Pagan Community Notes: Patheos, PantheaCon, the awen and more.

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PatheosLogoDarkBG_bioTWH – The tensions between bloggers and the Patheos company continued this week as former Patheos writer John Halstead announced that he and others would be demanding that their material be taken off the site.

Their joint letter begins: “We the undersigned former and current Patheos Pagan contributors hereby request that you remove our names, likenesses, and our intellectual property, including our writing, art, and images, from your site. We previously gave Patheos license to publish our writing, but Patheos is no longer the company that we contracted with.”

The letter continues on to list the writers’ grievances and detail why the group feels that Patheos is no longer the company that it once was. In its conclusion, the letter says, “We should not be forced to affiliate with or be seen to support, through our work, organizations which are inimical to our values and which, in many cases, are hostile to our existence…” 

Currently eighteen bloggers have signed the document. Halstead says the letter will be sent to Patheos Monday after a few more people confirm their support.

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PantheaConSAN JOSE, Calif. – The annual Pagan conference PantheaCon begins this week. Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists from all over the country are preparing to descend on the Double Tree Hotel in San Jose, California for this annual indoor event. It is the largest conference of its kind, boasting “more than 200 presentations that range from rituals to workshops and from classes to concerts.” The event attracts everyone from newcomers and children to seasoned veterans and tradition elders. For those who can attend each year, the journey to San Jose is consider almost a religious pilgrimage.

As we reported in 2015, PantheaCon began as a small, local event, but quickly expanded under skilled, experienced management and teamwork. Today, the conference fills nearly the entire hotel, including 48,000 square feet of “function space,” guest rooms and hospitality suites. There are only a few people roaming around the hotel, outside of the staff and personnel, who are not with the conference.

The 2017 event theme is Pagans of All Ages and Kinds. The programming book is available online as a schedule maker. PantheaCon begins on Friday, Feb. 17 and wraps up Monday, Feb. 20.

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AwenSymbol-File-for-VA-2BARNVELD, Wis. — As we previously reported, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has accepted the awen for use on headstones and other memorial markers. The Druidic symbol, now #65 on the official VA list, has a variety of meanings for those Druids who use it, such as the triple aspect of deity or body, mind, and spirit.

This weekend, the first stone displaying the awen was installed in Dallas-Fort Worth National Veterans Cemetery located in Texas. It marks the grave of Air Force Captain Wayne Laliberte. As noted by Circle Sanctuary, Wayne was “not a member of any Druid organization, but he was a Bard, and the Awen, the flowing spirit of inspiration, was central to Wayne’s spirituality and life.”

His wife Dr. Rita Louise said, “When Wayne died [in 2013], none of the symbols that were options for VA gravestones at that time were suitable. So I decided to let the place for the symbol on his stone remain blank.” Now that the awen is approved, she had the headstone changed. “I am glad that my husband will have the Awen on his gravestone as a symbol of his spiritual beliefs.”  She was able to visit the grave for the first time on their anniversary day.


[Photo Courtesy Dr. Rita Louise]

In other news:

  • The North Carolina court case involving Daniel Scott Holbrook has been postponed again. The new date is set for Mar. 3. In fall 2016, Holbrook was arrested on one count of the “dissemination of obscenities.” He had allegedly sent pornographic photography to an undercover officer. Now Holbrook is awaiting his trial date. We will continue to follow the case.
  • In Australia, it was announced that a judge has revoked the supervision mandate on Robin Fletcher, a man who was convicted of sexual assault in the 1990s. At the time of his arrest, Fletcher told the courts that his actions were part of Pagan religious beliefs. We will have more on this story and a reaction from the local Pagan community in the coming week.
  • The Academy of Arcana organizers have renewed their request for funding help. Oberon Zell and colleagues opened the Academy of Arcana in 2015. Located in Santa Cruz, it is the physical campus of the Grey School of Wizardry, a magickal education center founded by Zell in 2004. The location also includes the Museum of Magick and Mysterie, a library and reading room, and a gift shop offering magickal items, ritual supplies, books and jewelry.
  • In November 2015 we reported on a story out of Nederland Colorado concerning a local reverend who had started a religious literacy program in his church. He had invited Wiccans to participate in the unique children’s education program. Since that point, despite a few minor bumps in the road and a few complaints, Rev. Hansen Wendlandt has continued to sponsor the program. On Mar. 21, Wiccan priestesses Kim Culver and Kimba Stefane will be welcomed back to offer a spring equinox class with food, crafts, and information. Rather than being at the church, the program is being held at the Blue Owl Boutique.
  • While PantheaCon may be on the minds of many people this week, there is another conference that follows right on the heals of its larger sibling. ConVocation, held in the Detroit area, begins Thursday, Feb. 23 and wraps up on Sunday, Feb 26. The event always occurs the weekend after PantheaCon and many people attend both. ConVocation was first held in 1995 and has been ongoing since.