Pagan Community Notes: Women’s March, Chaplain Conference, Jerry Fandel, HUAR, and more

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download-1WASHINGTON D.C. — Beginning 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, women will unite and march on Washington to, as organizers say, “stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

Although it is called the “Women’s March on Washington,” organizers say that everyone who supports their purpose is welcome. They wrote: “In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration, Congress, Senate, state and local governments on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”

Many of those in the Pagan, Heathen, and polytheist communities have already been outspoken about attending the upcoming march. Members of the Washington-based Firefly House will be on hand and are also organizing a “Witches Contingent” for the event. Those that can’t make it to Washington D.C. are reportedly joining the many worldwide sister marches that are now being organized in conjunction. We will bring you the full story next week.

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download-2ALEXANDRIA, Va.– Circle Sanctuary and Sacred Well Congregation are currently participating in the 2017 Annual Forum of the COMISS Network, an interfaith chaplaincy organization involved in national and international initiatives. Also now known as the Network on Ministry in Special Settings, the organization holds an annual forum each year to discuss and promote multi-faith chaplaincy programs.

We caught up with Circle Sanctuary’s Rev. Selena Fox between workshops. She said, “Although as part of my work with Circle Sanctuary, I have collaborated with chaplain endorsers and others connected with COMISS Network in a variety of settings over the years, this was my first time attending the conference. I enjoyed being with old friends and meeting new colleagues, and being part of sharing experiences, perspectives, and ideas about educating and supporting chaplains with others of many religions and beliefs.” Since its inception, Circle Sanctuary has been working with interfaith organizations toward growing Pagan chaplaincy in a variety of service industries.

As we reported in spring 2016, Sacred Well Congregation had the distinction of earning EEO status with the Department of Veterans Affairs, marking “the first time that any Pagan group has been approved as an Ecclesiastical Endorsing Organization for the VA.” The designation not only opened the door for more Pagan and Heathen acceptance within organizations like COMISS. The annual January forum wraps up in Alexandria, Monday, Jan. 9.

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17222882_1483649924-5635The Las Vegas Pagan community and the Officers of Avalon lost one of their members Sunday. Paramedic Jerry Fandel was reportedly admitted to the hospital Jan. 1 after suffering a heart attack. According to his partner’s daughter Bekah Lynn, the doctors were unable to remove two clots that had already hardened. He was moved to the intensive care unit, where he went into cardiac arrest and remained there in critical condition.

Lynn and Fandel’s place of employment, AMR-Las Vegas, announced his passing Sunday, Jan. 9.  In an update to a GoFundMe campaign set up to offset family medical expenses, Lynn thanked all of those who had already donated, saying “I know it would have meant a lot to him.” In only three days, that fund raised $3,120.

AMR-Las Vegas made its annoucement on Facbook, saying: “Jerry started at AMR in the California area working for both Oakland and Alameda County starting November 29th, 1989. [He] transferred out to Las Vegas several years ago. [He] was a great paramedic that always brought comfort to those he encountered. Jerry will be missed and remembered in those lives he saved and those he changed. Rest easy sir, we have the watch.”  What is remembered, lives. 

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HUAR LogoHeathens United Against Racism (HUAR) published a statement Sunday in response to the Jan. 8 rally in Whitefish, Montana. The “Love Not Hate” event was organized locally after the Montana town’s Jewish population was reportedly targeted by neo-Nazi groups via statements made on several websites. While officials are not clear on whether those statements pose any further threat, or whether or not the advertised Jan. 15 march will actually happen, local Whitefish police have reportedly increased their patrols.

HUAR, an international Heathen organization that monitors such actions, offered a solidarity statement after learning of the weekend’s “Love Not Hate” rally. It reads in part: “We stand with Whitefish. We stand with the Montana Jewish community. We stand with all who fight organized bigotry in their homes & communities.” HUAR urged locals to stand with the organizers of the rally event, and also for people to donate to the Montana Human Rights Network.

In Other News:

  • Here is a quick update on two court cases that we are currently following. First, Kenny Klein, whose case has continued to be delayed since his arrest in spring 2014, is now scheduled to be in court Jan. 23. The second and unrelated case involves Daniel Scott Holbrook. His original court date, Nov. 22, was postponed and the trial date was rescheduled for February. We will continue to follow these stories and update as needed.
  • Pagans Tonight Radio program Voces Paganas hosted its 100th episode Jan. 8. This radio program is a successful all Spanish-language broadcast that looks at “issues and trends in contemporary Paganism,” and includes “rituals, interviews, news and community.” Although the day-long 100th episode celebration has already aired live,  it can be streamed over Blog Talk Radio.
  • Cró Dreoilín and the Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Pagans of Jefferson Unitarian Church are getting ready to host their annual “Paths and Traditions” fair. Held at the Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colorado, the event is for “Pagans, Witches, Heathens, Polytheists, and believers in alternate spiritual traditions. For anyone seeking fellowship or spiritual growth in that community.” Chris Redmond of Cró Dreoilín, and co-host of the fair, said that “The Paths and Traditions Fair provides a unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with teachers and leaders of a wide variety of religious and spiritual traditions.”
  • While winter snows keep some people indoors and near fireplaces, members of the Massachusetts-based EarthSpirit Community were out participating in an age-old seasonal tradition: