SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It was announced that shaman and Deathwalker John Ravenmoon (1970-2016) has died from cancer. John was an initiate and brother of the Unnamed Path, a group founded by Eddie Gutierez who was better known as Hyperion. In Elemental Podcast recording #72, John shares his thoughts on Hyperion’s legacy of leadership within his local community.
John described himself as a “modern mystic.” He didn’t start his formal training in shamanism until 2000. Prior to that, John studied both massage therapy and “erotic education via the Body Electric School, which opened his eyes to the intersection of eros and spirit.” His close friend Beverly Smith said, “[John’s] early studies of the sacred body and eroticism opened a path as a Sacred Intimate. He was a trained healer and masseuse; unsurprising, considering his capacity for empathy in the depths of his great heart.”
According to Smith, John was currently studying “rootwork/conjure and Curanderismo, the healing arts of his ancestors.” Smith added, “Many will remember John for his sweet nature and kind demeanor. A friendlier or warmer person doesn’t exist. He is a constant inspiration to me. His empathy and strength helped me find my footing after losing my dear friend, Dr. E in 2014. John had the magic to make me laugh, while navigating dark waters. [He] was such an extraordinary person. We won’t see his like again.” That sentiment was echoed by many of his friends who used similar words, describing John as kind, loving, welcoming and “one of the good ones.”
In 2015, John was diagnosed with cancer, but that didn’t stop him from participating in community. Smith said, “I was thrilled to attend the Burning Man festival last year with [John]. What an experience to explore an event that was deeply spiritual and extremely important to him! Even though he was already suffering the pain and fatigue of his cancer, he enjoyed that week with enthusiasm and wonder. I feel blessed to have served with Ravenmoon as a Temple Guardian in the sacred space on the Playa in Black Rock City, NV.”
John’s cancer eventually spread to his lungs, forcing him into the hospital. In July, friends set up a YouCaring crowdfunding campaign to assist his husband Michael Shugert cover the mounting medical expenses. Then, on July 29 at 12:40 pm, John died. Smith said, “I hold his memory in the highest regard. John Ravenmoon, you are loved.” What is remembered, lives.
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Pagan Holiday Stamps? A recent blog post by Steven Posch at Witches and Pagans has had people confused. His post reads, “The Postmaster General announced today the upcoming release of a series of stamps commemorating the eight holidays celebrated by the vast majority of contemporary pagans.” The post, which allegedly quotes the Associated Press, goes on to say that the new series will begin Nov. 1 with Samhain.
While many Pagans shared the “fantastic news” over social media, the post was actually satire. Posch wrote, “I’m afraid this post is fiction,” adding that the joke was not intended to be mean-spirited. He said, “One of the dangers of being a long-term insider is the amount of presumed knowledge that one comes to take for granted. That said, the notion of the US post office having anything to do with pagan holidays seemed to me so patently absurd that it needed no further direct comment. Clearly, I was wrong on that account.”
Most of the individuals quoted within the hoax are from the Minneapolis region, and the inside joke appeared to be well-received by several members of that community. However, it did have others quite upset. One reader wrote, “I appreciate the satire, but I’m begging you to label it as such right up front.” Another said, “You should be ashamed of yourself for writing and spreading such a blatant lie to the Pagan community.” Posch apologized, but also said, “Caveat lector: let the reader beware. […] Take no one on authority; certainly not me.”
Despite the hoax, the US Postmaster has released a 2016 Halloween-themed forever stamp (pictured). For science fiction fans, look for the Star Trek series in September.
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NEW ORLEANS — The pre-trial for Kenny Klein’s case was scheduled to begin today, Aug. 1 at the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. According to the court docket, Klein appeared with counsel Bradley Phillips, who asked for a continuance of the pre-trial. It was granted, and the pre-trial will continue Aug. 16. The scheduled court date for the actual trial, originally set for Aug. 15, has been temporarily suspended.
In 2014, Klein was arrested and eventually charged with crimes tied to the possession of child pornography. In June, the judge denied motions to suppress evidence and statements connected with the case. Klein is presently free on $30,000 bail. The Wild Hunt will continue to follow the case.
In Other News:
- Many Gods West , the indoor conference dedicated to polytheistic practice, begins this weekend on Aug. 5 and runs through Sunday, Aug 7. It is held annually in Olympia, Washington.
- Sacred Harvest Festival begins today in Northern Minnesota. The annual week long camping festival is in its 19th year and its theme is “Dreams and Bones.”
- Fans of author Alex Bledsoe will be happy to hear that his latest novel in the Tufa series will be released by Tor/Macmillan Sept. 6. This fourth book, titled Chapel of Ease, is an urban fantasy combining the mysteries of the Tufa people with the lights of New York City’s Broadway. “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.” The Tufa series, with its magic and mysteries, has inspired the music of Celtic tribal rock band Tuatha Dea.
- Max Dashu’s new book, Witches and Pagans, has been published and released by her imprint Veleda Press. According to a note for the July 30 release party, Dashu’s book “gathers together strands of folk wisdom to reweave the ripped webs of women’s culture in Europe.” The book is available at the imprint’s website, veleda.net.
- In the blogosphere, John Becket informs us that The Savior is Not Coming. “One of the advantages of getting old is knowing what’s coming next because you’re seeing history repeat itself.”
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I don’t think Posch understands the hope that lives in our hearts that some day, we will be acknowledged and accepted. I will be on guard against future postings from him.
Becket’s column is spot on. Thanks for linking to it.
I think Steven Posch’s blog is the best Pagan blog in cyberspace, by far. Short pithy entries on all manner of Pagan curiosities. Examples: Counting in “Wiccan” – eeny, meeny, miny, mo — used by shepherds in pre-Christian Briton. Examining the Abrahamic term “Adam’s apple,” not a very appropriate term for a body part of a Pagan, called in ancient Briton the “throat apple.” Not all entries are linguistic, as seen by the postage stamp blog in question.
One of the shadows sides of contemporary American Paganism is its lack of a sense of humor. Steven — truth in advertising, he’s a dear friend of many years — has always taken common overculture tropes about Witches in particular and turned them into humor. For instance, the Besom Brigade drill teams. Based on Steven’s Paganistani prototype, we formed a besom brigade on the West Coast to march in opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, calling ourselves WOW, or Witches Opposing War. A quick online search will result in a few articles, photos, and videos of some of the marches WOW did, and its previous unnamed predecessor at PantheaCon in 2008. http://pennylanefarm.blogspot.com/2008/02/im-on-youtube.html
Macha, as another close friend, I agree with you. People really need to lighten up and not be so either/or, and so literal! Steve constantly presents “as-if” scenarios in order to kindle our dreaming in that direction… it pre-supposes that the person reading has the potential to take part in making it real, just as you have described.
One of the advantages of being an old man is that I no longer care what people think about me, if I am accepted, or will be allowed to belong to some group that I am expected to fit in, and hide those parts of myself that the groups can not deal.
As a beginner Wiccan back in the mid 1980s, my fault was not being fearful in the closet, but being obnoxiously Wiccan, born again even .Yes I was obnoxious and I now pity the poor strangers that I would start public conversations about Wicca, and Goddess Worshiping. I must have been just as much a nuisance as any other Born Again religious person. Not too mention I probably created some fear in people and that is never a good thing to do. But later they learned that I did not cause any harm.
But if a young person was interested in Wicca, they always knew where to find me. I was not qualified to teach, so I did not do serious teaching, but I could recommend books that I found useful. In the Society for Creative Anachronism, my being open could be both a problem and a benefit. I stayed out of Kingdom politics but apparently got talked about,not always favorably especially by a certain Queen that was offended by my existence. Despite being both Hospitallier an Reeve,it took over two years to be come a noble not that I worried much about that. That was make believe.
But again, I was known in time when most were afraid to be open about their beliefs, thanks to the Great Satanic Child Abuse Panic of the times.New Wiccans would find away to get to our events and ask me basic question. I never broke my oath bound tradition, but there were simple basic question that I could answer, like creating, or opening a circle, and again what books that I found useful.
When a new reporter came to our local newspaper and was interested in doing a series about the Occult in our County,the editor knew where to send him,and suddenly I became aware that I was responsible for how other Wiccans would be seen. That was a bit
frightening. So I sent basic rules, including wanting to be able to check the article before it was published. I told him I was less interested in what spin he put on it, but I cared very much that my quotes be accurate and that I had the right to correct mistakes in fact. As it was it took several weeks before the article was published, leaving me checking the newspaper in town for each edition and left more than a bit nervous. But apparently it was not totally in my hands for it was published for the evening edition of August First. The Second article was on the reactions of local Christian ministers. The remarkable thing was none of their reactions was of fear, anger and loathing,but instead minor disagreement. That also ended the series, as it stirred up no controversy in our little farming and ranching town. As I said obviously it was not just due to me, something had a hand in how this went down with more power than I could never hope to have.
I will never be a high priest, as my training never got beyond the first level, but then I do not have the abilities needed to have such a responsibility, for administration, coven solution to conflicts, nor being a leader. I will never be an official teacher for the same reason, my knowledge is not near great enough,nor do I have any great magical skills. Those things I will leave to people with the ability, and the skills worthy of such things. I will just stick to those few things that I am capable of.
But the same is true of most of you, each of you have something that you are good at great or small. If it is added to our community, it makes our community better, stronger and more worthwhile. If we are ever accepted, that will be why, not anything else.
To borrow from your Heathen friends, one thing that our Community and us as individuals share this same reality “We are our deeds. We will be known not by what we say, but what we do. Anything that you can
add, and includes all the necessary unnoticed background work is what will impress people. You title,your fame and power is less than anything in importance if you have not done deeds for your community.
Me, I am Christopher, no title, no position. Just an old geezer of seventy. I hope my long ramblings have not completely bored you.
Posch must always remember that the sort of people who don’t like jokes are the sort of people the Gods created to be ignored.