Event: The Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival

If you’re anywhere near Leeds on Saturday 10 May, and if you’re veggievore, vegan or generally friendly towards suchlike, you may be interested in the Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival, which is to be held between 10:00-18:00 on that day at the Queens Hotel in Leeds.

Billed as the ‘first major vegan festival ever to be held in Yorkshire’, the event will consist of stalls, workshops and presentations – including cooking workshops – and apparently there will be free food samples (always a selling point for me, but I’m desperately shallow).

The event’s being held in support of and with various charities working in animal protection and against cruelty, including International Aid for the Protection and Welfare of Animals and Animal Aid.

Tickets are £2; entry is free for under-16s.

Full information is available on the Festival site HERE; you can also find them on FACEBOOK and on TWITTER.

[Necessary disclaimer: Chesterfield Pagans is not affiliated with organisers or participants or sponsors of this event, and we present details here purely for the benefit of readers who may be interested.  So, you know, that.]

Military Pagans Redux

How odd.

I realise I come to this a little late, but on the twenty-eighth day of March, in the year 2014, the Metro newspaper published on its website a news story.

Not unusual in itself, I realise. This is what news companies do. It makes them healthy and brings them many nice, shiny moneys.

This article, though, struck me as a bit odd.

Headline! Pow!

“Pagans and witches serving in the British military”

Oka-ay… I’m sure there’s some news here. Maybe in the littler text underneath…?

The article reports that “A total of 770 members of the Navy, Army and RAF declared their faith as ‘other’. It [the 770] includes 120 devotees of paganism…”

And the piece goes on to describe paganism as being based on a reverence for nature and having been “famously explored in the 1973 film The Wicker Man”.

I wonder if the article writer ever actually watched The Wicker Man? While it was an excellent film (opinion piece), and remains a classic, it wasn’t exactly a documentary on modern pagan practices. I’ve been knocking around with pagans for, ooo, a meellion years at least, and never once in my experience has anyone ever stopped a ritual and gone, “You know what this really needs? A virgin police sergeant to burn. Get the Mister Punch masks out.”

Still, reading on, I see that at least sixty pagans serve in the Army, according to a Freedom of Information request, and also twenty who follow Wicca. Apparently these groups don’t overlap. But pagans, says the Metro, “would be the first to dance around a maypole on May Day or gather at Stonehenge to see the sun rise during the summer solstice.”

I’m not sure whether this means pagans in general, or Army pagans specifically.  They have guns; we’d probably let them get in first if they wanted.

Continue reading

The Observance of the Equinox

Well, the vernal equinox, and the pagan festival of Ostara or Eostre, has come and gone, and according to the media, we’re now officially in spring.

Which is nice.

Although it does raise the question of what’s been going on since Imbolc, when winter ended.

Still, it’s heartening to see that the Telegraph treated the subject reasonably. Reporting, as the papers fitfully do, on the observance of the equinox at Stonehenge by “[d]ruids, pagans and revellers”, it manages not to jeer, as Certain Papers would generally do, but simply explains the significance of the astronomical event and how it forms the root of numerous cultures’ springtime rites “including Easter, Passover and Nowruz, the Persian New Year”, as well as that of modern British pagans, druids and related communities.

Although, speaking of Certain Papers, the Daily Mail – usually an unfailing source of scorn when pagan festivals come round – has thankfully chosen to remain silent this time. Presumably it’s busy demonising other people at the moment. I’m sure normal service will be resumed by Midsummer.

Other news sources treated the equinox from different cultural angles. The Ilford Recorder reported on the activity of the Zoroastrian and Baha’i communities in Redbridge as they prepared for Nowruz, while the Guardian’s Iranian section covered some of the traditions observed in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Here in the UK, our Christian friends are preparing to celebrate Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion, which falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox. The Jewish faith celebrates Passover at around this time, and numerous other rituals and observances in cultures around the world serve to assure us that, despite how winter might have led us to doubt it, the wheel is still turning, and life will return to the world.  Lengthening days and warmer weather (although not straight away, if the thickness of frost on my car this morning is anything to go by) mean we’re heading determinedly into the Light Half of the year. The long, cold nights retreat – at least for a while.

And what does all this mean? It means it’ll soon be time for holidays, festivals, events and camps and all manner of other awesomeness. Enjoy yourselves. And don’t forget: we want pictures (within reason).

PS: One interesting idea the Telegraph came up with in its article this time is the notion that “The goddess [Eostre or Ostara] is symbolised by eggs, representing new life, and rabbits or hares, for fertility. The name is also the root of the term given to the female hormone oestrogen.”[link]

It’s a lovely thought, but it’s not true: oestrogen literally means something that produces (-gen, as in ‘generate’) oestrus – the name given to the recurring fertility and, erm… how can we put it?  The enthusiasm for mating, let’s say, in female mammals. And the word oestrus itself is Latin, and means ‘passion’. It does, strangely enough, share a root with ‘irate’ and ‘ire’ which we use to mean a ‘passion’ of anger. Eostre, on the other hand, is thought to come from the Proto-Indo-European root ‘aus-‘, which means ‘shining’, and may originally have referred to a goddess of dawn.

New Location for Moots: The Telmere Lodge, Hasland

You may have noticed that we’ve been, in mooty terms at least, a bit of a nomadic group of late.

Unfortunately unable to continue meeting at our long-established haunt of the New Inn at Hasland, we had decamped (recamped?) at the Spital Hotel.

This proved not entirely suited to our needs, though, and we’ve now relocated once again.

If you’re sighing in exasperation just now, please stop with the sighing, because there is Good News!  The new new location for Chesterfield Pagans moots is:

The Telmere Lodge
Mansfield Road
Derbyshire S41 0JH

Where it is in relation to Chesterfield (town centre at top left of map):


That’s pretty much opposite the New Inn (now the Three Cottages), by the roundabout.

Here’s a pixture:

Image of Telmere Lodge

If you’ve been with us a year or three, you may recognise this as The Place We Used To Meet What Used To Be The Winsick Arms.

The first moot at our new pad will be on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 at 19:30.  We’re told this first time we’ll be in the restaurant area, although it’s not expected to be too busy; and from next month, all being well, we should be in a private room downstairs.

So come along and join us: we’re told the food at the Telmere is Rather Nice, which always makes us happy.  And as they’re letting us meet there FOR FREE, we’d like to urge you to buy drinks and food aplenty while you’re there.

See you there then!

Dogs Attending Summer Camp 2014

Esteemed readers:

Many of you, I’m sure, will already be looking forward to the Summer Camp this year.  Many of you. I’m sure, love your dogs.

The connection in this context is that many of you will want to bring your canine cousins along to the camp.  There we have good news, and we have stern admonishments.

The good news is that yes, dogs are welcome at the camp – on the understanding that they’re properly controlled and kept on their best behaviour Colin.

The more serious notes are that we have a lot of dogs interested in coming along this year, and given the nature of the beast (dog), we need to ensure that each one has to have a reasonable amount of space – which means limiting the number that can be brought onto the site.  And that means tickets.

You may be aware that doggy tickets are available this year.  This is in order to manage a maximum safe cap on the number of doggish participants.  In short, you must have a dog ticket in order to bring a dog.  If you don’t have a dog ticket, then your dog can’t be permitted on the site.  This will be an absolute, and no exceptions can be made.

So please make sure you’re booked in properly to avoid disappointment for your fluffy little pal.  And your dog.

Please also be aware that there are no on-spec gate sales this year.  Gate sales can be managed with prior arrangement with Cherill, and tickets can be purchased either from Zeta Tickets (via the link top right), or at moots.  But otherwise: no gate sales.  Not for dogs, nor for people.  So make sure to book in all members of your party in the name of the awesomeness that will almost certainly be the Lammas Camp 2014.

(But tell your bow-wows to look on the bright side: cats aren’t catered for at all.)