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ATHENS, Tenn. – The Wayist Druid public Samhain ritual was successful despite threats of mass protest and violence. Due to threats the week before, the city posted warning notices to citizens that stated that it was illegal to disturb or interfere with any person or event that had been giving a permit. According to ritual host Archdruid Angela Wilson, Saturday’s event attracted more than 250 people. She said, “I want to personally thank everyone for coming yesterday it was a beautiful thing.”

Although the ritual was held successfully, protesters did gather across the street. Local news channel 9 reported that a group of people stood outside the McMinn County Courthouse, watching the ritual from a distance. The reporter wrote that one pastor said that he was there to pray for the participants, not protest. Additionally, there was reportedly brief interference from a woman who identifies as Pagan. According to various accounts, Christina Anne, as she is known on social media, was upset that one of Wilson’s student’s wore a Yoda mask in ritual.  Christina Anne reportedly came up behind Wilson at the start of the ceremony to voice her objection. Wilson had to ask her to leave, and others escorted her out of the fenced-in area. The police reportedly would not let her back in.  Christina Anne posted about the account on the Channel 9’s Facebook page. She says that the use of Star Wars costumes during a Druid ritual is “a mockery of her religion.”

Outside of that one brief disruption, the event continued without any further problems. Wilson says she will definitely do this again.

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TWH — Gods & Radicals, an online Pagan blogging site, has been faced with a difficult decision after one of its popular writers, Sean Donahue, was accused of sexual misconduct.  On Oct. 26, the site editors published a statement saying that they will no longer be publishing Donahue’s articles, and they will remove all of those on the site. The statement reads in part,”…because the presence of his previous essays on our website could be construed as tacit support of his alleged actions, we will be making these unavailable after 1 November, 2018 until resolution (if any) is found.”

Donahue has reportedly been accused of multiple counts of sexual misconduct.  The specifics are unclear; however, the fact that there have been allegations made is becoming more publicly known. At the same time, Gods & Radicals statement and other reports note that the parties involved are attempting to reach a resolution, including the use of restorative justice techniques. Donahue himself responded to allegations publicly on Facebook., including an apology and statement saying that he alone is responsible for what happened. Gods & Radicals editors did note that they are watching the situation and will restore the removed articles if the resolution should prove favorable for all involved.

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DETROIT — Stan Newcombe was named 2018 Michigan Pagan of Year by the board of the Michigan Witches’ Ball. The board writes, “Newcombe has been working with others in the Pagan community since 2003. What started out as meet and greets at local restaurants ended up with [Newcombe] taking over the Mid-Michigan Pagan Picnic in Mount Pleasant.” Newcombe eventually founded The Wolf Run Wildlife and Spiritual Sanctuary, LLC. (WRWSS) in 2006. He first ran one event each year but then expanded. In 2009, he incorporated and offered more activities. According to the site, “Wolf Run is visited by hundreds of people from all over the state during these events.” Most recently, Wolf Run will be taking over management of the Michigan Pagan Scholarship awards.

The board wrote,”Through hard work and determination Stan has been able to bring many groups together. The community means a lot to Stan. He will continue to work on making the reach of WRWSS extend as far as he can to make the vision of becoming a major hub for networking and communication between the Pagan communities in Michigan become a reality.” The board awards this honor to one person per year on Samhain. Previous winners include Bill Ehle, Arwen Starda, Kenya Coviak, Jacki Smith, Micheal Wiggins, and David “Merlyn” Trexlar.

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LAS VEGAS — October 1 marked the one year anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting. In honor of those that died on that tragic night, Bishop George Leo Thomas of the Catholic diocese of Las Vegas hosted an interfaith service at the Guardian Angel Cathedral on the Strip. One of the faith leaders invited was Cherry Hill Seminary’s current academic dean Candace Kant. According to reports, there were more than a dozen interfaith leaders and more than 200 attendees at the service. Three survivors spoke about their experiences, and after each one, a faith leader shared a message. Rev. Kant spoke of healing.

Kant, who recently took over as academic dean of CHS, is a priestess of the Temple of Goddess spirituality and devotee of Sekhmet. Kant is also a longtime Nevada resident. She told The Wild Hunt, “Speaking at a memorial service in Las Vegas commemorating the October 1, 2017 shooting, I wanted to send a message of healing and hope. I encouraged surrounding ourselves with compassion, and turned to the elements for their messages of peace, hope, and healing.”

In Other News: Season of the Witch edition

  • “Witches” paddle down the Willamette River, as reported by a number of Oregon news outlets. This is not a Pagan event. This is a public Halloween gathering in its second year. It is coordinated by yoga instructor Ginny Kauffman. The Facebook event page invites people who are paddle board enthusiasts to dress up in spooky black to celebrate on the river. The event has garnered lots of attention complete with aerial photos of 100s of “witches” on paddleboards.
  • The Huffington Post shares the story of one woman who turned to Witchcraft for healing. Haylin Belay says in the video report that “Magic is a practice for the oppressed.” She discusses how it has helped to heal from her own traumas, and embrace who she is in this world.
  • According to Variety, the production designer for the new Netflix series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a practicing Witch. The Variety also notes that Loper has said that each character is linked a tarot card. While there has been praise for the edgy new show, some modern witches are unhappy with the link being made between witchcraft and a Dark Lord” and a “Dark Baptism.” We have reached out to Loper and have not heard back as of publication.
  • Times, they are a changing. After video game developer Atom Universe published a Halloween Facebook post that read “Witches aren’t exactly civil. They curse people and worship evil! Happy spooktacular Halloween,” they were immediately corrected. Publicly, one Facebook user wrote, “Uh… They may want to reword this post. Members of the Wicca religion could end up giving them an ear full. Just a friendly warning from a customer.”  Another one, identifying as Wiccan, said, “Let’s see how my fellow wiccans, pagans and witches take to this as being a joke.” Atom Universe’s social media writer responded immediately, apologizing for offending anyone. They changed the post. It now reads, “Witch-ing you a Spook-tacular Halloween!”

Tarot of the week with Star Bustamonte

Deck: The Halloween Tarot by Karin Lee, art by Kipling West, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Card: Ten(10) of Pumpkins

The week ahead would seem to portend a bountiful and rewarding time, as well as projects being completed with satisfaction. There are riches to be gained for those willing to put forth the effort of doing of the necessary work. This may be particularly evident when it comes to community gatherings or groups.