MONTREAL – The Black Flame International Esoteric Conference was canceled last week after concerns were raised by Sarah Anne Lawless regarding the affiliations of at least one of the other presenters to white supremacy.
Lawless brought forth concerns regarding presenters Craig Williams and his associate, Chris Undirheimr, to Gabriel McCaughry, the event organizer and founder of Anathema Publishing, Ltd. After Lawless said she did not receive satisfactory answers from McCaughry, she announced publicly on her Facebook page that she was withdrawing from the event.
TWH reached out to Lawless for additional comment and she directed us to her public statements.
Black Flame posted to their event page that Lawless had withdrawn from the conference and stating their opposition to “every form of racism and racism or fascism”.
One day later, Jason Miller announced he too was withdrawing from presenting at the Black Flame conference. Within a few days, the organizers posted a statement to the event website announcing the cancellation of the conference.
Both Williams and Undirheimr are listed under Anathema’s author and artists on their website, as well as being contributors to “PILLARS: The Scalding of Sapientia” which includes writing from Paul Waggener. Waggener along with his brother, Matthias Waggener founded the Wolves of Vinland which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a neo-Völkisch, extremist group.
Waggener is also the founder of Operation Werewolf, and Bane Folk circulated photos of both Williams and Undirheimr demonstrating affiliations to Operation Werewolf.
The Facebook page for Black Flame Montreal has been deleted along with all posts and events.
Lawless announced on September 27, that she had organized an All Hallows pop-up market for October 12, the Saturday of the canceled event. The pop-up market will be held at Lvnea’s Perfume in Montreal with free admission to vendors and workshops.
* * *
BEL AIR, Md. – Free Spirit Alliance (FSA) the non-profit organization that produces Free Spirit Gathering (FSG) in Maryland is the process of re-organizing.
In a letter sent out in July to supporting members of FSA, they announced that they were in the process addressing organizational and fiduciary issues and were attempting to raise funds to produce FSG 2020 with an expanded curriculum and more “A” list Pagan presenters.
The new executive team outlined a detailed plan they referred to as the “Seven Pillars” with each “pillar” representing a category: (1) The Contract with Ramblewood, (2) The Competitiveness of the Festival price structure, (3) Programming and Presenters, (4) Membership financing of the Festival, (5) Organizational and Operative restructuring, (6) The Website, and (7) Marketing.
The board sent out a new email to its supporting members last week detailing its current progress and success in both re-organization and fundraising, while also addressing some of the very serious issues the organization is facing. The detailed plan the executive team has created seems to be working, though it is obvious from the email that some members are resistant to change and reflect some of the internal struggles the organization is trying to resolve.
FSG is one of the longest-running Pagan festivals in the U.S. It has been in operation since 1985. The current Free Spirit Alliance president is Joel Meredith, and Craig Setti, is serving as vice president. TWH will continue to follow this story and report any new developments.
In other news:
- The “witch marks” found earlier this year in a cave at Creswell Crags in the U.K. that we reported on earlier this year, has received a “special judges’ award in the Regional Heritage Awards for ‘taking an enterprising approach to the discovery of the witch marks.’”
- The Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA) last week named Dana O’Driscoll as its new Grand Archdruid. O’Driscoll joined the AODA in 2007, and in 2013 earned the degree of Druid Adept. In 2014 she joined the Grand Grove, as Grand Pendragon and became an Archdruid of Water in 2015. O’Driscoll also served for four years as Chief Editor of Trilithon: The Journal of the Ancient Order of Druids in America. She also is a Druid-grade member in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD), and was selected as the 18th Mount Haemus Scholar by OBOD for her work, “Channeling the Awen Within: An Exploration of Learning the Bardic Arts in the Modern Druid Tradition.“
- The Outline an online media outlet has published an article about the Pagan Credit Union that TWH first covered back in April. The article goes into considerable detail on explaining the Pagan community and why it would benefit from its own banking option. While the majority of the information would not be news to the majority of TWH readers, it was interesting to see a more mainstream-focused publication show interest and to publish a well-written and knowledgeable article that relates to the Pagan community.
- A “golden” sarcophagus or coffin that has been in the care of the New York Metropolitan Museum will soon be returned to Egypt. The coffin belonged to Nedjemankh, who was a high-ranking priest of the ram-headed god Heryshef of Herakleopolis. It was stolen sometime during the Arab Spring uprising in 2010 that affected many of the countries across Northern Africa and the Middle East. It was smuggled out of Egypt in 2011 and later sold to the museum in New York in July of 2017. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office once it was made aware of the theft, executed a search warrant on the museum in February and took possession of the artifact. The coffin is valued monetarily at around $4 million.
- An article on the website Big Think published an article that seriously examines the prevalence of neo-Pagan practices and beliefs titled: “Could neo-paganism be the new ‘religion’ of America?” Possibly a tantalizing thought for some who have been in the Pagan Community for decades. The article explores factors like the decline of many organized mainstream religions and the rise of feminism as possible causes.
- Circle Sanctuary will be celebrating its 45th anniversary this October. They have just released the dates and activities for their celebration and annual Samhain ritual. The three-day event is titled, “Ancestors Calling” and will feature a variety of programming related to the season, as well as a labyrinth, and a funeral for long-time community member Robin “Beket” Arnhold. The event runs October 25-27 at Circle Sanctuary near Barneveld, Wis.
Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte
Deck: The Wonderland Tarot by Chris and Morgan Abbey, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
The potential this week for situations that will require a number of skills like attention to detail, tenacity, and exercising a strong will is high. The alternative of succumbing to temptation or losing focus could result in the loss of long-sought goals and even breed indifference to the plight of others.
Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.