Josephine Winter is a teacher and geek from provincial Victoria, Australia. She is one of the founding members of the Pagan Collective of Victoria and an organizer of the Mount Franklin Pagan Gathering. Josie shares a little blue house in the bush with a hairy viking, a dog, three chickens and lots of books.
MANAKAU, NEW ZEALAND – Members of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids are travelling to New Zealand this week to take part in the eighteenth annual Southern Hemisphere OBOD Assembly. 2018 marks the first time the Assembly has been held in New Zealand. Hosted by Grove of the Summer Stars, the Assembly will have many New Zealander and Australian OBOD members in attendance, along with OBOD Chief Philip Carr-Gomm, Scribe Stephanie Carr-Gomm and newly chosen Chief Eimear Burke. The Grove of the Summer Stars is based in Pukerua Bay, north of Wellington on New Zealand’s north island. The Assembly itself will run for six days in Manakau, a suburb of Auckland, but attendees will have the opportunity to visit the Grove during a “magical mystery tour” on the Saturday.
This month, TWH’s Australian correspondent Josephine Winter brings us the latest news snippets from the Australian Pagan Community.
Western Australia: Combined Covens Participates in PrideFest WA
Last month, Perth-based non-profit Pagan social group Combined Covens participated in PrideFest, Perth’s LGBTQI+ arts, culture and community festival for the second year running. Members of Combined Covens dressed as gods and goddesses for the parade through Northbridge, which marked the conclusion of the festival. PrideFest is organised and facilitated by Pride WA. Originally incorporated in 1993 as Lesbian & Gay Pride (WA) Incorporated, Pride WA began in its earliest form during the 1989 march on Parliament, during the contentious debate about the Law Reform (Decriminalisation of Sodomy) Act 1989 which decriminalised private sexual acts between two people of the same sex.
The Pagan Awareness Network inc (PAN) recently celebrated 21 years’ service to Australia’s Pagan community. Our Australian Correspondent Josephine Winter recently sat down with president and founder David Garland as he reflected on the organization’s many achievements over the years, discussed the current climate of the community and looked to what comes next for the Network, which has become a cornerstone of Australian Paganism.
The Wild Hunt: Tell us a bit about your path and practice. To what extent is community service part of your spiritual path? David Garland: My beginnings were as a solitary, skirting around what I later found out was Stregha, from my grandmother.
AUSTRALIA – An academic has recently pieced together the story of Mary Barrell, which is among the earliest documented cases of Witchcraft and fortune telling in the country. Historian and folklorist Dr David Waldron made the discovery when conducting research in Victorian-era newspapers. He found letters to the editor spanning over three decades. “I first became aware of Mary Barrell when looking for writing on fortune tellers, phrenologists and mystics in 19th century Ballarat.” Waldron told The Wild Hunt. “Castelmaine, Ballarat and Bendigo were all described as a mecca for spiritualism and attracted the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who engaged in correspondence with Ballarat Spiritualist leader James Curtis.”
The Methodist and the Spiritualist
According to a recent article by the Ballarat Courier, the letters published in newspapers complaining about Barrell and her fortune telling were at least in part caused by and demonstrative of ongoing friction between two notable and influential Ballarat pioneers who had very different sensibilities: Wesleyan Methodist and town council member James Oddie and Freemason and Spiritualist James Curtis.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA – The Pagan Alliance of South Australia recently ceased to operate as an incorporated association, citing a significant drop in membership and financial difficulties as reasons for the decision. With the Tasmanian branch of the Pagan Alliance facing similar issues, an end to this organisation – once a nationwide cornerstone of the Australian Pagan community — is becoming increasingly likely after almost 30 years. History
The Pagan Alliance was founded in 1991 by Wiccan Julia Philips at the height of the “Satanic Panic,” partly as a response to the widespread fearmongering and misinformation about Paganism during that period. According to a 2006 article, Phillips was staying with Wiccan friends in Canberra early in 1991 when the first seeds were planted. “One of these manipulative people appeared on TV, spreading the usual unsubstantiated claims that pagans and witches were conducting black masses, child sacrifice, and so on,” she remembers.