Archives For John Beckett

ENGLEWOOD, Co. — Last week came the announcement that religion site Beliefnet has acquired Patheos, the far more popular home of a wide variety of religious blogs, include a vibrant Pagan channel. While Beliefnet also once hosted Pagan bloggers, since being acquired by the Christian-focused BN Media company, those writers all eventually moved on. With the new purchase, it has been stated that plans thus far are to keep the two sites independent of each other.

beliefnet-logo-6-25-10 A Wild Hunt investigation into BN Media buying Beliefnet in June, 2016, disclosed the company’s focus:

BN Media seems to be a different sort of owner, if their two largest initiatives, Affinity4 and Cross Bridge, are any indication. In short, it seems they are a conservative “family friendly” Christian group. All you have to do is pay attention to all the subtle buzz-words. . . . It doesn’t paint a very rosy picture of future interfaith interactions and diverse viewpoints on Beliefnet.

It’s true that, while Beliefnet no longer hosts Pagan blogs, Patheos Pagan channel editor Jason Mankey isn’t expecting any purges at Patheos. Mankey told The Wild Hunt:

There are currently no plans to change anything at Patheos and at Patheos Pagan. Patheos will continue to maintain its own brand and the sites will be run as a separate entities. As in all acquisitions, there will be some changes but we believe these changes will be in the background and focused on the technology and supporting infrastructure, and we anticipate that these changes will be about improving the experience of the reader.

I’ve spoken to many of the folks coming in from Beliefnet and genuinely believe they are excited about both Patheos in general and more specifically the Pagan Channel. Change is a part of life, and I’m looking forward to this one.

Mankey has earned the respect of people in the Pagan blogosphere since he took over as channel editor, including that of Anne Newkirk Niven, who runs one of the largest independent Pagan blog sites,, who called him an “excellent administrator.”

patheospagan-300x300Niven’s sentiments were echoed by those Patheos Pagan bloggers who agreed to comment for this story as well as Star Foster, who was the channel’s first editor. In her statement, she also touched upon the value of purely Pagan alternatives.

Like many people, I was sad to watch Beliefnet lose its initial luster, particularly after it was bought by Fox and then by an Evangelical organization. The purchase of Patheos by the same Evangelical organization is momentous. An acquisition means merger and all that comes with it. Resources are allocated to the segments of a company that make money, and cuts are made to increase profitability. It will be interesting to see how this acquisition affects Patheos, particularly those writers who left other platforms with whom they had become disenchanted.

For minority faiths, who cannot easily compete for resources with larger faith demographics, it may prove more fruitful to invest talent and resources in quality, homegrown religious journalism, columnists, devotional writers, and cultural analysts. Since the dawn of Beliefnet the religious internet has undergone dramatic changes, and it will be fascinating to see how it continues to evolve.

Support your Pagan media, wherever you find it to be doing good work. In anticipation of The Wild Hunt’ drive, I have already made my contribution.

Editing the Agora for Patheos Pagan is David Dashifen Kees, who agreed with Mankey’s assessment. “I’m cautiously optimistic. My understanding is that, after the purchase, Patheos will be operating essentially as it always has been. We’ll keep writing what we write and the readers will hopefully continue to visit.”

Gus DiZerega has been a presence at many major Pagan blogging sites, including Pagan Square and Patheos. He also wrote for Beliefnet, and he’s more suspicious. “The people who controlled Beliefnet acted unethically in my experience, and cannot be trusted,” he said.

After he wrote a post criticizing management, “they removed comments and when [he] objected.”  He said, “They told me it was their site and they could do what they wanted, I also left. I see no reason to legitimize anything controlled by Evangelicals such as that. Perhaps the Parliament of World’s Religions could someday host a genuine interfaith site free from the imperialistic ambitions of Evangelicals.”

Druidic blogger John Beckett doesn’t think it’s the end of the world. He said:

Nothing is constant in life, much less on the internet. While I had no idea this merger was coming, I’m not the least bit surprised it happened. We’ve been told the merger will have no effect on bloggers – Patheos will remain a unique site and all the changes will be on the technical and business side. That could be helpful.

As long as Patheos stays within its mission of being a multifaith religious site, as long as Pagans continue to be treated with the same respect as everyone else, and as long as I continue to have full control over what I write, I plan to stay.

If any of that changes, I own all my content and can move at any time.

Others also see two sides to this coin. “It seems that the merger is a pretty mixed bag,” said David Pollard, who edits the UU-centric Nature’s Path group blog at Patheos Pagan. “While a lot has been made in the Pagan blogosphere about Beliefnet’s incivility towards Paganism in recent years, when they started they were able to get some very high profile Pagans like Margot Adler and Starhawk to write for them.

“The problem was, that’s where they stopped,” Pollard continued. “They never really developed a second tier of writers, which is something that Patheos through its Pagan Channel editors has really excelled at.”

Pollard said he very much hopes that Patheos bloggers will be left alone, “given how many times Beliefnet has changed owners over the past decade, who knows what their next owner will want?”

One thing that any owner of Patheos is likely to want is a profitable venture, and the main way to achieve that with a content site is through advertising sales. The ads on the site now have been the subject of criticism by Pagans over the years, including from The Wild Hunt founding editor Jason Pitzl, who entered into a partnership in 2011-12.

In announcing the relaunch of an independent Wild Hunt, he promised “zero ads endorsing Mormonism or Liberty University.” Those result from buying into pools such as ones offered by Google, which serve up ads based on a variety of factors, including one’s behavior generally on the internet and search terms used.

Quaker Pagan Reflections blogger Cat Chapin-Bishop has also been concerned about the push for profit. “It has sometimes seemed that there’s been an increasing stress on monetizing our writing, and I have wondered whether the finances were really working out: the ads have always been off-putting, not always relevant to Paganism, and so slow to load some of my friends tell me they can’t read my blog at all. I’ve wondered if we Pagans have been a good investment for the owners, and whether the site is a good fit for us, to be honest. I guess my questions have only grown with this news.

“Patheos has been good to my blog, in that I’ve seen a big increase in readership, and I’ve been part of a conversation with other writers I really admire,” Chapin Bishop said. “Still, I’ve often wondered if it would make more sense to go it alone, or at a Pagan-owned, Pagan-run site.”

“They’re not going for direct-place ads,” agreed Newkirk Niven, who runs such a Pagan site. When she recently looked into advertising at Patheos, she was told that “they don’t even talk to people who aren’t able to spend a grand a month. I think we’re operating in a different universe.”

For most Pagan advertisers, she said, $12,000 is impossible; even $100 a month can be a challenge from owners of businesses the size she works with, she said.

For now, Patheos remains independent, but it’s likely that the new owners will seek to find ways to use this property to improve Beliefnet and other sites. As of this writing, Patheos is ranked 1,922 by site-ranking service Alexa, while Beliefnet stands at 12,451. It’s a question of when and how, rather than if or why the Patheos traffic will be captured. The Wild Hunt will cover developments as those changes unfold.

1930212_1044474605610182_2135655129642865778_nDENTON, Tex.– Eight months after a fire damaged its building, Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship came together in a newly constructed space to celebrate and recommit to its mission. As we reported in December, the Denton church was repeatedly vandalized by a single teenager, who eventually set fire to the building. At the time, Rev. Pam Wat said, “The damage from the fire is significant, but not overwhelming.”

Since that point, members were invited to hold their services in the First Christian Church, located across the street. As noted by Denton CUUPS chapter coordinator John Beckett, “They displayed the best of Christianity.” Specifically, the CUUPS group was able to hold regular Sunday meetings at the facility as well as seasonal events, including its “Imbolc, Ostara, Summer Solstice, and Lughnasadh circles.”

Meanwhile, the damaged building was being rebuilt. Construction was completed just in time for the annual “Ingathering Service” that the church uses to “kick off its year.” Beckett was an integral part of Saturday’s event, helping to “compose two of the liturgical elements” for the service, as well as delivering a “colloquy as the Act of Reconsecration” together with Rev. Wat. Beckett, who wrote in a blog post, “It was a perfect example of collaborative ritual, and of how a UU service can be truly multi-faith without being bland and soulless.” The colloquy is posted in full on his blog.

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cuupsSALEM, Mass. — In other CUUPS news, this weekend marks the start of Convocation, the organization’s annual gathering. This year’s conference event, themed “Awakening Our Tribe,” will be held at the First Church in Salem, Massachusetts. CUUPS organizers have scheduled three full days of workshops, rituals, lectures, and entertainment, inviting people to join them “for this special gathering as we return to the roots for inspiration.” The current schedule and guest speaker list is posted on their website.

Additionally, with the event being held in the “Witch City,” organizers have built time into the plans for attendees to get out and stroll the streets or take self-guided historical tours. Rev. JK Hildebrand will speak on the subject. “Why are there so many of us [in Salem]? When and how did it all come to be? What have been some of the lessons of religion vs. commercialism? How does CUUPS fit in?” There will also be a discussion and viewing of the documentary With Love, from Salem, which focuses on the practice of modern Witchcraft in the historic city.

Convocation runs from Aug 26-28.

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The Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA) is stirring up controversy on social media after newly-selected Alsherjargothi Matt Flavel posted a short statement on AFA’s Facebook page. Sunday night, Flavel wrote:

“Today we are bombarded with confusion and messages contrary to the values of our ancestors and our folk. The AFA would like to make it clear that we believe gender is not a social construct, it is a beautiful gift from the holy powers and from our ancestors. The AFA celebrates our feminine ladies, our masculine gentlemen and, above all, our beautiful white children. The children of the folk are our shining future and the legacy of all those men and women of our people back to the beginning.”

While the post has generated some visible support for the organization and its new leadership, there has been a growing wave of protest and, simultaneously, calls to publicly denounce the AFA. One Facebook user asked for clarification, “Am I misunderstanding the message here or does this mean that if someone wasn’t white or if they were queer they wouldn’t be welcome in the AFA?” Flavel responded in part, with “You are not misunderstanding.”

No official reactions have come out yet from other Heathen or Pagan groups, or individuals, by the time of publication; nor has the AFA made any further comment. We will continue to follow this story and report as needed.

In other news

  • As noted in late July, the court case for musician Kenny Klein was due to start on Aug. 15. However, it has once again been delayed. According to the latest report, defense attorneys have hired a professional to analyze Klein’s computers and provide a report. They are also asking for copies of the photographs. However, prosecutors will only allow them to see the originals, rather than provide them with copies. With all the various motions on the table, the trial date has been pushed back to Sept. 29.
  • Hellenion, a US-based religious organization “dedicated to the revival and practice of Hellenic polytheism,” has opened a new ritual group, or “Proto-Demos” located in Southeast Michigan. The new group, called the Apple Blossom Proto-Demos of Hellenion, was formed in late spring and held its first ritual July 16 at the Pagan Pathways Temple in Madison Heights. Apple Blossom joins eleven other such Hellenion groups located around the US.
  • A new metaphysical store is coming to Oregon. The Sacred Well, located in the Bay Area, announced that it will be opening a second location in Portland this October. The Sacred Well employs and serves Pagan, polytheist, and Witchcraft practitioners with readings, ritual supplies, temple events, and classes. The new store will open at 7927 SE 13th Ave in the Sellwood neighborhood. To follow their progress, go to the Sacred Well Portland Facebook page.
  • Don’t forget it is Pagan Pride season. Denver Pagan Pride kicks off its local festivities on Saturday as do many others around the country. Pride events associated with the Pagan Pride project are listed on its website.
  • Everglades Moon Local Council (EMLC), the Florida-based affiliate of Covenant of the Goddess, released its 24th seasonal podcast. The 2016 Lughnasad edition contains music by Emerald RoseGinger Doss, and Mama Gina. Members discuss everything from tarot tips and Nervine Tea to “getting inebriated at festivals.” The regular seasonal podcast can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Libsyn, or on the EMLC website.

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CORRECTION (8/24/2016 12:50 pm): The original article stated that an online exchange between a user and AFA leaders had been deleted. At the time of original publication, that short exchange was not publicly visible and assumed to have been deleted. However, it has since reappeared and is publicly accessible on the organization’s Facebook site.

12961669_10207514140345535_8947899318984102784_nSACRAMENTO, Calif. — It was announced that shaman and Deathwalker John Ravenmoon (1970-2016) has died from cancer. John was an initiate and brother of the Unnamed Path, a group founded by Eddie Gutierez who was better known as Hyperion. In Elemental Podcast recording #72, John shares his thoughts on Hyperion’s legacy of leadership within his local community.

John described himself as a “modern mystic.” He didn’t start his formal training in shamanism until 2000. Prior to that, John studied both massage therapy and “erotic education via the Body Electric School, which opened his eyes to the intersection of eros and spirit.” His close friend Beverly Smith said, “[John’s] early studies of the sacred body and eroticism opened a path as a Sacred Intimate. He was a trained healer and masseuse; unsurprising, considering his capacity for empathy in the depths of his great heart.”

According to Smith, John was currently studying “rootwork/conjure and Curanderismo, the healing arts of his ancestors.” Smith added, “Many will remember John for his sweet nature and kind demeanor. A friendlier or warmer person doesn’t exist. He is a constant inspiration to me. His empathy and strength helped me find my footing after losing my dear friend, Dr. E in 2014. John had the magic to make me laugh, while navigating dark waters. [He] was such an extraordinary person. We won’t see his like again.” That sentiment was echoed by many of his friends who used similar words, describing John as kind, loving, welcoming and “one of the good ones.”

In 2015, John was diagnosed with cancer, but that didn’t stop him from participating in community. Smith said, “I was thrilled to attend the Burning Man festival last year with [John]. What an experience to explore an event that was deeply spiritual and extremely important to him! Even though he was already suffering the pain and fatigue of his cancer, he enjoyed that week with enthusiasm and wonder. I feel blessed to have served with Ravenmoon as a Temple Guardian in the sacred space on the Playa in Black Rock City, NV.”

John’s cancer eventually spread to his lungs, forcing him into the hospital. In July, friends set up a YouCaring crowdfunding campaign to assist his husband Michael Shugert cover the mounting medical expenses. Then, on July 29 at 12:40 pm, John died. Smith said, “I hold his memory in the highest regard. John Ravenmoon, you are loved.” What is remembered, lives.

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pr15_069rMINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Pagan Holiday Stamps? A recent blog post by Steven Posch at Witches and Pagans has had people confused. His post reads, “The Postmaster General announced today the upcoming release of a series of stamps commemorating the eight holidays celebrated by the vast majority of contemporary pagans.” The post, which allegedly quotes the Associated Press, goes on to say that the new series will begin Nov. 1 with Samhain.

While many Pagans shared the “fantastic news” over social media, the post was actually satire. Posch wrote, “I’m afraid this post is fiction,” adding that the joke was not intended to be mean-spirited. He said, “One of the dangers of being a long-term insider is the amount of presumed knowledge that one comes to take for granted. That said, the notion of the US post office having anything to do with pagan holidays seemed to me so patently absurd that it needed no further direct comment. Clearly, I was wrong on that account.”

Most of the individuals quoted within the hoax are from the Minneapolis region, and the inside joke appeared to be well-received by several members of that community. However, it did have others quite upset. One reader wrote, “I appreciate the satire, but I’m begging you to label it as such right up front.” Another said, “You should be ashamed of yourself for writing and spreading such a blatant lie to the Pagan community.” Posch apologized, but also said, “Caveat lector: let the reader beware. […] Take no one on authority; certainly not me.”

Despite the hoax, the US Postmaster has released a 2016 Halloween-themed forever stamp (pictured). For science fiction fans, look for the Star Trek series in September.

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admin-ajaxNEW ORLEANS — The pre-trial for Kenny Klein’s case was scheduled to begin today, Aug. 1 at the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. According to the court docket, Klein appeared with counsel Bradley Phillips, who asked for a continuance of the pre-trial. It was granted, and the pre-trial will continue Aug. 16. The scheduled court date for the actual trial, originally set for Aug. 15, has been temporarily suspended.

In 2014, Klein was arrested and eventually charged with crimes tied to the possession of child pornography. In June, the judge denied motions to suppress evidence and statements connected with the case. Klein is presently free on $30,000 bail. The Wild Hunt will continue to follow the case.

In Other News:

  • Many Gods West , the indoor conference dedicated to polytheistic practice, begins this weekend on Aug. 5 and runs through Sunday, Aug 7. It is held annually in Olympia, Washington.
  • Sacred Harvest Festival begins today in Northern Minnesota. The annual week long camping festival is in its 19th year and its theme is “Dreams and Bones.”
  • Fans of author Alex Bledsoe will be happy to hear that his latest novel in the Tufa series will be released by Tor/Macmillan Sept. 6. This fourth book, titled Chapel of Ease, is an urban fantasy combining the mysteries of the Tufa people with the lights of New York City’s Broadway. “When Matt Johanssen, a young New York actor, auditions for ‘Chapel of Ease,’ an off-Broadway musical, he is instantly charmed by Ray Parrish, the show’s writer and composer. They soon become friends; Matt learns that Ray’s people call themselves the Tufa and that the musical is based on the history of his isolated home town.” The Tufa series, with its magic and mysteries, has inspired the music of Celtic tribal rock band Tuatha Dea
  • Max Dashu’s new book, Witches and Pagans, has been published and released by her imprint Veleda Press. According to a note for the July 30 release party, Dashu’s book “gathers together strands of folk wisdom to reweave the ripped webs of women’s culture in Europe.” The book is available at the imprint’s website,
  • In the blogosphere, John Becket informs us that The Savior is Not Coming. “One of the advantages of getting old is knowing what’s coming next because you’re seeing history repeat itself.”

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[The Wild Hunt is pleased to welcome Tim Titus to our monthly team. Titus’ column will appear on the first Saturday of every month, beginning in August.  He will be sharing his own perspective on life, community and religion. Check out his full bio for more on his work and interests.]

The notions of freedom and personal spiritual authority are driving factors that bring people into the practice of a Pagan religion. Many modern Pagan practitioners are fleeing the older, more dogmatic and hierarchical forms of religion offered by the mainstream in favor of seeking a spiritual practice that speaks to them and is controlled by them.

Sacred Harvest Festival Brush Oak Grove

Sacred Harvest Festival Brush Oak Grove

In Drawing Down the Moon, Margot Adler specifically cites “freedom” as one of the major attractions that a Pagan path holds for modern people, writing that people often become Pagan “because they could be themselves and act as they choose, without what they felt were the medieval notions of sin and guilt” as well as a refusal to honor “rigid hierarchies and institutionalization” (23). In Paganism: An introduction to Earth-centered spirituality, authors Joyce and River Higginbotham specifically list “A pronounced religious individualism” (4) as a major tenet of their Pagan religion. Pagans, it would seem, seek their own paths rather than membership in any leader’s flock.

Yet leadership is still necessary, even for such an individualistic group of people. Although Pagans may not follow a shepherd’s crook as their ultimate beacon of hope nor any one sacred text as an infallible set of rules, we still look to those who have blazed trails to help us down the path that best suits our needs. If everyone hacked their own way through the woods, all the trees would be dead and the underbrush trampled.

[Courtesy Photo]

John Beckett [Courtesy Photo]

Druid and Patheos blogger John Beckett cites a number of roles that leadership still plays for the Pagan community. First, writes Beckett, is the more mainstream idea of “leaders as decision makers.” While there is no ultimate authority, “decisions have to be made based on an understanding of what the group wants to do.” This can be done through consensus or democratic process rather than an authoritarian style, but, “knowing which method to use for decisions is a key part of leadership,” explains Beckett.

Beyond that traditional leadership role, Beckett also sees Pagan leaders as teachers, managers, and visionaries. In the role of teacher, he emphasizes the necessity of strong communication skills. And, the role of manager is necessary because, while any group has a set of goals that drive it, “someone has to make sure all this gets done.” In the visionary role, leaders are needed to “articulate a vision and inspire people to do what’s necessary to make it a reality.”

Without leaders, our vision of the future can be difficult to see and even more difficult to attain. It is vital to the health of Pagan communities to produce strong, ethical people who are willing and able to perform these leadership functions.

Photo Credit: Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight [Courtesy Photo]

Now, it can be a daunting task to step out from the comfort of your own private spiritual practice and into the more public world of community leadership. However, many Pagan leaders have found it rewarding both personally and spiritually. To take those first steps into a new role, author and blogger Shauna Aura Knight advises a “model of apprenticeship and increasing responsibility” to help new community leaders get their feet wet. Knight regularly blogs and teaches a variety of leadership skills in the Chicago area. She further explains that this apprenticeship model can apply to anything from ritual facilitation to “event planning, leading meetings, and many other aspects” by “building the emerging leader’s confidence.”

Christopher Penczak, author and co-founder of the Temple of Witchcraft, says that this is how he became involved in leadership. “Each time I got the call to take on a little more responsibility,” he writes, “I thought that would be as far as it would go. Yet every few years, the call to go deeper would happen.” Although he did not seek a leadership role, “each time there was a need, and I found myself asked to step into a new and uncomfortable role.”

David Salisbury, an author and co-facilitator of The Firefly House in Washington, D.C. echoes this process, saying that, “I like to think that I tripped, stumbled, and fell into leadership.”

Photo Credit: Christopher Penczak

Christopher Penczak [Courtesy Photo]

Whether they intentionally sought out leadership or “stumbled” into it, there are certain personal qualities that help new leaders succeed. Knight believes that self-reflection is vital. “If you’re not actually looking into the mirror,” says Knight, “you’re going to keep making the same mistakes and wonder why your group’s falling apart and never realize your own role in it.”

Penczak states that communication skills are indispensable. “While you can’t please everyone all the time, and really can’t even try,” he says, “you have to understand what people are saying to you and be able to convey what you can and cannot do, and why.”  Alix Wright, the Lead Pisces Minister in the Temple of Witchcraft, agrees, noting that, “You can’t expect people to do what needs to be done, if you can’t tell them in a manner that they understand.” Wright adds that, “Since everybody hears and understands in different ways, you have to be able to communicate in a style and manner that matches each person you’re working with.”

Knight also recommends “the ability to hold paradox.” She writes, “Some issues are not just the binary of black and white, good or bad,” and explains that, “many leaders get stuck in being a know-it-all obsessed with being right, and that causes a lot of conflicts.” Salisbury echoes this when he advises young leaders to “remain humble and open to listening to your community.”

David Salisbury [Courtesy Photo]

There are always issues that can hold a new leader back. “Fear,” states Penczak, “is the biggest problem with new leaders.” This includes “Fear of losing control. Fear of not getting something done. Fear of not being worthy, and an effort to hide all these fears rather than acknowledge the process.”

Wright and Salisbury agree that doing too much at once is a major obstacle for new leaders. Wright emphasizes that, “One of the lessons I needed to learn was that it’s okay to say no, and when I do say yes, then it’s okay to ask for help and delegate.” Salisbury cautions against “trying to be everything to everyone all at once” because “burnout is a major leader-killer.”

Knight fears that, when new groups or events begin to form, those in charge “never stop to talk about what their goals are,” and she warns that, “most conflicts come from assumptions.” She advises “direct communication” to unravel those conflicts.

She also warns against another pitfall of leadership: “egotism.” “Many leaders desperately want to be ‘the person with the good idea,’ or ‘the one who’s right’ or, more broadly, ‘the savior.’ ” This, she says, leads to poor boundaries and poor choices, and it brings her back to stating her top quality for leadership: self-reflection.

“Know thyself.”

Perhaps this ancient wisdom is the single best piece of advice. As John Beckett stresses, in the end “leaders are servants.”  Leaders serve those whom they lead, providing them with spiritual experiences and practical direction, sometimes at their own expense. “Good leaders do that work,” concludes Beckett, “because they want to serve the Gods, their groups, the Pagan community, and the world at large.”

TWH — Although a signature is still needed by President Obama, it does appears that women in the United States will soon be required to register with Selective Service, making them eligible to be drafted into the military. As it stands now, all men ages 18 to 26 must register for possible involuntary military service with the Selective Service System. Women have previously been exempt due to restrictions that kept them off the front lines and out of combat roles.

That all changed earlier this year when Defense Secretary Ash Carter, implementing an Executive Order from President Obama, opened all military jobs to women.

[Public Domain / Video Still]

[Public Domain / Video Still “Women in the Military”]

The proposal was first introduced to the House Armed Services Committee by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who placed this measure in the Defense Department Spending Authorization Bill to protest the President’s Executive Order. Although he feels the rules limiting Selective Service registration to males is sexist, he made it clear he doesn’t want women in combat roles or possibly being drafted to fight in a war. Unfortunately for Hunter, the proposal passed a vote in the committee and is expected to be signed into law later this year.

The Wild Hunt spoke with Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists and asked their opinions on women being required to register for Selective Service.


John Beckett There is no draft. There is only registration for the draft, which would expedite the draft process should it be necessary, which would require an act of Congress. Given that we’ve done without a draft for over 40 years despite fighting seemingly endless wars, I don’t see where we’re likely to have one in the foreseeable future. Maintaining the draft registration is a waste of public resources.

That said, if we should need a draft, there is no reason to exclude women. Women have shown over and over again they can serve as well as men.

Misty Pullen (Eclectic)  If they think that there should be a draft, then both sexes should be a part of it. I am a military brat that if my mother hadn’t gotten out to get schooling (she could have taken long distance learning even in the 80s) I would have been a child that would have changed schools myself and gotten to know what it was like to be in while she was in.

Dean Jones While I detest the notion of the draft, I will comment. As a former member of the armed forces I worked under many women supervisors and had many women in command and they were without exception as capable or more capable than the men they served with. I am not comfortable with anything that bars women from receiving any right that a man has equally, the world is already too unbalanced. As we reach a time period where people are considering more than one gender, I’m not sure that it should even be a consideration for armed service.

Patricia Lacasse I do not want my granddaughters to have to register for a draft. I don’t want anyone to have to register for the draft. I never want to see the mandatory draft come back. I lived at a time when I watched with horror as friends and family were drafted and sent to Vietnam to be killed in that senseless war. If someone of their own choice decides to serve in the military that is one thing. I respect their sacrifice and appreciate their service. No one should be forced to serve. If women want to join the military it should be their choice If they want to serve in combat situations that should be their choice also. I don’t think it should involve registering for the draft. It will be too easy for the U.S. to go to continuous wars if both women and men are registered, and next thing will be the Congress will vote to bring back the mandatory draft. I do not and will not trust the war hawks in Congress in this situation. I served my country as a V.I.S.T.A. volunteer but have no military experience.


Erin Lale I have not been in the military but many members of my family were. Get rid of the draft entirely. Forcing someone to work under threat of jail is slavery.

Erik Saulness I’m a navy veteran and I identify as a culturally Pagan (Norse Heathenism, if it matters) Atheist. I see the draft as inherently immoral; it’s slavery. There are conceivably situations of existential crisis where it could be the lesser evil, but it’s evil. That said, intellectually, if we allow women in combat roles and we have a draft… then it should be a draft for all. It’s not a policy I would ever choose, but it’s the only morally consistent one that we’ve set ourselves up for. And in a situation where a draft could ever be justified, I suppose we would need everybody manning the wall anyway.

Ideally, I would test for combat eligibility without considering gender. The PT standards shouldn’t be lowered or altered, if a recruit passes and is eligible… then give them a gun. Again, this is a distasteful hypothetical in which we’ve already embraced a draft at all, which I oppose for all.

Angie Kunschmann I am not OK with it but I certainly don’t see why women wouldn’t be a part of the draft if men are. I would prefer we got rid of the draft period. I was an army brat as a child.


[Courtesy Photo]

Robert Anthony Parobechek  Personally, I don’t think there should be such thing as a draft period. If a foreign power actually did invade our country, I am sure the citizens would be sufficiently motivated to volunteer. Outside of that I think women should have to register in a draft. If the country goes crazy again in its lust for war over oil, someone drafted to fight against their will has international political refugee status.  Australia, Sweden? See you there.

Heather Honeycutt-Wyne I come from a military family and was a Navy wife. Like most here, I would prefer to abolish the draft. I don’t necessarily think that women should be drafted. ‘Equal to’ does not mean ‘the same as’, and many women may not have the necessary physical qualities for combat. However, during war there are a lot of positions that need filled, and not all of them are combat positions.

Hellenic Polytheists

Anne Hatzakis I was turned down for military service at 18 because of poor vision. If we keep the draft, both men and women should be required to register for it. Personally, I would like to see the draft abolished for everyone as I think it’s not a good thing.

Victory White Being blunt here I think this is a game by an increasingly schizo Congress. They don’t want to even talk about the Equal Rights Amendment, equal wages, women’s rights over their own reproduction and several other women’s issues but they will add women to the roles of a program that hasn’t even been used in over 30 years?! What are they trying to sell here? And most importantly why?

The economic situation has already created a group of citizens to fill the current needs of the military as it stands now. They draft is out dated and was unfair when it was in use.  As a Hellenic. I have too many questions about this to be anything more than doubtful. As a patriot I believe in defending my country. That also means to me defending it from becoming a way mongering greedy monster run amok.


Morninghawk Apollo (Animist) I oppose the draft (or even registration for the draft) in general. I am a feminist, and believe that every position a man is qualified for, so is a woman. As a result, if men are to be forced into slavery for the state, so should women. It is part of the responsibility of being equal. I think there is a positive, unintended consequence of forcing women to register for the draft like their brothers. It will raise the issue and the evilness of the whole process in the social consciousness. Maybe that will cause politicians (especially those who have daughters) to reconsider the whole thing.

Philipp Kessler (Eclectic) In the interest of equality, women should be required to register with the draft. That is, unless we abolish the draft entirely. Which I feel is a very good idea. The draft has not been activated in decades. It is an unnecessary requirement. If we were truly in a time of world war, then yes the draft should remain intact with the addition of women being required to register for the draft.

I am not in favor of the bill. The proposed bill includes a rider that would eliminate federal protections for the LGBTQ employees of contracted companies. As well as an unnecessary increase to military spending.

Amanda Durfee-Spencer (Eclectic) I don’t agree with making any one regardless of gender register for the draft. To me, the draft violates the very things this country stands for by forcing someone into military service such as what happened in Vietnam. There are other ways to “serve” your country that don’t include being shipped out to war. And until the government fixes the broken Veterans Affairs health system and starts taking better care of our military men and women, they really have no business asking anyone to register.

Scott Reimers This seems to be topic which Pagans can agree on. While conservative Pagans tend to be pro-military industrial complex and liberal Pagans tend to be anti-military industrial complex, both sides believe in supporting our troops. Both sides almost always share a perspective in support of gender equality. Since our community tends of be at the front of equality issues most of us have stopped considering women “weak.” Additionally warfare has changed. It’s not about being big and strong to hike long miles before swinging a sword. It is about being properly trained to use tools… and hey… cliche to the rescue. Women aren’t known for the adventures in trying to figure something out without reading directions.

Lee J. Lavallee-Cothran Former active duty military, and yes I would agree to that. With caveats excusing single parents of either sex, and limiting parental units to one from a family with dependents, and this goes for same sex couples who have families as well. Remember, signing for a draft does not necessarily mean being drafted into the military like it once did. It means being eligible in case certain situations arise.

Tracie Wood As someone who served in the Marine Corp for 6 years I’m all for the draft for women. Women have the right and responsibility to serve and protect this country the same as men do. More and more combat roles are being opened to women across all services. Also, even if a woman is not serving in a combat role, there are supporting jobs that need to be filled so the men can serve in combat. Why should all the responsibility fall to men?

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- From left to right, Staff Sgt. Josie E. Harshe, flight engineer; Capt. Anita T. Mack, navigator; 1st Lt. Siobhan Couturier, pilot; Capt. Carol J. Mitchell, aircraft commander; and loadmasters Tech. Sgt. Sigrid M. Carrero-Perez and Senior Airman Ci Ci Alonzo, pause in the cargo bay of their C-130 for a group photo following their historic flight. (U.S. Air Force photo)

First all female C-130 Hercules crew to serve a combat mission for the U.S. Air Force, 2005 [Public Domain]

Witches or Wiccans

Ash Sears I’m a Navy brat, former army wife and now wife to marine.  Having two daughters I am not a fan of it, but honestly I am not a fan of the draft at all. Having said that, I think it’s a natural part of the process since women are fighting for equality as much as we are

Tasha Rose I don’t have military background, but I’d just like to point out that liberal “equality” is what gets women being forced to register for the draft. I’m not interested in being equal to men’s warring patriarchal system. I want to smash it to pieces.

Tony Brown I oppose conscription for people of any gender. But if there is to be a draft, then yes, it should be implemented in a gender neutral fashion.

Lisa Cowley Morgenstern (and Heathen) When I was 18 I considered registering for the draft because I thought it was wrong that women didn’t get drafted but men did. However I was a naive and scared Catholic girl who was afraid she might actually get drafted and end up in barracks with men and that was scary then. As a dual trad witch and Heathen I think both genders should be eligible if there is a draft.

*    *    *

Senate lawmakers must sign off on the draft review and changes before they can be sent to the president to become law. The authorization bill isn’t expected to be finalized by Congress until this fall. U.S. citizens have not been subjected to a draft for over 40 years and both lawmakers and military leaders say they do not foresee a situation in which one would be used.

logo1Over the week, there have been online rumblings that the American Council of Witches is trying, once again, to form. A Facebook page was opened on Sept. 11 and has remained fairly quiet until the past two months. And, it wasn’t until two weeks ago that the page began to receive significant attention, both for and against the council.

The American Council of Witches (ACOW) was originally created in 1973 by an eclectic group of practitioners, many of whom are no longer living. However, as we reported last year, that group, which “convened in Minneapolis, Minnesota, disbanded shortly after, allegedly due to internal divisions.” Then in 2011, a group of people tried to resurrect ACOW but, once again, it folded after “questions were raised about [its] goals, structure, and secrecy.” Then again, in early 2015, a new group of people tried unsuccessfully to launch the council. It ultimately folded due to similar concerns to those posed in 2011.

Since late March, there has been increased traffic to the new ACOW page, which “council members” claim is all that exists at this point. While there are many people who do appear to be eager to join, there are just as many asking the same questions as before, such as, “Who are you?” and, “What are your goals?” In addition, concerns have been raised regarding the thirteen beliefs, originally listed in September. Many of the recent complaints and questions have since been deleted from the page. However, new concerns continue to appear daily, including some people suggesting that this new launch is simply an internet ruse or what has been called “a trolling.”

The Wild Hunt did receive an email from a reported member of the new group. He said, “I have tried to help this new Council and they did not want to take any of my ideas.” He continued on saying that he’d like to clarify the situation before “mistakes are made.”  We have not yet received a second response to our questions and will update the story as needed.

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downloadBBC Radio 4: The World Tonight will be featuring a talk with Doreen Valiente Foundation trustee Ashley Mortimer about the new “Where Witchcraft Lives” exhibition currently open at Preston Manor in Brighton. According to Mortimer, “[The BBC] visited the exhibition yesterday, praised it highly and asked some excellent questions about it – just the sort of thoughts and questions we hoped it would stimulate for people with no knowledge of Paganism when they visit.”

The radio broadcast will also reportedly feature some of Doreen Valiente’s own words as well as an interview with venue officer Paula Rightson. Preston Manor is considered one of “Britain’s spookiest historic houses.” Rightson explained, “Preston Manor has been chosen to display this collection because it’s so compatible with the interests of the last private owner […] [They] were fascinated by Sussex history, archaeology and folklore.” That included the supernatural and the occult. According to Rightson, Valiente herself was very well aware of the owners’ interests and referred to it within her own research and writing.

The BBC Radio 4 will air the interview at 22:00 GMT, after which it will be available for streaming. In addition, Mortimer will be interviewed by by a BBC World program. The air date has not yet been announced.

 *   *   *


Courtesy: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center

With Earth Day only eleven days away, the organizers behind A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment have launched a new effort to increase the number of signatures on the online document.”Help us get 10,000 signatures by Earth Day 2016!”

The site reads, “Pagans can aid in the repair of our environment by teaching how we are part of life on Earth, sharing rituals and ceremonies that foster bonds between ourselves and the rest of the web of life, and instilling a sense of responsibility for how we interact with the ecosystem — all this creating cultures that can sustain our human society today and for generations to come.”

The idea for this community statement was born in the summer 2014, after Covenant of the Goddess released its own environmental statement. That summer, blogger John Halstead began bringing interested people together to craft this statement to reflect a diversity of Pagan thought. The large groups of participants worked together through the following months to write and finalize the document. Then, on Earth Day 2015, it was launched for signatures.

Since that time, the statement has garnered 7,983 signatures from individual people heralding from 80 different countries and has been translated into 16 different languages. In addition, twenty-four Pagan and Heathen organizations from around the world have officially signed the document. Organizers wrote, “As signatories, we commit to use our abilities and resources to promote policies and practices that foster the changes that our world so urgently needs.” They are now looking for increased support in order to reach the goal of 10,000 signatures. They write, “Add your voice to our call to protect all life in this historic moment by signing the statement.” 

In Other News

    • Denton CUUPS announced that it has donated $260 to the creation of the First Pagan Temple in Texas. As we previously reported, Chris Godwin and the local HearthStone Grove ADF launched a fundraising campaign to purchase the land needed to create a physical space for Pagans in their area. HearthStone’s vision and history are detailed on the fundraiser page. Denton CUUPS, which is also located in Texas, understands the importance of a dedicated gathering space. The organization ran into arson problems at its own ritual space in December 2015. Regarding HearthStone’s efforts, Denton CUUPS said, “We encourage others to contribute as they’re able.”
    • Artist Helga Hedgewalker’s work was chose as April’s Artist of the Month at Blick’s in Roseville, Minnesota. Hedgewalker is a Gardnerian high priestess and Witch “with decades of professional experience in print design, illustration, book design, package design, web graphics and advertising.” She calls all of her creative work “offerings of Beauty to the Gods.” On display at Blick’s are five of these “offerings” each of which depicts a representation of a deity or divine spirit. These include Star Goddess of the East, Green God of the South, Horned God of the West, Earth Goddess of the North, and Yemayá, Our Lady of the Oceans, Mother of All Life.
    • The Nathaniel Johnstone Band has announced the release of their fifth full-length album. The new album is called Mother Matrix and features eleven new songs that are an “exploration of that thought process.” The Nathaniel Johnstone Band’s sound is described as “crossing boundaries” as a “blend of European, Middle Eastern, and South American music with Jazz, Rock, Surf, Folk, Gothic, and Steampunk influences – all the while exploring the realms of myth, folklore, and magick.”

  • Authors John Matthews and Caroline Wise have a newly released book called The Secret Lore of London. As described by publisher Hodder and Stoughton, “London is an ancient city, whose foundation dates back literally thousands of years into the legendary prehistory of these islands. Not surprisingly it has accumulated a large number of stories, both historic and mythical, many of which, though faithfully recorded at the time, have lain almost forgotten in dusty libraries throughout the city.” The new anthology explores these mysteries with the help of “key figures in contemporary paganism and earth mysteries.”  
  • From the blogosphere, John Beckett of Under the Ancient Oaks shares a review of the Gordon White’s new book The Chaos Protocols published by Llewellyn. Beckett writes, “This is not a book that tells you how to become one of the financially elite. It is not a book that tells you how to blow it all up or how to live off the grid. This is a book that shows you how to live and work within our current system and maintain your integrity.”
  • Lastly, members of the Pagan Federation International will be gathering in the Netherlands this weekend for its 16th annual conference. The guest speaker is Julian Vayne, who will be giving two talks – one on ‘Chaos Magic and Witchcraft’ and the other on ‘The Medicine Path – psychedelics and spirituality.’ The conference will take place at “Lunteren in the beautiful woods of the National Park ‘de Hoge Veluwe.’ Door open at 9 a.m.

The Pagan, Heathen, and Polytheist communities are in a very dynamic time and who knows what the future for these religions may be. The Wild Hunt asked community members to guess the future by having them answer this question:

“What do you think Paganism in the USA will look like 100 years from now?”

[Courtesy Photobucket]

[Courtesy Photobucket]

Phaedra Bonewits, 60’s, Occult Generalist

“I think about where we were a hundred years ago, still in the throes of German Romantic Neopaganism, folklore obsessions in Britain, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn fallen apart, and America still fascinated with 19th-century Spiritualism and Theosophy, plus the Eastern religions to which they’d been exposed a scant 23 years earlier at the first World’s Parliament of Religions. Wicca wasn’t yet a gleam in Gerald Gardner’s eye, and Heinlein was still in rompers. Magical lodges were still popular, but a vast amount of occultism and magical practice was firmly rooted in a Christian paradigm.

“Now, we’ve got hard polytheists, public rituals to the old Gods, major conventions, scholarly works, Internet research, and more solitaries than at which you could shake a stang. All were unimaginable 100 years ago. Heck, I couldn’t have imagined the Pagan world looking like this forty years ago — forty years ago, we didn’t even have camping festivals!

“Here’s a few guesses, though, assuming our overpopulating, invasive species hasn’t driven ourselves to extinction by then! A hundred years from now, the Neopagan/Pagan umbrella will be a thing of the past. It’s fragmenting even now, and in a century, those fragments will have taken up independent lives. Generic, nature-focused Pagans may be seen as a quaint artifact from the 20th century. Those who attempt 20th-century coven-based, initiatory mystery religion Wicca will be a tiny minority, just as members of magical lodges are today. The Wheel of the Year may become quaint, too, lost in favor of holy days specific to deities being honored.

“Occult practitioners in general may be pushed far to the outside of Paganism as worship-focused Paganism becomes more the norm. Bad news for old-fashioned occultists such as myself, but great for hard polytheists. Temple or shrine-based Paganism may become unremarkable, just as it is now on continents that are not historically dominated by Abrahamic religions.

“About twenty-five years ago, I was walking up the steps of the Field Museum in Chicago, a spectacular example of neoclassical architecture, with a small child in tow. He the son of the high priestess of our little magical working group. As we trudged up the sweeping outdoor staircase, I said to him, “Did you know we used to worship the Gods in buildings like this instead of in our living room?” He looked at me with big eyes and a wondering expression, and said, “We did?” Since then, I’ve wished for the day when one can tell a child, “Did you know we used to worship the Gods in our living rooms instead of in buildings like this?” and the child will respond with the same startled wonder, “We did?” Maybe in a hundred years.”

Selena Fox, Wiccan, 60’s

 “As I reflect on what Paganism in the USA will look like in 2116, here are some thoughts:

  • Paganism will continue to grow in size and forms with more practitioners and paths.
  • There will be more Pagan sacred places established, owned and cared for by Pagan organizations — more stone circles, shrines, temples, retreat centers, libraries, cemeteries, groves, and Nature sanctuaries.
  • There will be chaplains of various Pagan paths and organizations serving in the military, hospitals, hospices, universities, prisons, and other institutions.
  • There will be more Pagans serving in elected public office in local, state, and federal forms of government. Having one’s Pagan orientation known will seldom be a concern raised as an issue during elections as it has been in the 20th & 21st centuries.
  • There will be more understanding and acceptance of Pagans and Pagan paths in society as a whole, and less need to fight religious freedom battles in courts.
  • Paintings, films, music, theater, and other forms of art with Pagan imagery created by Pagans will be more widespread in society.
  • New forms of Pagan ritual practice and meditative imagery will develop as Pagans venture forth and live off planet.  
  • Croning, Saging, and other forms of Senioring Passage rites developed within Pagan communities will be more commonplace among people of many spiritual and philosophical orientations.
  • Pagans and Paganism may be also known by other terms.

“I think it is important to reflect on possible Pagan futures and to have conversations about this. To contribute to this process, I have been facilitating Visioning the Pagan Future workshops, rituals, and discussions at festivals and conferences around the nation. In addition to envisioning the future, may we find ways to share our visions and work together to help Paganism in all its colorful diversity to thrive.”

[Image By: Stgspi / DeviantArt]

[Image By: Stgspi / DeviantArt]

John Beckett50’s, Druid

“The environmental and social factors that gave rise to the emergence of Paganism in the 19th century and to its explosion in the 20th century will continue in the 21st and 22nd. Paganism will continue to grow in both breadth and depth over the next 100 years.

“Paganism will grow in breadth as more and more people begin to recognize the sacredness of Nature and begin to pay attention to the natural world. Pagan concepts and holidays will become generally recognized in the mainstream culture. Witchcraft will continue its growth, as increasingly disenfranchised people look for ways to influence their world. Paganism will remain a minority religion, but it will become a significant minority, even if much of its growth will be at the pop culture level.

“Paganism will grow in depth as a few dive deeper into their beliefs and practices. The witchcraft traditions will focus on individual growth and personal power, while the polytheist traditions will focus on developing robust devotional practices and building strong communities around them.

“But two things are sure about predicting the future: something we think is certain will fail, and something we aren’t even considering will arise. If we are wise, we will focus on being the best Witches, Pagans, polytheists, and such as we possibly can. Strong practices and resilient communities can succeed in any environment.”

Jason Mankey, 40’s, Gardnerian Witch:

“Imagining Paganism one hundred years from now is difficult. I think it will still exist (at least as we define it today) and probably in greater numbers, but I think it will be extremely fragmented. Today we sometimes talk about the Pagan umbrella having some ‘leaks,’ in one hundred years I think the umbrella will be long gone, with many groups and traditions distancing themselves from the word ‘Pagan.’

“I don’t think that’s all necessarily bad. Many traditions under today’s Pagan umbrella will undoubtedly grow because of these changes. Out there, on their own, many communities will create new infrastructures, mythologies, groups, and festivals; those are the good parts. On the downside, the break-up of the umbrella will make us even less strong politically, and limit the give and take that comes from being a part of wide-ranging coalition. (Think of all the things we share right now: festivals, blog-space, magazines, ritual space, etc. I for one find those shared moments beneficial.)

“I love my own tradition (Gardnerian Witchcraft), but the traditions of my friends (Druidry, Heathenism, and many more) have made my Pagan experience all the stronger, and richer. I think we will lose something when Re-constructionists no longer dance under the moon with Witches and Neo-Pagans. I think we are far stronger together, but see the divisions that are emerging among us as unfortunate but probably inevitable.”

[Image By: Stgspi / Deviantart]

[Image By: Stgspi / Deviantart]

Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir, 30s, polytheist with initiations in a variety of traditions:

“It’s hard to imagine but when I do I hope that it’s in a place where the current struggles against oppression are no longer as necessary or as vital as they are now to the engagement of pagans who identify as part of communities typically marginalized by the overculture.

I hope that my tradition is thriving and handling their rites and their W/work as best as they can with the guidance of the Elders who came from my teachings and from the guidance of Spirit (of which I hope I am called on). I hope we’re in a place where the ability to care for each other extends beyond what we do in circle to outside of circle.

I hope that polytheists, pagans, Wiccans, ceremonialists, heathens, ADR/ATR practitioners, and myriad of faiths have found strength in each other from a place of mutual respect and admiration versus the grudge that we seem to have when forced to interact with each other now. I hope there is a space we carve out for each other and for the G*ds. I hope that we think outside the box of who shows up to really look at how we can be the kind of movement where there is no hierarchy of faiths, but rather a mutual understanding and solidarity in struggle.

I hope for a lot, don’t I? Well, why not? It’s good to want things. It builds character, I’m told.”

Lāhela Nihipali, 30’s, Indigenous Hawaiian polytheist:

“If paganism bucks the trend and learns to be USEFUL to their fellow human, *and* gains a foothold with regards to public policy (ie. better enforcement of environmental and citizen protections) then it can have a huge impact on where the country and the world will be in 100 years. Better health and better land management for one. Polytheists will continue to be an insular but growing part of the population of the US with its own personalised political goals and groups. More often than not, at odds (if only in principle) with pagan politicians/civil servants/policies. Polytheists will bridge the gap over the course of the 100 years with Indigenous and First Nations peoples whereas pagans will not. This will be important in the political divides of the century after the first 100 years.

“If paganism continues on its pursuit of USELESSNESS to general society and the country itself, we could very well see a rise in harmful but technologically manageable environmental disasters as well as civil liberty breaches manageable by political pandering continue. Simultaneously the US will see an increase in divisive groups nationwide as clean resources lessen and prices increase. Paganism and pagans in general become easy targets as they did zero realistic community building and will by this time be rejected by Polytheist organizations which have prepared by becoming more and more insular as resources have diminished.

“Pagans will now finally try to flower power their way into activism, now that they are being used as the boogeyman to rile up the populace. Lack of genuine organization is their downfall; their activism is labeled as unpatriotic troublemaking. Pagans will be politically and socially targeted as perfect scapegoats for the newly elected (some flavour of fascistic) ruling party. Lynching type incident occurs which sets in motion a general notion that its the patriotic thing to target pagans and other “undesirable trouble makers”–itʻs important to clean up the streets after all. Polytheists will by the end of the 100 years, in an act of self preservation, also reach out to other Polytheist organizations as well as Indigenous & First Nations. The next 100 years start with an uneasy tension between the allied Polytheists and the now heavily indoctrinated populace, by the end of this 100 years civil war looms.”

[Image By: Stgspi / Deviantart]

[Image By: Stgspi / Deviantart]

Elizabeth Zohar, 20’s, Wiccan:

“I can only hope that Paganism will continue to spread knowledge to anyone who wishes to learn the practices as we are now. However, I feel that in the changing world we live in that it may become more of a trend than an actual look on life. With the up coming generations, being who you want to be without being judge is what the new teachings are. However that also allows people to take advantage of that. They may begin to look at Paganism as something that is “cool” or “in” instead of actually learning the practices of the different religions or doing it to find peace and spirituality in yourself. 100 yrs from now we may have young adults assuming that Paganism is cool because it’s not Christianity or any other common religion. All I can hope is that our generation now will continue to teach the generations after us what Paganism really is and how it can help them in their day to day life.

Aubri, 20’s, Hellenic Pagan:

I believe that in the next 100 years Paganism will flourish because of how attractive it is for people of all ages, sex, race, etc. The thing with being Pagan is that your journey is your own, you can choose what path you want to follow. You can figure out what you want your focus to be as you learn. That’s very refreshing and comforting especially for the younger crowd, myself included. As a young adult your life is cluttered with all kinds of pressures and deadlines that it can be overwhelming. So I think that the biggest attraction to Paganism is the community. I’ve gone to Pagan festivals and picnics my entire life. They’re like vacations from the ‘muggle’ world where you can focus on yourself and your own growth. With the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere of the Pagan community, I believe that Paganism will continue to grow throughout the globe and one day make a come back as one of the top “religions” of the world.

*   *   *

But what about you? What do you think your religion, or our collective religions, will look like 100 years from now? 

DENTON, Texas — A series of fires were set in the Denton Unitarian Universalist church last Wednesday morning, and the damage was significant enough that the congregation will be holding most of its services elsewhere at least until January. The Yule ritual hosted by members of the Denton CUUPS chapter was an outright casualty, as members determined it would be too difficult to use another venue on such short notice.

Police quickly apprehended a 14-year-old boy who is believed to have set the fires that caused an estimated $20,000 worth of damage. At this time, the suspect is not believed to have been motivated by hate.

Denton UU fire damage [Photo Credit: Rev. Pam Wat]

The fires were set sometime between 7:30 and 9:30 in the morning, and were discovered by Rev. Pam Wat when she and her husband were checking on the building. Vandalism had already become an increasing problem at the church. In fact, the night before the fire, someone had been caught on the premises. He fled, leaving his cell phone behind. Although the phone was turned over police, this person was allegedly able to return the next morning to set some fires, causing very real damage.

In a written statement, Wat described the building’s condition:

The damage from the fire is significant, but not overwhelming. The office is largely untouched by the fire. The rest of the building has smoke and water damage. In addition, the sanctuary had two smallish fires that caused some damage, but the more extensive damage was to Fellowship Hall and our religious education classrooms. . . . Some furniture is burned beyond repair. In Fellowship Hall half our library was burned and the other half has water damage. The television was damaged. Structurally the church is fine, but we will have some recovery ahead of us.

John Beckett is the Denton CUUPS chapter coordinator, and the one to break the news that the group’s annual Yule celebration would have to be canceled as a result of the damage. He wrote that it was ” . . . with great reluctance and sadness that we canceled this Saturday’s Yule Circle following the fire at the Denton UU Fellowship. The building will not be usable for at least a week, and a variety of logistical issues would make it extremely difficult to relocate this ritual to another location, or to hold it in the front yard of the church.” He then went on to explain some of the reasoning behind that decision:

Some friends have suggested that we do it anyway, even if all we can do is gather in the parking lot and sing a song of defiance in the face of adversity. While we admire that resolve, it simply isn’t doable for us at this time for a variety of reasons, some apparent and some not.

Our sacred space has been desecrated by intentional violence – the building is not the only thing that’s been damaged. On Saturday evening, CUUPS members will hold a private gathering where we’ll talk about what’s happened and how we want to respond. We would prefer to be leading a public Yule circle instead, but this is something we simply must do.

An assessment of the damage in the days since has church leaders suspecting it will cost more than initial estimates of $20,000 to repair the building entirely from the smoke and water, which did most of the damage. Even when the work is complete, some of the books which survived will likely carry the smell — and reminder — for years to come. As the church carries a high-deductible insurance policy, and the 2016 budget is “already tight” according to Beckett, a fundraising effort has been launched to cover the difference, including a “donate” button on the church web site. No information was immediately available on how much has already been raised.

There is some sense of relief that the teen apprehended almost certainly didn’t target this particular building for ideological reasons, but some unease, as well. Beckett wrote, “This was not his first incident and we are not his only victims. He appears to be a deeply disturbed young person. He has already gone from breaking windows to setting fires –- this is a pattern that frequently leads to hurting animals and then people. Our hope and prayer is that he can be helped before he goes any further down this path… and that until then, he can be compassionately restrained.”

Beckett also wrote about how CUUPS members spent the time that had been reserved for a Yule ritual around Baldur and the mistletoe.

We’re thankful it wasn’t a hate crime, but at least a hate crime would have given us a target for our anger. In the end, we agreed this is a good example of the fact that not everything “happens for a reason” -– or rather, sometimes the reason is just that you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. . . . when the repairs are finished (probably in early March), we’re going to hold a public ritual and invite representatives from area Pagan groups to help us reconsecrate our sacred space. We’re going to make room for our long distance friends to participate too –- we want as much “juice” going into this ritual as we can get. . . . Our matriarch led us in a guided meditation for healing, after which we performed a group ritual to mark the close of the solar year and to banish the harm this year has brought.

To be thankful that a devastating fire was just a random act of vandalism rather than a targeted act of hate can feel a little bit like letting evil win, but Beckett chooses to see it differently. As he posted on his own Facebook page, “I am extremely thankful for the outpouring of sympathy and support we’ve received since this happened on Wednesday. It is at times like these I’m reminded that despite all our differences, the Pagan community is a community.”

Diversity is one of those funny things. There never seems to be enough diversity in any community to reflect all the many different intersections within society. Ideas of diversity are often limited to race, ethnicity and gender in larger conversations, and yet there are so many more variations and flavors to the many different types of people, ideas, experiences and circumstances. It has become more of a buzz word in many spaces, such as the workplace, academic institutions and even spiritual spaces – an expectation instead of a reality in some circumstances. 

[Public Domain]

[Public Domain]

We know that diversity means variety and the representation of a range of differences. Do we have diversity within modern Paganism? Like with many different communities, Paganism has areas of great diversity and some areas that are seriously lacking. While areas of ethnic diversity are have been slow to expand, areas of diversity in sexual orientation, spiritual practice, gender variances, traditions, and socioeconomic status seem to be the opposite. There are a lot of different types of people in our circles, groves, houses, covens, groups and conventions that fall all along the different continuums.

The sheer nature of experiential spirituality allows for people’s differences to have a place within the community dialog, and when it doesn’t it is noticeable. I tend to crave diverse environments, and when there is a noticeable lack of diversity in a specific area, I notice it pretty quickly.

Diversity can be vital to the sustainability of any given community because it challenges our thoughts and stretches the boxes that we construct within our own limited exposures. Diversity supports growth. In The Benefits of Diversity, What the Research Tells us, authors D. Smith and N. Chonfeld talk about quantitative and qualitative research on the impact of diversity in higher education and within organizations. Data continues to point to the importance of diversity and the benefits that diversity has on the development of a community, and the individuals within it. “Our review reveals important links between experiences with diversity and increased commitment to civic engagement, democratic outcomes, and community participation”.

The ability for people to grow and learn through the experiences and connections with a myriad different types of people benefits our ability to think critically and have a larger world view.

So what does diversity look like in the Pagan community and how do Pagans feel about the layers of diversity that we do have? I spoke to four different types of Pagans and Polytheists to ask these questions. John Beckett, Niki Whiting, Sabrina Taylor and Lorrie Patrick; all different people from different flavors of practice with different backgrounds. Some of these people are writers, or college students, and have different socioeconomic statuses. All of them are connected to our Pagan and/or Polytheist communities.

I asked three questions of all three people interviewed:

1. What areas do you feel we are the most diverse in our communities?
2. What do you enjoy about the elements of diversity that the Pagan and Polytheist communities have?
3. What areas of diversity would you like to see our communities grow in?

The answers to these questions were quite diverse in themselves, and show a snapshot of how simple and yet how complex diversity can be.

John Beckett

John Beckett

We are most diverse in our religious and magical traditions. When I first began exploring Paganism in the early 1990s there was Wicca and Druidry and that was about it.  here were other traditions (Thelema, for example, is older than Wicca) but if you were new and didn’t know anybody, you didn’t have much of a chance of finding them.

Now there are more traditions than you can keep up with, and with the internet and especially with social media, a seeker can find pretty much exactly what they’re looking for. The problem now isn’t that there’s not enough diversity, it’s differentiating one group from another.

I like going to Pantheacon or Pagan Pride Day or just surfing the internet and learning something new and different about how to form and maintain relationships with the Gods, ancestors, and spirits of Nature. I like learning about religions and cultures that were thought to be dead that are being revived and reimagined here and now. And I especially like to see Gods that were forgotten being worshiped again, perhaps for the first time in thousands of years.

I’d like us to become more aware of the wide diversity that exists in the Pagan and Polytheist communities. We’re not all the same, and that’s OK.  I’d like to see a deeper appreciation of our diversity of beliefs and practices, not just to avoid cultural appropriation (although that’s certainly important) but to form and demonstrate respect for our differences.

And I’d like for us all to learn to listen better, so we can help seekers find the tradition that calls to them and not steer them toward a tradition we think they “should” follow based on their appearance, name, orientation, or other categorizations. The Gods call who They call. John Beckett


Niki Whiting

Niki Whiting

I don’t really know how to answer that question. I don’t think I’m capable or qualified to do so! My communities are relatively small and most active online, which skews my reality. What I see online, what I witness at PCon, and what I saw at Many Gods West are quite different!

The one thing I’ll say is that overall we do a good job of fostering and supporting LGB folk. Some communities are better than others about the T in that equation.

Overall, I love the spirit that is present in both communities. In my limited experience I think the polytheist communities are doing a better job of discussing a wide array of social, environmental, and economic justice issues, and also of listening to diverse voices.

I was pleased to see just how gender variant the attendees at MGW were. Attendees also came with a variety of social needs and several had mobility issues, and all were accommodated in a very organic way. If those people are in our wider communities I feel very hopeful for inclusion and continued diversity in both Paganism and polytheism.

Access and money for access. Many of the people involved in our communities are not wealthy. We make sacrifices to attend gatherings and groups, to tend our shrines and altars. But many people with more than one hurdle are often left out of such gatherings. How can we make these events and gatherings more accessible?

How can we reach out to communities that might otherwise be sympathetic but see Paganism as a white, hippie enclave? I think polytheism has a better “in” in this regard. There are many traditions that don’t consider themselves Pagan but are or can be approached from polytheism. Many of these traditions come from indigenous cultures or Afro-diasporic cultures – groups that are tremendously important to the United States’ history and culture, but often get left out (sometimes by their own choice!) in the overwhelming European milieu of modern American Paganism.”  Niki Whiting 


Lorrie Patrick

Lorrie Patrick

What I have noticed in my limited exposure is that we all seem to come from very different backgrounds particularly where and how we were raised. We seem to have a great deal of diversity among us not only in what part of the country or world we grew up in but varying socioeconomic status, religious backgrounds, how and by whom we were raised, and the life experiences that have brought us where we are today.

I enjoy this diversity because I feel we all come together due to a common thread but still have so many different things to offer one another which hopefully helps us to learn and grow.

My hope is that our communities continue to have open dialog about their differences. That we can recognize them, embrace them and use our shared knowledge to strengthen the community in  every way possible. – Lorrie Patrick


Sabrina Taylor

Sabrina Taylor

I believe that the Pagan communities are most diverse when it comes to online communities. I think many different factors play a part in this. Due to location (I live in Seattle) I rarely run into other Pagans of color except at festivals and larger community gatherings.

I enjoy the fact that many of us bring an element of social justice to our communities and spiritual backgrounds, either due to who we are as people or what we experienced growing up due to being a minority.

It would be great to see more diversity in pagan leadership organizations as well as within our community’s media. – Sabrina Taylor

When I think about the reasons I was initially drawn to the larger Pagan community I think about the different conversations, and vastly different types of people with whom I got to connect. While it is very apparent that diversity within some areas of our community are slow to develop, I still find that other areas of diversity have been just as important in the connection that I, and many others, have within modern Paganism or Polytheist communities. 
It is my personal opinion that any community should be made up of all different kinds of people. My ideal community would be made up of Black, White, Latino, Multi-Ethnic, female, male, transgendered, gender queer, heterosexual, bi-sexual, gay, meta-sexual peoples of all different socioeconomic statuses, from all different types of regions, from different age groups, different abilities, with the many different experiences and engaging in many different types of spiritual practices.

The more that our communities can identify, embrace and celebrate the various forms of diversity we have, the more culturally competent our communities become. Increased opportunity to break out of the mold of groupthink allows for innovation, enhanced understanding of cultural nuances, and cross-cultural interconnected relatability.

We need to continuously ask ourselves where we excel, where we need to improve, what faces are missing from our circles and how can we support diverse spaces that encourage health of our overall spiritual communities.

There was a section that stuck out to me in reading What Do Leaders Need To Understand About Diversity on the Yale School of Management website. “Here’s the key: If you want diversity of thought, you have to bring in people around you who have diverse experiences. Differences in race, gender, and socioeconomic background are three characteristics, but so are differences in learning style or differences in professional field. And I’m not suggesting that any one of those points of diversity is more potent than others.”

It is important to celebrate where we are great and examine where we need to improve, while fostering an environment that promotes healthy engagement in our myriad differences.

A Blessed Lughnasadh

The Wild Hunt —  July 31, 2015 — 2 Comments

This weekend, many modern Pagans, Polytheists and Heathens are observing the summer festival of Lughnasadh, also called Lammas, Lughnassa, and Harvest Home. Typically celebrated on August 1, Lughnasadh is one of the yearly fire festivals and marks the first of three harvest celebrations. It traditionally honors Lugh, the Celtic god of light and many talents, and his foster-mother, Tailtiu.

In addition, the weekend brings the Asatru festival of first fruits called Freyfaxi. Both celebrations are celebrated with feasting, songs, games, thanksgiving and the reaping of the first fruits and grains of the season.

[By Shree Krishna Dhital via Wikimedia Commons]

[By Shree Krishna Dhital via Wikimedia Commons]”

Tonight, Lammas Eve 2015, will bring the rare Blue Moon, or the second full moon in the month of July. According to sources, the last Blue Moon was in August 2012.

Here are a few quotes about the harvest celebration:

This is the traditional wheat harvest of England! Referenced several times in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, its name comes from the word Hlaefmaest, which means literally the “loaf-feast” … Celebrating this holiday would traditionally involve wheat and the products of wheat: flour and bread! Baking and offering bread or cakes to your Gods, spirits, and community is a fantastic way to get in the spirit of the holiday. – Molly Khan, “Heathen Ways to Celebrate Fall”

Harvest festivals have a long history in a huge variety of cultures. Having enough food is a good thing to celebrate, and it’s downright fun. Having enough to get through the next season and be able to make both beer and bread is even better, and definitely deserves a party. But in this day and age few of us harvest any kind of food with our own hands, and although gardens are growing in popularity, only a tiny proportion of us harvest the kind of bounty that provides security through the cold months. I think one result is that we tend to focus on the mystical meanings of bread and life while ignoring the seemingly mundane but fundamentally necessary part of the harvest: work. – Literata, “Lunasa – Sacred Work”

Lughnasadh is the first of the three harvest festivals. It’s the grain harvest, which led to the name Lammas – “loaf mass.” But before we can bake the loaf, the grain must be cut down … We live only because we consume other life – everything we eat was alive only a short time before we eat it. This is what every animal on the Earth does.  Some eat plants, some eat other animals, some eat both. All of Nature is sacred. But sacred or not, life feeds on life. Sacrifice is necessary. No matter what we offer to the Gods, our ceremonial sacrifices stand as a reminder that real, tangible sacrifices are necessary. Something has to die so we can eat.  – John Beckett, “Lammas Night”

The exchange of energy is an underlying principle of magick; another is as above so below. We honor the invisible realm of the Gods and in the material realm we sacrifice something by giving to others or to the planet. Thus is the sacrifice of Lammas made. – Vivianne Crowley, “Lammas, Season of Sacrifice”

The ancient Irish Festival of the First Harvest [is] a remembrance of a time when people lived their lives in preparation for that first harvest. This holy day must seem like a relic, in a time when every crop is available, year round, in the local grocery, and the land has become this thing we live on but never speak to.

We need a better harvest. We need a generation of people who will listen to the voices in the earth. We need to discover our purpose in the land. I need to discover its purpose in me. – Shaun Paul, “First Harvest”

Happy Lughnasadh to all those celebrating this season.  And, to all of our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, a very very Happy Imbolc.