Celebrating the Seasons
Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:18

Pagan War Dead

DSCF7523List compiled by Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary
Current as of November 29, 2011 - Send additions to: circle@circlesanctuary.org
Gravesite for each has a pentacle marker from the US Department of Veterans Affairs

AFGHANISTAN: Operation Enduring Freedom

Sgt. Patrick Dana Stewart of Fernley, Nevada.
Nevada Army National Guard. Killed in action, died September 25, 2005, age 34.
Cremains scattered September 25, 2006, Nevada Highlands, Nevada.
Some cremains buried May 28, 2007, Circle Cemetery, near Barneveld, Wisconsin.


IRAQ: Operation Iraqi Freedom

Spc. James W. Price of Cleveland, Tennessee.
US Army. Killed in action, died September 18, 2004, age 22.
Buried in Sunset Memorial Gardens, Cleveland, Tennessee.

Pfc. Stephen P. Snowberger, III of Lopez, Pennsylvania.
US Army. Killed in action, died May 11, 2006, age 18.
Buried in Brown Family Cemetery, Lexington, North Carolina.

Sgt. Jason Alan Schumann of Hawley, Minnesota.
US Army. Killed in action, died May 19, 2007, age 23.
Buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

CIMG9083

 

Spc. Charles Thomas Heinlein, Jr. of Hemlock, Michigan.
US Army. Killed in action, died July 31, 2007, age 23.
Buried in Section 60, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

Pfc. Juctin R. P. McDaniel of Andover, New Hampshire.
US Army. Died December 17, 2007, age 19.
Buried in New Hampshire State Cemetery, New Hampshire.

Sgt. Michael Bramer of Fayetteville, North Carolina.
US Army (2001-2006). Severe head injuries in combat in October, 2003.
Died in California of injuries on January 17, 2007, age 23.
Buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Bath, Maine.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:16

Order of the Pentacle Patch

O-P VeteranPatch-smallThe Order of the Pentacle Patch was designed by Kia, a Order of the Pentacle member and long-time Circle community member. The illustration of the patch debuted at the Veterans Day Circle held in the Stone Circle at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve on November 11, 2007.

Patches are available to veteran members of the Order of the Pentacle for a donation to Operation Circle Care. To receive a patch, send an email with your name, address, and patch request to: circle@circlesanctuary.org and make a donation of at least $10 for each patch, with proceeds going to the Operation Circle Care project:

The Order of the Pentacle Patch can be worn in conjunction with the Black Watch Tartan which was made available for general use several years ago. Click here for illustrations (4.7MB .pdf) showing some ways to wear the Order of the Pentacle Patch.

 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:16

Order of the Pentacle

O-P VeteranPatch-smallThe Order of the Pentacle is a veterans association of Wiccans and other Pagans who have served and/or are serving in the US Armed Forces, and who have the Pentacle as their emblem of belief.

The Order of the Pentacle was formed on Veterans Day, November 11, 2006 to support equal rights for Wiccan/Pagan troops, veterans, and their families. The Order of the Pentacle actively supported the Veteran Pentacle Quest, which, after a decade long struggle, culminated in success on April 23, 2007 when the US Department of Veterans Affairs finally put the Pentacle on its list of emblems of belief that can be included on grave markers the VA issues to honor deceased veterans.

The Order of the Pentacle News is a free, occasional e-bulletin that is sent to members with updates about Wiccan/Pagan veteran rights efforts and related matters. Membership in the Order of the Pentacle is free.

Click here for more information on the Order of the Pentacle patch.

To join, please fill out all fields in the form below. Information will be kept confidential and for Circle Sanctuary's use only, unless you specify otherwise.

 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:16

Circle Military Ministries in the Media

Circle Sanctuary Military Ministries include public information services and work with media.

Sampling of articles:

 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:14

Circle Military Ministries

DSCF9934Circle Sanctuary provides a variety of services free of charge to Wiccan and other Pagan veterans and those presently serving in the United States military. Donations of money and supplies to support these services are welcome and are tax deductible in the USA.

 

Community

Troops Support

Veterans Support

Ceremonies

Recognition

Remembrance

  • Veterans Ridge: honoring deceased Pagan veterans at Circle Sanctuary's national Pagan cemetery
  • Pagan War Dead: remembering those killed in the line of battle

Religious Freedom

  • Veteran Pentacle Quest: story of the successful quest to get the Pentacle included on VA-issued gravestones for deceased Wiccan and Pagan veterans
  • Media Reports: public information work in the media

Circle Sanctuary Military Ministries Team

Rev. Tiffany Andes (Denora) of Kansas
Rev. Charlotte Bear of California
Alison Cline of Colorado
Rev. David Ewing of Virginia
Rev. Jeanet Ewing of Virginia
Rev. Selena Fox of Wisconsin
James Jufer of New York
Rev. Paul Larson (Chiron) of Illinois
Rev. Debby Morris (Tristan) of Maryland
Rev. Dave Sassman of Indiana
Judith Quittner Seizys of Illinois 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:14

Final Thoughts

Just a few parting thoughts. Less than 5% of all Australians have ever spoken with an Aborigine. The adult literacy rate in Afghanistan is around 29%, and in the same country, some 1.6% of all births lead to maternal deaths. Greece, the mother of a number of pre-Christian faiths, is now an environment that is somewhat problematical for Pagans; the Orthodox Church fears us. Australia as a nation tends to be quite tolerant of religions, and by and large is not at all observant. While a majority is Christian, the weekly attendance at services is about 7%. Proselytizing tends to be much less common than in the States, as it is viewed as rather "odd" to talk about one's religion.

Melbourne is an eminently livable big city. It has a population of some 4 million people, but we've never felt unsafe walking about late at night, and I have noticed that the Foreign Currency Exchange places don't have bulletproof glass in the windows. There's tighter security at the gas station in my town of 7,000 people than for a financial place in a big city.

There are big issues in a lot of places, and none of the answers are simple. The early work of interfaith work is happening, but that's the easy part. That's where you get together with people of other faiths, and find the commonality, and feel good that we're all people in communities who are concerned for others, take care of people, and try to become better people.

That's the easy part. The hard part is where we get together to discuss the parts where we are different, and will not ever agree. Transcendant, revealed religions will never change to become immanent, panentheist and occult, or vice versa. We still need to talk and respect the differences.

That's the future work. Good luck, everyone.

- Dave

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:13

Hello, Dalai

Sorry about the bad joke there, I couldn't resist this as a headline for the closing day of the Parliament. Of course, one has to be of a certain age for that to make sense.

This was the closing day of the Parliament, which is shorter than the other ones. We were at a morning session giving us a centering time to celebrate and share sacred land sanctuary experiences among us. The Parliament Crystal from Circle Sanctuary was part of the altar for this celebration. Following this, Sylvia sat in on a session of Aboriginal Elders, and how women can help heal the land, while I sat in on a report from the first ever Indigenous Assembly, which was held as part of the Parliament. This was an opportunity for indigenous elders from Australia and the Americas, and draft a statement of shared concerns. The statement is still in draft form, and there is a consensus to include the indigenous peoples of Asia and Africa as well. I had an opportunity to chat with a priest of Japan's indigenous Ainu community, and express that our Pagan community, with its European indigenous roots, has common ground with them.

There was a session on the pre-Christian Indigenous traditions, in which both Andras Corban-Arthen of the Earth Spirit community, and Joseph Trinkunas of the Lithuanian Romuva tradition had opportunities to speak about both of their paths. According to Trinkunas, the original Romuva religion was the dominant one in Lithuania, and was the official one up through the 14th century. King Gediminas decreed Lithuania to be Religiously Tolerant, according to a decree in 1323, in which was stated "Let everyone worship their own gods in Lithuania". Christian Missionaries, along with military backing, managed to make Lithuania a Christian nation, though supposedly in name only. The country folk would observe all their celebrations, and then go in to the church once a week, and say a prayer or two to keep the Catholic Priest happy.

The contemporary Romuva movement started in 1967, was suppressed and persecuted by the Soviets in 1971, and then after the fall of the Soviet Union, was officially registered as a religion in 1992. He showed pictures of contemporary celebrations of Rasa, the Summer Solstice, complete with parades out to the woods, and festivals centered about bonfires.

In addition to the work in restoring Romuva as a religion, the Lithuanians have been instrumental in organizing the World Congress of Ethnic Religions, which was formed in Vilnius in 1998. It is now consisting of 20 movements from all European countries.

Andras Corban-Arthen spoke about the traditional religion which he was trained in, rooted in the Gaelic speaking parts of Scotland. He expressed the concerns that the traditional keepers of the old faith are primarily concerned with the survival of the traditions, and are not interested in academic recognition. He stressed that it is a way of life, with a supporting culture that reinforced the spiritual and religious context. It is difficult for a modern urban Pagan to have the same level of connection with a culture, thus modern Paganism tends to be a religion only, disconnected from the contemporary culture.

That ended up being the last of the sessions that we attended. We had a lunch, followed by the closing Plenary session. There was keen interest in the Plenary, due to the fact that the Dalai Lama was the keynote speaker. Security was very high, and there was screening with metal detectors at all entrances to the Convention Center. There were closing music performances and talks, a handoff of power in the Board of Trustees to the new chairman, and the official kick-off for the new Parliament Social Network site, PeaceNext.org. This is intended to provide connection during the five years between the Parliaments. The Dalai Lama spoke for the need for all religions to get together, for all religions to have freedom to observe, and for non-believers to have freedom as well. We are all called to the path that we are on, we cannot force everyone onto the same path.

The plenary closed with a parade of musical performers out to a pedestrian footbridge over the Yarra river, with all the rest of us attendees following. This was to allow taking group photos of the Parliament. We all stuck around, taking photos, saying our goodbyes, and exchanging hugs and handshakes and promises to meet at the next Parliament. Sylvia was setting up her camera to frame up a group photo of a group of Sikhs, and was quite surprised to see me in the group. I have pictures of Sylvia with the Buddhist Dancing Lions, and she has pictures of me with some Scottish Sikhs.

Our last meeting with Parliament attendees was with a Pagan group, both Australian and US, going out to dinner. We stayed until we got kicked out of the restaurant, and left with the impression that this even truly ignited a fire under the Australian Pagan community.

- Dave

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:13

Coming Down to the Home Stretch

The rain left, the skies cleared, and it was a wonderful cool evening after the Melbourne plenary session. The Melbourne plenary was a combination of a concert, and an honoring of the ongoing interfaith work going on in the city of Melbourne. Again, the music was interesting. I've not ever heard the Toccata and Fugue in D minor on dual didjeridoos and a classical guitar before, nor have I heard "Amazing Grace" performed (rather masterfully, I must add) on a marimba. After the plenary, there was a dedication of a Peace Pole, which seemed to a number of us like a fine Pagan ritual. I'm not sure if it was all the flags of the world, but it was a large number of them, and all of us had opportunities to circle around while waving the flag of our choice. I had Ecuador handed to me. I spotted the Swedish flag, and called out "Heja, Sverige!", and surprisingly, the holder of the flag responded in kind. Anyway, we all chanted "May there be peace on Earth", as well as calling out wishes for peace in each country on each continent in turn.

The Parliament is showing signs of winding down. The catalog of sessions for tomorrow fits on two pages, where a day normally requires four. Extra Program books, attendee satchels, and Parliament Volunteer t-shirts are for sale at the registration desk. I'm not noticing people leaving, though. It seems that everyone is sticking around to see the Dalai Lama as the keynote speaker at the closing plenary, which is at 2:30 p.m.

However, there is still a full morning of sessions for us. Sylvia broke the news that there is a morning observance at 8:00 that she is keen on attending, so we'll do the same rush tomorrow that we did this morning.

One thing was missing, compared to Pagan gatherings that I attend. There seems to be a significant shortage of drums here, and no drumming circles or drum jams. Even at the Pagan Community Night, there were only a half dozen drums in a room with near to 100 Pagans. My hands don't know what to do. Next Parliament, there is going to have to be a drum circle, whether in the foyer of the main meeting area, or in an outside area. It would have been "interesting" to bring a drum to Australia. Not only would your average djembe be a real treat to pack, but the Customs folks get real twitchy about natural products, for fear of harboring some pests that might cause problems. They would definitely not like a wooden drum with a rawhide skin head to it. Note for the future: pack a lightweight fiberglass or carbon fiber drum, with one of those Remo synthetic heads for foreign travel.

The exhibition hall here is quite an interesting place. I had a Japanese Meditation group perform a relaxation ceremony on me, and I picked up some travel brochures at the Travel Iran booth. There are two indigenous Australian booths, a massive Sikh display, Scientology, Australian Government (talking up their community relations work, including interfaith communications), a group calling themselves the Urantia book, Unitarians, Hindus, Buddhists, Brahma Kumaris, and so on. Just walking through the exhibit hall gives one a brief education on World Religions. Yes, there is a Pagan booth. The Earth Spirit community has one, and the cool part is that they will occasionally perform there; they went to the effort of hauling their harp all the way from Massachusetts. True dedication.

We're now at the point of talking about what all we're going to do when we get home, and what we want to see happen at the next Parliament. Of course, the next Parliament is five years away. If you think the 51 week "supply run" at PSG is a long stretch, try adding another 208 weeks to the wait. The process of selecting the next site is ongoing, and the host city will likely not be named for another year. All I've heard is that there are currently 14 cities vying for the next Parliament.

Time to end this note and get some sleep. Morning will come way, way too soon.

- Dave

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:12

Tuesday Afternoon at the Parliament

This was a time to cool down and relax - the day started with light rain and 59 degrees. The morning tram was packed with wet commuters and umbrellas. It is a bit scary walking around a busy city like this, with traffic on the left hand side. I'm forever looking the wrong way before stepping off the curb, or crossing the tram tracks. What I figure will happen is that I'll finally get used to this, and have a safe time here, only to get run over when I return by failing to re-adapt to right hand traffic.

Another bit of trivia, I experienced my first Vegimite sandwich. I will be quite okay if I don't experience another.

This morning started with the Earth Spirit musical group, MotherTongue, leading us in a musical celebration. We packed the room, and, as Pagans, moved all the chairs to form a proper amoeba shaped circle. Dierdre led us in a number of rounds, and of course, we were celebrating Spring and the onset of the Summer Solstice. I'll be in for one very rude awakening in a few days.

This was a very energizing session, which was good - early, rain, hectic commute, no coffee - not a good formula for me.

Following this was one entitled "Kanyini". This was the showing of a film of the same name, narrated by Uncle Bob Randall, the Aboriginal Traditional Owner of Uluru. The film takes its name from the Principle of Living in his native language. This consisted of the four aspects that one has to connect with, in order to be whole. He stated it as "My belief system, my spiritual practice, my land, and my family". The film pointed out how the Colonization process of Australia led to a systematic detachment of all four of these aspects.

Uncle Bob then led the discussion after the film. He invited all of us to come see the Aboriginal side of Uluru when we go there - not the sunset side with all the fancy tourist hotels, but the other side where his village is. There are continuing issues in Aboriginal life, and the unfortunated part of it is that policies are being determined by people who don't come out to the community.

The film is available on a DVD at www.kanyini.com which I'll have to go order. There were copies for sale, but they were PAL format, for Region 4, which means they won't play on a North American DVD player (needs NTSC format, region 1).

One thing I learned was that Aboriginal issues were handled in the state of New South Wales by the state Parks system - because they considered Aboriginals to be part of the flora and fauna of Australia.

His suggestion for assistance is to email the Prime Minister of Australia to thank him for the concept of apologizing to the Aboriginals, but that further action is needed, educational reforms are needed, and more self-determination is needed. His second suggestion was to have everyone email Qantas airlines to have them refer to Uluru by it's original name, not by the name Ayer's Rock, which was given by the Colonizers.

Following this, we went to the "Understanding Vodun: A West African Spirituality", run by Robert Houndohome Hounon of Benin, who is the supreme spiritual leader for the council of the Vodun Hwendo tradition. This is one of those traditions that has a great deal of misinformation, fear, and misunderstanding surrounding it. It is closely related to what is referred to as Voodoo in Louisiana, as well as to related traditions in the Caribbean islands. He and his council are working to dispel the fears and misconceptions, and have started publishing manuals about it. Up to now, it has been only an oral tradition. So far, the publications are available only in French. The name Vodun derives from the root words referring to peace and tranquillity, and nature and life. The Ancestors are a key part of worship, as is setting up a circle for practice, and connecting to the elements of fire, air, earth, and water. It is officially recognized as a religion in Benin.

Following the formal program, Angie Buchanan, of the Parliament Board of Directors, gifted RobertDSCN7746-small with a shaker that River Higginbotham had arranged to bring to Parliament, and energized at a number of events. This was to symbolize the building of bridges between faiths that revere the land and the ancestors. Robert responded by ritually calling forth the ancestors (we all joined in a chant with him) to bless, and to gift Angie with a beaded necklace that symbolized connection to, and protection of, the Vodun deities.

Now act surprised - Drake was there with Angie's camera, and just at the moment the necklace was given to her, the camera chose to die. Hmmm - oh well, at least there were others of us there with unaffected cameras.

The skies are clearing, it is looking like a nice afternoon here, and it is time to go to another session. I'll post more if the traffic and the trams don't run me over.

- Dave

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:12

Australian Pagans Speak

One of yesterday's most interesting sessions was the forum entitled "Australian Pagans Speak". This had a panel of Aussie Pagans, speaking about their work and their paths. They have been a very active group, having come to speed within the past ten years. I found out that until December, 2000, it was illegal to be a Pagan in the state of Queensland. Of course, it is STILL illegal to be a Pagan in Melbourne. It is, however, not a law that has been enforced in recent memory. It is, however, still on the books.

The first speaker, Glenys Livingston, said she considered herself a student of universal poetry. She used the term "Pagaian Cosmology" - a Pagan and Gaian viewpoint. She views herself as having a Southern Hemisphere viewpoint, a Northern Hemisphere person transplanted, with Indigenous connections.

Gede, a young man, identified himself as a Sencretic, but not Eclectic. He referred to his tradition as the Wildcraft tradition of Witchcraft, blending Irish/Celtic and Balinese Hindu threads.

Fabienne Morgana, a long time Solitary, and now recent Interfaith worker in the Pagan world, said she started as a solitary of necessity - living on a station (ranch) of over 500 square miles. Primary School for her was conducted over two-way radio, and she didn't enter a school until she was 12. She believes firmly in the need for Pagans to be involved thoroughly in the surrounding community, and to that end, she is a practicing Psychologist and a Justice of the Peace.

Linda Ward also does extensive work in Interfaith work. She has been a solitary for 40 years, and became active in Queensland for the last 12. She wanted it made clear that no one individual speaks on behalf of a whole tradition.

The overall consensus of the forum was that very large steps have been taken in a short period of time. I'm quite convinced that this Parliament will greatly energize their activity, and this won't be the last we've heard from them.

- Dave