Pagan Community Notes: Darrin Barnett, Piedmont Pagan Pride, Gaea Goddess Gathering, and more

Darrin Barnett [Facebook]

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Bay Area Pagan community lost one of its beloved members over the weekend. Darrin Barnett was rushed to the hospital Thursday, June 7 for “exacerbated asthma,” as explained by his wife, Kaerla. While this became routine since his heart attack in July 2017 as she goes on, this recent event was not ordinary. Barnett’s heart stopped several times on the way to the hospital and he had suffered damage to his brain. The emergency room doctors reportedly told his wife that, while he could come back from his condition but “the chances are better of him not coming back than they are that he will.” Barnett was on life support for 24 hours and it was announced that he had passed June 8 at Highland Hospital surrounded by friends and family.

Barnett was an active member of several communities within the Bay Area. He was from Oakland and went to Skyline high school. In his professional life, he was an information technology specialist, working at a number of different companies over the years. Among the many Pagan activities and organization with which he was involved were the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn and PantheaCon fir which which he served on the conference assistance team. He was also founder and served on the board of the Magical Acts Ritual Theatre group.

As the shock of his sudden passing has made its way through the community, those that knew and loved him have taken to Facebook to post photos and videos of Barnett, and to offer memories and words. A fundraiser that was started on Jun. 7 to help his wife through this difficult time has raised over $5,000 to date. From the social media posts, it is clear that Barnett was universally loved, in both his work and play, and his memory will be treasured for a longtime to come. One family member wrote, “I never imagined the goodbye. I knew it would happen some day, just hoped for more time . . . . Thank you for every blessing you brought to my life, knowingly and unknowingly. Thank you for everything.”  What is remembered, lives.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Piedmont Pagan Pride Day organization has dissolved after charges of the misappropriation of funds and improper management. The internal situation was first made public in late May, and an ad hoc group of community members investigating.

The acting treasurer, Trilby Grace, had allegedly committed malfeasance; she was relieved of duties after an internal investigation. Vendor fees would be returned, it was understood, but the pride event would take place.

Those investigating determined that criminal charges would not be pressed per advisement of the national Pagan Pride organization’s board. “We handled the situation to the best of our ability. We were in contact with national, followed their guidelines and the process they were providing us,” they posted on their Facebook page. However, then the pride committee’s acting vice president, Christopher Annon, stepped down, apologizing for his involvement in destabilizing the organization. “I am guilty of give[sic] our treasurer a chance to redeem themself[sic] and not press criminal charges over stupid decisions. I am guilty of speaking harshly to former board members and volunteers in such a tone that could have been construed as bullying. I am guilty of breaking the trust given to me by my friends, family and my community.”

The documents associated with the investigation will be made public. However, damage was significant: the 2018 event was cancelled, and the pride day organization itself dissolved. It’s been asserted that the reasons for this, in addition to the accusations facing Annon and Grace, a lack of support via Pagan Pride Project, Inc., leaders of which are accused of not responding to calls for help on the matter.  We will have more on this developing story.

[Edited June 12, 2018 to correct assertions that the some of the quotes and actions noted above were taken by board members, rather than members of the ad hoc group through which the investigation advanced.]

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MCLOUTH, Kan. – Board members of the Gaea Goddess Gathering announced Thursday that they had “made the decision to change [its] lineup for this year’s festival.” Gaea Goddess Gathering is a woman-only, four-day camping festival that takes place in September. As explained on the site, the festival is “dedicated to the spiritual growth of all women.” More specifically, the change was reportedly the removal of Ruth Barrett from the lineup, after a community member allegedly complained that she was a trans-exclusionary radical feminist, sometimes referred to by the initialism “TERF.” In a public post, board members wrote: “Gaea Goddess Gathering embraces all women and strives to make them feel welcome and safe. We are committed to providing an inclusive and safe environment for our guests, staff and performers. We hold fast to the guidelines of neutrality and inclusivity that is[sic] congruent to the vision of safety and love for all women that our founding mother.” We did not receive a response for more detail in time for publication, but will follow up as needed with any future response.

Barrett’s supporters have lashed out at the organization, calling this “de-platforming” censorship and calling for people to boycott the organization and voice their complaints to the Gaea board. Citing her Female Erasure anthology, Barrett wrote in response: “It is clear that I was fired for having a different point of view, and in these times of fascistic politics on both the left and the right, intolerance for thinking or believing differently is punished.” As of publication, the Gaea website does not list the new guest speaker lineup. The event will take place Sept 13-16. Registration opened June 1 and is ongoing.  We will continue to follow this story.


In other news

  • The 2018 Australian Enterprise Awards were announced in May and Stacey Demarco is among one of the winners. Demarco is a practicing Witch, author, and teacher from Sydney. She runs the website called the Modern Witch and affiliated resources. The purpose for the annual Enterprise Award is to “acknowledge those businesses and individuals who have played a pivotal role in the resurgence of one of the world’s biggest economies,” as is explained in a press release. DeMarco said, “I’m delighted to be recognized with this award in this our 20th anniversary year and look forward to being of service to many more people all over the world.”
  • Witches and Pagans will be convening to attend 2018 New York City pride event. Organized by members of the Blue Fairy Confectionery, the event notice reads: “Show your solidarity! Come march with the Witches and Pagans for LGBTQ rights at the New York Heritage of Pride March on Sunday June 24.” Attendees will meet at 4:00 p.m. on 16th Street between 7th and 8th avenues.
  • Paganicon 2019, hosted by members of Twin Cities Pagan Pride, will be held March 22-24. Board members just made that announcemen,t along with next year’s theme: sacred groves. Additionally,  “The guest of honor is Kristoffer Hughes who is head of the Anglesey Druid Order and the award-winning author of several books on Celtic mythology and Druidry.” Damh the Bard will headline the Friday night concert and Tuatha Dea will entertain at the annual Equinox Masquerade Ball Saturday night.  It will be held in a new location, the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West.
  • The weeklong Pagan Spirit Gathering kicks off Sundayl. PSG, as it is known, has been a corner stone of the Pagan festival community for 38 years.

Card of the week with Star Bustamonte

Deck: Faerie Tarot by Nathalie Hertz, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

Card: two (2) of wands
The potential for conflict or crisis that has its roots in rivalry and desire, sadness, and possibly even regret is swirling in the atmosphere. Rather than allowing yourself to be sidetracked by what someone else has or is doing, focus on what you have and what you are doing. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by what might have been. The future is yet to be created for those who can envision it.

The decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.

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