In this week’s Pagan Community Notes: Well-known Pagan leader Kirk White announces a run for state office, Various Pagan events announce changes and postponements, the Buckland Museums reopens, art contest announced, and more!
SAN FRANCISCO –Last week, officials announced that a woman here had died after ingesting a toxic herbal tea, and a man who also drank a brew prepared from herbs sold at the same shop, was hospitalized in critical condition before recovering. According to local news coverage, the culprit was the herb aconite, which has a variety of common names including wolf’s bane and fuzi. While this plant can be highly toxic without processing, with proper care it is a staple of Chinese herbal medicine. The two victims in San Francisco purchased different tea blends that were mixed at Sun Wing Wo Trading Company, each of which included unprocessed aconite. Tests of both the herbal blends and the victims’ blood confirmed aconite as the toxic agent.
BETHEL, Vt. –Whether or not there is such as thing as “Pagan community” is as slippery a concept as the definition of “Pagan” itself. The core question is whether or not people who follow vastly different traditions have enough in common to share a common label, or a common table. Some festivals are positioned to reinforce a feeling of community. For example, at the end of Pagan Spirit Gathering participants don’t just leave; they head out on a “year-long supply run.”
SAN BERNARDINO –In the forty years since Covenant of the Goddess (CoG) was formed, its members have been on the front lines of battles for equal rights as prison chaplains, as veterans, as parents, and as people. The organization has helped to define the Wiccan and wider Pagan communities, has weathered the Satanic panics and the infamous Helms amendment, which threatened to remove tax-exempt status from “occult” churches, and endured the more recent attacks launched by such luminaries as George W. Bush and Bob Barr. However, in recent months, this venerable collective of covens and solitary practitioners has faced an internal upheaval, which has since become quite public, and could be one of its most difficult struggles to date. The spark which ignited the firestorm was the very current ignition point: race. Early in December, Pagan and polytheist individuals and groups issued statements of support and calls to action in response to the treatment of people of color in American society.
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA –The Satanic Temple struck another blow for religious equality when it secured the right to erect a Satanic holiday display in Florida’s capitol. It will sit alongside a display celebrating the birth of Jesus, the noodly appendages of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and a pole marking Festivus. This is the same Satanic organization that has previously offered to make a bronze statue of Baphoment for the Oklahoma capitol, announced it would distribute Satanic literature to Florida schoolchildren, and performed same-sex weddings over the grave of Fred Phelps’ mother. Reviled by stalwart Christians and mistrusted by other Satanists, The Satanic Temple invariably makes a media splash when it comments on the separation of church and state. So many Pagans have spent time either rehearsing or actually having conversations explaining how Paganism differs from Satanism. Therefore it is no surprise that The Satanic Temple has received negative reactions from Pagans. But is there anything this group can teach Pagans about public relations or defending religious freedom?