Pagan Community Notes: Week of January 2, 2023

The 2023 Sigil for the Year – Courtesy of L.T. Zakroff

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island – Laura Tempest Zakroff followed her annual tradition of creating one of her signature sigils for 2023. She creates the sigil each year by incorporating symbols that reflect the suggestions of keywords from her Patreon supporters and then livestreams the process. Anyone who is a paid subscriber to her Patreon page can view the video.

Zakroff states that anyone is “welcome to use this sigil however you see fit that is in alignment with the intent of the sigil.”

She offers some of the many ways the sigil can be used: carving it into a candle, inscribing it on a journal, notebook, or calendar, placing it on an altar, wearing it on the body, or placing it anywhere that is connected to the areas where change is desired. She also notes it can be used in meditation as a focus – “either mentally or walk/dance/draw it with your body as a moving meditation.”

The 2023 Sigil for the Year – Courtesy of L.T. Zakroff

The only thing Zakroff requests for those that wish to share her work is that they link to her blog that explains the process, purpose, and use of this sigil and any others she created.

♥              ♥              ♥

TWH – announced that they had selected “woman” as their word of the year for 2022. They stated, “It’s one of the oldest words in the English language. One that’s fundamental not just to our vocabulary but to who we are as humans. And yet it’s a word that continues to be a source of intense personal importance and societal debate. It’s a word that’s inseparable from the story of 2022.”

The site went on to explain why they chose “woman” for 2022:

“This year, searches for the word woman on spiked significantly multiple times in relation to separate high-profile events, including the moment when a question about the very definition of the word was posed on the national stage.

“Our selection of woman as our 2022 Word of the Year reflects how the intersection of gender, identity, and language dominates the current cultural conversation and shapes much of our work as a dictionary.

“During the height of the lookups for woman on in 2022, searches for the word increased more than 1,400% (a massive leap for such a common word). Subsequent spikes eventually resulted in double the typical annual search volume for the word.”

Searches for the word saw huge spikes in late March and early April during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson when she was asked by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to define the word “woman.” Another surge in searches for the word in May after the leaked draft opinion of the Supreme Court on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and then again in June when the Supreme Court ruled against Dobbs and went even further rolling back Roe v. Wade and the protections for women’s reproductive health and abortion.

The trend continued as the U.S. moved closer to the mid-term elections, where concerns over women’s health and reproductive rights proved a winning topic for those candidates who pledged to fight to uphold and protect those rights.

An example of this was in Michigan, where the top five out of seven positions in the state’s government saw women elected – governor Gretchen Whitmer, attorney general Dana Nessel, secretary of state Jocelyn Benson, Senate majority leader Winnie Brinks, and Supreme Court chief justice Elizabeth T. Clement. While the other two positions, Lieutenant Governor and House Speaker are both held by Black men, respectively, Garlin Gilchrist and Abraham Aiyash. In fact, a historic number of women were elected to governorships–12–the most ever to be voted in to serve their states’ highest role. also noted that it was not just the word “woman” itself that was searched but also the definition, “The prominence of the question and the attention it received demonstrate how issues of transgender identity and rights are now frequently at the forefront of our national discourse. More than ever, we are all faced with questions about who gets to identify as a woman (or a man, or neither). The policies that these questions inform transcend the importance of any dictionary definition—they directly impact people’s lives.”

Other world events that revolved around women in 2022 were: the death of 22-year-old Iranian Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s Morality Police; the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in U.K. history, and the triumph of the U.S. Women’s soccer team winning their battle for equal pay; the detainment of Brittney Griner by Russian authorities; and the retirement of Serena Williams, just to name a few.

Women figured prominently in world news and politics in 2022. It could be the beginning of a wider trend. Only time will tell.


    • The 5th International Conference on Arts and Humanities Women in religion: from spiritual leadership to female empowerment, organized by the International Centre for Studies of Arts and Humanities (ICSAH) and the Dante Alighieri Society of Nicosia in cooperation with the Università degli Studi di Milano and the Pontificia Università Salesiana has issued a call for papers: “This year, we invite proposals that explore the female share in leadership roles related to religion (saints, prophetesses, priestesses, nuns, preachers, witches, shamans and more), and emphasize how their achievements are reflected in history and art. How prominent female figures have compromised men’s secured positions of power in socio-religious structures? What was their role in shaping gender-responsive societies? We encourage also papers that examine through a gender lens the impact of religion on civic life by analyzing the deeds of women of faith from a political perspective, or deal with cases of political power over religion, in cases of women who achieved to change traditional religious concepts, practices, customs or symbols. We welcome papers that deal with all religious systems from ancient to present times.” The deadline for submissions is March 30th, 2023. The conference will take place on May 8 – 9, 2023 in Milan, Italy.

    • Mystic South Conference has issued a “Call For Papers for 2023.” The annual event is held in Atlanta, Georgia, and will take place on July 14-16, 2023. Mystic South is a polytheistic conference and the call is for papers of a polytheistic spiritual nature. Blocks of the allotted time for those submissions that are accepted will be one hour. Presenters receive free access to the entire conference in exchange for their presentation of their paper. Papers may be either written and read or read and audio/visual in format. Those interested can submit a 400 +/- word abstract via the event’s website, deadline for submitting abstracts is February 28, 2023. The event states, “This is a perfect place for those that are not used to presenting academic papers; such as students, junior faculty, or those that are looking for tenure or promotion credits.” Questions pertaining to papers may be emailed to the Papers Coordinator, Gypsey Elaine Teague.

    Upcoming Events:

    • On Thursday, January 5 at 7:00 pm (CST) Circle Sanctuary will host Befana Night Full Moon Circle. The event will be livestreamed on the Circle Sanctuary YouTube Channel. Full moon celebrations offered by Circle feature “invocations, music, meditation, poetry, reflections, and ritual workings on or near the night of the Full Moon.”

    • On Saturday, January 7, at 2:00 EDT, Cherry Hill Seminary executive director, Holli Emore, will talk about her recent trip to Egypt and her experiences as “an American Kemetic traveling in a Muslim country, the temples, tombs, wildlife, gardens, poverty, riches, beauty both lush and austere, the environmental danger to all Egyptian monuments, and everywhere the warmth and kindness of the people.” Emore’s talk, “Nile Pilgrimage” will be via Zoom, and pre-registration is required.

    • As part of the Cherry Hill Seminary continuing lecture series, “Coming to the Center” will host noted English historian, Professor Ronald Hutton, on Saturday, January 28, at 3:00 pm EDT. Hutton has published over a dozen books and numerous articles, relating to contemporary Paganism, British folklore, and pre-Christian religions, as well as being featured on a variety of British television and radio programs. The event is free but requires pre-registration.

In other news:

        • One of the iconic props from the movie Wizard of Oz, the hourglass filled with red sand and held within a stand by what appeared to be carved dragons was recently sold at auction for a mere $495,000 by Heritage Auctions. The name of the buyer has not yet been released.

        • 300 Neolithic tombs estimated to be around 4,500 years old have been discovered at the site of Suyang, which is located in central China. Some of the tombs showed evidence of looting and are reported to be heavily damaged. So far only nine of the tombs have been excavated, and the remains of ten people have been discovered.

      • A new discovery of two tombs, comprised of two chambers and containing roughly 60 mummies and remains in the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor was made by a 22-member team of Spanish Egyptologists and eight Egyptian experts. The tombs have been dated to after Vizier Amenhotep-Huy’s tomb and the 18th dynasty. “They began to build other tombs from different dynasties within the vizier’s tomb since the place was sacred. It is a very rich site and we are discovering many things,” Francisco J. Martin, the president of the Vizier Amenhotep Huy Project said. The two secondary tombs are connected by two burial chambers. And according to Martin, they exhibit a lack of epigraphs that were found in Vizier Amenhotep Huy’s tomb, which is a chapel that contains 30 columns with epigraphs.  He also noted the site is a rich example of the architectural style and “evidence that the vizier’s tomb at some point became a necropolis.”

      Crossings of the Veil

      Dick Sells – 1939 – 2022

      Dick Sells, High Priest of the Unicorn Grove of Chattanooga, Tennessee crossed the veil on December 22 according to a press release sent by The Society Of The Astral Star, Inc. on behalf of The Order of The Star of Bethlehem. The Society of the Astral Star defines itself as “an organization of High Ritual & Ceremonial Christian Magickians (as well as ChristoPagans, Christian Wiccans, & Christian Witches) that maintains a theological basis in Esoteric Christian Mysticism (within the Western Mystery Tradition).” Sells served as The Order’s 10th Adept/Vizier, aka VHFr. Manawydden, h.c., OAB.

      Sells served as the first 1st Vice President of The Church of All Worlds after its legal formation in the 1960s, and was also listed as serving on the advisory board of The Alliance for Magical and Earth Religions (AMER) which was in operation from 1986 until 1998 when it was disbanded.

      No memorial services are planned at this time and the family has requested that all hold their own memorials in remembrance and celebration of his long life.

      *             *             *

      James R. Lewis – 1949 – 2022

      Jim Lewis was a noted religious scholar and expert on New Religious Movements and alternative religions having received his MA in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and his Ph.D. in the Study of Religions from the University of Wales, Lampeter.

      Lewis had experienced a fall that resulted in a serious head injury that he was ultimately unable to recover from and died on October 11, 2022.

      Lewis was prolific in the number of articles he wrote, and edited dozens of reference books, though Pagans may be most familiar with Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft (1996 – SUNY Press).

      In 1992, he formed an academic association called AWARE, with the primary goal “to promote intellectual and religious freedom by educating the general public about existing religions and cultures, including, but not limited to, alternative religious groups.” The mission of AWARE was to educate scholars and the general public about the persecution of religious and cultural minorities in the United States and abroad and to assist the United States in its efforts to counter prejudice. Lewis was also a co-founder of the International Society for the Study of New Religions, and editor-in-chief of the Alternative Spirituality & Religion Review (ASSR).

      Lewis began his teaching career at the University of Wisconsin, and then was an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tromsø in Norway, was an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Wales, Lampeter, and his last position was with Wuhan University in China.

      Lewis is survived by his wife of 30 years, Evelyn, and their three daughters.

      What is remembered, Lives!

      Positively Noteworthy

      The natural world figures prominently in a variety of Pagan practices. While an increasing number of animal and plant species are becoming threatened or even endangered with development continuing to encroach on wild spaces, there yet exist places where wildlife thrives.

      Western North Carolina boasts a number of wild spaces and is home to an abundance of wildlife that has proven itself to be nothing if not adaptable in finding ways to co-exist with human developments.

      Wildlife cameras set up on just an acre of land in Henderson County capture an array of animals that inhabit the forest surrounding development of over 300 homes.

      Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

      Deck: Tarot of the New Vision, by Pietro Alligo, artwork by Raul and Gianluca Cestaro, published by Lo Scarabeo.

      Card: Six (6) of Wands

      This week is liable to hold acknowledgment of achieving a significant milestone and offer opportunities for support to continue to further goals and projects. It can also be a reminder to not only acknowledge but to embrace one’s own successes.

      Conversely, allowing the ego to dominate in ways that are arrogant or pretentious could obstruct the path forward undermining future success and progress, as well as precipitating a fall from grace.

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