Archives For Passings

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

Peter Matthiessen

Peter Matthiessen

  • Noted naturalist and author Peter Matthiessen died on Saturday after battling leukemia. Mattheiseen, a Zen Buddhist, wrote over 30 novels, was an environmental activist, co-founded the Paris Review, and famously wrote “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,” which chronicled the story of Leonard Peltier. Quote: “Matthiessen is held in such high regard as a nonfiction writer by nonfiction writers that they sometimes say, ‘How is it possible that this guy can be such a virtuoso fiction writer, and give his equally substantial body of nonfiction work such short shrift?’ Because all the rest of us are trying to do what we can to mimic his nonfiction work.” What is remembered, lives.
  • Two people in Western Kentucky have been arrested on charges of committing sexual offenses against children. One of them, Jessica M. Smith, allegedly described herself as a Witch and threatened the children with her powers. Quote: “Prosecutors say the two threatened the children with ‘hexes and curses’ [...] Police said Smith described herself as a witch and told the kids ‘she was going to put a spell on them’ and that ‘if they told anyone, something bad would happen to them.’”
  • A federal appeals panel has ruled that New York City has the right to block religious services in public schools. Quote: “The decision does not mean that the city must force religious groups out of the schools, but merely that a city prohibition on religious worship services in schools would comply with the Constitution.” Appeals are expected.
  • It seems that “real housewife” Carlton Gebbia isn’t the only reality television star who has practiced Wicca. It seems that Millionaire Matchmaker star Patti Stanger was a “real Wiccan” for six years. Quote: “I’ve studied Kabbalah, I’ve studied Wicca, so you can’t be like that. You can’t throw stones at people, because karmically it’s going to come back to you even worse then you threw it at them.”
  • Is the Internet destroying religion? A new study makes the case that the rise of the Internet has been an important factor in individuals abandoning traditional forms of religious practice. Quote: “Today, we get a possible answer thanks to the work of Allen Downey, a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, who has analyzed the data in detail. He says that the demise is the result of several factors but the most controversial of these is the rise of the Internet. He concludes that the increase in Internet use in the last two decades has caused a significant drop in religious affiliation.” Of course, correlation is not causation, but Downey says that “correlation does provide evidence in favor of causation, especially when we can eliminate alternative explanations or have reason to believe that they are less likely.”
Terence Spencer—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Terence Spencer—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

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

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!

fortean_times_12856_12Steve Moore, an author and occultist who helped found Fortean Times, passed away earlier this month. Moore worked extensively with famed comic writer Alan Moore (no relation), who credited him with learning how to write comic scripts. The Strange Attractor journal, to which Moore was a regular contributor, has posted a moving tribute. Quote: “Steve was a warm, wise and gentle man, with a surreal sense of humour and an astoundingly deep knowledge that covered history, the I Ching, forteana, magic, oriental mysticism, martial arts cinema, science fiction, underground comics and worlds more. Steve was amongst the earliest members of the Gang of Fort, who launched Fortean Timesmagazine in the early 1970s, and later edited its scholarly journal Fortean Studies. He was also the author of a great many influential comics and short stories for publications.” What is remembered, lives.

510KxQLOMyL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Anthropologist Murphy Pizza’s history and ethnography of Minnesota’s Twin Cities Pagan community, dubbed “Paganistan,” will be published by Ashgate Press in April. Quote: “The story of the community traces the formation of some of the earliest organizations and churches in the US, the influence of publication houses and bookstores, the marketplace, and the local University, on the growth and sustenance of a distinct Pagan community identity, as well as discussions of the patterns of diversifying and cohesion that occur as a result of societal pressure, politics, and generational growth within it. As the first ever study of this long-lived community, this book sets out to document Paganistan as another aspect of the increasing prevalence of Paganism in the US and contributes to the discussion of the formation of new American religious communities.” This will no doubt be required reading for many. You can find the listing, here. The hardcover is pretty spend-y, so you might want to await the paperback edition.

2014-03-15 08.46.12Sacred Space Conference board member Caroline Kenner has posted an overview of the recently held East Coast event at The Witches’ Voice. Quote: “2014 marks Sacred Space’s 24th year, an extravaganza of classes and rituals designed for an audience of intermediate to advanced magical practitioners. Each year, Sacred Space hosts national presenters as well as local teachers. This year, M. Macha Nightmare, Selena Fox and Orion Foxwood were our featured talent, and sponsored guests Jason Pitzl-Waters and Renna Shesso also joined us. We were delighted to welcome back Selena and Orion in particular: they both presented at the first conference of Sacred Space’s most recent incarnation, held in 2008. This year, we were able to give them a much larger and more vigorous audience for their teaching.” You can listen to the Appalachian Folk Traditions panel from Sacred Space here at The Wild Hunt.

In Other Pagan Community News: 

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

“We cannot effectively advocate that which we do not live. We must practice what we preach, before we begin to preach it. Our way of doing things is an integral part of our difference from the mainstream and so of the message we have been called forth to bring.”Judy Harrow

Judy Harrow

Judy Harrow

On Friday, word emerged slowly through Facebook and private correspondences that Judy Harrow, Wiccan Elder, Pagan community organizer, counselor, and author, had unexpectedly passed in her sleep. While Harrow may not have been as high-profile as some prominent individuals within our community, she had been hugely influential, laying the groundwork for many of the projects, institutions, and modes of thought we now associate with our movement.

Coming to Gardnerian Witchcraft in the middle 1970s, Harrow went on to co-found Proteus Coven, a theologically liberal manifestation of her tradition. Shortly after this, Proteus Coven affiliated with the newly-formed Covenant of the Goddess, with Harrow serving in a number of leadership roles within the national organization in the 1980s. In 1985, she was the first member of COG to be legally registered as clergy in New York City. Founding the Pagan Pastoral Counseling Network in 1982, she would go on to head the Pastoral Care and Counseling Department at Cherry Hill Seminary. In addition, Harrow did important outreach work within the fields of professional counseling and interfaith.

Judy Harrow was also active in media and publishing, producing the weekly radio feature “Reconnections,” which concerned progressive religious groups, for WBAI in New York, and authoring two books. These were “Wicca Covens: How to Start and Organize Your Own” and “Spiritual Mentoring: A Pagan Guide.” Harrow also edited the collection “Devoted To You: Honoring Deity in Wiccan Practice.”

Since word emerged of her passing on Friday, a number of tributes have been written, from both organizations and individuals within our interconnected movement.

“The Covenant of the Goddess takes a quiet moment to say farewell to one of its long-time members and elders as she crosses. Judy Harrow was instrumental in expanding CoG’s reach from its birthplace in Northern California to the East Coast. She helped to establish the North East Local Council that assisted the growing number of Wiccans and Witches in that area. Judy was also a dedicated National Board member and one of the only East Coast members in attendance at the very first Merry Meet in 1981.  Judy’s work for CoG was only a small part of who she was and of what she contributed to the growth and well-being of the Pagan community. In all her efforts, Judy was keenly aware that history was being made step-by-step. On this day in early spring, we honor all that she did, all that she was and all the beauty in the legacy that she left. What’s remembered lives. And what lives, will bloom forever.”The Covenant of the Goddess

“Judy was involved from our early years, forming and chairing the first Department of Pagan Pastoral Counseling, pushing the organization to begin aligning our training with professional requirements at a time when most Pagans still only concerned themselves with coven secrets and ritual cycles. Without her wise shaping of the program, I can’t imagine what CHS would look like now. Judy was a gifted teacher, as both our students and scores of her own lineage will attest. To thank and honor her, CHS several years ago named our online library the Judy Harrow Library. True to form, she was pleased but surprised by the fuss and wanted us to keep the title as simple as possible.”Holli Emore, Executive Director, Cherry Hill Seminary

Judy Harrow & Margot Adler. Photo by Lisa Bodo.

Judy Harrow & Margot Adler. Photo by Lisa Bodo.

“She was the only one of the members of our small Gardnerian coven, iargolon, who carried the flame far and wide, creating so many groups that everywhere I go, I get, ‘Hello Grandma, I’m downline!’”Margot Adler, author of “Drawing Down The Moon.”

“I am so sorry to hear of Judy’s passing! Judy was one of the first people I met in the Craft outside the Bay Area, many, many years ago. To me she was an example of someone who could bring together the magical disciplines with psychology and psychotherapy and her own abundant trove of common sense. She never lost sight of the need tor our groups and covens to learn group dynamics and community building skills. She is a true elder and one of the early trailblazers for the Pagan movement, and she will be deeply missed!”Starhawk

“I first met Judy many years ago, in the late 1980s, when I lived in western Masschusetts. She attended events with various groups I knew at the time, including larger festivals, traveling from the New York City area to gather with others. I remember her as being opinionated, feisty and a true firebrand; like so many of our pagan elders, the burgeoning pagan movement was an exciting space to explore and Judy was a major figure in the growth of that movement. [...] As we grow older and our pagan elders pass away (including Donald Michael Kraig earlier this week), may we never forget how these strong and spirited people forged paths and inroads for all of us, and may we continue to learn from their example and honor their work. Go in peace Judy, and may your lively conversations continue with those who have gone on before.”Peg Aloi, The Witching Hour, and The Witches’ Voice

“Oh, there’s so much more to say about Judy and her life!  Others have told their Judy stories elsewhere.  There’s plenty of drama to go round.  In my experience, however, over many years and many projects, Judy maintained the ability to keep her eye on the prize.  Regardless of personal disagreements — and they could be long and heated and irresolvable — Judy made sure we kept our focus on the goal toward which we were striving.  Her life influenced many people, from teaching coveners to getting NYC to accept CoG’s credentials, from writing a Wiccan chaplains’ manual for the military to schmoozing with world religious leaders in Barcelona, from dancing round a bonfire to helping create a respected Pagan seminary. Knowing Judy has enriched my life beyond measure.  She was a Pagan pioneer.  If you knew her, you know all this.  If you didn’t know her in life, know that her work has advanced our religions and made our futures more assured and comfortable.  She has blessed us all. Judy went to the simmering cauldron of emerging American Paganism and added something every once in a while.  Then she’d stir it to mix it all in and to keep stuff from sticking on the bottom.”M. Macha NightMare (Aline O’Brien)

“I first met Judy very late on a May evening in 1979, when I picked her up along with another friend at the Trailways Bus terminal in Framingham, MA. She had come to attend the first Rites of Spring gathering, the first large pagan festival that either of us had ever been part of. We became friends that weekend, and occasional collaborators in the years since, founding (along with a few other people) the North East Local Council of Covenant of the Goddess, and participating in a spirited panel discussion on pagan clergy in FireHeart magazine, among other things. Judy went on to become a psychotherapist, an author, the founder of the Protean tradition, and a member of the faculty of Cherry Hill Seminary. I have fond memories of the brief time we spent together in Barcelona during the 2004 Parliament of the World’s Religions, though it was painfully obvious even then that she was in poor health. I will never forget Judy telling me once how very important it was for us to always be mindful that we were writing pagan history — that one day we would be remembered as ancestors by future generations, so we needed to leave them some really good stories. Judy has now officially become part of that history, and joined the ranks of the ancestors. Farewell, my friend, I will miss you.”Andras Corban Arthen, EarthSpirit

“I am thankful for Judy, for our friendship, and for her many contributions to Paganism, to Interfaith relations, and to the Mental Health Professionals realm.  I cherish memories of our good times together at Pagan conferences and festivals over the years, and at the 2004 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain.  May her bright spirit, writings, and wisdom continue to support, encourage, and inspire.”Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary

“I want to write about Judy, but it’s too hard. It’s like I’m standing too close to something, trying to take a picture. Nothing comes into focus. It’s all too big to fit into the frame. She was family. I guess that’s what it comes down to. She could be maddening; she could be irascible. She sang off key; she made mistakes. She had the most astonishing students you could imagine; she wassmart and disciplined and passionate, and she adored reaching out to people she imagined might be more those things than she was. She was righteous to a fault, absolutely dedicated to Pagan movement and the Craft, and probably constitutionally incapable of compromising her ethics. She loved scholarship and scholars, she loved innovation and music… and she loved her community.”Cat Chapin-Bishop

“The 1990s were a time of testing boundaries, of high magic and higher tempers. From those fields rose a handful of patient and brilliant teachers, who were also visionaries about the future of these strange spiritual systems and their place in the modern world. Judy Harrow was one of those teachers, one of those visionaries. We have been blessed by her work for many years and her death leaves a hole in our springtime world. We won’t see her like again.”Byron Ballard

This is but a sampling, as I know that many more are who have been touched by her work and life are penning tributes and obituaries to this remarkable individual. As the days progress, I will spotlight them as they emerge. As for me, my interactions with Judy Harrow have been brief, but were weighted with the great admiration and respect I held for her. We overlapped a bit at Cherry Hill Seminary when I sat on their board for a short time, and I got to make her acquaintance at a PantheaCon some years ago. I remember she was quite frail at that meeting, having recently emerged from a long medical ordeal, but well enough to give me a hug and tell me that I looked far friendlier in person than in my sometimes severe online portraits. I was worried then that we would lose her, but she rallied and remained a strong presence in our community for years to come.  Now that she has truly left us, I find myself wishing I had found the time to speak with her more, to learn from her history more, to step aside from my deadlines and drink deeply of her experience.

Losing Donald Michael Kraig and Judy Harrow in the same week draws attention to the fact that our elders, teachers, and visionaries are a precious resource that we can lose at any moment. Some, we are prepared for, and some hit us hard, but all take with them their vibrant spirit, though they may leave their teachings and legacies. This should be a moment of awakening for us, to truly honor those who blazed the trails we now seek to travel on, to preserve as much as we can of their work and life for future generations. We have the means, technology, and ability to do this work, all we need to do is find the time and will. There are some nascent projects on this front, but we need more.

As for Judy Harrow, you will never be forgotten. You have enriched us, you have fought for us, and you have given your life in service to our faiths. You live still with us, especially with the many Witches you’ve shaped. Rest now in the arms of the gods and return to us again.

Author, lecturer, and magician Donald Michael Kraig died yesterday after battling an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer. Kraig was a very influential author and thinker in the realms of ritual magic(k), magical theory, and related practices. He is perhaps best known for his book Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts, which was dubbed a “modern-day classic” by Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero. Other recent works included a remembrance of author Scott Cunningham, and an occult-themed thriller novel. He was also an acquisitions editor at Llewellyn Worldwide.

Here is the official announcement from his wife, Holly Allender Kraig.

Donald Michael Kraig and Holly Allender Kraig. Photo: Elysia Gallo.

Donald Michael Kraig and Holly Allender Kraig. Photo: Elysia Gallo.

Donald Michael Kraig died on 3/17/2014.

 It is with great sadness that I announce that Donald Michael Kraig took his last breaths last night (3/17/2014) and died. He has crossed over to Summerland and is finally no longer suffering. The type of cancer he had was just too aggressive for us to do any more treatments and his body finally gave way. He did not suffer. He simply slipped away in his sleep.

 In lieu of flowers or cards, please consider donating to the fund [linked here] to help offset medical expenses and, now, funeral expenses.

 At a later date to be named, there will be a memorial service celebrating his life and what he meant to all of us.


Holly Allender Kraig

Tributes to the life of this influential magical polymath have already started to appear. All of them praising a life well lived, one that made a deep impression on all who got to meet him.

Donald Michael Kraig & Christopher Penczak

Donald Michael Kraig & Christopher Penczak

“As the author of Modern Magick, Don was one of the first to blend the traditions of “High Magick” with the sensibilities of Neopaganism. He worked to break down the walls between the two. His writing was clear, common sense, and accessible, without ever sacrificing intellectual rigor. He applied those same standards to the excellent follow-up, Modern Sex Magick. Don was fun, funny, playful, and full of life. He is one of the people truly responsible for my career as a Pagan author, encouraging me to write a book over and over. He worked with me on the sex magic section of The Way of Four Spellbook. I asked him to read the section because I respected his expertise on the subject, and he was generous with his time and input. I am going to miss him a lot. May he be born again to those who love him, and know them, and love them again.”Deborah Lipp

“It’s a sad day for modern Pagans, as we lost one of the best men in our ranks. Donald Michael Kraig passed away last night following a battle with pancreatic cancer. He inspired so many with his books like Modern Magick, and he inspired me personally in ways I’m too sad to describe right now. We love you Don and happy travels, my friend!”Melanie Marquis

“I’m very sad right now with the passing of Donald Michael Kraig. And seems so weird to be writing about it on FB. I just heard he passed after his fight with pancreatic cancer, same as my Mother had. Don has always been incredibly kind and encouraging to me. We only saw each other once or twice a year, usually at Pantheacon, but had a good time, even if was a brief catch up in the busy hallways or a drink at one of the suites. I was a huge fan of Modern Magick, and when I first became a Llewellyn Worldwide author, someone at LL told Don that, and while he was visiting the Minneapolis office at the same time, we would not be crossing paths. He changed his travel plans so we could have a little time together talking at the office before he caught his plane. And that generosity set the tone of our relationship for years to come.”Christopher Penczak

“With great sadness I have just learned that my friend Donald Michael Kraig crossed last night after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. Don and I have been friends since the late 1970s. He showed me great kindness over the years, and was always there with encouragement, a smile, and a really bad joke. He taught me much through simply being the good man that he was in this lifetime. I do not say goodbye, I say ‘Until we meet again, my old friend.’”Raven Grimassi

As for me, I can only reiterate what I said on learning he was battling cancer.

“Donald Michael Kraig is not only a noted author and thinker, he’s also a charming, funny, and supportive individual. When I was invited to my very first festival as a newly minted “Big Name Pagan” I was very nervous, and felt completely out of my depth. My first talk during that weekend was attended by, like, 4 people, and very few people there had heard of me. Luckily, Don was there, and was very supportive. He attended my second talk (which was better attended) and afterwards praised my performance, saying I was a natural at public speaking. Now, whether this was true is up to debate, but perhaps he helped make it true by saying it to me, reminding me that I had done the work to be invited there, and that I did have something to contribute (magick!).

Just as Don had helped me, so he has helped many other people in his life, which is as good an argument for extending his remarkable life as any (that, and the amazing stories of his rock-n-roll past). Also, to be frank, the Pagan community can’t bear to lose a wit of his caliber.”

This is a great loss for our interconnected communities in so many ways. He was a man who lifted his friends up, made his enemies look foolish, and was deeply generous with his knowledge, wisdom, and infectious sense of humor. If we truly return on this wheel again, then I hope it spins quickly and brings his spirit back to us, because the qualities he brought to us are needed now more than ever. I take solace knowing that he will be remembered, and what is remembered lives.

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!

Modrzyk MemoriesOn February 5th, it was reported that Stanley Modrzyk (1945 – 2014), founder & High Priest of the first Temple of the Craft of W.I.C.A., had passed away. Modrzyk was the author of two books on Wiccan practice, and was one of the founding members of the Midwest Pagan Council and of the Pan Pagan Festival, one of the first and oldest running festivals in the Midwest United States from which Pagan Spirit Gathering and Chrysalis Moon got their start. A longtime activist for his faith in the Midwest, Stanley made many media appearances, and organized to stop faux-witch-burnings during Halloween celebrations in the Chicago area. A wake will be held on Feb. 14th from 2-8pm at Joseph Nosek and Sons Funeral Home, 6716 W. 16th Street in Berwyn, IL. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that people donate to JDRF -Junior Diabetic Research Fund or The Chicago Lighthouse. The family is asking those that cannot make the wake to light a candle for him on Friday, Feb. 14th at 7pm. Stanley Modrzyk is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and daughter, Lizzy, who are both active within the Craft. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary and Pagan Spirit Gathering said that she is “thankful for his many positive contributions to the Craft & Paganism.” What is remembered, lives.

1484086_253554558146286_1250339820_nA new Pagan organization has formed, one dedicated to supporting infrastructure and developing small Pagan institutions. Quote: “Announcing the Pantheon Foundation: building 21st Century Pagan infrastructure. We are a California non-profit religious corporation applying for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. Our mission is to provide IRS group exemptions for Pagan organizations through fiscal sponsorship, develop Pagan ministry, study the history, promote the culture, and advance the social welfare of Pagans and the Pagan community.” Pantheon Foundation will be holding a reception at PantheaCon 2014 this weekend, Saturday, 9pm, in Suite 1060. One of its main functions, providing fiscal sponsorship, will directly benefit The Wild Hunt, and once final paperwork is done, donations to this site will be tax-deductible. Co-founder Sam Webster says that, quote, “we have finally built a Pagan religious non-profit organization to serve the many needs of our community and provide legal coverage for our small organizations.” More announcements will be forthcoming, for those who can’t be at PantheaCon.

polytheist leadership conferenceLast week I mentioned that a proposed Polytheist Leadership Conference was moving forward, now, co-organizer Galina Krasskova elaborates further on plans at the Witches & Pagans Magazine site. Quote: “The Polytheist Leadership Conference will take place Friday, July 11th through Sunday, July 13th – though we’ve made arrangements so that you can get the block room rate if you want to come in earlier on Thursday. We’ll begin on Friday at 3:00pm with an opening prayer to our collective dead and polytheist predecessors and then have a lecture and roundtable discussion with the rest of the evening devoted to socializing and networking. We’ll start at 10:00am on Saturday with a full day of workshops, lectures and roundtable discussions ending at 8:00pm. There’ll be half hour breaks between each session and an extended lunch and dinner. Sunday begins at 10:00am and has two sessions with a social lunch and then a closing ceremony at 3:00pm.” An official website is now up so attendees can register. You can also find further details there about the conference.

In Other Pagan Community News:

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

I want to acknowledge the passing of legendary folk musician and activist Pete Seeger, who died on Monday at the age of 94 of natural causes.

Mr. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10, from college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama. For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.”

While not a Pagan, Seeger did briefly belong to a Unitarian-Universalist church, and ascribed to himself a kind of pantheistic view of religion

“I feel most spiritual when I’m out in the woods. I feel part of nature. Or looking up at the stars. [I used to say] I was an atheist. Now I say, it’s all according to your definition of God. According to my definition of God, I’m not an atheist. Because I think God is everything. Whenever I open my eyes I’m looking at God. Whenever I’m listening to something I’m listening to God.”

Throughout his life, Seeger was an actively and unapologetically left-wing in his politics, which led to him being blacklisted by the entertainment industry for decades after his appearance at the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955.

“I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Willis, or yours, Mr. Scherer, that I am any less of an American than anybody else. I love my country very deeply, sir.”

There are many, many, places out there paying tribute to Seeger, for his politics, for his environmental activism, for his role in (at least) two folk-music revivals, but I want to leave this short tribute on a more whimsical note. You see, Seeger had a hand in popularizing the filk-music classic “That (Real) Old Time Religion,” which became something of a classic amongst certain portions of our community.

In the end, Seeger was someone who wanted everyone to sing along, to be engaged, and for that alone, he should be remembered and honored.

“He was a person who believed deeply that people should sing, in groups, with harmony, in public — and not just in church. He was a passionate director of probably thousands of pickup choirs, formed at the beginnings of performances and disbanded when they were over. That became even more true as he got older and his voice weakened, but it was true all along.”

Rest well Pete, thanks for everything.

On Monday, Lithuanian news outlets reported that Jonas Trinkūnas, the krivis (supreme priest) and founder of Romuva, the revived ethnic Pagan religion of Lithuania, was transported to the hospital and died. He was 76 years old. On hearing the news, Andras Corban Arthen, the founder and spiritual director of the EarthSpirit Community, posted a heartfelt tribute to his friend and colleague.

Jonas Trinkunas

Jonas Trinkunas

“My heart is broken — my dear friend Jonas Trinkunas, head of Romuva (the traditional pagan religion of Lithuania) died earlier today. I knew Jonas for twenty years; he was a great man, who kept true to his beliefs despite all manner of struggles and religious persecution. He was an inspiration not only to Romuvans, but to the Lithuanian people, and was honored for his work by the president of Lithuania last year. And he was also a great inspiration to those of us who had the privilege of knowing him — I am so glad that many of our EarthSpirit folks got to meet him last summer when he and some of his family visited us. Go in peace, my friend; I will find you in the fire, and the thunder, and the rich dark earth.”

Trinkunas was not only someone who spearheaded the revival of his country’s ethnic pre-Christian faith, he was also an activist who helped found the World Congress of Ethnic Religions (now the European Congress of Ethnic Religions), a major organizing resource for revived pre-Christian traditions across Europe. In acknowledgement for this contribution toward the growth of ethnic religions and ancient traditions, the Supreme Council of the Ethnikoi Hellenes (YSEE) in Greece posted the following message on hearing of his death.

“Farewell into the world of your Ancestors, Jonas, our beloved friend, our respectable President. It was a big honor for us that our paths met in the struggle to restore the ancestral Traditions. You will forever live in our hearts.” - Marina Psaraki, Vlassis Rassias, Yiannis Bantekas, on behalf of the Supreme Council of the Ethnikoi Hellenes (YSEE)

Trinkūnas, and Romuva, inhabited a special place within the minds of those who practice ethnic faiths and reconstructed Pagan traditions, since Lithuania was the last pagan nation of Europe to convert to Christianity, and thus, could claim a strong connection to its ancient pre-Christian traditions. Nor did Inia and Jonas Trinkūnas remain content to quietly practice in Lithuania, forming a touring band, Kūlgrinda, which released several albums and helped spread the message of their traditions to a wider audience.

“Another great light has been dimmed in this world. May it’s memory live on in our hearts. I am so honored to have met such a great Spirit. We will call your name at Samhain. What is remembered lives. Until we meet again.” - Angie Buchanan, Gaia’s Womb/Earth Traditions

In recent years, Jonas Trinkūnas spent increasing time as an ambassador for Romuva, speaking at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and was rewarded with the prestigious Order of the Grand Duke Gediminas, one of Lithuania’s top civilian honors.

(l. to r.) Inija Trinkūnienė, President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Jonas Trinkūnas

(l. to r.) Inija Trinkūnienė, President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Jonas Trinkūnas

“The award was personally bestowed by Dalia Grybauskaitė, the president of Lithuania, who praised Jonas for his involvement with the underground resistance against the Soviet regime which ruled Lithuania for over forty years, as well as for his work in preserving traditional Lithuanian religion and literature.”

These honors and tributes are mere shorthand for an incredible and rich life, one lived in complete service to his religion, to his country, and to its ancient traditions and gods. You can read more about his life and his many accomplishments at Romuva’s official obituary for their supreme priest.

“I am very sad to learn that Jonas Trinkunas, the founder and leader of the Lithuanian Pagan movement Romuva, passed away today. He had some health problems in recent years, and died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital in Vilnius. I first met him in 1996 on my first visit to Lithuania. I saw him for the last time in October of last year (2013). He was a true gentleman, that is, a deeply gentle soul, who tried to be helpful to everyone who came his way, but who also had a strong dedication to Lithuania and Romuva that carried him through many trials and tribulations. I will miss him deeply. My heart goes out to his wife Inija and his family.” - Michael Strmiska, author of “Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives.”

A funeral is planned for Wednesday in Lithuania. May he be with his gods. What is remembered, lives.

Last night, Clayton James, the partner of Eduardo “Eddy”Gutiérrez (aka Hyperion), posted to Facebook that the prominent rootworker, podcaster, priest, and community leader had died from a sudden cardiac event earlier in the afternoon. He was 38.

Eddy Gutiérrez

Eddy Gutiérrez

“Today, at 3PM, Eduardo Manuel Gutierrez, love of my life, Died at the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital after suffering a cardiac event. He was 38 Years old. There are many, many people who will miss him and at this time it is difficult for his loved ones to contact everyone individually so I am publicly providing this notice. We will update everyone publicly as we try to move forward. [...] Thank you and love to all.”

At the news, the many, many people Gutiérrez had touched in his work started posting tributes and remembrances for a man who proudly labeled himself a “modern day witch doctor” and was a voice of love and empowerment for Pagan men-who-love-men.

“Creator didn’t bless me with a good brother by blood, but He did at least let me have a good brother for a good part of my life. I love you, Eddy Gutiérrez.”Mambo T Chita Tann

“A candle lit for my friend and brother of the art, Eddy Gutierrez; Rev. Hyperion; Dr. E., who died today unexpectedly at the age of 38. He was an initiate of several spiritual and magical traditions, and was the founder of the Unnamed Path, a shamanic tradition for men-who-love-men. I had the pleasure of knowing Eddy in overlapping spiritual circles, and am proud that he was my Reiki Master/Teacher. We shared several deep conversations over wine (and pomegranate margaritas!) about magic, spirits, and the nature of the gods. He was charming, intelligent, witty, bright, and passionate. Eddy, May your soul be surrounded by light, and may you find peace in the darkness. Your work and spirit has touched many. May the passion you had in life live on in the communities you served. I will remember you. And what is remembered lives.”Storm Faerywolf

“Eddy Gutiérrez, you were a wonderful brother, a compassionate leader, a voice of strength, and tender beloved to Clayton James, an amazing son, a true man of spirit. Thank you for all you did for us in this world, and please do watch over us from the next.”Yeshe Rabbit

“I just received the saddest news from Vicky Sirgo Gutierrez — my dear friend and fellow conjure doctor, Dr. E., Eddy Gutiérrez, died today of a massive heart attack. My soul is weeping for his partner, Clayton James, for his mother Vicky, and for all of us who came to know and love him over the years. He was a stalwart, strong, ethical, and loyal leader in both the Santeria and hoodoo communities, and there will never be another like him. Goodbye, my font-nerd buddy, dear friend, and great-souled fellow-traveller!”Catherine Yronwode

“Blessings of an easy transition to the spirit world for Eddy Gutierrez (Rev Hyperion/Dr. E). I’m still shocked about the news and going to light a candle to the ancestors. Remembering our first meeting at Kevin’s kitchen table over pizza on my first book tour…. Sad.”Christopher Penczak

“Blessed be, you, Eddy, Hyperion. May your spirit find rest, and then enter a joyous journey into your next adventure, whatever that may be. You were a true priest. What is remembered, lives.”T. Thorn Coyle

Gutierrez was the founder of The Unnamed Path, a shamanic path for men-who-love-men, a graduate of catherine yronwode’s Hoodoo Rootwork Correspondence Course, and member of AIRR (Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers). He also founded the Stone and Stang gathering, and The Unnamed Path podcast. He was an initiated Wiccan High Priest, and an initiate in Santeria. You can read a fuller biography, here.

“Today, the world lost a great Santero and Conjure man; Eddy Gutierrez passed to his next realm after suffering a massive cardiac event. Eddy was, and is, one of my primary inspirations; his tireless and stunning body of work written to support his tradition with education, integrity, and a sharp eye (and tongue) for fraudulent practices of others has always been a source of inspiration to me… someone I always wished I could be and treasured as a friend and role model. Our world was greatly enriched by his presence and his knowledge, and he will be sorely missed.”Houngan Matt (aka Bozanfè Bon Oungan)

I was honored to meet Eddy/Hyperion back in 2011 at PantheaCon, where we were on a leadership panel together. I found him to be warm, funny, caring, and deeply passionate about his work. I know for a fact that he inspired great love and loyalty, and that the many who love him are grieving this transition. This is a major loss for our community, a leader cut down in his prime. My heart and condolences go out to all who were connected to Eddy Gutiérrez, what is remembered, lives.

ADDENDUM: A memorial fund drive has been set up to assist Eddy Gutiérrez’s partner and family during this time of need.

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!

worldwide heathen census asatru norse mythology blog norsemythResults from the 2013 Worldwide Heathen Census have been posted at The Norse Mythology Blog. According to Dr. Karl Seigfried, who initiated the project, “the results will give at least an approximate answer to a question on the minds of many heathens: ‘How many of us are there?’” So what is the estimated number of Heathens worldwide based on the results? From the over 16,000 entires, Seigfried believes there to be around 36, 289 Heathens in the world. As for what this project signifies? According to Dr. Seigfried it is, quote, “a wonderful take-home message from the census is that, when there is something positive for everyone to work towards, the often furious disagreements between various branches of the heathen community can be temporarily put aside. I was very glad to see posts by and receive emails from people who don’t agree with my approach to mythology and heathenry, yet still took part in the census and urged their friends to do so, as well. I was very happy to see members of diametrically opposed heathen communities urge people to take part in the survey.” You can see all of my reporting on this project here. It should be interesting to see how Heathen organizations like The Troth react to the projected numbers.

RandyDavidRIP-1024x1024T. Thorn Coyle has posted a moving remembrance of Randy David Jeffers (aka Randy Sapp), a musician, magician, incense maker, and co-owner of San Francisco-area metaphysical shop The Sword and Rose (currently closed). Jeffers tragically died from wounds sustained in a fire on Christmas evening. Quote: “Randy Jeffers was as kind to me the day I showed up at The Sword and the Rose – age 18, fresh to San Francisco – as he was twenty years later, when my first book came out, and as he was years after that, whenever I stopped by. I didn’t see him as often in the later years as those early ones, but when I did, there was always something of interest to talk about as he carefully packaged blessed oils and fragrant incense. This one to the Faerie Queen. That one to Ganesh. This one to the Djuat. That, to Tetragrammaton. [...] Every person who planned to visit San Francisco, looking for interesting places to go, I sent to the Sword and the Rose. People from many parts of the globe visited the shop. A hidden gem, tucked back behind two buildings and a small garden courtyard, fountain always burbling. Lit by a fire in winter. Warm or cool, depending on what was needed. Always hidden. If you didn’t know it was there, there was no way you could find it. Even people who had instructions sometimes missed the way inside. The shop is hardly big enough to hold much more than the rows of bottles filled with Randy’s art – everything blended and consecrated in sacred space. Magic. All of it. Just like Randy’s life.” Links to donate to his partner, injured in the fire, along with more remembrances, can be found at Thorn’s entry. What is remembered, lives.

304902_345967782158513_2076648666_nAfter last year’s successful event at PantheaCon in San Jose, Coru Cathubodua and Solar Cross Temple are teaming up again with Blood Centers of the Pacific to organize a blood drive in honor of, quote, “the Morrigan, your own Gods, or to help save a life.” To pre-register for the drive, simply head to this appointment form, and type “Pcon” into the top box to see available appointments. Here’s what Coru and Solar Cross had to say about the drive last year, which drew over 90 people: “Every three seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. The Coru Priesthood and Solar Cross are hosting this blood drive as an act of kinship, hospitality and devotion to our community and to the Morrigan, Celtic Goddess of sovereignty, prophecy, and battle. We encourage all people to donate the gift of life, whether in the name of your own deities, the Morrigan or without devotional intent.” So if you can, sign up to be a Blood Hero!

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • Pagan singer-songwriter Sharon Knight writes in honor of her friend, Teresa Morgan, who died on December 26th. Quote: “Teresa was a trained magician. And honestly, I have no better explanation for why her death was so much more majestic than my father’s. She departed this world in an array of lights, shimmering blues and golds and whites. I began seeing these lights as soon as we got the phone call on Christmas night, and they lasted several days after her passing.” What is remembered, lives.
  • Journalist Beth Winegarner, whose new book “The Columbine Effect” explores how different teen pastimes got “caught in the crossfire” after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, will be having her book launch, with reading and Q&A, at Bird & Beckett in San Francisco on January 13th. Quote: “Stop blaming teen violence on the wrong things–and…understand how Slayer, Satanism and Grand Theft Auto can be a healthy part of growing up.”
Selena Fox

Selena Fox

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

“The exploration of oneself is usually also an exploration of the world at large, of other writers, a process of comparison with oneself with others, discoveries of kinships, gradual illumination of one’s own potentialities.”Colin Wilson

On Thursday, December 5th, noted English author and philosopher Colin Wilson passed away at the age of 82. Wilson rose to prominence in 1956 on the publication of his book “The Outsider,” which explored alienation and creativity in the modern mind. However, for many individuals involved in modern Paganism, ritual magick, and the occult, Wilson is best known for his many works exploring those topics, including “The Occult: A History,” published in 1971,  “Aleister Crowley: The Nature of the Beast,” published in 1987, and a large number of explorations on unexplained phenomena, life-after-death exploration, and mysticism.

Colin Wilson

Colin Wilson

“Religion, mysticism and magic all spring from the same basic ‘feeling’ about the universe: a sudden feeling of meaning, which human beings sometimes ‘pick up’ accidentally, as your radio might pick up some unknown station. Poets feel that we are cut off from meaning by a thick, lead wall, and that sometimes for no reason we can understand the wall seems to vanish and we are suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of the infinite interestingness of things.” ― Colin Wilson, The Occult

During an era when books on Witchcraft, magic, or the occult were still hard to come by, Wilson, and other authors, bridged the gap between the first books authored by modern Pagans, and the (comparatively) robust market that was to come in the 1980s and 90s. T. Thorn Coyle, in tribute posted to her public Facebook page, noted how Wilson’s books helped the spiritual teacher and activist as a young searcher.

“Rest well, Colin Wilson, chronicler of the esoteric, the occult, and the mysterious. I appreciated your books as a teen searching for something…more. Your thoughts were good companions, and the story of your own search strangely helped my own. What is remembered, lives.”

Author Vivianne Crowley, a Jungian psychologist and faculty at Cherry Hill Seminary, knew Wilson personally, and placed his death in the context of many others who’ve recently passed that had touched her life.

“Sad to hear of another death on Thursday of someone I admire – Colin Wilson, occult author and philosopher. I first read his books in the ’70s and was fortunate to spend some time with him in the 90s. This summer I had a personal project to re-read all his novels, which I’m glad I completed. So many deaths over the last few weeks – Nelson Mandela, John Tavener, Olivia Durdin-Robertson, our lovely friend Anne, and now Colin It’s sad that we’re losing the spiritual pioneers of the ’60s and ’70s. Let’s honour and appreciate them while they are still with us.”

At the film site Brutal As Hell, editor Ben Bussey pays tribute to the pulpy film (Lifeforce) made out of one of his stories (which Wilson hated), and notes that we should see this time as one of transition for Wilson, rather than sadness.

“Wilson believed wholeheartedly that death was not the end. As such, rather than mourn, I’ll wish him a comfortable period of transition, thank him for his lifetime of work, and congratulate him for having been able to devote his time on earth to that which was of greatest importance to him; reading, writing, and thinking. That in itself is a thoroughly admirable achievement to which I’ve no doubt a great many of us aspire.”

On that note, I will wish Wilson well in whatever adventure awaits him. For those who’d like to explore Wilson’s life and work in more detail, the site Colin Wilson World has many resources, interviews, and works by the author to peruse.