There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. In wake of the recent record-breaking Mega Millions jackpot, The Baltimore Sun checks in with Ellwood “Bunky” Bartlett, a Wiccan who won over 40 million dollars in the Maryland state lottery back in 2007. Bartlett says that he made mistakes “giving money to help other people realize their dreams instead of my own,” but that he still has around $15 million in the bank. Bartlett recently made the news when he launched an (unsuccessful) million-dollar Kickstarter campaign to build a new video game world.
A few quick Pagan news notes for you on this Wednesday. Congregational Paganism in Arizona: The East Valley Tribune spotlights the Sacred Spiral Pagan Church of Arizona, who recently received their 501(c)3 status, and explores why they abandoned the small-group coven model for a congregational model. High Priestess Rosemary Szymanski disbanded her coven in favor of the Sacred Spiral Pagan Church of Arizona in 2007, having gained 501(c)3 status, which means that the federal government recognizes the group as a tax-exempt church. The whole process of becoming a church took about two years, but the wait was mostly because of paperwork, Szymanski said. In the years since abandoning the title of coven, Szymanski, founder and president, has worked with her fellow witches to organize openly and spread knowledge about Paganism. “Covens are much more secretive,” Szymanski, a witch for 17 years, said. “So in 2007, I banned the coven and created the church.”
Sacred Spiral doesn’t have a physical space at this point, but they do say they are hoping to open a community center.
While Samhain and Halloween are holidays that honour those that have passed, a time when the veils between the seen and unseen are thin, it is also, it seems, an increasingly popular time for some to get married. For some it’s just a laugh, something to break with the traditional expectations of marriage, for others it’s an extension of a lifelong love of spooky things. Getting married on Halloween may even be a long-held family tradition. But increasingly, it is a time for modern Pagans to tie the knot on one of their most sacred days. Such is the case of Dave Dominic and Maggie Venables, who were wed in Sherwood Forest by High Priestess Beccie Morris.
Sometimes I go weeks without seeing any direct coverage of Pagans in the mainstream media. Then, as if they can hold back no longer, a sudden torrent of stories spring forth all at once. As a result, you get the Sacramento News and Review covering a Thelemic Gnostic Mass, The Post in Ohio reporting on the growing population of Wiccans in Athens, the Marshall Parthenon (a student paper) looking at a Pagan organization on campus, and a Killeen Daily Herald story concerning local Pagans getting ready to celebrate Ostara.”When the leaves start turning green, weather warms up and spring finally rolls around, it feels like magic is in the air; this Saturday’s Ostara Fest is ready to make things feel a whole lot more magical. A celebration of spring, the event at Club Rodeo in Harker Heights will be hosted by new-age gift shop Sisters of the Earth and Sea and will bring vendors and participants from all over the country. “You’ve heard of ‘Keep Austin Weird,'” said Laurie Roach, co-owner of Sisters of the Earth and Sea.
Thelemites Fight Pedophillia Charges: An Australian couple who posted unsubstantiated accusations of pedophilia and ritual abuse within the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) chapter in Melbourne, Australia have been sentenced to nine months in prison. The prison stay was ordered after Vivienne Legg and Dyson Devine defied a court order to take down the material, and declined to appear at hearings. “Vivienne Legg and Dyson Devine posted on their website claims that an occult group, the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), was really a pedophile ring in Victoria, and that its activities included hosting parties at which naked children served as waiters and members had sex with and murdered children … [Judge Marilyn Harbison] said the material was gross, insulting and bizarre in asserting that the OTO tortured and killed children and animals and consumed their organs in blood rituals. It also said OTO members were criminally corrupt, spoke of a culture of corruption at the highest levels of government, and identified politicians as taking part.