Apparently black-crowned night herons are on the Illinois state endangered list, but there's been a flock of them nesting in the zoo and somewhere else further south in the park for the last few summers.
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(posted by chris the cynic; written by members of The Slacktiverse)
In Case You Missed This
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Things You Can Do
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The turbulent nature of the current times have been weighing heavily on many people’s minds. Throughout our interconnected communities we have heard many people talk about struggling with the chaos and uncertainty present in our socio-political climate, and with the challenges of maintaining emotional and physical well-being. Social media sites are full of revolving comments about needing a mental health break as well as expressions of being overwhelmed.
The most recent reports from Charlottesville and North Korea seem to have increased what appears to be a sense of hopelessness, anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, and depressive symptoms associated with concern over the state of America and the world.While frustration, anger, sadness, and fear are not new emotions experienced when there is a change in the socio-political climate, this now appears to be a trend associated with this distinct time in history and the increasing divisive nature of change happening in numerous arenas of our society.
Steven Stosney, PhD discusses the increase in stress experienced by people seeking mental health support in the Trump presidency era in his article “How to Cope With Trump Anxiety.” He states,”Our current environment, amplified by 24-hour news outlets and social media, has created a level of stress, nervousness, and resentment that has intruded into many people’s lives and intimate relationships, the likes of which I’ve not seen in nearly 30 years of clinical work.”
In his work, Stosney cites a Care Dash survey examining the anxiety in the age of Trump, which was first published in April 2017. Some of the key findings in the report, titled “Nervous Nation: An Inside Look at America’s Anxiety in the Age of Trump,” include:
I found some of the data to be very reflective of how many people are relating to the world today.
In analyzing my own experiences and insights around what I need this year, I have decided to take a step back from social media and community circles as a means of self preservation, and to seek asylum from the chaos of society. The intensity of everything has meant seeking solitude and trying to find some peace in my isolation.
I have found that others within the Pagan community have mentioned similar coping strategies to restore a sense of personal balance and serenity. Considering the discussions of burnout to expressions of being overwhelmed that result in a “social media” break, it is quite evident that the umbrella of Neo-Paganism and polytheists are individually and collectively feeling the stress of our current societal over-culture. And like with many spiritual or religious people, extreme stress can push people toward or away from routines, practices, and spiritual activities.
Best practices in mental health modalities reinforce the importance of protective factors to balance and maintain mental health wellness during times of increased stress. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) website define risk and protective factors in the following ways
Risk factors are characteristics at the biological, psychological, family, community, or cultural level that precede and are associated with a higher likelihood of negative outcomes. Protective factors are characteristics associated with a lower likelihood of negative outcomes or that reduce a risk factor’s impact. Protective factors may be seen as positive countering events.
While protective factors may vary in addressing different types and levels of stressors, we know that it is important to continue the discussions associated with supporting positive outcomes in our individual and collective approaches to managing our needs.
It is also important to note that protective factors for many people include professional, therapeutic support to address clinical needs surrounding mental health. No single discussion or introduction of protective factors negate the need for professional services.
Spirituality, community, and religious activity are some of the most used protective factors in society. We often hear people refer to the power of prayer in times of distress and using that as a means of divine connection toword hope, purpose, and support.
Within the modern Pagan and polytheist communities there are often shared sentiments that involve personal devotional work, ritual workings, ancestor reverence, and prayer-like activities. We have also seen many people inside and outside of the Pagan community engage in activism as a means to engage in solution focused actions, another common and useful protective factor.
The article”Spirituality and Stress Relief: Make the Connection,” found on the Mayo Clinic website, lists the following as potential benefits of spiritual connectivity as a means of “stress relief and overall mental health.”
The current climate and ongoing stress induced cycle of newsworthy events leads us to question what we are doing to increase our sense of well being. How are we engaging in activities that promote safe spaces and spiritual asylum from the continuous challenges of coping in today’s world?
Most of us are aware of some of the common techniques to support stress reduction and balance in one’s life. We commonly hear about mindfulness techniques, meditation, exercise, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and prayer. I spoke about some of these coping strategies in a previous Wild Hunt article on Coping with Community.While many of those same techniques continue to be useful, what are some of the unique ways that we look for spiritual comfort in these times?
Because we are such a diverse collection of communities and of individual practitioners following many different paths, this particular conversation could expand into a myriad of directions and methods. I reached out to a three different people within our interconnected communities to engage them in a discussion regarding their own methods of addressing the need for comfort, balance and spiritual connection during these times.
Yvonne Conway, High Priestess and co-founder of United Pagans of Color, shared with me some of her own personal practice in connecting to a sense of comfort in these stressful times.
I will begin a mediation that starts with visualizing my own heart beating and sending forth radiating energy of love. I feel it surround me completely. From there I begin to visualize people in my most inner circle of connection such as my husband and family. The cats too! One at a time I visualize surrounding them in the same love that radiates from my heart.
Then I will expand my circle of individuals to others I’m friends with. One by one I will picture them surrounded in love. I’ll move further out to those I’m acquainted with. Then those I’ve just barely met in passing. Eventually I expand out to those I’ve never actually met, but perhaps passed on my way somewhere. Then further still to those I’ve never crossed paths with… essentially ensconcing every human in love. I continue with every animal, plant, insect, any and all living creatures. I do my best to visualize as much and as many being surrounded in my love. Once I feel I’ve expanded that radiating love to everyone I sit with it for a bit, or a while, depends on how I’m feeling, until I feel a deep resounding joy. Once I reach that point I begin the process to awaken.
This meditation can take me about half an hour to an hour depending on how I’m feeling as I’m going through it.
Courtney Weber, Author and Priestess, shared with me some of her most present thoughts about how she is working toward comfort despite most recent events that invoke anger, sadness and fear.
Today I felt angry. My hands shook all day even though I smiled. I hugged a seasoned warrior activist woman, herself exhausted. We both were, but she more than me. I snapped at the wrong people, even though for the right reasons. I distracted myself with stupid memes. I found myself more in my thoughts than in my world and I realized it when I saw I’d scanned and emailed myself a blank sheet of paper—absolutely nothing written on it, but I thought it was important.
I stopped. I closed my eyes. I asked myself, “What can I do right now?” I can’t undo the pain that’s been done to all others by the people in charge. I can’t re-freeze the glaciers or bring dead lions back to life or stop bullets shot at raised hands or wave my hands and watch Nazi evaporate. But there must be something I can do. I asked myself, “What can I do, right now?”
I can be kind to others…even when it would be easier to ignore them. I can read to a child…or take the time to thoroughly, thoughtfully, and honestly answer their questions. I can do something nice for a loved one…and expect nothing in return but respect. I can refuse to despair…just for today.
Today, I can do. And tomorrow, I will do tomorrow. But today, I will do today.
Shauna Aura Knight, Author and Artist, described her process of personal support by engaging herself in her art.
I paint to keep my mind-squirrels at bay. It reduces my anxiety. But what really inspires me is when someone uses one of my paintings for devotional work and tell me about how it helped them. I have one guy who bought one of my phoenix paintings, and he has fibro and often has flares where he can’t leave the house, but he uses one of my paintings to keep himself inspired when things get bad. The painting piece itself is a spiritual act for me, but then the person actually working with the art then circles back and is what brings me hope.
Utilizing methods of engagement that directly connect with our spiritual or religious core can be a useful strategy as we move into the what feels like an uncertain future of change and challenge. I have noticed that my own ability to connect with certain aspects of my practice have been hampered by my sincere lack of connection, resulting in a dusty justice altar and abandoned spiritual routines.With the continued looming social and political unrest, it is a perfect time to re-evaluate what activities increase a sense of grounding and awareness. It is also an opportunity for each of us to really invest in our own health and wellness by focusing on decreasing stress and increasing activities that reinforce spiritual, religious, or magical practices.
Here are a couple of ideas to consider in moving forward with increasing spiritually enhanced, stress reducing protective factors.
If there was ever a time in my generation where individual and societal pressure is at it’s highest, this might be it. It is a specific act of honoring the Gods or engaging our individual beliefs, when we take care of ourselves and care for our needs. I personally find that to be one of the most religiously important magical rituals we could perform.
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UPDATE (Aug. 19, 2017 12:48 ET): Andres Guerrero has been found. He is now in a local hospital’s ICU. Tanya Johnson is with him. No other information is being released. We will have a full report on the story as soon as we learn more.
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MINNEAPOLIS — Andres Guerrero, age 17, disappeared early Thursday morning in north Minneapolis. Guerrero was last seen on Broadway Ave. at 1 a.m. wearing a black shirt and black shorts. After news of his disappearance spread, the local Pagan community and beyond have quickly responded with support in an effort to find him.Guerrero was born Jan. 20, 2000 to Tanya Johnson, a local Minneapolis Pagan who is known well in this community, sometimes labeled “Paganistan,” and regularly attended Summerland Spirit Festival.
Johnson said that her son loved animals, designer clothes, music and comedy shows. He also attended several Pagan festivals with her.
The night of Aug. 16, Guerrero left his home alone, headed to reportedly his friend’s house. But he was last seen at 1 a.m Aug. 17. Johnson said that she realized that he was missing around 7:30 a.m. the next morning.
The family is still unclear about other details regarding the time prior to his disappearance. However, they did say that, without a doubt, this is “not a runaway case.”
What is being reported is that, at some point after 1 a.m., Guerrero’s debit card was stolen and possibly his phone as well. According to the family and local police, the debit card has been used twice by a person who is not Guerrero. ATM surveillance cameras have reportedly provided that information.
In the city of Minneapolis, missing child reports are handled by the special crimes division. The Wild Hunt did reach out to the department for any possible updates on the case, but officials did not respond in time for publication.
Along with the police investigation, the local community has been out canvassing the area where Guerrero was last seen. Led by Johnson’s close friends and members of the Pagan community, the searches began as early as 10 p.m. Aug. 17, less than two hours after Johnson made her public announcement.
The search parties have been passing out fliers to local businesses and talking with residents in order to gain information on his possible whereabouts. The searches have continued into Friday, but no information has been found.
For people who are unable help with the search, the family is asking for assistance with supplies to support that effort, including food items and water for search party members, and for money to help pay for gas and for printing flyers. Monetary donations can be sent to Johnson’s PayPal address. She has said that all “unused money will be returned.”
A new Facebook page, Find Andres, has been created to help the efforts, and the family is asking for users to share the page and the information widely in hopes of finding Andres.
When asked what else the collective Pagan community can do to help, Johnson said, “Say a prayer to your gods. Send light and love. Light a candle. Send Reiki. Talk to your ancestors. Every type of help is deeply appreciated. Raise up all the helpers and give them strength.”
We will continue to follow this story, and we will update you as news comes in.
[This article was updated from the original at 3:15 p.m with more details about the missing teen.]
(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who condemns white supremacists with greater ease than elected officials.)
The point of these posts is threefold:
Fred Clark: Slacktivist
Froborr: Jed A. Blue
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RubyTea: Heathen Critique
Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse
Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you are ready to tip statues dedicated to horrible ideologies. Or for any other reason, really.
HOLSTEIN, Ont. – As the festival season starts to wind down for the year, organizers of the premiere edition of Occulticon are ramping up to deliver an event that is being billed as “a convention for all things curious, all things occult.”
This new addition to the festival and convention circuit will be held at the Pagan owned and operated Mythwood Campground and Private Retreat from September 8 – 10.
Mythwood Campground is located an hour north of Toronto in Southern Ontario, a region of Canada that already supports a multitude of Pagan, Heathen and Witchcraft related festivals and events. From May until September, the area sees at least one large public gathering and sometimes more each weekend.
Occulticon organizers are promising a unique event and are taking a distinctly different approach to how this new addition to the scene will be presented.
Adam Simpson, the Creative Director and webmaster for Occulticon, outlined the main difference.
“Occulticon isn’t a Pagan event. It will include Pagan elements, but we’re casting a much wider net. We’re hoping to attract visitors from many diverse belief systems, as well as those simply curious about experiences outside of the spectrum of the everyday. We’ve spread the word throughout Ontario, as well as New York and Michigan.”
A detailed schedule will be released closer to the date, but organizers are promising that visitors can expect presentations and lectures on a wide range of topics such as parapsychology, secret societies, ghosts, magick, Witchcraft, astrology, tarot, psychic training, a seance live music performances and more.
In addition to the programming, there will also be vending, a psychic expo and a chance to watch blacksmiths at work creating magical tools.
Rounding out the program will be opportunities to participate in ritual and ceremony.
Frater Archeus will host a High Magick Ceremony during which participants can experience the traditional rites of a practicing ceremonial lodge and initiatory society.
Witchdoctor Utu along with members of the Dragon Ritual Drummers and friends will be consecrating a new permanent altar on Mythwood land with a voodoo ceremony for Harriet “Mama Moses” Tubman and the spirits of the Underground Railroad.
A Sara Kali ceremony led by John Corvus, called “Taking the Cloth” will celebrate the continuation of one’s lifelong dedication to be the magical link of their community.
Addressing this diversity, Simpson said, “Although the convention is non-denominational, it will have an impact on the Ontario Pagan community. This is an opportunity for knowledgeable Pagans to share their thoughts and experiences with a much wider audience.”
“Occulticon will be a gateway for newcomers interested in Paganism, but not knowing where to start.”
The mandate of Occulticon is to support the pursuit of knowledge, history, and ancient religions, with an interest in exploring the mysteries of the universe in a way that supports diversity and respectful intellectual exchange. Courteous discussion of how differing philosophies can bring people together is encouraged.The original idea for Occulticon came from Khaman Mythwood, one of the owners of the campground. He now serves as the executive director of the event. His personal desire to share the mysteries and hidden aspects of occult practice motivated him to share his vision with the wider world:
“Our patrons at Occulticon can expect to experience something rare and usually unseen to the general public. Experts on the occult from around the world will be sharing their knowledge through lectures and presentations. They will take an academic approach to reveal secrets and hidden knowledge to those who truly seek to better understand the mysteries of life.”
The diverse lineup consists of more than two dozen guest speakers, not only from the local area, but from around the world as well.
Local talent such as Ecstatic Ritualist and the events Master of Ceremonies, Jim Findley, psychotherapist, storyteller and pagan chaplain, Brian Walsh, Romani Wayfairer and Divination practitioner, John Corvus and Witchdoctor Utu of the Dragon Ritual Drummers are but a few of the faces that have been long time contributors to the local communities and events in the area.International guests include Ian Corrigan, former Archdruid of the ADF who will be traveling from the United States to speak about Archaic Goetia and the Grimoire Revival. Tata Manuel Congo, a well-known ethnologist, occultist and educator, will be making the long trip from Italy to speak about Italian Witchcraft.
The onsite talent coordinator Pamela Fletcher is a well-known and respected priestess and longtime organizer. She has been previously involved with Kaleidoscope Gathering and Gaia Gathering, as well as many other events.
Of this new endeavour, Fletcher remarked, “Occulticon, like some other larger Pagan events, is going to be extremely inclusionary and will have a very broad appeal across many spiritual paths and walks of life. The speakers will be presenting unique and diverse information that anyone, no matter how long they have been on their spiritual journey, will find interesting.”
In addition to the academic-style presentations, world-class entertainment is also being planned including traditional Celtic storyteller Brian Walsh, fiddler Ben Deschamps of the Heather Dale band, and and a special Scottish Bagpipe presentation. It will also include a psychic fair and vendors’ market.”
Mythwood added, “We are proud to host Witchdoctor Utu and the amazing Dragon Ritual Drummers, voted Canada’s number one Pagan hand drumming group.”
Occulticon 2018 is already being considered, and plans are in the works for the next edition.
“We are very excited for the future of Occulticon. It gives us the opportunity to learn and share our knowledge of the occult in a safe open environment with respected Elders and occult experts,” explained Mythwood.
“We already have some amazing things lined up for next year that we just couldn’t fit in the schedule for 2017.”
Simpson’s passion for showcasing his home community and public service is apparent. He said, “It’s time for the Ontario Pagan community to show the greater world what we have to offer. Occulticon is a step in that direction.”
“For newcomers who are interested in Paganism, we can help point them to any number of places where they may be able to find the answers they’re seeking. For veteran members of the Pagan community, Occulticon is an opportunity to learn outside of our traditional milieus. There will be new faces, and you’ll get to see a different side of those you already know and love.”