Archives For Correllian Wicca

A bright and ongoing success story in the Pagan community has been the utilization of crowd-funding sites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter to collectively raise funds for important projects. Starhawk raised over $75,000 dollars to help fund a pitch-reel in order get a feature film based on her book “The Fifth Sacred Thing” made. Peter Dybing helped raise $30,000 dollars for Doctors Without Borders in the wake of the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. Pagan singer-songwriter SJ Tucker was amazed when a Kickstarter campaign for Tricky Pixie’s European tour more than doubled their initial goal in a matter of hours (and kept on growing). In addition, several smaller initiatives have managed to collectively raise thousands for Pagan projects: The readers of The Wild Hunt funded the proposed budget of this site for a year, Chicago-based Pagan/magical performance troupe Terra Mysterium raised funds for their new show “The Alembic,”and the Goddess community funded a documentary film in honor of Merlin Stone.

Crowdfunding sites allow an easy mechanism for fundraising in communities that may have social networks and organizations, but not the robust money-raising infrastructure of already-established mainstream institutions. This is a place modern Paganism is in today, and more and more of us are turning to these sites as a solution to our “money problem.” There are hundreds of thousands of Pagans out there, millions around the world, and they desire to see our projects and initiatives advance just as much as any other faith community. So here are some Pagan Fundraising Initiatives that you might want to contribute to.

Days Left in Parliament Fundraiser: There are only four days left in an urgent campaign to save the Parliament of the World’s Religions as it faces an unexpected one-time sudden financial crisis. I’ve written about this campaign before, and why Pagans should be invested in it, but now the deadline is looming and Pagan supporters are rallying to make sure this interfaith resource survives.

“We have 4 days left. Over the last two weeks, thanks to the generosity of many of you, the global Pagan community has raised $13,500 to help carry the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) into the future and save it from immediate closure! For more than 20 years, the Parliament has welcomed and supported the global Pagan movement. If you want to see our work with the Parliament continue, we need your support NOW [...] Here’s the good news: with the help of Pagans, $230,000 has been raised. The Parliament needs to raise $45,000 more — but we have only 4 days to do it.”

If you want to donate as part of the Pagan community, you can do so here. As I’ve said before, ensuring that the Parliament of the World’s Religions survives ultimately serves our needs, and we should strive to see that it does. I have no doubt that the global interfaith community will rally in time to save the Parliament, and I would like to make sure that Pagan involvement in this organization’s survival is a dominant theme.

Hexenfest 2013: In 2012 Sharon Knight and Winter of the band Pandemonaeon, along with fashion designer Anaar, held the very first Hexenfest, an attempt to build an arts festival in the Bay Area of California that appeals to fans of mythic music and dance. This year, the event will be held in Alameda, California, featuring performances from Arcane Dimension and Pandemonaeon, dance performances from Morpheus Ravenna and Anaar, a fashion show, and DJing by DJ Skellington.  However, since this is a new event still establishing itself, they need community support to make it happen. So they are throwing a quick IndieGoGo campaign to cover expenses beforehand.

“We are Sharon Knight, Winter, and Anaar. Two musicians and a fashion designer/ belly dancer inspired by myth, magick, and the realms of faerie. All three of us tour the country as performing artists. We found it strange that, although the Bay Area has a thriving Pagan community, it has produced relatively few music or art festivals. So we decided to create one, right here in our home town. Hexenfest is an annual festival of music, art and dance with roots in the Pagan community. At Hexenfest, you’ll find talented artists whose work reflects themes based in myth, legend, folkloric tradition, earth spirituality, fairytale and the like.  We’re drawn to the darkly exotic—the Forbidden Forest as opposed to the Enchanted Wood. “

Their goals are relatively modest, and you can get tickets and VIP treatment for donating. While there are many Pagan events that feature musical acts, and cultural events that are certainly Pagan-friendly, there are relatively few Pagan events that solely concentrate on music and art that originates from within our interconnected communities. This is an excellent opportunity for folks in the Bay Area to build something of lasting value. You can find out more at the event’s official Facebook page, or simply head to their IndieGoGo campaign site.

Houston Pagan Conference: Another regional-focused fundraiser comes from Texas where the Houston-based group Blackberry Circle are hoping to throw a Pagan conference “to not only bring this community together but to also bring forth ideas and discussions on various aspects of faith and practice.”

“This 2013 Pagan Conference is for those interested in the pagan approach to magic as an integral path to the divine. This will be the first pagan conference in the Gulf Coast area in over 30 years and is sponsored by Blackberry Circle, an eclectic Wiccan teaching coven located in Southeast Texas. Please donate to help ensure this conference is not only a success this year, but for years to come.”

For those who’ve wanted a Pagan conference experience like PantheaCon, ConVocation, or PaganiCon but have trouble leaving their geographic region, this seems like a good development for the Gulf Coast region. The planned event is to be held in May, further details are pending, though the organizers encourage people with questions to contact them. You can find the campaign at GoFundMe, where they hope to raise $3,500.

In Other Pagan Fundraising Initiatives News:

Those are the highlighted campaigns for this edition. Please send me word of your crowdfunding campaigns, and I may spotlight them on a future edition of this ongoing feature. Let’s all work together to promote important projects within our community, and destroy the notion that we can’t or won’t fund projects that are important to us. If you can’t donate, the best way to help is to share these campaigns to your social networks, exposing them to as many people as possible. Thanks for reading, and thank you for supporting Pagan community!

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

Katrina "Foxglove" Kessler

Katrina "Foxglove" Kessler

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

Katrina Kessler, Selena Fox & Lexi Renee at PantheaCon 2012

Katrina Kessler, Selena Fox & Lexi Renee at PantheaCon 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International Pagan Coming Out Day: It is less than a week to Pagan Coming Out Day, May 2nd, and PNC-Minnesota has a story up about a local IPCOD celebration that will feature a screening of the documentary “American Mystic”.

The event takes place May 2nd at the Sacred Paths Center and is open to all Pagans and Pagan allies, no matter if you have been ‘out’ for ages or are not yet able to be open about your Pagan spirituality.  It directly follows the usual Monday night Pagan Potluck and the event is offered as a free gift to the community.  An opening Hellenic-style libation to Hestia, a Goddess that strengthens the bonds of family and community,  kicks off the evening, with champagne cocktails, non-alcoholic drinks and desserts to follow.  Once everyone has their treats, the movie American Mystic will be screened for the first time in the Twin Cities area.  The documentary opened at Pantheacon to rave reviews.”

Meanwhile, David Salisbury at PNC-Washington DC/Capital Witch mentions the DC-area IPCOD event sponsored by the Open Hearth Foundation.

“Sponsoring DC’s event is the Open Hearth Foundation who just announced that our location will be at the back gates of the White House. Really, if you’re going to come out as anything, it might as well be right on the President’s doorstep! Participants should gather at the sidewalk area in front of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue at 7:45pm. A public coming out ritual will being at 8:00pm, followed by walking to a local restaurant for community sharing and celebration. In addition to the gathering itself, the OHF will also have support volunteers on-site to help those who might find the coming out process difficult or emotional.”

You can see a full list of scheduled IPCOD celebrations, here. Follow IPCOD on Facebook, here. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I serve in an advisory capacity on IPCOD’s executive board. I’m working with this project because I think a unified effort towards ‘coming out’ is a needed one, a complimentary movement to our already vibrant Pagan Pride days. I hope you’ll support IPCOD, and help spread the word. Addendum: Here’s more on IPCOD from Patheos.com.

Calling Ourselves Pagan: Since we just talked about “coming out” as a Pagan, perhaps we should also talk about the label of “Pagan” itself. In a recent guest-post for Patheos.com, Scott Reimers advocated finding a different word for our diverse movement. In response, author and teacher T. Thorn Coyle wrote a two-part essay discussing some questions and one possible answer to the issue of calling ourselves Pagan.

What do I think is this thing that ties such diverse ways and means of practice, experience, and belief together? We all have a sense of “Divine with us on earth.” The Gods are not just far off in Asgard, they are in our gardens and our homes. Goddesses don’t just live in some distant place, they help us run our businesses, and teach our children. And these Gods and Goddesses have their own agency, too. Paganism(s) and systems of magick – as they exist in contemporary religious expression in this loosely knit group of practitioners – hold theologies of immanence in common, whether this is directly acknowledged or not. Magick would not work without direct divine connection. Rituals would be meaningless or simply psychological exercises if there was not some strong, direct sense that whatever sacred energies or forces we work with were not here with us, right now.

That is what drew me to Paganism in the first place: God was not off in some distant and transcendent place. God Herself, and individual sacred expressions such as trees, ocean, stars, this particular God or that particular Goddess… were all moving, flowing, acting, resting, and directly making up the cosmos(es) right now. And so was I. If this was not the case, our magic would be simple begging and supplication. Instead, our magick, for those of us that do it, becomes a way to help create the world. Those of us who don’t do operative magick celebrate the realization that this sacred expression is with us every day. And for this, we give thanks: we dance around Maypoles, we raise horns of wine and beer in honor, we light candles to draw us deeper into contemplation, we make love as a way to draw closer to our Gods, knowing that often our Gods are as close as the breath of our lovers.

I anticipate that we are collectively stuck with “Pagan” for the foreseeable future. Perhaps a day will come when the various religions, traditions, and groups under our wide umbrella get big enough to not see (or need) the agency in being part of something larger, but I don’t think that day will come in my lifetime. However, for now, solidarity and collective effort is still needed to safeguard our basic rights, and advocate for equal treatment. To build basic religious services, and to gain the attention of the wider world. Even when we do reach the point where Wiccans, Druids, Asatru, and other faiths no longer need to be thrown together for various political reasons, we may find that we are all still attending the same parties.

The Correllians Get a New First Priestess: The Correllian Nativist Tradition have announced a restructuring and expansion of their Council of Elders, and have named a new First Priestess to replace the now-retired M. Rev. Krystel High-Correll.

“In addition M. Rev. Krystel High-Correll, First Priestess of the Correllian Tradition, has already been in retirement for several years now. As Retired First Priestess Lady Krystel does and always will enjoy the same level of respect and dignity that she has born for the last three decades of her imperium. Now, after much consideration, we are pleased to announce an Heir to the office of First Priestess: Lady Krystel and the entirety of the Council of Elders are pleased to name Rt. Rev. Traci Logan Wood as Heiress and Acting First Priestess, in accordance with the Rules of Succession of the Correllian Tradition as outlined in the Tradition bylaws. May the Blessing be upon the Acting First Priestess!”

In addition to naming Traci Logan Wood as First Priestess, a lifetime appointment, Ed Hubbard was also named as the new First Elder of the tradition and several new members of their Council of Elders were named in order “to fulfill the duties and offices needed for a Tradition that has become truly global.” My congratulations to to Wood, Hubbard, and the new Elders.

In a somewhat related note, congratulations to Pagans Tonight, which is quickly approaching its 500th episode.

More on Pagans in Prison: The PNC-Minnesota special series on Pagans in prison continues today, featuring an interview with Emrys Anu, a Wiccan Minister volunteering for the last six years at Rush City Correctional Facility.

“I work with mainly 20 – 40 year olds, and we work always within a ritual circle. Whatever work we plan for that day, we do in that circle. We create that as sacred space, and we consider what we do in there as our sacred work. We may have a lecture, a meditation, a reading, a ritual, or we may just talk. We just finished a ‘lecture’ on ‘what is Wicca?’. The history, and Paganism will be coming up. (Laughs, “It always comes up, “Do you worship Jesus, too?”) They often are asking for some kind of healing work. Typically some kind of energy work. We do a lot of different blessings. Blessings for impending court cases. When people leave we do a special blessing that always ends with “DON’T COME BACK! ”. We sometimes play games and do fun things. We play Wiccan charades, or ‘Wiccan Hangman’ and ‘Wiccan Hangman in Theban’. We have a fantastic energy sensing werewolf game that we play. We may discuss a book or do ritual planning. A few weeks before a Sabbat we talk about ritual in general, and what we will do for this one. How does it connect to nature and what is going on inside of us. It may be a full moon or dark moon. These might have some simple spell work within it. We meet once a week for two hours.”

Read the entire interview, here. In the next installment, Nels Linde will feature transcribed letters from prisoners and some editorial thoughts on the issue. This has been some excellent coverage on the issue, and I highly recommend heading over to PNC-Minnesota and reading the entire series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).

Patheos Interviews of Note: I just wanted to close with some quick links to two interviews of note over at the Patheos Pagan Portal. First, Galina Krasskova interviews author Melitta Benu, a practitioner of  Alexandrian Reconstruction. Then, the Staff of Asclepius blog interviews Pagan author and lecturer Janet Callahan. Both are thought-provoking and worth checking out.

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

It’s been an oft-repeated assertion that during tough economic times the church pews fill up. In a recent Newsweek article economist Daniel Hungerman suggested this phenomenon is more due to a yearning for “interconnectedness” than with the popular “no atheists in foxholes” theory. Economics writer Ryan Avent thinks it all comes down to cheap entertainment. But does this pervasive truism of increased religious attendance during hard times apply to modern Pagan faiths? What happens when there is no “pew” to casually fill when times are tough? I’ve asked a number of Pagan leaders, clergy, organizers, and adherents about attendance levels, and anecdotal evidence from across the country seems to point towards the rising tide of economic hardship lifting all religious boats.

Near the San Francisco Bay, Pagan priestess Morpheus Ravenna, recently featured in a new documentary, and  co-founder of Stone City Pagan Sanctuary, said that there’s been a steady increase in attendance for the last few years, though she can’t say for certain if the economy has been a driving factor.

“…it’s hard to separate the influence of the economy from other factors. We’re just passing our first half decade in existence, and we’ve been in a rapid growth phase of our development in terms of infrastructure building and also in terms of exposure, so we might have had just as much growth in attendance regardless of the economy. There’s not enough history to know what our ‘baseline’ really is.”

Ravenna’s experiences though are mirrored in Montana, where author and local leader Raven Digitalis has noted an up-tick in attendance, noting that  “people seem to feel a greater need for community support — understandably!” In Georgia, Lady Charissa of the North Georgia Solitaries says that “we’ve gone from an average attendance of 12-15 to an average attendance of 30-35 at small Sabbats.” Others, like the Correllian Nativist Tradition (founders of the popular Witch School) and Aquarian Tabernacle Church-affiliated Covenant of WISE, Church of Wicca note spectacular increases in membership and attendance.

“Our numbers have more than tripled in the past 12 months. We have even had to expand operations to encompass our over seas members. I think there is a reaching out that occurs during a recession. If there is a decline in numbers at Christian Venues, I would attribute it to feeling like you NEED to tithe to attend. Money is tight. We as pagans offer services that accept donations, but we don’t expect them. We honor them, but we don’t demand them. It is more important today, and tomorrow, and into the foreseeable future that we provide a place for people to connect with the Divine then it has been in 90 years.” - Dusty Dionne, Church Summoner, Covenant of WISE, Church of Wicca

But while there’s been a seeming overall trend of increased attendance in recent years, it hasn’t always brought with it increased donations. Aquarian Tabernacle Church’s Archpriest, Pete Pathfinder Davis, noted to me that while attendance at his Washington state congregation has increased, donations this year have fallen sharply. Raven Digitalis remarked that his group “have had to put our feet down” concerning event fees “a bit more than usual”. A respondent from Illinois noted that he feels there’s been a decrease in attendance lately as the cost of  transportation rises. In addition, many of the groups that have experienced success also mentioned that they have worked hard to provide community services while keeping costs low.

North Georgia Solitaries recently held a successful festival drawing nearly 300 people in a fund-raiser for their newly-launched Pagan Assistance Fund to help their community members in times of financial crisis, while Stone City Pagan Sanctuary has worked hard to keep things affordable for the organizations that depend on their land for events.

“One thing we have done is try to keep costs low, both for gatherings that we organize ourselves, and also what we charge to host other groups’ events. For example, we don’t charge anything for kids, ever, because we know even half-price can still make it hard on families. I think that keeping costs low has helped us stay viable as the economy has gotten worse.”Morpheus Ravenna

While there has certainly been challenges for our communities during this ongoing recession, it seems that hard times haven’t equaled diminished numbers or attendance in many groups across the United States. I think this points to Pagan faiths being deeply rooted and mature enough to provide the sense of fellowship and “interconnectedness” that Hungerman describes in the Newsweek article.

“…maybe people’s desire for spiritual guidance is influenced by their perception of how the world’s doing outside of themselves. Church attendance may not reflect our own circumstances but our own idea of how the world is doing beyond us.”

So maybe the booming circles, groves, and events reflect that we are checking in with our own loose-knit communities, finding fellowship so we can weather this storm together.

On April 14th U.S. Marshals arrested Waco “White Wolf” Tohausen in North Carolina on rape and pandering charges involving a five-year-old Ohio child in 2007.


Waco “White Wolf” Tohausen

“In the early evening hours of 04/14/2010, Waco “White Wolf” Tohausen, 37 years old, was arrested by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department in Murphy, NC. Tohausen, indicted for Rape and Pandering Sexually Oriented Materials involving a five year old victim. The crimes, which were committed back in 2007, where recently indicted back on December 21, 2009. Tohausen is associated with a Wiccan Group known as the Temple of the Crystalline Star and the Lustration of the Ancestors.”

The group Tohausen is associated with, the Temple of the Crystalline Star and the Lustration of the Ancestors, is a Correllian Nativist Church Mother Temple. I contacted the Rev. Donald Lewis-Highcorrell, First Priest and Chancellor of Correllian Nativist Tradition, who issued a statement that confirmed Tohausen’s clergy status within the organization, and that he has been suspended pending the outcome of the trial.

“I cannot too strongly emphasize how seriously the Correllian Tradition takes charges such as these. Our law is the Wiccan Rede –Do As You Will But Harm None. And our clergy are especially charged with upholding this ideal. For clergypersons to be charged with doing harm to children is a matter of the utmost importance and greatest concern to our Tradition and its people.

It is our established policy that any clergyperson charged with sexual abuse of a child must be immediately suspended from clergy status and from any position of responsibility until the charges are resolved. If the clergyperson is found guilty all status with the Tradition must be revoked.

It is the desire of the Correllian Tradition to cooperate fully with the police who are investigating this matter, and to assist them in any way we can. The Tradition will be holding an internal investigation as well to determine whether Tradition policy was properly followed and whether all appropriate actions have been taken.”

No further details have been released in this case at this writing. Tohausen is being held on $750,000 bond, and is being extraditied back to Hamilton County to face the charges against him. Needless to say, these are extremely serious charges that if true raise some difficult questions concerning Tohausen’s interactions with the Pagan community over the years, and his role as a Correllian clergyperson. I will post further updates once more information comes to light.

Thanks to Juliaki for tipping me off to the fact that you can now watch the entirety of the recent indie documentary “Hoopeston” online for free. The film, directed by Thomas Bender, looks at the struggling town of Hoopeston, Illinois, and the conflicts that emerged when Witch School (and the Correllian Tradition that runs it) moved in.

Hoopeston – Trailer from Synydyne on Vimeo.

“Because buildings are so cheap in Hoopeston, a Witch School moved there from Chicago in 2003. The directors of the school faced stiff opposition from religious conservatives (Hoopeston has over a dozen churches—its other nickname is “The Holy City”). But the Witch School is now a fixture in Hoopeston, one that forces the town to ask whether its future lies in traditional industry or internet wand sales.”

For all previous coverage of this documentary, click here. You may also be interested in perusing the last couple year’s worth of The Wild Hunt’s Witch School coverage. Enjoy the documentary! Feel free to post reviews in the comments.

(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 30, 2008 — 1 Comment

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.

The Vancouver Sun looks at how colleges in Canada are adapting to the changing realities of our religiously diverse society.

“At Carleton University and the University of Western Ontario, the official calendar listing holy days when students can be excused from classes or exams includes those central to Wicca and Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion that originated in Iran and is now estimated to have about 200,000 members worldwide … In an effort to serve students’ spiritual needs, the University of Toronto counts two pagans, two Hindus, two Buddhists and a First Nations spiritual leader among more than 20 chaplains associated with the new multi-faith centre that opened last year. It features half a dozen prayer, meeting and worship rooms, says director Richard Chambers, along with facilities for foot-washing and a de-pressurized space that allows for fire and incense during worship ceremonies.”

The University of Toronto’s Pagan chaplains are Brian Walsh, who serves Celtic and reconstructionist groups on campus, and Catherine Starr, who serves the Wiccan community there. So if your thinking of going to college in Canada, this article is practically a guide for potential Pagan students.

A South African teen who killed a classmate with a sword and blamed it on Satan has brought forth the old “Satanic Panic” peddlers.

“[Pastor of Destiny Harvest Church in Umhlanga, Marc] Bredenkamp, who has been helping children involved in Satanism for the past 20 years and has housed recovering witches, said Satanic groups operated on fear and people could not get out because the group threatens to kill their family or do something to them. Apart from numerous death threats and attacks from Satanic groups, Bredenkamp recalled the time his eight-year-old son was abducted by Satanists. He said they threatened to kill his son and wanted him to offer his life in exchange for his son’s. He approached the young girl who had abducted his son and began praying for her. In so doing, he helped expel the evil spirits from her.”

“Uncle Marc” is a classic Satanic Panic con-man who used to be a part of the now-disbanded South African Police Service Occult Unit, and loves to warn of the dangers of heavy metal (and wearing black clothing). Bredenkamp is no doubt enjoying the renewed media attention, though he is “disappointed” that schools no longer tolerate his nonsense.

The Danville Commercial News in Illinois reports on the Correllian tradition Lustration ceremonies taking place this weekend in Rossville.

“[Rev. Don] Lewis conducts the ceremony, but a First Elder — a woman from Danville — performs the actual Lustration blessing. During the ceremony, Lewis also invokes an oracle, which means he receives a prophecy or message from the ancestors. Messages may involve events taking place in the next year or next few years. Some messages might talk about emotions.”

This event of “purification and blessing” will also highlight a new clothing line entitled “Wycked Velvet” (not to be confused with the similarly-named erotica web site).

While I’m on the subject of central Illinois, my former employer, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is featuring an exhibit on the paranormal and occult sciences at its Main Library.

“…the occult collection contains more than 16,000 items relating to occult sciences and parapsychology and was originally endowed by Merten J. Mandeville in 1966, a retiring professor of commerce. Not all the items that are part of the exhibit today were around when the collection started, but it continues to grow. “(The exhibit) is everything ‘X-Files,’” said JoAnn Jacoby, former selector for the Merten J. Mandeville collection. “It includes works on paranormal phenomena, werewolves, the possibility for occult powers, witchcraft, astrology and 19th century spiritualism,” she said.”

For more information about UIUC’s occult book collection, check out The Merten J. Mandeville Collection in the Occult Sciences’ web site.

Greek Pagan group Ellinais (aka The Holy Association of Greek Ancient Religion Believers) is planning to hold a service to Athena at the Acropolis this Sunday to protest the removal of statues and ask the goddess to protect the sacred site.

“Peppa’s Athens-based group, Ellinais, is campaigning to revive ancient religion and has defied Culture Ministry bans to hold prayers at several ancient temples. She said she would not seek state permission for the ceremony, to be held near the ancient Parthenon temple, built between 447-432 B.C. in honor of Athena. ‘We will just sing three hymns. It won’t be a big ceremony,’ Peppa said. ‘I don’t know how many of us will be there. People are afraid. The fact is that we are subject to religious persecution.’”

It was only in 2006 that Ellinais was granted the legal right to exist in the Orthodox-controlled country. There is still great resistance to the group, and they have had to partake in civil disobedience in order to worship at the old sacred sites.

The Delaware News Journal interviews Cherry Hill Seminary co-founder Kirk White at the sixth annual Delmarva Pagan Pride Festival.

“[Pagans] having outgrown the stages he called “forming and storming,” paganism now is “norming,” or becoming like some religions. Although pagans may continue to believe in magic, he said, “if we’re not careful, we’ll become the big white circle on Main Street where all the pews face forward.” He urged listeners to be of service — whether their calling is dance, music, drumming, ministry or filling out paperwork for government agencies so events such as the festival can take place.”

Also interviewed is author and Wiccan elder Ivo Dominguez Jr., who helped organize the event.

That is all I have for now. Have a great day!

The upcoming 15th (and final) annual New York Underground Film Festival will be hosting the international premiere of the documentary “Hoopeston”. The film looks at a formerly prosperous Illinois town as it deals with a declining economy, drugs, and the controversy caused by Witch School (and the Correllian Tradition that runs it) moving in.

Hoopeston – Trailer from Synydyne on Vimeo.

“Two and a half hours south of Chicago near the Illinois- Indiana border, once the global capital of sweet corn production, Hoopeston, according to residents, went from a town of “overachievers to underachievers in the span of just ten to fifteen years.” Church. Meth. Republicans. That’s about what’s left when town officials, hoping to create jobs, start offering to give away prominent downtown buildings to anyone with a business plan … but – whoops – guess who’s coming to dinner: a displaced Wiccan sect shopping downmarket for a good spot to open the “nation’s first witch school,” Witch School. A beads industry mover and shaker from Virginia Beach; a pagan CEO with a checkered romantic past; the Orson Welles-esque leader of the Corellian Tradition, since age thirteen… take a trip with these egos to the dork side.”

While the NYUFF description is somewhat mocking, the filmmakers seem quite sincere in wanting to impartially tell the story of the conflicts that emerged between Witch School and the heavily Christian town.

“The directors of the school faced stiff opposition from religious conservatives (Hoopeston has over a dozen churches – its other nickname is “The Holy City”). But the Witch School is now a fixture in Hoopeston, one that forces the town to ask whether its future lies in traditional industry or internet wand sales. Hoopeston tells the story of the former Sweet Corn Capital through the lives of its residents. A laborer struggles to find work, a young entrepreneur buys the only motel in town, the police chief battles a drug epidemic, and the Correllian Chancellor lays plans for a vast Crystal Web.”

The Hoopeston story doesn’t have a happy ending for Witch School. Due to a number of factors, including the ongoing lack of acceptance by locals, the school (and the Correllians) moved to the even smaller town of Rossville, Illinois to make a new start of building a “Salem of the Midwest” (a plan that seems increasingly unlikely, as Rossville seems even less enthusiastic than Hoopeston at Witch School’s presence). “Hoopeston” should be an interesting exploration of what happens when religious cultures clash outside the (mostly) tolerant (and secular) urban areas most Pagans flock to.

The New York Underground Film Festival runs from April 2nd through the 8th at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City’s East Village. “Hoopeston” is scheduled to screen on April 3 at 8:45 PM, with a repeat showing on April 8 at 9:30 PM. No word yet on other festival appearances or a DVD release.

It seems that this story is finally coming to a close. Witch School, the infamous online school founded by Ed Hubbard, has been sold to a coalition of buyers from the Correllian Nativist Tradition with Don Lewis at the head. This follows much speculation following the initial announcement that Witch School would be auctioned off on eBay.

“No one takes Witches and Pagans as a serious market force. By using eBay as a platform for selling, at least we can get fair exposure. It is not like we can list this in an ordinary newspaper and be taken seriously. Of course, everyone will probably take this as a joke. But Witch School is a serious business and opportunity for the right buyer”

Since then students tried to form a coalition to buy their own school, outside Pagans tried to purchase the school, and the auction was pulled from eBay due to claims that someone was hacking Witch School’s account. In the midst of all this, Ed Hubbard started making the news for criticizing Hoopeston, Illinois’ for its lack of acceptance.

“Hubbard sold his interest in the Witch School recently to add to his financial base for Illiana Web. He announced this fact at the Hoopeston City Council meeting on Monday, when he also told the council the Witch School would be gone May 1. Hubbard asked a simple question at the meeting of the mayor and each individual alderperson: “Do you want me to stay? Illiana Web is fully ready and Hoopeston can become a regional hub. Do you want a Regional WIFI hub here?” No one answered the question. Hubbard turned and left the meeting. Mayor Bill DeWitt said it was Hubbard’s prerogative to stay, but added after Hubbard left the meeting that, ‘If I was engaged in any business and had to take a public-opinion poll, by hell, I would move.’”

Now that the sale finished, one wonders if it being sold to a Correllian-affiliated group was the planned outcome all along? One of the few serious non-Correllian coalitions to attempt purchasing the school seemed to not get very far in their attempts to discuss a bid.

“We wished to meet with Witch School partners to discuss the matter, but that didn’t happen. We made an offer to the majority partner, but not on E-bay. We also had a lot of questions about finances, philosophy of the school, assets, etc.”

Ed Hubbard is planning to make a formal announcement regarding the sale soon (feel free to post a link to it in the comments once it surfaces). No doubt he will discuss how the final sale came about, and reveal the new status of the school under the leadership of Don Lewis. One can only hope the buyers, sellers, and Witch School students will be happy with this new/old arrangement. Some of the ethical questions raised by this entire process will most likely go unanswered, but it seems the matter of the sale is finished.