US Pagan Conference: Request for Submissions

Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with this but we do encourage learned discourse and attendance.

13th Conference on Current Pagan Studies
Visions of the Future
January 28-29, 2017
Claremont Graduate University

Since the early sixties, the handful of magical practitioners in the United States has blossomed into over a million self-identifying Contemporary Pagans involved in a wide variety of traditions. Historically, the Pagan movement, which began in small, often isolated initiatory groups, has been enriched by the Women’s Movement, forged community through the festival scene, dispersed across the internet, and is currently differentiating into a wide variety of Reconstructionist Paganisms, Traditional Witchcrafts and creative permutations.

Given this trajectory, what are our prospects going into the future? How might our Contemporary Paganisms change and grow? What do we preserve from the past, both as practice and in archival form? How will this movement foster and build interconnected and interdependent communities? How will we interface with other faith-based communities? Additionally, as we move from small, exclusive largely Witchcraft communities into mainstream culture, becoming visible and exercising our civil liberties, our membership moves from a self-sufficient self-sustaining, hands-on technology to consumerism.

Where does your praxis intersect with your vision? How, as a Pagan, how do you improve the future? What do you think is important as you contemplate the future?
We are looking for papers from all disciplines. A community needs artists, teachers, scientists, healers, historians, philosophers, educators, thinkers, activists, etc.
As usual, we are using Pagan in its most inclusive form, covering pagans, wiccans, witches and the numerous hybrids that have sprung up as well as any indigenous groups that feel akin to or want to be in conversation with Pagans.
Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words and are due by September 20, 2016. Go to our website

for advice on presenting papers. Please email abstracts attached as Word Documents to

Lascivious Lupercalia: Why Valentine’s is a Vital Pagan Holy Day for the Modern World

Lupercalia, “day of the wolf”- the Roman fertility festival celebrating the sexual frenzy of the goddess Juno!  Togas, random draws for sex partners, the occasional goatskin splatter from a priest, and oodles of intoxicants.  Oh, you didn’t know about the traditional Valentine’s Day?  Think it’s just a commercial holiday intended to sell chocolates, jewelry and dinners, and make single folks feel like drinking alone? Lupercalia is not only designed for singles, they are one of the feature attractions!

Valentine’s is one of my favourite pagan observances, inspiring modern women and men to at least consider how much the imposed cultural system has on their views of their own love relationships and sexuality. So many find the modern practices to be bloodless, dispassionate, superficial, commercial, and vaguely depressing.  I personally find it inspiring that this Holy Day is so powerful that it’s made it to the modern era relatively intact, despite the best efforts of Christian priests to defuse and replace its practices. As a sacred and religious celebration of human sexuality and passion, many of the elements and themes have been retained: valentine’s cards, red heart shapes, single people going home with partners, married women wanting children, lust, sex, fertility… It does prove how much we in the modern world, just as our ancestors did, need to acknowledge, idolize, ritualize and even worship our own most powerful drives, emotions, and relationships.

Possibly one of the reasons it was so hard to eliminate was that nearly every incarnation of the holiday specifically encouraged women’s empowerment of their own sexuality under the auspices of the Goddess and occasionally her subordinate consort. Women’s choice, agency, pleasure, fertility, and multiple partners with societal blessings, or at least sexual equality, have always featured. (And not the patriarchal co-opted version of worshipping women’s bodies and sexuality with “pics, plz” requests or that we should ‘empower’ ourselves by sleeping with everyone who asks.) A celebration of one of six classical forms of Love, eros or sexual passion and desire was usually considered “dangerous, fiery, and irrational form of love that could take hold of you and possess you” by the ancient Greeks, but the Romans often channelled strong passions into socially controlled and acceptable rituals. We seem to hunger for that, too, since it has survived in a recognizable form ever since.

The eve and night of February 14th to the next day of the 15th were the Ides of the month of Februa, sacred to Juno Februata or Juno Februa. This day also honoured the Roman gods, Lupercus and Faunus, who you may recall as the lusty Faun in current tales. It was a vital religious observance as children of the Great Wolf, symbolising the very fecundity of Rome herself, and the unpartnered participants who presented themselves were considered highly religious and praiseworthy, deserving of the blessings of the priests. ‘Course, they didn’t go home emptyhanded.  After being the focus of some mild flagellation, the single folks would be randomly assigned to each other through a lottery system.  Each pairing resulted in a sacred ‘going steady’ until the next year, where one thing was encouraged to lead to another. Married women weren’t left out, since they were also under Juno’s patronage, and at this time of year, they came to celebrate and bless their sexuality with conceptions.

On this day, Lupercalia,.. the Luperci or priests of Lupercus dressed in goatskins for a bloody ceremony. The priests of Lupercus, the wolf god, would sacrifice goats and a dog and then smear themselves with blood. These priests, made red with sacrificial blood, would run around Palatine Hill in a wild frenzy while carving a goatskin thong called a “februa.” Women would sit all around the hill, as the bloody priests would strike them with the goatskin thongs to make them fertile. The young women would then gather in the city and their names were put in boxes. These “love notes” were called “billets.” The men of Rome would draw a billet, and the woman whose name was on it became his sexual lust partner with whom he would fornicate until the next Lupercalia or February 14th.

Thus, February 14th became a day of unbridled sexual lust. The color “red” was sacred to that day because of the blood and the “heart shape” that is popular to this day. The heart-shape was not a representation of the human heart, which looks nothing like it. This shape represents the human female matrix or opening to the chamber of sacred copulation. 1

While the women presented themselves for random selection and the men chose, one shouldn’t make the modern mistake of assuming it was because the women were somehow property.  As a holiday sacred to Juno, with the priests offering the wolf blood as the Wolf Hero’s virility, it is the women’s fertility that is the focus of the ritual.  They were in fact presenting themselves to Juno to select a man for them for their personal pleasure, not a husband, and the men are volunteering to perform that service.  It was a sacred duty, as well as wild and joyous.

For His sacred virility, a Hero is usually required for the Goddess Queen.  For Februa, her divine lover was Lupercus, the “hunter of wolves”, who kept the wolves at bay from the shepherds and their flocks, and lent his blood to fertilize the Goddess and her daughters.

The Greeks called Lupercus by the name of “Pan“. The Semites called Pan “Baul,” according to the Classical Dictionaries. Baal – mentioned so often in the Bible – was merely another name for Nimrod, “the mighty hunter” (Genesis 10:9) It was a common proverb of ancient time that Nimrod was “the MIGHTY hunter before the Lord.” Nimrod was their hero – their strong man – thier VALENTINE! How plain that the original Valentine was Nimrod, the mighty hunter of wolves. Yet another of Nimrod’s names was “Sanctuc” or “Santa“, meaning Saint. It was a common title of any hero-god. No wonder that the Roman Lupercalia is called “St. Valentine’s Day”!

But why do we associate HEARTS on a day in honour of Nimrod – the Baal of the Phoenicians and Semites? The surprising answer is that the pagan Romans acquired the symbol of the heart from the Babylonians. In the Babylonian tongue the word for heart was “bal” .. The heart – bal – was merely a symbol of Nimrod – the Baal! or Lord of the Babylonians!”2

So for centuries in Rome and its dominions and even after its fall as an Empire, the festival happily went along – the Ides of Februa featured red everywhere and heart symbols abounding, with love cards or tickets, complete with the mighty hero-love whose title was Santa.  It was so well known and associated with sex and lust that when

the Gnostic Catholic Church began to get a foothold in Rome around the 3rd century A.D., they became known as Valentinians. The Catholic Valentinians retained the sexual license of the festival in what they called “angels in a nuptial chamber”, which was also called the “sacrament of copulation.” This was said to be an reenactment of the marriage of “Sophia and the Redeemer.” As the participants of the February 14th ritual began their sexual sacrament, presided over and watched by the priests known as Valentinians, the following literary was spoken: “Let the seed of light descend into thy bridal chamber, receive the bridegroom… open thine arms to embrace him. Behold, grace has descended upon thee.””3

The Orthodox Church thoroughly disapproved, of course, and as well as exterminating the Gnostics, did their darnest to suppress or ban the festival.

When Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire there was some talk in church circles of discarding this pagan free-for-all. But the Roman citizens wouldn’t hear of it! So it was agreed that the holiday would continue as it was, except for the more grossly sensual observances.  It was not until the reign of Pope Gelasius that the holiday became a “Christian” custom. ” As far back as 496, Pope Gelasius changed Lupercalia on February 15 to St. Valentine’s Day on February 14.” (p. 172 of Customs and Holidays Around the World by Lavinia Dobler). 4

The attempt to substitute or water down the more obvious components met with limited success.

As Christianity became prevalent, priests attempted to replace old heathen practices. To Christianize the ancient pagan celebration …church officials changed the name to St. Valentine’s Day. To give the celebration further meaning and eliminate pagan traditions, priests substituted the drawing of Saints names for the names of the girls. On St. Valentine’s Day the priest placed saint’s names into an urn or box. The young [men] then drew a name from the container. In the following year, the youth was supposed to emulate the life of the saint whose name he had drawn.

By the fourteenth century they reverted back to the use of girl’s names. In the sixteenth century they once again tried to have saintly valentines but it was as unsuccessful as the first attempt…

Later, in France, both sexes drew from the valentine box. A book called Travels in England, written in 1698, gives an account of the way it was done:

“On St. Valentine’s Eve an equal number of Maids and Bachelors get together, each writes their true or some feigned name upon separate billets, which they roll up and draw by way of lots, the Maids taking the Men’s billets, and the Men the Maids’; so that each of the young Men lights upon a Girl that he calls his Valentine, and each of the Girls upon a young Man which she calls hers. By this means each has two Valentines–but the Man sticks faster to the Valentine that is fallen to him than to the Valentine to whom he is fallen. Fortune having thus divided the company into so many couples, the valentines give balls and treats to their mistresses, wear their billets several days upon their bosoms or sleeves, and this little sport ofen ends in Love. This ceremony is practised differently in different Countries, and according to the freedom or severity of Madame Valentine. This is another kind of Valentine, which is the first young Man or Woman chance throws in your way in the street, or elsewhere . . .”5

So despite some of the best efforts of the new priesthood to alter the festival, the original idea of sexual licence and expression, particularly for women, never went away.  The practices still lingered in nearly all the places Rome had taken it, mostly what is now known as the “Western World”.

It only stands to reason that countries colonized by peoples from Europe brought the practice with them.  So in North America, we still see the remnants to this day.  Even hidden, suppressed, altered, and derided, we retain many of the most recognisable features of the only ancient festival left in the popular culture that celebrates human sexuality.  However, it still seems to generate fear, particularly in this age where women are reClaiming their sexuality and heritage. So the attempt to secularize and desexualize it goes on today. The commercialization, with its obvious monetary rewards, the insistence on already created couples, rather than singles finding mates, and the more disturbing marketing to children, appears to be an attempt to finally remove the more worrisome lustful elements still left.

Some will claim that the holiday has adapted itself to our modern needs, and that the encouragement of children in grade school to participate in Valentine’s Day by giving out cards is more than just adapting.  In fact, it appears to continue to be mutating every generation.  No longer is the Valentine a secret, given from a child to someone they fancy, as it was in two childhoods ago; it is now a class event, where everyone must bring one for everyone else, so as to ensure “no one gets left out’. It is bizarre, disquieting, and has always been inappropriate for children, expressed even by those completely ignorant of its history.

In a time when women are working to reClaim their sovereignty over their sexuality instead of being objectified, traditional rituals which celebrate joyous lust and sexual licence without bonded partners are needed more than ever. Safely sublimating its lustful nature into permitted ‘couple’s only’ commitment activities, or reducing it by infantalization as a classroom friendship ceremony covered in pink leaves out the most vital and powerful element of the celebration: shameless consensual adult lust.  With all the disempowering of women and inappropriate sexualizing of children, we could use a good ol’ fashioned Lupercalia to reClaim our bodies, divine passions, and sacred sense of self.

So this Valentine’s Day, consider adding something in the spirit of the ancient practices of Lupercalia to your celebrations.  Why make it just about already paired couples?  Consider getting your friends together and having some joyous grown-up fun. Toga parties, love lotteries for the singles, erotic games for the group…  (An Edmonton version.) Give yourself an opportunity to worship sexual passions in a consensual, safe environment, without the requirement of commitment or permission from anyone but yourself!  Maybe some half-naked hotties playing the priests can occasionally slap one of the crowd with a whip dipped in red food colouring… Oh, wait.  That might be just me..

My daughter’s class is supposed to bring Valentine’s cards for everyone, if they bring any at all.  Raising her as a witch, I have told her as much as I think she needs to know at 12 years old.  So she has no interest in bringing cards. As a nod to the current rituals of her class, though, we both decided to send her with enough homemade candy for everyone.  That seems to be a good compromise…

Hallow’een makes me twitch, but I love Samhain!

“Witches Tea Party”
Yes, those are our real working uniforms! An actual image of a traditional institutionalized healing coven. (The robes are red, the traditional Western colour of healing magic.) These are members of The Hospital of Holy and Undivided Trinity at Castle Rising, Norfolk, England, founded by Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, in 1610. Though ostensibly Christianized, the foundation provides for a governess and 12 sisters. (So, you know, a coven of 13, even including an HPS!) Here four of the ladies are enjoying their afternoon tea. ca. 1929
Image © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/



Samhain has always been one of my favourite High Holidays. Hallow’een, not so much…

Samhain (usually pronounced Sow-wen)[i] is a traditional recognition and honouring of our ancestors: their wisdom and knowledge, as well as their genetic contribution. With remnants even today in many Celtic dominant areas, though called by different names, as one of the Eight Solar holidays, it is seen as one of the great Feasts and Sabbats.  It is the dying of the Old Year and the beginning of the New, where the Veil between the worlds grows thin, and for three nights, those from the Other World can more easily join us. During that sacred time, not only shamans but ordinary folks can communicate with the dead. The Silent Supper [ii]is a ritual some use to show our guests, giests,[iii] ghosts our hospitality. The fairies, goblins, and other spirits from the Other World arrive at our door on the Day of the Dead, and we hand them treats to pacify them and beg for good luck in the New Year, or at least bribe them so they leave us alone. Though only children now play the roles of the spirits, sprites, the traditional adult version of Hogmany, hagmena, or Hag’s Moon, still takes place on the current New Year, where mummers[iv] dress up in costumes and harass passers-by[v] for drinks to curry the favour of the spirits.

Halloween, on the other hand, is the Christian trivialization and secularization of these nearly timeless rituals. As part of the Christian colonization, they were banned outright at first, and occasionally still are[vi], condemned as Satanic.[vii] Unfortunately, they were way too much fun, and had so much antiquity that the country folk continued with them almost unabated. Next was the reduction to mere festival. As most of the sacred aspects were removed, the Church threw their blessing behind it, even turning the third day into All Saints Day, and the most sacred Eve was transmogrified into quaint country custom.[viii]  With this maneuver, the sacred Death or ghosts or monster costumes could now be anything at all, though that part took centuries to really take off. And it was only last century that saw the degeneration to “slutty cat” costumes.

Naturally, however, witches have always been associated with this season in particular.  Specifically targeted by the Christian power elite for many reasons, witches are also known for their correspondence with the Other World. Many were known as shamans[ix], but as the ritual professionals of the pagan world, they also performed the vital function of preparation and pacification of the dead, a task the Christian clergy later appropriated.  Witches were a vital and venerated part of the ceremonies, so with the denigration of Samhain as a Day of the Dead and start of the New Year to a costume party, the demonization of witches was inevitable.  The myth of Satanic worship doesn’t hold quite as much water these days, of course, so the caricatures and stereotyping of witches has descended to the level of cartoons, but there is still that element of horror and fear associated with us, and the images are still used to frighten children and disgust adults.

I once saw a poster around the time of Samhain entitled “Questions to Ask a Witch’ in an elementary school I was visiting for a spinning function. I thought “Great! Very enlightened and multi-cultural of them.’ Until I saw the questions, like “Why are you evil?”  I’m surprised they didn’t have the baby eating bit, too.

I called the school and was told by the principal that it was a project by only one teacher and her class. I gave the usual arguments – that some of the children there might be witches or come to it later and think it’s something to hide, that it encourages Hate against an identifiable people – the standard issues for many minority groups. The poster was down the next day. The principal called me back to follow it up and told me that my complaint had made the teacher cry. Not my fault, of course, but it did point out that she knew that she had just not thought that through…  Hallow’een is chock full of such negative images.  It takes great patience to decide which ones are worth the effort to fight, and which ones to simply avoid…

My only necessary ritual for Samhain is getting dressed up in my full witch gear and give out candies to the goblins and fairies to sweeten the New Year. It’s also the only time I can wear my outfits without getting, say, stoned, in my little Bible Belt area.

I sometimes get out some pictures of my ancestors, put them on the kitchen table, and treat them like giests. That is, both ghosts and guests. I set places for them, or offer them refreshment, and have a chat with them. (Though I need a good vegan recipe for the traditional “soul cakes”[x]…) I tell them how my life is going, ask for advice, burn a few candles, like you would for a ritual or a nice dinner, and maybe spill some alcohol to drink on the ground outside. Pumpkin or turnip carving was originally sacrifice and ritual, as well as a light keeping away the malicious spirits and encouraging the benevolent ones to visit, so I like to have one out. I place potatoes and other harvest foods outside and on the table and other display areas. I also have a sickle, scythe, and other harvest objects that are integral parts of any displays. I also cook, play music, as I am also a professional Celtic musician, and do an ancient craft, like needlework or rugmaking. If you can’t get everything done on Hallow’s Eve, you still have two more days to celebrate!  Like all pagan Holy Days, Samhain is a three day event, which starts on the Eve and ends on November 2.  So I leave my altar and decor up the entire time.

Dress up and decorate as you wish, even if you don’t recognize Samhain as a sacred day, but please keep some sensitivity in mind.  Hallow’een doesn’t give anyone a free pass to racism, sexism, or depictions of other people’s sacred objects in a secular manner.  If it’s a costume party for you, then have fun!  I’ll be in my medieval garb lighting incense, playing madrigals, and of course, handing out candy to the spirits disguised as children who come to my door…




[ii] The Haunted Boonslick: Ghosts, Ghouls and Monsters of Missouri’s Heartland

By Mary Barile, pg.58

[iii] “guest (n.) Old English gæst, giest “

“Geist (German pronunciation: [ˈɡaɪst]) is a German word. Depending on context it can be translated as the English words mind, spirit, or ghost, covering the semantic field of these three English nouns. Some English translators resort to using “spirit/mind” or “spirit (mind)” to help convey the meaning of the term”


 Traditional Hagmena mummer’s begging song
To-night it is the New-year’s night, to-morrow is the day,
And we are come for our right, and for our ray,
As we used to do in old King Henry’s day.
Sing, fellows, sing, Hagman-heigh.

If you go to the bacon-flick, cut me a good bit;
Cut, cut and low, beware of your maw;
Cut, cut and round, beware of your thumb,
That me and my merry men may have some,
Sing, fellows, sing, Hagman-heigh.

If you go to the black-ark, bring me X mark;
Ten mark, ten pound, throw it down upon the ground,
That me and my merry men may have some.
Sing, fellows, sing, Hagman-heigh.


 [viii] While missionaries identified their holy days with those observed by the Celts, they branded the earlier religion’s supernatural deities as evil, and associated them with the devil. …

The effects of this policy were to diminish but not totally eradicate the beliefs in the traditional gods. Celtic belief in supernatural creatures persisted, while the church made deliberate attempts to define them as being not merely dangerous, but malicious. Followers of the old religion went into hiding and were branded as witches…. The Christian feast of All Saints was assigned to November 1st. The day honored every Christian saint, especially those that did not otherwise have a special day devoted to them. This feast day was meant to substitute for Samhain, to draw the devotion of the Celtic peoples, and, finally, to replace it forever. That did not happen, but the traditional Celtic deities diminished in status, becoming fairies or leprechauns of more recent traditions.”


Anti-Witch Bigotry: Still as popular and deadly as ever


I can’t believe I have to do this in 2013, but some of us apparently need to be reminded that Hallow’een doesn’t come with a “Get out of Bigotry Free” card.  It’s bizarre, I know, but there is a bastion of folks who still believe that a licence to dress up also implies that they have carte blanche to commit acts that at any other time of year would get them fired, or sued, or worse.

A survey of social media shows the same tired old arguments are being trotted out as justifications for intolerance.  “All in good fun”, “get a sense of humour”, “no one really gets hurt”…  The causal racism and sheer jackassery seems to be getting worse, not better. I won’t even begin to go into the sexist and LBGT stereotyping, which is also glaring, obvious, and just as hate-promoting. Instead, I will focus on the racism, narrowing in on a deconstruction of anti-witch bigotry specifically.

Activist groups have made the argument for decades that constant and consistent negative stereotypes of certain groups deeply affect those who are part of that culture, as well the society they live in. This hypothesis have been backed up by thousands of studies, and with persistence, social justice actions have largely made such depictions distasteful at the very least, and illegal where possible. It has been a great boon to progressive thinking to have serious consequences to those who insist on reducing others to stereotype images and demeaning their lifestyles, cultures, or persons, thus trampling on their human rights.

Anti-racism Hallow’een campaign poster

I remember once when I was little that my very white, very racist, mother and her escort dressed up in blackface for a Hallow’een party.  It made a big impression on me.  I naturally had met people who were differently coloured than I was, but the weird, thick, dark make-up that my mother covered her face and hands with looked nothing like the skin it was supposed to represent.  Nor did the dark, curly wig seem at all like hair.  It took me years to figure out what her costume actually was, and exactly how it was so negative, though I was uncomfortable about it at the time, even in my innocent confusion…

Just to put it in perspective…

Today, it’s generally no longer considered tasteful to go in costume with blackface.  And it’s starting to sink in that representations of traditional native garb, like headdresses and face paint, are unacceptable public attire for those who have no cultural claim to it.  Though there are still hold-outs on that one…  In Canada, negative stereotyping of an identifiable people, such as black Sambos and Uncle Toms, “How” Indian chiefs and “Jewish conspiracy” literature are considered offences under the hate crimes and human rights laws. The continuation of these negative perceptions has put lives and lifestyles at risk from the ignorant and it is for that reason that our society has felt such laws are necessary for a just culture.  (Though Harper and the neocon agenda have been making a shameful effort to dismantle much of the progress we’ve made..)

The latest trend for negative stereotype costume ideas currently is Muslim terrorists, a vicious offshoot of the anti-Arab Islamaphobia being voraciously fed by the neocon propaganda machine.  Yah!  What a progression in tolerance.  And what fun!

With all the anti-Arab lynchings that have happened in the Western world recently, plus the clearly discriminatory laws being passed, especially in the States, it is childishly easy to counter the argument that “no one gets hurt’ by these depictions. A quick Internet search yields a plethora of recent material on the very real consequences of what Islamaphobia and anti-Arab racism are doing to communities.  It is clear that perpetuation of these stereotypes are getting people killed, destroying livelihoods and families and generally making life much harder, often for those who can least afford it, such as new immigrants.

Establishing this, most reasonable people agree that these depictions of stereotypes are not in fact amusing or in good fun in any way, and are actually harmful and should be highly discouraged.  And yet, it’s still open season on witches, for many reasons.  Don’t think that counts?  Think again…  Let’s start with the charming cartoon above.

This caricature perpetuates a similar Hate that says that all Muslims are terrorists, for example, only slightly more disgusting and vile. I know some might think it funny, but it’s totally not. Baby eating jokes are never funny, and depicting it as a characteristic of an entire group puts us on the level of irredeemable Evil.  And what can you do with irredeemable Evil other than destroy it?

Where does that particular horrible idea in this illustration come from?  Good question. Blood Libel, baby killing or eating, is traditionally attributed to peoples that have been targeted for removable with extreme prejudice. Ancient Romans are said to have used it against Christians at various times, though current evidence indicates that may be Christian propaganda to justify their own martyrdom and later accusations of blood libel against other groups. Huns had this attached to them, which is why the name still invokes shudders after centuries. Jews have been the most common recipient of the Blood Libel tag in current millennium. And occasionally Gypsies. (The latest Jewish blood libel incarnation, with the same themes, is disturbingly alive and well in the Illuminate conspiracy myth cycle.) Used for generations to murder individuals from cultures accused of it, witches are only the most recent addition to this fable used to justify hatred. But if it’s only a caricature, and no one believes they look like that, then no one ever suffered or died from that myth. Right? And we’re completely evolved now anyway and aren’t at all susceptible to negative representations about a group of people, right? Right…

Using cartoonish depictions of this narrative to incite hatred and fear against a group of people is also not new. Wood cuts depicting the tale of Norwich and the Blood Libel in England for example were enormously popular, and reached what would be urban legend status nowadays. The story goes, in Norwich in the Twelfth century, a “boy named William was found dead in the woods outside of town, and a monk, Thomas of Monmouth, accused local Jews of torturing him and murdering him in mockery of the crucifixion of Jesus.” Though the case was obviously never proven, the boy was actually made the *first” martyred blood libel saint (there are more?!), legitimizing this horrific mythology in the eyes of the common people. After all, how could the child be a saint and do those miracles if he *wasn’t* sacrificed by demonic Jews?  Depictions of gleeful Hebrews bathing in the blood of children, and St. William in particular, are not difficult to find in the historic record, since so many were made.

So to prove the hate and harm in the side-splitting witch comic above, let’s try a quick mental experiment. Using the similar blood libel accusation for Jews, and our imaginations (since my photoshop is terrible), let’s use the wood cut to the left as our model. Using the same large nosed rich men, obviously supposed to be a caricature of Jews, we throw in one of their sacred objects like a menorah for extra clarification, and then use the exact same caption. (“I only use local children”.. Heh.)  Funny, right? Everyone used to know the “Jew and baby killing” stereotype, so if everyone is familiar with it, then it’s not hateful, it’s hilarity! It’s because you can use such labels as punchlines – black guys are gangstas or Asians are good at math. Or blond women are stupid. Or gays are pedophiles. Or Jews and witches eat children. I mean, we all know it’s not true, and no one really looks like that, but for some reason black men are getting shot in the streets for wearing hoodies, gays are beaten on their way home, and witches are still losing their homes, families, and livelihoods in North America. And their limbs and lives elsewhere.

In the top cartoon, the pointed black hats represent our Elders and express respect and power as the leaders of our community.  Rather like a Bishop’s mitre. And it is these women who are depicted as the baby eaters! Not just anyone, but the community leaders. Rather like drawing the Pope and his cardinals carving up a choirboy. Funny, right? Surely no disparaging statement can be meant to the Catholic community in general… I mean, it’s only their leaders.

It is in part due to the accusation of Blood libel against Jews that led to the Holocaust. There were many other factors obviously, but with such beliefs rampant in the popular culture, some persons were very clear that “those people” only got what was coming to them. I mean, what else are you going to do with baby eaters? Which is why the Gypsies were also included in the Final Solution…

*All* of these images could qualify as Hate literature according to the Criminal Code of Canada. “Hate propaganda” means “any writing, sign or visible representation that advocates or promotes genocide. The Code defines genocide as the destruction of an “identifiable group.” The Code defines an “identifiable group” as “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” A group that eats babies certainly qualifies as one that should be exterminated, and these witches are not shown as crazy offshoots, but expected to be typical of their group. Otherwise, it’s not funny!

Dress as whatever profession or imaginary creature or natural feature you like. But if you are choosing a costume that is characterizing a “culture” or “race”, you are contributing to racism.

Admittedly, representations of witches aren’t usually that bad. Often it’s just old hags with hooked noses, warts, green skin, and buckle shoes riding brooms with their bloomers showing. But those very same images are also used as monsters to frighten children, and all that underlying hate and fear is understood, or they wouldn’t be staples in Haunted Houses.

I’ve lost jobs because of this kind of myth. One neighbour suggested my house should be burned down.  Witches are losing custody of their children because judges really believe things like this about us. It is pure Hate literature, and it actually endangers my family. After hundreds of years of murder and torture of witches, women and children are still being killed all over the world for similar suspicions. But you don’t have to take my word for it, or my personal life experience as a witch that it’s still happening.  Here are just a few recent reports from around the world.

Witchcraft murder: Couple jailed for Kristy Bamu killing

More on that case, plus others: Increasingly prevalent, albeit marginalized, unreported and thus “hidden” social phenomenon of torture and murder of children believed to be witches 

Witches are not fictional creatures.  We are not werewolves or Frankenstein monsters. We do not have green skin, and only some of us have warts. We are young, old, women, men, straight, gay, and of all shapes and sizes. Witches have always been, and still are, real people. We have recognized legitimate churches with our own holidays by federal governments in North America and around the world, and these negative images can be, and often are, a threat to our quality of life and sometimes our safety.

It’s our sacred holiday of Samhain and, unless one actually is a witch, dressing up as stereotypical witches is bigotry.  Same with depictions of our sacred objects like brooms, cauldrons, wands, or other accoutrements. Even cartoonishly. When we do it, well, then it really *is* just all in good fun.  I mean, let’s face it.  Sometimes, you just have to shake your head and laugh at all this

Pagan Abbeys – A Practical Heritage for Spiritual Lay and Professional Cloistered Communities


As Dr. Vandana Shiva proudly proclaims, “I am no longer employable by the Other Side”, and good intentions don’t often buy dinner. If you are choosing to make your way in Right Lifestyle, which is often a component of your spirituality, there are really few options available to you, because the small fraction of our culture that isn’t toxic and actually set up for people like us have many times more applicants clamouring to join than could ever be supported. If you wish to learn a traditional or green profession or craft, and practice it full time with honour and dignity, perhaps as part of your spiritual practice instead of just as a hobby, you are almost totally out of luck. Or at least, until now…

I make my living following the old ways as a professional witch, largely in traditional healing, helping those most in need. It has taken me many years of dedication, research and experience to learn how to earn a living practising as a traditional witch in a modern context, even with training from mentors and learning how to teach apprentices the craft. I know many more folks who can only do it on their off hours, especially women, who often don’t even expect to get paid for their expertise. And most can’t take the time out of their lives to dedicate themselves to the more advanced learning about their craft. However, there has always been a group that can dedicate their lives to a traditional profession or the work of a particular Goddess or God and never have to worry about housing or their next meal. They were what the Old English knew as nonnes, or traditional European nuns (and monks) whose Orders the Christians took over, if they didn’t outright purge them. In many of the traditional extant Orders, you can still see remnants today of the original pagan dedications and offices that were retained after the Christian usurpations, though most are written off now as unique historical curiosities.(1) Whether in their pagan or later Christian incarnations, most of the old abbeys in Europe were matriarchal (2), and, as the original Universities, taught all manner of scholarship.(3) The title of Dean is still used by the heads of both Abbeys and Universities. Some were also warrior training camps for women and men (4) and were centres of justice. The Abbeys and nunneries trained nonnes, which also translates as nurses, as a profession and as a spiritual calling and housed cloistered communities as well as hospitals, travellers’ hospices and convalescent homes.(5) While the pagan community is reClaiming so many of its traditions, as far as I know these professional traditions and communities are rarely even discussed, much less significantly revived.

I used to have repeated arguments with others in the pagan community on this topic, though in the past few years, curiosity and hope are beginning to replace the sneering. “Why should WE need an abbey?”, some said with a snort. “There are plenty of Buddhist and Taoist monasteries around..” Well, we are neither Buddhist nor Taoist, although most of us get along quite nicely with them, of course. For a religion to be more formalized, to grow and permeate more areas of a culture or a group, it needs full time members who are dedicated to practising, refining, writing, recording, studying and teaching. Though we do have quite a few of those, they usually have day jobs, rather than being a full time professional community. We have a great many of what could be termed lay sisters and brothers; those who are devoted and dedicated to living their lives in the Way, but we have no priest ‘class’, as it were. So, though we do have a professional priesthood of sorts, we have not yet created spaces to support them full time, or train and hone them, or even facilitate professional community environments of librarians, educators and other academics. It is vital to our religion to establish these communities, and not just as teaching venues, but as places where we can totally immerse ourselves in our religion, and not only for short retreats. But for years. They are already becoming a reality. I was in contact with an abbess of the Cybeline abbey in New York for some time. They already have a large community of nuns with hospitality, retreat centres and libraries. Though there is room for dedicating to one Goddess in particular, like mine, because that’s just for me, a similar kind of non-deity specific community can appeal to far more people under the auspices of Pagan Humanism, where everyone can hear the call in their own way, yet we can work under one banner. Conserves resources and coalesces talent, doncha know…

Pagan Humanism solves the issue of the different pagan paths very elegantly. As a University structure run by professional nuns and their families, the individual Path of each practitioner is actually irrelevant to the functioning of the abbey, be they Druid, Odinist, Yogini, or atheist. In a University, there are oodles of disciplines working side by side, and each finds fulfilment and increases their own knowledge, but they are all working together. And this in particular is where Right Lifestyle professions, disciplines and education comes in. A pagan abbey must, as all abbeys have in the past, support itself. They are incorporated today, and like most corporations, can generate income by providing goods and services, especially those that are in keeping with the spiritual pursuits of the members. The old Abbeys for example provided beer, liqueurs, linens, medicines and other highly skilled products to the community that the practitioners would create while practising and teaching their Path. For a modern abbey, my preferences are for herbal products, a winery, a brewery, and retail health/pagan stores, mostly because I know how to do those. But it could be wool or meat or milk or wheat or flowers…Whatever. Hel, there are Christian convents now that support themselves by having the nuns do tech support. Not to mention the monks who manufacture Christmas fruitcakes

I’ve had training in all the areas that my Goddess is matron of, but only the Enlightened achieve total perfection, and I’m not yet Graced with that yet. Although I feel well rounded in my tradition, I need to interact with other experts on a regular basis, and help people train and perfect their respective crafts, as well as collaborate with those who can share what they know of my Matron, helping me to achieve a better understanding of Her. So. A dedicated space where one can devote one’s life to voluntary simplicity, learning and using one’s knowledge for humankind’s benefit, perhaps providing a space to those who are ill, helping them to achieve full health while practising one’s art and spirituality, all without worrying about how to make one’s daily bread… Mmm. Though some interest has been expressed for this kind of co-ordination and professionalism in the pagan community for a few years now, it has yet to really manifest. In fact, I would join it if I could find one that suited my needs. But if you can’t find it, make it, is my motto…

Our business model operates on personal voluntary poverty and is a modern version of a self-sustaining religious NPO/Ecovillage that, for example, will create a space for crafters to follow their path in a spiritual manner while also managing to funnel surplus product to consumers, without undercutting other professionals. I specialize in herbal still room work, and there is only so many experiments and demonstrations I can store or give away. And they have a limited shelf life. So for me, having an online and physical shop was a necessity to continually hone my craft, encourage experiments, and keep the ingredients fresh and rotated. For fibre artists for example, having a space for them to get rid of their projects is almost a requirement to keep doilies and quilts from crawling all over furniture in an attempt to escape. Taking their profession and skill to the next level by generating income to help sustain themselves and create more art is a dream most aspire to. Having a community to do that, with other professionals and teachers, in a sacred space, is something many would dedicate their lives to. I know I have craved it since I was a child, and I’ll be damned if I have to be Christian, or Buddhist, or Taoist to do it, either. Why can’t pagans have those goodies, too? We used to, and we can again.

The Shaker community (6), for example, who are nuns and monks (and who have the lovely aphorism “Hands to work, hearts to God, which I adore..), used to commonly have entire families joining at once and living in the community or dedicating themselves to the lifestyle. Once consecrated when adults, however, they were full monks and nuns in the Christian tradition and could produce no more children, which is one of the reasons for their slow decline in numbers, despite their appeal as a spiritual community. Pagans, however, don’t usually require celibacy. In fact, it is traditional for most pagans, and pagan orders of nuns, NOT to be celibate. Not only do most pagans find the enforcement of celibacy to be unnatural in humans, it’s not even the usual procedure in most women’s spiritual communities in antiquity. It only becomes the usual enforced restriction in the West when the patriarchal Christian structure takes over our sites and orders. With many pagans using sexual energy and the sexual acts as necessary forms of worship, and as a sex positive spirituality in general, there is little enticement to encourage celibacy as a discipline for pagan dedicates.  Even our cloistered communities can be, then, as traditional pagan communities usually have been, family friendly and supportive of partnerships, relationships, and human intimacy. Which makes us even healthier and more appealing than the celibate communities. And I’m not leaving my husband and kids behind while I devote myself to my spirituality and sacred work. Why should I? They are part of it, and reflect it.

Another necessity, though a less joyous one, is the requirement of many of our community members to have a safe space to practice their spirituality in support and comfort, since many of us had have conflict with our families of origin or society at large over our belief system.  Though some of us manage to find covens and other smaller groups to express ourselves in safety, many more do not have access to such resources, nor do they feel comfortable at the level of intimacy such groups usually require. An Abbey provides professional mentorship and community in a safe, healing environment where the novice or practitioner can feel comfortable in their faith and life choices, without judgement and in security.

Wendy Griffin, PhD suggests that our professional priesthood has already sprung up, but poses the question, do we want an educated one? I fundamentally agree with that assessment. Abbeys solve that problem and many others in a most elegant manner. Modern pagan abbeys based on traditional structure, both virtual and brick and mortar, can provide:

* a professional academic community with continual interaction and peer environment, with libraries, research and publications

* training, mentoring, discussion and maintenance of full-time professionals in traditional pagan paths and pursuits

* a sacred and supportive community for worldly or cloistered professionals and laity to dedicate themselves temporarily or permanently to spiritual devotions

* vectors to provide services and goods to benefit the community and the world 

* a safe haven for pagans and non-members who feel the harm of the world to rest and heal.

The Abbey of the Green Flame and the Copper Horse Abbey, both under the auspices of Dìsir: An Order of Traditional Aboriginal and Pagan Humanists, are two such entities that are already formed, one dedicated to green witchery and healing and the Celtic Aboriginal tradition, and the other to pagan horse magic and traditional animal medicine.  I hope the few already in existence will soon be joined by many more, as we reClaim our heritage of sacred communities, spaces, professional academic knowledge and Right Lifestyle which we, as a mature tradition, both crave and deserve.



1) “St. Brigid’s double monastery at Kildare was built at a location previously sacred to her pagan namesake, and the inner sanctuary of the Kildare Church also contained a blessed fire perpetually maintained by the nuns of her community. Some have speculated that St. Brigid herself once served as the last high priestess of a community of druid women worshipping the goddess Brighid, and that she led that entire community into the Christian faith.”

2) “Kildare was ruled by a double line of abbot-bishops and of abbesses, the Abbess of Kildare being regarded as superior general of the monasteries in Ireland.”

3) “Brigid’s most famous foundation is at Kildare, established on a generous grant of land from the king of Leinster. It is generally thought to have been a double monastery, housing both men and women, with Brigid presiding over both communities. Double monasteries were a common practice in Celtic lands, later taken by the Irish to the continent. Brigid made her monastery a remarkable house of learning for both men and women, including an art school devoted to for the creation of highly decorated handmade copies of scripture texts and other holy writings.”

4) “The, training of a warrior was a long task, frequently undertaken by warrior women who were responsible for teaching boys the arts of combat and of love. Specific titles were given to these classes of female warriors such as BAN-GAISGEDAIG (BAN-meaning woman and a derivative of GAS which means young warrior) and BAN-FEJNNIDH (which combines BAN with FEINNIDH meaning ‘band of warriors’) so it seems they were classed according to age and experience, possibly starting their training as very young girls. “

5) “More than anything else, however, Brigid is renowned for her hospitality. The poor and the infirm come in their multitudes. She makes provision for the sick, tending to them with her knowledge of contemporary medicine. Kildare becomes a place of holy pilgrimage for all, from the prominent and powerful to the lowly and forgotten.”

6) The Shakers, an offshoot of the Quakers, were one of “a number of utopian experiments in communal living that strove to construct a society in which people could live in perfect harmony surrounded by the bountiful plenty of Mother Earth. The Shakers were one of the most successful of these attempts”

Pagan Humanism: A Tradition of Rational Religion


 Humanism is the concept that human reason, need, perception, ethics, and experience are the primary drivers of a satisfactory ordering of inner life, and of interactions with others and the world. Though humanists themselves disagree on many points, and the principles themselves are always being honed, the Canadian Humanists say “Humanists are guided by reason and scientific inquiry, inspired by music and art, and motivated by ethics, compassion and fairness.” Currently more associated with secularism, Humanism was originally conceived as a revival of the classical Naturalism, with sacredness of the human condition and the true nature of reality at its core.


Happy Human logo of Humanism

History of Humanism


Humanism sprung out of the 19th century “ism”s of philosophical thought; when scholars were doing some serious rethinking in the Western world about how science, culture, economics, art, and individuals interact. Hot on the heels of the American and French revolutions, philosophers were forced to consider that top down authority of the Church and the State might not be the only way, or even the “natural” or “ordained” way of organizing society or human thought. Dogma and faith were no longer a good enough justification for any practice or organization. Reason, scientific inquiry and Nature had again become hugely popular and esteemed by all classes of humanity, no longer a mere hobby and curiosity for rich amateur eccentrics. The concepts were even occasionally worshipped as an Ideal in Western Europe as the Cult of Reason, especially during the last days of the French Revolution.


It was their own fault, really. Religious authority in Europe for the past 1500 years had derived from the top-down, fundamentalist, radical, and dogmatic type of Christianity, which had set itself in direct opposition to science, highly unusual in religious traditions. State authority, including economic and societal systems, had piggybacked on that authority for nearly as long, making opposition to either an offence against God. Now the peasants were not only revolting, but ruling. Everything that the Church and State had taught about class, natural roles, authority and how the world worked was demonstrably wrong. So paradigms more in keeping with what could actually be seen and proved were needed. Into this came the renewed regard for Science, Naturalism, and the need to find out how the Universe functioned, and how humans fit into it properly. Personal experience and provable measurements, not outside authoritative dogma, were once again the preferred meaningful interaction with Reality and Deity. 


Philosophy of Humanism


From Wikipedia: “In modern times, many humanist movements have become strongly aligned with secularism, with the term Humanism often used as a byword for non-theistic beliefs about ideas such as meaning and purpose”, largely due to the American school of Humanists who created the Humanist Manifesto in 1933. This has never precluded the original and continuing use of the term in other philosophies, only occluded it. More of a co-opting, really…


Religious Humanism is the philosophy of Humanism with a religious world view and symbology, including revealed religions. From What is Religious Humanism? Humanist Philosophy as a Religious Position by Austin Cline, 


“The functions of religion often cited by religious humanists include things like fulfilling the social needs of a group of people (such as moral education, shared holiday and commemorative celebrations, and the creation of a community) and satisfying the personal needs of individuals (such as the quest to discover meaning and purpose in life, means for dealing with tragedy and loss, and ideals to sustain us). For religious humanists, meeting these needs is what religion is all about; when doctrine interferes with meeting those needs, then religion fails.” 

Many religious traditions, it has been argued, were already humanist in philosophy and rational in practice. “Science” is an agreed upon method of quantifiably describing reality. The only other methods we can use are religious or philosophical, and most traditions gave them varying weights as Truth. The “middle east’ preserved scientific knowledge as a bastion of the Islamic faith for centuries into the Xian control-and-destroy Dark Ages. Buddhism insists on inner truth reconciling with outer experience, even though technically all around is illusion. Traditional aboriginal systems require accurate knowledge of biosystems and tech, or crops fail, animals die and humans starve. Taoism, kung fu, yoga and other forms of religion and spirituality are human centered in they defy the conventions they live under and provide a route for those who do not wish to integrate into surrounding systems of control.

Nearly all aboriginal worldviews, including European, were usually more egalitarian, democratic, pragmatic and scientific, with less blind devotion to dogma than the later Christian fundie conquerors – one of the reasons those usurpers put themselves in such opposition to those ideas. The pagans deal with the reality of the world: the crops, the animals, health and well-being… Human integration and sustainability with the environment, as its caretakers and partners, is a constant theme, with knowledge sought for, and altered as discovered, as natural and desirable to those goals. Though many traditions had a trained and specialized priesthood, usually as scientists, philosophers, healers, lawyers, performers, and poets, very few always required a mediator to the spirit world or deity. Most authority came internally; from personal interaction with the Unseen. 


Most forms of paganism, ancient and modern, were mature traditions that accepted most forms of the human condition as natural, and provided spaces for it. 
LBGT individuals for example were accepted and even revered as holy in many pagan cultures. Mental and physical illnesses were usually treated with respect and dignity, with suffering eased as much as possible. Pagan health care had surgery, disinfectants, and all manner of tech, which was obliterated in the Christian purges in favour of demon banishing. The longest documented continual democracy on the planet is on Iceland, which was only lightly veneered with Christianity, and at the very end of the conquests in Europe. When historians ask when the first democracy existed, where do they point? To the pagans! It’s a Christian myth that pagans were primitive or non-rational, for it’s what they hoped to exterminate in the population, largely for their own power.

Moderates have always existed, however, and reformist Abrahamics, as some of the original instigators of the Humanist Manifesto, also have some vibrant and continuous religious humanist writings. Modern Christian and Buddhist Humanist thought are dynamic examples of current popular religious humanist manifestations. As a widely inclusive version of religious humanism, Church of Spiritual Humanism preaches that “[a]ll humans have an inalienable right and duty to practice their own religious traditions. Spiritual Humanism allows everyone to fuse their individual religious practices onto the foundation of scientific humanist inquiry.” It also encourages self-ordination and personal authority, instead of a divine calling or hierarchical structure. (I was in communication with the founder Zorger many years ago when he was launching this church, and my posts are still on his forum, I believe.) In Canada, we have a few branches of secular Humanism, as well as Unitarians already well established, but I do not find them personally satisfying for various reasons. As a scientist and academic, and a traditional witch with a personal relationship with deity since childhood, I have chosen to focus on championing the philosophy of Pagan Humanism.



Pagan Humanism Defined


Paganism is the current umbrella term of Earth based religions. Pagan Humanism is therefore Humanism with a pagan agenda and focus. Of course, upon investigation, I discovered that the term was used by a small group of Humanists, religious studies, and classics professionals in delineating Plato Hellenic-type Stoicism. A small number of persons from the modern pagan movement have tried to distance themselves from this incorrect usage by taking a page from the current camp and calling it Neo-Pagan Humanism. As that has far too many associations with the Crystal Rubbing Fruit Loop (TM) section of Paganism, I decided to forgo the prefix. The Classicists will just have to get more accurate in their terms is all… Therefore, Pagan Humanism in this case is not from the Classical, or Plato and Aristotelian perspective, but the more modern use. It would be more accurate, I suppose, to call it “Earth-based Religious Humanism”, but that seems a bit much. 


Modern Paganism, or Neopaganism, with its subsets of witchcraft, Wicca, and heathenism, is the modern catch-all phrase for many organized and non-organized Earth based religions and spirituality.  Often seen as based on European Aboriginal practices and beliefs, it can also be used to describe traditional African, Asian, and North American spirituality, though less so, largely due to its primarily English usage. By declaring oneself “pagan”, it specifically implies a resurgence in traditional Earth Based beliefs, sometimes in defiance of Abrahamics, depending on the area, and a reconstruction of traditional wisdom, knowledge, and connection with Nature as a completion of self and humanity.

Since most aboriginal traditions rely on observation and reason in combination with revelation as balanced forms of truth, pagan humanism as an evolved current derivative presents little conflict with its traditional forms. Reason and personal authority, with the human need for internal ordering of the inner life as the goal of satisfying religion, and the sacredness of all life has always been a natural fit with paganism, past and present. Pagan Humanism in particular can also be Naturalist in philosophy – in modern terms, that translates into non-theism, with no revealed religious experiences and no supernatural, relying instead on scientific inquiry and natural awe for the Universe for inspiration. Rituals and rites are to satisfy the human need, with deities as Jungian archetypes rather than actualities. As paganism reasonably accepts and respects different forms of truth, atheism, theism, and spiritualism are all at home and welcome in pagan humanism. 


Principles of Pagan Humanism


Pagans need to reClaim our heritage, not perpetuate this ridiculous Christian propaganda about “primitive” Aboriginal peoples, which relies on inherent racism. We are legitimate inheritors of rationalism, democracy, egalitarianism, science, and effective medicine, and we did it all, and *can* do it all, in a sacred framework that doesn’t contradict itself. 


The common principles of modern secular humanism have had alot more debate than most forms of religious humanism, and there aren’t many inclusive religious humanists that have had a great deal of input on the literature. Borrowing from modern secular humanist writings, then, there are certain principles that we can start to develop for ourselves in a pagan context. 1 2

  1. Humanists affirm the dignity of every person and the right of the individual to maximum possible freedom compatible with the rights of others. Humanists acknowledge human interdependence, the need for mutual respect and the kinship of all humanity.
  2. Humanism aims at the full development of every human being. We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings. We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence. We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences. We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.
  3. The humanist ethic encourages development of the positive potentialities in human nature, and approves conduct based on a sense of responsibility to oneself and to all other persons.
  4. We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.
  5. Humanists advocate the use of the scientific method, both as a guide to distinguish fact from fiction and to help develop beneficial and creative uses of science and technology. We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems. We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life. However, it is not amoral; rather, it defines our morality. 
  6. Humanists call for the continued improvement of society so that no one may be deprived of the basic necessities of life, and for institutions and conditions to provide every person with opportunities for developing their full potential. We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities. We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state. We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance. We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.
  7. We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfil their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.
  8. Humanists advocate peaceful resolution of conflicts between individuals, groups, and nations. We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.
  9. We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service to others. We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.
  10. Humanists affirm that human beings are completely a part of nature, and that our survival is dependent upon a healthy planet that provides us and all other forms of life with a life-supporting environment. We want to protect and enhance the earth and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.


We are all spiritual beings. We all develop a spirituality map and a personal mythology when we are very young and never fully leave it (even if that mythology decides there is no Unseen). Though the form may change, the basics do not. The symbology from youth that contributed to religious experience is the most powerful and remains so. It can never be substituted. That’s why there are Christian witches, and Taoist witches, and Jewitches.. The irreplaceable religion and symbology of youth must be integrated with the witchcraft practices, often in later years. Teaching children especially to integrate their own experiences with their reason and practical worship, without perhaps some of the more potent magic or beliefs inherent in some traditions, is a valid compromise to ignoring religious practice entirely, in the hopes the harmful parts will just ‘go away’. Because they won’t, and neither will religion, so it is only logical to relearn how to use it properly, for the benefit of the individual, humankind, and the world itself.


Our Scope and Mission

We are a legally incorporated religious not-for-profit in Canada, with all the rights and responsibilities of any other religious institution. We offer our services to any groups or individuals who wish to worship or do spiritual work in the world without relying on conventional or exclusive organizations. Our principles include:

1) To promote religions based on reason that recognises individual need for spiritual guidance through life’s challenges and moral decisions.

2) To promote the use of rational thought in conjunction with spiritual worship or ritual.

3) To promote religious traditions, rituals and knowledge, especially Aboriginal or folk, alongside scientific inquiry.

4) Provide a means by which communities of like minded people of similar religious beliefs can be established.

5) To establish places of worship in accordance with the traditions, rites and practices of our members.

6) Establish, maintain, and conduct multipurpose outreach programs, schools, social work, community living, and research facilities.

7) Be an umbrella organization for fledging churches and organizations to provide funding and support to worship as they chose, after submission for approval.

Each congregation is encouraged to develop its own mission with the guidance of the principles of humanism and in keeping with the spiritual focus, goals, and world view of their philosophy, tradition, or matron deity. We encourage personal development as well as work within the world in a very practical manner and seek to provide many forms of spiritual life to accommodate those goals, including devotes such as nuns and monks, full-time clergy, and lay practitioners.