SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — On May 19, Solar Cross Temple board member Elena Rose graduated from the Starr King School for the Ministry and, a few days later, was ordained by the historic Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples. During the graduation ceremony itself, all students were given two minutes to speak at the podium, and Rev. Rose used this opportunity to ask her school “to do better.” She explained, “I used my speaking time both to declare my love for the community and to speak about the various struggles I’ve faced there as a trans woman of color, and then asked the community to do better.” These struggles, which happened over five years, included everything from the continued use of wrong pronouns to physical threats.
Prior to graduation, Rev. Rose’s speech was approved by the dean of students, who expressed support and even asked for suggestions on policy changes. When the speech was delivered, it was given applause. Then, the next day, President Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt released a public statement in response to Rev. Rose’s words.
It read, in part, “Starr King School for the Ministry is dedicated to educating people for progressive religious leadership. We study and work as a community in order to counter oppressions and to create sustainable, inclusive, beloved communities […] One of our graduates shared her story of the moments when members of our community, or the school’s systems, failed her. Her story is deeply unsettling for all of us at Starr King, and though these events preceded my arrival as president, I am so sorry that this happened to her.” The statement also noted that the school would be implementing training programs to address the “larger, complex issues of oppression against transgender people, including the specific issues and concerns of transgender women of color.”
Rev. Rose said, “My focus wasn’t punitive; it was on helping the community grow so it was better equipped to deal with these kinds of issues.” She has not received any personal communication from the school about the statement or the speech.
When asked what she plans to do with her new title and education, she said that she plans to enter into clinical pastoral education (CPE) with the aim of getting her “certification as a hospital chaplain.” Along with that she will continue her work with the Transfaith Council, Solar Cross Temple, and the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples. She is writing a “forthcoming book of monster theology,” co-editing Queer and Trans Artists of Color, Volume II and will be performing at the Fresh Meat Festival show for the National Queer Arts Festival in June.
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The Caldera Music Festival kicks off this weekend in the north Georgia mountains. More than 30 musicians and 100 vendors will be descending on Cherokee Farms for festivities lasting from May 26-30 in Lafayette. The festival organizers have created an app for use by attendees. They said, “In an effort to stay green and avoid printing as much as possible, we have created a simple app for Android and iPhone with the info you need to navigate CalderaFest.”
As we reported Sunday, Caldera Fest will be hosting the launch of The Green Album. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. The website contains a preliminary schedule of all the performances and workshops.
At this time,organizers are still looking for volunteers. They said, “We have had, for legitimate but frustrating reasons, five volunteers drop out. If you, or anyone you know who can be vetted, would like to attend this festival for FREE (our favorite price), please have them fill out an application.” That application is on their website.
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Over the past few years, TWH has reported on the damages caused by natural and man-made disasters, including fires, flooding and storms. Not all of these stories happen on a big scale. Recently, Wild Hunt journalist Terence P. Ward discovered such problem in his own home town. A small Pagan community, called the Church of the Eternal Circle, has been struggling with regular flooding at its sacred space. Ward reached out to the church to offer assistance. He helped them to create an informational video news release and a corresponding GoFundMe campaign.
The Church of the Eternal Circle is a Celtic Wiccan Fellowship based in New Paltz, New York with approximately forty members. As noted by high priestess Lisa Stewart, they have been circling at their site for more than 20 years. The flooding has only been occurring recently and is now affecting their ability to use the outdoor circle space. Stewart said that the cause is most likely “breached cisterns” that were first built 40 years ago in a neighboring fully-paved lot.
The church has decided to turn to the greater Pagan community for help in funding a new french drain system. Such a system would take the water away from the circle space and channel it into a holding tank that would then allow them to reuse it for gardening and other needs. Stewart said that members of their local village have already pledged some financial help, but she estimates the total cost to the church, after that donation, will be around $5,000. The group is very active, holding weekly sacred circles. Stewart looks forward to a day when she doesn’t have to worry about the whether her space is usable.
*Editorial Note: Ward’s work on this project was done independently of The Wild Hunt. TWH has no direct affiliation with the Church of the Eternal Circle.
In Other News:
- For those in the Northeast, EarthSpirit Community kicks of its 38th annual Rites of Spring festival May 25. The Rites of Spring is “open to all who celebrate the sacred nature of the Earth” and is billed as “a week filled with over a hundred workshops, rituals and performances.” The festival takes place at a summer camp in the the southwestern corner of Massachusetts. Registration is still open.
- In July, Treadwell’s will be co-hosting an evening conference called “UK Satanic Abuse Scare, 25 Years On.” To be held at the London School for Economics, the event’s purpose is to educate attendees about the UK Satanic panics of the 1980s and 1990s. Through five different speakers, the event will revisit “the scare with first-hand accounts of what it was like for Pagans, and then how it ended after researchers and investigative journalism got involved.” As noted on the site, the event will include a wine reception and “small exhibition of periodicals and ephemera of the era.” More information is available on Treadwell’s website.
- Wild Hunt writer and activist Crystal Blanton will be starting her annual #30DayRealBlackHistoryChallenge. The online educational series begins May 28 and runs through the month. Each day she posts a story, a picture or a news article that promotes and highlights people, organizations and events in black history. Her series has been very popular since its start in 2014. It can be followed on Facebook and on the series’ website.
- The New Alexandrian Library is making headway on building its collection. The library’s organizing board thanked the volunteers for their work in “shelving recently acquired books and cataloging them.” They said, “We are very close to a mini-milestone, the cataloging of the first 1000 books. Now that a number of people have experience with the software the pace will increase.” Located near Georgetown, Delaware, the library is “dedicated to the preservation of books, periodicals, newsletters, music, media, art works, artifacts, photographs, and digital media focused on the metaphysical aspects of all religions and traditions.” It is open to both research and lending.
- As June gets closer, more and more people begin to make plans for Summer Solstice. For some, that includes attending Pagan Spirit Gathering, which is readying for its first time at a new location. After last year’s floods, PSG organizers moved the popular week-long camping event to Tall Tree Lake campground, in southern Illinois. This year’s theme is Our Spirit – The Key to Our Roots. Registration is open, and organizers are looking forward to “welcoming everyone home.”
- Not all Pagans are preparing for summer solstice. Our friends in the southern hemisphere are moving toward the winter solstice. Australia’s Tasmanian Pagan Alliance has just announced that “Choon & Goon will be [the] entertainment” for the Saturday evening of their Yule festival. The alliance said, “We loved them last year, so bring your dancing shoes!” The Yule Fest is advertised as a “weekend honouring the deep, dark winter” and away to “warm yourself with good company, fire, feasting & celebration!” The Tasmania Pagan Alliance is based in Hobart.
- From the blogosphere, Tim Titus shared his interview with author Tomás Prower about his book titled, La Santa Muerte. Titus wrote, “So who is Holy Death? […] Prower is a devotee of the La Santa Muerte, and his book unveils many aspects of Her worship and details about working with her magickally that were previously difficult to find in the English speaking world.”