Column: Pagans Fight LNG Port Construction in NYC

[The following is a guest post by Courtney Weber. Courtney Weber is a Wiccan Priestess, writer, Tarot Adviser, and teacher living in New York City. She runs open events in Manhattan and teaches workshops on Witchcraft from coast to coast. Photography in this article is courtesy of George Courtney.]

Warning: This Post Contains a Scary Movie, a Scary Monster, and New Yorkers. (But also cupcakes.)

Six months ago, I organized an event that ended with weepy Witches fleeing the room. I showed a film, which should have come with a trigger warning: “Empaths beware: This film will break your heart chakras.”

The film was Gasland, the documentary exposing the dangers of hydraulic fracturing (“Fracking”) for natural gas extraction.

Unleash the Hounds! (No Fooling Edition)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. I know it’s April 1st, and thus, April Fools day in the land of journalism, but I promise we’ll keep the fooling to an absolute minimum. Let’s start with the religious origins of April Fool’s Day traditions, which the Religion News Service explores. Quote: “Some argue that April Fools’ Day is a remnant of early ‘renewal festivals,’ which typically marked the end of winter and the start of spring. These festivals, according to the Museum of Hoaxes, typically involved ‘ritualized forms of mayhem and misrule.’ Participants donned disguises, played tricks on friends as well as strangers, and inverted the social order.” 
The Associated Press checks in with the town of Greece in New York, as the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s decision regarding prayer at government meetings.

Maetreum of Cybele Win Tax Fight

The Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater, which has been in an ongoing battle with the Town of Catskill, New York, over religious property tax exemptions, was today vindicated in their multi-year struggle when a State Supreme Court ruling against them on this issue was overturned on appeal. The decision, which was issued on Thursday by the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Divsion, says the religious organization “satisfied the legal requirements in order to receive a real property tax exemption.” “The testimony established that the Cybeline Revival stresses communal living among its adherents, as well as providing hospitality and charity to those in need, and the members consider this property the home of their faith […] They also conduct religious and charitable activities throughout the property on a regular basis. Accordingly, petitioner has satisfied the legal requirements in order to receive a real property tax exemption for 2009, 2010 and 2011 […] Lahtinen, J.P., Spain and Egan Jr., JJ., concur. ORDERED that the order is reversed, on the law, with costs, petitions granted, and determinations of the Board of Assessment Review for the Town of Catskill denying petitioner’s applications for real property tax exemptions for 2009, 2010 and 2011 annulled.”

The Supreme Court Case With A Wiccan Angle

The Supreme Court of the United States opened a new term this week, and America’s highest court will be hearing a number of “weighty” cases that could have far-reaching implications. “There isn’t one single blockbuster case on the docket, as in recent Supreme Court terms, but the high court will consider a number of weighty issues. The nine justices will hear cases dealing with campaign finance, abortion, prayer in government, presidential power, affirmative action, and housing discrimination.” One of those cases, Town of Greece v. Galloway, which involves prayers given before government meetings, is one that I’ve been paying very close attention to. One, the stakes for the ruling are very high, and could change the way prayer before government functions are approached.

Bruce Alex Skidmore aka Zan Fraser 1964 – 2013

[I was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Zan Fraser, a fixture in the New York Pagan scene who was a regular contributor to The Juggler, a culture-oriented Pagan blog I had initiated, and one of my main go-to sources for news from his community. I’m pleased to run this tribute assembled by Brian Brewer, Chris Goffredo, Michael Lloyd, Paul Patton, Bruce and Kay Skidmore, Gary Suto, and Courtney Weber. With photos by Brian Brewer, George Courtney, and Gary Suto.]

Summerland gained a true jewel this past week and the Pagan community at large suffered a great loss in the crossing over of Bruce Alex Skidmore, aka Zan Fraser, aka Puck. The tie-dyed, impish-grinned fixture of the New York and national Pagan communities received a packed and emotional tribute on Tuesday, September 17th at the LGBT Center in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. A gorgeous collage of ecstatic dance, cathartic chant, stories, sonnets, laughter, and solemnity in memory of the man who was remembered for dancing effortlessly between the worlds he walked.