Ancestors

Today’s post is by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen.  Deirdre has been a witch for over 30 years and is the executive director of EarthSpirit.
I spent the day today in the presence of my ancestors – beginning this morning as I raked and prepared the path through the woods to the Ancestor Shrine, lay the fire and collected the tools that I needed. Then this afternoon, as a part of EarthSpirit’s Sacred Lands series, I led a ritual of remembrance and honoring as I have for the past several years. It is a simple ritual and sometimes that is the best.
At mid-afternoon a small group of us walk in silence through the meadow, under the archway of trees and into the woods alongside the stream, which talks and sings as we pass. Dry leaves crunch underfoot but the winterberry is in full display and the moss on the wooden

Ancestor shrine in the woods

The ancestor shrine at Glenwood

board we cross over is thick and green. We travel over the hemlock-needled trail until we reach a stone fire circle. Beyond that is the shrine. This whole area is dedicated to those who have gone before us and even at other times of year you can feel their presence in the dark moss, mushrooms and rotting wood. Today the feeling is stronger still.

We have brought a decorated pole from the web ritual at Rites of Spring and some of us set to work planting it in the ground. Two people set the shell spirals from Twilight Covening in their new places and a others light the fire.The ritual is simple, as I said. We gather and open to the natural space around us with words and song and then we sit on the logs around the fire each with a stick to add when we choose to speak. As in a dumb supper without the food, each one of us in turn calls to mind and speaks of an ancestor or loved one. We make an offering to the fire in their honor, the bell rings three times, and we take white cotton cloth to tie as a cloutie on a tree near the Shrine where it will remain until it rots.One call follows another – this person’s mother, that one’s brother, a family dog, ancestors long past, an aunt, a grandmother – all join with us in the web of creation which is made of all we know. We finish with a cup of cider raised in honor of their lives, another song and time for ourselves in the woods there by the stream. Then, as we are ready, we make our own way out of the woods.

Samhain is a season more than a day. As the leaves fall and October slips by, the closeness of the spirit world is tangible and the call to enter in grows stronger. Our ancestors, whether of blood or heart, of spirit or of tradition are part of who we are. This is a good time to reach toward them and remember.

In memory: Ken Koch, 1971-2013

We mourn the passing of Ken Koch, a beloved member of our community, on August 15.

Today, we will sing your name to the winds, dear Ken, and to the waters and to the stones and to the ancestors, that they will know you when you come. We will light a fire of remembrance. We will hold you in our hearts. Blessed passage.

Ken Koch

Ken Koch

On music and roots

By Deirdre Pulgram Arthen

This past weekend I attended the Old Songs Festival just outside of Albany, NY, as I have done for all but two of the last dozen years. It is a place that feeds my soul. I get to dance and sing, listen to and play music —  and relax, with no performance expectations from anyone. The musicians who come there are, for the most part, people who feel the roots of their music: they study their traditions in great depth and absorb them into their bodies, then exude them in their playing and singing. Their motivation is love — not fame or fortune, but love of music, love of the old ways themselves, love of the people who brought the traditions into being and of those people who carried them on, love of harmony, love of community, love of our species, love of the earth.  Many of the people who perform, organize, and attend have deep and long-held commitments to social justice and to the environment. Many have been political activists for decades. Very few preach. Instead we bask the joy of making music together as we walk through the fairgrounds and feel the satisfaction found in sharing the work of making the world a better place.

Gordon Bok and Archie Fisher performing

Gordon Bok and Archie Fisher performing at Old Songs 2013 (photo by Andras Corban Arthen)

While there were many things that I loved that weekend, there was a song that Gordon Bok performed that especially touched me.  It was something that he had written years ago as a result of listening to the marine radio channel in Maine, which he said he does for entertainment sometimes. It was essentially a conversation between two lobster fishermen. One was stuck and, over the course of the song, the other one came to help. That was it, really.  But something in the way that Gordon captured all of us in the fairly common conversation of two men on the water was just magic to me. There they were, fishermen on the ocean – that vast and moving body of water that cares nothing for people, but still feeds us and gives us life. And here we all are, humans in a universe that is not centered on our needs and desires, but which we must live in and depend on while we are incarnate beings.  We can forget sometimes that we are also floating – maybe near the rocks, maybe out of our depth – and that the simple act of accepting an offer of help allows both us and our neighbors to experience ourselves more fully as the interconnected beings that we are. The song held the magic of knowing, and Gordon shared that knowing with us all.

I find my own path reflected in that community of music makers. I, too, value the roots of my traditions and those who have brought them forward, and I find in the shared songs and dances true expressions of the joy of being human, fully intertwined with all that is creation.

Rev. Richard Ravish

by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen
We are saddened by the news that our long-time friend Richard Ravish died in Salem Massachusetts on Saturday morning 9/15 at the age of 59. It is a true loss to many of us and we send our love and condolences to his wife Gypsy, his daughter Asherah and his stepdaughter Kitoto.
 
Richard and his wife Gypsy (Amy), who Andras and I handfasted many, many years ago, have been leaders in the Salem Wiccan and occult communities for 30 years. Richard was a Wiccan high priest – the Magus of the Temple of Nine Wells ATC, a public congregation in Salem and high priest of the coven of Akhelarre.  He was a Freemason, Thelmic and Enochian magician, a Rosicrucian and a Hermetic initiate. He lived fully out of his spiritual practice and gave generously of himself to many as teacher, priest and chaplain.   
 
Richard was a designer of magical tools, was proprietor of the store, Nu Aeon, creator of the gallery Cosmic Connection – both in Salem, and together he and Gypsy were the owners of White Light Pentacles/Sacred Spirit Products Inc.
 
May his spirit fly free. May his family and loved ones find peace, in time.
Blessings to all.
 
You can find a full obituary and memorial details here at Salem News.

Thank you all for helping

by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen

It has been another busy year for EarthSpirit, as we have consolidated and expanded our important work in all branches of activity — thanks, in large part, to many dedicated community members who have made contributions of their time, expertise, goods and funds to support the work of the organization. We are very grateful; we could not do it all without you.

In over thirty years of existence, EarthSpirit has been able to grow into one of the largest pagan organizations in the US, supporting its members with programs and actively engaging in the world on many levels to create change. We’ve done a lot, and we look forward to doing more.

One of the original intentions of EarthSpirit was to build spiritual community through connections. Over the years this has always meant local and regional celebrations and gatherings, publications, performances and classes. By offering programs and leading rituals for other organizations, we build relationships regionally and around the country. Increasingly, EarthSpirit has reached out to its international members to assist in developing community in Europe and Central and South America. We hope to further develop and deepen these efforts in the coming year.

Our web site, www.earthspirit.com, continues to be an entry-point for newcomers as well as a resource for long-time members. Our recent addition of EarthSpirit Voices (earthspiritcommunity.blogspot.com) has brought sharing and discussion of spiritual practice into our presence on the Web. We look forward to expanding and improving both of these important communication vehicles in the near future.

In the early 1980s we realized that pagans, given the opportunity, could make meaningful contributions to the interfaith dialogues that were developing both nationally and globally, and that we could also benefit greatly from participation in such forums. Since that time, EarthSpirit has played a major role in helping paganism attain a much greater level of credibility and respect within the interreligious movement. The work that EarthSpirit director, Andras Corban Arthen, has been doing through his service on the board of trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) has been growing. Last November, Andras was sent by the CPWR to Guadalajara, Mexico, as part of the site committee which evaluated that city’s bid to host the 2014 Parliament. While there, he also had the opportunity to meet with many local pagans as well as several indigenous leaders.

In February, Andras went to Chicago to help choose the host city for the 2014 Parliament, which will be Brussels, Belgium. In early May, he was sent back to Guadalajara along with CPWR executive director Dirk Ficca to explore ways to maintain a working relationship with the local group that organized that city’s bid, including a collaboration to develop an interreligious initiative throughout Latin America. As a result of that trip, Andras was asked to serve as the CPWR’s liaison with the Guadalajara group. In addition, Andras was elected again to the CPWR’s executive committee, and was asked to oversee the Parliament’s Ambassadors program, which coordinates several hundred Parliament supporters from all over the world.

The ‘Indians’ of Old Europe, the presentation that Andras has been offering in recent years which places the surviving pagan traditions in the context of Indigenous European spirituality, has been receiving a great deal of favorable attention throughout the interfaith movement, with lots of people telling him how it’s helped them to see paganism in a different light and to take it much more seriously. As a result, he has been receiving many invitations to speak at interfaith and academic events in the U.S. and abroad, including two next year in India and Denmark. Unfortunately, those invitations rarely cover all of the expenses involved, so the only way he is able to attend is through the support and generosity of our community.

EarthSpirit has been committed to young people since the outset. Without engaging and including youth, any community becomes unsustainable. Our mentoring programs, Rites of Passage ceremonies and ongoing activities such as EarthSpirit PeaceJam help those growing up within our community learn from the experience of elders while finding their own voices and means of expression. In the coming year we look forward to continuing and expanding our support for these programs.

In 2011, thanks to our generous donors, we have replaced our sluggish and undependable office computers with new Dells that actually work reliably. What a difference it makes for our office volunteers! We have also begun work to completely revamp our database system using expert volunteers to develop and create a configuration that will greatly improve our ability to stay connected with members across the US and around the world.

As you might imagine, all of this work, in so many areas, requires a significant amount of money to sustain it. Despite the struggling economy over the past few years, our community has been very generous. We have consistently received contributions large and small — both in the mail and at the auction at Rites of Spring. We appreciate every single one. Please consider increasing your donation to EarthSpirit this year to help us move quickly toward our goals.

We count on you to be a part of the web that holds us together on so many levels. Thank you all for helping EarthSpirit to continue moving forward!

Deirdre Pulgram Arthen, Executive Director

Boston Gay Pride Interfaith Service

by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen

This weekend I was invited to participate in the Boston Gay Pride Interfaith Service. It took place at the Old South Church in Copley Square right before the parade on Saturday morning. It was wonderful to be a part of what turned out to be an inspiring service on many levels and I was heartily welcomed into the group of clergy which included Buddhist, Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim and Yoruba representation — in addition to the Pagan. I look forward to having the opportunity soon to connect more closely with the organizing committee for this service and, perhaps, to finding some EarthSpirit members who would like to coordinate an EarthSpirit presence at Pride events around the state next year.

My part of the service was the “Call to Worship” which happens at the beginning of a Christian service as a transition into the focused spiritual part of the service after the welcoming remarks and announcements. The theme of the entire Pride week celebration was “no more and no less.” Here is the text of my remarks:
Good morning,
We come together to begin this very festive day with a moment of reflection on, and celebration of, our personal connections with spirit, We do this here in a community of others for whom that spiritual connection is also an important part of life. Look around you and see the diversity of who we are here – We come from many backgrounds, from many spiritual traditions, we have different temperaments, different lifestyles and different perspectives. But at the root of it all, what we share in common is our humanity and, through that, our own special place in the web of creation.

In that web of life are the trees, the stars, the rocks, the rivers, the birds, the grasses on the plains, the thundering waves of the ocean, the insects in your garden, the deer and the coyotes in the forest, the mist rising at dawn. What wonder we can know when we open and experience the majesty of each of these! And what wonder can we know when we see that we are, each of us, no more and no less than any of these beautiful and powerful aspects of creation. That we are the earth itself.

Many people are inclined, I think, to choose to see themselves as separate from the world, to create an “us and them” divide that either values humans as the owners of a world where everything is created especially for our own use, or to denigrate our role to that of a cancer – eating away at our fragile eco-system and destroying our home.

While it is undoubtedly true that we humans have extraordinary capacities to create and to destroy, and that with that capacity comes an obligation to be conscious of our actions and take responsibility for them, as long as we keep viewing ourselves separate from the web we will not know how to keep it intact. We will not know the depth of the ways that our tugging on one strand affects the rest.

My experience has been that when I am able to let go of my assumptions, to allow myself to move away from my rational, judgmental brain and into my heart and spirit – to find that place in this sacred web where I belong, that place where I am one with the very soul of the Earth and the sky and all the beings in them, I can touch the mystery I am a part of, and find direction and peace.
I invite you to join me now in a call and response to open ourselves deeply to the sacred of which we are a part – no more, and no less than any other. My daughter, Isobel, will sing the response part with you – the words are simply “I am the Earth”

We then sang my chant “I am the Earth” together as a call and response.

(I was followed by a Muslim woman who read a scripture from the Koran and then by a Yoruba practitioner who led us all in a drum blessing.)

[Photos by Moira Ashleigh]

Coming Together for All Beings of the Earth

by Deirdre Arthen

Dear friends, Just a reminder that the deadline for registering for Rites of Spring is coming up very soon – May 15! Don’t miss the warmth of the fire and the magic of community on the mountain. You can find all you need to register at: http://www.earthspirit.com/ros/rosb.html

I also wanted to remind you that the first Sacred Land Open House at Glenwood is taking place this Sunday, May 9. These afternoon events in western Massachusetts are free, include a tour of the land, and this week there are two programs to choose from – Qi Kong with Jonathan Kapsten, and Deep Peace – a Mother’s Day peace ritual for women. You can find out more at: http://www.earthspirit.com/openhouse/index.html

On a more somber note – as we celebrate All Beings of the Earth at Rites of Spring this year, many of us are feeling a strong desire to join in an effort to send protective and peaceful energy to all the beings living in the area of the Gulf of Mexico who are so threatened by the man-made disaster occurring there. This weekend, many EarthSpirit members will be at Glenwood for one reason or another and we are planning a simple and focused working with that intention. We invite you to join us from wherever you are.

We will place a stone and a natural sponge in the center of our labyrinth. Each person who wants to participate will follow the path to the center with the clean sea-water of the Gulf in mind, quietly singing the following chant: Holy water, Healing Water, Life-bringer, Water flow, and building power of intent. (I wrote the chant, which is on MotherTongue’s Weaving the Web of Life cd, to be used to reawaken us to the sacred nature of water, since I feel that it is largely because humans do not acknowledge the sanctity of water that we abuse it and pollute it.) Once in the center, we will hold the two objects and fill them with our intention – the stone to carry our protection, and the sponge to absorb the damage that is already being done.

At the end of the weekend we will send both the stone and the sponge to EarthSpirit members in Louisiana, so that they can put them into the water and complete the working.

If you are at a distance, but would also like to participate, you can either focus your intention on the objects here at Glenwood that will be travelling south, or you can fill your own objects and put them in a natural water source near your home. All water is connected on this planet, and whether you place a stone in the stream behind your house or in the reservoir in the next town, your intention will flow to where it is needed.

We would love for you to tell us about your experience with this, right here on EarthSpirit Voices. The photo accompanying this post shows the labyrinth at Glenwood, to help make your focus easier if you’re joining us from afar.

Celebrating Spring and honoring those with whom we share this sacred Earth!
Deirdre
Arthen

The Lost World of Old Europe

by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen

Last week while I was in New York I visited this wonderful exhibition at the NYU Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. The gallery, which is very near the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the upper east side, contains two full rooms of stunning female figurines and beautifully painted pots from between 5000 and 4000 BC in Central Europe. This collection has never been in the US before and is really worth a visit. Even if you can’t get there, the web site, which has lots of information and photos, is worth visiting and the book that accompanies the exhibit is wonderful. Just wanted to pass along the recommendation!

From the exhibition website: “The Lost World of Old Europe brings to the United States for the first time more than 160 objects recovered by archaeologists from the graves, towns, and villages of Old Europe, a cycle of related cultures that achieved a precocious peak of sophistication and creativity in what is now southeastern Europe between 5000 and 4000 BC, and then mysteriously collapsed by 3500 BC. Long before Egypt or Mesopotamia rose to an equivalent level of achievement, Old Europe was among the most sophisticated places that humans inhabited. Some of its towns grew to city-like sizes. Potters developed striking designs, and the ubiquitous goddess figurines found in houses and shrines have triggered intense debates about women’s roles in Old European society. Old European copper-smiths were, in their day, the most advanced metal artisans in the world. Their intense interest in acquiring copper, gold, Aegean shells, and other rare valuables created networks of negotiation that reached surprisingly far, permitting some of their chiefs to be buried with pounds of gold and copper in funerals without parallel in the Near East or Egypt at the time. The exhibition, arranged through loan agreements with 20 museums in three countries (Romania, The Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova), brings the exuberant art, enigmatic goddess cults, and precocious metal ornaments and weapons of Old Europe to American audiences.”

For more information about the exhibit location and hours: http://www.nyu.edu/isaw/exhibitions.htm

For detailed information about the contents of the exhibit: http://www.nyu.edu/isaw/exhibitions/oldeurope/

(photo of the Thinker from the introduction to the exhibit)

Pagan Coalition Calls for Religious Freedom in California Case

The EarthSpirit Community is part of a coalition of national Pagan and Nature-centered religious organizations which has released a letter calling for religious freedom in a California court case. The case, which has attracted national attention, is being waged over whether California should hire prison chaplains from outside five “state approved” faiths: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American.

In an amicus brief, the conservative Christian group WallBuilders, Inc. called on the courts to reject the case of Rev. Patrick McCollum, a Pagan chaplain and long-time EarthSpirit friend, arguing that Paganism is a “second tier” religion and therefore not subject to the protections of the First Amendment.


Our Freedom: A National Pagan Civil Rights Organization rejects the state’s claims in general and the WallBuilders, Inc. amicus in particular. Our Freedom states that Pagan inmates have requirements and needs comparable to those of the five faiths currently being served. Our Freedom stands in the promise of our nation’s Constitution and its guarantee of religious freedom.

Included in Pagan inmates’ needs are: access to paid Pagan chaplains to facilitate regularly scheduled religious services; provision of spiritual guidance and counseling support; facilitation of Pagan rites of passage and liturgical needs; and service as intermediaries between Pagan inmates and correctional administrators and staff to educate about Pagan religious needs or requirements of Pagans.

[For further information and links, see the bottom of this post.]

The following letter was sent to the Office of the Governor of California; WallBuilders, Inc.; Clerk of Court, United States District Court, Northern District of California; and Attorney Caroline Mitchell of Jones Day, Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

To Whom It May Concern:

We, the undersigned, are a widely divergent group of American citizens. We hail from varied economic strata, educational backgrounds, ethnic groups, and cultural experiences. We are taxpaying citizens of this country, and some of us have served in uniform. Members of our religious community have died in that uniform, protecting this nation, its constitution, and all that it stands for.

All of us are deeply spiritual people with sincerely held religious beliefs that have called us to service beyond our private lives. In many cases, our courage in being public about our faith has caused us persecution, harassment, and ostracism. Yet, we persevere in our spiritual traditions and in our faith. This is the testament of our sincerity to traditions that fall outside the religious mainstream and the spiritual status quo.

We are Pagans. Paganism is a collection of diverse contemporary religions rooted in indigenous traditions or deriving inspiration therefrom, characterized by a belief in the interconnection of all life, personal autonomy, and immanent divinities. Inside our spiritual traditions themselves, there is a wealth of diversity, just as within Christianity there exist different and distinct communities such as the Roman Catholic, the Presbyterian, the Lutheran, the Methodist, the Baptist, the Mennonite, and the Greek Orthodox. Although Wicca and/or Witchcraft comprise the largest sub-segment of Paganism, other sub-sections of Paganism include Druidry, the Norse Asatru, Strega, the Church of all Worlds (CAW), and numerous other traditions including modern believers in the ancient gods of Rome, Egypt, Persia, Gaul, Great Britain (England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Cornwall) and Greece.

At this time, we turn our attention to the ongoing legal struggle occurring in California, wherein prisoners and a Wiccan chaplain are seeking equal footing in the state prison system. The Pagan Plaintiffs seek the same considerations, opportunities, liberties, and equality in the exercise of their faith during imprisonment as is already available to the Catholics, the Protestants, the Jews, the Native Americans, and the Muslims. The Catholics and the Protestants are sub-sections of Christianity. Christians, Jews, and Muslims are monotheistic religions sharing a central patriarchal god.

In one amicus brief submitted by WallBuilders, Inc., the question is asked:

”The true historic meaning of ‘religion’ excludes paganism and witchcraft, and thus, does not compel a conclusion that McCollum has state taxpayer standing … paganism and witchcraft were never intended to receive the protections of the Religion Clauses. Thus, in the present case there can be no violation of those clauses … Should this Court conclude that McCollum has taxpayer standing … this Court should at least acknowledge that its conclusion is compelled by Supreme Court precedent, not by history or the intent of the Framers.”

We Pagans respond to this on three levels. First, the intent of the Framers of the Constitution of the United States is perfectly clear on the issue of religion and government in that the only mention of a “God” appears in exactly one place in the original document, and that is in the determination of the date in which the document was signed. The preamble makes it clear that it is “We the People,” and not any one particular God, who determines both the structure of government in this country and the benefits/rights which that government will provide.

Second, even if one were to conclude that it was the intent of the Framers to be exclusive in matters of religion and not inclusive, one must look at some of the other demographic classes who were excluded from the rights and privileges by the Framers in the Constitution, such as women and Africans. “We the People” clearly referred to landed white men. The truth is that no matter the work of genius worked by these great minds, they were minds of the times in which they lived. Thirty-three percent of the signers of the federal Constitution were slave holders. Thomas Jefferson himself was the master of a plantation run by slaves and sexually frequented the black women whom he held in thrall. James Madison, who actually wrote the Bill of Rights, owned slaves. The drastic error in permitting slavery to exist beyond the founding of our government was an error to be solved only in blood through the Civil War and a subsequent amendment to the Constitution.

If we were to read the Constitution only through some sort of lens in which we claimed to know the minds of these men, then we as a people and as a government could not have progressed forward into the twenty-first century, and a significant number of today’s American citizens would still be disenfranchised. It is the genius of subsequent generations in using and interpreting the Constitution as a living document which spares us from the insular thinking of the eighteenth century.

Third, the California district court would be wise not to answer the question posed in the amicus of the WallBuilders, Inc. in the affirmative. To do so would give a legal foothold to a viewpoint which is blatantly discriminatory and which flies directly in the face of decisions regarding modern Pagans and  Witches/Wiccans: decisions made by state courts, federal courts, administrative agencies such as the EEOC and state agencies such as the Missouri Tax Commission, which must surely be one of the most conservative governmental entities in this country.

Thus, we as Pagan Americans say to the Northern District Court of the State of California: Do not be fooled by the subterfuge which WallBuilders, Inc. is  attempting, and turn aside their position by answering it in the negative.

Furthermore, we as Pagan Americans say and affirm to the Northern District Court of the State of California, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Attorney General’s Office, and the Governor of the State of California, that Pagan inmates have similar requirements and needs comparable to those of the five faiths currently being served. Included in these needs are: access to paid Pagan chaplains to facilitate regularly scheduled religious services, provide spiritual guidance and counseling support; facilitate Pagan rites of passage and liturgical needs; and to serve as intermediaries between Pagan inmates and correctional administrators and staff to educate about Pagan religious needs or requirements of Pagans. In doing so, the state of California will continue to move forward into a system which is inclusive of religious belief.

Sincerely submitted:

OUR FREEDOM: A Pagan Civil Rights Coalition
http://www.ourfreedomcoalition.org

Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF)
Rev. Skip Ellison Archdruid

Circle Sanctuary
Rev. Jerrie Hildebrand
Minister

Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans
David Pollard
President

The EarthSpirit Community
Andras Corban-Arthen
Director

Gaia’s Womb/EarthTraditions
Rev. Angie Buchanan
Executive Director

Irminsul Aettir
Susan Granquist
Gydhia

Isis Invicta Military Mission
Rev. Rona Russell
Coordinator

Lady Liberty League
Jerrie Hildebrand
Managing Director

Order of WhiteOak
Dr. Kenneth Proefrock
President

Ozark Avalon Church of Nature
Rev. Rose Wise
High Priestess/Administrator

Pagan Educational Network
David C. Sassman
Director

Pagan Pride Project, Inc.
Maureen Duffy-Boose
Assistant Membership Director/Corporate Secretary

Sacred Well Congregation
Dr. David L. Oringderff
Executive Agent, SWC IEC

GREEN EGG
Ariel Monserrat – Editor/Publisher

Individual Members:
Cairril Adaire
Rev. Drema Baker
Charlayne Elizabeth Denney
Dana D. Eilers
Rev. Kathryn Fuller
Ellen Evert Hopman
Ariel Monserrat
Tom Donohue



For further details about this case, please see:

Beliefnet article describing particulars of McCollum appeal
Americans United piece on McCollum case
Washington Post article on WallBuilders, Inc.’s amicus brief against McCollum’s appeal
PDFs of briefs in McCollum appeal

Also note:
The EarthSpirit Community has provided supplies and resources to people incarcerated in prisons across the country for more than 30 years. In Massachusetts and in many other states, direct access to prisoners is not denied to pagans and, in fact, I correspond regularly with the MA Department of Corrections, which is often looking for pagan clergy to serve its population.

If you are interested in volunteering time to help serve that population, contact me at earthspirit@earthspirit.com.

Thanks,
Deirdre Pulgram Arthen

Haiti needs relief

As we know, we are deeply connected to all beings and the fortunes or misfortunes of one affects us all.

The current disaster in Haiti is beyond comprehension – hundreds of thousands homeless, injured, orphaned or dead. An entire crowded and already destitute city destroyed. In our warm homes here, for which we are so grateful, we can all reach out now with compassion and generosity, sending practical help along with our energy and prayers to the many victims of this disaster.

I encourage everyone reading this to take just a few moments to open your hearts to the Haitian people and then to take action. Even a small contribution will join with others to make a difference.

You can do your own research, but I found a couple of easy ways to donate quickly with your cell phone:

Yele Haiti: donate $5 by texting “Yele” to 501501, which will automatically donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund (it will be charged to your cell phone bill).

American Red Cross: Send a $10 Donation by Texting ‘Haiti’ to 90999.

You can find out how to do more through some of the many agencies working to get aid to Haiti at:

  http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2007/impact/

  http://www.google.com/relief/haitiearthquake/index.html

  http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=1004

sent with love,

Deirdre Arthen