As we wrap up 2015, it’s important to think of what has been accomplished and what more needs to be done. While pagans are still a pretty small, religious minority, it is indisputable that our numbers are growing along with our influence in public life.
Since the beginning of the Neopagan movement in the 1950’s (along with more ancient traditions dating back to Medieval Times), pagan and occult practices have been limited to small (and mostly secretive) gatherings.
But now as public religious acceptance grows, these gatherings are becoming less secretive and more public. In fact, we have seen things happen in 2015, that have not occurred in hundreds – and perhaps even a thousand years.
In the beginning of this year, Scotland saw its first gay, Pagan wedding.
Then plans were announced in Iceland to build the first temple to the Norse Gods since the Viking Ages.
Meanwhile, the U.K. announced the creation of a druid college.
In April, Northern Ireland certified its first pagan priest since the time of St. Patrick. Ironically, the name of the pagan man himself is Patrick. Who says the Gods don’t have a sense of humor?
Another big story in April was when a Wiccan Priestess was invited to give the opening invocation before the Iowa State Legislature.
In terms of other big news, the U.S. Supreme Court made gay marriage legal nation wide this June.
And of course, last but not least, the metal heads of this blog will be mourning the loss of the metal god and legend Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead who recently passed. I realized since I wrote my last article, that I shouldn’t say RIP, because I can’t really see Lemmy sitting around quietly for too long. It’s more likely that he’ll be rocking out with the gods in Valhalla and writing some of the best damned metal anyone ever heard with Dio.
So this new years raise a glass in toast for all the good, bad, and ugly that happened this year. And let’s hope to make 2016 even more exciting and eventful than 2015.
The Cascadia Grove of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) is looking to build a shrine to Cernunnos, God of liminality, commerce and the forest. This will be at the beautiful White Mountain Druid Sanctuary in Trout Lake, Washington state.
(This is an artistic rendition of the proposed Cernunnos shrine)
White Mountain Druid Sanctuary is created and owned by Kirk Thomas, the Arch Druid of ADF. On the Sanctuary’s property, he has already completed three shrines, a massive Stone Circle, and a Labyrinth. The three other shrines include Dagda, The Morrigan and Lugh.
There is also a Bed and Breakfast (Trout Lake Abbey) on the property. People can reserve an individual room, a bed in the hostel, or places to camp and pitch a tent.
White Mountain Druid Sanctuary is one of the few places in the country that has recreated an environment that we think may be similar to what the ancient druids worshiped in (at least based on what we know). They are interested in creating a place to worship in the spirit of the old Indo-European spirituality, and connect with the Gods and Goddesses, our ancestors and nature.
(Patrick Carberry: Source: Belfast Media Group)
I truly believe the Gods have a since of humor. For the first time in centuries, Northern Ireland has allowed Patrick Carberry, a shamanic healer and a pagan priest to be certified by authorities. It was a man by the name of “Patrick” who was famous for bringing Ireland under the Christian fold (even though there were Christian missionaries in Ireland before St. Patrick) and now it is another “Patrick” who is paving the way for the ancient religion to reclaim official recognition. Ironic? Is it not?
Patrick Carberry, who is based in Glengormley, applied to Stormont five months ago to be certified as a holy man. Officials have finally got back to him with the news that he can now carry out religious ceremonies for people who follow Irish pre-Christian religions.
Patrick has been attacked in the past for his beliefs. It is his hope that bringing official recognition to the pagan religion will help it to become more socially acceptable.
“I am the very first pagan priest in Northern Ireland and it’s a big milestone because until now Stormont has point blankly refused to recognize paganism,” he said.
“In 2009 I set up a church called the Order of the Golden River but the members and I agreed to keep it underground because the people were afraid of being targeted.”
Apparently this fear is well founded. Patrick was assaulted at a small outlet he opened in the Park Centre last September. But he says he’s now happy to announce he is a full-time priest in the pagan religion, now that he has official recognition.
“I’m not in the slightest bit bothered. I am a full-time pagan priest and it’s as simple as that. That’s what I do. Other people have jobs and do their paganism outside of that but I am the same level as any priest or reverend and I have now been recognized as such.”
Patrick said the Order of the Golden River deserves to be respected along with other religions.
“Now we are officially recognized as a church and it comes down to the fact it’s the first time paganism has been officially recognized since Saint Patrick came here and did away with all the pagans and made the whole place Christian. This is the first time pagans have had the opportunity to officially celebrate their beliefs.
“We are a pagan order which believes everyone has the right to live and have their own faith without fear. We were underground but at a meeting the Order members agreed to speak out about our faith and stand up for our beliefs. We are happy to explain our faith to anyone who asks because our aim is to dispel all the misinformation which people have about paganism.”
Patrick says he can now perform weddings in full compliance with the law.
“I can marry people in stone circles or ancient woodlands. It really is a milestone for Northern Ireland and a great day for pagans.”
Patrick describes himself as a traditional Celtic Shaman who aims to live as close to nature and the old ways as possible. While he practices mainly in Ireland and the U.K, on his website he states that it is his goal to help people on an international level connect to the spirit world. He provides shamanic healing, Shamanic Healing, Energy Healing, Energy Balancing, Angel Healing, Shamanic Readings, Soul Readings, Holistic Massage, Animal Communicator and Animal Healing.
THE ORDER OF THE GOLDEN RIVER
The Order of the Golden River (of which Silent Oak is a trading name) is a pagan order which believes that everyone has the right to live and have their own faith without fear. Set up in 2009 the Order have been practicing its faith in private. The members have had to remain anonymous to protect their families from harm because of their beliefs. At a meeting in January 2015 the Order members agreed to speak out about their faith and stand up for their beliefs, they will explain their faith to anyone who asks, their aim is to expel all the misinformation which people have about paganism.
St.Patrick’s Day has become one of those holidays that no one understands, but everyone likes to celebrate (just like Cinco De Mayo and Mardi Gras). After all, it’s a great excuse to get wasted, kiss Irish people, wear your best green shirt and pinch people. However, for those in the Pagan community – especially for those who are Celtic Pagans – the holiday has less lighthearted undertones.
St. Patrick’s claim to fame is that he “drove the snakes from Ireland.” Now of course, there were no snakes in Ireland. So this phrase is a euphemism. What it really means is that he is the person who drove the druids from Ireland, since snakes were a sacred symbol that many druids had tattooed to their arms.
Ironically, this patron saint of Ireland isn’t even Irish. Patrick was a 5th century Romano-British missionary and bishop who came to Ireland to preach Christianity. According to the Confessio of Patrick, he was captured from his homeland in Britain and taken to Ireland as a slave where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. Later, when he became a cleric, he returned to the land of his capture to spread the Christian religion.
However, it has been argued that Patrick’s conversion of Ireland is a highly exaggerated affair. There were Christian missionaries in Ireland long before Patrick arrived, and the druid culture existed in Ireland centuries after Patrick died (on March 17th). Many aspects of the pagan culture in Ireland even blended into Christianity over time: holidays, holy wells, and even Gods were absorbed into the Christian tradition and called saints.
Whether Patrick’s conversion of Ireland is exaggerated or not, I still have a problem with dedicating a holiday to this man. I have a problem with celebrating a figure who is famed for driving the druids out of Ireland, so I will not celebrate his name.
Some also suggest that the institution of “St Patrick’s Day” was an attempt by Christians to replace the Pagan celebration of the Spring Equinox.
So I agree with many others when they say that we should instead call this day “All Snakes Day.” Hail the Irish Druids! Hail the holy symbol of the snake, a creature of healing and power! I will take today to celebrate my own Irish heritage and welcome the coming spring with open arms. I will take today to cherish the connection of my ancestors with Ireland’s ancient druidic culture.
Saint Patrick and the Druids (Sacred Texts)
Snakes and Bladders: Celebrating All Snakes Day (The Pagan Pope)
2015 has been an exciting year for Pagans so far, and we’re only in February! First it gets announced that Iceland is buildings its first temple to the Norse God to be erected in 1,000 years. Now a U.K. branch of the Druid College has been born. The other sister college is in the U.S. in Maine. (I personally would love to see one in every state).
The Druid College’s goal is to cultivate priests of Nature. They are dedicated to
- to Earth-centered spirituality
- to the integrity of our natural home
- to the crafting of sacred relationship
The foundations for this life long journey are established by three years of study. Unlike contemporary universities, Druid studies are furthered not only by personal reflection but primarily by ongoing personal connection and spiritual guidance of (i.e., apprenticeship to) a Druid Priest.
What does being a priest mean to the Druid College? Here is what the website says: “Being a priest of nature does not mean being an intermediary, but instead living a life in service, crafting a sacred relationship with the land, the ancestors and the gods. It requires service to the community as well as the land, wherein the priest acts as guide, witness or celebrant to a journey or journeys of crafting sacred relationship.”
While one can learn about druidry anywhere, the college itself has a specific focus on cultivating people who can perform service to the land and community. Given that human beings currently have a very dysfunctional relationship with their environment, the college stresses that priests of nature are needed more now than ever.
NOTE: The Druid College is not an accredited college. It’s not a place where you would go to get a degree. They use the word “college” in an earlier sense to describe the place as a center of learning.
Big News – Druid College UK is born! (Witches and Pagans, 2-6-15)
ORIGINAL ARTICLE (More Information Here)
Ásatrúarfélagið website (The group for which the temple is being built)
For the first time in 1,000 years, a temple to the Norse Gods will be built in Iceland. Most pagans these days tend to worship in each other’s houses or outside somewhere, since our numbers are pretty low. So this will definitely be a historic landmark for Iceland – if not for the whole Pagan community in general.
Icelanders will soon be able to publicly worship at a shrine to Thor, Odin and Frigg with construction starting this month on the island’s first major temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age.
While the number of Norse Pagans is small in Iceland, the rate of growth itself is pretty large. The number has tripled in the last decade. So it makes sense that a temple will be built to accommodate this growing community.
This temple will be a place where weddings, funerals and initiation rites will take place.
After 1,000 years of oppression the old ways will re-emerge once again.
Amon Amarth – Thousand Years of Oppression