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12 Feb 2014

The Conference on Current Pagan Studies Celebrates 10 Years

Posted by Joanne Elliott. No Comments

Friday night celebration with cake

Friday night celebration with cake
Photo by Charles Elliott

The tenth annual Conference on Pagan Studies this past weekend in Claremont brought to bear the research of two dozen scholars and alternative religious activists to consider issues including Pagan identity, racism and homophobia within the community and the environmental impact of what has often been referred to as an “earth-based religion.”

The Feb. 8-9 conference at Claremont Graduate University, an official event of the Women’s Studies in Religion program at Claremont, focused upon the theme “Relationships with the World.” It fittingly began with a video from Patrick McCollum, a Wiccan Priest who has been invited to represent American paganism the UN and to large religious gatherings around the world. The video was a hello to us from India as he made his way to the Mahayaga in Kerala. Patrick was invited to co-facilitate this multi-million person spiritually-based event. He stated in his video that, “We need a new narrative that includes everyone.” He believes that within Paganism we have an inclusive story.

There were twenty-three conference presenters including the two keynote speakers, Lon Milo DuQuette and Crystal Blanton. Everyone had something interesting to say, but I will only give an overview of important highlights for the Pagan community. You can see the full list of presenters here along with the titles of their papers. If you want a detailed account of all the speakers you can check out Tony Mierzwicki’s blog, The Emerald Tablet. (To be up within the next couple of days.)

Joseph Futerman in his paper “The Burning Times Bugaboo—Using Fear to Create Insiders in Contemporary Paganism” asked us: “Why do we keep this myth of destruction, sadness and loss alive?” It hasn’t stopped genocides. He later went on to say that he was using the word “myth” to mean story or narrative and not an untruth, but a greater truth. What is that greater truth we think we are telling ourselves and what does the myth of the Burning Times give us? He suggested that it gives us our identity, the Insider versus the Outsider. He then asked a few more questions:

  • What is the effect of interacting from fear, suspicion and anger?
  • What is the effect of claiming that we are the disempowered few?
  • Is this what we seek to teach?

Joseph likes to ask questions, at some point later in the conference he said, “I only ask questions, I don’t have the answers.” This is what this conference is all about. And his provocative questions sparked some interesting comments during the Q&A. Sabina Magliocco talked about the trope of the disempowered and identity and how that has helped create some important movements like Feminism and the Civil Rights Movement. Joseph suggested that working from this identity ultimately leads to war in terms of things like the war on poverty. He also mentioned that embracing this role means we’re agreeing with those who think we shouldn’t be here. There was a lot to contemplate.

So what else do Pagans have in common? Pagan therapist Scott Gilliam presented “The Reemergence of the Pagan Soul and Its Voice in the World.” In his research he discovered twelve shared themes amongst Pagans who became Pagan and were not brought up Pagan. One of them was that feeling of coming home once they discovered there was such a thing as Paganism. The most important theme in terms of the conference topic was a feeling of purpose in the world. He said Pagans see themselves as active, not passive participants in the unfolding of history. Patrick McCollum is a perfect example of this shared theme. Scott also speculated that there is a pagan dimension to the soul that has long been neglected in our society and is now reemerging for a reason.

Paganism seems to be going through an identity crisis with much discussion going on around the Internet about whether or not we should be using Pagan as an umbrella term. What kind of relationship can we have with the rest of the world while breaking up if that’s what is happening?

One relationship that has been going on a long time is that between Pagans and Christians. Sam Webster addressed this in his paper: “The Relationship of Christianity with Paganism.” This paper came about when he got an intense response to his blog post on Patheos: “Beginning the Pagan Restoration” in which he stated “And, no, you can’t worship Jesus Christ and be a Pagan.” And the subsequent post: “Why You Can’t Worship Jesus Christ and Be Pagan.”  The flurry of over 300 comments gave Sam some data to work with regarding the Pagan community. Here are a couple of things that he came up with:

  • There is a need for better identity formation and education in history and theology in the Pagan community.
  • A deeper discussion about authority is needed because we are framing things in a Christian way.

Although recently more people report that they are “Christian Pagans,” Sam sees Christianity as a threat. Christianity is a challenge to anyone or culture that is not it and he said he doesn’t want to see the dilution of Paganism.

Margaret Froelich: “The Maiden, the Mother and the Other One: Testing the Triple Goddess for a Feminist World” and Amy Hale: “Cell Block Arcadia: “Nature Religion” and the Politics of Being Pagan” both brought up ideas about how the frameworks and names we use may not fit us and what we actually practice. Margaret said that we should make sure our symbols reflect our values and that the triple goddess model doesn’t fit our modern life, it’s not inclusive enough. Amy argued that calling Paganism a “Nature Religion” may replicate an antimodernist view and perpetuate “noble savage” ideology. By using this as a claimed characteristic of Paganism, Amy states that it may impact the potential ability of Pagan groups to develop.

In terms of Pagan history which is often thought of in terms of our ancient ancestors several presenters in this conference have been investigating our more recent past as a way to help us build our identity and relate to the world we live in today.

Jacqueline Rochelle in “Psycho-Magickal Analysis of the Industrial Revolution and the Rise of Contemporary Paganism” suggests that modern Paganism emerged in the tension between industrialization and the agnostic counter culture.

Armando D “Murtagh An Doile” Marini in “Proto-Pagans: Precursors of the Modern Pagan Movement – Seeking the Themes of Myth and Magic in the American Experience (1850 to 1975)” also sees the Industrial Era as the place where modern Paganism begins. He states three great awakenings:

  • 1731-1755 – Great religious tolerance reigned.
  • 1790-1840 – Period of the Transcendentalists, Mesmerism, Spiritualists and Theosophists.
  • 1850-1900 – The social gospels emerge.

Murtagh’s wife Elizabeth Rose-Marini in “Mythic Landscapes: California and the West Coast – 19th Century Utopias, Cultural Creatives, Health Pioneers and Proto-Pagans” looks at a particular group to give us a sense of what the “Proto-Pagans” were doing and how what they did is connected to what we do now. The Temple branch of the Theosophical Movement used the four quarters in their rites, wanted spirituality to be useful, and empowered women.

There is so much more to their research than I can give here. Please follow them and the Pagan History Project here.

The work of Kimberly Kirner: “Relating to Nature: Spiritual Practice and Sustainable Behavior” and Sabina Magliocco’s “Animal Afterlives” brought out some interesting and somewhat surprising information about Pagans.

Kimberly discovered through her research that the practice of Paganism does not lead to environmentally sustainable behavior. There are non-Pagans who live a sustainable life. Though many Pagans practice small acts of recycling and reusing, this behavior does not reduce overall consumption. Kimberly did find that Pagans that practice in groups did more outdoor ritual and connecting to place. The non-solitary was more likely to be an activist, according to her data. She ended her presentation with a question: “What is our relationship with the earth and its creatures with whom we claim connection?”

Sabina’s work centered on how Pagans confer spiritual personhood on their pets. She noted that this wasn’t something special to Pagans. She discovered that 81% of her survey respondents believed animals have souls regardless of religious affiliation. Like Kimberly’s findings, Sabina noted that Pagans are not as likely to make the personal and political sacrifices for animals that animal workers, who are often atheists, do. Pagans tend to work with animals spiritually.

During the Q&A Sabina mentioned that anthropomorphizing animals began in the mid-1800s with the rise of industrialization. The distance from animals due to the move to urban centers allowed this to take place. Kimberly noted that farm workers don’t see animals as having souls. She noticed a difference between the rural and urban Pagan in this matter. Sam Webster joined the discussion saying that our culture needs to change at the systems level. All the little things we do are not making a difference, he maintained. He believes that religion might be the way to change enough hearts and minds to have a major impact. Kimberly and Sabina pondered how Paganism can be that religion when there is a major dissonance between ideals and action. They did remind us that Pagans are more likely to take action if they belong to groups. Sam thought that it was not just actions, but the act of living a meaningful life that was the key.

Some disturbing information was provided by Tony Mierzwicki: “Ancient Greek Racism, Homophobia and Misogyny?” and Kat Robb: “A Study of Lesbiphobia in the Pagan Community”. This discrimination isn’t just in the past as shared by Marie Cartier – who read from her new book: Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars and Theology Before Stonewall. Both Tony and Kat brought up specific examples of current racism and homophobia within the Pagan community.

Tony shared an online discussion filled with hate speech by a Greek Reconstructionist. He went on to describe how Ancient Greece was filled with racism, homophobia and misogyny. There is a need to be careful when recreating these various Paganisms. As mentioned earlier by Amy Hale and Margaret Froelich, we need to question whether or not what we do has relevance in our modern world.

Kat Robb’s survey showed that even in what she thought of as an inclusive, sexually open religion there are exclusionary tendencies in some individuals and groups. She shared a personal experience of exclusion that left her in tears.

Keynote speaker Crystal Blanton gave a powerful and moving presentation, “Cultural Empathy, Collective Understanding and Healing within the Pagan Community.” She said that Paganism has grown beyond the bounds we have set for ourselves so this healing is important. Paganism needs to include more than just Euro-centric cultures now, she suggested. In the past Crystal said she felt she had to leave a part of herself – her black culture – outside the circle, but she no longer chooses to do so. She asks: Can we have a relationship with the world if we can’t be authentic with each other?

0005 Crystal Blanton Keynotes

Crystal Blanton
Photo by Charles Elliott

She goes on to talk about how we can heal this in such a diverse community. We need to truly listen to one another and not assume to know another’s cultural story. All of us need to be able to feel safe to be fully who we are in all of our communities. She let us know that “It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about understanding. In order to learn, you must unlearn what you think you know about diversity, cultures and people.” She provided us with so much more information shared with much love for this community. If you’d like to know more about the resources she shared you can contact her via her website.

Lon Milo DuQuette’s talk was called “Good and Evil? Get Over It!” and as always he entertained us while enlightening us. He shared his music and wisdom. Through his story of a personal experience of awakening he realized at more than an intellectual level that all is one. He connects to this one via the god Ganesha. He says you get over the idea of evil by expanding your consciousness to include everything. Though we are all unique it’s important to remember Lon’s message as we move forward as a community.

0006 Lon Milo DuQuette Performs

Lon Milo DuQuette
Photo by Charles Elliott

These conversations I’m sure will continue this weekend at PantheaCon. If you are going, seek out those I’ve mentioned. Talk to them. Listen. Ask questions. Share your ideas. Be a part of the conversation. Carry the conversation out beyond the walls of any conference. It’s important at this time when the world needs a new story, a new paradigm. Paganism/Paganisms are coming of age and have something important to offer to the world.

24 Aug 2013

Grease is the Word at Mysterium

Posted by Tim. No Comments

Rebellion is a teenage rite of passage.  Caught in a strange, awkward stage somewhere between childhood innocence and adult responsibility, teens seek their own identity by pushing against their parents’ generation.  They question spirituality, they question school.   They express their individuality through clothing, music, and lifestyle choices that are often purposely intended to shock their parents and wave an emphatic middle finger at their teachers.

 

It’s an old story that has been tackled in stage and film many times, but few versions of the story are as famous as the musical “Grease.”  Centering on the senior year for Rydell High School’s Class of 1959, “Grease” fearlessly explores the underside of the supposedly conservative 1950’s: sex, booze, rock ‘n’ roll, violence, and identity.  Through lyrics that broke barriers when the musical premiered in 1971 (have you ever actually listened to the words in “Greased Lightning”?), we see children breaking their own barriers and learning what it means to become adults.

 

Mysterium Theatre has brought us this classic musical in all its glory.  After decades of watching John Travolta in the lead role of Danny, it’s fascinating to see real teenagers play high school students.  This is ultimately a play about finding your identity, and the use of young, fresh faces reminds us that underneath the tough talk, sexual exploration, and leather jackets lies the truth about rebellious teens: they’re inexperienced, scared kids desperately trying to figure out life and survive the cutthroat world of the high school.

 

This theme is central to the character of Danny Zuko, who spends the entire show trying to fit in and show off while softening his image just enough to keep good girl Sandy in his life.  Cameron Moore allows us see underneath Danny’s tough exterior, showing us a greaser with real emotions and pain inside him.  We also see hints of that pain in Victor Davilla’s Kenickie.  Sure, he comes off as a badass, but check out his eyes when girlfriend Rizzo chooses another dance partner or suggests that her baby may not be his.  The skin on both characters is only as thick as their black jackets, and both Moore and Davilla pull up just enough of that leather to help us see the real heart within their characters.

 

Rizzo and Sandy play off the tension created by their opposite natures, but, like their boyfriends, ably show off their inner turmoil.  Rizzo is dark to Sandy’s light, yet each contains a hint of the other.  Jocelyn Sanchez lets just enough innocence shine through her otherwise tough portrayal of Rizzo.  Like Danny, You can almost tell Sanchez’s bad girl really doesn’t want to do most of the smoking, drinking ridiculing, and sleeping around she pretends to enjoy.  Rebecca Knight plays her version of Sandy a tighter fashion, but that’s Sandy.  Where Rizz is out of control, Sandy keeps her turmoil locked up.  The interplay between the two reminds us that neither attitude is a healthy way to explore the challenges of teen life.

 

The cast is rounded out with a Breakfast Club of high school archetypes.  Greasers Doody (Branden Martinez), Roger (Aldo Benalcazar), and Sonny (Darian Agredano) flesh out the bad boys with good hearts.  Pink Ladies Jan (Paloma Armijo), Marty (Annamarie Mayer), and Frenchy (Sarah Entezari) give us a look at the special struggles of teenage girls and their own methods for coping.  Jan turns to food, Marty to older men, and Frenchy attempts to escape high school altogether.  Every teenager has their own conflict; the girls of “Grease” help us understand that on a deeper level than the boys.

 

The great thing about “Grease” is its versatility.  Written to shock, it evolved into lighthearted exploration of adolescence- one that is performed on high school stages across the country (something its writers would never have imagined in 1971).  It’s just as easy to sit back and enjoy the 50’s style music as it is to get a little red in the face at what the performers are actually singing about.  It can be a show about nostalgia, a show about challenging strict norms, or just a rockin’ dance party.  “Grease” meets you where you are and always gives you a great time.

 

 

 

 

 

11 Aug 2013

A Midsummer Dream at Alchemy Theatre

Posted by Tim. No Comments

Theater is alchemy.  Every production begins with lead: a script.  However good the play is, the script is nothing but an empty blueprint, a suggestion of what the play could become in its highest form.  Through the hard work of interpretation, casting, set design and creation, and lots and lots and lots of rehearsal, that script is slowly transformed (one hopes) into the gold of a fully realized theatrical production.  Like real gold, a good show pleases aesthetic senses while also turning a nice profit.

Perhaps this is the inspiration behind southern California’s newest theatrical group: Alchemy Theatre Company.   A long time in the making, Alchemy finally has mounted its first show, Shakespeare’s popular comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  In a gorgeous outdoor setting, Alchemy has transformed this classic tale of fairyland intrigue, ill-advised shapeshifting, and magically manipulated affections into its very first piece of theatrical gold.

This may well be Shakespeare’s most often-performed and most well-known play.  While that can be a blessing, it can be hard to find a fresh new take on such a beloved show.  Director Jesse Runde succeeds in this undertaking.  Runde takes advantage of the outdoor, tree-lined location and the play’s trope of the comical band of misfit actors to create the historically accurate illusion that we are meeting a troupe of thespians in the woods.  With a little improve and a lot of fun, our cast transforms from merry actors to the show’s character right in front of our eyes.

This device smashes the fourth wall, establishing a lovely relationship between audience and actors.  To further the relationship, the cast selects an audience member to play the tiny, unpopular role of Egeus.  Marked by a red sash over his T-shirt and jeans, the brave volunteer reads most of his lines from the back of the house.  It’s a really fun addition that brings humor out of one of the play’s most blasé characters.

The four herbally-influenced lovers function as such a unit that it is difficult to mention them separately.  Their words and actions bounce off of each other, intertwining like a chain.  Thankfully, there is no weak link in this chain, and the charisma among Jeff Lowe (Lysander), Chelsea Harvey (Hermia), Lila Bassior (Helena), and Daniel Conder (Demetrius) is genuine and energetic.  Their strange situation builds energy and finally explodes into a dizzying display of staging as the lovers have it out with each other.  This is the play’s most entertaining moment, and all four actors fully revel in its fun (as does Puck, who watches with delight).

Speaking of Puck, Chelsea Feller delights in more than just that one scene.  Puck is constant mischief, and Feller shines in the fairy’s sense of humor.  Tiffany Berg is radiant as fairy queen Titania, especially in her profuse love for – for lack of a better word – Bottom’s ass.

Fairy king Oberon is a difficult role.  He seems motivated more out of obtaining a servant from Titania than out of any love or hate of his estranged wife.  He starts all the mischief, but takes joy in little of it.  Donald Formaneck treads that tightrope admirably (and also does an

excellent, mostly improvised job as the pre-show’s “Player King”).

 

What would Midsummer be without Nick Bottom?  Perhaps the most popular role in Shakespeare, Bottom is a force unto himself.  Yet, there can be a tendency to overdo some of his best moments, especially during his inter-species love affair with Titania.  Tyler Campbell resists the temptation to over-overact.  The result is a Bottom who honestly loves his fellow players, one we can feel affection for as Titania showers him with her fairyland charms.  Then, when he finally arrives to perform with his troupe, we can cheer at his melodramatic yet lovable performance of Pyramus.  Campbell has chosen an honest Bottom, and it works.

Alchemy Theater has burst onto the scene with a very strong production.  They clearly have talent both on stage and off.  There is a (forgive me) Puckish sense of creativity behind this production that I hope will continue as a thread throughout their future productions.

Aside from gold, of course, alchemists also look for the Philosopher’s Stone, that magic rock that can bestow immortality.  Theater can bestow immortality.  Wonderful performances and plays have a way of living forever in the minds and hearts of an audience.  Alchemy is well on its way to theatrical gold, and hopefully it has begun that journey into immortality.

DETAILS:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Alchemy Theatre Company

Location: Huntington Beach Central Park Amphitheater

Future shows: August 17 at 6:00 pm; August 24 at 2:00 and 6:00 pm

Tickets available on Goldstar for $8.00 – $15.00

3 Aug 2013

Damn Yankees at Mysterium – Lots of Heart

Posted by Tim. No Comments

Every cause has its effect and every effect has its cause.

Damn Yankees, the classic musical currently running at Mysterium Theater, explores exactly what happens when one man obliterates the natural order of things to get what he wants most in the world.  Devout Washington Senators fan Joe Boyd wants his beloved team to succeed so badly that he is willing to sell his soul to the Devil to become the great player that will make it happen.

As things mushroom out of control (as they always do in these stories), he learns just how much he has hurt his devoted wife and what real love actually means.  It is a beautiful intersection of baseball, time-honored songs, and Faust.

Stories of selling your soul are usually black-and-white morality tales about the dangers of falling for worldly temptation.  Damn Yankees turns this trope on its head a bit, choosing to explore what happens when the purity and innocence of the damned soul turns even the Devil’s most effective demoness- sexy and seductive Lola- to his side.

The show’s themes are less “deal with the Devil and you’ll go to hell” and more along the lines of T.S. Eliot’s poetic question, “Do I dare disturb the universe.”  Sure, you can change the world; but every little change will come back to haunt you.  You don’t know what you have until you lose it.

Three characters drive every moment of Damn Yankees.  While Joe Boyd, sweetly played by James Gittelson, it is the man he becomes that takes center stage.  That man is the devilishly talented baseball player Joe Hardy, played by Cody Valentine, who comes out of nowhere and uses his demonically-gifted skills to lift the lowly Senators into the highest echelons of baseball.  Valentine combines the perfect look of wide-eyed innocence, a strong voice, and just a hint of the wiser understanding that comes from his character’s true history into a touching performance as the heartsick superstar.

Then there’s then man who made it all possible, the man who tempts the older Joe with his forbidden fruit.  As the appropriately-pseudonymed Mr. Applegate, Glenn Freeze is revels in his role.  Freeze lacks the debonair charm that usually comes with Applegate, but he makes up for it in passion and humor.  He particularly shines in his big number, “Those Were the Good Old Days,” a love song to all the most tragic events in history.  Laughing as he reminisces about Nero’s fiddling and the plague’s devastation, Freeze fully comes into his own in this show-stopping number.

Lola, the femme fatale sent to seduce and destroy Joe’s soul, is the engine that keeps the story burning.  Jennifer Ann marks is given a tough assignment with this one.  Lola is constantly changing looks and styles in her grudging effort to ensure Joe’s damnation.  She actually may have the strongest story arc of any character as she transforms physically and mentally from Joe’s wanton seductress to his love-struck supporter, all the while carrying the most demanding song and dance numbers in the show.

Marks is up to the task.  From her opening exuberance in “A Little Brains – A Little Talent” to her role’s most famous number, “Whatever Lola Wants,” her talent and the manipulative glint in her eye are in full force.  Her transformation into Joe’s biggest fan is fully capped off with “Two Lost Souls,” and in this number Marks makes Lola’s new outlook perfectly clear, leaving just a tinge of fear for the consequences of defying her infernal employer.

The supporting characters hold up the leads, performing some of the musical’s most well-known songs.  Team manager Benny Van Buren (Scott Rubenstein) is passionate as a loser, and even more passionate as a winner.  He leads the show’s signature song, “Heart,” with miles and miles of that substance you just gotta have.  His players, Andrew Soto, Julian Ronquillo, Gary DeVault, and Scott Felver all back up their coach’s Heart with animated, fleshed-out characters of their own.

Sherry Domergo brings love, patience, and sympathy to Meg Boyd, Joe’s abandoned wife.  Sara Oviyach’s performance as reporter Gloria Thorpe is filled with bright spots.  Alice Villa and Glenda Wright are fun additions in their roles as Meg’s support team/Joe Hardy superfans.

There are a lot of brains and a lot of talent in this cast and in this production.  Some portions of the script are hopelessly dated and painfully out of place for modern audiences, but this cast seamlessly works those sections in, fearlessly understanding that Damn Yankees is part of the musical theater Hall of Fame, and every song must be honored.  Choreographer Sonya Randall and director Steve Biggs recognize this, and do a wonderful job keeping the historical period a major part of the show’s style.

Damn Yankees definitely stands as a warning against manipulating the universe for your own ends.  At the same time, it tells us of the power of true love.  That could be true love of a team, a spouse, or a struggling friend, but love is the ultimate victor.  This venerated musical is, in the end, all about “Heart.”

12 Jul 2013

Upcoming July/August Events for SoCal

Posted by MistressPrime. No Comments

July Calendar image

ORANGE COUNTY EVENTS

 

Friday Night Drinks – Orange County Pagan and Witches Meetup groups

When: July 12, 2013
Where: Garden Grove, California
Time: 8:00 pm
Details: Join fellow OC Witches and Pagans for a drink and socializing.
Price/Donation: Cost of your own drink/food order
Location: Available to OC Pagan Meetup and OC Witches Meetup members only
Directions: You may RSVP on meetup.com to receive the location address.
Website:http://www.meetup.com/OCWitches/events/128653202/
Website: http://www.meetup.com/OCPagan/events/128653312/

 

SUMMER GODDESS SUNDAY SERVICES for WOMEN with PRESIDING PRIESTESS AVA

When: Every Sunday, 2013
Where: Santa Ana, California
Time: 10 am doors open, 11 am—12:45 pm Services, 12:45-2 pm Social Hour
Details: Join us for goddess spiritual services every Sunday–first, second and third Sundays for women (suitable for girls over 13), “Fourth Sundays” women are welcome to bring their families –all genders and ages welcome. Goddess spirituality is humanity’s first and oldest spirituality, and the root of all other religions which followed. Our teachings are founded on three simple beliefs: 1) All is One, 2) All is Sacred, and 3) All is Divine; and the principles of The Four Powers of Woman ™ as originated by Founder and Presiding Priestess Ava, with special emphasis on The Queen Archetype, most missing in women in modern patriarchy. We hold that Woman is the natural spiritual authority on earth, and when women lead spiritually, the world returns to peace, prosperity and joy.
DRESS: Comfortably, to honor yourself.
OPTIONAL: feel free to bring healthy food to share for the social hour that follows services!
Price/Donation: Love offering
Location: 17905 Sky Park Circle, #A, Irvine, CA 92614
Directions: From 405 freeway, exit MacArthur; North on MacArthur past Main; Left on Sky Park East; Right on Sky Park Circle; About two blocks to Temple on right hand side. Abundant free parking all around Temple.
Website: http://www.goddesstempleoforangecounty.com
Phone: (949) 651-0564

 

Drum Circle @ The Dragon and The Rose

When: July 20, 2013
Where: Santa Ana, California
Time: 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Details: We begin drumming at 7:30 p.m. Drumming will end at 10:00 p.m. RSVP please. All are welcome!
Price/Donation: $8/ per adult (includes use of a drum if you don’t have one)
Location: The Dragon and The Rose 1636 E. Edinger Avenue, Suite U, Santa Ana, CA 92705
Directions: Venue is in the back of the business park.
Website: http://www.thedragonandtherose.com
Phone: (714) 569-0100

 

Full Moon Ritual @ The Dragon and The Rose

When: July 23, 2013
Where: Santa Ana, California
Time: Dinner is at 7:00 p.m. and the ritual will begin by 8:00 p.m
Details: There is no cost to attend and the ritual is open to all. Contributions to dinner are always appreciated.
Price/Donation: Free, but donations to dinner are appreciated
Location: The Dragon and The Rose 1636 E. Edinger Avenue, Suite U, Santa Ana, CA 92705
Directions: Venue is in the back of the business park.
Website: http://www.thedragonandtherose.com
Phone: (714) 569-0100

Orange County Witches Meetup Monthly Dinner

When: July 27, 2013
Where: Irvine, California
Time: 7:00 pm
Details: Join fellow OC Witches for dinner, networking, and great conversation.
Price/Donation: $1 Meetup Fee + cost of your own drink/food order
Location: Available to OC Witches Meetup members only
Directions: You may RSVP on meetup.com to receive the location address.
Website: http://www.meetup.com/OCWitches/events/121751492/

Lughnasadh Ritual @ The Dragon and The Rose

When: July 30, 2013
Where: Santa Ana, California
Time: Dinner is at 7:00 p.m. and the ritual will begin by 8:00 p.m
Details: There is no cost to attend and the ritual is open to all. Contributions to dinner are always appreciated.
Price/Donation: Free, but donations to dinner are appreciated
Location: The Dragon and The Rose 1636 E. Edinger Avenue, Suite U, Santa Ana, CA 92705
Directions: Venue is in the back of the business park.
Website:http://www.thedragonandtherose.com
Phone: (714) 569-0100

LOS ANGELES EVENTS

 

Public Ritual Honoring Yemaya Hosted by Southern California Local Council of The Covenant of the Goddess (CoG)

When: July 13, 2013
Where: Glendale, California
Time: 2:00 pm
Details: Please join us for a public celebration of Yemaya, , Orisha of the Ocean, mother and protectress of children. Suggestged donation $5, or bring packaged goods to donate to a local food bank. Please also bring a dish to share and a folding chair or something else to sit on.
Price/Donation: $5 suggested donation or food donation
Location: Bette Davis Picnic Area in Glendale
Directions: From 134 Fwy Eastbound: exit at Buena Vista, turn right, then turn left onto Riverside. Follow Riverside to Rancho and turn right. Park along Rancho. From 5 Fwy North: Take the Western Avenue exit, turn right onto Flower St., take the 3rd right onto Sonora Ave, continue onto Riverside Dr., turn left onto Rancho Ave. Park along Rancho.
Phone: (818) 843-1915

Long Beach Drum Circle Hosted by Long Beach Pagan Meetup

When: July 21, 2013
Where: Long Beach, California
Time: 3:00 pm
Details: Join the Long Beach pagans for a fun afternoon of drumming and socializing. Meet the locals and feel the beat every 3rd Sunday at 3 pm.No drum needed, we will help you find a way to make some noise or just dance along! Feel free to bring a beverage of your choice or a treat to share with the group.
Price/Donation: Free
Location: Private Residence in Long Beach
Directions: You may RSVP on meetup.com to receive the location address.
Website: http://www.meetup.com/pagan-962/events/125249082/

 

SGVWPN Monthly Dinner and Social Club Hosted by the San Gabriel Valley Witch & Wiccan Network Meetup

When: July 24, 2013
Where: West Covina, California
Time: 7:00 pm
Details: This night is dedicated to a long and time honored tradition with the SGV group…our monthly dinner and social club! We have a strong group of core members who are leaders, teachers, and practitioners who attend on a regular basis. This is a great way for long time members to meet with friends, for new members to find out what us Witches, Pagans, and IndoPagans talk about, and for everyone to have a way to connect with local groups and teachers. There aren’t many rules, just common sense and good fun. So, if you’ve been wanting to step out of the broom closet, this is your chance!
Price/Donation: Cost of your own drink/food order
Location: Available to SGVWPN Meetup members only
Directions: You may RSVP on meetup.com to receive the location address.
Website: http://www.meetup.com/SGVWPN/events/qrwtzfyrkbgc/

 

Public Rite of Hermes – All Liberating

When: July 27, 2013
Where: North Hollywood, California
Time: 7:30 pm Doors Open – 8:00 pm Ritual Begins
Details: This community ritual will celebrate Hermes, Greek Messenger of the Gods, in his All-Liberating form. Join us to call upon the Greek god of commerce, good luck, and communication! We will bring Hermes into manifestation into a dedicated Herm (statue) , and also into our lives to eliminate obstacles, strengthen our life’s journey, and send blessings into the world. The ritual will build upon material taught in the daytime Hermes workshop, but workshop attendance is not required. All are welcome to this community ritual led by Mage and Priest of Hermes, Sam Webster, and Laurie Lovekraft, co-founder of Reclaiming LA. Please bring a potluck dish to share after the ritual as well as an offering for Hermes (food, coin, small object) . Dress comfortably in layers, and bring a pillow to sit on. You may also bring a mala (strung meditation beads) if you wish.
Price/Donation: $10 – $20 sliding scale
Location: Green Man Store 5712 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
Directions: Located near the intersection of Burbank, Tujunga, and Lankershim a short walk from the Metro station.
Phone: (818) 985-2010

 

Public Lughnasadh Ritual

When: August 3, 2013
Where: North Hollywood, California
Time: 8pm
Details: Join Raven’s Cry Grove in celebration of Lughnasadh! Lugh is our Grove’s patron, and we will be celebrating our 14th anniversary. After ritual we will enjoy a potluck snack and fellowship. Please feel free to bring personal offerings for the ancestors, nature spirits, and deities. It does not need to be biodegradable, but should be non-toxic if buried or put into water. Please do not bring pets. (Service animals allowed.) For more ground rules and answers to frequently asked questions visit: About Us : Practice and For our Guests Carpooling is encouraged. See our website for more information.
Price/Donation: Suggested $10 donation
Location: Green Man Store 5712 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
Directions: Take the 170 North from the 101 to Exit 7, Burbank Bl. Turn left on Lankershim Bl. The Green Man Store will be on the right about 0.2 miles. Located near the intersection of Burbank, Tujunga, and Lankershim a short walk from the Metro station.
Phone: (818) 985-2010
Website
: http://ravenscrygrove.org

 

Lammas with Reclaiming LA

When: August 4, 2013
Where: North Hollywood, California
Time: 4:30 pm Doors Open – 5:00 pm Ritual
Details: Join Reclaiming LA for our annual Lammas ritual! Lammas, also called Lughnasadh, marks the beginning of the harvest season. We harvest bright summer days (soon coming to an end) and begin reaping what we’ve sown from the past few months. The Celtic god Lugh was a solar deity and a festival was held in his honor in August, his sacred month. Join us to connect with the excitement and magic of this special season when the first grains are ready to be harvested and threshed, and apples and grapes are ripe for the plucking. Let’s give thanks and welcome abundance in our lives. Men & women welcome. Children welcome with adult accompaniment. Please remember to bring food and drink to share for the post-ritual potluck as well as a plate, cup and utensils. To support those in recovery, this ritual is “clean and sober”. Reclaiming LA is a community of women and men in the greater Los Angeles area who celebrate earth-based spirituality in support of justice in all its forms – environmental, social, political, racial, gender, and economic.
Price/Donation: $10 – $20 sliding scale
Location: Green Man Store 5712 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
Time: 4:30 pm Doors Open, 5:00 pm Ritual
Directions: Located near the intersection of Burbank, Tujunga, and Lankershim a short walk from the Metro station.
Phone: (818) 985-2010
Website: http://reclaimingla.org/classes-events/

 

SAN DIEGO EVENTS

 

Koffee Klatch Hosted by The San Diego North County Pagan Meetup Group

When: July 15, 2013
Where: San Marcos, California
Time: 6:30 – 9:30 pm
Details: This is our monthly event that is out in public. This is so those that might be shy about going over to someone’s house can feel comfortable coming and meeting others in the group. So come out and have a cup of tea, sit around the fire and converse with those of like mind!
We’ll be discussing the upcoming Meditation and Healing Circle in July.
Price/Donation: Cost of your own drink/food order
Location: Available to Meetup members only
Directions: You may RSVP on meetup.com to receive the location address.
Website: http://www.meetup.com/SDNorthCountyPagans/events/124669182/

 

Meditation & Healing Circle by The San Diego North County Pagan Meetup Group

When: July 27, 2013
Where: Vista, California
Time: 5:00 pm
Details: Please join us for a lovely evening of communing, meditating and healing. We’ll start around 5 pm with our usual awesome potluck. This will give us ample time to arrive, eat, chat and mingle. We’re going to plan on having the meditation and healing circle outside with a bonfire, weather permitting.
Price/Donation: Free
Location: Available to Meetup members only
Directions: You may RSVP on meetup.com to receive the location address.
Website: http://www.meetup.com/SDNorthCountyPagans/events/124670852/

If you have an event coming up and would like to be added to the monthly calendar update, please contact us directly at PNCSoCal @ gmail.com

 

5 Mar 2013

Pagans play large role in Pasadena interfaith event

Posted by Joanne Elliott. No Comments

Temple of the Goddess Choir

Temple of the Goddess Choir- Photo by Charles “Beautyseer” Elliott

On Sunday, March 3 the Pasadena Interfaith Walk for Peace and Shoe Drive Closing Ceremony took place in Old Pasadena at Memorial Park. Nineteen religious organizations joined together to walk for peace and collect shoes for those in need. Temple of the Goddess, a Pagan 501(c)3 was one of them. Rev. Xia Judy Tatum, founder of Temple of the Goddess says this is the first time they have reached out to the interfaith community and sees this as a new direction for the temple. Rev. Xia was also on the planning committee and played a large role in planning the event’s Closing Ceremony. The event was founded by Rev. Donna Byrns of Church of Truth Center for Awakening Consciousness.

Rev. Donna Byrns of Church of Truth Center for Awakening Awareness

Rev. Donna Byrns of Church of Truth Center for Awakening Awareness – Photo by Charles “Beautyseer” Elliott

 

There were about two hundred participants from nineteen churches, temples and other religious organizations. As they marched into Memorial Park there was drumming and a beautiful chant to greet them. The chant was sung by Cheryl Cleary, Temple of the Goddess Choir Director. Children from Temple of the Goddess passed out peace bells to everyone to be used later in the program.

Interfaith Walk for Peace Participants arriving at Memorial Park for the Closing Ceremony

Interfaith Walk for Peace Participants arriving at Memorial Park for the Closing Ceremony – Photo by Charles “Beautyseer” Elliott

As everyone settled in the Temple of the Goddess Choir along with musician Tom Armbruster, singer Gary Mortimer, and choir singer Remi Dayle, all from Church of Truth for Awakening Consciousness, performed “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” by Joe South.

The mayor of Pasadena was there to greet them as well.  Mayor Bill Bogaard said, “This is a wonderful group, a dedicated group. You make me proud, Pasadena proud.” He also spoke out about the discrimination against LBGT couples. This was a surprise and a delight to one of Temple of the Goddess’s members, who is a lesbian and plans to marry her partner.  She was surprised because some members of this interfaith effort may not have been in favor of gay marriage. About this issue Mayor Bogaard said, “Discrimination is not peace.” He mentioned it was better to demonstrate love rather than protest. There was no protest to his words from the crowd that I could tell.

Mayor Bill Bogaard welcomes the participants

Mayor Bill Bogaard welcomes the participants – Photo by Charles “Beautyseer” Elliott

Music and more celebration followed. There was spoken word performances and dancing by Temple of the Goddess Mythic Player, Candy Jo Dahlstrom as well as more songs from the choir.

Representatives of the different faiths getting ready to share their prayers

Representatives of the different faiths getting ready to share their prayers – Photo by Charles “Beautyseer” Elliott

Representative of the different faiths getting ready to share their prayers for peace

Representative of the different faiths getting ready to share their prayers for peace – Photo by Charles “Beautyseer” Elliott

Soon it was time to hear the prayers from each participating group. There was song in prayer from the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, passages from the Koran quoted by both Muslim representatives, a prayer in Sanskrit and one in Hebrew from the Co-chairs of the Southern California Committee for the Parliament of the World Religions, affirmative prayer from the Unity Minister, blessings from a Quaker, beautiful prayers from a Baha’i representative. Rev. Xia and the Temple of the Goddess’ prayer for peace was: Our Prayer for Peace is for everyone to share the Divine Connection that exists with one another and the Sacred World of Nature. And when they were through the most beautiful part of the ceremony began.

Rev. Xia Judy Tatum of Temple of the Goddess

Rev. Xia Judy Tatum of Temple of the Goddess – Photo by Charles “Beautyseer” Elliott

The bells passed out earlier were now to be used by all as Cheryl & Patrick Cleary of Silver Phial backed by the choir sung Ring the Bells by Melissa Etheridge and Salman Ahmad. Each time the chorus was sung we all rang our bells. It was quite a raising of energy as all the bells chimed as one.

If you would like to donate any gently used or new shoes to the cause and are near Pasadena you can still drop them off at First Congregational Church United Church of Christ at 464 East Walnut St., Pasadena, CA 91101 on Tues., March 5 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The charities that will receive the benefits of this effort are:

Door of Hope

Elizabeth House

Rosemary Children Services

Madison Healthy Start Family Center

Mother’s Club

Union Station Family Center

ACTS Thrift Shop

Women at Work

Haven House

The Women’s Room, “Friends In Deed”

La Casa de San Gabriel Community Center

Foothill Unity Center

Casa de Las Amigas

Tujunga United Methodist Church

Los Angeles Mission

 

Interfaith Participants:

Church of Truth Center for Awakening Consciousness

First Summit Evangelical Free Church

Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center

Ahiah Center for Spiritual Awakening

Throop Unitarian Universalist Church

Orange Grove Friends Meeting

Retired Methodist Minister, Rev. Inman Moore

First Congregational Church

Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church

Baha’I of Pasadena

Temple of the Goddess

Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary Church

Masjid El-Taqwa

Unity Church of Pasadena

New Horizon School

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Holy Deliverance Church

San Marino Congregational Church

Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church

 

Temple of the Goddess Choir

Adele Shakal

Briana Murray

Carolyn Potter

Kitty McCormick

Mnajdra

Ananda

Caitlin

Christine Papalexis

Lianna Nakashima

Patrick Cleary

3 Mar 2013

Godspell at Mysterium: the joys of being fluffy

Posted by Tim. No Comments

There is something so special in all things NEW.  We spend our lives operating under assumptions and paradigms that have stuck with us for years.  Those old paradigms can be about things as minor as our morning shower routine or as major as our religious beliefs and practices.  They give us comfort, but they can also rot, transforming from a useful structure into an obstacle that keeps us from moving forward with our physical, mental, and spiritual lives.

But we’ve all had that experience of newness.  Perhaps it was a new child that completely changed our lives, knocked the senses out of us, but resulted in a completely revised and healthier view of life.  Perhaps it was a new job, one that forced us to think and act in a new way.  For many of us, it was a new religion.  We have all had that time where we were so excited about all the amazing things we were learning about the Goddess, about the Aesir, about whatever pantheon we attach to that we felt charged with excitement to get out and share it with the world.  The Pagan community often refers to this as the “Fluffy Bunny” stage- a stage where everything about the world is rainbows and light and unicorns, and all you want to do is share those rainbows with the entire world.

Godspell, the now classic musical by Wicked creator Stephen Schwartz, opened this weekend at Mysterium Theater in Santa Ana. It is an energetic, beautiful, and thoughtful portrayal of the Fluffy Bunny stage of Christianity.  It really doesn’t matter what your religion is, anyone with a heart can connect with the love, excitement, and sheer ecstasy that comes from this musical as it plays and experiments with the art of newness, the art of fluffiness.  The apostles of Godspell are just as supercharged about their messiah as the stereotypical 16 year old Gothic chick is about her first reading of Scott Cunningham, and this production surrounds us with that amazing excitement that comes with freshness.

Mysterium’s production emphasizes the new.  The show is based on the Gospel of Matthew, and it features the reactions and development of the apostles as they learn a completely new way of life from their teacher, Jesus.  They begin as a useless rabble, but they coalesce into a unified, energized new faith under their new rabbi.  This show is supremely adaptable, and Mysterium has added everything from Jesus rapping to multiple renditions of “Gangham Style” to Toy Story references to update the piece and give it a flair of modernity and relevancy.

Torran Kitts leads the performance.  His Jesus is intentionally young and innocent, and just a bit goofy.  While Kitts joins the chorus for most of the numbers, his leadership is quite clear from the very beginning.  The Jesus he present is young but powerful, and he radiates a charisma that helps us really believe that these societal outcasts would truly choose to follow him.  This perfect love and perfect trust he honestly establishes with his followers makes his eventual crucifixion- the end of the Fluffy Bunny stage- all the more painful.

Brian Lofting brings a bit of energy and force as both John the Baptist and Judas.  While his early proclamation demanding us to “Prepare Ye” for the coming of the Lord is a bit underwhelming, his strength improves as the story moves on.  By the time we see him betray his good friend, with that friend’s blessing, we have fallen in love with him as a true believer and a compassionate, realistic portrayal of our own fears and earthly concerns.  Lofting’s voice isn’t much better than the rest of the cast; his dancing is average, and you can see him sweat throughout the show, but that just seems to add to the grit of the story as it unfolds.

The rest of the cast absolutely glorifies in that fluffy feeling of newnesss and love.  Those of us in the audience get this amazing understanding of the thrill and joy that the original apostles felt as they lived with and learned from this crazy young upstart who challenged the codified interpretations of the Law.  Each lesson is accepted with love and respect, but each apostle gets the chance to broadcast their own power.  The entire chorus opens the doorway to the inspirational love and light that the apostles must have felt as they realized the transformational lessons that their teacher was giving them.  Particularly memorable are Kayla Cavaness’ soprano strength, Momoko Sugai’s second act intro, and Luis Ceja’s inspiring rendition of “We Beseech Thee.”

Director Rovin Jay and choreographer Sonya Lane’t Randall capitalize on Godspell’s openness to adaptation.  Together, they meld classical elements like John the Baptist’s iconic “Prepare ye the Way of the Lord” number with more modern dance styles and parable interpretations that ride the wave of this show’s improvisational heart.  The love that shines through from each number, regardless of the style of choreography, reminds us yet again of the joy that came from each of us as we learned a new religious point of view and broke away from old structures into a fresh new way of thinking, acting, and believing.

That freshness is exactly what this production emphasizes.  All of us have had that joyous experience where we realized exactly where our spiritual path was leading us.   It reminds us of what it was like to be fluffy bunnies, and taps into the spiritual joy that must have been felt by the early Christian bunnies.  At some point we all have to deal with our own crucifixions that force us to see the dark side or our faiths, but this Godspell reminds us that- before all of that pain- we all danced happily in the “Beautiful City.”  We have a lot to learn from that city, from that freshness, from that love.

Performance information:

Godspell at Mysterium Thester

19211 Dodge Ave.

Santa Ana, CA 92705

For tickets, call (714) 505-3454

Performance Dates:

March 1,2,8,9,15,16,22,23

@ 8:01pm

March 3,10,17,24

@ 7:01pm

 

4 Feb 2013

9th Conference on Current Pagan Studies

Posted by tony. 1 Comment

Saturday, January 26, 2013 was the first day of the 9th Conference on Current Pagan Studies, held at Claremont Graduate University. The theme for this year was “Pagan Sensibilities in Action.”

 

The day began with a welcome talk from Jeffrey Albaugh, while we enjoyed pastries and coffee.

 

The first speaker was Kathryn LaFevers Evans who has extensive teaching experience and integrates New Mythos theory and practice in an interdisciplinary paradigm — engaging the imaginal, mythopoetic cosmologies of Renaissance Neoplatonism & natural magic with depth & archetypal psychology. She gave a presentation titled “Leadership in Depth & Archetypal Psychology: Indigenous Vision Quest in the Dreamtime” which was mostly a meditation exercise preceded by calling the quarters using rattles in a Native American fashion.

 

Joseph Merlin Nichter is a Wiccan Priest, co-founder of Mill Creek Seminary and the National Pagan Correctional Chaplains Association. As the first state-recognized Minority Faith Chaplain, Joseph provides religious services and assists with religious accommodations of minority faiths for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; he has also served as a religious program instructor for the California Department of Mental Health. Joseph’s presentation was “The Ink Blot Tarot: A Querent’s Journey of Self discovery.” Joseph has served in the military and understands tarot cards in terms of his military experience and survivor guilt. He gave up his seat in a helicopter to another soldier only to find out that the helicopter crashed, killing all on board. Joseph outlined an absolutely fascinating technique where he would use tarot cards as doorways, and then sketch in peripherals — thus scrying for the card beyond the card.

 

Kenneth Christensen has had involvement with Left Hand Path, Heathen (including Theodism), Tripura Tantra and alchemical practices. He is in the process of building his own esoteric non-theistic tradition with its origins in Theodism. He presented “Runic Alchemy:  Transmutation of the Dark Night of the Soul into a Creative Process.” Kenneth stated that the Dark Night of the Soul refers to the realization of being asleep and needing to wake up. He discussed the need to feel the presence of direct experience. The highlight was when he played the Terence McKenna video — “Reclaim Your Mind.”

 

Joan DeArtemis is an Initiated Priestess of Artemis, a Consecrated Priestess in the Western Mystery Tradition, is active in both CUUPS and the Dianic Tradition, and has been practicing the Craft for over 30 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Religion & Society from Syracuse University, and is currently working on a Master of Divinity degree at Claremont School of Theology with the intent of becoming ordained as a Unitarian Universalist Minister. Her presentation was “Help! There’s a Pagan in My Christian College!” She explained that Christianity was a new religion based on numerous old religions, and then discussed various seminaries, focusing on Cherry Hill Seminary. She outlined the inequity that Pagan chaplains work on volunteer basis, while their mainstream religion colleagues are paid.

 

Joseph Futerman and Elizabeth Rose did a joint presentation. Joseph has a PhD in clinical psychology with an emphasis is Jungian Depth Psychology, a Masters Degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in Family Therapy, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Criticism and as well, is licensed  by the State of California as Marriage and Family Therapist. He is also a certified NLP practitioner and Hypnotherapist. He is the associate chair of the Marriage and Family Therapy Department at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. He is also an adept of the Golden Dawn Tradition, a founding member of the Fellowship of the Gods, and the Kaotic Order of Adventurers, Seekers and Sorcerers his the leader of the Magus Project. Joseph is currently working on a book titled Descartes’ Depression and the Rise of Rationalism. Elizabeth is a Master’s level social worker at the Veteran’s administration, currently completing her hours for licensure. She is the Director of the Association for Pagan (and Pagan-Friendly) Therapists (APT). Her research paper and documentary ‘A Wider Path: LGBT Elders and Spirituality’ was recently published by the HPPAE Journal ‘Generativity’ and can be viewed on YouTube. She has been a practicing Pagan since 1985.

 

Joseph and Elizabeth’s presentation was titled “Building Pagan Community Organizations: Avoidance, Engagement and Adaptation.” They pointed out that the US has 1-2 million Pagans, and thus constitutes roughly 0.67% of population. As a community, Pagans generate less money than other communities of similar size. This led to a discussion of issues such as how Pagans could be motivated to serve their community, and whether Pagans actually need to have their own hospitals and other institutions.

 

Charlotte Turvey is a candidate for a Masters of Arts in anthropology at California State University Northridge. Charlotte presented “Twelve Stepping on the Margins” which was a product of her graduate research on Neo-Pagans who are in Twelve Step programs — Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Al-Anon. Even though these organizations claim to be non-religious, Christian elements are largely maintained in both. The early founders in the 1930s were Catholic and Protestant, so their idea of diversity was to bridge this gap. They are thus non-denominational Christian, rather than non-religious organizations. They both have a male-centered monotheistic worldview. Both groups state that they aim for care/contact with “God as we understood Him.” Pagan participants in Charlotte’s study had to make adaptations to adjust for incongruences between Twelve Step ideology and Pagan ideology. Meetings included the Lord’s Prayer, during which Pagans would silently substitute the Serenity Prayer. There is actually an abundance of Pagan-oriented material on the internet and in books to showing how to modify this material.

 

Kimberly Kirner, PhD, is a cultural anthropologist at California State University Northridge specializing in applied cognitive anthropology, medical anthropology, and environmental anthropology. She is interested in understanding interrelationships between cognition, emotion, and decision-making; the construction of identity and community; landscape and worldview; and the way cultural systems of knowledge interact with policy and large-scale systems to impact human behavior. Her research has focused on the political ecology of the American West rangelands; cultural modeling of health care-seeking behavior; and the Pagan Studies. Kimberly presented “Fear, Minority Stress, and the Journey Toward Healing” in which she discussed her new Pagan health survey. An interesting development was that of Pagan identity, with many respondents criticizing definitions of Paganism in their comments at the end. Heathens of course declared that they were not Pagan. She pointed out that 76% of all Pagans had to seek out help for mental distress or disorder, and of these, 22% experienced prejudice or discrimination. Terrible problems when health professionals confuse Pagan practices with mental disorders — thus, communicating with ancestors becomes identified with hearing voices. As a result, Pagans have to withhold information — beliefs and practices — to avoid being stigmatized. Interestingly, a lack of LGBT persecution draws these people to Paganism, and in turn they influence Paganism. When dealing with health professionals, LGBT pass as heterosexuals while Pagans pass as Christians to avoid prejudice.

 

The Keynote Speaker for Saturday was Sabina Magliocco, PhD, who is Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Northridge. She is a recipient of Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright and Hewlett fellowships, and an honorary Fellow of the American Folklore Society, she has published on religion, folklore, foodways, festival and witchcraft in Europe and the United States, and is a leading authority on the Neopagan movement. She is the author of numerous books and articles, including Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America (2004), Neopagan Sacred Art & Altars: Making Things Whole (2001) and with filmmaker John M. Bishop produced the documentary film series “Oss Tales,” on a May Day custom in Cornwall and its reclamation by American Pagans. Her current research is on animals in the Pagan spiritual imagination. Sabina’s presentation was “The Rise of Pagan Fundamentalism” and she explored the rise of radical religious ideologies within modern Paganisms in early 21st century America.

 

Sabina stated that when Paganism re-emerged in the mid-20th century, the emphasis was on ritual practice rather than belief. However, the 21st century saw the emergence of fundamentalist trends within Paganism, by which she means “an increasing emphasis on the acceptance of certain beliefs, including those about the history of modern Paganisms and the nature of the divine, and on a growing intransigence and hostility towards those who refuse to accept them or argue against them.” Sabina engaged in online research, limited to English speaking world. Paganism has a very strong internet presence, which fosters a sense of community, especially for those who are geographically isolated, but also allows extreme beliefs to flourish without being challenged by a more moderate majority. Myths have sacred truth and encapsulate core values in a religion, but are not necessarily literally true. Fundamentalists believe in the literal truth of foundational narratives. The purpose of foundational narratives is to capture the imagination of practitioners so that they go out and make the world a better place. Made up religions, like Jediism, show that fictional narratives can be just as effective as the longer established narratives. Belief is now coming to the fore as a benchmark of identity. Paganism has now grown into a serious player on the global stage. When Sabina finished the accolades and applause were long and loud, and she embraced them in true rock star fashion, by extending her arms out to the side and bowing repeatedly.

 

Alfred Surenyan, DMA is a composer and ethnomusicologist. He has studied in the field of classical music and folk music of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In the past 10 years he has also done research and work in Pagan Music. As both a practicing Pagan and Musician he has brought the two together both in practice and academic work. Currently Alfred is composing several chamber pieces and also has plans this year on several electronic music. He currently is an Adjunct Faculty at the Art Institute of CA, Inland Empire. Alfred’s presentation was “New Directions in Pagan Music.” He discussed styles of music not explored before, which have developed from older styles or experimental music. He focused on two types of music not used by Pagan musicians before. Firstly, there was Pagan rapping, examples of which are Manau (France), Gruf the Druid (Canada), and Kelle Maize. Secondly, there was classical / choral music.

 

Elizabeth “Flame” Malamed is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Certified Integrative Body Psychotherapist. She is also a priestess and teacher in the Reclaiming Tradition, a certified yoga instructor, and has studied in the Anderson Feri Tradition. Flame presented “From Pentacles to Stars: Adapting Pagan Practices for Broader Use.” In her presentation, Kimberly Kirner discussed the problems that result when health professionals confuse Pagan practices with mental disorders, compelling Pagans to withhold information so as to avoid being stigmatized. Flame’s talk continued on from this, as she has developed an ongoing curriculum for therapists to address this very issue.

 

Jeffrey Albaugh is a Pagan mystic who has actively participated in and practiced various forms of occultism for over twenty years, including initiations into various branches of the craft, and has studied within the Anderson Feri Tradition for a number of years. Jeffrey holds a BA in Theatre, and is currently working on a MA/PhD in depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Jeffrey presented “As Above, So Below: Pagan Theology, Polytheistic Psychology, and Pagan Praxis.” While theology is the study of a male god (theo), and thealogy is the study of a goddess (thea), Jeffrey favours the term Theoilogy — which is coined term to encompass male and female gods. When Jeffrey was younger, he resonated with Eros and Athena. Now that he is a little older, he is resonating more with Zeus and Odin. Jeffrey insisted on the need for a fluid approach, and compartmentalized the basic social functions within life as sustenance, defense, learning, leadership and healing.

 

Francesca Howell is a Religious Studies and Deep Ecology scholar, as well as a Priestess of Gaia. Her most recent doctoral studies took place in Italy, where she participated in a variety of festivals, documenting how they renewed and sometimes created bonds with community and place. As faculty and former staff of Naropa University, the work of Naropa’s Environmental Studies department and the philosophies of Buddhism have been influential in her work.  She is currently employed by the University of Colorado. Francesca presented “Sense of Place and Community: An International Pagan Perspective.” She presented a series of slides documenting her work with newly emerged Wiccan and Pagan groups in Europe, especially Italy.

 

Anne Z Parker, PhD, is a Geographer and Professor of Environmental Studies at Naropa University, teaching in the BA in Environmental Studies and MA in Environmental Leadership. Anne integrates her work and research with traditional cultures in central Australia, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and the Himalayan region, her study and practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and her active practice in the European earth-based traditions within innovative approaches to transformative education. Ann presented “Training Environmental Leaders: The Role of Buddhist Contemplative and Pagan Practices and Perspectives in Leading From the Heart.” Anne explained that to teach students she uses the “Triune Brain” theory, which means that information must be provided in a way that all three brains can take process. The information must appeal on a cognitive level for the cortex, an emotional level for the limbic regions and a physical level for the brain stem. While Western practices are conceptual and involve abstract reasoning, Buddhist contemplative practices use methods rather than beliefs, and Pagan practices are connected to nature and are methods for direct experience. Anne was actually originally a Buddhist who gradually moved into Paganism.

 

Lauren Raine is an interdisciplinary artist. She studied mask traditions in Bali, and in 1999 made 25 ceremonial masks for The Spiral Dance in San Francisco. The Masks of the Goddess traveled throughout the US for 10 years. She was awarded an Alden Dow Fellowship for her work based on the native American Creatrix myth of “Spider Woman” in 2007, and was resident artist at Henry Luce Center for the Arts at Wesley Theological in Washington, DC in 2009. Currently she is working on a series of “Numina” masks. Lauren presented “Numina: Sacred Places and Pagan Pilgrimage.” She explained that Numina is “an indwelling intelligence felt in a particular place  …  the origins of the Roman gods may be the sense of numinous presences underlying all the processes of the natural world.” “Myth has always been a way to become intimate with what is vast, hidden, elemental and invisible.  …”

 

Marie Cartier is a scholar, visual /performance artist, queer activist, poet and theologian who has been active in many movements for social change. Marie teaches at UC Irvine in Film and Media Studies, and California State University Northridge in Gender and Women’s Studies. Her PhD is in Religion from Claremont Graduate University (2010), with a major in Women Studies in Religion, and an emphasis in theology, ethics and culture. She has published several articles regarding the possible sacrality of the butch femme community at the mid-century. Her book, Baby You Are My Religion- the Emergence of Theelogy in Pre-Stonewall Gay Women’s / Butch-Femme Culture and Community will be published by Equinox Press. She has three Masters of Fine Arts Degrees, in Film, Theater, and Art. She exhibits her installation performance project MORGASM, the Museum of Radical Gender and Sex Matrix, which explores female orgasm in a museum context in galleries and on the web. Marie presented “Stories from the Yoga Mat.” Marie’s presentation was quite personal. Upon obtaining a new pair of glasses, she looked in the mirror and realized she was getting older. She wanted to protect her body/mind. This led to a new found commitment to yoga. Yoga is a body/mind system that prioritizes the present moment, and practitioners are encouraged repeatedly to listen to their bodies.

 

The day ended with Marie Cartier running a short class on yoga.

 

Sunday, January 27, 2013 was the second day of the Conference and began with a welcome talk from Dorothea Kahena Viale and William Blumberg.

 

Zayn Kassam is the John Knox McLean Professor of Religious Studies at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. The winner of two Wig Awards for Distinguished Teaching, she has also won the National American Academy of Religion award for Excellence in Teaching. She teaches courses on women in Islam, Islamic mysticism, Islamic thought, as well as contemporary Muslim literature. More recently, she has also been teaching courses on religion and the environment. Zayn has lectured widely on gender issues in Muslim societies, and has authored a volume on Islam and edited a book on Women and Islam. Her current research investigates contemporary challenges facing Muslim women. Zayn is also a board member for the highly acclaimed Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, as well as the Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace. Zayn presented “Bringing Pagan Sensibilities into Classroom Pedagogy,” where she referred heavily to Rumi’s writings and Carol P Christ’s “Rebirth of the Goddess: Finding Meaning in Feminist Spirituality.” One of the central messages in Carol Christ’s writings was: “We find in the Goddess a compelling image of female power, a vision of the deep connection of all beings in the web of life, and a call to create peace on earth. The return of the Goddess inspires us to hope that we can heal the deep rifts between women and men, between “man” and nature, and between “God” and the world, that have shaped our western view of reality for too long.”

 

Jennifer Rycenga is Professor of Comparative Religious Studies at San Jose State University. Her areas of interest include American religious history, religion and music, feminist analyses of religion, lesbian history, religion and politics, and feminist analyses of music. She is co-editor of two books, “Frontline Feminisms” (with Margie Waller) and “Queering the Popular Pitch” (with Sheila Whiteley). Currently she is working on a biography of Prudence Crandall, a white Abolitionist teacher, and editing a reader of Mary Daly’s work. Jennife’s presentation was “Richard Jefferies and F C Happold: The Presumption of Nature’s Naivete.” She described varieties of spiritual experience, focusing on “peak” experiences rather than everyday ones. She divided these into two categories:

  • Moments of great insights – epiphanies, hierophanies, theophanies; spirit possession; shamanic healing
  • Moments of great achievement within a system – meditation, yoga, contemplation; earning darshan, a Sanskrit term for the glance of the divine; understanding one’s destiny (vision quest)

A text Jennifer uses in one of her classes is F C Happold’s “Mysticism: A Study and an Anthology.” She pondered why Richard Jefferies was included in this anthology, whereas numerous greater mystics were omitted, such as Catharine of Siena, Catherine of Genoa, Francis de Sales and Jacob Boehme. One of the issues her students faced in this class was that “mysticism” has become a term of derision amongst atheists, and Jennifer has been restoring its original meaning.

 

Dorothea Kahena Viale, PhD is the creator and organizer of the Conference on Current Pagan Studies. She is currently teaching at CalPoly Pomona where she enjoys the opportunity to introduce her students to experiential activities like being born into their new lives through mask making, dancing as well as guiding them to be critical thinkers. Kahena is an ardent fan of embodied knowledge and acquires hers through raqs al-sharqi, referred to in the United States as belly dance. She shares this knowledge through her classes and sacred dance dramas. Kahena is currently writing on lived religions as shared by women as well as the validity of religion not based on revelation. Kahena presented “Drumming, Dancing, Masks and Circles in the Academic Classroom,” the highlight of which was a short video on mask making.

 

Armando D. Marini/Murtagh A. anDoile is an independent scholar and researcher. He is the Director for the Pagan History Project. He has a degree in Anthropology and has worked as an archaeologist for Brown University.  Tagh has been involved in the Pagan movement since 1968, and is a Druid and elder of the Tuatha De Danann Tradition (NECTW) and the group, Nemed na Morrigna. Through talks given in the early 80’s, he is one of the progenitors of the Celtic Reconstructionist movement. He was interviewed in “Keepers of the Flame: Interviews with Elders of Traditional Witchcraft in America”. Tagh presented “Reconsidering Magic and Witchcraft in America before Gardner: Grandmother Stories Reconsidered or Don’t throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater.” Tagh quoted J Gordon Melton’s “The Origins of Contemporary Paganism”.

Influences and Traditions that we know are continuous from history and folklore in America:

1)       The growth and study of Non-Christian religions on the academic and popular levels; started with the Orientalist revival in the late 1800s and was introduced in America in early 20th century.

2)       Occult practices as Theosophy, which created space for an occult worldview; Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry; the ideas of secret organizations with a degree system and occult teachings; Ritual Magic: the rituals which bring the ideas of High and Low Magic.

3)       Parapsychology, especially by J B Rhine in the 1930s.

4)       Witchcraft, here relating to folk witchcraft or cunning work; ads can be found in New England and MidWest newspapers & histories from 1800s.

Tagh’s focus was on the folk witchcraft or cunning work that predated Gardner.

 

Aline O’Brien/M Macha NightMare. P&W, is an internationally published author (“Witchcraft and the Web, and Pagan Pride: Honoring the Craft and Culture of Earth and Goddess”, and, with Starhawk, “The Pagan Book of Living and Dying”), ritualist and all- round Pagan webweaver. A member of the American Academy of Religion, the Marin Interfaith Council, the Nature Religion Scholars Network, the Covenant of the Goddess (CoG), and the Advisory Council of the Sacred Dying Foundation, Macha speaks on behalf of Paganism to news media and academic researchers, and presents at colleges, universities and seminaries, and teaches on the broomstick circuit. She currently sits the Board of Directors of Cherry Hill Seminary, the first and only seminary serving the Neopagan community. Aline presented “Elders and Oldsters, Ancestors and Teachers.”She analyzed the results of her survey of contemporary American Pagans, which indicated that the growth of reliable and trustworthy eldership is necessary for the prospective health and viability of the contemporary Pagan movement.

 

Sam Webster, M Div, Mage, has taught magick publicly since 1984. He graduated from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley in 1993. He is now a PhD candidate at the University of Bristol, UK, studying Pagan history under Prof Ronald Hutton. He is an Adept of the Golden Dawn, and an initiate of Wiccan, Druidic, Buddhist, Hindu and Masonic traditions, publisher at Concrescent Press, author of “Tantric Thelema” and the blogs “Arkadian Anvil” and “Pagan Restoration”. He founded the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn in 2001 (www.OSOGD.org), and serves the Pagan community principally as a priest of Hermes. Sam presented “Theurgy and the Ancient Origins of today’s Pagan Religion.”Sam analyzed the practice of Theurgy in Iamblichus (ancient times), Agrippa (medieval times) and the Golden Dawn (relatively modern times) and found that there were commonalities in practice. This led him to conclude that there are non-lineal lines of transmission. Theurgy was transmitted via books to the Renaissance, via books and persons to the Victoria Age, and via books, persons and groups to Pagans today. Thus, while there are no ancient lineages, there is access to ancient spiritual technology.

 

Peter Dybing is a national disaster team Section Chief with extensive experience in high reliability management and leadership during disaster responses. His background includes experience as a firefighter, EMT, mental health counselor and cooperate executive. Peter is also an activist involved in multiple causes including international humanitarian disaster assistance, environmental action, Occupy issues and Pagan community organizational advocacy. Peter is a former National First Officer of Covenant of the Goddess and a Board member of 100% for Haiti. He is currently traveling the country meeting with local Pagans. Peter presented “Stirring The Cauldron of Pagan Sensibilities,” which he began by leaping onto a desk so as to capture our undivided attention. Continuing on from Aline O’Brien, Peter discussed Pagan leadership, where he focused on three types:

  • Traditional (Covenant of the Goddess board)
  • Organic (Sunflower River Collective)
  • Fantasy (internet based)

He promoted the concept of Transformative Leadership where an individual might answer a leadership call to action within a group but then step down from leadership to insure that the entire group has a sense of accomplishment. This approach requires that egos be set aside. Peter discussed Pagan leaders, pointing out that they deserved respect, understanding, compassion and a voice; but pointed out that they may be the products of their generation, with tightly held beliefs and values that differ from contemporary ones.

 

Sam Webster gave another presentation, “Pagan Soteriology.”Soteriology was defined as “the doctrine of salvation” by the early Church. However, it was originally a Hellenic (or older) term. A crucial element in Iamblichus’ soteriology was an impulse to prayer. The importance of soteriology lays in the key question of what happens after death and the life goals of an individual, consisting of liberation, enlightenment and harmony.

 

Tony Mierzwicki, the author of “Graeco-Egyptian Magick: Everyday Empowerment,” presented “Pagan Warriors Past and Present.” Tony discussed the prevalence of war and warriors in ancient society. He discussed the relevance of ancient Greek literature to contemporary warfare. Tony went on to point out the Pagans in the military suffer discrimination from evangelical Christians in the military and pacifist Pagans. He argued that even though Pagans may oppose a war, they should still support the Pagan soldiers fighting it.

 

Amber D Gray is a former graduate student from CSUSB. Amber graduated with a MA in Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on Religion, Culture and Family Dynamics in 2009. She graduated magna cum laude and is a member of CSUSB’s International Honour Society. After graduation, Amber continued to work in the field of Behavioral Health as a Case Manager and Part-Time Counselor. She is a Hellenic Pagan Polytheist and founder of an Online Hellenic Pagan Community. Amber presented “On Racism, Homophobia, and Misogyny: In Hellenic / Pagan Reconstructionist Communities After the Election of President Obama.” Aspects of Amber’s presentation followed on from Sabina Magliocco’s presentation. Amber pointed out that while the internet allowed Pagans to feel connected to each other, it allowed unchecked behavior and allowed discrimination against creed, religion, sexual orientation, race and gender. Pagan Reconstructionism is a branch of Paganism that is 90% Caucasian, where mainstream exclusionary practices foster Pagan exclusionary practices. This creates an environment conducive to the inclusion of fringe elements (Neo-Nazis, Anti-Semitics, Misogynists, Racists, Nationalists, Homophobes, and other hate groups). Public division after the presidential election exacerbated the issue. She cited the example of K Pythia, whose blog and newsletters were widely utilized by Hellenic Reconstructionists, but who came under fire when she was revealed as being non-white. Some Reconstructionists insist that you must be of the same heritage and race to practice. Greco-Roman subjugation and degradation of women is being continued by some Reconstructionists, who push aside and dismiss the points of view of women. Some Reconstructionists consider LGBTs inferior. Those Pagans who are less knowledgeable than others are made to feel inferior on Reconstructionist forums. Amber recommended that intolerance must be made unacceptable on the internet by taking a universal stance, and ensuring that it is inclusive.

 

Helen Hye-Sook Hwang, PhD (Korea and USA), is a scholar, teacher, and activist for Goddess Feminism and World Peace. Hwang earned an MA and a PhD degree in Women’s Studies in Religion (Claremont Graduate University, CA) and currently completing her second MA degree in East Asian Studies at UCLA. She has reconstructed Magoism, a pan-East Asian gynocentric cultural matrix that venerates Mago, the Great Goddess of East Asia. Hwang advocates Magoism as a historical framework in which women of the world can realize alliances across differences. Previously, she was a member of Maryknoll Sisters in Korea, New York, and the Philippines. Encountering Mary Daly’s Radical Feminism, she pursued her graduate studies. Hwang has published many articles in English and Korean and gives lectures, while teaching religions and feminisms at the university level. Hwang is going to lead the first Mago Pilgrimage to Korea, June 6-20, 2013. Hwang presented “Field Research of Collecting the Oral Stories of Gaeyang Halmi, the Sea Goddess of Korea, and Uncovering Her Magoist Implications.” Mago is a yet-to-be-known Great Goddess of East Asia. In documenting and interpreting a wealth of primary sources from Korea, China, and Japan, Hwang discovered the tangible but “forgotten” tradition of Mago and named it Magoism, which is. the ancient gynocentric tradition of East Asia that venerates Mago as supreme authority.

 

Thus ended the 9th Conference on Current Pagan Studies. The presentations were of a high level and left attendees with numerous points to ponder. Some presentations fostered enhanced understanding, while others were calls to action. The next few months may well see ripples of change in the Pagan community attributable to this conference.

 

Tony Mierzwicki

24 Jan 2013

Three Worlds, One Heart: Shamanic Journey and Study Group!

Posted by rayna. No Comments

A new community is forming for those who are ready to cross between the worlds and meet their spirit allies! I am forming a journey and study group at the Owls Lantern. Each month we will explore the three worlds as well as focus on the work of  one shaman/author. Suggested reading for January’s meeting is The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner.

Beginners are always welcome!

The Owl’s Lantern, 801 – A South Euclid, Fullerton, CA.

7-9 pm. Bring a yoga mat, towel or blanket.  $15.00.

January 1/24/2013 suggested reading: The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner

February 2/21/2013 suggested reading: In the Dark Places of Wisdom by Peter Kingsley

Check out the details, and the other classes and events at the Owl’s Lantern here:

http://www.theowlslantern.com/events/

28 Dec 2012

Pagan Conference 2013

Posted by William. No Comments

On January 26 & 27, 2013, The Conference on Current Pagan Studies will be hosting their 9th annual conference at Claremont Graduate University, Claremont CA. This is a multi-discipline academic conference with participate both inside and outside of the Pagan communities. Started in 2004 by Dorothea Kahena Viale as part of her graduate work, the conference has become a venue for scholars in Pagan studies.

This year’s theme is Pagan Sensibilities in Action. Pagan perspectives are “manifest as our lived experiences in artistic expression, personal and collective practices, the manner in which we hold power, and other engagements” (from the Call for Papers page). Around 30 scholar will be presenting including the keynote speakers: Peter Dybing and Sabina Magliocco. The keynote speakers keep with the tradition of actively pursuing both well known and interesting practitioners along with active scholars. Being more inclusive sets this conference apart from other academic conferences.

Papers range from Putting Descartes before the horse: Pagan identities and challenges to serving the Pagan body politic (moderated by Sabina Magliocco with presentations by Joe Futerman, Elizabeth Rose Marini, and Kimberly Kiner) to Field Research of Collecting the Oral Stories of Gaeyang Halmi, the Sea Goddess of Korea, and Uncovering Her Magoist Implications (presented by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang, Ph.D). Being a multi-discipline, the Conference on Current Pagan Studies has something to offer everyone. You do not need to be a scholar or academic to attend and enjoy these presentations. However, your enjoyment may be related on how well you liked those interesting lectures in school.

You can register online at http://paganconference.com/registration/. Also for more information or to ask some question, please see the Conference on Current Pagan Studies Facebook Page.

As a matter of full discloser, I currently serve on the Conference on Current Pagan Studies leadership team where I receive no monetary compensation only the knowledge that I am making a difference in the Pagan community.

William Blumberg

Content Creator at Piety Project