Archives For Austin

5980505.28As we reported in February, the trial had begun in the Phoenix Goddess Temple prostitution case. At the time, temple leader Tracy Elise told The Wild Hunt that she believed that she would be found innocent because she was “confident that the jurors recognize that the Phoenix Goddess Temple was never the brothel that prosecutors claimed.” However, on Mar 2, the jury disagreed and handed down a guilty verdict on all 22 counts.

Among those charges were the “conspiracy to commit illegal enterprise, illegal control of an enterprise, operating or maintaining a house of prostitution, multiple counts of money laundering and multiple counts of pandering.”

During the trial, Elise maintained that the temple was not a house of prostitution but a space offering spiritual services. In defense of that position, Elise’s son, Ben Wade, told local reporters, “We have the freedom of religion, […] The statute said, ‘No, you cannot touch genitals.’ To us, our religion and our belief, the body is the temple. The body is sacred. That may include the genitals. In fact, I’m pretty sure it does.”

However, the jury did not see it that way. After the verdict was read, Elise was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom. Elise’s sentencing date is set for Apr. 8.

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bucklandAuthor Raymond Buckland has been a public figure on the international Pagan scene for many decades. He is author of the popular book Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft and the founder of Seax-Wicca, among other things. However, over the past decade, Buckland has been dabbling in crafts that are external to his past work, including writing the fiction series The Bram Stoker’s Mysteries.

More recently, Buckland has been spotted doing standup comedy periodically at a local hotel in Millersburg, Ohio. At each recorded event, Buckland stands comfortably at the microphone with a brick wall behind him. He wears a black bowler hat and vest, which give him a distinguished and stylized appearance. The crowd can be heard laughing in the background as he delivers his jokes.

Buckland has uploaded several of his routines to YouTube, including the latest which he performed March 5.

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[Courtesy Doreen Valiente Foundation]

Coming this fall to Brighton will be a new play called Doreen: an English Witch. Written by Archie Caine and Roman Withers, and produced by Normal People Productions, the new play is scheduled to run around the same time as the two Brighton Witchcraft exhibitions sponsored by the Doreen Valiente Foundation (DVF) and the Centre for Pagan Studies (CPS).

As quoted in Pagan Dawn, Withers said, “The play will be a talking head style play, featuring a single set throughout, and will see Doreen tell stories of her life, ranging from meeting Gerald Gardner all the way to her last partner Ron, with the help of a training postulate.” The magazine also reports that “well-known local actress Peta Taylor” has accepted the title role of Doreen.

DVF has reportedly offered its full support in the writing and staging of the play, and will be receiving all production profits. Currently, Normal People Productions is advertising the play’s run dates as Nov 21-25 at the Emporium. However, Pagan Dawn has reported that this information is not accurate. The location and run time have apparently changed, and will be announced in the coming months.

In Other News:

  • The Sacred Space Conference begins Thursday in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Sacred Space is an “annual esoteric conference on the East Coast for intermediate to advanced practitioners.” As noted on the website, each year featured guests and a “host of highly qualified regional teachers offer a wide variety of workshops and rituals developed for a more advanced audience.” This year’s feature presenters include: Ian Corrigan, Ivo Dominguez Jr. and Ellen Lorenzi-Prince. The conference will run through Sunday and is held at the Hunt Valley Inn. For up to the minute information on changes and announcements, attendees can follow Sacred Space on Facebook.
  • Speaking of conferences, the Pagan Federation International is getting ready for its 16th annual conference held in the Netherlands April 16. The day-long event will be hosted at “Lunteren in the national park ‘de Hoge Veluwe.’ ” The guest speaker is Julian Vayne who will offer talks on both ‘Chaos Magic and Witchcraft’ and ‘The Medicine Path – psychedelics and spirituality.’ And, in the evening, the Irish & American folk band Tobermore will perform. Registration and tickets are available through the PFI-Netherlands website.
  • Members of Hearthstone Grove, ADF have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help purchase land for future use as a “shared meeting, camping, and ritual space.” The campaign reads, “Our vision is for our grove to own and steward a public space specifically for Austin paganism to be practiced and for groups to host their Things.” Organizers have already chosen a 10-acre, fully-wooded property that will reportedly meet all organizational needs. Their future plans are fully explained on the campaign site. Hearthstone Grove, ADF is an Austin-based congregation “devoted to practicing the religion of our Celtic Ancestors.”
  • Published today, the Temple of Witchcraft’s podcast, Voices of the Temple, featured an interview with Tim Titus. In this episode, host Adam Sartwell speaks with Titus about “his work with Virgo ministry’s healing case study group and beginning to teach for the Mystery School in California.” The podcast lasts for 20 minutes and can be downloaded or streamed directly from the Temple’s website.
  • The second issue of A Beautiful Resistance will be available May 1. It has been “edited by Lancashire poet and awenydd Lorna Smithers” with a foreword by “UK animist, mystic, and anarchist Emma Restall Orr.” Editors have posted information about pre-sales, and the full list of contributors will be shared Apr. 1.
  • As a reminder, for those attending Paganicon, please join The Wild Hunt writers and editors for an evening social on Friday, March 18 at 9 p.m. in Suite 217. Paganicon is an annual conference held at the Doubletree Park Place in Minneapolis Minnesota. It runs from Mar. 18-20.

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note, a series more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

Patrick McCollum’s Visit to Thailand: As I mentioned back in January, Pagan chaplain and activist Patrick McCollum will be traveling to Thailand in February at the invitation of Dhammakaya temple in the Pathumtani Province, where he will be honored as a World Inner Peace Ambassador, and share Pagan rituals and practices with Buddhist Lamas. McCollum will then travel to the renowned temple at Borobudur on the Island of Java with Lama Gangchen Rinpoche, of the World Peace Foundation. At the Patrick McCollum Foundation web site, Patrick shares his thoughts as he embarks on this historic journey.

“My journey continues to get increasingly more interesting as more and more opportunities present themselves, and I feel much like I am in an adventure story just waiting to find out what will happen next.  On this trip to Thailand, I will not only be meeting with venerable Buddhist lamas and monks, I will now also be meeting with several distinguished spiritual leaders from other traditions to forge sacred bonds and find common ground.  So far, I will be meeting with Cheif Kapiteotak Dominique Rankin, also known as T8aminik in the Algonquin language, former Grand Chief of the Algonquin nation and Elder in the Circle Of Medicine Men of the Canadian tribes. I will also be meeting with Master Li Hechun, Master of the Longmen (Dragon Gate) branch of the Ch’uan-chen (Complete Perfection) School of Taoism in China and with Guru Chintamani  Yogi of the Hindu VidyaPeethmovement from Nepal, founder of the Shanti Sewa Ashram and Peace Service Center. I will also have the honor to spend part of my journey with Patrick Kuaimoku, Kahuna Lokahi from Hawaii, Keeper of the Ancient Hawaiian wisdom tradition.   In such company, it is hard to imagine any part of my journey being anything less than extraordinary.”

Patrick will be sharing more information and insights about his trip with us when he returns. This is a major interfaith event for modern Pagan faiths, one that could have far-reaching effects on Buddhist-Pagan relations for years to come. Congratulations to Patrick on this great honor. To keep track of Patrick’s journey be sure to follow the Patrick McCollum Foundation’s blog, and the Foundation’s Facebook page.

Sacred Spaces Series: Cara Schulz of PNC Minnesota has started a new video series (Part 1, Part 2) on the creation of modern Pagan sacred spaces, speaking with Priest Drew Jacob from Temple of the River.

Many Pagan groups share the dream of building some type of sacred space.  A temple, a community center, a permanent altar.  It remains a dream because they lack the information, skills, and experience to bring it into reality.  Yet other groups have accomplished what can seem, at times, impossible.  They have learned how to raise funds, deal with city inspectors, and overcome challenges that stymie most groups who attempt these ambitious projects.   In this series, PNC talks with groups who have successfully created their own Sacred Spaces.

You can see part one of this video series, here. Part three will most likely happen after this year’s PantheaCon, as Cara and several other PNC bureau members will be attending that event this weekend. This is an excellent video series, and shows the potential and scope of locally-focused Pagan news bureaus.

The Green Heart of England is Not For Sale: Controversy has raged recently in England over the proposed plans to conduct a massive sell-off of state-owned woodland. A move that sparked almost universal condemnation, and a rare public climb-down from the environment secretary. British Druid Philip Carr-Gomm, leader of The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, had this to say on the issue.

“David Bellamy articulated the feelings of most people when they first heard the news of the government’s proposed disposal of all of England’s public forest: “The green heart of England is not for sale.” It looks as if the message is getting through. Over half a million have signed the ‘Save Our Forests’ petition organised by grass-roots movement 38 degrees and today David Cameron signalled that the plan may be ditched […] The irony of a party with a tree as its logo behaving in this way has occurred to many. Our Druid group has been working with the idea since it began. Melanie Philips, of the Daily Mail telepathically picked up our thoughts (ha!) and voiced them on TV on the BBC’s Question Time, suggesting a felled oak and a dead stag as the Conservative logo…”

Carr-Gomm promises that efforts to “apply pressure and voice our concerns” will resume should the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government decide once more to sell off large swathes of its green heart, but for now, there is a celebratory mood of victory.

Pagan Newswire News: I’ve got some Pagan Newswire Collective-related announcements to make. First off, a warm welcome to the PNC’s newest bureau, PNC-Bay Area!

“Welcome to the Bay Area Bureau of the Pagan Newswire Collective. We are an all volunteer group (of currently 10 people), reporting on news and events of interest to the pagan communities here in the Bay Area of California. We have bios of our volunteers posted on its own page of the site here. If you would like to join our collective and write for us, email our Bureau Coordinator at bayarea (at) paganewswirecollective (dot) com.”

I am very excited to finally have coverage from the San Francisco Bay Area of California, long a hot-spot of modern Paganism, and look forward to their contributions! Several members of the new bureau will be at this year’s PantheaCon, and I’ve created a special page listing all official PNC-related events for those attending. You may also notice that we’ve quietly debuted the new site design, and you’ll hear more about that as things progress. I think 2011 will be a great year for the PNC, one that will greatly benefit all Pagan media outlets.

Cooking for a Pagan Seminary: In a quick final note, a number of Austin-based Pagan groups are organizing a cook-off and potluck benefit for Cherry Hill Seminary.

“One thing everyone in the Austin Pagan community shares is the love of a good potluck. Diverse organizations and individuals in the Austin area are coming together to co-sponsor a cook-off and silent auction to benefit Cherry Hill Seminary. Cherry Hill Seminary serves all our communities by providing quality higher education and practical training in Pagan Ministry. They offer several master’s degrees, certificate programs, and community education primarily available through distance learning. Many of us have received outstanding training in our chosen tradition, but there are some individuals who feel compelled to go above and beyond with their service to others. While many resources exist to train and assist students as they pursue their chosen Pagan tradition or path, there is an acute need for specific training in areas such as counseling, ethics, marriage and family issues, religion and the law, interfaith work, Pagan scholarship, media and public relations, ritual arts, leadership development, and nonprofit management.”

As a former CHS board member, and occasional teacher, I fully support the idea of communities rallying together to support this venture. One that will ultimately benefit all modern Pagans. Kudos to the Austin, Texas Pagans for putting this together!

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!