Archives For Drew Jacob

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

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“Monotheists were pointing to a truth in speaking of the unity of love, but they did not yet have the number zero, the cipher, the void. By naming something one, they were trying to get at its unity. What they were not able to realize at the time, is that naming something one, instead of all, is a first separation out, it is a distancing that makes the All the Other. And therein lies trouble. Therein lies alienation. One, rather than remaining a unifying force, becomes a separate being. And that separation opens a deep wound. Mystics of all religions and cultures have experienced the truth of the wholeness of God Hirself as zero and all, regardless of the name their religion assigns to this concept of deity. Those that are not mystics have not always felt this unity, and have waged many bloody wars over the separation and disconnection they have felt. We sometimes fight these wars inside of ourselves, whether we believe in many Gods, no Gods, one God or a limitless Divinity that is all. We can feel separate from God Hirself. We can disconnect from the pattern of love. We can enter back into connection and the flow of the Limitless. In that flow we can become the center to her circumference and we can learn to include all. The limitless is beyond duality, beyond black and white, dark and light, anger and hope, though she is within all of these and expressed through all of these. The limitless is zero and many, nothing and all.” – T. Thorn Coyle, on God Hirself.

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop

I write songs. It’s my gig. For about 1/3 of every month I’m in Los Angeles writing, doing work in the ever-evolving Music Industry, and I really enjoy it. When I started this blog I was of the mindset that there needed to be a separate space for me to do my spiritual work. I couldn’t allow overlap with the promotional work I was doing around the release of my album. That could get messy. Too many people were invested in the success of the project for me to put that in jeopardy by being transparent, I though. But what I’m coming to discover is that there is really is no way to avoid overlap. You don’t have your “spiritual life” in a vacuum. You are all of the things that you are, pretty much all the time. At least, that’s my experience. For me, my creative process opens up spiritual understanding. And many times my spiritual explorations lead to creative inspiration. It’s interesting to me that I was so desperate to compartmentalize my life when I started this blog considering that many of my songs are directly influenced by different periods of my religious life. You can’t extract my spirituality from my music. Just ain’t gunna happen. So why keep the music apart from my spiritual work?” – Teo Bishop, on integration, identity, creativity, and the question of if his readers will follow the journey.

Sarah Veale

Sarah Veale

“We’ve discussed some constructions of women in antiquity previously on the blog. Specifically, we looked at how PlatonicHermeticGnostic, and even Kabbalistic texts painted a picture of womanhood that was far from complementary. Given this dicey outlook on femininity, it would be fair to consider if there was anything at all that the ancients found valuable in a woman. There is. It’s her butt. To be specific, it appears that ancient writers prized a large, round derrière. The converse, not so much. Now, I take no issue with this. In fact, as someone who has been endowed with a rather ample backside, the only way it could get better is if the perfect woman also had a lazy eye and spoke with a Chicago accent. Obviously, these fellows had their priorities in order. Hesiod, for one, knew the appeal of a lady with a big butt, connecting it directly to one’s sexual allure. However, even a plump booty couldn’t save a woman from her most basic problem: That she was a woman and full of lies.” – Sarah Veale, on big butts, and the ideal woman in antiquity.

Cat Chapin-Bishop

Cat Chapin-Bishop

“Why do owls call out in the autumn?  Their season of mating is over, the owlets have grown up and flown away… and in the small hours of the night, there are no daytime birds to mob them.  Are they responding to the coming winter, the season of death, and calling out for it?  Or are they calling out to one another still, pair of owls protecting their territory, making their presence known to ward off invaders who would threaten that pair and their life together? Autumn and winter are the season of the owl, at least at night, and when I cannot sleep.  And I am middle-aged, with the aches and pains of my oncoming menopause to keep me awake at night.  I cannot hide from my mortality, and I cannot hide from my fears, because the Season of the Owl is coming, and my voice may not be enough, when I call out in the night, to protect what I love most, and keep it with me, warm and safe in the time of cold. The stars are lovely overhead.  And if the owls are harbingers of death, they are also measures of the overwhelming nature of love.” – Cat Chapin-Bishop, on the season of the owl.

John Halstead

John Halstead

“It’s no coincidence that when I identified as Mormon (my primary religious identity), I took my Christianity for granted.  And when I left Mormonism, and “Christian” was all I had to identify myself with, then I was more skeptical of Mormonism’s Christianity.  Now that I am on the outside looking in, I see that the question of whether or not Mormons are Christians has less to do with Mormons than it has to do with the person asking the question. Because we have religious freedom and the right to self-determination, no one is going to keep anyone from calling themselves whatever they want to.  So what are we doing when we try to draw these lines to exclude one group or another from Christianity or from Paganism?  These lines don’t exist in the real world.  But they do exist within us.  When we define what “Christian” or “Pagan” means, we are really trying to define who we are.  I for one don’t believe this is avoidable.  Boundary drawing is an essential part of the process of identity formation.  But it behooves us to be conscious of what we are doing.  When we say that so-and-so is or is not Christian or Pagan, we are not really talking about them.  We are talking about ourselves.” – John Halstead, on Mormonism, Christianity, Paganism, and drawing boundaries.

Drew Jacob

Drew Jacob

“The Hero Round Table is a conference dedicated to creating more heroes in our world. That means at all levels: from workers who blow the whistle on illegal activity, to passersby who help accident victims, to simply speaking up when you believe something is wrong. As Matt would say, the opposite of a hero is not a villain—it’s a bystander. In Paganism, heroes are our bridge to the gods. The heroes of legend combine otherworldly traits with a very human set of weaknesses and faults. For all their imperfections, they show us that mortals can embody the highest ideals. All of us have the spark of heroism within us. For many Pagans, our entire ethics is evolved from the heroic ideal: individuals who follow their ideals, who do not recognize false authority, and who put the quest for truth first. While these ideas are rooted in ancient myth, today’s psychology suggests that they are quite real: there are ways to help people be more ready to act heroically when needed, ways to increase the level of heroic action in our society. Some of the people who pioneered that research will be speaking at the Round Table.” – Drew Jacob, on a summit for creating heroism, one that Pagans are invited to.

Dr. Robert Mathiesen

Dr. Robert Mathiesen

“While I was an active professor at a research university, I felt myself constrained not to take any oath of secrecy or confidentiality that would keep me from shedding light on the sources for my research, so I worked with the history of this Tradition exclusively from material that Gwen Thompson herself had published, or that was otherwise not oath-bound. As for future work on Thompson’s family and their esoteric interests, we shall see. Theitic has recently published an article about our collaboration in the latest issue of Michael Howard’s The Cauldron (no. 148), which might be of interest to your readers. I certainly plan to continue my research on the various kinds of pre-Gardnerian (or non-Gardnerian) Witchcraft in the United States. I am particularly interested in how women devised or invented Witchcrafts of their own, usually as a way to empower themselves, between the years 1860 and 1960. This happened more commonly than one might think. (Something similar was probably happening in the United Kingdom during the same decades.) In general, these women relied on popular books on the history of magic and witchcraft, on fiction about Witches and magicians, and on folklore (both in published form and in living oral tradition), as they invented Witchcrafts for themselves.” – Dr. Robert Mathiesen, on his work researching Gwen Thompson, and pre/non-Gardnerian Witchcraft.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“Perhaps I should state, first of all, that despite the fact that I’m of a non-typical gender identity, and I think that the boundaries of gender as currently defined by the overculture are problematic and needlessly narrow, nonetheless I’m not at all for the idea of the elimination of gender and gender identities altogether, and never have been. I think men are great; I think women are great; I think trans men and trans women are great; I think metagender and pangender and gender fluid and non-gendered people are great; I think that any and every potential gender is great. Just because I think there should be more options, and likewise I think that there should be more options within each gender option, does not mean that I am against the notion of there being “men” as classically defined or understood, or “women” as traditionally understood and defined. I think those are perfectly fine and valid choices to make within those genders, and as long as they do not exclude the possibility of other people making other choices, nor fall into the trap of thinking that their own gender identity is the only “real” type of woman or man, I don’t think there’s a problem. So, that’s that. However, I think there is a problem when certain conceptual categorizations within common notions of gender–whether they are those of the overculture or are those of a subculture like modern paganism most definitely happens to be–start to assume things that are not as true as they might like them to be, or are perhaps more wishful thinking than actual truth that is caused by flawed understandings.” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, on gender, and in response to Peter Dybing’s recent post about men and the Goddess.

Donald Michael Kraig's ring.

Donald Michael Kraig’s ring.

“When my friend gave me the finished ring, I initially looked at it in utter disappointment. As I looked at it she told me that all of the silver in it was recovered from melted rings that featured Masonic and other spiritual symbolism. She had made it spending many hours of work, and only worked on it during appropriate magickal hours. As I continued to look at the ring, I felt disheartened. It wasn’t what I would call “perfect.” The circles weren’t perfectly round. The lines weren’t perfectly straight. And then, I had a revelation; an epiphany. No other ring in the history of the Earth had ever been made like this one. No other ring in the history of the Earth had ever had all of the loving energy put into it in a magickal way as this artist had done. No other ring in the history of the Earth had ever been composed of the silver from those particular sources. No other ring in the history of the Earth had this particular design. Even if someone took the design and copied it, even if they made molds from this very ring, no other ring will ever be exactly like it. My epiphany was that this ring, with all of what I had previously seen as imperfections, was uniquely and absolutely perfect. This also changed my concept that items which were manufactured, stamped out, and one of 1,000 or more identical copies were “perfect.” I no longer consider them so. Even if they’re expensive I don’t care. I’ve come to value uniqueness and individuality over the conformity of of what others might call perfection.” – Donald Michael Kraig, on his magickal ring (pictured).

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

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!

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

Indonesian politician Permadi, photo by Edi Wiyono.

Indonesian politician Permadi, photo by Edi Wiyono.

William Blake, The Whore of Babylon, 1809, Pen and black ink and water colours, 266 x 223 mm, © The Trustees of the British Museum

William Blake, The Whore of Babylon, 1809, Pen and black ink and water colours, 266 x 223 mm, © The Trustees of the British Museum

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

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

An Appreciation of Nora Cedarwind Young: News has come from several sources that Circle Sanctuary Priestess, Death Midwife, chaplain, and Green Burial advocate Nora Cedarwind Young is terminally ill, and isn’t expected to live much longer. In response, Circle Sanctuary has posted an appreciation of her rich and varied life, allowing friends, family, and admirers to leave their own messages and remembrances.

Nora Cedarwind Young

Nora Cedarwind Young

“We invite you to share your memories and appreciations of Nora, her life, and legacy here. Nora is in the final part of her life’s journey, and although her condition is such that visitation and phone calls are not presently options, we plan to share with her what is expressed here. Please send love and support to Nora and to her husband Bud and to close friends Joanna, Elaine, and Giving who are assisting with caregiving.  Also, send love and support to Nora’s four children and four grandchildren.”

I was honored to meet and spend time with Nora at Pagan Spirit Gathering a few years ago. She acted as “Den Mother” to our cabin of featured presenters, and showed herself to be a warm, expansive, and embracing presence. It was obvious to me, and others, the inherent skills she possessed as a priestess, as a chaplain, and as a friend. My only regret is that I never took her up on her offer to visit her in Washington, it always seemed like there would be time enough for that in the future. I hope this transition is a gentle one for Nora, and that her gods will be with her, as she has been there for so many. My blessings.

Starhawk at Harvard: Author, activist, and Reclaiming co-founder Starhawk recently gave a talk at Harvard Divinity School entitled “Permaculture and the Sacred.” The video recording of that talk is now up and available to be viewed at the HDS website.

Starhawk at Harvard Divinity School.

Starhawk at Harvard Divinity School.

“Starhawk, contemporary witch, activist, and permaculturist, spoke at HDS on March 7, 2013, about how earth-based spirituality can inform and empower efforts to build sustainable communities and societies. Starhawk is a founder of Reclaiming, a contemporary Pagan tradition that blends Goddess spirituality and social activism, and of Earth Activist Trainings, which equips people to combine permaculture design with political organizing and spiritual practice. A leading interpreter of feminist Wicca, she is the author of The Spiral Dance,The Fifth Sacred Thing, The Empowerment Manual, and many other books.”

For more on Starhawk’s permaculture work, she has pictures and a narrative up from an Earth Activist Training she conducted in January on her blog. Starhawk’s most recent book is “The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups.”

Considering Sacred Space: The 2013 Sacred Space Conference in Maryland happened earlier this month, and several blogs now have reviews and insights up from their time there. Literata says that the conference “lives up to its description as a conference for intermediate to advanced esoteric and magical practitioners,” while the Heartache Into Beauty blog says “it raises the bar for other pagan events with its high-quality, high-level presentations and rituals.” Lastly, Irene the “Pink Pagan Priestess” described the conference as “amazeballs,” which I assume is high praise indeed.

Altars at Sacred Space.

Altars at Sacred Space.

“Sacred Space draws together a truly gifted group of presenters.  They come from an impressively varied background–we have established authors who are bravely breaking new ground, ritual practitioners from every path imaginable (Reconstructionist, Shamanic, British Traditionalist, Chaos Magick…you name it, it was probably there), and luminary Priests and Priestesses who have sought out new connections to Spirit and brought that knowledge back with them.  The only downside to the conference is that I do not own a time turner!  There were several times during Sacred Space when I wished to be in more than one place at one time.  The bevvy of fascinating topics was almost overwhelming.”

2014’s Sacred Space conference will be held March 13-16 and will feature Orion Foxwood, M. Macha Nightmare, and Selena Fox as featured presenters.

In Other Pagan Community News:

 

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

In honor of Labor Day Weekend, The Wild Hunt is taking off until Tuesday. Expect some “best of The Wild Hunt” reprints on Sunday and Monday. For today, here are some posts from across the Pagan blogosphere that you should check out.

  • “Mantras, Malas and the Witch’s Ladder” by Christopher Penczak. Quote: “If you keep any kind of regular spiritual practice over a long period of time, you’ll find that you can hit a wall. The tried and true technique just doesn’t do it for you like it once did. In my experience its not so much that the technique is at fault, or that you are at fault, as you’ve been sincerely using it as a part of your practice with regular frequency, but that you’ve hit a plateau or even made a permanent shift.”
  • “Where are the Missing Gods?” by Drew Jacob. Quote: “Even if you believe all the gods are totally individual beings – not faces of a single force – it still makes sense that, for example, the soul of the sun is going to appear quite different to people in the Sahara than to people in the Yukon. Much of divine personage is human trappings, or trappings used to communicate with humans. If a tribe never once has to worry about lack of rainfall, it makes sense that they won’t make a big deal out of the rain spirit. But I usually think of the plurality of gods (and their cultural adornment) as different perspectives on an essentially equivalent set of beings.”
  • “Pagans Among Wild Geese” by Teo Bishop. Quote: “Progressive Christian and Pagan communities have very different identities, and very different positions in relationship to mainstream culture. That said, I think it is useful for us to make note that these conversations are taking place at Wild Goose.”
  • Rites of Community” by Ivo Dominguez Jr. Quote: “To return to my statement that rites of passage are an important part of the maintenance of lasting organizations and communities, well conducted rites of passage create weighty collective emotional memory. By definition, rites of passage are held to celebrate and to anchor pivotal times in the lives of individuals. And though Pagans are prone to emphasizing the individual at all costs, rites of passage are as much about the community as they are about the individual.”
  • “Stirring the Cauldron” by M. Macha NightMare. Quote: “I think the stirrer of the cauldron performs an important, even vital, role.  Someone, preferably more than one, in every community should step up to the cauldron and stir it now and then, especially when the fire beneath the cauldron gets too hot.”
  • “Book review: Lord of Mountains” by Cara Schulz. Quote: “Every time I introduce a Pagan to the Emberverse series by SM Stirling, they curse my name. This is not an unusual reaction and it’s one shared by non-Pagans, too.  I’ve lost seven copies of the first book in the series, Dies the Fire, because the persons who borrowed them from me lent them out to others.  And so on.  Then they all curse my name for turning them on to such an addictive series.  The series is addictive to Pagans because it spells out one of our fantasies – what would it be like if our religions were dominate in the community we live in?  Or at least one of the dominate religions? If our rituals, our ethics, our Gods were unabashedly the norm and seen as positive and vibrant and diverse.”

That’s it for now, have a great weekend everyone!

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note 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!

Drew Jacob’s Heroic Path: PNC-Minnesota reports that Drew Jacob, former head of the now-defunct Temple of the River, Patheos columnist, and author of “Walk Like A God,” will embark on an over 3000-mile walk from Minnesota to Brazil in South America, a trip that Jacob sees as a spiritual calling.

PNC-MN Editor Cara Schulz, Drew Jacob, & PNC Contributor Diana Rajchel

“I decided to live the Heroic Life after many years of telling the myths of the ancient heroes. One day I realized that although their stories are fun to read or hear, they would be more fun to live. So I’ve begun to change my entire life to be able to travel and do great things.  To live the Heroic Life means taking action, living for high ideals, charging fearlessly into new and grand plans, building a name around your art or skill, and using your life to change the way the world works.”

Jacob will begin the walk in the Spring after months of training, including a martial arts intensive in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He said that “I believe in a life of travel, traveling freely and finding your purpose in life.  I believe in doing amazing things.” Drew Jacob will be blogging his trip and experiences, here.

A New Abraxas Appears: Abraxas: The International Journal of Esoteric Studies has released its second volume.

“Treadwells and Fulgur are delighted to announce the second issue of the esoteric journal ABRAXAS is now available to pre-order. As with our first issue, writers and artists have kindly submitted material from across the globe: Argentina, Australia, the United States, Mexico, Finland, Poland and the United Kingdom are all represented. Substantially larger than the previous issue, Abraxas 2 offers over 210 pages of essays, poetry, interviews and art, much of it published for the first time. Uniquely produced in a large high quality format, printed on a variety of papers, richly illustrated in colour and monochrome, and offering our first free audio supplement, we hope this issue of Abraxas will provoke and inspire.”

You can find a full list of contributors, here. The new volume of Abraxas will also be available at Seattle’s Esoteric Book Conference being held on September 10th and 11th.

Starhawk Says Thank You: As I mentioned previously the planned movie adaptation of Starhawk’s novel “The Fifth Sacred Thing” has reached its first fundraising goal. Over $75,000 dollars was pledged towards making a professional pitch video to the major film studios. Starhawk, along with producers Paradox Pollack and Philip ‘Mouse’ Wood, have made a special thank-you video to mark the end of this first phase.

Pollack also recently appeared on the Paradigms radio show to talk about the film and the campaign. Future updates on this project can be found at their Facebook page, or the official project website.

More Community Notes:

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

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

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

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note 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!

Isaac Bonewits Memorial DVD Controversy: Back in August of 2010 Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) held a special memorial service at the Summerland Gathering in Ohio for their founding Archdruid Isaac Bonewits who passed away on August 12th. The memorial service was captured on video, and placed on Youtube so those who couldn’t be there could see it. Since then, the ADF has made a DVD of that video footage available for purchase, a move that has upset Bonewit’s ex-wife Deborah Lipp and their child Arthur.

“You can say, Isaac wanted to give money to ADF and therefore it’s acceptable, or you can say, Isaac placed what was right and proper and honorable before profit, always, and therefore it’s utterly unacceptable. I knew him very well, and I can hear him saying “tacky” quite clearly in my ear, but I recognize the subjectivity of that. In the end, I can only speak to what I feel is right, and respectful, and kind. To commodify the death of a great man is not respectful. To do so at an event where he was being honored is not right. To do so when his only son was at that event was not kind.”

The ADF responded by saying that they are only charging for the DVD “to recoup a fraction of the costs associated with their creation,” and that the DVD was only made so that those without broadband Internet access could see the footage. Lipp responded by calling the production of a DVD “tasteless, disrespectful, undignified, and uncompassionate to those for whom this loss is personal.” Shortly after Lipp’s open letter started circulating Phaedra Bonewits, Isaac’s widow, posted her own thoughts on the matter, her opinions veered sharply from the idea that the ADF were “uncompassionate” in their move to sell a DVD.

“Bottom line, I do not want anyone to think that the opinions of Ms. Lipp, Isaac’s ex wife, represent my feelings, or the sentiments of any other member of Isaac’s family other than those of her son, Arthur Lipp-Bonewits. They are entitled to feel what they feel, but their feelings are not representative of the rest of us. I can’t presume to speak for Isaac, not really. But he did put his legacy in my hands because he loved and trusted me, as I loved and trusted him. Thus, I want to state unequivocally that I do not find the videotaping of the memorial, nor the distribution of the DVDs at nominal cost to be in any way disrespectful or exploitative of his memory. I completely support ADF in this situation, as do his siblings and his own mother.

This is obviously an emotionally intense subject, and I’m only reporting on this now because all parties involved have decided to make public their positions in the matter. I know from firsthand experience that the loss of a loved one is never easy, and the initial months, even years, after their passing can be fraught with unknown obstacles and a unique liminality brought on by grief. To lose someone who was a beloved public figure, who many people feel a sense of connection to, is no doubt even more complex and trying an experience. To paraphrase our nation’s president, I think it’s above my pay-grade to make a judgment call on this situation. It is what it is, a difference of opinion regarding what actions were proper and respectful. I wish all involved every blessing, and would guess that Isaac himself would relish engaging in the question at hand, though we are now all bereft of his direct insight in the matter.

Temple of the River in Minnesota Closes its Doors: Yesterday PNC-Minnesota reported that Temple of the River, an Irish Cottage Temple in NE Minneapolis, was closing its doors and that the religious community sponsoring it, The Old Belief Society, is disbanding. Temple of the River’s priest, Drew Jacob, made waves across the Pagan community recently with an article titled “Why I’m not Pagan.” Cara Schulz of PNC-Minnesota conducted an exclusive interview with Jacob about the move, and what the future holds for its priest.

“To put it simply, it’s not helping enough people change their lives. We have a large community and terrific events, but the Temple isn’t making the impact I want to see it make. As a priest, I’ve witnessed a significant shift in people’s spiritual needs. The needs that Temple of the River was designed to fulfill—a place for community, and accurate knowledge about historic practices—simply aren’t as badly needed now as they were ten years ago.

Instead I see people searching for a way to take charge of their lives. That has to be the priority, because the world is changing, and people feel lost, or stuck. The economy, technology and culture are all shifting. 20th century strategies for life don’t work well anymore, so there are a lot of people out there who aren’t happy with their lives. What I want to teach people is how to change that. How to live boldly and lead a life of victory. I want to empower people.”

Jacob now says he’ll devote his time to the Heroic Life, “a new spirituality for the 21st century” that’s “based on bravery and adventure.” Temple of the River will hold one last event on Midsummer’s Eve, and a final meditation session the week before.

Hutton Responds to Whitmore, Explains His Process: Chas Clifton reports that the The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies has posted a freely accessible article by British historian Ronald Hutton (author of “The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft”) entitled “Writing the History of Witchcraft: A Personal View.” In the piece Hutton discusses the course his work has taken, situates it within a larger body of scholarly work, and proposes three possible futures for the writing and reception of Pagan history by “practitioners outside the academy.” He also directly addresses the book-length critique of his work, “Trials of the Moon: Reopening the Case for Historical Witchcraft,” written by Ben Whitmore.

“It [Trials of the Moon] is devoted entirely to my own work. Although he allows that I have some virtues, at the opening and the end, these concessions seem very hollow in view of everything in between. He sums up the message of Triumph as being that modern Pagan witch-craft is “entirely a new invention, cobbled together by a few eccentrics,” with no link to any earlier form of “Pagan spirituality.” This is of course a travesty of its intended message. The whole purpose of his own bookis to destroy my reputation as an authority upon the history of Paganism and witchcraft, at least among Pagans, and especially belief in the argu-ments of Triumph. He has carried out very little research into primary source material. What he employs instead is a number of secondary texts of varying quality and drawn from a wide span of time. Whenever he finds a passage in these which apparently contradicts me, he proclaims that I am proved wrong. He also examines some of the works from which I have quoted myself and claims that I have misrepresented them. Nobody who believes his assertions can be left with anything other than the impression that I am an unscrupulous and deceitful individual motivated by a concealed hostility to Paganism. Most of the use that I make of source material is passed over in silence: only the apparent faults are highlighted. Where I address properly in later publications matters that he accuses me of neglecting in Triumph, this is taken as confirmation of my earlier guilt rather than a negation of it. By the same tactic, aspects of earlier work of mine to which he takes exception, and which are differently handled in Triumph, are still made to stand as examples of my turpitude. He criticises me for not defining terms like “witchcraft” with absolute precision, but then makes no attempt to do so himself, keeping them as fluid as possible so that they can fit a range of different meanings. He likewise makes no attempt to construct an alternative history of witchcraft and Paganism to my own: his whole purpose is simply to undermine confidence in me, so that—presumably—Pagan witches can go back to believing whatever they did before I wrote. Most of the points on which he tries to fault me are of detail, often trivial, and his hope is clearly that if he can put enough small cuts into my reputation for reliability, then faith in it will leak away.”

There’s much more, so those interested in this debate should download and read the whole thing. I must say that I share Hutton’s dream of a consensual picture of Pagan history based on primary sources, made in conjunction with Pagan writers and outside scholars, rather than “a number of mutually hostile sects, with different versions of history centered on rival writers,” or generational-based “acrimonious division.” Here’s hoping that our future is one of cooperation and collaboration instead of deepening divisions or impassible generational shibboleths. For even more on this topic, The Pomegranate also features a formal review of Whitemore’s book by Peg Aloi, and  Chas Clifton tackles yet another “grandmother story.” For all of my coverage of Whitmore’s work, click here.

Other Community Notes:

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

I put in my two cents yesterday, and the Patheos Pagan portal continues to gather different perspectives, but I thought I’d highlight some of the voices that have sounded off on the issue of using “Pagan” as a descriptor for our diverse movement since Friday. Let’s start with T. Thorn Coyle, who’s written extensively on this subject before, and now weighs in again.

“I’m all for self-definition. I’m also, as I’ve stated before, suspicious of too much clinging to solid identity. There is also a sense, though, that a larger umbrella of association can be of help to us. There are commonalities of worship and belief and practice, even while there are stark differences among us. I’m with Drew in that I’ve attended Druid rituals that were a lot more in line with other neoPagan rituals than I had hoped or expected. There is a homogeneity that has crept in that feels problematic, but I don’t feel there has to be. I would far prefer that Heathen and Druid rituals look almost nothing like Wiccan rituals and that we could all learn something from this cross pollination, and still sit around the same fire, sharing the beverages of our choice. Why? Only ever sitting in our separate enclaves feels like we are missing out on some opportunities for growth and self-examination. Why do we do ritual in the way we do? Why not? How do we interact with our Goddesses and Gods? What is our theology and why?

Sitting around the fire with people we don’t agree with pushes us to become better, to think more deeply, to practice more concretely, to stretch our muscles. When we only live in association with like-minded folk, we are the lesser for it. There is nothing that says we cannot associate with a wide variety of groups without all coming under a common rubric. But the reality is, mostly we don’t and won’t. Mostly, we will drift further and further apart, coming back to the sense of, “We are not like those people over there. They are of a different tribe. We have our own.” The thought of that saddens me.”

Another thoughtful essay comes from P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, who examines the (perceived) problem with Pagan.

“It seems to me that much of the discussion elsewhere on the internet over the validity and appeal, or lack thereof, of the term “pagan” is because far too many people are mistaking it for a religion rather than a descriptor. They then feel left out or marginalized or not accurately described by the term because they have conflated the descriptor with another religion–usually Wicca–and then they observe that Wiccan practices and beliefs do not align with their own, and thus don’t apply to them; or, they observe Wiccans have not represented their beliefs in their rituals and presentations and events, and thus they feel excluded because of that, and also feel that there is no interest in other types of paganism within Wiccan contexts. I don’t mean to downplay the experiences or the feelings of the people who have described their approaches to the term in these sorts of ways; indeed, I think that the generic Wiccan assumptions that portray themselves as “Pagan” need to be seriously questioned, and true inclusiveness needs to start happening on a much larger scale than it has previously. But, likewise, I don’t think that any of us should just “let them have the term” either–we need to do everything we can to prove true the phrase that “Not all pagans are Wiccans” (and perhaps later we can also address the fact that “not all Wiccans are pagans” as well…but that’s a side issue for the moment!).”

Daughters of Eve Contributor Nouvelle Noir Goddess gives an African Traditionalist perspective.

“In my experience with the African Traditionalist “community” there are even debates on what individuals prefer to call themselves: Yoruba based religions, African Traditional Religion, Pagan, our exact religion name (Ifa, Vodou, Hoodoo, Batuque, ect). We also don’t come into an agreement with names of practitioners (Bruja/Brujos or Curanderas for Spanish speaking practitioners, mainly Mexico, for an example). Even in my native familial country of Haiti there is many divination of what Vodou is. Some believe that monotheism best describes the religion. Since there is a Supreme Deity, who is remote or “active” pending on the practitioner. Monotheism doesn’t have negative connotations for many Haitians. Similar to Catholicism is seen as Monotheist with saints as intermediaries. So, it is with the concept of monotheism in Vodou (and its many forms: Vodun, Vodu, Voodoo,ect) or Fon Religion (Vodou is Fon based not Yoruba based). Nevertheless, there are individual practitioners who find comfort with using the terminology of polytheism/polytheist for they don’t feel the connection with the Supreme deity. At times, the Supreme deity can be “out of sight out of mind.”

There is another growing use of the terminology of “Pagan” and “Wiccan” with many immigrants from Latin American society who still holds onto their indigenous practices. For many immigrants identifying themselves as “Wiccan” is away to inform “the others” who are not of their practice that their religion is “peaceful” and “nature based.” I’ve actually heard Santeria practitioners tell others that they are Wiccan. Their intention is not degrade the actual Wiccans but to inform U.S. unknowledgeable “spectators” that they are not sinister, since Wicca is a religion that most “mainstream” Abraham followers at least heard of or know of. Believe it or not, it does hold less negative stigma to refer oneself as Wiccan than hougan, mambo, Vodou/Santeria practitioners, and the likes. I’m sure Wiccans born in the states and raised in the states may not believe it. Yet, it is these individuals truth. So, many times when I tell individuals that I am Pagan, who are not Pagan, jump into the next question of, “Are you Wiccan?” Wiccan is not seen as a “threat” than being from a religion that is not indigenous or known in the U.S. Yes, there is more awareness of Wicca than any other “Pagan” denominations/faith. This is were I can appreciate non-Wiccans sentiments in feeling alienated by the media.”

Finally, Star Foster interviews Drew Jacob, who got this whole ball rolling in the first place.

“It’s an effort to be as honest with the community as we can be. People can define Paganism however they want, but the fact is that when we call ourselves Pagan and focus on a Pagan-identified audience, we get a lot of disappointed guests. None of my students feel like they are part of the Pagan community, and most of our community members don’t, so why would we lie and say we’re part of it?

I let the community steer me on this one. A few years back I assembled a document that exhaustively described all the branches of Celtic religion from the Iron Age to today. I included everything, even Celtic Christianity and Romano-Celtic syncretism. I asked the students to discuss where in this document our tradition, the Old Belief, would fall. They came up with some really astute observations that helped us define ourselves. They told me we didn’t fit with the “Pagan” groups. So really, it was a matter of community consensus.”

There’s even more from Peter Dybing, Teo Bishop, Lamyka, Crystal Blanton, and Alorer (among yet more still). I think there’s been a lot of productive thoughts and comments made on this issue so far, but I hope the next step is to start talking to each other and working on ways to still collectively accomplish larger goals while allowing our distinctiveness to be expressed.

 

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

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed. Oh, and do check out the Witchtalk Conjure podcast/radio show tonight, I’ll be making a special appearance.