Pagan Community Notes: Martin Luther King Jr., Isaac Herrera, Wicked Grounds, and more

UNITED STATES —  On this day each year, the U.S. honors Martin Luther King Jr. Public schools, government offices, and many businesses are closed in order to recognize his work and sacrifice, as well as the staggering influence that his message has had on American society. Many Pagans, Heathens and polytheists across the country participate in local activities, both small and large, and privately in ritual to recognize Dr. King and his influence. In honor of this day, we publish these timeless words written by King in 1963 in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which has since become the focal point of an artist’s 2018 meme: “I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Accusations of abuse surface against ADF founder Isaac Bonewits

TWH – In her newly-published book The Last Closet: the Dark Side of Avalon, author Marion Zimmer Bradley’s daughter, Moira Greyland, offers a tell-all account of her harrowing and abusive experience growing up, including how she eventually came forward and put her own father, Walter Breen, in jail. Included in those detailed and difficult accounts are accusations that ADF founder Isaac Bonewits, who died in 2010, participated in the sexual abuse. “When I was at Greyhaven I had some unfortunate run-ins with an individual from the Pagan community someone named Isaac Bonewits,” Greyland writes. “Some people called him the Pagan pope […] I hated Isaac, and refused to be in the same room with him, even if the only way I could articulate my objections to him was to say ‘he tickled me.'” (Chapter 13)  Greyland recalls being six years old. Greyland then goes on to recall in non-specific terms the sexual abuse.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, Abuse, and Cautionary Tales

[Trigger Warning: This post discusses the sexual abuse of children.]
When I first embraced modern Paganism I read “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and it was considered essential reading by many Pagans I met at that time. Plus, in the pre-Internet age this revisionist Arthurian drama that introduced feminist and Pagan themes was widely rumored to be written by someone who was, if not Pagan herself, deeply enmeshed with individuals from the Pagan community (and this turned out to be true). So, as a consequence, Pagans widely considered Bradley to be “one of us.” This was further reinforced more recently when I started interacting with the West Coast Pagan scene, and various individuals would privately tell me about their own interactions with the author. When Bradley died in 1999, few could deny the huge impact she had, down to the individuals who tattooed themselves as the priestesses and priests did in “Mists.”