Pagan Community Notes: Wiccan teen adoption, Lady Circe, Parliament of the Worlds Religions and more

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Brittney, at 16 years old, is looking for her forever family. Her adoption case is manged through Camelot Community Care, located in North Florida. However, due to her religious beliefs, Brittany has reportedly been turned down by “multiple families.” Brittney is Wiccan. Her case manager, Trey Yeoman, has been working with her for three years and is hoping to find a family that either shares her beliefs or is open-minded enough to allow Brittney the space to continue her practice and artistic exploration.

In early June, Yeoman contacted the Northeast Florida Pagan Leadership Coalition for help and asked them to spread the word. NEFPLC volunteers coordinate the Jacksonville Pagan Pride Day event and does other outreach and education in the region. Yeoman shared Brittany’s bio with the organization’s board; it reads in part: “Brittney’s perfect forever family would be one who is open and flexible in their thoughts and views. Brittney identifies as a Wiccan and needs a family open to her individual spiritual beliefs. Brittney will also need a family who is willing and able to assist her with her continuing academic needs.” However, the bio featured on Camelot Community Care website leaves off the part about “identifying as a Wiccan,” and only stresses needing an open-minded family. Regardless, Yeoman is eager to find this young Wiccan a home, calling her a “gem.” We will have more on her story in the coming weeks.

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MELBOURNE, Fla. — In other news out of Florida, Jacquelyne En Aset, more commonly known as Lady Circe, died June 23. Born in Dayton, Ohio in 1952, Lady Circe was a longtime and active member of the Church of Iron Oak, founded in 1990. She was a high priestess with the organization, as well as a mentor and teacher. The church’s board members called her “a voice of reason and understanding” in the organization. Lady Circe was also the co-founder of Treasure Coast Pagan Pride, which takes place  annually in Fort Pierce, a longtime and well-known member of Covenant of the Goddess, and a founding member of the Everglades Moon Local Council, which is the Florida-based CoG affiliate.

Lady Circe used her professional skills as an administrator and bookkeeper in her work for many of these Pagan organizations, and her efforts were tireless. In fact, when she passed, she was serving on the national board of Covenant of the Goddess as second officer as well as pursewarden of EMLC. In addition, Lady Circe had been spearheading the planning of CoG’s upcoming Merry Meet conference and Grand Council meeting, which is to be held in Fort Lauderdale in August. Lady Circe had been coping with a long-running illness, the details of which have remained private. She was admitted to the hospital in early June, due to new complications. Last week, her family placed her in hospice, where she died peacefully surrounded by her children and loved ones.

The immediate outpouring of community love over social media makes it clear how many people she touched. A number of Florida Pagans have spoken out and shared memories individually or collectively, including those involved in the EMLC, CoG national, Treasure Coast Pagan Pride, and Florida Pagan Gathering. The Church of Iron Oak’s board announced that it is raising money to support her family.  In its public statement, the board of Treasure Coast Pagan Pride Day wrote: “All who met her loved her . . . .  She will be missed by many and never forgotten!” What is remembered, lives.

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As we have reported, several Pagan organizations have made statements or joined recent protests condemning the Trump administration’s recent immigration policies and actions. Joining them this week are leaders of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. The statement is titled An Unequivocal Condemnation of Family Separation and begins, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, essential to protecting the integrity of human beings within the family of nations, reminds us that ‘no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.,” = The organization’s leaders go on to say that the use of religion and scripture to justify these acts is reprehensible and a distortion.

They state: “The Parliament of the World’s Religions denounces these and like-minded global policies against families, and calls for all religions with which these leaders are affiliated to admonish them for their actions, and to refute any religious or scriptural justification to which they appeal in their effort to rationalize or justify those actions.” The statement continues, “As a global organization dedicated to convening and connecting families of faith and conscience around the world, the Parliament of the World’s Religions sees the United States’ recent family separation policy, which has led to the fracture of vulnerable refugee families, as an abject failure of civilized and collective life.” Council members offer a number of ways in which concerned individuals and groups can get involved to protest these actions and policies.  We will continue to follow this story and report back on any new developments.

In other news

  • A public memorial is being held for Darrin Barnett Aug. 11 in Oakland. “He who was friend to many, black hat, priest, gamer, drummer, and all around pundit. You may have known him as Darrin, or Severian, or Snorri. We all knew him as friend,” reads the invitation. The memorial, to be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., will be “a celebration of his life as he would want it.” Information for those that want to attend is available online.
  • There are hopes to open an “inclusive Pagan community center” in St. Paul, Minneapolis, called Leanaí Na Déithe Community Centre. Spokesperson Arcadian Barrett said, “We plan to offer classes, tarot readings, offer counseling, and other opportunities for the community like food/clothing shelves and a library.” In a public post on a new Facebook page, the organization founders explain, “There are roughly 20,000 self identifying Pagans in the Twin Cities with more unaccounted for. While there are a varied amount of community centers based in other religious beliefs, there is none for Pagans. We seek to rectify this by creating a space for Pagans and non-Pagans alike to get a sense of a judgement free and truly inclusive community space.” They have started fundraising and are looking for community support.
  • Art history professor Sherrye Cohn has released her first novel, titled Going Widdershins. Set in 1958, the story tells of a young girl’s psychological struggle and how it is eventually treated in a mysterious place called Summerland, where magic, drumming, and herbalism are prescribed for treatment. While this is Cohn’s first venture into fiction writing, she is not new to authorship. She has published two other books, plus academic works.
  • Wendy Rule will be hosting one of her live, free concerts June 27. The concert, titled “Capricorn Full Moon Magic,” will be streamed from a friend’s apartment in Manhattan. Rule says, “Who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of the Chrysler building in the background!” The concert will end at 10 p.m., three hours before the full moon, due to noise restrictions. This concert is part of a series that Rule began in January 2018.

Tarot of the week with Star Bustamonte

Deck: the Sacred Rose Tarot by Johanna Gargiulo-Sherman, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Card: hanged man, major arcana (XII) 12

The energy of this week calls on us to have faith, and very well may test the strength our beliefs. We may also be called upon to make a sacrifice or let go of something we hold dear that no longer serves us. This card also reminds us that the surest path to defeat is one that embraces selfishness and boasts false values.

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.