Fifth Sacred Thing Film Update and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: The planned movie adaptation of Starhawk’s novel “The Fifth Sacred Thing,” has officially launched its Kickstarter fundraising campaign (complete with fundraising pitch video featuring Starhawk). They are looking to raise $60,000 dollars in 60 days. There has been just over $10,000 dollars pledged in the first two days. The money will be used to make a professional pitch video to the major film studios.

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“Now we’re asking for your support.  What will we do with the money?  You’ve seen in the video some of the brilliant artists who inspire us, and who want to work with us.  With your help, we’ll be able to create the next phase; designs for sets and costumes, visuals of key scenes, and storyboards for the action.  We can secure the rights to the music and art we need, and do those dull but oh-so-necessary things like finalizing contracts, budgets and financial plans.  To ensure that we are able to continue to develop the strongest possible project, we estimate that we’ll need about double our Kickstarter campaign goal of $60,000, and we’re certain that with your help, along with the tremendous support we’ve been receiving from our entire community, we can do it.”

The official website for the film is here.  They are also encouraging folks to connect with them on Facebook and Twitter. If this succeeds it will be the largest sum of money collectively raised on the Internet for a campaign originating with modern Pagans. Doubling what was raised earlier this year for Japan relief. I’ll have more on this project soon, hopefully including an interview with Starhawk about the proposed film.

Interview with Iceland’s Allsherjargoði: Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried at The Norse Mythology Blog interviews Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, chief priest of Iceland’s Ásatrúarfélagið. In the interview they discuss art, mythology, working with Sigur Rós, and the question of pre-Christian survivals (among other things).

KS – Do you see contemporary Ásatrú in Iceland as a continuation of a living tradition that goes back to ancient times, as a recreation and revival of a practice that had ended, as a descendent of 19th century nationalist romantic mysticism, as a post-war rejection of modernity, or as a post-1960s counterculture movement?

HÖH – I think, probably, I would say “yes” to all those things. The influence of this seems to resonate with Icelanders. The poems never really went away, and they’ve been treasured ever since they were handed down orally and written down. I’m pretty certain that the people in the learned places of Oddi and Reykholt and [elsewhere] were reading Ovid and Roman mythology, and they realized, “My god, we have this thinghere which is a living and vibrant thing, and this is what my great-grandfather believed in,” and stuff like that. I think it never really went away.

It was said – after the conversion in 1000 or 999 – that you could not worship the old gods except in secrecy. That was part of the truce. People carried on secret worship for at least two centuries. I don’t think it ever really went away. To illustrate that, I met this old man in the shop yesterday. He came up to me and shook my hand, and he told me that – when he was confirmed in the early 1920s – his grandmother came to him and gave him a book with the Eddic poems and said, “You should read that, because this is what we also believe.” She thought, “Christianity is okay, but you should not forget your roots.” Ha! I think that’s really a telling story.

The whole thing is worth a read, and that’s only part one! Check out the entire blog, which is chock-full of interesting interviews, including one with Jóhanna G. Harðardóttir of the Ásatrúarfélagið.

A Wiccaning at PSG: Cara Schulz from PNC-Minnesota has posted a brief report and pictures of a Wiccaning that took place earlier this week at the 2011 Pagan Spirit Gathering in Illinois.

“Rev. Fox blessed the child with element of earth, air, water, fire, and spirit and gifted Arden with a feather found on site.  Arden enjoyed the first half of the ceremony, especially when Fox played peek-a-boo with him.  But as the sun came out, so did some tears.  Rev. Fox noted that was just what Arden should expect from  life, times of laughter and times of tears.  The parents, Kidril and Twitch, then gave their baby his first drum and gave him their blessings.  The community was then invited to grant Arden blessings such as friendship, comfort, peace, and love.”

I realize that a Wiccaning (or ‘saining’) at a festival isn’t the biggest news, but I don’t feel enough attention is paid to our faiths outside of big events or inadvertent scandals. Depictions of modern Pagans living their faith, going through life’s many transitions, can be an important tool for outreach and understanding. I’d like to thank Selena Fox, Kidril, Twitch, and Arden for agreeing to share this moment with the world.

My Take on Religious Exemptions: My latest panelist response for the Washington Post’s On Faith section is now up. This time I tackled the issue of religious exemptions in New York’s proposed gay marriage bill.

“Often overlooked in this wrangling over exemptions are religious groups that fully support equal rights and protections for all American citizens, even the gay ones. Gay marriage is almost wholly uncontroversial among modern Pagan faiths. Druid group Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF)has “never believed that the institution of marriage could possibly be threatened by the existence of married people of any gender,” while Pagan scholar Michael York, author of “Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion,”underlines that sentiment by proclaiming that “freedom has to be the highest Pagan goal and virtue.” Gay marriage has been endorsed by notable Pagan leaders like my fellow co-panelist Starhawk, along with leading Pagan organizations like Covenant of the Goddess (COG) and Cherry Hill Seminary. Yet, despite this, few seem unconcerned that one religious moral view concerning marriage is allowed to override another. The simple fact is that certain Christian and Catholic groups are used to getting their way, and it matters little to them if a moral world-view they endorse overrules the world-views of other religious groups. So the more exemptions granted, the more we’re tacitly saying a socially conservative Judeo-Christian approach to these issues is the de facto “religious” perspective.”

You can read my entire response, here. You can responses from the entire panel, here.

In Other News:

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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Being a Religious Minority (in Public Schools)
Sick Day
Pagan Psychotherapist Celebrates Conversion Therapy Ban in California
The Religious Pundit Class Equivalent of Hippie Punching
About Jason Pitzl-Waters
  • Jay

    First, I think this project with Starhawk is a fabulous and something I’m planning to support with my dollars. Second, I appreciate that you shared a wiccanning. I am inspired and gratified to see rites of passage being done in the community.

  • Anonymous

    The interview with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson at Karl Seigfried’s Norse Mythology Blog is pretty amazing. In addition to what Jason already quoted, Himlarsson also talks about the involvement of the Ásatrúarfélagið in gay rights activism, environmentalism and working with other Icelandic religious groups in calling for an end to the special status of National Church of Iceland.

    And the interview also mentions Aleister Crowley, Willhelm Reich, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac …. And when they finally get around to Wagner, he says, “Reading the Nibelungenlied, I kept waiting for Wotan and the dragon to appear, but it’s really a medieval Christian epic. There’s almost no actual German mythology in the Wagner operas.”

    I think I’m in love.

  • Kauko

    Agreed, a great interview. Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson seems like a fascinating, interesting guy.

  • Kauko

    I’ll admit I’ve never heard of the group the people in the Finnish article seem to represent (Karhun Kansa or Bear Folk in the translated version, which is terrible by the way, but Finnish does not work well with online translators, maybe because it is so highly inflected). The link at the bottom of the article, though, is for Taivaannaula, who I have heard of and who regularly organize suomenusko events in Finland. The article doesn’t specify if the people being interviewed are associated with Taivaannaula or if they are a separate group.

  • Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    What a lovely photo of the baby blessing! Congrats to baby Arden and his folks.

  • Kidril Telrunya

    Kidril here! and i say thank you so much Alice! Im so happy i searched for the wiccaning, or i would have no idea itd be on here! such a happy suprise!!

  • Cara Schulz

    Sometimes PNC-Minnesota stories get picked up by The Wild Hunt. Glad you enjoyed it seeing the photo here. We’ll do a massive link post on all the stories the media did at PSG and post it to the PSG yahoo group.

  • kali zoid

    To the extent that “marriage” involves civil rights and legalities of relationships among citizens, then religious organizations probably ought not to have much voice in marriage laws.

    If these “religious exemptions” mean something like ” my religion keeps me from doing business with gays who are marrying,” well, the wedding money will get spent with some business ready and willing to provide wedding goods and services. I think this is one of those choices that capitalism insists are essential to everybody’s sound economy, or some such.

    As for some religions being too used to getting their way about non-adherents’ civil rights and legal standing, yeah, they are. But it doesn’t seem to me that marriages work out all that well for their exclusively heterosexual couples, either.

  • Crystal Kendrick

    Yep, 60% divorce rate.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The religious exemptions that really bother me are those whose alternative devastates vulnerable bystanders in the name of a higher morality. I’m thinking of the Catholic Charities in Boston, which got out of the adoption placement business because anti-discrimination laws would require them to place children with gay married couples against their “principles,” and the state wouldn’t give them one of these exemptions. Catholic Charities worked with kids in the foster care system, who are among the hardest to place. So just because Rome won’t budge on its “intrinsically disordered” superstition about homosexuality, these kids are thrown under the bus.

  • Chas

    I read The Fifth Sacred Thing. It was plodding and propagandistic. I would not be interested in a movie version.

  • Rena McGee

    I liked parts of it, but it didn’t “ring true” for me. I was also annoyed by certain situations and the preachiness. I’d be willing to watch the movie, however. I thought the prequel was much better.

  • Jason Pitzl-Waters

    I’m personally awaiting a film version of Stewart Farrar’s “Omega” ( ).

  • Morningdove3202

    I haven’t read the book yet, but I have ordered it from I would like to read it before I support the film.

  • Djhutmosu Si-Hathor

    “The more Catholics, socially conservative Protestants, and Orthodox Jews try to wall off a piece of society for themselves, the more irrelevant they will ultimately become in future generations.” Then shouldn’t we let them keep going until fade into total irrelevance? 😉 *snark*

  • Crystal Kendrick

    Not necessarily bad, just the natural consequences of non-adaptation. It is what it is. Maybe they’ll catch on and adjust, maybe not. [shrugs]

  • Crystal Kendrick

    Thanks Jason and Cara for writing up the saining. It makes for a nice change of pace to include these small but important every day moments.