Archives For charity

TWH –This is the time of year when, in advance of the nearly-inevitable “real witch” stories that are written in October, many Pagans try to shape the public image of their religions by participating in local Pagan Pride Day events. While not all of these are affiliated with the Pagan Pride Project, that organization’s model is why the bulk of PPD celebrations take place in late summer or early autumn. Sanctioned events are expected to include press releases inviting media coverage, public rituals, and fund raising for a charitable cause.

Pagan Pride Day logo

According to the Pagan Pride Project website, the rationale for a charitable component is:

A food drive or other charitable activity, to share our abundant harvest with others in need, and to make a clear statement to those who have misconceptions about Paganism. We know that our ethics, based on concern for ecology, personal responsibility, and individual freedom, mean that we feel strongly called to actions of social responsibility. It is important for us to highlight our similarity to other religions in that regard.

The Wild Hunt contacted the organizers of a number of Pagan pride events to find out how they selected causes for which to raise money.

Food for thought

As these events mostly take place during the harvest season, which culminates with the secular Thanksgiving in countries such as the U.S. and Canada, food drives are the most common type of charity effort undertaken at the events surveyed. Some organizers expressed that they believed it to be a PPP requirement. A few events include raising funds in addition to or instead of a food drive. However, asking for canned goods is common enough that any amount collected is tracked by the organization, along with numbers of attendees.

Some themes did emerge regarding how specific charities were selected. Serving people local to the event was frequently cited as a concern, as well as whether or not any kind of religious test was required either for the receipt of donations or other benefits.

[Photo credit: Waldo Jaquith / Flickr]

[Photo credit: Waldo Jaquith / Flickr]

In Frederick, Maryland, The Foodbank Program was selected “because we wanted to focus our charitable efforts on our own local community,” Frederick PPD organizers wrote, and because “they not only help those who are in truly desperate straits, but also moderate-income families who find themselves in a sudden financial bind.” The Foodbank Program serves some 600-800 families monthly.

Local was an important factor in selecting the Community Cares Food Bank for the Southeastern Massachusetts PPD, but organizers had another criterion. This particular food bank doesn’t “require attending their church services to receive help.”

Food collected in Washington, D.C. is donated to So Others Might Eat, as detailed in a blog post:

SOME is an interfaith, community-based organization that exists to help the poor and homeless of our nation’s capital. They meet the immediate daily needs of the people they serve with food, clothing, and health care. They aim to help break the cycle of homelessness by offering services, such as affordable housing, job training, addiction treatment, and counseling, to the poor, the elderly and individuals with mental illness.

New York City Pagans are, according to PPD organizers, quite generous. Like those in the District of Columbia, serving the homeless population is part of the agenda. “During our event, attendees have donated food by the truckload, out of their own hearts. With the food they receive, City Harvest services not only the homeless, but many local food programs as well. We selected them because by helping people who need it most, they’ve given us an opportunity to share more of ourselves with this amazing city we call home.”

While there is a food drive held at PPD in Athens, Georgia, a local food pantry doesn’t get the proceeds; they go to Project Safe, in part because there was no religious affiliation. Organizer Gwen explained:

Our little tribe essentially picked up the flag after the organizers of the first Pride Day in town backed out: it was quite a rush that year and they were the first and only secular charity I could turn up in the area. Most of the general food charities around here are actually coordinated through a Christian group and kind of big central collection and distribution so far as I could tell at the time. (Sometimes with Christian charities you can’t donate unless you hide that it comes from Pagans.)

I’ve worked with and around various unofficial domestic battery shelters in my time, so I thought Project Safe might just be somewhere our little food drive might actually be of meaningful help, rather than a drop in a bigger bucket. (We’re not a big event.) There was no disagreement regarding their worthiness, and there we are. That was in 2008 or 2009, and, well, that’s our charity ever since. Any other charitable ventures are anonymous.

The York, Pennsylvania PPD event benefits a cancer support organization, and collections reportedly spill over beyond the actual Pagan Pride Day. “We have chosen H.O.P.E. (Help for Oncology Patients and Emotional Support), located in New Freedom as our designated recipient,” organizers advised. “Past years, we only collected at the actual event. This year, we would like to be able to give a much more significant amount of food to H.O.P.E. We will be placing empty decorated boxes to local businesses from Aug. 15 until Sept. 15.” They have set a goal of 1,000 pounds.

Robert Schreiwer confirmed that Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day also directs food donations to a specialty organization. In this case, it is Vivian’s Cupboard, which “aims to help clients maintain optimal health and improve the efficacy of HIV treatment regimens by providing them with a consistent, nutritious supply of food.”

Crossline Food Pantry [From website]

Crossline Food Pantry [From website]

While religious ties can be a barrier in some areas, the Cleveland pride celebration benefits the Southeast Clergy Hunger Center. Organizer Matthew said it is “because they feed the local hungry and provide Meals on Wheels to local shut-ins. Similarly, PPD organizers in Springfield, Missouri, selected a Christian charity, Crossline Food Pantry, after donations were rejected by others. Matthew said:

With thousands of people experiencing a lack of safe and nutritional food we felt that, while it is a charity run by the Counsel of the Churches of the Ozarks, it includes services for people in the entire county (meeting certain guidelines of course) and we could do the most good for the most people through this organization. In addition, they were more than happy to work with Pagan Pride Day here in Springfield; we experienced the disappointment of several food pantries that turned us away when they discovered who we were.

According to organizer Alice Liddell, Crosslines uses an unusual approach, offering “a ‘client choice’ model that is different from other food pantries in the area. Each person or family is partnered with a volunteer to take them through their grocery store style pantry. Each client can select items that better fit their family’s tastes and dietary restrictions. They also have a mobile food distribution method and a holiday center for those in need.”

Beyond the food drive

While food donations dominate, many Pagan Pride Day events include support for other, non-food charities, either alongside or occasionally instead of a food bank or pantry. The bulk of those named by organizers benefited animals. In Connecticut and Vermont, that means the Humane Society. In Philadelphia, cats are cared for, and organizer Robert Schweirer recounted why:

Forgotten Cats provides humane trap, neuter, and release services and also provides affordable health services for cats throughout the region. We chose them because of their work. Many veterinarians donate their time to the service, and I really admire that. Plus, in the past, I have personally used their services when a mother cat gave birth to six kittens on my front porch on Mother’s Day shortly after I had made an offering to Freya.

Cats occupy a special place at the Greater Chicagoland PPD, as well, with both Gypsy Cats and CatVando being provided space in the vendor area, along with SpiralScouts International.

From London Humane Society [Photo Credit: Ansel Edwards / Flickr]

From London Humane Society [Photo Credit: Ansel Edwards / Flickr]

The Front Street Animal Shelter will be a focus at the Sacramento Pagan Pride Day. In a statement, pride project president Shawn Carlino said, “Sacramento Pagan Pride represents a community of people who believe the care and compassion for all animals should be part of our human experience. . . . Many of us have pets who are rescued dogs and cats. Some of our community have even rescued poultry! Life is sacred and by having knowledge of the good works of the Front Street Animal Shelter of course we would see how it would be a good fit to be a sponsor.”

Other events double down on supporting the homeless by raising funds as well as food for their care. That includes a warm-clothing drive in central New York and Denver. In Chicago, a suicide-prevention service is on the list.

All told, Pagans use the pride season to share in abundance and prosperity, as well as to remind people, who belong to more mainstream faiths, that charity is a value we all can share.

NOTTINGHAM, England –Members of the Nottingham Pagan Network organized an ongoing food drive to the feed refugees who have made it as far as England and any others in need in this storied city. The donations have been given to the food bank run by Himmah, described on its web site as “the first Muslim food bank in the U.K.

NPN members providing donations to Himmah food bank [photo credit: Gordon McGowan]

NPN members providing donations to Himmah food bank [Photo Credit: Gordon McGowan]

It’s interfaith cooperation which made the effort possible, according to Sarah Kay, spokesperson for the Nottingham Pagan Network. “NPN joined Nottingham Interfaith Council in 2014, and we were invited onto the committee to represent Pagans,” she explained.  “We’re finding that many parts of mainstream society are becoming more aware of Paganism and want to see it represented properly and sensibly alongside the other faiths, especially in a city like Nottingham where Paganism’s profile has become more visible thanks to things like the Pagan Pride festival,” she said. “We think the basic concepts of interfaith are already active in the Pagan community since, as Pagans of diverse and sometimes contradictory religious faiths and practices, we are used to coming together with people of a different religious and spiritual outlook.”

Paganism has become so visible in Nottingham due in no small part to the efforts of the Nottingham Pagan Network. It started as an online group and, then, transitioned to the physical plane when a local gathering, or moot, dissolved. “We’ve also run Pagan Pride’s community projects for several years,” Kay explained, “and thanks to a couple of our more high profile members we’ve been able to pull national Pagan leaders together for that.”

The NPN has strong ties to the Pagan Federation, the Children of Artemis, the Centre For Pagan Studies and the Doreen Valiente Foundation and, as Kay put it, has “a reputation of ‘punching above its weight.'” The NPN has itself seeded a number of moots and organized other events, but its purpose, said Kay, “has always been to encourage and facilitate Pagans to connect with each other and . . . to provide communications about Pagan, Pagan-related and Pagan-interest events in the region,” not simply be the source of those events.

Interfaith work is par for the course at Himmah, as well. Local Pagans had already been contributing to a project the Muslim charity had organized jointly with the Nottingham Liberal Synagogue, namely the Salaam Shalom Kitchen, which provides prepared meals to those in need on a weekly basis.

Refugees from the war in Syria started being admitted to the United Kingdom last year in a process slowed by a general anti-immigrant sentiment, with half of them so far being settled in Bradford, about two hours’ drive north.  That touched NPN members so much that “. . . deciding which charitable project to undertake our members were probably, like everyone else, focused on current world events which is why [donating to Himmah food bank] was a good choice,” Kay said.

Some of the collected food [courtesy photo]

Ashley Mortimer with some of the collected food [Courtesy Photo]

Kay said that NPN members worked as part of a larger team, drawing more Pagans into the wider effort. “Himmah [has] support from both faith and non-faith communities in Nottingham, so we are just a part of the collective effort to support the project and we thought that if we targeted our own (Pagan) community then Pagans would be supportive of the idea, not just for the good of the project, but to be seen as a community to be doing something good for the wider community. . . the multi-faith aspect of Himmah . . . drives awareness of its good works.”

Where some social groups might make charitable giving into a friendly competition, the Nottingham Pagan community didn’t keep score. “It’s all about understanding that every little bit contributes to the whole, if everyone does something, whether it’s to donate a pound or a tin of soup or to offer to drive around collecting donations for the evening no one is counting, all efforts are communal and we just need to keep contributing and doing without worrying about how much we’ve achieved.”

Nevertheless, “the response has been magnificent, the Himmah people have come to collect from us over two or three moots and we’ve done several runs ourselves to take them supplies. Many of our members simply gave us money so we’ve had a couple of shopping trips to specifically buy for Himmah.”

The profile the NPN maintains by participating in interfaith and charitable work will, Kay hopes, serve as a model, to “inspire and encourage other small local groups wherever they are to get busy and do good works — after all everyone who achieves something big or global is also local to somewhere!”

KATHMANDU, Nepal –This past Saturday, at about noon local time, Nepal was struck by an 7.8-magnitude earthquake said to be equivalent to 20 thermonuclear bombs, causing widespread destruction and loss of life. As of this writing, the death toll is reported at over 5,000, and that number is likely to rise as information is gathered from the remote areas closest to the epicenter.

Nepal Earthquake 2015 [Photo Credit: Krish Dulal via Wikimedia]

Nepal Earthquake 2015 [Photo Credit: Krish Dulal via Wikimedia]

As is often the case with powerful disasters, there is a strong desire to help. However it’s not always clear what assistance is going to be the most effective. The Wild Hunt spoke to Peter Dybing, whose experience on the front lines of disaster relief for the 2010 Haiti earthquake gives him a unique perspective on the issue.

Disasters like this have several phases, Dybing explained, and each phase has its own needs. An earthquake of this severity,which occurs roughly every 75 years in this region, will likely require both immediate aid and longer-term, sustainable solutions. The first step in providing aid, however, is assessing both the needs, and how well the surviving infrastructure can support aid workers. “If you don’t have everything that your people need,” he said, “they become part of the disaster” with each additional body needing food, water, and shelter – items already in short supply.

What is known so far is that many Nepalese survivors are sleeping on the streets. From what Dybing understands, water is likely in short supply in the more remote areas, where it must be trucked in along mountain roads. One organization that is particularly good at not becoming part of the problem, Dybing said, is Doctors Without Borders. “They bring all their teams, shelter, food, and water, and can be up and running in 24 hours,” he said.

Most NGOs, or non-governmental organizations, are not quite so nimble. In evaluating which organizations will be able to provide the needed help effectively and quickly, he says, it becomes a question of existing contacts and area infrastructure. In Haiti, he said, “We looked for a school to set up as an incident command base, because it has everything we would need.” For the Nepal response, Dybing expects that relief will be coordinated through India; navigating geopolitical tensions is but one of the challenges that relief organizations must be prepared for in order to be effective.

"Kathmandu - open spaces have become home for thousands of people afraid to return to their houses." [Photo Credit: Walter Lines / Flickr]

“Kathmandu – open spaces have become home for thousands of people afraid to return to their houses.” [Photo Credit: Walter Lines / Flickr]

Having contacts on the ground and a knowledge of the lay of the land is critical to being able to funnel money to where it is most needed, Dybing added. And, the Pagan community itself has just such a resource in the form of the Patrick McCollum Foundation, which has put out its own call for donations for earthquake relief.

“Patrick is the man,” Dybing said. “The idea that he could have a better idea where the needs actually are, and where to send the money, is an awesome thing. The issue is that there’s not an accountability put in place, so you have to trust the person, but I trust Patrick implicitly.” And, because the foundation is based in the United States, it’s required to spend all the donations made for Nepalese earthquake relief on exactly that.

McCollum, who was unavailable to comment, has traveled extensively to this part of the world, which is why his foundation is well-positioned to direct relief efforts. While the organization is primarily focused on social justice and world peace, Dybing said that, right now that specific mission is less important than McCollum’s knowledge about the needs and existing infrastructure in Nepal. “The logistic piece is huge,” Dybing said. “It can cut response time from 10-15 days down to three or four.”

Another small organization that is skilled at fast response is Heart to Heart International, which earned Dybing’s respect in Haiti for quick, effective deployment, followed by its working toward more sustainable, long-term solutions. As for groups with infrastructure already on the ground, Dybing named the Australian Red Cross.

Larger NGOs have what Dybing calls a “long logistics tail,” and take more time to get mobilized. “We were treating trauma victims in Haiti for nine days before the American Red Cross showed up,” he said. While these bigger organizations, like Care International, can’t provide immediate relief, the need in Nepal is probably going to last for years to come, so donations to these larger organizations will not go to waste.

People line up for clean water. [Photo Credit: Walter Lines / Flickr]

People lining up for clean water. [Photo Credit: Walter Lines / Flickr]

It’s also possible, he speculated, for the Pagan community to come together to provide some kind of longer-term, sustainable relief, perhaps targeting the small number of animists living in that nation. Out of a population of 26.5 million people, 3.1% report following Kirantism, which is a tribal religion with strong animistic and ancestor-veneration elements, and another .4% consider themselves animists. By comparison, 1.4% of those counted on the last Nepalese census called themselves Christian.

Just yesterday, Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) announced its ADF Cares – Nepal fund, through which money will be sent to Global Giving for longer term relief. “Pagans raised $30,000 for Doctors Without Borders after the Japan earthquake, which was the first time we did that as a community,” Dybing noted. “It blew the doors off the myth that Pagans are poor.” He speculated that such a sustainable effort might involve individuals contributing $30 a month for some years, allowing aid workers in those populations to eventually train Nepalese replacements to continue the effort.  With this level of destruction, Dybing added, “Two weeks isn’t going to cut it.”


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. Pagan Community Notes is just one of the many regular features The Wild Hunt brings you to help keep you informed about what’s going on in our interconnected communities. If you appreciate this reporting, please consider donating to our Fall Funding Drive (and thank you to the over 200 supporters who have already donated). Now, on to the news…

Patrick McCollum

Patrick McCollum

Pagan prison chaplain Patrick McCollum has penned an open reaction letter in response to a New York Times article about a Southern Baptist Bible college located inside the Louisiana State Penitentiary. In the letter, McCollum cautions fellow prison chaplains against celebrating this move unless they’d want to see a similar setup for a Wiccan seminary, and ends with the advice he’d give the warden in Louisiana if asked. Quote: “I support the good work of the seminary, and I would encourage the warden or other wardens, if they want to move in this direction, and if it were found that such programs were Constitutional ( which I seriously doubt) to invite minority faiths to have the same support and advantages they are offering the Bible college.  I would also caution the current seminary to review their objectives and adjust them to bring service to all and a good general education, without including conversion as a component.  If inmates feel moved after seeing the good work done by the seminary to convert, more power to them. While there is a serious question as to whether the situation described is Constitutional at all, the more important question is, is it ethical? Is it okay to submit confined inmates who cannot escape or move out of range of this program and who know up front that signing up for it will put them in good favor with the warden and staff and make their prison stay more comfortable and even give them status.” Religious education in prison is an ongoing issue, one that Pagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary has decided to explore with their new Pagan Life Academy.

1391905_10151682113826724_2043938403_nWriter, occultist, and musician Lon Milo DuQuette will be releasing a new album, “Gentle Heretic,” on October 31st. Downloads of the new songs are already available at CD Baby. Quote: “After a twenty five year hiatus from the music business and the recording studio, Lon Milo DuQuette is in the midst of a burst of musical creativity. Eighteen months after his 2012 debut on Ninety Three Records, DuQuette has wrapped production on “Gentle Heretic”, his third collection of original material. While “Heretic” maintains the wit and stylistic traditions established in his first two Ninety Three works (“I’m Baba Lon” and “Baba Lon II”), DuQuette has sharpened his satirical pen on some tracks, pulling few punches politically or philosophically. A prolific author and expert in Western Hermeticism, the Aleister Crowley disciple’s new disc tweaks the beaks of the one percent, pokes fun at the proselytizers – there’s even a scathing salvo served on a certain December holiday. Mixed in with these messages are some delightful frolics covering everything from reincarnation to a quantum theory of courtship. The final forty-one seconds might be described as the acoustic equivalent of a YouTube cat video.” You can find out more about this release at Ninety Three Records.

banner4Pandora’s Kharis, a charity circle run by Hellenic Polytheists, was recently launched. The new group, sponsored by Elaion, aims to raise money for “charities and causes which align with our ideals, our Gods and our communities.” Quote: “Pandora’s Kharis is a movement which arose from within the Hellenistic Polytheistic community, and sponsored by Hellenistic Polytheistic organization Elaion. Its goal is to come together as Hellenists–followers of the ancient Hellenic (Greek) Gods–and collect funds monthly to support a worthy cause, decided upon by vote from the members of the group. Donations will be collected throughout the month and provided to the organization on the Noumenia; the religious beginning of the new month, which coincides with the return of the moon after it’s just gone through its dark phase. It is a time of hope and promise, and Pandora’s remaining gift after the amphora was opened was exactly that. As such, she has been elected to represent what we stand for: to keep an open eye of wonder towards the world, to see the good in it, and to offer hope to those in need.” In an editorial for Witches & Pagans, Terence P. Ward praised the formation of Pandora’s Kharis, noting that “perhaps even more exciting — at least from a business perspective — is that the idea is easily replicated.  Wiccans, Heathens, polytraditional solitaries all could create their own groups for amplifying the power of their giving.  By narrowing the focus from the incredibly broad and often contradictory beliefs of Pagans down to the ethics and values of a particular subset of the Paganiverse, we are likely to see more public giving by Pagans.” More information can be found at the organization’s new web site.

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • A new London-based shop based around traditional conjure work, London Conjure, was launched this week. The enterprise was founded by Katelan Foisy (“La Gitana”), who is based in New York City, and Sister Enable, based in the UK. Quote: “Though much of their work is based on Romany “Gypsy” Magic passed down from generation to generation and traditional Hoodoo conjure work, they also work with spirits used in Haitian Vodou, Santeria or other enlightened spirits depending on what will work best to achieve their clients’ objectives.” You can learn more about the founders, here. You can also read a Q&A with Katelan Foisy.
  • A new book of commentaries on Aleister Crowley’s The Book of the Law“Overthrowing the Old Gods: Aleister Crowley and the Book of the Law,” has been published. Quote: “Boldly defying Crowley’s warning not to comment on the Book of the Law, Ipsissimus Don Webb provides in-depth interpretation from both Black and White Magical perspectives, including commentary from Dr. Michael A. Aquino, who served as High Priest of the Temple of Set from 1975 to 1996. Webb examines each line of the Book in the light of modern psychology, Egyptology, existentialism, and competing occult systems such as the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff and contemporary Left-Hand Path thought.”
  • At PNC-Minnesota, Lisa Spiral Besnett covers the 32nd Annual Women and Spirituality Conference in Mankato, Minnesota. Quote: “This conference is sponsored by the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at the University of Minnesota, Mankato.   Cindy Veldhuisen, the Business Manager for the Conference, told me that there were about 540 attendees this year.  This is up from last year. Some of the reason for the increase in attendance can likely be attributed to this year’s keynote speaker, Starhawk.  This is Starhawk’s third appearance as keynote speaker for the Woman & Spirituality conference.  She draws attendees from across the five state area as well as from the east coast, Colorado and Canada.  Many of the women I spoke with who were familiar with Starhawk were also alumni of the Diana’s Grove Witch Camp.”
  • Cosette, in Australia, gives an update on the Pagan/New Age event in Wedderburn, which experienced opposition from local Christian groups. Quote: “It sounds to me like there was a lot of interest in the New Age festival and that’s what people really went out there for. What Tonkin and other Christians like her fail to realize is that there’s a church on every corner and a Bible in every motel room, library, and book shop. Christianity is the dominant and privileged religion in Australia; finding information about it and other Christians is easy. Finding Witches, Wiccans, good resources, and a supportive Pagan or New Age spiritual community is much harder, and made all the more difficult by people like Tonkin who seek to defame alternative religions, and frighten those seeking them while attempting to silence those who practice them.”
  • Issue of #27 of Witches & Pagans Magazine was released on October 15th, and features an interview with Teo Bishop, conducted by T. Thorn Coyle. Quote: “This issue guest-stars a triplet of fascinating Pagan notables. Paranormal and detective novelist Alex Bledsoe sold his first magickal “Lady Firefly” story to PanGaia in 1998. Catch up with his journey in this conversation with Deborah Blake; then listen in as the inimitable T. Thorn Coyle talks with Pagan blogger, mystic, Druid and musician (aka Matt Morris) Teo Bishop; and visit with Renaissance woman, writer, and community leader Tish Owen.”

That’s all I have for now, please remember to support The Wild Hunt during our Fall Funding Drive so that we can continue to bring you reporting from our interconnected communities!

Here are some updates on previously reported stories here at The Wild Hunt.

The Temple of Witchcraft Wins Zoning Permission: The Temple of Witchcraft, a religious organization co-founded by author Christopher Penczak, after encountering some resistance from neighbors to expand and make improvements to their new building in Salem, New Hampshire, has received unanimous approval from the local Planning Board.

tow new home

The Temple of Witchcraft’s new Salem home.

“The Temple of Witchcraft has received final approval to expand its operations on North Policy Street, despite opposition from neighbors. The Planning Board voted unanimously last week to grant the nonprofit organization the permission it needs to relocate from 2 Main St. to a two-story building at 49 N. Policy St.”

Opponents insisted this was only about traffic and noise, and not about Witchcraft, though one neighbor did question if the Temple of Witchcraft was “truly a religious organization deserving of a zoning exemption.” Still, this is a win, and I congratulate the temple on their new home.

UK Witches in Sexually Abusive Coven Found Guilty: Peter Petrauske and Jack Kemp have been convicted of being involved in a pedophile ring that used the trappings of Wicca to lure in young girls in order to sexually abuse them. Their abuse, which involved “a number of young victims, the youngest aged somewhere between three and five,” was also linked to murdered occultist and parish councillor Peter Solheim.

peter petrauske

Peter Petrauske

“Petrauske was said to be the “high priest” of a witches’ coven in St Ives, Cornwall, and ordered the girls to carry out his sick fantasies. The court heard Kemp videoed the abuse, but also took part in the assaults, along with friends Solheim and Stan Pirie – a notorious paedophile who died in jail following his conviction for sex abuse in the mid-2000s. The duo’s victims gave harrowing evidence from behind a screen during the three-week trial. They said they were then abused by their tormentors, before being given money and sweets to buy their silence.”

As I said when I first reported on this, “those who blur the boundaries of power and responsibility to engage in sexual gratification with minors are repugnant, and we have a special responsibility to speak out against those who sully the names of our sacred traditions, who twist the psyches of those they hold spiritual authority over. I hope this latest incident act spurs us into reiterating what our sexual ethics are in a manner that leaves no excuse to those who would twist or abuse the decentralized non-hierarchical nature of our faiths and community for their own purposes.” I can only hope the victims find some measure of closure with their conviction.

More on the Pagan Federation Charity Fight: Third Sector Magazine reports on the Pagan Federation’s fight for charity status in England and Wales after being recently denied for not meeting “all the essential characteristics of a religion for the purposes of charity law.”

Pagan Federation

“The commission’s decision is interesting, says Emma Moody, head of charities at the commercial law firm Dickinson Dees, because it has said in the past that it is not the regulator of religion. But it is now saying, she says, that the Pagan Federation is not a religion because it does not meet its requirements.”

The Wild Hunt recently interviewed  The Pagan Federation’s president, Chris Crowley, about the matter, and he said that the organization will “not give up and keep hammering away” until it is recognized as a charitable Pagan organization. We’ll keep you updated as this story progresses.

Charles Jaynes Denied Religious Name Change: Charles Jaynes, convicted in 1997 of participating in the abduction, molestation, and murder of 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley, went before a judge this past November wanting to change his name to “Manasseh Invictus Auric Thutmose V” in what he claimed was a necessary step in his growth within the Wiccan religion. Now, the judge has denied that request, stating “that allowing the Petitioner’s petition for change of name is inconsistent with public interests.”

Charles Jaynes

Charles Jaynes

The decision also states tht due to Jaynes’ history of using aliases, concealing his identity and eluding criminal prosecution, “an allowance of the Petitioner’s change of name petition jeopardizes public safety.”

As I said previously, this case points to how badly we need effective, and supported, Pagan chaplaincy in our prison system (and better information about Paganism available in general). Perhaps this name-change request might still have gone forward, but it may not have had the label “Wicca” put on it in the process. Be sure to read the very insightful comments on this issue at my original post.

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

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

Pagan Federation banner.

Pagan Federation banner.


Correspondences journal.

  • A new academic journal of Western Esotericism, Correspondences, has been announced.  Quote: “By providing a wider forum of debate regarding issues and currents in Western esotericism than has previously been possible, Correspondences is committed to publishing work of a high academic standard as determined by a peer-review process, but does not require academic credentials as prerequisite for publication. Students and non-affiliated academics are encouraged to join established scholars in submitting insightful, well-researched articles that offer new ideas, positions, or information to the field.” First issues is due in June, call for papers, here.
  • Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll is a thuggish Christian power-tripper who thinks he’s edgy because he writes about having sex with his wife. He’d be a huge joke were it not for his rampant (almost cultish) popularity in the Pacific Northwest. Now, the Seattle mega-pastor is attacking Twilight (because he’s oh-so-relevant) for sinking teen girls into Paganism and the occult. Quote: “…girls the same age of my 15-year-old daughter are talking about “awakening,” which is their word for converting to paganism (like the Christian word “born again”). In a perverted twist on Communion, their sacraments include the giving of your own blood by becoming a “donor.” This is entirely pagan.” No, this is entirely inane. Despite his Seattle-denizen ambient hipster facade, Driscoll is your typical evangelical social conservative who pearl-clutches over the thought of Paganism.
  • The creepy UK Pagan who was caught with a semi-undressed underage girl in the woods has narrowly avoided being put on sex offenders registry after the judge decided that the “sexual element” wasn’t sexual enough to justify his inclusion. Quote: “Sheriff Noel McPartlin said it was ‘hard to escape the view that him being naked in the room with the girl might suggest a sexual element […] I am a bit hesitant but I do not think the sexual element is significant enough to justify placing him on the register.'” 
  • As a counter-point to the hysteria of Mark Driscoll, Richard Stearns, president of World Vision (the largest evangelical Christian relief organization in the world), suggests a culture-war cease fire between Christians and non-Christians. Quote: “We need to find a way to live in a pluralistic society without engaging in an arms race with those who are not Christians.”
  • Indian Country Today Media Network reports that a coalition of Native American spiritual leaders have signed a declaration opposing Canada’s oil sands and the new Tar Sands pipeline being proposed. Quote: “The statement, signed by more than 20 spiritual chiefs at a Sundance this summer in South Dakota, includes members of the Lakota, Navajo, Apache, Mohawk, Dine, Aztec and Ojibwe nations, spanning much of Turtle Island.”
  • Riordons Witchcraft Emporium in Australia wants you to know that they have a screening process: “Are they a borderline schizophrenic … or somehow mad? There are many vulnerable people in the world and you don’t want to make their situation worse.” Also profiled in the article is the shop Spellbox. Both establishments take pains to stress that they aren’t like Harry Potter, and they aren’t “New Age.”
  • Counter-cultural magazine Arthur has announced its return, featuring many of the magickal luminaries that made it such a hit in the first place. Quote: “Arthur’s gang of idiots, know-it-alls and village explainers are back, from Bull Tonguers Byron Coley & Thurston Moore to radical ecologist Nance Klehm to trickster activists Center for Tactical Magic to Defend Brooklyn’s socio-political commentator Dave Reeves to a host of new, fresh-faced troublemakers, edited by ol’ fool Jay Babcock and art directed by Yasmin Khan.” I suspect that this news will excite a certain portion of my readership.

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of them I may expand into longer posts as needed.

Top Story: Though still small religious minorities throughout the world, contemporary Pagan groups have increasingly involved themselves in charitable campaigns, and created charities of their own. In Kansas City, Missouri Gaia Community, a Pagan Unitarian-Universalist congregation, raised a half-ton of food at the 2011 God Auction, which was donated to Harvesters Community Food Nework. It was estimated that the food raised was enough to provide for 795 meals.

Food raised by Gaia Community

“…one of the reasons we schedule this fund raiser in the summer is we know it’s a time when donations to Harvesters tend to be low, while demand for food is high with children out of school.” – David Reynolds, Gaia Community member

You can read more about Gaia Community’s efforts by downloading the press release for the event, or visiting their website. While Gaia Community raised food for an already existing charity, in Australia the Community Church of Inclusive Wicca Inc. (CCIWI) has started their own food pantry, which was just granted full tax deductibility status. The first Wiccan group, though not the first Pagan group, to achieve this. Founder Amethyst Treleven said that she was “very proud” to have her charity receive “the same recognition as other religious based charities which have traditionally been Christian organised.” CCIWI’s food pantry was founded so that Pagans in need could find aid without feeling pressured to “accept the faith of that charitable body,” and won’t have to “compromise their spiritual and religious beliefs.”

Those are just two examples of how Pagans are helping each other, and reaching out to help the communities we live in. Every year Pagans collect tons of food for charity though the annual Pagan Pride days, while several Pagan organizations engage in outreach, fundraising, and volunteer efforts. Back in 2003 Jim Towey, then-Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based & Community Initiatives, questioned the charitable instincts of Pagan groups. Since then Pagans in the United States, and around the world, have worked to show that though small in number, we have a true commitment to charity and helping others.

In Other News:

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

The initiative started by Peter Dybing for the Pagan community to raise 30,000 dollars for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières has reached and surpassed its goal! Here’s a statement from Peter Dybing on this achievement.

Today the Pagan Japan Relief Project prevailed in its effort to raise $30,000.00 for Doctors Without Borders. This achievement belongs to the entire community. While there are many examples of individuals and organizations that established efforts in support of this project, it is the community as a whole that has spoken; declaring it’s allegiance to the principle that we are one human family.

Already First Giving has distributed funds to Doctors Without Borders in support of their relief efforts. As little as $3.00 purchased a blanket for those without shelter. The small sum of $5.00 obtained medications for individuals unable to afford them. Today there are survivors receiving critical care as a result of this effort.

This project also represents an important moment in Pagan history. Working together across intrafaith boundaries this community has demonstrated the maturation that has occurred over the past few decades. We have established that we are an effective and unified religious community that can respond to world events, take action when necessary and work together in support of achievable goals. Gone is the quietly whispered sentiment that Pagans do not work together or that Pagans do not give to charity.

Pagans from all over the country gave from the heart in support of this effort. About a week ago I received an email from a community member who was attempting to figure out how to make the FirstGiving site charge their ATM card $5.00 as that was the balance in their account. It is this ethic of giving all that we can that has so impressed me. Many community members have given multiple times to the effort. We should all be proud of these incredible expressions of intent, compassion, self-sacrifice, and determination to make a difference. Collectively, we have manifested change in the world and our community all at once.

As facilitator of this project it has been my privilege to witness our community pull together in this effort. Humbled is the only word I can think of that expresses my feelings about this effort. Humbled viewing this achievement humbled to be a member of this community and humbled to be allowed to play a small part in this historic response.

Pagans we are strong, we are focused, we are effective, we have proven that there are no limits on what this community can accomplish and we deserve to be Proud.

In Service and Gratitude,
Peter Dybing

In addition, here’s a short statement from Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, who was instrumental in spreading the word and making contacts within the Pagan community for this to happen.

“The combined efforts of Pagans of many paths & places in giving, in expressing support, and in networking has not only raised money to help one of the international organizations engaged in relief efforts in Japan, but it has raised consciousness that Pagans can work together for the greater good.”

That the Pagan community has been able to collectively raise over $30,000 dollars, much more if you could count donations to other initiatives and organizations that Pagans have been involved in, is a monumental achievement. My personal thanks to all of you who became a part of this effort, and not only helped the people of Japan and a very worthy organization, but also showed that we can collectively pull together to accomplish great things. To the people of Japan, the Pagan community stands in solidarity with you at this time of crisis and tragedy.

I just have a few quick news notes for you this morning.

UUA Japan Relief Fund: Those still looking for locally-focused and Pagan-friendly options in their donations towards aiding Japan in the wake of Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, the Unitarian Universalist Association has set up a fund that sounds very promising.

“Following Friday’s devastating earthquake and resulting tsunamis, the UUA has been in contact with our religious partners in Japan to express our concern and our willingness to partner with them in recovery efforts.  Our partners, including Rissho Kosei-kai, Tsubaki Grand Shrine, the Konko Church of Izuo, the Tokyo Dojin Church, and the Japan Chapter of the International Association for Religious Freedom are all in discernment about the specific efforts they will be taking to support recovery work, and the UUA will walk with them in the directions that are ultimately chosen.  Please join with UUs throughout the United States by contributing to the UUA’s Japan Relief Fund which will support the work that our Japanese partners pursue.”

A partnership of UUA, Buddhist, Shinto, and Japanese religious freedom organizations would seem to help avoid the allegations and scandals that some international aid organizations are encountering, and work towards immediate and locally directed assistance. For more ways to stand with Japan during this time, see my previous post on the subject.

Call For Submissions: Sarah Thompson and Gina Pond from Circle of Cerridwen, who initiated the protest and discussion over the exclusion of transgendered women at a public women-only ritual during this year’s PantheaCon, are hoping to take the ongoing discussions on the issue of gender and transgender within our interlocking communities to the next level with the publication of an open-submission freely available book.

“The recent events surrounding Pantheacon 2011 and the internet-wide debate that followed it have raised awareness publicly of the issues surrounding gender and transgender in the wider Pagan community. This book will comprise a number of chapters, some invited and most by open submission, which will give all sides of the debate an opportunity to clearly state their positions. In a sense, the book will serve as a written equivalent of a talking-stick debate, whilst also making it possible to capture the sense of this historic time, as accurately as possible, in the words of the people involved. Though space is limited in the print version of the book, we hope to make all submitted papers that meet the submission criteria available for download on the web. The publication will be on a not-for-profit basis, with proceeds (if any) donated to a suitable charity/nonprofit (to be determined). Invited chapters are being solicited from as many key people as possible.”

Chapters from all sides in the ongoing discussions and debate are welcome, details can be found at the Circle of Cerridwen’s page devoted to this project. Chapter submissions for “Gender and Transgender in Modern Paganism” are due by June 21st. I’m glad to see attempts to move these discussions forward in a responsible manner, and hope that many of the more vocal contributors to the discussion at The Wild Hunt will look into writing a chapter for this new work.

New Religious Climate Study at Air Force Academy: Word has come that retired Air Force general Patrick K. Gamble will be conducting an “independent, subjective look at the overall climate at USAFA relating to free exercise of religion.” The Air Force Academy has long come under fire for instances of religious intolerance, favortism, and aggressive proslytization from an entrenched culture of conservative evangelical Christianity. Problems that Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says won’t be addressed in this new review.

“The problem at the school is not with any restriction on the free exercise of religion, but with unwanted proselytizing by fundamentalist Christians, a violation of the constitutional concept of the separation of church and state, he said. Gamble said he had not ruled out looking at the separation issue. He said his review team is still getting organized and its scope hasn’t been determined. “We’re going to take a blinders-off look, and nothing’s off the table, but nothing’s on the table, either,” he said.”

In recent years the Air Force Academy has tried to change its image as an aggressively Christian organization, and much was made in the press about their support for the installation of a Pagan worship area, though perhaps even more press was generated at the subsequent vandalism of said site. That circle was a response to a genuine need among Pagan cadets, one that has permeated all aspects of life there, and I can only hope that this nascent support for minority religions by the Air Force Academy can help counteract the larger culture of intolerance that many encounter.

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

I have assembled some resources for the Pagan community regarding donation recommendations and other resources for showing solidarity with the people of Japan in the wake of Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. First, Peter Dybing, National First Officer, Covenant of the Goddess, who spoke on this issue on Friday, has posted some recommendations at his blog.

Over the past few days I have been researching, looking for small NGO’s that have a preexisting presence in Japan. They are few and far between in a country with so much wealth and strong social programs led by the government. One such organization is Peace Winds Japan, which is already erecting temporary housing and providing services on the ground. This organization has partnered with Mercy Corps international to do fundraising for their operations in Japan. Note: to insure that your donation goes to the right place you must write “funds to be used for Peace Winds Japan only” in the comment line on the donation form.

My primary suggestion for donations is Doctors Without Borders. This organization now has two teams on the ground in Japan setting up medical treatment centers. While this is a well-known NGO, I am recommending them due to their level of accomplishment in Haiti saving lives. Additionally, when this organization raised enough funds for its Haiti response it stopped accepting donations. It is important to recognize that organizations have a logistical limit as to how much they can accomplish. By suspending fundraising this organization demonstrated a commitment to spend funds wisely and not just take the opportunity to raise unlimited cash as other large NGO’s did. With this in mind, a Pagan Community donation Page has been set up to enable donations to this organization.

If you want your donation to Doctors Without Borders to be recognized as coming from the Pagan community, be sure to use the special FirstGiving page set up by Peter Dybing.

Poster by James White, which you can buy at the Signalnoise store. All profits go to the relief effort.

In addition, The Delaware Valley Pagan Network is raising funds for Shelter Box USA (official web site), and the ADF will be sending any donations made to its ADF Cares program to the International Red Cross.

Finally, for those wanting to do a targeted spiritual working, Selena Fox from Circle Sanctuary and Shibaten of Japan are planning a healing rite for Japan this evening (Sunday).

On Friday, Japan was hit by the largest earthquake in its history, followed by a tsunami which has destroyed two thirds of its eastern coast. Japan also now is in the midst of a nuclear emergency due to damages to several nuclear power plants. Please focus on sending healing to Japan, to its inhabitants, and to all those impacted by these disasters.

Shibaten, who is in his native Japan and is OK, and Selena, who is in her forest home in Wisconsin, have been in frequent contact by email since the disasters, and will be working together in facilitating this rite. Shibaten will be playing healing music on a didgeridoo & Selena will be playing the healing sounds of a singing bowl from Japan. They will be joined by others from Canada, Ireland, and other countries in this ritual.

If you have one, work with a quartz crystal and a symbol of and/or from Japan to help focus your healing prayers. Participants also are invited (not required) to work with the Elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit, and the Japanese Sun Goddess as Amaterasu Omikami in this rite. More info about the ceremony, also with posts from some of those who will be taking part is on Selena’s main Facebook page.

The ritual is at March 13th, 7 pm CDT Sunday/9 am Tokyo time Monday.

Thanks to Star Foster at for helping to pull these resources together. My prayers and best wishes go out to the people of Japan.