Pagan Community Notes: Lady Cybele, American Academy of Religion, PantheaCon and more

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HOLMEN, Wis. — The Wisconsin Pagan community lost one of its elders last month. Carol Lee Wiggins Olson Gainer, known as Lady Cybele of Rowangrove, died Nov. 26 at her home. Lady Cybele followed the Family Tradition Craft, was a longtime member of Circle Sanctuary and the Society for Creative Anachronism.  She regularly attended Pagan Spirit Gathering until her health made it difficult.

Lady Cybele was born in 1942 in Winona, Minnesota to Leland Edward Wiggins and Mabel Cecilia Johnson. After high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree from LaCrosse State University and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison.

According to one memorial account, “[Lady Cybele] was active in her union and in 1985 was selected as the AFL-CIO Wisconsin woman of the year. She was appointed by Gov. Tony Earl to the comparable worth task force and the child care task force.” In 1982, Lady Cybele ran for mayor of Madison, and she served on the International Women’s Committee of AFSCME for nine years. In 1986, she became the West Central Field Representative for AFSCME council 24, WSEU, and served there for nearly 20 years. She was also active in the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary and was secretary of the Retired Enlisted Association (TREA).

Circle Sanctuary will be hosting a memorial and “ashes release” in spring, 2018. In the meantime, condolences can be sent to the family through the guest book at the Schumacher-Kish website or on the Circle Sanctuary site. In a Facebook post, one friend wrote, “She was one of the great ones. Her singing, weatherworking and stories are the stuff of legend.” What is remembered, lives.

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BOSTON – The American Academy of Religions held its annual meeting in Boston in November, and Pagans were in attendance as always. The organization has a dedicated contemporary Pagan studies unit. This year, the chairs for the unit were Amy Hale and Shawn Arthur. The steering committee included Pagans from around the world and from a diversity of interests and practices, including Barbara A. McGrawDouglas EzzyGwendolyn ReeceMichael Houseman, and Sabina Magliocco.

Three panel sessions were sponsored in the  Pagan studies unit. Course titles included: Witchcraft, Activism, and Political Resistance; Pagan Intersections with Social and Cultural Systems; and the Pagan-Esoteric Complex: Mapping Intersecting Milieus. As reported by Cherry Hill Seminary and shown in the program book, Pagans also participated in a number of other discussions including topics on “Ecology and Religion; Folklore and Religion; New Religious Movements; Death, Dying, and Beyond; Native Traditions of the Americas, Pre-Modern Europe and the Mediterranean; American Gods and Harry Potter.

Cherry Hill Seminary had its own contingent of representatives both presenting and in attendance, including regular conference attendees Aline O’Brien (Macha Nightmare) and Jeffrey Albaugh. Some of that group took an private “excursion to Salem,” which is only a short drive from Boston.

The location of next year’s AAR national meeting has not yet been announced. However, regional meetings are already listed and calls for papers are on the website.

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Over the past month, people have begun the process of preparing for PantheaCon, which is the largest indoor Pagan-themed conference in the United States. Held in February each year, PantheaCon is hosted at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, California. The conference, more or less, takes over the hotel for four days.

People whose presentation proposals were accepted are now making it known publicly, while others have been anxiously calling the hotel at designated times in an attempt to reserve one of the coveted guest rooms. Some are successful, and some aren’t. Additionally, groups have been posting about hospitality suite schedules. For example, the priesthood of Coru Cathubodua announced that it will be hosting a suite and temple space, as it typically has in the past.

On Nov. 21, organizers uploaded the official program guide for the upcoming conference. This year, organizers say they are “going old school” and not using special programs to automate scheduling. The guide is uploaded as a simple PDF. Coordinator Jamie Morgan reminds attendees to plan their schedule, but to also watch for changes between now and then, and during the event itself. PantheaCon will be held Feb. 16-19 in San Jose.

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In other news:

  • Circle Sanctuary will be participating, once again, in the national program “Wreaths Across America.” Rev. Selena Fox said, “We will be placing wreaths on Pagan veteran grave sites at Circle Cemetery on Dec. 16 as part of our community Yule festival.” The Wreaths Across America staff interviewed Fox on a live stream to talk about Circle’s participation. Fox said, “I encouraged people of many beliefs and backgrounds to support this work.”
  • As we previously reported, Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD) sponsored several live streaming talks over Facebook with author and Druid Philip Carr-Gomm. The talks, titled “Tea with Philip,” have been so successful that the organization has decided to make it a weekly event, scheduled through March. The next talk will be held Monday, Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. UTC.
  • The original title of the very first Harry Potter book was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which is a reference to ancient art and science of alchemy. Ardantane, a Pagan educational facility, located in New Mexico is hosting an online class on the subject. The class, which begins Dec. 5, is titled “Spiritual Alchemy and the Philospher’s Stone.” The class runs three sessions. “The ancient art and science of alchemy is more than the precursor to modern chemistry: it is a technology of the sacred and a path to inner transformation, as practiced by wise ones, adepts, and magi. We will explore the fascinating history of this art, discover the mysterious symbols in which key precepts are encrypted, and practice exercises designed to bring us closer to the hieros gamos and the Philosopher’s Stone.”
  • Pagan Spirit Gathering, the week long outdoor Pagan festival, has opened its registration for its 2018 event.

Card of the week with Star Bustamonte

Deck: Cat’s Eye Tarot by Debra M. Given, DVM publisheed by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Card: two (2) of cups

The two (2) of cups is a card that is all about relationships and partnerships. How we recognize and honor our relationships is important. Perhaps most imperative is the relationship we have with ourselves. This is a good time to reevaluate, review, or renew a relationship that has become skewed since Mercury is retrograde.

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