Archives For Operation Circle Care

standing rock logoCANNONBALL, N.D. – It was announced Sunday that the Army Corps of Engineers have denied the easement allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe. The corps will be researching an alternative route. In response to the welcomed news, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said, “We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.”

Chairman Archambault also thanked “everyone who played a role in advocating for this cause” from the youth who initiated the movement, to volunteers who visited the camps, other tribes, and supporters around the globe.

With the help of Pagan activist Casey McCarthy, who has been back and forth to Standing Rock over the past few months, we gathered several reactions to the news. In a Facebook post activist Payu Harris said, “This is a short term delay … nothing…the corps only said they would not grant the easement for the remainder of this administration that means the Trump administration can (and will I’m sure) fast-track the easement as promised.”

Longer responses are in the following links, including reactions from Solar Cross Temple, Union Labor Camp leader Cliff Wilmeng, Lakota Tribe member Tiffany, and Pagan activist Jenn Wedgle.  In her response, Tiffany writes, “I view the Vets who arrived at home on Standing Rock as our living armor, our living weapons. Not weapons of destruction but weapons of peace and safety.” She then begs them to stay,”I ask that out of fear of history once again repeating itself because ETP responded that today’s decision means nothing to them.”

 *    *    *

5810423235_f121e14f28_bGATLINBURG, Tenn. — As we reported Thursday, the city of Gatlinburg was engulfed in flames after a mountaintop fire spread through the mountain resort community. The area is home to many Pagans and other like-minded people, including the popular band Tuatha Dea, and the well-known festival spaces of Dragonshire and Cerren Ered.

As has been reported since, Tuatha Dea is back in business. Band leader Danny Mulliken reported that he was able to return to his home Sunday, saying, ” [We are] back to writing and prepping to pay back with the new CD! Full speed ahead.” He added that the band has already written a song inspired by what happened. It is aptly named, “Appalachia Burning.” Band member Tesea Dawson has raised nearly $2,500 to help the city’s children.

Similarly, the Valley of the Dragons community was reportedly untouched by the fires. However, as priestess Jewels Wyldwomyn reported, a visiting crew of Alaskan firefighters has been patrolling the area, and that helicopters were flying regularly overhead. With gratitude, the owners of Cerren Ered wrote, “The Valley of Dragons remains safe and healthy. Thanks and gratitude to family. This entire experience as shown a great outpouring of love and care for each other. Folks in the VotD have gone out of their way to offer aid to each other, the emergency and forestry service workers, and to others in the local community.”

Currently Gatlinburg is still closed, but they expect to open soon. According to the latest reports, there are 150 people still in shelters; the death toll is now at 14 and the injured stand at 130. The fire burned a reported 1,700 structures and 17,000 acres.

  *    *    *

operation-circle-care-logoBARNEVELD, Wis. — Circle Sanctuary is once again running its annual Operation Circle Care (OCC). This is the 10th anniversary of this Yuletide program, and Circle is looking for assistance. In 2006, the program began as a way to send gifts “to military Pagans stationed in areas where ritual supplies and access to Pagan community were limited.”

This year, in lieu of packages, the organization will be sending out commemorative patches to those on active duty. “This is our way of giving thanks for our Pagan service persons,” said Rev. Fox. To offset the costs of this program, the patches will also be available for purchase.

To assist in the program, OOC coordinators Jeanet and David Ewing as asking that the Pagan community send in the names of those on active duty and, if possible, donate to the program directly or purchase a patch. David Ewing said, “I hope that our community can come together this year and help us send this beautiful token of appreciation to every Pagan currently serving. I know it will mean a great deal to them.” For more information, they direct interested people to the program’s website.

 *   *   *

oakland_sealOAKLAND, Calif. — The city of Oakland was shaken after learning that a fire had broken out in a warehouse during a crowded Friday night party. Investigators are still uncertain what caused this fire, now being called one of the deadliest in U.S.history. The death toll stands at 36, and there are still people missing.

Several members of Come As You Are Coven (CAYA) attended vigils and memorials at the local site. One of its members was interviewed on local news. We will have more on this story in the coming days.

In Other News

  • Hellenion, a US-based religious organization “dedicated to the revival and practice of Hellenic polytheism,” has relaunched its ritual group, or “Proto-Demos,” in Delaware. On its new website, the Delmarva Nikephoros Proto-Demos states, “emphasizes our respect for the Hellenic Deities and Mysteries, our ancestors and our past, the principle of inclusiveness, and an ethical code inspired by the Delphic Maxims.”
  • In associate with his new documentary Call of the Forest – The Forgotten Wisdom of Treesfilmmaker Jeff McKay has launched an associated crowdfunding campaign to raise money and awareness toward the protection of the world’s forests. McKay is the husband of Wild Hunt writer and filmmaker Dodie Graham McKay. His film “features scientist and acclaimed author Diana Beresford-Kroeger as she investigates our profound biological and spiritual connection to forests.” At this point, the film can only be seen in limited showings throughout Canada, but is available in DVD format through the IndieGoGo campaign. The money raised will fund an educational program in Canada and the U.S. starting in March, 2017.
  • Along similar lines, the newly formed Pagan Environmental Alliance and the Florida-based Palm Beach Pagans group, along with the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palm Beaches, are organizing an environmental conference to be held Jan. 28. The event’s focus will be on spiritual activism in the region. The group is currently looking for keynote speakers and panelists.
  • In late 2015, Lynn and Will Rowan produced a Yuletide music CD with Pagan themes.The CD, titled Sing the Sun’s Return: Wassails and Carols for Yuletide, is back out making the rounds for a second season. “This CD offers an alternative to mainstream holiday music, informed by folk customs, animist spirituality, and the revived worship of ancient deities.”

TWH – The annual celebration of Veterans Day started out as Armistice Day in 1919 at the end of World War I. It was officially renamed Veterans Day in the United States in order to honor all veterans. Many countries still honor Nov. 11 as a day of remembrance, especially those that fought on the Allied side in World War I.

This is a special year for Circle Sanctuary, as they recognize the 10th anniversary of the Veterans Pentacle Quest. After a long struggle attempting to get the pentacle as an approved device for military headstones, Circle Sanctuary and Selena Fox teamed up with Americans United for Separation of Church and State to file a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs. Assisting in the suit was Roberta Stewart, wife and widow of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, who died in Afghanistan. Nov. 13, 2006 was the day they filed the lawsuit; the VA policy was changed to allow the pentacle on gravestones the following April.

New Operation Circle Care patch on the 10th anniversary of the program.

New Operation Circle Care patch on the 10th anniversary of the program.

Ten years later, attitudes have shifted somewhat within the military, but more so within the VA. For those unfamiliar with its structure, the Department of Defense oversees all branches of the military, while Veterans Affairs is a distinct department.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of Operation Circle Care, the support program for active duty Wiccans, Heathens, Druids, Polytheists and other Pagans serving in the military. In honor of the anniversary, Circle Sanctuary has created new patches for active duty members of the military.

While the progress made has been significant and each of veterans interviewed below were proud of their service in their respective branches, they also acknowledged a need to keep pushing for change and recognition within the system.

Reverend Tiffany Andes coordinates military circles for Circle Sanctuary. She figures there are 18 active circles that she works with right now.

“We’ve had some on naval ships, we have some in deployed locations and we have some in more stable overseas locations” in addition to the circles at places like Fort Bragg and Fort Hood, which are two of the oldest, she said.

Now Andes will be adding another achievement, crossing an important threshold for Pagans in the military. She is believed to be the first Pagan chaplain in residence at a VA hospital, and thus the first Pagan chaplain working as a paid employee of the VA.

“I feel it’s a very important process for us as a community. I’m doing the work because it’s the work that I love to do anyway. I feel very strongly about working with veterans and giving back to that particular community, especially because of the effect of being at war for over a decade,” Andes said.

Tiffany Andes

While she does publicly own her Paganism within the military structure, she wants to be clear that she’s not doing it for personal recognition. “I’m doing this because I love the work,” she said.

Another reason is that she doesn’t feel that Pagans get accurate representation within the military. Just by her presence, she’s challenging norms at the Tennessee hospital in which she works, she said.

“The additional challenges that come with my position include a lot of education. It is an active effort to be pleasant, to be loving and to educate every single day. There’s a lot of misinformation and misconceptions and prejudice that we have to move against in the system, to change the system,” Andes said.

“I have airmen, and I have soldiers and marines, they’re deploying or they’re separated from their families and they call me and say, ‘my leadership isn’t supportive of the fact that I’m Pagan, or Wiccan or Heathen or Asatru, I don’t know what to do, because I can’t be honest about my faith, which is what gives me the strength to do what it is I need to do.’ What do you tell them? They’re going off to fight for us, to fight for our freedoms and they can’t have the freedom of religious expression that they’re fighting for,” she explained.

Rev. Andes was honored at Circle Sanctuary’s annual Samhain celebration, and she will be recognized at Circle’s upcoming Veterans Day ceremony and observances, according to a statement from the organization.

“Ministry to veterans, active duty service members, and their families has been an important part of Circle Sanctuary’s work for more than forty years,” said Circle Sanctuary Senior Minister, Rev. Selena Fox. “Her VA hospital work is moving Paganism forward in the ongoing quest for full equality in military and veteran chaplaincy realms.”

Fox said that Circle Sanctuary will be holding a ceremony on Veterans Day at noon.


Currently a civilian employee of the VA, ‘Mick’ is a veteran who asked that we not use his real name out of fear for his job. He claims that while working for a branch of the military in the 1990s, he was removed from an assignment, ostracized, and passed up for an advancement program after speaking openly about his Paganism.

Now, he feels comfortable in the job that he has, but will probably not talk about his faith within the VA.

480px-seal_of_the_u-s-_department_of_veterans_affairs-svg

“My work requires me to work with the media extensively. I also work with dozens of Veterans Service Organizations and the public at large. I’m hoping that things have changed. People are more tolerant. More informed. More loving. But everything I see in the news tells me this is just a dream. It’s a dream that I can’t pin my family’s well-being on again.”

But, he says, his military years were not spent in complete hiding. During a ceremony for reenlistment he had to put his hand on the Bible to take his oath. Mick did so, but went to his commanding officer afterward and informed the man that he was Pagan and felt odd about using the Bible.

“He was taken aback and I assumed I was about to encounter another episode of intolerance. Much to my surprise, my (commanding officer) apologized and admitted he’d never thought about that before. He subsequently began asking sailors who were reenlisting whether using the Bible was appropriate for them. I also was able to assist the base chaplain on several issues that came up involving Wiccan and Pagan sailors on base,” he said.

After the election Mick reached out to say, “I didn’t think Trump would win but this definitely crystallized my anxiety about people doing the right thing.”


Josh Heath of the Open Halls Project said it’s not easy being a member of a non-traditional faith in the military. He said his experience in the army wasn’t terrible, but he did have some difficulties. “There are a lot of Pagans of various sorts in the military and they are making a difference, little by little,” Heath said.

Heath reported that the Open Halls Project had become an incorporated, non-stock, non-profit in Maryland this year, the next step will be to become a federally recognized non-profit. This step will allow them to collect money for the first time in the organization’s existence and fund projects, like providing the Havamal, a poem containing life lessons, or Poetic Edda to hand out to Heathens in the military for free, he said.

Another goal they’re working toward is establishing a yearly retreat for veterans and active duty soldiers. He said he would like it to be a time for military members to reconnect, but specifically to reintegrate into their communities and society as a whole.

Open Halls Project

Heath said he sees Veterans Day as a “time for me to recognize the people who have served and are still trying to make a difference in the lives of other veterans. I like to particularly highlight organizations that are doing great things to support other veterans. Wounded Warrior Project, though they aren’t perfect, are certainly an organization that does a lot to help veterans. I’m part of an organization called The Mission Continues, they do a lot of community project work. For me it’s about remembering and furthering support for veterans.”

Locally, he said that there will be a blöt to Woden this Sunday and as part of that he’ll be honoring veterans.


Alix Wright said that when she immigrated to the United States from South Africa as a teenager, she wanted to do something to give back to her newly adopted country.

“I needed a challenge, and the Marines were both challenging and inspiring,” said Wright, Pisces Minister with the Temple of Witchcraft.

During her service, she said that she was given a hard time for not being Christian, but, “there were many more who were supportive of me, and still more who just didn’t think it was their business. I hope that by standing my ground, it helped move those things forward.”

“The chaplain at my battalion told me I could have Samhain off if I proved to him that it was a sacred day.,” Wright explained. “He was a little stunned when I put a pile of books on his desk with notes sticking out of them marking all the references, (remember this was before Google) but he read enough of them to agree to inform my commanding officer that I wouldn’t be coming in on Samhain.”

Wright said that she doesn’t do a major working for Veterans Day but that she does wear her dog tags on the 10th for the Marine Corps’ birthday and on the 11th she lights a candle to honor all who have served.

“I’m at least fourth generation military by how far back I can trace (my son was also in the National Guard so he is fifth) so it’s also an honoring of my ancestors who served and acknowledgement of all those who are serving now and will serve in the future,” Wright said.

Michael Cantone, the Aries Minister for the Temple of Witchcraft, said that the temple will be doing a ritual on Facebook this year so that those outside of the New Hampshire and Massachusetts area will be able to take part.


Like Circle Sanctuary, Covenant of the Goddess issues service medals to its members who are or have served in the military.

CoG medal

Jack Prewett, first officer of the Covenant of the Goddess and a Vietnam veteran, said that at every yearly meeting, they award veterans submitted by local circles with the Order of the Pentacle. “Paganism has grown a lot since I was in the military, and it’s actually now recognized by the military. When I was in the military that would have been unfathomable. I will say I find it wonderful that we are recognized. There’s now a conduit by which we can have Pagan chaplains, it’s wonderful to see it progressing.”

Prewett advised those thinking about coming out as Pagan in the military to do what makes them comfortable. “The reality is the individual has to take into account his own personal experiences and his own personal safety before he decides he can stand up and say, ‘yes, I’m a Pagan’. I’m hearing that a lot of the military is becoming more and more accepting, so it gives you hope,” he said.


Rev. David Oringderff, executive director of the Sacred Well Congregation, said that, to him, Veterans Day is “a time to honor those who have taken the oath and served to ‘protect the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic.’ For that very reason, the U.S. veteran is different from all of the other veterans of all of the armed forces of the world, past and present.”

Oringderff continued on to explain: “We swore allegiance to a document (that the vast majority of veterans hold as sacred and sacrosanct) that establishes and preserves the ideals and vision of the founders when they embarked on a noble experiment in government that the world had never seen before. Those citizen soldiers fought a bloody and bitter revolution to establish the right to govern themselves in a manner that they chose. That noble experiment has endured for 228 years. And yes, it even survived the 2016 presidential election. One of my favorite quotes of General Washington: ‘when we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen.’ And when ‘we assumed the soldier’ we became part of that kindred that cannot be fully comprehended unless you are a part of it. That kindred has protected and defended the Constitution from its inception right up to this very day. And so shall it ever be.”


For Pagan, Heathen, and polytheist veterans unable to attend a local event, Rev. Fox said that, following her Nov 15 broadcast of Circle’s Nature Talk radio program, she will honor veterans live on the air with her annual presentation of Military Service Ribbons.

 

2000px-Pentacle_on_white.svgIt was announced that Morgan McFarland, co-founder of the McFarland Dianic tradition, died Dec. 7, 2015. Together with Mark Roberts, Morgan established the tradition in 1971 in Dallas, Texas. Several covens were eventually born, and Morgan began to write down all of her teachings. In 1977, Mark, who had served as High Priest, left the tradition to follow his own path. Then, in 1979, Morgan retired as High Priestess. However, the tradition continued to thrive.

Although Morgan never returned to coven life, she has always been considered the matriarch of the McFarland Dianic Wiccan tradition, and did serve as an adviser to the tradition’s council.

Claudiney Pietro, a Wiccan Priest from Brazil, wrote, “Today is a day of sorrow for the Craft of the Wise,” calling Morgan McFarland one of the most important and inspirational figures. We will have more on Morgan’s life and work in the coming weeks.

What is remembered, lives.

  *   *   *

12075017_1206418709377072_2965345679513940138_nIt has been just one month since the Paris terror attacks shocked the world, leaving 130 dead and hundreds wounded. Since that time, Pagans have been performing rituals in and around the city. As we reported in November, the Ligue Wiccane Eclectique, Paris-based Pagan group, organized a worldwide prayer candlelight vigil complete with a special chant. Coordinator Xavier Mondon noted that, despite the tragedy, “There is a willingness to unite and be present.”

Several weeks later, local Pagans organized a peace and protection ritual for the United Nations Climate Conference (COP21). They explained, “Although our community is diverse, as global citizens we were all touched by the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris. Now is an opportunity to lend your skills, energy, mojo, and Will to help PROTECT PARIS and TIP THE SCALES of the climate talks so we may have real, measurable, actionable results.” The two protection circles were kept active until this past weekend, during which they was taken down and opened.

Coming up this next weekend will be another public Pagan ritual. The Lique Wiccane Eclectique, which is also celebrating its 10 year anniversary, and Le Cercle de Sequana are staging a public Yule Ritual to be held Dec. 20 at 3 p.m. The event invitations ask guests to “come as they are,” bring food, decorations, tools and to dress for the weather. The ritual will take place outside at Château de Vincennes.

  *   *   *

operation circle careOperation Circle Care (OCC) is in its 9th year of operation and is an annual project of Circle Sanctuary. Each year the organization collects Pagan ritual and religious items for service members stationed overseas and on deployment. OCC organizers said, “Last year, we were proud to send packages to service members stationed in countries such as Kuwait, Germany, South Korea, Japan, and to Sailors & Marines at sea around the world.”

The program is 100% supported by Pagans for Pagans, as they note. Therefore, Circle reaches out to the larger community each year to make this project a reality. First, they ask for the names and contact information for any military service members that might like a Pagan gift package. In addition, they are asking for item donations, such as: Pagan jewelry, divination items, mini altar cloths, small God/Goddess symbols, Pagan music, handmade small craft items and more. A full list is on the website.

Organizers said, “What has always made the OCC project so special is its personal touch. Operation Circle Care contents are always made up of personal gifts donated by Pagans of many traditions.”

In Other News:

  • Last week, we noted the upcoming conference season, which is typically kicked off with the Conference on Current Pagan Studies. Its organizers have just newly updated the website with the complete event schedule. The conference theme is Social Justice, and the keynote speakers are Gus diZerega and Nikki Bado. As always, this conference takes place in Claremont, California over two days near the end of January. More information is on the website.
  • Terra Mysterium, a Chicago based theatre company, will be premiering its new, Pagan-themed, adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The play, titled A Midwinter’s Mummers Tale, “concerns the transformation of Esmerelda Pennywise […] through visitations from powerful Ancient beings. It will feature British folk customs, new arrangements of beloved British folk songs and original compositions, and bring a holiday magick of a different stripe to this beloved tale!”  Terra Mysterium will be performing the play over Yule weekend, Dec. 18-20, at the Lincoln Loft in Chicago. We will have more on this project coming up later this week.
  • The Green Album producers have announced a partnership with The Rainforest Trust. Partial proceeds from the album’s sale will be donated to the Trust and its work to “protect the world’s tropical forests.” The Green Album is a collaborative project that will feature fifteen different Pagan artists from around the world. It will be available for purchase in spring 2016.
  • Author and Priestess Arianna Alexsandra Collins has released her first novel Hearken to Avalon. On the site, Collins describes the book as “Set against the backdrop of myth and legend, history is rewritten by those who did not get to tell their side of the story. Meet the descendants of Avalon and Guy of Gisbourne, the Stag King.” Hearken to Avalon is available through her website and through Create Space.
  • The start of 2016 is only weeks away. Producers of the popular GBG Calendar say that it is not too late to order next year’s edition. With every calendar purchase, a donation is given to The Museum of Witchcraft and the Doreen Valiente Foundation. In addition, older calendars are also now available for purchase through the GBG Calendar website.
  • For those awaiting the distribution of A Beautiful Resistance, your wait is over. The paper version was released on Nov 5, and it has been shipped to all those who pre-ordered, and it is now available in some retails stores and by mail order. A digital version will be released tomorrow, Dec 15. A Beautiful Resistance is the first issue of a journal produced by the editors of the Gods & Radicals website. It’s 120-pages contain the works of 30 different Pagan, Heathen and Polytheist writers on a range of related topics.

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!

Blake Kirk

Blake Kirk

On Thursday Nov 6, Wiccan Priest Blake Kirk returned to the Huntsville Alabama City Council chambers to deliver the pre-meeting invocation. As we reported last June, Kirk had been removed from the schedule due to complaints by various citizens. After that news was made public, the Huntsville city council opted to continue opening meetings with invocations that reflect the city’s religious diversity.

Kirk was placed back on the schedule and, last week, delivered the prayer before the council meeting. He opened with, “Let us pray. O gentle Goddess and loving God, we thank You for the beauties and the wonders of the day that You have given to us, and for the opportunity we have this evening to assemble here and work together to make Huntsville a better city for all of its residents. We ask that You grant to the councilors and other officials present here tonight the wisdom they will need to make the best decisions that they may for the governance of our city.” 

*   *   *

tumblr_inline_nesrz38fU31rvkvdhFrom Nov. 12 to Nov. 20, a “group of radical trans activists and spirit workers” will be holding a nine-day ritual to honor beloved transgender dead. Others are welcome to participate. Organizers say “Our dead deserve to be remembered and elevated, and we are humbled by and grateful for the encouragement we have received so far.” They have set up a tumbr blog with specifics and suggestions for participation. They also welcome questions and submissions of photos and prayers.

*   *   *

Pantheon FoundationThe Pantheon Foundation has made two new announcements regarding its upcoming online activist Conference, PACO. The weekend event now “includes an Earth Activism panel, to be held on Friday, Nov. 21.” This bonus panel will include Celia Alario, Andy Conn, Laurie Lovekraft and Starhawk.

Organizers have also decided to cut the conference ticket price. In a statement, they said, “We’ve had a few sensitive queries about the ticket cost of PACO … A few folks have let us know that this cost is just too far outside the means of an activist’s budget for their comfort … We have decided to cut the ticket cost for this event dramatically, to allow more people to attend. Starting today, tickets for the entire event will be $40 instead of $100, with individual panel tickets being $10 instead of $20.” PACO 2014 will be held the weekend of Nov 21-23, completely online. More detail on the new panel and the ticket price change can be found on Pantheon’s website

*   *   *

operation circle care

Tomorrow is Veterans Day in the U.S. and Circle Sanctuary has launched its annual Operation Circle Care program. In a recent release, the Circle organizers state, “For the eighth year in a row Circle Sanctuary will be sending Yuletide gift packages, including pentacles, CDs, crystals, copies of CIRCLE Magazine and other items, as spiritual support to Wiccan, Heathen, Druidic, and other Pagans on active duty in the US Military who are stationed overseas and on deployment.

They are currently calling for donations of both funds and items to support the yearly Yuletide care packages. However, a more urgent need is the contact details for Pagans serving overseas or on deployment. To ensure a Yuletide delivery, organizers have asked that this information be sent by Nov. 29. Further details and instructions are listed on the OCC website. 

In Other News:

That is all for now.  Have a nice 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!

PFI PhilippinesIn the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which has wreaked havoc and destruction through the Philippines, the Pagan Federation International in Philippines has started raising funds to aid in providing food, water, and shelter to those directly affected by the storm. Quote: “Let us help ease the burden of our friends from Northern Cebu by helping with our mission to give aid to the Northern Cebu Typhoon Victims such as Daan Bantayan and Bogo. Pagan Federation International is needing volunteers and donations.” Vivianne Crowley, a longtime member and organizer within the Pagan Federation, added, quote, “many of you will have seen on news programs the devastation in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda). The Pagan community in the Philippines seem to all be safe, but some have lost their homes and many people are lacking food, water and shelter. Our friends in Pagan Federation International Philippines are appealing for help.” The Wild Hunt’s Heather Greene is currently following up with PFI Philippines on this effort, and we hope to bring you a more in-depth report this Sunday. I have embedded a poster created by PFI Philippines below, which lists contact information and a list of needs.

577497_365038933631450_62343078_n

Peter Dybing

Peter Dybing

Meanwhile, Pagan activist and disaster relief first responder Peter Dybing has issued a challenge to our community to give during this time of crisis. Quote: “Here is the challenge. I ask that every individual identifying as part of our community do the following things. 1. Select a relief organization that is doing work in the Philippines and donate what you can. 2. Post a link to the organization and call on everyone you know to take a similar action. 3. When the disaster fades from the news show support for the idea of a Pagan lead disaster relief organization. I have never directly asked you to share my blog posts. Today I am, please share this challenge far and wide.” Dybing added on his Facebook profile that “The American Red Cross has an outstanding record of being of assistance in small local disasters. Their record in large scale disasters is however, marred by very poor performances in responding to disasters like Katrina and Haiti. Millions of earmarked funds unspent years later. Better to donate to the local Philippines Red Cross directly.” A link to the Red Cross in the Philippines can be found, here. I’ve also provided a link to Doctors Without Borders, here.

worldwide heathen census asatru norse mythology blog norsemythBack in October I mentioned the launch of the Worldwide Heathen Census, a project of the Norse Mythology Blog that is attempting to “establish an approximate number of adherents through an anonymous survey with only one item: a pull-down menu where the respondent selects his or her home country. It is hoped that the anonymous nature of this census will attract responses from heathens who may not want to put their name on an official form from a governmental agency or research institution.” According to Dr. Seigfried, the census was in part sparked by frustration over Heathens being “mostly invisible in major surveys of religious affiliation,” and seeks to remedy that. Below, I’ve embedded a graphic from a November 9th update on the census, which will run through December of this year. So far, the United States seems to hold an overwhelming majority of contemporary Heathens, with Germany running a distant second, and the UK and even more distant third. Regarding the UK number, we do know that the census of England and Wales counted nearly 2000 Heathens (with another 150 or so in Scotland), so that number should climb a bit if participation increases. I’ll keep you posted on the final results once the census closes.

November 9 Worldwide Heathen Census 2013 Results by Country Norse Mythology Blog

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • Several Pagans, reconstructionists, and polytheists have spoken out over a stunt “God Graveyard” put up by atheists in Wisconsin. Sannion has rounded up many of those voices at his blog, here. P. Sufenas Virius Lupus noted that “they [atheists] are so concerned with evidence and proving things and making sure everything they say is factual, that they get to ignore all of religious studies, history, real people and traditions that are occurring today, and other matters that might shed light on anything that has to do with religion since all religion is unreal/false/nonsense, etc.” At Baring the Aegis, Elani Temperance adds that the atheist group’s stunning lack of ethics in this matter undermines their argument for unbelief, quote, “ethical behavior is not religious, but social, and the AHA would do well to remember that.” Or, as Sannion puts it in a follow-up, “it’s a dick move to tell another person that their god is dead; doesn’t really matter whether you’re laughing while you do it or wielding a knife.”
The "God Graveyard" in Wisconsin.

The “God Graveyard” in Wisconsin.

  • Last week I mentioned Operation Circle Care, a program that sends care packages to active duty Pagan soldiers serving overseas during the holidays. This week, OCC wanted to add that they are urgently looking for names of individuals who want/need this service. Quote: Service members can submit their own names, or those here at home can submit their information. We keep all contact information absolutely confidential. To submit a name we’re asking people to send the full name, rank, branch of military service, country where serving, postal address, email address, and spiritual path for the Pagan service-member, and also include your own name and contact info, plus your relationship with the service-member. We keep contact information confidential to circle@circlesanctuary.org with cc to: occ@circlesanctuary.org.” For more information, see Operation Circle Care’s official page. So if you know someone who needs this service, please get in touch!
  • Publisher Bibliotheca Alexandrina has announced that they are lowering the prices of all their titles effective immediately. Quote:  “Bibliotheca Alexandrina has lowered the prices on nearly all of our print titles. In general, books with a page count of 0-199 pages will be $10.99 US, 200-299 pages will be $12.99, and 300+ pages will be $14.99. There are a few exceptions, as some books have higher production costs, but we plan to stick as close as possible to this pricing scheme moving forward.” They also add that the new prices are effective immediately on their CreateSpace store, but will take a couple of weeks to migrate to places like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. There are some excellent titles in their roster, so stock up!
  • Pagan chaplain and activist Patrick McCollum has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to fund a trip to India where he has been invited by Sri Tathata to help facilitate the MahaYaga. Quote: “Sri Tathata, a great spiritual leader in India, has asked Patrick to be one of the primary facilitators at the MahaYaha, a 6-day event of rituals and prayers designed to create world peace. The intention of this ritual is to shift the course and consciousness of our planet.  This is a revival of an ancient and sacred Hindu ritual called the MahaYaga, which is written about in the Vedas and goes back many thousands of years. This ritual was stopped a couple thousand years ago and is only now being re-created. In addition to facilitating the ritual itself, Patrick has been asked to be a keynote speaker both as an individual and at a round table with some of the foremost religious and political leaders from around the world where the topic is world peace, women’s issues and planetary sustainability.” Patrick is trying to raise over $10,000 dollars for the trip, and has less than a month to do so.
  • In a recent update sent to supporters, Cherry Hill Seminary puts the spotlight on Dr. David Oringderff, Chair of the Department of Pastoral Counseling and Chaplaincy, and co-founder of the Sacred Well Congregation, for ten years of service to the Pagan learning institution. In the piece, Dr. Oringderff stresses the importance of accreditation for CHS. Quote: “Because I work a lot with the military, and we’ve got a lot of fine young military people who want to become military chaplains, and of course, it’s a very rigid procedure to be accepted as a chaplain in the military. The biggest hurdle is the educational requirement. And so they’re stuck. They have to go to a traditional seminary, or they have to go to a traditional seminary; there’s just no alternative.  Yet.  Until we reach that point.”

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!

Cherry Hill SeminaryPagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary has announced their Fall Scholarship Drive for 2013, which will help fund tuition scholarships in January. Quote: “‘I can’t imagine a world without Cherry Hill Seminary,’ said Executive Director Holli Emore.  She also emphasized the efficient operation of the nearly 15-year-old school.  ‘Fortunately for our students, cash to keep the lights on translates directly into vibrant, rich learning opportunities.  That’s why an end of the year gift to the Bow Tie Campaign will allow us to give real scholarships out in January.  CHS operates on a cash basis – no debt! – so we need your help to finish the year.'” The institution’s goal is to raise $5000 dollars between now and Yule. When the goal of $5,000 is reached, Cherry Hill Seminary will announce a process for applying for a one-course scholarship.  More about the fund drive can be found here. I’ve embedded their fundraising video below.

Brendan Myers

Brendan Myers

Another fundraising initiative has recently launched, this one to create a tabletop role-playing game based on The Fellwater Tales, a fantasy book series authored by Brendan Myers, a Quebec Druidic Humanist and Philosophy Professor. Quote: “‘The Fellwater Tales’ features characters who are caught in a conflict between rival factions of a secret society, whose members are descended from ancient gods. While dealing with their own personal problems, they also struggle to protect Fellwater Grove, one of the last remaining places on earth where the magic of the Mythic Age still survives. The ‘Secret People’ of the ‘Hidden Houses’, as they are called, compete with each other for control of such places, just as political factions in the real world compete for control of sea ports, oil fields, and markets.” If funded, the project will involve several artists, including Morpheus Ravenna. The campaign seeks to raise $10,250 dollars in a month. Perks include copies of the game, copies of the books in the Fallwater Tales series, and the opportunity to have your own character included in the game.

AdflogoThis Samhain marked a special anniversary, the 30th year since Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) was founded. ADF Archdruid Kirk Thomas issued the following statement in commemoration of the event: “At a Samhain rite at the Winterstar Symposium held in 1983, Isaac Bonewits, a scholar, visionary, and teacher, announced the formation of a new religion, Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF). Issac’s idea for ADF was revolutionary for its time. His path-making vision was to see ADF certified clergy in every major city and be recognized as a true world religion. The letter that announced the forming of ADF and what it was all about was written it the first “Druids Progress.” In it, he outlined his concept of ADF as a fluid and dynamic religion, evolving and adapting ancient Pagan faiths in a modern context for his generation and continuing to evolve with the ones to follow. This Samhain marks our 30th Anniversary! Today, ADF is thriving, as generations of members grow up in the path, and are passing it on to the next generation. From it’s humble beginnings, there is now a solid core order of worship. There are currently 26 certified ordained clergy; 74 groves (congregations) in the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, and Brazil with members on 6 continents; and numerous festivals held all around the United States and Canada every year. Happy Anniversary, ADF!”

In Other Pagan Community News: 

  • A Hellenic Revival Festival in Louisiana is being planned for 2014. Quote: “Hellenic polytheists to invade South Louisiana! Thessaly Temenos, located in the Bayou Regions of South Louisiana has announced its sponsorship of a Hellenic Revival Festival to be held on their ritual grounds. The date for the festival is set for November 8th and 9th of 2014 and is being promoted as an exclusively Hellenic event – not a pan-pagan gathering.” You can find more information, here.
  • Operation Circle Care, sponsored by Circle Sanctuary, is underway once more. Quote: “At Yuletide and throughout the year, Circle Sanctuary sends care packages with Pagan books, magazines, CDs, and other spiritual resources to Wiccans and other Pagans on active duty who are currently serving overseas (both on PCS and Deployment). You can help this effort by sending us donations of new and nearly new items as well as funds to cover air mail postage.” Donation and contact information can be found, here.
  • Pagan photographer Greg Harder has a ton of cool photos up from Day of the Dead celebration at the Oakland Museum of California. Check it out!
  • This weekend is FaerieCon East in Baltimore, featuring Pagan authors Raven Grimassi and Stephanie Taylor-Grimassi, along with a large number of amazing mythic authors and artists. Of special interest will be a Sunday panel on creating tarot and oracle decks featuring Raven and Stephanie, Julia Jeffrey, Caroline Kenner of Fool’s Dog, and Gary Lippincott.

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

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note, a series more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce 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 lets get started!

Scarlet Imprint Declares War: The esoteric publishing house Scarlet Imprint, after learning of the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, has thrown down the magickal gauntlet.

“It is not enough to dither or ask What would Aleister Crowley do? We are here NOW. It is for us to confront this direct attack on our freedom. This is a critical time, and magick, if it is to prove anything at all, is the art of applying leverage at critical moments in time, as the Temple of Psychic Youth would say: To force thee hand of chance. […] We will use our art to envisage a different future. We will take magic onto the streets. We swear vengeance. And we, we are Legion.”

The publisher also suggests closing your Amazon account (because they closed Wikileak’s hosting account), closing your Mastercard and Visa account (because they froze donations to Wikileaks), and supporting the hacker attacks of Anonymous. However, they don’t suggest cancelling your Paypal account, nor have they closed theirs, even though that site has also frozen donations to Wikileaks. Then again, they also stress that the most important action is to “enchant for freedom.”

“This is a time for Witchcraft, for the birth of a rhizomatic underground of resistance. This is the Witchcraft advocated by Jack Parsons in the face of McCarthyism. This is the Witchcraft that has drunk wisdom from the bloody grail of mystery.”

The problem with all the outrage, media blitz, and no-doubt politically motivated pressure to have Assange extradited is that it is causing some reasonable people to whitewash what might have actually been rapeEngaging in some troubling victim-blaming. Perhaps these accusations are being overblown, or used as a way to “get Assange,” but they shouldn’t be erased because we support the leaking of government documents. As for Wikileaks itself, I’m generally a fan of transparency and whistle-blowers, and I’m even a fan of occasionally “crushing bastards,” but I’m not sure I’m ready to swear vengeance on its behalf just yet.

Pulling the Trigger: LAShTal points us to the launch of Trigger93: A Journal of Magic(k), Culture, and The Issues.

“Trigger93 is a radical new journal of literature, art, and the uncanny—a journal that juxtaposes magic(k)ally informed works created by established artists and academics with similar works created by established practitioners of magic(k). Our first issue, The Word, explores the relationship between language and the spirit, and includes contributions from writer and Columbia Professor, Michael Taussig; ceremonial magician, James A. Eshelman; artists Simryn Gill, Mikala Dwyer and Tamara Wyndham; and cartoonist, Seth Tobocman, to name a few. Trigger93: The Word will be available 12/17/10”

You can pre-order your copy now. Always nice to see a new esoteric/magickal publication hitting the “stands”.

The Difference Between Scholars and Practitioners: Over at Letter From Hardscrabble Creek, Chas Clifton talks about being a Pagan within Pagan Studies, and how what religion scholars do is very different from what practitioners writing for their own communities do.

So if I were revising Her Hidden Children (I have no plan to do so), I would have to take [Bron Taylor’s] ideas into account. The conversation would continue. Not that I am right and he is wrong, or vice versa, but I would have to sort out the differences and similarities, intellectual influences (e.g., he gives Henry Thoreau much more space than I do), and so on, because I think that Dark Green Religion is a significant book, and it would be a glaring omission to ignore it now.

These are just two books, against the flood of practitioner-oriented texts coming out from Llewellyn and other publishers.  And neither I nor Bron (so far as I know) are teaching workshops on “How to be a better nature-religionist,” complete with breathing exercises, movement, and song. Other people could do that much better. Audiences want to hear a speaker with a schtick.

I think some of us have fallen into the trap of labeling Pagan Studies works as “advanced” books for our faiths, when they should instead be seen as an illuminating aid towards deeper understanding of how and why we do what we do. How we got to where we are today, and what that might mean for our future. This should be separated from books that actually seek to deepen our own practices, works on practice and theology from authors like Brendan Myers or Thorn Coyle.

King Arthur Wants Reburial: The Salisbury Journal reports that Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon is seeking judicial review and reburial of cremated remains taken from Stonehenge in 2008.

King Arthur said: ‘This is not just a Druid or Pagan issue, and we have the support of thousands of people from all walks of life from nations around the world and all the major faiths, who have signed our petition demanding that the remains be re-interred at what should have been their final resting place. ‘The remains will never go on display and they should just be reburied.’ The remains were removed from the site for tests to be carried out as part of The Stonehenge Riverside Archaeological Project.

This move was sparked by Sheffield University asking for an extension to retain the remains for five years, something Pendragon vociferously opposes, calling for the “timely return of our ancestors.” As I’ve noted several times before on this site, there is no consensus among British Pagans on this issue, with many, most notably Pagans for Archeology, opposed to the reburial of ancient human remains. Other groups, like Honouring the Ancient Dead (HAD), only call for the reburial of remains that “have no scientific or research potential”.

Reminder on Operation Circle Care: I’d just like to end with a quick reminder that it’s not too late to donate towards Operation Circle Care, which sends care packages to Pagan military personnel serving in war zones.

“For the fourth year in a row, Circle Sanctuary is honoring and supporting active duty Pagan service members through Operation Circle Care. This year, we are widening our focus and sending Yuletide care packages to active duty Pagan troops serving in any overseas theater of operation, including Germany, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, or on board Navy ships. The success of this program is due to the generous support and donations from Pagan community members from many paths and places. With your continued support, it is our goal to honor and remember each and every Pagan US military service member we can with a special personalized gift for Yule, just as we have in years past.”

You can find a list of donation suggestions, and ways to help, at their web site.

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

Top Story: Today is Veteran’s Day, and we here at The Wild Hunt would like to give our thanks to all military personnel and their families for their service and sacrifices. Today is also an excellent time to think of the modern Pagans and Heathens currently serving in the military and offer them our support. A great way to do that is to support Operation Circle Care.

“For the fourth year in a row, Circle Sanctuary is honoring and supporting active duty Pagan service members through Operation Circle Care. This year, we are widening our focus and sending Yuletide care packages to active duty Pagan troops serving in any overseas theater of operation, including Germany, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, or on board Navy ships. The success of this program is due to the generous support and donations from Pagan community members from many paths and places. With your continued support, it is our goal to honor and remember each and every Pagan US military service member we can with a special personalized gift for Yule, just as we have in years past.”

Operation Circle Care is looking for contacts, donated items, and funds to help in this project. You can find details at their web site. If you know of similar efforts in other countries, or other Pagan organizations that are organizing care packages or other services, please let me know in the comments.

A Warrior’s Conscientious Objection: On a somewhat related note, we turn to the issue of conscientious objection to war. Up till now its been largely treated by the US government as an all-or-nothing enterprise, you either had to be a pacifist who objected to all conflict (like Quakers or some Pagans), or you were signed up to follow orders no matter what (lest risking dishonorable discharge or even a tribunal). But now a coalition of religious leaders and veterans are calling for the right to morally object to individual conflicts.

“In a report issued Wednesday (Nov. 10), the Truth Commission on Conscience in War called on the military to revise its rules to include “selective conscientious objection,” and urged religious leaders to address issues of conscience during wartime … The report states that current rules about conscientious objection requires an objection to “war in any form,” creating a conflict for those who may have specific moral objections to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It denies freedom of religious practice and the exercise of moral conscience to those serving in the military who object to a particular war based on the moral criteria of just war, which the military itself teaches and upholds as important,” the report reads. The report notes that military rules dating to the time of the Vietnam draft leave no legal basis for objection for someone who believes “participation implicates them in an immoral war or in war crimes.”

Such a change would be very much in keeping with many Pagan and Heathen ideas of warrior ethics and culture. Allowing participation in honorable or just conflicts while also leaving room for non-participation in situations that they feel could violate their personal/religious/cultural code of honor. Whether the military would ever be open to such a change is an open question. For those who want more information about this initiative, check out the Truth Commission on Conscience in War’s web site.

The Fate of Ali Sibat: When we last checked in with Lebanese citizen Ali Sibat, who was nearly executed for the crime of sorcery in Saudi Arabia but given a last-minute reprieve due to protests and political maneuvering, was still in a cell awaiting some word of his ultimate fate. Now news has come that a Saudi court has formally rejected his death sentence and that he be deported after a new trial.

“Saudi Arabia’s high court has rejected the execution sentence of a Lebanese man convicted of sorcery and recommended that he be deported after a new trial, a newspaper reported Thursday. The Supreme Court in Riyadh said that the death sentence for Ali Sabat was not warranted because he had not harmed anyone and had no prior offences in the country, Okaz said. The court said his case should be sent back to a lower court in Medina to be retried and recommended that Sabat, who has spent 30 months in Saudi prison since his May 2008 arrest, be deported, Okaz said.”

How long this process will take remains to be seen, but it does look like this long nightmare is finally ending for Sibat. Sadly the same can’t be said for other men and women being held in Saudi Arabia for crimes of “sorcery”, like Sudanese citizen Abdul Hamid al-Fakki, or Fawza Falih Muhammad Ali. One can only hope that discontent with the religious police grows, and we see an end to this madness.

The Further Unintended Consequences of Oklahoma’s Anti-Sharia Amendment: I’ve already discussed some of the problems with the recent anti-Sharia amendment passed by Oklahoma voters, but now even more voices are emerging to discuss the unintended consequences of this move to theoretically protect us from “creeping Sharia” law. First, the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission released an official memo on October 20 opposing the amendment, saying it could affect the “damage the sovereignty of all Oklahoma tribes.”

SQ 755, as written, prohibits an Oklahoma state court from applying any law but Oklahoma or U. S. law to settle a dispute. Further, the proposed constitutional amendment inhibits state courts from looking to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures for a decision. The language of this proposed amendment starkly reminds us that some Oklahoma lawmakers forgot that our nation and state were built on the principles, blood, and backs of “other nations and cultures,” namely, our tribes. It also ignores that Oklahoma tribes have become valuable economic partners with the State that it cannot afford to ignore or exclude.

If SQ 755 is approved, the lack of specific tribal law language could easily be interpreted by a state judge to leave no room to refer to a tribe’s law to determine the existence of a valid waiver of a tribe’s sovereign immunity, for example. Thus, SQ 755 has the potential to provide state court judges with yet another opportunity to further erode tribal sovereignty. A state court judge could rely on the amendment’s absence of recognition of any tribal law to avoid or disavow its application. Tribes and tribal members should be aware of this glaring omission for Oklahoma courts to look to and apply our tribal laws when appropriate, and vote on this question accordingly.

In addition to possibly damaging tribal sovereignty in the name of fighting Muslim theocracy the amendment is getting knocked about by the majority of commentators at the center-right politics site Politico. A judge has granted a temporary block to the amendment while the court battles commence.

Medicine Man Confidentiality: A murder trial in Canada is testing whether minority faiths and cultures are afforded the same privileges as the dominant religious traditions. Minneconjou historian Donovin Sprague claims that confidentiality between a medicine man and their clients is a well understood concept in that culture and should be respected.

Sprague said he based his opinions on his own traditional upbringing and knowledge of tribal culture, as well as on his discussions with spiritual leaders Arvol Looking Horse, Rick Two Dogs and Wilmer Mesteth. Seventh Circuit Judge Jack Delaney tried to pin Sprague down on just how far that commitment to confidentiality would go. If a child were found murdered in a traditional camp and someone confessed to a medicine man, he asked, would the medicine man still maintain confidentiality? “Traditionally … I don’t think it would be revealed,” Sprague said, but he was quick to say that one medicine man might not operate in the same way as another medicine man would. “There wasn’t like a written set of rules governing what we’re talking about here, really. … He would use his discretion what he wanted to do.”

The trial involves John Graham, who is charged with the 1975 rape and murder of Annie Mae Aquash. The motion on whether confidentiality would stand has not been ruled on yet. Whichever way the judge decides could have lasting ramifications on indigenous and minority religions in Canada, and how far confidentiality between a spiritual/religious leader and their client can go.

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

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note, a new series more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce 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 lets get started!

ADF Military Fundraiser: Three ADF groves, CedarLight Grove of Maryland, Three Cranes Grove of Ohio, and Sassafras Grove of Pennsylvania, have banded together for a Lughnasadh charity event to send care packages to Pagan military personnel serving overseas.

“For our Lughnasadh Charity event (I know, we are preparing early), CedarLight Grove will be sending care packages to our overseas pagan military thanks to Operation Circle Care of the Circle Sanctuary. Three Cranes Grove of Ohio and Sassafras Grove of Pennsylvania have also joined in the effort to make this a multi-Grove of ADF charity event!”

The event page has a list of the type of items they will be collecting. The items collected will be charged at their Lughnasadh High Rite before being assembled into packages and shipped out. For those not near any of those groves, you can always donate directly to Operation Circle Care.

Rolling Coin Ritual for Isaac Bonewits: Pagan author and elder Isaac Bonewits, currently in hospice care due to cancer, is having trouble keeping up with the large medical bills associated with his treatment. So the folks who organized a massive healing ritual for Isaac in May are now putting together a “rolling coin” ritual for July 26th.

“Isaac felt the energy we generated in May. And he sends his thanks. That was aRolling Thunder Ritual. Now we’re looking for a Rolling Coin Ritual. Medical bills date back to the fall. Since then Isaac has been in and out of the hospital with numerous surgeries and procedures. All of this has cost money, and theirs is beyond used up. So we’re trying a new twist on an old theme.
The next full moon is July 26. Any time that day or night, please go to Isaac and Phaedra’s website and make a donation. This is a simple kind of magick, and it is something that will make a major difference in their lives. Any donation of any amount will be gratefully appreciated. It’s away of paying tribute to one of our most significant Pagan elders.”

Anyone who’s dealt with cancer, or with any serious illness, without the benefit of insurance, or with insurance that wouldn’t cover all the treatment, knows how stressful an issue money can be. Blessings to those organizing this fundraiser for Isaac and Phaedra. For updates on Isaac’s health, please check out his Facebook fan page.

Michigan Metaphysical Shop in Danger: The Triple Goddess Bookstore in Okemos, Michigan (near Lansing), in business for 17 years, is in danger of being closed down due to the property being in foreclosure.

“Triple Goddess bookstore’s and the Traveler’s Club property is in foreclosure. We are trying to convince the bank and the township to save the historic corner and it’s buildings. There are people who do not have the money to purchase the properties out-right but are interested in helping to turn the businesses into profitable ones. What we need is support, and lots of it! I will be at the bookstore this Saturday with a petition for people to sign. We are also hoping to have a HUGE turnout for the event on August 7th to show the bank and the community our support.”

An all-day rally in support of the shop is being held on August 7th. Whether that can convince the bank to hold off on selling the property, or spur local politicians into action, remains to be seen. One wonders how many other shops like this are in danger of going out of business due to their property going “underwater” or into foreclosure.

SJ Tucker on Making Mischief: As I mentioned in my last community notes post, Pagan musician SJ Tucker has released a new album, entitled “Mischief”, on July 16th. For those who wanted a little more background, she has shot a promotional video talking about the process of making the album.

Tucker is currently on tour, and you can find a schedule of upcoming dates, here.

Witches & Pagans Watch: The latest issue of Witches and Pagans magazine is now out.

This issue is chock full of spellwork, practical advice, and ideas for all things green, growing, and magickal. Headlines by “the Garden Witch” Ellen Dugan, this edition is our greenest ever; from Pagan permaculture to gardening with the Elements, plus hardcore money magick, Wandering Witch goes the New Orleans, a look a Pagan metal rockers Icarus Witch and much, much more!

For those who don’t subscribe to the magazine, you can purchase a PDF version of the magazine at the site. This issue sees the premier of fellow Pagan blogger Ruby Sara, who recently did a guest column for The Wild Hunt, as a regular columnist for the magazine ( along with author Deborah Blake). Congratulations to Ruby!  I’m sure she’ll be a welcome addition to their pages.

That’s all I have for now, and remember, if your group or organization is doing something noteworthy, why not pass that information along? Have a great day!

Top Story: Pop-culture critics have been seemingly too distracted by the 3-D CGI spectacular that is “Avatar” to give much attention to the latest Disney 2-D hand-drawn “princess” movie. Luckily, Religion Dispatches delivers us temporarily from discussions about Hollywood’s pantheism to instead talk about presentations of New Orleans Voodoo in “The Princess and the Frog”. According to Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Miami, the film gives a prejudiced and misinformed” reading of the often misunderstood religion.

“I do not know where to begin my comments on how this film perpetuates offensive stereotypes about Voodoo. The loas are represented as evil spirits full of greed and anger … The terms Voodoo, Hoodoo, and conjuring are used interchangeably throughout. In the end one is presented with an evil religion that will ultimately fail. I did not expect critical race analysis or a sophisticated presentation of Voodoo when I walked into the theater. It is, after all, Disney. I did not expect such a blatant, racist, and misinformed presentation of Voodoo, however. The reduction of religion to magic is also reaffirmed in the curious absence of Catholicism in the film. My son is correct, Disney Voodoo is bad magic; it just doesn’t have anything to do with the authentic African Diaspora religion.”

In addition to getting New Orleans/Louisiana Voodoo horribly wrong, it seems the film gets New Orleans itself all wrong. In another Religion Dispatches piece, Anthea Butler, associate professor of religion at the University of Pennsylvania, says the film is a big desecrating “lump of coal” that “picks up where Katrina left off”.

“I’m going to go all out and say that the entire movie is a wholesale desecration of New Orleans, Creole culture, Cajun Culture, religion, zydeco music, the Evangeline story, and Louis Armstrong (I’ll get to that in a minute.) Rolled up, Disney hates the South, period … I know it’s only a movie, but movies shape how people, especially children, view the world. In the case of New Orleans and the myriad of cultures it holds, to stint on all of the facets that make New Orleans and Louisiana the wonderful, complex, and sometimes exasperating place that it is is a crime. Disney’s princesses, once again, may have big beautiful eyes, but while kids are enjoying the view, Disney’s hack job of deconstructing history by making it “cute” is just as destructive as a category 5 hurricane. Fun and truth do not have to be mutually exclusive to sell a movie, unless of course you’re just bankrupt of ideas.”

Of course, Disney has a long history of acquiring and terraforming pieces of culture, transforming them to a point where most people think the Disney version is the original. There’s a reason why “disneyfication” is a pejorative term. So you get a Disney New Orleans where the Voodoo is bad, Catholicism is absent, tradition is ignored, and history is mangled. In the end, it’s more about extending the Princess brand, than doing something creative or original.

In Other News: The Pierce County Herald spotlights Circle Sanctuary’s efforts to send holiday care packages to troops in Iraq.

“The Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld is also remembering soldiers at Fort Hood Texas – where a Wisconsin unit lost three of its members in last month’s shooting rampage. Selena Fox, a senior minister of the Wiccan Church, said the Circle group sent packages to about 50 active duty personnel at Fort Hood to show extra support. They’ve also provided counseling for the Pagan soldiers at the base – and they sent holiday cheer to 150 Pagan troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

I’m sure it’s still not too late to donate, and help them in their efforts.

NPR reports on the rise of sorcery and witchcraft-related arrests and sentencing in Saudi Arabia, and talks to an expert who posits that the recent increase is a reaction to the government trying to curb the influence of the religious police.

“Saudi political analyst Tawfiq al-Saif says religious authorities truly believe they are helping society by discouraging faith in the supernatural. But, he says, there is also a political reason for the recent rise in sorcery cases. In the past few years, the government has tried to curb the influence of the religious establishment by sacking key religious figures, pushing for reform in the courts and criticizing the religious police. “One time, I met the head of the Hey’a [the religious police] and he was really sorry because in the past he was saying that they were free to do whatever they like to enforce the Sharia laws — even, he said, in the public buses, in the train, in the airports,” Saif says. But now that they are under pressure, the religious police are trying to flex their muscles in the few ways they still can, including looking for people who practice magic or who don’t pray five times a day, and for women who don’t properly cover their hair, Saif says.”

Does this mean that the plight of people like Fawza Falih Muhammad Ali and Ali Sibat are due to the last grasps at control by a shrinking power in the country? Or has the “muscle flexing” by the religious police shifted matters to their liking, and we’ll only see more madness and death in the near future? I suppose it remains to be seen, but I worry that any long-term solution to this anti-sorcery madness will come too late for the unlucky caught in this cultural crossfire.

For a somewhat different take on the problem of sorcery in the Middle East, The Epoch Times looks at Dubai, who have far more liberal laws concerning sorcery, but who also deal with rampant fraud and scam-artists.

“In the United Arab Emirates, and Dubai in particular, authorities take a more liberal stance. However, because of the large number of scam artists posing as sorcerers and exorcists in Dubai, police have set up a special task to crack down on so-called “magic-related crimes.” “Some people are just simple and anything will fool them,” Khaleel Al-Mansouri, the head of Dubai’s Criminal Investigation Department, told local newspaper seven days earlier this year. “It’s due to a lack of education, but also because the victims are greedy and are looking for a quick profit. “Our officers are highly skilled and they carry out special undercover patrols in shopping malls throughout Dubai looking for any sorcery crime that might be occurring.” In 2008 alone, fraudsters fleeced Dh130 million (US$35.5 billion) out of unsuspecting members of the public in sorcery scams.”

They also manage to interview a taxi driver, Hassan Hamadi, who also works as an exorcist. He claims he charges no money for his services, and lives in fear of being arrested by the sorcery task-force. However, despite the threat of arrest, because laws are more liberal (no death-penalty) places like Oman in the Persian Gulf has become, according to one journalist, a hotbed of “sorcerers and mystics”. Such is, I believe, the consequence of creating a legal gray area. They eliminate death-penalties and long prison terms for sorcery, but enough of a penalty remains to keep the practice criminal, underground, and unregulated. One wonders if they repealed all laws and dealt with fraud on a purely secular basis if a home-grown “neo-sorcery” would emerge, much like Wicca did in England. Maybe, maybe not, but arresting, and in the case of Saudi Arabia, killing, “witches” doesn’t seem to ever “solve” the problem.

In a final note, here’s a unique opinion essay at the American Thinker by Selwyn Duke that debunks the pagan origins of Christmas, while acknowledging the great debt we owe to “pagan” pre-Christian cultures.

“If we were to discard all things pagan, I should think we’d plunge ourselves back into the Stone Age. We walk on concrete, record our knowledge with letters, and designate our months with names originated/invented by the pagan Romans. We steer our boats with rudders invented by the pagan Chinese; make calculations with numbers invented by pagan Indians; and create computer graphics, medical imaging, and designs for buildings and bridges using geometry formalized by pagan Greeks. And much of our philosophy (and much of that drawn upon by early Christians, mind you) was generated by pagans such as Aristotle and Plato. Should we “go Taliban” and burn all their works — and other books thus influenced? A pious Christian must believe that pagans could not have had the whole Truth, but only an ignorant Christian would believe they had no Truth.”

I would happily concede Christmas as wholly Christian if those same culture-warriors would acknowledge that their foundation is built on the advances made by “pagans”. Heck, I’d even call it a “Christmas miracle”.

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