Pagan Community Notes: PSG, Temple of Witchcraft at Pride, Witches & Pagans Magazine, and More!

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

Pagan Spirit Gathering Breaks Registration Records: Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG), one of America’s oldest and largest Pagan festivals, begins in less than a week. On Saturday, Selena Fox, senior minister and high priestess of Circle Sanctuary, the organization that sponsors PSG,  announced that they will set a new record for attendance at the event.

Selena Fox holding 1000+ "spirit bundles" for PSG attendees.

Selena Fox holding 1000+ "spirit bundles" for PSG attendees.

“Breaking News! Pagan Spirit Gathering 2012 is going to be the most attended PSG yet! Just learned that we now have over 1000 people (all ages) registered. [...] This is the first time we have had more than 1000 people at a PSG!”

This is a remarkable achievement for the event, which has been held since 1980, and in several different locations over the years. A testament to the sense of community built during the 10-day-long festival. This year’s featured presenters include Margot Adler, author of “Drawing Down the Moon,” Crystal Blanton, author of “Bridging the Gap,” and chaplain/activist Patrick McCollum. There will also be musical performances by Damh the Bard and Arthur Hinds, among others. Representatives from the Pagan Newswire Collective will be there, and I have no doubt we’ll be hearing much, much more about the event in the weeks to come.

Temple of Witchcraft at Boston Pride: June is LGBT Pride month in the United States, and Pride parades and marches are happening across the country. This past Saturday was the 2012 Boston Pride Parade, and in addition to local politicians and local celebrities, several religious groups also took part.  One Pagan religious group marching in the parade was the Temple of Witchcraft, an organization that was co-founded by author Christopher Penczak.

Temple of Witchcraft at Boston Pride.

Temple of Witchcraft at Boston Pride.

“Many thanks to all those who came out to march behind the Temple of Witchcraft banner in the Boston Pride March — our largest group of Pagans ever! — and thanks to those who supported us (and continue to do so) from afar!”Steve, Gemini minister

The Temple, founded by gay men, marched to proclaim that “All Acts of Love and Pleasure Are Our Rituals.” You can find more pictures and commentary on their participation at the Temple of Witchcraft Facebook page. Later this month the Temple will be holding their own TempleFest gathering in in South Hampton, NH.

Witches & Pagans Magazine Adds Bloggers: In recent months Witches & Pagans Magazine, a publication that emerged from the merger of PanGaia and NewWitch, has been stepping up their web presence. The Pagan periodical has been reprinting older articles to their website, hiring new columnists (like Raven Grimassi), and now adding a fleet of Pagan bloggers to their site.

Screenshot of W&P's "PaganSquare" blogs.

Screenshot of W&P's "PaganSquare" blogs.

“I’m pumped up by our new bloggers at WitchesandPagans.com. My DH Alan had to drag me kicking and screaming (sometimes literally — the screaming, I mean) into doing this for our magazines, but now I’m as jazzed as he is. There’s been a lot of ego-stripping going on around here, but I believe it’s all to the good.”Anne Newkirk Niven, Executive Editor, Witches & Pagans Magazine

Active bloggers at Witches and Pagans Magazine include Cat TreadwellDiotima Mantineia, Kenaz Filan, Selina Rifkin, Tess Dawson, and WitchDoctor Joe. In addition, if you look at their contributors page, it seems like they have more bloggers coming soon. I’m happy to see W&P take this step into providing exclusive, regularly updated, content for their site. A healthy Pagan media is one where several outlets thrive, interact, and yes, compete. As such, I wish Anne and the W&P team every success, and look forward to following their output.

In Other Community News:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brrl141lpJY

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrXarBwPB3U

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

About Jason Pitzl-Waters
  • PJ

    Love it when you have such a great batch of news to report. PSG sounds fantastic this year – wish I could go but hope to go next year. 

  • Zan Fraser

    Hey- just like to point out that the New York City Pagans (Queer and Straight alike) are planning to represent NYC Pagan Pride and Solidarity with Queer Pride, as Pagans for Gay Rights, in the NYC Pride Parade later in the month. Seriously- Pride Parades are a good way for Pagans to represent to the public, for those seeking ways to “Come Out Pagan.” Act Up! Fight Back! Fight Pagan-Phobia! Out of the Broom-Closets, and into the Streets! We’re Here! We’re Pagan! Get used to it!

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      I hope you’ll take some photos and share them with us!

      • Aidan Kelly

         Hey, Jason, thanks for the plug and the welcome. I expecy to have a lot of fun on here.

    • Zan Fraser

      Just remembered another one: What do we want? PAGAN RIGHTS! When do we want them? NOW! Admittedly, We’re Here, We’re Queer, Get used to it! has more snap in the original, because of the rhyme. Don’t ask me why, I’ve had this in my head lately: Two, Four, Six, Eight- How do you know your Deity is Straight!?

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

         We shouldn’t want ‘Pagan’ rights. We should want equal rights.

        (Also, don’t shout that you want Pagan Rights – people will hear a call for Pagan Rites.)

        As for the deity bit, I know a Loki worshipper, and he famously transformed into a mare and got knocked up by a stallion. Would that count as transgender?

        • Nick Ritter

          By definition, yes.

          • Zan Fraser

            Also, wasn’t there a story about Odinn wanting to learn Seidr (spelling?) and Freyya, the High Priestess, made Him wear a dress (essentially becoming a “woman”) to do so? Wouldn’t that be a Transgendered Tale as well?

          • Nick Ritter

            No, that isn’t in the myths. You might be thinking of the myth where Thor has to disguise himself as Freyja in order to win back his hammer. This is transvestitism, certainly, and similar tales are told of Achilles, Herakles, various English kings, etc.

          • Zan Fraser

            Hey Mr. Ritter- I’m afraid that now I’m confused: I’m looking at Carolyne Larrington’s translation of The Poetic Edda (Oxford World’s Classics, 1996), “Loki’s Quarrel,” verse 24 (p. 89), concerning in context, Loki’s conversation with Odinn, where Loki says, “But you once practised seid on Samsey, and you beat on the drum as witches do, in the likeness of a wizard you journeyed among mankind, and that I thought the hallmark of a pervert.”

            In her Notes to “Loki’s Quarrel” (p. 275), Ms. Larrington describes this verse thus: “the use of drums and cross-dressing seems to be typical of seid, a type of magic said to be practiced by the Vanir, especially Freyia [referencing 'Seeress's Prophecy,' v. 22], and by the Lapps.” 
            In the context of the Tale: if Odinn (as charged by Loki) practised Seid on Samsey, beating on the drum as Witches do- and if Seid (according to Ms. Larrington) involves both “using drums” and “cross-dressing”- perhaps the “hallmarks of perverts”-
            my understanding was that Odinn cross-dressed (in the manner of Shamans world-wide), in order to learn Seid, this “magic said to be practiced by the Vanir, especially Freyia.”

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             Loki does say that in the Lokasenna, but he also mentions other things that are not referenced elsewhere in the extant collection of myths (such as Sif’s infidelity  with himself).

            Many presume that Loki is referencing previous exploits of the gods, but others suggest that he could just as easily be making up malicious lies.

            As to Þórr’s transvestism, that was grudging and for ulterior motives, so can’t really be used as a good example for the ‘divine’ justification of cross-dressing.

            There is another reference to Óðinn’s use of both transvestism and seiðr – the wooing of Rindr (mother of Váli). This is mentioned in book three of the Gesta Danorum, by Saxo Grammaticus, and the Sigurðarkviða, by Kormákr Ögmundarson (the protagonist of Kormáks saga).

            Again, however, we see an ulterior motive beyond ‘pure’ transvestism.

          • Folcwald

             Zan: You are referring to the euhemerized account of the gods in Heimskringla. There is no direct reference to cross-dressing, only mention that Seidhr is usually thought of as unmanly.

            As for you Locasenna reference, the leap from “in the likeness of a wizard” (“vitka liki” – more like “in vitki’s shape,” a vitki being a type of sorcerer or wizard) to “cross-dressed” is far from certain. In other places, wizards are described as, among other things, wearing red pants. Larrington’s claim is based on knowledge of a non-Norse but neighboring and influential culture (the Sami – no one calls them “Lapps” anymore). Loki’s accusing him of being womanly (“args”) gets into a difficult cultural context which in some cases includes everything from doing magic to (in Saxo) eating spiced food and engaging in lots of heterosexual sex, rather than being disciplined and warrior-like.  The evidence that this has anything to do in this particular instance with cross-dressing is mighty thin.

      • http://twitter.com/nycflame Phoenix

         “Don’t ask me why, I’ve had this in my head lately: Two, Four, Six, Eight- How do you know your Deity is Straight!?”

        Lol Zan

      • Northern_Light_27

         Just as long as there aren’t straight people chanting “what do we want? PAGAN RIGHTS” at LGBT Pride, because that puts a really sour taste in my mouth. It’d be repurposing something that’s not about them to advocate for a side issue. Not the time, not the place.

        • Zan Fraser

          Hey Northern Light- one, my impression was that you did not even live in the United States. Two, the majority of USA NYC Pagans to whom I refer, have WAY years’ experience reading the Context of a Pride Parade. I don’t really find it seemly, that you should presume to tell NYC Pagans how to “do” during a NYC Pride March. We’re talking NYC Pride Parade Veterans of sometimes twenty years here.

          • Northern_Light_27

             Just because I siad something someone said on another post presumed an all-American audience for this blog doesn’t mean I don’t live in the US. I do.

            And the only context I had for what I said was that “queer and straight” Pagans were going to march and chant. I’m glad you’re talking about people with that much experience. I’ve had some prior bad experience with straight people making Pride all about them and being generally sh*tty allies, so it’s the broader context I’m talking about here. (“I’ve got a rainbow lei and a “gay? fine by me” t-shirt, so I’m Tolerant! Who cares if I vote Republican every election? I’m Tolerant, see?”)

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             Perhaps the ‘Pride’ organisations could work together for joint events, thus promoting universal acceptance – true equality? (As well as having their individual events, not instead of.)

        • Lori F -MN

          If Pagans walk in a non-Pagan parade wouldn’t a better chant be
          “what do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!”?

          Isn’t that what we want for everyone?

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             One would hope so. Otherwise it wouldn’t actually be equality.

          • Bookhousegal

             Actually,  if Pagan groups walk in LGBT Pride,  the point isn’t what we want as Pagans ourselves,  but rather to show support and unity with LGBT people.  

            If groups of *queer* Pagans walk in Pride parades, that’s kind of about both that and the LGBT pride in diversity thing.    *As* a  queer Pagan,  I can say that there’s a lot of similarities and overlap.  I’ve marched with ‘Queer Pagan’ groups,  (ie, groups for Pagan LGBT people about LGBT stuff,)   practiced with Pagan groups that happen to be founded by or happen to be mostly LGBT people,  but aren’t *about* that,  and Pagan groups that  are mostly straight people but supportive and accepting,  (usually the latter two are the same thing,  the only difference being demographics)  ….but each would have a different approach to marching in an LGBT pride parade. 

            That’s really OK,  but it’s important to remember that LGBT pride isn’t *about us,* as Pagans,  even if the same people suppressing us as LGBT people are the ones trying to suppress us as Pagans,  and in fact even if supporting and accepting LGBT people is very much part of many of our religious paths. 

            Just a matter of keeping one’s intentions and expressions on track with what you’re doing, not there being any ‘one answer. ‘

  • Zan Fraser

    See, cause all the old Act Up chants are coming back to me: this is the best (adapted for Paganism)- Say it NOW and say it LOUD! I’m a PAGAN and I’M PROUD!! Rock on, Pagans.

  • http://blog.chasclifton.com/ Chas S. Clifton

    It’s interesting that Witches & Pagans lists Isaac Bonewits as a contributor. I wonder how they manage that. Or is he “in syndication” now? :)

    • http://www.witchesandpagans.com/ Anne Newkirk Niven

      Isaac was a columnist for Witches&Pagans and as we are showing many of his columns online I believe that counts as a contributor.  Jason’s article above suggests incorrectly that all of the contributors we have listed are bloggers, but many wrote articles we have previously published in our print editions.  All the material posted on the site was original to the magazine at the time it was originally published unless otherwise noticed. I hope that this clarifies the situation. We are in no way trying to trade improperly on Isaac’s good name; if Phaedra tells us to remove the material we will honor her wishes.


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