Archives For Cara Schulz

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

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

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Cara Schulz, during a day or door knocking

Cara Schulz door knocking [Courtesy Photo]

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

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

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

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

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

In other news

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


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

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BUTLER, Mo. —  The Sacred Well Congregation, an “independent, non-evangelical Wiccan Church,” announced Thursday that it has become an “Ecclesiastical Endorsing Organization for the Department of Veterans Affairs.” The announcement reads, “We will now be able to endorse qualified clergy from Wicca and Earth-Centered Spiritualities who wish to apply for chaplaincy positions with the VA.”

The Sacred Well Congregation needed to meet a number of very specific criteria to qualify for this designation. These requirements included things such as functioning exclusively as religious ministry, being a tax-exempt religious organization, and agreeing to abide by “all federal, VA, and VHA laws, regulations, policies, and issuances on the qualification and endorsement of persons for service as VA chaplains, federal employment, and veterans health care.”

The requirements also ask that the group “Acknowledge that acceptance of an ecclesiastical endorsement by VA does not imply any approval by VA of the theology or practices of a religious organization.” There are many different religions represented on the current VA list; however, none are Wiccan or Pagan. Sacred Well’s Board of Deacons wrote, “This is a tremendous breakthrough, and will enhance our standing with professional chaplains organizations such as COMISS and APC, as well as strengthen our position as we move forward in our endeavors to secure status as an EEO for military chaplains.”  We will have more on this story in the coming weeks. 

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Charlie MurphyLANGLEY, Wash. — It was announced this weekend that songwriter and musician Charlie Murphy (1943-2016) has died. In spring 2015, Charlie was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). At the time, a group of close friends called The Charlie & Eric Hope Well Team wrote, “[The diagnosis] was a heavy blow for him and his husband Eric. They are fortunate to have loving families and to live in a supportive community with people who are doing so much to help them cope with the reality of this disease.”

The team set up a YouCaring funding campaign to support Murphy’s husband with the mounting medical bills. Along with traditional medicine, Charlie was working with “doctors of traditional Chinese medicine using acupuncture, herbs and nutritional supplements.” The funding campaign has raised $109,400 USD since its creation.

Charlie is best known in the Pagan world for his song, ” The Burning Times,” that, as we reported last year, “weaves a captivating story of the end of matriarchal, earth-based religions in Europe.” That popular song was first recorded in 1981 on Charlie’s solo album Catch the Fire. BOver the following decades, it was rerecorded many times by Charlie and others.

Aside from his musical career, Charlie was also known for his work as co-founder for Partners for Youth Empowerment (PYE) an organization which trains people to empower children through art and the creative process. This group has set up a dedicated fund to assist his organization continue in its community service work.

Charlie died Aug. 6 at home with his loved ones present. His legacy will live on through his music, the PYE organization, and the many fond memories left with friends and family. A memorial celebration will be held September 1 at the Whidbey Institute on Whidbey Island. What is remembered, lives.

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12958923_1468587901.5275HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — The Grove of Nova Scotia Druids is looking to buy land for Pagan worship. Founded in 2002, the Grove is an ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship)-affiliated organization located in eastern Canada. Its website explains, “Our core beliefs are in honouring the Kindreds, serving the Family, Grove and Community, living a more naturally-balanced lifestyle, and above all that the Grove should be an extension of family.”

Since its founding, Grove members have been involved in an number of public works, including rituals, meet and greets, and interfaith efforts, as we reported in June. The group is now looking to purchase and maintain land specifically for the Pagan population in the province.

On the GoFundMe campaign site, the group explains, “The Grove of Nova Scotia Druids hopes in the long term to build and facilitate a place of worship for the maritime Pagan community. We wish this place of worship to be all inclusive to all peaceful paths in Nova Scotia and the Maritimes inclusive. From either an outdoor location or a sheltered location to even a permanent structure we hope to provide all pagans of all paths a open and welcoming space.” Their current goal is set at $50,000 CAD, and they are looking into multiple forms of fundraising to earn that figure.

In Other News

  • Tuesday is voting day, and our own TWH journalist Cara Schulz is running for a city council seat in Burnsville, Minnesota. Over the past few months, Schulz has been out in the community speaking with journalists and residents about her platform. If she wins Tuesday’s primary, she will move on to the general election. There are currently two open seats with no incumbents running. This is Cara’s second run for public office. TWH will report the results in coming week.
  • Covenant of the Goddess will begin their annual business meeting, Grand Council, and the corresponding conference, Merry Meet, on Thursday. The four-day event is held in a different location around the country each year. San Jose, California is the host city this year, with CoG’s Northern California Local Council sponsoring the event. Nonmembers are welcome to attend.
  • Another upcoming weekend event is Witches in the Woods held in Ben Lomond, California. The annual camping festival begins Friday and runs through Monday. It includes guest speakers, rituals, workshops and “witchery.” This year’s theme is “Engaging the Invisibles: Calling Forth the Helpful Spirits, Ancestors and Allies.” Registration closes on Tuesday.
  • Pagan Pride Day (PPD) season is upon us once again, and people around the world will be coming out to celebrate, educate and enjoy a community of like minds. It is impossible to acknowledge the many Pride events that occur throughout the season. These festive events, only some of which are connected to the sponsoring organization the Pagan Pride Project, begin in early August and run through November. Pagan Pride UK, one of the first such independently organized Pride days, kicked off its 2016 festival Sunday morning. Held in Nottingham, the well-attended festival was captured in the video embedded below. PPD events will continue to pop up around world on weekends throughout the late summer and early fall, with the majority scheduled around the equinox. These festivities attract a large diversity of Pagan, Heathen, and polytheist guests and vendors, as well as many other locals curious about the unique community, its culture and beliefs.

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SALEM, Mass. — Wiccan Priest and Salem resident Richard Watson was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail for the “possession of heroin with intent to distribute.” Watson was arrested Aug. 7, 2015, after a sting operation led police to his home where they found, reportedly, a total of 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of heroin and “indications that the drugs were being distributed, including packaging materials, cash and cell phones.” Watson cooperated with police, and eventually pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking.

When news of his arrest broke, Watson’s religious community was divided in its reactions. Some people offered support and other didn’t. Our Lord and Lady of the Trinacrian Rose Church, the Wiccan organization in which he was involved, immediately revoked his clergy credentials. High priestess Lori Bruno said, “I still hope that may be there is no truth in this, but as it stands right now, to protect our people, I have to remove him from clergy status. I hope that he is innocent of this, but should he not be, this revocation will stand.”

As noted by the Salem News, Watson’s attorney and prosecutor Christina Ronan reached a “plea agreement” which resulted in the lower charge of “possession with intent to distribute.” He then pleaded guilty to that charge and, on May 31, was sentenced to serve 2 1/2 years in jail; “two of which he must serve, with the balance suspended for three years, during which he will be on supervised probation.”

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13102776_1590795894545776_7938724097986206565_nBALTIMORE — In April, the birth of a new day-long convention was announced. The event, titled Dawtas of the Moon: Black Witch Convention will be hosted in Baltimore, Maryland in October 29, 2016. In a Facebook post, organizer Omitola Y. Ogunsina writes, “This will be a gathering of sisterhood, opportunities to expand knowledge through the many workshop and to enjoy the company of like minds and spirit.”

According to the Eventbrite page, this unique convention will tentatively run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET and host speakers, workshops, rituals and vendors. Ogunsina wrote, “We are calling all Shamans, Healers, Priestess, Witches, of color […] The time has come to make sure our voices are heard. The time has come to step out of the back room. The time has come for us to connect, grow, learn, heal, and share our knowledge and sisterhood energy. Sisters across the globe are reconnecting to nature and indigenous healing and are looking to reach out to other sisters of like minds and like energy.”

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20160602_120947_1464891060787DENVER — As we previously reported, Circle Sanctuary members Michelle Castle and Tiffany Andes have previously dedicated themselves and their careers to working with patients as hospital chaplains. When we spoke to them in April, both women were also finishing up their work toward a Masters of Divinity degree (MDiv) from the Iliff School of Theology. And, this past weekend, they graduated. We were able to reach them to ask how it all went.

Andes said, “There is a tremendous sense of completion you get from setting a goal and achieving it. When I started the MDiv program at Iliff four years ago I had so many reasons why it was important. Those reasons haven’t changed, but now I also realize how I have grown from the experience. In the academic study of theology, the Master of Divinity degree is the first professional degree of the pastoral profession in North America. It is important for me now to carry on the work of spiritual care, but also educating and being in dialogue with others about what Paganism means as a faith system and how we as Pagans integrate into the professional field.”

Castle said, “I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had over the last three years at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. I completed the Master of Divinity degree in a space that was welcoming and open to my path and challenged me to bring my most authentic self. I thank those individuals who have supported me on this journey and to
Circle Sanctuary for the continued support as I continue on my path as a hospital chaplain.”

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Cara Schulz, during a day or door knocking

Wild Hunt Journalist Cara Schulz has announced that she will be running for office again in Burnsville, Minnesota. In 2014, Schulz ran for city council and lost to the incumbent by a small margin. During the 2014 campaign, she did not hide that her religion is Hellenismos. In a follow-up opinion piece for The Wild Hunt, Schulz said that, even though she lost the election, “our religious community won in many ways.”  She went on to encourage other Pagans and Heathens to run for local political office.

Now, Schulz is taking her own advice and running again. On May 31, she announced that she would again be running for a position on Burnsville’s city council. In a Facebook post, she said, “Eight candidates are running for 2 open seats (no incumbent) which means there will be a primary on August 9th.” She is optimistic about her chances.

In Other News

  • Can’t find a copy of the new Witches Almanac Coloring book? Publisher and distributor Red Wheel/Weiser sold out of the book faster than expected. On May 29, it was announced that they were already in the second printing after three short months. The new book takes images from the popular and long-lived Witches Almanac and re-fashions them as coloring pages aimed at adults, who are enjoying this new popular and therapeutic hobby. In light of the book’s popularity, author Theitic asked fans to share “their favorite page to color.” He said that his vote was for the first woodcut because it “brings back memories of the old Almanac.”
  • In March 2017, the Pagan Educational Network, Inc. will present the Earth-Centered Clergy ConferenceDave Sassman writes, “Join us in strengthening your skills to minister to your communities.” The conference is focused on clergy training and related topics, but is open to anyone. As an example of the event’s mission, Sassman explained, “Part of the focus […] will be to teach those in the Pagan/Earth Based Faith Community who are ordained or on a path to ordination or are in the role of High Priest/ess, to serve their ageing community members at life’s transition and assisting those left behind.” The event is scheduled to be held at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Indianapolis, Indiana from March 9-12, 2017. Additional information can be found on its Facebook page
  • Another new event has just been announced. The first annual Mystic South conference is scheduled for July 2017 and will be held at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia in Atlanta, Georgia. Lead organizer Star Bustamonte explained, “Last spring, a few of us Southern Pagans were gathered at a local festival discussing the various conferences and festival goings-on. During that discussion, it became very clear that we all wished for a Southern-based conference. Since there is no such event to meet that need, we decided to create it.”  According to the site, the event will include rituals, music, workshops, lectures, vendors and will also host the Pagan and Polytheist Educational Research Symposium (PAPERS), an academic-focused lecture tract. More information will be available on the website as it is made public.
  • Rev. Elena Rose isn’t letting grass grow under her feet after graduating and being ordained. She is now preparing to hit the road this fall for the “Queer & Trans Artists of Color Launch Party & Tour.” She and Nia King are working on volume 2 of a book series that “documents and shares the important artistic and cultural work being done by living queer and trans artists of color.” They have opened a GoFundMe campaign to help sponsor the project and the book tour.
  • The opening of Pagan Spirit Gathering 2016 is drawing closer every day. Organizers have extended the registration deadline to June 10 for anyone who may have missed the opportunity to buy their passes.

Modern Paganism has matured to where we now have rituals and specialists to help us deal with many of life’s changes and challenges from a religious standpoint. The happy events were first. We have clergy ready to help us get married or handfasted; midwives to assist us in giving birth, and perform naming ceremonies for babies. We also have rituals and spiritual specialists for the tough times. There are ceremonies used for divorce; and we have specific funeral rites. We also have prison and military chaplains, and a growing number of death midwives to help ease us from this world to the next.

[Courtesy Photo]

[Courtesy Photo]

However, one area is still lacking. How do Pagans navigate through a life threatening or terminal illness? Where are the specialists to help with that? Where are the ceremonies? We do have rituals to send healing energy to a person in need, and those are always greatly appreciated. Just this week, The Wild Hunt featured an article about the emerging Pagan hospital chaplains. Their presence alone would certainly be a sincere comfort in many situations.

We are headed in the right direction. However, as a Pagan facing a life-threatening illness, I can personally tell you that. as a community, we’re not there yet. Let me first share my experience, and then I’ll contrast that with what happens with patients from mainstream religions.

On January 4 I woke up after a colonoscopy to a very somber-faced doctor. He said, “I don’t have good news for you. I have really bad news, in fact. I found a tumor and it was so large I couldn’t complete the procedure.”

I felt my husband take my hand. The surgeon paused and then went on: “We need to be aggressive about getting you to a surgeon. Immediately. I’m sending you out for some scans today.”

He said more, but I don’t remember what. I can only recall the look in my husband’s eyes as he heard the news with me. He was stricken, strong, determined, and trying to hide how frantic he felt.

I was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer, and that is when my whirlwind started: tests, blood draws, meetings with doctors and surgeons. It’s difficult to explain what that time is like unless you’ve experienced something similar. Time warps. A month seems like both a day and a year. Your decision making and ability to focus on anything for more than a few minutes is heavily impaired. Yet at the same time you find yourself lost in thought for hours.

You also have the stress of telling loved ones, and it hits harder each time you say the words, “I have cancer.”

When I told my parents, my mother was plainly in shock. My father couldn’t even look at me; he was so sad. I was ripping the hearts right out of their bodies. I was ripping my own heart out, too.

When this happens, you are vulnerable, and emotionally and spiritually weak. While your family will attempt to help, they are also going to be in shock. Everyone involved needs support. 

What happened to me next is very different for Pagans versus someone within a mainstream religion. In most mainstream religious communities, the moment word leaks out about the diagnosis a well oiled machine swings into action. A clergy person calls or visits to not only check on your spiritual well-being, but also on the family’s needs. The community Prayer Circle is alerted, and weekly prayers begin. Your name is brought before the congregation, where additional prayers are offered.


Colon charm used in offering. [Courtesy Photo]

If you are unable to attend your house of worship, the clergy person brings the service to you. A calendar is drawn up, and volunteers bring meals to your house; your lawn is mowed; your kids are shuttled to volleyball practice; your dishes and toilets are scrubbed. Everyone knows what to do, and they will do this for months without even being asked. The patient can focus on survival, and their family can focus on their loved one.

Now let me relate my experience.

On my the first visit with the surgeon, he asked me if I’d like to talk to a clergy person. I didn’t know what to say. I desperately wished that were possible. I also wished there was some place to pray and leave offerings. Where were the people flying into action? Where were the people leading a team to help me and my family through this ordeal?

I told a few close friends, of different faiths. I had Lutherans in Nebraska and Pagans across the U.S. praying for me. David Salisbury’s coven in Washington D.C. did some seriously magical shit to pull the cancer out of my body. Catholics lit candles and Methodists knit me a blanket. Atheists in Colorado and Arizona kept me in their thoughts. These are just a few examples, all of which touched me to my very soul.

Yet I realized that if I wanted the comfort of the rituals of my faith, Hellenic polytheism, I’d have to figure it out for myself at a time when I had the least capacity to do so. I needed to get a handle on what to do spiritually beyond the simple prayers and offerings at my home altar. When I could get out of bed, I strengthened my household boundaries, and I pulled from my memory what Hellenics did when they became seriously ill back in a time when our religion flourished.

I put out a call on Facebook to my co-religionists in Greece, asking if someone could please make an offering to a temple of Asklepios on my behalf. My plan was simple. I’d send them the offering and they would just need to leave it at the temple with a note that I’d send along. Gwendolyn Reece was able to connect me to a friend of hers, who was able to deliver my offering.

Then, I began preparing. Ancient Greeks would leave replicas of the body part that they needed healing as an offering at the temple. I found an Etsy artisan who made a small silver replica of the intestinal tract. Although it was meant to be hung on a necklace, I thought it perfect as an offering. I contacted the seller to make ensure that the charm could be sent to Greece in time. I included this note, “Asklepios, I have made many offerings to you in the past and will do so for years to come. I’m having surgery to remove the cancer and part of my colon and I ask you to guide the hands of my surgeon. Please accept this offering. Cara Schulz, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.”

The Etsy seller contacted me with the following note:


With that done, I began to take care of the pragmatic things, because making sure your household is in order is important to Hellenics. I updated my Medical Directive. I put people’s’ names on some of my belongings so they could have them if I died. I designated my son to handle my social media accounts. And I wrote my own obituary for The Wild Hunt because there was no way I wanted anyone to write that I lost my battle with cancer.  

At this point, My cat Willow, who had long been ill with lymphoma and FIV, took a turn for the worse. She had survived a year longer than expected under our meticulous care. One day, my husband noticed that she was looking sad and tired so we took her into the vet. The news stunned us. “It appears she has developed colon cancer,” said the vet.

I started laughing and crying at the same time. I couldn’t believe it. Colon cancer.

There’s a thought, in some hearth religions, that beloved pets and family members will draw in a disease to spare another member of the family. A kind of expiation. In the Christian sense, expiation means an atonement for wrong doing. But in Hellenism, it’s a way to get rid of miasma or the ill fortune brought on by a bad spirit.

Over the past few years, we had moved around a bit, never able to truly set up our household boundaries as we should have. Could a bad spirit have entered our home and allowed the cancer to grow in my body? Was Willow trying to make up for that by sacrificing herself so I would live? All I knew, at that moment, was that my soul simply couldn’t bear the weight it felt. I held Willow as we drove her home and whispered “I’m so sorry” into her fur.

It was not mid-January. I’d had two failed procedures that left me weaker than before. I was down below 100 pounds and in constant pain. For over a month, I had consumed only clear liquids, and the stress was causing me to lose all mental focus. I needed an operation to remove the tumor and a section of my colon. The surgeon didn’t want to perform the surgery because of my condition. However, if he didn’t, I wouldn’t survive.

[Courtesy photo]

[Courtesy photo]

As my surgery drew near, I prayed silently alone. I held tightly to the coin bearing the face of Asklepios sent by my friend Lamyka, a Hawaiian Pagan. My family was with me around the clock, and I needed them there. However, there was still a gulf because I could not have a comfortable discussion of faith.

One night a nurse came into my room to do her usual checks. She noticed that I was crying, that I was scared and in pain. I was tired of throwing up and weak from hunger. The nurse, like the doctor, asked me if I wanted to talk to clergy person. I explained that there was no clergy there for me. Then I explained a bit about my religion and, since she had some knowledge of the classics, she understood the importance of making offerings. She asked if I’d feel better if, when she got off duty, she took some of my flowers and put them on the statue of the Mayo brothers.

It was a perfect idea. The Mayo brothers founded the world famous Mayo clinic, where I was being treated. They are almost considered demi-gods in the medical profession. We may not have a temple to Asklepios here in the United States, but that statue of the Mayo brothers comes close. The nurse said that they often find flowers or notes on the statue, either asking for healing or giving thanks for a successful procedure.

[Courtesy Photo]

[Courtesy Photo]

During that time, I received an email that my offering in Greece had been made. Gwendolyn’s friend had left the package there, unopened, and said a prayer for me. I also received a note from Gwendolyn herself saying that she had libated a bottle of wine from Crete and had a candle going for me on her altar. Other friends, Pagan and Christian and Jewish and Atheist, were all praying for me or wishing me well.

On the day of surgery, I taped the coin of Asklepios to the underside of my arm, asking the surgical assistant that it not be removed. He didn’t want to do it. But I explained that it was a religious thing and that I knew that my surgery was very risky. So he added more tape and agreed to leave it there. I also wrote the surgeon a note across my chest that read: “Good luck, Doc.” A little levity can’t hurt, right?

The surgery was a success and, after a few days, I went home. I couldn’t make it down to the family altar in our basement so my husband, an Atheist, brought my incense burner up to the bedroom. He had even gone out to buy the best incense he could find to give thanks for my surgery. It was so touching that he understood the importance of giving thanks immediately when I got home. I didn’t even have to ask him. He was the one who lit the incense and said how happy he was to have me at home, safe. Willow didn’t like the hospital smell, but eventually curled up with me.

[Courtesy photo]

[Courtesy photo]

I had complications. I had ER visits. My husband struggled to meet all of his obligations – to work, to me, to our ailing cat Willow – and at the same time eat something other than fast food at odd hours.

I wound up with another 6 day hospital stay, and we just had to let the housekeeping go. But once I was back home, it was clear that I was on the mend from all the complications. Then Willow died. She held on just long enough to see me through. I have never felt so sad or so guilty in my entire life as when I held her little limp paw. Willow died so I could have the best chance at life. All I could do for her was to write an epitaph, a short poem for the dead popular in ancient Greece.

We are as sad at your passing,
Little Girl,
as we were happy to have you in our lives.

You had a kind heart.
Caring for us when we were sick
and comforting us when we cried,
wrapping your little white arms around our wrists.

Now our tears fall
and there is no comfort to be had.
No soft fur to stroke or gentle purr.
You’re simply gone though you fought to stay.

It’s not right that your reward
for sixteen years of love and devotion
is to be ashes in a vase.

After surgery comes healing. I am working to get to the exercise classes for chemo patients so Apollon can bless me with strength. I spend time in the sun for Helios to give me his energy. And I rest within the boundaries and protection of my home, struggling to wash the sheets, to have clean underwear, and to eat real food. Everything takes me 4 times longer than it once did. I often have to stop in the middle because moving can cause me to vomit.

Now, my husband is back working full time. It’s pretty rare for him to come home and have a real dinner. It’s rare that we even have the makings for a real dinner.

I am also enjoying the thrills of chemotherapy. Lots of chemo, with delightful side effects like nausea and painful blisters on my hands, feet, and in my mouth. This all means prayers and offerings to Hygia asking that she help the chemo clear out any leftover cancer cells before they attack my other organs and to please lessen the side effects.

Friends living near Hot Springs, South Dakota have placed offerings at the statue of Hygia there. Hot Springs was a place of recovery for Civil War veterans due to the healing waters that bubble up from its many springs. There is still a large VA medical center there, along with healing pools and springs from which you can drink. As soon as it is possible, I will plan my own trip to Hot Springs so I can make offerings in person and take in its waters.

[Courtesy Photo]

[Courtesy Photo]

I’m hoping the waters can offset a horrible omen. On my first day of chemo, I went to take my pills, and the very first one fell out of my hand and landed on the floor. I stood there staring at it. In my religion, food or other items that fall through the air and hit the floor have passed through the realm of the living and are now with Hekate in Hades. To ingest something that has fallen on the floor is to literally eat death. I threw that pill away and took the other three. But the feeling of dread hasn’t left me. Was that an omen that chemo won’t work and my cancer will come back? Is it already back? How am I to deal with this? What should I do? Who can I turn to with these questions?

In this entire process, which will continue for a long time, I’ve had to muddle through, dig, guess, and make do with all the spiritual aspects of navigating a serious illness. People of all faiths have to do this. But Pagans, in particular, are at a disadvantage. When we are at our weakest, and most vulnerable, we have be our own anthropologist, clergy, and spiritual advocate. We lack the mundane services that the more mainstream religions enjoy.

There aren’t, for the most part, Pagan clergy and congregations that step in to help during times of serious, chronic, or terminal illness. There wasn’t a Pagan Chaplain or clergy visiting me to hold my hand the night before surgery; to pray out loud with me; to visit me during the long hours when I was at home alone, recovering and just happy to be alive . There wasn’t someone there while I openly wept over the death of the future I once had.

We don’t have any established systems to make offerings at significant places, or to even know where those places would even be. There is no community of co-religionists, as there would be in a church, to bring my exhausted husband meals after driving the two hours back and forth to the hospital while still trying to work a full time job and care for our cat.

It’s not just clergy or concentrated numbers of local Pagans that we lack. It’s a lack of cohesion. Mainstream churches, mosques, and synagogues are a true local-based community with a high degree of cohesion. Even small congregations, with an active clergy person, are able to mobilize and support members in need within hours. In talking with other cancer patients, several said they had casseroles delivered to their door before family could arrive. One related how their church arranged for their children to stay overnight with friends before she and her husband were even done at the colonoscopy center, in order that the parents could have a night to pull themselves together. That church has less than 25 members.

Yet, as a community, we are getting there. I was able to find people to make offerings for me. When I asked, people immediately stepped up to help. I’m pretty sure on the day I had surgery, there were enough candles lit that you could have seen them from the International Space Station. Boxes of snacks and treats, cards, restaurant gift cards, books, things to help with nausea and talismans have poured into my mailbox. And, when I have asked the tough spiritual questions, my friends have answered. Most often the answer was, “I love you.”

So yes, we are getting there. But we’re not there yet.  

Opinion: Run, Pagan, Run

Cara Schulz —  December 31, 2014 — 5 Comments

Let me begin this column by saying I’m a loser. I lost the seat I was running for in the 2014 election. When all the votes were counted, I came up short. However, when I look back at my campaign and all that has happened since, our religious community won in many ways. You see, I didn’t lose because I’m Pagan, even though I was subjected to a smear campaign based on religion. I lost for very normal, boring reasons and that, in itself, is a victory we can celebrate. I’d like to challenge our religious community to do better, if you feel called to do so. To run and to win.

Cara Schulz, during a day or door knocking

Cara Schulz, during a day or door knocking

If you want to serve your gods, your local community, and protect our religious rights, run for local level political office. Yes, it’s daunting, expensive and time consuming. Running for office will exhaust you in body, mind, and spirit. It will take time away from your family, and you’ll miss out on fun social events. And yes, your opponents will use your religion against you and it will be brutal. Fair or unfair, people will judge every Pagan in the world by what they see you do and what they hear you say.

After going through all of that, if you’re running against an incumbent you’ll have about a 10% chance of winning. If this is your first time running for office, even if there isn’t an incumbent to run against, you have a less than a 25% chance of winning.

Run anyway.

Consider running for a school board seat or a city council position or some other similar office. Local politics affect your daily life far more than anything that happens in Washington D.C., and it’s where you can have the greatest impact in your community.

Think about all the stories of religious discrimination toward Pagans we’ve heard over the past few years and consider where that discrimination was taking place. In 2014, we saw a school board favoring Christian prayers to open meetings and refusing to allow a Pagan to give the invocation. City officials in Bebee, Arkansas tried to run a Pagan family and business out of town.  The town of Catskills, NY forced the Maetreum of Cybele into a lengthy court battle costing tens of thousands of dollars because local officials didn’t see the Maetreum as a “real” religious house.

Those are just a few cases where local politicians used their power and authority to discriminate against Pagans. How much more effective could you be sitting on one of those school boards or city councils, rather than being the person asking those in power to stop infringing on your rights? Being the person in power, rather than the supplicant?

The other benefit to running is in changing peoples’ perceptions on Pagans and Paganism. As more people come to know Pagans, or work with Pagans, or see them doing things such as run for office, the less they will be influenced by sensationalist or mocking narratives. The more of us who are “out” and achieve positions of respect and authority, the safer it is for all of us.

The amazing recent victories for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals have only come after decades of “coming out” because they understood that putting a human face on their communities was the only way forward. Likewise, modern Pagans, whatever their faith or practice, need to engage in the work of putting a human face on our religious movement. Thanks to some brave pioneers and visionaries we’ve already come a long way, but the next steps come only when it becomes apparent that we truly are everywhere, that we are indeed your brother, sister, parent, child, co-worker, partner, or friend. – Jason Pitzl-Waters

Should you run for office?

To judge if running for office is something you should consider, let me relate my experience running for a council seat for Burnsville, Minnesota as a very out of the closet Pagan. It goes without saying that you need to be very public in your religious affiliation. Even if you use a craft name or a pseudonym, if you aren’t already fully out, someone will out you. This happened to candidate Alice Richmond when she was outted on a live radio interview in 2009.

First, I did my research. Burnsville is a large city, the 9th largest city in Minnesota. There were two seats available and both incumbents were running for reelection. The city charter is set up so that all candidates run, and the top two vote getters win the seats. I looked at how much money each candidate spent on previous elections. I also looked at how many persons are in my area and how many of them are voters. This is important for calculating man hours needed to knock on each door. I calculated how many volunteers I would need and how many hours I needed from each volunteer. That’s the normal stuff every candidate does.

I finished my last few days of the campaign, door knocking with a stress fracture in one of my feet

I finished my last few days of the campaign, door knocking with a stress fracture in one of my feet

But remember, you will not be a normal candidate, and you will need to make preparations other candidates don’t have to devote time and resources toward. You will need to make a plan for what happens when, not if, your opponent uses your religion against you. This plan goes into effect on day one of your campaign.

I had a short discussion with each one of my volunteers, supporters, and donors about my religion, if they didn’t already know. It went something like, “I just want to let you know that I’m part of a minority religion and sooner or later my opponents will attempt to use it to smear me. My religion is Hellenismos, and it’s a modern version of what ancient Greeks such as Socrates practiced. It’s very family focused and encourages civic duty. If you have any questions feel free to ask me at any time. If you feel this is cause to withdraw your support, just say so and it will remain between you and me.”

I kept it simple and used cultural concepts most anyone could immediately understand. Although I had people ask me a few questions, I didn’t have a single person or organization withdraw support. As I was calm and treated it casually, the people that I talked to treated it the same way. Months later, when the expected #politricks hit, these were some of my strongest supporters.

I googled myself and viewed all the photos I could find of myself on the internet. I looked at each one with fresh eyes. If a section of this blog post was quoted in the paper or this photo was put on a flyer, how would I react? How do I put it into context for people entirely unfamiliar with Paganism, using only one sentence?

I spoke with trusted non-Pagans for quick, professional, and reasoned thinking, and asked them if they’d be willing to help me when my religion would be brought into the campaign. They would be prepared to comment on articles and social media, write Letters to the Editor, and call in to radio shows. Since I did this early in the campaign, these non-Pagan supporters were mentally prepared and were able to respond quickly when the situation arose months later.

I was also fortunate that other friends, whom I hadn’t approached, assisted me. I can’t stress how important it is to have diverse, non-Pagan support ready to respond to social and traditional media. A persuasive comment early on can change the entire direction of the conversation. Otherwise, the snowball of mockery and scaremongering starts rolling downhill and there’s no way of stopping it.

I spent some time, not as much as I should have, developing a working relationship with local media. If they’ve worked with you in the past and found you to be a reliable and sane person, they are less likely to run an article on you that is lurid or sensational. They may still write an article about your religion, but you have a better shot at it being fair and well researched if they know you as a person. During the campaign, I know of at least one reporter who passed on running an expose-style article about my religion before the election.

10881275_10203513092727745_761208615_nIt seemed a bit superficial, but I made sure that I looked like a city council member every time I left my house. While you want to stay true to who you are, this is not the time to play “Freak the Mundanes.” The entire campaign is a job interview and every person who you come into contact with is your potential boss. If you have a piece of religious jewelry, wear it with pride, but make sure your shoes are polished.

I wanted people to know that I am professional, approachable, and open to diverse points of views. I made sure my appearance and body language matched that message. While my religion is important to me, I had no intention of pushing it on others, so my appearance reflected that point as well.

Last of all, I wrote down several contingency plans. If X happens, I will do A, B, C, and D. If Y happens, I will do E, F, G, and H. By writing every portion of them down, I was able to act quickly, rather than being frozen.

I realized it’s a legitimate question for people or media to ask how my religious views would affect the way I perform in office. Or to ask me what my ethics are and how my religion shaped them. In my case, I could answer that my religion helped invent Western democracy and concepts like a jury trial. My ethics can be found in the 10 Precepts of Solon, examples of which are: Don’t associate with people who do bad things and When asked for advice, don’t say what’s most pleasing, but what’s most helpful. These are questions I was asked by people, and because I was able to answer them in a simple and direct way, people came away reassured that we had common ground. Because we do.

Despite all my preparations, when it finally happened, I was deeply hurt. I was surprised at how hurt and upset I was. It was three weeks before the election, and I knew this was the prime time for a hit piece. There had been behind the scenes whispers about my religion for a few weeks, but nothing I could openly address. The key to a successful hit piece is to the hit the other person and not leave them time to hit you back. You want a knock out punch, or at the very least, you want to create a situation that eats up all their time. Ideally, you have a supporter deliver the knockout punch so you can keep your hands clean.

In my case, a Letter to the Editor titled Intriguing information about Cara Schulz appeared in the local paper by an area resident. It was carefully crafted to not make any outright statements ridiculing me or my religion, but spent a great deal of time othering me and then noting that people should vote for “…Bill Coughlin and Dan Kealey, who are not pagans, but longtime Burnsville residents who understand all the responsibilities and duties as members of the City Council.”

The letter also inferred that I had been trying to hide my religion, which the writer had only discovered through research. This suggested that I could not be trusted, as opposed to my opponents, who were trustworthy, qualified and not Pagans. Vote for them, don’t vote for the Pagan.

While neither of my opponents submitted the letter to the paper, one of them did use it in their campaign. I discovered this when one of his supporters forwarded a campaign email to me saying he could no longer, in good conscientious, support someone who would stoop to that level.

Screen cap of the forwarded email

Screen cap of the forwarded email

I put one of my plan’s into action, with a few modifications. First, I issued an official statement asking my opponents and the newspaper to denounce the religious bigotry exemplified in the letter. I kept it polite, but firm, and appealed to peoples’ better natures. My supporters commented on the letter on the newspaper’s website and on social media. They, too, kept things positive.


The groups and organizations who supported me, publicly restated their support for me and for religious freedom. They clearly denounced the letter as an appeal to fear and bigotry. I was interviewed by the main newspaper for the Twin Cities. I also went on a political talk radio program during a prime morning slot and had supporters ready to call in.

Part 1 of radio interview
Part 2 of radio interview

For months, I had prepared myself for this situation. When it happened, It went off smoothly and allowed me devote my time to speaking with voters rather than spinning my wheels in shock, pain, and confusion. But the real heroes of this tale are the voters.

I received countless emails and messages of support from local residents. They wanted me to know that religious bigotry was unacceptable. I was sent photos of people throwing away my opponent’s yard signs, saying they would no longer vote for him since bigotry was part of his campaign message. I was called by local clergy, letting me know they didn’t support the perspective outlined in the letter.

At the end of the day you have to trust your fellow residents. Trust them to be decent people. If you can’t do that, you have no business running for local office because you are not looking to be a servant to your community, you are looking to rule it from a position of ethical superiority. Aside from practical matters, this is the real deal breaker. Can you place your trust in your fellow residents?

I didn’t win my election. But I did everything I could to win, including knowing I had about a 5% chance of winning. I was running against two entrenched incumbents who were working together; who split costs and volunteers. They fundraised together and even dropped each other’s lit. (lit dropping is when they drive around and stick flyers in your mailbox) I can say, however, that I made them work for that reelection and I almost pulled off a win.

Yet I certainly didn’t lose.

From a selfish perspective I made many new and lasting friends – good, caring people who care passionately about their communities. I also have laid a solid foundation for the next time I run for city council. There’s a reason so few rookies win elections. You are building everything from scratch and making costly mistakes in time and resources. The second time you run, your starting point is much further ahead. Plus, you can save money by reusing your yard signs.

Tyra, a Burnsville high school student, on the campaign trail.

Tyra, a Burnsville high school student, on the campaign trail.

From a much less selfish perspective, my time campaigning helped change peoples’ perspectives about Paganism. I had people tell me they originally thought Pagans were teen girls who were going through a phase, but now they think of Pagans as just like anyone else.

Many of them saw me in the candidate forum. They may have met me at the community parade, or when I knocked on their door. It’s so much harder to negatively stereotype a group after you have had positive interactions with a member of that group. I have supporters from all different age groups, religious backgrounds, socio-economic levels, and political parties.

What gives me the most satisfaction is that I’ve had six Pagans from across the country contact me and tell me that they followed my campaign with interest and were considering running for office. They were hesitant, wondering if it was possible for a Pagan candidate to survive the campaign and to actually win. After following my process and seeing what happened, they are going ahead with their campaigns for the 2015 and 2016 election cycle. They now believe it is possible for Pagan candidates to be elected to political office. I’ve been working with them on how to prepare their campaign and to be ready for the inevitable #politricks.

If you’re interested in taking the plunge, contact me. No matter your political beliefs, I’ll help you create your contingency plans so you’re ready when someone tries to make your religion the focus of your campaign.

With planning and good fortune, you can win, too.

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. Our hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started! 


We’ll start off Pagan Community Notes with a big thank you to all those people and organizations who supported our 2014 Fall Fund Drive. You helped us meet and exceed our goal, and for that we are very grateful. Over the next month, we will be contacting those people who requested perks. Columnist Eric Scott is already hard at work on those Panda drawings.  Again thank you from all of us at The Wild Hunt.  Now on to the news….

*  *  *

margot-adlerOn Oct 31, Margot Adler’s closet friends and family gathered in a private memorial service to honor her life. The event was held at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in New York City. Andras Corban-Arthen was in attendance and has posted several photos on his public Facebook page. In her will, Margot had requested that EarthSpirit’s ritual singing group, Mother Tongue, perform at her service. Corban-Arthen said, “We were all very glad and honored to perform a few pieces in her memory.”

Starhawk has published the words she wrote for the memorial service on her blog. She ended the piece saying, “As [Margot] takes her place among the Mighty Dead of the Craft, she becomes even more fully what she has always been: an ally, a friend, a wise guide, a challenger and a refuge.”

On Oct 30, Rev. Selena Fox, another longtime friend of Margot’s, announced that Circle Sanctuary was “dedicating a memorial stone for Margot and placing it at [it’s] green cemetery, Circle Cemetery, a place that Margot visited and loved.” The stone includes the words, “Drawing Down the Moon, Inspiring Pagan Voice.”

*   *   *

time-logo-ogOn Oct 28, TIme Magazine online published an article entitled, “Why Witches on TV Spell Trouble in Real Life.”  The article has generated a storm of controversy that has led to a petition on and numerous other mainstream articles outlining Pagan response. Blogger Jason Mankey wrote, “I don’t think Ms. Latson’s article was intentionally insulting. She was simply trying to rationalize the explosion of Witch-themed shows on cable television. Fair enough, that’s the kind of article we all expect this time of year, but her execution was exceedingly poor.” We will be following up on this story later in the week.

*   *   *

Cara Schulz

Tomorrow is election day in the U.S. As we have already reported, Wild Hunt staff writer Cara Schulz is running for Burnsville City Council. In recent weeks, she ran into some conflict over her religion. Although Schulz hasn’t hidden her beliefs, a local resident only recently discovered that she was Pagan, and sent a concerned letter to the editor. After it was published, Schulz responded by saying “The letter wasn’t explicitly degrading towards Pagan religions, but it’s clear the motive was to induce fear and sensationalism about my religious beliefs and encourage people to vote for my opponents specifically because they aren’t Pagans.” She called the situation laughable, adding, “Religion is irrelevant to a person’s fitness for public office and is private.” Schulz has called on her opponents to denounce the letter’s intent. However, that has yet to happen.

In Other News:

  • The organizers of Paganicon have announced that Lupa will be the 2015 Guest of Honor. They wrote, “We at Twin Cities Pagan Pride are extremely excited and honored to have Lupa join us.” They added that she’s a “perfect fit” to help explore the conference’s theme: Primal Mysteries. Paganicon 2015 will be held March 13-15 at the Double Tree in Saint Louis Park.
  • As announced by the Polytheist Leadership Conference, the New York Regional Diviners Conference is coming up this month.  As written on the site, “For one day in November, diviners from a plethora of traditions will gather in Fishkill, NY to discuss their art, network, exchange knowledge, and learn new techniques.” The conference is held on Nov 29 at the Quality Inn in Fishkill.
  • Treadwell’s Bookshop owner and Wild Hunt UK Columnist Christina Oakley Harrington was interviewed for a short film called “Witches and Wicked Bodies: A ZCZ Films Halloween Special.” The 9 minute film focuses on the British Museum‘s current exhibition of “Witches and Wicked Bodies.” Toward the end of the program, the host visits Treadwell’s and talks to Christina about modern day Witchcraft and Pagan practice.
  • Cherry Hill Seminary announced the start of a new class called, “Indigenous Traditions of the Sacred.” The class is being taught by Leta Houle, who “is Plains Cree from the Sturgeon Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan.” The program’s goal is to introduce students to the “meaning of what is sacred to Indigenous peoples, including the issue of cultural appropriation.”
  • This October the Northern Illinois University Pagan Alliance decided to try something entirely new. They ran a Pagan Spirit Week from Oct 27-31. President Sara Barlow explains that the purpose was “to raise awareness of and celebrate the presence of Pagan students at Northern Illinois University. We invited others on campus to learn more about aspects of our culture through activities such as meditation, anti-stress charms, divination, runic magic, and our open Samhain ritual.”  Barlow said the response was excellent and that they even picked up a few new members. Now the group hopes to make Spirit Week a yearly tradition.

That is all for now.  Have a great day.

As some Pagans attempt to revive ancient or indigenous religions they often rely on the work of historians, primary texts and archaeologists. For this reason, when something new pops up that challenges long held academic ideas on cultural or religious practice, we pay attention. Here are some of the new(er) finds making waves in archaeological circles.

Economic analysis proves another theory of Delphi’s power:

The Oracle of Delphi was located between the powerful Greek city-states of Athens, Corinth, Sparta, and Thebes and was extremely influential starting in the 8th century BCE. Once a month petitioners would gather at the site to ask the Oracle of Apollon, called the Pythia, questions about what they should do in any given situation. The answers were thought to come directly from Apollon to the Pythia but were often riddles that the petitioner must puzzle out for himself. The rich and powerful were no exception and they often gathered in advance and mingled and traded information.

Aegeus receiving the oracle of Delphi painted on a kylix,  440 BCE. [Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin]

Aegeus receiving the oracle of Delphi painted on a kylix, 440 BCE. [Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin]

Prof. Colleen Haight, an associate professor of economics at San Jose State University, uses economic analysis as an analytic lens to help explain what she calls “seemingly irrational behavior such as relying upon the supernatural judgment of an oracle to make life-and-death decisions.”

The economic theory of how religion affects cultures have largely been split between monopolistic state religions and laissez faire religious competition. Religious monoplies mean that the secular ruler is also in control of the relious institutions. This allows them greater control over their population, but can breed distrust in the legiticmacy of both the religion and ruler. Laissez faire religious competition is a benefit to religious groups, which are often numerous in an area, but doesn’t grant any more power to secular rulers.

Prof. Haight posits a third theory that fits Delphi – the neutral nexus.

In this situation, secular leaders maintain control over their own cults within their own territory, but also rely upon an outside, third-party source of religious legitimation for their rule. This is the role that the Oracle of Delphi played. With several ancient Greek city-states essentially locked in a balance of power, the city of Delphi could assert its neutrality amidst the larger political players of the region (i.e, Sparta, Athens, Corinth, and Thebes). More importantly, the rulers of each of these city-states could use the Delphic Oracle as a source of information regarding future military campaigns or other major decisions.  It was in the interest of each of secular rulers both to provide the oracle with valid information and to rely upon its pronouncements as valid. In many ways, this helped to mitigate conflict between the different regional powers. It was only when one ruler (Philip II of Macedon) was able to consolidate territorial power over the bulk of ancient Greece that the Delphic Oracle lost its neutrality and, hence, its authoritative power.

You can listen to the podcast interview with Prof. Haight here.

Tomb of Alexander the Great’s mother found?

Greece is abuzz on the discovery of a tomb of a royal queen that dates back to the period immediately following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE. The tomb, located beneath the great mound at Amphipolis in Macedonia, is considered such a significant find it was unveiled in August, during a visit by Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras. Greek Reporter writer Andrew Chugg believe the tomb is that of Alexander’s mother, Olympias.

This tomb, if it is that of Olympias, would be of particular interest to those Pagans who worship Alexander as a deified Hero. In mythos, Olympias was impregnated by Zeus’ thunderbolt and Alexander was the result of that union. Olympias helped Alexander to become King after her husband, Philip II of Macedon, was assassinated. Alexander went on to become on of the greatest military generals of all time, building one of the largest empires of the ancient world through conquest. It stretched from Greece, into Egypt, and into present-day Pakistan. When he died at age 30, his empire was divided up between his generals. After a brief revolt by his mother and his wife, Roxane, against the general who took control of Macedonia, both women were put to death along with Alexander’s son, Alexander IV.

The tomb is thought to be Olympias because of the size, the decorations that closely resemble the tombs of Alexander’s father and his son, the unusual presence of sphinxes, and its location.

Painted decoration in the tomb at Amphipolis (left) and the tomb of Alexander IV (right) - [Greek Reporter]

Painted decoration in the tomb at Amphipolis (left) and the tomb of Alexander IV (right) – [Greek Reporter]

On this evidence I consider Olympias to be the leading contender at the time of writing (6/9/2014) for the occupant of the magnificent tomb at Amphipolis currently being excavated with Roxane also a strong possibility. It should be recalled that the tomb mound has a diameter of 155m, larger even than the Great Tumulus at Aegae and posing the question of whom the Macedonians would conceivably have spent this much money and effort upon commemorating, Olympias is by far the most convincing answer at present. Although it is true that the ancient accounts say that she was unpopular at the time of her death, it is nevertheless clear that she was only really unpopular with Cassander’s faction, whereas Cassander himself was sufficiently worried about her popularity as to arrange her immediate death in order to prevent her addressing the Macedonian Assembly (Diodorus 19.51). Furthermore, her army under Aristonous stayed loyal to her cause long after she herself had surrendered. Ultimately, her cause was seen at the time as identical with the cause of Alexander himself, so it was in a sense Alexander whom they honoured by building his mother a spectacular tomb.

You can read more about the tomb here.

With Viking burials, a sword does not a man make:

A new study of Viking burial remains in England is challenging the previously widely held theory that Viking women stayed home. It’s also firming up a changing view of Vikings from violent thieves to marriage-minded colonists.

The Vikings invaded England in waves starting around 900 AD and founded a medieval kingdom called theDanelaw. Originally, archaeologists thought the Viking settlers consisted almost exclusively of men because of written Christian accounts and because most of the Vikings buried in England from that time were buried with swords and knives.

A new study of 14 Viking burials published in the Early Medieval Europe Journal by Shane McLeod of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Western Australia puts those assumptions in doubt.

10th century Viking grave in England. [British Department of Culture, Media and Sport.]

10th century Viking grave in England. [British Department of Culture, Media and Sport.]

McLeod reports that 6 of the 14 bodies are women, seven were men, and one was indeterminable. This was determined by examining isotopes found in their bones and looking at the osteological signs of which gender they belonged to, rather than assuming that burial with a sword or knife denoted a male.

For example, at one mass burial, three swords were found and yet all three bodies whose sex could be determined were female. This new study suggests that women made up roughly ½ to 1/3 of Viking settlers in England.

A nice look at the new evidence and what it means for the idea of Viking female warriors can be found in a comment on an article here.

Solomon’s mines worked by Magicians, not slaves:

In another theory that turns out to not be true, the Edomite’s who worked King Solomon’s copper mines in Timna were highly paid “quazi-magicians,” not slaves. Of course, they may not have been working for Solomon, either, but Egypt. Or themselves.

Archaeologists originally thought the workers were slaves because of the harsh desert conditions, how uncomfortable it would be to work the hot furnaces, and a massive stone wall that was thought to prevent escape. The Timna valley is located in present day Southern Israel.

Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef and Dr. Lidar Sapir-Hen, of TAU’s Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures, say the workers were highly skilled, and highly pampered, artisans. They analyzed the remnants of food from 3,000 years ago, which were perfectly preserved by the arid conditions of the site. The workers who manned the highly sophisticated kilns were fed imported and expensive meats, fruits, and grains. The wall, once thought to keep slaves in, is now thought to be a protective barrier to keep workers safe. They also claim the advanced skills needed to work copper would place these artisans in a social class similar to that of “quasi-magicians” because the complex process, in which 30-40 different variables were managed by the smelter, would seem like magic to ordinary persons of that time. The mines themselves, however, may have used slaves or criminals for labor.

[Wikipedia Commons]

The Timna Valley mines are located in the southern edge of the Kingdom of Edom [Wikipedia Commons]

The kingdom of Edom was located in the Southern Levant south of Judea on the shores of the Dead Sea. Its people were Semetic and followed a Canaanite religion, although not much is known about their specific practices. Canaanite religions were typically polytheistic, with a strong focus on ancestral household deities. According to Jewish tradition, the Edomites were conquered by Israel in the late 11th century BCE, although archaeologists argue that the scale of 10th century BCE mining on Edom lands and signs of sporadic wars with neighbors over many centuries, are evidence of a strong and independent Edomite kingdom well into the 4th century BCE.

Stonehenge has a sibling (and then some):

Archaeologists, using ground-penetrating radar, magnetometry and other techniques, have found 50 massive stones buried just 2 miles away from Stonehenge. The sibling henge, along with 17 other Neolitihic and Bronze age religious monuments, were found during a four year investigation into Stonehenge’s sacred landscape. The finds indicate the monuments formed a processional walkway to the main sacred site and formed a cohesive religious complex.


[Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project]

The sibling henge, dubbed Superhenge, helped form a c-shaped enclosure and it faced the river Avon. Later it was fully enclosed to make a circle.

The monument was later converted from a c-shaped to a roughly circular enclosure, now known as Durrington Walls – Britain’s largest pre-historic henge, roughly 12 times the size of Stonehenge itself. As a religious complex, it would almost certainly have had a deeply spiritual and ritual connection with the river. But precisely why is a complete mystery, although it is possible that that particular stretch of water was regarded as a deity.

The sibling henge stones are roughly 10 ft long and 5 feet wide and are laying down horizontally, although they could have originally stood vertically in the ground. It’s estimated they were placed on site around 2500BC.

“This radically changes our view of Stonehenge,” said Vince Gaffney, head of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project at Birmingham University. “In the past we had this idea that Stonehenge was standing in splendid isolation, but it wasn’t … it’s absolutely huge.”

You can see images and links to more information of the new discoveries at the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project.

A two-part special BBC Two documentary (Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath), being shown tonight and next Thursday, is set to reveal the details of many of the investigation’s new discoveries.

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing 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 let’s get started!

Cara Schulz

Cara Schulz

Earlier this month I gave an overview of Cara Schulz’s candidacy for a city council seat in Burnsville, Minnesota. Schulz, a Hellenic Polytheist and staff writer for this publication, has long been active in politics. As a candidate for this non-partisan seat she has endorsed a “Socially Accepting and Fiscally Responsible” platform, and it looks like enough voters in Burnsville liked what they saw. Quote from her Facebook campaign page: “THANK YOU to everyone who volunteered, told their friends about me, and are heading to the polls today to vote. If you think people are selfish, not involved, or lazy … run for office – you will be disabused of those erroneous notions. I’ve been offered help before I could even ask and volunteers helped an insane number of hours. I’ve made some great friends and learned from kind mentors. I’ve met some incredible people from all over Burnsville. […] The final tally is in! Thank you to everyone who volunteered, sent me messages cheering me on, told others about me, and took the time to vote in the primary.” Schulz will now advance to the general election in November, where the top-two vote getters will fill the two vacant seats on the city council. Our congratulations go out to Cara! 

10557341_10203741099061740_6626525900185221594_nAuthor and Dianic Witchcraft Elder Zsuzsanna Budapest sent out a press release last week announcing that she had bestowed a blessing on Claudiney Prieto, part of Brazil’s Nemorensis Dianic Tradition, for his work on behalf of the goddess Isis. Quote: “I was greatly impressed by Claudiney Prieto in Brazil, who has successfully nurtured an Isis revival. I have blessed him to be a Priest of Isis, which he already is. I saw what he has done and I think he serves the Goddess with his personal leadership. Everybody loves the man. He is dynamite in circle. Such a man with ten years of experience richly deserves the blessing. Both sexes are part of the rituals and sacred plays and always have been. This fits us well. I connect with this because I am also a play write. The original Isis plays have all been translated. It will be great fun creating a religious experience within the medium of theater for this community.” Budapest went on to clearly state that this blessing was not a shift in her beliefs concerning gender and her tradition’s Dianic rituals. Quote: “Although there was some initial confusion about the blessing, it was clarified that he was awarded by her as an honoring of his work with the Goddess […]  Budapest honored Prieto and bound him as a priest to the Goddess within the constructs of Prieto’s own Nemorensis Dianic Tradition and not her own Dianic Tradition, which is women-born only.” The stated “confusion” and subsequent clarification is most likely related to the fact that Budapest’s form of Dianic Witchcraft is open to cisgender women only, and this blessing could have been interpreted as a move away from that ethos. Such a shift would have been dramatic news indeed, as Budapest has received criticism from within the Pagan community in the recent past for holding “genetic women only” rituals that exclude not just men, but also transgender women, at Pagan events that are open to the public.

green-faiths-3atransThe Covenant of the Goddess (COG), one of the largest Wiccan and Witchcraft-focused organizations in the United States, is holding their annual business meeting, the Grand Council, this week in Atlanta, Georgia. Grand Council, which is held in conjunction with an open-to-the-public event called Merry Meet, is where the sprawling consensus-based organization elects its board and decides on policy. I’ve personally held forth on why I think COG could have a vital role in Wicca and religious Witchcraft’s future, and The Wild Hunt has covered these meetings for the past three years. This year, Merry Meet will feature Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary as a special keynote speaker. Quote: “We are very excited to have Selena Fox as our Guest of Honor for Merry Meet 2014 and as our Friday Night Keynote Speaker. Selena has been a leader and mover in Interfaith for many years and has worked, and continues to work, tirelessly within the Interfaith Community. Join us for what is sure to be a lovely evening of good food, camaraderie, and our shared passion for ‘Standing on Common Ground’!” Stay tuned for a report on the event from Managing Editor Heather Greene in the near future.

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • Polytheist and spirit-worker Sarah Kate Istra Winter has announced the publication of a short booklet on working with animal bones. Quote: “Working with Animal Bones introduces the reader to the biological processes which form bone; gives advice on how to find bones in a natural setting, and subsequently identify and thoroughly clean them; discusses the types of crafts that can be made with bones; and explores the history and modern practices involving the sacred use of animal bones, including divination. An annotated bibliography and list of online resources for collectors are also included.” The book can be purchased at Etsy, or on


  • Over at the Patheos Pagan channel, The Staff of Asclepius blog has welcomed two new contributors: Nornoriel Lokason and CJ Blackwood. Quote: “Nornoriel Lokason is a thirtysomething Norse pagan and demonolater living in the Portland metropolitan area with spirits and a cat […] Nornoriel is a disability and LGBT rights advocate and in his spare time he enjoys thrifting, communing with nature, reading, and being an armchair historian. […] CJ Blackwood graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor’s in journalism and a minor in English […] She’s been a practing witch and Pagan for eight years. Her path began with eclectic Wicca, but has now taken her to dusky realms of warrior goddesses, creative goddesses, and crones.”
  • Hungarian Pagan band The Moon and the Nightspirit have released a new album entitled “Holdrejtek.” Quote: “Just like its predecessor ‘Mohalepte’, ‘Holdrejtek’ is much influenced by a deep veneration for and love of nature as far as its concept is concerned, while this time, mastermind Mihaly Szabo approaches the subject in a less romantic and more intellectual way. The lyrics are rife with the philosophical idea of simultaneous oneness and duality of micro- and macrocosm, which is attributed to Hermes Trismegistos and his screed ‘Tabula Smaragdina’.” You can purchase the album digitally on iTunes and at

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

Cara Schulz is a resident of Burnsville, Minnesota, and has decided to run for one of the two open seats on the Burnsville City Council. Like many small city councils across America, the election is non-partisan, meaning the primaries coming up later this month will simply winnow the field down to four candidates from the current seven, regardless of each candidate’s personal party affiliation. The public will then vote two candidates into office this November.

Oh, and did we mention that Cara Schulz is also a Hellenic Polytheist?


Longtime readers of The Wild Hunt won’t be surprised at this news, after all, Cara is a staff reporter here now, and has been an active part of the larger Pagan community for several years. Here’s a brief excerpt from a piece she wrote about her faith for back in 2011.

“I ‘toss the barley’ and am humbly grateful to do so. I pour wine as a libation, the same as my ancestors did. I feel sacred Hestia in the flame that burns in my hearth and in my heart and I reap the benefits of my careful tending to the flame. I pray before my home altar, make offerings to the Agathos Diamons, and ask Hermes to guard me as I venture out of the protections of my home. There is a spiritual rhythm to my life that gives me great personal strength. My household worship practices, such as cleaning out the entire house and getting rid of all broken or wanted things each month on the Deipnon, improve the quality of life for all my family members. These ancient rituals have profound meaning that I would have missed if I had dismissed them as old and pointless.”

Schulz has also been active in politics for a long time, most notably, she was an active volunteer for Libertarian Presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson in 2012. Like Gov. Johnson, Schulz is liberal on social issues, and conservative on fiscal policy, or as she puts it “Socially Accepting and Fiscally Responsible.”

“Although Cara wants citizens more involved in local government, she feels government has become too involved in peoples’ personal lives and businesses. Her general rule is, ‘If you aren’t hurting or cheating anyone, and you’re doing it on your property, it’s none of the government’s business.'”

In a local paper’s candidate questionnaire, Schulz expanded on her political philosophy, and how it would affect locals in Burnsville.

“The townhome I live in had a pool rule of No Food Allowed, which residents ignored. There are two possible approaches. What city councils normally do — assume the problem lays with you and force compliance. Or what our association did — realize there’s no damage or injury so the problem was with the rule and eliminate it. I’ll bring the second, common-sense approach to the City Council because residents aren’t the problem, but the solution.”

Not backed by the Democratic or Republican parties in this race, Schulz faces an uphill battle to get her message out to voters, though she has received an endorsement from the Liberty Minnesota PAC, a libertarian-minded group that hopes to steer the Republican party toward their ideals.

“Cara is a dedicated liberty activist involved with a variety of causes in and around her city. Cara is an Air Force veteran who does a wonderful job covering a variety of policy topics on Youtube videos […] According to Cara’s responses on Liberty Minnesota’s candidate questionnaire, Cara is focused on removing or replacing: Building codes, nuisance laws and blue laws in Burnsville.”

As their endorsement points out, Schulz has been posting videos to Youtube where she discusses various issues as they relate to her political philosophy.

The primary election will be held on August 12th, and if she makes it to the final four, no doubt more endorsements, money, and scrutiny, will flow towards her campaign (such is the way with elections). We will keep you posted as things develop.

[Editorial note: The Wild Hunt is dedicated to documenting instances of Pagans, Polytheists, and other members of our broad religious movement engaging themselves in the political process. Coverage of a candidate should not be confused with endorsement, and The Wild Hunt will not make official endorsements in any political race. Here are some instances of us covering Pagan political candidates: Rev. Kathryn Jones, Lonnie MurrayDeirdre Wadding, Erin Lale, and Jessica Orsini, among others.]

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing 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 let’s get started!

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna, co-founder of Coru Cathubodua, and one of the subjects of the documentary American Mystic, launched an IndieGoGo crowdfunding venture this week to fund a book project focused on the Celtic goddess Morrigan. In the span of just a few days, it has already managed to reach 70% of its $7,500 goal. Quote: My name is Morpheus Ravenna. I write the Shieldmaiden Blog and I’m known in my community for my service as a priest of the Morrigan, the Celtic Goddess of battle, prophecy, and Otherworld power. I’ve been studying these traditions for almost 20 years – my entire adult life. I’ve combed the volumes of Irish lore, ancient history and archaeology, and modern scholarly study for insights to help modern practitioners understand and connect with the Great Queen. My research notes encompass hundreds of pages of material, some of it never presented outside academic publications. And now I’m ready to share my years of study with you.” Here’s the Google Hangout video from the launch night event. Below, I’ve embedded the official pitch video

10378157_10202241520539235_4465347862056082361_nThe Wild Hunt’s own Cara Schulz, a member of Hellenismos, is running for a seat on the Burnsville City Council in Minnesota. In a recent post on her candidacy page’s blog, Schulz explains to voters about her faith. Quote: “Hellenismos is very family focused and primarily practiced in the home. It mainly consists of praying and burning incense. I find it spiritually fulfilling and beneficial to my life. It’s a comfort to me when I need comfort and a kick in the pants when I need that. What residents may want to know, and they have a right to know, is how will my religious views affect me as City Council member? Probably no more, or no less, than any other candidate. I have no intention of pushing my religion on anyone or allowing its tenets to dictate law. Our government is a secular government and I firmly support that.” Schulz added that “Burnsville residents have always been welcoming of cultures, faiths, and ideas, as long as you are open and honest with them. It’s one of the things I love most about Burnsville.” The Wild Hunt, as a rule, does not endorse candidates from any party in elections, Pagan or not, but we will wish our friend and colleague good luck in the race ahead. Find out more about Cara and her candidacy at the official candidate’s page. You can also find her on Facebook.

Cherry Hill SeminaryPagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary has released a free media presentation called “Don’t Look Away” to help non-professionals recognize and respond to abuse within their community. Quote: “In response to growing concern about accountability in our communities, Cherry Hill Seminary has released a free media presentation called Don’t Look Away: Recognizing & Responding to Abuse for non-professionals. Don’t Look Away was created to help individuals and small groups better understand the nature of sexual abuse and appropriate ways to respond, as well as what to do if you have been abused, yourself. Numerous resources are given, such as the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, National Child Traumatic Stress Network, National Domestic Violence Hotline, and others. The presentation also references a new Emergency Resources page on the Cherry Hill Seminary web site. The page is a quick reference, not only on sexual abuse, but on domestic violence, addictions, child and elder abuse and neglect, mental health, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” You can find the CHS Emergency Resources page here. CHS Executive Director Holli Emore added in the official press release that “for far too long, we have either not recognized the signs of abuse among us, or we have looked away, assuming, hoping, that someone else will take care of the problem. But those problems don’t go away by themselves.”

In Other  Pagan Community News: 

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