Building bridges between Dianic and Trans communities at PSG

Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) played host to a press conference on Saturday to detail the progress made in discussions surrounding issues of gender rituals, women’s mystery traditions, and the transgender community.  As happened at other recent Pagan events, controversy was sparked by a women’s ritual limited to women who will, have, or had experienced menstruation, thereby excluding transgendered women.  Discussions involving Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, Dianic High Priestess and women’s Solstice ritual leader Ruth Barrett, and festival presenter and transgendered activist Melissa Murry took place before and during Pagan Spirit Gathering.  While the three women said they do not speak for all in their community they took part in what they termed respectful dialogue to search for solutions for next year’s PSG.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Wednesday night at PSG, a Dianic ritual for “women who bleed, will bleed, or have bled our sacred bloods” was held at the same time as the men’s Solstice ritual, which was open to all who self-identified as male.   These events are generally considered the main gender based rituals at PSG.  A second women’s ritual, held on Friday night, was open to any who self-identify as female.  At the Saturday press conference Rev. Fox said PSG is experimenting with ways that allow diverse groups to hold rituals with exclusionary criteria while still ensuring other rituals are more universal in nature.  She went on to say PSG added a workshop and ritual on Transgendered Paganism, presented by Melissa Murry, and a workshop on the Dianic Tradition, presented by Ruth Barrett, to help foster productive conversation about these hot button topics.

Continue reading

Pagans find warm welcome at ‘Gateways to the Air Force’

When potential Military Members join the United States Air Force they usually enter through one of two Gateways To The Air Force.  Future officers attend college at Colorado Springs Air Force Academy and enlisted trainees go through Basic Military Training (BMT) at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas.  Both places not only educate and train service members in warfare techniques they also help assimilate individuals into the Air Force culture.  In the past, that culture has not always been kind to airmen of minority faiths like Paganism, but what is it like now?  PNC-Minnesota spoke with Air Force officials, airmen, and civilian Pagan ministers involved at both gateways. On Tuesday we’ll take a look at the Air Force Academy.  Today, on Veterans Day, we’ll head to basic training at Lackland.

“We each walk our own path to the divine.  Be it in a God/dess faith or not.  Our airmen coming out of Lackland have been armed in so many ways with their military training.  More importantly, they should know that the Air Force has gone to great lengths to ensure their spirit was nurtured while in basic training,” says Rev. Tamie Rieth of Sacred Well Congregation.  She should know.  She’s been the Wicca Distinctive Faith Group Leader (DFGL) at Lackland for just over 6 years.  Rev. Rieth is one of 5 instructors who lead the weekly Wiccan services for BMT trainees.

Approximately 150 to 300 trainees attend the two hour Wiccan services held in the Receiving Center each Sunday.  Rev. Rieth and the other instructors spend the first hour answering any questions the trainees may have and the second hour is spent in meditation and chanting.

Continue reading

Pagan Warrior Radio launches with Veterans Day Celebration

Pagan Warrior Radio is a new internet radio show serving Pagan veterans and those on active duty in the United States Military, plus their family, friends, and supporters.

Pagan Warrior Radio debuts with a special Veterans Day show on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 8 pm CST on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/witchschool/2011/11/12/pagans-tonight–veterans-day-special.

The first part of the show will be a celebration of Military Pagans and their service. Several Pagan leaders and clergy who do support work with Pagan veterans and troops will be among the special guests on this special Veterans Day Celebration.

During the second part of the show, listeners are invited to call in and share their Veterans Day experiences and tributes to Pagan Warriors, living and dead. In addition, listeners can participate throughout the show through the chat room.

Beginning on November 15, Pagan Warrior Radio will move to its regular weekly time slot on Tuesdays from 9-10 pm CST.

This new weekly internet radio show will be hosted by co-founders Pamela Kelly of Texas and Selena Fox of Wisconsin.

Pamela grew up in a military family and is presently serving as the facilitator (DFGL/Distinctive Faith Group Leader) of the Pagan Circle at Sheppard Air Force Base. Selena, who worked for a short time in a civilian capacity for the office of the US Army Chief of Staff at the Pentagon, has been active in the quest for equal rights for Pagan troops and veterans and their families for more than thirty years. She is senior minister of Circle Sanctuary and director of Circle Sanctuary’s military ministries.

Pagan Warrior Radio is being sponsored and produced by Circle Sanctuary, in partnership with the Pagans Tonight Online Radio network. Circle Sanctuary, one of America’s oldest and largest Wiccan churches, sponsors Pagan Circles at US military installations and on ships in the USA and overseas, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, and Qatar.

“Pagans have served and are serving in each of the branches of the US Armed Forces. We are creating Pagan Warrior Radio as an additional way to support Pagan veterans and troops and their loved ones, and to be a forum for networking, education, and dialogue. Shows will be a mix of news, information, music, reflections, ideas, and call-in discussion,” says Selena.

Pamela adds: “Pagan Warrior Radio is for Pagans of many paths – Wiccans, Druids, Heathens, Unitarian Universalist Pagans, Pantheists, and others. Upcoming shows will include topics such as the Future of Pagan Military Chaplaincy, forming Pagan Circles at military installations, making portable altars, and more!”

For more information about Pagan Warrior Radio, contact Pamela Kelly: 940.642.8736 ; paganwarriorradio@gmail.com

More about Pagans Tonight: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/witchschool

More about Circle Sanctuary’s military ministries:
http://www.circlesanctuary.org/ministries/military
608.924.2216 ; circle@circlesanctuary.org

Editor’s note:  The above article was sent to PNC-Minnesota by Circle Sanctuary.

Green Burial at Circle Sanctuary

Spring is the time to celebrate approaching intimacy, and what is more intimate than sharing a loved one’s passing?  The first  ‘green burial’ took place at the cemetery at Circle Sanctuary in Mount Horeb, WI. this past weekend. Selena Fox presided over the ceremony. Many Pagans claim to want a green burial, but what is it like?  I talked with Robert Paxton, a Circle Sanctuary minister, who participated in funeral, as part of a community weekend at Circle Sanctuary.

Describe what the funeral experience was like?

It was very much different from any funeral I had attended. The person who had died was a long-term member of the Madison folk music and dancing scene. The funeral was a genuinely beautiful and touching event. Family and friends, about a dozen, helped with every element from carrying the casket to the gravesite. They sang song and read poetry. They spoke as they were individually moved to about the life of the person who had passed. Typically, the funeral director said, they would lower the casket into the grave, there would be just a few words and the family would step away and head down the hill. Community members were there to help fill in the grave. It didn’t go like that. We placed the casket in the grave, and the family looked over at the pile of dirt and the half-dozen shovels. They picked them up and got to work. The grave was nearly filled when they tired and the community members took over. They were very engaged in the whole process. Once the mound had risen, they took flowers from the earlier memorial service and placed them lovingly on the grave. One of the funeral party, in one of those ‘ah-ha’, deep truth moments, took a night crawler from one of the last shovelfuls of dirt.  He laid it on top of the mound and said, “Here is the first one, get to work!” It was a very loving experience. It was done very clear-eyed, we are committing these remains back to the earth. We will honor her with this last loving and personal act. At the same time they were completely realistic and open about the nature of what had happened. It was the most truthful funeral I had ever experienced.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

Well Known Pagans Join in Japan Relief Effort

Several well known Pagans have joined with Peter Dybing in his effort to raise $30,000 to assist victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Selena Fox, Starhawk, Patrick McCullum, T. Thorn Coyle, Anna Rowe, M Macha Nightmare, Star Foster, Jason Pitzl-Waters, Morgana, Ivo Dominguez Jr, Holli S Emore, and Katrina Messenger have all made statements in support of this charity initiative.

Dybing has set up a fundraising page to gather donations from Pagans to send to Doctors Without Borders. This organization has teams on the ground in Japan and is setting up medical treatment centers.  Dybing chose Doctors Without Borders after seeing the great work they did in Haiti to assist earthquake survivors there.  ” 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.”

Not only is giving to a charity such as Doctors Without Borders in line with Pagan ethics, it’s a way for Pagans to donate as Pagans and be recognized as such.  If you would like to make a donation, please click this link.

As of press time, just over $14,000 has been raised in the 72 hours since the effort started.  There have been 212 donations with an average donation of just over $55.00. Donations have come primarily from individuals with about 5% coming from organizations.  Peter Dybing says he would like to “encourage people who may not have a lot of money to participate by giving smaller donations of $1.00 – $10.00” (Disclosure:  I have donated to the Japan Relief Effort and as Chair of International Pagan Coming Out Day I have publicized the effort on our facebook feed)

Below is a Press Release by Peter Dybing along with statements of support from Starhawk, Patrick McCullum, T. Thorn Coyle, Anna Rowe, M Macha Nightmare, Star Foster, Jason Pitzl-Waters, Morgana, Ivo Dominguez Jr, Holli S Emore, and Katrina Messenger

Continue reading