ATHENS, Tenn.— Local Archdruid, Angela Wilson has scheduled a public Samhain ritual for Saturday, October 27 at the Market Park Pavilion. Her intent is to unite Pagans, as well as to educate non-Pagans, by allowing the community to observe the ritual to honor the ancestors. Wilson was trained by former Archdruid, Father David Springer, and shared to the event’s Facebook page a post explaining the doctrine of The Way that the Wayist order follows.
In part, the page says:“The Wayist lifestyle, that we chose as our way of life, helps bring us into our future, and for some of us, a truly new way of life that includes, Doing the Right Thing, Fallowing Virtues, and keeping our Word, no matter how hard that might be, as well as understand the Truth.”Soon after the event was publicized, Wilson began receiving threats of physical violence. On Tuesday, October 23, a group calling itself McMinn County Christians released on Facebook an announcement of plans to protest on the Athens courthouse steps.
The press release was shared on the Wayist Druid Order Facebook event page:
Special Press Release to WJSQ WLAR from a group called McMinn County Christians
WE ARE CALLING UPON CHRISTIANS FOR SUPPORT
Dear Fellow Believers in Christ:
This notice concerns the event that is scheduled this Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 3-6 PM at the Athens Market Square Pavilion.
Apparently, there is a group calling themselves, “The Wayist Druidic Order,” who will be hosting a Samhain Ritual in our downtown park.
We, as Christ’s ambassadors will be gathering on that same day at 2:30 PM on the Courthouse steps. We ask that you come prepared to join together in peaceful unity and prayer in the Name of our Lord.
This is a spiritual battle, and we therefore, need to pray fervently and passionately in the name of Jesus. As believers, we must stand together in unity and pray for protection and for our God, the One and Only God to drive out any and all evil influences that attempt to perpetrate our community, our families and our children.
So, please join us this Saturday, October 27th at 2:30 PM on our Courthouse steps. There is great and awesome power that is unleashed in the heavenlies [sic] when the Mighty Name of Jesus is proclaimed! Hallelujah!
In other posts made in various local community groups and even to the 700 Club page, accusations were being shared that speculated that the Druids were planning to release demons and evil spirits into the town of Athens.
Several posts, which have since been deleted, threatened violence to Wilson if she did not cancel the ritual. Wilson said in a statement to Channel 6, WATE in Knoxville: “We’re not evil. We’re not opening up a portal to hell because I know a lot of people were saying that was what my goal was was, was to open up a portal to hell and have demonic spirits take over Athens. That’s furthest from the truth.”
Wilson applied for a permit for the event and provided the insurance required in order for the event to be approved by the city. Athens city manager Seth Sumner said in an interview with ABC affiliate, WTVC, News Channel 9, “We honor the U.S. constitution and celebrate the rights of all people.”
While the city supports Wilson and the Wayists right to hold their event, Sumner went on to say, “It’s going to cost the city a tremendous amount if hundreds or even thousands, as I’ve been told, show up.” At the time of publication, the event page shows 52 people plan to attend and another 150 are interested in the event.
WTVC also reported Wilson’s group as being religious and political, but nowhere in the event’s description is politics mentioned. When The Wild Hunt asked Wilson about why it was listed as political, she said, “I have no idea why… it’s a religious event.”
A number of people have posted on the Wayist event page in support of the event, and Wilson said she has received so many messages from people who either plan to attend or just wanted her to know they support her. She said that she has been kept busing trying to respond to all of them.
Some of the support Wilson has been receiving is coming from unexpected places and people. Scott Bridwell, who identifies as a Christian wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Post-Athenian strongly criticizing local Christians for their actions against the Druidic order.
Texas-based Druid and blogger John Beckett had this to say about the ritual, “I grew up in Southeast Tennessee, about 40 miles from Athens. It’s a small rural town, but still, it’s disappointing that such fear and ignorance still exists in the United States in 2018. I’m glad to see the local government is fulfilling their responsibility to make public facilities open to people of all religions. I’m only casually familiar with the Wayist Druid Order, but anyone who holds a public Druid ritual in a small town in Tennessee has my respect.”
We will continue to follow this story and report on any additional news associated with the event.