Pagans gather at SCOTUS to pray, advocate for same sex marriage

On Tuesday, March 26 and Wednesday, March 27, the Supreme Court hears more than 3 hours of arguments in the challenges to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry) and the Defense of Marriage Act (Windsor v. United States).  On Tuesday morning Circle Sanctuary’s Rev. Selena Fox takes part in a multi-faith prayer service in Washington DC promoting “love & Justice.  Starting tonight, Pagan author and GLBT activist David Salisbury, who is also a guest at this year’s Sacred Harvest Festival, is camping out on the steps of the Supreme Court .

Proposition 8, which centers around a challenge to California’s voter-approved gay marriage ban, is argued on Tuesday at 10am  ET.  SCOTUS is to decide is it violates the 14th Amendment, which prevents states from denying people equal protection under the law.  The case could hinge on a technicality since there’s a question about whether gay marriage opponents have a right to defend the ban in court, since the state of California has declined to do so.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), falls under the Fifth Amendment and is argued Wednesday at 10am ET.  The case challenges the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages which prevents those couples from getting tax breaks and other benefits for married couples.  Similar to Prop 8, the Obama administration has decided not to defend the law, so this raises the question if SCOTUS has the jurisdiction to rule on the case.

 

 Depending on how the SCOTUS rules, both of these trials could have major nation-wide effects that would change the course of our movement forever. People from all over the country will be arriving here in the District to rally at the trial on Tuesday. A crew of people (including me) will be sleeping outside on the sidewalk of the Supreme Court on Monday night before the rally on Tuesday. That night I will facilitate a ritual calling upon the guardian Goddess of DC and of the United States, Columbia. We will ask Columbia to bring the sword of victory to our work, leading us in the march to freedom and justice. Before the Tuesday rally, I’ll attend an interfaith service with some of my of my coreligionists and people of other faiths. – David Salisbury, Witches & Pagans magazine

david

David Salisbury

Salisbury will be live tweeting starting tonight and you can follow him on twitter.

On Tuesday morning, in Washington DC, Rev. Selena Fox is taking part in a multi-faith equality prayer service at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation starting at 7:15am.  The prayer service is followed by a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court.  Twenty different clergy members representing 15 different faiths are leading the prayer service.  Rev. Fox is also attending the ritual hosted by David Salisbury to call upon the patron Goddess of the United States, Columbia, to bless our nation and guide the Supreme Court towards  justice, truth, and equality.

Rev. Selena Fox

Rev. Selena Fox

local rally in support of same sex marriage takes place in St. Paul at 7pm tonight.  Interested persons are meeting at the Federal Courthouse Plaza in Minneapolis.  The organizer for the event, Jacob Reita, says there will be no speeches and no anger, ”   I am inviting you to come and stand with me to give witness to the nation and the world how important that week will be for LGBT American obtaining freedom and equality.  If the spirit moves you come on down to the Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis with your candle, your determination for fully equality and spend an hour with me.”

If you live outside the Twin Cities area, you can find rally in your state on this google map.

New Alexandrian Library Foundation in DC is Laid

via PNC-DC

By David Salisbury
For nearly a year, PNC-DC has been reporting on the announcement and progress of the New Alexandrian Library – a Pagan library project at Seelie Court in Delaware. This week, a huge step in the construction process took place as workers laid the foundation for the physical structure. I was able to briefly speak with ASW elder Michael Smith on the process. Additional information on the building was given by Jim Dickinson, the NAL’s Project Construction Manager.

CapitalWitch – Recently the foundation for the library site was poured. Can you describe what that process was like?

Michael Smith – It was actually a several stage process. First the footers were poured and a riser wall was constructed to make sure that the finished floor would be above the 100-year flood-water estimates. We want to make sure everything we are entrusted with is kept safe for the ages! After the foundation was backfilled to ensure a minimum 4” floor pad, we held a ritual to seed the floor area with crystals charged at the Between the Worlds rituals in 2004 and 2007, waters collected from the sacred sites around the planet, and crystals charged by supporters of the project over the years. The floor pad was then poured over all those charged sacrifices and blessings. It is just amazing how much energy people have given in support of this project through the years, in anticipation of this manifestation, and we are so grateful that it continues!

CW – Are there any obstacles such as weather that pose challenges?

MS – The construction process can be unpredictable – as anyone who has ever built their own home knows! After the necessary permits were obtained (a daunting process in itself!), the weather was our most difficult challenge. There were alternating periods of extreme heat and then strings of days when rain prevented work. Temperature is very important when pouring concrete and too much heat can cause all sorts of issues: early set of the concrete, inadequate time to work it properly and ensure air bubbles are floated out and the pad cures level. Today, we got very lucky in that the temperature was much lower than predicted a few days ago. The decision was make by the contractor and the masons at 5:30 a.m. this morning. The floor is in, beautifully flat and curing well!

CW – The laying of the foundation seems like an exciting step both physically and spiritually. Was there or will be any additional magickal prep-worked involved in the setting of the foundation or the raising of the walls?

MS – As mentioned above, sacred waters from around the world, sacred protective objects and crystals charged for this very purpose at our Between The Worlds gatherings’ main rituals in 2000, 2004, and 2007 are placed throughout the foundation. This work was designed to root all of the power and intention we have raised to support the Library over the years. Additional ritual and magickal work will be done at each step of the construction. The specific dome construction allows us to place objects and implant workings into each seam between the triangles – to help the project grow and prosper each step of the way.

CW – What are the next steps for the structure of the building?

MS – After the pad is full cured, the contractor will begin assembling the vertical riser walls. Then he will use a small crane to lift the triangle components into place. It is then that we will be able to see the ‘dome’ take form! Soon after, the standard wood construction bits will be put in (and windows and doors installed) – and we will have a strong, durable, long-lasting concrete vault for the collection!

CW – Do you expect the upcoming stages to move forward in the time frame you anticipated?

MS – Giving a couple of days here and there – to deal with future weather issues – we are expected to be right on schedule! The dam has broken and the energy of this project is flowing from Yesod to Malkuth in a free and beautiful way! The building will be done on schedule. We have great confidence in our contractor and appreciate his desire to make sure things are done right and well, even if it take a little longer than expected. We expect the Library to be around for many, many, many decades and recognize the need for the beginnings, and there will be many, to be as considered and grounding as possible.

Then begins the hard work of outfitting it to display and maintain the collections in peak condition: shelving, digital media equipment, etc. It is a very exciting time and there are small hoards of people that cannot wait to get into the nuts and bolts details of outfitting a state-of-the-art esoteric research library!

CW –  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

MS – We need continued donations of money!  We will, of course, release a complete accounting of the project and an official audit of the project by an outside firm.  We want everyone to know we are using your donations wisely and responsibly!

New Alexandrian Library is a Dream whose time is now. Now, more than ever, we need the continued support of the communities and individuals the NAL is being built to serve.   Please donate!

Any monetary donation, no matter how small, is needed now as the project progresses. One can donate through the NAL’s website or through the Causes campaign ‘Support the New Alexandrian Library.’

Please, spread the word of this important project to one’s communities and friends. And look for more exciting news and additional ways that people can help the New Alexandrian Library in the near future.

Becoming Columbia

From PNC-DC’s David Salisbury

Columbia atop the US Capitol building

I love living in Washington, DC. Just ask anyone who knows me at all. The first time I visited DC was in 2007 and as soon as I entered the District I knew I would live in the area some day. The call from the land to connect was stronger anything any other land call I had ever felt before. Two years later my life somewhat imploded in a way that pushed me to peruse my dream of living in the capital area and working for the civil rights organization I work for now. It turns out the call to live here came for very specific reasons. I immediately immersed myself in the local community here with activism, leadership, and community service. I joined a coven I’m still happily with that I’d give my life for. I made friendships that will last until the day I die. I believe that all of this was a call from Columbia. She wanted me to come her and also to become her. Let me explain.

Whether you think of Columbia as a goddess, a land spirit, or an archetype, most people who work with her in some way will tell you that she is very real and very alive. Standing atop the dome of the Capitol Building, I pass by her many times in the week as I leave my office and make my way around town. Her posture is regal and protective, sovereign and welcoming. To me, she is a goddess of the area I live in as well as the United States itself. She is known also as Lady Liberty or Libertas, protecting the largest city in the country, New York City. In New York, she welcomed hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the shores of America in our early melting pot days. I wonder if those settlers felt the same type of call I do when I talk past her in DC?

Columbia is a featured goddess in my personal pantheon because of the spirit she embodies, justice and freedom. And no, I don’t mean the overused patriarchal use of “freedom” as in the colonization of other countries and the greed of war. When I speak of freedom, I mean our ability to live our own authentic lives while we co-create a better world with those around us. Freedom to me means that I rely on myself to create the changes I need to make myself happy and to assist my beloved community I’m a part of. Like Lady Liberty, I pick up the torch and light my own path because I’m confident in my power to do so. This is becoming Columbia. When aspecting Columbia, she doesn’t seem to respond to lengthy invocations or petitionary appeals. Instead, she looks to see how I carry myself, how I speak, and what I do for others. Her words of challenge are “what have you done for others today?” She does not help those who do not try to first help themselves. She teaches me personal responsibility every single day.

Columbia with petition for the rights of women – artist David Savage

If Columbia is a patron goddess of DC and the US, then surely the Fourth of July would be among the most sacred of her feast days. Today I will make donations to social service programs that help the poor in DC. I will direct energy from my home to Columbia’s statue atop the Capitol dome and ask for her continued blessing. Most importantly, I will rededicate myself to a continued life of activism and service. In doing so, I become Columbia. I become the spirit of Liberty and Justice for all.

[For more information about Columbia and defending the rights of Pagan in the US, visit HailColumbia.us.]

O Liberty–the dearest word
A bleeding country ever heard,–
We lay our hopes upon thy shrine
And offer up our lives for thine.
You gave us many happy years
Of peace and plenty ere the tears
A mourning country wept were dried
Above the graves of those who died
Upon thy threshold. And again
When newer wars were bred, and men
Went marching in the cannon’s breath
And died for thee and loved the death,
While, high above them, gleaming bright,
The dear old flag remained in sight,
And lighted up their dying eyes
With smiles that brightened paradise.
O Liberty, it is thy power
To gladden us in every hour
Of gloom, and lead us by thy hand
As little children through a land
Of bud and blossom; while the days
Are filled with sunshine, and thy praise
Is warbled in the roundelays
Of joyous birds, and in the song
Of waters, murmuring along
The paths of peace, whose flowery fringe
Has roses finding deeper tinge
Of crimson, looking on themselves
Reflected–leaning from the shelves
Of cliff and crag and mossy mound
Of emerald splendor shadow-drowned.–
We hail thy presence, as you come
With bugle blast and rolling drum
James Whitcomb Riley – Liberty, 1878

GOP Presidential candidate impresses with pro-Pagan stance

If you are a fiscal liberal and wish for more governmental intervention in your daily life, then GOP Presidential hopeful Johnson is not the candidate for you.  If, however, you are like most Americans and are looking for a President who leans more socially liberal/fiscally conservative you may want to give Johnson a further look.  Couple this view with an unabashed pro-Pagan, pro-human rights outlook and clear openness to alternative views on a whole host of issues and you may have as close to an ideal candidate for President as the Pagan community has yet seen.

Last night’s video conference between Gov. Johnson and Pagan and Hindu media was unusual and groundbreaking.  Unlike most every other candidate for political office at any level, Johnson not only agreed to speak publicly with Pagans, he promoted the event openly on his official Google+ page.   In talking with other Pagan media after the conference, many of us related personal experiences with politicians, even those sympathetic to us in private, who refuse to be seen speaking with us in public.   They don’t want an association with ‘people like us’ to damage their credibility and truth to tell, they don’t care enough about our concerns to address them.  This was not the case with Johnson.  During the interview he showed no discomfort addressing issues specific to our community and never flinched from saying the word Pagan.  An example of how supportive Gov. Johnson is to Pagan rights, and basic human rights, can be summed up in a message he had for Pagans and Wiccans serving in the US military,“It should be about equality, it’s not, and I appreciate their service  even though you are not being treated equally.”

It could be easy to dismiss Johnson’s decision in speaking with Pagans while seeking election as the actions of an unknown candidate low in the polls, but that would miss the mark.  Johnson is a successful two-term Governor of New Mexico and is the only GOP candidate who scores positive approval ratings in his home state.  He is not a ‘nothing’ candidate, but a qualified candidate with executive level experience.  What has hampered his candidacy is the mainstream medias’ inexplicable exclusion of Johnson from televised debates.  They have set up criteria that bars Johnson’s inclusion in the debates, a candidate must reach 2% in their polls, but ensures he can never meet that bar by excluding him as an option in their polls.  This sets up a scenario where Johnson is a longshot for the GOP nomination, unless people vote for him in the GOP primaries.  So while we finally have a Presidential candidate who is willing to listen to Pagans and supports us on many issues important to our community, we may never have the opportunity to vote for him.  What makes it even more bittersweet for some Pagans is that such an outspoken candidate for Pagan rights is running on the Republican ticket, not Democratic.

Click HERE to watch the video conference with Gov. Johnson courtesy of KeithBarrett.tv.

A full transcript is available at the Staff of Asclepius blog.

The hour and a half interview covered a wide range of questions about GLBT rights, Pagan military chaplains, raw milk, teaching yoga in schools, TSA and the Patriot Act, economic, and environmental concerns.  Many of the questions were submitted by Pagan community leaders like Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary and by your average Pagan on the street.    Below are just a few of the highlights from the hour and half Q&A with Gov. Johnson, but I strongly encourage everyone to view the entire interview.

Cara Schulz, PMC-MN:  It is commonly thought in the Pagan community that Republican candidates are hostile to minority religions such as ours.  What message would you like to get across to Pagan voters about how you would represent them if elected president?

Johnson:  There should be a separation of church and state.  I happen to think the world looks down on Republicans for their social conservative views which include religion in government.

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