Wiccans Support Troops AbroadHIGHLAND, INDIANA - Wiccans and Pagans often struggle to dispel misconceptions about their beliefs and practices. Continuing and widespread efforts to educate the community at large that Wiccans to not worship the devil or engage in immoral acts have done much to alleviate this predicament. Recognizing that deeds speak more loudly than words, many Pagan and Wiccan groups have chosen the path of activism and community service. The Highland, IN based Wiccan Interfaith Council International is one such organization.
The Rev. Paulette Reynolds co-founded the 85 volunteer strong organization a year and a half ago.
With members scattered over the United States and in Canada, the Wiccan Interfaith Council International "strives to promote greater understanding and appreciation of Wicca through interfaith/intrafaith services, educational forums, and social activism."
Rev. Reynolds explained that the council's social activism focuses on three main venues: supporting US troops deployed overseas, enaging in prison ministry outreach, and honoring Wiccan and Pagan community elders.
Project We Care is a volunteer-driven program to send care packages to Wiccan and Pagan Troops sationed overseas, especially in combat areas, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We're collecting religious items and books for the Wiccan, Pagan, Heathen and Witch soldiers who are fighting overseas in the Middle East," Rev. Reynolds said.
This helps to alleviate the sense of isolation these soldiers often experience. Pagan soldiers often feel that they are fighting on two fronts, as they face hostility not only from insurgents, but also from their own ranks.
"They often hide their pentagrams and pentacles under their shirts," Rev. Reynolds explained. "They don't receive a lot of support in terms of their faith."
Even military chaplains are sometimes reluctant to help.
Rev. Reynolds elaborated by telling the story of one female soldier who told her chaplain about her Wiccan beliefs, "The chaplain turned around and walked away from her."
Wiccan and Pagan books sent to the soldiers are treated with reverence, because of their scarcity, she explained. Titles by Ray Buckland, Scott Cunningham, Ed Fitch, Janet and Stewart Farrar, and Amber K. -- introductory books - are especially treasured as they provide means to educate not only the soldiers but also their military chaplains.
The Wiccan Interfaith Council International's prison ministry outreach program is called Persephone's hand. Rev Reynolds stated that the program's purpose was to send religious books and items to incarcerated Pagans and Wiccans and to act as a liaison between prisoners and prison officials.
Every spring, the council hosts a luncheon to honor regional Wiccan and Pagan Elders.
Rev. Reynolds explained that the luncheon is held "to learn from them, and to let them know that the circle of appreciation is still continuing."
Rev. Reynolds said that the Wiccan Interfaith Council International is a dues free organization. Interested people are invited to visit the organization's website to see how they can become involved.