Pagan Community Notes: JD Taylor, Where Witchcraft Lives, Brimming Horn Meadery and More!

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21_16_Taylor_Obit_10_LRGIt was announced last week that blues musician and activist JD Taylor has died. Taylor was known to the Bay Area Pagan community, performing at the Berkeley Pagan Festival, PantheaCon, and Elderflower. Although she wasn’t Pagan herself, Taylor was heavily involved in regional “women’s and LGBT activist communities.”  As noted by the Bay Area Reporter, “some would remember Ms. Taylor as the small woman who was the subject of a photo showing her being beaten by a very large SFPD officer during the Castro Sweep police retaliation in the Castro on October 6, 1989.”

Taylor was born in New Jersey in 1946, moving to San Francisco in 1975. She was an accomplished musician and, as reported by her life-long partner Naomi Tilsen, an accomplished blues harmonica player. “She loved any opportunity to use her harps to jam: jazz, folk, rock and show tune covers.”

Taylor had been suffering from lung cancer and recently learned that it was untreatable. She died in hospice on Feb. 27 surrounded by friends and family members. A public celebration was held Mar. 26 at The Wild Side in San Francisco. Tilsen added, “I hope to have another bigger celebration sometime in May, so if you can’t make it this weekend, please be in touch with me.” What is remembered, lives.

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Doreen Valiente FoundationThe Doreen Valiente Foundation and the Centre for Pagan Studies will kick off their first Witchcraft exhibition Apr. 2 at Preston Manor in Brighton. This exhibit is titled “Folkore, Magic and Mysteries: Modern Witchcraft & Folk Culture in Britain,” and has been attracting some local and international mainstream media attention.

As noted, this exhibition will contain “A unique display of artefacts, manuscripts and documents” owned and maintained by DVF. Additionaly, on “special days to be announced,” the museum will display “Gerald Gardner’s original handwritten book of witchcraft rituals, from the 1940s […] Known as a ‘Book of Shadows’ it contains Gardner’s notes for rituals and magical work from the earliest days of this movement.”

The event is free with Preston Manor general admission. The exhibit runs through September, after which DVF will be installing a second exhibit, “Where Witchcraft Lives,” at a different Brighton location.

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10417435_817717828259542_5498701333773167993_nBrewer John Talkington and his business partner Robert Walker, Jr. are finally close to realizing their dream of opening the Brimming Horn Meadery in Delaware. As we reported in September, Talkington said, “I made my first batch of mead in high school, a Finnish style lemon mead made with honey, sugar, raisins and baker’s yeast. During this same time I was looking into Asatru and reading many books on the Norse, Germanic and Slavic myths. Many of those myths had mead mentioned in them which sparked my interest of the ancient beverage.”

According to a recent article published by Delaware Online, Brimming Horn will not be the first meadery in the state. Liquid Alchemy Beverages opened this winter in “a converted warehouse near Elsmere.” However, The Brimming Horn’s grand opening will come this fall, and it be located across the state in a new building currently under-construction.

On March 20, Talkington and Walker launched a kickstarter campaign to help fund the project. Their goal was $15,000, which they reached in just two days. To date, Talkington and Walker have raised $19,284. They said that they were “caught off guard” by this out pouring of support. The Brimming Horn campaign will continue to run until Apr. 20, and they will be offering more perks to anyone who donates in the coming days. Some of those perks include logo t-shirts and mead-drinking “Brimming” horns.

In Other News:

  • This coming weekend, Cherry Hill Seminary and the University of South Carolina will be hosting the symposium: “Greening of Religion: Hope in the Eye of the Storm.” The three-day event will feature guest speaker Bron Taylor and “will bring together activists, sociologists, bioethicists, anthropologists, seminarians, clergy, planners, philosophers, scholars and students from across the continent and beyond,” to discuss the various intersections between environmentalism and religion. The symposium will be held in Columbia, South Carolina beginning Friday, Apr. 1.
  • Author Alex Bledsoe is putting the final touches on Chapel of Ease, the latest installment in his popular Tufa series. As described by the publisher: “When Matt Johanssen, a young New York actor, auditions for ‘Chapel of Ease,’ an off-Broadway musical, he is instantly charmed by Ray Parrish, the show’s writer and composer. They soon become friends; Matt learns that Ray’s people call themselves the Tufa and that the musical is based on the history of his isolated home town.” Chapel of Ease is the fourth book in the Tufa series, which has often inspired Celtic tribal rock band Tuatha Dea, and the new book is due to be released in September. For Tufa fans, Bledsoe has also noted that he has sent off the fifth book, titled Gather her Round, to the editor, and is working with a musician on a theme song.
  • Speaking of Tuatha Dea, the band is asking for donations to help offset the cost of repairing its vehicle. While the group was headed to its first show of the season, the Tuathamobile, as it called, lost its transmission in the middle of the interstate. The group was able to make it to the show, but the van is still in the shop. The band has turned to its fans for help.
  • The Salt Lake Pagan Society is launching a brand new literary journal and is currently accepting submissions. Enheduanna: A Pagan Literary Journal will be published every Samhain and will include, “creative writing and fiction, poetry, book reviews, author interviews and biographical sections, letters, short stories, essays, and other literary works.” Editors added, “The works are intended to promote and encourage the literary capacity of the contemporary Pagan community.” Submissions are being accepted through May 1.
  • The Bay Area Pagan Alliance has announced plans for its annual May festival, and is currently accepting vendor applications. The Pagan Festival is a popular day-long event held in Martin Luther King Civic Center Park in Berkeley, California. This year’s theme is Ancestral Wisdom. Making its return last year after a hiatus, the festival includes, among other things, an honoring of a community leader. Last year’s “Keeper of the Light,” as the honoree is called, was activist and writer Crystal Blanton. This year’s honoree is PantheaCon’s Glenn Turner. More details about the event, including speakers, musical guests and more, are now published on Facebook.

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