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This is an important press release, and while I will be far away overseeing an academic conference, I hope any readers in the area will help support this effort.
Silver Spring, MD, October 19th, 2011 Priestesses and priests from the Washington, DC Pagan community will hold a Celebration of the Divine Feminine and Religious Freedom in Lafayette Square Park across from the White House on Sunday, October 30th, 2011, as a protest to the New Apostolic Reformation’s 51-day prayer campaign targeting Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, Druids, Heathens, and other Goddess-worshipers nationwide.
The New Apostolic Reformation is a Dominionist group of Christians preaching that all feminine forms of deity are demonic. The NAR is engaged in a 51-day campaign of imprecatory prayer to create a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in the USA. Republican presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are influenced by the NAR agenda.
Reverend Barry Lynn, United Church of Christ minister and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said, “Some people think the Dominionists and the New Apostolic Reformation are a newfangled movement. I call them what they are: the Religious Right in a new gown. They’re not fooling anyone. This is the same old bunch of theocrats we’ve been dealing with for more than 40 years. It’s the same crew that believes only its narrow version of Christianity is acceptable and pleasing to God. It’s the same collection of people who believe their religion gives them the right to run everyone else’s lives.”
Rev. Lynn went on to say, “I have news for them: Wiccans and Pagans are part of the American religious mosaic, and they’re here to stay. Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison gave us religious liberty – and that means religious liberty for everyone. The followers of nature-based faiths are going to use it because they don’t want to lose it. What could be more in keeping with the great American tradition?”
Katrina Messenger, a writer, teacher, blogger, poet and Washington, DC native, will be the main celebrant in Lafayette Square Park. Ms. Messenger said, “The methods used by the NAR and other Dominionists are founded upon hate, fear, and ignorance. Their demonization of our Gods and Goddesses uses inflammatory language that can lead to violence and discrimination against followers of minority religions. We have choices in how to respond to this threat to our freedom and our faiths. Many are resorting to prayer, some to writing letters, and some to defensive strategies. We decided to honor the Queen of Heaven, the Goddess Inanna, in a public space, and demonstrate the very freedoms the Dominionists seek to destroy.” Ms. Messenger is the founder of Connect DC and the Reflections Mystery School in Petworth.
Event organizer Caroline Kenner is a Washington, DC-born shamanic healer and teacher who now lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. “Nationally, many in our community are appalled by the scurrilous lies about our Goddesses spread by the New Apostolic Reformation. We Pagans are proud American citizens entitled to all the religious freedom granted by the Founders of this country in our Constitution. We are dismayed by the hate-filled rhetoric the New Apostolic Reformation uses, and we wish to show the public that our Goddesses are beneficent and peaceful deities.”
The event in Lafayette Square Park begins at noon and ends at 5pm on Sunday, October 30th, Samhain eve to many Pagans, leading into one of the most holy days of the Pagan year. “Samhain, or Halloween, is the Feast of the Ancestors in some of our Pagan religions. We will invoke the Founding Fathers and Mothers of our nation during our ceremony, along with a multitude of Goddesses from pantheons both ancient and modern. Among our Goddesses will be Lady Liberty and Columbia, the Goddess who stands guard atop the Capitol Building,” said Ms. Kenner. “The New Apostolic Reformation people would topple Columbia from Her pinnacle, and rename DC the District of Christ.”
There will be a number of people offering prayers during the ritual, including a Unitarian Universalist minister and celebrants from several Pagan faiths. After the religious ceremony, there will be drumming, dancing, chanting and energy raising designed to protect people in all fifty states and DC who support freedom of religious belief and practice for everyone. People of all faiths or none are welcome to join the event.
Sacred Space, an annual conference on metaphysics, mysticism and magick, now in its 22nd year, is the sponsor of the celebration in Lafayette Square Park on October 30th. Supporting organizations include Connect DC, Reflections Mystery School and Gryphons Grove School of Shamanism. Individual supporters include Washington, DC Pagan bloggers Hecate Demeter, Literata and David Salisbury.
Site Requirements for
The Celebration of the Divine Feminine and Religious Freedom
In Lafayette Square Park, across from the White House
To be Held on Sunday, October 30th between Noon and 5pm
Because we have chosen to hold our demonstration in Lafayette Square Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, there are stringent security requirements we must meet. We want this to be a peaceful exercise of our rights to freedom of religion and freedom of assembly, the same rights granted to all American citizens by our Constitution.
We do not want violence or arrests to mar our celebration of the Divine Feminine and Religious Freedom. So please come to the event with the intention of avoiding any confrontational behavior or civil disobedience.
There are several different agencies with jurisdiction over Lafayette Square Park, the President’s Park. The Park is covered by the National Park Service’s Park Police, the Washington, DC Police and, because of its proximity to the White House, the Secret Service. Members of these police forces will attend our demonstration, firstly to protect the President and his family, and secondly to protect us from any interference by the New Apostolic Reformation people, or their allies. The police are aware of the possibility of anti-demonstrators at this event.
We will have our own group of marshals on site for the demonstration, identified by red, white and blue ribbons. If you are coming to the event and see anything untoward, whether it is a package lying unattended on the ground or a person who looks like they might cause problems, please speak to one of our marshals immediately. If they decide there is a threat, they will tell one of the police officers.
Some of the prohibitions of the site are very obvious: no ceremonial weapons of any kind, no swords, no athames and no staves. Please respect this. You will be asked to leave the site immediately if you are carrying any weapons, including staves.
The most daunting requirement is that we erect no “free standing structures” on the site. This means no portable chairs, no pop-ups, and the most difficult requirement of all: no djembes can be placed on the ground at any time in Lafayette Square Park.
If you are bringing a djembe to the demonstration, please arrive at the north end of Lafayette Square Park, on H Street NW where 16th Street dead ends, promptly at 10:30am for the security sweep and dog sniff of all equipment. Or you may arrive at noon when the event begins, and wear your djembe on a harness for the entire event. Otherwise, please bring smaller drums, such as dumbeks. And please be willing to allow the Park Police to inspect your drums visually.
Please do not bring any hang drums. As they are metal, they resemble bombs way too much for this site.
If you intend to bring signs, hand held signs with no sticks attached are required. Please make the signs ahead of time: no paint is allowed on the site. We encourage you to make hand held signs if you would like. No signs may be attached to any structure in Lafayette Square Park.
No masks are allowed on site. Face paint is fine, but needs to be done ahead of time.
Please bring your own beverages and food, but not in glass containers. No glass containers are allowed on site. We need to stay hydrated at our Celebration! There may be some vendors selling junk food in trucks on the north and east sides of the Square, but the nearest wholesome food and beverage sellers are two blocks away.
One bathroom stall catering to each gender is available at the north end of the Park, but I’m told the women’s room is not working properly. One block west of Lafayette Square Park, past Blair House on the closed part of Pennsylvania Avenue, is the Renwick Gallery, a branch of the Smithsonian dedicated to American Crafts. There are bathrooms and drinking fountains available inside the Renwick, but the Gallery requires a security check of people’s bags upon entry. And there are some businesses offering wholesome food nearby, including a Starbuck’s, on the next block west from the Renwick, across 17th Street NW, on the part of Pennsylvania Avenue open to traffic.
We will be on the east side of Lafayette Square Park, with the back of our stage to the statue of Stonewall Jackson. We encourage festive garb or ceremonial attire, and please dress for the weather. Please bring your personal items in a backpack you can wear all day. We cannot put anything down on the ground at any time.
There are ample numbers of benches lining the paths of the Park, so there are plenty of places to sit where you can enjoy the ceremony and the drumming. Please do not bring any portable chairs: they are not allowed at any time in Lafayette Square Park.
The nearest Metro stations are the Farragut stations, coming from both Maryland and Virginia. Street parking near the site is usually available on Sundays, and it will be free. There are also garages nearby, but they are expensive, in the $15-$25 dollar range for the entire day
Please be advised: we are expecting media attention from the Pagan press, and we also hope for some coverage by the mainstream press.
Some of us will be adjourning to Mandalay, a Burmese restaurant on Bonifant Street in Silver Spring, Maryland, for dinner after the event. Entrees are about ten dollars, and they will levy a service charge on our group as a large party. Mandalay is a short walk from the Silver Spring Metro station, across Georgia Avenue and one block south from the Discovery Channel headquarters. Mandalay is on the south side of Bonifant Street, halfway down the block from Georgia Avenue.
I apologize for the lateness of this announcement. I know this is a busy time of year for all Pagans. I filed for the permit to demonstrate on August 11, 2011. The granting of the permit took more than nine weeks, and I was not allowed to advance the event during the lengthy wait. Both Maryland senators and my congressman tried to help speed up the process, to no avail.
Please consider joining us on Sunday, October 30th, when we will exercise our Constitutional rights and demonstrate our devotion to our Goddesses in public in front of the White House! We are making history by demanding that the promise of our Constitutional rights be made good for all religions, not just for monotheistic religions. We need your participation to have a successful event.
And thank you for your compliance with the many rules necessary for demonstrations in Lafayette Square Park, the President’s own park! We are privileged to be able to show our devotion to our Goddesses in such an historic location.