INDIANAPOLIS — A panel about Paganism was organized at the university here, and appears to be have a success in terms of raising awareness about these minority religions. According to Rev. Dave Sassman of Circle Sanctuary, one of the participants, it included the only known Pagan affiliated with the school — associate profession Caron MacPherson — and had 40 to 50 people in attendance. Basic information such as the extremely wide variety of traditions that might be lumped together as “Pagan,” as well as dispelling stereotypes along the lines of human sacrifice were covered; panelists also shared something from their personal religious journeys. According to Sassman, “Only one Pagan was known on campus at the beginning of the panel, but by the end there were two,” as one student in attendance came forward. In his eyes, that’s a success in itself. * * *
TWH – The Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA), a national Heathen group based in California, was placed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 2017 list of hate groups.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Mary Hudson made waves when she became the second Pagan chaplain at a higher education institution in the United States, continuing a service that began with the advising the Syracuse University student Pagan club. Two years after that chaplaincy appointment, Hudson decided to attend the Global Conference for Chaplains in Higher Education, which was being held at Yale that year. Unfortunately, the experience left a decidedly bad taste in her mouth, which she shared with the conference organizers. They took her feedback to heart, and asked her to return this year as a presenter. Hudson would like very much to return to the conference to do so.
TWH — Chaplains tend to work in places where religious needs are felt strongly: military bases, prisons, hospitals. In the past, The Wild Hunt has spotlighted some of the work of Pagan prison and military chaplains, but it is the hospital chaplains that most people are likely to encounter at some point in their lives. As the need for Pagan Chaplains grow, more people are doing this very specialized work. Cherry Hill Seminary, a Pagan-specific learning institution, and other interfaith-based seminaries have well-established programs and classes that train people in this area. We reached out to a number of Pagans who work are working as chaplains in the health care field, and we received responses from four members of Circle Sanctuary.
In 2010 Syracuse University’s Henricks Chapel formally appointed a Pagan Chaplain, making Syracuse the second American university to appoint such a position. The University of Southern Maine (UME) set the precedent way back in 2002. Syracuse was next in 2010 followed by the Air Force Academy (USAFA) in 2011. More than three years have passed since Syracuse welcomed Pagan Chaplain, Mary Hudson. In that time she has accomplished much; most recently, the installation of a dedicated sacred stone circle in the campus’ main quad. Prior to 2010 Syracuse had already taken steps to advocate for religious plurality and tolerance.
Yesterday, Pagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary announced the launch of a new program, Pagan Life Academy, a series of low-cost lessons designed to bring Pagan values, ethics, and ritual to incarcerated Pagans. In explaining the rationale behind this new initiative, Executive Director Holli Emore said that “the prison experience can be a cauldron of transformation for many” and that they “hope that the newly-launched Pagan Life Academy will inspire others to design additional lessons and contribute to the series.” “For years and years, incarcerated Pagans across the country have been writing CHS to ask, no plead, for instructional materials. About three years ago I was talking to Patrick McCollum about prison ministry and he suggested that one of the best things we could do as a learning institution was to create a set of lessons. He advised that they should be printed to mail and be very low cost (most inmates work, but make only cents per hour and must buy most of their own toiletries). Meanwhile, the letters continued to come.
Several of our faculty raised their hand when I inquired about interest in working on such a project. This would be a labor of love, and it would mean learning about culture and systems largely unfamiliar to most of us. Several times we thought we were close to releasing a series, then were advised by someone closer to the penal systems to make changes. We are greatly indebted to Selina Rifkin, who created the concept for eight written lessons and wrote each of them, and who formally transferred her copyright to CHS as a gift. We also owe deep gratitude to Candace Kant, who began the process initially, to Annie Finch, who contributed a number of ritual chants, and, especially, to Wendy Griffin, who spent many hours as editor and advisor. Thank you, all, for your caring, and for contributing your talent to this growing, though out of sight, need in our community.” Each lesson and ritual costs $5, and is structured around the 8-spoked Wiccan/Pagan “wheel of the year.” Though the lessons are written so that they can be adapted to as wide a range of Pagan traditions as possible.