UNITED STATES –A U.S. Army soldier has been given the go-ahead to wear a beard as an expression of his Heathen faith, but not everyone in that community is on board. Leaders of some of the higher-profile Heathen organizations have questioned the sources, the messaging, and even the motivations of those who supported the bid. In a story published late last month, Army Times reporter Meghann Myers explained how the opportunity for this particular request only opened up in early 2017, when religious beards were approved as “a response to years of requests — and a lawsuit — from Sikh soldiers seeking to both serve and adhere to the tenets of their faith.” For Sikhs, the issue is that kesh, uncut hair, is a requirement of that religion. However, even the loosening of military beardlessness to accommodate members of that religion does require some cutting; facial hair can’t be allowed to grow more than two inches past the bottom of the chin.
TWH – The annual celebration of Veterans Day started out as Armistice Day in 1919 at the end of World War I. It was officially renamed Veterans Day in the United States in order to honor all veterans. Many countries still honor Nov. 11 as a day of remembrance, especially those that fought on the Allied side in World War I.
This is a special year for Circle Sanctuary, as they recognize the 10th anniversary of the Veterans Pentacle Quest. After a long struggle attempting to get the pentacle as an approved device for military headstones, Circle Sanctuary and Selena Fox teamed up with Americans United for Separation of Church and State to file a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs. Assisting in the suit was Roberta Stewart, wife and widow of Sgt.
FORT HOOD, Texas — The Fort Hood Open Circle, a non-denominational Pagan group that has been meeting on the military base since 1997 and has had a challenging history has been wrestling with problems such as being locked out of their ritual space and having their concerns dismissed by chaplains for a number of years. This past week, its leader had had enough and vented her frustrations on Facebook. Hundreds of shares and a huge outpouring of support followed, along with extensive meetings to address the short-term problems faced by members of the congregation. Solutions to the longer-term, systemic issues will take far more effort. Michele Morris has served as Distinctive Religious Group Leader, or DRGL in military-speak, for the Fort Hood Open Circle for six years.
I hadn’t heard that phrase for over 20 years, but when I did, it brought me instantly back to my time in military service. The military is full of phrases like that – easy to remember and encapsulating a depth of wisdom. In some branches of the armed forces it means that no tool is perfect or not prone to failure so always carry a spare. In the United States Air Force, it sums up the relationship between you and those serving next to you. You depend on each other, utterly, for survival.
On Saturday, May 10, Military Pagans will be honored at the yearly Beltania Festival in Colorado’s Florence Mountain Park nestled in the Rocky Mountains. Special guest Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary will be leading a Military Service Ceremony that honors “Pagans who are serving or who have served in the US Military.”
In 2011 Rev. Fox, Pagan Air Force veteran Rev. Dave Sassman and others on Circle’s Military Ministry team developed a special tribute ritual. They also designed and produced a symbolic ribbon to be awarded to each individual during the ceremony. At the ribbon’s center is an acorn sitting in a blue field surrounded by six red and white stripes. Circle Sanctuary explains the symbolism:
The Golden Acorn represents Paganism and the enduring power, strength, protection and magic of the Oak, held sacred by many Wiccan, Druidic, Heathen and other Pagan traditions.