BRIGHTON, U.K. – Organizers of Witchfest International, the largest Pagan conference held in the UK, announced last Saturday that they were cancelling the 2018 event due to financial challenges. The announcement was made by Merlyn, one of the organizers, directly before headliner Professor Ronald Hutton presented at this year’s conference. Merlyn said an unexpected and sharp decrease in attendance was to blame for a lack of funds to finance the conference for 2018, but he added that plans were in the works for the conference to return in 2019. “Final numbers aren’t in yet, but we think our losses are in the thousands [of pounds],” said Merlyn. Witchfest International, run by The Children of Artemis, typically attracts around 3000 attendees and is held in the Brighton Centre in the seaside town of Brighton.
ENGLAND — Members of the U.K.’s Pagan community made the mainstream media in an effort to dispel myths and misconceptions with regard to a recent rash of witchcraft reports in the region. According to reports, some parts of Nottinghamshire have had “125 [complaints] of witchcraft in two years.” Local paranormal experts allegedly claim that “some of the reports could be ghostly activity which relates to, or has been caused, by witchcraft carried out in the past.” The press turned to Ashley Mortimer, who director of Nottingham Pagan Network and also a trustee of the Doreen Valiente Foundation. Mortimer is quoted as saying that 38 “reports out of 44 [paranormal incidents in Ashfield North] says more to me about the level of reporting than necessarily does about the level of witchcraft activity.” He went on to explain that Witchcraft has had bad press for years and none of this is new.
[Please welcome Liz Williams our new UK correspondent and journalist.]
UNITED KINGDOM — You can always tell that it’s spring when the UK online Pagan community starts linking to articles by writer Adrian Bott, also known as Cavalorn. Bott came into prominence a few years ago with his blog posts regarding the origins of Ostara. Rather than taking on board the received wisdom about this festival, he began a rigorous examination of the actual origins of the holiday’s name. Bott began by linking Ostara back to an obscure reference in the writings of the Venerable Bede called The Reckoning of Time, which was then picked up by the Brothers Grimm. His posts were often contentious, challenging the accepted idea that Ostara was an ancient Germanic goddess of the dawn or of springtime, or that she had anything to do with hares, eggs, or indeed chocolate.
GASTON, N.C. – Druid Daniel Scott Holbrook, also known as Cú Meala, pleaded no contest last week to the charge of the “dissemination of obscenities.” Holbrook was arrested last fall after police allegedly found “nude photos of children” on his computer. After several dates were postponed due to schedule conflicts, Holbrook saw his day in court Apr. 4. Since the arrest, Holbrook has always maintained his innocence publicly, saying that the photos were placed there by a downloaded BitTorrent. As he explains, he and his family were attempting to download a movie and the photos were hidden in that file.
ORLANDO — Tragedy struck early Sunday morning when a man open fired inside a crowded Orlando night club killing an estimated 49 people and injuring 53 others. As of publication, federal officials have not conclusively linked the attack to the organization Daesh. However, state and local officials are calling it a terror attack due to the gunman’s history and personal statements. The owner of the nightclub Pulse, which bills itself as the “hottest gay nightclub” in Orlando, posted this message: “Like everyone in the country, I am devastated about the horrific events that have taken place today. Pulse, and the men and women who work there, have been my family for nearly 15 years.