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While attending last year’s Sacred Harvest Festival, a small Pagan festival held in Minnesota, I heard that a dreaded rumor was true. The festival had to move. The venue, a beloved place set in the midst of a Burr Oak grove, had become unfriendly toward any camping and wanted to focus on large music festivals. To say that I, and many other attendees, were unhappy is an understatement. The trees and the festival were inseparable in my mind. How could you have Sacred Harvest Festival anywhere else?

Sacred Harvest FestivalAs the months went by without an announcement of a new location, my concerns increased. Would Sacred Harvest Festival even happen? What would the new place look like? Can the festival survive a venue change?

When the new location was finally announced in spring, a place called Atchington, my apprehension only increased.

I had heard of Atchington in passing. I knew it was about 90 minutes north of the Twin Cities and was purchased in 2013 by Paul and Janette Ferrise, active members of the Twin Cities Pagan community. While I knew it was their dream to one day turn this 40 acre parcel of land into a self-sustaining retreat, it was presently just woods surrounding an open hay field. Other than their home, there were no facilities at all. There wasn’t even a road to get to the field, where I was told the festival would take place.

I considered not attending. I complained on Facebook. I pumped people for information and was told the venue was being worked on by the Ferrises and by volunteers from Harmony Tribe, the group that produces Sacred Harvest Festival. I was assured that there would be a bathroom, a place to shower, and a way to get into the open field to camp. They were working on it. No, nothing is ready yet, but they’re working on it.

I didn’t feel assured.

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[Photo: C. Schulz]

I decided to go for a long weekend instead of the entire week. I also decided to pack light because if it was miserable, I was throwing my tent back into my car and leaving. Yes, I am a delicate snowflake, and I was already biased against the place.

After attending the festival I can say that Harmony Tribe made the right decision in relocating its festival to Atchington. The amount of work already done is impressive, containing many festival venue Best Practices. The Ferrise’s future plans are equally impressive, and it’s clear they have been working with permaculture experts.

The site’s entrance is what you’d expect to find in a rural area. A long drive cut into a heavily wooded area. I could tell immediately when I got to the newly created section of dirt road, because it wasn’t as compacted as the main driveway, and it became slick after a rain. The road dumped out into the meadow, which was far smoother than I thought a converted hayfield would be. We were able to unload at our campsite and then park close by. Everything was clearly laid out with an eye to traffic flow, accessibility, and being as gentle as possible to the land.

Special Guest Kari Tauring teaches a Beginning Staving class on the hay trailer stage.

Special Guest Kari Tauring teaches a Beginning Staving class on the hay trailer stage. [Photo: C. Schulz]

We had purchased electrical and, as of two weeks ago, the electrical wasn’t laid in yet. I had been told it was very limited, but this turned out to not be correct. There was plenty of electrical for any of the 140 attendees who wanted it and then some. In talking with Paul Ferrise, he noted that this year those wanting electrical were packed in a bit tight, but next year the electrical would be extended out further in two directions. This is welcome news for those who have medical conditions requiring access to electricity, but who still would like to attend a camping festival.

The very next thing that I noticed (I drank two Coke Zeros on the drive to the festival) was the portapotties. Two of them were pink and were reserved just for women. They didn’t have the urinal in them and had a hook to hold your purse or bag on the inside. I appreciate having separate women and men’s portas. Let’s just keep our disgusting stuff separate, shall we?

All portas had an LED light in them, a huge upgrade from any other Pagan festival I’ve attended. Just having a built in overhead LED light for night time use kept the portas so much cleaner.

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Drinking water tanks in the foreground, showers in the white tent, dish washing station and trash/recycling in front.

The portas were located near the showers. Showers are usually cringe-worthy at camping festivals, but these were another pleasant surprise. The two stalls were built up on wood platforms, one with a ramp for accessibility while the other had stairs. The showers had hot water on demand systems, and the grey water was collected in tanks underneath. There was plenty of room to shower, dress, and move around. In fact, they were downright spacious. Dr. Bronner’s body and hair wash, which is very earth friendly, was provided, and we all got to experience the joy of having our hoo-hoo tingle.

Harmony Tribe members say that the showers were a late addition, and the original plan was much more modest. Two showers for 140 attendees was about right. There was rarely a line, nor did you have to pay for them. Ferrise said that more showers, with a slightly different design, will be added before next year’s Sacred Harvest Festival.

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Sacred Harvest Festival attendee washes breakfast dishes

On the other side of the showers were tanks for filtered drinking water and a sink station for washing hands or dishes. It had a nice long counter-top where many attendees brought items to wash and dry. The drinking water was just what you’d find from a home tap, so next year attendees won’t feel the the need to bring bottled water. Because the tanks formerly held raspberries, the water had a slight raspberry flavor. I considered that a bonus.

Atchington appears to have solved one problem that plagues most Pagan events: how to get people to properly recycle. They did so in the easiest, most straightforward way. Several barrels set up with signs on them that list what can be thrown in each barrel. Genius. There was a barrel for food scraps, one for aluminum cans, one for plastic bottles, one for paper, and another for trash. They were emptied each evening. No more guessing what goes in the single recycle bin and what goes in the trash bin.

I looked in the bins periodically to see if people were following the rules and each time I looked, everything was thrown in the appropriate barrel. It appears that clear labels and easy access to proper disposal places are all it takes to make recycling and composting work at a festival. I’m wondering how this will scale up to larger events.

There were other nice touches at the venue, such as Paul driving attendees into town once a day to go to the grocery store; unlimited firewood for personal campfires; and the Tree of Life with accompanying permanent shrine. You could see the Ferrises were serious about living the Pagan ethics of caring for the earth and providing thoughtful hospitality for their guests. Planned upgrades include a storm shelter, gardens, and a place for musical performances.

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Paul Ferrise said that he knew this was the land they would buy once he saw the Tree of Life on the property. They then built a shrine in front of it. [Photo: C. Schulz]

The Ferrises have worked hard to create good relations with their neighbors and to include county officials in their plans. The Ferrises said that the officials that they’ve worked with have been extremely helpful and very open to what they’re trying to accomplish. Their neighbors are excited and supportive of the permaculture ideas the Ferrises are putting into place, and so far haven’t had a problem with late night drumming.

Atchington's vision of a sustainable retreat utilizes permaculture techniques

Atchington’s vision of a sustainable retreat utilizes permaculture techniques [Courtesy Photos]

The festival site itself is located in a large, cleared field and most attendees, like myself, camped in full sun; or full rain depending on the weather. If it hadn’t been so temperate, that could have created problems for some people. By which, I really mean me, and I did feel a bit under the weather after one 80 degree sunny day. There was some shaded camping in the tree lines, but those sites went pretty quick.

Paul said next year’s plans include clearing out some of the underbrush in the woods to provide more shaded camping and cutting a trail so attendees can enjoy the creek that runs through their property. The field was fairly smooth, but there were odd holes and ruts so you needed to watch your step when walking around. A few days and nights of heavy rain left standing puddles of water. However, it was less muddy than I thought a field would end up, so drainage doesn’t appear to be a problem. In addition, the new road had to be worked on after storms went through Thursday night.

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(left)The Hearth Chakra is where the main community fire and drum circle takes place. (right) Tents dot the treeline [Photos: C. Schulz]

All in all, both Harmony Tribe and the owners of Atchington appear to be a good match for one another. Both are willing to work hard to create a wonderful, uniquely Pagan space to hold festivals. And, both were willing to put in a considerable amount of money to make this happen. Harmony Tribe paid for two years in advance, while the Ferrises turned a 5-year plan into a one year reality.

Other festivals and events have already booked space at Atchington, and now that I’ve been there, I can see why. It’s a beautiful property with dedicated and friendly owners who are willing to get their hands dirty and who appear to have the skills needed to do much of the work themselves. I’m very excited about attending Sacred Harvest Festival next year and can’t wait to see all the new changes happening at Atchington.

Three years ago Kathleen Culhane was heading home after attending a taproom opening in Minneapolis, and she was thinking about how she’d like to work in a brewery. Then it hit her. She didn’t want to work in a brewery; she wanted to own one. Three years and many hundreds of hours of work later her dream has become reality as Sidhe Brewing Company opens it doors in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Founder Kathleen Culhane at Sidhe Brewery [photo Cara Schulz]

Founder Kathleen Culhane at Sidhe Brewery [Photo: C. Schulz]


What makes Sidhe Brewery different from other craft beer breweries across the country is hinted at in its logo, the artwork hanging in the taproom, the names of the beers, and the pentacle hanging around Ms. Culhane’s neck. This brewery is owned by four very out of the broom closet Pagans.

Culhane is the founder and head brew mistress. Rosemary Kosmatka keeps the books; Robin Kinney is the secretary; and Erica Rogers handles operations. Culhane owns 52% of the brewery, while the other three partners each have a 16% interest. Not only are all four women business partners, but they also share a house and are all practicing witches.

Culhane said that it was never a consideration to hide their faith, “We’re just going to be who we are and be obvious about who we are and if people figure it out, great. And then of course City Pages called us a “Wiccan brewery” – yeah, we’re out of the broom closet now, not that we were ever really in it.”

And, that is very apparent to anyone entering the taproom. Goddess art and a large painting of a full moon by artist Aneesa Erinn Adams adorn the walls of the brightly lit, 68 seat taproom. Culhane said that the painting will change as other artists display and sell their artwork through the brewery. There’s also a stage area where musicians can perform and where open mic poetry nights can be held.

Full Moon painting hangs above the stage in the taproom [photo Cara Schulz]

Full Moon painting hangs above the stage in the taproom [photo Cara Schulz]

The owners’ openness has already attracted a few protesters, leading up to their Grand Opening weekend. Culhane said that the group was small, and she’d be pleased to talk with them if they return.

Brewing as a Ritual
The brewery was originally called Four Elements, but was changed to Sidhe after a problem trademarking the name. The logo design, which reflects the original name and features a pentacle in the center, also shows Culhane’s theory that brewing beer is a type of ritual, “It occurred to me when I first started to think about this that there was a perfect one-to-one correspondence between a standard Wiccan ritual and brewing because you combine air with water and fire and it creates spirit. When you brew, you combine hops, yeast, and water and you make beer.”

Culhane said that, once she made that realization, the ritual she now uses to make each batch of beer practically wrote itself. Each brewing also ends with a Great Rite.

Logo

Magic isn’t just in the beer, it was built right into the brewery, “Once we got the space, we purged it and gave it a good blessing and then when I built the walls I put stones in all the corners and I welded stones into the brewery itself so they are embedded in the posts.” Her working altar, nestled in a toolbox, is visible from the taproom.

A working altar visible from the taproom. [photo Cara Schulz]

A working altar visible from the taproom. [Photo C. Schulz]

Wicca also influences Culhane’s work ethic. She said that one Wiccan concept guiding her is that while doing magic to manifest Will, you must also do work in the mundane world. This work supports the magic and makes it happen.

Culhane has done the work. Not only is she the head brewer, but she has also remodeled the facility and built the brewing equipment herself. She said that she has needed to be very self-reliant because she didn’t have many monetary resources. This is also why the Sidhe brewery is the smallest in the Twin Cities. Culhane could only build what she could afford out of her own pocket, or what her partners contributed by cashing out their retirement savings.

The Beers
For such a small brewery, they have a wide selection of beers on tap.  Bast Kissed is a cream ale named after one of Culhane’s cats, who enjoys malted barley. Sol Victorious is a bright Mexican style lager. Hopped Up McGonigal, an IPA created at the request of a friend, is not overly bitter like many craft IPAs. Barking Cat is Belgian ale with a strong flavor and a similarly strong alcoholic kick. Greenman’s Harvest, an American nut brown ale first made for a friend’s wedding back in 1998, has a slightly caramel flavor. Dark Moon Rising, a Stout, is the darkest of all the beers offered.

Beer

[Photo: C.Schulz]

As of now, the beer is offered only in the Twin Cities. You can order glasses in the taproom or buy a growler to take home. It’s also offered on tap at Tongue in Cheek, Ward 6, and the Historic Mounds Theatre.

The craft beer industry is highly competitive with a 24% failure rate among microbreweries, according to the Brewers Association. Therefore, it remains to be seen if Sidhe Brewing Company will be successful. They appear to have all the right ingredients for a successful brewery; owners with business experience and a willingness to put in long hours, solid beers, and an attractive taproom. Could magic be the edge needed in such a crowded market? Perhaps so.

“Brewing is magic,” said Culhane, “and I think that it makes the beer taste better.”

Opinion: Run, Pagan, Run

Cara Schulz —  December 31, 2014 — 5 Comments

Let me begin this column by saying I’m a loser. I lost the seat I was running for in the 2014 election. When all the votes were counted, I came up short. However, when I look back at my campaign and all that has happened since, our religious community won in many ways. You see, I didn’t lose because I’m Pagan, even though I was subjected to a smear campaign based on religion. I lost for very normal, boring reasons and that, in itself, is a victory we can celebrate. I’d like to challenge our religious community to do better, if you feel called to do so. To run and to win.

Cara Schulz, during a day or door knocking

Cara Schulz, during a day or door knocking

If you want to serve your gods, your local community, and protect our religious rights, run for local level political office. Yes, it’s daunting, expensive and time consuming. Running for office will exhaust you in body, mind, and spirit. It will take time away from your family, and you’ll miss out on fun social events. And yes, your opponents will use your religion against you and it will be brutal. Fair or unfair, people will judge every Pagan in the world by what they see you do and what they hear you say.

After going through all of that, if you’re running against an incumbent you’ll have about a 10% chance of winning. If this is your first time running for office, even if there isn’t an incumbent to run against, you have a less than a 25% chance of winning.

Run anyway.

Consider running for a school board seat or a city council position or some other similar office. Local politics affect your daily life far more than anything that happens in Washington D.C., and it’s where you can have the greatest impact in your community.

Think about all the stories of religious discrimination toward Pagans we’ve heard over the past few years and consider where that discrimination was taking place. In 2014, we saw a school board favoring Christian prayers to open meetings and refusing to allow a Pagan to give the invocation. City officials in Bebee, Arkansas tried to run a Pagan family and business out of town.  The town of Catskills, NY forced the Maetreum of Cybele into a lengthy court battle costing tens of thousands of dollars because local officials didn’t see the Maetreum as a “real” religious house.

Those are just a few cases where local politicians used their power and authority to discriminate against Pagans. How much more effective could you be sitting on one of those school boards or city councils, rather than being the person asking those in power to stop infringing on your rights? Being the person in power, rather than the supplicant?

The other benefit to running is in changing peoples’ perceptions on Pagans and Paganism. As more people come to know Pagans, or work with Pagans, or see them doing things such as run for office, the less they will be influenced by sensationalist or mocking narratives. The more of us who are “out” and achieve positions of respect and authority, the safer it is for all of us.

The amazing recent victories for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals have only come after decades of “coming out” because they understood that putting a human face on their communities was the only way forward. Likewise, modern Pagans, whatever their faith or practice, need to engage in the work of putting a human face on our religious movement. Thanks to some brave pioneers and visionaries we’ve already come a long way, but the next steps come only when it becomes apparent that we truly are everywhere, that we are indeed your brother, sister, parent, child, co-worker, partner, or friend. – Jason Pitzl-Waters

Should you run for office?

To judge if running for office is something you should consider, let me relate my experience running for a council seat for Burnsville, Minnesota as a very out of the closet Pagan. It goes without saying that you need to be very public in your religious affiliation. Even if you use a craft name or a pseudonym, if you aren’t already fully out, someone will out you. This happened to candidate Alice Richmond when she was outted on a live radio interview in 2009.

First, I did my research. Burnsville is a large city, the 9th largest city in Minnesota. There were two seats available and both incumbents were running for reelection. The city charter is set up so that all candidates run, and the top two vote getters win the seats. I looked at how much money each candidate spent on previous elections. I also looked at how many persons are in my area and how many of them are voters. This is important for calculating man hours needed to knock on each door. I calculated how many volunteers I would need and how many hours I needed from each volunteer. That’s the normal stuff every candidate does.

I finished my last few days of the campaign, door knocking with a stress fracture in one of my feet

I finished my last few days of the campaign, door knocking with a stress fracture in one of my feet

But remember, you will not be a normal candidate, and you will need to make preparations other candidates don’t have to devote time and resources toward. You will need to make a plan for what happens when, not if, your opponent uses your religion against you. This plan goes into effect on day one of your campaign.

I had a short discussion with each one of my volunteers, supporters, and donors about my religion, if they didn’t already know. It went something like, “I just want to let you know that I’m part of a minority religion and sooner or later my opponents will attempt to use it to smear me. My religion is Hellenismos, and it’s a modern version of what ancient Greeks such as Socrates practiced. It’s very family focused and encourages civic duty. If you have any questions feel free to ask me at any time. If you feel this is cause to withdraw your support, just say so and it will remain between you and me.”

I kept it simple and used cultural concepts most anyone could immediately understand. Although I had people ask me a few questions, I didn’t have a single person or organization withdraw support. As I was calm and treated it casually, the people that I talked to treated it the same way. Months later, when the expected #politricks hit, these were some of my strongest supporters.

I googled myself and viewed all the photos I could find of myself on the internet. I looked at each one with fresh eyes. If a section of this blog post was quoted in the paper or this photo was put on a flyer, how would I react? How do I put it into context for people entirely unfamiliar with Paganism, using only one sentence?

I spoke with trusted non-Pagans for quick, professional, and reasoned thinking, and asked them if they’d be willing to help me when my religion would be brought into the campaign. They would be prepared to comment on articles and social media, write Letters to the Editor, and call in to radio shows. Since I did this early in the campaign, these non-Pagan supporters were mentally prepared and were able to respond quickly when the situation arose months later.

I was also fortunate that other friends, whom I hadn’t approached, assisted me. I can’t stress how important it is to have diverse, non-Pagan support ready to respond to social and traditional media. A persuasive comment early on can change the entire direction of the conversation. Otherwise, the snowball of mockery and scaremongering starts rolling downhill and there’s no way of stopping it.

I spent some time, not as much as I should have, developing a working relationship with local media. If they’ve worked with you in the past and found you to be a reliable and sane person, they are less likely to run an article on you that is lurid or sensational. They may still write an article about your religion, but you have a better shot at it being fair and well researched if they know you as a person. During the campaign, I know of at least one reporter who passed on running an expose-style article about my religion before the election.

10881275_10203513092727745_761208615_nIt seemed a bit superficial, but I made sure that I looked like a city council member every time I left my house. While you want to stay true to who you are, this is not the time to play “Freak the Mundanes.” The entire campaign is a job interview and every person who you come into contact with is your potential boss. If you have a piece of religious jewelry, wear it with pride, but make sure your shoes are polished.

I wanted people to know that I am professional, approachable, and open to diverse points of views. I made sure my appearance and body language matched that message. While my religion is important to me, I had no intention of pushing it on others, so my appearance reflected that point as well.

Last of all, I wrote down several contingency plans. If X happens, I will do A, B, C, and D. If Y happens, I will do E, F, G, and H. By writing every portion of them down, I was able to act quickly, rather than being frozen.

I realized it’s a legitimate question for people or media to ask how my religious views would affect the way I perform in office. Or to ask me what my ethics are and how my religion shaped them. In my case, I could answer that my religion helped invent Western democracy and concepts like a jury trial. My ethics can be found in the 10 Precepts of Solon, examples of which are: Don’t associate with people who do bad things and When asked for advice, don’t say what’s most pleasing, but what’s most helpful. These are questions I was asked by people, and because I was able to answer them in a simple and direct way, people came away reassured that we had common ground. Because we do.

Despite all my preparations, when it finally happened, I was deeply hurt. I was surprised at how hurt and upset I was. It was three weeks before the election, and I knew this was the prime time for a hit piece. There had been behind the scenes whispers about my religion for a few weeks, but nothing I could openly address. The key to a successful hit piece is to the hit the other person and not leave them time to hit you back. You want a knock out punch, or at the very least, you want to create a situation that eats up all their time. Ideally, you have a supporter deliver the knockout punch so you can keep your hands clean.

In my case, a Letter to the Editor titled Intriguing information about Cara Schulz appeared in the local paper by an area resident. It was carefully crafted to not make any outright statements ridiculing me or my religion, but spent a great deal of time othering me and then noting that people should vote for “…Bill Coughlin and Dan Kealey, who are not pagans, but longtime Burnsville residents who understand all the responsibilities and duties as members of the City Council.”

The letter also inferred that I had been trying to hide my religion, which the writer had only discovered through research. This suggested that I could not be trusted, as opposed to my opponents, who were trustworthy, qualified and not Pagans. Vote for them, don’t vote for the Pagan.

While neither of my opponents submitted the letter to the paper, one of them did use it in their campaign. I discovered this when one of his supporters forwarded a campaign email to me saying he could no longer, in good conscientious, support someone who would stoop to that level.

Screen cap of the forwarded email

Screen cap of the forwarded email

I put one of my plan’s into action, with a few modifications. First, I issued an official statement asking my opponents and the newspaper to denounce the religious bigotry exemplified in the letter. I kept it polite, but firm, and appealed to peoples’ better natures. My supporters commented on the letter on the newspaper’s website and on social media. They, too, kept things positive.

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The groups and organizations who supported me, publicly restated their support for me and for religious freedom. They clearly denounced the letter as an appeal to fear and bigotry. I was interviewed by the main newspaper for the Twin Cities. I also went on a political talk radio program during a prime morning slot and had supporters ready to call in.

Part 1 of radio interview
Part 2 of radio interview

For months, I had prepared myself for this situation. When it happened, It went off smoothly and allowed me devote my time to speaking with voters rather than spinning my wheels in shock, pain, and confusion. But the real heroes of this tale are the voters.

I received countless emails and messages of support from local residents. They wanted me to know that religious bigotry was unacceptable. I was sent photos of people throwing away my opponent’s yard signs, saying they would no longer vote for him since bigotry was part of his campaign message. I was called by local clergy, letting me know they didn’t support the perspective outlined in the letter.

At the end of the day you have to trust your fellow residents. Trust them to be decent people. If you can’t do that, you have no business running for local office because you are not looking to be a servant to your community, you are looking to rule it from a position of ethical superiority. Aside from practical matters, this is the real deal breaker. Can you place your trust in your fellow residents?

I didn’t win my election. But I did everything I could to win, including knowing I had about a 5% chance of winning. I was running against two entrenched incumbents who were working together; who split costs and volunteers. They fundraised together and even dropped each other’s lit. (lit dropping is when they drive around and stick flyers in your mailbox) I can say, however, that I made them work for that reelection and I almost pulled off a win.

Yet I certainly didn’t lose.

From a selfish perspective I made many new and lasting friends – good, caring people who care passionately about their communities. I also have laid a solid foundation for the next time I run for city council. There’s a reason so few rookies win elections. You are building everything from scratch and making costly mistakes in time and resources. The second time you run, your starting point is much further ahead. Plus, you can save money by reusing your yard signs.

Tyra, a Burnsville high school student, on the campaign trail.

Tyra, a Burnsville high school student, on the campaign trail.

From a much less selfish perspective, my time campaigning helped change peoples’ perspectives about Paganism. I had people tell me they originally thought Pagans were teen girls who were going through a phase, but now they think of Pagans as just like anyone else.

Many of them saw me in the candidate forum. They may have met me at the community parade, or when I knocked on their door. It’s so much harder to negatively stereotype a group after you have had positive interactions with a member of that group. I have supporters from all different age groups, religious backgrounds, socio-economic levels, and political parties.

What gives me the most satisfaction is that I’ve had six Pagans from across the country contact me and tell me that they followed my campaign with interest and were considering running for office. They were hesitant, wondering if it was possible for a Pagan candidate to survive the campaign and to actually win. After following my process and seeing what happened, they are going ahead with their campaigns for the 2015 and 2016 election cycle. They now believe it is possible for Pagan candidates to be elected to political office. I’ve been working with them on how to prepare their campaign and to be ready for the inevitable #politricks.

If you’re interested in taking the plunge, contact me. No matter your political beliefs, I’ll help you create your contingency plans so you’re ready when someone tries to make your religion the focus of your campaign.

With planning and good fortune, you can win, too.

Minneapolis Witch Tasha-Rose knows the power of belly dance and how it can transform. She’s hoping to use that transformational energy to help at-risk girls break the poverty cycle through the empowerment found in learning a cooperative dance style know as American Tribal Style belly dance. To achieve this goal, Tasha-Rose has formed a group called Our Dancing Daughters and is seeking funding for a larger studio space and for scholarships for young women in need.

Tasha-Rose instructs students at the Kamala Chaand dance studio. [courtesy photo]

Tasha-Rose instructs students at the Kamala Chaand dance studio. [courtesy photo]

Although Our Dancing Daughters hasn’t officially launched yet, the group hopes to start taking scholarship applications in January. While they received their Minnesota non-profit status as of Nov. 2, they are currently taking the needed steps to achieve 501c3 status in order to be eligible for more grant opportunities. In the meantime, Tasha-Rose, who is also the troupe leader for Kamala Chaand Dance Company, turns to crowdfunding to raise the initial funds needed to launch the program.

While Our Dancing Daughters is not a religious organization, Tasha-Rose is assisted by a board made up all Pagans and Witches. Board members include LaDonna Bartol, Laurie “Remedy” Howard, Breana Larson, and Becky Munson, with Tasha-Rose as the Executive Director.

So far they have raised $1,314 of their $10,000 goal on their GoFundMe site. Stacie Braford, who made a donation to Our Dancing Daughters, says, “This is an awesome thing you are doing! Love it. I wish we’d had access to something like this when I was young.”

The Wild Hunt talked to Tasha-Rose about her plans for Our Dancing Daughters, how her Pagan ethics guides her in this project, and why she believes this could be a valuable resource for at-risk teen girls.

Our Dancing Daughter's Executive Director Tasha-Rose

Our Dancing Daughter’s Executive Director Tasha-Rose

Cara Schulz: Why did you start Our Dancing Daughters? What was the inspiration?

Tasha-Rose: Our Dancing Daughters is a concept I have had for a lot of years. I have daughters and it initially started as a way to get daughters dancing with their mothers. Slowly it evolved in concept to where we are now.

CS: How will Our Dancing Daughters have a positive impact on at-risk young women?

TR: Our Dancing Daughters is designed to teach young women to dance cooperatively using the American Tribal Style format that I and two of my troupe mates are certified in. There is so much emphasis put on at-risk youth that they are on their own. We want them to learn interdependence. Additionally we are all taking crisis intervention training eventually, in order to better mentor these girls. Other components will be financial literacy, education accountability and getting into college. We hope to team up with other groups on occasion as well, namely The Emily Project, for education on healthy body image.

CS: Paganism and non-western styles of dance seem to go together. Why do yo think that is?

TR: I think it has a lot to do with the ability to trance out in this dance form. In ATS you have to be in the moment and communicating with the others dancers. That in itself is a form of trance I feel.

CS: How do your religious ethics come into play with this effort?

TR: My religious ethics have everything to do with this. I believe firmly in helping people to achieve their greatest self whenever possible. It can sound selfish I suppose, like I’m seeking accolades, but really I’m not. Self-empowerment comes from oneself. No one can do that work for anyone else, though I believe it’s each of our duties to be instrumental in the lives following ours, to make for a better world. Altruistic? Maybe. But I do what I can anyway.

CS: Who is Our Dancing Daughters open to and how will you assess eligibility for scholarships?

TR: We will open our applications up to anyone who wants to apply. There will be some focus on family income, since this program is in part focused on breaking the poverty cycle through empowerment. We will also be asking for teacher recommendations, hold a panel interview and ask that they write an essay for us. It isn’t necessarily only about those of limited financial means, however. There are young ladies from wealthier families who may not have involved parents and are suffering. We want to reach them, too.

CS: How long is your funding effort going on? How are the grant seeking efforts going?

TR: We have been working on raising funds for about 4 months now. We are just over 10% funded. We don’t have to raise the whole of it though, which is nice. Our grant research has opened lots of doors for us.There are lots of people who love to give money to projects like ours. We have two of our Executive Board going to a grant information meeting tonight in fact.

*    *    *

Tasha-Rose says the organization is at a major crossroads right now. Next week they have the opportunity, through the East Side Arts Council, to get into Washington High School to teach American Trial Style dance for a week. Tasha says, “It’s a really big foot in the door that we are all really excited about.”

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

Cara Schulz

Cara Schulz

Earlier this month I gave an overview of Cara Schulz’s candidacy for a city council seat in Burnsville, Minnesota. Schulz, a Hellenic Polytheist and staff writer for this publication, has long been active in politics. As a candidate for this non-partisan seat she has endorsed a “Socially Accepting and Fiscally Responsible” platform, and it looks like enough voters in Burnsville liked what they saw. Quote from her Facebook campaign page: “THANK YOU to everyone who volunteered, told their friends about me, and are heading to the polls today to vote. If you think people are selfish, not involved, or lazy … run for office – you will be disabused of those erroneous notions. I’ve been offered help before I could even ask and volunteers helped an insane number of hours. I’ve made some great friends and learned from kind mentors. I’ve met some incredible people from all over Burnsville. […] The final tally is in! Thank you to everyone who volunteered, sent me messages cheering me on, told others about me, and took the time to vote in the primary.” Schulz will now advance to the general election in November, where the top-two vote getters will fill the two vacant seats on the city council. Our congratulations go out to Cara! 

10557341_10203741099061740_6626525900185221594_nAuthor and Dianic Witchcraft Elder Zsuzsanna Budapest sent out a press release last week announcing that she had bestowed a blessing on Claudiney Prieto, part of Brazil’s Nemorensis Dianic Tradition, for his work on behalf of the goddess Isis. Quote: “I was greatly impressed by Claudiney Prieto in Brazil, who has successfully nurtured an Isis revival. I have blessed him to be a Priest of Isis, which he already is. I saw what he has done and I think he serves the Goddess with his personal leadership. Everybody loves the man. He is dynamite in circle. Such a man with ten years of experience richly deserves the blessing. Both sexes are part of the rituals and sacred plays and always have been. This fits us well. I connect with this because I am also a play write. The original Isis plays have all been translated. It will be great fun creating a religious experience within the medium of theater for this community.” Budapest went on to clearly state that this blessing was not a shift in her beliefs concerning gender and her tradition’s Dianic rituals. Quote: “Although there was some initial confusion about the blessing, it was clarified that he was awarded by her as an honoring of his work with the Goddess […]  Budapest honored Prieto and bound him as a priest to the Goddess within the constructs of Prieto’s own Nemorensis Dianic Tradition and not her own Dianic Tradition, which is women-born only.” The stated “confusion” and subsequent clarification is most likely related to the fact that Budapest’s form of Dianic Witchcraft is open to cisgender women only, and this blessing could have been interpreted as a move away from that ethos. Such a shift would have been dramatic news indeed, as Budapest has received criticism from within the Pagan community in the recent past for holding “genetic women only” rituals that exclude not just men, but also transgender women, at Pagan events that are open to the public.

green-faiths-3atransThe Covenant of the Goddess (COG), one of the largest Wiccan and Witchcraft-focused organizations in the United States, is holding their annual business meeting, the Grand Council, this week in Atlanta, Georgia. Grand Council, which is held in conjunction with an open-to-the-public event called Merry Meet, is where the sprawling consensus-based organization elects its board and decides on policy. I’ve personally held forth on why I think COG could have a vital role in Wicca and religious Witchcraft’s future, and The Wild Hunt has covered these meetings for the past three years. This year, Merry Meet will feature Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary as a special keynote speaker. Quote: “We are very excited to have Selena Fox as our Guest of Honor for Merry Meet 2014 and as our Friday Night Keynote Speaker. Selena has been a leader and mover in Interfaith for many years and has worked, and continues to work, tirelessly within the Interfaith Community. Join us for what is sure to be a lovely evening of good food, camaraderie, and our shared passion for ‘Standing on Common Ground’!” Stay tuned for a report on the event from Managing Editor Heather Greene in the near future.

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • Polytheist and spirit-worker Sarah Kate Istra Winter has announced the publication of a short booklet on working with animal bones. Quote: “Working with Animal Bones introduces the reader to the biological processes which form bone; gives advice on how to find bones in a natural setting, and subsequently identify and thoroughly clean them; discusses the types of crafts that can be made with bones; and explores the history and modern practices involving the sacred use of animal bones, including divination. An annotated bibliography and list of online resources for collectors are also included.” The book can be purchased at Etsy, or on Amazon.com.

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  • Over at the Patheos Pagan channel, The Staff of Asclepius blog has welcomed two new contributors: Nornoriel Lokason and CJ Blackwood. Quote: “Nornoriel Lokason is a thirtysomething Norse pagan and demonolater living in the Portland metropolitan area with spirits and a cat […] Nornoriel is a disability and LGBT rights advocate and in his spare time he enjoys thrifting, communing with nature, reading, and being an armchair historian. […] CJ Blackwood graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor’s in journalism and a minor in English […] She’s been a practing witch and Pagan for eight years. Her path began with eclectic Wicca, but has now taken her to dusky realms of warrior goddesses, creative goddesses, and crones.”
  • Hungarian Pagan band The Moon and the Nightspirit have released a new album entitled “Holdrejtek.” Quote: “Just like its predecessor ‘Mohalepte’, ‘Holdrejtek’ is much influenced by a deep veneration for and love of nature as far as its concept is concerned, while this time, mastermind Mihaly Szabo approaches the subject in a less romantic and more intellectual way. The lyrics are rife with the philosophical idea of simultaneous oneness and duality of micro- and macrocosm, which is attributed to Hermes Trismegistos and his screed ‘Tabula Smaragdina’.” You can purchase the album digitally on iTunes and at Amazon.com.

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

Cara Schulz is a resident of Burnsville, Minnesota, and has decided to run for one of the two open seats on the Burnsville City Council. Like many small city councils across America, the election is non-partisan, meaning the primaries coming up later this month will simply winnow the field down to four candidates from the current seven, regardless of each candidate’s personal party affiliation. The public will then vote two candidates into office this November.

Oh, and did we mention that Cara Schulz is also a Hellenic Polytheist?

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Longtime readers of The Wild Hunt won’t be surprised at this news, after all, Cara is a staff reporter here now, and has been an active part of the larger Pagan community for several years. Here’s a brief excerpt from a piece she wrote about her faith for Patheos.com back in 2011.

“I ‘toss the barley’ and am humbly grateful to do so. I pour wine as a libation, the same as my ancestors did. I feel sacred Hestia in the flame that burns in my hearth and in my heart and I reap the benefits of my careful tending to the flame. I pray before my home altar, make offerings to the Agathos Diamons, and ask Hermes to guard me as I venture out of the protections of my home. There is a spiritual rhythm to my life that gives me great personal strength. My household worship practices, such as cleaning out the entire house and getting rid of all broken or wanted things each month on the Deipnon, improve the quality of life for all my family members. These ancient rituals have profound meaning that I would have missed if I had dismissed them as old and pointless.”

Schulz has also been active in politics for a long time, most notably, she was an active volunteer for Libertarian Presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson in 2012. Like Gov. Johnson, Schulz is liberal on social issues, and conservative on fiscal policy, or as she puts it “Socially Accepting and Fiscally Responsible.”

“Although Cara wants citizens more involved in local government, she feels government has become too involved in peoples’ personal lives and businesses. Her general rule is, ‘If you aren’t hurting or cheating anyone, and you’re doing it on your property, it’s none of the government’s business.'”

In a local paper’s candidate questionnaire, Schulz expanded on her political philosophy, and how it would affect locals in Burnsville.

“The townhome I live in had a pool rule of No Food Allowed, which residents ignored. There are two possible approaches. What city councils normally do — assume the problem lays with you and force compliance. Or what our association did — realize there’s no damage or injury so the problem was with the rule and eliminate it. I’ll bring the second, common-sense approach to the City Council because residents aren’t the problem, but the solution.”

Not backed by the Democratic or Republican parties in this race, Schulz faces an uphill battle to get her message out to voters, though she has received an endorsement from the Liberty Minnesota PAC, a libertarian-minded group that hopes to steer the Republican party toward their ideals.

“Cara is a dedicated liberty activist involved with a variety of causes in and around her city. Cara is an Air Force veteran who does a wonderful job covering a variety of policy topics on Youtube videos […] According to Cara’s responses on Liberty Minnesota’s candidate questionnaire, Cara is focused on removing or replacing: Building codes, nuisance laws and blue laws in Burnsville.”

As their endorsement points out, Schulz has been posting videos to Youtube where she discusses various issues as they relate to her political philosophy.

The primary election will be held on August 12th, and if she makes it to the final four, no doubt more endorsements, money, and scrutiny, will flow towards her campaign (such is the way with elections). We will keep you posted as things develop.

[Editorial note: The Wild Hunt is dedicated to documenting instances of Pagans, Polytheists, and other members of our broad religious movement engaging themselves in the political process. Coverage of a candidate should not be confused with endorsement, and The Wild Hunt will not make official endorsements in any political race. Here are some instances of us covering Pagan political candidates: Rev. Kathryn Jones, Lonnie MurrayDeirdre Wadding, Erin Lale, and Jessica Orsini, among others.]

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna, co-founder of Coru Cathubodua, and one of the subjects of the documentary American Mystic, launched an IndieGoGo crowdfunding venture this week to fund a book project focused on the Celtic goddess Morrigan. In the span of just a few days, it has already managed to reach 70% of its $7,500 goal. Quote: My name is Morpheus Ravenna. I write the Shieldmaiden Blog and I’m known in my community for my service as a priest of the Morrigan, the Celtic Goddess of battle, prophecy, and Otherworld power. I’ve been studying these traditions for almost 20 years – my entire adult life. I’ve combed the volumes of Irish lore, ancient history and archaeology, and modern scholarly study for insights to help modern practitioners understand and connect with the Great Queen. My research notes encompass hundreds of pages of material, some of it never presented outside academic publications. And now I’m ready to share my years of study with you.” Here’s the Google Hangout video from the launch night event. Below, I’ve embedded the official pitch video

10378157_10202241520539235_4465347862056082361_nThe Wild Hunt’s own Cara Schulz, a member of Hellenismos, is running for a seat on the Burnsville City Council in Minnesota. In a recent post on her candidacy page’s blog, Schulz explains to voters about her faith. Quote: “Hellenismos is very family focused and primarily practiced in the home. It mainly consists of praying and burning incense. I find it spiritually fulfilling and beneficial to my life. It’s a comfort to me when I need comfort and a kick in the pants when I need that. What residents may want to know, and they have a right to know, is how will my religious views affect me as City Council member? Probably no more, or no less, than any other candidate. I have no intention of pushing my religion on anyone or allowing its tenets to dictate law. Our government is a secular government and I firmly support that.” Schulz added that “Burnsville residents have always been welcoming of cultures, faiths, and ideas, as long as you are open and honest with them. It’s one of the things I love most about Burnsville.” The Wild Hunt, as a rule, does not endorse candidates from any party in elections, Pagan or not, but we will wish our friend and colleague good luck in the race ahead. Find out more about Cara and her candidacy at the official candidate’s page. You can also find her on Facebook.

Cherry Hill SeminaryPagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary has released a free media presentation called “Don’t Look Away” to help non-professionals recognize and respond to abuse within their community. Quote: “In response to growing concern about accountability in our communities, Cherry Hill Seminary has released a free media presentation called Don’t Look Away: Recognizing & Responding to Abuse for non-professionals. Don’t Look Away was created to help individuals and small groups better understand the nature of sexual abuse and appropriate ways to respond, as well as what to do if you have been abused, yourself. Numerous resources are given, such as the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, National Child Traumatic Stress Network, National Domestic Violence Hotline, and others. The presentation also references a new Emergency Resources page on the Cherry Hill Seminary web site. The page is a quick reference, not only on sexual abuse, but on domestic violence, addictions, child and elder abuse and neglect, mental health, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” You can find the CHS Emergency Resources page here. CHS Executive Director Holli Emore added in the official press release that “for far too long, we have either not recognized the signs of abuse among us, or we have looked away, assuming, hoping, that someone else will take care of the problem. But those problems don’t go away by themselves.”

In Other  Pagan Community News: 

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

Sacred Paths Center, a Pagan community center serving the Minneapolis/St. Paul area (aka “Paganistan”), recently announced their imminent closure, a decision that came in the wake of a rocky 2011, one that featured an emergency fundraising campaign, and being temporarily closed  pending internal and external financial audits. PNC-Minnesota reporter Cara Schulz has just posted a lengthy and informative exploration of exactly what happened, talking with several individuals involved in running the center.

Newly elected (Feb.2012) SPC board members Nikki, Lola, Carol, Mary, Heather, and Emily. Not pictured, Teisha Magee

Newly elected (Feb.2012) SPC board members Nikki, Lola, Carol, Mary, Heather, and Emily. Not pictured, Teisha Magee

“At 6:25 pm (April 25th) the Executive Director dissolved the board of directors,” reads the last entry in the minutes of the final board meeting of Sacred Paths Center, a Pagan community center in Minnesota. A few days later, on Beltane, Executive Director Teisha Magee sent out an email saying the center closes May 31st.

“Why is Sacred Paths Center closing?” is a question asked by Twin Cities Pagans after reading the announcement.  That question is quickly followed by, “What can we learn from their experience?” by Pagan organizations such as Solar Cross Temple in San Francisco and the Open Hearth Foundation community center in Washington DC.  PNC-Minnesota spoke with past and present Sacred Paths Center (SPC) board members, volunteers, and their last financial auditor, looked over financial records and minutes of board meetings, and interviewed Teisha Magee to answer those questions.

In short, most everyone interviewed says the center’s Director and Board were not functional, the finances were in disarray, the building was too expensive, and the resulting drop in income after  two years of  road construction right outside their door didn’t help matters.

The entire article is essential reading for anyone curious as to how this closure came about, and a lesson for anyone thinking of opening their own community center. You may also want to read JRob Zetelumen’s obituary for the center, which looks at its accomplishments and historical importance.

The Sacred Paths Center opened for business Friday February 13th, 2009 and celebrated its grand opening Friday March 13, 2009. Within weeks, on Saturday April 4, 2009, the SPC began fulfilling its commitment to the community by hosting a fundraiser for local Elder Ken Ra who was facing financial crisis after a kidney failure, with a significant mass of the community coming together to support one of its own. It has since hosted countless rituals and community gatherings.

Although the SPC was not the first Pagan community center in the nation, or even locally, it’s closing leaves The Open Hearth Foundation in Washington DC as having the only Pagan community center in the nation.

The previous local community center was The New Alexandria Library. The New Alexandria Library opened in September of 2000 as a subscription library. It was a subsidiary of the Wiccan Church of Minnesota. Its stated purpose was “to create an archive that preserves our Pagan history, culture, and heritage, to ensure community access to hard-to-find and out-of-print materials, to provide access to a wide range of information and training materials, and to serve as a center of studies and research for scholars of Neo-Paganism.” The library quickly became a center for Paganistani activity. For financial reasons, the library closed its doors in July 2004.

The SPC was a direct successor of Evenstar Books, opened in 1979 by Loui Piper, which was a center of Pagan activity for almost 30 years. In 1991 Loui Pieper founded the Evenstar School of Sacred Paths and in October 1992 it received federal recognition as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization. After Piper’s retirement, Magee continued running the shop. Within a month of Evenstar closing, January 24, 2009, the SPC was opened around the corner, in its 5000 square foot facility after soliciting enough memberships and donations to be able to sign a lease, in the middle of a recession.

Considering how few Pagan community centers there currently are, the closing of Sacred Paths Center is an event that reverberates far wider than Minnesota. It is my hope that this closure will provide both inspiration and education to others looking to start similar initiatives where they live. With most Pagans rejecting a congregational model of worship, and due to the broad theological diversity under the umbrella of “modern Paganism,” multi-faith/tradition community centers may be one of the few viable communal physical spaces we can work towards. With the recent opening of The Open Hearth Foundation in Washington DC (which recently debuted its own library), and with several other groups looking into creating a permanent or semi-permanent physical meeting space, the “community center” experiment is still ongoing.

This Sunday is Earth Day. Originally spearheaded in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson as a national“teach-in” on urgent environmental issues, it has since become an internationally recognized holiday in192 countries. Earth Day is partially credited with jump-starting the modern environmentalist movement, and helping to pass legislation like the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. So naturally, it is stalking horse for Pagan religion and must be stopped at all costs, at least according to Minnesota State Representative Mary Franson from Alexandria. In a response to conservative activist Sheila Kihne on Twitter, Rep. Franson said the holiday “absolutely infuriates” her, calling it a “celebration of a Pagan holiday.”

Nor did Rep. Franson walk back her comments after they gained attention from local press, saying that people should “honor and give thanks to God…not Earth” and “big deal, so I don’t like Earth Day.” Of course, this isn’t simply about not liking Earth Day, all sorts of people don’t like Earth Day for a variety of reasons. This is about the idea, the meme, that Earth Day is a religious holiday, a Pagan religious holiday. Conservative pundits, politicians, and activists have been describing environmentalism, and especially the belief in human-caused climate change, as a “cult” for years now. This has led to the inevitable environmentalism equals Paganism accusation, the purest expression of which comes in the form of a documentary entitled “Resisting the Green Dragon.”

In it the speakers make it plain that this is a spiritual struggle, a battle between competing religions. Christianity on one side, and the“green dragon” of pagan environmentalism on the other. Participating in the video series is a roll-call of conservative Christian heavy-hitters, including Bryan “superstition, savagery and sexual immorality of Native Americans played in making them morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil ” Fischer, and David “paganism and witchcraft were never intended to receive the protections of the Religion Clauses” Barton. This view of the world reached a new height recently when then Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum accused Obama of adhering to a “phony theology.” When pressed on what he meant by that, he elaborated that our president might just be worshiping the Earth.

“…a world view that elevates the earth above man … I was talking about the radical environmentalists. [T]his idea that man is here to serve the earth.”

So this idea seems deeply entrenched, and increasingly popular as an attack on any who would attempt to seriously address the many challenges we face regarding our environment. Will it always be so? According to Lisa Weaver Swartz, author of “‘This Is My Father’s World': American Evangelical Ambivalence Toward Climate Change,” there is a “sharp decline” of this idea among evangelicals, “a reframing of environmental issues into existing evangelical frameworks.” This shift is typified by Rev. Richard Cizik, former chief lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals, who works to encourage environmental stewardship among Christians.

“Dominion does not mean domination. It implies responsibility — to cultivate and care for the earth, not to sully it with bad environmental practices. The Bible also teaches us that Jesus Christ is not only redeeming his people, but also restoring God’s creation. Obviously, since the fall of man and entrance of sin into the world, all of creation has yearned for its redemption from sin and death and destruction. That will occur with the Second Coming of Christ. But in the meantime we show our love for Jesus Christ by reaching out to and healing the spiritually lost and by conserving and renewing creation. Christ’s call to love nature is as simple as his call to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

But the environmentalism = Paganism meme dies hard, and the fact that it is still widely parroted by a variety of commentators, and entered into the 2012 presidential race, says that the tipping point within American evangelical culture, and conservative Christianity as a whole, is still a long way off. Until then, any who espouse a belief in climate change, who want stricter environmental regulations, who want to protect our national parks, runs the risk of being labeled an adherent of “radical environmentalism – a form of neo-paganism.”

Despite this, elements of immanence, pantheism, and various indigenous perspectives have become increasingly popular and “mainstream” in our modern culture. Bron Taylor, author of “Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future”, notes that this development is as “American as apple pie.”

“The remarkable language in the Ecuadorian constitution and in Boliva’s new Mother Earth law did not, however, result from indigenous Andean spirituality alone. They were also influenced by a generation of thinking and debate around the world about human responsibilities toward nature. In the U.S., much of this has taken place among philosophers and legal theorists, including in the landmark argument by Christopher Stone, Should Trees Have Standing?: Law, Morality, and the Environment, which was first published in theSouthern California Law Review in 1972. Indeed, I contend that the recent developments in Ecuador, Bolivia, and within the United Nations are as American as apple pie: they are to some extent in the spirit of a diverse range of American voices that led to the pioneering Endangered Species Act of 1973 signed into law by Richard Nixon. Yet today, those who call themselves conservative are generally hostile to environmentalists, often considering them to be politically or spiritually dangerous socialists or pagans.”

The danger of this rhetoric is that we cut ourselves off from the simple truth of our place in the natural world, to the interconnectedness of all things. Acknowledging that, and the responsibility it places on us, is not theology, or pantheism. To engage in this smear-tactic, to make simple reality controversial is increasingly dangerous. Rep. Mary Franson thinks she is defending her faith, but in reality she is politicizing a topic that should be a major concern for all human beings on this planet. The longer we fight this false battle over “paganism,” an imaginary green dragon for crusaders to defeat, the worse things will actually be when we finally are forced to face the ramifications of our inaction.

Welcome to a new supplemental feature here at The Wild Hunt, The Wild Hunt Podcast (you’re dazzled by the unique name, I can tell). This (hopefully) weekly podcast will take a deeper look at stories, links, and personalities that I feature in my daily updates. In this first episode of The Wild Hunt Podcast, we interview Elysia Gallo, Senior Acquisitions Editor for Llewellyn Worldwide, and Cara Schulz of PNC-Minnesota about the Minnesota Pagan convention Paganicon, now in its second year. In the second segment, we interview Caroline Tully from the University of Melbourne about her recently-published paper “Researching the Past is a Foreign Country: Cognitive Dissonance as a Response by Practitioner Pagans to Academic Research on the History of Pagan Religions.”

Elysia Gallo with her husband Tamas at Paganicon 2012. (Photo PNC-Minnesota)

Elysia Gallo with her husband Tamas at Paganicon 2012. (Photo PNC-Minnesota)

You can listen to, and download, the episode at Archive.org.

Segment Listing:

  1. Intro
  2. “Naiades” by Monica Richards from her new album “Naiades.”
  3. Interview with Elysia Gallo and Cara Schulz about Paganicon
  4. “Nereides” by Monica Richards from her new album “Naiades.”
  5. Interview with Caroline Tully about her Pomegranate article.
  6. Outro

Relevant Links:

I hope you enjoy the show, stay tuned for next time where I’ll discuss fascism and Dan Halloran’s potential run for Congress (not necessarily in that order).