PITTSBURGH – Last week, it was reported that a career and college counselor employed at North Catholic High School was dismissed from her position after bringing in three women who own a magical supply store to talk to students about starting and running a successful business. The presentation occurred just prior to the December holiday break.
The three women identify as Wiccan, and at the conclusion of their presentation, offered students to select a gemstone for themselves if they wished. The Witches explained the properties of the stones offered–like fluorite, which they said was good for concentration and aids with studying.
According to a report by CBS, some of the students felt that being given or offered stones by the Witches was inappropriate and not in line with the school’s teachings. Students took their concerns and complaints to school administrators.
An employee of a religious high school being dismissed for bringing in members of another faith to speak to students might seem extreme, especially to those that support religious freedom.
When asked in an interview if she agreed with her dismissal from the school, the counselor, who identifies as Catholic said, “I don’t because one, there was an opportunity for me to grow and developt [sic] as a professional and as a Catholic. I think the term we look for here is pastoral care. There’s been no evidence of pastoral care for me or my family.”
The school also emailed parents and guardians of students an apology that included advice for them to return or dispose of the crystal their child had received, as well as instructions to cleanse their homes by reciting the prayer to the Archangel St. Michael. The prayer dates to the late-1800s and is used to ward off evil and to protect the church and its members.
Perhaps even more problematic is the way the story has been framed by a mainstream media outlet. Had the presentation been given by Baptists or members of the Jewish faith, it is unlikely that they would have been described as “self-proclaimed Baptists” or “self-proclaimed Jews.” Wicca is a federally recognized religion within the U.S., and as such should be accorded the same respect as other faiths, especially in journalism. It is also unclear if gifts from other faiths would have resulted in student complaints.
The framing of the story has also sparked online commentary on The Christian Post, which also covered the event. A number of comments reflect the persistent and incorrect misconceptions about the Wicca. Many comments wrongly equate Wicca with Satanism, and Witches and the practice of Witchcraft as being demonic.
For decades now, Pagans, Witches, and Wiccans have continually struggled to combat misconceptions and completely incorrect ideas concerning their religious beliefs and practices. With religious intolerance again on the rise, it is likely that more stories about Pagans and Witches may be framed in ways that do a disservice to our community as well as other faiths.
- The Society for Ritual Arts announced Coreopsis: Journal of Myth & Theatre has issued a Call for Papers for its 2023 Spring edition: Myths that Kill: Lies, Damn Lies and Urban Myths. The focus of the edition is described as, “Urban myth, internet rumors, social media memes, deliberate falsification of information in the media: these all have real-world impact. This issue will be devoted to how these myths spread and how they harm people, places, other living creatures, communities, and democracy itself.” Some topics offered by the Journal for consideration and submission are: “debunking and dismantling disinformation, the history and current use of ‘the blood lie,’ protests and counterprotests: how rumors become viral, and deliberate propaganda and how it is used” Categories for submission include: Papers for Peer Review; Art & Multimedia; Interviews; Reviews; Advertising; Announcements; and Letters to the Editor. Full guidelines for submissions can be found on the Coreopsis website, and submissions must be received by the last week of January. Coreopsis Journal is published twice annually, each Spring and Fall. The 2022 Fall Edition is titled, The Moon in a Sacred Tree: the Symbology of Tarot and Alchemy and is available online.
- A call for abstracts to be published in the Theology, Religion, and Popular Culture book series on the subjects of “Theology, Religion, and Dungeons & Dragons.” but not limited to, the topics below for a volume on the intersections of academic disciplines of theology, religious studies, and the creative world of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). The deadline for submissions is February 15.
- 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.
- The Journal of Academic Freedom is seeking original articles that investigate the links between landscapes of social power and the historical development and contemporary status of academic freedom for its 2023 issue. From The Journal, “We invite consideration of how academic freedom serves as a touchstone for democracy and the ways that the death of academic freedom signals the atrophy of more inclusive and democratized landscapes of power. What is the relationship between democratic societies and the flourishing of academia and academic freedom within them? What kind of society would powerful forces working against academia and academic freedom usher forth if they had their way?” The deadline for submissions is March 20.
- 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.
- UPDATE: Due to unforeseen events, noted English historian, Professor Ronald Hutton will be unable to appear live as originally planned as part of the Cherry Hill Seminary continuing lecture series, “Coming to the Center.” Rather than cancel or reschedule the event, a recording of an interview that was conducted with Hutton just a few days ago will be broadcast with a live discussion to follow. The presentation by Hutton will still take place 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.
- The International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture (ISSRNC) announces the hybrid conference, “After Earth? Religion and Technology on a Changing Planet” which will take place in Tempe, AZ, and online Feb 2– 5. Student registration is free; recordings of all online sessions will be posted on our website for later viewing by registered participants. The Deadline for online registration is January 30.
- Circle Sanctuary will hold its 2023 Imbolc Festival on Saturday, February 4, from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (CDT) at the Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in southwestern Wisconsin. The theme for this year is Brigid’s Wisdom and will include rituals, workshops, poetry sharing, nature walks, and crafting. The event is in-person, but Bright Brigid Blessings with Selena Fox will be livestreamed and available for online viewing, paid registration is required. The registration deadline to attend is Thursday, February 2, and must be received by 11:59 pm. Circle Sanctuary has Covid-19 protocols that must be followed. More details can be found on the Circle Sanctuary website.
- The Circle Sanctuary Community will host their Celebrate the Imbolctide Full Moon online on Sunday, February 5 at 7:00 pm (CST). The theme for the event is “Loving Kindness,” and will be livestreamed via Circle Sanctuary YouTube Channel.
- Earth-based Spirituality Action Team (ESBAT) will hold its next meeting on February 13, 2023, from 5:00 pm – 5:30 pm (PDT). The meeting will feature John Beckett presenting, “Animism: A Foundation for Connecting to Nature.” A description of the presentation: “Unlike what some of us were taught in school, animism is not a ‘primitive religion.’ It’s a worldview: a way of understanding the universe, our place in it, and how we can relate to it all.” Beckett is a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD), a member of Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), a member of the Denton Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, and a former Vice President of CUUPS Continental. He’s been writing, speaking, teaching, and leading public rituals since 2003. His books The Path of Paganism (2017) and Paganism In Depth (2019) are published by Llewellyn Worldwide. The meeting will be held via Zoom.
In other news:
- On Saturday the Peruvian government shut down Machu Picchu, leaving stranded 418 visitors to the site. The Ministry of Tourism closed the site after train tracks to the site were damaged by protesters. By Saturday evening, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism issued a statement announcing that 148 foreign tourists and 270 Peruvians had been safely evacuated from the site being transported first by train and then buses to the city of Cusco. This is the second time in a little over a month that tourists have had to be evacuated from the site due to the often violent protests. In December several hundred of the most vulnerable tourists were airlifted from Machu Picchu, while thousands of tourists were stranded due to roads and rail lines being blocked by protesters. The protests are in response to the appointment of a new president, Dina Boluarte, after the impeachment, and then the arrest and jailing of her predecessor, Pedro Castillo, on charges of rebellion and conspiracy.
- The two-day festival of Surva, which is a blend of Christian and Pagan rituals was held in the Bulgarian village of Kosharevo earlier this month. The festival incorporates dancers, known as Survakars, or kukers (similar to mummers) that are garbed in red, wearing masks with massive feathered headdresses, and have large bells attached to their chests and waists. The dancers dance around a fire on the main square of the village to both drive away evil spirits and to bring in good health as well as plentiful crops for the New Year.
- PBS announced a new documentary series set to begin airing on Tuesday, February 14 of PBS Voices. The series is titled “Discover Ritual,” hosted by Grammy-winning musician Tank Ball and will explore the traditions and rituals of south.
Jake Stratton-Kent, a noted researcher, scholar, and occultist, died last Tuesday after suffering a stroke in the spring of 2022 from which he never fully recovered.
Stratton-Kent wrote a number of books that focused on grimoires and their use, and is largely touted by other magicians and occultists as having “revolutionized the modern use of early grimoire magic.” His influence on other magicians, Pagans, occultists, and scholars is evident in the number of remembrances posted across a variety of social media platforms.
While he may be best remembered for his books, Goetic Liturgy, Encyclopaedia Goetica, and Conjure Codex: A Compendium of Invocation, Evocation, and Conjuration I-V, he was also extremely active online and often participated in lively discussions that often revolved around spirit-centered magical practice and ancient history.
Scarlet Imprint published a journal post, Eulogy for a Necromancer that reflects on the remarkable life he lived, as well as his ability to be “a persistent thorn in the (back)side of orthodoxy through the simple fact of his ceaseless pursuit of the truth, of his Will.”
The journal post ends with a verse that is as appropriate a send-off as one might imagine:
Before the great God, the dread Lord of the West!
Speak fair words for Jake Stratton-Kent. May he flourish
In the place of the weighing of hearts
By the marsh of the dead, where the crocodiles nourish
Their lives on the lost, where the Serpent upstarts.
For though I be joined to the Earth,
In the Innermost Shrine of Heaven am I.
I was Master of Thebes from my birth;
Shall I die like a dog? Thou shalt not let me die,
But my Khu that the teeth of the crocodiles sever
Shall be mighty in heaven for ever & ever!
What is remembered, Lives!
Pharmacist Dr. Charles A. Champion passed away on Saturday, at the age of 92.
Champion’s Pharmacy and Herb Store is iconic in the Memphis area, as well as across the varied landscape of rootworkers, healers, and other practitioners in the south.
Champion started the pharmacy in 1981 and it has endured to the present day and is carried on by his daughters, Dr. Carol “Cookie” Champion and Dr. Charita Champion Brookins.
A social media post by Champion’s Pharmacy remembering him noted:
“Dr. Champion spent his career creating and providing remedies to treat many common illnesses. His dedication and love for people and his community were evident in his work. The joy Dr. Champion found in serving others was immeasurable, and we are grateful to everyone who trusted him and Champion’s Pharmacy and Herb Store with their health and wellness needs.”
The family also noted that they “will provide information very soon on ways to honor and acknowledge Dr. Champion’s legacy in lieu of flowers.”
His slogan for success and life was, “Live Like A Champion.”
What is remembered, Lives!
HONG KONG – One of the events that take place during Lunar New Year celebrations is the lion dance, a traditional form of dance that is performed both during Lunar New Year celebrations and at other Asian religious and cultural events. The lion dance is also often performed important at new business openings, weddings, and other
The lion symbolizes wisdom and strength, as well as prosperity, good luck, and chasing away negative energies. While similar to the dragon dance, the lion dance consists of only two performers in each costume and often incorporates acrobatic elements. One dancer manipulates the head, and the other dancer the body of the lion.
There are two basic variations of the lion dance, the northern and the southern. While both forms of the lion dance are performed within China and other Asian countries, the southern variation is more prevalent outside of China and includes acrobatic feats like those performed in the footage below.
Deck: Tarot Neocolonial de las Américas, by Patrick McGrath Muñiz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Card: Ten (10) of Bastos (Wands)
This week is likely to call for extra care when it comes to overextending and taking on more than can be done. It is also important to recognize situations that are excessively demanding or even oppressive, and consider what change is required.
Conversely, choosing to not participate in situations that are harmful and oppressive, and setting healthy limits when it comes to work (and play), offer opportunities for deciding the best and happiest way forward.