Pagan Community Notes: Martin Luther King Jr., Isaac Herrera, Wicked Grounds, and more

The Wild Hunt is exclusively supported by readers like you. No advertising. No corporate sponsors. Your support helps us pay our writers and editors, as well as cover the bills the keep the lights on. We cover the community because of your generosity. Consider making a one-time donation – or become a monthly sustainer. Every amount helps. Thank you for reading The Wild Hunt!

UNITED STATES —  On this day each year, the U.S. honors Martin Luther King Jr. Public schools, government offices, and many businesses are closed in order to recognize his work and sacrifice, as well as the staggering influence that his message has had on American society. Many Pagans, Heathens and polytheists across the country participate in local activities, both small and large, and privately in ritual to recognize Dr. King and his influence.

In honor of this day, we publish these timeless words written by King in 1963 in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which has since become the focal point of an artist’s 2018 meme: “I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

*    *    *

OKLAHOMA CITY — Isaac Herrera, age 24 and member of the Oklahoma Pagan community, was fatally stabbed Tuesday, Jan. 9 during a sexual encounter. According to the the police as reported in the Oklahoman, 18-year-old Brandon Newell admitted to the crime, saying that “he was having oral sex with the victim and at one point saw his knife laying there. […] He grabbed the knife and stabbed the victim in the throat because he felt like it.” Newell is currently being held in a Oklahoma jail without bail. He has not yet been charged.

Herrera’s family, friends, and community were shocked by the news, and a GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise funds to assist Herrera’s mother with his final expenses. Isaac was known in several Pagan online groups as well as the local LGBT community. He was a theater student at Oklahoma City Community College. Friend Toby Halbert wrote on the funding campaign that Herrera was “a friend to all that knew him.” She said, “Isaac loved life and lived it to the fullest. Not letting his autism keep him from pursuing a career in acting. […] Our hearts go out to his entire family.” What is remembered, lives.  

*   *   *

SAN FRANCISCO — Wicked Grounds Cafe, the city’s “first and only kink cafe and boutique,” is at risk of shutting down. The cafe’s owners opted to try a Patreon account, seeking $15,000 a month to maintain the unique venue. Co-owner Rebeccalyn Mir Bilodeau, a Thelemite and Reclaiming witch, said  in a public Facebook post, “The Patreon is not to subsidize an unprofitable business model. It is to preserve this space within a profitable business model. Since that point, the community has been pour its funds into supporting Wicked Grounds.”

The local magical community has been a part of this push to save the cafe. Musician Lon Milo Duquette wrote, “The world’s greatest (and only?) Thelemite-run coffee shop is CLOSING unless you can help!” The campaign was more then successful. The cafe’s Patreon account now has pledges of $17,958 per month. They have raised their monthly need to $20,000 to support new kink educational projects and a relaunch of the podcast. The Wicked Grounds team wrote, “Thank you for helping us bring our brand of coffee, kink, and community to a much larger audience.” Mir Bilodeau says that, at this point, the cafe is “staying open for the long term.”

 *   *   *

TWH – Recent accusations against Isaac Bonewits sent shock waves through Pagan circles with people expressing a myriad of reactions from full support for writer Moira Greyland to skepticism that anything ever happened. Regardless of the deep diversity in the reactions to the news, discussions on consent culture have been rekindled in social media and beyond, including the need for leadership accountability and the building safe community spaces.

Three days after the TWH article was posted an alleged “Letter to the Pagan community” from Moira Greyland appeared in the comments section. Those words were posted by Megan Fox, a writer who focuses on family and parenting stories for conservative news outlet PJ MediaTWH reached out to Greyland directly to find out if the letter was indeed her words, and she did confirm. The letter begins, “Dear Pagan Community, I mentioned Isaac Bonewits in my book. I realize I have surprised you with my news about Isaac . . .” She then goes on to state that she knows other victims and to refute other recent claims. Greyland ends with, “If you want to know more about my story, read my book.” View her entire letter here.

In other news

  • In light of conversations generated by Greyland’s book, author Yvonne Aburrow launched a new petition titled “Code of Conduct for all Pagan events and organizations.” Aburrow, who is the co-editor of the anthology Pagan Consent Culture, wrote, “There’s no single organisation that this is aimed at, which is why it is a pledge and not a petition to a specific body. It’s up to all of us to get a safe and welcoming Pagan community, because we are a network of small groups and events.” The petition has garnered 161 signatures to date.
  • Aburrow’s co-editor Christine Hoff Kraemer will be offering a class in consent culture this spring through Cherry Hill Seminary.
  • Organizers of the conference Heathen Women United have posted a call for papers. The 2018 annual event, which will be in its second year, is a “multidisciplinary conference” that “aims to bring together scholars and non-scholars, who engage with the juxtaposition of historical and modern approaches to and practices of Heathenry, with an emphasis on women’s voices past and present.” The 2018 event will be held July 6-8 at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, Lancashire.
  • A new online conference hosted by Land, Sea, Sky Travel is starting this January. The digital conference, called “A Year With Our Gods: an Online Polytheist Conference,” will be hosted in eight installments over an entire year around “the holy days, equinoxes and solstices.” The first conference day will focus on Brighid and Imbolc, and will run from 10:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Eastern time on Jan. 27. The keynote speaker is Morgan Daimler, author of Pagan Portals: Brighid. Other participants include author Lora O’Brien, priestess Gemma McGowan, Julia Water, and Mael Bridge. Registration is open.
  • Florida Pagan Gathering (FPG) announced that the event will be returning to St. Petersburg. Organizers said that, in order to “remain at Retreats by the Lake [they] would have to raise rates significantly.” They opted to move back to Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, which will reportedly come “with lower costs across the entire event.” Due to the move, the dates for its spring event have changed to April 25-29. 

Tarot of the week with Star Bustamonte

Deck: Crow’s Magick Tarot by Londa Marks, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Card: minor arcana, page of cups

The page of cups speaks to noticing and heeding signs and messages from the divine, the universe, or our own higher self. Term it however you like, but pay attention and “go with your gut.” Doing so is liable to save you time, energy, and grief.