ORLANDO — Tragedy struck early Sunday morning when a man open fired inside a crowded Orlando night club killing an estimated 49 people and injuring 53 others. As of publication, federal officials have not conclusively linked the attack to the organization Daesh. However, state and local officials are calling it a terror attack due to the gunman’s history and personal statements.
The owner of the nightclub Pulse, which bills itself as the “hottest gay nightclub” in Orlando, posted this message: “Like everyone in the country, I am devastated about the horrific events that have taken place today. Pulse, and the men and women who work there, have been my family for nearly 15 years. From the beginning, Pulse has served as a place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community. I want to express my profound sadness and condolences to all who have lost loved ones. Please know that my grief and heart are with you.”
A Facebook application called Safety Check allowed Orlando-based users to check in “as being safe” and allowed others to check on a friend’s status. Many members of the Orlando-area Pagan, Heathen and polytheist community were using that app as news spread. Regardless, the event has shocked the country and the world, being called the worst terror attack on American soil since 9/11. There have been candlelight vigils, social media memes, prayers, blood drives, and other actions being taken to help and show support for the families and friends involved and for the LGBTQ community as a whole.
The Wild Hunt will have more reactions to the weekend tragedy in the coming days.
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ATLANTA — It was announced that Patricia Zook, known to the Pagan community as Lady Epona, had died. She was High Priestess in the Faerie Faith and played a pivotal role it the tradition’s development. According to students Linda Kerr and Cliff Landis, in her early days, Lady Epona worked closely with Mark Roberts, who had previously spent time with Morgan McFarland. They wrote, “Epona emphasized a strong sense of ethics and a focus on personal transformation.”
Over the years, Lady Epona was involved with and led many organizations including the Coven of the White Horse, the Garden Club, and the Mud Witches. She was also a veterinarian and perceptual student of the Craft. Landis and Kerr wrote, “Epona’s thirst for wisdom and community was relentless, and even in her last weeks of life she was sharing her knowledge as a Reiki Master and passing on lessons to her great-grandchildren in the Craft.”
Landis, along with his partners, served as Lady Epona’s caretaker in her final days. She died of cancer, COPD, and congestive heart failure on May 29, 2016, at her home in Decatur, Georgia. There will be a memorial June 19 at 4:00pm at the Clarkston Community Center. A ritual to celebrate her life will be held in October at the FallFling Festival in Alabama. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Gwinnett Animal Hospital’s Good Samaritan Fund. What is remembered, lives.
* * *TWH – After Tuesday’s hexing action went viral, organizer Melanie Hexen received something unexpected. Hundreds of women began contacting her with requests for more hexings. In a Facebook post, Hexen wrote, “Hundreds of women have sent me pictures of their unconvicted rapists and molesters asking for magick.” On Saturday alone, she reported receiving over 300 requests.
Not all those requests came from Pagans, Heathens or other magical practitioners. One of those women said, “I do not practice the art myself… But you gave me new hope on a case that I thought was hopeless and lost.”
Anyone who has followed the hexing story has seen that Hexen and other participants have received both an outpouring of support as well as fierce backlash. While some of that response may have been expected, Hexen did not foresee the enormous number of requests for additional hexings, or more specifically, for hexings of the “unconvicted.” In her post, Hexen said, “Ladies, you are survivors and the strongest witches amongst us and I am humbled.”
Update 6/13/16 4:24 pm ET: Prior to original publication, we reached out to Hexen to see if she had any plans to help these hundreds of women with spellwork or in other ways. She was not available to respond at the time, but has responded since. Here is what she said: “We formed a private Facebook group for sharing stories, resources, and magick. Also, I’ve been reminding [the women] that survivors have the most powerful witchcraft.”
In Other News
- The Prairie Land Music Festival is on schedule and will be held June 24-26. It is the festival’s first year, and aims to showcase both folk and Pagan music talent. As we reported in the past, organizers were having difficulty rounding up volunteers and funds. Rumors began circulating that the event had been cancelled. However, that was never the case. The Prairie Land Music Festival is now getting ready to open its doors for the first time, featuring “10 great performers scheduled who specialize in Folk, Celtic and Native American Flute Music.” In addition, there will be vendors and kids activities. The festival will be held at the Johnson County Fairgrounds North Arena in Iowa City, IA.
- The Minneapolis Collective of Pagan Artists (MCPA), in partnership with the Vine Arts Center, will be hosting a new exhibit titled “Modern Pagans/Ancient Realms.” In the exhibition, artists respond to the following question, “What does this revival of pre-modern religions contribute to the larger conversation?” The event will feature painting, live performance, photography, ceramics, video, and mixed media. The “Modern Pagans/Ancient Religions” exhibit opens July 8 at The Vine Center in Minneapolis and will be open through July 29.
- Pagan Spirit Gathering begins this week and runs from June 19-26 in southern Illinois. Rev. Selena Fox, founder of Circle Sanctuary said, “As part of PSG each year, we do workings for Pagan religious freedom. This will be part of our opening rite on Solstice Eve on Sunday night, June 19.” Lady Liberty League also holds its annual meeting during PSG, and it can be attended by PSG guests interested in religious freedom work.
- The interest in Doreen Valiente and her work has not yet subsided in the U.K. Ashley Mortimer, trustee of the Doreen Valiente Foundation, was just featured on the podcast show “Cult of Nick” about the exhibitions, the book and the upcoming play. And, this weekend, in honor of Gerald Gardner’s 132nd birthday celebration, Pagans and others will be gathering at Preston Manor, where the Doreen Valiente exhibit is being hosted. On June 18, Mortimer, along with Philip Carr-Gomm and Tam Campbell, will be giving talks to visitors, who come to visit the exhibition.
- For those that did not attend Caldera Fest or for those that want to relive it, a video of one of Tuatha Dea’s performance, featuring Ginger Doss and Sharon Knight, was posted to You Tube. Enjoy!