All the latest witchy news from around the world. On this page you can find the latest news and relevant information for Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, Druids, Heathens and all walks of the Pagan Community.
It is with great regret that we announce the passing of Raymond Buckland, an elder of the craft who will be sorely missed. His importance to the growth of both Wicca and Paganism cannot be overstated as he introduced Wicca into America in 1964, ultimately leading to the massive growth in the community there and elsewhere. He went on to write around sixty books that have been translated into seventeen languages, further extending his influence around the world. He has been a spokesperson for the craft in America for over five decades. Our sympathy and best wishes go to his family and friends at this difficult time.
Blessings from everyone at Children of Artemis,
may his spirit find it’s way into the Summerlands
- Column: 11 Influential Pagans of Color – a Discussion
There is something about a list in this culture: lists for best movies, most popular songs, best quotes of the year, best places to visit, most memorable books of the year. These are just a few of the many lists that are created in today’s culture every year. It is no wonder that the creation of lists are something that has also become a “thing” within the over-culture of Paganism as well.
While we normally see the publication of these lists at the end of the calendar year, 2018 brought us a list early, starting conversations before the shifting of seasons begins.
Everyone has been talking about the most recent list published on the Patheos Pagan blog Raise the Horns. This list of the 25 most influential living Pagans was Jason Mankey’s personal reflection of people he identifies as inspiring in the Pagan culture. We have seen different Pagan writers do similar lists within Pagandom, and this one gathered a bit of buzz on the internet and follow up responses. The comments on his blog are full of individuals responding with people they feel were missed, with some commenters outlining their own lists. (Jaime Gironés published his own list of the 15 most influential Pagans in Mexico in The Wild Hunt last week.)
The Wild Hunt published one of the first versions of such lists in a 2004 post; it has since become a type of cultural snapshot that is often used to solidify the “who’s who” of the Pagan community.
Over the years of watching the publications of similar lists, it has become apparent that the celebrity culture of our community continues to thrive, which often leaves the margins of Paganism to be ignored or overlooked. Like in larger over-culture, what gets the most attention is usually what appeals to the larger populations and not to the fringes. With a few exceptions, this is the category that people of color fall into within a largely Eurocentric culture.
While this mirrors the construct of larger society, it means that we just might miss some of the amazing talents and gifts of others on this journey. One of the ways that we can shift this popular paradigm within our community is to create spaces to celebrate the voices within the margins and to engage in conversations about the variety of talents within our interconnected communities.
One of the enlightening phenomena of list-creating is the amazing impact it has on the those that read them: it can provoke people to think about their own influences, mentors, and experiences that best represent their own journeys. For all the reasons that people want representation, these lists evoke all kinds of feelings within the people that read them. It is not uncommon for individuals to be upset, angry, excited, inspired, frustrated, or even embarrassed by lists that do not reflect the many different areas of Paganism that they feel are important.
This most recent list has not been any different than those created in the past. Social media comments exploded when Mankey’s latest list was published. Mankey invited his audience to contribute to his personal list, and some people felt there were some necessary contributions to be made.
Questions that surface whenever such lists are published usually go something like this: where are the people of color? The young leaders? The African Traditional Religions? Those who aren’t so-called “Big Name Pagans?” Where are the activists?
As a contribution to this evolving conversation, I would like to explore some of the immensely talented people of color that have added a lot of influential magic to our greater community. This list will not give a resume of each person, but hopes to hit some points of how they have continued to be an inspiration to our interconnected Pagan and Polytheistic paths.
Some are unknown in the larger Pagan community: many are not published, and some prefer to be behind the scenes. In picking names to add to this list, being “known” was not a primary factor at all. Being powerful, influential, and within the margins of this community were some of the primary elements that put them here.
Elena RoseElena Rose’s contributions to the community are numerous. From her local work at PantheaCon, her community-level work within communities across the country, and her interfaith work in various communities, Elena keeps busy. She has been a board member of Solar Cross Temple since 2015, and she is now the Deputy Executive Director for Trans Lifeline, a crisis hotline for trans people in need of immediate support. The Trans Lifeline website cites Elena as having “an M.Div. from the Graduate Theological Union, focused on social justice and community care work, and [she] was ordained as a minister by the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, a historic interfaith civil-rights congregation in San Francisco.” She is a performer, writer and lecturer. Some of her most profound work has been her study and writing related to the role of the monsters in society and how that impacts the most vulnerable in our communities. Her lectures on this at PantheaCon have been pure brilliance.
Haitian Vodou Priestess, Witch, rootworker, diviner, teacher, healer and outstanding shop owner, “Big Liz” continues to be an inspiring woman in the Pagan scene. Not only is she a no-nonsense practitioner, she is also down to earth and about her business. From providing 101 Hoodoo classes to teaching intensive courses in rootwork and magic, she consistently contributes to the community in very tangible ways. She is also the public relations representative for Dawtas of the Moon, a convention for women of color priestesses and Witches in Baltimore, Maryland.
Here is the thing about Big Liz: she is unafraid to speak her mind and advocate for right action in the middle of chaos. As a Black woman in the Craft, she gracefully straddles the line between authentically holding many paths of worship and speaking truth to power about the needs of holding space for the intersectional paths of our skinfolk. This kind of integrity is a constant reminder of the importance of being true to oneself and to those in one’s community. (Her oils are also out-of-this-world fantastic.)
Katrina Messenger’s website describes her as a “Poet, Priestess, Warrior, and Witch”, and I couldn’t agree more. Katrina has an impressive resume of magical contributions and professional work; she is known as one of the most powerful practitioners and elders within many spaces. Katrina’s work within the realm of mythology, ritual and trance work have been a huge contribution to the practices of many spiritually-minded people. Her website also identifies her as “a radical feminist of African, Cherokee & Irish descent,” and “a refugee from the communist, labor, feminist, and black nationalist movements of old.” She has taught in various convention rooms all over the nation, and also in her Reflections Mystery School. What I personally will always remember of her was the sense of coming home I felt when I had the opportunity to share space with her.
Katrina has a keen ability to integrate history, ancestral knowledge, magical training, and intensive energy working to channel and control the emotional and passionate energy of justice magic like no one else I have never seen. I sat in a room with Katrina during a restorative justice circle at PantheaCon and watched her wield the highly charged energy of this Black Lives Matter circle into powerful healing magic. There are many reasons she would be on a list of influential Pagans; for me, it boils down to some of the most powerful energy channeling I have ever experienced.
Luna PanteraThis priestess, tarot reader, trained ancestral healer, and activist has been an elder in the Pagan scene for a long time. She has been in activist circles from all sides of the feminist, Pagan, and justice movements within the Bay Area and beyond. Working across many traditions of Paganism, ancestor, and Orisha work, Luna has been a staple of many circles. Her work of integrating many different elements of magic and threading a path to the ancestors has been truly inspiring for many Pagans of color who have continued to find this often challenging thread in their own practice. Let me tell you, Luna can read you when you walk in the room. Talk about a no bullshit, fierce warrior woman!
A “two-headed” conjure woman, empath, activist, herbalist, Druid priestess, Yogi practitioner, and all-around power house, Beverley has been a part of the Pagan community for a long time. Known as the “Spiritual Gangsta” online, she embodies the power of the ancestors in presence and in voice. One of the things I find most inspirational about her is the unapologetic power she holds in her fight for those who are the most targeted in society. Whether online, on her podcast, or in the halls of any convention, she is unafraid to stand up against oppression, racism, and discrimination in any form. On the 2018 Big Apple Conjure Gala website, Beverley’s bio states “She has a soft spot for sex workers, dancers, gamblers, and all those who are discriminated against in any way.”
This woman’s magic is often beyond words or explanation. It is the kind of magic that taps into the root of all things necessary and pulls from every corner of the world. She isn’t just another magic worker: she has her own distinct ability to weave magic and justice work into a powerful element of magical intervention. Jacki works several angles of activism with heart and professionalism. She is a licensed clinical social worker in her day job and carries that same passion into her fight for justice in her spiritual practice. From the front line of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Jacki was one of the people using her magic to protect protestors in harm’s way from militarized police forces during one of the most intense times of this generation. From her frontline work as a priestess to her counseling in support of those in immediate need, Jacki embodies the understanding of what it means to use magic in every action. Her use of sacred workings at the site of Michael Brown’s death humbled me to my core and inspired me not to hide during a time that was painful and scary. As an Indigenous woman she holds a balance between her ancestral magic and her Pagan practice to aid in the highest level of healing support for others.
Mama Omi and Dawtas of the Moon ConventionMama Omi has done what no one else has done in our time. She has created and sustained a convention for Black women and other women of color who are Pagan practitioners to celebrate and learn from one another. The distinct challenge of this path as a woman of color is often forgotten in largely Eurocentric Pagan circles. Mama Omi took the initiative to create a path forward for many women who are looking to connect and learn from other women of color Witches. The first convention happened in October of 2018, attracting more than 200 women to the sacred space.
Mama Omi, receiving a message from the elders in her dreams, didn’t wait for a path to be created for her; she created a path herself.
Current branch president of the Norwich NAACP, Dianne Daniels is using her magic in some of the most powerful ways imaginable. A Pagan, political activist, and religious scholar, Dianne is actively crushing stereotypes of Paganism within the Black community while fighting for equity and justice in a very structured way. Publicly being a face of the NAACP also does something incredible for the Pagan community: it opens up the narrow box of the roles that people play while being an ethnic minority and Pagan. This type of power in her political position directly links activism, justice, spirituality, and civil rights magic in a very public way.
Editor-in-chief of the Pagan Business Network, blogger, and journalist, Kenya Coviak is powerful with her deeds and her words. She is the “creator behind Detroit Conjure and Folk Magic Festival,” a two-day festival centered in Michigan. Kenya is a wordsmith who uses language to create a magic that you can feel and taste. She also gets things done. She is a woman of action – willing to step forward and fill voids within the community. In a blog titled “Brown eyes like mine – thoughts about a festival about Detroit’s magic,” Kenya discusses the creation of the Detroit Conure and Folk Magic Festival. Her work describing the need to see brown eyes “like mine” resonates deeply with me, mirroring the experiences of many Pagans of color I know.
Meanwhile, the whole way home, my eyes were filled with tears. I mean, lay my face in my hands, tears. Why? Because it filled my heart so deep and hard with how much I miss seeing my people, seeing other brown faces, breathing the same air as I do as we speak of things that make the impossible happen.
It struck me like a bell. I have never been to an event in Detroit like this event will be. I thought I made this event for several reasons, but maybe it was really about reunion. A Black magical family reunion.
The city is so spread out now. The only spaces and faces that gather together that I travel are filled with good and honorable people. But there are so few that are like mine, that when I see them, it is like filling a cup and drinking deeply when you didn’t even know you were thirsty.”
Elder and a founder of the New York City Wiccan Family Temple and WitchsFest USA. WitchsFest USA just had its seventh year in the heart of New York City, celebrating the amazing magic of that community as a streetfaire-style event. Starr has a long history of training, teaching, and community organizing. Her WitchsFest draws some notable teachers and presenters, and has become a staple of the New York community.
Some of his most inspirational work over the last few years has been found in his writings, teachings, and discussions around decolonizing spiritual practice. The complexity of decolonization alone is one of full of twists, turns, and unfolding and enmeshed concepts; add Paganism to this mix and we have a necessary and abundantly diverse array of discussions to muddle through. Lou’s dedication to unraveling themes of appropriation, colonization and spiritual integrity is beyond inspiring.
The reality is that this list could go on and on, which could be surprising to some, since there always remains a perception that there are not a lot of people of color within Paganism. The truth is that one just has to know where to look. We are everywhere, we are talented, we are inspirational, and we are doing some incredible magic in the world.
I could have easily added amazing Pagans of color such as Michele Jackson, Heaven Walker, Clio Ajana, Black Witch, Yvonne Conway, Janet Callahan, Ivo Dominguez, Jr., Szmeralda Shanel, Nadirah Adeye, Heathen Chinese, Lilith Dorsey, Lakeesha Harris, and many more.
What I would like to see this list do is not notate the who’s who of Paganism, but instead to disrupt the concept that our most influential representatives of Paganism fall into any one category. We are a microcosm of a greater society, and therefore we have a lot of incredible individuals that fall into many segments in that intersectional society. It is with that vastness that we get to embrace so many different types of people on many differing journeys.
Moving beyond the over-culture of what has been Pagan perception, it is on us to go outside of the boundaries that have become the norm and seek people who bring more diversity of experience, thought, and being to our collective group-mind.
While we are all inspired by many different aspects of life, we can all work hard to make sure that we are inclusive in the areas that are often forgotten or hidden.
To all the people on all the lists, the power to inspire others is a true service to the gods, ancestors, and our community. I thank everyone for continuing to share of themselves with others.
As for those on this list, I am always grateful for the opportunity to learn, grow, and be inspired by those who share an ancestral likeness to mine. It is a blessing.
May we all continue to identify all the things and people who inspire us, and may we all continue to stretch ourselves to look outside of the box.
* * *
The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.Read more »
- Katy Perry accused of stealing song, turning it Pagan
ST. LOUIS –Pop music star Katy Perry may be going to trial over allegations she used a Christian hip-hop composition as the basis of her 2014 hit, “Dark Horse.” The artists behind the 2007 piece entitled “Joyful Noise” not only say Perry used it without permission, but that she “irreparably tarnished” their work by associating it with Pagan imagery in her music video. The judge in the case thinks it’s close enough that it’s worth having jurors make the call.The song “Joyful Noise” was created by Marcus Gray (Flame), Lecrae Moore, Emanuel Lambert, and Chike Ojukwu in 2007; it was published the following year. The song was nominated for a Dove award, and the album on which it’s included — “Our World: Redeemed” — nabbed a couple of nominations, including one for a Grammy.
According to the filed legal papers, “by any measure, the devoutly religious message of Joyful Noise has been irreparably tarnished by its association with the witchcraft, paganism, black magic, and Illuminati imagery evoked by the same music in Dark Horse. Indeed, the music video of Dark Horse generated widespread accusations of blasphemy and an online petition signed by more than 60,000 demanding removal of an offensive religious image from the video.”
The “offensive religious image” cited in the filed papers was of a necklace bearing a symbol for Allah that turned to dust, along with the man wearing it. In addition, the Pagan imagery, “especially in the music video” as noted in the papers, creates what amounts to a public-relations problem for the Christian artists, because the alleged similarity creates “a false association between the music of Joyful Noise” and the aforementioned esoteric elements.
Ironically perhaps, Perry also offended some Pagans when she performed her song at Grammy award show in 2014. That performance included witch-burning imagery that some considered disrespectful. At the time Michelle Mueller wrote a Wild Hunt guest column about the issue, saying, ” I didn’t mind the references to witch-burning because it seemed she was identifying with the motif of the martyr or the persecuted witch. . . . others find the performance offensive because Perry may have been making light of atrocities towards women and healers.”
Attorneys for Perry and others named in the suit, including Capitol Records and five individuals who share authorship credit with Perry, maintain that the beat and melody couldn’t have been copied, because they never would have heard such an obscure song. “Joyful Noise” creators say that 3 million hits on YouTube is nothing to sneer at, but Perry’s lawyers have responded by effectively sneering at it.
Perry was a Christian music singer first, before she entered the wider pop world. Her 2001 eponymous Katy Hudson was critically successful but not commercially. She moved into secular music not long after that; she has since described herself as a New Age adherent. The disconnect might explain way this incident is reported on some Christ-centered sites.Read more »
- HexFest 2018 met with protests from Catholic groups
NEW ORLEANS – HexFest 2018 was met with street protests Saturday for the first time in its four year history. Conservative Catholics lined the streets in front of St. Louis Cathedral to join an action coordinated by TFP Student Action, a division of American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. They held up religious symbols, recited prayers, played bagpipes, and waved signs in protest. One sign read, “Catholics reject satanic HexFest” and another read, “Do not permit Witchcraft and the occult to trample our Catholic heritage.”The conflict began in July, nearly a month before the event, when a call-to-action flyer was published on the Catholic website SpiritDaily. This call to action was written by Cynthia Hemelt, a member of St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Metairie, which is a nearby suburb of New Orleans.
Hemelt wrote, “Please help us pray for the end of all witchcraft and occult practices and rituals that offend God and that the HexFest will be stopped, all rituals be rendered useless, and that the evil one may be thwarted in his efforts to lead souls astray.” The flyer goes on to describe the protest action, which was organized to be a series of prayer circles at the Metairie church held during the same weekend as HexFest, Aug. 10-12.
Hemelt’s call did not mention protesting at the festival site itself.
When co-organizer Christian Day was alerted to the prayer action, he contacted Reverend Christian DeLerno, Jr., the priest listed on the flyer. In an email message, Day objected to what he called “incendiary language.”
He told the Wild Hunt, “I also let him know that, just as they don’t want to be represented by the worst of Catholicism, whether it be criminal laity or abusive priests, Witches don’t want to be held accountable for every crazy person that decides to use the word Witch as a descriptor and that we do not have a Satan or an evil god in our religion.”
Day added that he believes that this communication toward reconciliation “could be a great win for mutual understanding between representatives of two faiths.”
DeLerno responded cordially, admitting that he was, in fact, involved in coordinating the prayer action. However, he said that church officials did not agree with Hemelt’s wording and that he had spoken to her about the issue. DeLerno added, “On my part, I am also sorry this came about. My only hope was to have our people pray for what we perceive to be an offense against God in the first commandment where God asks to be the one everyone chooses to love first.”
Day did not agree with DeLerno’s perspective, saying to the Wild Hunt, “Regardless of whether that email was only sent to other Catholics, it still brands us demonic for worshiping other gods when they do not use the word demonic to describe Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Native Americans, or other religious groups who do not honor the first commandment.”
Despite that point, the two Christians, by name only, ended their conversation cordially, and the issue seemed to be put to rest.
At HexFest itself, the issue of protest was raised again. Saturday morning, attendees staying at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel woke up to find a protest flyer under their hotel room door:The flyer, while not claimed by any organization, was allegedly distributed Friday night and appears to come from Catholic conservatives with the same concerns as Hemelt. Day said that he believes that the flyer was delivered to every room in hotel. However, the hotel general manager did not respond for comment by press time to confirm.
When Day was alerted to the distribution, he immediately contacted DeLerno again, writing in an email: “Because of your church’s missive of hate, someone—possibly someone from your church—left the following flyer underneath every hotel room door in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. This [is] harassment.”
DeLerno responded, denying any and all connections or knowledge of the letter or the street protests that then followed. He did not respond to the Wild Hunt‘s request for comment.
The connection between the Metairie church’s prayer action and the Aug. 11 protests are unclear. The organizers of both may be related in some way or it may be that the prayer action flyer, which was published on Catholic news blog, inspired other organizations to act on their own.
Members of TFP Student Action, who allegedly coordinated the street protest, have not publicized the action on that group’s site. However, the group was present as shown by their red sashes, and they were joined by a number of other Catholic church organizations and individuals, but no one was reportedly there from the Metairie church.
The Mike Church Show reported live on Facebook from the street protest. Church is a podcaster, conservative Catholic radio show host, author, and filmmaker. In his video post, he writes:
Watch the video and you’ll see a peaceful and a beautiful defense of Catholic New Orleans, Our Lord and Our Lady. You’ll also see the public stopping to listen or using their middle fingers to tell us what they thought of the act of reparation. Best of all, you’ll see the minions of the Big 3, Beelzebub, Baphomet and Baguul, dressed in all black; watching the Holy Rosary being said and sung for 80 minutes instead of blaspheming Saint Anne, Our Lady and Saint Joseph in their HexFest.
Social media reactions to that post and others attracted comments of all kinds on and off Facebook.
Attendee and presenter Witchdoctor Utu told the Wild Hunt: “As a foreigner that visits America as a presenter I’m always aware that things can get a little more intense in the states, where mass shootings are just a click away, so when vague threats from religious zealots are hurled I start to look both ways a bit more and it became the case for HexFest.” Utu is spokesperson for the popular Canadian band Dragon Ritual Drummers.“Most presenters and performers on the circuit have of course encountered the Christian protesters that set up shop at various events,” Utu continued, “but they don’t often promise to encroach, and these Catholics did encroach past the line and into the Bourbon Orleans Hotel to share their message on another level. Ironic that within a day or so, global headlines of their archdioceses aiding and abetting yet another in an endless saga of their priesthood preying upon children would be reported.”
Utu also noted that the Dragon Ritual Drummers, unlike other presenters, were scheduled to perform outside in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel courtyard, and band members did have some concerns that the protesters might cause a disturbance. That never happened.
Another attendee and presenter, Starr Casus, who says she “follows the witchcraft community and Christianity,” told fhe New Orleans Advocate: “Jesus was a healer. Mary was a healer. . . . are they sinners? I don’t like being called a devil, and I don’t like being called a Satanist because I am none of those.”
“I have nothing against Catholicism and I believe it to be a beautiful, powerful, and, yes, magical religion,” Day added, in reaction. “Many of our customers are Catholic. Most of them, in fact. This organization clearly doesn’t represent the kindness of the church or of its current pontiff.”
This particular religious protest of a Pagan event is unusual for its time. It is more common to see evangelical Protestant groups organizing and showing up for such actions, such as those that occurred at WitchsFestUSA or Nashville Pagan Pride. It is far less common, despite church history, to have Catholic organizations standing in protest.
However, it not surprising that this occurred in Louisiana, which boasts a large Catholic population and is considered one of the most politically and religiously conservative states in the country.
The city of New Orleans, unlike the state, is fairly progressive and a place where Catholicism, magic, mysticism and other spiritual practices intertwine. In 2015, for example, New Orleans’ mayor openly defied the governor’s executive order on religious freedom rights, saying: “I am issuing a clarifying call to the nation that New Orleans is an accepting, inviting city that thrives on its diversity and welcomes people from all walks of life with open arms . . . . In New Orleans, we believe religious liberty and freedoms should be protected and discrimination prohibited, and we have passed our own laws to reflect that principle.”
While this is the first time HexFest has seen street protestors, it is not the first time the event has had problems. In HexFest’s inaugural year 2015, the sales manager of the Steamboat Natchez, where the opening ritual was to be held, cancelled the contract on the morning before the event. It is alleged that the contact was cancelled due to the steamboat owner’s discovery that HexFest was an occult-based event. Fortunately, organizers were able to relocate quickly to another river boat, the Creole Queen.
This year, the opening ritual event, which was once again scheduled to be hosted on the Creole Queen, was moved to Mardi Gras World due to renovations on the boat. Day noted that, in an effort to help, the boat’s sales manager called the owners of Steamboat Natchez, and she was reportedly told that HexFest could not be held there because “the owner doesn’t like it.” Mardi Gras World was available.
The change in venue turned out to be a bonus for guests, Day said. They “were able to stroll through a giant building filled with lit up flights and sculptures. It was really amazing.”
Despite any inconveniences, HexFest 2018 was reportedly a success, with more than 300 in attendance according to Day.
The protesters left around noon on Saturday when it began to rain, and they never returned. Utu said, “HexFest and their staff handled [the situation] all with total professionalism and I can’ commend them, the attendees, and presenters enough for rallying and bonding to make us all feel safe and secure.”“I support the right of these individuals to protest,” Day continued, “but I condemn their incorrect use of the words satanic, demonic, and evil to describe us for it encourages persecution against us and may motivate more dangerous individuals to acts of violence. The flyers under the door, however, were a bridge too far for me and brought out my protective side when it comes to our guests who haven’t been on the front lines of Salem for thirty years like I’ve been and may feel intimidated by a letter that carries with it the emotional charge of centuries of hangings, burnings, and torture.”
He added, “However, our guests are a strong and determined people and it seemed to make the event that much more powerful that we were holding it in the face of adversity.”
Attendee Tiffani Satchel, who says she isn’t sure of her path yet, described her experience on video, saying that she is planning on returning every year. HexFest 2019 is already being planned, and will be held Aug. 9-11 at the same hotel in New Orleans.Read more »
- Covenant of the Goddess at a turning point
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Members of the Covenant of the Goddess held their annual Merry Meet and Grand Council Meetings here from Aug. 9 – 12. Grand Council functions as the organization’s national decision-making body, while the Merry Meet gathering consists of workshops and rituals. 47 people registered to attend both events, while 15 registered only for Merry Meet.
The Covenant of the Goddess finds itself at a turning point after its 43 years of existence. Its members are “graying,” or getting older, and membership numbers are declining. The social and political context is much less threatening now than when the covenant was formed in 1975, and members have contributed to that change. Grand Council member Donald H. Frew said, “We are very much a victim of our success.” Witches and Wiccans have won many of the battles for civil rights and respect.
While many people spoke about how the climate has improved, they noted that it may shift again. The Christian Right concept of “religious freedom” could well threaten Witches and Pagans. As Wild Hunt managing editor noted in one editorial on the subject,
While people of all ilks know that faith, ethics, morality, and belief cannot be fully separated from action in any sphere of life, there is a sacrifice that must happen for the sake of the greater community to thrive. The dangers of an ideology based on the integration of church and state, or church and the public square, move closer to a government based on a dominant theology.
That, in the end, would become a substantial burden for anyone outside of the religious majority.
Grand Council members took up several issues to address some of the problems faced. The organization’s first mission statement was developed, its membership application process was streamlined, and a report on declining membership in one region was considered in context of the whole.
The first mission statement
The Covenant of the Goddess has functioned without a mission statement throughout its history, but that chapter is now closed. The new statement reads:
We, the Covenant of the Goddess, through advocacy, education, interfaith action, and resource sharing, empower Witches and Wiccans to protect, strengthen, and enrich our religion, society, and the earth.
The mission statement identified four key activities. Members will advocate for the rights of Witches and Wiccans, educate Witches and Wiccans as well as the public about the Craft, engage in interfaith activities with people from other religious traditions, and also share common resources among themselves and the public.
In their reporting, representatives of the New Mexico-based Chamisa stressed that the designers of their study of membership decline wanted to explore reasons for dropping out. Unless someone knows something about why a problem exists, they reason, it cannot be fixed. However, they had no intention to to provide a statistical explanation of why people left.
These former members expressed a lack of faith in the organization’s leadership. Some felt that leaders had acted in elitist ways. Some alleged that leaders had mishandled the Black Lives Matter statement. Others felt that leadership had failed to develop racial and ethnic diversity. Still others alleged that the leaders were well-intentioned, but unqualified. Some respondents felt that the organzation was no longer necessary, had a lack of focus, and moved at glacial pace. To summarize, former members felt the covenant leadership was elitist, privileged, or irrelevant.
Covenant of the Goddess has a complex membership structure. It began as an organization of autonomous covens or groups. It was not an organization of individuals. Only later on were individual memberships created. This makes measuring a decline in membership difficult. No one disputed that membership had been declining, but by press time, leaders were unable to provide exact numbers.
A coven must have at least three members, according to covenant by-laws; the largest coven has 16 members. As each coven must have at least three members, a minimum estimate of 253 people can be calculated. As the largest coven has 16 members, a maximum of 1,098 people is the upper limit.
The organization’s Facebook page has 263,572 followers; Grand Council members discussed how to actively engage these.
Unlike many organizations, membership requires more than paying dues. Individuals and covens must apply for membership to one of nine local councils. Should the individual or group live outside of the geographic area served by the local councils, the application is directly to the national body. This results in four types of memberships: local coven, local individual, national coven, and national individual.
An applicant must complete a membership form, write a statement of practice, and submit two recommendation letters. Currently it can take up to one year to process. Grand Council members approved several changes to speed up this process.
Technology as solution
Canu, “a Pagan with a bad tech habit,” plans to increase the organizational use of technology to solve some problems. Grand Council has limited time for face-to-face interaction. It only meets once per year for two to three days. Most communication is via email, through which the emotional cues of face-to-face interaction are absent. Canu feels that using web-based meeting software could lessen this problem. This is particularly important for emotionally-charged issues.
This Grand Council had five virtual attendees. Virtual attendance reduces expenses, and the carbon footprint.
Canu said that CoG has taught its members about new technology. He reported that within the organization, “Tech literacy has advanced quite a bit, even within our aging membership.”
While membership has declined, some local councils have seen increased memberships. Local councils can play a vital role. Canu said, “We’d be really interested if people wanted to explore forming new local councils in their area. I’d be very happy to talk with anybody about what I think makes a good local council and makes one work well.”
It may surprise many Pagans that this event was scheduled with Mercury in retrograde. Canu explained that this week in August has been the traditional week for Grand Council to meet. This date aligns with the school year and traditional summer vacations. The first part of Grand Council was devoted to a workshop on healthy communication. Canu felt that this could help lessen any Mercury retrograde issues.
The next Merry Meet/Grand Council, “2019 High Desert Magick,” will take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico from Aug. 15 – 18, 2019.Read more »
- Pagan Community Notes: Hank Knaepple, David Suhor, Darrin Barnett memorial and moreGeorge H. Knaepple III, known as Hank to the community or Greemie Orge on Facebook, died Saturday after a medical procedure went wrong. Knaepple was an active and well-known member of the Pagan Spirit Gathering and Starwood communities. He was born July 5, 1961 in Berea, Kentucky. He and his partner and wife Penny Goody were friends for 40 years, marrying nine years ago and settled in Evansville, Indiana.EVANSVILLE, Ind. —
For more than two decades, Knaepple and Goody have been serving as performance artists and teachers at Pagan festivals and other similar events across the U.S., including Sacred Harvest, Starwood, and PSG. Also known as the “Merry Hankster,” Knaepple was a celebrated community coyote trickster as well as a musician, lighting designer, and drum maker. Pagans of all ages have delighted in his playful spirit, his large bubble-making, and other forms of creative entertainment, which sometimes included a shadow puppet show.
A memorial and other celebrations of Hank’s life and legacy are being planned. What is remembered, lives.
* * *PENSACOLA, Fla. — Activist David Suhor was sentenced Aug. 6 for trespassing and resisting arrest during a February Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) meeting. Suhor is best known for his work in challenging local government meeting prayer practices. We first reported on his mission when he identified as Pagan and was allowed to offer a Pagan prayer before the September, 2014 meeting of the Escambia Board of County Commissioners. During that delivery he sang a prayer written by Starhawk with “accompanying magical gestures.” Since that point, Suhor has continued challenging local government bodies, from school boards to county commissioners, on the subject of prayer before meetings. He now now identifies as a Satanist and is a member of the Satanic Temple, which supports this type of religious freedom action throughout the country.
Suhor’s February arrest occurred after his refusal to stop reciting the Lord’s Prayer in order to permit the ECUA meeting to begin. ECUA allows its board members to offer prayer before the meeting is called to order. Chairwoman Lois Benson told the Pensacola News Journal, “That way anyone who does not want to hear a Christian prayer or any other prayer offered by the board does not miss any of our meeting.” Suhor believes that the board is doing it this way to “hide their invocations so that they can’t be sued for their [sic]content.” The arrest was caught on video and posted to YouTube. On Aug. 6 he was sentenced to three months of probation and 25 hours of community service. In addition, he is not permitted to use alcohol or drugs during probation, and he was ordered to stay away from ECUA headquarters. Suhor must also pay $273 in court costs and a $100 fine. Suhor is raising money for legal costs through GoFundMe.
* * *OAKLAND, Calif. — Bay Area Pagans attended a memorial Saturday for beloved community member Darrin Barnett. The service took place at the Rail Picnic Area at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline in Oakland. It began at 3 p.m. and went until sundown. Friends gathered to drum, sing, share stories and other memories in tribute to Barnett. A local artist drew pictures of him, and there was a ribbon tree. This is a common way for spiritual communities to share wishes, dreams, prayers, and memories. Those attending were invited to write their name or memory on a ribbon and tie to the tree in honor of Barnett.
Those who attended have been posting to the Facebook event page with videos and photos of the memorial, including photos of art by Janie O’Brien and a video of Ember offering a song. Viki Savo posted a memorial video that she had created for the event and has said it was publicly available to share with those many people who knew Barnett but could not attend. What is remembered, lives.
* * *
In other news
- A Covenant of the Goddess member had a bit of trouble Sunday with the TSA. According to CoG member Morgana RavenTree, she was traveling home from Merry Meet and, at the security check point, a TSA agent discovered and confiscated her small jar of Florida water. The jar was given to attendees by members of the host council. RavenTree, who didn’t check her luggage, said the bottle of water was around three ounces, and it did fit in the requisite gallon bag. However, the TSA agent took it, and she warned others to put their jars in their checked luggage.
- HexFest 2018 saw protests this weekend from local Catholics. We are currently working on this story and will have more this week on what happened and why.
- The CBC, or the Canada Broadcasting Corporation, reported that a “magic shop in Halifax has created a school that teaches how to cast spells and make potions.” The store is called Neighbourhood Witch and is owned by Pamela McInnis. She told CBC that she has seen a large growth in the number of people interested in alternative spiritualities Classes began in May.
- Pagan pride events continue to be held as we move closer to autumn. Southern Minnesota Pagan Pride is coming up Aug. 25. On the same day, Colorado Pagans will be able to attend Fort Collins Pagan Pride Day, and those in Ohio will be celebrating at Cleveland Pagan Pride. Over the next two months, events will happen every weekend across the country; keep an eye out for festivals near you.
Card of the week with Star Bustamonte
Deck: Parrott Tarot Deck by Margaret Parrott, published by S.S. Adams Co.Card: prince of cupsThis week has the potential to offer up a bit of calm, though below the surface there is passion. This passion can be used to fuel creative endeavors, or if the darker side of emotion is tapped, violence, brutality, and cruelty. Those most likely to gravitate and express the negative aspects are those who can be seduced by, or drunk on, power.Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.
Read more »
- Broomsquire sweeps into Pagan festivals
DEWY ROSE, Ga. – Soon after Dan Donaldson and his late father, Ralph, began making arty yet functional brooms and selling them at crafts festivals in 2008, they noticed some curious customers. “From time to time we’d have a customer come by and sort of wave their hands near the wood and they would be in deep reverie, concentrating pretty heavily,” Donaldson said. “It would be a Witch trying to feel for energy from the various different broom handles, but it took us a while to find that out because most of them didn’t volunteer a great deal of information. It got to the point where we could spot one by how they approached the broom as it was hanging on display.”
Donaldson, an “agnostic in all senses” who “tried other paths and just never felt called to one,” said that “Paganism wasn’t even on our radar. I didn’t know a thing in the world about it.”These days Donaldson, who calls himself the “broomsquire of Dewy Rose” after the town where he lives (“really it’s a crossroads with a post office”), is encountering many more Witches and Pagans. While his agnosticism remains intact, the bulk of his vending activities are at Pagan festivals and pride days throughout the Southeast and Midwest. He sold at the Mystic South conference in Atlanta in July, and this weekend at Merry Meet in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. His busy fall schedule is listed on his website.
The shape-shifting of Donaldson’s clientele began in 2010 when he and his father, who called themselves the broom brothers, met a young woman at an arts and crafts festival in Augusta, Ga. “She was very talkative and she told us she was a witch, and she explained that there were Pagan festivals and how we should sell brooms there,” Donaldson said. “She even invited us to apply to the Augusta Pagan Pride Day. That same year I met Heather Greene [managing editor at the Wild Hunt] at an arts and crafts festival outside of Atlanta. She bought a broom and we talked about things for awhile, and she also took my business card.”
Donaldson’s father passed away in 2014, shortly after Greene had invited the broom brothers to vend at the upcoming Merry Meet, the annual gathering of Covenant of the Goddess, to be held that year in Atlanta. Donaldson attended the event alone – but with some hesitation. “It wasn’t because of anything to do with Paganism or Wicca,” he said. “It was because at these arts and crafts shows, some people would walk by and make jokes: ‘Ah, I see you’ve got witch brooms there.’ ‘Oh, my wife could ride that broom home.’ I just thought there was such a stereotype there, that if I took brooms to a Wiccan event or a Pagan pride day, would people feel like I was making fun of them and just pursuing it because of the stereotype? I didn’t want to be disrespectful.”
At Merry Meet, Donaldson said, “The brooms were well received and I certainly sold enough to make it worth my while from a commercial standpoint. The atmosphere was completely different [from arts and crafts fairs] and accepting, and I really enjoyed it.”
There he met wand-maker and fellow vendor Gypsey Teague. “A customer asked about the wood in a broom, and I said sweetgum,” Donaldson said. “The moment I said sweetgum, Gypsey bounded across the room and said ‘liquidambar styraciflua,’ which is the scientific name for sweetgum trees. The customer and I were both standing there mouths agape.
“Turns out Gypsey is an expert in wood and has written a book called ‘The Witch’s Guide to Wands,’ about the magical properties of wood. That was my first encounter with Gypsey, and she as a fellow vendor has really sort of taken me under her wing and given me advice and helped me out. I really appreciate her.”
Donaldson said his path to broom-making “was an accident. It’s almost like it found me rather than me finding it.”
Donaldson had worked as a police officer, an insurance fraud investigator and private investigator in Georgia and Florida when he became unemployed and moved back to his hometown of Dublin, near Macon, Ga. His father, who worked as an administrator for Easter Seals, “had an interest in broom-making, I think partly because it was agricultural-related,” Donaldson said. “He had always wanted to farm and never got to. It was on his bucket list to learn how to make brooms.”
The elder Donaldson invited his son to join him in attending a broom-making workshop taught by Marlow Gates at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, N.C. “What neither of us expected was that we seemed to harbor a hidden aptitude for it, and we both kind of fell in love with broom-making,” Donaldson said. While the elder Donaldson continued working his day job, “we just started making brooms all day long without even having to discuss it. We had to do something with them, so we started selling them at arts and crafts festivals.”
The Donaldsons even grew their own broom corn plants for their creations. “Broom corn, despite its name, is not related to what we call ‘corn,’ which is more properly known as ‘maize,’” according to Donaldson’s website.
After six years of father and son making and peddling their creations as the broom brothers. the elder Donaldson passed away in 2014. Soon after, Dan’s mother developed ALS, and he stopped broom-making for a year and half to care for her until she passed in late 2015.
Donaldson then returned to broom-making full time, mostly on the Pagan circuit.His website includes numerous photos of his creations, a detailed account of his broom-making process, and an online shop where his brooms and besoms are available. When he’s not vending on the road, he likely will be working in his broom shop, a storefront open to customers, in Hartwell near Dewey Rose.
Most of Donaldson’s brooms range from $30 to $80, although double brooms — two broom heads tied onto a forked handle — are $100 and up. His website describes his brooms as “functional art — suitable for sweeping, decorating, and ceremonial uses.”
“You have to say that it can be used for sweeping,” Donaldson says, chuckling. “One of the common questions people would ask at a craft show is ‘Dan, can you sweep with these?’ It’s the kind of thing that just takes you aback. ‘Well, yes ma’am, it’s a broom.’ Inevitably their response back is ‘Well, it’s too pretty to use.’”
As for ceremonial uses, a section on his website notes that brooms are popular in wedding ceremonies known as “jumping the broom,” and that the custom has its roots in “pre-emancipation African-American culture.” The double brooms are especially popular for weddings because they symbolize “the melding of two lives into one.”
Patti Wigington, who writes on Paganism and Wicca at thoughtco, notes that “besom weddings” have gained popularity among modern Pagans, and that there is evidence such ceremonies were practiced in the British Isles.
“I have had plenty of people who really appreciated what I do and some who understood it, but not the same way that a Witch or a Wiccan understands and relates to brooms,” Donaldson said. “Rather than it being a trinket or a decoration, or even a joke, a broom is something a lot more serious to a Witch. It becomes a part of their life instead of just something to hang on the wall and be a conversation piece, if you will. I like the fact that brooms make them happy.”Read more »
- Editorial: Plagiarism, Fraud, and Illegal Sharing of Art
In recent weeks, a round of discoveries were made concerning the uploading and sharing of digital versions of occult books. The collection, in this case, resided in a closed Facebook group named “Free Occult Books.” Since the group was discovered and reported by members of the watchdog collective Pagans Against Plagiarism (PAP), the group’s administrators appear to have made the group secret; it is no longer easily accessible, and the corresponding Dropbox account is either now private or removed.
The reported 900+ books, however, which are listed in a PDF file posted in PAP, are still allegedly being shared in violation of copyright laws.The “Free Occult Books” Facebook group is not the first site to illegally offer digital books, nor will it be the last. Over the years, TWH has reported on other similar cases. In August 2017, we reported on a now-removed Facebook group called The Wiccan Circle (not related to the current group of the same name), which contained over 6000 digital book titles. When interviewed by journalist Terence P. Ward, group founder and administrator Rick Hannas, also known as Lord Thallus, was unapologetic, stating that other people were doing the same thing. Why not him?
Suppressing all urge to wax on about friends, bridges, and lemmings, I must admit that Thallus is correct in his statement. Other people are doing the same thing. But does that make it right? As the old saying goes, two wrongs, or in this case, 6000 or more, don’t make a right.
As of publication, the administrators of the newly discovered Free Occult Books group have not responded directly to interview questions. One of its members, who is listed as an admin, said she was not actually an administrator and was “not human.” She said this after stating several times that PAP members were harassing her about book uploads in her group and that they had made a “terrible mistake.”
I’m still unclear on who – or what – runs the group, and why.
Regardless, this type of sharing copyrighted material is fraud. Reasoning doesn’t matter. And, unfortunately, it is just one of the many forms of intellectual property theft that happens in our digital media world.
Just yesterday, I discovered two cases in which aggregate web sites wholesale copied TWH articles without permission. This is a common occurrence. In these two separate cases, the copied articles did not offer any link-backs, credits, or notes stating that they were produced by someone else. The TWH writer, who spent hours interviewing people, thinking about, planning, and then writing the piece, got no credit. TWH, which paid for production of the articles through reader donations, got nothing. I will not share the sites.
Taking articles off of TWH without our blessing is against policy, disrespectful to our writers, and steals from our very small coffers by allowing our work to be accessible without our ability to ask for donations to support its continuation. That is the reality, and it is not okay.
While it is acceptable to quote a source without permission, there are rules on how much of the writer’s language one can copy before becoming a plagiarist. In many cases, crediting an artist or writer is not enough to make copying legal; permission must be granted. What that limit is depends on the publisher and the editor. A definite boundary is not written in law.
In fact, there are many gray areas when it comes to plagiarizing. The Cornell University Law School website defines plagiarizing as “deliberately passing off somebody else’s original expression or creative ideas as one’s own.” The entry goes on to explain the gray area:
Plagiarism can be a violation of law if copyrighted expression is taken. Often, however, plagiarism does not violate any law but marks the plagiarist as an unethical person in the political, academic, or scientific community where the plagiarism occurs.
As noted, plagiarism only crosses into the legal realm when it violates copyright laws. Even when it doesn’t rise to that level, however, any act of plagiarizing can, according to various reports, be challenged in a court of law. This means that any act of plagiarism is a legal concern. Offenses range from wholesale copying of entire books, ideas, or art, to the use of excessive quoting from a single source, even when credited.
Copying and pasting is like a butcher knife – a tool used for the common good, until it is not.
In 2017, an author with the name Magic Wiccan published several books that were entirely made up of sourced material, including rituals, songs, spells and articles. While the content was credited, it was used entirely without permission. Some of the original creators have reportedly complained to Amazon, but these books have not been removed from the site yet.
In essence, if one claims that another’s intellectual property, whether its words or visual art, is one’s own, or if said said work is used without clearly designated permission, one commits theft, fraud, or both. This is the stealing of something that an artist has labored over for hours, weeks, and years – something that they have birthed into this world. The plagiarist claims a right to someone else’s brain-baby. Their actions are wrong, both ethically and legally.
Illegal Sharing of Books, Music
Another form of copyright infringement is the illegal sharing of produced material, and this is a constant battle for creators and producers. (Remember Napster?)
This problem has only ballooned over the decades as digital media has become more consumer-controlled and social media has made it easier to share the files.
Since the inception of the internet, there have been newly-created laws that govern copyright infringement – specifically, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which was put into place in 1998.
According to Cornell Law School, long-established U.S. copyright laws cover most concerns; however, they did not “address technological measures to help stop copyright infringement or other copyright management systems.” The DMCA was put into place to do just that: it addresses technology’s role in the violating copyright.
Unfortunately, neither the new nor the old laws are stopping the problem. In 2012, Llewellyn’s senior acquisitions editor Elysio Gallo wrote an article on this very same topic. That was six years ago. Just as it was back then, if an author finds a fraudulent copy of their book posted online, they can file a DCMA takedown notice. The system is in place, but it doesn’t stop the behavior.
In a 2017 interview with TWH, Gallo called the problem a hydra: “You chop off one head, another one springs up to take its place.”
Author Dorothy Morrison described the predicatment the best. In a message to me, she said, “Since we can’t fight this at the root, the best we can do is try to clip the branches when they sprout. And that’s really aggravating.”
Morrison was one of the authors recently alerted when PAP members discovered the Free Occult Books group. She spoke out publicly on Facebook about the issue. In an ironic turn of events, one of the person’s who allegedly is a group administrator has since threatened to use Morrison’s own “Bitch Be Gone” products to bind her.
In conversation about the recent discovery, PAP co-founder and administrator Boudica Foster told me, “It’s sad – people who claim to ‘do no harm’ as Pagans will steal from their favorite author or artist.”
While the Free Occult Books administrators’ motives are not clear, it appears from some group posts that they may not see it that way. In several comments, the listed administrators accused Pagan authors of stealing traditions for their own gain. This may be their justification for violating copyright laws.
This suggests that they view themselves as modern-day Robin Hoods.Another justification for illegal sharing in general is that these sites offer access to books that some people wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. They act like libraries, in that sense.
When asked about his reasons in 2017, Thullas said that his sharing was no different than a library’s sharing. According to that argument, the buyer owns the book or music file and can do whatever they wish with it.
These arguments are, however, without any credible base.
Sharing a digital file is not an act of bravery against a villainous, greedy foe. It is theft of someone’s intellectual property, no matter how wealthy or poor the creator may be. In fact, most writers and artists are not wealthy robber barons living off the taxes of the poor.
Those creators that do steal ideas or words are committing fraud; see the section above on plagiarism.
As for Utopian ideal that creative works should be shared and not sold, that is horsepucky. Even if we abandoned our capitalist system, there will always be the need for some form of exchange. Eggs for bread, butter for probing psychological therapy. Whatever the situation and no matter the economic system of exchange, artists will always need to eat, drink, and procure supplies.
Kisses and kumbayas do not pay the bills.
As for books being unaffordable, that is certainly true in many cases. Anyone who has gone to college knows how high book bills can run. However, there are still brick-and-mortar libraries, and even legitimate digital ones. Libraries are wonderful community resource centers, and they deserve support as they evolve to meet current lending needs.
When I had three young children who loved to read and no money to buy them books, we made weekly trips to the library. It became a treasured family outing. For those that can’t buy a new book, there are also used book stores, eBay, and book swaps. There are ways.
Moreover, the fraudulent sharing of books raises the cost of books. The more illegal sharing occurs, the fewer books are purchased. Publishers lose revenue and have to make up the costs of production somehow, and that loss is typically pushed on the consumer. In other words, the more fraud occurs, the more expensive books become.
That hurts everyone.
Finally, let me be very clear; the sharing of a digital file is nothing like the sharing of a paper book. When a person gives a paper book to a friend or sells it on eBay, they are working with a single item. Nothing new has been produced.
That is not the case with digital files. When someone emails a friend a book or music file, they are most likely producing a new copy. That person takes on the act of production, and that is illegal. When someone uploads a file to a sharing site, they are producing a new file. Then, when someone downloads it, they are producing a new copy. That is illegal.
While this did happen in the world of paper media, it was not as easy. Photocopying 352 pages of a novel is just not as simple as cut and paste.
Foster, who herself was a victim of plagiarism, rightly says that the problem is “out of hand.” She added, “For every group we identify, there are many more we never see.
“The root of the problem is technology. We are beyond ourselves here. Unless we can find a way to control the flow of this technology, it will continue to be out of our control,” she adds.
As I write this editorial, PAP members are starting to report on yet another site, called Libros de Lumine, that has a large listing of copyrighted Pagan books.
Stop and Think
Whether its plagiarism or illegal sharing, it all involves the stealing of intellectual property. Setting aside all legal issues, these acts are essentially the theft of someone’s ideas and, in most cases, the theft of something that is very personal to the artist. Writing a book, creating an art piece, producing musical compositions – these are acts of spirit, of love, of worship, and of magic. Artists are not machines, and it takes an abundance of energy, devotion, and beingness to produce a single creative piece.
On the more practical side, theft also takes money out of the artist’s pocket. As noted earlier, some creators are wealthy, but most are not. Either way, the act is still theft.
In the case of illegal sharing, not only does the act steal from the creator, but it also steals from any others who were involved in production. Whether the work in question is a book, movie, or musical composition, there are editors, publicists, printers, accountants, cleaning people, and more involved. There are often a multitude of people behind any single creation – people who live normal lives and rely on product sales to feed their kids, pay their mortgages, and even afford an occasional trip to the movies.
Here are my tips:
- Understand the limits of public domain and fair use. There are some situations where copying without permission or sharing is legal. Know those limits and obey them strictly.
- Outside of fair use or public domain, always ask permission to use any creative materials. In fact, sometimes the creator will give permission without asking for a fee. Exposure is a wonderful thing. Don’t expect that courtesy, though. Exposure, like warm hugs and hardy congratulations, feel awesome, but at the end of the day they do not feed a hungry belly.
- Creators: fix errors with regard to copyright immediately. There are gray areas and mistakes do happen; I have done it myself. Correct the problem and apologize.
- Never share or upload copyrighted materials without permission. This includes using artwork on personal Facebook pages, headers or posts. Remember, social media posts are considered published material.
- Never download from illegal sites. Don’t be a lemming.
- Help combat the problem by reporting sites and groups that violate copyright laws. This is one of the missions of PAP.
Sorita D’este, another author who recently became a victim of illegal sharing and plagiarism, suggested that anyone who has committed copyright infringement should consider sending the affected artists a donation. Speaking specifically about illegal sharing, she wrote in a Facebook post, “If we don’t support our authors and publishers, we will be left with books produced only by those who are privileged enough to have the wealth to produce books, and commercial writers who produce books for the mass market – rather than books produced by those individuals who write because they are passionate, experienced, and qualified to do so.”
If we love a creator’s work enough to want to copy it or share it, then we should love the creator enough to respect their ownership. If we do that, they might be able to produce more – and there is nothing as valuable in life as fostering personal creative expression.Read more »
- Column: the 15 Most Influential Pagans in Mexico
A few days ago, on his Patheos Pagan blog Raise the Horns, Jason Mankey published a list of the 25 people he considers as the most influential living Pagans, inspired by a 2004 post from The Wild Hunt. Mankey has said these lists do not serve any real purpose and are just for fun, but while these lists could never be final or one hundred percent objective, as they depend on the curator’s bias and experiences, they help readers gain an idea of who’s who in contemporary Paganism and the work they do.
Mankey mentioned the criteria he used and acknowledged his limitations as an author when putting up the list together, including that the list is mainly made of Pagans from the United States and the United Kingdom. He suggested his readers contribute to the list, whether by directly commenting on his post, or indirectly anywhere on the internet. This could be a great start to a global conversation Pagans could have as an international community, sharing our thoughts about who we think has influenced Pagan society. Maybe we could one day generate a list of influential Pagans from all around the world, including figures like Claudiney Prieto from Brazil, Ipsita Roy Chakraverti from India, or Sandra Roman from Argentina. It could be a great opportunity to learn more about what is happening or has happened in other regions.
Consider this list of influential Pagans in Mexico a response to Mankey’s open invitation. Although we in Mexico have been deeply influenced by international figures, there are plenty of Pagans who have made great local contributions and have helped to shape the present state of Paganism in Mexico.
It is important to mention that the criteria for this list differ from Mankey’s. First, the list includes a few people who may not be very active nowadays in the Pagan community, but they have been included because their work has somehow influenced what Paganism is today in Mexico. Second, the list is focused on the Witchcraft and Wiccan spheres of Paganism; otherwise, the basis of the list would be very different.
Some people included are well-known in the Mexican Pagan community, their names commonly mentioned in conversation: these are people who have created channels, spaces, or events for the Pagan community, and their contribution helps the Pagan community to gather and integrate, as well as people who frequently talk publicly about Paganism and Witchcraft, sharing their opinions and knowledge online, on radio, on TV, or in books. (Readers may notice that a few of these people have already been covered in The Wild Hunt, and more is intended to be written about them.)
The 15 Most Influential Pagans in Mexico (in alphabetical order)
Luis G. Abaddie
Luis G. Abaddie is a writer specialized in horror, fantasy, and Paganism, and has collaborated in writing projects from all around the globe. His spiritual path has been focused on Stregoneria and hedgewitchcraft. In 2004, he wrote the book El Sendero de Los Brujos (The Witches’ Path), addressing young Pagans and trying to explain common confusions.
Samak Artemisa is the founder of the Centro de Estudios Alquimist and the Hékate Sisterhood. She has an extensive academic background and has written three books. The first one, Morgana, was inspired by her pregnancy and talks about the gestation and birth process as an initiatory journey. She is currently presenting her new book, El Diario de una Bruja (The Diary of a Witch), where she shares her experiences as a witch, her knowledge, and her point of view.
Alejandro Estanislao is the founder of Cofradía Wicca Luna Azul, an eclectic Wiccan school and group. He has given many courses about feminine spirituality, natural magic, European witchcraft, and Mexican sorcery. As President of the Consejo Wicca Mexico, he coordinates the annual Pagan Pride March and curates the Pagan Art Exhibition in Mexico City.
Veronica Hernandez, also known as Tessa, is the director and founder of the Círculo Wicca de México. She has written a few books about Wicca, faeries, Celtic magic, and runes. She created the healing system Vitkar and the Wiccan Celta Faery tradition. She is well known as one of the longest-practicing Wiccan teachers in Mexico.
Tarwe Hrossdottir is the founder of the Hermandad de la Diosa Blanca, and she is the national coordinator for the Pagan Federation International – Mexico. She has given many courses on spirituality and Paganism since 2001. Every year around the autumn equinox, she organizes the Día del Orgullo Pagano – México (Mexican Pagan Pride Day).
Kenston Luna is a writer and therapist. He wrote 13 Lunas: el Regreso al Camino de la Diosa (13 Moons: the Return to the Path of the Goddess), which is divided into three parts and could be considered a classic for Spanish-speaking Pagans. He has given a workshop around this work for more than ten years and published for seven years a calendar with the same name. He has also written the novel trilogy Crónicas de Ildur under the pen-name of Kenston S. Fuentes.
Elsa Marya is the founder of Casa Salem Witch Store & Coffee, and is director of the magical center Ynys Avallach Mon, both significant locations where the Pagan and Witchcraft community gathers in Mexico City.
Driel Molmont is an adherent and the guardian of a family Mexican Witchcraft tradition fused with a Shamanic tradition from the Basque Country. He is an active member and elder of Societas Draconistratum and teaches Traditional Witchcraft. Although his tradition is Hermetic and most of his teachings are not open to the general public, he constantly gets involved in the Pagan community, sharing his respectful ways of interaction between Pagans and always inspiring them to work together for a greater good.
Isaac Mora is a video blogger, better known as Witchizac because of the name of his Youtube Channel. The channel has more than 62 thousand subscribers, more than 8 million views, and has published more than 125 videos about magic, Wicca, and the occult since 2009.
Witchmart is Martha Moran’s brand through which she sells magical products and teaches classes. Witchmart images can be seen constantly on Facebook, where the page has more than 31 thousand followers – unsurprising, thanks to its great magical memes.
Christian Ortiz is the coordinator of the Fraternidad de la Diosa (Fellowship of the Goddess). He was ordained as second kourete in the Dianic tradition. He is also a member of the Fellowship of Isis. He founded the Spanish-speaking Pagan magazine El Caldero and has participated in many international events and projects, such as the Conference of Wicca and Goddess Spirituality in Brazil. He is also a writer and collaborated on the book Call of the God: An Exploration of the Divine Masculine within Modern Paganism.
Cesar Ramsay has taught about topics related to Paganism and Wicca for 14 years. He has participated in many Pagan events and has had a few radio shows. He founded Sociedad Wicca México A.C. (the Mexican Wiccan Society) in 2003, and has been greatly involved in the integration of the Mexican Pagan community. He also has promoted and worked for a constant joint collaboration between different schools and groups.
The Mexican Pagan community would not be the same without Mauricio Sanchez’s online radio show Wicca Radio, where he interviews different Pagan figures.
Alejandro Reyes is a priest trained with the Glastonbury Goddess Temple. He is also a disciple of Kathy Jones. He founded in 2016 the Templo de la Diosa en México (Goddess Temple in Mexico), a sacred space in the center of Mexico City dedicated to the exploration and celebration of the Divine Feminine.
Finally, Adonis Warlock is a psychotherapist, a teacher, and the founder of the magical school Decretum Magus Wicca. He is the face behind the website Hysteria Pagana, an online radio station and store, which is one of the main Spanish-speaking channels attracting new generations of Pagans. He is also the creator and organizer of the Encuentro con la Diosa en México (Congress with the Goddess in Mexico), an annual spiritual retreat dedicated to the Pagan community.
This could never be a final list and some names must be missing. For the purposes of length, it has been limited to 15 names. The list is created with all respect and admiration for everyone’s work and legacy. If there is a name someone thinks should have been mentioned, that would be a perfect excuse to join the conversation.
* * *
The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.Read more »
- Columna: los 15 paganos más influyentes en México
Hace unos días Jason Mankey publicó en su canal Raise the Horns de Patheos Pagan una lista de 25 personas que considera como los paganos vivos más influyentes, inspirado por una publicación de The Wild Hunt del 2004. Mankey dijo que estas listas no sirven para un propósito real y que son por diversión. Sin embargo, no estoy de acuerdo. Para ser honesto, hay algunos nombres de su lista de los que no sabia antes de leerla. Aunque estas listas nunca podrían ser definitivas o cien por ciento objetivas, ya que dependen de la inclinación y experiencias del curador, creo que ayudan a los lectores a tener una idea de quién es quién y de su trabajo.
Mankey también mencionó el criterio que utilizó y reconoció sus limitaciones como autor de la lista, como por ejemplo, que la lista esta mayormente conformada por paganos de los Estados Unidos y el Reino Unido. Sugiere a sus lectores contribuir a la lista, ya sea directamente comentando en su publicación, o indirectamente, en cualquier lugar del internet. Creo que esto puede ser un gran inicio de una conversación global que podemos tener como comunidad internacional, aportando nuestros pensamientos acerca de quién creemos ha influido a la sociedad pagana. A lo mejor algún día podremos generar una lista de paganos influyentes de todo el mundo, incluyendo figuras como Claudiney Prieto de Brasil, Ipsita Roy Chakraverti de India o Sandra Roman de Argentina. Esto podría ser una gran oportunidad para aprender más acerca de lo que que sucede o ha sucedido en otras regiones.
Viendo esta lista y respondiendo a la invitación abierta, empecé a preguntarme qué nombres podrían ser mencionados al hablar de paganos influyentes en México, por lo que hice una lista propia. Aunque hemos sido profundamente influenciados por figuras internacionales, hay muchos paganos que han hecho una gran contribución local y que han ayudado a determinar el presente del paganismo en México.
Es importante mencionar que utilicé un criterio un poco diferente. Por una parte, decidí incluir algunas personas que puede que hoy en día no sean muy activas en la comunidad pagana, pero decidí incluirlas porque su trabajo de alguna manera ha influido la o que es en la actualidad el paganismo en Mexico. Por otra parte, esta lista está más enfocada en el ámbito de brujería y wicca, ya que de otra manera la base de la lista habría sido muy distinta.
He incluido gente a la que considero es bien conocida en la comunidad pagana mexicana y cuyo nombre es comúnmente mencionado; gente que ha creado canales, espacios o eventos para la comunidad pagana y cuya contribución ayuda a que la comunidad pagana se reúna e integre; y gente que frecuentemente habla públicamente de paganismo o brujería, comparte sus opiniones y conocimiento en línea, en el radio, en la televisión o en libros.
Los 15 paganos más influyentes en México (en orden alfabético):
Luis G. Abaddie
Luis G. Abaddie es un escritor especializado en terror, fantasía y paganismo y ha colaborado en muchos proyectos literarios de todo el mundo. Su camino espiritual ha estado enfocado en la stregonería y brujería del cerco. En el 2004 escribió el libro El sendero de los brujos, dirigiéndose a la juventud pagana e intentando aclarar confusiones comunes.
Samak Artemisa es la fundadora del Centro de Estudios Alquimist y de la hermandad Hékate. Tiene una carrera académica extensa y ha escrito tres libros. El primero es llamado Morgana, fue inspirado por su embarazo y habla del proceso de gestación y nacimiento como camino iniciático. Actualmente esta presentando su nuevo libro, El Diario de una Bruja, donde comparte su experiencia como bruja, su conocimiento y sus puntos de vista.
Alejandro Estanislao es el fundador de la Cofradía Wicca Luna Azul, una escuela y grupo de Wicca ecléctica. Ha dado muchos cursos de espiritualidad femenina, magia natural, brujería europea y hechicería mexicana. Como presidente del Consejo Wicca México, coordina cada año la Caminata del orgullo pagano – México y es curador de la Exposición de arte pagano en la Ciudad de México.
Veronica Hernandez, también conocida como Tessa, es la directora y fundadora del Círculo Wicca de México. Ha escrito algunos libros de Wicca, hadas, magia celta y runas. Creó el sistema se sanación Vitkar y la tradición Wicca Celta Faery. Es bien conocida como una de las personas que ha enseñado Wicca en México por más tiempo.
Tarwe Hrossdottir es la fundadora de la Hermandad de la Diosa Blanca y la coordinadora nacional para México de la Federación pagana internacional. Ha dado muchos cursos de espiritualidad y paganismo desde el 2001. Cada año alrededor del equinoccio de otoño, organiza el Día del Orgullo Pagano – México.
Kenston Luna es escritor y terapeuta. Escribió 13 Lunas, el regreso al camino de la Diosa, el cual está dividido en tres partes y que puede ser considerado como un clásico para paganos hispanoparlantes. Por más de diez años a dado un taller alrededor de este trabajo y por siete años publicó una agenda con el mismo nombre. También escribió una trilogía novelística titulada Crónicas de Ildur bajo el seudónimo Kenston S. Fuentes.
Driel Molmont es practicante y guardián de una tradición familiar de brujería mexicana fusionada con una tradición chamánica de los Países Vascos. Es miembro activo y Elder de la Societas Draconistratum y enseña brujería tradicional. Aunque su tradición es hermética y la mayoría de sus enseñanzas no están abiertas al público general, frecuentemente se involucra en la comunidad pagana compartiendo sus maneras respetuosas de interacción entre paganos y siempre inspirando a trabajar en conjunto para un bien mayor.
Isaac Mora es un video bloguero mejor conocido como Witchizac, debido al nombre su canal de Youtube. Su canal tiene más de 62 mil suscriptores, más de de 8 millones de vistas y ha publicado más de 125 videos acerca de magia, wicca y lo oculto desde el 2009.
Witchmart es la marca de Martha Moran a través de la cual vende productos mágicos y da clases. Mi sección de noticias de Facebook usualmente esta llena de imágenes compartidas de las publicaciones de Witchmart. Ha participado en algunos eventos paganos internacionales y también es video bloguera. Su página de Facebook tiene más de 31 mil seguidores, lo cual no me extraña, ya que sus memes mágicos son geniales.
Christian Ortiz es coordinador de la Fraternidad de la Diosa. Fue ordenado como segundo Kourete en la tradición Diánica. Es miembro de la Fellowship of Isis. Fundó la revista pagana en español El Caldero y ha participado en numerosos eventos y proyectos internacionales, como en la Conferencia de wicca y espiritualidad de la Diosa de Brasil. También es escritor y colaboró en el libro Call of the God: An Exploration of the Divine Masculine within Modern Paganism (Traducción: Llamado del Dios: una exploración de la divinidad masculina en el paganismo moderno).
Cesar Ramsay ha enseñado diferentes temas de paganismo y Wicca desde hace 14 años. Ha participado en muchos eventos y ha tenido varios programas de radio. Fundó Sociedad Wicca México A.C. en el 2003 y ha estado enormemente involucrado en la integración de la comunidad pagana mexicana. También ha promovido y trabajado por una frecuente colaboración en conjunto entre distintas escuelas y grupos.
La comunidad pagana mexicana no sería lo mismo sin el programa de radio de Mauricio Sanchez, Wicca Radio, en donde entrevista a distintos personajes paganos.
Alejandro Reyes es sacerdote, entrenado con el Glastonbury Goddess Temple (traducción: Templo de la Diosa de Glastonbury), es discípulo de Kathy Jones. Fundó en el 2016 el Templo de la Diosa en México, un lugar sagrado en el centro de la Ciudad de México, dedicado a la exploración y celebración de la divinidad femenina.
Adonis Warlock es piscoterapeuta, maestro y fundador de la escuela mágica Decretum Magus Wicca. Es la cara detrás del sitio web Hysteria Pagana, una tienda y radio en línea que es uno de los medios paganos en habla hispana más importantes, al que las nuevas generaciones van. También es el creador y organizador del Encuentro con la Diosa en México, un retiro espiritual anual dedicado al comunidad pagana.
Ésta nunca podría ser una lista definitiva y debe haber algunos nombres que me estén faltando. He decidido reducir el número a 15 por propósitos de tamaño. Hago esto con todo mi respeto y admiración hacia el trabajo y legado de todos. Si hay un nombre que alguien piense debería haber mencionado, seria la excusa perfecta para unirse a la conversación.
* * *
The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.Read more »
- Fenced-off tomb on the island of Jersey concerns local Pagans
JERSEY, U.K. — Part of Pouquelaye de Faldouet, a 6,000-year-old Neolithic tomb on the Channel island of Jersey, has been fenced off without consulting local Pagans. The members of the Société Jersiaise, who own the site, say that the fencing is necessary in order to prevent further erosion. However, the island’s Pagan community have responded that this is an example of religious discrimination.The passage grave, which is five metres in length and leads into a series of circular chambers, is currently estimated to date back as far as 3250 to 4000 B.C.E. Excavations in 1839, 1868 and later in 1910 by the Société Jersiaise members revealed human bones belonging to both adults and children. One intact skeleton was found in a seated position.
Tony Bellowes, a local historian, states that it is one of two monuments on the island which are aligned with the spring equinox. “What practices took place can only be surmised as no records exist for the stone age. The alignment with the spring solstice probably points to rituals associated with farming, and blessing the crops to be planted.”
Human habitation on the island (which at one point would have been part of the European continent, connected by a land bridge) is demonstrably ancient, with evidence of Neanderthal settlement and Paleolothic occupation, too. In the Neolithic period, dolmens and menhirs were erected across the island. In the more modern day, stories of the pouques (fairies) are connected with many of these objects. The name of this site, Pouquelye, may be connected to this word for fairy: it has been translated as ‘Puck’s Stone’: ‘puck’ and ‘pooka’ being also old English words for fairy folk. These stones were also said in old legends to have been moved by fairy magic.
Lieutenant-Bailiff Jean Poingdestre, in his 1682 Discourse of the Island of Jersey, tells us that
“The most ancient are what wee call Poquelayes, which consist for the most part of foure huge stones, whereof three planted on end Triangle-wise and the fourth flatter then ye rest and soe large as being layd on ye top of them three to beare on them all…I take them to have been sett up for Altars upon hills and open places and many times neare the Sea…’.
Speaking for the Société Jersiaise, Nicolette Westwood said, with regard to the recent fencing, that “It would be the same as if part of a church were undergoing damage, and that section needed to be temporarily fenced off, but churchgoers would still have access to the church.”
Société leaders are concerned about “spoil heaps” around the passage grave: material removed from the original chambers which may contain further archaeological clues about the monument’s origins, and these are the areas which have been fenced off. The Société Jersiaise was founded in 1873 for the study of Jersey archaeology, history, natural history, the ancient language and the conservation of the environment.
Rhianna Galvin Hughes, a local Pagan and fifth-generation Romany resident of the island, says however that this constitutes religious discrimination, as Pagans use the monument and others on Jersey for the festivals of the eightfold wheel. “It would have been nice if they had contacted the Pagan community and let someone know what they wanted to do. This is a very natural site and the fencing they have put up takes away from it.”
It is perhaps worth noting that the BBC Twitter link to this report has contained some negative comments about Pagans and references to bringing back witch-burning.
This episode is one of several conflicts between archaeologists and preservation societies, and Pagans, in recent years. The Pagan community in the U.K. tries, in the main, to work with societies such as English Heritage and the National Trust, particularly with regard to major monuments such as Stonehenge and Avebury, and workable compromises have been found between the two groups with, for instance, Stonehenge being opened up at the solstices, and available for use by private Pagan groups.
There is a divergence of opinion within the U.K. Pagan community itself: a number of Pagans are themselves professional archaeologists, and groups such as Pagans for Archaeology continue to press for greater understanding of both the preservation argument and the case for public use. Organisations such as HAD – Honouring the Ancient Dead – take a slightly different approach, working for an increased respect on the part of historians and archaeologists with regard to ancestral remains.
Leaders of Pagans for Archaeology state, “We’re Pagans who love archaeology and believe that it has contributed hugely to our knowledge of our ancestors and the religions of the past. Without archaeology, people would still think ancient peoples were fur-clad smelly cannibals and that ancient paganism involved frequent human sacrifice.
“In addition, we are opposed to the reburial of ancient human remains, and want them to be preserved so that the memory of the ancestors can be perpetuated and rescued from oblivion, and the remains can be studied scientifically for the benefit of everyone. Of course we want human remains to be treated with respect, but respect does not automatically mean reburial. Respect should mean memory, which involves recovering the stories of past people.
“We also believe that the excavation of Seahenge was a good thing, contributing hugely to our knowledge of Bronze Age religious practices.”
The position advanced by organizers of Honouring the Ancient Dead, on the other hand, advance that idea that the collective group “works to support those who have specific interests in ancestral ‘remains,’ whatever their religious or non-religious beliefs, with the express focus of encouraging and facilitating productive relations with those who have custody of the ‘remains.’ This includes clear dialogue, defining terms where there is confusion, promoting consultative models, encouraging community involvement and shared decision-making, at both local and national levels. It also works to produce relevant policies, guidance and best practice documents for use by heritage organisations and individuals working with ancestors, and to keep an up-to-date database of what ancestral ‘remains’ are held and where, keeping this in the public domain for widespread access.”
It is to be hoped that the situation on Jersey will result in a mutually acceptable compromise.Read more »
- Just What Is Today’s Paganism?What most Pagans are is at least spiritual. We use the tools of Paganism to connect with something larger than ourselves. For some that means deity. For others it's magick, and for still others it's the natural world. That we are capable of respecting these different ways of connection and still maintain something resembling a positive community speaks well of us. Read more »
- Gatekeeping & The GodsTo limit a deity to only a certain time or space limits that deity. If we believe the gods have agency, then we have to believe that the gods have the power to choose who honors them. But on the other hand, we have an obligation as human beings to treat deities and cultures outside of our own with respect. Read more »Powered by: RSS Feed News Blocks