In our Watery Wednesday post today, we cover community news for Pagans & their allies including: a discrimination claim filed by a (Pagan) Auburn University professor for wrongful termination due to religion; the Air Force no longer requires "so help me God" in enlistment oaths; a UK paper profiles a local Witch; a great article on Canadian Pagans; and the Wild Hunt Pagan news site launches its 2014 Fall fundraising campaign.
Dr. Katharyn Privett-Duren was an award-winning English professor at Auburn University -- until she was terminated suddenly and inexplicably. Now she's filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission because she believes she was fired for being Pagan. The Wild Hunt has the story.
Tara Rice is a brand-new Pagan artist from Toronto, Ontario. She contacted me via my website to ask me to listen to her new single. I was enchanted! I immediately invited her to join our Canadian Pagan music anthology project (now set for this November) and asked if she'd be willing to do an interview. She's a friendly and enthusiastic but professional young woman and I was impressed with her thoughtful answers. You can find more information on her or her music at her website: www.tararice.com.
Kerr Cuhulain is an influential Canadian Pagan author. The first openly-Pagan cop in North America, Kerr’s work with the Vancouver Police Department, and his regular column at Witchvox, “Witch Hunts,” along with his book, “The Law Enforcement’s Guide to Wicca,” probably did more to help eliminate the systematic persecution of Pagans from the Satanic Panic than any other source. Recently retired from his involvement with the law enforcement to the Sunshine Coast, Kerr has retreated into a quiet life of writing and contemplation. I caught up with Kerr when discussing Vancouver Pagan Pride Day:
Question: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! Tell us a little about yourself. Who is the man behind the story?
I read a blog called "The Honest Courtesan" written by a retired call girl named Maggie McNeil, that discusses sex, sex workers and our attitudes about it. I don't always agree with everything she says, but she wrote an article recently that I've been ruminating on. The long and the short of it is this:
For many years, prostitution has been decriminalized in Canada; but everything around it has been illegal, from the keeping of a place of business to "living off the avails" of prostitution (so if, for example, a hooker hired a driver/bodyguard to protect her, he could go to jail.) On September 28, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that, at least in the province of Ontario, these laws were against our Charter of Rights and Freedoms (our equivalent of the Constitution) and the government was given a few months in which to try to appeal or to draft a new law.
Twenty years ago, there was no Pagan community to speak of in the Okanagan Valley. My sister in spirit Rowean met a girl named Unruhe, and they started talking about forming a Yahoogroup for Pagans in the Okanagan. Rowean had come from Prince George, where a couple who had been trained by the Wiccan Church of Canada in Ontario had opened a shop and formed a community years ago; and Unruhe had moved up from the Coast, where there was a very large and established Pagan community; and they missed it. I was a solitary from the time I was 14 years old and the idea of connecting with other Pagans appealed to me. I knew a few others from the Society for Creative Anachronism and so I encouraged Rowean to call Unruhe up. We met in a coffee shop - I think a Tim Horton's, but don't quote me on that - and discussed the idea. Unruhe and her friend Perchta formed the Yahoogroup, I was the third person on it and Rowean was the fourth. We decided to meet for Sabbats and the first ritual was at my place, led by a Celtic Witch named Havoc.
Over time, the group split over the typical ideological differences that split Pagan communities, compounded by the fact that most of us went through the stuff that I would now, as a Witch, refer to as "Second Degree ego issues," all at the same time. There were hard feelings and bad blood. Some people bowed out of the community for a long time. Some spread rumours about other groups. Some bowed out entirely and disappeared.
Just a quick note to tell my loyal readers that the Canadian music anthology alluded to in my article on the Sun Wheel Pagan Festival is a go! It will be a fundraising effort for the Canadian National Pagan Conference and all artists have agreed to contribute their works entirely free of royalties; all profits support the Conference! Musicians who have agreed to participate so far include: The Dragon Ritual Drummers, The Ancient Gods, Raven's Call, Dano Hammer, Vanessa Cardui, Brendan Myers, Jamie Field (formerly of Parnassus before it was Chalice and Blade,) Tamarra James and me. We're still waiting to hear back from a few other artists and more information will be made available as it unfolds.
On the July 1st long weekend, I celebrated Canada Day by driving 10 hours to Drayton Valley, Alberta, to pitch a tent in a mosquito-infested field. I left late, of course; I never seem to get out on time. I didn't want to be late because even though the Sun Wheel Pagan Arts Festival didn't officially begin until the following day, on the Friday evening there was a firewalk scheduled and I had never done such a thing. I came with my husband Erin and my young boyfriend Chad McLeary, also scheduled to perform on the stage. I was quite honoured to be part of such a prestigious line-up; the roster included Vanessa Cardui, current bardic champion of the Kingdom of AnTir, an up-and-coming artist who also does medieval music like me; my friends from the Edmonton Pagan Choir and Chalice and Blade; the legendary Sharon Knight; and the indomitable Heather Dale.
But I shouldn't have worried. Pagan Standard Time being what it is, things were running about the two hours late that I had left the house by, so I had just enough time to set up camp before hurrying off to the ritual.