Pagan Community Notes: Masterpiece Cake ruling, Phyllis Curott honored, OBOD changes hands, and more

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court of the United States delivered their opinion Monday, June 4 on the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Justice Kennedy delivered that opinion, which holds that the “Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s actions in assessing a cake shop owner’s reasons for declining to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding celebration violated the free exercise clause.” This overturned previous court rulings. The vote was seven to two, with justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor filing a dissenting opinion.

The ruling suggests that the commission did not uphold neutrality when dealing with the baker’s conscious-based objections, stating there was a notable bias expressed against the baker’s religious beliefs. It reads, in part: “The government has no role in expressing or even suggesting whether the religious ground for Phillips’ conscience-based objection is legitimate or illegitimate. The inference here is thus that Phillips’ religious objection was not considered with the neutrality required by the Free Exercise Clause.”

As for Philips’ claim that the commission violated his right to free expression as an art, the decision labeled this a “significant component” and the justices wrote that his “dilemma was understandable.” The ruling says, “The laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.” They add that while “Colorado law can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other members of the public, the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”

We will have more on this ruling, its implications, and community reactions in the coming week. 

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Phyllis CurottNEW YORK — Phyllis Curott received the 2018 Service to Humanity Award from One Spirit Learning Alliance and Interfaith Seminary.  Curott said, “The award is in recognition for my many years of work in bringing the teachings of Wicca and [its] goddess to mainstream awareness and acceptance, and women’s spiritual leadership to the Parliament of World Religions[sic].” The One Spirit Learning Alliance and Interfaith seminary, based in New York City, is a teaching facility offering programs that are “based upon the essential teachings of the world’s great spiritual traditions as seen in the light of contemporary knowledge.”

Currott will be receiving her award recognition during the 2018 commencement ceremony to be held at Riverside Church in New York City. She will also be delivering a short address to the graduates. The event will take place on June 9 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.  She said, “It would mean so much to share this this special occasion with those of you in the New York City area. The event will also be live-streamed via the One Spirit website.

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ENGLAND — Druid Philip Carr-Gomm announced June 3 that he would be stepping down as chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids after 30 years of service. He said in his announcement at the organization’s summer gathering that “these last three decades have been so magical and extraordinary, I could never have predicted them. We now have 25,000 members, gatherings all over the world, and more than 200 groves and seed-groups.”

Carr-Gomm will be helping the organization transition to a new leadership, which will begin officially in 2020. He said, “If you wait until the leader of a group dies, you create an unstable situation that has so often occurred in the history of spiritual groups.” The next chosen chief is Irish Druid Eimear Burke. She is a nurse, counselling psychologist, celebrant, storyteller, and longtime member of OBOD. Carr-Gomm said, “I have chosen [Burke] because I believe she is completely aligned with and respects the order’s work and values, and — just as I have done — will continue to build on the legacy created by the order’s founder Nuinn.”

We will have more on this news in the coming weeks.

In other news:

  • Ohio-based House Kheperu, which was founded by author Michelle Belanger, has recently been awarded nonprofit status. “House Kheperu is a pan-spiritual group that promotes tolerance by providing a safe and welcoming environment for shared learning and discussion on metaphysical topics.” The new nonprofit will be holding a three-day public event, generically called “Gather.” It will be hosted in Oberlin, Ohio June 22-24.  Ellen Dugan will be the event’s special guest speaker.
  • New York City’s annual summer solstice performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream Ritual” is now in its 13th year. Held in Tompkins Square Park June 21, the organizers write, “Come gather to celebrate, feast and frolic in the height of the sun’s power, invoking the divinity that dwells within us.” Come in costume, they write, but add, “no skyclad.” The event is public and family-friendly.
  • Pagan Spirit Gathering, one of the biggest Pagan camping events, is near to its June 17 opening. Registration for the event will close June 6. Pagan Spirit Gathering will take place in Tall Tree Lake, in southern Illinois, and its 2018 theme is “soul shine.”
  • The book Contemporary Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Europe: Colonialist and Nationalist Impulses is now available in paperback. Edited by anthropology professor Kathryn Rountree, the book draws on ethnographic cases. Its “contributors explore the interplay of neo-nationalistic and neo-colonialist impulses in contemporary Paganism, showing how these impulses play out, intersect, collide, and transform. “

Tarot of the week with Star Bustamonte

Deck: Tarot of the Witches by Stuart R Kaplan, artwork by Fergus Hall, published by US Games Systems, Inc.
Card: hermit, VIIII (9) major arcana

The hermit in this deck is a mixed bag at best, as are the implications for the week. While there is nothing whatsoever wrong with seeking solitude and time away for introspection, caution is advised against giving in to the desire to completely withdraw and isolate oneself. One cannot hide from facts, and eventually, the truth is always revealed. Best advice: take time to settle your thoughts, and then face your fears.

The decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.

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