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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!

James L. Bianchi

James L. Bianchi

Earlier this year, I reported on an emergency Pagan conclave in California to discuss proposed regulations by the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) relating to religious items allowed by incarcerated Pagans. This “Religious Property Matrix” would significantly change the way religious materials were handled, and Pagan prison chaplains wrote impassioned editorials both for and against the new guidelines. Now, James L. Bianchi of the House of Danu’s chaplaincy program, who called the initial conclave, has issued a press release on proposed revisions to the property matrix that address many (but not all) concerns voiced by Pagans. Quote: “Though the revisions in the proposed Matrix represent substantial progress, we need to remain vigilant to ensure that the spiritual needs of our people are accommodated as required by federal law, and that Pagans enjoy the same religious freedoms as other religious traditions as required by the 1st, 5th, and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.” You can see the proposed revisions, here. Public comments on these changes are open until July 16th at 5pm, and can be sent to Timothy M. Lockwood, Chief, Regulation and Policy Management Branch, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Chalice & Blade

Chalice & Blade

From our “better late than never” department: Pagan band Chalice & Blade, which features songwriter and podcaster Mojo of The Wigglian Way, had one of their most popular songs, “I Hear You Calling,” featured on the US television show “Being Human” earlier this year. The episode “One is Silver and The Other Pagan” aired in February of this year, and is available for rental at Amazon.com for those who’d like to see it. As one might expect, the episode features a Wiccan coven: “In order to begin reconstructing a new life for herself, Sally seeks out Bridget, her old best friend. Bridget is unusually calm about Sally’s sudden reappearance as a flesh and blood human, which prompts Sally to ask a few questions. Bridget, it seems, has taken up with a local Wiccan group.” Due to the renewed interest in their music, Mojo, along with singer Wendy, have re-formed the band as a duo and are now playing gigs again. Chalice & Blade’s last album was 2006′s “Wild Hunt,” available at CD Baby. Congratulations to Chalice & Blade!

Glenn Turner (Photo: OaklandNorth)

Glenn Turner

The 2013 TheurgiCon, is coming up this Weekend, July 13th, at the Bay Area Thelemic Temple in Oakland. TheurgiCon was founded in 2010 by Glenn Turner, who also founded PantheaCon, and features discussions on Neo-Platonism and theurgy. This year, featured speakers include Don Frew (who provides a look at the non-Greek Hermetic texts), Richard Reidy (speaking on Iamblichus and divine possession) and T. Thorn Coyle, who will be talking about theurgy in practice. Quote: “Theurgists such as Iamblichus instructed us to work from gross to fine in our operations. But what does this mean? How can we best approach this? There is a simple formulation: Thought. Energy. Emotion. Matter. The contemporary magic worker can use these levels to gauge what is missing from her magic, uncovering how best to approach the Gods and any theurgic operation. This session will include discussion and a diagnostic meditative working.” This one-day intensive costs $40, and includes meals. You can read previous Wild Hunt coverage of this event, here.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 10.19.50 AMOn June 21st, a new book entitled “Cults and Criminals: Unraveling the Myths” was published, co-authored by Dr. David Oringderff, co-founder of Sacred Well Congregation, and “occult crimes expert” Don Rimer, who passed away at the beginning of 2012. The book claims to take you “beyond the hype” of occult crime. Quote: “There is likely no term that strikes holy terror in the western mind more than “Satanic Cult!” Most cults are not “Satanic.” Most criminals who commit horrific crimes, leaving satanic symbols, often in the victim’s blood, at the crime scene are not “Satanists.” This book takes you beyond the hype, hyperbole, misinformation, disinformation and urban legends of pop culture and mass media that suggest that all cults, cultic and occultic activities are inextricably intertwined with criminal activity. That is a fatally-flawed assumption. The truth is that most criminals are criminal and most cults are cults, and sometimes their paths cross.” The book makes it sound like it debunks the majority of “occult crime,” which would be a welcome narrative within law enforcement. Don Rimer was quoted in 2011 saying that “occult crime happens all over the world and it’s growing,”  so perhaps Mr. Rimer had a change of heart in the last years of his life? Anything is possible, and I certainly respect the work of Dr. Oringderff highly, so I’ll approach the book with an open mind.

 In Other Pagan Community News:

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

Three personages who’ve had an impact on our interconnected communities passed away recently: one a Wiccan Elder, and two scholars whose works have been cited repeatedly by Pagans, and indeed helped shape how many of us perceive ourselves. All three should be honored and remembered for their contributions, for what is remembered lives.

Mike Gleason (1951 – 2012): A beloved Elder within his community, Mike Gleason was an Alexandrian High Priest who distinguished himself as an early supporter of pan-Pagan festivals in the 1980s, and as a strong advocate for Pagan rights. This included serving as the head of WARD’s (Witches Against Religious Discrimination) Massachusetts chapter, the Witches Education League, and the Lady Liberty League. In addition to this, Gleason  was co-editor and publisher of the now-defunct  THINK! Magazine (1996-1999), and contributed to a number of print and Internet publications. You can read a selection of his recent book reviews, here.

“May those of us who mourn Mike’s passing take comfort in the memories of our good times with him and in knowing that his legacy within Paganism continues on in his writings and the many lives he enriched.”Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary

Mike Gleason is survived by his wife Cindy (Cynthia), his daughter Sheri Lynn, and his son Ed (Edward). Memorials are still in the process of being planned. His ashes are being interred at Circle Cemetery at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in Wisconsin. His family invites memorial gifts in his memory be made to Circle Sanctuary. May his spirit rest and return to us once again.

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (1953 – 2012):  An eminent professor of Western Esotericism at University of Exeter, and co-founder of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotercism (ESSWE), Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke is perhaps best known for his works exploring how esotericism interacted with fascist and extremist groups in books like “Black Sun,” “The Occult Roots of Nazism,” and “Hitler’s Priestess.” His most recent publication was 2008′s “The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction.” Sasha Chaitow of Phoenix Rising Academy remembers Goodrick-Clarke as “a gentleman, a fine scholar, and one of those teachers who always made you want to surpass yourself.”

“Through his work Nicholas expressed his great love for the history, culture and peoples of both England and Germany, and in the course of a distinguished academic career he brought his considerable intellect to bear upon their respective esoteric traditions. With his passing we have lost a wise and much-loved teacher, an incisive scholarly mind and a jovial and kind-hearted friend.”Hereward Tilton (University of Exeter), Wouter Hanegraaff (President of ESSWE)

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke is survived by his wife, Clare Goodrick-Clarke, also a professor at the Exeter Centre for the Study of Esotericism. In closing, Sasha Chaitow says that “my fellow-Exeter graduates and I have already concluded that the best tribute we can pay him is to try to  live up to his expectations and continue his vision of bringing the study of esotericism more firmly into academia.”

Anne Ross (1925 – 2012): While no official obituary or notice has been posted, I have received word from scholarly sources I trust that famed Celticist Anne Ross, author of “Pagan Celtic Britain” and co-author of “Life and Death of a Druid Prince” passed away recently. A former Research Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Southampton, and teacher of lecture courses at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, Ross spoke Gaelic and Welsh, and her work had a huge effect on modern Druidry and reconstructionist Celtic traditions. Interviewed many times due to her theories regarding the famous “Lindow Man,” and oft-remembered for her brief appearance in the television documentary series “The Celts,” her work on the Celtic “cult of the head” is still the primary starting place for study on the subject.

Speaking from my own experience, I know that her work was deeply influential during a time that I was immersed in Celtic scholarship and voraciously pored over  “Pagan Celtic Britain” looking for clues to unlock the mystery of the past. Modern Pagan oriented works like “The Isles of the Many Gods” owe a direct dept to her scholarship. No doubt many obituaries and remembrances will be forthcoming, and I will post them here once they emerge.

May all these spirits be remembered, may their wisdom and work endure, and may they return to us again.