Star Foster moves to Paganistan

Star Foster, Managing Editor for the Pagan Channel at*, had been considering making a change in her life for several months.  When she needed to move out of a less than desirable living arrangement on short notice, she chose Minnesota.  “I have come to know so many midwest Pagans, either online or at festivals, that this area seemed like a good place to go to find community and not be entirely alone. Plus, some of my friends here made a pretty good case for the reasonable cost of living, public transportation and low unemployment in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Paganistan just had too many things that made it attractive for me to not be tempted, despite the snow,” said Ms. Foster.

With four bags and many well-wishes, Star Foster arrives in Minnesota.

Foster was living in a rural part of Georgia and was sharing a home with three other persons.  The situation was tense and came to head last week, resulting in Ms. Foster reaching out to her friends and religious community.  She had $3 in her pocket and no idea where she would live.  Local friends gave her a place to stay and helped her pack and store some of her belongings, although most she would have to give away.  “People opened their homes to me, sent me money for moving expenses, fed me, gave me rides to the places I needed to go, sent me words of encouragement, gave me their phone numbers if I needed someone to talk to, and invited me to their events. I had offers of places to stay from all over the country, and even a job offer or two.”

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Faith and Spirituality Site Experiences Record Growth

by Tasha-Rose Mirick recently exceeded one million unique viewers to the website for the first time in it’s history as the site continues to experience monthly growth. Patheos is the premiere source for dialogue on matters of faith, belief and religion in the world today. Says Star Foster, Manager of the Pagan Portal at Patheos, of the site, “I’m incredibly proud of how much we’ve grown with such a small dedicated staff.”

Leo Brunnick, Patheos CEO, says of the growth the site has experienced, “I think the growth of Patheos is a product of the appetite that exists in this country for reasoned, honest conversations about faith.” He went on to add, “Patheos is home to many of the most important and respected writers in the world of religion today, and we’re adding new voices to the mix on a weekly basis.”

Some of the writers Brunnick refers to include Sacred Harvest Festival guest presenter for 2011, Crystal Blanton as well as The Wild Hunt and Gus diZerega and PNC’s very own Cara Schulz.

Patheos isn’t just a forum for Pagan voices, however, “It’s critical to Patheos’ mission that the site reflects the rich religious diversity of the country, so we’re continually adding new resources, “ Brunnick said. Recently Patheos launched a Progressive Christian Portal, selections to the World Religions Library in addition to maintaining the Pagan Portal.

Star Foster

“Who would have thought such a diverse site with so many diverse viewpoints would grow so fast? I’m proud of the work we do and honored to work with really wonderful people from faiths quite different from my own. I have a lot of hope for the future and ambitious plans for the Pagan Portal as we continue to grow. We couldn’t have gotten this far without really terrific Pagan writers and loyal readers.” Says Foster was founded in 2008 and features many of the world’s best writers and bloggers on religion, faith and spirituality. The website’s focus is to be a hub for information for people to learn about different belief systems as well as to connect others who share similar faiths to facilitate honest discussions on the most debated topics of our day.

Pagans Standing By Japan: How You Can Help

Reprinted from Patheos

On Friday, as I watched the news and saw the damage caused by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami that swept the Pacific, I began to reach out to Pagan charities and get as much information as possible on the best way to help the Japanese people rescue, heal and restore. I wish I could claim I was overwhelmed with responses.

Peter Dybing has been reaching out to his contacts to find the best way for folks to effectively aid in the disaster relief. He’s posted his recommendations on his blog. Here is his primary suggestion, and he’s asking folks to match his $54 contribution:

My primary suggestion for donations is ‘Doctors without Borders. This organization now has two teams on the ground in Japan setting up medical treatment centers. While this is a well-known NGO, I am recommending them due to their level of accomplishment in Haiti saving lives. Additionally, when this organization raised enough funds for its Haiti response it stopped accepting donations. It is important to recognize that organizations have a logistical limit as to how much they can accomplish. By suspending fundraising this organization demonstrated a commitment to spend funds wisely and not just take the opportunity to raise unlimited cash as other large NGO’s did. With this in mind, a Pagan Community donation Page has been set up to enable donations to this organization.

The Delaware Valley Pagan Network is also raising donations for disaster relief.

I’ll be contributing what I can and hope you will too. If you know of other ways to show support and solidarity with the Japanese people and the peoples of the Pacific Rim as they respond to this disaster please let us know in the comments.

Article by Star Foster, Pagan Portal Director

Addendum:  via The Wild Hunt

the Unitarian Universalist Association has set up a fund that sounds very promising.

“Following Friday’s devastating earthquake and resulting tsunamis, the UUA has been in contact with our religious partners in Japan to express our concern and our willingness to partner with them in recovery efforts.  Our partners, including Rissho Kosei-kai, Tsubaki Grand Shrine, the Konko Church of Izuo, the Tokyo Dojin Church, and the Japan Chapter of the International Association for Religious Freedom are all in discernment about the specific efforts they will be taking to support recovery work, and the UUA will walk with them in the directions that are ultimately chosen.  Please join with UUs throughout the United States by contributing to the UUA’s Japan Relief Fund which will support the work that our Japanese partners pursue.”

A partnership of UUA, Buddhist, Shinto, and Japanese religious freedom organizations would seem to help avoid the allegations and scandals that some international aid organizations are encountering, and work towards immediate and locally directed assistance.

Patheos Begins Series on Wicca

Patheos, whom Newsweek Magazine just listed as the website to read to be smarter about religion, is running a series on Wicca in the Pagan Portal during the month of January. This is part of a monthly focus on different Pagan traditions in 2011.

Every Monday and Friday in January Star Foster, Pagan Portal Manager, will ask a different question about Wicca. Responses to the first question – What makes someone Wiccan? – are already on the site.  Many well-known practitioners within Wicca are participating and readers are invited to send in their 250-500 word responses as well.  Below is a taste of what the series is like.

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Editorial – Christ is NOT the Reason for the Season

Editors note:  This editorial is reprinted with permission from the Pagan Portal at Patheos. Patheos is a site committed to giving balanced views of religion and spirituality.  Patheos is also a partner of the Pagan Newswire collective.  The Pagan Portal is updated daily with some truly quality content.

Once upon a time I was Christian, specifically I was a devout Born Again Baptist. Yes, I have read the Bible from cover-to-cover six different times. I can still sing a number of hymns from memory, as well as modern Christian songs, and I can quote Bible verses and Church history at you better than some ministers I’ve met through the years (though certainly not all). Long before I ever even conceived of converting, when people would say “Christ is the reason for the season” it irked me, because even then and as a Christian I knew that it simply wasn’t true.

Now that I am Pagan (specifically Heathen) it especially irks me, since so many people who say that phrase do so while they rage for their Christian rights on the winter holidays while running roughshod over the rights and beliefs of countless other people and religions out there. Every year there’s some new boycott enacted by outraged Christians because a store clerk didn’t wish someone a “Merry Christmas” or a particular store didn’t use the words Merry Christmas in their advertising. The Christian values American Family Association has been known to call for boycotts in the past, and this year they’ve already blacklisted Dick’s Sporting Goods for perceived snubs against “Christmas” this year.

So why the confusion?

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Paganism Featured on Prominent Religious Website

Via the Wild Hunt:, a web site dedicated to religious and spiritual dialog, has been running a special series this Summer looking at the future of religion. Each week focuses on a different religious tradition or movement, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, and several others. This week the focus is on modern Paganism.

Jason Pitzl-Waters spoke with spoke with Star Foster,’s Pagan Portal Manager, who stressed to him how important it is for our communities to consider our collective future(s).

“The Future of Pagan religions is even more fascinating because we’ve never conformed to the future laid out for us. We were saying we would remain a fringe, occult community and now one of the cast members of the most popular cartoon show for the past 20 years has become Wiccan. We were insistent about transmitting information orally or by handcopying and now the internet has made Paganism an open-source community. You can find our classics at your local library. We’re growing and diversifying yet the concept of our future is very hazy to most of us. There are people who have been active in the community for decades who have no idea just how diverse we have become or how much we have grown. It’s safe to say that there are millions of us worldwide. Even if we only number 2 million, that’s still huge compared to 10 years ago. How many of us will there be 10 years from now? How will we respond to and accommodate that growth? How do we enter the mainstream without out losing our dynamic, autonomous qualities?”

Star Foster and have assembled an impressive line-up of modern Pagans from a wide array of faiths, traditions, and perspectives to give their input on the subject. This week will see contributions from scholars like Helen Berger and Sarah Pike, renowned Pagan journalist Margot Adler (check out The Wild Hunt interview), author Christopher Knowles, mystic and ritualist T. Thorn Coyle, and several prominent clergy and leaders, including M. Horatius Picinus, Pontifex Maximus of Nova Roma.

Ms Foster noted that being granted equal standing with the other major world religions on such a well-respected and high traffic website doesn’t happen every day.

For an entire week, the focus of a major religion website will be on US. Wow. I don’t think this has happened before. It’s really kind of mind-blowing when I think about it. We’re being given equal time with Catholics, Mormons, Buddhists and Evangelicals.

Along with reading these extremely interesting and thought-provoking articles, Star Foster invites you to get involved in this special week:

I’m only one person though, and I could really use your help. If you like what we are doing here and you’d like to see us continue to promote thoughtful writers from diverse Pagan backgrounds I’d love it if you would make a small donation of time.

All this week I will be posting links to Facebook and Twitter, and towards the middle of the week I’ll be sending out a new newsletter for the Pagan portal. If you could share my Facebook posts, retweet my tweets and encourage people to sign up for the newsletter this week it would really help to make this series a smashing success, and ensure more interesting Pagan series to come!

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