Monday, January 19, 2009

Goodbye First Church of Wicca

<a href="">The First Church of Wicca</a> got media attention when it was featured on <a href="">The Learning Channel</a>'s "My Unique Family" in an episode entitled "<a href="">The Witches Next Door</a>". At the time I remember wondering why a Wiccan Priestess would want to wear a Catholic Priest's collar. It seems awfully symbolic of a patriarchal system that's not quite what Wicca's about to me, but who am I to judge? I'm not Wiccan, what do I know?

If you go to the First Church of Wicca's website today, you will find the following: (I provide this rather than just a link because I imagine the website will disappear soon.)

<i>Thank you for all of your loving support over the past 5
years and we have enjoyed serving the Wiccan community
and answering all of your questions, comments, and
prayer requests. However, the church will be closing due
to the fact that our minister, the Rev. Dr. Kendra Vaughan
Hovey, will be opening a new church in May of 2009.

Living Waters Community of Hope will focus on helping
people heal from their experiences of inequity from past
religions and religious institutions, using Jesus Christ and
his teachings in the Bible as the foundation of how to have
a meaningful relationship with God, as well as, holistic
health of mind, body, and soul.

If you are interested in receiving more information about
Living Waters Community of Hope please see our website
at for information as it becomes
available </i>

This may come as somewhat of a shock to some. Though we may have somewhat gotten used to the idea that some people "Outgrow" Paganism and evolve into atheists (I know many personally who have and an article at the <a href="">Wild Hunt</a> expounds on the phenomena) the idea of a Pagan turning Christian is kind of a strange one. After all, most of us came from Christian backgrounds and made a deliberate and conscious choice to embrace a Pagan faith instead. Many of us suffered great heartache and did a lot of soul searching. The idea of just waking up one day and saying "all this is bullshit, I'm totally wrong" just to go back to the thing that didn't satisfy us in the first place is kind of strange.

But if you read the "About Us" page on The First Church of Wicca's website you'll see that it's not much of a stretch. Under "Our Beliefs" you'll find, among other things:
<i>3) We believe in the teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ, and consistently live by His teachings for our spiritual and moral foundation.</i>
<i>7) Some of us believe in resurrection and salvation through Jesus Christ.
It seems that the First Church of Wicca had one foot in the Christian church to begin with.

Under the What We Don't Believe section is:
<i>2) We do not believe in practicing Magick in our church.</i>
<i>3) We do not believe in practicing ritual in our church.</i>

Which begs the question: What do they do in their church?
It sounds like the First Church of Wicca wasn't very Wiccan to begin with... Which means we're probably better off without them. There are enough confused newbie Wiccans in the world without people being deliberately confusing. A more suspicious kind of person might wonder if it wasn't some conspiracy afoot. But I'm not a suspicious sort of person so I'll quit that line of thought right now. However, if I were a suspicious sort of person, the letter she sent out to members and supporters of the church would certainly have me speculating.

<i>I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting the First Church of Wicca and its efforts within the Pagan/Wiccan community over the past five years. I have thoroughly enjoyed serving you and answering all of your questions, comments, and prayer requests. However, the church will be closing due to the fact that I will be opening a new church in May of 2009.
Living Waters Community of Hope will focus on helping people heal from their experiences of inequity from past religions and religious institutions, using Jesus Christ and his teachings in the Bible as the foundation of how to have a meaningful relationship with God, as well as how to attain holistic health of mind, body, and soul. If you are interested in receiving more information about Living Waters Community of Hope please see our website at for information as it becomes available or email ReverendKendra@.... Please remember that I am always available to help you with any questions, concerns, or thoughts that you may have about your Wiccan practice.

For those of you who are wondering why I am closing the First Church of Wicca, understand that in my several years of studying Wicca and working as a Wiccan High Priestess, I have come to see the serious failings of the Wiccan faith. A major problem with the faith is that there is no unity among the followers of the faith which makes it very challenging to define exactly what Wiccans do and do not believe in. Wiccans have a very open "do what you will" or "live and let live" perspective in life which very easily can cause harm to oneself and others without one actually knowing it until it is much too late. Additionally, there is no unified moral code of ethics. This puts up huge red flags for society-at-large because no one can really be quite sure of what any group's intentions are. Society would have no way of knowing, for example, if you are a Wiccan that practices the Great Rite or polyamory, to name only two examples. Also, they would have no way of knowing just what "Do what ye will and harm none" means, and quite frankly, neither does each individual Wiccan. We are left to make moral and ethical decisions for ourselves rather than realizing that by human nature we are going to do anything that feels good to us, not what is best for us, and also not necessarily what is best for society as a whole. This makes for a very dangerous and faulty moral code of ethics. In addition, Wicca teaches primarily about how we can change the world and have all that we want. Spells, magick, etc. all prove to cause us to think selfishly instead of putting others before ourselves and more importantly instead of putting God before anyone else, including ourselves. It is very understandable that one would be close to nature and the earth, as well as, feel a need to call "God" the "God and Goddess;" however, the actual rote and complicated spells involved in Wicca can prove to be a huge distraction in one's spiritual growth. We do not need all of the "ritual things" in order to have a relationship with God - all we need is a sincere and thankful heart.

I personally have learned that through a true and deep understanding of Christ and his teachings, I can have the relationship with God that I have always wanted and more importantly, I am better equipped to teach how others can also have that relationship. Leaving Wicca was nothing lost for me, but turning to Christ has been everything gained! If you have any interest in learning more about my relationship with Christ I will be happy to share it with you.

Meanwhile, if you would like to remain on the mailing list for Living Waters Community of Hope, please reply to this email stating just that. Otherwise, I will assume that you do not and you will be permanently removed from our database prior to May 1, 2009.

I wish you many blessings on your spiritual journey!

It's a Good Life!
Rev. Dr. Kendra Vaughan Hovey</i>
(Note: I took out information identifying who the letter was sent to, but did not alter the letter in any other way)

The remarks she makes about the ambiguousness of Wicca are strange. For example, that "An it Harm None Do What you Will" is difficult to understand- is it not the job of the Priestess to help the seeker to understand? Or that there is no way of knowing if the group practices Polyamoury or the Great Rite. Yes there is, you ask. Wicca teaches us to change the world.. no it teaches you to change yourSELF and to take responsibility for yourSELF. Does not that Charge of the Goddess say something about "What you can't find within you will never find without"? Her discussion of our need to have things spelled out for us to keep us from hurting ourselves shows a serious disrespect and lack of faith in humanity as a whole. That's just sad.

She also gives us a hint of explanation to the confusing stuff in her "about" page. She apparently believes that the "God and Goddess" are simply names for "God", Jehovah. Has she been teaching Christianity under the guise of Wicca all along? Is she like those people the Christians scream about teaching Paganism under the guise of Christianity all along by saying that Nature is sacred to God? I sure as heck don't want to be a Pagan screamer. So I'll just stop speculating out loud right now!

But okay I can't. Why does the church have to close just because she left? It sounds like it's not really a church at all but a Cult of Personality. Is SHE the Church? Can't they just get a new Preist/Priestess? If I were a member of the church, I would be pretty damn furious. That's like saying "Hey, First Presbyterian Church is closing because your Minister decided he wants to be Pagan." It wouldn't happen. A church isn't about a minister, it's about the congregation. So... What's up with this lady anyway? How long has she been pretending to be Wiccan, all the while loathing Wicca? Has she been receiving donations from her congregation? I agree that the fact that Pagans and Wiccans would be better served with a little unity, but abandoning your entire congregation for greener pastures without making arrangements for them to be served in your absence is not the way to do it. It's irresponsible, rude and somewhat dishonest. It's even somewhat unethical -particularly if you've been getting donations from your group- to my guidance-less screwed up moral compass.

Okay. I'm done now. For real.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Blessings for an Historic Inauguration

<i>1569, from Fr. inauguration "installation, consecration," from L. inaugurationem (nom. inauguratio) "consecration, installment under good omens," from inaugurare "take omens from the flight of birds, consecrate or install when such omens are favorable," from in- "on, in" + augurare "to act as an augur, predict" (see augur).</i> (From <a href=""></a>)

It's been said, someone said it, not sure who, but I'm sure I read it in some Pagan book that Paganism doesn't lend itself well to politics. I remember this particularly because I was so surprised that someone would say such a thing. Surely politics is as ancient as Pagan religion itself. Surely politics and Paganism go hand in hand! Especially in a Democracy where we have many leaders as we have many Gods. Indeed the very word comes from <i>ta politika</i> or "affairs of the state" which is the name of a book on the subject by Aristotle, a man submerged in Pagan culture in the 3rd century BCE who is credited with the wise saying: <i>"He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a God." </i>

At any rate, I have been thinking about this inauguration. I am feeling called by Spirit to prepare a ritual of blessing for our country and for our President and Vice-President elects and their families. I have never felt so moved.  I've even dropped some pretty heavy hints to people who own televisions that they should invite me over for the evening so I can watch.

Maybe it's because nobody I voted for ever got elected before. Maybe it's because I have felt a great energetic pall hanging over our country for the past several years and lately I've felt it lifting, but that could be imagination. Maybe it's because I'm a little bit enamored with our President elect and I'm terrified of an assassination attempt. Whatever it is, I will mark the occasion with magic, ritual, prayer and blessing. And it would seem that I'm not the only one!

<b>Ritual In Washington</b>

It is perhaps not surprising that the Pagan spiritual community of Washington DC is making its own preparations for the upcoming inauguration. Three Washington area witches, <a href="">Caroline Kenner</a> of the <a href="">Sacred Space Foundation</a>, <a href="">Katrina Messenger</a> of <a href="">Connect DC</a> and the <a href="">Reflections Mystery School</a> and Caroline Casey of <a href="">Coyote Network News</a> and The Visionary Activist are joining forces to provide anyone who can get out there an outlet for the sorts of longings that have descended upon me.

Their Ritual of Unity and Blessing, to take place at the Jefferson Memorial Plaza on the day before the inauguration will begin with a Witches Broom Dance followed by ritual for Unity and Protection for our government and the world and wrapping up with a drum circle. The public are invited to this important ritual. More information can be found at

I wish I could go, but alas. I would love to hear some feedback from anyone who does though.

<b>Religious Uproars in Washington</b>

But all is not love and light as spirituality relates to this inauguration. Several groups are up in arms over religious issues. <a href="">Michael Newdow</a>, a California Doctor who has made it his mission to protect us from everything slightly religious in nature has once again <a href="">filed a lawsuit</a> demanding that "so help me God" be removed from the Oath and objecting to planned invocations and benedictions from clergy at the ceremony. He is not alone.

My opinion, if anyone wants to know. If Mr. Obama wishes to say "So help me <a href="">Grandma</a>" or "So help me <a href="">Columbia</a>" instead of "So help me God" then he should certainly be permitted. However, Mr. Obama is a Christian man. It is my suspicion that he would like to say "So help me God" and I am not sure that it's very nice to deny him that right. Furthermore, his inauguration is, well, his inauguration. It's a major ritual, a rite of passage. I think he should have whatever spiritual support he deems necessary there.

Dan Brown of the <a href="">Freedom From Religion Foundation</a> does not agree with that sentiment. In an <a href=";pageId=84962">article from WorldNetDaily</a>, he states: <i>"The inauguration is not a religious event. It is a secular event of a secular country that includes all Americans, including those of us who are not Christians, including those of us who are not believers."</i> and suggests that Mr. Obama have his own private religious observance if he feels the need.

There's also been <a href="">somewhat of an uproar</a> over Mr. Obama's choice of pastor to oversee the spiritual aspects of the ceremony. <a href="">Rick Warren</a> of the conservative, evangelical <a href="">Saddleback Church</a> in California actively supported California's Proposition 8, outlawing gay marriage in the state, though he denies hard feelings toward the gay community saying: <i>"I happen to love gays and straights. Who ever came up with the idea that you have to agree with everybody on everything in order to love them?"</i>. Though he has equated gay marriage with incest, polygamy and pederasty, he has also stated that divorce is more of a threat to families than gay marriage. What can I say, here's a man with deep convictions who thinks deeply about them. Do I agree with him? No. But I don't hate him for it either. I also think that he was perhaps not the best choice.

I'd be interested in hearing thoughts from other members of the Pagan community on these topics.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Witches, Pagans and Justice

<b>Murder Spell Case Goes to Trial</b>

The <a href="">jury has been selected</a> for a case that made Pagans and Witches everywhere cringe. Larry Harris of Souix City, Iowa was arrested <a href="">last year</a> after the deaths of his two young step-daughters and torching of his home. He claimed a spell went bad. What concerns me about the jury selection, is that it seems that are no Wiccans, Witches, Pagans or Occultists in the jury.

The Defense attorney <i> went down a laundry list of items and asked if they believed in or used any of the following: Tarot cards, Ouija boards, Ghosts, Levitation, Voo doo, Black magic, Processions, Evil intervention or Séances.  Hardly anyone raised a hand for those.  But many did believe in: the power of prayer, Satan, demons, guardian angels, and divine intervention.  </i>
(Processions, what do they mean by that?)

The question of whether knowledge and beliefs in these areas would taint the jury one way or another is an interesting one. Sure, people who don't believe in the occult, but do believe in Christian ideas may be more likely to deem a person guilty because they believe he was dabbling in evil forces, or perhaps insane because he was dabbling in unreal or imaginary forces. It's unclear what the defense is going for here. It's too bad there aren't more Pagans on the jury, but I suppose it's the law of averages here. Many Pagans would say that he's crazy, that it's a cover up, that spells don't just go bad and kill folks, etc. But how do we know? I suppose it's possible. Either way if he was doing something dangerous, he shouldn't have been doing it around kids. If indeed the spell "went bad" and the kids died because of it, he is, at the very least, guilty of willfully endangering children!

Alot more information came out in <a href="">an interview with the mother</a> of the young victims. He'd been threatening her. He took blood from one of the girls to use in the ritual, her DNA was on the knife. He claimed he was possessed by <a href="">Kali</a>... the Destroyer, who was traditionally offered sacrifices of young children... If the girls had not died, he should still be brought to justice for cutting one of them if nothing else!

<b>Wiccan Inmate Seeks Release</b>

While we're on the subject of Pagan murderers, Randall Lee McArthur <a href="">has been in prison for 25 years</a> for the murder of a young man whom he killed with the help of another man whose motive was apparently jealousy. (The other guy got five years). McArthur has also been in trouble for burglary and vandalism. But after 25 years he says he's grown up, found Goddess and ready to be released into the real world.

<i>A member of the state prison board, noting McArthur's references to Wicca along with Druidism, said some people view them as evil religions. McArthur was asked if he was discovering something different.

I can't speculate whether the man is rehabilitated, but I hope the fact that Mr McArthur is a Wiccan is not adversely affecting the parole board's opinion of him!

<b>Wiccan Inmates Lose Appeal for More Time</b>
<a href="">Three Wiccan inmates in Iowa</a> recently lost an appeal on their claim that three hours isn't enough time for a proper religious observance, specifically for Samhain.

Okay, folks, I know my Samhain parties take about five hours, but that includes dinner, socializing, etc. The actual ritual doesn't take more than an hour, hour and a half tops. Can we stop embarrassing ourselves by demanding more stuff than everyone else gets? Please.

<b>Debt Collector Hires Witch</b>

Luckily not everyone in my Pagan Justice roundup is guilty. A Lithuanian a debt collection firm has hired Vilija Lobaciuviene, a witch, to use magic not only to help bring in deadbeats, but also to provide spiritual healing and support for those suffering under the strains of debt. She will be doing this using hypnosis, herbal medicines and bio energy field work.

In a story by the <a href="">NY Daily News</a>, there are entirely too many disrespectful quotes for me...

But whatever, Go Valija!

<b>No Justice for the Wicked Witch of the West</b>
And finally, <a href=";BRD=2724&amp;PAG=461&amp;dept_id=563781&amp;rfi=6">fourth graders from Todd Elementary School</a> in Beaver, PA have declared Dorothy innocent of the murder of the Wicked Witch of the West, despite the fact that Dorothy went to the Witch's house with the intention of killing her. No word yet about an appeal.