Column: A Pilgrim at Stonehenge

Pagan Perspectives

My suitcase is an antique, a big red leather monster. It doesn’t do anything that modern luggage is supposed to do. Suitcases today have wheels and collapsible handles, so that there’s no difference between carrying one change of pants or twenty. Mine doesn’t have that, and I kind of like it that way. Suitcases are meant to be picked up and carried, hefted with one’s own arms and back.

Ban on a Morris Dance tradition splits opinion in England

SHROPSHIRE, England — A row has erupted after the organisers of the Shrewsbury Folk Festival (SFF) decided to ban morris dancers from wearing blackface at this year’s event. The annual festival is one of the biggest of its kind in England, and it celebrates folk music and traditions from across the UK and farther afield. A morris dancing contingent is customary. However, this year’s costuming tradition must be changed due to the ban precipitated by an equality campaign group, Fairness and Racial Equality in Shropshire (FRESh). Festival director Sandra Sutrees said, “After last year’s festival, the event was accused of racial harassment and threatened with legal action by FRESh, following performances by morris sides wearing full-face black make-up in the town centre.” In a statement, the organisers of SFF further stressed, “The festival finds itself caught between two sides of this opposing argument and believe that this is a national issue that should not be focused solely on SFF.”

Morris is a traditional English dance, others of which include sword and clog dancing. Some Morris sides, especially what is known as border morris, (so called as it is a dancing style that originates from the Welsh border counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire) paint their faces black.

RIP Mary Daly and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: Word is now emerging that pioneering feminist theologian Mary Daly passed away yesterday, after suffering from poor health for the last two years. With books like 1973’s “Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation”, Daly became hugely influential on the then-emerging field of feminist theology, and in turn, hugely influential on certain strains of modern Paganism in America. “The Goddess Movement would not be the same without her. Contemporary Paganism would not be the same without the Goddess Movement. The radical essentialism of thinkers like Daly was a challenge to the pole that said “only men can communicate with the divine”.

The Rise of (Pagan) Wassailing

While most American Pagans are already looking towards Imbolc,  Lupercalia (or Valentines Day) and the Spring holidays, England is still finishing up their Winter observances, specifically the wassailing of trees. Timed around the old Epiphany feasts, this Anglo-Saxon tradition is undergoing a revival of sorts, with participants aware and comfortable with the pagan history of this event. It was the second Wassail held at the orchard, which is run by volunteers. Events co-ordinator Yvette Grindley told the Mail: “The ceremony has certainly worked for us in the past. “We got a bumper harvest the year of the floods, even though we lost 10 per cent of the trees, and last year we also got a great harvest because of all the rain, with apples as big as saucers.