Archives For London

Last week notorious “witch-hunter” Helen Ukpabio, known as Lady Apostle, arrived in London to hold a 3 day revival meeting called a ”Season for Disconnections From All Spiritual Attack.” Ukpabio’s message is made very clear in a widely circulated poster that asks “Are you under Witchcraft attack? Mermaid Attack? Ancestral Spirit Attack?” It adds: “Come and be disconnected” a service that is “free of charge.”

Helen-Ukpabio-in-London2

Ukpabio is the founder of Nigeria’s Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries which claims to have more than 150 churches in that country alone. Allegedly Ukpabio is looking to open one in the UK to serve its large African-born population. More specifically she is targeting its large Nigerian-born population which has grown over 110% since 2001.

Unfortunately for Ukpabio, the UK did not welcome her with open arms. When the event was announced, there was immediate backlash. The planned venue, Albany World Music Theater, canceled her booking due to its content. In a statement, the Albany said:

We only cancel bookings in very exceptional circumstances. In this instance we were not given full information about the nature of the booking by the booker, which is at odds with our terms and conditions and ethical policies as an organisation. As soon as we became aware of the full details of the booking, it was canceled and the booker was issued with a full refund.

The Witchcraft Human Rights and Information Network (WHRIN), The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) all reportedly contacted Home Secretary Theresa May and requested that Ukpabio be deported and permanently banned from the UK. Why? Gary Foxcroft, Executive Director of WHRIN explains:

We believe that her presence in the UK is pursuant to section 3(5) of the Immigration Act 1971 on the basis that her presence here is not conducive to the public good and request that she is immediately deported and has her UK visa revoked. There have been numerous cases of children in the UK being tortured and sometimes killed due to the beliefs that Helen Ukpabio espouses … We cannot afford to wait for another such case before the Government takes action to put a stop to such preachers.

For many Ukpabio is the one performing the “spiritual attacks” rather than saving anyone from them. In March, WHRIN released its “2013 Global Report” to the U.N.’s Human Rights Council on faith-based, witchcraft-related violence. During that year Ukpabio’s home country of Nigeria along with South Africa had the highest number of reported acts on the African continent. Unfortunately the statistics are flawed because there is “considerable under reporting, particularly when children are accused.” WHRIN explains:

These figures are inconsistent with the experience of organisations providing support to child victims in these settings. It may be that such accusations have become so common they cease to attract attention. It is also possible that previous unwelcome international media coverage discourages local or national reporting.

This past week’s events in London certainly did stir the international media. Despite all that attention and outrage, Ukpabio successfully held her meeting in an small, undisclosed venue. A group from IHEU discovered that location and managed to stage a small protest. In an interview with Channel 4 London, IHEU’s Bob Churchill called Ukpabio’s work a crime because it “incites people to abuse.” The TV station sponsored a short but comprehensive report on the subject:

Ukpabio has since left the UK. However many are hoping that the government will permanently ban her from the country. Foxcroft says:

The issue of children being abused due witchcraft accusations in the UK has been recognised by the Government who established a National Working group to tackle the problem. However, as yet, there have been no successful convictions of pastors whose preachings are known to lead to child abuse and there is no law in place to stop such harmful practices.

London’s Metro Police operates a special task force called Project Violet to interface with local communities and organizations specifically working to prevent abuse. Additionally the national government has created an “action plan to tackle child abuse linked to faith or belief.” It states:

This action plan is intended to help raise awareness of the issue of child abuse linked to faith or belief and to encourage practical steps to be taken to prevent such abuse … The beliefs which are the focus of this action plan are not confined to one faith, nationality or ethnic community. Examples have been recorded worldwide among Europeans, Africans, Asians and elsewhere as well as in Christian, Muslim, Hindu and pagan faiths among others. Not all those who believe in witchcraft or spirit possession harm children.

Within the UK there are also a number of charitable organizations, like Afruca, who work to raise awareness within African immigrant communities as well as in Nigeria itself. Afruca has offices in both London and Lagos, where it operates the Foundation for the Protection of the Rights of the Vulnerable Children. When Ukpabio left the country, Afruca tweeted:

It is the right direction for the UK and does send a message to the  international community. However the problem in Nigeria persists. Within the borders of her home country, Ukpabio is not only a respected minister but also a celebrity, a musician and a filmmaker. Her film production company, Liberty Films, is a household-name and a force in Nigeria’s film community Nollywood. Like her books and broadcast sermons, Ukpabio’s films are a delivery method for the anti-witchcraft message.

In a 2010 New York Times interview she defended her films saying, “It is only because I am African that people who understand that J. K. Rowling writes fiction would take literally Ms. Ukpabio’s filmic depictions of possessed children, gathering by moonlight to devour human flesh.” In another 2012 interview with Nigerian Yes! International Magazine, Ukpabio blames atheists for the continued backlash saying, “I marvel at the way people can easily use their demonic wisdom to kill, murder and slander another person.” When asked why she has so many enemies she says:

 I think [they fight me] because I preach the truth. Because I don’t compromise … So, people want to see me fall, people want to see me compromise … and I’ve refused.

Yes! International Magazine and other similar Nigerian pop media give Ukpabio a positive public voice in a country where she has millions of followers. However they do not speak for the entire country. The recent buzz on social media, blogs and in the Nigerian general media demonstrates that Ukpabio faces strong opposition among her own people. Here is a tweet from a mother and business woman residing in Lagos,

In addition there is a growing Nigerian child rights movement supported in part by international organizations such as UNICEF and Stepping Stones Nigeria. Ukpabio’s followers were caught on tape disrupting a meeting held by one these organizations.

As the fight for Africa’s children continues, the global community appears to be closely monitoring Ukpabio and other Pentecostal ministers like her. In 2008 Mags Gavan and Joost van der Valk released the documentary Saving Africa’s Witch Children which focuses on the dangers in Ukpabio’s ministry. The film was broadcast internationally over several years. In the U.S. it appeared on HBO in 2010 while Ukpabio happen to be in the States. When she tried to return in 2012 the U.S. refused to grant her a VISA.

UNICEF Nigeria has posted a series called Radio by children accused of being witches which catalogs the experiences of the child victims in their own words. As we reported Wednesday, South Africa Pagan Rights Alliance is now holding its yearly 30 Days of Advocacy campaign to raise awareness in its own country  – another hard hit by these witch accusations. The list goes on.

While the world grapples with this wide-spread problem, it raises many questions concerning religious freedom and more. Where does religious practice end and child abuse begin? Who gets to draw that line? Even if Ukpabio and others like her are stopped, there are still millions who have been raised with this very real cultural fear of witchcraft as defined by those teachings. Where and how does the process of effective education start in order to prevent future abuse by new ministers who could easily step into Ukpabio shoes?

30days

During my time at PantheaCon, I was fortunate enough to speak with Geraldine Beskin, the owner of the Atlantis Bookshop in London. Like myself, this was Geraldine’s first trip to PantheaCon and we both were amazed and delighted by the enormity of it all. When we sat down to talk, my original intention was simply to ask her about the changes at the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, but we were quickly sidetracked discussing everything from the Museum to Atlantis; from the Wildwood Tarot to the Occult in film. When two Gemini sit down for a conversation, the topic never stays constant.

Here is an overview and history based on that fascinating discussion.

Geraldine at work in Atlantis Bookshop Photo: The Gentle Author/Spitalfields Life spitalfieldslife.com

Geraldine at work in Atlantis Bookshop  Photo Source: The Gentle Author/Spitalfields Life

Geraldine Beskin is the longtime owner of the 92-year-old Atlantis Bookshop in London. Located in the Bloomsbury district on Museum Street two blocks from the British Museum, the shop is the oldest and most well-known occult shop in England and quite possibly the world. It was established in 1922 by occultist Michael Houghton. As Geraldine says, “it was founded by magicians for magicians.” Some of the most well-known occultists and witches have passed through its doors including Aleister Crowley, Gerald Gardner, Dion Fortune, W.B. Yeats and so many more.

Geraldine Beskin  Photo Source: The Gentle Author / Spitalfields Life

Geraldine Beskin Photo Source: The Gentle Author / Spitalfields Life

Geraldine’s own history is very much tied to Atlantis. In 1962 her own father assumed ownership of the store. As a result she grew up in and around London’s magical world; absorbing its energy and learning from the people that came and went. She recalls walking past Gerald Gardner on the shop’s stairs as he headed up to a meeting with her father and others. Although she never formally met him, she knew he was considered the “king of witches.” Today as she shares that memory, she laughs saying, “There stood one asthmatic Gemini named Geraldine looking at another asthmatic Gemini named Gerald.”

At the age of 19, she began working in the shop and then eventually took over as owner in 1972. Due to family responsibilities, she sold the shop in 1989; only to return again in 2002. When she returned to town and repurchased the store, news spread quickly that “Geraldine was back in town.”  It was as if the universe was set right again. Geraldine was back where she belonged.

Today she and her daughter Bali together own and manage Atlantis. They give us a tour in the following video taken by Jack Dark, writer of the popular essay: “A Very Brief History of British Paganism.”

After 92 years in operation, Atlantis is still a shop by magicians for magicians. The world surrounding Witchcraft and Witches is a far cry from what it was in 1922. The store has seen an immense amount of cultural change but has continued to play an important role in England’s magical culture. As Geraldine notes, people from all walks of life stop by, just as Crowley did, for a cup of tea and good conversation. In fact, it was a visit to Atlantis that inspired Shai Feraro, the Israeli academic, to pursue  his research on Paganism and Feminist Spirituality. He said:

After a visit to the British Museum, I stumbled upon an occult bookshop on Museum Street. As you probably guess by now, it was the Atlantis Bookshop … This led to my M.A. thesis on the development of the Feminist Spirituality Movement in the United States during the 1970s-1980s.

Authors John and Caitlin Matthews are two regular visitors to Atlantis.  They said:

Atlantis Bookshop is a central point for all who are seekers on the path of occult wisdom. It’s at once a resource, a drop in for Pagans and seekers of all kinds of magical arts. Geraldine is, of course, herself a fount of knowledge and wisdom, and her expertise on Esoteric arts and practices is both practical and informed. … Whenever we have time in London we call in at Atlantis for tea, a chat and a browse … Atlantis is a shining light in the jungle of London.

Today Atlantis publishes its own material under its imprint Neptune Press just as it did in 1922. They also sponsor workshops and launch books. John Matthews says:

When we were making a trailer for a TV show set partly in the 40s we filmed several scenes in the basement and courtyard of Atlantis, which doubled for wartime London. They have been consistently helpful to us, promoting our work and … drawing the attention of customers to our fledgling publishing company, Mythwood Books.

Geraldine herself offers lectures on occult topics such as “Woman of the Golden Dawn,” “Aleister Crowley: The Man behind the Mask” and “Many P. Hall: The Murdered Mystic.”

Atlantis Bookshop Photo Credit: The Good Author / Spitalfields Life

Atlantis Bookshop Photo Source: The Gentle Author/Spitalfields Life

Atlantis has become an important part of British Witchcraft history. Lurking in its walls, there is a treasure trove of stories from times past. It is an artifact in its own right and even a museum with Geraldine as its curator.

In that way it is not at all surprising that Geraldine works closely with the famous Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, Cornwall. Established by Cecil Williamson shortly after the repeal of the Witchcraft Act in 1951, the Museum was originally located on the Isle of Man.  After a few unsuccessful moves, the Museum landed in the small fishing village of Boscastle in 1960 where it has remained ever since. Like Atlantis, the Museum has survived much change including a devastating flood in 2004. The waters washed away much of the town and buried the Museum’s entire first floor in mud. Despite this devastation, “the museum lost almost nothing,” says Geraldine who calls the cottage magical.

In October of 2013, owner Graham King announced his retirement.  He bought the museum from an ailing Williamson in 1996 and has been running it successfully ever since. His successor is high-profile art director and set designer, Simon Costin. Geraldine herself remarked how thrilled she was with this appointment. She believes that Simon’s modern media savvy will be a refreshing addition to the British landmark.

However Simon Costin was brought on for more than just media awareness.  He has a unique passion for the preservation of British folklore and the Museum of Witchcraft fits that bill. Although Costin is not a witch himself, Witchcraft history “ticks his boxes,” as Geraldine described. In a 2010 interview with artCornwall.org Costin said:

I have been interested in Myths and Folk Stories for as long as I can remember … [This interest] is completely separate from my work as a practice but there is a blurring of interests. I have been involved with it for so long now that it’s hard to say where one thing stops and another starts. My early artworks were influenced by fairy stories and folk tales. Much of my work … takes me into mysterious other worlds where changes in scale have echoes of Alice in Wonderland, so I suppose there are overlaps.

In 2009 he started a traveling Museum for British Folklore.

Quite often over the years, I have tried to find a place where I could learn more about Britain’s rich folk heritage only to discover that we don’t actually have any such institution. This is strange really when we produce so much of it.

Today the award-winning Museum stands as one of the most recognizable tourists destinations in Cornwall, if not England itself. Author John Matthews has remarked, “The museum of Witchcraft is a study centre which enables serious students to get beyond the sensational (although there’s a fair bit of that too)… to the real history of Witchcraft.” In December 2013, the museum announced that it is applying for official museum accreditation and will remain in Cornwall for at least the next five years.

Photo Credit: Selbst fotografiert von JUweL under CC lic.

Photo Source: Selbst fotografiert von JUweL under CC lic.

During our conversation Geraldine couldn’t say enough positive things about the future of the Museum. She also added that the cottage “oozes charm.” It appears small from the outside but when you step inside it goes on and on like a “Harry Potter building.” Together the Atlantis Bookshop and the Museum of Witchcraft have become two respected institutions aimed at preserving what Simon Costin called “British folk heritage” and additionally the history of Witchcraft. Going forward both appear to be in very good hands.

Dancing Pan by Woody Fox Willow.  Sculpture is now on permanent display outside of the Museum of Witchcraft. (www.woodyfoxwillow.co.uk)

Dancing Pan by Woody Fox Willow. Sculpture is now on permanent display outside of the Museum of Witchcraft. (www.woodyfoxwillow.co.uk)

 

As I mentioned earlier this month, from May 19th through the 25th London will host an international collection of esoteric artists in a special exhibition“I:MAGE,” sponsored by Fulgur Esoterica (publisher of the Abraxas journal). Boasting an impressive lineup of artists, both classic and contemporary, I:MAGE promises to bring more attention to esoteric art and show how these creative individuals collectively work towards the “externalization of the mythical.” 

"Hairesis" by Francesco Parisi

“Hairesis” by Francesco Parisi

“Ranging from the work of women pioneers such as Ithell Colquhoun and Steffi Grant, to the dark symbolist themes of Agostino Arrivabene and Denis Forkas Kostromitin, to the contemporary audio-visual practices of NOKO, I:MAGE promises to be a landmark exhibition.”

In speaking with Fulgur Esoterica about the show, they offered to send me some thoughts on the exhibition from two of the participating artists, Jesse Bransford and Francesco Parisi, in addition to insights from Christina Oakley Harrington, co-Editor of Abraxas, and Director of Treadwells esoteric book store in London (which will be hosting a range of talks, presentations, and discussions during the exhibition). I have long felt that esoteric fine art deserves more attention, so it is was my pleasure to accept their kind offer and now share the resulting communications with you here.

Christina Oakley Harrington

Christina Oakley Harrington

Christina Oakley Harrington: “The art world is waking up to the inner realities of its artists, and to the fact that for many centuries, right through modernism, many artists have been profoundly influenced by esoteric ideas and have worked intimately through (and with) occult symbolism. Medieval art history includes the study of iconography and symbolic programmes, but artists of more recent centuries have received no such attention, until the past ten years.  Even the surrealists, some of whose work is profoundly occult, have had their imagery largely overlooked or treated in solely personal terms.

The trends of 20th century art-history and art criticism meant there have been 80 years of writing on art which concentrates not on the inner experience of the artist, or of their symbolic language, but rather on form and materials. This is now changing, and it is very exciting indeed.

Austin Osman Spare

Austin Osman Spare

Recent art exhibitions have highlighted this change: in Paris at the Centre Pompidou in 2009, and at the Tate in Cornwall the following year, to name but two. We can also see it in the revived interest by the art world in Austin Osman Spare, whose work defies comprehension without an appreciation of his inner, esoteric philosophy and his ideas about magic.

When my dear friend Robert Ansell and I launched Abraxas Journal, it was not only to showcase contemporary occult artists to a wider artistic market, and also to bring esoteric fine art to the attention of the pagan community. This exhibition, which Robert is putting on with his company Fulgur Fine Art, is part of this shared vision. He’s putting on the show at a gallery next door to Treadwells, and we hope people will wander between the two spaces. Fugur have the paintings, and Treadwells are holding talks, lectures and a couple filmings. Of course we’re a bookshop, so we’re open all day for book-buying too.

Robert and I both feel that making art is a magical act, a talismanic act, as much as preparing a spell. In fact, it IS the creation of a spell. A spell enchants, it brings closer non-tangible realities to the textured body of our senses. So too does a painting. It makes real here something that is real elsewhere, invisibly.  

One of the aims of I:MAGE exhibition, and of our journal Abraxas, is to make pagans realise how gifted magical people are, even in terms of high culture. Pagans are often associated with pop culture and with charming illustration of the sort one finds on fantasy paperbacks. This is great of course, but what we are keen to show is that we, creative pagans, are everywhere – Pagans for a long time have been making paintings hang in the world’s leading art galleries, that are found framed walls of stately homes, that are in the collections of fine art collectors, are autioned at Sothebys. We just haven’t realised it.

Today there are younger working artists who are pagan in sensibility, and inflused with a magical world view. Some are well-known: Mark Titchner, for example, was on the prestigious British Turner Prize shortlist for his paintings which were in fact actually charged magical sigils. Some are less well-known but are fantastic. I:MAGE will be showcasing some of the brightest of these, and displaying their art next to some very well-known magical artists’ pieces, including Spare.

Jesse Bransford, detail of The Fourth Pyramid, 2013, Dimensions variable, Tempera paint on wall and floor, panels and paper, Installation at Galveston Artist Residency.

Jesse Bransford, detail of The Fourth Pyramid, 2013, Dimensions variable, Tempera paint on wall and floor, panels and paper, Installation at Galveston Artist Residency.

Jesse Bransford: “I came to the magical traditions as a young artist. I had been working with images from the traditions and had exposure to some of the visual aspects (you can’t get an art degree without at least hearing about the golden section). I was also studying the history of science and technology. This field led me to magic as the birthplace of science. As I became more interested in the history of magic (through scholars like Frances Yates, Michael Taussig etc.) I also began reading ‘primary sources.’ This led quickly to places like Fulgur, which I knew of from afar for many years. As time went on I became more involved, and my work became more explicit in it’s reference to and use of the magical traditions I was studying. Magic as a practice and metaphor binds all of my interests in art and life together and has enabled my work to expand into previously unimagined territories.”

Detail from "Pantocrator," a woodcut by Francesco Parisi.

Detail from “Pantocrator,” a woodcut by Francesco Parisi.

Francesco Parisi: “My art tries to focus on the corporeal, the material and the more grounding aspects of experience. I have grown up in a city where transcendental religions looked down on all of that – the pleasure of engraving, the smell of wood, the focus on the image represented. We all know how it goes, the flesh is sinful and the aim is to rise high up above it. That’s why I have explored a Dionysian theme for over ten years of my life. I guess I used it as a way to break free from that moral constriction. Day after day, for ten years, this was my ritual: sweat, hands on artisan work, focusing on the moment of creation rather than hoping for the moment of salvation. My art really isn’t about going up but about staying down and enjoying every moment of it.

I:MAGE marks a very important moment for me as an artist: it represents the possibility to display my work in front of a  public who will be able to competently engage with the message I want to put across, who know what it means to pick up a bowl and offer its content to the gods.”

The opening of I:MAGE is this Sunday, the 19th, from 12-8.30pm at Store Street Gallery in London. If you are anywhere in the vicinity, you owe it to yourself to see this show. You can find out more details at the I:MAGE exhibition site. In addition, Abraxas will be publishing a special edition of its celebrated journal for the show, which is a nice added incentive considering the quality of that publication.

The act of artistic creation is a sacred thing, one that has endured and journeyed into the secular temples we now call galleries and museums. Throughout history art and ritual praxis have melded to create lasting impressions and seismic shifts in our collective culture. We understand our experience through the results of creative process, and we deny this truth at our peril. Many artists already walk a liminal path, veering between the seen and unseen, making them essential guides to the otherworld, to what we call the “esoteric.” They remind us that the mythic is happening right here, right now, not in some distant past. The striving for excellence in the fine arts is a sign of health within any culture, religious or secular, and the nurturing of art should be a key ideal for modern Pagans. This show, I:MAGE, seems to be an important step in that journey.

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

Torch lighting ceremony in Greece. (Associated Press)

Torch lighting ceremony in Greece. (Associated Press)

- The Olympic flame for the 2012 London games was lit yesterday at the Temple of Hera in Greece, though it did go out briefly during the ceremony. Luckily there was a back-up flame, and the torch started on its week-long journey around Greece. Once in Britain it will make a 70-day circuit in the lead-up to the Olympics. Despite the pageantry, some aren’t impressed, while others made snarky jokes about the flame going out. Still, it’s always nice to see echoes, reminders, that the Olympics are a pagan invention. Created to honor Zeus.

- In a historic first yesterday, Galina Krasskova, a Heathen, gave the opening prayer at a conference on women and indigeny being held at the United Nations. The first Heathen to ever do so. You can find the text of her opening ancestor prayer, here. I could be wrong, but I believe this conference was part of the larger 11th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), which I mentioned earlier. Congratulations to Galina on this achievement!

- Andrew Brown at The Guardian interviews an unnamed hip vicar who is allegedly dating a Witch, and opines on how to get the post-Christian generation back in the Anglican pews. Quote: “He said the only way was to go straight for the most improbable part of the story. If you’re teaching the virgin birth, point out at once that there were many virgin birth stories around at the time. Caesar Augustus himself was meant to have been the child of a God. So what was different about a God who chose a poor Jewish girl and not a princess for his bride? What changed if the Christian story were true and not the official one?” So, there you go? I guess?

- Congratulations to everyone’s favorite German Catholic mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, now St. Hildegard of Bingen thanks to Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church. Though, a Catholic blogger points out she was already a de facto saint for years. In any case, here’s to the “Sybil of the Rhine.”

- The Epoch Times profiles New York City Councilman, and congressional candidate, Dan Halloran. Not a single peep about his religion, in any context. Luckily, The Wild Hunt spends plenty of time on the subject.

PNC Managing Editor, Cara Schulz with Presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson

PNC Managing Editor, Cara Schulz with Presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson

- Speaking of politics, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson recently won the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president. He’s gotten quite a bit of media attention recently, with many wondering if this will be a breakout year for the Libertarians. Pagan Newswire Collective Managing Editor Cara Schulz got to spend the day with Johnson not too long ago, and Schulz followed up with the candidate to see if he regretted courting our community’s vote during a virtual “town hall” session with representatives from Pagan and Hindu media. Quote: “There was no consternation within my campaign about any of the feedback that we got on that event. No consternation.” You can read all of my coverage of Johnson, here.

- An Australian paper reports on two horse killing in England, linking them to the occult, Satanism, and the recent “super moon.” Actual solid evidence for this theory? Zero.

- Peter Berger, writing for The American Interest, defends Andrew Bowen’s Project Conversion, which I’ve mentioned a few times previously here at The Wild Hunt. What I find most interesting about the article is his refutation of “secularization theory—the notion that modernity necessarily brings about a decline in religion.” Berger notes that it “should be replaced by a theory of plurality—a situation in which many religions co-exist and interact with each other.” Sign me up as a proponent of plurality theory.

- TheoFantastique interviews Noel Montague-Etienne Rarignac, author of “The Theology of Dracula: Reading the Book of Stoker as Sacred Text.” The book aims to reread “the horror classic as a Christian text, one that alchemizes Platonism, Gnosticism, Mariology and Christian resurrection in a tale that explores the grotesque.” Sounds very interesting, especially if you’re a fan of Stoker and Dracula.

- An interfaith memorial service for Pagan author, elder, and priestess, De-Anna Alba, also known as Wendy White, will be held tomorrow, Saturday, May 12, 2012 in California at the Church of the Incarnation. De-Anna, author of “The Cauldron of Change: Myths, Mysteries and Magick of the Goddess,” was one of Circle Sanctuary‘s first priestesses and was Circle Sanctuary’s first church secretary. She assisted Selena Fox with publications, events, music, networking, and other endeavors. Selena Fox will give her eulogy and will be among the officiants at De-Anna’s interfaith memorial service this Saturday. Selena also will be among the officiants at De-Anna’s Pagan memorial service and cremains interment at Circle Cemetery in Wisconsin on July 21.

- In a final note, rest in peace Maurice Sendak. Let the wild rumpus start!

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

I’m very pleased to present a lecture by Christina Oakley Harrington, founder of Treadwell’s Bookshop in London, a former Pagan Federation Committee member, and a former university lecturer in History. The talk: “Paganism in Britain Today: Observations, Issues, Trends” takes a snapshot of Pagan thinking and theology today.

“Why are some pagans saying Paganism is not a religion? For the Pagans who identify as Witches, is there any liminality left to them? Is the Goddess an oppressive concept, if gender is not binary, as science suggests? What’s the role of mystery in an information age? Pagans in 2011 engage with these issues, consciously or unconsciously; tonight’s speaker surveys the main areas of contention and challenge within Paganism today.”

This lecture was recorded at Treadwell’s on Thursday, July 28th. You can download the audio file of the entire talk, here. I’d like to thank Dr. Harrington for sharing her knowledge and expertise with my audience. If you are ever in London, few places surpass Treadwell’s for events and lectures appealing to modern Pagans and occultists, so do look them up.

A few quick news notes to start your morning.

Pagan Japan Relief Project a Success: As of this writing, the Peter Dybing-initiated drive to raise money from within the Pagan community for Doctors Without Borders’ work in Japan has raised nearly $10,000 in three days. Here’s a message from Dybing about the drive that was posted yesterday.

“Pagans from all over the country have donated and stepped forward to endorse the project. We received donations from individuals as well as organizations. To all those who stepped forward THANK YOU. We still have been unable to generate significant numbers of small donations. It continues to be the goal of this project to engage the entire Pagan community in a unified effort. If you are concerned that you do not have the funds to donate consider just a few dollars. Each of us can only do so much in these tough economic times. What is important is participation not the donation amount.”

The Pagan Japan Relief Project is working towards a goal of $30,000, and it looks like this target may be reached sooner than anticipated. Major figures within modern Paganism like Selena Fox, Thorn Coyle, and Starhawk have already been spreading the word on Facebook, and Peter Dybing says that statements from well known Pagans about this effort will published today. This is a hugely positive cooperative effort, one that we can all take pride in. So continue to spread the word, and be sure to read about the work Doctors Without Borders is doing on the ground in Japan.

You can find all The Wild Hunt’s coverage on this issue, here.

ADDENDUM: Please see this update on the Pagan Japan Relief Project from PNC-Minnesota.

More Pagan Voices From Madison: Nels Linde at PNC-Minnesota has posted more interviews with Pagans taking part in protests against anti-union initiatives enacted by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and state Republican lawmakers.

“I’m a teacher and I’m here because I am very passionate about what is wrong with our democracy today. I am a Druid, I have been practicing for about 12 years now, with a group out of the Twin cities. It is very powerful to be here today because the energy is just so intense. There is so much pride and hope. People are coming together, it brings tears. I have already signed my petition to recall my Senator, Sheila Harsdorf, and also for Walker. I am involved in some local community protests, next in Hudson on the bridge, Sunday. I have been through all the emotions, you know, shock, anger, and despair. I’ve cried. You start with one group and target, demonize them and once they are taken out, there is another group. Most Walker supporters do not like non-Christians, so it is very, very scary.”

Nels has been doing amazing and essential work covering Pagan involvement in these protests, and I urge everyone to head over to PNC-Minnesota and catch up on his reports. Here’s his installment on Saturday’s events. More is promised on Thursday.

You can find The Wild Hunt’s previous coverage on this issue, here.

Checking In With Treadwell’s: In a final note, the Guardian interviews Christina Oakley Harrington, proprietor of the well-regarded esoteric bookstore Treadwell’s, about her shop and the unique spirit of London that makes its success possible.

“London is a place for unusual people who need to find other unusual people. Cities are where misfits always go. If you can’t manage in the village with the curtain-twitchers – if you can’t live like that because you’re gay, or you’re massively artistic, or because you have to talk to angels and demons and spirits … Where else are you going to go to find others who might be like you? You go to London. Could Treadwell’s exist anywhere outside of London? No.”

Treadwell’s recently moved to a larger space, the very building where Mary Wollestonecraft wrote Vindication of the Rights of Women. Congratulations to Christina and Treadwell’s on their continued good press!

That’s all I have time for at the moment, have a great day!

No Wiccan Altars for Halferty: A few quick notes for you this Saturday, starting with an update on the Iowa industrial arts teacher, Dale Halferty, who was temporarily suspended for prohibiting a student from building a Wiccan altar in shop class. It seems that Halferty, who was supposed to return to work on Monday, isn’t backing down from his discriminatory views concerning a student’s right to religious expression, and is now on indefinite unpaid leave.

“Guthrie Center Superintendent Steve Smith met with Industrial Arts teacher Dale Halferty Tuesday morning. At the end of the meeting, Halferty remained on unpaid leave from the high school for an indefinite period. Superintendent Smith told the Times that all parties are attempting to resolve the conflict. Asked for specifics, Smith declined to comment. Smith did say the resolution process is ongoing and that no specific time has been set for the next meeting between Halferty and himself.”

It looks like both parties are waiting to see who’ll blink first in this “resolution process”. Kudos to Guthrie Center Superintendent Steve Smith for not backing down in protecting the Wiccan student’s constitutional rights. In the meantime, one hopes the Wiccan student isn’t being bullied and harassed by the young mob of 70 students who signed a petition stating they didn’t want witchcraft at their school. This issue is already generating interest among far-right Christians, so it’s only a matter of time now before Halferty is proclaimed a victim of religious “persecution” for misunderstanding and misapplying the notion of separation of Church and State.

Halloran The Pagan Tea Partier: Ben Smith at Politico has taken notice of Tea Party support for New York City Councilman Dan Halloran, noting that he is one of the movement’s first electoral success stories.

“…on the theme of the Tea Parties and the Christian Right, that one notable success of the new conservative grassroots came in New York, where a prominent figure in local Tea Party circles was elected as a rare Republican on the New York City Council. The Councilman, Dan Halloran, is also a pagan king, something that doesn’t seem to have bothered the local Republican Party, his conservative supporters, or voters.”

This issue of whether the Tea Party is or isn’t being co-opted by the Christian right’s social agenda is currently being debated within the media, with no clear unified narrative emerging yet. What is clear is that many moderate-to-conservative Pagans are interested in the Tea Party, and have found a place there. For ongoing coverage, be sure to check out Cara Schulz at Pagan+Politics for insider reporting on the movement.

London’s Oldest Occult Bookstore Saved: It looks like Watkins Books in Cecil Court, a shop that can brag it had Aleister Crowley and W.B. Yeats as customers, recently in danger of being liquidated, has been saved from permanent closure by an American investor.

American entrepreneur, Etan Ilfeld is purchasing the business in its entirety for an undisclosed sum.  Ilfeld … is keen to preserve Cecil Court’s heritage. Ilfeld said: “It’s not everyday that you have the opportunity to save a century old business. I don’t believe that spirituality in London is dead and will do my best to ensure that Watkins Books will be sustainable and survive the 21st century.”

A bit of good news for the metaphysical book trade, which could use some good news as the economy continues to be uncertain, and with high profile stores, like the Bodhi Tree in Los Angeles, and Shaman Drum in Michigan, closing their doors.

That’s all I have for now, but before I go, I’d just like to note that Pagan scholar Chas Clifton’s blog, Letter From Hardscrabble Creek, has moved to a new address. You can now find the blog at:

http://blog.chasclifton.com/

So please update your links and RSS subscriptions!

Have a great day!