Pagan Community Notes: PSG 2020 canceled, leadership change within Sacred Well, indigenous shaman and actor Antonio Bolivar crosses Veil, and more!

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BARNEVELD, Wis. – Last Thursday, Circle Sanctuary announced the cancellation of Pagan Spirit Gathering 2020.

Their cancellation comes on the heels of several other major events either postponing or canceling.

From the Circle Sanctuary press release:

The Pagan Spirit Gathering has meant friendship, communion, magick, music, and the creation of a Pagan Community for thirty-nine summers. PSG feeds the soul and spirits of those who attend. But when the PSG Executive Committee met last week, we agreed that we could not — given the Covid-19 pandemic — bring a large group of people together for Summer Solstice week this June as we have done in the past.  Just to write these words, our hearts are heavy with the loss of an in-person PSG this year, the continued ravages of this disease, the loss of lives and livelihood for all citizens of Planet Earth.

The cancellation of PSG 2020 also has a profound effect on Circle Sanctuary beyond the loss of this incredible annual community event. The Pagan Spirit Gathering is Circle Sanctuary’s largest source of income…nearly half of what it takes to support Circle’s services…from gatherings, rituals, and workshops, to the cemetery, to counseling, networking and religious freedom work, to the upkeep of sacred land and buildings.

Many of you have already registered for PSG 2020, and we offer you the following options related to your registration:

First, you can carry over your registration to next year’s Pagan Spirit Gathering, June 20-27, 2021.

Second, knowing that this is Circle’s largest income source, you can donate your registration or part of it to Circle Sanctuary to help support Circle’s on-going work.

Third, you can ask for a complete refund of your PSG registration fee.

Circle Sanctuary also has several virtual Town Hall meetings planned to help members and attendees process their emotions connected to the cancellation, as well as contribute their ideas for the celebration of Summer Solstice. Anyone interested in participating in the Town Hall meetings can register via the Circle Sanctuary website.

 

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BUTLER, Mo. – Sacred Well Congregation announced a planned change in leadership last month. Executive Director, the Reverend Doctor David L. Oringerff, Ph.D. stepped down on Beltane and is succeeded by Vice Executive Director, the Reverend Ronald W. Schaefer, Lt.Col. USAF (Ret).

From their press release, in part:

Rev. Ron Schaefer assumes Directorship of Sacred Well Congregation after serving as an Officer in many leadership positions of the Congregation for over twenty (20) years and as Vice Executive for the last ten (10) years.

What follows are statements from both the Director Emeritus and the new Executive Director, celebrating this leadership transition.

From the Director Emeritus: To the Members, Officers, family and friends of the Sacred Well Congregation. It has been my honor and privilege to serve this Congregation for almost three decades. It is time now to turn the page and begin a new chapter. It is my great pleasure to announce that as of May 1, 2020 The Reverend Ronald Schaefer assumed the helm as Executive Director of the Sacred Well Congregation International. Reverend Schaefer has been with the Congregation for over 20 years and has served as Vice-Executive Director for the last ten. Reverend Schaefer and his Staff will lead this Congregation forward and enable Her to serve our greater community of faith as no other organization has ever done before.

Rev. David L. Oringderff, Director Emeritus, Sacred Well Congregation International

From the Executive Director: To all those associated with Sacred Well Congregation International, I am delighted to help move the organization forward over the next couple of years. I salute the hard work of Dr. Oringderff and his staff over the past several decades from the founding efforts that have endured to create the success we enjoy today. I’ve been with SWCI for 20+ years and watched it grow and change. I’ll be honest, when I was first approached to take over as Executive Director, I was not too sure I had the time nor interest to undertake the task. What changed my mind? Researching the scope and nature of the position I would be assuming, I discovered SWCI recently installed a diverse new Board of Directors consisting of young, talented, well-educated and motivated people. Meeting and speaking with these folks motivated me to change my mind. In my opinion, our organization has needed this demographic for some time now. I’m stoked and I’m in. I look forward to empowering and encouraging these fine young members to refine our vision and purpose and drive that vision forward through modern and updated service International Executive Council of Clerics (IEC) Willow and Taniquetil Hera and Arghuicha Astralaya Butler, Missouri Hulst, Netherlands Floresville, Texas Yuuki Herdersem, Belgium techniques. I will take my finest bottle of wine off the shelf at next full Moon and offer to the Deities for bringing us the gift of this great new group. Let’s do this! Aman Nai!

Rev. Ronald W. Schaefer, Executive Director, Sacred Well Congregation International

About the new Executive Director: A graduate of Texas A&M University and Arizona State, Ron received his Master’s in Aviation Technology and his Bachelor’s in Geography. He retired from the US Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel, after serving 26 years as a fighter pilot and instructor pilot, and currently runs a small business from home. Ron is an active outdoorsman, artist and musician and occasional writer. Among his works is illustrating the Greencraft Tarot’s Major Arcana, managing the art for the other cards, and helping edit the book.

Rev. Schaefer currently serves on the Cherry Hill Seminary Board of Directors in addition to his duties with the Sacred Well Board of Deacons.

Sacred Well Congregation International, established in 1994 describe themselves as  “a Universalist, independent, non-evangelical nature-centered Church.” The organization provides a variety of spiritual support that spans everything from providing public spaces for the practice of diverse “Old Religions” to spiritual counseling and religious education community building. They also provide support to military communities, and service members and their families.

Additionally, “Sacred Well sponsors hospital Chaplains, military Distinctive Religious Groups, and is a recognized Ecclesiastical Endorsing Organization with the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

In other news:

  • A comic book series is a collaboration between actor Dylan Sprouse and DIGA studios and Heavy Metal Magazine and based on a story Sprouse wrote and developed over the past four years. According to a press release by Heavy Metal: The comic series is “A deeply personal tale, drawn from his [Sprouse’s] profound Viking enthusiasm and Norse Pagan affinity, Sprouse creates an intriguing saga…” Sprouse is quoted as saying, I have always been a huge gaming and comic book fan, and this project has provided me with such a creative outlet that has developed into a true passion. The story is close to my heart, inspired by my past experiences and the bedtime sagas my Scandinavian American grandmother used to read me.” Sprouse will serve as executive director on the project.
  • Environmentalists, researchers, and scientists are becoming increasingly concerned over calls to eliminate bats, and in some cases even attempts at mass killings of bats in several Indian states, like Rajasthan and Karnataka. Fear of the bats is due to a belief that they are responsible for the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While research indicates that some species of bats can be repositories for a number of viruses, it is unclear whether they are responsible for direct transmission to humans. The larger problem is one of humans continuing to encroach on and destroy the natural habitats of a variety of wild animals that can carry coronaviruses and other diseases.
  • The Witch’s Mark cave at Creswell Crags can now be visited “virtually.” Jeremy Lee, a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University created the video footage using 3D scans taken of the cave. The limestone caves at Creswell Crags contain more than just the “witch marks.” It also offers some of the most extensive evidence of Neanderthals with the United Kingdom, Ice Age rock art, even the remains of woolly mammoths, and hyenas. Creswell Crags plans to offer more virtual content since they are currently closed because of the pandemic. Normally, they see around 60,000 visitors each year, which funds the maintenance of the site, museum, and bookstore. They have a fundraising campaign running to help them stay solvent during the shutdown.
  • Law enforcement in the U.K. is concerned that the country will see a spike in “witchcraft” and possession allegations that lead to abuse within the immigrant populations due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. A new report released by the Institute for Fiscal Studies notes that the level of inequality among minority ethnic groups is much greater and the disease COVID-19 is having a larger impact on those communities. Fears over health and the financial impact of a pandemic can fuel accusations of “witchcraft” in some communities. Last year, the U.K. noted a marked rise in child abuse cases that were tied to such beliefs.

Crossings of the Veil

Antonio Bolivar in ‘El abrazo de la serpiente’ – Image credit: Peccadillo Pictures

Antonio Bolivar, a member of the Huitoto indigenous peoples died last week at the age of 75 from COVID-19. The Huitoto live in the Amazonian region of southeastern Columbia and northern Peru.

Bolivar is best known for his role as the shaman “Karamakate” is the film, El Abrazo de la Serpiente (The Embrace of the Serpent) which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2015 for Best Foreign Language Film. His role in the film helped bring attention to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, and their fight to preserve their culture, way of life, and environment.

In addition to acting, Bolivar was an adept translator of indigenous languages, particularly those of the people who live in the Orinoco and Amazon regions and speak Cubeo and Tikuna.

Bolivar was also cast in the Netflix series, Frontera Verde (Green Frontier) as the character, Wilson Nai, and appeared in four episodes.

What is remembered, lives.

Haux Haux!

 

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: TV Series Tarot by Gero Giglio, artwork by Davide Corsi, published by Lo Scarabeo.

Card:  The Wheel, Major arcana (X)

This week may offer opportunities for success against all odds. Paying attention is critical for anyone who is looking to triumph over circumstances. Expect the unexpected–whether it is an unforecasted weather storm, financial windfall/loss, or a chance to accomplish something believed to be beyond obtaining.

 

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.