Over the week, there have been online rumblings that the American Council of Witches is trying, once again, to form. A Facebook page was opened on Sept. 11 and has remained fairly quiet until the past two months. And, it wasn’t until two weeks ago that the page began to receive significant attention, both for and against the council.
The American Council of Witches (ACOW) was originally created in 1973 by an eclectic group of practitioners, many of whom are no longer living. However, as we reported last year, that group, which “convened in Minneapolis, Minnesota, disbanded shortly after, allegedly due to internal divisions.” Then in 2011, a group of people tried to resurrect ACOW but, once again, it folded after “questions were raised about [its] goals, structure, and secrecy.” Then again, in early 2015, a new group of people tried unsuccessfully to launch the council. It ultimately folded due to similar concerns to those posed in 2011.
Since late March, there has been increased traffic to the new ACOW page, which “council members” claim is all that exists at this point. While there are many people who do appear to be eager to join, there are just as many asking the same questions as before, such as, “Who are you?” and, “What are your goals?” In addition, concerns have been raised regarding the thirteen beliefs, originally listed in September. Many of the recent complaints and questions have since been deleted from the page. However, new concerns continue to appear daily, including some people suggesting that this new launch is simply an internet ruse or what has been called “a trolling.”
The Wild Hunt did receive an email from a reported member of the new group. He said, “I have tried to help this new Council and they did not want to take any of my ideas.” He continued on saying that he’d like to clarify the situation before “mistakes are made.” We have not yet received a second response to our questions and will update the story as needed.
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BBC Radio 4: The World Tonight will be featuring a talk with Doreen Valiente Foundation trustee Ashley Mortimer about the new “Where Witchcraft Lives” exhibition currently open at Preston Manor in Brighton. According to Mortimer, “[The BBC] visited the exhibition yesterday, praised it highly and asked some excellent questions about it – just the sort of thoughts and questions we hoped it would stimulate for people with no knowledge of Paganism when they visit.”
The radio broadcast will also reportedly feature some of Doreen Valiente’s own words as well as an interview with venue officer Paula Rightson. Preston Manor is considered one of “Britain’s spookiest historic houses.” Rightson explained, “Preston Manor has been chosen to display this collection because it’s so compatible with the interests of the last private owner […] [They] were fascinated by Sussex history, archaeology and folklore.” That included the supernatural and the occult. According to Rightson, Valiente herself was very well aware of the owners’ interests and referred to it within her own research and writing.
The BBC Radio 4 will air the interview at 22:00 GMT, after which it will be available for streaming. In addition, Mortimer will be interviewed by by a BBC World program. The air date has not yet been announced.
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With Earth Day only eleven days away, the organizers behind A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment have launched a new effort to increase the number of signatures on the online document.”Help us get 10,000 signatures by Earth Day 2016!”
The site reads, “Pagans can aid in the repair of our environment by teaching how we are part of life on Earth, sharing rituals and ceremonies that foster bonds between ourselves and the rest of the web of life, and instilling a sense of responsibility for how we interact with the ecosystem — all this creating cultures that can sustain our human society today and for generations to come.”
The idea for this community statement was born in the summer 2014, after Covenant of the Goddess released its own environmental statement. That summer, blogger John Halstead began bringing interested people together to craft this statement to reflect a diversity of Pagan thought. The large groups of participants worked together through the following months to write and finalize the document. Then, on Earth Day 2015, it was launched for signatures.
Since that time, the statement has garnered 7,983 signatures from individual people heralding from 80 different countries and has been translated into 16 different languages. In addition, twenty-four Pagan and Heathen organizations from around the world have officially signed the document. Organizers wrote, “As signatories, we commit to use our abilities and resources to promote policies and practices that foster the changes that our world so urgently needs.” They are now looking for increased support in order to reach the goal of 10,000 signatures. They write, “Add your voice to our call to protect all life in this historic moment by signing the statement.”
In Other News
- Denton CUUPS announced that it has donated $260 to the creation of the First Pagan Temple in Texas. As we previously reported, Chris Godwin and the local HearthStone Grove ADF launched a fundraising campaign to purchase the land needed to create a physical space for Pagans in their area. HearthStone’s vision and history are detailed on the fundraiser page. Denton CUUPS, which is also located in Texas, understands the importance of a dedicated gathering space. The organization ran into arson problems at its own ritual space in December 2015. Regarding HearthStone’s efforts, Denton CUUPS said, “We encourage others to contribute as they’re able.”
- Artist Helga Hedgewalker’s work was chose as April’s Artist of the Month at Blick’s in Roseville, Minnesota. Hedgewalker is a Gardnerian high priestess and Witch “with decades of professional experience in print design, illustration, book design, package design, web graphics and advertising.” She calls all of her creative work “offerings of Beauty to the Gods.” On display at Blick’s are five of these “offerings” each of which depicts a representation of a deity or divine spirit. These include Star Goddess of the East, Green God of the South, Horned God of the West, Earth Goddess of the North, and Yemayá, Our Lady of the Oceans, Mother of All Life.
- The Nathaniel Johnstone Band has announced the release of their fifth full-length album. The new album is called Mother Matrix and features eleven new songs that are an “exploration of that thought process.” The Nathaniel Johnstone Band’s sound is described as “crossing boundaries” as a “blend of European, Middle Eastern, and South American music with Jazz, Rock, Surf, Folk, Gothic, and Steampunk influences – all the while exploring the realms of myth, folklore, and magick.”
- Authors John Matthews and Caroline Wise have a newly released book called The Secret Lore of London. As described by publisher Hodder and Stoughton, “London is an ancient city, whose foundation dates back literally thousands of years into the legendary prehistory of these islands. Not surprisingly it has accumulated a large number of stories, both historic and mythical, many of which, though faithfully recorded at the time, have lain almost forgotten in dusty libraries throughout the city.” The new anthology explores these mysteries with the help of “key figures in contemporary paganism and earth mysteries.”
- From the blogosphere, John Beckett of Under the Ancient Oaks shares a review of the Gordon White’s new book The Chaos Protocols published by Llewellyn. Beckett writes, “This is not a book that tells you how to become one of the financially elite. It is not a book that tells you how to blow it all up or how to live off the grid. This is a book that shows you how to live and work within our current system and maintain your integrity.”
- Lastly, members of the Pagan Federation International will be gathering in the Netherlands this weekend for its 16th annual conference. The guest speaker is Julian Vayne, who will be giving two talks – one on ‘Chaos Magic and Witchcraft’ and the other on ‘The Medicine Path – psychedelics and spirituality.’ The conference will take place at “Lunteren in the beautiful woods of the National Park ‘de Hoge Veluwe.’ Door open at 9 a.m.