Pagan Community Notes: Winter Solstice arrives; Toy Drive success; U.S. electoral college and more!

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toys-1105519_640GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Tuatha Dea band member Tesea Dawson ended up raising $4,660 for her “Gatlinburg Wildfires Christmas Fund.” She launched the campaign in the days after fires destroyed her home town, and hundreds of people were left with no home, and the children with no toys.

Dawson spent the weekend shopping for new toys and other related needs to give to the local families most affected by the fires. She wanted the children to, at the very least, still receive holiday presents. Dawson said that the shopping “is exhausting, but it’s all happening. Gift shopping for the fundraiser you all supported. You guys are amazing.”  Any money left over will, as Dawson said, be given to local charities to assist families with other basic needs.

Dawson’s toy fundraiser is only one of the many that were launched to help in the rebuilding of the Gatlinburg community. Over the weekend, Tuatha Dea participated in the Mountain Aid Benefit concert held at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pigeon Forge. The group posted a video of their performance on You Tube.

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us-capitol-477987_640 washingtonWASHINGTON DC —  Since the Nov. U.S. presidential election, many American have been discussing the prospect of the electoral college changing the November results.

Monday Dec. 19 the electors are meeting to cast their official ballots for the presidency. As we previously reported, “electoral college results can vary widely from the popular vote, because most states award all electoral votes to the winning candidate. While electors are pledged to vote for a particular candidate, so-called ‘faithless electors’ have occasionally abstained or voted for someone else entirely. However, these electors have typically acted alone.”

It is being reported that several electors have suggested or have allegedly already cast ballots counter to their state’s selection. However, it has been over a century since any group of faithless electors have come together in an attempt to completely alter the election. These unsuccessful attempts occurred in 1829 and 1836. The Washington Post provided a detailed account of the history of faithless electors, and how neither a single or group electoral vote change has been able ultimately able to impact the election results.

Dana Eilers, lawyer and author of Pagans and the Law, said, “This entire spectacle regarding the Electoral College is, realistically, merely an exercise in venting some deeply held emotions. Pragmatically, however, the protests will yield no change in the inevitable: at the end of the day, Trump will be certified as the next President of this nation.” But she also added, “[This whole matter] has caused me to be more focused and more involved in the election process. If this is true for others, then the fractious route for Obama’s successor has been an exercise in education and education, despite what anyone says, is good.”

The electors are casting their votes today. The ballots will then be counted Jan. 6, making the 2016 election results official. The new president takes the oath of office Jan. 20.

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TWH – While the U.S. electors are making their decisions, another big event is happening: the winter solstice (or summer solstice, if you are in the southern hemisphere.) This year, the actual solstice will occur Dec. 21 at 10:44 UTC. While many celebrated this weekend for practical reasons, there are still festivals, celebrations, and private rituals planned around the world. Happy Solstice!

As many Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists enjoy the winter weather, others are already looking toward summer. Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) has just opened registration for their annual summer solstice weeklong event. PSG 2017 will take place at Tall Tree Lake, in southern Illinois, from June 18-25. The popular camping festival has been taking place annually since 1980, and is one of the longest-running Pagan festivals in the country. Only once in its long history has PSG been closed down. That was in 2015, when the grounds were flooded. Since that summer, PSG has was moved to the Tall Tree location, and its organizers are preparing to “welcome everyone home” once again in 2017.

Similarly, the Aquarian Tabernacle Church is taking early-bird registrations for its 2017 Spring Mysteries Festival to be held in March. Planning for Florida Pagan Gathering’s Beltane event is underway. Summerland Spirit Festival organizers opened registration for that annual summer camping week. Additionally Mystic South, a new indoor Atlanta-based summer conference, has been accepting submissions and registrations as well. Those are just a few of the spring and summer festivals and conferences being planned now over these winter months.

In other news:

  • Mystic Productions Press has posted a call for submission for a new anthology to be titled Queer Magic: Power Beyond Boundaries. “In the world of spiritual and magical discourse, the LGBTQAI+ voice is often left out. So often, the discussion and rituals are anchored in a strict duality of a priest and priestess, and even our god(s) and goddess(es) are subject to this binary.” The new anthology will focus specifically on “queer magical experience.” Submission guidelines are posted on the website.
  • CAYA Coven, a California-based Pagan group, has launched an end-of-the-year fundraiser to help offset the costs of operations. The group is hoping to raise $2,500 to “pay a small-business, woman-of-color bookkeeper to help us review our quarterly finances, and file our state of Oregon exemption paperwork.” CAYA, like many other Pagan groups, is nonprofit, relying on donations and its members for all expenses.
  • A representative of the Frederick CUUPS chapter was interviewed recently about their Yule festivities. Local news outlet Fredrick News-Post spoke with Lora Powell-Haney, ritual co-chairperson. “The service will combine song and movement in a candlelit celebration that emphasizes the value of both darkness and light,” Powell-Haney is quoted as saying. “It’s really a time to pull back into your power, rebuild and restore in preparation. The idea is the metaphor ‘what do you find in the dark?’ You rest in the dark. Things grow in the dark.” While it is common for the mainstream media to interview Pagans in October, it is less common to see this in December. The Frederick CUUPS branch is based in Maryland.
  • Raymond Buckland has released three new books. The Penny Court Enquirers Mysteries is a series of “three Victorian mysteries” set in 19th century London. The books tell the story of an ex-newspaperman who launches a new career as a investigator in order to “show Scotland Yard how things should be done.” Buckland both wrote and published the books, which were released this December. Fiction writing is not new to Buckland. Along with his famous works on occult subjects, Buckland has written eleven novels to date.
  • The Parade of Spirits 2016 was a reported success. The event happened on Dec. 17 in Philadelphia, and Urglaawe members were on hand to celebrate as promised. Photographer Neil Kohl provided this photograph of Robert Schreiwer, Urglaawe founder and Troth Steersmandressed as Gedreier Eckhart.
Parade of Spirits 2016, Philadephia [Photo Credit: Neil Kohl]

Parade of Spirits 2016, Philadephia [Photo Credit: Neil Kohl]