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 let’s get started!
A Breakthrough on the Issue of Trans Inclusion? In Friday’s Unleash the Hounds, I reported that questions over transgender inclusion at women-only rituals had become an issue at the then in-progress Pagan Spirit Gathering festival. A situation that echoed incidents at PantheaCon in the past two years. Yesterday, newly returned from the festival, Cara Schulz from PNC-Minnesota reports on what may be a historic press conference held on Saturday, featuring Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, Dianic High Priestess Ruth Barrett, and festival presenter and transgendered activist Melissa Murry.
“Both women said the transgender community is trying to find their voice, similar to the feminist movement in the 60′s and 70′s. Like the feminist movement, they speak of suffering, pain, and violence. Murry and Barrett also spoke of the value in claiming mysteries and rituals specific to their sacred journey as women. “Within my Tradition, which is about the female body and the journey of being born female and the journey through the bloods and birth and menopause,” said Barrett. “That is a different journey for transgendered women who come to womanhood through a different path.”
Rev. Fox announced that at next year’s PSG they would offer a mystery ritual and rites of passage for transgendered persons if Ms. Murry would lead them. After Murry agreed to do so, she asked Barrett if she would assist her. Barrett was unsure if she would be able to attend PSG next year due to changes in her personal life, but said she would help Murry however she was able.”
In a release sent to various Pagan media outlets, Barrett said that she couldn’t “express enough how happy and hopeful I am from the work accomplished at PSG,” and that the work accomplished at this festival will be “a model for other pagan festivals that are dealing with female-born space and trans inclusion/exclusion issues.” While not all concerns about ritual inclusion were solved, there did seem to be some important shifts taking place at PSG, including the acknowledgment that trans women are women by a prominent Dianic leader. You can listen to, and download, audio of the entire press conference, here (note, the PNC is looking for volunteer transcriptionists so we can make the content more accessible) .
Pagan Pride at NY Pride: Earlier this month I reported on the involvement of Christopher Penczak‘s Temple of Witchcraft in the 2012 Boston Pride Parade, now we have a photo from another Pagan group in a LGBT Pride Month parade.
As you can see from the photo, that’s a contingent from the New York City Pagan Pride Project at the New York City Gay Pride Parade, showing their support for LGBTQ rites. This NYC Pride Parade marked the first anniversary of same-sex marriage becoming legal in New York. Also involved in the parade, carrying their own banner, was the NY Gay Men’s Open Pagan Circle. Zan Fraser, a contributor to The Juggler, was there, and plans to post about his experiences soon.
Songs of the Goddess: The blog Songs of the Goddess, where Draeden Wren diligently reviews Pagan and Pagan-friendly music, has released a free sampler of Pagan music entitled: “A Pagan Music Collection (Volume 1).”
“I am truly a fan of these artists, and I am so grateful they accepted my proposal for them to be a part of this project. More important than that, I am so happy to be a soundboard for these artists. They need people to know about them! We are able to listen to brilliant Goddess/Nature-based/Tree-hugger music because of these creators.”
Artists on the compilation include Sharon Knight, Damh the Bard, Wendy Rule, Kenny Klein, Deborah “DJ” Hamouris, Amelia Hogan, and many more! It’s a nice round-up of the bigger names within Pagan music, and you certainly can’t beat the price. You can find the download link, here. You can also find Songs of the Goddess at Facebook.
In Other Community News:
- Please pray and do workings for the health of Pagan activist Patrick McCollum, who is recovering from a serious illness related to exposure to neuro-toxins and a subsequent snake bite.
- Brendan Myers, author of “Circles of Meaning, Labyrinths of Fear” and “The Other Side of Virtue,” has almost reached his goal to raise $5000 dollars to write a college-level logic text that would be made available to the world for free. Myers is a professor of philosophy and humanities at CEGEP Heritage College, in Gatineau Quebec, in addition to being a Druid, so you be assured that this text, and this campaign, are worthwhile. Let’s help get him to his goal, shall we?
- Pagan Spirit Gathering isn’t the only Pagan festival happening this Summer, Jason Mankey files a report from Wisteria Summer Solstice, focusing on Pagan music. Quote: “…in my fevered state I got to listen to some fantastic sets by Kenny Klein, Kellianna, Owain Phyfe, and GBMojo. The only problem I experienced with any of those artists involved GBMojo’s Bekah Kelso who nearly stole my heart by just being exceedingly kind and incredibly beautiful.”
- If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that Dan Halloran, a member of the New York City Council, and a Theodish Heathen, is running for a seat in congress. Well, now you can see his first campaign video, where he shows his local bona fides, and attacks Obama. For background on Halloran, and what Theodism is, check out the recent guest posts from Nick Ritter.
- Over at the Huffington Post, Teo Bishop reviews “Jesus Through Pagan Eyes: Bridging Neopagan Perspectives with a Progressive Vision of Christ” by the Reverend Mark Townsend. Quote: “I think there is good cause for Christians and Pagans, alike, to read Jesus through Pagan Eyes, and to step back from our preconceptions about one another.” You can read my own review, here. My planned podcast dialog with Rev. Townsend and Paul Louis Metzger has been pushed to July, due to health issues, but will be happening.
That’s all I have for now! Are there blogs, podcasts, or other Pagan news sources you think I’m missing out on? Please leave links in the comments, and if there’s news in your community be sure to share it!
Wonderful news from PSG! Blessings on Murry and Barrett, and especially on Selena for midwifing the outcome.
Thank you for promoting my “Campaign for Clear and Present Thinking”, Jason! I’ve been in touch with two seminaries who plan to use it for religious education. They like the idea of a book on critical thinking that is not written by a militant atheist. 🙂
Agreed! Hopefully this is just the first step.
Hey Jason- thanks so much for this piece on NYC Pagan Pride at Gay Pride 2012. As with all Prides, a thousand wonderful stories (for the record, I’m the guy to be located between the lavender bandana and the rainbow shirt): A couple quick, for now-
(1) I really want to encourage Pagans to begin investigating supporting their local Gay Pride Marches, as Pagans for LGBT Rights, and as Pagans expressing Pagan Pride. One of the lessons in Magick in LGBTQ Pride Marches is, it’s about Claiming and Owning your Own Pride- whatever that Pride might be- Gay Pride, Pagan Pride- OWN your own Pride.
(2) In addition to experience in Claiming Pride: participation in a Pride March provides exposure. There was a hard-core tradition in NYC in the early 1990s (back in the days of two NYC Pagan Groups called New Moon, New York, and Queer Pagans) of Pagans marching in the Pride Parades, as Pagans for Gay Rights and Pagans expressing Pagan Pride (you turn out for a Pride Parade, you get to do both- support Gay Rights AND own your own Pride, whatever that Pride might be).
As of the early 2000s, there has been a break-down in this NYC tradition, and Pagan Pride NYC and the NYC Open Gay Men’s Pagan Circle are reviving it.
I was struck by how many people wanted to take our group’s photo, and by how consistently thru-out the March, people came up to us, very much wanting us to understand that they, too, were Pagan, and that they appreciated seeing us there, as Out and Proud Pagans.
If you turn out as Proud Pagans (for LGBTQ Rights), you can inspire others with the Liberation of Pride.
I’m confident that NYC Pagans can get at least twice as many Pagans to turn out next year (one thing we were missing, was Drummers: folks are fascinated by Pagans, cause we end up with Drummers with us): anyone who wants to experience a Pride March- NYC is the Place where “Pride Began.”
Ruth and I were very committed to dialogue and finding a different path. She was very receptive to listening to issues that concerned trans men and women. We spent many hours speaking to each other from a place of love and when we came to the morning meeting together we were greeted by Selena. The work continues but the foundation has been laid. I really would like input from trans pagans concerning our rites and mysteries, as I will be facilitating a TGROP ritual at the next PSG. Also, I ask that you send feedback to Circle asking for inclusive main rituals, and express your support of diversity which includes the Dianic Mysteries as well as Transgendered Mysteries. And much thanks for reporting on the work that was done at PSG 2012!
Teo Bishop’s review reads like an advert for pantheism.
As a polytheist, I have beliefs about Jesus (and his dad), but they would be seen as heretical by mainstream Christians (I started my road to Paganism as a polytheistic Christian, incidentally). And that is something that is unlikely to ever be reconciled – that there is more than one valid interpretation of the Christ.
Has it been revealed/said anywhere what Ruth referred to when she said “due to changes in her personal life” she might not make next year’s PSG? I hope it’s not her or Falcon’s health issues, but heck, I can do one major (and likely boring to most) organ recital on my own!
Ruth did not give any specifics on what would prevent her from attending PSG next year – just that it was related to her personal life and was in no way to be seen as a lack of commitment on her part towards helping Melissa Murry with Trans mysteries or rites of passage at the next PSG.
THIS, is what makes me proud to be a Pagan! Let us take the midguided actions and injustices of all communities (race, religious, gender, orientation, etc. based) and use them to motivate us as a community for the betterment of all. Things like this will take time and will seem almost impossible along the course, but THIS IS a reason to fight for!
I had the pleasure three years ago of meeting Owain Phyfe. His music can only be described as “dreamy”. Medieval music from Spain anyone? Beautiful.
At this point, I think “Acta, non verba” describes my attitude toward Ms. Barrett’s actions toward trans women. If she truly wants to be believed that she’s having a change of heart in any sense, she should put her money where her mouth is, and her body, heart and soul into the same ritual space as trans women.
Actually she did participate in community ritual as well as the ritual we held for healing, education, and birth of a new web of Wyrrd in the Transgender Tribe workshop that I conducted. She connected energetically with all who connected to this web as we birthed this into life! Afterwards, all who were birthing got the cord that connected us to the web (including Ruth) and the web will be used in workings as I travel and connect with a vision of inclusion and education on Transgender inclusion/Mysteries. I also asked the participants (men, women, and non-gender individuals) to keep the umbilical cord from the birth to connect with the web as they do their own personal workings towards the same ends from home. This is a starting point and as we dialogue, she has also pledged to help as I create Mysteries ROP for PSG next year! I hope this demonstrates our intent towards working and circling together!
Melissa Murry and Ruth Barrett are incredible human beings for showing us how to work towards understanding and respect in the most challenging of situations. I have such respect for both of them. Our community needed a Ruth Barrett at this time to show a genuine face to the movement and help us to connect to the hurt on all sides. Murry equals courage to me. What an honor to have been present and to watch respect manifest when it was assumed there could not be. Blessed Be chances for growth on all sides.