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Weekly Update: 8/28/2000

Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: August 28th. 2000
Times Viewed: 4,988

Out of the Closet... Trials and Tribulations

Greetings everyone!

This has been a meandering sort of week here at TWV and so this will be a meandering sort of weekly update. The situation surrounding the Alabama pagan group featured on last week's front page prompted various and quite interesting responses as well as some very promising developments. As a direct result of the 'heads up' work of several local Alabama residents-and not a few national pagan organization representatives -TWV is proud to report that we shipped out 6 copies of Kerr Cuhulain's, "The Law Enforcement Guide To Wicca" (available through Horned Owl Publishing) to three Alabama city/town police departments, one to a police department in Kentucky and several more copies to various pagan activists and lawyers.

. The law agencies expressed a real desire to learn more about pagan beliefs as a way to further improve community relationships through education. What a coincidence- that just happens to be OUR mission, too! These books and the other included educational materials were shipped out free of charge as a service of TWV. This service is only made possible because of the generous donations and gifts of our Witches' Voice sponsors, friends and supporters. So, our gratitude goes out to all of you who continue to support the mission statement of TWV. This week-as every week-YOU made a real difference!

In case you were curious, TWV sent the following 'cover letter' to the Pell City Police Dept. with the information packets/books. Feel free to adapt this form to your own use-as we did with the other packets - in addressing a similar situation:

(Date, name and address of recipient go here.)

Dear Captain Pendinton,

We are writing on behalf of a coalition of groups representing the tens of thousands of pagans who reside throughout the United States. The Witches' Voice (TWV), the Alternative Religions Education Network (AREN) and Witches Against Religious Discrimination, Inc. (WARD) would like to thank you for your assistance and professional response in relation to the disturbing and hostile situation which confronts the Covenant of the Sacred Circle.

Darla Kaye Wynne, WARD Assistant National Director, passed along your request for further information and reference materials on pagan beliefs. We are greatly encouraged to know that you are interested in further educating your staff on this most important area of civil and religious rights. The adherents of Witchcraft, Wicca and paganism are still widely misunderstood. The religious beliefs of pagans are often misrepresented. Sometimes pagans are even openly discriminated against. For these reasons, organizations such as the ones listed on the following page maintain web sites, send out educational materials and work closely with local and federal law enforcement agencies in an effort to eliminate the sort of situation that recently occurred in your city.

Court judges at both state and federal levels have clearly ruled that Witchcraft/Wicca is a legally recognized religion for First and Fourteenth Amendment protection. While there may be some that disagree with our religious practices, we are law-abiding members of a diverse society and are guaranteed the right to freedom of religion and equal protection under the law. These rights have already been established in the legal system of the United States.

Unfortunately, as you yourself have seen, acts of discrimination can and do occur against Witches/Wiccans and pagans. The prompt response of your law agents to the reports of the protest demonstration against the Covenant of the Sacred Circle is not only greatly appreciated, we perceive it to be just the sort of essential community involvement needed if we are ever to stem the tide of religious intolerance and thereby prevent possible acts of violence or vandalism against those who are in the minority. On our part, we will gladly work with you to provide additional educational resources for your training programs.

There are two copies of "The Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca" enclosed in this package along with other informational documents of interest. Please keep one copy for your personal reference library and pass the other along to your officer in charge of training and public information. Please feel free to call or contact us at any time if you have further questions or for more information.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter,

Rev. Wren Walker
The Witches' Voice Inc.

(Signatures, carbon copy listing and title of enclosures go here)


More New Stuff
As Security and Safety Issues are fresh on everyone's mind this week, this seems to be as good a time as any to announce that TWV is formulating a special chapter devoted to these important topics. Along with the more obvious security and safety concerns that challenge Pagans, this section also will be an on-going project set up along the lines of the Festival Pages and thereafter feature updates, essays from various folks involved in law enforcement/protection and other related items of interest. Now we here at TWV are very public and not particularly paranoid Witches, but it would be foolish to ignore the impact that some specifically targeted or venomous anti-Pagan rhetoric may have on certain people or the fact that a general atmosphere of intolerance may exist in certain locales. We'd rather have a section up here that 'Goddess forbid you should ever have to use' than to ignore the possibility that perhaps some day, in some place, a pagan might find him/herself in trouble and not know what to do about it. A brief outline on the security aspect of this chapter can be found here. Suggestions for other topics relating to the Pagan Security and Safety Chapters-like for all sections of TWV-are both welcome and appreciated.

Fritz has been pounding the keyboard like a man on a mission these past few weeks. The sooner-than-previously-expected release of Witches of the World - Version 5.0 is very close to becoming a reality. Imagine having all of your state or province link information on one page! Local personal contacts sorted by town/city, covens, meetings, local shops, real regional web sites, events taking place in your area 'this week'- PLUS your local state government information-all in one easy to access location. No more hunting by category-although a search engine will be available- because the information that YOU want will now all be there just the way that YOU want it!

Pagan Perspectives
WitchVox Question of the Week!

Last week. your Pagan Perspectives brought out many fine points of view on what the separation of church and state might mean and more specifically, what role-if any-does religion play in the schoolhouse setting. Most Pagans remarked somewhere in their opinions that religion in the school is an all-or-nothing deal. If one student of a particular religion can pray over the loudspeaker to the captive audience of his/her peers then a student of any religion must be offered the same choice. Ditto with the posting of religious tenets and mottoes and double-ditto for the wearing of religious symbols or jewelry. Some Pagans would opt for an absolute secular school system, leaving ALL religious instruction to the family and places of worship, but the majority felt that the current guidelines as offered under the Equal Access Act do a good job of striking the proper balance between public and personal accommodations.

This week's topic is one that we have seen debated before, and in light of the recent protest against the Alabama Pagan group, it has come up again. Are you "In or Out of the Broomcloset"? Some Pagans feel that it might be better if everyone Pagan was just open about their beliefs. Some, on the other hand, are sick of 'in your face' Pagans or groups. Others feel that in some areas of the country being "in" is almost a necessity. But we've also heard some background grumbling that expresses rather resentfully that those who remain hidden are simply reaping the benefits earned-while experiencing none of the backlash-by those who are openly fighting for pagan rights. The apprehension of what the impact of openly declaring a pagan belief might be on a family or work relationship is as much a concern in the decision-making process as what the reaction of a neighborhood or community might be in other cases. So, are YOU in or out? How far out is 'too far' out? What are the pitfalls or the rewards? Why should everyone be out, in, or just make his or her own decision about the broomcloset occupancy rate.

This week's Pagan Perspective question is...

The Broomcloset-In or Out?... What's YOUR View?

Click to Post Your Opinion or to view the Responses



More Pagan News Sources
are always popping up on the Net and given our busy schedules, we can't always find the time to check out each and every one. But here are two that we never miss: TPAO and The Seeker Journal. We like both of these because- along with keeping up on pagan community news and events- we like to read well written and thoughtful editorial comments.

Texas Pagan Awareness Online (TPAO) is pretty well known for its pithy editorial stance. Under the direction of Kit O'Connor, the pagan community could depend on getting their weekly dose of cutting edge commentary on many wide-ranging subjects. We are very pleased to see that new TPAO editor, David Pollard, is continuing in the same the fine tradition. While some of the pages-like the essay submission topics- still some need updating and the message boards could use some of your comments-TPAO looks as though it is coming back to life and will regain its prominence as a voice for and about the pagan community. We look forward to future updates on this fine platform. (If any of you are wondering what Kit is up to these days, we hear that he will be starting up a news site of his own in the near future. We will, of course, let you know when that happens.)

The Seeker Journal held an auction this past month to help raise some money for us here at TWV. We thank them very much for this, of course,-and the promoters even got a good Seeker story out of the deal!- but it isn't the reason that we like the Seeker Journal. John M. Morris consistently begins each Seeker edition with an editorial section that is so good that you'll have to search out some of the 'big boy' media outlets to find any that compare. (If you have never read a copy and would like to get a sampling of what is inside, you can now browse some of the back issues on-line. Unfortunately, these are neither the latest nor the best of John's work.) The current issue has one humdinger -or is that just plain zinger?- of a plea for some pagan historical accuracy-Please!. Not leaving us dangling over that particular abyss for very long though, John goes on to point out that "if our history is full of fanciful myths, as it is, they do nothing to discredit the path we are following. If we are justified at all, it will be by the power of the magick we perform, the empowerment we find in ritual, the peace and renewal we bring to the Earth." Good point, I'd say. And we have to admit that although we share a home with two kitties -who constantly remind us that not only were they true Goddesses in all previous lifetimes, they remain so in this one- the article on Anubis this month was a great tribute to another deity of Old Egypt. (Wren and Anubis (Anpu) go WAY back. If you see her in person sometime, ask her about it.)

Wren's Bird Call of The Week

is a chitter of discontent as the air fills with the sound of feathers rustling. Lots and lots of feathers. And lots and lots of rustling. It's getting pretty darn loud in here. What's going on? Oh, it's just those pesky Pagans being forced to leave the room... and the football stadium... and anywhere else that they are 'free to exit' if they just don't happen to want to bow their heads in prayer and their knees in homage to a god not their own. And while they're out in the parking lot congratulating each other on taking a stand against religious tyranny, the leaders of the Christian Prayer Pack are probably stealing their good seats on the 50 yard line.

Since the Court ruling in Sante Fe case made it clear that planned, student led prayers at school events were a violation of the separation of church and state, the outraged radical Christians in the United States have been up in arms. They are planning pro-prayer rallies complete with cute little mottoes like. "We Still Pray And We Don't Care About You, Heathen!" Since this proved to be just a tad too long for the average bumper sticker-except for the fenders on Daddy's Lincoln or Mommy's Navigator-they have simply shortened it to, "We Still Pray'. So do a lot of other religious people, what's your point?

Their point is that somewhere along the tow-the-Religious Right-agenda-line, some people in America got the stupendously brilliant idea to steal, borrow or otherwise abscond with all the good words for all of the good things and apply for a trademark on them. (I suspect Ralph Reed, myself.) Now all of the good words- such as prayer and morality and ethical and, well, the word good itself-are considered to be the exclusive property of their little religious coup. The words that they didn't really like all THAT much-such as tolerance, open-mindedness, liberal (gasp!)- they have turned into negative religious slurs.(Or maybe they are just easier to say through cynically curled lips or something.)

Now, I happen to think that mean people suck. So do rude people. It is just plain mean and incredibly rude to not only ignore the feelings of your neighbors in the stands, but to actually be PROUD of the fact that you are doing it goes beyond any religious tenets that most Americans can be comfortable with. To actually PLAN to hurt and offend someone else of another faith can be summed up in a word, too. A very ugly word. I wonder if these folks will be as eager to lay claim to that one.



Witches, Wiccans, Pagans
Circles, Events, Festivals
Witch Shops in your Town
Thousands of Pagan Links
Covens and Groups
Witches of the World Pages...
Submissions up Dramatically!


Can we talk? Nothing thrills us more than getting email thanking us for having a powerful networking section. People are getting together on the physical plane forming groups, sharing magick, doing rituals, educating their town and some are actually falling in love.

This past month we have seen an explosion (in the range of plus 40%) of submissions to our networking pages.

With a current listing of over 23,000 Witches, Wiccans and Pagans, keeping this list de-duped, sorted and clean is quite the chore. Recent systems have automated much of this... This critical 1,000 page 6-part section of WitchVox (Adults, Teens, Covens/Groups, Events, Shops and Pagan Links) continues to network thousands on a daily basis. Many of the newspapers we talked to this past Samhain were "blown away" at the sheer numbers of Witches, Wiccans and Pagans who DO choose to come out and be listed.

WOTW also includes (as of this writing) 1,675 Covens and Groups, 574 CURRENT Festivals and Events, 4,441 annotated links to Pagan Web sites and 642 Pagan shops of the World.


In closing.... people can have differences of opinion, differences in religion, and differences in how they may choose to express ourselves in both word and deed. Debate can be a good thing, conversations can clarify points of view and free expression is a fundamental right. How we choose to debate, converse and express our views can either make things better or make them worse. Let's choose both our actions and our words wisely.

As always, our heartfelt thanks go out to the many of you that believe in, contribute to and continue to support this mission in your own heartfelt ways...You ARE the Witches' Voice.

In Your Service,

Wren Walker
The Witches' Voice
Year 2000 - August 28th.






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