Pagan Community Notes: AAR, Pentacle Quest, Parliament of the World’s Religions and more

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American Academy of religionsST.PAUL, Minn. – Pagan, cultural anthropologist, and artist Murphy Pizza has been elected president of the Upper Midwest Region of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). Over the year, local AAR chapters hold their own meetings across the United States, separate from the national event. The Upper Midwest region held its meeting March 31-April 1 in St.Paul, Minnesota.

It was during that meeting that Dr. Pizza was elected to the new office. She has previously been serving as Vice President, and is now taking on a new leadership. Dr. Pizza was not available for comment in time for publication but we will update the article with her reaction as soon as possible.

AAR is the “premiere professional organization for the study of religion and is dedicated to fostering excellence in scholarship and teaching. The annual conference, which will be held in Boston this year, contains a specialized Contemporary Pagan Studies Unit. This year that unit is chaired by Amy Hale and Shawn Arthur.

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Sgt. Stewart Pentacle MarkerUNITED STATES — The date Apr. 23 marks the 10th anniversary of Veteran Pentacle Quest victory. According to Circle Sanctuary, “more than 200 pentacle-inscribed VA markers have been issued and placed at grave sites in public and private cemeteries across the USA.” The pentacle quest paved the way for other Pagan and Heathen and emblems including Thor’s hammer and more recently the awen.

The Pentacle Quest began in 1997 when Aquarian Tabernacle Church’s archpriest Rev. Pete Pathfinder Davis applied to have the pentacle added to the VA list of religious symbols available for use on memorial markers. In 1998, a second application was made independently by Rev. Rona Russell, priestess of the Isis Invicta Military Mission of the Temple and Lyceum of Isis Fortuna. Then in 2003, Rosemary Kooiman, the high priestess of the Nomadic Chantry of the Gramarye, sent in application. Other Pagans and organizations joined the effort in some form, and the quest was underway.

Nine years later, the journey had led to Washington D.C. and garnered the support of Americans United. Then in 2007, 10 years after it began, Americans United announced, “The Bush administration has conceded that Wiccans are entitled to have the pentacle, the symbol of their faith, inscribed on government-issued memorial markers for deceased veterans.” That decision ended the lawsuit and the long wait for many Pagans veterans and their families.

Circle Sanctuary will be celebrating that landmark victory Apr. 23.

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12814548_10156569245585464_8036117525519810365_nTWH – The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) issued a statement concerning the U.S. president’s “executive order on coal and environmental rollbacks.” CPWR is joined by Interfaith Power & Light. Dr. Larry Greenfield, Executive Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions stated:

“Religious and spiritual communities and people of conscience across the earth must commit themselves to work together to stand against the President’s irresponsible and unethical actions…actions that threaten human beings everywhere, that endanger living beings across the globe, that put the earth at peril.”

Reverend Canon Sally Bingham, President of Interfaith Power & Light said in part: “This executive order is shocking to anyone who cares about future generations and the right to breathe clean air.”

Pagan interfaith representatives have routinely brought environmental concerns to the table for decades, including the world table offered by PWR. In 2015, Angie Buchanan said, “When the world’s religions come together to be part of the solution, the possibilities are endless. It is positively magical and we Pagans are an important part of it; an important voice in the interfaith movement and at the table for the discussion of global issues that have an impact on our planet; our environment.”

We will have more on the potential ramifications of the executive order and other related developments in the coming weeks.

In other news:

  • A new climate march is being schedule for Apr. 29 to mirror the historic walk in 2014. The organization has been scheduling actions since that first event, but nothing to match its size and scope. This year, in response to the recent executive order and other federal actions or proposed action affecting the environment, the People’s Climate March organizers said, “This is a moment to bring the range of progressive social change movements together,” and march again. EarthSpirit Community, based in Massachusetts, is readying to attend the march again. They are holding a meeting Apr. 23 to “connect as [they] prepare to take to the streets and speak out in defense of our mother, our home, our world.”
  • Pagan Staṡa Morgan-Appel will be offering a Goddess-focused workshop at this year’s national Quaker gathering of the Friends General Conference (FGC). On the event’s site, Morgan-Appel explains, “Ripples start where spirit moves; what ripples come from the movement of the Goddess — the earth, air, fire, water, and spirit — in our lives as Friends? […] We’ll sample several participatory experiences of the many possible ripples Goddess- and nature-focused Friends might experience in our lives.”
  • Circle Sanctuary has launched a new Young Professionals Network, the mission of which is to engage young professionals and empower them to become future leaders within their community. There are a number of mentors already available to assist network members as they grow their careers. According to the site, “Individuals looking to develop professional and career soft skills can take advantage of this opportunity to become engaged in online workshops, webinars, one-on-one calls, networking with other young professionals.”
  • Margot Adler Day is coming up Apr. 16. For those that honor her work and contributions to the Pagan community, the Firefly House is offering a collaborative online gathering to share the day.
  • As the weather warms up, Pagans are getting outside … and tending their bees. A new Facebook group has been launched specifically to bring together Pagan beekeepers. Do you tend honeybees?