Pagan Community Notes: Week of September 6, 2022

McLOUTH, Kan. – Last month The Kansas City Star reported that Gaea Retreat Center had changed its policy regarding who is allowed on the property. The policy change resulted after a volunteer, 43-year-old Blair Marshall, entered the property to drop off food for the memorial service for caretaker Rhi Koetting.

Marshall was arrested and charged in May with second-degree attempted on sodomy charges that involved a minor.  He was arrested as a result of a joint sting operation conducted by Independence, Missouri law enforcement, and the Department of Homeland Security. Marshall is awaiting trial.

Marshall is also married to former board member, Erin Marshall, who resigned shortly after the incident at the camp.

Prior to the incident connected to the memorial service, Gaea’s policy did not extend to those who had been charged with a sexual offense, only those who had been convicted.

Gaea Retreat Center issued a statement shortly after the incident on their Facebook page that outlined what had occurred and the shift in policy, as well as an apology:

It is the goal of the Board of Directors to serve both the land, and the community of Gaea, to the best of our abilities. As volunteers, there are certainly moments when our available time, energy, attention, funds, or expertise may fall short. Regrettably, just such an oversight occurred recently, and has caused a great deal of concern within the Gaea community.
On the morning of August 6th, the entire Board was deeply involved in preparations, and the memorial services for our late caretaker Rhi Koetting. One of the things that Rhi wanted at her memorial was a fish fry. We weren’t able to make that happen, but we purchased the food already prepared and had a feast set up in the Pavilion for all who were in attendance. Among the many details we had to plan was how to get the food picked up and brought to camp. Unfortunately, none of us were able to do it. One person volunteered to provide transport. He did exactly that. He picked up the food, brought it to camp, dropped it off (under supervision), and left the premises.
That person is currently facing criminal charges. He has not been convicted, or even gone to trial. Some members of the Board of Directors were aware of this situation. Other members had not been made aware. At the time, there was no policy against a person with pending charges being on property. There was only the prohibition against registered sex offenders. The justice system in this country has always held that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
The members of the Board were grieving the loss of a loved one whom most had known for many years. A person who had been family to us. We were also extremely busy trying to make all of the arrangements for the day. Due to the stress involved in this, it did not occur to us that such a short task would be problematic.
In retrospect, the members of the Board agree that this situation could have and should have been handled better. That realization led to a new policy which was created the following morning. In addition to the long standing ban against registered sex offenders, now anyone with charges related to a sexual offense is prohibited until the resolution of those charges. This policy will enable us to remove those from the land that have charges against them. We see and are reviewing the suggestions from community members who have come to us on our email.
Over the years, there have been many changes made at Gaea, in an effort to provide a greater level of safety for the community. From things like the ban against sex offenders, to the development of a volunteer safety team, to the system of required online registration. Each of those changes have increased the level of safety on property. Of course there is always room for improvement. Hopefully this new policy will further aid in that effort.

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CHICAGO – The Parliament of the World’s Religions returns to its birthplace in 2023, marking 130 years of Parliament history. The conference runs from August 14 through August 18 and takes place at McCormick Place. The theme for 2023 is “A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom & Human Rights.”

In an open call for programming proposals, Phyllis Curott, Trustee and Program Chair, 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions said via email, “The Call for Programs for the 2023 Convening provides a unique opportunity for members of our community to highlight the richness and diversity of our participation in the global interfaith movement, in our unique communities, and at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.”

The deadline for programming proposals is October 3, 2022. Anyone submitting a proposal must also be registered for the convening. Registration for early bird registration runs through October 31, and advance registration from November 1, 2022, until March 31, 2023.

Each time the Parliament convenes it attracts participants from all over the world, representing over 200 different spiritual and religious paths from over 80 countries. A variety of Witches, Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists have attended and provided programming for the event in the past.

Trustee and program chair, Curott, is a Witch, priestess, and found of the Temple of Ara.

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September 10, 2022Twin Cities Pagan Pride Fall Festival will take place at the Minnehaha Falls Regional Park at 4801 S Minnehaha Drive in Minneapolis. The event runs from 10:00 to 6:00pm (CDT). Entry is free and the event is open to the public. Donations of food and/or cash are both welcome and encouraged and will go to support the Groveland Emergency Food Shelf. The festival will have 80 vendor and organization booths and offers a range of workshops, rituals, and entertainment. While the event does not have any featured speakers, Llewellyn Publications will be hosting authors Deborah Blake, Kelden, and Nancy Antenucci for book signings.

We’re still working on our roundup of Pagan Pride Day events. Send us the details so that we can be sure to include it!



  • The Raven’s Wing Magical Co. announced in a blog post yesterday that it is now a cooperative and completely employee-owned and operated. The Raven’s Wing Magical Co. operates two stores, one in Oakland, California, and one in Portland, Oregon. The first store in Oakland was founded by astrologer Barry Perlman 15 years ago. He opened the second store in Portland six years ago. Last week, he announced on his Facebook page that he had sold both stores the co-op of employees. Congratulations to the new owners of Raven’s Wing Magical Co.!


In other news:

    • The Association of Celtic Students of Ireland and Britain blog announced in a post late last month that they will be compiling and publishing a list of resources that are publicly accessible online. The most recent post characterizes the purpose as, “These lists will organize themselves by directing potentially interested parties towards the more popular topics, characters, or trans-textual narratives, as well as presenting some special recommendations by the authors of these posts to direct interested readers towards more obscure tales that have failed to penetrate the public consciousness.” The first in what is promised to be a series begins with the Ulster Cycle of medieval Irish literature.

    • Mary Peltola (D) became the first Yup’ik Alaska Native to serve in the U.S. Congress when she won the seat that was previously held by Rep. Don Young (R) who was the longest serving representative in congressional history, 1973 to 2022, when he died while in office. Peltola served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1999-2009. She is currently the executive director of the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission since 2017 and served as a judge on the Orutsararmiut Native Council’s tribal court 2020-2021.  While Peltola’s election win over Sarah Palin is only for the four months of the remaining term, she is now the incumbent for the seat in the November midterm election.

    • Images from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) are offering a view of the universe that simply was not possible prior to its launch earlier this year. JWST has transmitted stunning photos of the Phantom Galaxy, (M74),  which is roughly 32 million light-years away from planet Earth and in the constellation Pisces.  The Phantom Galaxy due to its structure and design is a favorite to study by astronomists who study galactic spirals. According to the JWST website, “Webb’s sharp vision has revealed delicate filaments of gas and dust in the grandiose spiral arms which wind outwards from the centre of this image. A lack of gas in the nuclear region also provides an unobscured view of the nuclear star cluster at the galaxy’s centre. M74 is a particular class of spiral galaxy known as a ‘grand design spiral’, meaning that its spiral arms are prominent and well-defined, unlike the patchy and ragged structure seen in some spiral galaxies.”

      The heart of M74, otherwise known as the Phantom Galaxy – Image credit: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, J. Lee, and the PHANGS-JWST Team. Acknowledgment: J. Schmidt

    Positively Noteworthy

    NABEUL, Tunisia – Veterinarian Raoudha Mansour turned her house into an animal shelter that is fostering 150 cats and 25 dogs. Some of the animals she provides a home for have disabilities. All of her current animal residents are vaccinated and have been spayed or neutered.

    September is Happy Cat Month as established by the CATalyst Council, “a non-profit entity, was created to connect three distinct groups: Veterinary Medicine, Shelter/Animal Welfare, and related Industry entities such as Foundations and Cat Fanciers, the Media, and commercial companies.”

    The goal of Happy Cat Month is to celebrate cats and shine a spotlight on the importance of their well-being, from their physical to their mental health.

    Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

    Deck: Soul Cats Tarot, by Leeza Robertson, and art by Adam Oehlers, published by Llewellyn Publications.

    Card: Three (3) of Pentacles

    The week ahead will likely highlight the need for teamwork and cooperation. No one person can do it all, and utilizing the skills and talents of like-minded individuals for any given project will often produce better results.

    Conversely, allowing personal bias to overshadow thinking and selecting people who are ill-suited for a given project can result in creating more work and stress rather than reducing it.

    Decks generously provided by Asheville Pagan Supply.

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