Archives For Cherry Hill Seminary

11181851_1462453380.8327DETROIT – On May 4, Michigan’s Pagan community lost one of their beloved leaders. Michael Wiggins was a teacher, artist, dancer and the “face of Convocation,” an annual Pagan conference held in Michigan. He was born into a Pagan family, making him a second generation witch. He was president of the Michigan Education Council and was declared “Michigan Pagan of the Year” in 2013 for his influence on local events and his advocacy work in the community.

A memorial fund has been set up to raise the needed money to cover his various unexpected final expenses. The current goal amount, which is now at $10,000, was raised twice over the past four days after donors quickly exceed the original and secondary marks. L. Claudine Durham wrote, “The new goal is just a number and is not an expectation…you have already blown away this out of the water and we love you all.”

Fellow Michigan Pagan and writer Kenya Coviak wrote on her blog, “Michael was a truly beautiful soul. A witty conversationalist […] You never knew what insight you would get, but it was always something thoughtful and surprising. His wisdom helped shape a vision of what greatness and beauty that can be ours if we grasp it.”  We’ll have more on Michael’s life and his legacy in the coming days. What is remembered, lives.

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224684_128918613850144_1452602_nTWH – On May 1, the Asatru Folk Assembly announced a change in its leadership. Current Alsherjargothi Stephen McNallen stepped down, handing the reins over to, as he wrote, “an able team consisting of Gothi Matt Flavel, Gythja Pat Hall, and Allen Turnage as Lawspeaker.”  McNallen made the announcement saying, “I created the Asatru Folk Assembly twenty years ago and have led it through thick and thin.” He explained that he had looked around “at the other leaders of [his] generation” and saw them backing off of their daily involvement in organizational operations. He said that it was time for him to do the same.

McNallen wrote, “Others need a chance to lead, without standing in my shadow. They need room to grow, for their own good but also for the good of all that I, and we, have built. I don’t want to be that old geezer hanging on at age eighty-five because he’s just too stubborn to let go.” One of those new incoming leaders, Gothi Matt Flavel, wrote in response, “We are so deeply honored for the trust and the responsibility to lead the Asatru Folk Assembly into a glorious future. We have a strong and proud tradition to build upon and great momentum to continue the good work and mission of the AFA.”

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ALBERTA – A Canadian wildfire in the province of Alberta still rages out of control as residents have been forced to evacuate the area. The Fort McMurray wildfire is said to be larger than both Boston and Chicago combined, and has “grown to nearly 400,000 acres (625 square miles), as of Sunday morning and has destroyed more than 1,600 structures.” The fire, which started on Sunday, may have been ignited by campers or by a lightning strike; the source is not known. While officials say that wildfires are common to this remote area, the region’s prolonged dry conditions have led to the fire’s quick spread and its incredible growth.

Dodie Graham McKay, our Canadian news correspondent, has been speaking with members of Alberta’s very active Pagan community. Edmonton, located in the southern portion of the province, is home to a number of different Pagan organizations, events and retail stores. At this point, Graham McKay has said, “It’s chaos there right now.” Reports are coming in that, as the winds move steadily southeast, the fire is now threatening the neighboring province of Saskatchewan. Graham McKay said, “Fires are also now raging along the Manitoba/Ontario border. Winnipeg is being affected with smoky skies and fire bans. And, it’s only May. The dry season isn’t supposed to happen until August.”

A recent shift to cooler weather and some rain has brought hope in Alberta, and has slowed the spread of the massive fire’s flames. However, officials still say that the flames could burn for many more weeks. Graham McKay has been in contact with several local Pagans in the fire zone and will have the full story on Thursday.

In Other News

  • Over the weekend, the Bay Area Pagan Alliance honored another one of its local community members with the title of Keeper of the Light: Glenn Turner. She is known for many years of devoted work within the local community, as well as being PantheaCon‘s event coordinator. She was given the title of Keeper of the Light during the alliance’s annual May festival held in Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park.  She was presented with the title by Wild Hunt writer, author, and activist Crystal Blanton, who was honored in 2015. Congratulations to Glenn Turner!
  • As noted in the Tallahassee Democrat, a number of religious leaders from the Tallahassee area have signed a joint statement appealing for courtesy. Included in that interfaith group is Covenant of the Goddess member and priestess Diana Kampert.  After listing a number of recent violent and hate-driven events, the group wrote, “These are but a few of the factors that seem to be contributing to a denigration of civil discourse among us. We sense a rising tide of fear, suspicion, disrespect and disregard for one another’s full humanity.” Then the interfaith group called on people to “resist those who would turn us against one another. We urge our neighbors to listen respectfully to people of differing religious and political convictions, and to share their own perspectives without resorting to slanderous attacks.”
  • The Austin Pagan community has also recently garnered some mainstream press coverage. Mary Caldwell, Ed Fitch and Philip Elmore were interviewed by Qiling Wang, a writer for Reporting Texas. The article is titled “Out of the Shadows: Wicca Grows in Austin and Beyond,” and it reportedly caught the attention of the Drudge Report. After more than 400 comments streamed into the site within the first hour of publication, the news outlet had to shut the comments down. The Austin Pagan community is generally very pleased with Wang’s article and her respectful treatment of the subject.
  • The annual festival Rites of Spring is coming up this month. It is hosted by the EarthSpirit Community and held every year in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. The event is open to “all who celebrate the sacred nature of the Earth.”  The Rites of Spring is one of the first week-long Pagan festivals of the summer season, and features workshops, rituals and performances with the reported goal of establishing “a vibrant and joyful living community that expands outward with [attendees] when [they] leave.” Organizers remind interested guests that “on-line registration is open until Friday May 13.”
  • Cherry Hill Seminary has posted its class schedule for summer 2016, and has opened registration. This list of classes include several masters level classes, the military specialization stackables, a selection of short 4-week insight classes, as well as the new educational program that allows students to earn a Certificate Environmental Leadership. Cherry Hill Seminary is the “leading provider of education and practical training in leadership, ministry, and personal growth in Pagan and Nature-Based spiritualities.”

Nikki Bado 1954 – 2016

Cara Schulz —  April 26, 2016 — 6 Comments

[Courtesy Iowa State University]

[Courtesy Iowa State University]

“The casting of the Circle is complete. You are led to the edge of the Circle, where Death, your challenge, is waiting for you.” – Nikki Bado, excerpt from Coming to the Edge of the Circle

After a long illness and sudden heart attack, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Iowa State University Nikki Bado died April 22. A noted scholar and Wiccan Priestess with over 40 years in the Craft, Ms. Bado was perhaps most well known for her book Coming to the Edge of the Circle: A Wiccan Initiation RitualThe book was written as a “challenge to the commonly accepted model of ‘rites of passage.’ Rather than a single linear event, initiation is deeply embedded within a total process of becoming a Witch in practice and in community with others.”

Bado straddled the difficult line between being an academic and a practitioner. She faced criticism from colleagues for being a participant in the field she studied. An article she authored in the Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies addressed this criticism, which is often faced by Pagan academics. She wrote:

Witches say you never forget your own initiation into the Craft. Mine remains vividly alive to me, even though almost forty years have passed. I am no longer a newcomer to the Old Religion, but a high priestess who is well seasoned in performing rites of initiation for others. Yet according to a kind of thinking still common in religious studies—and painfully evident in Markus Davidsen’s 2012 article “What is Wrong with Pagan Studies?” —the above statement becomes an admission of guilt, one that marks me an “insider,” or in Davidsen’s curious phrasing someone who has “gone native in reverse,” and immediately makes my scholarship suspect.

As both a scholar and a religious practitioner, I felt compelled to confront the dilemma of the insider/outsider issue more than thirteen years ago when I started writing on Wiccan initiation, a manuscript that eventually resulted in the publication of my first book Coming to the Edge of the Circle: A Wiccan Initiation Ritual.

At that time, I reasoned this was an issue that needed to be confronted head on, and early in my academic career, well before my work on ritual and on material and popular culture in religion established my legitimacy as a scholar. By 2013, I had hoped our field would have moved beyond such facile distinctions as insider/outsider and developed a more finely honed sense of reflexivity, or at least a more sophisticated understanding of perspective, location, and place.

I am profoundly disappointed that we are here today, still talking about insiders and outsiders.

Chas Clifton, author of Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Contemporary Paganism in America and editor of the Pomegranate, posted a remembrance of Bado on his personal blog. He wrote, “I have forgotten just when we met, but it must have been at the American Academy of Religion meeting. She helped build the Contemporary Pagan Studies Group and worked with me as a co-editor on our book series for Equinox Publishing. She wrote on Paganism, religion in popular culture, Japanese religious festivals, the body in religion, and pilgrimage, among other topics. Her longest work on Pagan religion was the book Coming to the Edge of the Circle: A Wiccan Initiation Ritual. Good friend, priestess, hard-working scholar. She will be missed.”

9780195166453In an email to The Wild Hunt, Clifton went on to say, “I would see her only once a year at [the American Academy of Religion], typically, but I got lots of late-night phone calls, which I will miss. Her medical problems gradually made it harder and harder to teach and write the last couple of years — she suffered a lot — and I am glad that she is free of that. But now that she is a professor emerita on the other side, she may still be of assistance.”

Macha NightMare, author and Priestess, said, “I will miss Nikki’s keen mind, her hearty humor, and her ardent commitment to her work. I knew her as a prominent presence in the fields of ritual studies and Pagan studies at AAR (American Academy of Religion). Her book, Coming to the Edge of the Circle: A Wiccan Initiation Ritual, is well worth being more widely known and read. May her merriment echo in the lives of those who knew and loved her.”

Wendy Griffin, Ph.D, Academic Dean of Cherry Hill Seminary, also knew Bado through the AAR, as well as through Bado’s time as President of the Board for the seminary. They became friends over many conversations, and, like the others, she most remembers Bado as an excellent scholar and having a “wicked sense of humor.”

Bado’s last Pagan conference was January’s Conference on Current Pagan Studies, where she was a presenter. Jeffrey Albaugh, organizer for the conference, remembers, “Although Dr. Nikki Bado taught philosophy and religious studies at Iowa State University and served as president of the board for Cherry Hill Seminary, I personally knew her from my work with the Conference on Current Pagan Studies, where we were blessed to have her as keynote speaker this past January.  Nikki was a gracious sport, and was the first keynote we had participate remotely, from her hospital bed, via Skype. Despite some minor technical issues that had not occurred during our testing of the equipment and internet connection, she engaged the audience warmly and authentically regarding issues of social justice and our Pagan communities.”

51xgxnAs9zL._UY250_Albaugh continued on to say, “This last CCPS was my first dealing with her, but I bonded with her immediately. Her goal in her recovery was to dance again, I think it was ballroom dancing. I promised to dance with her, but that will have to be in the Summerland. She is on my afterlife dance card.”

In addition to her book on Wiccan initiations, Bado also co-authored Toying With God: The World of Religious Games and Dolls, with Rebecca Sachs Norris along with many articles on Wicca, Goddess worship, and Japanese spirituality. Among her many editor credits includes Pop Pagans: Paganism and Popular Music, which includes a contribution by The Wild Hunt founder, Jason Pitzl-Waters.

What is remembered, lives.

TWH — Tomorrow marks the 46th anniversary of the celebration of Earth Day. This holiday is considered to be the largest secular celebration recognized throughout the world, with “more than a billion people” honoring the day every year. It is considered to be “a day of action [to] change human behavior and provoke policy changes.” While Earth Day has always had its detractors and critics, it is regularly acknowledged in many diverse ways, both small and big, around the globe. And, in that way alone, it could be considered an Earth Day.

[Photo Credit: Kate Ter Haar / Flickr]

[Photo Credit: Kate Ter Haar / Flickr]

The actual celebration of a national Earth Day wasn’t marked until 1970 at the height of the American cultural revolution. Founded by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Earth Day was born from a buildup of tension and cultural events occurring over time. This began with the 1962 publication and popularity of Rachel Carson’s landmark book, Silent Spring. 

More directly, according to reports, Sen. Nelson was personally propelled to launch his mission to create an Earth Day “after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.” A 2014 article at ClimateProgress explains how that one spill “changed everything.” The article explains, “The scope of attention focused on the spill grew along with the mess of oil […]” As reported, then-President Richard Nixon said, “It is sad that it was necessary that Santa Barbara should be the example that had to bring it to the attention of the American people …. The Santa Barbara incident has frankly touched the conscience of the American people.” The article goes on to say:

In the years that followed, the lasting impression of the spill on the public, government officials, and the private sector led to coordinated action unheard of in today’s starkly partisan Congress. Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act in 1969, which led the way to the July 1970 establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Clean Water Act passed in 1972 and the Endangered Species Act in 1973.

As a result, the American Earth Day was born. Interestingly, Canada launched its own Earth Day ten years later, September 11, 1980, but neither caught on in global terms at that time. The Earth Day idea reportedly “limped along” with limited acknowledgement until the 20th anniversary of the American version in 1990. Nelson spoke to a crowd of “800,000 gathered on the National Mall in Washington D.C.” and said, “I don’t want to have to come limping back here 20 years from now on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day…and have the embarrassing responsibility of telling your sons and daughters that you didn’t do your duty—that you didn’t become the conservation generation that we hoped for.”

Earth Day was then celebrated again in 1995, 2000 and, by that point, had garnered increasing international attention as climate change moved to the forefront of global concerns. By 2010, April 22nd had become internationally recognized as Earth Day. And, just as it was back in 1970, the celebration still has its critics. Is it all “just words?” Has the “holiday” become too commercialized, losing its purpose and activist roots?

[Image Credit: Beautygala.com]

[Image Credit: Beautygala.com]

Since its beginning, Earth Day was not propelled by global organizations and large advertising campaigns. It was grassroots operation, encouraging small local actions, cleanup events, and educational efforts, all created by a diversity of people and communities. That idea continues to this day.

Many Pagans, Heathens and polytheists have been participating in the Earth Day experience since its inception. Not only did the environmental movement and the modern Pagan movement in the Unites States come into being around the same time, but many Pagan religious beliefs are deeply Earth-centered, or at the very least, land-driven. This marriage seems logical.

Consequently it is not surprising that, over the years, Pagans, Heathens and polytheists of many backgrounds and traditions have closely worked within the environmental movement, speaking out, hosting actions and even attempting to contribute to the environmental stewardship movement within the global religious sphere. This has become particularly pronounced in recent years.

EcoPagan.com

In 2014, blogger and former editor of Humanistic Paganism John Halstead was inspired to bring people together to create A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment. Critics said that it could not be done. But, less than one year later on Earth Day 2015, the diverse group of internationally-based Pagans, Heathens and polytheists launched that statement. It now has 8,173 signatories from over 80 different countries.

But, looking back, is it all just a bunch of words?

We asked Halstead about the statement and whether he’s seen any tangible results stemming from its creation. While being involved with the process was “transformative” for him personally, Halstead said, “I hope that it has awakened or helped focus an ecological consciousness for those who have signed it, and even for some who haven’t.” But more tangibly speaking, Halstead added, “I have also seen signs that the statement is already helping to increase the credibility of Pagans in the interfaith environmental community, as evidenced by the interest shown in the statement by the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology and other interfaith groups.”

However, Halstead also said that he was disappointed by some in the interfaith community. “I had hoped that the Pagan Statement would be added to the collections of similar statements gathered by Interfaith Power & Light, GreenFaith.org, the Alliance of Religions & Conservation, and others, but so far we have not been successful. Unfortunately, some interfaith environmental groups are still only interested in working with certain religions. I think we Pagans still have work to do to improve our credibility with the interfaith environmental community.”

When asked what most surprised him about the statement project, Halstead noted the number of people who have signed the document over the past year, from well-known figures and organizations to “ordinary individuals” from every continent. The organizing group was hoping to reach 10,000 signatures by April 22, but Halstead said, “Even if we don’t meet that goal by Earth Day, we will soon.”

In conclusion, Halstead added, “Having said all that, [the statement] is just a statement of intention, and without corresponding action on our part, our words will be meaningless. It remains to be seen whether we Pagans will live up to the challenge the Statement sets before us.”

Greening of Religions Symposium

In early April, Cherry Hill Seminary (CHS) took this Earth stewardship conversation one a step further and sponsored a symposium focused on the intersection of religion and the environmental movement. The keynote speaker was Bron Taylor, professor of Religion, Nature and Environmental Ethics at the University of Florida. Taylor is the author of several books, Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future. The event was held from April 1-3 at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Dr. Wendy Griffin, CHS Academic Dean, explained why they picked this particular topic:

In 2015, the American Academy of Religion discussed the need for religions to become involved in the challenges we are facing because of climate change. There is much discussion involving rising seas and their impact on populations in terms of coming displacement, famine and war, but very little on the spiritual crises and needs we will be facing as these devastating events occur. We see climate change as the greatest moral issue to ever face humanity, as it brings into question our relationship with the entire web of life and its future. The greening of religion is a phrase that suggests the growing awareness of religions of our responsibility to and dependence upon nature.

As a seminary, we chose this theme for the symposium because scientists tell us there is a window of opportunity in which we can make some significant changes and prevent the worst of what may come. For this reason, we made the symposium an interfaith event, because it will take all of us together to take the necessary action.

Both Griffin and CHS Executive Director Holli Emore put together this unique Pagan symposium that attracted people from a number of different religions, backgrounds and countries. Griffin said, “For me one of the highlights was getting to meet, spend time with, and learn from people who are passionate and doing something about this issue. From the Salvation Army researcher in Australia to the Pagan scholar from Canada, there were many different approaches to action. All of them are needed. ”

Emore added, “For the first time, CHS hosted a truly interfaith and religiously-diverse event. At the same time, that event had firm footing in a Pagan seminary (with a public university), underscoring the importance of the ideas and values we Pagans can bring to the coming environmental crisis.”

[Public Domain / Pixabay.com]

[Public Domain / Pixabay.com]

As we reported in the past, Pagan attendees spoke highly of the symposium, its content and of its importance, but they also noted the low Pagan turnout. When asked why she thought that was the case, Griffin said, “To be fair, at least half of those attending we knew to be some form of Pagan, but the low response was a real disappointment for me.” Then she added:

Symposiums are intellectual forums, and even though we included a strong activist element, perhaps this appealed more to scholars, whose institutions  are reluctant to pay travel for small conferences. Perhaps the topic of climate change seems too distant (polar bears and Micronesia) or too huge and overwhelming to inspire people to attend. The fact that it was designed to be interfaith may have made it less attractive to some. People tend to argue that Pagans have no money, but we know that Pagans make choices in how to invest their resources and that their demographics are not that different from other people. […] A symposium on climate change doesn’t sound particularly fun or magical. And if people feel overwhelmed or helpless by the issue, it simply won’t attract, however vitally important it may be.

Emore said, “As Pagans, we accept that change is a given, but as humans we are seldom prepared for it, and still less often are we prepared to take action that will serve others experiencing change-related distress.”

Emore and Griffin will be evaluating how and if to move forward with the symposium in the future. More specifically, they are hoping to offer their unique standalone 3-hour environmental leadership workshop at other venues, Pagan or interfaith. In addition, CHS will be publishing the entire symposium’s content “as Cherry Hill Seminary Press, with Dr. Jonathan Leader of the University of South Caroline leading the editorial team.” That book will be available in paper and digital formats through CHS and other online retailers. The specific publication date is not yet known.

But, with only two weeks gone since the symposium ended, CHS has already made strides in the continuation of this dialog. The seminary has just announced the launch of a new Environmental Leadership Certificate program. Griffin explained, “It covers a range of information: human and non-human living systems, the science of denial, advocacy and organizing, earth congregations and nature spirituality, fundraising and nonprofit skills, leadership, and more.” CHS is currently taking applicants and, although it requires college-level work, students “do not have to have any kind of degree to take the classes, just courage and determination to change the world.”

But is it all just words? Did any tangible work come out of the CHS weekend event? Like Halstead, Griffin noted the important connections being made on an interfaith level. For example, she cited that she was able to “link up with the Green Seminary Movement.” She believes that “Pagans can make a unique ‘green contribution’ in Interfaith and in the events these communities sponsor.”

But, like Halstead, she also doesn’t believe that “we are doing enough.” Griffin said:

Many of us recycle, but that is just a very tiny part of what is needed. We need to make the issue of climate change, the causes of it, and the possible remediation actions more visible. Pagans are immensely creative, and we need to use that creativity in bringing the issues to the forefront. We can’t all make movies like “Avatar,” but we can tell stories and make music, create and share rituals, develop video games and children’s play, and a million other things. We need to make the discussion of climate change commonplace. And we need to march and lobby and petition.

That very concern was directly raised at the symposium. Halstead, who was at the CHS event, explained, “At the Greening of Religions conference in South Carolina last month, Bron Taylor asked the Pagans present whether there was a Pagan environmental network in existence.” The answer was no. As a result, a new group was formed. Halstead said that Taylor’s question “prompted Wild Hunt columnist, Manny Tejeda-Moreno, to create a Facebook group by that name (Pagan Environmental Network), which has taken the Pagan Community Statement as a starting point.”

Tejeda-Moreno explained further: “The keynote speaker said that there didn’t seem to be a group for intergroup dialogue […] so, I set up the Facebook group, added the conference attendees and then we started to add others based on suggestions.” This new group is small with the objective to serve as a “clearinghouse, link source and dialogue center for environmental issues and Pagan-centered responses to them.” Tejeda-Moreno added that they already have talked about migrating from Facebook when and if they grow.

As Earth Day approaches, global attention is being diverted to our planetary ecosystem and our role as stewards. Some of that attention is genuine; some of it is talk; some of it is purely commercial. Griffin said, ” Of course it is becoming commercialized. At the same time, it raises awareness. Personally, I’d like to see large public rituals on Earth Day that we design and lead.”

[Public Domain]

Roadside trash found during a cleanup action [Public Domain]

Many Pagans, Heathens and polytheists are doing just that. They are preparing to celebrate or honor Earth Day, as well as the unique role their own spirituality plays within the larger interfaith environmental movement. From local communities to national organizations, actions, events, prayers and rituals are scheduled.

For example, in Michigan, the Ancient Faiths Alliance is sponsoring a “Plant Your Dreams Earth Day Event.” In Virginia, Spiral Grove is hosting a Saturday lake cleanup event, saying: “In addition to keeping the lake areas clean, the experience allows us to focus on the simple and natural education that the lake environment provides to both adults and youth.” And similarly, as we posted Monday, the Jean Williams London Earth Day cleanup action and picnic tradition will go on as it has in past years.

The New York Environmental Pagan Coalition has posted an article listing general New York-based Earth Day events for its membership to attend. In Wisconsin, where Earth Day was founded, Circle Sanctuary will be hosting a full moon circle Friday, and Rev. Selena Fox will offer a “Earth Day Every Day” Sunday Service April 24 at the Open Circle Unitarian Universalists in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

For those who are unable to join a live community event but would like to participate in the conversation, Pagan activist and author Starhawk will be speaking at a free online conference called Earth Day Summit 2016. The event, held Apr. 22, is described as “an unprecedented gathering of esteemed green experts, innovators, activists, scientists, visionaries and spiritual leaders coming together to unite their wisdom for you.” Registration is required.

You can also hear Starhawk speak about her environmental work with Circle Sanctuary’s Rev. Selena Fox on the Circle Talk podcast called “EcoPagan EcoMagic,” which originally aired Tuesday night at 7 p.m. CT. Additionally, Rev. Fox has also offered for free download her “Nature Pathways guide with Environmental themed rites, meditations, actions.”

We welcome all of our readers to list their local, public Earth Day activities and events in the comments below.

Happy Earth Day from The Wild Hunt!

[Public Domain / Pixabay.com]

[Public Domain / Pixabay.com]

Circle Sanctuary logo

Circle Sanctuary logo

Over this past weekend, Circle Sanctuary co-sponsored a “Nature Spirituality & Healing event” along with several organizations belonging to the Iliff School of Theology, based in Denver, Colorado. Those organizations included ILIFF Student Senate, ILIFF Seminarians for Reproductive Justice, Wisdom Traditions Student Group at ILIFF, and the Unitarian Universalist Student Organization.

The free, public healing event, held at the First Universalist Church of Denver, included four hours of discussion and panels pertaining to the interrelationship between self-care and nature. The guest speakers were from various religious and spiritual backgrounds, and included: Rev. Selena Fox, Maeve Wiilde, Michelle Castle, Dr. Larry Graham, Dr. Jason Whitehead, Rev. Todd Strickland.

Rev. Fox also offered to the interfaith crowd a “Healing with Nature Workshop,” which “included ways of working with Nature imagery, Nature rituals, and natural areas for renewal, dispelling stress, and enchanting wellness.” This was the first time that Circle Sanctuary has collaborated with IlIFF.  Rev. Fox was pleased with the outcome, saying that there were about 85 attendees from “many Paths: Christians, Unitarian Universalists, Buddhists, Humanists, & other traditions.”

The event concluded with an outdoor healing ritual led by Rev. Fox. This week’s Circle Sanctuary podcast, called Circle Talk, will feature a report on this event, as well as focusing on “hospital chaplaincy as a career.” Joining Rev. Fox will be “Circle Sanctuary Minister Cern (Tim Staker), a full time Hospital chaplain, and Circle Sanctuary Ministers in Training Michelle Castle of Colorado and Tiffany Andes of Maryland, both Air Force veterans and hospital chaplain students at ILIFF School of Theology.”

The show will air live on Tuesday, Apr. 5 at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT.

Circle Sanctuary & Iliff Nature Healing Event, 2016 [Courtesy Photo]

Circle Sanctuary & Iliff Nature Healing Event, 2016 [Courtesy Photo]

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Cherry Hill SeminaryThis weekend, over in South Carolina, another group of Pagans were attending an event to discuss the environment. But in this case, the event was a weekend-long academic symposium titled, The Greening of Religion, which featured talks, panels and lectures on the intersection of religion and the environment.

This symposium is once every three-year event sponsored by Cherry Hill Seminary in conjunction with the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Attending this year’s event was CHS Academic Dean Dr. Wendy Griffin, CHS Dean of Students Dr. Candace Kant, CHS Executive Director Holli Emore, CHS board member Marla Roberson, ADF’s Rev. Kirk Thomas, blogger and environmentalist John Halstead, Wild Hunt columnist Manny Tejeda-Moreno and others. The keynote speaker was Professor of Religion Bron Taylor.

Halstead said, “I appreciated the contrast of perspectives on the role tradition plays in the greening of religions.” He added, “I was inspired by the creativity and dedication of those who presented at the conference. At the same time, I was sobered by the realization of how much work remains to be done. Bron Taylor spoke about the ‘anemic’ response of religions to the ecological crisis—and he (rightfully, I think) included Paganism in that indictment.”

Thomas said, “How easily everyone meshed together, regardless of religious path, and how obvious it was that we are all on the same page as far as our ultimate goals are concerned.” He called the overall experience “fascinating.”  Agreeing with him was Roberson, who called the event positive and inspiring.

All three noted the good work done by the organizers, but also noted the low turnout. Halstead speculated that it “may have been reflective of a general despair or feeling of hopelessness at the futility of our individual actions in the face of the titanic forces of global industrial capitalism.” Thomas said, “Where was everyone? Why were so few Pagans there? Don’t they believe that there’s a problem in all of our futures?” Despite that disappoint, their overall impression was positive, and they believe there is room and need for this work to continue.

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downloadThe Pagan Pathways Temple, based in Michigan, has embarked on a new adventure to create a Wiccan-based fictional web series. Titled Unveiled, the show will “follow the story of a new Pagan as she explores the community, her faith, and experiences pitfalls both mundane & magickal.”

Located in Madison Heights, the Pagan Pathways Temple is a nonprofit organization with a dedicated temple space. Its “mission is to provide a place of worship and learning for all those who seek enlightenment and universal knowledge; to offer a haven for all faiths and paths which value love, tolerance, and community; and those who seek to empower and enrich our fellow humans. all who seek fellowship and spiritual growth.”

When speaking of the new web series project, temple president and Wiccan priest Stanley Nunn, also known as Nashan, said, “The reason for the show is because, we figured it would be best, since we have the talent and the people and the organization for us as the temple to tell the story of our community from our own perspective.”

The Pagan Pathways Temple has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds needed for production.

In Other News

  • The Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund is accepting applications for 2016. Once provided by the Tempest Smith Foundation, this unique scholarship is open to all Pagan high school seniors, undergraduate or graduate students who maintain a 2.85 or higher GPA and who live in Michigan. Founded in 2014, “The Pagan Scholarship Fund is a small pagan non-profit organization established by the Midwest Witches Ball and Witches of Michigan to help those who wish to further their education with a Technical College, Two Year Entry College, Four Year College, or other training with an established nationally accredited school.” The application and more information are available on its website.
  • Godless Paganism: A Journal for Non-Theistic Pagans is now available for purchase. The book is touted as the “first ever anthology of writing by and about non-theistic Pagans. The goal of the anthology is to educate others in the Pagan community about both the diversity and the depth of non-theistic Pagan practice.” Edited by John Halstead with a foreword by Marc Green, the journal contains 420 pages exploring the many forms on non-theistic Pagan practice, including “a variety of theological orientations” such as “humanists, naturalists, Atheopagans, animists, pantheists, Gaians, and more.” Godless Paganism is available in both eBook and paperback forms via Lulu.com and through the Humanstic Paganism blog.
  • Is the Prairie Land Music Festival and Campout cancelled? There has been a rumor going around that Prairie Land organizers have cancelled their June weekend Pagan festival. Summer 2016 will mark the Eastern Iowa festival’s debut and, according to the website, the scheduled festivities will include performances by Celia, Mama Gina, Cheshire Moon, Jonny Lipford, Wax Chaotic, Anji Kat, Brian Henke, Ryan O’Rien, and IrishJamBand. Organizer Lynn Williams has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help fund the event and is currently seeking more volunteers, but he did say that rumors are false and the event will be held.
  • Demeter Press has placed a call for submissions for a new “edited collection entitled Pagan, Goddess, Mother. Edited by Sarah Whedon and Nané Jordan, the collection’s purpose “is to call categories of Pagan and Goddess mothering into focus, to highlight philosophies and experiences of mothers in these various movements and traditions, and to generate new ways of imagining and enacting motherhood.” Abstracts are due Sept 1. More information and detailed requirements are available on the Demeter Press website, along with a number of other their calls for submissions.
  • The Temple of Witchcraft has opened registration for its 2016-2017 online class season, including all Witchcraft I–IV sessions. Classes are “offered in cooperation with the Temple of Witchcraft’s Sagittarius ministry” and include “workshops for the education of clergy and practitioners of all types.” The new sessions are given online only and will begin in fall 2016 and end fall 2017. All applicants must be 18 years or over.
  • And for something different, Polytheist.com writer Segomâros Widugeni shares an “outline for a possible reconstructed Gaulish ritual system, adapted to modern circumstances.” Widugeni is a leader in the Gaulish Polytheism community and has been sharing his experience and his practice regularly on the site.

That’s all for now. Have a great day!

patrickRev. Patrick McCollum arrived in New York City to attend the United Nations 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. This annual conference begins today, Mar. 14, and lasts through Mar. 24. The 2016 theme is “women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development […] ending violence against women and girls.” According to the commission, there are “8,100 NGO representatives registered” and “a record 208 events scheduled […] Alongside this, NGOs will organize 450 parallel events in the vicinity of the UN.”

One of the events happening alongside the conference is the presentation of the Ralph Johnson Bunche Medal for Peace. Rev. McCollum as well as Rev. Dean James Morton, former Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, will be receiving this honor for their work promoting international peace. The special public gala is being held Mar. 14, beginning at 7 p.m. in New York City at the InterChurch Center.

Rev. McCollum said that he was thankful to “the many friends and colleagues who have supported and encouraged [his] work for World Peace over the years.” Now he asks that people join him in raising “the status of women” and creating a world that “we can be proud of.”

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Portals-is-HereMusicians Sharon Knight and Winter have released the long-awaited Portals album. The music project was launched last year and described as an “otherworldly carnival, traveling in and out of mystery, magic, the unexplained. You feel the hair raise on the back of your neck as a motley band of skillful and possibly dangerous musicians brandish their bows, their voices, their tambourines, and open portals to the realms of the fantastical!”

In February 2015, Knight and Winter began a fundraising campaign that quickly raised a staggering $22,000 toward the completion of the project. One year later, Portals was released.

The album includes twelve songs “featuring guest performances by SJ Tucker, Betsy Tinney, Alexander James Adams (Tricky Pixie), Nathaniel Johnstone (Abney Park), Heather Dale, Wendy Rule, Sonja Drakulich ( Faun, Stellamara), and several more” It can be purchased through bandcamp in digital form or as a compact disc including a full-color lyric book.

Knight and Winter have also produced and released a video for the Portals song Porcelain Princess. The video is embedded below.

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Sacred-space-banner-pic-500x105

The Sacred Space Conference 2016 is now over and attendees have been singing its praises. Featured presenter Ivo Dominguez Jr. told The Wild Hunt, “It was excellent and smoothly run.” And his comment was echoed over and over again on the public Sacred Space Facebook page.

After calling Sacred Space “one of the smoothest, more stimulating and drama-free gatherings around,” one attendee relayed this anecdote: “Many of us ran into a guy that just happened to be at the hotel, was Pagan, and was surprised to find a conference going on. He popped into several things as he could. He commented on how nonjudgmental, accepting and positive the vibe was – and he will be back next year – on purpose next time.”

Reviewing the weekend, Robert Schreiwer said, “I did one workshop on Braucherei in the Urglaawe Context and also one ritual to Ewicher Yeeger. There was a powerful discussion on death and funerals run by the Blue Star folks and that has already led to the creation of a network of people from several traditions.” He also noted that his own organization founded a new Urglaawe freehold, or kindred without a formal oath, this weekend during the Sacred Space event.

Organizer Gwendolyn Reece said, “I am really grateful to all of our teachers for sharing their talent, their ritual skills, and their inspiration with us, especially our featured teachers: Ian Corrigan, Ivo Dominguez Jr., and Ellen Lorenzi-Prince.”

Reece and the other Sacred Space organizers will be taking a short, much-needed break and, then, they begin plans for next year’s 2017 event. Reece said, “From my perspective [this year’s event] went really, really well. I think the best objective indication is that last year we had 11 people pre-register at the conference and this year we had 45.”

In Other News:

  • As the winter conference season winds down, festival season begins. On Mar. 24, Equinox in the Oaks kicks off its second annual event, held on private campgrounds in Pierson, Florida. The four-day outdoor festival hosts workshops, rituals and vendors. Organizers call it a “magical immersion” experience. Registration is now open.
  • Cherry Hill Seminary’s “The Greening of Religions” symposium and leadership training conference is also on the horizon. To be held the first weekend of April, the CHS conference “is a two and a half day event in Columbia, South Carolina, held at the University of South Carolina.” It brings people together to discuss the “the link between religion and climate change.” The keynote speaker is Bron Taylor, Ph.D., and the theme is “Hope in the Eye of the Storm.”
  • Burning Brigid Media (BBM), a Pagan-run production company based in Chicago, has announced the launch of Synesthesia Theatre, an “Audio Drama Anthology Podcast.” The first serial will be “an adaption of the steampunk western novel Iron Horses Can’t Be Broken by Michael Coorlim.” BBM founders describe Synthesia Theatre as the “cinema of the mind, dedicated to telling engaging stories through well-crafted writing, performances, and sound effects to evoke a cinematic experience in the mind’s eye.” The new serial and future projects can be found through through iTunes, Libsyn RSS, and Burning Brigid Media’s website.
  • Moon Books publishing has released a title called Whispers from the Earth by shamanic healer Taz Thornton. It is described as containing, “ancient teaching stories from the earth, together with meditations and step-by-step guides to sourcing your own tales from the spirits of the ancestors.” The Bad Witch’s Blog published a short review of the book and an interview with Thornton, who explains her story and how the book came into existence. She said, “Whispers from the Earth came about when I was sitting doing some admin work at my PC one day and a voice I recognised as one of my ancestor spirits came through. I was busy, so tried to dismiss it, but the voice was very insistent. ‘The stories you’ve been recording,’ it said, ‘send them to a publisher.’ “
  • Paganicon is coming this week to Minneapolis! And, if you are going, don’t forget to stop by The Wild Hunt social on Mar. 18, and the Meet The Wild Hunt panel on Mar. 19.

open_halls_squareThe Open Halls Project has announced that “the Department of Defense has requested, reviewed and accepted [its] Heathen Resource Guide for Chaplains.” For over seven years, the Open Halls Project, headed by Josh and Cat Heath, has been working diligently to have Asatru and Heathen added to the U.S. Army’s religious preference list.

During that process, as Josh Heath explained, his working group was asked to “produce a document explaining the basics of Heathenry.” Heath said, “We produced a document for him modeled on the Army Chaplain’s Handbook excerpt for Wicca. This basic framework assisted us in developing information that was generally applicable to the largest amount of Heathens possible.”

The new guide will educate Army Chaplains and help them better assist Heathens in military. The guide, and more details on its creation, are fully documented on the Norse Mythology Blog. As for the quest to have the two terms added to the preference list, Heath has reportedly said that the process is moving forward, and that there is now a real push to include both Heathen and Asatru. However, no time line has been made available as to when that will actually happen.

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David-Bowie-in-Labyrinth

It was announced this morning that music legend and actor David Bowie had died from cancer at the age of 69. Born in London in 1947, Bowie is said to have shown an interest in music from a very early age, playing the saxophone at 13. His first music hit was “Space Oddity” in 1969, and his acting ability was first really showcased in his album Ziggy Stardust (1972).

Over the years, Bowie continued to draw audiences and attract loyal fans with both is engaging work and eclectic nature. Since 1969 he has recorded 26 albums and has appeared in a 24 films, and countless shorts and TV shows. He is most known for his role as Jareth the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s cult classic Labyrinth (1986).

Due to a unique performance style that seemed well-suited to science fiction and fantasy, Bowie was often asked about his religious and spiritual beliefs. After the release of his album Heathen (2002), Bowie was interviewed by Beliefnetand said “Questioning my spiritual life has always been germane to what I was writing. Always. It’s because I’m not quite an atheist and it worries me.” Then in 2004, he told Ellen DeGeneres, “I was young, fancy free and Tibetan Buddhism appealed to me at that time. I thought, ‘There’s salvation.’ It didn’t really work. Then I went through Nietzsche, Satanism, Christianity… pottery, and ended up singing. It’s been a long road.”  And that it has.

The announcement of Bowie’s death was posted publicly to Facebook. It said that he died peacefully surrounded by family on January 10 after 18 month battle with cancer. What is remembered, lives.

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salem

In an update to a story we first reported in August, Wiccan Priest Richard Watson pleaded not guilty to charges of heroin trafficking. The latest arraignment was held on Jan. 5 at the Salem Superior Court.

Watson was arrested on Aug. 7, 2015, during a sting operation which led police to his home. There they found a small amount of heroin. Watson denied the charges and cooperated with police. After news of the arrest broke, Watson’s religious community was very 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.”

Watson is currently out on $10,000 bail, which was reportedly posted after his original arraignment in August. He is due back in court, along with the other man arrested in connection with this case, on Feb. 17.

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Solstice Fire at Pagan Spirit Gathering

In an article titled “24 Festivals And Retreats To Revitalize Your Soul In 2016,” The Huffington Post Religion included four popular dedicated Pagan festivals. These include Witchcamp in both Wisconsin and California, Summerland Spirit Festival and Pagan Spirit Gathering. The article begins, “As the new year stretches out before us, it’s the perfect time to start setting intentions. Among them should be a renewed commitment to self-expression and healing — and there’s no better way to do that than in a community of like-minded souls.”

Each of the 24 festivals is featured with a photo and a short descriptive blurb. Speaking about Summerland and PSG, one commenter said, “For me, the beauty of these festivals is the tolerance. No one believes the same thing and that is okay. No one wants to change you. You can be gay, dress outside of your ‘normal’ gender, wear fairy wings or nothing at all and no one will judge you. They will embrace you and your right to free expression.”

Of the other 21 festivals listed, some may be very familiar to Pagans and Heathens, and others not. These include events like Burning Man, Spiritweavers Gathering, Wanderlust, ILLUMINATE film festival, Shakti Fest at Joshua Tree and more. Check out the list before making your spring and summer festival plans this year.

In Other News

  • Cherry Hill Seminary has announced the programming for the upcoming international conference “The Greening of Religions.” The event, held in conjunction with and at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, attracts “activists, sociologists, bioethicists, anthropologists, seminarians, clergy, planners, philosophers, scholars and students from across the continent and beyond.” This year’s theme is “Hope in the Eye of the Storm,” and the keynote speaker is Bron Taylor, who “brings an interdisciplinary approach which blends religious studies, activism and the application of nature’s lessons to a rapidly-shifting societal landscape.” More information and registration details are on the CHS site. The event will be held in Columbia, S.C. from April 1-3.
  • Prairie Land Pagan Radio has taken some big strides recently. On Jan 4, broadcasters announced that the station will be on air 24/7, which will includes music, interviews and talk. In addition, they are also currently organizing a 2016 Prairie Land Music Festival and Campout in June. This brand new event will be held at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Iowa City, IA and already has some well-known, national Pagan musicians scheduled to perform, including Celia and Mama Gina. More information, including pricing, is on the website.
  • The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is now seeking submissions for two new devotional anthologies. One,honoring Hestia, which will be titled First and Last: Devotional for Hestia. The announcement reads, “[Hestia] is the hearth of the Hellenic home, the keeper of the sacred flame of the gods, guardian of hospitality, and keeper of oaths.” A wide variety of submissions are being accepted including essays, rituals, recipes, art and poetry. For the other, which is entitled is entitled Dauntless: A Devotional for Ares and Mars, “The editor is interested in a variety of material, including but not limited to: prayers, rituals, hymns, essays, visual artwork, short stories, plays, recipes, and new translations of ancient and public domain works.”  The deadline for both is June 1. Contact the publisher directly for more information.
  • The Grey Mare on the Hill anthology is now available for purchase. Last February we reported that Grey Mare Books, an independent publishing imprint in the U.K, was looking for writters to help with their project. Titled “The Grey Mare on the Hill,” this project was inspired by the work of the Brython group that “has offered a number of writings on its blog including liturgical material, ritual practices and modern myths.” The resulting anthology, edited by Lee Davies, includes 120 pages of essays, poetry and devotionals from “devotees of the Great Goddess of the Land, the Mare Goddess, the Giver of Sovereignty.” It is available through Lulu.
  • Cró Dreoilín, a Colorado-based Celtic Polytheist organization, will be holding its annual Paths and Traditions Fair this coming weekend. Organizers Kelley Forbes and Chris Redmond describe the event as a an open house “designed exclusively to provide a chance to meet and chat with representatives of various Polytheist and Pagan paths, groups, and traditions, for those who are curious or seeking.” They noted that this year will be the biggest fair yet with over 30 groups already scheduled to attend. Paths and Traditions will be held Jan. 16 at the Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colorado. It is co-hosted by the local CUUPs chapter.

admin-ajaxThe case against musician Kenny Klein, who is accused of having child pornography on his computer, has been dragging on in New Orleans since March, 2014. One snag, which may hold up the wheels of justice, is the fact that Klein is now suing his ex-wife Tzipora Katz, for defamation of character.

The basis of Klein’s complaint is a 1997 consent order in the pair’s custody case, under which Katz “agrees she will not discuss any issues relating to any allegations of sexual abuse by Kenneth Klein with any parties other than her immediate family and mental health professionals who are treating members of her immediate family.” In return, Klein withdrew his “application for custody and visitation” of their child. That order had no listed expiration date.

Katz declined comment, saying that she was unable to speak about the current situation. The case against Katz has been adjourned while her attorney works on additional papers to support her motion to dismiss; her daughter is asking for help with legal fees to pay that attorney. Klein’s case in New Orleans is on the docket again for December 4.

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Cherry Hill Seminary

This week, Cherry Hill Seminary released a statement about its position and practices in response to a petition request to end their ties with certain instructors, who have been publicly accused of transphobia. The Change.org petition, created by Melissa Murry, is called “A Transphobic Elder is No Elder of Mine.” It was born out of and directly addresses recent online debates and tension over specific statements and actions made concerning the acceptance of transgender Pagans.

Cherry Hill Seminary responded the same day with the statement “Cherry Hill Seminary Calls For Academic Freedom, Respect and Civility.” In it, CHS responds directly saying, “Recently, one of our faculty members signed a petition that some people found hurtful and offensive.  Cherry Hill Seminary has been pressured to terminate this faculty member.” And then it goes on to remark that the community does not understand its role in high education, but welcomes open dialog on the “issues which might otherwise divide us.”

The response to CHS’ statement has been mixed with some people supporting its stance, and others withdrawing their support. The debate is on going and may continue to punctuate online conversations into the near future.

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Copy+of+PCM_ClimateRIbbon_MichaelPremo-86

In 2014, at the People’s Climate March, a project was born called “The Climate Ribbon” project. It is “an arts ritual to grieve what we each stand to lose to Climate Chaos, and affirm our solidarity as we unite to fight against it.” People selects a ribbon and, on it, write what they most value in life; what propels them  to protect our ecosystem and our future livelihood? After doing so, the ribbon is tied on a community board or a frame.

Climate Ribbon Project organizers were at the recent Parliament of the World’s Religions. Since that time, Circle Sanctuary members have partnered with the organization. Rev Selena Fox said, “[We] are among the partners with this global project and are among those contributing ribbons to this EcoArt project that will be part of the international Climate March taking place in Paris on November 29, 2015 at the start of the UN COP21 Climate Conference.”

Unfortunately, after the Paris attacks, the French government cancelled the 2015 Climate March due to safety concerns. The event would have brought an estimated 200,000 people into the city and out into the streets. While the cancellation may be disappointing, climate march organizers have said that there still are over 100 local events around the world scheduled for Nov. 29. And, one of those events is the Paris EcoArt installation by the Climate Ribbon Project. Organizers wrote, “The Climate Ribbon will be there to create ritual space to grieve and mourn what we have lost and are losing to climate change, and commit to courageous action, together.” The installations will be placed all over the city.

Rev. Fox said, “Ribbons we have sent to the project were created by Pagans at events at Circle Sanctuary land, including our Samhain Full Moon Circle, and at Hallowed Homecoming Samhain Retreat in Virginia the first weekend in November.” Anyone is able to participate and partner with the Climate Ribbon Project. You can send in ribbons through the mail or digitally.

In Other News

  • Druid Thaum Gordon has won his bid for re-election as Supervisor for Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District in Maine. As we reported earlier this month, Gordon has been serving in the position since 2011, and many people know that he is Pagan. Gordon believes that Conservation District positions are a great first step to getting involved in public office. He added, “Likewise, there are thousands of water utility districts, sewer districts, parks commissions, and other special-purpose units of government that need board members. These can be stepping stones to more competitive county or municipal elections.”
  • The Legacy of Tyr, a Virginia based Asatru group for military and veteran Heathens, is pushing a hashtag campaign #IAmAsatru and #IAmHeathen. The group came up with this social media campaign after the recent arrest of three white supremacists claiming to be Asatruar. Founder Carrie L. Pierce explains, “We are encouraging people to include these hashtags when posting about their everyday lives with photos and statuses on social media platforms. We do things like serve in the military, coach little league, and do volunteer work just like regular every day people. If the public sees that we are regular people with careers, families, hobbies, etc.the image that has been painted about us might change in some aspect.
  • For those following the Save Deirdre and Lily battle in New York state, Druid Cindy McGinley recently announced that the court ruled in favor of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The judge dismissed her petition. As we reported in July, the DEC had demanded that McGinley’s two deer be put death. McGinley, a trained wildlife rehabilitator, refused, taking her story to the courts. This week, she lost the legal battle. However, she has since said that the two deer will not die and that she will find a way to save them.
  • A new documentary is available titled Heksen in Holland (or Witches in Holland.).The film explores Wicca in the Netherlands through the group Silver Circle, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary. The documentary and corresponding book include interviews with Silver Circle members Morgana Sythgrove, Lady Bara, Joke and Ko Lankester, and Jana. Filmmakers also interviewed Rufus and Melissa Harrington, and Geraldine Beskin from the Atlantis Bookshop in London.  There is a memorial chapter to Merlin Sythgove, including .”an old audio fragment from the Charge of the Goddess in Dutch, spoken by Merlin and Jana.” The 90 minute documentary is currently only available in Dutch through Silver Circle’s site, but they soon will be releasing a copy with English subtitles.

  • For fans of Mark Ryan,  the actor and author is holding an online launch party for the U.S. edition of his biography Hold Fast. Ryan is known for his role as Nasir in the television series Robin of Sherwood, for his work in the Transformers franchise, and most recently for his role as Mr. Gates in the Starz series Black Sails. Ryan also is the creator of the popular Greenwood Tarot and The Wildwood Tarot. The online launch party process, which includes prizes, is explained on the event Facebook page. He will be there live answering questions about the book and its content. The event begins at 3 p.m EST/2 p.m. CST.

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  • Lastly, a note from The Wild Hunt editor’s desk: The delivery of all fall funding campaign perks is underway. It takes some time to coordinate and reconcile the large amount data. All online changes to links and listings will begin in December. Thank you again to everyone who came out to support our work. If you have any questions, contact us directly.

 

UPDATE: The original report on Kenny Klein included some speculative information that was found to be problematic with regards to the legal case. The Wild Hunt did not intend any harm, has removed this data, and has apologized to the parties concerned. 

[Pagan Community Notes is a weekly feature that highlights short stories and notes originating from within or affecting our collective communities. If you like seeing this dedicated news every Monday, consider donating to our Wild Hunt Fall Fund Drive today. These types of articles take time, research and money to produce. It is you that makes it all possible! Your donations go directly back to getting the important news out there. Donate today and help keep The Wild Hunt going for another year. Thank You.]

lightning2015bannerLightning Across the Plains (LATP), an annual fall Heathen event, was cancelled after 6 successful years. The announcement read, “LATP 2014 was attended by 280 heathens, and we had every indication that LATP 2015 would have been at least as successful as last year, if not more so. But, the potential success of an event is not always the measure of whether it makes sense to go forward with it.”

Lightning Across the Plains, held in Missouri, was first staged in September 2009 by Jotan’s Bane Kindred. It was then held every year at that same time, attracting over 200 people predominantly from around the central United States. Organizers called it the “largest Heathen event in North America.”

In their recent announcement, members of Jotan’s Bane Kindred stated that they have now chosen to redirect their energy into their family life, their friends and their local Heathen communities. They go on to say that the event, while mostly attended by good-spirited people, was often visited by those who proved “dishonorable” adding, “The decision to cancel LATP this year reflects our unwillingness to throw an amazing regional gathering that is enjoyed by some that are false-friends.” 

Jotan’s Bane Kindred did express its regrets, saying that the decision was difficult and that “LATP will have a lasting legacy.” According to the site all registration money has been returned and that the organizers look forward to seeing their LATP friends at other events throughout the year.

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hearthand-150x150As we reported last weekend, Harbin Hot Springs, a retreat center nestled on 5,000 acres of land in California, was destroyed by the Valley Fire. Since our article was published, there have been continued efforts to help the people of Harbin, and the surrounding area, rebuild and recover. The region was declared a disaster area, which has now qualified it for federal disaster relief funds.

On Sept 12, Harbin’s 285 residents and staff had to evacuate quickly, leaving behind personal belongings and, in some cases, animals. Many went to a nearby Red Cross shelter. Now there is a concerted effort by the local community to assist these people get back to their sacred land. A Staff Relief Fund has been set up to help those people as they recover. There is also a Facebook group that is acting as a central donation and aid center for the affected area. The public group contains stories and memories, as well as suggesting ways to help. At this time, the center is still closed until further noticed.

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Thorn at UEAIt was announced last week that Barbara Doyle, more commonly known as Thorn, had crossed over. Doyle was an active and well-known elder in the Texas magical community.

She was born March 28, 1942 in Rye, New York. She raised four children. In the mid 1980s, as a single mother, she moved herself and her two daughters to Texas, where she began her 30 year career as technical writer. At the same time, she began her journey into Wicca. She first studied with an Isian High Priestess, receiving her third degree. Then, she began studying McFarland Dianic Wicca and eventually founded the group Diana’s Retreat.

In 1994, Doyle and her coven helped create the Covenant of the Goddess’ Texas Local Council (TXLC), which is still active today. Over the years she continued to serve that organization on a local and national level. Doyle also served on the Council of Magickal Arts and the McFarland Dianic Council. Friend and fellow TXLC member Faelind remembered, “Under [Thorn’s] mentorship and tutelage, many of us learned to plan, organize, fund, and market National events like United Earth Assembly festivals and Grand Council Merry Meets, gaining extraordinary experience and serving the community. She was a strong force in the Mighty Texas Local Council and was responsible for recruiting many of the member covens…”

Outside of Pagan world, Doyle was a strong advocate for women’s rights. She held a 28-year membership in the American Business Women’s Association and was honored many times. In fact, at the time of her death, Doyle was serving as ABWA’s co-chair VP of Finance. In addition she was also the president of the League of Women Voters of Irving and was recently honored by Irving’s first female mayor at a city council meeting.

Although her death came as a surprise, Doyle died peacefully in her sleep. She will be missed by her local community, her extended spiritual community, and all those who knew her and learned from her. What is remembered, lives!

In Other News:

  • For those readers attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions in October, it was recently announced that the Dalai Lama will not be speaking at the event. According to a CNN report, the Dalai Lama checked into a Minnesota Mayo Clinic for evaluation and cancelled all of his October engagements. The Parliament’s Board released the following, “We have heard from the Office of the Dalai Lama about his present health and remain in heartfelt prayer for his care and comfort.” Organizers are now considering how to honor the Dalai Lama in place of his scheduled appearance. They will share more as they have it.
  • Local UK papers are all a-buzz about the return of Witchfest International to Croydon’s Fairfield Hills. The yearly event is hosted by the Children of Artemis (COA) and attracts, according to the report, close to 3500 people. This year there will be six talks and workshops every hour. There will also be live music, DJs and drumming. The 2015 speakers include, “author Kate West, academic Professor Ronald Hutton, TV medium and astrologer David Wells and former president The Pagan Federation Pete Jennings.” For more information, Witchfest does have its own website filled with details about the Nov festival as well as two other upcoming 2016 COA events.
  • Cherry Hill Seminary is hosting its yearly Fall Scholarship Drive. All contributions help CHS balance its budget and “offer several scholarships for January-April courses, including both Insights short courses and full-semester graduate courses.” Information for donating is on the CHS website.
  • If you liked reading part one of Dr. Karl Seigfried’s interview with Jennifer Snook, he has published the second part. This segment of the their conversation focused on ethnicity, nationality and race and also includes a bonus graphic based on Snook’s own research.
  • Over at Polytheist.com, writer  continues “his series introducing us to the gods of Gaulish polytheist religion.” Widugeni is a “leader in Gaulish Polytheism, having been practicing for almost two decades, and in other related communities for more than 30 years.” He began this specific series back in April with a post containing a long sacred poem and then a second featuring general information. Widugeni has followed that up with regular articles on individual gods. This week he features Grannus. Check back frequently as Widugeni is only half done with the project.

And later this week at The Wild Hunt….

We look at the Pope’s visit to the U.S. We will be featuring reactions and thoughts from Pagan, Heathen and Polytheists living around the world.

That is it for now. Have a great day! And don’t forget to visit the Wild Hunt Fund Drive site! 

Covenant of the GoddessOver the past weekend, Covenant of the Goddess held its 40 year anniversary MerryMeet event in Ontario, California. The weekend included its annual two-day Grand Council, during which the consensus-based organization conducted its internal business including the election of officers.

After a tumultuous and uncomfortable beginning to 2015, the organization did come back to internally address what had happened. A break-out group was asked to review and present the organization’s revised social justice statement and make further recommendations. The result of the meeting was the creation of a permanent internal Social Justice committee to address the problems of racial inequity and systemic racism. Of this news, incoming First Officer Yvonne Conway-Williams said, “I think CoG is taking earnest effort at looking towards the future and drawing a line in the sand about who we are and what we stand for.” Conway-Williams is also a member of the new committee and was instrumental in the revising of the statement. More information on these developments will eventually be posted on CoG’s media sites.

The 40 year old organization is one of the oldest Pagan organizations in the country, and that was the theme of this year’s event. Looking toward the future, long-time member Amber K said, “I am fairly hopeful because representatives here seem to embrace change. They are cautious and careful but not stuck in methods of the past which would allow us to evolve and stay relevant.” Covenant of the Goddess will begin its 41st year on Samhain with new officers:  Co First Officers Yvonne Conway-Williams and Jack Prewett, Second Officer Glenn Turner, Co-Publication Officers Stachia Ravensdottir and Zenah Smith, Public Information Officer Greg Harder, Membership Officer Rachael Watcher, Communications Officer Rev. Peter Hertzberg.

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Cherry Hill Seminary

In April 2016, Cherry Hill Seminary (CHS) will be hosting a new three day conference in conjunction with The University of South Carolina. The symposium and environmental leadership training will be centered around the theme and title, “Greening of Religions: Hope in the Eye of the Storms.” The keynote speaker is University of Florida Professor Bron Taylor.

CHS Academic Dean Wendy Griffin said, “Laurie Zoloth, bioethicist and president of the American Academy of Religion, has called climate change the greatest moral issue of our time.  Increasingly, voices from a variety of religious and spiritual traditions are bringing the link between religion and climate change to national and international notice, from the Green Seminary Movement, to the expected Papal encyclical, to conferences ranging from the purely academic to those like the World Parliament of Religions, and to the growing emphasis on environmental justice.”

CHS is now calling for “proposals from a broad understanding of religion, including the Abrahamic, the Dharmic, the contemporary Pagan and the Earth-based, as well as from diverse methodologies: theoretical and practical, qualitative and quantitative, normative and descriptive.” The due date for abstract submission is September 30, 2015. The three day event runs from April 1-4, 2016 and will be held on the University of South Carolina campus in Columbia.

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Rhodes-1-500x308The Supreme Council of the Greek National (YSEE), an umbrella group working to restore the traditional polytheistic religions of Greece. was dealt a blow in its quest to gain state recognition as a religious community. On Aug. 1, a spokesperson said, “Once again, the Greek State has shown that it has yet to get rid of its byzantine and medieval whims and, being unable to respect with dignity its own laws (in this case Act no. 4301/2014). It has rejected by the intermediation of its court of First Instance the motion signed by hundreds of Ethnikoi Hellenes to obtain recognition as a statutory corporation of religious character for their ancestral, indigenous and historically continuous to our day despite cruel persecutions by Christianity Hellenic Ethnic Religion.”

Founded in 1997, YSEE is currently registered as a non-profit organization and, as explained on its website, has been on the front lines in the on-going battle for religious community recognition. Such a recognition would allow them to do things like buy property for the community to use. Its work has included “14 years of activity in the (modern) Greek reality with more than 230 interventions (letters and press releases) and many protests for the protection of the Hellenic tradition, human rights and religious tolerance, 300 seminars, tactical celebration of the ancient festivals, public rituals and educational events.”

In Other News:

  • We are pleased to announced that Polytheist blogger Heathen Chinese will be joining The Wild Hunt as a monthly columnist starting this Saturday. His first work will be a review of the Many Gods West conference that wrapped up two weeks ago. In the meantime, he has posted a link list that includes a number of other reviews and discussions sparked by the new Polytheist conference. As for Heathen Chinese’s new Wild Hunt column, it is scheduled to be published regularly on the 3rd Saturday of each month.
  • The upcoming Haxan film festival has added another day to its roster. Organizers will be hosting a “ritual blessing of the birth of the HÄXÄN Festival” Thursday, Aug. 27 at E.M. Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore. Along with film screenings, the festival also includes a Friday night costume dance party.  As noted on its site, “HÄXÄN Festival is a Bay Area film festival focusing on local filmmakers exploring psychic and mystic connections through experiments in video and film. Celebrating witchcraft and the Personal Occult.”
  • Pagan writer and blogger Laura LaVoie was just voted “Childfree Woman of the Year” and featured on the website “International Child Free Day.” As described on the site, LaVoie has been a leading advocate for a woman’s right to NOT have children. She is one of the organizers for The NotMom Summit, and blogs regularly at NotMom.com. The write-up offers more details on LaVoie’s work with the NotMom movement, as well as featuring her efforts advocating for Tiny Houses. Congratulations to Laura LaVoie!

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  • A new Heathen podcast is now fully off the ground. Beginning in July, “Heathen Talk” has been airing “live every Wednesday at 7pm Pacific/10 Eastern and post new podcasts every Sunday!” The hosts said, “Heathen Talk was launched by four diverse Heathens who met on Reddit’s /r/Asatru community. This live podcast hosts weekly discussions on topics that are important to modern heathenry, focusing on representing the diverse points of view in the community. [Hosts] Josh, Lauren and Thorin, and producer Marc have a combined fifty years of experience within heathenry.” You can catch the new show through Heathen Talk’s website or its Facebook page.
  • A recent article in Vice.com describes how Witchcraft is an empowering life choice for many “queer and trans people.” The article reads, “Witchcraft is seeing a resurgence among queer-identified young people seeking a powerful identity that celebrates the freedom to choose who you are.” Those witches interviewed include Colby Gaudet, Jared Russell, Dakota Hendrix, and Mey Rude. In the article, Rude was quoted as saying, “There is no one way to be a witch … It’s a really freeing identity.”
  • Nathalie Andrews, owner and operator of Girl and Cat Publishing, is looking for author submissions. As noted on the Bad Witch’s Blog, Andrews is a Pagan, whose “aim is to change the way authors look at non-traditional publishing.” She offers workshops and classes on the subject. Based in the U.K., Andrews describes Girl and Cat Publishing as “not a vanity press but more a self-publishing service.” She can be contacted through her website.

That’s it for now! Have a great day.

Alaska Sockeye Wildfire 2015

Alaska Sockeye Wildfire 2015

On Sunday, June 13, a wildfire exploded in Willow, Alaska, about 80 miles north of Anchorage. According to reports, the wildfire went from covering 2 acres to 6,500 acres within a matter of hours. Gov. Bill Walker has declared the region a “disaster area,” with an estimated 1700 people displaced from their now-destroyed homes. Along with residents, firefighters have had to rescue hundreds of sled dogs, as wells as goats, sheep, horses and many other local animals.

Making its home in Willow and now nestled within that devastated region is the Alaska Pagan Community Center (PCC). Fondly called “The Land,” the PCC is a “non-profit Nature Sanctuary and Earth Retreat Center … where people can come out to … celebrate the changing of the seasons and create a relationship with others and the earth that sustains us.” It was purchased just over 5 years ago and has served the local Pagan community ever since.

The property was near the epicenter of the fire. As described in a member’s blog post, the group’s “Fire Tribe” (safety and magic crews) was making final preparations for Solstice celebrations when the fire broke. She noted that those members were lucky to escape because they were “landlocked behind the ignition point.” Officials believe the conflagration was started by fireworks set off by The Land’s neighboring residents.

At this point, Firefighters have contained the blaze to about 53%, saying it has destroyed up to 7,264 acres. Although many residents were allowed to return to the evacuated regions, there have been lightening strikes setting off new fires. PCC director and founder Anthony Bailey believes that most of the PCC property is destroyed, and has started a crowd funding campaign to help the center rebuild. We will have more on this story after the group assesses the full extent of the damage.

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Christopher Blackwell

Christopher Blackwell, editor of Alternative Religion Education Network’s ACTION magazine, has announced his retirement. ACTION has been digitally published on every sabbat for 11 years. We interviewed Blackwell about his work and the history of ACTION in January. At the time, he said, “ACTION will last only as long as I and Bill care keep it going. I had hoped to have more helpers but that never happened. I am coming to the end of my life.” He also emphasized that he was very satisfied with what he had accomplished with the journal.

In the recently released Litha issue, Blackwell wrote, “So there comes a time to bring things to an end while they can be ended well. Bill and I mutually decided to make this the last issue. I thank all the readers, and all those interviewed, for making this possible. It has been quite a learning experience for me. I hope you have all enjoyed your part of it as well … I have a new project to get a started.” What that project is, he suggested “model trains,” but there may be other adventures on the horizon.

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Emanuel African Methodist Church, Charleston, SC

Emanuel African Methodist Church [Credit: S. Means / Wikipedia]

After the tragic murder of 9 people in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in Charleston, the city has reportedly come together in support not only of the victims families, but also in confronting racism, and enacting real social change. The local Charleston-based Pagan community and other Pagans in the region were not absent from this call-to-action.

Within hours of the news hitting the airwaves, Holli Emore, director of Cherry Hill Seminary, sent out this statement, “We are concerned by the culture of violence which has shattered the peace of a sacred space. Our prayers for healing go out to the people of Emanuel who have lost a caring pastor, the constituents of District 45 who lost a powerful advocate for justice, and the people of Charleston, who are suffering this violation of their beautiful and peaceful city.” Cherry Hill Seminary is based in South Carolina.

Emore is also an active member of the Interfaith Partners of South Carolina and has worked with members of Emanuel AME. That group said, “As people of many faiths who are widely-diverse not only spiritually, but also ethnically, socioeconomically and culturally, we stand in solidarity today with Emanuel AME and its members and community and pray for peace with justice.” And that is the universal feeling held within the city at this point, which has been noted by a number of news reports.

The Wild Hunt is currently working with a group of South Carolina Pagans, including one who grew up in the AME church. With their help, we will share a local perspective on the current situation, the protests, the conversations and the grief. We will have that full story later in the week. Until then, there is a call is to remember the names of victims. We list them here: Cynthia Hurd, Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Susie Jackson, Daniel Simmons Sr and Myra Thompson. What is remembered, lives.

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Other stories coming up this week at The Wild Hunt: Etsy Changes its Sellers Policy and Pagan Spirit Gathering Recovers: the Flooding and the Aftermath.

Other News:

  • Taffy Dugan has published part of her work on children in Pagan practice. In early June, we interviewed Dugan as she prepared for “Gerald Gardner Birthday Bash.” On her site “Magical Kids Blog,” she has shared parts 1-4 of her work. Dugan wrote, “There are many Pagan-type things you can share with your kid without being specifically Pagan – the turning of the seasons, love and respect for Earth, herbal remedies, faeries, dragons, unicorns. The easiest and most discreet way would be to give the kids bread crumbs to follow.” She also included the parenting questionnaire, saying that she welcomes more input.
  • In another follow-up to a past story, Wiccan Priest Erik Walton finished the AIDS race. We brought you Walton’s story in May as he was preparing for the 545 mile bike ride called AIDS Lifecycle: Riding to End AIDS/HIV. In that story, Walton shared both personal tragedies and his triumph against all odds. Once again and this time as a Team Ride Leader, Walton finished the bike race.
  • The Satanic Temple has announced the unveiling ceremony of its completed Baphomet statue. According to the announcement, the statue “weighs one ton and [towers] nearly nine feet tall.” It will be revealed at Berts Warehouse Entertainment in Detroit, Michigan on July 25. However, the statue’s final destination is “next to the Oklahoma State Capitol’s monument of the Ten Commandments.” The Temple said, “The event will serve as a call-to-arms from which we’ll kick off our largest fight to date in the name of individual rights to free exercise against self-serving theocrats.” Tickets for the event are now on sale.
  • Over at Polytheist.com, Dagulf Loptson discusses the ways to build strong connections to spirit and deity in an article entitled, “Strengthening Spiritual Communication.” After sharing various methods of going about this devotional practice, Loptson concludes, “The secret to successful spiritual contact is actually very simple, and in many ways self-explanatory. The hardest part about building these relationships is simply just doing the work, consistently and with love. Extend the courtesy and effort that you would give a flesh-and-blood relationship to the Gods and spirits, and everything else will follow.”
  • RealPagan.net: Paganism for the Real World” launched a new e-Zine at Beltane. In part one of that first publication, editor Steve Paine writes, “Beltane being a festival of fire and life it seemed a most appropriate time to try this venture. As is best with all new ventures we are starting small and humble but are hoping that as time goes on, folks will become motivated to be involved and will come and add their own thoughts and ideas to what we are creating.” RealPagan.net is a social media society that began in 2011. This is its first venture into publishing.

That’s it for now. Have a great day!