for their own actions.

ohio-state-logoCOLUMBUS, Ohio — News broke this morning of “an active shooter” on the campus of Ohio State University. At 9:56 am, the OSU Emergency Management Team tweeted, “Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall.19th and College.” The campus was quickly locked down, and some students tweeted images from inside their barricaded classrooms.*

At noon, the campus emergency team announced that everything was secure, but all classes would be cancelled and areas of the campus would be closed for further investigation. At this point, not much more is known. One suspect was allegedly shot dead, and ten people were reportedly sent to the hospital with stab wounds and other injuries.

We spoke with local Druid Rev. Michael J. Dangler who works on staff at OSU. When he read the emergency announcement, he stayed home and called in safe. Dangler is a Senior Priest in Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) and a Grove Priest of Three Cranes Grove, ADF. He said, as far as he can tell now, everyone that he knows and works with is also okay. However, he was quick to add that the situation is still not settled.

Rev. Dangler is also the co-owner of the local Columbus metaphysical store The Magical Druid, which serves OSU’s Pagan community. While it is too soon to know what will “need to be done” in terms of healing, Rev. Dangler did say, “We’ll probably do something at the shop. I’m waiting on details.” In the meantime, he noted that his store maintains a community altar, which is always available during regular business hours, and it will be there for anyone who needs it at this time.

UPDATE 11/28 4:38pm: The community altar at The Magical Druid was open today from 3-4 pm. Rev. Jan Avende and Rev. Michael J Dangler of Three Cranes Grove, ADF, “were there to offer prayers.” They recorded in a live-stream for those who can’t make it down to the store. Watch the video here.

UPDATE 11/28 4:38pm: It has been reported that the “active shooter” was not a gunman. The suspect reportedly hit people with his car, and then stabbed several others with a knife.

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standing rock logo

CANNONBALL, N.D. — As we reported yesterday, tensions continue to mount at Standing Rock as the Dec. 5 deadline looms. According to Reuters, “U.S. authorities said on Sunday they had no plans to forcibly remove activists.” Any remaining activists will be reportedly subject to citations. At the same time, the protesters have made it clear that they will not be evacuating. Additionally, reports indicate that over 400 veterans are now planning to arrive at Standing Rock Dec. 4 to join the protests and support the Water Protectors.

As we have been reporting, Pagans and Heathens also continue to remain active in this ongoing struggle. Solar Cross Temple announced this weekend that, with funds raised, it sent $1,085 worth of supplies to the medics at one of the protest camps. The remainder of the funds will be used to supply the general camp or another smaller spirit camp. Solar Cross is currently talking with people in the area to assess the needs.

Since first speaking with us in September, Casey McCarthy, a member of Mountain Ancestors Grove, has revisited Standing Rock and reported back that “logistics have improved.” This includes areas such as training (e.g. cultural sensitivity, direct action 101, and more), medical and mental health care, construction, and legal consultation. He said, “All of these fall under a council of elders and work in conjunction with each other.” However, McCarthy added that there is “tons of trauma.” He said, “The struggle is real; people are getting hurt, and witnessing horrifying things. I volunteered with the mental health group and heard a lot of horror stories.”

McCarthy also noted that some people are arriving at the camps thinking it’s just a big party. He said, “There is a lot of tension between the native folks and the white people showing up, and treating the place like a festival. I heard some very racist and privileged stuff. White people must understand that the protest is a sacred space and a battle ground, not Lollapalooza.”

Two other volunteers who hope to return soon to Standing Rock are Aquarian Tabernacle Church leaders Belladonna Laveau and Dusty Dionne. They are not sure when and if they can make the journey yet, but they would like to be there when the veterans arrive to support their effort along with bringing more of the needed supplies.

We will continue to bring you weekly updates on this story direct from Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists involved. 

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photo broadlyBRISBANE, Aus. — As noted in yesterday’s edition of Hounds, Broadly published an article on an annual Australia Beltane festival sponsored by the Wildwood Tradition. This article, as we noted, was filled with vivid photographs of members enjoying the popular springtime event. However, that article, which was published Nov. 7, sparked anger in the community itself, due primarily to inaccurate information. While this problem may not be surprising, as it does happen frequently within mainstream reports on modern Witchcraft practice, this time tradition members decided to take matters in their own hands. They didn’t simply let it go.

In an email, member Fio Aengus Santika told The Wild Hunt: “[the] article came out without any member of our Tradition being aware it would come out, and it was entirely images of our biggest Beltaine event which happens to be in Brisbane where our Tradition was born.” He added that the questions all “seemed to hinge on [their] Tradition with a Pagan and a Witch not of our Tradition answering for us.” That is how the original article was received.

Santika reported that they immediately contacted the Broadly writer who was at first “quite hesitant to engage.” But the site eventually made the requested changes. Santika said that they removed “all mention of Wildwood,” and removed all photographs of “individuals who did not consent to their images being used in this way.” He added, “Basically, all the information about the Wildwood Tradition that was originally on there (now changed) was given by a Pagan / Witch not of our Tradition so was all entirely incorrect, but thank the Gods and our own our own actions that it’s all gone now.”

In Other News

  • Pagan Blogger John Halstead announced that a hearing in the “Whiting 41” case has been scheduled for Jan. 13 at the Lake Superior Court in Hammond, Indiana. As we reported last May, Halstead and 40 others were arrested during a climate change protest at the local Whiting Oil Refinery. Earlier this week, he and those arrested put out a call for a peaceful protest to be held at the courthouse during the hearing.The Facebook event page reads, “Join us […] to lend your support to the Whiting 41. […] Bring your singing voices. There will be singing and chanting and some street theater (as well as hot coffee).”
  • The blog Thrillist recently shared a story on Minnesota-based Sidhe Brewery. In May 2015, we talked to the Wiccan owners as the business got off the ground. Our article focused on the magical aspects of the brewery, its launch and operation. The new 2016 article focuses on the business as a safe space for the local LGBTQ community. “We’re not trying to advertise ourselves as ‘the queer bar,’ because we’re not, we’re a queer space,” said head brewer/co-owner Kathleen Culhane. “But we’re making it more in the forefront when we put ourselves out there. This is an LGBTQIA — whatever, alphabet soup — friendly bar. We are committed to diversity in all things.”
  • Blogger Heather Awen has recently put out a call for submissions for a new non-profit project that will result in a book titled Steel Bars, Sacred Waters: Celtic Paganism for Prisoners. The book will include rituals, guided meditations, and deity information rooted in Celtic tradition and creatively tailored for polytheists in prison. Why? Awen feels that many inmates learn about Paganism in prison, but there is very little material on Celtic-based practices. Submissions are due May 15, 2017.
  • Many Gods West has opened registration for the 2017 conference held in Olympia, WA. The event is a “gathering of peers to support the growth and practice of Polytheism. […] Join us for three days of discussion, devotion, ritual, and theology! We are now open for registration and for programming proposals.” The 2017 event will be held Aug. 4-6.

That is it for now. Have a nice day.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Druid Daniel Scott Holbrook, also known as Cú Meala, was arrested Wednesday and charged, according to records, with one count of the “dissemination of obscenities.” As noted by the Gaston Gazatte, 29-year-old Holbrook “allegedly sent [an undercover] detective a photo of a nude child around 8-10 years old.”

TWH has been in touch with the local Gaston County authorities, but have not yet been unable to confirm the reported specifics of the sheriff’s investigation or details of the arrest. What we do know is that Holbrook was in fact arrested Wednesday on the stated felony charge and placed in the Gaston county jail. His bond was set at $25,000.

[Sheriff Gaston County, N.C.]

[Sheriff Gaston County, N.C.]

Holbrook is a resident of Gastonia, but is originally from Maryland. He recently took a job at a local Walmart and, along with his wife, is co-owner of Cait Sidhe Designs, a company specializing in “specialize in original artwork, devotional jewelry, and spiritual and ritual supplies.”

Over the past five years, Holbrook has become an up-and-coming leader within Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF)‘s eastern-based communities. He began his own spiritual journey with Maryland-based Cedar Light Grove and then, after moving south, he started Raven’s Hollow Protogrove in 2015. As noted on its site, Raven’s Hollow was conceived when “its founder was told in ritual by the Irish goddess the Morrígan to ‘establish a Druid Grove in honor of Herself,’ in order to bring together the widely decentralized Druid population of the Carolinas, and provide a public space for Pagans of all denominations to feel safe to come and worship.”

After the grove’s establishment, Holbrook reached out to Coru Cathubodua, another Pagan organization uniquely dedicated to the Morrigan. In response, the California-based group sent a gift and a blessing to Raven’s Hollow for their growth and continued success.

Additionally, Holbrook is one of the organizers for the area’s Piedmont Pagan Pride Day event. His grove led the 2016 opening ceremonies. He, himself, hosted a talk on “The Many Faces of the Morrígan: Worship of the Great Queens, Past and Present” and participated on an interfaith panel representing Druidry.

Holbrook’s community efforts did not go unrecognized. In May 2016, he was appointed to the position of Deputy Regional Druid by the Regional Druid Rev. Nancy McAndrew.

Public reaction to the news of Holbrook’s arrest has been heated and varied, from surprise and disappointment to frustration and anger.

Rev. Caryn MacLuan of Maryland’s Cedar Light Grove told The Wild Hunt, “Scott was a member in good standing with our grove for a number of years. We have never known him to be less than honest and ethical at all times. I have spoken to two witnesses of this event and it sounds like a download trojan of some sort. We will wait for the outcome of the legal system before considering further moves.”

Coru Cathubodua issued a reaction, saying, “The Coru Cathubodua stand firmly and unwaveringly against all forms of abuse and predatory behavior. We have not met Mr. Holbrook personally.The ADF’s Raven’s Hollow Protogrove reached out to us based on their devotional focus on the Morrigan. Given that they were an ADF Protogrove, we felt that their values would be in alignment with ours and wished to encourage and support a new group in their devotion. We would never knowingly tolerate or support a child predator and we stand with the community in protecting itself from dangerous and predatory behaviors.”

When ADF’s Mother Grove learned of the arrest, the organization was quick to announce that it would be assessing the situation very carefully. On Nov. 4, the board released this public statement:

It has come to the attention of the Mother Grove that one of our Grove Organizers was arrested a couple of days ago on a single charge of distributing inappropriate material. We pray for the family involved, and we hope that, innocent or guilty, justice will prevail. In the United States, we work under the presumption of innocence until proven guilty; however, the Mother Grove has a responsibility to act accordingly for the protection of its members, and we also will allow the party involved to work through the justice system. This individual has been removed from all leadership positions while they are navigating through the legal system. If the person is found innocent of the charge, they will be allowed to ask for reinstatement if they so desire.

As noted in the ADF statement, Holbrook has been removed from all leadership positions, including his new Deputy Regional role. Additionally, ADF chose to make Raven’s Hollow Protogrove inactive; Holbrook has since closed it down completely.

We were unable to reach Holbrook, his family, or grove members for comment in time for publication.

TWH did learn that, after being taken into custody, Holbrook appeared in court on Nov. 3. He was assigned a public defender and a trial date of Nov. 22. Holbrook posted bond and is no longer being held.

We will continue to follow this story and update you as it unfolds.  

[The Wild Hunt welcomes Nathan Hall back as today’s guest journalist. He makes his home in South Florida where he works for a local media company and lives with his wife and soon-to-be first child. He grew up without any real religious background but always felt connected with the spirits of the land. Because of this connection he has always felt a strong kinship with environmental causes and the primacy of nature over humanity’s exploitation of it. Nathan has followed many paths, including ceremonial magick, Norse and Druidic traditions. Recently, he has come into alignment with the Temple of Witchcraft tradition where he is a student in the Mystery School. You can find more of his writing at The Arrival and the Reunion.]

CANNONBALL, N.D. — In a remote, northern part of the country, a battle over water and indigenous rights is brewing. Earlier this year, a pipeline was set to be put in place just north of the city of Bismarck, North Dakota. Residents of the city had legitimate fears of what that could mean for their water supply and protested the pipeline, after which it was relocated south of the city, and just north of the water intake of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s land.

That move has many questioning why this move was seen as an acceptable alternative and what the environmental impact will be.

“I feel that my Paganism is directly linked to a call to activism, eco-activism and anti-racism specifically. I think both of those are really tied up into this protest,” said Colleen Cook, a witch in the Reclaiming tradition, after returning from a five day stay at a protest camp set up near Standing Rock Sioux land.

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Sacred Stone Camp, one of several camps in the area [Courtesy Casey McCarthy]

Like many others, Cook felt called to the camps to be an ally and to stand witness to what is occurring.

“I thought about my role as a Pagan in the space I was occupying while I was there and it really felt most appropriate to follow the leadership of the indigenous leadership there,” Cook said.

Called the Dakota Access pipeline, or DAPL for short, it is a project of Energy Transfer Partners. Many are already familiar with the story due to very well-publicized pictures published across national media of indigenous protesters being arrested or riding horses in front of lines of police. From the beginning, there have been claims that construction by Dakota Access has been happening illegally, and many of the people in the protest camp believe that to be the case. Standing Rock leaders have filed an injunction to halt further development of the area.

Linda Black Elk lives in Standing Rock where she has children who are enrolled members of the Standing Rock Sioux. She’s been regularly attending the protests since the beginning. She said, “When I first got wind of what was going to happen, I contacted some friends who are pretty well-known pipeline fighters around here. Then a lady named Ladonna Bravebull gave her land for the [Sacred Stone] camp. That was back in April.”

Since that time, the protest camps, of which there are several, have been steadily growing. But it wasn’t until late July and early August when confrontations with Dakota Access and state police began to be publicized on social media, that people started pouring into the area. Eventually one camp became two, occupying both sides of the Missouri River. While estimates vary, some have claimed that the camps have swelled to between 1000-2000 people at times.

And this fight has resounded throughout many communities, bringing in allies from many other tribes and uniting the seven Lakota tribes who last fought together at the Battle of Little Bighorn, defeating General Custer. Environmental activists have also been drawn to the cause, as well as many from the Pagan community.

Casey McCarthy, the Folk Liaison for Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF)’s Mountain Ancestors Grove in Boulder, Colorado, took a convoy of three cars filled with supplies to the Standing Rock protesters at the Sacred Stone Camp.

“We got several donations from local Pagan folk and members of our community, both monetary and material,” he said.

Truckload of supplies going to Sacred Stone Camp [Courtesy Casey McCarthy]

Truckload of supplies going to Sacred Stone Camp [Courtesy Casey McCarthy]

They collected bottled water, camping gear, and other items specifically requested by camp organizers. McCarthy feels that there’s a deeper reason that this issue has found resonance within the Pagan community. He said, “As a magickal-believing people, the timing of this is quite incredible. Almost as if nature itself is reaching out and saying, hey, you guys purport yourselves to be supporters of nature, let’s do this.”

McCarthy added, “In terms of our role as stewards of nature worship, I think that for things like (the pipeline protest), the Pagan community could rally and do incredible things.”

Those actions may need to include some of the work that is less glamorous but more long-lasting, according to Payu Harris, McCarthy’s traveling companion in the caravan.

“Protests are effective and useful, especially in this case for raising awareness across the globe,” said Harris, an activist and member of the Northern Cheyenne, who founded Mazacoin, a bitcoin-like alternative for indigenous people. He said that, in spite of this, the legislative route is where long-term success will be won. That is in the works.

“The energy industry has way more lobbying power than we do. We need a lobbying effort at the DC level to start talking about our issues … we have to change it at that point in order to have any sustainable results.”

Black Elk, who is an ecologist and teaches ethnobotany at Sitting Bull College, said that the environmental and cultural impact of allowing any pipeline through the area, whether it crosses the river or not, could be disastrous. Already, the completed construction has had an impact.

“I’ve done surveys of those of those areas, even before there was any pipeline to be put in, that’s an area that I would go and I would look at plants. We have echinacea, traditional berries, licorice root, different kinds of sage. There’s like a hundred plant species that we still use and harvest that already have been completely decimated in that area,” Black Elk said.

During a project like Dakota Pipeline, one of the first tasks is called an environmental impact statement. This statement is a survey of the region that would be affected by the incoming pipeline, including the cataloging of native plant and animal species, culturally significant areas, as well as noting how the construction will change the environment.

Black Elk said the impact statement was not done by the Army Corps, but by a company hired by Dakota Access. This practice is not that uncommon. However Black Elk added, “This statement was so bad that it didn’t even mention that there’s an endangered species of butterfly there. Sacred sites? Not even mentioned. Culturally important plants? Not even mentioned. I’ve never seen one done so badly.”

Protesters at Sacred Stone Camp [Courtesy Casey McCarthy]

Protesters at Sacred Stone Camp [Courtesy Casey McCarthy]

Sustainability of the protest is another issue that the Standing Rock camps organizers are pondering. Winter comes early on the northern prairie, and they are looking for ways to not simply survive the winter, but to do it with as little impact on the environment as possible.

“We have teepees, which are of course made for this area, but we’d like a better way than to keep using firewood,” Black Elk explained. One thing she said that they would really like to have is cob stoves, which burn corn cobs and are clean and efficient.

“They’re looking for lots of information about solar, infrastructure, composting toilets, outdoor showers. If there are people that have that knowledge or resources, they’re building a community from the ground up,” added Colleen Cook.

There are also many children in the camps who are in need of school supplies and indigenous educators to come to the area to teach them. Cook mentioned that she was already thinking about returning to the camps from her home in Minneapolis, with her car filled with the necessities for a new school year.

More than anything, the biggest resource that everyone kept bringing up was more people. Kevin Decker is a Pagan and activist from Kansas City, Missouri who met Lakota youth as they participated in a 500-mile run to the field office of the Army Corps of engineers in Omaha, Nebraska from Cannonball, North Dakota to deliver petitions against Dakota Access. Decker was part of the Up to Us Caravan that protested at the Democratic National Convention at the time. He was so inspired by the children’s message that he decided to join the camp. Decker was also among the first arrested when police were trying to enforce an expanding blockade.

He said the camps really need “people that have the ability to come in and not take things personally and plug in in ways that are beneficial.”

Respect for the indigenous leadership is key, he noted, saying it was more important to fill roles that are service-oriented, as well as being of service and observing what’s happening.

Cook agreed with that sentiment, and said, “I think allies are needed to make more space for the work of indigenous people (who are) getting to connect together. I spent most of my time working in the kitchen. The main cook there, named Tink, I felt like my main mission was (to) relieve some stress from Tink. I think that is the call, for allies to come in and help relieve some of this burden.”

Linda Black Elk invited anyone in sympathy with the cause to come to the camps.

“It doesn’t matter what spirituality you practice, it doesn’t matter what culture or race, everyone is welcome because this really is about all of us. As we come to the end of the fossil fuel age, they get more and more desperate to take the last bit of blood they can from our mother. We need that unity and we need people here with us,” she said.

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[Courtesy Casey McCarthy]

There was also an expressed yearning for people in the Pagan community to more publicly embrace their identity. Cook brought up the role that Paganism plays in this and other movements. “Black Lives Matter to me is a place where I really believe the presence of Witches, if ever there was a moment… I’d like for the world to know that Witches are showing up for this stuff, I’d like there to be ways for us to say we’re Witches or Pagans and we’re here because I think that’s a really important message.”

In fact, bridging gaps, plugging into numerous community efforts, and understanding different perspectives may be an inherently Pagan quality, according to Casey McCarthy. Pondering the multiple sources of divinity in his own polytheistic practice, he said, “That is so valuable in trying to create a world in which we can all love each other. We need to work together with other groups to make this world a more lovely and compassionate place.”

As we noted on Monday, groups like Solar Cross have been sending supplies and donations to the camps. Others have joined them. If you or your group are looking for other ways to help, they suggest visiting the Standing Rock Sioux’s website to send a letter to your representative. These sites also provide information about how you can make a donation.

We will update this story as it unfolds. The federal judge is due to rule on the case Sept. 9. 

AdflogoTROUT LAKE, Wash. — Over the weekend, Columbia Grove, ADF hosted its first Pan-Pagan camping festival at White Mountain Druid Sanctuary in Trout Lake, Washington. The festival, called Beyond the Gates, was attended by 35 people, and featured a variety of workshops and rituals. For example, ADF Archdruid Emeritus Reverend Kirk Thomas, who co-owns and operates Trout Lake Abbey on which the sanctuary is located, offered two lectures: Celtic Arthur and The Ancient Celtic Religion. Phaedra Bonewits was there to host a workshop on Ritual Participation and the Life and Times of Isaac Bonewits.

Among the rituals held was one dedicated to the goddess Fortuna, which, they said, “dates back to the Roman Republic.” It was held Friday night in the Druid Sanctuary’s Stone Circle. Senior Druid Jonathan Levy led the ritual and “was joined by the grove’s Bard leader, Arin Hembd.” Hembd said that Levy decided to do this ritual because of Fortuna’s “unbroken following.” Hembd explained,”Under many guises and forms this goddess is worshiped continuously through the present time, with such examples of Luck Be a Lady Tonight (from the musical “Guys and Dolls”) and phrases like, ‘How fortunate you are.’”

Fortuna Ritual 2016 [Courtesy Photo]

Fortuna Ritual 2016 [Courtesy Photo]

This inaugural Beyond the Gates festival was considered a huge success, and the group hopes to do it again next year. Hembd said, “Guests mentioned feeling as though they truly were Beyond the Gates when entering the property of Trout Lake Abbey, which has a deeply sacred feeling.” Levy and Hembd added that they were able to interview some of the attendees, such as Bonewits, Thomas and others. The interviews will be uploaded to their Part the Mist podcast over the next few weeks.

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12316223_1631300617133094_8428530917145938191_nOLYMPIA, Wash. — In less than one month, Pagans, Heathens and polytheists will be heading to Washington state to attend the second annual Many Gods West conference. The event is hailed as “A Polytheist Gathering for the Pacific Northwest.” Throughout the weekend several different rituals will be offered, including those hosted by Jason Mankey, Cascadia Grove, ADF, the Golden Gate Kindred, Marcella “Allec” McGuire, Sean Donahue, Anaar Niino, Laura Tempest Zakroff, Phoenix LaFae, and Gwion Raven.

Other presentations are focused on an array of topics from “Teaching to Transgress: Decolonizing Polytheistic and Pagan Pedagogies” and “Uprooting Patriarchy in Paganism and Polytheism” to “Working with Water Spirits” and “Bee Magic and Medicine.” One of the other features of this year’s event is a Plenary Session, titled “Building Polytheist Community,” and hosted by blogger John Beckett.

Syren Nagakyrie, one of the conference organizers, said, “What I find the most amazing is the feedback we have received about Many Gods West from people who attended last year, and the level of excitement from people who will attend this year for the first time. Many Gods West is a very welcoming and inclusive space of peers and we are committed to maintaining that space. We take hospitality for people and gods very seriously. While we are not an anti-capitalist conference, we do hold those values very closely; we are queer, we are anti-racist, anti-transphobic, and stand against bigotry. We are also entirely organized by women. These things form the legs which support our work with the gods and create a welcoming place at the table for Them as well. I think our presentations and rituals, none of which were solicited by the organizers, show this. To bring together so many devoted people from diverse backgrounds in celebration of the gods and each other is a great honor and a wonderful opportunity for our communities.” Many Gods West will be held Aug 5-7 at the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia Washington.

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66090_459490960760083_1647551926_nPENSACOLA, Fla. — As we reported last week, local Pagan David Suhor is scheduled to deliver an invocation before the Pensacola City Council on behalf of The Satanic Temple. Suhor made news in 2014 when he delivered an invocation before the September meeting of the Escambia Board of County Commissioners. During that delivery he sang a prayer written by Starhawk with “accompanying magical gestures.”

This time around, Suhor will be delivering his invocation as member of The Satanic Temple. After it became known that he was on the schedule, the city council began debating whether to end its inclusive prayer policy. A special meeting was held July 7 to discuss the issue and allow for public comment. During that meeting, as reported by the local press. “a theological debate unfolded for an hour and half.” Suhor was at the July 7 meeting and asked the council to “replace the invocations with something that allows everyone to speak or pray or think according to their own conscience.” He ended his plea with “Hail Satan!”

In the end, the council opted to keep its inclusive prayer policy, which means Suhor will be delivering the invocation July 14. All city meetings are live-streamed and recorded for public viewing.

In other news

  • The Adocentyn Research Library, located in Northern California, announced that it now “has 9,461 books.” Although not officially open, Adocentyn continues to grow and gather needed resources in order to fulfill its mission to become the “premier Pagan research center in the Western US.” Volunteers gather several times each month to catalog the many donated books and put them on shelves. Anyone interested in helping the cause can volunteer to assist with various tasks, or can donate books or funds.The library’s Facebook page is kept up to date.
  • In the wake of recent events, groups of Pagans and Heathens are calling for unity in magical workings with intent of ending violence and promoting justice. Pagan author Dana Eilers offered the following: “Is it time to lend our considerable power to the scourge of violence that is swallowing our country this summer? Yes, it is! More violence is not the answer. I suggest a National Magical Movement aimed to STOP THE VIOLENCE NOW. The July full moon occurs on the night of July 19. So, at midnight between July 19-July 20 (whenever midnight occurs in your respective time zones), perform a magical working, cast a spell, pray to your gods, meet in ritual, and do whatever it is that you do best to STOP THE VIOLENCE NOW”
  • The Covenant of the Goddess is getting ready for its annual Merry Meet conference, which is to be held August 11 – August 14. Each year the event is sponsored by a different local council, located around the country. This year it is being hosted by Northern California Local Council (NCLC) and is being held in San Jose, California. Merry Meet is a conference that typically offers workshops, vendors, community, as well as providing a setting for the organization’s annual business meeting Grand Council.
  • Another organization that is planning its annual summer gathering is Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS). Last year, the organization relaunched its conference, called Convocation, after a ten year hiatus. The event was held in July 2015. This year’s Convocation will be held in late August in the historic town of Salem, Mass. The 2016 guest speakers include Byron Ballard, John Beckett, Gypsy Ravish, Lauren Estan, Rev. Shirley Ranck and Rev. Amy Beltaine. In her blog post, J.K. Hildebrand writes, “All are welcome…CUUPS members, ministers, seminarians, and those interested in UU Paganism, earth and nature centered spirituality on all levels.”
  • UK writer The Bad Witch attended Treadwell’s recent conference on the UK Satanic Panic of the 1980s. In a blog post, she discusses the media’s role in that scare and highlights the work of one journalist, who “bucked the trend.” The Bad Witch writes, “Dr Rosie Waterhouse, now director of the MA in investigative journalism at City University London, was a reporter at the time. She investigated what was being called Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) and found that evidence to back up the claims simply didn’t exist.”

TWH – This month, the Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship membership voted on a new board of directors. Included in that process was the election of a new Archdruid. This position serves as the president of the ADF board and is considered to be both the organization’s administrative and spiritual leader. This year, members chose Rev. Jean Pagano, also known as Drum, to take the organizational reins from outgoing Archdruid Rev. Kirk Thomas.

[Courtesy Sean Harbaugh]

Rev. Jean Pagano, also known as Drum [Photo Credit: S. Harbaugh]

In a press release, Drum said, “I am touched and honored that people have chosen me to be their Archdruid – it is not a challenge that I take lightly and I promise to be Archdruid to all members.” He thanked the membership, the other candidates, the officers of the Mother Grove as well as the “Earth Mother, the Kindreds, and all of the people who have made ADF what it is today.”

Who is Drum? What is his background, and what does he envision for the future of ADF? In August 2015, fellow druid, ADF board member and priest, Sean Harbaugh interviewed Drum specifically about the organization’s work and his role as the Vice Archdruid. In the wake of the recent election, we caught up Drum to learn more about the man who will now be leading ADF for the next three years.

Raised in Chicago by French parents, Drum is both an American and French citizen. He went to a Catholic high school and then to the University of Illinois, where he received an undergraduate degree in philosophy. In time, he also earned both a master’s and Ph.D. in the same field. Drum said, “I was a young child of the ’60s, and I think a lot of the things that were happening at the time had an effect on me. I remember seeing lots of people in Grant Park in Chicago doing tai chi together, moving as one. I have never forgotten the image of a diverse group of people moving as one.”

Drum was raised Roman Catholic, and attended mass until he left for college. He said that this religion did not “resonate with [him] in the least” and that he wanted to find something “closer to his western European roots.” Drum explained, “I […] was attracted to stories of the ancient Gods and Druids. I believed that Paganism was still alive and well.”

Drum went on to say, “I was told in grade 8 that the Gods and Goddesses were no longer alive. I did not believe it.” Then, as a freshman in high school, he performed his first magical, Pagan working in the Hellenic tradition  He said, “I never turned back.”

Drum continued to practice his newly-adopted beliefs. However, at that time, he had no name for what he was doing or what he was. He had no general term to use for any of it. Then, he read John Mitchell’s book The View over Atlantis. Drum said, “[Mitchell] called what I was ‘paganism.’ Finally, I had a name for what I was. I read Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler and further understood who I was and what I believed.”

Around 1982, Drum reached out to Isaac Bonewits about the New Reformed Druids of North America. Drum recalled, “[Isaac] told me about a new group he was starting called ADF or Ár nDraíocht Féin. I joined ADF on March 10, 1984 and have been a member ever since.”

[Courtesy photo]

Drum [Courtesy photo]

Drum is also a third order Druid of the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA), a Druid Order member of OBOD, a second circle member of AODA, and an elder in various other organizations. When asked what drew him specifically to Druidry, Drum said, “I was drawn to [it] because of the connection to the Earth, to the Earth Mother, and to the Gods and Goddesses of the Indo-Europeans. I believed (and still do) in Isaac’s vision.”

Drum remained solitary for nearly 20 years of his time with ADF. However, he eventually decided to join a group. Over the past 12 years, he has been a member of Michigan-based Shining Lakes Grove and Cedarsong Grove. He said, “I have visited many groves in ADF. I like grove practice, but I also understand what has to be done as a solitary.”

Although his practice has been largely solitary, Drum has been an active and very busy member of ADF and the many other organizations in which he has been involved. For the past eight years, Drum has been ADF’s “List Master.” Additionally, he has served as the Upper Midwest Regional Druid, the Chief of the Council of Regional Druids, and the Vice Archdruid. Drum said that he has also been “the Chief of the Liturgist Guild, the Preceptor of the Naturalist Guild, the Registrar of the Seers Guild, the clergy adviser for the Order of Bardic Alchemy, the Preceptor for the Order of Manannan, the Treasurer for the Bardic Guild, the Coordinator for the Morrigan SIG.”

Drum is also an ADF master bard, an initiate, and a senior priest. He said, “I wear many hats because there are many hats to wear and not always enough people to fill those spots.”

During his service as Vice Archdruid, Drum carefully watched Rev. Kirk Thomas in order to learn. Drum said, “I wanted to be Archdruid after he left and when the opportunity presented itself, I stepped up to work for the position. […] I am one of the original members and I have seen ADF through the many years, in good times and bad, and I want to use that experience to help move us forward, keeping to Isaac’s Vision, which is vitally important.”

When asked about his interpretation of that vision going forward, Drum said, “I will try to lead the ADF Clergy Council and the Folk to continue to do the work and to help refine not only our message and our purpose, but to further Isaac’s Vision and let the world see what ADF is all about by letting them see what we do.” He explained further:

ADF is orthopraxic and not orthordoxic. We will talk about what you do – as far as ritual is concerned – and not tell you what to believe in. This is one of our great strengths. If you do these 18 steps known as the Core Order of Ritual then you have done an ADF ritual. We have certain parameters, such as no blood sacrifices, no Lord and Lady, no calling quarters or watchtowers, and Indo-European pantheons for High Day rites. Our rituals are broad and inclusive enough to fit the bill for many neo-pagans. Our High Day rites are open to the public because we want people to see what we do and be welcome. Our concept of hospitality requires that we be good hosts and good guests. I would like to believe that all of our members like to be good hosts and good guests.

Drum added that he would like to see ADF specifically focus on “hospitality.” He said, “I think we need to be open to people and able to welcome differing viewpoint[s] without devolving into bad behavior, whether it is on social media or around the campfire. Hospitality is the greatest of virtues because it requires others. Others might describe this as Right Action.”

Those positive works and “right actions” can come in many different forms. As this is Earth Day weekend, we asked if he felt that Druids have a unique role to play in the modern environmental movement, addressing topics such as climate change. Drum said, “I think that Druids -– of all stripes -– have a part to play […] and it is a positive one: first, we must work our magics to support the Earth Mother, helping to heal her and helping to fix the damage that has been inflicted upon her. Secondly, we must do what we can to exhibit and express nature awareness. We can help green by being green.” Drum then returned back to the notion of “hospitality,” saying “Being a good guest and host extends past our own doorways into the natural world beyond.”

AdflogoWhen asked if he has observed significant changes in Paganism or the Druidry since he joined the newly formed ADF many years ago, he said “yes,” adding, “I am pleased at what I have seen. Druidry and Paganism have grown away from the acquisition and manipulation of personal power to the use of ritual and magical activities to work for positive changes in the world and for the protection of the Earth, which we call our Earth Mother. I realise that there is great diversity in the many different pagan and neo-pagan groups, but there is also a great commonality as well. ”

Drum will become ADF’s sixth Archruid since its founding in 1983. Outgoing Archdruid Rev. Kirk Thomas expressed his support for Drum, saying “I pray that the Gods and Spirits bless our new Archdruid and all his endeavors so that ADF will continue to grow and thrive in the future. And I give my blessing to him and to all the members of our church.”

On April 16, Rev. Thomas performed his final “official festival ritual as Archdruid at Trillium.” He has served as Archdruid for six years, or two terms. Although ADF bylaws allow for someone to serve for three terms, Rev. Thomas opted to not to run again, saying that “it is time to move on.”

KirkIsPresented

Rev. Kirk Thomas [Courtesy Photo]

While he still has a few more rituals to oversee in May and other duties to perform, Rev. Thomas’ time will soon be freed up to devote more energy to other commitments and pursue new projects. When asked what we might find him doing in the near future, he said, “I plan to continue my prison ministry and I have a couple more books in me waiting to get out. I also plan to spend more time working on my White Mountain Druid Sanctuary here in Trout Lake. I will also be attending festivals and giving workshops as I deepen my personal spiritual work.”

Rev. Thomas added, “I’m not going away!”

As for Drum, he is looking forward to the upcoming challenge. He noted how smooth the entire transitional process has been to date. going back to the beginning of the organization. He said, “We are able to transition power respectfully and properly – through the ballot box and not necessarily by fiat. We were able to transition from a charismatic leader like Isaac to Ian to Fox to Skip to Kirk and now to myself. After myself, I expect the transition will be a smooth one.”

Drum also added, “I envision a female Archdruid will follow me.”

Leading the large, international Druid organization will undoubtedly take up much of Drum’s free time over the next three years, or longer. When asked what we might find him doing when he’s not working at his day job as a systems administrator or tending to his ADF duties, Drum said, “My hobbies are reading about history and working on liturgy. I love creating small altars in many places in my world and working with them. Heraclitus said the gods love to hide and I like building altars where they might be. I enjoy travelling and attending festivals to not only talk about my Druidry, but to learn about other people’s practices. I try to find magic in the world and to appreciate the amazing beauty and power of the Earth (Mother) around us.”

Thinking about the future of ADF, Drum said, “I would love to see Neopaganism become a choice for people when choosing a religion. I believe that we must lead and attract people by example. People are drawn to Nature and the Earth Mother – perhaps by different names – and I want them to know that there is a choice when you come to choose a religious organisation.”

Drum takes office May 1, 2016 and will hold the position for a term of three years.

bcaa26b7f8aca9110e5f183331315fcb_400x400FLORIDA – While putting the final touches on its upcoming festival, Temple of Earth Gatherings (TEG) has found itself, once again, at the center of community controversy. TEG’s Florida Pagan Gathering (FPG) is a popular festival and has been one of the most well-attended Pagan events in that state since its inception in 1995. But, in 2014, the TEG board hit a snag, when it invited Yvonne and Gavin Frost, two teachers considered controversial, to present at that year’s spring event.

Since that point, FPG has be staged biannually without incident until recent months. In January, the Frosts announced that they would be returning to the festival circuit and attending FPG 2016, but the couple made no mention of offering any workshops. Their blog post went largely unnoticed. Then, two weeks ago, an anonymous person emailed an unpublished FPG 2016 festival booklet to a large group of people. The booklet listed the Frosts as workshop presenters, which immediately launched a public conversation, raising old concerns. Rumors and stories began quickly circulating.

When TEG became aware that the booklet was out, it announced that this circulating booklet had not been approved, nor was it official. Within one week, TEG published a new one that did not list the Frosts as presenters. The TEG Board would not confirm or deny any of the rumors and declined any further comment.

Sage. a former FPG staff member, told The Wild Hunt that he and several others resigned over this very issue. Until recently, Sage was the FPG workshop coordinator and he said, “I resigned largely because I was instructed that it was my job to keep secret certain workshops that the Board of Directors was aware would upset some portion of the community. This deceit came in direct conflict with my moral and ethical codes of conduct.” There are also reportedly some copyright issues involving the printing and publication of the two versions of the festival booklets, which have nothing directly to do with the workshop issue itself. Sage did add that he personally will not be attending the event.

At this point, FPG is still moving forward. Several of the scheduled presenters have confirmed that they will be attending after speaking privately with the board about raised concerns, and no protests against TEG are currently in the works. As for the Frosts, they typically communicate via “snail mail” and could not respond for comment in time for publication. But we will update this story as needed.

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AdflogoTUCSON, Ariz. – Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) announced the election of its new Archdruid Rev. Jean Pagano. Effective May 1, Rev. Pagano will “take the reins” from Rev. Kirk Thomas, who has been serving as ADF’s spiritual and administrative leader since 2010. Pagano said, “I am touched and honoured that people have chosen me to be their Arch Druid – it is not a challenge that I take lightly and I promise to be Archdruid to all members.”

This past Saturday, Rev. Thomas led his final ritual as Archdruid at Trillium. He said, “I think that it’s been a good six years, and it has always been my intent to serve ADF well, but it’s time for me to move on. I shall, of course, remain highly involved in ADF, and perhaps even hold some minor leadership roles in the future, but I shall also be taking more time for myself. I want to thank everyone in ADF who has supported me in my journey as ADF Archdruid, and I know that ADF shall continue to grow and thrive in the future.”

Rev. Pagano will served as Archdruid for the next three years. He was thankful to be chosen and said, “He added, I want to thank the Earth Mother, the Kindreds, and all of the people who have made ADF what it is today. May the Gods always provide.”

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Priestess Miriam with Aiyda [Courtesy Photo]

Priestess Miriam with Aiyda [Courtesy Photo]

NEW ORLEANS – Priestess Miriam of the Voodoo Spiritual Temple has announced the new location for her famous New Orleans temple. As we previously reported, on Feb 1, the historic building, which had been the temple’s home for twenty-four years, was destroyed by an electrical fire. At first Priestess Miriam had hoped that renovations would allow her to move back into the classic Creole cottage. However, that was not the case. Damage was too severe.

She began searching for a new location, which was reportedly “not an easy task in one of America’s most fastly gentrifying and expensive cities.” However, she was finally able to locate a space at 1428 North Rampart near its intersection with Esplanade. Witchdoctor Utu reports, “The New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual Temple will begin a brand new era.” He also said that the temple is “not out of the woods yet.” Most of the renovations and moving tasks are complete but the setup and “sense of normalcy” has yet to return.

On behalf of Priestess Miriam, Utu added, “We cannot thank everyone enough who have contributed to the still existing GoFundMe campaign, this would simply not have been possible with out the beautiful people who continue to support, promote and contribute to the various fund raising efforts, much of it from around the entire North American Continent. Lots of work ahead but we continue to count our blessings and gratitude abounds. Soon enough we will be able to share some photos of the new building as it begins to settle into its new home.”

In Other News

  • Earth Day is coming up Friday, Apr. 22 and people around the world are planning their events. In dedication to that day, several Pagans in London are reviving a yearly tradition formerly run by Wiccan High Priestess Jean Willams (1928-2015). On Apr. 23, organizers and attendees will gather at 1 pm at the Highgate Tube Station, Priory Gardens exit. They will then walk from the “tube to the wood.” The group will collect “rubbish in Queens Wood till about 3:30 pm.”  After that, the group will picnic and a have an “attunement in the clearing.” Organizers look forward to seeing everyone come out for this London Earth Day tradition.
  • Similarly, Tuesday Apr. 19, Starhawk will join Rev. Selena Fox on her weekly podcast to discuss current environmental issues, climate change and ways to incorporate eco-activism in daily life. Additionally, Starhawk will talk about her “Earth Activist trainings, her permaculture work, and her visionary novel, The Fifth Sacred Thing and its long-awaited sequel, City of Refuge.” The podcast, titled “EcoPagan EcoMagic,” will air Tuesday night at 7 pm CT. 
  • The Troth is preparing to host its annual event called Trothmoot. This year’s four day camping festival will be held in Port Townsend, Washington at Ft. Flagler State Park. The organization writes, “Heathens from all over the world are invited to gather in the Pacific Northwest for a celebration of Heathen diversity and spirituality. Hosted by Hrafnar and Heathen Freehold Troth KAP Kindreds, and our Washinton and Pacific Northwest Troth members, come for fellowship, ritual, workshop, skaldship, and of course Northwest hospitality.” Trothmoot begins June 9 and runs through June 12. Registration is open on the Troth’s site.
  • On May 1, Heathens United Against Racism will be hosting Light the Beaconsa worldwide action calling “on all Heathens around the world who stand for inclusive, tolerant, and diverse practice to light a beacon in solidarity with all other Heathens who stand for these values in our spirituality.” HUAR asks participating individuals to light a candle, or some other form of light, at any point during that day. They also ask for photos of that light to be posted on the event Facebook event site. Organizers write, “Together we will ignite a fire in our hearts and homes that will push back the shadows of fear & ignorance, shine light on our honor, and rally the hopes of Heathens everywhere.
  • Athena: Sharing Current Research is still looking for presenters for its June conference in London. The site explains, “This conference will share current research on a deity that has been a topic of interest since the dawn of classical scholarship and through its various ‘turns.’ The event will appraise various ways to approach the goddess by drawing together current researchers from the UK, France, Italy, and, we hope, elsewhere.” Submissions are due by Apr. 30. The conference will take place on June 3 at the “Adam Room, Grove House, University of Roehampton, London.”

That’s it for now. Have a great day!

AMHERST, Mass. — Ellen Evert Hopman first collected the interviews in her new book, A Legacy of Druids, in 1996. She did so using methods that might seem antiquated in today’s fast-paced world: by having conversations in person, and by asking questions by mail. The fact that it took twenty years to publish the results of her work echoes the words of the late Isaac Bonewits, “as fast as a speeding oak.” Some things simply should not be rushed.

A Legacy of Druids coverBonewits, who founded Ár nDraíocht Féin in 1983, is one of the people that Hopman spoke with to create this book. Because he and others interviewed, including Lady Olivia Robertson, have since passed away served as an impetus to get this book published, Hopman told The Wild Hunt. “I had a sense that it was historically important,” she explained.

However, the technical hurdles were not insignificant. Much of the original work was saved on floppy disks that were inaccessible because it’s all but impossible to find that kind of drive anymore. Hopman had to resort to scanning transcriptions of the interviews, which she had originally done on a typewriter. This created other issues. As can happen when text is scanned, it “was full of weird symbols, it was just a terrible mess,” she recalled. The entire document had to be carefully reconstructed to make to readable again.

But reconstruction, in another form, is something quite familiar to Hopman. Her approach to Druidry is Celtic reconstructionism, which seeks to build upon the oldest written sources to learn about Druidic ritual, belief, and philosophy. Since that tradition was oral, the best sources available are the writings of Christian monks who recounted the stories of the Druids in the seventh century.”It’s honoring what the ancients did,” she said, but it’s not the only way to follow the path. A Legacy of Druids shows that such diversity is as much in evidence a generation ago as it is today.

Phillip Carr-Gomm, longtime leader of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD), weaves together the many perspectives in his foreword:

. . . when I read the interviews Ellen has collected here, I realised that they articulate most of the issues contemporary Druidry is still concerned with today, and the insights they offer are as valid now as they were twenty years ago. This in itself would be sufficient justification for publication, but in addition I found I could engage with the material in another way. In reading the interviews, I had the benefit of hindsight – twenty years on I could see what ambitions had been realised, and whether any fears had proved justified. In addition, I could imagine how a similar collection gathered today might differ, and I could start to get some sense of what legacy modern Druidry might be leaving the world.

Many of the Druids interviewed for the book are from Britain, which is why Hopman opted to go with a British publisher, Moon Books, at Carr-Gomm’s suggestion. “They accepted it in 24 hours,” she said, and that interest seems to be reflected in the fact that Amazon is showing it as a bestseller, even though it’s not due to be released until April 29. According to Moon Books’ Nimue Brown, “I can only think that’s people pre-ordering copies – and to a degree that we just don’t normally see this far ahead of a book’s release. And of course rankings are all relative – if five people all bought Ellen’s book in a short time frame when no one else was picking up Druid titles, it would put her high on the list for a while.”

That’s something Hopman finds gratifying. One of her other dozen books, Being a Pagan: Druids, Wiccans, and Witches Today, was included on a Huffington Post list entitled “27 Essential Texts About Paganism For Your Bookshelf.” However, she hasn’t seen that translate into sales. That text is the intellectual ancestor of A Legacy of Druids as it follows the same interview model, one that Hopman decided to use for her own Druidic path as it matured and grew. As Hopman wrote in her introduction:

As Druidism slowly gained recognition, I saw that a forum was needed where Druids too could express themselves so that the public would come to know us more fully. At this time in history Druids are still a small sub-set of the current Neo-Pagan revival, with many different flavors and beliefs within each sect. . . . The one thing we all have in common is our reverence for nature and a passionate desire to protect our Mother Earth.

Hopman told The Wild Hunt that she was never trained as a writer, and that she sometimes feels like her projects are directed by a divine force. That sense was especially strong when writing the first of her Iron Age Druidic fiction trilogy Priestess of the Forest. As she explained, “Writing it felt like watching a movie; I was just the scribe.” That might be an apt description, because a screenplay is currently being written based on that book, with Elyse Poppers already having been cast to play the female lead. “That’s new ground for me,” Hopman said. “I’m just lunging ahead.”

While the official release of A Legacy of Druids is April 29 to coincide with Beltane, Hopman does have signed copies available through her web site right now.

TROUT LAKE, Wash — This coming spring the Cascadia Grove of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) is planning to break ground on a fourth shrine. This one will be dedicated to Cernunnos. Cascadia Grove is located in the Seattle, Washington area and plans to build the shrine next to the others that it has built at Trout Lake Abbey.

According to ADF, an international modern Druid group, Cernunnos is a horned God of liminality, commerce, and the forest.

The Grove hosted an online fundraiser in December for the proposed shrine and raised just under $3500 toward their projected costs of $25,000. The Grove has plans to host another fundraiser this Spring to cover the remainder of the costs of completion.

Artist's rendering of the proposed shrine to Cernunnos

Artist’s rendering of the proposed shrine to Cernunnos [Courtesy Photo]

The proposed shrine will be constructed with wood pillars, concrete walls and a reinforced sheet metal roof. This will form a sheltered area where persons can place incense and other offerings. The plans also include a fire altar and an oak tree wooden bench for meditation.

Kirk Thomas, Archdruid of ADF and co-owner of Trout Lake Abbey, said that the design for the shrines came to him while in a trance, “I designed the shrines and then hired folks to build them. I ‘see’ them in trance and hold the images in my mind. Now, some of the icons are original but others are riffs on drawings in an old RJ Stewart book.” He added that, in the past, he hired a local artist to assist in building the shrines and will use the same artist for the new one.

Thomas explained that the shrines are important as foci for veneration, saying “While we can always worship at our home shrines, there’s something special about being able to visit a place of multiple shrines where other people have also worshipped. It’s about community and about honoring sacred spaces. And, if I may say so, it’s really cool.”

Cascadia Grove already has built three other shrines, a stone circle, and a labyrinth at the White Mountain Druid Sanctuary located on the Trout Lake Abbey property. Previously, the other shrines were funded by members of the Cascadia Grove and cost about $20,000 each to construct.

Stone Circle at White Mountain Druid Sanctuary at Trout Lake Abbey.

Stone Circle at White Mountain Druid Sanctuary at Trout Lake Abbey. [Courtesy Photo]

The other shrines built are dedicated to the Dagda, an Irish god of Appetite, the Morrigan,  an Irish goddess of battle, death, and rebirth, and Lugh, an Irish god of many talents commonly depicted holding a spear.

Shrines to the Dagda, the Morrigan, and Lugh

Shrines to the Dagda, the Morrigan, and Lugh [Courtesy Photo]

Thomas said that there are future plans for more shrines. They would like to create structures dedicated to Rhiannon, Lleu Llaw Gyffes, Taranis, Brigit and Fire Goddesses, an Ancestor Mound with an incubation chamber, and a temple to the All Gods. People are welcome to visit the current shrines and to stay overnight in the Abbey lodge.

Trout Lake Abbey is privately owned by Thomas and by Thay Kozen Sampson. Sampson is affiliated with the Mount Adams Zen Center, also located on the property. Both religious groups rent land and facilities from Trout Lake Abbey for $1 per year. Thomas said that there are plans to transfer ownership of Trout Lake Abbey to a religious 501(c)3.

11892119_10153539515579120_7165674815583408908_nOver the last week, University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou) graduate students and the school’s administration have clashed over a number of issues including student insurance benefits and overall treatment. The more than 1200 students, calling themselves the Forum for Graduate Rights, have threatened to walk-out of their jobs if the school does not meet their demands. These demands touch on everything from equitable pay, health benefits, tuition wavers, housing, childcare and fees.

The protest was sparked when the University announced that it would be cutting subsides used to pay for health insurance. Our own Wild Hunt columnist Eric O. Scott is one of the seven organizers of the movement. He is currently a graduate student at Mizzou working toward a PhD in English. Scott has been involved since the beginning and has been interviewed by local media.

After the demands were sent, the University did agree to restore the insurance subsidies. However, the students are still unimpressed. As Scott explains, “They have restored our health insurance for one year, but next year we could be right back in this position, and we still have a host of other grievances that haven’t been addressed. We are still rallying on Wednesday, both to celebrate our initial victory and to keep the pressure on the University of Missouri’s administration to recognize the importance of graduate student labor.” The student rally, which is now garnering faculty support, is planned for noon Aug. 26.

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Priestess Maya White Sparks [Photo Credit: M.W. Sparks]In Virginia, Priestess Maya White Sparks has been also been involved in organizing and attending protests and rallies. But for an entirely different cause. Known for her vocal support of tarot reading in Front Royal, Sparks lives in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountain community nested in the Shenandoah Valley. This region is slated to become home to Dominion’s new Atlantic Pipeline. The main gas line cuts through several of the area’s prized forests, just south of the Shenandoah National Forest.

Through the Women’s Alliance of Environmental Justice and Renewal, Sparks first helped to coordinate a local march in the town of Front Royal. But that march was part of a much larger grass-roots movement to protect the region from the planned pipeline. Sparks told The Wild Hunt, “…The deadline for transitioning to renewable energy is upon us. Be vigilant in your local community and say no to any new fossil fuel infrastructure! … Scientists report we are in the 6th Great Extinction, losing species at an unnaturally accelerated rate due to human impacts. Even the Pope sees the critical dangers facing humanity from climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and an exploitative world economy.”

The Front Royal rally was staged in conjunction with a seven state protest coordinated by Hands Across our Land. Sparks added that she is also working with a local core organizing group called Free Nelson, named after the town that will have the main gas pipeline running directly through its center. Sparks added, “When the Pope sounds like a Pagan, you know the writing is on the wall! The Fates have spoken. Please do what you can. Blessed Be!

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This August a new Pagan charity, called PagainAid, formed in the U.K. In the simplest terms, its mission is to “fight poverty and defend the environment.” Founded by Ian Chandler, PaganAid “seeks to break this vicious cycle by supporting communities to improve their lives by living in greater harmony with nature.

Along with Chandler, the new organization’s board includes Pagan Federation President Mike Stygal and Chief of the British Druid Order Philip Shallcrass (Greywolf). PaganAid has no paid staff and will be run only by volunteers. All donated money will be used directly to support projects that are inline with its mission. Specifically, PaganAid will partner with other international organizations to improve the lives of those people living in the poorest regions of the world, with the aim of curbing poverty and, at the same time, reducing carbon footprints.

Chandler explained, “Often people living in extreme poverty have little choice but to over-exploit their natural environment just to survive. We will use our supporters’ donations to help people generate an income that preserves the natural world, lifting them and their children out of poverty.” Chandler also said, “Sometimes, communities already living in harmony with nature are being pushed off their lands by outsiders who want to exploit their natural resources. We will support their campaigning and legal actions so that they can defend their lifestyles and roles as guardians of nature.” For more information on its projects and on donating, go to the PaganAid website.

In Other News:

  • Writer Kenya Coviak has launched a new book project that will showcase “images of Pagan Women of Color” and is looking for submissions. She explained, “[The Projectis about collecting, and preserving, images of real women of Pagan faiths so that other women who find themselves on these paths can look and say, ‘Hey, there is someone like me’.” Along with the images, the book will include interviews that will also be cross-posted in the Detroit Paganism Examiner. The specific requirements to be part of this new book are detailed on the media project’s Facebook page. All submissions are due Nov. 7. Once the book is published, a portion of the proceeds will go to Pagans In Need in Michigan.
  • Singer and songwriter Celia Farran will be performing her first ever live broadcast concert from home. To be aired on Aug. 26, the concert will stream through the site concertwindow.com. Farran said, “The show will be at least an hour and we shall see if it spills over. I have at least THREE hours of songs I want to share!”  The concert begins at 5 p.m. PDT. More information is available on the site.
  • Rev. Kirk S. Thomas has released his new book Sacred Gifts: Reciprocity and the Gods. Rev. Thomas is a Senior Priest and the Archdruid of Ár nDríaocht Féin, A Druid Fellowship (ADF). As noted in the book’s description, Sacred Gifts “explores the development of personal relationships with Gods and Spirits. [Rev. Thomas] describes the subtle and complex integration of personal commitment, devotion and reciprocal offerings that begin and sustain with the Gods and Spirits.” Published by ADF, the book is now available on Amazon.
  • In Sept, actor, singer and tarot creator Mark Ryan will be in the U.K. where he will be visiting the Atlantis Bookshop in London. While there, Ryan will be talking about his personal journey and signing copies of his new book, Hold Fast. Publisher John Matthews will also be on hand with only 40 copies of the new book. The signing and talk will be held on Sept 18 at 6.pm.
  • And finally, a photograph of Margot Adler’s memorial bench in New York City’s Central Park located near the west 93rd street entrance.

[Photo Credit: C. Weber]

[Photo Credit: C. Weber]

That’s all for now.  Have a nice day!