Archives For Christian Day

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

Patrick McCollum

Patrick McCollum

The Association of Correctional Food Service Affiliates (ACFSA) international conference in Reno Nevada is this week, and Pagan chaplain Patrick McCollum will be addressing them to give guidance about requests for special diets from Pagan inmates. Quote: “Rev. McCollum will share information about basic Pagan practices and beliefs, and the give guidance to the Association on how to accommodate religious diets for Pagans. In the past, Pagan traditions have not been considered legitimate religious practices in correctional facilities and as a result, Pagans have not been been afforded equal accommodation in this area. Many practicing Pagans are vegan or vegetarian, but are forced to eat meat while other mainstream faiths are offered alternatives. The ACFSA has decided to utilize Rev. McCollum’s expertise in this area to change prison policies worldwide to be more receptive to Pagan beliefs. This is a huge step forward toward equality for Pagans, and bodes well for a better future for all minority faiths.” According to McCollum, this is the first time that a Pagan has addressed this body. Here’s hoping this will lead to a better understanding of our diversity, and the valid needs of Pagan inmates. You can find all of my coverage of Patrick McCollum, here.

41SC-bWNDqL._SY346_Professor Ronald Hutton, author of “The Triumph of the Moon” and “Blood and Mistletoe,” has a new book coming out in November of this year in the UK ( and February of next year in the United States) from Yale University Press entitled  “Pagan Britain.” Quote: “Britain’s pagan past, with its astonishing number and variety of mysterious monuments, atmospheric sites, enigmatic artefacts, bloodthirsty legends and cryptic inscriptions, has always enthralled and perplexed us. Pagan Britain is a history of religious beliefs from the Old Stone Age to the coming of Christianity. This ambitious book integrates the latest evidence to survey our transformed – and transforming – understanding of early religious behaviour; and, also, the way in which that behaviour has been interpreted in recent times, as a mirror for modern dreams and fears. From the Palaeolithic era to the coming of Christianity and beyond, Hutton reveals the long development, rapid suppression, and enduring cultural significance of paganism. Woven into the chronological narrative are numerous case studies of sacred sites – both the well known Stonehenge, Avebury, Seahenge and Maiden Castle, and more unusual far-flung locations across the mainland and coastal islands. Celebrating the powerful challenge and stimulus offered to our imagination by relics of Britain’s deep past, this rich book reveals much about archaeological and historical endeavour and our modern quest to know.” Hutton was host of the recently aired documentary about Gerald Gardner entitled “Britain’s Wicca Man,” and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy last month.

Philip Carr-Gomm at the fracking protest.

Philip Carr-Gomm at the fracking protest.

The process of hydraulic fracturing to harvest natural gas, infamously known as “fracking,” isn’t only controversial in the United States. Fracking operations are underway in Britain, and several Pagans, including musician Damh the Bard, participated in a protest against a well in Balcombe, Sussex. Quote: “This afternoon’s visit is not a happy return to a childhood stamping ground, but rather a way of supporting brave people in their fight against the madness of greed. What can I do? Add myself to the numbers, add my voice by taking my bouzouki with me and playing Sons and Daughters (of Robin Hood) at the top of my voice!” Other Pagans of note at the protest were Druid leaders Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm. At his blog, Philip Carr-Gomm penned an open letter in opposition to fracking. Quote: “The same story is repeating itself with fracking. Although people like money, when the chips are down they don’t want their countryside ruined, their roads clogged with lorries, their water and air risking pollution. They want to protect their country – if necessary from the government who promised to be the ‘greenest ever’. Remember your party has 130-177,000 members, the National Trust has 3.8 million. People really care about the countryside.” You can watch a video of Damh the Bard performing at the Balcombe, Sussex protest, here.

In Other Pagan Community News: 

  • The annual Festival of The Dead in Salem, Massachusetts is coming up! That includes the official Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, and presentations by authors and teachers like Christopher Penczak. Quote: “The Witches of Salem honor this time with Festival of the Dead, an annual event series that explores death’s macabre customs, heretical histories, and strange rituals. Presented by Salem Warlock Christian Day and hosted by the foremost authorities on the spirit world, Festival of the Dead beckons guests to step through the veil into a realm where spirits await.”
  • The fist issue of the Melbourne-based magazine The Green Man Quarterly is now out and available for order. Quote: “The Green Man Quarterly is a new project based in Melbourne, Australia that aims to present an in depth exploration of Pagan, Witchcraft and Occult issues. Our ambition is to produce an affordable, high quality resource that is able assist in the promotion and growth of our diverse community.”
  • Speaking of magazines, a Starwood 2013 themed issue of the venerable Green Egg has been released. A direct link to the free PDF is here. In the introduction, the editor has announced they they plan to finish scanning all the back issues of Green Egg, to make them available as a resource. Quote: “When all the issues are put up, hopefully by one year from now, if not sooner, I plan to send out a mass email mailing to university departments and teachers about a wonderful resource for them and for their students. And it’s free!”
  • Congratulations to the Covenant of The Goddess Facebook page on surpassing 15,000 “likes”! 
  • Pagan Pride Day season is fast approaching, and press releases from local events are starting to be sent out. Here’s one from Philadelphia Pagan Pride, being held August 31st. Quote: “Entry to the event is free, but we do request the donation of a canned food item or other provisions for our beneficiaries. This year, our beneficiaries are the food bank at the Mazzoni Center, Forgotten Cats, and In-Reach Heathen Prison Services.”
  • Speaking of Patrick McCollum, the issue of American Jails that he contributed an article to won an award for journalism! Quote: “The issue that Patrick wrote the featured title article: Keeping the Faith – Religious issues in Jail, just received the Apex Award for Journalism, the top award for a print magazine in 2013!” You can read the article he wrote, here.

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

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

Publicity still from "Britain's Wicca Man".

Publicity still from “Britain’s Wicca Man”.

The hour-long documentary “Britain’s Wicca Man” has had a long, strange, trip to getting aired. A look at the life of Gerald Gardner, hosted by scholar Ronald Hutton, the program was commissioned by Channel 4 in Britain and initially scheduled to be aired sometime in 2012. That didn’t happen, and eventually a truncated 27-minute version popped up on Australian television earlier this Summer. Now, it seems the long journey is over, and the full documentary was finally aired this weekend in the UK under the new title of “A Very British Witchcraft.” Quote: “The extraordinary story of Britain’s fastest-growing religious group – the modern pagan witchcraft of Wicca – and of its creator, an eccentric Englishman called Gerald Gardner. Historian and leading expert in Pagan studies Professor Ronald Hutton explores Gardner’s story and experiences first-hand Wicca’s growing influence throughout Britain today.” Considering how rare it is for these short-form documentaries to get a DVD release in the United States, we will most likely have to wait until someone has taken the law into their own hands and posted it to Youtube, or made it available for download via BitTorrent in order to see it (not that I’m advocating piracy, simply communicating the realities of modern distribution). In any case, I look forward to seeing the whole work.

The-ConjuringBack in July I looked at the problematic thematic underpinnings of horror film “The Conjuring,” and why this “true story” could spark trouble. Since then, the film has gone on to gross more than a 100 million dollars, and the film’s insistence that they were conveying dramatized facts has already sparked some troubling results. Quote: “The author of the books that inspired the new movie “The Conjuring” is asking for help after a local gravestone was damaged in the village of Harrisville […] Local residents are upset by the vandalism. ‘I mean it’s upsetting that anyone would vandalize a grave, because I think it’s very disrespectful,’ Sara Indish, Burrilliville.” Salem Witch Christian Day, who spoke out previously about the historical revisionism of the film, noted that the “film is having an impact and it isn’t a good one.” Talks of a sequel and possibly even a movie franchise are already underway, also based on the demon-hunting exploits of Ed and Lorraine Warren, and thus, even more opportunities to muddy the waters between fact and fantasy. I can only imagine that the emergence of “real” (Christian) exorcists as reality show stars will only fuel this trend. In any case, I hope this pop-exorcism fever breaks, and breaks soon.

The Weird Sisters from Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' After Henry Fuseli (1741-1825); mezzotint by John Raphael Smith (1751-1812)

The Weird Sisters by John Raphael Smith (1751-1812)

Earlier this month I posted an item about Witches & Wicked Bodies, an exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which had just opened (highlights of the show can be found, here). Now, the reviews are pouring in, all considering the portrayal of the witch, and the practice of witchcraft. Laura Cumming at The Guardian wonders if “these male artists ever met a woman who looked anything like such visions in reality? Not one of these figures is the classic old hag of medieval literature, the reclusive village spinster forced to endure the ducking stool or the stake because she was thought too weird in her ways, too sharp in her observations, too active with the herbs, or simply because she muttered to herself.” Meanwhile, Arifa Akbar at The Independent notices the strong sexual element running through the show. Quote: “These images of lewd sexual disinhibition and obscene corporeality (the women are invariably naked, open-legged, farting and with masculine features such as beards or penises) all arise from ancient fears that have surrounded women’s sexual desire, as well as the even graver fear of its ability to emasculate men.” Finally, Rebecca McQuillan at the Herald Scotland notes the recurring fear and animus towards older women in the figure of the witch. Quote: “The bile directed at ageing women in the 21st century contains unpleasant echoes of the sinister misogyny of the witch trial era. And that is deeply disconcerting.” 

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

Pagan Voices is a spotlight on recent quotations from figures within the Pagan community. These voices may appear in the burgeoning Pagan media, or from a mainstream outlet, but all showcase our wisdom, thought processes, and evolution in the public eye. Is there a Pagan voice you’d like to see highlighted? Drop me a line with a link to the story, post, or audio.

Laura Wildman-Hanlon

Laura Wildman-Hanlon

“Attention adult children of Pagans! Regardless of your current beliefs, we want to hear from you! We are conducting a study of those who were raised to adulthood within the Pagan Community or had a form of Paganism practiced within their homes during their formative years. The survey asks question of religious and spiritual self-identity and how these world views are expressed as an adult. It also considers the importance and differences between spiritual beliefs, religious practices and organized religious structures in association with social identity. Please either follow or copy and past the link below to the information page where you can take, or see more details on, the study. And please forward the link or post to wherever is appropriate. Thank You!” – Laura Wildman-Hanlon, announcing the “Spiritual Beliefs and Social Identity” survey for adult children of modern Pagans. Here’s a bit more on the survey from the explanation page: “Prior research has found the vast majority of this target group self-identifies as being spiritually Pagan but hold no religious allegiance. This survey investigates how this group manifests their beliefs in the greater world and the degree spirituality, without the encouragement of religious structure, can act as a motivating force for their participation in societal or global change.”

Christian Day

Christian Day

“I’ve always been a little peeved at the devil-hunting legacy of Ed and Lorraine Warren, but this movie took their bigoted beliefs to an entirely new level. It’s bad enough they’re always looking for Satan in every child and demons under every bed, but now their great big bad was, as it is in so many other misguided stories throughout history, the Witch […] Like the Amityville Horror, another story that originally involved the Warrens before it made it to Hollywood, this film has the potential to have a real legacy. That famous film was about a house that, many years after it was first shown, still inspires terror, while the legacy of this film could be worse because it’s about people. The last thing I want to see is for this film to inspire fear about Witches in the way that the Amityville Horror did for the house on Ocean Avenue for so many years. The film even ends with a wink and a nod to Amityville. That it purports to be a true story and that everyone portrayed in the film are real people gives this story, and its antagonist, a gravitas that takes it out of the realm of b-movie horror flick. The Conjuring was especially upsetting to me as a resident of Salem because it desecrates the memory of the Towne sisters, Mary Esty, Rebecca Nurse, and Sarah Cloyce, two of whom were hanged as so-called “Witches” in 1692 Salem. By claiming that the big bad Witch was descended from Mary Esty, they’re making quite an obvious implication one doesn’t have to reach far for. The Towne sisters were almost certainly not Witches. They would have had no idea what a real Witch was, beyond what the hateful Reverend Paris told them, but it crushed these ladies to be cast out of the Christian faith they held so dear. To cast them as devil worshippers was the final insult. Perhaps my greatest concern about this film is that the paranormal is really popular these days. This movie could lead many of today’s paranormal investigators, particularly those new to the field, to develop terrible views of our ways. I truly hope that the paranormal community does not embrace this film and see it as a factual way to view Witches.”Christian Day, co-owner of The Salem Witch Walk, writing a critique of the new horror film “The Conjuring.”

Carl Neal

Carl Neal

“Our community benefits from all kinds of people. Our diversity is possibly our greatest strength yet we so often take steps to squash that diversity rather than benefit from it. Those who work well in groups are crucial to the future of the Pagan community in America. One or two individuals simply can’t create the large, organized events that we occasionally get to enjoy. We NEED those who can work with and effectively lead groups of Pagans. They are a huge part of how we can draw closer and bring our energies together. I just hope that if you’ve read all the way to the end of this article that you can now see that YOU as an individual can do a great deal to build and improve our community. Solitaries, Traditional Pagans, and those in-between or beyond those limits can all contribute to making ours a stronger, better-connected community. Solitary individuals have far more ability to positively impact the Greater Pagan Community than most of us have thought in the past. We Solitaries owe a big debt to those organizations that have worked so hard to create events over the decades. Now we Solitaries need to step up and do our part to help this community connect and grow. The great news is that we can do this while remaining true to our Solitaries paths. We need not try to work within organizations that run counter to how we function in order to be part of the community and to positively contribute to its growth.” – Carl Neal, host of The Pent O’Clock News, exploring how solitary Pagans and Witches can help build community at The Witches’ Voice.

Sam Webster (with Herm), photo by Tony Mierzwicki.

Sam Webster

“So far we have discussed the intellectual and pastoral training of a minister. In Protestant religious space, the intellectual work feeds directly into liturgy, meaning sermons, and while Protestants are very good at public speaking, there is not much ritual knowledge there. Pagans would have to supplement. The intellectual education also enables the minister to provide thought leadership and institutional guidance. The Pastoral role is clear: caring for the emotional and spiritual needs of the population. Together, the knowledge of religious thought and history along with other-centered care leads to the last major role of the minister, the Prophetic. Once meaning “speaking-for” the Deity and ultimately derived from that authority, although not usually meaning channeling these days, it is the task of critique and persuasive correction of the people. It is the often unpleasant and rarely thanked job of telling people where they are wrong. It is easy to lead when everyone wants to follow you and they agree with you. But when they don’t, when in your judgement they are making some kind of error, it is the duty of the minister to get up and use persuasion to change the people’s hearts and minds, their words and deeds—even at the risk of losing your job, which may be supporting your family. This requires courage and conviction, and is best backed up by education and compassion. I believe we need more Pagans trained in this way. We need to be as good at this, even better than Christian and other ministers because we are fighting an uphill battle for acceptance. Like Ginger Rogers, we need to be able to do this “backwards and in heels”. We need to know the world’s range of theological positions, as well as the entire western lexicon of spiritual thought.” – Sam Webster, discussing Pagan ministry, and the importance of prophetic ministry within modern Paganism.

Julian Betkowski

Julian Betkowski

“Many Pagans’ primary access to community is through the internet, and I have been concerned for a while about how that shapes the way that we relate to community. It has been noted before by various people that the internet allows for a wall of anonymity, and that people will behave online in ways that they never would in the outside world. I have to wonder, then, how that affects people whose faith community is largely virtual: what is appropriate behavior, and how do we relate to the idea of community when we do not have to worry about the repercussions of our actions or the effect that we have on those around us? When we can simply insulate ourselves in groups of like-minded people, when we can build up little virtual echo chambers, how do we know that we are actually engaging with the community, and not just forming high school cliques? Indeed, it is this clique mentality that I find so unsettling. The internet, combined with insularity, allows us to artificially inflate the members of any given community. We can feel as though we are speaking for the whole of Paganism, make broad claims about the definition and usage of that term, because our little corner of the internet all agrees with us. But then, we really do not have any way of actually knowing just how many people we are speaking for, or who they really are. On top of that, if we are unwilling to tolerate critique, then we are even further slicing ourselves off from true community experience.” – Julian Betkowski, on how social media and the Internet build “echo chambers” instead of communities.

Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried

Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried

“On Thursday, “The World” aired a short follow-up story. Between the two of us, Josh and I had spent nearly three hours on the phone with [producer Nina] Porzucki. In multiple emails, we had sent her background information, contacts, sources and images. The final piece was two-and-a-half minutes, with a few seconds from each of us. There was no apology given on-air or on the website. The online story has been “updated,” but still features the chubby guy in the movie costume – and no apology for the disrespectful original story. Porzucki specifically asked me to talk on the recording about the symbolism of Thor’s hammer, which was the crux of what the original PRI item purported to be about. I didn’t expect that there would be an extended feature on “The World” about this, but she only used one sentence of a twenty-minute discussion. She didn’t use any of the images or source material that she asked me to send her for the website. I’m not surprised by any of this. I’ve written before about public radio’s poor coverage of minority religions (as part of an article on “Obama and Ostara”). What did surprise me was the amazing response to my call for a letter-writing campaign. There a lot more HOPI (heathens of positive intent) out there than even I thought, and they are ready to call out the media when their religion is misrepresented. This is a wonderful thing.” – Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried, author of The Norse Mythology Blog, about a follow-up interview/story PRI’s The World did with him and Josh Heath after many Heathens took issue with the frivolous and poorly sourced nature of the original segment.

Vivianne Crowley

Vivianne Crowley

“Isis has much to offer contemporary Pagans. Isis in the classical Pagan world was a multicultural Goddess, worshipped in Africa, Asia Minor and Europe, and peoples far apart in culture could find meaning in her. Today, as in earlier Pagan societies, Isis can bring together those of different races and faiths. The Goddess as Queen of Heaven is not associated with a particular place, time or culture. The arc of heaven unites all beings – human, animal, plant, and all life forms within the universe. She can also be a bridge to those of other faiths.  Many of Isis’ titles were absorbed into the veneration by Catholics of the Virgin Mary and her image survived into Catholic Europe in the form of Black Madonna statues, with cults of healing that were some of the most powerful pilgrimage sites of medieval Europe.  The worship of Isis has been hidden, but has never truly died. Let us honor Isis in the Dog Days of the year, a  Goddess for the world in which we now live, a global interconnected village united under the vault of the Heaven’s Queen.” – Vivianne Crowley, author, Jungian psychologist, and faculty at Cherry Hill Seminary, on the goddess Isis as a multicultural deity perfect for “a global interconnected village.”

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

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

In Memoriam: Dennis Presser (1958-2013): Circle Sanctuary has announced that longtime Circle and Pagan Spirit Gathering community member Dennis Presser passed away last week from natural causes. In a memorial posted to their site, Circle Sanctuary said of Presser that they “honor his Nature-loving spirit, his devotion to sacred Rhythm, and the friendships he made so easily and widely.  What is remembered lives.”

Dennis Presser in 2009.

Dennis Presser in 2009.

“Thank you, Dennis, for friendship over the years.  Thanks for your environmental education and preservation work, your community drumming and celebrations, and for your wisdom, humor, and support.  Condolences, love and support to Laurie, Hunter, and Allegra, and to all of us mourning his death.  May we take comfort in knowing that this world is a better and greener place because of Dennis.”Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary

Friends and acquaintances are encouraged to post their own memorial remembrance at the Circle Sanctuary site. You can read his official obituary, here. You can read an editorial from PNC-Minnesota, here. What is remembered, lives.

S.J. Tucker Readies New Album: Singer-songwriter (and Pagan) S.J. Tucker has announced that she’ll be digitally releasing an album of new material on March 5th, with physical copies to follow. The songs were developed for the soundtrack of “micro-budget” fantasy/action film “Ember Days,” also being released on March 5th.

S.J. Tucker

S.J. Tucker

“I got you all a Valentine’s Day present.  It’s still cooking, but it’s on its way to being fully formed and tasty.  I have been a good little songwriter/producer this month.  Early in February, I went to work in my Pixie House and finished up the first project of this year.  Last week, on St. Valentine’s Day, I put that project into the hands of my mastering engineer, Mr. Mark Yoshida.  He’s working on it now.  When I get it back from him, and when Mr. Wiley and I settle on the album design, it will all go to printing and replication.  When that’s done, I’ll have it in my hands…and soon after that, I hope, so will you!”

According to Tucker this material will be a departure from her normal style, mining “goth/industrial or dubstep-influenced” sounds. Once released, you’ll be able to buy the album on the music page of her website. In the meantime, you can catch S.J. Tucker performing this weekend with Tricky Pixie at FaerieCon West in Seattle.

More Pagan Responses to Fox News Wicca Comments: The Pagan community is still responding to insulting comments made about Wicca on the Fox News channel by Tucker Carlson and others. While Carlson has issued an apology on Twitter and on FishbowlDC, many are still urging an on-air apology from the network itself. In a statement released this past Wednesday, the Clergy of Come As You Are Coven, an Interfaith Pagan community in Northern California, requested “that this issue be addressed by Fox News Network via an immediate, prominent, on-air apology.”

Lady Yeshe Rabbit. Photo: Greg Harder.

Lady Yeshe Rabbit of CAYA Coven. Photo: Greg Harder.

“We request that this issue be addressed by Fox News Network via an immediate, prominent, on-air apology; significant on-air retraction of specific comments with factual corrections; visible dialogue with practicing Wiccans and Pagans conducted in a respectful manner; and appropriate commitment by the Network to providing the individuals responsible with a mandatory professional course of diversity training in religious and sex/gender sensitivity.”

In addition, prominent Salem, Massachusetts Witches Laurie Cabot, Lorelei, Christian Day and Leanne Marrama issued a press release this past Tuesday on the matter. Day, who owns the Salem shops “Hex” and “Omen” said that “America is a bubbling cauldron of different peoples and faiths and it is to our credit that our nation goes out of its way to respect those days that are sacred to us. Witches believe in respect for all faiths and Carlson’s divisive rhetoric is out of step with American values.” Whether these, and other efforts, results in an on-air apology from Fox remains to be seen.

In Other Pagan Community News:

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

On April 21st, Katrina Kessler, known by many in the Pagan community as Foxglove, passed away after a car accident in San Diego, California. An up-and-coming figure in our community, Kessler worked at the World of Witches Museum in Salem, starred in, and helped produce, “The Young Witches of Salem,” did reporting and production work with MagickTV, and hosted the video series “Foxglove’s Lost and Found.” Shortly before her death she was working with a community service organization called The Circle in California.

Katrina "Foxglove" Kessler

Katrina "Foxglove" Kessler

“Katrina had left the Museum and moved on to California, where she was part of a group who traveled around to help Pagans in need. Katrina and I still spoke frequently and were still working on collaborative projects. We last spoke just a few days ago, which all the more grateful for now, and in that conversation she spoke about being very happy with her new life and the directions it was taking her in. That is how I will always remember her, not as the omni-competent Museum Manager, nor as the gifted video artist, but as a passionate and idealistic young woman hurtling into a bright future that truly excited her. Her soul’s journeys will take her to a different future now than we spoke of that night, but one that I pray will be just as bright and as exciting to her in its own way.” Rev. Don Lewis, The Correllian Tradition

Katrina Kessler, Selena Fox & Lexi Renee at PantheaCon 2012

Katrina Kessler, Selena Fox & Lexi Renee at PantheaCon 2012

“I am thankful that I was able to spend time with Katrina Kessler on several occasions, including as part of my speaking engagements in Salem, Massachusetts in 2010, and most recently at PantheaCon 2012 in San Jose, California this past February.  Katrina was bright, caring, creative, & dedicated to helping others.  Like a shining comet, she brought a beautiful brilliance to this world and was gone too quickly.  May we take comfort in knowing that she lives on in the cherished memories of those of us who knew her, in the lives she enriched with her service & wit, & in her creative works.  Blessed Be.”Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary

“In our community, leaders emerge in each generation that make a difference. In Katrina was that wonderful balance of compassion, intelligence and drive that made her a effective young leader. Her goals were to help organizations that would make a difference, and she was learning from the leadership directly. Even though she had her life cut short, as the Goddess so needed her elsewhere, she had already been a major force for creating a movement for Young Pagans, through her video and her actions. She is an example that the next generation of Pagans can be and are truly amazing. I will truly miss her physical presence and honor her spirit for what she taught me.”Ed Hubbard, Witch School International

Author and prominent Salem-based business-owner Christian Day said that “she was a warm, kind, and magical person. Those closest to her have been blessed with a most wonderful guide in the realms of spirit.” Terry Milton, “The Stone Lady,” who worked closely with Kessler, adored her “enthusiasm for life, and her ability to inspire others.”

“During the fall, Katrina did daily postings of the “wisdom of the elders” on Facebook, and collected words of inspiration or advice or wisdom from you and I, Therese, Phaedra and “elders” associated with the museum. I often thought it was ironic that Katrina was asking for our “wisdoms”  when she appeared to have  so much more wisdom in her short years than all of the “elders” combined.”

There will be a wake at the Dockray and Thomas Funeral Home in Canton, MA, on Sunday from 4 – 8. The Memorial service will be at 10 AM on the morning of Beltane Eve. There is a page at the Dockray site where people may leave condolences for Katrina’s family. There will also be an on-air memorial for Katrina on Pagans Tonight Radio on Friday, May 4, at 8 PM Central / 9 Eastern.

Speaking personally, it is always a great loss when our future leaders, activists, and thinkers are struck down prematurely. Sometimes, I think that there is such an emphasis on our elders and “big name Pagans,” and who will inherit their mantles in the next ten or fifteen years, that we sometimes don’t see the young people in their teens and twenties who are absorbing our teachings, attending our talks and rituals, and volunteering for our efforts. The men and women who will represent us to future generations. I had heard from Ed Hubbard that Foxglove had very much wanted to meet and speak with me at PantheaCon 2012, and I now very much regret that this never happened. We always assume that with the young there will always be more time; years, decades, of time to make a connection, to pass the torch, but fortune can be fickle, and we can lose our brightest sparks in an instant.

If there is a lesson in the tragic passing of Katrina “Foxglove” Kessler, it is to always honor the contributions of the young, to make passing the torch a daily occurrence, and to ensure that “Pagan community” is always a multi-generational endeavor. May Foxglove rest in the arms of the gods, and return to us again.

Last weekend saw the World of Witches Museum in Salem, Massachusetts permanently close its doors. Opened in the Summer of 2010, the museum represented “a coming of age for the Witch movement, which allows us to recognize that we do have a history worthy of sharing” according to Rev. Don Lewis, Curator of the Museum, and chief executive officer of the Correllian Nativist Tradition. However, due to a string of  misfortunes, staying open was no longer a viable option. In a statement sent to The Wild Hunt, Rev. Don Lewis recounted the many challenges the museum faced, and the health problems that  finally made him decide that closing was the best option.

Rev. Don Lewis and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll at the museum's opening.

Rev. Don Lewis and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll at the museum's opening.

“This last Halloween season was especially hard for a lot of Salem businesses. The whole season was somewhat slow, but the snowstorm on Saturday of Halloween weekend, which would be anticipated as the biggest shopping day of the season, was devastating. I had hoped that this winter would be better than the previous one and it turned out to be as mild a winter as the previous year’s winter had been severe -but in a town geared to a single holiday off season business was just as hard and slow with a mild winter. A number of Salem businesses have found it necessary to either close or move to new locations this spring, especially in the Pickering Wharf area.

At the beginning of the March I found myself in the hospital with cardiac problems exacerbated by stress and exhaustion. It was made clear to me that I needed to make some changes in my life and could no longer sustain the workload I had been carrying. Although there were people I could trust and rely upon to help in the short term, and they did help tremendously, there was no one available that I could see as a long term manager for the Museum. Closing the Museum was a very hard choice, but it is one I felt I had to make.”

The World of Witches Museum is the second Witch-related business in the Pickering Wharf area to close its doors in recent months. In January, Laurie Cabot, Salem, Massachusetts’ official Witch, announced that she would be closing the doors of The Official Witch Shoppe at the end of that month, bringing to an end Cabot’s 42-year run of owning and operating Witch-related stores in Salem. Some observers, including Salem business-owner and promoter Christian Day, noted that in addition to a weak Halloween season in 2011, tourist foot traffic has shifted somewhat away from the Pickering Wharf area towards the renovated Peabody Essex Museum and the Bewitched statue.

“I think there are a constellation of issues keeping the Wharf in the situation it’s in. As Ed [Hubbard] pointed out, my own marketing of my shops on Essex Street has probably contributed to the shift in foot traffic to that area but I have, over the years, hosted events there in hopes of spreading around the work that I do but it was hard to make it work due to the space limitations of venues. A huge factor in the popularity of Essex Street is the 2002 renovation of the Peabody Essex Museum, which created an enormous buzz around the street. The Bewitched Statue brought people even further down, which is what inspired me to put HEX at it’s slightly off-the-path location. As a member of Destination Salem, we’ve often discussed ways of encouraging that area to help market itself better but it was hard sometimes to get buy-in. My own opinion is that the landlord needed to do a lot more as the owner of the space to brand it more clearly as a shopping and dining destination. Laurie Cabot has, perhaps, the most recognizable brand of all of us, including the Peabody Essex Museum, and she had trouble at the Wharf as well. I think, though, that the largest factor is probably the economy. With so many people unemployed and money as tight as it is, I think people are spending more carefully. We’ve had at least two closings on Essex Street recently so the downturn is effecting people there as well. While both my shops and Crow Haven Corner are doing well, both Lorelei and I have had to spend quite a bit of money in advertising to maintain that success. It’s a hamster wheel that’s not easy to keep running on but we’re determined. That said, I don’t think I could make it work at Pickering Wharf myself.”

One obvious question is how this closing will affect the larger Correllian Tradition, and Witch School, the successful Internet-based learning program that has been closely intertwined. According to Ed Hubbard, a Correllian Elder and CEO of Witch School International, the closing would make no difference in the day-to-day operations of the school. Meanwhile, many of the museum’s Correllian-oriented artifacts and exhibits are being moved to the Sacred Sea Temple in Georgia, overseen by Stephanie Neal, Temple Head and Arch Priestess within the tradition. Neal expressed that she felt the museum, ultimately, was a good idea that moved the Pagan community forward.

“Even though the World of Witches Museum had a relatively short life span, it greatly advanced Pagan thought, to the wider community and its influence continues to reaffirm it was a good decision to open the Museum.”

While Salem has become the epicenter of Halloween in America in recent years, that’s no guarantee of success, especially in these uncertain times as we slowly crawl our way out of one of the worst recessions in our nation’s history. New businesses are especially susceptible to failure, and just one factor not going right can make things unsustainable. The World of Witches Museum faced many challenges, and in the end, the smarter move was to walk away than lose money or further risk the health of the curator. No doubt the Correllian Nativist TraditionWitch School, and other related projects like Pagans Tonight will continue their impressive successful track-records, learning important lessons from this experience. I wish them all well, and hope that Rev. Don Lewis makes a full recovery.

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!

Top Story: Two Nebraska State Penitentiary inmates have won a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Correctional Services over the issue of religious accommodation. The issue? Acknowledgement that Theodism isn’t Asatru, and deserving of separate considerations.

“In court documents, [Wolfgang] Rust and [Bobby] Conn alleged the prison had put a substantial burden on their exercise of religion by setting specific guidelines to develop and conduct religious practices and violated their right to congregate and practice their faith by refusing to provide an outdoor space for a worship site to create an altar and by denying them certain organic foods to be sacrificed to the gods. They also asked the court to require the prison to recognize the Theodish belief as separate from Asatru and to allow them to have personal and communal religious property to practice their religion. After months of negotiations, both sides reached an agreement approved by U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp in December. The prison agreed to schedule separate worship services and educational instruction and to allow Theodish belief practitioners to buy and eat organic food during the feast days so long as the food doesn’t require special handling procedures and is available from a commercial source by mail order or delivery.”

The settlement will also allow Theodish prisoners to purchase a variety of communal items for the purposes of holding religious rites. While this may not seem like a big deal to some, the formal acknowledgement that modern Paganism is simply an umbrella term, and that different Pagan faiths, even very similar ones, deserve separate accommodations is a huge leap forward. Remember, discrimination against religious minorities is endemic, and in some prisons Pagans have no access to any sort of rites, or are lumped together regardless of tradition or path. Lets hope this is the beginning of a larger change in the way our family of faiths is dealt with in U.S. prisons.

Druid Involved in Hate Crime: Last month four  individuals in Edmonton were involved in a racially motivated attack, the culmination of a night of verbal abuse against several individuals while passing out flyers for a rally by neo-Nazi organization Blood and Honour. Now the Edmonton Journal, digging into the perpetrators, has discovered that one claims to be a Pagan and Druid.

“One of the accused, Keith Virgil Decu, claims to be a druid on a metaphysical chat group and lists German neo-pagan spirituality and cooking as interests and activities on his Facebook page.”

One of the other accused has tried to mitigate the events by marking them as a “horrible night” of “drunken stupidity.” But no amount of drink can wash away the sickness that made them think passing out racist flyers, hurling abuse, and attacking people is a decent night-on-the-town. That one claims to be an artist, and another a Druid, shames both titles. One can only hope that the moral vacuum of their souls is soon filled with something other than fashionable nihilism and racist stupidity.

COG Local Council Helps Found New Interfaith Group: The Campbell Reporter/Mercury News reports on the formation of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC), a South Bay organization that includes the Northern CA Local Council of Covenant of the Goddess as an inaugural Congregational Affiliate.

So why would Silicon Valley, which hosts many interfaith groups, need another one? “We don’t have a real sense of focus or centeredness,” said the Rev. Bruce Bramlett, an Episcopalian, who also was involved in the creation of the group. A three-year study by the Knight Foundation released in 2010, “The Soul of the Community,” found that two-thirds of respondents in the valley felt disconnected. SiVIC’s enthusiastic members hope to help remedy that. “We want to help create the glue to connect various communities,” said Mari Ellen Reynolds Loijens of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

One of SiVIC’s first public activities will be to participate in CROP Walk 2011, an event to raise awareness and funds to combat hunger. Congratulations to the NCLC of COG for being a part of this new interfaith endeavor.

At What Cost Fame: So now that the Christian Day/Charlie Sheen “warlock” issue seems to finally be simmering down, will it ultimately benefit anyone? The press seems to have successfully made this about how Sheen is wacky, instead of focusing on the fact that he’s a serial abuser of women, and Day’s ritual certainly gained attention, but perhaps not in the context he’d like.

“The posse of witches and warlocks that gathered March 6 at a witchcraft store in Salem — and might have been at home on the Ward family couch in “The Fighter” — were wicked pissed at “Chahlie” for associating warlocks with violence. In a five-minute “magical intervention,” coven members summoned the archangels of the four corners of the world, along with a skull they’d named Robert, in a bid to bind Sheen from harming himself and others (well, actually, “hahming”).”

The old saw about there being no such thing as bad publicity only holds true if the subject(s) gain from the experience. In Day’s case, I assume that would mean increased sales for his upcoming book from Weiser. Or perhaps more television deals? I’m not sure where that particular metric should be lain. Oh, and to Bill Edelstein of Variety, it’s certainly your prerogative to mock Day’s ritual, but making fun of someone’s Boston/New England accent? That’s cheap.  The alpha and omega of my take on this whole thing can be found, here.

New Star-Studded Pagan Podcast Launches: In a final note, I just wanted to point out the launch of a new Pagan podcast, the Pagan Pathfinders Podcast. The show features an ever-shifting panel of notable Pagans, with Canadian Witch Sable Aradia acting as the host.

“Picture, if you will, a virtual campfire in the astral plane, and around this campfire, a heartbeat drum calls to the elders and leaders of the worldwide Pagan community. They are organizers, facilitators, authors, musicians, scholars, artists, advocates, and community-builders. They practice almost every conceivable Pagan faith and span time zones from the Pacific Coast of North America to New South Wales, Australia. Some of them are famous, some not-so-famous, and some only famous in their own communities. But wherever they are, whoever they are, they are those who find the paths for the rest of us.”

You can download the first episode, featuring Lord Alexian, Hawk, Ellen Evert Hopman, Edain McCoy, Nisaba Merrieweather, Brendan Myers, Myranda O’Byrne, Ali Ravenwood, Natalie Reed, and Sam Wagar now. I wish them good luck!

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

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

New Alexandrian Library Project Prepares to Break Ground: Yesterday in Georgetown, Delaware, building materials were unloaded for a dome kit that will form the New Alexandrian Library’s home. Overseen by the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, the NAL project hopes to create a library worthy of its namesake” focused on esoteric knowledge, mystical and the spiritual writings from many traditions, and thehistory of our magickal communities.”

Unloading building materials for The New Alexandrian Library.

“Today was a momentous step forwards towards the New Alexandrian Library Project breaking ground. By forklift and by hand, twelve dedicated volunteers unloaded a huge truck laden with building materials. The barn is full to the rafters and the field has several tall and tarped bundles. The trees have been marked for clearing in the woods where the library will stand and the general contractor will soon be taking over the bulk of the physical work. This dome is the first of a long term plan of five domes that will make up the New Alexandrian Library.”

A fundraising event connected to the official ground breaking ceremonies will be announced soon. In the meantime, an urgent appeal has been sent out to supporters to cover the cost of renting the forklift. If you’d like to donate to NAL, you can find contact information, here. You can also follow NAL’s progress at their Facebook page.

Updates on Patrick McCollum’s Thailand Trip: As I’ve mentioned previously, Pagan chaplain and activist Patrick McCollum has been traveling in Thailand at the invitation of Dhammakaya temple in the Pathumtani Province, where he will be honored as a World Inner Peace Ambassador, and share Pagan rituals and practices with local Buddhist practitioners. McCollum will then travel to the renowned temple at Borobudur on the Island of Java with Lama Gangchen Rinpoche, of the World Peace Foundation. At the Patrick McCollum Foundation website, Patrick has posted several updates about events from his journey, including doing ritual in the Khou Yi jungle.

“The sounds of the jungle at night are like nothing I’ve ever heard before. There are huge frogs croaking as loud as bass drums, and dozens of other smaller ones that sound like a chorus of children. Elephant’s screams pierce the night, and the sounds of large animal hunters seeking prey can be heard intermittently. My rational mind says I’m crazy for venturing out so, with tigers and poisonous snakes and who knows what? I have no weapons or any way to defend myself, and yet the moon guides me forward without fear. After about an hour I find a perfect clearing to do ritual. It’s circular and about 30 feet in diameter. I can see huge colorful flowers high in the trees and hanging vines everywhere filled with tropical fruits and spiny pods. I call the quarters and invoke the Goddess and find myself completely immersed. I did prayers for world peace and for human rights, everywhere, and I asked for blessings on my community.”

Patrick will no doubt be sharing further reflections about his trip with us when he returns. To keep track of Patrick’s journey be sure to follow the Patrick McCollum Foundation’s blog, and the Foundation’s Facebook page.

Damh the Bard is Ready For His Close-Up: Peg Aloi at The Witching Hour interviews producer-director Gary Andrews about his upcoming film The Spirit of Albion, a story inspired by the music of Damh the Bard.

“…the 3 main characters are young, modern people with the kind of problems that are very real today. One, Esther, is working in a high powered, pressured job with no real life outside of work and has reached breaking point. The second, Annie, is a damaged young woman who works in a job she hates (animal testing) and has taken refuge in drugs and casual sex rather than face her reality. Finally we have George, an anti war activist who is fighting the guilt that his soldier brother was killed in Afghanistan and the last time they spoke they had a fight about their life choices. All 3 of them, on the same day (Oct 31st) have a meeting with a stranger who turns out not to be what they first appear. Added into the mix is Annie’s brother, a Christian priest who is having doubts about his vocation. All of these characters are given a chance to see things a different way, through the filter of the Pagan perspective and all of them have a life-changing experience, although not everything turns out as you might expect!”

The film originated as a stage play, thematically structured around 10 Damh the Bard songs, and was recently performed at Witchfest International in November of 2010. Once complete, a direct-to-DVD release is planned. Updated will be posted to the official The Spirit of Albion site. As for Damh, a truly excellent human being and musician, he recently released a live CD, and has a new single coming out soon entitled “The Sons & Daughters (of Robin Hood)”.

When to Participate in Press Opportunities: Joseph Merlin Nichter, a volunteer minority faiths chaplain for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, discusses his recent participation in a local interfaith vigil, and the process he went through in deciding if that participation was a good idea.

“This past Wednesday I was contacted by an enthusiastic community organizer who was trying to manifest an interfaith prayer vigil ad hoc. He explained what he was trying to do and asked if I would be willing to speak publicly on the matter along side other religious community leaders. I told him I needed to conform my availability and would call him back shorty. I knew my availability, but didn’t want to make an ad hoc decision because there would be media coverage. I sought counsel before calling him back and agreeing to participate.”

Nichter references my recent participation in a panel at PantheaCon and the Charlie Sheen “warlock” media controversy to make the point that sometimes press attention isn’t what you want or need. However, in his case, it seemed to go well, and his speech is well worth the reading.

Christian Day and the Binding of Sheen: Speaking of the Charlie Sheen “warlock” issue, Salem Warlock Christian Day has posted a video of the ritual to “heal and bind Charlie Sheen.”

The ritual was covered by the press, both local, and national. As for the use of the term “warlock,” an issue that has sparked quite a bit of conversation lately, Day has issued a $1000.00 reward to anyone who can find source material “prior to 1950 that designates the word Warlock as someone who betrays a coven to the Witch hunters, or betrays a coven at all.” No doubt some scholars (amateur or otherwise) in need of some cash might want to take up his challenge.

Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn Expels Founder: The Second Order of the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn have voted to expel founder/leader Robert Zink due to a laundry list of charges that span from misusing his power to misappropriation of funds.

“It is come to the point where we of the Second Order have to take the unfortunate action of deposing former G.H. Frater P.D.R. (Robert Zink) of his highly influential position and expelling him from the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn. He received the grievances from the Adepti of the Second Order, but was still given a great deal of time and opportunity to reform his ways. In response to this, he persists to hold himself above accountability and has gone to great lengths to secure his own position through surreptitiously ensuring as much of the Order’s assets were under his sole control as possible.”

However, as Frater Barrabbas notes, it may not be possible to expel him due to the way the bylaws of the organization are written. So we may soon see two competing Esoteric Orders of the Golden Dawn. He notes that this is just another peril of creating (or joining) organizations that aren’t built on democratic principles and consensus-based decision making.

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

Here’s something I thought I’d never have to confront at The Wild Hunt, writing about the high-profile mental meltdown of a famous television and film actor. Yet, here we are. Charlie “Tiger Blood” Sheen is having his Britney moment, and the gossip bloggers, mainstream press, artists, and various musicians are having field day. But like all good/bad things in the press, there are diminishing returns, people get bored of the cries for attention, and the ever-hungry celebrity press must constantly look for new angles to keep their latest hot mess story suitably warm until the next controversy explodes. Enter the Warlock. Celebrity gossip super-site TMZ has zeroed in on Salem’s Witchy impresario Christian Day, who has been on a recent kick to reclaim the term “Warlock”, and is offended by Sheen’s cavalier usage of the term in his semi-coherent ramblings.

Salem’s Coven of the Raven Moon in Salem, Massachusetts told us he’s “fuming” over the statement because it’s a “blatant offense against our ways.” The warlock — named Christian Day  tells us he plans to take action against the actor … not legal action — but magical action.  Day explains, “I am going to magically bind Mr. Sheen, not to harm him, but to simply prevent him from using this word in such a negative manner in the future.”

As goes TMZ, so goes the Boston Herald, the Daily Telegraph (in Australia), and host of smaller blogs and news outlets. Star Foster at Patheos.com immediately recognizes why Day might pick this moment to be offended, even if it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of other Pagans.

“So why is Christian upset? Because his going to TMZ in a state of indignation resembles the type of publicity stunts that have caused many of us to distance ourselves from folks like Kevin Carlyon. His story in TMZ does our community no good. We derive no benefit from it. This story hurts the Pagan community while increasing Christian’s flash and pizazz. Maybe Christian wants to be Occult Advisor to the Stars! Yet he’s effectively alienated a large number of folks who would have supported him prior to this shenanigan.”

But while Star invokes the wearer of the red bathrobe, Day’s particular media pedigree is far closer to (his) home. Salem’s own Laurie Cabot, who once engaged in many of the media-grabbing activities that Day now does. Now that Laurie is semi-retired, it seems natural that someone would choose to fill that void. I have little doubt that Christian is having the time of his life.

However, if we’re really looking for something to be offended by in Charlie Sheen’s recent behavior, should it really be him nattering on about being a “Vatican assassin warlock”, or is it something that has (literally) been paraded right in front of our eyes for weeks now? Jo Piazza at PopEater offers an op-ed about Sheen’s “goddesses”, the two young women who now share the star’s house and bed.

“Watch any of Sheen’s live interviews in his posh Hollywood estate and you will see one of his two goddesses, Natty, a bikini model, and Rach (also known as Bree, her porn name) […] Sheen refers to these ladies as his goddesses, often with a sly smirk. […] On ‘The Howard Stern Show’ Tuesday morning, Sheen revealed the sleeping arrangement he has worked out with the goddesses, whereby they each sleep in their own beds in the same room. When he is ready to retire, Charlie enters the room like a monarch and chooses between the two. We wonder which one sighs in relief. Particularly insulting in this entire scenario is the use of the term goddess, a typically sacred title used to refer to a woman who is treated with special reverence.”

Piazza also quotes Cooper Lawrence, author of ‘Cult of Celebrity’, who notes that Sheen treats women like interchangeable sexual objects, while calling them “goddesses”, inverting  “a term that women use to embrace power.” If we Pagans really want to be upset at Charlie Sheen, if we feel some great urging to jump into the celebrity news grinder, I’d much rather it be over his degradation of that word than of “warlock.” For any family of faiths that see the divine as feminine, a man who has spent years violently abusing women should not be seen as a joke, or an opportunity to gain the spotlight. We should instead point out that these are the fruits of substance abuse mixed with unchained patriarchal power. That, in my mind, is the most offensive thing about Sheen’s meltdown.