Archives For Terry Dobney

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!

Summer Festival Season Begins: This weekend the Pagan Summer festival season officially begins! You’ve got Pagan Spirit Gathering in Illinois and Wisteria in Ohio both starting on Sunday, not to mention Eugene, Oregon’s own Faerieworlds happening this weekend. At the beginning of July the recently relocated Starwood, now in Ohio, starts up. This year, The Pagan Newswire Collective, Proud Pagan Podcasters, and other Pagan media outlets have formed an official “media camp” at Pagan Spirit Gathering.

“In the tradition of the dedicated camping communities at Pagan Spirit Gathering we are forming Media Camp for the 2011 festival. This is a project organized by several Pagan media organizations, but open to all podcasters, vidcasters, bloggers and other folks who are active in Pagan media. As the PNC did last year, we will be coordinating our efforts, sharing our resources and ensuring that all media participants are respectfulof the privacy of PSG attendants. We are grateful that PSG is welcoming us back and we intend to maintain the relationship of trust and respect we have built with the Circle Sanctuary staff.”

2010 was a huge step forward in coverage for Pagan festivals, and I hope the infrastructure being built at Pagan Spirit Gathering can be replicated at other large Pagan events. With a growing Pagan media recording experiences and stories, preserving memories, and sharing this unique culture with a wider audience. An audio and textual archive of Pagans coming together to celebrate and create community. A resource that could be a boon to future historians, academics, journalists, and seekers. I’m hoping to post updates from PSG as the week progresses, and we’ll be seeing plenty of stories and interviews rolling out in the weeks following.

Llewellyn and COVR: A big congratulation to Pagan/metaphysical publishers Llewellyn on being named a finalist in five categories for the 2011 COVR Visionary Awards.

“The Coalition of Visionary Resources (COVR) is an organization formed by a unique group of businesses that deal in “Visionary Resources,” and who work with and support each other as independent retailers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and publishers of visionary books, music, and merchandise.”

The titles nominated for awards include Biting Back, by Claudia Cunningham, Planetary Spells & Rituals, by Raven Digitalis, Witchcraft on a Shoestring, by Deborah Blake, and Modern Wicca, by Michael Howard. Llewellyn’s website is also nominated for an award. COVR’s Awards will be presented on June 25th at the International New Age Trade Show (INATS) banquet in Denver, Colorado. Good luck!

Pagan Families is Born: A new website and resource on pregnancy and childbirth, Pagan Families, has just been launched. Founded by Sarah Whedon, the site hopes to “pool our collective wisdom about Pagan pregnancy and childbirth.  Think The Pagan Book of Living and Dying for the childbearing year.” Like many just-starting Internet ventures they are looking for contributors to help build and develop the site.

“Pagan Families seeks carefully written contributions on all aspects of Pagan pregnancy and childbirth.   Examples of the kind of writing we are seeking include: scripts for conception rituals; theological essays on the ethics of reproduction; prayers to mother goddesses; Pagan sensitivity guides for birth professionals; personal essays on the experience of spiritual practice during pregnancy; reviews of Pagan-friendly birth resources; and Pagan birth stories.  This list is by no means exhaustive.”

So far Pagan writers and bloggers like  Sierra BlackLily Shahar Kunning, and Niki Whiting are planning to contribute. If you’d like to submit material, the guidelines are here. Good luck to Pagan Families, I look forward to seeing how this site develops.

Heathens Have Festivals Too: If you saw my top story and perhaps wondered if there were Summer events and festivals for the more Heathen-minded, wonder no longer! Kari Tauring, who recently joined the staff of PNC-Minnesota, is traveling to several Heathen/Northern/Nordic events, things, and moots this Summer and reporting back on her experiences. First up: Northern Folk Gathering.

“The childrens performance was a moment that the entire hall found exceptional. Here we are, modern humans of Nordic ancestry watching our children re-create the story myth of our deepest root. It is this realization that our ancestors are alive in our children that made this moment of the event a sort of pinnacle. Listening to each person in the hall raise a horn to their parents, grand parents, great grands…by name and by deed really marks a huge difference between general pagan events and heathen events. There is a deep understanding that we are creating the world for our children based on how healthy our relationships with our ancestors are. There is a sense in each raised horn that deep healing is going on in the family of origin issues we all face and that there is a commitment to maintaining a high level of functioning for our children’s sake. I find this compelling whether at a small kindred meeting or a large regional gathering. This path is for our ancestors and our descendants, not just for us here and now.”

Stay tuned to PNC-Minnesota for more updates from Kari, I’m glad we can benefit from her coverage of this often overlooked events and festivals.

Get Well Terry Dobney! In a final note, we here at The Wild Hunt would like to wish Terry Dobney, Archdruid of Avebury and Keeper of the Stones, our best wishes as he recovers from a stroke.

“Druid Keeper of the Stones Terry Dobney who traditionally leads a Pagan greeting to the rising sun will be missing from the Summer Solstice celebration at Avebury on Tuesday. Mr Dobney, 64,who lives in West Kennett and has who has been involved in the solstice celebrations at Avebury for more than 30 years, suffered a stroke and is currently recovering in the Great Western Hospital, Swindon.”

Dobney was recently embroiled in a tabloid scandal in the UK concerning welfare fraud. Luckily, the Druid was cleared of all charges, and was able to return to his life and spiritual duties. Here’s hoping he’s back on his feet and able to lead ceremonies for the 2012 Summer Solstice at Avebury.

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

A few quick updates on stories previously reported here at The Wild Hunt.

Archdruid Terry Dobney (no longer) in Trouble: Just yesterday I wrote about the legal plight of Terry Dobney, Archdruid of Avebury and Keeper of the Stones, who was accused of welfare fraud. Today, and I’m going to break my no-linking-to-the-Daily-Mail policy just this once, it is being reported that Dobney has been cleared of all charges.

A jury found Dobney not guilty of three charges of false representation to gain benefits and exemption of liability following a three-day trial at Salisbury Crown Court. They accepted his claim that the cash was collecter for his elderly mother and acquitted him on a majority verdict. […] Speaking outside court, he said: ‘Truth, honour and justice has prevailed.”

I’m very heartened to hear this news, and glad to spread the word. I hope that the Religion News Service (RNS) follows suit and also posts an update on this story, one that was isolated to the tabloids in the UK.

Huckabee Gets Grilled on David Barton: I’ve spoken at some length at this blog about potential presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s troubling admiration for Christian pseudo-historian David Barton, a man who believes Pagans aren’t protected by the 1st Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. So far, no mainstream media outlet has grilled Huckabee about how far his admiration goes, or why he thinks Barton’s views should be taught in public schools. Which leaves satirist Jon Stewart of The Daily Show to pick up the slack. In a nearly twenty-minute interview posted to The Daily Show’s website (part 1, part 2, part 3), Stewart tries to figure out how deep Huckabee’s admiration goes.

Huckabee tries very hard to separate himself from Barton, while reiterating what a great historian he is. Sadly, Stewart never asks him the question I would love to ask him, which is whether or not he believes that the First Amendment protects the religious rights of all Americans, not just the Christian ones. Stewart does claim he’ll try to bring Barton himself on the program, but I can only imagine in would be a cold day in heck before that happens. Still, this interview does put the Barton association on the table, and perhaps some “serious” journalists will be now inclined to dig a bit deeper.

James Arthur Ray’s Bad Sweat History: On Wednesday, the trial of James Arthur Ray, accused of negligent homicide when a sweat lodge ceremony went horribly wrong and killed three people, took a dramatic turn. Judge Darrow will now allow testimony regarding previous sweat lodge ceremonies that Ray has held, something the defense has fought tooth-and-nail to prevent.

“Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk argued Wednesday that the medical testimony has taken place and that the alleged suffering of participants in Ray’s pre-2009 sweat lodge ceremonies established a pattern she said was inescapable: that when Ray led a sweat lodge at the Angel Valley Retreat Center, people got sick, and that when others did so, no one got sick. Defense attorney Luis Li reiterated his argument that the pattern theory was evidence of propensity and not causation, and that even if such evidence were relevant, it should not be admissible because the sweat lodges were not identical from year to year. Darrow ruled for the state, though, a move that defense attorney Tom Kelly said meant “the… floodgate is open. We’re eight weeks into trial and the rules have changed.”  The defense team moved for a mistrial on the basis that the timing of the ruling denies Ray a fair trial, but Darrow denied that motion.”

Key witnesses for the prosecution, freed from the restriction of not mentioning Ray’s previous sweat lodge ceremonies brought forth some pretty damning information.

“In 2007, Mercer had observed a tall woman exiting the sweat lodge with her eyes rolling up in her head before she collapsed onto the dirty ground. He dragged her over onto a tarp. He also described three women who had come out of the sweat lodge who stared right through him. They didn’t even know their own names, said Mercer.   In that year, he estimated about ten people needed assistance after exiting the sweat lodge.  In 2008, he saw a woman come out with severe muscle cramps. She’d remained locked in a fetal position for half an hour to fourty-five minutes. In both 2007 and 2008 he saw numerous people vomiting and collapsing.

It is becoming very clear that 2009’s deadly sweat ceremony wasn’t some isolated accident, but that Ray held court over multiple poorly led sweats where people were clearly in distress. Which clearly paints him as negligent, and no doubt has his defense team scrambling for something better than conspiracy theories about poisonous wood.

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

Religion News Service (RNS) reports that Terry Dobney, Archdruid of Avebury and Keeper of the Stones, has been accused of defrauding the government’s welfare system.

Terry Dobney: The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald

“The 62-year-old arch-Druid told Salisbury Crown Court that the money belonged to his mother and that he planned to use it to buy a new thatched roof for his home. Prosecutors, however, claim that Dobney routinely falsely signed documents to accumulate illegal welfare payments. Fraud has sharply increased in recent years in Britain’s extensive welfare system.”

It’s unclear which, if any, UK Druid group Dobney is a part of, though he did speak out in support of The Druid Network winning religious charity status. Dobney is also listed as an “associate” of the Council of British Druid Orders (CoBDO). So far no Druid leader or group has issued any statement on the charges against Dobney, and it’s been largely tabloid fodder in the UK. It’s unclear what the religious ramifications would be should he be found guilty of fraud. Would a new Archdruid of Avebury come forward? A new Keeper of the Stones named? Would it have no effect at all?

News coverage so far has been rather sparse, but I’ll try to follow up with some of my UK Druid contacts and see what their impressions are of this matter. Serious? Tempest in a teacup? Hopefully greater context will be forthcoming soon.

ADDENDUM: Dobney has been cleared of all charges.