It was announced this week that Dragon Ritual Drummer founder and elder Flint has lost is battle with cancer. Flint was diagnosed July 2014. The doctor’s gave him only two months to live, but he fought hard, even performing with the band. Utu Witchdoctor posted on the group’s Facebook page, “Brother Flint was one of our founding members, a force to be reckoned with, a soul that touched so many, one of the best there ever was. Our man Flint was the grounding force in our troupe, kept all us youngins’ in place, he was our father, our brother, our best friend.”
After Flint’s family is finished with its private ceremony, the Dragon Ritual Drummers will be holding a special, public Viking funeral for him. Utu Witchdoctor said, “We have already begun the construction of the funeral boat, and it will be set a flame and cast out into the waters as everyone drums and celebrates his life, full open pagan ceremony and celebration.”
Despite this loss, the Dragon Ritual Drummers will not be taking any time off and plan to honor Flint at every one of their scheduled performances. The next one will be at Florida Pagan Gathering, where the group plans to share many of their memories and release some of their grief. Utu Witchdoctor also noted that the song Bamboula, performed at the end of most shows and captured in a recent video, will be forever dedicated to Flint. He explained that this song has an “historic New Orleans voodoo rhythm [that they] were entrusted with” and that honors one’s ancestors. Flint is now considered an ancestor of “their tribe.” What is remembered, lives.
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In South Africa, April 27 marks Pagan Freedom Day. The movement began twelve years ago, in 2003, when a number of local Pagans began discussing the need to openly declare their religious freedom. Damon Leff explained, “At the time, even prominent (public) Pagans were questioning whether or not Witches in South Africa were really free. It was important to show them that we were, that we could gather publicly.” The first gatherings happened in 2004 in “Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and the Wilderness” with no negative backlash.
Over the years, the annual celebration has become larger, spreading to other communities throughout South Africa. Mja Principe, convener of the Pagan Freedom Day Movement and Pagan Council, said, “Freedom Day is the annual celebration of every South African’s right to human dignity, freedom of expression, freedom of association, as well as the celebration of religious freedom, irrespective of the individual’s alternative or mainstream religious background.” Penton Independent Media has published several posters advertising local celebrations and scheduled activities. Photos of the day’s events will be uploaded to the Pagan Freedom Day Movement Facebook page.
* * *This past weekend, Rev. Patrick McCollum, together with friends, celebrated his 50 years of service to the Pagan community. In 1965, McCollum began the work that eventually led to his position today as a global ambassador of peace, a respected spiritual counselor and interfaith chaplain. Over those 50 years, he has been involved with a number of Pagan organizations, including Our Lady of the Wells, Cherry Hill Seminary Covenant of the Goddess, Circle Sanctuary, Lady Liberty League, and more.
In 2010, McCollum won the Mahatma Gandhi Award for the Advancement of Religious Pluralism and, through his foundation, he continues his commitment, as a Pagan voice, to global peace work. Most recently, the foundation announced that it is reaching out to communities in Nepal to assist in the aftermath of Saturday’s earthquake. We will have more on that developing story tomorrow.
In Other News
- On June 6, Washington D.C.- area Pagans will be gathering on the steps of the Supreme Court to support “the plaintiffs of the landmark marriage equality case Obergefell v. Hodges.” This landmark case, combined with several others, questions whether or not the fourteenth amendment requires states to recognize and license same-sex marriages. Oral arguments will be heard tomorrow with a possible decision in one or more of the cases on Wed. However, the decision on Obergefell v. Hodges is not expected until summer. Organizers of the June 6 gathering said, “Two years ago we held a similar ritual at the Supreme Court with Circle priestess Selena Fox.Together we summoned the beloved goddesses of Justice: Columbia, Themis, and Justicia. Join us again as we make our mark in this historic time in civil rights history.”
- This past weekend, Pagan Musings Podcast hosted an episode titled “Bringing Race to the Table” based on the anthology of the same title. The speaking guests were editors Crystal Blanton, Taylor Ellwood, and Brandy Williams. Joining them were contributing writers, Lilith Dorsey, Lydia Crabtree, Janet Callahan and P. Sufenas Virius Lupus. Host RevKess and KaliSara remarked that they were “looking forward to doing this show” because it is a conversation “that they both feel should be addressed.” The show can be heard on BlogTalkRadio’s PMP channel.
- In September 2014, we reported on a story in which a former instructor had publicly accused Auburn University of religious discrimination. Dr. Katharyn Privett-Duren had allegedly been fired after the administration became aware that she was Pagan. Since our report, Privett-Duren hired a lawyer and, on March 23, filed a lawsuit against the University. Privett-Duren was unable to comment further on the case.
- In other updates, Diana Rajchel’s book Divorcing a Real Witch did not win the 2015 prestigious Diagram Prize for the “Oddest Title of the year.” The winner was Margaret Meps Schulte’s Strangers Have the Best Candy. However, as Rajchel said, she “got damn close.” The Bookseller reported that this year’s contest saw “the closest vote since the prize was opened to public voting in 2000” with Schulte’s book earning 26.1% of the vote and Rajchel’s earning 25.1%. Despite the loss, Rajchel was upbeat, focusing on her future writing projects.
- Lastly, Pagan Priest Patrick Carberry has reportedly seen significant growing interest in his group since earning legal recognition. According to the Derry Journal, Carberry’s Order of the Golden River, based in Belfast, will be opening a new branch in Derry. He told the local paper, “People have told us that they would love to be part of something in the area so we are responding to that demand.”
That’s it for now. Have a nice day!