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.
Australia’s Northern Territory (sometimes just called “the NT” or “the top end”) is the country’s third-largest federal division, covering over 520,902 square miles (1,349,129 square kilometres). This vast space is made up of rugged coastline, a national park spanning around 12,000 square miles (20,000 square kilometres) and larger settlements in the north; the south has smaller settlements, sacred rock formations and mountain ranges dotted across the immense, red desert. For more than 40,000 years this land has been comprised of a dozen different indigenous language groups, Pitjantjatjara being the largest and best-kept language. The NT’s great spaces are sparsely populated: the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ most recent demographic data have the region’s population sitting at below 250,000, with just under half of that number residing in the capital city of Darwin. What does all this mean for Pagans living in the Northern Territory?