Archives For Temple of the River

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!

Isaac Bonewits Memorial DVD Controversy: Back in August of 2010 Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) held a special memorial service at the Summerland Gathering in Ohio for their founding Archdruid Isaac Bonewits who passed away on August 12th. The memorial service was captured on video, and placed on Youtube so those who couldn’t be there could see it. Since then, the ADF has made a DVD of that video footage available for purchase, a move that has upset Bonewit’s ex-wife Deborah Lipp and their child Arthur.

“You can say, Isaac wanted to give money to ADF and therefore it’s acceptable, or you can say, Isaac placed what was right and proper and honorable before profit, always, and therefore it’s utterly unacceptable. I knew him very well, and I can hear him saying “tacky” quite clearly in my ear, but I recognize the subjectivity of that. In the end, I can only speak to what I feel is right, and respectful, and kind. To commodify the death of a great man is not respectful. To do so at an event where he was being honored is not right. To do so when his only son was at that event was not kind.”

The ADF responded by saying that they are only charging for the DVD “to recoup a fraction of the costs associated with their creation,” and that the DVD was only made so that those without broadband Internet access could see the footage. Lipp responded by calling the production of a DVD “tasteless, disrespectful, undignified, and uncompassionate to those for whom this loss is personal.” Shortly after Lipp’s open letter started circulating Phaedra Bonewits, Isaac’s widow, posted her own thoughts on the matter, her opinions veered sharply from the idea that the ADF were “uncompassionate” in their move to sell a DVD.

“Bottom line, I do not want anyone to think that the opinions of Ms. Lipp, Isaac’s ex wife, represent my feelings, or the sentiments of any other member of Isaac’s family other than those of her son, Arthur Lipp-Bonewits. They are entitled to feel what they feel, but their feelings are not representative of the rest of us. I can’t presume to speak for Isaac, not really. But he did put his legacy in my hands because he loved and trusted me, as I loved and trusted him. Thus, I want to state unequivocally that I do not find the videotaping of the memorial, nor the distribution of the DVDs at nominal cost to be in any way disrespectful or exploitative of his memory. I completely support ADF in this situation, as do his siblings and his own mother.

This is obviously an emotionally intense subject, and I’m only reporting on this now because all parties involved have decided to make public their positions in the matter. I know from firsthand experience that the loss of a loved one is never easy, and the initial months, even years, after their passing can be fraught with unknown obstacles and a unique liminality brought on by grief. To lose someone who was a beloved public figure, who many people feel a sense of connection to, is no doubt even more complex and trying an experience. To paraphrase our nation’s president, I think it’s above my pay-grade to make a judgment call on this situation. It is what it is, a difference of opinion regarding what actions were proper and respectful. I wish all involved every blessing, and would guess that Isaac himself would relish engaging in the question at hand, though we are now all bereft of his direct insight in the matter.

Temple of the River in Minnesota Closes its Doors: Yesterday PNC-Minnesota reported that Temple of the River, an Irish Cottage Temple in NE Minneapolis, was closing its doors and that the religious community sponsoring it, The Old Belief Society, is disbanding. Temple of the River’s priest, Drew Jacob, made waves across the Pagan community recently with an article titled “Why I’m not Pagan.” Cara Schulz of PNC-Minnesota conducted an exclusive interview with Jacob about the move, and what the future holds for its priest.

“To put it simply, it’s not helping enough people change their lives. We have a large community and terrific events, but the Temple isn’t making the impact I want to see it make. As a priest, I’ve witnessed a significant shift in people’s spiritual needs. The needs that Temple of the River was designed to fulfill—a place for community, and accurate knowledge about historic practices—simply aren’t as badly needed now as they were ten years ago.

Instead I see people searching for a way to take charge of their lives. That has to be the priority, because the world is changing, and people feel lost, or stuck. The economy, technology and culture are all shifting. 20th century strategies for life don’t work well anymore, so there are a lot of people out there who aren’t happy with their lives. What I want to teach people is how to change that. How to live boldly and lead a life of victory. I want to empower people.”

Jacob now says he’ll devote his time to the Heroic Life, “a new spirituality for the 21st century” that’s “based on bravery and adventure.” Temple of the River will hold one last event on Midsummer’s Eve, and a final meditation session the week before.

Hutton Responds to Whitmore, Explains His Process: Chas Clifton reports that the The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies has posted a freely accessible article by British historian Ronald Hutton (author of “The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft”) entitled “Writing the History of Witchcraft: A Personal View.” In the piece Hutton discusses the course his work has taken, situates it within a larger body of scholarly work, and proposes three possible futures for the writing and reception of Pagan history by “practitioners outside the academy.” He also directly addresses the book-length critique of his work, “Trials of the Moon: Reopening the Case for Historical Witchcraft,” written by Ben Whitmore.

“It [Trials of the Moon] is devoted entirely to my own work. Although he allows that I have some virtues, at the opening and the end, these concessions seem very hollow in view of everything in between. He sums up the message of Triumph as being that modern Pagan witch-craft is “entirely a new invention, cobbled together by a few eccentrics,” with no link to any earlier form of “Pagan spirituality.” This is of course a travesty of its intended message. The whole purpose of his own bookis to destroy my reputation as an authority upon the history of Paganism and witchcraft, at least among Pagans, and especially belief in the argu-ments of Triumph. He has carried out very little research into primary source material. What he employs instead is a number of secondary texts of varying quality and drawn from a wide span of time. Whenever he finds a passage in these which apparently contradicts me, he proclaims that I am proved wrong. He also examines some of the works from which I have quoted myself and claims that I have misrepresented them. Nobody who believes his assertions can be left with anything other than the impression that I am an unscrupulous and deceitful individual motivated by a concealed hostility to Paganism. Most of the use that I make of source material is passed over in silence: only the apparent faults are highlighted. Where I address properly in later publications matters that he accuses me of neglecting in Triumph, this is taken as confirmation of my earlier guilt rather than a negation of it. By the same tactic, aspects of earlier work of mine to which he takes exception, and which are differently handled in Triumph, are still made to stand as examples of my turpitude. He criticises me for not defining terms like “witchcraft” with absolute precision, but then makes no attempt to do so himself, keeping them as fluid as possible so that they can fit a range of different meanings. He likewise makes no attempt to construct an alternative history of witchcraft and Paganism to my own: his whole purpose is simply to undermine confidence in me, so that—presumably—Pagan witches can go back to believing whatever they did before I wrote. Most of the points on which he tries to fault me are of detail, often trivial, and his hope is clearly that if he can put enough small cuts into my reputation for reliability, then faith in it will leak away.”

There’s much more, so those interested in this debate should download and read the whole thing. I must say that I share Hutton’s dream of a consensual picture of Pagan history based on primary sources, made in conjunction with Pagan writers and outside scholars, rather than “a number of mutually hostile sects, with different versions of history centered on rival writers,” or generational-based “acrimonious division.” Here’s hoping that our future is one of cooperation and collaboration instead of deepening divisions or impassible generational shibboleths. For even more on this topic, The Pomegranate also features a formal review of Whitemore’s book by Peg Aloi, and  Chas Clifton tackles yet another “grandmother story.” For all of my coverage of Whitmore’s work, click here.

Other Community Notes:

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

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note, a series more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

Patrick McCollum’s Visit to Thailand: As I mentioned back in January, Pagan chaplain and activist Patrick McCollum will be traveling to Thailand in February at the invitation of Dhammakaya temple in the Pathumtani Province, where he will be honored as a World Inner Peace Ambassador, and share Pagan rituals and practices with Buddhist Lamas. McCollum will then travel to the renowned temple at Borobudur on the Island of Java with Lama Gangchen Rinpoche, of the World Peace Foundation. At the Patrick McCollum Foundation web site, Patrick shares his thoughts as he embarks on this historic journey.

“My journey continues to get increasingly more interesting as more and more opportunities present themselves, and I feel much like I am in an adventure story just waiting to find out what will happen next.  On this trip to Thailand, I will not only be meeting with venerable Buddhist lamas and monks, I will now also be meeting with several distinguished spiritual leaders from other traditions to forge sacred bonds and find common ground.  So far, I will be meeting with Cheif Kapiteotak Dominique Rankin, also known as T8aminik in the Algonquin language, former Grand Chief of the Algonquin nation and Elder in the Circle Of Medicine Men of the Canadian tribes. I will also be meeting with Master Li Hechun, Master of the Longmen (Dragon Gate) branch of the Ch’uan-chen (Complete Perfection) School of Taoism in China and with Guru Chintamani  Yogi of the Hindu VidyaPeethmovement from Nepal, founder of the Shanti Sewa Ashram and Peace Service Center. I will also have the honor to spend part of my journey with Patrick Kuaimoku, Kahuna Lokahi from Hawaii, Keeper of the Ancient Hawaiian wisdom tradition.   In such company, it is hard to imagine any part of my journey being anything less than extraordinary.”

Patrick will be sharing more information and insights about his trip with us when he returns. This is a major interfaith event for modern Pagan faiths, one that could have far-reaching effects on Buddhist-Pagan relations for years to come. Congratulations to Patrick on this great honor. To keep track of Patrick’s journey be sure to follow the Patrick McCollum Foundation’s blog, and the Foundation’s Facebook page.

Sacred Spaces Series: Cara Schulz of PNC Minnesota has started a new video series (Part 1, Part 2) on the creation of modern Pagan sacred spaces, speaking with Priest Drew Jacob from Temple of the River.

Many Pagan groups share the dream of building some type of sacred space.  A temple, a community center, a permanent altar.  It remains a dream because they lack the information, skills, and experience to bring it into reality.  Yet other groups have accomplished what can seem, at times, impossible.  They have learned how to raise funds, deal with city inspectors, and overcome challenges that stymie most groups who attempt these ambitious projects.   In this series, PNC talks with groups who have successfully created their own Sacred Spaces.

You can see part one of this video series, here. Part three will most likely happen after this year’s PantheaCon, as Cara and several other PNC bureau members will be attending that event this weekend. This is an excellent video series, and shows the potential and scope of locally-focused Pagan news bureaus.

The Green Heart of England is Not For Sale: Controversy has raged recently in England over the proposed plans to conduct a massive sell-off of state-owned woodland. A move that sparked almost universal condemnation, and a rare public climb-down from the environment secretary. British Druid Philip Carr-Gomm, leader of The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, had this to say on the issue.

“David Bellamy articulated the feelings of most people when they first heard the news of the government’s proposed disposal of all of England’s public forest: “The green heart of England is not for sale.” It looks as if the message is getting through. Over half a million have signed the ‘Save Our Forests’ petition organised by grass-roots movement 38 degrees and today David Cameron signalled that the plan may be ditched [...] The irony of a party with a tree as its logo behaving in this way has occurred to many. Our Druid group has been working with the idea since it began. Melanie Philips, of the Daily Mail telepathically picked up our thoughts (ha!) and voiced them on TV on the BBC’s Question Time, suggesting a felled oak and a dead stag as the Conservative logo…”

Carr-Gomm promises that efforts to “apply pressure and voice our concerns” will resume should the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government decide once more to sell off large swathes of its green heart, but for now, there is a celebratory mood of victory.

Pagan Newswire News: I’ve got some Pagan Newswire Collective-related announcements to make. First off, a warm welcome to the PNC’s newest bureau, PNC-Bay Area!

“Welcome to the Bay Area Bureau of the Pagan Newswire Collective. We are an all volunteer group (of currently 10 people), reporting on news and events of interest to the pagan communities here in the Bay Area of California. We have bios of our volunteers posted on its own page of the site here. If you would like to join our collective and write for us, email our Bureau Coordinator at bayarea (at) paganewswirecollective (dot) com.”

I am very excited to finally have coverage from the San Francisco Bay Area of California, long a hot-spot of modern Paganism, and look forward to their contributions! Several members of the new bureau will be at this year’s PantheaCon, and I’ve created a special page listing all official PNC-related events for those attending. You may also notice that we’ve quietly debuted the new site design, and you’ll hear more about that as things progress. I think 2011 will be a great year for the PNC, one that will greatly benefit all Pagan media outlets.

Cooking for a Pagan Seminary: In a quick final note, a number of Austin-based Pagan groups are organizing a cook-off and potluck benefit for Cherry Hill Seminary.

“One thing everyone in the Austin Pagan community shares is the love of a good potluck. Diverse organizations and individuals in the Austin area are coming together to co-sponsor a cook-off and silent auction to benefit Cherry Hill Seminary. Cherry Hill Seminary serves all our communities by providing quality higher education and practical training in Pagan Ministry. They offer several master’s degrees, certificate programs, and community education primarily available through distance learning. Many of us have received outstanding training in our chosen tradition, but there are some individuals who feel compelled to go above and beyond with their service to others. While many resources exist to train and assist students as they pursue their chosen Pagan tradition or path, there is an acute need for specific training in areas such as counseling, ethics, marriage and family issues, religion and the law, interfaith work, Pagan scholarship, media and public relations, ritual arts, leadership development, and nonprofit management.”

As a former CHS board member, and occasional teacher, I fully support the idea of communities rallying together to support this venture. One that will ultimately benefit all modern Pagans. Kudos to the Austin, Texas Pagans for putting this together!

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

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note, a new series more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

A Celtic Temple in Minneapolis: PNC-Minnesota reports that on September 18th a temple constructed by the Old Belief Society in Northeast Minneapolis will be consecrated and opened to the public.

September 18 heralds a new piece of Minnesota Pagan history: a Celtic Pagan temple,  in Northeast Minneapolis, opens to the public. Andrew Jacob, priest of the Temple of the River,  (TOR) will lead a purification ceremony in the Mississippi River. After the ritual, participants can dry off in the new temple, also called the Irish Cottage Building.

The temple is the first official structure of the Old Belief Society, a community intended to train Celtic priests by combining academic and spiritual teachings. Temple of the River, a smaller subset of that society led by Jacob, formerly occupied a space in Dinkytown before moving their meeting space to his home in Northeast. He conceived of building a physical temple after helping construct a Native American style pavilion in 2006. “We made it a priority to have a physical temple in a permanent space – because a welcoming meeting space is one of the first things you need for community.”

While there are many instances of Pagan-owned lands, Circle Sanctuary, for instance, Temple of the River priest Andrew Jacob claims this is the first temple of its kind in North America. Considering the fuzziness of the term “temple” within our communities, it’s hard to gauge if this claim is true. If you know of any other free-standing structures that are solely dedicated as Pagan temples and open to the public please drop a note in the comments. Whether unique or not, this is a remarkable accomplishment, and one that will no doubt benefit Pagans in the Twin Cities.

Lady Liberty League 25th Anniversary Reception: Founded in 1985 by Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, the Lady Liberty League is one of the most active and effective Pagan-run religious freedom organizations in existence today. On September 15th in Washinton DC, at the Universalist National Memorial Church, they will celebrating their 25th anniversary.

“This special evening includes networking, refreshments, and remarks by Selena Fox of Wisconsin, Lady Liberty League’s Founder and Executive Director, and Patrick McCollum of California, LLL Chaplaincy Affairs Director and among this year’s recipients of the Hindu American Foundation’s Mahatma Gandhi Award for the Advancement of Religious Pluralism.

The evening will include an overview of the history and accomplishments of Lady Liberty League, including its origins in September 1985 in the networking that defeated federal anti-Wiccan legislation. Lady Liberty League activists and Circle Sanctuary ministers from across the country will be helping with the reception. Among the national Pagan leaders already planning to take part in the reception are Marci Drewry of Virginia, Director of Military Affairs, Sacred Well Congregation and Holli Emore of North Carolina, Executive Director, Cherry Hill Seminary.”

This event is free and open to the public. To find out more, check out the LLL reception page on Facebook. PNC-Washington DC reporter David Salisbury is planning to be in attendance and will be covering the event. Congratulations to Lady Liberty League on their 25th anniversary, here’s to 25 more!

Patrick McCollum at HAF’s Capitol Hill Reception: Since the Circle/Lady Liberty League press release has given it away, I assume it’s now safe to announce that the Hindu American Foundation will be honoring Pagan chaplain Patrick McCollum with the Mahatma Gandhi Award for the Advancement of Religious Pluralism at their 7th annual Capitol Hill Reception on September 14th.

“Join us as we honor Congressmen, government officials and individuals for their commitment to promoting understanding of Hindu American issues, pluralism and tolerance.”

A prominent Hindu organization honoring a Pagan chaplain and activist is a big deal, and could signal a new era of cooperation and communication between American Hindus and Pagans. I’ve been in contact with HAF concerning this, and will be bringing you more on this story after the ceremony.

Wendy Rule Plays for a Pagan Nonprofit: Australian singer-songwriter and Pagan Wendy Rule is currently on a American tour to promote her latest album “Guided By Venus”. In addition to playing at the Pagan music-heavy StrowlerFest (as reported here previously) on September 10th and 11th, Los Angeles Pagan Examiner Joanne Elliott reports that she’ll be wrapping up the tour with a benefit concert for the Temple of the Goddess on September 15th.

“Australian singer-songwriter Wendy Rule – a self-proclaimed witch – will make the sole Los Angeles area appearance of her 2010 U.S. tour at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 15. Rule has agreed to make this a benefit concert for Temple of the Goddess (TOG), a nonprofit religious organization committed to the spiritual well-being of the Los Angeles and world communities. TOG will also sponsor this intimate, 60-seat, open air twilight performance under elder oaks at a private residence in Pasadena.”

For more on the concert, including information on purchasing tickets, click here.

Return to Stoudtburg Village: Some of you may remember the drama last year over a Pagan group holding a small festival at the tourist-trap Stoudtburg Village in Adamstown, Pennsylvania. Several Christian-owned businesses, offended by Pagans holding a gathering at the village, boycotted by shutting down their stores in protest. The situation soon made national news, and gained the attention of prayer warriors and Pagan organizations like the Lady Liberty League. Ultimately, the event happened, a few businesses shut down, and things were largely peaceful and productive. Now, the Reading Pagans & Witches are holding the event again, expanding it to two days, September 11th and 12th, and having Circle Sanctuary’s Selena Fox speak at the event.

“At 10 am on Saturday, Selena will open the festival with a blessing that includes the ringing of a memorial bell to coincide with the bell ringing at the Flight 93 National Memorial (www.honorflight93.org) in Shanksville in western Pennsylvania to honor those who heroically died when the plane crashed there at 10:03 am on September 11, 2001. At Noon, Selena will facilitate a Circle of Freedom and Remembrance. This 9th anniversary September 11 memorial ritual is a remembrance for all who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on America that day. The rite also focuses on healing as well as will include an honoring of Freedom and America’s religious and ethnic diversity. Pagan first responders and Pagans in the US military – present and past - are invited to be part of the procession that begins this rite.

At 1 pm, Selena will give the Festival Keynote: Earth Spirituality & Religious Freedom. She will give an overview of Paganism across time and cultures and speak about ways Pagans of many paths can work together for greater religious freedom in society.”

The event is free and open to the public. You can find out more about the event, here. This whole situation shows how religious freedom and acceptance can happen if we don’t back down in the face of opposition and protest, congratulations to the Reading Pagans & Witches for making this happen.

Happy Anniversary Witch School: In a final note, today is Witch School’s 9th anniversary. Here’s an excerpt from a statement by co-founder Rev. Donald Lewis on the occasion.

“Today is the Ninth Anniversary of the founding of Witch School!! Witch School was founded on September 4, 2001. Co-founders Ed Hubbard, Don Lewis, and Lisa Tuit created Witch School as a response to the tremendous success of the Daily Spell e-zine, which had been offering the Correllian First Degree teachings. The school was initially run out of Rev. Don’s kitchen. With its philosophy of an “Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere online Pagan and Magickal education” the school grew rapidly, filling a void created by the lack of accessible teachers. Witch School was and is a revolutionary educational system utilizing peer-to-peer teaching and the power of the Internet to bring Pagan religious and magical education to people around the globe. The Witch School system was able to reach people in remote geographical areas who were otherwise unable to connect with teachers, and to provide training in an extremely flexible and effective way. Today Witch School has students on all seven of the Earth’s continents (yes, even Antarctica) and is the most trafficked Pagan site in the world. We are very proud of our school and its students and salute each and every one!”

Rev. Lewis goes on to explain the significance of the Sept. 4th debut, and connections between Witch School and the Correllian Tradition. While Witch School has certainly been controversial during its years of operation, few can deny that it has become a prominent Pagan organization, and looks to be around for a long time to come. Congratulations to Witch School on their anniversary.

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