Archives For Hellenism

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. Pagan Community Notes is just one of the many regular features The Wild Hunt brings you to help keep you informed about what’s going on in our interconnected communities. If you appreciate this reporting, please consider donating to our Fall Funding Drive (and thank you to the over 200 supporters who have already donated). Now, on to the news…

Patrick McCollum

Patrick McCollum

Pagan prison chaplain Patrick McCollum has penned an open reaction letter in response to a New York Times article about a Southern Baptist Bible college located inside the Louisiana State Penitentiary. In the letter, McCollum cautions fellow prison chaplains against celebrating this move unless they’d want to see a similar setup for a Wiccan seminary, and ends with the advice he’d give the warden in Louisiana if asked. Quote: “I support the good work of the seminary, and I would encourage the warden or other wardens, if they want to move in this direction, and if it were found that such programs were Constitutional ( which I seriously doubt) to invite minority faiths to have the same support and advantages they are offering the Bible college.  I would also caution the current seminary to review their objectives and adjust them to bring service to all and a good general education, without including conversion as a component.  If inmates feel moved after seeing the good work done by the seminary to convert, more power to them. While there is a serious question as to whether the situation described is Constitutional at all, the more important question is, is it ethical? Is it okay to submit confined inmates who cannot escape or move out of range of this program and who know up front that signing up for it will put them in good favor with the warden and staff and make their prison stay more comfortable and even give them status.” Religious education in prison is an ongoing issue, one that Pagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary has decided to explore with their new Pagan Life Academy.

1391905_10151682113826724_2043938403_nWriter, occultist, and musician Lon Milo DuQuette will be releasing a new album, “Gentle Heretic,” on October 31st. Downloads of the new songs are already available at CD Baby. Quote: “After a twenty five year hiatus from the music business and the recording studio, Lon Milo DuQuette is in the midst of a burst of musical creativity. Eighteen months after his 2012 debut on Ninety Three Records, DuQuette has wrapped production on “Gentle Heretic”, his third collection of original material. While “Heretic” maintains the wit and stylistic traditions established in his first two Ninety Three works (“I’m Baba Lon” and “Baba Lon II”), DuQuette has sharpened his satirical pen on some tracks, pulling few punches politically or philosophically. A prolific author and expert in Western Hermeticism, the Aleister Crowley disciple’s new disc tweaks the beaks of the one percent, pokes fun at the proselytizers – there’s even a scathing salvo served on a certain December holiday. Mixed in with these messages are some delightful frolics covering everything from reincarnation to a quantum theory of courtship. The final forty-one seconds might be described as the acoustic equivalent of a YouTube cat video.” You can find out more about this release at Ninety Three Records.

banner4Pandora’s Kharis, a charity circle run by Hellenic Polytheists, was recently launched. The new group, sponsored by Elaion, aims to raise money for “charities and causes which align with our ideals, our Gods and our communities.” Quote: “Pandora’s Kharis is a movement which arose from within the Hellenistic Polytheistic community, and sponsored by Hellenistic Polytheistic organization Elaion. Its goal is to come together as Hellenists–followers of the ancient Hellenic (Greek) Gods–and collect funds monthly to support a worthy cause, decided upon by vote from the members of the group. Donations will be collected throughout the month and provided to the organization on the Noumenia; the religious beginning of the new month, which coincides with the return of the moon after it’s just gone through its dark phase. It is a time of hope and promise, and Pandora’s remaining gift after the amphora was opened was exactly that. As such, she has been elected to represent what we stand for: to keep an open eye of wonder towards the world, to see the good in it, and to offer hope to those in need.” In an editorial for Witches & Pagans, Terence P. Ward praised the formation of Pandora’s Kharis, noting that “perhaps even more exciting — at least from a business perspective — is that the idea is easily replicated.  Wiccans, Heathens, polytraditional solitaries all could create their own groups for amplifying the power of their giving.  By narrowing the focus from the incredibly broad and often contradictory beliefs of Pagans down to the ethics and values of a particular subset of the Paganiverse, we are likely to see more public giving by Pagans.” More information can be found at the organization’s new web site.

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • A new London-based shop based around traditional conjure work, London Conjure, was launched this week. The enterprise was founded by Katelan Foisy (“La Gitana”), who is based in New York City, and Sister Enable, based in the UK. Quote: “Though much of their work is based on Romany “Gypsy” Magic passed down from generation to generation and traditional Hoodoo conjure work, they also work with spirits used in Haitian Vodou, Santeria or other enlightened spirits depending on what will work best to achieve their clients’ objectives.” You can learn more about the founders, here. You can also read a Q&A with Katelan Foisy.
  • A new book of commentaries on Aleister Crowley’s The Book of the Law“Overthrowing the Old Gods: Aleister Crowley and the Book of the Law,” has been published. Quote: “Boldly defying Crowley’s warning not to comment on the Book of the Law, Ipsissimus Don Webb provides in-depth interpretation from both Black and White Magical perspectives, including commentary from Dr. Michael A. Aquino, who served as High Priest of the Temple of Set from 1975 to 1996. Webb examines each line of the Book in the light of modern psychology, Egyptology, existentialism, and competing occult systems such as the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff and contemporary Left-Hand Path thought.”
  • At PNC-Minnesota, Lisa Spiral Besnett covers the 32nd Annual Women and Spirituality Conference in Mankato, Minnesota. Quote: “This conference is sponsored by the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at the University of Minnesota, Mankato.   Cindy Veldhuisen, the Business Manager for the Conference, told me that there were about 540 attendees this year.  This is up from last year. Some of the reason for the increase in attendance can likely be attributed to this year’s keynote speaker, Starhawk.  This is Starhawk’s third appearance as keynote speaker for the Woman & Spirituality conference.  She draws attendees from across the five state area as well as from the east coast, Colorado and Canada.  Many of the women I spoke with who were familiar with Starhawk were also alumni of the Diana’s Grove Witch Camp.”
  • Cosette, in Australia, gives an update on the Pagan/New Age event in Wedderburn, which experienced opposition from local Christian groups. Quote: “It sounds to me like there was a lot of interest in the New Age festival and that’s what people really went out there for. What Tonkin and other Christians like her fail to realize is that there’s a church on every corner and a Bible in every motel room, library, and book shop. Christianity is the dominant and privileged religion in Australia; finding information about it and other Christians is easy. Finding Witches, Wiccans, good resources, and a supportive Pagan or New Age spiritual community is much harder, and made all the more difficult by people like Tonkin who seek to defame alternative religions, and frighten those seeking them while attempting to silence those who practice them.”
  • Issue of #27 of Witches & Pagans Magazine was released on October 15th, and features an interview with Teo Bishop, conducted by T. Thorn Coyle. Quote: “This issue guest-stars a triplet of fascinating Pagan notables. Paranormal and detective novelist Alex Bledsoe sold his first magickal “Lady Firefly” story to PanGaia in 1998. Catch up with his journey in this conversation with Deborah Blake; then listen in as the inimitable T. Thorn Coyle talks with Pagan blogger, mystic, Druid and musician (aka Matt Morris) Teo Bishop; and visit with Renaissance woman, writer, and community leader Tish Owen.”

That’s all I have for now, please remember to support The Wild Hunt during our Fall Funding Drive so that we can continue to bring you reporting from our interconnected communities!

Last month, in one of my regular link roundups, I mentioned the extremist Greek political party Golden Dawn, and how Greek Jews were increasingly fearful of their rabid antisemitism. In closing that brief blurb, I made mention of the fact that the party had, when it suited them, appropriated Hellenic and pre-Christian trappings to reinforce their pure Greek identity.

“For those wondering, the party did/does embrace nationalistic pseudo-pagan trappings, but has also realized the populist potential of catering to Greek Orthodoxy. Like most fascists, belief and tradition are simply avenues to power.”

Shortly after that post, I received an email from a supporter of the Golden Dawn, chastising me (as a Pagan) for not being on-board with the controversial political party.

Golden Dawn rally at Thermopylae, congregating around a statue of King Leonidas of Sparta

Golden Dawn rally at Thermopylae, congregating around a statue of King Leonidas of Sparta.

“In an article by Jason Pitzl-Waters, you make mention that Greece’s Golden Dawn is only using tradition and esoteric nostalgia to get into power, and accuse them of also working in [with] Greek Orthodox Christianity. Yet you make no mention of the Greek Orthodox turning against Golden Dawn and accusing them of being ‘Pagans.’ The church asked the party to clarify its position on paganism, including worship of ancient Greek gods. Golden Dawn accused them of kowtowing to the establishment. Why have you not mentioned this? And why have you not spoken about the Golden Dawn’s pilgrimage to the oracle in delphi? Or the recent spiritual honoring of King Leonidas at a statue built in his honor? They have also been accused of making sacrifices to ancient Greek gods. Who knows if that is true, but have you heard of any political parties anywhere in the world this open and friendly to paganism? yet you attack them with your words. Why not be friendly to these people, who only want to save Greece and crush international Zionism and the banking system. Golden Dawn may only be around for a short time maybe only decades who knows, maybe a lifetime, but while they are here, a task has been assigned to them. Golden Dawn are not followers but leaders, and any church that has attacked us can be sure to receive wrath in the future. Any group that we have extend our hand to in kindness that then turns around and attacks us will be handled without mercy. This can be said for any church or religion that has attacked our Golden Dawn and our great leaders, including the Greek Orthodox church. Not to mention those who we never approached in friendship like the jewish, Zionist controllers of Greece today. Today is only a day but tomorrow a great golden dawn will rise, not just in Greece but across all Europe and the world. As our great leader Nikos Michaloliakos has promised ‘When we are strong, we will be merciless!’

I’ve spared you the link to the white nationalist/supremacist site Stormfront that was included in the message, though I think the anti-Semitic rhetoric and with-us-or-against-us language makes it pretty plain where the writer stands. I was going to simply ignore the letter, archiving it my ample “cranks” file, but I felt this issue deserved more attention. Especially now that the Greek government has taken action against Golden Dawn for their role in the murder of an anti-fascist musician and activist.

Extreme-right Golden Dawn party senior lawmaker Christos Pappas is escorted by anti-terrorism police officers to a courthouse in Athens October 3, 2013. Photo: Yorgos Karahalis/REUTERS

Extreme-right Golden Dawn party senior lawmaker Christos Pappas is escorted by anti-terrorism police officers to a courthouse in Athens October 3, 2013. Photo: Yorgos Karahalis/REUTERS

“Some 35 people associated with the political party Golden Dawn, which gained 18 MPs in parliament last spring, were arrested on Saturday in a crackdown sparked by the stabbing murder of an anti-racism rapper last month. ‘This government is determined not to allow the heirs of the Nazis to poison our social life, to commit crimes, to terrorize and to undermine the foundations of the country that gave birth to democracy,’ Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said in a brief televised address after the death of rapper Pavlos Fyssas.”

So how deep are the Golden Dawn’s ties to Hellenic polytheism and modern Paganism in Greece? Do any of them support this party with deep ties to fascist ideals? I turned to Christos ‘Pandion’ Panopoulos, a Hellenic polytheist in Greece, who admitted that the issue of Paganism/polytheism in Greece is “a pretty complicated picture,” but that, for the most part, Hellenic polytheists and Greek Pagans aren’t falling in line with the toxic racism and ultra-nationalism of the Golden Dawn.

Christos 'Pandion' Panopoulos

Christos ‘Pandion’ Panopoulos

“As far as organizations are concerned , at least the few 4-5 visible ones, usually they do not openly support any political party, although looking at leading members opinions within can show tendencies. The only exception to the rule has been as far as I am aware of Panagiotis Marinis the leading figure (and founder) of Elliniki Etairia Arxaiofilon (one of the first and centered around a personality groups, now mostly inactive and most members having moved to YSEE), who has made several open statements in favor of GD, despite its Christian characteristics with  the “logic” that the biggest problem from modern Greece is the immigrants etc. All this of course falls alongside with his known racial – in the strict term of the word-  outlook on many things.  I think his opinions and reasons can sum up for most of the few polytheists who have done the same.

Other than that I can only speak for myself and for my community “Labrys,” but probably expressing the opinions of a major percentage of Hellenic polytheists as well, that having as a defining characteristic a. Religion b. The Hellenic culture, we find almost all modern political  ideologies more or less incompatible with our culture one way or another even more so concerning parties that are openly pro-Christian for religious reasons and even more so parties with fascist ideologies that are not only pro-Christian but totalitarian in the deepest and worst monotheistic example, which of course is the exact opposite of our ancestral culture. As such we see GD as a threat and even if we try to publicly abstain from political debates (in order to keep the religious character as our primary guide without further and for the most part objective distinctions) individually we usually raise our voices against such phenomena.  Personally I have written a few blog entries addressing some of these issues after this effort to mark pagans as GD supporters or GD as a pagan party appeared which you can find here.

To sum up I cannot possibly think of any reason that a Hellenic polytheist would vote for or support GD and I strongly believe that the character of such parties/ideologies etc are deeply monotheistic in their origin having nothing to do with traditional polytheism (not only the Hellenic one but others as well) and they are just using our imaginary, myths, holy symbols etc just to promote their agendas and at the same time causing issues for us.”

Panopoulos points out that some of the confusion stems from “arxaiolatres,” a term used for Greeks fascinated with ancient Greece, but not in an explicitly religious fashion. Several Golden Dawn supporters in recent years, according to Panopoulous, have embraced a romantic view of ancient Greece to justify their beliefs.

“In the last couple of years it seems that there was a rise of Golden Dawn supporters within the larger umbrella group of “arxaiolatres” not to be identified with actual polytheists, mainly involving those that have ‘found’ ancient Greece for the wrong reasons. Atheism and antisemitism, antisemitism becoming anti-Christianism, easily found ‘brilliant’ quotes out of context to support whatever modern twisted ideology etc, pumping up of lost national pride with childish videos about Spartans (of course containing the 300), stupid articles of how the Greeks were always better and fought for freedom and things like that, being targeted to and created by semi-educated middle class people that never learned many things about their history and feel better parroting low quality blog articles etc.”

Scholar Alexandros Kalozoides, who wrote a paper on the history of Greek Paganism and radical politics, echoes Panopoulos, and points out that there is “no central community – no such thing as a ‘Greek Pagan Community’ in the sense that it is found abroad.”

“There are lots of small groups which come together for some festivals, but are usually at each others throats the rest of the time. The official body representing Hellenic Paganism, (Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes) is not anti-semitic, it’s anti-Christian in the sense that Christianity is perceived to have destroyed the old religion. It certainly does not support the Golden Dawn, but their followers may well drink from both cups, and it would not make the slightest difference whether they came out with an official statement or not. However, their response to questions regarding their political values in their FAQ is both unambiguous, and encouraging.
 The other thing is, the Golden Dawn are not openly pagan, they are deliberately vague about religion. The ‘Pilgrimage to Delphi’ was marketed as paying tribute to ‘our ancient ancestors.’ The dynamics of paganism are different here – you get faithful Christians who still partake in the practice of honouring the ancient ancestors without it being a matter of faith – it’s a matter of shared (mythic) history.”

Kalozoides also pointed to an editorial published in a prominent Greek esoteric magazine, penned by editor Georgios Ioannidis, that clarifies and debunks the notion that the Greek Golden Dawn is somehow connected to the magickal order of the same name.

“The syncretic magical system followed by the HOGD has a clearly esoteric character that supports the mage in his attempt to know and contact the subtle planes of the universe, with the aim of spiritual regeneration, which is to say a golden dawn of his transmuted self.  This model of thought and practice is far removed from the “paganism” of the nationalist movements, that, just as with German national socialism, was cultivated only to the degree whereby it could forge a connection between modern man and the ancestral tradition, thus creating an illusion of unbroken continuity, with the ultimate aim of stressing the sense of cultural and racial superiority in relation to religions that originated mainly in ancient Palestine.”

All of these views, coming directly from Greeks familiar with the Pagan, polytheist, and esoteric communities in Greece, underline my initial thesis: that the Golden Dawn party utilizes Hellenic culture and religion to gain power and followers, but have little to do with organized Paganism or esotericism in the country (despite the preferences of scattered individuals). They wrap themselves in a flag of “Greek-ness” and purity, and will gladly exploit any community that will further their noxious goals.

As for the wider world, Pagan, polytheist, and esoteric groups have been quick to publicly condemn the values of the Golden Dawn, and clarify that they in no way support the controversial political party. In late September US-based Hellenic polytheist organization Hellenion recently released a statement clearly rejecting the use of Hellenic polytheism to promote any kind of hatred. Earlier in that same month, The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn categorically rejected any possible connection with the “racist, and arguably fascist, Golden Dawn political organization of Greece.”

“The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn stands against racism and intolerance. Our Golden Dawn tradition stems from a magickal Order begun in Victorian-era England, and we are not in any way aligned with the racist, and arguably fascist, Golden Dawn political organization of Greece (The People’s Association – Golden Dawn, Greek: Λαϊκός Σύνδεσμος – Χρυσή Αυγή, which has been in the news recently. We are a constitutional democratic institution and reject authoritarianism in its fascistic or other forms. We accept applications for membership from all sincere applicants who are local to an OSOGD Lodge, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, physical abilities, ancestry, gender identity, religion, or sexual orientation.”

In addition, author and magician Donald Michael Kraig has issued a call to all Golden Dawn leaders to make plain their views on the political party, stating clearly that “Greece’s Golden Dawn does not represent the ideals of any group claiming to be associated with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.” As a result, more orders are doing exactly that.

Whatever happens in Greece, and with the Golden Dawn political party, we must remain vigilant that fascists and violent ultra-nationalists do not co-opt our faiths, and we must stand firm with the Hellenic polytheists, Greek Pagans, and esoteric practitioners in Greece as they weather this crisis. There will always be groups and individuals that will try to exploit our faiths, using a brew of romanticism and nationalism to claim power in the name of the people. We must not allow that to happen, not in our names, and certainly not in the names of our gods.

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!

A Farewell to Therianthropy: Pagan and neo-shamanic practitioner Lupa, author of books like “New Paths to Animal Totems” and  “Skin Spirits,” has announced that she’s letting her book “A Field Guide to Otherkin” go out of print. In the announcement she explains that she feels the resources in the book have become dated, that it isn’t up to her current standards, and that she has stopped identifying herself as Otherkin.

Lupa

Lupa

“So now here I am in 2013, and I have a confession to make: I no longer identify as a therianthrope, and I haven’t for quite some time. I’ve sat with that reality for a while, checking in with myself and making sure it wasn’t just a phase. But no, it just doesn’t fit any more; it’s not a framework that explains me. There’s still a piece of me that I feel resonates more with wolf than human, but at this point I don’t think it’s anything more than a bit of creative personal narrative, part of the ongoing myth I tell about myself. For me, the wolf is a metaphor, a piece of spirituality internalized. Sure, I’ve always leaned toward the personal mythology hypothesis of “what are Otherkin”, but the idea that I am fundamentally not human on some level just doesn’t fit. I am a human animal, 100%, just with a particular connection to the idea of “wolfness”. Call it an inner connection to my totem, or a super-charged “favorite animal”; either of those fit me better than “therian”, or “shifter”, or any of the other terms that set animal-people apart from humanity as a whole.”

The book will officially go out of print on the first of May. As the sole book devoted only to Otherkin, it has been repeatedly cited by scholars interested in the subject. The latest edition of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions featured two articles on Otherkin/Therianthropy and Pagan scholar Chas Clifton noted that both heavily relied on Lupa’s “A Field Guide to Otherkin.” You can read an interview I conducted with Lupa about the book, here.

The Life of a High Priestess: Deborah Lipp, author of several books on Wicca and magical practice, including “The Study of Witchcraft: A Guidebook to Advanced Wicca” and “The Way of Four Spellbook: Working Magic with the Elements” has written a memoir about her life as a High Priestess, and the relationships she formed over the years with people like Isaac Bonewits (to whom she was once married), Scott Cunningham, and Timothy Leary. In a guest post at Llewellyn’s blog, Lipp discusses why she wrote “Merry Meet Again: Lessons, Life & Love on the Path of a Wiccan High Priestess.”

Isaac Bonewits and Deborah Lipp at Starwood, 1987

Isaac Bonewits and Deborah Lipp at Starwood, 1987

“Why did I do this? My book was, in part, an outcome of bereavement counseling: When my ex-husband, Isaac Bonewits, was in the last days of his life, and after he died, I found myself looking back on my years with him in a way that cried out for organization, and I organize myself by writing. In part, because my path to Paganism is a path that is at risk of being forgotten: The pre-Internet, deeply closeted, ‘is there anyone out there?’ years are no more, and a journey that was meaningful to many thousands of people risks being treated as fiction. I wanted to document it. I capped off my book with my fiftieth birthday; it felt like a bookend; it felt apropos.”

I am personally excited by this development because I’m an on-the-record advocate for our elders recording their stories, their histories, whether that be in book form, or via recorded interviews. Llewellyn’s recent foray into publishing memoirs and remembrances, like Donald Michael Kraig’s short e-book about his friend, the author Scott Cunningham, is a welcome trend. One that I hope continues. The better documented our past, the better we can understand the forces that have shaped our community into what it is today. I look forward to reading Lipp’s book.

Author Raises Money to Cover Family Medical Expenses: Trish Telesco, author of several Pagan and magical titles, including “How To Be A Wicked Witch” and “Which Witch Is Which?: A Concise Guide to Wiccan and Neo-Pagan Paths and Traditions” is raising funds after her husband was diagnosed with an unexpected tumor on his brain stem.

Trish Telesco

Trish Telesco

“My husband went to the hospital Monday with what we thought was a blood pressure issue. By Weds. he was in brain surgery for a tumor on his brain stem. There is no question that the expense for this procedure will go way beyond what we can pay in a lifetime (or two). I couldn’t even figure out a goal amount. I am trying to set up a fund that will be used ONLY for the medical co-pays.”

That fundraiser was started in September, but the surgeries and tests continue. According to public posts at her Facebook profile there have been some positive developments, but the fiscal problems will be an ongoing issue even after the hospital stay is over. Until America has a real medical social safety net, people’s lives will be thrown into fiscal crisis whenever a major medical problem emerges, and this is but one close-to-home example. If Trish Telesco’s books and work have brought something to your life consider giving back by donating to the medical fund.

In Other Community News:

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

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!

A Call for Solidarity to Save a Sacred Altar: Greek Hellenic group Thyrsos Hellenes Ethnikoi has issued a call for solidarity to stop what they consider a “cultural crime” underway in Athens. It seems that the famous Altar of the Twelve Gods was finally uncovered on February 17th during railway construction, however, turf battles over jurisdiction have endangered the site, and there’s a chance it could be buried once more by Athens Piraeus Electric Railways (ISAP)Protests have already broken out, and Thyrsos Hellenes Ethnikoi are asking for “all civilized people from all over the world” to call for the altar’s preservation.

“Very recently during constructions on the railway network of Athens, a magnificent Treasure of the Hellenic History was discovered, a masterpiece of the Hellenic Culture, the Sacred Altar of the 12 Gods. Now this Treasure is in immediate danger because of the lack of interest of the Hellenic State, because of the decision of the railway company to bury it as quick as possible. And also know that the Altar and its very site were the center of Athens in Ancient Years. The holiest spot of Athens. Where Hiketes (suppliants) would ask for Mercy! As archaeologists say, it is as important as the golden-elephantine statue of Goddess Athena! This Altar is not only an archaeological remain. It is also Sacred, especially to us, the followers of the Hellenic Ancient Religion. The total devastation of it, means that the Hellenic Culture has been mutilated by the ignorant and dangerous people who rule and they do not respect who they are, where they come from, and especially where they want to lead us, the Hellenes…”

If you’d like to make your voice heard in this matter, you can e-mail the railway, and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, to make your concerns known. You can find out more here (in Greek), and here (also in Greek, though they say a translation is forthcoming). This call for solidarity is currently spreading through the Hellenic community, and it could be a wonderful opportunity for Pagans outside of Greece to stand with their brothers and sisters in Athens. Also, if you do decide to write in support of saving the altar, remember to be polite and to-the-point in your messages. I’ll update you on this issue as things develop and I learn more.

Selena Fox Joins Wisconsin Protesters: Fresh from her time at PantheaCon, Circle Sanctuary’s Selena Fox returned to her home in Wisconsin where she immediately joined the throngs of pro-union protesters currently congregating in Madison in a standoff centering on the issue of collective bargaining rights.

“Democracy in Action in Wisconsin! Joined the round the clock Public Workers’ Rights rally inside the Wisconsin State Capitol. Amazing energy! […] The energy inside was amazing! And multi-partisan – those protesting included Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and others. I went there to give support, but also to learn first hand for myself what the scene was like.”

Fox noted that part of the reason she’s there is “to carry the energy from workings I had led in California right to the center of the Wisconsin actions in support of workers rights.” In response to a query from The Wild Hunt, Fox spoke of the “exuberant energy” on display.

“I am continuing to hear from a variety of people concerned about upholding public workers’ rights, including from the interfaith community.  Today two dozen clergy of different traditions joined together with others in the Capitol rotunda and then were part of a press conference afterwards. […] In the center of the ground floor was the hub of the indoor rally.  Various demonstrators were taking turns leading chants and expressing perspectives in a microphone within a circle of drummers.  In addition to the ground floor, there were people circled around the rotunda on the second and third floors all joining in chanting.  As I walked around each floor, I talked with some of those who had gathered as well as some of the media covering the rally, which has been going round the clock for more than a week.  The energy inside the Capitol was exhuberant.  The passion to stand up for public workers and their collective bargaining rights there was and continues to be strong.”

Selena has promised further updates as she receives word. If there are any other Pagans on the ground at the protests, please feel free to contact me with your experiences and insights. For background on this protest and political standoff, the Wikipedia article is a good place to start. From there, it’s fairly easy to find various political takes on the issue.

Getting Hold of American Mystic: For those who’ve been unable to catch a screening of the documentary “American Mystic”, directed by Alex Mar, and featuring Morpheus Ravenna along with members of Stone City Pagan Sanctuary, you can now order a copy before the film goes into wide distribution this June. You can e-mail the academic distributor Kino Lorber to obtain copies for you or your store, or order online and use the special “PANTHEACON” offer code during check-out.

The DVD will be going “wide” this Summer, which will mean availability on Netflix and iTunes, among other outlets. But if you’d like to get it now, here’s your chance.

PantheaCon Reflections: There’s no doubt going to be plenty of stories from PantheaCon trickling out in the near future, including some from The Wild Hunt, but for now I wanted to quickly note some round-ups that have already appeared. There’s a report from Donald Michael Craig at Llewellyn, Robert from the Doing Magick blog has a round-up, Peter Dybing describes the experience of “divine exhaustion”, Staff of Asclepius has an interview with con organizaer Glenn Turner, and  Star Foster at Patheos talks about three rituals she attended while there.

“It was interesting to be in a building where there is almost always a ritual in progress. The energy resembled a thunderstorm and even though my room was quiet I found it hard to sleep. When I did sleep I dreamt of rituals, and once I dreamed I scrubbed Erynn Rowan Laurie’s bathtub. I don’t know what that means beyond that there was a bunch of weird energy bouncing around this hotel, but if she’s reading maybe it means something to her!”

While you’re there, you can also spy a picture from the Pagan Newswire Collective meet-and-greet, which features some familiar faces, and a whole host of PNC members.

Sabbat Classic Available for the Kindle: In a final note, Acorn Guild Press is proud to announce that Mike Nichols’ classic work “The Witches’ Sabbats” is finally available for the Amazon Kindle.

“From the award-winning author of The Witches’ Sabbats Web site, Nichols discusses the historical and mythological customs, lore, and traditions associated with the eight Pagan holidays. This illustrated volume includes: A new, never-before published essay, ‘Marking the Sabbats'; a new preface, ‘Counting the Days'; a new bibliography; plus six additional thought-provoking essays!”

I don’t normally plug books like this, but considering the history of this work, and the effort Acorn Guild went to in order to have an e-version made available on Amazon, I thought it worth a quick mention.  For more on the book and Mike Nichols, check out my interview with him.

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

Pagan News Updates

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 22, 2010 — 9 Comments

Here’s a round-up of updates concerning stories and issues covered previously by The Wild Hunt.

Martha Coakley and the Fells Acre Case: In a historic upset, Republican candidate Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat left vacant by Ted Kennedy’s death, defeating Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, who many initially saw as a sure thing. The media, and many politicians, are ruminating on how it all happened. While some are debating whether Brown’s win was a referendum on Obama’s presidency, others are saying that the reasons were very local. Columnist Carey Roberts claims that Coakley’s ties to the infamous Fells Acre ritual abuse case damaged her chances far more than the national political media are willing to credit.

“This legal travesty did not attract national attention until last Fall. At that point, Coakley held a nearly insurmountable 30-point lead over her Republican challenger. Then Ann Coulter devoted her December 9 column to the case, calling it the “second-most notorious witch trial in Massachusetts history” and charging Coakley had “kept a clearly innocent man in prison in order to advance her political career.” A month later, Dorothy Rabinowitz delivered the coup de grace. Recounting in the Wall Street Journal how prosecutors cast Gerald as the chief predator, “his gender qualifying him, in their view, as the best choice for the role,” Rabinowitz adjudged the superfluous prosecution was “powerful testimony to the mind and capacities of this aspirant to a Senate seat.” The Rabinowitz editorial was published on January 14. The same day a Suffolk University poll spotted Brown a 4-point lead over Martha Coakley. And when the ballots were tallied nearly a week later, Scott Brown had defeated Coakley by a resounding five-point margin.”

The Fells Acre case was also mentioned in electoral postmortems at The Huffington Post (who called her “doomed from the start”) and The New American. As for Coakley, what are her plans? Why, she’s going to run for reelection as Attorney General. Which makes me wonder, will outrage over the Amiraults carry over to the Fall elections? Or will we be content to forget? For all of my past coverage of Martha Coakley, click here.

Those Christian Gun Sights: Since the story broke earlier this week, controversy and commentary has been raging over a military contractor, Trijicon, that had been inserting Bible references into its serial numbers. These sights had apparently been used by some military commanders to hammer home the uniquely magical Christian-ness of the weapons, and their effectiveness in killing non-Christians. Now the company says it will stop inserting the Biblical references, and will provide means for existing sights to modified.

“Trijicon has proudly served the U.S. military for more than two decades, and our decision to offer to voluntarily remove these references is both prudent and appropriate,” said Stephen Bindon, Trijicon president and CEO in a statement. “We want to thank the Department of Defense for the opportunity to work with them and will move as quickly as possible to provide the modification kits for deployment overseas.”

While some in the military defended the Bible references, or didn’t see what the fuss was about, others, most notably General David Petraeus, called the sights “distrubing” and a “serious concern”.

Jessica Orsini Sets Her Sights on Another Term: The Columbia Daily Tribune notes that Jessica Orsini, Alderwoman, 3rd Ward, City of Centralia, Missouri, will be running unopposed for another term.

“Filing for the April 6 school board and municipal election ballots in Boone County ended at 5 p.m. yesterday … Centralia Board of Aldermen: Third Ward Alderwoman Jessica Orsini and First Ward Alderwoman Catherine Simmons are unopposed for re-election.”

Orsini, in addition to being one of only two openly transgendered elected officials, is also a Hellenic polytheistic reconstructionist. So it looks like we’ll continue to have two openly Pagan elected officials in America for a while longer. For more on Orsini, check out Tony Mierzwicki’s interview with her at Witchvox.

More Stupid Things Being Said About Vodou: Mark Krikorian, at National Review Online, joined the growing “it’s all Voodoo’s fault” chorus yesterday with this rousing endorsement of colonialism.

“My guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough … A major indicator of how superficial is the overlay of French culture in Haiti is the strength of paganism, in the form of voodoo — the French just weren’t around long enough to suppress it, to the detriment of Haitians.”

Yes, if only they had been under the heel of the French for a bit longer, because we all know how well colonialism worked out for the Native Americans. Do these commentators actually read what they write before it gets posted? I wonder. For all my coverage of Vodou in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, click here.

While I was spending a lot of time covering the elections (and controversies) of Pagan candidates Dan Halloran and Alice Richmond, it seems I overlooked the fact that there was an already-elected openly-Pagan politician out there. However, thanks to Tony Mierzwicki’s interview with Jessica Orsini, Alderwoman, 3rd Ward, City of Centralia, Missouri, I’m up to speed.

“At 17, when I went off to college, my spirituality did as well. I finally came to realize that the connection I *had* forged, the voice I’d heard in the woods since I was a small child, was Artemis. I was introduced to paganism by a very soft-polytheistic Wiccan; from there, I ran through the usual assortment of Llewellyn publications and wound up with a sort of mish-mosh. I spent twenty years of wrangling through various efforts at implementation, trying somehow to fit my beliefs to Wicca. I tried this sort of “take the best from each” approach – the “many facets” concept that is so popular with a lot of pagans today. But it never really worked for me. I finally realized that my beliefs would never fit Wicca… and that there was this amazing old way that actually *did* fit. When it all boiled down, I needed the hard, deep roots of Hellenism. I needed Hesiod’s Theogeny, his Works and Days. I needed that cohesive pantheon, and the culturally complete approach it allows.”

In my defense I had certainly heard of Orsini, but for entirely different reasons.

“Advocates for transgender equality hail the public, albeit low-key, leadership role played by Orsini, who for the first three decades of her life was known as Jeff Orsini, an Air Force veteran and self-described computer nerd partial to role-playing war games. As one of just two openly transgender politicians to win elected office in this country — the other, Michelle Bruce, is a City Council member in Riverdale, Ga. — Orsini is a trailblazer, said Mara Keisling, executive director of the Washington-based National Center for Transgender Equality.”

So now we have a Hellenic transgender Democratic Alderwoman in Missouri, and a conservative Republican Theodsman on New York’s City Council. I find it very interesting that the two openly-Pagan elected American officials in this era are polytheistic reconstructionists. Just a twist of fate? Or is there something more there? Needless to say, from now on I’ll be watching the career of Alderwoman Orsini just as closely as I’m currently watching the career of Councilman Halloran.

PS – In an entirely unrelated note, I’ll be a guest tonight on the streaming Internet radio program “Pagans Tonight”. I’ll be discussing Pagan news, this blog, and other projects I have coming up. So tune in!

Are you a Pagan who has a spare 700,000 Euro burning a hole in your pocket? Then why not head to Bulgaria where Boris Kushlev is selling a 680-square-meter plot in downtown Balchik, home to a recently-discovered temple to the goddess Cybele.


Statue of Cybele from Balchik.

“The ancient temple of the Hittite, Phrygian, and Greek goddess Cybele, which was discovered by accident in Bulgaria’s Black Sea town of Balchik in May 2007 has been declared for sale, the Varna daily Pozvanete reported … The temple of the goddess Cybele is preserved really well, and according to archeologists, is the only one of its type in Europe. The temple is also the best-preserved building from the Hellenic Age in the Balkans. It includes a number of statutes of Cybele, coins from the time of the Roman Emperor Valens, and other ancient artifacts.”

The Director of the Balchik History Museum is calling the proposed sale a “sacrilege”, and is disappointed both with Kushlev’s asking price (too expensive for the city, who have already paid 100,000 BGN to secure and cover the site), and the lack of movement by the Bulgarian state to nationalize the site. Unless the state makes a move, anyone can now swoop in an claim this former temple, and the statues and artifacts within it, for themselves. Potentially robbing Bulgaria of a unique archaeological find.

“The temple of the goddess Cybele is preserved really well, and according to archeologists, is the only one of its type in Europe. The temple is also the best-preserved building from the Hellenic Age in the Balkans. It includes a number of statutes of Cybele, coins from the time of the Roman Emperor Valens, and other ancient artifacts.”

Scientists believe that this temple, unlike other finds from the Hellenic era, can be completely restored and opened to the public. It would truly be a shame if it were dismantled and spread around to museums and private collections across the globe. Will the goddess show her hand and stop the destruction of her temple, preserved for so long beneath the earth? Only time (and an influx of money or political will) will tell if this temple is destroyed, or turned into a place of pilgrimage and learning.

Articles, essays, and thoughts of note from the Pagan blogosphere.

We start off with some sad news. M. Macha Nightmare and T. Thorn Coyle have posted moving tributes to their friend Tara Webster, priestess of Hecate, and Soror Adessa of the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn. Webster passed away on October 8th after a long struggle with brain cancer. Thorn, who was at Webster’s side during her passing, recounts how Hecate came to claim her.

“After a couple of hours of singing, the call came inside of me. A chant arose to one whom I have barely met. Your Matron tapped my shoulderblades. I wrote a chant for Her, for you. We sang that chant. We sang and sang. I left the room to grasp the counterpoint. When I came back in to sing it, S. said “Her breathing has really changed. We need to get someone.” I paused. You were not breathing. The spaces between breath were big enough to hold the stars. All gathered, we chanted the Heart Sutra. Over and over, as you crossed. Hecate took you. Your spirit opened the door we had closed. Literally. It swung open and out you went. Mighty priestess. So skilled. So gorgeous. You lay in state in your rhinestone tiara, naked, as we blessed you.”

Macha recounts Webster’s participation in the Goddess 2000 project, and their shared connection with an old Pagan cartoon.

“…when Tara and I first met, we discovered we had a lot in common in terms of both approach and praxis. My experiences with my first coven, the Holy Terrors*, paralleled hers in many ways. I spoke of a cartoon published in an East Coast Pagan rag, Harvest (defunct), in the ’80s that we Holy Terrors couldn’t believe was so like we were. When we HTs first discovered this cartoon, we rolled around laughing. No one we knew subscribed to Harvest (if it even had subscriptions). We treasured our photocopies of the few episodes we’d found; later I found an opportunity to mail away for better copies of a full set. The cartoon was the Death Crones, and Tara was part of the Flaming Crones, the circle from which this cartoon arose!”

May Tara Webster rest in the arms of Hecate. We here at The Wild Hunt offer our most sincere condolences.

Over at Letter From Hardscrabble Creek, Chas Clifton reports on the publication of a book that will be sure to please many long-time Pagan community members.

‘Green Egg Omelette: An Anthology of Art and Articles from the Legendary Pagan Journal’ will be shipping soon and can be pre-ordered from Amazon with the link above or from the publisher. Oberon Zell did the heavy lifting: tracking down long-lost contributors, making editorial decisions, and laying out the pages. I wrote a general introduction and shorter introductions for each chapter.”

A sure treasure-trove of classic Pagan writing. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. As for the Green Egg itself, while the print magazine is long-gone, it still survives as a online ‘zine. Also, while you’re at Chas Clifton’s blog, be sure to check out his post about water witchery.

Author Sarah Kate Istra Winter (aka Erl Queen on LJ) links to an interview she gave for the online e-zine Sequential Tart.

“I do think the myths are important. For one thing, they are usually our first introduction to the gods. Sure, it’s extremely important to begin forging relationships yourself, to learn of the gods directly, from experience. But that’s a long process. And many people have a hard time relying on that type of experiential knowledge. The myths tell us about the collective beliefs and experiences of the people who first worshiped our gods. Even if the stories often conflict with each other, even if one can’t take everything literally, an overall picture emerges of the gods’ traits, likes and dislikes, mannerisms, etc. It’s an important foundation. From cult practice (of course, another important foundation for the modern religion), we might learn that Apollon left Delphi each winter and the oracles ceased. But it is from myth that we learn why, and where He goes (Hyperborea), and what that place is like.”

You can find more information about Winter’s book, “KHARIS: Hellenic Polytheism Explored”, at her web site.

Medusa Coils reports that the Glastonbury Goddess Temple has succeeded in acquiring St. Benedict’s Church Hall from the Church of England for the purpose of Goddess-oriented worship and rites of passage.

“Glastonbury Goddess Temple was able to come to an agreement with St. Ben’s Parish Council regarding the previous restrictions on the use of the Hall, which was owned by the Church of England and persisted even after the sale of the Hall. St. Ben’s Parish Council has agreed to allow use of the Hall “without let or hindrance” for Goddess activities including ceremonies, courses, workshops, and other community activities, as well as a dedicated space for Pagan marriage ceremonies and handfastings.”

You can read more about this story, and the plans Glastonbury Goddess Temple has for the space, here.

In a final note, The Pagan Prattle rightfully mocks “what passes for sane in some parts of the world”. Specifically the recent story of a college student who accused an English teacher of blasphemy, and threatened to set her on fire for being a witch.

“A 20-year-old male student has been expelled from an adult education college after he poured liquid over his English Literature teacher and threatened her with a lighter and a cigarette. He accused her of being a witch. According to another report, Najor allegedly told police that he was trying to kill her by pouring holy water over her. More detail about the incident is given, suggesting that Najor was inspired by his Christian faith…”

The young man in question, Darin Najor, while initially detained in a psychiatric hospital, is now facing assault charges. One wonders if he attends some sort of church, or if this was his own special blend of crazy.

That is all I have for now, have a great day!

Pagan bloggers Chas Clifton and Nikolaos Markoulakis have pointed out that the New Statesman has posted a weeks worth of articles on modern Paganism. Contributors include Markoulakis, his colleague James Head, and Damh (aka Damh the Bard). In addition to their recent contributions, animist and author Graham Harvey has also contributed several articles recently.