Pagan Community Notes: Nottingham Witchcraft, Fellowship of the Phoenix, Ronald Hutton

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ENGLAND — Members of the U.K.’s Pagan community made the mainstream media in an effort to dispel myths and misconceptions with regard to a recent rash of witchcraft reports in the region. According to reports, some parts of Nottinghamshire have had “125 [complaints] of witchcraft in two years.” Local paranormal experts allegedly claim that “some of the reports could be ghostly activity which relates to, or has been caused, by witchcraft carried out in the past.”

The press turned to Ashley Mortimer, who director of Nottingham Pagan Network and also a trustee of the Doreen Valiente Foundation. Mortimer is quoted as saying that 38 “reports out of 44 [paranormal incidents in Ashfield North] says more to me about the level of reporting than necessarily does about the level of witchcraft activity.” He went on to explain that Witchcraft has had bad press for years and none of this is new.

According to reports, there were 87 calls to the area’s police regarding witches and witchcraft in 2016 alone. The numbers are up from previous years. Mortimer told reporters,”If you were to see someone don’t be alarmed – we’re quite happy to explain to people.” The local Pagan network may have more ahead if the numbers continue to rise. We’ll continue to investigate this story and report as needed.

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The Brotherhood of the Phoenix, “a Neo-Pagan order for LGBTQ+ people,” has formally changed its name to the “Fellowship of the Phoenix.” The organization was founded in 2004 as an order for “men who love men.” However, the organization’s leaders have decided to shift focus and expand their membership. As noted in a press release, the name change “reflects a broadening of the mission to connect LGBTQ+ people of all gender identities.”

The group has reportedly seen an increase in interest from “people who don’t identify with the gender identity of ‘man.’” Adrian Moran, Magister of the Chicago Temple, said, “Many of us have come to the realization that our deities and our cosmology have much to offer people outside of our original target group, and we’re pushing the organizational identity beyond traditional gender roles.”

Along with the name change, the group is expanding its presence into the Seattle area. The first public ritual in that region will be held Aug. 19. The next one in the fellowship’s home city of Chicago will be Aug. 12.

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In September 2017, Ronald Hutton’s new book, The Witch: A History of Fear from Ancient Times to the Present, will be released. Published by Yale University Press, the book “traces witchcraft from the ancient world to the early-modern stake.” Hutton asks why have societies around the world feared witchcraft.

As his bio reads, Hutton is an authority on the history of the British Isles, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, on the global context of witchcraft beliefs, and on modern Paganism. The book reportedly “sets the notorious European witch trials in the widest and deepest possible perspective and traces the major historiographical developments of witchcraft.”

Look for the book and our review, coming this fall.

In other news

  • As we previously reported, South African Pagan pioneer Donna Darkwolf Vos passed last month. Her students, friends, and family have been mourning the loss as well as celebrating her life and work. A new site has gone live to do just that.
  • Heathen John Talkington’s Brimming Horn Meadery received top marks from local critics this week, after a successful grand opening. It was listed as one of the top three spots “That Beachgoers Should Visit for Refreshing Libations.” Brimming Horn Meadery is located in Milton, Delaware, only a “few miles inland” on Route 9. The brewery’s “nordic” decor is noted by the writer, who encourages readers to stop by and try “Freya’s Kiss—a semi-sweet traditional honey mead—and Bjornbar, a dry blackberry mead made with locally grown berries and wildflower honey.”
  • Many Gods West is being gotten ready to have its doors opened for 2017. Held in Olympia, Washington, the polytheist summer indoor conference will begin Aug. 4 and run through Aug. 6. The list of presenters and workshops are listed on the site.
  • Another upcoming indoor event is Covenant of the Goddess’ annual meeting Grand Council and gathering Merry Meet. Covenant of the Goddess, founded in 1975, is a national membership organization that brings together Wiccans and Witches from around the U.S. Each year the group holds its annual event in a different host city in order to unite its members and to discuss the business of the organization. This year’s meeting will be held in Ontario, California. Next year, the meeting moves east to Florida.