Archives For Michael York

UNITED KINGDOM –In the United Kingdom, “God Save the Queen” (or king, depending upon the current monarch) has been considered the national anthem since the early 19th century. It is used for the combined kingdom by custom only and for England alone when referred to during athletic competitions and the like. The other three portions of the United Kingdom — Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland — already sport their own anthems.

[PHoto Credit: Maurice / Flickr]

[Photo Credit: Maurice / Flickr]

Recently, members of Parliament have agreed to consider replacing the song as the anthem for England alone. Under the new proposal, “God Save the Queen” would continue to be used when the four act as one body, such as during the Olympic games. The Wild Hunt asked some English Pagans what they think of the current debate, and what they might like to see “God Save the Queen” replaced with, if anything.

In supporting the idea, Labour minister Toby Perkins said it would “re-establish the idea that the United Kingdom is a union of four separate nations with their own identities,” and that he personally favors “Jerusalem,” with words written by William Blake. Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg fears it will lead to “individual nationalism” within the United Kingdom, and told reporters:

What greater pleasure can there be for a true-born Englishman or true-born Englishwoman than to listen to our own national anthem —a national anthem for our whole country, our whole United Kingdom.

Readers in the United States may be familiar with periodic attempts to remove “under God” from the pledge of allegiance, or “in God we trust” from the currency; these movements — sometimes supported by Pagans — are often led by atheists and have typically resulted in court decisions supporting “secular deism.” In the United Kingdom, while some of the Pagans commented on the use of the word “god” from a monotheistic perspective, others were more focused on the fact that the song is royalist in character.

“This kind of thing comes up on a regular basis,” said scholar Michael York. “As a royalist, I would be opposed. And I agree with Rees-Mogg that it would splinter British unity even further. I would not expect Perkins proposal to have the majority of the English behind it. They tend to favour the maintenance of tradition.”

While York was born in the United States and now resides in England, Anton Stewart has made the opposite journey. Stewart is High Priest of the Church of the Eternal Circle, and he largely agreed with York’s assessment, saying:

Not the first time this issue has raised its head. Unlikely that there will be any change. Sure the bill can be proposed, but I wouldn’t rate its chances through the House of Commons, let alone the House of Lords. As long as the United Kingdom remains a united kingdom, then the UK’s national anthem is not likely to be usurped. There are lots of other patriotic, quasi-anthems that are used at various sporting events and rallies where the individual ‘nations’ that make up the UK are participating in their own right… Men of Harlech is actually the Welsh National Anthem and Scotland The Brave is far more commonly used than Flower of Scotland.

Jo Hollingsworth, one of several English Pagans asked their views on Facebook, is of a different mind than York, saying, “The national anthem should not be about a single person. It should be something that people are proud to join in with. I think the current anthem is irrelevant and depressing. It has no meaning to most people these days. As someone who would be very happy to see the end of our monarchy I will not sing this song. Ever. But that doesn’t mean I’m not proud to be British or English or indeed both.”

Sarah Kay of the Nottingham Pagan Network canvassed those in her group to find out their opinions. She reported that in general, members feel that the anthem “is relatively inoffensive unless you have especially strong political feelings about the monarchy. Certainly ‘God’ is only mentioned in passing and even then only in his capacity to strengthen and fortify the Queen so that her reign may be stronger and longer.”

For her part, Helen Clipson also thought this sounded very familiar. “This comes round at least once a year, usually at the time the rugby is on telly and people realise that the England Rugby team sing Jerusalem.”

While most interviewees focused on the royalist implications of “God Save the Queen,” some were troubled by the Christian sensibilities of “Jerusalem.” Kay said:

The Pagans we canvassed were more concerned about the suggestion of replacing ‘God Save The Queen’ with ‘Jerusalem’ by William Blake where the Christian religious overtone is far more overt and in fact carries the implication that should Jesus have actually visited England it would be cause for celebration that Christianity should gain supremacy over the nation, presumably by the use of might and power. The pagan view seems that it was England’s own pagan heritage that was once already usurped by such heavy handed Christianity and countless pagans have suffered under that yoke for centuries since. Although some of the pagans we asked did prefer ‘Jerusalem’ to the current national anthem but with changes to the wording make it less Christian.

Straddling the royalists and monotheist concerns were views like those expressed by Jackie Palman, who wrote on Facebook, “I would prefer a national anthem that was about our country rather than about our monarchy. I wouldn’t like Jerusalem as it feels to Christian to me. I used to think Land of Hope & Glory would be a good national anthem, but some of the lyrics are rather colonialist. I can’t think of an existing song which I think would fit the bill but I would like it to be something that doesn’t exclude people of different religions or none, or people who think we should be a republic.”

Megan Mills, however, likes “Jerusalem,” albeit ironically: “I wouldn’t mind ‘Jerusalem’ as our English national anthem. I like William Blake, the tune is good, and it brings back fond memories of singing it in school and making sure we roared ‘chariot of FIRE’ as loud as possible and did our best scary black metal voice for ‘SATANIC mills!'”

The question got Joanna van der Hoeven of the UK Druid College to thinking. “As a landed immigrant to the UK, I find this an interesting question. When I first came across the lyrics, I saw how terribly outdated they were: they were about saving a different Queen long dead, and helping Marshal Wade to destroy the Scots. What relevance does that have today? An anthem that has relevance to today, and without reference to crushing rebellious Scottish folk, might be a nice change. It’s odd though, that such a secular country albeit with a strong religious past still holds onto its outdated anthem. If they truly want to separate religion and state, then this needs to be addressed.”

While many of those who weighed in believe it’s not at all likely that this will get any traction in the houses of Parliament, it didn’t stop them from suggesting alternatives. In addition to those who think “Jerusalem” might work, there were also suggestions like “Land of Hope and Glory,” and many that ranged further afield. Some that stand out: changing the words of the current to be “Goddess Save the Queen,” the Sex Pistols version of “Freedom Come All Ye,” “Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen. Then there was this observation by Hywel James: “Whatever the lyrics,” he said, “I want it to the tune of ‘Nelly the Elephant.'”

[Terence P Ward is one of our talented weekly writers. He brings you the news and issues that most affect the Pagan and Heathen worlds. If you like his work and that of our other weekly reporters, help us by donating to our fall fund drive. Bringing you news and stories is what we love to do. Your continued support makes it possible for us to continue. Thank you very much.]

pagan ethics coverLONDON, ENGLAND — After ten years of work, scholar Michael York has released his book Pagan Ethics, the second of three books in the series Paganism as a World Religion. The volume was preceded by Pagan Theology and will be followed by Pagan Mysticism. York’s work seeks to distill from Pagan religions those common elements that tie these disparate faiths together.

The Bath Spa University professor, sociologist, and Cherry Hill Seminary instructor told The Wild Hunt that this new book discusses what he feels are these common elements and then ties the principles into a variety of hot-button topics as illustrations. It’s a book about Pagan ethics, but with it York would like to “engage in an ethical conversation with everyone,” because he feels that “Paganism has a huge role to play” in that ongoing dialog.

“Paganism ranks like Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism,” York said. “[They all have] a broad religious perspective. What would be the ethical context that goes along with that? Is ethics even integral to any spirituality? Ethics impacts our relationship with the gods. This is trying to look at what a Pagan perspective would be on ethical positions.”

York argues that, in order to find those common ethical elements, one almost has to “strip away the spiritual aspect” of Pagan religions, including the rituals, specific deities and practices unique to those traditions, and regard them from the perspective of a Humanist or Atheist perspective.

“I think Paganism encompasses that position,” he said, noting that a number of his fellow scholars would likely consider themselves Atheist, or at least secular Pantheist. He said, “If you can approach it on that basis, then one’s spirituality follows, rather than precedes” one’s ethics.

What the book presents is a Pagan ethical framework divided into seven of what York calls “virtue-values.” Very much in the spirit of Western philosophy, these virtue-values “interchange, overlap, and are fluid, but all can be reduced to them.” The first of these if freedom, specifically “freedom from coercion and to do what one wants.” The second, comfort, which York understands to be controversial. However that doesn’t make it any less important to recognize. “Human beings desire comfort,” he said. “We have to take that on board when negotiating relations with others,” including people, non-human beings, non-corporeal beings, and the world itself.

Then, he describes health broadly as the virtue-value of completeness, or the idea of being complete. Next is worship — although York says “honor” could also fit. He defines this as the “formal pursuit of beauty and ritual/art.” The reason for blending the two, he said, is that ritual and art can be seen as cognates. “Putting something together properly and completely makes them more than a mere sum of their parts,” he explained. “A painting is not just canvas and paint; it goes beyond the physical components. It’s the same with a ritual: if it actually functions, it achieves a wider end” than simply performing each of the steps in succession.

The fifth, sixth, and seventh ethical principles, namely pleasure, productivity, and generosity, have enough interplay that York found it easier to explain each of them in relation to the others. As with comfort, he said “It’s important to recognize that pleasure is important and not be ashamed of that. It can be accepted as part of the gift of life, and we honor godhead by accepting the gifts of life.” Pleasure for its own sake is lacking, however, which is why he went on to say, “It’s not enough in itself. We have to somehow contribute; we have to produce something even if it’s only a tomato plant. Our contributions to the world are not all going to be Homer and Shakespeare as long as it’s something.” He also noted, “Many of us produce only our children,” which in his estimation fits the bill. Generosity proceeds from productivity as productivity might been seen as proceeding from pleasure and is the recognition that sharing what we create with others increases its value to ourselves and the world.

Michael York

Michael York [Courtesy Photo]

Other issues that York explores in the context of these virtue-values including a most-wanted list of flame-war causes such as same-sex marriage, intoxicants, birth control, and the environment. The book seeks to answer the question: “How would a Pagan in pursuit of these virtue-values address these issues? He said, “Freedom always comes in there.” However the others are also evident. “Is it a healthy pursuit? Does it complete the person? Is it out of sync with the natural flow? Is it honoring or respecting other people? What one does is ask, ‘who am I hurting or reducing in the process? Can we pursue this without being detrimental to someone else?'”

A succinct way of answering these questions, he suggested, is by understanding the golden rule – a version of which he says exists in all religions. “It was derived from Christianity, but they inherited it from Greco-Roman society. I look at ancient classical schools” to understand the roots of the concept, with a preference for his favorites, including Plato. Building upon those philosophical roots, York said he also counts Spinoza and Nietzsche among his influences. “Neither are Pagan,” he acknowledged, but “they contribute to a Pagan perspective, as well as the overall ethical conversation.”

York said that it took a lot of time to trace that world conversation and to understand the Pagan contribution and position within it.  He added that it was more of a challenge to get this second book published than one might expect. New York University Press, the publisher of Pagan Theology, felt that the second volume was less about religion than it was about philosophy, and so declined to pick it up. Pagan Ethics is published by Springer, which has brought its own challenges. The book is hefty at 400 pages, but its price tag — $249.00 hardcover, $189.00 for the ebook — is heftier still. York said that he was surprised by that number. “I found out what they were charging when it came out,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

York remains hopeful that the paperback will be more affordable. For those interested, individuals chapters are available for sale for a lower price. However, York is also encouraging people to ask their local libraries to stock the book. “The more they ask; the more they will consider it,” he said. In this way, a reader can enjoy the completeness of the book within the comfort of home, deriving pleasure not only because the book is more than the sum of its chapters, but also because the finished product was shared generously through the use of a library card.

30th-anniversary-mfapg-014In late August, the Mount Franklin Pagan Gathering (MFPG) ran into a hurdle after being handed a number of new requirements from Parks Victoria. MFPG is one of the oldest and longest running ‘free to attend’ Pagan gatherings in Australia with its first event held in 1981. Named after an extinct volcano, MPFG is always scheduled for late October.

However, the organizers recently announced that they had been “informed of the changes in administration surrounding Parks Victoria …These changes impose upon us limitations and requests for documentation that are nothing less than astonishing in number and in time frame. Last year, the Gathering paid for two years’ worth of permits in full, however the requirements have now been changed significantly.” They go on to explain that Parks Victoria now requires a nine page detailed application, other fees, forms, and consultations.

The MFPG organizers’ biggest concern was in the timing of it all. Would they be able to finish the work needed to meet these new requirements in time to host this year’s festival? As they said, “The MFPG is non profit, and is organised by a very small, close-knit group of volunteers with families and full time jobs. It is a free Gathering, relying on volunteer labour

However, they have remained upbeat and now say that the gathering happen despite this hurdle. On its Facebook page, organizers wrote, “[An] an incredible amount of bureaucratic red tape is being worked with. It is challenging for all parties as it is all new, but we have every confidence we will have our 34th Gathering as usual.” The Mount Franklin Pagan Gathering is scheduled for October 23-25. Registration is currently open and admission is free.

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witch school 2

Witch School International has announced that it is closing its doors on September 30. Its sites will be handed over to the “not for profit Correllian Educational Ministries, as part of the Correllian Tradition.” These websites include Witch School, Magick TV and the Pagans Tonight Radio Network.

Rev. Don Lewis, Chancellor of the Correllian Nativist Tradition, said that the transition “will not change the focus of Witch School, which has always been open to many points of view. However as an official part of the Tradition, Witch School will be able to work more directly with Temples and groups in its clergy training programs, and as a not for profit Witch School will be able to focus totally on the needs of the student.”

Ed Hubbard, retiring Chairman of Witch School, said, “Under the Religious education banner, this will be able to continue to grow and expand, seeking out ways to provide a quality education for a lifetime.” The transition is expected to go smoothly with little interruption or problems for current members. Both Lewis and Hubbard said that more information would be provided over the coming month.

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It is that time of the year again. The 2016 GBG Calendar is available. Since 2011, the GBG calendar project has produced a full color product that includes an array of facts, photographs, quotes and other material from Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente and others. The calendar itself also highlights “hundreds of Pagan feast days from around the world.”

As noted on the website, “For each calendar sold, a small donation will be made to two organizations that help preserve Craft history. Special thanks to the Doreen Valiente Foundation and the Museum of Witchcraft in England.”

The 2016 edition is dedicated to Gerald’s wife Donna Gardner, who was not involved in the Craft herself but was instrumental in supporting her husband’s work. Additionally, this year’s calendar comes with a 160 coupons from online merchants who have supported the 2016 GBG project. The calendar is currently available by mail order through its website.

In Other News:

  • The Morning Glory Zell Memorial Foundation is continuing its quest to open a school, store and museum in Northern California. It is currently “negotiating to lease a storefront in downtown Santa Cruz, to be called The Academy of Arcana.” Oberon Zell-Ravenheart said that he expects the Academy to be self-sustaining but the start-up expenses are considerable. The Foundation is continuing its funding campaign, and Oberon has just made a personal appeal to the community for assistance with these early costs. All donations can be made through the Foundation’s website. 
  • Private memorial services for Deborah Ann Light have been held in a number of locations. Quail Hill Farm, in New York, will be hosting a public memorial service on Sept. 19. Quail Hill Farm is located on the property owned by Light herself, and then gifted to a local land trust. Quail Hill was a place that held personal importance for Light and was, at one time, her home. The service will begin at 4 p.m.
  • Virgo Ministry has announced that Tim Titus will be taking over as Leader of the Temple Healing Case Study Group. The Healing Group holds events and maintains a list of people and animals in need of healing. The group is connected with the New Hampshire-based Temple of Witchcraft. In its announcement the Ministry said, “[Titus] brings to the group his experience as a healer and teacher and the skills he has been developing in his studies in the Mystery School.” Congratulations Tim Titus!
  • 9783319189222Springer International Publishing has just released a book called Pagan Ethics written by Michael York. According to the publisher, “This book is the first comprehensive examination of the ethical parameters of paganism when considered as a world religion alongside Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism … The book is aimed at both the contemporary Western pagan and anyone with an interest in the moral dilemmas of our times and the desire to engage in the global ethical discussion.” Pagan Ethics is available through Springer in hard cover or eBook. Currently, you can also purchase individual chapters or download a sample.
  • The submission deadline for the third issue of Walking the Worlds is fast approaching. As noted on the site, “Walking the Worlds is devoted to an exploration of spiritwork and polytheism from a variety of traditions, ancient and modern.” As a “serious, rigorous journal,” each issue has dedicated theme that the editorsencourage contributors to keep … in mind when submitting.” This third issue’s theme is “Magic and Religion.” The deadline is Oct. 1. All details and submission guidelines are listed on the journal’s website.
  • And now for something a little different. Laboratorium Pieśni is an all-female vocal group from Poland. They focus specifically on traditional, polyphonic singing. The group performs music predominantly from the Ukraine, Balkans, Poland, Belarus, Georgia, and Scandinavia. As explained on the Laboratorium Pieśni site, “They sing a capella as well as with shaman drums and other ethnic instruments (shruti box, kalimba, flute, gong, zaphir and koshi chimes, singing bowls, rattles etc.), creating a new space in a traditional song, adding voice improvisations, inspired by sounds of nature, often intuitive, wild and feminine.” Below is their latest video “Sztoj pa moru”

That’s it for now. Have a nice day!

When Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon hit bookstores in 1999 something changed in British Pagan culture. It was immediate. Someone known to be friendly and spiritually sympathetic had put us on the academic map, and shown Pagans we have a rightful place in Britain’s cultural history. The book was eloquent and magisterial, linking Pagan ideas to literature, social justice, liberalism and the broad cultural avenue of western esotericism. The book drew young Pagans who were intellectually gifted to want to study Pagan-related subjects at universities for Masters and doctorate degrees.

Exeter University Lopes Hall [Photo Credit: Smalljim via Wikimedia]

Exeter University Lopes Hall [Photo Credit: Smalljim via Wikimedia]

And so a trend began here in the UK. Through the noughties, the Exeter University MA and PhD programmes in Western Esotericism were a key centre. Headed by Professor Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke and quietly under-written by the Theosophical Society, these programmes turned out over thirty scholars, many of whom are still working and publishing in the field. Bath Spa University ran a MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, whose first professor was religious studies scholar Michael York. Other smaller programmes were dotted round the country. It seemed it was all going to carry on growing, particularly when the University of Amsterdam graduate programme headed by the luminary Wouter Hanegraff hired several British lecturers.

Now there’s a quiet crisis going on. The Exeter programme closed down with the death of Goodrick-Clarke in 2012, and there has been no replacement programme of its calibre for those taking an historical approach. I spoke to several scholars who asked for anonymity on where they saw the future of the Pagan and esoteric scholarship in the UK. These insider sources report that senior academics, who care deeply about Western esotericism including its pagan heritage, have held private meetings with more than one institution to find a home for a programme to replace Exeter. So far nothing has come to fruit.

It is no secret that there are plenty of first-tier scholars of international standing who could (and would) teach on such a programme. It is also apparent to everyone that the students are there. In fact, there is something of a tidal wave, particularly art history and intellectual history. Esotericism conferences hosted by Cambridge graduate students Daniel Zamani and Imma Ramos in 2012 (Charming Intentions) and 2014 (Visions of Enchantment) were oversubscribed in excess of five times what they expected. Both had submissions from senior scholars around the world seeking to participate.

London is an obvious place to situate a scholarly hub, because it is the most accessible common point in Britain  – all roads and trains lead to London. It is also handy for European centres of esoteric academic study like Amsterdam, Paris, Goteburg and Turin. Among my sources, the name of The Warburg Institute keeps coming up as the dream site. It is a place that is dear to the hearts of many who have never even been permitted inside its walls.

The Warburg is a research institute and library founded in 1944 by Aby Warburg, a Jewish scholar of intellectual esotericism. Based within the University of London, it was headed by Frances Yates, a scholar of occultism, for decades in the mid 20th century. She argued that ‘the occult’ was culturally significant in the Renaissance period. Subsequent leaders, however, distanced the place from the esoteric tradition, often using condemnation and even ridicule. But even so, it is still loved by British Pagans of an intellectual bent.

The Warburg Institute [Stephen McKay  via Wikimedia Commons]

The Warburg Institute [Stephen McKay via Wikimedia Commons]

The Warburg is home to world-class scholars of the artistic and intellectual traditions of the West, and it boasts the largest occult-intellectual library in the world. And between the lines, articles and books of esoteric scholarship have been produced there, including the key edition of the grimoire Picatrix, it is clear to observers that it is now a time of tremendous opportunity. Recently the Warburg has faced financial difficulties. Last year, it had to fight a hard battle for its independent existence. It also has a new director who can bring new vision and direction. There are good students who would pay the fees gladly. Those I spoke with are watching and waiting to see if the Warburg will see the gains to be made in re-embracing its esoteric heritage.

Of course all does not hang upon this, as other centres are holding strong. A history of astrology and astronomy Masters degree is offered at the University of Wales, and an MA in Cosmology of the Sacred is now at Kent. There are also individual scholars who are working solitary in departments of all disciplines from history to literature to anthropology. Within the British graduate school system, a student studies under a single professor and researches independently without attending courses. Therefore, a student simply needs to find a sympathetic professor with a compatible interest, and then work under their direction. Ronald Hutton supervises in this way, for example, in Bristol’s History department. Young scholars in this system can develop, even without ‘esoteric’ or ‘pagan’ programmes. But a university-based centre would make a difference for the academics of all ages and levels, as well as grad students. Centres are both a statement and a forum.

Intellectual Pagans in Britain are watching the situation closely. They have a sense that the time is so ripe that something has to happen soon. Since Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon, those who have an academic bent and have Pagan affinities have started taking their place, slowly but surely, in the world of letters, and it feels like the next chapter is about to unfold – everyone is curious about where, and when.

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

Wendy Griffin

Wendy Griffin

“To me, whether or not to have professional ministry is the wrong question. We have one even if we don’t call it that. The real question is do we want an educated ministry? Do we want Pagans who will serve in these ministerial situations who have been trained in things like ethics and boundaries, family dynamics, substance abuse, social justice issues, interfaith dealings, counseling techniques – all from a Pagan perspective? As Paganism continues to grow and more Pagans feel safe to practice their religion openly, I don’t think we can afford not to have a professional priesthood, and by that, I mean men and women who have been systematically educated to minister to Pagans in need. I believe we owe that to ourselves and to our gods.” – Wendy Griffin, Academic Dean at Cherry Hill Seminary, on the subject of a professional priesthood within modern Paganism.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“When I say I am not a believer, it doesn’t mean I believe nothing. It is that belief is not central to my religious and spiritual life. As a matter of fact, belief holds little importance to me at all. Belief doesn’t structure my experience; my experience structures what few beliefs I might have. My spiritual life consists of praxis first, theoria second. Any theories I hold are simply there to explain — or give context to — experience. Sometimes gnosis enters on a flash of synaptic lighting, but the pathway is usually opened by practice first. The times when this process is reversed, it is still practice that shows me whether or not the flash of insight was an aberration. Like the scientific jolt that happens in the bathtub or while stepping on a city bus: after the big event, we return to the processes that test and compare.” – T. Thorn Coyle, at the Huffington Post, explaining why she isn’t a believer.

Michael York

Michael York

“At the Pagan Federation Conference in London yesterday, we got to see *The Spirit of Albion* and loved it. The dialogue may present a bit to be desired for, and Richard considered the film to be an English pagan *Umbrellas of Cherbourg*, but the viewer is drawn in all the same. The film is an astounding collaboration of volunteers and a low-budget enterprise, but it presents ‘what is always there’ beneath and behind the ‘illusion of modernity’. A wonderful work for explaining paganism to the wider community. Patrick and Barbara, it has already been used most helpfully in prison work and with prison authorities. All the music has been composed by Damh the Bard, and the movement between the worlds is fascinating. I strongly recommend Gary Andrews production.” – Michael York, author of “Pagan Theology: Paganism As A World Religion,” on the Pagan film “The Spirit of Albion.”

Hope M.

Hope M.

“It is only when I fully accept what I am powerless over that I can take my rightful place of power in the center of the pentacle and access the powers of spirit, earth, air, fire and water. At that moment, I finally understand myself in right perspective to the things that are around me. A witch cannot shape reality until she understands it. Admitting that there are things in the world, in nature, that she is powerless over is acknowledging that she is part of the tremendous web of life in which all things are connected. Humans, no matter how impressive our cognition, cannot set ourselves above or apart from the forces of nature. We are all bound by the laws of physics. We are all touched by death. To admit we are powerless over things is to claim our birthright as people of this Earth. It is to lay our heart out open and say “Yes, I am vulnerable. See how strong my heart beats” And yet, In their efforts to rewrite the Twelve steps for a more Pagan-friendly model, many authors have written the concept of powerless out of the first step.” – Hope M. of the 12 Step Witch blog writing about the importance of understanding powerlessness at PaganSquare.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“The liberal religions (which include virtually all forms of Paganism) are not proselytizing religions – we have no desire to convert the whole world to our ways. But there are plenty of folks who need what we have. They feel the call of the old gods and goddesses. They feel the call of Nature and the spirits of Nature. They feel the call of magic, of the alchemy that refines not base metals but human souls. Do we welcome them? Do we have a place for them? Do we help them find their way to Druidry or Heathenry or Humanistic Paganism or whatever flavor they’re best suited for? Or do we close ourselves off in our box pews and let them fend for themselves?” – John Beckett, discussing box pews, both physical and metaphorical, at the Patheos Pagan Portal.

Thom Swanson

Thom Swanson

“Our original (pieces are) heavily Pagan oriented.  Because a lot of them – at least, mine – have come from either when I’m invoked, or through trances, or at drum circles . . . they just pop in.  To help bridge that gap, we throw in some traditional Irish songs, as well as traditional English ones.  And that sort of helps at our concerts  . . . it makes sort of welcome listening for everyone.  That’s the way I see it should be.  Whether it’s Pagan music or mainstream music, it should be able to appeal to the masses.  Because that’s what music is: a voice, and an entity that wants to be heard, that needs to be heard, and especially with today’s society, the music needs to be heard by as many people as possible.” -Thom Swanson, of the Celtic folk-rock band Raven’s Call, in an interview with Diane Morrison at PaganSquare.

Fire Lyte

Fire Lyte

“I believe modern Pagan thinking, Wiccan-influenced Paganism especially, could take a tip from the evolution of the Muses in Classical Greek mythology. There are nine classical muses that represent all sorts of areas of interest, ranging from science to literature to music and theatre. We could, and should, recognize that people walk all sorts of different paths, and that our instinct is to relate to gods that resemble those paths. As was said before, we like gods that look like us, but the flip-side is that we find it hard to relate to – at least when it comes to worship and having a personal relationship with – gods and goddesses that look nothing like us, whose domain of influence is alien to our personal worldview. Anthropotheism says that we made the gods look and act like us, but the confusion here is that we think that’s where it stopped. That we created archetypes and deities and gave them names and faces and associations and carved it in stone somewhere and said THIS IS HOW THINGS ARE AND HAVE TO BE. Good news! You can continue to evolve your concept of the divine just as much as the divine continues to help you grow and change. We work together, us and the divine, because we are part of it, of them. As above, so below, right? If you need the Goddess to wear different mantels, then so be it.” – Fire Lyte, of Inciting A Riot fame, discusses the triple goddess at The Witches’ Voice.

Cherry Hill Seminary's Holli Emore

Holli Emore
Executive Director, Cherry Hill Seminary

“Wild Garden will explore and report on Pagans in the growing – yes, like a garden – interfaith landscape. I’ll be posting, as well as hosting a number of other Pagan bloggers who are out there somewhere in the blackberry patch. Wild Garden will place a particular emphasis on the local and regional grassroots movements happening around the country. By sharing our experiences, we hope to inspire readers to put on a sunhat, grab some gloves and come on out into the sunshine. Some of you have read my past accounts on Palimpsest, about months of my religion being listed as “Other,” about the minister who made an apology to me and all Pagans the subject of his Sunday sermon, about my role on the board of directors of Interfaith Partners of South Carolina. I’ll continue to share those stories here at Wild Garden, along with my observations and the personal lessons I learn. Maybe you have a story to tell? We at Wild Garden will be all ears to your comments here at the blog. We want to hear what you are doing, what has worked for you, scared you off, intrigued you and inspired you.” – Holli Emore, introducing the new group Pagan interfaith blog “Wild Garden,” at the Patheos Pagan Portal.

Alan Moore

Alan Moore

“I think that the current interest in occult and magical activities among musicians and artists is kind of to be welcomed, and in some ways perhaps predictable and inevitable. I think that our culture has gone about as far as it can in having no content or meaning to its art, and I think that an attempt to invest meaning in our culture and in our art by imbuing it with a sensibility of magic is probably necessary, and, like I said, probably inevitable, and certainly long overdue. I salute it considerably.” – Alan Moore, writer and magician, in an interview with The Believer magazine.


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

[The following is a guest opinion piece from Michael York, author of “Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion.” Michael York’s interests are in polytheism, pantheism, animism and shamanism. He taught in the Study of Religions department of Bath Spa University in England and ended up as Professor of Cultural Astronomy and Astrology before retirement. He sees paganism as a missing piece of the religion jigsaw puzzle and believes it to be central in today’s recognition of the ecological peril the planet is facing as well as a viable solution to the disenchantment seen by Max Weber as a fundamental problem for bureaucratic society.]

The recent abandonment by Peter Dybing of all titles and roles within the Pagan community to pursue ‘dirt worship’ and to focus more directly on his partner Rebekah possibly portends what I am increasingly fearing, namely, end times. The eco-system of our planet is dying. As Phoebe Wray puts it, our planet “will survive. We won’t.” If we honestly assess the planetary human community, we know that it is deeply and even dishonestly fractured. This rupturing situation extends to the Pagan community as well and to the point that our “backstabbing” appears to be much of the reason why Peter is quitting and seeking a “return to anonymity.” As he recognises, it is a disease that can infect us all.

Michael York

Michael York

On the wider level, half of humanity identifies with and/or practices an Abrahamic faith that is essentially a religion of division – an orientation that reduces the human event to an ‘us and them’ scenario. Whether Judaism, Christianity or Islam, the very nature of the religious conviction is schismatic so that each of these three world religions fight between themselves and even within themselves. They are also, potentially at least, at war with the other half of the human population. Two possible Abrahamic exceptions might be seen in Baha’i and Sikhism, but even with this last the Five K’s of its adherents concretely re-create an ‘us and them’ identity division.

Thanks to both desperation and greed, the divisiveness of Abrahamic exclusivism is to be found among the rest of us as well, whether secular, dharmic or pagan. Our human community has reached seven billion, and while within that figure there may be some coalescing into nests and concordant groups or communities, there is still an irreducibly huge number of self-ish desires, demands and uncompromising thought. And now with the sham of democracy, the imminent melt-down of our economic systems, governmental deceit, depletion of resources, global pollution and disregard of others on every level – from drunken mindlessness at 4 AM as inebriants vociferously blast through sleeping residential communities to collateral damage through drone bombings, armed aggression and suicide bombing – we have reached our end times; all of us.

Being upon the brink of catastrophe, it is no wonder that someone like Peter has chosen to focus more exclusively on his beloved and the ‘dirt’ immediacy of what is local and still left to appreciate and even, however doomed, to work with and for. As our earth if not the planet dies, we Pagans in particular die with it. She is our centre and comprises the core of our spirituality of engagement regardless of its individual forms. But it is to our shame that we fight among ourselves, drench ourselves in petty jealousies and reflect our worldwide human comrades more than the mother’s sanctity itself. We are disappointingly unimaginative as a communal voice despite some exemplary individuals among us.

Drowning as we are in a sea of mediocrity and banal ridiculousness, this last is not surprising. I would wish that I am wrong in this, but Peter’s decision is one that makes perfect sense in the face of hopelessness. In the dirt, some of us can still dream and envision perhaps the magic that we ourselves, as both a Pagan community and a human community, have failed. In the time we have left, perhaps the best we can do now is individually, locally and trans-politically seek to separate our dirt from the more ubiquitous filth of collective insanity. What exactly we have lost perhaps cannot be named, but our human terrestrial quest should be so obvious that it should be our silently spoken but absolutely insistent and universal demand. How sad for the earth, how sad for us and how sad for our children that it is not.

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

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

Pagans and Prop. 8

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 6, 2010 — 9 Comments

On Wednesday, California District Court judge Vaughn R. Walker issued a ruling that overturned California’s Proposition 8, which prohibited same-sex marriages within the state. Reaction from across the political and religious spectrum was swift, and many are seeing this as just a first step in a battle that’s heading straight for the United States Supreme Court. Modern Pagan faiths, many of which acknowledge and solemnize same-sex marriage rites, have been on the front lines of these battles. Indeed, while mainstream coverage over same-sex marriage has largely focused on various Christian attitudes, Pagan clergy from a number of different faiths and traditions have been performing same-sex rites across the United States, and in the case of Kathryn and Jeani Kyair, were themselves legally married in California before Prop. 8 won passage in 2008.

“We were hand-fasted on September 3, 2005.  Then we were “Domestic Partnered” on February 6, 2006.  Then we were legally married on July 4, 2008 (so the fireworks would always be for US!). When marriage became legal in California, Jeani and I were the 2nd couple issued a Marriage License in the County of Solano, just behind a gay couple who were getting married that day!”

Kathryn Kyair, a Gythja in the Asatru faith, who co-owns the The Red Raven Metaphysical Books and Supplies in Vallejo, CA with her wife Jeani, a Crone Hedge Witch, says that she was spurred into political action on the issue when the same-sex marriages authorized by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom were annulled by the California Supreme Court in 2004. While the Kyairs applaud the recent court decision, the experience of having their rights and legal status constantly called into question has been an emotional roller-coaster.

“Personally, we believe that Civil Unions, as the legal definition, for everyone in the U.S. is the best solution, while allowing for any couple, straight or gay, to seek spiritual clergy that best fits their beliefs, if they so choose. But, this society places “marriage” as a fundamental right.  We were all born with this right as U.S. citizens, only to have it taken from some of us when we come out of the proverbial closet.  This IS discrimination.  And discrimination is against the Constitution which protects us all!  The Constitution was created to protect everyone’s inalienable rights, especially from a majority.  This country allowed us to be born with these rights, then took some away, then gave them back, then took them away again, and now have given them back, sort of.  This is illegal.  Period.”

Within modern Pagan communities same-sex marriage is almost wholly uncontroversial. Shortly after Walker’s ruling was handed down, several Pagan organizations and noted figures within the movement reaffirmed their commitment to same-sex marriages and praised the decision. Druid group Ar nDriaocht Fein (ADF) said in a statement they “warmly welcome the decision of the court”, and that their organization has “never believed that the institution of marriage could possibly be threatened by the existence of married people of any gender”. T. Thorn Coyle of Solar Cross Temple and Morningstar Mystery School, speaking to those now recoiling from Prop. 8’s overturn, noted that “we are not trying to change your religious beliefs. We are only saying that we have the same civil rights as you do.” Holli Emore of Osireion and the Pagan Round Table said in a message to The Wild Hunt that we are “living in the last days of the kind of bigotry that would presume to dictate such matters, in my opinion.”

While some Christians have issued gloomy prognostications on a future with legalized gay marriage, or theorized as to the possible religious discrimination(s) that may be visited upon them, there has been little examination of the privileges the current status quo affords them, or the hurdles same-sex Pagan couples have to endure to ensure some sort of legal recognition for the rites of union freely performed within their communities. Michael York, author of “Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion”, shared his own experiences with this phenonenon in the comments here.

“As a pleased, same-sex married pagan, I can applaud Judge Walker’s decision as well. Of course, there will be appeals, etc., and the story has yet a long way to play out. After my partner and I had done a civil union in my hometown of New Jersey (my best friend from childhood who was then the town mayor being the officiator), my lawyer said that it “counts for nothing.” Even, he added, if we were to marry in Massachusetts or Connecticut, it would count for nothing – neither the Federal government nor most states would recognise it. But, he added, “if you were to marry in the Netherlands, I would be willing to go to court on your behalf.” The reason, he explained, is that the two countries have reciprocal marriage recognition. And so, that is what we did – married in Amsterdam. It has not come to the test yet – and may be unlikely that it will ever come to that, but every step is a step along the way. Freedom has to be the highest pagan goal and virtue. To advance that sacred cause of liberty, we often need to chip away at whatever obstacles there are. At some point, we will get there.”

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, founder of the Ekklesía Antínoou, notes in a statement about the ruling, “Congress is not supposed to make any laws which establish any particular religion’s doctrines as the legal norm for the country”, yet this is the current state of things where same-sex unions are concerned in the minds of many Pagans. As T. Thorn Coyle bluntly puts it, “if we are to have nation states, we are to have citizens. If we are to have citizens, we must give each of those citizens rights equal to all other citizens. If that includes marriage, so be it. The right to marry must be had by all.”

As for Kathryn and Jeani Kyair, Pagan clergy and a legally married same-sex couple in California, they look forward to the expected Supreme Court challenge.

“Yes, frankly, we think it needs to go to the Supreme Court.  Just like the laws that changed the ban on inter-racial marriages had to go to the Supreme Court in 1965.  California had allowed inter-racial marriage in, I think, 1947.  It took nearly 20 years to make it to the Supreme Court, while the States fought against it in the trenches. The Supreme Court has the ability to take this passionate argument out of the issue and make it law that will end the fighting in all states.  It won’t stop hatred or peoples adverse opinions, but it will, hopefully, allow people to move on and communicate.”

It seems certain that many of their co-religionists within modern Paganism share that sentiment, and look forward to a day when there are equal rights and equal rites.

Note: Some of the organizations I contacted wanted to make a public statement, but they didn’t make it to me before this article went to press. As they are sent to me, I will update this post with links to their statements below. I’m also including previously-issued statements on gay marriage.

Covenant of the Goddess Supports Gay Marriage (Issued 2008)
Cherry Hill Seminary Responds to Same-Sex Marriage Debate (Issued 2009)
Starhawk: A Sacred Choice and a Civil Right (2008)

Greetings Wildhunt readers and thank you, Jason, for sharing this forum with me for a day.

I’ve just published a book called Theater in a Crowded Fire that sets out to examine what people say, do, and think around questions of religion, ritual, and spirituality at the Burning Man festival. I could pepper readers here with dozens of lively stories about ecstatic bonfires, dusty temples, and wild propane hunts (and some of these tales are told in the book). (If by chance you’re not familiar with Burning Man, this is as a good place as any to start.) But instead, I hope you’ll bear with me while I put on my professor’s hat for a spell and wax academic about the links between Burning Man and Paganism, and in turn what I think this teaches us about the nature of religion and culture.

No one I’ve ever spoken to (and I’ve been attending and researching this event since 1996) has ever come right out and called Burning Man a religion–Pagan or otherwise–and the event’s organizers have repeatedly stated as much for years. However, I think in some ways it can be considered to be a pagan (note the lower case) phenomenon. In this meaning, I see the uppercase term “Pagan” as referring to our various Neopagan traditions–that is the sets of practices, beliefs, and communities that are seen as (albeit loosely) constituting our family of religions–while I use the lowercase term “pagan” as a more general adjective.

In this sense, I am thinking of Michael York’s concept of “root religion,” which identifies paganism as a set of shared–yet diversely constituted–primal religious tendencies that broadly underlie all global religions. As he stated, “inasmuch as paganism is the root of religion, it confronts the earliest, the most immediate, and the least processed apprehensions of the sacred. This is the experiential level on which paganism in both its indigenous and contemporary forms wishes to concentrate.” (see York’s Pagan Theology)

Burning Man has a similarly embodied, experiential, and ritualized quality. This feeling is in part engendered by the encounter with nature in Nevada’s Black Rock desert. In the beauty and essential simplicity of this vast dusty arena–as well as in the visceral physical experience of its arid and demanding environment–many participants encounter a sense of the transformative and numinous.

This sense is also nurtured by the festival’s extravagant ritualism. Just as Pagans gather seasonally to consecrate the rhythms of life, Burners annually create their event in order to celebrate catharsis and ecstasy. In addition to the central and definitive ritual bonfire, there are numerous other rites that have transpired at the festival over the years–massive ephemeral temples dedicated to memory and mourning, anti-consumerist parodies of Christian evangelism, operatic performances invoking Vodou lwas, Shabbat services conducted in the skeleton of a gothic cathedral, yoga and meditation classes, reiki attunement sessions, Balinese monkey chant –the list could go on and on. All of this speaks to the persistence and importance of ritual as meaning making device. While Burning Man explicitly lacks any avowed theology and consistently ducks easy classification as “religion” (in an uppercase sense), it displays numerous ritualistic elements and motifs that echo this underlying root paganism.

Of course, some Burning Man participants are explicitly Pagan. However, one of the somewhat surprising finds of my research (I interviewed or surveyed over 300 participants) was that the number who stated specific affiliations with Christianity or Judaism was slightly higher than the number who directly identified with less “mainstream” traditions (in the U.S., at any rate), such as Paganism and Buddhism. This could be an accident of my sample, but it generally seems that Burning Man typically draws those who adhere to no tradition, or who speak of themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.” (I delve further into and critique this notion in the book.)

As expressions of “root religion,” one of the things that both Burning Man and contemporary Paganism have in common is their use of diverse cultural symbols in their rites. Questions of cultural appropriation and authenticity are, I realize, sensitive issues in Pagan and Indigenous communities. But ultimately history shows that religions are not static and that hybridity and syncretism are key forces in cultural change, as processes of both defining and transgressing boundaries. As diverse traditions and cultures come into contact across contexts, they inevitably borrow from and occasionally merge into one another, while also retaining or rejecting certain core elements. In this sense, both Burning Man and Paganism point to the ways in which religious and cultural systems are at once mutable, dynamic, and creative, as well as conservative and enduring through their use of various ancient, mythic, and “pagan” symbols.

Ultimately, I think Burning Man is a fascinating case study of some of the ways in which what we call (for lack of better terms) religion and spirituality is evolving in what we call (again, for lack of better terms) postmodern culture. As with the contemporary Pagan movement, Burning Man blurs the boundaries as to what is generally considered to be “religion.” For many (though by no means all) participants, Burning Man satisfies a set of desires similar to those conventionally fulfilled by religions, but which increasingly seeps outside of clearly demarcated institutions and doctrines.

Finally, in addition to the book, on the chance that anyone is eager to dig more deeply into my thoughts on these topics, readers might also be interested in my occasional posts on Burning Man’s Blog as well as a recent interview on Religion Dispatches. And if you’re interested in following my ongoing work on Burning Man, I’d be delighted to be able to keep up with you via facebook.

Lee Gilmore is a Lecturer in Religious Studies and Anthropology at California State University, Northridge. The author of Theater in a Crowded Fire: Ritual & Spirituality at Burning Man, she has been in, out, around, and studying the Pagan community (mostly Feri traditions) for the better part of 20 years.

Top Story: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Italy is holding a special two-day conference with the theme of “God today: with Him or without Him, that changes everything”. Normally I’m not overly interested in the day-to-day goings on of the Vatican, but a couple quotes reveal, I believe, the under-riding fear behind Benedict XVI’s ongoing smears of both classical and modern forms of Paganism. In short, they believe secularism will hasten the growth of modern Paganism(s).

“Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to CEI President Card Angelo Bagnasco for the occasion. In it, the Holy Father said, … “When God disappears from man’s horizon, humanity loses its sense of direction and could take steps towards its destruction.” … In his opening address, Cardinal Bagnasco said that the question of God is linked to that of truth, which “separates man from animals and machine.” For the cardinal, the more the ‘question of God’ is “marginalised and psychologically removed” from culture, the more it “reappears in disguise” and takes the form of today’s interest in the paranormal, the occult, and esoteric religiosity in which reason “is defeated”.”

The process they describe is known to scholars as “re-enchantment”, and far from being antithetical to reason, some see the current trend as one that embraces “secular rationalism” alongside  new-found “esoteric religiosity”.

“To Pagans, the “spiritual but not religious”, the scores of “no religion” agnostics who believe in God, and the many other groupings taking part in the West’s re-enchantment, it isn’t a choice of Dawkins or Pope Benedict. Instead, it is melding of the best aspects of rational and secular progress with the immanent and transcendent spiritual experiences provided by various religions and philosophies. While the old binary view of religion and rationalism continues to duke it out, Pagans are having their (secular re-enchantment) cake and eating it too.”

The Catholic fear, I believe, isn’t (primarily) of the death of reason, but of the birth of competition. Of a post-Christian Christianity that doesn’t mind dabbling in the supernatural now and then, of a coalition of non-Christian faiths who won’t sit quietly and allow the Vatican to continue “asserting the reasonableness of the Gospel” to the exclusion of any other point of view. Of a world that has no problem being religious and living in an age secular rationalism.

In Other News: Author and Pagan scholar Michael York, who attended and presented at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne (check out my audio interview with him), has added his two cents to the wide-ranging post-Parliament discussion over identity and terminology in Wednesday’s post.

“The Indigenous Peoples issued a Statement to the World in which the Inter Caetera papal bull of 1493 and the Doctrine of Christian Discovery were exposed for the evils that they were. Angie Buchanan’s argument is that we pagans who follow a European tradition are examples of an earlier and more complete eradication that the indigenous peoples of today are themselves facing. We are allies and not enemies. _Some_ were sympathetic to this reasoning; others less so. Andras’ classification of paganism into Neo-pagan, Reconstructionists and Indigenous I have trouble with – especially when he described the second as intellectual reconstructions as opposed to revivals of indigenous survivals. For me, Neo-pagan includes Wicca as well as much contemporary Druidry and comprises a specific alignment of elements and directions as well as the eight festival calendar. Reco-paganism is ethnic reconstructions _and_ revivals. Geo-pagan is something else that is more vernacular and often less self-conscious.”

I urge you to read the full comment, his follow-up statement, and the exchange between him and Celtic Reconstructionist Erynn Laurie (among others) for some thoughtful expansion on the hot-button issues brought up in the main post. I’d also like to recognize and thank all my commenters for their thoughtful, challenging and respectful discussion on these issues. I like to think that this blog’s reader-commenters present a unique cross-section of the diverse theological, political, and social backgrounds, to be found under modern Paganism’s wide umbrella. As a result of this we often generate more light than heat on controversial subject matters. So thank you.

An extremist Russian pagan group is being blamed for an explosion inside an Orthodox church in Vladimir.

“A suspect detained as part of the authorities’ investigation into an explosion inside an Orthodox church in Vladimir is believed to be a member of a pagan group that is in conflict with traditional faiths, a spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry’s department for the fight against extremism told Interfax on Friday. An explosion occurred at the Sts Cyril and Methodius Church on the premises of the Vladimir State University on December 6, the spokesman said. A pamphlet that was written on behalf of the White Storm group and contained remarks “aimed at inciting ethnic and religious hatred” was found inside the church, he said. “A 28-year-old resident of Vladimir was detained for his suspected role in the crime. The information available to us suggests that he is an active member of a pagan group that is in conflict with traditional faiths,” the spokesman said.”

Luckily, no one was hurt in the explosion. There have been serious ongoing tensions between modern Russian Pagan groups (both extremist and otherwise), and the state-approved Russian Orthodox Church. Extremist Pagans groups have been listed as suspects in the recent murder of an Orthodox priest, and one group was recently tried and convicted for the murder and harassment of non-Slavic immigrants. The various forms of Paganism in Russia are a complex matter for outsiders to grasp, especially when press coverage focuses almost solely on violent and racist gangs instead of the broader Pagan impulse in the country. I await a serious expose’ on this issue, one that separates the peaceful productive groups from the thuggish gangs who terrorize Orthodox priests and immigrants. Perhaps some Russian Pagans or Russian Pagan ex-pats can shed some light on the matter?

Lahaina News reports on a Goddess Movement conference coming to West Maui in January, organized by Dr. Apela Colorado, founder of the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network, and featuring Kathy Jones and Lydia Ruyle.

“Organizing gatherings is old hat to Colorado. “I’ve done hundreds of them. This is the first one I’ve done about the theme of the goddess, with the central focus on the goddess. Normally, I’m doing gatherings that pertain to indigenous wisdom and spirituality and bringing it together with western science,” she said. “What’s the same about this is that it’s bringing out the ancient ways of understanding life,” she added. Colorado reasoned why the conference is being held on the West Side. “All of West Maui is dedicated to the feminine powers of life. It’s all about the waters, the fresh waters. In the West Maui Mountains up there, it has a big lizard (mo‘o) in the landscape that’s at the headwaters of Kauaula, the red rain. The red water is an allusion to the menses, the blood flow of giving birth,” she explained.”

Oh, and Starhawk is also attending, though that strangely wasn’t mentioned in the article. I do find it somewhat curious that a Goddess Conference held in West Maui doesn’t feature any native Hawaiians on the speakers list (that I can ascertain, there are several names I don’t recognize), an oversight perhaps? Is there some sort of social/political tension that I’m not clued in on? Perhaps some of my Hawaiian readers can fill me in.

In a final note, I normally don’t plug individual business on my blog, but I think this is a good cause. Witchy Moon is teaming up with Operation Circle Care to make it super-easy to send a Pagan solider a care package this holiday season.

“WitchyMoon Magickal Pagan Superstore today announced that is supporting Circle Sanctuary’s “Operation Circle Care” program to collect Yule gifts for Pagan soldiers stationed overseas. As part of this sponsorship, WitchyMoon will be selling care packages on its web site, which can be sent to Pagan service members abroad. WitchyMoon will be offering a 25% discount on all care package items. “Through this Yule program, we are sending a very powerful message that we care about our Pagan troops, which are working hard to defend America,” says Lady Falcona, proprietor of Witchy Moon”

You can find out more about Operation Circle Care’s care package program, here. Perhaps Witchy Moon’s generosity of spirit will inspire other Pagan retailers to offer similar deals. If you have a business that is working with Operation Circle Care, please drop a line in the comments and let my readers know.

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