Pagan Community Notes: Hindsley and Leffert, Lady Siobhan, Raven Grimassi, and more

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Indiana-StateSeal.svgIn an update to a past report, David Hindsley and Nicole Leffert have both been sentenced to 42 years in prison with a two-year probation for three felony counts of sexual crimes, including the conspiracy to commit child molesting and child molesting. Leffert received her sentence Jan. 10, and Hindsley was sentenced last week.

Before their arrest in May 2016, Hindsley and Leffert were active members of Indiana’s Heathen community. They both worked as artisans, making kilts and jewelry. The couple owned an Etsy shop and Facebook page called Heathen Spirit. In a 2014 article published in Purdue University’s student newspaper The Exponent, Hindsley was interviewed about the health benefits of wearing kilts. At one point, they had attempted to start a new kindred in their home town.

According to local news, the two unnamed victims were a four-year old child and a two-month-old baby. The crimes were discovered after Hindsley and Leffert shared pictures, texts, and Facebook messages about the acts. “At Hindsley’s sentencing Thursday,” reports WLFI, “the judge, prosecutor and detective called this case the sickest they’ve ever encountered working in the criminal justice system.”

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Lady SIt was announced last week that Renata Burnham, known to many as Lady Siobhan, died Apr. 6. Born in Czechoslovakia on Feb. 15, 1939, Lady Siobhan would recall being an only child and running from Nazis as they invaded her homeland. After spending time in Germany, she moved to the U.S. at the age of 18.

She eventually met her husband, Allan, and gave birth to three children. Although never divorced, the two grew apart as a couple, and Lady Siobhan eventually developed a new relationship with her beloved partner Aditi; it would last 42 years. After years of handfastings, their marriage was officially recognized for the very first time Oct. 23, 2016. 

Lady Siobhan came into Paganism in 1971, joining the New Jersey-based Witches of Wickatunk in 1975. She went on to earn her third degree. Eventually, the couple moved to Georgia where they joined Coven Finneces, and then Olde Stone Grove of the Keltoi Tradition of Druids. Along with her specific Craft studies, Lady Siohban was certified in numerology, studied general metaphysics, and earned her ministerial credentials through the Progressive Universal Life Church. More recently, she had become a member of the Georgia-based Willow Dragonstone Community.

In recent years, it was discovered that Lady Siobhan had developed lung cancer as well as brain cancer. In addition, she had diabetes as a result of steroid treatments. Lady Siobhan died in her home with Aditi by her side on Apr. 6. Her life was honored Apr. 9, 2017 at Crowell Brothers’ Funeral Home in Buford, Georgia. Willow Dragonstone Community will be hosting an outdoor ceremony the weekend of June 24, 2017. The location has not been announced. What is remembered, lives.

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Raven Grimassi

Author Raven Grimassi made a personal announcement Sunday about his health. In an open letter on his site, Grimassi said, “In January of 2016, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, terminal stage four, and was given 1 to 3 months to live if I did nothing, and 6 months to live if I did chemo.”

He goes on to say that he started chemo in March 2016, which landed him in the hospital in critical condition. Grimassi recounts the experience while there and his varied encounters with deity and death. At the time, the doctors did not believe his condition could be turned around. That was Easter Sunday, 2016.

Grimassi writes, “Here it is a year later this day on Easter Sunday. Not only am I still alive, but my last two CT-Scans showed no visible traces of any tumors or signs of cancer anywhere in my body.  All my blood work is completely normal.” In his post, Grimassi reflects on the year, calling it a Shamanic experience. He is now developing “a workshop on communication with the body, mind and spirit for personal healing and transformation.”

In other news

  • Several Pagans and Heathens were at the Berkeley rally and protest on Saturday. We will have accounts on what they saw and experienced in the coming week.
  • Ardantane Learning Center has launched a fundraising campaign to finish what they call their “uncommon” room. Located in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, Ardantane provides both in-person and virtual educational opportunities for its students. According to its press release, “The Board of Directors estimates that [it] will need $30,000 for the next phase of construction.”
  • Blogger Mat Auryn and author Vivienne Moss are “seeking submissions for Hekate: Timeless Titaness, a massive anthology in honor of Hekate.” Submissions are due Dec. 1. Details can be found on Auryn’s website.
  • Florida Pagan Gathering kicks off this weekend in Lake Wales. Featured guests include Jason Mankey, Patti Wigington, and Jason Augustus Newcomb. Musical headlines are Wendy Rule and Brian Henke.
  • Two events this week are planned to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the “pentacle quest” to get the emblem approved for military headstones. Tomorrow, Apr. 18, Rev. Selena Fox will dedicate her podcast to a discussion and call-in show about the pentacle quest, while on Sun, Apr. 23 — the anniversary itself — Fox and Rev. Dave Sassman will co-officiate a ceremony at Circle Sanctuary.  More information on both events is available at the Circle Sanctuary web site.
  • Blogger John Halstead published a new post titled, “It’s been 50 years and what have Pagans accomplished.” The post begins, “Contemporary Paganism, as it exists today, began with the Counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Religious studies scholar, Sarah Pike dates the origins of contemporary Paganism to 1967, the year that Frederick Adams incorporated Feraferia and the New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn was founded […] Which means that this year, 2017, is the 50th anniversary of contemporary Paganism! So let’s look back at what we have accomplished over the past five decades.” He goes on to break down the advancements made since those early years, ending with the question: “What do you think?”