Pagan Community Notes: Iceland Ásatrú temple, Green Willow Grove, the Newberry Library and more!

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Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and members of Ásatrúarfélagið.


Reykjavik — According to local sources, construction on the much-anticipated Ásatrú temple has been halted. “The unique design of the building, by architect Magnús Jensson, is not simple in execution.” Due to that fact, builders have run into “engineering challenges.”

In 2015, columnist Eric Scott spoke with Jensson about his unique design and the reasons behind it. “The temple will bore into the hill itself, leaving an interior wall of bare rock; water will trickle down that wall and collect in streams and pools built into the floor. These features are meant to tie together the indoors and outdoors, the constructed and the natural. […] The wooden walls and ceiling will slope up into a dome. According to Jensson, the shape of the dome is meant to evoke the female form, in contrast to the phallic associations of other religious buildings in Reykjavik.”

Jensson told Scott that he had no interest in duplicating ancient construction, but rather watned to build something that reflected modern practice. Despite the current setbacks, high priest Hilmar Örm Hilmarsson still expects the temple to be open by late spring, 2018.

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LA BELLE, Penn. — In an update to a 2016 story, the newly formed Wiccan circle at the SCI Fayette facility is reportedly expanding to other prisons. Organizer Richard McCullough originally called the group the Alternative Spirituality Grove, but has since renamed it the group Green Willow Grove.

McCullough had been working on the project for over ten years, saying that it was a journey that took him “up and down, left and right, back and forth […] and in and out of the process of obtaining legitimacy, and acknowledgement of the Wiccan religion in prison.”

McCullough now reports that the Green Willow Grove, with support of their high priestess Lady Earla Burwell, will expand to include “inmates from across the country looking to start their own” groups. He wants to share the process, resources, and information with others who are trying to do the same thing.

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– According to Smithsonian Magazine, a library is needing help translating old magical documents. “The Newberry Library in Chicago is home to some 80,000 documents pertaining to religion during the early modern period.” Some of the documents “deal with magic—from casting charms to conjuring spirits.”

The documents are online and available to anyone through the library’s Transcribing Faith site. Part of the objective is making it possible for the public and for researchers easy access to the material. “Manuscripts are these unique witnesses to a particular historical experience,” said Christopher Fletcher, coordinator of the project, to the magazine reporter. There are currently three magic-related manuscripts that the library is working to translate. We will have you more on this story in the coming weeks.

In other news:

  • Filmmaker James Myers has created a short video called Fortis Libertas or Brave Liberty, based on interviews that he did at PantheaCon 2017. Myers writes, “Frustrated and troubled by the current administration and all the craziness that you see in the news? Pagan or not…This is for you! Check out these timely and thought provoking interviews with three influential leaders in the Pagan world as they give advice on how to cope and survive these times.” His guests include Jason Mankey, Selena Fox, and Thorn Mooney with music by Celia. The video can be viewed through YouTube.
  • The Alexandria Temple in Denver is collecting unwanted calendars for its prison ministry program. “Calendars are very useful in prisons, and appreciated by the inmates who have them. Many chaplain’s offices give out calendars at the turning of the year, but there are never enough. Please help out if you can. We have already started receiving our too many calendars in the mail, and I know others have too. Rather than waste them, put them to use.”
  • Solar Cross Temple continues its online spiritual programming this weekend with “Devotions For the People: Praises for the Indwelling Spirit.” Sunday’s event is called “Ori Devotional” and was written by Lou Florez. He explains, “In Orisha traditions in Africa and the diaspora the Ori, or indwelling spirit, is considered the highest authority and divinity in the cosmos. It is this consciousness that first offers its consent before any of our projects, dreams, or goals can come into full manifestation, or before any other divinity or spirit can assist us.” Solar Cross has been holding these devotionals monthly. The subject and direction changes as does the writer. All directions and information on how to participate are online.
  • Mystic South is launching its first event this weekend. The three-day indoor conference kicks off on Friday and runs through Sunday in Atlanta. Held in the Crown Plaza Ravinia, the event is the first of its kind to be held in the Southeast. The Wild Hunt, which is based in Atlanta, will be hosting an informal pre-conference meet and greet in the hotel Thursday evening. All those who are attending Mystic South are welcome to come say hello to and chat with TWH team members and others.
  • Fall events are being announced as August arrives. Chamisa Local Council of Covenant of the Goddess has announced its annual fall event called Magical Mountain Mabon. Based in New Mexico, Chamisa host its three-day spiritual retreat deep in the Manzano Mountains, outside of Albuquerque. This year’s theme is “The Song Within and Circle” lead by S. J. Tucker.
  • Ninth Wave Press has put out a call for submissions for an upcoming publication: Silver Wheel: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Arianrhod. Details about the project are online, and “all proceeds from the sale of this devotional anthology will benefit the Sisterhood of Avalon Land Fund.” Ninth Wave is the “publishing arm of the Sisterhood of Avalon, and seeks to produce quality works about the Avalonian Tradition, Welsh Paganism, Celtic Religion, Druidism, and Women’s Spirituality.”