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.
When the Sacred Harvest Festival was finished, the first thing I noticed while wandering through the airport was how strange it was that nobody was in a sarong. Or naked. Or drumming. It was a shock to my system, all these pants and suits. Pagan culture is sensory, and visceral, and delightfully messy.
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 guess I should take this as confirmation that I was on the right track with my recent article on the world “paganism” being increasingly used as a slur. Political snark-blog Wonkette notices all the “pagan” talk too, most recently evidenced by Fox News Analyst Liz Trotta. Quote: “The only place where “paganism” seems to be making real gains, of course, is in wingnut rhetoric.
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. The Pagan Federation in the UK is challenging the Charity Commission in a tribunal hearing after the organization was denied charitable status. Quote: “A Charity Commission spokeswoman said it was denied charitable status as the basis of its beliefs are too loosely defined to constitute a religion, as understood in charity law […] A Pagan Federation spokesman told civilsociety.co.uk that it was appealing to the Charity Tribunal as it believes it missed the Commission’s criteria by “only a hair’s breath” and wants the opportunity to explain its organisation better.” In 2010 The Druid Network had its charitable status approved, the first Druid organization to be so recognized.
Right now the United States is immersed in a flurry of political wrangling, our two major parties wrapping up, or about to begin, major conventions that they hope will sell their candidate to an increasingly disaffected electorate. For those of us who exist on the margins of America’s tapestry of faith and religion, it can seem doubly alienating. A celebration of what we are not. Certainly there have been inroads, the Republican National Convention invited a Sikh to give an opening invocation (albeit one you could only see on C-SPAN), and the Democratic National Convention has enshrined marriage equality in their national platform, but for the most part these events are exercises in affirming a certain bland, comfortable, (mostly) non-controversial all-American idiom (from different political lenses, to be sure). They are not, despite what activists from both sides desire, moments that dare confront or change the status quo.