Pagan Community Notes: March in Portland, DRUID app, Parliament of the World’s Religions and more

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Solar Cross TemplePORTLAND, Ore. — With protests continuing over the weekend, members of Solar Cross Temple participated in Saturday’s march for justice. As noted by author, activist, and Solar Cross member T. Thorn Coyle, “The march theme was ‘Advancing Justice and Equality for All Through the Strength to Love, and it was sponsored by the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform” and co-sponsored by other groups such as the Portland NAACP, the Muslim Educational Trust, and Portland Copwatch.

Solar Cross was joined by other Pagan individuals and organizations including Reclaiming, Feri Tradition, and the Brothers of the Unnamed Path. Coyle said, “This was only one of five events happening in Portland that day. There was also a rally for Standing Rock. Another rally to support immigrants. A town hall meeting. An action at the Portland International Airport.” She went on to say, “I wanted to support a black-led march and rally in this very white city, though I could have easily chosen any of these actions.”

Coyle, a longtime activist, said that she wants to continue giving her support to the groups that have been “working for justice for decades,” but she also wants to find ways to “welcome those just waking up to the need to fight.” She said, “Many in the U.S. have had a fairly complacent eight years, placing the burden of shining the light on injustice onto the more marginalized members of our communities, be they disabled, trans, poor, black, brown, native, or Muslim. All of these groups have been begging the more comfortable among us to pay attention. A very small percentage of those living in the U.S. have made the time. Welcome to the revolution of love.”

A group of Pagans in Portland, including members of Solar Cross, have formed the Pagan Solidarity Group, as a way to network with each other and to offer help to “immigrants, the black and native communities [there], and to anyone else who may be in need.” Coyle said that Solar Cross members in other cities are doing similar work, including in Oakland and New York City. Coyle added, “We encourage others to do so in their communities. Bridge the chasms. Hold out your hands. Organize. Let everyone do what they can, when they can. With networks such as these, we all share the burden for the long haul. Not only can we support one another, we must.”

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175x175bbA new tablet-based app has been causing concern among modern Druids. Created by University of Massachusetts psychology professor Michael Milburn, the new app tests for marijuana impairment. As explained in a Boston Globe article, “A field sobriety test is used when a motorist is suspected of reckless driving, and a breathalyzer is used to gauge the level of alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream. But there’s nothing similar to a breathalyzer for testing whether someone is driving while under the influence of marijuana.” That is where the app comes in.

So what is the problem? The app is named DRUID, and is acronym for Driver Under the Influence of Drugs. Ellen Evert Hopman, an author and practicing Druid, told The Wild Hunt, “As Pagans and Druids we apparently have a lot of educating to do. The general public still doesn’t seem to know we exist and that we have a recognized faith. Even the military accepts our religion these days.”

Hopman explained that she and others have been contacting both Apple and Milburn. Included in her own correspondence, she said: “I explained that Druidism is my religion and that I found it disrespectful that they would name a sobriety app after us. I also said I could not imagine such an app named ‘Christian’ or ‘Muslim’ or ‘Jew.'”

Milburn has replied to Hopman, saying “I apologize if I have offended you. The research I did indicated that the ancient Druids did use marijuana, and there has been a major EU research project on marijuana and driving called DRUID.” He added that he didn’t see any controversy in using the name and that the app is designed to help people.

Hopman encourages Pagans to continue to voice their disapproval in its use, but she added, “All such comments should be polite and respectful, in keeping with our ethos of hospitality.”

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TWHThe Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) will be hosting a series of webinars during the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week. Beginning Feb. 1, the CPWR will host daily presentations on a variety of current topics from climate justice, women’s rights, sustainable living, and “Standing with Standing Rock.” Two Pagan leaders will be taking part as panelists in the webinars.

Author and priestess Phyllis Curott will be on the panel concerning the dignity of women within religious practice. This panel will be held on Feb. 6 at 11 a.m. CST, and is sponsored by the Parliament’s Women’s Task Force. The featured panelists, including Curott, “will offer insights on the issues of women’s dignity that matter to each of them in their roles within religious and spiritual communities, interfaith communities, and as global citizens.”

Priest and co-founder of EarthSpirit Andras Corban-Arthen will be speaking on the Standing Rock panel to be held Feb. 7 at 11 a.m. CST.  As we reported in the fall, Corban-Arthen is one of the many Pagans who drove to North Dakota to deliver a letter of support and to offer any other assistance needed. The Standing Rock panel is hosted by the Parliament’s Indigenous Peoples Task Force.  As the group says on the CPWR website, “The call to support Standing Rock cries out louder and further as the victory to halt construction may be reversed by the new U.S. administration. Join us to hear about the conditions at Standing Rock from our parliament leaders who’ve been there, what other actions in violation of treaties with Indigenous.”

In other news:

  • The University of Alberta has officially opened their Multi-faith Prayer and Meditation Space. As reported by the university’s news service, Dean of Students André Costopoulos said that the space “meets a long-standing desire by students to have a comfortable space where they can practise their faith while on campus, but it also creates opportunity to connect with others.” Wiccan Chaplain Samuel Wager is looking forward to doing just that. He was appointed as the scheduler for the new space and participated in its opening ceremonies. Wager told The Wild Hunt that, in addition, he will be teaching a “three-credit full-term course on Wiccan Theology this fall through University of Alberta and St. Stephen’s College.”
  • As we previously reported, the election results have triggered what is sometimes being labeled as “rage donations,” or what might be better described as financial support for nonprofit organizations possibly threatened by the current administration. Activist and author T. Thorn Coyle has just launched a t-shirt fundraiser for Planned Parenthood. Her Feminist Baphomet design is on a black shirt and is selling through Teespring. On the site she wrote, “The great androgyne brings together all polarities –male, female, animal, human, fire, earth, above, below– in support of health care for those who need it.” All proceeds go to Planned Parenthood.
  • The Hungarian Pagan folk duo The Moon and the Nightspirit will be releasing its sixth album titled Metanoia. The featured song is called, “Az Első Tündér Megidézése” or Summoning of the First Fairy. In advance of the album’s release, the band has already produced and released a music video, which includes that song accompanied by visuals created specifically for the album by artist Ágnes Tóth.
  • In other music news, Tuatha Dea is kicking off its touring season Thursday in Atlanta. The Celtic folk band will be playing at Eddie’s Attic, a popular performance venue in Decatur, and then the band will continue from there. Within that busy upcoming 2017 schedule, Tuatha Dea will make several stops at Pagan-specific events, including: Pagan Unity Festival (PUF), Heartland Pagan Festival, and Mystic South.