Pagan Community Notes: Paganicon shifts 2021 to virtual, e-book piracy, Athens Agora re-lit, and more news

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MINNEAPOLIS – The non-profit, Twin Cities Pagan Pride announced the details last week for the event it sponsors, Paganicon Conference 2021, moving to an online event. The in-person event was originally scheduled for March 18 – 20, 2021.

Due to current pandemic size restrictions on events, and uncertainty as to what those restrictions might look like in March, the organizers opted to shift to an online format that will span one day on Saturday, March 20, 2021.

In a post on Facebook to the TC Pagan Pride & Paganicon page, the organizers explained that in addition to the one-day event, there will also be “opportunities to attend live and recorded workshops, panel discussions, vendors, music, social time, and more spread over the month of March.”

They noted that anyone who had already registered to attend in 2021 would automatically have their registration rolled over to 2022, and would also receive access to the online 2021 event at no cost. Those wishing a refund were requested to contact the organization via email.

According to the Facebook post, tickets for the online event go on sale on January 10, 2021, and the schedule of events and programming will be forthcoming.

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TWH – Over the weekend it was reported that an Etsy store was selling unauthorized PDF downloads of a variety of Pagan titles from well-known authors like Scott Cunningham, Christopher Penzcak, Ray Buckland, and Judika Illes, as well as many others in its list of almost 300 titles.

On Sunday, author and Paranormal State Tv show contributor, Michelle Belanger tweeted:

Digital piracy when it comes to e-books is estimated to cost the publishing industry at least $300 million annually in lost sales. With books on Witchcraft and Paganism becoming increasingly popular, it is no real surprise that publishers that specialize in books on those subjects are seeing their books pirated.

On July 7, 2020, a number of popular mainstream authors like Sylvia Day, John Grisham, C.J. Lyons, and R.L. Stine, joined with Amazon Content Services, LLC, and Penguin Random House, LLC in a lawsuit against the KISS library which had previously been identified as an online pirate site that illegally sold books both in digital and printed form.

In that case, on August 28, federal judge, Marsha J. Pechman for the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington in Seattle issued a preliminary injunction against the operators of the KISS Library and multiple sites they operated after the defendants failed to respond to the July 7 lawsuit and failure to appear at hearing on August 25.

The injunction effectively shut down the operation of all of their affiliated sites, sought to block not only the defendants but also any of their service provider which included payment processors, banks, ISPs, back-end service providers, and search engine or ad-word providers, from collaborating to distribute the plaintiff’s copyrighted works in the future.

Even so, Judge Pechman acknowledged the difficulty of holding accountable perpetrators of online piracy operations, especially when they are operating overseas. She also noted in her 10-page order that the defendants in the case “have gone to great lengths to conceal their identities, locations, and proceeds from Plaintiffs’ and this Court’s detection, including using multiple false identities and addresses associated with their operations and purposely-deceptive contact information.”

The court order also called for expedited discovery, freezing all assets connected to the companies involved.  Unfortunately, operations like the KISS library will just set up shop under another name and in another country.

The Etsy store selling pirated Pagan books was named White Owl Books Parlor, and the page was removed, presumably by Etsy, shortly after it was brought to the attention of TWH.

TWH will have full coverage later this week on how these sites impact authors and publishers within the Pagan community, and what readers can do to help support legitimate businesses that offer books in digital and printed form, as well as how collectively the community can help deter the prevalence of digital pirates.

In other news:

  • The Conference on Current Pagan Studies, an official event of the Women’s Studies in Religion program at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California posted a reminder to their Facebook group that the conference will be virtual this year and has room for a few more papers to be presented. The conference runs January 16-17, 2021, and promotes itself as creating a bridge between academia and the Pagan and other spiritual communities, offering an array of diverse presenters on topics of interest to the Pagan and Pagan-adjacent community.
  • Appearances and disappearances of mysterious objects seem to be the focus of winter 2020. First, it was the monoliths that appeared in a Utah state park in late November only to disappear a few days after it was sighted. Two weeks later a similar monolith cropped up in a Romanian forest. Another appeared shortly after that on the Isle of Wright off the coast of southern England, and yet another appeared back in the U.S. in California. The latest monolith appearance was of a decidedly holiday persuasion, being made of gingerbread and installed on a hill in San Francisco’s Corona Heights Park. City parks manager Phil Ginsburg was quoted as saying, “We will leave it up until the cookie crumbles.” Sadly, it only lasted a day before high winds swept it from the hill. The other notable appearance and disappearance was that of a large pentacle in a secluded spot on Dunsapie hill in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s appearance and subsequent disappearance is perhaps less mysterious considering it was found just two days after the Winter Solstice, and likely drawn using an organic substance that would be washed away by rain and wind. Perhaps more notable is the alarm it caused the dog walker who discovered it.
  • New research released last week documented the find of the most complete mummified wolf puppy ever to be found. The mummified female wolf pup is 57,000 years old and was discovered in thawing permafrost near Dawson City, Yukon, in Canada. The wolf mummy was named Zhùr by researchers which means “wolf” in the Hän language of the local Yukon First Nation community, was discovered in 2016 by a gold miner. The remains are so well preserved that they include the papillae or small bumps found on canine lips, skin, and fur. The find demonstrates that large mammals existed in the Alaskan Yukon, even if they are less common than those found in Siberian. Researchers said that while the genetics of the mummified wolf shows connections to the wolves of both Alaska and Eurasia, the current wolves of the Yukon in Alaska are not related. Earlier ancestors of the gray wolves were wiped out and replaced with different populations. Paleontologists believe that Zhùr was killed when her den collapsed, perfectly preserving her body in the permafrost. They estimate she was between 6- to be 7-weeks old.
  • A new project in Athens that has been completed features new lights installed that offer a nine-point perspective for the temple of Hephaestus in the Ancient Agora of Athens, as well as a five-point perspective of the monument of Philopappos. The new high-color LED lights were illuminated for the first time on the evening of December 22, and are similar to the ones previously installed at the Acropolis monuments. In addition to the aesthetics, the structures also received new wiring, and a system that automates the lighting is more energy-efficient and designed to reduce light pollution. Eleftheria Deko designed the new lighting system for the landmark historical sites, and the project was funded and implemented by the Onassis Foundation, in collaboration with Services of the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: After Tarot by Pietro Alligo, artwork by GiuliaF. Massaglia, published by Lo Scarabeo.

Card: Seven (7) Cups

This week calls for a careful examination of possible choices before rendering a decision. The potential is high to accept what appears to be a wonderful deal but comes with unwanted strings attached, or to make a selection that has hidden costs or danger. Conversely, awareness and scrutiny can prevent unwanted or undesirable consequences.

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.