Reflections on Coming Out, Building Community, and Pagan Pride

Dear Friends,

So it’s National Coming Out Day today (or tomorrow depending on your specific Nation….) this international holiday celebrating GLBTA pride and identity is going strong after 23 years.

Now perhaps you expect me to wax philosophic about LGBT Pride and such… and admittedly I could… but in addition to being the beginnings of Samhaintide, we are in the midst of Pagan Pride season, and I’d like to talk a bit about that today…

Now while it’s focused on the Equinox, there are numerous celebrations across the U.S. and around the world that celebrate their Pagan Pride events in either October or as late as November for various local and logistical reasons; which is rather appropriate as many of the ancient Paganisms had much more localized holy days and festivals in tune with the local seasons and the rhythms of their particular cities and towns.  As I reflect upon my Pagan Pride this year I find my mind turning not only to the many Proud and Out Pagans serving their cities and towns as Public Servants, I am also reminded of those non-Pagans who are now desperately trying to back pedal from confused and ill-informed claims of having been involved in Witchcraft at some vague and undefined date.

I am happy to see Witches taking up the challenge and opportunity presented by this last story to Come Out with Pride.  I believe that by coming out when and where you can do so safely you can advance the cause of Religious Freedom for Pagans and Heathens in our nation and around the world.

I also find myself thinking about the many Pagan Pride events that will have vendors selling books and incense and various sacred supplies and statuary, and bling, and tchotchke’s of all sorts.   We are very good at trying to support some of our Pagan business-folk, as long as they are blatantly “Pagany”… but what about our Doctor’s, our Plumber’s, or Gardener’s and Grocer’s and the many many other areas or our lives where we could be supporting our fellow Pagans economically and demonstrating our Pride with our Pocketbook?

I have written and thought about this a few times before, and expect more of it in the coming year!  When I can go into any Gay bar or LGBT Community Center and pick up a LGBT (local) community publication or community directory listing not only GLBT owned and themed businesses and professionals… everything from bars and beauticians to real-estate agents, doctors, plumbers and electicians and bankers and lawyers…. as well as private listings in some LGBT communities; why is it that you have trouble finding ANY of the same sort of information in Pagan community venues?

I can only hope that some of those Pagan Pride event tables are being held by local Pagan bankers and Pagan real-estate agents and other Pagan business-folk working to network within and support their local Pagan communities in the same way that I see in similar events within the Queer community.  Remember that this is only going to be more important as we weather the current economic woes!

Then my mind turns towards the causes and charities that I can support and work for as a conscious invocation of my Pagan Pride.  Causes like the Officers of Avalon‘s non-profit charity Avalon Cares, and the Military Pagan Network and the Heathen community Open Halls project, and the organizations like Cherry Hill Seminary and The National Pagan Leadership Skills conference.  I am also reminded of those Pagans who are standing up for Religious Freedom and Fairness and Justice, speaking Truth to Power in the Halls of Justice; as well as those who are gaining the full legal recognition and equal access for their faiths.

This year of 2010 began with contemporary Paganism taking it’s place upon the World stage as a World Faith at the Parliament of World’s Religions in Australia, and I am damn proud of that!

I think of my friends and co-conspirators at the Pagan Newswire Collective and our diverse efforts to help connect our local and national communities and to provide news and information of interest to and reflecting the Pagan and Heathen world-views; while at the same time being a resource for our larger communities to get factual and accurate information on the many paths of contemporary Paganism.

Now I do not deny that there is a LOT of work left to do in order to secure true legal Equality and Religious Freedom for the Pagan paths, and I will probably always hold the opinion that we could do more to build connections and relationships that build and strengthen a beloved Pagan community; but I also cannot deny that there is a heck of a lot to be Proud about Pagans!

Peace, and Pride,


Supporting Pagan organizations and institutions:Officers of Avalon

Dear Friends and Pagani and U.U.’s,

So like any self respecting member of the online contingent of the Pagan community I am signed up for a nigh-ridiculous number of lists and newsletters and things.  A lot of times I let these connections lay dormant and focus on a few well worn paths in this World Wide Web Between the Worlds…

Recently however I received some very interesting news from an organization I’d like to highlight, the Officers of Avalon.

Officers of Avalon

An international organization for Pagan Law Officers and Emergency Workers

Avalon Cares

The charitable works arm of the Officers of Avalon, they have done some great work and are worth checking out!

~taken from the Chrysalis Online Pagan Resources Page…

That is the short version, their own website says more…

“The Officers of Avalon is a fraternal, educational, and charitable organization. We seek to provide a community and network for Pagan first responders and to serve as a voice for them. We seek to provide accurate information and improve public perception about Pagan spirituality through education. We seek to defend followers of Pagan spirituality by working against misinformation, discrimination, defamation, harassment and intimidation. We are an outreach to Pagans in the Emergency Services. We also seek to demonstrate that Pagans are a charitable people. To that end, we work on the collection and distribution of donations to communities in need for natural disaster relief. Join us today as an Officer of Avalon or a Friend of Avalon.” ~from the Officers of Avalon site, accessed 11:16 am 2/23/10

OoA is one of the few Pagan Professional organizations founded in the 1990’s to still be going and growing strong.  This alone is worthy of some praise, the fact that they have expanded beyond merely advocacy and support for their own community but have sought to do good in the wider world through non-profit charitable work is doubly praiseworthy.

Avalon Cares is the charitable wing of the OoA and, last I looked into it, they were working on their 501c status (legal/tax code designation for non-profit status, and thus freedom from taxes, here in the U.S.).  They trucked in disaster aid to a small town in Louisianna after Katrina, they paid for and shipped new uniforms for members of the New Orleans Police dept., they worked to raise funds for disaster relief after the California Wildfires a few years ago, and the brush fires in Australia last year.  They are now establishing a fund for aid in the face of the ongoing disaster in Haiti!

Avalon Cares Update
Avalon Cares, the charitable branch of Officers of Avalon,
is accepting donations for Earthquake Relief and
rebuilding in Haiti. Our goal is to help communities recover
as quickly as possible and to fill in needs not met
by larger organizations. In the short term, we will make
donations to Doctors without Borders on behalf of our
membership and Pagan communities in general. We
also plan to look into ways to support the first responders
already there, particularly in the military, with care
packages. It will take years to rebuild Haiti. In the long
run, we plan to support like-minded groups going in to
do direct relief work by providing supplies, volunteering,
and assistance with shipping and travel. We will
partner with one or more groups to help with rebuilding
in the months to come.
There are many ways to help us help others. 100% of all
direct cash donations earmarked for Haiti will be used
exclusively for relief work. Consider doing a fundraiser
for Avalon Cares. Set out a jar at a gathering and send
us a check for the proceeds. Those quarters, dimes, and
dollars add up quickly. Donate items for our upcoming
charity auction. Finally, join us on Facebook (group
name Officers of Avalon) or ask to subscribe to our
announcement list ( and
watch for opportunities to volunteer your time.
Please donate $5, $10, $25, or more via PayPal (http:// or postal mail
Officers of Avalon
PO Box 22
Baraboo, WI 53913″

~accessed from their Feb 2010 newsletter on 2/23/10 at 11:26 am

Membership as a “Friend of Avalon” is only $15 dollars and the money goes to support this organizations work.
Why support them?  Well in Paganism and the Pagan movement and our many faiths and communities we face an uphill battle in a society where our numbers and motives are often called into question.

In supporting an organization like Officers of Avalon we can not only do good in the world, we can not only stand up for our beliefs and for the values we hold dear, we can also stand up and show the larger world who Pagans really are and what we are really about!  Even if our numbers are small we can have an incredible impact for good in the world, but by supporting some of the few extant Pagan specific charitable organizations we can empower them, and our community and the next generation of Paganism as a network of World Religions.



(Friend of Avalon as of his next paycheck and the response time from OoA)

Avalon Cares mobilizes for California Wildfires…

in an e-mail from Kerr Cuhulain…


25 October 2007
Dear Friends:
23 fires have charred more than 460,000 acres in California this month. More than 1,400 homes have been destroyed and at least 3 people that we know of have died. At one point, almost 1 million people were under evacuation orders as several fires burned from the Mexican border to northern Los Angeles County. Governor Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency. Overnight Wednesday about 76,000 people were forced to stay in 42 shelters. The number of people involved is similar to the Katrina hurricane disaster which Avalon Cares, the disaster relief arm of Officers of Avalon, helped with back in September 2005.
Many people have written in the past expressing concerns about large NGOs that have large overhead costs that eat up much of the money sent in. Some have written to tell me that in the past, when they’ve tried to forward funds and goods from their organization’s fund raising efforts to Christian aid organizations, these things have been turned away as the recipients refused to accept anything from Pagans. This is especially frustrating in light of several churches and government officials recently claiming that Pagans don’t do anything for their communities.

Officers of Avalon is an organization made up of Pagan emergency services personnel that is incorporated in Nevada and has 501 (c) status. Avalon Cares is a relief fund created and run by our Chancellor General as part of our commitment to serve the community. Officer of Avalon’s operating costs are modest and entirely covered by the dues of our members. None of the Grand Preceptory (our board of directors) receive remuneration of any sort for the work that we do for Officers of Avalon. We’re all volunteers. 100% of the money collected by our Avalon Cares project is going to the relief effort. We are endeavoring to give the funds collected directly to those who need them.

As our members are Pagan professionals in the emergency services, we’ve had a lot of people on the ground in the affected areas from the start. I’m starting to get reports on what has been affected and where help might be needed. I encourage you to do the same. If you know any one who has needs as a result of this disaster, please write to us and let us know.
Avalon Cares provided tens of thousands of dollars to the Katrina relief effort. We were the first people into Prentiss, Mississippi with a convoy of relief supplies. It was Avalon Cares that paid for replacement uniforms to be shipped to the New Orleans police. We’ve helped with lots of other little projects since then. This is an opportunity for you to show the world what Pagans can do. Projects like this show the world what Pagans are really like.
Once again, we’re showing the world what Pagans can do. Yet we must stick with it. We need you all to continue to donate what you can. If you can’t donate money, donate your time to volunteer efforts. Do your own fund raising events to help us in this disaster relief effort. Open your doors to the displaced. Give blood. If you’re a Pagan in the emergency services or related fields, join us at Officers of Avalon and help us help Pagans.

Kerr Cuhulain
Preceptor General
Officers of Avalon


For more information about the Officers of Avalon organization, or the Avalon Cares charity…


From Pax,

Please, please give of your time and money to this organization. They not only seek to do good for those in need; in doing so they exemplify the values of the Pagan faiths in front of the world.

Thank you for your time,
Pax / Geoffrey Stewart