Pagan Community Notes: Damh the Bard, Nature’s Path, Mountain Magic 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!

Damh the Bard

Damh the Bard

GLASTONBURY, England — Popular musician Damh the Bard made mainstream headlines last week after delivering a talk at the Occult Conference in Glastonbury. During that talk, Damh discussed a ritual that he once co-led during a weekend camp back in 2005. The Daily Express published the story synopsis with the headline, “Top druid ‘slit people’s throats’ in bizarre Pagan sacrificial death ritual held in U.K.” Writer John Austin writes that Damh said in his talk that the attendees “were left convinced they had died after his mock execution,” which was done when Damh ran his fingernail across their throats.

The Wild Hunt contacted with Damh to find out what exactly happened at the conference and what he said in his talk. In an email interview, he told us that the reporter sat quietly, observing the entire conference without asking questions. “He just sat there all day looking for sensationalist twists in the talks given.” The reporter never saw the ritual as it was not done at the conference.

As for the 2005 ritual described in the talk, Damh called it a “ritual of life, death, and rebirth,” and it was held during a past “weekend camp.” The ritual involved an intense journeying experience, with sound, drums, visualization, meditation, and a labyrinth. He said, “The paper took what I said about tears and ‘not wanting to leave’ and simply, as they do, left out some very important words and context. When I say it stayed with people, again, I mean in a very positive way. It was incredibly healing and transformative.” Damh did, in fact, draw his finger across participants skin as they entered into the underworld, where they were able to communicate with their ancestors. That was only part of the entire experience. Damh said, in the end, their were no complaints at the camp event or at the conference during this talk.

*   *   *

TWH – Fans of Patheos Pagan channel blog Nature’s Path may have noticed that it has changed its name to Nature’s Sacred Journey. The popular blog ran into a problem concerning its original name after Patheos was contacted by Nature’s Path food company.  As Patheos Pagan channel manager Jason Mankey explains, the organic food company owns the trademark to the name “Nature’s Path,” and expressed concern that the blog’s newsletter would be confused with  will its own marketing newsletter.

“They have been very polite,” said Mankey in an interview. He said that they received the letter asking them to change the blog’s name in January, and that the company gave them “a lot of time to make changes.” He stressed that the engagement has been very civil. The CUUPS Patheos blog, Nature’s Sacred Journey, has been in publication since 2015, and is one of the more popular Patheos Pagan channel blogs. It is run by the Covenant of the Unitarian Universalist Pagans, and features a variety of writers. The CUUPS organization has only responded to say that they “appreciate the opportunity to dialogue about what is for the greater good of all.”

 *   *   *

RICHLANDS, Va.. —  Mountain Magic and Tarot Shop has started a funding campaign to support the legal fees needed to challenge their city council.  As we previously reported, shop owners Jerome VanDyke and Mark Mullins asked the city council to consider changing the code so that divination would be permitted within their store. At a standing-room-only meeting Feb. 13, Mullins said, “I’m not the first person to ever tell fortunes in town. I’m just the first person wanting to do it legally, I guess.” City council members declined to vote, leaving the restrictive zoning code in place.

VanDyke and Mullins write, “This is the first time there has ever been any type of openly New Age shops ran by a openly gay married couple in Tazewell County.” They say that their store has a legal license and that the city offers “fortune telling licenses” but won’t grant them one. The couple states that this is religious discrimination, saying that “the tarot is our bible, we are ordained priests, and the tarot was what we used to help people.” The couple plans to fight and has said that they will be contacted the ACLU. We will continue to follow this story, and bring you more.

In other news

  • The Sacred Space conference will be changing hands. Longtime board member Caroline Kenner is stepping down to make way for new leadership. Kenner has been a member of the Sacred Space foundation’s board since 2006. The rest of the board will continue its work. The Sacred Space conference, which is held in Hunt Valley, Maryland each year, will take place March 15-18. This year’s featured presenters are Robert Schreiwer, Raven and Stephanie Grimassi, and T. Thorn Coyle.
  • Speaking of  T. Thorn Coyle, the author and activist is working on a new book series titled The Witches of Portland. The first book in the nine-part series is called By Earth and will be available in April. This is not Coyle’s first fiction series; she authored the Panther Chronicles as well as a number of other short stories and fiction novels. Coyle maintains a Patreon account to help support her work.
  • Ardantane Learning Center is welcoming Kerr Cuhulain to its campus located in New Mexico. In the past, Cuhulain offered distance learning through the school, but this time, he’ll be teaching at the school in person. His class is called “Discovering the Warrior Within: Defining the Pagan Warrior,” and will be offered Apr. 27-29.
  • If you have never been to PantheaCon, there are always many reviews and reports that are published in the weeks to follow. Blogger and speaking Angus McMahan, not to be outdone, has published a four-part series detailing his experience. McMahan is a regular speaker and teacher at PantheaCon, and has been attending the California-based convention since 2003.
  • Regular Wild Hunt readers may have noticed that we introduced three new writers over the past three months. Blogger Tamilia Reed has joined the columnist team in December. Her column appears the third Saturday of every month. Reed dives deep into the many varied aspects of living spiritually, through personal experience as well as broader concepts. In January, writers Rick de Yampert and Sean McShee joined the TWH weekly news team. Both are experience journalists who collectively have covered everything from breaking news to social issues to culture. McShee will cover a broad range of topics as well as producing TWH’s periodic archaeology feature, while de Yantis is the Wild Hunt‘s dedicated arts and culture writer, and his articles will appear on Sunday. Help us to welcome our three newest team members.

Tarot of the week with Star Bustamonte

Deck: Tarot of the Witches, artwork by Fergus Hall, text by Stuart R. Kaplan, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Card: king of cups

The week ahead calls for being responsible, sensible, and applying the knowledge you possess. Should the situation require information outside of what you know, consult a bona fide expert. You may also need to be creative in your approach.

Decks provided by Asheville Raven and Crone