LONDON — The English capital city saw a number of terrorist incidents on the night June 3, when 8 people were killed and 48 injured. The three identified attackers drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge, and then got out repeatedly stabbing people in nearby Borough Market before being shot dead by police. Since the attacks, the mood in London – a city that endured bombings throughout WWII and by the IRA campaigns later in 20th century – remains calm and defiant. Citizens have been taking to social media to deny that the population is in shock. The Pagan presence in London is considerable, and the area around Borough Market is of special interest to many of them, because it contains the Crossbones Cemetery, a Medieval burial ground for prostitutes and the outcast dead.
It was announced on Monday that High Priest, Elder and Witch John Belham-Payne had died from kidney disease. John was Doreen Valiente’s last priest, the co-founder of the Centre for Pagan Studies, and the founder of The Doreen Valiente Foundation. He was a fixture in the UK Pagan community and dedicated to the mission of upholding the values of his teachings and sharing his magical inheritance and all he had learned with others. John was born Jan. 5, 1952 in Dudley. He showed an early interest in music and the arts, which gave him the foundation that inspired his early career choices.
On Saturday, it was announced the Wiccan High Priestess Jean Williams had died on Friday, Dec 25. The announcement read, “Gracious, sociable and non-dogmatic, [Jean] relished the variety of paths and personalities in paganism. Also in some ways a very private person, in her personal spiritual life she was a Wiccan high priestess of the Gardnerian tradition, with a quiet and close-knit coven who are very much her intimate family.” Jean Elen Williams was born in the village of Berkeley, Gloucestershire, and was the third child of a Church of England vicar. From a very early age, she attended private boarding school, and then later enrolled at theUniversity of College London, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, then want on to have a very successful career as a social researcher.
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In recent weeks, the BBC and other media outlets have published articles on the increase in Witchcraft related violence in the UK.
This week a law was passed that will make same-sex marriage legal in England and Wales. The landmark legislation, approved by Queen Elizabeth II, clears the way for legal marriages to start in 2014. The way the new law is structured, religious organizations must “opt in” in order to perform a legally binding ceremony. This historic move follows recent advances for same-sex marriage in parts of the United States and for all of France. Just as I collected reactions from modern Pagans in America following the DOMA/Prop 8 Supreme Court decisions, so too did I want to see how Pagans in England and Wales felt about this development.