As we reported in February, the trial had begun in the Phoenix Goddess Temple prostitution case. At the time, temple leader Tracy Elise told The Wild Hunt that she believed that she would be found innocent because she was “confident that the jurors recognize that the Phoenix Goddess Temple was never the brothel that prosecutors claimed.” However, on Mar 2, the jury disagreed and handed down a guilty verdict on all 22 counts.
Among those charges were the “conspiracy to commit illegal enterprise, illegal control of an enterprise, operating or maintaining a house of prostitution, multiple counts of money laundering and multiple counts of pandering.”
During the trial, Elise maintained that the temple was not a house of prostitution but a space offering spiritual services. In defense of that position, Elise’s son, Ben Wade, told local reporters, “We have the freedom of religion, […] The statute said, ‘No, you cannot touch genitals.’ To us, our religion and our belief, the body is the temple. The body is sacred. That may include the genitals. In fact, I’m pretty sure it does.”
However, the jury did not see it that way. After the verdict was read, Elise was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom. Elise’s sentencing date is set for Apr. 8.
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Author Raymond Buckland has been a public figure on the international Pagan scene for many decades. He is author of the popular book Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft and the founder of Seax-Wicca, among other things. However, over the past decade, Buckland has been dabbling in crafts that are external to his past work, including writing the fiction series The Bram Stoker’s Mysteries.
More recently, Buckland has been spotted doing standup comedy periodically at a local hotel in Millersburg, Ohio. At each recorded event, Buckland stands comfortably at the microphone with a brick wall behind him. He wears a black bowler hat and vest, which give him a distinguished and stylized appearance. The crowd can be heard laughing in the background as he delivers his jokes.
Buckland has uploaded several of his routines to YouTube, including the latest which he performed March 5.
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Coming this fall to Brighton will be a new play called Doreen: an English Witch. Written by Archie Caine and Roman Withers, and produced by Normal People Productions, the new play is scheduled to run around the same time as the two Brighton Witchcraft exhibitions sponsored by the Doreen Valiente Foundation (DVF) and the Centre for Pagan Studies (CPS).
As quoted in Pagan Dawn, Withers said, “The play will be a talking head style play, featuring a single set throughout, and will see Doreen tell stories of her life, ranging from meeting Gerald Gardner all the way to her last partner Ron, with the help of a training postulate.” The magazine also reports that “well-known local actress Peta Taylor” has accepted the title role of Doreen.
DVF has reportedly offered its full support in the writing and staging of the play, and will be receiving all production profits. Currently, Normal People Productions is advertising the play’s run dates as Nov 21-25 at the Emporium. However, Pagan Dawn has reported that this information is not accurate. The location and run time have apparently changed, and will be announced in the coming months.
In Other News:
- The Sacred Space Conference begins Thursday in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Sacred Space is an “annual esoteric conference on the East Coast for intermediate to advanced practitioners.” As noted on the website, each year featured guests and a “host of highly qualified regional teachers offer a wide variety of workshops and rituals developed for a more advanced audience.” This year’s feature presenters include: Ian Corrigan, Ivo Dominguez Jr. and Ellen Lorenzi-Prince. The conference will run through Sunday and is held at the Hunt Valley Inn. For up to the minute information on changes and announcements, attendees can follow Sacred Space on Facebook.
- Speaking of conferences, the Pagan Federation International is getting ready for its 16th annual conference held in the Netherlands April 16. The day-long event will be hosted at “Lunteren in the national park ‘de Hoge Veluwe.’ ” The guest speaker is Julian Vayne who will offer talks on both ‘Chaos Magic and Witchcraft’ and ‘The Medicine Path – psychedelics and spirituality.’ And, in the evening, the Irish & American folk band Tobermore will perform. Registration and tickets are available through the PFI-Netherlands website.
- Members of Hearthstone Grove, ADF have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help purchase land for future use as a “shared meeting, camping, and ritual space.” The campaign reads, “Our vision is for our grove to own and steward a public space specifically for Austin paganism to be practiced and for groups to host their Things.” Organizers have already chosen a 10-acre, fully-wooded property that will reportedly meet all organizational needs. Their future plans are fully explained on the campaign site. Hearthstone Grove, ADF is an Austin-based congregation “devoted to practicing the religion of our Celtic Ancestors.”
- Published today, the Temple of Witchcraft’s podcast, Voices of the Temple, featured an interview with Tim Titus. In this episode, host Adam Sartwell speaks with Titus about “his work with Virgo ministry’s healing case study group and beginning to teach for the Mystery School in California.” The podcast lasts for 20 minutes and can be downloaded or streamed directly from the Temple’s website.
- The second issue of A Beautiful Resistance will be available May 1. It has been “edited by Lancashire poet and awenydd Lorna Smithers” with a foreword by “UK animist, mystic, and anarchist Emma Restall Orr.” Editors have posted information about pre-sales, and the full list of contributors will be shared Apr. 1.
- As a reminder, for those attending Paganicon, please join The Wild Hunt writers and editors for an evening social on Friday, March 18 at 9 p.m. in Suite 217. Paganicon is an annual conference held at the Doubletree Park Place in Minneapolis Minnesota. It runs from Mar. 18-20.