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!
Lady Liberty League Forms Task Force, Prevents Protest in Florida: Last week many Pagans were outraged after a story about Christian clergy opposition to a Pagan festival in Pahokee, Florida emerged. In response the Lady Liberty League, a religious freedom support organization for Wiccans, Pagans, and other Nature religion practitioners worldwide, formed a task force to address the concerns raised by this situation.
“‘This is an opportunity not only to bring about better public understanding about Paganism, but for Pagans of many paths to work together,’ said Rev. Selena Fox, Executive Director of Circle Sanctuary and the Lady Liberty League (LLL).
On Saturday, the Lady Liberty League sent an update that task-force member Peter Dybing attended a meeting of local Christian clergy, explained modern Pagan faiths to those assembled, and received a pledge that they would not protest the Summer Solstice festival.
Peter Dybing and Selena Fox of the Lady Liberty League.
“‘What I am here asking is not for your support, or your approval, but your tolerance for our right to engage in religious activity. If anyone were to protest the activities of your church, our community, would, if asked, come to your defense. We ask only the same, please don’t protest our event’. After Rev. Dybing’s statements, the pastor who organized the meeting declared to all present that there would be ‘No Protest.’ He and Peter Dybing shook hands; a significant gesture in heated times. Rev. Dybing stated that if members of their community wanted to pray for our community, we would welcome such prayers as we see all prayer as a good thing. It was clear that LLL’s approach of outreach at this meeting had had a profound effect on the proceedings.”
Further, a representative of the local Chamber of Commerce said the organization “fully supports the festival and local business owners will be open for business and looking forward to the festival.” More on these developments, including contact information for the Christian pastor who reached out to Peter Dybing to make this possible, can be found here. This is very good news for the Pagans of Florida, and I think it’s important to reiterate what the LLL said in their previous press release: that people “avoid independent actions that have the potential to complicate efforts,” and to contact them first by emailing email@example.com if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas regarding this issue. The Wild Hunt will keep you updated on further developments.
Cherry Hill Seminary Receives Generous Challenge Gift: Online Pagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary announced on Monday that a donor was willing to match up to $10,000 dollars in donations for a new scholarship endowment that would help students nearing completion of their Master of Divinity, to assist them with the expense of attending their required second intensive. This is another significant step forward for Cherry Hill Seminary, which recently presented its first academic symposium in partnership with the University of South Carolina.
Sacred Lands and Spiritual Landscapes symposium. L to R, Carl Evans, Emeritus Chair of Dept. of Religious Studies, University of South Carolina; Holli Emore, Executive Director, Cherry Hill Seminary; Ronald Hutton, Professor of History, Bristol University; Chas Clifton, Editor The Pomegranate; Candace Kant, Dean of Students, Cherry Hill Seminary; Wendy Griffin, Academic Dean, Cherry Hill Seminary.
Executive Director Holli Emore noted that the donor was inspired to give by the recent Sacred Lands and Spiritual Landscapes held in collaboration with the University of South Carolina. “We have worked so hard for the past several years to shape our program into one with strong academic integrity as well as meaningful impact for the community of Pagan and nature-based spiritualities,” said Emore. This endowment is both an affirmation of that hard work, and a signal to others who might be ready to join the effort.”
Nearly $5,000 in gifts to the endowment have already been received; Cherry Hill Seminary has until July 1, 2013 to raise the full $10,000 match. You can find out more about the gift, including reactions from students and staff, here. Those who wish to make a gift may do so online, or you can make a pledge of support. For further options, you can send a message to CHS@cherryhillseminary.org. All donors will be acknowledged online unless they request otherwise. Congratulations to Cherry Hill Seminary on this step forward!
Solar Cross Temple “Love In Action” Update: On May 25th I reported on how the pan-Pagan/Magickal organization Solar Cross Temple, in partnership with a local Pagan and a consortium of activist organizations, were working to raise money for those affected by the massive and deadly tornado that struck Oklahoma recently. On May 30th, T. Thorn Coyle posted a new update on that effort.
Debris covers the ground in Moore, Oklahoma. Photograph by Brett Deering/Getty.
“6 wheel barrows and 4 heavy duty transfer shovels were sent to Oklahoma on May 29th! Thanks to everyone who has donated so far! Including donations from Solar Cross, people have contributed $1061 toward the two shipments of much needed goods. These are all going to the harder hit rural areas of Oklahoma that aren’t getting as much help. In addition to that total, another $150 was collected from our Solar Cross Devotional on Sunday and will take up collections at Troth Moot this weekend. This will enable us to send another shipment!”
For those wanting to join this initiative please donate via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that it is for Tornado Relief so they can assign the money properly. As T. Thorn Coyle says in her initial post: “I want to create a world of mutual aid, where we help one another in times of need, and celebrate together in times of joy.” May all those affected find safety, shelter, and the means to rebuild.
Congratulations to Erynn Rowan Laurie: Erynn Rowan Laurie, author of “A Circle of Stones,” and a finalist in the poetry category of the Bi Writers Association Bi Book Awards, won in the poetry category this past Sunday for her collection “Fireflies at Absolute Zero.”
“Guess who is now an award-winning poet?” – Erynn Rowan Laurie
“Erynn Rowan Laurie’s Fireflies at Absolute Zero is a call to poetic arms, written with the ferocity and passion of the Earth warrior — “my poems burn like stars/ they fall like spears from the oil-black sky.” It is a hymn of praise to the old gods, written in the long tradition of poets as dreamers of new worlds, and re-memberers of old ones. Indeed, Laurie’s poetry reminds us all that humanity cannot face its struggles with either mushy platitudes or militarist cliché; we require the nuance of the poet who dances courageously on the edges, between the struggle and the embrace.” –Theodore Richards, author of Cosmosophia and The Crucifixion
I think this is a wonderful achievement, not only for Erynn, but for creative writings by modern Pagans. Congratulations! In the meantime, for those who are curious, you can read a preview of the poetry collection, here.
In Other Pagan Community News:
- Chas Clifton notes that two new important books have been published in the field of Pagan Studies. They are “Pop Pagans: Paganism and Popular Music” and “Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Central and Eastern Europe.” The former happens to feature a chapter written by yours truly, and I’m very excited to see the final product in my hands.
- Volume 4 of Modern Witch Magazine is now available in hardcover and download editions. Quote: “Modern Witch is back for a fourth volume and we aren’t taking any prisoners! Join creator Devin Hunter and members of the progressive metaphysical community like David Salisbur, Crystal Blanton, Yeshe Rabbit and Storm Faerywolf as they explore the power behind The Wyld Witch! Volume 4 features 100 pages of magic, witchcraft, spells, recipes, class material and even an 18th century grimoire!”
- In addition to the news concerning the challenge gift, Cherry Hill Seminary has also added two new board members, and a new library specialist. Quote: “We are delighted to announce a new member of the CHS staff team, Christine Grewcock of Easley, SC. […] Adding to the treasurehouse of capable and diverse individuals found on the Board of Directors, CHS welcomes two new directors, Byron Ballard and Marla Roberson.” Congratulations!
- Nels Linde returns from Heartland Spirit Gathering and has some insights to share at PNC-Minnesota. Quote: “The interviews next week will include a lot of Pagan history, assessment of the present, and a view of the future. Janet and Gavin have strong views of what it means to be a priest or priestess, to speak with the gods, and where the leaders of the Craft of the future will come from.” I can’t wait.
- Chicago-based Pagan/magical performance troupe Terra Mysterium has unveiled a new music video for the song “In the Observarium,” check it out!
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!