TROUT LAKE, Wash. — Over the weekend, Columbia Grove, ADF hosted its first Pan-Pagan camping festival at White Mountain Druid Sanctuary in Trout Lake, Washington. The festival, called Beyond the Gates, was attended by 35 people, and featured a variety of workshops and rituals. For example, ADF Archdruid Emeritus Reverend Kirk Thomas, who co-owns and operates Trout Lake Abbey on which the sanctuary is located, offered two lectures: Celtic Arthur and The Ancient Celtic Religion. Phaedra Bonewits was there to host a workshop on Ritual Participation and the Life and Times of Isaac Bonewits.
Among the rituals held was one dedicated to the goddess Fortuna, which, they said, “dates back to the Roman Republic.” It was held Friday night in the Druid Sanctuary’s Stone Circle. Senior Druid Jonathan Levy led the ritual and “was joined by the grove’s Bard leader, Arin Hembd.” Hembd said that Levy decided to do this ritual because of Fortuna’s “unbroken following.” Hembd explained,”Under many guises and forms this goddess is worshiped continuously through the present time, with such examples of Luck Be a Lady Tonight (from the musical “Guys and Dolls”) and phrases like, ‘How fortunate you are.’”This inaugural Beyond the Gates festival was considered a huge success, and the group hopes to do it again next year. Hembd said, “Guests mentioned feeling as though they truly were Beyond the Gates when entering the property of Trout Lake Abbey, which has a deeply sacred feeling.” Levy and Hembd added that they were able to interview some of the attendees, such as Bonewits, Thomas and others. The interviews will be uploaded to their Part the Mist podcast over the next few weeks.
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OLYMPIA, Wash. — In less than one month, Pagans, Heathens and polytheists will be heading to Washington state to attend the second annual Many Gods West conference. The event is hailed as “A Polytheist Gathering for the Pacific Northwest.” Throughout the weekend several different rituals will be offered, including those hosted by Jason Mankey, Cascadia Grove, ADF, the Golden Gate Kindred, Marcella “Allec” McGuire, Sean Donahue, Anaar Niino, Laura Tempest Zakroff, Phoenix LaFae, and Gwion Raven.
Other presentations are focused on an array of topics from “Teaching to Transgress: Decolonizing Polytheistic and Pagan Pedagogies” and “Uprooting Patriarchy in Paganism and Polytheism” to “Working with Water Spirits” and “Bee Magic and Medicine.” One of the other features of this year’s event is a Plenary Session, titled “Building Polytheist Community,” and hosted by blogger John Beckett.
Syren Nagakyrie, one of the conference organizers, said, “What I find the most amazing is the feedback we have received about Many Gods West from people who attended last year, and the level of excitement from people who will attend this year for the first time. Many Gods West is a very welcoming and inclusive space of peers and we are committed to maintaining that space. We take hospitality for people and gods very seriously. While we are not an anti-capitalist conference, we do hold those values very closely; we are queer, we are anti-racist, anti-transphobic, and stand against bigotry. We are also entirely organized by women. These things form the legs which support our work with the gods and create a welcoming place at the table for Them as well. I think our presentations and rituals, none of which were solicited by the organizers, show this. To bring together so many devoted people from diverse backgrounds in celebration of the gods and each other is a great honor and a wonderful opportunity for our communities.” Many Gods West will be held Aug 5-7 at the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia Washington.
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PENSACOLA, Fla. — As we reported last week, local Pagan David Suhor is scheduled to deliver an invocation before the Pensacola City Council on behalf of The Satanic Temple. Suhor made news in 2014 when he delivered an invocation before the September meeting of the Escambia Board of County Commissioners. During that delivery he sang a prayer written by Starhawk with “accompanying magical gestures.”
This time around, Suhor will be delivering his invocation as member of The Satanic Temple. After it became known that he was on the schedule, the city council began debating whether to end its inclusive prayer policy. A special meeting was held July 7 to discuss the issue and allow for public comment. During that meeting, as reported by the local press. “a theological debate unfolded for an hour and half.” Suhor was at the July 7 meeting and asked the council to “replace the invocations with something that allows everyone to speak or pray or think according to their own conscience.” He ended his plea with “Hail Satan!”
In the end, the council opted to keep its inclusive prayer policy, which means Suhor will be delivering the invocation July 14. All city meetings are live-streamed and recorded for public viewing.
In other news
- The Adocentyn Research Library, located in Northern California, announced that it now “has 9,461 books.” Although not officially open, Adocentyn continues to grow and gather needed resources in order to fulfill its mission to become the “premier Pagan research center in the Western US.” Volunteers gather several times each month to catalog the many donated books and put them on shelves. Anyone interested in helping the cause can volunteer to assist with various tasks, or can donate books or funds.The library’s Facebook page is kept up to date.
- In the wake of recent events, groups of Pagans and Heathens are calling for unity in magical workings with intent of ending violence and promoting justice. Pagan author Dana Eilers offered the following: “Is it time to lend our considerable power to the scourge of violence that is swallowing our country this summer? Yes, it is! More violence is not the answer. I suggest a National Magical Movement aimed to STOP THE VIOLENCE NOW. The July full moon occurs on the night of July 19. So, at midnight between July 19-July 20 (whenever midnight occurs in your respective time zones), perform a magical working, cast a spell, pray to your gods, meet in ritual, and do whatever it is that you do best to STOP THE VIOLENCE NOW”
- The Covenant of the Goddess is getting ready for its annual Merry Meet conference, which is to be held August 11 – August 14. Each year the event is sponsored by a different local council, located around the country. This year it is being hosted by Northern California Local Council (NCLC) and is being held in San Jose, California. Merry Meet is a conference that typically offers workshops, vendors, community, as well as providing a setting for the organization’s annual business meeting Grand Council.
- Another organization that is planning its annual summer gathering is Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS). Last year, the organization relaunched its conference, called Convocation, after a ten year hiatus. The event was held in July 2015. This year’s Convocation will be held in late August in the historic town of Salem, Mass. The 2016 guest speakers include Byron Ballard, John Beckett, Gypsy Ravish, Lauren Estan, Rev. Shirley Ranck and Rev. Amy Beltaine. In her blog post, J.K. Hildebrand writes, “All are welcome…CUUPS members, ministers, seminarians, and those interested in UU Paganism, earth and nature centered spirituality on all levels.”
- UK writer The Bad Witch attended Treadwell’s recent conference on the UK Satanic Panic of the 1980s. In a blog post, she discusses the media’s role in that scare and highlights the work of one journalist, who “bucked the trend.” The Bad Witch writes, “Dr Rosie Waterhouse, now director of the MA in investigative journalism at City University London, was a reporter at the time. She investigated what was being called Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) and found that evidence to back up the claims simply didn’t exist.”