VICTORIA, Aus. — Robin Fletcher, convicted sex offender, is once again seeking more relaxed supervision. In 1998, Fletcher was jailed for the rape and prostitution of two 15-year-old girls. He reportedly told the girls that the acts were part of their Witchcraft initiations, and he maintained that premise throughout his court hearings. Fletcher has been quoted as saying that his arrest was based on “a huge cultural misunderstanding” and that “his practices had a symbolic religious meaning and were not sexually motivated.”
However, the courts were unconvinced, and Fletcher served an eight-year sentence that ended in 2006. He was then released under strict supervision. Since that time, Fletcher has been working to either remove or lessen the court’s order. In late 2015, that supervisory order was extended to at least June 2016.
Once again, the case has come up for discussion, and the courts will reportedly decide in Feb. 2017 whether or not his status should change. Fletcher’s lawyer is quoted as saying, “[His] blindness, disability and notoriety mean he is unlikely to re-offend if released into the community.” However, lawyers for the province have argued that “even a low risk [is] still too great.”
Blogger and Wild Hunt social media director Cosette Paneque has been following this case and its effects on the Australia Pagan community, as a whole. In a blog post, Paneque wrote, “Fletcher’s crimes have had a devastating and long-lasting effect on the Pagan community in Victoria, if not all of Australia. It’s a wound to the Pagan community that hasn’t fully healed and Fletcher has become a cautionary tale, a bogeyman that keeps Pagans suspicious of each other.”
* * *
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The Appalachian Pagan Ministry (APM) recently announced that its work to directly assist Pagan and Heathen inmates has continued to expand. Founded in 2015 by Donna Donovan, the APM is reportedly the first and only Pagan ministry program allowed into both West Virginia and Ohio prisons. Donovan explains, “Up till (sic) now, Pagan inmates were allowed to meet once a week and to celebrate two holidays a year, but were not allowed to have any sort of religious ceremony or ritual without outside Pagan clergy present.”
The West Virginia Department of Corrections has approved APM to facilitate meetings, rituals, and ceremonies. The situation is similar in Ohio, and the ministry is working to grow its presence in both states. Donovan has said that their ministry are currently serving monthly at five facilities in West Virginia: St Mary’s, Salem, Lakin, Pruntytown, and Huttonsville correctional facilities, and four in Ohio: Allen-Oakwood, Southern Ohio, Warren and Chillicothe correctional facilities, including death row.
Donovan adds, “These inmates, male and female alike, know the mistakes they have made in their lives. They are paying for those mistakes. Yet instead of wallowing in self pity or continuing to blame outside sources for their current situation, they are holding themselves accountable and doing what they can to grow in body, mind and spirit to ensure they do not make those same mistakes again.”
* * *
BURNABY, B.C. — The Wigglian Way Pagan Podcast is celebrating its tenth anniversary. “We started the show as a service to our Gods, Spirit, and the community. The fantastic part is that we receive so much love in return. Its all about the love.” says co-host Mojo, one half of the team responsible the Wigglian Way’s 142 episodes.
His partner in life and podcasting, Sparrow, said that she was pleasantly surprised with the success and longevity of the series. “Ten years? I didn’t think it would go past one episode!” For the anniversary edition of the show, listeners were invited to share a short segment about what they were going to do to create change or to spread love in the near future. That show originally aired Dec. 29. In Jan. 2017 the pair will launch their second decade of Pagan podcasting.
In Other News
- The latest edition of The Pomegranate:The International Journal of Pagan Studies (Vol.18, No. 2) is now available. The issue contains four papers, by Pavel Horák, Christina Beard-Moose, Ronald Hutton, and Laurel Zwissler respectively. It also includes six book reviews by different writers. The new issue is currently available only online, but printed copies are coming soon. While the book reviews are free to download, the essays are available by subscription only.
- The deadline for submissions to PAPERS (Polytheist and Pagan Educational Research Symposium) is coming up, on Jan. 15. PAPERS is a new academic-based forum to be held during the Mystic South conference. Ryan Denison, the founder of this symposium, is himself an educator and speaker with a background in American and world history. He launched PAPERS after wanting to see more academic-based discussions hosted at regular Pagan events and, more specifically, those held in the southeast region of the U.S. Denison lives in Atlanta and will be personally facilitating the symposium. Mystic South will be held in Atlanta on July 21-23, 2017.
- Speaking of the coming year, John Beckett has decided to offer his own personal divination for 2017. However, he doesn’t use traditional methods. Instead, his tool of choice is a Dracula-inspired coloring book. He begins, “Given the annus horribilis of 2016, I’ve been planning for my first post of 2017 to be a divination into what we can expect in this new year … and I’ve been hoping I’d see something encouraging. I assumed I’d do a Tarot reading, since Tarot is the divination system with which I have the most experience and most confidence. I certainly wasn’t planning on doing a divination by coloring book – I had no idea such a thing was possible.”
- Damien Echols, who is best known for being wrongfully convicted as part of the West Memphis Three case, was spotted at the popular Houston arts and music festival Day for Night. Echols, who is now practicing ceremonial magician as well as a professional artist, was at the festival to present his own art installation called ‘Crimson Lotus’ and, simultaneously, offer an esoteric-based ritual art experience. According to Hyperallergic, “He led festival-goers through the meditative practice he had used to concentrate his hope on a release while in prison.”
- For readers in the Los Angeles area, The Love Witch, a film by Anne Biller, will be returning to the silver screen after its successful 2016 debut. Over the year, Biller’s film was listed on several top ten lists as one of the best independent movies released over the year. In May we spoke with her about the project and its portrayal of Witchcraft and Wicca. Read that discussion and our review.