Pagan Community Notes: West Coast protests, Druid ritual in Ohio, Emperor Julian, and more.

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UNITED STATES — This past weekend saw yet more rallies and protests in both Portland, Oregon and Berkeley, California, two cities that are targeted by right-wing groups due to their reputation for being the most liberal areas in the country. The Portland rally, held Aug. 4, was sponsored by Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys, and hosted by Joey Gibson. The Aug 5 rally in Berkeley was dubbed “No to Marxism in America 2 / Exposing Communism” and was organized by Amber Gwen Cummings. Sunday’s rally was relatively small with only minor skirmishes and reportedly 17 arrests for carrying banned weapons. Coru Cathudobua priest Brennos was on site as a medic along with five other members of that group; he said there were only about 20 rally supporters, and that the counter-protesters outnumbered the group.

The Portland event, however, attracted over 100 right-wing supporters as well counter-protesters, Antifa, and more. The event did result in a skirmish. The police, in an effort to keep the two sides separated, used various forms of force, resulting in injuries to counter-protesters. Due to that fact, Portland police chief Danielle Outlaw is now launching an investigation into the force used. She said, This morning I learned of allegations of injury as a result of law enforcement action. I take all force applications by members seriously and I have directed the professional standards division to begin the intake process regarding these allegations to determine if force was used and if so, was within our policy and training guidelines.”

In the current highly-charged political climate, protests, marches and rallies will continue to be planned around the country by groups of all kinds, which means more potential violence with potential injury. Brennos, who has attended as a medic at peaceful and violent rallies over the years,has published a blog post on this subject called “Five Years (That’s All We’ve Got): Packing for Civil Unrest Revisited.” In the post, he encourages people to be prepared for extremes, to learn basic first aid, and to keep a well-stocked medical kit. He writes, “We live in uncertain times and the possibility of civil unrest, random violence, or natural disaster is higher than its ever been. Having the skills you need to be effective and able to help others in dangerous situations is essential for a community’s survival.” Brennos includes suggestions on how to prepare and a list of needs for a basic first aid kit.

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DUBLIN, Ohio – The annual Irish Festival in Ohio was held this weekend, and included Sunday services for attendees. Those services came from array of different religions, including Druidry. Members of Three Cranes Grove ADF, based in Columbus, offered a ritual celebrating Lughnasadh and the goddess Tailtiu.  According to the local news, the service has been part of the festival for eight years, and is usually performed  by Rev. Michael J. Dangler. This year it was hosted by Rev. Jan Avende. Dangler told the media: “[The festival] falls at the time of the year when in Ireland the tribes would gather together in the center and celebrate their commonalities,” Dangler said. “We bring folks together and honor Irish gods and goddesses and their role in the creation of Ireland.”

The event was broadcast live on Facebook, and is available to watch on the Three Cranes Grove page. Avende described the ritual as the group’s most formal, and Dangler later posted that the event was well. The presence of a Druid ritual during the Sunday morning services made the news at number of local outlets, as it is something that not commonly offered publicly in Ohio.

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Cherry Hill SeminaryCherry Hill Seminary, based in South Carolina, offered a unique opportunity to its community July 31, when it invited professor Avi Gold to give a talk on Julian, the last Pagan emperor of Rome. Gold is a visiting scholar, who lives in the south of Israel and teaches Yiddish literature, Greek philosophy, and other subjects. According to the promotional material for the event, Gold’s “first visit to South Carolina was in 2001, as a result of several years’ correspondence with a Baptist on matters of scripture.”  He has been back many times since.

Gold’s talk on Emperor Julian was co-hosted by Cherry Hill Seminary, the Interfaith Partners of South Carolina, and the Jewish Federation of Columbia; it was held at the Kahn Jewish Community Center in Columbia. Gold says, “Julian lived at a time that Christianity was gaining influence in the empire, but nonetheless, he took a stand as a proud Pagan. He began a policy of restoration of the Pagan temples which had been confiscated in Constantine’s time. He also proclaimed an edict of tolerance in 362, stating that all religions were equal before the law.” The talk was captured on video and now published to YouTube.

This programming is part of Cherry Hill Seminary’s continued efforts to partner with local organizations to foster education and interfaith efforts.

In other news

  • Professor Ronald Hutton offered his take on Witchcraft in the world today for the British Academy podcast “From Our Fellows.” Hutton is an author and professor of history at the University of Bristol. He is considered to be “leading authority on history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs.” The British Academy podcast is available to stream for free.
  • Pagan pride events are well underway around the world. One of the bigger events is Cleveland Pagan Pride, which organizers say can attract “over 4,000 people each year” and has raised “more than 2,000 [pounds] of food for the local hunger center.” Unlike some Pagan pride events, which take place over one day, the Cleveland event is hosted for an entire weekend. Organizers say, “We have been able to touch many peoples’ lives.” Headliners at this year’s event include Wendy Rule and Tuatha Dea. Cleveland Pagan Pride will be hosted Aug. 24-26, 2018 in Bedford, Ohio. Crossroad Universal, the parent organization for Cleveland Pagan Pride, also hosts the Cleveland Witches Ball in October.
  • Covenant of the Goddess members are packing up and heading to the airport this week in order to attend their annual conference and business meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Merry Meet begins Thursday, Aug. 9.  The Wild Hunt will have a reporter at the event to report back on what the members of the 43-year-old Pagan organization are doing.
  • Another upcoming event is TempleFest hosted, by the Temple of Witchcraft. This annual outdoor festival takes place every August in Hancock, New Hampshire and features “local vendors and craftspeople; ritual, classes and workshops; fun and fellowship.” According to the website, there will also be a Lughnasadh (Lammas) ritual on Saturday. This year’s keynote speaker is Courtney Weber.  TempleFest takes place Aug. 23-26, 2018.
  • As fall approaches, registration for fall events has begun. EarthSpirit community organizers opened registration for Twilight Covening, a three-day outdoor ritual. The group has been coming together for this event since 1986. The website reads, “In the twilight of the year, we gather together to set time apart from our daily lives for study, reflection, dreaming, and seeking visions.” The community welcomes anyone who would like to join them. The event takes place in Massachusetts, Oct. 5-8. More details are on the site.

Tarot of the week with Star Bustamonte

Deck: Spiral Tarot Deck by Kay Steventon, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Card: two (2) of pentacles

This week may offer some challenges in trying to balance things that are diametrically opposed, like vacation time vs income. Be mindful of where you are sourcing your financial advice. Life is always full of ups and downs, but an equitable and even balance is most often achieved through moderation.