Important: Lammas Camp 2014 Ticket Sales

We’ve been asked to give notice that ticket sales for the Derbyshire Pagans Lammas Camp 2014 will close at:

22:00 (10 pm) on Sunday 27 July 2014

That’s the Sunday before the camp starts.

If you’re aiming to attend the camp this year, please make sure you’ve arranged your tickets before then - there will be no further sales afterwards and we don’t want you to miss out!

Interfaith: the beginning

Hail all you glorious readers,

Tiro and I have been doing a bit of thinking recently, it started out when we attended the Interfaith Conference on Domestic Violence a few weeks back, and has been germinating ever since.  The thought runs like this: if individuals can get together to talk about shared issues like domestic and spiritual abuse, then we surely should be able to get together and talk about our faith too.  Pagans already do this: the person sat next to you at a moot is likely not to hold even remotely close to the same beliefs as you, and yet people will sit together quite happily discussing and finding points of commonality.

So why not see if people from other faiths can be connected with to find points of commonality and shared experience?

And so to that, we came to the last Chesterfield moot to propose the idea formally.  And the members of the community there thought it was a good idea.  And so we’ve set ourselves a task:  to make connections with people of faith within our local area.  And this we will do, Tiro and I, and report back to you, our lovely community, about what we find and the connections we make.

To start you thinking, let’s start with the big one.  The folks that some of you may regard with suspicion, or have had a poor experience with in the past, or have felt that your spirituality has little to nothing in common with.  You know the ones I’m sure.  There are some of us that regard Christians as being completely incomprehensible in their passion for their faith and absolute assertions that a book made up of individual and sometimes contradictory texts forms the focus of a cohesive system of belief.

Keep that in mind, as you look at this site on the new movement of the Forest Church :)

Fabulous Camp Reminders (on dog poo bags, and ticket sales)

Gentle folks,

for those bringing canine companions to camp this year, we are respectfully reminded that you must have a dog ticket (so that we can ensure each dog has suitable space allocated) and that your doggy poo bags must be eco-friendly if you want to deposit them in the long drop loos.  We are reliably informed that these are marketed as biodegradable and are mostly green in colour.  We know you’re all responsible owners, but, you know, just in case you’ve got all caught up in the excitement of counting down the days, and that.  ‘Cause that can easily happen.


Which reminds us: camp ticket sales this year stop four days before the camp starts.  So the last time you’ll be able to buy a ticket is on Sunday 27th of this month.  If you’ve not got one already, and you want to go, then get to it people!  If you have bought yours already, you should have received a confirmation e-mail from Cherrill, and your details will be on her list.  There are no gate sale this year, so arriving at the gate without a ticket booked, means we shall release the hounds (with their biodegradable poo bags) Your mission should you choose to accept it, is to buy your tickets within the next 16 days.  This message will not self destruct in five seconds*…





* we accept no responsibility for those whose computers do self destruct whilst you read this message…

Waving to Mansfield

The Chesterfield Pagans would like to send a cheery g’morning to our compatriots over in Mansfield, a number of whom joined us for our Hasland moot last night.

If you happen to be of a pagan-esque persuasion and find yourself in the Mansfield/Nottinghamshire area do check their very nice website HERE.  It has details of their group, their moot location and times, and contact and links pages.

The moot, incidentally, is at the Pheasant Pub, Chesterfield Road, Mansfield NG19 7AP, on the first Tuesday of every month, from 19:00.

Tackling Domestic Violence and Abuse in Faith Communities Conference

Today your illustrious web team got let out of the back office, and were unshackled from the daily grind of making this ‘ere site, to go and attend a day conference run by Kahrmel Wellness on Tackling Domestic Violence and Abuse in Faith Communities in Derby.  ‘Twas a goodly day with many things to think about; you might have already seen the couple of tweets we sent out whilst there.

Being as it’s an important subject, we thought we’d give you a bit of a rundown on the best bits, as it were.  The conference was free to attend, and least importantly, we got a lunch in the middle.  Before and after that, the speakers were a mix of professionals and faith leaders (such as rabbis and imams) talking about domestic abuse and the additional facets of spiritual abuse, migrant domestic violence experiences and immigration, child sexual abuse in faith communities, behavioural patterns of perpetrators, and female genital mutilation (FGM; which unfortunately included photographs, just before lunch…)

It would be really easy for us to say that cases of domestic abuse don’t happen within the pagan community.  It would be easy to say that we’re all wonderful people who respect each other’s choices and don’t try to control others.  It would be easy to say that it doesn’t happen here.  It only happens to other people.  Somewhere else.  All the paedophiles are Catholic priests, which get reported in the Daily Mail.  All the abusers who use people’s faith and core beliefs against them are in other faiths, and not ours.

It does happen here, though.  It’s a statistical certainty.

In a community the size of ours across the county, it’s most likely happening somewhere.  To someone.  Possibly someone you know.  And being perpetrated by someone else you know.  It could even be you.

Abuse doesn’t just include physical and sexual violence, though that can be and often is part of it.  It can also consist of emotional and psychological factors, financial and economic elements and incorporate forms of spiritual abuse. Continue reading

Capitalising Pagans: Oberon’s Tipping Point

An article on The Wild Hunt asks:

‘Was Paganism Left Out of the New AP Stylebook Religion Chapter?’

Writer Heather Greene refers to the new edition of the Associated Press style guide, The AP Stylebook. This is the book that instructs Associated Press journalists in presentation, to ensure an organisational consistency in their output. Most organisations with a written output will have some sort of style guidance document: it’ll outline matters of spelling, punctuation, grammar, and so on – for example, does the company approve of split infinitives? Does it use American or British English spelling? Should dialogue be presented in “double quotes” or ‘single quotes’?

And Heather asks:

‘What were the changes and additions? And, more importantly, how will they affect mainstream news reports on stories involving Pagans and Heathens? Will “Pagan” and “Paganism” finally be capitalized?’

She relates the story of one Oberon Zell who, in 2013, having ‘reached the tipping point’, started a campaign group called The Coalition to Capitalize Pagan (the group’s American – hence the ‘z’.  See?  Style guides are important). Oberon wrote a letter to the editors complaining that paganism as a religion deserves the same respect as other religions and should be capitalised, as they are. He collected sixty-one signatures for his letter, including Raymond Buckland, Vivianne Crowley and Starhawk. An accompanying petition on ‘garnered over 450 signatures’. (Just to put that in context, the petition to put Jane Austen on British banknotes collected 36,161 signatures. A petition to nominate Malala Yousafzai for the Nobel Peace Prize collected a quarter of a million.)

Heather quotes Oberon:

‘For the past 45 years I have been giving interviews on Paganism to newspaper journalists, always emphasizing that “Pagan” and “Paganism” are the proper names for our religion, and should thus be capitalized in that context.’

The trouble is, ‘Pagan’ and ‘Paganism’ aren’t the proper names for our religion, because paganism isn’t a religion. As one of the commenters beneath the Wild Hunt article points out, ‘paganism’ is a religious classification – a category of belief, not a religion in its own right. Comparable terms would be, for example, ‘monotheism’, ‘pantheism’ or ‘atheism’. In response, another commenter suggests ‘Abramism’, which is a religious classification and includes the religions descended from Abraham (aka Abram), such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam. But the stylistic inconsistency here is that the words Abramic, Abramist and Abramism are based on a proper noun – the name of a person, Abraham – and thus carry a capital letter anyway.

The truth is that this is something of a complex area. The difference between ‘religion’ and ‘religious classification’ can be subtle. Christianity, for example, is accepted as a single religion even while members of its various denominations insult, assault, and occasionally kill each other over doctrinal differences (does the bread and wine represent the body and blood of Christ, or does it become the body and blood of Christ?). Roman Catholicism, a denomination of Christianity incorporating a single doctrinal tradition, is capitalised, as is Protestantism, which is a sub-classification of traditions including Anglicanism, which is a sub-classification of traditions including the Society of Friends and the Methodists. Yet – and this is very important – the colossal majority of Christians, be they Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, evangelical, or whatever else, live in relative peace with each other and recognise and celebrate their shared values and identity.

Forcing a comparison, as the Wild Hunt article compels us to do, where does the word ‘paganism’ sit in our version of that tree that, in Christian terms, has its root in ‘monotheism’ and branches out to Methodism?

Paganism can be (but is rarely) monotheistic: one God. It can be polytheistic: many gods. It can be pantheistic – that all is deity and deity is all; or it can be non-theistic: without gods. Paganism can be henotheistic, meaning that many gods are recognised but only one is worshipped. It can even be specific variants on this sort of terminology: duotheistic for those who worship the Goddess and the God; or tritheistic for those who recognise only the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone.

Yet while pagans can be included in all these brackets, these brackets do not in themselves denote paganism. Buddhists and Taoists may similarly believe in God, or gods, or they may be non-theistic and consider divinity to be something more conceptual – neither faith would label itself pagan. That said, some branches of Christianity would declare them such, because in that usage, ‘pagan’ means, essentially, ‘non-Christian’.  Even we have difficulty working out precisely what we mean when we say ‘pagan’, and generally seem to adopt the position that ‘you know it when you see it’.

It makes sense that some pagans would wish to assert their ownership of the word used to describe their several religions. They want to establish a difference between ‘Pagan’, which means… well, whatever it is that they believe; and ‘pagan’, which is so readily used to mean ‘someone who believes in something I don’t’. But the trouble is that ‘pagan’ means so many different things to so many different people, even within the pagan community, that it seems premature to be insisting of others that they treat us as one, single, unified faith. A Wiccan might freely identify themselves as a pagan and be happy to be referred to as such. But ask an Asatruar what paganism means to them and they’ll likely explain that actually they’re not pagans or Pagans – they’re Heathens. Yet to an outsider, the difference might be difficult to grasp. Assume Druidry is the same religion as Wicca and you’ll likewise be put straight soon enough. So on what basis, with all this said, does Oberon say, ‘“Pagan” and “Paganism” are the proper names for our religion’?

For myself, I would say that I’m pagan, but I’m not Pagan. I don’t follow a religion called Paganism.  Though, if you ask me what my actual religion is, I’d find it difficult to answer you just now. So maybe I have a flawed viewpoint. What do you think? Would you have signed the petition? Have I missed an important point and misunderstood the issue completely? Put me right in the comments.

PS: Note from the Wild Hunt article:

On June 24 at 2:30pm, AP religion writer Rachel Zoll, who assisted Stylebook editors in creating the new AP Stylebook chapter, will be hosting a Twitter chat to discuss the changes to the guide, the inclusions and exclusions, and about religion journalism in general. Go to Twitter and follow the #APStyleChat hashtag to hear what she has to say.

Might be interesting.