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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!

A Farewell to Therianthropy: Pagan and neo-shamanic practitioner Lupa, author of books like “New Paths to Animal Totems” and  “Skin Spirits,” has announced that she’s letting her book “A Field Guide to Otherkin” go out of print. In the announcement she explains that she feels the resources in the book have become dated, that it isn’t up to her current standards, and that she has stopped identifying herself as Otherkin.

Lupa

Lupa

“So now here I am in 2013, and I have a confession to make: I no longer identify as a therianthrope, and I haven’t for quite some time. I’ve sat with that reality for a while, checking in with myself and making sure it wasn’t just a phase. But no, it just doesn’t fit any more; it’s not a framework that explains me. There’s still a piece of me that I feel resonates more with wolf than human, but at this point I don’t think it’s anything more than a bit of creative personal narrative, part of the ongoing myth I tell about myself. For me, the wolf is a metaphor, a piece of spirituality internalized. Sure, I’ve always leaned toward the personal mythology hypothesis of “what are Otherkin”, but the idea that I am fundamentally not human on some level just doesn’t fit. I am a human animal, 100%, just with a particular connection to the idea of “wolfness”. Call it an inner connection to my totem, or a super-charged “favorite animal”; either of those fit me better than “therian”, or “shifter”, or any of the other terms that set animal-people apart from humanity as a whole.”

The book will officially go out of print on the first of May. As the sole book devoted only to Otherkin, it has been repeatedly cited by scholars interested in the subject. The latest edition of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions featured two articles on Otherkin/Therianthropy and Pagan scholar Chas Clifton noted that both heavily relied on Lupa’s “A Field Guide to Otherkin.” You can read an interview I conducted with Lupa about the book, here.

The Life of a High Priestess: Deborah Lipp, author of several books on Wicca and magical practice, including “The Study of Witchcraft: A Guidebook to Advanced Wicca” and “The Way of Four Spellbook: Working Magic with the Elements” has written a memoir about her life as a High Priestess, and the relationships she formed over the years with people like Isaac Bonewits (to whom she was once married), Scott Cunningham, and Timothy Leary. In a guest post at Llewellyn’s blog, Lipp discusses why she wrote “Merry Meet Again: Lessons, Life & Love on the Path of a Wiccan High Priestess.”

Isaac Bonewits and Deborah Lipp at Starwood, 1987

Isaac Bonewits and Deborah Lipp at Starwood, 1987

“Why did I do this? My book was, in part, an outcome of bereavement counseling: When my ex-husband, Isaac Bonewits, was in the last days of his life, and after he died, I found myself looking back on my years with him in a way that cried out for organization, and I organize myself by writing. In part, because my path to Paganism is a path that is at risk of being forgotten: The pre-Internet, deeply closeted, ‘is there anyone out there?’ years are no more, and a journey that was meaningful to many thousands of people risks being treated as fiction. I wanted to document it. I capped off my book with my fiftieth birthday; it felt like a bookend; it felt apropos.”

I am personally excited by this development because I’m an on-the-record advocate for our elders recording their stories, their histories, whether that be in book form, or via recorded interviews. Llewellyn’s recent foray into publishing memoirs and remembrances, like Donald Michael Kraig’s short e-book about his friend, the author Scott Cunningham, is a welcome trend. One that I hope continues. The better documented our past, the better we can understand the forces that have shaped our community into what it is today. I look forward to reading Lipp’s book.

Author Raises Money to Cover Family Medical Expenses: Trish Telesco, author of several Pagan and magical titles, including “How To Be A Wicked Witch” and “Which Witch Is Which?: A Concise Guide to Wiccan and Neo-Pagan Paths and Traditions” is raising funds after her husband was diagnosed with an unexpected tumor on his brain stem.

Trish Telesco

Trish Telesco

“My husband went to the hospital Monday with what we thought was a blood pressure issue. By Weds. he was in brain surgery for a tumor on his brain stem. There is no question that the expense for this procedure will go way beyond what we can pay in a lifetime (or two). I couldn’t even figure out a goal amount. I am trying to set up a fund that will be used ONLY for the medical co-pays.”

That fundraiser was started in September, but the surgeries and tests continue. According to public posts at her Facebook profile there have been some positive developments, but the fiscal problems will be an ongoing issue even after the hospital stay is over. Until America has a real medical social safety net, people’s lives will be thrown into fiscal crisis whenever a major medical problem emerges, and this is but one close-to-home example. If Trish Telesco’s books and work have brought something to your life consider giving back by donating to the medical fund.

In Other Community News:

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

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

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

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

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

A somewhat lazy Sunday today, exacerbated by the fact that I have a lingering upper respiratory infection. So I thought I’d do a quick round-up and check in with my colleagues at the Patheos Pagan Portal and the Pagan Newswire Collective.

  • To start off, Gus diZerega’s latest column for Patheos expands on the distinctions between “cultural” and “religious” Paganism, using Lithuanian Romuva as an example. Quote: “For my present purposes, what is most important is that for many Lithuanians cultural and political values were the major motivation for their interest in her Pagan past. Religious and spiritual values were not so important. Lithuanian Paganism was for them a kind of “identity politics.” A ritual was more a political and cultural statement than a religious one. It seeks to build solidarity within the community, not better connections with the Sacred.”
  • Meanwhile, fellow Patheos columnist P. Sufenas Virius Lupus talks about the importance of indexing, and wonders what would be revealed if we indexed our own day-to-day speech. Quote: “Would this kind of indexing look different if it were a workday for you as opposed to a day off? Would this type of indexing’s results depend on who you’re around, or what your activities of the day end up entailing? Would the “chapters” of your life in which you’re at a big pagan gathering feature certain words more frequently, as opposed to the days in your life that are more “mundane” and not inclusive of specific spiritual events? Would this indexing vary more if it involved a tabulation of the words of your thoughts as opposed to the words of your speech? And if there are large patterns discernible within each of these possibilities, and they are patterns that you find unexpected, uncomfortable, or upsetting, what can you do to change them and bring them more into line with what you would hope they would be rather than what they are at present?”
  • At the Pagan Newswire Collective’s culture blog The Juggler, Tim Titus takes notice of the “Wicca Club” on the popular television show “Glee”. Quote:  “What, if anything, will the show do with a Wicca Club?  The season has hit the middle of sweeps and there is a constant need to find new controversy to fuel the plots.  One of the show’s challenges is to remain light and funny while tackling some important issues like homophobia, bullying, and physical/mental disability. Could Wicca be next?”
  • The Bay Area bureau of the Pagan Newswire Collective has had some excellent event coverage recently: the 32nd annual Spiral Dance (more here), the 16th Annual Festival of the Bones, and the Answering the Call; Battle Goddesses in Times of Change weekend intensive. Here’s what T. Thorn Coyle told the PNC about that intensive: “This event feels important for many reasons. One, people around the world are obviously sensing a need to gather together and better learn how to support each other. We see this in the rise of community gardens, in the relearning of the skills of our grandparents, in the “Occupy” movements, Arab Spring, and in the outpouring of creativity with which people have met times that feel really hard for many. These times of difficulty are also times when a lot of energy is rising, and it feels right to take some of that energy and channel it toward our personal training and effectiveness. We can become stronger, more capable, and more kind. We can rise up for what we love.”
  • Finally, the PNC’s nature and environment blog, No Unsacred Place, continues its quality run of essays and explorations of how modern Pagans engage with the world around us. Meical abAwen writes about the “hand of man” in nature,  Crystal Tice discusses the importance of walking outside, and Juniper Jeni follows the trail of the Lord of Animals. Quote: “Margaret Murray read Breuil’s work and combined with her other studies, and with her desire for a revival of Pagan practices, she built upon Breuil’s theories. In her work “The God of the Witches” she called The Dancing Sorcerer “…the earliest known representation of a deity”.  An idea that became so poplar even Breuil himself adopted it. So did many others, including Gerald Gardner.”

There is, of course, much more to be found at the Patheos Pagan Portal and Pagan Newswire Collective websites. So be sure to check in often! As for me, I’ve got some great stories coming up this week, and I’ll also be heading off to cover the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting, so lets all take a breath before we dive back in! Have a great day!

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

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

Earlier this evening a live Google+ video interview/”hangout” with GOP Presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson and members of the Pagan media was held. Pagan media organizations participating in the Q&A with the former New Mexico Governor included Cara Schulz of PNC-Minnesota, Star Foster of Patheos.com, Devin Hunter of ModernWitch Podcast, David Salisbury of PNC-Washinton DC, Crystal Blanton of PNC-Bay Area, and myself. In addition, Ramesh Rao of the Hindu American Foundation also took part. The conference was streamed and recorded by Keith Barrett, and you can watch the entire press conference embedded below (or at this link).

There was also a post-conference podcast hosted by Devin Hunter and Rowan Pendragon where participants shared their thoughts on the event.

A number of issues were discussed, including religious freedom, the rights of minority religions, LGBTQ rights, drug policy, education, taxes, and much, much, more. Stay tuned to PNC-Minnesota in the coming days for more details.

Aside from the political issues discussed, I think this is a big step forward for Pagan media on the Internet, and does much to establish ourselves as a community with serious concerns that deserve to be addressed on a national level. My thanks to Cara Schulz of PNC-Minnesota, who did a marvelous job moderating, for making this happen.

ADDENDUM: The story has been picked up by The Hill.

The former New Mexico governor spoke with members of the Pagan Newswire Collective, ModernWitch Podcast, and Patheos.com, among others. He said it was important to reach out to voters that fall outside the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, while slamming his own party for being too beholden to the Christian right. “I think the world looks down on Republicans for their socially conservative views, which includes religion in government,” Johnson said. “I think that should not play a role in any of this. When Republicans talk about values – you know what? I bet you and I have the same values.”

So it looks like talking to Pagans will gain you some attention.

ADDENDUM II: You can now read a full transcript of the conference, here.

“You know all I have is my own experience and my own experience would be having been Gov. of New Mexico two terms I did not get the social conservative vote in New Mexico in the primary. I ended up getting the social conservative vote in the general election because then it seems like all the Republicans took on their second most important issue which was dollars and cents. And I really thought .. I really think I excelled in the area of dollars and cents. As Gov. of New Mexico it just wasn’t an issue ever. It wasn’t an issue when it came to filling my cabinet, filling the heads of agency. It was never an issue when it came to filling boards and commissions. It just wasn’t an issue. And I don’t expect it to be different as President of the United States. It’s just not a consideration. It’s just not something I ask of people and for the most part most people don’t volunteer it. All though there are those that do. It’s not something that I consider in my actions my appointments.”

A big thank-you to Masery at the Staff of Asclepius blog!

This past Saturday the 1st Annual Conference on Earth-Based, Nature-Centered, Polytheistic & Indigenous Faiths was held in California at the Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco. Organized by the Pagan Alliance, and co-sponsored the Circle of DionysosSolar Cross Temple,Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, CAYA coven and the Earth Medicine Alliance, the theme for the one-day conference was “Gender & Earth-Based Spiritualities” and featured Vicki Noble as keynote speaker. While sparked by issues arising from an incident of transgender exclusion at a public women-only ritual during the 2011 PantheaCon in San Jose, the conference itself opened itself up to a much wider-ranging discussion concerning gender within modern Paganism. Here are some reflections shared with me by conference chair and Pagan Alliance president JoHanna White.

joi wolfwomyn and Vicki Noble. Photo by Greg Harder.

joi wolfwomyn and Vicki Noble. Photo by Greg Harder.

“The Conference went remarkably well. It was well attended for a first year Conference on a cold day in SF. There was an incredible list of presenters: Judy Grahn and Dianne Jenett, Vicki Noble, Charlie Glickman, Veronica Monet, T. Thorn Coyle as well as many interested attendees such as M. Macha Nightmare, a number of Radical Faeries, students from ITP, PSR, etc. We had 5 cameras taping various lectures and performances and we hope to put out some online videos and a dvd within the next few months. Two documentarians, one filming for Ssex Bbox, and another working on a forthcoming documentary on sex, spirituality, and culture, shot video of talks at the Conference.

In her introductory remarks, joi wolfwomyn asked folks to treat eachother with respect and really listen to the different perspectives brought out in the day and that energy of respect really carried forward into the entire day of programming and events. Vicki Noble’s keynote integrated both her personal experience as a feminist separatist as well as her acknowledgement of the multitude of genders that exist and our need to respect the diversity of gender. Her statement on separatism was that it can be through having separate spaces that members of marginalized groups can become stronger and return to the larger community with the confidence and commitment to make real and positive change. The Conference had a number of workshops and presentations on 3rd and 4th genders throughout the world and was a wonderful sampling of the diversity of our community. CAYA’s co-sponsorship (along with ITP, Solar Cross, Earth Medicine Alliance, and Circle of Dionysos) on the event pushed us over a threshold where we were able to offer scholarships to many transfolk, low-income attendees, and disabled persons. Making this conference accessible to many. Hurrah!

We had some lovely seasonal Pomegranate mimosas (one of my best ideas of the year, I think) Hail Persephone and all that jazz and a beautiful food spread for attendees. Members of the Circle of Dionysos put on an amazing cabaret during the luncheon that included a costumed Sinnerjee depicted Loki doing “Every Other God a Greek.”an original composition (to the tune of Do Re Mi from The Sound of Music) by Origynal Sinnerjee, a musician depicting Freyr sang traditional Pagan songs in Finnish and Icelandic, as well as a drag Cybele monologue, an original song about Sirens a la lesbian separatists. The cabaret was overwhelmingly well received.

I had a great time and we’re looking forward to next year. We will likely continue to address Gender and Earth-based spirituality (due to overwhelming requests/suggestions from folk at the Conference), but will be bringing in some new tracks.”

In addition to White’s impressions, T. Thorn Coyle, who presented at the conference, shares her experiences in a just-posted column for Patheos.com.

T. Thorn Coyle at the conference. Photo: Greg Harder.

T. Thorn Coyle at the conference. Photo: Greg Harder.

“The 1st Annual Conference on Earth-Based, Nature-Centered, Polytheistic & Indigenous Faiths with the theme of Earth-Based Spiritualities & Gender left me with an intriguing mix of thoughts. I feel grateful that the Pagan Allianceput in the time, energy, and money to organize the conference, and am proud that Solar Cross Temple helped to sponsor it. Talking about gender in the context of Paganism feels very important to me. The sense I was left with after Saturday was that while we only scratched the surface of the topic, an elephant in the room was barely addressed, and more dialogue is necessary, goodwill was present amongst those attending, and that counts for a lot.

Many things felt heartening to me about the day: a variety of gender expressions walking through the hallways; seeing second wave feminists I cut my teeth on presenting at a Pagan conference; meeting a human rights activist from the Organisation Intersex International and wanting to talk more theology; the insightful comments and ideas that people shared with each other during my presentation on genderqueer theology; talks with people in between sessions”

While Coyle felt that the “whole subject of gender, normativity, fluidity, and polarity felt like it needs a lot more breathing room,” she applauded the Pagan Alliance “for seeing a need, and moving to address it.”

During this year’s conference Lady Yeshe Rabbit, High Priestess of CAYA Coven, whose Amazon Priestess Tribe’s Rite of Lilith at PantheaCon 2011 provided the setting of transgender exclusion that ultimately led to this day, led a Ritual of Radical Forgiveness. At her blog, Lady Yeshe Rabbit explains the rationale for the ritual, and shares the ritual itself for those who couldn’t be there.

Lady Yeshe Rabbit at the conference. Photo: Greg Harder.

Lady Yeshe Rabbit at the conference. Photo: Greg Harder.

CAYA’s commitment to gender diversity includes a commitment to creating public circles for all to practice ritual together, circles for all who self-identify as a particular gender, and private, closed circles for those who continue to identify with their gender at birth for the sake of healing and deep personal work. It is not an easy place to be. On the one hand, intellectually-sound and impassioned arguments exist for the full inclusion of all self-identified men and women in all gendered spaces they choose. These arguments are well-reasoned, clear, loving and radical- all very much in keeping with CAYA’s core philosophies. On the other hand, there are mysteries and wisdom paths that are associated with embodying a certain gender from birth and the lifetime of acculturation to that gender, as well as physical experiences associated with coming of age in that particular body. These are primal, powerful, visceral and also radical- very much in keeping with CAYA’s core philosophies.

I do not think anyone in CAYA or outside of CAYA has the final answers on how this integration of diverse and sometimes opposing viewpoints can happen effectively to the highest benefit of the greater pagan community. Certainly it won’t happen overnight. Certainly it requires delicacy, patience, and good faith.

Our hope in offering a Ritual of Radical Forgiveness at the conference was to magically and sympathetically put to rest the discord around the topic of the past year and to acknowledge that there is pain and challenge on all sides of this issue. It is our prayer that, moving forward, everyone who has a strong and powerful opinion on this topic or experience of their gender reality will be able to at least co-exist in mutual harmony, respect for one another’s right to hold their views and practices as best befits them, and non-violence in our language and actions toward one another. The religious right would love to see us tear one another apart. It would mean they don’t have to lift a finger in order to cripplingly disempower us. I, for one, will not allow that to happen if I have any say in the matter whatsoever. My intent is to create respectful unity around our spiritual diversity and thus protect it with my own intentions, prayers, words and actions. To that end, here is the ritual outline, for those who were not able to attend. The ritual was received very well by the 25-30 participants who attended, and while it is not a final step to end all conflict, it felt like a powerful step in the right direction toward peace and wholeness within our extended community.”

The results of this conference are a first step, something acknowledged by all who attended. As intimated by JoHanna White, next year’s conference will also focus on gender in order to continue the important conversations started here. A date of September 8th, 2012 has been set. For more coverage, please see the follow up post from the PNC-Bay Area bureau.

As I said earlier this year, I have few illusions that all problems will be “solved,” but I do think what we are witnessing here is historic, and will change us in ways we can’t envision now. CAYA’s Amazon Priestess Tribe’s Rite of Lilith acted as a catalyst for a long-overdue conversation about the role of gender, and transgender individuals, within modern Paganism. If you look at how quickly modern Paganism has grown in the span of a single generation, particularly in the United States, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. When Margot Adler’s “Drawing Down the Moon” was initially published in 1979, gay and lesbian Pagans were just emerging from decades of silence and marginalization within our interconnected communities, now, 32 years later, we’re having serious discussions about “Gay Paganism’s Second Wave.” In such an atmosphere, the issue of how we treat, respect, and integrate transgendered individuals was destined to stop being a fringe topic dealt with only in passing, or in isolated corners, and demand a wider discussion.

I think a collective future of “transcentric imagery, gods and goddess with the wide variety of trans bodies,” alongside and complementing the more prevalent cisgendered representations, will become a reality far quicker than any of us might realize, and that modern Paganism, a movement so ready to accept change, challenges, and differences, yet still remain identifiable and vital, will ultimately benefit from it. The collective maturity and willingness to dialog seen at this conference is a credit to our family of faiths, and when future historians look back at this gathering, it will be rightfully seen as a milestone in how we all approach the topic of gender within our interconnected communities.

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note 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!

Open Hearth Foundation Signs Lease on Community Center: On Thursday, PNC-Washington DC reported that the board of the Open Hearth Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1999, signed a lease for a long-planned DC Pagan Community Center. This places the foundation ahead of schedule in its goal of opening a community center by Imbolg 2012 (February 1st).

An interior shot of the new space.

An interior shot of the new space.

“The property is on the second floor of a stand alone building at 1502 Massachusetts Avenue NE, in the Eastern Market neighborhood of DC. The space has two partitioned rooms that will be reservable, one of which will double as a library, a foyer area, full bathroom, a kitchen, and two refrigerators.  Build out is minimal and will include a fitting one room with book shelves, installing an electric stove, as well as installing a wheelchair lift. The two-year lease begins on October 1 and the official date the center is open for business is still to be determined. It likely will not be until November 1st or later.”

Stay tuned to PNC-Washington DC (aka Capital Witch) for future updates on the progress of this community center. As for the Open Hearth Foundation, they are in the midst of fundraising to meet their fiscal needs once the center is open. You can view their goals checklist, here, and the OHF business plan, here. Our congratulations go out to the Open Hearth Foundation on this major step forward!

Gender and Earth Based Spiritualities Conference: Today, September 24th,  is the 1st Annual Conference on Earth-Based, Nature-Centered, Polytheistic & Indigenous Faiths. The theme for the one-day conference in San Francisco is “Gender & Earth-Based Spiritualities,” and  speakers will include Vicki Noble,  T. Thorn CoyleJoi WolfwomynLady Yeshe Rabbit, Diana Paxson, and acclaimed social theorist Judy Grahn. The recently revamped PNC-Bay Area has an article up on the conference, interviewing Bay Area Pagan Alliance Board President JoHanna White, joi wolfwomyn, who is representing the Holy Order of the Epicene, and Yeshe Rabbit, Presiding HPS of Come As You Are Coven.

JoHanna White, Board President of the Bay Area Pagan Alliance

JoHanna White, Board President of the Bay Area Pagan Alliance

“The issue of gender inequality in the pagan community addresses a problem, to be sure: a problem of education,understanding, privilege, and biological determinism. But the issue that really showed itself to be the disease of which the gender issue is but one symptom was that of a lack of shared set of guidelines with which we can approach challenging topics together safely, compassionately, and mindfully.” – Lady Yeshe Rabbit, CAYA Coven

This event is being cosponsored by Circle of DionysosSolar Cross Temple, Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, CAYA coven and the Earth Medicine Alliance. You can learn more about the issues that led to this conference happening, here. I look forward to more reports and reporting from PNC-Bay Area on this event, and hope to get reflections from organizers after the fact.

Merlin Stone Memorial: A memorial benefit celebration for influential author and art historian Merlin Stone, who died earlier this year, is being held today, September 24th, in Clearwater, Florida (Facebook event link). Stone was author of the seminal book “When God Was A Woman,” and a successful Kickstarter campaign was recently held  to produce a memorial documentary project in her honor. Speaking at the event will be Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary.

Poster for the Merlin Stone Memorial.

Poster for the Merlin Stone Memorial.

“Merlin Stone was an artist, art historian, author, and visionary feminist. She focused attention on Goddess reverence of the ancient past. She gathered together Goddess imagery, symbols, and lore from many peoples and shared with others through her books, radio appearances, and other endeavors. She inspired the emergence of multicultural Goddess spirituality in contemporary times. Her memorial is an wonderful opportunity to celebrate Merlin Stone, her works, her life, and her legacy”

Other speakers include Z Budapest, Ruth Barrett, Barbara Walker, Susun Weed, and Margot Adler. The memorial will also include music by Hecate’s Wheel, Emmet Bondurant, and Ruth Barrett. The memorial, which is open to women and men, will take place 11:30 am – 3 pm EDT at Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, 1470 Nursery Road in Clearwater. Free, open to the public. Donations welcome, but not required. For those who cannot attend there will be live-streaming of Merlin Stone’s memorial. For more information, head to the official Merlin Stone site.

In Other Community News:

  • At PNC-Minnesota, Nels Linde interviews Roger Williams of Magus Books & Herbs on the store’s 19th anniversary. The secret to their success? “What you need is to be persistent. You can have all the talent in the world, if you are not persistent, you are not really going to make a difference.”
  • Writing for Patheos, Gus diZerega tackles the issue of mainstreaming modern Paganism. Quote: “I suspect we will see a deep differentiation within our community. There will be the “shamans,” those who work with little institutional connection and who have developed a reasonably reliable set of skills, be they healing, divination, something else, with which to interact with the spirit world for the benefit of others. I suspect they will do more psychological work than physical healing, but the best can do both. There will hopefully in time be priests tending temples, such as exists today in Japan. That may be a good model for what will develop here. And there will be a rank and file, people focused primarily on other activities, but hoping to live in better harmony with the more-than-human by some involvement in Pagan community activities and a more mindful living of their day to day life.”
  • This Sunday Raven Radio will be holding a live panel discussion between Folkish, Universalist, Moderate, and Tribal Heathens. Quote: “We have an outstanding panel.David Carron, Randolf Millesson, Camille Klein, Cynthia Norris-Brooks and Mike Smith. As fine of panel of Heathens as one could ask for, This show can and will touch nerves, but I expect all to act with Frith and do not disrespect OUR house.” More information can be found, here.
  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus discusses what is reasonable and what’s insane when it comes to religion. Quote: “Absolutism of one religious viewpoint over another is the real problem, not the assertions themselves.”
  • Scott at The Juggler watches the debut episode of The Secret Circle so you don’t have to.
  • Lupa on social justice and the shaman as intermediary.

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

If one topic dominated the Pagan web this week it has to be repercussions over the exclusion of transgendered women at a public women-only ritual during this year’s PantheaCon, and the subsequent discussions between Dianic Goddess worshipers, transgender advocates, and eventually, Pagans of all stripes, that emerged from it. When I first mentioned the matter on Sunday, only a few sites were addressing the issue, that ballooned by Tuesday, grew further the next day once official statements were released by CAYA Coven and PantheaCon organizers, and has now gone truly viral in scope. One of my entries relating to this discussion has garnered around 400 comments, and the topic is buzzing on Pagan blogs, social networks, e-lists, and message boards.

I’m going to provide a fresh round-up of voices on this issue, but first I wanted to quickly touch on why this one incident, clearly not intended to cause hurt or offense by CAYA organizers, has grown into a far larger conversation than many could have foreseen. In short, CAYA’s Amazon Priestess Tribe’s Rite of Lilith acted as a catalyst for a long-overdue conversation about the role of gender, and transgender individuals, within modern Paganism. If you look at how quickly modern Paganism has grown in the span of a single generation, particularly in the United States, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. When Margot Adler’s “Drawing Down the Moon” was initially published in 1979, gay and lesbian Pagans were just emerging from decades of silence and marginalization within our interconnected communities, now, 32 years later, we’re having serious discussions about “Gay Paganism’s Second Wave.” In such an atmosphere, the issue of how we treat, respect, and integrate transgendered individuals was destined to stop being a fringe topic dealt with only in passing, or in isolated corners, and demand a wider discussion.

Here are a new batch of links relating to this discussion:

We are at a crossroads now with this discussion, and despite a few sour notes, most of exchanges I’ve seen have been reasoned, open, empathetic, passionate, and willing to create a dialog that is inclusive and productive. I have few illusions that all problems will be “solved,” but I do think what we are witnessing here is historic, and will change us in ways we can’t envision now. I think the future that Foxfetch demands will become a reality far quicker than any of us might realize, and that modern Paganism, a movement so ready to accept change, challenges, and differences, yet still remain identifiable and vital, will ultimately benefit from it. The collective maturity and willingness we’ve displayed so far in these discussions is a credit to our family of faiths, and when future historians look back at this time they will say “this is when transgendered Pagans began to receive the full embrace and respect of their coreligionists.”

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!

Counting Pagans in the UK: In one month, the 2011 British census will begin. As in 2001 citizens of England and Wales will be able to mark what their religious affiliation is, a change in procedure that saw minority religions gain significant attention. For the first time, Britain was counting its Pagan citizens, and around 40,000 individuals labeled themselves as Pagans, Wiccans, or Druids (making them the 7th largest faith grouping in the UK). However, many Pagans, and the scholars who study them, believe that number is far higher (Ronald Hutton, for example, thinks there are around 250,000 Pagans, circa 2001, equivalent to the Hindu population). So this year a consortium of Pagan organizations are pushing the PaganDASH (Facebook) campaign to encourage all British Pagans to fill out the census, and to do so in a uniform manner.

“The ONS wants to count us. They have a ‘mandate of inclusion’ which means they are looking for ways to include us in their figures. Looking at the raw data that was provided last time to us gave us some startling insights. However, as mentioned, by just writing Pagan on your form, we lose the data for various paths, and our diversity — but there is a simple solution — one that’s worked elsewhere. In Australia in 2001 there were 10,000 Pagans in the census. Just 5 years later, with this initiative, their numbers are being counted as nearer 70,000. So if we can do the same here, and get more accurate numbers it will go a long way to getting the recognition we have fought for, and deserve.”

So a Wiccan would write in “Pagan – Wiccan”, a Druid “Pagan – Druid”, and so forth. This initiative is already gaining some press, and as The Druid Network points out, could result in better representation in government. This is an excellent opportunity to chart the growth of modern Paganism in the UK (one we don’t have in the United States), and I hope British Pagans of all stripes support this initiative.

Child Care at Pagan Conventions: The Pagan Newswire Collective’s Bay Area bureau has published the first installment of a multi-part series on child care and Pagan families at conventions. Focusing on the recently completed PantheaCon, Lily Shahar Kunning, looks at the options, and lack of options, families with small children have at such events.

“In fact, the ‘Con is not fully aware of how many children attend, as they are not formally registered if they are under 12. But parents attending PantheaCon agree- there are tens of dozens of children in attendance, and more come every year. Yet there is no formal “track” for children to attend, no formal childcare arrangements, and most events in the schedule are not kid-friendly.”

As our movement grows, and becomes increasingly multi-generational, issues of how we treat our youngest, and oldest, members will become increasingly pressing. We are at a point now where organizers are straining under the weight of continual growth and popularity, yet we often lack the infrastructure and capital to expand as much as we need to. How we deal with issues like child care, and the inclusion of younger Pagans, can have far-reaching ramifications in our future. Stay tuned to PNC-Bay Area for the next installment of this series where they’ll discuss family-oriented programming at PantheaCon.

Pagan Leadership Panel: One of the panels I participated in at this year’s PantheaCon, led by Modern Witch Podcast host Devin Hunter, was on Pagan leadership in the 21st century. On the panel was Hyperion of The Unnamed Path, Ms. Rabbit Matthews of CAYA, and myself. Devin has uploaded the video he took to Youtube, and is up now in seven parts.

You can find the other six parts, here. I think some very important topics were touched on, and I’m thankful that Devin was able to record his panel and share it with the world.

Cherry Hill Seminary Graduation Ceremony: Yesterday at the Sacred Space Conference in Maryland, Cherry Hill Seminary held their first graduation ceremony under their new program. Certificates were presented to six students, and PNC-Washington DC (aka Capital Witch) was there to report on the event. Below you can see some video taken during the ceremony.

PNC-Washington DC/Capital Witch will be posting photos later with exclusive interview footage of the CHS faculty and student graduates. So please stay tuned to that site for further updates, and congratulations to the six Cherry Hill Seminary graduates! To find out more about CHS’s educational offerings, please check out the web site.

A Trip to Lucky Mojo: On their way home from PantheaCon the PNC-Minnesota bureau were lucky enough to stop at the famous Lucky Mojo Curio Company, took pictures, and interviewed proprietor Cat Yronwode.

“People of a mixed back ground often find Hoodoo resonates with them because it calls to part of their cultural back ground.  It is a very vital, very American form of magic.  I love it, I was born Jewish, and then joined the Baptist church and now am a spiritualist.  I have always felt at home in Hoodoo. I would say that since the dawn of the internet age, there is more white people practicing it, but there always were. It has never been something that was exclusively Black, although black cultural nationalists have claimed so.”

For anyone who has shopped at a hoodoo store, and loved it, this article and interview should bring back many pleasant memories.

Addressing Dianic Exclusion of Transgendered Women: In a final note, I wanted to quickly point to this run-down of issues regarding the exclusion of transgendered women at Dianic events at PantheaCon.

“The debate continued. No one won, as-such, but winning wasn’t the point. Though I’m not unbiased in this matter, I doubt anyone would disagree that, at the end, the Dianic elders present were affected by the experience. I believe them when they said that they had no wish to harm transsexual and transgendered women, but they remained firm. Wendy Griffin, toward the end, got quite upset, stating that the issue is effectively one of religious freedom, and that what was being proposed effectively would prevent her from engaging in her religion. Ruth Barrett, who I must admit showed astonishing strength in retaining composure throughout the event — for her, the issue was that she wanted to continue to run events at Pantheacon, but that a non-discrimination policy would effectively mean that she could not continue to do so.”

This is a very large issue, and this link will just be the beginning of my own exploration. In the weeks to come the Bay Area PNC bureau will be posting a report, and I will be following up with my own here at The Wild Hunt. I’m hoping to include interviews with individuals on both sides of this discussion, and hopefully spark a wider discussion regarding gender identity within modern Paganism.

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