Pagan Community Notes: Martin Luther King Jr., The Rectory, King Arthur, and more!

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mlkUNITED STATES —  On this day each year, the U.S. honors Martin Luther King Jr. Public schools, government offices, and many businesses are closed in order to recognize his work and sacrifice, as well as the staggering influence that his message has had on American society. Many Pagans, Heathens and polytheists across the country participate in local activities, both small and large, and privately in ritual to recognize Dr. King and his influence.

After a contentious presidential election cycle, this year’s day of honor has found itself at the helm of what promises to be an interesting and tense political week, culminating in inauguration day.  While there have been celebrations and parades throughout the country focused specifically on King and his legacy, much of this year’s political energy and focus is on the coming week, as the U.S. is poised for a political shift with unknown consequences.

Some Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists, hailing from all walks of life, are preparing to participate in the week’s schedule of marches, actions, and other activities specific to their political and social concerns. These events include the past weekend’s rallies to save ACA, the Women’s March on Washington, and the reported large number of inauguration protests.

While none of these actions are directly related to Martin Luther King’s own powerful work in social justice, they all originate from the same spirit – one of speaking up or out against perceived injustices, and working toward radical social change. Since his death, King’s message has been distilled down and come to permeate American culture in an iconic way. Its meaning now exceeds the focused goals of his particular decade and inspires a new generation of Americans to action bringing renewed vitality and forward momentum to his work. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds. – Dr. Martin Luther King, a Letter from Birmingham Jail

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admin-ajaxMONTREAL —  On Jan. 11, T. Scarlet Jory, co-founder of Crescent Moon School of Magic and Paganism, announced that The Rectory would be closing down as of February 2017. “This past Friday, January 6, 2017, we were given notice that we will need to leave our stay at the Rectory, due to some very awful miscommunications that led to a lot of anger on the part of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal.”

On Jan 5., TWH reported on a story about the birth of The Rectory, a new facility serving the Montreal Pagan community. According to the founders, Robyn and T. Scarlet Jory, the space was imagined as a place of inclusivity for a very diverse Pagan world, as a well as a proponent of interfaith community support. They had a successful soft opening in the fall, and were preparing for the full launch in January. What happened?

The trouble began after the TWH article was published and members of the greater Anglican community alerted the Diocese to the activities going on in the church. The Diocese and the church were under the impression that the space was being rented for a tutoring program, and neither organization knew of The Rectory founders’ full plans. After the Diocese learned about the scope of programming through internet reports, it immediately contacted the Reverend, who then called Robyn and Jory. In response, the two women asked us to temporarily remove our article in order to allow them to ascertain what exactly was happening. We agreed to do so based on the information we had, but the story was already public. Within hours, the founders had to remove all references to The Rectory in social media, as well as take down the new Rectory website.

In her Jan. 11 announcement Jory states that, after consideration, the Diocese asked them to leave, but it was not the church’s decision. Jory added, “We would like to be clear that the matter of our leaving is not a case of Christians vs Pagans. It is a matter of human error. […]. Rather than fight to stay where we are not welcome, we would like to move forward peacefully, with dignity, and respect for our present hosts who have been perfectly lovely with us to this point.”  Robyn agreed, saying that they are not blaming anyone for what has happened and that they are trying to just move forward.

Our article is available again, and we are currently in touch with the founders to learn more specifically where and how the communication broke down, as well as where the two women are going from here. Tomorrow, we’ll bring you their candid responses and what they have learned from this incident.

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square KArthur (1)UNITED KINGDOM — The BBC and the Guardian are reporting that King Arthur Pendragon has gotten a court date for his Stonehenge cause. As we reported in June 2016, King Arthur, an English Druid and activist, has been fighting “against English Heritage’s introduction of a car park charge of £15 (roughly 21 USD) at the summer solstice.” The solstice ritual is one of  the most popular for Pagans, and he calls this new levy a “pay to pray” tax.

“English Heritage make money off Stonehenge for 360 days a year. They receive 1.3 million visitors per year and charge them approximately £20 each per entry,” he told TWH in that June interview.  King Arthur believes that they shouldn’t need to ask for more money on worship days such as the solstice, “when only Pagan communities are given access.”

According to The Guardian, King Arthur “has petitioned the court to revoke all fees, citing articles nine, 10, 11 and 14 of the European convention on human rights.” He will reportedly now receive a hearing in small claims court.

King Arthur was unavailable for comment in time for publication, but we are in touch with him and will have more on the story as the court case unfolds.

In Other News

  • The Washington D.C.-based  Firefly House continues its planning for the Witches contingent at the Women’s March on Washington Saturday, Jan. 21. The group is reportedly meeting at the “great waterfall in front of the Museum of the American Indian” at 10am. Through its Facebook event page, it is sharing data on what to bring and not bring to the march, as well as planning for other side activities.
  • As we reported last May, blogger John Halstead was arrested with 40 other people at at “Break Free” protest in Indiana. After eight months, his court hearing was finally held Friday, and the judge agreed to dismiss the case if the protesters “commit no criminal offenses” over the next 6 months. We will have more on this story in the coming week.
  • A new survey has been launched to “explore women’s experiences at the crossroads of Pagan or Goddess Spirituality and American homeschooling motherhood.” Survey creator Kate Brunner explains “This research will be used for a published essay in a forthcoming Demeter Press project.” The survey can be taken either anonymously or not.
  • The Conference for Current Pagan Studies is less than two weeks away.  In its 14th year, the academic-based indoor Pagan conference takes place in Claremont, California, and its 2017 theme is “Visions of our Future.” Author Ivo Dominguez Jr. and anthropologist Amy Hale are this year’s featured speakers. The conference is held over two days, Jan 28-29, at Claremont Graduate University.
  • For our readers in the U.K, the Children of Artemis (CoA) will be hosting the first ever moot for Pagans living in the mid-Sussex. In Canada, the U.K. and other parts of the world, moots are popular ways of bringing Pagans and Heathens together socially. They are not quite as regular in the U.S., outside of some American Heathen communities. The new CoA Mid Sussex moot will be held at the Beechwood Hall Hotel on Feb. 2.