Archives For Circle Sanctuary

[Pagan Community Notes is a feature that appears weekly, highlighting important stories from within our collective Pagan and Heathen communities. If you like this feature, consider donating to The Wild Hunt. Each and every day, you will receive original content, news and commentary, with a focus on Pagans, Heathens and polytheists worldwide. Your support makes it all happen. Every dollar helps. This is your community; TWH is your community news source. Donate today and share our link! Thank you.]

pagan federation TWH – The Pagan Federation has continued using the internet to help support those members and others who are unable to attend live Pagan festivals, workshops, and rituals.This past weekend, the organization’s disabilities team hosted a day long equinox event that included online rituals, talks, and more. Prior to the event, the packed scheduled was posting online. Attendees only needed access to a computer and wi-fi in order to participate.

The festival began with a live opening ritual with Jay Anderson. The group also published the transcript online so her words could be followed. The festival continued on from that point with video introductions to the group’s lead team members, discussions on various Pagan topics, music and ritual, and even a word from the new Pagan Federation president Robin Taylor. Nimue Brown and her family joined the festival to share a chant as part of the Disability Voices Project. The entire event wrapped up with Anderson performing the closing ritual. All of the day’s festivities are currently posted on the Facebook event page.

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mankeybeskin_atlantisLONDON — Llewellyn author and Patheos Pagan Channel editor Jason Mankey recently made a special appearance at Atlantis Bookshop in London to promote his new book, The Witches Athame. Shop owner Geraldine Beskin introduced the workshop by saying that Mankey’s book is “an important and practical book.”

During his two-hour presentation on the history and lore of the athame, Mankey appeared delighted to be presenting his well-researched material in the basement space known as the “Gerald Gardner Room,” the meeting place for Gardner’s own coven. An open discussion followed the talk, and visitors from Canada, England, and the United States were able to compare notes on Wicca-related topics.

Both Beskin and Mankey generously shared anecdotes about their lives within the Craft. Journalist Dodie Graham McKay was in attendance and said, “In a time where much discussion happens on social media, this event provided a rare opportunity to have such conversations in real time.” Atlantis Bookshop was founded in 1922 by occultist Michael Houghton and, as such, has been serving the Pagan, magical, and occult communities for nearly 100 years.

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Circle Sanctuary logo

RENO, Nev. — Monday Sept. 26 marks the 10th anniversary of the American Freedom Rally, which is largely considered to be the turning point in the Pentacle Quest. Held at Reno’s 9/11 memorial, the 2006 rally eventually led to the inclusion of the pentacle on the Veterans Affairs list of authorized emblems.

Circle Sanctuary’s Rev. Selena Fox was at that 2006 rally, along with Roberta Stewart, the widow of the first Wiccan soldier killed in action in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Sgt. Patrick Stewart and Chaplain William Chrystal who, Fox said, “supported the quest for equal rights for Wiccans and other Pagans.”

Rev. Fox will be honoring the work done on the Pentacle Quest as well as marking the 10th anniversary date “with a series of events in coming months.” On Tuesday, she will be speaking more about the quest and the upcoming celebratory events on her podcast.

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tuatha deaGATLINBURG, Tenn. — Reverbnation currently places Pagan band Tuatha Dea at the top of its Celtic music charts worldwide.The band was excited to learn the news but remained modest, saying, “It probably means nothing but it is interesting.” However, their fans and friends demonstrated their excitement over the ranking. Author Alex Bledsoe said, “It means that the word’s getting out about how awesome the band is!”

Some of Tuatha Dea’s music was inspired by Bledsoe’s Tufa series, and the band just finished co-hosting a Tufa Tour weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The weekend promised to help attendees “experience firsthand the magic of the Appalachian fae.” Over the three day weekend, the band performed, participated in a Q&A with Bledsoe, and hosted a drum circle and workshop.

Following Tuatha Dea on the Reverb Celtic charts is the Ogham Stones, the American Rogues, Lexington Field, and Ida Elena.

In Other News

  • Reclaiming will be hosting a special social justice ritual Oct 2. in Los Angeles, Calif. The groups writes, “With the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis as our guide – the great lady of magic – we will summon the element of water to wear down injustice drip by drip by drip.” Reclaiming, originating in San Francisco in 1975, is the same group that initiated the letter of support to the Great Sioux Nation in their work to protect the land from pipeline construction. It is the Los Angeles-based Reclaiming group that is hosting this Oct. ritual.
  • Author and Witch David Salisbury has a new book being released Sept. 30. The title is A Mystic Guide to Cleansing & Clearing and, as he explains, it “takes a new approach at the practice of cleansing and clearing.” Salisbury is most known for his book Teen Spirit Wicca and his work in the D.C. area working with a younger generation of Pagans.
  • After more than five years of study and work, Shai Feraro received his doctorate from Tel Aviv University’ School of Historical Studies. Feraro is a friend of the Pagan Federation International and a regular speaker at PAEAN‘s online biannual conference. At past events, he has lectured on topics such as Pagan community-building in Israel. However, Feraro’s focus and academic work were not based on his experiences in Israel. Feraro’s dissertation is titled: The Priestess, the Witch, and the Women’s Movement: Women and Gender Issues in British Magical and Pagan Groups, c. 1888 – c. 1988. He said, “It was an amazing — albeit at times arduous — stage in my journey within academia.” He noted that the dissertation will be available in book form in the near future.
  • On that same note, the Pagan Academic European Associates Network (PAEAN) will be hosting the next conference Nov 7. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 7. This event’s theme is spiritual pilgrimage in its many forms. The keynote speaker is Dr. Thomas Clough Daffern, philosopher, educator, and peace studies specialist.
  • From the blogosphere, Greybeard contemplates the presence of magic in contemporary society as found in mainstream advertising. “Magic has always been part of religion and while some argue that our culture has become more secular over the past few centuries, it could be suggested that the infusion of magic into business and politics balances this, although not usually in a good way.”
  • And, finally, it is Banned Book Week and organizations around the world are celebrating the freedom to read. Take a look at some of the books listed by the Smithsonian in their special exhibit, “Banned Books that Shaped America.” Is one of your favorites on it?

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TWH – Today marks Memorial Day in the United States. It is a day to honor the many men and women who have died in military service. According to a news report on ABC, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans together state that at least “1.2 million people have died fighting for America during its wars dating back 241 years.” The VA has a breakdown of the losses per conflict since the American Revolution.

In a recent post, blogger John Beckett wrote, “Let us remember our warrior dead. Let us remember those who answered the call to do what had to be done and who sacrificed all they had. It is right and good to celebrate their courage and valor.”

[Photo Credit: Rodrigo Paredes / Flickr]

[Photo Credit: Rodrigo Paredes / Flickr]

Many Pagans, Heathens and polytheists have served and are serving in the U.S. miltiary, and still others are members of military families. Memorial Day has a special significance to them. Veteran and Wiccan Priest, Blake Kirk said,

Memorial Day isn’t about veterans like me, who got to come home and go on with their lives. No, Memorial Day is supposed to be all about the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who came home in caskets or in body bags. Or who never came home at all, like my father-in-law. They paid the highest possible price to defend this nation, and it trivializes their sacrifice not to make their one day a year just about them.

As with those in other religious groups, members of our collective communities have also given their lives in service, and because of the efforts of others, their sacrifices can be recognized and honored within military circles using the religious emblem of their choice, including the pentacle and Thor’s hammer.

[Photo Credit: John C. Hamer / Flickr]

[Photo Credit: John C. Hamer / Flickr]

The year marks the 9th anniversary of the victory of the Pentacle Quest. In 2007, Circle Sanctuary’s Rev. Selena Fox wrote, “Working together, we, at last, have success in this quest – and in the greater quest for equal rights for Wiccans, Witches, and other Pagans in the United States of America and around the world.”

In 2013, when Thor’s hammer was approved by the department of Veterans Affairs, a number of Heathen groups released celebratory statements. The following words came from Hrafnar:

Today, Hrafnar stands with Heathens across the US in pride as the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs has approved the Thor’s Hammer as an emblem to put on the headstones of fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. The greater acceptance of our faith anywhere is a victory for all of us, regardless of whatever other differences we may have.

The group also said, “Today, Hrafnar […] stands with Heathens across the US in sorrow: such recognition can only be made after the death of one who has been sworn to that service. The death of one of us is a loss for us all, regardless of whatever other differences we may have. Hail the fallen! Hail the Heathens!”

The modern military experience can be part of the modern Pagan, Heathen and polytheist experience. Those who are wounded and die in service to our country are not an anonymous “other” removed from our society and daily lives. They are us.

We honor our Pagan, Heathen and polytheist brothers and sisters who have fallen in the line of duty. As said by Hrafnar, “The death of one of us is a loss for us all.”

[Public Domain]

[Public Domain]

In 2011, Solar Cross Temple’s T. Thorn Coyle wrote, “I have inadequate words for those who have died in this endless war humanity is waging upon itself and upon the earth and the other beings of the earth. All I can do is send out compassion in my meditation and my prayers today for those involved on any side…”

The New York Times published an article describing military photographer Andrew Lichtenstein’s journey to capture, or recapture, the meaning behind the Memorial Day holiday, which he felt “has been largely reduced to a day of sales, sleeping in, or go out.”  That article, titled When Every Day is Memorial Day, shares some of his experiences attending military funerals and memorial services.  At the end, Lichtenstein says, “I learned something from the families: The true cost of grief is beyond politics. It was important to realize an individual life had been lost and people were greatly affected. That loss is so much greater than agreeing or disagreeing with [the] war.”

Pagans and Heathens around the country will be observing this day in both private and public spaces. At Arlington National Cemetery, Circle Sanctuary Ministers Jeanet & David Ewing led the 7th Annual Visitation of Pentacle Markers at noon today. And Circle Sanctuary has also created a Facebook page titled Memorial Day Remembrances, inviting people to post remembrances of those loved ones who were killed in US military service.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
– Laurence Binyon, “For the Fallen,” originally published in The Times, 1914

What is remembered, lives!

TWH — Chaplains tend to work in places where religious needs are felt strongly: military bases, prisons, hospitals. In the past, The Wild Hunt has spotlighted some of the work of Pagan prison and military chaplains, but it is the hospital chaplains that most people are likely to encounter at some point in their lives. As the need for Pagan Chaplains grow, more people are doing this very specialized work. Cherry Hill Seminary, a Pagan-specific learning institution, and other interfaith-based seminaries have well-established programs and classes that train people in this area.

We reached out to a number of Pagans who work are working as chaplains in the health care field, and we received responses from four members of Circle Sanctuary. Rev. Selena Fox aired a podcast focusing on hospital chaplains just a few weeks ago, which includes in-depth discussions with several such chaplains affiliated with Circle Sanctuary. Michelle Castle and Tiffany Andes are both studying health care chaplaincy at Iliff School of Theology, and will soon hold Masters of Divinity degrees. Fox’s own experience as a public Pagan minister predates Pagans serving in official capacities, and she’s had to develop a wide variety of ministerial skills as a consequence of being a pioneer. Additionally, we spoke with Cernowain Greenman (Rev. Tim Staker), who is reportedly the only full-time Pagan hospital chaplain who is board certified.

[Photo Credit: youtube]

[Photo Credit: rolensfx / youtube]

The Wild Hunt: Prison and military chaplains have experience in working with specific populations. What is unique about the hospital population, and the needs you’re asked to serve there?

Rev. Selena Fox: I have done ministry service in prisons, at military installations, on campuses, at hospices, and in a variety of healthcare settings as part of my work through Circle Sanctuary. . . . In addition to providing direct spiritual care to those in need in various institutions, part of my work today involves doing diversity education and Pagan religious accommodation training with chaplains and administrative staff in various types of institutions.

Each category of institutional setting has its own types of protocols and considerations. It is essential in doing spiritual care in an institutional setting that you learn about the system and its regulations and that you abide by them.

In doing work in a hospital setting, in addition to providing support to a patient and interfacing with staff, it is common to also connect with the patient’s support network of family & friends. Both the patient and her/his loved ones are usually impacted by the hospitalization and in need of spiritual care. When I do ministry in a prison or military installation, rarely do I connect with loved ones of those there.

Tiffany Andes: Hospital populations are unique in that their needs can vary greatly, but are also almost always directly related to health concerns. Either they are in an inpatient situation of some sort, or they may be receiving long-term treatment for cancer or other similar cases. The questions and concerns that come up around these criteria generally have to do with managing illness, family connections, trauma, and in some cases, moving into hospice and end of life situations. As a chaplain you have to be open to holding space for those discussions and being a companion to patients and their families without judgement during some of the most stressful times in their lives.

Michelle Castle: Hospital chaplaincy is unique in that we are able to be present for individuals, families, and staff during times of physical crisis. Care is variable depending on whether the crisis is acute and emergent, or if they have been dealing with long-term illness. We also are in the midst of all stages of life, being present when life comes into the world and at the end of life.

Cernowain Greenman: By definition, chaplains are clergy to people who have been displaced from their home, whether because of military deployment, illness, prison, education at university, government service, etc.

Hospital chaplains serve the spiritual needs of people who find themselves in medical institutions because of a serious illness or injury. Patients can be lonely, afraid, anxious, frustrated, angry, etc., and often without emotional support. They are sometimes disconnected from their spiritual family as well, missing ritual gatherings and in need of spiritual support. Chaplains are specially trained spiritual leaders who help facilitate the meeting of these needs.

TWH: Given how important it is for a chaplain to be able to serve someone of any religion, how important is it to have Pagan hospital chaplains specifically?

SF: Those serving as a chaplain in institutional settings, regardless of their religious orientation and religious organization endorsement, need to be skilled in communicating with and providing support to those of different religions as well as those who consider themselves spiritual and not religious and those who are humanist, atheist, agnostic and/or freethinkers.

However, it is important to have Pagans in chaplaincy work for several reasons: (1) to be available to share information as needed about Pagan religions/spirituality to other chaplains and staff in an institution that may providing support to Pagan patients and/or Pagan family and friends of a patient and may be interacting with Pagan ministers visiting patient and loved ones, (2) to help Pagans not in the hospital understand effective ways of working with hospital systems as a whole and chaplains and spiritual care staff in particular in getting needs met for themselves and loved ones when the need arises, (3) to diversity and educate the profession of chaplaincy in an increasingly pluralistic world, and (4) to help Paganism achieve equal rights and respect in society as a whole.

TA: Having Pagan hospital chaplains speaks to the higher goal of true interfaith representation within institutionalized ministry. While it can be argued that chaplains of any faith should be able to serve patients regardless of faith orientation, the fact remains that as a minority faith Pagans still feel stigmatized in many common societal settings. Having chaplain representation in such an important location emphasizes equality among faith traditions.

MC: I think that Tiffany answered this question beautifully.

CG: While many chaplains are willing and able to provide emotional support to Pagan patients, if the chaplain is Christian or of another faith, they usually are unable to meet the spiritual needs of a Pagan, since they lack the understanding of Pagan spirituality and ritual. A Pagan chaplain can understand and help meet the spiritual needs of other Pagans much better than non-Pagan chaplains.

The Pagan community has grown to a point where many find themselves hospitalized, sometimes far from home, and in need of spiritual support. Pagan hospital chaplains are needed now, especially for Pagan patients.

TWH: What do you do if you’re completely unfamiliar with the religion of a new patient? Is it different if the unfamiliar religion is a Pagan one?

SF: When I worked as a psychotherapist in a hospital and in an outpatient mental health clinic and had a new patient, I invited the patient to share religious, spiritual, and/or philosophical perspectives and orientation as part of intake. I used the same approach whether the patient was Pagan or not.

TA: In the majority of cases, if a patient has a specific religious request (communion, priestly sacraments, etc) the requests will go directly to the representative of that denomination. In general settings, you may come across a religion that isn’t common, but one that we have received education on and we are familiar with. If I need clarification I always ask the patient how I can best serve them–is it through prayer, reflective meditation, chanting, etc? Would they prefer I put them in contact with a community representative of their own faith? I have yet to come across a Pagan patient that I could not connect with or assist in some way to meet their spiritual needs.

MC: I consider this to be an opportunity to learn, and that even when we are familiar with a specific religion or tradition, that each person has their own unique beliefs and values within the traditions. I love to learn more about how others experience their faith and as a chaplain, I am able to be present to listen to how one processes a crisis and how that intersects with their faith. For me being able to be present to one and meeting them where they are is important and I can find points of connection with any tradition.

CG: When I meet new patients, as I am talking with them, I do what is called a spiritual assessment to determine the patient’s sources of inner strength, how they make meaning of their illness, and what resources they have to help them through this difficult time in their lives. I help them get in touch with whatever it is that strengthens their spirit—which may or may not be religious.

I keep a number of apps on my phone of different religious traditions to help me—from rosary prayers to recitations of the Qur’an to Buddhist meditation timers. For Pagans I have apps that utilize Tarot, Runes, bird songs and Nature sounds, and even one for candle lighting (since most hospitals do not allow real candles to be lit). But I also have battery candles, as well as a collection of healing stones. In addition, I have created printable booklets with words of encouragement for a dozen different faiths, including one for followers of Earth-based religions. If I am unable to meet specific religious needs, I will invite a religious leader from the community to come in to help, with the patient’s permission.

Most importantly, I also offer to be a supportive companion with patients in their healing journey, no matter what spiritual path they are on.

[Photo Credit: Ahs856 / Wikimedia]

[Photo Credit: Ahs856 / Wikimedia]

TWH: Are you prepared in case you are yourself unexpectedly hospitalized?

SF: My hospital ministry work has helped me prepare for hospitalizations, anticipated as well as unexpected for me and for loved ones. I have been able to take my understanding of healthcare systems to get my needs as a Pagan accommodated, such having a small healing altar in my hospital room & having soothing Pagan Celtic harp recording played during an operation. I also have been able to interface with the spiritual care department at the hospital to make certain that ritual with friends could happen in my room.

TA: I was in fact unexpectedly hospitalized in July of last year for a week. I refused any visits from the chaplain’s office.

MC: I have a great support group, from family and close friends that I can reach out to if I am in need. I feel that being in the healthcare field for many years, that I am uniquely prepared from the medical aspects of care, having a living will and directives. I know how to navigate the healthcare system as well as how to incorporate my specific spiritual needs.

CG: I have an altar at home that can be taken in to the hospital with relative ease, if I were to be hospitalized for a lengthy period. And I have in my contacts phone numbers of local Pagan friends, some who are clergy, for my support. When I have been registered as a patient, I let the hospital clerk know my spiritual preference is Wiccan and ask that my beliefs be respected since my spirituality is my main resource for getting well.

TWH: Could you describe what you’ve done to prepare for your own spiritual wellbeing?

SF: For those of us involved in ministering to others, it is essential that we also do spiritual care for ourselves. For me this includes beginning each day with a series of spiritual practices. I reflect on dreams and I do a Greet the Day Sacred Circle, Sacred Sphere ceremony. I also endeavor to spend time outside each day, usually in the form of a meditative nature walk. And, I take time away from mobile devices, screens, and other technology each day to commune with nature.

TA: Knowing how chaplaincy can take a lot out of you emotionally and physically, it is essential to have a self-care regimen for when you are not seeing patients. I try to rest as much as possible and get plenty of sunshine. I also do reflective meditation, spend time with my family, and exercise. I find it is absolutely true that we cannot be there for others if we have not first taken care of ourselves–and there is no shame in admitting that is a necessary component of the caregiving process.

MC: I think that having core spiritual practices that occur daily is important. My morning prayers and meditation help to keep me grounded and centered. The daily practices keep me connected with the Divine within me as well as without. The importance of self-care and creating space to take care of myself is highly needed. I have developed techniques that build in the time to breathe and to check in with myself throughout the day. This includes taking the time to reground and center before entering a room and after leaving a care conversation. This helps me to discern my own emotions and thoughts that are kept separate from the care-seekers. This also creates space for me to energetically clear and take only what is mine and to release what energy isn’t mine.

CG: In order to be a support to others I’ve found I have to keep a daily ritual time, usually in the morning. I make sure my chakras are in balance before I meet with any patient. I also find reading prepares my spirit, and lately I’ve been reading ancient Gnostic texts and the new biography of Doreen Valiente for inspiration.

Circle Sanctuary logo

Circle Sanctuary logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Other News

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

That’s all for now. Have a great day!

FORT HOOD, Texas — The Fort Hood Open Circle, a non-denominational Pagan group that has been meeting on the military base since 1997 and has had a challenging history has been wrestling with problems such as being locked out of their ritual space and having their concerns dismissed by chaplains for a number of years. This past week, its leader had had enough and vented her frustrations on Facebook. Hundreds of shares and a huge outpouring of support followed, along with extensive meetings to address the short-term problems faced by members of the congregation. Solutions to the longer-term, systemic issues will take far more effort.

Fort HoodMichele Morris has served as Distinctive Religious Group Leader, or DRGL in military-speak, for the Fort Hood Open Circle for six years. Over that time, she said, the amount of support her congregation has received has varied considerably. “The last six years that I have had the privilege and responsibility to serve as clergy for Fort Hood Open Circle have been a dizzying roller coaster of harassment and neglect relieved by brief moments of support and underpinned by the soul killer that we proudly call ‘tolerance,'” she wrote in her Facebook post. “Tolerance is a terrible word,” she told The Wild Hunt, because “we tolerate things that we don’t like.” Instead, she feels, “Everyone who is supportive of people they disagree with makes a difference.”

The abuses she lays out in her very public post are not only disheartening, in Morris’ view; they are indicative of problems faced by Pagans serving in the United States military, and living in the country as a whole.

I am regularly told, by government employees that “you people” shouldn’t be “out there.” I have no problem ignoring them as long as they do their job, to each their own. But when it is a chaplain assigned to support our congregation that prefaces every single conversation we have with, “I don’t agree with what you do, but I’ll do my job,” for two years, that is not in fact support. When the religious education coordinator leaves our classes off of the calendar disseminated to all of the units on post and when questioned replies with the assertion that he did this out of his own pocket so he can put on, and leave off of, what he wants, that is not support.

What precipitated sharing these feelings on Facebook was being locked out of the stone circle that congregation members use for their rituals, something that has happened more than once. However, Morris is of the opinion that the issue is not one of access, or even one that is isolated to Fort Hood. “This is a military problem,” she said. “I don’t believe that chaplains are properly trained anymore,” and they fail to understand that they must serve the needs of all military personnel under their care, regardless of religious affiliation. She has found herself forced to serve as both minister and advocate, and unable to fulfill either role fully. “It’s unfair to have to be both for the same group,” she said, adding that she’s certain that other DRGLs are put into exactly the same position.

On an even larger scale, Morris feels that what needs to be discussed is the issue of Christian privilege. “It’s a huge issue, and it’s not being talked about,” she said. Simply trying to take off for one’s religious holidays in this right-to-work state — if they aren’t the standard Christian ones — is completely impractical, she said. “It doesn’t matter what the law says. People need jobs so very badly they can’t afford to walk away; they might not be able to get another one. They have stopped being able to stand up for freedom.”

The Fort Hood Open Circle is, in Morris’ words, the “oldest child” among military Pagan congregations. It is non-denominational by regulation, and in her estimation, “Neither the Army nor Pagans have any idea what to do with us.” That is because there isn’t a clear definition of what “non-denominational” means. Military parlance leans toward precise definitions, and Pagans are in some sense known more for disagreeing over what even the word “Pagan” means than for sharing any particular beliefs or practices. “The model is hard to find,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like I’m writing a book on it.” In practice, one rule she won’t budge on is, “Absolutely no ‘witchier than thou.’ If you’re growing, it’s probably the right path for you. Stop comparing and competing.”

One source of support for many years has been the people of Circle Sanctuary, who Morris describes as “the only non-denominational Pagan group in the outside world.” Circle’s support extends back many years. For example, in 2009, ministers provided support in the wake of the shootings there. More recently, in 2011, Circle Sanctuary became the official endorser of the Fort Hood Open Circle.

Circle Sanctuary’s founder Rev. Selena Fox was quick to respond to Morris’ Facebook note, along with Lady Liberty League (LLL), Circle’s religious freedom advocacy arm. After extensive work behind the scenes, LLL released this statement last night on the current situation at Fort Hood. It reads, in part:

We are deeply troubled that Michele and members of the Fort Hood Open Circle have been denied access to their designated ritual space. We have been part of problem solving on the situation. We are thankful that a short-term solution for access to the ritual space has been reached. We are also part of the process supporting the development of longer-term solutions so that disruptive incidents do not happen again. We are continuing to provide support and monitor this situation.

That work resulted, in part, in a town-hall style meeting last night, during which members of the Fort Hood circle were able to talk about their concerns with base chaplains face-to-face. Three chaplains and many circle members were attended and, while Morris was not available to provide details as of press time, Fox reported that it went well.

1970647_10152116984554285_1633538525_nFox also explained to The Wild Hunt that the access issues were being resolved by obtaining different locks for the gate to the group’s stone circle. According to Morris, the fence was erected due to issues of vandalism. The gate’s lock is controlled by a civilian employee in the Office of Military Morale, Welfare and Recreation, who reportedly believes that the Pagans “should not be out there” and specifically intended to bar that access. That has had profound consequences, as Morris detailed in her note:

Last night a soldier about to deploy did not get to have one last service before he leaves this coming week. There is not a church of his faith where he’s going so it will be at least nine months before he can worship with a group again and that’s only if he’s fortunate enough to be stationed to one of the handful of bases that offer services. Most still do not.

The fact that Morris decided to speak about her frustrations publicly is in itself an indication of how stressful the situation had become. “The military has a PR issue when things don’t stay in-house,” she said, because keeping problems within the organization allows for the message and perceptions to be controlled. Speaking out goes against “everything I was taught as an Army spouse.” The outpouring of support that her note received has been “overwhelming” and “a little intimidating,” she admitted. “I hope I can live up to wherever this is going. I didn’t plan on being the poster child for change.”

Perhaps to be mindful of that military mindset of nothing being dealt with publicly, the statement released by the Lady Liberty League also urges concerned Pagans to contact its offices, or Morris directly. “At this time, we also ask that the wider Pagan community refrains from contacting Fort Hood officials and/or others within the military about this issue, so that the negotiation and understanding-building process may continue. We ask that people continue to send prayers and energy for a positive, long-term solution to this situation.”

Regarding long-term solutions, Morris thinks that they won’t be achieved unless other Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists step up. “I’m far, far out of the broom closet,” she said. “We need to be open about what we do. We don’t create change by living in fear.” She recognizes that more than fear keeps people being public about their practices. There’s an aversion to proselytizing, and answering questions requires being able to articulate those responses. “The difference between education and proselytizing is that you wait for the ask,” she said. Moreover, “Lots of times Pagans don’t bother to have good answers to questions. It’s harder because we have to come up with our own,” rather than drawing upon settled doctrine that can be found in most bookstores.

However, “most spiritual people have more in common than not,” she pointed out, and a meaningful conversation could very well lead to one more person who doesn’t believe that Pagans sacrifice babies, worship the Christian god of evil, or do whatever it is that ignorant people fear.

“Every time there is a news story which misrepresents Pagans, we get upset. There are more of us than people realize, because we stay in our own little bubbles where we’re comfortable. Change happens outside of where we’re comfortable. We’re uncomfortable here in Fort Hood.”

Circle Sanctuary logoCircle Sanctuary has announced the launch of its new membership program. Since its founding in 1974, Circle has been an open organization that has relied predominantly on donations, volunteerism and community support without any form of official membership needed. At Imbolc, organizers officially changed Circle’s traditional structure. In a press release, they wrote, “By creating a more formal membership program, we can open stronger channels of communication; learn from our members about how we can support their spiritual and personal development; and focus on members’ needs now and in the times to come.”

Membership is open to a wide variety of people, limited only by a willingness to agree to “a set of three basic ethical tenets” involving nature, respect and inclusivity. Organizers said, “Circle Sanctuary’s community has always been diverse, including Pagans, Wiccans, Druids, Polytheists,Heathens, Unitarian Universalists, Witches, Humanists, Shamanic practitioners and many other names and paths. Within Circle Sanctuary we come together with a common intention to honor the Divine in Nature and create community together. Our membership program continues this tradition of honoring the diversity.”

Organizers were also quick to add, “Circle Sanctuary will continue to serve Pagans of many paths and places, regardless of membership.” Their events, such as Pagan Spirit Gathering, will continue to be open to everyone. Details on joining and on other Circle programs can be found online.

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trothAfter the Jan 10 posting of controversial statements by Asatru Folk Assembly’s Steve McNallen, a wave of backlash and debate erupted throughout the Heathen world. As we previously reported, Heathens United Against Racism publicly responded with a strong response to McNallen’s comments. And, since early January the issue has not abated, with many Heathens adding to the growing public discussion on racism and the support of fascism within their religious communities.

More recently, on Jan 30, Troth Steersman Steve T. Abell posted a response to the situation on Patheos’ Agora, saying, “We have some colorful characters in the Heathen community.” The article, which calls out several members of the Heathen community by name, set off another round of arguments and more backlash. In response, The Troth as an organization posted a reaffirmation of its mission statement, and Redesman John T Mainer published an official response in an essay titled, “The High Cost of Rhetoric.”

Since that point, Heathens and Pagans alike have been weighing in on the volatile situation, including long time Troth member Diana Paxson. Speaking only for herself, Paxson wrote in a Facebook post, “Heathens are known for the variety and vividness of our opinions, and even those who are members of the Troth do not always agree. But the policies of the organization reflect the will of its members. […] If the Troth is to continue to support toleration and respect for all, all those who oppose racism need to stick with the organization and make their opinions known.”

The conversation is ongoing with many Heathens and others sharing stories and opinions on both McNallen’s original post and the follow-up response by various Troth members. How and if this will affect The Troth as an organization or the Heathen community as a whole is still unknown.

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ArcanaThe Academy of Arcana‘s museum containing “Morning Glory’s 40 year collection of Goddess Statues” is now officially opened. The Museum of Myth, Magick & Mysterie, as it has been named, held its grand opening Feb. 7 at 3:00 pm. Attendees were able to look at 366 goddess statues collected by Morning Glory over the years.

The ribbon cutting event was hosted by curator Oberon Zell and coordinator Anne Duthers, and was followed by a reception and guest presentation by Witch Elder Dr. Zsuzsanna E Budapest on “The Politics of Women’s Myths.” The academy, along with its curio shop and museum, are located at 428-A Front St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060. It is the “first physical campus for the Grey School of Wizardry, offering an educational center with a Museum of Myth, Magick and Mysterie, and a Library of Esoterica.”

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Ägyptischer_Maler_um_1360_v._Chr._001We are currently researching a breaking story in which a Pagan Facebook group was shut down because it “violated community standards.” The group’s name is “Following Isis” and was created for those people who are devotees of the Egyptian goddess. As we have reported in the past, it is not uncommon for the goddess Isis to be confused with Daesh, the terrorist organization more typically referred to as ISIS. We are currently in touch with the Facebook group owners and will follow up as we learn more.

In Other News

  • The Adocentyn Research Library, located in California, has been quietly building its collection over the past few years and is now up to 13,000 volumes. Its goal is to become the “premier Pagan research center in the Western US.” The library is managed by a non-profit organization and relies on donations of both money and materials. The management team recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise more awareness and funds toward the goal of finally opening its doors. Over the weekend, The New Alexandrian Library, a corresponding entity located on the East Coast, donated $250 to the cause with the words “in unity and support of the great work for the community.”
  • PantheaCon gets underway this Friday in San Jose, California. If you are attending, don’t forget to come out and meet The Wild Hunt writers on Saturday, from 5-6 p.m. in the Hexenfest Suite. We look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new people.
  • Speaking of PantheaCon, the Mills College Pagan Alliance met its fundraising goal in just 6 days and will be able to attend PantheaCon after all. Kristen Oliver called it “a blessing” and said that the group of women attending were extremely thankful for the support.
  • As Valentine’s Day nears, the Huffington Post decided to look into the meaning of Pagan handfastings.The article, titled “Here’s Why Couples Tie Their Hands Together During Pagan Weddings,” contains quotes and photos from both Circle Sanctuary’s Rev. Selena Fox and New York-based Witch Courtney Weber. Fox is quoted as saying, “In many ceremonies, the couple faces each associated direction as I do the blessing, concluding with being at the altar for the blessing of Spirit.” And, Weber, who shared photos from her own recent handfasting, said, “The use of the elementals encourages a balanced, healthy relationship […] When all parts are working together — earth, air, fire, water, and spirit — they created [sic] a holistic world that allows the couple to breathe, move, function and grow together.”
  • Dr. Ruth Lindley, a UK-based historian is looking to interview “women whose spiritual practices focus on, or relate to, ‘the Goddess’, for [her] PhD research on religion and spirituality.”  As posted on the blog Medusa’s Coils, Dr. Lindley, Ph.D, of the Department of History, University of Birmingham said, “[My] will challenge current scholarship on religious change in modern Britain, especially in relation to women’s experiences of faith from the 1960s to the present day.”  She is specifically “looking for participants based in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.” To get involved, contact her directly at RML033@bham.ac.uk.
  • The Glastonbury Goddess Temple, which was featured in our report on the legality of handfastings in England, launched a new website for its 21st annual Goddess Festival. The summer event will “honour Goddess as Lady of Avalon, Nolava of the Sacred Land,” and will take place from July 26 to 31. Included in the festival’s activities are presentations, workshops and performances by many speakers, artists, and musicians, including “Starhawk, Carolyn Hillyer, ALisa Starweather, Rith Barrett, Jana Runnalls, Kathy Jones, Kellianna, Katinka Soetens, Luciana Percovich, Lydia Ruyle, and Falcon River”  More information is available at the Temple’s new website.

MADISON, Wis. — Hundreds of people flocked to the capital of Wisconsin yesterday, braving sub-zero windchill temperatures to express their displeasure with a bill that would put Native American burial mounds — and any natural burial, they say — at risk of desecration. The protesters, estimated to be in the hundreds, included members of the Ho-Chunk Nation and Circle Sanctuary. In the end, they received welcome news when Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told reporters that the bill won’t be coming to a vote this session.

Procession around the state capital [Selena Fox]

Procession around the state capital [Photo Credit: S. Fox]

The protesters were flanked by an honor guard of Native American military veterans. They listened to speakers in the frigid temperatures for an hour before processing around. Then they entered the capital rotunda where their words could be more easily heard by state legislators.

Robert Birmingham, a former Wisconsin state archaeologist and expert on the mounds which dot the Wisconsin landscape, explained how changes to the law could imperil the structures, which are formed in the shape of people and animals. “The current law presumes that the mounds are burial mounds based on a great deal of scholarship,” he said. From the mounds that were excavated “long ago,” Birmingham said that 90% yielded human remains. “The law does not prohibit disturbance” under certain circumstances such as building a highway, but “there is a process.”

That process apparently doesn’t sit well with the executives of Wingra Stone, whose sand and gravel mining operations are impeded by the presence of one such mound. Their efforts to obtain permission to dig through it have been stymied in court. That is why the company has backed legislation that would require the Wisconsin Historical Society to issue permits so that property owners could, at their own expense, dig into a mound to determine if there are actually human remains inside.

According to reporting by WRN:

The bill (AB-620), from state Representative Robert Brooks (R-Saukville) would allow property owners to challenge whether human remains are actually buried in a given mound. Brooks and the bill’s Senate author, Senator Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), have cited property owners’ rights to use their land as they see fit, and overly restrictive oversight of mounds by the Wisconsin Historical Society, as motivation for the legislation.

“In my professional opinion,” Birmingham said, the idea that the mounds might not contain remains “is not a reasonable argument. It would be like arguing that there aren’t any graves in a cemetery.” Some 80% of the mounds, which were constructed by people believed to be ancestors of the Ho-Chunk Nation, have been plowed under or bulldozed to make way for modern land uses.

Protesters inside the rotunda [Selena Fox]

Protesters inside the rotunda [Photo Credit: S. Fox]

Rev. Selena Fox was among the representatives from Circle Sanctuary participating in the protest. “Most public attention is on the fact that this directly threatened native burial mounds and other sacred sites, but it also impacts other natural burials, such as old pioneer burials before embalming and steel caskets. Basically it’s saying you must desecrate a grave to see if remains are there.” Circle Sanctuary maintains a Pagan cemetery which promotes natural burials, and could theoretically be susceptible to the same challenges under the bill.

Before Assembly Speaker Vos announced his intentions concerning the bill, some protesters saw a bald eagle flying high overhead, and took it as a fortuitous sign.  Fox recounted how they moved into the rotunda, drumming and chanting, “Save our mounds.” She noted that the speaker released his statement either during that portion of the protest, or immediately thereafter. “I’m not taking credit for it in the least,” she said. “The statement is being hailed with great appreciation.”

“I think it requires an awful lot more study, an awful lot more conversation,” Vos told reporters.

Fox and others are warning that the fight over this bill is not yet done. The fact that it made it so far into the legislative process without being noticed was troubling to her, and she expects that it will be raised again in a future legislative session. At least as long as Governor Scott Walker is in office, she expects that the idea will continue to be floated in one form or another. She spoke extensively about the issue in her Jan. 12 podcast, which was recorded shortly after she returned from the rally.

BARNEVELD, Wis. — Circle Sanctuary staff announced yesterday that Circle Magazine, its long-running print publication, will be ceasing production. Over its 37-year lifespan, Circle Magazine, originally called Circle Network News, evolved from a simple organizational newsletter into professional print magazine with subscribers from all over the world. The magazine could be found in both mainstream and metaphysical bookstores, and was one of the seminal media publications serving a growing collection of alternative religions.

“It is with a heavy heart that we make this decision, however as Pagans we know that change is part of the cycle of life, and renewal follows endings.” – Circle Magazine staff.

circle magazine

Circle Magazine 1978-2015 [Courtesy Photo]

In 1978, Circle News was born as the periodic newsletter for the growing Circle Sanctuary community. Based in Wisconsin, the organization itself was founded four years earlier by Rev. Selena Fox and was one of the first non-profit nature spirituality churches in the United States. As Rev. Fox told The Wild Hunt, “[Circle News] was an 8 ½ x 11 inches news sheet typed on an electric typewriter. I calligraphed its first masthead by hand and it was produced on a photocopier.”

Prior to Circle’s entrance into the fledgling Pagan media, the Church of All Worlds had been publishing Green Egg magazine since 1968. However, the group took a hiatus and stopped publishing in 1977. Oberon Zell, Publisher Emeritus, remembered, “Two years after the cessation of Green Egg, Circle Network News appeared, filling the void, reaching out to a more novice audience, and evolving eventually into the beautiful newsstand quarterly, Circle Magazine. As Green Egg had fostered the nascent Pagan movement in the 1960s-‘70s, Circle in turn became the major shaper of the broader community of Nature Spirituality in the ‘80s.”

The need for such a national publication seemed to be growing along with the community. As Zell noted, by 1980, Circle’s small organizational newsletter became Circle Network News, a 16-page quarterly tabloid newspaper. Rev. Fox said, “I started Circle Network News to help Pagans of many paths and places connect with each other and share knowledge, rituals, art, poetry, perspectives and news. For many in that pre-internet, pre-social media era, it was their introduction to Pagan community, as well as an avenue of participation in it.”

Circle Network News fast became the go-to publication for many emerging Pagans across the United States. Christopher Blackwell, former editor of ACTION, remembered, “[Circle Network News] was literally my first contact with the Wiccan community and was suggested first off at the Pagan Festival I went to. I was agate mining, and I had three different mailing addresses, in three states to forward it to in that pre-internet age. The very first writing I did was on the suggested themes each quarter. It was where I got my first mailing addresses for letter friends from its readers comment pages. It was where I got my first contact with Wiccans in England and South Africa. From there I got offers to write my first page-long articles for a newsletter in England, and for Pagan Africa, an early magazine in South Africa. So all of that led up to creating my own newsletter ACTION for Alternate Religions Educational Networks.”

As a result, Blackwell’s newsletter ACTION, which also stopped production this year, became another important player in the growing Pagan media.

1984 Edition of Circle Network News

1984 Edition of Circle Network News

Rev. Fox remembered the early production days of Circle Network News. She said, “We typed our copy in columns on typing paper, cut them apart, and pasted them on large sheets of heavy duty art paper with rubber cement and drafting tools. We created headlines with press-on letters, and then sent the completed layout sheets to a local web press for production.” This was all done by Circle volunteers, from the writing to the mailings. She remarked that the addition of a desktop computer in the late 1980s helped them tremendously with both the logistics and production.

Over the following decade, Circle Network News‘ subscribers continued to grow, making it one of Circle Sanctuary’s more visible projects. Selena noted that the most popular features was always “the Community Passages section, with announcements of births, marriages, deaths, and other important community passages.” She said, “During the 1990s, UTNE Reader, a national alternative media quarterly, reviewed Circle Network News and celebrated our inclusion of obituaries for cats, dogs, and other animal friends along with those for humans.”

First Circle Magazine with the new title 1999. [Courtesy Photo]

The first issue of Circle Magazine in 1999. [Courtesy Photo]

By 1998, print production itself became increasingly easy and affordable, and the magazine had reached new heights of popularity. As a result, Circle Network News would evolve again, donning a full-color cover with a bar-scan for wider distribution. The first color cover appeared on 67th issue produced in the spring of 1998 and was titled “Moon Rituals.”

Then, the following year, Circle Network News changed again. In 1999, the publication changed its name to Circle Magazine.

Over the 1990s, the publishing world had begun to change. By 2000, Circle was neither the only Pagan print magazine in bookstores nor the only source of Pagan news. Green Egg, for example, had resumed production in 1988. BBI Media started producing Sage Woman in 1986 and, by the 1990s, it was publishing Green Man, PanGaia, and more. In 2002, BBI Media debuted newWitch (the precursor to the now popular Witches and Pagans). Other big organizations, such as The Pagan Federation in the UK, were also producing their own magazines and high quality newsletters. In addition, the “World Wide Web” had entered the picture, offering countless online publications, connecting people through social media, and providing information and news to an ever-expanding Pagan community.

Despite the changing media climate, Circle Magazine had already become a fixture in American Pagan cultural life. Rev. Fox remembered, “In the 1980s and 1990s, among the songs performed in some bardic circles at Pagan festivals and filksinging sessions at Science Fiction conventions was Cover of Circle Network News, a song created by family tradition Witch Lady Cybele. Her song was based on The Cover of Rolling Stone written by Shel Silverstein and first recorded by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show in 1972.”

In addition, the magazine had become well-known and easily recognizable in mainstream bookstores. Rev. Fox noted that, while the magazine was meant to specifically serve Pagans, it did so in a public way becoming one of the public faces of Paganism.

Current Circle editor Florence Edwards-Miller added, “I’m really going to miss the thrill I got every time I went into a bookstore and saw a copy of CIRCLE Magazine on the periodicals shelf. And every now and then that thrill of recognition came at odd moments, like when we got word from our readers that a copy had been spotted in a network TV crime procedural, as a prop. I found the clip in question and sure enough, there was our issue on Healing and Wellness, right there on one of the characters’ coffee tables.” That show was the April 9, 2015 episode of Fox Network’s Backstrom

Through its many incarnations, Circle Magazine has undoubtedly played an important role in the individual and community lives of many people. However, in recent years, its readership dropped off and production became more expensive and time-consuming. As a result, at this past Samhain, the Circle Magazine staff decided to cease operations. Yesterday’s announcement read:

Circle Sanctuary is a nonprofit with very limited resources in funding, staffing, and volunteers, and given today’s greater access to Pagan information, we have decided that producing the magazine is no longer a good use of our limited resources.

Rev. Fox said, “I am happy that Circle Network News and CIRCLE Magazine have helped thousands of Pagans over the years, as well as has been a resource to help the public better understand Pagan spirituality. I am grateful for all the wonderful friendships this publishing endeavor has facilitated. Over the years, Circle Sanctuary has published other periodicals, including Circle News, Sanctuary Circles, Circle Network Bulletin, Pagan Spirit Alliance Newsletter, Pagan Spirit Journal, and the Circle Guide to Pagan Groups. Each fulfilled a need during its time but ended as our work evolved.”

One of the latest features of this current evolution is a membership program to be launched in 2016. More details will be shared in January. Edwards-Miler said, “Membership is a way that we can build stronger ties with our community.” As production on the last magazine winds down, she will be transitioning to the coordinator of this new program.  In addition, Edwards-Miller will also be involved in the coordination of festivals held at Circle Sanctuary.

After hearing yesterday’s announcement, BBI Media’s editor Anne Newkirk Niven said, “Circle was a seminal publication, with a long history of serving our community, and I will miss it. […] Circle Sanctuary is an amazing institution and community, and the magazine was only one of their many ministries. They do many, *many* things that I would never even attempt: prison ministries, outreach to the mainstream media, civil rights campaigns, a huge Pagan festival, and their very own Pagan landbase. The magazine was, and I think they would agree with me on this, one of their major ministries in Ye Olde Days, but one of their less important ones today.”

Oberon Zell also offered his well-wishes, saying “We at Green Egg are saddened to hear of the discontinuance of Circle Magazine, and we hope that, as did GE, it will eventually arise again like the Phoenix!”

Final Circle Magazine cover [Courtesy Photo]

Final Circle Magazine cover [Courtesy Photo]

The last issue, numbered 122, is currently in the final stages of production. Interestingly, it is titled “Life’s End & Beyond.” Edwards-Miller said that this was not planned, but fits quite nicely. Not only does this title reflect the current situation, but it also ironically creates a full circle in that the first issue of Circle Magazine in 1999 was also about death and ancestors.

Not surprisingly, ritual and magic go hand-in-hand with every project at Circle Sanctuary. Both Edwards-Miller, Rev. Fox and the other Circle members have been performing regular blessings and prayers in preparation for this day. Fox said, “Saying farewell and envisioning the future have been aided by rituals, dream questing, and meditation.”

When asked if they had ever considered going completely digital, either as a blog magazine or PDF, they both said yes. But Edwards-Miller added, “The way the digital publishing business is structured right now there is a very high barrier to entry to get on the devices that most people are using, iPads and Kindle in particular. And even if we had found an affordable digital option, it was clear that we’d need an unrealistic increase in our overall readership to change things so that the magazine would bring resources into Circle Sanctuary, instead of being something we subsidized.”

As she further explained, most of their production efforts and expenses are not tied up in the actual printing, but in the gathering of content. That would not change with digital media.

Circle Sanctuary expressed their gratitude to the many writers, artists, readers, distributors and others whose time went into making Circle Magazine a reality. Edwards-Miller added that the news is “bittersweet,” saying, “It’s certainly a time of mixed emotions. I’ve loved working on the magazine for these past three years. It’s been such a privilege to work with an amazingly talented group of writers, poets, and artists. And in particular getting to know our readers has just been a joy, and one I’ll dearly miss.”

According to the announcement, all current Circle Magazine subscribers will be receiving a letter that outlines the ways in which they can redeem the remaining value of their subscription. There will be several options, including back issues.

Niven has also told The Wild Hunt that she will fulfill remaining Circle Magazine subscriptions with Witches & Pagans. However, this is not one of the options listed by Circle’s letter. Readers must contact Niven directly for details on how this might work.

Issue #122 is going to press today, and will be available soon. Rev. Fox is taking this farewell all in stride. She said, “As our work evolves yet again, I am enthusiastic about future directions for Circle Sanctuary and its endeavors.”

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

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

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

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Cherry Hill Seminary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Other News

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

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

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

 

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

Honoring Our Veterans

Cara Schulz —  November 11, 2015 — 10 Comments

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It is a time set aside in the United States to honor those who serve in the five branches of the Armed Forces. On that date in 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany during the First World War. After that, the day became known as Armistice Day and was unofficially observed. Then in 1938, it was declared a federal holiday specifically set aside to honor WWI veterans. Shortly after the Korean War, the name was changed to Veterans Day and included all American veterans of all wars.

While in the past there was resistance by some prominent Pagan leaders to the idea that a person could serve in the military and be a Pagan, that sentiment has changed. Now, instead of Pagan groups barring entry to active duty military Pagans, they are honoring military Pagans during community rituals.

Warrior Blessing Remembrances HH

Warrior Blessing ritual at Hallowed Homecoming. Participants wrote down the names those who have served & are serving in the US Military. [Photo Courtesy Circle Sanctuary]

Circle Sanctuary has hosted a full schedule of events honoring Pagan veterans. Tuesday evening, Circle Sanctuary hosted two special live podcasts. One focused on Circle’s Military Ministries work, while the second podcast featured a ceremony awarding Pagan Military Service Ribbons.

Today, the group is hosting a visiting day for guests to pay their respects at Circle Cemetery located in Veterans Ridge. This is followed by a 3 pm Veterans Day ceremony during which group will award Pagans who have served, or are currently serving in the military, a Pagan Military Service Ribbon.

Circle Sanctuary Military Ministries team at Hallowed Homecoming, left to right: David Ewing, Jeanet Ewing, Selena Fox, Tiffany Andes, and Tristan. [photo Circle Sanctuary]

Circle Sanctuary Military Ministries team at Hallowed Homecoming, left to right: David Ewing, Jeanet Ewing, Selena Fox, Tiffany Andes, and Tristan. [Photo Courtesy Circle Sanctuary]

A Pagan Warrior Blessing Ritual was also hosted on Sunday at Hallowed Homecoming at Prince William Forest in northern Virginia as part of their Veterans Day activities. Several Circle Sanctuary ministers took part, including Revs. David & Jeanet Ewing of Virginia, Rev. Tristan of Maryland, and Rev. Selena Fox. During the blessing, Circle Sanctuary Minister in Training Tiffany Andes was singled out for her role in working for equal rights for Pagans serving in the US Military.  

The Wild Hunt asked several Pagan, Heathen, and Polythiest veterans and family members of veterans to share what Veterans Day means to them.

Josh Heath is the co-director of The Open Halls Project, an Army Veteran, and a graduate student at American University in its International Peace and Conflict Resolution program.

There is a sense of separation from civilian society that happens when you join the military. Veteran’s Day is one day for us to specifically acknowledge the commitment and oaths our military service members swore. It should also be a day for our service members to be welcomed back fully into their communities, for their worth to be acknowledged, and to begin to peel back that sense of separation. It is a day to acknowledge that oath has been completed by the veteran and to acknowledge their service and empower them to make an impact in the civilian world.

Rev. Dave Sassman is is an openly Pagan Air Force Veteran, member of Circle Sanctuary’s Military Ministry, and board member of Indy Vet House, Inc.

As a minority faith it is important to honor those who choose to serve in the uniformed services. Many of those who have served have become or will become community leaders who bring a wealth of experience that will guide the Earth Based Faith Community into the future.

Chuck Hudson is a Heathen, former host of Raven Radio, and a Former Combat Medic in the U.S. Army.

We are the ones that signed a blank check for the total sum of our lives and handed the check to this country. We were the ones that were lucky enough to get the check back and were able to tear it up. Some of us bear the wounds of combat, some the struggles of keeping a unit going. Being a vet isn’t about how many drops you made. Nor how many pallets you loaded. Or privates you trained, trays served or papers filed. It’s about setting aside your life and putting the country’s life ahead of yours. Being Heathen makes the task even more satisfying. Some call us a “warrior religion”  No not really. We have the gods and goddesses that teach us HOW to use violence and where and when. So we are for the most part not opposed to using violence to protect our family friends and country. Maybe that is one of the reasons so many of us serve.

Veterans Day is a day of mixed emotions for me. I am glad I made it home nor more screwed up than I am. And I am also melancholy thinking about those that didn’t come home. And furious that 22 of my brothers and sister end their lives by their own hands each day.

But Veterans Day is for us that made it back to the world. And still stand ready to rally to our nation’s side. To raise the horn to with our brothers and sisters. To have the privilege to call our brothers and sisters of the different armed forces by their nicknames. Flyboy, Dog Face, Jarhead. Puddle Pirate and Squid. We earned the right to call each other those names and their right to stomp a mudhole in someone’s chest who didn’t earn that right.

Hagl berjast menn okkar og konur. Þeir sem þjóna landið okkar og þjóð. Hagl til vopnahlésdagurinn okkar. Hail our fighting men and women. Those that serve our country and people. Hail to our veterans.

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Like Circle Sanctuary, Covenant of the Goddess issues service medals to its members who are or have served in the military.

Galina Krasskova is a Northern Tradition shaman, author, and vitki [wise woman].

Every year, I give the entire month of November over to honoring our Veterans. For me, this day is about remembrance and not just of those men and women who fought in our wars.

Veterans day is about remembering all the wars  that have defined and devastated us as a people. Keeping this day is a way of saying to the veterans (and all warriors living and dead):  You are remembered. Your sacrifices mean something. You are part of something so much bigger than yourselves. I wish that as a nation, as a species, we could look to you and question the devastation of war before we throw ourselves gaily forward into another one. I wish that we could see the price that our Veterans pay and allow that to inform our decisions of how much life we’re willing to expend for our nation’s dubious glory. In the meantime to every man and woman serving: respect.

Julia Ergane is a Hellenic Reconstructionist and served in the United States Air Force.

As a veteran and the daughter and niece of veterans it is an important day to me. I feel pride in completing a duty I feel that I owe to my country. Even though the mid-1970s was fairly peaceful, I was still stationed in South Korea when we very nearly did lose our cessation of hostilities. During this time, I did feel the strength of Athena and Ares come to my aid. Both of my uncles received the Purple Heart during WWII, one at the Anzio Beach head in Italy. This was an invasion like the invasion at D-Day in France. When I was twenty I visited the site. My Father attended the USCGA during WWII and was active duty during the Korean War as well as the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. I have special relationships with Poseidon, the Nereids, Ares, and Athena all in regard to military matters.

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Author’s Note: As a military veteran myself, who proudly served in the United States Air Force, I’d like to thank all my fellow veterans for their service.