Chesterfield Interfaith Forum

By Kate (Tiro)

Some while ago Suzanne and I raised the subject of interfaith initiatives in the area, and said that we’d be interested in cultivating contacts with representatives from other faith groups locally.

It seems others have been thinking along similar lines. Last night we attended a meeting of a new Chesterfield Interfaith Forum, kindly hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, on Sheffield Road.

The initial assembly saw a good showing from several local communities, including a number of Christian denominations, two representatives from the mosque and Muslim Welfare Association on Barker Lane, as well as a Humanist officiant representing secular communities.

Beginning with a tour of the host Church, the group’s business on this first occasion was to agree on the desirability of communication and cooperation between the various faith and secular communities in the area. This, it was agreed, is particularly important in what seem likely to prove challenging times ahead, for our country and for the world, in terms of human relationships.

We agreed, in short, that our baseline view is that we are all human* first, and that our main goal should be to look out for each other, whatever our specific religious or secular views.

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More Stonehenge landscape revealed

Good folks, the Stonehenge Landscape projects preliminary findings have now been released, showing the surrounding landscape covered in shrines, longbarrows and other structures.  Do you agree with Parker-Pearsons theory of Stonehenge being a focal point for a landscape of burials for the Beaker People? Or Lockyears theory of a temple to the sun?

Not that kind of Beaker...

Not that kind of Beaker…

You can find out more on the recent research HERE

What lies beneath: More evidence at Stonehenge

Like Jaws, just in case you thought it was safe to go back in the archaeological waters, there comes news of a new survey at the site and surrounds.  There have been several more buried features discovered with the help of an extensive geophysical surveying project, which we here at your webmasters end, hope will be fully excavated with due professionalism soon 🙂  If you’d like to read the Smithsonian article on the project, it’s HERE.


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 🙂

Derbyshire Lammas Camp Workshops

Hullo good people.

Just to let you all know that we now have a page where you can go view all the proposed exciting stuff that will be going on at Lammas camp this year.  If you want to peruse, you can find it HERE.

Likewise if you’d like to run a workshop, demonstration, discussion group or do a  performance get in touch with Gwen (or us and we can pass it on) .  You know how by now ;p

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.

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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.