Archives For Christina Oakley Harrington

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

WH2014_BIG

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

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

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

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

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

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Cara Schulz

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

In Other News:

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

That is all for now.  Have a great day.

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!

10171823_657991900922656_4489060788986826316_nOn June 25th in New York City, a “Night of The Witch” will take place, featuring talks from Christina Oakley Harrington of Treadwell’s Books in London, and Pam Grossman, an expert on the occult in Western art who co-hosted of the 2013 Occult Humanities Conference at NYU. Grossman’s talk will be on the figure of the witch in modern art, while Harrington will focus on British Witchcraft from the 1950s through the 1970s. Quote: “British Witchraft revived in the 1950s and 1960s. To the horror and fascination of the English press and public, some of these witches gave interviews and even allowed secret rites to be photographed. They wanted the world to know a non-Christian basis of ethics, a radical concept of the sacred, and the power of altered states of consciousness. Both tradition-based and forward-thinking, they were paradoxical. Tonight’s speaker comes from the UK Wiccan community, and brings these characters to life and shares insights into their vision of the Craft.” Tickets for the event at the Meta Center can be bought here.

Pagan activist Patrick McCollum holding the Earth flag.

Patrick McCollum

Pagan chaplain and activist Patrick McCollum is heading to the United Nations, and will participate in a special session on nuclear disarmament. Here’s an excerpt from a statement put out by McCollum through the Patrick McCollum Foundation. Quote:  “Today I am preparing for my trip to the United Nations on April 29th to participate in a special session on Nuclear Disarmament. I already know several of the key players who will attend and I am looking forward to meeting and creating relationships with several others. H.E. Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt the Permanent Observer for the Holy See (the Pope) will be present and I look forward to meeting him and creating a stronger connection with the Vatican. I have already made connections with several Cardinals and a number if Bishops and am continuing to have conversations toward partnering to address world peace issues.” In a statement sent to press, McCollum added that he is “honored to be in such revered company tackling such an important issue at such a high level,” and that he believes “it is only through partnering with others and including the voices of all concerned, no matter what their race, religion, or culture may be, that we can achieve world peace and create a planet that revers the sacredness of every sentient and non-sentient being!”

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

At Patheos.com, T. Thorn Coyle has announced a new public study-group focusing on the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander. Quote: “I want to use this space for a monthly meeting. A study group. Each month, I want to discuss a chapter of The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. I want us to invoke the Power To Know. There is a call to start a movement to help overturn the devastation of the War on Drugs and mass incarceration through the Prison Industrial Complex. But before we start a movement, we have to know what we are up against. The prison industrial complex and the war on drugs have infiltrated every community in the U.S. They have changed our thinking, and how we build culture. Our assumptions are as unchallenged as the water we drink or the air we breathe. We barely notice they’ve become toxic. I am a Pagan and a Magic Worker. In my experience, everything in life and magic, every act of honoring the Gods or Goddesses, every encounter with our planet’s moon, or an apple tree has this in common: we are called into relationship. Our religious and spiritual practices ask us to deepen these relationships. To re-connect. To re-member.” For those wanting to buy the book from a local, Pagan-owned, source, Fields Books has agreed to stock the title for this initiative. Discussion posts will go up the fourth Wednesday of each month at Patheos.com.

In Other Pagan Community News: 

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  • On a related note, a group of Pagans have founded the Council of The Phoenix (Facebook page), which seeks to address abuse within the Pagan community. Quote: “Every 15 seconds abuse takes place in America, and it is happening in the Pagan community at large. Abuse, whether physical, psychological and emotional as well as sexual abuse is the most under reported phenomenon in our society. It is high time for it to end at our gatherings and festivals. There is too much silence and turning a blind eye about this! We must strive to be violence free and never commit, condone, or stay silent about any act of violence.”
  • Holly Allender Kraig, the widow of author and teacher Donald Michael Kraig, who passed away in March, has posted an update to note that the campaign to help offset funeral and medical costs raised over $15,000 dollars. Quote: “Because of you being you, we were able to raise over $15,522.00!!! I am humbled, honored and blessed by all your love and support.” Kraig noted that a memorial service is still being planned, and will feature a ceremony written by Donald Michael Kraig during the struggle against cancer that claimed his life.
  • The second book in Raymond Buckland’s Bram Stoker Mysteries series will be published on October 7th of this year. You can pre-order “Dead for a Spell” at Amazon.com now. The first book, “Cursed in the Act,” is out now. While Buckland is no doubt an accomplished novelist, he’s best known within modern Pagan communities as one of the people responsible for bringing Gardnerian Wicca to the United States, and publishing several instructional books relating to religious Witchcraft.
  • Cherry Hill Seminary’s 2014 Hypatia Day Drive is winding up, they’ve raised nearly $12,000 dollars toward their goal of $17,000 dollars. Quote: “It’s been a busy spring, and a great many of you have helped us raise an amazing $11,842!  That’s a just over $5,000 away from our goal.  Remember that those who join during this 2014 Hypatia Day Drive will receive a lovely Hypatia altar/desk card. But best of all, you will be investing in the finest education for Pagans available. Click here to join or renew your membership to The Hypatia Society.”
  • Aidan Kelly, who blogs at the Patheos.com Pagan portal, has published a new book entitled “A Tapestry of Witches: A History of the Craft in America, Volume I.” Quote: “I have released the first volume of the history for which I began gathering data about 30 years ago. It covers from 1893 up to the mid-1970s. There were Witches before Gardnerian Witchcraft was introduced to America by Raymond Buckland, and there still are. The relationship between these two varieties is still a matter for active discussion. The book contains several hundred footnotes, mostly documenting the Wiccan and Pagan periodicals from which I gleaned the data about the existence of covens, nests, groves, etc. Hence I am not releasing it as an e-book, because the footnotes would be mangled in that format.” 

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!

with_love_from_salemA documentary focusing on the Temple of Nine Wells, and the lives of Richard and Gypsy Ravish, entitled “With Love From Salem,” has announced that they’ve nearly completed the project. Quote: “I had the privilege of seeing some footage of this documentary, currently nearing completion, and to say it is phenomenal is an understatement. A beautiful, evocative and magical film – not to mention visually and emotionally stunning. Get ready to see something amazing.” Richard Ravish was one of the original “Witches of Salem,” and passed away in 2012 at the age of 59. Amy “Gypsy” Ravish is a popular Pagan singer-songwriter known for her albums “Enchantress” and “Spirit Nation.” I’m very much looking forward to a new Pagan-centered documentary, and will update you here once there’s screening/release information.

Erynn Rowan Laurie

Erynn Rowan Laurie

As mentioned previously here, Erynn Rowan Laurie, author of “A Circle of Stones,” recently won for best poetry collection at the Bisexual Book Awards (photos of the ceremony here). On her return, she announced at her official Facebook page that she’s considering a move to Italy, motivated in part by recent health issues. Quote: “As with so many other things in my life, I realized I could either let circumstance defeat me, or I could try to work it so that I could turn it into something interesting. If I’m going to be robbed of my ability to drive, why not have an adventure in a place where walking is normal? It won’t mean that nobody will ever see me again. The internet still exists, after all. I’m very likely to try to fly back to the US for PantheaCon every year, and try to visit Seattle once a year as well.” We here at The Wild Hunt wish Erynn all the best no matter where she goes, and any nation she moves to will be all the richer for her presence. Good luck! Oh, and speaking of the Bisexual Book Awards, they can apparently get you stopped at the Canadian border and held for several hours.

Christina Oakley Harrington

Christina Oakley Harrington

Acclaimed London esoteric book store Treadwells has announced the launch of a brand-new, more robust, website. Included is an extensive resources section headed by Treadwells founder, Christina Oakley Harrington. For example, individuals new to Paganism can find several introductory essays about Paganism in general, and about Paganism in the UK in particular. Quote: “The pages below are designed to be clear, direct and authoritative. The pages on  groups and events direct you to the more established resources, though there are many more that can be found in local communities.” Harrington notes that “if you feel like lookng round the site, it’s got lots of other sections, too. We’ve been working hard on it for ages and hope you all find it useful.” Treadwell’s recently held a number of talks and events in conjunction with the I:MAGE esoteric arts exhibition reported on recently at The Wild Hunt.

Sabina Magliocco at the Conference on Current Pagan Studies. (Photo: Tony Mierzwicki)

Sabina Magliocco

Chas Clifton reports that Dr. Sabina Magliocco, Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Northridge, and author of “Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America” is launching a new research project on individual’s spiritual relationship with animals. Quote: “The purpose of this study is to understand how we imagine our relationship to animals, how we incorporate animals into our spiritual or religious beliefs, and how this may motivate our actions in the everyday world.” You can take the survey, here. At the survey page Magliocco elaborates on benefits of the study: “This research could shed light on how people come to imagine themselves as part of an interconnected community that includes domestic and wild animals, and develop feelings that lead them to want to protect, defend and care for both domestic and wild animals. It may also reveal areas in which individuals diverge from the theological teachings of their religion as a result of their personal experiences with animals. Findings could be useful in developing educational programs for children and young people that foster sustainability.” Again, the survey link.

pagan_history_projectThe Pagan History Project (PHP) initiated with a soft launch this week on Facebook, with a full website to follow soon. An oral history project created to “collect, store, share and preserve the history of the American Pagan Movement,” co-founder Murtagh AnDoile said the scope of the project would be broad. Quote: “We are using “Pagan” in its broadest sense, encompassing: Witchcraft , Traditional and other, Wicca, Heathenry, Druidry, various Reconstructionisms, Magical Lodges, etc. All the groups and traditions and paths that make up the American Occult/Magical/Pagan movement from the early days ( the 1930s, 40’s 50’s…) to present. We are focusing on everything and everyone pre-1995 at this time, due to our aging population.” Initial interviews have already been conducted, and an informational packet instructing those interested on how to participate in their local communities and festivals will be released soon. Wild Hunt staffer Rynn Fox has been following the development of this project, and will be filing a report soon.

In Other Community News: 

Temple of Witchcraft at Boston Pride.

Temple of Witchcraft at Boston Pride.

  • I love seeing pictures of Pagan organizations marching in LGBTQ Pride parades, so be sure to check out the Temple of Witchcraft’s Facebook page, where they’ve posted several photos of their involvement with the Boston Pride Parade. Quote from ToW co-founder Steve Kenson: “Thank you to all who came out to march and represent for the pagans in Saturday’s Boston GLBT Pride parade and to those who cheered us on! The gods rewarded us with a clear and warm day after a grey and wet morning. Many thanks and blessings!”
  • As was indirectly mentioned in my installment of Pagan Voices earlier this week, the Patheos Pagan Channel has launched a new group interfaith blog entitled “Wild Garden: Pagans in the Growing Interfaith Landscape.” Quote: “Interfaith involvement looks much like a wild garden. A tangle of contradictions, surprises, delights and sometimes disappointments, one must walk carefully. But the risk is rewarded richly, often in ways one could never have seen coming.” Good luck on the new blog! 
  • Also at Patheos, the Pagan Families blog interviews Tara “Masery” Miller about the process of “adopting while Pagan.” Quote: “The Missouri Family and Children’s Services, a government agency, intention to adopt form illegally asked what our religion was. Just as I suspected. I was aware it was illegal because my atheist friend had sent me plenty of references on religion and adoption. Well, instead of blatantly saying I’m Pagan and my husband’s a mage, I said we are spiritual and I belong to the Unitarian Universalist Church! And sometimes we attend a Methodist Church. Which is true. My mother is a lay minister!” That quote is from part two of the interview, here.
  • The Summer Solstice is coming up, and Llewellyn is holding a Twitter party to celebrate! Quote: “The beginning of June marks shorts days, grill days, and summer hours for our luckly Llewellyn employees–but it’s not very fair that you don’t get to participate, is it? So we want you to join us in a summer celebration! We are hosting our second annual Solstice Twitter party! […] Use the hashtag #moonchat in your party tweets. We’ll tweet the questions, you’ll tweet the answers, and we’ll chat!” There are going to be prize giveaways for participants, so if you’re stuck in an office that day, why not? 
  • In a final note for all our Trad-Wiccan friends out there (and you know who you are), June 13th is Geraldmas! The celebration of Gerald Gardner, the father of modern religious Witchcraft (born June 13th, 1884). I think it’s a great idea to have a day where BTW groups do a day of outreach and socializing. Are you having a Geraldmas celebration in your area this year? 

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

As I mentioned earlier this month, from May 19th through the 25th London will host an international collection of esoteric artists in a special exhibition“I:MAGE,” sponsored by Fulgur Esoterica (publisher of the Abraxas journal). Boasting an impressive lineup of artists, both classic and contemporary, I:MAGE promises to bring more attention to esoteric art and show how these creative individuals collectively work towards the “externalization of the mythical.” 

"Hairesis" by Francesco Parisi

“Hairesis” by Francesco Parisi

“Ranging from the work of women pioneers such as Ithell Colquhoun and Steffi Grant, to the dark symbolist themes of Agostino Arrivabene and Denis Forkas Kostromitin, to the contemporary audio-visual practices of NOKO, I:MAGE promises to be a landmark exhibition.”

In speaking with Fulgur Esoterica about the show, they offered to send me some thoughts on the exhibition from two of the participating artists, Jesse Bransford and Francesco Parisi, in addition to insights from Christina Oakley Harrington, co-Editor of Abraxas, and Director of Treadwells esoteric book store in London (which will be hosting a range of talks, presentations, and discussions during the exhibition). I have long felt that esoteric fine art deserves more attention, so it is was my pleasure to accept their kind offer and now share the resulting communications with you here.

Christina Oakley Harrington

Christina Oakley Harrington

Christina Oakley Harrington: “The art world is waking up to the inner realities of its artists, and to the fact that for many centuries, right through modernism, many artists have been profoundly influenced by esoteric ideas and have worked intimately through (and with) occult symbolism. Medieval art history includes the study of iconography and symbolic programmes, but artists of more recent centuries have received no such attention, until the past ten years.  Even the surrealists, some of whose work is profoundly occult, have had their imagery largely overlooked or treated in solely personal terms.

The trends of 20th century art-history and art criticism meant there have been 80 years of writing on art which concentrates not on the inner experience of the artist, or of their symbolic language, but rather on form and materials. This is now changing, and it is very exciting indeed.

Austin Osman Spare

Austin Osman Spare

Recent art exhibitions have highlighted this change: in Paris at the Centre Pompidou in 2009, and at the Tate in Cornwall the following year, to name but two. We can also see it in the revived interest by the art world in Austin Osman Spare, whose work defies comprehension without an appreciation of his inner, esoteric philosophy and his ideas about magic.

When my dear friend Robert Ansell and I launched Abraxas Journal, it was not only to showcase contemporary occult artists to a wider artistic market, and also to bring esoteric fine art to the attention of the pagan community. This exhibition, which Robert is putting on with his company Fulgur Fine Art, is part of this shared vision. He’s putting on the show at a gallery next door to Treadwells, and we hope people will wander between the two spaces. Fugur have the paintings, and Treadwells are holding talks, lectures and a couple filmings. Of course we’re a bookshop, so we’re open all day for book-buying too.

Robert and I both feel that making art is a magical act, a talismanic act, as much as preparing a spell. In fact, it IS the creation of a spell. A spell enchants, it brings closer non-tangible realities to the textured body of our senses. So too does a painting. It makes real here something that is real elsewhere, invisibly.  

One of the aims of I:MAGE exhibition, and of our journal Abraxas, is to make pagans realise how gifted magical people are, even in terms of high culture. Pagans are often associated with pop culture and with charming illustration of the sort one finds on fantasy paperbacks. This is great of course, but what we are keen to show is that we, creative pagans, are everywhere – Pagans for a long time have been making paintings hang in the world’s leading art galleries, that are found framed walls of stately homes, that are in the collections of fine art collectors, are autioned at Sothebys. We just haven’t realised it.

Today there are younger working artists who are pagan in sensibility, and inflused with a magical world view. Some are well-known: Mark Titchner, for example, was on the prestigious British Turner Prize shortlist for his paintings which were in fact actually charged magical sigils. Some are less well-known but are fantastic. I:MAGE will be showcasing some of the brightest of these, and displaying their art next to some very well-known magical artists’ pieces, including Spare.

Jesse Bransford, detail of The Fourth Pyramid, 2013, Dimensions variable, Tempera paint on wall and floor, panels and paper, Installation at Galveston Artist Residency.

Jesse Bransford, detail of The Fourth Pyramid, 2013, Dimensions variable, Tempera paint on wall and floor, panels and paper, Installation at Galveston Artist Residency.

Jesse Bransford: “I came to the magical traditions as a young artist. I had been working with images from the traditions and had exposure to some of the visual aspects (you can’t get an art degree without at least hearing about the golden section). I was also studying the history of science and technology. This field led me to magic as the birthplace of science. As I became more interested in the history of magic (through scholars like Frances Yates, Michael Taussig etc.) I also began reading ‘primary sources.’ This led quickly to places like Fulgur, which I knew of from afar for many years. As time went on I became more involved, and my work became more explicit in it’s reference to and use of the magical traditions I was studying. Magic as a practice and metaphor binds all of my interests in art and life together and has enabled my work to expand into previously unimagined territories.”

Detail from "Pantocrator," a woodcut by Francesco Parisi.

Detail from “Pantocrator,” a woodcut by Francesco Parisi.

Francesco Parisi: “My art tries to focus on the corporeal, the material and the more grounding aspects of experience. I have grown up in a city where transcendental religions looked down on all of that – the pleasure of engraving, the smell of wood, the focus on the image represented. We all know how it goes, the flesh is sinful and the aim is to rise high up above it. That’s why I have explored a Dionysian theme for over ten years of my life. I guess I used it as a way to break free from that moral constriction. Day after day, for ten years, this was my ritual: sweat, hands on artisan work, focusing on the moment of creation rather than hoping for the moment of salvation. My art really isn’t about going up but about staying down and enjoying every moment of it.

I:MAGE marks a very important moment for me as an artist: it represents the possibility to display my work in front of a  public who will be able to competently engage with the message I want to put across, who know what it means to pick up a bowl and offer its content to the gods.”

The opening of I:MAGE is this Sunday, the 19th, from 12-8.30pm at Store Street Gallery in London. If you are anywhere in the vicinity, you owe it to yourself to see this show. You can find out more details at the I:MAGE exhibition site. In addition, Abraxas will be publishing a special edition of its celebrated journal for the show, which is a nice added incentive considering the quality of that publication.

The act of artistic creation is a sacred thing, one that has endured and journeyed into the secular temples we now call galleries and museums. Throughout history art and ritual praxis have melded to create lasting impressions and seismic shifts in our collective culture. We understand our experience through the results of creative process, and we deny this truth at our peril. Many artists already walk a liminal path, veering between the seen and unseen, making them essential guides to the otherworld, to what we call the “esoteric.” They remind us that the mythic is happening right here, right now, not in some distant past. The striving for excellence in the fine arts is a sign of health within any culture, religious or secular, and the nurturing of art should be a key ideal for modern Pagans. This show, I:MAGE, seems to be an important step in that journey.

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

Christina Oakley-Harrington

Christina Oakley-Harrington

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

I’m very pleased to present a lecture by Christina Oakley Harrington, founder of Treadwell’s Bookshop in London, a former Pagan Federation Committee member, and a former university lecturer in History. The talk: “Paganism in Britain Today: Observations, Issues, Trends” takes a snapshot of Pagan thinking and theology today.

“Why are some pagans saying Paganism is not a religion? For the Pagans who identify as Witches, is there any liminality left to them? Is the Goddess an oppressive concept, if gender is not binary, as science suggests? What’s the role of mystery in an information age? Pagans in 2011 engage with these issues, consciously or unconsciously; tonight’s speaker surveys the main areas of contention and challenge within Paganism today.”

This lecture was recorded at Treadwell’s on Thursday, July 28th. You can download the audio file of the entire talk, here. I’d like to thank Dr. Harrington for sharing her knowledge and expertise with my audience. If you are ever in London, few places surpass Treadwell’s for events and lectures appealing to modern Pagans and occultists, so do look them up.

A few quick news notes to start your morning.

Pagan Japan Relief Project a Success: As of this writing, the Peter Dybing-initiated drive to raise money from within the Pagan community for Doctors Without Borders’ work in Japan has raised nearly $10,000 in three days. Here’s a message from Dybing about the drive that was posted yesterday.

“Pagans from all over the country have donated and stepped forward to endorse the project. We received donations from individuals as well as organizations. To all those who stepped forward THANK YOU. We still have been unable to generate significant numbers of small donations. It continues to be the goal of this project to engage the entire Pagan community in a unified effort. If you are concerned that you do not have the funds to donate consider just a few dollars. Each of us can only do so much in these tough economic times. What is important is participation not the donation amount.”

The Pagan Japan Relief Project is working towards a goal of $30,000, and it looks like this target may be reached sooner than anticipated. Major figures within modern Paganism like Selena Fox, Thorn Coyle, and Starhawk have already been spreading the word on Facebook, and Peter Dybing says that statements from well known Pagans about this effort will published today. This is a hugely positive cooperative effort, one that we can all take pride in. So continue to spread the word, and be sure to read about the work Doctors Without Borders is doing on the ground in Japan.

You can find all The Wild Hunt’s coverage on this issue, here.

ADDENDUM: Please see this update on the Pagan Japan Relief Project from PNC-Minnesota.

More Pagan Voices From Madison: Nels Linde at PNC-Minnesota has posted more interviews with Pagans taking part in protests against anti-union initiatives enacted by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and state Republican lawmakers.

“I’m a teacher and I’m here because I am very passionate about what is wrong with our democracy today. I am a Druid, I have been practicing for about 12 years now, with a group out of the Twin cities. It is very powerful to be here today because the energy is just so intense. There is so much pride and hope. People are coming together, it brings tears. I have already signed my petition to recall my Senator, Sheila Harsdorf, and also for Walker. I am involved in some local community protests, next in Hudson on the bridge, Sunday. I have been through all the emotions, you know, shock, anger, and despair. I’ve cried. You start with one group and target, demonize them and once they are taken out, there is another group. Most Walker supporters do not like non-Christians, so it is very, very scary.”

Nels has been doing amazing and essential work covering Pagan involvement in these protests, and I urge everyone to head over to PNC-Minnesota and catch up on his reports. Here’s his installment on Saturday’s events. More is promised on Thursday.

You can find The Wild Hunt’s previous coverage on this issue, here.

Checking In With Treadwell’s: In a final note, the Guardian interviews Christina Oakley Harrington, proprietor of the well-regarded esoteric bookstore Treadwell’s, about her shop and the unique spirit of London that makes its success possible.

“London is a place for unusual people who need to find other unusual people. Cities are where misfits always go. If you can’t manage in the village with the curtain-twitchers – if you can’t live like that because you’re gay, or you’re massively artistic, or because you have to talk to angels and demons and spirits … Where else are you going to go to find others who might be like you? You go to London. Could Treadwell’s exist anywhere outside of London? No.”

Treadwell’s recently moved to a larger space, the very building where Mary Wollestonecraft wrote Vindication of the Rights of Women. Congratulations to Christina and Treadwell’s on their continued good press!

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

OddcultTV has posted a profile of the acclaimed occult/metaphysical London bookshop, Treadwell’s. Leading the tour of the shop is owner and manager Christina Oakley Harrington.

Back in 2007 I did a blog post on the store where I said (somewhat hopefully) that Treadwell’s raises the standards for future occult-oriented shops. I only wish there was a shop like this near me! When you’re done with that video, you might also want to check out OddcultTV’s other interviews, including one with the Keeper of the Stones at Avebury.

British newspaper The Independent has posted a profile of the esoteric book store Treadwell’s. Author Gary Lachman interviews owner and manager Christina Oakley Harrington, and explores how the shop is transcending the usual conceptions of “occult” book stores.


A customer inside Treadwell’s Bookshop.

“Although you’ll find the usual magical bric-a-brac there … what sets Treadwell’s apart from other occult shops is that, since it opened in 2003, it’s become a centre where people from different backgrounds with an interest in paganism and related subjects can meet and exchange ideas … Regulars at Treadwell’s are as apt to be working on a doctorate as they are on a solstice ritual, or invoking a thesis subject as much as a guardian angel. The nucleus of this pagan salon, which draws in skeptical professors and devout practitioners alike, is Treadwell’s guiding spirit, Christina Oakley Harrington.”

I’m particularly fond of the mission statement for Treadwell’s given by Harrington.

“To provide a place for people who have a spiritual, or occult, or pagan interest, but who don’t want to thrown their brain out the door. A place that can link the pagan and occult world to the world of literature, art, and philosophy. To the thinking world.”

That sure sounds like a place I would enjoy frequenting, too bad it’s on a different continent. But the existence of this new store (opened in 2003) leads us to perhaps hope that expectations and standards are starting to change by those wanting to open occult/Pagan book stores. When most of the mass-market books on magic and Paganism can be easily found at Borders or online, stores catering directly to the Pagan/occult market need to raise the bar and provide something different and more in-depth.

If I simply wanted to buy the latest Llewellyn releases I know I could go to any major book chain and find (or order) them, but it takes a special sort of store to stock the autobiography of Patricia Crowther or a history of British Magick after Crowley. I can only hope this article is an omen for the future, and not an isolated bright spark.