Archives For New Alexandrian Library Project

btw2015logo-tshirt-3_med-2HUNT VALLEY, MARYLAND –When at any single Pagan conference with a robust lineup of workshops, panels, and rituals, a participant might find it difficult to choose what to attend and what to pass on. When two conferences join forces, those decisions become, at very least, four times as difficult to make. Such was the experience for 3-400 people who attended the combined Sacred Space and Between the Worlds conference in Maryland this past weekend.

These two events became one this year through a combination of cooperation and astrology. Sacred Space is an annual conference which is held around this time. Between the Worlds — not to be confused with an identically-named Midwest spiritual event — is scheduled astrologically, and like Sacred Space, takes place on the mid-Atlantic seaboard. This year, the stars aligned so that the two conferences would be in competition for attendees, speakers, and even organizers, as they have long had at least one board member in common. Instead of cannibalizing resources, the decision was made to combine the two into one whopper of an experience.

Between the Worlds won’t happen again until 2020, and it’s unlikely to ever overlap with Sacred Space again. The events have some common elements, which made the mashup manageable. Both have highly selective processes for choosing teachers, and require the content to be intermediate to advanced. Between the Worlds has handpicked teachers, while Sacred Space combines invited headliners with a proposal process designed to highlight local talent for a wider audience.

A harsh winter storm delayed many arrivals on Thursday. However, with only a few minor scheduling adjustments, the conference kept humming along. Friday and Saturday, the two full days, started with a plenary session during which a panel discussed a single topic before the bulk of the attendees. Friday’s topic was “alliances with the spirit world.” On Saturday a different panel discussed the nurturing spiritual communities.

Each panel was nearly two hours long, with a combination of debate, insight, and wit that highlighted the different perspectives of the panelists. Listening to Archdruid Kirk Thomas and respected author Diana Paxson debate why Odin seems intent on recruiting followers captured the Friday audience’s attention. Is he gathering fighters for Ragnarok, or trying to forestall it?

Ivo Dominguez, Jr, Michael Smith, and James Welch at the gala

The next morning’s discussion on community was equally as engaging. Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki explained that for all the dysfunction in American Pagan communities, they are far more evolved than what she is familiar with in England, where, “we Brits keep a stiff upper lip,” and don’t see much value in community at all. After identifying herself as the oldest person there, Ashcroft-Nowicki said, “I’m here to learn.”

Just as the days began with a single big session, they ended with the same, but those endings couldn’t have been more different. According to Sacred Space organizer Gwendolyn Reece, both Friday’s main ritual and Saturday’s gala were largely Between the Worlds in origin. Sacred Space does not have a large, main ritual at all, and of the gala, she remarked, “Between the Worlds does that better,” in part, because it costs extra to attend, allowing for live entertainment and plenty of food.

The entertainment came in the form of Tuatha Dea, a band that set the tone by musically calling the quarters and raising the energy in the room to a pitch that was joyous, but not so intense as to be overwhelming. In addition to a deep book of original and lively tunes, this band was able to perform everything from “Whiskey in the Jar” to “White Rabbit” with panache and flair. Their work complemented a silent auction to benefit the New Alexandrian Library, which included an astounding variety of items ranging from original art to gift baskets themed around popular Pagan holidays to ritual jewelry of exquisite beauty.

The main ritual, held Friday night, was a very different kind of energy; one that highlighted the strengths of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel. Attendees were encouraged to participate in a preparatory class, during which chants were taught and the layout of the ritual was explained through guided meditation.

The ritual itself began on time, characteristic of an organizational decision to reject “Pagan standard time” out of hand, with the doors being sealed against latecomers. The theme was one of personal transformation as expressed by the “Witch’s Pyramid.” It was built on the astrological significance of the event, which was scheduled during the seventh of a rare series of Pluto-Uranus squares that represent the deep transformation of Pluto coming together with the explosive change represented by Uranus. While much time was spent laying those foundations, when the energy did start flowing, the call to move beyond one’s comfort zone and act for change in the world was unmistakable. By the time the seals upon the ritual gates were opened, this energy could be seen burning in many an eye.

Altars at Sacred Space.

Altars at Sacred Space.

But the choices beyond those big sessions are always difficult. Preparing for possession or oracular work with Diana Paxson? The sorcerer’s tongue or journeying to the phosphorous grove with Christopher Penczak? Deepening understanding of the witch’s pyramid with Ashcroft-Nowicki, or Ivo Dominguez, Jr?

Monika Lonely Coyote tackled the difficult question of differentiating mental illness and spiritual experience in one session, and how to act as a psychopomp for a dying individual in another. There were classes on hexes, breaking curses, alchemy of breath and alchemy of sex. Kirk Thomas offered a class on sacred gifts, which discussed reciprocity with the gods and its relationship to hospitality in ancient cultures ranging from the Greek to the Irish. Byron Ballard’s “Hillfolks Hoodoo” couldn’t have been more different than T. Thorn Coyle’s idea of “Practical Magic.”  However, each teacher brought deep wisdom and displayed a mastery of the craft. Dorothy Morrison offered a class on money magic that was both practical and earthy. In short, when all the choices are beyond “Grounding 101,” every decision is a difficult one to make, an opportunity cost by which one piece of knowledge is gained, and another left behind.

In that way, this idea is similar to a point that Morrison made about magic, and why she does not include “an it harm none” in her spells. She noted that all magic comes at a price.

“If you work a spell to get a job interview, someone else’s resume fell into the trash,” Morrison said. Requiring that a spell harm no one takes away its power, she observed; better to understand that no magic is without consequence. Or, as Coyle put it at one point, “You have to own it.” That’s the kind of lesson taught at this conference: very little in the world is black and white, and the burden of the adept who walks in sacred space is to take responsibility for the many gradations between the worlds.

Building a Pagan temple or employing full time clergy may be easier, and more difficult,  than people think. It appears that if you have a core group of three to five devoted people willing to dedicate at least ten years of their life and to make monthly donations, your dreams of Pagan infrastructure can come true.

In this two part series, The Wild Hunt will look at several successful projects in order to see what they have in common. And, we’ll also look at a failed Pagan community center to see what went wrong. Today, in part one, we’ll focus on the larger projects, such as a temple and an archival library.

“We need Temples. Urgently. It brings us together as a community and we certainly need that. … I can’t imagine anything that would make me happier than to one day go to a Temple with my husband and children and bow before the statues of the gods. I crave so badly for the restoration of Paganism to the glory it once had. There is no structure, and I think we need that. We need structure, we need community.” – Hendrik Venter

There are many challenges to raising the funds needed to create and maintain a temple, a bit of sacred woods, a library, or employ a clergy person. There simply aren’t that many Pagans in the U.S., let alone a dense concentration of Pagans in any one town or city. What further dilutes those numbers is that Paganism isn’t one specific religion. It’s almost as many different religions as there are Pagans. The largest religion under the Pagan umbrella, Wicca, is one that encourages small groups and functions well using living rooms and backyards. Additionally, Pagans often have a self-perception as being economically poor. They also tend to be suspicious of requests for money and may not trust leaders to adequately manage money. The persons heading the project might not have the skills needed to handle large projects. Finally, another challenge is evaluating if your project addresses a want vs a need.

Hindu Temple of Minnesota
Let’s take a look at a temple built by a religion with fairly similar numbers or religious adherents as Paganism – the Hindu Temple of Minnesota.

There are presently 3 million Hindus in the USA compared to 1.2 million Pagans and Heathens. While the numbers are comparable, Hindus have an advantage that their faith is fairly homogeneous while Paganism isn’t. Yet if we look at how the Hindu Temple of Minnesota came into being, we can see what a very small, tight-knit group  can accomplish.

The Hindu Temple of Minnesota [courtesy photo]

The Hindu Temple of Minnesota [courtesy photo]

The Hindu Temple of Minnesota is currently a sprawling temple complex, but in the 1970’s it didn’t yet exist. There were a just a few Hindu families in the Twin Cities area and for almost ten years they met weekly in one another’s homes for worship and classes. In 1979, three families pooled a combined $20,000 ($79,000 in 2014 dollars) to put a down payment on an empty church to convert into a temple for worship and study. A total of ten families attended the first religious services in February1979.

The group formed a non-profit called the The Hindu Society of Minnesota and elected a Board of Trustees. They had a clearly defined mission to maintain the temple, foster a closer association of local Hindus, create a library, host workshops, and create a youth program. In 1983, a week long Hindu Youth Camp was added along with embodied statues of different Gods.

By the 1990’s, the size of Minnesota’s Hindu population had grown and the temple was no longer able to accommodate them. The temple was offering several weekly services, annual youth camps, weekly spiritual discourses, larger scale celebrations of major Hindu festivals, and an official temple publication.

Over the next 8 years, the Trustees began a search for a new property that would meet the needs of their growing membership. They found an 80 acre plot of land and the Board of Trustees voted to buy the land, and the purchase was made.

In 2003, the number of Trustee members had expanded to 130 and the temple celebrated breaking ground on the new site. In 2006, the first Kumbhabhisheka was performed at the 43,000 square foot Hindu temple. The complex also has an auditorium, 250 seat dining hall, 4 conference rooms, a board room, and a library and meditation room.

Takeaways from the Hindu Temple of Minnesota:

  • They took it slow, built trust with each other, and made sure they were a stable group before they launched the project.
  • As the temple was a need, not a want, they were willing to put a considerable amount of their own money to start the project.
  • They had a good relationship with the other seven Hindu families in the area and knew how much each was willing to donate per month.
  • They created a non-profit and gave Trustee members, who donated each month, voting rights.
  • They expanded slowly and added on services that appealed to their members in order to both attract new members and retain old ones.
  • The temple is, quite simply, the center of the Hindu community. It’s not only a religious place of worship. It’s a cultural and social center for the entire family from which members derive great value.

While the Hindu Temple of Minnesota was founded by only three families, those three families were able to come up with a considerable amount of money for a down payment. This runs up against a common Pagan self-perception – that most Pagans are very poor. Pagans aren’t poorer than the general population, in fact, they are slightly financially better off. Christians at most income levels donate and average 4% of their income each year to their church. If Pagans were to donate to religious organizations at the same level as Christians, the average Pagan making $30,000 would donate $1200 per year.

pagan income

Citation: Kirner, Kimberly. 2012 Pagan Health Survey II Dataset. Online communication, 1/28/2015.

I would support something locally if it could demonstrate that it is financially sound. Not so much that it already has financial backing but that it would be transparent about what it would do with the money I was giving. Perhaps something like a community center or a public temple/worship space. However, I have had far too many experiences where there was no accountability so I would be very hesitant … I am far more likely to donate money when I attend a Unitarian Universalist service than when I attend a Pagan event. I just haven’t seen much consistency in my experiences. Many of the Pagan groups I’ve been involved in don’t last very long and often have a lot of internal drama.” – Laura LaVoie

The New Alexandrian Library
The New Alexandrian Library, a research and reference facility focused on magic and the occult, is almost ready to open its doors and has begun moving its collection of rare papers, artifacts, and artwork onsite. The library is located near Georgetown, Delaware and is named after the Great Library of Alexandria famed throughout the ancient world as a seat of knowledge and a gathering place for intellectuals.

The New Alexandrian Library (NAL) hopes to follow in those footsteps. It’s taken the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, the group spearheading the creation of the library, 14 years to raise the funds and build the first building in the library complex.

James Walsh at the doors of the New Alexandrian Library [courtesy photo]

James Welch at the doors of the New Alexandrian Library [courtesy photo]

The group first announced the project in 2000 at their Between The Worlds Conference. They had initially drawn up a ten year plan, but the economic crash in 2008 delayed the start of construction by several years. The groundbreaking for the NAL was in December of 2011 and it took until December 2014 for the library to be ready to put books on the shelves. In total, the group has raised approximately $250,000 for the library.

Michael G. Smith, an Elder of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel and Treasurer of the ASW’s Board of Trustees, was very open about the funding for the library. He said the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel has 110 members, who come primarily from 11 ASW covens in the Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey areas and with two more covens forming in the Philadelphia area..

Smith said, “At the moment there are about 15 people who donate on a monthly basis to the library. These donations run anywhere from $10 to $50 per month. There are also about 10 people who donate between $200 to $500 periodically,” He also added that there are some people who made annual donations of several thousand dollars in the past and have pledged to do so in the future.

A few people have made one time donations in excess of $10,000. In addition, all proceeds from Annie Large’s A Cauldron Of Delight cookbook, Nicky LeBlanc’s The Living Goddess Project and Robin Fennally’s Qabalah books go to the library. They’ve even received a donation of stock, which ASW hopes will generate dividends. Smith says that while the majority of donors are active members of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, some donors don’t even live in the area.

Although not a clergy person, the library hopes to one day hire a Chief Librarian, with a small part-time administrative staff. Other staffing desires include a Chief Archivist, a Chief Preservationist, a Chief Researcher. Until they can solidify their income streams, like so many Pagan organizations, they’ll need to rely on volunteers.

When asked why the library has been so successful, Smith said, “People will support the things that speak to them mentally or emotionally. Some part of the project must touch and attract them. I have heard it said that we are not ‘people of the book’ and this is true enough. We are ‘people of an enormous number of books’ and the idea of a Library devoted to the study and preservation of esoteric matters of all kinds touches people both mentally and emotionally. That is certainly one of the reasons I have been a fervent supporter of the NAL project for these 14 years, since the very beginning. That there will be a collection of our history, our wisdom, our experiences, and yes, our books, moves people to want to be a part of it, to leave something behind after they pass beyond the Veil that will continue aid in the growth and evolution of the broad community that they love.”

Takeaways from the New Alexandrian Library:

  • Serve a strong recognized need. The NAL’s mission of preserving Pagan culture and history before it’s lost, not just a place to store books, is one most Pagans can easily understand.
  • Be in it for the long haul. The group raised funds for 12 years before they broke ground.
  • Have a wide enough base of members who trust your leadership and can be counted on for financial support.
  • Fundraise in person. By fundraising at their events, they are able to personally connect with donors.
  • Have a board with proven business and management skills.
  • Manage internal problems. While every group has moments of internal dissension and conflict, ASW and the board managing the library doesn’t do public displays of drama and stays very focused on its mission. Drama scares off donors.

How much money would something like the library or a temple need each year to sustain itself? We can get an idea by looking at the budget of a modest Christian church in the Pacific Northwest. The church needs an annual budget of around $200,000 to pay its clergy and pay all its operating expenses. Does $200,000 a year seem out of reach? It takes 102 members donating an average of $40 per week in the collection plate. Of course, a few members give a great deal more and most give quite a bit less.

“I would pay for nothing and want none of that.” – Mason Norsk Hest

Not all, over most, Pagans want temples or community centers or libraries. They most certainly don’t want to pay for clergy. For them such things either simply aren’t needed or they’re even seen as a spiritual detriment. “My temple is a forest,” has almost become a Pagan maxim.

Dr. Kimberly Kirner, Department of Anthropology at California State University, Northridge, says, “expanding infrastructure isn’t necessary if we keep a small, home-based meeting model and don’t mind that groups often die rapidly and then reform as something else. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

She says the need for infrastructure comes in when people want to expand past one on one relationships. Such as offer services to many people at once by a specially trained person or offer consistent community services. At that point you need to build beyond informal pass-the-hat models, “You can’t pass-the-hat among 12 people for taking care of an elder who gave their life to the Pagan community and barely scraped by, and now faces old age without retirement.”

She says no matter if you’re in a small, local group or appealing to the wider Pagan community, we need to “… think about what services we want and expect, how to clearly articulate to seekers/newbies what they can expect given our capacity, and what resources we need to accomplish our goals.”

Next week, in part two, we look at more modest funding efforts, and we’ll take a detailed look at why a community center and a Pagan temple closed down.

The New Alexandrian Library, a research and reference facility focused on magic and the occult, is another step closer to opening its doors. In early December, the library received its certificate of occupancy and is now ready to move its collection of rare papers, artifacts, and artwork onsite. The library is located near Georgetown, Delaware and is named after the Great Library of Alexandria famed throughout the ancient world as a seat of knowledge and a gathering place for intellectuals. The New Alexandrian Library (NAL) hopes to follow in those footsteps.

James Walsh at the doors of the New Alexandrian Library [courtesy photo]

James Welch at the doors of the New Alexandrian Library [courtesy photo]

It’s taken the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, the group spearheading the creation of the library, 14 years to raise the funds and build the first building in the library complex. The lengthy dedication needed to sustain an effort for this long was praised by Peter Dybing in his post on 10 Pagans Who Made a Difference in 2014.

In activism, it is always tempting to move from one popular cause to another as time passes. Few individuals have the dogged determination to take on a project that many see as “undoable”. Ivo [Dominguez Jr., Elder in the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel] has done just that, with his unwavering efforts in manifesting the New Alexandrian Library. This is no small task, building real infrastructure that will last for generations. In this library a legacy has been manifested for Pagans around the world. It is an outstanding accomplishment that will benefit the entire community. Let me also say that there were many people involved in these efforts, but being a list of “Ten Pagans” Ivo gets the nod for this effort. I suspect he will share the recognition around widely. The Pagan community will be filled with gratitude of their own for decades to come.

Michael G. Smith [courtesy photo]

The Wild Hunt talked with Michael G. Smith, an Elder of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel and Treasurer of the ASW’s Board of Trustees about the library, its upcoming opening, what precious and rare items patrons will be able to see, and what future expansion plans look like.

The Wild Hunt: The physical space is ready for shelves and books, how long has it taken, from conception, to get to this point?

Michael G. Smith: While the concept of the library began before then, we made the first announcement to the larger community at our 2000 Between The Worlds Conference. At the time we had a ten-year plan. Unfortunately, with the economic crash in 2008 many organizations experienced a sharp drop-off in donations and the NAL felt the pinch. This created a delay in our start of construction by several years. We held our groundbreaking ceremony in December 2011, poured the foundation in July 2012 and received our Certificate of Occupancy in December 2014. So, from the first announcement to completion of construction took 14 years.

TWH: The building was built in a modular fashion, so this building is just the first of several planned – what will be housed in this building and what will be housed in future sections?

MGS: The initial building will house the Library’s collection, its museum, space for meetings, workshops, and rituals along with space for the restoration and preservation and administrative functions. The plan, as time goes on, is to expand the Library collection into its own building(s) and the museum into its own building. There are ideas for housing for visiting scholars and practitioners, separate spaces for ritual and other magical experimentation, and additional meeting space. With this anchoring building as a foundation, the Library will expand to meet the needs of the community and the collection. It will be interesting to see what the future both brings and requires.


Interior space [courtesy photo]

TWH: What do you consider some of your most precious pieces the library will house?

MGS: That is a very difficult question to answer. We have been given so many rare and one-of-a-kind pieces that it is hard to say what is most precious. How do you compare the elemental paintings created by Dion Fortune for her first Temple to 3000 year old Egyptian votive statuary? How does one compare the Rosicrucian Edition of Manly P. Hall’s “Secret Teachings” to a Monica Sjoo original painting of the Goddess Brigid? How does one compare decades worth of private newsletters and documents of long-gone pagan organizations to each other? All of the items that the Library will house are precious in their own way.

TWH: You are planning on cataloging the library books, pamphlets, etc. Do you have staff that are librarians? And are they paid staff?

MGS: Fortunately there are several members of the ASW who are professional librarians. Their services and guidance will be invaluable in the coming years. At the moment all people working to get the NAL set up are volunteers, though there is a plan to have at paid Chief Librarian sometime in the future to more directly manage the Library’s collection.

TWH: I’ve read on your website that you plan to accept, and restore, rare documents. Document restoration is a very specialized field. And preserving documents creates special challenges. What resources do you have to do this?

MGS: The NAL is within easy access to the University Of Delaware which offers a superior art and document restoration degree. We have been in contact with UD in hopes of creating a working partnership between the NAL and that program. In addition, the NAL currently as several friends who do the kind of restoration work we that is an important part of our function. We must start off slowly, of course, and it will take time to get such a program up and running now that there is a facility which can house the needed resources.

Top floor of the New Alexandrian Library [courtesy photo]

Top floor of the New Alexandrian Library [courtesy photo]

TWH: How much has been raised, and spent, in total for the NAL so far?

MGS: As for raised and spent so far, I am doing a final construction audit at the moment for the Board of Trustees. That said, it has taken approximate $250,000 to build the NAL building to fulfill the environmental and structural requirements needed to house such a collection. This has been done solely with the donations over the past 14 years and the ASW has no loan against the facility. The building itself sits on land donated to the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel which is currently valued at around $300,000. Both the building and the land are free and clear of any lein or debt.

TWH: Although several people have planned to leave the proceeds from their estate to the library, the NAL may not see those funds for several decades. How will the library keep its doors open in the meantime?

MGS: There is still a need for ongoing fundraising and we will continue to do that work. The ASW hosts a variety of smaller events each year and the 2015 Between The Worlds Gala is a fundraising event for the NAL, for example. There are also people who make regular monthly and annual contributions to the Library. The nice thing about all of these donations is that now construction is completed such funds will be shifted over to the functions and maintenance of the Library proper. There are also plans for more permanent income streams, such as the launch of a small press and building relationships with other organization to provide services. In the near term, with volunteer help and very low maintenance costs, we have the income to fulfill our responsibilities and plan for the future.

TWH: How soon until the library has its Grand Opening?

MGS: A good question! We are looking at sometime in the Spring 2015 though an exact date has not been set. If anyone would like to see the Library before then they should contact us and we will see if we can arrange something.

TWH: Is there anything you wish to add?

MGS: In our Tradition the hard work that a person does in preparation for initiation brings that person to a new beginning. The Initiation is the start of the work, not the end. All of the hard work that so many people have done in support of the New Alexandrian Library, to bring this dream to life, has brought us to Initiation of the real work of the Library. This is a beginning, not an end, and there is so much work for the NAL to do for the broader magical communities from which it sprang. We are certain that the NAL will provide much needed resources and that in doing so will encourage more and more people to be a part of its work, both for themselves and for their communities. Let us be about it.

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The library has launched a new fundraising campaign for its 2015 Gala to be held at Sacred Space on Mar. 7 at the Hunt Valley Inn in Maryland.

[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. Our 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!]

justice graphicOn Dec. 4, Crystal Blanton, Wild Hunt columnist, Priestess, writer, and long-time activist, issued a challenge to the collective Pagan communities, saying “This is an opportunity to stand up and support the people of color within the Pagan community, and society, by saying… we see you. We are not ignoring you, we are not staying silent.” Over the past four days, a growing number of individuals, groups and organizations have responded by publishing statements of solidarity, open letters and personal blog posts.

The Wild Hunt will be covering this story in detail in the coming week as others organizations and individuals are currently finalizing their own words. Some of statements already published include those by Starhawk, T. Thorn Coyle, Pantheon Foundation, CAYA covenSolar Cross, Ár nDraíocht Féin, and more. Stay tuned for more on this subject.

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The New Alexandrian Library announced that it has received its certificate of occupancy. The statement read, in part, “This means we are now ready to do the final walkthrough with the contractor; to begin the process of moving in shelves, furniture, books and artwork; and to think about a grand opening. We want to thank everyone who worked so hard and so long to make this dream a reality, who believed that the ASW could create such a resource for the Magickal Community.”

Additionally, the library has launched a new fundraising campaign for its 2015 Gala to be held at Sacred Space on Mar. 7 at the Hunt Valley Inn in Maryland.

*   *   *

The Druid NetworkThe Druid Network announced that it has compiled and recreated the shared liturgy of the now closed Solitary Druid Fellowship (SDF). Shut down in September, SDF was an experimental project for solitary Druids and an extension of Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF). As explained on the Druid Network website, “The Fellowship provided free liturgies for each of the Eight High Days of the Pagan Wheel of the Year, each based on ADF’s Core Order of Ritual.”

In the spirit of digital archiving and preserving important work, members of The Druid Network have uploaded all of these liturgies in one location for easy download. Organizers said, “It was such an excellent resource – not only for ADF druids – but for the whole community.” They also added that, if SDF should re-emerge, they will be happy to pass on the files to the new founders.

In Other News:

  • Over the past two weeks, Facebook has shut down several Pagan accounts as part of the enforcement of its “real name policy.” A number of people were targeted in this sweep, including authors Raven Grimassi and Storm Constantine. Speculation continues as to how and why this happens.
  • Cherry Hill Seminary has announced the opening of registration for spring classes. This registration is for both the masters courses toward a degree, as well as they four-week insight classes for non-seminary students.
  • Rootworker and Orisha Priest Lou Florez will be taking a pilgrimage to Nigeria. In an interview with Erick DuPree, Florez said, “…an invitation has been extended to travel to Nigeria in February with an esteemed elder and teacher, and to take the high priesthood initiation in IFA, the root of all Orisha religions. In addition to receiving this once-in-a-lifetime spiritual elevation, I will also train in traditional medicine making, and herbalism from elder priestesses and priests.” Florez has started a fundraising campaign to help fund the trip.
  • The deadline for submission to Paganicon 5 and Twin Cities Pagan Pride annual Third Offering sacred art exhibition is drawing near. As organizers explain, “Inspired to gather and create beauty as our third offering to our Gods and our community, this exhibition welcomes all types of visual media by artists who are capable of expressing a Pagan or polytheistic aesthetic.” The deadline is Jan. 1. The exhibition will be held at Paganicon, Mar.13-15.
  • Tea & Chanting Sangha is “is doing 100,000 recitations of OM MANI PADME HUM to create healing and change regarding police brutality:” The organization “integrates Pagan and Tibetan Buddhist practices.” Throughout the month, organizers will tally the number of recitations, whether recited together or individually. They encourage people to participate or join them on line. As of Dec. 7, they have done 13,075 recitations.

That’s it for now. Have a nice day!

In recent months there have been many discussions and debates about infrastructure in the wider Pagan movement and our collective ability to see Pagan values manifested in the wider culture. In my many years covering our family of faiths I’ve seen many ambitious plans hatched regarding new institutions which have met with varying degrees of success and sustainability. It is easy, especially within a religious movement that often values decentralized grass-roots initiatives, to become skeptical about impressive-sounding plans and announcements. 

However, there’s one campaign I’m not skeptical about, that I think is a good idea. That project is the The New Alexandrian Library. It’s headed by a solid, stable, group of folks who know what they are doing, and are focused on a clear, definable, goal. I believe that initiatives like the New Alexandrian Library will be vital for preserving our past, as university and private collections won’t be sufficient to fully preserve or document our movement’s legacy. Wanting to explore what’s driving this project in a deeper fashion, I was lucky to conduct this interview with Ivo Dominguez Jr., an Elder in the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, and one of the driving forces behind this library project.

Ivo Dominguez Jr.

Ivo Dominguez Jr.

For those who haven’t heard about this project, what is the New Alexandrian Library project, and why should Pagans care about its construction?

The New Alexandrian Library, located in southern Delaware, is in its final stages of construction. The physical structure itself is a highly durable concrete dome. It will serve as a research library, a lending library, a museum, an archive, and as a hub for the preservation and the evolution of pagan culture. Books, periodicals, newsletters, music, media, art works, artifacts, photographs, digital media, etc., will all be carefully cataloged and cross-referenced to ease the work of research and study. The Library will work to restore and to preserve rare and damaged documents. The history of our many interrelated spiritual communities will also be collected for the future.

The content of the library will also be made available via internet to the greatest extent possible (respecting copyrights, etc.) to be a resource for the entire esoteric community. The NAL will also serve as the library of record for formal esoteric religion studies at a variety of institutes of higher education including The Cherry Hill Seminary to assist them in meeting accreditation criteria. The New Alexandrian Library will be open to all, and will engage in inter-library loan with similar projects elsewhere. Some extremely rare materials will not leave the library, but will be scanned.

It is being built in a location that has the benefit of a beautiful woodland site while being a reasonable distance to many metropolitan population centers. It is about 2 1/2 hours away from Washington DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. It is about 3 1/2 hours to New York City, 4 hours to Richmond, and 7 hours to Boston. There are also plans for on-site housing in the future.

Plans for the New Alexandrian Library

Why should Pagans care about the New Alexandrian Library? If you’re a student, a teacher, or researcher, then the NAL will be an amazing resource to further your efforts. If you want to be in the presence of art, ritual objects and books that belonged to notable figures in our history, then you will want to make a pilgrimage to the museum component of the NAL. If you care about trying to capture the memories of how our various emerging religions came into being over the last century, then you’ll be happy about all the ephemeral material that we are collecting and preserving. If you want some good news about the power of long-term commitment in our community, then the NAL could inspire you.

Can you talk a bit about the progress you’ve made so far, and how the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel is managing to cover the costs of construction?

This project was announced at the Between The Worlds Conference of 2000. The 30 acres that the library sits upon was bought and paid for by members of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel. There is no mortgage on the property. So far about 85% of the funds to date have been either donated by ASW members or raised through fundraising events such as workshops, conferences, the sale of chant CDs and books, etc. the rest has been through donations from individuals, organizations, and crowd-funding. We’re in phase one which is the building of the first part of the library which is a two-story concrete dome with about 3000 square feet of floor space. This is the first in a series of several buildings as it was more financially realistic to plan for adding buildings in the future rather than trying to collect enough money to build one huge structure from the outset.


At the time of this interview the interior walls are being painted, and shortly the floors and the fixtures will be installed. Progress has been slower than we would have liked, but we have been paying as we go. Since there will be no debt to pay off, it will be easier for the project to continue in the future.

The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel is a Wiccan organization. Will NAL focus primarily on Wicca, or will it have a broader focus? Will it include material from other Pagan, Polytheist, Heathen, or Magickal groups?

We are building a library focused on the mystical and esoteric teachings of all religions with an emphasis on Pagan, Polytheist, Heathen, or Magickal paths in all their forms, but our mission is broader than that. We are also collecting the esoteric teachings of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. Once the NAL is open and running we will also be creating an Advisory Board of people from a broad range of backgrounds and interests.

I know NAL recently received books and papers from Judy Harrow’s estate. What are some other notable elements in NAL’s collection at this stage? How can individuals reach out to NAL if they feel they have important papers or publications to share with your institution?

In addition to Judy Harrow’s legacy, we have received donations from Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, Macha Nightmare, Katherine Kurtz, Shakmah Winddrum, and many other notables in the broader esoteric community. We also received the entire library of the Theosophical Society of Washington DC when they closed down their library. Not all of the donations are books. We have received original artwork, ritual robes, magical tools, old photographs, correspondence, newsletters, ancient Egyptian artifacts with proven provenance, jewelry, and much more.

Dolores Ashcroft Nowicki with donated Dion Fortune paintings.

Dolores Ashcroft Nowicki with donated Dion Fortune paintings.

I am particularly delighted by Dolores & Michael Ashcroft-Nowicki’s donation of four paintings of the Archangels that were created by Dion Fortune, and that once hung in her temple space. We also have many other collections promised to us in people’s wills. In the case of a death, we will always take donations now, but we have so many things in storage right now that if you can hold off a bit longer we would be grateful. As soon as we are up and running we will be very interested in receiving further donations of books and materials. Please consider naming the new Alexandrian library in your will so that your collection can serve the community when you no longer need it. Also it is often hard to predict what will be important in the future, so the ephemera, newsletters, flyers, posters, photographs, and recordings from smaller groups or lesser known individuals also need to be preserved as all these things make up the culture of our many communities.

Many Pagans are skeptical about movement towards institutions and infrastructure, could you talk a little about why they shouldn’t be skeptical of NAL? What is it that makes NAL essential?

If you have no personal need for institutions and/or infrastructure, then don’t participate in their creation. If over time you find that you are deriving benefit from the resources provided by Pagan institutions and/or infrastructure, then consider giving to them to balance the exchange. If they have no appeal for you, live and let live.

You’ve probably seen some variation of the internet meme:

Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t get one. Don’t like abortions? Don’t get one. Don’t like drugs? Don’t do them. Don’t like sex? Don’t have it. Don’t like your rights taken away? Don’t take away anyone else’s.

I would add: Don’t want Pagan institutions and/or infrastructure? Don’t block the way of those that do.

The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, the sponsor of this project, celebrated its 30th year as an organization in February 2014. This is a good long run for any kind of organization, and is quite exceptional for a Pagan organization. Community service is an important part of our group’s culture, and we fully expect and intend to be continuing our work 100 years from now. Many similar projects have failed, not for a lack of vision or need, but from a lack of organization and practicality. We were in existence as a group for 15 years before we decided to take on this project. If the skepticism about the NAL project is about continuing the funding once it’s open, then I’ll point out that we intend to continue fundraising in perpetuity, and that several individuals have already named the NAL as the beneficiary of their life insurance or their entire estates in some cases.

10156015_10152359299887410_458860695135604823_nWhat is your long term vision for this project?

Like the original Great Library of Alexandria, the schools of Qabala in medieval Spain, and the flourishing of esotericism that occurred in renaissance Italy, the diverse confluence of minds and resources would result in great leaps forward in theory and practice. There will be many conversations between people of different traditions that will result in greater intellectual vitality and new awarenesses for all. No doubt people will gather in the meditation garden, go out to lunch together, etc. The benefits of these face to face encounters are incredible. In a way, it is like an esoteric conference that never ends. The NAL will be one of the cornerstones of a new magickal renaissance. We hope that many other similar sorts of Pagan infrastructure will be created by various groups across the globe. The benefits of this growing network of resources for future generations is incalculable.

One of the great triumphs of the original Alexandrian Library was the creation of the first card catalog (actually clay and wood tablets). I hope that one of the New Alexandrian Library’s great triumphs will be a systematization of esoteric knowledge in a comparable manner. It is now a clichéd complaint that most of the esoteric books available are basic and aimed at the mass-market. That is the nature of the publishing industry, and we should expect little more. More advanced materials are usually published by university presses and by publishing houses owned by charitable or religious institutions where profit is not the primary motive. I hope that The New Alexandrian Library will in time either directly publish such works or facilitate the bringing together of the people and groups to engage in such activities.

Finally, in a broader sense, what is your vision for Pagan institutions and infrastructure? Obviously you’d like to see NAL thrive, but in what kind of Pagan community? What are your hopes?

Self-determination and self-reliance require having your own resources. I would like to see more ritual space, workshop space, performance space, schools, gardens, and woodlands, etc. that are owned by us. There many times when it is convenient and appropriate to rent or to borrow space from friends such as the Unitarians, but it is always on their terms and within their comfort zones. I’ve also seen Pagan businesses and organizations that are doing well suddenly find themselves homeless because the owner of a facility raises the rent or simply tells them to leave. There have also been pagan library projects that have closed because they were unable to keep up with the rent, and in some cases valuable materials were pitched into the dumpster by landlord.

Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary with Assembly Elders at NAL's foundation.

Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary with Assembly Elders at NAL’s foundation.

I also think we have to get over the connotations that words like institution and infrastructure have developed in the Pagan community. A food co-op is an institution. A community garden is an institution. A campground for festivals and gatherings is infrastructure. Institutions and infrastructure need not call forth images of huge battleship gray buildings with people scurrying about like drones in a hive.

An institution is a resource designed to survive past the life or the commitment of a handful of people. When we speak of infrastructure, what we’re really talking about is solid, tangible, resources that enable and facilitate our dreams and endeavors. If fear of what something might become is reason enough to prevent its coming into being, then we might as well settle our affairs and exit planet. From my perspective, the challenge we have right now is to decide that we will take the challenge of becoming truly present in the world. Will there be corruption, abuses, errors, and failures? Yes, there will be, and that is part of the cost of the work of mending and evolving. Will there be reforms, progress, and new horizons? Yes, and we will get those by also cleaning out the inevitable muck that arises by doing the work.

Recently there were a flurry of blog posts and discussions about how successful or unsuccessful Pagans have been in having an impact on environmentalism. What I’d like to add to those discussions, is that our impact on the matters of the world are reduced if we do not have power that is grounded in tangible resources. Ideas, will, and passion can fuel individual activism, and this is a good thing. However if we do not have the resources to buy land to preserve it, to pay lobbyists, to have staffed organizations that monitor legislation, public opinion, etc., then we are missing part of what is needed to have power and presence in the world.

Let me give you another example. I was extremely involved with AIDS/HIV work in the 80s and 90s. I started as an activist, helped found an organization, and served for several years as the executive director of Delaware’s primary AIDS organization. Institutions and infrastructure were necessary to make progress, and to push back against circumstances that would take away the steps forward that had been made. There are probably a hundred and one worthy tasks and goals that can never progress past a certain point without our own institutions and infrastructure.

I hope the New Alexandrian Library will be one of the many solid institutions that encourage others to dream big and to work hard.

Contact and donation information for the New Alexandrian Library project can be found here. 

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!

ll prep at NAL.The New Alexandrian Library, a project of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel which hopes to create an institution that will become “one of the cornerstones of a new magickal renaissance,” has launched a new crowdfunding venture to help pay for the final phase of construction. Quote: We are building a library focused on the mystical and esoteric teachings of all religions with an emphasis on Paganism in all its forms. We are also collecting artifacts, art, ritual objects, etc. for the museum component of the New Alexandrian Library. The first building is in progress and we need your help to finish construction […] We already have several important collections of books in storage including the entire library from the Theosophical Society of Washington, DC. Judy Harrow, of blessed memory, just left us her library as well.” It’s been a long journey, but this ambitious project is finally reaching the finish line on their first structure. You can read all of our coverage of NAL, here.

Morning Glory Zell

Morning Glory Zell

The special commemorative edition of Green Egg Magazine dedicated to the life and work of Morning Glory Zell, a Pagan elder and teacher who passed away this past May, is now available. Quote: “Contained herein is the official Green Egg Morning Glory Memorial issue. We are departing from our usual format in order to include all of the photographs, memories, biographies and videos that people have sent to us from all over the world to honor Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart. It was put together with much blood, sweat, and tears and was the most difficult issue we’ve ever done. Morning Glory was our good friend and she considered my husband Tom to be her best friend. We cried and mourned her passing a lot as we wrote our articles, poured through photos of her and had too many memories of her stirred up to write about here; indeed if we had included all of our memories, we would still be writing and would have run into literally hundreds of pages.” A free PDF version is also available, here.  Contributors include LaSara Firefox Allen, Selena Fox, Oberon Zell, and many more.

Ronald Hutton

Ronald Hutton

Ethan Doyle White continues his interview series at Albion Calling with Professor Ronald Hutton, author of “Pagan Britain,” “The Triumph of the Moon,” and other works.  Here’s Professor Hutton speaking about his future plans: “I have a big one on the go at present, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, of a comprehensive study of the concept of the witch, in a global, ancient and folkloric setting, to understand more fully the context of the early modern witch trials. This is of course inspired by the work of Continental historians and folklorists such as Carlo Ginzburg, Éva Pócs, Wolfgang Behringer and Gustav Henningsen, and as such is an approach which has been much less favoured by English-speaking counterparts. It will, however, inevitably have some differences from the work of these Continental colleagues, in making a more comprehensive survey of the evidence, emphasising regional differences much more heavily, and relying less on modern folklore collections to plug gaps in earlier evidence. I have six people on my team, the others consisting of a distinguished Classicist, Dr Genevieve Liveley, a medievalist, Dr Louise Wilson, and three research students, working respectively on Italy, male witches and the animal familiar. Together we should produce three books, mine being the largest and the broadest in its scope, and three doctoral theses with resulting spin-off publications, in three to four years.” 

Covenant of the Goddess

Covenant of the Goddess

Covenant of the Goddess (COG) national interfaith representatives Don Frew and Rachael Watcher have been posting updates from the United Religions Initiative’s 2014 Global Council and the subsequent Global Indigenous Initiative. Quote: “We talked about how sacred items are treated as ‘art’. His people were part of the Nok civilization, which produced amazing terra cotta figures. Elisha said that when sacred images are recovered by the Nigerian government from foreign museums, they go into museums in Nigeria when they should go back to the people they came from, to take their proper, traditional place in religious ceremonies and sacred sites. Why does plundering a sacred site suddenly turn sacred images into ‘art’? We talked about how the same ideas I mentioned above could be applied to create collaboration between national museums and local stewards of sacred artifacts.” There’s a lot more at the link, including a line-up of who’s attending the indigenous initiative. Fascinating accounts from boots-on-the-ground interfaith work.

In Other Pagan Community News: 

An album released by Lux Eterna Records.

An album released by Lux Eterna Records.


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

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!

starhawk 5 19 04


Environmental activist Jon Young, founder of the Wilderness Awareness School, and Starhawk, activist and author of “The Spiral Dance,” recently took part in a discussion with The Pachamama Alliance concerning environmental justice, social justice, and “awakening to our original design.” Quote:  “Starhawk sheds light on creative ways of making rituals for passages to the natural world, involving art, dance, senses, and smells. We as humans, can truly engage through ritual in a natural space. This can connect each of us to the human community to celebrate meaningful human passages and the natural world. She recounts learning to sit in nature and put herself in a state of consciousness so she can take in what’s going on around her. This allows the the natural world to really speak on a very deep and profound level. She recalls her introduction to permaculture coupled with spirituality awareness and how John Young’s work helped her access the important things in her life.” I’ve embedded the Youtube video recording of the discussion below.


Pantheon FoundationThe Pantheon Foundation, which provides support to Pagan organizations and initiatives, has announced the creation of The Diotima Prize. Quote: “The Pantheon Foundation announces The Diotima Prize to help support the educational goals of one Pagan student who is currently in an accredited seminary program. The merit-based Prize is named for Diotima of Mantinea, the philosopher and priestess who is the teacher of Socrates in the Symposium of Plato, explaining to him the path of Divine ascent through the contemplation of Eros and Beauty. We invite all 2nd year, or later, committed Pagan Master of Divinity students at accredited seminaries in the United States to write an essay on the nature of Paganism and ministering to Pagans in a religious context.” In addition, an IndieGoGo campaign has been launched to help fund this initiative. Quote: “By giving a deserving student a modest $1000 scholarship, we as a community can help to alleviate some of the burden of a person who will then take on being of service to us when their education is complete. We are not only investing in their future, we are investing in our own.” [Note: The Wild Hunt is one of the organizations that receives 501c3 fiscal oversight of the Pantheon Foundation.]

Plans for the New Alexandrian LibraryThe New Alexandrian Library, a project of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel which hopes to create an institution that will become “one of the cornerstones of a new magickal renaissance,” continues apace with the construction of their Delaware-based dome structure. They’ve now reached the drywall hanging-phase, and are asking for donations to continue the work. Quote: “We are at the drywall hanging stage of the construction process, please help us preserve our history through your donation. This is a pay as we go project with no bank loan so as not to burden the next generation with debt.” At NAL’s official Facebook page, they’ve been posting photos of their progress. Donation information can be found, here. You can read all of The Wild Hunt’s coverage of this project, here. You may also want to check out Heather Greene’s recent editorial on the importance of archiving, which mentions the NAL project. Quote: “Similarly, in southern Delaware, the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel is raising money to finish the construction of the New Alexandrian Research Library (NAL). The ‘Library will be collecting materials from all religious traditions focusing on their mystical and the spiritual writings.’ Founders hope that NAL will serve as both a functional community and research center.”

ll prep at NAL.

Drywall prep at NAL.

 In Other Pagan Community News:

  • The latest issue of Correspondences: An Online Journal for the Academic Study of Western Esotericism (volume 2, number 1) has just been released online. Quote: “Welcome to the second issue of Correspondences, the first (and to date only)open access journal for the academic study of Western esotericism. In our last editorial we invited you to learn about the history and purpose of this journal, and we are happy to be able deliver another issue of cutting-edge research into what is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and up-andcoming fields of research in the humanities.”
  • Pagan blogger Rebecca (aka Mad Gastronomer) proposes a food-not-bombs-style initiative for local Pagan communities. Quote: “Once a week, some of you get together, cook up some simple food — a lot of it, fifty to a hundred meals’ worth — go to some busy space, like a park or a community center (the HKs used the student union courtyard), set up tables, and give it away. Free. Just… feed people.” 
  • Wild Hunt columnist Rhyd Wildermuth is raising funds so he can travel to the Polytheist Leadership Conference. Quote: “From July 11th to July 13th, a group of gods-worshipers are attending a conference in Fishkill, NY where we’ll be discussing what precisely we’re doing, how to do it better, and more coherently for others.  Gods seem to be flooding back into the world, or we’re noticing them more, and the point of this gathering is to figure out what this all means for ourselves, each other, the world, and the gods. I submitted a proposal and was accepted as a presenter, but I don’t yet have a way to get there.  So I’m asking for your help.” If he makes his goal, we can have him share his experiences at TWH! Which I think would be cool!
  • A new Pagan site,, has launched in a “beta” version. Quote: “ represents an attempt to outline a distinctly Neo-Paganism, which is distinct from both devotional and reconstructionist polytheisms and from traditional esoteric witchcraft.”


  • Brandy Williams reviews the newly-released volume of the Abraxas journal. Quote: “The breadth of content is impressive. Literary editor Christina Oakley Harrington points out that the contributors span Europe and America, and their essays touch on the ancient world as well as the modern. She did not point this out, but I was pleased to see that a significant number of contributors are women and one identifies as metagender, as so often esoteric conversation is dominated by men’s conversation (and white men at that).” Get your own copy here.
  • The Pagan Unity Festival (PUF) in Tennessee has issued a press release about their lineup, and a cancellation. Quote: “Oberon Zell was scheduled to present, but the failing health of Morning Glory has altered where his presence and focus need to be. This news is very sad, and we send out our love and support to them both and their family. We will be offering Oberon’s latest book for sale at the festival and all proceeds will go to him and Morning Glory.” PUF starts this Thursday.

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

Before beginning I’d like to express my enthusiasm for the future of The Wild Hunt. Writing for and about this extended community has been both challenging and invigorating. One of the perks of the job is in the education. Every time I write an article or retell someone’s story, I learn something new. That’s the gift that I receive in return for my time and effort. In addition, I am ever thankful to Jason for instilling his trust in me to help usher in a new decade for this amazing resource.

That brings me to the subject for the day: resources or, more specifically, archival resources. Over the past 10 years Jason has been cataloging Pagan news. The Wild Hunt has become an historical archive containing data on many past events. Each post is a point in time providing a snapshot of what’s going on – the good and the bad; the progressive and the not so progressive and the downright ugly. It catalogs our successes and our failings as well as capturing the whimsy in celebration and expansion.

Photo Credit: Flickr's timetrax23

Photo Credit: Flickr’s timetrax23

Archival research has always been essential to much of my work and that remains true to this day. As I child I was told to never make a statement without 3 supporting facts. My teacher would often say, “Prove it.” I took her advice to heart and will do an excruciating amount of digging before making any type of claim. Now I find something very exhilarating in the finding of the “tiny needle in a haystack” after hours digging through archival material.

However the preservation of historical data serves more than just research junkies like me. There is a higher purpose. The founders of The Adocentyn Research Library explain, “We are living in a period of growth, diversity and change akin to the first few hundred years of Christianity. Future scholars shouldn’t have to rely on the discovery of a future Nag Hammadi library in order to understand our diversity and our history.” This is a project whose time has come.

Here’s an example from my favorite subject: film history. At the turn of the 20th century, movies were considered lowbrow entertainment or sideshow novelties. Nobody thought much more about the filmed product. Technical innovators focused on production while producers focused on the building of a commercial venture. Nobody stopped to catalog or archive the footage being shown. Nobody considered or knew how highly flammable the early celluloid material would be. The American film Industry focused on the doing and not the archiving. Consequently most early films are lost in whole or in part. The historical data contained in those early film reels and in the production processes are completely gone. That’s nearly 40 years of lost material.

Photo Credit: Flickr's Sonear

Photo Credit: Flickr’s Sonear

The Pagan Movement, as it’s been called, is now well beyond the stories of Gerald Gardener, Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune and the like.  Up to this point the focus has been more on the doing and not the archiving. No doubt much has already been lost. Regardless we still have many long trails of breadcrumbs through our cultural forest that can be captured. Sabina Magliocco, one of the founders of the Pagan History Project says:

It’s clear that we’re now one of the fastest-growing new religious movements in the world. The documentation of our early history is thus doubly important, especially as the movement is changing in important ways. The elders who were involved in the movement’s early days are now in the twilight of their lives; we have already lost a number just in the last year. Recording their histories and archiving documents from the beginning of the diffusion of modern Paganisms in the US will help preserve that history for future historians.

Just in the past two weeks, Judy Harrow’s crossing came as a surprise to many. Director Holli S. Emore says, “At Cherry Hill Seminary we are all too painfully aware of how the loss of someone like Judy Harrow inserts a sort of glottal stop in the narration of how we came to be where we are today. Anything we did not learn from Judy before last Friday is now gone forever.”

There are lessons to be learned from past experience at all levels of practice. What worked and what didn’t? Why did this group fold and this one last for 30 years?  Shauna Aura Knight is an author and presenter whose focus is on Pagan leadership skills. She says:

When I travel and teach Pagan leadership, what I see over and over is reinventing the wheel … I’ve seen local Pagan unity-type organizations–with actual not-for-profit status–folding because the leaders couldn’t sustain the organizations any longer. Thus those resources become lost, and any future group has to start again. 

Fortunately a number of projects have formed or are forming to fill this very need. Located in California’s Bay Area, The Adocentyn Research Library aims to preserve an expansive amount of material from a variety of religious communities “including indigenous, tribal, polytheistic, nature-based, and/or Earth-centered religions, spiritualities and cultures around the world and throughout human history.” They currently have cataloged more than 6,000 books and are working with the “Lost and Endangered Religions Project on conservation and storage of Pagan materials from India, Turkey and Guatemala.”

Similarly, in southern Delaware, the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel is raising money to finish the construction of the New Alexandrian Research Library (NAL). The “Library will be collecting materials from all religious traditions focusing on their mystical and the spiritual writings.” Founders hope that NAL will serve as both a functional community and research center as well as become a “cornerstone for the new magical Renaissance.”

Photo Credit:  Circle Sanctuary, Circle Magazine

Photo Credit: Circle Sanctuary, Circle Magazine

All archiving doesn’t need to be done by librarians and institutions. Several groups have digitized their own newsletters such as the Georgian Wicca Tradition and the Covenant of the Goddess. Back Issues of old print periodicals are available for purchase such as Circle Magazine whose offers issues dating back to 1980 when it was still called “Circle Network News.” The Founders of Adocentyn say “Archiving our history ourselves is important because we take our movement seriously, know how parts relate to one another, and understand it.”

Another recent development is the effort to capture individual stories. Shauna Aura Knight is co-editing a new anthology for Immanion Press has that very aim. She says, “I hope to start collecting the stories of what works and how leaders can use that, but also, what hasn’t worked. What are the mistakes we want to avoid in the future?”

The Pagan History Project has a similar objective. Sabina Magliocco explains:

The Pagan History Project is modeled after other oral history projects such as the American Folklife Center’s Veterans’ History Project. We rely on community members to record oral histories from other community members. These digital documents will be posted on a website and made available to other community members and scholars. … At this point, we are focusing on interviewing elders in our community who were involved with the inception of Paganisms in the US.

The Project seeks to create a “mythic history” that captures our humanity through the recording of voices. Currently organizers are looking for volunteers to go out into their communities and interview anyone willing. In this way future generations can benefit from the experiences of even those who have chosen to lead a quiet, non-public life. Holli S. Emore says,”For the many mystics among us, and most certainly for reconstructionists, an understanding of our historical roots has proven to be a vital part of our spiritual journey …  We are deeply enriched by learning the many layers and traces of Pagan history.”

The preservation of the past serves to not only enrich our present experience but to help build a stronger future. Together all these records will tell the greater story of a Movement or Movements with all the nuance and color one might expect. And, if nothing else, these archives will help future historians, research junkies and Wild Hunt journalists look back and say, “So that’s how it all came to be…”      

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!

Circle Magazine

Circle Magazine

The latest issue of Circle Magazine (#115) is now at the printers, and available for order at the Circle Sanctuary store. Quote: “This issue features inspiration to honor our families, from birth, through childhood to departed ancestors. Also in this issue, connect with the season with rituals, crafts and songs for the Solstice, Yule and the New Year!” Lady Liberty League, Circle Sanctuary’s religious freedom advocacy arm, also notes that there are many items in this issue of interest to their mission. Quote: “Lots for Lady Liberty League fans in the new issue of Circle Magazine, shipping to subscribers and online now! Get the final report on all the collaborative work LLL did to address religious violence on Facebook & read the LLL End-of-Year Statement from LLL Case Manager, Minerva Thalia. ALSO look for ‘Advocating for Pagan Children in the Public School System’ by public school teacher Aurora Lightbringer, and read her ‘6 Key Strategies to Address Religious Discrimination in Schools.’ You won’t want to miss this on!” So check it out!

cropped-PconBanner13aHey there PantheaCon watchers! The largest indoor Pagan conference in the United States has just released its 2014 programming schedule, featuring a dizzying array of talks, panels, and workshops. Quote: “The PantheaCon 2014 schedule is now available, and we are again offering you two ways to view it!  First, you can click here to see the list of presenters and events by room.  If you would like to see presenter biographies and event descriptions, you can click here to access our improved Personal Schedule tool – it also allows you to to customize your schedule by selecting only those events that you want to attend. You will need a valid email address to use this tool.  Email programming(at) if you experience any issues.” Some early highlights: the band Woodland playing at PantheaCon for the first time ever, a formal panel on privilege within modern Paganism moderated by T. Thorn Coyle, a panel discussion on sacrifice hosted by Coru Cathubodua, Lupercalia with Ekklesia Antinoou, and much, much, much, more! So check it out, and keep in mind that this schedule could change depending on additions or changes in attendance. Also, schedules for hospitality suites aren’t posted yet, so that’s another aspect to keep an eye out for.

1425710_10201953836920156_1475050013_nWitches of Michigan and the Michigan-Midwest Witches Ball have issued a statement saying they would being taking over the Tempest Smith Foundation’s scholarship program, after it was publicly announced that the advocacy organization would be closing down. Quote: “As everyone may/or may not know, Tempest Smith Foundation is closing their doors very soon. We (Witches of Michigan and Witches Ball) have joined forces to continue with TSF’s scholarship program. Met with the lawyer yesterday, to form a Non Profit and apply for 501c3 by the end of the year this will have been accomplished. I like to thank those who donated money to the cause, we raised enough for the 501c3, and generous donations from WOM and MWB paid for creation of the Non-profit. Starting on 1/1/14 we will accepting applications for pagan high school seniors for $500 scholarship.” The new scholarship will be called the Michigan Pagan Scholarship, and the nascent organization has started a group on Facebook. The Tempest Smith Foundation has been “a voice for diversity tolerance in its Michigan community and an advocate of anti-bullying campaigns,” and it looks like Michigan Pagans are going to make sure its legacy lives on.  We will report more on this story as it develops.

In Other Pagan Community News:

Adela Leibowitz "Isis and the goat-fish of Ea (Enki)" 2012

Adela Leibowitz “Isis and the goat-fish of Ea (Enki)” 2012

  • Esoteric artist Adela Leibowitz has opened a new show this month at hpgrp Gallery in New York, with pieces focusing on Mesopotamian and Egyptian Mythology. Quote: “Unlike earlier series such as Fairytales of the Macabre (2004) and The Cassandra Prophesies, (2006), which focused on Western tales, Leibowitz turns to Eastern religions and mythologies in “Mesopotamian and Egyptian Mythology.” In this exhibition, she continues her explorations by re-animating gods and goddesses, chaos demons, sages, protective deities and mythical hybrids. She places them in lush, tropical landscapes that represent a primal world where humans, animals and nature co-exist together in harmony. In essence, she creates utopias.” Also, check out the Phantasmaphile write-up. The show runs through December 21st.
  • Just a reminder that the New Alexandrian Library’s short crowd-funding initiative to continue the ongoing construction on their future physical space in Delaware has less than a week to go. So if libraries run by Pagan and esoteric interests is something you value, be sure to visit their IndieGoGo page and add your support. For all of my coverage of the New Alexandrian Library, click here.
  • In other crowd-funding news, as I mentioned on Monday, Starhawk has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to fund diversity scholarships for Earth Activist Trainings. Quote: “A small investment in Earth Activist Training has a huge ripple effect. Any amount you can donate will help diversify the environmental justice movement, bring new perspectives and insights into the permaculture movement, and give activists and community leaders the tools they need to build that beautiful world of the future we know is possible!”
  • Treadwell’s in London is hosting a one-person play about artist and occultist Austin Osman Spare on November 30th. Quote: “Set in the artist’s studio at the Elephant and Castle on the night  of a Blitz bombing, it shows Spare growing old in poverty, yet fiercely committed to his vision. In the course of the night, a rogue sigil unleashes unpredictable consequences. This ‘play conceived as an act of magic’, performed by the author, is both an homage to AOS and a playful exploration of Constable’s own esoteric work to ‘set us free from ourselves.’ John Constable is a poet, playwright and magical practitioner best-known for The Southwark Mysteries, and for his acclaimed stage adaptation of Gormenghast.”
  • I’m always a big fan of crowd-funded tarot and oracle decks, and the Kickstarter for the Tarot of Delphi looks rather nice. Quote: “Curated with fine art from the late 1830s to the early 1910s, the Tarot of Delphi is like a mini-museum. You can wander through this captivating deck – exploring the imagery, absorbing the colors and light, envisioning the lives depicted – and imagine yourself within its mythic narrative.”

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

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!

The New Alexandrian Library Rises

The New Alexandrian Library

The New Alexandrian Library, a project of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel which hopes to create an institution that will become “one of the cornerstones of a new magickal renaissance,” has launched a new short crowd-funding initiative to continue the ongoing construction on the future physical space in Delaware. Quote: “The exterior of the building is almost done and interior work is proceeding. lf we can keep things going at the pace we are moving we could potentially use the early Spring months of 2014 to actually start setting up the shelves and moving in. We need a total of an additional $60,000 in the next 6 months, But right now, we are asking for immediate funds of $15,000 for the next push forwards.” I think a video from 2012, at the groundbreaking of the library, does a good job of explaining the importance of building infrastructure projects like the NAL. So if libraries run by Pagan and esoteric interests is something you value, be sure to visit their IndieGoGo page and add your support. In the words of the campaign: “The NAL will be one of the cornerstones (of many created by various groups across the globe we hope!) of a new magickal renaissance. The benefits of this growing network for future generations will be incalculable.” For all of my coverage of the New Alexandrian Library, click here.

camplalanadaPNC-Florida has coverage of the recently held Florida Pagan Gathering Samhain 2013, which featured special guests Amber K, Azrael Arynn K, Ivo Dominguez, Jr., Stephanie Woodfield, Rev. Kirk S. Thomas, Grey Ghosthawk and Gypsey Teague. Quote: Florida Pagan Gathering Samhain 2013 was held November 6th through  November 10th at its beautiful new home at Camp La Llanada in Lake Wales, Florida. The organizers of FPG, Temple of Earth Gathering Inc., had chosen this location to host Beltaine 2014 but quickly pushed forward with the move due to the government shutdown’s effect on the former location at Ocala National Forest. Guests and staff of the event were so pleased and grateful for the hard work of the board of directors of Temple of Earth Gathering for making the transition so swift and smooth. One long time guest of The Gathering, the venerable Lady Solar Bear, remarked on how good it felt to be in a place where children came to learn about their heritage.” While I’m on the subject of PNC-Florida, check out their recent stories, which includes an update on Pagan clergy attending an interfaith child hunger summit.

372854_57526231713_1400552470_nTwo Llewellyn Worldwide titles have won awards, and two more were finalists, in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, a contest sponsored by Quote: “The 2013 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the United States. With a full publicity and marketing campaign promoting the results of the USA Best Book Awards, this year’s winners and finalists will gain additional media coverage for the upcoming holiday retail season.” The winners were Discovering the Medium Within, by Anysia Kiel (in the New Age: Non-Fiction category), and Great Sex Made Simple, by Mark A. Michaels & Patricia Johnson (in the Self-Help: Relationships category). The finalists were The Magick of Flowers, by Tess Whitehurst (in the New Age: Non-Fiction category) and Living a Life of Gratitude, by Sara Wiseman (in the Self-Help: Motivational category). Congratulations to Llewellyn and the authors!

In Other Pagan Community News:

Patrick McCollum in India

Patrick McCollum in India

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