NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. — In late January, the newly created Nature’s Spirit Conference brought together scientists, activists, and spiritual leaders from various religious traditions to raise awareness for and address the critical water and environmental challenges facing South Florida.The goal of this day-long conference was twofold: to provide scientific information about the environmental challenges facing Florida and to explore interfaith and spiritual opportunities that will invigorate environmental activism. The conference took place January 28 and was organized by the Pagan Environmental Alliance and the Justice Action Ministry of the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palm Beaches, and it was held in the Congregation’s sanctuary. Under near perfect weather, activists and others gathered to strengthen their understanding of the connections between science and their various religious paths with the goal of helping Florida’s ailing environment. The criticality of the moment was not lost on the morning panelists who focused on educating the forty or so conference attendees on the vital issues facing the state and her waters.
During last year’s holiday season, “Jorge L. Aladro, Grand Master of Florida’s Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons issued a ruling stating that Paganism, Wicca, Odinism and Gnosticism were not compatible with Freemasonry,” as Jason Pitzl-Waters reported here at the Wild Hunt. Several months later, word spread of the violence directed at Pagan childrens’ author Kyrja Withers in Port Richey, Florida. Just as that issue was resolved, Florida was back in the news again when a group of conservative Christian ministers from Pahokee Florida spoke out against a new Pagan Summer Solstice Festival at Lake Okeechobee. What was going on in Florida this year? Fortunately all three of these news-making stories ended positively in support of religious diversity and freedom. The Florida Masons overturned their ruling.
This past weekend I traveled to the historic town of Salem, Massachusetts for Covenant of the Goddess’ (CoG) yearly Merry Meet Convention. This multi-faceted four-day event includes rituals, leadership training, social activities, shopping and the ever important annual business meeting called Grand Council. This year’s Merry Meet was artfully hosted by CoG’s New England-based local council – the Weavers. Before I recount the experience, I want to make one thing very clear. I am a proud CoG member and have been for years.