Posted by Karl E. H. Seigfried


“These are radical Islamic terrorists, and she won’t even mention the word, and nor will President Obama. He won’t use the term radical Islamic terrorism. Now, to solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name.”

So said Donald Trump back in his second presidential debate with Hillary Clinton. Leaving aside the fact that Clinton had publicly used the terms radical jihadism and radical Islamism four months earlier, is the larger point valid? To solve a problem, do we have to be able to state what the problem is? It seems logical.

Candidate Trump is now President Trump, and he is transforming his campaign promises into executive orders. Remarks that may have seemed offhand or exaggerated during the campaign have now been revealed as literal statements of intent.

Also, the president doesn’t seem to be able to leave the campaign behind, either psychologically or politically. He continues to hold campaign-style rallies and to attack both Clinton and Obama on Twitter. The issues of Russian interference in the campaign and Trump’s complicity in the meddling continue to grow and multiply.

Furthermore, terrorism continues to be a major issue in the United States. Not necessarily the committing of terror attacks, but the fear that they will be committed drives much of our domestic and foreign policy. Isn’t that what terrorism does? It creates fear and lets the fear do the work.

So, let’s take the president at his word and follow where his words lead.

Resolved: In order to solve the problem of radical religious terrorism, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name.

What is terrorism?

The federal government of the United States has several definitions of terrorism currently in use, but they largely agree on the concept.


The U.S Code of Federal regulations is straightforward, stating that terrorism is “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” The USA PATRIOT Act states that domestic terrorism consists of “activities that (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the U.S. or of any state; (B) appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.”

Since Mr. Trump was specifically speaking of terrorism in connection to a religion – and since he continues to do so on a regular basis – let’s look at two definitions that specifically mention faith.

The U.S. Department of Defense definition of terrorism states that it “is often motivated by religious, political, or other ideological beliefs and committed in the pursuit of goals that are usually political.” The U.S. National Counterterrorism Center definition of a terrorist act includes the idea that it is “politically motivated, potentially including religious, philosophical, or culturally symbolic motivations.”

We can combine all of the above and state a definition like this:

Terrorism is (1) an illegal use of violence against persons and/or property that is (2) intended to intimidate civilians and/or coerce government to (3) effect social and/or political goals and is (4) driven by political, philosophical, and/or religious motivations.

What is radicalization?

The FBI defines radicalization as “the process by which individuals come to believe their engagement in or facilitation of nonstate violence to achieve social and political change is necessary and justified.” Javed Ali, Senior Intelligence Officer for the Department of Homeland Security, defines it as “the process of adopting an extremist belief system, including the willingness to use, support or facilitate violence as a method to effect societal change.”

The philosopher Julian Baggini added a clear moral stance to his definition, writing that radicalization is “a process by which people come to freely choose a dangerously and wickedly misguided path that they nonetheless perceive to be a virtuous calling.”

We can combine these statements and define the term like this:

Radicalization is (1) the process of freely choosing a belief system that (2) accepts the use of violence as a justified and/or virtuous means to (3) effect social and/or political goals.

What is radical religious terrorism?

We are now able to state what the problem is or at least say the name. The synthetic definitions of terrorism and radicalization above clearly have much in common. We simply need to combine them and emphasize the religious element.

Radical religious terrorism is (1) an illegal use of violence against persons and/or property that is (2) intended to intimidate civilians and/or coerce government and is (3) driven by a freely chosen religious belief system that (4) accepts the use of violence as a justified and/or virtuous means to (5) effect social and/or political goals.

We’ve now stated the problem and said the name. Since the goal is to solve the problem of terrorism, let’s examine the incidents in the United States that fit the definition of radical religious terrorism.

Who commits acts of radical religious terrorism?

To make the data manageable, let’s limit ourselves to events (1) in the twenty-first century consisting of (2) completed attacks (3) in the United States that led to (4) injury and/or death and/or (5) property damage by (6) known perpetrators with (7) stated religious motives and/or allegiances.

Due to extended and repeated coverage by the media, we all know about the attacks by Muslims. We know about the perpetrators, their backgrounds, their beliefs, their connections, and their investigation by local and federal authorities. If we admit only those attacks that fit both the stated definition of radical religious terrorism and the data limitations just stated, there have been eleven instances of radical religious terrorism connected to Islam.

In 2001, the massive attacks on 9/11 were part of al-Qaeda’s declared holy war on the United States.  Similarly, the perpetrators of the shootings at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle (2006), Little Rock’s military recruiting office (2009), and the Fort Hood military post (2009) all declared that their religious beliefs and allegiances motivated their violent actions. In 2013, the Boston Marathon bombers said that they wanted to defend Islam, and the man who committed the beheading at Vaughan Foods (2014) claimed that “Sharia law is coming” to the United State. He had posted a sign online stating “Islam will dominate the world.”

Then, in 2015, the perpetrator of the Chattanooga shootings declared he wanted to become a Muslim martyr; the man who committed the University of California, Merced stabbing attack possessed ISIL propaganda and visited extremist websites in the days leading up to the attack. Similarly, the married couple behind the San Bernadino shooting were, according to FBI Director James Comey, “talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom” before ISIL referred to them as “soldiers of the caliphate.” The next year, in 2016, the shooter in the Orlando nightclub pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIL during that attack, and the shooter at Ohio University was also inspired by ISIL and the Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

I give none of the names of the criminals, because I believe we should not give these murderers the glory they so fervently sought. However, their names are well known through the in-depth and long-term coverage by U.S.mainstream media. The stories of these atrocities have been played and replayed for our consumption – not merely by the media, but by the politicians who seek to use them to further their own ends.

Who else commits acts of radical religious terrorism?

If we apply the same parameters, but broaden our search beyond acts committed by Muslims, there have been seven instances of radical religious terrorism connected to Christianity. Almost all of them were attacks on health clinics that provided abortion services.

In 2000, a Catholic priest drove his car into the Northern Illinois Health Clinic, then chopped at the building with an ax. Similarly, after watching a video of abortions on a Catholic television channel, a man drove a truck into the St. Paul Planned Parenthood clinic on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling in 2009. He then waited for police while holding a crucifix and shouting verses from the Bible. Also in that  year, physician George Tiller – who performed late-term abortions – was murdered by a writer for Prayer & Action News who considered himself a member of the Army of God, a Christian terrorist organization involved in crimes ranging from property damage to murder.

In 2013, a deacon of the evangelical Clearnote Church used an ax to smash windows, doors, and computers at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bloomington, Indiana – an act he attributed to his religious beliefs. In the following year, the perpetrator of the Overland Park Jewish Community Center shooting spree had a long history of anti-Semitic, racist, and homophobic statements driven by his reported belief that “White Christians represent the best of our Race” and his desire for “a White Christian state of our own.”

The 2015 mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs was by a self-proclaimed “warrior for the babies” who was an outspoken poster of online religious screeds and who claimed that attacking abortion providers was doing “God’s work.” In 2016, yet another Planned Parenthood clinic was attacked, this time in Columbus by a woman who vandalized the building with an over-sized text reading “SATAN DEN OF BABY KILLERS GOD SEE ALL – MARK 9:42.”


[Wikimedia Commons.]

Seven is obviously less than eleven, but the number of acts is noteworthy. If Mr. Trump is a man of integrity, shouldn’t he be calling for politicians to say the words radical Christian terrorism?

The number of these incidents has been greatly restricted by the limitation to incidents by known perpetrators. When searching for terrorist acts connected to Islam, it became clear to me that the perpetrators were known, their motives were investigated, and they were either killed or apprehended by police. This was not always the case when turning to records of attacks on abortion providers – the target of 86% of the Christian-connected cases discussed above.

Since 2000, there have been four unsolved incidents of arson and two unsolved bombings. Given the clear connection between radical Christian beliefs and the incidents that have been solved, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that these may also have been acts of radical Christian terrorism. If they are, the number of incidents would be thirteen.

The amount of victims can’t compare to the mass amount of murdered individuals on 9/11 alone, but the number of incidents is not insignificant. Is this number telling the whole story?

Looking at the wider picture

The National Abortion Federation has published statistics on “incidents of violence & disruption against abortion providers in the U.S. & Canada.” We are now clearly moving beyond the data limitations set above, but the numbers should give us some sense of the wider issue of radical Christian terrorism, given the fact that – according to – “most of the violence [against abortion providers] appears to be mainly criminal activities by individual religiously-motivated individuals acting alone” but also shows “a degree of organization and conspiracy” since the 1990s.

According to the NAF, between 2000 and March 2008 (the end point of their statistics) there were 14 acts of arson, 56 cases of assault and battery, and 494 cases of vandalism, in addition to very high numbers of acts that don’t rise to our definition of terrorism like anthrax threats, stalking, and trespassing. In total, there were 3,080 incidents during the years reported.

Not all of these incidents were in the United States, and not all fit our definition of terrorism. However, even if we only count arson and assault and battery, we still have 70 cases. Since the NAF report doesn’t distinguish between Canada and the United States, let’s assume only half were in the United States (which is probably overly fair, given the American religious scene). We still have 35 incidents, which is far greater than the number of Islam-related attacks for the same period.

The fudge, you say

At this point, the thinking reader will point out that I’ve fudged what sort of data I’m discussing. The thinking reader is, as always, absolutely correct.

We started with a clear definition of radical religious terrorism and found examples connected to both Islam and Christianity. The problem is that there is a great difference between how Islam- and Christian-related acts are viewed in American society.

In general, right-leaning media outlets and politicians are comfortable using the term radical Islamic terrorism but never use the term radical Christian terrorism. It was reported last month that the Trump administration sought to change the “Countering Violent Extremism” program to “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” therefore removing non-Muslim extremists as forces to be countered. Reuters pointed out that this change “would reflect Trump’s election campaign rhetoric and criticism of former President Barack Obama for being weak in the fight against Islamic State and for refusing to use the phrase ‘radical Islam’ in describing it” – exactly the campaign issue addressed at the opening of this article. The problem is being stated and named, but only in regards to one religion. The other religion is being actively erased.

In contrast, left-leaning media outlets and politicians are uncomfortable using either the term radical Islamic terrorism or the term radical Christian terrorism – unless the latter is brought up to criticize the hypocrisy of right-wing obsession with the extremists of one religion and simultaneous disavowal that the other religion can have extremists at all.

And there is the nub of the problem. Many before me have pointed out that, when a Muslim commits an act of violence, the media and politicians are quick to point to Islam as the motivating factor. When a Christian commits a parallel crime, the same pundits refuse to even entertain the idea of belief as motivator and immediately turn to the tropes of the mentally ill loan wolf.

Yet there may be a locus of mental illness and lone-wolfishness that makes one particularly susceptible to radicalization by the extreme ends of any religion. Despite our current national dialogue, the fact that someone is struggling with personal issues in no way negates the influence of radical religion on their chosen actions.

The problem is that, in the case of Islam, mental illness is almost portrayed as part of the religion itself – someone like Trump talks about the religion as if the faith itself were a sickness, and that is exactly why the term radical Islamic terrorism can be so inflammatory and divisive; it tends to be heard as an indictment of all practitioners.

The reason I widened the scope when discussing radical Christian terrorism is that we are faced with a lack of journalistic and political will to address the issue in the same way we face incidents involving Muslim criminals. Beyond that, we are faced with what seems to be a lack of will of law enforcement to devote the same forces and attention to tracking down those who commit crimes against abortion providers as they do to, for example, those who commit crimes against military recruitment offices.

Almost every case involving Islam results in death or arrest of the perpetrator, everything about the incident is covered in detail by the media, and national-level politicians speak out to condemn the violence. In the cases involving violence against abortion providers – clearly the central target of Christian violence – we find many crimes that go unsolved, are only reported at the local level, and receive no comment from major politicians.

Without this attention, it is difficult to say for certain whether the incidents were motivated by Christian beliefs. So, we are left to examine statistics provided by advocacy groups and wonder what’s really going on.

What can we do about all this?

The old argument by all religionists is that no true Muslim or Christian would commit these violent acts. The fact remains that the specific incidents detailed above were all committed by people who were very open about their religious beliefs as the motivation for their actions.

The dictum in religious studies is that we can never truly know what another person believes; we can only go by what they do and what they say. So, if an individual blows up an abortion clinic and says he did it because God wants him to save the babies and scare women away from visiting the clinic, that’s all we have to go on. That means that the person who committed the act is a radical Christian terrorist. It doesn’t mean that all Christians are terrorists or that all Christians believe in violence as a means of expressing their beliefs. It simply means that this person committed this act and stated that his religious beliefs were a motivating force.

So, we all need to be honest and fair. We need to be able to say that religion plays a role in violence, and not always run to the excuse of mental illness. We need to be willing to say this, regardless of which religion is involved in a specific case.

But we can’t do this alone. We need our media and our politicians to focus on all cases where religion may be involved, and to report and talk about and prosecute them equally. Specifically, since abortion providers are the preferred target of Christian violence, we need to shine a light on these crimes and bring them to the same national attention and level of investigation that we do for other terrorist activities. Only then can we know what’s really going on.

Religion can be a wonderful solace to the individual in need. A religious community can provide support for the person who would otherwise suffer alone.

Religion can also be a dangerous enabler for the individual looking for a violent outlet. A religious community can enable the worst instincts of the person who might otherwise never take up a weapon.

All of us need to face the dark corners of our wider religious communities, rather than simply declare that the extremists have nothing to do with us. We must examine what we ourselves are putting out into the world with our own rhetoric, personal conversations, and public statements. We all must ask if we are sending messages that can be picked up and interpreted – rightly or wrongly – as calls to violence.

If we are not willing to do any of this, our own loved ones may be the next ones taken away in body bags.


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The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.

Posted by Manny Tejeda-Moreno


I have trouble watching Cabaret, the 1966 musical that choreographer Bob Fosse would direct in an Academy Award-winning film 1972. It’s a scary work of art.  Cabaret is set in the Berlin of the Weimar Republic in 1931, a city and time at the height of a joie d’vivre during a wave of liberal attitudes; resplendent with what we might think of as libertine or even Pagan approach to life and sex. The film opens with the catchy song Wilkommen by the carnivalesque master of ceremonies singing:

Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!
Fremde, étranger, stranger
Glücklich zu sehen,
Je suis enchanté,
Happy to see you,
Bleibe, reste, stay.

The words are hallmarks of hospitality, but the moment is pregnant with a tremendous dread that would culminate in the Holocaust. No matter how I use the film in class or workshops, no matter how much I enjoy the music, that gravid terror always looms for me. Some of my ancestors fled Nazi Germany; and if I had been alive then and there, there’s little chance I would have seen the end of World War II.

I recognize the fiction of Cabaret, and yet that ominous backdrop of a changing world that is inexorably shifting to the right echoes in our present moment. Now to be clear, this is not an opinion essay about President Trump and what his administration will unleash, might unleash or is unleashing. I lived through the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, and through ACT-UP, I learned what we are capable of in resisting callous administrations. We overcame, for example, the Reagan administration’s convenient blindness from regressive fervor while they witnessed hundreds of thousands — later millions — literally die around us. This essay is not about the current cabal of White House stooges and their myopic and hypocritical allies in Congress.

This essay — I hope — is about a shift away from the Enlightenment values that undergird the modern civil and secular society in which most of us live. It is important to us because all modern Neopaganism is rooted in the Enlightenment. I am certainly aware that many of our traditions invoke a lineage that predates the 17th century, but the Enlightenment is itself a culmination of political backlash against conservative forces that dictated not just social order but also the dominance of religion in controlling action as well as thought.

One major accomplishment of the Enlightenment is that it marginalized fanaticism. The period ushered in the elements of deism, the religious perspective that the universe is knowable through reason but also in concert with the presence of deity. This weakened institutions that demanded subservience and obedience. With that, the period also piloted in a worldview that personal discernment was a powerful force for learning about our world and ourselves.

[Photo Credit: Bonnie Jacobs via Wikimedia]

[Photo Credit: Bonnie Jacobs via Wikimedia]

As the Enlightenment raged the values of dissent, self-expression, personal enterprise and thoughtful criticism were enshrined as modern ideals. The Declaration of Independence, for example, is imbued with Enlightenment ideals. These views and ideals tore at the dominance of the religious establishment in the West and validated other ways of understanding the universe as well as living an ethical life. The Enlightenment opened the well that made — in my opinion — modern Paganism possible: it heralded our Risorgimento.

But now, a backlash has begun. We are witnessing something more complicated than a retaliation against intellectualism and reason. The de-funding of the National Endowment of the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts are the first projected casualties of that war. The NEH and NEA are the modern homes of Calliope, Clio, Euterpe, Melpomene, Terpsichore and Thalia, six of the nine inspirational goddesses of Hellenic religion. Solon, the Athenian poet and statesman, saw them as necessary for a good life and a good society. Clearly, destroying the muses leads to ignorance and a people easily controlled by aristocrats.

Other Pagan values are being assaulted. We are witnessing revulsion toward hospitality, consensus and inclusion, and a dismantling of the institutions charged with protecting the Earth. In a way, I feel that we are witnessing the manifestations of spiritual warfare against that Pagan resurgence.

“Spiritual warfare” is a precise term of art. It is a Christian concept referring to resisting and rebelling through prayer, anointing, exorcism and other techniques against preternatural evil forces that embolden and underpin Satanic control of the world. It is the use of techniques like exorcism that validate Christian authority over evil, as well as serve as badges of righteousness. Ephesians 6:10-18 describes the components of the armor of God — belief, righteousness truth, etc. — in preparation for spiritual battle to promote faith salvation and, ironically, peace. Fundamentalist and evangelical Christians underscore their responsibility to dominate evil by pointing to Matthew 12:27-29: “And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and steal his possessions, unless he first ties up the strong man?”

You, dear reader, are that strong man.

The logic of spiritual warfare has been used to subdue idolatry from ouija boards to Native American art to awens; and, of course, more famously, in the hunt and murder of women accused of witchcraft. The arsenal of spiritual warfare was invoked in the 1980s during the Satanic panic episodes of unsubstantiated ritual abuse. It use has a single objective: power.

That has set the stage for the present. The rise in liberal and secular values has been framed as an assault on the spiritual welfare of a Christian majority. While this is certainly not the philosophical position of many Christians, especially the many from liberal denominations and orders within Christianity, a vocal minority of Christian evangelicals from nondenominational traditions are decrying what they perceive is a conspiracy to suppress their beliefs, and that capitulating to that conspiracy is nothing less than rebellion against the divine. Just as there is no such thing as persecution of Christians in the West, there is no conspiracy to subvert Christianity, but the utility of that myth is not lost to evangelical leaders.

Like in Lord of the Flies, paranoia and the belief in demonic council have led to a societal retreat from reason through the fabrication of a mythic “beast” that is lurking on the island. The fictional beast is slowly adopted as reality and used to establish control and obliterate anti-authoritarian opposition, ultimately with violent consequences. That cautionary tale of tribalism is slowly becoming a documentary of reality.

You, dear reader, are also that beast.

The spiritual warfare must not relent. I have heard “I’ll pray for you” far too many times this year. It’s not a sentiment of concern, it’s an aggression, and it must be clearly and unquestionably labeled as such. Aggressive prayer is not intended as a compassionate action but rather a violent one; an action where who I am is obliterated and replaced with a “believer” who champions a specific brand of Christianity. It may be something between Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Stepford Wives. “I’ll pray for you” is as much code for “we’re watching” as it is for a spiritual militaristic operation. It underscores our otherness and a deep distrust of our non-conformity. It says nothing less than “you are targets.”

I’ve also witnessed a rise in propaganda. Driving to a festival this past weekend, every billboard for almost 100 miles was reinforcing that submission to Christianity is the only choice for a constructive society and eternal life. One cautioned that being anti-God is a form of treason. Another one showed Jesus’ return that is prophesied in the Revelation, only this time with Marines, tanks and weapons of war. To Pagan eyes, they also said, “You are a danger.”

These are far cries from the central ministry of peace that Jesus taught, yet they now pervade the consciousness of many fundamentalist strands of Christianity, especially those with little to no history in managing diverse populations in their communion. These are far cries from the central ministry of peace that Jesus taught, yet, they now pervade the consciousness of many a Christian.

Most disturbingly, there has been a rise in anti-Semitism hallmarked by violence.  These are attacks on all communities of faith, including ours. They are nothing short of abomination.

Now, while the memories bound in my DNA from my ancestors are whispering that these are becoming dangerous times, they are also whispering that fundamentalism — in any religion — is an illness worthy of compassion. Solutions to fundamentalism like satire, education, shaming, pity and reason have been consistently failing, but I do remain resolute that Enlightenment values will guide us to solutions.

Apollo and the Muses by Baldassarre Peruzzi [public domain].

Apollo and the Muses by Baldassarre Peruzzi [public domain].

Principal in manifesting those values is our interfaith work. I am convinced that we must bring our interfaith work more solidly to our forefront. The challenge of any religion is to avoid looking inwardly to the point of blindness.

Now, I should say, that I’m personally terrible at interfaith work, but I try. I am far too quick to have my eyes glaze over when Abrahamic dogma is presented as singular, universal truth. I’m no good at prayer breakfasts, trust me, yet I also know so many nuns and sisters eager for dialogue. Not for conversion, but for conversation. They want to better understand the complexity of faith and the human experience. They are both a blessing as well as a counter pole to the religious fundamentalism pervading American evangelicalism.

These women highlight that our dialogue is not just worthwhile, but that in these times, it is critical. They recognize that interfaith does not mean just talking among different strands of Abrahamic religions and denominations; they strive for inter-religious dialogue. We might do well — on a personal level — to consider all invitations for such dialogue, accepting every opportunity as a gift from our muses. They are powerful allies, and we can add our own powerful resources. We can support and honor our Pagan elders who engage in interfaith dialogue by learning from their tremendous experience in the conducting such complicated yet essential work. They not only possess astounding experience and commitment but they also carry tremendous wisdom. Their knowledge, skill and work are forging stronger, more diverse communities of faith that are both wiser and safer.

I’m not disheartened, but I am concerned. The social climate feels like it has turned more severely against us, but we have the tools and wisdom in our community to turn that tide. It is an act of bravery to reveal oneself as Pagan, and an added act of courage to go further into interfaith work. I also think that bravery and courage are blessings we have in abundance.

Wir sagen
Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
Im Cabaret, au Cabaret, to Cabaret.

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The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.

Posted by Cindy

 Visit Tricia Levenseller's Website Here

OVERVIEW: There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

FORMAT: Daughter of the Pirate King is the first novel in a proposed duology. It is a YA adventure novel involving pirates with a heavy dose on the romance. The novel is told purely in the first person from Alosa's POV.

Daughter of the Pirate King stands at 320 pages. It was published February 28, 2017 by Feiwel & Friends.

ANALYSIS: Daughter of the Pirate King promises to bring readers a tough, female pirate captain who has just a dash of Jack Sparrow mixed in. Considering that pirates – and female ones at that – are rarely found in YA fantasy, I thought I'd give this novel a shot. I mean action, adventure, and a female pirate captain? What more could you ask for?

In many ways, Daughter of the Pirate King is very much a debut novel. I wouldn't say the writing is juvenile, but it reads like it was a first novel and has many problems I've encountered with a first debut novel from an author. Problems such as repetitiveness, inconsistent writing style, a heavy focus on romance when other elements should have been highlighted, telling readers and not showing them things, and a case of trying just a bit too hard to make the main character funny and likeable were some of the things I encountered.

Repetitiveness was a huge issue in this book. Alosa is, as the title suggests, the daughter of the pirate king. While this is a huge part of the story, it is mentioned ad nauseam. I am really not sure we went more than two or three pages without having someone – Alosa or the pirates that 'kidnapped' her – mentioning that Alosa was the daughter of the pirate king. If the pirates weren't saying "We are looking at the daughter of the pirate king", then Alosa was telling people and saying things like, "I am daughter of the pirate king. Do these people know who I am?".

When someone wasn't saying it out loud or Alosa was thinking it, she was reflecting on what being the daughter of the pirate. Her internal dialogue would include memories of being the daughter of the pirate king or thinking to herself that she was daughter of the pirate king. It was just a little bit too much.

The inconsistent writing style wasn't a huge issue, but it was noticeable at times. Most of the book both the narrated sections and the dialogue were written in modern English. Every so often there would be a random old time word thrown in. Something like 'Tis' or 'ye'. It wouldn't have been bad if it was during a conversation, but it was usually done in Alosa's internal thoughts. It was hard to understand why 99% of the time she'd talk normally then have a random old time word thrown in.

The romance issue was extremely noticeable. The novel revolves around Alosa trying to find a map on a pirate ship. To find the map, she gets herself kidnapped. This is what should have been the main focus of the novel, but instead this romance instantly becomes front and center to the novel. The minute the love interest is introduced, our "strong" main character immediately turns to mush. While she is fighting she thinks things like 'wow... why does he smell so good' or when being intensely questioned she thinks 'Oh you are so handsome. I wonder what you are like to kiss'.

Don't get me wrong, romance can be good for a novel and in some points necessary. It just seemed to push everything aside and made what should have been the main plot seem secondary. It is also extremely frustrating when a female character is supposed to be super strong and tough, and then the minute a good looking guy walks in her brain turns to mush and her thoughts center on his smell, hair, body, voice, etc.

Telling and not showing was another huge issue in Daughter of the Pirate King. Almost everything that happened, all the information and world building was told to the readers. This was usually done through very long, lengthy monologues given by the characters.

Some examples of telling instead of showing include the following situations. Alosa is supposed to be this tough, no nonsense pirate captain. How do we know this? Because she tells us that she could beat people up, she could kill, that she is tough. Time and time and time again she tells us this, but she doesn't ever really show it to us. There is a brief fight scene here and there, and she even kills someone, but for the most part her tough persona is developed because she tells us she is tough.

Another example is her training and upbringing with the pirate king. The pirate king was apparently mean, cruel and really hard on Alosa. Readers are never really shown how this happens through memories or anything. Alosa just told us it was rough and hard growing up with him. It would have been nice to see some of the stuff instead of being told everything after the fact.

The last issue was – and this is just a personal opinion – I felt the main character Alosa tried too hard to be a female Jack Sparrow. The stuff she did just came across as immature instead of funny. For example, she is locked up in a cabin. She doesn't want to be locked in the cabin and she is upset. So she throws things on the floor, messes up the maps, jumps on the guy's clothing. When that doesn't work, she then hums loudly while he tries to sleep or makes noises so he can't sleep. Remember – Alosa is the toughest pirate captain, so you would think that her approach to things would be rougher.

In addition to the immature antics, Alosa has a habit of trying to have this witty banter with comebacks to everyone. Most of the time it just seemed like she was trying too hard, but sometimes – rarely – the conversations came across as funny and witty. It almost came across as a parody of Jack Sparrow, but I don't think that was the intent of it.

Even with all these problems, it would seem like I didn't enjoy the book. I wouldn't say that was the case. It was an average read. There wasn't anything that made it stand out and it was a fast paced novel. There were a few twists and turns thrown into the novel, but most of them were easily predictable which sort of ruined the 'surprise' element of them. It is also a debut novel so some of these issues may go away in the future. I believe if the book had been portrayed as more of a romance novel or had things been a bit more polished, it could have taken this novel up a notch and made it stand out.

I do think that there might be an audience for this book, especially if you go in knowing this is going to be a light-hearted, sometimes silly novel with a lot – and I mean a lot – of focus on the romance. However, if you are looking for rip-roaring, action and adventure with rough and tumble pirates, you will probably be fairly disappointed.

The question I am left with is – would I continue with the series? I would definitely give the second novel a chance. I understand debut authors have some kinks to work out and I see potential. I would say to weigh what I said and if you still find it interesting to give it a shot. It might surprise you and be a novel that you enjoy.

Posted by Dodie Graham McKay

CORNWALL, UK – A real-life treasure hunt for a mystical prize of gold and jewels, cast in the shape of a goddess, is about to take place. “The Quest for the Golden Goddess Mia” will be staged across the magical landscape of Cornwall, in Great Britain from April 8-9, 2017.

This event is being held to support the launch of a new book by writer and archeologist, Jacqui Wood. Her book Cliff Dreamers is a pre-historic fantasy novel set 6,000 years ago. It tells the story of a goddess named Mia, who will changes the face of Stone Age Europe. Wood uses her expert knowledge of the history of the time to bring her characters to life, and to set the stage for the four books that will follow in this series.

Jacqui Wood with "Mia" figurine (photo by Dodie Graham McKay)

Jacqui Wood with “Mia” figurine [Photo Credit:Dodie Graham McKay]

Wood has previously written two books on prehistoric cooking, Tasting the Past: British Food from the Stone Age to the Present and Prehistoric Cooking. Both books are informed by her work as an experimental archaeologist and researcher.

She is best known in Britain and across Europe for her numerous television appearances demonstrating ancient cooking techniques. Wood also served as food historian on the much loved and highly acclaimed British archaeology TV series Time Team which was presented by actor and comedian Tony Robinson.

Closer to home, Wood is director of Saveock Water Archaeology. This research centre and field school features its own multi-period excavation site, where students and amateurs can learn how to dig. This facility is located on the land where Wood lives, and was also once the site of an iron-age roundhouse – one that she has meticulously reconstructed.

The name Saveock Water refers to the 17th century hamlet that once stood on the land now occupied by Wood, her work, and her home. This is a relatively modern chapter to the expansive history of this small patch of land in Cornwall, near the city of Truro.

Witch pits dig site at Saveock Water (photo by Dodie Graham McKay)

Witch pits dig site at Saveock Water [Photo Credit: Dodie Graham McKay]

The journey to being published as a fantasy writer began when Cliff Dreamers was written 14 years ago. “I had never written fiction before, but I started Cliff Dreamers on the 25th October and by 11th January I had finished the book of 150,000 words” said Wood in an exclusive interview with The Wild Hunt

“It just flowed from my fingers as I typed and had a life of its own.”

Visitors and students to her dig site became enthralled by the stories, but finding a publisher for her book became the next big hurdle.

“I printed a few copies to give to my archaeology students while they were on my dig for feedback,” Wood explained. “My dig is not exclusive to university students so people of all ages would come for a dig holiday from all over the world. I would give them the book to read.”

“I went down the conventional route of literary agent and publisher, but no one was interested. So I just kept writing them anyway as I sort of felt I had to get the story out.”

It was the enthusiasm of the people who read the stories that led to the first Quest, which was held in October 2007. At the time, she had hoped that this event would create enough media and public interest to attract publishers. The fans were so committed that they donated the gold, diamonds, and precious stones that were used to make the goddess figurine that is Mia.

Wood, who was recently divorced, contributed her wedding ring and diamonds from her engagement ring to the cause.

“We did not know what sort of figurine to make,” Wood remembers. “Then I had a dream at the time, of what she would look like, and sent a drawing of it to my brother-in-law, Kif Wood a brilliant craftsman and guitar maker, to make it.”

The Mia figurine, made of gold and encrusted with diamonds and gems was valued at £10,000 in 2007. Despite the value of the treasure and hard work of the organizers, there was little to no media attention, and the adventure did not attract as many participants as she had hoped.

In the end, the prize was won, and the golden goddess Mia went home with the lucky winners, who were local to the area. At the time they stated that they were merely guardians of the goddess, and that they could not truly own her.

And then, one day when Wood was doing a public presentation, she saw the winners again.

“Five years later I was giving a talk on my dig and two of the winners came up to me and said I should have her back for another quest, as she needed a new adventure, and the book was still not published,” explained Wood.

And so, the golden figurine of Mia, came back to Wood, and has been waiting with the upcoming quest. While Mia has been waiting, other donations have come in, and Mia has some new jewels.

“Years after the quest I had a Der Spiegel reporter on my dig and she read the book. A few weeks after she went back to Germany I got a parcel with a pair of beautiful diamond and gold earrings as her donation to the next quest, so she has two more diamonds on her skirt now.” said Wood.

Reconstructed roundhouse at Saveock Water (photo by DOdie Graham McKay)

Reconstructed roundhouse at Saveock Water [Photo Credit: Dodie Graham McKay]

Mia has even inspired a promotional short film, created, and donated by friends of Wood’s as a way to help get the word out. Shot on location at Saveock Water, the film features the roundhouse and the image of Mia herself.

Details on how to participate can be found on the Quest For the Golden Goddess Mia Facebook page. Participation is limited to 24 teams, and you must sign up in advance. There is no fee for the quest, and registration is on a first come, first served basis.

The Mia quest will begin at the world-renowned Eden Project on April 8, and participants will need to solve clues and follow them out and across the Cornish countryside. Day One will consist of five clues, ending at 6:00 pm. Participants will have the evening to rest and plan for the next day and the final three clues.

The first team back to the Eden Project on Sunday afternoon will be presented with the golden figurine of Mia in a closing ceremony at 4:30 pm that day.

Wood has big dreams for the money that could be earned from her books. The archaeological site on her property in Cornwall is abundant with layer upon layer of rich history and artifacts. The funding to excavate the site is based on whatever she can raise herself, often through the offering of workshops, presentations, and her field school. The proceeds from the sale of her books will also go toward further digging of the site.

The Pagan history of the place is compelling. It was here that Wood first uncovered the international headline-grabbing “Witch Pits.” These exciting series of finds began appearing in 2003 and revealed a tradition of Witchcraft-related ritual activity that dates back at least 350 years. Contained in these pits are animal bones, feathers, eggs, and hides, along with human hair, quartz crystals and, in one case, a piece of broken cauldron. They are believed to be fertility charms in some cases, and curses in others.

The most recent pit was dated to the 1970’s, and it is reasonable to believe that whoever buried the pit could still be alive, or at least a relative of that person could be in the area, and have a memory of what the pits meant.

Parts of the site that have been uncovered so far appear to be some kind of ancient Pagan temple or ritual site, complete with a crystal hearth or altar and a series of ritual bathing pools. But the large size of the site makes it expensive, time-consuming, and labour intensive to excavate.

4_Cliff Dreamers

“If the story of the heart in this quest spreads, the book will sell, and I will be in a position to fund my excavation on my Stone Age ritual dig and make its energy available again as it was 6,000 years ago” says Wood hopefully.

“The publishing deal I have for Cliff Dreamers is just for that book, so I hope if it takes off like it should, I will easily find a publisher for the next four I have finished already.”

Cliff Dreamers is being published by Austin Macauley Publishers and will be released on March 31.

Posted by Juliana Britto Schwartz

On the eve of a historic House vote to take away the ACA, UltraViolet is hosting a call to go over how bad Trump’s health care plan would be for women, and talk through their plan for action in the event of a win or loss tomorrow. You can register here

Will my Latin American mother cry tears of joy at my queer wedding?

Farmworker wages have steadily increased in California, yet there is a labor shortage that will only get worse as Trump deports more and more undocumented families.

Kayla DeVault, scholar and indigenous activist from the Navajo nation explains how tribal communities can help solve the energy crisis.

Sheriff David Clarke’s jail forced a woman to give birth while in shackles.

These researchers are studying how videos of police violence impact Black millennials.



Posted by Terence P Ward

TWH –The explosion of online platforms has been a boon to many in the polytheist and Pagan communities who can now sell crafts, books, and esoteric services more easily than ever before. At the same time, owners of all-sized businesses must be able to accept electronic payments in an increasingly cash-free society. Sometimes, vendors fall afoul of rules against the sale “occult” items or “fortune-teller” services, which now seems to be near-ubiquitous in the industry’s user agreements.

[Photo Credit: Rosenfeld Media]

[Photo Credit: Rosenfeld Media]

The Witchery is such an online business. Its owner, who declined to give a name, was unaware that the popular processor Square is one of those no-occult zones.

In a Facebook post Wichery’s owner, who is a “practicing hedge witch with Hoodoo influences,” recounted being notified of the Square’s decision to cancel the business account.  It was reportedly based on the fact that businesses are “prohibited by Section 6 of the Square Merchant User Agreement,” the most relevant section of which appears to be accepting payments in connection with “occult materials.”

One interesting variant in the regulation of occult sales is the broad text found in the terms for Dwolla, another online payment platform. That site simply forbids “activity that indicates, in Dwolla’s sole discretion, that there may be a high level of risk associated with you.”

The notable exception to the problem often faced by occult merchants is PayPal, which has become a safe harbor of sorts.

When The Wild Hunt reported on Square’s terms of service seven years ago, bloggers were largely giving it the benefit of the doubt, saying that “this is boilerplate text supplied by the credit card companies, and was most likely penned to protect them from liability in cases of fortune-telling scams.”

Indeed, the verbiage used in the Square terms of service today is reflected in that of many other providers, often down to paragraph numbering. The question on whether or not the rules will be enforced has since become clear: violation of those terms can and has led to account termination.

“I think if Square had terminated accounts several years ago before there were 10 other services just like it there would have been more impact,” observed Charissa Iskiwitch of the Pagan Business Network.

“The general consensus in the conversations I participated in years ago was they were attempting to give themselves an out for fortune-tellers.”

In the years since Pagans first raised concerns over the Square terms, selling platform updates also resulted in tightened rules that targeted mostly intangible religious and magical services. The most consequential of these were likely eBay in 2012 and then Etsy in 2015.

As a consequence, vendors must jump through additional hoops to use these convenient services: wording that downplays or specifically disclaims any supernatural benefit, the providing of some kind of “product” in association with a psychic reading (e.g., a copy of the reading in electronic form), or seeking out a high-risk merchant account and continuing openly.

While the cost for a merchant account can be appreciably higher, it is the only viable alternative if tip-toeing around rules presents a philosophical problem. Esoteric service providers may find that downplaying the effectiveness of their work is counterproductive. Not only might potential clients be turned off by the language, it could conceivably erode the power of belief-based magic.

While many people do not fully read online service agreements, a small sampling of Pagan purveyors suggests that most of them are aware of the risks. It’s why Valerie Lord won’t open an account with Square. The term “occult” is too broad, and she’s not sure if any of the Pagan items she sells online would count.

“Until they specify what they consider occult items we will either have to keep a backup available or find something else,” she wrote.



Jason Barna uses both Square and PayPal at Phoenix Rising Apothecary. He also questioned the lack of a definition for “occult,” and joked that he could run into trouble if his athames and bolines were deemed firearms, which are also forbidden for sale.

These issues were news to Ashley Hunter, and she said she’s worried about how it might impact Pagan Pride celebrations such as the one held in Conway, Ark. that she’s helped run.

“This would definitely have a negative impact on us if we attempted to organize another event in the future,” she said. “Events are kept afloat by vendors that sell things, and most people these days use cards, not cash. It would be very helpful if there was a list of alternate providers that don’t discriminate against witches and Pagans so that we would know who to turn to.”

Bernadette Montana, owner of the brick-and-mortar Brid’s Closet, uses Square and has never had a problem with it, she said, despite the many tarot readings performed at her shop.

Anti-occult terms are something Dominique Smith is well aware of, although she doesn’t feel she can do much about it, “I navigate these issues with nothing more than hope and bubble gum keeping things together.”

“I recognize that in using these platforms, service and my ability to use them may be withdrawn by the provider at anytime without notice,” Smith said. “I’ve been lucky enough that the hammer has not found me and I suspect that when other occult retailers are eventually ‘found out’ it’s because a client has complained directly to the point of sale provider and they are forced to withdraw service to avoid litigation. I believe it would be naive to think that Square in particular has any targeted axe to grind with the occult community and without a doubt they are completely aware that businesses such as mine are using their system.”

However, Smith added that because there are still anti-witchcraft laws on the books in Canada, she and other Canadian entrepreneurs “have a harder road to navigate.”

Some esoteric business owners are calling for members of the community to clean house. Commenting on the announcement from The Witchery, one user wrote, “Until the community starts policing itself and outing the folks selling ‘love sex power’ demons ‘trapped’ in rings for $300 and crap like that no one will take any of us seriously. The scammers are giving everyone a bad name.”

Smith agreed, saying, “If we do not want our communities to be associated with the assumption of fraud, we need to self-regulate. If there are individuals within our community that are committing acts of fraud we need to speak up and that typically doesn’t happen, so by association we are all painted with the same brush.”

The Witchery’s owner will be more careful about wording on the web site going forward, and is grateful to have had a backup processor already in place. It was actually only through the process of elimination that the owner determined that it was “occult materials” proviso causing the problem.

For the most part, companies such as these do not respond to customers after such a decision has been made, much less members of the press. An inquiry sent to Square’s press office did not receive a reply by press time.

Psychic Amanda Linette Meder did succeed in getting a favorable response from Stripe in 2012, leading to the conditional approval of her account with that processor. Meder opined at the time that this unfairly inflates the cost of psychic services by increasing the cost of doing business.

On one side, there is the concern about fraud, on the other hand there is the call for religious freedom. The small number of persons affected by these rules may make it difficult to redraw the fine line between the two, unless perhaps all Pagans begin doing business solely with cash.

Posted by Quita Tinsley

In response to a special elections race in Los Angeles, women and people of color are running for political office in record numbers, signifying a potential precedent for diverse candidate pools ahead of 2018 elections.

The race to fill a vacant seat in the House of Representatives for California’s 34th congressional district is shaping up to be Trump’s worst nightmare. Of the 23 total candidates running, more than half of them identify as women, and at least 18 of the candidates are people of color. And if Democrat candidate, Wendy Carrillo, won, she would be the first formerly undocumented woman in Congress.

California is not the only state seeing this new shift: a young Black man is running for mayor in Tallahassee; a Muslim man has made his bid for Governor of Michigan; and a Black trans woman and activist is running for Minneapolis City Council.

According to data released in 2014 by Reflective Democracy Campaign, White men comprise 31% of the population, however they hold 65% of elected offices in the United States. Research also reveals that White men hold eight times as much political power compared to women of color, indicating that more diverse politicians is good not only for the optics of representation, but can have a major impact on the political landscapes for marginalized communities. With more women and people of color in office, we could see more legislation like this abortion pill accessibility bill introduced by Sen. Connie Leyva in California, and hopefully less bills like this transphobic bathroom legislation introduced by Rep. Carl Glimm in Montana. 

Watch this video from Fusion about the LA race and its candidates:

Header via Fusion.

Posted by caroline.catlin

A teenager girl is suing a motel, known as the “local epicenter of human trafficking,” for being complacent in allowing over 1000 men to sexual assault her and many other victims of sex trafficking. This piece published in The Washington Post discusses the Roosevelt Inn, where the teenager girl was kept while the motel owners rented rooms to multiple men and profited off the abuse. 

Reading this story, I was reminded of the endless ways in which violence against women and rape culture are perpetuated by not only individuals, but businesses and institutions.  Even when the man running for president has bragged about and was accused multiple times of sexual assault, politicians stepped forward to protect him. I’ll admit that I felt an immediate sense of relief when I heard the news of the Trump tapes, since naivety had me believing they would finally be enough to disqualify Trump from leading our country. Several months later however, we all still wake up each morning to Trump’s painfully embarrassing tweets and the reality of an accused sexual assailant as our president.

If perpetrators are the flame that ignites rape, bystanders who do not intervene are the fuel that feeds the fire. Add to that a culture that victim blames and discredits survivors, and you have the circle of rape culture — the act of violence, the invalidation of truth, and the compliance of outside witnesses. While the benefits of individual bystander intervention are widely documented and discussed, rarely do we look at the ways that systems themselves allow for rape culture to continue.

Evidence of the way systems interact and allow for rape and assault to be covered up is everywhere. Across our justice system, we see those charged with protecting people get away with just the opposite – from abuse in immigrant detention centers, rape at the hands of Border Patrol agents, or police brutality against teenage girls. When survivors of campus sexual assault come forward, their universities often put the onus on them to avoid their assailants, rather than take meaningful action to stop the perpetrators from hurting anyone else. A department of justice study published in May of 2016 reported that 84% of Native American and Alaskan Native women surveyed have experienced violence of some kind, and 56% had experienced sexual violence. Most often this violence was at the hands of a non-tribal member, yet the justice system available to the women was unable to support them.

Rape culture is systemic. In order for progress to be made, our focus cannot solely be on the perpetrators or the survivors, it has to also be on the forces that enable or allow the practice to continue, as in the case with the motel staff who did not report the abuse happening within their business, or even guests who had concerns about the safety of the teenagers they saw wandering through the halls at night.

I think often of the person who was listening to Donald Trump discuss “grabbing women by the pussy,” and wonder what went through their head at that moment. I think of the person recording, or the person who uploaded the recording into a computer. Of the many different points at which someone could have expressed concern and perhaps called out his comments for what they were. When we talk about stopping rape culture, I believe we have to include these red flag moments and think about where we, all of us, encounter them in our daily life.

Trump’s misogynistic and abusive comments towards women have already been mirrored in the decisions and changes he’s made in office. Within a few short months he’s signed several executive orders that will be devastating for marginalized women, such as making steps to end Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood, both of which will disproportionately hurt women in the years to come. When rape culture and abuse of women is allowed to fuel and aide a person’s rise to power, it becomes reflected in the ways that women’s bodies and rights are ignored, undervalued, and silenced under their administration.

Header image credit: Richard Potts

Savage Love

Mar. 22nd, 2017 04:00 am[syndicated profile] savagelove_feed

Posted by Dan Savage

Curious Minds by Dan Savage

I recently spoke at Curious Minds Weekend in Toronto at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Audience members submitted questions on cards before the show—anonymously—but the moderator, Lisan Jutras of the Globe and Mail, and I were having so much fun talking with each other that we didn't get to many cards. So I'm going to quickly answer as many of the questions from the audience at Curious Minds as I can this week.

My husband and I have been seeking a third for a threesome. After a very palpable night of flirtation, I asked a mutual friend (as we shared a cab) if he would be down for a threesome. He said yes, but I was not about to spring him on my husband that night. So I texted him later about it, and he has ignored me. What should I take from this?

The hint.

A friend's BF won't go down on her no matter how much she asks. She still won't break up with him, even though she told me that oral is the only way she has ever had an orgasm. How do I get her to realize her sexual pleasure is a priority?

If your friend's BF doesn't know oral is the only way she can orgasm, she should tell him. If she told him and he doesn't care, she should dump him. If she told him and he doesn't care and she won't dump him, you're not obligated to listen to her complain about the orgasms she's not having.

I'm a bisexual 42-year-old female with an extremely high sex drive who squirts with every orgasm. How do I deal with friends—even people at a sex club—who think you're a freak because "women aren't supposed to be horny all the time."

If your friends—presumably people you aren't fucking—complain that you're horny all the time, maybe it's because you don't talk about anything other than the sex you just had or the sex you hope to have soon. If people at sex clubs (!) are complaining about how horny you are... either you've accidentally wandered into a yacht club or even people at a sex club wanna talk about something other than sex every once in a while.

My very Christian friend is about to get married. Though she is socially very liberal, she is pretty sexually repressed. I want to do something to encourage her to explore her sexuality a bit before she takes a try at partnered sex. How weird would it be to buy her a vibrator as a shower present?

Don't give your friend a vibrator at her shower—gifts are opened in front of guests at showers—but go ahead and send her one. Tell her it's a pre-bachelorette-party gift.

Two guys divorced in order to bring a third man into their relationship on equal terms, and they now plan to start a family with their sisters acting as surrogates. Thoughts?

Mazel tov?

I am 31. My husband (newly married) is 46, almost 47. He takes FOREVER to come, no matter what I do. How do we speed up this process? My jaw, fingers, etc., are all very sore.

Your husband speeds up the process by incorporating self-stimulation breaks into the blowjobs, handjobs, etcetera-jobs you're giving him. He strokes himself while you take a quick breather and/or an Advil, he gets himself closer, you get back to work.

I'm 47 and my wife is 31. I take a lot longer to come and recover than she would like. Could you please explain to her that it's normal for a man my age to "slow down" and it's not her?

Happy birthday. And, yes, it's normal for a man to slow down as he ages—it's not her—and there are younger men who take a long time to come. But such men need to take their partners' physical limitations into consideration. To avoid wearing out their partners' jaws, fingers, etc., they need to take matters into their own hands. They should enjoy that blowjob, handjob, twatjob, or assjob, take breaks to stroke their own dicks, eventually bring themselves to the point of orgasmic inevitability, and end by plunging back into that mouth, fist, twat, or ass to blow their load.

I have been reading your column since the early 1990s. Since that time, what has struck you in the kind of problems people write you about?

People don't ask me about butt plugs anymore. I used to get a letter once or twice a week from someone who needed to have butt plugs explained to them. But butt plugs have their own Wiki page now, so no one needs me to explain them anymore. But for old times' sake: They look like lava lamps, they go in your butt, they feel awesome, and they typically don't induce gay panic in butt-play-curious straight boys.

Would you share your thoughts on our prime minister, Justin Trudeau?

I think Justin needs to stop fucking around and legalize weed already, like he promised.

When are you going to move to Canada already?

See above.

Polyamory after marriage—is it okay?

For some.

I'm a submissive gay boy. I saw you walk into the theater tonight wearing combat boots. Is there any way I could lick your boots clean after the show?

Sadly, I didn't see your question until after I got back to my hotel.

Straight male here. My best male friend of 20 years transitioned to female. I've been super supportive since day one, but her transitioning is all she ever talks about, and it's getting tiresome. I miss our discussions of bicycle repair and Swedish pop music. How can I tell her to give it a rest while remaining supportive?

If she began transitioning last week, then of course it's all she can talk about. If she transitioned five years ago and it's still all she ever talks about, then you'll need to (gently) be the change you want to see in the conversation. Listen supportively when she discusses trans issues and seize opportunities (when they arise) to change the subject ("So how do you think Sweden will do in Eurovision this year?").

Why are so many lesbians into astrology?

All the lesbians I know are strict empiricists. So the more pertinent question would be this: Whose sample is skewed—mine or yours?

My male partner never masturbates and we have sex only once a week. We've been together four years. I'm a woman. I would like to have sex just a little more, but he isn't into it. Is there something weird about me masturbating a bunch during the week and just having weekend sex?


Dude? Trump? WTF?

ITMFA ( recommended

On the Lovecast, Dan chats with Brian Whitney, coauthor of a book about the "Cannibal Cop":


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Posted by Reina Gattuso

Trump’s tweets are like creepy guys staring at you in the subway—wrong and disturbing, but you can’t pretend they’re not there.

Marx said that Twitter is the opiate of the masses, which is absolutely true in the case of Donald Trump.

They dominate the news cycle, with the latest outrage—and the more outrageous, the better—floating to the top of the heap.

Now on one hand, this makes sense: As multiple sources have argued, the direct-tweet-to-the-people phenomenon does represent a new development in the use of the office of the President of the United States, and it’s frankly a pretty disturbing one. Yet the structure of the news cycle is also such that we pay more attention to the outrage du jour—and less attention to the longer-term, more sinister developments.

Case in point is this new Al Jazeera America video, which reminds us of a scary fact: While were were all busy staring in horror at the racist carnival playing out on Trump’s twitter feed, Congress has introduced over 2,000 bills…and many of them are even more terrifying than Trump’s trolling. Because they, you know, have the potential to become actual laws. For example:

HR 861, which consists of only one sentence, and I quote: “The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

HR 899, “which will get rid of the Department of Education by the end of 2018” (???!!!).

HR 354, defund Planned Parenthood.

HR 785, which would prohibit workers or employers from requiring union membership to get or keep certain jobs, thereby further weakening the already-tenuous status of labor unions.

HR 147, which would criminalize certain abortions.

Of course it’s true that tons of bills are habitually introduced in Congress, only to languish there forever. But we also know that under this government, ideas we once viewed as outlandish (…cutting the entire Department of Education) now seem entirely possible. Which is why we need to be paying more attention than ever, and why we need to resist letting Trump himself control the script—as grotesquely fascinating as his drama is. The video reminds us of the first two rules of this government: Stay vigilant, and believe the autocrat.

Here’s to not letting ourselves be distracted by the hateful rhetoric, and holding the line agains the hateful action behind it.

Image credit: Trump’s twitter :(

Posted by Cara Schulz

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Pagan clergy, prison ministers, and members of the Minnesota Sex Offenders Program (MSOP) took part in a panel discussion at a Midwest Pagan conference on Sunday. The panel was created to assist MSOP members in understanding Pagan communities’ concerns and suggestions about reintegrating ex-sex offenders after they have served their prison terms and completed a lengthy rehabilitation process. The discussion also touched on other persons released from incarceration for felony offenses.

Front Row: Kelly Keller-Heikkila, Ian Keller-Heikkila, Rev. Diallo J Mudd, and Don. Back Row: Clio Ajana at Paganicon 2017 [Photo Credit: C. Schulz]

The panel was moderated by Clio Ajana at Paganicon, the yearly Pagan conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Prison ministry panelists included Ian Keller-Heikkila, a Pagan prison minister since 2004. His wife Kelly Keller-Heikkila, also a Pagan prison minister. Rev. Diallo J Mudd, representing EOCTO, Don with Mother Earth Ministries and a prison minister in Arizona.

There were two representatives with the MSOP, who requested they not be named or quoted as they had not been given media clearance, who were there in primarily an information gathering function.

The panelists first discussed the need for more Pagan prison ministers as the fastest growing religion in prisons is Paganism. They then outlined why Pagan ministers are needed, in particular, in programs that rehabilitate sex offenders.

“Many rehabilitation programs are faith based and you need to accomplish extra steps to be released,” said Don. He noted the lack of Pagan clergy meant that those offenders who had embraced Paganism weren’t able to complete those steps while Christians had extensive resources.

Those challenges don’t end once ex-inmates of any type leave prison. In most states, ex-felons can’t have any contact with the clergy that ministered to them while in prison. They have to find new clergy and new Pagan groups to join. Yet many Pagan groups shun ex-felons, and that is especially true of ex-sex offenders.

One of the audience members was a former prison inmate. He said that he’d been out of prison for ten years and remembers how badly he needed to find a spiritual home. He said that he was always open and honest about his incarceration and finally found a Michigan- based group that welcomed him.

“For those who have never done a day in your life, when you walk into a Pagan event you are shunned. Most of the time you aren’t given a chance,” he related.

Concerns raised

One audience member pointed out that Pagans often meet in peoples’ homes rather than in public places. Another said some Pagans have already encountered predators and, as a group leader, they want to make sure they won’t be re-victimized.

Ian Keller-Heikkila responded, “When you think of a sex offender re-offending, that is very scary. But it’s more likely someone will re-offend if they have no support. If we don’t help them, who will?”

Don noted there is a less than 5% recidivism rate among Pagans incarcerated in Arizona. National recidivism rates for all federal inmates is at 30.8%.

Other attendees voiced concerns over allowing released sex offenders to take part in clothing optional events or be around children.

Panelists stressed that not all sex offenders are child molesters. They may have committed an offense when they were 12 years old and are now in middle age and haven’t offended since. Or a violent felon may have committed a crime years or decades earlier, but have been through counseling and are a very different person now from who they were when they entered prison.

Yet Don also said Pagan leaders need to practice discernment in whom they allow to join their groups, “Something as ministers we need to do, we need to listen to our gut feelings. We also need to listen to our congregation. We have to be willing to do the hard things and sometimes that means saying ‘No, you can’t join our group.’ ”

[Courtesy H. Emore] Pagan Prayer Service in Charleston 2015

Pagan Prayer Service [Photo Credit: H. Emore]

He also said there are some events that ex-felons, especially ex-sex offenders, shouldn’t be allowed to attend, “If you’ve done the work [during rehabilitation] you won’t put yourself in high risk environments. If you are a high risk sex offender, if you hear of an event that is clothing optional, that is a place that a person who has done the work won’t seek to attend.”

Policy examples

Other attendees seemed more open to the idea of allowing ex-felons in their group. One said that the person needs to notify the leader of their new group and have a frank conversations about the nature of the offense and who they are today as a person. If the leader feels comfortable after that conversation, then they are allowed to join. The initial conversation is kept confidential.

In response to a questions about whether or not Pagan religious leaders are allowed to speak with a released prisoner’s case worker, Rev. Mudd said if the person signs a release form, the case worker can speak with such a leader. He said that this can offer better information toward evaluating whether or not a former prisoner is a good fit for the group.

Kelly Keller-Heikkila is a Pagan religious group leader in addition to her duties as a prison minister. She said her group evaluates every prospective member carefully and doesn’t focus on if they have been previously incarcerated or not. “When a new member wants to join our group we don’t ask if they were in prison, we ask what’s their story.”

She said they see if their story sounds good or if they feel the person is hiding something or if it seems inconsistent with their behavior. They look at the person, not if they have a prison record. “Predators can be men or women and may not have been caught yet.”

Becky Munson, who oversees programming and entertainment for Paganicon, noted Paganicon was one of the first Pagan conferences with an official safety policy. She said Paganicon doesn’t vet attendees, and they do have ex-felons who attend the event.

“Everyone is welcome here as long as they conform to our rules.”

Munson added that they do, however, check the backgrounds of any adult who wishes to present a workshop for children. Ms. Munson said, “You can layer your policy and be mindful of your more vulnerable attendees while still welcoming wider populations.”

Ms. Ajana asked how many attendees’ groups had a written policy on violent offenders and encouraged groups to create one as a best practice.

Resource allocation vs a valuable resource

Panelists and attendees both talked about the challenge of already stretched resources being used for something as time intensive as evaluating and monitoring an ex-felon if allowed into a group. One attendee said if they had to choose between evaluating and working with five non-felons or one felon, they need to use their resources on the people who haven’t been incarcerated for a violent offense.

Rev. Mudd said people have to make the call on whether or not they should deal with the issue at all. However, he said ex-felons can be valuable resources for their community, “We have guys in the prison system who have worked with one God for decades. They have valuable information and experience we need.”

Don agreed. “There’s a Gothi I know who, when he calls Odin, Odin is there!”

The Pagan prison ministers summed up what they hope attendees will take back to their groups. They said most ex-felons want to be open and honest about their background, but our community needs to do our part. “Our community needs to do our own shadow work. We need to stand up and say we will welcome them,” said Ian Keller-Heikkila.

Posted by Senti Sojwal

Brown Girls is the web series everyone’s been talking about.

Riding on the waves of fresh, honest storytelling that lovingly explores the lives of young people of color like Insecure and Atlanta, the new show illuminates a Chicago that’s vibrant, youthful, and brown as fuck. Brown Girls centers on the intimate friendship between twentysomethings Leila, a Pakistani-American writer coming into her queerness, and Patricia, an artsy black musician. The web series is revolutionary in its depiction of the deep friendship between two women of color from different racial backgrounds who both get to be fully realized, flawed, funny, and charmingly real people on screen. Where shows like Lena Dunham’s Girls have long faced scrutiny for their lack of diversity, almost every single person from the crew to the background actors on Brown Girls was a person of color.

The result is a show that’s beautifully affirming, that explores everything from sex positivity to queer identity to the perils of modern dating with heart and an inexplicable joy. For this week’s Feministing Five, I caught up with Fatimah Asghar, nationally touring poet, educator, and performer, who wrote Brown Girls and co-created the series with director Sam Bailey.

We talked about the process of being a first time screenwriter, the power of representation in media, why friendship is a means for collective survival, and more! Catch Fatimah on Twitter and make sure to watch season one of Brown Girls if you haven’t already.

Senti Sojwal: I can’t remember the last time I saw a friendship between two women of color from different racial backgrounds at the forefront of a movie or TV show. That seems wild, but I’m wracking my brain and really can’t. Leila and Patricia’s friendship is at the heart of Brown Girls. What was important to you in how you showcased this friendship? Where did you begin?

Fatimah Asghar: I gave a lot of thought to how I would make this friendship textured, and make it full of love. That was the primary, most important part to me — that these two women have a deep friendship, and that is never questioned. It’s a staple for them, no matter what happens, and they always return to each other. As Leila goes through this thing with Miranda and doesn’t know what to do, I wanted to have her and Patricia just lying in bed talking about it. I think that’s such a magical part of friendship for me — in the aftermath of something, just sitting with your friends and like not really saying that much, but just being together. I wanted their relationship to be highlighted, and be strong. The first three episodes are quieter than the fourth or fifth. That’s because I really wanted to show the friendship and relationship that they had, and in different ways. I wanted it to be reflected when Patricia was talking to her mom and Leila was talking to her sister. It was important to me to have the audience hear the family members talking about the friendship, about the girls to each other.

Senti Sojwal: As a South Asian, I was so excited to see the character of Leila as someone who is South Asian and gets to be a complex and full character. She’s coming into her queerness, she’s Muslim, she’s a good friend, she’s having trouble navigating her 20s, and she’s real. I especially appreciated the episode where she comes out to her sister, who was incredibly supportive. If South Asians are ever on screen, progressive is something we rarely get to be. What was significant to you in how you wanted to present Leila’s South Asian and Muslim identities on screen?

Fatimah Asghar: I agree, I feel like I never get to see South Asian representation that feels authentic to me, or nuanced. The thing about South Asian families being presented as conservative is that that’s very real. I don’t want to minimize that. I do think, though, that there needs to be a variety of stories and also reactions within the family. Leila’s sister reacts one way, but they allude to her aunt who might not be happy with her coming out, or understanding. I think with South Asians, and lots of different kinds of brown people, America does this thing where they think of us as the perpetual foreigner. It’s like, oh we can have a South Asian character, but then we always have to show them in the context of the country they’re from. They don’t get to be American. That’s really frustrating. It really erases all the different ways to be South Asian in America. You only get to be South Asian from South Asia. That isn’t to say those aren’t good stories, but it does mean that diasporic experiences are invisibilized. That was the important thing to me — to show Leila as a South Asian American. This is her, going about her day, and it isn’t all about her being from somewhere else. There’s some instances with her aunt, like when she tells Leila she’s got these men in Pakistan she can marry, but apart from that she’s really just an American. That’s something I wanted to make sure was part of her character, and really shown — the way she exists when she’s just being herself, and how American that is.

Senti Sojwal: Do you see Brown Girls as a response to the current political tensions of our time? How are you thinking about the importance of seeing diverse representations of minorities in media in a time of such intense xenophobia and state sanctioned racism?

Fatimah Asghar: The timing of all this was pretty remarkable — it came out right around the time of the Muslim ban and the talk of building a wall. I wrote the show in 2015, so I wasn’t really thinking about Trump when I was writing, but the release of the show coincided with all this stuff around Trump. I feel like I keep hearing this rhetoric of “now is the time”. I don’t believe in that rhetoric, because for so many people it has been “the time” forever, longer than I’ve been alive. I think it’s really hard being a person of color, a woman, a Muslim in this country. And it’s been that way. When people ask, is this a response to Trump? I say, well not really — but it is a response to being a person of color, being South Asian, experiencing heavy Islamophobia, xenophobia, all of that. Seeing rampant racism and hate in my lifetime left such an impression. My art, in a lot of ways, is counter to that. I really wanted to create this show that was a joyous celebration of people of color because it’s so easy to only see yourself in struggle, or only think your worth is tied to your hardship or things you’ve endured. I think it’s so great to see people who look like you laughing, and being allowed to be happy. That’s what I wanted to make and capture. I think that’s also what a lot of people respond to — the messiness of these girls, how even though everything kind of sucks they still love. They still so deeply enjoy each other’s time and company. If you have that, you’ll survive.

Senti Sojwal: What has been the greatest challenge for you in creating Brown Girls? What has been the greatest joy?

Fatimah Asghar: The greatest joy was working with all these incredible people. When I was writing the show, it was my first time ever doing any screenwriting. I had literally never even written a draft of anything before. I was always questioning if people would respond to the show or like it. I think the second we had a read aloud with the actors, everything changed. Sam Bailey, my co-creator and the director, just so believed in this project and wanted to make it happen. It felt like everyone we gathered into this experience responded so well and lovingly to what we were making. That’s one of my favorite things about this all. There’s such a great collaborate artistic community in Chicago, and a lot of people who are excited about the work they’re doing. The environment of being on set was also such a joy. It was so relaxed and it was amazing to have all these queer people, people of color, and women working on set, which is so not the norm. I think a lot of the challenges were just in my own head. Being able to write something for the first time, being able to put myself out on a limb, trying new things. I had spent so long thinking that I would love to write for TV or film, but just thought I couldn’t. Brown Girls was the moment I just decided to be like, fuck it I’m just going to do it. A lot of what I’ve learned is that if you spend all that time in your head telling yourself you can’t do it, you won’t. But if you decide to just try, you never know what’s going to happen! I think that’s a really cool thing to have learned throughout this project.

Senti Sojwal: The response to Brown Girls has been huge. The New York premiere was such a beautiful space of brown and black queer love and community. What’s it been like for you to see the response of your community to this show, and what are your hopes moving forward?

Fatimah Asghar: This started off really small, and I thought, oh, maybe my friends will watch it. Success for me meant that my friends and community would enjoy it. The response to the show has grown so much and really spiraled out of my control! It has been amazing and terrifying. I hope people understand that we had no money and really made this on a tiny budget, that it was my first time writing, that it was the lead actress’s first time acting. We were really creating a space for people to try things they hadn’t before! Sometimes when something is out of your control, you can’t really explain all those things. The response has been incredible. I think it shows that media like this is really important, and needs to exist. Think about the pushback when people of color are cast in major roles — like what happened with Star Wars, or when they cast a black actress as Hermione in the Harry Potter play. People will say things like, this isn’t relatable. It’s so awful that that’s the response there is, because it’s not true and not fair. I think that even seeing the way people have responded to Brown Girls shows that there are so many people who just want to see themselves on a screen. It’s not fair to keep denying people that. It’s such a basic thing — wanting to be seen as human. So many inspiring steps have been taken recently with regard to diversity in TV and film — like Atlanta, Insecure, Moonlight. I feel like it’s showing everyone that the stories of people of color are incredibly important and valuable. I hope things change, that we are doing our small part in showing why it’s so critical that people of color have our representation.


Mar. 21st, 2017 04:24 am[syndicated profile] femslash_today_feed

Posted by kidmarathon

{All For The Game}
- Illuminated in the light by doctorkaitlyn -Allison Reynolds/Renee Walker . **Off LJ Links**

{DCU Comics}
- What A Way To Go by katleept - Harley/Ivy .
- Permanent Markers by templefugate - Kate Kane/Renee Montoya .

{Devil Wears Prada}
- Everybody's Crying Mercypure_ecstasy9 - Miranda/Andy
- Part 2 of Availablechainofclovers Miranda/Andy **Off LJ Links**
- Chapter 11 of Infidelityemeraldorchids Miranda/Andy **Off LJ Links**
- Chapter 4 of One Step At a Timelears_daughter Miranda/Andy **Off LJ Links**

{Harry Potter}
- A Lucky Kiss by digthewriter - Pansy/Ginny.
- femmefest - 2017 Sign Up Post

{Hunger Games}
- And Circuses by silvr_dagger -Katniss/Johanna.

- Leap Before You Look by punch_kicker15 -Jenny Calendar/Nicki Wood .
- LipstickPassionpire88 Faith/OC **Off LJ Links**
- Just The BeginningBetween_A_Dream Tara/Willow **Off LJ Links**
- BurnRandy_Giles20 Willow/Buffy **Off LJ Links**
- Least of Our WorriesLulannie Tara/Willow **Off LJ Links**
- Chapter 2 of Where Do We Go by mixitup - Willow/Buffy
- Chapter 1 of Tabula Rosesusan19 Buffy/Faith **Off LJ Links**
- Chapter 1 A New Lifefmfan1980 Tara/Buffy **Off LJ Links**

{Star Wars}
- Prey by yuri_onna -Phasma/Rey .

{Teen Wolf}
- First Impressions by doctorkaitlyn - Melissa McCall / Talia Hale .
- taste of a poison paradise by doctorkaitlyn - Kali/Violet.

{The Walking Dead}
- Little Intimacies by fresh_brainss -Rosita/Sasha .

Posted by Cindy

OVERVIEW: Princess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

FORMAT: The Valiant is a YA fantasy/historical novel. It is listed as fantasy because of its alternative version of history and doesn't contain any real magic or other typical fantasy elements. The Valiant stands at 372 pages and was published February 14, 2017 by Razorbill.

ANALYSIS: The YA genre has a habit of creating unique, likeable characters, but many books tend to 'fall in line' and follow a bit of a template format. That isn't to say they are bad, just they tend to all play out in a very similar fashion. The Valiant is one of those rare YA novels that starts out with a setup that makes you think you know what is going to happen and how things are going to play out, and before you know it nothing – and I mean nothing – happens the way you expect it to happen.

The Valiant starts off with Fallon training with her secret boyfriend. Fallon is trying a very daring and difficult fighting technique that very few have every accomplished. Learning this technique, and fighting, allows her to follow in the footsteps of her older sister – Sorcha – and become a part of her father's fighting team. Sorcha was killed several years ago in battle and there is a prophecy of sorts that says the same thing will happen to Fallon. Even with this prophecy in place, Fallon still wants to become one of the greatest warriors of all times.

The big day finally arrives and Fallon is set about to formally accept the invitation to join her father's troop of warriors, but things don't play out the way she thinks it will. Her father, instead of asking her to join as a warrior, announces that he has promised her hand in marriage. And who is she promised to? The brother of her secret boyfriend. Fallon is furious and storms out in a fit of rage.

This may sound familiar. A girl in love with a secret boyfriend, promised to the boyfriend's brother, and meanwhile she has her heart set on becoming a fierce warrior and living up to her older sister's huge reputation. It certainly sounds like the same old, same old, but sometimes books have a way of surprising you.

Literally, within the first few chapters, things took an unexpected turn and from there just kept getting better and better. Of course, there were a few things that were predictable or easily guessed at, but for the most part this book had a lot of unexpected twists and turns that made for an amazing story. I don't want to say too many of them because I think the 'unknown' is what made them so great, but things really aren't what they seem.

I will say that if anyone had asked me to describe this book early on, I would have said that it was one of those romance novels that are marketed as alternative historical fiction but are really just about love, romance, and love triangles. The beginning of the book certainly feels like that would be the case, but it turns out differently.

If you are planning on reading The Valiant and aren't a fan of romance, I give you this piece of advice – don't give up. I think, if anything, that is the biggest weakness of the novel, is that it starts off with a major romance almost shoved at the reader, and it isn't really indicative of how the tone of the rest of the novel. I feel people who might have enjoyed the novel could have set it aside because of its almost romance/love triangle beginning.

There are other aspects, besides the unexpected twists and turns, of The Valiant that make it outstanding. Livingston does an amazing job of detailing an Ancient Roman society. Readers aren't bogged down with huge paragraphs of historical context or descriptions, but everything from the culture to the political structure is laid out in a way that is easily understandable. I am by no means an expert on Ancient Rome, but I certainly felt as if I was right there

Another amazing aspect of The Valiant was the actual follow through of creating a kickass female character. Some novels promise that they have this amazing kickass, tough female and by the end of the book I think "I could take her". The follow through just wasn't there. Not with Fallon and even her supporting cast of characters.

Fallon was tough. The world she grew up in and found herself in was tough. She had to do a lot to survive that she never expected she would have to do. The other girls in the sisterhood of warriors were just as tough, just as brutal, and it really helped make this novel what it is.

The absolute last thing that has to be mentioned is the fight scenes that take place in the arena. I am a reader who prefers character development over action/fights, but this book really had me yearning to read more about what happened inside the arena. The action scenes were detailed, but not overly graphic and they were super suspenseful. I honestly felt like I was in the arena watching the women fight it out.

The Valiant is just the first book of a series, but I have to say the way it ends, it could very well be a standalone. There are plenty of adventures readers can be taken on it the future and I will gladly follow along, but it is a complete solid single novel.

The Valiant was a surprising read for me. I wasn't 100% sure what to expect or even if I would like it at all. What I ended up with was an amazing novel that really took me for an adventure and back in time. I can't wait to read the sequel. Give this novel a shot if you are a fan of Ancient Rome, kickass female leads, and action/fight scenes that are realistic.

Posted by The Wild Hunt

269241_415493488489950_1381333520_nCOLUMBIA, S.C. — After the rise in reported cases of vandalism and threats made against U.S. Jewish Community Centers and temples, the Interfaith Partners of South Carolina (IPSC) took immediate action and reached out to the area’s Jewish community. Pagan priestess Holli Emore is on the board of IPSC and attended a February meeting between the organization and a local JCC management team.

“As it happens, they are very worried, as nearly all JCCs are, about enrollment for the summer children’s programs. Without that income, their budget becomes very challenging, and without being able to serve children, there goes their mission, too,” said Emore. The JCC representatives informed IPSC’s board that Jewish centers around the country have had “so many parents pull their children out of the preschool that they are facing closure.”

In response, the IPSC will being help the local JCC with an April festival to show support to the local Jewish community. Emore said that IPSC is also planning to use the event to promote peace and to recommit to its statement “condemning all acts of hate speech, vandalism or violence.”

Emore is no stranger to interfaith work and has been active with IPSC for many years. In fact, it was her Pagan temple that led ritual events outside the South Carolina statehouse during Interfaith Harmony Month. Last year, she organized an event for IPSC called “Facing Fear in our Houses of Worship,” which was precipitated by the Charleston shootings. The event had special guests, including an FBI specialist, the local sheriff, and a Dept. of Homeland Security person from Washington. Emore said, “The FBI is talking to us about organizing more of these presentations.”

“While it sickens me that we must be putting our energy to such activities,” she went on to say, “I am so gratified to be in a position to organize meaningful dialogue, training and publicity that I hope will help mitigate the current wave of nationalistic hatred that is sweeping the U.S. in a way I’ve not seen in my 60+ years.”

*   *   *

17021520_789577604535727_7333287073706792336_nVICTORIA, Aus. — Despite any concerns expressed by Australian Pagans after the release of Robin Fletcher, the local community is not letting the news get in the way of their own celebrations and spiritual work. This past weekend Victoria saw its very first Pagan Pride Day.The event was hosted by the Pagan Collective of Victoria (PCV). It included a picnic, an autumn equinox ritual, short presentations on various traditions, and time to socialize.

According to the website, PCV is “the only non-profit, incorporated association dedicated to providing state-wide community building and networking opportunities for Pagans.” It hosts a variety of events throughout the year, and Pagan Pride is now being added to that robust calendar. Held Mar. 18, the new daylong event was titled Pagans in the Park, a name that corresponds with other PCV events like Pagans in the Pub or Pagans in the Cafe. On the same day, PCV also hosted an evening concert featuring Spiral Dance and KC Guy at a local Melbourne bar.

Ryan McCleod, co-founder of PCV, said, “It was a great success.” Unfortunately, the board’s full report was not ready in time for publication.

*   *   *

Claire-Hamilton-300x243LLANDOGO, Wales – Harpist, author and honorary OBOD Bard Claire Hamilton passed away in the latter part of 2016. In the final years of her life, Hamilton was writing a book titled, I, a Child. As described by her family, the unpublished novel is “a symbolic culmination of a lifetime of creative writing and philosophical thinking.” Since her death, they have been raising money to finish and publish I, a Child so it can finally be shared with Hamilton’s fans.

Claire Hamilton is perhaps best known for her musical legacy. Philip Carr-Gomm wrote, “For all those lucky enough to be present at one of Claire’s performances, she will be remembered for her gift of transporting the listener to other worlds, carried upon the beauty of her harp and the magic of her voice.”

Her bardic talents did not rest with music; she was a published writer and storyteller, specifically focusing on Celtic, Greek, and Arthurian mythology. Hamilton published more than seven books on these varied topics. The book I, a Child is a novel and, as noted on the crowdfunding page, Hamilton’s family intends to “send a copy of I, a Child to each contributor to this campaign once it is published.”  What is remembered, lives.

In other news

  • Pagan Spirit Gathering, the largest outdoor Pagan week-long festival, has announced its 2017 presenters. The featured authors include Jason Mankey, River Higginbotham, Laura Tempest Zakroff, and Kathryn Hinds; the featured musicians are Damh the Bard, Spiral Rhythm, Tempest and Nathanial Jonstone, S.J. Tucker, Arthur Hinds, and Sentinel Grove. “We are looking forward to celebrating summer solstice and Pagan community with this wonderful convergence of Pagan authors, musicians, and performers!” said PSG and Circle Sanctuary founder, Rev. Selena Fox. PSG will be held, once again, at Tall Tree Lake in southern Illinois, from June 18-25.
  • The presenters for the non-academic track of new indoor summer conference Mystic South have also been announced. The featured guests include Byron Ballard, Orion Foxwood, Katrina Messenger, Dorothy Morrison, and the band Tuatha Dea. Other presenters who will be on hand include John Beckett, Jason Mankey, Laura Tempest Zakroff, and Anomolous Thracian. As a side note, The Wild Hunt will be at the Atlanta-based event and is hosting a Thursday evening pre-conference meet and greet for all presenters and attendees. In addition, several TWH writers will be presenting, including managing editor Heather Greene, columnist Manny Tejeda-Moreno, and news writer Dodie Graham McKay.
  • Author Alex Bledsoe has just released the latest novel, titled Gather Her Round, in his popular Tufa series.The book’s write-up reads, “In Cloud County, where music and Tufa, the otherworldly fae community, intermix, a monster roams the forest, while another kind of evil lurks in the hearts of men.” Bledsoe tells another story infused with mountain magic. It is the 5th book in the series that began with the The Hum and the Shiver in 2011.
  • Organizers of Canada’s annual Pagan conference are getting ready for their May event. This year, Gaia Gathering will be held in Calgary and is sponsored by the Calgary Pagan Pride Society. National Board chair Jennifer Taylor wrote, “I want to encourage anyone that may be on the fence about attending to take the risk and just do it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anyone or up are super introverted. We are your tribe! We will smile, shake your hand and maybe even hug you as our way of welcoming you.” This year Gaia Gathering will be held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre from May 19-22.
  • The Salt Lake Pagan Society is calling for submissions for its 2017 edition of Enheduanna, a Pagan international literary journal published annually each Samhain. The editors explain, “The journal is named in honor of the first poet of history, Enheduanna, who lived in ancient Sumer 4500 years ago.” Submissions are due by May 1. For those interested, more information is on the website.
  • Lastly, Happy Birthday to the Atlantis Bookshop. The London-based store is celebrating 95 years of serving the world’s occult community.
Geraldine at work in Atlantis Bookshop Photo: The Gentle Author/Spitalfields Life

Geraldine at work in Atlantis Bookshop [Photo: the Gentle Author/Spitalfields Life].


hth: recent b&w photo of Gillian Anderson (Default)

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